Monday, December 31, 2012

129:110 Marvel Civil War by Mark Millar

A group of young wannabe superheroes tries to tackle some supervillians and the battle ends up killing several kids.  Now the public is outraged and wants something done now!  Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, works with the government and Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, to bring about registration and training for mutants and superheroes, to have superhero task forces in every state under government control.  Not all the superheroes are in agreement with the proposal and perhaps the biggest surprise is that Captain America is completely against it.  Now they are going against each other in the biggest civil war ever to decide the shape of their future.  But who will win: Iron Man or Captain America?  And do we even know who is in the right?

Interesting idea and even more interesting to bring in everyone from the Marvel universe at some point in the books.  Really interesting was who fell on which side of the issue and their reasons for it.  The end wasn't a total surprise but the whole thing was engaging enough that I might continue reading a bit further to try and get some more backstory and see where things go.  I'm not a huge fan of mainstream comics for a number of reasons, the biggest one being the lack of consistency in the worlds.  Seventeen gazillion different Spiderman comics come out each month and each has "Spiderman" as the main character but the worlds are so different that it's not really the same person from comic to comic and it drives me nuts.  Add in the different artistic styles (and I admit, I'm super fussy about what I like artistically from a comic and what I don't) and I tend to shy away but the artwork was good enough and the story well done to keep my interest for a bit longer.

Page count: 512p/41,317p ytd

Sunday, December 30, 2012

128:110 Avengers Disassembled by Brian Michael Bendis

The Avengers mansion is under attack.  Tony Stark is speaking at a UN meeting as Secretary of State when he starts going off on one of the members.  The Vision shows up and starts speaking of their doom before robots start coming out of him as he is torn apart.  Basically, the Avengers' world has just blown up in their faces and it's not pretty.  At the end of the day, they gather to mourn their losses and Tony Stark gives the blow that he can no longer afford to continue paying for the Avengers.  Where will they go from here?  No one is sure except that as they leave the ruins of their mansion after a last meal, they are greeted by a huge number of people showing their support.

Again, another prelude to the Civil War stuff as we see the UN decide they no longer wish to be associated with the Avengers and many of the members end up deciding to go off and pursue different lives.  It will be interesting to see how this affects things in the Civil War or if this story line is brought up in it at all.

Page count: 176p/40,805p ytd

127:110 Marvel Secret War by Brian Michael Bendis

Graphic Novel set in the Marvel universe.  There is an increase in the number of tech villians doing petty jobs and it has attracted the attention of SHIELD and specifically Nick Fury.  Tracking back has led to the discovery that the new head of Latveria is behind these attacks but when Fury takes this information to the president, he refuses to act so Fury decides to take matters into his own hands.  He puts together a small squah of superheros and deals with it and then wipes their memories.  A year later tho, those heros are being attacked and they don't know why.

Interesting getting into some of the politics of the Marvel universe especially as we see Fury step away from SHIELD at the end of the book.  Apparently this is setting things up for Avengers Disassembled which is the prelude to the Civil War.  Looks to be good!

Page count: 256p/40,629p ytd

And with that, I have completed my 40 new authors for the year which was my last uncompleted challenge.  I'll be doing a wrap up post tomorrow as well as a "What I'm looking forward to" post talking about new releases coming up that interest me.

126:110 The Doctor Trap by Simon Messingham

Doctor Who novel with the 10th Doctor and Donna Noble as the companion.  Sebastianne is the ruler of Planet 1 and has decided to add to his trophy collection the ultimate prize, The Doctor.  He lays an elaborate trap and brings in the Society for Endangered Dangerous Species, a group of a dozen hunters that specialize in making dangerous species extinct.  The game is set and the pieces in place but the one thing you never want to put in a trap is the Doctor.

I enjoyed the plot, nice twists and turns although some were glaringly obvious.  The only bit I didn't like was the tone for the characters voices were off.  I just couldn't read anything in David Tennant's or Catherine Tate's voice as it didn't read right for those characters.  You'd get a glimpse of them and then it would disappear.  A bit sad although maybe if I'd been watching episodes with them recently it would have been easier but still, wasn't quite right.  Still a fun book tho for fans of the series.

Page count: 247p/40,373p ytd

Saturday, December 29, 2012

125:110 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Liesel is on a train with her mother and brother being taken to stay with a foster family in Molching, Germany, in the late 1930s.  Her brother dies on the way and during his burial, she sees a book "The Grave Digger's Handbook".  She steals it and her life as a book thief in WWII Germany has begun.  Her new papa comes and holds her every night when the nightmares of her brother's death wake her and somewhere in that time, he starts teaching her to read her stolen book.  She meets the other kids on the street and Rudy becomes her best friend and partner in crime.  In the years of the war, she steals a few more books, her family harbors a Jew in their basement, and she learns to love.  Death watches her life unfold and when the bomb hits her house, he is there to find the book she lost, the one she wrote, The Tale of a Book Thief.  He tells us her story.

I'd heard a lot of people saying what a great book this was but no one ever said anything about what the story line was so it was a surprise to me at the beginning.  The choice of Death as the narrator was inspired considering what was going on all around the main story.  It was well written, beautifully descriptive, and just a wonderful read.  Highly recommend.

Page count: 550p/40,126p ytd

Monday, December 24, 2012

124:110 Underworlds: The Battle Begins by Tony Abbott

The first of the Underworlds series.  The day started normally enough for 10yr old Owen Harper until he got to school and watched the floor open up and his best friend disappear amongst flames with dozens of eyeballs staring at him as a voice is heard saying "The Battle Begins!"   Her last words were telling him to find a book as she flung a key at him.  What choice does he have but to do as she asked and try to get her back, even if it means being attacked by Fenrir, stealing the Lyre of Orpheus, and traveling to Hade's Underworld.  Thankfully, he has his friends Jon and Shelly to help him along the way.

Normally not a book I would be counting as I was going to have my little guy reading it aloud to me to practice his reading skills but that lasted all of one chapter.  After that, he took great delight in reading ahead and telling me to catch-up.  Took him less than a week to finish the entire book which considering he's not yet 7 is pretty impressive.  As a result, I ended up reading this one on my own so I could discuss it with him. I have a feeling it's going to be this way for the rest of the series.  I will say tho, I found it to be a fun story.  Not much in the way of character development but lots of action with some fun mythology stuff thrown in from several different mythos (Loki & Hades...Oh My!).  While written simply, it doesn't talk down and manages to infuse humor even in the scarier scenes to keep them from being too scary.

Page count:  101p/39,576p ytd

123:110 Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb

The first in the Tawny Man Trilogy.  The Red Ship Wars are over and Verity dead.  Kettriken is Queen and has tried to raise their son, Dutiful, in both the traditions of the Six Duchies and the Mountain People.  Now as his betrothal is on hand in an arranged marriage to one of the Outislanders to unite their people, he has disappeared.  No one is certain if he has run away or been kidnapped as the only clue is a note from the Piebalds, a group of Witted whose goal is to stop the persecution of their kind.  Chade, the Queen's advisor, and The Fool, aka The White Prophet, both turn to FitzChivalry in the hopes that as both Witted and Skilled he can find the Prince and bring him home safely before it's too late.  Fitz cannot help by say yes but the path it leads him on is a dark one for everyone.

It's been a while since I read the Farseer trilogy and I skipped over the Live Ships trilogy (which I do think I'll go back and read at some point) but it was still nice to come back to this world.  These are still dark, heavy books but so richly detailed it's easy to lose yourself in them.  There are times when they are slow and it's a bit harder to get into but then everything will start happening at once and you can't put it down.   Truly wonderful epic fantasy!

And with that, I have completed my A-Z series challenge since it was about reading the first or last book in each series.  I had to abandon several series part way through in order to finish up before the end of the year but now I'm done.  I'm also done with the A-Z author and A-Z book title challenges as well as my personal challenges for number of books and pages to read for the year.  The only one still to fulfill is number of new authors.  4 more to go but I think I will be able to make it with some shorter selections.

Page count: 662p/39,475p ytd

Sunday, December 23, 2012

122:110 Queen's Blade by TC Southwell

First book in the Queen's Blade series.  Minna-Satu has become queen of the Jashmiri and in her innauguration speech has declared that she will end the endless war that has been going on for generations untold with their neighbors, the Cotti.  She is advised to have the Cotti king killed and his son brought to her unharmed in order to bring peace about but after sending team of soldiers after team of soldiers out, only to be informed of their deaths, she is intrigued when an assasin known as Blade comes saying that he can do the job.

Blade is an unlikely assasin, smooth cheeked and slender, but also considered one of the best around.  He manages the impossible task but now his Queen wishes him to stay on as her advisor and personal assasin.  She knows her course is unpopular and will be even more so as the plan becomes revealed.  Can Blade help keep her safe and can peace actually be accomplished with this plan?

Well paced with a more simplistic writing style but good political intrigue.  It was hard to really relate to the characters and I found myself neither liking nor disliking them but curious to see what would happen next.  This is the start of a longish series and while I'm not rushing out to get the next ones, I don't discount picking them up at some time either.

Page count: 231p/38,831p ytd

Friday, December 14, 2012

110:121 Kick-Ass by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.

Saw the movie and thought it was crazy but an intriguing concept so when Chris got the book for his birthday, I figured I'd give it a go.  In all, the movie was pretty faithful to the book although the story of Big Daddy was changed.  If you haven't seen the movie, it's a comic about an ordinary teenager who is a bit of a geek and short of friends deciding that his life is boring and why don't  more people try to become every day superheros.  He dons a costume and with zero training, goes out patrolling the streets of a mob town to try and bring some justice into the equation.  He gets the crap kicked out of him and almost dies.  This leads to his having plates put in his head which dampen his pain receptors and doesn't deter him from going out again and again.  He's a junkie and this is his high.  Along the way, he meets two real masked crusaders: Big Daddy and Hit-Girl.  Hit-Girl is about 10yrs old but has spent her entire life training to take out the bad guys by her father.

This is a bloody and gore infested comic, make no mistake.  I knew that going in and wasn't too surprised by anything in it but I just couldn't get into the artistic style of it.  I get that it's supposed to be gritty and everything, but it was just ugly.  I won't go out of my way to see the movie either but at least the movie had an artistry about it that I just felt the comic lacked.

Page count: 192p/38,582p ytd

110:120 History of US Vol 4: The New Nation by Joy Hakim

I have to admit I learned more in this book than previous ones like the fact that there were presidents between Jackson and Lincoln.  I mean, I knew that in a logical sense because Jackson was number 7 and Lincoln was sixteenth but still, they actually had names.  Of course, she only gave one chapter to all 8 of them since they didn't seem to do much of anything.  Otherwise, it was still better than the first book or two as it seemed to flow better and the presentation was easier to follow.  I still dislike the gazillion side notes and extra articles that get stuck in tho.  I find them distracting and I know that Jon tends to gloss over them.  Sometimes you can as they aren't that important and sometimes they are really important.  Ugh!

Page count: 199p/38,390p ytd

110:119 Memorable Thoughts of Socrates by Xenophan

This was a kindle version and included Xenophan's versions of The Symposium and The Apology as well.  Of the three "books", I liked The Apology the best.  I felt it was honest, heart-felt, and straight-forward.  The Symposium was my least favorite as I felt it was very rambling and did not show Socrates in his best light.  The Memorable Thoughts I felt truly was a brilliant portrayal of what I would expect to have heard from him.  Witty, insightful, straight-forward when possible but with the curveballs when needed to make his point.  I'm interested to read Plato's thoughts on Socrates now.

Page count: 114p/38,191p ytd

Monday, December 3, 2012

110:118 Viridis by Calista Taylor

The first in the Viridis series.  Lady Phoebe Hughs has created an herbal elixer, Viridis, that hightens the senses in a most pleasurable way and has build a discreet club for those wishing to partake.  Her former lover, Seth Elliot, is back from a mission for the Cause after a year to find that she has been being courted by Lord Victor, a man who does not like taking no for an answer.  Now Lord Niles Hawthorne is found dead only a few blocks from the club and all trails are leading back to Phoebe's life being in danger but by whom?

Billed as Steampunk Romance and Mystery which I suppose it lived up.  I wasn't impressed.  The mystery was only mediocre and it was hard to care much about the characters.  There wasn't "romance", it was just a bodice ripper.  There was no wooing or courtship.  That all happened a year before the story took place and we got none of that, just two people picking up where they had left off.  I felt it was a let down in that department as well.  The villain was nasty and got away with everything, likely to help lead into the sequel, but the whole thing just left things too unfinished.  At this point after finishing the first one, I very much doubt I'll be going back for the sequel.  I'll give it 3 stars because it was ok but it was nothing spectacular.

Page count: 304p/38,077p ytd

Sunday, December 2, 2012

110:117 Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow

The first book in the Jill Kismet series.  Jill is a Hunter, one who hunts the dark for Hellbreed and kills them to protect humanity.  She is the only hunter for Santa Luz now that her teacher and lover is dead, murdered by Hellbreed less than a year ago.  Unlike other hunters tho, she has entered into a pact with the main Hellbreed in her territory, Perry, in order to gain strength, speed, and extra magical firepower.  It also lets her tap him for information.  It's a good thing as she will need everything he can provide for this case where the never before heard of alliance of werewolf and hellbreed has happened.  The daughter of a high ranking (and very psychotic) Hellbreed is on the run with a rogue werewolf who is on a murderous rampage.   Can Julie figure out what is going on that has brought those two together?  An even better question is can she  make them stop and keep her own skin mostly intact?

Fast paced and interesting.  A departure from the standard which is always appreciated with nice strong leads, both male and female, good and bad.  Not a lot of romance but it's definitely being set up for that in future books.  Internal guilt ridden monologues got very close to hitting my annoyance buttons a few times but I'm hoping that some of that got resolved in this book so it won't be such a big issue in future ones.  In all, a promising start to a series.

Page count: 323p/37,773p ytd

110:116 The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis

An enjoyable romp through other areas in the Narnia universe that eventually lead into Narnia itself, but only briefly.  King Edmund, Queen Lucy, and Queen Susan make small appearances but are not integral to the story rather it's an adventure tale of two children running away from Tashbaan towards Narnia with two talking horses but who find out about a plot to destroy Narnia and must do the near impossible to get the news into the right hands.  You can definitely see the Aslan/God connection very heavily in this one as he orchestrates things for the greater good of the land he loves.

Page count: 224p/37,450p ytd

Saturday, November 24, 2012

110:115 The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

The 2nd book in the Millennium trilogy.  Salander has taken over a year to satisfy some wanderlust and travel abroad after stealing a few billion in the last book.  While she is gone tho, her Advocate has decided that he has had enough of her interference in his life and wants his life back.  Meanwhile, Blomkvist and Millennium are getting ready to print an expose on the extensive sex-trafficking operations in Sweden.  Just before things can get published Salander's Advocate, the journalist writing the piece, and his girlfriend who was doing her thesis on sex-trafficking are all murdered and Salander's fingerprints on found on the murder weapon.  With her history, Blomkvist is one of the few people who believes her innocent but can he prove it and can she survive long enough for him to do so?

Another fast-paced incredible tale.  This is really not a series that I would generally have picked up but I'm so glad I did as it has been an amazing read.  Highly recommended.

Page count: 630p/37,226p ytd

Friday, November 16, 2012

110:114 The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey

The fourth book in the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms.  Aleksia is growing tired of her role as Godmother in the frozen territories, aka The Snow Queen.  Then she learns that someone calling herself The Snow Queen is killing off whole villages and abducting young men.  Now instead of doing as a Godmother usually does by helping to steer Tradition for another's tale, she finds herself in the thick of it trying to find the impostor and clear her name.

This one was a bit slower and not my favorite so far.  Not bad but it felt like the snow of the story had chilled the words and it was just harder to finish it.  Or maybe that was just my move that did that...

Page count: 408p/36,596p ytd

110:113 Fortune's Fool by Mercedes Lackey

The third book in the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms.  Sasha is the seventh son of king in a small, peaceful kingdom.  To protect his child, the king learned of the Tradition and molded the Tradition around Sasha to allow him to become The Fool but one that brings luck and protects the kingdom.  Ekaterina is the seventh daughter of the Sea King and has been trained as her father's observer on dry land.  Once they meet the attraction is instantaneous but nothing in the Five Hundred Kingdoms could be that simple, especially with The Tradition always around.

Ekaterina is sent by her father to investigate some disappearances that have come to his attention but her only chance to investigate requires her being kidnapped as well.  Now she must try to find a way to stop the djinn who has her and several other girls.  Sasha knows only that she went off by her father's command and will stop at nothing to find her.  With this be a Traditional path with a happy ending or not?

Another fabulous tale.  I am really enjoying this series and all the twists and turns and how the characters are learning how to work within the Tradition to make happier endings.  Absolute fluff but well-written and completely enjoyable after a long day.

Page count: 395p/36,188p ytd

Monday, November 5, 2012

110:112 One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey

The 2nd in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series.  Andromeda is a plain and simple princess under a selfish and vain queen mother but even she never thought that her mother would go along with feeding her to the dragon that has taken up residence in their kingdom.  When The Champion, George, shows up to slay the dragon and rescue the Princess, Tradition would have been thrilled to pull them together but neither the Champion or the Princess is about to let that happen.  But Tradition likes things to stick to a Traditional path and straying from that will take a lot more than they know.

Really, really enjoying this series.  The different twists on the old, familiar fairy tales makes these absolutely delightful.

Page count: 393p/35,793p ytd

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

110:111 The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

The first in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series.  Ella Klovis, also known as Ella Cinders, was supposed to be her kingdom's Cinderella except that fate left her with a totally inappropriate prince.  Now The Tradition is trying to figure out what to do with her when her Godmother appears with a most intriguing job offer, to be her apprentice and eventually the next Godmother to several kingdoms.  Now with so many people to look after and to wrest The Traditions into happier endings, what will happen to her own path now?

Ok, I admit it, I'm a horrid fantasy lover to have never read Ms. Lackey before and I'm now kicking myself. This book was phenomenal!!!!  She took an old, well known fairy tale and completely set it on it's end in a most delightful way.  Yeah, it's a total fluff read but hey, sometimes that is just what you need and with this one, you couldn't ask for better.

Page count: 479p/35,400p ytd

And yep, there's my page goal met!  I still have 9 new authors to try and get in before the end of the year, one more book to finish my A-Z author challenge and four more to finish the A-Z series challenge.  A-Z book title challenge is done tho.  The series challenge is a bit harder since some of those books are now in storage waiting for our move and the others are on my kindle which died a tragic death.  I have the new one now but the cover will take a few more weeks to get here and I don't want to do much with it until it's more protected.  Besides, still need to get everything downloaded and organized on it which will take some time too.  Hoping I can manage to do that and still get those books read before the end of the year.

110:110 Shadow Rising by Yasmine Galenorn

The 12th book in the Sisters of the Otherworld series and is told by Menolly.  Menolly and Nerissa are planning their hand-fasting ceremony but the war with the demons has escalated further.  Shadow Wing has now sent his major sorcerer to start a war in the Otherworld while sending the Ghost Master demon back to Seattle to work on possessing the people in power.  The only good news in their world is there father is speaking to them again and they are being reinstated into the OIA but with a much larger say.  The only question is will they live long enough to enjoy any of it?

Ms. Galenorn does it once again with a fast-paced book which manages to include plenty of plot development where a few things get solved but plenty is left to continue the story, the characters are believable and ones you can really care about even with their flaws, and leaves you anxiously pacing the house cursing that the next one is still a few months away.   I absolutely love this series and it just seems to get better with each book.

Page count: 324p/34,921p ytd

Oh, and with that I have completed my books read goal for the year and will easily have the pages read taken care of with the next book.  Now to work on my new authors since I'm only at 30 so still 10 more to go there.

Friday, October 26, 2012

110:109 Animal Farm by George Orwell

This is the second time I've read this book.  Here's my review from the first time:

I will say that I think 1984 was a better book and definitely much more relevant to today than Animal Farm but it's very easy to put this one into historical perspective and incorporate the thinking of the time into the discussion.  I also think that it's a much easier book for 8th and 9th graders to get into and have fun with since because it's animals, it's not as dark as it would be otherwise (like 1984).  Of course, that's the whole point of his using animals in the first place so that plot device definitely works.

Reading it this time with Matthew for part of his 9th grade curriculum and while I still agree with my previous review, I have to say that I feel like it's more relevant today than it was when I read it the first time several years ago.  My only question is are the pigs becoming more like humans or are the humans becoming more pig-like?

Page count: 154p/34,597p ytd

110:108 Into the Woods by Kim Harrison

A collection of short stories, most in the Hollows series but a few outside of it as well.  My favorites were the one where we see Rachel raise Pierce for the first time, some back story on Ivy and how she and Rachel got teamed up, and the story of how Trent went after his daughter.  The story of Jenks and Bis on a case was fun and I enjoyed the others and learning more about how races interact in her universe more.

The four stories outside the Hollows series were kind of a mixed bag.  The first two were ok but having nothing really invested in the characters and they didn't leave me caring much about any of them afterward either.  Interesting stories, but not majorly gripping or compelling.  The third story, Spider Silk, was a bit creepier and I admit I wasn't too thrilled with the ending.  Ms. Harrison admits she's not sure if that one will ever turn into more but if it does, it will be from the point of view of the child living in a messed up home.  That pretty much sums it up.  The last one tho has me wondering if it is part of another series (it isn't but it totally should be).  A detailed background on the world, compelling characters, and gripping action filled with gut-wrenching decision making.  Of all the shorts from outside the Hollows, this is the one I would love to see as a new series by her.

Page count: 513p/34,443p ytd

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 New Releases I'm looking forward to

Ok, I'm going to start doing a bit more than just reviewing what I read here and actually start talking about some of the stuff I'm looking forward to.  Right now, I'm only going to cover things that are coming out this year that I have already pre-ordered.

First up

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the newest Otherworld book by Yasmine Galenorn.  Shadow Rising is the 12th book in the series and told by Menolly's POV.   Fans of LKH and CH would be well served by checking out this series as the next step up.
Release date: Oct 30.

Next, Darkness Hunts which is the 4th book in the Dark Angels series by Keri Arthur.  Not quite as good as her Riley Jensen series but still the series has been a treat to read with enough action both in and out of the bedroom to keep it fun.  A bit of an easier read for those days when bubblegum is all your brain can handle.
Release date: Nov 6

Cold Days by Jim Butcher has me nervous.  I get tired of authors throwing their characters into increasingly more impossible situations where they all manage to get out alive.  I get that what I read is not generally real world stuff here but at the same time, after a while it gets to be too much of the "gimme a break" factor and I lose interest.  I was beyond thrilled when Dresden died and stayed dead for a whole book, having to learn how to function as a ghost.  I thought it was brilliant and gave Mr. Butcher huge props for doing something so revolutionary.  And then he brought him back to life.  *sigh*  I'm getting this one mostly for my oldest who loves the series and I know I won't be able to have it in the house and not read it but I can only hope that Mr. Butcher does some pretty remarkable writing in order for me to forgive him for pulling this stunt.
Release date: Nov 27

On the other hand, I couldn't be more excited for Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews coming out the same day.  The 4th book in The Edge series which will focus on Richard Edger.  I have enjoyed the series and appreciate that they have not merely forgotten about the other couples that have paired up in the previous books as the new one focuses on the next.  I also appreciate that at this time, they have no plans to write more in this series until the right story presents itself.  It's so rare for authors to stop when the story is done these days that I truly respect them for it.
Release date: Nov 27

So only four more books coming out in series that I'm currently reading this year.  Maybe I'll actually be able to see my To Read pile go down a bit before the new year.

Monday, October 22, 2012

110:107 The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Haven't read this one in a few years and am enjoying it as much as I always do.  I remember as a little girl wishing that I could find a magic wardrobe and be transported to a magical land and have those adventures.  What makes things special this time tho is again, sharing these stories with Jon.  He has watched the movies but it's his first time reading the books and he's loving them as much as I do.  Definitely one of those books in one of those series where if you haven't read it....WHY NOT????  Stop looking at reviews and go read it already.  And if you have children, go read it to them as well.

Page count: 189p/33,930p ytd

Sunday, October 21, 2012

110:106 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Finally got around to reading this one.  Still haven't seen the movie because I wanted the read the book first (usually a bad idea but oh well). A disenfranchised journalist, Blomkvist, has been hired by an eccentric wealthy patriarch, Vanger, to find out who killed his niece 40 years ago.  Along the investigation, he hooks up with a gifted hacker, Salander, who helps him discover not only what happened to the niece but possibly reinstate his good name in journalism.

 I really didn't have much of a clue what it was about except that there was a journalist and hacker working together and a traumatic rape scene.  Going in, it wasn't much to work with so I didn't have a lot of expectations. What I got was so beyond anything I could have predicted.  Gripping, intense, well-written. Some of the plot twists were pretty easy to see coming but otherwise, incredible.  Didn't really like the ending although again, it wasn't hard to see coming.  Hoping to see some of those pieces picked up in the second book.

Page count: 590p/33,741p ytd

Sunday, October 14, 2012

110:105 Claimed by Shadow by Karen Chance

2nd book in the Cassandra Palmer series.  Cassie has the Pythia's powers but has yet to complete the ritual. The power is trying to get her to complete the ritual and claim it fully.  Mircea has placed a geis on her that she can not complete the ritual except with him or his designated surrogate.  Myra, the initiate who was to become Pythia before she turned bad, is trying to kill Mircea in the past to remove Cassie's protection in her youth to prevent her from ever becoming Pythia.  Cassie is trying to find someone else to take the power and also find Tony who has her father's soul in a paperweight so she can free it.

Some girls just can't catch a break!

There was so much going on in this book and the above doesn't even cover it all.  Somehow Ms. Chance manages to weave it all together into a, well, we will call it a harmonious whole although I'm sure Cassie would disagree with that assessment.  A real page turner with enough things getting answered to leave you satisfied but with enough unanswered to make you want to grab the next one.

Page count: 374p/33,151p ytd

110:104 Queen of Darkness by Anne Bishop

The third in the Black Jewels series.  Daemon has finally been found and wears the Consort ring, the last piece of her court but she remains distant and he is bewildered and hurt by this.  War is coming to Kaeleer, a war that will likely destroy everything Jaenelle has been trying to save.  Heketah and Dorothea are continuing their plotting to gain control over Jaenelle and the territory of her First Circle.  Can Witch find a way to stop the war and Heketah and Dorothea without destroying all of the Blood or letting them wage a war that will have almost the same effect while setting the stage for the next war?

This one was heart-wrenching in so many ways which made it a complete page turner.  You knew that certain things couldn't be allowed to stand but how in the world would they work out.  I'm really wishing I hadn't packed up the rest of the series because while this one doesn't end on a complete cliffhanger, I so desperately want to know what happens next.

Page count: 403p/32,777p ytd

Friday, October 5, 2012

110:103 From Colonies to Country by Joy Hakim

The 3rd book in the History of Us series.  This one covered the Revolutionary War and forming of the Constitution.  I liked this one better than previous as it seemed to jump around less and we delved more into the people and their influences and what they were trying to accomplish rather than jumping time periods constantly and not knowing when we were.

Page count: 188p/32,367p ytd

110:102 Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

The 2nd book in the Black Jewels series.  The last book ended with Jaenelle broken in body and spirit and no one sure if she would recover, Daemon taking the blame upon himself, and most people left believing that Jaenelle was dead.  Nice little cliff-hanger.  This book touches a little bit on the time immediately after that but really gets going 2yrs after when Jaenelle's spirit has finally come back to her body.  As you would suspect, she is quiet, moody, and withdrawn.  She shies away from her friends and lashes out easily.  Her innocence is gone and so is much of her unique charm.  Everyone is wondering if she will be able to heal enough to become the Queen they were hoping she would be.

I have to say, I much prefer this book to the last because it was much more a book of healing and watching Jaenelle finally grow up into who we all knew she was going to be.  Many little puzzles are solved in this book while the overarching storyline still has much further to go.  So glad I have so many books left in the series without having to wait.

Page count: 422p/32,179p ytd

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

110:101 Have Stakes Will Travel by Faith Hunter

4 short stories set in the Jane Yellowrock series.  All but the last take place before the first book in the series and provide more background on Jane.

WeSa - A story of early Jane/Beast where they find men encroaching on Beast's previous hunting territory.  The men are destroying the land and Beast isn't happy about it.

Haints - Told in Molly's voice of the first case she and Jane worked together, shortly after they met.  Interesting to see Jane from an outside perspective.

Signatures of the Dead - Again told in Molly's voice and is the story that gets hinted at a lot in their interactions through the books of how Molly's sister was kidnapped by vampires and Jane and Molly went in to get her out.

Cajun with Fangs - Takes place right before Death's Rival.  Jane has just put in her resignation to Leo and is trying to get the heck out of dodge when she gets pulled back in the most unlikely way.

I enjoyed these, especially those told by Molly where we get to learn more about their relationship from another POV and what has drawn them together.  Probably not a great introduction for those not already familiar with the books but a great little tidbit for the fans.

Page count: 143p/31,757p ytd

110:100 Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

The first book in the Black Jewels series.  Daemon is a black-jeweled warlord who has been turned into a pleasure slave for the Queens and is biding his time for his true Queen to be born to throw off his shackles.  Dorothea is trying to unite all the lands under her influence and is trying to keep Daemon under her control.  Jaenelle is a young girl born with extraordinary powers who will be the prophesied Queen and Witch...if she lives long enough and remains undamaged enough to take that mantle.  Saetan is Daemon's father, High Priest of Hell, and now the teacher of Jaenelle who managed to find her way into his realm.

I will warn people from the start that there is serious child-abuse in this book.  It's not totally graphic but the scenes can be intense and it also deals with the damage to the psyche in some cases as well, if there is a psyche left to be damaged.  I understand why it's there but I wish the author had chosen another way to achieve those ends.

Basic fantasy plot with Jewel colors equaling position and power levels.  There are a lot of characters to keep track of but so far, they seem fairly formulaic without much depth.  It's been intriguing enough that I'll keep reading the next couple since I have them sitting around and we'll see where it goes.  Not my favorite first book in a series, not entirely gripped by it, but willing to continue giving it a chance to see if it grows on me.

Page count: 375p/31,614p ytd

Thursday, September 27, 2012

110:99 Xombies: Apocalypse Blues by Walter Greatshell

Agent X has swept across the world and devastated the human race.  Starting out among the women of childbearing years who would turn blue and suddenly gain super strength, speed, and healing abilities, they then started making it a point to administer the kiss of "salvation" to anyone around them.  Problem is, most people don't see being turned into something akin to a zombie as salvation.

Lulu and her mother have just driven cross-country in an attempt to find Lulu's biological father and have been shut up in a house with little access to news of the outside world when Agent X hit.  On their first foray out to get supplies and information, they are greeted by a strange new world and one that neither of them is prepared for.  Lulu is eventually able to win free and find a man who may or may not be her father but is willing to use his resources to try and save her.  Unfortunately, in this new world, nothing ever goes as planned.

I read this one in order to fulfill an A-Z book title challenge.  It's pretty hard to find books that start with X and a friend recommended it so I figured what the heck.  I'm going to preface this whole review with the fact that while my oldest child is a Zombie-fanatic, I am not.  I pretty much only read zombie anything in an attempt to be able to communicate and have some sort of discourse with him.  As a result, I have read a few phenomenal zombie books (Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant springs immediately to mind) and some that made me want to claw my eyes out and marching across the house to ask him why he would read such poorly written crap.  This one goes in the middle.  It had some fresh new perspectives on the tired cliches but frankly, I never really cared for any of the characters.  The lead was constantly going from whiny and annoying to ultra-capable and then back again.  The rest were basically names thrown in to play the roles needed to move her along.  It's not a bad book but I wasn't gripped enough to be going out of my way to read the rest of the series.

Page count: 336p/31,239p ytd

110:97 The Magician's Nephew by CS Lewis

Read this last in 2008 when I decided to read the whole series because I never had.  It was as lovely and enchanting this time as it was last time.  It might have even be a bit better this time because I've had the pleasure to share it with Jon.  I found a lovely curriculum and we are going to go through the entire series together this year.  I'm so looking forward to it.

Page count: 202p/30,326p ytd

110:96 Downpour by Kat Richardson

The 6th book in the Greywalker series.  Blaine has survived her last death with much of her powers in the Grey diminished.  She is trying to lead a more normal life with less of the weird stuff that has surrounded her for so long but unfortunately, the new Guardian hasn't gotten that memo.  She has been told to pursue the matter of a disturbance in the Grey and the death of Leung which she learned about from his ghost.  Things are much stranger than she could possibly have thought at the start.  The power lines of Grey around the lake have been distorted and there are several different factions pulling on the power, any of whom could have messed with it.  Can she figure out how to fix it before someone decides they don't want her poking around any more?

The over descriptive writing was toned down a bit for this one but it's still present which tends to bog the story down.  Still, a good read and I'll be continuing with the series.

Page count: 355p/30,124p ytd

110:98 Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

The 2nd book in the All Souls Trilogy.  Diana and Matthew have traveled to the past in an attempt to find Ashmole 782 and a witch to help train Diana in the use of her powers.  Unfortunately, good intentions do not make up for lack of planning and things start going downhill very quickly as the present day Matthew tries to replace the Matthew of the past while not drawing attention to the switch.  Even more troubling is the fact that Diana's powers continue to be unpredictable and finding a teacher is much more difficult in an age when witches and other creatures are in hiding for fear of being put to death.  And of course, there's the little matter that just by being in the past they are altering their own future.

A bit slow at times which I remember from the first book but that was as they were trying to establish character and romance and it didn't work quite as well this time.  It was well-written and I enjoyed it but I think it could have been a little shorter or developed the plot a little further.  I look forward to seeing how this all wraps up in the next book.

Page count: 577p/30,903p ytd

Saturday, September 15, 2012

110:95 Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

The first in the Cassie Palmer series.  Cassie (Cassandra) is a clairvoyant who has run away from the vampire who murdered her family in order to have access to her powers from a young age.  Now the vampires have found her but it's not the one who kept her for all those years but the Consul and the entire North American Senate who want to use her and her powers.  A war is brewing with another faction of vampires led by Rasputin who is siding himself with the Dark Fey and the Black Circle of Mages.  Rasputin has managed to kidnap the sybil who was chosen to be the next Pythia, the clairvoyant repository of great power to move about in time.  The Silver Circle has sent its own representative, Pritkin, whose job it is to make sure that the sybil is found or barring that, to keep Cassie from gaining that power because she is untrained and they don't believe they'll be able to control her should the power choose to go to her.  The problem with that is that she already seems to be exhibiting some of those powers.  So now Cassie has Tony (her old vampire master), Rasputin, and Pritkin all wanting to take her out and the only people who want to keep her alive are a different bunch of vampires who, while they will seduce her to get what they want, will still want to keep her on a short leash and curb her freedom.

As you can see, there is a TON going on in this book.  It was a bit confusing at times trying to figure out what was going on with the time jumping stuff but it does get explained eventually.  I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to the next one.  There are currently four more out in the series sitting on my bookshelf so now I just need to find more time to read.

Page count: 307p/29,769p

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

110:94 Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

The 6th book in the October Daye series.  Etienne, Sylvester's number 1 knight, has come to Toby with a problem.  His changling daughter which he didn't even know existed until that day, is missing and it turns out that she has inherited his powers of teleportation in spades and without any of the controls.  She is being hunted and is popping into areas that were supposed to be sealed off thousands of years ago by Oberon himself and if she continues unchecked, it will kill her and rip open holes in Faerie that may tear it apart.  Toby is a sucker for protecting kids but this case may be one that will test her and her new healing powers too far....

This was an absolutely incredible read.  I could not put it down and now that I'm finished, I couldn't be more thrilled with the outcome of everything and my biggest disappointment is that it's over too quickly and now I have to wait a year for the next one.  This series has just gotten better and better!

Page count: 353p/29,462p ytd

Sunday, September 2, 2012

110:93 Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

Last read in April 2009.  Here's my review from that time:


So I remember reading at least part of these eons ago and all I could ever remember from it was the shadow that scared the beejezus out of me and I've never picked it up since. Well, my brother has been waxing poetic about it and it was part of the English course I'm doing with Jason so I sucked it up, put on my big girl panties, and dove in.

Yes, the shadow is still scary but I don't think I ever made it to the end as a child. I really enjoyed the whole book and the deeper meanings within it. I'm glad that I finally made it a priority and read it and I'm even more happy that Christopher and Jason have also read it and we get to share it together. Beautifully written in a rich world with richer characters. I really look forward to reading the rest of the series and other books by LeGuin.

Coming forward to today, I'm now studying it with Matthew and I enjoyed it just as much this time around as I did the last.  Having read the rest of the series and now other works by Ms. LeGuin, I just stand in awe of what rich worlds she creates and the incredible people she fills them with to create the rich stories she does.

Page count: 182p/29,109p ytd

Saturday, September 1, 2012

110:92 Eyes Like Leaves by Charles deLint

Hafarl's staff is broken and the power of summer is waning as his brother, Lothan, the Winter Lord, is determined to bring about the Everwinter.  To bring balance back, the Summerlord's staff must be restored but how can an old man, a young apprentice, and an untried and untutored girl possibly manage that.

First time reading Charles deLint and I can understand now why he comes so highly recommended in fantasy.  This was a lovely tale, deftly woven so that all the pieces were laid out to come together in the end but without it being boring because you know exactly what will happen.  Yes, good will win out but it's how all those pieces come together that is just a joy to behold.

Page count: 320p/28,927p ytd

110:91 Billy the Kid and the Vampyres of Vegas by Michael Scott

Short story set in the Nicholas Flammel  series.  Billy the Kid has been charged by his master to take something to Sachatch but while he's there, she receives a call from someone she thought long dead needing to be rescued in Las Vegas.  Billy can't let her go alone even if she is a ten-thousand year old vampire and thus begins their long road trip.

An interesting little tale where we get to see Billy and Sachatch meet and get a little bit more feel for their backgrounds apart from the main story line of the books.

Page count: 52p/28,607p ytd

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

110:90 Cat Tales by Faith Hunter

4 short stories set in the Jane Yellowrock universe.

The Early Years ~ We get to meet Jane just as she's leaving the group home and embarking upon her life as an adult where the first thing she does is try to find the place she has seen in her dreams.  It's the first time in her conscience memory Beast takes over her form.  It's an interesting little footnote but doesn't really give much detail of her past.

Cat Tats ~ We finally learn where Rick's cat tatoos come from and a bit of his backstory which was really nice.

Kits ~ The story of how Molly and Jane meet and become friends.

Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry ~ How Rick ends up in the care of Kemanabi at Jane's insistence.

Nice little short stories.  All but the first actually fill in some holes or backstory that while not necessary is nice to have.  The first one I had high hopes for but in reality, nothing happens so it was a bit of a letdown.

Page count: 113p/28,555p ytd

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

110:89 Widow's Web by Jennifer Estep

The 7th book in the Elemental Assassin series.  Now that Gin is back from vacation and has finally resolved her past with Donovan, she is looking forward to her future with Owen and the time when she doesn't have every crook looking to make a name for himself trying to take her out.  Unfotunately, there's a new hotshot in town and it's one that will give Gin more than a little challenge.  Enter Salina, a dangerous and psychotic water elemental and Owen's ex-fiance.  She's looking for revenge on a long list of people and to get Owen back for keeps.  Needless to say, this doesn't go with Gin's plans for the future.

A fast paced book and one I didn't want to put down.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of redundancy in trains of thought getting repeated a lot which is problem for this author and does detract a bit from the story.  Usually at it's worst in the beginning but it does pop up throughout but the story was incredible and I love these characters.  I can't say I was happy with how it ended but I can only hope that Jo-Jo is right about the future.

Page count: 364p/28,442p ytd

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

110:88 Darkness Devours by Keri Arthur

The 3rd book in the Dark Angels series.  Something is killing and eating vampires and Hunter and the Vampire Council have decided that it's the perfect test for Risa to prove her worth to them and of course, rather than make it easy they will throw more wood on the fire than water as she tries to find this mysterious killer.  But, of course, this isn't all that is going on in Risa's life since so many factions are still looking for the keys to the gates of heaven and hell and are throwing everything they've got at her since she is the only one who can find them.  How much more of this she and her friends can take is anyone's guess but Risa is pretty sure whatever they can take, it won't be enough.

A bit slow at times but then the action gets packed on and is non-stop.  Could have done with a bit better pacing and more movement on the original plot with the keys but otherwise, a good read.

Page count: 392p/28,078p ytd

Friday, August 17, 2012

110:87 Baby Bumps by Amy Sprenger

Described as the Almost, Barely, Not-Quite-True Story of Pregnancy, Bed-Rest, and One Bat-Shit Crazy Famiy and that about sums it up.  Everything was going hunky dory in Annie's life until her u/s to check on the gender, er the health, of her baby and then it went downhill with incompetent cervix, irritable uterus, 4mos of complete bedrest with a complete remodel of their home in progress.

Amy is the author of the award-winning blog, Snarky Mommy, and brings her singular humor and wit to a situation that was insane in the extreme.  She manages to poke fun of herself and her situation but then the screen lowers and you see what the humor hides.  Having had high-risk pregnancies and been on hospital bedrest with a husband who was cracking jokes while I snarked, I found myself by turns laughing at the absurdity and crying at remembered fears.  A fantastic read!

Page count: 206p/27,686p ytd

110:86 The Years by Virginia Woolf

My first time reading Virginia Woolf.  I was going to start with one more normally spoken about but I needed a book starting with 'Y' for a challenge and went with this one and I'm glad I did.  It was a slow read but I feel that's how it should have been.  It was a series of snapshots in time of one family as the children grow up and become parents in their own rights.  It encompasses their lives, their thoughts, their feelings from a time when so many things were left unsaid.  There was no plot per se, but just a snapshot of their lives in different years.  Sweet and poignant.

Page count: 446p/27,480p ytd

110:85 Isle of the Dead by Roger Zelazny

I admit, I'm not a bit sci-fi fan tending to stick more to the fantasy side of that genre and even then, I like things with dragons and wolves and elves and things like that.  I don't do the darker nitty-gritty stuff since I figure I get enough of a challenge keeping 4 kids alive and reading is my escape mechanism so when my brother was telling me that I HAD to read Zelazny, I put it on my wishlist and out of my mind until we were both at our dad's house and this book was on the shelf that my dad had said to go see if I wanted to borrow off of.  My brother hadn't read this one but put it in my hands anyway and said "go forth and experience Zelazny".  I learn afterward that he has books with princes and unicorns and all that pretty stuff but nooooo, this is the one I end up with.

And I'm glad.  It was a provocative and thought-provoking read.  The protaganist, Sandow, is not a likable character.  He's lived over 1000yrs and just doesn't give much a hoot about anyone except a few people from his past, one "friend" in current time, and his Pei'an mentor who taught him how to world-build.  He's made enemies but none who are in any position to do anything to him so who is now sending him pictures of dead friends?

The search leads to answers of a sort but the truth does not set one free in this case.  He must go to one of the world's he created and face someone who has been planning his downfall for years but things change once he gets there and the one he thought was his enemy is now an aide and one he thought long dead is back and has a god working with him, the god that is the arch-enemy of Sandow's own Pei'an god.

I really enjoyed this book where things were never quite what you thought they would be and I was often on my toes trying to figure out where things were going.  And I'll definitely be reading more Zelazny.

Page count: 190p/27,034p ytd

Friday, August 10, 2012

110:84 Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn

The 10th in the Kitty series.  With preternatural creatures coming out of the closet, the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies is taking place in London with Kitty tapped as the keynote speaker.  Supernaturals and scientists have gathered along with the normal band of protesters and activists.  Unfortunately, this has brought the master vampires together as well including Mercedes and who knows how many others that are working for Roman.

Fast paced and witty, Kitty uses her words to try and sway things and gain allies as the Long Game's end game is obviously in sight.  A very enjoyable installment in the series and I'm anxiously awaiting see where things are headed.

Page count: 342p/26,844p ytd

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Hunter and the Hunted by Kelley Armstrong

Two short stories published as a novella set in the Otherworld series.

The Hunted ~ Clay and Elena are off on their honeymoon but have discovered that St. Louis is a bit more dull than they had hoped.  Than Clay discovers that a mutt is following them.  He is trying to relax and let it go since this is their honeymoon but the mutt just won't get the hint.  What's a werewolf to do?

The Hunter ~ Kris is working hard on a case during Eve's vacation from angelhood and she's bored to tears.  Then Kris asks her to go check someone out for his case and the chase is on.  The thing is, Eve finds a bit more than anyone could have imagined.

Both were fun stories although Eve's was a bit harder to get into.  I really love this world and I especially love reading more with Elena and Clay.  A nice little treat for fans of the series.

Page count: 95p/26,502p ytd

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

110:82 Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

The first fully published book set in the Kate Daniels world but not starring Kate.  Andrea is miserable.  She and Raphael aren't speaking to each other any more but now some of his clan have been murdered and Jim, Pack security chief, has called her in on the case so she has to try and put aside her feelings to concentrate on the job at hand.  What a job tho?  The werehyenas were bitten by multiple different venomous snakes with a fang span bordering on the impossible.  No reptilian were can do that so Andrea is trying to track down a whole new species of something.  How much easier this case would be without Raphael rubbing his new soon-to-fiance in her face or heck, having to deal with him at all.

This was an absolutely riveting story and it was so nice to see Andrea get some time devoted to her.  I love the whole universe and am excited for anything new in it and as much as I love Kate, sometimes it's nice to get things from a different perspective and this does not disappoint!

If you are a fan of the Kate Daniels books, this is an absolute must-read!

Page count: 433p/26,407p ytd

Monday, July 30, 2012

110:81 San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant

A prequel to the Newsflesh trilogy.  The rumors of a zombie outbreak are just starting to circulate through the country and people are still considering it a hoax more than anything and packing up to go to Comicon as usual.  It will be the last big gathering of people like this to ever take place.

The preview night is underway, the dealers are almost done setting up their booths, and the crowds are growing.  All it takes is just one person not feeling well deciding to attend one of the largest gatherings of people for all hell to break loose.

Another brilliant story in an amazing world.  Even in just a short novella, Ms. Grant manages to infuse her characters with depth and make us care what happens, even when we know what's coming.  I'm not normally one for zombie novels but hers are just absolutely incredible.

Page count: 120p/25,974p ytd

110:80 A Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp

A friend recommend this to me as I was looking for an author whose name (first or last) began with Q for a challenge.  It looked interesting so I picked it up not quite sure what I was in for but trusting that it would, at least, be an interesting read.

It was an amazing read.  Witty, insightful, humorous at times, poignant, and unfortunately also a sad commentary on the human race as a whole in how we treat those who are different especially if they are true to themselves instead of hiding it away.  No matter what tho, I walk away after reading it admiring Quentin for his honesty in how he lived his life.

Page count: 212p/25,854p ytd

Thursday, July 26, 2012

110:79 Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

The finale of the Women of the Otherworld Series.  A war is brewing between those who think that the supernatural world should come out to the humans and those who don't agree and even the angels and demons are taking sides.  There is a madman who thinks he has made an immortality serum and is testing it out on other supernaturals including Savannah's brother, Bryce.  Can Savannah and her friends stop the release of this virus and keep their world hidden?  Why is her grandfather so intent on her being on his side?  Why is Adam's father contacting him for the other side?  Will Savannah ever get her full power back?  And most importantly of all, what will this cost them all personally?

This book was most definitely an epic conclusion to this series.  Fast paced with tons of action going on but in between, signs that life continues even when the world is going to hell in a handbasket.  I have to admit that I wasn't too keen on the final three books all being about Savannah but this one had each of the women speak for a bit although the primary focus was on Savannah.  I thought that was a nice touch to let each of them have a voice in this book.  I admit it tho, I'm sorry that the series is over as it's been one of my favorites.  Ms. Armstrong has said that she always envisioned it ending this way but that there are more stories in this world to be told . I can honestly say I can't wait to read them.

Page count: 444p/25,642p ytd

110:78 The Society for Alternative Business by Zachary Lee

A book written by a friend of my son about escapes and capers of the villains told from their point of view.    The writing is simplistic but there were a lot of little details added in throughout to keep it engaging.  I found the premise cute and original and a good first attempt by a new author of his age.

Page count: 100p/25,198p ytd

110:77 Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews

The third book in The Edge series.  Something has been stolen and Kaldar has been sent to go retrieve it.  Audrey helped steal the item for her family and is the closest link to help Kaldar find them.  Helena is looking for the item to use it's power for her own country and getting Kaldar would be a bigger bonus as revenge for her uncle, Spider.  Jack is afraid of being sent away to the evil changling school and George convinces him to run away and hide out on Kaldar's wyvern not knowing the danger they are heading into.

There are many players in this book and I right now want to say that I retract my impressions from the last book about Ilona Andrews doing what other urban fantasy romance novelists do and leave couples behind as soon as their story is told.  Cerise and William are back and working together on another case that intersects with Kaldar's.  George and Jack play prominently in the story although Declan and Rose are sidenotes.  I'm really, really hoping that they continue this trend of not just forgetting about the people we've already come to know.

This was a fabulous novel and I'm so glad there is another one coming out later this year.  I can't wait to see whose story gets told.  I also love that the villains from previous novels don't just go poof either but continue to be a presence.   I really enjoyed the story of Audrey and Kaldar but I also enjoyed watching George and Jack grow-up a bit more and come into their own.  This is shaping up to be a brilliant series.

Page count: 372p/25,098p ytd

Thursday, July 19, 2012

110:76 Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

The 2nd novel of The Edge.  It's been two years since Rose and Declan went off to live happily ever after in The Weird and William left to live in the The Edge and work in The Broken but now William has been approached by the Mirror to find an artifact that has been hidden in The Edge and better yet, it gives him a chance at Spider, a man he's tried and failed to kill twice already.

Cerise Mar's parents have vanished and their long-time enemies, the Sherilee's, seem to be behind it but they don't have the manpower to have pulled it off alone.  She needs to find out who is really behind the abduction of her parents and get them back but how?  Then she meets William and their paths are entwined and they will need to work together to accomplish both their goals.

This series is going into the new romance formula of following a different couple as they hook up and then basically ditching them once they are together to follow a new couple as they get together.  I like the book but hate this formula.  It's too predictable.  Ilona Andrews does it better in that at least the characters get to know each other, talk about their pasts, and like something about the other besides the way they look/smell but still, it's a formula.  I like the world and the writing so I'll keep reading but I just hope that eventually they'll throw in multiple possible partners to keep you guessing or have it take more than one book for the couple to fall into each other's arms.  You know, mix up the formula a bit.

Page count: 462p/24,726p ytd

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

110:75 Bushido: Soul of Japan by Inazo Nitobe

A nice breakdown of the different facets of Bushido, what purpose each part of the code served, where each piece came from in terms of socio-political nature or philosophy.  I found the breakdown fascinating and appreciated that it was well explained but I did not feel like it was dumbed down.  A definite must read for any person studying Japanese culture.

Page count: 244p/24,264p ytd

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

110:74 On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

The first book in The Edge series.  Something is hunting the forest of The Edge, that place which lies between The Broken (where most of us live) and The Weird (where the magic resides), a place where people have some magic but don't really fit into either world fully.  Rose lives there with her two brothers, orphaned and abandoned and trying to make ends meet when a handsome stranger shows up at her door.  As much as she despises him on sight, the two of them must work together to protect her home and the rest of The Edge or all will be lost.

Another incredible novel by this incredibly talented husband and wife team. Quick paced, tension driven, but with enough humor thrown in that it doesn't get tedious.  A fabulous start to a new series.

Page count: 309p/24,020p ytd

Thursday, July 12, 2012

110:73 Labyrinth by Kat Richardson

The 5th book in the Greywalker series.  Wygan's plans are coming to a head soon.  Harper is almost shaped the way he needs her to complete what was set into motions centuries before she was born.  Harper wants to stop him but the Grey is pulling her more deeply into it's fold and she's no longer sure if the next time she goes in if she'll be able to get back out.

This was an incredibly intense book.  It really is the culmination of the story arcs from the last 4 all pulled together and resolved.  I enjoyed it very much as Ms. Richardson is incredibly gifted with words, especially her descriptive language but at the end of it, I'm feeling a bit burned out. I found that I kept gripping the book a little tighter and I would have to find something else to do for a few minutes just to bring myself out of the battle and back into reality.  A very good series but even with another one on the shelf, I think it's time for something a bit lighter

Page count: 357p/23,711p ytd

Friday, July 6, 2012

110:72 Vanished by Kat Richardson

The 4th book in the Greywalker series.  Harper has received a mysterious phone call from her ex-boyfriend, her dead ex-boyfriend, who tells her that things are not what they seem.  This leads Harper to confront her past which answers some questions but asks many more than it answers.  When Edward recalls her home to send her on a mission to London, she realizes this may be a chance to learn more and takes it.  What she doesn't know is who will be waiting for her on the other side and just how the answers will affect her life going forward.

I absolutely love how stuff that was set-up even as early as the first book is now being answered and we are getting all this background information in her quest to find out why she has become a Greywalker.  Not everything is resolved tho and I'm so glad I have two more books out to find out where things go from here.  Fast-paced, richly descriptive, and completely gripping.

Page count: 354p/23,354p ytd

Sunday, July 1, 2012

110:71 Underground by Kat Richardson

The 3rd book in the Greywalker series.  Something is killing the homeless people of Seattle and Quinton suspects the vampires so he goes to Harper to ask her to intervene.  Problem is, it's not the vampires so it's time for some good old fashioned detective work.  But what do you do when your witnesses are unreliable and are talking about snakes or bears or something?  Well, if you are Harper, you start questioning the ghosts.  Only problem is what do you then do if they start talking about ancient monsters from Indian myth?

Yep, it's one of those books where every thing leads to something a bit more out there but it all just flows from one to the next.  Nothing is easy but that keeps the "you have got to be kidding me" factor way down.  You can sink yourself into the world because while some parts are fantastical, the rest is so relatable that it's easy to just go with what the author weaves.

Page count: 358p/23,000p ytd

Friday, June 29, 2012

110:70 Way of the Barefoot Zombie by Jaspar Bark

Doc Papa is running a course he calls "The Way of the Barefoot Zombie" in which the richest people are invited to come and try to learn how to detach themselves from their emotions in order to do what needs doing to make more money.  They learn how to move among zombies safely by imitating them right down to the eating of living human flesh.  The course culminates in the removing of the Gros Bon Ange, the higher reasoning part of the soul, through voodoo means and trapping it in a vessel so it can be returned later to argue the person's case to get into heaven unaware of what was done while they were removed.

Two of the current crop of students are more than they seem tho, they are members of the Zombie Liberation Front, and mean to set the noble dead free to roam the Earth rather than being used in this fashion.  Another is also not as she appears, a voodoo practioner in her own right from the island who had escaped when Doc Papa first came into power.  She is back to free the souls of the zombies so they can move on and to take the island back from Doc Papa.

An interesting take combining zombies and voodoo (ok, that's not unusual).  I found it a bit slow in the beginning but it picked up towards the middle.  There were some parts I felt were just thrown in for the ick factor and it could have been just as powerful without and I thought part of the ending was just a little too hokey but otherwise, a decent zombie book.

Page count: 239p/22,642p ytd

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

110:69 Poltergeist by Kat Richardson

The 2nd book in the Greywalker series.  It's been a couple of months since the events in the previous book that led Harper Blaine to become a Greywalker.  She's become more comfortable with the Grey in that time but when she's recommended by Ben to help with a poltergeist experiment that seems to have gone wrong she's about to get a crash course about all she still doesn't know.  She's hired to find the person faking the phenomenon of a collegiate research project about what a group collective can achieve but it's quickly obvious to her, although the professor won't hear of it, that they've managed to create a true spirit that is under the control of one of them and the person controlling the spirit is neither kind nor forgiving.

Lots of running around for Harper again as she tries to figure out who exactly is controlling the "ghost" which has now been used as a murder weapon.  She continues to call upon Ben and Mara who are dealing with their own problems as their son, Brian, has reached that lovely toddler stage and turned himself into "Rhino-Boy" with a penchant for headbutting and causing immense amount of chaos around him.  She also has to deal with Carlos again but that maybe something she ends up regretting in the future.

I really enjoy these books. Urban fantasy but not the same old werewolves and vampires that are so prevalent in much of the genre these days. The writing is incredibly descriptive which slows me down reading it to make sure I catch it all but even after a few pages I swear I've read way more than that because so much has happened.

Page count: 341p/22,403p ytd

Friday, June 22, 2012

110:68 Greywalker by Kat Richardson

The first in the Greywalker series.  Harper Blaine was a regular PI before she was beaten and left for dead, which she was for two minutes until she was revived.  Ever since then, she has seen weird things that don't seem quite real and shapes emerging from a grey mist.  She's not crazy tho and with the help of some friends of one of her doctor's, she finds out that she is now what is known as a 'Greywalker', one who can walk in our world but also the grey world where things like ghosts can exist.

Now, the things she always thought were fictional are coming to her for aid but how will she be able to help vampires and ghosts especially when she is still trying to figure out what is going on herself?

I appreciate that the author just throws us into the fray and we don't even know the main characters name for the first couple of chapters and that the entire premise is new and intriguing. The writing is incredibly descriptive and the action decently paced.  There were slow places as the author is setting up the world but I would be very surprised if that continues in subsequent books.

Page count: 352p/22,062p ytd

Monday, June 18, 2012

110:67 I am Legend by Richard Matheson

This book included not only the novel "I am Legend" but also a number of short stories.

First, I am Legend.  Robert Neville is just a regular person who happened to survive this plague that has turned the majority of people into "vampires".  We watch him as he tries to learn all he can about what could have caused it and consider ways to cure it while continuing to fortify his house and eek out a survival.  We share his loneliness, his despair in his unchanging and never-ending days.

I'd seen the movie and while I knew it would be different I was unprepared for the movie to bear only a passing similarity to the book.  They really are two different things (sort of like I am Robot).  The book was very good in it's own right tho but it took me a while to wrap my head around things and stop expecting it to come back around and meet-up with the movie.  I think looking at both, the book is better and in it's own way, scarier.  

Second, the short stories.  There were about 10 and they were all W-E-I-R-D!  And in a seriously creepy way.  No simple stories as even the shortest would have some bizarro twist to them which left me open-mouthed saying "Oh, no, he did not just do that".

So in all, an incredible read.  Just don't go into expecting anything like the Will Smith movie because you most definitely won't get that.

Page count: 320p/21,710p

Friday, June 15, 2012

110:66 Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton

The 21st book in the Anita Blake series.  Dear G-D, why do I keep reading these books?!  This series is such a train wreck and Ms. Hamilton is a complete tease.  The last book reminded me why I keep reading as it was something other than a massive orgy, characters I enjoyed were back and she set up some really interesting future plotlines.  With this one, I had high hopes going in.  The first 150p there was a bit too much mention of sex but no actual deeds and there was actual plot.  There were younger vampires kidnapping underage people to turn them, dead cops, no master of the kiss.  Lots of things to figure out.  And then Anita went home and the sex and relationship drama continued for the next 150+pages.  She talks all about how she's so happy with how her life works but then there's Asher or Sin or Dev or or or.  I guess we should all be thankful that she didn't add any more men to her harem but OMG, the repetitive nature of her personal thoughts, the sex scenes, and how every man makes her feel really makes me want to buy Ms. Hamilton a freaking thesaurus.  It's the exact same thoughts, scenes, etc and the words barely change.  And these are the exact same things she's stated and described in every book for the last 10!

As I said, I had high hopes starting this book.  The last one actually had me very curious about what would happen with Olaf.  He wasn't to be found in this one and I was a bit disappointed but the plot was moving nicely and then it just stopped.  Instead we got an all time cop-out when after all the monotonous sex scenes, the human servant of the missing master shows up at the police station and hands them all the information on  a silver platter.  REALLY?!?!  No investigative work, no mystery, nada.  It just gets handed to them with a big freaking bow on it and all they have to do is go shoot some people.


I keep saying I'm through with this series and then I end up getting pulled back in and I'm sorry enough to say that likely the next one will have that glimmer of hope and I'll end up reading it but again, it will be because my library has a copy.  I am sticking to my resolution not to pay for this drivel because you never know what you are going to get.  It seems to be about every 3rd book really packs a punch and reminds me of the start of the series but the in between ones are just pathetic attempts at erotica.  I don't think any other author I've read has disappointed me as much as Ms. Hamilton as she did have a good series until she screwed it up.

Page count: 359p/21,390p

Saturday, June 9, 2012

110:65 The Enchantress by Michael Scott

The 6th and final book in "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" series.  The battle for Earth is coming and the twins are finally reunited again but back in Danu Talis 10,000 years in the past.  Many of their friends are also there (Scathach, Prometheus, Joan of Arc, Saint-Germain, Shakespeare, and more) but this battle will truly come down to the twins and no one knows right now which side the twins will take or even if they will stand together for the prophecy states that one will destroy the world and the other will save it.

Nicholas and Perenelle are in SF modern times dealing with the creatures trapped on Alcatraz that are to be set loose to ravage the city but their time and power is almost up.  With few resources to call upon and only a few friends at their side, will it be enough to save the city?

Very fast paced and well done ending to this series.  Some people switched sides, there were a few "what did you say?!" reveals that made you stand up and take notice, epic battles, and a good resolution.  I admit, I like a good HEA but at the same time, there are some books that just doesn't work with and it feels cheap when you get it.  Mr. Scott didn't pull punches.  This was a war and not everyone lives.  The twins have to make some hard choices and while there is a resolution, I would hesitate to call it a HEA but it's not one that disappoints or leaves you super sad or angry.  More like hopeful with a touch of regret.

I admit, I'm going to miss this world that Mr. Scott has built but the story has been told.  He's done a few e-novellas which allows him to keep playing in it but on a much lesser scale and so far, I've not found them exciting but I remain hopeful for the new one featuring Billy the Kid.  I would really love to see backstories on all the immortals and how they ended up as immortals and get bits of what they've lived through but I'm not sure if this is in the cards.

Page count: 517p/21,031p

Friday, June 8, 2012

110:64 Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow

I've read a few other pieces of Doctorow's work and they were always enjoyable if a bit strange and out there.  This one went so far out there into strangeland, there were no Taco Bell's to be found.  Alan (Adam, Alric) seems almost normal, a bit odd to be sure and maybe a bit overly friendly but that is only because no one knows of his past.  He grew up in the shadow of his loving father, the mountain, and was rocked in the embrace of his mother, the washing machine.  As each of his brothers was born, he cared for them and tried to help them fit into the world but that wasn't always possible.  Bradly (Bobby, Branden) could see the future.  Craig (Charles, Chris) was destined to become an island, a miniature of their father.  Davey (Darren, Doug) was a sick and twisted child who delighted in tormenting others while stuck in his desiccated, falling apart body.  Edward (Egbert, Ernie), Frank (Franz, Fred), and George (Greg, Gordon) are a trio of nesting dolls who can't survive without the others.

Alan has come off the mountain and been moderately successful through his study of people.  He has now bought and remodeled a new house, gotten to know his new neighbors (a brother and sister trying to figure out their lives, a girl with wings, and a surly young man) and is ready to start writing a novel when Ed & Frank show up on his doorstep to tell him that George is missing and they think Davey is behind it.  Alan invites them to stay while they try to find the missing brother.  But then Frank disappears and then Ed is abducted down a drainpipe in the fountain outside his home.  Now he is remembering his past and trying to figure out Davey's next move before Davey comes for him.

So yeah, as I said, it's very strange.  The timeline jumps all over the place as well.  But you know, it works.  You very quickly figure out when things are taking place.  You figure out what is going on with the character's names.  Really, about 20% of the way through, I didn't really notice any of it any more and was just immersed in the story which was incredibly well told.  My only complaint is the ending left me wanting to scream as it was totally unfulfilling but in it's own way, that too totally works with the rest of the story.  This is not a typical story with a clear cut beginning, middle, and end.  It's much more like a snapshot of Alan's life with enough background so you can understand the present day events but since his life doesn't end at the end of the story, the story doesn't have a real resolution.  In all, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to someone looking for something very different.

Page count: 331p/20,514p

Thursday, May 31, 2012

110:63 Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Classic adventure tale.  My only other reading of Verne's work was 20,000 Leagues which I had a mixed opinion of.  On the whole, I enjoyed this one much more.  Less time was spent classifying  and more time spent on the human interaction and self-reflection but still managing to be scientific in feeling.  Similar stories in some regards, especially in comparing the Professor and the Sea Captain.  Dogmatically pursuing their ideals without any real regard for those who get dragged along.  Even still, I admired his tenacity while I found the nephew harder to relate to.  He whined incessantly and it felt like he was only along to try and show his uncle where he was wrong and thus providing his uncle with the means to show off his superior knowledge.

Still a fascinating read and has me wanting to read more of his work in the future.

Page count: 282p/20,183p

Saturday, May 26, 2012

110:62 Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

2nd in the Alex Price series.  Left foots are being found, some still in shoes but there are no signs of how they were detached nor any other body parts.  Eventually Alex is brought in and with the help of a friend, tries to raise a shade with no success.  All they can get is the shade of a dancing left foot.  Unfortunately it looks like even that is too much information and soul constructs are now coming after Alex from all over the place.

Somehow Finn is involved with this.  He disappeared almost immediately after the last case and shows up now on her front door badly wounded.  Caleb doesn't trust him, Death doesn't like him, & he's the Queen's Bloody Hands but still Alex feels compelled to help him & he her but it's a dangerous road they must travel through the kingdoms of fairie and beyond.

In all, a good book.  Pace was better than the first one and the story was engaging but she still gets a bit repetitive.  Some avenues of exploration have been left open that look promising for future books.

Page count: 400p/19,901p ytd

Thursday, May 24, 2012

110:61 Blackout by Mira Grant

The end of the Newsflesh trilogy.  Georgia has been brought back as a clone by the CDC in order to try and control Shaun.  The EIS wants to get this version (7c who is 97% accurate) out before that happens.  Shaun is going more and more insane due to Georgia's death and is working with Dr. Abby to try and find out who created the mosquitoes that are now able to spread a KA outbreak.  What's left of his team (Mahir, Maggie, Becks, and Alaric) are still with him off the grid trying to break this story open but Alaric's main concern is his sister who is trapped in FL after the outbreak there...especially since it looks like the government is considering FL a loss and is pulling out but not letting the survivors leave.

So what happens when all these pieces that have been thrown out there finally start coming together?  That is the story that is Blackout.  Ms Grant does a fine job of weaving it all together using the voices of Georgia and Shaun in the very believable world that she has created.  That being said tho, there were a few points that I was disappointed in.  First, I HATE when authors bring people they've killed back from the dead.  It always seems like a cheat to me and while she did it better than most, I'm still not a fan of it.  I think it cheapened the death of Georgia in the first place which was one of the most poignant death scenes I've ever read.  Second, I felt the wrap-up of all the conspiracies being easily handed to them by the President and VP on a silver platter was a bit too pat of an answer.  I think it would have been more in keeping with the other books to have Shaun finish going crazy because Georgia really was dead but yet he and his team find the information they were seeking and blown the whole thing open.  So for me, this book stands out at the weakest of the three.  That's not a knock as it is still an absolutely engaging, mesmerizing, and haunting tale of love, government conspiracy, and zombies and better than the majority of tripe being put out and it had a very bar set for it which, imo, it feel just a bit short of.

Still....go read it.  Seriously.  And then Rise Up!

Page count: 659p/19,501p ytd

Friday, May 18, 2012

110:60 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

The sequel to The Story of Doctor Dolittle.  In this one, Dolittle is told that another naturalist, Long Arrow, has gone missing so he immediately sets off with his friends to try and find him.  It's another lovely and endearing tale of this sweet doctor and the animals who help him with his adventures.

Page count: 350p/18,842p ytd

110:59 Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

The first book in the Alex Craft series.  Alex Craft is a grave witch.  She can raise shades and speak to ghosts and is on good terms with Death.  She's been asked in to investigate a high-profile murder and gets much more than she bargained for.  Much, much more.  Dark magic is involved and someone is definitely after her.

A good first novel for the series and really, I would have given it a 3.5 stars if I could have but I ended up rounding down because there were places were it was just a bit too slow paced and I think the writing needing to be a bit tighter.  The characters were good and fairly lively.  The main protagonist had a lot of good points but did she really have to remind herself every single time not to thank her fae roommate?  There were a few points like that which were just unnecessarily repeated but yet she never wondered why the detective is wearing gloves?  She wasn't as clueless as some heroines and I liked that even if she couldn't depend on the cavalry to come save her, she wasn't going to go down without a fight and gives it her all.

In all tho, it had some new and interesting twists in a new setting.  Intriguing and fresh and I'm already starting the next one.

Page count: 325p/18,492p ytd

Saturday, May 12, 2012

110:58 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster

Milo is bored.  School is boring, home is boring, his toys are boring, everything is boring...even that mysterious box that shows up in his bedroom with a strange tollbooth in it.  But what he finds on the other side of that tollbooth is anything but boring.  A whole new world opens up before him: one where you eat your own words,  can collect sounds in a bottle, a symphony colors the world, and a little boy must rescue Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason from the Castle in the Air with the help of a watchdog named Tock and a Humbug.

One of those timeless children's classics that I somehow never got around to reading when I was actually a child.  I decided to rectify that by doing a novel study with Jon.  He was reluctant at first but after the first few chapters, we were both hooked.  A lovely book that takes so much of what we say figuratively and literally turns it upon itself but in the end you learn that so many things are possible so long as you don't know they are impossible.

Page count: 256p/18,167p ytd

110:57 Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson

The first book in the Queen Betsy or Undead series (I've seen it called both).  Out of work secretary is hit and killed by a car and wakes up a few days later in the morgue and walks out.  It takes a while but Betsy eventually figures out that she's a vampire but when she finally finds more of her kind, it becomes apparent that she is unique in her abilities to handle sunlight, crosses, and her hunger.  She is, in fact, the long awaited fulfillment of prophecy for the undead queen.  She doesn't want any of this however and wants to just go back to her old life but there are vampire factions that will not allow this and one of them comes bearing designer shoes...

I have to admit, I've seen this series around and heard friends talk about it and had pretty much brushed it off as too chick lit for my tastes.  Then I decided I might give it a chance and had started picking up used copies of the books in the series as I found them cheaply but still didn't read them and had actually boxed them up when I had to pare my book shelves down recently.  I only bought and read this one for a book challenge as it was the only series I could think of that started with 'U'.

I'm so glad I read it!  It was light and funny and it never took itself seriously.  It never pretended to be something more than it was which was a light, fun read.  I actually find myself looking forward to getting the rest out of storage eventually, filling in the holes and reading through them.  I can only hope they are as entertaining as this one was.

Page count: 255p/17,911p ytd

Friday, May 11, 2012

110:56 Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

The 12th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  Felipe, Eric's king, is coming to town to look for his missing right-hand man, Victor.  Big problem is that Eric and Sookie killed Victor so proving their innocence could be tricky.  Turns out not to be a big worry since during the initial meeting between the two sides, a dead woman is found in Eric's front yard...a woman he was recently drinking from.  Now they need to figure out who killed her since it obviously seems like a set-up.

That was basically how it was described and I was all set for a big showdown between Felipe and Eric and seeing how they were going to get out of this.  Based on the last book, I was also looking forward to a resolution between Eric and Sookie's relationship.  So not what I got.

I was disappointed with this book.  It's not just that I didn't get what I was expecting but that sooooo much time was spent following Sookie around as she did mundane things and tried to forget all the crap she was dealing with.  I get that forgetting all the awful stuff that happens is a normal, natural thing but really...what would make you think I want to spend a few pages reading about her making sweet potato pie for her brother?  It seemed like this book took a huge step backward in her character development as she spent a lot of time bemoaning her fate and waiting for Eric to talk to her and waiting for someone to tell her what was going on because she couldn't figure anything out at any time until it was totally outlined for her.  Gone was any type of strength or self-assuredness  that we had seen.  Instead it was all, "I'm having a horrible day/life and it sucks so I think I'll put on more make-up to feel better about myself".   Really?!  That's what you've got to make yourself feel better?  Make-up?  Pretty clothes?

I'm glad this series is almost at an end.  I've heard #13 is the last book but honestly, it feels like it should have ended a few books ago.  This one and the last have had very little life or plot to them and could have just as easily have been one book instead of two for all the actual content they had.  Ms. Harris definitely seems to be done with the series and is stretching it out to meet contractual obligations.  I hope the last one actually wraps things up in a spectacular way to make-up for these last two disappointments.

Page count: 327p/17,656p ytd

Thursday, May 10, 2012

110:55 Lover Reborn by JR Ward

The 10th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  This one follows Tohrment as he tries to move past the death of his shellan so that she and their unborn son can be released from the InBetween (their version of Purgatory but one where you can only stay for so long before losing yourself and staying forever) and into the Fade (their version of Heaven).  The Lessers are barely any part of this story but instead the secondary storyline follows Xcor and his Band of Bastards who seek to dethrone Wrath.

I approve of the way the new romance was handled in being incredibly respectful of Tohrment's previous mate.  It was about him not ceasing to love her but rather finally being able to know that he could love her but still move on with his life.  It took time, heartbreak, anger, hurt, and everything else for him to do that and I appreciate that it wasn't just swept under the rug but rather made the central theme.

I liked seeing the conflict between Xhex and John.  If that had turned out HEA I think it damages those characters.  I'm not sure I like what is going on with the Qhuinn, Layla, Blay, Saxton, and possibly Xcor thing tho.  Qhuinn and Layla trying to have a baby just seems icky especially since they are both in love with other people.  I'd love to see Qhuinn and Blay get a story but unfortunately I don't see that ever happening.  While Ms. Ward isn't afraid to have homosexual characters in her books which I'm happy to see, I doubt she will risk upsetting her target audience by doing a book solely about a M/M relationship and thus their relationship seems doomed to stay in the background, unfolding slowly over several books, but never getting the spotlight.

It's nice to have a new plot device coming but unfortunately, it looks like the main reason for it is because she needed more males to continue the series.  She'd run out of her main male characters so she brought in a fresh infusion of character simply so she can continue the series.  It's now a cashcow and has less to do with resolving anything or true world building and everything to do with continuing to find new characters to pair up.

Which leads to my main complaint with this one as with the previous ones.  What do Autumn and Tohr actually have in common other than great sex and tortured pasts?  Hobbies?  Interests?  It's frustrating that Ms. Ward can create such a rich world with wonderful backstory on everyone but yet the characters have no interests outside of killing lessers, sex, drinking, and watching tv.  Really?!  I think it's a shame that she has only once shown any part of a true relationship being built on anything other than mutual attraction or inner turmoil.  The world is rich enough to keep me interested enough to read but while I buy tons of books each year, I check hers out of the library because I cant' bring myself to pay money for something that could so obviously be better and that the author is so clearly capable of making better but chooses not to.

Page count: 527p/17,329p

110:54 Return of the King by JRR Tolkien

The end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.   Everyone who has read it always remembers Frodo's trials, Sam's devotion, Gollum's part in the destruction of it.  What I always forget until I read the book again is the aftermath, especially in the Shire.  The movies always leave that out, it's always forgotten.  It's always the HEA once the ring is gone.  Aragorn gets married, Eowyn is engaged, and yes it's sad that Frodo and Bilbo sail off with the elves but that's ok after what they've been through but it's all still HEA resolutions.  I think it's incredibly telling that Tolkien doesn't actually leave it there but takes it to a more realistic ending where the Hobbits come back to find the Shire besieged by Sarauman.  Their homes weren't just safely waiting for them to come home and they had to fight to get the evil out there as well.  War doesn't pass over your home because you are on the frontlines and this made sure to point that out.  Yes, in the end there is the HEA but it took longer than just riding off into the sunset to achieve and I respect the heck out of Tolkien for that.

At some point now, I really need to read some of the other books set in that world as I do enjoy it but always forget how much until I end up rereading it again.

Page count: 277p/16,757p ytd