Wednesday, May 29, 2013

71:120 Summer Falls by Amelia Williams

Doctor Who related, the book that is referenced in the first episode with Clara as full companion and ghost written by the previous companion, Amelia Williams (have no idea who really wrote it).  The Doctor is never mentioned by name although it's easy enough to see that Barnabas is the "Doctor" fill-in for the story.

Kate has just moved to a new town with school about to start and is trying to find things to do when she discovers a painting of the ocean and lighthouse of the new town with the words "When Summer Falls, the Lord of Winter will Arise" written around the outside.  She things nothing of it until one morning when she awakes to find that all everyone is gone except the cat and her next door neighbor's child and there is snow on the ground despite the fact that it is summer.  The cat apologizes for bringing this down on them but lets her know, it's now up to her to fix it all.  But can she find the missing pieces and figure out how to banish the Lord of Winter and bring summer back in time?

Only about 70p so very short and really pretty bland.  I read it because it was referenced in an episode and I thought it cool that they made the reference and had a book out for that reference but it was only ok.  If you are a huge Doctor Who fan you'll likely read it (and it is a quick read) but unless you are a true diehard that must read everything related to the show, don't bother.

Page count: 70p/17,706p ytd/162,126p lifetime

70:120 Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

A new group of heroes have arisen and not a moment too soon as the zombie apocalypse came upon them.  It's been a year now and a handful have gathered up the humans in Los Angles that they could have made a secure home out of an old movie studio.  But now zombies and short supplies are not all they have to deal with as a rival settlement has decided that they want to be the big shots and they have a surprising ability of their own that just might make that happen.

These aren't the usual group of superheroes which is sort of what I had been expecting but rather heroes designed and written for this universe (although many powers are similar but hey, that's not a big surprise).  I found some parts of the story entertaining and it was readable but there were a lot of slow bits where things just plodded along and I wasn't a big fan of the interruptions in flow to give a specific heroes backstory.  However, given that this was the author's first novel I'd be willing to check out the sequel and see if the pacing and flow get better.

Page count: 330p/17,636p ytd/162,056p lifetime

Friday, May 24, 2013

69:120 Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

The 3rd book in the Alex Craft series.  It's been a month since Alex's last big case and her foray into the realm of Faerie.  It's also been a month since she could have a conversation with Falin or have any contact with Death.  The Winter Queen is having raids done on Alex's house on a regular basis which is not helping her relationship with her landlord and roommates any either but what's a girl to do?  Open up a mystical PI firm with her newly returned from Faerie best friend!  They literally stumble upon their first case when they hear the screams as a man jumps off a building just a few blocks from where they are walking but it gets weird when Alex sees his ghost who has no idea how he came to be lying in a mangled heap on a car, dead. As she and Rianna begin delving into the case, it gets weirder and weirder as they find more suicides in the chain but when they raise the shades, there is no knowledge of how they died or the previous three days.  Alex is then warned off by Death and the other collectors but Alex never could leave well enough alone and this is her firm's first case...who could resist?

In all a fun read although there are definitely parts that drag a bit in the middle and then the end gets whipped through at a crazy pace with an ending that leaves you feeling like you just ran a marathon.  I think the concepts are well done and have some nice originality to them but I wish the pacing were a little smoother.  We learn a lot more about Death and the collectors in this one which was nice and a bit more of Alex's past is coming to light but things with Faerie were barely touched upon but with the ending that looks like it will figure prominently in the next book.  Really wondering where things are going to go with Death after everything that went down in this one too.  Hmmmmm.....

Page count: 371p/17,306p ytd/161,726p lifetime

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

68:120 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Actually a reread as it was my book club's pick for the month.  I read it just over a year ago and many of the finer points were gone so I read it again to refresh.  I remembered enjoying it so this wasn't a bad thing in the least.

Here's what I said before:
This is one that was recommended to me by my bookpusher, erm, local bookstore owner.  I had looked at it, picked it up, put it back, and walked away.  But something about it stayed with me and I ended up getting it for my kindle because I couldn't stop really thinking about it.

The book is simply like that.  It inserts itself into your brain, imprints itself there in it's folds, and just sits.  There are no loud bangs with this book.  No huge revelations, no explosions of action.  It simply is.  I can't tell you that I ever cared deeply about the main characters, except that's not the case.  I cared deeply about the circus itself.  It was it's own character and while it never spoke in words and was merely the venue, it was the most alive part of the book.  There were secondary characters that I cared about.

It's a quiet book but one that I found it easy to get lost inside of.  I would start reading and look up to find that my kids were done with their activity and it was an hour later and it seemed like mere moments.  And I would find myself trying to find more moments where I could read it because I wanted to escape into that quiet, beautiful, fascinating world.  I found the world itself rich and the language beautifully descriptive, hauntingly riveting.

This still stands.  I enjoyed it just as much with the second reading, all the little nuances, the rich descriptions, the quiet romance, the whimsical nature, all of it.  And again, I loved how quiet the book is.  I read so many fast-paced action adventure books that it's nice to have one that is just quiet and soft and doesn't have your heart racing but is more like a quiet summer's day, lovely and calm.

Page count: 401p/16,935p ytd/161,355p lifetime

Sunday, May 19, 2013

67:120 Ready Player One by Ernst Cline

It's the year 2044 and humanity is in trouble.  After using up available fossil fuels and other sources of power, there is now a severe lack of power, food, jobs, and everything else.  People are living in RVs stacked 20+ high with multiple families to a stack.  Most people are using OASIS as their escape, going into the incredibly complex computer world and living much of their lives there.

Wade Watts is no different.  A high school senior with deceased parents and no home life to speak of, he has spent most of his life in OASIS so when Halliday, the creator of OASIS, dies a few years back and announces that since he has no heirs his fortune will go to whomever can win his game, Wade figures it's his chance at making it big.  Of course, so does everyone else.

It's been 5yrs and many have given up.  Those who haven't are known as gunters and they study everything Halliday every said, did, or loved religiously in the hopes of finding the first key and moving on with the game.  Then there is IOI, the greedy company that has outspent everyone so that they can try to win the game first and control OASIS forever.  But now Wade has found the first key and gotten through the first gate and the game is heating up.  IOI will stop at nothing to win so how can Wade with nothing at his disposal stand a chance or will he just sell out to the big guys?

The plot is nothing new.  It's a typical poor trailer trash kid with nothing trying to win the big prize against the big nasty hugely wealthy corporation.  BUT...

This is so well done.  The entire book is an homage to the 80s and as a child in the 80s I found the whole thing hilarious.  I was actively laughing and smiling through more than half the book.  It was well-written, you find yourself routing for the good guys and really hating the bad guys, it's fast paced, it's fun, it's everything you want to see in a book like this.  Highly recommended!

Page count:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

66:120 Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

The 13th and final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  Arlene was released on bail even after being part of an attempt on Sookie's life and shortly after, she is found dead in the dumpster behind Merlotte's, strangled with Sookie's scarf.  Sookie is a person of interest until someone decides to 'help' the cops feel differently about her when she becomes the main suspect.  Now she's trying to prove her innocence all while dealing with her extremely cold relationship with Eric and a sudden houseful of guests.  How is one to be a good southern hostess in times like this?

Honestly, I'm glad the series is over.  It's really been drifting the last several books with very little happening and lots of pointless filler to make up for a distinct lack of real plot.  Sookie hasn't grown.  She is still constantly whining about how she has become a horrible person, blah blah blah, and then screams when someone comes to kill her or kidnap her or whatever yet again and then screams louder when people end up getting hurt or even killed in her defense.  Apparently tho, every male is just lining up for a chance to be the one to deal with it since she hasn't really been without a guy in her life since she met Bill.  I had a hard time originally getting into these books due to the writing style that seemed forced.  It got better and I was happy to stay for a few books but then the last few seemed like they would have been better all combined with the filler thrown out and the series ended around book 10.  YMMV of course.

Oh, and I totally predicted who she would end up with back in book one.  No surprise at all so I'm not really sure what the fuss has been about.

Page count: 338p/16,160p ytd/160,580p lifetime

Monday, May 13, 2013

65:120 The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich

This is the second time I've read it since it's a staple in our high school curriculum so I'm just copying my previous review here as it's just as true now as it was the first time I read it a few years ago.  There was so much detail that I had forgotten that it was a joy to reread and I look forward to reading it again in a few more years.

I have to start out by saying that I enjoy looking at the masterpieces and have been known to go to art museums from time to time but had really no clue about what brought about the changes in styles that we see through the centuries.  This was an incredible book for me to read in that it detailed how each style of art learned from and then grew from the previous.  It wove in not only the art and artists but the politics of the time that influenced what, how, and why they did it.  The book was of course filled with pictures to show us the details of things as art moved from cave drawings to modern day (that being the 1970s for this edition) but more than telling us "Hey, this is great art and you should like it", it told us what the art meant to the people of the time, to the artist that created it.  Did I like everything I saw in the book?  No.  There were pieces that did not appeal to me but at least now I can look at them and have a basic understanding of what it represents.  I also admired the way he added to the end in the later editions to tell of new discoveries or show how things had changed from the previous edition and to show how trends had altered yet again. 

This is yet another time when I am so glad to be homeschooling.  This is a book that I never would have picked up on my own but I truly feel that my life has been enriched by reading it and learning from it and I highly recommend it to anyone wishing to better understand the history of art.

Page count: 637p/15,822p ytd/160,242p lifetime

64:120 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Written as a series of letters to someone only addressed as 'friend', Charlie takes us through his freshman year of high school with all its accompanying ups and downs for him as he tries to find his way through it.  It's a tough time as anyone who has been there knows and for Charlie it's no different.  One minute he's on top of the world making friends, hanging out, going to the RHPS, and the next life is horrible as he deals with family drama or friend drama.  It's an incredibly difficult time for anyone and as Charlie tends to stay on the fringe, it seems especially so for him.  I saw a lot of myself in this, as I think most people who read it will, but it came out just after I graduated but my brother talked about how it was a lodestone for him.  Reading it now as a parent with one in college, one a freshman in high school, and two younger ones I found it a good reminder to me to be attentive and present for them as much as possible while still allowing them to find themselves at this critical time of their lives.  Definitely a poignant and powerful novel.

Page count: 213p/15,185p ytd/159,605p lifetime

Friday, May 10, 2013

63:120 Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance

The 5th book in the Cassie Palmer series.  Cassie is just days away from the ceremony confirming her as Pythia but her enemies simply see this as a reason to up their attacks upon her and if that doesn't work, go after her mother to ensure that Cassie is never born.  Ain't time travel grand?  Now Cassie is facing attacks in her own time and constantly being pulled into other times to try and save her mother as well.  The confusing part is where are all the attacks coming from now that she is on good terms with the Circle and Apollo vanquished?  Jonas, the new head of the Circle, has a theory on that and if he's right that means even more gods and demi-gods are going to gunning for her and if they win, it will bring about the end of the world.  No pressure or anything Cassie.

Started a bit slow but by half-way through it was impossible to put down.  Lots of backstory on Cassie, Mircea, and Pritkin which was nice after all the hints we've gotten up til now.  Cassie at the end is finally catching on to what all this means for her and seems to be growing up quite a bit and being much less the ditz of the day and more the Pythia she can be.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how things progress in the next book but at this point since I'm caught up in the series, I'm going to have to wait a bit.  *pout*

Page count: 419p/14,972p ytd/159,392p lifetime

62:120 Lover at Last by JR Ward

The 11th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  Qhuinn appears from the outside to have it all.  After having been disowned by his family, he is now living at the King's mansion, working side-by-side with the BDB, and has a young on the way.  He's miserable tho as he goes through every day watching the love of his life, Blay, go through his nights and days with Saxton, Blay's lover and Qhuinn's own cousin.

Blay has tried hard to move past his love for Qhuinn and outward appearances say he has but love is never so simple.  When Saxton finally leaves him after realizing that he will always be second place, will Blay find it in his heart to accept when Qhuinn finally seems ready to offer?

There is the obligatory stuff with the Lessor's, the Band of Brothers, and Trez and iAm but really, all of that is more about setting up future love matches and not really much about true storyline.  This is the book that many people (including me, I'll admit it) were waiting to see if Ms. Ward would actually write, a book about two males coming together and finding their HEA at last.

She did.  She wrote the book that I think many fans of Qhuinn and Blay wanted to see.  It was rocky but she didn't pull punches and she didn't shy away from their scenes or their love.  Their story was truly beautifully written.  It's a shame that she still tends to put in txt speak for no obvious reason in the middle of otherwise decently written thoughts or dialog and it really detracts from the story for me but at least she did the right thing for the story she has been setting up for so long.

For me tho, I'm now done with the series.  I can see that she has just added some new characters and is working to set up the next several matches to keep the series going but at this point, the world has become fairly pointless and I can see that she is just going to keep adding people so she can match them up and I'm just not interested.  This book really felt like a good place to end the series, a positive note and a beautifully written love story.  Thank you Ms. Ward.

Page count: 591p/14,553p ytd/158,973p lifetime

Monday, May 6, 2013

61:120 Questing Beast by Ilona Andrews

A short story by a favorite author.  A report needs to be written but on a planet where the native lifeforms like to eat the circuitry, that is a more difficult proposition than one might think especially when the unthinkable happens and your computer has contracted a virus that has wiped out everything.  Your only hope?  A nannybot that has also contracted a virus but one in which it needs to fulfill a specific condition to fix itself.  What condition?  It must find and deal with a Questing Beast!  A what?  A beast that is only to be found in books, not on Earth and definitely not on this planet.  If your report isn't done, your career is over and so is the last two years of work of several people.  Go figure out how to get yourself out of this one.

A fun little romp for no other reason I can figure out other than they could and it was fun.  I'm all for that.

Page count: 20p/13,962p ytd/158,382p lifetime

60:120 Sweet Poison Wine by Seanan McGuire

Another Incryptid short story about Jonathan and Frances Healy.  Now that their little one is a few months old, Jonathan's parents are insisting that they finally get a proper honeymoon.  Being that this is Jonathan and Frances tho, you can believe that they packed more than just a few nice outfits for nights on the town and are staying somewhere out of ordinary.  They travel to Chicago and stay at a hotel for Incryptids run by a family of Lesser Gargoyles who know Jonathan and his family.  They are having a lovely time enjoying the sites until they stumble across a mystery that is right up their alley.  Now the fun of a honeymoon can begin!

Another fun story in the universe.

Page count: 20p/13,942p ytd/158,362p lifetime

59:120 Married in Green by Seanan McGuire

An Incryptid short story about Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown.  Fran is pregnant, not a little pregnant but incredibly pregnant and the wedding is to take place tomorrow but when she comes downstairs, she finds that Jonathan has had a reason to wait, her circus family is there in all their glory.  There really can't be a better wedding present than that!  But when it comes down to it, will those she love approve of her choices or will they tell her things she would rather not hear?

Another wonderful piece of the back story in this series.  

Page count:  20p/13,922p ytd/158,342p lifetime

Friday, May 3, 2013

58:120 Curse the Dawn by Karen Chance

The 4th book in the Cassie Palmer series.  Now that Cassie has finally succeeded in removing the geas between herself and Mircea it doesn't seem to stop all the people wanting to see her dead.  You can now add a pissed-off god, Apollo, to that list.  The Vampire Senate appears to be her only support but considering that is only because they believe her to be under the control of one of their senators, that isn't much cause for celebration especially since it's that exact same reason that has so many others gunning for her.  Cassie needs to find a way to get some of these people off her back once and for all if she is to have any hope of continuing to draw air and the first one that needs to go is Apollo.  How do you go about doing that tho?

Lots more politics are getting played in this one which I found interesting and some of the interactions between Pritkin and Cassie were hysterical.  While things are definitely hitting the fan, it was nice to see that Cassie is working on getting a better handle on her powers despite a complete lack of training.  In all, a solid addition to the series and I look forward to the next one.

Page count: 386p/13,902p ytd/158,322p lifetime

57:120 No Place Like Home by Seanan McGuire

Another short story in the Incryptid universe featuring Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown.  Jonathan and Fran are finally back at the Healy homestead and Fran is trying to figure out how, or even if, she fits into this crazy world.  Jonathan definitely has an interest in her which he can barely figure out for himself and it takes a bit of parental advice and mild meddling for them to see what they have in each other.

A sweet little story.

Page count: 20p/13,516p ytd/157,936p lifetime

56:120 One Hell of a Ride by Seanan McGuire

Short story set in the Incryptid universe filling in some backstory about Jonathan Healy and Francis Brown.  The story starts on a train ride shortly after they meet.  Jonathan had found and been forced to destroy a Questing Beast that the owner of the carnival Fran worked had acquired but in the process had become endangered and Fran was forced to rescue him.  They are now heading back to Jonathan's parent's house as Fran figures out what to do next when the train takes a jump and the next thing either of them know, there are imps all over the train eating the other passengers.  Not exactly date time but you can see the attraction for the two of them as they fight to get the train back to the right plane of existence.

Nice to see some backstory on the family as I think Jonathan and Frances are Verity's grandparents (iirc) and you can definitely see some family traits there.

I normally wouldn't be including a bunch of short stories (like I'm about to here), opting instead to just put them all in under one entry but I've got a bunch of other things that aren't counting and these actually have separate entries on the book sites that I use so I'm going with it but yes, that does mean it's very likely I'll be upping my goal for this year.

Page count:  20p/13, 496p/157,916p