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