Saturday, February 27, 2016

19:120 Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep

Book 14 in the Elemental Assassin series.  Gin knows the other shoe is getting ready to drop after finding Fletcher's file on Finn's mother, Deirdre.  She just never expected just how far ahead of her Mama Dee, and how fitting her broken ice heart ruin, would be. Gin has just decided to be upfront with Finn about everything she has found out before Deirdre can come to town only to find out that the new client Finn has been shmoozing, unbeknownst to him, is his long lost mother. Before Gin can tell him, Dee spills the beans herself and starts truly snaring Finn in her web.  Gin wonders if she might be for real but her gut says absolutely not.  The only problem is how to get Finn to listen to her when he finally has his mother.

I felt this was one of the more powerful plots in a while for this series.  Much less of the constant repetitive inner monologing which was nice and much more info gathering and world expanding which looks to be opening up a whole new huge plot for Gin and her friends to deal with. I'm really looking forward to this series again!

Page count: 374p/5,471p ytd/255,518p lifetime

Thursday, February 25, 2016

18:120 Charming by Elliott James

Book 1 in the Pax Arcana series.  John Charming comes from a long line of protectors for the humans, now known as the Knights Templar.  However, he has been running from that order for a while now as he is part werewolf and that taint outweighs his bloodline.  His current life is as a bartender in the small town of Clayburg.  He is doing his best to lie low when a Valkyrie walks into the bar followed shortly after by a vampire.  That's when things get a bit weird.  Next thing he knows, he has taken out the vampire and a few of his friends and is now being approached by Sig, the Valkyrie, to help her small band of monster hunters figure out another supernatural problem.  John wants to say no but something deep inside says yes for him instead.

It was an interesting take on supernaturals in modern times.  Male protagonist so not as common in my urban fantasy reads.  I felt it was a bit rough and I'm not 100% sold on the series but the world was interesting enough that I'll give the second book a chance.  Hopefully the read will be a bit smoother and a bit more gripping with less explaining needing to be done.

Page count: 391p/5,097p ytd/255,144p lifetime

Monday, February 22, 2016

17:120 The Ice Dragon by George R. R. Martin

A simple fairy tale, likely (but not specifically stated to be) in the same world as his Song of Fire and Ice series.  Adara was born in winter and has always felt the chill of it for as long as she can remember.  She almost melts in summer and is miserable until the weather turns cold again.  Then she meets the ice dragon and he becomes her secret friend until the day the invaders come to her village and threaten her family. Adara will do anything to save them, even giving up everything that made her Adara.

A truly lovely little tale with beautiful illustrations.  I've heard that this tale is available in one of GRRM's other anthologies so as such, it might not be worth buying by itself (like my version) but honestly, I'm glad I have this version because the illustrations are fabulous.

Page count: 121p/4,706p ytd/254,753p lifetime

16:120 The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

More stories of the jungles of India which includes the end of Mowgli's time in the jungle and his growing up and becoming a man.  There were some really good stories and again, very richly told and very much enjoyed by myself and my 10yr old.

Page count: 142p/4,585p ytd/254,632p lifetime

Saturday, February 20, 2016

15:120 Driven by Kelley Armstrong

A Pack novella of the Otherworld.  Elena has had to make the most difficult decision as Alpha, how to deal with Malcolm Danvers.  He is cruel and a bully and sees anyone not like him as weak, including his own son and previous Alpha, Jeremy.  Now he has asked to return to the Pack and do whatever he is told to do.  After much soul-searching, Elena sees that this may be a key to showing how the Pack has transformed and grown but it still leaves a vile taste in her mouth.  Only a few months after agreeing to it, a call comes in that someone has murdered a few of the Cain family, a family of mutts but still werewolves.  Elena goes to investigate, bringing Nick, Clay, Reese, and Malcolm with her. This will not only be a test of Malcolm's loyalty but a test for her and those with her as well to see how they will deal with having him around.

I continue to love these characters and am so thankful that while the main series story has been told, we continue to get these novellas seeing how Elena, Clay, and the Pack are doing (with occasional glimpses at the other women as well).  Watching the twins grow, watching Elena take on the role of Alpha, watching Karl with Hope, it's all fabulous and this was no different.  I hope Ms. Armstrong continues to do these for a long time to come.

Page count: 230p/4,443p ytd/254,490p lifetime

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

14:120 Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

A coming of age story dealing with loss, grief, friendship, and so much more.  It's 1987 and June is 14 years old.  She is lonely and awkward and shy, especially as she stands in the shadow of her older sister who seems to have every gift in the world.  June is lucky in that she has her godfather, her uncle Finn, who is warm, caring, and allows her to be herself.  They go on trips to the city and he takes her to operas and art museums and he is the world to June but now he is dying of some mysterious illness and June has no idea how she will deal with her grief or her life without him.

Then there is a mysterious man at the funeral and a few days later a package shows up with Finn's beautiful teapot and a note from Toby asking to meet her.  Toby who was Finn's special "friend" that she knew nothing about but who cared for Finn deeply as well.  Toby is nothing like Finn but June senses a kinship with this man who shared much of Finn's life and is also grieving.  Together, maybe they can find a way out of their grief through an unexpected friendship.

This book was so lovely in its heartbreaking way.  We start knowing quickly that Finn is going to die and so many of us have been there that it's not hard to put yourself in those shoes.  I was 15 years old when my grandmother died and I thought my entire world had just about ended.  My family was supportive but it was different than this and I wish I had someone who really got what she had meant to me, like Toby and June do for each other.  Maybe this book spoke to me so much because I can easily see so much of myself in June too.  Simply told but powerfully felt.

Page count: 360p/4,213p ytd/254,490 lifetime

Thursday, February 11, 2016

13:120 Who Was Woodrow Wilson by Margaret Frith

A brief biography of Woodrow Wilson from birth to death.  We see him struggle to learn to read and not enjoy learning until he was 16 years old but then how his thirst for knowledge took off after that, how he became interested in law and politics, how being president of universities helped hone him for the role of president, how being a child in the South during the Civil War shaped his thoughts on WWI.  Again, we got to see how important a person's early life was in determining their character and shaping their thoughts and policies as president.

Page count: 106p/3,853p ytd/254,130p lifetime

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

12:120 Darkness Raging by Yasmine Galenorn

Otherworld book #18, told by Menolly.  Things are changing and changing fast for the sisters and their friends.  Camille has been told that she must take her place with the faerie queens soon and Delilah is moving up her wedding with Chase.  Now Blood Wyne has decided that it is needed for Menolly to become more than just the official consort of her son Roman, she and Nerissa are to become his wives.  And that is just the personal side of things.

On the war front, things are heating up.  Camille has called in her favor with the dragons to help against Telazhar in Otherworld and his reign of terror is finally at an end.  Unfortunately, Shadow Wing is still out there and taking advantage of the portals popping up everywhere to send his allies over to wreck havoc here on Earth.  After taking out Telazhar, the sisters are now in his sights so he does what any self-respecting villain does and snatches Nerissa and will exchange her for the 4 spirit seals that the sisters have found so far.  That would give him 8 with only one still to be found before the separation of the worlds can be undone.  Menolly knows she can't risk everyone and everything to save her wife but there is no way she can just sit by either...

After a big lull in the major plot of the series, things are coming to a head rapidly. This book moved super fast and I found it almost crazy how much was dealt with.  It was good and I enjoyed it but it was almost too much, too fast.  It left me with a sense of reader's whiplash.  LOL

Page count: 306p/3,747p ytd/254,042p lifetime

Friday, February 5, 2016

11:120 Otherworld Secrets by Kelley Armstrong

An anthology of Otherworld short stories, most of which have been previously published but in limited runs.  I've read half of these before so while I was hoping for more new material, it is still a treat returning to this universe.

Life After Theft - Hope and Karl have settled down. With one child already and another on the way, Karl has given up his thieving ways and gotten a job with Hope's brother in security so his children can be proud of his job and he doesn't have to hide it. However, other people have different ideas about his retirement and are willing to do whatever it takes to bring him out of it to steal for them.  It was great seeing how Hope and Karl's relationship has grown and seriously, watching him as devoted father is touching.  Fabulous story.

Forbidden - Read in 2013. Previous review found on this blog:
      A new story set in her Otherworld series featuring Elena and Clay.  Morgan has decided to take Elena and Clay up on the offer they made when they were in Alaska and come down to check out the Pack.  Unfortunately, when he makes a pit stop in a small town, he gets more than just dinner.  When he is found naked out in the woods and picked up by the local police, they search his things and find Elena's name and number.  When she gets the call, she and Clay go out there to assess the situation and bring Morgan back to the Pack.  Unfortunately, after they spring him from the jail they find their tires have been slashed as have Morgan's.  From there, things only get stranger and stranger as they are pushed into staying and since they are here, they start poking their noses into everything and uncover more than they bargained for.

I so miss this series and especially Elena and Clay as they were my favorites. This was a wonderful story with them, especially watching them work on their new roles as Alpha and Enforcer while not losing their relationship as husband and wife.  I'm glad that while the main story has been told, Ms. Armstrong continues to bring out these other side stories through a small publisher and hope there will be many more to come.

Angelic - Read in 2011. Previous review found on Shelfari and my personal blog:
     More of a novella than a full novel at just over 100 pages, this is a filler story of Eve and her afterlife as an Angel and servant of The Fates. Basically, The Fates have pushed back Eve's "vacation" time again for yet another job and she's fed up with it and decides to do what they have expressly forbid her to do to solve the case she's on in order to get it done faster. She's hoping that this will cause them to fire her so she can be done with the whole deal but she ends up finding out more about herself and her own motivations while solving this one.

The Ungrateful Dead - While Eve is off on a mission for the Fates, Jamie is being hounded by a particularly annoying ghost.  This ghost died with his cousin and they annoyed another necromancer to be brought back to life but didn't listen when he explained that the only way to do that was to make them zombies. Now the ghost wants his cousin fixed and is pestering Jamie to do it.  Together with Savannah, she's hoping they can find a way to get these guys off her back.

Zen and the Art of Vampirism - Zoe is a pretty basic vampire who is happy to just hang around in unclaimed turf and do her thing but when a new group of vampires come along wanting her out, they find that while she appears meek and mild, she's made some interesting friends.

Counterfeit Magic - Read in 2011. Previous review found on Shelfari and my personal blog:
    Another story that is more of a novella than a full-fledged novel. Not a lot of depth going on. We follow Paige as she and Lucas take a case that threatens to divide and conquer, in more ways than one. It was cute, quick read but nothing fantastic and not one that you need to read to add depth to the rest of the series.

Page count: 405p/3,441p ytd/253,736p lifetime

Monday, February 1, 2016

10:120 Presidents and Their Times: Theodore Roosevelt by Dan Elish

A series that chronicles the life of each president, this one focused on Theodore Roosevelt.  We get to see President Roosevelt as a child and watch as he deals with frailty, the loss of his father, then his mother and first wife.  The strength of purpose and morality side-by-side with his running from personal tragedy.  A conservationist but a big game hunter.  I found there was much to admire but since he was human, there were many contradictions as well.  I really like the rounded approach of this series for learning about our presidents with my 4th grader.

Page count: 96p/3,036p ytd/253,331p lifetime