Tuesday, October 31, 2017

90:120 Tricks and Treats by Faye Larson

Will has been in a funk since breaking off his engagement when his best friend, Karloff, decides it's time to bring Will back into the land of the living with a pumpkin-spiced latte and the reminder that it's Will's favorite time of year, October.  Will and Karloff have been through so much together and people have long wondered about their relationship but tonight, Will is beginning to wonder himself. Karloff keeps looking at him in a strange way, well, really at his neck and their seems to be an off gleam in his eye.  Is it just Will's imagination or something else?

Not one of Ms. Larson's better offerings. The internal monologue was repetitive and overdone and didn't really add anything to the story and there really was nothing notable to either of the characters.  Usual disclaimer, I know the author and was given a copy of the story with no expectations.

Page count: 40p/17,615p ytd/288,744p lifetime

89:120 Heart of Straw by Seanan McGuire

The children are out in the costumes on a Halloween night, ready for the treats that have been promised but these three are full of doubts at the more grown-up choices they are having to make and wondering what to do when they find another child with his babysitter who comes along with them. Choices have consequences my dear children.

Delightfully spooky and eerie and nightmare fuel for all parents.

Page count: 8p/17,575p ytd/288,704p lifetime

Monday, October 30, 2017

88:120 From A to Z in the Book of Changes by Seanan McGuire

Ms. McGuire asked her Patreons for prompts for her Patreon stories. She decided she simply couldn't pick just one so picked one for each letter of the alphabet and came up with a paragraph or two (sometimes even more) of a little tale to go with that prompt.  It was cute and scary which seems just perfect for something coming from her.

Page count: 12p/17,567p ytd/288,699p lifetime

Sunday, October 29, 2017

87:120 The Wedding Pact by Faye Larson

Keith and Preston had made the pact back in high school as one of those stupid things kids do but neither of them really thought it would come to pass that they would both still be single at 40. The fact that Keith is straight and Preston gay is not an issue. The whole point is tax write-offs and platonic companionship. Someone to make dinner if Keith is running late (or at least order the delivery if Preston is super involved in his writing that day). Someone to ask how the other's day was. Stuff like that.  Keith's last break-up confirmed that his work is just too demanding and Preston's last break-up left him feeling shy and vulnerable about getting close to anyone ever again so it seems like a perfect situation...until that first kiss.

A fairly typical romance with Preston's ex being an interesting twist thrown in. On the whole, sweetly romantic with plenty of humor and with more depth to Preston than I anticipated (although Keith is pretty much just perfect boyfriend and nothing else). Usual disclaimer, I know the author and was given a copy of the story with no expectations.

Page count: 84p/17,555p ytd/288,687p lifetime

Friday, October 27, 2017

86:120 With Honest Trifles by Seanan McGuire

Another short story set in the past of the October Daye universe focusing on Tybalt's backstory.  Tybalt has discovered why his niece, Cailin, can not change to her cat form and the discovery has shaken him as he understands just how much danger it can mean for her if she is not fully trained to use this power that she has. Unfortunately, he knows of only person he can trust who could teach her and September, the sister of Simon and Sylvester, likely won't be pleased to see him but for his niece he will brave anything.

While I generally recommend reading these Patreon only stories in order because they really are telling Tybalt's story in chronological order, you really need to have read Instruments of Darkness for this one to make sense.  It was definitely interesting seeing other names from October's world making actual appearances.  I wonder if we will learn more about Simon and Sylvester in future stories.

Page count: 20p/17,471p ytd/288,603p lifetime

Thursday, October 26, 2017

85:120 ...But I'm Not Racist! Tools for Well-Meaning Whites by Kathy Obear

Dr. Obear has been working to be an agent for racial justice so it was quite the surprise when a person of color came up to her at a workshop and told her that something she said was racist. It hit home in a very personal way and she holed up, afraid to misspeak and be called out again. What happened then was a transformation in the way she approached her calling. Here, she teaches through personal examples how to open your heart and mind to being an agent for racial justice and how to approach it with more mindfulness. 

I admit, I have always been open about wanting racial justice but until the last couple of years I hadn't really thought about what that meant or how to go about affecting any change. Heck, it was only maybe two years ago that I did anything more than say I was color blind and raising my children that way.  I started waking up about that time to the suffering around me and the privilege to which I had and realized that I needed to do better, both as a person but also as a parent to educate my children to their own privilege and how we need to work to bring equality to all.  I'm still learning and I have so very much to learn but this was a helpful book and I appreciated it.  Much of it was geared towards how to facilitate racial justice in group environments which at the moment is not super relevant to me but is good to know.  A lot of it is techniques for how to engage, meaningfully and purposefully with those that are using racist language in the hopes of opening a dialogue for them to see the hurt they are causing. I found those things very helpful and plan to keep rereading some of those passages so I can learn to not be silent when it comes up.  I need to work harder to find my voice to say that these things are not right and I hope that the tools she has given here will help me to do so.

Page count: 118p/17,451p ytd/288,583p lifetime

Monday, October 23, 2017

84:120 Instruments of Darkness by Seanan McGuire

The year is 1711 and it's been two years since we checked in on Tybalt and his court. It hasn't grown much, which is fine by him, but his niece has still proven incapable of changing her shape to that of a cat which should be her birthright. It is time to get to the bottom of this and fix it once and for all and Tybalt is determined to do just that. Unfortunately, the answer is not the one that he seeks.

I love the Tybalt backstory we've been getting through the Patreon stories and this one may just be my favorite one yet. His caring and compassion are lovely especially when Cailin is trying to figure out why the other half of her family wants nothing to do with her and the hurt that causes her. 

Page count: 20p/17,333p ytd/288,465p lifetime

Sunday, October 22, 2017

83:120 Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher

Summer has spent all of her 11yrs of life under the thumb of her mother's love. It's not easy being so loved and she tries not to be resentful of it but some days she just wants to break out and do something just a teeny bit dangerous just to prove that she won't die from it. Then one day a strange house walks into the neighborhood on chicken legs and she meets Baba Yaga who, in a generous mood that day, promises to grant her heart's desire. Having been so sheltered, Summer has no idea what that might be so Baba Yaga sends her through a door that leads to another world called Orcus, a world that has a darkness lying at its heart. Here Summer finds a tree that should produce frogs but can't, a talking bird that is a dandy but has a good heart, a wolf that turns into a house when the sun goes down, a Forester with the heart of a dragon, and so many others.  Some help, some trick, some try to stop her but still she does not know her heart's desire so keeps looking for her way which may just lead her to Queen in Chains whose darkness is corrupting Orcus.

A lovely version of a fairy tale that has all the elements of whimsy you could wish for with fun surprises scattered throughout. It's a tale of growing up but also of learning and most of all, how important it is to just stop and listen.  I hadn't heard of T. Kingfisher before but apparently one of my book club ladies loves her and based on that, Seanan McGuire's Wayward children series was recommended.  After reading this, I can absolutely see why and I look forward to reading more by her in the future.

Page count: 268p/17,313p ytd/288,445p lifetime

Thursday, October 19, 2017

82:120 Bewitching Bedlam by Yasmine Galenorn

The first full novel in the Bewitching Bedlam series.  Maddie is working hard to get her B&B ready to open for business as she is also getting accustomed to her new life in Bedlam and her hot new vampire boyfriend, Aegis.  Unfortunately there are those that aren't so keen to see her succeed, the worst of which is Aegis's ex-girlfriend who can't stand the fact that he left her and moved on with his life. Then there is the owner of the other major B&B in town, Ralph Greyhoof.  The question is, who is behind the dead body found in her yard?

I have enjoyed all of Ms. Galenorn's work and this was no exception.  Her characters are lively and entertaining and believable. They have personal history, make mistakes, and sometimes have to learn the hardway.  I'm really looking forward to reading more in this series. I definitely think that going independent has been a very freeing move for Ms. Galenorn and while there are series I will miss her not being able to add to for a while, her new series seem like they will be very fun to follow.

Page count: 324p/17,045p ytd/288,177p lifetime

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

81:120 Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

Life was simple for Jay Berry growing up in rural Oklahoma back around the turn of the century. He helped with the farm and when he wasn't needed, he went exploring in the wilderness.  Some days he would go to the store his grandparents own in town. Those are special times between a boy and his grandpa and there are usually treats to bring home to share with his sister. One early summer day though as he is wondering around in the bottoms he finds an animal that he has never seen before and one that doesn't seem to belong in the area.  As he recounts the details to his grandfather later that day, he finds out that it is indeed a monkey as he had suspected. A troupe had escaped when the circus train had derailed and now there is a reward for their capture. $2/ea for the little monkeys like what Jay Berry had seen but $100 for the special one.  Jay Berry has had his heart set on a rifle and a pony and this seems like the answer to his dream. But capturing monkeys is so much harder than Jay Berry had ever imagined and his dream could fall away before it's ever realized.

A simple story about a more innocent time (cliche but true), a boy and his dream but also about his growing up and maturing a little bit as well.  Well written, humorous to keep it from being too heavy handed (although as an adult it was pretty easy to see how it was going to turn out) and poignant too. I will admit, I bought it for my now 16yr old who loved monkeys because I had seen it on many children's classics lists but really had no idea what it was all about but thought he would enjoy it.  He never read it and I don't think he would have really enjoyed it if he had because it was definitely not the book I thought it would have been, especially with the cover our copy has. 

Page count: 280p/16,721p ytd/287,853p lifetime

Saturday, October 7, 2017

80:120 The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

From when I read it five years ago with the now 16yr old:
Haven't read this one in a few years and am enjoying it as much as I always do.  I remember as a little girl wishing that I could find a magic wardrobe and be transported to a magical land and have those adventures.  What makes things special this time tho is again, sharing these stories with my 11yr old.  He has watched the movies but it's his first time reading the books and he's loving them as much as I do.  Definitely one of those books in one of those series where if you haven't read it....WHY NOT????  Stop looking at reviews and go read it already.  And if you have children, go read it to them as well.

Now I'm reading these again my new current 11yr old (and one of his friends) and it's still magical. They are fast, sweet reads but I pick up new little nuances each time and the current child points out different things and leads us into different discussions which makes each reading unique and special.  I still say if you haven't read them, you should, and if if you have kids you should definitely read it to them as well.

Page count: 189p/16,441p ytd/287,573p lifetime

79:120 Eight and a Half Lives by Faye Larson

Five years ago, Owen's fiance told him that it was ridiculous to get chemo for a cat. Today, Owen still has Gatsby and the fiance is history.  Owen has never regretted his decision. His days are filled with writing, petting Gatsby, zombie movie marathons (with Gatsby), eating (and feeding Gatsby).  He's feeling it's pretty perfect until the day when Gatsby gets out the window and causes Owen to meet his new neighbor, Jay. Jay and his fiance broke up when she got a job that required her to move to France. No hard feelings, just not the life that Jay wanted.  As they talk, it comes out that Jay loves zombie movies as well and now the zombie marathons are even more fun as Jay and Owen (with Gatsby's help) start going through all the zombie movies they can find and even start their own rating system for them.  Jay is smart, fun, loves Owen's books.  He is absolutely the perfect man, except he's straight.  Poor Owen.

This was a fun and cute tale of a growing friendship and how you never know what's around the corner (or who is moving next door to you).  Usual disclaimer, I know the author and was given a free copy of the book with no expectations.

Page count: 78p/16,252p ytd/287,384p lifetime

Friday, October 6, 2017

78:120 Buried Heart by Kate Elliott

The conclusion to the Court of Fives trilogy.  Jes and Kal are now fighting for their lives and the path that Effea will take going forward.  Jes still believes in Kal and her father but even if they can win and put Kal on the throne, what will that mean for Effeans going forward? Back to the way things have been, Commoners and Patrons?  It's looking more and more like Effea is ready to rise and if you are not with her, you are against her and there will be no mercy.

This was a fabulous conclusion to this tale although it did feel a bit too HEA with the ending but I am going to gloss over that.  I'm not a huge fan of tying everything up with a pretty bow at the end so it all works out for your main characters but at the same time, I'm also kind of in the mood for that at the moment.  The book was fast paced, the twists and turns fun and not always predictable, the characters relateable. In all, I definitely recommend the series.

Page count: 481p/16,174p ytd/287,306p lifetime

Sunday, October 1, 2017

77:120 The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time by Brooke Gladstone

Brooke Gladstone, an award winning journalist, runs a weekly show on NPR called On the Media which highlights how the media shapes our perceptions on reality.  There was an interesting point made early on that facts are facts but everyone's reality is different because it is based on your perceptions, what facts you have accepted (and what you have not), your personal history, and so much more that makes each of us unique.  We can all observe the exact same thing but it will be incorporated into our unique realities differently. And our reality does not like to change, it does not like to accept new facts that show that something else we believe to be real is actually false.  And this is where the trouble with our current reality in our country comes from.  Now is a time when we must try to find the ties that bring us closer together, have dialogues, and learn how to reach out of our own reality bubble, to break through it, and figure out how our reality coincides with that of others to form a reality formed in facts that we can agree to.  In the past, the basic facts and reality were not seriously in question and now everything seems to be.  Until we can agree on basic facts, we cannot come together as a nation or a world.  She talks about how easy it has been to manipulate people and compares much of what we have been going through using the lens of many different authors (I cringed a lot at her thoughts on Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World since my thoughts mirrored hers in many ways when I first read those books several years ago).  This was a tract and not a full book so it took less than 2hrs to read although I think I may go back and read it again in a few months to keep some of these thoughts more fresh in my head. 

Page count: 97p/15,693p ytd/286,825p lifetime

Friday, September 29, 2017

76:120 Snared by Jennifer Estep

The 16th book in the Elemental Assassin series.  Gin has finally found a member of the Circle from whom she might be able to get some information on the elusive group and it's leader but it hasn't been easy.  It's been preying on her mind but when Jade comes to her for a favor, she also can't say no.  She owes Jade and a missing girl in this town will probably not end well as they both know but Gin also knows how to deal out her own brand of justice. Following the trail of Jade's sister though, proves to be more elusive than The Spider anticipated and much more deadly as it appears she may be the latest victim of a new serial killer, one who now seems to have his sights set on Gin.

The constant inner monologue has gotten better but it's now been replaced with memory flashbacks that tie directly into whatever it is Gin needs to make the leap to solve the latest crisis which I feel is a lazy way of dealing with things rather than setting things up enough in advance that you know it was all well thought out and planned.  I still enjoy the world even if its fairly shallow because the characters are entertaining and I like their interactions with each other and there are books where there is less reliance on tired tropes. This just wasn't one of them.

Page count: 371p/15,596p ytd/286,728p lifetime

Sunday, September 24, 2017

75:120 The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

The 11th book in the October Daye series.  Things are going so well for October right now. The biggest worry she has right now is that someone will want her to join in the karaoke at her bachelorette party and drinking enough to stay mildly drunk with her metabolism so she doesn't go crazy.  Yeah, life is actually pretty great until she gets home and there is a knock on her door and when opened, it reveals the one person she really didn't want to see...her mother.  Amandine is not here to wish her daughter well on her upcoming matrimony though. Amandine wants to hire October to find her other daughter, August, who has been missing for 100 years.  To ensure her 'cooperation', Amandine captures Tybalt and Jazz and then forces them into their animal forms and into rose thorn cages.  To save them, October had not only better find August but she must do it before there is nothing left of their minds to save.

The biggest problem is that the trail is 100 years old, older than October, and she doesn't have the faintest idea where to start so she goes to Sylvester to ask the biggest favor of her life, for him to wake up his brother, Amandine's husband and August's father (and the one who turned October herself into a fish for 14yrs), Simon.  Now they are on the trail together to search out August who went looking for Oberon himself but she is on a path the Luidaeg set her, one that she sold her way home to get but which means she can't come home until she finds him and he does not want to be found which means even if October can find her, bringing her back to Amandine will be a much bigger problem than she can imagine.

This was a heartbreaking, gut wrenching story but so amazingly well done.  There were so many twists and turns along the way that while I was sure October would eventually succeed, I had no idea what the cost would be although I was sure there would be one.  What I most appreciate is that even through all the anguish, there are some light-hearted moments to keep you from sinking down too far.  My favorite happened during the opening bachelorette party where the Luidaeg performs "Poor Unfortunate Souls" during karaoke party. I literally snorted my tea over that one.

Now I have to wait for another year for the next one to see how people recover from this ordeal.  It will seem like an eternity!

Page count: 354p/15,225p ytd/286,357p lifetime

Friday, September 22, 2017

74:120 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Salamanca Tree Hiddle does not understand why her mother left her and her dad, only that something has happened and she isn't coming back and now her father has moved them away from the farm and the only life she has ever known and that she loves to the suburbs where her entire life has been turned upside down.  The first person her dad introduces her to is Mrs. Cadaver who Sal finds strange and does not understand why her dad wants to spend so much time with her. Then she meets Phoebe who lives on her block and is in her classes at the new school.  Phoebe's family seems like the perfect middle class family...until her mom disappears one day. It brings everything Sal has gone through flooding back.  Now she is on a roadtrip with her grandparents, following the path her mother took to Idaho and with so many miles ahead of them, she starts telling them Phoebe's story not realizing that she is telling her own story at the same time.

A poignant story about a girl trying to come to term's with the loss of her mother and upheaval of her entire life.  There is love and loss, friendship and family, basically life.  One of my older kids had read it years ago so it was hanging around and I've been trying to read new authors so figured I'd give it a try.  It was ok. The plot and writing were simple and straightforward with no major surprises.

Page count: 280p/14,871p ytd/286,003p lifetime

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

73:120 House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Set in a future where Mexico has given over a stretch of land that separates them from the US to the drug dealers, a land now called Opium and ruled mostly by the House of the Scorpion, the house of El Patron.  Matteo has led a sheltered life in the little house in the poppy fields with his caregiver Celia. She has told him that he must always stay in the house when she is not home and not let anyone see him but one day when he was 6, heard the voices of children outside and couldn't stand it any longer so he showed himself to them. Next thing he knows, he is taken to the main house and everything changes.  He finds out that he is a clone of El Patron, the head of the family, but that clones have no status and are generally despised. He is luckier than most in that he has the special favor of El Patron who eventually comes to his rescue and demands that he be given an education and treated at least civilly. It doesn't completely matter as the household, except Celia and his bodyguard Tam Lin, decide that ignoring him will do well enough although there is one son, Tom, who torments Matt as he torments everyone else and there is a cousin, Maria, who does actually want to be his friend but thinks of him as more of a pet than a person.  What makes matters worse is when he learns that most clones are lobotomized upon birth as their only function is to serve as a source of organ donation for their original.  That was to be Matt's fate but that was before Ceclia and Tam Lin came up with another plan for him.

While Matt is definitely the "hero", there are times as he is growing that you can see the person El Patron is now trying to take root in Matt but you can see the struggle that Celia and Tam Lin are going through to try and mold Matt into a different person than the horrible head of the family.  This is his journey, to choose what kind of person he wants to be, the DNA does not have to dictate who he will be.

I hadn't even heard of this book prior to seeing this in my 11th graders English class where we are studying the Hero's journey.  I really enjoyed the story and can see why it has won and been nominated for so many awards. It is well written, the world and characters are rich and complex, and the plot gripping.

Page count: 400p/14,591p ytd/285,723p lifetime

72:120 Shadow Memory by F Larson

Brandon has had periods where he couldn't stand his father but those are over now. Unfortunately, the timing could have (should have) been better. His father has dementia and is slowly slipping away.  Brandon has been trying to get together and have lunch with him but it's hard when his father doesn't remember how old he is or what has been going on in his life half the time.  As hard as it's been to watch his father deteriorating in front of him, it's even harder to consider that this could happen to him.  His thoughts keep turning back to his stepmother and how she has held up and how this could be his Terry.

This is one of the best pieces I've read by this author.  While a short story, it was poignant, heart felt, and emotionally charged. It was so easy to feel for Brandon since any one of us could find ourselves in that position so easily.  I'm a bit bummed that the author chose to take this down for now as it didn't mesh well with her other work. It's understandable but I hope that she chooses to release it again at some point.  For the record, I know the author but my review was based solely on my opinions of the work in question.

Page count: 28p/14,191p ytd/285,323p lifetime

Monday, September 18, 2017

71:120 History of US Vol.8: Reconstructing America 1865-1890 by Joy Hakim

Last read 4 years ago.  Here's my review from that time:

Middle-School US History.  Deals with the time following the Civil War but not just the Reconstruction of the South but also what was happening in the west, the strides in innovation and inventions, woman's rights, the start of the temperance movement, the rising racism against the Chinese as well as the blacks.  It was nice to hear more about the country during that time than just what was going on in the South which seems to be the more typical way of presenting that time period.

I have to say that so much more of it resonates with me now than it did then as we are seeing white supremacy on the rise and I'm learning so much more about white privilege. I do think that we will continue to get closer to a more equal and just society but we need to take note of our past and learn from it as we strive for that society.

Page count: 199p/14,191p ytd/285,295p lifetime

Thursday, September 14, 2017

70:120 Batman: City of Owls Vol. 2 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, James Tynion IV, Rafael Albuquerque, and Jason Fabok

The conclusion of the City of Owls storyline. Batman must try to figure out what links the Court of Owls, Andrew Lincoln, and his family's past have if he wants to survive this most deadly game.

Also included are some other stories featuring the secrets that the Pennyworth family keeps for the Waynes and more about Dr. Freeze and his past with the Wayne family.

In all, the stories were good and engaging but pretty standard comic book fare, no real surprises.

Page count: 208p/13,992p ytd/285,096p lifetime

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