Tuesday, December 31, 2013

140:120 Undead and Uneasy by MaryJanice Davidson

6th book in the Queen Betsy series.  Betsy is only a few weeks from her wedding date and still doesn't have a dress!  She's also now missing a groom and all of her friends which really sucks for her when she is at her dad and step-mom's funereal.  Where has everyone gone?!  Especially now that she is the guardian for BabyJon and has werewolves beating down her door looking for Antonia.  Thank goodness she has the right shoes for every emergency.

A little darker than previous installments and we see a bit more growth from Betsy as she has to deal with trying to figure out what has gone on but still on the fluffy side.  A fun read and I will be interested to see where it goes from here.

Page count: 258p/36,658p ytd/181,058p lifetime

And with that, I think I'm done with reading for the year. There will be friends over and the odds of finishing another book are slim. I hit most of my goals and will do my yearly wrap-up and new goals post in the next day or so. In the meantime, for those that actually read this blog, keep reading!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

139:120 The Spider by Jennifer Estep

Book 10 in the Elemental Assassin series.  It's a normal day at the diner when a package is delivered for Gin containing a dozen dark blue roses with milky stems and the cryptic message "Happy Anniversary".  The flowers trigger a trip down memory lane and we get a look at the novice assassin on her first major hit and one that taught her many life lessons she has never forgotten as well as filled her with guilt like no other.  

It was nice to see Gin back before we first met her in Spider's Bite and see Fletcher again.  Good story and plot although fairly transparent.  A few cameos put in for the die hard fans which was a nice touch.  My main complaint is the same one I always have with this series which is the long, repetitive internal monologues.  We got that your family was murdered but honestly, even brand new people to the series don't need to be reminded every other chapter.

Page count: 400p/36,400p ytd/180,800p lifetime

138:120 Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton

Book 22 in the Anita Blake series.   It's a day like any other until Anita gets a call from Micah's mother whom he hasn't spoken to in years in an effort to keep his family safe from Chimera.  Micah's father has been bitten by some strange zombie and is now rotting from the inside out and doesn't have long to live.  Anita goes with Micah to his father's bedside as his support but it's also her job to try and figure out what is going on with this new zombie infection and what she finds out isn't comforting at all.

The plot was decent and the number of sex scenes was down which are both good things but instead she has now replaced the meaningless sex with long internal monologues about how well Anita's life is working so she doesn't want to screw it up.  The book was mostly one long dive into how Anita's relationships are working and how much she has changed from who she was with the occasional foray into screwed up family relationships.  I had high hopes when Edward came along only to find that he has apparently gone into therapy and is no longer our favorite little sociopath but is encouraging Anita to go have sex and cuddle with her guys.  The main bad guy could have been much more interesting but again, that seemed to take a back seat to the relationships and emotional garbage.  And the repetition!!!  OMG!  Seriously, we don't need to hear repeatedly how Leandro has a family so can't be put into danger like she did last time or about JC's eyes or any of the other things that we were reminded of on a constant basis.  Also, seriously, get a better editor!  There were multiple places were it looks like a sentence had been changed but the old one not completely erased or something as they made no frigging sense whatever.  I would have to reread them several times to try and figure out what was trying to be said.

So why did I read it when I was pretty sure I was done with this series after the last book?  Mostly because I was still hoping to make my page read count for the year (not happening) and it was at the library at the same time I was with a lot of pages I could read quickly and I caved.  Big mistake.

Page count: 570p/36,000p ytd/180,400p lifetime

Sunday, December 22, 2013

137:120 Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Mr. Popper paints houses for a living but in the winter when no one wants his services, he spends his time researching famous explorers and fantasizing about traveling around the world.  Then one day, Admiral Cook answers his letter by sending him a penguin of his own from Antarctica and the adventure begins.  First, how do you care for a penguin in your home in the midwestern United States, especially when you are broke?  Then what about licensing and regulations?  And what to do when he gets lonely?  Mr. Popper has to come up with a way to deal with all these things and the adventure is on!

An extremely well done and cute book about an extraordinary experience for an ordinary family.  My kids love it and it's easy to see why it's a classic.

Page count: 139p/35,430p ytd/179,830p lifetime

Friday, December 20, 2013

136:120 Forbidden by Kelley Armstrong

A new story set in her Otherworld series featuring Elena and Clay.  Morgan has decided to take Elena and Clay up on the offer they made when they were in Alaska and come down to check out the Pack.  Unfortunately, when he makes a pit stop in a small town, he gets more than just dinner.  When he is found naked out in the woods and picked up by the local police, they search his things and find Elena's name and number.  When she gets the call, she and Clay go out there to assess the situation and bring Morgan back to the Pack.  Unfortunately, after they spring him from the jail they find their tires have been slashed as have Morgan's.  From there, things only get stranger and stranger as they are pushed into staying and since they are here, they start poking their noses into everything and uncover more than they bargained for.

I so miss this series and especially Elena and Clay as they were my favorites. This was a wonderful story with them, especially watching them work on their new roles as Alpha and Enforcer while not losing their relationship as husband and wife.  I'm glad that while the main story has been told, Ms. Armstrong continues to bring out these other side stories through a small publisher and hope there will be many more to come.

Page count: 212p/35,291p ytd/179,691p lifetime

135:120 Drinking and Conjuring Don't Mix by Stefon Mears

Wizards should never conjure after they've been drinking.  It seems pretty obvious but Perry thought it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Sort of like when he bound his familiar into a chalkboard.  Now he has a spirit of deception running around asking them difficult questions every time they try to bind it and their time is running short to banish it before it grows strong enough to summon its kin.  

A delightful little romp and a great lesson for future wizards.  Heck, maybe I'll have my kids read it as a lesson in why pretty much anything you think is a good idea when drunk probably isn't.

Page count: 30p/35,079p ytd/179,479p lifetime

Thursday, December 19, 2013

134:120 The Curse of Valassa by Stefon Mears

The war is over and now it's time for the men who left as boys to return to their villages with little more than what they left with if they return at all but for for two of them, that is not enough so when they meet a priest at an inn looking for protection on the road, they take him up on it.  What none of them know is that they will end up dealing with the priest's god's nemesis and the Curse of Valassa which has taken hold of the priest's village.  Whose God will prove the mightier?

As a short story the plot was basic and not much in the way of character growth but it moved nicely and the world set-up was well done and interesting.  I would definitely read more in this universe.

Page count: 42p/35,049p ytd/179,449p lifetime

133:120 Undead and Unpopular by MaryJanice Davidson

The 5th book in the Queen Betsy series.  Betsy is doing all the work planning her wedding with zero help from her fiance, Sinclair.  It's only a few months away and horrors! She doesn't even have her dress yet!  Her birthday is any day now and while she has protested that she doesn't want a party or presents, she is secretly hoping that no one listens to her (they never do anyway) and plans something wonderful.  Nothing is ever that simple in her life tho and now the European vampires have finally sent over a delegation but everything goes crazy when it turns out one of their members was responsible for killing and turning one of Betsy's friends years ago.  Add in a zombie in the attic and the Ant constantly leaving BabyJon with Betsy and it's non-stop craziness for the Queen.

I'm glad I took a break because I was able to just enjoy the book without completely wanting to strangle Betsy most of the time.  Admittedly, she does seem to do some growing up a bit in this one and may finally be starting to grow into her role as Queen of the Vampires.  Definitely a bubblegum book but a nice break from all the school stuff I'm having to read right now.

Page count: 286p/35,007p ytd/179,407p lifetime

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

132:120 Nothing O'Clock by Neil Gaiman

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary 11th Doctor short story.  The Kin have escaped the temporal prison the Time Lords put them in eons ago and are now buying up property all over the Earth using their temporal shifting techniques.  Now they want The Doctor to come so they can use his TARDIS to go back to the beginning of time to populate the entire universe with only themselves.  Will he figure it out in time or is the universe doomed?

Love Gaiman and he truly captures the mannerisms of the 11th Doctor in this one.  The story is quick but engaging, the Doctor quirky and energetic, and the whole thing a fun read.  The 11th Doctor is not one of my favorites but this is a great read nonetheless.  

Page count: 45p/34,721p ytd/179,121p lifetime

131:120 A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin

The 4th book in the Song of Fire and Ice (or Game of Thrones) series.  This book only follows a handful of the characters we've been reading about over the next interval of time: Cersei, Jaime, Brienne, Arya, Sansa, and Samwell.  We get a bit of some other minor characters and get introduced to a few new ones but not to any great extent.  Many of the questions left unanswered at the end of the last book are still unanswered at the end of this one.  The main thread is watching as things go downhill under Cersei in King's Landing and just how crazy she has become.  Kind of fun but not nearly as interesting when concentrating on her to the exclusion of almost everything else.  I'm very thankful that I do not have to wait several years for the next book and can only hope that Dances with Dragons flows better and answers questions and fills in some holes.  I enjoy the complexity of the world and don't mind the tons of characters but I think the story would have actually been much better served if he had kept writing about all the characters instead of breaking up the too big 4th book the way he did.

Page count: 753p/34,676p ytd/179,076p lifetime

130:120 Search and Destroy by Nancy A. Collins

The first new Sonja Blue in almost a decade and I was so looking forward to finally getting back into that world.  Unfortunately, this was a disappointment.  Yes, it was Sonja but all that made her different and unique was missing.  Her personality was bland and the entire thing was simply her hunting a basic vampire because that's what she does.  No other reason, nothing more to the story, just that.  After the other short story I bought that ended up just being a recycled story from several years ago with a few culture references updated, I'm not sure if I will try again or not to recapture my feelings for this series.  Sonja Blue was an incredible character and vampire slayer years before Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse or any of the others that we see currently but it doesn't seem like Ms. Collins heart is really in writing her any longer.  Her story seemed to be told and done and while I'd love to find out more, this type of thing is not worthy of her.

Page count: 63p/33,923p ytd/178,323p lifetime

Sunday, December 8, 2013

129:120 The Queen's Witch by Karen Chance

Another Kit Marlowe short story.  Kit has found Gillian again and this time has convinced her to help him discover the threat to Her Majesty before he gives her what she needs for her and her daughter to leave England altogether.

Definitely needs to be read after The Gauntlet as it is a continuation of that story.  Again, a fun little romp in Kit's past but has very little to do with the Cassie story line especially since Kit is such a minor character in it.

Page count: 26p/33,860p ytd/178,260p lifetime

Yes, I know I've been reading a lot of short stories lately. I've been trying to get some stuff off my to-read list and I've been doing a bunch of reading for the kids' school so short stories have been easier to just get through between all the other reading.

128:120 The Gauntlet by Karen Chance

A Kit Marlowe short.  Kit is looking for a witch to help him with a deception but when he finds the one he thinks will work, the Circle starts trying to bring the prison down on top of them.  In the process, Gillian, the witch, ends up becoming more powerful than either of them knew and that's when things get really interesting...

A fun little read but nothing spectacular.  Kit is not a major figure in the Cassie Palmer series but I've heard he figures more prominently in the Dorina series which I haven't read so maybe seeing more of him there, this would have had more relevance.

Page count: 52p/33,834p ytd/178,234p lifetime

127:120 Cold Turkey by Nancy A. Collins

A short story set in the world of Sonja Blue.  Sonja is mistaken as a regular human by a guy at the bar and proceeds to try and play human for him...until the Other takes over and proceeds with her own ideas of what constitutes a fun relationship.

I was disappointed as this was billed as being written in 2012 but really it was the same story as one published in 2002 with only a few things changed to make it more contemporary.  I enjoyed the story the first time I read it but wasn't happy to basically be duped into buying it again.  The additional story with it is the first in a serial that Ms. Collins is doing, "Absalom's Wake", was not enough to make up for the duplicity.  It was definitely not my cup of tea and not something I'll be searching out to continue reading.

Page count: 44p/33,782p ytd/178,182p lifetime

Saturday, December 7, 2013

126:120 Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Dina Demille is working hard to establish her Inn as a safe place and secure her place as an Innkeeper when something starts killing dogs in the neighborhood and she can tell that it's not going to be satisfied with that for long.  She talks to the new werewolf in the neighborhood to take care of the problem but when it doesn't look like Sean will, she decides that regardless of her position of neutrality she must take care of this menace to protect herself, her Inn, and her neighbors.  What follows just goes to show why you don't mess with the Innkeepers.

A new series by Ilona Andrews, the husband-wife team of the Kate Daniels series.  Completely new setting that has the feel of urban fantasy but goes more appropriately into the fantasy genre as our werewolves and vampires come from other planets and our Innkeepers like to go shopping among the stars.  I found the premise intriguing and well executed.  I liked that while there was some exposition it was woven well into the story instead of long dumps of it for no apparent reason which I think tends to help things flow better.  There is a lot to explore in this world, especially since when dealing with an Inn any race can stop by and stay so we are not dealing with even the same species book after book which opens up so many possibilities.  I look forward to their next foray into the universe, not as much as the next Kate Daniels book but that one is now well established and I'm well hooked.  *big grin*

Page count: 181p/33,738p ytd/178,138p lifetime

125:120 Shadowland by Karen Chance

A Cassie Palmer novella.  A bomb has gotten through all the security and blown Cassie to bits which sends John on a mission to kill his father whom he blames for killing Cassie....except Cassie is not really dead but instead stuck in a time loop thanks to her Pythia powers.  She is unable to escape the loop but even when she dies, she comes back and repeats the pattern.  The only way for her to get unstuck in time is to have all those who were in the room with her back together again and then stop the bomb from ever going off.  So much easier said than done when John was there but is off in the demonrealms hunting his father.

A fun little novella and my favorite part by far was seeing how Cassie develops when faced with the impossible scenario where only she seems to remember what is going on.

Page count: 54p/33,557p ytd/177,957p lifetime

124:120 The Ancient Near Eastern World by Amanda H. Podany & Marni McGee

Middle-school The World in Ancient Times series by Oxford Press.  Looking at the kingdoms of the Middle East including Mesopotamia and Babylon as well Hammarabi, Gilgamesh, the founding of the Jewish religion and Israel, the five great kingdoms and their relationships, the last Mesopotamian king, and the rise of the Persian Empire.

I really love how the book always takes time to explain how we know the things that we do, what we have found, and why we believe what we do about those findings.  It brings it alive for me much better than just a dry recitation.  There are also stories of people who lived during that time, not just the kings but the regular people as well.  Truly one of the most fun history series for kids I've come across.

Page count: 174p/33,503p ytd/177,903p lifetime

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

123:120 White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana Rowland

The 3rd book in the White Trash Zombie series.  Angel is working hard to get her life on track now that she's a zombie and will live much longer than she ever expected and it's actually going ok. She has a sort of boyfriend who is a cop and good to her, things with her dad are rocky but better than they ever have been in the past, she has friends who care about her and have her back, she has a good job that supplies her with brains, and now she is even studying for her GED.  Unfortunately, there is still Saberton out there who kidnapped her and forced her to create a zombie child, Phillip.  Now there is a zombie movie being filmed in her small town and things definitely don't seem quite right.  Phillip is showing up there and is in bad shape, people are chasing her down again, and the whole zombie-world seems to be going absolutely crazy.  Angel is going to need to keep all her brains about her to get through it all.

Ok, this series seems like it should be up there in the fluff department with the Queen Betsy books but it really isn't.  The characters grow and change from book to book and deal with situations as well as they are able.  Angel continues to take leaps and bounds in her development as we see what a huge heart she has but also what a good brain she actually has as she wants to learn more about the science behind the zombie parasite.  She doesn't want handouts but isn't above calling in favors when the situation warrants it.  I honestly really like her and how believable she is (ok, except for the whole zombie part).  A bummer I'm done with all her books for now and will have to wait probably another year for the next one.  I do have the first book in another series by the same author and I hope she takes the same care with those characters.

Page count: 311p/33,329p ytd/177,729p lifetime

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

122:120 A House at Cobb End by Karen Chance

A super short story in the world of Cassie Palmer featuring Pritkin.  John is searching for just the right house to bring his new wife home to upon their marriage in less than a month's time.  The problem is nothing seems quite right until he sees a listing for the perfect home only to find out that it's not supposedly available due to haunting circumstances.  Does anyone actually think this will stop Pritkin?

While very short, Pritkin's personality is very much in tact and we get to learn a bit more about his early childhood in this one.  A nice little read.

Page count: 10p/33,018p ytd/177,418p lifetime

Sunday, December 1, 2013

121:120 A Family Affair by Karen Chance

A short story set in the world of Cassie Palmer featuring Pritkin.  Pritkin's father has agreed to a deal with John where if John goes and recaptures this mega-demon, he will stop trying to kill Cassie.  Pritkin agrees but the chase he is led on is more than he bargained for and of course, once Cassie finds out about it she is bound and determined to go after him which is the last thing he wanted   Just how crazy will it get before the end...that is always the question when those two are involved.

A fun side story and I love seeing more of Pritkin.  Mircea has been so absent lately and I miss him but I've always been kind of partial to Pritkin so I like seeing more of his history and relationship with his father and his demon side.

Page count: 46p/33,008p ytd/177,408 lifetime

120:120 Day of the Dead by Karen Chance

A short story set in the Cassie Palmer universe but features Tomas who had been Cassie's roommate in the first book and then switched sides and disappeared after stuff went down.  Now he is back in his native town of South America hunting down his old master, the one who had turned him.  He knows that it's almost impossible for him to succeed but he feels he has nothing to lose at this point.  While scouting things out, he finds much more than he bargained for...

A fun little side tale in the universe.  Leads me to believe we have not seen the last of Tomas.

Page count: 52p/32,962p ytd/177,362p lifetime

Friday, November 22, 2013

119:120 Parasite by Mira Grant

The first book in a new duology from the author of the Newsflesh trilogy!  Symbogen has created the ultimate new device in medical technology, a symbiotic parasite that is tailor made for you to keep you healthy.  It gets rid of almost all need for daily medications for things like high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems, etc.  What could be better?  Then the sleeping sickness starts affecting people who have the parasite.  They just seem to go out to lunch and never return and it seems to be spreading.  Sal is a survivor of a horrible car crash who was saved by her parasite six years ago but now the sleepers seem to be cropping up near her constantly and when they do, she seems to be the focus of their attention.  What is going on and how do they make it all stop?

A thoroughly enjoyable read.  Not much in the way of twists and turns that aren't easily figured out early on but there were a few minor ones that were fun.  A bit slow in a few places but more often it's moving at warp speed.  If you enjoyed Feed or like scientific horror, go grab your copy now!

Page count: 512p/32,910p ytd/177,310p lifetime

Monday, November 18, 2013

118:120 Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland

The 2nd book in the White Trash Zombie series.  Angel is finally getting her life back on track, now that she's a zombie.  She has a job, a boyfriend who happens to be a cop, and is even working on passing the GED to complete her probation requirements.  Yep, life is pretty good so long as their is a stead supply of brains until she is held up at work and a body stolen.  Suddenly no one believes her but even once she can start offering proof that things aren't right, it just gets weirder and weirder.  Now she is finding out about the zombie mafia and government agencies wanting to create zoldiers.  What can one screw-up like Angle do about these kind of things?

I really enjoy how this series has real plot and character development with plenty of humor and crazy situations.  It's definitely not a series I would have ever picked up on my own but after my oldest got the first one for a present last year and we both read it, I made sure he got the next two for his birthday because it's a fun series.  I've even picked up another book by this author in a different series as I've heard the same things I like about this one are present there as well.  Here's hoping!

Page count: 312p/32,398pytd/176,798p lifetime

Friday, November 15, 2013

117:120 Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

Framboise has returned to the small French town of her youth under her married name, unable to stay away but not willing to face the mistrust and hatred of the town as the daughter of the infamous Mirabelle Dartigan.  Unfortunately, the past is not so easily put to rest as she finds when she starts reading through her mother's journal filled with her famous recipes but also pieces of her thoughts written between the lines.  The memories take Framboise back to her childhood in German occupied France when as a child of nine, she had little understanding of the world and words like collaborator and resistance.  Will she finally be able to put the demons of her youth to rest or will what happened to her during that year continue to haunt her forever?

A story that seems to wind it's way along, going back and forth between present day and the past but then I would look up to find that 30min or more had passed and another 10% of the book was done and I would just want to keep reading because it was quiet and deliberate, descriptive without droning on and on, touching and poignant without being heart-breaking.

Page count: 307p/32,086pytd /176,486p lifetime

And with that, I've read 40 new authors this year with time to spare. I'll easily make my goal of 120 books but not sure the goal of 40,000 pages is going to happen. I thought with reading GoT, that would make it easier but those are so in-depth and rich that I'm not whipping through them quickly like I would with other books. We'll see what happens but right now my big goal may just be to get through the rest of that series before the end of the year.

Friday, November 8, 2013

116:120 A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

Charlie Asher couldn't believe his luck.  He was married to a beautiful woman who had just given birth to their first child, a healthy baby girl.  Yep, everything was going great until he went back to the hospital to bring her a CD and found a man dressed in mint green next to her bedside as she died.  Now objects coming into his second hand shop are glowing red and he's hearing voices from the sewer grates.  Then people start dropping dead when his daughter says "kitty" and she has two large hellhounds as her constant companions and he's been charged with collecting souls (the glowing objects) to help them move on.  Then the sewer harpies start coming out and souls aren't being collected properly and everything seems to moving towards a big time confrontation, good vs. evil, kind of thing.  Charlie is the last person anyone should be hoping to have as their savior but if he's the one who has been chosen, he will do his best!

Having not read a Christopher Moore book before but hearing that they were  not to be taken at all seriously I figured I'd give it a go.  Having dealt with my share of death lately I wasn't too sure I wanted to be reading a book about death but was hoping a more humorous take on it might actually be just what I needed.  I found it to be just that.  There was reverence for the dead and dying but the rest of the story was fun and light and easy to laugh at.  And hey, squirrel people!

Page count: 387p/31,779p ytd/176,179p lifetime

Thursday, November 7, 2013

115:120 After Dead by Charlaine Harris

Billed as "What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse" and supposed to fill in what happened next to everyone.

It falls woefully flat.  As in, this is a one-star, avoid at all costs book.  I have read all the books and most of the short stories and didn't recognize even half the names in the book.  The majority is bit, throw away players that you didn't care about when they were in the main book and care even less about now and there is zero cross-referencing so you can't even try to figure out which book they were in to try and remember why you should know them.  The blurbs are generally short and the few characters other than Bill, Eric, and Sookie that you might want to know more about generally just state "They had plenty of other adventures".  Sorry Charlaine but if that's your way of trying to get me excited for more books set in this universe with your characters, you are sadly mistaken.  I'm done and unlikely to buy another book of her's.  I've been disappointed with the last several books in this series and this was just a blatant money grab.

Page count: 195p/31,392p ytd/175,792p lifetime

114:120 Darkness Splintered by Keri Arthur

The 6th book in the Dark Angels series.  Risa has done her best to go on a bender after banishing Azriel and when she finally emerges, everyone is searching for her with the 2nd key in the hands of the dark sorcerer but not yet having opened the second gate to hell and they are all willing to hurt and kill her friends to provide "motivation".  Can Risa find the sorcerer in time with Azriel?  What will happen to her friends if she can't?  And what will she do about Director Hunter when push finally comes to shove?

Apparently the next book will be the last one which explains why after 5 books and fairly little movement there is now a ton of energy and things happening to push Risa forward at this point.  I really wish the series had been a bit more like this the whole way through as it felt like the earlier books were just "oh yeah, gotta go find those things eventually but only after I have sex a few more times".   Now there is just one more key to find and I'm anxious to see what happens next!

Page count: 394p/31,197p ytd/175,597p lifetime

113:120 Over My Dead Potty by Amy Sprenger

A short novella from the author of Baby Bumps on her joys of potty training her three kiddos and how she found that what works with one will then work with none of the rest.  Having gone through it four times myself, I was able to find a lot of humor in it although there was the part that wished mine a few of mine had been anywhere near as easy as hers were.  A fun read for anyone in the midst of training, done with training, or looking forward to the time when they will there.

Page count: 53p/30,803p ytd/175,203p lifetime

112:120 1984 by George Orwell

This is the third time I've read this book.  Here's my review from the last time back in 2010:

Um, wow...Talk about a riveting but terrifying book.  I can see how he got his ideas and have to admit that there have been times in the recent past when things felt eerily close to trying to go down that road but unlike that book, I'm hopeful that the human race won't allow things to ever get to that point where it could continue in that type of oligarchy.  Please God!

Unfortunately with all the stuff coming out about the NSA and the continuing eroding of our rights, this novel is looking more and more like a possible future if people don't start waking up and demanding change.  My 15yr old just finished this book and wrote a scarily accurate comparison between the ministries of 1984 and various organizations in our government today when you start actually digging.  I'm not an alarmist nor a conspiracy theorist but I am scared for the future of my right's and my children's rights as we move forward.  Fear is not the way I want to live.

Page count: 328p/30,750p ytd/175,150p lifetime

Monday, October 28, 2013

111:120 The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

Read for book club.  Jean Le Flambeur is a thief of outstanding reputation but no one seems to know where he comes from, not even himself.  He has been in a prison so long and now that he's been broken out, he is on a journey to rediscover who he was and what he knows.  The big problem is that there are a lot of other people who want that information as well.  His journey takes him to the moving city of Mars, the Oubliette, where time really is money and memories are treasures.  Can he find what he is looking for before those in power put a stop to him?

Ok, first off, the man who wrote this is obviously a genius.  The world is elaborate and I had a hard time at first getting into it.  This was not a book to be read 15min here and there which is all I could manage and with personal stuff definitely messing up my brain, I know there is a lot of details and nuances that I missed as it was just not the right thing for me to be reading right now.  I will likely try reading it again at some point in the future when I can give it the proper attention it deserves.  It was intriguing but there was just too much going on for me to handle right now.

Page count: 337p/30,422p ytd/174,822 lifetime

Thursday, October 24, 2013

110:120 The Early Human World by Peter Robertshaw and Jill Rubalcaba

Middle-School Ancient History by Oxford Press, part of "The World In Ancient Times" series.  This is my second time reading it.  This was my previous review:

This is the first in the series of The World in Ancient Times that we are using for Matthew's Ancient History class this year and was recommended by one of his friends who is 2yrs older. I really like the format of the books. They are told in a definite story form rather than a dry "here are the facts" that so many history books do. They keep it light, interesting, and entertaining while getting the information across. They pack lots of fun little facts in which help to keep it interesting as well. I definitely learned a lot and enjoyed it and even better, so did Matthew. I think that right there is the best compliment is when the 6th grader is happy to do history when it's not normally one of his favorite subjects.

Well, now I'm using it for Jonathan who is in 7th grade (we did US History for 5th & 6th since that was better for him rather than breaking it up).  He's enjoying it as much as he can any history which is about as far from his favorite subject as you can get.  I'm enjoying reading it again as there is a lot that I have forgotten since so much of it is just not something that I have to deal with in my day-to-day life.  Maybe by the time the last one reads it in a few years, I'll actually be able to retain more of it.  In the meantime, forgetting large chunks means it's a fun read when it's that time again. *big grin*

Page count: 161p/30,085p ytd/174,485p lifetime

109:120 Indexing by Seanan McGuire

A Kindle Serial where a new installment was sent out every two weeks.  It just wrapped up on October 24 and will be in paperback early next year if you don't have a kindle.

Fairy tales are real and all around us, happening all the time.  Many of them are fairly benign but then there are those that have catastrophic repercussions like the Snow Whites, Pied Pipers, Sleeping Beauties, etc. For those tales, there is the ATI Management Bureau.  They work tirelessly to find and thwart those tales or at least limit the damage they can do.  But what happens when the tales start getting manipulated and don't follow the established patterns?  How is a team that consists of an activated Pied Piper, a suspended Snow White, a manifested Shoemaker, a suspended Wicked Step-Sister, and a normal human supposed to shut things down?

I was skeptical about the whole serial thing but I love this author so decided to give it a chance.  Most of the time it was not left with a cliff-hanger at the end where you wanted to strangle someone for two weeks but I always wanted to know what was going to happen next.  This last episode had me checking my kindle every hour to see if it had updated yet so I could finally see how things turned out.  I found it an interesting concept, nicely done and tied together.  I really hope that Ms. McGuire finds a way to continue playing in this world.

Page count: 374p/29,924p ytd/174,324 lifetime

Sunday, October 20, 2013

108:120 Tempt the Stars by Karen Chance

The 6th book in the Cassie Palmer series.  Pritkin saved Cassie at the end of the last book but at the cost of his own freedom.  He is now back in the demon realms as his father's prisoner and Cassie is determined to get him back.  How?  She is still trying to figure that way out but she is thinking talking to her mom, Artemis (yes the Goddess), is probably a good place to start.  Harder than you think considering she's been dead for a while and wasn't easy to approach when she was living even though Cassie can go back in time.  Even if she gets information from her mom, it will still mean breaking into the demon realms and getting Pritkin out of there in one piece.  Then, of course, there is still her regular life as Pythia to deal with with.  The witches are barging in demanding meetings and what about the Pythia Court that she has yet to even set foot in since becoming Pythia?  Yeah, her hands are just a little full.

Ok, first off, I'm not a huge Mircea fan so I'm putting that out there. It's not that I dislike him or I think he and Cassie are a bad match but he's a typical vampire which means he's hot, secretive, and manipulative.  Not such a huge fan of the later two and it seems that frequently when Cassie is in need of support, he is nowhere to be found.  Pritkin has been there, even if his support is not what we would normally think of as being "supportive" but he has kept her alive (after he stopped trying to kill her) and been a staunch ally and we keep finding out more about him so he is intriguing as a more fully fleshed out character.  That being said tho, I do not like that this uber-important person, Cassie, is risking everything to go find him and bring him back but okay, friendship and loyalty and all that.  Got it.  It was an interesting journey and we got more backstory on Artemis and the other gods and their relationships with humans and demons so there was a lot of stuff being fleshed out which I like and is setting things up for the future.  In all, I found it fast paced but with a little less of the standard humor.  I still wish Cassie would start figuring things out at least at the same time I do instead of many pages later.  She really needs to be a little smarter in my opinion.

Page count: 418p/29,550p ytd/173,950p lifetime

Sunday, October 13, 2013

107:120 An Apple for the Creature edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni Kelner

A compilation of short stories with school/education themes including stories by Ilona Andrews, Faith Hunter, and Charlaine Harris.  I always find it hard to do reviews of these because by the time I've finished it, I'm less clear on the earlier stories but here are my thoughts:

I enjoyed the Sookie story by Charlaine Harris.  It was about her visiting her nephew Hunter at his school when all heck breaks loose.  Nice to have something happen that doesn't involve shifters or vampires or other supernaturals.

Spellcaster 2.0 by Jonathan Mayberry was an interesting take on what can happen when you mix technology and magic.  I'd read one of his zombie novels previously and had been less than impressed but this one was fun.

Academy Field Trip by Donald Harstad didn't really stand out to me.  Interesting premise but lacked a punch.

Sympathy for the Bones by Marjorie M. Liu went more for the voodoo teacher/student relationship and was ok.

Low School by Rhys Bowen was written by someone truly evil with a sick mind.  Fabulous!

Callie meets Happy by Amber Benson left me feeling like it was set in a world that I had no understanding of or the characters in it and didn't make me want to find out more.

Iphigenia in Aulis by Mike Carey was very well written with an interesting premise.

Golden Delicious by Faith Hunter was one of the reasons I bought this book and it was fabulous.  I'd been wanting to know more about what had happened with Rick when he went off to his training and what the relationship was between him and Soul and it was nice to get some answers.

Magic Tests by Ilona Andrews was the other reason I bought this book and it did not disappoint.  Love Julie!

An Introduction to Jewish Myth and Mysticism by Steve Hockensmith teaches you not to mess with the meek and mild Jew.

VSI by Nancy Holder makes the study of vampires just that much more relevant.

The Bad Hour by Thomas E. Sniegoski was ok but again I think it was set in an established world and I felt like I was missing a bit.  Not sure that I want to look into it further.

Pirate Dave and the Captain's Ghost by Toni L.P. Kelner seemed like it was a backstory fill in for a series but was a bit campier in style than I usually go for.

In all, I enjoyed most of the stories and the compilation as a whole.

Page count: 336p/29,132p ytd/173,532p lifetime


Saturday, October 12, 2013

106:120 The Sand-Reckoner by Gillian Bradshaw

Historical fiction for kid's bookclub.  A snapshot of the life of Archimedes from the time he leaves Alexandria to come home because of his father's failing health and the threat of war between his home, Syracuse, and Rome.  It breaks his heart to leave Alexandria and his pursuit of pure mathematics but he does his duty.  When he returns home, it is to find that his father is dying and he will soon be head of the house and must find a way of supporting himself, his mother, and his sister.  He knows that he can be an engineer and build bigger catapults than Syracuse has ever had if given the opportunity so he wrangles himself an interview with the king's advisor and presents the deal that he will build a one-talenter catapult and only be paid when he delivers a working machine and should the machine not work, he will pay for the supplies to have built it.  The Advisor takes the deal but while Archimedes is there, he ends up meeting the King's sister, Delia.  When the King returns from the war and sees what Archimedes has done, he knows that he must find a way to keep him in Syracuse.  

This story goes into the hows and whys of their relationship and Archimedes relationship with Marcus (his slave), Delia, and his homeland.  I found it an engaging tale, well told, and a more fun way of learning some history.

Page count: 584p/28,796p ytd/173,196p lifetime

105:120 Autumn Whispers by Yasmine Galenorn

Book 14 in the Sisters of the Otherworld series by Yasmine Galenorn, told by Delilah.  Grandmother Coyote has come to the girls after finding that the balance of things is off and it's due to daemon energy coming out of a building in Seattle.  She has charged the girls, and especially Delilah, to deal with it.  The Wayfarer gets torched and an army is marching on the Elven homeland in Otherworld to try and claim the Spirit Seals the girls have given the Queen to protect.  The good news is that Iris has given birth to the twins and Sharah's pregnancy is going well but how in the world are they going to deal with all the new crap that is being thrown at them???

There is so much going on in this one but it's well balanced in that nothing gets forgotten for too long even if they aren't actively dealing with it.  There is birth and death, wins and losses.  It's life and while they are trying to deal with the main baddie, there is stuff springing up all over that doesn't necessarily have to do with him (cause that's the way life usually goes) but the main plot continues to move, well, at least sideways.  I absolutely love this books and it kills me that I read them so fast when the new one comes out because I've been missing the world but then I have to wait for months for the next one.  It's torture but they are so incredible it's not like I could ever consider doing anything different.

Page count: 322p/28,212p ytd/172,612p lifetime

Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 4th Quarter 2013

My usual disclaimer:
Let me state, this is really based on authors or series that I'm already reading since those are the things I follow.  I'm not paid to write this blog nor do I have any affiliations with any publishers so I don't receive free books or advance notice of things except what I glean off Facebook from people who do have those contacts or what I research on my own (which again, leads back to authors that I'm already reading).  Maybe someday I'll be one of those who has the contacts and gets ARCs but it's not today.

Lots of books last quarter which was nice although I'm still waiting to get my copy of the latest Yasmine Galenorn (Autumn Whispers) but I've finally gotten the call that it's waiting for me at the bookstore so I'll be a happy camper tomorrow.  This next quarter has some interesting new things in it so now again I'm just stuck in a position of finding the time to read them all.  Last quarter had 7 books and I've only read four of them so far (although in all fairness I'm waiting to acquire one that just barely came out, one is in a series I haven't started yet but am trying to find time to, and the last is in a series that I'm still a book behind in  *sigh*)

This quarter kicks it off right off the bat with the newest Cassie Palmer, Tempt the Stars, by Karen Chance.  Cassie is trying to get used to her new-found powers and being a half-goddess which knowing Cassie is probably not going so well.  

Release date: October 2

End of the month sees a new duology by Mira Grant debuting in Parasite!  After loving her Newsflesh trilogy and novellas, I'm really looking forward to this.  Set in the near future and a new type of tapeworm has been invented that protects humans from a whole host of diseases.  Now they are everywhere but are starting to want a life of their own...

Release date: October 29

On the same day, Charlaine Harris is giving us a last look at the Sookie universe with After Dead, an A-Z look at the characters that many came to love from Bon Temps and how they are faring now that the series has ended.  I admit to not being happy with the last couple of installments of the series but I'm hoping to get a better resolution with this one than I did from the last book.

Release date: October 29

Darkness Splintered is the newest in the Dark Angels series by Keri Arthur.  I go back and forth on this series as it sometimes seems gets too sidetracked and makes no movement on the main plot which is supposed to be so super important and with time pressure.  Apparently the time pressure is playing a big part in this one as Risa must find those keys but the Vampire Council is also heating up the pressure and if she can't appease them, her search may be over...permanently.

Release date: November 5

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger is one where I'm behind in the series but I really want to find the time to read.  The second in the Finishing School series which follows Sophronia as she learns all about becoming both a lady and a spy at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing School.  Set in the same steampunk world as the Parasol Protectorate, it should be great fun!

Release date: November 5 

The year ends with the prequel to the Elemental Assassin series, The Spider, by Jennifer Estep.  We finally get the fully story of Gin's training under Fletcher and how she went from being an orphan on the streets to the most feared assassin around.  Really looking forward to this one!

Release date: December 24

And that's it for the year.  A pretty quiet end to the year which might be good.  I have no hopes at this point for ending the year with less books on my to-read list than I started with but maybe I can keep it from growing too far over...

Nah, who am I kidding.  My kids like to tease me about how many books I have but I keep telling them I can't have enough.  If there keep being awesome books like these and others that were released this year than obviously the problem is my lack of time for reading, not the number of books to be read.  I must read ALL the books!!!!  (or at least the ones on my bookshelves! LOL)

104:120 History of US Vol. 10: All the People by Joy Hakim

Middle School US History covering 1945-2009.  I learned a lot from this one.  I've heard about the Vietnam War and Korean War but never had any inkling as to what they were really about.  It's nice to at least have a basic understanding of them now and to have a better grasp on who the presidents were between Roosevelt and Kennedy and then Carter who is the first president I remember.  It was even more interesting reading her take on the times of my childhood and now my adulthood.  I thought that while fairly simplistic, she did a decent job of trying to present a rounded perspective.  It's definitely been opening some dialog in my house and that is never a bad thing.

Page count: 281p/27,890p ytd/172,290p lifetime

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

103:120 Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

The 7th book in the October Daye series.  Goblin Fruit is getting out on the streets and changlings are dying as a result of it.  It's highly addictive to humans while just a nice buzz for full-blooded fae but that means for changlings, the more human they are the faster it kills them as they want for nothing else but the extreme high it provides and can no longer eat real food.  Toby hates the stuff and once she has it confirmed that over a dozen changlings have died, she takes the information to the Queen of the Mists only to find out the Queen already knows all about it and could care less if changlings are dying.  Toby's coming to her just gives her an excuse to banish Toby from her Kingdom.  Now Toby has three days to sort every thing out and try to reverse her banishment but since this is Toby, you know nothing could be that easy.

This book had a ton of "OMG You did NOT just do that!!!" times in it for me.  I knew deep down that some of the things that happened could not be allowed to stand for long (although it wouldn't have surprised me if they had for a couple of books but not forever).  It kept me completely enthralled and on the edge of my seat the whole time.  I will say, the romance between Toby and Tybalt is beyond adorable and I'm thrilled that the two of them are together.

There is also a short story that is not to be missed as it is definitely foreshadowing some big  bad stuff coming Toby's way.  Poor Toby may never get to settle down and enjoy a quiet life.

Page count: 357p/27,609p ytd/172,009p lifetime

Saturday, September 21, 2013

102:120 Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn

The 12th installment in the Kitty Norville series.  Ben is out of state for a case when the call comes in that a strange scent has been discovered in Kitty's territory.  Like any good alpha, she goes to check it out and ends up captured and dumped into an abandoned silver mine by an odd assortment of supernatural beings (vampire, werelion, werewolf, and witch).  They want to destroy Roman and believe they have discovered a spell that will let them do it but need Kitty to fill the role of Regina Luporum.  But Kitty must do more than just fill it, she must believe it and in them for this to work...or so they say.  Are they for real or just another bunch of crack-pots?

Ok, my big complaint with this book is this is at least the fourth time in twelve books that Kitty has been captured (I think the count is actually higher than that).  Can we please get a new plot device?  Why can't she possibly wise up to this crap and take more back-up with her?

Now that I've gotten that gripe out of the way, this was a good book (other than the whole kidnapping thing).  We discovered more about Roman and the Long Game and while it was mostly background information, I'm hopeful that it will tie in some place down the road in Roman's defeat.  The mythos that was woven in was well done and a very nice and welcome addition.  I felt Kitty's reaction to what was happening was believable and in keeping with her character (even if amazingly stupid).  In all, I enjoyed the book and am now bummed that we have to wait however long for the next one.  *sigh*  This is the problem with getting into series that are still being written.  LOL

Page count: 305p/27,252p ytd/171,652p lifetime

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

101:120 Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep

The 9th book in the Elemental Assassin series.  Gin is finally taking Jo-Jo up on her offer of a spa day at Jo-Jo's salon, along with her baby sister, Bria, and friend Roselyn.  It's a nice break for an assassin but Gin's life is never that relaxing for long.  As soon as her nails are done, Jo-Jo's sister and Gin's friend, Sophia, barges in suffering from gunshot wounds and telling them to run.  The warning comes too late tho as Grimes, the man who had captured and tortured Sophia years ago, has come back for Sophia now that he has found out Fletcher, Gin's mentor and the assassin known as TinMan, is dead.  Grimes is now a a gun dealer and a truly nasty piece of work in all sorts of ways.  He and his sister are also deadly fire elementals and delight in torturing people using their power.  Now he has Sophia and Jo-Jo is on the brink of death from being shot as well and Gin will not let anyone abuse her family in that manner.  Grimes has just made the biggest mistake of his life...

I enjoyed this one as a nice quick read and a nice diversion from all the school stuff and it did that job admirably.  It wasn't nearly as repetitious as previous ones (although the constant internal monologing does get a bit tiresome at times).  I was glad to see Owen back and Gin getting some help and back-up instead of being a one-woman army taking out tons of people by herself but again, the story takes place over just a few days which doesn't allow for much character or over-arching story line development.  I'd like to see a bit more of that with books taking place over a maybe a month or two instead of the recent trend towards we just see Gin right as a big bad thing happens and then it takes 1-2 days for her to kill everyone and story is over.  The next one is supposed to be her background story so I'm hopeful.

Page count: 354p/26,947p ytd/171,347p lifetime

100:120 Ninja Meerkats: Clan of the Scorpion by Gareth P. Jones

A special tiger has been stolen from the Hong Kong Zoo, one who knows the Roar of Victory, and the Ninja Meerkats are pretty sure that their arch nemisis, The Ringmaster, is behind her disappearance.  Can they get to Hong Kong and free her in time or will The Ringmaster finally have the world at his feet?

Yep, another book my 7yr old insisted I read because he loved it. It was kinda cute and good for the 6-9yr old set.  I'm going to try desperately to get out of reading the rest of the series tho.  Just not engaging for me.

Page count: 105p/26,593p ytd/170,993p lifetime

99:120 A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Read for 10th grade English which means I get to read it a total of four times.  Here is my review from September 2009:

A story of growing up in a boys school during WWII, we follow Gene and his struggles with his friendship with Finny.  We find in Finny, an intense character who seems to have little insight but is long on charisma and energy.  His perceptions of the world are shallow but at the end we see that it was only by making things fit in his perception that kept him from fearing the unknown.  Gene finds it impossible to have his own will when in the presence of Finny and much of the story is Gene's figuring out how to deal with his relationship with Finny, trying to categorize it and create reasons for Finny's behavior that are mostly only in his own head.  When at last he breaks free of Finny, albeit unconsciously, it is with dramatic consequences.

I liked the pace of the book in that it was neither too slow to be plodding nor too quick so that it lost it's believability.  An easy read on the surface with a lot of deeper undertones.

Page count: 204p/26,488p ytd/170,888p lifetime

98:120 The Haunting of Derek Stone: City of the Dead by Tony Abbott

The first in another series by Tony Abbott (which is my 7yr old's favorite author).  Derek Stone was on a train ride home with his father and brother when the bridge broke and their train car plummeted into a ravine.  Derek survived but there has been no sign of his father and brother and they are presumed dead.  Derek had some head trauma and is now hearing things in his left ear, the one that has been damaged most of his life.  It sounds like whispering or voices but there is never anyone there.  Weeks pass and then Derek's brother is found in an abandoned house near the ravine but after the first rush of happiness over having his brother back passes, Derek realizes that something is wrong with Ronny.  As he is trying to figure out what is going on with his brother, he starts noticing that there are other people that were missing after the train wreck around here and they are all acting strangely and seem to be way too interested in him...

It's a pretty dark and spooky book, completely unlike Mr. Abbott's other series (Goofballs, Secrets of Droon, and Underworld) but he keeps it just light enough that there were no nightmares following my little guy's reading of it.  In fact, we had to track down the 2nd book in the series which is apparently now out of print although it's only a few years old and he can't wait to read it.  Tony Abbott, I don't know if you'll ever read this (or any of my reviews on your books) but thank you for creating books that my little one loves to read and can't put down.  He continually states that you are his favorite author and he devours anything by you he can get his hands on.

Page count: 134p/26,284p ytd/170,684p lifetime

97:120 A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

The third book in the Song of Fire and Ice series.  Joffrey Baratheon still sits on the Iron Throne, Robb Stark is now King of the North and battling the Lannisters and those that are backing Joffrey.  Renly Baratheon is dead but Stannis Baratheon is in the favor of the priestess of the Lord of Light and while he lost the major offensive he is still alive to keep fighting for the throne that he feels is rightfully his.  Daenerys is still far distant but continues in her quest to round up support for her claim as the last Targaryn and the Mistress of Dragons.  While all of these people plot and war and deceive, there is another enemy coming down from the North with the winter and the wildlings will remind all those in the South why the Great Wall was built.

There is so much going on in this book.  There are many different threads all being woven together and then apart and then brought together again in ways you hadn't imagined.  It's a rich and complex world and I give props to GRRM for keeping it all straight and managing it in such a way that I'm able to keep it straight as well (for the most part LOL).  I do have to say that I now completely hate Arya Stark and several other characters because I'm convinced that GRRM only writes likable characters in order for their deaths to hit you harder while the vile characters seem to go on forever and ever and if they do die, their death is in no way a worth punishment for the horrid things we've had to read about.  If you've watched the show I can only say that yes the Red Wedding was horrible but this man obviously has issues with weddings in general.  Any more would be a serious spoiler.

At this point, I'm now ahead of the show and am taking a brief break from the series to catch up on a few other series that have had books come out recently as well as some school reading.  I do hope to finish the series by the end of the year tho as it really is fascinating but then again, I love good political intrigue and this has that in spades in a fantasy setting.  Now if only someone I like could survive GRRM....

Page count: 924p/26,150p ytd/170,550p lifetime

Saturday, September 14, 2013

96:120 Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson

Miss Barbara Buncle lived a little life in the little village of Silverstream.  It was a perfectly pleasant village, everything you would imagine in a small English country village until Miss Buncle wrote a book.  It was a small thing that she was really hoping to sell for a modest amount, if at all possible, because she needed some money.  Admitting to having no imagination, she observed all the people of her town and created a fictional town peopled with them under different names.  After a bit, the story turned and the imagination she proposed not to have came into play in the form of the "golden boy".  But what happens when the things the people in her book do start being done by the people in her sleepy little village?   And all of Silverstream is in an uproar about the book having figured out they are the ones that are being told about, and now it's a bestseller, so what will they do when they figure out who "John Smith" is?

A book club read.  I found it to be a fairly relaxed, light read that made me shake my head at some of the seemingly absurd situations that come about.  

Page count: 304p/25,226p ytd/169,626p lifetime

95:120 Doctor Who: The Many Hands by Dale Smith

With the 10th Doctor as played by David Tennant and Marth Smith as played by Freema Agyeman.

It's Edinburgh, 1759, and there is a dead man climbing aboard the carriage of Benjamin Franklin.  The dead start walking up out of the Loch and the preacher 12 years dead is trying to return to his flock and is bringing most of the cemetery with him.  What they have in common is a strange hand attached to their chest but how is that causing the dead to walk again?

This one was slow and while I found the Doctor to be written fairly true, I thought Martha came off as much weaker with little personality and overall the story just wasn't very gripping.

Page count: 244p/24,922p ytd/169,322p lifetime

Saturday, August 31, 2013

94:120 History of US Vol. 9: War, Peace, and all that Jazz by Joy Hakim

Middle-School History covering 1918-1945.  Model T's, wood-frame airplanes, radios, Prohibition, jazz, the Roaring Twenties, Babe Ruth, flappers, the Depression, and two World Wars...all in a thirty-year span.  That pretty much gives a good summary of what you find in this book.  I've noticed that now that things are getting closer to modern times, the jumping around is much less and the author makes it a point to detail a lot more than what I remember learning about from my history classes, middle and high school.  I knew there had been a WWI but had no idea who it concerned or how it ended much less that it had paved the way for WWII.  I had a basic knowledge of Jazz and it's roots but not the bigger picture that was shown in this book.  I knew about the Depression and Black Friday but not the events that had led up to it.  That to me is what is truly important about history, not just knowing about the big events but how those came about and what they caused.

Page count: 201p/24,678p ytd/169,078p lifetime

93:120 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

HeLa cells are known in scientific circles around the world but the story behind them was a mystery for years until one student started asking and uncovered the story behind the cells, the story of Henrietta Lacks.  Henrietta Lacks was a poor Southern black tobacco farmer who would have undoubtedly gone unnoticed in history if not for her cervical cancer and the doctor who chose to take tissue samples to send to a cellular scientist.  What came about from that simple little procedure was scientific gold and the start of one family's nightmare as they searched for the truth.

I had mixed emotions on this one.  I found the story of the Lacks's fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time but the way the author jumped about quite a bit, especially in the beginning, definitely made it harder for me to get emotionally invested early on.  By the end, the jumping had settled down and the human interest part of it had picked up while still having enough scientific tidbits to show the relevance to every day life.  The biggest thing, from my pov, was how many questions this has brought up and how many of them are still unresolved when it comes to how these types of things are handled even now.  Definitely something we should all be pondering.

Page count: 386p/24,477p ytd/168,877p lifetime

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

92:120 Redshirts by John Scalzi

The UUC Intrepid is getting another batch of ensigns added to its crew which is a good thing as they seem to be running low again.  Away missions are dangerous things as Ensign Dahl soon comes to realize and missions with senior officers even more so.  Not for the officers mind you, unless you are named Kerensky, but for any lowly ensign who might happen to be with them as they seem to die off at an alarming rate and in some of the most incredibly ludicrous ways.  Then there is the matter of The Box which looks like a microwave but can solve the most complex problems in just under the time allotted.  Just what is going on around this ship?

It's a tale that starts off as a jab at Star Trek's redshirt syndrome and then takes that in strange new directions.  I've never read Scalzi before but he's a favorite of my husband and amongst several of my friends so this seemed like a good one to cut my teeth on.   There were some strange writing ticks that bothered me a bit (the stating who said something every single line is a good one) but on the whole I found it amusing enough and will probably raid my husband's bookshelf at some point to read some of his other works.

Page count: 317p/24,091p ytd/168,491p lifetime

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

91:120 History of US Vol. 8: An Age of Extremes by Joy Hakim

Middle-School History covering 1880-1917.   This book focused first on the power houses of their day: Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan.  It also talked about the inventions and innovations of the Gilded Age but also focused a lot on the extremes between the rich and poor and the politics behind it like the city bosses but also how the progressives came into being trying to deal with the injustices they saw all around and the reforms that came about such as the child labor laws, juvenile courts, the 40hr work week, and unions.  The book leaves off at the start of WWI during Woodrow Wilson's presidency.

I liked this one probably the best of all so far.  Things seemed to flow better from one chapter to the next and I didn't feel like we were bopping around all over the place completely out of order.

Page count: 197p/23,774p ytd/168,174p lifetime

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

90:120 My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

Angel is white trash in every sense of the word.  She lives in a run down, filthy trailer with her alcoholic father, her mother is dead and wasn't any better than her dad when she was alive, she dropped out of high school and hasn't been able to hold down a job, she pops pills and drinks a ton, and her boyfriend is for crap.  The one day she wakes up in the hospital after being found naked on the side of the road.  She has no idea what happened as her last recollections are being at a bar with her boyfriend and talking to another guy.  When she is discharged she finds a mysterious package with her clothes and some bottles of coffee looking sludge and a note that says she should drink one every other day and oh, she starts her job working for the coroner as a van driver the next day and she should not be late and she must keep this job for at least 30 days or else.  She figures it's some sort of work rehab program but it's better than jail but then she starts noticing that brains are smelling awfully good...

A friend got this for my oldest who is zombie obsessed but even he raised an eyebrow at it and wasn't sure he would read it when we ran across it on a list of Top 10 Zombie Books.  There were others on that list that he had loved so he figured he'd give it a try and he enjoyed it and then told me I had to read it too.  I'm not much for the zombie genre myself but there have been the occasional one that I've enjoyed and this one looked better than a lot of the ones I've read at his insistence so I agreed.  I found it poignant in some ways and laugh out loud funny in others.  Angel is who she is and I loved seeing her grow and figure her way through things, including how to manage her own life.  It doesn't try to be anything than what it bills itself as and that is a fun bubblegum read and it succeeds marvelously at being that.

Page count: 310p/23,577p ytd/167,977p lifetime

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

89:120 Darkness Unmasked by Keri Arthur

The 5th book in the Dark Angels series.  Risa is being torn in so many directions and it is definitely wearing on her.  She has her father demanding that she find the keys to the gates of the otherworld to keep them from falling into the wrong hands and there are many others who want her to find them so they can steal them and open those very gates, Director Hunter has just found her lover murdered likely by an otherworld entity and is demanding that Risa find out who and turn them over to Hunter so she can have her vengeance,  and there is the guilt of Tao who is losing his battle to the fire elemental that he consumed to save her and her desire to find a way to heal him.  There are days when she wonders if the world wouldn't be better off without her.

I go back and forth on this series.  The main plot seems to have seriously stalled out with new things just being thrown in for Risa to go deal with instead of the "all important quest to find the keys".  Oh and sex, lots of sex, mostly inappropriately timed.  Well, the inappropriately timed sex is still there but at least there are not pages and pages of it being written so I guess that is something but the yet another side quest does make for a tedious and plodding first 3/4 of the book.  Then out of left-field all h*** breaks loose and the original plot line is back and moving forward at warp speed!  I hit the 100p left mark and couldn't put the book down because I had to see where things were going and I was not disappointed.  Lots of twists and turns I hadn't seen coming and now I'm excited for the next book again.  I only hope that we can get rid of the side quests and focus on the main one and move the true plot along again.

Page count: 392p/23,267p/167,667p

Thursday, August 1, 2013

88:120 Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

Lud-in-the-Mist is a sleep little town nestled between two rivers and between the sea and the hills that lead to Fairyland.  Not much happens there and that's just the way the residents like it.  Master Nathaniel Chanticleer has been there the whole 50yrs of his life as part of a very respectable and long established family and foresees ending his days there and having his son, Ranulph, take over the family home when he dies.  But then Ranulph starts acting funny and the rumor is that he has partaken of the forbidden fairy fruit.  He is sent away for his health but then many of the young girls are similarly afflicted and by the same thing and run off across the hills into the forbidden Fairyland.  Throw in a bit of a murder mystery and you have this story in a nutshell.

I wanted to like this so much more than I did.  Beautifully descriptive language in a rich world but I found it slow and tedious and the characters predictable with very little growth or true development about them.  It was a quaint little tale but I felt like something was missing and the ending was rushed although that may have been because I predicted it at the outset.

Page count: 256p/22,875p ytd/167,275p lifetime

87:120 Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

The 6th book in the Kate Daniels series.  The Pack's children are having problems controlling their beasts during puberty and are not surviving.  There is a medicine in Europe that can help but making it is a closely guarded secret and there is not much to be had in Atlanta.  There is a chance for Kate and Curran to get more but it is certainly a trap as three European packs have asked Curran to come and help mediate a dispute and keep safe the daughter that is pregnant with twins but whose babies have different fathers.  What kind of trap it will be isn't clear and when it finally becomes clear, it will shake their world down to the core.

Seems like we waited forever for this one and it's not fair that it's so impossible to put down that I'm done in two days.  There was so much going on and so many points where I was like "OMG, that did NOT just happen!".  At a few points I was ready to throttle the authors as well because some of that was just not ok.  There are some parts that are just hard to swallow in this one although I'm glad they have the ending they did or I may have thrown the book and refused to ever pick up another one.  As it is, I'm even more completely committed to this series and will be waiting impatiently for the next one.

Page count: 357p/22,619p ytd/167,019p lifetime

86:120 A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

The 2nd book in the Song of Fire and Ice series (otherwise known as the Game of Thrones thanks to the TV show).  Jofferey is on the Iron Throne but Robb Stark has declared himself King of the North, Balon Greyjoy father has declared himself the King of the Iron Islands, and both Renly and Stannis Baratheon are declaring themselves the true heirs to the Iron Throne on the grounds that they are Robert's brothers and Jofferey is actually the son of Jamie Lannister and not Robert.  Sansa Stark is still in the clutches of the Lannisters at King's Landing and Arya is in hiding.  Tyrion tho, steals the show in this book with all his scheming and plotting in such a masterful way.  It's hard not to admire him (and after watching season 1 I would go so far as to say it's impossible).    Catelyn Stark continues to be the most tragic figure through all of this but manages to maintain her dignity and do what she feels must be done.  With all these factions fighting to gain control or at least get out from under control of someone, it makes for a very chaotic time in the land of Westeros.  I really wanted to see more of Daenerys and what was going on with her and the dragons but she definitely seemed to be a bit more of a side story in this one.  With all that GRRM was trying to pack into this I know it's impossible to give everyone equal attention.

Ok, I like crazy stories that are all over the place like this with all the different threads going through them so long as the continuity is good and threads don't get dropped.  So far GRRM seems to be holding it together well but there were definitely a few times when I wanted to throw the book across the room and I'm glad I held off a little bit as usually things became more clear later on and I was able to get back under control again.  I have to say that I get why the "good" characters have to die so quickly but oh man, all I have to say about that is that some of these horrid ones better get theirs in some spectacular ways.

Page count: 728p/22,262p ytd/166,662p lifetime

Friday, July 26, 2013

85:120 Kiss of Venom by Jennifer Estep

A novella set in the Elemental Assassin world, told from Owen's POV and taking place between Deadly Sting and Heart of Venom.  Owen is out with Phillip trying to reconnect after years of fueding caused by Salina's lies.  While they are out, Owen stumbles across a pair of thugs gunning for Gin and he's determined to take them out quietly and give her a night's peace which is a rare gift for her indeed.  Can he and Phillip actually pull that off is the question.

It was nice to get a look inside Owen's head and this does make it seem like there is a future for him and Gin but OMG with the repetitive writing!!!!  This had as much repetitious drivel as her full-length novels while being 1/4 the length.  I generally like Owen's character but just wanted to slap the crap out of him with every other page being "Oh pity me, I screwed up my life so bad by listening to Salina and being her little boy toy and now all these people are dead, Eva got hurt, I didn't trust Phillip, and my relationship with Gin is in the trash".   I get that it will leave emotional scars.  I got that.  However, one of the amazing things about writing is that you don't have to sound like a broken freaking record hammering this crap into our faces.  Once or twice to make sure we get that's important to the character and then drop it!!!  What's worse is that Ms. Estep's editor continues to let this crap slide!  I like the world which is interesting and I do like Gin and Owen and the other characters but the constant repeating of the backstory in every single book drives me nuts.

Page count: 73p/21,534p ytd/165,934p lifetime

Thursday, July 25, 2013

84:120 How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea by Mira Grant

A novella set in the Newsflesh world some time after the events of Blackout.  Mahir has decided that it's time to meet his Australian team in the flesh and check out the "rabbit fence" that is now holding back the zombified wildlife of the Outback.  Kangaroos, even ones that have amplified, are protected and may not just be shot on sight which is definitely a hard thing for Mahir to grasp.  Well, that and the less frequent blood tests, front yards, and the general air of actual freedom that the Aussies seem to enjoy.  Having been raised in London this is definitely a new and disturbing thing for him.  But when he gets to the fence, he finds that there are more things to be disturbed about than their seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards spontaneous amplification.

First, do not read this if you have not read the Newsflesh trilogy already (Fee, Deadline, Blackout).  There are massive spoilers for those books in this novella.

Now my thoughts.  I was, disappointed isn't quite the right word, but underwhelmed may be.  I LOVE the Newsflesh trilogy and I really enjoyed the other novellas set in this world but this one just didn't deliver.  It's not bad but it's slow and plodding and I felt like several of the main points were overstated way too many times while actual plot was not as strong.  Also the zombie kangaroos were really talked up in the material leading up to release but were a very minor part of the actual story and did very little.  Not what I was hoping for to be honest.  The best part was the sneak peek at the end of the new novel coming out later this year.

Page count: 132p/21,461p ytd/165,861p lifetime

Saturday, July 20, 2013

83:120 The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan

Mehrunnisa loved Prince Salim from the first moment she laid eyes on him when she was 8 years old.  After that moment, her only thoughts were about how she would marry him and become his Empress some day.  Life does not always follow a young girl's dream though and many things can change between when one is 8 and 30.  Mehrunnisa, however, is brilliant and determined and will find a way to have her happily ever after.

Historical fiction is not generally a genre that I go for but the back description of "An enchanting historical epic of grand passion and adventure telling the captivating story of one of India's most controversial empresses" just grabbed my attention.  So much so that I ended up choosing it for my book club's read for this month.  I was not disappointed.  I was absolutely enchanted by the story and fell in love with Mehrunnisa and her strength of character.  Beautifully told and a captivating tale.  Apparently it is the first of a trilogy and I'm looking forward to reading the others now.

Page count: 383p/21,329p ytd/165,729p lifetime

Friday, July 12, 2013

82:120 Night Vision by Yasmine Galenorn

The 4th book in the Indigo Court series.  Cicely and Rhiannon are trying to come to grips with the upcoming coronations as the Queens of Winter and Summer respectively and prepare for the wedding to the loves of their lives.  There is a lot to do and much to learn in a short period of time before Lainule, the previous Queen of Summer, aging and preparing to leave for the Golden Isle. Geoffrey and Leo are still at large and word has come down that they have managed to free Crawl, the Blood Oracle, from his prison and he is eager for Cicely's blood.  Myst is also still out there regrouping her forces and preparing to plunge the world into the next Ice Age.  Even if Cicely and Rhiannon live the gain the thrones, will they live long enough to reign?

Things are definitely heating up in the battles but I like that the majority of this book focused more on the changes going on in Cicely's life and how she is dealing with them all.  It shows that even in the midst of the chaos, life goes on, responsibility cannot be put off and neither can love.  A fast paced, fast read and now I'm sad because I have to wait a year for the next one which will be the end of the series.

Page count: 322p/20,946p ytd/165,346p lifetime

81:120 The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

A 40+yr old man returns to his hometown after many years away for a funeral and finds himself walking down memory lane.  Down a lane with the ocean at the end of it and memories long since repressed and forgotten about things that sound impossible but aren't really.  About monsters and madness, oceans and other worlds, love and loss.  For a while, he leaves the outside world behind and remembers it all.

This is such a quiet book that you don't even realize how much time has gone by until something suddenly snaps you back into reality and you look down to see how much of the book you have read except you haven't read it, you have been swallowed by it mind and soul.  You can't wait to steal a few more minutes to dive into it again only to find yourself emerging an hour later.  Not a long read by any means but I found myself reading it slowly to savor it.  It doesn't want to be rushed but rather wants to quietly unfurl and draw you in...and you want to let it.

Page count: 181p/20,624p ytd/165,024p lifetime

Saturday, July 6, 2013

80:120 The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams

A collection of tales from all over the place and with a title like that, no, I couldn't resist buying that especially since it had tales by Seanan McGuire and Carrie Vaughn in it.  I'm finding that I'm starting to enjoy these types of anthologies more and more as a means of being introduced to new authors that I may want to go check out later and this one did not disappoint in delivering a few new authors to my consideration.  My favorite stories out of the collection were "Professor Incognito Apologies: An Itemized List" by Austin Grossman, "Laughter at the Academy" by Seanan McGuire, and "The Mad Scientist's Daughter" by Theodora Goss.  Odds are good that if the title sounds intriguing to you,  you will find something in there to delight.

Page count: 363p/20,443p ytd/164,843p lifetime

Monday, July 1, 2013

79:120 Magician's Choice by Stefon Mears

The first in a new series, Rise of Magic.  Donal Cuthbert is working as a courier in order to get the money to go to graduate school in magic.  This current run tho, may end up costing him more than he could have ever imagined.  On his way to deliver a package, he is almost murdered a few times and this is just the beginning of the lies, murders, and corporate espionage.that are about to sweep him up.  John Jacobs is a helioship captain whose business is ready to go under when he is contracted to make the Mars-to-Earth run with only a few passengers on board and to take a few extra days.  Looking upon this as the opportunity to save his business, he takes it despite his reservations.  He never thought to deal with squabbling crew members, threats from deep space and from within, and passenger conspiracies that could destroy his ship before it ever sees Earth's orbit.  Can John and Donal find their way through and come out the other side?

One of the better debut novels I've read in several years.  Well constructed world with ritual magic that is explained so we understand it's place in the world and in the lives of those performing it but without getting long-winded and without falling into the trap of so many others of over-explaining the world with long expositions.  Instead, we learn how things work in a natural way through the characters interactions which I much prefer and I can't wait for the next one!

Page count: 259p/20,080p ytd/164,480p lifetime

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 3rd Quarter 2013

My usual disclaimer:
Let me state, this is really based on authors or series that I'm already reading since those are the things I follow.  I'm not paid to write this blog nor do I have any affiliations with any publishers so I don't receive free books or advance notice of things except what I glean off Facebook from people who do have those contacts or what I research on my own (which again, leads back to authors that I'm already reading).  Maybe someday I'll be one of those who has the contacts and gets ARCs but it's not today.

While last quarter was pretty small for new releases I was looking forward to, this quarter (which starts today...yikes!) is pretty full.  Looking at how little I read last month I apparently seriously need to get back to reading more if I want to have any hope of shrinking my to-read pile.

Night Vision is the next book in the Indigo Court series.  The war seems to be over with Rhiannon and Cicely readying for their coronation as the Queens of Summer and Winter respectively and marrying the loves of their lives.  Unfortunately, those they have defeated are not about to go away graciously.  Geoffrey and Leo have released the Blood Oracle and set him lose upon the town and Leo has kidnapped Rhiannon.  Can Cicely manage to save her and everything they have worked so hard to gain or will it all crumble before they even sit upon the thrones?  Really can not wait for this one and so bummed that my local bookstore won't have it in until the end of the week.  What the heck am I supposed to do until then???
Release Date: July 2

Denver is trying to get used to their new Master Vampire and now there is a new rogue werewolv for Kitty to deal with in Kitty in the Underworld.  I'm hoping to see some real progress in the main plot of the series and I can only hope I'll like this master vampire half as much as Rick.  Still bummed that he has gone off.
Release Date: July 30

Last Blood is a hard one for me to talk much about as I haven't yet had the chance to read the series but everything I've heard says it's fantastic so I'll be picking it up and hoping to get to it before the end of the year.
Release Date: July 30

Magic Rises is the one coming out at the end of July that I am most looking forward to.  I LOVE Kate and Curran but the plot on this one sounds more troubling than usual as it involves the were-children not being able to control their shifting and dying.  I so want to read it but at the same time, I'm just hoping the authors handle this well or I'm going to end up a crying mess on the floor.
Release Date: July 30

I have heard that Grave Visions is due out next month from Goodreads and B&N but no information it even exists from Amazon so not sure what is going on.  I'm really interested to see what will be going down with Alex and the Fae, especially now that Fagin is going to be living with her.
Release Date: August 6

I'm a book behind in the Greywalker series, but the newest one, Possession , will be coming out soon so maybe I need to just spend all of July reading so I can get caught up.  A comatose woman suddenly wakes up able to paint scenes in great details of things she's never seen, talk with another's voice, and mysterious writing appearing on her skin.  Harper is called in to figure things out and finds out that this is not an isolated case but can she figure out what is causing it?
Release Date: August 6

Heart of Venom is another one I'm really looking forward to.  I really enjoy the elemental assassin series for the most part and while I wasn't thrilled with the last installment, I'm hoping this one is the real deal.  Sophia, Gin's friend and body-disposer, is being threatened and Gin simply won't tolerate that and is ready to go to any lengths to save her friend.  This book is also supposedly a turning point in the relationship between Gin and Owen which I'm really hoping is a good one as I really love them two of them together.
Release Date: August 27

It really isn't fair to have so many incredible books that I can't wait for in such a short period of time and Chimes at Midnight  is yet another one of them.  I really love Seanan McGuire and absolutely love this universe.  It seemed like at the end of the last book that things might finally be settling down for Toby.  She has her squire, her job, and a budding romance with Tybalt.  Unfortunately, changelings are disappearing and when Toby tries to take it to the Queen of the Mists she finds out just how bad things are getting in the kingdom.  The big question is what can Toby, or anyone else, do about it?
Release Date: September 3

Autumn Whispers rounds out the last so I'm a very happy camper with the quarter being bookended by Yasmine Galenorn's books.  This one is told from Delilah's pov and I'm really hoping that we start getting more of her destiny with the Death Maidens in it.  Debauchery, slavery, and corporate greed are the name of the game in this one and one misstep could cost them everything.
Release Date: September 24

Considering my to-read list has grown lately and I only got 7 books read last month, I'm going to have to figure out a way to get a lot more reading done because this is going to be a fantastic quarter for books!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

78:120 The Shield Maiden by Michael 'Tinker' Pearce and Linda Pearce

A Foreworld Sidequest.  A short story of Sigrid who is a Shield Maiden during her first battle and what she discovers about herself and her talents.  Set in what is basically Viking times.  I have no other knowledge of this universe and bought this because a relative of a friend wrote it and I admit to liking to support friends and their relatives.  Sue me.  I didn't expect to be as drawn into it as I was considering I had no familiarity with the world but it was written so that it wasn't necessary.  There is some backstory going on that I think would explain some other things that were side plots of this particular story and I'm intrigued enough that I have put the first couple of actual books from this series onto my wishlist.  If they are as well written as this, I will be a very happy reader.

Page count: 67p/19,821p ytd/164,221p lifetime