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