Wednesday, July 30, 2014

52 Review - July Edition

Summer is the time to go out and relax on the beach. I like to read on the beach if given the chance. Then again, I like to read anywhere and everywhere.
This month I managed to get quite a bit of reading done for the challenge. Mind you I had a week off at the beginning of the month, followed then by the flu, so there was quite a bit of time to read.
Reading and sleeping; what more could you ask for on a vacation or home with the flu?
Maybe a beach or maybe not to be sick? Either way, I have my book, I'm content

by Lauren M. Roy

293 Pages

Night Owls book store is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk…
Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren as possible. She’s lived that life, and the price she paid was far too high to ever want to return.
Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural werewolf-like beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.
When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safe keeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors…

The thing about reading as much as I do is that when I find an author that I like, I tend to devour every book of theirs that I can get my hands on. But while I'm waiting for their new books to come out in paperback, I'm forced to try and find new books by new authors in hopes of striking gold. I don't often have very good luck with that.
When I picked up this book, I was hoping for a nice, silly read. I was surprised when it actually seemed to take itself seriously; happily surprised. It was actually pretty good.
There was a really good dynamic between the characters and no messy love triangles, which I was a little worried about at one point. It's nice when someone can write male/female friendships well. Even the case of unrequited love didn't interfere with the fact that friendship came first.
I really loved the succubi. They were adorable.
I'm sad that this is the only book in the series that is out yet. Seems like I'll be waiting for more books from one more author.
378 Pages
Katie Langford had been part of her family's acrobatic troupe working in a small traveling circus -- until a terrible fire killed her parents. Years later, still with the circus but stuck in an abusive marriage to a drunk, Katie fled to Brighton, a seaside resort town whose music halls meant no circus need visit.
Lionel Hawkens was a professional Air Magician who had a permanent job at the Palace Music Hall in Brighton. His shows never failed to enchant the ever-changing crowds, for even though he wasn't a Master, Lionel's sylphs helped him keep his shows far above average. Lionel wasn't the only one at the Palace who had magical abilities. Jack Prescott had lost a leg in the Boer Wars, but had a steady job at the Palace as the doorman. Jack had preternatural awareness of all flame, for he was also a magician and his aspect was Fire.
When Katie answered the Palace's call for a new assistant with stage experience, she couldn't believe her luck. Lionel could not believe it either -- not only had he found a perfectly suited assistant, but he could tell that Katie was like Jack: a magician whose aspect was Fire.
Though Jack and Lionel could see the glowing salamanders that snuggled up to Katie like a couple of cats, she herself seemed blind to the little Fire Elementals. Katie's power was blocked -- a potentially dangerous situation for everyone around her -- and Lionel and Jack could tell that she was hiding something. Something that frightened her.
Would the two magicians be able to teach Katie to control her Element before whatever threatened her became real?
Mercedes Lackey is one of the few authors that I have read almost the entire collection of. I wait patiently year after year for her books to come out in paperback and then quickly devour them, then having to wait all over again for new ones to come out.
I've been finding in the last few years that her books can be hit or miss, but I was happy that this one was a hit.
This one took on a darker tone with spousal abuse. It gave a very real view of what it was like to be a woman in that era, considered property of her husband and unable to escape him other than running away. This only proves to be a short, if happy reprieve from him, until he turns back up to take possession of her once again.
the relationship between the 3 main characters is quite wonderful. I enjoy the mutual respect that they find for one another, despite coming from very different backgrounds. Even the love story that was introduced into it didn't seem at all forced, which was nice. Certainly not necessary, but nice none the less.
Now, if only Bastion would come out in paperback soon.... I feel like I've been waiting forever.

by Joanne Fluke

326 Pages

The residents of Lake Eden, Minnesota, are planning to paint the town red, white, and blue to celebrate the Fourth of July--but the fireworks are already going off at Hannah Swensen's bake shop, The Cookie Jar. . .
Hannah Swensen thought she'd finally discovered the recipe for a perfect life. But her sometime beau Norman Rhodes tosses a surprise ingredient into the mix when he phones to tell her he's just bought a house from local drugstore clerk Rhonda Scharf--which he plans to tear down in order to build the dream home he and Hannah designed. It seems the plan has been cooking for quite some time, and Hannah's shocked. Especially since her ring finger is still very much bare. . .
The good news is that the soon-to-be-torn-down house is full of antiques--and Norman has given Hannah and her mother first dibs. They uncover some gorgeous old furniture, a patchwork quilt. . .and Rhonda Scharf's dead body. A little more sleuthing turns up the half-eaten remains of a very special dinner for two--and one of The Cookie Jar's famous lemon meringue pies. Now it's up to Hannah to turn up the heat--and get busy tracking down clues. Starting in her very own kitchen. . .
Includes nine original cookie and dessert recipes for you to try!

Like the title infers, these books are total junk food. I started reading them a few years back, solely for the recipes that they held inside. I mean, who can resist cookie, pie and cake recipes along side a murder?
These books aren't that great, but they can be kind of fun. Hence why this is my TBR book for the month. Sadly, this one was the worst of all the ones I've read so far.

The book basically breaks down like this:

1. She thinks she's fat and goes on a diet (this ends up being the case of bringing home the wrong sized pants)
2. No one has proposed to her yet, despite the fact that she is not currently in a committed relationship with either of the 2 guys that she's been dating since the first book.
3. She thinks it's because she's fat that no one has proposed yet.
4. She's not sure she wants either one to propose.
5. She ends up going on some weird dates with both of them at the same time.
6. Apparently coffee has no calories (this is mentioned on so many occasions I actually had to look it up. Who knew?)
7. There is a murder (again) and only she can solve it despite having no training.
8. The police seem totally cool with her solving the crime for them.
9. She ends up being in the wrong place at the right time to:
a) find the body (or be with the person who does)
b) find the next attempted victim before they can die
c) get attacked by the murderer and put the final pieces into place

Hopefully the recipes will make up for the lack of a good plot in this one. Now, onto the next book in this 18 and counting book series

by Brandon Sanderson

382 Pages

In the three hundred years since the events of the Mistborn trilogy, science and technology have marched on. Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads, electric lighting, and even the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.
Yet even with these advances, the magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for those attempting to establish order and justice.
One is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax must now put away his guns and assume the duties incumbent upon the head of a noble house—until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

I was really looking forward to a new Mistborn book, but other than the Allomancy and some odd religions stemming from the characters in the original series, this book had very little to do with it.
If anything, it felt like a western, full of cowboys and outlaws, with a little bit of magic mixed in for fun. And it was fun. I really enjoyed it; well, most of it.
I'm really sad that the series started with the main character's girlfriend being fridged. Sure, it kind of adds to his character development, but not enough that I even find this method justifiable. I suppose it allows for a new woman to come on the scene as a potential love interest.
I was really looking forward to the ending of this, and yes, the main plot wraps up very well, but the secondary plot is quickly glossed over and left unfinished and unsatisfying. I'm assuming this is because the are 2 more books being written in this series, but neither of them are out yet and he seems to be focusing on other things. More books to wait for I guess...

359 Pages

For three days battle has raged in the snow around the great city of Tar Valon. In the city, a Foretelling of the future is uttered. On the slopes of Dragonmount, the immense mountain that looms over the city, is born an infant prophesied to change the world. That child must be found before the forces of the Shadow have an opportunity to kill him. Moiraine Damodred, a young Accepted soon to be raised to Aes Sedai, and Lan Mandragoran, a soldier fighting in the battle, are set on paths that will bind their lives together. But those paths are filled with complications and dangers, for Moiraine, of the Royal House of Cairhien, whose king has just died, and Lan, considered the uncrowned king of a nation long dead, find their lives threatened by the plots of those seeking power. "New Spring" related some of these events, in compressed form; New Spring: The Novel tells the whole story.

Since we're on the subject of waiting for books, The Wheel of Time was the longest, most drawn out series that I've ever read. I came into the series when book 9 came out back in 2000.
Due to Robert Jordan's unfortunate battle with cardiac amyloidosis, the series, understandably, crawled to a halt. Knowing that this disease would bring about his death, which it sadly did in 2007, Jordan passed all his knowledge of the series to Brandon Sanderson (see author above).  After a lot of research, Sanderson picked up the torch and finished the last 3 novels, the finale being released last year. And it was EPIC!
This is the only series that I bought in hardcover as they came out and I now own all of them that way.

I digress....
Over the years as the books have come out, I've given myself a refresher of what happened through Encyclopedia WOT. I always told myself that when the series was finished, I'd go back and read all of the books front to back. So, this is my new beginning, starting with New Spring.
This book actually came out mid-series, but it is technically a prequel, so I figured it was best to start there. It's nice to reread a book like this. I've been through so much with Moraine, Lan and Suian and it's quite fun to see their origins.
Since I've refreshed myself with the series so many times (and in so many different formats), I can now pick out all the foreshadowing that's been put into it and I love all the nods to the characters that will become important later.
There were suppose to be 2 more prequels between this and Eye Of The World, but Jordan was never able to write them. I can see where he was slowing working those plots into it and I'm saddened that we will never get to read them. Robert Jordan is an author that I will always truly miss.

by Barb Hendee

324 Pages

In a small village in the nation of Droevinka, orphaned sisters Céline and Amelie Fawe scrape out a living selling herbal medicines in their apothecary shop. Céline earns additional money by posing as a seer and pretending to read people’s futures.
But they exist in a land of great noble houses, all vying for power, and when the sisters refuse the orders of a warlord prince, they must flee and are forced to depend on the warlord prince’s brother, Anton, for a temporary haven.
A series of bizarre deaths of pretty young girls are plaguing the village surrounding Prince Anton’s castle. He offers Céline and Amelie permanent protection if they can use their "skills" to find the killer.
With little choice, the sisters enter a world unknown to them — of fine gowns and banquets and advances from powerful men. Their survival depends on catching a murderer who appears to walk through walls and vanish without a trace — and the danger around them seems to grow with each passing night.

This was another one of those books that I picked up while still waiting on paperback copies of other books. It looked silly, it looked fun, what did I have to lose?
Despite being over 300 pages, I read this book in less than 24 hours. I didn't even change my reading habits too much. It was just a super easy read. The letters were big, it was nicely spaced and the story flowed really well. I didn't even realize that I had read over half the book by lunch time. It was a good enough story that it kept me thinking about it all afternoon and I couldn't wait to finish it.
I really liked the 2 main female characters, even if they were a bit cliché. I thought that the 2 main male characters were going to be introduced as love interests, and there are certainly times that it's a possibility, but I found the more I read about them, the less that I liked them. Their struggle with right and wrong was well played and I could understand why they made the choices that they did, even if I didn't agree with them.
They mystery of the dead girls was alright. I actually figured it out about half way through, but then again, I read enough fantasy and cheesy mysteries (see above) that it was an easy deduction.
I enjoyed this book enough that I will go out and get the next one, which is thankfully already in paperback.

Books that I am currently reading

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
by H.P. Lovecraft
Page 16 of 360
(Should this still be on the list if I haven't read anything out of it for many months?)

by George R.R. Martin
Page 431 of 1128

Wrayth (Book of the Order #3)
by Philippa Ballantine
Page 50 of 309

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy Batman Day!

Happy Batman Day Everyone!!

Holy Caped Crusader!

Yes, that's right, today marks the 75th Anniversary of our favourite detective in spandex!

To celebrate, I've compiled my favorite Batman pictures that I've collected over the years. 

art by EternaLegend

I love you too Bats...

Thanks to everyone for loving Batman and sorry for the lack of art tags. If you know who any of this art belongs to, please drop me a line and I'll add it in

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!!

To my proud and noble Canadian friends,

Happy Canada Day, Eh?