Friday, March 9, 2018

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 2nd 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.

Well, the new job has definitely taken it's toll on my reading time but I'm managing to get some time and I do think that as things get more settled in with it I will find more time to read. In the meantime though, my to-read pile keeps growing but somehow there are still books that I will get and somehow find the time to read...eventually.

Dark Queen by Faith Hunter is the 12th book in the Jane Yellowrock series and I'm already two books behind in it plus a good number of short stories so I'm a bit lost but it looks like Leo has made a very powerful enemy and Jane must help Leo come out alive or the entire city of New Orleans could be in very big trouble.

Release Date: May 1

The following week Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews  comes out. The 10th book in the Kate Daniels series and what could be the last in her story.  Kate's power has been brought to light and now a mysterious box has arrived that signals war from an ancient enemy and now she must join forces with one who is most likely to betray her but for her friends, her family, her baby, she must try.

Release Date: May 8

The last one is Brief Cases by Jim Butcher, a collection of short stories set in the world of Harry Dresden.  Most have been published before in other collections but I think I've only read the Big Foot ones and I do enjoy the world, just hoping for maybe some more Molly.

Release date: June 5

Thursday, March 8, 2018

12:100 Dr. Sinister's Home for Retired Villains by S. G. Browne

Dr. Jekyll isn't really friends with Professor Moriarty and Count Dracula but as the three residents who have been at Dr. Sinister's the longest, the have more in common with each other than with the newer residents. They didn't rely on technology or weapons but on manners and intellect.  Now there are new batches of washed up villains and when you get that many in one place, well, it's definitely not bound towards a fairy-tale ending.

A fun little what-if story supposing so many well known villains all ended up together and how interactions would play out.

Page count: 21p/1,913p ytd/293,934p lifetime

Saturday, March 3, 2018

11:120 Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

In April 1992, Chris McCandless walked into the Alaskan wilderness as the culmination of several years of soul searching.  His body was found in September of that same year.  This book focuses on Chris's life leading up to his decision to make that trek and the author's trying to piece together his final months.  By all accounts, Chris was intelligent and charismatic who was able to induce a parental protectiveness in several of the people he met as he was hitchhiking and wandering the country. His relationship with his parents is said to have been rocky but they were not abusive or ill-meaning.  There is nothing to suggest that when he embarked on this journey that his aim was death, in fact most of the evidence points in the opposite direction and that this was more about pulling a Thoreau than anything else.

This was part of the Hero's Journey literature unit we are doing for high school this year.  I think by the measure they are using, this does qualify. Chris was definitely trying to be true to himself and was ready to face daunting challenges in this quest. My biggest issue with this book was not in the story of Chris himself but the fact that the last 1/3 of the book the author inserted himself into the story in what I felt was an extreme amount.  We were regaled with stories of his climbing mountains and his father issues.  I get that he was trying to build more sympathy or understanding for Chris but for me, it failed and took away from Chris's story by making it more about the author.  The fact that the last chapter and the entire afterword were all about the author's trying to discover what exactly killed Chris and the lengths he went to again just seemed to be about inserting himself further into this story. I get that there is mystery and he was trying to solve it and maybe it's just the way he was telling it but it did not strike a good note with me.  I do think Chris's story was interesting and I enjoyed it, I just wish the author had done a better job of playing biographer.

Page count: 215p/1,892p ytd/293,913p lifetime

Saturday, February 24, 2018

10:100 Live in Brass by Seanan McGuire

Dianda is both furious and frustrated. She knew that her feelings for Patrick were not likely to reach fruition but she thought they at least had something worth exploring and that he felt the same about her so when she received a missive from another women telling her that Patrick simply couldn't be interested in a "beast" like her, she reacted by accepting the hand of the merrow from across the world who came to broker an alliance between their tribes. Now she is at her engagement party at King Gilad's house and hearing all kinds of things that started making her wonder just what is going on landside.

The story of what happened at Dianda's engagement party told from Dianda's point of view.  I have really enjoyed the Dianda/Patrick stories and this was wonderful hearing more about the undersea kingdom and races and listening to Dianda's constantly having to remind herself that she's not allowed to punch people in the face is pretty funny.  I wish more people on the land had her self-control.

Page count: 20p/1,677p ytd/293,698p lifetime

9:100 The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Melanie's life is simple and follows a very set routine. Every morning, the guards come and strap her into the wheelchair. She is wheeled into the classroom with the children who are also all strapped into their respective chairs. There they are taught by different teachers. Melanie's favorite teacher is Ms. Justineau. She tells them stories and one day even brought flowers into the classroom, something the children had never seen outside of books. Melanie's favorite thing is when Ms. Justineau reads them Greek myths. Melanie occasionally thinks about what life might be like outside her school building and what might happen when she grows up but the concepts are so foreign that she doesn't dwell on it long. 

Until the day when everything changes.

Junkers use a horde of hungries to break down the walls and invade the compound.  Melanie is saved by Ms. Justineau and in turn saves her (just like in her fantasies) but in doing so, she realizes she is different. She had suspected but now, after having a hunger nothing like she has ever known rise up in her as she attacks another person it has been confirmed. She is a hungry but she is not mindless. She can control herself to a great extent but it doesn't change the fact that she is not fully human, nor fully hungry, but something in between.  Now as she is traveling with Ms. Justineau, Dr. Caldwell (lead researcher of the facility), Sgt. Parks, and soldier Gallagher back to what has become the remains of civilization in England, Beacon, but the path there will not be easy for so many reasons.

I'm not a huge zombie fan but my oldest son is so as a result I've read a LOT of zombie books.  So many of them are the "zombie apocalypse just starting, how do we survive" which is overdone and boring as all crap.  As a result, I appreciate new and different takes on the zombie trope. This tale is not a completely new concept in the zombie universe but it was well executed and a compelling read as the characters were well-developed with enough actual backstory to give motivation and depth to them rather than just fitting them into their assigned molds because that was what the story demanded.  More interesting was the fact that the story truly centers on the relationship between Melanie and her teacher, Ms. Justineau which leads to a lot more introspection on how human relationships define us.  In all, a very enjoyable read.

Page count: 407p/1,657p ytd/293,678p lifetime

Sunday, February 18, 2018

8:100 Remedial English for Reanimated Corpses by S.G. Browne

Even at Bela Lugosi University, a school for the monsters of movie and nightmares, there has always been a hierarchy that has seen vampires and werewolves at the top and zombies as the lowest of the low.  They are the targets of the pranks by the vampires, taunted (and sprayed on) by the werewolves, no one stands up for them against any of this. It's just the way it has been and always will be. But one day things come to a head after one "joke" too many goes too far. Now the zombies are marching for justice..if only someone could understand what they are saying.

A fun tale of what a monster university could be like but I also feel like with much of his work, he is tackling some underlying cultural themes that are dominant today.  I think this could be the set-up to a much longer piece that would be hilarious and thought-provoking to read.  I can only hope.  It's been too long since we've had a new S.G. Browne novel!

Page count: 20p/1,250p ytd/293,271p lifetime

Monday, February 12, 2018

7:120 Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher's first memoir based on her hit stand-up routine (and for some reason the third of her memoirs that I read).  Her wit and style changed very little between the three (this, Shockaholic, and Princess Diarist) and is refreshingly honest and droll.  She talks about her childhood as the child of two Hollywood icons, their divorce and subsequent remarriages, her stepparents, growing up Fisher, how she found drugs and how they got their hooks into her, you know, the usual stuff. 

I grew up with Princess Leia being MY Princess.  The one who stood up to Tarkin and Vader, the one who strangled Jabba, the one who would save herself or die trying but not just give up easily.  I wasn't even 3 when Star Wars came out but she inspired me and now as an adult and reading about her life and her struggles, she inspires me even more. I only wish she were still here but her words live on and they will continue to inspire.  She has become more than our Princess, she is now our General.

Page count: 177p/1,230p ytd/293,251p lifetime