Wednesday, January 30, 2013

15:120 Ever After by Kim Harrison

The 11th book in the Hollows series.  The ley line Rachel inadvertently created in the Ever After has gone from a little leaky to disrupting all the lines and is in the process of collapsing the Ever After.  If it can't be fixed soon, the Ever After will disappear and all the demons with it.  Rachel and Al know that this is the doing of Ku'Sox.  Heck, all the other demons know it too but are too scared of him to do anything so instead they have shifted the responsibility onto Rachel since it is her line.  Fix it or we will kill you before we die.  Ku'Sox of course has more planned than just trying to get Rachel killed.  He has been having her old boyfriend, Nick, and Jenks's son, Jax, helping him steal Rosewood babies and giving them the enzyme that helped Rachel to survive so he can bread more sun-walking demons thus giving the demons in the Ever After more hope and reason to go after Rachel instead of him.  Can Rachel fix the lines in time to save her skin and keep Ku'Sox from continuing whatever it is he's plotting?  And even if she can, what will it end up costing her?

I absolutely love this series but this book had me screaming probably more than any other I can remember.  The choices are impossible and the unthinkable happens when favorite characters die.  Yeah, there's your spoiler.  Ms. Harrison pulled no punches with this one and it's hard.  I'm only glad that we deal with the aftermath and didn't get actual death scenes.  Pretty sure I would have had a real hard time with that.  Otherwise, another incredible installment in this series and I'm not saddened that we will have to wait another year for the next one.  Only two more til the series is over and I still have no idea where Rachel will be when it does.

Page count: 435p/3,528p ytd/147,948p lifetime

Friday, January 25, 2013

14:120 Marika by Andrea Cheng

A story of a girl growing up in Budapest during WWII.  A girl with a Jewish last name and a broken family.  Her father is always thinking ahead, having her and her brother learn French and German, practicing the Catholic religion, taking Latin at school.  But when the war comes, none of that matters because of their last name.  They must wear the stars and move from their home.  They are separated.  They are shown kindness and evil and their lives are changed.

Based loosely on the story of the author's mother and from a child's perspective.  The story really starts when Marika is about 6yrs old and continues by touching on major points in her life through the German occupation and release by the Russians when she is about 14yrs old.  Rather than one continuous story, it's highlights of her memories which gives it a poignancy of it's own.  This is the child telling us her story as she remembers it.  Tidbits of the war but that seems so far away to her and the separation of her parents is a much bigger trauma in her young life.  Simply but beautifully told.

Page count: 163p/3,093p ytd/147,513p lifetime

13:120 Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey

A combination of the first 5 Wool books.  I'm not going to try and remember what happened in each one as they really make for a cohesive whole and I can't remember where one left off and the next began.  We come upon this place, a huge underground silo that houses thousands of people.  There is rationing of supplies, materials, food, and children.  Life is hard and the only way to see the outside is through cameras whose lenses get dirty.  This leads to the greatest punishment, "Cleaning", for the greatest crime, talking about going outside.   The story starts with the Sheriff voluntarily going outside to clean after his wife was sent out 3yrs prior.  He is strapped into a suit, given some air to complete the task tho not much more, and sent outside.  The view he sees is magnificent, so much different than what they are shown inside, so he cleans and goes to find his wife.

Now the Mayor and Deputy must find a new Sheriff and they settle on someone from Mechanical.  Bernard, Head of IT, is in disagreement and now things start going downhill quickly.  The Mayor instates Juliette over Bernard's wishes and on her way back up to her office from talking to Juliette (150 or so floors away), she lets Bernard know her decision.  She doesn't make it back to her office.  Juliette's first task as Sheriff is figuring out who poisoned the Deputy's water canteen which led to the Mayor's death and she must do this under Bernard's watchful eye as The Order, the rules they live under, promote the Head of IT to acting Mayor until an election can be held.  Bernard has his own secrets tho...about what lies outside.

I don't want to delve further into the plot here as I don't wish to give away too much.  This was a book club read and at first I couldn't figure out where it was going but it soon became apparent and the question was how would it all end.  Several things have to all weave together just so and Mr. Howey does a credible job of putting all the pieces in the right places.  Very dystopian and has many aspects that remind me of 1984.  I'm not sure if I will continue reading (there are two more novels after this) mostly because I liked where this ended and I'm almost afraid of where it would go from there.  They are on my wishlist for now so I don't forget as I debate it.

I will say tho, that it is not worth buying these individually.  The first couple were very short, novellas length, so just buy the omnibus edition if you are interested.  Definitely recommended for those who like Orwell's 1984 and even Huxley's Brave New World.  I felt this slotted in nicely with those.

Page count: 464p/2,930p ytd/147,350p lifetime

Monday, January 21, 2013

12:120 Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey

The 6th book in the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series.  Isabelle is the daughter of a rich merchant with a stepmother and two stepsisters.  That is where the traditional tale ends as she has freedom and manages the household well, gets on decently with her stepmother and quite well with her stepsisters.  She prefers to speak her mind and doesn't have many suitors but she's okay with that and sees herself setting up her own herbal shop in a few years with the knowledge she has been getting from Granny.  That is, until the night when she is walking home from Granny's through the woods and is attacked by a wolf and bitten.  The next morning, she is taken from her home and escorted to the Duke's house and told to remain there for 3mos.  No explanation is given until the Duke greets her and informs her that he is a werewolf and is sorry for having bitten her but they have no idea how he became a werewolf so have no idea if she will turn or not. Thus begins her new life, one she could never have imagined.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one as usual.  Just a fabulous series.  Yes, I saw where it was going but there are always sidetracks along the way which are great fun and they are such lovely tales.  My biggest complaint is I have no idea when the next one will be out.

Page count: 408p/2,466p ytd/146,886p lifetime

Sunday, January 20, 2013

11:120 Undead and Unappreciated by Mary Janice Davidson

The 3rd book in the Queen Betsy series.  Things are still tripping up poor Betsy.  The vampires running her bar, Scratch, that she inherited after killing the last owner are total jerks.  Now the Ant has announced that she is pregnant and Sinclair has informed her that this is not going to be Betsy's only half-sibling.  Apparently the Ant was pregnant by Betsy's dad before they were married and had given the baby up for adoption.  When Betsy and Sinclair go to question the Ant about it, they discover that the Ant is missing the memories for almost an entire year which includes much of the pregnancy, birth, and first few months.  The Book of the Dead tells of The Queen's sister who is the Devil's daughter who is destined to rule the Earth so of course now Betsy just HAS to meet her new sister.  Turns out Laura is a super sweet girl raised by a minister and his wife who just happens to have command over hellfire.  Nothing that is going to come between sisters.  But then there is Sinclair....

Yep, completely fluff and bubblegum.  It's simple and fun and nothing serious.

Page count: 271p/2,058p ytd/146,478p lifetime

Thursday, January 17, 2013

10:120 Underworlds: Revenge of the Scorpion King by Tony Abbott

The 3rd book in the Underworlds series.  Owen, Dana, Jon, and Sydney have followed Loki into the Babylonian Underworld in an attempt to keep him from gaining control over the Babylonian monsters in his quest to set fire to Midguard (Earth), destroy Odin, and become ruler of Asgard.  In order to stop him, they must fight each of the monsters on their way up the tower to get the stones that control them and keep them from Loki.  Can four children manage to do what so many heroes have failed?  And what happens if they can't?

Another fast-paced adventure book for younger readers.  Nick continues to love the series and taking delight in telling me to catch-up.  Again, a great fun read for those who are just getting into chapter books and want something with action and adventure.

Page count: 103p/1,787p ytd/ 146,207p lifetime

9:120 The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey

The 5th book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series.  The Queen is dead and The Tradition loves having a widowed king with a beautiful daughter to play with.  There are so many tragic endings with an evil stepmother and Godmother Lily is just not going to allow any of them to play out so instead she disguises herself and becomes Queen Sable, the evil stepmother, and while she plays her part well she is also keeping an eye out for Princess Rosamund's safety and any nasty tricks The Tradition will play to bring about a less than Happily Ever After.  Princess Rosamund knows nothing of the Godmother's presence in her life and is also keeping an eye out for The Tradition so when a Huntsman chases her into the woods, she is expecting a Snow White type Tradition of being saved by dwarves and finding her Prince Charming.  Instead, the dwarves that rescue her are mean and chain her to the kitchen to be their servant.  Godmother Lily discovers this and manages to help her escape but when she is put into an enchanted sleep, two strange princes show up out of nowhere.  Now she has princes in tow and upon returning home, they learn of the King's death.  Now Princess Rosamund and Godmother Lily must work together and with The Tradition to keep the kingdom from being torn apart by war but will this end up with a Happily Ever After for Princess Rosamund and her fair prince?

I just really love this series.  The way it pokes fun at the traditional fairy tales and turns things around is so cleverly done.  This one moved well for the most part with only a few slow chunks here and there and I think my biggest complaint is the cover art since Rosamund is a blonde and in the book it even mentions how she's more of a Sleeping Beauty stereotype rather than a Snow White but the cover shows her with looking much more Snow White.

Page count: 408p/1,684p ytd/146,104 lifetime

Friday, January 11, 2013

8:120 Underworlds: When Monsters Escape by Tony Abbott

The 2nd book in the Underworlds series for kids by Tony Abbott.  They've gotten Dana out from the Greek Underworld but only by promising Hades that they would return the Cyclopses that were released into their world within a week.  Brave words and now even braver deeds must follow if they are to pull that off and keep Dana free until her appointed time to travel to the Underworld.  However finding out that the Cyclopses are making armor for Loki which will make him invincible and they have a whole nother set of problems to deal with since Loki has now stated that he wants to burn the Earth in order to wage and win a war against Odin.  That would kinda suck for those of us still living here.  Owen and his friends aren't about to let that happen tho especially since he still has Orpheus's lyre and now Dana has stolen one of Loki's magical armor gloves that has really cool lightening attacks.

So really, not a lot to say about this.  It's all action with the occasional snarky comment from the characters.  It's introducing different ancient mythologies (so far Greek and Norse) and is entertaining for my little guy to read.  And read he is as he is devouring these books.  He seriously loves them and is putting aside video games in favor of these books.  Yeah, not my cup of tea since they are written for 7yr olds but you know what, the almost 7yr old LOVES it and it has encouraged him to read a LOT so for that, I will say that it is one of the most awesome series ever!

Page count: 103p/1,276p ytd/145,696p lifetime

7:120 Prince Caspian by CS Lewis

So here's the review I wrote back in 2008 (which I admitted to being in a crappy mood when I wrote it):

So my impressions of Prince Caspain (made before getting in such a horrid mood). Decent book but way too much emphasis on descriptive scenery with a decent nod to a plot and almost no character development. In all honesty, this would have been much better cut down and used to start an adventure book rather then being the entire thing. Just not enough meat on the bones of this one. On to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

After re-reading it again and in a better mood, well, I can't say I was far off the mark.  It was a cute little story but yeah, not really much in the way of any kind of character development or much point other than crowning Caspian king.  It still feels like it could have been a few chapters in the start of a bigger adventure and just not enough happened to have it be its own story.

Page count: 223p/1,173p ytd/145,593p lifetime

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

6:120 Our Town by Thornton Wilder

School re-read.  Here's what I said about it last time:

A play in 3 acts. It takes us back in time to 1901 in a small town in New Hampshire. It's a simple play designed to show how simple life can be and at the end, that it's wasted on the living who spend too much time running around and not taking the time to appreciate everything around them.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.  It's simplistic with simple characters and a simple plot but it's also timeless because it doesn't have a lot of specific complications.  It's a small tale of people growing up, getting married, and dying.  It's life going on and doing the same thing over and over again.

Page count: 102p/950p ytd/145,370p lifetime

Saturday, January 5, 2013

5:120 Undead and Unemployed by Mary Janice Davidson

The 2nd book in the Queen Betsy series by Mary Janice Davidson.  Betsy is so not into this whole Queen of the vampires things especially with Finklair as her consort so she has returned to her home and is rooming with Marc and Jessica who know her true nature but still love her.  Then the house is discovered to have termites and someone is running around town killing vampires.  Ugh!  So not what she needs especially when has managed to land a job selling her beloved shoes at Macy's.  Unfortunately, those pesky things get everyone all up in her face until she deals with them and Sinclair (the jackass) isn't letting her forget that she's queen and his consort any time soon.  What's a girl to do but go out and buy more shoes, right?!

This series is seriously bubblegum but it's a fun time and just what I needed today after staring at computer screens and textbooks all day.    It's not fancy and it doesn't try to be pretentious or fine literature.  It's light, it's funny, and the one thing it never does is take itself seriously.   And you know what, sometimes that's just what you need.

Page count: 272p/848p ytd/145,268p lifetime

4:120 Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis

Someone has stolen the Extremis technology from one of Tony Stark's friends and now all h*** is breaking loss as a seriously enhanced superhuman with no training but a deep-seated grudge against the government is on the loose.  Iron Man goes toe and to toe against him and is crushed, almost to death.  What's a super hero to do except take the last dose of Extremis in the hopes of gaining the upper hand.

An interesting look into some of Tony Stark's background and also a lot of his motives.  Not always the pompous ass we see but much more human and ready to help a friend.  The artwork was good, the story line engaging, and in all very well done.

Page count: 184p/576p ytd/144,996p lifetime

Thursday, January 3, 2013

3:120 Marvel Cival War: Iron Man by Gage, Knauf, & Bendis

Probably the most powerfully written of all the Civil War spin-offs.  There is a lot of Iron Man and Captain America talking, remembering, and trying to figure out how to stop the war without either side actually giving in.  There is also bits of Tony's dealing with trying to wage the war.  The last story, "The Confession", is easily the most powerful of the whole thing.  It is Tony sitting by himself telling how he knew what was coming, what he did to try and prevent it, and his feelings on how it ended.  It's heartbreaking.

The story line here was absolutely incredible and the artwork matched beautifully.  Dark, gritty where necessary, but still aethestically gorgeous.  A definite must read for any Marvel fan.

Page count: 112p/392p ytd/144,812p lifetime (since 2009)

A New Goal

I was talking to a friend of mine today and she was saying how I should make a bucket list item of reading 1 million pages in my lifetime.  I have records for pages read dating back to 2009 and I was at 144,420 through the end of last year so what the heck, I'm going for it.  Let's see how long it takes to read 1 million pages.

2:120 Marvel Civil War: X-Men by David Hine

Another one taking place at about the same time and answering the question of where were the X-Men while Iron Man and Captain America and their sides were duking it out.  Easy, for those of us who don't actually follow these on a regular basis, they were trapped at Xavier's Institute like Indians on a reservation.  There were Sentinels standing guard and no one was allowed to enter or leave without permission of the government (SHIELD I think).  A few mutants came along and blasted a hole in the wall to allow members of 198 to escape but now they are being hunted down.  Cyclops, Iceman, Archangel, and Beast are trying to get to them first and diffuse the situation but someone is manipulating things and he doesn't want them calmed down at all.

Another good story where you see more of what's going on in the background with all the problems surrounding the Civil War and how things are being manipulated by outside forces.  Artwork was sooo much better than the Wolverine stuff which made it a much more enjoyable read.

Page count: 112p/280p ytd

1:120 Marvel Civil War: Wolverine by Marc Guggenheim

Takes place during the the main civil war comics as Wolverine hunts down Nitro, the mutant that blew up the school and killed the kids in Stamford.  Nothing is quite what it seems tho as when he finally finds Nitro, there are others there as well looking for justice and Nitro claims it wasn't all his doing.  Wolverine actually delves deeper to find the money behind the mutant problems since when it doubt see who is making a profit.

Yeah, starting the year off with a bunch of comics as I get caught up with the boys in my house.  This one I really wish was a novel and not a comic.  Story line was good but the artistic style was AWFUL.  I had a hard time reading it because it was just ugly so I just plowed through so I could stop looking at it.  One of my biggest problems with comics is if it isn't pretty, I won't be back no matter how good the story is.

Page count: 168p/168p ytd

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 1st Quarter 2013

Ok, I'm going to try doing this at least once per quarter so I can let whoever reads this blog know what sounds good to me.  Let me state tho, 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.  Maybe someday.

So here's what I'm looking forward to in the first quarter of 2013:

First book is Ever After by Kim Harrison.  The 11th book in the Hollows series, Rachel is being sucked back into the Ever After to fix the problems with the ley lines that she has created.  Big demons gunning for her, Trent getting involved, I'm sure Al will be as well.  Can't wait!
Release date: Jan 22

Second book of the year is Haunted Moon by Yasmine Galenorn.

I absolutely LOVE this series and Camille's stories are always fabulous!  This is the 13th book in the Sisters of the Otherworld series and each one has been better than the last.  Seriously, if you are into UF/PNR and haven't checked her stuff out yet, run to the bookstore and get reading!
Release date: Jan 29

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs finally sees us return to the world of Mercy Thompson after almost two years away.  I can't wait to see how Mercy and Adam are settling down together and what will be coming in to wreck havoc on them this time.  Knowing their relationship, I'm sure it will be anything but ordinary.
Release date: March 5

Can I squee when I saw Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire is coming out this quarter as well?!  Seriously, she and Yasmine Galenorn are probably my top two favorite authors right now and getting books from both of them in just over a months time is like Christmas!  This is the sequel to last year's debut, Discount Armageddon and will again be following Verity Price which can only mean more of the awesome mice and ballroom dancing shenanigans...or at least a girl can only hope.
Release date: March 5

Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep will see the 8th installment of the Elemental Assassin series.  I wasn't too thrilled with the end of the last book and while it was understandable, I really really loved Gin and Owen together and was sad when he walked away from it.  I hope we see some movement in their relationship, even if it's just strengthening their friendship in this one.  Yes, I'm sure there will be plenty of bloodletting and ass-kicking since Gin is so good at that but I'm hoping for a bit of Owen and a lot less repetitive introspection which is my only real complaint with the series.
Release date: March 26

And lastly, Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn.  Kitty has returned to Denver from the conference in London trying to figure out how to gather more allies for the fight that will be coming with Roman while he continues his Long Game.  Apparently it's going to be busy with a new werewolf in town challenging her, Cormac off hunting things, and Rick being tempted by another vampire.
Release date: March 26

So what are you looking forward to in the coming months?  Anything I should be on the lookout for?

2012 Recap and 2013 Goals

So I have to say that at the beginning of the year I didn't know if I'd make my reading goals with trying to keep the house together while selling and then trying to move.  I thought maybe with the vacation I'd get lots of reading done with that and that would help.  Yeah, not so much.  Really, it was having to keep the house clean and then staying out of it that helped the most.  It was easy to see the drop-off in the month we moved.  4 books finished that month.  I know I had to rush the last few new authors at the end of December and used comics to get me to the 40 new author goal but trying the A-Z series challenge really did a number on trying to get new authors in since instead of just reading the first book in a new series, I would generally try to finish the series.  By November, I'd given up on that and was just getting the first book in and moving on.  It was a neat experiment tho as was the A-Z author and A-Z title challenges.  I'm not doing them again this year because I want to focus on the one thing that I didn't do this year which was end the year with less books on my to-read pile than I start with .  I failed miserably on that one this time around and the challenges were the biggest reason as I added a lot of books as a result of those.

So to recap, my goals for this year were 110 books, 40 new authors, and 35,000 pages read as well as the A-Z challenges previously mentioned.  I surpassed my books and pages read and just barely met my new authors goal but meet it I did.

I always get a kick out of looking back at the books and new authors I read over the year.  Again, there were some phenomenal new authors: Deborah Harkness, Anne Bishop, Lillith Saintcrow, Jennifer Estep, Roger Zelazny, Gail Carriger, Erin Morgenstern, Mercedes Lackey, Faith Hunter, Amy Sprenger, Faith Hunter, Steig Larsson, and Markus Zusak.  There were a few books that really missed the mark with me this year, primarily some of the zombie books my oldest wanted me to read but there were another 20 or so that were just meh but that's ok.  I read more books that I really enjoyed than ones I didn't so it's a good year.

So my goals for 2013 are 120 books, 40 new authors (this one always seems to be a stretch and comes down to the wire so not upping it), and 40,000 pages.  Pretty tall order but since financially things are tight, this will hopefully mean less time out of the house doing stuff and more time in the house reading.  A girl can dream anyway.  Also again trying for the goal of reducing my to-read pile this year.  At this time a year ago, according to Goodreads I had 1,171 books to read and Shelfari said 1,164 (again, not sure where the discrepency is from).  Now I'm looking at 1,285 on Goodreads and 1,290 on Shelfari (this actually makes more sense since there are a few ebook freebies I've gotten that Goodreads doesn't have in it's database yet).  As you can see, even with reading 129 books last year, I still piled more than 100 on my to-read list.  Um, whoops.  LOL  So no weird challenges this year as I try to get that number down a bit.  There will be a lot of books continuing to come in between freebies, latest in series I'm reading, book club reads (both Matthew's and the one I just joined), and gifts but hey, it's worth a shot.