Saturday, June 9, 2018

26:100 Jealous in Honor by Seanan McGuire

October Daye patreon short story. Cyne, the sister and murderer of Cailin's father who tried to pin it all on her mother Colleen is back in the Kingdom of Londinium.  Tybalt knows what he must do to keep his family and kingdom safe but it will mean playing a part he does not enjoy with unintended consequences and broken hearts to come.

I love Tybalt but this is looking like things are being set up to show us how he ended up in the Bay Area and it doesn't look like it will be a happy journey for him.

Page count: 14p/5,934p ytd/597,955p lifetime

Thursday, June 7, 2018

25:100 Smoke by Dan Vyleta

It's England 100 years or so ago but not the England that we know.  Now when people sin, their body lets go of the smoke. The deeper and darker the sin, the deeper and darker the smoke that the body exhales from every pore.  You can smoke in your sleep and if you are part of the wealthy and elite, you will wake in the morning and check your bedclothes for evidence of sin in your dreams. This is the world that Thomas and Charlie live in at their boarding school.  Thomas who seems to constantly be smoking almost as much as he breathes and Charlie who barely ever seems to do anything that could be considered even the slightest of sins.  They are an unlikely pair but a friendship has formed so when it is suggested that Charlie accompany Thomas on holiday where he has been invited by an extremely influential family, of course he goes. 

That's where they meet Lady Naylor and her daughter. That's where Thomas starts learning more about smoke and where it comes from and how the elite use a special sweet to trap their own smoke to look more pure and a special cigarette that allows them to feel the effects of stronger smoke for a brief time. That's where everything changes and Tom, Charlie, and Livia end up becoming fugitives trying to figure out what Lady Naylor's end game really is.  They could never have imagined what she has planned if they hadn't seen it for themselves.

It's been a few days and I still don't know quite how I feel about this book.  Some of the concepts were interesting but I didn't feel like there was enough explanation to satisfy all the questions I had about the Smoke and how it worked. It seemed to be plot driven more than any specific set of laws.  Motives for everyone felt fairly weak and the story moved but didn't seem to go anywhere really.  The deeper explanations into personal behavior and motivation that it kept dancing around were what it seemed like it wanted to be about never materialized, instead staying to the outside like vague wisps of smoke when a fire is smoldering but never going to actually catch.  That is the story that I thought it was going to tell and the one that would have really interested me but I kept reading and waiting and it just never happened.  I guess I can say that this is a book that I read.  I didn't hate it but I also didn't see a whole lot of point to it.

Page count: 448p/5,920p ytd/297,941p lifetime

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

24:100 Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Autobiography. Trevor Noah offers a unique perspective of growing up colored (half black, half white) in South Africa during the end of apartheid.  His birth itself was against the law which meant that much of his young like before the end of apartheid was spent being hidden.  Out in public, neither parent could actually afford to acknowledge kinship with him without risking potential jail time and the government taking him away.  This meant a life of being inside almost continually where, apparently, he was very adept at getting into trouble but because he was half-white, most of his family let him get away with whatever horrid thing he had done.  But not his mom.  Throughout the entire book you can feel the love and admiration Trevor has for his mom.  The risks she took having him, keeping him safe, and trying to make sure he grew up to have a good life were a testament to her love and strength of will.

From a historical point of view, it was also an interesting read because I remember apartheid in South Africa being talked about a bit when I was in elementary school and being happy when it ended but as I've started to become more aware of how we treat non-whites here in our country, reading this has opened my eyes more to our own oppression of people of color, especially African Americans, and how closely it manages to mirror in many ways those of that apartheid in South Africa.  It's not written into law, as such, but when you start researching redlining, looking at how media and news portrays those of color in their word choices, lack of representation in so many areas, arrest and jail statistics, the parallels are pretty easy to draw.  I only hope that we can wake up and listen to the voices soon and start truly making this country a land of equality for all.

Page count: 288p/5,472p ytd/297,493p lifetime

Friday, June 1, 2018

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 3rd Quarter 2018

My usual disclaimer:

Let me state, this is really based on authors or series that I'm already reading since those are the things I follow.  I'm not paid to write this blog nor do I have any affiliations with any publishers so I don't receive free books or advance notice of things except what I glean off Facebook from people who do have those contacts or what I research on my own (which again, leads back to authors that I'm already reading).  Maybe someday I'll be one of those who has the contacts and gets ARCs but it's not today.

So last quarter I was thinking that as I got more used to the job, I would find a better balance and have more time for reading.

Yeah, not so much.  What I have found is that this job cycles from crazy to insane when an election is drawing near.  I probably should have figured that out but apparently I'm either an optimist or deluded (probably the later LOL).  I'm really enjoying it but it has definitely proven to be a lot more than I originally bargained on and my reading has greatly suffered.  Add in two deaths in my immediate family in a two week span of time, end of school year craziness, and volunteer work craziness and well, I'm lucky to read a few pages a day.  I haven't finished a book club book since February and have had almost no personal reading time.  With the primary election cycle just about done, I'm hoping to get some things caught up and balanced a little bit better before school and the general election craziness starts up but I'm thinking that my goal of reading 100 books this year is looking like a pipe dream unless I find a whole lot more short stories and comics.  LOL

None of this means that I haven't been keeping an eye on books that I want to read (and in some cases adding them to my growing To Read pile) so here's what is currently on my radar:

Yasmine Galenorn has been very prolific since going independent with several new series going all at the same time and I have not been able to keep up with them but the second book in the Wild Hunt series, Oak and Thorns, is coming out.  I haven't had a chance to read the first book in the series yet but the series looks interesting with this one hitting political intrigue, shadow magic, a serial killer, and the King of Thorns.

Release date - July 2

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik is not part of an actual series except that it's another her reimagined fairy tales, this time Rumpelstiltskin.  I really enjoyed Uprooted which is her version of Beauty and the Beast and I can't wait to see what she does with this one.

Release date - July 10

Next up is the third book in the Custard Protocols by Gail Carriger.  Competence sees Miss Primrose going from Singapore to Peru to pursue some of life's most challenging questions such as "Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul?"  I have not yet read the other books in this series but I've loved the other series set in this universe and am looking forward to getting to these.

Release date - July 17

Also coming out this day is Seanan McGuire's second book in her Ghost Roads series, The Girl in the Green Silk Gown.  Rose Marshall has been dead for 60 years now and still looking for her killer.  She's been an avenging killer in her own right but still she wants the one that got away, the one that made a deal with the Crossroads that won't let him die...Bobby Cross.  But now Bobby is back in the picture and will it be one that Rose can continue to haunt?

Release date - July 17

Another double release for the end of July starts with Portents by Kelley Armstrong.  While the Cainsville series is technically over (although I still need to read the last two books), Ms. Armstrong is doing like she did with her Otherworld series and giving us other tales set in the world.  Some have been previously released and I've read before, others seem to have been previously released and I haven't heard of, and at least one is new for this collection.

Release date - July 31

We also get a new Dorina Basarab book in Shadow's Bane by Karen Chance.  I have enjoyed Dory's stories much more than the Cassie Palmer ones lately and it's been a long time since we got a new one and I'm really looking forward to it.  Dory is now the newest member of the Vampire Senate and as their war with the Fae is heating up, she is finding out that the slavers who may have her friend's relative may be up to something far worse than arranging death matches.

Release date - July 31

Only one book is on my radar for August but it's a huge one as Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews is said to be the conclusion to the Kate Daniels series.  The Witch Oracle's visions are becoming more intense and then Kate receives a delivery from an ancient enemy who has almost destroyed her family before.  To save Curran, her child, her friends, her city, Kate must team up with the most unlikely of allies even knowing she may not survive because otherwise everything she loves will die.

Release date - August 28

I get to go from one favorite series to another as we get the next installment for October Daye the next week.  Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire does not promise to be sweetness and light for October though since Jazz and Tybalt are still trying to recover from their ordeal at the hands of October's mother.  Toby is also hurt as she can't just snap her fingers and make things better for her family so the universe has given her a distraction in the form of kidnapping her human daughter, Gillian, but we know that nothing in Toby's life is simple or easy and this case will prove no exception.

Release date - September 4

Closing out this quarter's books is Time Convert by Deborah Harkness.  Set in the world of her All Soul's trilogy, this bounces us between Matthew's conversion of Marcus to a vampire during the American Revolution and then Marcus's conversion of Phoebe in modern times and how will some things change, some things will remain the same. 

Release date - September 25

Saturday, May 26, 2018

23:100 American Vision published by Glenco

Review from 2015:
High School History Text Book.  A look at American history starting with a brief overview of how people came to the Americas and Native American culture (seriously, 16 pages on all of this), and then n it starts in on the colonization by the Spanish and moves on from there.  It does do a better job than my high school history books in that it looks at more than colonization, the Civil War, and WWII but it still tends to be glossed over certain areas and the writing is drab and not very engaging.  This one only goes through 2003 with a special 2004 election update so it will be the last time I use this edition and I'm curious how the Iraq war and Bush's presidency will be portrayed in the next edition I get.

So I thought that would be the last time that I would use that edition but the new updated course from my preferred high school curriculum has switched over to a new format where it is not tied to a book but wants you to do research based on the questions in the syllabus.  While I like that style of learning for things like science, I think it's problematic for something like history for a variety of reasons.  First being that when you are searching for answers like that in terms of history, it's very easy to miss a lot of the nuances and surrounding issues that affected things.  Second, in this day and age of the internet it is very easy to be sucked down into holes of things that are factually incorrect but are doing a very good job of looking like authentic trustworthy sites.  So I prefer a textbook when it comes to history and so I stuck with this edition and will see what happens when I circle back around to this course for the last time in about 5 years.

Page count: 1138p/5,184p ytd/297,205p lifetime

Friday, May 25, 2018

22:100 History of US Vol 10: All the People by Joy Hakim

Review from 2013:
Middle School US History covering 1945-2009.  I learned a lot from this one.  I've heard about the Vietnam War and Korean War but never had any inkling as to what they were really about.  It's nice to at least have a basic understanding of them now and to have a better grasp on who the presidents were between Roosevelt and Kennedy and then Carter who is the first president I remember.  It was even more interesting reading her take on the times of my childhood and now my adulthood.  I thought that while fairly simplistic, she did a decent job of trying to present a rounded perspective.  It's definitely been opening some dialog in my house and that is never a bad thing.

Yeah, it was a good refresher on those subjects.  Made even more interesting because I was also reading high school American History this year and of course, this is really where they finally intercept and this one is much more in depth in a lot of ways.

Page count: 297p/4,046p ytd/296,067p lifetime

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

21:100 Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Janie was born to a young girl who was not ready to be a mother and so was raised by her Nanny (grandmother) but Nanny is aging and has been a slave to men and seen what her daughter went through and wants a better life for Janie so arranges for her to marry a wealthy man who can keep her in comfort.  Janie has thoughts of her own about this but does as Nanny wants and it's ok for a little while.  There is no passion and it's a dull life but Janie thinks that these things will grow but instead the longer she is married to her first husband, the more he starts demanding of her and demeaning her.  This leads her to runaway with Joe who promised her passion and vitality and that he was going to make something of himself in a big way.  And he did become a successful businessman and mayor of a small town but he was also controlling and demeaning of her and she was still miserable until he died.  After that, Janie was not sure she wanted another husband who would control her every move.  She was finally enjoying her freedom but then Teacake came along and taught her to play chess and shoot a gun and all sorts of things that are generally thought to be for men only and he made her laugh and she fell in love.  They were married and Teacake treated her more like an equal and partner than anyone else ever had and she loved it and him.  They were good together and she grew into a whole person and more sure of herself.  Unfortunately, nothing that good can last.

I had never even heard of this book or author until this year's new literature course.  I read reviews talking about how the dialect made it difficult to understand and I can see that.  I found that I definitely had to slow down when reading it to make sure I was understanding it properly but it was the right fit for this story.  The imagery in the prose was masterfully done and the characters were well fleshed out and realistic.  I'm very glad to have read it.

Page count: 219p/3,749p ytd/295,770p lifetime