Monday, August 31, 2015

95:120 Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

The Imagine Network is branching out into "reality documentaries" and their first one is a search for mermaids.  They've commissioned the Atargatis cruise ship to take a group of scientists out into the Marina Trench.  What the scientists don't know is that they've also commissioned a traveling group of professional "mermaids" to come with them to make sure something is seen.  What they couldn't know is the secret that the bathypelagic zone is hiding.  The crew and passengers of the Atargatis will never be seen again and the footage will be debated for years.

A new horror novella by Mira Grant.  It starts off very slow and it isn't until about 2/3, maybe even 3/4 of the way through and then it's a runaway train.  Well done and entertaining, in a disturbing kind of way.

Page count: 122p/25,074p ytd/240,006p lifetime

94:120 Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

My review from my first time reading it back in 2009:

So I remember reading at least part of these eons ago and all I could ever remember from it was the shadow that scared the beejezus out of me and I've never picked it up since.  Well, my brother has been waxing poetic about it and it was part of the English course I'm doing with foster son so I sucked it up, put on my big girl panties, and dove in. 

Yes, the shadow is still scary but I don't think I ever made it to the end as a child.  I really enjoyed the whole book and the deeper meanings within it.  I'm glad that I finally made it a priority and read it and I'm even more happy that my son and foster son have also read it and we get to share it together.  Beautifully written in a rich world with richer characters.  I really look forward to reading the rest of the series and other books by LeGuin.

This is now my third time reading this book and I have read the whole series now as well as a few other of Ms. LeGuin's work and it holds up so well.  I'm still enchanted with her worlds.  They are so rich and deep and it seems like every time I read them, I discover some other little nuance or buried thing that makes it that much better.

Page count: 336p/24,742p ydt/239,674p lifetime

Sunday, August 30, 2015

93:120 The Wings of Fire: The Lost Heir by Tui T. Sutherland

Book 2 in the Wings of Fire series.  After having escaped their guardians, the Skywing kingdom, and found that Mudwings don't really do families and Clay's mother had sold his egg for 5 cows, the Dragonets of Prophecy have decided to go check out the Seawings realm and search for Tsunami's parents. Tsunami always loved the tale of the Missing Princess who was welcomed home with much fanfare into her families loving arms once she was found.  She had no idea Queen Coral had written it nor that she, herself. was a missing princess of the Seawing kingdom.  However, as she soon learns, being a missing princess returned home is not nearly all she dreamed it to be.

9yr old is really insistent that I read the whole series so I'm thankful that they are written well for children's book and the plot, while definitely using basic tropes and characters, have a bit more depth than just that and a plot that while is fairly predictable is still done well.

Page count: 336p/24,742p ytd/239,674p lifetime

92:120 Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

The third book in the Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong.  Olivia is continuing to be plagued by visions and most especially by the little blond girl who insists she has something Olivia needs to see.  Gabriel is going to everyone he can find to try and figure out how to stop the visions in his efforts to protect Olivia from whatever is going on but when Olivia finally allows the visions to run their course, she finds out more than she could have ever dreamed about her distant past and how Gabriel, Ricky, and her are entwined in something so much bigger than they ever could have imagined.  Now she must try to figure out how to let them know without scaring them away or the consequences could be horrific for not just themselves but for races they are just now learning are still alive.  With this hanging over her, Gabriel now under suspicion of murder, and more details coming to light about her parents' supposed crimes, Olivia may be nearing her breaking point and the relationships she cares most about could be in jeopardy.

I've really enjoyed this series.  While there is a supernatural element, so much is about self-discovery and trying to solve the mysteries around Olivia and her entire life.  I couldn't put this down and am now saddened that I have to wait another year for the next one.

Page count: 453p/24,406p ytd/239,338p lifetime

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

91:120 Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Norse mythology told from the point of view of Loki, the trickster god.  In it are all the familiar tales of Loki and the Aesir Gods: Odin, Thor, Sif, Heimdall, Frey, Freya, Idun, etc.  We have the stories of Sif's hair, Freya's necklace, Thor's hammer, etc. leading up to and including Ragnarok.

I love mythology in general and this was held out for me as something that would likely interest me by my favorite bookstore (the last book they would ever do so as they closed soon after). I've read the author before, she has good Norse mythology credentials, and the first couple of lines drew me in so I was prepared for a good, fun romp though the legends from a witty and irreverent narrator.

I didn't get that.

What I got instead was the same basic stories that I've read before from a slightly different point of view but not with any great depth of insight, just a different camera angle.  Loki's voice was whiny without adding anything of any value. He never grew as a character. His great plans would frequently be more like a pebble in a stream than an avalanche of anything.

In short, it was boring and a slog to read.  I wanted so much to enjoy it but I had to force myself to finish it.  I kept holding out hope that it would get better and in truth, by the end Loki was a bit less whiny but really, that's the best thing I can say about it.

Page count: 280p/23,953p ytd/238,885p lifetime

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

90:120 Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka

Gregor Samsa woke one morning to find himself having mysteriously transformed into an insect of some form.  His first thought is of how to get to work in order to continue paying off the debts of his parents and providing for them and his sister.  His next is how this will affect his family when they see him in this condition.  What follows is the story as told from Gregor's perspective on how he manages to survive in his condition and the imposition this puts upon his family in caring for him.  Occasionally we hear of his pride in his sister's musical ability but mostly it's of how he is trying to be the least burdensome he can manage by hiding himself away as much as possible and how little joy he has left in his life.

This tale has been analyzed much better and more in depth than I could ever do by people who have studied it at length but here is my take having read it just once so it's just my initial thoughts rather than a studied approach.  I find it a bit disconcerting to enter the story at the point where Gregor has become a bug with no understanding of any events leading up to that but the fact that this does not strike him as strange and he never thinks about how it happened to him or how to reverse it leads me to believe that it was not unexpected to him.  Is this a metaphor for something else then, like homosexuality or mental illness?  Gregor seems a decent enough fellow so it hurt me to see how his family almost turned on him after his transformation despite everything he had given up to see to their needs for so many years including putting his own life and dreams on hold to provide for them. Again, this leads me thinking the whole bug thing is a metaphor for something else where it does not matter what else you are or have done, that new thing now defines you and you are seen as unfit to be the presence of others.  The way the family basically rejoiced as they left their house after his death frankly sickened me.

All told, I felt it was a powerful tale, well but simply told that left much open to interpretation and debate and left chilling and disturbing thoughts in its wake.

Page count: 48p/23,673p ytd/238,605p lifetime

Saturday, August 15, 2015

89:120 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

In Alice in Wonderland, Alice is daydreaming instead of paying attention to her lessons when she sees a white rabbit running through the field muttering "Oh dear, oh dear" to itself before taking a pocket watch out of its waistcoat pocket and she simply must follow to see where it's going.  This leads her down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland where nothing is quite what it seems.  She meets the Dodo, Mad Hatter, March Hare, Chesire Cat, the Duchess with a baby that turns into a pig and the cook that has an obsession with pepper, the Queen and King of Hearts and their playing card court, and many others. She learns that you should be very careful what you eat but even more careful of what you say.

When Alice then goes Through the Looking-Glass and has to find her way to becoming a Queen these lessons serve her well but she still ends up in a variety of strange situations where nothing seems to make any sense but she learns how to believe in the impossible which leads her through.

I've had this book on my shelf for as long as I can remember.  I have seen the Disney version more times than I can count and used to cosplay as Alice at conventions.  I always thought I had read the book all the way through but I realized as I was reading it to my youngest that there was a lot that I really had no recollection of so I'm pretty sure I never actually read it before now.  It was interesting reading the parts I had no idea about and compare them with all the different film versions I've seen.  It was definitely strange and left me wondering where in Carroll's brain this all came from (I often wonder the same thing about Baum) but I enjoyed it overall and it was definitely fun discussing the adventures with my 9yr old.

Page count: 304p/23,625p ytd/238,557p lifetime

Friday, August 14, 2015

88:120 Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The 50 Miss Dream Teen contestants think they are heading to a nice little beach trip but instead, their plane crashes into a deserted island.  All of their chaperons and other adults are killed as are more than half the girls upon impact. Now the remaining girls must figure out how to survive but if they are to be rescued, they also need to look their best and what about being ready to compete?  Well, turns out that isn't quite as important when you find the secret Corporation base on the island filled with people who knew you were there and were hoping you would die and are happy to take care of that little problem if the snakes don't do it for them.

I grabbed this book as a friend mentioned it as being on her to-read list and it sounded interesting.  I was looking for something a bit lighter so I picked it up and was not disappointed.  It was definitely more in the chic-lit section that I usually travel but at the same time, it was a book about friendship, finding themselves, learning to be honest about themselves.  I loved that they outlawed the word "sorry" on the island because they realized that girls and women tend to use that word all the time for things that they do not need to be apologizing for.  There were a lot of moments like that which were good positive feminist messages but there was plenty of WTH moments in it as well.  In all, I enjoyed it and it was perfect for my headspace this month.

Page count: 405p/23,321p ytd/238,253p lifetime

87:120 Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland

The 1st in the Wings of Fire series.  The Queen of the Sand Wings died and now her three daughters, Burn, Blaze, and Blister, are in a war to become the next Queen of the Sand Wings.  Almost every other group of dragons has chosen sides but there is a prophecy that 5 dragonets born on a certain night will bring about peace.  The contenders for queen have tried to stop the prophecy but the Talons of Peace have managed to get 4 of the 5 eggs having to substitute only the Sky Wing egg with a Rain Wing egg and are now trying to raise the dragonets in secret.  The only problem is that the dragonets are getting to the age where they want to see something besides the inside of their cave so when Marrowseer, the Night Wing dragon that had the prophecy, comes to visit and declares that Glory, the Rain Wing, must be killed the dragonets band together to escape.  They manage but are almost immediately caught by Queen Scarlet of the Sky Wings who is allied with Burn, the queen contender that killed the dragon that was to bring the Sky Wing egg to the Talons of Peace.  Now the dragonets are in the sort of trouble they have only read about in scrolls and have to try and figure out how to escape and even if they can do that, now that their guardians are dead or done with them, they must find new allies to help them survive.

I got this for my 9yr old because it looked like a fun series and he has devoured all of them and is now impatiently waiting for the next one.  He has also insisted I read the series as well.  I've been trying to be particular about which series of his I will read because he would be very happy to see me read everything he does and mommy needs some adult reading time.  I love dragons and this series looked interesting enough for me to give it a go.  The writing is not overly simplistic, plot is complex enough to keep me from being bored, and it looks like there will be actual character growth and development which is something that I find to missing all too often.  This had enough going on that I'll go ahead and give the second book a go.

Page count: 304p/22,916p ytd/237,848p lifetime

Thursday, August 13, 2015

86:120 Kitty Saves the World by Carrie Vaughn

14th and final book in the Kitty Norville series. Roman is finally ready to end The Long Game and Kitty and her friends have finally become a big enough nuisance and potential threat that he has decided to contact them directly. With the chance dangled in front of them, Kitty feels they have no choice but to try and take him out but when that doesn't work she is made aware of just how very vulnerable she and her friends are.  Now with most of her allies out of commission, she must do what she can with Ben and Cormac and the few others that are showing up out of the woodwork.  Now if they can just figure out where Roman plans to strike they may have a chance.  That is a big "if" made even more improbable with his pet demon continuing to make their life interesting.

I found this to be a very satisfying end to the series.  There was a good lead-up within the book to the final showdown but that was not short changed into something so quickly done that I felt cheated.  All the major questions were answered and the aftermath was dealt with nicely.  I'll miss Kitty and her friends but I feel like their story has been told and told well.  I will be happy if they show up again in other stories but if they don't, I won't feel like I was left hanging.

Page count: 318p/22,612p ytd/237,544p lifetime

Saturday, August 8, 2015

85:120 Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

The 8th book in the Kate Daniels series.  Kate and Curran are setting up their new home away from the Keep. This means 90 days of staying completely away while things are separated and Jim gets things going under his new reign as Beast Lord.  However, when George, Mahon's daughter, comes to them frantic because her fiance, were-buffalo Eduardo, is missing.  Eduardo was also in the Mercenary Guild so Kate starts the investigation there and finds things much changed from her days there.  They get a few leads but Curran also gets a few ideas.  As their investigation proceeds, they find ghouls, giants who are immune to Kate's power words, and a magic signature that they have never seen before.  Add in Kate still needs to figure out what that means that she has claimed the city of Atlanta and her father is building one of his towers just outside those limits and it's just another day in the life of Kate and Curran.

I love these books so much and especially the interaction between Kate and Curran.  My biggest sadness is that there is such a long wait between them.

Page count: 342p/22,294p ytd/237,226p lifetime

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

84:120 Sky Dragons by Anne McCaffrey & Todd McCaffrey

The 24th book set in the world of Pern, the last collaboration between Anne McCaffrey who created the world and her son Todd, written just before her death in 2011.

Plague has ravaged Pern and now the next pass is imminent but the Dragonriders and dragons were just as vulnerable to the epidemic as anyone and there are not enough dragons to fly Thread and keep the planet safe.  The only hope lies in sending a group of dragonets and their riders along with just a few slightly older riders to the Southern Continent in the hope that they will be spared the plague and their dragons will rise enough to help repopulate the Weyrs.  Unfortunately no one foresaw the problems with large predators and tunnel snakes or how close the Pass was and how unprotected they would be when Thread did start to fall.  Their only hope lies in going back in time but with their leader being the first female rider of a blue dragon in recorded history, their biggest problem will be in learning to trust her enough to survive.

It's been a couple of years since I read the book before this and this led to a lot of confusion reading this one as there was a lot I didn't remember clearly that was alluded to but not enough detail given to help jog the memory.  Also, there were a couple of times that dragon names were switched which caused me more confusion. I got through the book and I understand what happened but all the confusion made it a less enjoyable read than I normally find Pern books to be.  Add in that I felt the whole "go back in time to the Southern Continent to save the world"thing a giant cop out since that was the big thing back in the first couple of books for almost the same reason.  Honestly, given how much I love this series and much more Anne McCaffrey's books to Todd's I was disappointed in this one and I hate saying that.  I do plan to reread the series at some point and maybe reading it all together in order it will be better.  I can only hope.

Page count: 344p/21,950p ytd/236,884p lifetime

Saturday, August 1, 2015

83:120 Spider's Trap by Jennifer Estep

The 13th book in the Elemental Assassin series. Gin is in the worst possible place she could ever imagine, the big boss of Ashland which means not only is everyone still gunning for her but now she has to listen to their problems and come up with solutions as well.  Sitting in meetings listening to them is a bigger torture than anything she has ever experienced before so she was almost happy when she spotted the average man who seemed to have brought a bomb on board the River Queen.  Now she has the mystery of who wants her dead this time and why were they so willing to take out innocent bystanders with a bomb there?

Less repetitive inner monologuing in this one which was nice but I felt that some of the ways she remembered the information seemed a bit contrived when their were easier plot devices that were shown but then abandoned to go with dream sequences instead. Also, the end fight sequence where again it was luck and not her skill or magic that saved her again felt very contrived.  Other than that, I thought it was a good book and changed up the usual cliched plots.  The premise being laid out for the next installment also looks really intriguing and I'm excited to see where it goes.

Page count: 384p/21,606p ytd/236,540p lifetime