Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 21: Christmas-January Haul, Plus My Reading Plan for 2016

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Stacking The Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga’s Reviews that shares the books (both physical and virtual) that you recently purchased, borrowed from a fellow reader or the library, won from a giveaway, or received as gifts. Stacking The Shelves will post on Saturdays as new books are added to my shelves.

It’s been a while since the last Stacking The Shelves post! I always try to be good (i.e., not buy any books) in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and I did pretty well with my ban again this year. Of course, I put books on my Christmas list instead, just to make up for it. 😉

Today’s post will be a mix of gifted books and other additions to my (overflowing) bookshelves. And, since last year’s reading plan worked out amazingly well, I have a new one for 2016 and will share that, too.

Finally, this is the first post using photos taken with my new camera. I’m still learning some of its functions, but for the most part the pics came out pretty well!

The Christmas Gifts


From top to bottom:

20,000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature’s Healing Herbs by Victoria Zak (Health / Reference): The family friend who gave me this knows me too well. 😉 This focuses not so much on “normal” teas (black, green, etc.), but on spices, flowers, fruits, and other types of herbs or natural ingredients that can be ingested as tea would be. (The more accurate terms would be “herbal infusion” or “tisane,” but who’s keeping track? *wink*) This will be a welcome companion for The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies, which I bought last year for novel research and home remedies and has been fascinating so far.

Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, Books #2 and #3) by Laini Taylor (YA Fantasy): I kid you not – I FREAKED OUT when I unwrapped these two books!! (That got some rather interesting reactions from the family. XD ) Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of my favorite non-2015 books I read last year, so these were easy picks for my first two reads of 2016.

The Twelfth Stone by Jana Laiz (Fantasy): My friend and I had spotted this book at the Boston Book Festival in October. (Jana and her publisher Crow Flies Press are both based in Massachusetts, where I live.) Neither of us had any idea that The Twelfth Stone was a Celtic-inspired fairy story until I read the back cover. I would have bought it right there and then if I wasn’t being cautious about my budget then… So, imagine my surprise when that friend gave me The Twelfth Stone for Christmas. Turns out she had bought it when I was at a different BBF session, and got it signed by the author!

The Purchases

STS January 2016 02

From left to right:

The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo (Historical Fiction): I’ve already read The Violinist of Venice, since the author had sent me an signed ARC last year. However, I really wanted to a) show my support when the book was released in December, and b) see the gorgeous final cover in printed form. So, of course I had to buy it. Congrats again, Alyssa! 🙂

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, Book #1) by Susan Dennard (YA Fantasy): I’m still wary of heavily hyped YA fantasies (such books don’t always satisfy me), and Truthwitch is exactly that for Winter 2016. However, the premise sounds so cool! And the primary relationship is a friendship between two female leads. There isn’t many of those in speculative fiction, regardless of the specific genre or target age group. So I’m crossing my fingers and really, honest-to-goodness hoping that Truthwitch will be worthwhile.

Leaning Tower of Books 01

Dear friends, I introduce you to… my Leaning Tower of Books! Which isn’t actually leaning, but you get the idea, right?

The Reading Plan for 2016

Last year’s reading plan was an awesome success! Not only did it help me prioritize my reading choices, but it also reminded me to dip into my “backlist” (unread books still sitting on my shelves) once in a while. The other thing that’s kept me organized is the rather precarious stack of books shown in the photo above. It sits next to my bedroom chair, where I do most of my reading; and basically, whatever is on top is the next book I’m going to read.

Here’s a general plan of what I want to read in 2016, after I finish the Daughter and Smoke and Bone Trilogy:

  1. 2016 Books: Staying on top of new releases is still important to me. So, like last year, I’m going to read any 2016 books I buy as soon as I can.
  2. Fairy Novels: Last year I read 7 books as part of my “market research” project to better understand how my WIP compares to published novels with fairy or Fey characters. However, there are SO many fairy stories out there that I’m going to continue the project this year and in 2017. The only problem is, I’ve run out of such novels to read, with the exception of The Twelfth Stone. I’ll have to nab some more soon!
  3. Andy Weir’s The MartianYes, I loved the movie. No, I still don’t have the book. But I’m fixing that the next time I go to Barnes & Noble, and you bet I won’t wait long to read it. 😀
  4. Continuing Series I’ve Started: I enjoyed the first installments of several completely published or in-progress series last year and am hoping to continue as many as possible in 2016. That said, I’ll keep my expectations low and make two series / second books my priorities for this category:
  5. Starting Series I’ve Yet to Read: I’m abysmally behind on so many speculative fiction series, it’s not even funny. However, I already own several “first books,” and these are the next five in my Leaning Tower of Books (and therefore the series I should have time to start in 2016):
    • Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms Series, starting with The Demon King
    • Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass Series, starting with Throne of Glass
    • Jay Kristoff’s Lotus War Trilogy, starting with Stormdancer
    • Marie Lu’s Legend Trilogy, starting with Legend
    • Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms Series, starting with Falling Kingdoms
  6. Catching Up on Classics & Other “Backlist” Titles: I’ve only chosen a few, given how many books I’ve already listed, but these are my classic or “backlist” picks for this year:

* I haven’t bought this book yet, but it’s the same case as with The Martian: I’m reading it as soon as I get it!!

What books did you recently buy or acquire? Have you read or are planning to read of the books discussed above? Also, what are some of your reading priorities for 2016?

44 thoughts on “Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 21: Christmas-January Haul, Plus My Reading Plan for 2016

  1. As ever, a really entertaining and informative article, Sara. I do like your approach to set out a proper plan for your 2016 reading. As for your reading list – I heartily approve of your choices – if you enjoyed the first slice of Rothfuss goodness, ‘Wise Man’s Fear’ just goes on getting better – I’ll say no more about Jemisin as I’m conscious I’m beginning to sound a BORE about her writing… ‘The Martian’ is a WONDERFUL read, so you’re in for a treat, there. I’ll be interested what you make of ‘Stormdancer’ – it is certainly something different and the second book, ‘Kinslayer’ is significantly darker.
    And thanks to you, I’ve just got hold of ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ – isn’t the cover GORGEOUS?? I’m in the middle of an apocalyptic sci fi adventure set in drought-stricken America, ‘Gold Fame Citrus’, courtesy of Netgalley but I’ll be tucking into it as soon I’ve finished it. And I’ve just finished reading ‘Truthwitch’ which I REALLY enjoyed! Looking forward to hearing your reactions to all your fabulous books:) Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sarah! Last year’s reading plan really helped with prioritizing, staying on top of things, and plain ol’ remembering some of my long-unread books. Creating a new one for 2016 was a no-brainer. 😉

      I actually should have another STS post in a couple weeks, because I was very bad and went book-shopping last night. (Gift cards can do that to you, right? *lol*) So I now have a couple of the titles you mentioned in your comments, and I’ll be ALL kinds of excited when I blog about them! 😀

      Ohhhhhhhhhhhh I hope hope hope you really enjoy Daughter of Smoke and Bone! And I’m going to start Truthwitch tonight, so your positive remarks give me hope that it will live up to its hype. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That tea book looks great. I’d like to take a peek at one and I’d love to get Truthwitch as well. I heard that it has some influence from Avatar: The Last Airbender and anything that reminds me of that show goes high on the list of things I must get and check out.

    I recently got Station Eleven so I think I’ll read that next. I read the first 42 pages in a sample a few weeks ago and I’m burning to know what happens next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I also read that Susan Dennard is a big Avatar: The Last Airbender fan, and the show had some influence on Truthwitch. I’m starting Truthwitch tonight, btw, so I hope it’s good!

      Let me know what you think of Station Eleven. I keep hearing good things about it, but I’ve been hesitant to check it out for myself. Is it more “literary” in style writing-wise?


  3. Can’t wait to hear what you think when you read The Martian! I adored that book, although I haven’t seen the movie yet. And Truthwitch is on my list for sure. It’s a book I’ve been trying to get ahold of since last July but I just never could. Luckily I have an Amazon card just waiting to be spent!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually saw the movie already – which is bad, I know, since I haven’t read the book yet. But I wanted to catch it while it was still in theaters, and am I so glad I did. Spectaculary, hilarious, and just science-y enough that it didn’t go over my head. I can’t wait to read it. In fact, you’ll see it in my next STS post in a week or two! 😀 😉

      As for Truthwitch, I’m going to start it tonight. I really hope it lives up to all the hype!


  4. All those books!! ❤
    I don't think I'd be interested in all of them, necessarily, but I'm still happy for you and hope you enjoy them immensely! There is one I'm curious about, though… The Twelfth Stone. I've never heard of it before, but it sounds fascinating… let me know what you think of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have the ebooks/audiobooks of Laini Taylor’s trilogy so I’m actually quite shocked at how hefty the books themselves look! Yeah, thinking back, I guess they were pretty long 🙂 I hope you enjoy them, because I feel the later books are quite different from Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

    I’m also looking forward to your thoughts on Truthwitch! I hope to have my review posted next week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually finished the trilogy last night, so my full reviews of Blood & Starlight and Gods & Monsters will go up in January (Blood & Starlight is already up on Goodreads)… But in short, I loved the second book almost as much as the first, and the final book… well, I liked it, but I thought it could have been shorter and better paced.

      Regarding Truthwitch: Cool! I just started it today, so I may or may not be done by the time your review posts, depending on when that happens. We’ll see. 😉


  6. I like your goals. It’s definitely a good idea to have them listed out. We came up with one ourselves that we’ll be posting soon. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by ARCs and new releases that we forget what’s on our bookshelves. At least that’s the case for me. The Throne of Glass series is fantastic – I love it thiugh I haven’t read the most recent book yet. I did enjoy Daughter of Smoke & Bones but I never got around the reading the remaining two books in that series. Something I need to correct this year. Your synopsis of Truthwitch has me very interested it. I agree with you that having two female leads is uncommon and something to check into. Hope you enjoy all your books and good luck with your goals! Here’s ours: Bibliojunkies Happy reading! ~ Bel

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Bel! Having a reading plan really helped me stay on track last year, so I’m hoping this year’s will do the same.

      Personally, I loved the Book #2 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and thought Book #3 was OK. But if you loved the first book, definitely continue on when you have a chance. Just know that Days of Blood & Starlight (Book #2) has a much darker, bleaker tone than its predecessor.


  7. My plan for 2016 is “READ LOTS. And try to read more than just fantasy.” Hehe, I want to try to read some classics. I’m still trying to figure out what classics, but so far I have Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet, the Odyssey, and To Kill a Mockingbird. (Any other suggestions?)

    Curious, have you read any of Brandon Sanderson? (I don’t ask for any real reason, except that Sanderson is one of my favorite fantasy authors.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • *lol* Yeah, I have a tendency to go bonkers with fantasy, too. I read a little bit of historical fiction, science fiction, and other genres… and sometimes I tell myself I should “distribute” my genre-reading more evenly, but that never quite happens. So I know the feeling.

      Favorite classics… the three that come to mind are Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Charlotte Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and Emily Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Have you read those yet?

      No! I haven’t read any Brandon Sanderson yet, and I’ve been meaning to! 😦 This is exactly what I meant when I said I’m abysmally behind on so many fantasy series. *lol*

      Thanks for stopping by, Shim. 🙂


      • Hehe, same here.

        Ooh. I’ve read Jane Eyre, but not the other two. I’ll add them to my list.

        Hehe. I recommend starting with his Mistborn trilogy. I also love his Stormlight Archive, but the first book, Way of Kings, is…I think it’s about 800 pages? Mistborn, on the other hand, is way more normal-book-sized. (And both series are awesome anyway.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, 800 pages isn’t quite as long as your average George R.R. Martin book. Those are behemoths. 😉 So I think I could handle Way of Kings.

        I didn’t realize that Sanderson had two different Mistborn series. Does it matter which one I start with?


      • True. There are certainly other books far larger than Way of Kings.

        Yup, he has two, and I think he’s planning at least two more series, as well. (Each one is set in a different era.) I would start with the original series first.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I really like your idea of a reading plan and should probably implement something similar. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy looks totally fab, as always, probably because it’s such a great series on the inside too 😉 I’m excited but a little hesitant about Truthwitch as well, hope you enjoy your new reads!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alise! 🙂

      I actually finished the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy the night before this posted (I’d drafted the post a week or so earlier). Personally I loved the first two books and was just OK with the final one, but as a whole this series is definitely one I recommend. I’ll post reviews of the second and third books in February, if you’re interested.

      Truthwitch… is OK so far. I’m 120-ish pages in, so I’m hoping it will grow on me… but I haven’t quite figured out why I’m struggling with it, either.


  9. Truthwitch is sitting on my floor, looking at me. I looked back. That was all.
    Stormdancer is also on my to-read pile. And A Wise Man’s Fear.
    I have mixed feelings about the Seven Realms Series – while I like the world and concept (and Chima’s writing), they were a little mushy for me (I know I sound like a 9-year old, I accept it). I actually prefer her Heir Series
    Fairy books are a tricky thing, aren’t they? I always seem to like the concept of them better than the actual book! And have I ever asked you if you’ve read “The Perilous Gard.”?”
    I always enjoy reading your book list posts 🙂 Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m actually struggling with Truthwitch at the moment… I think it’s Susan Dennard’s writing style, but I’m trying to hang on and see where everything is going. The magic system is neat, though. I love the visual aspect of Iseult’s Threadpowers.

      I’ve heard some positive things about the Seven Realms series, and some “meh” things as well. And I’d heard about her Heir books, too, but decided to check out Seven Realms first since…. well, you know, it’s epic fantasy. How can I pass that up, really? 😉

      It actually hasn’t been difficult to “track down” fairy novels. I’ve got quite the wishlist so far! It’s just that I keep forgetting to buy my next batch of ’em.

      I think you’ve mentioned The Perilous Gard before… I want to say you talked about it on your blog, but I don’t remember which post… Either way, it’s on my wishlist now. Thanks!

      I’ve actually gone book-shopping since this post when live… so… there will be MORE books to discuss very soon! 😉


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  11. Epic leaning tower of books you have there! If I were a dwarf, I wouldn’t want to stand under it. 😉 And from what your comments say, you’ve bought even more books since this post, and I’m assuming that means the tower will grow!

    The Throne of Glass series is one I need to start this year! I hear it’s getting a TV series too. 🙂

    I like how you have a reading plan. It’s a more efficient way to get through more books in a year, I think. I’ve been reading the Iron King series, and I’m not sure what to think of it. The writing style isn’t my favorite, but I do like the faery realm and mystery. The cat and Puck are fun characters, but I really want to hit Ash with a stick, and Meghan doesn’t have much of a brain at times. XD And yet I still want to know what happens next, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • *lol* Actually, the Tower hasn’t grown at all. When I buy books, I reshuffle the pile as needed. For example, any 2016 books go straight to the top, and sometimes I remove books from the bottom if they’re not high on my list of reading priorities. Besides, if that Tower ever gets too tall, I’d be asking for trouble… :S

      I heard about the TV rights for Throne of Glass as well. Based on where that book is in the Tower right now, I’ll probably get to it during the spring.

      I read The Iron King last year, and I know what you’re talking about. Some of the characters (Meghan especially) annoyed me too much for me to want to continue the series.

      Btw, your comment about fairy novels reminded me that I need to restock on those very soon. I only have one more left to read right now. :S

      GAH. So many books!!

      Liked by 1 person

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