2011 Reading Challenge

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Thursday, July 12

Pirates for adventure and de-stressing

Heart of Steel by Meljean Brooks:

Just the swashbuckling book I needed to de-stress and have an adventure. Of course the fact that the story had zombies, airships, pirates, rebels, and nonoagents helped. I knew I liked Yasmeen and Fox from The Iron Duke, and I'm glad they got their own story. Lots of intrigue, mystery, adventure and romance.. The ending was a little sappy for me, but still good.

The best part of this book is the beautifully immersive world building Brooks does. The characters are defined and likeable. There is also lots of history and back story that makes you buy in and care. Lots of alternate history for Europe and the East, as well as for Africa.

I love that Brooks' protagonists are not ur typical blond blue eyed English women, even though the first book centered England as its main home. Mina was mixed with Hord blood and has Mongolian features. And Yasmeen is African American. Of course, I picture whatever I like in my head, but it's nice when an author gives me more than basic cookie-cutter characters.

All of that being said, don't judge this book by its atrocious cover! It doesn't even have enough sexy time to warrant it. Who is that supposed to be anyways? Fox? Pass. There is sexual and romantic tension, and some sexy time, but it's pretty minimal and the adventure and plot weave it in quite nicely. Easy, quick, distracting, entertaining, and surprisingly sweet read.

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Monday, May 21

Encrypted by Lindsay Buroker....waters unknown!

I was originally drawn by the cover. After only a cursory glance at the description, I bought the book knowing only that the protagonist was kidnapped from her parents home for her gift with languages to decipher cryptic codes. The whole time, I thought it was a YA and that's really what made me want to read it (check my shelves, I'm all about YA) but it wasn't until the first 5 chapters I realized I was WAY off and read the actual descriptions and reviews.

To my surprise, I was pleasantly surprised to have stumbled on to my first adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi book. Being a recent fan of The Sword and Laser on Goodreads and listening to them describe these genre books, I've been meaning to read one, and I could not have picked a better one to start off with!

Tikaya DOES get kidnapped from her parents home, but she is a 30 year old woman whose fiancée was killed in this war a nation known as Turgonians started, which meant to take over her islands. During the war she was recruited to decipher war messages against them and was a key part in their stalemate and failure. After the war and the death of her fiancée, she goes back to the island, but can't make herself go back to the polytechnic school she used to work at and instead stays helping her family in their rum business. In her land and to the Nurians (the other nation that she helped) she is a hero, but to the Turgonians, she is evil incarnate and public enemy #1. When they kidnap her, everyone treats her like crap, she is hated by everyone of the Turgonian marines and the captain and if not for a fellow prisoner speaking up and distracting them, would have been raped and abused on her first night on their ship. The captain is kind of an idiot, but he is determined to guarantee her compliance to translate these weird ciphers and tells her that although her fate is decided for her war crimes against The Empire, her compliance will keep her family alive. With no choice, Tikaya starts trying to figure out the new language. One night, working on trying to make an ally of her fellow prisoner, she realizes he has seen the ciphers before. The integer level rises. Can she trust this guy with no name except for Number 5? What are the ciphers and what language is it they are trying to get her to unlock? Worse yet, why do they want it and why do her previous allies, the Nurians, wants her dead because of it?

I thought the book would get too Sci-Fi-ey and kinda lose my interest, but it didn't. It had action and adventure, mystery and puzzles, even romance (which totally won me over). And the best part was that it was written so well, I could almost picture everything like movie scenes. Best movie I imagined in quite a while!

Would love to read more from this author and definately recommend to those wanting to test the waters in this genre. I hope there is a spin off where we get to know more about Sicarius. A baby faced assassin is just to good to ignore.


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Wednesday, May 9

The oddessy

This is the oldest story we have as a race, and it has got to be the first and oldest Mary Sue. So....Odysseus is gone ten years battling at Troy and FINALLY the war ends but it takes him another ten years to get back. He is "brave and heroic" but really came across as a braggart and d-bag. He EXPECTS people to offer him hospitality and offer him presents, he is a CONSTANT liar. Even when he gets home, he lies about who he is to Minerva until he realizes who she is. (Never trust a man that can lie so easy.)

He is cursed for having blinded the cyclops son of Neptune. (one of his heroic deeds) But, he gets to the island of this cyclops because of his own curiosity. His men had originally landed on a neighbor island where they ate wild sheep and goats. When they see the giant's house and treasures, he wants to wait for him to see if he can get presents, then he tries to bully him telling him that if he doesn't, Jove, the guardian of travelers will punish him. WTH? if I was the cyclops I would have killed the little d-bag too. Here the poor cyclops is minding his own business tending to his pets and this guy wants presents? Well, Odysseus blinds him after getting him drunk and escapes, but not before bragging to the giants. This is why he is cursed. The cyclops prays to his father, the sea god for punishment. He deserved getting punished, if u ask me.

But what a horrible punishment too, he wanders the ocean to and for landing on islands that always seem to have beautiful Nymphs, or Princesses, or Enchantresses that are just dying for some hunky loving and end up head over heels for him wanting him to stay. (calypso MAKES him stay on her island, living as a god with her forcing him to eat her food and have sex with her for years...)

Any advancementt he makes is due to the instructions of others, Minerva, Circe, Hermes....etc. His bad luck he blames on others (mostly his men) but seemed to me, as the result of his lazy butt falling asleep. ( when the crew releases the wind from the bag that makes a storm that throws them off course, when they are on the island of Apollo and the men kill the sacred cows cuz he's meditating). The fault always falls on some one else. The curse if because of the sea god. He is held up because of Calypso.....whine whine whine....bitch bitch bitch......

The icing on the cake, though, is the fact that he finally wants to get home because he misses his land and belongings. Not because he misses his wife and son. Wow. When he goes to Hades and speaks to the dead, his questions are all about wether his wife is true to him and taking care of his property and if his son is still holding his belongings.

Could a man be more self-centered? Why do we revere and praise this guy as a hero? The ONLY reason this book gets any star, is because I love Greek mythology. I thought, like with other classics I'm reading or re-reading as an adult, maybe I can interpret it differently and appreciate it better, whereas I might not have as a teen. Nope. Book sucks. I don't care if it is a classic and the oldest recorded story of man. It is a Mary-sue of wishful thinking and just as I would harshly judge a contemporary piece that replaces good story with fluff, I gladly shuffle this book back under my coffee table, hoping it does a better job of keeping my drinks from sliding to the floor, than it did at entertaining me.


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Friday, April 27

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

This is definitely a hit the ground running sort of book. The first pages are very confusing. There are terms like blunders and buggers thrown at you and you are expected to know what's going on. You do EVENTUALLY piece together the fantastical world and it's wars and it's worth it. I almost put the book aside from the frustration. Don't. Stick with it. After the first few chapters, the story is quite gripping, even without the romantic element. You get nanites and airships, pirates and adventure, and you even get zombies. All described with just enough detail to form beautiful mental pictures and not too much that u get bored.

There is mystery and you think some resolution, monster fights and lots of danger and a nice twist I didn't see coming.

As someone who doesn't read a lot of Steampunk books, this novel definitely intrigues and fascinates.i would love to visit this world again. I love the adventure element. I very much enjoyed it and would love to see a series spawned so I can keep playing in its mechanical world.


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Monday, April 23

Divergent by Veronica Roth

consumed this book like a starved man at a buffet. Not that I haven't read any good books this year, because I have, just not books that are so perfectly what I love that I just inhale them. I resisted on the basis that it kept getting compared to Hunger Games, and like is want to happen when a genre book goes mainstream, suddenly there is a huge flood of similar books, some good, most not (ie look what Twilight did to vampire books).

I was pleasantly surprised that although similar (there are only so many ways u can go with a dystopian society book), it really was its own book with a unique story. It reminded me more of The original book that I personally think of when I think of Dystopian Fantasy books, The Giver.

I recommend reading it. I have to say that although, I think the author describes Four, probably as a white boy w black hair and blue eyes (I think), I picture Aqualad. Mmmmmmmmmm!(less)
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Monday, April 16

Howl's Moving Castle?

I have seen the anime movie and liked it so I thought, sure, I know the story is good, why not give the book a go? I might get more detail and Mabey some more explanation. Instead, I discovered a treasure. I read it through in one day! I cannot wait to read this book to my kids. It is such a wealth of imagination. It's wonderful and I can see why the film was as successful as it was.

The first few chapter are almost the twin of the film, the mousy and shy Sophie is not living life, but existing. Until a spell from the Witch of The Waste turns her into a 90 yr old woman that reflects on the outside, who she is inside and she sets off for her own adventure. I love old lady Sophie. She is more adventurous and doesn't care what people think and frets less. She just does, like a real old lady who is really too old to care. She joins Howl and agrees to help Calcifer break the contract they have, but that's really where the similarities end. The book is definitely more full of magic, color, mystery, and delicious story.

One can't help but fall in love with Howl and Sophie as they find each other, and who doesn't love Calcifer? I love Michael and hells bells, I even grow to love Sophie's family. I love most of all the spin the story had on dimensional traveling. Howl is from Wales in our world and that's where his sisters family still lives. It took me a few minutes to understand because that was something I was really not expecting.

I don't know if I would like to read the next book, I kind of like letting it end here in my head, with the happily ever after they promised me. Recommend it to anyone who liked the movie, anyone who likes fantasy and magic, and anyone who wants a good story. I wonder why it took me so long to find this great story.


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Sunday, April 15

Kiss of Shadows...Merry Gentry and a trip down memory lane w LKH

Meredith is niece to the queen of the unseelie fey. Always the weakest, too much a lesser fey and too human to be full sidhe. After her father was assassinated and her consort leaves her, her life is more in danger than ever and having no strong power, decides to disappear. She moves to Los Angeles and lives as a detective until one day a case lands at her door that leaves her right back to the queen herself and the mercy of the unseelie court. Kind of. Aunt Andais does not want to kill her, her insane cousin Cel still does of corse, but the queen offers Merry the possibility of the throne. She will name Meredith co-heir, along with Cel. The first to produce a child in the span of 3 years will get the throne.

She may not want the throne, but she can't lie to herself. She misses the fey. And she values her life. Unfortunately, it also paints a great big target on her back for Cel, for his supporters, and for anyone who does not want human pollution and weaker blood. So she must take sidhe guards and lovers in a race to be queen.

This is my absolute favorite LKH book series. I started with Anita Blake, and like Anita, Merry is stubborn, independent and a strange mix of strong and weak. Being a typical LKH book at the height of her popularity, it's quite graphic. Not as much as her Anita series, at least not this book. There is more plot and story and it made up for it. As I read it, I look back and wonder at the intelligence of reading it when I was younger and more impressionable. Probably not a recommended read when your...ahem...less experience. Lol!

Each of her guard has their own personality. Frost's vulnerability, Galen's sweetness, Rys' humor, Nicca's innocence, and Doyle. Doyle, the queens Darkness. Reverse harem at its best. Doyle sagged my heart from the very beginning, but that's just me. There's something to be said for strong, silent, and powerful.


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Thursday, April 12

Fair Game...Alpha and Omega 3


This moved a lot slower than almost any Briggs book I've ever read...in any series. It isn't until you get to the actual solving of the kidnap/murder case that u get into the story. Even then, its not till the very, very end that i was hooked to where I disregarded need for sleep to find out what happened. Once you get there, its good ol Briggs that you are used to. Its exciting, its comforting, and its a nice tagled little web that was weaved, so Im glad I stuck with it. I just wish it hadn't taken so long to get there. Even the prologue is a little long winded and random...it kinda fits the story and provides some history and insight, but It could have been done another quicker, more efficient way.

The ending is SO worth it, tho. It is a game changer for not only the Alpha Omega series, but to the Mercy Thompson universe. Im looking forward to the next Mercy book! My jaw literaly dropped. Cant wait to see what happens to the fae now and what it means for Bran and his wolves including Mercedes and my favorite pack in the basin.(less)

HP POA

this book was just about to get published when i got the Harry Potter bug. It will always hold a special place in my heart. This is also the first book to have some of my all-time favorite characters, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. That being said, as a grown up, now I have some SERIOUS issues with time travel. It just doesn't make sense, even if it IS a magic/fantasy book. it creates such a paradox and as a literary device gets a little to Deus est machina. Its such an easy out without having real answers.

so Harry goes back in time to save Sirius and Buckbeak and he saves himself and everybody with that patronas, but how could it have happened the first time. Its WAY too chicken and egg for me. Also, there is a huge emphasis on not being seen, but obviously Hermione was when she would go back in time to go to her classes? probably the most obvious issue is....if you could go back in time, why not go back and stop voldermort before he was. Wouldn't that be disrupting reality the same way the kids did by saving beaky and sirius? see?....too many questions. Maybe Im just thinking about it all too much and taking a childrens book way too serious..(pun intended! lol!).

Either way, I still really like this book because I think its the first one that really starts the ball rolling for potter-lore and the whole potter universe. This is also, coincidentally, my favorite movie of the HP franchise. Alfonso Cuaron is awesome and I wished they had used him for some of the later films. its dark but still funny and has its own specially flavor.


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Thursday, March 22

Chamber of Secrets...

Of course I love Harry Potter and have read the books from GOF and up at least 10 times each, but these earlier ones, I think I have only read once or twice. It's not that I don't CoS, but rather it's too young and moves a little slow when u know there is meatier stuff comin. I still do enjoy getting to the point where I forget enough that it makes the book a page turner, but I'm going to admit, it took like 2 weeks to finish CoS just because I always found something better to do. Listened along to Jim Dale and I LOVE his voice. On to the next one.

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Monday, March 5

Mermaid

That crushing, smushing, riptide.
My heart feels swollen, like a bee has stung it.
Breathing under water.
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.

20,000 fathoms under the sea.
Soon it will stop and in its place will be a shell.
A conch with lovely echoes and memories of the ocean that once filled it.
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.

You looked warm playing in the sun
Splashes and crashes to catch your eye
Slack water time is past
Bubbles, bubbles bubbles

I hope you find my conch
Hear my song
And think of me when you see the
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.

I was the mermaid.

Saturday, March 3

Boys over flowers and Playful Kiss

Why do such banal things make my heart go pitter-patter? Ugh! Am I like one of these heroines where when u throw me a small bone, I forgive and forget all my wonderfully delicious cynicism and turn into a doe-eyed romantic?

Yes.

It's like Yi Jueng said, "I bet I can tell. If you had to choose between good news and bad news first, you want the bad news."

Gaul's answer is, "how did you know I would want the bad news first?"

His cool response? "Because good girls always want a happy ending"

Eeeeek!! Insert fan-girl squeal!

It also reminds me of Saving Francesca. When Christobal does something to break Frenchie's heart and the chicks kidnap her for a girl day consisting of junk food, Boy-hating music like Alanis Morsette, doing each other nail and hair, and tops off with good-ol-fashioned Pride&Prrjudice.

And it hits her. Right at that part when Darcy shows his feelings for Elizabeth, when he is coming out of the lake (of course)! And Frankie can't help but still be hopeful about love. And she stops watching the movie, instead to watch her friends, and she sees it in their faces too. Each one of them, from quiet Josie, bitchy Sihoban, and even jaded Tara.....they are not all as tough as they seem..."we are all fools, in love"

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Monday, February 20

The Bar Cynster...Devil's Bride

I enjoyed this book, as someone else put it, It's a fabulous "bodice ripper romance" which made me chuckle because the description is so fitting. Good execution, the plot was a little thin, but I read this book because I was in the mood for a good romance and it very much delivered. The NSFW lemon scenes were a little long for my taste, but overall, a good way to spend a couple of nights. I was listening to the audiobook whilst I was reading, and I totally recommend. Hearing Simon Pebble (what I picture to be a stuffy, older, English gentleman) reading those racy budoir scenes was quite amusing. Good introduction to the Bar Cynster. Will continue series. Hopefully, Mr. Pebble reads the rest as well :-)


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Monday, February 13

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

I love love LOVE Elena and Clay. I freaking go fan girl over all the characters in Armstrong's Otherworld series. Each character is deep and has his or her own backstory, they all have depth and you genuinely feel like you know them. Not a lot of authors can do this. Armstrong can weave this world around you so well, you really believe it. Each character is so robust, that although the books have a sequential order, you can pick any book up anytime and enjoy it as a stand alone!

This is the first though. This is the start. Elena, the only female werewolf in the world torn between her base instinct, loyalty to the pact and Clay....or trying to be human. I like reading it and letting just enough time go by that I forget details so I can rediscover it and enjoy Jeremy, Antonio, Nick, Elena, Clay and even Marsten over again.


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So You Want to be a Wizard

New year, new challenge. This year a more manageable 52 books. Can't do 100 :(

Although the rate I'm going, it's looking more like 1 book a month. Lol. Here we go, Diane Duane and So You Want to be a Wizard.....

An entertaining read. I first read this when I was like 14 (15 years ago) and I really liked it. Enough time went by that I forgot most of it, hence the re-read. I think I was expecting the same vavavoom I felt over a decade ago when I was still a kid. Obviously not the case, but I did still like the story. It was still kind of exciting and sad and I still loved Fred and Nita and Kit. Is definitely targeted at a younger audience, but i might re read the others in the series.


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Friday, February 3