Sunday, August 31, 2014

91:120 Visions by Kelley Armstrong

The 2nd book in the Cainsville series.  Olivia was hoping that now that there has been a break-through in her parents' case that they might get a bit of a lull in things but when Gabriel drops her off at her old house to pick up her stuff and her car, she gets her illusions shattered by the dead body left in her car wearing her clothes.  Now they have to figure out who the person in the car was, and when DNA comes back that it's not who it appears, the mysteries just keep deepening.  Olivia is becoming more and more aware that things are not quite what they appear in Cainsville but now the Omens have been coming stronger leading her places not quite of this world.  On top of that, the different sides are starting to make their presence known to her, demanding that she take a side and then all the answers will be there for her.  Olivia is not willing to make that decision yet since no side is willing to tell her anything until she agrees to more than she thinks wise but those that are trying to control her will stop at nothing including murder and manipulation of people in her life including her ex-fiance, James.

Sh*t just got real in this one and it's only the second book.  I could not put it down and now I'm chomping at the bit waiting for the next one which apparently doesn't come out for another year.  What the heck!??!  I want to know what the heck is going on NOW!!!!!

Page count: 448p/24,574p ytd/205,612p lifetime

Saturday, August 30, 2014

90:120 Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

The 2nd book in the Starcatchers series.  The Others are searching for the starstuff that caused all the problems aboard the Neverland and Slank is working with a new group under the leadership of a shadowy figure, Lord Ombra.  He takes them back to Mollusk Island not knowing that the starstuff was moved by Leonard Aster back to London but he's okay with that if he could get his hands on the flying boy.  Lord Ombra orders the boy left there as they return to London to search for the Asters but Peter has overheard their plans and stowsaway to warn Molly.  In his hurry to rescue Molly, however, he forgot the small detail of having no idea where she lives in London and London is a very big city.  His problems will not be over, even once he finds Molly because Ombra is searching for her and her family and will stop at nothing to find them in order to find the starstuff before the Return.

The boys and I really enjoyed the first book but this one really dragged at the beginning so it took months for them to get into it so I could read it to them.  About half way through, it picked up and then they couldn't get enough of it.  Ombra is seriously creepy and the thing he does with taking people's shadows and thus turning them into his puppets is not for the faint of heart.  I gave the boys the option of doing something different now that we are done with this but they can't wait to start the 3rd book in the series so I guess after a slow start, this has definitely redeemed itself.

Page count: 556p/24,126p ytd/205,164p lifetime

Sunday, August 24, 2014

89:120 Big Egos by S.G. Browne

So many of us have wished we were someone else, usually some one famous, to leave our boring mundane life behind if only for a little while.  Now thanks to Big Egos, you can do just that.  For $10k, you can buy a vial of substance that will allow you to imitate anyone of numerous famous people or fictional characters for a few hours.  Live it up and enjoy stepping outside of your own life.  What can it hurt?

Our narrator works for Big Egos and is a major user of his product.  It's getting the point where he spends more time as someone else than he does as himself.  Now he has his best friend hooked on them but since he can't afford the real deal, Nat's been picking them up on the black market.  Now it appears that there is a problem with the black market egos that is causing dangerous side-effects and our narrator has been asked to find those who have been using them and give them an antidote on the sly to keep things out of the news.  Of course, that means going to more and more Ego parties and it's getting to the point where he's not always sure who he is any more.  Can you lose your mind while becoming several other people?  He may be on his way to finding out.

There was so much going on in this book that I don't even know where to start.  It's insightful in strange ways, satirical, macabre in it's own way, with enough humor to keep it from ever getting overwhelming but you find yourself thinking back to the themes it brings up.

Page count: 367p/23,570p ytd/204,608p lifetime

Friday, August 22, 2014

88:120 The Rosie Project by Graeme Simpson

Don Tillman is a genetics professor who is socially inept and awkward.  His entire life is completely scheduled at every moment to make sure he is using his time with maximum efficiency.  He has decided it's time to find a wife but that dating is a highly inefficient use of time so he has decided to embark on the Wife Project by putting together a questionnaire to reduce down the number of prospective partners to only those that he considers highly suitable and he has enlisted his few friends to help him weed through the responses.  After asking this, Rosie knocks on his door and Don is assuming that she is a candidate his friend had sent along and is shocked when she exhibits traits that are most definitely not what he is looking for like smoking and a possibly only average IQ.  He is prepared to let her down when she reveals that she is actually looking for her father and was hoping that he would be able to help her in this endeavor and thus begins the Father Project.  The Father Project begins simply enough, get DNA samples from some perspective fathers and have Don test them at the lab.  When those do not match however, it turns into a much bigger project than either of them anticipated and their time together leads to more than either of them bargained for.

I have major issues with this book.  First, Don presents very much as an Asperger's or high-functioning autistic in many ways, possibly with OCD as well.  The author states that he is not actually at one point very late in the book but then Don goes on to compare himself to them in his lack of emotions.  WTF?!?!?!  Obviously, the author did not do his research in the slightest as it has been proven that most of those on the PDD spectrum suffer from being too emotional and a surplus of empathy that they can not process which is why they shy away from social interactions.  Most interaction is too overwhelming for them but it is most certainly not a lack of emotion.  Second, Don has had an incredibly scheduled life but is able to completely change absolutely everything about his schedule and self in a matter of a few days when he decides to.  Um, No!  Sorry but it's clearly stated that he has psychological issues even though they are not fully understood or diagnosed and a lifetime of habits like that would clearly indicate that his schedules are not an arbitrary thing that he would be able to dismiss at the drop of a hat (or the wink of an eye by a woman).  Again, showing the complete lack of research or understanding of these types of disorders by the author.  I feel that the lack of understanding and use of horribly wrong stereo-types of people with these types of disorders to create a "romantic comedy" is sickening.   I think the author should be ashamed of himself for going for cheap laughs at the expense of those with psychological disorders.

Page count:  305p/23,203p ytd/204,241p lifetime

Friday, August 15, 2014

87:120 Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Olivia Taylor-Jones thought the biggest obstacles in her life were her fiances future political aspirations. Sure she had been groomed her whole life with that as a possibility since her father owned an incredibly successful department store but in one night, her life is turned upside down when it is leaked that she is not the daughter of the Taylor-Jones but really Eden Larsen, the daughter of some of the most infamous serial killers who are currently sitting behind bars.  Now she has walked away from her previous life and is trying to figure out where she fits in now as she also gets sucked into investigating her birth-mother's story that they were framed.  Her search leads her to the town of Cainsville where strange things are afoot but what, she can't say.  She is realizing that she is becoming obsessed with omens and portents and more than that, they really seem to be foreshadowing events in her near future.  Now with the help of some new friends, she is starting to uncover the truth but down that path lies more secrets than she can imagine.

I loved Ms. Armstrong's Otherworld series but was hesitant to pick this up but my book dealer pushed it at me telling me how fabulous it was and how he thought I would enjoy it so I grabbed it and then decided with the second book having just come out to just go ahead and read it to see if I wanted the second one.  I was not disappointed and this book totally sucked me despite that it's much more of a mystery than I usually go in for.

Page count: 486p/22,898p ytd/203,936p lifetime

Saturday, August 9, 2014

86:120 Lucky Bastard by S.G. Browne

Nick Monday is a Private Investigator in San Francisco, or at least that's what he claims as his legitimate business.  In reality, Nick is a luck poacher.  He can steal your luck with a handshake and then sell that to whoever is willing to pay his price.  Unfortunately, his skills are catching up with him now as the head of the Chinese mafia demanding his services, someone claiming to be part of the US government wanting him to tag the mafia boss with bad luck, someone claiming to be a paying client for his PI services to find out who stole her father's luck (he did it) and someone else who is the real daughter wanting him to find the person impersonating her.  And that is just going down in one day.  Some days, it really doesn't pay to get out of bed.

Normally I love S.G. Browne's novels but as much as I thought the concept was interesting and well executed, I just did not like the voice of Nick. It really put me off the story since so much of it was focusing on his hormones and women's tits rather than all the other things happening.

Page count: 355p/22,412p ytd/203,450p lifetime

Thursday, August 7, 2014

85:120 Carniepunk by Various Authors

An anthology of 14 strange stories that take place around carnivals.  As with any anthology, some stand out more than others.  Here's a quick break down of the stories with my thoughts:

Painted Love by Rob Thurman - We follow some sort of entity that has hitched a ride with a carnie back to the traveling carnival but the carnie is a predator and murderer and has his sites on someone the entity has come to care about.  Not a safe place to be.  A bit slow but with a nice twist at the end that I hadn't seen coming.

The Three Lives of Lydia by Delilah S. Dawson - A young woman wakes up in a carnival with no memory of exactly who or where she is.  A vampire comes along and takes care of her but it turns around as she ends up bouncing to her other life and then back again.  No big surprises with this one but it seems to be set in an established world that I'm not familiar with so it may be that these characters have more going on that I am not aware of but this wasn't enough to make me want to go search it out either.

The Demon Barker of Wheat Street by Kevin Hearne - Atticus has brought his apprentice back to her home town for a quick visit on the condition that they don't run into anyone she knows.  While they are there, they end up at the carnival where they notice that something is very strange about the Haunted House.  It turns out there is much more going on there than anyone realized and they will be getting a lot more attention than they counted on.  This is an Iron Druid short story and while I have the books on my bookcase, I haven't read any of them yet but this story laid out the world nicely and quickly so I was able to get a decent sense of what was going on even without all the back story.  I found it engaging and the characters interesting and the series has now moved up on my to-read list.

The Sweeter the Juice by Mark Henry  - A story about a pre-trans in a world after the zombie uprising who is trying to get the operation but has run out of goods to barter with so is sent off to find an elusive new drug to act as full payment.  What she finds is much different than what she could have possibly expected.  This one was more forgettable.  The characters didn't stand out to me and weren't particularly likable, the writing style was bland, and the ending predictable.

The Werewife by Jaye Wells - A husband and wife went to the carnival a year ago and a month afterward the wife is a werewolf.  Now that the carnival is back in town, the husband has convinced her to go back with him to see about getting the curse lifted.  Instead, they find out that she was specifically chosen for that curse and she isn't the only one.  Interesting take on several levels and quite enjoyable.  I finished it in one sitting as I didn't want to put it down.

The Cold Girl by Rachel Cain - A girl who has fallen for the worst type of guy goes with him to the carnival and when she gets her fortune told, it's nothing that she wanted to hear.  She is going to die and it's going to hurt and she will be visited by the Cold Girl and will have choices to make.  What happens to her after that will depend on those choices.  What will she choose?  This one was disturbing on several levels but so very well done that again, it was hard to put down.

A Duet with Darkness by Allison Pang - An Abby Sinclair Short Story.  An extremely accomplished violinist is rebeling against expectations and traveling with a small band of Otherworlders playing various venues when they happen upon a faire of their own kind.  She finds another violinist and feels the need to prove that she is better than him and enters into a dual for more than just a new instrument.  Honestly, I felt like there was a lot more subtext going on that if I had read other pieces in that universe I would understand but instead I spent my time reading this confused as to how things worked in the universe and why I should care.

Recession of the Divine by Hillary Jacques - A goddess has decided to forsake her duties and take on human form.  In her current life, she is an insurance adjuster who is checking out a carnival and finding things that don't add up.  Will these mysteries be what finally push her away from her human life and back into the fold of her brethren?  I found this one okay but slow.

Parlor Tricks by Jennifer Estep - An Elemental Assassin Short Story.  Gin has agreed to accompany her sister, Bria, to the carnival to help in a missing child case.  She is generally unimpressed until they get to the knife throwing act but what is more impressive is the amount of elemental magic she is feeling from the ring.  They know when they are getting too close when Bria is kidnapped and Gin is caged.  Admittedly, I enjoy this series so I'm familiar with all the characters and universe and this story did not disappoint.

Freak House by Kelly Meding - A Strays Short Story.  A djinn has gone missing and his half-human child is searching for him.  She has finally gotten a lead but it's one that requires funds that a starving college student can't possibly come up with when she stumbles upon an unlikely group of other supernaturals also looking for missing people who seem to have ended up with her father.  They decide to join forces and apparently the rest is history.  Again, I have no previous knowledge of this universe but things were well enough explained that I was able to follow along and am intrigued to learn more about it.  A nice introduction.

The Inside Man by Nicole Peeler - A Jane True Short Story.  Capitola Jones and her companions have been hired by the biggest, meanest supernatural boss in Chicago to find out what happened to his sister who lives in outlaying small town where everyone seems to have gone even quieter.  As they start investigating, they find that there is a whole collection of towns that fall into this category so they map it out and find the next logical town on that route and start staking it out.  It seems fairly boring and straight-forward until the clown shows up and takes her companions along with the town's inhabitants.  Now Capitola has to try and figure out what is going on and how to retrieve their essence by herself.  Another short story in a universe I'm not familiar with but felt right at home.  Well set-up, the magic in the universe was sufficiently explained without bogging the story down, and what seems to be a fresh take on it as well.

A Chance in Hell by Jackie Kessler - A minor demon has managed to obtain a soul and escape from hell.  She still has her knowledge intact and is occasionally called to put down demons who are not following the rules but she is in over her head when her friend invites her to a carnival and she finds that it's run by a major demon who is just itching to get his hands on her soul.  There was some interesting stuff going on and while I wouldn't run away from something else by this author, I'm not searching them out at this point either.

Hell's Menagerie by Kelly Gay - A Charlie Madigan Short Story.  Charlie's mom has left her in the care of her supernatural guardian who was unable to successfully talk her out of her mission to go to hell and find the hellhound puppies and their mom that she had rescued.  He figures it would be better to go with her and try to keep her safe but he didn't count on just how stubborn she would be when she found the menagerie of exotic animals and sentient beings trapped in misery.  Another interesting new author for me, not 100% sure I'll searching it out but not sure I won't either.

Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea by Seanan McGuire - The mermaid's daughter has been cautious her whole life to stay away from the water lest it claim her as it has her mother but now the traveling carnival she is with has come back to her mother's home town and her mother's adoptive parents have other ideas for her.  While this story is not actually set in any of Ms. McGuire's series, the mermaids are definitely like those we were introduced in one of the Incryptid short stories with Jonathan and Fran.  This story was another reason why I bought and read this anthology and it did not disappoint.

In all, a good anthology and I found a few new authors that I may look into checking out further.

Page count: 448p/22,057p ytd/203,095p lifetime

84:120 Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

The 7th book in the Kate Daniels series.  After her encounter with Hugh, she knows that Roland is going to find her sooner rather than later and she is frantic trying to prepare not only herself but also those she loves for the eventuality.  Now Curran is gone on a treaty mission and she is left alone when Hugh shows up in Atlanta and starts stirring up some serious sh*t between the Pack and the People and the Witches are telling her that Roland will be coming for Atlanta soon and she must do something to stop it.  She is now realizing that she is not strong enough, and likely never will be, to kill Roland but how is she to protect those that she loves and has sworn to defend?

This was a book that started off with a bang and didn't let up for a single moment.  Harsh situations and harsh truths abound in this one and there were many times when I had to put it down for a few minutes as I was going "WTF?!" but then I had to pick it up again almost immediately to see what was going to happen next.  There were several heart-stopping moments, especially towards the end but in the end it was amazingly satisfying with some interesting twists.  As the authors have said, this is the end of this chapter of the story arc but there is plenty still to come.  I just wish it was coming sooner!!!

Page count: 381p/21,609p ytd/202,647p lifetime

Friday, August 1, 2014

83:120 Night's End by Yasmine Galenorn

The series finale of the Indigo Court.  Myst has not gone away quietly but is instead unleashing her minions and ready to make a final stand. Cicely and Grieve have come too far to let this be the end of everything and everyone they hold dear.  Cicely has accessed the memories of her previous life as Myst's daughter to find their best hope of defeating her but it won't be easy and it will be even harder if Myst catches wind of their plans.  Even if they can defeat Myst, what will their lives be like after the war?

A good ending to a fabulous series.  I like that the end is something that was partially telegraphed in previous books and not just a "hey look, main character suddenly got tons of power to amazingly defeat main bad guy at the last minute" which I think is a total cop-out but one I've seen implemented too often by other writers.  This was war and people died and changed and not every relationship/friendship survived intact.  I wish Cicely and Grieve a long and prosperous life.

Page count: 304p/21,228p ytd/202,266p lifetime