Tuesday, December 31, 2013

140:120 Undead and Uneasy by MaryJanice Davidson

6th book in the Queen Betsy series.  Betsy is only a few weeks from her wedding date and still doesn't have a dress!  She's also now missing a groom and all of her friends which really sucks for her when she is at her dad and step-mom's funereal.  Where has everyone gone?!  Especially now that she is the guardian for BabyJon and has werewolves beating down her door looking for Antonia.  Thank goodness she has the right shoes for every emergency.

A little darker than previous installments and we see a bit more growth from Betsy as she has to deal with trying to figure out what has gone on but still on the fluffy side.  A fun read and I will be interested to see where it goes from here.

Page count: 258p/36,658p ytd/181,058p lifetime

And with that, I think I'm done with reading for the year. There will be friends over and the odds of finishing another book are slim. I hit most of my goals and will do my yearly wrap-up and new goals post in the next day or so. In the meantime, for those that actually read this blog, keep reading!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

139:120 The Spider by Jennifer Estep

Book 10 in the Elemental Assassin series.  It's a normal day at the diner when a package is delivered for Gin containing a dozen dark blue roses with milky stems and the cryptic message "Happy Anniversary".  The flowers trigger a trip down memory lane and we get a look at the novice assassin on her first major hit and one that taught her many life lessons she has never forgotten as well as filled her with guilt like no other.  

It was nice to see Gin back before we first met her in Spider's Bite and see Fletcher again.  Good story and plot although fairly transparent.  A few cameos put in for the die hard fans which was a nice touch.  My main complaint is the same one I always have with this series which is the long, repetitive internal monologues.  We got that your family was murdered but honestly, even brand new people to the series don't need to be reminded every other chapter.

Page count: 400p/36,400p ytd/180,800p lifetime

138:120 Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton

Book 22 in the Anita Blake series.   It's a day like any other until Anita gets a call from Micah's mother whom he hasn't spoken to in years in an effort to keep his family safe from Chimera.  Micah's father has been bitten by some strange zombie and is now rotting from the inside out and doesn't have long to live.  Anita goes with Micah to his father's bedside as his support but it's also her job to try and figure out what is going on with this new zombie infection and what she finds out isn't comforting at all.

The plot was decent and the number of sex scenes was down which are both good things but instead she has now replaced the meaningless sex with long internal monologues about how well Anita's life is working so she doesn't want to screw it up.  The book was mostly one long dive into how Anita's relationships are working and how much she has changed from who she was with the occasional foray into screwed up family relationships.  I had high hopes when Edward came along only to find that he has apparently gone into therapy and is no longer our favorite little sociopath but is encouraging Anita to go have sex and cuddle with her guys.  The main bad guy could have been much more interesting but again, that seemed to take a back seat to the relationships and emotional garbage.  And the repetition!!!  OMG!  Seriously, we don't need to hear repeatedly how Leandro has a family so can't be put into danger like she did last time or about JC's eyes or any of the other things that we were reminded of on a constant basis.  Also, seriously, get a better editor!  There were multiple places were it looks like a sentence had been changed but the old one not completely erased or something as they made no frigging sense whatever.  I would have to reread them several times to try and figure out what was trying to be said.

So why did I read it when I was pretty sure I was done with this series after the last book?  Mostly because I was still hoping to make my page read count for the year (not happening) and it was at the library at the same time I was with a lot of pages I could read quickly and I caved.  Big mistake.

Page count: 570p/36,000p ytd/180,400p lifetime

Sunday, December 22, 2013

137:120 Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Mr. Popper paints houses for a living but in the winter when no one wants his services, he spends his time researching famous explorers and fantasizing about traveling around the world.  Then one day, Admiral Cook answers his letter by sending him a penguin of his own from Antarctica and the adventure begins.  First, how do you care for a penguin in your home in the midwestern United States, especially when you are broke?  Then what about licensing and regulations?  And what to do when he gets lonely?  Mr. Popper has to come up with a way to deal with all these things and the adventure is on!

An extremely well done and cute book about an extraordinary experience for an ordinary family.  My kids love it and it's easy to see why it's a classic.

Page count: 139p/35,430p ytd/179,830p lifetime

Friday, December 20, 2013

136:120 Forbidden by Kelley Armstrong

A new story set in her Otherworld series featuring Elena and Clay.  Morgan has decided to take Elena and Clay up on the offer they made when they were in Alaska and come down to check out the Pack.  Unfortunately, when he makes a pit stop in a small town, he gets more than just dinner.  When he is found naked out in the woods and picked up by the local police, they search his things and find Elena's name and number.  When she gets the call, she and Clay go out there to assess the situation and bring Morgan back to the Pack.  Unfortunately, after they spring him from the jail they find their tires have been slashed as have Morgan's.  From there, things only get stranger and stranger as they are pushed into staying and since they are here, they start poking their noses into everything and uncover more than they bargained for.

I so miss this series and especially Elena and Clay as they were my favorites. This was a wonderful story with them, especially watching them work on their new roles as Alpha and Enforcer while not losing their relationship as husband and wife.  I'm glad that while the main story has been told, Ms. Armstrong continues to bring out these other side stories through a small publisher and hope there will be many more to come.

Page count: 212p/35,291p ytd/179,691p lifetime

135:120 Drinking and Conjuring Don't Mix by Stefon Mears

Wizards should never conjure after they've been drinking.  It seems pretty obvious but Perry thought it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Sort of like when he bound his familiar into a chalkboard.  Now he has a spirit of deception running around asking them difficult questions every time they try to bind it and their time is running short to banish it before it grows strong enough to summon its kin.  

A delightful little romp and a great lesson for future wizards.  Heck, maybe I'll have my kids read it as a lesson in why pretty much anything you think is a good idea when drunk probably isn't.

Page count: 30p/35,079p ytd/179,479p lifetime

Thursday, December 19, 2013

134:120 The Curse of Valassa by Stefon Mears

The war is over and now it's time for the men who left as boys to return to their villages with little more than what they left with if they return at all but for for two of them, that is not enough so when they meet a priest at an inn looking for protection on the road, they take him up on it.  What none of them know is that they will end up dealing with the priest's god's nemesis and the Curse of Valassa which has taken hold of the priest's village.  Whose God will prove the mightier?

As a short story the plot was basic and not much in the way of character growth but it moved nicely and the world set-up was well done and interesting.  I would definitely read more in this universe.

Page count: 42p/35,049p ytd/179,449p lifetime

133:120 Undead and Unpopular by MaryJanice Davidson

The 5th book in the Queen Betsy series.  Betsy is doing all the work planning her wedding with zero help from her fiance, Sinclair.  It's only a few months away and horrors! She doesn't even have her dress yet!  Her birthday is any day now and while she has protested that she doesn't want a party or presents, she is secretly hoping that no one listens to her (they never do anyway) and plans something wonderful.  Nothing is ever that simple in her life tho and now the European vampires have finally sent over a delegation but everything goes crazy when it turns out one of their members was responsible for killing and turning one of Betsy's friends years ago.  Add in a zombie in the attic and the Ant constantly leaving BabyJon with Betsy and it's non-stop craziness for the Queen.

I'm glad I took a break because I was able to just enjoy the book without completely wanting to strangle Betsy most of the time.  Admittedly, she does seem to do some growing up a bit in this one and may finally be starting to grow into her role as Queen of the Vampires.  Definitely a bubblegum book but a nice break from all the school stuff I'm having to read right now.

Page count: 286p/35,007p ytd/179,407p lifetime

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

132:120 Nothing O'Clock by Neil Gaiman

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary 11th Doctor short story.  The Kin have escaped the temporal prison the Time Lords put them in eons ago and are now buying up property all over the Earth using their temporal shifting techniques.  Now they want The Doctor to come so they can use his TARDIS to go back to the beginning of time to populate the entire universe with only themselves.  Will he figure it out in time or is the universe doomed?

Love Gaiman and he truly captures the mannerisms of the 11th Doctor in this one.  The story is quick but engaging, the Doctor quirky and energetic, and the whole thing a fun read.  The 11th Doctor is not one of my favorites but this is a great read nonetheless.  

Page count: 45p/34,721p ytd/179,121p lifetime

131:120 A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin

The 4th book in the Song of Fire and Ice (or Game of Thrones) series.  This book only follows a handful of the characters we've been reading about over the next interval of time: Cersei, Jaime, Brienne, Arya, Sansa, and Samwell.  We get a bit of some other minor characters and get introduced to a few new ones but not to any great extent.  Many of the questions left unanswered at the end of the last book are still unanswered at the end of this one.  The main thread is watching as things go downhill under Cersei in King's Landing and just how crazy she has become.  Kind of fun but not nearly as interesting when concentrating on her to the exclusion of almost everything else.  I'm very thankful that I do not have to wait several years for the next book and can only hope that Dances with Dragons flows better and answers questions and fills in some holes.  I enjoy the complexity of the world and don't mind the tons of characters but I think the story would have actually been much better served if he had kept writing about all the characters instead of breaking up the too big 4th book the way he did.

Page count: 753p/34,676p ytd/179,076p lifetime

130:120 Search and Destroy by Nancy A. Collins

The first new Sonja Blue in almost a decade and I was so looking forward to finally getting back into that world.  Unfortunately, this was a disappointment.  Yes, it was Sonja but all that made her different and unique was missing.  Her personality was bland and the entire thing was simply her hunting a basic vampire because that's what she does.  No other reason, nothing more to the story, just that.  After the other short story I bought that ended up just being a recycled story from several years ago with a few culture references updated, I'm not sure if I will try again or not to recapture my feelings for this series.  Sonja Blue was an incredible character and vampire slayer years before Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse or any of the others that we see currently but it doesn't seem like Ms. Collins heart is really in writing her any longer.  Her story seemed to be told and done and while I'd love to find out more, this type of thing is not worthy of her.

Page count: 63p/33,923p ytd/178,323p lifetime

Sunday, December 8, 2013

129:120 The Queen's Witch by Karen Chance

Another Kit Marlowe short story.  Kit has found Gillian again and this time has convinced her to help him discover the threat to Her Majesty before he gives her what she needs for her and her daughter to leave England altogether.

Definitely needs to be read after The Gauntlet as it is a continuation of that story.  Again, a fun little romp in Kit's past but has very little to do with the Cassie story line especially since Kit is such a minor character in it.

Page count: 26p/33,860p ytd/178,260p lifetime

Yes, I know I've been reading a lot of short stories lately. I've been trying to get some stuff off my to-read list and I've been doing a bunch of reading for the kids' school so short stories have been easier to just get through between all the other reading.

128:120 The Gauntlet by Karen Chance

A Kit Marlowe short.  Kit is looking for a witch to help him with a deception but when he finds the one he thinks will work, the Circle starts trying to bring the prison down on top of them.  In the process, Gillian, the witch, ends up becoming more powerful than either of them knew and that's when things get really interesting...

A fun little read but nothing spectacular.  Kit is not a major figure in the Cassie Palmer series but I've heard he figures more prominently in the Dorina series which I haven't read so maybe seeing more of him there, this would have had more relevance.

Page count: 52p/33,834p ytd/178,234p lifetime

127:120 Cold Turkey by Nancy A. Collins

A short story set in the world of Sonja Blue.  Sonja is mistaken as a regular human by a guy at the bar and proceeds to try and play human for him...until the Other takes over and proceeds with her own ideas of what constitutes a fun relationship.

I was disappointed as this was billed as being written in 2012 but really it was the same story as one published in 2002 with only a few things changed to make it more contemporary.  I enjoyed the story the first time I read it but wasn't happy to basically be duped into buying it again.  The additional story with it is the first in a serial that Ms. Collins is doing, "Absalom's Wake", was not enough to make up for the duplicity.  It was definitely not my cup of tea and not something I'll be searching out to continue reading.

Page count: 44p/33,782p ytd/178,182p lifetime

Saturday, December 7, 2013

126:120 Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Dina Demille is working hard to establish her Inn as a safe place and secure her place as an Innkeeper when something starts killing dogs in the neighborhood and she can tell that it's not going to be satisfied with that for long.  She talks to the new werewolf in the neighborhood to take care of the problem but when it doesn't look like Sean will, she decides that regardless of her position of neutrality she must take care of this menace to protect herself, her Inn, and her neighbors.  What follows just goes to show why you don't mess with the Innkeepers.

A new series by Ilona Andrews, the husband-wife team of the Kate Daniels series.  Completely new setting that has the feel of urban fantasy but goes more appropriately into the fantasy genre as our werewolves and vampires come from other planets and our Innkeepers like to go shopping among the stars.  I found the premise intriguing and well executed.  I liked that while there was some exposition it was woven well into the story instead of long dumps of it for no apparent reason which I think tends to help things flow better.  There is a lot to explore in this world, especially since when dealing with an Inn any race can stop by and stay so we are not dealing with even the same species book after book which opens up so many possibilities.  I look forward to their next foray into the universe, not as much as the next Kate Daniels book but that one is now well established and I'm well hooked.  *big grin*

Page count: 181p/33,738p ytd/178,138p lifetime

125:120 Shadowland by Karen Chance

A Cassie Palmer novella.  A bomb has gotten through all the security and blown Cassie to bits which sends John on a mission to kill his father whom he blames for killing Cassie....except Cassie is not really dead but instead stuck in a time loop thanks to her Pythia powers.  She is unable to escape the loop but even when she dies, she comes back and repeats the pattern.  The only way for her to get unstuck in time is to have all those who were in the room with her back together again and then stop the bomb from ever going off.  So much easier said than done when John was there but is off in the demonrealms hunting his father.

A fun little novella and my favorite part by far was seeing how Cassie develops when faced with the impossible scenario where only she seems to remember what is going on.

Page count: 54p/33,557p ytd/177,957p lifetime

124:120 The Ancient Near Eastern World by Amanda H. Podany & Marni McGee

Middle-school The World in Ancient Times series by Oxford Press.  Looking at the kingdoms of the Middle East including Mesopotamia and Babylon as well Hammarabi, Gilgamesh, the founding of the Jewish religion and Israel, the five great kingdoms and their relationships, the last Mesopotamian king, and the rise of the Persian Empire.

I really love how the book always takes time to explain how we know the things that we do, what we have found, and why we believe what we do about those findings.  It brings it alive for me much better than just a dry recitation.  There are also stories of people who lived during that time, not just the kings but the regular people as well.  Truly one of the most fun history series for kids I've come across.

Page count: 174p/33,503p ytd/177,903p lifetime

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

123:120 White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana Rowland

The 3rd book in the White Trash Zombie series.  Angel is working hard to get her life on track now that she's a zombie and will live much longer than she ever expected and it's actually going ok. She has a sort of boyfriend who is a cop and good to her, things with her dad are rocky but better than they ever have been in the past, she has friends who care about her and have her back, she has a good job that supplies her with brains, and now she is even studying for her GED.  Unfortunately, there is still Saberton out there who kidnapped her and forced her to create a zombie child, Phillip.  Now there is a zombie movie being filmed in her small town and things definitely don't seem quite right.  Phillip is showing up there and is in bad shape, people are chasing her down again, and the whole zombie-world seems to be going absolutely crazy.  Angel is going to need to keep all her brains about her to get through it all.

Ok, this series seems like it should be up there in the fluff department with the Queen Betsy books but it really isn't.  The characters grow and change from book to book and deal with situations as well as they are able.  Angel continues to take leaps and bounds in her development as we see what a huge heart she has but also what a good brain she actually has as she wants to learn more about the science behind the zombie parasite.  She doesn't want handouts but isn't above calling in favors when the situation warrants it.  I honestly really like her and how believable she is (ok, except for the whole zombie part).  A bummer I'm done with all her books for now and will have to wait probably another year for the next one.  I do have the first book in another series by the same author and I hope she takes the same care with those characters.

Page count: 311p/33,329p ytd/177,729p lifetime

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

122:120 A House at Cobb End by Karen Chance

A super short story in the world of Cassie Palmer featuring Pritkin.  John is searching for just the right house to bring his new wife home to upon their marriage in less than a month's time.  The problem is nothing seems quite right until he sees a listing for the perfect home only to find out that it's not supposedly available due to haunting circumstances.  Does anyone actually think this will stop Pritkin?

While very short, Pritkin's personality is very much in tact and we get to learn a bit more about his early childhood in this one.  A nice little read.

Page count: 10p/33,018p ytd/177,418p lifetime

Sunday, December 1, 2013

121:120 A Family Affair by Karen Chance

A short story set in the world of Cassie Palmer featuring Pritkin.  Pritkin's father has agreed to a deal with John where if John goes and recaptures this mega-demon, he will stop trying to kill Cassie.  Pritkin agrees but the chase he is led on is more than he bargained for and of course, once Cassie finds out about it she is bound and determined to go after him which is the last thing he wanted   Just how crazy will it get before the end...that is always the question when those two are involved.

A fun side story and I love seeing more of Pritkin.  Mircea has been so absent lately and I miss him but I've always been kind of partial to Pritkin so I like seeing more of his history and relationship with his father and his demon side.

Page count: 46p/33,008p ytd/177,408 lifetime

120:120 Day of the Dead by Karen Chance

A short story set in the Cassie Palmer universe but features Tomas who had been Cassie's roommate in the first book and then switched sides and disappeared after stuff went down.  Now he is back in his native town of South America hunting down his old master, the one who had turned him.  He knows that it's almost impossible for him to succeed but he feels he has nothing to lose at this point.  While scouting things out, he finds much more than he bargained for...

A fun little side tale in the universe.  Leads me to believe we have not seen the last of Tomas.

Page count: 52p/32,962p ytd/177,362p lifetime