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bluesalamanders 2012.1

This topic was continued by bluesalamanders 2012.2.

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Edited: Jan 1, 2012, 3:21pm Top

2007, 2008, 2009
2010, 2011.1, 2011.2

Based on the past few years, here are my goals for 2012:

Total books: 150
Pages: 30000 (and some amount of audiobooks)
New books: 75
Non-fiction: 5

Numbers subject to change without notice, management makes no guarantees, etc, etc.

I mainly read science fiction and fantasy of all kinds, including a lot of young adult books, with a handful of straight fiction and very little non-fiction (5 is still a hopeful estimate, oddly most of my non-fiction are ERs).

*Asterisks denote new-to-me reads
^Carrots denote non-fiction


Dec 26, 2011, 10:37am Top

I rarely read Young adult books until I came to LT. I agree with you that are some great ones that need greater exposure.

Enjoy your reading in 2012!

Dec 26, 2011, 12:03pm Top

Welcome back!

Dec 26, 2011, 4:43pm Top

I'm partial to fantasy myself but like to mix it up with young adult now and again, so I've decided I'd like to watch your thread :) Looking forward to seeing your reading year

Dec 26, 2011, 6:53pm Top

2 cyderry - There are definitely tons of fantastic YA out there!

3 newt - Thanks! And thank you for keeping this group going, it's a great space.

4 Kassilem - Welcome aboard :)

Dec 27, 2011, 8:28pm Top

I also like sci-fi/fantasy/YA, so I've starred your thread! Looking forward to your reads :)

Dec 27, 2011, 8:55pm Top

Just dropping in to say hello!

Dec 29, 2011, 4:53pm Top

Glad to see you back with us again, Blue!

Dec 31, 2011, 1:18pm Top

Welcome back! Looks like our reading tastes are similar so I've got you starred :-)

Dec 31, 2011, 1:43pm Top

Blue!! Happy New Year!

I have you starred.

Dec 31, 2011, 2:22pm Top

Thank you, alcottacre!

archerygirl - Thanks! I don't usually announce it, but I've got you starred as well. I agree, we do have similar tastes, and I look forward to seeing what you read next (this?) year.

Georgia - Happy New Year! I also have you starred, of course :)

Dec 31, 2011, 3:13pm Top

#11> I've got another 8 hours of 2011 to get through :-) But I'm hoping 2012 brings us all amazing reads!

Dec 31, 2011, 3:17pm Top

12 archerygirl - I have a few more hours, too, but it's one of those weird in-between times that language seems a little inadequate for.

Jan 1, 2012, 2:53pm Top

Happy New Year, Blue! Looking forward to more great recommendations.

Edited: Jan 1, 2012, 3:19pm Top

Finished Book 1: ^*Packing For Mars by Mary Roach, read by Sandra Burr
Adult, Non-Fiction, Audiobook, 10h24m

A history of the space program. But not the pretty, heroic version we're used to.

I was expecting what it said on the tin: a book about what you need to take on a manned mission to Mars. Except, as it turns out, we don't know what you need to take. After decades of spaceflight, there are still problems we don't even have the right questions for yet, much less the right answers (and with the recent budget cuts, those answers are going to be harder to find, as Roach reminds us several times).

This book was fascinating, hilarious, and disgusting - sometimes all at once. Generally not a good idea to listen to it while eating. Definitely worth listening to at any other time.

Jan 1, 2012, 3:27pm Top

Dropping in to say Happy New Year, blue!

Jan 1, 2012, 11:52pm Top

Blue - hi there ... Have to say I agree with you about packing for mars being something to avoid during lunch. Mary Roach is one of my favorite non-fiction writers. Her sense of humor manages to make rather edgy topics quite understandable and interesting. Hope you enjoy your 2012 reading.

Jan 2, 2012, 6:46am Top

I enjoy Mary Roach too, Blue. Have you read her Stiff yet? If not, I recommend it!

Jan 2, 2012, 9:30am Top

17 tututhefirst - Yeah, it's what my sister told me when she recommended it. I did listen to it while I was making dinner a couple times, and I had to skip past some of the more icky bits, I admit. It was definitely very funny, though.

18 alcottacre - I haven't read anything else by her. I'm not sure I'm read for another book like that, though. As much as I enjoyed Packing For Mars, it was definitely beyond my grossness threshold at times.

Jan 2, 2012, 10:10am Top

#19: If Packing for Mars exceeded the grossness threshold at times, I take back my recommendation of Stiff :)

Jan 2, 2012, 10:10am Top

Great success with a new book finished for the new year's beginning! Go, Bluesally!

Jan 2, 2012, 10:17am Top

20 alcottacre - Hehe I kind of thought so!

21 maggie - Thanks! I actually listened to most of it on the train back from Michigan, but I did listen to the last hour or so on Sunday, so, hey :)

Jan 3, 2012, 11:28pm Top

Finished Book 2: *Heirs of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights, book 1
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 217p

Leia and Han's twins are studying at Luke's Jedi Academy on Yavin 4. They make new friends - and discover old enemies.

This was a light, quick read. The characters are surprisingly well-drawn and the plot is straightforward enough that it doesn't hinder that, nor is it bogged down by how many main characters there are. Everything is a bit too pat at the end, but honestly, one only expects so much from tie-in novels. The story is fun, the movie characters are recognizable, everything seems to fit the universe. I won't read it again, but it was a pleasant way to spend an evening.

2 / 150 books. 1% done.
2 / 75 *new books. 2% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
217 / 30000 pages. 1% done.
Audiobooks: 10h24m

Jan 5, 2012, 8:59am Top

Finished Book 3: *Return to Ord Mantell by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights, book 12
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 215p

Han's past catches up with him and puts Han and his children in a dangerous situation.

This book is too short for the story in it to be properly fleshed out, which leaves the minor characters flat and unrealistic and the climax, because it hinges on those characters, is abbreviated and completely unbelievable.

The writing is adequate and the first half of the story is more entertaining. Definitely will not read again.

Jan 5, 2012, 9:02am Top

I haven't read any Mary Roach yet, but she's been on my list for several years now. Maybe this will be the year?!

I didn't realize there were YA Star Wars novels. I do read Star Wars novels, but I'm a bit picky about making sure I read from specific segments of the canonical timeline before moving on to others... I wonder, do they have a separate timeline for the YA novels that shows where they fit in (aside from the obviousness in the summaries)?

Jan 5, 2012, 9:16am Top

Packing for Mars is all the rage these days (and deservedly so). I've also seen recommendations for Stiff, but I don't think my stomach could handle it.

I don't know anything about the Star Wars timelines. Generally I only read Timothy Zahn's Star Wars books, but my sister gave these to me as a sort of gag gift.

Jan 5, 2012, 7:46pm Top

I hope your next read is better for you, Blue!

Jan 5, 2012, 8:28pm Top

27 alcottacre - It wasn't terrible, it was just sort of blah. I'm reading a Steampunk anthology edited by the Vandermeers now. The writing is certainly better, but I don't know if I actually like it any better yet. I have about a 50/50 success rate with steampunk.

Jan 5, 2012, 10:08pm Top

#28: One of these days I am going to get hold of that book. I really enjoy steampunk and am currently reading a different anthology.

Jan 6, 2012, 10:34pm Top

29 alcottacre - I got it as a gift for my birthday a year or two ago. Thus far I'm not impressed, but I'm only one story in...

Jan 7, 2012, 1:48am Top

#30: Yeah, the big problem with anthologies is that the quality is uneven. I hope the book improves for you!

Jan 9, 2012, 7:27pm Top

hi there! i'm doing the 75 challenge for the first time this year (i've done others in past years), and i thought i'd drop in an say i was following your thread. i think we might have similar reading tastes, so it should be fun. happy reading!

Jan 9, 2012, 11:04pm Top

Thanks! This is my second year doing 75 Books, although I've done other challenges in the past. This is a really friendly (and active!) group, which is why I finally joined. Welcome!

Edited: Jan 11, 2012, 2:08pm Top

So yesterday I saw John Green (and Hank and Katherine and about 400 other nerdfighters) and got my copy of The Fault In Our Stars. I also got my copies of Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska signed and as well as my sister's copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

I'm not kidding about there being 400+ people there - the event started at 7pm, Hank sang and John talked and they both answered questions for a while, then they signed stuff for over 4 hours. I know this because I got my books signed around 12:30.

I think John is the rock star of the YA author world. People screamed when he came out on stage and applauded and cheered everything he and Hank did. It was pretty awesome, actually.

Jan 11, 2012, 7:37pm Top

Finished Book 4: *The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Young Adult, Fiction, 313p

There are so many different ways to describe this book. It's a love story. It's about teenagers with cancer. It's about the different ways people leave a mark on the world. It's about different ways to be a hero.

The Fault In Our Stars is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. There were many times while reading it that I laughed out loud, and (even though I suspected from page one what was going to happen) there were several times that I just sat there and cried. The writing is excellent and the characters - especially Hazel and Augustus - are amazing.

It is such an emotional book that I'm not sure when I'll read it again, but I highly, highly recommend it.

Jan 12, 2012, 8:58am Top

Finished Book 5: *Dracula in London edited by P. N. Elrod
Adult, Fantasy, 257p

An anthology of short stories about, as the title says, Dracula in London.

There is an interesting variety here, in the perspective the story is written from, in ideas about Dracula, and in who he interacts with. Van Helsing shows up several times, and Lucy, Nikola Tesla appears too, as well as Bram Stoker himself. Throughout these stories, Dracula is cruel, kind, seductive, insane, and imaginary.

Dracula in London is easily one of the most consistent anthologies I've read recently when it comes to the quality and enjoyability of the stories.

5 / 150 books. 3% done.
5 / 75 *new books. 7% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
1002 / 30000 pages. 3% done.
Audiobooks: 10h24m

Jan 12, 2012, 9:24pm Top

Oh, I am so jealous right now. Several years ago, I heard John Green speak, but it was at a teen literature conference and I had no idea who he was -- I picked up one of his books, but I don't think I even got it signed -- and then after I started reading him, I was so sad that I had messed up that opportunity. He was a great speaker, though. Awesome that you got books signed and got to participate in such a great event!

Edited: Jan 12, 2012, 9:31pm Top

It was great! I'd definitely jump at the chance to see him speak again, he's astonishingly good at it for an introvert with social anxiety.

There are a lot of signed copies of The Fault In Our Stars still floating around - he signed a huge chunk of the first printing. I just ordered one for my sister from the Wellesley Booksmith. It wouldn't be personalized, of course, but as a bonus it might also be doodled in by his brother Hank and/or his wife.

Jan 12, 2012, 9:33pm Top

Oooh. Must look into that. But not until February. I'm not supposed to be buying books! Oh, the temptation! :)

Jan 13, 2012, 2:31pm Top

Oh wow I so wish John would tour in the UK because I would probably kill to see him and Hank. I got my copy of The Fault in our Stars on Wednesday but thanks to the incompetence of Amazon UK it was an unsigned first edition.
But I whole-heartedly agree with everything you said in your review, it is John's best book so far and I adored every second I spent reading it.

Jan 13, 2012, 4:58pm Top

>36 bluesalamanders:: Ooh, good news about Dracula in London! I'm always hesitant to pick up anthologies for that very reason... inconsistent quality throughout... but this one sounds worthwhile. On the list it goes!

Edited: Jan 13, 2012, 7:47pm Top

40 LadyViolet -Did you pre-order it? John said something in one of his videos about what to do if you got an unsigned pre-order...it's here, at 1:40.

There are some authors that live in the UK that I feel the same way about (Robin McKinley, Diane Duane...). So believe me when I say I know how you feel.

41 dk_phoenix - There were a couple stories I didn't love, but considering how many stories there are, that comes to about 90% Good Stuff. Which is an unusually high rate of Good Stuff in an anthology! I used to love f/sf anthologies but as time as passed, I realize I've become much pickier about them and much more willing to, for instance, skip a story that I don't enjoy after a page or two.

Jan 14, 2012, 11:29am Top

42 - Yes I pre-ordered last August so I was rather narked about Amazon being idiots. I'm gonna send an email in a min probably although I feel awfully sorry for John if he's got to sign several thousand bookplates for the unfortunate UK folk who got unsigned copies, it'll be vair pricy to get them all sent.

Edited: Jan 14, 2012, 7:25pm Top

43 LadyViolet - I don't know how he's planning to handle it exactly, but the deal was that all pre-orders were supposed to be signed copies, so if the bookstores messed it up, on their heads be it.

Jan 15, 2012, 7:53am Top

>44 bluesalamanders: I think the plan is to send signed bookplates since I think it's mainly Amazon UK that have sent unsigned copies because evidently they've not known about the whole pre-order deal. I haven't actually seen a copy of it in a bookstore here yet because it's technically a US publication and it's only some of the larger stores that buy in imports but it would be interesting to see if they had signed copies or not.

Jan 15, 2012, 8:04am Top

45 LadyViolet - I see. Well, at least you'll get something? I wonder what happened to all those signed books that didn't get sent where they were supposed to.

Edited: Jan 15, 2012, 6:50pm Top

Abandoned Book: The Warded Man by Peter Brett

I got a third of the way into it, but I'm done. I feel a little bad giving up on this one, because it was a SantaThing book, but I have to be honest, I just didn't like it. I'm not a big fan of this sort of epic fantasy to begin with (you know, chapter 1: introduction to Main Character 1, chapter 2, intro to Main Character 2, etc) and then not only is the world Brett has created terribly misogynistic, but everything is about sex. Arlen runs away because of sex, Leesha runs away because of sex, even Rojer (or at least, his family) gets in trouble because of sex. It seems like all most of the characters ever talk or think about. There are demons on their doorsteps and instead of trying to learn how to better defend against them or fight them, it's sex, sex, sex.

(And lest anyone thing I simply have a problem with any sex in a fantasy story, I quite enjoy the Parasol Protectorate series.)

Then when we get to a "Free City", and learn that there any woman who has children is called "Mother" and respected and powerful, and any woman who doesn't have children is called "Daughter" and pitied. Seriously?

The only good thing I can say is that most of the sex is consensual and rape isn't glorified. At least that puts it above A Game of Thrones.

ETA: To bypass the discussion/disagreement about A Game of Thrones and pedophilia, feel free to jump to message 54. If you do read the discussion, please don't add to it.

Edited: Jan 15, 2012, 12:03pm Top

Blue, I hesitate to respond to your comment about A Game of Thrones but I think we've read each others postings often enough so that you will know I am not just picking an argument. I don't think George R.R. Martin glorified rape and in fact I think he worked hard to depict conditions as they might have been in male dominated medieval or nomadic societies. I found that I liked his series because he obviously had done so much research into what historical societies might have been. He included a good deal of joyful sex as well as the brutalities.

There is a difference between what an author actually thinks and what he/she might write in a book set in a different time and place, plus adding in the factor of fantasy.

I hate putting down books, too, but I completely get when a book just does not grab a hold of your interest and provides no enjoyment. I just gave up on The Lies of Locke Lamora for similar reasons.

Edited: Jan 15, 2012, 12:51pm Top

First I want to point out that I didn't say anything about what either author thought. I only commented on the books.

Second...it's been a long time since I read A Game of Thrones and whatever the second book is called, so I there's a lot that I don't remember. I do remember it being utterly miserable and I have no idea why I finished the first book, much less the second. For the reasons why I said what I said in that review (and stand by it), see this blog post (not by me).

Jan 15, 2012, 1:41pm Top

My goodness, I could not read that blog. Such ranting. Such ravings. If I refused to read any book which included murder (which I despise) and theft (which I declare WRONG) and sexism (obviously not something I would support) and racism (which I have spent my entire professional career opposing and fighting), I don't think I'd have a great deal of interesting fiction to read.

Racism - Cry the Beloved Country and To Kill a Mockinbird both include racism and I am pretty sure neither author has been accused of being "creepy".

Ok, that's my point of view. Briefly.

Jan 15, 2012, 2:04pm Top

She never said that she wouldn't read a book that included murder, sexism, or racism. Nor did I. She's not talking in general terms in that post - it is specifically about A Song of Ice and Fire. I suppose I can see how her blogging style wouldn't appeal to everyone, so to summarize the summary of her post:

She read the first four books, which had 6 female main characters, half of whom are literally children. Of those 6 characters, 5 are abused, raped, molested, or threatened with some or all of those. The 6th was killed.

Adult women in power are killed or imprisoned, although a female child in a position of power is neither killed nor imprisoned but plays out just about every possible Mighty Whitey scenario.

Many of the supposedly sympathetic male characters are the rapists, molesters, and abusers, including the popular Tyrion Lannister who has apparently "participated in the gang-rape of his first wife, gotten boners for his 13-year-old second wife, and strangled his favorite prostitute for bad behavior".

Also, "here are the things that GRRM changed about Ye Olde Medieval Europe, when he set out to write A Song of Ice and Fire: Religion. Geography. History. Politics. Zombies. Werewolves. Dragons. At one point, when asked why his characters were taller, healthier, and longer-lived than actual Medieval people, George R. R. Martin explained that human genetics and biology do not work the same way in Westeros as they do in the real world. So George R. R. Martin considered that he could change all of that while maintaining “authenticity.” Here’s what he left in, however: Institutionalized pedophilia. "

Jan 15, 2012, 4:54pm Top

I'm not getting involved into the debate about the series as a whole, or meaning to lessen the disgusting, despicable act of paedophilia.

However, I am interested in the nature of society and it's role in paedophilia. Of course, it is not possible, but if it were I would be fascinated to learn the average age of a woman having her first child in the thousands of years prior to documentation. My own basic instinct states that after a girl's first couple of menstruations, she would be considered fertile, and therefore ready to take a mate. Even if girls started their periods later in earlier times, because of poor nutrition etc, it would still put them at 14-15 years of age, below the age of legal consent in our society.

If we look at the majority of mammals in the animal kingdom, the females would be mated with as soon as they showed fertility through heats or seasons.

So when did tens of thousands of years of evolution turn into the society we have now?

Please note, I am not interested in a debate as to whether having sex with a child is wrong. What I am interested in is how a few hundred years can change thousands of years of evolution, and how that in turn shapes how we look at things. Such as disliking an author because he portrays under-age sex, and rape.

I am also interested in the idea that such things would cause someone to not read a book, and yet these things happen every single day. The sad truth is, 1 in 3 women in their lives will be sexually assaulted. People encounter sexual and physical violence every single day. And yet we turn our heads away, to the extent that we complain when a book has these things in, when they are facts of life. Offensive, vile, horrendous. But they happen.

Personally, I feel that in reading such things, we are removing the taboo, not for the perpetrators, but the victims. If rape could be discussed in every day terms, and not whispered about in corners and avoided in conversation, how many more people would feel comfortably able to report such attacks?

I didn't mean to go into a rant, and I respect everyone's right to read, and speak, about what they wish, and avoid what they don't. But it saddens me that we, in the safety of our houses, can be so disconnected from the atrocities that happen all around us, that the description of something in a book is too much to handle.

I repeat the statistics - 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted. In today's society.

Jan 15, 2012, 5:01pm Top

Luncat - I know the statistics, I knew them before I read the books, I don't know what that has to do with not wanting to read a book where the majority of the sex is rape and/or pedophilia.

And, honestly, I don't care. I am done with this topic. It has gone so far off-track and people keep reading things into what I said, or what the blog pots said, that neither of us actually said and I'm tired of trying to correct it.

Jan 15, 2012, 6:48pm Top

Currently reading:
Superheroes of the Round Table by Jason Tondro (non-fiction, Early Reviewers)
Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik (fantasy, audiobook)

And I'll probably start something else tonight, since audiobooks and non-fiction are not my preferred bedtime reading.

Jan 17, 2012, 9:49am Top

I've been going through my TBR list (aka my Wishlist collection) to see if I really do want to read all the books there. And...not all of them, it turns out. A week or so ago it was at 321, now it's at 261.

Jan 17, 2012, 1:00pm Top

Hi blue, I'm likely to be lurking in your thread, thought I'd say hi. I look forward to your thoughts on Novik.

Jan 19, 2012, 1:16am Top

>55 bluesalamanders:: Now there's a thought. My brother pointed out to me that my Amazon wishlist (which is pretty much all books because that's where I stash almost every LT book bullet ever) is reaching 20 pages long and some of the stuff has been on there for ages. Perhaps I should follow your lead and cull my wishlist, since there is no way I'm going to be culling my books (at least not the way Roni does!). :)

Jan 19, 2012, 2:25am Top

I culled my wishlist a month or so ago. There was TONS of crap on there I couldn't believe I wanted to read at some point in the past. Once I started looking, lots of them were LT ER books I thought were interesting at the time but didn't win. Looking at them now, most were definite NOs. And a lot of books I felt I was "supposed to read" to be a real book lover. I gave that silly thought up a while ago: no point spending quality reading time on something that doesn't really excite or move me.

Jan 19, 2012, 8:01am Top

56 quinaquisset - Welcome aboard! :)

57 beserene - Haha yeah, that sounds like a problem wishlist. It took me a week or so to go through mind and delete those 60. I could probably delete more, if I was really honest about it, but eh. I'll do it another time.

I try to keep my library pretty tightly culled down to only books I'm going to reread, with a few exceptions (signed books and the few authors that I want to own everything by). I don't have enough shelf space for the books I have and unfortunately I can't put in any pretty built-in shelves like roni did.

58 @atlargeintheworld - Yeah, a lot of the books I culled from the tbr list, I just don't know why they were there in the first place. Some of them I didn't even remember adding. Some of them were second or third in a series, so I deleted those and then looked at the first book in the series to see if that looked interesting (sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't). So I actually deleted more than 60 books, I just added some back, too.

Jan 19, 2012, 3:06pm Top

I do the same thing, and only keep/buy boosk that I beleive I will read again unless it has a special place in my heart for some reason. Also I had a long list of books/series to read on my computer but it crashed a week ago and I've only been able to remember half the list. I'm trying to stay postive about it all so I've taken it as a sign that I had too many and that if I come across the missing ones again later on I'll pick them up then if they still sound good. :)

Edited: Jan 22, 2012, 9:34pm Top

So I said a few times last year that I don't really read more than one book at a time anymore. And it was true at the time. But I can't seem to concentrate on any book for very long right now, so I keep starting new ones. I've started six or eight different books (off the top of my head: two non-fiction ERs, one steampunk anthology, one new YA fantasy, one adult fantasy audiobook - and one reread) and I keep bouncing between them. I'm sure at some point I'm going to finish three or four of them all at once, but right now it feels like I'm not getting anywhere.

Jan 23, 2012, 9:35am Top

I'm sure at some point I'm going to finish three or four of them all at once, but right now it feels like I'm not getting anywhere.

I hear you. Sometimes I'll go a month without finishing a book because I love reading multiple books at once.

Jan 23, 2012, 8:06pm Top

It seems as though everyone goes through these moments in time when concentrating on one book just seems to be too hard to do. I am sure, for me, the moment will pass when some book just grabs me by the shirt front and will not let me think of other things. Not every book does that. But I am always looking for the next one.

I think it helps me when I shift genre and choose something from an area I've not read in for a while.

Edited: Jan 26, 2012, 9:16pm Top

Finished Book 6: *The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Young Adult, Fantasy, 404p

This review may have some spoilers. I'm not sure, to be honest, so if you're a stickler, stop now.

Sean Kendrick has won four times before, on a capaill uisce (water horse) he loves but doesn't own. Kate (Puck) Connolly is the first woman to enter, and on a land horse no less. And they both have so much that depends on winning...

It took half of the book for me to really get interested in the story or the characters - but once I passed the halfway point, I could hardly put it down. Sean became an interesting character with depths that weren't apparent in the first half, but Puck is a brave and intelligent, and steadfast, managing to overcome her own doubts and the outspoken people who felt a women should not be racing.

It was interesting that there was very little argument about her riding a land horse - perhaps the idea was that the bad feelings about a woman participating would be stronger than bad feelings about a land horse. I'm not sure I disagree with that, but it did stand out as one of the "unwritten rules" that wasn't brought up in the argument.

The capaill uisce themselves were fascinating and I found myself wishing we could spend more time with them, to see more about what they're like and how they travel between the sea and the land and so on. I was more interested in Puck as a character, but I would have liked to learn more about the water horses in the time spent with Sean.

(eta: end of possible spoilers here :)

I'm quite not sure how to recommend this book. It's very popular, and was recommended to me by many people whose opinions I value. I did find the first 200 pages slow going, but after that it was excellent, and I loved the end.

Jan 25, 2012, 8:39am Top

I didn't read the above review as I plan to read the book and don't want spoilers, but after reading your final line only, I'm glad to hear that it was worthwhile in the end. :)

Jan 25, 2012, 9:11am Top

>64 bluesalamanders: Duly not reading the review until after I've read The Scorpio Races. It was on my TBR list anyway, but it's also a Printz Honor book, so I'll definitely be getting to it sometime soon.

Edited: Jan 25, 2012, 1:38pm Top

65 dk_phoenix - Definitely worthwhile in the end! I'm very glad I stuck with it.

66 bell7 - Yeah, I don't actually see why it's award-worthy, personally, but then I don't know their criteria. I think it's good, but not amazing, especially since the beginning was very slow going and I kept thinking "really? this is what all the fuss is about?" until about halfway through.

Edited: Feb 1, 2012, 7:35am Top

January Round-Up
(may or may not be completed in the future)

6 books finished totaling 1406 pages and 10h24m
1 abandoned book

4 YA
2 Adult

2 Fantasy
2 Science Fiction
1 Fiction
1 Non-Fiction

5 Dead Tree
0 eBook
1 Audiobook

Author gender:
3 female
3 male

New or Old:
6 new reads
0 rereads

Edited: Feb 4, 2012, 8:42pm Top

Finished Book 7: *Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik, read by Simon Vance
Temeraire, book 6
Adult, Historical Fantasy, Audiobook, 9h47m

What I found the most interesting in Tongues of Serpents was the young dragons. Ceasar was hilarious when he was just-hatched, although he became increasingly irritating as the story progressed, and the dragon with the name I have no idea how to spell was adorable (as adorable as something that huge can be, anyway).

I would have liked them to interact more with native Australians, but perhaps they will in the next book.

I understand why this wouldn't be considered the best of the series, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable, especially with Simon Vance continuing to do a wonderful job of reading.

Feb 3, 2012, 3:04am Top

I'm so excited about the new Temeraire book coming out, my head might pop.

Which would then be unfortunate, since it would make reading tricky.

But, still, quite excited. :)

Feb 3, 2012, 7:51am Top

Haha yes, that would make it just a bit tricky to read, so try not to do that!

It looks like it's coming out next month? I wonder if the audiobook will be out at the same time, that's my preferred way to "read" the Temeraire books these days. Vance is really fantastic.

Feb 3, 2012, 7:57am Top

I haven't read any of the Temeraire books yet, but the series is in my TBR queue. It looks really good!

Feb 3, 2012, 8:30am Top

It is very good. I hope you like them too!

Feb 3, 2012, 12:46pm Top

It's available from the LTER program this month: http://www.librarything.com/er/list#11201185

Feb 3, 2012, 7:02pm Top

Edited: Feb 4, 2012, 8:37pm Top

Finished Book 8: *Silver Birch, Blood Moon edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Adult, Fantasy, 371p

Silver Birch, Blood Moon is an anthology of re-written fairy tales, with new spins on everything from Shahrazed to the dybbuk of Jewish folklore to several versions of Sleeping Beauty and the Frog Prince. As with any anthology, there is some range in quality of the stories, but overall it's very good.

My favorite stories were Marsh Magic by Robin McKinley (very loosely based on Rumpelstiltskin), Skin So Green And Fine by Wendy Wheeler (a Beauty and the Beast tale), The Wild Heart by Anne Bishop (Sleeping Beauty), The Shell Box by Karawynn Long (The Little Mermaid...sort of) - I'll stop there.

Suffice it to say that I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reimagined fairy tales.

Feb 4, 2012, 9:43pm Top

I really should look for the Datlow/Windling anthologies. I didn't realize that Robin McKinley had contributed to one!

Feb 4, 2012, 10:23pm Top

And it's a story I haven't seen anywhere else! The book isn't in print, unfortunately; my sister probably got it at a used book website.

The other book I want that has a Robin McKinley story in it is The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Annual Collection, but it's one of the stories from the Water anthology.

Feb 8, 2012, 10:00pm Top

I'm suddenly considering going to Boskone...

Feb 9, 2012, 8:31am Top

I enjoy reimagined fairy tales! *puts book on list*

Edited: Feb 9, 2012, 9:57am Top

dk_phoenix, I hope you like it, too!

Feb 9, 2012, 10:54pm Top

I love that whole series of anthologies -- I picked up all of them years ago. You can still find them at used shops sometimes and some of them have been reissued under different, combined titles, I think. Good stuff.

PS: Temeraire book on the ER list made me squee. Crossing fingers! This is going to be an awkward position to hold for a month!

Feb 10, 2012, 8:38am Top

Good luck! I didn't request it, I'm going to wait for the audiobook (ick, that almost sounds like "I'll wait for the movie" doesn't it?). I did request the Scott Westerfeld book, but on second look it's a graphic novel and I'm very picky about graphic novels, so I dunno...there was one other thing that caught my eye, maybe I'll go back and request that too.

Edited: Feb 11, 2012, 9:52pm Top

Finished Book 9: *Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Lunar Chronicles, book 1
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 387p

In this futuristic, science fictional Cinderella retelling, Cinder is a cyborg, part human and part machine. When we first meet her, she is removing her mechanical foot in order to put on a new replacement part. She is a mechanic whose income supports her stepmother and stepsisters. And she meets the prince.

I've been in a reading slump, but then I picked Cinder up and couldn't put it down, started and finished in one day. Cinder is a vibrant character. Iko is darling. The stepsisters and stepmother are a little one-dimensional, as is the Lunar Queen, but there are other interesting characters that make up for that. The writing is lovely and I found the whole thing enthralling. Highly recommended!

Feb 11, 2012, 10:28pm Top

Hmm . . . I've been seeing that one mentioned here and there. I may have to take a look at it.

Feb 11, 2012, 10:44pm Top

It's well worth taking a look at! I was in no way expecting to buy it...I just needed something to occupy some time before my friends arrived. But I had trouble putting it down when they showed up, and immediately sat down to finish it when I got home.

Feb 12, 2012, 12:29pm Top

Finished Book 10: Sandry's Book by Tamora Pierce
Circle of Magic, book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, 252p

Four young mages are saved from terrible situations and brought together to learn and grow.

The beginning of this book never makes much sense to me. It jumps between the rescue of each character as though they're all happening at the same time, but they can't be because all four are found by the same person. Beyond that, it's a quick read with fun characters - I especially like Rosethorn, Daja, and Tris - and interesting worldbuilding that is outside the standard medieval fantasy setting.

Unfortunately, it has the problems that most of following Winding Circle books also suffer from: too many plot threads on too few pages, and some important events happening off-page instead of on. I enjoy rereading them from time to time, but I always wish there was more to each one.

10 / 150 books. 7% done.
9 / 75 *new books. 12% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
2416 / 30000 pages. 8% done.
Audiobooks: 20h11m

Feb 12, 2012, 1:32pm Top

I read the first three books in the Circle of Magic years ago but I don't remember a lot about them. I've been thinking about rereading them for a long time, but it's hard to make yourself read something you don't really remember when there is so much new stuff to get too...

Edited: Feb 12, 2012, 1:38pm Top

I don't think they're bad books, I just wish they were better. I reread a lot, so it's not out of the way for me (and I just picked that one up at a used bookstore, so it was right there). I enjoy them well enough but I don't go out of my way recommend them, either. Obviously :)

Feb 12, 2012, 5:35pm Top

Finished Book 11: *seaQuest DSV: The Novel by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood
seaQuest DSV, book 1
Adult (?), Science Fiction, 230p

As with most media tie-in novels, I'm not sure if this should be classified as Adult or YA.

The year is 2018 (which, in 1993, seemed so far off) and we have begun to colonize the ocean floor. This has brought about a world of new territorial disputes and other problems, and thence comes the UEO, the United Earth/Oceans Organization, and its flagship - both militarily and scientifically - the seaQuest.

I remember the tv show with a sort of amused fondness, which pretty well describes my feelings about this. The writing is pretty good, which is not surprising given the authors, but they were constrained by the tv show's story and it shows. Original tie-in novels are better than novelizations of existing episodes; the book was not bad, but I'd recommend spending an hour watching the actual episode rather than several hours reading this.

There was one line that made me laugh, that may or may not have been in the original script: Bridger is searching seaQuest for something small (and hidden) and thinks to himself "I think I need a smaller boat..."

Feb 12, 2012, 5:40pm Top

Haaaahahaha... a SeaQuest novel?!?! I can't believe it... where did you find it? The library?

Feb 12, 2012, 5:44pm Top

I know! I laughed when I saw it. I found it in a used bookstore.

Feb 12, 2012, 6:27pm Top

What a wonderful coincidence! I just finished watching the first season of seaQuest on Netflix! My sister and I LOVED that show when it was on originally (and we were 10-11 and 7-8). Rewatching it, mostly I just laughed my butt off. How did I love that show so much? I mean, I was obsessed with the ocean and wanted to be a marine biologist, and the cast in the first season is good, but it's just ridiculous half the time. My favorite examples are the haunted ship episode, which killed me, and the fact that in one episode they talk about how someone is going crazy for thinking they saw a mermaid and in THE VERY NEXT EPISODE they find an alien spaceship that's been buried in the ocean FOR A MILLION YEARS and no one bats an eye. It's just wonderfully preposterous.

I started the second season and had to stop immediately. Too many cast changes and the first episode was so dumb I felt my nostalgia had run it's course. Can't believe there is a novel...

Feb 12, 2012, 6:32pm Top

Apparently there are three, and the second and third are actually original stories. Heh.

My sister and I totally loved it when we were around those ages - maybe a little older - too. We watched some of it again, and yeah, wow, it's totally ridiculous. Some of it I still remember fondly, though. I know how fake Darwin was, but I still love him. And some of the episodes were hilarious! I mean...fish poop...

Feb 12, 2012, 11:31pm Top

Yeah, the fish poop episode was great!

Edited: Feb 14, 2012, 8:18am Top

Finished Book 12: Tris's Book by Tamora Pierce, read by Full Cast Audio
Circle of Magic, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 5h17m

I started out reading a paper copy of this book that I got from a used bookstore, but it turned out to be sadly mangled and I had to throw it away. Luckily I had an audiobook on hand. I'll find a whole paper copy some other time.

Tris, Sandry, Daja, and Briar, the four young mages brought together in Sandry's Book, are still living - and learning - together and are closer than ever, to each other and to their teachers. What will they do when pirates attack their new home?

Either the four of them trust each other implicitly, or they feel it's necessary to sneak around behind each other's backs. Which is it? There's confusion about that, and it weakens the plot. However, the overall story - of Tris learning to control her power and of the four of them learning how their combined magics make them stronger - is an interesting one, and the descriptions of Tris using her weather magic are really neat.

Feb 15, 2012, 7:47pm Top

Finished Book 13: Daja's Book by Tamora Pierce, read by Full Cast Audio
Circle of Magic, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 5h20m

The four friends, their teachers, and Sandry's uncle the Duke travel to a drought-stricken region in Emelan.

There are always too many things going on at once in the Circle books, so nothing quite gets the time it needs to be developed, and neither do the characters. In Daja's Book, there is a drought, a fire (admittedly the two are connected), there is Daja's problems being a cast-out from her people (since a group of her people come around), there is yet another prideful mage (there is one in nearly every book) and prideful noble (likewise) to cause problems and/or discord, and of course Daja's and her friends' magics get away from them (more than once).

And that's not even all of it. It's just too much. The book should be half again as long to encompass it, and just about all of the Circle books are like that. But despite the issues, I still reread the Circle books occasionally because some of the characters and parts of the storylines resonate with me. Daja's stories in particular interest me, with the metalsmithing.

Feb 15, 2012, 8:13pm Top

blue, somehow the star disappeared off your thread around message 57, and I just discovered that it happened and restarred it. I've got The Scorpio Races and Cinder on my wishlist already but am glad to have your endorsement! I donated my copies of the 8 Circle books to my elementary school library, while keeping all of my other Pierce books, so that tells you what I thought about them. I'm glad I read them once, but don't think they are the quality for adult rereads, while I am sure most kids will really enjoy them. I did keep the 9th book, which moves into YA topics.

Anyhow, glad to be back, and I'll be sure to not lose you again. Still don't know how that happened.

Feb 15, 2012, 8:40pm Top

Welcome back, roni!

I agree, the Circle books are lower quality than the Tortall books. I hadn't intended to reread them, but I got one from a used bookstore and read it - Tamora Pierce is one of the authors I collect, even books I don't intend to reread - and then I got into that mood, you know? I'm finishing up the 4th book now. I should be able to move on to new things then.

I look forward to your thoughts on Scorpio Races and Cinder when you get to them!

Edited: Feb 16, 2012, 7:22am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 15, 2012, 9:36pm Top

Finished Book 14: Briar's Book by Tamora Pierce, read by Full Cast Audio
Circle of Magic, book 4
Young Adult, Fantasy, 5h42m

A mysterious plague is infecting the city where Briar and his teacher Rosethorn are working and they must try to contain and cure it.

Briar's Book is not the best in this series. It drags with too much description of magical medical practices and the story just isn't all that interesting.

Feb 15, 2012, 10:36pm Top

Cinder is on my TBRSRTL (To Be Read Sooner Rather Than Later) pile, currently teetering somewhere near the top. I noticed a LOT of hype and promotion surrounding the book, so I am glad to see that it seems worth the fuss. Thanks!

Feb 16, 2012, 7:35am Top

beserene - I don't know about the hype, but I thought it was great! I'll certainly be interested to see what you think of it.

Feb 20, 2012, 8:25am Top

Hi blue - thanks for the recommendations: I'm waiting on copies of Scorpio Races and Cinder and I'm *trying* to find a copy of Silver Birch, Blood Moon. I love fairy tale retellings and reimaginings!
I am a huge fan of Tamora Pierce as well, and, while the Circle books aren't my favourites beyond some incidents that are very memorable (Rosethorn's garden in the fourth book for one), I quite enjoyed their sequels. It is a lot of fun to see how the kids grow up and become teachers :)

Edited: Feb 20, 2012, 4:07pm Top

Finished Book 15: The Cat Who Smelled a Rat by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Cat Who, book 23
Adult, Mystery, 293p

A new neighbor moves in. Fires are starting near the old shafthouses. A murder. And everyone is waiting for the Big One to blow in. All the usual stuff.

On the one hand, this book includes the only time I can remember Braun actually calling Qwill Polly's boyfriend. On the other hand, he teases her in some rather unpleasant ways, even more than usual. A light mystery as usual, but not among the best of the series.

15 / 150 books. 10% done.
10 / 75 *new books. 13% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
2939 / 30000 pages. 10% done.
Audiobooks: 1d12h30m

Feb 20, 2012, 4:25pm Top

104 PrincessT - I'm sure my sister found Silver Birch online somewhere, I don't know where though. I hope you find it!

Feb 29, 2012, 8:05pm Top

Finished Book 16: Beauty by Robin McKinley
Young Adult, Fantasy, 247p

This was my favorite McKinley book when I was younger. Beauty (a nickname; her real name is Honour) is the plain and studious sister (and slightly more rugged, with her horseback riding and preference for home over 'society') next to the two older beauties, so when their merchant father's business falls on hard times and they have to move, it is she who adapts easiest to the country life.

But they all adapt and are living contentedly if not cheerfully when - well, you probably know the story. And so Beauty goes to live with the Beast, so her father can stay home.

This was McKinley's first published novel as well as her first fairy tale adaptation and it is still one of her best. Beauty is a gentle story with no violent climaxes and much description and thought.

Feb 29, 2012, 8:09pm Top

I loved that book as well, and still enjoy it very much. How did you like her other retelling, Rose Daughter?

Feb 29, 2012, 8:09pm Top

February Round-Up

10 books finished totaling 1600 pages and 26h6m
0 abandoned books

6 YA
4 Adult

7 Fantasy
2 Science Fiction
1 Fiction
0 Non-Fiction

6 Dead Tree
0 eBook
4 Audiobook

Author/Editor gender:
11 female
1 male

New or Old:
4 new reads
6 rereads

Feb 29, 2012, 8:11pm Top

108 roni - I've never liked Rose Daughter. I even tried rereading it a year or two ago, and that didn't help. The writing is as beautiful as ever (which puts it a step above Dragonhaven) but the plot is just all over the place and makes no sense.

Mar 1, 2012, 3:35pm Top

I finished Beauty earlier this month and really enjoyed it also. It was my first by McKinley and look forward to trying more of her work.

Mar 1, 2012, 8:54pm Top

111 staci - I'm glad to hear it! If you liked Beauty, than I bet you'll enjoy a lot of her other books, too.

Mar 1, 2012, 9:21pm Top

I have to admit that, although Rose Daughter is supposed to be the more "mature" work and to not blindly accept fairy tale assumptions like, of course we have to turn him back into a handsome prince, I still favor the original as well.

Mar 1, 2012, 11:36pm Top

I really liked Rose Daughter, vagueness of plot aside (and with apologies for totally butting in), because I liked the philosophy of the ending. Not just the subversion of the typical -- hey, let's not change him back! -- but the idea that the "perfect" couple would not end up so perfectly. I always liked that the novel was so conscious of the post-happily-ever-after.

But I can see plenty of reasons that the book would not be a favorite of others.

By the way, Blue (and Roni, who may also be interested), I read Sisters Red recently, and found that it also (like The Scorpio Races, if you recall our conversation) seemed to carry forward an attitude similar to the original fairy tale regarding violence and death... and so now I'm wondering if these parallels are intentional or just happen when you base one story on another. Hmmm...

Mar 2, 2012, 3:43am Top

The philosophy of the end is one part of Rose Daughter that I did rather like, although there were unaddressed implications of him not being changed back that spoiled it a bit for me (how do you have a relationship with someone who isn't human??). But regardless, I've never read a book where a good end made up for not loving everything else.

Mar 2, 2012, 12:49pm Top

It just occurred to me, another reason why I love both Beauty and Rose Daughter is that I was watching Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" somewhat religiously that year that I first read McKinley's books. And I thought the Beast was way better than the prince. So McKinley's ending in RD satisfied me down in my little soul.

I really do need to reread that book, since it has been so long, to see if I still like the rest of it as much as the ending, and as much as I claim. :)

Edited: Mar 6, 2012, 8:54am Top

Finished Book 17: Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede
Mairelon the Magician, book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, 280

Street thief Kim unwittingly accepts a job breaking into a wagon belonging to a real magician. When the eccentric Mairelon catches her at it, everything changes.

I've loved this book for years, mainly because the characters are fantastic. Kim, Mairelon, Hunch, Renee, and nearly a dozen minor characters that are all easily distinguishable with clearly different personalities and motivations, even in such a short book. It's refreshing, after the meandering tomes with scores of practically indistinguishable characters that are so prevalent these days.

Mar 6, 2012, 9:00am Top

Finished Book 18: The Magician's Ward by Patricia C. Wrede
Mairelon the Magician, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 288

Now Mairelon's ward, Kim must learn to deal with London Society, while also handling the unusual events occurring around her.

The Magician's Ward is a fun book full of powerful female characters, including Mairelon's overly-strict aunt and his charming and brilliant mother, their friend Renee, and other Society ladies. It's interesting to see London Society through all of those perspectives, especially Kim's, while at the same time they are trying to deal with a burglary, a mysterious wizard, and other problems that arise.

Edited: Mar 6, 2012, 9:14am Top

Finished Book 19: *Doctor Who: The Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons, read by Camille Coduri
Adult, Science Fiction, 5h6m

The Doctor, Rose, and Jack land on a planet where nobody dreams or imagines and where fiction and lies are forbidden.

The idea is interesting but it did seem like the Doctor rushed into trying to fix what he perceived as a problem before figuring out why it was there in the first place. Which isn't really out of character, admittedly. The end wrapped up far too quickly, with everything all fixed and wrapped up within just a few sentences. It seemed like almost an afterthought tacked onto the rest of the story.

Coduri did a fine job of reading and it was enjoyable to listen to. The writing and plot were about average for a Doctor Who tie-in.

Mar 6, 2012, 9:22am Top

Love what you've been reading lately! I read a few Doctor Who novels awhile ago -- they weren't terrible, but they weren't amazing either. Mostly silly fun (which isn't a bad thing!).

Mar 6, 2012, 9:29am Top

Thanks, dk! I generally find the Doctor Who audiobooks relaxing and fun as long as I don't try to take them very seriously - and as long as the characterization is close; I listened to one once in which Martha freaked out about a dead body and that just ruined it, because, I mean, did the author completely forget who Martha was?

Mar 6, 2012, 11:33am Top

Abandoned Book: Superheroes of the Round Table by Jason Tondro (ER book)

I tried to read Superheroes of the Round Table but I just wasn't able to get through it. I can see it as something that might have fit into a college lit class, but unfortunately it's a book where the idea is more interesting than the execution.

Abandoned Book (sort of): The Halloween Encyclopedia by Lisa Morton (ER book)

The Halloween Encyclopedia is a bit much to sit and read straight through, but I enjoy picking it up now and then to read a few entries. They are well-researched and well-written and full of fascinating information, although some entries only have tenuous links to the holiday at best.

I'll probably keep picking up and reading bits and pieces of the second one, but who knows if or when I'll finish the whole thing.

I have got to stop requesting non-fiction ERs, no matter how interesting they sound in the description!

Mar 6, 2012, 12:48pm Top

I think I've got about everything Patricia Wrede has written--I do enjoy her writing.

Mar 6, 2012, 12:52pm Top

I think there are three or four that I haven't read, but yeah, I really like her writing too.

Mar 7, 2012, 9:08am Top

>122 bluesalamanders: I have got to stop requesting non-fiction ERs, no matter how interesting they sound in the description!

Me too! And if I request a couple fictions and one non-fiction, the non-fiction is inevitably the one that I win...

Mar 7, 2012, 11:45am Top

125 norabelle - Same here! And they're never as interesting as they sounded.

Mar 7, 2012, 5:39pm Top

>125 norabelle414:-6: My new ER policy is to look all the way through the list and, if there is one that I really want that's also got a lot of requests, to ONLY request that one. I think when they do the ER requests, they must do the less popular books (which are often the non-fiction or lesser known publishers' offerings) first, then the ones with many requests, and if you already got pulled for a less requested book, you don't get a popular one, naturally.

Or something like that.

I say this because I've also noticed that, if I request several books, I usually get the one that was least popular in terms of requests. It's not a complaint -- they have to have some kind of system, after all, and they're handing out free books, yay! But I've found that I have to really narrow my choice if I want to get a good ER book.

I love my first-world problems sometimes. :)

Mar 7, 2012, 6:59pm Top

#127: At some point, Tim explained the order in which ER books are picked -- they go through the list and match up the first copy with the best match for each book, then the second best match gets the second copy, and so forth until all copies have been given out. And, of course, once you get a book, you are out of the running for any other books. So, if you are the third-best match for a less-popular title, and the twelfth-best match for a more-popular title, you will get the less-popular title. And, of course, the more popular a title is, the stiffer the competition gets for those top slots. So, basically your system of narrowing down your choices is a good one. If there's a title on the ER list that I really want, I don't request any books that just sort of look interesting, because I don't want to run the risk of them knocking me out of the running for the one I want the most.

Mar 7, 2012, 8:51pm Top

I just looked at my list of requested books (which I love is now available) and realized that with the last three non-fiction ERs I received, I basically only requested non-fiction books because I guess there was no fiction that interested me those months.

I am definitely getting more selective about what I'm willing to request. I've never requested more than 5 or 6 books, but now I'm much more likely to request 1 or 2. What I should do is request none more often. A free book is only a good thing if it's a book I want to read, after all.

This month I definitely only requested one, because, I mean, Bitterblue!!

Mar 7, 2012, 9:05pm Top

Finished Book 20: Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce
The Circle Opens, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 355 pages

As with most of the Circle books, there are so many plots and sub-plots that none of them get the depth they really need. In this book, Daja and her teacher Frostpine are visiting a city to the north. Daja discovers the daughters of their hosts have magical abilities; they need to be taught, therefore she needs to find teachers for them and teach them meditation. There are lots of fires breaking out in the city and Daja develops a friendship with a man named Ben who set up a fire brigade. She decides to make living metal gloves for him so he can be more effective in rescuing people. The aforementioned daughters are teaching her to ice skate. Frostpine is investigating counterfeit coins.

And so on.

Most (though not all) of the plots overlap or converge at some point, but still it just seems like the book is too short to hold it all. Also, the reader learns the answer to one mystery early in the book that the characters don't discover until near the end, which can work in some stories but in this instance is disconcerting and uncomfortable, possibly because the Circle books generally focus on one of the four mages or their teachers and nobody else.

For all its flaws, it's not a bad book, just one I think could have been better. I enjoy it regardless, especially since Daja and Frostpine are two of my favorite Circle characters.

20 / 150 books. 13% done.
11 / 75 *new books. 15% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
4109 / 30000 pages. 14% done.
Audiobooks: 1d17h36m

Mar 10, 2012, 8:52pm Top

Finished Book 21: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, 471 pages

A Graceling is a person with a gift, an almost magical talent (although it's never referred to as magic). Someone Graced with speed, say, or swimming, or juggling can perform feats in that area that no regular person could hope to achieve.

In Middluns, Gracelings are feared no matter how benign their Grace, and that fear is multiplied with Katsa's killing Grace. Even her uncle the King fears her, though he uses his authority to force her to dole out punishment across his kingdom. But what if she decides she will no longer only be his pawn?

Katsa is a wonderful character who grows constantly and believably over the course of the book. I am particularly moved by how difficult it is for her to make friends at first and how she slowly learns to accept friendship and love from those around her.

The climax of the book is brief and a bit unsatisfying, but otherwise I enjoy Graceling from beginning to end no matter how many times I read it, and I highly recommend it.

I can't wait for the sequel!

Edited: Mar 11, 2012, 10:39pm Top

Finished Book 22: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Temeraire, book 1
Adult, Fantasy, 384p

A British ship captures a damaged French vessel which was carrying a dragon's egg back to Napoleon.

Third time over and I still like this book a lot. Temeraire, the dragon, is a fantastic character, Laurence is nearly as interesting, and the setting is great - the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons (the ariel corps). I can't speak to the historical veracity of the non-draconian bits, though, so if you're a stickler for that I suggest checking elsewhere before picking it up. But if you're looking for a story with good strong characters thrown into unexpected and unusual situations, this might be one to try.

Mar 12, 2012, 2:56pm Top

Finished Book 23: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies, book 1
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 425p

Tally is an Ugly, an adolescent in a city where 16-year-olds undergo advanced cosmetic surgery to become Pretty. Tally can't way to become Pretty. Then the summer before her 16th birthday she meets Shay, another Ugly her age, and what happens next challenges her ideas not only about ugly and pretty but about everything she's ever known.

Tally is not the most sympathetic protagonist. She spends much of the book arguing with or lying to her friends, and much of the rest trying to fix the problems that those arguments and lies caused. And yet I find myself empathizing with her. She's continually confronted with ideas challenging her entire worldview; it's hardly surprising that she unreceptive at first.

The story has a frantic pace from the beginning, which seldom lets up for more than a few pages. If the characters aren't arguing about something, they're hoverboarding at breakneck speed or planning their next "trick" or worrying about getting caught.

Uglies is a great start to great series; it presents a disturbing post-apocalyptic, dystopic world without being quite as dark or gritty as books in those genres tend to be.

Mar 12, 2012, 11:35pm Top

I thought Graceling was an interesting way to combine fantasy and superheroes. I too liked her path into self-confidence.

Mar 13, 2012, 9:50am Top

134 quinaquisset - "combining fantasy and superheroes" - I never thought of it that way, but that's a good description of it. It sort of makes more sense than superheroes, too (at least, my knowledge of them) because why do all the superpowers have to do with fighting and stuff anyway? Why wouldn't there be banal or useless ones, like there are banal and useless Graces?

Edited: Mar 13, 2012, 10:46am Top

Finished Book 24: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies, book 2
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 368p

In Uglies, Tally couldn't wait to be Pretty and put her old Ugly life behind her. Now that she finally is, all kinds of niggling doubts keep her from fully embracing her new life - and Zane, the head of her new clique, isn't helping: instead of calming her doubts, he encourages them. Why does Tally feel guilty whenever she talks to Shay? Why can't she really remember anything that happened before she was Pretty? And who is this Ugly who's crashed their party?

Like Uglies, Pretties starts in a hurry and keeps up the pace throughout: parties, tricks, and stunts; hoverboarding, hot-air balloons, and helicopters; if it's not one thing, it's something else.

Pretties is a good (and fun) story, though maybe not as poignant or powerful as Uglies. There are more tricks and games and less internal struggles, even though the tricks and games are for a greater purpose. Tally is again caught in a web of lies and betrayal, although she doesn't realize it until it's too late.

This may be the weakest book in the trilogy, but a weak Scott Westerfeld book is still miles better than the average book off the shelf.

Edited: Mar 13, 2012, 12:48pm Top

Finished Book 25: Specials by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies, book 3
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 372p

And now Tally is not only Pretty but Special, a super-human commando whose body and brain have been surgically altered to make her the perfect weapon against her old friends. Can Tally rewire her own brain to save herself, her friends, and the world?

Well, maybe not the whole world, but their corner of it, anyway.

Like in Pretties, Tally is confused about the past and uncertain about the present. But unlike Pretties, she doesn't know she's confused about the past and it isn't until she sees Zane and David again that she really starts to question her new role in Special Circumstances.

Specials barrels forward at the same pace as previous two books, helped along by Tally's confusion and frustration and Special enhancements. She is forced to choose, over and over again, between Zane and Shay, or between David and Zane, or between the new Specials or her old friends. Much of the book takes place with Tally alone, or nearly alone, so some of the introspection and internal struggle that was in Uglies but missing from Pretties returns.

Overall, it's a great trilogy; action-packed stories with characters that it is easy to care about (if not Tally, then Shay, David, Maddy, Zane) and fun to read about. Beyond that, there are powerful messages skillfully mixed into the action. You may get different messages, but here's what I got: Looks don't matter as much as you think. Protect the environment. Cherish your friends. Body autonomy and free thought are vital.

25 / 150 books. 17% done.
11 / 75 *new books. 15% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
6129 / 30000 pages. 20% done.
Audiobooks: 1d17h36m

Mar 13, 2012, 12:55pm Top

Glad you liked Graceling so much! So did I . There's a good "sidequel" called Fire, and Bitterblue is due to come out in May.

Mar 13, 2012, 12:59pm Top

Oh yeah, I've read Fire as well. I actually like it a little better than Graceling, but my only copy is signed so I don't take it out much :) I can hardly wait for Bitterblue! I requested it in this month's Early Reviewers, so here's hoping...!

Mar 13, 2012, 1:02pm Top

I liked Fire a ton more than Graceling but I'm looking forward to Bitterblue. I requested it too, but I imagine there are going to be a TON of requests.

Mar 13, 2012, 4:46pm Top

140 atlargeintheworld - I know, but I can dream, can't I? Good luck!

Mar 13, 2012, 5:48pm Top

Hah! I did the same. I should have had my wife do it - she actually wins things like this.

Edited: Mar 29, 2012, 8:22pm Top

Finished Book 26: *Doctor Who: The Selachian Gambit by Steve Lyons read by someone
Adult, Science Fiction, Audiobook, 1h0m (I think)

It was fine. I'm not really up to writing more of a review than that just now.

Mar 25, 2012, 10:16pm Top

Finished Book 27: Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
Young Adult, Fantasy, ebook, 605p


Mar 27, 2012, 12:02am Top

How's life, Blue? Hope all is well. :)

Mar 27, 2012, 12:05am Top

I need to re-read Spindle's End--I remember not caring that much for it when I read it, but it was long enough ago that I don't remember why.

Mar 27, 2012, 12:08am Top

I like Spindle's End. But I don't remember why I liked it either. Apparently Robin McKinley's books can do that to you. :)

Mar 27, 2012, 12:32am Top

The thing is, I love almost all her other books.

Mar 27, 2012, 8:41am Top

How you doin', girl? I hope your Mother's recovery is moving along well. And I hope you are taking good care of yourself, too.

Mar 27, 2012, 10:44am Top

I love Spindle's End, I know not everyone does but it's among my favorite of her books (which admittedly is most of them...).

I'm tired and I want to go home (or at the very least spend a little more time alone to recharge my poor overtaxed introvert self). I have no idea when I'll be going home, though.

My mom is actually doing visibly better. Yesterday for the first time she was really awake and her eyes were clear, she seemed to really know us, she's off the ventilator (although they did a tracheostomy so she can't speak currently), they started in-bed physical therapy, and it's possible that she may be moved out of the ICU this week. There's a long road of recovery and PT still ahead but at least we've started to be able to see her progress for ourselves.

Mar 27, 2012, 10:53am Top

That's great news about your mother, blue. I hope you get a chance to recharge soon.

Mar 28, 2012, 9:11am Top

Glad to hear she's getting better. Hang in there!

Edited: Mar 29, 2012, 8:22pm Top

Finished Book 28: *Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
Killer Unicorns, book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, ebook, 416p

Teenage girls hunting killer unicorns.

It's an interesting premise, but between the many obnoxious characters and the truly annoying focus on virginity, it was hard going at times.

Mar 29, 2012, 8:29pm Top

Ah, another book I don't have to read. Thanks, blue!

Edited: Mar 29, 2012, 9:34pm Top

Yeah...it wasn't terrible or anything, it just could have done with a little less teen angst, a little more worldbuilding, and a few more broken cliches (the killer unicorn idea is neat, but virgin girls? really?).

Mar 31, 2012, 4:01pm Top

March Round-Up

Actually not a bad run, especially considering that midway through the month I had a major family emergency.

12 books finished totaling 3964 pages and 6h6m
2 abandoned book

9 YA
3 Adult

7 Fantasy
5 Science Fiction
0 Fiction
0 Non-Fiction

8 Dead Tree
2 eBook
2 Audiobook

Author/Editor gender:
7 female
5 male

New or Old:
3 new reads
9 rereads

Mar 31, 2012, 4:39pm Top

I would say that is a great run, giving your challenges.

Mar 31, 2012, 5:14pm Top

And I feel so limited right now, because all I have is my eReader and what's already on my ipod! Although "limited" isn't quite the right term, since I have dozens of ebooks at my fingertips, it's just so weird to only be able to use it and not have my paper books around.

Only three books were read in the last two and a half weeks, since this all started, but I'm glad I was able to start reading again to finish that much. For awhile I couldn't concentrate enough to read anything at all.

Edited: Apr 2, 2012, 9:37am Top

Finished Book 29: *The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Adult, Historical Fiction (with a touch of fantasy), ebook, 350p

Not really my kind of book, but it held my attention (more or less; I may have skimmed some of the battles) to the end.

Edited: Apr 3, 2012, 1:19pm Top

Finished Book 30: *In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker
The Company, book 1
Science Fiction, Adult, ebook, 333p

Really enjoyed the story and writing, already reading another book in the series.

30 / 150 books. 20% done.
15 / 75 *new books. 20% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
7833 / 30000 pages. 26% done.
Audiobooks: 1d18h36m

Apr 4, 2012, 5:16pm Top

I liked that one too, but I haven't read any of the other Company books. I'll be curious to know if the series continues as well as it starts.

Apr 4, 2012, 10:01pm Top

I'm about half way through Black Projects, White Knights (anthology of Company-relayed short stories) and it's definitely pretty good.

Apr 4, 2012, 10:40pm Top

I've read about five of the Company books, with several yet to go on my TBR pile. Kage Baker was definitely a unique writer.

Edited: Apr 7, 2012, 2:50pm Top

Finished Book 31: Killashandra by Anne McCaffrey
Crystal Singer, book 2
Adult, Science Fiction, ebook, 294p

Light reread. I don't care for McCaffrey's Pern series, but I do like the Crystal Singer series (as annoying as Killashandra can be).

Apr 7, 2012, 2:50pm Top

Finished Book 32: Crystal Line by Anne McCaffrey
Crystal Singer, book 3
Adult, Science Fiction, ebook, 222p

Ditto above.

Edited: Apr 9, 2012, 3:52pm Top

Finished Book 33: *Black Projects, White Knights by Kage Baker
The Company, related short stories
Adult, Science Fiction, ebook, 282p

I finished this before the Crystal Singer books but forgot to record it. There were one or two stories I didn't love, but most of them were as interesting as Iden.

Edited: Apr 9, 2012, 3:52pm Top

Finished Book 34: *The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones
Faerie Path, book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, ebook, 312p

The story could be interesting but the plot is clumsy and the characters are annoying.

Edited: Apr 9, 2012, 4:00pm Top

Finished Book 35: *The Ship Who Searched by Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey
Brainship, book 3
Adult, Science Fiction, ebook, 480p

I would probably have been hesitant to read this if I'd know it was co-authored by Lackey, who is among my least favorite genre authors, but the ebook I have is mislabeled as PartnerShip. I enjoy the Brainship books even more than the Crystal Singer books (more likable characters, for one, and more interesting stories) and Tia was a fun protagonist from start to finish.

35 / 150 books. 23% done.
18 / 75 *new books. 23% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
9423 / 30000 pages. 31% done.
Audiobooks: 1d18h36m

Edited: Apr 13, 2012, 10:45am Top

Finished Book 36: *PartnerShip by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball
Brainship, book 2
Adult, Science Fiction, ebook, 491p

Edited: Apr 14, 2012, 5:13pm Top

Finished Book 37: A Wizard Abroad by Diane Duane
Young Wizards, book 4
Young Adult, Fantasy, dead tree book, 322p

This isn't the best book in the series, which may have something to do with Duane pulling a lot from existing mythology rather than inventing her own as she does in the other books. I still enjoy it, though. I particularly like some of the secondary characters and Kit's and Nita's interactions with them.

Apr 14, 2012, 11:44pm Top

Looking forward to this one! I have to get off the Tim Powers kick I'm on at the moment, but then I'll get back to Duane. :)

Apr 15, 2012, 7:32am Top

I don't think I've read anything by Tim Powers. Is he good? What do you recommend?

Apr 15, 2012, 12:56pm Top

Ohmigosh, he is excellent. He writes complex historical fantasy that engages your mind on multiple levels. The reading process on him can be frustrating, because he often crams a lot of stuff into a little space and it seems like he couldn't possibly get away with it, but then one key piece turns and you are all like "holy sh*t, I can't believe that worked" but in an amazed way. It's great stuff.

SO, if you want to start with him, may I recommend The Anubis Gates? It's one of his quicker books, has a nice sensibility and great adventure. If you like that one, you may wish to progress to The Drawing of the Dark (not a sequel, but another historical fantasy) and/or On Stranger Tides (which is heftier, a bit slower, but has pirates).

Other people recommend his Last Call sequence, but I haven't read those yet.

I have just recently been reading his Romantics/Nephilim sequence -- The Stress of Her Regard and Hide Me Among the Graves, the latter of which I am still working on -- and it is extraordinary, but I would also say it's his most complex. His ability to extrapolate from the interstices of history is wonderful, so it also helps with those last two if you have some knowledge of the Romantic poets (Byron, Keats, Shelley for the first and the Rosettis for the second) going in -- it makes the whole package that much more impressive.

Yay Tim Powers! :)

Apr 15, 2012, 1:41pm Top

Okay, I've added The Anubis Gates to my tbr list, so we'll see how it goes from there. Thanks!

Apr 17, 2012, 12:06am Top

You are entirely welcome. Happy to spread the love. Sorry about the babbling. :)

Apr 17, 2012, 7:36am Top

No need to apologize, it was interesting. It's just my policy to only add one book by a new author to my tbr list at a time, otherwise I'll get totally overwhelmed :D

Apr 17, 2012, 8:23am Top

>176 bluesalamanders: I have that policy, too.

Apr 17, 2012, 8:40am Top

That's a very sensible policy. I add whole series at a time and then wonder why my list is 25 pages long. :)

Apr 17, 2012, 8:40am Top

>155 bluesalamanders:: But but but... that's part of the unicorn mythos! Hmm... I have this one sitting around and I've had high hopes for it. *eyes book nervously*

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 8:56am Top

177 norabelle414 - Good, isn't it?

178 beserene - I used to add whatever book I heard of by an author first, or several books in a series, or....now I make sure I've added the first book in a series (I went through my tbr list and found a lot of second and third books) and hopefully only one per author, unless there's a specific reason I want to add another book, I guess. I also started adding "where I heard about this" in the private comments, because I had tons of books on my list that I had no idea why they were there and they didn't sound very interesting anymore, although they must have at some point...

179 dk_phoenix - Sure, and when the book is set in the mythical 1400s, I can dig it. But when the book is set now, and they're trying to be at least somewhat scientific about that mythos, the whole virgin thing is disturbing. And it's what half the book is about. I can give you a few more specific reasons, if you don't mind spoilers, but anyway, I could have done without that part of the mythos. It's not like it has to stay true-to-life or anything. She could have figured a way around it.

Apr 17, 2012, 8:04pm Top

*waving* at Blue

Apr 17, 2012, 9:13pm Top

>180 bluesalamanders:: Very wise on both counts. Just the other day I ran across some books on my list and wondered how the heck they had got there, as neither seemed particularly intriguing. Notes! Brilliant idea! That would solve the trouble.

Apr 18, 2012, 5:29am Top

181 alcottacre - *waves*

182 beserene - Exactly! So now I put things like "rec'd by sister" or "good review by beserene here" with a link to remind myself why I'm adding it.

Apr 18, 2012, 2:24pm Top

Finished Book 38: Smoke and Shadows by Tanya Huff
Smoke trilogy, book 1
Adult, Fantasy, 396p

Light, fun urban fantasy.

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 2:34pm Top

Finished Book 39: Smoke and Ashes by Tanya Huff
Smoke series, Book 3
Adult, Fantasy, 407p

Ditto above. I was reading a Star Trek novel by Diane Duane but it got a little to technical for me (how sad is that?) and I decided to fall back on some old favorites instead.

Edited: Apr 22, 2012, 11:26am Top

Finished Book 40: Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper, book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, 563 pages

Terrier is a fun, fast-paced story about Beka Cooper, a former street urchin who is training for Dog (police) work. It's set several hundred years before the other Tortall books.

The book is set up as Beka's journal but reads like a first-person novel, and as with many of Pierce's heroines, Beka has special features and abilities which help her on her chosen path (icy blue eyes that people find disconcerting, magical talents that are useful and unique). It's an enjoyable book, though not without flaws, and a good set-up for the excellent sequels.

40 / 150 books. 27% done.
19 / 75 *new books. 25% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
11602 / 30000 pages. 39% done.
Audiobooks: 1d18h36m

Edited: Apr 23, 2012, 7:39am Top

Finished Book 41: *Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 544 pages

I wish I could write a comprehensive review of this, but my brain has been in a fog recently (no, er, irony intended). What I will say is that Bitterblue is a fantastic book, every bit as good as Graceling and Fire and possibly surpassing them both.

Apr 22, 2012, 11:22pm Top

I'll second the recommendation for Anubis Gates. And now I'm looking forward to Bitterblue!

Apr 22, 2012, 11:23pm Top

I have to read the Cashore books before too long--I've had Graceling in my tbr pile for quite a while.

Apr 25, 2012, 7:04am Top

Finished Book 42: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 538p

As much as Keladry (Protector of the Small) is still my favorite Pierce heroine, the Beka Cooper trilogy is certainly Pierce's best work to date. Bloodhound is well-written with believable and interesting characters, a strong and intriguing plot, magic used occasionally and not as a constant crutch - and Pierce is not afraid to put characters in real, even deadly danger as fits the plot and setting.

I do have two minor technical issues with the book. The first is that, as with Terrier, Bloodhound is supposedly a journal but reads like a first-person novel. This doesn't really detract much from the book, though. The second is to do with the counterfeit coins. The way it's implied that they're made wouldn't work, and also no "silver paint" could match real silver well enough to fool suspicious people. The latter probably wouldn't have bothered me as much if I wasn't so impressed with how Pierce handled metalworking in the Circle series.

Those two things aside, I thoroughly enjoy this book and recommend the series to anyone who likes a fun fantasy read with a bit of crime drama mixed in.

Edited: Apr 25, 2012, 9:22pm Top

Finished Book 43: *Shay's Story by Scott Westerfeld
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Graphic Novel, 208p

Shay's Story takes place parallel to Uglies, telling the same story from a different perspective. Most of it is simply filling in details behind broad strokes that we already know, such as how Shay first meets david and why she didn't go to Smoke the first time. Interesting, but not vital plot detail.

Shay doesn't look great in this book. In the novels, she's seen as a leader, strong and sure of herself and what she wants. In Shay's Story she is whiny, pushy, a hanger-on, even in some of the crossover scenes that are in both books.

The art is fine, but not amazing and possibly not the best match for this story. The wide-eyed style of the faces rather undermined the Ugly/Pretty juxtaposition, especially in a medium where everyone is already generally drawn as Pretty (especially women). Mostly the Uglies just look young and the Pretties look older, even when they are the same age. Faces aside, it was a very dynamic style of art, which is important in an Uglies story where everyone is hoverboarding here and there and running and hiding and doing tricks constantly.

Overall I enjoyed Shay's Story but I would recommend it only to dedicated Uglies fans.

Edited: Apr 25, 2012, 9:33pm Top

Finished Book 44: *Starters by Lissa Price
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 335p

The vaccine was given to the most vulnerable - the very old (Enders) and the very young (Starters). Everyone else died. But that was a year ago. Now Callie, not only a Starter but an unclaimed minor with no Enders to look out for her, is desperate for money to pay for her brother's medical care. The easiest way to get that kind of cash is to go to the body bank, to let an Ender control her body for a day, a week, a month.

Starters was creepy and unsettling from the beginning and constantly kept me (and Callie) off-balance. Who can Callie trust? What is really going on? Who is real and who is a "renter" riding someone else's body? The idea isn't new, but Price puts it into a new context and does an excellent job at it. Many things are ambiguous right up until the end of the book, leaving a clear setup for a sequel I will be eager to read.

Apr 25, 2012, 8:32am Top

I've made a note of Starters for my son. It looks just his sort of thing.

Edited: Apr 26, 2012, 7:41am Top

Finished Book 45: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 608p

The only thing that bothers me in this one (except, ok, it still really doesn't at all read like a journal) is that the new nickname "Mastiff" comes out of nowhere. Surely there could have been a better way to work the title into the story.

But wow, is that a minor complaint, or what? I can't say this is my favorite book in the trilogy - that's Bloodhound, even with the flaws - but it is a fitting end to a wonderful trilogy.

45 / 150 books. 30% done.
22 / 75 *new books. 29% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
13835 / 30000 pages. 46% done.
Audiobooks: 1d18h36m

May 2, 2012, 5:57pm Top

April Round-Up

17 books finished totaling 5278 pages and 0h0m
0 abandoned book

8 YA
9 Adult

8 Fantasy
8 Science Fiction
1 Fiction
0 Non-Fiction

8 Dead Tree Novel
1 Graphic Novel
8 eBook
0 Audiobook

Author/Editor gender:
17 female
2 male

New or Old:
9 new reads
8 rereads

May 3, 2012, 6:22pm Top

>194 bluesalamanders: I'm glad to see you enjoyed Mastiff, as I have yet to read it. The diary format sometimes didn't work to me in that series; I thought it often felt like the story was being forced into it, with dates reordered in Bloodhound and everything so that we'd get the story in order... But they're fun books, and I liked the first two.

May 4, 2012, 7:54am Top

196 bell7 - I pretty much ignored the diary/journal aspect in the whole series, because I think that was a failed experiment on Pierce's part. I still think however that they're the best books she's written to date, even given that. The writing, the plot and characters, it all somehow seems more mature (or something) than her other books.

May 11, 2012, 8:18am Top

Finished Book 46: Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness, book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, 231p

A young noblewoman disguises herself as a boy in order to learn to be a knight.

While Alanna (like most of Pierce's characters) is a little too perfect to be really believable, her story is fun, she and her friends are endearing, and Pierce does excellent worldbuilding around them all. Strong female characters are Pierce's specialty and Alanna is certainly that.

May 11, 2012, 8:28am Top

Finished Book 47: In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 240p

Edited: May 11, 2012, 3:15pm Top

Finished during the Drop-In READ-A-THON:

Finished Book 48: *The cat who had 60 whiskers by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Cat Who, book 29
Adult, Mystery, 228p

Possibly the worst book in the series. Choppy, dull, and sorely lacking in both cats and plot. Not recommended, even for fans. It was a struggle to finish it.

May 11, 2012, 11:27am Top

#200 -- I agree with that! I'm thinking about doing a Cat Who... reread this summer, but I'm trying to decide where to stop. I'm pretty sure I won't bother with the last few books. Guess I'll read until I get tired of them!

May 11, 2012, 3:12pm Top

21 foggidawn - So I was going through my library and I haven't reviewed or rated all that many of them, but the reviews before #17 are pretty good and after #17 it all goes downhill. Just saying :)

Edited: May 13, 2012, 7:29am Top

Finished during the Drop-In READ-A-THON:

Finished Book 49: *Wings of Omen edited by Robert Lynn Asprin and Lyn Abbey
Thieves World, book 6
Adult, Fantasy, Anthology, 277p

I got this book because it includes a short story by Diane Duane, but I didn't like most of the stories in it, including hers. The only one I liked was the final story, A fish with feathers is out of his depth by Robert Lynn Asprin, which made me laugh.

Edited: May 13, 2012, 7:29am Top

Finished during the Drop-In READ-A-THON:

Finished Book 50: Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Adult, Fantasy, 405p

Sunshine is a reluctant heroine who would rather bake cinnamon rolls than kill vampires.

The world McKinley creates for her is so fascinating (and terrifying) that I love reading about it and learning all the snippets of information that come up along with the story - what different kinds of demons are like (physically and socially), how using magic can effect the user, how Sunshine started baking in the first place. These details make the world a more solid and interesting place for the characters to inhabit.

It goes without saying that I love McKinley's style. It was her wonderful prose and great female protagonists that drew me to her books from the start, and this is no exception. Sunshine has become one of my favorite books, and each time I read it I get something else out of it.

50 / 150 books. 33% done.
24 / 75 *new books. 32% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
15219 / 30000 pages. 51% done.
Audiobooks: 1d18h36m

May 12, 2012, 12:04am Top

Sunshine is a favorite of mine as well.

May 12, 2012, 6:50am Top

I always like to hear that, roni :)

May 12, 2012, 4:01pm Top

I also love Sunshine, though it has been quite a while since I read it. Hmmm... perhaps a McKinley marathon is in my future.

May 12, 2012, 6:19pm Top

207 beserene - Sunshine is one of my standard "I can't figure out what to read, so I'll read this" books (along with many of McKinley's books, actually) so I read it all the time. It holds up well to multiple rereads, in my experience.

Edited: May 14, 2012, 7:43am Top

Finished during the Drop-In READ-A-THON:

Finished Book 51: The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 253p

After achieving her knighthood and defeating a great enemy, Alanna leaves the palace and her friends to search for who she is and where she belongs.

The third book in this series introduces still more new people and challenges to this growing character. She learns diplomacy and teaching, gains the respect of another race of people, becomes more comfortable being openly female, and generally has more interpersonal rather than warrior-related adventures. Another enjoyable story.

May 14, 2012, 1:11am Top

I always loved that series of Pierce's. :)

May 14, 2012, 7:44am Top

While I think some of her more recent work is much better written, I've had those books since I was about 13, so it has a certain nostalgia that new books just can't compete with :)

May 14, 2012, 6:54pm Top

The last few in the Cat Who series were definitely disappointing. It was one of my favorite series for a long time though.

May 17, 2012, 12:23pm Top

Finished Book 52: Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness, book 4
Young Adult, Fantasy, 320p

Alanna goes on a quest, determined to prove to everyone (including herself) that she is worthy of her shield. When she returns, great changes have occurred and she is tested even more.

Lioness Rampant is the strongest book in this series.

May 20, 2012, 9:19pm Top

Finished Book 53: Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
The Immortals, book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, 384p

Even in a world filled with magic, Daine Sarrasi's gift with animals stands out - and between her unusual gift and having to hide the secrets from her past, it's easier for her to connect with animals than people. It takes time (and some gentle and not-so-gentle coaxing from friends and mentors) for Daine to come to trust her new acquaintances.

I enjoy these books and always like the strong women characters that Pierce writes. Sometimes, however, she repeats something in a story so often that it becomes less like a hint and more like a sledgehammer. Fewer - or more subtle - mentions of how Daine can't trust these new people with her secret because they'd surely hate her would have been just as effective, if not more so. But that aside, it's a good story and a fun, easy read.

May 20, 2012, 9:22pm Top

Finished Book 54: Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce
The Immortals, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 344p

Daine's wolf pack from her former home asks her to talk to the humans in their new territory about the destruction of the land, the water, and the hunting grounds in the new valley they have moved to. But it turns out that the situation is much different - much worse - than anyone could have guessed.

Wolf-Speaker is a lovely Tortall book. Although the main characters are (as usual in Pierce's books) just a touch too good to be true, Daine makes mistakes and grows and learns throughout the story, and interacts wonderfully with the secondary characters. I particularly like Maura, a young noblewoman who is terrified but brave, and Tkaa, one of the immortals that Daine meets and befriends.

May 20, 2012, 9:25pm Top

Finished Book 55: Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock
Griffin and Sabine trilogy, book 1
Adult, Fantasy, 48p

Finished Book 56: Sabine's Notebook by Nick Bantock
Griffin and Sabine trilogy, book 2
Adult, Fantasy, 48p

Finished Book 57: The Golden Mean by Nick Bantock
Griffin and Sabine trilogy, book 3
Adult, Fantasy, 48p

57 / 150 books. 38% done.
24 / 75 *new books. 32% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
16664 / 30000 pages. 56% done.
Audiobooks: 1d18h36m

May 20, 2012, 10:55pm Top

The Sabine trilogy was cool, but I remember not being satisfied with the ending...

May 21, 2012, 1:41pm Top

Yeah, I don't love the end. But I love the rest of them enough that it doesn't bother me overly.

May 22, 2012, 9:43pm Top

Finished Book 58: Emporer Mage by Tamora Pierce
The Immortals, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 358p

Finished Book 59: Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
The Immortals, book 4
Young Adult, Fantasy, 368p

May 22, 2012, 10:14pm Top

So are you continuing on? And if so, with Keladry or with Aly next?

May 23, 2012, 12:06am Top

No, I think I'm done for now. I don't particularly like Aly's books and I don't feel like reading Kel's. I've started a book that a friend lent me, some kind of space opera I think.

May 27, 2012, 1:23am Top

Finished Book 60: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, read by Karen Savage
Young Adult, Fiction, Audiobook, 8h24m
(Free on youtube from ccprose)

Finished Book 61: Fire by Kristin Cashore, read by Xanthe Elbrick
Young Adult, Fantasy, Audiobook, 12h40m

61 / 150 books. 41% done.
24 / 75 *new books. 32% done.
1 / 5 ^non-fiction. 20% done.
16664 / 30000 pages. 56% done.
Audiobooks: 2d15h40m

Edited: Jun 2, 2012, 9:47am Top

Finished Book 62: *Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Allison Goodman, read by Nancy Wu
Young Adult, Fantasy, Audiobook, 14h41m

Set in the ancient Orient, Eon (nee Eona) is disguised as a boy and entered in the competition to be chosen as the next Dragoneye. Normally with her permanent limp she never would have been accepted, but her rare ability to see into the spirit world is more important, and the prejudice against handicapped people means nobody will get close enough to discover her secret.

Eona is thrust into one impossible situation after another and she really messes up a lot.

There are a lot of interesting and unusual characters in this book. One of the major characters is transgender and both the main character and an important minor character are handicapped. There's a lot of prejudice against all of them, not to mention the general prejudice against women that causes Eona to disguise herself as a boy in the first place. And then the setting allows for a whole subgroup of characters who are eunuchs.

It's certainly not the best book I've ever read, but it was interesting and the unusual characters didn't seem like "tokenism". I liked it and I think I'll read (or probably listen to) the sequels, but not right away.

Edited: Jun 2, 2012, 9:52am Top

May Round-Up

17 books finished totaling 3299 pages and 35h44m
0 abandoned book

11 YA
6 Adult

15 Fantasy
0 Science Fiction
2 Fiction
0 Non-Fiction

14 Dead Tree Novel
0 Graphic Novel
0 eBook
3 Audiobook

Author/Editor gender:
14 female
4 male

New or Old:
3 new reads
14 rereads

Jun 2, 2012, 9:48am Top

Hi bluesalamanders! I've been wanting to stop in for a long time to tell you how much I like your username. The image always makes me smile :0)

Jun 2, 2012, 9:53am Top

Thanks! I picked it ages ago, before I knew that there actually are blue-spotted salamanders (but it's long enough already, I don't think I could have gone with bluespottedsalamanders ;).

Jun 5, 2012, 11:29am Top

Finished Book 63: The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley
Young Adult, Fiction, 278p

A fun story that is, as McKinley puts it in the afterword, "historically unembarrassing". I enjoy reading about the doubtful Robin, a Robin who worries more about keeping his people fed than tormenting the Sheriff of Nottingham. The second half of the book concentrates on another member of Robin's band, and so we see a different perspective of Robin and, at the end, of the sheriff and the king - a slightly less dire view, since that member has no price on their head.

It's a new take on an old story, the characters are interesting and fun to read about, and the writing is McKinley's typical good storytelling.

Edited: Jun 5, 2012, 11:32am Top

Abandoned book: Soulbound by Heather Brewer
LibraryThing Early Reviewer

Kaya's parents fell in love and deserted the war effort to be together. Kaya is forced to leave her home and train to participate in the war herself in order to save her parents from punishment.

I didn't finish this book; I put it aside after about 100 pages. From the start I had a hard time getting into it. The writing is weak, and the unbelievable, inconsistent dialogue and odd phrasing kept knocking me out of the story. The characters are dull and predictable. It's blindingly obvious that there's going to be a love triangle with the hot nice guy and the mysterious guy with a chip on his shoulder (if there had to be a love triangle, why not with the hot nice guy and the friendly female bodyguard, and ignore the jerk altogether?). It was all just so boring.

Jun 5, 2012, 2:02pm Top

#227 -- I love The Outlaws of Sherwood, but I know some McKinley fans do not. I think it may be that I didn't have any prior loyalty to any specific version of Robin Hood (other than, perhaps, the Disney version). I do like seeing a less cocky and arrogant Robin, and I just love so many of the secondary characters -- Friar Tuck and his dogs, and Alan-a-dale and Marjorie (though Alan would annoy me in person, I think, nearly as much as he annoys Little John), and Cecil, and Much . . . gee, now I want to reread it again.

Edited: Jun 5, 2012, 11:13pm Top

Finished Book 64: ^*Two Whole Cakes: how to stop dieting and learn to love your body by Lesley Kinzel
Adult, Non-Fiction, 164p

I don't usually read memoirs, but I enjoy Kinzel's blog (also titled Two Whole Cakes) and her occasionally-updated podcast, and the subject of fat acceptance is interesting and important to me. This book details Kinzel's journey from a slightly-larger-than-average teen mired in diet culture to the wonderfully self-assured and outspoken advocate for fat acceptance that she is today. She also touches on current issues such as the so-called obesity epidemic, the First Lady's Let's Move campaign, fat fashion, and healthcare.

Kinzel packs a huge amount of history and information into such a short book. The informal prose makes it easy to read, although some of the ideas may be difficult for anyone not already involved in the FA movement to absorb or accept immediately. I could wish there were citations for quotations and facts, but it's a memoir, not a scholarly work. Overall, it's a great book and well worth reading.

Jun 5, 2012, 11:10pm Top

229 foggidawn - I agree, Alan would annoy me, too. Marjorie, on the other hand...but McKinley almost always makes her female characters strong in one way or another.

I love that Robin spends all his time worrying about taking care of his people and how it was not his idea to become the symbol to the downtrodden Saxons at all.

Jun 11, 2012, 7:47am Top

Finished Book 65: A Knot in the Grain by Robin McKinley
Young Adult, Fantasy, short stories, 192 pages

I like this better than Door in the Hedge (another anthology of Mckinley's short stories) - the stories here are more concrete, the characters are more realistic and easier to relate to.

The Healer
This takes place in Damar.
This may be my favorite story in a book where I like them all. It's about Lily, a girl who is born without the ability to speak. She has the Gift of healing and earns her place in the village and countryside where she grows up, but she can never forget what she doesn't have. Everything changes, however, when she meets a mage who can mindspeak.

The Stagman
This is also set in Damar.
Ruen's parents died when she was a baby and her uncle is to be Regent until she is of age, but of course he doesn't want to give up the power. Instead of just sending her away, he leaves her to die at the hands of a monster, who instead saves her and brings her to find her destiny. Ruen frustrates me, because she's so totally passive most of the time, but given her upbringing I guess it makes sense. I do like the end, though.

Touk's House
Erana is adopted by a witch and grows up with her and her half-troll son Touk. She has to go away before she can realize what she had there to return to. I like Erana, she's smart and persistent.

Another one of my favorites, I read this story in a new way after reading recently how McKinley and her husband met. Pos's first wife died years ago and he never considered marrying again until he met Coral, a young woman new to the town. Then he began to doubt, as the difference in their ages and his lack of wealth made him more and more uncomfortable. What happens when a most unusual disaster strikes - and who caused it?

A Knot in the Grain
I like this story, but it is a contemporary fantasy and that always seems a little odd coming after four high fantasy tales. Anabelle's family moves the summer before her junior year of high school and, partly as a protest, she picks the attic to be her new bedroom. Something happens that even she doesn't expect, though, when she finds the knot in the grain.

65 / 150 books. 43% done.
26 / 75 *new books. 35% done.
2 / 5 ^non-fiction. 40% done.
17298 / 30000 pages. 58% done.
Audiobooks: 3d6h21m

Jun 11, 2012, 8:56am Top

#232 -- Pretty much my exact thoughts on that short story collection. I'll bet you've noticed, as well, that Lily gets a passing mention in The Hero and the Crown?

Jun 11, 2012, 8:57am Top

Does she? No, I don't remember, where is that?

Edited: Sep 25, 2012, 8:38am Top

Finished Book 66: *Alias: Recruited by Lynn Mason
Alias prequel series, book 1
Young Adult, Fiction, 211p

I always enjoyed the tv show Alias, so when I picked up some tie-in novels for my sister, I decided to read them before sending them to her. Recruited tells the story of how Sydney Bristow, exemplary student but shy and withdrawn, first joins SD-6, covert branch of the CIA. Some well-known characters from the show appear, including Francie, Jack, Sloan, and a cameo by Dixon.

Recruited certainly isn't the best tie-in novel I've ever read; Sydney is depicted as a little too immature and socially awkward at the start and grows up unrealistically fast once she joins the agency. However, it's a quick read and for fans of the tv show, a fun way to visit old friends.

Jun 11, 2012, 9:21am Top

#234 -- It's when Aerin is at Luthe's for healing. Luthe says something like, "Apparently, I can't even get a simple sleeping draught right. Lily would be ashamed of me."

Jun 11, 2012, 10:02am Top

I do remember that now, but I always thought it was a reference to Aerin's mother. Maybe I never read A Knot in the Grain and the Hero and the Crown right next to each other? That's great, though!

Edited: Sep 25, 2012, 8:38am Top

Finished Book 67: *Alias: A Secret Life by Laura Peyton Roberts
Alias prequel series, book 2
Young Adult, Fiction, 203p

Sydney is sent on her first official mission, yanked out of her normal life to go to Paris and surveil a suspected K-Directorate operation with Noah Hicks.

I don't think Roberts saw the same Alias that I saw. From the start of the book, nothing seemed quite right: SD-6 sent Sydney on a mission with no knowledge about what she was going to do. Sydney was over-the-top ignorant and naive. Noah was completely out of character; in the show, he has a temper, sure, but he fights authority, he isn't a bully. I started cringing every time he had dialogue.

The best part was the very end, the last three pages, though it's not so amazing as to be worth the rest of it. On the up side, the book only took about two hours to read.

Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 11:10am Top

Finished Book 68: *Alias: Replaced by Emma Harrison
The APO Series, book 4
Young Adult, Fiction, 276p

Sydney botches a mission and Weiss pays the price, becoming infected with a deadly bio-weapon. Can the team fine the vaccine before it's too late, or will Sydney's rivalry with her sister cost Weiss his life?

There would have been a little more tension in this book if they hadn't infected a main character from the tv show. Also, a vaccine doesn't do much good after you're already infected, does it? Shouldn't they have been searching for an antidote or cure? Oh, well. Regardless, it was a fast-paced, exciting book that had some actual character development between the fights and spy stuff. Everyone was more-or-less in character. Replaced is certainly the best of the Alias tie-ins I've read thus far.

Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 10:51am Top

Finished Book 69: *Redshirts by John Scalzi
Adult, Science Fiction, 314p

This was a birthday gift from my sister. (I love my sister!)

Ensign Andrew Dahl has been assigned to the Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union. He's thrilled, until he starts noticing strange things, like how everyone tries to avoid going on away missions and how on those away missions, someone always dies horribly - but always someone of lower rank. Never the Captain or his three top officers.

This book is amazing. Scalzi is lovingly poking fun at classic sci-fi television, making Redshirts a light and funny read. It is full of characters who are easy to care about put in situations that may not be believable but are at least entertaining to read about. The three codas bring the story to an unsurprising but nonetheless wonderful conclusion. Highly recommended.

Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 10:58am Top

Finished Book 70: *Lifelode by Jo Walton
Adult, Fantasy, 271p

A scholar comes to Applekirk from the West. An ancestor comes home from her travels in the East. Their presence shakes up the village more than anyone could have imagined.

The worldbuilding is intriguing - time runs quicker in the East and slower in the West, which effects how one's mind works and how yeya (magic) functions. The gods are in the East, where yeya is most powerful and thoughts run quickest. Applekirk is somewhere in the middle. It's accepted that if someone travels east or west, a different amount of time will pass for them as passes at home.

Lifelode seems to mean a calling. For some characters, their lifelode is farming, or pottery, or yeya, and to be kept from one's lifelode is a terrible burden. Despite that being the title of the book, it isn't delved into as deeply as you might expect.

Relationships, love, and sex are dealt with in interesting ways. Marriage is as much about politics and inheritance as about love, and it's no dishonor or insult to fall in love with someone else, so a person can have relationships (fleeting or serious) with as many or as few people as they like, as long as everyone involved agrees. It's very idealistic, viewed from our culture. Although when the agreements are forgotten or ignored, then problems ensue.

It takes time for this story to get going. The first third or half of the book is introducing characters and setting the stage for what happens in the rest, and some of it seems unnecessary, particularly the very beginning and end, when characters are discussing writing a book about the events that happen - in the book. But it is an well-written book with loads of interesting characters. Overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

70 / 150 books. 47% done.
31 / 75 *new books. 41% done.
2 / 5 ^non-fiction. 40% done.
18573 / 30000 pages. 62% done.
Audiobooks: 3d6h21m

Jun 14, 2012, 12:30pm Top

So, this means you are just 5 books away from 75 books, eh? That is cool! And it is not 50% of the year yet, either.

Jun 14, 2012, 12:50pm Top

Yeah! Looks like July 1 is mid-year. I may or may not make it to 75 by then, but it's not out of the realm of possibility (and would be great since my goal is twice that).

Edited: Jun 14, 2012, 9:17pm Top

Finished Book 71: *Will Super Villains Be On The Final? by Naomi Novik
Liberty Vocational, v1
Young Adult, Graphic Novel, 162p

Leah's parents are thrilled when she's accepted to Liberty Vocational, a prestigious college for young superheroes. Unfortunately as soon as the school year begins, everything starts going wrong.

I picked it up because I like Naomi Novik, not because I'm especially interested in superheroes or manga. It's a cute story with cute characters and cute art (manga really isn't my favorite style). I'll read the other books in the series if I run across them, but I won't go out of my way.

Edited: Jun 22, 2012, 7:46am Top

Finished Book 72: Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede
Young Adult, Fantasy, 280p

Finished Book 73: *White Tiger: A Hero's Compulsion by Tamora Pierce and Timothy Liebe
Adult, Graphic Novel, 152p

Jun 25, 2012, 5:58pm Top

Finished Book 74: Magician's Ward by Patricia C. Wrede
Young Adult, Fantasy, 288p

Finished Book 75: Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Young Adult, Fantasy, 316p

I didn't love Sorcery & Cecelia the first time I read it, because I was expecting it to be more like Magician's Ward and I was disappointed when it wasn't. But upon rereading it for its own merits, I quite enjoy it. The characters are engaging, the plot is entertaining, and it's overall just a fun book.

75 / 150 books. 50% done.
33 / 75 *new books. 44% done.
2 / 5 ^non-fiction. 40% done.
19771 / 30000 pages. 66% done.
Audiobooks: 3d6h21m

Jun 25, 2012, 6:34pm Top

Congrats on hitting 75! That's awesome.

Jun 25, 2012, 10:11pm Top


Jun 25, 2012, 10:37pm Top

Woo hoo! Congratulations on reaching the 75 book mark!

Now see, I was disappointed in the Mairelon books the first time because they weren't more like the Lyra books. I got over it.

Jun 26, 2012, 6:29am Top

Thanks, leah! Thanks, newt! Thanks, roni!

I thought I'd read one of the Lyra books, but looking again it doesn't seem like I've read any of them. Clearly I need to rectify that...

Edited: Jul 1, 2012, 5:56am Top

whoops, had this thread open for reference and accidentally posted here instead of the new one!

This topic was continued by bluesalamanders 2012.2.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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