Tuesday, March 31, 2015

35:120 Men of the Otherworld: Collection 1 by Yasmine Galernorn

Short stories about Roz, Roman, Shade, Trillian, and Chase that fill in gaps in their lives but that don't fit into the novels.

The Hunger - Roz and Fraale are living their idyllic life until the day that Zeus shows up and decides he has the hots for Fraale.  In the midst of her refusal and Roz's trying to decide how they can get away from the lecherous god, Hera shows up and is furious about Zeus's eye wondering yet again.  This is the story that tells their story and how their lives were shattered by jealousy.

Blood Ties - Roman's brother has come to town and courtesy requires more of Roman than he truly wants to give and will prompt his brother to try and take more than is allowed.  Menolly and Nerissa will be entangled in this but what about Blood Wine?

Ink Bonds - Trillian has taken a job to bring a message to his least favorite person in the world, Camille's father, on the hopes of finding a way to talk to her and try to repair their off-again relationship.  Seraph takes great delight in informing him that she has been assigned Earth-side so now he must decide if he will pursue her across worlds or not.

Chasing Sharah - Chase has finally worked up the courage to ask Sharah out on a date but awkward does not even begin to describe it starting from his first step on the porch.  It's a relief when work calls with an emergency.

The Purr-fect Weekend - Shade has been looking forward to a weekend alone with Delilah for ages but now that it has arrived, it is not quite going the way he envisioned.  First she is subject to one of Camille's spell disasters and can't shift back from her cat form.  Next, well, dealing with her in cat form is always, um, interesting.

A fun collection with a lot of fill-in stories that were nice.  The second collection just came out and features the rest of the guys each getting their own tale.

Page count: 65p/7,277p ytd/222,211p lifetime

Monday, March 30, 2015

34:120 Ghosts of Bourbon Street by Seanan McGuire

Short story set in the Incryptid universe featuring Verity Price and Dominic  De Luca. Verity is taking Dominic home to meet her family but considering everything they have gone through and his former position with the Covenant of St. George which Verity's family is on the run from and has been for generations.  Verity has proposed that they drive cross-country with their belongings mostly so she has time to try and prepare him for what he is walking into with her family.  Along the way, they stop in New Orleans and Verity calls her Aunt Rose who happens to be a ghost.  While out for drinks with Rose, they are contacted by another ghost who needs help with a recently deceased man who is ruining the Mardi Gras floats of the dead...

A fun story that crosses the Ghost of Sparrow Hill Road into the Incryptid universe and with the currently family.  Best read after you have read that and the first two books in the Incryptid series.

Page count: 51p/7,212p ytd/222,146p lifetime

Sunday, March 29, 2015

33:120 Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey & Eric Hagerman

Blurb from Goodreads:  In SPARK, John J. Ratey, M.D., embarks upon a fascinating and entertaining journey through the mind-body connection, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer's. Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, which has put this school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run---or, for that matter, simply the way you think

This was assigned reading for my son's Health class and since I homeschool, I read everything my kids do in order to better answer questions, have meaningful discussion, and grade papers with accuracy.  I found this book enthralling and I have to say that many of my own personal experiences mirror very closely what he was describing in it and it has helped me to understand the whys and wherefores of what is going on in my brain and body when I exercise and how they all work together.

32:120 The Lady or the Tiger? Frank R. Stockton

The King has a simple process for dealing with criminals.  He leaves their guilt or innocence up to fate.  They enter an arena and are given a choice between two doors, behind one is a beautiful women or man to immediately marry the accused and behind the other a very hungry tiger who will immediately devour them.  Now a young man faces the choice for having been the lover of the Princess.  Which door will he open?

An interesting short story that has a lot of psychological stuff going on with this one but nothing bigger than the ending where it is all put on the line.  Find someone who has read it and discuss.

Page count: 8p/6,857p ytd/221,791p lifetime

Saturday, March 28, 2015

31:120 Little Women and Werewolves by Porter Grand

Ok, really if you haven't read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott than you probably have no business reading this one.  We have the March family with their four daughters who had money once upon a time but are currently destitute.  You have their rich neighbors, the Laurence's, which is a grandfather who is raising his only grandchild.  Unlike in the original, in this one both of them are werewolves.  Werewolves are simply a fact of life in this story.  You don't go out on nights of the full moon.  You are careful about what you say so that the Brigade does not accuse you of being a werewolf sympathizer.  We follow the group of girls as they grow up into women and start families of their own and each deals with werewolves in their own way as they must.

I want to start by saying that I love the original and honestly have no clue how many times I read it but it does mean that I knew every place where this differed from the original and not all of them had to do with the werewolves.  The insertion was done nicely and they kept the main story basically unchanged with a few minor exceptions and I found it enjoyable.  I did have some problems with what they did with Beth and her relationship with Mr. Laurence but I found the addition to the ending a nice, unforeseen twist.

Page count: 416p/6,849p ytd/221,783p lifetime

30:120 The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

The final installment in His Dark Materials trilogy.  Lyra and Will are being pursued by all sides, some to stop them and some to help them but none to tell them what is going on so they continue to stumble along doing what their gut instincts tell them to do and everyone else usually a few steps behind.  There is a big battle between Lord Asriel and Metatron.  Things get resolved, yada yada yada.

Honestly, this book was a slog.  The first book had some interesting world building and concepts going on so I stuck with it.  The second book was sloggy but I know that second books can do that so I went to the third hoping it would get better.

It didn't.

If anything, it was the worst of the three.  The character development was basically non-existent until the end when we must make Lyra and Will fall in love because that is the formula.  There were pages spent describing the scenery of every single world visited, every, single, time.  I didn't care about any of the characters, I didn't care if all the worlds went up in flames (actually that would have made it interesting).  It was dull, boring, predictable, and formulaic to the extreme and I honestly don't know what all the fuss was about with them.  I'm not glad I read them and I want those hours of my life back to spend reading books I would actually enjoy.

Page count: 465p/6,433p ytd/221,367p lifetime

Friday, March 27, 2015

29:120 Paranormal Bromance by Carrie Vaughn

A short story set in the world of Kitty Norville.  Sam, Jack, and Aaron are typical bachelor roommates except for the fact that they are fairly young vampires.  Made in their 20s by a rouge vampire who was then taken out by the Family, the guys decided they would rather be out on their own then try to join up.  Their life has turned into a fairly boring and conventional one, ordering pizza on a regular basis so they can take a few sips off the driver, playing video games, selling stuff on eBay, etc, Sam has been okay with it until he meets Ginny and starts developing a mid-life crisis filled with all the 'what-ifs' her presence brings up in him.  His roommates don't understand his melancholy or his new desire to have a maid in to get the place in order.

I really enjoyed the heck out of this.  Seeing a group of vampires trying to figure out life and deal with more day to day type of stuff while not being super rich, or super powerful, or super sexy as most vampires we see in books are.

Page count: 64p/5,968p ytd/220,902p lifetime

Thursday, March 26, 2015

28:120 By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Previous review:
The Ingalls have been struck by scarlet fever and poor crops.  There is no money, Mary has lost her eyesight, and their little boy did not make it out of infancy.  This is where this book picks up.  Pa is invited to help Aunt Docia and her husband with their inn for railroad workers in the new town of De Smet which is on the shores of the Silver Lake.  With few prospects in Plum Creek, Pa agrees and the family again moves west.  The end of the book sees them settled on a new homestead for what they hope will be the last time.

Again, these are wonderful tales of the pioneer spirit.  Laura is fiesty but is settling down and stepping up to help take Mary's place as her mother's main helper.  The family has been through so much and you can only hope each time that their luck will eventually turn around because despite everything, they keep a cheerful outlook, faith, and hope.

Page count: 290p/5,904p/220,838p

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 2nd 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.

Well, I'm still behind in a lot of my reading.  School reading has been quite crazy plus, you know, life but things are finally nearing completion so I'm hoping to be able to deal with backlog of lots of stuff around the house including my reading.  Thankfully, it looks like another quiet quarter so maybe, just maybe I can get a handle on things.

Dark Heir by Faith Hunter sees Jane Yellowrock pitted against one of the biggest, baddest vampire witches around who has a personal motive to bring chaos and destruction to New Orleans.  When is she getting a raise if these are the types of things she is going to keep getting set against?  I'm currently a book behind in the series so I still don't know how she got out of the last mess but apparently she did.

Release date: April 7

The only other book coming out this quarter is the final book in the Blackwell Pages trilogy, Thor's Serpents by M.A. Marr and K.L. Armstrong.  This is one of the kids' books but I've been enjoying the series.  It's banking on the success of books like Percy Jackson with kids who are direct descendants of the Norse Gods and trying to save the world from Ragnarok.

Release date: May 19

And that's it for the quarter.  The next quarter isn't looking very heavy either but the last quarter is going to be nuts again. Maybe I can be caught up by then?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

27:120 Branded by Kelley Armstrong

Post-apocalyptic, dystopian setting, what could have happened if the weres/demons/witches/vampires came out to humans and things did not go well.  Humans now live in small fortresses barricaded against the things that live outside them.  Resources are scarce and anyone that isn't purely human is cast out (if they are lucky) to fend for themselves.  Life is hard inside the fortresses for anyone not of the top 6 families so Rayne and Braeden come up with a plan to try and make it on the outside.

Don't go looking for any of your favorite Otherworld characters in this as this isn't part of their story.  This is a hypothetical time line so the world is very different.  I liked the twists and turns the story took with nothing being revealed until the moment.  There was only enough world building and character development to move the main plot since this was a short story but it was still an interesting read and I wouldn't mind reading more set in that world.

Page count: 38p/5,614p ytd/220,548p lifetime

Friday, March 20, 2015

26:120 Mists & Shadows: Short Tales from Dark Haunts by Yasmine Galenorn

A collection of short stories not set in any particular universe:
Ghosts ~ A man is haunted by a painting of his dead love. He can feel her watching him everywhere in his house and driving him to distraction even outside of it.

Minor Deaths ~ We have discovered how to send people out of their bodies in controlled 'jumps' to explore the universe but there are things out there that we weren't prepared for.

Mortuary Man ~ Some love the dead too much.

Willowborn ~ The Devil's Wind has rushed through Painter's Peak and called to one of it's own to bring about a transformation.

Memory's Child ~ The story of a water fae protecting her territory from a siren but only with great personal cost.  This was Ms. Galenorn's first published short story.

I feel like I've read a couple of these before but I can't for the life of me remember where but both Ghosts and Minor Deaths seemed very familiar.  They are definitely haunting tales.

Page count: 70p/5,576p ytd/220,510p lifetime

Monday, March 16, 2015

25:120 IM by Seanan McGuire

Incryptid short story.  Arthur has always had a hard time what being a half-incubus so computers have always been his preferred way to deal with the outside world.  His family understands and loves and accepts him and the way he is.  And then there is Sarah, the cuckoo that was adopted into the family who understands him more than most.  Now Sarah has had her mind damaged and since no one understands the cuckoo biology well, no one knows when or even if she will ever recover and be their 'Sarah' ever again.  Arthur continues to hold out hope, calling constantly and cursing the fact that she is in Oregon and he in Ohio, not going there because he knows he'll be turned away but feeling frustrated and helpless.

This is really a short little thing for those who have read at least the first two books of the Incryptid series, not needed to understand anything in the books but a nice little add-on.

Page count: 11p/5,506p ytd/220,440p lifetime

Friday, March 13, 2015

24:120 Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong

An Otherworld anthology.  We get stories from all over the timeline and list of characters.  Demonology shows us a little bit of what life is like for the women and children demons leave behind as we get a glimpse of Adam's childhood.  In Twilight, we see what it is like as vampire's start to near the end of their lifespans with Cassandra and Aaron.  We get to see what happens on Elena and Clay's honeymoon in Stalked and Reese's backstory and how he ended up with the North American pack in Chivalrous. There is more Hope and Karl in Lucifer's Daughter and we finally get to see where things are heading with Savannah and Adam in Vanishing Act.  Of course, no Otherworld anthology would be complete without lots of Clay and Elena and the Pack so we get Hidden (which I'm pretty sure I've read elsewhere) and From Russia with Love.

What can I say, I LOVE this universe and all the characters in it (although I'm totally partial to Clay and Elena) and these stories were all fabulous.  If you are a fan of the Women of the Otherworld series, this is a must read.

Page count: 351p/5,495p ytd/220,429p lifetime

Thursday, March 12, 2015

23:120 Oh Pretty Bird by Seanan McGuire

The continuing adventures of Fran and Jonathan Healy.  It's been several years since their first child, Daniel, was murdered in his bed. They have moved forward with their lives and have had a little girl, Alice, but they have never stopped looking for the person who cost them their firstborn.  Now it looks like Jonathan's parents, Enid and Alex, have a lead but the odds are not in favor of their surviving this trip.

It was nice to see some resolution on that storyline.  It sounds like we won't see much more of Jonathan and Frances which is a bummer as I have really enjoyed them.

Page count: 31p/5,144p ytd/220,078p lifetime

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

22:120 Double Star by Robert Heinlein

Lorenzo Smythe was a down on his luck actor looking to find an easy mark when a spacer walked into the bar and he made his move.  He had no idea how his life was about to change as he was given the role of a lifetime: impersonating a major political figure in order to save face and an alliance with the Martians.  He has little time to get this role down right but Lorenzo is nothing if not a consummate actor, if you can believe his opinion.  He manages to pull it off and save the deal but that's when things get complicated.  The existing government resigns and while the person he is portraying is found after his kidnapping, he is in no shape to resume his life in politics just yet so Lorenzo is talked into continuing for just a little longer.  Just how much longer that will be is anyone's guess.

I was hoping for more from this book.  It was clear early on where the story was going to go but I figured there were a few different twists and turns it could take and I was hoping it would go in some direction other than the completely obvious and typical one these stories take.  Unfortunately it didn't.  Not a bad story if you are looking for some light fluff but it's not deep in any sense of the word.  The characters are fairly shallow and the plot predictable.

Page count: 256p/5,113p ytd/220,047p lifetime

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

21:120 Marine Biology by Gail Carriger

Alex is a werewolf.  That in itself would not be a big deal.  His father is the beta of their pack and his brothers are all werewolves as well but Alex has known he was different.  He's not built like a werewolf but is on the scrawny side plus he's gay.  He never expected to survive his first change but not only has he continued to survive but now his alpha has given him to the merepeople who are looking for a selkie who has stolen a large sum of money from them and fled to the area.  Now Alex is teamed up with a seriously flirty merman who has the hots for him (and the feeling is definitely reciprocated) while he is trying to stay in the closet.  This case looks to be opening a lot of doors for Alex's future.

I loved the way things played out between these characters and found her take on the creatures in keeping with typical mythos while having some fresh little twists put on it.  Really enjoyable.

Page count: 38p/4,857p ytd/219,791p lifetime

Friday, March 6, 2015

20:120 Bind By the River by Stefon Mears

Terlik is on the run as his master is facing a challenger he doesn't know he can beat.  Terlik has instructions to travel as a messenger and seek shelter from the forest people but this means hard riding with no supplies or weapons.  This leads to him being alone, exhausted, starving, and unarmed when he meets a woman by the river who shares her food with him but reveals during their conversation that she has been sent to kill him.  She may regret it but she has taken the money and her honor demands that she fulfill her obligation.  Now Terlik must find a way to either outwit or outfight her if he wants to survive.

There is definitely more going on behind the scenes here and while I enjoyed the tale, there were a lot of unanswered questions (ok, I get that it's a me thing) and such a bigger world hinted at that I wanted to know more about.

Page count: 19p/4,819p ytd/219,753p lifetime

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

19:120 With a Little Help by Cory Doctorow

Mr. Doctorow's first foray into self-publishing with a reprint of several short stories and one commissioned piece.  I found the stories at the end more engrossing since they were typically longer and it was easier to really get into them.  The story of BIGMAC was definitely intriguing but I think my favorite was the one with the ancient millionaires being kept alive artificially and people trying to come up with the next big thing to intrigue them.  Nothing in the book was bad but some were definitely more memorable than others.  The origin stories were nice to have as well since I'm always interested where authors get their ideas from.

Page count: 360p/4,800p ytd/219,734p lifetime

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

18:120 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Gatsby is the mystery millionaire that every one wants to be seen with but no one actually seems to know anything about.  He throws lavish parties but without actually seeming to participate in more than a cursory way.  Nick Carraway moves into a small shack next door and Gatsby makes it a point to get to know him.  It doesn't take long for Nick to learn why.  Gatsby fell in love with Daisy (a cousin of Nick's) years ago and has done everything he could for the past several years to put himself in a position to try and woo her away from her husband, the brutish Tom Buchanan.  Now that he has Nick in his court, he feels like his dream is finally on the threshold of becoming reality.  Unfortunately, not all dreams end with a Happily Ever After.

It's interesting because I've been reading about this time in US History as part of our high school history course and excess is the big thing they keep talking about in that book and it is readily apparent in this as well.  Excess is everywhere with no regards to consequences.  It's sad to see and sadder to see how little we've learned since then.  It definitely seems like a cautionary tale of the time and one that seems to be misunderstood by many who just watched the movie.  Speaking of the movie, I want to find time to watch it so I can compare.  Yeah, yeah, I know it won't be as good as movies so rarely are but there can be good adaptations and I'm curious.

Page count: 180p/4,440p ytd/219,374p lifetime