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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Frightfall Read-a-thon - 9/30/13-10/6/13

I took September off from 'A-thon-ing' to give myself a little break, but now it's time to get revved back up! There are 4 read-a-thons I'd like to do in October and the first is Frightfall hosted by Michelle over on Seasons of Reading.


The Vision
by Heather Graham

Pretty When She Dies
by Rhiannon Frater

by Bram Stoker

I'm pretty sure I have scary covered!  This is a pretty lofty goal for me, it will require about 100 pages a day of reading and a little over 2 hours a day of listening, but when you're listening to Tim Curry and Alan Cumming I bet 2 hours is a breeze! ;)


Monday - Day 1 : I decided to go ahead and finish up listening to The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien today since I only had about 3 hours left.  Then I started in on Dracula and got about an hour in.  I think 4 hours of listening is a pretty respectable start!

Thursday - Day 4 : Work has not been cooperating with my reading, but I finally got to read at lunch today!  So far: 7:13 hours into Dracula, not quite halfway, 158 pages into The Vision, about a third done, and tonight I will start Pretty When She Dies since Fraterfest started today!

Wrap Up : I ended with about 2 hours left of Dracula, 100 pages of The Vision and at about 6% on Pretty When She Dies.  So I didn't finish anything, but I touched and almost finished all 3, plus finished up The Fellowship of the Ring. I'm going to count it a success, just because it kept me reading!

Thanks again to Michelle at Seasons of Reading for hosting!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

From Goodreads:

Half-human and half-Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other.

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave—although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul.

This was a fun read that I've been wanting to try for awhile having heard a lot of good things about it. I listed it for my seriously series challenge, and I was not disappointed!

Dragos is everything you would expect a wyr dragon to be, snarly, used to having his own way no questions ask, he says jump, everyone asks how high, after all he is the top of the food chain. Funny how it just took one little slip of a girl to lay him low after centuries. You would have thought he'd seen everything by then, but Pia came as a complete surprise to him and suddenly he was no longer bored. In fact life got very interesting and complicated really fast.

I'm a sucker for the big, bad, take-no-prisoners male brought down by the typically small, shy, quiet, unassuming, continue with a list of diminutive adjectives here female that's finally had enough and this fit that bill to a T.  Bigger than her Dragos might be but Pia was not going to take attitude from him without giving it back.  There is a variety of great characters in here that I immediately found myself hoping for future books on, and so I had to go read the blurbs on the rest of the series to see who had been included so far.  The world is interesting with our own reality and the parallel dimension.  There is humor, and great banter, and big hulking sexy wyr-critters that of course ALL fall for Pia and take complete leave of their senses, which makes them endearing, since it's fiction, thank goodness or they would be completely insufferable!

The big mystery is what is Pia?  I had a good laugh over that one and that's all I'm going to say! ;)

Dragon Bound was a great time and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

Thea Harrison's Website

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mr. Real by Carolyn Crane

From Goodreads:

He finds the girl of his dreams…with the secret agent of his nightmares.

Alix Gordon is a woman who doesn’t take life too seriously. What’s the fun in that? So when she stumbles across occult software that can bring any computer image to life, she conjures up lots of awesome outfits and accessories. And then, on one drunken, horny night, she conjures up Sir Kendall, the sexy TV ad spy . . . who looks exactly like Paul Reinhardt, the super-sexy martial arts teacher who kicked her out of class three years ago.

Fighter Paul Reinhardt has good reason to hate Sir Kendall, the character he brought to life to land a part in a TV ad; he’d do anything to forget him. A cross country road trip seems just the thing . . . until Paul finds himself inexplicably drawn to Minnesota and is shocked to discover Sir Kendall - in the flesh - with the girl he’d once loved from afar. He barges into Alix and Sir Kendall’s love nest, determined to stop the madness - somehow.

But is superspy Sir Kendall transforming into something more dangerous anyone can imagine? And what will Sir Kendall do when Paul and Alix finally give into their mad lust for each other?

Many of us created imaginary friends or fictional characters when we were younger who exhibit the things we cannot.  They might be smarter, stronger, prettier, more out-going, risk-takers, super heroes or evil villains, able to express themselves in ways that wouldn't be acceptable even if we could.  The facets of their personalities are probably exaggerated in that we're assuaging our own insecurities that we created them to combat.  I have such a character, his name is Jenner and he came into being during math class in junior high.  He's one odd duck, that's for sure.  In him is all of my helpless teen rage and sorrow, and I love him even now at 40 years old.  I always will.  He's the "me" I couldn't be, that could handle everything thrown at him with a casual disdain, no matter how much it might have hurt him inside, that "Do what you want, who cares?" expression in place all the while.  He's also a crazy risk-taker that as a shy introvert I was fascinated by but could never be.  Besides, most of those things were truly crazy and not something that I should have done anyway!  But he's fictional, so in addition to having a dozen different backstories, he could afford to do insane stuff because he wouldn't get hurt, much. ;)

So why did I feel the need to confess to you about my "imaginary friend" in what is supposed to be a review for Mr. Real?  Because I get this book, and it gets me.  I added it to my wishlist as soon as I knew about it for the author alone.  I had read part of Carolyn's Disillusionist series that gets me in a whole different way.  I identify with Justine from that series just a little too much during some of her introspective moments.  Mr. Real sounded completely different and like it would be a lot of fun, and it definitely lived up to that!  There's a little bit of everything, supernatural, secret agents, thwarted love that gets back on track,  a super villain, it's just action all around!

While I didn't click with Alix the same way I feel bonded to Justine, what I did feel for was Paul's coming to terms with his alter ego Sir Kendall.  It was a brilliant emotional piece of this story that really hit home to me.  While I've never been at odds with Jenner the way Paul despised Sir Kendall, I can still imagine how that might come to pass when all you want to do is cut that part of your life away but you can't escape after letting him into the real world through a commercial.  Paul is coming to terms with accepting himself and a painful part of his life, and the scene where that finally happens was powerful to me.

This is a super fun book and it has the interesting convolutions of plot that I have come to love and associate with Carolyn's writing.  It is by turns silly, thrilling and touching.  I highly recommend it the next time you're looking for an entertaining, humorous read with substance.  I'm definitely interested in more!

Carolyn Crane's Website

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WWW Wedenesdays 9/11/13

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

* What are you currently reading?
* What did you recently finish reading?
* What do you think you’ll read next?

Then head on over to Should be Reading and leave a comment with a link to your post so others can see! 

I was having a hard time sticking to anything last week, so this is two weeks worth of action. I think I may switch to just posting every other week, since I'm a lazy blogger. ;)

What I am currently reading:

What I have recently finished:

What I think is up next:

I can't wait to see what the rest of you have been up to! Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

From Goodreads:

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.

So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

I read the synopsis of Agent to the Stars a long time ago, before I had ever listened to any of Scalzi's books.  It was my first introduction to him, and my first impression was how ridiculous, I'll pass. I mean seriously, an alien race who communicates by smell, contracting with a movie agent to introduce them to the human race. Uh-huh. And so I remained unaware of Scalzi's genius for making the absurd wonderful for a few more years.

Enter Wil Wheaton, reading Red Shirts, and overnight I was a Scalzi/Wheaton fan, but I was still wary of Agent to the Stars. I mean, it sounds kind of bathroom humorish, doesn't it? That premise was just screaming, there will be fart jokes in this book! I stayed away from The Android's Dream for the same reason. I just really don't care for that kind of humor. So I thought, well, Red Shirts was awesome, and look, he's done a re-vamp of Little Fuzzy called Fuzzy Nation, I'll go there next. Fuzzy Nation was wonderful, again read by Wil and I said to myself, okay, how bad can the others really be, now that I'm more familiar with Scalzi's style. With Wil reading maybe it won't hurt too bad and so I picked up Agent and Android from Audible. I have now listened to all 4 of the stand alone novels, and while Red Shirts remains my favorite, Fuzzy Nation has the strongest message, and Android's Dream was good fun, as unlikely as Agent to the Stars sounded, I really enjoyed it. It has a previous history before the current version.  It was apparently Scalzi's starter novel back in the late 90's which he then revamped to modernize it.  This version has the benefit of Scalzi's experience, so it definitely does not read like a debut. There is also a full summary of the plot, so be careful not to spoil it for yourself if you follow my link.  I also found it still available for free here, though I'm not sure if this is the original version or if any updating has been done to it.  I'll have to give it a look sometime and see!

Tom is a great character who holds up remarkably well considering what he's being asked to do.  It was fun seeing him interact with his other "stars" as he's trying to realign them to take on the Yherajk, from the self-important and bitchy singing star, to the ditzy actress who wants so badly to play a dramatic role.  I really enjoyed the Yherajk aliens and their method of communicating, as much as I thought I wouldn't Scalzi's descriptions and scene creation when that comes into play are really fun.  There's a little bit of a message to us as well in the fact that rather than choosing to introduce themselves to the leaders of the world, they chose the US entertainment industry instead feeling that was a better route that would reach a bigger audience.  That definitely says something about us doesn't it?  The truth hurts sometimes.  I loved his assistant Miranda, and even Ralph the dog.  All are wonderful characters. 

Scalzi is a master at creating poignancy inside of humor, at developing characters that you care for even while you're laughing and cringing at the crazy situations they find themselves in.  Wil is a master at interpreting and delivering those emotions through his narration.  From now on the team of Scalzi/Wheaton is an automatic audiobook purchase for me because I know I will want to listen to all of these again. 

For more information on John Scalzi and his work, visit his website, and give his blog a read, it's fantastic too.  I'll definitely be checking out the Old Man's War series and possibly some of his non-fiction too, I just really love his style!

Monday, September 02, 2013

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

From Goodreads:

In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand -- and, if possible, answer -- the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves.

Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.

My first Bill Bryson book was a A Walk in the Woods that details his time on the Appalachian trail and I really enjoyed it. It was humorous and interesting and I was immediately a fan and interested in more. Not to mention I love the cover with the giant bear face staring out at you!  Unknowingly I had already gotten my Dad hooked on his writing through a couple of his others about language that I have yet to read.  So he's getting a copy of this one for his birthday, shhh... don't tell him internet, it's a surprise!  It's okay, I don't think he reads this!

Non-Fiction is very difficult for me to read no matter how interested in the subject I am it's a real struggle. Until I tried listening instead. I recently discovered that I can check out audiobooks online from one of our local libraries. I don't even have to go there, it's awesome! Not that I don't want to go there, but this is so convenient! A quick click and in a few minutes it was downloaded to my phone and I was listening.

A Short History of Nearly Everything was the first book I tried through the library and the first non-fiction that I listened to and I loved it! The reader was fantastic, his tone was the epitome of dry British humor, which lends itself perfectly  to the reading of science facts. The whirlwind tour through the history of science was hilarious and informative. Bryson truly touches on Nearly Everything in this book from the Big Bang and the birth of the universe to the smallest particle to modern day issues. He provides a quick overview of a person, discovery and history leading up to events, putting it into an easy to understand framework, and providing interesting facts and anecdotes about these famous scientists. I think that was my favorite part, the stories and personalities of the discoverers more than what their discoveries were. In our science and history books we learn who did what, but rarely anything personal about them. They are the paragons of the scientific world and I sort of imagine them all as marble statues, perfectly posed in a museum, looking off into the distance, noble expressions forever frozen on their faces with a brass placard enumerating their achievements. Bryson makes them human. They have quirks, they made mistakes, they were screw ups and crack pots and downright odd ducks and they were human. Just like the rest of us. Some of them were very nice people who never received credit for the advances they made. Some of them stole credit for things they didn't do. Some of them were just downright insane! But every one of them was a person with different traits who had ideas and were inquisitive and tried things.

This is a fantastic quick history of all of science, full of humor but with a serious message too. I think this man can write about any subject and make it fun and interesting.  For me the audio paired with Bryson's dry humor was perfect and this will go down as one of my best read/listens this year.  If you're like me and you have trouble with Non-Fiction even though you're interested in it, give Bill Bryson a try!

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