Welcome to Shelfie’s very first monthly wrap up where we will talk about the books we read in January of 2017, the posts we made, and the books we bought. This may be a long one, guys. Are you ready? Let’s start with what we read!
I cannot properly express the love I have for this book. I started Labyrinth Lost when it released, but it got swallowed by the “to much to do” black hole that was my life at the time. First, the book itself is gorgeous; the cover is stunning, and there are nice graphic touches throughout. Second- and this was such a pleasant surprise- a bisexual main character. Alex’s sexuality is handled in such a perfect, matter-of-fact way, and I can’t thank Cordova enough to that bit of representation. The world is richly developed, pulling from the traditions of Diaspora religions to create an urban fantasy setting an premise unlike any in recent memory. I think the only reason I didn’t give it five stars was that it was my first book of the year.
Honestly, going from the glory that was Labyrinth Lost to the searing disappointment that was Ivory and Bone was painful. This book has been on my shelf since mid-June; we were going to podcast it, but Caitlin and I both decided against it after reading the first chapter. One of my goals for 2017 is to read all the books I bought in 2016, but didn’t read/didn’t finish, but…ugh. Ivory and Bone promised me prehistoric Pride and Prejudice, and didn’t deliver at all. There are no class distinctions to overcome, nothing really that consistently speaks to the dynamic of P&P. Also, the story is told in first person present, which does not help the narrative. I understand wanting to emulate oral tradition of the era, but, this was a very poor choice on Esbaugh’s part. The only reason I didn’t give this one a single star, is that it is remarkably well researched. I’m pretty sure that, had I not needed a new book to take with me to the doctor’s, Ivory and Bone would have dropped me into a reading slump.
This book saved me from a reading slump. Fear the Downing Deep is a quick read (I read it in less than a day), and it presents a lovely, eerie take on Celtic folklore and myths surrounding the sea. It did present as if it would be a bit more horror in tone, based on the blub, and I think the reviews suffered because of that. While there are definitely some horror elements, it reads more like a horror/fantasy than jump-scare. Marsh does a wonderful job of creating a definite mood for the book from page one. There were a couple of predictable points, and there is, sadly, insta-love, but those points weren’t enough to hurt my enjoyment. The myths tackled by Marsh aren’t often seen in modern fantasy; her nuanced handling of the subject matter is largely why this book snagged that fourth star.
So, I was a bit late to the party on this one. It’s been on my To Read list for months, because TIMETRAVELING PIRATES YASSSS, but I just hadn’t found the time to pick it up. Amazon made it impossible to ignore, however, when they put the ebook on sale as part of the GoodReads Choice Awards promotion. I must say that I had forgotten this was a debut novel until after I finished reading; I wouldn’t have pegged it for a debut at all. The characters, even the side characters, get a lot of development in subtle ways throughout. Heilig’s take on time travel is unique, well thought out, and, most importantly, easily understandable. It’s no wonder The Girl from Everywhere made the Reader’s Choice list. It only has one little thing that kept it out of 5 star territory for me, but it’s a bit spoilery, so I’ll just say it wasn’t anything that hampered my enjoyment of the book.
Okay, so Caitlin and I are recording a podcast on this book in just a few days, so I don’t want to go too crazy here. Still- this book should totally be on your To Read list. Alchemists has one of the most unique hard fantasy worlds I’ve ever seen. There are a few issues with pacing in places, and others that suffer from a lack of proper explanation, so it does have a few problems. If I were reviewing on literary merit, it would probably be a 3 star read. That said, I am completely in love with the world, and it’s Kova’s worldbuilding that earned that 4th star from me.
I had been putting off starting The Finishing School series for years. I first came across them back in April of 2015 when I read The Parasol Protectorate. I probably would still be putting them off if my wonderful sister hadn’t bought me Curtsies and Conspiracies and Waistcoats and Weaponry for Christmas. So, I went out and acquired the first and last books in the series and dove in. Worth it. Etiquette and Espionage is mostly set up, but you meet some wonderful new characters and some old friends reborn. Add in the wonderful Victorian humor and it’s fabulous. Warning: If you are expecting as serious steampunk novel, don’t bother with this one. This series is Tea Punk Comedy at it’s best.
Where Etiquette and Espionage was mostly setup for Carriger’s wonderful world of steampunk assassins, Curtsies and Conspiracies is a glorious romp from beginning to end. With the world established we get to see Sophronia and the crew at their finest. It amps up the action along with developing the cast. I can’t decide if I prefer it over Waistcoats and Weaponry, but it is most certainly close. Also, I need a wiener dog named Bumbersnoot that I can carry as a purse. I’m not the only one that wants that right?
It is extremely difficult to choose between Waistcoats and Weaponry and it’s predecessor. However, this book show you just a tiny glimpse of Lord Akledama, my favorite of Carriger’s Victorian era Supernaturals. So, that is certainly a plus. This novel is also an action packed comedy of manners from start to finish. There is simply no stopping. I had a hard time finding good spots to put it down. Due to that, this was the only book in the series that I read in one sitting. I guess it’s really not that hard to choose since I am talking about this book far more fondly than they other two. I can see where some people would be disappointed as the majority of the story takes place outside of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, but I enjoyed seeing other parts of the world and not just the boarding school dirigible.
Manners and Mutiny was not the ending I wanted for this series. That is not to say that it wasn’t fun, because it was. I enjoyed every minute of it. That said, the end game was not as epic as I had expected it to be and the heavy handed nod to The Parasol Protectorate felt mostly like fan service. That said, Lord Akeldama makes a few more appearances in the finale and he is always a welcome guest star. I had really just hoped to see more from Sophornia and more from Sidheag, but it is true, she makes her permanent exit in Waistcoats and Weaponry. Oh so sad. To be honest, none of the books in this series have anything on Soulless, which is why none of them got five stars. That said, they are a very funny steampunk journey and were well worth my time. Though, they did have the side effect of making me want to read The Parasol Protectorate again. I have managed to push that off, but not for long as I also need to read Imprudence.
I was so excited for this debut novel. The cover is just gorgeous and it sounded like it would right up my alley. Sadly, it was nothing but a disappointment. Like I said in my full review, if you have been keeping up with YA Fantasy in recent years, you have already read this book. The powers are similar to Red Queen, the pacing reminded me of Stealing Snow, and the “twist” at the end was Snow Like Ashes reinterpreted. There was nothing about this novel that struck me as original. Which is super unfortunate because I was really hoping to be wowed. I know many of you were. It just really wasn’t for me.
Dreadnought was a breath of fresh air after finishing Frostblood. It was action packed from start to finish and featured some serious girl power! And if you guys have been listening to the podcast or following my reviews, you know that is something I really like in my novels. It also doesn’t hurt that I am huge fan of all things Super Hero. So, when I heard there was book coming out about a Trangender hero, I just had to read it. And let me tell you, it is fabulous! Move over Captain Marvel! Dreadnought is here! I will have a full review of this beauty up as soon as I can find the right words to explain just how much I enjoyed it. That is taking longer than expected.
I had been looking forward to The Alchemists of Loom for months. I am a bit of an Elise Kova Fangirl. I even joined the Guild Games (Alchemists FTW), which had to be one of the coolest pre-release marketing events I have ever seen. I am so happy to say that this book did not let me down in anyway. There were some issues I had, that I will discuss in the upcoming podcast, but Kove didn’t fail to deliver her signature chemistry. Not to mention the fact that her world is remarkably unique. I haven’t read anything quite like The Alchemists of Loom. I really can’t wait to tell you guys more about it on the podcast!
Now, moving on from what we read last month, which was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. We want to talk about the amazing books we bought! Get ready for the Shelfie haul!
Caitlin went a little overboard this month and bought seven books. Don’t worry, though. Dumbledore approves.
- Caraval by Stephanie Garber
- Windwitch by Susan Dennard
- The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
- Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
- Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
- The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
- Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Cynthia was a little more reserved in her purchases, but she still bought some good ones!
- Caraval by Stephanie Garber
- Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
- The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
- RoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Well, that’s it for our wrap-up guys! Have you read any of the books we read or bought? Did you enjoy them? Hate them? Let us know below! We’d love to discuss.