Monday, March 31, 2014

37:120 The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by John Joseph Adams

Book club read.  A collection of new Holmes tales in which not everything has a logical explanation.  As in any anthology it was a mixed bag.  Some were phenomenal, some were good, some were fun (possibly not intentionally), and some were just meh.  In all honesty, I was expecting more to hit upon the fantastical and a lot more Lovecraftian twists especially with the introduction so I was a bit disappointed that only a handful went that route and most while seeming to be otherworldly ended up having a more common explanation.   I think my favorite had to be Gaiman's story, A Study in Emerald, where the Elder Gods had come to life and taken over the world 700 previously.  Such fun!   I will say, I enjoyed most of the tales and found it an amusing read.  Now I need to find some time to go back and read some more of the original tales.

Page count: 449p/9,037p ytd/190,029p lifetime

36:120 The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

Ok, so if you have not seen The Big Lebowski the first thing you need is go watch that movie now!  But honestly, I'm going to go with the assumption that you haven't been living under a rock for the last 15yrs and know who The Dude is.  He's laidback and in many ways almost the epitome of a Zen Master.  There is even now a whole group  of people called Dudists who strive for that mellow, go with the flow, vibe he has going on.  Jeff Bridges embraces the Zen Buddhist philosophy and Bernie Glassman is a friend and mentor and they decided to get together and let their thoughts run with teachings of the Dude.  The result is a very spiritual and philosophical book of two guys bouncing their thoughts and ideas of Zen Buddhism, Dudism, life, and all that stuff.  It's enlightening and thought provoking.  It asks nothing of the reader except to open your mind and listen and accept what you can.  It's also a fascinating look into the life of Jeff Bridges and to a smaller extent Bernie Glassman.  Definitely a worthwhile read.

Page count: 288p/8,588p ytd/189,580p lifetime

35:120 The Ancient Chinese World by Terry Kleeman & Tracy Barrett

Middle school history.  Covering China since earliest records and mythology through 589CE and the defeat of the Chen dynasty which led to the reunification of China.  Fabulous stories and such a rich culture and heritage.  I enjoyed reading this as much this time as I did the last.  I still contend that it's a shame that this is so much richer than what we give our high school students.

Page count: 176p/8,300p ytd/189,292p lifetime

Monday, March 24, 2014

34:120 Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

The 12th (and next to last) book in the Hollows Series.  Quinn has been gone with the girls to Elsabeth's so Rachel has been filling in as his bodyguard.  While on the golf course, she casts a minor spell to keep a ball from hitting Trent in the head and the ball explodes.  Turns out, it wasn't just Rachel or the golf course but the entire Chicago area that experienced magic gone awry with any spells cast or activated during that time working on an exponential scale.  Rachel starts investigating only to find out that there are waves of energy coming off the ley line that she created to save the Ever After.  Worse than all that, it appears that whatever is doing that is also causing all the vampires to sleep which is leaving the living vampires without protection or direction and they are running amok.  Can Rachel figure out what is causing all of this and put a stop to it before its too late for the entire city?

I absolutely LOVE this series and this was a fabulous installment.  I'm sorry that it will be wrapping up next year but I'm also happy to know that Rachel will be getting her HEA.  I loved that Rachel's friends totally had her back throughout this adventure, even when she was trying to protect them by going it alone and they wouldn't let her.  You can see the impact she has had on so many and it's a far cry from her life at the beginning of the series.

Page count: 423p/8,124p ytd/189,116p lifetime

Sunday, March 16, 2014

33:120 The Man with the Golden Torc by Simon R. Green

The first in the Secret Histories series.  Eddie Drood, aka Shaman Bond, may not agree with his family about everything but has always done his best to continue their work of saving humanity from the things that go bump in the night up until the day when he is declared rogue with everything that the family can throw against him wanting him dead and he has no understanding of why.  Now he is hurt and on the run, trying to find out why he is in this situation and the only ones he can go to are the ones he has spent his entire lifetime trying to take out.  Will the enemies of his enemies suddenly become his friends?  Possibly but even still, going up against the entire Drood family is a tall order even if you have the armies of the world at your back and Eddie certainly doesn't have that.

I enjoyed the Nightside series and apparently there are overlapping characters later in this series which should be interesting.  I found this one to be a really slow start and hard to get through so I'm hoping the series picks up.  The beginning was good but then the middle really slogged as we watch Eddie go from one enemy of the family to the next only to not find out anything and end up destroying them in some way.  Once, ok.  Twice, yeah, got the point.  I lost track of how many times it happened tho or even if he didn't destroy them, he just didn't get anything useful so it was basically a wasted journey.  Eddie is snarky and reminds me a lot of John Taylor from the Nightside series (badass and basically indestructible) but Molly has a lot of promise to be quite interesting.  I guess we'll see as the series goes.

Page count: 398p/7,701p ytd/188,693p lifetime

32:120 Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The conclusion to the Divergent trilogy.  Tris and Tobias have heard the story and are now determined to see what lies beyond their city and discover the truth, together.  When they get there however, the truth is more complicated than they had ever imagined and those they thought they would be helping are not nearly as benevolent.  To save those they love in the city and stay true to themselves, they will have to fight harder than ever before and risk more than they can imagine.

I really enjoyed this one.  The second fell kind of flat but this one seriously picked up and carried me away.  The constant twists and never knowing who you could trust or believe as you are with Tris and Tobias trying to figure out what is going on was well done and I liked that the author didn't shy away from the harder things but let them happen and the consequences fall out naturally.  My only complaint is that while technically the POV shifts between Tris and Tobias, the voice doesn't so I would sometimes have to go back and look at the beginning of the chapter to figure out who was 'talking'.  Overall, I enjoyed the series.  The world was unique and well done, the characters grew and were easy to relate to for the most part, and the writing while simple for even for YA was not boring but rather easy to read and be carried away with.  If you like dystopian novels, I'd recommend these.

Page count: 526p/7,303p ytd/188,295p lifetime

Saturday, March 8, 2014

31:120 The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

Short story with a bonus alternate ending by another author.  Rainsford, a hunter, is on a boat for a trip when he is thrown overboard and washes up ashore on an unidentified island that is inhabited by General Zaroff who has set it up as his personal playground.  It turns out the General is a well seasoned hunter who has grown bored with the usual game animals and even the more unusual ones and has taken to hunting humans and Rainsford is about to become his latest prey.  The question is, who will come out ahead in a game of this sort with such skilled opponents?

I agree with Ralph Lagana who wrote the forward and afterword and rewrote the ending that the original ending is a bit abrupt and leaves much to be desired.  Ralph did a fair job with what I read of his ending but it didn't draw me in enough to go out of my way to find the whole thing.

Page count: 59p/6,777p ytd/187,769p lifetime