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

Friday, May 4, 2012

110:53 Night Seeker by Yasmine Galenorn

The 3rd book in the Indigo Court series.  Cicely and her friends have rescued Grieve but at the cost of their alliance with the vampires and the Summer Queen.  In desperation, they turn to the Consortium, the preeminent magical guild, for help.  Now, to regain the good will of Lainule, they must dare to enter the heart of Myst's realm.  But as Cicely and Grieve embark on their search for the heartstone of Summer, Myst, the Queen of Winter, is already wrecking her terrifying revenge.

I was really amazed at just how much was packed into this book.  There was lots of action in the previous two books but this one seemed to kick it up a notch.  Don't want to give too much away but there is a lot of change of leadership in the supernatural realm.  We get to learn a little bit more about the Consortium (and I have a feeling they will be playing a bigger part in later books) and Rhia's and Peyton's backgrounds as well.  We've been told that there is more to the history of Grieve and Cicely than has been revealed so far but no clue what it is.  Several things do get resolved a bit but so much more gets set-up.  Love this series!

Page count: 290p/16,480p ytd

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

110:52 Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter

The 4th book in the Jane Yellowrock series.  Jane is guarding Leo's representative in her hometown area as the local head vampire petitions to become a Master of the City with hunting and breeding rites.  They aren't in town long before Jane is called in to investigate an apparent vampire attack only to find that it was werewolves, not vampires...the werewolves, in fact, being the ones she spared from the pack she destroyed in the previous novel.  They are trying to create a new pack and are out for vengeance. Add in Evangeline, Molly's sister, is spelling her own coven and Jane is sure there is something more going on there, especially after Evan and Angie both start asking for her help with it.

I really love how each book seems to have a couple of different things going on pulling Jane in different directions until the pieces fall into place showing how they are all interrelated.  It happened earlier in this book which I liked because there was still tons to deal with but at least she didn't seem nearly as clueless as previous books had her.  Jane seems more at ease with herself (I won't say peace as she still has some major guilt issues right now) and that's good because things definitely go more massively sideways in this book than ever before.

It was another very fast paced book with TONS going on.  My biggest complaint is this one ended on more of a cliff-hanger than previous ones with some blood servants taking shots at Leo in the last chapter and we don't know whose they are and we have to wait a year to get the next one.  *pout*

Page count: 353p/16,190p ytd