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

Monday, January 16, 2017

3:120 History of US, Vol 3: From Colonies to Country by Joy Hakim

Previous review:

The 3rd book in the History of Us series. This one covered the Revolutionary War and forming of the Constitution. I liked this one better than previous as it seemed to jump around less and we delved more into the people and their influences and what they were trying to accomplish rather than jumping time periods constantly and not knowing when we were.

I definitely do like the flow of this one better as it's more sequential in the telling with some backstory of individuals as they are introduced.  And as always, I enjoy reading the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights knowing what magnificent documents they are.


Page count: 224p/571p ytd/276,046p lifetime

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2:120 One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Dina has received a message that her sister is in trouble and without hesitation she goes to help.  Now besides Caledonia, her only permanent guest, and her chef, she now has her sister and her daughter staying at the Inn and Arland, the vampire whose help she requested, is also staying there and Sean is now hanging around more and more.  Gertrude Hunt, Dina's Inn, is feeling better with more people there but now a guest has come that brings with him danger unlike anything Dina and Gertrude Hunt have ever had to deal with.  It is one of the Hiru, a repulsive smelling being covered in metal armor of some sort.  Their race has been hunted almost to extinction by the Draziri and now there are but a handful left but that handful has saved up enough to find the answer to why the Draziri have done this but they need the sanctuary of Dina and her Inn to do so.  This is quite the tall order, even bigger than the peace conference they hosted but if she can bring them all through it alive, she may get the answer to her biggest question as well: "What happened to her parents?"  It's an answer that is worth the price.



Page count: 257p/347p ytd/275,822p lifetime

Monday, January 2, 2017

1:120 Zombie's Bite by Karen Chance

Dory feels like she has finally lucked out with this contract for a Vampire Senate.  It's taken her awhile but she has finally tracked down her mark to New Orleans but before she can get a fix on him, he's in her room and killing himself.  Now she has to figure out why and what is going on before his master finds her and kills her.  Things just got a lot less easy...

This takes place before the Dorina books.  I've found that I like her stories better than the Cassandra Palmer ones and this was no exception.  I just generally like Dory better and I hope that Ms. Chance plays more with her moving forward.


Page count: 90p/90p ytd/275,565p lifetime

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Recap and 2017 Goals

Well, for the first time in a long time I didn't make any of my reading goals last year.  It was a weird year for me and books.  First, there were some really long ones for the boys' school and those kind of slogged me down.  Second, there were a couple of trips that meant more family time but less reading.  Lastly, I'm not sure what happened over the summer but I think it had a lot to do with hanging out with friends who were in town and doing a lot of work around not only our house but also a friend's.  Add all of that together along with doing a lot of Pokewalking instead of reading while kids are at activities and it meant a real decrease in my reading.  I'm a bit bummed and I tried hard in the last couple of months to make it happen but with the holidays and my being in a bit of funk for personal reasons, well, it just didn't happen.  I did get in 109 out of 120 books read, 32 out of 40 new authors, and only 26,318p out of 40,000 so it's not like I didn't read anything and there were some great books in there so there is that.

The other metric I look at is where my to-read pile is.  Shelfari is no more so it's just looking at where my Goodreads list was now compared to a year ago.  Last year it actually went down for the first time and I started 2016 with just 1325 on my to-read list there.  This year, that number is up to 1351 but again, with the my reading down that's not horribly surprising.  My big goal with this is to just keep it from climbing too much. :)

My other goals stay the same.  120 books, 40 new authors, and I'm going to try for 40,000 pages again.  Not sure how this will go this year for many reasons but it's something to shoot for.