Thursday, February 26, 2015

17:120 Forsaken by Kelley Armstrong

A new side novel in the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong which takes place after the series end.  Elena has been alpha for a few years now but it is still hard getting other Packs to acknowledge her as the true alpha but she is in London trying to work with their pack leader when she starts getting odd phone calls asking where her puppy is.  She shrugs it off and decides that the situation is no longer worth continuing to miss out on their family vacation but by the time she gets back to the states she is informed that Kate, her daughter, is missing.  She and many of the pack come to find her but when she gets there, she starts smelling the one thing she never wanted to find again, the scent of Malcolm, the father of the former pack leader and her father-in-law as well as a psychotic killer.  The panic is immense especially as he is not alone.  This was not a fight she wanted to have and especially not with her child in their clutches.

Such an amazing installment and I hated every time I had to put it down to deal with other things.  The ending was a complete shocker and well played.  I am so glad that Ms. Armstrong is continuing to give us stories about the Pack and most especially Elena and Clay.  Never know when we are going to get one but they are such pleasures when we do,

Page count: 237p/4,260p ytd/219,194p lifetime

16:120 Tales From Otherworld: Volume 1 by Yasmine Galenorn

A collection of short scenes that didn't fit in the books but add a nice little touch for those who have been reading Yasmine Galenorn's Otherworld series.  In them, we get to see what happens when Camille in her early stages Earthside tries an invisibility spell, what exactly happened with the dang Thanksgiving turkey, a glimpse of Maggie's mom, and several other short tales.  I would not recommend it for someone who hasn't read anything in the series as it does need the background of the books to make full sense but for those who enjoy the series, I definitely recommend it.

Page count: 36p/4,023p ytd/218,957p lifetime

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

15:120 Age of Empires by Marjorie Wall Bingham

2nd time reading this.  Here is previous review:

Middle school history covering the empires of 1200-1750AD including the the Mongols, Poland & Lithuania, Russian, Mughals, Ottoman, Portuguese, Spanish, Habsburgs, and Manchu.  I hadn't even heard of some of these so I found it interesting to see how they came into being and how each often learned from the others. 

It was even more interesting this time around as I read Trumpeter of Krakow while I was reading this so it was neat seeing my different reading projects intersecting.

Page count: 157p/3,987p ytd/218,921p lifetime

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

14:120 Darkness Falls by Keri Arthur

The final installment in the Dark Angels series by Keri Arthur.  Time has run out for Risa.  Hunter is making her move against those that have been vocal against her intentions and she has given Risa twenty-four hours to find and deliver the last key or her loved ones will suffer.  The big problem is that the black sorceress who has been several steps ahead of Risa and managed to steal the first two keys out from under her nose is still on the loose.  Add in that Risa doesn't want to hand over the key to Hunter but since Hunter has spies on her, if she finds it Hunter will know and if she isn't looking hard enough for it, Hunter will know that too.  What's a girl to do when the fate of the world is on her shoulders?

So I have spent a lot of this series screaming at each book about how slow it is moving with little to no progress on the finding of the keys or dealing with Hunter or anything else.  In this book, in just under 400 pages, the last key is found and all problems resolved with a nice tidy bow on them in less than 24 hrs.  Really?!  I didn't feel enthusiastic or overjoyed or anything by it, I felt bored and tired.  It felt like things were stretched out way too far for too long and then "oh look, this is the last book in my contract and it's not going to be renewed so I need to wrap it all up quickly".  I really enjoyed the heck out of Ms. Arthur's Riley Jensen series and was excited to see a new series in the same universe where even if Riley was barely around, it was familiar but the pacing was just awful after the first book.  I wanted to like it and I kept with it hoping it would get better but it never got good.  The best was ok.

Page count: 375p/3,830p ytd/218,764p lifetime

13:120 Gifted by Kelley Armstrong

Gabriel's Gargoyles - set in the Cainsville universe but back when Gabriel was young.  Every year in Cainsville the children hunt around to find as many of the gargoyles hidden around the town as they can.  The child who finds the most gets a prize and the one who finds them all will get a gargoyle made in their image put up somewhere in the town.  Gabriel doesn't care about having a gargoyle made in his image but he is determined to find them all simply because he knows he can so every time he is allowed to visit his Aunt Rose, he spends part of his time wandering the town in search of them.  When he isn't doing that, he is working to try and get his Aunt the perfect Solstice present.  Gabriel has plans and he will make sure they all come to fruition.

I really enjoyed seeing Gabriel as a young boy but it's not a happy home life and definitely explains a lot of his attitudes when we finally meet him.  I also found the interactions between him, Patrick, and the Elders to be an interesting bit of backstory.  Definitely not a necessary read to understand anything in the series but still nice backstory.

The Puppy Plan - Elena and Clay have Kate out on a shopping trip and Logan is out wandering when he discovers a half-dead puppy.  Knowing that this is what Kate wants more than anything, he resolves to nurse it back to health and try to convince his parents to allow him to give it to her as a Christmas present.  Things don't go quite as planned when a mutt shows up on the property and the surprise ends up being blown before he can come clean to them.

Ok, Elena and Clay were always my favorite characters in the Women of the Otherworld series and I'm so thrilled that so many of the novellas and short stories coming out since the end of the series have focused on them (and even more thrilled that it's now a TV show!).  Getting to see their interactions with their kids is fabulous and this was wonderful getting to be inside Logan's head and hearing his internal debates and dilemmas.  I'm glad I waited until now to read it though because they reference something that happened in the new novel "Forsaken" that I just received and talked about how traumatic it had been for Kate but without ever mentioning what had happened.  Needless to say, that moved quickly up my "to read" list.  

Page count: 82p/3,455p/218,389p

Sunday, February 22, 2015

12:120 Sudden Backtrack by Kim Harrison

A short story set in the Hollows universe, told from Al's point of view and detailing the curse that the demons put upon the elves and how Newt came to be the way we knew her in Rachel's time.  It was definitely interesting to hear Al's voice narrating a tale and to see Newt as something other than crazy and out of it but in full command of herself and her destiny.  Hearing the way the elves treated them, definitely makes you understand why things went down the way they did and have a lot more sympathy for the demons.  I'm reading a lot of history right now and a lot about the slave trade and oh my yes, it was all in this even as short as it was.  I really hope Ms. Harrison does more little shorts like this in that world because it was such a fantastic series and I agree that the main story is told but that doesn't mean I don't want to visit those characters from time to time.

Page count: 21p/3,373p ytd/218,307p lifetime

11:120 My Sister's Song by Gail Carriger

A short story by Gail Carriger.  Mithra lives in a small village near the huge Roman Empire and she knows, as do all in her village that it is only a matter of time before the Romans come for them.  When it finally happens with the use of her wits and observational skills, she finds an ingenious and sweet solution to their problems and one that will keep them safe for many years to come.

Apparently this was Ms. Carriger's first professional sale and was based on a legend she had heard with some creative license on her part, of course.  It's a sweet little tale but don't expect much in the way of character development or serious plot.  It's short and simple but nicely done.

Page count: 17p/3,352p ytd/218,286p lifetime

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

10:120 Chalice by Robin McKinley

A desmense must always have a Master and a Chalice to maintain the harmony of the land but then the previous Master brought down turmoil to his desmense and his Chalice did not curb him and when they both died without true heirs, difficult decisions had to be made and acted upon quickly.  Thus Beekeeper Mirasol was chosen by the divining rods as the new Chalice but as one who already knew her place in life and with no training, she has had to teach herself and work to trust her instincts.  The new Master has finally arrived, the younger brother of the previous Master but one who was sent to the Elemental Priests to become a Fire Priest.  He has obtained the third rank and no one has ever come back to a normal life from that point but he is determined to try for the sake of his land and people but first he must remember how to be human again.  The two of them have a hard struggle before them to try and make the land whole once again but the Overlord has other ideas and is not an easy man to deny.

I haven't read any of Ms. McKinley's books before and I definitely plan to go searching others out as I did like this one.  I enjoyed the world she created and her take on a traditional fairy tale as this is most definitely Beauty and the Beast done in her own world.  My chief complaint was the amount of repetition and self-doubt the Chalice exhibited and how it seemed that we were not expected to remember what was said about her abilities or what had happened to the previous master after a chapter or two.  This book is less than 300 pages, I don't feel that this level of repetition is necessary in 1000p books and definitely not in one less than 300p that moves quickly.  However, the rest of the book was delightful and the interactions between people flowed well  and never seemed forced or ridiculous.  I've heard from many that this is one of her weakest books and if that is the case, I really can't wait to read some more.

Page count: 284p/3,335p ytd/218,269p lifetime

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

9:120 The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien

At this point, I'm assuming if you don't know what this book is about you have likely lived in a cave for the past 10 years simply because there is no way to not have at least heard of the books and gotten some basic knowledge of the plot after the movies came out.  That being said, this if my fourth time reading it (and I've got at least one more time ahead of me).  Here's my review from my third time (where I copied my second time's review):

Here's my review from the last time I read it:
Wow, you know you don't read something for years after reading it as a teenager and it's amazing how something that was good becomes out of this world fantastic. It's not like I can say anything about this that hasn't already been said to death but this book deserves it all and more. But it makes it all the more amazing to be sharing it with my son. To see his enjoyment of it, to share his thoughts after reading it, to see what it is inspiring within him. That is truly without measure.

And that I think is really the best thing about this book is sharing it with others, the discussion of the many different aspects and ideas that are found within them and it's even more fun to share it with someone who hasn't read it before and seeing their reactions and hearing their different thoughts.  My third son came running out screaming his head off when Frodo was captured by Shelob and looked to be dead.  He was NOT a happy camper and felt he had been betrayed because Frodo is supposed to be the Hero, not die in the 2nd Act.  It was hard to keep a straight face and not give anything away while getting him to stop and think about where the story might be headed if Frodo was dead.  That was an incredibly interesting discussion.

Page count: 447p/3,051p ytd/217,985p lifetime

Thursday, February 12, 2015

8:120 Panther Prowling by Yasmine Galenorn

The 17th book in the Otherworld series by Yasmine Galenorn being told from Delilah's POV.  It's the Grand Re-Opening of the Wayfarer and Camille's birthday and the girls are giving themselves a night out to just relax after everything that has been going on lately when their cousin Daniel is thrown across the floor by the ghost of a Viking.  When they get the story out of him, it turns out that he was drugged (or spelled) to steal a sword that has the soul of Einar the Bloody trapped within it.  The sword is then stolen from the sisters and the chase is on to try and find the sword before whoever wants it is able to release the soul and cause who knows what kind of damage.

First, I want to say that I love this series and the characters in it and I love the writing style BUT I feel like these books have lost the main plot.  It's been ages since the main plot with the spirit seals was really moved forward and it was barely mentioned in this again.  Even worse was that this book spent a lot more time dealing with Camille than Delilah and when we really did get any Delilah, it seems like she has taken several steps back from the strong woman she had been turning into and was just back to being a basketcase and weaker, making bad decisions and needing people to help her put her thoughts back in order.  Her voice just seemed to get lost in this one and it's a shame.  I think her character has shown the most growth and this seemed to move that backwards.  I really hope this series finds it's groove again and gets back to its roots.  I'm not sure if the new Fly by Night series is going to help or hurt this cause.  I guess we will see.

Page count: 294p/2,604p ytd/217,538p lifetime

7:120 The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

A unicorn is in her forest where she has always lived when she overhears some hunters talking about unicorns and how this must be the last forest to still have a unicorn protecting it.  This leads her to start wondering if she is indeed the last in the world which leads her to leave her forest to discover the truth.  As she wanders, she finds that she is no longer recognized as a unicorn but only as a beautiful white mare by most people.  Along her journey, she finds the magician Schmendrick who wants only to be a true magician rather than the bumbling juggler that he more often resembles.  He vows to stay with her on her journey and is able to tell her more stories about where the unicorns may have gone.  "They were driven down all the paths long ago and the Red Bull ran close behind."  The Red Bull belongs to King Haggard and that is where they must go.  As they continue on that path, they find Molly Grue, the wife of a wanna-be Robin Hood, who can see the unicorn for what she is and is willing to leave everything else behind to see that quest fulfilled.

As they come to the castle of King Haggard, the Red Bull makes his appearance when he sensed a unicorn near by and Schmendrick's magic saves her by turning her into a human girl.  Thus disguised, she enters the castle with Schmendrick and Molly in the hopes of finding out more about the rest of the unicorns.  Instead, what she finds is Prince Lir falling in love with her.  The longer she stays human, the more she aligns with those feelings and the group must finally move forward in their quest if they are to save the Last Unicorn from herself.  Since this is a fairy tale, she is returned to her correct form and rescues the other unicorns but the journey is not without it's own personal cost for her.

This is such a lovely tale.  I watched the movie more times than I can count growing up but could never interest my boys in watching it until it came around on a movie tour in the theaters and I took the two youngest to see it.  They LOVED it!  Afterward, they loved listening to the author speak about the book and decided that it had to be the next book I read aloud to them.  I was thrilled with this and reading the book was just a lovely experience.  A truly beautiful story.

Page count: 294p/2,310p ytd/217,244p lifetime

Friday, February 6, 2015

6:120 On the Banks of the Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My review from a few years ago when I read this book with DS3:

I've really just been loving these books, much more than I ever thought I would.  I love the independent nature of the family, how they deal with adversity, how they cherish what they have but continue to hope for that little something like money for new shoes.   I found it interesting that even at a young age the girls are taught not to cry over things.  You always think of that as something boys are taught but not the girls.  I really love and admire Laura's spirit and I love how Pa seems to encourage it so long as it's safe for her.  Really sets some preconceived notions on how people used to raise their children on end.

I'm sticking with this.  I'm now really wanting to get my hands on her autobiography to see more about the discrepancies I've heard about.

Page count: 358p/2,016p ytd/216,950p lifetime

Monday, February 2, 2015

5:120 Song of Myself by Walt Whitman

An incredible use of language to express how one is part of everything and everyone and yet no one and nothing at the same time.  To express that joy and sorrow in the universe and all in it all at the same time.  This is one that is still sitting and resonating within me and probably will for a while as I formulate further thoughts on it.  I really look forward to the fact that I will be reading it again in a few years for the next child's school if not sooner just for myself and maybe at that time I will be able to more fully put my thoughts into words for others.

Page count: 80p/1,658p ytd/216,592p lifetime