Thursday, June 30, 2016

58:120 Night Flower by Kate Elliot

A prequel to Court of Fives which shows the meeting of Jessamy's parents, Kiya and Esladas.  Kiya is a Commoner who has just arrived in the city of Saryenia under her uncle's care to see city life before returning to her village and taking her place as a full adult member there.  Esladas is the youngest son of a Patron with no prospects for inheritance and has made his way to the city to become a soldier and make his own way.  He has just barely arrived when he wanders into the Market and finds the most beautiful woman selling fruit.  He and Kiya do not speak a word of each other's language and following where their hearts are leading will mark them both as outsiders to their people but sometimes you have no choice.

I almost feel like reading this made their parting so much worse in Court of Fives but it was an incredible read and now I'm bummed that I have to wait for the next book in the series.

Page count: 60p/15,746p ytd/265,706p lifetime

57:120 Waylaid by Kim Harrison

Worlds collide when Rachel Morgan from The Hollows is pulled through to the super-technology driven, completely magic-free world of Peri Reed.  Now Rachel is stuck in a world she does not understand with no magic at her fingertips and no apparent way of getting back to her universe.  Her only choice is to rely on Peri who is completely bewildered by this woman showing up out of nowhere in her apartment and speaking English but talking of things she has no idea about.  Peri must try to figure out if she is to trust Rachel and help to get her home or stick with what her training is telling her to do.

Peri and Rachel are both characters I like in worlds that I enjoy but I never thought their worlds would ever really collide so this was a sweet treat.  Kim Harrison did a good job of using the science and magic in the respective worlds to weave together a story that fit well in both.

Page count: 87p/15,686p ytd/265,646p lifetime

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

56:120 Led Astray by Kelley Armstrong

A wonderful collection of short stories by Kelley Armstrong.  Some have been previously published and I had read before, some are new to this collection.  This was my first exposure to some of her other universes since I've pretty much stuck with Otherworld and Cainsville but I didn't feel like I was missing a ton by not being familiar with the characters or worlds.  There are 23 short stories in this collection, some are standalone and others are in universes her readers would be familiar with.  I can't honestly think of a single story that I didn't like and generally I had to wait to do something else until I had at least finished the story I was reading because putting them down was just hard to do.  I definitely recommend this collection to fans of Kelley Armstrong or even if you are just curious about her work but don't want to delve into a series to give her a try (although seriously, you should totally do just that because she's amazing!).

Page count: 425p/15,599p ytd/265,59p lifetime

Sunday, June 26, 2016

55:120 The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Quentin is a brilliant but miserable teen who is still obsessed with the fantasy world of his childhood, Fillory and the magic of that world. Now he has been invited to become a student at an American school of magic and learn how it works in the real world.  He learns many lessons and is an incredible student but after graduation, he finds that life is still missing something and he is still miserable until the day a former student shows up with the way to actually travel to Fillory but once he and his friends get there, they find that it's not nearly as nice a place as the stories led them to believe.

I wanted to like this book.  It's definitely right up my ally genre wise but as much as I wanted to I just couldn't.  The characters were simply awful with no true redeeming features who never learned to be decent human beings at any point.  I'm completely surprised that C.S. Lewis's estate hasn't sued the author since Fillory screams out that it's Narnia in so many freaking ways it's not even funny only this is a darker version.  Add in a bit of lessons by changing students into animals a la Merlin and Arthur from Sword in the Stone and it seems like the author can hardly come up with an original idea.  Throw in labeling things autistic for no reason when describing actions of people who have not been stated to be autistic which is a huge issue for me and it all adds up to me not liking the book at all and refusing to read anything else in this series or even by this author if I have any say in the matter.

Page count: 428p/15,174p ytd/265,134p lifetime

Friday, June 24, 2016

54:120 A Fantasy Medley 3 by Carey, Hearne, Bickle, & De Bodard

Goddess at the Crossroads by Kevin Hearne - set in the Iron Druid series, Atticus recalls a night in the presence of Shakespeare when they came across a Hecate summoning which provided the Bard with the idea for the Witches in Macbeth.  This is the second short story I've read in the universe and I've enjoyed them both. I have the books in my to-read stack so I really need to move them up the list and read them already.

Ashes by Laura Bickle - Anya Kalinczyk is trying to track down the powerful Nain Rouge in Detroit before it causes any more damage.  She has her 5ft salamander familiar Sparky to aid her and then Hades' Charon turns up as well and what a team they make.  I found the premise and characters interesting enough to consider finding more by this author.

Death of Aiguillon  by Aliette De Bodard - The house Huyen has been working for has now been taken down by others and she is now trying to survive houseless in the slums of Paris with other houseless servants just like her.  She has however attracted the attention of some of the more powerful beings in the city and it may not be the hand up she was hoping for.  This one just didn't grip me. It felt like there was too much backstory going on that was not given which made it difficult to understand the nuances of all the personal interactions.

One Hundred Ablutions by Jacqueline Carey - Dala has been chosen by her people's overlords to serve as a handmaiden to their gods. However, there are other forces at work that want to see her people freed and they believe that she will be a major part of the revolution.  An interesting tale in a world that I don't think I've read about before but I'd love to read more about.

Page count: 151p/14,746p ytd/264,706p lifetime

Thursday, June 23, 2016

53:120 Earthbound by Yasmine Galenorn

A prequel to the Otherworld series that tells of the sisters reason for being basically exiled to Earth and the start of their acclimation to life here.  They are greeted by Chase and Iris is there to give them some basics and help Camille with the bookstore.  It was lovely seeing Henry again and see Camille's reaction to her first espresso drink.  Very nice seeing them back when they were still a bit innocent and naive of what was coming for them.

Page count: 84p/14,595p ytd/264,555p lifetime

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 3rd 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.

So while the last couple of quarters were fairly light in the new releases department, I still haven't managed to get caught up and this quarter is chock-full of stuff that I want to read the second I have it in my hands.  Considering many come out on top of each other, I'm thinking that sleep is just overrated.

There are a lot more short stories starting to come out in many of my favorite series for ereaders which I think is wonderful.  It allows for more backstory, side stories, and general bits and pieces that don't fit well into the main books but are nice for long time readers of the series.  Unwanted by Jennifer Estep is one such side story which follows Finn after the events in Bitter Bite which have him feeling very much unwanted.

Release Date - July 18

Imprudence by Gail Carriger is the second book in the Custard Protocol series which follows Rue, the daughter of Alexis and Lord Maccon from the Parasol Protectorate series. I have not started this series yet since I'm so behind on things but I did just start the Finishing School series and will go into this one after so maybe I'll be ready to read it by the time it comes out.

Release Date - July 19

August is super filled with fabulous new releases and starts off with three right off the bat. Flight from Mayhem by Yasmine Galenorn is the second book in the Fly by Night series with Shimmer the blue dragon and Alex the vampire.  It is set in the world of her popular Otherworld series and this one sees Chase coming to the Fly by Night detectives to help solve the mystery of older fae being brutally murdered after having their bank accounts drained.

Release Date - August 2

We also get Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter is the start of a new series, Soulwood, which takes place in the Jane Yellowrock series but follows Nell after she is found by Jane who recommends her to PsyLED who sends Rick to talk to her.   Nell has been a pretty mysterious figure in the Yellowrock series and I'm really hoping we get to learn more about her and the relationships between her and all the team members.

Release Date - August 2

And the first release date ends with Full of Briars by Seanan McGuire which is a short story in the October Daye series but this time narrated by Quentin, her squire.  His parents have come to meet the new Queen of the Mists and take him home.  Unfortunately, he doesn't want to go and Toby doesn't want him to either.

Release Date- August 2

Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong comes out just a week later so no time to catch my breath.  Ricky is being fingered in a series of street children murders and now Olivia needs Gabriel's help to prove his innocence.  Doing this means that their futures are being even more intertwined but will it be in the relationship of their choosing or that of the forces trying to win a war that they are at the center of?

Release Date - August 9

Then we have the sequel to Court of Fives, Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliot coming out.  I read Court of Fives for book club and while it's YA I found myself very invested in the characters and can't wait to see how things progress.  Jessamy is doing well as a Challenger which is good since her winnings are what is supporting her mother and sisters while they are in hiding.  Unfortunately, an attack on her traveling party looks to be putting her more squarely in the war that Lord Karkillios is in and now running the Fives may no longer be enough.

Release Date - August 16

The month wraps up with Unraveled by Jennifer Estep.  In the aftermath of Biter Bite, Gin is trying hard to find out who is behind the mysterious Circle and how to disrupt that organization that tore apart Finn's mother and who was likely behind Mab's killing of Gin's family as well.  Unfortunately the trail has gone cold so when Finn finds out about an inheritance, they figure they might as well all get out of town for a vacation but trouble is never far behind Gin.

Release Date - August 30

September has fewer books coming out but they are all ones I've been chomping at the bit to get my hands on. It starts with Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire.  Toby's diplomatic mission to the Court of Silences did not go nearly as planned however she did return with the cure for elfshot but also a whole lot of political headaches for everyone involved. Now there is a convocation of rulers hosted by her Queen of the Mists with the High Kind and Queen in attendance. Of course, nothing is ever simple in Toby's life so it's not long before a dead body hits the floor and Toby needs to find the killer to protect those she loves.

Release Date - September 6

I get a few weeks to catch up before the release of Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews.  Kate and Curran are finally planning the wedding but before they can say "I do", Roland has kidnapped Siamin and is draining him for his magic and the dire warnings are coming fast and furious from the witches.  I can't wait to see how Kate gets around all this because darn it, I want to see them get their HEA!

Release Date - September 20

Next up is Feedback by Mira Grant.  This is a parallel novel to Feed but we are following a different group of reporters trying to get their foot in the door.  Considering how much I love this universe, I'm really jazzed about this book and am just hoping that I can get behind these characters nearly as much as I ended up loving Shuan and Georgia.

Release Date - September 27

The quarter ends with Shadow Silence by Yasmine Galenorn, the sequel to Whisper Hollow.  Kellis's best Peggin has been cursed since escaping the watery embrace of the Lady of the Lake but curing her will reveal many secrets that certain people want to remain buried.

Release Date - September 27

Monday, June 20, 2016

52:120 Court of Fives by Kate Elliot

Jessamy is frustrated with her life. She is the daughter of a Patron father who is a soldier on the rise and she is expected to act as a proper Patron girl who is barely seen and whose only job is to make a suitable match which in her case is impossible because her mother is a Commoner which makes her a mule and unfit to be the wife of a Patron.  Add to this that she is restless and her only desire is to run the Fives, a series of intricate physical trials that is a pathway to glory, even for Commoners.  She has convinced her sisters to lie for her so she can run in a real Fives challenge even if she must lose at the end to avoid being unmasked and risking her father's wrath.  On the course, she meets Killiarkos, a noble Patron who is having family difficulties of his own and an unlikely friendship strikes up between them.  However the forces that are trying to control Killiarkos's life have now decided to meddle with Jessamy's family as well.  Now they must work together if either is to have any hope of controlling their lives.

An interesting world where you are dealing with racial tensions between a conquering and conquered peoples but we are seeing it mainly from the point of view of a young teenage girl who straddles both sides and thus is claimed by neither.  It works well especially as she is dealing with her own turbulent emotions inside and a world that is crumbling around her on the outside.  It was well paced with engaging, believable characters and my only issue with it was that as Jessamy has been being strong and brave for the entire book, along comes a scene where all of sudden for no really good reason she has to fall apart so Killiarkos can step in to rescue her.  I felt that it was out of character for her and was done just to have her rescued by the "prince" at the very end which seemed disingenuous.  I am looking forward to the second book coming out in a few months.

Page count: 438p/14,511p ytd/264,471p lifetime

Monday, June 13, 2016

51:120 United States Government: Democracy in Action by Richard C. Remy, Ph.D.

High School government text book.  Provides a good well-rounded grasp of our system of government and it's various influences, how bills become laws, how laws can be challenged up to the Supreme Court, how the system of checks and balances are supposed to work.  Includes details on how things work at the local level and how parties work. Unfortunately, it was written before our government got as completely broken as it currently is so offers no insight on our current state of affairs or how normal people can actually affect real change, not that I was expecting it to but that's definitely something I think people should be educated on as well.

Page count: 898p/14,073p ytd/264,033p lifetime

Saturday, June 11, 2016

50:120 Moon Swept: Otherworld Tales of First Love by Yasmine Galenorn

Three short stories detailing the first loves of Camille, Delilah, and Menolly.  We've seen that before Trillian, there was Camille's cousin Shamus but now we see why it really didn't work out and it wasn't just their family's disapproval.  Next we get to read more about the start of Delilah and Chase's relationship since that happened during one of Camille's turns at narration.  Lastly, we get a glimpse of what Menolly's life could have been like before she was turned into a vampire as she becomes friendly with the neighboring farmer.

It was nice to see what their relationships were before we saw them with their current, lasting partners.

Page count: 51p/13,175p ytd/263,135p lifetime

Thursday, June 9, 2016

49:120 Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Odd is an unusual sort for a Viking boy.  His father was killed while out on a raid and before his mother remarried he went out to provide for them and a tree fell and crushed one of his legs. Now the winter isn't ending as it should and everyone is getting crankier as a result.  Odd decides to escape his house (and his stepfather) and stay in his father's workshop to get away from all of it. While there, he is summoned by a fox to help a trapped bear. The fox is really Loki and the bear is Thor while the raven flying overhead is Odin. They have been trapped in these forms by a Frost Giant that has taken over Asgard and Odd may be just the one person in all the realms who can help them trick the giant and regain their forms.

A lovely tale and I love that it's Odd's cheerfulness and cleverness that wins the day rather than brute strength.

Page count: 117p/13,124p ytd/263,084p lifetime

Sunday, June 5, 2016

48:120 The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Ivan is a gorilla living in a cage at a mall.  He barely remembers anything other than his current life of people watching him, the tv shows he is allowed to see, painting, and his friends Stella the elephant and Bob the dog.  His presence brought many people in to the mall for a long time but he's now old news and things are going downhill so the owner brings in Ruby, a baby elephant recently taken from her family.  Now Ivan is being forced to remember and see his life through new eyes and he is realizing it's time for a change, not so much for himself but for Ruby.  He even has a plan if he can just get enough paint and make the humans understand him.

An incredibly sweet book of unlikely friendship and devotion that also provides a look at the possible thoughts of the animals we share our planet with and how we might do a better job of looking at them with more understanding and compassion rather than trapping them to provide entertainment for ourselves.

Page count: 319p/13,007p ytd/263,084p lifetime

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

47:120 Wings of Fire: Winglets #3 Deserter by Tui T. Sutherland

The tale of Six-Claws, a happy and loyal Sandwing, and of three Sandwing princesses and the war that tore apart the Sandwing kingdom for many years. An interesting look into not just his past but the personalities of the Sandwing sisters and how events brought us to where the series starts.

Page Count: 48p/12,688p/262,765p lifetime