01. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 09/01/2014

There are certain series I love but really wish I hadn’t discovered until the entire series is out. Why? Because I want to devour them all in one sitting of course. After having read the first two books in this series I was disappointed to find out I am going to have to wait until next year to read the next one. Ugh!!

Murder of Crows picks up where Written in Red left off. The citizens of the Lakeside Courtyard have successfully fought off the mercenaries who were coming to kidnap Meg and young Sam and take them back to the Controller. So one problem has been solved, but the bigger issues still remain. There are still lots of places with tensions running high between the terra indigene and the humans. There are more instances where the drugs gone over wolf and feel good have caused havoc. And now there are reports of tainted meat causing the same kinds of problems the drugs did. For those who know where the drugs are coming from this is disturbing news. The humans don’t seem to realize how tenuous their place is in the world and how short their time might be if they keep pissing off the Others. Meg’s prophecies are dark indeed and the future doesn’t look very good for the human population. Simon and the rest of the Lakeside Courtyard are trying to solve the problems before they escalate past the point of no return. They are working closely with the local police to find solutions and peace. It is not escaping the notice of other Courtyards or terra indigene. They are on the hunt for the Controller and the cassandra sangue he is using to poison the world. 

I think I might have loved this book just as much as Written in Red. Anne Bishop does such a fantastic job of building the worlds she creates and making them come alive. She also does a fantastic job of creating characters you come to love and cheer for. I thought it was interesting that in this book, as in the last, the Others are not the bad guys. The bad guys are the humans. Sure the Others do terrible things, but they are not human and the reader isn’t expected to look at them through a human lens. They are other and for the most part think of humans as prey and meat. They tolerate humans because humans provide some of the things they enjoy, but they do not need humans and most of them never want to be around them. That is why I love the dynamic between the Lakeside Others and the humans who work with them. It is meant to show an ideal; it is an experiment to see if humans and Others can tolerate each other enough to live peacefully. It makes for thrilling storytelling. 

01. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

Written in Red by Anne Bishop, read by Angie, on 08/31/2014

Namid created the world and all those in it. When Namid created humans they were given a small part of the world; it was only after they ventured out of their area that they realized they were not the dominate species. The rest of the world was controlled by the Others and the humans had to learn to live with them. The Others are shapeshifters, vampires, elementals and others who you really don’t want to know about. As the humans moved out into the world they negotiated settlements with the Others who controlled the areas. Soon there are human towns surrounded by the terra indigene who control the world. There are also human cities with terra indigeneCourtyards. The Others control the world and everything in it; they decide where the humans live, how long they live there and what resources they get. It is up to the humans to become more than prey. 

Meg is a cassandra sangue, a blood prophet, who sees prophecies when her skin is cut. She has run away from the Controller who operated the compound where she lived and controlled all aspects of her life. She ends up at the Lakeside Courtyard where she meets Simon Wolfgard and is given the job of human liason. It is her responsibility to take in all the mail and packages the residents of the Courtyard receive and make sure they are properly distributed. Lakeside isn’t like other Courtyards in that they interact more with the humans. They have stores the humans can use and they have human employees. Meg’s presence changes the dynamic of the Courtyard in a way no one could have foreseen. She forms relationships with the Others and with the humans in their employee. But Meg has powerful enemies and they are not willing to let such valuable property fall through their hands. They are determined to return her to the Controller not matter the cost. 

Anne Bishop has again created a world and characters that suck you in and don’t let go. I loved the world she created in Namid and the creatures that inhabit it. It is very much our world with a different history. I like the new take on shapeshifters and vampires and the fact that we get to know their motivations and what they think of humans. I LOVED the elementals; they are my favorite characters in this series. The action of the book was great and I liked that this is a planned series so nothing was really tied up at the end of this book. It isn’t a cliff hanger, but there is a lot more story to tell in the future books in the series. I think the relationships between the charactesr and the world building are going to make this one of my favorite series. 

01. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal · Tags:

Omens by Kelley Armstrong , read by Angie, on 08/30/2014

Olivia Taylor-Jones has always lived a life of privilege and ease. She is the daughter of a powerful couple and engage to a powerful man. All that changes when it comes out she is adopted and the biological daughter of a notorious serial killer couple, Pamela and Todd Larsen. Olivia flees Chicago and ends up in Cainsville, a place of secrets and unknowns. She is taken in by the residents of this private town and soon becomes one of them. It is in Cainsville that she starts her investigations into her parent’s crimes. She isn’t sure if they are guilty or innocent, but she wants to find out more. Her mother gives her leads to investigate the last couple who were killed. Their killing was a little different from the others. Olivia is joined on her investigations by Gabriel who used to be her mother’s lawyer. He too has ties to Cainsville and the residents there. What they uncover doesn’t necessarily prove Olivia’s parents are innocent, but it does make them wonder what else is going on. 

Obviously as the first book in this series not all the reader’s questions are going to be answered. I am not sure if any of them were actually answered to tell you the truth. There is a lot going on in this book. You have the Larsens and whether or not they committed the crimes they are convicted of. You have the CIA and whatever experiments they were conducting. And then you have the people of Cainsville and whatever they are. Are they even human? Are they descendants of the fair folk from the British Isles or are they the fair folk? No idea. I think it was smart to leave the Cainsville part of the mystery pretty much up in the air. It is just barely touched on in this book and of course Olivia knows nothing of it except the fact that she can identify omens when others can’t. It is an interesting start to a series and one I am eager to read the rest of.

01. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

Brazen by Kelley Armstrong , read by Angie, on 08/29/2014

Nick is an omega wolf in the pack. He isn’t the smartest or the best fighter but he is an essential part of the pack. He has taken on the role of guardian for the three young werewolves that have joined the pack and has offered to help with the hunt for Malcolm Danvers. Malcolm is the bogeyman of the pack and he needs to be found and put down. Nick enlists the help of a supernatural detective agency and when they get in over their heads he and the lead detective Vanessa head off to Detroit. What follows is a game of cat and mouse between Malcolm and Nick with dead bodies, werewolf hunters, and cabal assassins.

I’m glad Nick has finally gotten a book of his own even if it is a short one. He has always been one of those characters in the background of Armstrong’s series so it is nice to see him take center stage for once. I was highly entertained by the developing relationship between Nick and Vanessa and glad to see Nick holding his own against Malcolm. I know Armstrong has ended the Otherworld series, but I feel like there will definitely be more to this story in future books.

01. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

Forbidden by Kelley Armstrong , read by Angie, on 08/29/2014

Morgan is on his way to New York to take a look at the North American Pack. He met Clay and Elena when they were in Alaska. He stops at a diner for dinner and starts to feel woozy so he thinks he needs to change. He takes off into the woods and changes into a werewolf. Unfortunately he still doesn’t feel well and he is found the next morning lying naked in the snow. Of course he is hauled off to jail and Clay and Elena are called in to rescue him. Once they get there things get even stranger. The local sheriff is a young woman with something to hide. Could it be all the bodies decomposing in the woods? Or whoever slashed the tires on their cars and broke into their rooms? Something is definitely going on and it is up to Clay and Elena to figure it out. 

This was a fun novella set in Armstrong’s Otherworld series. It gives us a little insight on how Morgan joined the pack and offered a strange mystery for our favorite werewolf pair to solve. The pack is definitely my favorite part of the Otherworld. They are really interesting and entertaining. Fans of Armstrong’s books will surely enjoy this one. 

29. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Torn by David Massey, read by Angie, on 08/28/2014

Ellie is a 19-year-old medic in the British Army on her first tour of Afghanistan. She is stationed at a remote outpost and must figure out how things work very quickly. This involves becoming one of the guys to the guys in her squad, dealing with the irrational commanding officer who happens to be the only other medic and woman and figuring out how to handle herself on patrols through hostile territory. On her first patrol she has to help a squad-mate who has stepped on an IED and she gets her first glimpse of the mysterious Aroush, a young Afghan girl who seems to show up when death is coming. On the next patrol the squad captures a young Afghan boy, Husna, who is a member of the Young Martyrs, a group of young boys who fight everyone from the Taliban to the Afghan security forces to the coalition forces. Ellie and Husna develop a friendship as she questions him to try and find out more about the Young Martyrs and a weapons cache they stumbled across. Then they set out into the mountains to find Husna’s village and the cache accompanied by a group of U.S. Navy Seals. But there is more to this mission then they are told and there is more to Aroush than anyone knows. 

There were parts of this book I really liked. I liked the story of a young, naive, inexperienced soldier trying to figure things out in a war zone. Ellie’s reactions to the things happening around her seemed very appropriate for the most part. I actually enjoyed the conspiracy theory aspect of the mission as well. I especially liked the story of Husna and his village and his friendship with Ellie. I even thought the slightly supernatural Aroush worked with the story. What I thought was completely unnecessary was the budding romance between Ellie and the Navy Seal Lieutenant. The book only takes place over the span of about a week so the fact that this romance was even included in the story seems a bit farfetched. Every time Ellie got all dopey-eyed over the hotness of Ben I rolled my eyes. She seriously thought about his hotness while they were out on patrol and the Taliban were following them…really! I think the book could have been much stronger without this romance plot.

28. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Paranormal, Short Stories · Tags:

Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong, read by Angie, on 08/27/2014

This is a fabulous collection of short stories and a novella set in Armstrong’s otherworld universe. It has been a while since I read a lot of the books in this series so placing the stories and characters was something of a challenge at times. However, these stories reminded me of how much I enjoy the world Armstrong has created. 

I received this book through NetGalley.

While I think Malala’s story is an inspirational one I think this book was very poorly written. Malala is the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban and became an international icon for girl’s schooling. She and her father had both been very outspoken opponents to the Taliban’s closing of girl’s schools and the reduced opportunities for education for girls in Pakistan. After she was shot she was taken to England to receive treatment. I believe in her cause and think more people need to stand up to the Taliban as she does. However, this book was pretty hard to listen to. Maybe if I had read it instead of listening to the audio I might have been able to brush off the weaknesses of the text; however, listening to the story just highlighted how poorly written the book really was. The book is set up as her autobiography where she talks about her family history, her childhood, her fight for education and the aftermath of the shooting. Interspersed with that is a lot of Pakistan history and especially history of her beloved Swat Valley. The problem with this book was the lack of cohesive storytelling. It was almost like the co-author took notes as Malala was speaking and instead of putting those notes into a cohesive story she just typed them up verbatim. So the story jumps topics and is more of a stream of consciousness telling than anything else. It may or may not get back to the point or it just might start on another tangent and completely abandon original topic. And this stream of consciousness will be broken up as a part of Pakistan history has to be explained so the reader will understand where her opinion is coming from. Some of this may have been translation but I think most of it has to be the responsibility of the co-author Christina Lamb. I had high hopes for this story and was deeply disappointed. I would not recommend it. If you want to be inspired by Malala I would probably recommend finding some of the articles about her and reading those.

27. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Fire & Ash by Jonathan Maberry, read by Angie, on 08/26/2014

I am not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading this final book in Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin series. I love this series and I loved this book. It was the perfect ending to the series. 

Benny and the gang have made it across the desert and to the safe haven of Sanctuary. Of course nothing is quite what it seems. The military staff at Sanctuary is very secretive and won’t tell them anything about what is happening. The Reapers led by Saint John are still out there and headed to the Nine Towns. Chong was bitten in the last book and is becoming more and more like a zombie. This is the first time Benny, Nix, Lilah and Riot have a chance to take a moment and take stock of themselves and what they have discovered in the Rot & Ruin. They are not the same people they were when they started this trip to find the mysterious plane. They thought they would find all the answers and all they found were more questions. There is also the case of the missing Dr. McReady. She was supposed to be on the plane they found in the desert and she supposedly has a cure for the reaper plague. The teens set off with Captain Joe Ledger to find her and the cure and bring an end to the zombie nightmare. 

What I love about this series is the fact that even though it is about zombies it really isn’t about zombies. It is about the inhumanity of man and how without society’s strictures man becomes the monster. Zombies are just mindless disease carriers. They have no thought or rationale, but man chooses to do evil or good. This theme is more explicitly stated in this book than in some of the others, but it is an important theme. Benny has to find the person who can fight and win against Saint John. He has to do decide if doing what has to be done to win will make him cross that line in becoming a monster himself. In some ways this book is about redemption; the redemption of Benny, Chong, Nix, Lilah, Riot and even Joe and the redemption of mankind. Is mankind worthy of saving? Or should they allow everyone to be released to the darkness. I really loved how this series ended; it was perfect and felt natural. Humanity is worth saving and there is hope in the world.

26. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 08/25/2014

A filmmaker is dying. He is retreating from everyday life as he gets worse. He is also working on a film he never believes to see made. It is the end of the world; the last day of the last month of the millennium; 999 AD. This book explores the noise of the world and what it means in our lives. It is an interesting concept and book. The noise between the chapters seems like just a jumble of words but does seem to represent the noise of the world that can distract us from what is important.

26. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 08/25/2014

A little boy recalls a time when he stayed with his grandparents. His grandpa owned an arcade and a strange Punch and Judy man came to the arcade to put on a show. It is a strangely beautiful story told from the perspective of a boy who doesn’t necessarily know what all is going on. The illustrations are compelling and interesting.

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black , read by Angie, on 08/24/2014

Tana wakes up the morning after a party hungover in a quiet house. She discovers a house full of corpses, all murdered by vampires apparently. In her desperate dash to leave the house she stumbles upon her ex-boyfriend Aiden tied to a bed and a chained up vampire. Aiden has obviously been bitten and is going Cold (first stage to becoming a vampire). Tana frees both of them and they all three escape the other vampires in the house. The group decides to head to the nearest Coldtown. Coldtowns were set up after the vampire outbreak 10 years ago. They are basically parts of cities, or whole cities, where the vampire outbreak ran out of control. Officials walled off the infected and the non-infected alike and made sure no one could leave. Tana, Aiden and Gavriel pick up a brother/sister pair who are also headed to Coldtown. They make their way in and chaos ensues. Tana is just trying to survive, but things don’t always work out how you want them to. 

I thought this was an interesting take on a vampire book. I like the fact that it is set in our world and that the actions of one rogue vampire changed the face of society. Vampires were hidden for centuries until this one started a feeding without killing spree across the U.S. Tana is kind of stupid during the book. She is in shock for the first half and just flying by the seat of her pants in the second. Not sure she ever really had a decent plan as she just kept heading into danger. I thought the most interesting aspect of the story was Gavriel and the revelations from his past. I liked the flashbacks of both Gavriel and Tana but did feel like they sometimes pulled the reader away from the main story at the wrong times. This was a fun book and a nice change of pace from some of the other vampire books out there. 

This is the story of a group of friends who attend a Night of Dreaming, a strange and fantastical circus. During the performance Miss Finch disappears and reappears as someone else. It is a strange tale and one I am not 100% sure I understand.

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman , read by Angie, on 08/22/2014

A young boy goes to see an osteopath who just happens to be the doctor who worked with Al Capone. Their paths cross several times as the boy’s recollection changes and his perception of events differs. It is a strange and wonderful story with beautiful illustrations.

25. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel · Tags:

Harlequin Valentine by Neil Gaiman, read by Angie, on 08/22/2014

Harlequin is searching for and trying to seduce his new Valentine in this graphic novel from Neil Gaiman. Since his seduction starts with him pinning his bleeding heart onto her front door you know you are not in for a regular seduction. The story is a bit gruesome, but entertaining. I enjoyed the history of the Harlequin story that Gaiman included at the back.

22. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell, read by Angie, on 08/22/2014

The year is 2049 and humanity is becoming infertile. Very few babies are being born which has led to “the troubles”. In order to end the troubles, a company called Oxted started manufacturing robot babies. Parents can adopt the babies and pretend everything is normal. The children go back to Oxted periodically for upgrades so they can seem to grow. No one is supposed to know who is a robot and who is a human kid even the kids themselves. However, during the teen years the robot kids sometimes do something that breaks the veneer of humanity and the parents can’t deal so they send them back to Oxted. Doesn’t really matter anyway because all the kids have to be returned at 18 to be recycled. What a lovely future!

Tania is 11 when the book starts. She thinks she is human until she falls into the Thames and doesn’t drown. Once she realizes she is a robot she embraces her robothood (after a few days of cranky). She has made friends with John and Sian and together they form a band; later they are joined by Kieran to round out the sound. Tania starts exploring the TelNet (internet) to see what she can find out about Oxted and what is going on with humanity; however, this plot point doesn’t last very long. The novel is told through Tania’s diary entries in which she writes to a future alien Mr. Zog. Of course Mr. Zog answers her posts from the future where he is reading about earth in some kind of archive. 

The story is pretty slow and drags a lot as we are just hearing Tania’s side of the story and she is mostly talking about her day-to-day life. The idea of the book was an intriguing one but the execution was pretty terrible. None of the characters actually seemed like real people to me; they didn’t talk like real people or act like real people. Maybe it was because most of them were robots but I think it was more poor writing. The world building was atrocious. This is set only 35 years in the future, which isn’t really that long, and yet the world has fallen apart. There is no explanation as to why fertility has disappeared or how the robot babies were accepted so quickly. Other than the robots, technology doesn’t seem to have advanced very much either. Other than the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any real book or music or movies anymore because everything is digital. I also thought it was really interesting (kind of dumb) that everyone seemed to only listen to 70s rock bands???? Lots of music was mentioned throughout the book but very little of it was post-1980. Why? The end did not make reading the whole book worth it at all. I wanted more from this story and was really disappointed that I didn’t get it.

21. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, read by Angie, on 08/20/2014

Splendors and Glooms is a 2013 Newbery Honor Book and kind of reinforces my idea that the Newbery Award is not about books that kids would choose to read themselves. It is about books that adults think kids should read or need to read. Which means the books are generally not popular and are not going to be books kids will pick up on their own. Splendors and Glooms is a heavy book that deals with some very tough topics like child abuse, unwanted male attention, death and evil all the while set in Victorian England. It is a long read with a lot of descriptive language reminiscent of Victorian literature. It is a book that I would actually say is more geared towards older kids because of the situations and language (there are a couple of swear words). 

Splendors and Glooms is the story of three children: Clara, Lizzie Rose, and Parsefall. Clara is a privileged girl who is the only surviving child of a cholera epidemic that killed all her brothers and sisters. Her house is one of mourning even years after the fact. Lizzie Rose is a child of the theater who was orphaned when her parents died who plays at being a lady. Parsefall is another orphan who was rescued from the workhouse, loves being a puppeteer and picks a pocket or two. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall live with Grisini the puppeteer. He doesn’t treat them very well, barely feeds them and makes them work for him. The three meet when Clara begs to have Grisini do a show at her birthday party. She disappears the next day with no trace. Then Parsefall and Lizzie Rose discover a new puppet who looks just like Clara and come to believe that Grisini is a magician who turned her into a puppet. Grisini disappears leaving the children on their own until they discover a letter from Cassandra asking them to come live with her. Cassandra is a witch who has visions of being consumed by fire because of the fire opal she possesses. Grisini tells her that a child must steal it from her in order to free her (thus the request for the kids). The kids arrive at her country castle and start trying to figure out what is going on and how they can get out of it. 

So not my favorite book. The story was overly dramatic and gruesome at times for a children’s book. The ending was way too simple to be realistic and diminished the drama of the previous 400 pages. And the plot got a little convoluted and a bit boring to tell you the truth. 

21. August 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction · Tags:

The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection CD by Neil Gaiman, read by Angie, on 08/19/2014

Four short children’s stories by Neil Gaiman are contained in this collection and they were all wonderful: Crazy Hair, Cinnamon, The Wolves in the Walls and the Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. I think my favorite might have been the Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish just for the plain fun and silliness of the story. The Wolves in the Walls was a bit scary. Cinnamon was a touching story. Crazy Hair was just fun with its rhyming text. I think the best part was the fact that Gaiman read the stories himself and the fact that his daughter interviewed him at the end. Wonderful collection. 

Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller and listening to him tell this tale was chilling and thrilling. It is a story taken out of legend and the mists of time. It is a story about adventure and greed and revenge and evil and what causes all of the above. Gaiman has a hypnotising voice that makes the story come alive in a way just reading it would not have accomplished. His telling is accompanied by music which really helps to set the mood in this dark tale.

18. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Homeland by Cory Doctorow, read by Angie, on 08/17/2014

This is the second Cory Doctorow book I have read and it scared me and made me paranoid just like the first one. Homeland is a followup to Little Brother and follows the same character of Marcus. Marcus and his girlfriend Ange are at Burning Man when they are given a USB stick with confidential information on it and later watch the couple who gave them the info taken away by paramilitary thugs. Back in San Francisco Marcus has to figure out what to do with the thousands of documents full of incriminating information. He is also starting a new job and trying to deal with the fact that his parents have both lost their jobs. There is a lot going on in this book and I will admit that I didn’t understand the majority of the techno jargon. What I did understand was enough to make me paranoid and leary of everything I have ever done online. The scariest part is that this is not fiction; stuff like this is happening around the world as we speak. Cory Doctorow is truly terrifying and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if someone was hacking him and watching his every move.