Friday, March 29, 2013

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 2nd 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.

Blood Trade by Faith Hunter is coming out quickly and has shown me that I need to do this post a month before the quarter.  LOL    The Master of Mississippi is having problems with vamps who think that humans are simply here to be their food and these vamps are harder to kill than normal.  Can Jane figure out how to kill them while staying alive herself?

I admit, I'm a book behind in this series but that just means it's time to grab that book and start reading...quick!
Release Date: April 2

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris is the conclusion to the Sookie Stackhouse series.  I know I'm going to read it but after the last one, I'm just not looking forward to it.  I hope we see some actual resolution and I do hope Sookie gets her HEA but this was a series that was hard for me to get into from the start and then got really good and then has cooled off again.  I think trying to force it to a certain length was a mistake as there have been a couple of books that really just felt like they were put in as filler and didn't add much to the overall series.
Release Date: May 7

Darkness Unmasked by Keri Arthur is the latest in her Dark Angels series.  Risa is still looking for the keys that everyone wants and is under watch by the vampire council as well.  This series has been frustrating as I like them but the main plot seems to only go somewhere every other book at most as Risa ends up dealing with her feelings for her two paramours a lot and getting sucked into some other mystery that has nothing to do with her main objective.  It looks like this one has her back on task and maybe some resolution about Lucien as well.  I can only hope.
Release Date: June 4

Wow, after how many came out first quarter, not so much coming out this quarter.  That's okay tho as it gives me time to try and get to things on my to-read pile and see about bringing that one down a bit.

44:120 A Fantasy Medley 2 by Huff, Downum, Kent, & McGuire

A collection of short stories edited by Yanni Kuznia.  I admit, I bought it solely because Seanan McGuire had a story about Tybalt in it.  I do have some books by Tanya Huff on my to-read pile and this being me, of course I read the whole thing cover to cover.  I can't stand only reading one story out of a compilation or even reading them out of order.  So now my thoughts on each story:

Quartered by Tanya Huff - Evicka, a Bard, is sent to spy on an assassin but the revelations she comes away with are more than anyone could have imagined.  Bards in this world control kigh, spirits of some sort, through their songs and are used not only to spy but also to bring news to others and use their songs to influence people's opinions.  Obviously a well built world and I'm intrigued to know more.

Bone Garden by Amanda Downum - Genetian ran away from his people several years ago but now his cousin is on the doorstep of the theater he works and lives at and tells him it has to do with the babies and women being killed.  Again, it seemed pretty obvious that this was part of a larger world but I'm still undecided if I want to know more.  I just didn't get really invested in it.

The Sergeant and the General by Jasper Kent - A crotchety old man is befriended by a student living in the same building.  When the student mentions getting a horse, the old man tells him there is no room and takes him down to the stables to see why.  In the stables, there are no horses but only a pendant with the likeness of a horse and a name etched on it but that night and for several afterward, the student hears hooves on the stairs leading to the old mans flat but even when the hooves sound like they are next to him, he sees nothing.  A few days later the old man is dead, clutching the horse pendant.  Then we are told the meaning behind the pendant.  In all, it was well-written but I found it disjointed and hard to care about the characters.  It says that it's from a series but I definitely won't be looking for it.

Rat-Catcher by Seanan McGuire - Rand, adopted son of the King of Cats, has been charged to hear the message brought to Londinium, the fairy lands that coincide with London.  What he reports back is that there will be fire that will sweep through all the lands and any who stay will burn but when the king decides to ignore the warning, Rand steps up to protect his people and a new king emerges from the battle, Tybalt.  Very interesting to read how Tybalt became King of the Cats and my biggest complaint is that the story was simply too short.  It told exactly what it needed to but not much more and there is soooooo much more I want to know about Tybalt.  I imagine that for anyone who was more familiar with the other worlds in this medley, they felt the same way.

I came away from this happy with the story I bought it for and a new series to look into.  Unfortunately, I don't think the other two stories were strong enough to truly stand on their own as good introductions to their wolds for people like me who were completely unfamiliar with them.

Page count: 160p/10,922p ytd/155,342p lifetime

43:120 Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep

The 8th book in the Elemental Assassin series.  Gin is still broken-hearted about how things currently stand with Owen so Finn decides to wheedle her into attending a gala event showcasing Mab's jewelry with him to get her out of the house.  He even manages to persuade her to go dress shopping with him so he can make her look fabulous.  Nothing is ever simple for Gin tho and shortly after the last guest arrives, the gala event has become a heist.  Of course Gin isn't going to let that stand, especially when her friends are now hostages.

I really look forward to these books but this one, just didn't do it for me.  I like the characters but I think that the fact that almost this entire novel takes place over one night means there is no development in relationships and it's more about setting up the next big bad guy Gin is going to go against for the next several books.  Also, again there was too much repetition in Gin's thoughts and it seemed much worse than usual this time which ends up detracting from the whole book.  Seriously, we do not need the same thing stated bluntly a few times every chapter.  Please treat us like grown-ups who can remember basic things.

Page count: 369p/10,762p ytd/155,182p lifetime

Thursday, March 28, 2013

42:120 Goofballs #4: The Mysterious Talent Show Mystery by Tony Abbott

The Talent Show is less than two weeks away and the Goofballs are eager to show off their goofy skills that aren't related to mystery solving...and then a mystery lands in their laps.  First a tuba goes missing, than the curtain is stuck, pages of the play are replaced minus a big speech, and then their teacher who is putting on the talent show and play disappears in a puff of smoke!  Leave it to the Goofballs to get to the bottom of these mysteries and save the day!

Another fun tale for the 7-9yr old crowd!  Tony Abbott definitely seems to be a genius when it comes to writing for them!

Page count: 108p/10,393p ytd/154,813p lifetime

41:120 Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn

The 11th book in the Kitty Norville series.  Kitty is back from London and she and Rick are busily trying to find allies against The Long Game.  Of course, allies are hard to come by and they always want to test your strength, especially when you are dealing with vampires and weres.  Now a new werewolf is in town and while he says he's trying to join the pack, something about him is rubbing Kitty the wrong way but is she strong enough to withstand his challenge if he tries for the leadership?  And will Rick really be tempted by the new vampire that has just shown up claiming to be from the Order of St. Lazarus telling him that he can be a vampire and have his Christian God too?

While this book doesn't do much in terms of The Long Game story arc, it does a lot in terms of helping Kitty discover her own strengths and changing some of the players up a bit.  It also hints that Roman is only the General in The Long Game but not the Caesar which is a scary thought all on it's own.

In all, I liked this installment of the series.  I liked that Kitty didn't back down but that she didn't just let her wolf dictate everything when it came to a challenge either.  I was saddened by what happened with Rick and hope that he'll be back sooner rather than later.

Page count: 324p/10,285p ytd/154,705p lifetime

Monday, March 25, 2013

40:120 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

"The Timeless Classic of Growing Up and the Human Dignity That Unites Us All" is what it states on the cover of my addition and truly that is a great summarization.   Jem and Scout are growing up in a sleep Southern town with their father, Atticus, who is the town's lead defense attorney.  Most days it's all playing outside, making up games, and coming up with stupid dares for each other like going to see if you can touch the house of Boo Radley, a hermit who hasn't been seen in 20yrs.  School starts for Scout who is a few years younger than Jem and she starts having to learn about new ideas and other ways of thinking and it's a complete shock to her.  Then one of the blacks living in the outlying area has been accused of raping one of the poor white girls and Atticus steps up to defend him.  Now Jem and Scout are having to learn more about how the rest of the world operates and how bigotry and intolerance hurt more than anything else but that while those things hurt, there is wonder and love in equal measure to be found.

Page count: 281p/9,961p ytd/154,381p lifetime

39:120 Goofballs #3: Superhero Silliness by Tony Abbott

Randall Crandall is once again in need of his Goofball friends in order to keep safe his world famous derder collection from The Dutchman.  Randall's hosting a superhero party so the Goofballs done some goofy disguises and try to find clues and stop the thief in his tracks.

Another goofy tale and another hit for Tony Abbott.

Page count: 104p/9,680p ytd/154,100p lifetime

Thursday, March 21, 2013

38:120 Goofballs #2: The Startling Story of the Stolen Statue by Tony Abbott

The Goofballs' school is getting ready to celebrate it's 100th anniversary with an assembly, special gifts, speeches...and a statue of the school's first principal.  But when the current principal goes to inspect everything a few hours before the assembly, he discovers the statue is missing!  He calls the Goofballs in to let them know that he appreciates the work he has done to get everything ready but that he will have to cancel.  Of course the Goofballs immediately go on the case but even when they find clues what do a broken pencil, a missing book, a skateboard, and a wet piece of paper lead to?  They'll have to figure it out quick to save the day this time!

Another cute little tale.  Again, these are based on action and humor not character development but that's appropriate for the target audience which they seem to please incredibly well going by the reaction of my 7yr old and they aren't too onerous for the adults who are commanded to read them either.

Page count: 102p/9,576p ytd/153,996p lifetime

37:120 Never After by Hamilton, Galenorn, Lui, & Shinn

A collection of four tales of magic, love, and matrimony by four bestselling authors.

Can He Bake a Cherry Pie? by Laurell K. Hamilton - Elinore has been promised into matrimony by her father to a perverted old man and she has decided to do the one thing she could think of to get out of the marriage...Go on a quest to free the captured Prince.  She will either die in the trying as so many others have done or free him and become his bride and Queen.  Either one will grant her escape from her "intended".  As she sets on her quest, she faces many trials and at the end the biggest one is dealing with pompous prince once he is found but in the end, she gets her greatest wish....freedom.

The Shadow of Mist by Yasmine Galenorn - Siobhan, the selkie, finally has everything she ever dreamed of. She is pregnant by the man she loves with a daughter and planning their nuptials.  Then with one phone call, it all comes crashing down around her as the life she had fled over a century ago has caught up to her and is threatening to kill her love and unborn child.  With no one else to turn to, she calls the D'Artigo sisters and in the process she learns more about her past than she ever could have guessed.

The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie M. Liu - Sally's father, the King, is having difficulties along his border and has decided to fix it the only way he can by promising her in marriage to a powerful warlord who has a reputation for cruelty beyond measure.  To keep this from happening, she runs to the Tangleroot Palace, a wood filled with magic and danger after an evil Witch was imprisoned there in her own magic.  Before she can enter it, she finds a group of traveling entertainers who look after her and travel with her for a bit.  One, Mikel, is enchanting beyond what he can do with sleight of hand but she knows that there can be nothing between them and her father would kill Mikel if he suspected anything so she runs from that towards The Tangleroot Palace again.  There she confronts the Witch and her heart.  Maybe the Warlord wouldn't have been so bad after all?

The Wrong Bridegroom by Sharon Shinn - Princess Olivia has been betrothed to Harwin since they were children but as the time grows nearer, she finds that she cannot stand the thought of being married to plain and stoic Harwin so she convinces her father to find her another suitor.  The King holds a competition but two manage to win their way through every event: Harwin and the traveler boy with magic she has become infatuated with, Darius.  She is allowed to choose and picks Darius and is given a month to get to know her betrothed better but once they hit the road, she finds that Darius may be too much of what he seems and Harwin is not as bad as she once thought.

I was honestly amazed at how wonderful all these tales were.  I had never read anything by the later two authors although I have some of Ms. Liu's books on my to-read pile but I think I need to find Sharon Shinn as well.  A truly fabulous set of fantasy tales.

Page count: 393p/9,474p ytd/153,894p lifetime

36:120 Goofballs #1: The Crazy Case of the Missing Thunder by Tony Abbott

The first in a series about a group of kids who form the Goofball Private Eyes.  Together the four of them look for clues and solve mysteries.  Yes, they do have a dog who sometimes sniffs things out although I haven't read of him talking or getting Scooby-snacks yet.  They have just come off their biggest case yet by solving the mystery of the missing pizza when they get a call from the richest person in town about a new case.  When they arrive, they find out that his pony went missing that morning and the Goofballs are on the case!

It's another cute book by Tony Abbott.  Lots of fast paced action with humor liberally thrown in for the 7-9yr old set.  My 7yr old has declared that this is his favorite author ever and he must read everything by him and by extension, so must I.

Page count: 101p/9,081p ytd/153,501p lifetime

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

35:120 Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

The 7th in the Mercy Thompson series.  Mercy has finally recovered from her honeymoon and is trying to settle into her most demanding role, that of step-mother to Jesse.  To this end, she has actually agreed to do Black Friday shopping which is something she would normally avoid like the plague but when driving to another store, she is hit with a wave of pain and almost passes out and ends up in a car accident.  When she recovers, she heads back to her shop to figure out transportation and finds Ben, a pack wolf, there and injured who tells her that the entire pack has been captured and he had barely managed to escape.  Now Mercy must figure out who has her husband and their pack and why and how much danger they are in, not just the pack but her and Jesse as well.  Can Mercy find them in time and what sort of shape will they be in? And are these new assassins that are after her part of the same plot or a new threat altogether?

Another incredible book by Ms. Briggs.  It's been two years since the last Mercy Thompson book and while I've read some of her other books in the interim, I just love Mercy and have really missed her stories.  This is another can't miss in the Urban Fantasy field!

Page count: 343p/8,980p ytd/153,400p lifetime

Monday, March 18, 2013

34:120 The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland - For a Little While by Catherynne Valente

A prequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making but one that really should be read after you read that book first.  In this book we find Mallow, a magician residing outside a small village in Fairyland.  She's a practical girl and does practical magic and while she would like to learn some other types of magic, that hasn't happened yet but she will trade with the villagers for interesting books.    It's the story of how this very practical girl ends up as Queen Mallow whom everyone loved.

A charming tale in a beautifully imaginative land.  I hope that there are more of these that tell us more about Mallow's time as Queen.

Page count: 33p/8,637p ytd/153,057p lifetime

33:120 Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

The 2nd book in the Incryptid series.  Verity's sometime boyfriend and Covenant of St. George member, Dominic, has just informed her that more senior members of the Covenant are being sent to NY to check on his work and to determine if the city is right for a purging.  Verity must now place herself and her friends on the line in order to save the Cryptid population from complete and total destruction, all while being unsure which side of things Dominic comes down on.  To make matter more complicated, when the Covenant members show up, one is Verity's cousin from the branch of the family that stayed with the Covenant and considers the rest traitors.  With almost no family in town, can Verity keep those under her protection safe from harm or at least slow down the Covenant long enough to get them all to safety or has she finally been outgunned?

I really like Verity and the Aeslin Mice.  OMG!  The Aeslin Mice which are just too awesome for words.  I like the Price family in general.  The one thing I was sad to see what the lack of her dance career as that has now fallen by the wayside as her dedication to the Cryptid population has soared.  It was one of the things that made her truly unique both in her family and simply in the Urban Fantasy genre.  I understand the reasoning for it but I was still sad to see it go.  It will be interesting to see how things go with the next two books as those will be from Alex's POV although I'm hoping that just because they will focus on a different main character with a different voice doesn't mean that we won't still see Verity.

Page count: 353p/8,604p ytd/153,024p  lifetime

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

32:120 Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Kid book club.  A series of poems written by a young girl in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl.  The family farm is failing due to the dust storms and then an accident kills her mother and unborn baby brother and leaves her hands so scarred that her only source of comfort, playing the piano, is lost to her as is her father after the tragedy.  It's her story of the aftermath and moving forward.

I can see why it won so many awards but the style didn't appeal to me and I found the entire thing bleak and depressing.  I've read books about Jews in Nazi Germany that were more lighthearted and hopeful than this one but I will admit that it captured the mood masterfully.

Page count: 227p/8,251p ytd/152,671p lifetime

31:120 Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Book club read.  Bernadette was considered an incredibly gifted and talented artist and architect 20yrs but something happened and now she lives in a house that is falling apart in Seattle with her husband (a MS exec) and her 8th grade daughter.  She hides from people and the world as much as she can, hates everything about Seattle and most especially the other mothers at Bee's private school whom she refers to as gnats.  Her husband works long hours and seems to rarely be home but Bee is her joy in a dreary existence. At the beginning of the book, Bee announces that she will be pulling off straight A's again and for her promised reward of whatever she wants, she wants a family vacation to Antarctica.  Bernadette flips but contacts her trusty online assistant to get things moving.  In the meantime, a feud is building up between her and her neighbor (and gnat parent) about the blackberry bushes in her yard and the lack of participation at the school.  To top everything off, one of the other gnats (and her neighbor's best friend) is now her husband's assistant and is whispering things into his ears.  Can life get any worse?

A book about Bernadette finding herself as much as anything else even tho she does go physically missing at one point.  A quick read but not one I found extremely interesting or compelling.  The characters were shallow and fairly uninteresting.  I felt a little pit of pity for Bee and Bernadette but that was about it.  Also the presentation was hard to get into at first as it starts with a ton of letters and emails back and forth between several of these people so it's hard to sort out who is who when you are first starting out.  This happens again at several points in the book but at least by those times, you have a better feel for who everyone is.  In all, not a book I would have chosen and not one I would read again nor am I compelled to go reading anything else by this author.  Not horrid but simply not my taste.

Page count: 320p/8,024p ytd/152,444p lifetime

30:120 The Silver Chair by CS Lewis

The 6th book in the Chronicles of Narnia.  Eustace and his schoolmate, Jill, have been pulled into Narnia by Aslan to find the lost Prince Rillian.  Unfortunately, due to Jill's showing off, Eustace is blown into Narnia proper before seeing Aslan and hearing the signs that they must look for if they are to be successful in their quest.  The owls learn of their quest however and pair them up with Puddleglum, the Marsh Wiggle.  A gloomy fellow but one who manages to keep them on the straight and narrow for the most part even with giants, sorceresses, and earthmen about.  Their travels take them to many places both above and below the earth but they persevere knowing that they are the Prince's only hope.

Just a nice adventure book.  It's more about the journey than rescuing the prince as that takes hardly any time at all but you can definitely see things being set-up for the Last Battle.

Page count: 243p/7,704p ytd/152,124p lifetime

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

29:120 Short Stories for American Students by Misc.

List of stories included:
The Monkey's Paw - by W.W. Jacobs
Young Goodman Brown - by Nathaniel Hawthorne
To Build a Fire - by Jack London
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - by Washington Irving
The Cask of Amontillado - by Edgar Allan Poe
The Private History of a Campaign That Failed - by Mark Twain
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge - by Ambrose Bierce
The Tell-Tale Heart - by Edgar Allan Poe
Bartleby the Scrivener - by Herman Melville
The Gift of the Magi - O Henry
The Necklace - by Guy de Maupassant

An enjoyable collection of short stories. It's really hard to look at this list and pick a favorite or one that I didn't enjoy to some degree. If you haven't read them, it's hard to beat this collection on the Kindle.

Page count: 179p/7,461p ytd/151,881p lifetime

28:120 The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

Set in the late 1930s as Hitler and the Nazis were rising to power and the persecution of the Jews was starting.  We follow Karl, age 11, and his family.  He has just been picked on for the first time at school and been in his first fight.  That evening, he has to help at an art reception at his family's gallery where he meets Max Schmeling, a champion boxer and German hero.  Max ends up making a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons.  Now Karl is part of something else, the boxing world, and with that comes the confidence to protect himself and his family.  But times are just beginning to get hard and will get much harder in the years to come.  Now that Max's fame has him hobknobbing with the Nazi's, what will that mean for Karl and his family?

An interesting look at how things began for the Jews in Germany and a story of bravery on the part of many different people.  A quick but powerful read.

Page count: 400p/7,282p ytd/151,702p lifetime

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

27:120 I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Clause by S.G. Browne

A follow-up to Breathers and billed as a Breathers Christmas Carol.  Andy has been at a zombie research facility since he was captured a year ago at the frat house with his other zombie buddies.  He has been experimented on and treated worse than an animal for that entire time.  Now someone from PETZ (people for the ethical treatment of zombies) has freed him and the other zombies from the facility.  Now on the outside, he wants to find a way to free his friends that were recaptured but how is one lone zombie going to accomplish that?

Another irreverent zombie tale in a fabulous universe.  It didn't have quite the same dark humor as the first but it was still a fantastic read with some sweet bits put in (and not just the breather recipes).  A must read for all fans of Breathers!

Page count: 208p/6,882p ytd/151,302p lifetime

Friday, March 1, 2013

26:120 A History of US: Liberty for All? by Joy Hakim

The 5th book in her US history series for middle school.  Better than some of the others.  There was some interesting information in there setting things up for the Civil War and while I appreciated learning more about the authors and artists of that time, I'm not sure how much Jon got out of that.  There were definitely parts that I felt could have moved more quickly but at the same time, I think it was good to show where the country was and all the things that went into creating the factions of North vs. South.  It wasn't just slavery although that was the main thing but industry, life styles, and exploration as well.

Page count: 219p/6,674p ytd/151,094p lifetime

25:120 Cold Days by Jim Butcher

The 14th book of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.  In the last book, Harry was a ghost trying to help his friends deal with another problem in the real world but without being able to actually talk to them or affect things or use magic since he was incorporeal.  At the end of that book, we find that he had been only mostly dead but Mab and Demonreach have managed to bring his soul and body back together again and now he belongs to Mab as the price for being able to save his daughter.  He is now her Winter Knight and her first order, kill her daughter Maeve.  Now Harry has to try and figure out how to kill an immortal.  He tries to pull the lone wolf thing and not involve his friends but they find out of course and most get in on the action.  Through them, he also finds out that his island, Demonreach, is under attack and bad things are happening there which if he doesn't figure out how to stop it will blow half the midwest to pieces.  Never a dull moment in his life.

I am starting to have problems with this series.  I like Dresden.  I like the other characters but it just seems like it's become extremely formulaic.  Butcher won't kill off his characters so you know no matter how bad it gets, he will find someway for them to get out of it.  He'll change them a lot like when he let Michael be severely injured and no longer able to be a Knight of the Sword, but there is never a fear of them dying.  There is always something that should be totally undeatable but somehow, Harry ends up with enough power and dumb luck on how to use it that he can defeat them at the last minute.  Yes, he gets his a$$ whooped but he survives and they don't.  I really enjoyed the last book in that it was different because Harry couldn't swoop in and save the day because he was a ghost but now he's back with more power than ever as the Winter Knight.  I wish I didn't like the characters so much as I could just turn away from the books but the characters are likable so I'll probably continue until the "give me a break" factor becomes too high but that looks like to could get here sooner rather than later if things don't change.

Page count: 515p/6,455p ytd/150,875p lifetime