Thursday, February 11, 2016

Traitor's Masque by Kenley Davidson (Giveaway)

From Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Trystan Colbourne believes she has nothing to lose. Her father has died, her stepmother has stolen her inheritance, and her stepsisters are as vicious as they are beautiful. If she wants a future beyond their cruelty and indifference, she has just one chance to make it for herself—by accepting an enticing offer from an unexpected benefactor. The offer? A life of freedom in exchange for her part in a harmless deception.

Trystan hopes her freedom will give her the chance to find out whether her mysterious new friend Donevan can be trusted with her secrets… and her heart. But trust is a dangerous business, and when her harmless deception turns sinister, Trystan discovers that trusting the wrong person may have placed the entire kingdom of Andar in grave peril. Unwittingly embroiled in espionage, treason, and deadly intrigue, Trystan will be forced to decide who she really wants to be, and how high a price she’s willing to pay to make her dreams come true.


This is not just a Cinderella re-telling. The traditional fairy tale plot line is the driver for Trystan's big decision, but there is so much more to this story than that. Our heroine must grapple with putting what she knows is right, not just over what she wants, but ultimately over her own freedom from an oppressive life, no small thing.  She becomes a changed person in the process, but once decided, never wavers.

The main characters are fully fleshed out and likable, their banter together is fun, further rounding their personalities.  I definitely rooted for them, and enjoyed the supporting characters as well.  As a debut novel I think this was great, and I'm looking forward to more from Kenley Davidson!

It's been awhile since I've done a giveaway, and I think Traitor's Masque is perfect for it!  I would love to share this story by giving away a kindle copy for another reader to enjoy.  That reader could be you! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway
I read this for Winter COYER 2015/2016 as I received my copy gratis for review.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

From Goodreads:

IT TAKES THE WISDOM OF YODA TO SURVIVE THE SIXTH GRADE

Meet Dwight, a sixth-grade oddball. Dwight does a lot of weird things, like wearing the same T-shirt for a month or telling people to call him "Captain Dwight." This is embarrassing, particularly for Tommy, who sits with him at lunch every day.

But Dwight does one cool thing. He makes origami. One day he makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. And that's when things get mysterious. Origami Yoda can predict the future and suggest the best way to deal with a tricky situation. His advice actually works, and soon most of the sixth grade is lining up with questions.

Tommy wants to know how Origami Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. Is Yoda tapping into the Force? It's crucial that Tommy figure out the mystery before he takes Yoda's advice about something VERY IMPORTANT that has to do with a girl.

This is Tommy's case file of his investigation into "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda."

I've been wanting to check this series out for awhile now, so when I saw the audio available at the library, I decided it was just the thing I needed. I was looking for a quick and fun listen, which it definitely was. The concept is hilarious, getting advice from an origami puppet of Yoda, with an apparent mind of his own. It's treated like a case file with interviews from all those who had an interaction with the puppet, trying to decide if there's something more there, if the puppet is special. That being said, I think it was written at a little bit younger of a level than I can truly enjoy any more, I just wasn't the kind of kid this speaks to, but it was a quick and enjoyable listen, as I'm sure it would also be to read. I'm not sure if I'll read more in the series, maybe some day if I'm again in need of a super fast and light listen. I love the covers and the titles, they are great!

Read for the 2016 Library Challenge

Saturday, February 06, 2016

My To Be Read List - February 2016 - Feeling Pretty



Welcome to my February 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: Feeling Pretty: these all have a dress on the cover, and I thought that was a good February theme.  Feel free to leave me a comment and tell me which you chose and why.

The poll will stay open through Friday 2/12 , and I'll update this post with the winning book on Saturday 2/13, then post a review on the 4th Saturday of the month, 2/27.

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:

(Sophie Katz #5) Overjoyed at Maryanne's engagement, amateur sleuth Sophie Katz can't wait for the wedding vows and party toasts to begin. But then Dena—best friend, bridesmaid and all-around vixen—is mysteriously shot just after the announcement. Leave this to the authorities? No way. Dena may never walk again, and Sophie vows to marry her fists with the shooter's face.

Problem is, the number of suspects is off the charts—from jaded lovers to anti-free-lovers to just plain old haters. Dena's made plenty of enemies thanks to her popular sex shop—and, yes, she's no saint—but really, who deserves to be shot?

With an ├╝berlogical almost boyfriend condemning her vigilante quest, and a wedding planner going vicariously bridezilla over the dream princess wedding, Sophie's barely thinking straight. But if she can keep her cool (and avoid all errant taffeta), she just might nab her man and save the (wedding) day.

Big if.
From Goodreads:

Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they?

When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie—a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance—mysteriously appears, she has one request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, because Sadie cannot rest without it.

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from and about each other. Written with all the irrepressible charm and humor that have made Sophie Kinsella’s books beloved by millions, Twenties Girl is also a deeply moving testament to the transcendent bonds of friendship and family. 
From Goodreads:

Heather Wells Rocks!

Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two — and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather's perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York's top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather's residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen — not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives — even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective!

But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong . . .


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Friday, February 05, 2016

Claus: Legend of the Fat Man by Tony Bertauski

From Goodreads:

Some legends are forged in fire.
Others are born in snow.

In the early 1800s, Nicholas, Jessica and Jon Santa attempt the first human trek to the North Pole and stumble upon an ancient race of people left over from the Ice Age. They are short, fat and hairy. They slide across the ice on scaly soles and carve their homes in the ice that floats on the Arctic Ocean.

The elven are adapted to life in the extreme cold.

They are as wise as they are ancient. Their scientific advancements have yielded great inventions -- time-stopping devices and gravitational spheres that build living snowmen and genetically-modified reindeer that leap great distances. They’ve even unlocked the secrets to aging. For 40,000 years, they have lived in peace.

Until now.

An elven known as The Cold One has divided his people. He’s tired of their seclusion and wants to conquer the world. Only one elven stands between The Cold One and total chaos. He’s white-bearded and red-coated. The Santa family will help him stop The Cold One.

They will come to the aid of a legendary elven known as… Claus.

I know, it's a little late, or early, to be reviewing a holiday book, but I'm FINALLY getting around to writing it up!

I have mixed feelings on this one. I had friends who rated it highly, so maybe that made my expectations too great going in. You don't really get very many holiday fantasy reads, and that is how I would classify this, so that is a point in it's favor. I did like the Reindeer and Frosty, and the manifestation of traditional Christmas ideas into an almost sci-fi setting. Even though it took place here on earth, the technology level of the elven far surpassed the humans, as you can tell just from the blurb above. The plot was fine, I think what I really didn't like was Jack. I know he had to be awful, that was his role in the story, but his constant yelling and childish desires with a ruler's power behind them were annoying, even though I realize that was the point. He was a child throwing a continuous tantrum and it was tiring to me. Now, he does have a plausible reason for being the way he is, but I wonder if we didn't start getting into that too late for me, because I was already done with him by then. He was just too over the top.

I do recommend it if you're looking for some holiday reading, especially fantasy, since most of what it is out there is romance and cozy mysteries. I'm not sure if I'll be continuing the series, we'll see if I'm in the mood around the holidays. I gave this one a 3/5.

This was my first read for the winter edition of COYER. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

From Goodreads:

The three laws of Robotics:

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey orders givein to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future--a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.

Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world--all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov's trademark.


Finally! I have read I, Robot, as well as it being my first book by Asimov! I had a hard time deciding what image to use above, as the one I listened to from the library was of course the newest cover from the movie starring Will Smith.  Here is another cover that I found on Wikipedia that says it is the first edition from 1950.



The book is very different from the movie, in fact the movie itself comes entirely, and with a lot of artistic license and expansion from only one of the short stories in the collection, Little Lost Robot.

Asimov is a giant in the science fiction genre, and while I've been aware of him most of my reading life, from at least junior high on, I've felt I should read some, but also steered away, fearing it would be too dry and not interesting to me.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  The collection of stories are set up as reminiscences by Dr. Susan Calvin, Chief Robopsychologist, as she is getting ready to retire from U.S. Robotics and Mechanical Men, and are all centered around times that robots have "gone wrong" or not behaved as expected.  Almost every time it comes down to a dilemma over how to interpret the first rule of robotics: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.  Often the robot's interpretation is different from our own, or extends farther than we intended because they are being logical and are not able to make distinctions in levels of harm, considering them all the same, which causes some very difficult situations.

Far from being dry however, there is plenty of humor and emotion in the stories, even the robots seem to exhibit feelings on occasion that we would not normally attribute to them.  There is also the fear that what we have created will take over, and sometimes they did.  A couple of recurring characters, Powell and Donovan, always get into tough spots as field testers.  One of my favorites was the robot that didn't believe they had put him together, and went on to form his own pseudo-religious order at the base, even after they showed him how they had put him together, he came up with explanations for it.  It's not unlike some of our own current dilemmas.

I enjoyed this collection very much, it's insightful and thoughtful, at the same time as being entertaining and I at least really felt for Susan Calvin, as we travel with her through her life and how it has been shaped by the robots, in one instance very painfully, and again because of an unforseen interpretation of the first law.  There is another book, I, Robot: To Protect by



Monday, January 25, 2016

Juding by the Cover #3 - Gene Mollica

I discovered Gene Mollica through a little series call The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. I love the story and I loved the covers! Gene really brought Atticus to life, so when I saw a drawing that I think Kevin Hearne shared to win some of the cover art, naturally I entered, following the artist, and looking around at some of his other work, which were covers of other things I had seen and was interested in reading, I recognized almost every cover in his website gallery!

I love Gene's people, they are ready to come off the page on the downswing of a sword or the landing of a jump,  and the backgrounds behind them are just full of color and movement.

Gene is very active on his facebook page, sharing works in progress, and his website is also beautifully done, you can view many probably familiar covers in their original form without the title printing over them, and also purchase signed prints. I'm really tempted to get myself an Atticus, the problem would be deciding which one!

 

   

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Kindred by Octavia Butler

From Goodreads:

The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.


"I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm."

Is that an opening hook or what? Of course you have to keep reading to find out how she lost her arm!  This is not a happy book, but it is an important one.  There is the sci-fi time traveling element,  but more striking to me was Dana's realization of how easy it was to accept the situation when trying to survive.  As she first finds herself thrown back in time, she is acting a part to survive, but then alarmingly begins to feel like the past is more home than her present.  There is the helplessness of slavery on several levels, the overall black slavery of the time period, her inability to control being jerked back into time, and that she has to keep helping this person who is growing to be such a detestable man, so that she can preserve her own timeline.  Such a daunting and terrifying prospect, being thrown back into that nightmarish time when everything that she is, black, independent and educated, is the exact worst combination of things for her to be to get along.

A definite recommend from me, and I will be looking forward to more of Octavia Butler's work.  Sadly we lost her in 2006, but as this was my first read by her, I have many more to catch up on.

This was my first read for the 2016 Reading Assignment Challenge #2016HW
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