Saturday, December 22, 2012

In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran: A Memoir by John Taylor

From Goodreads:

John Taylor, Duran Duran’s co-founder, takes the reader on a wild ride through his life. From the eighties through today, from Rio to All You Need is Now, John writes about the music, the parties, and the MTV videos that made millions swoon.

With Duran Duran, John Taylor has created some of the greatest music of our time. From the disco dazzle of debut single ‘Planet Earth’ right up to their latest number one album, All You Need is Now, Duran Duran has always had the power to sweep the world onto its feet.

It’s been a ride – and for John in particular, the ride has been wild, thrilling... and dangerous. Now, for the first time, he tells his incredible story. A tale of dreams fulfilled, lessons learned and demons conquered.

A shy only child, Nigel John Taylor wasn’t an obvious candidate for pop stardom and frenzied girl panic. But when he ditched his first name and picked up a bass guitar, everything changed. John Formed Duran Duran with his friend Nick Rhodes in the summer of 1978, and they were soon joined by Roger Taylor, then Andy Taylor and finally Simon Le Bon. Together they were an immediate, massive global success story, their pictures on millions of walls, every single a worldwide hit.

In his frank, compelling autobiography, John recounts the highs –hanging out with icons like Bowie, Warhol and even James Bond; dating Vogue models and driving fast cars – all the while playing hard with the band he loved. But there were tough battles ahead – troubles that brought him to the brink of self-destruction – before turning his life around.

Told with humor, honesty and hard-won wisdom, and packed with exclusive pictures, In the Pleasure Groove is a fascinating, irresistible portrait of a man who danced into the fire... and came through the other side.




I loved it!  Towards the end I was looking for excuses to run errands so I could finish listening to it, then when I did finish, I was very sad that it was over!  Duran Duran, especially John, were a huge part of my teenage experience, and this memoir by him, read by him, is very special to me.  It made him a much more real person, very different from the perfect rockstar god that nothing could touch.  While he was inspiring us to want to be just like him, he was living the nightmare of having gotten exactly what he set out to do, and all the things that came with it.  This is a very honest look at his life, yet very classy, he calls a spade a spade, but doesn't point fingers or dish secrets that weren't his to tell.  This made me feel so connected to him as a person, and I have even benefitted from one of his favorite lines received through rehab/therapy that was very pertinent in my life right now.  There were many things familiar, and also a lot I never knew but was very interested by, and he reads it very well.  I could go on much longer, but sometimes less is more, so I'll stop at I loved it, and I think any Duranie, especially those favoring John, should definitely give this a listen/read.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Holiday Read-a-thon Dec. 7-9, 2012


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It's time once again for the Holiday Read-a-thon, hosted by Liza over at WhoRuBlog. It's another opportunity to work on those challenge TBR's!

For my charity component, I will donate $5 per book I finish (added in to another donation I'm already making) to Worldbuilders which partners with Heifer International.

I'm in the midst of three books right now, so I'm going to keep working on those:


Friday, November 23, 2012

Random Reads: Fire Dance by Delle Jacobs

I've decided to start a new feature for myself, it won't have a regular schedule, but like all of us with the ability to read Kindle books, I have a TON of freebies and reduced price daily deals that I may not otherwise get to.  I hope to motivate myself to read some of them this way.  Please be aware that they may no longer be free or reduced price should you be interested in purchasing them.

Old Cover
New Cover
From Amazon:

A mysterious castle.
A deadly gift.
A missing, unwilling bride.
And a Norman knight determined to conquer all.

Ordered by his King to carry out a cryptic command—kill a wicked sorcerer lord, seize his castle, and take his daughter as a wife—Alain de Crency expects a fierce battle. Instead he discovers a defenseless castle, the daughter missing, and the sorcerer dead, shrouded in a magnificent purple cloak. With no knowledge of the evil lurking within it, Alain takes the cloak as his own before investigating the whereabouts of his supposed betrothed.

Upon Alain’s arrival, Melisande, the sorcerer’s daughter who begrudgingly learned her father’s sinister trade, hides in plain sight as a servant. But Alain suspects this beautiful blonde knows more than she claims, and he resolves to uncover the truth—if he can resist his burning desire for her.

Soon Melisande realizes her father’s infernal magic reaches beyond the grave—and that only Alain can save her people from the menacing evil. But with Alain’s new cloak dyed in poison, can Melisande save her people’s savior without revealing her dark secrets to the man who’s captured her heart? 



Fire Dance was a freebie on Amazon when I picked it up with the old cover above, it's since gotten a facelift and is currently priced at $2.99.

Overall this was an enjoyable historical romance taking place in the England of 1092, when Norman and Saxon hostilities were high.  The author has created characters that I genuinely liked from Alain and his men to Melisande and the knights who were loyal and protective of her, to Rufus, who reminded me of a jovial Henry VIII, without all the wife trouble.  The only part I really didn't care for, or would have liked to see a little tighter and more filled out was that of Melisande's father. We get very little of that in the beginning, only Melisande's fears that if anyone knew the truth they would kill her, and that her father was the Spawn of Satan, in his own words.  I think more of that storyline earlier on would have helped make that aspect of the story more believable.  I really never got the evil sorcerer bit until later on, and the spawn of Satan part was a little silly to me.  However, I'm willing to concede that in 1092, when there was no huge paranormal romance genre, this was probably the scariest thing those people could have heard.

My rating for this would be 3/5, I did like it, there was action and romance, likeable characters, and an interesting storyline.  I found myself wanting to read it, rather than feeling like I had to get through it, and that's always a good sign! ;)

Delle Jacobs Website

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Giveaway: US Kindle Copy of SEAL of My Dreams Romance Anthology

From Amazon:

Honor, duty, courage, passion . . . the men of the Navy SEALs are a special breed of hero, and in these novellas by eighteen top romance authors the SEALs are celebrated not only as symbols of devoted service to their country but as the kind of men every woman wants to love. They’ll rescue a damsel in distress and her lap dog, too. They’ll battle hometown dramas and international bad guys. When it comes to giving away their hearts, they’ll risk everything.

All proceeds from sales of SEAL of My Dreams go to the Veterans Research Corporation, a non-profit fundraiser for veterans’ medical research.

Between them, the authors of SEAL of My Dreams have won dozens of writing awards including multiple RITAs from Romance Writers of America. Their nearly 600 published novels have sold at least 35 million copies worldwide. The SEAL of My Dreams roster includes many of the best-known authors in modern romance fiction. In addition, many have strong family connections to the servicemen and women of our nation’s military, and many specialize in novels featuring heroes and heroines from all branches of service.

I am usually a Fantasy and Sci-fi, Paranormal, Urban, etc. girl in my reading habits, but every once in awhile I'm just in the mood for something that features our heroic military men. I picked this up when it was a Kindle Daily Deal, I admit, partially because of the cover, and because I knew that military mood would hit me again sometime and a bunch of short stories seemed perfect! I also liked the fact that the proceeds go towards veterans medical research. My husband is an Air Force veteran, so I feel strongly about it.

These were wonderful! There are a ton of stories in there, and you just want to hug every single one of the SEALS inside! I admit I got teary eyed a few times. On the whole, these were exactly what I was in the mood for.

I would love to give a copy away in honor of Veteran's Day, coming up in the next week. I will leave this open through Midnight EST on 11/22, please comment and let me know what you are thankful for. Big or small, doesn't matter, just something you're thankful for. Please remember to leave me an e-mail to contact you!

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Random Read-a-thon Oct. 19 - 23, 2012

Random Read-a-thon hosted by My Shelf Confessions
 
YES! A spur of the moment random read-a-thon! Of course I'm in, because one, it's a read-a-thon, and two, I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked for Dewey's last weekend because things came up, and three, well, it's a read-a-thon! If you'd like to join us in doing this random bout of reading goodness, head on over to My Shelf Confessions and sign up! It's super informal, so come along!

Goal:

400 pages

Books I'm working on:


Starting Page: 60
Pages Read: 333
Finished: 10/21/12

Starting Page: 226
Finished: no

Start: 29%
Ended: 67% 
Finished: no


Score: 
 
I made it to about 385 pages I think, because I was a loser tonight and got sucked into the Halloween events on my favorite computer game Guild Wars 2. :D But I basically did it, I could have! I was THIS close!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-thon October 2012 Edition

Good morning, afternoon, evening or dead of night to you, wherever you are! It's time again for Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon!

This will be my 6th Dewey's Read-a-thon, it's hard to believe, and while my excitement is tempered now by familiarity, I'm still looking forward to it and ready to go!  I've tried a bunch of different methods of tracking, this time I think I'll keep updating one post with my progress and add comments to the end throughout the day.

I'm sitting out on cheering this time around because I've had several things pop up during the day that I must do, so instead I've donated a prize for the first time, a trilogy of books that I think are perfect for a read-a-thon, and I can't wait to see who chooses them!

I do have a giveaway going on for The City's Son by Tom Pollock, teen urban fantasy, 1 US Kindle copy so please have a look!

I'm going to work on reading some short stories in series that I like, also some kids books that I want to move along through wild release at Bookcrossing.  I don't have a particular goal, I'm just going to read as much as I can amongst my errands and projects for the day!  Good luck to everyone taking part, and if you aren't, why not?!  Join us!  You know you want to!

Here is my TBR Pool for the day:


Pages:18
Finished: 12:15 AM

Pages:
Finished:

Pages:28
Finished: 2:30 PM

Pages:
Finished:

Pages:
Finished:

Pages:105
Finished: 8:30 AM

Pages:
Finished:

Pages:152
Finished: 11:19 PM

Pages:
Finished:

Pages:155
Finished:  Nope!

Pages:
Finished:

Pages:
Finished:


8:30 AM: 1 book down and the Introductory Meme

I just finished my first book, Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman, a super fast little fantasy about two girls who discover a mermaid on their last summer together before one of them moves away.  It's a dreary day here, so perfect for reading!


1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Kansas
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Not sure yet, I haven't planned them out, but I'm hoping for some decadent dessert, we'll see!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I like waterlilies, so I've started keeping them in giant pottery pots on my patio in the summers, with shubunkin's (koi-looking goldfish) in their to keep the buggies at bay.  Makes for nice patio scenery while reading!  I know, kind of strange, but I was looking for something more interesting than "I like cats, and I like to read!" LOL!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  I think this is my 6th actually, and I'm trying putting all updates in one post, we'll see how that goes.  There's no way I can actually stay up for 24 hours anymore and still be functional, so the last couple read-a-thons I've started going to bed when I get tired, and making sure I get up a few hours before the end, it's worked pretty well, I love being there as the finish line arrives!

And now I'm staring in on Midnight Alley, but since it's the longest of the books I've set aside today, I'll probably work on it throughout, and read other things as breaks in the middle!  See you later!

10:30 AM: Read-a-thon on the run

Time for the running around, not much read in Midnight Alley yet, but it's going with me of course!


3:30 PM: Still Read-a-thon-ing on the run

I finished up Curran POV #1 while walking through CostCo! I'm about 60 pages into Midnight Alley, and also started on Wild & Steamy on my phone since it will be too dark to read in the car soon (as we are still running around).  I hope to be able to catch up on reading and do some visits later tonight.  I'm not getting as much reading done as I'd like, but I'm trying!  Hope everyone is having a good day so far!

9:30 PM: Ready to get busy and the Mid-Event Survey!

I've a got a fresh Salted Caramel Mocha in front of me and I'm settled in and ready to read!  Think I'll pick up a quick looking one to get back in the groove, Haunted Waters by Mary Pope Osborne looks like a good choice. 

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired? With a fresh coffee I hope to be awake for awhile, haven't had a chance to read as much as I'd like today!
2) What have you finished reading? So far only Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman and the first Curran POV by Gordan Andrews
3) What is your favorite read so far? Curran POV #1, and Midnight Alley that I'm working on now.
4) What about your favorite snacks?  Apparently coffee, since this is my second one today!
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!  Sadly I haven't had much time to visit anyone this time around, I hope to do that soon!  But if you read this, my friend Noumena is willing to pay some money to charity for the books WE read as well if you sign up on her registration form!  Check it out!

11:30 PM: Finished my second book and the Challenge Your Brain While Reading Challenge

I just finished Haunted Waters which was an eerie little story based on a German fairy tale.  Perfect for an October read-a-thon!

My Seryniti has a challenge for us with two parts:

1. Choose a challenging book outside your normal tastes (I'm paraphrasing here): Biographies/memoirs are pretty far out of my normal taste range, but there is one that I'd like to get a hold of, it is In the Pleasure Groove by John Taylor, the bass player for Duran Duran, one of my favorite bands of all time from when I really started discovering popular music.

2. Share any words that are unfamiliar to you that you come across in the read-a-thon, and share any of your favorite words.  Well, I haven't really come across any unfamiliar words so far, but I'll share some that I like from today:

Piscine: Of, relating to, or characteristic of a fish or fishes. (Haunted Waters)
Prestidigitation: Performance of or skill in performing magic or conjuring tricks with the hands; sleight of hand. (I thought I saw this in Midnight Alley, but can't find it again!)

which led me to this one that I didn't know what it meant until now:
Legerdemain: Sleight of hand.

2:00 AM: Book Sentence Challenge

I've never done one of these before because nothing ever struck me, but I'm kind of proud of this one!


A Book Dragon Ain't Myth-Behaving Playing with Fire!


3:00 AM: I'm out!  See you next time!

I've decided that sleep is the better part of valor, and that there's no way I'm going to get my current book finished soon.  Good Luck to anyone who is still awake and reading!  I managed about 458 pages, not bad considering how much time I was out and about today.  Thank you to the hostesses and the cheerleaders and all the other read-a-thoners for make this such a fun and connected event!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Giveaway: The City's Son by Tom Pollock

From Amazon:

Running from her traitorous best friend and her estranged father, graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Filius, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld. Filius opens Beth’s eyes to the city she’s never truly seen—where vast spiders crawl telephone wires seeking voices to steal, railwraiths escape their tethers, and statues conceal an ancient priesthood robed in bronze.

But it all teeters on the brink of destruction. Amid rumors that Filius’s goddess mother will soon return from her 15-year exile, Reach, a malign god of urban decay, wants the young prince dead. Helping Filius raise an alleyway army to reclaim his skyscraper throne, Beth soon forgets her old life. But when her best friend is captured, Beth must choose between this wondrous existence and the life she left behind.

I received my copy of The City's Son from Ann Aguirre, another author whom I greatly admire who was so impressed with this book that she wanted to share it. Any time an author that I'm a fan of is excited about another book, I want to check it out. I figure if I enjoy their writing, I'm definitely interested in what they enjoy. I was not disappointed!

I've read quite a few books in the Urban Fantasy genre now, but this one actually puts the urban in the fantasy!  I loved how Pollock creates living creatures out of every day inanimate objects and machines, the streetlamps, spiders that run the telephone wires, the living statues, and the railwraiths, even Reach's minions, who are frightening in their mindless devotion to bring him to life.  The dialogue is fun and sarcastic, but underlying that is a dark and desperate story with a bittersweet ending.

Filius is an anomaly to this world, with his concrete grey skin but otherwise human features, he is unlike any of the creatures who belong to his goddess mother, Mater Viae.  Beth is artistic, brave and daring, though often rash, she takes to Filius and his fantastical London right away, jumping in to ally herself to his cause.  There are many other wonderfully done characters throughout, and I am totally on board for the next book, The Glass Republic which features Beth's best friend Pen, who is far from traitorous here, and who sacrifices so much for her friend.

This story is so imaginative and interesting, I don't think I'll ever look at a streetlight or a construction crane without thinking about it!  Check out Tom Pollock's Website.

Giveaway:

Since I received my copy as a giveaway from Ann Aguirre on Twitter, I'd like to pay it forward and offer it up for someone else to enjoy as well!  This is for 1 US Kindle Copy of The City's Son, so please make sure you are able to accept that format before entering, and make sure to leave me a way to contact you!  This giveaway will stay open through Midnight Oct. 31st Eastern time, and it's my first time using Rafflecopter so I'm keeping fingers crossed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Frightfall and Fraterfest Read-a-thons Oct. 1-8

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There are two read-a-thons this week I can do! *waves arms around wildly in celebration*

The first one, running from Oct. 1 through 7 is the Frightfall Read-a-thon hosted by Michelle @ Seasons of Reading, the second is the Fraterfest Read-a-thon taking place Oct. 5 through 8, featuring author Rhiannon Frater, hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. You don't have to read books by Rhiannon Frater, that's just what the hostess has decided to do. They look good, so I'll be checking them out for the future.  Click on the pictures above to be taken to the sign up pages for these read-a-thons.

I will keep track of my reading in this post.  I haven't tried keeping track of 2 read-a-thon's at the same time before, so we'll see how that goes!

Goals:

Frightfall:  600 pages
Fraterfest: 350 pages
Total: 700 pages approx. 87 pages per day (because they overlap)

Books:


Starting Page: 148
Currently at: 293
Total Pages: 145
Finished: 10/01/12

FFall Starting Page: 62
FFest Starting Page: 159
Currently at: 175
Total Pages: 113
Finished: nope

FFall Starting Page: 64
FFest Starting Page: 110
Currently at: 380
Totage Pages: 316
Finished: nope


Totals:

Frightfall: 479 = 80%
Fraterfest: 270  = 77%
Total: 574 = 82%

Looks like I managed about 82% of my total goal, so, a B-?  I'll still take it!

Thank you to the hostesses, and I'll see you again next time!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Beyond Varallan by S. L. Viehl

From Goodreads:

Dr. Cherijo is living the perfect life--if you think that finding out you're a clone, then being declared "non-sentient" by your father/creator is your idea of perfect. Things could be worse. But when the Human League comes after her, with bounty hunters of every race trying to bring her in, Cherijo figures it can't get any worse...

Until someone begins stalking her dreams.


This little blurb does not do this story justice. This is the second book in the Star Doc series of which there are 10 books. It is a wonderful cross of space opera, ER drama and murder mystery all rolled into one.

Cherijo is a fantastic character, she's just a spitfire that isn't going to take anything off of anyone. First and foremost she is a healer, but she's going to give as good as she gets, and sometimes better! The secondary characters are all well done too. Most of the time Cherijo is surrounded by aliens, and Viehl does a wonderful job of reminding you what their characteristics are as part of their actions, so it's not just descriptions, but you can truly picture their movements and personalities. I especially like the development of the relationship between Cherijo and the resident Squilyp, who is about as alien as you can get, yet still a character we can relate to and feel for.

I mention that it's like an ER drama, the story is packed with medical references. I'm not sure how real they are, but the author does have a background in the medical trauma field, from her author's note. Far from being a detractor, I feel like they really help make Cherijo and the procedures she's performing more real, and give her credibility. There is so much action here, so many twists and turns where one minute things are looking up only to nose dive deeper into trouble than before. This episode ended completely unexpectedly to me, and my heart just plummeted for her at how things stand. Surely there has to be another turn for the better! But for that I will have to read the next book!

S. L. Viehl is also Lynn Viehl, of the Paranormal Darkyn series, also featuring a main character in the medical profession in the first book, who is a recurring character through the series. I highly recommend both Star Doc, and the Darkyn, and I'm so glad I have many more Viehl books to read!

Please visit Viehl's blog Paperback Writer to learn more about the author and her work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Redshirts by John Scalzi

From Goodreads:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.


This was my first sampling of John Scalzi's work, and it was excellent! It was funny and convoluted and action packed, and also emotional. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton (yep, this is the one I was referring to in my last review) and once again I was completely hooked by his reading of a fantastic story. I laughed, I cried, I loved it!

I am a casual Star Trek fan. While I enjoy it, I've never been to an ST convention, I haven't seen every episode, or even all the movies yet, but I am well acquainted with the Redshirt principle.  The main story here is a hilarious yet terror filled sci-fi romp where all the crew live in fear of the next away mission being their last.  They hide when the officers come around, leaving only the newest crew members out in the open, and sadly the victims of being sent on the away teams.  They avoid certain decks of the ship, because those are ALWAYS the ones that get hit.  They are able to come up with miraculous solutions to problems that even they don't understand.  It's over the top drama and goofiness, and the officers are completely unaware that anything is wrong.  But the newest crew members of the Intrepid are not as complacent as the previous crew, who are mostly concerned with making sure that it isn't their turn to die.

While the story is hysterical, and Wil Wheaton's animated reading adds depth to the humor, this story is much more than that.  I'm not kidding when I said I cried.  The codas after the main story are not just afterthoughts or quick flashes of "where are they now", they demonstrate the moral of the story, which is to be responsible for own destiny, to stop waiting around for things to happen to you, and to make something of your life.

This was fast, fun and completely engaging, and I am so looking forward to listening to another Scalzi/Wheaton partnership.

John Scalzi's Website

Wil Wheaton's Blog which currently has a hysterical post parodying political ads, featuring Mr. John Scalzi! You have to check it out!  Evil Cat-bacon-taper!




Monday, September 24, 2012

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

From Goodreads:

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?


This book is SO MUCH FUN! I am a child of the 80's, and this story is jam packed full of pop culture references from that time period it's just overwhelming, and wonderful!  I listened to the audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton, the first time I had heard him read, and it was fantastic!  In fact I immediately had to go see what else he'd narrated and found one which I'm listening to right now, also huge fun, but let's get back to Ready Player One and save that one for a future review!

As told in the blurb above, the story takes place during a contest to solve puzzles within the game in order to win Halliday's fortune.  What I didn't know until after I'd finished it, is that Cline had actually hidden a real life contest within the book, and the prize would be a DeLorean, one of the ultimate 80's pop culture icons, made popular by the Back to the Future movies staring Michael J. Fox.  Alas, the prize has already been awarded, not that I would have been able to win anyway as it required setting a new world record on vintage video games that I've heard of, but not ever played, in spite of being an 80's teen.  I still think it's really cool that he offered the prize, as if the story itself wasn't enough fun!

The characters were great, I really sympathized with Wade and his plight, and his friends, and what a serious predicament they find themselves in.  While much of the story takes place in the game itself, there is still plenty of action and solid world building outside of that.  There are also twists and surprises, and a very satisfying dose of sticking-it-to-the-man!  Everyone loves sticking-it-to-the-man, right?

This is a great story, and Wil Wheaton's narrative really brought it alive for me. I highly recommend this Sci-Fi romp through 80's pop culture, and you don't have to be a current computer game enthusiast to follow along, the basic structure of the OASIS is well explained.

There is a great rundown of all the references used on Wikipedia - Ready Player One.  Also check out Ernest Cline's Website for more information, in a fun old Atari game format!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Magical Cats Mysteries by Sofie Kelly



From Goodreads:

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (Magical Cats Mystery #1)

When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen's fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there's something more to these felines.

When murder interrupts Mayville's Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are magical-and she's relying on their skills to solve a purr-fect murder.


Sleight of Paw (Magical Cats Mystery #2)

Small-town librarian Kathleen Paulson never wanted to be the crazy cat lady. But after Owen and Hercules followed her home, she realized her mind wasn't playing tricks on her-her cats have magical abilities.

When the body of elderly do-gooder Agatha Shepherd is found near Kath's favorite local café, she knows Owen's talent for turning invisible and Hercules's ability to walk through walls will give the felines access to clues Kath couldn't get without arousing suspicion. Someone is hiding some dark secrets-and it will take a bit of furtive investigating to catch the cold-hearted killer.


Have you noticed how it seems like every other cozy mystery has a cat on the cover? Wouldn't that lead you to believe that somehow a cat is involved in the mystery? Yeah, me too, yet a lot of times that isn't the case. That's why it's refreshing to find a mystery series where there are cats on the cover AND they actually figure prominently in the story! It's a pet peeve of mine, pun intended. If there's a cat on the cover, I want a cat in the story.

Not only do The Magical Cats Mysteries have felines deeply involved in solving the murders, but the cats themselves are an ongoing enigma that Kathleen is startled by, but seems to readily accept, though she keeps it quiet.  Owen and Hercules adopted her and they have some pretty special abilities that come in real handy for mystery solving!  They have definite personalities, it seemed like Hercules is more the brain of the two, while Owen is the brawn, though they do confer with each other and sometimes band against Kathleen to steer her in the right direction. They each have their strengths, and addictions (poor Fred the Funky Chicken, and all his cousins also named Fred).

We meet and get to know many of the town's residents, from Roma the Vet to Marcus the police detective, and we know there is something strange going on out at Wisteria Hill where our furry heroes came from, but we haven't yet found out what that is. I hope we learn more soon!  I found these very endearing and look forward to the next two books, Copycat Killing which came out in May this year, and Cat Trick which will come out in February 2013.

I have my own tuxedo cat, Fergus, but I haven't noticed that he's got any special powers yet, unless you count being annoying at 5 am when he's hungry! ;)

For more information please visit Sofie's Website

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire #1) by Clay and Susan Griffith

From Goodreads:

Vampire predators run wild in this exciting steampunk adventure, the first in an alternate history trilogy that is already attracting attention. In 1870, monsters rise up and conquer the northern lands, As great cities are swallowed up by carnage and disease, landowners and other elite flee south to escape their blood-thirsty wrath.

One hundred fifty years later, the great divide still exists; fangs on one side of the border, worried defenders on the other. This fragile equilibrium is threatened, then crumbles after a single young princess becomes almost hopelessly lost in the hostile territory. At first, she has only one defender—a mysterious Greyfriar who roams freely in dangerous vampire regions.

I love Greyfriar! I can't say much without spoiling it if you haven't read it, but he is such a lovable, complex character. There were so many moments that just made my heart ache for him, where I wanted to just hug him! He so badly wishes his life was different, and there were just so many touching quirks about him that speak to my own interests. He's world-weary in some ways yet innocent and naive in others, having had very little to base his knowledge on, his perception is skewed but also more far-sighted than his family. He wants to be more than what he is, and his attempts at that are poignant.  I did enjoy the other characters, Adele and her brother, Colonel Anhalt, even Clark the American war hero, though annoying was larger than life and easy picture. 

The world that has been created is interesting, there is a stark contrast between the humans and the vampires.  The human world is colorful and mechanical, with airships and palaces, while the vampires, though considering themselves the superior race, live violently in dark cold castles they've taken over, feeding from  subjugated human cattle, and scorning things such as reading and writing, believing it is beneath them.

I really like this story, there are some mysteries I'm interested in find out more about, other factions that seem to have a vested interest in what happens, but who's motivation and agenda we're not sure of yet.  I highly recommend The Greyfriar and I'll definitely be reading on!  Next in the trilogy is Riftwalker, and it concludes with The Kingmakers which just came out a couple weeks ago.

You can visit Clay and Susan at their Website and also follow them on Twitter: @clayandsusan 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Double Cross by Carolyn Crane

Synopsis from Goodreads:

SOME SECRETS
COME BACK TO HAUNT.
OTHERS COME TO KILL.

Justine Jones lived her life as a fearful hypochondriac until she was lured into the web of a mysterious mastermind named Packard, who gifts her with extraordinary mental powers - dooming her to fight Midcity's shadowy war on paranormal crime in order to find the peace she so desperately craves.

But now serial killers with unheard-of skills are terrorizing the most powerful beings in Midcity, including mastermind Packard and his oldest friend and worst enemy, Midcity's new mayor, who has the ability to bend matter itself to his will.

As the body count grows, Justine faces a crisis of conscience as she tests the limits of her new powers and faces an impossible choice between two flawed but brilliant men - one on a journey of redemption, the other descending into a pit of moral depravity.

Double Cross is the second book of Carolyn Crane's Disillusionist Trilogy. I love this series because it is such a different spin on the idea of having special powers, where a character's greatest issues become their strength.  The Disillusionists are a band of messed up individuals, but Packard has put them together into an elite strike force that are currently working on "rebooting" criminals around Midcity to help the mayor, Otto, relieve the burden of keeping them imprisoned with his mind.

I have to admit, when I read the synopsis before cracking open the book, I had decided who was trying to be redeemed, and who was getting more depraved.  I was 100% wrong, and that's part of what I love about this story, it is packed full of shockers!  We learn a lot more of the history between Otto and Packard, and are torn with Justine as she tries to understand her feelings about them.  Along with the Mind Games that are played (yup, that's the first book!) there is plenty of action to go around, and just when you think you know how something is going to go, there's a fab twist out of left field.  The ending was especially a surprise to me and I can't wait to get into the third book Head Rush to see how that plays out!

I am not a hypochondriac, but there are so many times that I completely identify with something that Justine is thinking that I begin to wonder about myself!  Shelby is so grim, but lovable, I can picture her perfectly with her accent, spreading her doom and gloom.  Simon is easy to imagine too (I need to read his novella Devil's Luck), flamboyant and reckless, and of course Packard, charismatic and smug, playing all the angles to stay in control, but with his own code of honor.

If you're looking for a different urban fantasy that doesn't have vampires, werewolves or zombies, give The Disillusionists a try, I think you'll enjoy them! (I thought about it for awhile, and while there aren't actual zombies in this one, there are a couple of sleepwalkers that might count, but still!)


You can visit Carolyn at her website and also follow her on Twitter @CarolynCrane .

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Giveaway - Destiny Binds by Tammy Blackwell

Synopsis from Amazon:

Scout Donovan is a girl who believes in rules, logic, and her lifelong love of Charlie Hagan. Alex Cole believes in destiny, magic, and Scout. When Alex introduces Scout to the world of Shifters, men who change into wolves or coyotes during the full moon and Seers, women who can see your most private thoughts and emotions with a mere touch, the knowledge changes everything and everyone Scout thought she knew.

I read Destiny Binds this past weekend for the Indie Read-A-Thon I took part in.  I'm still pretty wary of self-published works, and rely on the recommendation of friends and the ratings of Goodreads to help me out.  This one has high ratings there, and I was not disappointed!

Of course it was the idea of Shifters that drew me, and I really like the eerie night time forest cover.  The story is told in first person by Scout, the main character, who I was really able to connect with and feel for.  The secondary characters are well done too, and I found myself torn for Scout between love interests because I liked both of them, for different reasons.  Alex is intelligent and sweet, and can really engage Scout's intellect, but Charlie is funny, and someone she's held a lifelong affection for.  Many of the exchanges are enjoyably sarcastic, which is a tone I love in reading.  I will say reader beware, the ending is a bit harsh, but I'm not convinced yet on what happened.  Luckily, there is a second book, Time Mends and as of  today, a third, Fate Succumbs!

Giveaway: I would love to share this with some people, so I am going to give away 5 Kindle copies to randomly chosen winners who comment on this post, and tell me what you're reading right now, I would love to learn about some other great self/Indie published novels if you know of any.  You must be able to accept US Kindle books to enter.  I will leave this contest open until September 30th, please be sure to leave me a way to contact you.

Also, if you don't want to wait, the Kindle Edition of Destiny Binds is only .99 on AmazonIt is now at it's regular price of $2.99 so you could start reading it right now!

You can check out Tammy's blog Miss Tammy Writes or follow her on Twitter using @Miss_Tammy

Winners so far:

Carole -- need to get e-mail address
Jezebelsk -- Sent!
Michelle -- Already receiving from me on another website
Book Savvy Babe -- Sent!



Sunday, September 09, 2012

Fated by Alyson Noel

I received my copy of Fated (Soul Seekers #1) by Alyson Noel through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. I was attracted to this one for a couple of reasons, first I had already read and enjoyed Evermore (the Immortals #1) by the same author, and I was intrigued by the Native American mythology aspect of the story.

Daire Santos is 16 and has started experiencing disturbing visions that are becoming more and more frightening and extreme.  Finally after one of these visions leads to a violent breakdown, they can no longer be ignored.  In desperation, her mother arranges for Daire to live with a grandmother the girl has never met, hoping that the old woman will be able to help her, giving her a stable environment instead of the transient existence of traveling from movie set to set for her job.

Enchantment, New Mexico is anything but enchanting, and at first Daire feels abandoned and alone, as her attempts at leading a normal life going to high school fail as she becomes a target for the popular crowd.  Her grandmother is able to help her understand and control her visions, once Daire stops fighting against them and accepts her calling as a Soul Seeker who can travel between the worlds of the living and the dead. She also meets Dace, literally the boy of her dreams, but unfortunately his brother is his polar opposite, and Daire's enemy in the much deeper world she has come to know.

I enjoyed this one, I liked Daire and Dace (I seem to like D names a lot), the spirit animal guides, and her time in the cave learning about her ancestors.  Also Daire's difficulty with her spirit animal, like a teacher you think should be good, but seems to have a perverse torturous streak until you finally understand what they're trying to tell you.  I would like to see what challenges are in store for Daire, since I'm sure she hasn't seen the last of her nemesis Cade and his family.

There are 3 more books to come in the series, Echo, Mystic and Horizon.  For more information on the author and her work, check out her website alysonnoel.com

Reading Challenge Check-In

With not quite 4 months left in the year, let's see how I'm doing on all of my reading challenges... I'm thinking not so good, even with my need to join as many read-a-thon's as I can!

0-24% complete
25-49% complete
50-74% complete
75-99% complete
100% Complete and then some!

Unbreaking the Shelves - 0/22 - I'm focusing on Bookcrossing books received from others for this challenge.  I have not read anything yet for this one, but I'm donating 11 books to the library, and pulled others to wild release.  I did receive in 2 more BC Books this week, so I added 2 more to the TBR by EOY list.

Mount TBR Reading Challenge - 38/75 - A little over half, but with less than half the year to go, it's not looking good for this one, is it?

EBook Challenge - 12/25 - Yep, way behind on this one too!

Speculative Fiction Challenge - 8/24 - Are we sensing a theme of fail here? But wait! I just realized that audiobooks were allowed for this one, so that makes my total 19/24 if I add those in, woot! (Is that stretching it?)

Speculative Romance Challenge -  13/18 I actually reached  the first level goal of 12 for this one and went on to the next level!  I guess we can see where my true reading love lies, can't we?

Mystery and Suspense Challenge - 8/12 I'm not too far off on this one, I think I can do it!

BookObsessed "How Many in 2012" Challenge - 70/115 - I could still do this, but I need to get moving, at last calculation, I'm 12 books behind!  

How is everyone else doing on their challenges?


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Indie Read-a-thon Sept 7-9



I've joined in the Indie Read-a-thon hosted by Claire Reads and My Pathway to Books, because I'm a sucker for a read-a-thon, and because I don't get around to reading Indie books too much.  In fact, I wasn't just real sure what to look for.  I've found a few on my Kindle App that I think qualify, so I'll give those a go. 

There is no way I'll get through all of these, but this will give me a choice (and maybe some ideas to others if you're looking for something!):


Finished 9/9/12
page 222
Finished 9/7/12
105 pages
Good Luck to all the other read-a-thoner's!

Updates:
Day 1: 138 pages (although I think they must have been short ones!)
Day 2 :  76 pages
Day 3: 113 pages
Total pages: 327


Sunday, September 02, 2012

Unbreaking the Shelves - A Year End Reading Challenge

I've decided to join Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal in their Unbreaking the Shelves Reading Challenge.

 This a two part challenge:

Part 1: Actively organize, categorize, and otherwise be brutally realistic about the books you have in your TBR pile.

Part 2: Actively work on bringing that TBR pile down to something that isn't threatening you with bodily harm if you don't start reading it.

Now, my TBR pretty much comprises my entire house. I have bookcases in almost every room, in several rooms more than one and often stacked neatly on the floor as well, at least until the cats go on a rampage through the place which can cause a bit of shifting.  Furry little heathens with no respect for literature!  There is no way I could bring all of this to something manageable by the end of the year, so I'm going to pick one area, and that would be all of my Bookcrossing books that I have received from other people.  As the whole point of Bookcrossing is to share books with people, it's time for many of these books to move on, not languish on my shelves for years!

Here are the steps I will take:

1. Inventory the Bookcrossing bookcase for quantity in each genre:  done - Total 173
  • Mystery - 26
  • Teen - 17
  • Historical Fiction - 11
  • Romance - 18
  • Fantasy/Sci-Fi - 42
  • Paranormal Romance/Fantasy/Teen - 53
  • Other Fiction -6 

2.  Decide how many books of each genre to keep for reading, and give up the rest.  Either to other Bookcrossers, by wild release, or library donation. I think I'll say it has to be at least a 3.5 rating on Goodreads, or it goes, in general, of course there will be exceptions, there always are! done - Total 145 - gave up 28

  • Other Fiction - 0 (giving up 6)
  • Paranormal Romance/Fantasy/Teen - 45 (giving up 8)
  • Fantasy/Sci-Fi - 36 (giving up 6)
  • Teen - 17 (giving up 0)
  • Romance - 18 (giving up 0)
  • Mystery - 19 (giving up 7)
  • Historical Fiction - 10 (giving up 1)

3. Choose some from each genre to try and finish this year, and list them here. done - Total 20  I'll allow myself exchanges as long as they are Bookcrossing books, since I'm a mood reader. (also add to this list the same number of new that comes in, to keep the EOY at 125)

Mystery
  • Espresso Shot - Cleo Coyle 
  • Mulch - Ann Ripley 
  • The Alehouse Murders - Maureen Ash

Paranormal
  •  Blood Line - Tanya Huff
  • Ghost Walk - Heather Graham
  • Spells and Sleeping Bags - Sarah Mlynowski
  • Midnight Alley - Rachel Caine 
  • The Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness 
  • Firelight - Sophie Jordan (added 9/8/12)

Historical Fiction
  • Cloud of Sparrows - Takashi Matsuoka 
  • The Scarlet Lion - Elizabeth Chadwick
  • The Italian Woman - Jean Plaidy  Gave up on, will pass along       

Fantasy/Sci-Fi
  • Kindred - Octavia Butler
  • The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett
  • Beyond Varallan - S. L. Viehl - Currently reading
Teen
  • Life as We Knew it - Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
  • Welcome to the Ark -  Stephanie S. Tolan
Romance
  • Truly, Madly - Heather Webber
  • Free Fall - Jill Shalvis
  • This Calder Range - Janet Dailey 
  • Merry Christmas Baby Anthology - (added 9/8/12)


4. Goal - Beginning 173, culled 28, TBR Total 145, TBR by EOY 20, Final TBR at EOY 125

5. Track Bookcrossing books received after starting line and add TBR by EOY or cull additional to keep Final TBR at EOY at 125:
  • 9/8/12 - 2 books received.


It's still very hard to let go, even though I've identified probably at least 20 more of those that I've kept that I probably don't really need, like, the 5th of a series that I might have the first one of but none in between, but I don't know if I want to read it yet or not, etc.  Or a whole series that hasn't gotten very good ratings (per my 3.5 criteria) but that a friend really liked and gave me all of, so I feel obligated to read at least the first one to see how I feel about it before passing on the rest.  So I know there is more room to cut here (and I had honestly already started before this challenge, hence the couple of genres giving up 0) and I may do that later on.  It would likely be very liberating to just box up the whole lot and send them to another Bookcrosser (ahem, Elsi, ahem) but I'll start here and see how I do!  I must admit, seeing the 20 stacked up next to me is pretty daunting, I don't read as fast as I'd like to! I cannot even imagine doing this exercise for real on the rest of my books in the house.  It would take me months. *passes out*

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Labor Day Read-a-thon Aug 31 - Sept 1

Letters Inside Out button


I can't resist a read-a-thon anymore, so even though I'm going to be busy this weekend doing other things I still have to be in on it!  I'll make my goal laid back by not giving myself one at all, how's that for lazy?  Probably I'll just try to finish some of what I've already started.

Started at pg 114
Currently at pg 132
Started at 22%
Currently at 46%
Started at pg 53
Currently at pg 196

Updates:
Starting points updated!  Let the reading begin!

Day 1: 55 pages 
Day 2: 79 pages
Day 3: 71 pages
Day 4: 36 pages

Total Pages: 241 - About 60 pages per day.  I didn't get anything finished, but it shouldn't take me too long to wrap these up in the next week or so!
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