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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

79:120 Thor's Serpents by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr

The conclusion to the Blackwell Pages trilogy.  Ragnarok is arriving and nothing Matt, Fen, Laurie, and their friends have done seems to have slowed it down at all.  Now comes the final battles when Fen and Laurie must fight on opposite sides and Matt must face the Midguard Serpent alone to save the world.  They have all come so far but still, they are only barely teenagers even if they are descendants of the Norse gods and to have the fate of the whole world resting on their shoulders gets heavy no matter who you are but this news may just be the straw that breaks them.

A satisfying conclusion with plenty of well written action for the epic battles while still portraying the emotional toll on 13yr olds who have everything riding on them.  I hadn't read anything by M.A. Marr before but am a long time fan of K.L. Armstrong so I was very happy to see that the same care went into these books that I've seen in her adult books.  The characters are consistently strong but flawed and the growth is good to see, especially since children reading these books are still growing and trying to figure themselves out so I think it's good for them to see that even Thor reborn has doubts and second-guesses himself and asks for help, makes mistakes but learns from them.

Page count: 360p/20,415p ytd/235,349p lifetime

Thursday, July 16, 2015

78:120 Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

Faith has just moved to Freesia Court, away from everything she has ever known and now her husband is away on business (he's a pilot) and left her alone there with twin babies not knowing a soul in the neighborhood when the lights go out and she is left in the dark with the snow outside.  Next thing she knows, her house has been pelted by a snowball and some of the neighborhood women are inviting her out for a snowball fight.

Thus begins the most important friendships of their lives as these five women form the book club known as the AHEB (Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons).  Over the years their living rooms are filling with coffee and desserts, children, births, fights, and everything else life throws at them.  It's the type of friendship that everyone needs in their lives and these women are lucky enough to find.

This is apparently the book that brought about the book club I joined and we read it this month as it was our 10 year anniversary.  I've only been with the club a little over two years but it's been a wonderful experience (even if we don't all live on the same street but instead over many miles).  I enjoyed the book and can fully understand why Charlotte decided someone else needed to read this book and discuss the ending with her and I'm thankful that they didn't which led her to form the book club so they would have to.  A lovely read and a great way to bring friends together.

Page count: 448p/20,055p ytd/234,989p lifetime

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

77:120 Odin's Ravens by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr

The second book in the Blackwell Pages trilogy.  Matt, Fen, and Laurie are headed to Hel to try and bring Baldwin back from the dead in an effort to avoid Ragnorok by changing the events leading up to it.  While they are successful in finding and bringing Baldwin back with them, Ragnorok is still coming.  Matt must find Thor's Hammer if any of them are going to have a chance of coming out of this alive and preventing the end of the world.  Unfortunately, Matt is still a teenager and a trusting one at that and in this installment he has to learn some very hard truths.

A good second installment which is a nice change from the several trilogies I've been reading lately where the second book has completely fallen flat.  This kept the pace going, some character growth was evident (sometimes sorely lacking in children's literature), with enough humor in place to keep it from being too scary.  My 14yr old has been loving the series and I'm pretty sure my 9yr old will as well once he tries them.

Page count: 342p/19,607p ytd/234,541p lifetime

Friday, July 10, 2015

76:120 The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

The conclusion of the All Souls trilogy. Diana and Matthew have returned from the past with the knowledge of how Diana's power works, as a weaver rather than a spell caster, and ideas of how to find the missing pages of Ashmole 782.  However war is brewing among those on the Council against Matthew and Diana and their flouting of the prohibition of relationships between the different races and it's worse once it's obvious that Diana is pregnant with twins.  They and their allies must be cautious but also moving quickly to find the missing pages and put Ashmole 782 together again to unlock its secrets as that may be their only chance of surviving.

While the first book was amazing and the second was a slog, this was somewhere in between.  It flowed decently for the most part but there were new enemies brought in to throw new wrenches in the works that I don't think were actually necessary.  On the whole, it was a decent conclusion to the series with all major questions answered.

Page count: 561p/19,265p ytd/234,199p lifetime

Sunday, July 5, 2015

75:120 Midway Relics and Dying Breeds by Seanan McGuire

A short story of carnivals set in a future where technology has exploded and humans have finally woken up and realized that they need to take better care of their natural resources.  Ansley is part of a traveling carnival that does it's best to give people a taste of what the carnivals once were while still living within the new rules of society.  Her primary job within the Family is caring for Billie, an experiment of genetic engineering Indricothere, and she is content with that and her place for the most part.  The big problem is Davo who took over the family a few years prior and has never been happy with her since her refusal of his marriage proposal.  Now he is just turning mean and doing things to hurt her even at the expense of the Family.  Ansley must decide whether to continue to put up with things as they are or follow her heart and find her place out in the world.

This was not set in any of Ms. McGuire's current universes although it could be the prelude to something new.  As a result the setting and characters are only given the barest descriptions and fleshing out so it's hard to be very invested in any of them.  Davo is a simple villain with simple motivations and Ansley is much more wishy-washy and willing to put up with abuse which is unusual for Ms. McGuire as well.  On the whole, not a bad story but does not quite live up to her usual standards in my opinion.

Page Count: 32p/18,704p ytd/233,638p lifetime

Friday, July 3, 2015

74:120 Dark Heir by Faith Hunter

The 9th book in the Jane Yellowrock series. Jane knew she should have taken Adrianna's head back way back when she first had the chance but Leo had stayed her hand then and she listened.  Now, they are both regretting it as Adrianna has done the unthinkable and loosed one of the most ancient vampires on the city of New Orleans. Now it's up to Jane to find one of the progenitors of the vampires and bring him down without killing him with the help of her ex-Army Ranger and his brother who have now become family, the Onorio Buster who has become her lover, and her best friend Molly who is also a witch.  Even with all their help it will still be the hardest hunt she has ever tried.

Another amazing installment in the series.  Jane is changing more and more but here we see her having to embrace the changes that the angel has brought upon her.  It was so good to see her opening up and becoming more comfortable with her emotions.  Even best was seeing Molly back.

I can NOT wait for the next book!

Page count: 372p/18,672p ytd/233,606p lifetime