Monday, August 31, 2015

The New 52 - August Edition

August was a long, busy month that seemed to go on forever. I worked long days and was exhausted a lot of the time. Sometimes too exhausted to read.... I know... It was awful!
For most of the month I was trying desperately to get through a book that I just didn't want to read and picking up other books in fits and starts, just to try and get by. By the time I finally finished the book, I was sure that there were only going to be a few books on my list this month, but in the last week, I managed to zoom through a couple of really good books and I'm feeling much more relaxed.
Here's what I read this month:

by Robert Jordan

1007 Pages

The seals of Shayol Ghul are weak now, and the Dark One reaches out. The Shadow is rising to cover humankind.
In Tar Valon, Min sees portents of hideous doom. Will the White Tower itself be broken?
In the Two Rivers, the Whitecloaks ride in pursuit of a man with golden eyes, and in pursuit of the Dragon Reborn.
In Cantorin, among the Sea Folk, High Lady Suroth plans the return of the Seanchan armies to the mainland.
In the Stone of Tear, the Lord Dragon considers his next move. It will be something no one expects, not the Black Ajah, not Tairen nobles, not Aes Sedai, not Egwene or Elayne or Nynaeve.
Against the Shadow rising stands the Dragon Reborn.....

This book further continues the series that was suppose to end with the last book.  Now, no longer shackled to a trilogy, Jordan was able to open up his World even more. The characters continued to separate and follow their own paths (most of the time) or be pulled along against their will, due to destiny (). He introduces new cultures and shows us how prophecy can change depending on where you are.
I'm always fascinated with Rand's story, as he gets dragged along by the Pattern and forced into becoming the Dragon Reborn. As the story progresses he tries to become more of a leader, despite still feeling like a shepherd.
This is the first sort of slow book in the series, at least I always thought, but listening to it on audiobook makes even the slow books much more interesting.

by Mercedes Lackey

310 Pages

Rosamund is an Earth Master in the Schwarzwald, the ancient Black Forest of Germany. Since the age of ten, she has lived with her teacher, the Hunt Master and Earth Magician of the Schwarzwald Foresters, a man she calls “Papa.” Her adoptive Papa rescued her after her original Earth Master teacher, an old woman who lived alone in a small cottage in the forest, was brutally murdered by werewolves. Rosa herself barely escaped, and this terrifying incident molded the course of her future.
For like her fellow Earth Masters of the Schwarzwald Lodge, Rosa is not a healer. Instead, her talents lead her on the more violent path of protection and defense— “cleansing” the Earth and protecting its gentle fae creatures from those evil beings who seek to do them harm.
And so Rosa becomes the first woman Hunt Master and the scourge of evil creatures, with a deadly specialty in werewolves and all shape­shifters.
While visiting with a Fire Master—a friend of her mentor from the Schwarzwald Lodge— Rosa meets a pair of Elemental Magicians from Hungary who have come looking for help. They suspect that there is a dark power responsible for a string of murders happening in the remote countryside of Transylvania, but they have no proof. Rosa agrees to help them, but there is a catch: one of the two men asking for aid is a hereditary werewolf.
Rosa has been taught that there are three kinds of werewolves. There are those, like the one that had murdered her teacher, who transform themselves by use of dark magic, and also those who have been infected by the bite of these magical werewolves—these poor victims have no control over their transforma­tive powers. Yet, there is a third kind: those who have been born with the ability to trans­form at will. Some insist that certain of these hereditary werewolves are benign. But Rosa has never encountered a benign werewolf!
Can she trust this Hungarian werewolf? Or is the Hunter destined to become the Hunted?

This was the first book I picked up when I was having trouble getting through The Court Of The Air.  I needed something that I knew was going to be good, so I went for the new Mercedes Lackey. She's always reliable for a good story... well, most of the time.
Being a part of the Elemental Master Series, I expect a few things; elemental magic, Victoria Era setting, and a Fairy Tale tie in. Triple check on all three. Rosa is a Earth Master and is suppose to be tied in with a Little Red Ridinghood theme, although other than the epilogue, we get more of a Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunter kinda vibe. Since when are Vampires and Werewolves considered Elementals? I guess the World is also full of nasty monsters who do nasty things (%)
I love that Mercedes takes her time to really flush out her characters, which is why I was disappointing that she really tried to get a love triangle () going between Rosa, the "good" werewolf (¥) and his cousin. None of them really had any chemistry together other the the workings of a good friendship (&). Oh well, can't win 'em all.
Other than these few problems, I really did enjoy this book 

by Ann Aguirre

417 Pages

The horde is coming.
Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they're not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker, and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn't run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade's love.
Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn't been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.
This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.

This was the second book I picked up while reading The Court Of The Air.
I really feel like this is how raising an army would actually go. You start with a few and have everyone else laugh in your face. You show them what you can do, even in small numbers and the word begins to spread to everyone else and they start to rethink laughing at you.
This is not a story where everything just falls into place, they work and fight for every inch they can get.
As well as being a post-apocalyptic story of war, like all good YA, there's always a love story involved. This was has been evolving through the last 2 books. Deuce and Fade finally start to figure everything out and Stalker finally gives up trying to win Deuce for himself () and starts to work on making amends with Tegan for the harm he caused her in earlier books (%)
I think my favorite character in the book series might actually be Tegan. She grows so much and really comes into herself. It just goes to show you than anyone can be a hero.

by Barb Hendee

326 Pages

The national bestselling author of The Mist-Torn Witches returns to a world of princes and power, magic and mystery, where two women have the ability to reveal the future and uncover the past…
When seers Céline and Amelie Fawe fled Shetâna under threat of death, they vowed never to return. Yet, less than a year later, they are summoned back—to aid the man who once tried to kill them.…
The cruel prince Damek is on the verge of closing marriage negotiations with the powerful family of a young noblewoman when his intended’s sister is murdered. To keep the engagement from falling through, Damek must expose the killer quickly—and he needs the seers’ powers to do so. Though the Fawes’ patron, Prince Anton, fears that bringing Céline and Amelie to Shetâna places them in grave danger, he is honor-bound to help his brother Damek.
Only none of them is prepared for the peril that awaits them at Castle Kimovesk—for someone in the court is determined to prevent the marriage from happening, no matter how deadly the cost… 

This was the third book I picked up while reading The Court Of The Air.
I'm always a little surprised when I read this series, that I actually get sucked into the mystery as much as I do. These books constantly keep me guessing as to "who done it". This book keeps with that tradition as they head into the Lion's Den of Prince Anton's nasty, cruel, evil (%) brother Damek. The girls use their special ability (¥) to try and figure out what's really going on, but Celine's powers aren't doing her any favors. I guess they really can't when one reading will just give away the end. That would just spoil all the fun.
Celine and Anton continue to have an awkward relationship of unrequited longing and friendship (&) and I was sad that Jaromir wasn't in the book for more than a few pages. Hopefully he will be in more of the next book. 

by Stephen Hunt

582 Pages

A hugely engaging adventure set in a Victorian-style world -- a fantastical version of Dickens -- that will appeal to fans of Susanna Clarke and Philip Pullman. Two orphans are more than they seem. And one megalomaniac will stop at nothing to find them! When Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has just been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to return to the poorhouse where she grew up. But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was in fact the real target of the attack. For Molly carries a secret deep in her blood, a secret that marks her out for destruction by enemies of the state. Soon Molly will find herself battling a grave threat to civilization which draws on an ancient power thought to have been quelled millennia ago. 
Oliver Brooks has led a sheltered life in the home of his merchant uncle. But when he is framed for his only relative's murder he is forced to flee for his life. He is accompanied by Harry Stave, an agent of the Court of the Air -- a shadowy organization independent of the government that acts as the final judiciary of the land, ensuring that order prevails.Chased across the country, Oliver finds himself in the company of thieves, outlaws and spies, and gradually learns more about the secret that has blighted his life, but which may also offer him the power to avert the coming catastrophe. Their enemies are ruthless and myriad, but Molly and Oliver are joined by indomitable friends in this endlessly inventive tale full of drama, intrigue and adventure.

Yes, I finally managed to finish this book. I wasn't sure I was going to for awhile there. It's hard to know what to say about this book.
I feel like it had a lot of potential. The story was good, but it was so wordy that it became uninteresting and hard to concentrate on.
For Example:
'Same reason that worldsingers wear their purple robes, Molly, same reason magistrates and doormen put on their wigs and powder, same reason engine men talk about taking transaction drums offstream rather than just saying turn them off. Every trade like to talk up their job with a little mystique and hide its doings with a lot of words that don't do much more than make what is very simple very complex'
Yup, you said it....with way too many words.
Also, there are way too many things that the author just expects you to understand, but doesn't explain, leaving you feeling confused and left out of many things.
The wayward Orphans who must save the World with their yet-untold magical powers (¥) lack heart and emotion and deeper character development. I loved Molly, but Oliver changed half way through the book without even so much as a thought about it.
The plot was very complicated, leading to a war based on political, religious, magical, changing boarders and assimilating people into Cybermen-like mechs. I could've gotten behind one or two of those, but all of them were too many.
This book was part of a series that I'm leery about continuing. Perhaps I will add the next one to my TBR pile next year.

by Judith Fertig

279 Pages

A fiction debut that will leave you wanting seconds, from an award-winning cookbook author.
Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings—cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.
Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of—and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told.
Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.

This was a really sweet book, despite a few sour notes (%). The story doesn't just take place in the present, but also in the past, following a ring, a pair of sisters and a poor neighbor boy. How this connects with the present is a wonderful story in and of itself.
I love reading about bakeries and how they are run, and although Neely runs the bakery, we still get glimpses of the behind the scenes World.
Neely's power of tasting feelings (¥) was way more magical than I had anticipated. I was thinking that she just got hints about people, but she gets full-on visions.
It was the only real leap of the story, but it was one I was willing to take.

Books that I am currently reading

by H.P. Lovecraft
Page 268 of 360

by Robert Jordan
Page 848 of 890
(32:13 of 36:27 hours)

by Ami McKay
Page 50 of 480

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday Threads - Cardigans

Alas, Summer is almost over. The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler. Soon it will be back to school, the Changing of the leaves and the preparation for Halloween.

I'm getting ahead of myself, after all, I am wearing a tank top and and am perfectly comfortable in it. It's true though, while the lazy days of summer are still nice and warm, the nights are getting cooler and I sometimes find myself thinking about grabbing a cardigan.

But cardigans are so boring, or at least mine are; left over from my office days. They're all plain and bland colours, designed to go with anything and make you blend in with your equally boring attired office crowd.

Not anymore! There are geeky cardigans out there and they are just waiting for us!

Hot Topic

I love the little pokeball buttons!

I love the Her Universe Studio Ghibli line!

I haven't watched Orphan Black yet, but I'm loving this handgun cardigan

This cardigan is perfect for Shark Week or any day of the week, really.

These Star Trek cardigans are suddenly all the rage and how could they not be? They're super cute

See? All the rage

I'm still so in love with these Star Wars cardigans!

These new Varsity cardigans are perfect for back to school

Simple, geeky, perfect!

We Love Fine

There are more Adventure Time cardigans! YAY!!!

I'm loving this new Princess Bubblegum one!

I covet this Spider Gwen cardigan

What did I tell you? They're everywhere!

You can get the exact same ones at Think Geek too, but I like WLF better

Whether the weather is still warm or not, I feel cozy looking at all these cardigans. It makes me want to go make myself a cup of tea and curl up with a blanket and a book. Okay, so maybe I'll settle with a glass of lemonade and some air conditioning, but you know what I mean.
Geek on, everyone

Thanks to Fashionably Geek who always knows how to style up my day

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday Threads - Hello Simpsons?

Hello Kitty and The Simpsons?

I've seen some pop culture crossovers in my time, mostly from fans and artists alike, mixing Disney princesses or Sailor Moon with anything they can think of, or  merging their favorite sci-fi franchises. Heck, TeeFury and Shirt Punch make their living off selling us awesome crossover shirts. I should know, I own a lot of them. 
Of course we've all seen Hello Kitty crossovers of everything, but this is actually licensed and it's weird... really weird... 
but damn it, Sanrio manages to make it adorable as usual

I'm in love with this doughnut dress! So cute!

I've always hated itchy and scratchy, but I might be convinced to like them if they were always this adorable

So it seems that not all of the clothes are on the Sanrio website, but I managed to find a few more over at Japan LA to buy, including this cute Kwik-E-Mart shirt

Can I just say how much I love the fact that Ralph is picking his nose?

I would totally wear this dress. It's super cute!

So what do you think? Would you wear any of this weird/adorable crossover clothing?

Thanks to Fashionably Geek how always wants us to stay weird and adorable