Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New Releases I'm Looking Forward to: 4th Quarter 2017

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.

Well, summer did not allow me the time I was hoping for to get caught up but thankfully September seems to be kicking it off right, in my reading at least.  Still not sure I'm going to hit 120 books this year but I'm not throwing in the towel yet.  It might happen. Of course, I'm pretty sure Goodeads will not be agreeing with my totals. I found out that some of the short stories (don't judge, it's been a crazy year and since the rules for this game are my own, they get to count) that were listed in their database have since been removed so they currently show me down 4 from my own count. If I make it by my own list, I'm counting it as a win.

So now on to what I'm looking forward to as the year comes to a close.  There really isn't much so again, I'm hoping that means maybe I can do a little catching up on the large backlog I've got.  A girl can hope, right?!

Artemis by Andy Weir is the author's second book after his incredibly popular The Martian (which was well loved by everyone in my family!)  This one looks to be much, much different as we follow a smuggler who ends up in over her head as she gets caught in a conspiracy for control of Artemis, the colony on the Moon.

Release Date: November 14

Atargatis went to make a mockumentory of mermaids in the Marina Trench 7 years ago but all hands were lost and what happened to them is still a mystery.  Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant follows the new expedition of the ship that want to try and figure out what happened, especially Victoria Stewart who lost her sister that day.

Release Date: November 14

Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter is the third book in the Soulwood series which is set in the same world as Jane Yellowrock and in fact, we meet Nell in Jane's stories and Nell works with Rick now.  Unfortunately I'm behind in the Jane Yellowrock series and haven't even started this one so while I'm excited enough to put it on my list, I'm trying to avoid any type of knowing what's going on with it until I've read the others since I'm so far behind.

Release Date: December 5

So yeah, like I said, not much coming out for me this quarter which is just fine since I'm so far behind.  Maybe I can actually get caught up on a few other series before the year is out.

69:120 The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards

It was a strange day at the zoo when Lindy, Tom, and Ben met Professor Savant.  They thought he was strange when he told them about Whangdoodles but figured he was harmless and they'd never see him again. Until Halloween when Lindy said she would knock at the spookiest house on the block and who should it belong to but Professor Savant. The children had been noodling over what he said and he invites them to come learn with him how to get to Whangdoodleland to try and meet the very Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. They will need to use every bit of imagination they possess and learn how to harness it properly to make the trip and it will take several trips to try and get to his palace especially since the Prime Minister, Oily Prock, does not want them to disturb the Whangdoodle and will do everything in his power to stop them making it to the castle.

A sweet tale of never giving up and remembering how powerful your imagination can be. I've seen several reviews compare it to Oz and Narnia and it's very easy to see why but at the same time, it's a much gentler story than those so even children who are sensitive would likely enjoy it.  Dame Edwards does not disappoint as this is just the kind of story you could see her Mary Poppins telling to children in her keeping.

Note, I see that some people have expressed concern about the children entering into secret packs with a stranger. First, the Professor is known the parents although the exact nature of the relationship with the children is not but he does make it a point to contact their parents and tell them he is giving them lessons.  As a parent, I think this can be used as a teaching moment about good secrets vs. bad secrets and to have a frank discussion with your child about how this is lovely in literature but not something you would want them to be keeping from you in real life.  If you are concerned about that content, maybe read it yourself and decide if it's the right thing for your family or not.  Not every book is right for everyone and you know your situation best.

Page count: 277p/13,784p ytd/284,888p lifetime

Monday, September 11, 2017

68:120 Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Jacqueline and Jillian were born to parents who had children because that seemed to be the way for them to climb the social ladder. Having twin girls, while not as perfect as having boy/girl twins, seemed a way for both parents to get what they wanted. Jacqueline was turned into the perfect little girl, never dirty, perfect manners, always dressed like a princess...just as her mother had decided was the perfect daughter. Jillian was turned into a tomboy, given a short haircut, put into all the sports, encouraged to go adventuring...the best her father could get since he didn't have an actual son.

They were 12 years old when they found the stairway in the trunk in their closet that led them to the Moors, a land of death and choices, mad scientists and vampires.  The girls made their choices and Jacqueline went with the mad scientist to get dirty and delve into scientific mysteries and shortened her name to Jack and wore pants and vests and boots.  Jillian stayed with the vampire who was the first "person" they met when they arrived and had all the beautiful dresses she could wish for with servants to wait upon her and grant her every whim and shortened her name to Jill.

Now Jack and Jill barely know each other but when Jill makes an ill-conceived choice, it costs them both everything they have ever wanted and forces them to return to the land at the top of the staircase in the trunk, 5 years after they left and very much changed.

This is the second book in the Wayward Children series. We met Jack and Jill in the first book but this is really a prequel to that, telling the story of Jack and Jill before they went to the Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children.  It was definitely a very interesting twist on the old nursery rhyme and I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.

Page count: 176p/13,507p ytd/284,611p lifetime

Friday, September 8, 2017

67:120 When the Sun Goes Dark by Andrew Fraknoi & Dennis Schatz

A book from the National Science Teachers Association explaining the science of eclipses in a concise and easy to understand way for middle school children. After seeing a partial eclipse, my 11yr old really enjoyed reading it and getting a better idea of the hows and whys of solar eclipses.  I read it so I could know what he knew and what else we could discuss about them,

Page count: 36p/13,331p ytd/284,435p lifetime

Thursday, September 7, 2017

66:120 Carboard by Doug TenNapel

Mike is down on his luck, can't find any work, and it's his son's birthday when a street vendor approaches him with a special gift of what looks to be ordinary cardboard. The cardboard has a few rules which quickly get forgotten when the boxer Mike and his son, Cam, made comes alive. Unfortunately, the neighborhood bully finds out about it and steals the scraps and is able to start his own monster factory, which as you can imagine goes horribly wrong.

Not a fan of the artistic style of the story (I tend to be really picky about my comic art after growing up with Elfquest to compare everything else to) but the story was cute if a bit predictable but not a bad way to spend an hour or two.

Page count: 288p/13,295p ytd/284,399p lifetime

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

65:120 illegible address by Denver Butson

Contemporary poetry focusing on love, loss, the daily lives and thoughts of every day people. As with any book of poetry, there were poems that really spoke to me and I focused on and read a couple of times over and there were some (like the drowning ghazal ones) that I read and immediately moved past because they really didn't do anything for me.  This is a poet that I'm not sure I'd actively seek out again but if someone handed me one of his books to read, I would probably sit down and enjoy most of it.

Page count: 67p/13,007p ytd/284,111p lifetime

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

64:120 Midnight Release Party by Faye Larson

Riley has never attended a book release party before but he has become obsessed with the Van Helsing series and can't wait to find out what will happen between Stephen and Dimitri.  While he is sitting there drinking his blood mocha, dressed as Stephen, there is a Vlad outside trying to get him to come out and play while his friend, Lindsey, is encouraging him to go out. Instead, he turns around to find a handsome man dressed as a Renfield behind him and strikes up a conversation.

A short story that appears to be setting things up for further installments. Riley seems likable and we got a bit of his backstory and basic plot lines for the Van Helsing series itself but it was fairly basic so I'm hoping things get a bit more fleshed out as the series progresses.  For the record, I know the author.

Page count: 39p/12,940 ytdp/284,044p lifetime

Saturday, September 2, 2017

63:120 Magical Girls by Amber Benson, Sarah Kuhn, and Seanan McGuire

A story of how fandoms can bring people together to create lasting bonds of friendship that otherwise would likely never have existed.  Three women who meet each other through a fanfic board about their favorite show become best friends despite never having met and then we get to be witness to their actual in-person meeting, the insecurities of doing so, and a successful integration between cyberfriendship and meatspace friendship.

I've been there. I made some incredible friendships through parenting boards and 17 years later, I'm still friends with many of those ladies. I've met several in person and yes, it was a bit nervewracking each time but it always ended up being an amazing experience and I'm thrilled to have them in my life.  I've met people through fandoms that way as well and I'm happy to see a story being written about those bonds.

Page count: 55p/12,901p ytd/284,005p lifetime

Friday, September 1, 2017

62:120 The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Review from the last time I read it in 2012:

Read this last in 2008 when I decided to read the whole series because I never had. It was as lovely and enchanting this time as it was last time. It might have even be a bit better this time because I've had the pleasure to share it with my 11yr old. I found a lovely curriculum and we are going to go through the entire series together this year. I'm so looking forward to it.
Well, I enjoyed doing the curriculum with that kid so now I'm doing it with the next one and have talked another friend into doing it as well with us which of course, makes everything better.  I still think that this one may still be my favorite of the entire series but I'll see if I change my mind by the end this time.

Page count: 202p/12,846p ytd/283,950p lifetime

Thursday, August 31, 2017

61:120 Wit and Wisdom of Disney edited by Emily Osborn

A small collection of quotes from Walt Disney but many more from Disney movies, many of which were done after Walt's death.  It's a sweet little collection.

Page count: 71p/12,644p ytd/283,748p lifetime

60:120 Doctor Who: Snowglobe 7 by Mike Tucker

Written with 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and companion Martha (Freema Agyeman).  The Doctor has promised Martha a nice relaxing vacation on a warm beach somewhere but instead they end up inside a snowglobe on Earth, somewhere in the Middle East.  This is an attempt by humans to preserve this type of habitat from global warming but has turned instead into more of a series of posh ski resorts for the wealthy.  That is, until a creature from another world who was living in the ice that they saved out of the Arctic wakes up and decides that it's time for it to remake the world for itself and it's offspring. Now Martha and the Doctor will need every trick they can muster to save the humans on the planet from extinction.

I liked the story a lot. I thought it was well executed and the voice of the Doctor was definitely captured.  There were twists and turns and I could definitely see this as an actual episode so hats off for that. Unfortunately, I felt that Martha was the weak link. I really enjoyed her character and I could not hear her voice in my head at all. It seemed like this could have been any random person the Doctor had picked up and there would have been no difference at all in the relationship or the dialog from her character.

Page count: 255p/12,573p ytd/283,677p lifetime

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

59:120 Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Chenoweth & Maria J. Stephan

An in-depth study and analysis of how successful nonviolent and violent campaigns are historically.  The thesis is that non-violent campaigns are more successful at achieving their results long-term and since they were looking mostly at regime changes, ending up in a more democratic government as well.  They reviewed campaigns going back to 1900 and wrote about 4 specific case studies in the book to illustrate specific points (Iran, Philippines, Burma, and Israel/Palestine).  Their conclusion is that non-violent campaigns are more successful for a variety of reasons (which they do go into fairly deeply) than violent ones and have a better outcome over 5-10 years after.

I read this for book club but admit to this being something I'm interested in for a variety of reasons.  Most of which have to do with learning more history about other countries around the world and how different types of governments work and don't work and how the people react to them when they don't work for the people.  That being said, this is definitely a text book and reads like I would imagine a doctoral thesis paper would, especially the first several chapters. It was dry and very difficult for a layperson like myself to get through. Once we got to the case studies, it was much more approachable and I really enjoyed seeing how these events unfolded especially since they either happened before I was born or when I was young enough to not really be paying attention to the  world outside my neighborhood. I vaguely remember something happening in the Philippines and the talk about Imelda Marcos's shoes but that's really it. I know a little about what is going on in Israel and Palestine and I have a very basic understanding of the root issues and while this didn't go much into all that, it was interesting to see some of what has happened there over the years.

Page count: 320p/12,318p ytd/283,322p lifetime

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

58:120 House of Light by Mary Oliver

A book of poems which my high school junior will be reading a handful of for his English class this year, so of course I read the whole thing.

The poems were very nature oriented with a feeling of reverence surrounding it. I generally felt at peace reading many of them, as it seemed to be a free-flowing stream of conscience noticing the world around oneself.  I have a feeling that I will end up reading this book again for deeper and deeper meanings.

Page count: 80p/11,998p ytd/283,002p lifetime

Sunday, August 13, 2017

57:120 Wreck the Halls by Faye Larson

Keiran has had it with the holidays. He's single and now out of work so he does what anyone would do and heads to the corner market for some eggnog to make himself feel better and try to get some semblance of the holiday spirit.  Instead, he thwarts some sort of sick weirdo but now he's in his own trouble when Santa (well, not the real Santa but some guy in a red suit) comes and between the two of them, they manage to turn the situation around, and then some.

Cute little hook-up story with a sweet ending. For the record, I know the author and was given a copy with no expectation of review or payment.

Page count: 20p/11,918p ytd/282,922p lifetime

Friday, August 11, 2017

56:120 Wings of Fire: Winglets #4 Runaway by Tui T. Sutherland

Another short story in the Wings of Fire series. This one tells the story of how Darkstalker's parents met.  Prince Arctic of the Icewings was not enjoying being a prince or an animus. He couldn't stand the dragon that had been chosen as his fiance or his mother telling him what the big thing he will make for the tribe with his animus powers will be.  He wants to make his own choices and he is fuming about this when he runs into one of the Nightwing representatives, Foeslayer. All of a sudden, here is a dragon who doesn't care that he is a Prince or how he is supposed to behave or the ranking boards or anything else he has been told is all that should matter. How can he not fall in love?

A basic star-crossed lovers story although in this case, we know the lovers end up together with children in the future but it does provide some interesting history for Darkstalker.

Page count: 52p/11,898p ytd/285,902p lifetime

Thursday, August 10, 2017

55:120 Cabbages and Kings by Seanan McGuire

A series of letters between two lovers who seem to be Fae royalty who have been promised to others and who are prepared to turn the world upside down to be with each other.

Suggestion, don't mess with Fae royalty.

A patreon story by Seanan McGuire. This one doesn't seem to necessarily be set in any particular world (maybe Toby but maybe not) but was definitely enjoyable.

Page count: 15p/11,846p ytd/285,850p lifetime

54:120 Written in Blood by Faye Larson

It's Victorian London and there are certain vices one simply doesn't talk about, even when in a brothel. Thierry has managed to yet again escape out the back after his friends drag him to one because the ladies there simply don't light a fire in him but the handsome stranger who catches a cab with him? That's an entirely different matter. Thierry does end up joining the stranger for an interlude that leads to much more than he could have ever dreamed.

Plot was basic but well executed even if it was fairly predictable with no real surprises. The interplay between the characters kept it fresh and interesting anyway and allowed it to be an enjoyable getaway from the real world for a bit.  For the record, I know the author and was given a copy with no expectation of review or payment.

Page count: 133p/11,831p ytd/285,850p lifetime

Sunday, August 6, 2017

53:120 Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

The 10th book in the Mercy Thompson series. Mercy has been taken by one of the meanest vampires ever from her home town and brought half-way across the world. However, like many before him, he underestimated her and she escaped but now she is wondering through Europe with no clothes, no money, no friends, and no way to contact Adam and the pack. Now she must find a way to satisfy at least a few of those and when she gets a hold of a pack member, she finds out that Adam is now in Sicily negotiating with the scary vampire and she is being directed to try and get protection from a werewolf pack whose Alpha hates Bran. Not a good place for a Coyote to be in but unfortunately not entirely unsurprising for Mercy either.

What can I say except I love these books and this may be the best one yet. The switching back and forth between Adam and Mercy to piece everything together worked beautifully. Mercy was resourceful and while things worked out for her in the long run, she had to work for a lot of it which made it more believable. There was some back story of other characters in this which was a nice touch to tie things together.  Now to wait impatiently for the next book in the series which I don't even think there is a release date for yet.  *pout*

Page count: 371p/11,698p ytd/285,717p lifetime

Friday, July 28, 2017

52:120 Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka lives in a small town on the edge of the Woods, a malevolent forest that separates two kingdoms encroaching on both a little at a time. On Agnieska's side, it is held in check by the Dragon, a wizard up in how tower that her town is beholden to. Every 10 years, they pay the price of giving up a daughter from one of the town's that survive by his protection and this year Agnieszka is chosen even over Kaisa. She is confused until after a few days it becomes apparent that he is trying to train her. She has power although it's a kind that he is not familiar with but maybe it's the power that the kingdom needs if it is to survive what the Woods has been in store for it.

A rich world built with a tremendous amount of depth and attention to details. The characters were equally deep and complex as are their relationships.  I thought the story dragged a little in the beginning as things were getting set-up and there was a lot of me wanting to reach into the book and smack Agnieszka...a LOT of times. There were a few times later in the book but I think I was so engrossed with what has happening to notice them. This was my first time reading this author and I will definitely be looking into her other works as it was fabulous.

Page count: 465p/11,327p ytd/285,346p lifetime

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

51:120 Works of Thy Hands by Gyla Beth Seal & January Taylor

Cyrus knew that he and his siblings were genetically superior to others but he always attributed that to the genetics of his parents.  That is until the day he found out that he was genetically engineered and instead of a birth certificate, he has been patented. This comes on the heels of finding out that he has managed to impregnate to girlfriend and now their baby could be taken away and that is something that Cyrus just can't allow so they all the way to Mars but once they are found, the legal battle to determine just what Cyrus is will be epic.

My friend recommended this book to me and it was an interesting read.  As technology is getting closer and closer to this, I find the subject fascinating and there were definitely times when I was reminded of the ST:TNG episode where Picard and Riker were arguing over Data's status as an android, whether he was the property of Star Fleet or a sentient being capable of making his own choices. I believe this to the first book by these authors and it looks like they haven't done much else which is shame as I think this showed promise.

Page count: 186p/10,862p ytd/284,881p lifetime

50:120 Shadow Silence by Yasmine Galenorn

The 2nd book in the Whisper Hollow series.  Kerris is starting to settle into her life as the spirit shaman to Whisper Hollow and learning who all the players are in the fight between the Morrigan's forces and those of the Cu Chulainn.  In all that though, there is always the Lady in the Lake who is on no ones side but her own and they can do nothing but pick up the pieces of the lives she shatters with her hunger, until she tries to claim Kerris's best friend, Peggin.  Now Kerris and the elders are trying to figure out how to break Peggin free of the Lady's hex while dealing with the whispers they are getting of strange things in the forest that shouldn't be there.

I really enjoy this series.  I've always been a fan of Celtic mythology so it's interesting to see her bringing it more present day. The characters are believable and I love how they interact with each other. Watching Kerris struggle to not respect Peggin's wishes even when she wants so desperately to keep her from buying the house so close to the lake and the Lady's influence is heartbreaking but you still know that it's necessary for their friendship. Those kinds of character relationships are what make Ms. Galenorn's books so wonderful.  I'm just really saddened that the series has not been picked up by the publisher for further installments and we won't see anything else until the rights to the characters revert back to Ms. Galenorn at some point in the future.

Page count: 298p/10,676p ytd/284,695p lifetime

Saturday, July 8, 2017

49:120 Urban Allies edited by Joseph Nassise

An interesting concept where 20 urban fantasy writers were paired up and wrote stories with their partner utilizing a main character from their own series.  Rather than going into detail about each story, I'm going to focus more on how well I think the concept worked for that pair.

Jaye Welles & Caitlyn Kittridge - I've only read the Prospero Wars books by Jaye Wells and nothing by Caitlyn Kittridge so I had no idea about the characters in this story but it didn't matter.  One set was sent on a wild goose chase to hopefully take out the other set but the fur flies and it gets figured out so they team up to find the person who betrayed them both. The story swings back and forth between Sabina and Ava and it mostly works. Even without knowing anything about any of the characters, enough was given so I had a clue (and I'm now very interested in the Sabina books and might check out the Ava books as well) and didn't feel lost but I don't think it was so much that it would annoy someone who was already familiar with those worlds.

Seanan McGuire & Kelley Armstrong - This story right here was the thing that pushed me over the edge into buying this book.  I LOVE both of these authors and their worlds and the thought of them being combined might have made me squeee. Unfortunately, the story did anything but.  They "paired" up Verity from Seanan's Incryptid series with Elena from Kelley's Otherworld series but only sort of.  They were both in the same NY forest and stumbled upon the same poacher but their entire interaction was a brief moment when Elena was kicking the guy's ass and Verity says 'Hi'.  Really?!  I know both characters are cagey by nature but this story could easily have not had the other character and it would not have changed anything so in terms of being a collaborative effort and putting the characters really together it fell enormously flat and was very disappointing.

Steven Savile & Craig Schaefer - This is the first story that has more of what I was expecting in terms of a collaborative effort.  It does swing from what I'm assuming is one author's characters to the others but in a way that was naturally flowing and then flowed back to a cooperative narrative. It blended all the characters well and if I did not know this was a joint effort with characters from two different universes, I would not have guessed it to be the case.

Joseph Nassie & Sam Witt - I knew nothing of either of these writers or their universes before this story.  There was enough backstory in there that I didn't feel totally lost although there were definitely pieces of backstory that were hinted at but not explained which for a short story I think is actually good as it works as a hook to get people to go check out their other books which I totally get.  The story and characters worked well together on the whole.

Diana Rowland & Carrie Vaughn - Ok, I have to admit that the White Trash Zombie and Kitty Norville books are both ones that I really enjoy so I was pretty happy to see these characters mashed up together.  Unfortunately, this one didn't have a whole lot of backstory so I can easily see people not familiar with the worlds not really getting the characters.  They felt a bit flat and the story was predictable with little detail in any sense.  Why do the ones I'm so looking forward to in this book end up being the more disappointing ones?!

Weston Ochse & David Wellington - I really enjoyed this tale and had I not known it was a collaboration, I never would have guessed it to be one.  It flowed very well between the two characters who both seemed at home in the universe.  There was enough background for me to not feel completely disorientated but definitely left me knowing there was a lot more and what was it?! I might be looking into these authors a bit more.

Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden - I didn't know either of these characters although I did recognize the name Niall from the Sookie books so that's the only way I was able to tell whose character was whose.  They did a nice job of melding the characters together in a world that neither was wholly familiar with which put them on more even footing and allowed a bit more exposition to sound natural as they are figuring everything out.  Well done mashup in my opinion.

C.E. Murphy & Kat Richardson - I've heard of C.E. Murphy but hadn't even added anything to my wishlist. I think it was more a "If you like xxx" kind of thing.  I've read most of Kat Richardson's Greywalker series so I knew one of the characters in this.  I have to say this was the most interesting way of combining two characters from different universes.  Instead of just throwing them in together and calling it the same universe, they end up in a pocket dimension that is bridging the two and Jo Walker and Harper Blaine end up there from their respective sides. The mystery is resolved only when each person takes a spirit into themselves that harnesses the power of the other so Jo and Harper both get to experience the magic of the other.  Quite interesting and well done.

Jeff Somers & Stephen Blackmoor - I'd never heard of either of these authors going into. It was pretty easy to differentiate between them (although I couldn't tell you who went with which character) but I felt like Lem's story gave a bit more back story to that world and fleshed things out more which definitely made it more interesting to someone with no idea about the characters or worlds.

Larry Correia & Jonathan Mayberry - I've heard of Jonathan Mayberry (one of my kids reads his zombie books) but otherwise, I came into this cold.  There was precious little exposition so I really only figured out that we were dealing with two military people who deal with different types of supernatural. I didn't get a good feel for either of the characters, the story was pretty simple and typical of the other types of stories in the book but it wasn't anything that made me want to go pick up anything else by these authors.

Page count: 410p/10,378p ytd/284,397p lifetime

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

48:120 The 'Z' Word by Faye Larson

Ben's day started out pretty normal, on his way to the bookstore to check things out, when a group of people started falling in on him and Great Coat Guy just outside the store.  They were able to fend the group off and get inside but the group is continuing to beat at the windows and moan. Ben can't help but think that a few massive pots of coffee might help them but he's not willing to risk a confrontation with the...protesters? That doesn't seem like quite the right word for them but the one word that does fit, and begins with z, is completely irrational and not to be thought.  Now if only he and stranger of the great coat, can figure out how to get out of this alive...

Short but fairly humorous tale of what you could most likely expect to happen to a person with moder sensibilities confronted by a moaning, shambling group of people.  Fun, quick read. For the record, I know the author and was given a copy with no expectation of review or payment.

Page count: 34p/9,9368p ytd/283,987p lifetime

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

47:120 The Water that Falls on You From Nowhere by John Chu

Matt lives in a world where when you lie, rain comes out of nowhere. It can be a simple shower for a half-truth to torrential downpour for something huge that you are denying even to yourself. On the flip side, telling big truths produces warmth that tingles and can dry everything out.  So when Gus tells Matt how much he loves him and there is warmth and not the slightest hint of humidity, Matt lies about his feelings and the rains come tumbling down. It's not so much about his feelings for Gus that cause Matt to deny it, but rather how it will affect his traditional Chinese parents who have been telling him his whole life how he must get married and have kids to pass down the family name. What will they say?! But at the same time, how much longer can he keep ducking this question before the rains tell them everything he wants to keep hidden?

A beautifully told tale of love and family and obligation in an interesting world building exercise.

Page count: 22p/9,934p ytd/283,953p lifetime

Friday, June 30, 2017

46:120 The Recitation of the Most Holy and Harrowing Pilgrimage of Mindy and Also Mork by Seanan McGuire

The events in this story take place immediately after Magic for Nothing.  Sam has promised Annie that he would get Mork and Mindy, the Aeslin mice, safely to the airport so they can make their way back to her family and let them know what she has learned on her travels since she feels she must disappear to keep the Covenant from finding them.  Sam has done so but he continues to worry about Annie but now her ghost aunt, Mary, has taken to haunting him occasionally and filling him in and he is trying to make peace with that.  We get to watch that journey as well as follow Mork and Mindy on their travels through the airport and trying to get on a plane to get them back to Portland safely.

In all, this was a nice way to wrap up some of the loose ends that were left after Magic for Nothing but I could see not fitting well into the next book.  I'm so very thankful that Ms. McGuire does these short stories and puts them out there for her fans.  It helps with the withdrawal symptoms between books.

Page count: 68p/9,912p ytd/283,931p lifetime

Thursday, June 29, 2017

45:120 Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

A cute series of single page comics showing Darth Vader being an actual parent to Luke and all that entails from taking him to the zoo to teaching him how to use the force to get his cereal to making sure he knows that Darth Maul and evil are who to cheer on.  You know, typical parenting things and definitely the sort that geek parents everywhere can relate to. :)

Page count: 64p/9,844p ytd/283,863p lifetime

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

44:120 Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

We are in a possible (probable future) where we can manufacture things so simply and easily that there should be no need for people to go without the basic necessities but the uber rich (zottas) have continued to try and keep things as the status quo (default).  Now there are parties where people find abandoned warehouses with manufacturing capability, play the music, drink, and make the stuff that people need for them to come take for free.  It is at one of these parties that Seth has dragged Etc. and they meet with a zotta girl, Natalie.  The party is broken up by drones and death which leaves them back at Natalie's house feeling very despondent when the idea gets floated about to go Walkaway, to join with those who have eschewed the Default society to try and create a more egalitarian society without want of basics and without money and zottas.  The three new friends go and find more than they ever thought they would but life is not easy as even among the Walkaways, there are those who want to impose their will upon others and there are those doing research that the zottas from default will stop at nothing to try and get their hands on.  Besides, Walkaway shows others from Default that the zottas are not needed to run things and challenges their whole way of life and sense of self, something they just cannot allow to continue.

I enjoyed the beginning of the book immensely and the end was good but the middle was much more of a slog and there were several jumps of many years that was quiet disorientating.  The book itself was definitely dystopian and scary in how easily I could see our world heading that direction.

Page count: 384p/9,780p ytd/283,799p lifetime

Monday, June 19, 2017

43:120 The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer

Carrie Fischer recently found her old journals written during the filming of Star Wars: A New Hope and that wash of memory led her to write this, an intimate look at her thoughts during that time and what was happening behind the scenes.  It includes many excerpts from her diaries during that time which offers an incredible look at her thoughts in an uncensored way.  She writes with wit and humor about her naivete but with candor about her relationship with her co-star, Harrison Ford (ok, a lot of naivete there as well) and all of that when writing about how being Leia changed her life and what those changes meant.  Having grown up with Star Wars (I was 2 when it came out in theaters) and looking up to Princess Leia as my role model through my childhood, I loved hearing from her directly about her thoughts on the experience.

Page count: 267p/9,396p ytd/283,799p lifetime

Sunday, June 18, 2017

42:120 Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire

The 6th book in the Incryptid series.  Now that Verity has told the Covenant that there are still Prices in North America and all but declared war on them, the family is scrambling trying to figure out how to handle the crisis they know is coming. This means not only pooling all available resources but figuring out how to gain the intel they will need to try and plan. Unfortunately all their allies are the Incryptids they are trying to protect and their family genealogy is well known to the Covenant and they all tend to favor each other, except for the youngest Price child, Antimony. She has the look of a farther back ancestor, one known to the Covenant but not so clearly marked as being easily identifiable as a Price. As her family's only hope of finding out the Covenant's plans, she reluctantly agrees to go undercover and become a recruit for the enemy. As luck would have it, she doesn't even complete her training period before they send her into the field, a traveling carnival in North America as matter of fact, which if she can survive the assignment will make it that much easier to get home alive and intact. But when it comes out that the carnival needs protecting,things get a lot more complicated.

I really enjoyed the story and starting to know Antimony but I feel like her voice is the weakest of the Price kids so far so I'm really hoping that changes in the future. Right now it seemed like she spent too much time being the whining youngest child who was trying to figure out where she fit into everything but that left her with little of herself to show through. Hearing about her through Verity, it seemed like she would be maybe not better or above that but definitely more of her own person than this tale gave us. I do look forward to more books from her point of view though.

Page count: 352p/9,129p ytd/283,532p lifetime

Thursday, June 15, 2017

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 3rd Quarter 2017

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.

I'm still falling behind on my reading goals for this year.  But then again, I feel like I'm behind with everything these days so I guess that's not a surprise.  I'm hoping to be able to find time to get more reading in this summer to maybe start gaining some ground on my To Read list. *crossing fingers*

Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price starts off the quarter.  I'm really happy that whatever caused the long break between books 3 and 4 seems to be resolved and we have a new one so soon.  I like the magic/Fae stuff in this world a lot so it's nice to be able to return.

Release Date - July 4

Two are coming out later in July. Buried Heart by Kate Elliot is the conclusion to the Court of Fives trilogy.  War is coming and Jessamy must try to bring the two sides of her country together to save those she loves.

Release Date - July 25

Also coming that day is Wildfire by Ilona Andrews, the third book in the Hidden Legacy series.  Book two was delayed and I haven't read it yet so I need to catch up on what is going on between Rogan and Nevada since it looks like things are getting more interesting between the two of them with this book.

Release Date - July 25

Only a week later and there are another two books out that are on my radar.  The Urban Enemies anthology collects stories from 17 authors including some of my faves like Seanan McGuire and Kelley Armstrong and lets them tell tales from one of their villains points of view. Since villains rarely see themselves as such, it should be interesting to see how each of these see themselves.

Release Date - August 1

I'm less excited about this one.  Ride the Storm by Karen Chance is the latest in the Cassie Palmer series and I just didn't enjoy the last one very much.  I feel like we are in some sort of static bubble where nothing really happens or changes with the plot or the characters. I've been hoping for the last couple of books to see things move forward and it looks like this might finally be doing that.  Here's hoping.

Release Date - August 1

Rituals by Kelley Armstrong is the final book in the Cainsville series which I have been really enjoying but am unfortunately a book behind in.  Need to hurry up and fix that because I'm dying to see how all this resolves!

Release Date - August 15

September starts off with what I'm sure will be a good laugh with White Trash Zombie Unchained by Diana Rowland.  These books have amazed me with the fact that they are so much fun but at the same time, the character growth and development is phenomenal!  Not what I would ever have expected from a zombie series, let alone one titled as White Trash Zombie.

Release Date - September 5

The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire finishes out the 3rd quarter and I can't wait to see what trouble Toby gets into this time.  With her mother demanding that she find her long lost sister, I mean really, what could possibly go wrong?

Release Date - September 5

Thursday, June 8, 2017

41:120 Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older

Carlos Delacruz knows that he works for the New York Council of the Dead taking care of their "problems".  That's about all he really knows since when he died but came back as an inbetweener, one who hovers somewhere between life and death, he lost all memory of who he had been before. Even his name was given to him by those who found him and helped him heal.  He always thought he was unique until the night he met another one on an errand for the Council. Now that one is dead by his hand and he has even more questions about his existence. Questions that might be answered on his current case but considering what he is dealing with, that might be a tall order.

First book in a fairly new series by an author that was nowhere on my radar until I saw this on a list of good urban fantasy series to read and since several series I enjoy were on the list, I figured I would likely enjoy the others.  This did not disappoint.  The world is intriguing and the characters engaging and I will be looking to get the other books in the series to see how it holds up.

Page count: 326p/8,777p ytd/283,180p lifetime

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

40:120 The Orange Cat and Other Cainsville Tales by Kelley Armstrong

Free collection if you pre-ordered the 4th book in the Cainsville series, Betrayals, and features three stories from that universe.

The Orange Cat - Gabriel has never had a client quite like this man.  He has come in and told Gabriel that he has tried to get rid of his cat many times and it always comes back. He is sure the last time, he lost his temper and broke the cat's neck but the next day it was back.  Now Gabriel grew up with time in Cainsville so he knows weird things can happen but this one may just be the one that stumps him.

Bad Publicity - Patrick has always made it a point in his writing career to make sure his contracts keep him from having to go out and do any kind of publicity since that is the last thing he wants. Unfortunately, he is ambushed by his new "publicist" who manages to find a loophole and that's when things take a turn from the mundane.

Lady of the Lake - Ricky and Liv decided to go on a vacation at the end of book 3 and this takes place during their motorcycle trip. They are up in Canada and find a lovely little lake to stop and refresh themselves. Of course they manage to find a portal and a water fae there. They escape and promise not to go back until they are begged by a young woman in the town where they are staying to help look for her missing baby and they realize they may just know where to find her.

A lovely collection of stories that help fill in and enrich the characters we know and enjoy but aren't necessarily needed for the main story but fulfill that desire to know more.

Page count: 164p/8,451p ytd/282,854p lifetime

Monday, May 29, 2017

39:120 All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

Tom Barren's 2016 is nothing like the one we currently live in. There, an unlimited supply of energy was created in the 1950s and led to a society where basic needs are always met and the only thing worth pursuing is entertainment. Now his father has created the ultimate entertainment device, a time machine but he didn't foresee all the problems that would arise when his disappointment of a son goes and mucks it all up.

But did he? Sure, he went back in time and kept the unlimited energy thing from ever happening but he is so much happier in this 2016. He has a better relationship with both his parents, a sister that did not exist in his 2016, and may have even found his soulmate.  Does he try to change things back to the way they were, the way he thinks they should be? Or does he enjoy what he has in this timeline?

That description of the book actually makes it sound interesting and so does every other description of it that I've read.  Too bad reality doesn't align with those. It read like three different books with the first book being dull and plodding and why would you even care about any of these characters? The second book got interesting. There was plot, there were interesting psychological questions being posed, the characters were more engaged (seriously, I want a book from his sister's pov after all the sh*t went down), and this is the book that I wanted to read.  The third book was just a rushed mishmash of gobbledegook that just did not work and made me want to throw things. There was no reason behind much of it in terms of the story I had been reading and enjoying and it just made me angry to have to leave that story for this one.  Honestly, save your time and money and avoid this.

Page count: 384p/8,251p ytd/282,690p lifetime

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

38:120 Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

The previously untold stories of the African-American female computers at NASA who helped to make space flight a reality during the era of segregation and Jim Crow laws.  It follows several women through the different paths their lives took to get to NASA and their experiences there including touching upon the discrimination they faced not only in work but in their every day lives and how they handled it.

This is a story that I wish I had read growing up because it is so inspiring!  There are times when it is a bit dry and there is a LOT of information on all sorts of things packed into it but really, so much more interesting than many of the history textbooks and a story that I'm so glad has finally been told!  I only first learned about it from hearing about the movie which I knew I had to see in theaters and take my whole family to.  The movie did speed things up a bit especially since it kept the focus more narrowed on just three women. There were liberties taken with the movie, mostly to show more of the prejudice of the time without moving away from the main story but for the most part, the movie did a good job but the book goes really indepth on so many things that it is well worth reading.

Page count: 373p/7,831p ytd/282,306p lifetime

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

37:120 Wings of Fire Legends: Darkstalker by Tui T. Sutherland

Taking place 2000 years before the War of the Sand Queens, we get the tale of Darkstalker and how he became the most feared dragon on Pyrrhia.  We see his parents meet and the obstacles they had to overcome to be together. We see him born under the light of a triple full-moon.  We see his love Clearsight always trying to find a better path for all of them and his friendship with the Seawing, Fathom, who is always trying to dissuade him from using his powers.  So what goes wrong with all these people who love and care about him in his life?  It's the sort of tale that has perplexed so many people throughout history looking back at those who have done monstrous acts so it's interesting to see such a deep issue dealt with in a children's fantasy novel.  I commend Ms. Sutherland for handling such a weighty and nuanced issue so well in such a setting and I'm interested to see how my son will react in a year or so when we study someone like Hitler in history if he will draw any parallels.

Page count: 400p/7,458p ytd/281,933p lifetime

Sunday, May 14, 2017

36:120 A History of US, Vol 6: War, Terrible War by Joy Hakim

Review from 2013:

Middle-school history focusing on the Civil War.  I still find her way of jumping around a bit disjointing but I think the presentation of the material worked better for this one than previous ones.  It allowed the horror of the war to be told but she broke it up with other information to keep it from being overwhelming for the intended age group.  There was a lot more information on the Generals and who they were both before and during the war which I think is good to show that none of these people were evil although the things that happen during a war certainly are but that they each thought they were trying to do the right thing for their side.  I found it to be fairly balanced over all with lots of good information.

Page count: 167p/7,058p ytd/281,533p lifetime

Saturday, May 13, 2017

35:120 Moon Shimmers by Yasmine Galenorn

Otherworld book 19 told by Camille.  Times they are changing. The summer solstice is almost upon them and that is when Camille will be leaving the home she has shared with her sisters since they came Earthside to become the Faerie Queen of Dusk and Twilight but before she can do that, she must find the Keraastar Diamond and fulfill her destiny to take control of the Keraastar Knights who will guard the Seals. However, the Diamond is well hidden and guarded in Otherworld so she will need her friends and loved ones to help her on this great task.  Having them with her means more than ever this time as she struggles internally against her fate knowing that she will do it but dreading the massive changes about to take place.

So there are only two more books left in the series at this point according to the author and it's easy to see that things are on the fast track to wrapping up now. Whereas earlier books would spend the entire book on one minor plot point that sometimes didn't even really figure much into the larger story arc, this one had several wrapping up in the space of less than 400 pages.  It was super fast paced although compared to earlier battles and adventures, these almost seemed over too quickly and super easy for the characters to get through which doesn't make a lot of sense if we are seeing end-game coming.  I like the fast pace and I love the world building but it just seemed at odds with previous books and so stuck out to me.  I'm thankful that the world of self-publishing is allowing Ms. Galenorn to complete the series since the publisher decided not to. It would have been a horrendous shame not to see this massive undertaking through to the end.  I'm now saddened that I have to wait another year for the next installment since she has a few other series she is kicking off right now but oh well, I guess I'll just have to check out all those series. :)

Page count: 342p/6,891p ytd/281,366p lifetime

Friday, May 12, 2017

34:120 Glencoe World History edited by Spielvogel

My review from 2014:

High School History from beginning of man through 2004 all crammed into one year of study, a-g university approved textbook.  My opinion, this is exactly why the majority of kids hate history and a good deal of what is wrong with our educational model.  We spend an entire year on the 350 years of "US History" but the exact same amount of time covering the entire world's history and even then, the second half of the book covers from WWI through present with a lot of US History in it (and there's a lot in the first section too).  I am doing Ancient World History with my middle-schooler as well and we took an entire year to get from beginning of planet through about 400CE.  That was lovely, interesting, informative, and thought-provoking.  This couldn't even be bothered to tell you that Henry the VIII had 6 wives and that it was his wanting a divorce from his first that led to the split with the church and the founding of the Church of England which is kind of a big deal for that country.  That is just one of the hundreds of issues I had with this book.  There was very little cause and effect going on and even less cultural appreciation or understanding.  It was names and dates with some dry, boring facts.  We can get that from the internet.  What we need is to teach our children the hows and whys and make it interesting for goodness sake!  I have a mild interest in history and this bored me to tears.  I homeschool and wish we had better options of high school history.  Why should the middle school grades get wonderful texts and the high school years be filled with things that suck the life and fun out of learning?

Yep, this book continued to suck all the fun and interesting bits out of history for me.  Blech!

Page count: 1,058p/6,549p ytd/281,024p lifetime

Thursday, May 11, 2017

33:120 Carry On by Seanan McGuire

Mary had saved and budgeted carefully for this airplane flight. Flying was so expensive but she couldn't afford the time off to see her sister any other way so this may be her last chance ever to mend these bridges that separated them.  She dieted for the last 6mos to get her weight down to the amount she had entered when she booked the flight but she was worried that even now, it wouldn't be enough and how would she afford the extra fees if she was over what she paid for.  The man in front of her was over and arguing with the TSA agent.  He wouldn't win and she didn't want to be in that position either but could she escape it?

A terrifying glimpse at what our future could hold where your airline tickets are based on how much weight you are bringing on the plane between yourself and your luggage. How there are scales right there where they weigh everything and then charge you exorbitant fees if you are over.  It's a future I can too easily see us coming to with the way things seem to be heading in favor of the corporations over the people all the time.  I do think that if it were to happen like this that other methods of travel may become more popular (heck, my family rarely flies for a trip because there are 6 of us and it's too dang expensive without something like this so we drive) but there will always be times when its needed and no one should have to go through an experience like this.  I only hope that this fiction stays as fiction and does not become our reality.

Page count: 13p/5,491p ytd/279,966p lifetime

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

32:120 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

The Aleuts came to the island and killed the chief, Karana's father, when he demanded the payment they promised him for hunting the otters. When the rest of the tribe attacked, almost all of the hunters were also killed so the oldest among them was chosen to lead them and so he went to seek help and brought back a ship to take their crippled tribe to a new home but Karana's brother went back and was left so she dove overboard in order to be with him thinking the ship would return shortly for them.

It didn't.

Now she must figure out how to survive on her own, especially with the wild dogs on the island after they kill her brother.  There are many dangers to prepare for including the return of the Aleuts and always watching for the return of the promised ship to take her away.

Based on a true story of a woman found on this island but who spoke a language no one else could understand, Scott O'Dell recreated one possible story of her life.  It was a lovely tale, with evocative imagery and beautiful language.

Page count: 177p/5,478p ytd/279,953p lifetime

Monday, May 8, 2017

31:120 Shore to Shore by Seanan McGuire

Duchess Dianda has come to shore in order to get Patrick to keep his promise of introducing her to ice cream.  It is the last thing in the world Patrick ever expected and with spring just beginning, ice cream may be a bit hard to find but sometimes the search is what matters most.

A lovely little tale where we get to continue seeing the relationship between Dianda and Patrick emerge and considering how vicious she can be, it's truly a sweet thing to see.

Page count: 15p/5,301p ytd/279,776p lifetime

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

30:120 Her Heart Never Came Down Again by Seanan McGuire

She waited so patiently for hours and hours, waiting to hear that contact had been restored with Annie's spaceship. Instead, days later she was in the lawyer's office hearing the reading of the will and being explicitly given the ugly unicorn statue she hated so much in order to smash it. Now why would Annie want her to do that? Why couldn't Annie have just stayed on Earth with her?

A short story about love and despair and hope. Adventure and wanderlust that leads hearts wanting. And how in the world does Seanan McGuire manage to have tears in my eyes with a short story? That does not happen easily or often and I can't remember another short story that managed it so well done to her.

Page count: 12p/5,286p ytd/279,761p lifetime

Monday, May 1, 2017

29:120 Tonight by Faye Larson

Keith is celebrating being dumped for the 100th time.  Well, maybe not celebrating so much as reconsidering his life choices.  Maybe he should travel and get more ideas for his writing?  Or maybe there are other new experiences to try? He's thought that the whole girl thing hasn't worked out so well, so maybe a man? But how to even go about that when he's not sure? And that's when his friend Derek gets involved.

A short, fairly predictable tale. Basic romance with little character development or depth, short and sweet. For the record, I know the author and was given a copy with no expectation of review or payment.

Page count: 100p/5,274p ytd/279,749p lifetime

28:120 Strangers Among Us edited by Susan Forest & Lucas K. Law

Nineteen stories that explore mental illness in many different aspects, both in SciFi/Fantasy and things that you could see today.  I bought the series because it had a story by Kelley Armstrong and I had a different idea of what the stories would be about.  While the stories were not what I was expecting, I found the stories intriguing and extremely well done.  They depicted that even those will mental illness of all types are worthy of love and respect, some of them in the stories even got it and those were definitely my favorites.

Page count: 368p/5,174p ytd/279,649p lifetime

Sunday, April 30, 2017

27:120 Threnody for Little Girl, with Tuna, at the End of the World by Seanan McGuire

She knew when the doorbell rang and she saw the postman there that Matthew was dead. But how do you mourn a fish, even a fish that everyone knows is the last tuna in the world and that you won the contest to name him so you did after your grandfather who taught you about the sea.  Still, he's a fish, even if he was the most famous fish in the world for a while.  So you buy a dress that is reminiscent of the dress you wore when you were 7 and you were chosen to name him and you go to the aquarium and pay your respects, to a fish.

A lament indeed to a world that could happen but also a warning if we heed it to protect the world we still have.

Page count: 14p/4,806p ytd/279,281p lifetime

Saturday, April 29, 2017

26:120 The Act of Hares by Seanan McGuire

Tybalt has been holding "court" at his sister's insistence but he really can see no reason for it since he chased out all his people years previously to protect them from the plague.  Now though, he has petitioners who wish to become part of his court in order to escape their previous liege and really what a is a king without subjects, even the more independent cat sidhe types.  Perhaps it is time for him to stop playing at being King and actually become one in more than name alone.

Another Tybalt story from his early days in London.  It has been wonderful learning of his history in these backstories and I'm glad we have the chance to read them.

Page count: 38p/4,792p ytd/279,267p lifetime

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

25:120 The Wedding Stipulation by Faye Larson

Kenneth thought it was odd that even though Bradley's father couldn't even be bothered to remember his name (even though he was III) he had received a call from his lawyer after his death.  When they meet up for coffee later, Kenneth receives an even bigger shock when Bradley tells him his inheritance is dependent upon him being married and would Kenneth do him the honor of being his husband.  While they've been best friends for years, doing almost everything together, romance had never been part of it and this seems like a paper marriage of convenience until it suddenly doesn't...

For a short story I thought Kenneth was nicely developed but felt that Bradley needed a bit more personality.  The plot was fairly straight forward and since this is a romance, there is explicit adult content. For the record, I know the author and was given a copy with no expectation of review or payment.

Page count: 66p/4,754p ytd/279,229p lifetime

24:120 Early Morning of the Living Dead by Faye Larson

Charlotte was not happy to get the call from her editor that morning after only a few hours of sleep but if Faith was in the hospital after being attacked by someone, there was no way Charlotte would let this interview Faith had worked so hard to secure go to waste.  That was how she ended up Downtown in Spencer's office trying to find ways to get the truth out of him regarding Cooper's disappearance when the riot started outside the building.  It was a strange riot though where several people had beaten a person and now seemed to be...eating him?  And that is a how a zombie apocalypse in the South Bay can start. So quick. So simple. So ready to spread.

I'm wondering if this will be the start of an actual series as it does a pretty typical start of the zombie apocalypse story but ends with the potential for a cure in the room.  If it doesn't, it would be a shame as the characters were just getting interesting at the end and I felt like the story was just really starting.  (For the record, I know the author and was given a copy of this to read not necessarily review and am not receiving payment of any kind.)  There were a few places were some extra editing would have been good.

Page count: 158p/4,688p ytd/279,163p liftime

Thursday, April 13, 2017

23:120 In the Before, When Legends Were True by Seanan McGuire

Let me tell you a story of a time of the parents of my parents, a story from long before when the Legends were True. Let me tell you a story of a time when I wondered and found a living Legend and how we should treat them with reverence thanks to the land that they have left us, the People.

The 6th patreon short story, it is a stand-alone, set in a time far from now when the Earth is still healing.  While not super depressing, it is definitely not a cheery story either but still wonderful written.

Page count: 9p/4,530p ytd/279,005p lifetime

Sunday, April 9, 2017

22:120 Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher

A collection of three short novellas that take place throughout the Dresden Files series.  Harry is called out to the forest by Rivers Shoulders at three different points to help Irwin, Rivers Shoulders' son.  "B is for Bigfoot" sees Irwin in middle-school being bullied but these aren't just ordinary bullies and Harry needs to do some talking to keep things from escalating badly.  "I Was a Teenage Bigfoot" means that Irwin is now in a private high school but he has all of a sudden been struck with illness for the first time in his life.  The doctors think it's mono but when Rivers Shoulders sends Harry out, he finds that there is something draining his life force and it's definitely not mono.  Lastly, "Bigfoot on Campus" has Irwin in college and having found happiness with a beautiful girl until the girl's vampiric nature comes to the fore.  Good think Harry knows a thing or two about vampires.

In all, it was a fun collection and I enjoyed returning to Harry's world.

Page count: 136p/4,521p ytd/278,996p lifetime

Saturday, April 1, 2017

21:120 Unraveled by Jennifer Estep

15th book in the Elemental Assassin series.  Finn still has questions about what happened with his mother so when he suddenly finds himself inheriting her Wild West theme park and hotel, he's suspicious but it seems like too good an opportunity to pass up to possibly get some answers about her.  Gin is extremely suspicious but since she has hit nothing but dead ends in her search for information on The Circle, she agrees to go along.  Of course that means that Bria and Owen come along as well.  It doesn't take long before the real game has been sussed out by Gin and her friends and the deadly stakes are known.  Now Bria, Finn, and Owen have been drugged and kidnapped and Gin has just barely escaped with the help of an unexpected ally. She will need friends and allies if she wants to save them and live to fight another day.

A fun, quick read.  The basic plot was pretty standard for the series and not much headway was made on the overarching Circle plot but there was a bit of expose of Gin's mother's past and much less of her usual repetitive drivel so that made for an overall better reading experience.

Page count: 373p/4,385p ytd/278,860p lifetime

Thursday, March 30, 2017

20:120 Batman: Court of Owls Vol.1 by Scott Synder, Greg Capullo, & Jonathan Glapion

The Court of Owls has been rumored and hinted at for as long as Gotham has been around.  Always a group that operates in the dark, controlling the underworld, but Batman has looked into it but never found any evidence until a string of brutal murders targeting Bruce Wayne and friends starts up. Now he is in the thick of things and it seems to have been following his family for generations but is this real or is he finally loosing his grip on reality?

I thought the story was intriguing.  My big hand up so often with comics is the artwork and in this case it was ok, except where it was supposed to be ugly because that fit with the story itself.  I was I had been more gripped by the whole thing but for whatever reason, I just wasn't.  I've been told by family members I need to keep going so I will hope the next one works better for me.

Page count: 176p/4,012p ytd/278,487p lifetime

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

19:120 The Lay of the Land by Seanan McGuire

What seems to always be the most likely way to get someone interested in someone else (at least from a story trope way)?  Yeah, have the father forbid the daughter to ever go near "that boy/man" ever again and then ground her.  So what does Jonathan Healy do when the Covenant member comes to town and his daughter, Alice, has stumbled into him already?  Yep.  And what does she do in response?  Of course!  She takes him over some cookies and offers to show him around the woods filled with incryptids.

Now we already know that Tom and Alice end up together since this backstory to the series but it's nice to see characters we don't really get to know in the series but who definitely have influenced the people we do follow.  I will say though, I wish Ms. McGuire had not used the boring old trope in this case.  It felt like a bit of a lefdown to go with something so obvious.

Page count: 32p/3,836p ytd/278,311p lifetime

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

18:120 My Last Name by Seanan McGuire

Verity and Dominic have finally meandered across the country to arrive at her parents' home but while the greeting could have been warmer, it was pretty much what you could have expected from her paranoid parents when she brought home a Covenant member.

Short and sweet tale about Dominic meeting the folks for the first time. No surprises at all although I would have thought she might have given them a bit more of a heads up beforehand considering how paranoid they are.  Saves on bullets you know.

Page count: 14p/3,804p ytd/278,279p lifetime

Sunday, March 26, 2017

17:120 Lorraine Hansberry: Award Winning Playwright and Civil Rights Activist by Susan Sinott

In 1959, in just her late 20s, Lorraine Hansberry was finally able to get the play out of her head and onto paper and A Raisin in the Sun was born.  It had been rattling around in her head for a while but once it found its time and place, it took off and took America with it.  Lorraine had grown up fairly middle-class in Chicago, or as middle-class as a black family was to be, to parents who were in at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.  She learned much watching them that did not truly germinate until she was a young woman and able to truly appreciate what they had done and what her generation still needed to do.  A Raisin in the Sun allowed her to start finding her outer voice although it seems a shame that so much of its message went askew at the time. It is a shame that she died so young with so much left to give to society.

I admit, before this year I had heard of this play but had never seen it or had any idea even what it was about.  I didn't know the name Lorraine Hansberry.  My 10th grader is doing theater and needed to do a biographical research paper so we decided to combine the assignments and do it on a playwright and Ms. Hansberry had been coming up a lot in the standards and his theater curriculum so I suggested her because I did not want to deal with yet another Shakespeare thing (don't get me wrong, I enjoy Shakespeare but researching him is so overdone and I wanted to learn about someone new).  He agreed and this book was the source of most of his information.  It was very informative, simply-written but engaging at the same time.  I'm definitely glad to have learned more about her.

Page count: 147p/3,790p ytd/278,265p lifetime

16:120 The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My original review from 2013:

A 40+yr old man returns to his hometown after many years away for a funeral and finds himself walking down memory lane.  Down a lane with the ocean at the end of it and memories long since repressed and forgotten about things that sound impossible but aren't really.  About monsters and madness, oceans and other worlds, love and loss.  For a while, he leaves the outside world behind and remembers it all.

This is such a quiet book that you don't even realize how much time has gone by until something suddenly snaps you back into reality and you look down to see how much of the book you have read except you haven't read it, you have been swallowed by it mind and soul.  You can't wait to steal a few more minutes to dive into it again only to find yourself emerging an hour later.  Not a long read by any means but I found myself reading it slowly to savor it.  It doesn't want to be rushed but rather wants to quietly unfurl and draw you in...and you want to let it.

Page count: 259p/3,643p ytd/278,118p lifetime

Friday, March 24, 2017

15:120 A History of US Vol. 5: Liberty for All? by Joy Hakim

Review from 2013:
The 5th book in her US history series for middle school.  Better than some of the others.  There was some interesting information in there setting things up for the Civil War and while I appreciated learning more about the authors and artists of that time, I'm not sure how much my son got out of that.  There were definitely parts that I felt could have moved more quickly but at the same time, I think it was good to show where the country was and all the things that went into creating the factions of North vs. South.  It wasn't just slavery although that was the main thing but the industry, life styles, and exploration that slavery enabled that many people did not want to lose as well.

Page count: 219p/3,384p ytd/277,859p lifetime

Thursday, March 23, 2017

14:120 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Brian is angry, so angry.  He knows the Secret that caused his parents' divorce and now he is stuck in a small, single-engine plane on his way to visit his father in Canada because they can no longer all live together. He is stewing about that when the pilot has a heart attack and the fight for survival in the Canadian wilderness starts with the plane crashing in the middle of nowhere, well off the flight path they were supposed to be on.  With the plane sunk in a lake and no supplies but his windbreaker, the hatchet his mother gave him as he left, and his very limited knowledge of survival skills, he must find shelter and food for who knows how long.

I have seen this book around but had never read it before but found a literature study unit for it and grabbed it for homeschooling and now is when my son decided we should read it.  I really enjoyed it as Brian was very easy to relate to.  He makes mistakes, he doesn't have a lot of survival skills, he has set-backs where he almost gives up but then pulls himself out of it.  He has some luck, both good and bad, but in all it's a huge learning experience for him and we get to share it.  I also appreciate that even after his rescue, he doesn't just return to how he was before but they mention some of the issues he has readjusting to regular life.  I think that's an important thing that so often gets left out so I was happy that this book didn't.

Page count: 186p/3,165p ytd/277,640p lifetime

Sunday, March 5, 2017

13:120 American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Three seemingly unrelated tales interwoven until they all wrap up together at the end.  You have the Monkey King who has trained and studied to be accepted into Heaven with the other Gods but is shut out because he is only a monkey. There is Danny, an all-American boy, who is continuously embarrassed every time his cousin Chen-Kee visits from China and behaves as the most horrific characterization of every horrible Chinese stereotype ever.  And then there is Jin Wang, a new student in a new school, trying to fit in with his all-American classmates and horrified when a boy from Taiwan starts at the school and wants to be friends with him because what will that do to his chances with the girl he is falling for?  All three main characters are dealing the fact that they are not happy in their own skin and looking for acceptance from outside is not working out so well for any of them.

My older son read this for his college comics class and recommended it to me.  It has won several awards and it's easy to see why.  The graphic novel format allows it to swing back and forth between the stories easily and conveys the thoughts much easier than I think the written word alone would have allowed for.  The interweaving of the stories was well done although a bit heavy handed at the end on the moral but since it's such an important one, it's easy to forgive.

Page count: 233p/2,979p ytd/277,454p lifteime

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 2nd Quarter 2017

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 I'm still massively behind in reading the new books that I keep buying.  Life has gotten so much busier although I'm not altogether sure how but I think it's been spending a lot more time with friends and now with our new dog there is a LOT of time spent outside walking her which is definitely not helping me get more reading done.  That doesn't mean that I'm not going to find time to start getting to some of these books that I post about. Thankfully there isn't a ton coming out this quarter so maybe I can start making a dent in the backlog.

Legend Has It by Elliot James is first up.  The fifth book in the Pax Arcana series.  I'm a book behind right now but this one definitely looks cool with the villain reading a magic book that is changing the world around him to match his fantasies.  Hmmm...

Release date: April 18

Next up is Snared by Jennifer Estep, book 16 in the Elemental Assassin series.  I've just started reading book 15 and it looks like the new long term plot line with the Circle will be continuing for a bit.

Release Date: April 25

Cold Reign by Faith Hunter kicks off the next month.  Again, I'm a book behind in the series *sigh* but this next one looks to be seriously a** kickin'.  Leo is under threat (again) but this time from revenants that should never have risen which means there is much more magical mojo going on than Jane has ever dealt with before.

Release date: May 2

The second book in the Hidden Legacy series, White Hot by Ilona Andrews, ended up being delayed a while so it's nice to see that not only is it coming out this year but the third will be coming out a few months after.  This is definitely a paranormal romance series but the world is intriguing and they are definitely working to have a reason for the characters to have a relationship which is something I definitely appreciate.

Release date: May 30

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire wraps up this quarter's new releases.  A follow-up to Every Heart a Doorway, this is the backstory of the twin girls, Jack and Jill, who found that love isn't always enough and choices can be tricky things.

Release date: June 13

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

12:120 Anthem by Ayn Rand

My review from 2014:
High School English.  I have a hard time writing up a synopsis of this one.  My understanding is that it's a typical, if short, example of Ayn Rand's basic philosophy that working together and community is the greatest evil ever perpetrated by man and that the ego and self are all important.  It's simplistic in style, propagandist crap and I wish it wasn't in our curriculum but at the same time, I think it's good for kids to be exposed to other points of view and how to analyze them so unfortunately that means I'll be reading it at least two more times.  *sigh*

So yeah, my opinion hasn't changed.  This is written from an extreme angle as propaganda and not well written at that. Instead, we are now seeing what extreme individualism mixed with corporate greed is bringing us and I am not a fan.  I have said before and will continue that any kind of extremism is going to be bad and I stand by that opinion.  Society and civilization depends on balance between many different forces in order to function well for all.

Page count: 92p/2,746p ytd/277,221p lifetime

Monday, February 27, 2017

11:120 Nutshell: A Novel by Ian McEwan

A retelling of Hamlet but told in modern times with the unborn Hamlet as the narrator.  Trudy is late into her third term and her lover and husband's brother, Claude, has convinced her they must kill John, her husband, so they can sell the family house and live in luxury together after the baby is born and sent away.  The baby describes all he hears and imagines he sees and tastes as the plot unfolds since he is privy to all their plans although powerless to do anything from inside the womb.

No, just absolutely freaking no!  I tried to like this book, I really did but there could be no suspension of disbelief for me and as we got further into it the more I screamed and raged at it until the birth scene when I actively wanted to start throwing things, many things, all the things because it was so freaking ridiculous.  I will grant that the prose is beautiful and would have been amazing from another narrator but as an unborn baby it just simply did not work for me in any way.  Basic biology was completely against all of it and there was nothing to help me get past it.  Would I read this author again?  Maybe. It would really depend upon the subject and especially, the narrator.

Page count: 208p/2,654p ytd/277,129p lifetime

Saturday, February 25, 2017

10:120 Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Felix has been cast aside.  No, not just cast aside! His place in the theater that he has worked so hard for, put all his dreams into, has been stolen from him by the one he thought he was mentoring.  Now he is an out-of-work director/actor with no prospects with his life in shambles as this came on the heels of the death of his young daughter.  So he goes into seclusion coming out only when a unique opportunity to ply his trade, as a teacher of a drama class for a correctional facility where he might be able to enact revenge on those that have wronged him.  Several years pass and the time is finally upon him and what play would he have his group put on but The Tempest, the one he was working on when he was thrown out.  What play could be more perfect?!

This is almost a retelling of The Tempest while still using the original play itself as a focal point.  The weaving of the two tales is wonderfully done and there is enough explanation that you can see the similarities even if you aren't familiar with the original Shakespeare play (and I only had a passing knowledge of it) but it doesn't seem heavy-handed and doesn't bog the story itself down.  I really enjoyed it and am now interested in seeing what some of the other authors in this series have done with their stories.

Page count: 324p/2,446p ytd/276,921p lifetime

Friday, February 17, 2017

9:120 A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

More money than the Younger family has ever imagined is due to come any day due to the passing of their patriarch.  Now the decisions of how to use it to their best advantage are being fought about with Mama wanting to use it as a down payment on a real house in a suburb and some for her daughter's college as she dreams to be a doctor but her son wants to use it all on to go in with friends for a liquor store.  His dreams and his vision of himself are as low as can be but things are about to change for the family...

A timeless story of a middle class family who struggles to make ends meet let alone try to better their situation for their children.  It's easy to understand their hopes and dreams and frustrations.  What can not be understated is the fact that this is a black family in Chicago during extreme racial segregation and prejudice. The thought of Benethea, becoming a doctor seems like a pipe dream to Walter Lee, the son. He is a chauffer for a well-to-do white man while Ruth, his wife, cleans houses and works in kitchens.  This play focuses really on Walter's despair at this place in life but in the end there is a glimmer of hope that we all need to keep going and you have to hope that things will turn out well for this family.

Page count: 151p/2,122p ytd/276,597p lifetime

Thursday, February 16, 2017

8:120 History of US, Vol 4: The New Nation by Joy Hakim

Previous review written in 2012 when I read it with son #3

I have to admit I learned more in this book than previous ones like the fact that there were presidents between Jackson and Lincoln.  I mean, I knew that in a logical sense because Jackson was number 7 and Lincoln was sixteenth but still, they actually had names.  Of course, she only gave one chapter to all 8 of them since they didn't seem to do much of anything.  Otherwise, it was still better than the first book or two as it seemed to flow better and the presentation was easier to follow.  I still dislike the gazillion side notes and extra articles that get stuck in tho.  I find them distracting and I know that Jon tends to gloss over them.  Sometimes you can as they aren't that important and sometimes they are really important.  Ugh!

Son#4 is enjoying this far more than the last one did which definitely makes it more enjoyable for me as a teacher when we can discuss in depth and it's not fighting over getting him to read any of it.

Page count: 199p/1,971p ytd/276,446p lifetime

Monday, February 6, 2017

7:120 The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner

Started in the 1920s as Bell Labs, the official research and development arm of AT&T, this book delves into the people that made this lab so effective.  This is the group that developed the transistor and lasers, digital and cellular telecommunications.  There aren't many factors of today's society that has not been impacted by their inventions.  But who were these people and why were they so successful in innovation?  That is the question that this books really looks into.

I read this for book club and wanted to like it.  I'm always interested in how people come up with brilliant ideas but the way the information was presented was dull and boring.  There were pieces that were interesting but it never sucked me in and it felt like it couldn't decide between trying to focus on the people that made it happen or the technology that they developed and so varied between the two which kept it from working well.

Page count: 432p/1,772p ytd/276,247p lifetime

Saturday, February 4, 2017

6:120 The Time and Space of Uncle Albert by Russell Stannard

Gedanken has a science project due for school so she goes to her Uncle Albert for help.  He informs her of an experiment he has been working on and this new thing he has discovered, a thought bubble, where experiments can be conducted that can't be done on Earth.  She agrees to go into the thought bubble to chase a light beam and try to catch one.  She can't but they do learn a few things from her first attempt and several more attempts are made as they discover strange things with each experiment.  She is finally able to complete her project which earns her a good grade.

In reality, Uncle Albert is Albert Einstein and this book is exploring his Special Theory of Relativity in an easier to understand way.  I'm definitely a fan of the way it was presented and have gotten the other books in the series for my youngest although I look forward to reading them as well.  A nice, gentle introduction to relativity for the young or old.

Page count: 120p/1,340p ytd/176,815p lifetime

5:120 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

1936, Flint, Michigan.

Bud, not Buddy, has been at the Home (orphanage) for about 4 years, ever since his mother died.  He has never known his father but in his suitcase that contains all his belongings there are fliers for Herman E. Calloway & the Dusky Devastators of the Depression.  When he is sent to a new foster home where the abuse starts immediately, he runs away and comes to the conclusion that Herman E. Calloway must be his father so he will find him.  Bud ends up in a Hooverville at one point and then gets lucky when Lefty Lewis picks him up on his way to Flint.  Lefty knows Herman and gets Bud there in a much easier way than it would have been for him to walk.  Herman is not at all the person Bud was imagining but life has more unexpected surprises in store for the young man.

I read this as part of a literature unit with my 5th grader having never read it before.  I found the story engaging and touching and my son read ahead constantly.  While the story itself is not a true story, many of the scenes and people were based on people in the author's life and the stories he heard growing up and this helps give it a ring of truth.

Page count: 243p ytd/1,220p/276,695p lifetime

Monday, January 30, 2017

4:120 The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Margaret Lea has lived a simple life working in her father's bookstore and living in the books that are there. She has done some biographical work on people she has found interesting through her readings but nothing that has prepared her for the letter she receives from one of the most elusive writers, Vida Winter.  Ms. Winter has spent her life coming up with stories, not only those she sells as novels but also revolving around her past.  Now she wants to come clean and have the truth be out there and she wants Margaret to be her biographer.  The story she has to tell though is just as fantastical as any tale she could have made up but as Margaret gets drawn deeper and deeper into it, she finds that there are even more secrets than she could have possibly imagined.

I read this for book club as it's not something I generally would have picked up but OMG, I was sucked in almost immediately by the language and then the story itself pulled me in and made it almost impossible to put down.  The twists and turns of the plot were very well done and always there were clues about them but so subtle that you might not even realize it until just before it's being revealed to Margaret.  I think this is one that I will need to reread at some point just so that now knowing, I can see all the lead-ups more clearly and watch the genius of it unfold from a new perspective.

Page count: 406p/977p ytd/276,452p lifetime