Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Duncan's Bookshelf Grab Bag o' Books Science Fiction/Fantasy Edition Vol. 2 Review

Duncan's Bookshelf is an interesting box. It's not a subscription box yet, though I do think they are moving that way. Instead, four times a year they release Grab Boxes. There are two sizes, Mini and Large, and have four and eight books respectively. This review is for the Mini box. The Large boxes have a chance for an autographed book inside, the Minis do not.

Since I read a LOT (almost 180 books this year with an average of 432 pages - thank you, Goodreads), I did not get the Large box because I figured there was more potential for getting ones I'd read before. Plus the Mini was $24.95 and the Large was $44.95. Shipping is free.

There are about eight categories and range from Science Fiction/Fantasy, Young Adult and Geeky/Gamer books to Music, Romance, Horror, Urban Fantasy and even a Seasonally Appropriate box. In other words, no matter your predilection, there's a box of books for you.

As of now, these are not newly released books, although in the future that may change, so keep that in mind. I'm actually really impressed that I've only read one of these books.

The Scrivener's Tale by Fiona McIntosh- How have I never heard of this author?! She has a million books! I can't tell you how happy I am and how much I hope that I love this writer.

Ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret was done with patients for good, until he meets Angelina, a young mute woman he’s been asked to mentor. When she starts speaking about another realm called Morgravia, he doubts her, but soon comes under the spell of her compelling visions. As Gabe delves deeper into Angelina’s unsettled psyche, he learns more about his own soul, his past, and whom he can trust in his own troubled life.
Value: $11 on Amazon (paperback)
Alloy of the Law by Brandon Sanderson- I absolutely love Brandon Sanderson. He's the guy who finished up Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I loved the Wheel of Time series (and yes, I did have to slog through Winter's Heart) but Sanderson definitely breathed fresh life into the last books.

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history―or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn, who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

I've read this book and enjoyed it. I really like the world that Sanderson has built and I've read all previous (and subsequent) books. If you like rich worlds, excellent vocabulary and flawed yet irresistable characters, you've got to read him. Definitely read the Mistborn series, of course, but Elantris and its companion and Warbreaker are excellent. The Stormlight Archives is tense material and not nearly so lighthearted.
Value: $16.99 on Amazon (hardback)
Bone Dance by Emma Bull- This book is old- from 2009- but that won't stop me from reading it. It gets good reviews on Amazon and I'm never above reading a YA book even if I'm double the age.

Sparrow's my name. Trader. Deal-maker. Hustler, some call me. I work the Night Fair circuit, buying and selling pre-nuke videos from the world before. I know how to get a high price, especially on Big Bang collectibles. But the hottest ticket of all is information on the Horsemen―the mind-control weapons that tilted the balance in the war between the Americas. That's the prize I'm after.

But it seems I'm having trouble controlling my own mind.

The Horsemen are coming.
Value: $9
Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell- This is the only one I would categorize as science fiction. Which is fine with me because I prefer fantasy over space anyway. That's not entirely true since I love the Paksenarrion World Chronicles enough to have read them at least twice already.

Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it's about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.

Enter the Gaia Corporation. Its two founders have come up with a plan to roll back global warming. Thousands of tiny mirrors floating in the air can create a giant sunshade, capable of redirecting heat and cooling the earth's surface. They plan to terraform Earth to save it from itself--but in doing so, they have created a superweapon the likes of which the world has never seen.

Anika Duncan is an airship pilot for the underfunded United Nations Polar Guard. She's intent on capturing a smuggled nuclear weapon that has made it into the Polar Circle and bringing the smugglers to justice.

Anika finds herself caught up in a plot by a cabal of military agencies and corporations who want Gaia Corporation stopped. But when Gaia Corp loses control of their superweapon, it will be Anika who has to decide the future of the world. The nuclear weapon she has risked her life to find is the only thing that can stop the floating sunshade after it falls into the wrong hands.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bucknell, the reviews are less than stellar. However I'm willing to give it a chance, despite editing errors, cardboard characters and confusing plot.
Value: $8?

VERDICT: I am actually looking forward to the next Grab Bag o' Books release or at least an announcement of a subscription model. This selection of books works really well for me and I still am thrilled to have been introduced to at least one new author (two, counting Emma Bull). I don't even mind that these are older books because I've read so many new ones that it would be really hard to send books I haven't read. I know that's not for everyone though, so keep it in mind.

You can check out Duncan's Bookshelf right here. There are no available Grab Bags currently but if you want notification, you can sign up for their emails on their Facebook page (here).

What do you think of a book subscription with just books and no extras? Personally... I like it!

*affiliate links used in this post.


  1. When you said that these are not new books, do you mean that they are not sending out newly released books, or that the books are pre-owned? Because one can get pre-owned books for almost the price of exact flat rate shipping on eBay, not to dampen your enthusiasm for curated reading, of course. :)

    1. Oh, that didn't even occur to me! No, these are new books but not newly released. I will clarify that.

  2. Thanks for the review! Some new authors to try, hooray! Can I also recommend you War for the Oaks by Emma Bull - I really enjoyed that one (it's the only one of her books I've read so far). I still have it on my bookshelf and dig it out from time to time!

    Oh, blessed Christmas!

    1. Merry Christmas! And yes, I just put War for the Oaks on my wishlist! Thank you for suggesting it. :D New authors are always something I'm happy to find!