Saturday, October 31, 2015

118:120 Deadly Spells by Jaye Wells

The third book in the Prospero's War series.  A new player is in town and seems to be trying to start a coven war by offing Charm, Abe's right hand man who is currently leading the Votary coven while he's incarcerated, and then beating Harry Bane, the leader of the Sanguine coven, almost to death before Kate and Morales show up and stop him.  What clues they have been able to gather points to A Morte, a Brazilian coven, trying to stir things up and get a foothold in Babylon.  The last time Gardner, the head of the MEA, ran into them it cost her entire team their lives and put her in Babylon on her last life in the organization.  She is incredibly motivated to find and stop them this time, as is her team, but some costs are too high to pay.  Kate especially is going to have to cross lines she thought she was done looking at when she got out of the covens and she is going to to learn truths that will remold her view of the past and what her future will be.

This series hit the ground running and each book seems to find a new gear to shift into.  The revelations that came out in this one were top-notch and while I was drawn in immediately, by half-way through putting it down became almost physically painful.  When does the next one come out???

Page count: 400p/30,512p ytd/245,428p lifetime

Friday, October 30, 2015

117:120 When We Come To It by Stefon Mears

Filya has been forced away from the profession he loves and is called to do in order to fight in a war of a mad king that has been going on for 10 years.  His only option is to desert and flee to the south but his current scouting partner is a knight who cares more about loyalty and honor, especially since his brother has already deserted.  Now they are caught up in a trap that could kill them both or release Filya.  The choice is his...

In one way, I really enjoy these short stories because you get what is usually an intense snapshot that seems like it is taken out of the middle of a bigger story.  On the other hand, they frustrate me immensely because I want to know the rest of the story around it darn it all!!!  Grrrrr!!!!

Page count: 14p/30,112p ytd/245,028p lifetime

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

116:120 Dead Dog By My Side by Stefon Mears

Harrison and Sheila are enjoying a lovely picnic.  Harrison is thinking this is the happiest he has ever been when Sheila asks the dreaded "deepest secret" question.  How can he tell her that the dead leave the grave for him and convince her of its truth?  Can she still love him knowing how the dead do?  And what about her secrets?

A nice little short story that puts relationship issues in a different light.

Page count: 21p/30,098p ytd/245,014p lifetime

Monday, October 26, 2015

115:120 Night Shivers by Yasmine Galenorn

Indigo Court novella.  Cicely and Grieve have been King and Queen of Winter for almost a year now and are finally starting to settle into their roles when they go to welcome a ship from the Golden Isle bringing new members for both the Court of Winter and Summer.  When they get to the port though, the ship crashes through it and while they find food and clothing for all who should have been aboard, there are no bodies or other signs of life.  While Cicely's thoughts immediately turn towards Myst and her allies, her head knows that it's unlikely to be Myst and they are likely dealing with a new threat.  Now she and Grieve must find out who is threatening their Kingdom and how they can be stopped.

I have to say that as much as I love the Otherworld series and those characters, I really enjoyed the Indigo Court series because it really had a good storyline that flowed well and didn't go off on tangents that did not move the main story along.  This was a nice return to that world with a story that answered a few questions and gives a continuance to the characters while setting up a new threat.  I'll definitely be interested to see where Ms. Galenorn takes it from here.

Page count: 106p/30,077p ytd/244,993p lifetime

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

114:120 Straying from the Path by Carrie Vaughn

A collection of short stories in all sorts of genres.  Some are her take on a historical events, some are purely fantasy.  A few were slow moving but most were intriguing and fun to read.

Page count: 196p/29,971p ytd/244,887p lifetime

Monday, October 19, 2015

113:120 Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells

Book 2 in Prospero's War. Kate is still reeling from having cooked dirty magic to save her brother's life and is continuing to lie to everyone around her to keep her secret safe.  While she is dealing with her inner turmoil. a new player has entered town, a man who goes by the name Dionysus who is bent on using the Blue Moon to create chaos on a seriously new level.  The Blue Moon has magic working with more potency and the crazies are definitely out in force but Dionysus is using them all to his advantage.  Kate and the MEA will have to work some serious overtime to stop him.

I've had this one sitting on my shelf for a while and I'm not sure why I waited so long to read it since I enjoyed the first one so much.  I enjoyed this one just as much.  The characters are somewhat cliche and Kate does a bit too much inner guilt monologing but the world is interesting and the characters do seem to be growing a bit and I hope to see more of that.

Page count: 370p/29,775p ytd/244,691p lifetime

112:120 Who Was Thomas Jefferson? by Dennis Brindell Fradin

Children's history of Thomas Jefferson.  As with the previous one we read about George Washington, we get a more complete life picture of Thomas Jefferson from childhood through death.  I like this as we are able to see more of the whole picture and place the man in his time which helps to give a better idea of who he really was rather than just the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and then bought the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon.  He dealt with a lot of tragedy and had a lot of flaws but that only makes his accomplishments stand out that much more which is something that is lost in more traditional school history books.

Page count: 103p/29,405p ytd/244,321p lifetime

Saturday, October 17, 2015

111:120 Wings of Fire: The Dark Secret by Tui T. Sutherland

Wings of Fire #4.  Starflight now knows how to find his tribe but the implications terrify him.  To learn that the Nightwings have been capturing and experimenting on the Rainwings is bad enough but now with Glory in charge of the Rainwings, it looks like a war may be brewing between the tribes which leaves Starflight in the position of having to choose between his tribe and his friends.  That is a hard enough decision under the best of circumstances but when Starflight ends up on the Nightwing island, he can see the starvation and suffering of his tribe and realizes they are only trying to survive in the only way they can think of.

The books continue to entertain and I enjoy the fact that there is character growth and bigger picture stuff that the characters are coming across and having to deal with.  While the writing is on the simpler side, I feel like the complex emotions being portrayed definitely elevate this series above much of the typical children's books.

Page count: 336p/29,302p ytd/244,218p lifetime

Friday, October 16, 2015

110:120 Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

A history of the people integral to the invention of Wonder Woman, primarily William Marston.  The book starts with Marston's early life but quickly goes into his college years and his going from law into psychology with a heavy emphasis on his form of feminism and spends a great deal of time on his marriage to Betty Holloway and his live-in girlfriend/second wife, Olive Byrne.

Honestly, I wasn't a huge Wonder Woman fan before this book.  I enjoyed Lynda Carter's portrayal in the TV show and I was always happy to see her on any cartoon simply so there was at least some female representation but she never made a huge impact on me and I've never read any of the comics.  Reading this book has at least helped clarify what doesn't appeal to me about it in it's original form and I'm still not racing to the comic store to check any of them out since Marston's brand of "feminism" was more fetish and that was heavily portrayed as long as he was in control of WW's comics.

On the whole, I did not enjoy this book.  Even disregarding the fact that I wasn't super interested in the topic, I found the author's presentation of the information on the dry side with a huge helping of my pet peeve, jumping timelines, generally to provide information that did not actually serve the narrative.  The parts of the story that would likely have been more interesting was the relationship dynamic between Byrne, Holloway, and Marston but that is barely touched on since most of those documents have been destroyed at Byrne's insistence.  The author obviously did a ton of painstaking research but then decided that all of what she found had to go into the book but she didn't really seem to have a good idea of her audience or what her own thoughts were on the people she was writing about.  Only in the afterword, written with a later edition after she was able to get a hold of some further writings, did she seem to come to some opinions about the whole thing.

Page count: 432p/28,966p ytd/243,882p lifetime

Thursday, October 15, 2015

109:120 George Washington by Ingri & Edgar d'Aulaire

Another short but well done history of George Washington.  Again, this had good information from birth to death along with the beautiful illustrations that the d'Aulaires are known for.  I have seen some reviews that make note of how slavery is dealt with (there is a picture of George riding his horse around the fields filled with happy, smiling slaves as well as other written references to of this sort).  Instead of shying away from this, which was a prevalent attitude of the time this was written, I used it to open up discussion of the realities of slavery with my 4th grader and how it has taken a long time for people to even begin to start understanding just how truly evil it is and how it's still impacting our society today.

Page count: 60p/28,534p ytd/243,450p lifetime

108:120 Who Was George Washington? by Roberta Edwards

Read for 4th grade history.  A short, nonfiction account of George Washington's life from birth to death very appropriate for this grade level.  Considering the length and audience, it wasn't very indepth but it actually had a lot of information about our first President's early life that I had never known despite reading all the middle school and high school history so that was a pleasant surprise.  Best of all, the 4th grader enjoyed it.

Page count: 112p/28,474p ytd/243,390p lifetime

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

107:120 Several Shades of Blue by Faye Larson

First published work.  Kris has been standing in line for ages to get his sister the new 50 Shades of Grey book, you know, the one written from Grey's perspective, because she is sooooo into the series and he's trying to butter her up even if he can't stand the series.  The only thing that has made the tedium bearable is that he can stare at the fine ass ahead of him in line.  Next thing he knows the incredibly handsome owner of said ass, Taylor, is striking up a conversation with him and all of a sudden Kris is listening to his Inner God and hoping that this goes in the direction he is desperately hoping it will.

First off, let me state that I do know the author personally and have been friends with her for many years.  That being said, there was waaaaay too much 50 Shades stuff going on for my tastes.  I couldn't read more than a page in Twilight and have never attempted it's more poorly written fanfic so that turned this into an immediate groanfest for me.  Unfortunately, I'm also not a fan of two people meeting by chance, having nothing in common, but falling into each other's arms.  I understand that this is a short story so therefore there really isn't any time for character development or for them to really get to know each other but I would have had an easier time if they at least both were in the line because they both liked the same books rather than it being one loving them and the other feeling they are complete and utter shite.  That being said, the writing, while needing a bit more help with the editing, was good with enough description to set the mood but didn't go overboard with it, kept the story moving forward at a good pace, and it showed promise for the future.

Page count: 22p/28,362p ytd/243,278p lifetime

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

106:120 Animal Farm by George Orwell

So this is now my third time reading it.  Here's the previous review:

This is the second time I've read this book.  Here's my review from the first time:

I will say that I think 1984 was a better book and definitely much more relevant to today than Animal Farm but it's very easy to put this one into historical perspective and incorporate the thinking of the time into the discussion.  I also think that it's a much easier book for 8th and 9th graders to get into and have fun with since because it's animals, it's not as dark as it would be otherwise (like 1984).  Of course, that's the whole point of his using animals in the first place so that plot device definitely works.

Reading it this second time with Matthew for part of his 9th grade curriculum and while I still agree with my previous review, I have to say that I feel like it's more relevant today than it was when I read it the first time several years ago.  My only question is are the pigs becoming more like humans or are the humans becoming more pig-like?

Now I'm reading it with Jon as part of his 9th grade curriculum and I feel like we are going even further in that direction and it's scary as all hell.

Page count: 240p/28,340p ytd/243,256p lifetime

105:120 Autumn Moon by Jan DeLima

The 3rd book in the Celtic Wolves series.  Cormac has lived for centuries in the body of the wolf even though his mind was that of a man.  The only person who ever treated him as a man was Elen, the sister of Dylan, and herself an outcast because she has powers no one else in her clan can understand but yet with all that power, she cannot call the wolf shape to herself.  She has used her powers to heal but one night, she learned that she has more power than she ever imagined when she ripped the power of transformation from the Guardian attacking her and her family and sent that power flooding into Cormac.  Now Cormac can shift between shapes but he is still lost as he tries to figure out the rules of being human and how to court the woman who captured his heart centuries ago with her kindness.  Elen is amazed at what her power has wrought but is afraid that Cormac will hate and fear her as everyone else has done now that it's revealed she has this power.  That thought scares her more than any other because he has been her only friend and companion for so long and now that he is a man, she finds herself wanting to take their relationship so much further.  Unfortunately, things are not always up to us to play out as we want as Pendaran, the leader of the Guardians, is very much interesting in the power that Elen wields and will do anything to possess it.

Ok, yes, this book is a romance even if you dress it up with Celtic mythology and wolves.  I'm not generally huge on straight romance books but this one is continuing to keep me hooked mostly because the women are strong and equal to the men but also because they don't drop out once they get mated (*cough cough* BDB *cough cough*).  Sophie is still there, fighting alongside Dylan and not being sheltered.  Rosa makes a brief appearance since the majority of the story is not her territory but she is involved in a few key scenes and not just a "makes token appearance to welcome them to her home" kind of thing.  The main story is continuing to be moved forward while the romance angle is served and even when captured and in a place where most of her magic doesn't work and she does need rescuing (yeah, okay, that bugged me a bit), she uses what magic she can to let Cormac know where to find her and once rescued uses her magic to cripple Pendaran so Cormac has a chance to take him out.

So is this great literature?  No.  The plots are pretty transparent and you know that they will end with a HEA for the lead couple but the world is rich and the characters interesting and the whole thing is not just a "guy sees girl and decides she is the one for him so must get" which bugs the complete crap out of me so I will continue to read until it turns into that or the series ends.

Page count: 304p/28,100p ytd/243,016p lifetime

Thursday, October 8, 2015

104:120 The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

A new Lisbeth Salander novel by a new author.  Lisbeth has never been to let a wrong go unpunished so it's not a big surprise to learn that she is trying to track down what became of her father's "business ventures" after his death.  What she has found is a lot of secrecy and cover-ups but most seem to have landed in the hands of "Thanos" so she does what she does best, starts hacking into every system that might give her information including the NSA.  Meanwhile, there is a computer genius, Balder, who has returned home due to fears of his work being stolen and to care for his son.  He recruits an incredible hacker to see if she can find out who has been getting their hands on his files.  Blomkvist has been having a hard time finding a story that stirs him but when he gets a call telling him about Balder and his mysterious hacker, Blomkvist is all ears.  He can't get over there fast enough when Balder returns his call in the middle of the night, all but promising him an exclusive story.  Balder arrives just in time to get a glimpse of a man in shadows with a gun and to find out that Balder was just murdered.  The only witness who may have seen the murderer's face, is Balder's extremely autistic son, August.  Now the cases all converge as it was hacker's working for Thanos who stole Balder's work and then murdered him for his computer and now want to tie up loose ends by killing his son before he can find a way to identify them.  Blomkvist and Salander have their work cut out for them trying to save the boy and unravel the identity of Thanos.

So apparently there is some controversy surrounding this book because I guess it's Stieg Larsson's family or girlfriend or someone says they didn't allow this book to be written or published.  I'm not sure of the details and I didn't know any of it before I saw it at Costco, bought it, and was already more than halfway through reading it.  I decided since I'd already bought it so someone was already getting paid for that, I was going to finish and give a review on the book itself not the controversy.

With that being said, I felt Mr. Lagercrantz did an admirable job getting the personalities of the characters into the book.  I didn't at any time stop and think "Hey, so-and-so wouldn't act like that" so but there were times when I felt there was something slightly off about a reaction or the way something was said.  The basic plot was good but it was very slow in the beginning and took a long time to really pull things together but once they did, it took off quickly.  In all, I felt it was a good installment in the series and if things with the family are resolved, however that works out in Sweden and their judicial system concerning these things, I would happily read more by this author.

Page count: 400p/27,796p ytd/242,712p lifetime