Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon - October 22, 2016

It's time for another Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon and I couldn't be more excited! I really look forward to these, I love read-a-thons of all kinds, but Dewey's is just extra special.  There are so many people taking part together, it was really one of my very first experiences with online read-a-thons and it opened up a whole new community to me. Reading was no longer a solitary activity, it was now a game, a race, a party, a celebration of books! I've lost count of how many Dewey's I've taken part in. If you're interested in learning more, there's the Dewey's Website which talks about how this Read-a-thon got started, and it is where you sign up, and there is Facebook Group and a Goodreads Group. I will probably update my blog, but also post on the Facebook group as that is the easiest for me to do from my phone.

I hope you decide to join us!  Here is my stack of possibilities, which is always subject to change!


Coming Soon!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis

From Goodreads:

For Jeff Johnston, a young historical researcher for a Civil War novelist, reality is redefined on a bitter cold night near the close of a lingering winter. He meets Annie, an intense and lovely young woman suffering from vivid, intense nightmares. Haunted by the dreamer and her unrelenting dreams, Jeff leads Annie on an emotional odyssey through the heartland of the Civil War in search of a cure. On long-silenced battlefields their relationship blossoms-two obsessed lovers linked by unbreakable chains of history, torn by a duty that could destroy them both.

Locus Award Nominee for Best Fantasy Novel (1988)
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee (1988)
John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1988)

I didn't realize this was Connie Willis' first novel until I read the afterward! It is immediately clear that a lot of research went into this novel.  The mystery of the dreams bleeding through and trying to decide what they meant was very interesting, interwoven as it was with the events of Robert E. Lee's life during the Civil War and after.  That's right, Robert E. Lee.  To me the Lincoln's Dream part was a little misleading, as it was really a lesser part of the story and to me felt like it was included because it would seem more sensational as a draw?  The blurb also exaggerates the relationship of our two main characters, which is the weakest part of the story, but I suppose the mechanism needed to draw us through the dreams.

At any rate, while there are some definite flaws or lack of development in the characters themselves, the basic premise of the story, and the setting of the Civil War were the main draws for me, and did not disappoint. This is the second novel I have read by Willis (whom I didn't quite get to meet at Worldcon, but I did see her speak in the Grand Master's panel, yay!), the first being Doomsday Book, which was really good, but very affecting.  Lincoln's Dreams also is very affecting and its emphasis the horrors of the Civil War, along with the allure of dreams and their meanings, made it a solid and satisfying read for me.  I look forward to more of Willis' work, and expect just as much depth. 4/5 stars.

My first read of my own hosted Award Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Challenge, and fulfills a
"Any Novel by a Grand Master" Square on the Bingo card, as she was the Grand Master for 2011, presented in 2012.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

October My TBR List Winner - Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

 And the winner is...

I've heard good things about this series, so I'm looking forward to an interesting read!  I'll let you know what I think at the end of the month!

4 votes12 votes14 votes

Saturday, October 01, 2016

My TBR List - October 2016

Welcome to my October 2016 edition of My To Be Read List, hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading. This is a monthly meme where we offer up 3 choices from our TBR pile for our readers to pick from to help us make the super hard decision of "what do I read next?" a little easier and to whittle away at the ever growing TBR Mountain! 

Theme: Monsters, Death, you know. I bet you're surprised, aren't you, it being October and all? I knew it! Feel free to leave me a comment and tell me which you chose and why.

The poll will stay open through Friday 10/7 , and I'll update this post with the winning book on Saturday 10/8, then post a review on the last Saturday of the month, 10/29.

If you think this sounds fun and would like to join (the more the merrier, because we love voting!) please head on over to Because Reading where Michelle lays out the rules for us!

And the choices are...

From Goodreads:

There were many staff at Kensington Palace, fulfilling many roles; a man who was employed to catch rats, another whose job it was to sweep the chimneys. That there was someone expected to hunt Demons did not shock the new Queen; that it was to be her was something of a surprise.

London, 1838. Queen Victoria is crowned; she receives the orb, the scepter, and an arsenal of blood-stained weaponry. Because if Britain is about to become the greatest power of the age, there's the small matter of the demons to take care of first... But rather than dreaming of demon hunting, it is Prince Albert who occupies her thoughts. Can she dedicate her life to saving her country when her heart belongs elsewhere?

With lashings of glistening entrails, decapitations, and foul demons, this masterly new portrait will give a fresh understanding of a remarkable woman, a legendary monarch, and quite possibly the best Demon Hunter the world has ever seen...
From Goodreads:

A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction. In medieval Cambridge, England, four children have been murdered. The crimes are immediately blamed on the town's Jewish community, taken as evidence that Jews sacrifice Christian children in blasphemous ceremonies. To save them from the rioting mob, the king places the Cambridge Jews under his protection and hides them in a castle fortress. King Henry II is no friend of the Jews-or anyone, really-but he is invested in their fate. Without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping scientific investigation will exonerate the Jews, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest "master of the art of death," an early version of the medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia-the king has been sent a "mistress" of the art of death. Adelia and her companions-Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor-travel to England to unravel the mystery of the Cambridge murders, which turn out to be the work of a serial killer, most likely one who has been on Crusade with the king. In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia must conceal her true identity as a doctor in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she is assisted by Sir Rowley Picot, one of the king's tax collectors, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. Rowley may be a needed friend, or the fiend for whom they are searching. As Adelia's investigation takes her into Cambridge's shadowy river paths and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again . .
From Goodreads:

Those stories you hear? The ones about things that only come out at night? Things that feed on blood, feed on us? Got news for you: they’re true. Only it’s not like the movies or old man Stoker’s storybook. It’s worse. Especially if you happen to be one of them. Just ask Joe Pitt.
There’s a shambler on the loose. Some fool who got himself infected with a flesh-eating bacteria is lurching around, trying to munch on folks’ brains. Joe hates shamblers, but he’s still the one who has to deal with them. That’s just the kind of life he has. Except afterlife might be better word.

From the Battery to the Bronx, and from river to river, Manhattan is crawling with Vampyres. Joe is one of them, and he’s not happy about it. Yeah, he gets to be stronger and faster than you, and he’s tough as nails and hard to kill. But spending his nights trying to score a pint of blood to feed the Vyrus that’s eating at him isn’t his idea of a good time. And Joe doesn’t make it any easier on himself. Going his own way, refusing to ally with the Clans that run the undead underside of Manhattan–it ain’t easy. It’s worse once he gets mixed up with the Coalition–the city’s most powerful Clan–and finds himself searching for a poor little rich girl who’s gone missing in Alphabet City.

Now the Coalition and the girl’s high-society parents are breathing down his neck, anarchist Vampyres are pushing him around, and a crazy Vampyre cult is stalking him. No time to complain, though. Got to find that girl and kill that shambler before the whip comes down . . . and before the sun comes up.

Which of these three should I read? results
0 total votes · comments and details · invite friends Voting starts on: Sep 30, 2016 10:00PM PDT


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker

From Goodreads:

They have her daughter. She will stop at nothing to get her back.

When system-wide civil war broke out, fighter pilot Captain Alisa Marchenko left her family and accepted a commission in the Alliance Army to battle the empire’s tyranny. Four years later, the empire has been toppled, but chaos and anarchy now rule the system. Alisa, after being injured in the final battle, is stranded on a dustball of a planet billions of miles from home. She learns that her husband died during the bombings, leaving their daughter on Perun, a planet that has become the last imperial stronghold.

Alisa must find a way to Perun, even if she has to steal a dilapidated ship from a junkyard overrun by murdering savages to do it. She’s ready for the challenge. She did not, however, count on finding an elite imperial cyborg soldier squatting in the ship and planning to use it for a mysterious mission of his own. Alisa can’t let him or anyone else stop her, or she'll never see her daughter again.

This was a fun read that I discovered through Kindle Unlimited. I actually had a few other titles by this author on my list, a few as kindle freebies, but not in the Sci-Fi genre, they were her fantasy novels. So this one was marketed for fans of Firefly and Star Wars, and while normally I don't like it when books try to ride the coat tails of bigger hugely successful things because I feel like they can't possibly live up, I could see the influence of both in this story. There is much wit and banter between characters, each having their own quirks, a la Firefly. And there is the grand setting of the aftermath of a big war which has the feel of the Empire and the Rebels, a la Star Wars.  But our characters here are not the top brass or the last Jedi, they are people caught in the crossfire, and believing they were fighting for the right side, but then coming to know each other and find out they are still all humans, with feelings, and honor, regardless of the side they started out on.  They are the ones who somehow got left behind now that the whole thing is over and have to figure out what to do next, how to get home, how to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. 

I enjoyed the characterization, and found myself imagining The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, as the Cyborg Soldier, every time the eyebrow quirk was mentioned, though he is much more outspoken and animated in his roles than the reserved Cyborg we here. By author admission the science part of the sci-fi is pretty general, but still sets the scene well.  I look forward to more in this series, and also sampling others by this author.  4/5 stars.

The King's Mistress - Emma Campion

From Goodreads:

When had I choice to be other than I was? From childhood Alice Salisbury has learnt obedience in all things and at fourteen, dutifully marries the man her father has chosen for her - at the cost of losing the love of her mother forever and the family she holds dear.

But merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and Alice soon learns to enjoy her marriage. Until a messenger brings news of his disappearance and she discovers that her husband had many secrets, secrets he didn't want her to know - but which have now put a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Brought under the protection of King Edward III and Queen Philippa, she must dutifully embrace her fate once more - as a virtual prisoner at Court.

And when the king singles her out for more than just royal patronage, she knows she has little choice but to accept his advances. But obeying the king brings with it many burdens as well as pleasures, as she forfeits her good name to keep her daughter free from hurt.

Still a young woman and guided by her intellect and good business sense, she learns to use her gifts as wisely as she can. But as one of the king's favourites, she brings jealousy and hatred in her wake and some will stop at nothing to see her fall from grace.

When had I choice to be other than I was? This truly says it all for Alice in this book. I cannot think of a more stressful environment, save a war zone, than life at court as a companion to kings and queens. Alice's life was never her own, even her children were rarely hers to care for and make decisions about. From the moment she married Janyn, she was thrown into a whirlwind of intrigue that she had to navigate while not knowing the particulars.  So much was expected of her, and on top of that, to accept it all with uncomplaining grace.

This story takes place in the time of House Plantagenet, in the late 1300's when Edward III was king.  Interesting to me was the relationship Alice had with both Queen Philippa and Edward, it was not your usual young mistress takes the place of the queen in the king's affections. It was all very calculated it would seem, and truly what choice did she have?  At that time, you did not refuse the royal family, even though she would suffer feelings of guilt that she could have somehow behaved differently.

While many of the events are poetic license by the author, personally stated, I really enjoyed reading about the life and personality she crafted for Alice, sad for her trials and happy for the joys she experienced.  I'll admit, I cried for her at a certain point towards the end, but I don't want to spoil anything for any prospective readers. I am definitely interested in reading more about Alice, and Wikipedia gives information and also other novels which feature her as a character. A definite recommend from me to historical fiction fans, I gave it a 5/5.

I read this for the 2016 Reading Assignment Challenge.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

2016 Award-Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Challenge - October 1 - December 31st, 2016

Welcome to my sign up post for my very own reading challenge, the first one I have ever hosted! I'm super excited and nervous and can't wait to get started!  To join us, click on the picture above to be taken to the sign up!

I'm going to declare the Ursa Major level for 4-6 books as my goal, and I have picked out a line on the Bingo card to use as my guideline for what books I hope to get read.  I've chosen the diagonal from top left to bottom right, here is my list:

Lincoln's Dreams - by Connie Willis (Any novel by a Grand Master)

Bridge of Birds -  by Barry Hughart (World Fantasy Awarded Novel 1985)

Stranger in a Strange Land - by Robert Heinlein (Hugo Award Winner 1962)

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - by Catherynne M. Valente (Andre Norton Award Winner 2009)

The Forever War - by Joe Haldeman (Any novel by a Grand Master)

Here we go! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bout of Books 17 - August 22 - 28

Bout of Books

It's time for Bout of Books 17! It's just the thing to help me recover from Worldcon 74! So awesome, but so tiring, more on that in another post! I'm so glad I have this read-a-thon to ease me down from that amazing event back into real life again, so it isn't quite a full stop back into the everyday. Even as an introvert it's a little jarring to go from super event to normal work, like nothing really happened. Oh but things did happen! I met PEOPLE, and I even TALKED to them! *gasp* (like 20+ authors, seriously) but again, that's for another post! Now we're going to have a big old reading party for a week, want to join me? Click on the picture above, or the link below!

Visit with us all on Twitter at #boutofbooks
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Updates and whatnot:

Day 1 - 8/22:
With All My Soul = 3:11 (stopped at 5:48)
The Bell Jar = 55 pages

Day 2 - 8/23:
With All My Soul = 2:14 (stopped at 8:02)
The Bell Jar = 41 pages (stopped at 96)
Serpent's Kiss = 45 pages (started at 175, stopped 220)
Total Pages = 86

Day 3 - 8/24:
With All My Soul = 1:09 (stopped at 9:11)
Serpent's Kiss = 60 pages (started at 220, stopped 280)

Day 4 - 8/25:
With All My Soul = :44 (stopped at 9:55)
Serpent's Kiss = 32 pages (started at 280, stopped 312)
The Bell Jar = 60 pages (stopped at 156)
Total Pages = 92

Day 5 - 8/26:
With All My Soul = 1:49 (stopped at 11:44, finished)
The Bell Jar = 100 pages (stopped at 256)

Day 6 - 8/27:
The Bell Jar = 40 pages (stopped at 296, finished)
The Last Wish = 48 pages (started at 169, stopped at 217)
The King's Mistress = 10 pages (started at 90, stopped at 100)
Total Pages = 98 pages

Day 7 - 8/28:

The King's Mistress = 36 pages (stopped at 136)

Total Pages = 527
Hours listened = 9:07

TBR Pile (subject to change without notice, even to me!):


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