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