Monday, June 29, 2015

73:120 Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Second time reading this book, this time for book club.  Here's my previous review:

All I can say after reading this is Wow!  An intricate world is built in these pages and you can tell that there is much, much more to learn about it in future books.  I love how we don't get a lot of expose in the beginning but instead are put right into the story and the world and characters are allowed to unfold more naturally as we go. The characters are intense and there is always something more to learn about them as well.  I truly don't want to say much about any of it for fear of giving anything away but let's just say there is a magically hidden book, a forbidden romance, magic, and of course witches, vampires, and deamons (oh my!) but even more interesting is the scientific bent overlaid on top of it all...until the magic covers it over again.

A fantastic book and I'm anxiously awaiting the second book in the series.

I can say I wasn't quite as enamored with it this time as I was the first but it still kept me gripped and I can't believe how much I had forgotten.  Probably a good thing I read it again since I still need to read the third one.  I think I'll just go find the cliff notes for the 2nd one so I can skip slogging through that one again.

Page count: 830p/18,300p ytd/233,234p lifetime

Friday, June 12, 2015

72:120 Inked by Chance, Liu, Galenorn, & Wilkes

A collection of urban fantasy novellas with tattoos figuring heavily into the story.

Skin Deep by Karen Chance ~ A story that takes place in the world of Cassie Palmer.  Lia is a war mage who has been sidelined due to injury but now she has a magical ward that has taken up residence on her skin which she has no idea how to remove or what it does.  She can't be bothered with that when she finds out that her boyfriend, the werewolf Cyrus, has been kidnapped by someone who is skinning and killing werewolves of no importance.  She is his only chance to find and rescue him so all the other worries will have to wait.

I've enjoyed the Cassie Palmer series but I just couldn't get into this one.  After doing some digging, apparently this is one in a series of novellas about these characters which might explain why I kept feeling very lost, like there was a lot of backstory that I didn't know and should.

Armor of Roses by Marjorie M. Liu ~ Maxine has just found a dying man near her car who was looking for her with a letter from her grandmother.  He is part of a band of children that her grandmother rescued from a very bad woman during WWII but when Maxine starts looking into things, she finds that traveling back in time to work with her grandmother is the only way to try and set things right in her time.

This was my first introduction to this series and while I did feel like there was backstory that I wasn't privy to, I didn't feel like I was missing anything necessary to understanding the basic motivations of the characters or their abilities.  It was definitely interesting enough that I am glad I have some of the books on my shelf to read, probably sooner rather than later.

Etched in Silver by Yasmine Galenorn ~ Camille D'Artigo is on a crap assignment for the YIA to find and take down a rapist and murderer.  However, because her boss wants her to fail she is being given bad intel so when she stumbles upon a dark elf who knows where her suspect is and is willing to help her take him down, she immediately jumps upon the opportunity.  The fact that there are almost immediate sparks whenever they touch doesn't hurt but neither are prepared for just what those sparks really mean.

I love Ms. Galenorn's Otherworld series and have read this story before but wasn't upset to read it again.  Camille and Trillian are a fabulous couple.

Human Nature by Eileen Wilks~ FBI Agent Lily Yu would not normally get called out for the murder of a werewolf in CA except that she is there to support her mate, Cyrus, who has asked her to see if there is anything suspicious about the death.  She pulls a few strings and finds that there was a new tattoo on the victim's throat, right where it was slit, that hadn't been there just a few hours before.  Certainly seems like something to investigate further, especially with a Humans First leader living in town.

This was also my first venture into this world and while there was definitely a lot of backstory and other characters were mentioned as not being present for some reason which wasn't really explained, the basics of the world and the main characters of this story were which is really what matters.  I'm not rushing out to buy her books based on this one novella but I could see them ending up on my shelf at some point.

Page count: 437p/17,470p ytd/232,404p lifetime

71:120 Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

The classic children's book that the Disney movie was based on.  The Banks family is in need of a new nanny when Mary Poppins seemingly blows in from nowhere.  She does the ordinary things one would expect of a nanny but somehow, extraordinary things always seem to happen around her like the conversations she and the babies have with the bird or when the star comes down to have Jane and Michael help her with her Christmas shopping.

Mary Poppins is one of my all-time favorite movies so I was really excited to read this with my 9ry old son who also loves the movie so of course, it's basically impossible to read the book and not compare it with the movie.  I was expecting similar characters with more depth and maybe more adventures because 99 times out of 100, the book is infinitely better than the movie.  Unfortunately, I feel like this is in the 1% where this isn't true.  Mary Poppins in the book is much more vain and doesn't have the little winks and mannerisms that she does in the movie to take the sting out of her "no-nonsense" attitude leaving her coming off as generally cold and forbidding.  It's frequently stated that the kids aren't going to do something because they don't want to risk her displeasure, even things as simple as asking a question.  I found her unlikable and while the children are inconsolable by the woman in the house that is apparently their mother (the parents are basically non-entities) and wish for her back, other than the adventures they occasionally have with her it's hard to understand why.  My son's opinion was the same and he kept saying she was just mean and he didn't like her at all in the book and he has no interest in the others in the series.  I can't say I blame him.

Page Count: 210p/17,033p ytd/231,967p lifetime

Thursday, June 11, 2015

70:120 Life Sentence: Two Tales of the Living Dead by Kelley Armstrong

Two short stories by Kelley Armstrong about the undead.

Life Sentence ~ Daniel Boyd, a younger son of the Boyd Cabal (a familiar name to those who have read her Otherworld series) has been told he has 6 months to live.  While the other Cabals are researching vampires, he tries the other route...zombies.  Of course, to find a way to turn himself into a zombie with full control over himself and none of that icky rotting issue to deal with is going to take finding a scientist with a lot of brains and few qualms about *ahem* experimentation.

Last Stand ~ The Zombie outbreak has finally happened and survivors are scattered all over.  This group is uncertain how many more are out there and they are willing to live in peace together if only the Others would allow it.  Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be a choice so what else can they do?

Both stories are well written with nice little twists at the end.  The Boyd Cabal is one that is not a big player in the Otherworld series and you still don't get much of a sense of them in this story as it's pretty short and focused on the main narrative and not much world building.  Last Stand doesn't seem to be set in any of her other worlds and again, with how short it is there is not much world building but it's definitely an intriguing concept.

Page count: 33p/16,823p ytd/231,757p lifetime

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

69:120 Broken Soul by Faith Hunter

Jane Yellowrock #8. The European vamps are coming to visit Leo and he is paranoid enough to pay any price Jane demands in order to make sure that security is in tiptop shape before they arrive.  What none of them knew was that there were already European vamps in the states interested in things that Leo would rather keep hidden.  Things they wish to acquire for themselves and for which they are willing to go to any lengths to obtain.

There were some interesting resolutions to certain things that have been getting teased at in previous books, especially in Jane and Beast's relationship.  In all, this book gripped me quickly even though it's been a while since I read the last one and made it difficult to put down. So glad I have the next one already sitting on the shelf and ready to go!

Page count: 342p/16,790p ytd/231,724p lifetime

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

68:120 White as a Raven's Wing by Seanan McGuire

Ryan has finally proposed to Istas.  She knows how important marriage and children are to him and she is willing to join him for these things but she also knows that to be true to those ideals she must first go home and confront her father who has claimed her as his wife after killing her mother according to the traditions of her people.  It will not be easy, even harder with Ryan's insistence that he goes with her, but she can do nothing else if she is to honor their relationship even if it means her death trying.

Lots more into the culture of the waheela in this one which I really enjoyed.  It's nice getting other perspectives into this universe besides those of the Price family (although I love those!).  I hope we get more stories with Istas and Ryan.  They seem an interesting pair to follow as they try to navigate a cross-species relationship.

Page count: 35p/16,448p ytd/231,382p lifetime

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 3rd 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, school is finally out so I'm working hard to get caught up on a bunch of my personal reading.  The fact that I didn't add a ton this last quarter is going to help but oh boy, that is so not the case with this next quarter.  Apparently everyone was aiming for summer releases this year...

Flight From Death by Yasmine Galenorn kicks off the big 3rd quarter.  This is the start of her new Fly by Night series featuring Shimmer, a blue dragon, and the detective agency she works for run by Alex Radcliffe, a vampire.  Set in the world of Ms. Galenorn's Otherworld series, we have already been introduced to the characters in the short novella, Flight From Hell with the help of the D'Artigo sisters. I love that world and am definitely interested in seeing it from a different perspective.

Release Date: July 7

The following week sees two new books by authors not usually on my list.  Armada by Ernest Cline is his second book but after his Ready, Player, One which was fabulous, I'm very interested to see if he can pull it off again.  Zack seems to be a typical, every day nerd (so my kinda person) and even though he knows that the stuff he reads about and watches on TV isn't real, a part of him can't help but wish it were.  And then one day, it is...

Release Date: July 14

And speaking of second books, Go Set a Watchmen by Harper Lee has been a long time coming.  A sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird but written before it, it will be interesting to see what her original take on her characters was before she was asked to change it around completely.

Release Date: July 14

To finish off July, there is Spider's Trap by Jennifer Estep.  Gin took out Mab's daughter in the previous book and has now set herself up to take up the mantle of Head Crime Boss for the town.  Of course, this means that everyone will be gunning for her even more than ever but now she has to actually try and keep the bad guys in line with something more than her knives.

Release Date: July 28

August starts off big with a double header.  First up, Kitty Saves the World by Carrie Vaughn.  This is it, the end of the series and it looks like Kitty is going out with a bang.  With the information that Cormac was able to dig up in Low Midnight, Kitty and her friends are going to make their play but Dux Bellorum is already ahead of them and they are outgunned and outnumbered at every turn.  With all the friends Kitty has made over the years, can she bring them together to save the world?

Release Date: August 4

On the same day, Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews also comes out.  Kate and Curran are working to set up their lives away from The Pack now although they both know it will take time to completely separate themselves.  However, when one of Kate's friends from the Merc Guild goes missing, it turns out that the ancient enemy is rising.

Release Date: August 4

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong is the only other book on my list coming out in August.  We left Olivia with her ex-fiance stalking her at the behest of her enemies, those who most likely framed her parents for murder and Olivia herself trapped in her own head in so many ways.  Now her visions are becoming more frequent and she must learn to interpret them and find a way to strike a balance in her mind.

Release Date: August 18

September starts off with another crazy double header.  A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire is the start of the story that everything up until now has been getting Toby ready for and that probably doesn't bode well for her.

Release Date: September 1

Kim Harrison also kicks off a new series with The Drafter.  I'm not 100% sold on this one yet but I'll definitely be doing some more research.  Details are still kind of spotty but I really enjoyed her other work so odds are good I'll give it a chance.  Minority Report meets Bourne Identity could be interesting...

Release Date: September 1

Next up is a new collection of short stories in Led Astray by Kelley Armstrong.  The collection is to include stories from the Otherworld, Cainsville, Darkest Powers, and Age of Legends series.  I'm very interested in reading the stuff from Otherworld and Cainsville and I figure it will give me a chance to see what the other two series are like since to date, the blurbs haven't gripped me enough to actually delve into them.

Release Date: September 8

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs is the third book the Miss Peregrine Home for Peculiar Children series.  Unfortunately I'm a book behind so all I can tell from the synopsis I'm seeing is that there is danger everywhere for these children and their caregiver, Miss Peregrine.  Hoping I can get caught up before it comes out.

Release Date: September 22

And the final book for this quarter is Autumn Moon by Jan DeLima.  Elen was made outcast because of her powers and lack of ability to shift to a wolf.  Now her powers and her kind heart have caused her to save her friends and use the energy she gained from that to change Cormack from the man in a wolf's body he has always been into a full shapeshifter.  Now Cormack finds himself wanting more from Elen than just her friendship but wants to be able to present himself as a full-man rather than one who is still learning the basics like a baby.  Before he can do that however, Pendaran has kidnapped Elen to force her to use her magic to aid him and his cause.  

Release Date: September 29

So yeah, a LOT of new releases coming out in the next couple of months.  I'm thankful that in all but one case, they are either stand-alones, starting a new series, or I'm caught up in the series already.  Still, lots and lots of reading to be getting done and I still haven't even gotten caught up in Elfquest before events in the Final Quest so I can read those as they come out.  That is definitely something I need to find time to change this summer.

Happy Reading!

67:120 Black as Blood by Seanan McGuire

Ryan, a tanuki, has asked his girlfriend Istas, a waheela, to travel cross-country to meet his family. To a tanuki this is a huge deal as their species is almost extinct and mating is an imperative among all fertile members of the species.  Since the tanuki is odd in that they can breed true with any other species this doesn't seem like a big deal until you realize that waheela are vicious predators that tend to eat their young.  Needless to say, Ryan's tanuki mother is not a fan of Istas.  Istas manages her temper beautifully (waheela are also famous for their hair-trigger temper) and things really go about as well as can be expected.

Istas and Ryan are not hugely prominent figures in the series but it's sweet to watch their relationship grow in these short stories.

Page count: 19p/16,413p ytd/231,347p lifetime

Monday, June 1, 2015

66:120 Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

In Divergent, we follow Tris's point of view from the time of her testing and initiation as a transfer into Dauntless and through the events that then unfold because of her being Divergent.  In this collection, we go back a few years prior to that and see Four's experiences.  His choice to escape his father's brutality at home by becoming Dauntless, his initiation into his new faction, his choices as he learns more and more about what is being hidden and how some of the factions are working together against the common good.

I frequently enjoy reading stories with other POVs than the main series and this was no exception.  I enjoyed Four in the series and always wondered what his life had been like prior to when we meet him with Tris.  This was a nice return to that world with an interesting twist.

Page count: 285p/16,394p ytd/231,328p lifetime

65:120 Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

Pinocchio starts life as a block of wood who is then carved into a marionette to be a son for the good Geppetto but Pinocchio turns out to be a very bad boy indeed.  He runs off and follows bad advice again and again and again breaking the heart of his father, Geppetto, and the Fairy with the Blue Hair.  He ends up almost being burned to heat the puppeteer's dinner, almost killed by assassins, swindled out of money for his papa, locked in jail, accused of murder, turned into a donkey, and eventually swallowed by a enormous dogfish.  Of course, in the end, he learns his lesson and becomes a real boy and a joy to his papa.

Up until now, I'd only ever been familiar with the Disneyfied version of the story so it was a shock to me just how awful Pinocchio was.  He starts life by locking Geppetto out of his own home, squishing the Talking Cricket, and then falling asleep and burning his feet off.  There are many similarities between the stories but so much more happens to him due to his own follies in the book.  It definitely seems like it was written to impart better behaviors on little boys.  What made reading this such a treat though is that I was reading the book that was in my husband's grandfather's nursery to my son.  Such a cool thing to do!

Page count: 157p/16,109p ytd/231,043p lifetime

64:120 Blocked by Seanan McGuire

Antimony Price is graduating high school.  She was there to learn how to socialize and integrate with normal society but while there, she found her niche in the cheerleading squad.  Now that it's over however, there is a vacant hole in her life and she doesn't know what to do next.  As a Price, she has to keep out of the spotlight which means most activities she would enjoy and be good at are things she can't pursue in case the Covenant sees her face and comes after her and her family.  She is dejected until her cousin takes her for a rollerball derby try-out...

This is our first real glimpse at Antimony outside of descriptions of her from Verity and Alex's point of view.  We still have another Verity lead book before she gets her first time to shine in the spotlight so it's nice to get an idea of what we will be in for when it's finally her turn.

Page count: 15p/15,952p ytd/230,886p lifetime