Thursday, April 23, 2015

46:120 The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar by Gail Carriger

A short story about Alexia's father, Alessandro as he goes to Egypt to have his Aunt's cat embalmed with his faithful manservant, Floote.  Of course, that is not the only reason he is there as the Knights Templar have gotten word of an extraordinary discovery in the tombs there that may be why no supernaturals have made their homes in that desert land.

While I normally love Ms. Carriger's work, I just had the hardest time getting into this one.  Alessandro is a stuck-up ass with no real redeeming points in it and I just couldn't find myself caring about him or anyone else in the story or about what was happening.  While I would love to know more about Alexia's family, this just didn't do it for me.

Page count: 32p/9,860p ytd/224,794p lifetime

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

45:120 Summer Moon by Jan DeLima

Rosa is the youngest unmated, full-blooded changeling and as such was married off to the Guardian Math centuries ago when the Guardians wanted Math to move to the New World and keep watch over the Walkers.  Now Math has been killed by Dylan and the Guardians remember a prophecy spoken by Talesin which basically amounts to the rape of Rosa by 8 unmateed Guardians on Beltane.  Rosa wants NO part of this plan, especially after spending centuries under Math's thumb and seeing just how horrible the Guardians treat those she cares about.  She runs to Dylan's pack to try and enlist their aid by offering the most valuable prize she has, control over her lands at Alban and herself as wife, to keep her and hers safe.

Luc is Dylan's brother, unmated although widowed by his beloved Koko.  He is an alpha in his own right but has stayed by his brother's side with unwavering support for all his brother has done for him over the centuries and his brother's vision for their pack but his wolf is restless so when the chance to help his brother comes in the form of wedding Rosa and claiming her territory next door to his brother's, he quickly volunteers.  Neither Rosa nor Luc are looking for anything beyond a marriage of convenience but they quickly find much to respect and admire in the other and find more than either was looking for.

I'm not a huge fan of outright romances and even less so of series that promise a rich world with intricate, overreaching plots that then turn into books of how can we throw two people together as a romance despite their having zero in common or any reason why they should actually be a couple outside of the fact that the author chose to make them one (BDB is especially horrible for this but there are plenty out there).  When I realize that the second book in the series centered on a new couple coming together, I groaned.  The first book was great in that it was a couple that had parted and were coming together (rarely every done) but now we were going back to a standard trope.  I really enjoyed the new world Ms. DeLima had created so I decided to hope and I was not disappointed.  Luc and Rosa found things in common, they were thrust together out of need but came to a mutual respect and understanding.  Yes, there was always sexual tension going on because it's a "paranormal romance" but it wasn't a chest thumping, bodice ripper type of thing.  It's easy enough to guess who the next couple will be but again, it seems like a case of a couple who have been dancing around each other wanting this relationship who will finally get a chance not a "guy sees girl across the street and decides she's the one for him".  I'm actually looking forward to the next installment with anticipation.

Page count: 292p/9,828p ytd/224,762p lifetime

Monday, April 20, 2015

44:120 The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin

George Orr has a problem.  He has been caught poaching other people's med cards to get more anti-sleep meds than he is legally allowed.  While illegal, the sentence is therapy to help him move away from this behavior.  When he arrives to see the therapist and is asked why he didn't want to sleep, George tells him it's because there are times when he dreams and his dreams end up changing the world around him and he doesn't feel like he is qualified to make changes that can affect everyone like that without their permission.  It quickly becomes apparent that George is telling the truth and the therapist starts working on directing his dreaming for the "betterment of society".  Unfortunately, problems occur since he is trying to influence George's subconscious and that interprets things in it's own way.  Soon, there are 6 million less people on Earth, then there is no more war on Earth because we are at war with aliens who have set up bases on the Moon, now there is no race tensions because everyone is grey.  Things keep getting progressively worse and worse in George's opinion and he finally vows to put an end to it at which point we find out that the therapist thinks he is now able to replicate this effective dreaming technique himself, thus no longer leaving things up to George's subconscious interpretations of his ideas for creating a perfect society.

I found the whole concept fascinating and the story completely engaging.  The psychology of the characters kept me enthralled from beginning to end and so many questions are open to interpretation so it made for a wonderful discussion at book club.  I have definitely found Ms. LeGuin's books to be incredibly insightful into the human psyche and this was no exception.

Page Count: 194p/9,536p ytd/224,470p lifetime

Thursday, April 16, 2015

43:120 Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

The 4th book in the Alpha & Omega series.  Charles is trying to find the perfect present for Anna's birthday coming up and comes up with the idea to buy her a new horse now that she has become a more proficient rider.  Holsteen is the pack leader in Arizona, happens to raise Arabians, and is the father of Joseph who is one of the few people Charles calls friend so naturally that is where he takes Anna.  On the day they arrive though, a spell is placed on Joseph's son's wife Chelsea to kill her children and then herself.  She manages to keep from harming the children but only by hurting herself close to the point of death.  Charles and Anna are with Kage when he gets the call and end up at the house and Charles makes Kage the offer to change his wife.  Kage agrees not only out of grief but also so that they may learn what happened and how to protect the family.  It turns out to be very old fae magic which means one of the fae is no longer on the reservations and has a taste for children.  Anna and Charles cannot let this pass and manage to get in on the investigation in the hopes of saving Joseph's grandchildren but the spirits have spoken to Charles and while Joseph is now an old man, he still has a task to complete in this life and it may be the most important one yet.

This book went from slow to fast to slow to fast a lot which is unusual for Ms. Briggs's books.  It was nice to learn more about Charles and his past but at times those things seemed to slow the rest of the story down which made it harder to stick with it.  In all, it was a good tale but not one of the best ones I've seen from her.

Page count: 324p/9,342p ytd/224,276p lifetime

Saturday, April 11, 2015

42:120 Celtic Moon by Jan DeLima

The first in the Celtic Wolves series, a new series by a new author. Sophie ran away from Dylan and his world on the night he transformed into a werewolf to show her  why she must give up her old life.  It's been 16 years and he has been searching for her and their child ever since but now she has called him of her volition because something is wrong with their son.  As Sophie makes the decision to take Joshua to his father, she knows that it will be one of the hardest things in her life.  As a human, she was treated horribly by Dylan's pack but she will do whatever it takes to keep her son safe as she has been doing for the last 16 years.  What she was unprepared for was the awakening of all those old feelings being near Dylan again would stir up and the fact that Dylan had just arranged for a meeting with other pack leaders in preparation for the possibility of going to war against the Guardians, the ancient leaders of their race who were created by their goddess to protect her son, Taliesin, but who have become brutal despots wanting to kill or enslave all of their kind that are not pure enough.  Dylan broke away centuries ago to protect his brother who was born wolf and was unable to change to human for hundreds of years and for his sister who has power but cannot change her skin.  Now a banner of the Guardians has been left on his land and he will do whatever he must to protect his people and most especially his mate and child.

This mythology is taking more from the Celtic side of things which is what made me pick it up in the first place.  I love the fact that this is not a typical lust at first sight book where the guy sees the girl and decides she's the one without their knowing the first thing about each other.  Those books annoy the freaking heck out of me and the odds are high that this would have gotten thrown at a wall if it had been.  Instead, we see the aftermath of bad relationship decisions and are there as Sophie and Dylan figure out how to actually communicate and have a true relationship together.

I was really looking forward to following their story but as I've now started the second book, it's following the pattern of throwing a new pair together every book.  It remains to be seen if the stories are worth it or if they are going to turn into "Me Tarzan, you Jane, let's f***".  I'm hoping not as the world has potential.

Page count: 293p/9,018p ytd/223,952p lifetime

41:120 Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

A collection of stories set in the Mercy Thompson universe.  There is only one Mercy story in the collection, four of the stories are new and six are previously published.  Of those that have been published before, I'd read half of them so I felt like the collection was well worth the price but your opinion may vary on that.  I'm just going to do a run-down on the new material here.

Silver ~ The story of how Bran and Samuel became werewolves and Samuel's previous association with the fae, Arina.  This is not a happy story and I'm pretty sure it could be triggery for victims of abuse so read with caution.  The best part was the deeper insight into Bran.

Roses in Winter ~ Kara is the youngest person ever to survive a werewolf attack and the subsequent transformation but she is still unable to control her wolf and by Bran's laws she must be put down but Bran doesn't want to do it and is looking for a way around his own laws.  Kara stumbles into Asil's greenhouse and the two strike up the unlikeliest of friendships.  Asil is old and waiting to die but Kara is young and in need of help and she touches something within him.  Between him and Bran, maybe they can find a way to help her find her control.  A sweet tale and gripping.

Redemption ~ Some back story and a bit more insight on Ben.  I found this one a bit choppy and unfulfilling.

Hollow ~ A new Mercy tale.  Mercy ends up being called in to deal with a haunting but the case ends up being far from simple.  It has everything we've come to expect from a Mercy tale although a bit more Adam would have been nice although he does come in at the end.  Unfortunately, it's just making me miss them more and more and wish longingly for their next book.

In all, I enjoyed the collection and diving back into that universe.

Page count: 450p/8,725p ytd/223,659p lifetime

40:120 Black Water by Faith Hunter

A collection of three short stories set in the world of Jane Yellowrock and a preview of Broken Soul.

Black Water - takes place between Blood Trade and Black Arts. Jane and her team took out a group of shapeshifters but one of them had a brother in prison and he is not taking kindly to the murder of his sister.  He has escaped and is looking for Jane to take some revenge and is just fine going through other people to do so.

Snafu - takes place before the series starts and chronicles Jane's 'interview' for her first PI job after leaving the Christian children's home she had been in for several years.  It also introduces Nomad who is apparently someone that we are going to hear more about in the future.

Off the Grid - takes place just before Broken Soul and introduces us to the character of Nell, a woman who has had a hard life and meets Jane at the door with a shotgun when Jane comes to ask for her help.  She is going to be staring in her own series later this year.

I really enjoyed the stories but I think they are best read if you have at least read up until Broken Soul.  I don't remember much of Blood Trade but there was just enough in the short story to jog the memory enough to not feel lost.  It's always nice to get more of Jane's back story like we did with Snafu and I'm definitely very interested in Nell and where she is going.  I haven't read Broken Soul yet and now there is Dark Heir as well so I'm definitely behind and need to fix that.

Page count: 113p/8,275p ytd/223,209p lifetime

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

39:120 Black Widow by Jennifer Estep

Elemental Assassin Book 12.  Madeline Monroe has finally decided it's time to take Gin out but not in a frontal assault kind of way like her mother tried.  Madeline is more about wrecking havoc and using the 'law' of Ashland to get Gin and her friends out of her way and that was her biggest mistake.  Going after Gin directly is one thing and she can take that but going after her friends, their businesses, and then the Pork Pit?!  Yeah, that is taking things several steps too far and Gin is about to rain all over Madeline's parade.

A good installment in the series. It started out a touch slow but ramped up quickly and didn't stop.  Less repetition of the interior monologue variety this time although it was till present, just not annoyingly so.  Nice use of flashbacks as foreshadowing without hitting you over the head too heavily with the portent.  I'm really hoping that the Monroe saga is over now and we can move in a new direction.  The preview chapter for the next book was hilarious and watching Gin trying to be the big, bad yet diplomatic crime boss may end up being her hardest challenge ever (and hilarious to read).

Page count: 357p/8,162p ytd/223,096p lifetime

Friday, April 3, 2015

38:120 Low Midnight by Carrie Vaughn

The 13th book in the Kitty Norville series, the second to the last and the first to be told from Cormac's point of view.  Kitty feels that the secret to defeating Roman may lie in the Book of Shadows they got from Amy Scanlon before she brought the mountain down on top of herself and the cult that was trying to kill Kitty in an effort to power a spell to defeat Roman.  Cormac and his ghostly hitchhiker feel that Amy's aunt may hold the clue to deciphering it and he goes on a fact finding mission.  To prove himself worthy, her aunt sets him a challenge that will require much of Amelia's expertise and help and sees him falling back into a world he thought he had left behind.

Cormac has always been one of my favorite characters (and apparently I am not alone) and it was fascinating to get such an intimate look inside his head and his internal interactions with Amelia and how they are managing to co-exist.  I'm hoping that although this series will be wrapping up with Kitty Saves the World later this year that Ms. Vaughn will still throw short stories and novellas from that universe our way occasionally and I really hope that some of them will have Cormac leading again.

Page count: 309p/7,805p ytd/222,739p lifetime

Thursday, April 2, 2015

37:120 Bury Me In Satin by Seanan McGuire

Things are settling down for Jonathan and Fran as they watch their little Alice growing up.  One day Jonathan's father, Alexander, is asked to check in on Mary Dunlavy's father who hasn't been to work in a week.  Since Mary babysits Alice for Fran and Jonathan, Alex asks Fran to go over there.  She finds much more than she ever expected when the tray of cookies she hands to Mary slips through her ghostly hands and it's revealed that she has been dead for years.  She became a ghost to care for her father but now he won't wake up and she is lost.  Fran and Enid work together to bring peace for her and her father.

I was wondering when Mary's nature was going to be revealed to the Healy's and was surprised they hadn't picked up on it sooner.  This story still doesn't really explain why they didn't but it was a nice resolution for Mary.

Page count: 30p/7,496p ytd/222,430p lifetime

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

36:120 An Age of Voyages by Mary E. Weisner-Hanks

Middle-school history detailing the impact of trade and seafaring on civilizations around the world from 1350CE-1600CE.  I found that this one, unlike many in the series, focused more on the impact on Europe from trade.  There was one chapter on China, one on Africa mostly discussing how slavery impacted Europe, and then one on Central and South America that talked about how Spain benefited from what they got there.  Very little was discussed on how those things hurt the natives and what the long term impact was on them which I found disheartening.  Otherwise, it was pretty standard and a bit duller than the previous ones but still better than many textbooks covering this topic.

Page count: 189p/7,466p ytd/222,400p lifetime