Wednesday, August 31, 2011

104:72 Lover Unleashed by JR Ward

The 9th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  This one is supposedly the story of Payne (V's sister) and her mate but thankfully that's only marginally the main story.  Their courtship is the same one we see every time that reminds me of what people think a Tarzan movie should be.  It boils down to a man beating his chest and declaring "female mine!" after getting first glimpse at said female.  Female basically swoons and opens her legs.  They don't bother to get to know each other, likes/dislikes, or anything else before the dance begins.  Maybe, just maybe they'll get a little bit of that before they end up mated for life...but not usually.  As usual, she starts off with a human/vampire pairing that would of course be forbidden but oh, hey lookie here, that human actually has vampire blood in him so now it's all good.

The only interesting part of the book was the "side story" between V and Jane where he finally got his head put on a bit straighter.  In all tho, this book had the same storyline as all the previous ones.  Nothing really progresses in the world since that can only happen every 3rd book or so apparently, and all the problems are solved with a magic wand so two people who don't know each other can be together and we'll barely ever see mention of them again in future books.

Why do I read them?  In all honesty, I wasn't going to read this one.  I read the others because my SIL raved about them but they are dull, copies of the first one.  I thought the world had potential but the author refuses to actually build the world up any more than needed for the thin storyline she concocts to bring two people of different worlds with nothing in common together.  I only grabbed this one from the library because I was in a headspace where I wanted to read but didn't want to concentrate on anything of any substance and didn't care if I remembered any of it after reading it.  Something with simple words and no real plot.  This totally fit that bill.

Page count: 489p/21,823p ytd

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

104:71 An Age of Science & Revolutions by Toby E. Huff

Middle School History covering 1600-1800AD.  The Age of Reason, Scientific Discovery , and Enlightenment. I learned a lot reading this one and it's probably one of my favorite of the series.  Some truly remarkable thinkers which I wish were more listened to today.  I also find it fascinating to see the steps in how people built upon the knowledge that had gone before or the realizations they came up with by asking the right questions at the right time.  Just goes to show that asking questions is always a good idea.

Page count: 160p/21,334p ytd

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

104:70 Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton

The 20th book in the Anita Blake series.  This series is a trainwreck that I just can't help but reading.  I've finally put my foot down to myself and refused to buy this one but got it from the library instead.  Why? Simply because the last 10 books or so have just gone downhill from having meaningful plots, murders to solve, and strong characters to a whiny main character always moaning about her fate with a string of porn scenes that were basically all the same except with lots of different men (to provide more whining about) with a thin attempt at a plot to try and tie the sex scenes together.  So why read this one?  As I said, it's a trainwreck.  The first several books were so good for the genre and every once in a while, you get a glimpse at what used to be and it gives you hope that she's turning it around...until she yanks the rug out from under you and the next one is nothing but sex.

This is one of the better ones.  First, there was only one sex scene in the whole book, it was short and sweet and didn't show up until halfway through.  Second, there was an actual to goodness plot!  Edward is back, as are Olaf and Bernardo.  There is a serial murderer out there and Anita knows who it is.  The Harlequin are back under the direction of Mommy Darkness and they want Anita.  Lots of detective work piecing things together, lots of action scenes.  The ending was a bit too pat but at least it made sense and drew on powers that Anita had acquired in other books rather than an orgy to give her more powers than g-d again.

I do think that the way this one ended while leaving a few loose ends was a great place to end the series.  Unfortunately, I doubt that Ms. Hamilton will.  I will say tho, that if you enjoyed the earlier books, you will enjoy this one.

Page Count: 320p/21,174p ytd

Sunday, August 14, 2011

104:69 Hex and the City by Simon Green

The 4th book in the Nightside series by Simon Green.  John Taylor has been hired by Lady Luck to find the origins of the Nightside, something that has been around forever and no one knows how.  John brings along Sinner, his demon love Pretty Poison, and Madman.  Each play a unique part in the quest that could bring about the destruction of the Nightside.  Obviously, the Authorities know about this and have sent Walker to stop him, no holds barred.

No major spoilers but John does finally learn the truth of his past and his mother's identity but only after destroying several Powers of the Nighstide.  I continue to enjoy the series, a bit slow moving at times but the tongue in cheek noire keeps me coming back for more.

Page count: 246p/20,854p

Friday, August 12, 2011

104:68 An Age of Voyages by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks

Middle-school history detailing the impact of trade and seafaring on civilizations around the world from 1350CE-1600CE.  I found that this one, unlike many in the series, focused more on the impact on Europe from trade.  There was one chapter on China, one on Africa mostly discussing how slavery impacted Europe, and then one on Central and South America that talked about how Spain benefited from what they got there.  Very little was discussed on how those things hurt the natives and what the long term impact was on them which I found disheartening.  Otherwise, it was pretty standard and a bit duller than the previous ones but still better than many textbooks covering this topic.

Page count: 179p/20,608p ytd

Thursday, August 11, 2011

NPR Top 100 SciFi/Fantasy

Ok, one thing I have to admit.  I'm kind of a list nerd when it comes to my books.  I didn't use to be this way and I'm not sure quite when or how it happened but I'm definitely pretty OCD when it comes to my books.  I have my to-read stuff on both Goodreads and Shelfari.  Shelfari actually has my read list as well for the last several years and I'll be porting that over to Goodreads too as soon as I have some time to do so.  I researched several lists of classics to figure out what books I should search out and read outside of my normal genre.  I then comprised a spreadsheet which is still in progress that lists all those books and how many lists they appear on and then calculates that to give each book a numerical value in terms of how quickly I should get to reading it.  It also lists if I own the book or have it on a wishlist and whether or not I've read it.  It's kind of a work in progress since I'm constantly finding new lists that I feel have books of worth on them that should be added to this project.

Told you I was an OCD list nerd when it came to my books.

Today's favorite new list is the NPR Top 100 SciFi/Fantasy list: here
From there you can also check out the top 237 finalists that people got to vote on.  I printed that one out as well so I could add all of them to my spreadsheet.  I figured I will have read the majority of the top 100 (I was right, I have) and have most of the rest already sitting around in the to-read stack but that those were going to have a popular element to them while many more obscure titles would get left out but are equally good, if not better than, the ones that made the cut.

Enjoy the reads!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

104:67 Home Improvement Undead Edition edited by Harris & Kelner

An anthology featuring tales of haunted home repair and surreal estates.  As with all anthologies, this one had good, mediocre, and bad all in one.

The Good:
Gray by Patricia Briggs - A vampire story set in Mercy's world (but without Mercy).  New characters and a lot of fun.

Squatter's Rights by Rochelle Krich* - A couple is remodeling a house that turns out to have ghosts trapped in it which are poisoning the wife's mind.  Very creepy.

The Mansion of Imperatives by James Grady* - Some friends buy a house to flip but the house has other ideas.  Very creepy.

The Strength Inside by Melissa Marr* - 2 Bori's are trying to bring their siblings more mainstream but creating the right environment to raise them in is proving difficult due to the HOA.  I liked the different mythos and the characters were warm but in an off way.

Through This House by Seanan McGuire - A Toby Daye short that bridges Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea.  Toby is trying to take possession of Evening's knowe, Goldengreen, but Evening has been dead for almost 2yrs and others have moved in.  So glad to have a bit of Toby again and this didn't disappoint!

Full-Scale Demolition by Suzanne McLeod * - Genny is a pixie-catching, non-spell working, sidhe who gets called in for more than she bargained for.  Old world fae, lamia, and kelpies equals a lot of fun and an intense read.

It's All in the Rendering by Simon R. Green - A House set between reality and fantasy that guards the gateway between is suddenly garnering interest from both sides. Can it's keepers keep it safe?  Not sure if this is part of one of his other series but it was well-detailed and drew me in.

Blood on the Wall by Heather Graham* - A cult-leader is suspected of murdering his cult and the only one who believes him is the detective whose family tomb he's been defiling.  Interesting but not totally gripping.

Woolsley's Kitchen Nightmare by E.E. Knight - Woolsley is a translife Gordon Ramsey, helping out failing restaurants to win back their clientele.  I got the feeling that I might have liked this more if I had more background on the "world".  Some things got enough explanation through the story to make sense by the end but others didn't and had me scratching my head.

The Path by S. J. Rozan* - The ghost of a monk must get the head of the Buddha statue returned before he can move on to his next life.  I wanted to like this one more, especially with the Chinese mythos but it was a little too slow and plodding although a good premise.

Rick the Brave by Stacia Kane* - A world where ghosts are real and can cause real damage, Rick goes to earn some quick money in a house renovation where unfortunately the house has a portal to the ghosts' city.  Again, I think I would have liked this one a lot more if I had more experience with the "world".  The characters were fairly flat but I got the sense that there was a lot of history there that would have made this fun if I'd known it.

The Brightest Day by Toni P. Kelner* - What do you do when the revenant (pc term for zombie) keeps dying before he can finish his task and this gets the loas on your case?  I liked the voodoo aspect to this and there was enough background for me to not be in the dark but while it read quickly, it felt plodding.  I had things figured out very early on.

The Bad:
If I had a Hammer by Charlaine Harris - Sookie short story but really, you could have put any names on it and it wouldn't have mattered.  The characters had no life and it was a typical, lay the ghosts to rest type.  I feel sorry for people who bought the book for this story alone.

Wizard Home Security by Victor Gischler* - A wizard's house is broken into so he gets a wizarding security firm to upgrade his defenses which then trap him when he is broken into again.  Just didn't do much for me.

In all, I was happy with the McGuire and Briggs stories which were the reason I bought it.  I found some new authors to put on my wish-list.  But I'd still have to give the overall book a 3.5 stars because the meh and bad ones really brought it down.

* = new author

Page count: 225p/20,094p ytd

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

104:66 Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

The 13th full novel in the Dresden series by Jim Butcher.  Harry Dresden is dead.  Shot through the chest and fallen into deep lake dead.  Really, really dead dead.  But hey, sometimes a ghost's got to do what a ghost's got to do.  And in Harry's case, that's go back and help his friends.  Oh, and figure out who killed him.  Little details like that.

I liked the way Mr. Butcher handled having his main character die by bringing him back as a ghost and one that has a hard time interacting with the living since, well, he's a ghost.  Lots of good action, same Harry.  A good read and I loved up until the last chapter.  I won't spoil it except to say, it wasn't a shock but it was a disappointment.

Page count: 477p/20,094p ytd