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Narilka reads in 2016

This topic was continued by Narilka reads in 2017.

The Green Dragon

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1Narilka
Edited: Dec 31, 2016, 11:48pm Top

Happy New Year! 2015 ended up being a good year of reading for me and here's hoping for a great 2016. Each year I try to set some goals for myself. Sometimes I'm more successful than others. For 2016 I'd like to read more from my TBR pile. To this end I've also joined a TBR challenge group. I will also be going for my PMP certification the first half of this year which means I'll be studying a lot these first few months. Hopefully it doesn't cut into my reading time too badly! As always, I enjoy writing reviews for the books I read so I will be posting those as I go.

A Little Background
I tend to read a lot of fantasy. I do read and enjoy other genres, it's just that fantasy is my favorite. I am fairly forgiving so I expect to have many 3 and 3.5 star books.

2015 reading log: https://www.librarything.com/topic/185667

My Rating System
- Absolutely horrible, don't bother

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

- An entertaining read

- Very good, I would probably recommend this book

- Excellent! A new favorite and one I could read again.

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

Currently Reading

Listening To


Books Read in 2016
1. Here We Go Again by Betty White
2. The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett
3. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
4. The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett
5. Four by Veronica Roth
6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
7. The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher
8. Love Saves the Day by Gwen Cooper
9. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
10. Imitation by Heather Hildebrand
11. The Book Theif by Markus Zusak
12. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
13. Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
14. Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop
15. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
16. The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse by Leann Sweeney
17. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge Fifth Edition by The Project Management Institute
18. Sabriel by Garth Nix
19. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
20. Twilight's Dawn by Anne Bishop
21. Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley
22. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
23. Lirael by Garth Nix
24. Killing Patton by Bill O'Rielly & Martin Dugard
25. Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb
26. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
27. Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
28. Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards
29. Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb
30. Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
31. Abhorsen by Garth Nix
32. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
33. Armada by Ernest Cline
34. The Cat, the Professor and the Poison by Leann Sweeney
35. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
36. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
37. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
38. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
39. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
40. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
41. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
42. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Fun Stats
Books Read: 42
Total Pages Read: 15816
Books Acquired in 2016: 53
Rereads: 5
From Mount TBR: 12

2Narilka
Jan 1, 2016, 10:52am Top

This is my TBR challenge pile. The goal is to finish at least 12 of them this year.

3SylviaC
Jan 1, 2016, 3:24pm Top

Good luck meeting your goals, and also with achieving your certification.

4Sakerfalcon
Jan 2, 2016, 8:26am Top

Some great books on that pile! I look forward to following your reading and hope that 2016 is a good year for you in all ways.

5majkia
Jan 2, 2016, 8:35am Top

Good luck and good reading this new year! I'll be lurking along.

6Peace2
Jan 2, 2016, 6:06pm Top

Good Luck with the reading and the certification. I look forward to seeing how you get on with the pile, as I'm pretty sure a couple of those are on my pile too.

7heathn
Jan 2, 2016, 6:13pm Top

Good luck with your TBR pile.

8Narilka
Jan 4, 2016, 3:41pm Top

1. Here We Go Again by Betty White



Here We Go Again is the autobiography by Betty White covering her TV career from 1949-1995. The copy I have was revised in 2010 to include an additional introduction that briefly catches the reader up on events that have happened between the original publication and 2010 as well as a color photo section. The lady has had quite the career and is still going strong! Betty has pretty much done it all in the industry: sitcoms, talk shows, game shows, variety shows, stage acting, musicals, commercials and even several films. The book was an absolutely charming retelling of her career. Betty's love for work, animals and life in general really comes through and the book maintains that upbeat, cheerful tone throughout. We're also treated to a brief history of television as her career started just as TV was taking off. Things were definitely different back then. This was an enjoyable read and a great book to start the new year with.

Rating:

9Narilka
Jan 4, 2016, 8:14pm Top

Today is also my 7th Thingaversary! I need to plan a trip to Chattanooga to celebrate at McKay :)

10MrsLee
Jan 4, 2016, 11:46pm Top

Happy Thingaversary! May you have many more books to read.

11Sakerfalcon
Jan 5, 2016, 4:13am Top

Happy Thingaversary! Don't forget to tell us about all your celebratory acquisitions!

12Peace2
Jan 5, 2016, 6:28am Top

Many Happy Returns for your Thingaversary! May there be much happy reading!

13AHS-Wolfy
Jan 5, 2016, 10:04am Top

Happy Thingaversary!

14jillmwo
Jan 5, 2016, 6:40pm Top

>9 Narilka: Ah, there is much fun to be had in contemplating new book acquisitions! But Sakerfalcon's right -- don't forget to tell us what you ended up with!

And am I right that I counted 22 books in that TBR pile photo in msg #2?

15Narilka
Edited: Jan 5, 2016, 8:33pm Top

>14 jillmwo: Well crud. Now I need to see which two are missing lol

I'll post when I make my purchase. I really like the LT app as my wishlist is always at hand :) We are in the process of booking a hotel room now. It will be this month for sure barring a snow or ice storm. Neither are currently in the forecast but you just never know with the weather.

Edit: I figured it out. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey and Fool Moon by Jim Butcher are missing. Kushiel is on my desk and the other is on the table behind me!

16NorthernStar
Jan 6, 2016, 12:54am Top

Happy thingaversary!

17imyril
Jan 13, 2016, 3:25am Top

Belated Happy Thingaversary! I do like the look of your TBR pile - there are some corkers there, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on them.

18Narilka
Jan 13, 2016, 12:45pm Top

>17 imyril: Thanks and welcome!

19lynnoconnacht
Jan 17, 2016, 4:22pm Top

Happy belated Thingaversary! I love the look of your pile. I hope you'll enjoy them a lot! ^_^

20Narilka
Jan 18, 2016, 3:45pm Top

>19 lynnoconnacht: Thanks! So do I :)

21Narilka
Jan 18, 2016, 4:51pm Top

2. The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett



Humans have been slowly losing the war against the demons. Yet there is hope! The Warded Man has returned, proving that it is possible to stand up to the demons. Some even call him the Deliverer returned. Yet a man has ridden out of the desert, Ahamann Jardir, who has forged all the desert tribes into one demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself the Shar'Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and carries with him an ancient spear crown, lending strength to his claim. Once friends, the Warded Man and Shar'Dama Ka are fierce adversaries. As humanity begins to ready itself for the battle to come all are unaware of a new breed of demon stalking the night, one more intelligent and deadly than ever seen before.

The Desert Spear is the second in The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. The prologue starts with introducing us to two new kinds of demons. What a tease! Then it's into the main story, which is a complete 180 from the first book. No longer are humans hiding behind their wards each night but there is a warrior society who takes the fight to the demons, refusing to let fear rule them. It is an abrupt change, the first of several in this book.

We are immediately introduced to an all new point of view character, Ahmann Jardir. The first quarter of the book then proceeds to jump back and forth in time, filling us in on Jardir's backstory with insight into Krasian history and society, and current events from his perspective. While Brett's writing is superb, the history and peoples interesting, I couldn't wait for that section to end so we could rejoin our heroes from book 1. I'm also not sure if we're supposed to like the Krasian's or not. Theirs is a brutal society with a heavy caste system and a lot of violence towards women, children and khaffit, the lowest male station in Krasian society. A Krasian dictionary is included at the end of the book which came in very handy instead of trying to remember a bunch of "foreign" words.

From there we are taken back to the heroes from book one. Again, we're shown how events change people. Each character is given an interesting arc. Arlen has learned to channel his anger into a weapon against the corelings but it's starting to take a toll on his humanity. Leesha's headstrong ways have allowed her to grow into a very capable leader and one amazing healer. The downside is she's starting to head into Mary Sue territory. Rojer starts to gain confidence as he learns to adapt his Jongleur skill to fight against the corelings in the most unique way, though he still has those moments of insecurity. We are also introduced to another new character, Renna Tanner. Renna was a background character in book one and is one of the most interesting additions to book two. I really enjoyed reading her story and can't wait to read more of her.

With humanity finally starting to stand up against the night, the story becomes all about the people and human drama. The demons are left in the background for a good chunk of the book. However, when they do come back to the forefront it is not disappointing! That teaser we're given in the prologue pays off in full. This is also the book's biggest downside for me. I really missed the demons! With just how long it takes to get back to them I wish we'd seen more of them, especially the new species and their abilities. Hopefully there's more of this as the series continues.

Rating:

22Narilka
Jan 18, 2016, 5:51pm Top

Finally hit up McKay and did my Thingaversary shopping! Here's what I bought:

The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowsky - I've read the other two Witcher books and remembered they were entertaining. Hope the third is as well.
A Cat Named Darwin by William Jordan - Looks like a nice animal memoir.
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay - It's highly recommended here on LT. It would probably be in my TBR list this year if I had bought it before Tigana. I'm determined to read my first Guy Kay this year.
Grave Peril by Jim Butcher - Book 3 of the Dresden Files. Book 2 is in TBR.
Weekend Warriors by Fern Michaels - My mom recommended this series and sent me book 15 for Christmas. I can't start a series that far in so picked up book 1 to see. Unless each is truly stand alone?
Cat to the Dogs by Shirley Rousseau Muprhy - Book 5 in the Joe Grey mysteries. They have been fun, short cozy mysteries so far.
Animist by Eve Forward - Bought it for the cover art and title lol Hope it's good.
Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett - I can't believe I haven't read this yet!

23Sakerfalcon
Jan 19, 2016, 4:59am Top

Some great books there! I can't wait to see what you think of Good omens!

24AHS-Wolfy
Jan 19, 2016, 5:25am Top

>21 Narilka: Glad to see the second in the series receive a good review. I've read the first a few years ago and enjoyed it but never got around to continuing. Perhaps this year sometime.

>22 Narilka: Nice haul for your Thingaversary!

25Narilka
Jan 20, 2016, 7:59pm Top

>23 Sakerfalcon: & >24 AHS-Wolfy: I might have to shift my reading plan for this year now lol

26Narilka
Jan 23, 2016, 5:01pm Top

3. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher



Harry Dresden is down on his luck. One of his few friends and main sources of income refuses to talk to him. Just when things are so bad he can't afford his next meal there are murders in the city that need his kind of specialized expertise. The crime scene: a brutally mutilated corpse, large paw prints and it's a full moon. Take three guesses - and the first two don't count!

Fool Moon is the second book of The Dresden Files. This book is definitely a step up from Storm Front. The mystery in this one was more enjoyable and the writing over all is getting better. I think the fact that Harry is dealing with a werewolf being identified fairly early on frees up the writer to have more fun with the story. There are multiple suspects and more layers of motives to unravel rather than having a large focus on figuring out what kind of supernatural element is being dealt with.

The main characters could still use some work. For a such powerful and knowledgeable wizard, a point that is brought up several times, Harry Dresden sure doubts himself a lot. He's horrible with women, his witty banter is not always so witty and he beats himself up over things that aren't his fault. Still, there's a certain geeky charm about him. It's not until he hits rock bottom that Harry finds the strength he needs to get everyone through one tricky situation. Then there's Lieutenant Murphy. She is strong and capable but she's also short sited, close-minded and tends to jump to conclusions way too quickly for a detective who has been trained to follow the facts. I get her frustrations with Harry but it's also highly annoying at how inflexible and self righteous she is. Hopefully this is something that is worked out in the next book.

That said, the story is action packed and a fun page turner. There are some great one liners and I think Harry Dresden is heading in the right direction.

Rating:

27MrsLee
Jan 24, 2016, 2:14am Top

>26 Narilka: The characters do grow. Perhaps not as quickly as we would wish, and they are never flawless, but growth happens. :)

28Narilka
Feb 11, 2016, 12:31pm Top

4. The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett



The Daylight War is the third book in The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. The quality of writing remains high and the overall story interesting. Unfortunately I think this volume suffers a bit from middle book syndrome. Coming in at just under 700 pages there are some significant pacing issues and the story begins to lose it's way before finding itself again in time for the grande finale.

As with book two we are introduced to a new POV character, Jardir's first wife Inevera. We are treated to flashbacks of her backstory as well as her thoughts and actions in current events. I have mixed feelings about her story. Her background is interesting and I did like reading about how the dama'ting are trained. The similarities and differences between it and sharum training is fascinating. On the downside this hurt Inevera as a character for me. Part of what made her a great secondary character came from the mystery that always surrounded her. How did she know what she knows? Where did her powers come from? Now that the mystery is gone and her motives known she is not as much fun to read about. I also did not need another rehashing of the same events that have already been played out in the first two books. I hope this is not a trend that continues as it feels like lazy story writing and a way to add pages to the book instead of adding anything meaningful to the plot, characters or world.

If you don't like the Krasians or at least find them interesting you may be somewhat disappointed with this book. The Krasian society features prominently and they given about half the page time. As much as I don't enjoy reading about their outdated gender roles I do like how their society as a whole has been impacted by the Greenlanders they are invading. It's interesting to see how the cultures are integrating. Women as warriors would never have happened if it had not been for the Hollowers proving just how wrong some of their notions are. It takes a lot to get there, but it's a start and shows maybe that their society has hope of changing after all.

It suddenly seems as if all the characters are overcome with the need to have sex with each other. It is not written in an explicit way, there is just a lot of it. I stopped counting how many times "the sound of flesh slapping flesh" or "moans of pleasure" or close variations were used. It almost became like a soap opera, trying to keep track of who was doing whom.

As with the previous novels, the characters keep growing and changing. Rojer is given a lot more time to come into his own. I love what Brett has done with his music powers! Arlen and Jardir are learning to develop and control their powers. It's interesting to see how two people use very similar aspects both differently and in exactly the same way. In doing so both has solidified the idea that they are the Deliverer in the minds of their people whether they like it or not. Leesha has learned about the headaches of leadership, literally and figuratively, and is learning to cope with them. The only one that hasn't changed to much is Renna. I have started to dread reading any scene where she has to speak and some of the dialog between her and Arlen are cringe worthy.

Most fun of all we are treated to a brief look into demon society. More demons please!

Though it might not seem like it given my prior comments, I did enjoy the book overall. Brett's writing quality remains high and the story interesting. I plan to finish the series, though I'm going to wait for the fifth book to be written so I can do it all in one shot.

Rating:

29Narilka
Feb 13, 2016, 7:32pm Top

Gratuitous cat photo ahead!

For Christmas I bought the cats a heated pet bed as an experiment. It was a hit, especially with my two girls. Even now the bed rarely goes unoccupied. It really only fits one comfortably but sometimes they can't help themselves and like to cuddle in it. It has been worth every pennny :)

30tottman
Feb 13, 2016, 7:44pm Top

OMG they are adorable! I have a heated cat bed but there is only limited sharing, more often a king of the hill competition.

31SylviaC
Feb 13, 2016, 10:26pm Top

Those are two very contented kitties!

32MrsLee
Feb 14, 2016, 12:41am Top

>29 Narilka: Love it! My son has a photo of the comfy expensive cat beds his MIL purchase for his new cats. Empty. Then he showed me a photo of the cats happily sleeping in the cat beds he made for them. Two cardboard boxes. I'm glad yours turned out to be a successful purchase for your kittahs.

33hfglen
Feb 14, 2016, 4:34am Top

Cuuuuuute! And as Sylvia says, those are two happy kitties --- bet you can hear the purrs all round the room.

34lynnoconnacht
Edited: Feb 14, 2016, 1:08pm Top

Awwwww, that's a lovely photo! *hearts* You have adorable cats!

35Sakerfalcon
Feb 15, 2016, 6:39am Top

Beautiful cats and an adorable photo! Cat pics are never gratuitous!

36Narilka
Feb 15, 2016, 9:15am Top

Thanks :) I do wonder if the bed will be used as much in the warmer months. Either way, no complaints!

37Narilka
Feb 17, 2016, 10:15am Top

5. Four by Veronica Roth



Four is a collection of short stories and scene snippets set in the world of Divergent. They are all told from Tobias "Four" Eaton's point of view. The first story, The Transfer, tells us about Tobias' Choosing day and how he came to be a member of Dauntless. The second story, The Initiate, gives us the background on how Four choose his name and, like the title says, his initiation period into Dauntless. The third story, The Son, is about Four's first few weeks as a Dauntless member as he learns his place in their hierarchy and shows the beginning of events that unfold in Divergent. The fourth story, The Traitor, is set after Triss has become an initiate and further sets up events in Divergent. At the end there are three scene snippets of events that happen in Divergent told instead from Four's perspective.

Each story was interesting. I enjoyed Four's point of view and it was nice to go back to the Divergent world. This is a great read for fans of the series and anyone who wanted more insight into the character of Four.

Rating:

38Peace2
Feb 17, 2016, 11:19am Top

>37 Narilka: That one's been sat on the pile beside the bed with every intention of me reading it 'soon', but then priorities or just not being by the bed when I choose my next one has meant it's still there. I should get on to it - your comments are encouraging. Maybe set myself the target of reading it before the next film comes out which is fairly soon I think.

39Narilka
Feb 18, 2016, 9:02am Top

>38 Peace2: Cool, I hope you enjoy it :)

40Narilka
Feb 20, 2016, 11:42am Top

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline



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.

Rating:

41tottman
Feb 20, 2016, 1:56pm Top

I loved this book. I read it the first time and listened to it the second time. Agreed on Wil Wheaton's wonderful job. Such a fun book. Can't wait for the movie!

42Narilka
Feb 21, 2016, 6:57pm Top

7. The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher



Rhea is the miller's daughter and the intended a mysterious nobleman, Lord Crevan. Commoners don't turn down nobles when they propose marriage so before she knows it Rhea is off visit his manor before the wedding. When she gets there she discovers that she's not the first wife the lord has had - she will be the seventh. To make matters even stranger, each of the previous wives has been somehow imprisoned in his enchanted house. In an effort to avoid their fate Rhea is given a series of magical tasks to complete or else he will marry her.

The Seventh Bride is told in a fairy tale style and the plot is reminiscent of Bluebeard. The entire story is told with Rhea as the narrator. She is a capable heroine and a resourceful young girl. I was rooting for her the whole time. She meets several interesting and magical characters along the way, some that are helpful with some less so. The story has a nice level of creepiness to it and while there are a couple of gruesome parts, it never feels like a horror story.

It was an interesting and entertaining quick read.

Rating:

43heathn
Feb 22, 2016, 12:56am Top

>40 Narilka: Glad that you liked it! I really enjoyed it, and the nostalgia hit all the right notes for me. I have his new one, Armada, on my shelf, and am hoping that it is as good. Sounds like it might be reminiscent of The Last Starfighter.

44Sakerfalcon
Feb 22, 2016, 7:16am Top

>42 Narilka: I just bought a copy of this, so I'm glad to see that you gave it a positive review!

45Narilka
Feb 22, 2016, 8:56am Top

>43 heathn: That's what it seemed to me too based on the blurb. I haven't bought it yet though. I hope it's good :)

46lynnoconnacht
Feb 22, 2016, 2:59pm Top

>42 Narilka: Oh! I really enjoyed The Seventh Bride when I read it. I'm glad to hear you've enjoyed it too! ^_^

47Narilka
Mar 4, 2016, 12:03pm Top

8. Love Saves the Day by Gwen Cooper



Prudence is a five-week-old kitten when she meets Sarah for the first time. She knew it as soon as they met: Sarah was to be here One Special Human forever and goes home with her. After three wonderful years the worst thing happens. Sarah doesn't come home one day. The next thing Prudence knows is all their things is in boxes and she's on her way to live with Sarah's estranged daughter, Laura. Suddenly finding herself in a new apartment with humans she barely knows Prudence thinks it could take years to get them properly trained. If only her Sarah would come back and take her home again so life can return to normal.

Love Saves the Day by Gwen Cooper is a story of hope and how the love of an animal can make us better humans. It's about how a mother and daughter became divided when their own lives were turned upside down on the day their own apartment was demolished and the feline who eventually unites them both. The story is told primarily from two points of view, Laura and Prudence, and also with two chapters from Sarah's perspective. The Prudence chapters are very well written. She has such a simple understanding of the world and her logic is explained beautifully. It is both heart breaking and joyful to read. Sarah's chapters are to fill in the backgrounds on Laura childhood and how she met Prudence, as well as insight into what it was like living on the Lower East Side. This contrasts nicely with present day Laura and how she's changed based on those events.

It's a beautiful story, one that pulls at the heart strings.

Rating:

48Narilka
Mar 19, 2016, 8:04pm Top

9. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett



Polly Perks had to become a man in a hurry. Cutting her hair and donning men's clothes was easy. Learning fart and swear in public and to walk with a certain gait took a little longer. And all so she can find her brother Paul, who had gone to war a year ago and never returned. Aided by a pair of well placed socks Polly joins the army. After all, there is a war on. There's always war. The nation is in dire straights, willing to take just about anyone for the war effort. Next thing she knows Polly's squad is thrown into the thick of it, without any training, heading into the heart of the enemy. All they have on their side is a vampire, a troll, an Igor and a few other lads that joined up at the same time. It would also appear that Polly "Ozzer" Perks isn't the only one with a secret.

Monstrous Regiment is the 31st Discworld novel and the 3rd in the Industrial Revolution thread. This time around Pratchett tackles the ideas of gender roles, war, religious intolerance, the use of well placed socks and whether an entire nation could, in fact, be insane. Borogravia is an extremely backwater place. Their god, Nuggin, has increasingly come out with odder and odder "abominations". They have become so odd that the population has given up worshiping him and direct their prayers to the Duchess instead. They are also constantly at war with someone. This time it happens to be the neighboring country of Zlobenia. With the constant war, their economy is falling apart and there is a food shortage. Most recruiting parties leave villages empty handed. That is until Polly and the others decide to enlist. All of the "lads" join the army for various reasons, none of which have to do with patriotism.

We are introduced to some terrific new characters. Polly "Ozzer" Perks is a highly capable and resourceful young lady. She's smart, likable and a very fast learner in this mans army. Sargent Jackrum is an old time campaigner and manages to forge his group of little lads into a formidable fighting machine. Maladict the vampire has sworn off blood and transferred his addiction to coffee. Igor is out to prove he's a capable surgeon. There is also a troll, a religious fanatic and a pair of very close "friends", one of which has a fascination with matches. And each one of them has a secret.

It was a great read, highly entertaining. There are plenty of laugh out loud funny parts that blend seamlessly with more serious topics in only the way Pratchett can. This one will also make you think. There are even some great action scenes. While Monstrous Regiment could be read as a stand alone novel, if you would like to be "in" on the character cameos and extra references that always appear in Discworld novels I would recommend reading at least one Watch book and The Truth. It will not hurt the story at all if you don't though, it just adds that little something.

Rating:

49Sakerfalcon
Mar 21, 2016, 5:20am Top

>48 Narilka: This is one of my favourite Discworld books. It's the one that got me back into the series after I stopped reading it during Interesting Times. Glad you enjoyed it too!

50Narilka
Mar 25, 2016, 4:43pm Top

10. Imitation by Heather Hildebrand



Everyone is exactly like me. There is no one like me.

This is the idea that Ven contemplates constantly. Created in Twig City, she has lived her short life as an Imitation learning how to mimic her Authentic, Raven Rogen, the real human she has been created to duplicate should she ever be needed. After four years of waiting it seems like she will not be called for duty. That is right until the moment that Raven is attacked. Suddenly Ven finds herself thrust into the real world to be used as bait for the people that tried to harm Raven. As Ven starts to dig deeper into Raven's life, she finds things are not as they seem and begins to question everything she's been told.

Imitation is the first in The Imitation Series by Heather Hildebrand. The premise reminds me somewhat of the movie The Island. Wealthy members of society pay to have exact clones made of themselves to do with as they wish. It could be anything from attending boring meetings while their Authentic takes a vacation in Tahiti or for organ harvesting. We're given a short introduction to what life is like in Twig City, the place where Imitations are created and trained, before Ven is literally thrust into action. It's an odd mix. Ven has had her whole life to prepare for this but ends up like a fish out of water once it comes time to actually live up to her purpose in life. It's also a little bit of a coming of age story. Twig City is separated by gender and the two don't mingle. Which makes things quite natural for the obligatory YA romance to happen with a young man Ven barely knows.

The story has a nice bit of mystery to it. Why was Raven attacked? What exactly is going on in Twig City? Answers are slowly revealed throughout the book and also help to flesh out Ven's character and is what gives her a purpose besides what she was created for. And then the story ends abruptly on a small cliff hanger.

Rating:

51Narilka
Apr 15, 2016, 9:07pm Top

11. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



It is 1939, Nazi Germany. Hitler is rising to power. Death has never been so busy. Liesel Meminger is on her way to her new foster family when her younger brother dies on the journey. At his graveside her life is changed forever when she picks up an object left forgotten in the snow. It is a book, The Grave Diggers Handbook, and it her first act of book thievery though she doesn't know it at the time. With the help of her foster father Liesel soon learns to read and so begins her love of books and words and the need to obtain more.

The Book Thief is the story of Liesel Meminger's childhood during a dark time of human history, WWII in Nazi Germany. Liesel finds herself stealing books from any place she can including a Nazi book burning and the mayor's library. Anything to feed her voracious appetite for words. The story is told with Death as the narrator which ended up being a brilliant choice. Death is exhausted by his job and the war which adds a different perspective to events. Zusak doesn't pull any punches. He gives us the reality of just how bad life is for everyone during this time, highlighting the Jews suffering with a different perspective on the Holocaust and that of the extreme poor in Germany. And yet he's managed to tell an absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking tale about the simple joys of childhood, love, courage, survival, friendship, death and grief. I feel completely in love with Liesel and her adopted family as well as the neighbor Rudy and poor Max. I was sad at the end both due to events, it is wartime, and knowing that my time with the characters was done. This is a book that's going to stay with me for a while and I'm sure to read again in the future.

Rating:

52Narilka
Apr 25, 2016, 1:54pm Top

12. Daughter of the Blood by Ann Bishop



Seven hundred years ago a Black Widow witch saw a prophecy in her tangled web of dreams. Now Witch, a new Queen who will wield more power than the High Lord of Hell himself, has come but she is still young, open to influence and corruption. Whoever can control Witch will rule the Darkness. And so begins a game of ruthless politics over the fate of one young girl and the Realms.

Daughter of the Blood is the first in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy. It is a dark fantasy series set in the Realms of the Blood. Blood society is matriarchal with castes ranked by the color of the jewel you wear. The darker the jewel, the more power you have. Bishop has reversed typical fantasy roles. Not only do the women rule but she highlights the physical and social differences between the sexes and shows the fallacies of the system that the people of her world have accepted. She challenges typical gender roles regarding relationships, sexuality and power between men and women. She also explores the idea of how empowered women can be when they believe in themselves and just how easy it could be to destroy that empowerment.

The setting is also different. There are three realms: Terreille, Kaeleer and Hell. It is not medieval nor is it particularly modern. The best description I can come up with is otherworldly. Magic is used instead of technology. People are split into two groups, landen and Blood. Landen are your normal, every day people while Blood is the ruling class that wears jewels, has magic and is fairly long lived. Among the Blood this is broken down further into the living, the living dead and the demon dead with a few races mentioned. Each Realm is divided into territories, with each territory ruled by a Queen and her court. There are various roles in the Queen's court though details are left somewhat vague at this point.

While there are many side characters, the story focuses on four characters in particular: Saetan, Daemon, Lucifer and Jeanelle. The first three are almost pretty much exactly what you think. Saetan is the High Lord of Hell and Daemon and Lucifer are his sons. Daemon and Lucifer were taken as children and raised as pleasure slaves in their aunt's court. Both men have been tortured and abused for their entire lives, their only hope laying in the prophecy of a future Queen who is destined the cleanse the blood of their aunt's taint. Jeanelle is the youngest granddaughter of Chaillot Territory's Queen. Her family sees her as a disturbed young girl who makes up fanciful stories and has been in and out of a mental institution since she was five. Not is all as it seems at the hospital as many of the girls admitted never return to their families. Each character is caught in their own prison, some mentally, some emotionally, some physically, with each person struggling to break free as the story progresses. Each character also must face what they are willing to sacrifice to ensure the prophecy comes true.

The story is a slow reveal with many threads that is spread across all three books. This is a reread for me and it's fun to see just how each book builds upon the one before it. The first book ends on quite a cliff hanger so make sure you have the second one ready to go if you end up enjoying the first/

This series is not for everyone. There are graphic sex scenes and plenty of violence, especially violence against women and children. The scenes are very intense and can be uncomfortable to read. Light moments are mixed in to break things up but it is a series not for the faint of heart.

Rating:

53Narilka
Apr 27, 2016, 8:15pm Top

13. Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop



The Blood have waited centuries for the coming of Witch. The living myth. Dreams made flesh. She who will rule the Darkness. But not all are happy for the arrival of their savior. Some refuse to believe. Others consider her only a myth. And some few look forward to using her, a puppet in their games of control and politics. With time and the love of her family Jeanelle's physical wounds have healed. Her mind is still fragile, threatened by the memories of how her childhood was violently ripped away. And yet destiny calls. The day of reckoning draws near, the day Jeanelle must accept her fate or be driven into the Twisted Kingdom.

Heir to the Shadows is the second in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy. The story picks up two years after book one ends. Jeanelle has barely survived the violence that threatened to take her life and her power. Her physical wounds have healed. Her frightening memories are mostly kept at bay by amnesia. Her loved ones are afraid to fill in the gaps because they don't know whether she will be able to accept what happened or if it will drive her mad. A semblance of normal life returns.

This book becomes more of your typical fantasy fare. While there are still some action sequences, gone is the over the top violence and sexual situations. It also feels a bit more like a middle book that is bridging the gap between the first and final acts. The story slows down significantly and it's pacing plods along in the beginning half as Jeanelle recovers. Things pick up midway through as we learn more of the world and it sets up most of the players for what is yet to come.

The first story was set primarily in Terrielle, the Realm of Light. This time the story is mostly set in Kaeleer, the Realm of Shadow. This realm is more Other and more magical than we've seen before. Dorothea's taint and perversion of what it means to be Blood is just stating to spread. It gives us insight into how Terrielle could have been had Dorothea not existed. It's here that we're introduced to the Kindred, animals that are also Blood. They come in all shapes and sizes from centaurs and satyrs to dragons, unicorns and wolves. They are the same and different from human Blood. They have Jewel ranks yet manage to avoid many of the failings that comes with great power for humanity. Unfortunately their form of innocence leaves them open to other influences they're unprepared for. Bishop does a great job of giving each animal its own personality and insight into how other species could think and act if they had magic.

The villains begin to move more openly. Dorothea and Hekatah continue to scheme, both together and against each other, each trying acheive her own ends. It is a common fantasy theme of evil starting to turn against and consuming itself that works well in this setting.

This is the book where Lucifer comes into his own. We finally learn what it means to be an Eyrien warrior.

Events wrap up neatly this time around leaving all characters in place for the finale to come.

Rating:

54Narilka
Apr 30, 2016, 8:42pm Top

14. Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop



Jeanelle has made her Offering to the Darkness and accepted her fate to rule as Queen and protector of the Shadow Realm. The taint from Terrielle continues to spread. Even Witch cannot stop it alone. Somewhere, lost in the madness of the Twisted Kingdom, is Daemon, her promised Consort. Yet even their combined strength may not be enough to secure the Realms from their enemies. A final sacrifice must be made for Jeanelle to save the Realms and her loved ones and to cleanse the Blood.

Queen of the Darkness is the third in the Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop. The final installment picks up 5 years where the second book leaves off. War is brewing. Hekatah and Dorothea's scheming knows no bounds and won't stop until all the Realms are brought under their rule or are left in ruins.

All of the main characters arcs are nearly done. Jeanelle has transitioned from a young, shy, unsure girl into a confident and powerful young woman. She rules in Kaeleer with her court full of powerful Queens, Warlords and Kindred. Jeanelle feels keenly the responsibility she has shouldered, that she never wanted, to take care of the Blood and the land. Saetan has settled into his role as family patriarch and court Steward. Luciver, freed from the corruption and slavery he was trapped in, has found peace in his life. He has become a loving husband, doting father and his joy comes through on the page. He has also accepted his role as the Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih and takes his duties very serious. And then there's Daemon. Lost in the Twisted Kingdom he has finally started to find his way out and is faced with the challenge of finding out exactly what happened that night seven years ago. He still has a long way to go and I don't want to say too much more for fear of major plot spoilers.

This was the most emotional of the three books for me. To see the characters fight so hard for happiness, get to taste it for a moment and then have it ripped away was heartbreaking. It is a dark fantasy series so there is some collateral damage expected. Bishop doesn't pull any punches.

The action is fast paced and the gore factor is higher in this book than the last. The final 100 pages of the book were hard to put down.

The only draw back in this series in general, and why I can't give any of the books five stars, is the repetitive descriptors that Bishop uses. You get "sapphire voice" and characters "snarling" at each other constantly. It was particularly bad in the second book and still there, but less glaring, in the third.

I thoroughly enjoyed my return to the Black Jewels trilogy. Bishop has gone on to write other stories in the Black Jewels world, but the trilogy is where it's at for me. I know I will return again some day when I need that dark fantasy fix that is unique to Bishop's writing.

Rating:

55Narilka
May 19, 2016, 9:28pm Top

15. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson



snow crash
[snoh-krash]
verb
1. when a computer crashes at such a fundamental level that it can no longer control the CRT in the monitor, thus the monitor displays a screen of static.

The United States is a thing of the past. The west coast has been carved up by private organizations and entrepreneurs. Gated, heavily guarded communities have become their own sovereign territories. What little remains of the government is limited to small enclaves. Things are just this side of anarchy. Hyperinflation has devalued the dollar so that people use trillion dollar bills or cyber currency. That hyperinflation as had a negative impact on most of the rest of the world as well causing refugees to flee in the hope that someplace else, any place else, may be better. Only virtual reality offers an escape from reality. That is until the discovery of Snow Crash.

Hiro Protagonist's business card reads "Last of the freelance hackers" and "Greatest sword fighter in the world." But that's in the Metaverse. In reality he works as a pizza delivery guy. During a botched delivery he meets and befriends Y.T., a streetwise fifteen-year-old girl and skateboard courier. The two become partners in the intelligence business, gathering information to sell. While jacked in to the Metaverse Hiro discovers a virus that is infecting hackers both both their avatars in cyberspace and in the physical world. Soon it becomes a race to stop the spread of the virus before it's too late.

Snow Crash is a futuristic cyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. It has a complicated and ambitious plot covering a variety of topics: religion, the nature of language and linguistics, ancient Sumerian civilization, archaeology, computer science, virology, politics, globalization and philosophy. The most fascinating part is how Stephenson used the Sumerian myth and the Tower of Babel to create a nuerolinguistic virus. Some of the technology parts are starting to feel dated, though that's not unexpected for a book written in 1992. That said, it's amazing how culturally relevant the story is. Given the current state of politics, it is easy to imagine our society devolving in such a manner.

The characters take a little time to build. Hiro Protagonist (such a silly name) is an out of work hacker trying to make ends meet as a pizza delivery driver. Y.T., which stands for Yours Truly, is a teen aged skateboard courier. Y.T. reminds Hiro of himself when he was fifteen so he befriends her and they form an unlikely partnership. Gradually their personalities and motivations are filled in. Just as they're starting to feel like fleshed out characters, Stephenson lets it all go and they become more like cardboard cutouts used to prop up the plot by the end of the novel.

I listened to the audiobook over the course of two months during random long commutes made for work. This is definitely NOT the ideal way to get through such a complicated story. A couple times I had to look up the Sumerian myths because I had forgotten what some of the terms meant. This is not necessarily a bad thing as I enjoy mythology and did not know much about the Sumerian's prior to the novel, but it didn't help me keep the continuity of the story. The narrator, Jonathan Davies, does a great job. There were times I forgot only one person was doing the reading!

Rating:

56Narilka
May 20, 2016, 10:12pm Top

I have ramped up my studying for the PMP certification. It's going to be audio books only during commutes for another month or so until I pass this thing. I miss my regular reading!

I have discovered the joy of a well narrated audio book. Tim Curry is the narrator for Sabriel and he's fantastic. I'm going to have to download the rest of the series just to listen to him :)

57imyril
Jun 5, 2016, 7:12am Top

>55 Narilka: oh blimey, I can't imagine my first contact with Snow Crash being as an audio novel - well done for making head or tail of it! I have a huge amount of affection for it (it was one of my favourite books when I discovered it at university), although I'm not sure I'd enjoy it if I reread it now. I tried rereading The Diamond Age and got burned.

58Narilka
Jun 10, 2016, 9:59pm Top

>57 imyril: That's my first experience with Neal Stephenson too. I may try one of his more recent books at some point. I liked his style.

59Narilka
Jun 10, 2016, 9:59pm Top

16. The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse by Leann Sweeney



After her husband passes away from cancer Jillian Hart is slowly putting her life back together in a small South Carolina town, keeping herself busy with her quilting business and doting on her three cats. That is right up until the moment her house is broken into and one of her cats goes missing. Convinced her purebred Abyssinian was catnapped, Jillian soon finds herself in more trouble than she imagines when, during the course of her crime solving, she stumbles across a dead body.

The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse is the first in the Cats in Trouble mystery series by Leann Sweeney. I needed a quick read to get me through a short business trip and this ended up being the perfect pick. Jillian ends up in every pet lover's nightmare when one of her beloved cats goes missing. Add to the fact that she was recently widowed and fairly new to the small South Carolina town she had settled in with her late husband, the character's heightened panic is completely understandable. Her three cats are all named after wines, Chablis, Syrah and Merlot, which is a fun touch. I liked that Jillian is a bit of a fish out of water, learning how to navigate living in a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business and doesn't let anyone discourage her from getting to the bottom of the mystery. The story has good pacing. The characters around town are quirky and have interesting personalities. I ended up enjoying the book a lot more than I expected to. I will definitely continue this series in the future.

Rating:

60Narilka
Jun 19, 2016, 6:05pm Top

17. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge Fifth Edition by the Project Management Institute



If you're looking to pass the PMP exam this book is a must read. I just passed the exam today and understanding all the processes and concepts in this book is a must. The writing is overly complicated and not geared to someone new to the profession. For folks new to project management I think you'd be better off reading "project management for the real world" type books instead while you gain some experience before attempting the PMBOK.

Rating: N/A

61Narilka
Edited: Jun 19, 2016, 7:56pm Top

18. Sabriel by Garth Nix



Sabriel was sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young girl. As she is about to graduate Sabriel hears news that her father, the Abhorsen, has gone missing. Sensing that something isn't right, Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. Having little experience with Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead, Sabriel sets off on an adventure that sets her will pit her against the forces of life and death and brings her face-to-face with her own destiny.

Sabriel by Garth Nix is the first book in The Abhorson trilogy. The story opens fairly ominously with the death of a woman and child. The series of events that unfolds in the prologue grabs the attention and sets the stage nicely. We are introduced to two of the world's types of magic, given a little foreshadowing for what's to come and a slightly eerie tone is set. Once the story starts, we're gradually introduced to the world. Ancelstierre has a feeling of 1940's England while the Old Kingdom feels distinctly like medieval Europe where Free Magics and creatures that go bump in the night now reign. The two kingdoms are separated by a wall and crossing the border is like taking a portal to another world where even the weather is different. And, quite naturally, that wall is failing.

The characters we get to know are also excellent. Sabriel is a great fantasy heroine. She's a smart, clear headed, strong and a well balanced character. She looks at problems logically to make informed decisions and isn't afraid to take action. Touchstone starts off fairly annoying. It's obvious that he's more than just a guardsman and his servile attitude at first is grating. I'm glad the character out grows this habit as the story progresses. Nix had a lot of fun with Mogget. Mogget is the perfect magical entity in the form of a feline that both says and does things I can imagine a cat would.

The story is well paced. The action and suspense is superb. The final climax had me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time. I love the eerie/creepy undertone that is carried throughout the book. It's exactly what you'd expect when dealing with the dead that don't want to stay dead. Nix has a refreshing take on necromantic magic that was quite fun to read. There is even an understated romance plot that is quite sweet and not at all like today's YA stories of instant love.

I listened to the audio book of this narrated by Tim Curry. I think I could listen to Tim Curry read from the dictionary! He is especially fun at narrating villains and magical creatures. That said, his depiction of a young girl's voice at the beginning of the story is so bad I laughed out loud.

Rating:

62Sakerfalcon
Jun 20, 2016, 8:01am Top

>61 Narilka: I loved Sabriel and thought the sequel Lirael was even better.

63Narilka
Edited: Jun 20, 2016, 10:44am Top

>62 Sakerfalcon: I think I know what my next audio book will be :)

Edit: Lirael is downloading :D Also narrated by Tim Curry.

64Sakerfalcon
Jun 21, 2016, 8:01am Top

Hope you enjoy it! I may be biased because of the library setting ...

65Narilka
Jul 1, 2016, 3:48pm Top

19. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas



Young Edmond Dantes has everything: he's engaged to a beautiful woman, is about to be named captain of a ship and is well liked by his peers. This perfect life is shattered when Edmond is framed for a crime he didn't commit and thrown into prison for the rest of his life. After fourteen years of suffering an opportunity to escape presents itself and Edmond takes full advantage of it. With his freedom obtained, Edmond is ready to put his plans for revenge against those who wronged him in motion.

The Count of Monte Cristo is the timeless tale of adventure, love, betrayal and revenge. It's was so much fun to read, I don't know why I waited so long. The story starts off slow and then gains momentum once Edmond is thrown in prison. Soon after events are moving at a very fast pace making the story quite a page turner. My favorite part is while Edmond is in prison gaining his education from the Abbot. It is this education that allows Edmond to so carefully plan out his revenge. And boy is he thorough! I was surprised at the many Oriental references and influences in the book. It helps to lend an exotic edge to the Count's character that makes him so interesting once he returns to France. The Count himself is a great, multi faceted character in general. It's a shame most of the other characters are not so complete.

My copy is an abridged version. At the end it has a summary of the parts that were cut out. Seems like I only missed out on some of the meandering side stories while the main tale was left intact. I do enjoy Dumas's style of prose so I'm sure those parts are just as entertaining to read. I may need to look for an unabridged version for a reread.

Rating:

66jillmwo
Jul 1, 2016, 4:47pm Top

I agree! It's a splendid book, The Count of Monte Cristo. I think the first time I read it, I too was handed an abridged copy. The problem with that version was that it totally left out a bit of character development for Mercedes, specifically that she considered suicide. I didn't get that part until I read the unabridged version; frankly that bit about Mercedes' situation was heartbreaking in context.

I do love that book. It's a great read!

67Narilka
Jul 1, 2016, 5:03pm Top

>66 jillmwo: Hmm. There must be various abridge versions because that part about Mercedes was in my copy. According to the notes the version I have left out Cavalcanti's story. He is introduced and then basically just disappears with a minor reference towards the end. It also shortened Baron Danglar's story significantly. He never makes it to Italy with the $5M, just leaves his wife and France to avoid embarrassment about the funds after Monte Cristo takes the $5M intended for the hospital. They never meet up again.

68Narilka
Jul 7, 2016, 5:41pm Top

20. Twilight's Dawn by Anne Bishop



Twilight's Dawn is the 9th book in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series. This is a collection of four novellas that feature characters from the series. I would recommend having read the main trilogy and Tangled Webs for a full understanding of the characters and the events they've experienced prior to reading this collection. The remaining books are helpful in regards to timelines but not required to enjoy these stories.

The first story is Winsol Gifts. Daemon and Jeanelle are settling into married life and it will be their first Winsol together without a crisis to deal with. This was a sweet, day in the life story that shows how the SaDiablo family is when the Realms are at peace and what it means for the Blood to celebrate their version of the winter solstice.

Next is Shades of Honor. Set not long after events in Tangled Webs, Surreal has returned to Ebon Rih still recovering from her wounds. The visit is meant to help her heal both physically and mentally. When her former lover Prince Falonar begins to challenge her family's rule on the region it may be just enough for Surreal's mind to begin walking the paths to the Twisted Kingdom. This one has all the intensity and drama that I love about the Black Jewels books. Lucivar is shown in his full Eyrien Warlord Price glory. We're given more insight into Eyrien society and what it means to be a warrior in peace time. The story stays focused on Lucivar and Surreal, which I enjoyed as their character interplay is a lot of fun to read.

The third novella is Family. This one takes places 10 years later. Lady Sylvia, Queen of Dhemlan, is taking her sons on a trip to see another blood family, but not all is what it seems. A serial killer with a penchant for young boys has laid a trap for the family. Things turn quickly turn vicious. This one reminds me of Daughter of the Blood in style with regards to the level of violence and it's target being children. It is one of the shorter stories so the mystery is solved fairly quickly and the story shifts to focus on the Saetan/Sylvia dynamic.

The final story is The High Lord's Daughter. This is a story that spans several decades. I cannot talk about this one without major spoilers so click the tag at your own risk. It begins one year after Jeanelle's death as Daemon is still coming to grips with the loss. As readers we always knew this day would come, he being one of the long lived races and she is not, but I never expected Bishop to write about it. I started to tear up within the first couple pages and the story does not pull any emotional punches. Jeanelle left Daemon with the instruction to "take a year to grieve, and when that year is over, promise me you'll take up your life again." While Daemon does as instructed and involves himself in the world around him, he does not open himself back up to love. A little time passes and then we also witness Saeten pass into the darkness with Daemon's help. Again, never something I thought Bishop would ever write. With some help, and several centuries for his heart to heal, Dameon finds out that, yes, he can live life to its fullest and love again though it will never be the same as what he had with Jeanelle. It is tragic, hopeful and ended much different than I was expecting even after I read the blurb on the back of the book. It definitely feels like the end to the series and quite a bittersweet ending at that. Bishop has written on her blog that she may come back to the series again at some point but I wouldn't be surprised if that's not for a long time if ever.

I am torn. I think this is a great read for fans of the series but I can also see that last story really pissing fans off. Overall I enjoyed the stories and was moved by them. Read that final story at your own risk.

Rating:

69zjakkelien
Jul 7, 2016, 7:21pm Top

>68 Narilka: Thanks! A friend of mine told me not to read the last story because it ruined the whole black jewels universe for her. I didn't read it because of that, but I was still curious what could have been so bad. Now I see... I don't think I would like to read this story, but now at least I know what it was about.

70Narilka
Jul 7, 2016, 7:46pm Top

>69 zjakkelien: I'll give you full spoilers if you're interested. Let me know.

71zjakkelien
Jul 8, 2016, 1:50am Top

>70 Narilka: Ah, there is more? Yes, I'd be interested in full spoilers. Thanks!

72Narilka
Jul 8, 2016, 8:59am Top

>71 zjakkelien: No problem. Sent you a comment.

73zjakkelien
Jul 8, 2016, 3:05pm Top

>72 Narilka: Thanks!!

74Narilka
Edited: Jul 19, 2016, 9:04pm Top

21. Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley



"You're a tool, to be used and directed for the good of the people. Sometimes you'll be a scalpel, cutting out disease. Sometimes you'll be a sword, and you'll take on threats with all the strength you can muster. And sometimes...you'll be a stiletto, a hidden weapon that slides quietly into the heart."

Merger talks have begun between two top secret organizations: The Checquy, a centuries old British organization that protects the people from supernatural threats, and the Grafters, their mortal enemies. A delegation of Grafters has been sent to London for the talks and it's not long after they arrive that there's a strange increase in supernatural attacks. The negotiations are at works as tempers flare and old hatreds are renewed on both sides. A temporary peace exists but for how long?

Stiletto is the second book in The Checquy Files by Daniel O'Malley. This one picks up right where The Rook leaves off with an uneasy truce between the Checquy and the Grafters as they work to negotiate a merger. This time around the story focuses on two young girls who get swept up in the mysterious attacks through no fault of their own. Fans of Myfanwy Thomas do not fret! While Myfanwy is no longer the star of the story she does have a supporting and important part to play. I admit I was a bit sad when I realized this would not be a Myfanwy story, though I can see why. I'm not sure if a second book using Myfanwy's amnesia as a main plot device would've worked out very well given that by the end of The Rook Myfanwy has definitely proved herself capable and was no longer handicapped by her condition. Instead, we're immediately introduced to our new heroines. Felicity Clements, Pawn of the Checquy Group, wants nothing more than to be a soldier and hopes to join the elite fighting group, the Barghests, one day. Odette Leliefeld, the second youngest member of the Grafter delegation and a direct descendant of their leader, mostly just wants to see some sights in the city and be spared from having to deal with too much of the "unnaturalness" of their new allies. Odette somehow manages to make herself the poster child for Checquy hatred of the Grafters and Pawn Leliefeld is assigned to be her bodyguard. Born to hate each other, the two find they must work together if the alliance between their people is to be successful.

The story is slow going in the beginning. The first chapter had me giggling at the ridiculous situation the first new character is put in. This immediately segues into an introduction of the second character and several info dumps. The pacing drags. Unlike the flashbacks used in the first book, the info dumps in the first half of the story slow everything way down and are almost boring. Things pick up significantly in the second half of the book as the action and mystery take center stage and the info dumps phase out.

That said, the rest of O'Malley's writing is in top form. He smoothly works the humour in with the weird and the wonderful. His action scenes are fast paced and the mystery of just who or what is behind the attacks is engaging. While the negotiations between the Checquy and Grafters is the main bulk of the story, I love how he uses Felicity and Odette's budding friendship to represent the tensions and teamwork between the two groups as a whole. The breadth of supernatural powers displayed by members on both sides is just as creative and astounding as it was the first time around. O'Malley's creativity is amazing!

Overall I really enjoyed the book. No, it's not The Rook and that's ok. I hope there will be further books in the series.

Rating:

75Narilka
Aug 13, 2016, 7:58pm Top

22. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett



There's trouble on Aching farm. A strange green monster has appeared in the river. A headless horseman has been seen riding about. Things from nightmares have been spotted in the hills. And now Tiffany's little brother has gone missing and it's up to her to get him back. She grabs her weapon (a frying pan), her magic book (granny's old copy of Diseases of Sheep) and some unlikely allies, the Nac Mac Feegle, the Wee Free Men, the fightin', thievin', tiny blue-skinned pictsies who were thrown out of Fairyland for being Drunk and Disorderly. Feeling as prepared as she'll ever be Tiffany sets off on her quest to find her brother and put a stop to the strange goings on around the farm.

The Wee Free Men is Terry Pratchett's the 30th Discworld book and first in the Tiffany Aching story line. This is designated as a YA book which I found odd because, aside from Tiffany being a 9-year old girl, this book easily stands up with the rest of the Discworld novels. This time around Pratchett takes on classical fairy tales and gives them his own imaginative twist. This is combined with his typical moments of laugh out loud funny situations and a surprising philosophical depth that those familiar with the series have come to expect.

All the new characters are wonderful. Tiffany is a highly capable young lady who thinks she may be a witch like Granny Aching was and has taken it upon herself to rescue her brother when he's abducted by the Fairy Queen. Not because she really likes him exactly, he is sticky and whiny, but because he's hers. Tiffany has the First Sight and Second Thoughts, making her uniquely qualified for her trip into Fairy Land. She also has a frying pan and is not afraid to use it! The Nac Mac Feegle are a group of "pictsies" and are a mad, drunken, fightin' family of wee free men that have decided to help Tiffany on her quest. They a decidedly Scottish feel to them by speaking with brogue and wearing kilts and I found them absolutely charming. They have a full history and a surprising amount of depth and nuance to their characters and motivations.

If you are a Discworld fan and have not picked up the Tiffany Aching books due to the YA classification, put those fears aside. This is an absolutely delightful entry to the series.

Rating:

76SylviaC
Aug 13, 2016, 9:55pm Top

I haven't ventured far into Discworld yet, but my son lent me The Wee Free Men to read, and I thought it was loads of fun. I loved that Pratchett named one of the characters "Not-as-Big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-Bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock", and used the full name throughout the book.

77jillmwo
Aug 14, 2016, 5:41pm Top

Pratchett has much to recommend him. I recently read Mort and enjoyed it...

78Narilka
Aug 14, 2016, 7:26pm Top

>76 SylviaC: Since you liked Tiffany Aching you may like the Witches story line. The first one of those is Equal Rites if you haven't read it yet.

79SylviaC
Aug 14, 2016, 7:51pm Top

>78 Narilka: I actually just bought that at a book sale last month! I have 3 or 4 other Discworld books on my shelf, but it's kind of daunting to really get going on a series that seems to run in so many different directions. So maybe Equal Rites would be a good next step for me.

80Narilka
Aug 14, 2016, 10:20pm Top

>79 SylviaC: Awesome! It can be intimidating starting a series with 30+ books in it. The great thing about the Discworld is each is self contained, there are no cliff hangers, with characters that carry over from book to book. And since they run as a series within the series you don't need to read them in publishing order unless you want to because continuity isn't broken as long as you read the chosen sequence in order. Which other ones did you pick up in that sale? I hope you enjoy Equal Rites :)

81SylviaC
Aug 15, 2016, 10:31am Top

>80 Narilka: I also got The Light Fantastic at that sale, and at other sales I found Interesting Times, Pyramids, and The Truth. I haven't read any of them yet. I don't see many of them at sales, so I buy whichever ones I do find. I read The Colour of Magic on audio a few years ago, and enjoyed it.

82Narilka
Aug 15, 2016, 11:31am Top

>81 SylviaC: Very minor spoilers. They probably won't hurt anything if you click them but if you'd like the books to be 100% spoiler free, don't click :) The Light Fantastic follows The Color of Magic so you're set there if you wanted to read it. Pyramids is the first of Ancient Civilizations and the Discworld take of Ancient Egypt. The Truth is the second book of the Industrial Revolution sequence though they are so unrelated you could probably read it out of order. The first is Moving Pictures which is the Discworld take on the golden age of cinema while The Truth focuses on the printing press and the invention of newspapers. You would miss one minor "invention" from Moving Pictures but it's explained fairly well in The Truth so I don't think it's detrimental by not having that history.

83SylviaC
Aug 15, 2016, 3:38pm Top

>82 Narilka: Sounds like I'm safe going with any of them. As for Moving Pictures and The Truth, I'm far more interested in printing presses than cinema, so that shouldn't be a problem. Thanks for sorting them out for me!

84MrsLee
Aug 16, 2016, 9:47am Top

The lovely thing about Pratchett books, is that any one of them can be read and be a complete book in itself. The first five I read were in no particular order whatsoever, but I never felt that I was missing something.

85Narilka
Aug 18, 2016, 8:30pm Top

23. Lirael by Garth Nix



Lirael is a Daughter of the Clayr, a group of women who have the gift of Sight, the ability to see into possible futures. Abandoned by her mother at a young age, her father unknown, with dark hair and pale skin, Lirael doesn't look like the rest of the Clayr. Nor has the Sight awoken in her. To take her mind of her troubles Lirael has decided to become a librarian. The Great Library of the Clayr is not without it's dangers. The books themselves can be trouble and there are monsters hidden in the Library's depths. Joined by a magical dog Lirael begins to explore the Library, even the lower levels where no one has gone for years, discovering many secrets.

Prince Sameth, son of King Touchstone and Queen-Abhorsen Sabriel, is the new Abhorsen-in-waiting and is completely terrified by what this means. In order to avoid his duties for as long as possible, Sameth sets out on a journey to locate his friend from school who has decided to visit the Old Kingdom for the first time. Little does Sameth know there are Necromancers stirring up trouble, making travel dangerous, and the dead are no longer staying dead. An evil scheme is afoot. What is Sameth heading into?

Lirael by Garth Nix is the second book in The Abhorson trilogy. The story picks up 14 years after the events in Sabriel. We are introduced immediately to Lirael and life on the Clayr's glacier. The world building in this section is fantastic! I love the idea of a whole society living inside a glacier that's part of a mountain and really wish I could make a trip to their Library. Then the story jumps ahead a few years to introduce Sameth. He has been going to school in Ancelestierre and is on his way home to the Old Kingdom. We are treated to a view of royal life and some of the responsibilities expected of the royal family.

Lirael is another highly capable and likable heroine. Just like any teen aged girl she suffers the angst of wanting to fit in. While she may have doubts about herself being a true Clayr because she does not yet have the Sight, she has no doubts about her skills as a Charter mage. This is quite useful during her explorations of the Library. This first section was so much fun to read that switching characters felt rather abrupt. Sameth is almost the exact opposite of Lirael. He's a young, sniveling boy that just wants to make toys all day. He doesn't want to have anything to do with any of his family's responsibilities and literally runs away from his problems at the first opportunity. Nix doesn't pull any punches with his characters though so you can imagine just how well his lack of good sense goes for Sameth.

The story has good pacing. There is plenty of action, excitement and humor throughout to balance the darker, scary parts. The interactions between the Disreputable Dog and Mogget are some of my favorite scenes. Such great banter between the two creatures. Unlike the first book, which could be read as a stand alone, this one definitely is the first half of a larger story. There are some reveals at the end, one of which I had already guessed, that are a big hook for what is still to come.

Again I listened to the audio book narrated by Tim Curry. His performance is just as great as the first book.

I enjoyed this book so much I downloaded book three before finishing!

Rating:

86Narilka
Aug 23, 2016, 12:14pm Top

24. Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard



Killing Patton is the fourth entry in Bill O 'Rielly's Killing series. It covers the end of WW II in Europe and the role General Patton played in the events leading up to the Allies final victory over Germany. Based on the subtitle I was a bit disappointed in the book. 2/3rds of the book's focus was on other players involved in the war rather than Patton. The odd coincidences around his death are touched on in the prologue and then not mentioned again until almost the very end. Full details and minor speculation on the circumstances of Patton's death weren't touched on until the Afterward and then only briefly. What the book does a great job on describing the Battle of the Bulge as well as giving a general overview of events going on in the region and what led to Germany's downfall. The details about all the other main players and their histories is fascinating. As a book about Patton, it leaves a lot to be desired. As a book focused on the ending of WW II in Europe, it does a great job of giving the highlights in a factual, well written manner.

Rating:

87MrsLee
Aug 23, 2016, 12:25pm Top

>86 Narilka: Wow, that does seem misleading. Now I'm going to have to read up a bit on Patton though because I don't remember what the intrigue was. Most of what I know is from the movie with the huge title: PATTON. :)

88TempleCat
Aug 23, 2016, 2:51pm Top

>87 MrsLee: Gen. Patton died in a car accident in Heidelberg a couple of weeks after VE Day, if I remember correctly. I never looked into the circumstances of the accident, but it certainly would have been suspicious!

89Narilka
Edited: Aug 23, 2016, 4:20pm Top

>87 MrsLee: & >88 TempleCat: This site gives a pretty good summary of the events in bullet points with interesting speculation: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/11/the_mysterious_death_of_gen_geor...

90MrsLee
Aug 23, 2016, 5:03pm Top

91TempleCat
Aug 23, 2016, 5:36pm Top

>89 Narilka: Thank you, Narika! That's much more detail than I ever heard. (I lived in Heidelberg for several years and had a number of friends in the U.S. Army who were stationed there.)

92Narilka
Edited: Sep 1, 2016, 3:08pm Top

25. Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb



Fitz's days as a royal assassin are behind him. Having saved the Six Duchies and secured the Farseer throne, Fitz is happy to let most of the world think he's dead and retire to a simple life of exile with Nighteyes. Destiny, it seems, has other ideas. Prince Dutiful, heir to the throne, has disappeared. Fitz has been called again to serve his Queen and the Six Duchies to retrieve the Prince before he misses his betrothal ceremony, a necessary political event to ensure peace between kingdoms. Soon Fitz sets out on a seemly simple errand unaware of the web of treachery he's about to stumble into.

Fool's Errand is the first in Robin Hobb's Tawny Man trilogy. The story picks up 15 years after events in The Farseer Trilogy. The story is a slow build told from Fitz's first person point of view. Unlike other authors that beat readers over the head with reminders of what happened in previous books, Hobb works the high points in a way that flows naturally with the story while also filling us in on what happened to Fitz and Nighteyes in the years between stories. We are caught up on his current life and the new persona Fitz has adopted, Tom Badgerlock, and find he has been raising a boy, whom he loves like a son. Fitz has more than earned his rest and yet it is time for him to re-enter the world as it is his blend of abilities and skills that make him the one person uniquely qualified to find the prince.

As always, Robin Hobb is a master storyteller. Her characters are utterly believable. They are flawed and act on motivations based on their world view. They make mistakes and suffer the consequences. Fitz is the both the same and different. He's older and a tad wiser now though elements of the lovable boy we watched grow up are still there. His bond with Nighteyes has deepened and he understands the Wit much better now. Nighteyes, too, is starting to feel his age. He's no longer the young pup he used to be and has lived much longer than the average wolf. The Fool is back and a joy to read. We gain more insight into his background and his interactions with the other characters is phenomenal. Yet that bit of mystery around the Fool remains.

The plot, while initially simple, has a lot of twists and turns. Just as you think you understand where things are going, events twist and then twist again. The pacing is well done. The slow build pays off well with a climax that will keep you reading long into the night. All lose ends are nicely tied up in the end. I know this is just the first book in a trilogy but it could almost be read stand alone.

I laughed. I cried. I was swept away to far lands and completely immersed in the characters, the world and their story. Highly recommended.

Rating:

93Narilka
Edited: Sep 6, 2016, 12:50pm Top

26. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey


"That’s the cost. That’s the price. Get ready, because when you crush the humanity out of humans, you’re left with humans with no humanity.

In other words, you get what you pay for."


The Infinite Sea is the second book of The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. The story picks up within days after the events in book one. Cassie and the rest of the kids have holed up in a dilapidated hotel to plan their next move and then the story stalls. All the momentum built up at the ending of the first book is lost and the story plods along for the first third of the book until the plot finds itself again and the reader is immersed back into the post-apocalyptic world of alien invasion.

Yancey does a better job of identifying which character's chapter we're in so it is less confusing to have multiple first person points of view as more characters are explored in this book. Poundcake and Ringer are given their own chapters. The story behind why Poundcake never speaks is explained as is Ringer's childhood. Cassie and Evan, while having their own chapters, take more of a back seat this time around, which suited me fine since their romance is the aspect of the first book that annoyed me the most. Through part of Evan's back story we're introduced to Grace, another Other who has a minor role to play. Ringer, though, is turned into quite the bad ass. I love her logic. It is Ringer that asks the important questions and starts to work through those things that just don't add up. It is also Ringer who figures out more of the Other's over all strategy.

Once it gets going, the action is intense. Philosophical and psychological effects that the Others are having on humanity is explored through the thoughts of the characters. The romance, while still there, is greatly downplayed.

Overall, The Infinite Sea was a good sequel. It changed my perspective on things that happened in the first book. The story doesn't move forward very far but it does set things up for what is to come.

Rating:

94Narilka
Sep 18, 2016, 1:01pm Top

27. Golden Fool by Robin Hobb



Rescued from his would-be Piebald kidnappers, Prince Dutiful has returned home and life at Buckkeep has resumed its normal pace. The price of the rescue was high: Nighteyes is dead. With a heavy heart Fitz finds himself again living at Buckkeep. Maintaining his pose as Tomb Badgerlock, Lord Golden's manservant and bodyguard, Fitz secretly resumes his old duties as spy for the Farseers. With his old mentor visibly failing, Fitz must take up more and more duties to help keep the kingdom stable. The problems are many. Prince Dutiful's betrothal to the Narcheska of the Outislands is fraught with tension as many of the Buck nobles disagree with the decision and the Narcheska herself is keeping many secrets. Piebald threats and persecution of the Witted have increased, both of which could topple Farseer throne and heir if the Prince's secret was to be revealed. Even Fitz's relationship with the Fool is shattered when secret's from the Fool's past are revealed. Court intrigues swirl. On top of that Fitz has been tasked to teach the Prince the Skill, the hereditary magic of the Farseers. With little support Fitz finds himself struggling just to survive.

Golden Fool is the second in Robin Hobb's Tawny Man trilogy. The story picks up from the exact same scene where the first book leaves off. Fitz has more or less resigned himself to life again at Buckkeep, posing as a bodyguard/servant for Lord Golden while resuming his old duties under Chade. Chade, realizing that Fitz has progressed far beyond a mere apprentice, names Fitz as his journeyman and first in line to inherit the old spymaster's job. Fitz is having a hard time of it. He has lost half of his soul with Nighteye's death and must relearn how to live without the extra senses and companionship of his wit-bond. Resuming his old life is a much needed distraction from the loss and also lets Fitz keep his oath to serve the Farseers. Initially against the idea Fitz becomes the (unwilling) Skillmaster for Prince Dutiful and Chade has set him the impossible task of finding and creating a Skill Coterie for the Prince. All while keeping a secret eye on the Narcheska and her Outislanders, doing his best to stay fatherly to Hap, maintaining a friendship with Jinna, keep up appearances with "Lord Golden" and a number of other things going on in court. I'm exhausted just thinking of all the balls he's juggling! With everything else going on Fitz finds the only way to keep his sanity is in his friendship with the Fool. Then this one comfort is taken away when visitors from Bingtown accidentally reveal secrets from the Fool's past making Fitz doubt if he ever knew his friend at all.

Both character and plot development move at a glacial pace. Pages fly by with little progress but there in lies the secret to Hobb's style. She takes her time, allowing the tensions to mount until events erupt in a dramatic manner. While it did not bother me in the first book, the second book felt more drawn out. Characters lamented over their pasts and I found it somewhat frustrating after it was repeated several times. Yet it was never boring. It is exactly what real people do, belabor in our minds over some error and beat ourselves up over if only we could go back in time and do things differently then maybe... This is just one of the things that help make Hobb's characters so believable.

Poor, poor Fitz. Just when he seems to have things in his personal life going well, he manages to screw it up pretty badly. There were so many times I wanted to shake him to make him think before speaking or acting in the heat of the moment. He screws up his relationships with pretty much everyone in this book and only begins to repair some of them towards the end of the novel. The Fool, I'm sad to say, is more of a secondary character in this book. He disappears from the story almost entirely for a while. I missed his presence as much as Fitz did. Introduced in this book is Thick, a dull-witted servant of Chade's that also happens to be extremely strong in the Skill. I loved how Fitz's relationship with Thick progressed. Fitz had to think outside the box to gain Thick's trust.

Many plots are set into motion with little resolution. Instead we have most of the players on the board ready to to move on to the finale. I have no idea how Hobb will wrap this all up in just one more book.

Rating:

95Narilka
Sep 21, 2016, 9:45am Top

28. Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards



Chosen by a Horse is a memoir by Susan Richards of the time she rescued a former racehorse, Lay Me Down. It is a sad and sweet tale. Both Lay Me Down and Susan come from similar backgrounds of abuse. Through caring for Lay Me Down, Susan re-learns that life can be full of joy and love and is worth the risk of being hurt. It begs the question of who rescues who when we take an animal into our lives. While I am a general animal lover, I don't know much about horse care or horse personalities so really enjoyed those parts. Susan also writes about her own efforts as a 40-something woman attempting to date again with rather mixed results. Keep a box of tissues handy, this one is a tear jerker.

Rating:

96Narilka
Oct 2, 2016, 2:10pm Top

29. Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb



The Narcheska’s challenge to Prince Dutiful: Lay the head of the dragon Icefyre, whom legends say is buried deep beneath the ice of the island Aslevjal, upon her hearth. Only then can they be married and there be peace between the Six Duchies and the Outislands. An impossible task, assuming there even is a dragon somewhere in the ice. Not all the Outisland Clans agree with this effort to kill their country's mythic defender. There also appears to be something strange, a darker force, behind the Narcheska's demand. Can Fitz and his strongly-Skilled but untested coterie get to the bottom of the mystery and save the alliance? And what about the Fool, the White Prophet, who was left behind on the docks?

Fool's Fate is the final book of The Tawny Man trilogy. The story picks up right where the second book leaves off, with our band of unlikely heroes setting off on the Prince's quest. The book is aptly titled. For the first third of the book we are left to wonder about the Fool's fate, how he has been left behind. How will his vision of the future come true if he is separated from his Catalyst? Can Fitz, as the Changer, prevent a part of those visions and still save the world? Then, as the story progresses, the title takes on a whole new meaning as events unfold and still we wonder, what will be the Fool's fate?

While dragging in places, overall plot moves at a better pace. As always the story is heavily focused on the characters. This time it is the Skill coterie: Fitz, Chade, Dutiful and Thick. Prince Dutiful is growing from boy to man, from prince to king. He is in a difficult situation and makes the best of it as he can. Chade is his scheming self, highly intelligent and stubborn, with fuller understanding of the political element that is involved. It was interesting to watch his power plays and maneuvering, and even more fun when he's thwarted. Fitz is Fitz, always thinking he knows what's best for everyone else and proven wrong at inconvenient times. Thick is the true surprise of the series. It has been great to watch his character grow within the confines of his limitations. While he may be a half-wit, he ends up the strongest of the Skill users with some truly astonishing powers.

At it's heart the story centers around the Fool and Fitz's relationship. The White Prophet and his Catalyst. The Fool, who has been much in the background, is finally approaching his moment. Driven by his visions to save the future of the world, he is prepared to face his destiny even if Fitz doesn't agree. Theirs is a different kind of love story. While not the typical romantic love that most epic fantasy series have, it is a love story just as moving and heartbreaking. It is a reminder that there are many types of love and each is powerful in its own way.

It is a bittersweet ending to the series. I think both Fitz and the Fool were short changed. I don't feel nearly as happy for Fitz/Molly as I thought I would. After living a whole other life for 15 years, believing your first love dead, Molly would've moved on. She had married, had 7 children and then shortly after her husband's death she can take Fitz back? It was too easy how Fitz returned to her life and just wasn't believable for me. On the flip side, the fact that Fitz still doesn't get what it cost the Fool to give him up is absolutely in line with Fitz's character. He really is that dense. It's not that Fitz and the Fool went their separate ways. I find it believable that the Fool needs time to heal just like Fitz did at the end of Assassin's Quest. Just that Fitz/Molly feels so superficial. Things were tied up a little too neatly and felt rushed. The last couple chapters, after all the hardships the characters went through, seemed too easy, too perfect. I am glad that Hobb is writing another series as the story doesn't feel complete.

Rating:

97Sakerfalcon
Oct 3, 2016, 6:06am Top

>96 Narilka: The last couple chapters, after all the hardships the characters went through, seemed too easy, too perfect.
This is how I felt after finishing the trilogy. I wondered if Hobb was reacting to the criticism she received over the downbeat ending to the original trilogy, but it felt like she went too far the other way and it wasn't believable.
You may be glad to know that the hard times return in the new trilogy

98Narilka
Oct 3, 2016, 8:40am Top

>97 Sakerfalcon: That's good :) I hope she can wrap up the latest trilogy better than Tawny Man. I'm attempting to wait until the 3rd one is written before starting. It's hard! How are the Rain Wilds books?

99Sakerfalcon
Oct 3, 2016, 8:56am Top

Very soap-opera-y! A large cast of characters whose stories entwine, with lots of dramas, conflicts, relationships - far less introspective than any of the Fitz books or even the Ship trilogy. I enjoyed them despite some very OTT almost pantomime villains and victims. The dragons were good too.

100hfglen
Oct 3, 2016, 10:42am Top

>99 Sakerfalcon: Having just finished Blood of Dragons, I can only agree! The Duke of Wossname (shows how much I took in, doesn't it!) would be pretty incredible even in a panto. So in summary, Narilka may need not merely to suspend disbelief, but switch that faculty off completely in order to fully enjoy the series. That said, I looked this morning for others in the series, and came away with something else entirely for the simple reason that Hillcrest Library had absolutely nothing of Robin Hobb's.

101Narilka
Oct 3, 2016, 11:09am Top

>99 Sakerfalcon: & >100 hfglen: LOL Thanks for the warning. I'll read the Rain Wilds with different expectations. Probably next year.

>100 hfglen: Are you able to do an inter library loan? Maybe another branch in the area has copies?

102hfglen
Edited: Oct 4, 2016, 6:29am Top

>101 Narilka: I strongly suspect that two do, and will visit them over the next 2 days.

ETA: Waterfall has books 2 and 3 in the series. Happily, I now have 2 out.

103Narilka
Oct 4, 2016, 3:42pm Top

Mom's little helper. He is the only one that likes to climb the shelves like that lol

104Narilka
Oct 4, 2016, 3:43pm Top

>102 hfglen: Awesome! I hope they're just as good :)

105Sakerfalcon
Oct 5, 2016, 7:52am Top

>103 Narilka: Aww! What a handsome kitty! (And nice books too!)

106MrsLee
Oct 6, 2016, 9:49am Top

>103 Narilka: Sweet photo!

107Narilka
Oct 6, 2016, 12:53pm Top

The best part is you can see him trying to work out how to make it up to a higher shelf one case over lol He didn't make it I might add. I played reshelve the books instead.

108Narilka
Oct 10, 2016, 10:01pm Top

30. Grave Peril by Jim Butcher



Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is up to his neck in ghosts. All over town poltergeists are causing trouble. And it's not just your average hauntings with spooky sounds and moving objects. The ghosts are agitated, violent and deadly - and there are more around than ever seen before. When Harry discovers a ghost wrapped in a spell surrounding it's ghostly flesh like barbed wire he realizes something, or someone, must purposely be stirring them up. But why? And, more importantly, why do so many of the victims have a connection to Harry?

Grave Peril is the 3rd book of the Dresden Files. For everyone who said this is where the series gets better, you were right. From the get go we're off and running with Harry and his colleague Michael Carpenter. Michael is a great addition. He's a Knight of the Cross, a holy warrior and God's fist. His faith literally grants him the strength he needs to fight evil and keep going in the face of certain destruction. Michael is a great counter point to Harry's shoot-from-the-hip maverick wizardry. The story opens with both heroes facing down a ghost in a hospital nursery calming babies into a stillness beyond sleep. The border between reality and the Nevernever has grown thin, allowing many more ghosts to come through than normal.

Michael is not the only new character. We're introduced to Michael's wife Charity, who hates Harry with a passion for constantly getting her husband in trouble. Other new faces are Thomas, a White Court vampire, and his "partner" Justine. I like the distinction that Butcher makes between the three vampire courts, Red, White and Black. Each has its own way of feeding on humans that are quite different and isn't only about draining all the blood from a body, though there is still some of that too. Another character that I'm guessing will have an impact on future story lines is Harry's Fairy Godmother Lea. Lea is one scary fairy! This is not your Disney-style good fairy but one straight out of Irish mythology of the Sidhe. She has some frightfully scary powers that is thankfully bound by the laws of her people. A few familiar faces are also along for the ride, including several members from S.I. and Harry's girlfriend Susan.

Speaking of the Nevernever we actually get to experience it for the first time! Part of the story involves traveling through the Nevernever. That is both a place I never want to go and can't wait to read more about.

Butcher gives us a more interesting story this time around. It has many twists and turns with several story threads that weave together. The reader is kept guessing the entire way, even making us wonder if the tombstone Bianca has made up for Harry will be prophetic. Will doing the right thing will be the end of the wizard?

Harry is still Harry and, while he retains his sense of sarcastic wit, the story helps him become a more fleshed out character. The ending also left things open for the next book to go in any number of directions to continue the story arc instead of just being the mystery of the week to solve.

I quite enjoyed this book and I'm glad I stuck with the series.

Rating:

109MrsLee
Oct 10, 2016, 10:24pm Top

>108 Narilka: I'm glad you stuck with it too! That review was terrific, reading it made me remember all my favorite bits about the story.

110AHS-Wolfy
Oct 11, 2016, 5:00am Top

>108 Narilka: You've found out what a lot of Dresden devotees have experienced over the years. While the first couple of books in the series are okay it really does start to take off from the point you've reached now. For the most part it retains this kind of enjoyment level throughout. Only 1 of the remaining books to date was a bit of a let down for me. Hope you continue to enjoy the rest of them when you get to them.

111Narilka
Oct 11, 2016, 3:16pm Top

>110 AHS-Wolfy: That's great to hear.

>109 MrsLee: Glad you liked it :)

112jillmwo
Oct 11, 2016, 5:58pm Top

Seriously thinking I need to give the Dresden series another chance. Grave Peril is tempting.

113Narilka
Oct 13, 2016, 9:15am Top

>112 jillmwo: I'd say it's worth a shot. If you still don't like Dresden after Grave Peril then it's time to give up.

114Narilka
Oct 18, 2016, 11:09am Top

31. Abhorsen by Garth Nix



Lirael and Sammeth have escaped from Hedge the Necromancer and his Dead hands by taking sanctuary in Abhorsen's house. The time for rest is fleeting. Constantly reminded of the vision the Clayr had for her, Lirael knows they must leave for the Red Lake to rescue Nick before it's too late. However, there is a greater evil afoot, one that has not been seen in ages: The Destroyer is coming.

Abhorsen by Garth Nix is the third book in The Abhorsen trilogy. The story begins right where Lirael leaves off. Lirael and Sammeth are at Abhorsen's house, taking a short rest before setting out to rescue Nick, Sam's old friend from his school in Ancelstierre. Unknown to both Lerial and Sammeth, but quite well known to the reader, Nick has a shard of the Destroyer placed in him which allows him to be a "vessel" for the Destroyer. Nick finds himself forced to believe in the magic he considered to be pure fantasy and is leading a search for two great hemispheres buried deep in the earth as well as coming up with a means to rejoin them.

The book has many reveals, some of which were quite surprising. We are finally able to understand the full nature of Free Magic, what it is and where it came from, as well as a history of the Beginning, how the Charter came to be, what went into it's creation and just who, or what, the Destroyer is. All the puzzle pieces come together and missing information filled in for one spectacular, epic finale. All the reasons why everyone involved is involved as they are answered. The stakes for the future of both Ancelstierre and the Old Kingdom have never been higher.

Each character clearly has an important role to play. We are finally shown why Sammeth was so scared of entering Death and why his role as Abhorsen-in-waiting didn't seem right for him. He is given a new path that has a direct and meaningful impact on what is to come. Both the Disreputable Dog and Mogget are vital characters, transcending their roles of magical companions in previous books to be every bit as important as their two legged counterparts. They both retain their sly wit and fun banter through to the end, which continues to be a joy to read. Lirael's character arc is quite profound. Gone is the somewhat timid librarian as she fully embraces the fact that she'll never be a "true" daughter of the Clary and never see the future. She gives herself fully quest the Clayr have set her on and, as a result, realizes she has a much different role than any other Clayr in history, making her unique. Lirael finds herself prepared to meet any challenge, able to go toe to toe the most fearsome of the Dead.

Again I listened to the audio book narrated by Tim Curry. Curry's voice acting is superb as always.

This is one fast paced, action packed book! The plot is tightly focused and the ending delivers quite a punch. The final battle has a beautiful, cinematic quality to it, one I would love to see on the big screen. It was a wholly satisfying end to the series.

I have greatly enjoyed The Abhorsen trilogy. This series is one I will reread in the future.

Rating:

115Narilka
Oct 18, 2016, 12:24pm Top

32. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams



DON'T PANIC

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the first of five books in The Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy by Douglas Adams. Yes, you read that right: the series is a trilogy in five parts. This is the novel adaptation of the radio series of the same name. The book begins with a rather mundane start: Arthur Dent finds his home about to be demolished to make way for a bypass. Arthur's best friend, Ford Prefect, takes him to the local pub to drown his sorrows and deliver earth shattering news: The planet is about to be destroyed. Vogon's have arrived to demolish the entire planet to make way for a space bypass. Ford and Arthur hitch a ride on the Vogon's ship in the nick of time and so starts one of the quirkiest trips around the galaxy.

This was a group read on another forum and a reread for me. I last read it in 2010. I had definitely forgotten many of the details. The book has aged quite well. It has some very British humour, which I enjoyed immensely. The book is quite quotable:

"Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans."

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

"The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?"


The book also introduces several great concepts, some of which are still used in pop culture today: The answer to everything is 42; the Improbability Drive; Babel Fish; always know where your towel is; humans are only the third most intelligent beings on the planet.

It's a fun, irreverent scifi classic. One day I need to download and listen to the original radio broadcast.

Rating:

116SylviaC
Oct 18, 2016, 12:50pm Top

I used to love Hitchhiker's Guide, but was sadly unable to get into it last time I tried to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed the radio performance recently, though.

117Narilka
Oct 18, 2016, 5:39pm Top

>116 SylviaC: Maybe it's just the wrong time to read it? I really need to check Audible for a copy of the radio broadcast.

118Narilka
Oct 18, 2016, 5:40pm Top

33. Armada by Ernest Cline



Armada by Ernest Cline is a stand alone novel and not a sequel to Ready Player One that many fans hoped for. The story is an interesting blend of The Last Starfighter and Ender's Game yet still has enough differences to help it stand on it's own.

Zach Lightman is our teenage hero. Lightman has a bit of a chip on his shoulder having grown up with only his mother to raise him, his father had died in a freak accident at work while Zach was an infant. As many geeky teens these days Zach spends a lot of his spare time becoming one of the top players in the world's most popular multiplayer online game: Armada. He also is intensely curious about the father he never knew and likes to go to the attic to look through his dad's old stuff in an attempt to learn more about him. During one of Zach's trips to the attic he comes across one of his dad's journals where Zach believes contains proof that his dad may have been sliding down into lunacy. His dad writes that most of the science fiction books, movies and video games since the 70's have been part of a government conspiracy to prepare the world for the news that aliens are real. What utter rubbish. Or is it?

It is hard not to compare Armada to Ready Player One as they share a lot of similar notes. Both stories are slow builds, taking their time to get to the main action. Instead of 80s pop culture, we are given many popular 20th century science fiction references. Most all the characters participate in the corny references. Even Zach's mom channels her inner Gandalf in order to have a conversation with her son. Zach has a similar geeky/snarky/awkward personality blend that Wade Watts has. Both boys are likeable high schoolers on the verge of having to decide what to do with the rest of their lives when fate intervenes. While the plots are quite different (alien invasion vs geeky treasure hunt), the echoing similarities make Armada feel slightly derivative.

That said, the book is highly entertaining. Cline writes engaging action. Some of the geeky conversations between characters are a lot of fun. The plot is quite straight forward with few twists until the end.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Wil Wheaton. I enjoyed Wheaton's voice acting immensely. You can tell he's having a lot of fun. I'm starting to think Wheaton is a better voice actor than traditional actor.

Rating:

On a funny LT note, the touchstone keeps trying to link to Little Women lol

119Narilka
Oct 20, 2016, 7:09pm Top

34. The Cat, the Professor and the Poison by Leann Sweeney



Jillian Hart has finally settled into small town life. Her quilting business has taken off and doting on her three cats keeps Jillian busy. That doesn't stop her from wanting to help solve the mystery of a missing milk cow from a neighbor's farm. While lending a hand with the missing cow, Jillian's neighbor mentions that there have been more feral cats than normal showing up at her barn lately and one of them appears to have recently had kittens. Unable to resist helping a cat in trouble, Jillian follows the momma cat in an attempt to find and rescue both the mother and her babies. Little did she suspect that she'd be lead to an even bigger mystery to solve: 50 stray cats and a dead body.

The Cat, the Professor and the Poison is the second book in the Cats in Trouble series by Leann Sweeney. Jillian has quite a sense for when cats are in trouble and it never fails to lead to something big. The little town of Mercy oozes Southern charm and the characters are as quirky as ever. This time we're also introduced to Jillian's step-daughter Kara. Kara starts off as a big city girl with a bit of attitude. Gradually Jillian and Mercy's residents win Kara over. She's even able to help with the case! The mystery itself is a fun one. Based on the title, it should be fairly obvious - a professor has been poisoned. But why? What was his teaching specialty and what was he researching? I like how Jillian and Deputy Candice work together to put all the puzzle pieces together.

I am loving this cozy mystery series. They are quick, fun reads. I think I may have found myself a new comfort read series.

Rating:

120Narilka
Oct 25, 2016, 8:46pm Top

35. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken



They call it IAAN: Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. The disease is devastating, attacking all children from 8-14 years old, with a high mortality rate. Worse than dying, though, is surviving. Survivors are the dangerous ones, the ones that end up with powers they can't control. It is on the morning of Ruby's tenth birthday when her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. She is sent to Thurmond, one of the government's "rehabilitation camps" for children. Six years later, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones, one of the survivors. After she's is found out, Ruby finds herself on the run. There is only one safe haven left for people like her, if it even exists. East River and the protection of the Slip Kid. There, it is said, children are protected and allowed to learn how to use their new powers in peace. If only that were true.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is the first in a trilogy of the same name. We are introduced to a dystopian America. Children across the country all come down with this mysterious illness and, if they recover, develop psychic powers. Instead of treating this as a blessing, society sees it as a danger and the children are taken from their homes to be imprisoned in "rehabilitation" camps. This being a YA dystopia novel, they are in fact concentration camps where the children are locked up, abused and sometimes killed. Thurmond is one of many camps and the one where the story's main protagonist ends up. Ruby manages to survive for six years, hiding her powers in an attempt to seem less threatening, when she is discovered by an outside group that "rescues" her for their own purposes. Ruby's escape from both her oppressors and rescuers ensues.

The story is told entirely from Ruby's first person perspective. Ruby is scared, hesitant, naive, confused and has low self esteem, all believable given the horrible circumstances she's been put in. She makes for an odd protagonist. The thoughts in her head contrast greatly with how the other characters see her. While constantly doubting herself, fearful of making a mistake and seeing herself as a monster, the other characters view Ruby as a strong person. I think it's a deliberate contrast being used to show Ruby's potential. Quite naturally Ruby meets up with a small group of kids. Liam is the ultra good guy and love interest. Chubs is the smart, nerdy yet fiercely loyal friend. Zu is the most adorable young girl I've read about in a while who wants nothing more than for the world to go back to normal. I kept wishing I could give her a hug.

The book starts off with a really strong premise and a hook that sucks you right in. Then the characters end up on a long and winding road trip which the plot reflects as the story starts to meander. Many different factions are mentioned but not really fleshed out so it's hard to tell if they're important or not. I also wish that Bracken had gone more into the virus that is the trigger. Why does it only affect kids of a certain age? Why has it not spread globally? This is a modern day story and our society is so global that it would be virtually impossible to contain an outbreak of this magnitude, yet it seems that the rest of the world is barely affected. It also doesn't make sense that when the majority of the children have died to round up and imprison or kill of the rest since no children means no future society. Perhaps these questions will be addressed later on. There is also a fairly predictable villain and an instant love side story. This is YA after all.

Once the road trip finally reaches it's destination, the story build to an explosive and exciting conclusion that left me wanting to know what happens next. Even with it's flaws, the book was an enjoyable read.

Rating:

121lynnoconnacht
Oct 26, 2016, 7:35am Top

The Darkest Minds sounds pretty intriguing, though I think I'd have to wait to see whether the book addresses why the rest of the world doesn't seem to be dealing with the virus because that would be a dealbreaker for me.

122reading_fox
Oct 26, 2016, 10:51am Top

Darwin's radio like? Does sound well written though.

123Narilka
Oct 26, 2016, 1:44pm Top

>122 reading_fox: I've not read Darwin's Radio so couldn't say for sure. Based on the summary on the work page it sounds similar. Kids catch the virus right around puberty instead of in the womb. The focus was more on the psychic powers of the survivors than the cause of the disease or to determine if there is a greater government conspiracy going on. I will likely pick up the remaining books to find out what happens. When I do, I'll post reviews :)

124Narilka
Nov 2, 2016, 9:05pm Top

36. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews



Kate Daniels is a member of the Mercenary Guild, a sword for hire. She makes her living cleaning up paranormal problems that are always left over in the wake of a magic wave. When Kate's guardian is murdered her quest for justice draws her into the middle of a power struggle between two groups: the People and the Pack. In addition to her guardian there has been a series of other bizarre killings, each group blaming the other. With her guardian's murder somehow connected to it all Kate is feeling the pressure to solve the mystery before she becomes a target for asking to many questions.

Magic Bites is the first book in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. The setting is an alternate version of Atlanta. Magic has come to the world. It comes in waves and when it does, tech stops working. Lights go out, cars no longer run and many large buildings have fallen into ruin. Then magic ebbs and technology reigns again. Vampires exist, though vastly different that the typical irresistibly sexy bloodsuckers. While they still crave blood, vampires have devolved down to an almost insectoid intelligence level and are used as tools by the People, necromancers who can control them with magic as spies or as guards among other things. Then there is the Pack, a group of shapeshifters that go way beyond your average werewolf into almost any were-beast imaginable. Were-rats, bears, lynxes, hyenas and more. It is great to see a different twist on two common Urban Fantasy themes.

Kate Daniels is a fun character. She's brash, makes wise cracks and can kick some serious ass. Kate also has magic in her blood, so much so that she goes to great lengths to keep it a secret and keep it out of the wrong hands. It takes a while for her magic abilities to show and they don't disappoint when they finally do. Her interactions with both the People and the Pack are alternately funny, bad ass and eye roll worthy. Her smart mouth gets her in trouble more often than not and she doesn't really learn from it. Even being outclassed Kate absolutely refuses to run away and does what it takes to get the job done. The other character that was quite fun is Curran, the Beast Lord. He is a great foil for Kate and they get under eachother's skin often.

The mystery plot line is decent. Kate has to navigate through the two factions to determine who is friend and foe while following the evidence wherever it may lead. There is a bit of gore, a couple fast paced action scenes and a minor romance sub plot. It was a fun read and shows promise for future books.

Rating:

125Sakerfalcon
Nov 3, 2016, 6:57am Top

>124 Narilka: This is on my tbr pile. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it, though I don't really need another long series to get into!

126YouKneeK
Nov 3, 2016, 6:17pm Top

>124 Narilka:

I hope it’s ok for random strangers to drop in. :)

Magic Bites has been on my TBR list for quite a while too. I've been waiting until the series is complete before I try it. Fantasy is my favorite genre, but for some reason I’m less enthusiastic about urban fantasy. Your description made it sound really interesting, though.

127Narilka
Nov 3, 2016, 8:02pm Top

>126 YouKneeK: No problem at all! Welcome to the Dragon :)

>126 YouKneeK:, >125 Sakerfalcon: I have a hunch she's going to be writing books in this series for a while. You may as well give the first book a go and decide if you want to keep reading. Everything is wrapped up nicely, no cliffhanger ending, so no worries there.

128suitable1
Nov 3, 2016, 8:17pm Top

>126 YouKneeK:

Everyone in the Green Dragon is kinda "random" and "strange". Some more than others.

129YouKneeK
Nov 3, 2016, 10:48pm Top

>127 Narilka:, >128 suitable1: LOL, thanks. :)

>127 Narilka: When I first looked into the series, I read on the author’s Goodreads page that she planned to stop at 10. The message I read was written two years ago, though, and it didn’t sound set in stone at the time, so I don’t know if she’s changed her mind since. https://www.goodreads.com/questions/71210-hello-kate-daniels-is-my-favorite-series

I'm a little weird about series books. Even when there aren’t cliff hangers, I like to read the books close together. I feel like I can better appreciate all the little nuances from book to book and keep the emotional momentum going. It’s easy for me to wait because I have so many other things that I want to read. It would be a different story if I were having trouble finding new things to read.

130Narilka
Nov 4, 2016, 9:53am Top

>129 YouKneeK: I can see that. I'm like that with certain series myself, but not others.

131Narilka
Nov 11, 2016, 6:10pm Top

37. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes



As You Wish by Cary Elwes is a memoir about his time making The Princess Bride. It gives insight into the film making process, how the movie almost didn't get made, the dedication it took to make the greatest sword fighting scene in history look effortless (all of which was performed by the actors, minus the one part on a high bar) and more. Cary's telling is absolutely charming. You really feel that he and the rest of the cast had a great time making a movie and are humbled by how long the movie has endured. If you've seen the movie and like behind the scenes stuff, this book is definitely worth your time.

I listened to the audio book, which was narrated by the author. Cary's narration is great! He is funnier than I imagined, doing some impersonations of his fellow cast members in spots. Other cast and crew lend their voices to give their thoughts throughout. It was a nice touch. I'm going to have to rewatch the movie soon.

Thank you SylviaC for the recommendation!

Rating:

132SylviaC
Nov 11, 2016, 7:10pm Top

I need to watch the movie again soon, too, and watch out for some of the things he mentioned—like getting knocked out, and the broken toe. I never really thought about Cary Elwes outside of that role, so I enjoyed getting to know him better through his book.

133Narilka
Nov 13, 2016, 7:17pm Top

38. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman



One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...

The Invisible Library is the first book in the series by the same name by Genevieve Cogman. It is a solid adventure/detective story set in a Steampunk alternate London. Junior Librarian Irene is sent on a mission to retrieve a unique version of the Brothers Grimm that can only be found in this particular alternate. She has been assigned to take along Librarian-in-training Kai as her assistant. After they arrive, they discover there is just one problem: the book has been stolen and it's owner murdered. Now to track down the book they'll have to solve the murder and avoid the other factions that are prepared to fight to the death to find the book before Irene and Kai do. Which begs the question: just what is so special about this book?

The book goes to great lengths to describe the fact that there is a multiverse and that the Library is linked to each of them. The Library exists outside of time and space, in some ways reminiscent of a Tardis. It is definitely bigger on the inside! Very little time is spent in the Library, though, as the majority of the adventure focuses on the alternate London the characters are sent to. I hope future books give us more time in the Library. I enjoyed the concept a lot and wish I could arrange a visit!

While there is some character development, it is mostly minor, just enough to give the characters some shape. Irene is plucky, resourceful and easily underestimated. She has a fondness for detective stories. Her assistant Kai is young, handsome, reasonably capable while still in training and there is definitely more to him than it first appears. Mr. Vale is a private detective and the closest thing his world has to a living, breathing Sherlock Holmes. Irene admires Vale greatly. That said, there is absolutely no romance plot. The set up is there, though the characters are just too busy for one.

The Invisible Library is a pure adventure story and a lot of fun. The characters are likeable, the world building has a good foundation and there is a great mystery to solve. The series shows promise.

Rating:

134imyril
Nov 20, 2016, 4:23pm Top

>133 Narilka: I enjoyed the sequel even more than the first book (Irene ends up in a Fae world, which is just an excuse for flamboyant characters and sheer OTT exuberance). I'm really looking forward to book 3 next month...

135Narilka
Nov 20, 2016, 7:40pm Top

>134 imyril: Nice! I was kind of worried the second book would be redundant since Irene has been assigned to that alternate as the resident Librarian. With all the realms the Library can access I had hoped that we would see more/different worlds. With the premise Cogman has created her options are only limited by her imagination. I'll have to pick up the second book in the near-ish future.

136Narilka
Nov 20, 2016, 7:40pm Top

39. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton



Just in case you are unaware of what Jurassic Park is about... Dr. Alan Grant, a paleontologist, and graduate student Ellie Sattler, a paleobotanist, are both at the top of their fields. On a dig in Montana Grant is about to make the find of his life: a whole skeleton of a baby velociraptor. Multi-billionaire and founder of InGen Technologies, John Hammond has been building a state of the art "nature preserve" on a private island off the coast of Costa Rica. His company has been funding Dr. Grant's dig for several years and asks both Dr. Grant and Ellie to come visit the park for a weekend consultation. On the way they are joined by Ian Malcolm, a mathematician and one of the leading minds on Chaos Theory. Malcolm has already predicted that the park is doomed to fail based on mathematics that nature can't be controlled. Once they all arrive on the island the group finds out that InGen scientists have done the impossible: they've found a way to extract and clone dinosaur DNA. Creatures extinct for eons now roam the park, which is scheduled to open to the public in a few short months. That is, until something goes horribly wrong.

Jurassic Park is a modern science fiction classic and one of my favorite Crichton novels. This is one of those rare books that, having seen the movie many times and read the novel before, I still get that thrilling, edge of your seat experience on a reread. Crichton creates a wonderful mystery around what exactly is being kept in Hammond's nature preserve with a lovely, slow build up to the introduction of the dinosaurs themselves. Then tensions mount as the group of visitors begin their tour of the park and you just know things are going to go horribly, horribly wrong. Once that happens then you better hang on for quite the thrill ride!

This story is interesting as it's hard to decide who to root for. The dinos are both the hero and villains of the story as are several of the humans. Crichton does his homework well. He mixes just enough facts (which are dated by this point but still reasonably relevant) with the fiction to make the story believable. He tends to get a little preachy with Malcolm's character, though I don't think the message behind it is a bad one. Have some respect for nature. Life always finds a way.

Rating:

137MrsLee
Nov 21, 2016, 9:30am Top

>136 Narilka: Crichton's preachiness is what keeps me from picking up more of his books, but I have enjoyed a couple of them, like this one.

138imyril
Nov 21, 2016, 2:40pm Top

>136 Narilka: this is always a joy :) I did want to shake Malcolm on this read though - on and on about how awful scientists are, rather than acknowledging how modern science is driven by economics and politics. Although I enjoyed Grant's musings about patronage by way of contrast!

139Narilka
Nov 22, 2016, 9:18am Top

>137 MrsLee: I don't think I noticed it as much back in the day as I do now. Crichton definitely has some strong opinions and he's not afraid to beat you over the head with them lol

>138 imyril: Some of the gross assumptions/errors the scientists make are very irritating. Thankfully it's not enough to hurt the story.

140Narilka
Dec 1, 2016, 10:24pm Top

40. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson



For a thousand years the Lord Ruler has ruled the Final Empire as a god. Ash falls continuously during the day and mists rule the night. The Skaa people have been subjugated for so long they no longer have the will to fight back. Rumors of a survivor of the Lord Ruler's most brutal prison have emerged and hope is reignited. In the pits Kelsier "snapped" and came away with the powers of Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn. A brilliant criminal mastermind, Kelsier has turned his cunning to the ultimate plan: to overthrow the Lord Ruler and end the Empire.

Mistborn: The Final Empire is the first in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. The book gets off to a slow start. We are gradually introduced to the world of the Final Empire and it's peoples as the foundation for the story. It didn't take long for me to get fully immersed in this new land of ash and mists. Sanderson is an extraordinary world builder. The atmosphere is oppressive and relentless. Ash falls continuously from the sky, creating a dreary wasteland. Green grass, flowers, trees with leaves of any color but brown are unheard of though there are hints they may have existed at one time. You get the feel of a wrongness to this world. Magic is real but only usable by Allomancers, an ability passed down from the nobility to their offspring. The magic is defined by the ability to "burn" metals - that is a person with Allomantic powers can ingest certain metals and use them as wells of hidden strengths. Each metal is aligned with a specific ability, either physical or mental, and it either pulls or pushes. This concept lays at the core of the story and is the basis of some amazing action scenes.

The story is told primarily from two points of view: Kelsier and Vin. Both characters are highly likable. Kelsier, the Survivor of Hathsin, is the brilliant mastermind and crew leader to a gang of misfits he has recruited to take part in his scheme. Naturally Kelsier is a Mistborn, an Allomancer who can use all the metals instead of just one. His experiences of a past betrayal and surviving the mines have made him fairly set in his beliefs. He also serves as mentor to Vin, a street urchin that Kelsier discovered and is training in the Allomantic arts to assist with his gang's job. Vin, the street urchin, goes on quite a character arc. She starts off as a half starved, highly suspicious and very untrusting. Through Kelsier's training and while playing her part of the crew Vin transforms into a highly competent and capable heroine. They were both a lot of fun to read. Both have their motivations well explained and are deep and complex individuals. Vin stole the show for me. She was highly sympathetic from the start and I was rooting for her the whole time. I felt a pride for the character as she overcame her lot in life and continued to grow throughout the story. I believe there is much more for us to discover about Vin in future books.

About the only downside is premise of the story is fairly conventional and has been done before: a hero from the oppressed masses rises up to lead a rebellion and overthrow the evil empire. Star Wars anyone? Yet Sanderson's telling of it is masterful. The book has something for everyone. Lots of action, a unique and way cool magic system, intrigue, politics, conspiracies, romance, believable characters and a fully realized world. I will definitely be continuing this series.

Remember, there's always another secret.

Rating:

141YouKneeK
Dec 2, 2016, 6:52am Top

>140 Narilka: I’m glad you enjoyed Mistborn so much. I read that original trilogy several years ago, and I remember really enjoying it, but for some reason the story hasn’t stuck with me well at all. Maybe because it was a bit conventional, like you said. I definitely remember the magic system itself, though.

Someday, whenever he finishes all the other books he has planned for this world, I want to re-read it along with the newer ones.

142Narilka
Dec 2, 2016, 10:29am Top

>141 YouKneeK: The only other Sanderson I had read to this point was Elantris. Also quite good. So I decided to read up a bit online last night. He sure is ambitious! So many series in his Cosmere universe and he keeps writing. He is a man with a plan :) I think I'm going to finish the original Mistborn trilogy and then give him a break. I was tempted to try the Stormlight Archives until I found out it's supposed to be 10 books with only 2 currently published. If it's anywhere close to as good as Mistborn then waiting years between books would be torture.

143clamairy
Dec 2, 2016, 12:27pm Top

How have I missed this whole thread? :o( You've got some real gems listed in here, many of which I've read but even more of which are on my teetering Mount Tooby. So Mistborn was not a reread for you? That makes me feel better as I've read the first two, but haven't managed to squeeze in the third yet. I also enjoyed Sabriel quite a bit, and you've given more hope that the rest of the series will be even better. (I have heard the same from many others, including my daughter.) I will be staying away from Ernest Cline's Armada (touchstones are wonky for this one) because you are one of many saying it didn't live up to expectations.

144Narilka
Dec 2, 2016, 2:18pm Top

>143 clamairy: Yes, that was my first time through Mistborn. I'm glad I finally got around to it :) I have my book club's December read to do next (The Black Prism) and then will hit up Mistborn #2. I hope I've helped bump the rest of the Abhorsen books up on your TBR list. I'd love to hear your thoughts after you read them. I think if you change your mind on Armada that you should do the audio book. Wil Wheaton having such a blast at the narration helped enhance the story for me. Otherwise, unless you're a hard core 80s fan and/or gamer, you aren't missing much.

(Why does ARMADA still try to link to LITTLE WOMEN?? LOL)

145Narilka
Dec 18, 2016, 8:38pm Top

41. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks



The Prism War is over. Gavin Guile emerged the victor and became the Prism after killing his brother, the False Prism. Most of the land was torn apart. Now an uneasy peace reigns. Gavin knows his life is running out. Five more years to live, five great goals to accomplish. Then Gavin hears that he has a son. Born in the final days of the war in a kingdom that put Gavin on the throne, Gavin must decide how far he's willing to go to protect a secret that could cost him everything.

The Black Prism is the first in The Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks. The story gets off to a slow and confusing start. Many new terms are immediately thrown at the reader and it takes a little while to puzzle out their meaning. I wish I had discovered earlier that there is both a glossary and an appendix at the end, which helped out immensely! The story meanders a bit and eventually we're introduced to the four main characters. Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He thinks he has five years left to live and has five great goals he wants to accomplish. Kip, Gavin's supposed son, spent most of his life living with his mother who did nothing but revile and neglect him. Karris White Oak, once Gavin's love interest, belongs to the elite fighting force called the Blackguard, a group that has sworn to protect the Prism. Finally there is Liv, a child of a military general on the wrong side of the war, who partially grew up with Kip before heading off to the Chromeria to become a drafter.

The magic system is the highlight of the book, complex and well thought out. It is based on the color spectrum as light splits through a prism. Each color has it's own basic properties, which can then be enhanced by the user's imagination and will. The more colors you can manipulate, the more powerful you are. The more powerful you are, the faster you burn out. Magic is partially powered by a persons own life force and using too much magic can literally cause a person to break. The only exception to the rule is the Prism. There is one Prism in a generation, one person who can sense the balance of the world's magic, rebalance that magic and split light within themselves. Once they come into their power a Prism's life is measured in multiples of 7 - they live 7 or 14 or 21 additional years.

It took me a while to get into the story. Normally a slow build doesn't bother me. This time I had a harder time getting to know the characters. It seemed that there was a lot of staging before the character development really started. It took a while but Gavin and Karris finally grew on me. Kip and Liv a lot less so. Once things got going, it ended up being a fun read. The story telling is lively and the story started to fly along by the end. I plan on continuing this series at some point, though after the author finishes the last book which is currently in progress.

Rating:

146zjakkelien
Dec 19, 2016, 2:11am Top

>145 Narilka: Huh, a lot of my friends were enthusiastic about this book, but I couldn't get into it. I think the reason is exactly what you describe, except that I didn't persevere...

147Sakerfalcon
Dec 19, 2016, 5:19am Top

>145 Narilka:, >146 zjakkelien: I've read the first two books of the Lightbringer series and like them well enough to keep reading, but they are very flawed. The writing style reads too contemporary American for me to be convinced by it, and the humour, especially in the scenes from Kip's pov is really crude and juvenile. If that's meant to show his character, then it makes him a character who doesn't appeal to me. I also seem to remember not really buying Karris's attraction to Gavin, although maybe that was more of an issue in the second book. This series is like McDonald's food to me: something that I enjoy while tearing through but which leaves me not quite full and wanting something better.

148Narilka
Dec 19, 2016, 9:33am Top

>147 Sakerfalcon: I assumed Kip's humor was due to his age, which I kept thinking was younger than 16 because he acts so juvenile. It also could be part of why he never really grew on me.

149Narilka
Dec 31, 2016, 11:45pm Top

42. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson



The Well of Ascension is the second in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. Usually it takes an entire series to defeat the bad guys so everyone can live happily ever after. But what if that was only the beginning? What if Frodo threw the ring into Mount Doom in Fellowship of the Ring? What happens after evil has been defeated? This is the question that Sanderson asks and is the main premise of book two. It is an absolutely brilliant take on a classic genre trope.

It turns out that killing the Lord Ruler was the easy part. Vin and the crew are back, trying to keep society held together long enough for Elend Venture to put a new, more fair form of government in place. This is no easy task in the best of circumstances and, naturally, these are NOT good circumstances. The city of Luthadel is in an extended siege when three separate armies surround the city. Food is running short. Various factions in the city are scheming for ways to take power for themselves. The mists are changing, lasting longer into the day and even killing people. Vin patrols the night trying to keep Elend safe from assassins. It also appears the crew has a spy in their midst. While she may be the most powerful Mistborn in the land, she is only one person. The only hope may be in the legend of the Hero of Ages and the Well of Ascension, the place that gave the Lord Ruler his power. Assuming it really exists.

The cast of characters has grown. Most of the crew members are given point of view chapters as are the main antagonists. Elend Venture goes on quite a character arc. He starts off as a scholarly nobleman with high ideals and quickly learns just how different book knowledge is from the real world. He is forced to answer the question if a good man can make a good king or if he must compromise his own beliefs to save his fledgling kingdom. Vin has come a long way from the shy street urchin she used to be. She fully embraces her Mistborn powers and continues to use her gifts in unimaginable ways, becoming the greatest Mistborn in recent history. Vin has finally learned the value of friendship, how to trust and feels devastatingly betrayed when she learns one of her closest friends is likely a traitor. While the other characters don't go on as big of character arcs, all are well rounded, fully fleshed out and believable. I particularly loved the interactions between Sazed and Tindwyl, the two Terris Keepers. As much as I loved Sazed in book one, it was great to have Tindwyl to provide a contrast as to just how different a Keeper is based on their field of study. I also really enjoyed being introduced to the kandra OreSeur. Kandra are an inhuman race that have become fully subservient to humans as a means of self preservation. They have the amazing ability to absorb the bones of other creatures and take up their shapes and mannerisms. This is both a useful and concerning ability. Throughout the story as OreSeur's background is revealed, he became a surprisingly sympathetic character.

With a shift in plot comes a shift in tone for the story. Instead of a hero journey the characters are forced to face the brutal reality of leadership. There are still heroic moments and a ton of allomantic action. However a larger focus is on the political situation. This slows the pace down considerably and allows for a gradual build in tension until events almost literally explode. Sanderson has a gift for turning typical fantasy tropes on their head and the ending twist is a great example that I did not see coming at all. The main downside for me was the weird, psuedo love triangle Vin gets stuck in. Its one of the fantasy tropes that has started to grate on my nerves over the years due to over use. Thankfully the story is resolved in such a way that I don't think this will be an issue in the third installment.

Over all, the second installment lives up to the promise of the first book. I can't wait to find out how Vin's story ends.

Rating:

150Narilka
Jan 1, 2017, 12:27am Top

And that's it for 2016! What a great year of reading for me. I blew past my reading target even though I took two months off to study for a professional certification! I had a lot more 5 star books than normal and an overall higher average rating for my reading in general. I rediscovered Brandon Sanderson, who is now a favorite author, with his Mistborn series. I also discovered Garth Nix and fell in love with his Old Kingdom series. Audio books were new for me this year and I'm happy to say the format works for me as long as they are less complicated stories. Here's looking forward to a great 2017.

Happy New Years!

151lynnoconnacht
Jan 1, 2017, 8:40am Top

Whoo! So glad to hear you had a great reading year! I hope 2017 is going to follow those same lines and bring you many great reads! As well as general goodness, of course. ^_^

152MrsLee
Jan 1, 2017, 12:21pm Top

>149 Narilka: Now you are making me want to add the Mistborn series to the list of books I'm rereading in 2017.

153Narilka
Jan 1, 2017, 12:29pm Top

>152 MrsLee: You should!

154Peace2
Jan 1, 2017, 1:06pm Top

A few comments there (in your Sanderson and Weeks) that I need to come back to when I'm ready to get to the books in question.

155Narilka
Jan 1, 2017, 1:23pm Top

>154 Peace2: Excellent! I'd love to hear your thoughts when you get to those books. I will be reading more Sanderson this year for sure. Weeks will depend on if he finishes writing book 5 this year or not or if I decide to give his assassin series a go.

This topic was continued by Narilka reads in 2017.

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