Sunday, November 30, 2014

111:120 The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

The 2nd book in His Dark Materials trilogy.  Lyra has found her way into another world as she tries to follow her father and stop whatever it is he is planning on doing.  Will, a child from our world, has also found a way into this between world.  Now the two of them are being forced together by outside forces that they can't understand to try and save the worlds.  Along their journey, Will and Lyra find the wielder of the Subtle Knife, a knife that can cut doorways between the worlds when wielded by it's chosen person.  Now Will, is the wielder of the Subtle Knife and Lyra has been told by her alethiometer that she must help Will find his father.  Their journey sees them teamed up with the Witches that have come through following their calling to help Lyra on her quest and they are headed North to find their fate.

It was an okay installment but I found that it went slowly and it took a while to come together and feel truly cohesive.

Page count: 288p/31,038p ytd/212,076p lifetime

Monday, November 24, 2014

110:120 The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

Set in Turkey in 2027, just before the 5th Anniversary of the day Turkey joined the European Union.  The day started out like any other.  People trying to find jobs, working, living their lives.  Then the bomb explodes and several of those lives are thrown for a loop.  In this story we follow the lives of the boy who has a heart condition that could kill him if he is startled, an old man who was once part of the political background being brought out of retirement, the antiques dealer who has had an enticing mystery dangled in front her, the commodities trader that has a plan to strike it big, the boy on the bus who has started seeing visions since the experience, and the girl who was on her way to a job interview and made impossibly late by the explosion and is now trying to get by.  All at once their lives are intertwined in ways they are not even aware of but ways that will have longer reaching consequences then they could ever imagine.

This was a book club book and not one that I'd ever heard of or had anywhere on my radar.  The premise sounded interesting enough so I plunged in.  It took me a while to get into the story.  I found it frustrating that just as I was finally immersed in a character's story and getting used to their 'voice' we would change characters to follow and I'd be thrown for a loop again.  I think it took me almost half-way through the book before I was able to hear each character's 'voice' clearly enough in my head to be able to transition fairly smoothly although it always seemed too short a period with each character for me.  However, once I was able to find the time to really sit down with it I found it hard to put it down.  The world was so rich and complex and the characters so intriguing I wanted to know where it was all leading.  I have to say that I would be very happy to read more by Mr. McDonald if they are of the same caliber as this.

Page count: 480p/30,750p ytd/211,788p lifetime

Friday, November 21, 2014

109:120 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Reading this as part of school with my 8 year old.  It's still such an amazing story and I love how even my boys have all been enthralled with the series.  Here's what I said about it 6 years ago when I read it for the first time:

It was sort of a weird read. I kept thinking back to watching the show (I know, always a bad idea when actually reading the book) and it was so wrongly different, especially the part where they spent a year there and then had to move on. I mean, really, that show lasted how many years???

I have to say that I did find it fascinating hearing her description of how Pa built their house by hand (a house just about the size of our master bedroom) and got everything started for a farm before they were forced to move on. One man with just a bit of help from his neighbors (who weren't within shouting distance even) with a wife and 3 small daughters. Wow is all I have to say to that! I think it shows a lot, both about the human spirit and about how far we've come from there and not necessarily in a good way much of the time.

I can't really add much to this.  I am still amazed at everything this family went through and how they worked together and with such grace through such hardship.

Page count: 309p/30,270p ytd/211,308p lifetime

Thursday, November 13, 2014

108:120 Priestess Dreaming by Yasmine Galenorn

The 16th book in the Otherworld series by Yasmine Galenorn.  Camille has been ordered to go on a mission to wake up The Merlin in order to ask for his help in taking down the older forces that have been sleeping for ages and for which the world is not ready to deal with.  Camille has no choice but to obey her Coven Leader but when she is told she must take Morgaine and Bran, allies that she has no reason to actually trust, things get far trickier.  They must be able to work together or their mission will fail and in the elemental realm they are traveling to, that could spell the death of all of them.

It was nice seeing some of the Arthurian legends work their way into this book but with their own special take.  It certainly makes one look at Morgaine in a different light, at least within the context of this universe, and sort of makes me want to go back and reread them with this new information (not that I have time but still).  For some reason, this book just felt short to me, probably because I couldn't put it down so read it in less than two days but I was a bit disappointed in the ending battle which just seemed rushed.  In all though, a fine addition to the series.

Page count: 318p/29,961p/210,999p

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

107:120 The African & Middle Eastern World by Randall L. Pouwels

Here's what I said about it back in 2011:

A look at the history of Africa and the Middle East from 600-1500AD.  Covers the rise and spread of Islam and the Islamic Empire and the influence it has had on Western Civilization.  Honestly, I don't remember learning much of anything about this area during my school years.  All I remember is European history and nothing else being covered so I found this incredibly fascinating to read.  My only wish is that there was more information on what was going on in Africa but so much of that history seems to have been lost because of a lack of written language.

Pretty much sums it up still.

Page count: 175p/29,643p ytd/210,681p lifetime

Sunday, November 9, 2014

106:120 Hollow Earth by John Barrowman & Carole E. Barrowman

The first book in the Hollow Earth series.  Emily and Matthew are not your ordinary, every day twins.  They aren't even your ordinary, run of the mill Animare (people who can control and animate what they draw and their imaginations) because not only was their mother an Animare but their father was the Guardian assigned to her which gives the twins Guardian powers as well to be more attuned to the feelings of those around them as well as other powers that they may not yet be aware of.  Unfortunately for them, their powers are developing sooner than anticipated and now those that control the Animares and Guardians are thinking it would be better for everyone if their powers were bound.  Not only that, but a secret society called "Hollow Earth" is looking to find them as well in the hopes that they can help unbind one of their leaders and help them find and unleash the monsters of the Hollow Earth.  Sandie, their mom, flees to their grandfather's estate where they should be safe while they are more properly trained but shortly after their arrival, the house is attacked and now grandfather is in the hospital and their mom is missing and there are people nosing around that don't seem to be what they appear.

So I admit, I was at first intrigued by this book because John Barrowman's name was on the cover as one of the authors (the other is his older sister) and I LOVED him as Captain Jack Harkness.  I bought it as a present for my then 12yr old (he's 13 now) and looking at the description, it looked like a good fit for him.  He read it over the summer and LOVED it so I made it a point to grab it to read as well.  The plot isn't anything new but it's well done and I loved the way it was the children's imagination powering things which shows just what a wonderful thing a powerful imagination can be which is something that I feel gets lost so often in today's society.  Yes, I'm aware of how often the word 'loved' came into play in this one paragraph but honestly, this was a lovely book with a great theme and well drawn characters.  I'm looking forward to reading the second and can't wait for the third to finally be released in the states.

Page count: 382p/29,468p ytd/210,506p lifetime

Saturday, November 1, 2014

105:120 The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire

The 8th book in the October Day series by Seanan McGuire.  This is a really hard book to summarize without giving away spoilers because almost the entire thing is spoilers so I will try really, really hard.  There are many things in Toby's life that she has taken at face value.  She really should have known when she found out that she was Dochas Sidhe, not Daoine Sidhe, that there was more going on in her life than she had been told and asked more questions but even if she had, not a single question she would have thought to ask would have prepared her for what happens in this book.  People are not always who you believe them to be and even death isn't as permanent as you think (as Toby should know).

This was such an intense book that it's easy to see why the author was telling everyone "This is where everything changes."  It certainly was a game changing book and it was definitely difficult coming back to reality after reading it.  Absolutely amazing and I'm now wanting to go back and re-read the entire series from start to finish to watch things play out with the knowledge I have now.  It won't happen this year but maybe next year...

Page count: 358p/29,086p ytd/210,124p lifetime