Monday, September 28, 2015

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 4th 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.

Still running behind in a few series.  I've gotten a few under control but still quite a few that have gotten away from me.  *sigh*  Eventually I'll get caught up on those but it doesn't matter, I'll still be buying in my current series plus other things that catch my eye.  I'm thankful that this quarter is fairly light though since the 12th grade English is definitely on the heavier side.

Appropriately enough, October starts off with White Trash Zombie Gone Wild by Diana Rowland, the 5th book in the series.  When we last left Angel, she was becoming a true member of the zombie mofia.  There have been a lot of changes for her, mostly for the good, since she became a zombie but all of that is in jeopardy as she uncovers a plot to expose zombies to the public. Can she and undead friends put a stop to it or are they in serious danger of losing their heads?

Release Date: October 6

Yasmine Galenorn has a new series coming out as well with Autumn Thorns. Meet Kerris Fellwater, a former resident of Whisper Hollow, who ran away 15 years ago but can no longer ignore the signs that it's time for her to return and replace her grandmother as the spirit shaman of the town where the dead don't always rest easy.

Release Date: October 27

So speaking of series I really need to get caught up with, Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger is the fourth book in the Finishing School series and I've yet to even read the first book. That being the case, I really can't say much about this one except I am going to get to this series sooner rather than later!!!

Release Date: November 3

Reap the Wind by Karen Chance was significantly delayed but after two years with no Cassie, she's back! This time she is searching through time searching for Pritkin, with his dad in tow, to save him, hopefully without pissing off too many more demons or creating time paradoxes that are too awful.

Release Date: November 3

Amazingly enough, Chimera by Mira Grant is the last book in that trilogy and the last book I'm really looking forward to this year.  The implanted tapeworms are awake and taking over the human race. Sal and her family must come to terms with themselves and their nature if they are to have any chance of saving themselves.  I will admit, I found the last book a bit slow but am hopeful that this one where things have to wrap up will be better.

Release Date: November 24

103:120 Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck was feeling out of touch with America so decided to go on a road trip, just him and his dog Charley, to try and get a feel for the pulse of his country.  His preparations are extensive and we get a good look at them before he sets off.  We hear a lot about the start of his trip as he heads north to Maine from NY so he can travel the entire length of the country but once he starts west, we skip over large swaths of time.  He admits that the story is more of a feeling of the adventure he went on than completely factual (he is a fiction writer after all) but it still has a ring of truth to it.

I'm generally a fan of Steinbeck but man, this was a hard one to get into.  It traveled around the country without really going anywhere.  He spent the majority of the book lamenting the lack of personality in the places he went.  There were a few neat interactions with people but it was like sitting around the dinner table chatting with my dad for a few hours.  A lot of meandering, a few interesting anecdotes, but mostly no point to the whole thing.

Page count: 290p/27,396p ytd/242,312p lifetime

Friday, September 25, 2015

102:120 Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdome by Tui T. Sutherland

The 3rd book in the Wings of Fire series.  The dragonets of prophecy have still not found what they are looking for after visiting the Mudwings and finding Clay's parents and then with the Seawings where they found out that Tsunami really is a lost princess so now they are searching out the kingdom of the Rainwings so Glory can feel more vindicated about her race.  Unfortunately for her, when they do find the Rainwings, many of the common complaints she has grown up hearing from the Talons of Peace guardians seem to be validated. However, after spending some time with them she does learn many of the reasons why and some of them even make sense.  Unfortunately, she also finds that some are all too true especially when she finds out that several Rainwings have gone missing and almost no one seems to be interested in doing anything about it. Glory can't stand for that so she and her friends take it into their own talons to go searching the forest for clue and what they find is nothing they could have expected and will change how they view many things.

Another good installment.  The characters are growing as they are exposed to the outside world and learn more about the people and themselves which I really like seeing in any book but seems to be especially missing from children's books.  Simplistic writing style but not overly so and good pacing which is good because my 9yr old is very insistent that I read the whole series.

Page count: 336p/27,106p ytd/242,022p lifetime

Thursday, September 24, 2015

101:120 The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My review from 2011:

This one sees the Ingalls move back into town after hearing that the winter will be harsh.  Little did anyone know exactly how harsh it would end up being and how lucky they would all be to survive.  7 months of blizzards ended up completely stopping the supply trains and leaving almost the entire town on the brink of starvation.  But it also shows the determination and fortitude of the pioneers that they not only managed to find ways to survive and grow stronger from it but they continually tried to do so with a positive attitude.  Such amazing people. 

I think that says it all.

Page count: 334p/26,770p ytd/241,686p lifetime

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

100:120 The Ramayana (A shortened modern prose version of the Indian Epic) by R.K. Narayan

Originally written in Sanskrit in the 4th century by Valmiki, there have been countless versions written since.  Narayan drew on the work of the 11th century version written by Kamban to write a piece that was shorter and more accessible since the original is over 1000 verses long.  The Ramayana is an epic tale known to almost everyone in India.

Rama was a prince and when his father felt it was time to retire and enjoy what remained of his life, he chose Rama to succeed him but one of his other wives called in a favor he had given her for saving his life and insisted that her son be named as his successor instead and that Rama be banished to the woods for 14 years. Rama as a dutiful son will not hear of his father going back on his word and departs immediately accompanied by his wife, Sita, and another brother, Laxman.  While they live in the woods, a demon falls in love with Sita and steals her away.  Rama is completely distraught and searches high and low for her.  Eventually, she is found and Rama dispatches the demon with honor just in time for him to return home and claim his throne from his brother who would only accept being temporary ruler during Rama's absence because of his own mother's wickedness.

I really enjoyed the tale but I will state that I'm glad this version apparently glossed over the tests that Sita was put through to prove her purity and loyalness to Rama while she was held captive.  Just hearing about it briefly in the forward bugged me a lot.  I found some of the morals that Rama was upholding to be an interesting look at what was important during that time in that place and I find it fascinating that the whole epic is still given so much life today.  I'm actually planning to try and find a tv or movie version and see it performed live.

Page count: 196p/26,436p ytd/241,352p lifetime

Monday, September 21, 2015

99:120 The Martian by Andy Weir

First book by Andy Weir.

Mark Watney was part of the Ares 3 mission to Mars to explore the surface of the red planet.  After a huge duststorm hits where there base is located, they are told to evacuate but the communications antennae whipped around by the storm pierces his spacesuit and drags him away from the rest of the crew.  They leave and when he wakes up, he finds that he is all alone on the desolate planet.  Mark is a pretty resourceful guy so he starts trying to figure out how he can survive until the next Ares mission reaches Mars in a few years and get to where their base will be so maybe he can hitch a ride back home to Earth.

Meanwhile on Earth, everyone thinks Mark Watney is dead until one day he manages to get communications established once more through amazing ingenuity and then the entire planet is pulling for him to come back.  The big question is how in the worlds can NASA pull it off considering how much time and work goes into a Mars mission?

I bought this book for my 16yr old son who tends to prefer SciFi to fantasy (like his father) last Hanukkah but he hadn't read it yet and then my husband found out about the movie and asked if we owned the book. Upon hearing we did, he yelled for the now-17yr old to bring it to him.  He had is finished a few days later with many snorts punctuating his reading.  This lead the 17yr old to pick it up and devour it in a few days, again with many snorts punctuating his reading.  At this point, I told him to fork it over so I could see what the big deal was.  It's a scifi thriller, no doubt, but the writer does an excellent job of bringing in levity and snark before and after the tremendously tense scenes which helps keep it from being dark and depressing which it easily could have been.  The science seems plausibly sound and Mark Watney is a guy you can't help but like and admire.  In all, an excellent book and one I highly recommend.

Page count: 369p/26,420p ytd/241,352p lifetime

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

98:120 The Drafter by Kim Harrison

The first in a new series by Kim Harrison, author of the Rachel Morgan Hollow series.

Peri Reed is a Drafter, a person who can go back a few seconds in their own personal time line and change things.  She is working for Opti Corporation and believes that she is a good agent working for the good of not only her company but also for her government to protect people.  Her new assignment seems totally normal until the CEO of the company she and her partner, Jack, are infiltrating comes walking into his office telling her that he has the list of corrupt agents and her name is on it.  His security guard comes in and shoots Peri which causes her to Draft to save her own life and in that time period, her partner changes everything and then helps to push the new timeline into her head to make that real and keep her from remembering the old one.

Silas is an anchor, one of the first and incredibly good, who no longer works for Opti but for the Alliance, a group who is trying to take Opti and their Drafting program down.  He is sent to get Peri away from Opti and try to extract information from her for that cause but now Opti has managed to cause a Draft and use that to erase the last 3 years of Peri's life and Silas's job has gotten much, much harder.  Peri now suspects that she can't trust anyone at Opti but she has no reason to trust Silas either.  The only thing she really knows for sure is that she needs to figure out what has been going on in her life for the last several years before she can move forward.

This was quite a departure from the Rachel Morgan series and while I don't always jump into new series, even by authors I love, if they don't seem intriguing to me but when the concept for this one was announced, I immediately put the release date on my calendar.  It's not quite my usual genre being more mystery but the time jumping aspect added in piqued my interest and I'm so glad I read it.  It's very different and very hard to put down but there is also a LOT going on that you are trying to keep track of and many different twists and turns.  Apparently this is the start of a new series so while this one wrapped up nicely there are enough loose ends dangling so it will be interesting to see where the next one goes.

Page count: 422p/26,051p ytd/240,983p lifetime

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

97:120 The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

An enchanting world of fantasy where we enter into the life of Mole just as he decides to leave his normal abode in the ground for something new and different.  This leads him to the River where he meets the Water Rat who invites him to stay and thus a beautiful friendship is born and our journey starts.  Rat shows Mole all the joys and wonders of living on the River and introduces him to his friends including Badger and of course, Toad.  Toad who is not a bad sort but is incorrigible and reckless but has a heart of gold even if he holds himself in the highest regard.  Some of the adventures in the book are just Mole and Rat but when Toad enters the picture, that's when things really go off the rails.

My only previous experience with these tales were watching the Disney movie based on them, so seriously lacking.  I shared this with my 9yr old for our reading time and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  The language is exquisite in its rich detail and imagery while still being easy for a younger person to enjoy and figure out what the bigger words mean although mine was seriously upset at Rat calling Toad an "ass".  "What is that in a children's book!?" he cried.  This led to a discussion about appropriate language and how that can change through time.  In all, a beautiful book and I'm even more glad that I got to read it aloud and share it with my son.

Page count: 197p/25,629p ytd/240,561p lifetime

Saturday, September 5, 2015

96:120 Red Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire

The 9th book in the October Daye series.  Now with Queen Windermere on her rightful throne, things seem to have slowed down a bit for Toby and she is finally able to relax a bit.  Then Queen Windermere's seneschal is shot in front of her court and just like that, down time is canceled.  War has been declared on them by the Kindgom of Silences to the North.  Now Toby is being sent to try and diplomatically bring this to an end but when she gets there with her small group of friends, what she finds is worse than she could have ever imagined.  King Rhys is not alone, instead he has the former Queen of the Mists as his consort, and she hates Toby with a fierce passion.  There is also goblin fruit in abundance and a perverted court where only those pure-bloods deemed worthy enough to bear the title are allowed.  Worst of all, Rhys declares that the only way for Toby to end the war before it starts is to give herself up to him so they have access to her blood and magic.

Another riveting tale.  I continue to love this series and be saddened that there is only one a year but that can't stop me from diving right in as soon as I get the new one and devouring it as quickly as possible.  I really can't wait to see where things go with Toby and Tybalt and what fate has in store for them next.

Page count: 358p/25,432p ytd/240,364p lifetime