Sunday, November 29, 2015

130:120 To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction by Joanna Russ

Read for book club, this is a book of essays collected from a few decades by Joanna Russ about her thoughts of women writing sci-fi.  She narrows down her selections for most things to less than a dozen authors and stories in most places.  The essays themselves are well thought out and articulated and me trying to summarize them in any fashion would be to do them a great disservice so I won't even try but will instead simply stick to my overall thoughts of the books.

Of the stories that Ms. Russ refers to, I've only read one of them as sci-fi does not tend to be my go to genre of choice and that is Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed.  With regards to the essays themselves, I found it to be a mixed bag.  Some of the essays were dealing with the rampant misogyny of the time and themes that play into that with many examples of stories and how they show it off.  Mostly these were stories that I have never heard of, likely for the reasons she was citing, and even if I had they were generally not something I would choose to read anyway.  There was also an essay on the Gothic romances, those that have basically turned into the bodice rippers of today, and which is generally a genre I run far away from.  That essay was the most painful as it went in depth on all the reasons I hate that style of book and gave many, many examples.  The essay on Mary Shelley was interesting and I enjoyed the one comparing different women's general Utopian sci-fi worlds to each other and how those differ from the general Utopian worlds of men at that time period.

Page count: 200p/33,071p ytd/247,987p lifetime

Saturday, November 28, 2015

129:120 Sideswiped by Kim Harrison

A prequel story to The Drafter, we really get more of Silas's backstory at Opti and his theories on drafting, how it works and how certain people are able to do it, as well as how he meets Peri Reed and the impression she makes upon him.

I almost think this would be better to read before reading The Drafter to get a better handle on what is going on with that power and how it works.  It was a delightful read and I really enjoyed it.  I'm very interested to see where things are going in this world and I also hope to get more of these backstories in the future.

Page count: 80p/32,871p ytd/247,787p lifetime

Friday, November 27, 2015

128:120 The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

The classic tale of a boy who along with a wild black stallion are the only survivors of a shipwreck and end up surviving together for a few months on a deserted island before a fortunate accident gets them rescued.  When the boy returns home with the horse, the neighbor who is stabling him is convinced that he could be a race champion and thus the training begins for both of them.  Unfortunately, the Black does not have proper papers to allow him to actually enter the race circuit and it looks like the dream of racing him may be dead before it even takes its first breath.  Hope is rekindled though when a race between the East Coast champion and the West Coast champion has been arranged to see who reigns supreme.  When they talk to the sports writer who has set up the race, they are able to bring him around to their side and since it's not an official race, the Black is able to participate.  Of course our story is a hero's tale and the Black wins in amazing style.

I've heard of the story all my life but never read the book or even seen the movie.  Considering how much I loved horses growing up, I'm not sure why I didn't.  However, as I've been working on collecting classics for my children through the years I did make sure it came in and the 9yr old finally requested it.  While there were no real surprises in the story, it was sweetly told with well written action scenes and without anthropomorphisizing  the Black, we were still able to clearly understand his feelings.

Page count: 276p/32,791p ytd/247,707p lifetime

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

127:120 El Hidalgo de la Noche by Carrie Vaughn

Set in the Kitty Norville universe.  This takes place many centuries ago as we find out more about Rick the vampire and get a glimpse of his relationship with his maker and other vampires that cross his path in the New World.  He was turned but given no real knowledge of his new race but finding a new group of vampires that belong to a family answers questions in ways he almost wishes he didn't know.

It was an interesting look at Rick's past which didn't really answer a lot of questions (other than his approximate age) but showed that he has continued to do his best to remain true to the ideals and beliefs he held when he was still human.

Page count: 30p/32,515p ytd/247,431p lifetime

Thursday, November 19, 2015

126:120 Reap the Wind by Karen Chance

The 7th book in the Cassie Palmer series.  Cassie is determined to save Pritkin from the curse he incurred on her behalf but it has been far from easy since she has to keep hoping back in time to try and find him before the curse hits so she and Rossier can be there when it does so Rossier can cast the counterspell.  So far, luck has not been with them and now their last chance is to jump back in time 1500 years which Cassie knows she can't possibly do until Rhea tells her of a special Pythia potion.  Now Cassie is obsessed with getting her hands on it but that is proving just as hard as catching Pritkin at the right moment.

This book has been longer than usual in the making and I really wish I could say it was worth the wait.  I wish I could, but I can't.  I found the plot overblown, the messes Cassie gets into and how she gets thwarted constantly are normal but there were even more instances of it this time, and now even the previous Pythia's are getting in on the "let's find and mess things up for Cassie" bandwagon which was really the only new thing.  There were no real answers although it was nice for Cassie to get a few clues on how to maybe start bringing the different factions of magic together but honestly, the book was overly long, boring, and drawn out to get only that tiny little bit of payoff after 500 pages.  It's a shame because normally I really enjoy this series but this one was a struggle for me to get through.

Page count: 514p/32,485p ytd/247,401p lifetime

Thursday, November 12, 2015

125:120 Daughter of Odren by Ursual K. LeGuin

A short story set in the world of Earthsea.  Weed has been leaving offerings at the stone for the past 14 years, waiting and watching for the right time for her father to be released and his revenge wrecked upon those who tricked him into it.  Now, her brother has returned to her as a learned mage and ready to take up the task to bring Lord Garnet home and restore them both to their rightful places as the children of the Lord of Odren.  Unfortunately, things don't always work out the way we so often hope for.

While set in Earthsea, this doesn't contain any characters from the stories and doesn't seem to relate to anything previous published (at least as far as I can remember) but was none-the-less an enjoyable, if short tale.

Page count: 31p/31,971p ytd/246,887p lifetime

124:120 Wings of Fire: The Brightest Night by Tui T. Sutherland

The 5th book in the Wings of Fire series.  Morrowseer's revelation that the prophecy was false and just made up to help the Nightwings has shaken Sunny's belief in everything to it's core.  Now a trio of Nightwings want to make off with her to buy their way into Burn's good graces but Sunny finds resilience and a resourcefulness she never knew she had to not only get away from them, but to then follow them to The Scorpion Den.  There she finds the mother she had always longed to know and more than that, she found her strength and purpose to actually fulfill the prophecy, even if the Nightwings thought it was made up.

This did a nice job of really allowing Sunny to grow a lot while still maintaining her more innocent voice but with strength when she feels it's needed.  It also did a nice job of wrapping up the War and allowing that story arc to resolve fairly naturally instead of finding ways to stretch it out.  It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Page count: 336p/31,940p ytd/246,856p lifetime

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

123:120 Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My second time reading it.  Here's the review from my first time:

</i>The long winter is over and  is over and opportunities are popping up all over for Laura.  She is offered her first job in town helping a seamstress which helps her earn the money to send Mary off to the school for the blind.  She continues to study hard even when she finds it difficult due to the distractions that being in a town offer like sociables and Literaries the first winter after that long one and then revivals, sociables, and the school exhibition.  Not to mention that Mr. Almanzo Wilder has been asking to see her home after these events.  Laura misses Mary terribly but at the end is offered a job as a school-teacher which, although only for 2mos, will bring enough money in to allow for Mary to come home for the summer.

Again, I'm always touched by how sweet these books are.  Times are simpler, if harder, but it definitely makes the simple seem gentle and sweet.  </i>

Page count: 374p/31,604p ytd/246,520p lifetime

Saturday, November 7, 2015

122:120 Fire Water by Jaye Wells

A novella set before Dirty Magic, set in a time when Kate was finishing up her last few things so she could be sworn in as a police officer.  Kate's biggest obstacle, besides the chip on her shoulder and her being an Adept, is that she has to do a week on the river patrol and get signed off on it.  She opts to do her time as quickly as possible but it puts her with the crustiest, crankiest, curmudgeonly close-to-retirement police officer she has ever met.  He wants to just get out in tact since he has so little time left but Kate is hot to prove herself and she's a hard girl to say no to.

It was nice seeing Kate as a fresh-faced new recruit, to see Danny as a kid, meet Baba when Kate did.  There was nothing really earth-shattering necessary if you are reading the books but give it a read if you want a little backstory.

Page count: 68p/31,230p ytd/246,146p lifetime

Friday, November 6, 2015

121:120 Autumn Thorns by Yasmine Galenorn

The first in a new paranormal romance series by Yasmine Galenorn.

Whisper Hollow is a special town where the line between the living and the dead is thin.  As a result, there has always been a daughter of the Morrigan there as a spirit shaman to help lay the dead to rest.  Kerris grew up knowing that with her mother missing, when her grandmother died it would be up to her to take up that mantle but that did not keep her from leaving when she was 18 to escape her grandfather.  Now, 15 years later, she has received the signs and knew ever before the phone rang that her grandmother was gone and she needed to return home to take her place but she is determined to do things her way and that means not only laying the dead to rest but also finding out what happened to her mother and father.  What she couldn't know was just what she would unbury and what it means, not just for her, but for the whole town and maybe beyond...

I had my doubts about this when Ms. Galenorn first started talking about but the more I saw with the teases and snippets, the more intrigued I became until I finally broke down and preordered it.  I admit to being a wee bit drawn to anything with Celtic mythology overtones so it wasn't a hard sell once I saw the Morrigan's name popping up.  It was a fairly fast read, long exposition was mostly kept to a minimum allowing things to unfold and be told in a more natural way which I tend to prefer.  The story moved well and the characters believable.  We had a few things get wrapped up nicely but there are many more questions left to answer.  I look forward to those adventures.

Page count: 314p/31,162p ytd/246,078p lifetime

120:120 Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelley

A sequel to Wind in the Willows written many years after the fact and by a different author.

Toad has a new obsession, hot air balloons, which leads our friends off to new adventures and even more when his nephew, Humphrey, comes to visit with his scientific ways and keen interest in fireworks and other explosives.  The weasels and stoats are lurking in the shadows as well so one must be always on their guard but even worse than that, according to Mole, is the female water rat that has caught Rat's eye.

The story was nice but missing the beautiful and descriptively flowing language that characterized the original and the extra side notes to explain things were more annoying than helpful but overall, if you miss Rat, Mole, Toad, and Badger and want to know what happened to them this does the job fairly well.  The 9yr old enjoyed the story and by half way through wanted more chapters every day.

And with that, I have concluded the books read part of my yearly challenge.  Still have a couple of new authors I need to get in and quite a ways to go if I'm to make my page count but there's still almost two months left so just maybe I can pull it off.  :)

Page count: 288p/30,848p ytd/245,764p lifetime

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

119:120 Andrew Jackson by Stephen Feinstein

A Book. A brief but in-depth for 4th grader biography of Andrew Jackson.  This covered from early life to his death in terms of events well but I felt was weak on explaining much of his personal motivations and thoughts on what was going on beyond keeping to his own personal code which was never really explained and only really referred to a little bit in the first chapter.  I did learn more about him than I ever did in my school years though.

I will mention that there were a lot of links to online resources that may have addressed his motivations further but that was outside the context we were looking at for 4th grade study of the presidents so we didn't utilize them and the book is headed back to the library now so no time to do so any more.

Page count: 48p/30,560p ytd/245,476p lifetime