Sunday, April 28, 2013

55:120 Amityville Horrible by Kelley Armstrong

A novella set in the Women of the Otherworld series.   Jamie Vegas is a real life necromancer who plays a spiritualist on stage for a living.  After her last disastrous attempt at breaking into TV, she has decided that the normal show circuit is more to her liking until she is railroaded into another TV show.  With her lover, Jeremy (alpha werewolf) by her side, she squares her shoulders and prepares for the show but even before the show starts, things start going weird and the spirits are waiting for her around every corner.  But these spirits are unlike anything she has ever encountered before.  Can she lay them to rest before they lead her to her final slumber?

A nice foray back into this fabulous world.  I truly miss these books and am grateful for the new novellas that we get every so often to revisit those that we invested so much in.  This was no disappointment and if you have been missing this world as much as I do, it's a definite must read.

Page count: 120p/13,476p/157,896p

54:120 In Sea-Salt Tears by Seanan McGuire

Set in the world of October Daye, this short story focuses on the Selkies of Half Moon Bay and most specifically Elizabeth, a daughter of two Selkies who is repeatedly passed over for a skin, and their mysterious cousin Annie, a Roane whom cannot shift, who keeps watch over their traditions.  What Annie gives to Liz is without compare, or so she thinks for many years until that which has ever been denied her is finally offered.  Will she return to those who snubbed her over and over again or stay with Annie who has given her the love that was so often denied?

A very short story but one that gives some nice background to the world.  Best read after One Salt Sea and another amazing piece of work by Ms. McGuire.

Page count: 24p/13,356p/157,776p

Monday, April 22, 2013

53:120 A Tangled Web by Mercedes Lackey

A novella in The Five Hundred Kingdoms series which takes place after Sleeping Beauty.  Leo and Brunhilda are off taking a vacation in Olympia where there are no Godmothers, only the Gods who only sort of act in that capacity.  They are enjoying a lovely day of relaxation on the meadow when suddenly a man driving a chariot with 4 black horses kidnaps Brunhilda and then the earth opens up and he disappears with her back under the earth where he came from.  In another meadow, Persephone has escaped her chores and has met the shepard, her love, whom she knows is really Hades in disguise.  They wander down to the underworld wondering why Thanatos never showed up to kidnap her as Hades had arranged but all too soon, they find out what has happened and then they have to figure out how to get Brunhilda back above ground since she was carried away by 'death' and how to make sure that Persephone can stay as Hades bride while convincing her mother to bring the earth back to life in Olypmia.  And all must be done in accordance to the Tradition lest it take things amiss and come up with even more obstacles to thwart them.

A fun little tale in a wonderful series.  It was nice to see Leo and Bru again and I enjoyed the bonus of the Greek legends intertwined    A definite must read if you have enjoyed the series.

Page count: 91p/13,332p/157,752p

52:120 Embrace the Night by Karen Chance

The 3rd book in the Cassie Palmer series.  Cassie is desperately trying to find a way to remove the geis that was placed on her by Mircea but that has since doubled and mutated because her time travelling and time is running out as Mircea is now quickly losing his mind.  She has been seeking out the Codex Merlini, the famous book of spells of Merlin, as the only place that she has been told there is a reversal spell.  However, no one has seen the book in centuries and all leads have led only to dead ends and usually assassins.  There are many forces aligning against her finding it as well because the book is rumored to have spells that are more dangerous than she can possibly imagine and if she finds it, those spells could spell the end of everything.  Can she find the book and remove the geis before the Consul is forced to kill Mircea because she is rapidly coming to realize he is the one thing she is unwilling to live without?

A solid book in the series with some interesting twists that I didn't see coming.  I'm hoping that this book sees the start of Cassie starting to really trust herself and her intuition instead of constantly allowing herself to be led by others.  One of the characters made a good point that she is Pythia now, a major player in the supernatural world, and she needs to start acting like it.

Page count: 378p/13,241p ytd/157,661p lifetime

51:120 The History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage

A look at how specific drinks (beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, sodas) have molded and shaped societies in unimaginable ways.  Beer as one of the first forms of payment (along with bread) since the process made water that was previously contaminated safe for drinking.  Wine, the first social drink.  Spirits, particularly rum, which encouraged the slave trade.  Coffee, for the intellectuals.  Tea, the drink of the British Empire (after they were introduced to it by the Chinese).  And lastly, Coke which has become a popular drink the world over as well as a symbol of America and consumerism.  I found his weaving together of drinks with society an interesting way of presenting history and definitely more lively than dry textbooks.  There were a few times when I thought he stretched a bit to make the connections work and other places where I think the information wasn't laid out as well as it could have been but overall, an enjoyable book.  Not one I normally would have picked up but that's the best reason in the world to be part of a bookclub!

Page count: 322p/12,863p ytd/157,283p lifetime

50:120 The Last Battle by CS Lewis

This is what I had to say last time:

An interesting end to the series.  Not totally unexpected and certainly in line with most tales of that sort tho still not quite what I had thought was going to happen.  It's hard to put my finger on but this one didn't feel quite right to me.  I think perhaps it was the total lack of depth in some of the "main" characters this time around.  Even the ones we knew from previous books weren't as "alive" as they were previously.  Still, all in all, a very good series, very enjoyable with wonderful descriptive writing.  

And you know, I'm going to stick with that.  It just really wasn't very fleshed out in the manner of the other stories and was a bit of a letdown at the end.  When asked, my 12yr old stated that The Silver Chair or The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe were his favorites (with The Magician's Nephew very close to making that list) and it's easy to see why.  It's not a lack of action but more a lack of adventure of the self that this book is lacking.

Page count: 211p12,541p ytd/156,961p lifetime

49:120 The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter by Beatrix Potter

I'm really not sure how I managed to go so far into my life never having read these.  I had a few of them on my shelf as a child but really have no recollection of ever having heard them before I started reading them to my boys.  A truly beautiful collection of animal tales that delights readers both young and old.  There is a timeless simplicity to them and the artwork is so gentle in a world that is becoming more and more sensationalized, it's nice to return to that innocence.

Page count: 400p/12,330p ytd/156,750p lifetime

48:120 History of US: A Terrible War by Joy Hakim

Middle-school history focusing on the Civil War.  I still find her way of jumping around a bit disjointing but I think the presentation of the material worked better for this one than previous ones.  It allowed the horror of the war to be told but she broke it up with other information to keep it from being overwhelming for the intended age group.  There was a lot more information on the Generals and who they were both before and during the war which I think is good to show that none of these people were evil although the things that happen during a war certainly are but that they each thought they were trying to do the right thing for their side.  I found it to be fairly balanced over all with lots of good information.

Page count: 167p/11,930p ytd/156,350p lifetime

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

47:120 Blood Trade by Faith Hunter

The 6th book in the Jane Yellowrock series.  Jane is still completely pissed off at Leo (and Bruiser) for the forced binding and has been avoiding shifting to Beast because she is worried about how the binding was changed and has now bound Beast and how Beast keeps acting whenever Leo or Bruiser are around so when the opportunity to go somewhere else to hunt dangerous vamps and get paid big money to do it comes along, Jane jumps at the chance even as Leo forbids her.  What Jane doesn't know is just how in over her head she is getting and just how different and much more difficult to kill these new vamps are.

Amazingly fast paced and tons of stuff going on in so many ways and it was really a fantastic read. My only issue is I noticed more repetitive things than usual for this author.  I don't remember it in the last book to the same degree so I'm really hoping that it does not become a regular thing.  I think the author was trying to use it as a foreshadowing of some stuff that happens near the end but I thought it was overdone and actually made the ending have less of an impact.

Page count:  337p/11,763p ytd/156,183p lifetime

Saturday, April 6, 2013

46:120 Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach

It's been over 20yrs since California, Oregon, and Washington has seceded from the USA and formed their own nation, Ecotopia.  Their aims were to create a stable-state infrastructure to reduce pollution and their impact on the earth.  In all this time, they have refused to communicate with their mother country but at long last they are allowing a single reporter in to discover for himself what they have done.  Weston has been reporting for a long time in many different locations.  He knows how to be objective, get the job done, and go home.  This time tho, things aren't nearly as straight-forward.  What he finds both compels him and unnerves him right from the start: energy-efficient “mini-cities” to eliminate urban sprawl, zero-tolerance pollution control, tree worship, ritual war games, and a woman-dominated government that has instituted such peaceful revolutions as the twenty-hour workweek and employee ownership of farms and businesses.  

As he struggles with each of these new innovations he meets Marissa, a dominant personality among her group and one who shows him how life is to be lived to its fullest with all that Ecotopia has to offer to someone willing to grasp it.  Weston is constantly drawn to her as much as he is at first confused about her attitudes but through her and other 'friends' that he finds, he becomes more integrated with Ecotopia than he ever could have imagined when he first took on this assignment.

This book was recommended to me by a friend who had said after reading several dystopias, he was looking for an utopia novel but found them rather hard to come by but had eventually found this one and enjoyed it.  I was happily surprised by how much I've enjoyed it.  Do I think all of what was talked about would actually work?  No, but I do think there were some really good ideas that were worth considering how they could actually be made to work in our present society.  Technology has wonderful upsides and I appreciate many of them on a daily basis but I also feel like we have lost a lot and that in general people can be better than we are, both as a society and as individuals.  Would I like living in a society like the one described?  I could see it working for me, yes.  Would I miss certain things that I enjoy today, yes.  Did I find certain parts of the idealized whole it presented very 'hippyish', oh yeah.  And yes, there are definitely parts that I'm not sure would actually be workable.  I don't see this story actually coming true but I do find the whole thing very thought-provoking.

Page count: 194p/11,426p ytd/155,846p lifetime

Friday, April 5, 2013

45:120 Death's Rival by Faith Hunter

The 5th book in the Jane Yellowrock series.  Master vampires of other cities are being struck down by a strange illness and when one of them happens to be one that is loyal to Leo, he sends out Jane to start investigating.  As soon as she does tho, people start trying to kill her and these are not just ordinary thugs but well informed, well armed, and well trained.  When she returns, she starts to solve the mystery of who is gunning for her and how it's connected with the sick vampires and at first, all she can figure out it is that all goes back to Asheville.  Can she figure out what is going on in time to save her own hide?  And even if she can, what will it cost in the end?

Really, really love this world and was glad to be able to get back to it again.  Very fast paced but a lot of side-plots going on in addition to the main plot.  My only complaint is that the ending wrapped up too quickly and neatly when it came to the bad guys.  I was kind of hoping to see part of it resolved and then the main baddie be around causing more trouble for a few more books.  Thankfully I have the newest one here so I can find out where things do go from here very quickly.  Too bad I'll have to wait for probably another year for the one after that.

Page count: 310p/11,232p ytd/155,652p lifetime