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Narilka reads in 2018

This is a continuation of the topic Narilka reads in 2017 - Part 2.

This topic was continued by Narilka reads in 2018 - Part 2.

The Green Dragon

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Edited: May 8, 1:13pm Top

Happy New Year! 2017 was a fantastic year of reading, I can't wait to see what 2018 brings. Again I am participating in two challenges, which will have their own posts in this thread for tracking. I review every book I read and love hearing what others thought of the same book. There is nothing worse than finishing a great book and having no one to chat with about it!

An IT project manager by day and an avid fantasy and scifi reader by night, with other genres thrown in on occasion for variety. I primarily read for enjoyment so rate my books that way.

2017 reading log part 1: https://www.librarything.com/topic/245150
2017 reading log part 2: https://www.librarything.com/topic/266288

My Rating System
- Absolutely horrible, don't bother

- Meh, I finished the book somehow but would not recommend it

- An entertaining read

- Highly enjoyable, I would probably recommend this book

- Excellent! The book may not be perfect but it was perfect for me. Possibly a new favorite.

A half star is given for a book that falls between those categories.

Currently Reading

Listening To

Books Read in 2018
1. Demon Lord of Karanda by David Eddings
2. Sorceress of Darshiva by David Eddings
3. The Seeress of Kell by David Eddings
4. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
5. You Die When You Die by Angus West
6. Origin by Dan Brown
7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
8. The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham
9. Glitches by Marissa Meyer
10. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
11. Hammered by Kevin Hearne
12. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
13. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
14. The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer
15. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
16. Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron
17. Cress by Marissa Meyer
18. In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett
19. I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships by Michael S. Sorensen
20. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
21. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
22. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
23. The Fold by Peter Clines
24. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
25. Fairest by Marissa Meyer
26. The Cat, the Mill and the Murder by Leann Sweeney
27. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
28. The Tyrant's Law Daniel Abraham
29. I Can't Make This Up by Kevin Hart
30. Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews
31. The Widow's House by Daniel Abraham
32. On The Edge by Ilona Andrews

Fun Stats
Books Read: 32
Total Pages Read: 9621
Audio Book Hours: 61h 43m
Rereads: 4
TBR Challenge: 7/12
2018 Category Challenge: 13/50

Edited: Apr 9, 9:11pm Top

TBR Challenge
This is a challenge to read more from my TBR pile this year. Pick 12 books that I've been meaning to read and add them to the list. Try to finish one a month. I've done Primary and Secondary lists in case something in the Primary list just isn't working for me. This year's primary theme is called "Let's clean up my desk!" I have a bad habit of putting books I want to read "soon" on the shelves of my desk and then choosing something else to read instead. My desk has a nice collection built up. I'm hoping this will motivate me to push through some of my desk stacks and then I can shelve them where they belong. My secondary list will be carry overs from previous challenges and anything else I feel like mixing in from my TBR.


Mission: Desk Cleanup
1. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett (Discworld 23 of 41|Witches 6 of 6) Completed 4/5/18
2. The Cat, the Mill and the Murder by Leann Sweeney (Cats in Trouble 5 of 8) Completed 4/9/18
3. Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (Hunter 1 of 3)
4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles 1 of 4) Completed 2/1/18
5. Chosen Forever by Susan Richards
6. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen (The Shadow 1 of 4 planned) Completed 1/20/18
7. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch* (Gentleman Bastards 3 of 7 planned)
8. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels 4 of 10) Completed 2/17/18
9. The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman
10. A Cat Named Darwin by William Jordan
11. The Gunslinger by Stephen King (The Dark Tower 1 of 8)
12. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (Temeraire 2 of 9)

Mission: Even More TBR
1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown* (Red Rising 1 of 3)
2. Wool by Hugh Howey* (Silo 1 of 3)
3. Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh* (Foreigner 1 of 19)
4. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown*
5. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson*
6. Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
7. In Calabria by Peter S Beagle
8. Goldenhand by Garth Nix (Abhorsen 5 of 5)
9. The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
11. In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett Completed 3/14/18
12. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows 1 of 2) Completed 3/21/18

*Carried over from a prior TBR challenge.

Edited: May 7, 11:58am Top

2018 Popsugar Category Reading Challenge
This is a challenge I'm participating in a group on Good Reads. Looks like it may be interesting. If anyone else thinks this would be fun feel free to copy/paste this into your own thread and see how you do! I'm going to see how close I can come this year to completing the list though do not expect to finish. Some of these will be challenging.

- Books must be started and finished in 2018
- One book can count for a maximum of two categories
- You can join in at any point in the year and the books you have already read can count towards the challenge
- Graphic novels count
- No minimum page count (unless the category states)



1. A book made into a movie you've already seen
2. True Crime
3. The next book in a series you started Sorceress of Darshiva Book 4 of The Malloreon
4. A book involving a heist Six of Crows
5. Nordic noir
6. A novel based on a real person In Such Good Company
7. A book set in a country that fascinates you
8. A book with a time of day in the title
9. A book about a villain or antihero
10. A book about death or grief
11. A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym
12. A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist Wake of Vultures
13. A book that is also a stage play or musical
14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you I Can't Make This Up
15. A book about feminism
16. A book about mental health
17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift Magic Bleeds
18. A book by two authors
19. A book about or involving a sport
20. A book by a local author Last Dragon Standing
21. A book with your favorite color in the title
22. A book with alliteration in the title
23. A book about time travel
24. A book with a weather element in the title
25. A book set at sea
26. A book with an animal in the title
27. A book set on a different planet All Systems Red
28. A book with song lyrics in the title
29. A book about or set on Halloween
30. A book with characters who are twins
31. A book mentioned in another book
32. A book from a celebrity book club Burn For Me (Felicia Day's Vaginal Fantasy Book Club)
33. A childhood classic you've never read
34. A book that's published in 2018
35. A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner
36. A book set in the decade you were born
37. A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn't get to Cinder
38. A book with an ugly cover Altered Carbon
39. A book that involves a bookstore or library
40. Your favorite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges Hammered for last year's audio book prompt


1. A bestseller from the year you graduated high school
2. A cyberpunk book Altered Carbon
3. A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place
4. A book tied to your ancestry
5. A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title
6. An allegory
7. A book by an author with the same first or last name as you
8. A microhistory
9. A book about a problem facing society today
10. A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Dec 31, 2017, 1:26pm Top

I really like that when someone starts a continuation thread that our "star" stays with the new thread...

Dec 31, 2017, 1:34pm Top

Yeah, it's a super handy feature on LT.

Dec 31, 2017, 1:51pm Top

>3 Narilka: Although I don’t participate in them myself, I always like watching people do those sorts of challenges and seeing what books they assign to the different categories. Based on what you said in your 2017 thread, you should find #3 easy! :)

Dec 31, 2017, 2:19pm Top

>6 YouKneeK: Definitely :) I have ideas for about half of them so it will be interesting to see what reality brings over the next year.

Dec 31, 2017, 2:51pm Top

LOL about your desk piles. That sounds very like the table sitting by my reading chair.

Dec 31, 2017, 4:36pm Top

Happy New Year. Wishing you great and rewarding reading.

Jan 1, 10:34am Top

>2 Narilka: I have a bad habit of putting books I want to read "soon" on the shelves of my desk and then choosing something else to read instead.

Sounds very familiar. Good luck with shifting your reading options! I'd certainly be interested in hearing your thoughts on some of those titles by Scott Lynch, Naomi Novik, and Mercedes Lackey

Jan 1, 11:36am Top

There're are a few books in your TBR challenge that I'm hoping to get to too. I'm looking forward to what you think of them!

Jan 1, 12:51pm Top

Good luck with all your challenge books - may you find many to keep you enjoying the challenges. May 2018 be a wonderful year for you.

Jan 1, 1:37pm Top

Following...happy reading in 2018!

Jan 1, 4:22pm Top

Thanks for the well wishes everyone!

Jan 2, 8:30pm Top

Non-book stuff. Skip this post if you don't want some RL whining.

Had my first day at the outsourced company today. It sucked. Nothing worked and I spent many hours on the phone with an unhelpful help desk. I may have to work out of webmail instead of Outlook for a while. This is going to drive me absolutely nuts. I think it's time to look for a new job.

Has anyone done a job search in the last year? Any tips? I feel overwhelmed by the options online these days. I've already reached out to my contacts to network, just want to get another avenue going at the same time. I haven't had to look in over 8 years now.

Jan 2, 10:08pm Top

>15 Narilka: I really wish I could offer advice, but I’m even less experienced with job-hunting experience (over two decades at the same company in various roles) and should probably pay close attention to any advice you do get.

Part of what has always overwhelmed me whenever I’ve considered looking outside my company is the question of whether that company would really be any better in terms of whatever it is that’s bothering me at the time, or if I would just go from bad to worse. It’s hard to get reliable info about what it’s like to work for a company unless you do have a contact on the inside, and one's own experience can vary a lot based on the hiring manager. A mostly-great company can be torture to work for if you end up with a bad manager. I had one manager for a couple years who was very closed-minded and who tended to snap at people first and ask questions never. In addition to being unpleasant to work for, her attitude created conflicts with other departments and that added to the difficult work environment.

Using webmail for an extended period of time would be torture. It’s amazing how difficult it can be to get basic computing requirements sometimes. Did you end up having to talk to multiple people at the help desk, or just one?

The help desk where I work is a mixed bag. There’s this one guy who talks in a whiny voice, acts very put-upon that anybody would expect him to help with anything, and makes random and unnecessary excuses when I’m not blaming him for anything. I just want to provide the details of my problem and get help as efficiently as possible. If he doesn’t have the knowledge necessary to help with the issue, then fine. Nobody knows everything and I’m not going to yell at him because it won’t solve my problem any faster, but I am barely going to be able to keep my temper in check if he wastes my time with 5 minutes of excuses about why he can’t and shouldn’t be able to help me with my problem. I just want him to either forward me to somebody who can help, or tell me that he’ll find the answer I need and get back with me. Whooops, that turned into a bit of a tirade, sorry! :) Some of our people are great, but there are others who leave me wondering how they’re still employed.

Jan 3, 9:15am Top

>16 YouKneeK: I basically live and die by my Outlook calendar so being forced into webmail for the foreseeable future is a deal breaker for me. I'm glad I had the forethought to cancel my meetings this week expecting issues. Today when I start my laptop it has a constant ungodly high pitched sound, similar to a fire alarm. At this point I'm pretty sure I got a bad laptop. I know it can and does happen but it's not making me feel very good about working for this global tech company especially when you consider none of this was my choice.

I spoke with a few people about the Outlook thing. One lady can use hers fine and we sat for an hour comparing settings without any luck. There's some corporate GPO or setting somewhere that's blocking me. Once my laptop finishes downloading its latest round of software I'm going to go digging. Though the sound is driving me nuts. So it's not going to be a productive day as I'll be stepping away a lot to save my ears and my sanity.

I work 100% remote. There is supposed to be an office in the very general area somewhere. I asked my manager about it and he said "Oh, the laptops come from Ohio" as if each office doesn't have an IT department that I could at least talk to. My bet is they're going to have to overnight me a new laptop and I'll get to start all over again tomorrow.

If only I didn't have bills. I was ready to rage quit yesterday. It's the first time I've been this frustrated by a job in a long, long time.

Jan 3, 12:47pm Top

>17 Narilka: Oh my. Hope things get better fast!

Jan 3, 7:24pm Top

>17 Narilka: Ouch! Did you make any further progress with it today, or did they end up requesting another laptop for you?

Jan 3, 8:31pm Top

>19 YouKneeK: Oh, it was a fun day. The "help desk" was highly unhelpful. After about 4 hours of no response from them and the noise continuing I finally reached out to my HR rep (who I'd notified earlier because she's listed as my manager at the moment) and told her that it was giving me a headache, could I get the ticket escalated. She pointed me to another guy in our dept who is good with laptops. He had a lot of things we could try so I went with the easiest one first, to reseat my battery. It worked. Then he also figured out how to make my Outlook sort of work. Had to go to a different website to generate some magic multi factor authentication password that I use instead of my real password, but Outlook kinda freaks out so I get password pop ups constantly now. However all my calendar and contacts finally imported so I'll work with it. A password popup I can ignore is infinitely preferable to webmail. Connectivity to the systems was spotty all day.

We had our first orientation over lunchtime. The first slide of real information is how insurance benefits have a 30 day wait period (WTF! I've never worked with a company that didn't start benefits day one.) which caused many many questions because apparently that requirement had been waived for us transfers and we weren't aware it was normal policy so came as a shock. It still caused panic since the presenter was from HR. At the end of orientation, she's all "That's it. Any questions? No? Ok, bye!" and exits out the presentation as fast as she could though I still had questions. I'm a pain in the ass though, I had written her name down and hit her up on Skype because I found an error in my HR profile that I couldn't edit and needed to know who to contact to fix it. (Had to make the request through one of the HR portals. Yeah, there are at least two. It will be fixed in 3-5 business days.)

These people are so siloed, even within their own departments, that it's ridiculous. And their attention to detail, esp when they've had months to prepare for us, is atrocious.

Later that afternoon I got a call back from a guy in the PC repair group. Apparently the issue I had with the noise is a known issue from the model laptop I have and he's been receiving a lot of complaints about it. It is such an issue that there's a KB article for it on Lenovo's website. The "fix" the other person helped me with today is likely to be temporary so I can expect it to happen again in the future. The permanent fix is to have Lenovo send a tech to my house and replace the motherboard. So he gave me all the info I need, phone numbers to call and what to tell the reps I get, the next time it happens so I can have a ticket opened and a tech sent. And he gave me his direct line to also call him because he's trying to make a case to stop ordering that laptop model.

After that I got tired of fighting with connectivity issues to what I was supposed to "work" on and went to go complete the new company compliance training. Something brainless to end my day of frustration, right? No. They take their compliance very seriously. The quizzes at the end of each video don't let you know what questions you miss to go rewatch those sections so even after paying attention to the video and doing the little knowledge checks successfully it took me an embarrassing amount of tries to pass the darn thing and I still have no idea where I was going wrong.

At the end of the day my prior boss from the old company, who I'd also been updating, apologized for all the trouble I've been having. So I asked if others are having issues too. Our whole networking team's laptops are also having issues and some of the transfers STILL don't have equipment yet. I cannot express how underwhelmed I am by this company. Makes me wonder how it goes for a new hire off the street instead someone who's been transferred over.

Jan 4, 6:30am Top

>20 Narilka: Wow, so much craziness! Whether you find another job or not, I hope things get more tolerable once you get through all the initial issues.

I’ve always thought my company was rather disorganized when it came to getting new employees set up and authorized to the various systems they need, but now we look like a shining example of organization and planning by comparison.

Jan 4, 8:45am Top

Ugh, sorry you are having such an awful start to the new job. Bad enough having a transfer forced upon you without all these issues on top. I sympathise with you about the compliance tests - we have to do those occasionally and ours also don't let you know which sections you failed. One of ours on data protection didn't even have the answers in the videos; we ended up searching for the information we needed online which I'm fairly sure we shouldn't have needed to do.

I hope things will improve, and that 2018 is a great year in reading, at least.

Jan 4, 12:14pm Top

I think I understand why some people blog. Writing all that out last night was cathartic.

I did an informal poll of my fellow transfers today. Everyone I spoke to is using their old laptops at the moment because the new equipment is so frustrating.

>22 Sakerfalcon: I had the same problem. I started writing down the questions and answer options, went back through the video to find the answers and not all of them were covered. I finally just started randomly picking different combos and eventually passed. They were those "select all the correct answers" type questions that can have 1-5 "right" answers.

I'm almost back to a working state. Since the new place uses Office 2010 some of the features in my Excel and Project files are broken. And I don't think I can really fix it so will likely just go without.

I found a friend with great suggestions for job searching in the modern world so now have a lot of work to do over the next few evenings to get that going.

Jan 4, 1:17pm Top

Sorry to read about your job frustrations. I guess these folks don't realize how much better it is to have employees that are happy and committed. I hope you get to a better situation one way or another.

The list in post #3 is quite interesting. I'm going to copy it and see how I do with the categories. I'm just getting started on Goodreads so I'll look for it there too.

Hope your 2018 turns out great in spite of the rough start.

Jan 4, 4:20pm Top

>24 Jim53: The group I belong to on GR is called Dragons & Jetpacks: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/106876-dragons-jetpacks - I'm sure other groups might be doing the challenge too if you search :)

Jan 4, 4:53pm Top

And thanks everyone for putting up with my whining :) I'll go back to books now I promise!

Jan 4, 6:22pm Top

>26 Narilka: I always enjoy the general chat in the threads, and I would call it “venting” rather than “whining” which is sometimes a necessary activity! :)

My company makes us do ethics training every year which sounds similar, at least in terms of format, to what you're talking about. The advantage is that, after so many years of seeing these videos, I can now half-ignore them because I already know all the answers. Ours are pretty good about having questions that are actually based off the content, though. I couldn’t even say what happens if you miss a question at the end. Ironically (considering it's "ethics" testing, I think I'm one of the few people on my team who actually does the tests on my own instead of as a group activity. :)

Jan 5, 9:05am Top

I'm going to put a copy of that list by my reading chair for fun. I like to match things like that up to the books I have waiting in my TBR pile sometimes when I can't decide what to read next. Sometimes I use creative matching skills.

Your computer woes hit too close to home. Yesterday we had a mechanic on the verge of quitting because the computer was not letting him get access to the programs he needed to do his job. We are a very small business in a pretty small town and our IT guy has a full-time job elsewhere, so can only come after hours to work on our stuff. Which doesn't work very well when you need to be working on it at the same time there is someone present at GM service desk to help. Hope we can get it resolved before we lose the mechanic, because he is good and they are very hard to find.

Jan 5, 4:28pm Top

>28 MrsLee: I hope you post in your thread when a book matches one of the challenge items. It will be neat to see what you come up with.

Oh man I feel for your mechanic big time.

Edited: Jan 6, 1:42pm Top

Will do!

The challenge will be for me to remember the name of the challenge. Popsugar. I keep wanting to call it Puffsugar, SugarDaddy, SugarPuff, or almost anything it isn't. SugarPops

Jan 6, 7:49pm Top

LOL I like Puffsugar :D

Jan 6, 7:49pm Top

1. Demon Lord of Karanda by David Eddings

Demon Lord of Karanda is the third book in The Malloreon by David Eddings. The quest continues! More has been revealed about their journey. It seems the prophecy may require an Angarak king be in attendance as well as some sort of "sacrifice." It's obvous now how Zandramas plans to use Garion's son, making it more important for the party to rescue him. If only Zakath, Emperor of Mallorea, could be reasoned with to let them continue onwards. Urvon, in his effort to make a play for the Sardion, has summoned demons let them loose on the countryside, making the race to the Place Which Is No More even more hazardous. As if things could not get worse, a plague has struck the city where the party is being held, effectively sealing everyone in the city. And the Seeres of Kell has revealed that time is starting to run out if they hope to complete the prophecy of Light.

The pace picks back up in this one as our heroes must stop and over come many challenges. Eddings writes some pretty good action scenes. This is the book where the new party members, Sadi, Velvet and Toth, really feel like they're a part of things, each with their own role to play and not just replacements for those people we're missing from the first series. The character banter continues to be fun, though is toned down in the second half of the book where events become a tad more serious. The world building continues as the party goes much farther into the Mallorean continent than experienced previously. I almost wish I could visit Mal Zeth - just without the plague.


Jan 7, 6:24pm Top

I think the universe took pity on me for the crappy week I had. I found this at Target today:


Of course now I need to buy the rest of the series...

Jan 7, 6:43pm Top

>33 Narilka: Nice haul!

Jan 7, 7:54pm Top

It's always a pleasure to meet another reader of fantasies!

Jan 8, 9:26am Top

>35 quondame: Welcome aboard!

Jan 10, 9:10am Top

I found the book to fit the PopSugar category of "A book mentioned in another book." While reading A Gentleman in Moscow. There are many books mentioned, but one of them has been on my shelves to read for some time, Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville.

Jan 10, 10:56am Top

Sweet. Thanks for the tip MrsLee.

Jan 10, 11:39am Top

>32 Narilka: - I enjoyed those a long time ago, but even then found them somewhat repetitive of the first series. The characters are good fun though.

Good find!

Jan 11, 10:52am Top

2. Sorceress of Darshiva by David Eddings

Sorceress of Darshiva is the fourth book in The Malloreon by David Eddings. The never ending quest! Trouble and delays seem to plague Garion and the party in their efforts with Zandramas always staying one step ahead. With Demon Lords and enemy forces on one side and agents of Emperor Zakath trying to capture them on the other, the party will need to hurry if they want to make it to the Place Which Is No More in time. Assuming Belgarath can figure out what that phrase means.

This volume is all about setting the stage for the final book. It's not boring and the pacing is decent, just a lot of activity and travel happens in a short time. The constant threat to the world also feels a bit lessened in this book due to the need to rush everyone from one task to the next so the bad guys, while there, aren't quite as menacing as they were in previous installments. This is the book where Durnik gets a chance to shine, which is nice as he's not really had his moment. His major scene is one of my favorites in this series. Also love the addition of the she wolf and her pup. It's too bad they weren't in the series more towards the beginning.

If I were able to be more objective, this might be more like a 3.5 star rating. I just love these books too much :) On to book 5!


Jan 11, 10:54am Top

And that crosses off Challenge item #3 :)

Jan 11, 11:14am Top

I also forgot to mention it looks like I last read this series about 6.5 years ago. I found a ticket stub for my flight to my dad's wedding in Sorceress, which I probably used as a book mark during the trip. It also means I probably read Seeress on the way home, though I did not find anything in that book. The series was definitely due for a reread.

Jan 11, 4:30pm Top

>40 Narilka: Yep, some books are just meant to be loved!

>42 Narilka: Were you not keeping track back then? Which leads me to ask, how long have you been tracking and reviewing? And what got you into it?

Jan 11, 5:01pm Top

>43 BookstoogeLT: I started to formally keep track of my reading progress in 2014. I think my reviews started about then too. I started tracking my reading out of curiosity. I knew I read quite a bit but had never put numbers to it before. And I think there is something to be said for the number of books vs number of pages. The years I did the Malazan series I did not finish nearly so many but they were all door stoppers :)

The reasoning to start reviewing was two fold. First, I wanted to improve my writing skills. What better way to practice than writing about something I love? I'm unlikely to ever be a serious writer but it's a great skill to have, is pretty vital in my current career path and one that is surprising lacking in professionals. Second, I wanted to jot down my thoughts for my future self to refer to. Sometimes to just remember if I liked a book or not and what it was about, sometimes to see how my feelings change (or not) about old favorites. It was only after I started posting reviews that I realized they were a wonderful way to start discussions with people about books. I know that should have been obvious but there you have it :)

Jan 11, 5:09pm Top

>44 Narilka: Cool! That is a fantastic little explanation. And I agree completely with you about pages read AND books read. They help give a little more context to each other :-)

Thankyou for writing this out...

Jan 17, 3:53pm Top

3. The Seeress of Kell by David Eddings

"It has come at last," Garion's inner companion said unemotionally through the Child of Light's* lips. "It is the instant of the Choice. Choose, Cyradis, lest all be destroyed."

"It has come," another equally unemotional voice spoke through the lips of the Child of Dark*. "It is the instant of the Choice. Choose, Cyradis, lest all be destroyed."

The Seeress of Kell is the fifth and final book in The Malloreon by David Eddings. And quite an end it is! The quest draws to a close as the final riddles are solved so the meeting of Light and Dark can happen to decide the fate of the world. Zandramas strives until the bitter end to thwart her opponent. Garion must stay resolute to prevent the world from sliding into darkness even if it means he must kill his own son.

It is a great ending to the series. All story threads are wrapped up, including a couple items from book one that had been left dangling. I've been with these characters for so long now that they feel like old friends and it is the character dynamics that has been the most enjoyable part of my reread. Sometimes it's hard for an author to keep track of all the characters when a series focuses on a fairly large group and I'd say Eddings is successful at giving everyone their own voice. The ending does have its bittersweet moment though. I'm quite glad to have made the journey again and am a little sad for it to be over.

*Quote changed slightly to prevent spoilers.


Jan 17, 4:50pm Top

>46 Narilka: You’re making me want to invent an extra month so that I can find time to read The Belgariad this year. :)

Jan 17, 9:08pm Top

>47 YouKneeK: Heck, the way you read you could probably finish the series in under two weeks ;) Maybe in 2019!

Jan 18, 6:55am Top

>48 Narilka: Ha, but which two weeks?! :) Yes, maybe 2019. I could also randomly decide to switch another planned series out for this one and get to it sooner; I do that once in a while when the mood strikes.

Jan 20, 8:18pm Top

4. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

Wake of Vultures is the first book in The Shadow series by Lila Bowen. While I found the book in the regular fantasy section at the book store, the story has a definite YA feel to it. This was my first time reading a fantasy western. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book since westerns aren't normally my thing.

All Nettie Lonesome wants out of life is to work as a hand at a ranch and spend her days training horses. Being a mixed race orphan girl and living practically as a slave to her adpotive parents it looks like her dreams will remain only a dream until she is attacked by a stranger. Grabbing the only thing near by to use in self defense Nettie stabs the man with a piece of wood through the heart which causes him to turn into... sand? This one act unlocks the "sight" in Nettie and soon she's seeing monsters and myths everywhere. It's a strange, strange world out there and it's not long before Nettie finds herself cursed by a dying Comanche woman to find and kill the monster that's been stealing children in the region. And the clock is ticking.

Nettie is an interesting character. She's sixteen and there has not been much kindness in her life so far. She has been told so many times that she's worthless and useless due to her mixed blood that she believes it. It makes her prickly, with a rough attitude and a hard character to get to know. I found her alternatively frustrating and charming while at the same time feeling compassion for her. She's also had a very small world view, seeing most matters as black and white. This includes gender roles which is the catalyst for her deciding to identify herself as a man so she can work on a ranch. The real world is definitely a learning experience for her, especially when it comes to relationships between people.

The setting is an alternative 1800s Texas. I like how Bowen used small bits of real history and worked it in to her fantasy world, the Durango Territory. I really enjoyed how she turned the Texas Rangers into a supernatural fighting group, those that kill what must be killed (monsters). Their methods are fairly heavy handed though and it gives them a reputation for wanton destruction, some of it seemingly well earned.

There are some pretty great action scenes with the monsters. The book also touches on some deep subjects, though since the book leans towards YA and is fairly short they aren't explored too deeply. These subjects include racism, sexism, gender identification, alternative relationships, the death of children and what really makes a monster.

Fair warning: while the main story thread is wrapped up, the ending is a bit of a cliff hanger that is the hook for the second book. I enjoyed Nettie's story enough that I will likely continue it sometime in the future.


This one marks off #12 in the Popsugar challenge and is my first read from my TBR challenge.

Jan 22, 10:12pm Top

Ack, so sorry about your laptop issues, Narilka.

I am going to be tagging along as much as I can this year. Best of luck with that challenge. It should be great fun!

Jan 23, 9:15am Top

>51 clamairy: Welcome back Clam! Good to see you again :)

Jan 23, 9:20am Top

>43 BookstoogeLT: I know I started reviewing to reduce the amount of re-reading I'd have to do - I put enough plot details in that I can recall (hopefully!) whereabouts in a series a given book occurs, and then pick up the new ones from there.

Jan 24, 4:46pm Top

>50 Narilka: I read Wake of vultures recently as well, and rather enjoyed it. I bought the sequel last week, I hope it will be just as good.

Jan 24, 9:05pm Top

>54 zjakkelien: Cool. I hope it's good too as I plan to pick it up.

Jan 25, 2:10am Top

5. You Die When You Die by Angus Watson

You Die When You Die is the first book in Angus Watson's West of West series. It's a semi-historical fantasy based on Vikings and Native Americans in North America about a thousand years ago. Sounds cool, right? Even though there was a lot of action this was a harder one for me to get into. There are a lot of characters and none of them appealed to me initially. As the story progressed I gradually came to care about the Hardworkers and got into the story. By the end I found the whole thing to be quite enjoyable and surprisingly funny. Be warned, there is a lot of foul language and graphic violence. It's not too grim, nor too dark, but it definitely leans in that direction.

The people of the village of Hardwork have a pretty good life. Their Scrayling neighbors take care of all of their needs so they have become quite, well, lazy. So when an attack on the town comes, the Hardworkers can hardly believe it. A prophecy of the Calnians says that the Mushroom Men will destroy the world and they are now all marked for death. A small group survives the attack including one simple, young boy who has the gift of seeing the future. His advice: Head west and then head west some more. The surivors see no other choice and set off to the promised safety in the west. Meanwhile, the Calnian Empress has decided not to take any chances so sets her Owsla, an elite squad of magic enhanced women warriors, to hunt the survivors down until none are left alive.

Angus Watson has a lot of fun naming his characters. The Hardworkers all have names that are, or were, descriptive of a trait. Wulf the Fat (who isn't fat anymore), Sassa Lipchewer (she does), Freydis the Annoying (she's a young child so she can be). The Owsla also have pretty great names too like Sofi Tornado and Chogolisa Earthquake. He takes his time building them up and most of the characters felt fully realized by the end. They may be gruff but the Hardworkers won me over with their determination to survive and their devotion to keeping as many alive as possible.

Considering how straight forward the story is, I have to admit I did not see that ending coming. That was one great plot twist.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Sean Barrett. He has a gravelly, deep voice that I think was a great fit for this gritty tale.

Wooooootah! I'm going to keep my eye out for book two.


Jan 25, 2:17am Top

Yeah, I'm up for a maintenance window and wrote up a review to stay awake lol I wonder if it will make sense after I've had some sleep :)

Jan 29, 10:06pm Top

6. Origin by Dan Brown

Dan Brown may not be the best writer in the world but he sure has some interesting ideas and the books are usually a fun ride. Origin sticks to the formula well.

Where do we come from? Where are we going? These are two of humanity's most fundamental questions, ones that Edmond Kirsch, a popular high tech futurist, claims he has discovered the answer to. Robert Langdon and a couple hundred guests have arrived at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend the announcement, one that is being live streamed across the globe. The evening of the great reveal is orchestrated through a highly original audio/visual presentation. Disaster strikes just as Kirsch is about to make his grand reveal, causing chaos in the museum and the city beyond. Joined by Ambra Vidal, the museum's director, Langdon finds himself on a mad dash to Barcelona in an effort to locate a backup of the presentation and launch it to the world before Kirsch's discovery is lost forever.

One of my favorite thing about Dan Brown's books are that every location, building, work of art, symbol and religious organization mentioned are all real. You can look each one of them up and learn more about them. I also enjoy learning random, odd facts (like Beethoven invented bone conducting technology). They make me want to travel to Spain and marvel at the architecture of the Sagrada Família or walk through the modern art collections at the Guggenheim. Then he takes several current events and/or ideas, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing and fake news, and weaves them into a fast paced, compelling story.

On the down side, it seems like Robert Langdon is more along for the ride than for his knowledge of symbols. He receives a lot of help from Kirsch's cyber assistant making the mystery portion fairly easy to solve. And when we finally get to the big reveal it was kind of a "well duh" moment of obviousness. Heck, it's something I can already see happening in every day life today. At least Dan Brown gives the ending an uplifting and hopeful message, so that was nice.

If you're looking for deep prose and character development, Origin is not the book for you. If instead you'd like a mad dash to the big reveal with historical tie-ins and interesting, random facts, then Origin is a fun read.


Jan 30, 9:21am Top

>6 YouKneeK: I've been on the fence about giving this one a shot. I only made it about 10 pages into Inferno before bailing out. And I was really disappointed in The Lost Symbol. Might keep this one in mind as a beach read for the Summer.

Jan 30, 10:57am Top

>59 clamairy: Do you remember what it was about Inferno that bothered you? I agree, The Lost Symbol was the worst of the series so far. So bad that I remember absolutely nothing about the plot and had to go look it up lol

Jan 30, 1:18pm Top

>60 Narilka: I do not. And I gave no explanation in my thread when I bailed on it back in 2016. According to that snippet I only made it 3 or 4 pages in. My son and I watched the movie last Summer and I didn't enjoy that either.

Jan 30, 5:35pm Top

>61 clamairy: No way to compare if whatever it was that annoyed you in Inforno exists in Origin then. It was worth a shot. I know Dan Brown seems to be love him or hate him, not a lot of middle ground.

Jan 31, 6:34pm Top

One funny thing about Brown is how many of his books appear for sale in our public library's semiannual book sales. The other clerks and I joke about having a separate table just for his books. I think the only author with more books in the sales is John Grisham.

Feb 1, 12:59pm Top

7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is the first book in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. This was so not the story I was expecting from a Cinderella retelling. Meyers takes the main highlights from Cinderella's story and creates her own version in a highly imaginative way.

Cinder is a gifted mechanic in living in New Bejing with her stepmother and two stepsisters. She's also a cyborg, making her a second class citizen in society. Her stepmother treats her like dirt, constantly blaming Cinder for her father's death and the family's poverty. Cinder spends most of her days running a repair booth in the market to support her family while she daydreams about being free from her stepmother's legal hold over her. A chance meeting with Prince Kai, heir to the throne, changes everything and sets a thrilling series of events in motion.

Meyers has given us an interesting stage for her tale. The story is set sometime in the future, 126 years after World War 4. There are six world governments now with Cinder's story set entirely in the Eastern Commonwealth, this world's version of Asia. A virulent and fatal plague is sweeping the planet, striking its victims seemingly randomly, with each government desperately trying to come up with a cure. At some point humans also colonized the Moon and there's a Lunar colony that is ruled by an (evil) Queen in a totalitarian regime. The Lunars are in a cold war with the Earthens, though that may be heating up as the Lunar Queen has started to make threats in her "peace" overtures. Humans live alongside androids and cyborgs.

For the characters, I liked Cinder and the family android, Iko, a lot. Cinder wasn't your typical "needs a prince to rescue me" heroine. She's stubborn, independent and has worked hard for her reputation as a gifted mechanic. She is keenly aware of the social stigma of being a cyborg and lets it color the way she thinks of herself. Iko was surprisingly hilarious! Who would have ever expected an android that's obsessed with boys and dresses and shoes would be so much fun. She also had some great lines.

And that's about as deep as things get. As for the rest of the cast, they're about what you'd expect based on the Cinderella tale. The stepmother is overbearing and hates Cinder with a passion as does one of the stepsisters. The other stepsister is very sweet, which of course you just know means she's in for something bad. Prince Kai is what I'd call the regular hot guy next door who also happens to be the royal heir. He's not very politically astute for someone who has lived in the palace all his life and should have been exposed to political intricacies by his age. The Lunar Queen is straight up evil and the main villain. Even with the world setting, it's never really explained WHY androids are accepted but cyborgs aren't. Nor does the story go very far into the history of the war. This book feels like such a great foundation yet as I read I kept wishing things went just a bit deeper.

Even with those issues, I found the story engaging and quite entertaining. It was a quick, light read. I am kind of curious to see what happens next for Cinder so may pick up the second book at some point.


This marks off #37 in the Popsugar challenge and is also one from my TBR challenge.

Edited: Feb 1, 1:11pm Top

>63 Jim53: Yes, the same used to happen to us. He's one of the few authors that many people seem to buy as soon as it's published instead of waiting to borrow it from the library or a friend. But once read most people don't seem to want to keep the books hanging around.

>62 Narilka: I liked most of Deception Point though I found the ending a bit over the top. More like a draft for a screenplay than a book.Angels & Demons* was fun, although, again the ending seemed made for Hollywood. I thoroughly enjoyed The Da Vinci Code despite what so many others whined about.

*One of my brothers used be a Catholic priest and he says its depiction of The Vatican and church hierarchy is much more realistic than anyone realizes. And I'll stop right there.

Edited: Feb 1, 1:21pm Top

>64 Narilka: I gather an android is a humanoid robot and a cyborg is a human with mechanical parts. Are those the correct definitions for this story and if so, how did Cinder come to be a cyborg?

Feb 1, 2:50pm Top

>63 Jim53: That is funny.

>65 clamairy: I also think Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code were much better stories, with A&D being my favorite. Both had better mysteries and they actually used Robert Langdon's symbology knowledge as part of the plot. I haven't read Deception Point yet though it's on my TBR shelf...somewhere :)

>66 jjwilson61: Yes, exactly. Android = humanoid-ish robot, cyborg = hybrid. I think what bothered me most is the mechanical parts are presented more like advanced prosthesis than voluntary upgrades. How Cinder ended up that way is explained by the end of the story. Did you want a spoiler or were you planning to read it?

Feb 1, 3:19pm Top

>67 Narilka: How Cinder ended up that way is explained by the end of the story. Did you want a spoiler or were you planning to read it?

I don't know if I'll read it, but if it's part of the story and not of the background then I don't need to know. But in general, in that world how do people end up as cyborgs? After accidents? Or as voluntary upgrades?

Feb 1, 5:02pm Top

>68 jjwilson61: It seemed like the results of accidents only.

Feb 8, 4:25pm Top

8. The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham

The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham is the second in The Dagger and the Coin series. The story picks up right where book one left off. It is another slow build as the story takes its time getting all the characters in place before events start to take off at the 50% mark. Once they do the pace picks up dramatically and and I found I had a hard time putting the book down! I cannot fairly review this story without spoilers for both this and the previous book.

Having successfully beat the audit, Cithrin bel Sarcour finds herself hampered by the notary the bank has sent to keep an eye on her and their newest branch. Being driven out of her mind by both the tedium of inactivity and the notary's small minded way of not taking risks, Cithrin must do something, anything to regain control over her bank. Marcus Wester is a man who has everything. Solid work as Cithrin and the Bank's head guard, good pay and settled into his new life in Port Oliva. Yet this doesn't seem to make him happy and Wester's beginning to feel a restlessness he's not ready to acknowledge. Dawson Kalliam, best friend and chief advisor to King Simeon, has prevented a coup by the neighboring kingdom of Asterillhold, saving the heir to the throne in the process. Simeon's failing health and shifting politics force Dawson to re-examine his loyalties and question his devotion to both king and country. Geder Palliako, previously ridiculed, has found himself in a position of power, being named as guardian of the young Prince Aster for his help in revealing treachery in the King's court. With his star on the rise Geder finds his responsibilities growing heavier by the day and is unsure if he's up to the task that lays before him.

The King's Blood does a great job of building upon the foundation of The Dragon's Path. It adds a some depth to the world that was missing in the first book by letting us experience the various places visited through character's eyes. This helps the world start to come to life. I love how different each of the cities feel and also begins to fill in some of the confusion I was having with the various human races. While I did not feel confident by story's end that I had them all straight, there is an appendix after the story that goes into detail about each one and was a great help. I wish I had discovered it sooner.

Each of the character's story arcs are well under way. I found Cithrin and Geder's stories to be the most engaging. Cithrin has really stepped up. Gone is the scared, uncertain orphan from book one. She has gained confidence in herself and is on her way to become a shrewd business woman. While she does not have a grand scheme like we saw in the first book, based where her story ends, she has a potentially dangerous road ahead. I think she's up for the challenge and can't wait to see what creative solution she comes up with. I admit I feel sorry for Geder. He is ill equipped for the role he's ended up in and is being skillfully manipulated. He's let himself be ruled by his insecurities and that is one slippery slope he's going down. If it was unclear where Geder was headed before he's definitely on his way to being quite the tyrant. And I'm not sure if there will be any sort of redemption for him in the future. Marcus was short changed for the majority of this story. His conversations with Yardem were just as enjoyable as before, but I don't think he was given much chance to shine. Perhaps this quest he finds himself on will help. The one big surprise was Dawson's wife Clara. Based on all that's happened, and her last few lines, I think she's going to become an important character for the remainder of the series.

I'm really glad I stuck with this series as this ended up being quite an enjoyable read. I'm looking forward to continuing the story soon.


Feb 8, 4:37pm Top

>8 MrsLee: One of my favorite series. :)

Feb 8, 5:33pm Top

>71 majkia: I saw you read the series last year and skipped your reviews of them since I was planning to read them too. I'll have to go back and see what you thought of this one now :)

Feb 8, 6:05pm Top

>70 Narilka: I’m happy you enjoyed this one more than the first one! I liked Clara quite a bit.

Feb 8, 8:19pm Top

>73 YouKneeK: I'll be cycling in book 3 fairly soon. Best guess is end of March/early April.

Feb 8, 8:20pm Top

9. Glitches by Marissa Meyer

Glitches is a short story about the first few weeks of Cinder's life with her newly adopted family. It's available to read for free online. It's a great little story and serves as a nice introduction to the world of the Lunar Chronicles. I liked meeting young Cinder, who is new both the family and her cybernetic parts, more Peony and Iko's origin. I'm surprised that this hasn't been added as a prologue to subsequent Cinder printings as it would be a perfect fit.


Feb 10, 4:55pm Top

Darn it, I missed your review of the end of the Malloreon! I'm glad you enjoyed them. I am a big fan of both The Belgariad and The Malloreon and at the end of 2017, had to re-read The Elenium. I think I forgot to mention those in my yearly reading summary.

I recently reviewed Oathbringer. While I enjoyed book 1 in that series, my opinion of the series has gone down with each book.

Feb 10, 7:35pm Top

>76 Karlstar: It's been a while since I've read the Sparhawk books. I might need to do that again at the end of this year. I tend to leave my cozy/nostalgia reads for the holiday season.

Yeah, I'm a big Sanderson fan. I'm attempting to wait until the first series of 5 is done before jumping into the Stormlight books. Fingers crossed I love them when the time comes :)

Feb 10, 7:35pm Top

10. All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red is the first in a series of novellas titled The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. Based on that kind of title who would have expected a story about a security robot that hacks it's own governing module so can watch tv all day instead of doing its job? I know I didn't. And boy was this story great fun.

Sometime in the future, the Company approves and supplies all planetary missions. As standard procedure all teams are accompanied by Company provided security androids, called SecUnits, a regulatory 1 android per 10 humans. On a distant planet, a research team is conducting surveys of the surface. Sure, there have been strange computer glitches from time to time, all perfectly normal considering programming contracts tend to go to the lowest bidder. That is right up until a neighboring mission goes dark and the scientists are determined to find out what happened.

Clocking in at just over 150 pages, Wells does an impressive job. The plot takes off immediately, with the researchers and Murderbot finding themselves in a highly dangerous situation they never expected. On top of that she weaves in great characterization for Murderbot. Being an android who is finds dealing with humans uncomfortable and slightly annoying, preferring instead just watch them on tv, it's highly relatable to anyone who was an awkward teen growing up or just on those days when you'd rather not deal with people. Though Murderbot tries to come across as apathetic, I think it does care underneath it all. The downside to having such limited space is the rest of the characters aren't nearly so fleshed out. That's ok though since this is Murderbot's story.

Well written and entertaining, this was a satisfying short read.


Feb 10, 9:41pm Top

>>77 Narilka: Did you by chance read Eddings Younger Gods series? I hope for your sake you did not.

Feb 10, 9:57pm Top

>79 Karlstar: I did not. The Redemption of Athalus was so horrible that was where I stopped reading through their works. As much as I love the Belgariad and Malloreon... I just couldn't.

Feb 12, 9:52pm Top

11. Hammered by Kevin Hearne

Hammered by Kevin Hearne is the third in the Iron Druid Chronicles. The story takes a darker turn this time around. Several months have passed and it's time for Atticus to make good on the promises he made to help Leif take out the hammer wielding Norse bully, Thor. As if that isn't enough of a challenge, things are starting to heat up in Tempe. There's a vampire turf war in the making and a group of Russian demon hunters called the Hammers of God are stirring up trouble. It's might be time to get the heck out of dodge for a while.

Many of the things I enjoyed in the first two novels continue in this book. Oberon and Atticus's conversations are still hands down my favorite parts of the series. Oberon's whole theory on bacon lattes is pure genius. Starbucks should seriously consider spending some r&d money on the idea as I'm sure they would sell like crazy! I continue to enjoy Hearne's spin on all the various pantheons and mixing it up with the various deities. The action scenes continue to be fast paced and well written. Getting some background on why Thor is such a bastard and how he's ruined so many lives added a nice detail and helped with the more serious feel of the story.

Unfortunately, this story also feels less consistent over all. Hearne continued to try and interject Atticus's sarcastic humor into the serious side of the story and it felt very forced. Jokes that may have been funny elsewhere ended up falling flat. I also am starting to wish he'd focus his stories better. Either the events in Tempe or the mission to Asgard would have made a great book on its own while the combination made things feel a bit rushed. This is also the first installment that feels like it's more part of a series. Where the first two novels worked well as stand alones, this one's ending has several loose ends that still need to be addressed.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Luke Daniels. Daniels's performance continues to be top notch. I found myself forgetting there was only one narrator at times.

Still, it's an enjoyable and entertaining story. I'm sure I'll continue on to book four at some point.


Feb 13, 7:11pm Top

>78 Narilka: That look quite entertaining. It might be my advanced #10.

Feb 13, 8:24pm Top

>82 Jim53: If you try it I hope you like it.

Feb 14, 7:57am Top

That was a wise decision on your part. The Younger Gods series was basically the same plot as Redemption of Athalus in a different world and by book 3 he was repeating the plot of book 1. They should have never been published, it was a terrible way for him to end his writing career.

Feb 17, 8:20pm Top

12. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews is the fourth in the Kate Daniels series. What can I say? Kate Daniels never disappoints.

Atlanta. A nice place to live if it weren't for the magic. Kate has been called to investigate a fight a bar located in fairly neutral ground between the Pack and the necromancer territories, the Steel House. There is something very wrong with the crime scene. No one remembers what the killer looks like and it left the body in a horrifying condition. It appears there's a new, terrifying player in town. One that has been roaming the earth for thousands of years and is sometimes known as the Plaguebringer. And what's worse? It appears to be a family affair.

I am loving where Ilona Andrews is taking the series. Each book has built nicely upon those before it and this one is no different, with the tension building and the stakes subtly increasing. This time around the story is based around Babylonian mythology and we are finally treated to a glimpse into Kate's messed up heritage. Boy did you think you have bad relatives! The investigation takes on a personal turn, one that has Kate and the reader unsure if she'll survive the ordeal. It also forces Kate into revealing some of her secrets to those closest to her so they understand just what they're up against. To avoid spoilers all I'm going to say is the villain is pretty darn cool and quite a bad ass. It also proves that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

And the promised romance from the last book? Yes, there is resolution to that. Finally! And yes, it's a roller coaster ride. What else could it be between Kate and Curran? Such hard headed, arrogant alphas. And boy it was satisfying.

Given everything that happens, I get a feeling this is a turning point in the series. It's an interesting set up and I wonder how ripples from these events will effect the remaining books. I'm pretty sure this is going to earn Kate some unwanted attention.


Feb 21, 12:00pm Top

13. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet is the second book in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I think my biggest complaint on this one is the plot is highly predictable, which might be a downside to following the fairy tale a little too closely. Luckily Scarlet is just so darn entertaining and great fun to read that I mostly didn't mind. There will be some spoilers for both books.

The story picks up immediately where book one leaves off. The biggest and only news story is about the disaster at the Commonwealth's yearly ball. Could that have gone any worse? Determined not to be handed over to Queen Levana, Cinder works to break herself out of prison even knowing it will make her the most wanted fugitive on the planet. In France, Scarlet Benoit could care less about what's on the news. Her grandmother has gone missing and the police refuse to help citing evidence that grandma is an obvious "runaway". Scarlet takes it upon herself to find out what's going on as her grandmother would never run away and leave the farm unattended. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information about granny's whereabouts, even knowing it's a bad idea and he shouldn't be trusted she enlists his help in the search. Scarlet must find out what's happened to her grandmother through any means necessary.

I enjoy how Meyer re-imagines the classic fairy tale characters. Scarlet, aka Red Riding Hood, is quite a fun. With red hair and dressed in a red hoodie, she's brash, firey and won't take no for an answer when it comes to finding her family. She is quite different from our initial introduction to Cinder, who was almost meek in comparison. Like Cinder, she's not a "waiting for my prince to come" type, instead preferring to be proactive about the situation. There's a lot of girl power in these books. Wolf is exactly who I expected he would be with the foreshadowing of the monster army on the Lunars are creating from book one. Combine this with knowledge of the original fairy tale and this is where the story becomes predictable. Of course he's lying to Scarlet, of course he knows a lot more than he says and of course Scarlet is the true mission objective. And obviously he's smoking hot and going to be Scarlet's love interest because this is YA. Over in Cinder's story line, we're introduced to Captain Carswell Thorne, who reminded me a lot of Zaphod Beeblebrox from Hitchhiker's Guide. He's in prison for desertion from the American military and for stealing a military ship in the process, his ego is so large it can barely fit in the same room and he's a bit of womanizer. But he's fun and a good foil for Cinder. And naturally he's going to help Cinder so they can both escape. Poor Kai, still woefully unprepared for being Emperor of the Commonwealth and dealing with the political situation. And I still love Iko!

We are also given a bit more insight into the world Meyer has created. This version of France a blend of old-world and futuristic. Folks go to the local tavern for a drink, watch entertainment on vid feeds and vegetables from the farm are delivered on space ships. It's still not as much depth as I'd like but it does add a little more dimension.

As I mentioned at the start the book has it's flaws with the predictability of the plot being the main one. Being a YA story there are YA tropes. Scarlet and Wolf's relationship, while sweet in its way, is basically insta-love. Scarlet makes some bad decisions when it comes to trusting Wolf even when she knows she shouldn't. The characters also frustrated me with the fact that even after the big reveal from granny that they still couldn't figure out who Cinder is without being explicitly told so.

Still, the story remains engaging and highly entertaining. The plot is fast paced and there is a lot of action at the end. I'm looking forward to see how Meyer re-imagines Rapunzel.


Feb 21, 2:41pm Top

I also really enjoyed the Murderbot book! I loved the main character and agree with you that she really does care (I know it's a robot, but she feels female to me).

I also read Hammered and was not at all happy with it. I felt that it deviated from the tone the first book started with. I didn't like Atticus' actions and I didn't like the results. I was actually quite angry with it for disappointing me...

Feb 21, 2:48pm Top

>87 zjakkelien: Murderbot is one of the few times where I never associated a gender with the robot.

Did you go on to read any more of the Iron Druid books or was Hammered where you stopped? I agree with Atticus' actions at the end after I thought about it more esp in regards to Freya. That was horrible. I enjoyed the first two books enough that I'm curious about the fourth one and I'm hoping book 4 goes back to the original feel, but book 3 has given me pause.

Feb 22, 8:45am Top

14. The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer

The Queen's Army is a short story about Wolf's history of how he became a soldier and the Alpha. It also gives insight into his relationship with his brother and how the Queen's army works. It is available to read for free online and also came included at the end of my copy of Scarlet. I really enjoyed this story. It adds some nice depth to Wolf's character that was missing from the main book. As for reading order, it could probably be read before or after Scarlet though I'd wait until after to avoid spoilers..


Feb 22, 11:20am Top

>86 Narilka: I have the first two books in the TBR but as I really hesitate to read YA I've put them off. I do hate the angst teen stuff. But you make them sound worth reading.

Feb 22, 12:25pm Top

>90 majkia: Give Glitches a try since it's free. It's a good indicator of the writing and won't spoil Cinder. If it annoys you then you know to avoid :)

Feb 26, 2:52pm Top

We hiked to panther creek falls this weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect. The falls are spectacular.

Feb 26, 2:53pm Top

There were these pretty yellow flowers along one section of the trail.

Feb 26, 4:15pm Top

>92 Narilka: >93 Narilka: Wow! The flower even reminds me of the Lymond Chronicles as it is shy!

Feb 26, 4:21pm Top

Oh lovely shots!

Feb 26, 4:55pm Top

I loved Scarlet. I think my favorite one in the series is the next one, Cress. And Iko is great!

Feb 26, 5:50pm Top

>92 Narilka: Oh wow, that looks great! I had to Google it because I’ve never been there before. It looks like it would be a full-day investment between the drive and the hike, but I’ll have to keep it in mind for my next stay-around-home vacation.

Feb 26, 7:28pm Top

Feb 26, 8:06pm Top

>96 cmbohn: I picked up Cress this weekend. It's going into my March rotation.

>97 YouKneeK: It was about an hour and a half drive for me so probably closer to 2 hours for you. The hike itself ended up being almost 8 miles round trip with my need to stray off the path and check out everything. It's probably closer to 7 if you don't meander as badly as I do :) Pack a lunch in a cooler and you'd have yourself a great day trip. People ended up swimming in that pool there too, though the water was pretty cold. Fair warning, the last tenth of a mile to the main falls is brutal though the rest of the trail is mostly easy with some moderate spots. I kind of want to go back in a month to see how everything looks with spring in full bloom.

>94 quondame:, >95 majkia:, >98 Jim53: Thanks!

Feb 27, 6:15am Top

>99 Narilka: That’s great info, thanks! And you’re right, Google Maps was estimating a little under 2 hours for me.

Feb 27, 9:23am Top

Sounds and looks like a lovely day!

Feb 27, 8:33pm Top

Glorious photos. Hope the decent weather holds for you!

Mar 3, 7:26pm Top

Mar 3, 7:26pm Top

15. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Ever pick up a book because the premise sounds so cool and you're excited to give it a go but it just doesn't quite work out? That's how I felt about Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan. And now that it's a series on Netflix most everyone has probably at least heard about it by now. Just in case you haven't...

Set in a distant future science has advanced enough that human consciousness can be digitized and stored on disk then downloaded into a new body, called sleeves. This makes death nothing more than an inconvenience, with the ultra wealthy able to live almost indefinitely. Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-Envoy operative, has been resleeved to a body on earth and "hired" to solve the murder of a very wealthy Meth, Laurens Bancroft. The police have ruled it a suicide and closed the case without much investigation. Bancroft has offered to make Kovacs very wealthy and buy him the sleeve of his choice if he can prove otherwise.

Let's start with the things I liked. Morgan does a great job of setting the stage for this dystopian future. Things are grimy and gritty and it gave me kind of a Bladerunner vibe. While the idea of digitizing the human consciousness is not new, I did like the science behind it everyone is implanted with a "stack" directly into their brain that records everything that happens so as long as that's not destroyed, you can be resleeved and the possible repercussions of how that changes both people and society. There is also a ton of action sequences. Be warned, the violence is quite graphic. Which brings me to...

The things that bothered me. Everything is over the top. The sex scenes were drawn out and described in great detail as was a torture scene using a woman's body. The mystery didn't make a whole lot of sense. For over half the book there aren't any suspects or motive and Kovacs is floundering around. Eventually an actual clue turns up and does lead to resolution but it sure was frustrating and one of the key people basically just showed up out of the blue. I never really felt like I could connect with any of the characters. None of them are particularly likeable or sympathetic. The depictions of women bordered on misogynistic. If the dog scene at the very end of the book had happened at the beginning, this would have been a DNF.

And even with that, this book made me think. It says some interesting things about humanity and how it could, or in this case couldn't, handle immortality. It also made me think about what really makes us human. Are we more than the sum of our memories? How much does the biochemical responses of a particular body impact how that person behaves and what does that do when a different mind inhabits that body? Too bad these ideas weren't explored more.

Maybe I'm just not the target audience for this book or maybe it was my mood as I just didn't enjoy it very much. Extra half star given for being thought provoking. Your mileage may vary.


Mar 3, 8:15pm Top

>104 Narilka: Uhoh! I have this on my Kindle, although I haven’t yet given it a position in the schedule. I’ll still try it sooner or later, but it sounds like I should brace myself first. :)

Mar 3, 8:41pm Top

>15 Narilka: I don't remember much about Altered Carbon which I read in 2011, but I recorded that I liked it:
Altered carbon was very intense and well done. It used what was expected creatively and without any noticeable condescension. Dense and macho unattractive, but that fit what was being said.

You certainly put more effort into figuring out its impact on you than I did!

Mar 4, 9:13am Top

>105 YouKneeK: It gets a lot of glowing reviews. I appear to be in the minority so maybe it will work for you.

>106 quondame: Nothing wrong with short reviews :)

Mar 4, 11:41am Top

>104 Narilka: I read it quite awhile ago and enjoyed it very much. I think I liked the world building a lot and found that the confusion Kovacs survived through was understandable given his situation.

Mar 5, 5:16pm Top

>108 majkia: Did you review it? If so I'll go look it up. I'm not sure I cut Kovacs as much slack, at least not after the first day. The author made a point to note how Kovacs has had training to adjust quickly to resleeving unlike a regular person.

Mar 5, 7:43pm Top

I gave Altered Carbon a 4 star rating when I read it 5 years ago. I haven't moved on to the sequels as yet but do have them sitting on the tbr shelves and having watched the TV adaptation recently I might try and get around to the next one at some point soon.

Mar 7, 1:53pm Top

>110 AHS-Wolfy: I did a comparison with a friend who's watched the series but not read the book. I think this is one of those instances where I'd enjoy the tv adaption more. No idea if I'll give it a try or not. Call it a firm Maybe :)

Mar 7, 1:53pm Top

16. Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron

Last Dragon Standing is the fifth and final book in the Heartstrikers series by Rachel Aaron. There is no way write a summary without spoilers for the full series. In fact even the author says the same thing in the book's blurb:

There is no way to write a blurb for this final book without spoiling all of the others. Suffice it to say, mysteries resolve, dragons war, pigeons abound, and Julius must risk himself in ways he never dreamed possible as Bob’s grand plan finally comes to fruition.

That's a pretty good summary! The story picks up directly where the previous one left off. Everyone is gathered in the DFZ as they face down the End. Levitation is so large he completely blocks out the sky and is continuing to grow as he eats through Algonquin's magic as he enters the plane. Julius is over-the-moon happy to be reunited with Marcy and they have finally admitted their feelings for each other. Nothing like the end of the world to force some perspective! And provide some incentive. It's a good thing doing the impossible has become their gig as it will take all of Julius's persuasion and everyone's help if they're going to survive Algonquin's Nameless End. And I do mean everyone.

This really is Bob's book to shine. For the first third of the story we are shown just how thorough Bob's planning is and how cutthroat he's had to be to make it all work. Almost every character has been his instrument at one point or another, sometimes betrayed and used badly, but all for the same end goal. It was really great to see him in full action and to finally understand his motivations behind his cryptic actions in the previous books. It does a great job to make him more sympathetic and add depth to this otherwise daft-seeming dragon mage. The story then refocuses on Julius. It is obvious why Julius is so important and such a needed hero for this world. It's great seeing his strengths on full display. Marcy is also fully owning her new status as the world's first Merlin to come up with outside the box thinking for magical support during the crisis. All your other favorites are back and have roles to play in the final event though to a lesser degree. It is spectacular.

Even this far in to the series Aaron continues her world building, adding more layers to an already detailed world. The reveals are less in number but still well done.

All the events lead up to one hell of a climax. About my only complaint is there are a few times where the pacing is thrown off due to the characters need talk at length while the clock is ticking. That minor quibble aside this is one satisfying ending to a highly enjoyable series. I can't wait to read what Rachel Aaron comes up with next.


Mar 8, 1:05pm Top

>15 Narilka: Thanks for the review, I was on the fence on this book and the series, I think I'll pass.

Mar 12, 9:52pm Top

17. Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress is the third book in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. It takes a little while to get going but still a fun adventure. Minor spoilers ahead.

Cress has been trapped on a satellite for seven years as Queen Levana's hacker/spy gathering intelligence of Earth's governments. Her solitude is only broken by visits from Mistress Sybil, who comes supplies and a new set of orders. Her latest mission: track down and find the cyborg Linh Cinder. Cress is dismayed. Meanwhile, Cinder, Thorn, Scarlet, Wolf and Iko are working on their own plan to stop Queen Levana. Unsure of their next move and knowing they need more information, Cinder contacts the mysterious hacker who gave her early warning before the royal ball. It's not long before the Rampion sets off to rescue Cress. Things go horribly wrong immediately, their mission in ruins and the group separated. Cress might have her freedom but it has come at a high price.

With that cool set up I was ready for another fast paced adventure using the Rapunzel fairy tale as it's base. Talk about being disappointed when the first half of the story literally plods along. Cress and Thorn spend a lot of time trudging through the Saharah, working their way back to the main story. This could have been OK had it been used for deeper character and/or relationship development between the two. Most of the time is spent in Cress's head while she moons over Thorn in a horrible case of insta-love. I found myself really looking forward to the other character's chapters to come up as I found them much more enjoyable.

And poor Scarlet! She really got the short end of the stick. The small glimpses we're given makes me very curious about how the fourth book will play out with her new situation and "friend."

Eventually they make it where they're going and the pace picks up dramatically. The story shifts back to Cinder things started to work for me again. It all builds up to one heck of an ending. Even with the pacing issues the series continues to be highly entertaining. I'm looking forward to learning more about Queen Levana before seeing how it all ends.


Mar 12, 10:18pm Top

>104 Narilka: Well, I think I'll give the Netflix series a shot before I consider buying this one.

Mar 13, 9:46am Top

>115 clamairy: I had a nice discussion with a friend of mine who only watched the show. After comparing notes we agreed I think I would have liked the show a lot better. They changed enough of the things that bothered me.

Mar 14, 3:08pm Top

18. In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett

In Such Good Company is a memoir by Carol Burnett about the eleven years her show was on the air. It is similar to her other book, This Time Together, in that it is told in a series of anecdotes. The book focuses heavily on recapping her favorite shows and stories about many of the guest stars so that it almost feels like a history of the Carol Burnett Show instead of an autobiography. It made me realize that having only caught the show in syndication a lot was edited out for reruns which is a shame.


Mar 15, 2:15pm Top

19. I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships by Michael S. Sorensen

"Being listened to and heard is one of the greatest desires of the human heart" - Richard Carlson

Such a simple concept and yet it seems like the need frequently goes unmet. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is obviously listening to the words you're saying but didn't seem to get what you meant? Or understood your point and were obviously disconnected from the emotion or weight of the situation? I Hear You by Michael S. Sorensen is all about the power of validation and how to use it in your life. I have to say this little book is fantastic! Sorensen explains the problem and common traps we fall into, how we're unknowingly invaldiating by trying to jump straight to giving advice or negate a persons feelings with phrases like "you'll be fine" or "that's not true, you did great!" and the like. It explains why these conversations feel like they're unsatisfying. He then offers a very simple, easy to follow solution that I've already started incorporating into my daily life. I'm really glad I read this and would recommend it to others.

I won this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway.


Mar 15, 3:49pm Top

>118 Narilka: that sounds valuable.

Mar 21, 9:00pm Top

>119 Jim53: I think so. I'd love to give copies to my family members but not sure that would go over well :)

Mar 21, 9:00pm Top

20. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz leaned back. "What's the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?"

"Knife to the throat?" asked Inej.

"Gun to the back?" said Jesper.

"Poison in his cup?" suggested Nina.

"You're all horrible," said Matthias.

Kaz rolled his eyes. "The easiest way to steal a man's wallet is to tell him you’re going to steal his watch. You take his attention and direct it where you want it to go."

Ketterdam, a city of endless opportunity, where anything can be had for the right price. Kaz Brekker, criminal mastermind, knows this better than anyone. When Kaz is offered the deal of a lifetime - break a scientist out of the most secure prison in the world - he knows he has the right crew for the job. If they can pull off the impossible they'll all be rich beyond their wildest dreams. If they can put up with each other long enough.

Six of Crows is the first half of a duology by the same name written by Leigh Bardugo. This is the first book I've read by this author. I understand that there is a Grisha trilogy that is also set in the same world as Six of Crows. This one stands well on its own. There were enough descriptions of the world and how things work that I understood everything well enough. As long as you understand that Grisha = magic user, you're set.

This is, plain and simple, a heist story. It is very much in the same vein as Ocean's 11 and the like. This story has a slow start. It takes Bardugo a while to set up the characters and the world, then put everyone into position before the main action starts. Once it did, the mission impossible music started playing in my head and I couldn't put the book down. That was one wild caper!

I really enjoy the world Bardugo has created. This is the first fantasy novel I've read being Dutch inspired. Ketterdam is based on Amsterdam. While I was reading I knew many of the words had a sound to them I should have recognized but it took me almost the whole book before I placed it. The world is a sort of "advanced medieval" with it's combination of guns and magic. The magic system has some familiarity if you've read the genre enough with it's own little twist to make it interesting.

The characters are nicely fleshed out, all given backgrounds that are revealed throughout the story. It is done is such a way that it doesn't slow down the pacing at all. I think I could easily read a series of short stories based on each of these characters.

On the downside, none of these characters come across as young as we're constantly reminded that they are supposed to be. They're all supposed to be around 17 years old and mostly they act like they're in their 30s. Obviously circumstances will dictate how fast a character "grows up" so you can have very adult seeming teens but it just didn't work for me in this instance. Also, since this is YA, there is romance. Thankfully there are no love triangles, though with 6 characters there are 3 pairings.

And then after the wild ride, it just ends. This is definitely the first half of a larger story. While the main heist is finished several large story threads are left dangling. If cliffhanger-style endings bother you make sure you have book two ready to go so you don't have to wait to finish the story.


Mar 21, 9:22pm Top

21. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This was a reread to prepare for the movie release coming up. I think I'm ready! And I still love the story just as much as the first time I read it. Original review below.


The year is 2044. The world has hit an energy crisis and mankind is losing. Reality is a terrible place with most of the population in abject poverty. To get away from it all nearly everyone spends as much time as they can logged in to the OASIS, an online virtual universe containing thousands of realities. Somewhere within the many worlds are clues to a scavenger hunt for an egg left behind by James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, when he died. The prize: the entire Halliday fortune and ownership of the OASIS. Wade Watts is your typical teenager. He attends school in the OASIS and in his spare time researches Halliday's life and hobbies. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue suddenly the game turns deadly serious with other players ready to kill for a chance at the prize.

This book relies heavily on nostalgia. If you love the '80s, play video games or enjoy pop culture then this book is for you. It's all these references that make the story work. Unlike other books where references to old pop culture can make the story feel dated (I'm looking at you American Psycho), Cline has written them to where they help the story feel more authentic. The described scenes actually feel like playing a video game or movie from the past. They are also used in such a way that they are integral to the plot and progress the story along nicely. There is a mix of just about everything: movies, music, tv, books, video games, pen and paper games and all things '80s. And it all works beautifully.

I listened to the audio book of this while on a road trip. I enjoyed Wil Wheaton's voice acting immensely. I think he was a great choice.

Overall the story is so much fun. It's fast paced, energetic and a nice dose of humor. I can see listening to this one again on another long trip.


Mar 21, 10:48pm Top

You've got two of my favorites in a row! The second Ketterdam book was just as good as the first, and a very satisfying ending.

Mar 22, 6:41am Top

>121 Narilka: Great review. Six of Crows is on the list I often choose my books from, but I didn’t know anything about it. Your review makes it sound like something I might enjoy.

Mar 22, 8:28am Top

>123 cmbohn: I couldn't help myself. Downloaded and started Crooked Kingdom last night :)

>124 YouKneeK: It would be a fast read for you. And great that it's only a two book series!

Mar 26, 4:17pm Top

>122 Narilka: I finished that one yesterday for the first time. (ready for the movie!)

Mar 26, 8:36pm Top

>126 Peace2: Yeah, there's no way the movie will be able to follow the book exactly. As long as they get the main points of the hunt for Haliday's egg I think I'll be happy :)

Mar 28, 9:09pm Top

22. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

"Where do think the money went?" he repeated.

"Guns?" asked Jesper.

"Ships?" queried Inej.

"Bombs?" suggested Wylan.

"Political bribes?" offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias. "This is where you tell us how awful we are," she whispered.

He shrugged. "They all seem like practical choices."

Crooked Kingdom picks up just days after where Six of Crows leaves off. Kaz and the gang have just finished pulling off the heist of the century and now their backs are against the wall as they've been double (triple, quadruple?) crossed by just about everyone. One of the team has been kidnapped and the lure of jurda parem has drawn many enemies to the city. Old rivals and new will test the bounds of Kaz's scheming mind if he and his crew are to survive.

I admit I hadn't really warmed up to Kaz in the first installment but that's no longer an issue. All the character backgrounds we received in the first book are given even more depth and by half way through I was fully invested in each character. I love the the relationships Bardugo has created, both platonic and romantic. The characters bond and build true camaraderie, using the strengths of each to balance out flaws, turning them into one highly effective team.

The main story line is very twisty! Gone was the annoyance of the constant reminder of character ages. The action scenes are intense and almost cinematic. Kaz Brekker's scheming knows no bounds, which is a good thing considering how many setbacks the team encounters. I was kept on the edge of my seat wondering how everyone was going to pull through. The payoff is very satisfying. Very.

I laughed, I cried, sometimes both at the same time. This duology completely swept me away and I was more than happy to go along for the ride. I can definitely see a reread in the future.


Mar 29, 9:53pm Top

>121 Narilka: & >128 Narilka: I'm so glad you enjoyed them. Love the exchanges of dialog you shared from each book. :o)

Bardugo is young, so just think of how much more amazing writing we have to look forward to!

Mar 30, 12:59pm Top

>121 Narilka: & >128 Narilka: I think I might have taken a couple more bullets.

Mar 30, 3:59pm Top

>129 clamairy: I loved that she kept the same thing in both books :) And you are absolutely right! She has one heck of a career ahead of her that I am happy to follow along on. I saw your Grisha review - they are on my "to buy" list :)

>130 Jim53: pew pew pew!

Apr 5, 12:54pm Top

23. The Fold by Peter Clines

The Fold by Peter Clines is a stand alone science fiction/thriller. Cliens takes the classic scifi trope of teleportation and weaves it into a wonderful mystery giving the trope fresh feeling that is a whole lot of fun. This is old-fashioned science fiction done right.

Mike Erikson has a unique gift: he has an eidetic memory. Sure he could be doing anything he wants, like running the FBI or something, but he much prefers his quiet life as a high school English teacher in a small New England town. That's right until and old friend presents him with the ultimate mystery to solve. Out in the California desert a group of scientists has a device they call the Albuquerque Door, a sophisticated computer that uses mathematical equations to allow a person to cover great distances in a single step. The team of scientists who all insist the door is safe also keep saying they need more time to test and they need additional funding. Why would additional testing be needed if the project is a success? Mike agrees to take a trip to the site to gather information and provide a recommendation on the future of the project. It's not long before Mike realizes that things are not right, though how "not right" everything is will take some digging.

The first half of the book is all about laying the groundwork for the mystery. The story moves slowly as it introduces us to people and concepts yet never feels like an info dump. Even after Mike gets to the site and begins to dig, it takes him a little while to figure out what's going on. There is definitely a secret everyone is keeping. Then at the halfway point there's a major incident as an unintended consequences of what the scientists are doing. After that it is one heck of a thrill ride as the twists and reveals keep coming, lots of action to keep the pages turning, the tension remaining high right up to the very end.

The team of characters are fun. I liked seeing into Mike's thought process. I really enjoyed how Clines explains the way his eidetic memory works using different types of ants to represent memories and emotions. I can see just how useful that kind of memory could be but some things are meant to be forgotten! It's definitely both a blessing and a curse. The team of scientists is also good, having their own quirks. The character banter added a great touch of humor. Plenty of cultural references are worked in, especially Star Trek.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Ray Porter. He is fantastic! I really enjoy his voice and how different he makes all the characters sound.

The ending wraps with enough closure to make this a standalone novel though the writer has left himself an opening to continue on with Mike's story should he wish to. I hope he does.


Apr 6, 1:30pm Top

24. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

"Carpe Jugulum," read Agnes aloud. "That's...well, Carpe Diem is 'Seize the Day,' so this means-"

"'Go for the Throat,'" said Nanny.

Carpe Jubulum is the 6th and final book in the Witches sub-series and the 23rd Discworld novel in publishing order. It's witches verses vampires! King Verence and Queen Magrat of Lancre have had their first child, a daughter, and have invited everyone to the naming ceremony. Unfortunately this includes the Duke and Duchess de Magpyr, a family of vampires from Uberwald. Everyone who knows anything about vampires knows you don't invite them in unless you want a permanent guest. And these sunlight-loving, garlic-eating, progressive vampires are making themselves at home in the castle. It's up to the witches and an Omnian priest to save the kingdom.

It never ceases to amaze me how Pratchett can weave such a fun satire and yet still touch on deeper notes. On the surface we're given a satire about pre-Twilight vampire mythology. It does this well, especially with Alucard Dracula's story, and pokes a lot of fun at classic vampire lore. Going a little bit deeper, he also touches on rural vs modern life as well as religion, faith and morality. The Kingdom of Lancre is Pratchett's version of an idyllic rural kingdom turned sideways, where the King rules by not asking anyone to do things they weren't going to do anyway and all the servants are from the Ogg family, mostly Sean Ogg. We are also treated to an introduction of the Nac Mac Feegle, who feature later on in the Tiffany Aching books.

It was interesting to see ties back to Small Gods in the form of the Omnian priest Mighty Oaks. Mighty Oaks is in well over his head and yet comes through like a champ. Oaks and Granny Weatherwax have some interesting discussions around faith and morality, which I found unexpected and enjoyable. It's moments like this that lift the book above just being a simple satire.

Overall it's another great entry to the series. For new Discworld readers I would not start with this book as it relies heavily on you knowing the characters prior to this installment.


Apr 6, 3:58pm Top

>118 Narilka: Thanks for the review, I think I should pick that one up.

Apr 6, 6:50pm Top

>24 Jim53: That is the next Pratchett I was planning to listen to, and it's not available to borrow through OverDrive. I guess I'm going to have to read this one with my actual eyeballs.

Apr 6, 9:18pm Top

>133 Narilka: Carpe Jugulum has some of the best of Pratchett's combination of absurd humor in dark situations. My favorite is the vampires sensitize to holy symbols which is dreadfully relevant just now.

Apr 6, 9:43pm Top

>134 Karlstar: I hope you find it as beneficial as I did.

>135 clamairy: Enjoy! I've never tried Pratchett on audio. That would be interesting :)

>136 quondame: When I think more about the book now it's amazing how very relevant some of the topics are. Even the rural vs modern living parts and being "progressive" vampires. Terry Pratchett was brilliant. He is missed.

Apr 7, 10:29am Top

25. Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Fairest is a novella of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. This is Levana's story and explains how she became the ruler we love to hate.

This was an uncomfortable read. Levana's history is tragic. She has some serious mental illness and being inside her head is stressful. She suffered trauma as a small child that she never got over and things spiraled out of control from there. Combine this with the amoral Lunar society, absentee parents and sibling bullying and it's no wonder Levana is a sociopath. Her seriously messed up thinking explains her actions very well and there is a weird, twisted logic to it.

I'm really glad we got to read her background as it adds depth to the character and sheds new light on her actions. No, I don't feel any more sympathetic to the character though I do pity her. It also answers a lot of questions I was curious about the character. I would highly recommend this book for fans of the series.


Apr 9, 10:59am Top

>104 Narilka: - my thoughts n Altered carbon, were sort of fun, but not convincing enough to read the sequels (I'd be interested on anyone's thoughts whether they improve, or just more of the same), mostly impressed at the level of detail keeping track of which sleeve knew what, when. Kil'n people is similar, earlier and better.

the fold sounds good!

I also re-read RPO recently, and was equally impressed at how well it stood up. (armada is poor in comparison.

Apr 9, 9:10pm Top

>139 reading_fox: I agree about Armada. It's entertaining but not nearly as well done as RPO. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts if you decide to give The Fold a try.

Apr 9, 9:10pm Top

26. The Cat, the Mill and the Murder by Leann Sweeney

The Cat, the Mill and the Murder is the fifth in Leann Sweeney's Cat's in Trouble series. Jillian Hart is at it again! Jillian has volunteered to help the local animal shelter relocate a large colony of feral cats living in an abandoned textile mill. During the initial visit to the mill to see just how big a job this will be Jillian discovers an old woman living there. Jeannie had gone missing a decade ago after her own daughter ran away and she refuses to leave. After Jeannie suffers a fall and is taken to a local hospital, a skeleton of a young woman is discovered in the mill. Jillian knows she must do everything she can to help solve the case.

All the main characters are back. I continue to enjoy Jillian and Candice's friendship. It's also nice to see the Mercy PD become more accepting of her help in general. The textile mill is a neat setting for the mystery and we get to learn a little bit about mill history. The plot is solid and thoroughly entertaining. I continue to enjoy this cozy mystery series.


Apr 14, 5:10pm Top

27. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades is the second book in the Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. While this book is touted as a sequel to Old Man's War the story is a different beast entirely. Gone are John Perry and most of the characters we became familiar with. Also gone is the humorous, light-hearted tone of the first book. This book is darker and more serious, featuring a new protagonist, Jared Dirac.

The Colonial Defense Forces has discovered that their top research scientist, Charles Boutin, has turned traitor and done something completely unexpected: he has attempted a fake suicide, escaped the CDF and convinced three alien races to ally against humanity. Boutin had also had a scientific breakthrough and somehow store a copy of his consciousness in a computer, something never before achieved. Needing to know what's in Boutin's head but unsure where the scientist has disappeared to, the CDF decides to create a Special Forces soldier from Boutin's DNA and attempt to plant his consciousness in the body. When the memory transplant appears to have failed the body is given a new identity, Jared Dirac, and sent off to the Ghost Brigades. Jared enters training and is the perfect soldier. Right up until Boutin's memories start coming back.

Once the story gets going it moves right a long. I liked seeing inside the training of the Special Forces and how different it is from "regular" CDF training. The idea of integration and how the squad members communicate is fascinating.

Scalzi touches on a lot of interesting ideas in this book. A persons consciousness and what makes us who we are is a big focus of Jared's story. So are the ideas of free will and the importance of choice. There is also a question of ethics around the Special Forces units themselves. Since they're created for one purpose only and aren't given a choice about it, does that make them little better than slaves? Some great ideas here. Too bad Scalzi doesn't go too deep with any of these. I'd love to see all the ideas explored in more depth.

Jared's short life story is a tragedy. That is the down side of being a Special Forces soldier. From the trauma of his "birth", to figuring out how to operate his new body and integrate with his platoon, to a short romance with a fellow recruit, to the horror of loss in war. He experiences it all in little more than a year and we are constantly reminded how these soldiers are more like children and simply aren't equipped to deal with the emotions involved or to fully understand everything that's going on. In many ways his character development was rushed. Again, I'd like to have spent more time with this to have an even bigger emotional impact.

While it is not a bad entry into the series there was something lacking. I think I'd have it enjoyed it more if there were another couple hundred pages to spend more time exploring Jared's character development and all these interesting concepts we've been given.


Apr 23, 9:26pm Top

28. The Tyrant's Law by Daniel Abraham

The Tyrant's Law by Daniel Abraham is the third in The Dagger and the Coin series. Again, events pick up not long after the last book left off. The main characters have scattered and yet are tied together through the threat of looming war. Spoilers are for the previous book.

Lord Regent Geder Palliako's tyrannical influence is spreading. He is determined to bring peace to the lands even if he must conquer them all to do so. Newly widowed, Clara Kalliam finds herself and her family in disgrace. Her husband executed as a traitor, Clara is determined to pick up the pieces of her life and continue his work in saving Antea, even if it means turning herself into her country's most loyal traitor. Cithrin has returned to the bank, taking on an apprenticeship in another city. While hoping to escape the war she ends up finding herself directly in its path. Marcus Wester has set off on a quest with Master Kit to track down a secret that could change everything.

This middle volume has the unfortunate task of juggling multiple story threads, some of which do a great deal of traveling while others remain fairly stationary. This gives things an awkward feel at times as the timelines didn't really feel like they fully meshed even though the overall story takes place over several months. This hurt the story's pacing for me and slowed down the plot.

The character building continues to shine as Abraham lays out motivations and works to move everyone towards what will be the grand finale. Watching Clara rebuild her life from absolute bottom was fascinating. Geder continues to slip further into being a tyrant and yet you can't help but feel sympathetic for the guy. He makes some horrifying decisions and yet they make perfect sense when seen from his point of view. I feel especially bad for Cithrin. She took what she thought was the lest bad option in a bad situation, which has probably just made things exponentially worse for herself.

The way this book ends, it's definitely a turning point in the series. The tension is about to wind up significantly. I have some big expectations for the fourth book.


Apr 24, 6:36am Top

>143 Narilka: Although I remember enjoying this one, I didn’t remember too much about what happened in it until I read your summary. The main thing I still remembered was the end which had me scrambling for the next book. :)

Apr 24, 8:41am Top

>144 YouKneeK: If I hadn't committed to a buddy read I'd be straight on to book 4 :) With that ending I really want to know what happens next.

Apr 25, 2:05pm Top

29. I Can't Make This Up by Kevin Hart

Every experience is a potential life lesson. Even if you don’t appreciate it at the time, each struggle in the present is preparing you for something else in the future.

Going into this I really didn't know that much about Kevin Hart. I'd seen him in a few movies (he's hilarious in Jumanji) and I knew he was a stand up comedian though I've not caught any of his shows. I noticed his book was getting some great reviews so I figured why not? I am so glad I gave it a shot.

I Can't Make This Up is a memoir about Kevin Hart's life and how he worked to make it big in the entertainment industry. He covers everything from his childhood, family, friends, career and the many mistakes he's made along the way. The story is told with a lot of humor, as you'd expect from a comedian, brutal honesty and a lot of heart (pun intended). Kevin's life philosophy is surprisingly uplifting and positive. The unique way he looks at the world is what has allowed him to grow from highly negative circumstances and learn from all of life's experiences to keep growing personally and professionally in the face of both adversity and success. Yes, success has it's own challenges too. It's a great message, one that applies to anyone in any walk of life not just those trying to make it in the entertainment business.

I listened to the audio book narrated by the author. I'm starting to think this is the way to go with memoirs when it's possible. His delivery can't be beat and he added so many funny little asides that were not part of the book itself that you would miss by reading the book the traditional way.


Apr 26, 1:34pm Top

I can't believe it. I won a prize from the egg hunt :)

Apr 26, 1:36pm Top

Apr 26, 5:39pm Top

>147 Narilka: Congrats! :)

Apr 26, 8:21pm Top

Apr 26, 9:27pm Top

30. Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

I think I'm turning into an Ilona Andrews fan girl. This is the third series by the author I've tried and it did not disappoint. This one leans more paranormal romance than I normally go for but turns out I didn't mind as much as I thought I would. There was enough urban fantasy mixed in to balance the romance out.

Nevada Baylor has been put in a bad situation. She can either take a suicidal mission or forfeit the family business to the corporation who owns their mortgage. Feeling like she's been set up to fail Nevada takes the job, determined not to cave to corporate bullying. Of course all she has to do is find and convince Adam Pierce, a pyrotechnic Prime (the most powerful classification of magic users), to come home to his family. Just as Nevada gets going she finds herself kidnapped by Connor "Mad" Rogan, a telekinetic Prime who is also trying to track down Pierce. Rogan needs the information Nevada's gathered and Nevada needs a Prime on her side if she wants to have any hope of surviving.

The world building is interesting. The story is set in alternate Houston. Back in the 1800s scientists discovered a serum that unlocks magic powers in humans. Turns out these powers can be inherited by future generations. Magical abilities manifest differently in each person, both in the nature and magnitude of the power, and as with many hereditary traits they stay relatively similar throughout a family line. Naturally the wealthy worked hard to match up the best bloodlines to build up their families, which are now called Houses. In modern day this has lead to many Houses that vie for power over the world.

Nevada is a strong heroine. She's fierce, protective of her family, very determined, has a solid set of morals and a healthy dose of compassion. She has a low grade power of being a human lie detector, which comes in quite useful in her line of work. The rest of the Baylor family is a great supporting cast and their family dynamics are hilarious. Everyone pitches in though Nevada is the primary breadwinner since their father died and mom suffers from an old army injury that limits her mobility. Even the younger siblings and cousin provide assistance. I think I love grandma the most, in her 70s and still a tech mage that fixes tanks! On the flip side you have Connor, aka Mad Rogan. He is morally ambiguous, lived a life of privilege though didn't have a great childhood, is ex-military and his the control he has over his powers scares most people. Yes, he's quite the bad ass. I'm still not entirely sure of his motivations though he and Nevada seem to be a good pair. They challenge each other which provides opportunities for each to grow.

About the romance. I like that it is more drawn out. Instead of insta-love it starts as insta-lust, which is much more believable to me, and seems like it will work its way to the real thing in the next book or two. Also the Andrews can write a steamy kiss that puts many sex scenes to shame. I did get tired of Nevada's habit to obsess about it in her mind. Thankfully those sections never lasted too long.

The book has other flaws too but in the end I just didn't care. The story has tons of action, a neat mystery, fun characters, an interesting world and is just so darn entertaining that I could overlook the inconsistencies.


Apr 26, 10:37pm Top

>30 MrsLee: I found the Ilona Andrews books like candy. Gobble down a whole box(series) and then look for something nutritious.

Apr 27, 8:33am Top

>152 quondame: That's a great way to put it. I think that can be expanded to UF in general or at least the ones I've read so far.

Edited: Apr 27, 5:17pm Top

>153 Narilka: Charles de Lint is UF, but not the girl meets werewolf/vampire of her dreams sort.

Apr 27, 7:51pm Top

>154 quondame: I've not read anything by him. Where do you recommend starting? I'll run out of Ilona Andrews eventually. I enjoy the Iron Druid chronicles which is also UF but different.

Edited: Apr 27, 10:42pm Top

>155 Narilka: Although I may have read some of his early books in the 80s, a short story in the anthology 2005 Flights, Riding Shotgun is what caught my attention. It is pretty far along in his evolution of 'ghost' stories, which have very little in common, particularly in their feel, to any of the various traditions of ghost stories. Many of his books and stories take place in the fictional city of Newford, in the northern Midwest. The first collection of stories in which that city is formed is Dreams Underfoot. The first novel I read set there is Memory and Dream and my favorite is Trader. Both can be read without reading others of the series. Some of the later books follow a specific set of characters, most introduced in Dreams Underfoot through their lives and relationships, and in some these are background characters.

Apr 28, 4:42am Top

>143 Narilka: I'm curious, do you plan on continuing with the Old Man's War books? I thought Ghost Brigades was good enough that I kept going, though I'm not sure I should have after Zoe's Tale.

Apr 28, 10:00am Top

>156 quondame: I put Dreams Underfoot and Memory and Dream on my wishlist so I don't forget when it comes time to switch authors. That's probably going to be sometime in fall since I've agreed to buddy read Ilona Andrews through August lol Thanks for the info!

>157 Karlstar: I think I will. I don't feel in any rush though. Ghost Brigades did not leave me with that "i need more now" feeling though it was still a good read. After looking at some synopses for the remaining books I think I'd do book 3 and stop. I understand that 3 & 4 are the exact same story told from different characters and that just doesn't excite me. Maybe it works better in reality?

Apr 28, 2:09pm Top

>158 Narilka: I didn't want to give that part away in case you were interested, but yes, you can stop after book 3.

May 3, 11:22am Top

31. The Widow's House by Daniel Abraham

The Widow's House by Daniel Abraham is the fourth in The Dagger and the Coin series. Thankfully the story picks up immediately after book three . There is absolutely no way to talk about this book without spoilers.

The spider goddess has lead Lord Regent Geder Palliako's army to victory after impossible victory. Nothing has been able to stand against him except the one woman he desires above all others. He will risk anything to gain her love even if it means destroying everything in his path. Clara Kalliam attempts to keep a balance between being loyal to her nation and undermining it's tyrant ruler while her family stands on both sides of the conflict is a dangerous road to walk. Cithrin bel Sarcour has escaped back to the relative safety of Port Oliva. If only she can figure out a way for the bank to assist in the war efforts without losing everything. Marcus Wester's quest has led to a terrible truth, one that will rewrite history and may help turn the tide in the battle to come.

I am amazed at what Abraham has managed to pull off. He has challenged the traditional Epic Fantasy standard that wars are fought with armies and weapons and I am absolutely loving it. How do you win the war if you can't field a bigger army? If you don't like the game it's time to change the rules and that's exactly what he's done. It's brilliant. His commentary on the banking industry echos reality in an uncomfortable way. "Buying and selling with letters of transfer seems new and frightening to them now, but in three, four, five years, it will be commonplace. All of our partners and debtors will have been using them. The throne will have backed them for years. And when that happens, if that happens, we've become the keepers of the king's debt."

"If we're the king's debt, then we're the king."

The character arcs are fantastic as always. Marcus had my favorite story line this time around. And how could he not! Inys is an amazing addition to the series. Learning the true history of the past from one who was there, along with Kit's insight into the spiders, is powerful stuff and a big key to turning the tide. Cithrin's story was right behind his considering how much they overlap. Regarding Clara, I am a tad disappointed that the first half of Clara's perspective is mostly to show us what's happening with the war on the ground than the wonderful schemes she was working on in the previous book. I get that the perspective was needed, it's just that I truly enjoyed how she balances civic duty against family loyalty against the bigger picture. She ends up in a good place though and I can't wait to see that meeting in book five. That leaves Geder. I still have some hope that he might be redeemable. He performs some acts of true caring and compassion mixed in with the tyranny and obsession of the Spider priests. There is also a hint that maybe he knows deep down that things are very wrong even if he can't currently admit or change his actions.

This was such a satisfying read. The tension is ramping up and things are getting more complex. I am excited to see how this all resolves in the final book.


May 3, 6:39pm Top

>160 Narilka: I’m glad you enjoyed it so much! I liked this one a lot too. I can’t wait to read what you think once you finish the last book.

May 3, 8:57pm Top

>161 YouKneeK: Can't wait to compare notes after :) Right now I wonder if Kit will have to die in order to destroy all the spiders. That will make me sad. I also hope Inys pulls out of his depression and makes some dragonlings! That would be awesome. Have you read the author's Long Price Quartet? Is it worth while?

May 3, 9:26pm Top

Yes, I have read The Long Price Quartet. It was actually what put Daniel Abraham on my radar. I went looking for more of his work after finishing it and found nothing, but I kept checking. When I found out he was writing a new series, I kept tabs on it so I’d know when it was finished. I think I started the first book of The Dagger and the Coin the same month the last book was published. :)

So I did like The Long Price Quartet a lot, although it’s been almost 9 years so the details have gotten really blurry. I particularly liked the form magic took in the series, and that’s the part I still remember the best. I remember the series as being more unique than most, although I did have a lot less fantasy under my belt at the time. I know I liked the characters and the story also, but I don't remember them as well.

May 8, 1:02pm Top

32. On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, a place where a world of no magic (the Broken) and a world of high magic (the Weird) overlap. Edgers can travel between worlds but they never really belong to either. Rose thought she could build a better life by practicing her magic but she couldn't have been more wrong. Seen as a sort of pariah, Rose is forced to work in the Broken at a crap job to make ends meet while she raises her two younger brothers. When a strange, powerful, undeniably blueblooded man named Declan shows up at Rose’s home her life is complicated further as he is determined to make her his own. As if that's not enough, a flood of creatures hungry for magic have entered the Edge and Edger families have started disappearing.

I've read crossover fantasy before but I think this is the first time I've seen one where there is a middle area where the realms connect. I like the idea a lot and the world building is one of my favorite things about the book. The Edge is a fascinating place. There is a high variety of magic but the main focal point is a person's "flash," the ability to send out a focused burst of magic as either an attack or defense if the user is good enough. The more power the user has, the hotter the flash, the brighter/lighter the color with white being the hottest, similar to a flame. The variety of magical beasts and abilities are creative and weird. The fact that there were no vampires or werewolves in sight was refreshing.

In classic Ilona Andrews fashion, Rose is a strong heroine. She's smart, determined, funny, truly cares for her brothers and has compassion for her neighbors even when they don't deserve it. It makes her highly likeable. Declan is a typical alpha-male love interest. Devastatingly handsome, highly a powerful and is a bit of a jerk to start off. He took a while to grow on me. All the supporting characters are also great, especially Rose's family. Her brothers are absolutely adorable and her Grandomther is spunky, which I'm noticing is another Ilona Andrews trend. The main antagonist is properly evil and gives some rather cheesy speeches. That's ok as it was all part of the fun of the story.

Fair warning, there is a big romance element to this book and it does get a little graphic making it inappropriate for younger readers. While not my favorite plot line, it was well handled and adds an element that gives the story a fairy tale feel.

Over all I enjoyed my journey to the Edge. I understand the series is more a collection of loosely related stories and this one stands well on its own with everything wrapped up by the end.


May 8, 2:08pm Top

>32 Narilka: I read On the Edge a few years ago. There are several other series where our world overlaps the fae realm - The Teri Windling Borderland series is the first that comes to mind - and some that have thin places which can come to pretty much the same thing. Some what different is the Tinker series by Wen Spencer which has geographic Pittsburgh switching back and forth for a while. The last series is by far my favorite.

May 8, 8:33pm Top

>165 quondame: Thanks for the recommendations. Tinker sounds interesting.

May 9, 1:37pm Top

This thread is getting rather long. Starting a new one here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/291134

I've also decided to start tracking my series stats. This will be....interesting.

This topic was continued by Narilka reads in 2018 - Part 2.

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