The Fantasy Formula: A Review of Frostblood by Elly Blake

27827203Title: Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1)
Author: Elly Blake
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  January 10th, 2017 
Hardcover: 367 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

“You don’t know the effect your words have on me, Lady Firebrand. It took years to build up this ice. You will melt it and then I will be broken.” 

Frostblood was a constant struggle with Déjà vu. At every turn, I was called back to a different YA Fantasy. The pacing reminded me of Stealing Snow, the powers smacked of Red Queen, and the “twist” called back to Snow Like Ashes. There is nothing about this fast-paced Fantasy that hasn’t been explored before. I know that is not an uncommon occurrence in the genre. However, I do expect these ideas to be reinterpreted into something original. Blake fails to do that in Frostblood. If you have been keeping up with recent releases, it is safe to say that you have read this book before. More than once.

The tale follows Ruby, a fire mage of sorts, who is hunted for her powers. She is fierce, stubborn, and possesses quite the temper. As the book develops she remains largely the same. I was hoping to see some development from inept chosen one to powerful warrior. The author does assert this change; however, Ruby’s actions and dialogue fail to reflect it.

Brooding and secretive love interest, Arcus, suffers a similar fate. Had the author been a bit more delicate with her foreshadowing, I might have been interested in his past. Sadly, I had figured out his entire life story by chapter four. This, of course, also meant that I had figured out the “twist” as well. That left me very little motivation to finish the book, except to see if I was right. Spoiler alert: I was.

I found the world to be less developed than the characters. The author mentions countries and conflicts, but glosses over them. Leaving the reader to fill in the blanks with the setting. The religions were given a bit more attention, through childhood stories and prophecy, making the cultures feel more realistic than the environment.

The story in Frostblood is straightforward and wraps up neatly at the end of the book. With this being the first in a trilogy, I am curious to know what the author will explore in the sequels. Though, probably not curious enough to pick up the sequel in September.

If you are looking for a fast Fantasy read and are not picky this book might be for you, but do not expect to find vivid settings of well-developed characters here. Frostblood is an easy and predictable YA romp that focuses more on the romance than the details.

 

- The Butcher (1)

 

Hits and Misses: The Best and Worst books of 2016 According to Shelfie

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Join Caitlin and Cynthia as they take a trip down memory lane to discuss the hits and misses of 2016! Did you favorite make the cut? How many times did Caitlin mention Empire of Storms? Tune in to find out!

WARNING: We tired to be a spoiler free as possible in the episode, but we may not have been a vigilant as we intended. We apologize for any spoilers!

Were we wrong in our assessments of these books? Did you favorite get left off? Please let us know what you thought in the comments below!

Thank you so much for tuning in! We hope you enjoyed our newest episode. We had so many opinions on the books we read last year and we are so glad that we got to share them with you, not only in this episode but in the many that came before it and the reviews and posts on the blog. You guys were awesome in 2016 and we look forward to an even better 2017!

Tune in next time to hear what we thought of The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books mentioned in this episode!

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Is This a Book? A Discussion of The Reader by Traci Chee

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Join Caitlin and Cynthia while they discuss dream casts, book themed candles, and The Reader by Traci Chee. Help them answer the big question “Is this a book?” Don’t worry. It won’t take them too long to answer.

WARNING: This is not a spoiler free review. If you haven’t read the book or hate spoilers you should check back with us once you have read The Reader.

Thank you so much for tuning in! We hope you enjoyed our newest episode. We were so very excited for this book and we hope that you will tune in and hear what we thought of it! You should also share your comments below! If you think Caitlin was too harsh let us know! We love discussion!

Tune in next time to hear what we thought of Replica by Lauren Oliver!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books mentioned in this episode!

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In These Eyes: A Review of Vicarious by Paula Stokes

26114131Title: Vicarious (Vicarious #1)
Author: Paula Stokes
Genre: Science Fiction / Mysteru
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date:  August 16th, 2016
Kindle Edition: 336 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have always been inseparable. Together, the two of them survived growing up in a Korean orphanage and being trafficked into the United States. But they’ve escaped the past and started over in a new place where no one knows who they used to be.

Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you—for a price.

When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the digital recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process.

“Clouds of steam blanket the mirror as the scalding water turns my hands pink. I close my eyes and count to ten. My flesh protests, But I lather for another ten seconds and then rinse. The pain washes away the memories”.

Everyone wants something. More specifically, everyone wants something else- a life, a lover, and experience they can’t or don’t have easily within their grasp. Winter Kim and her sister Rose help their employer and guardian Gideon provides those experiences. For the right price, anyone can bungee jump off a cliff, swim with sharks- or break into a multi-million dollar corporation and steal sensitive documents. Gideon is the creator of VISE, a virtual reality technology that lets people record their experiences so that others can enjoy them. The VISE tech records sensory input; taste, touch, smell, sound… all of this captured so that the person playing the recording feels every tiny detail exactly as the recorder felt it. Winter sticks to her assigned jobs, mostly those of the less than legal nature, while Rose often moonlights recording more tantalizingly- and in some ways more dangerous- erotic fair, such as switch parties and intense club scenes. When a recording of Rose’s death is delivered to Gideon, a recording that doesn’t quite add up to reality, Winter becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to her sister.

The hook for Vicarious promises a cyperpunk-esque murder mystery, and Tor’s video ad for the book only reinforces that impression. As a fan of both genres, I dropped Vicarious on my pre-order list the first time I came across it. It arrived just in time for me to take it along on a business trip, and it kept me engaged through multiple flight changes and layovers.

Vicarious almost disappointed me. I really was jonesing for a good cyberpunk story, and the tech elements were not as front and center as I expected. Yes, the VISE tech and Winter’s job as a recorder is central to the story, but at the same time, it wasn’t nearly so tech heavy as I was expecting. I was expecting something a bit more Johnny Mnemonic, or more reminiscent of the film Strange Days. While Vicarious’s plot certainly seems influenced by the latter, the VISE tech serves more as a vehicle for plot delivery and twists than as the driving force I expected.

However, I didn’t care. The book may not have delivered what I expected, but what it delivered instead was fantastic.

As we uncover more and more of the truth behind Rose’s murder, we also uncover more and more of the truth behind Winter. The author establishes from the beginning that Winter suffers from several mental conditions, the most significant of which PTSD brought about from their time spent as unwilling currency in the sex trafficking industry. Winter’s reality slowly unravels the longer she is without her sister, and the closer she gets to discovering the truth of what happened. I found myself completely engaged in Winter’s story and struggles. The murder, the corporate espionage, the blackmail threats- all of this was interesting and necessary, but they really served as catalysts to Winter’s development. She grows in a believable way throughout the book, and her struggles with her illness felt strikingly familiar.

Vicarious is not a story about a girl caught up in solving the mystery of her sister’s murder. Vicarious is a story about a girl struggling to maintain her control on her reality when everything she knows is falling down around her. It treats the difficult topics of PTSD, self-harm, and suicidal behaviors in a way that is believable, even within the story’s slightly futuristic framework. The twist at the end, well… let’s just say that it wasn’t the twist I was expecting.

Vicarious is the first of a duology, but was written to be a complete story in and of itself. If you’re looking for an engaging read that features a primarily PoC cast, with an alt reality future flair, I’d definitely pick up this one.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

24909346Title: Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 18th, 2016

From Goodreads:

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and theHypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

Why we are waiting:

Guys! I am such an Illuminae fan girl! I just cannot recommend that book enough. It is Space Opera at it’s finest. Now, I know that Gemina doesn’t follow the same main characters as Illuminae, but if it has the same unique formatting, I am positive that I can get past that.

This one has to be just as good, right?

 

- The Butcher (1)

Plot Device Billy: A Discussion of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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Politics! Poison! Plot Devices! Oh my! Three Dark Crowns is finally here. Want to know more about Plot Device Billy? Tune in to hear Caitlin and Cynthia discuss royal tasters, poison, and Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake in the newest episode of Shelfie!

WARNING: This is not a spoiler free review. If you haven’t read the book or hate spoilers you should check back with us once you have read Three Dark Crowns.

Thank you so much for tuning in! We hope you enjoyed our newest episode. We hope you enjoyed our opinions on Kendare Blake’s newest offering. Did you like it more than we did? Were we a little hard on Billy? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to discuss it with you!

Tune in next time to hear what we thought of The Reader by Traci Chee!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books mentioned in this episode!

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Banned Books Week

This is a tad bit late, but even if we are on the tail end of Banned Books Week would should still celebrate frequently challenged books and everyone’s right to read!

Banned Books Week is an annual event that celebrates our right to read and the value of free and open access to information. The idea is to bring the entire community together in shared support of our very favorite thing: reading!

So, I decided to answer the following writing prompts offered by the American Library Association as part of Banned Book Week. I did change the graphics up to better suit the Shelfie style, but the questions are all theirs.

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prisonerThis question is probably the hardest one for me to answer. I have so many books that I truly treasure. It’s really hard to pick just one. So, in order to answer the question better I have decided to pick a banned/challenged book to help narrow it down.

I would totally go to jail to defend the Harry Potter series. Okay, I know. That’s not one book, It’s 7. Nope, not counting Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. That sequel was rumored but never made. If you want just one book, pick one. I’d chain myself to a library shelf for each and every one of them. They defined my childhood and really helped pave the way for YA Fantasy as we know it.

Reasons cited when challenging: Occult/Satanic Themes

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4327066This one is easy. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I know what you are thinking. That book was originally published in 1999, you totally could have read it as a kid. But somehow I was never exposed to it. The school library didn’t have it and none of my friends were reading it. I managed to skip it entirely until I was 25. Even then it still had a major impact on me. It is such a powerful book that I think all teenagers should read. I really wish that I had been exposed to it when I was that age. Unfortunately, I believe it was pulled from the High School library shelves well before I attended. It is one of the more popular banned/challenged books.

Reasons cited when challenging: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.

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9817161This is another question where there are hundreds of different answers. However, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban would be cheating, since I am pretty sure I have most of it memorized already and I used it above. Instead I will go with Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. If you have listened to the podcast then you know I have cannot stop raving about this book. It has a huge impact on my life when I was in high school. I distinctly remember borrowing it from a friend and hiding it under my pillow so my Grandmother wouldn’t find it. She had never actively censored what I read before, but people were talking about Speak. Kids were reading it because parents were calling for it to be pulled from the shelves. It was too graphic and inappropriate. It sent the wrong message. Or so they said. I fail to see how giving a voice to rape victims is the “wrong message”. I have revisited this book many times throughout my life and each time it has touched me. This book shouldn’t be banned. It should be required.

Reasons cited when challenging: alcohol, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.

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I know that everyone who answers this question will say the same thing. My mom is the reason I’m a reader, and it’s not just because she read me bed time stories or recorded my favorite books on tape so I could listen to them over and over again. For me, it’s more than that. I am severely Dyslexic with significant visual impairments. I was lucky to be diagnosed very young. If it hadn’t been for my mother pushing for the answers she wanted to hear, I don’t know if I would be able to read. That sounds awfully dramatic, I know. But, she was told it would be a struggle for rest of my life. Instead of giving up she pushed me. I was in vision therapy for years to correct the issues. I hated her for it then. Looking back I wish I had just said “thank you” because she gave me a gift. She gave me my love of books. If she hadn’t fought for my ability to read, I wouldn’t be writing this. So, it’s my mom. No question.go-explore-1

I keep going back to Harry Potter, but I can’t help it. I’m a super fan. If I could have lunch with any banned book character it would easily be Severus Snape. You’re probably thinking that would be a fairly awkward and silent affair. You are probably right, but it has so much potential for awesome! Snape is by far one of my very favorite characters ever written and I would love nothing more than to have tea and cucumber sandwiches with him. Maybe he can even wear Neville’s Grandmother’s hat! Don’t you think it’s perfect for tea?

 

What are your favorite banned books? Did your school remove books from the curriculum or library when you were younger? We’d love for you to share your stories in the comments! Help us celebrate the right to read, even if we are little bit late.

- The Butcher (1)

 

Setting the Bar: A Discussion of Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

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The moment you have all been waiting for is finally here! Empire of Storms is out! Tune in to this extra long episode to hear Caitlin and Cynthia lament the fact that they have to wait a year for Sarah J Maas’s epic conclusion to the Throne of Glass series. Warning: Contains high levels of fangirling.

WARNING: This is not a spoiler free review. If you haven’t read the book or hate spoilers you should check back with us once you have read Empire of Storms. Actually, expect spoilers for the entire Throne of Glass series.

Thank you so much for tuning in! We hope you enjoyed our newest episode. We would apologize for it being longer than normal, but it’s a miracle that we managed to keep it under two hours. There is just so much to SQUEE over! We’d love to hear what you thought about this installment in the Throne of Glass series! Did you love it? Did you hate it? Do you love Rowan? Miss Chaol? Share your thoughts in the comments below! We’d love nothing more than to discuss this book with you guys. Please share!

Tune in next time to hear what we thought of Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books mentioned in this episode!

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Usurped by the Empire: A Discussion of A World Without You by Beth Revis

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Tune in to hear Caitlin and Cynthia wish Empire of Storms a very happy book birthday! There might also be some talk of A World Without You by Beth Revis, but who are they kidding? Empire is out! That’s what matters!

WARNING: This is not a spoiler free review. If you haven’t read the book or hate spoilers you should check back with us once you have read A World Without You.

Thank you so much for tuning in! We hope you enjoyed our seventh episode. Sadly it’s a little disjointed. But, it’s hard to focus when the next book in your favorite series is waiting for you! We’d love to hear what you thought about A World Without You, though. Did you love it? Is contemporary your jam? Share your favorites in the comments below! We’d love nothing more than to hear your opinions. Please share!

Oh AND

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Tune in next time to hear what we thought of the next installment in the epic Throne of Glass series!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books mentioned in this episode!

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Of Monsters and Men: A Discussion of This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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Tune in to hear Caitlin and Cynthia rave about Urban Fantasy and This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab!

WARNING: This is not a spoiler free review. If you haven’t read the book or hate spoilers you should check back with us once you have read This Savage Song.

Thank you so much for tuning in! We hope you enjoyed our little monster mash! Is Urban Fantasy one of your favorite genres? Share your favorites in the comments below! We would love to see your recommendations. Did you love This Savage Song? Did you hate it? We’d love nothing more than to hear your opinions. Please share!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books mentioned in this episode!

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