Sunday, December 27, 2015

141:120 Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

A short story set in the universe of Kate Daniels but focusing on her ward Julie and pack member Derek.  Derek has set off to find out what has happened to a family that does work for Curran's pack and finds that the group that killed them was searching for a stone. As he investigates further, he finds that Julie is also searching for the stone now and the two team up to try and stop the warlock who is killing people to collect the stone pieces.

Pretty short without much set-up since it's assumed you know these characters from reading the Kate Daniels books which was fine.  I love getting these other stories about some of the other really interesting characters in the universe so I'm a total fan of this.  I have always liked Julie and Derek as characters but it's hard for them to get much time in with a regular Kate and Curran novel.  This did a good job of showing how their characters have been developing over time which was great.  I will say, I'm totally for the two of them hooking up in the future but if they just stay good friends, that's cool too.  I think this is definitely a must read for fans of the Kate Daniels series.

Page count: 64p/35,379p ytd/250,295p lifetime

Sunday, December 20, 2015

140:120 Small Magics by Ilona Andrews

A collection of short stories written in the Kate Daniels universe.  I think they have all been previously published but I'd only read two of them before.

A Questionable Client - the story of how Kate and Siaman met.  I'd read this one before and it definitely shows Kate knowledge, determination, and sense of fairness.  Oh, and Siaman is a dick from the start.

Retribution Clause - The company Adam works for has been hired to kill the husband of a murdered woman as part of a retribution clause in her will.  He and his partner have their work cut out getting to him with his excellent security but what they find is not at all what they were expecting.

Of Swine and Roses - Alena has been caught the eye of Chad Thurman, the son of a powerful family in their area.  Her family has pushed her to go on the date but she is very much uninterested but goes along for her family.  The date is going horribly when she spies a small pig running away from Chad's cronies and Chad yelling at them to kill it.  Alena decides it's now worth it to keep that pig alive and see what is so special about it.

Grace of Small Magics - Grace's family is under a bond of servitude to the Dreoch Clan for crimes committed generations ago.  Her uncle has had to do a few jobs for them and so has her mom but now they want Grace to help them in an arbitration challenge.  She is bound to go by the contract but she stands the chance to win so much.

Magic Tests - Kate is making Julie go to school and Julie is not a fan of this plan.  She finally picks a school from Kate's list but when they get there, she is put in charge of finding a missing school rather than just getting a regular tour. Kate knows just the way to get Julie to decide that maybe this school thing isn't as bad as it seems.  I've also read this one before and enjoyed it this time around as well.

In all, I enjoyed the collection although in my opinion there is never enough Kate and Curran these were fun forays into that universe.

Page count: 159p/35,315p ytd/250,231p lifetime

Saturday, December 19, 2015

139:120 Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

The tale told straight from the horse's mouth on growing up in England with a good and kind master, losing a good place due to illness of his mistress, losing the next place that wasn't as wonderful due to a drunk groom, being a rental horse, eventually landing in London as a cab horse but with a kind master only to lose that place due to illness of his master and end up with a cruel master who almost broke him before finally being bought by a kind old gentleman who even though Beauty was getting on in years saw his good breeding and took a chance which ends with him being gently used and well cared for until the end of his days.

A sweet, generally gentle book and one I loved growing up.  As an adult, it's a bit harder because it's easy to see how romanticized it is but reading it to my 9yr old was still a lovely experience.

Page count: 207p/35,156p ytd/250,072p lifetime

Friday, December 18, 2015

138:120 Abraham Lincoln by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

As usual, a beautifully illustrated book that tells the story of Abraham Lincoln leading to his presidency.  There was nothing really new in it but it's a lovely gentle tale of this important man and his upbringing for young children.

Page count: 64p/34,949p ytd/249,865p lifetime

137:120 The Power of Light by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Eight short stories highlighting miracles that have taken place during Hanukkah.  Very sweet tales to read after the candles are lit and driedel has been played.

Page count: 71p/34,885p ytd/249,801p lifetime

136:120 Chimera by Mira Grant

The conclusion to the Paristology trilogy by Mira Grant.  When we last left Sal, she had turned herself over to her father and the military powers.  Shortly after, people who were previously clean of parasites are turning into sleepwalkers and/or showing signs of multiple eggs due to the contamination of the water supply by Sherman.  Sal knows she must escape and get back to Dr. Cale, Nathan, and the rest of her people.  On her way, she finds Juniper, a child chimera, who may hold some of the answers to dealing with the contaminated water.  Unfortunately, Sherman has not been complacent and it's not long after Sal finds Dr. Cale that he attacks and makes off or kills much of the group.  Sal, Fishy, and Fang are left to try and mount a rescue of them and the only ones they have a chance of getting to help are Col. Mitchell and his men who are not likely to be very receptive after Sal's second escape but what other choice do they have? The broken doors are closing and Sal very much wants to find her way home.

A very action packed, well paced conclusion.  I was worried after the last book was so bogged down but it seems like there was just too much going on for one book so they broke some of it off  and then tried to flesh it out into another book rather than cramming too much into one to keep it a duology.  Understandable and this one did not disappoint.  The scariest thing is this world is very easy to imagine. We are lazy and having a tapeworm to take care of things for us seems entirely plausible. A company rushing it to market before it had been thoroughly tested? Happens all the time.  Let's just hope that none of Mira's worlds actually ever come to pass because they are scary places.

Page count: 488p/34,814p ytd/249,730p lifetime

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 1st Quarter 2016

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.

Still running behind in a few series but less than earlier this year.  Two in high school English this year is definitely cramping my reading time.  Next semester gets even more fun by adding in American Government.  *breathe*  I can do this!  Honestly, I'm looking forward to the three weeks of Winter Break as a time to finish Don Quixote for English 12 and then do some reading of my own.  The extra time between new releases I want for myself has helped but this next quarter ramps things back up again.  Time to get reading!

I get a few weeks into the new year before releases start coming out but then it's fast and furious starting with Otherworld Secrets by Kelley Armstong.  I'm a total sucker for her Otherworld works and can't wait for this one. We get new stories about Cassandra, Savannah, and Adam plus a new novella (please be about Clay and Elena!).  This is the second of three books of short stories and novellas that will come out for the Otherworld fans.

Release Date: Jan 26

Just a few days later, Driven by Kelley Armstrong is due out from Subterranean Press.  Davis Cain is part of a pack of mutts that are being hunted down and killed but when he comes to the Pack for help, Elena can't turn him away.  Besides, she has Malcolm Danvers in the Pack now so she might as well make some use of him.  Really hoping that decision doesn't come back to bite her in the butt.

Release Date: Jan 31

February kicks off with three releases on the same day in series that I'm very excited about.  First is Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter.  Jane Yellowrock is always an amazing read.  This is a collection of 19 stories in Jane's universe, some previously published and some brand-new just for this anthology.

Release Date: Feb 2

Next is Darkness Raging by Yasmine Galenorn. The next book in her Otherworld series, this one told from Menolly's pov.  It sounds like the war with demons is really heating up and we are finally getting back to dealing with that.  On the eve of war, Menolly's wife Nerrisa is captured by the demons who are demanding the spirit seals in exchange for her life.  Menolly will do anything to keep Nerissa safe and I have a feeling a pissed off Menolly is not what the demons are going to want to see coming.

Release Date: Feb 2

It also looks like Grave Visions by Kalayna Price will be coming out at long last.  The last installment in this series was back in 2012 and fans have been chomping on the bit for this one.  Alex is a grave witch and now that she has been outed as part Fae, she must choose a side in Faerie to come in on.  Now she has to try and figure out how to make the best of this situation.

Release Date: Feb 2

A few weeks break and then Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep comes out.  A long lost relative of Finn's has come into town and Finn turns from Gin's steady right-hand man to a starry-eyed doe.  Gin doesn't trust the interloper (big surprise) but Finn will hear none of it.  All she can do is stand-by and be ready to end this in a deadly fashion if anyone tries to hurt her brother.

Release Date: Feb 23

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne Valente is the 5th book in the series and I'm ashamed to say I haven't gotten past the first book yet.  The first one was amazing and I'm looking forward to them but just trying to find the time to read them has been difficult.  Hopefully this coming year!

Release Date: Mar 1

The quarter's new releases ends for me with Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs, the new Mercy Thompson book.  Mercy and Adam have been tasked to go deal with a troll but they also find a fire-touched human boy stolen by the fae many years ago. They are determined to protect him but doing so means defying everyone.

Release Date: Mar 8

So some really good reads by many of my favorite authors coming out to start my new year off right in terms of things to read.  Now to find more time to read!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

135:120 Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Abraham Lincoln by Mary Pope Osborne & Natalie Pope Boyce

First, I love that Magic Tree House comes out with these accompanying factual books about subjects in their fictional stories.  They are written to appeal to children which is always wonderful.  This book was no exception.  The focus of the book was much more on Lincoln before he became president, his early life and his journey to the White House than on the Civil War.  Even the Civil War part was more about its toll on him and what he was hoping to accomplish although they did mention a few battles and death tolls.  They didn't shy away from the horror and how many were killed but they approached it gently enough to not scare a young child and didn't dwell on it but did show how it affected the president.  In all, it was a more personal look at Lincoln's life than you usually see in history curriculum type things and was much enjoyed.

Page count: 117p/34,326p ytd/249,242p lifetime

Thursday, December 10, 2015

134:120 Midnight's Daughter by Karen Chance

The first in the Dorina Basarab series set in the same world with Cassie Palmer but focusing on different characters.  Dorina is the daughter of Mircea and a human when he was first turned, so as such she is a dhampir, half human/half vampire.  Prone to uncontrollable rages and hated by both groups few damphirs have long lives.  In Dorina's case, her father has done what he can to protect her once he was able and for her own part, she has done her best to utilize her rages to take down demons and vampires who were not behaving. This has been her life but now her father has a task for her. Her uncle, Dracula (yes, that one), has escaped prison and needs to be stopped.  He thinks she can do it, she thinks he's nuts but doesn't see how she has a choice. With the help of another uncle's scion, Louis-Cesare, she is bound to give it her all.

I'd heard good things about this series with some people liking it more than the Cassie Palmer series which I find entertaining.  I admit to being unhappy with the latest Cassie Palmer so decided to give this one a try.  It was a bit harder to get into but well worth it.  I'm happy I have the next book in the series waiting for me on my bookcase.

Page count: 373p/34,209p ytd/249,125p lifetime

133:120 Who Was Abraham Lincoln? by Janet B. Pascal

A children's history of Abraham Lincoln covering from birth to death.  As always, I'm amazed at how little is covered in the textbooks of my time and even those that I use with my children for school purposes.  We are so busy trying to push more "knowledge" that it's impossible to make the people we read about into real people and to be able to relate to them.  For that reason, I've been loving these books as ways to learn more about some of our presidents as we get to see what they were like as children.  I had no idea that Abraham Lincoln was a practical joker but hearing about some of his pranks definitely made it more fun for my 9yr old to understand him.  I so wish we could always do history in that way for all grade levels.

Page count: 104p/33,836p ytd/248,752p lifetime

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

132:120 Wings of Fire: Moon Rising by Tui T. Sutherland

The 6th book in the Wings of Fire series.  In the last book, the war was won when the Dragonets of Destiny crowned a new Sandwing Queen.  Now they are pledged to try and make sure that was the last war ever by opening up Jade Mountain School, a school for dragons of all clans to come together in peace to learn more about each other, each other's clans, and how to get along.  It's an ambitious project to say the least.  Moon is one of the first dragons signed up by her mother but she is incredibly worried because as a Nightwing she is already held in contempt by pretty much every clan but on top of that, she was born with the gifts of mind-reading and prophesy, gifts the Nightwings used to have but lost several generations ago.  No one knows she has these gifts in order to protect her but how will she handle living in a cave system with so many other dragons?  Moon isn't sure she is going to survive without going crazy when one voice starts cutting in louder than the rest and giving her instruction on the use of her powers.  That helps her keep things at bay until she is hit with the horrible vision of a schoolroom about to explode. Her ability helped to save some lives but others were lost and now she has been outed to her friends and teachers.  They aren't sure what to think but when she foresees more death and destruction, they decide taking a chance on helping her stop it is better than nursing their grievances.

This is definitely the start of a new adventure for a new group of dragons where the Dragonets of Prophecy from the first five books play a more background role.  Ms. Sutherland continues focusing on a new dragon's point of view for each book which allows us to know the different dragons more thoroughly.  I'm still interested in the world but the plot of this adventure so far is not gripping me in the same way.  My 9yr old is still enthralled, however, so I'll probably continue reading.

Page count: 336p/33,732p ytd/248,648p lifetime

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

131:120 White Trash Zombie Gone Wild Vol. 5 by Diana Rowland

The 5th book in the White Trash Zombie series.  In the last book, Angel had to take an experimental zombie drug in order to help save the group against Arbitron in NY.  Now she is back to her junkie ways, stealing from the lab and Baby Z's doses to get her fix.  Of course, all of this is bound to backfire on her but it does so in some of the most unexpected ways.  While she is dealing with that, there is also the ZombieFest that is going on in her hometown to help celebrate the release of the zombie movie that was filmed in her high school but then weird stuff starts happening around that as well.  Angel needs to get her head on straight since everyone else in the Tribe is off dealing with other crisis in other states which leads pretty much just her to deal with the stuff going down there. But hey, she's Zombie Angel and she doesn't know how to go down without a fight.

I have enjoyed this series more than I ever thought possible because I loved seeing the growth of Angel as a character so having her back on drugs made me really, really sad because while I get that it's common, I had so been hoping that she was beyond that now but I admit to it being more realistic that having had to take something she would get hooked again.  What helped make it easier to handle was that the people who cared about her, didn't just condemn her (as she had figured they would) but were there to actually support and help her through it.  I'm really glad it went that direction because I'm not sure I could have handled it had the author chosen to have them all turn their backs on her.

Page count: 325p/33,396p ytd/248,312p lifetime

Sunday, November 29, 2015

130:120 To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction by Joanna Russ

Read for book club, this is a book of essays collected from a few decades by Joanna Russ about her thoughts of women writing sci-fi.  She narrows down her selections for most things to less than a dozen authors and stories in most places.  The essays themselves are well thought out and articulated and me trying to summarize them in any fashion would be to do them a great disservice so I won't even try but will instead simply stick to my overall thoughts of the books.

Of the stories that Ms. Russ refers to, I've only read one of them as sci-fi does not tend to be my go to genre of choice and that is Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed.  With regards to the essays themselves, I found it to be a mixed bag.  Some of the essays were dealing with the rampant misogyny of the time and themes that play into that with many examples of stories and how they show it off.  Mostly these were stories that I have never heard of, likely for the reasons she was citing, and even if I had they were generally not something I would choose to read anyway.  There was also an essay on the Gothic romances, those that have basically turned into the bodice rippers of today, and which is generally a genre I run far away from.  That essay was the most painful as it went in depth on all the reasons I hate that style of book and gave many, many examples.  The essay on Mary Shelley was interesting and I enjoyed the one comparing different women's general Utopian sci-fi worlds to each other and how those differ from the general Utopian worlds of men at that time period.

Page count: 200p/33,071p ytd/247,987p lifetime

Saturday, November 28, 2015

129:120 Sideswiped by Kim Harrison

A prequel story to The Drafter, we really get more of Silas's backstory at Opti and his theories on drafting, how it works and how certain people are able to do it, as well as how he meets Peri Reed and the impression she makes upon him.

I almost think this would be better to read before reading The Drafter to get a better handle on what is going on with that power and how it works.  It was a delightful read and I really enjoyed it.  I'm very interested to see where things are going in this world and I also hope to get more of these backstories in the future.

Page count: 80p/32,871p ytd/247,787p lifetime

Friday, November 27, 2015

128:120 The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

The classic tale of a boy who along with a wild black stallion are the only survivors of a shipwreck and end up surviving together for a few months on a deserted island before a fortunate accident gets them rescued.  When the boy returns home with the horse, the neighbor who is stabling him is convinced that he could be a race champion and thus the training begins for both of them.  Unfortunately, the Black does not have proper papers to allow him to actually enter the race circuit and it looks like the dream of racing him may be dead before it even takes its first breath.  Hope is rekindled though when a race between the East Coast champion and the West Coast champion has been arranged to see who reigns supreme.  When they talk to the sports writer who has set up the race, they are able to bring him around to their side and since it's not an official race, the Black is able to participate.  Of course our story is a hero's tale and the Black wins in amazing style.

I've heard of the story all my life but never read the book or even seen the movie.  Considering how much I loved horses growing up, I'm not sure why I didn't.  However, as I've been working on collecting classics for my children through the years I did make sure it came in and the 9yr old finally requested it.  While there were no real surprises in the story, it was sweetly told with well written action scenes and without anthropomorphisizing  the Black, we were still able to clearly understand his feelings.

Page count: 276p/32,791p ytd/247,707p lifetime

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

127:120 El Hidalgo de la Noche by Carrie Vaughn

Set in the Kitty Norville universe.  This takes place many centuries ago as we find out more about Rick the vampire and get a glimpse of his relationship with his maker and other vampires that cross his path in the New World.  He was turned but given no real knowledge of his new race but finding a new group of vampires that belong to a family answers questions in ways he almost wishes he didn't know.

It was an interesting look at Rick's past which didn't really answer a lot of questions (other than his approximate age) but showed that he has continued to do his best to remain true to the ideals and beliefs he held when he was still human.

Page count: 30p/32,515p ytd/247,431p lifetime

Thursday, November 19, 2015

126:120 Reap the Wind by Karen Chance

The 7th book in the Cassie Palmer series.  Cassie is determined to save Pritkin from the curse he incurred on her behalf but it has been far from easy since she has to keep hoping back in time to try and find him before the curse hits so she and Rossier can be there when it does so Rossier can cast the counterspell.  So far, luck has not been with them and now their last chance is to jump back in time 1500 years which Cassie knows she can't possibly do until Rhea tells her of a special Pythia potion.  Now Cassie is obsessed with getting her hands on it but that is proving just as hard as catching Pritkin at the right moment.

This book has been longer than usual in the making and I really wish I could say it was worth the wait.  I wish I could, but I can't.  I found the plot overblown, the messes Cassie gets into and how she gets thwarted constantly are normal but there were even more instances of it this time, and now even the previous Pythia's are getting in on the "let's find and mess things up for Cassie" bandwagon which was really the only new thing.  There were no real answers although it was nice for Cassie to get a few clues on how to maybe start bringing the different factions of magic together but honestly, the book was overly long, boring, and drawn out to get only that tiny little bit of payoff after 500 pages.  It's a shame because normally I really enjoy this series but this one was a struggle for me to get through.

Page count: 514p/32,485p ytd/247,401p lifetime

Thursday, November 12, 2015

125:120 Daughter of Odren by Ursual K. LeGuin

A short story set in the world of Earthsea.  Weed has been leaving offerings at the stone for the past 14 years, waiting and watching for the right time for her father to be released and his revenge wrecked upon those who tricked him into it.  Now, her brother has returned to her as a learned mage and ready to take up the task to bring Lord Garnet home and restore them both to their rightful places as the children of the Lord of Odren.  Unfortunately, things don't always work out the way we so often hope for.

While set in Earthsea, this doesn't contain any characters from the stories and doesn't seem to relate to anything previous published (at least as far as I can remember) but was none-the-less an enjoyable, if short tale.

Page count: 31p/31,971p ytd/246,887p lifetime

124:120 Wings of Fire: The Brightest Night by Tui T. Sutherland

The 5th book in the Wings of Fire series.  Morrowseer's revelation that the prophecy was false and just made up to help the Nightwings has shaken Sunny's belief in everything to it's core.  Now a trio of Nightwings want to make off with her to buy their way into Burn's good graces but Sunny finds resilience and a resourcefulness she never knew she had to not only get away from them, but to then follow them to The Scorpion Den.  There she finds the mother she had always longed to know and more than that, she found her strength and purpose to actually fulfill the prophecy, even if the Nightwings thought it was made up.

This did a nice job of really allowing Sunny to grow a lot while still maintaining her more innocent voice but with strength when she feels it's needed.  It also did a nice job of wrapping up the War and allowing that story arc to resolve fairly naturally instead of finding ways to stretch it out.  It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Page count: 336p/31,940p ytd/246,856p lifetime

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

123:120 Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My second time reading it.  Here's the review from my first time:

</i>The long winter is over and  is over and opportunities are popping up all over for Laura.  She is offered her first job in town helping a seamstress which helps her earn the money to send Mary off to the school for the blind.  She continues to study hard even when she finds it difficult due to the distractions that being in a town offer like sociables and Literaries the first winter after that long one and then revivals, sociables, and the school exhibition.  Not to mention that Mr. Almanzo Wilder has been asking to see her home after these events.  Laura misses Mary terribly but at the end is offered a job as a school-teacher which, although only for 2mos, will bring enough money in to allow for Mary to come home for the summer.

Again, I'm always touched by how sweet these books are.  Times are simpler, if harder, but it definitely makes the simple seem gentle and sweet.  </i>

Page count: 374p/31,604p ytd/246,520p lifetime

Saturday, November 7, 2015

122:120 Fire Water by Jaye Wells

A novella set before Dirty Magic, set in a time when Kate was finishing up her last few things so she could be sworn in as a police officer.  Kate's biggest obstacle, besides the chip on her shoulder and her being an Adept, is that she has to do a week on the river patrol and get signed off on it.  She opts to do her time as quickly as possible but it puts her with the crustiest, crankiest, curmudgeonly close-to-retirement police officer she has ever met.  He wants to just get out in tact since he has so little time left but Kate is hot to prove herself and she's a hard girl to say no to.

It was nice seeing Kate as a fresh-faced new recruit, to see Danny as a kid, meet Baba when Kate did.  There was nothing really earth-shattering necessary if you are reading the books but give it a read if you want a little backstory.

Page count: 68p/31,230p ytd/246,146p lifetime

Friday, November 6, 2015

121:120 Autumn Thorns by Yasmine Galenorn

The first in a new paranormal romance series by Yasmine Galenorn.

Whisper Hollow is a special town where the line between the living and the dead is thin.  As a result, there has always been a daughter of the Morrigan there as a spirit shaman to help lay the dead to rest.  Kerris grew up knowing that with her mother missing, when her grandmother died it would be up to her to take up that mantle but that did not keep her from leaving when she was 18 to escape her grandfather.  Now, 15 years later, she has received the signs and knew ever before the phone rang that her grandmother was gone and she needed to return home to take her place but she is determined to do things her way and that means not only laying the dead to rest but also finding out what happened to her mother and father.  What she couldn't know was just what she would unbury and what it means, not just for her, but for the whole town and maybe beyond...

I had my doubts about this when Ms. Galenorn first started talking about but the more I saw with the teases and snippets, the more intrigued I became until I finally broke down and preordered it.  I admit to being a wee bit drawn to anything with Celtic mythology overtones so it wasn't a hard sell once I saw the Morrigan's name popping up.  It was a fairly fast read, long exposition was mostly kept to a minimum allowing things to unfold and be told in a more natural way which I tend to prefer.  The story moved well and the characters believable.  We had a few things get wrapped up nicely but there are many more questions left to answer.  I look forward to those adventures.

Page count: 314p/31,162p ytd/246,078p lifetime

120:120 Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelley

A sequel to Wind in the Willows written many years after the fact and by a different author.

Toad has a new obsession, hot air balloons, which leads our friends off to new adventures and even more when his nephew, Humphrey, comes to visit with his scientific ways and keen interest in fireworks and other explosives.  The weasels and stoats are lurking in the shadows as well so one must be always on their guard but even worse than that, according to Mole, is the female water rat that has caught Rat's eye.

The story was nice but missing the beautiful and descriptively flowing language that characterized the original and the extra side notes to explain things were more annoying than helpful but overall, if you miss Rat, Mole, Toad, and Badger and want to know what happened to them this does the job fairly well.  The 9yr old enjoyed the story and by half way through wanted more chapters every day.

And with that, I have concluded the books read part of my yearly challenge.  Still have a couple of new authors I need to get in and quite a ways to go if I'm to make my page count but there's still almost two months left so just maybe I can pull it off.  :)

Page count: 288p/30,848p ytd/245,764p lifetime

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

119:120 Andrew Jackson by Stephen Feinstein

A Book. A brief but in-depth for 4th grader biography of Andrew Jackson.  This covered from early life to his death in terms of events well but I felt was weak on explaining much of his personal motivations and thoughts on what was going on beyond keeping to his own personal code which was never really explained and only really referred to a little bit in the first chapter.  I did learn more about him than I ever did in my school years though.

I will mention that there were a lot of links to online resources that may have addressed his motivations further but that was outside the context we were looking at for 4th grade study of the presidents so we didn't utilize them and the book is headed back to the library now so no time to do so any more.

Page count: 48p/30,560p ytd/245,476p lifetime

Saturday, October 31, 2015

118:120 Deadly Spells by Jaye Wells

The third book in the Prospero's War series.  A new player is in town and seems to be trying to start a coven war by offing Charm, Abe's right hand man who is currently leading the Votary coven while he's incarcerated, and then beating Harry Bane, the leader of the Sanguine coven, almost to death before Kate and Morales show up and stop him.  What clues they have been able to gather points to A Morte, a Brazilian coven, trying to stir things up and get a foothold in Babylon.  The last time Gardner, the head of the MEA, ran into them it cost her entire team their lives and put her in Babylon on her last life in the organization.  She is incredibly motivated to find and stop them this time, as is her team, but some costs are too high to pay.  Kate especially is going to have to cross lines she thought she was done looking at when she got out of the covens and she is going to to learn truths that will remold her view of the past and what her future will be.

This series hit the ground running and each book seems to find a new gear to shift into.  The revelations that came out in this one were top-notch and while I was drawn in immediately, by half-way through putting it down became almost physically painful.  When does the next one come out???

Page count: 400p/30,512p ytd/245,428p lifetime

Friday, October 30, 2015

117:120 When We Come To It by Stefon Mears

Filya has been forced away from the profession he loves and is called to do in order to fight in a war of a mad king that has been going on for 10 years.  His only option is to desert and flee to the south but his current scouting partner is a knight who cares more about loyalty and honor, especially since his brother has already deserted.  Now they are caught up in a trap that could kill them both or release Filya.  The choice is his...

In one way, I really enjoy these short stories because you get what is usually an intense snapshot that seems like it is taken out of the middle of a bigger story.  On the other hand, they frustrate me immensely because I want to know the rest of the story around it darn it all!!!  Grrrrr!!!!

Page count: 14p/30,112p ytd/245,028p lifetime

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

116:120 Dead Dog By My Side by Stefon Mears

Harrison and Sheila are enjoying a lovely picnic.  Harrison is thinking this is the happiest he has ever been when Sheila asks the dreaded "deepest secret" question.  How can he tell her that the dead leave the grave for him and convince her of its truth?  Can she still love him knowing how the dead do?  And what about her secrets?

A nice little short story that puts relationship issues in a different light.

Page count: 21p/30,098p ytd/245,014p lifetime

Monday, October 26, 2015

115:120 Night Shivers by Yasmine Galenorn

Indigo Court novella.  Cicely and Grieve have been King and Queen of Winter for almost a year now and are finally starting to settle into their roles when they go to welcome a ship from the Golden Isle bringing new members for both the Court of Winter and Summer.  When they get to the port though, the ship crashes through it and while they find food and clothing for all who should have been aboard, there are no bodies or other signs of life.  While Cicely's thoughts immediately turn towards Myst and her allies, her head knows that it's unlikely to be Myst and they are likely dealing with a new threat.  Now she and Grieve must find out who is threatening their Kingdom and how they can be stopped.

I have to say that as much as I love the Otherworld series and those characters, I really enjoyed the Indigo Court series because it really had a good storyline that flowed well and didn't go off on tangents that did not move the main story along.  This was a nice return to that world with a story that answered a few questions and gives a continuance to the characters while setting up a new threat.  I'll definitely be interested to see where Ms. Galenorn takes it from here.

Page count: 106p/30,077p ytd/244,993p lifetime

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

114:120 Straying from the Path by Carrie Vaughn

A collection of short stories in all sorts of genres.  Some are her take on a historical events, some are purely fantasy.  A few were slow moving but most were intriguing and fun to read.

Page count: 196p/29,971p ytd/244,887p lifetime

Monday, October 19, 2015

113:120 Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells

Book 2 in Prospero's War. Kate is still reeling from having cooked dirty magic to save her brother's life and is continuing to lie to everyone around her to keep her secret safe.  While she is dealing with her inner turmoil. a new player has entered town, a man who goes by the name Dionysus who is bent on using the Blue Moon to create chaos on a seriously new level.  The Blue Moon has magic working with more potency and the crazies are definitely out in force but Dionysus is using them all to his advantage.  Kate and the MEA will have to work some serious overtime to stop him.

I've had this one sitting on my shelf for a while and I'm not sure why I waited so long to read it since I enjoyed the first one so much.  I enjoyed this one just as much.  The characters are somewhat cliche and Kate does a bit too much inner guilt monologing but the world is interesting and the characters do seem to be growing a bit and I hope to see more of that.

Page count: 370p/29,775p ytd/244,691p lifetime

112:120 Who Was Thomas Jefferson? by Dennis Brindell Fradin

Children's history of Thomas Jefferson.  As with the previous one we read about George Washington, we get a more complete life picture of Thomas Jefferson from childhood through death.  I like this as we are able to see more of the whole picture and place the man in his time which helps to give a better idea of who he really was rather than just the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and then bought the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon.  He dealt with a lot of tragedy and had a lot of flaws but that only makes his accomplishments stand out that much more which is something that is lost in more traditional school history books.

Page count: 103p/29,405p ytd/244,321p lifetime

Saturday, October 17, 2015

111:120 Wings of Fire: The Dark Secret by Tui T. Sutherland

Wings of Fire #4.  Starflight now knows how to find his tribe but the implications terrify him.  To learn that the Nightwings have been capturing and experimenting on the Rainwings is bad enough but now with Glory in charge of the Rainwings, it looks like a war may be brewing between the tribes which leaves Starflight in the position of having to choose between his tribe and his friends.  That is a hard enough decision under the best of circumstances but when Starflight ends up on the Nightwing island, he can see the starvation and suffering of his tribe and realizes they are only trying to survive in the only way they can think of.

The books continue to entertain and I enjoy the fact that there is character growth and bigger picture stuff that the characters are coming across and having to deal with.  While the writing is on the simpler side, I feel like the complex emotions being portrayed definitely elevate this series above much of the typical children's books.

Page count: 336p/29,302p ytd/244,218p lifetime

Friday, October 16, 2015

110:120 Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

A history of the people integral to the invention of Wonder Woman, primarily William Marston.  The book starts with Marston's early life but quickly goes into his college years and his going from law into psychology with a heavy emphasis on his form of feminism and spends a great deal of time on his marriage to Betty Holloway and his live-in girlfriend/second wife, Olive Byrne.

Honestly, I wasn't a huge Wonder Woman fan before this book.  I enjoyed Lynda Carter's portrayal in the TV show and I was always happy to see her on any cartoon simply so there was at least some female representation but she never made a huge impact on me and I've never read any of the comics.  Reading this book has at least helped clarify what doesn't appeal to me about it in it's original form and I'm still not racing to the comic store to check any of them out since Marston's brand of "feminism" was more fetish and that was heavily portrayed as long as he was in control of WW's comics.

On the whole, I did not enjoy this book.  Even disregarding the fact that I wasn't super interested in the topic, I found the author's presentation of the information on the dry side with a huge helping of my pet peeve, jumping timelines, generally to provide information that did not actually serve the narrative.  The parts of the story that would likely have been more interesting was the relationship dynamic between Byrne, Holloway, and Marston but that is barely touched on since most of those documents have been destroyed at Byrne's insistence.  The author obviously did a ton of painstaking research but then decided that all of what she found had to go into the book but she didn't really seem to have a good idea of her audience or what her own thoughts were on the people she was writing about.  Only in the afterword, written with a later edition after she was able to get a hold of some further writings, did she seem to come to some opinions about the whole thing.

Page count: 432p/28,966p ytd/243,882p lifetime

Thursday, October 15, 2015

109:120 George Washington by Ingri & Edgar d'Aulaire

Another short but well done history of George Washington.  Again, this had good information from birth to death along with the beautiful illustrations that the d'Aulaires are known for.  I have seen some reviews that make note of how slavery is dealt with (there is a picture of George riding his horse around the fields filled with happy, smiling slaves as well as other written references to of this sort).  Instead of shying away from this, which was a prevalent attitude of the time this was written, I used it to open up discussion of the realities of slavery with my 4th grader and how it has taken a long time for people to even begin to start understanding just how truly evil it is and how it's still impacting our society today.

Page count: 60p/28,534p ytd/243,450p lifetime

108:120 Who Was George Washington? by Roberta Edwards

Read for 4th grade history.  A short, nonfiction account of George Washington's life from birth to death very appropriate for this grade level.  Considering the length and audience, it wasn't very indepth but it actually had a lot of information about our first President's early life that I had never known despite reading all the middle school and high school history so that was a pleasant surprise.  Best of all, the 4th grader enjoyed it.

Page count: 112p/28,474p ytd/243,390p lifetime

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

107:120 Several Shades of Blue by Faye Larson

First published work.  Kris has been standing in line for ages to get his sister the new 50 Shades of Grey book, you know, the one written from Grey's perspective, because she is sooooo into the series and he's trying to butter her up even if he can't stand the series.  The only thing that has made the tedium bearable is that he can stare at the fine ass ahead of him in line.  Next thing he knows the incredibly handsome owner of said ass, Taylor, is striking up a conversation with him and all of a sudden Kris is listening to his Inner God and hoping that this goes in the direction he is desperately hoping it will.

First off, let me state that I do know the author personally and have been friends with her for many years.  That being said, there was waaaaay too much 50 Shades stuff going on for my tastes.  I couldn't read more than a page in Twilight and have never attempted it's more poorly written fanfic so that turned this into an immediate groanfest for me.  Unfortunately, I'm also not a fan of two people meeting by chance, having nothing in common, but falling into each other's arms.  I understand that this is a short story so therefore there really isn't any time for character development or for them to really get to know each other but I would have had an easier time if they at least both were in the line because they both liked the same books rather than it being one loving them and the other feeling they are complete and utter shite.  That being said, the writing, while needing a bit more help with the editing, was good with enough description to set the mood but didn't go overboard with it, kept the story moving forward at a good pace, and it showed promise for the future.

Page count: 22p/28,362p ytd/243,278p lifetime

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

106:120 Animal Farm by George Orwell

So this is now my third time reading it.  Here's the previous review:

This is the second time I've read this book.  Here's my review from the first time:

I will say that I think 1984 was a better book and definitely much more relevant to today than Animal Farm but it's very easy to put this one into historical perspective and incorporate the thinking of the time into the discussion.  I also think that it's a much easier book for 8th and 9th graders to get into and have fun with since because it's animals, it's not as dark as it would be otherwise (like 1984).  Of course, that's the whole point of his using animals in the first place so that plot device definitely works.

Reading it this second time with Matthew for part of his 9th grade curriculum and while I still agree with my previous review, I have to say that I feel like it's more relevant today than it was when I read it the first time several years ago.  My only question is are the pigs becoming more like humans or are the humans becoming more pig-like?

Now I'm reading it with Jon as part of his 9th grade curriculum and I feel like we are going even further in that direction and it's scary as all hell.

Page count: 240p/28,340p ytd/243,256p lifetime

105:120 Autumn Moon by Jan DeLima

The 3rd book in the Celtic Wolves series.  Cormac has lived for centuries in the body of the wolf even though his mind was that of a man.  The only person who ever treated him as a man was Elen, the sister of Dylan, and herself an outcast because she has powers no one else in her clan can understand but yet with all that power, she cannot call the wolf shape to herself.  She has used her powers to heal but one night, she learned that she has more power than she ever imagined when she ripped the power of transformation from the Guardian attacking her and her family and sent that power flooding into Cormac.  Now Cormac can shift between shapes but he is still lost as he tries to figure out the rules of being human and how to court the woman who captured his heart centuries ago with her kindness.  Elen is amazed at what her power has wrought but is afraid that Cormac will hate and fear her as everyone else has done now that it's revealed she has this power.  That thought scares her more than any other because he has been her only friend and companion for so long and now that he is a man, she finds herself wanting to take their relationship so much further.  Unfortunately, things are not always up to us to play out as we want as Pendaran, the leader of the Guardians, is very much interesting in the power that Elen wields and will do anything to possess it.

Ok, yes, this book is a romance even if you dress it up with Celtic mythology and wolves.  I'm not generally huge on straight romance books but this one is continuing to keep me hooked mostly because the women are strong and equal to the men but also because they don't drop out once they get mated (*cough cough* BDB *cough cough*).  Sophie is still there, fighting alongside Dylan and not being sheltered.  Rosa makes a brief appearance since the majority of the story is not her territory but she is involved in a few key scenes and not just a "makes token appearance to welcome them to her home" kind of thing.  The main story is continuing to be moved forward while the romance angle is served and even when captured and in a place where most of her magic doesn't work and she does need rescuing (yeah, okay, that bugged me a bit), she uses what magic she can to let Cormac know where to find her and once rescued uses her magic to cripple Pendaran so Cormac has a chance to take him out.

So is this great literature?  No.  The plots are pretty transparent and you know that they will end with a HEA for the lead couple but the world is rich and the characters interesting and the whole thing is not just a "guy sees girl and decides she is the one for him so must get" which bugs the complete crap out of me so I will continue to read until it turns into that or the series ends.

Page count: 304p/28,100p ytd/243,016p lifetime

Thursday, October 8, 2015

104:120 The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

A new Lisbeth Salander novel by a new author.  Lisbeth has never been to let a wrong go unpunished so it's not a big surprise to learn that she is trying to track down what became of her father's "business ventures" after his death.  What she has found is a lot of secrecy and cover-ups but most seem to have landed in the hands of "Thanos" so she does what she does best, starts hacking into every system that might give her information including the NSA.  Meanwhile, there is a computer genius, Balder, who has returned home due to fears of his work being stolen and to care for his son.  He recruits an incredible hacker to see if she can find out who has been getting their hands on his files.  Blomkvist has been having a hard time finding a story that stirs him but when he gets a call telling him about Balder and his mysterious hacker, Blomkvist is all ears.  He can't get over there fast enough when Balder returns his call in the middle of the night, all but promising him an exclusive story.  Balder arrives just in time to get a glimpse of a man in shadows with a gun and to find out that Balder was just murdered.  The only witness who may have seen the murderer's face, is Balder's extremely autistic son, August.  Now the cases all converge as it was hacker's working for Thanos who stole Balder's work and then murdered him for his computer and now want to tie up loose ends by killing his son before he can find a way to identify them.  Blomkvist and Salander have their work cut out for them trying to save the boy and unravel the identity of Thanos.

So apparently there is some controversy surrounding this book because I guess it's Stieg Larsson's family or girlfriend or someone says they didn't allow this book to be written or published.  I'm not sure of the details and I didn't know any of it before I saw it at Costco, bought it, and was already more than halfway through reading it.  I decided since I'd already bought it so someone was already getting paid for that, I was going to finish and give a review on the book itself not the controversy.

With that being said, I felt Mr. Lagercrantz did an admirable job getting the personalities of the characters into the book.  I didn't at any time stop and think "Hey, so-and-so wouldn't act like that" so but there were times when I felt there was something slightly off about a reaction or the way something was said.  The basic plot was good but it was very slow in the beginning and took a long time to really pull things together but once they did, it took off quickly.  In all, I felt it was a good installment in the series and if things with the family are resolved, however that works out in Sweden and their judicial system concerning these things, I would happily read more by this author.

Page count: 400p/27,796p ytd/242,712p lifetime

Monday, September 28, 2015

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 4th Quarter 2015

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.

Still running behind in a few series.  I've gotten a few under control but still quite a few that have gotten away from me.  *sigh*  Eventually I'll get caught up on those but it doesn't matter, I'll still be buying in my current series plus other things that catch my eye.  I'm thankful that this quarter is fairly light though since the 12th grade English is definitely on the heavier side.

Appropriately enough, October starts off with White Trash Zombie Gone Wild by Diana Rowland, the 5th book in the series.  When we last left Angel, she was becoming a true member of the zombie mofia.  There have been a lot of changes for her, mostly for the good, since she became a zombie but all of that is in jeopardy as she uncovers a plot to expose zombies to the public. Can she and undead friends put a stop to it or are they in serious danger of losing their heads?

Release Date: October 6

Yasmine Galenorn has a new series coming out as well with Autumn Thorns. Meet Kerris Fellwater, a former resident of Whisper Hollow, who ran away 15 years ago but can no longer ignore the signs that it's time for her to return and replace her grandmother as the spirit shaman of the town where the dead don't always rest easy.

Release Date: October 27

So speaking of series I really need to get caught up with, Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger is the fourth book in the Finishing School series and I've yet to even read the first book. That being the case, I really can't say much about this one except I am going to get to this series sooner rather than later!!!

Release Date: November 3

Reap the Wind by Karen Chance was significantly delayed but after two years with no Cassie, she's back! This time she is searching through time searching for Pritkin, with his dad in tow, to save him, hopefully without pissing off too many more demons or creating time paradoxes that are too awful.

Release Date: November 3

Amazingly enough, Chimera by Mira Grant is the last book in that trilogy and the last book I'm really looking forward to this year.  The implanted tapeworms are awake and taking over the human race. Sal and her family must come to terms with themselves and their nature if they are to have any chance of saving themselves.  I will admit, I found the last book a bit slow but am hopeful that this one where things have to wrap up will be better.

Release Date: November 24

103:120 Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck was feeling out of touch with America so decided to go on a road trip, just him and his dog Charley, to try and get a feel for the pulse of his country.  His preparations are extensive and we get a good look at them before he sets off.  We hear a lot about the start of his trip as he heads north to Maine from NY so he can travel the entire length of the country but once he starts west, we skip over large swaths of time.  He admits that the story is more of a feeling of the adventure he went on than completely factual (he is a fiction writer after all) but it still has a ring of truth to it.

I'm generally a fan of Steinbeck but man, this was a hard one to get into.  It traveled around the country without really going anywhere.  He spent the majority of the book lamenting the lack of personality in the places he went.  There were a few neat interactions with people but it was like sitting around the dinner table chatting with my dad for a few hours.  A lot of meandering, a few interesting anecdotes, but mostly no point to the whole thing.

Page count: 290p/27,396p ytd/242,312p lifetime

Friday, September 25, 2015

102:120 Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdome by Tui T. Sutherland

The 3rd book in the Wings of Fire series.  The dragonets of prophecy have still not found what they are looking for after visiting the Mudwings and finding Clay's parents and then with the Seawings where they found out that Tsunami really is a lost princess so now they are searching out the kingdom of the Rainwings so Glory can feel more vindicated about her race.  Unfortunately for her, when they do find the Rainwings, many of the common complaints she has grown up hearing from the Talons of Peace guardians seem to be validated. However, after spending some time with them she does learn many of the reasons why and some of them even make sense.  Unfortunately, she also finds that some are all too true especially when she finds out that several Rainwings have gone missing and almost no one seems to be interested in doing anything about it. Glory can't stand for that so she and her friends take it into their own talons to go searching the forest for clue and what they find is nothing they could have expected and will change how they view many things.

Another good installment.  The characters are growing as they are exposed to the outside world and learn more about the people and themselves which I really like seeing in any book but seems to be especially missing from children's books.  Simplistic writing style but not overly so and good pacing which is good because my 9yr old is very insistent that I read the whole series.

Page count: 336p/27,106p ytd/242,022p lifetime

Thursday, September 24, 2015

101:120 The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My review from 2011:

This one sees the Ingalls move back into town after hearing that the winter will be harsh.  Little did anyone know exactly how harsh it would end up being and how lucky they would all be to survive.  7 months of blizzards ended up completely stopping the supply trains and leaving almost the entire town on the brink of starvation.  But it also shows the determination and fortitude of the pioneers that they not only managed to find ways to survive and grow stronger from it but they continually tried to do so with a positive attitude.  Such amazing people. 

I think that says it all.

Page count: 334p/26,770p ytd/241,686p lifetime

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

100:120 The Ramayana (A shortened modern prose version of the Indian Epic) by R.K. Narayan

Originally written in Sanskrit in the 4th century by Valmiki, there have been countless versions written since.  Narayan drew on the work of the 11th century version written by Kamban to write a piece that was shorter and more accessible since the original is over 1000 verses long.  The Ramayana is an epic tale known to almost everyone in India.

Rama was a prince and when his father felt it was time to retire and enjoy what remained of his life, he chose Rama to succeed him but one of his other wives called in a favor he had given her for saving his life and insisted that her son be named as his successor instead and that Rama be banished to the woods for 14 years. Rama as a dutiful son will not hear of his father going back on his word and departs immediately accompanied by his wife, Sita, and another brother, Laxman.  While they live in the woods, a demon falls in love with Sita and steals her away.  Rama is completely distraught and searches high and low for her.  Eventually, she is found and Rama dispatches the demon with honor just in time for him to return home and claim his throne from his brother who would only accept being temporary ruler during Rama's absence because of his own mother's wickedness.

I really enjoyed the tale but I will state that I'm glad this version apparently glossed over the tests that Sita was put through to prove her purity and loyalness to Rama while she was held captive.  Just hearing about it briefly in the forward bugged me a lot.  I found some of the morals that Rama was upholding to be an interesting look at what was important during that time in that place and I find it fascinating that the whole epic is still given so much life today.  I'm actually planning to try and find a tv or movie version and see it performed live.

Page count: 196p/26,436p ytd/241,352p lifetime

Monday, September 21, 2015

99:120 The Martian by Andy Weir

First book by Andy Weir.

Mark Watney was part of the Ares 3 mission to Mars to explore the surface of the red planet.  After a huge duststorm hits where there base is located, they are told to evacuate but the communications antennae whipped around by the storm pierces his spacesuit and drags him away from the rest of the crew.  They leave and when he wakes up, he finds that he is all alone on the desolate planet.  Mark is a pretty resourceful guy so he starts trying to figure out how he can survive until the next Ares mission reaches Mars in a few years and get to where their base will be so maybe he can hitch a ride back home to Earth.

Meanwhile on Earth, everyone thinks Mark Watney is dead until one day he manages to get communications established once more through amazing ingenuity and then the entire planet is pulling for him to come back.  The big question is how in the worlds can NASA pull it off considering how much time and work goes into a Mars mission?

I bought this book for my 16yr old son who tends to prefer SciFi to fantasy (like his father) last Hanukkah but he hadn't read it yet and then my husband found out about the movie and asked if we owned the book. Upon hearing we did, he yelled for the now-17yr old to bring it to him.  He had is finished a few days later with many snorts punctuating his reading.  This lead the 17yr old to pick it up and devour it in a few days, again with many snorts punctuating his reading.  At this point, I told him to fork it over so I could see what the big deal was.  It's a scifi thriller, no doubt, but the writer does an excellent job of bringing in levity and snark before and after the tremendously tense scenes which helps keep it from being dark and depressing which it easily could have been.  The science seems plausibly sound and Mark Watney is a guy you can't help but like and admire.  In all, an excellent book and one I highly recommend.

Page count: 369p/26,420p ytd/241,352p lifetime

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

98:120 The Drafter by Kim Harrison

The first in a new series by Kim Harrison, author of the Rachel Morgan Hollow series.

Peri Reed is a Drafter, a person who can go back a few seconds in their own personal time line and change things.  She is working for Opti Corporation and believes that she is a good agent working for the good of not only her company but also for her government to protect people.  Her new assignment seems totally normal until the CEO of the company she and her partner, Jack, are infiltrating comes walking into his office telling her that he has the list of corrupt agents and her name is on it.  His security guard comes in and shoots Peri which causes her to Draft to save her own life and in that time period, her partner changes everything and then helps to push the new timeline into her head to make that real and keep her from remembering the old one.

Silas is an anchor, one of the first and incredibly good, who no longer works for Opti but for the Alliance, a group who is trying to take Opti and their Drafting program down.  He is sent to get Peri away from Opti and try to extract information from her for that cause but now Opti has managed to cause a Draft and use that to erase the last 3 years of Peri's life and Silas's job has gotten much, much harder.  Peri now suspects that she can't trust anyone at Opti but she has no reason to trust Silas either.  The only thing she really knows for sure is that she needs to figure out what has been going on in her life for the last several years before she can move forward.

This was quite a departure from the Rachel Morgan series and while I don't always jump into new series, even by authors I love, if they don't seem intriguing to me but when the concept for this one was announced, I immediately put the release date on my calendar.  It's not quite my usual genre being more mystery but the time jumping aspect added in piqued my interest and I'm so glad I read it.  It's very different and very hard to put down but there is also a LOT going on that you are trying to keep track of and many different twists and turns.  Apparently this is the start of a new series so while this one wrapped up nicely there are enough loose ends dangling so it will be interesting to see where the next one goes.

Page count: 422p/26,051p ytd/240,983p lifetime

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

97:120 The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

An enchanting world of fantasy where we enter into the life of Mole just as he decides to leave his normal abode in the ground for something new and different.  This leads him to the River where he meets the Water Rat who invites him to stay and thus a beautiful friendship is born and our journey starts.  Rat shows Mole all the joys and wonders of living on the River and introduces him to his friends including Badger and of course, Toad.  Toad who is not a bad sort but is incorrigible and reckless but has a heart of gold even if he holds himself in the highest regard.  Some of the adventures in the book are just Mole and Rat but when Toad enters the picture, that's when things really go off the rails.

My only previous experience with these tales were watching the Disney movie based on them, so seriously lacking.  I shared this with my 9yr old for our reading time and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  The language is exquisite in its rich detail and imagery while still being easy for a younger person to enjoy and figure out what the bigger words mean although mine was seriously upset at Rat calling Toad an "ass".  "What is that in a children's book!?" he cried.  This led to a discussion about appropriate language and how that can change through time.  In all, a beautiful book and I'm even more glad that I got to read it aloud and share it with my son.

Page count: 197p/25,629p ytd/240,561p lifetime

Saturday, September 5, 2015

96:120 Red Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire

The 9th book in the October Daye series.  Now with Queen Windermere on her rightful throne, things seem to have slowed down a bit for Toby and she is finally able to relax a bit.  Then Queen Windermere's seneschal is shot in front of her court and just like that, down time is canceled.  War has been declared on them by the Kindgom of Silences to the North.  Now Toby is being sent to try and diplomatically bring this to an end but when she gets there with her small group of friends, what she finds is worse than she could have ever imagined.  King Rhys is not alone, instead he has the former Queen of the Mists as his consort, and she hates Toby with a fierce passion.  There is also goblin fruit in abundance and a perverted court where only those pure-bloods deemed worthy enough to bear the title are allowed.  Worst of all, Rhys declares that the only way for Toby to end the war before it starts is to give herself up to him so they have access to her blood and magic.

Another riveting tale.  I continue to love this series and be saddened that there is only one a year but that can't stop me from diving right in as soon as I get the new one and devouring it as quickly as possible.  I really can't wait to see where things go with Toby and Tybalt and what fate has in store for them next.

Page count: 358p/25,432p ytd/240,364p lifetime

Monday, August 31, 2015

95:120 Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

The Imagine Network is branching out into "reality documentaries" and their first one is a search for mermaids.  They've commissioned the Atargatis cruise ship to take a group of scientists out into the Marina Trench.  What the scientists don't know is that they've also commissioned a traveling group of professional "mermaids" to come with them to make sure something is seen.  What they couldn't know is the secret that the bathypelagic zone is hiding.  The crew and passengers of the Atargatis will never be seen again and the footage will be debated for years.

A new horror novella by Mira Grant.  It starts off very slow and it isn't until about 2/3, maybe even 3/4 of the way through and then it's a runaway train.  Well done and entertaining, in a disturbing kind of way.

Page count: 122p/25,074p ytd/240,006p lifetime

94:120 Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

My review from my first time reading it back in 2009:

So I remember reading at least part of these eons ago and all I could ever remember from it was the shadow that scared the beejezus out of me and I've never picked it up since.  Well, my brother has been waxing poetic about it and it was part of the English course I'm doing with foster son so I sucked it up, put on my big girl panties, and dove in. 

Yes, the shadow is still scary but I don't think I ever made it to the end as a child.  I really enjoyed the whole book and the deeper meanings within it.  I'm glad that I finally made it a priority and read it and I'm even more happy that my son and foster son have also read it and we get to share it together.  Beautifully written in a rich world with richer characters.  I really look forward to reading the rest of the series and other books by LeGuin.

This is now my third time reading this book and I have read the whole series now as well as a few other of Ms. LeGuin's work and it holds up so well.  I'm still enchanted with her worlds.  They are so rich and deep and it seems like every time I read them, I discover some other little nuance or buried thing that makes it that much better.

Page count: 336p/24,742p ydt/239,674p lifetime

Sunday, August 30, 2015

93:120 The Wings of Fire: The Lost Heir by Tui T. Sutherland

Book 2 in the Wings of Fire series.  After having escaped their guardians, the Skywing kingdom, and found that Mudwings don't really do families and Clay's mother had sold his egg for 5 cows, the Dragonets of Prophecy have decided to go check out the Seawings realm and search for Tsunami's parents. Tsunami always loved the tale of the Missing Princess who was welcomed home with much fanfare into her families loving arms once she was found.  She had no idea Queen Coral had written it nor that she, herself. was a missing princess of the Seawing kingdom.  However, as she soon learns, being a missing princess returned home is not nearly all she dreamed it to be.

9yr old is really insistent that I read the whole series so I'm thankful that they are written well for children's book and the plot, while definitely using basic tropes and characters, have a bit more depth than just that and a plot that while is fairly predictable is still done well.

Page count: 336p/24,742p ytd/239,674p lifetime

92:120 Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

The third book in the Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong.  Olivia is continuing to be plagued by visions and most especially by the little blond girl who insists she has something Olivia needs to see.  Gabriel is going to everyone he can find to try and figure out how to stop the visions in his efforts to protect Olivia from whatever is going on but when Olivia finally allows the visions to run their course, she finds out more than she could have ever dreamed about her distant past and how Gabriel, Ricky, and her are entwined in something so much bigger than they ever could have imagined.  Now she must try to figure out how to let them know without scaring them away or the consequences could be horrific for not just themselves but for races they are just now learning are still alive.  With this hanging over her, Gabriel now under suspicion of murder, and more details coming to light about her parents' supposed crimes, Olivia may be nearing her breaking point and the relationships she cares most about could be in jeopardy.

I've really enjoyed this series.  While there is a supernatural element, so much is about self-discovery and trying to solve the mysteries around Olivia and her entire life.  I couldn't put this down and am now saddened that I have to wait another year for the next one.

Page count: 453p/24,406p ytd/239,338p lifetime

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

91:120 Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Norse mythology told from the point of view of Loki, the trickster god.  In it are all the familiar tales of Loki and the Aesir Gods: Odin, Thor, Sif, Heimdall, Frey, Freya, Idun, etc.  We have the stories of Sif's hair, Freya's necklace, Thor's hammer, etc. leading up to and including Ragnarok.

I love mythology in general and this was held out for me as something that would likely interest me by my favorite bookstore (the last book they would ever do so as they closed soon after). I've read the author before, she has good Norse mythology credentials, and the first couple of lines drew me in so I was prepared for a good, fun romp though the legends from a witty and irreverent narrator.

I didn't get that.

What I got instead was the same basic stories that I've read before from a slightly different point of view but not with any great depth of insight, just a different camera angle.  Loki's voice was whiny without adding anything of any value. He never grew as a character. His great plans would frequently be more like a pebble in a stream than an avalanche of anything.

In short, it was boring and a slog to read.  I wanted so much to enjoy it but I had to force myself to finish it.  I kept holding out hope that it would get better and in truth, by the end Loki was a bit less whiny but really, that's the best thing I can say about it.

Page count: 280p/23,953p ytd/238,885p lifetime

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

90:120 Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka

Gregor Samsa woke one morning to find himself having mysteriously transformed into an insect of some form.  His first thought is of how to get to work in order to continue paying off the debts of his parents and providing for them and his sister.  His next is how this will affect his family when they see him in this condition.  What follows is the story as told from Gregor's perspective on how he manages to survive in his condition and the imposition this puts upon his family in caring for him.  Occasionally we hear of his pride in his sister's musical ability but mostly it's of how he is trying to be the least burdensome he can manage by hiding himself away as much as possible and how little joy he has left in his life.

This tale has been analyzed much better and more in depth than I could ever do by people who have studied it at length but here is my take having read it just once so it's just my initial thoughts rather than a studied approach.  I find it a bit disconcerting to enter the story at the point where Gregor has become a bug with no understanding of any events leading up to that but the fact that this does not strike him as strange and he never thinks about how it happened to him or how to reverse it leads me to believe that it was not unexpected to him.  Is this a metaphor for something else then, like homosexuality or mental illness?  Gregor seems a decent enough fellow so it hurt me to see how his family almost turned on him after his transformation despite everything he had given up to see to their needs for so many years including putting his own life and dreams on hold to provide for them. Again, this leads me thinking the whole bug thing is a metaphor for something else where it does not matter what else you are or have done, that new thing now defines you and you are seen as unfit to be the presence of others.  The way the family basically rejoiced as they left their house after his death frankly sickened me.

All told, I felt it was a powerful tale, well but simply told that left much open to interpretation and debate and left chilling and disturbing thoughts in its wake.

Page count: 48p/23,673p ytd/238,605p lifetime

Saturday, August 15, 2015

89:120 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

In Alice in Wonderland, Alice is daydreaming instead of paying attention to her lessons when she sees a white rabbit running through the field muttering "Oh dear, oh dear" to itself before taking a pocket watch out of its waistcoat pocket and she simply must follow to see where it's going.  This leads her down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland where nothing is quite what it seems.  She meets the Dodo, Mad Hatter, March Hare, Chesire Cat, the Duchess with a baby that turns into a pig and the cook that has an obsession with pepper, the Queen and King of Hearts and their playing card court, and many others. She learns that you should be very careful what you eat but even more careful of what you say.

When Alice then goes Through the Looking-Glass and has to find her way to becoming a Queen these lessons serve her well but she still ends up in a variety of strange situations where nothing seems to make any sense but she learns how to believe in the impossible which leads her through.

I've had this book on my shelf for as long as I can remember.  I have seen the Disney version more times than I can count and used to cosplay as Alice at conventions.  I always thought I had read the book all the way through but I realized as I was reading it to my youngest that there was a lot that I really had no recollection of so I'm pretty sure I never actually read it before now.  It was interesting reading the parts I had no idea about and compare them with all the different film versions I've seen.  It was definitely strange and left me wondering where in Carroll's brain this all came from (I often wonder the same thing about Baum) but I enjoyed it overall and it was definitely fun discussing the adventures with my 9yr old.

Page count: 304p/23,625p ytd/238,557p lifetime

Friday, August 14, 2015

88:120 Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The 50 Miss Dream Teen contestants think they are heading to a nice little beach trip but instead, their plane crashes into a deserted island.  All of their chaperons and other adults are killed as are more than half the girls upon impact. Now the remaining girls must figure out how to survive but if they are to be rescued, they also need to look their best and what about being ready to compete?  Well, turns out that isn't quite as important when you find the secret Corporation base on the island filled with people who knew you were there and were hoping you would die and are happy to take care of that little problem if the snakes don't do it for them.

I grabbed this book as a friend mentioned it as being on her to-read list and it sounded interesting.  I was looking for something a bit lighter so I picked it up and was not disappointed.  It was definitely more in the chic-lit section that I usually travel but at the same time, it was a book about friendship, finding themselves, learning to be honest about themselves.  I loved that they outlawed the word "sorry" on the island because they realized that girls and women tend to use that word all the time for things that they do not need to be apologizing for.  There were a lot of moments like that which were good positive feminist messages but there was plenty of WTH moments in it as well.  In all, I enjoyed it and it was perfect for my headspace this month.

Page count: 405p/23,321p ytd/238,253p lifetime

87:120 Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland

The 1st in the Wings of Fire series.  The Queen of the Sand Wings died and now her three daughters, Burn, Blaze, and Blister, are in a war to become the next Queen of the Sand Wings.  Almost every other group of dragons has chosen sides but there is a prophecy that 5 dragonets born on a certain night will bring about peace.  The contenders for queen have tried to stop the prophecy but the Talons of Peace have managed to get 4 of the 5 eggs having to substitute only the Sky Wing egg with a Rain Wing egg and are now trying to raise the dragonets in secret.  The only problem is that the dragonets are getting to the age where they want to see something besides the inside of their cave so when Marrowseer, the Night Wing dragon that had the prophecy, comes to visit and declares that Glory, the Rain Wing, must be killed the dragonets band together to escape.  They manage but are almost immediately caught by Queen Scarlet of the Sky Wings who is allied with Burn, the queen contender that killed the dragon that was to bring the Sky Wing egg to the Talons of Peace.  Now the dragonets are in the sort of trouble they have only read about in scrolls and have to try and figure out how to escape and even if they can do that, now that their guardians are dead or done with them, they must find new allies to help them survive.

I got this for my 9yr old because it looked like a fun series and he has devoured all of them and is now impatiently waiting for the next one.  He has also insisted I read the series as well.  I've been trying to be particular about which series of his I will read because he would be very happy to see me read everything he does and mommy needs some adult reading time.  I love dragons and this series looked interesting enough for me to give it a go.  The writing is not overly simplistic, plot is complex enough to keep me from being bored, and it looks like there will be actual character growth and development which is something that I find to missing all too often.  This had enough going on that I'll go ahead and give the second book a go.

Page count: 304p/22,916p ytd/237,848p lifetime

Thursday, August 13, 2015

86:120 Kitty Saves the World by Carrie Vaughn

14th and final book in the Kitty Norville series. Roman is finally ready to end The Long Game and Kitty and her friends have finally become a big enough nuisance and potential threat that he has decided to contact them directly. With the chance dangled in front of them, Kitty feels they have no choice but to try and take him out but when that doesn't work she is made aware of just how very vulnerable she and her friends are.  Now with most of her allies out of commission, she must do what she can with Ben and Cormac and the few others that are showing up out of the woodwork.  Now if they can just figure out where Roman plans to strike they may have a chance.  That is a big "if" made even more improbable with his pet demon continuing to make their life interesting.

I found this to be a very satisfying end to the series.  There was a good lead-up within the book to the final showdown but that was not short changed into something so quickly done that I felt cheated.  All the major questions were answered and the aftermath was dealt with nicely.  I'll miss Kitty and her friends but I feel like their story has been told and told well.  I will be happy if they show up again in other stories but if they don't, I won't feel like I was left hanging.

Page count: 318p/22,612p ytd/237,544p lifetime

Saturday, August 8, 2015

85:120 Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

The 8th book in the Kate Daniels series.  Kate and Curran are setting up their new home away from the Keep. This means 90 days of staying completely away while things are separated and Jim gets things going under his new reign as Beast Lord.  However, when George, Mahon's daughter, comes to them frantic because her fiance, were-buffalo Eduardo, is missing.  Eduardo was also in the Mercenary Guild so Kate starts the investigation there and finds things much changed from her days there.  They get a few leads but Curran also gets a few ideas.  As their investigation proceeds, they find ghouls, giants who are immune to Kate's power words, and a magic signature that they have never seen before.  Add in Kate still needs to figure out what that means that she has claimed the city of Atlanta and her father is building one of his towers just outside those limits and it's just another day in the life of Kate and Curran.

I love these books so much and especially the interaction between Kate and Curran.  My biggest sadness is that there is such a long wait between them.

Page count: 342p/22,294p ytd/237,226p lifetime

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

84:120 Sky Dragons by Anne McCaffrey & Todd McCaffrey

The 24th book set in the world of Pern, the last collaboration between Anne McCaffrey who created the world and her son Todd, written just before her death in 2011.

Plague has ravaged Pern and now the next pass is imminent but the Dragonriders and dragons were just as vulnerable to the epidemic as anyone and there are not enough dragons to fly Thread and keep the planet safe.  The only hope lies in sending a group of dragonets and their riders along with just a few slightly older riders to the Southern Continent in the hope that they will be spared the plague and their dragons will rise enough to help repopulate the Weyrs.  Unfortunately no one foresaw the problems with large predators and tunnel snakes or how close the Pass was and how unprotected they would be when Thread did start to fall.  Their only hope lies in going back in time but with their leader being the first female rider of a blue dragon in recorded history, their biggest problem will be in learning to trust her enough to survive.

It's been a couple of years since I read the book before this and this led to a lot of confusion reading this one as there was a lot I didn't remember clearly that was alluded to but not enough detail given to help jog the memory.  Also, there were a couple of times that dragon names were switched which caused me more confusion. I got through the book and I understand what happened but all the confusion made it a less enjoyable read than I normally find Pern books to be.  Add in that I felt the whole "go back in time to the Southern Continent to save the world"thing a giant cop out since that was the big thing back in the first couple of books for almost the same reason.  Honestly, given how much I love this series and much more Anne McCaffrey's books to Todd's I was disappointed in this one and I hate saying that.  I do plan to reread the series at some point and maybe reading it all together in order it will be better.  I can only hope.

Page count: 344p/21,950p ytd/236,884p lifetime

Saturday, August 1, 2015

83:120 Spider's Trap by Jennifer Estep

The 13th book in the Elemental Assassin series. Gin is in the worst possible place she could ever imagine, the big boss of Ashland which means not only is everyone still gunning for her but now she has to listen to their problems and come up with solutions as well.  Sitting in meetings listening to them is a bigger torture than anything she has ever experienced before so she was almost happy when she spotted the average man who seemed to have brought a bomb on board the River Queen.  Now she has the mystery of who wants her dead this time and why were they so willing to take out innocent bystanders with a bomb there?

Less repetitive inner monologuing in this one which was nice but I felt that some of the ways she remembered the information seemed a bit contrived when their were easier plot devices that were shown but then abandoned to go with dream sequences instead. Also, the end fight sequence where again it was luck and not her skill or magic that saved her again felt very contrived.  Other than that, I thought it was a good book and changed up the usual cliched plots.  The premise being laid out for the next installment also looks really intriguing and I'm excited to see where it goes.

Page count: 384p/21,606p ytd/236,540p lifetime

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

82:120 Flight from Death by Yasmine Galenorn

Set in the world of Yasmine Galenorn's Sisters of the Otherworld series but mostly separate from it.  Shimmer is an orphan blue dragon from the Dragon Reaches. Without a family name, she is the lowest of the low in that society and this time she has ticked off the wrong people.  Rather than sentence her to death, the Wing Liege has sentenced her to 5 years banishment to Earthside under the care of the vampire, Alex, who runs a detective agency in Seattle.  So far, it's been a bit lonely but Shimmer is starting to get a handle on things when an old friend of Alex's calls them with a case.  Peter, another vampire, is trying to start up a B&B for supes in the Port Townsend but the building appears to be haunted and he is asking for Alex's help.  Alex agrees and takes along his team of Shimmer and Ralph, a werewolf who faints at the sight of blood when in human form.  When they arrive at the B&B, they are immediately greeted with items flying at them, some with deadly intent, and a ghostly voice telling them to get out.  As they start poking around, they find that not only is the house haunted and under a curse but there is something even more sinister that seems to have taken up residence, not only in their house but elsewhere in the town as well.  This will be the biggest case Shimmer has ever been on, if she can survive it.

This is the start of a new series and it's ok for a first book.  I generally love Ms. Galenorn's writing and in terms of the characters and plot, this one was no exception.  My big issue is the budding romance between Alex and Shimmer.  I didn't feel any real chemistry there apart from one scene and it just generally felt shoe-horned in and not like it really belonged.  Other than that, an enjoyable read.

Page count: 320p/21,222p ytd/236,156p lifetime

Saturday, July 25, 2015

81:120 Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus by Mira Grant

Dr. Abbey knows a few things about spies and danger considering she runs a secret underground virology lab but since her run in with the Masons, things have been quieter with a few more spies who tend to convert to her cause or leave once she explains their options to them but overall less danger.  That is, until she finds the stranger in the trees.  One who was told to find her and she would provide the drugs she is looking for.  Dr. Abbey knows after this long that this doesn't bode well but she had no idea just how bad this was going to turn out to be.

Set in the Newsflesh universe which I always love returning to and this was no exception.  Dr. Abbey is a no-nonsense fatalist scientist which is always fun and I love the deadpan humor.

Page count: 113p/20,902p ytd/235,836p lifetime

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

80:120 Holidays are Hell by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Marjorie M. Liu, & Vicki Pettersson

Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel by Kim Harrison ~ A Rachel Morgan short set before the events in Dead Witch Walking.  Rachel is trying to convince her brother to sign the papers to allow her to become a Runner but he is trying to convince her to go back to the West Coast with him and go to college to become a more powerful earth witch.  He compromises and tells her that if she is able to perform this very old and powerful spell to raise their father's ghost and get his blessing on it, he will sign the papers.  She performs the spell but instead of her father, she gets the ghost of a witch who died trying to take out a vampire who was preying on children. A vampire who is still alive, in the neighborhood, and has a new victim.

I've read this one before although I don't remember where but I enjoyed reading it again.  Rachel is a fabulous character and this story is no exception.

Run, Run, Rudolph by Lynsay Sands ~ Jill is watching her niece one morning but when she turns her back to clean up from breakfast, the little one escapes down the stairs into her father's lab.  When Jill goes down to retrieve her, she trips and knocks herself unconscious. Later, after she has left her brother's house, she is stopped by her brother's old partner who confesses that he set up her accident to hit her with her brother's experiment and now wants to take her captive to watch what it does to her.  She escapes him but soon finds out that she is now a shape-changer but avoiding him turns out to be much harder, but also more interesting, than she had imagined.

I haven't read anything else by this author but the story which seems to be part of a larger series was still well contained so I didn't find myself wondering what was going on but at the same time, there wasn't tons of exposition laying it all out. I'm definitely interested enough to search out more of her work.

Six by Marjorie M. Liu ~ Six is an operative for the Chinese government and is sent to find out more about a person of interest.  Her operation is cut short however when another man enters the spa room they are in and things get very weird.  Now she finds herself trapped with this man who is talking about vampires and spiritual energies, who is able to influence people with his voice.  Now they must work together to figure out what exactly is going on.

This is only the second story I've read by Ms. Liu but this was set in a different world, I think.  I was left very confused as to the rules of this world and what was going on and why I should care about any of the characters.  I'm glad I read the other story first because this did not excite me to read more by her.

The Harvest by Vicki Pettersson ~ Zoe has given up her power but not yet her Sign of the Zodiac to protect her daughters and now her granddaughter but the Shadows have discovered her grandchild and stolen her.  Now she must work with her old team in Las Vegas and go back into the lair of the Tulpa and hope she can manipulate him into forgiving her previous treachery against him in order to try and save the child.

I've got a few of these books on my shelves but hadn't read any of them or anything else by Ms. Pettersson but this one was another good example of a story that was obviously part of a larger series but answered the basic questions of the world adequately without tons of exposition.  I'll be trying to move this up on my to read series.

Page count: 374p/20,789p ytd/235,723p lifetime