A Court of Feels: A Discussion of A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

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Join us for a monumental podcast! Not only is it our return from extended hiatus, but it is Shelfie’s 1 year anniversary, Cynthia’s birthday, and thwe have joined the Nerd 901 family! There is just so much going on. Which makes the topic of discussion even more appropriate. Tune in to hear us gush about the most anticipated YA release of the year: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas.

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 Court of Wings and Ruin.

If you haven’t listened to our very first episode, which covered both A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury, we suggest listening to that first. It can be found here.

Thank you so much for tuning in! We are really very sorry for the long hiatus. Life just gets in the way sometimes, you know? That said, we do hope that you will welcome us back with open arms.

We apologize for the excessive squeeing that can be found in this podcast. It is extremely difficult to discuss the wonder that is ACOWAR without it. We hope you enjoyed it none the less and we look forward to hearing your opinions on the book. Share away!

Don’t forget to tune in next time to hear what we thought of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.

Shelfie is proud to be a part of the Nerd901 Family! Be sure to check out Nerd901.com for more nerdy content.

Unpopular Opinions: A Discussion of Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Join us for a discussion of book boyfriends, glowing reviews, and our extremely unpopular opinion of Caraval by Stephanie Garber!

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 Caraval.

Thank you so much for tuning in! We really hope that you enjoyed our most recent episode! Like we said in the episode, not everyone likes everything. We are very aware that our opinion of Caraval is a bit of a black sheep. That said, we would love to hear what you thought! Did we miss something? Let us know! Tell us why you loved it or why you hated it! We would love to have a discussion.

If you are interested in participating in the discussion that is already happeneing in the Shelfie Book Club you can click here. We’d love to hear what you have to say.

If you are interested in voting on our March book please check out the book club or The Shelfie Showdown! These choice will be announced in our next episode!

Don’t forget to tune in next time to hear what we thought of Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones!

Check out the other books featured in this episode:

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The Golden Boys: A Review of The Crown’s Dog by Elise Kova

Title: The Crown’s Dog (Golden Guard #1)
Author: Elise Kova
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Publication Date: November 22nd, 2016
Kindle: 292 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

A coastal summer is turned upside down by a violent murder, and a quest for lost pirate treasure turns into a hunt for the killer.

Jax Wendyll is the crown’s dog. As punishment for the unspeakable crimes that tourment him to this day, his life has been conscripted to the Empire Solaris. However, in an Empire afflicted by peace, his duties are relegated to unquestioningly aiding the antics of the youngest prince, Baldair.

Erion Le’Dan, a nobleman’s son, expects a quiet summer visit to the Imperial Palace, his only agenda to visit with his unlikely friends. But Jax’s discovery the legendary pirate Adela Lagmir’s old workroom inspires a hunt for her long lost treasure.

The pursuit of Adela’s truth takes the three men to the Imperial summer manor, built along the old pirate mainstays. When Adela’s trident is branded into a murdered servant, Prince Baldair’s summer amusement of treasure-hunting becomes a hunt to find the killer. But, as mysteries compound, the ghosts of Jax’s past may not be the only things haunting them.

“Next you’re going to tell me that you want to go find this long lost treasure.”

Baldair grinned like a fool.

I am late to the party with The Crown’s Dog. In fact, I didn’t even know it had been released until after I ordered my copy of Alchemists of Loom last month and Amazon suggested I also purchase The Crown’s Dog. So, of course, I did just that. How could I turn down an opportunity to return to the world of Air Awakens with Baldair at my side? My biggest complaint about Crystal Crowned was the distinct lack of the Heartbreaker Prince.

If you are unfamiliar with Air Awakens, it is a fast-paced fantasy series set in a world similar to that of Avatar the Last Airbender. Kova makes sure that each book is packed full of action, romance, and suspense. But as this review is not about that series, I will refrain from discussing it in too much detail. That said, throughout the series you meet Prince Baldair Solaris, the spare heir, and his personal retinue, known as The Golden Guard. The Crown’s Dog is the first in a prequel series that tells the story of how The Guard was formed.

With a title like The Crown’s Dog, I was assuming the book would tell Jax Wendyll’s origin story. That story would have interested me a great deal. However, that was not the story Kova told. Instead we got a tale of pirate’s curses, murder, and deception. It was not at all what I had planned for, but it was exactly what I wanted.

The story is told from two perspectives, that of Jax Wendyll, a fallen Lord of the West who has been conscripted into service of the crown, and Erion Le’Dan, the nobelman’s son who saved his life. Both men serve Prince Baldair Solaris as personal guards and companions. The swap in perspective is, as always, extremely well done and while Baldair does not have PoV chapters, his character development does not fall behind his partners in crime. In fact, watching the group develop together is one of the delights of this novel. This is bromance at its finest.

I was also quite surprised at the amount of world building in this novel. I assumed that since it took place in the same world as Air Awakens that we would be left with the information that we had previously gathered. Thankfully, Kova took this as an opportunity to show us corners of her world that we had yet to visit and even gifted us with lovely maps in the front of the novel. Believe me when I say that you will love Oparium just as much if not more than Solarin.

Reading The Crown’s Dog was like reuniting with an old friend. It took me back to a world I love and made me fall in love with some of my favorite characters all over again. My only complaint is that I was expecting the book to be a bit more Jax-centric than it was. That said, He still got some marvelous development alongside his golden compatriots. Now, if Elise Kova were to decide to write his origin story after all, well… I would certainly read that too.

While this is the beginning of a prequel series and the events of this novel take place before the events of Air Awakens, I would recommend reading this after the original series. There are no spoilers and you can certainly read this series first, but I feel like you will have a better grasp of the world and how the characters relate to it and each other if you read them in order of publication.

I highly recommend this book for fans of the Air Awakens series, as well as to readers who enjoy fast paced romance-light fantasy with an emphasis on friendship. Also, if you love pirates, I suggest giving this one a go.

- The Butcher (1)

Of Myths and Monsters: A Review of Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh


Title:
 Fear the Drowning Deep
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date:  October 11th, 2016
Hardback: 304 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

“Nothing from the ocean is meant to survive on land forever.”

While not the horror novel it was billed to be, Fear the Drowning Deep nevertheless hit so many high notes with me that I wasn’t bothered by the lack of fear factor. The synopsis suggests strong notes of witchery and mysterious, murderous sea creatures, and quite honestly, the book doesn’t really deliver on those suggestions. What we get in Fear the Drowning Deep is a subtly eerie take on myths of the sea, one that is more evocative of historical fantasy than horror, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I want to make it clear upfront that the “witch’s apprentice Bridley” line from the blurbs is very much misleading. The witch, Morag, is more akin to a village herbalist, and Bridley isn’t her apprentice- she’s her housekeeper. If you’re looking for a book with a high magic/horror level, this likely isn’t the book for you. I wasn’t bothered by the lack of witchiness, personally. We do see several uses of low-magic in herbs, charms, and superstition-driven action, and for me those nods were enough. What I enjoyed most was how Marsh creates a palpable presence of dread within Drowning’s pages. The overall feel of the fishing village and its struggles is very real, and the fear that rises within the townsfolk as more and more of their number disappear believable. Bridley, as the only person who seems to notice the fantastical happenings surrounding their town, reads as a mostly sympathetic character who experiences more than a little growth from start to finish.

The book does have some problems, the most notable of which is the severe case of insta-love between Bridley and the amnesic foreigner Finn, who washed up on their stretch of beach. Insta-love is one of my bigger pet peeves, and while we are given a magical reason for it a bit late in the story, it was still a plot point that could easily have been left out of the final draft. It felt a bit as if the author thought there should be a romance, and so she included one, even though it wasn’t the best thing for the narrative. Finn is not a bad character, mind; he has a compelling personality, brings a rather unique perspective to the story, and his inclusion is necessary to the plot advancement. I just don’t feel that he fit as a love interest.

Fear the Drowning Deep is one of those books I enjoyed really for no other reason than it hit upon several areas that are happy buttons for me. Marsh deals with the superstitions surrounding the village “witch” in a well-researched manner, even providing accurate properties for the herbs and trinkets that Bridley gathers for Morag. The primary myths addressed in Drowning, that of the Glashtin, the shapeshifting waterhorse, and of the Fossegrim, the ghostly fiddler on the waves whose music calls a new bride to be drowned every night, are very well portrayed. The descriptions of the fossegrim in particular were very well done, and some of the more frightening in the book. The entire time I was reading this story, I had SJ Tucker’s “Glashtyn Shanty” running through my head- the mood of which, by the way, fits Drowning perfectly. Books that bring their own soundtracks unbidden to mind, are, usually, a success for me.

I would highly recommend Fear the Drowning Deep if you’re a fan of Gaelic myths and subtle horror, or are looking for a light read with an engaging setting. Despite its flaws, and the rather scattered marketing, I found it a fun and enjoyable read. This one will be going on my reread shelf, for sure.

cynsig

Waiting on Wednesday: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

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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.


30320053Title:
Long May She Reign 
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 21st, 2017

From Goodreads:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

Why we are waiting:

 

We here at Shelfie are on a quest to find that perfect political fantasy novel. We have tried several books in the past and most of them were not quite what we were looking for. This one promises politics, murder, mystery, and romance! Sounds to me like just the right mix of awesome.

What do you think? Are you waiting for Long May She Reign? Or is there something else you’d prefer to read? Let us know in the comments!

Oh, and if you want us to read this book on the podcast, remember to vote in The Shelfie Showdown!

- The Butcher (1)

Mana-Punk Masterpiece: A Discussion of The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

 

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Join us for as we discuss recent book news, Shelfie developments, and Elise Kova’s newest release, The Alchemists of Loom!

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 Alchemists of Loom.

Thank you so much for tuning in! We really hope that you enjoyed our most recent episode! We also hope you enjoyed The Alchemists of Loom as much as we did! If not, that’s ok too. We’d love to hear what you thought. Please share your opinions in the comments below!

Oh, and if you are curious and want to find out what guild you are in, you should take this quiz. Then tell us what guild you belong to. Are you making Chimera with the Alchemists or enjoying big booms with the Revolvers? All are welcome here!

If you are interested in voting on our March book please check out the book club or The Shelfie Showdown!

Tune in next time to hear what we thought of Caraval by Stephanie Garber!

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

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Flawed Fantasy: An Advance Review of The Dragon’s Price by Bethany Wiggins

Title: The Dragon’s Price (Transference #1)
Author: Bethany Wiggins
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  February 21st, 2017
eBook: 304 Pages
Source: Netgalley

When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.

Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.

As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .

If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?

There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

“I, Princess Sorrowlyn of Faodara, humbly submit to give my life,” I say, my voice strong, “to the fire dragon instead of giving it to the Antharian heir.”

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Dragon’s Price was an impulse request on Netgalley. Cynthia brought it to my attention on a recent podcast and I was in the mood for some generic Fantasy. Plus, who doesn’t love a good dragon story? I didn’t have high expectations going in, and I am glad I didn’t. If I had been really looking forward to this novel, I might have had a much harder time reading it.

I was hoping this book would be a girl power filled fantasy romp. After all, the blurb suggested that instead of pledging herself to an arranged marriage, Sorrowlyn chooses to face a dragon. I also found the idea of a matriarchal society to be promising. Sadly, while the crown passes from mother to daughter, the Queen’s Husband rules in her stead. It was clear quite early on that this novel was not going to appease my appetite for powerful female characters. In fact, she doesn’t even truly choose the dragon. She makes the claim initially, but when Golmarr, the youngest son of the Horse King, steps forward and offers to marry her, she instantly accepts. And, of course, when she is informed that her first choice stands and she is to be fed to the dragon, Golmarr goes into the abyss with her. She is a damsel in distress, after all. Princes can’t resist that.

Don’t worry. She doesn’t remain a damsel forever, but her development is extremely sudden. One moment she is the lonely girl who has sacrificed herself to a dragon and the next she is a warrior. There is a plot line that explains it. So, it isn’t completely out of place. That said, I would have preferred to see it progress slower throughout the novel. As it stands the character’s growth plateau’s less than half way through the book, and since the novel is in first person the characters around her suffer a similar fate.

Golmarr is your average knight in shining armor disguised as a Dothraki. If you are unfamiliar with The Song of Ice and Fire series or Game of Thrones, the Dothraki are known to be fierce warriors who breed strong horses and their men measure their prowess by the length of their hair. All of the above applies to the Antharian Prince. The Dothraki are, however, far more brutal than the Horse Clan featured here. While Golmarr fits the description on the outside, he is your typical fairy tale prince on the inside. He offers to marry a girl he has had two conversations with because he feels sorry for her and then when that falls through and she is lowered into a pit as dragon food, he follows her. Again, out of pity. Oh, and then when they manage to survive the dragon fight, which he was unconscious for a significant part of, he takes all the credit.

Their romance is essentially insta-love. The author attempts to combat this by stating that Golmarr only offers himself as Sorrow’s betrothed because he pities her. It is quite clear that he does not love her.  But, once they are alone with the dragon that is forgotten. He moons over her, she drools over him, and they are committed to each other before they leave the Dragon’s lair. Having known each other for just a few days at this point, the entire relationship feels forced. And since the majority of the novel (including the extremely predictable plot twist at the end) focuses on their love, I found myself losing interest around the halfway mark.

What drove me to finish the novel (aside from the fact that I hate to leave books unfinished) was the interesting concept of the Dragon’s Treasure. Now, we have all heard the stories of dragons and their hoards. In this tale, the treasure passes immediately from the dragon to the person who slayed it. Standard, right? Wrong. Dragons in this world don’t hoard gold and jewels. Their treasure is less tangible and can be anything. I was intrigued by the concept, but the portrayal of the dragons got in the way. I wanted them to be terrifying. Instead they were about as scary as the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk. You know they want to eat you because they told you so a million times… in the cheesiest way possible.

If you are looking for a quick and easy read on a Saturday afternoon and do not mind that the characters aren’t believable or that the dialogue is cringe-worthy, then this might be for you. Unfortunately, it really didn’t do anything for me.

 

- The Butcher (1)