Wednesday, November 30, 2016

99:120 Swamp Bromeliad by Seanan McGuire

Verity has finally brought Dominic to Buckley Township where Thomas Price met Alice Healy, Verity's grandparents.  She has shown him the old homestead but since that is rented out, they are staying in the house the Covenant bought for Thomas Price when they sent him to spy on the Healys.  While there, they meet Alice's old babysitter, the ghost Aunt Mary, and then some boys come to the house and claim that plants ate their brother.  Verity listens and determines that it is likely a swamp bromeliad and if they don't act quickly, the boy will die if he hasn't already been ingested so she and Dominic head out to see what they can do.

Since escaping the swamp bromeliad is what brought Alice onto Thomas's front porch in the first place, it was a lovely bit of symmetry.

Page count: 40p/24,947p ytd/274,104p lifetime

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

98:120 Snake in the Glass by Seanan McGuire

Verity has been criss-crossing all over the country trying to get Dominic more acquainted with the way her world works and now, what better way than to go to Chicago and stay at the Carmichael, a hotel for incryptids run by a family of gorgons.  She'll also get to introduce him to Uncle Mike and Aunt Lea.

It was nice going back to the Carmichael and seeing Dominic's reaction to things there.

Page count: 40p/24,907p ytd/274,057p lifetime

97:120 Voice of Lions by Seanan McGuire

Tybalt, still known by his old name Rand, is a King of Cats with a court of just two subjects, his sister Colleen and her daughter Cailin.  Now Cailin has been stolen away and he will not let this stand so the two of them travel to the to Summerlands to have her back or die in the attempt.

Ok, I absolutely love Tybalt and have since the first book so I'm loving getting some of his backstory.  This story was no exception and I can only hope that there are many more to come.

Page count: 30p ?/24,867p ytd/274,017p lifetime

Monday, November 28, 2016

96:120 Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

A collection of mini-biographies of princesses through history that did not behave in what one might call "typical princess" fashion.  The book is divided into sections based on how the princesses deviated from the standard we think of and then each had a handful of biographies that fit into that heading.

I wanted to like this more than I did and in the beginning, I was really enjoying it.  I liked hearing about the Warrior Princesses who would not marry a man unless they could best them or charging into battle or running away from marriage to become a pirate.  Those seemed well-researched and if short, offered what felt like a good overall mini-biography.  As the book progressed through, it started feeling much more like a gossip magazine with just pulling out the juicy bits as much as possible, maybe with a few possible explanations thrown in but not expounded upon, and then giving entries with 1-2 paragraphs on other notable women that could go under the section titles.  The tone seemed to change a bit as well with the earlier princesses getting a more matter of fact tone and then it switching to a more "you know what I mean, wink wink" kind of tone as things progressed into the "scandalous" sections.  It felt like a juvenile way of handling the material.  In all, I just wasn't impressed and won't be looking further into this author.

Page count: 288p/24,837p ytd/273,987p lifetime

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

95:120 In Little Stars by Seanan McGuire

A short story about Gilad's youth as his parents founded the Kingdom of the Mists and he has to start learning how to actually be a prince in more than just name.  A sweet little story.

Page count: 36p/24,549p ytd/273,699p lifetime

94:120 Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Grey

Adam is so excited to finally be on the road with his father, Roger, living the minstrel life.  It was what he had always imagined and he couldn't have been happier until his dog, Nick, was stolen by another minstrel.  Now Adam is chasing the thief while his father is chasing him.  Unfortunately, as people get seperated from each other, Adam learns that not all minstrels are as wonderful and well-received as his father.  He learns many lessons about life on the road and the people around him.

 My 2nd son actually read this for his bookclub years ago and wanted me to read it and I finally got around to it.  Set in 13th century England, it reads easily with enough odd language thrown in to remind that it's another time but not so much that it takes you out of the story.  It managed to be realistic rather than fantastical in it's depiction and I think gave a fun impression of what life could have been like for a minstrel boy in that time in a way that children of today could understand and maybe even relate to a bit.

Page count: 317p/24,513p ytd/273,663p lifetime

Sunday, November 20, 2016

93:120 Heaps of Pearl by Seanan McGuire

King Gilad is holding a ball in honor of the new Duchess-in-Waiting of Saltmist and all nobles in the Kingdom of the Mists are expected to attend.  Baron Patrick Twycross grumbles but figures he will do as he usually does and make sure his face is seen before finding a place to retreat to safely until he can leave without causing offense.  What he didn't plan on was finding a woman he had never seen before threatening to throw chairs at people if she didn't get some real food immediately.  Since the kitchens are one of Patrick's favorite haunts, he gallantly offers to help her procur a real meal.  Patrick certainly had no idea that he was feeding the Duchess-in-Waiting...

Having already met Dianda and Patrick in the Toby universe, it was fun to see how they first met and began the relationship that we already have seen established.

Page count: 24p/24,196p ytd/273,346p lifetime

Friday, November 18, 2016

92:120 No Sooner Met by Seanan McGuire

The first date between Tybalt and Toby of course it can't go smoothly or easily.  When one is the King of Cats for the local clan and the other a changling Knight, there is always bound to be someone trying to kill at least one of them.

Honestly, I so love Tybalt and Toby together that I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Page count: 25p/24,172p ytd/273,322p lifetime

Thursday, November 17, 2016

91:120 Becoming by Kelley Armstrong

A comic telling the story of Elena's transformation and her 'adjustment' to her new life from Jeremy.  As Ms. Armstrong stated, she has been beseached by fans for this story for a long time but felt that it was so dark that it couldn't be told until the comic idea came where it could be illustrated.  I agree, it was dark but it was good to see the pain that she went through on her way to becoming the character we meet in Bitten, to more fully understand were she came from.

Besides that story, there is also some history from the Pack in the back regarding the dissolution of taking mates and female werewolves.  Nice tidbit for long time fans.

Page count: 92p/24,147p ytd/273,297p lifetime

90:120 Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire

When Toby was sent to the Kingdom of Silences to try and prevent war, no one suspected that she would return with a cure for elf shot, the magical substance that induces a 100-year coma in full-bloods rather than killing them which would violate Oberon's law but is also deadly to changelings.  The cure was used to wake up the sleepers in Silences but now it must go through the political process with the High King and Queen to determine if it will be made widely available.  Arden is all for using it, of course, since her brother has been asleep for 80 years now but there are many who don't want to see the cure distributed.  By the end of the first day of the conclave, someone is dead and now Toby must find out who killed him if peace is to be maintained.  When Dianda is shot with elf shot, Toby needs to figure out if it's the same person or if she is dealing with two different factions.  As she gets closer, the danger to not only herself but her friends increase and time is running out for them all.

I was bummed that all the school reading for my kiddos had kept me from this book for so long so as soon as I had my head above water, I reached for it.  I needed something to let me escape and this did not disappoint.  I love these characters so much and I admit to almost throwing the book at one point because I needed a feel-good story and what happened did not look like that was going to happen.  I actually had to take a break for a few minutes to compose myself and then had to finish the book to make sure it ended up all right.  I'm not sure how I would have held up if the results had been much different.

In the back of this edition is the novella, Dreams and Slumbers.  Since I don't want to post spoilers for the book, I will just say that this is told from Arden's point of view and deals with her thoughts on her sleeping brother.  I found her to be a bit whiny in her internal monologue which was kind of a turn-off but I think this could be setting up some interesting things for the future of the series.

Page count: 420p/24,055p ytd/273,205p lifetime

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

89:120 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The tale of Huck Finn after he runs away from his pa and chooses to travel down the river with the runaway slave, Jim.  It details their adventures which are many and don't generally show Huck in a good light but he always gets away with it and seems to have his head screwed on a bit better by the end of the story.

I'm of so many minds about this book.  I know intellectually that the treatment of Jim throughout the book is tame considering our history but I still hate it (although that makes it a good reason to read the book).  The dialects do add a lot of flavor to it but sometimes make for harder reading for my high school student.  I found myself shaking my head over the many times that Huck thinks about doing the right thing but then shrugs it off and then there is Tom's plan for rescuing Jim which just Ugh!  That part was just painful to read through.  I think historically it continues to be a must read book for high school but it will never be one of my favorites.

Page count: 225p/23,635p ytd/272,785p lifetime

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

88:120 History of US: Making Thirteen Colonies by Joy Hakim

My third time reading these books.  Here is my previous review:
The 2nd book in the History of US series (5th-8th US History text).  Well, Jon likes them as much as he likes history at all (which is to say not much) but I will say that I think I was spoiled by the Oxford Ancient Times series.  This one just hasn't gripped me, the writing is repetitive in it's simplistic language, and I'm basically just ungripped.  I'm sure there are better books out there but the small chapters and easy reading is exactly what Jon needs so I think I'm stuck with it.  *sigh*  Only 8 more volumes left. 

Ok, now that I've had over a year away from the Oxford series and am reading these with a child who is enjoying them, I'm much less cranky with them.  I still find the jumping around annoying but that seems to be fairly common with many history books as they try to focus on whatever thing they are currently talking about although I feel that without the context of everything else that was happening at the time there is a lot that gets lost even if you swing back around and try to pick that other stuff up while following a different thread.  But maybe that's just me.  I am definitely willing to concede that.  I will say, these do hold up better next to the high school world history that I am also currently reading.  

Page count: 192p/23,410p ytd/272,560p lifetime

Monday, November 7, 2016

87:120 The Way Home by Seanan McGuire

Jonathan has become incredibly overprotective of Alice since Fran's death.  Alice, now being 16 and most definitely her mother's daughter, is not really having it so it's not a huge surprise when she goes off into the woods to do some investigation.

Thomas Price has been falsifying reports to the Covenant for a while now about remote areas and the creatures that inhabit them so it wasn't a surprise to him when he was sent into what basically amounted to exile watching over the Healy's.  What did surprise him was when this 16 year old girl ended up on his front porch almost as soon as he arrived at his new house and now her family knows he's in town.

It was nice seeing the first meeting between Thomas and Alice.  I really hope we get to see more of them as their relationship progresses.

Page count: 34p/23,218p ytd/272,368p lifetime

Thursday, November 3, 2016

86:120 So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Public shaming is not a new phenomenon but was actually used frequently and effectively in for centuries leading up to the 1900s when it started declining because it was deemed cruel.  Now, in our online forums it has made a staggering comeback but instead of it being something that is used as a punishment being meted out by the village where your transgression took place by people who generally knew you and understood the circumstances, it is now being carried out almost instantaneously by people who had never heard of you until they saw the dog pile going on and decide to jump into the fray.  This book goes into several different ways that public shaming has taken place recently, the after effects of each case, and looks more deeply into the mindset behind it and when public shaming can be appropriate and when it just goes overboard.

So this book was assigned to my 18yr old for his English 100 class.  When I saw it come in, I was already intrigued and said as much to him.  We decided we would try to read it together when it was assigned so we could discuss it.  His entire class has lead to many interesting discussions as his teacher seeks to bring awareness to many different social issues which I'm definitely a proponent of.  This book was no different.  I have signed many petitions and been outspoken in my views of many things but I have tried to stay away from the social shaming although I admit to sometimes being happy to see some of it being done (pretty much any shaming someone like Brock Turner or someone like him gets I'm not going to be shedding a tear over) but I've seen many other instances like the case of Justine Sacco where I believe that what was done and the consequences to her life far outweighed the judgment lapse and the lack of any meaningful discussion behind said lapse.  Pointing out that people have done something wrong is one thing.  Condemning them without ever really listening to their side of the story and playing judge, jury, and executioner as a mob is not something I am in favor of towards an individual.  Can this mentality be used to shame companies into better behavior?  Yes and I actually believe that to be a fairly ethical use of this power so long as it sticks to the facts of the complaint against them and does not get personal with the employees outside of the "this is what was said".  I admit to having to do things like post on a company's FB page in order to get my complaints resolved before but I never attacked, called for rape of anyone, or threatened any violence of any kind.  This kind of behavior is, in my opinion (and seems to be in the opinion of the author), completely uncalled for at any time.  I see the rise in public shaming of individuals who do something dumb or have an opinion different from someone else's as a symptom of the general lack of compassion and civility that is going around.  We are so much more connected to the world these days but this online presence makes it easy to forget that there is a real person on the other side of the screen who has hopes and dreams and feelings just like you do while you can be an anonymous voice from cyberspace.  I think this book was a good reminder of how we need to start looking in the mirror and more carefully consider our actions using compassion and civility before we start typing.

Page count: 318p/23,184p ytd/272,334p lifetime

85:120 The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Old Mombi is out when her ward, Tip, decides to make a pumpkinhead man to scare her upon her return but the joke is on Tip when Old Mombi uses the pumpkinhead to test a new spell she has gotten the component to and brings him to life.  Now Tip is on the run with Jack Pumpkinhead and their new mount, the Sawhorse, to the Emerald City to escape Old Mombi's wrath.  Unfortunately, when they get there they find that the city is under seige by a rebel army of women under the leadership of General JinJur.  Now Tip and his friends must aid the Scarecrow to escape and get help to bring order back to the city.  Their best hope will be to find Princess Ozma, the daughter of the ruler that the Wizard deposed, but she has been missing for many years now.

I actually preferred this one to the first in that the characters were a bit more complex and the actual quest moved better and the Tin Woodman was a bit more cautious with his ax.

Page count: 288p/22,866p ytd/272,016p lifetime