Thursday, January 30, 2014

52 Reviews - January Addition

Must read.....
It's funny how setting the goal of 52 books in 52 weeks has so far pushed me to read more than I already do. Every moment that I have free, I'm reminding myself that I should be reading.

Here's what I've read so far this year:
by Mercedes Lackey

394 Pages

Life at the Heralds' Collegium in Haven has definitely improved for Mags. He's even become something of a hero since risking his own life to rescue Amily--daughter of Nikolas, the King's Own Herald--from Karsite kidnappers. But Mags still doesn't know who his parents were, and Bear, Mags' Trainee friend, was not one to let him forget: "You gotta deal with your past Mags, you have to. If you don't, it'll just keep coming back to haunt you, and one day it'll do something to you that you can't get out of."
Mags began his special training as Nikolas' undercover partner and future spy for the crown. Disguised, they work at night in one of the seedier parts of Haven, where Nikolas had set up a false identity as a pawnbroker and fence. Mags poses as his deaf-mute nephew, covertly watching and listening from behind the desk. He was especially good at the trait that had kept him alive as a child laborer in the gem mine--ferreting out hidden motives.
Now Mags has graduated to a new role: Nikolas' partner and information broker. Mags channels his old cunning self from the mines and discovers that he's quite good at his new job. So good, in fact, that Nikolas decides to let him open the shop alone one hot, summer night. Mags has barely unlocked the shop when everything goes black in a blinding flash of pain.
He wakes with an agonizing headache, bound, blindfolded, in a conveyance of some kind. But worst of all, he's head-blind. No Mindspeech--he can't even sense Dallen. And if he can't sense or hear Dallen, then no one can sense him. And if no one can sense him, no one can come to his rescue

I love Mercedes Lackey, but lately her books haven't been as good as usual. Granted, she's written a ton of books and I'm sure the ideas just aren't flowing like they use to. Also, she puts out 3 or 4 new books every year, if not more. That's a huge quota to fill. I wouldn't be able to do it.
That being said, I feel really bad, but I really haven't liked the Collegium Chronicles so far. I've been reading them for a few years and every time I pick up a new one, I can't remember what happened in the one before it. I'm usually pretty good at remembering stories, but these ones are so forgettable that I've pretty much forgotten what's happen in the book by the time I finish it.
Her introduction of a new magic sport, Kirball, makes me groan out loud every time it's mentioned. Like Quiddich, I skim these parts and hope that there won't be any more games, but there always are. Soooo much Kirball..... I'm sure some people like it, but it's just not for me.
Anyway, the first half of this books was as lacklustre as the other books. But the second half I couldn't put down! Mags is kidnapped and forced to break his mould by actually being interesting! (something that he hasn't been since the beginning of the first book)
It gets back to the heart of the Valdemar series for me. How far will a Herald go to survive and to serve King and Country? Put them against all odds and see how they do.
The new allies that were introduced were instantly likeable and intriguing, which is more than I can say about a lot of the regular cast. I want to know more about them. I would read entire books about them and their struggles!
The villains, on the other hand, are as lacklustre as all of the other villains in this series have been. Instantly forgettable. Their motives are still unclear. Why should I care about villains when I don't even understand what they're trying to accomplish, especially after 4 books?
I really hope that the 5th book is better (or at least equal in quality) to this book. I also hope that it's the last of this series. I'm not sure I could read any more of them.

by James Patterson

419 Pages

With five previous number one mega best-sellers to his name, James Patterson can take some risks. Acclaimed for his Alex Cross series — Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, Jack & Jill, Cat & Mouse — Patterson strikes an entirely new chord with When the Wind Blows. A chilling suspense novel — perhaps too realistic for comfort — Patterson combines jaw-dropping scenes, heart-pounding plot twists, and memorable characters in one unforgettable package.
Set against a sinister backdrop of genetic engineering and illegal scientific experimentation, When the Wind Blows dares readers to test their notions of human evolution and medical science. Frannie O'Neill is a caring young veterinarian living in the Colorado Rockies, trying to erase the memory of her beloved husband's mysterious murder. It is not long before another neighbor suddenly dies, and FBI agent Kit Harrison arrives at Frannie's doorstep. Kit is hell-bent on solving the heinous case despite resounding protests from the FBI and the thrashing of his own internal demons.
Kit secretly pursues the investigation, yet witnesses keep turning up dead. Then Frannie stumbles upon an astonishing discovery in the nearby woods, and their lives are altered in ways they could never have imagined. Simply knowing the secret of Max — the terrified 11-year-old girl with an amazing gift — could mean death.
As more and more diabolical details are unearthed, the murderer's bloody trail ultimately leads the trio to an underground lab network, known as "the School." Here scientists conduct shockingly incomprehensible experiments involving children and genetic alteration.
But perhaps not so unfathomable: Doctors and medical researchers who have read Where the Wind Blows say the events described in this book could actually be a reality in the next 20 to 30 years. If not before.

This book was so cutting edge.... in 1998...
This isn't really my genre, but my Dad lent me this book, thinking that I might enjoy it. I've had it sitting on my shelf for a very long time, so when the challenge came around, I added it to my TBR (to be read) list.
This book was relatively entertaining. It had really short chapters, 2 or 3 pages usually, which made it super easy to read, and hard to put down when you can justify reading just one more chapter, and then just one more....

The main characters were ok. There was nothing that really made them stand out. Even the ones that physically stood out weren't very interesting. This could've easily been written in the last few years had there not been so many "current" references. Current for 1998, of course. References to Fiona Apple (remember her?), product slogans and magazines. Then again, not all of them were current then. Some of them were from when I was a kid, all of them bad. It was pretty groan worthy at times.

I think the doctors and medical researches who read this had really high hopes for what 20 years down the line would bring, kind of like the Jetsons and Back to the Future 2. I'm sure these genetic alterations are probably being worked on somewhere in some secret mad (or not so mad) science lab, but this thriller was a little bit more science fiction than I had hoped.


531 Pages

Evelina Cooper, niece of Sherlock Holmes, is ready for her first London Season - except for a murderer, missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse. In a Victorian era ruled by a ruthless steam baron council, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. Evelina has secretly mastered a coveted weapon - magic that can run machines. Should she trust the handsome, clever rake who speeds her breath, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything she would ask?

This book was really good. I was actually kind of surprised at that. The whole premise seemed kind of silly. But there was a quote on the front by Jacqueline Carey. I love Jacqueline Carey and I'm constantly looking for other authors like her.  I've read some steampunk in the past and not been overly impressed (I'm looking at you Soulless) and I wasn't sure how magic and Sherlock Holmes were going to fit into it, but I figured I'd give a go.
I couldn't put it down! I really liked all of the characters. The intrigue was really well done and I liked how all the plots inter-weaved.  The steampunk aspects were a charming addition, as was her magical touch. The women were well rounded and intelligent, which I greatly appreciated.
The only thing that I found that didn't really work was the addition of Sherlock Holmes. He didn't really seem to fit within the parameters of the story. Mostly it felt like he was just added to give her a reason to know the things that she did about sleuthing and to provide quick answers to long standing questions. Not to mention every time he and Doctor Watson showed up, all I could picture was Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Not that it's a bad thing :P
I'm hoping that as the series continues, it will just be Evelina solving crimes and not her famous Uncle. One thing for sure, I am looking forward to reading more of this series.

by Ann Aguirre 

302 Pages

It’s not easy to tread lightly wearing steel-toed boots.
Sirantha Jax isn’t known for diplomatic finesse. As a “Jumper” who navigates ships through grimspace, she’s used to kicking ass first and taking names later—much later. Not exactly the obvious choice to sell the Conglomerate to the Ithtorians, a people whose opinions of humans are as hard as their exoskeletons.
And Ithiss-Tor council meetings aren’t the only place where Ambassador Jax needs to maneuver carefully. Her lover, March, is frozen in permanent “kill” mode, and his hair-trigger threatens to sabotage the talks—not to mention their relationship.
But Jax won’t give up on the man or the mission. With the Outskirts beleaguered by raiders, pirates, and the flesh-eating Morgut, an alliance with Ithiss-Tor may be humanity’s only hope.
Which has Jax wondering why a notorious troublemaker like her was given the job.

I've been reading this series for awhile and I'm always surprised how good it is. I picked this series up on a whim. I'm not much into Sci-Fi books, but I was looking for something different after reading a slew of books that all felt the same. I needed a reading pick me up and this was exactly that.
Whenever I read the backs of these books, I always feel leery about reading them, but as soon as I pick one up, I can't put it back down. This is the 3rd installment of the story. I say installment because it's not like other series. These books end and pick up in the next book as if you were just going chapter to chapter. She doesn't spend a lot of time reminding you what's happened in previous books, like some series do, she just expects that you remember what's going on. And to be honest, it's hard to forget.
I really like the way the main character grew in this book. She's finally realized just how much is riding on her and she really steps up her game. The more I read about her, the more I like her, which is good, since I didn't care for her much in the first two book. I really love how her relationship with Vel grows. I'm pretty sure he's my favorite character right now, and I don't think anyone can blame me for that. I'm greatly looking forward to the next installment.

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

371 Pages

It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them. 
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. 
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. 
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. 
A world at stake. 
A quest for the ultimate prize. 
Are you ready?

Let me just start by saying that this book was worth reading for the pop culture references alone. Unlike When The Wind Blows (as reviewed above), the references really add to this story. They show a culture that is far outdated, yet worshipped, scrutinized and integrated into everyday life. Any geek who understands the draw of fandom will fall in love with this book and will wish OASIS was real.
It was odd to read a book that 90% of takes place in virtual reality. It gives the characters a depth that isn't explored in a lot of books. Not only do you have the character as he his in his real life, but also who he is in the real world, two very different things. It really goes to show you who we can become when we can be anything that we want and how that can affect us in both worlds.

The other thing that I loved about this book were the geek girls! They were never forced to prove themselves, they were just accepted and respected for being awesome!

The search for the keys and trying to figure out the riddles were a little nerve wracking at times. I could feel my own anxiety building, which is great for the story, but hard for me to keep reading. luckily I persevered and plowed though the rest.
This book is a must read for geeks everywhere.

Books that I am currently reading

Elemental Magic: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters
By Mercedes Lackey and Friends
Page 64 of 306

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
by H.P. Lovecraft
Page 16 of 360

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3)
by George R.R. Martin
Page 273 of 1128

So, what are you reading?

1 comment:

  1. Ready Player One is one of my all time favorite books.