The Webs We Weave: A Discussion of The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Join us for discussion of what they have recently read! This includes, but is in no way limited to, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon! That’s right! We have been talking about it for months and just not got around to talking about it on the podcast. This is definitely an episode you will not want to miss.

WARNING: This is a not a spoiler free review! If you have not read the book and do not like spoilers, we recommend reading the book before listening to this episode.

As promised, we have included pictures of the construction of the cover as well as a video. Check it out. The work that went into the art is amazing! We are convinced it’s magic.

So, have you read the Sun is Also a Star? Was it a hit for you in 2016? Or did it fall flat? Tell us what you think in the comments below or post on our discussion thread in the Shelfie Book Club. We would love nothing more than to hear your thoughts on what we thought was a standout contemporary novel!

You can also find Caitlin’s early review of The Sun is Also a Star here if you prefer something spoiler free.

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

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Introducing The Shelfie Book Club

We here at Shelfie have an announcement! We have opened a book club! It is easy to join if you have a Goodreads account! Just join this group and join in on the fun.

The idea is that we want more community input in our podcasts. We want you guys to tell us what books you want us to talk about and read them along with us! Shelfie isn’t just about us, after all. It all started because we wanted to share our favorite books with the people around us. So, we want you to share too!

Check it out and read along with us as we finish up The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and start The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova! We would love to hear what you have to say about these fabulous novels!

 We are also looking for input on what we should read in March!

Please join us for the fun! We’d love you have you!

- The Butcher (1)

 

Ten Underrated Novels You Should Read

This was a Top Ten Tuesday that I absolutely adored. Since today is not Tuesday, I won’t tag it as such. But, I just couldn’t skip the idea. There are so many books that I don’t think get the attention they deserve. So here are my top ten favorite underrated YA novels. Please give each of them a look. I promise, they are really worth the time.

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Lotus and Thorn by Sarah Wilson Etienne is a fast paced Sci-Fi / Dystopian novel that is full to the brim with girl power. Unfortunately, it suffered from mismanaged marketing and many of it’s 168 ratings on Goodreads are low. Why? Because it was sold as a Fantasy and you won’t find any elves or magic here. It is all Sci-Fi all of the time. So, if you are looking for something new, we here at Shelfie cannot recommend this one enough. We even did a podcast on it that can be found here. Though, if you are worried about spoilers, you should read the book first because that episode is a super spoiler squee-fest. That is usually what happens when you don’t have high hopes for a book and are baffled by how good it is.

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Replica by Lauren Oliver has the most ratings of any book on this list at 3,500. But that seems remarkably low for a book that is so remarkably unique. This is not your average Sci-Fi / Contemporary. No, Lauren Oliver outdid herself with this one. Replica’s unique formatting allows you to read the book in one of many different ways by actually reading one chapter and then physically flipping the book over and reading the next. In reality this gem is two books in one that entwine in ways that I cannot even try to explain. Replica is an experience. An experience that we at Shelfie discussed in detail on our podcast. Check it out here. But again, be prepared for spoilers if you haven’t read the book.

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Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine was a shock. I picked it up looking for a generic Fantasy to get lost in for a few hours and found myself completely enamored. Fine took the “Chosen One” trope and flipped it on it’s head. The main character is marked as a child and chosen to inherit the powers of the Queen when the reigning Queen dies. It doesn’t quite turn out that way. The magical mantle doesn’t pass to Elli and she is accused of rejecting it and threatening their society. I won’t spoil more, but this is a well written story with an interesting take on a common YA theme. It certainly deserves more than the 1,867 ratings it has on Goodreads.

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Hunter by Mercedes Lackey has issues. It is not the perfect novel. That said, the unique setting is what sets it apart. Mythology is bleeding into reality. Monsters of legend pour through rifts and terrorize cities. The Hunters are trained to fight these legends and protect the cities in which they reside. The world building is unlike anything I have seen in the YA genre. The downside is that the main character is not exceptionally well done, though I believe that can be chalked up to this being the first novel in a series and requiring quite a bit of set up. I haven’t read the sequel, Elite, yet. But, I will absolutely review it when I do. If you are interested in hearing more of my views on Hunter, you can find my review here.

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The Reader by Traci Chee is quite the magical debut novel. It is a story within a story within a story. Chee weaves it all together in a way that can’t quite be matched. It is hard to explain without spoiling too much of the story, but the gist is that Sefia lives in a society where books are not common and reading is magic. The story begins when a rare artifact, a book, comes into her possession and she begins reading the tall tales within. There are some far fetched bits, but in the end it’s a wonderful book. If you want to hear more about it you should check out the podcast episode here.  Again, it’s spoilery. So maybe you should read it before hitting play.

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Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Sheier is not just a good book. It is an important book. It is one of very few books that realistically portrays mental illness. One of the main characters suffers from Schizophrenia. This isn’t a light and happy read. It is truly painful to watch the effect it has on him and the people around him. It also touches on the common issues teenagers face while in high school. I wish there had been a book like this for me to read when I was that age. That said, it still left quite the impact on me as an adult. I really cannot recommend it enough.

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Nemesis by Anna Banks is another Fantasy novel that I expected to be run of the mill. Instead I was enamored. The world is rich and interesting with warring kingdoms, a princess in a foreign land, and serpent like dragon mounts. Just do the best you can to ignore the cover, which in all honesty should never have gone to print. They were clearly attempting to show the silver color of the main character’s skin, but it just doesn’t translate. That said, it is easy enough to ignore. So, if you are looking for a good fantasy that you haven’t already read, I suggest picking this one up and enjoying the ride. Especially if you enjoyed The Wrath & The Dawn.

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Menagerie by Rachel Vincent is one of the more unique books on this list. It is an interesting take on Urban Fantasy. Mythical creatures exist and are held captive in carnivals and menageries for the entertainment of society. Delilah, our main character, discovers early on in the book that she is not human, even if she appears to be, and is sold to a carnival that is passing through town. This book is not for the faint of heart. It contains torture, abuse, and rape. However it is a powerful story and well worth the read. I am truly shocked that it only has 3,000 ratings on Goodreads.

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The Reluctant Sacrifice by Kerr-Ann Dempster is the most hidden of the gems on this list. With less than 1000 ratings on Goodreads this Paranormal Romance is not being read nearly enough! Main character, Aubrey is a child of prophecy. Her culture believes that she must be sacrificed in order for them to return to their home land from exile. However, she has no interest in being sacrificed. The book follows her story as she flees the hunters and falls in love. The romance in charming and Aubrey’s development in wonderful. You can find my full review here. If you’re in the mood for a good Paranormal Romance give this one a chance and then tell all of your friends!

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The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden is a true YA Urban Fantasy and those are pretty hard to come by these days. It’s got all of the right pieces: Vampires, Witches, and a supernatural mystery. I was excited to find that this YA novel falls squarely in the Urban Fantasy genre instead of it’s YA cousin, Paranormal Romance. Sometimes you want sexy vampires and sometimes you want a good occult mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I can’t explain why people aren’t raving about The Casquette girls. It’s an awesome story with an awesome cover. You’d think it would be all over everywhere. Instead it has 1,311 ratings on Goodreads. We can change that, right?

 

So there they are. My hidden gems. Do you agree with my choices? Have you read them? Did you love them or hate them? I’d love to hear your opinions so share them in the comments below. And if you haven’t read them, please do!

- The Butcher (1)

 

The Clone Wars: A Discussion of Replica by Lauren Oliver

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Tune in for a walk down Shelife Lane with Caitlin and Cynthia as they talk about meeting Lauren Oliver, Kendare Blake, Beth Revis, and Victoria Schwab. Then join the pair as they discuss clones, conspiracies, and Lauren Oliver’s spectacular Sci-Fi novel, Replica.

WARNING: This is a not a spoiler free review! If you have not read the book and do not like spoilers, we recommend reading the book before listening to this episode.

Have you read Replica? What did you think? Was it the most amazing thing you have ever read or did it fall flat? Did you agree with Cynthia that flipping the book caused a disconnet or was that your favorite part? Have you gotten to meet your author heroes? Share all of your thoughts in the comments below! We would love to hear them!

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So, just in case you wanted proof there is Caitlin with Lauren Oliver and Kendare Blake! Awesome, right?

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

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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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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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