All tagged Series

Giveaway & Mini Review: The Remedy by Suzanne Young

Suzanne Young's The Program and The Treatment duology is one of the most underrated series I've read. It's just so smart and insightful and just plain fascinating. And while that series closed with a very satisfying ending, I was thrilled when I learned that Suzanne was revisiting the world of the series with a prequel, The Remedy. 

(Hint: Read this entire post--there's an awesome giveaway sponsored by Simon & Schuster happening too!)

Recommendation Tuesday: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

Recommendation Tuesday started as a joke and is now an official thing. Basically, this is my way of making Tuesday a little more awesome. If you've got a book to recommend on this or any Tuesday, tweet me at @FullShelves and I'll help spread the word.

View all of the past recommendations over here. 

The uncertainty of my own experience is crushing. I am drowning in an infinite sea. Sinking slowly, the weight of the lightless depths forcing me down, forcing the air from my lungs, squeezing the blood from my heart.

I feel kind of ridiculous recommending a big book with a big publicity push behind it, but it's a rare sequel that enthralls me as much as the original. 

The Fifth Wave was one of my favorite books last year, thanks to its editor literally shoving it in my hands and I clicked preorder on the follow up, The Infinite Sea, before it even had a title. The sophisticated plot, overwhelmingly ominous tone and captivatingly complex characters stood out in the sea of lookalike post-apocalyptic novels

A Gripping Prequel to a Frustrating & Excellent Series: Lucky Day by Barry Lyga

Imagine blithely driving down the freeway when without warning your car begins shaking, rattling faster and faster; you’re doing your best to remain calm as sweat forms on your forehead and your hands tremble. Then boom, flap, flap, flap. Something’s terribly wrong, control’s barely there and you know the outcome isn’t looking rosy.

(Editor’s Note: That actually happened to Sandra last week.)

That’s akin to my experience at the conclusion of Barry Lyga’s Game, the second in his I Hunt Killers Trilogy. The first, I Hunt Killers, ended with resolution and the knowledge that the sequel was on hand, ready and waiting.

Conversely, Game ended like a blowout on the freeway. 

What in the name of all that’s creepy, frightening and gripping happened with that thrilling, brutally-cliffhangerific book? 


Evocative Gothic Horror: Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea

Gothic horror wrapped in mystery, intrigue and the supernatural was just the right blend in April Genevieve’s Tucholke’s Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea. And when I finished the final page, I was left tapping my fingers, thinking,

"Sequel, please. Puh-lease. I am not good at waiting. Patience is not a virute."

Well, I'll be waiting for it until August of 2014.

*taps fingers*


Twin teens, Violet and Luke, live alone in the once decadent mansion their grandmother dubbed “Citizen Kane.” Built by their fabulously rich and influential ancestors, Citizen Kane could comfortably settle into an Edgar Allen Poe story. Its wine cellar holds a chilling atmosphere perfect for The Cask of Amontillado.

Citizen Kane sits aloof atop a ridge overlooking the Atlantic, a crumbling tribute to a glorious past and a cold reminder of the depth of despair that is the present reality. The town of Echo situated near the dying mansion looks upon the twins' abode with scorn taking comfort in the downfall of a once rich and powerful family.

Violet and Luke's artistic parents leave them for months at a time while they pursue their dreams in vibrant oils and acrylics inspired by the art and history found only in Europe. "Here's some money," they would say on their way out the door. "Make it last until we return."

The money always lasted until it didn't.

More Grit, More Awesome: Deadshifted (Edie Spence #4) by Cassie Alexander

When a series progresses to a certain point, it becomes nearly impossible to discuss without revealing important facets of the previous installments. Such is the case of Cassie Alexander's Edie Spence series, which is now deep into the series at book number four, Deadshifted.  So uncharacteristic brevity on my part is a necessity when talking about how Deadshifted brings even more gritty badassery than the previous installment, Shapeshifted.

I've written extensively about each of the books chronicles the misadventures of Chicago nurse Edie Spence, who found herself embroiled in the paranormal underworld in an effort to save her drug addict brother. This series has a lot to offer: action, drama, strong narrative voice and, of course, Edie's tumultuous love life--if you can call it that. 

[Note: Very minor spoilers of the sort revealed in the official book summaries follow.] 

Edie's latest exploits arrive while she an shapeshifter boyfriend Asher attempt to decompress from their recent encounter with some very nasty paranormal critters and their stressful day jobs at a health clinic in a tough Chicago neighborhood. They've embarked on a cruise and are basking in that new love glow. A promise of better things to come means that things are looking up for Edie.

Naturally, this being Edie's life, those precious moments of blissful peace don't last.

Guest Post: The Evocative and Layered The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind is the first in a series of linked stories by Barcelona based Carlos Ruiz Zafon. (The Angel’s Game is a prequel which released later, A Prisoner of Heaven follows the story after The Shadow of the Wind and an as yet unreleased book will end the series).

1945 Barcelona is still coming to grips with the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and Daniel Sempere, our main narrator and hero, is the son of a book-dealer. The narrative starts when a young Daniel is taken by his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he is allowed to pick only one book to take out with him. His father explains that once Daniel makes his choice, he must be the book’s caretaker, guardian and protector. 

Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.

The mysterious The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax is the one that speaks out to Daniel, and later the very book that offers him solace from the loss of his mother. Curious about Carax’s other writing, Daniel stumbles upon a startling discovery – a shadowy figure who calls himself Lain Coubert (the name of the devil in The Shadow of the Wind book) has been systematically destroying every copy Carax has ever written; making Daniel’s copy potentially the only surviving. Over the span of a decade, Daniel unwittingly falls headfirst into his very own gothic mystery as he unravels the life of Julian Carax and gets much more than he ever bargained for. 

Not Your Usual New Adult Fare - One & Only by Viv Daniels

As much as I enjoyed my first foray--Easy by Tammara Webber--into the burgeoning "new adult" genre/category/whatever (seriously, peeps, is a genre or a category--this is making me crazy) and the brilliant and emotionally raw Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin, the rest of my dabbling into this trend haven't turned out so well (though I liked Cora Carmack's Faking It--I can't resist the fake boyfriend trope). 

Frankly, nearly every "new adult" read I've tried has been too trope-y, too over-the-top in the drama department or just plain too much. 

However, when I learned (thanks to the lovely Angie) that Diana Peterfreund, whose books I've quite enjoyed (Killer unicorns, yo!), was starting a new adult contemporary romance series under the pen name Viv Daniels, I immediately added the first novel, One & Only, to my to-read list. Diana has such a solid track record, including the Secret Society Girl series, which was new adult when it was chick lit, I suspected she'd provide a solid entry into the genre/category/whatever.


A Surprising, Satisfying Sequel: Fractured by Sarah Fine

It was a reminder of what we’d lost—and also that my senior year was rapidly coming to a close. I’d barely noticed. Prom was in three weeks, and graduation was only a month after that. It was hard to believe that a few months ago, I’d assumed I’d be here with Nadia, enjoying all of this. Now that Nadia was gone, I had nothing to look forward to except the hope that I could prevent a bunch of evil spirits from overrunning Rhode Island. ”

Sarah Fine's Sanctum was a real surprise when I discovered it earlier this year. It had all the things I love about adult fantasy--grit, flawed characters, adventure, big consequences--in a compelling young adult package. Needless to say, I eagerly anticipated the sequel, Fractured.

[Tiny spoilers for Sanctum ahoy, though I've attempted to be as vague as possible.]

Fractured picks up shortly after Sanctum ended, which narrator Lela back home in Rhode Island. We find the power dynamics between she and love interest and Shadowland Guard Malachi have shifted. She's the boss, with a crew of guardians under her command. They're battling the demon-like mazikin, as in Sanctum, but this time they're on Lela's home turf, and the few people she's allowed to become close to her are all in danger, making the stakes even higher than before.

Life as it was now: a weird intersection of normal and crazy, of life and beyond-life, afterlife, undead, whatever. I put my hand to my heart and felt it beating, remembered feeling Malachi’s pounding through his shirt as he kissed me. Were we alive? Were we here on borrowed time? Did we have a right to live or only to serve as Guards? Did we have a future, or were we headed back to the dark city when we were done? Did anything we did here, apart from eliminating the Mazikin, matter? Could we keep anything for ourselves?”

Second books in a series are a tough thing. In a lot of ways, when a first book is good, the second book's role as the second act in a three-act series (as in the case of a trilogy) can feel more like a bridge to the conclusion rather than a gripping story. Fortunately, Fractured avoided this fate, and is--in many ways--a stronger book than the first.

Shifting the setting from the Shadowlands to modern-day Rhode Island was a bold move, since it radically altered the character dynamics, and it really paid off.

Podcast #15: Great (Reading) Expectations

We're excited to bring you another episode of the Clear Eyes, Full Shelves podcast! We have such a good time recording the show and love that the podcast lets us dig into issues with more nuance than the blog format allows. 

In episode #15, Laura and I dig into the subject of reader expectations, the role of marketing in informing those expectations and the way consumers of creative works become intensely invested in those works. Please note, this episode was recorded prior to my writing this blog post; if it had been, we likely would have elaborated more regarding the notion of how we read, and if readers "owe" authors anything in that respect. 

As always, you can listen to the podcast by streaming on this page, downloading the MP3 below or by subscribing in iTunes. If you're an iTuner, we very much appreciate your rating and reviewing the podcast, as it helps us to show up in iTunes searches. We're also now on Stitcher Radio, so if you prefer that app, you can subscribe here. 

Reader Expectations & Authorial Intent: What Matters?

Laura and I recorded a podcast on Monday which will be up on iTunes (Don't forget to rate us, yo!) and blog in the next few days in which we discuss the topic of reader expectations and reactions, particularly in the context of series and authors with large backlists. While Laura and I go in depth into the topic on that podcast, I know not everyone listens to it, and the discussion just keeps morphing online.

The reader expectations discussion erupted earlier this year when Charlaine Harris finally ended her Sookie Stackhouse series. Readers were unhappy that they'd invest 13 years into reading the series, watched Sookie float from love interest to love interest and finally end up with a partner who was, to them, rather unexciting.

Then we had the whole Divergent debacle in which some readers were incredibly upset about the choices author Veronica Roth made in the final book in that series, Allegiant. 

More recently, Gayle Forman has been criticized by readers frustrated with the companion novel to Just on Day, Just One Year

And there was also the brouhaha in the romance world because an author and reader (because--shocker--people can be both) "live tweeted" her reading of Susan Elizabeth Philips' Nobody's Baby But Mine (Janet detailed this on Dear Author earlier this week). 

This type of response isn't anything new, and it's not exclusive to reading.

Romantic, Yet Unsatisfying: Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Despite that the time travel elements were entirely undeveloped, I enjoyed Tamara Ireland Stone's debut novel, Time Between Us. I was swept up in Bennett and Anna's sweet, yet challenged, romance spanning decades, quite literally. 

Sure, Bennett's ability to travel from his timeline in 2012 to Anna's in 1995 was effectively unexamined and consequences related to the ripple effect of time travel were only considered when it aided the plot. But it was a solid romance--and I'm a shameless sucker.

As I mentioned in my review of Time Between Us, I hoped that the intricacies and consequences of traveling through and altering time would be explored further. Because this is more of a romance, I didn't expect it reach All Our Yesterdays level, but I'd hoped for more--and I effectively got nothing in that regard.

Read the rest--> 


When Bad Marketing Happens to Good Books: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

 Sometimes the wind blows you places you weren't expecting: sometimes it blows you away from those places, too.

When I found an early copy of Just One Year on the shelf at University Bookstore in Seattle last week, I could not have been more thrilled. The sequel to Just One Day (which I loved) was hands-down one of my my anticipated novels of the season. I couldn't wait to see where Allyson and Willem's story went, since Just One Year promised to "pick up where Just One Day ended.


Except that's a lie. Just One Year doesn't pick up where Just One Day, the book, ended. Instead, it begins as just one day, the day Allyson and Willem spent together, ends. If you've read Just One Day, you know that it spans the year following that day, so Just One Year effectively hits rewind on the timeline for the thing that happens on the final page of Just One Day.

It's important to understand that how the Just One Year has been marketed and the actual story between the covers are two entirely different things.

Read the rest--> 

Five Thoughts on Maggie Stiefvater's The Dream Thieves

The second installment in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle series, The Dream Thieves, is out today and I've been pondering just how to write about it. I've come to the conclusion that this series is so very complex, while also being subtle, that it's nearly impossible for me to "review" the books in this series in a traditional sense. 

In lieu of an actual exhaustive review of The Dream Thieves (you can read our not-review of The Raven Boys here, by the way), I thought I'd completely cop-out and provide you with a list of five things I'm still pondering after reading The Dream Thieves.


#1 The Dream Thieves is even more dreamy and atmospheric that The Raven Boys.  

It was mint and memories and the past and the future and she felt as if she’d done this before and already she longed to do it again.

These novels are rooted in their atmosphere, intricate mythology and tangled relationships that they're going to either work for readers or leave them wondering what the hell they just read. And I mean that in a good way--I adore this series and believe it's different from anything else on the shelves at the moment. Reading this series feels more like I'm experiencing the story, rather than reading a book--it's just that immersive. 

A New Favorite, But Not for Everyone - The Diviners by Libba Bray

Libba Bray writes of the wind in the first pages of The Diviners, of how it swoops through New York City, silent witness to all that has been, is and will be.

The wind existed forever. It has seen much in this country of dreams and soap ads, old horrors and bloodshed. It has played mute witness to its burning witches, and has walked along a Trail of Tears; it has seen the slave ships release their human cargo, blinking and afraid, into the ports, their only possession a grief they can never lose ... It ran with the buffalo and touched tentative fingers to the tall black hats of Puritans. It has carried shouts of love, and it has dried tears to salt tracks on more faces than it can number. 

The wind also saw the  Roaring Twenties, a time when anything seemed possible, where money flowed as freely as illegal booze. 

Evie O’Neill felt trapped in a small town with small minds. She ached to jump out of the confines of he life into the glamour and excitement she knew waited for her. Her exuberance and sometimes her rashness made Evie a poor candidate for living happily in a backwoods Ohio community. 

One evening while partying with friends and drinking way too much, Evie stretches the bounds of acceptability for the last time by revealing a town scandal. It lands her in front of her parents with her head pounding from a hangover with mom and dad shouting their displeasure and despair.

Review: Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Shaunta Grimes’ Viral Nation caught my eye earlier this year for a single reason: the cover.

The cover art depicts a teen girl, wearing very the very teen girl garb of jeans, a hoodie and Chuck Taylor sneakers, standing in the ruins of an urban landscape with an equally awesome-looking dog. 

Having suffered a mild case of Dystopian Burnout, like many readers I approach dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories with a bit of caution. However, Viral Nation is a creative, fresh entry into the crowded dystopian shelves--one that deserves much more attention than it’s received.

Viral Nation is set in a future version of Reno, Nevada. A catastrophic Ebola-like viral outbreak wiped out a large portion of the nation’s population, and the remaining citizens were moved into fifty walled cities across the country, where it’s easier to distribute the critical viral suppressant--discovered thanks to time travel--needed to prevent a future outbreak. 

Review: Shapeshifted (Edie Spence #3) by Cassie Alexander

I've been holding off on my review of the third installment of Cassie Alexander wonderfully unique Edie Spence series, as the farther along in a series one gets, the tougher it is to really talk book specifics without ruining the earlier novels.

So, please excuse the vagueness and generalities in my attempt to avoid being spoilerific.


Minor spoilers, which are also reference in the book's official summary, follow in this review. If you want to remain wholly unspoiled, read my review of the first novel in this series, Nightshifted.

I cannot express strongly enough how much I abhor being left behind. 

At the conclusion of Moonshifted, much of nurse Edie Spence's "normal" life was reset. The routine and community she'd developed--crazy though it was--fell apart and Shapeshifted finds her trying find a new place for herself in the wild, messy, complicated paranormal world she's embroiled in. This is made all the worst as Edie learns that her mother is terminally ill, and Edie is determined to utilize her, well, unusual, connections to save her.

As always, Edie's trying to go it alone, while also trying to save everyone.

Twofer Review: Shatter Me & Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

One of my favorite things about the book blogging world is that sometimes it gives me the shove I need to read books I would have normally passed up. Such is the case of Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me, which came highly recommended by the lovely Angie, whose taste is very similar to my own. 

Frankly, I'd assumed that ​the Shatter Me series was yet another in a long series of dystopian copycats that are just okay. (I'm looking at you, Divergent, Legend, Delirium, et al.) However, to my surprise, I was absolutely sucked into the--and I mean this in a good way--absolute weirdness of the writing style and narration.

​Juliette has spent her teen years locked away in a prison because her touch is fatal--she's killed before. Her family has shunned her and the system doesn't care about her. So she sits in a cell. Alone. Abandoned.

All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.

She frantically scribbles her semi-maniacal thoughts in a journal, until one day, she's no longer by herself. A new prisoner is locked up in her cell--it's Adam a boy from her past who has secrets of his own. ​

​Eventually (intentional vagueness here to avoid spoilage), the story's location shifts to the compound of the regional government, where the young madman Warner, hopes to figure out how to use Juliette's power for his own destructive purposes. 

In both Shatter Me and its sequel, Unravel Me, Warner steals many of the scenes.

Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

I was in the unusual position of holding all the cards. I had to decide what to do, and only I could do it. And I was going to do it. I had faced frightening things before and had been powerless. But not this time.

Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star was a real surprise for me in 2011. It had a bit of everything--mystery, paranormal, romance, humor--and it all came together in quickly-paced, gripping read.

The long-awaited sequel, The Madness Underneath, continues in the same vein, but amps up the over-arching intrigue factor, building the overarching mystery that began in the first Shades of London novel.

Note: the rest of review contains mild spoilers for the previous book in the series. If you want to remain wholly unspoiled about The Name of the Star and are curious about starting reading this series, please read Sandra's spoiler-free review of that book

The Madness Underneath revisits Rory, a Louisiana native in England who survived a run-in with the ghost of Jack the Ripper in the first novel, but was also profoundly transformed--in a very literal way. She's now a terminus, a human who can vanquish ghosts on contact. Her background means that she's mostly unflappable, even to her weird circumstances.

It’s possible that I have a higher tolerance for crazy talk than most people because of my background. I’ve channeled multicolored angels with my cousin and gone for discount waxes with my grandmother. I know two people who have started their own religions. One of my neighbors was arrested for sitting on top of the town equestrian statue dressed as SpiderMan. He just climbed up there with a few loaves of bread and tore them up and threw bread at anyone who got near him. Another neighbor puts up her Christmas decorations in August and goes caroling on Halloween to “fight the devil with song.”

Rory finds herself back in London after her parents sequestered her away in Bristol. She's rejoined her classmates at Wexford, the boarding school she left after her incident with the aforementioned ghost. Understandably, Rory has a difficult time adjusting, especially since her friends from the ghost catching squad (I call them the Ghost Busters in my head, but they're actually called The Shades), Stephen, Callum and Boo, seem to be missing. She's alone with her weird ability.

Mini Reviews: 3 Kate Shugak Novels by Dana Stebenow

I separate thrillers or mysteries into two distinct categories. 

I love the old fashioned sleuth stories consisting of smart detectives whose investigative skills rival Sherlock Holmes, where probing investigation and a nose for ferreting out truth pull you into the heart of the story. A second category is the titillating serial-killer aka psychopath who has no qualities except to do evil with a smart detective ready to take the disgusting psycho-human down.

Dana Stebenow's writing falls solidly into the first category with her Kate Shugak series.

Kate's a petite five-foot Aleut and a P.I. who lives on a 160-acre homestead in an Alaskan National Park. Her beloved companion Mutt is an impressively sized half-wolf half-husky who weighs significantly more than Kate. Mutt's love for and loyalty to Kate take them through adventures in the rugged Alaskan wilderness that completely satisfies my love of epic detective tales. (And stories involving dogs.)

Stabenow's written eighteen novels with Kate and Mutt delving into secrets and solving crimes. Old Sam Dementieff, her uncle who raised her as his daughter, her adopted teenage son Johnny and her love interest Trooper Jim Chopin are a colorful and always entertaining cast of characters. 

Kate's home in the wilderness is a half-hour trip to the closest settlement, the Ninilna village along the 600 mile long Kanuyaq River, a waterway rich in salmon that feeds into Prince William Sound. She comes in contact with recluses, dog mushers, miners, hunters, fishermen, park rangers and other natives: Aleuts, Athabascans and Tlingits. There's an inexhaustible array of individuals and an extensive history of Alaska. This in itself makes the reading of Stabenow's books a joy beyond good storytelling.

I recently read three of Stabenow's books, each one with a unique quality and story. I did not read them in the order they were written, which would be a preferred chronology, naturally. They are well-written and any references to past events are clearly delineated within each book. In fact, I read the most recent book first and will review them in the strange order in which I read them.

Review: Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

I realized then that even though I was a tiny speck in an infinite cosmos, a blip on the timeline of eternity, I was not without purpose.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was extraordinary. She could hear colors, and see sounds, and taste the difference between truth and lies.

Let go of your preconceived notions of reality. Then imagine a new reality, one where you hear colors, taste words and see sounds. You understand your sensations exist on a plane that others do not experience, so you cloak yourself in a garb of false normalcy hiding your true self and your understanding of the world from others. Even love has a unique flavor and sound only you can know.

When the music stopped, I'd been afraid even to look at him, sure he could hear my rapid heartbeat as clearly as I could see his steady teal-green one. When he'd slid away from me and gotten up, the wanting inside me had ached so hot that I'd had to stifle a whimper. Inwardly I'd berated myself, not just for feeling more than I should but for coming so close to sowing it.

At sixteen, Alison's life has turned into a nightmare.

R.J. Anderston creates a portrait of extraordinary senses in Ultraviolet beginning with her awakening in a mental institution where she pieces together her tangled memory to discover what occurred to bring her there. She's stunned by her condition, by the yellow-gray stink of sweat surrounding her. She believes her worst nightmare as become her present reality.

She's gone crazy. Alison is sure of it. Her mother has locked her away.