Sunday, December 27, 2015

141:120 Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

A short story set in the universe of Kate Daniels but focusing on her ward Julie and pack member Derek.  Derek has set off to find out what has happened to a family that does work for Curran's pack and finds that the group that killed them was searching for a stone. As he investigates further, he finds that Julie is also searching for the stone now and the two team up to try and stop the warlock who is killing people to collect the stone pieces.

Pretty short without much set-up since it's assumed you know these characters from reading the Kate Daniels books which was fine.  I love getting these other stories about some of the other really interesting characters in the universe so I'm a total fan of this.  I have always liked Julie and Derek as characters but it's hard for them to get much time in with a regular Kate and Curran novel.  This did a good job of showing how their characters have been developing over time which was great.  I will say, I'm totally for the two of them hooking up in the future but if they just stay good friends, that's cool too.  I think this is definitely a must read for fans of the Kate Daniels series.

Page count: 64p/35,379p ytd/250,295p lifetime

Sunday, December 20, 2015

140:120 Small Magics by Ilona Andrews

A collection of short stories written in the Kate Daniels universe.  I think they have all been previously published but I'd only read two of them before.

A Questionable Client - the story of how Kate and Siaman met.  I'd read this one before and it definitely shows Kate knowledge, determination, and sense of fairness.  Oh, and Siaman is a dick from the start.

Retribution Clause - The company Adam works for has been hired to kill the husband of a murdered woman as part of a retribution clause in her will.  He and his partner have their work cut out getting to him with his excellent security but what they find is not at all what they were expecting.

Of Swine and Roses - Alena has been caught the eye of Chad Thurman, the son of a powerful family in their area.  Her family has pushed her to go on the date but she is very much uninterested but goes along for her family.  The date is going horribly when she spies a small pig running away from Chad's cronies and Chad yelling at them to kill it.  Alena decides it's now worth it to keep that pig alive and see what is so special about it.

Grace of Small Magics - Grace's family is under a bond of servitude to the Dreoch Clan for crimes committed generations ago.  Her uncle has had to do a few jobs for them and so has her mom but now they want Grace to help them in an arbitration challenge.  She is bound to go by the contract but she stands the chance to win so much.

Magic Tests - Kate is making Julie go to school and Julie is not a fan of this plan.  She finally picks a school from Kate's list but when they get there, she is put in charge of finding a missing school rather than just getting a regular tour. Kate knows just the way to get Julie to decide that maybe this school thing isn't as bad as it seems.  I've also read this one before and enjoyed it this time around as well.

In all, I enjoyed the collection although in my opinion there is never enough Kate and Curran these were fun forays into that universe.

Page count: 159p/35,315p ytd/250,231p lifetime

Saturday, December 19, 2015

139:120 Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

The tale told straight from the horse's mouth on growing up in England with a good and kind master, losing a good place due to illness of his mistress, losing the next place that wasn't as wonderful due to a drunk groom, being a rental horse, eventually landing in London as a cab horse but with a kind master only to lose that place due to illness of his master and end up with a cruel master who almost broke him before finally being bought by a kind old gentleman who even though Beauty was getting on in years saw his good breeding and took a chance which ends with him being gently used and well cared for until the end of his days.

A sweet, generally gentle book and one I loved growing up.  As an adult, it's a bit harder because it's easy to see how romanticized it is but reading it to my 9yr old was still a lovely experience.

Page count: 207p/35,156p ytd/250,072p lifetime

Friday, December 18, 2015

138:120 Abraham Lincoln by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

As usual, a beautifully illustrated book that tells the story of Abraham Lincoln leading to his presidency.  There was nothing really new in it but it's a lovely gentle tale of this important man and his upbringing for young children.

Page count: 64p/34,949p ytd/249,865p lifetime

137:120 The Power of Light by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Eight short stories highlighting miracles that have taken place during Hanukkah.  Very sweet tales to read after the candles are lit and driedel has been played.

Page count: 71p/34,885p ytd/249,801p lifetime

136:120 Chimera by Mira Grant

The conclusion to the Paristology trilogy by Mira Grant.  When we last left Sal, she had turned herself over to her father and the military powers.  Shortly after, people who were previously clean of parasites are turning into sleepwalkers and/or showing signs of multiple eggs due to the contamination of the water supply by Sherman.  Sal knows she must escape and get back to Dr. Cale, Nathan, and the rest of her people.  On her way, she finds Juniper, a child chimera, who may hold some of the answers to dealing with the contaminated water.  Unfortunately, Sherman has not been complacent and it's not long after Sal finds Dr. Cale that he attacks and makes off or kills much of the group.  Sal, Fishy, and Fang are left to try and mount a rescue of them and the only ones they have a chance of getting to help are Col. Mitchell and his men who are not likely to be very receptive after Sal's second escape but what other choice do they have? The broken doors are closing and Sal very much wants to find her way home.

A very action packed, well paced conclusion.  I was worried after the last book was so bogged down but it seems like there was just too much going on for one book so they broke some of it off  and then tried to flesh it out into another book rather than cramming too much into one to keep it a duology.  Understandable and this one did not disappoint.  The scariest thing is this world is very easy to imagine. We are lazy and having a tapeworm to take care of things for us seems entirely plausible. A company rushing it to market before it had been thoroughly tested? Happens all the time.  Let's just hope that none of Mira's worlds actually ever come to pass because they are scary places.

Page count: 488p/34,814p ytd/249,730p lifetime

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 1st Quarter 2016

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 but less than earlier this year.  Two in high school English this year is definitely cramping my reading time.  Next semester gets even more fun by adding in American Government.  *breathe*  I can do this!  Honestly, I'm looking forward to the three weeks of Winter Break as a time to finish Don Quixote for English 12 and then do some reading of my own.  The extra time between new releases I want for myself has helped but this next quarter ramps things back up again.  Time to get reading!

I get a few weeks into the new year before releases start coming out but then it's fast and furious starting with Otherworld Secrets by Kelley Armstong.  I'm a total sucker for her Otherworld works and can't wait for this one. We get new stories about Cassandra, Savannah, and Adam plus a new novella (please be about Clay and Elena!).  This is the second of three books of short stories and novellas that will come out for the Otherworld fans.

Release Date: Jan 26

Just a few days later, Driven by Kelley Armstrong is due out from Subterranean Press.  Davis Cain is part of a pack of mutts that are being hunted down and killed but when he comes to the Pack for help, Elena can't turn him away.  Besides, she has Malcolm Danvers in the Pack now so she might as well make some use of him.  Really hoping that decision doesn't come back to bite her in the butt.

Release Date: Jan 31

February kicks off with three releases on the same day in series that I'm very excited about.  First is Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter.  Jane Yellowrock is always an amazing read.  This is a collection of 19 stories in Jane's universe, some previously published and some brand-new just for this anthology.

Release Date: Feb 2

Next is Darkness Raging by Yasmine Galenorn. The next book in her Otherworld series, this one told from Menolly's pov.  It sounds like the war with demons is really heating up and we are finally getting back to dealing with that.  On the eve of war, Menolly's wife Nerrisa is captured by the demons who are demanding the spirit seals in exchange for her life.  Menolly will do anything to keep Nerissa safe and I have a feeling a pissed off Menolly is not what the demons are going to want to see coming.

Release Date: Feb 2

It also looks like Grave Visions by Kalayna Price will be coming out at long last.  The last installment in this series was back in 2012 and fans have been chomping on the bit for this one.  Alex is a grave witch and now that she has been outed as part Fae, she must choose a side in Faerie to come in on.  Now she has to try and figure out how to make the best of this situation.

Release Date: Feb 2

A few weeks break and then Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep comes out.  A long lost relative of Finn's has come into town and Finn turns from Gin's steady right-hand man to a starry-eyed doe.  Gin doesn't trust the interloper (big surprise) but Finn will hear none of it.  All she can do is stand-by and be ready to end this in a deadly fashion if anyone tries to hurt her brother.

Release Date: Feb 23

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne Valente is the 5th book in the series and I'm ashamed to say I haven't gotten past the first book yet.  The first one was amazing and I'm looking forward to them but just trying to find the time to read them has been difficult.  Hopefully this coming year!

Release Date: Mar 1

The quarter's new releases ends for me with Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs, the new Mercy Thompson book.  Mercy and Adam have been tasked to go deal with a troll but they also find a fire-touched human boy stolen by the fae many years ago. They are determined to protect him but doing so means defying everyone.

Release Date: Mar 8

So some really good reads by many of my favorite authors coming out to start my new year off right in terms of things to read.  Now to find more time to read!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

135:120 Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Abraham Lincoln by Mary Pope Osborne & Natalie Pope Boyce

First, I love that Magic Tree House comes out with these accompanying factual books about subjects in their fictional stories.  They are written to appeal to children which is always wonderful.  This book was no exception.  The focus of the book was much more on Lincoln before he became president, his early life and his journey to the White House than on the Civil War.  Even the Civil War part was more about its toll on him and what he was hoping to accomplish although they did mention a few battles and death tolls.  They didn't shy away from the horror and how many were killed but they approached it gently enough to not scare a young child and didn't dwell on it but did show how it affected the president.  In all, it was a more personal look at Lincoln's life than you usually see in history curriculum type things and was much enjoyed.

Page count: 117p/34,326p ytd/249,242p lifetime

Thursday, December 10, 2015

134:120 Midnight's Daughter by Karen Chance

The first in the Dorina Basarab series set in the same world with Cassie Palmer but focusing on different characters.  Dorina is the daughter of Mircea and a human when he was first turned, so as such she is a dhampir, half human/half vampire.  Prone to uncontrollable rages and hated by both groups few damphirs have long lives.  In Dorina's case, her father has done what he can to protect her once he was able and for her own part, she has done her best to utilize her rages to take down demons and vampires who were not behaving. This has been her life but now her father has a task for her. Her uncle, Dracula (yes, that one), has escaped prison and needs to be stopped.  He thinks she can do it, she thinks he's nuts but doesn't see how she has a choice. With the help of another uncle's scion, Louis-Cesare, she is bound to give it her all.

I'd heard good things about this series with some people liking it more than the Cassie Palmer series which I find entertaining.  I admit to being unhappy with the latest Cassie Palmer so decided to give this one a try.  It was a bit harder to get into but well worth it.  I'm happy I have the next book in the series waiting for me on my bookcase.

Page count: 373p/34,209p ytd/249,125p lifetime

133:120 Who Was Abraham Lincoln? by Janet B. Pascal

A children's history of Abraham Lincoln covering from birth to death.  As always, I'm amazed at how little is covered in the textbooks of my time and even those that I use with my children for school purposes.  We are so busy trying to push more "knowledge" that it's impossible to make the people we read about into real people and to be able to relate to them.  For that reason, I've been loving these books as ways to learn more about some of our presidents as we get to see what they were like as children.  I had no idea that Abraham Lincoln was a practical joker but hearing about some of his pranks definitely made it more fun for my 9yr old to understand him.  I so wish we could always do history in that way for all grade levels.

Page count: 104p/33,836p ytd/248,752p lifetime

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

132:120 Wings of Fire: Moon Rising by Tui T. Sutherland

The 6th book in the Wings of Fire series.  In the last book, the war was won when the Dragonets of Destiny crowned a new Sandwing Queen.  Now they are pledged to try and make sure that was the last war ever by opening up Jade Mountain School, a school for dragons of all clans to come together in peace to learn more about each other, each other's clans, and how to get along.  It's an ambitious project to say the least.  Moon is one of the first dragons signed up by her mother but she is incredibly worried because as a Nightwing she is already held in contempt by pretty much every clan but on top of that, she was born with the gifts of mind-reading and prophesy, gifts the Nightwings used to have but lost several generations ago.  No one knows she has these gifts in order to protect her but how will she handle living in a cave system with so many other dragons?  Moon isn't sure she is going to survive without going crazy when one voice starts cutting in louder than the rest and giving her instruction on the use of her powers.  That helps her keep things at bay until she is hit with the horrible vision of a schoolroom about to explode. Her ability helped to save some lives but others were lost and now she has been outed to her friends and teachers.  They aren't sure what to think but when she foresees more death and destruction, they decide taking a chance on helping her stop it is better than nursing their grievances.

This is definitely the start of a new adventure for a new group of dragons where the Dragonets of Prophecy from the first five books play a more background role.  Ms. Sutherland continues focusing on a new dragon's point of view for each book which allows us to know the different dragons more thoroughly.  I'm still interested in the world but the plot of this adventure so far is not gripping me in the same way.  My 9yr old is still enthralled, however, so I'll probably continue reading.

Page count: 336p/33,732p ytd/248,648p lifetime

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

131:120 White Trash Zombie Gone Wild Vol. 5 by Diana Rowland

The 5th book in the White Trash Zombie series.  In the last book, Angel had to take an experimental zombie drug in order to help save the group against Arbitron in NY.  Now she is back to her junkie ways, stealing from the lab and Baby Z's doses to get her fix.  Of course, all of this is bound to backfire on her but it does so in some of the most unexpected ways.  While she is dealing with that, there is also the ZombieFest that is going on in her hometown to help celebrate the release of the zombie movie that was filmed in her high school but then weird stuff starts happening around that as well.  Angel needs to get her head on straight since everyone else in the Tribe is off dealing with other crisis in other states which leads pretty much just her to deal with the stuff going down there. But hey, she's Zombie Angel and she doesn't know how to go down without a fight.

I have enjoyed this series more than I ever thought possible because I loved seeing the growth of Angel as a character so having her back on drugs made me really, really sad because while I get that it's common, I had so been hoping that she was beyond that now but I admit to it being more realistic that having had to take something she would get hooked again.  What helped make it easier to handle was that the people who cared about her, didn't just condemn her (as she had figured they would) but were there to actually support and help her through it.  I'm really glad it went that direction because I'm not sure I could have handled it had the author chosen to have them all turn their backs on her.

Page count: 325p/33,396p ytd/248,312p lifetime