Monday, October 16, 2017

An Update

Some of you who don't follow my social media may wonder why the heck I've suddenly stopped posting and replying to comments. My grandmother has been ill for a few years- first breast cancer, then this year, lung cancer. She died on October 3rd at the ripe old age of 91 years. Although this isn't my first rodeo in terms of grandparents dying (technically, I only have 1 left), I was very close to my grandmother and lived with her when I was a young adult. I didn't realize how much it affected me until I walked into her apartment and saw the chair in the corner was vacant. It was real to me then, even though I'd known days before.

I plan to be back to blogging sometime, but I'm not sure if it will be soonish or laterish. I always thought the worst when I visited a blog where no one had posted in a long time, which is why I'm posting this now. Grief is a fickle beast, and I'd rather leave notice that I'm okay than keep people guessing.

Happy Reading,

Monday, October 2, 2017

MMRM: "The Blue Lenses" and "The Doll" by Daphne du Maurier

'Tis the season for the unearthly, the undead, and the downright macabre. Not everyone can read an entire book in time for Halloween- some of us are too busy with other books, or even other things (gasp). For those poor souls, I offer these reviews: I will be writing my thoughts on some of my favorite short stories for this spooky season, either one at a time or in pairs.

"The Blue Lenses" by Daphne du Maurier

Available to read for free, online here. There is a free audio edition of this short story (!) here. (The audio appears to have more sentences- I'm not sure if it was added on or not.)
Rating: 4 Stars (Excellent)
Content: Ages 12+ for mild head-bending.
Page Count: (unknown) pages
Year Published: 1959

Surgeries are a vulnerable time for most people, so it makes sense to write a weird horror tale about the subject. Without sight, would we judge people differently or the same? Daphne du Maurier does an excellent job of playing on some of the more basic fears most people have.

The Plot: A woman has surgery to repair her vision, but when her bandages are removed, her vision seems to have bizarrely deteriorated instead.

Colour was not important. The blue symmetry of vision itself was all important. To see, to feel. It was indeed a rebirth, the discovery of a world long lost to her.

               ~"The Blue Lenses" by Daphne du Maurier

If you happen to be having eye surgery, I would save this one for later. It's a bit unsettling.

Another note: This was included in an article on Bibliotherapy: what to read when you're at breaking point. I suggest reading the story first, as she includes a minor spoiler.

"The Doll" by Daphne du Maurier

Available to read for free, online here.
Rating: 3 Stars (Good)
Content: 14+ for implied sex scenes
Page Count: (unknown) pages
Year Published: 1937

Although du Maurier is best known for having a character named Rebecca in her novel of the same name, here is another instance she uses a similarly named character to sinister effect.

The Plot: A man finds himself bewitched by a girl who is liberal with her affections.

Honestly, I can't say I liked this one as well as "The Blue Lenses", which had a certain amount of depth that this one doesn't have. As horror stories go, this one is heavy on the atmosphere. But I can see why it went unpublished for 70 years- it just doesn't have as much punch as du Maurier's other works.

She said, "Is it possible to love someone so much that it gives one a pleasure, an unaccountable pleasure to hurt them? To hurt them by jealousy, I mean, and to hurt oneself  at the same time. Pleasure and pain, an equal mingling of pleasure and pain, just as an experiment, a rare sensation?"

            ~"The Doll" by Daphne du Maurier

If you're afraid of dolls and losing someone you love, I suppose this one may be more frightening. As someone unafraid of dolls, it wasn't that scary to me.

Until next time,

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge Wrap-up (Year 2)

The Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge Hosted by Rachelle @ Fortified by Books
My Goal: 6 Books
What I've Read: 12 Books!

Firstborn & Defending Elysium by Brandon Sanderson (Sci-fi Short Stories, 160 pages [June])
Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1) by Octavia E. Butler (Dystopian, 345 pages [July])
The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser (Time Travel, 303 pages [July])
Naked in Death (In Death #1) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [July])
Glory in Death (In Death #2) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [Aug])
Immortal in Death (In Death #3) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [Aug])
River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1) by Sarah Gailey (Alt History [Aug])
Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen (Sci-fi [Aug])
Rapture in Death (In Death #4) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [Sept])
Ceremony in Death (In Death #5) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [Sept])
Vengeance in Death (In Death #6) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [Sept])
Holiday in Death (In Death #7) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [Sept])

Because I exceeded my goal (again) this year, I managed to make it to Jedi (again)! I found a new favorite sci-fi series that is pretty darn addictive (I have gathered up to #16 of the In Death series, thanks to Better World Books's fabulous prices on used books).

Thanks to Rachelle for hosting this! I was very surprised I made it to Jedi again, but I guess that's what happens when you get hooked on a series.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Early Critique: "Under the Pendulum Sun" by Jeannette Ng

Disclaimer: I was given a free advance ecopy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher, Angry Robot Books in exchange for an honest review. My opinion remains as forthright as ever.

Publication Date: October 3rd

What to expect from this book: lush descriptions, an unusual world built of sinister fae politics and human religion, and rather sluggish pacing for the first half of the book. I would blame the pacing on some of the Gothic elements of the novel, along with an excess of introspection on the heroine's part- Cathy is isolated in a spooky mansion where she is warned not to leave. Her brother, Laon, is away, but none of her fae companions will tell her why or where. Cathy's unanswered questions lead her to investigate on her own and at the beginning she's fairly slow, leading to a slower start to this book than I expected.

Arcadia, the land of the fae, has a lot of unexplained rules for humans to follow, and the main one is humans need to salt their food. Cathy is unsure whether some rules are just taboos or not, so she's careful to follow the advice of Mr. Benjamin and her companion the changeling of Miss Davenport. This stalls many of her investigations, leading me to become a bit frustrated. Cathy as a character is overcautious, which adds to the slower pace. It's somewhat understandable, given the timeframe this book was set in, but I tend to prefer my heroines foolhardy.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Catherine Helstone's brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there comes news: her beloved brother is riding to be reunited with her soon - but the Queen of the Fae and her insane court are hard on his heels.'

By the time Laon shows up, you'd think the plot would move a bit more quickly, but there are still questions going unanswered and little for the reader to infer on. Those who prefer their books religion free may want to skip this one, as Mr. Benjamin, the single fae convert to Christianity, has many questions that Cathy and Laon find difficult to answer. Most of the fae are focused on trying to get the missionary (Laon) to trip up on his faith and prove it invalid. Cathy and her brother are trying to figure out what happened to the previous missionary that came to Gethsemane by decoding his journals.

In summary, there are many plot points with this book, but most of them are passive rather than active- a battle of wills and wits rather than sword and fist. I was expecting a little more of the latter, but of course I am on a rather action-packed detective novel kick at the moment. Victorian elements flavor the fae and fantasy elements of this book, a fact which I do appreciate as a Victorian soul. But due to the mostly passive plot points, this book still took me much longer to read through than most books with 400 pages.

Under the Pendulum Sun is an intricate distortion of myth and history that somehow results in a romance. I was a bit baffled by some of the turns of events in this book, but again, most of it consists of mind games rather than games of physical strength. If you're in the mood for a pre-Halloween puzzle box of a book, this one may be for you.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great rendition of fae politics and religion!

Age Advisory: Ages 18+ for violence, murder, and sexual elements.

Page Count: 416 pages

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Month in Review for August 2017

Torrie sensing a disturbance in the Force

I find myself surprised this year at the lack of rainfall in the area and how many wildfires we're having in the western half of the U.S. When we first moved to this area, we had rain for almost all of August and some of September, so I find myself a bit more worried about wildfires in my vicinity than I'd usually be. I spent a great deal of time this August reading books (and rereading them) for the fun of it. I usually make an attempt to review every book I read, but I've cut myself some slack this year.

 Total Posts: 5
  Total Critiques: 3
    Alt. History: 1
    Sci-fi: 1
    Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance: 1
    Part of a Series: 3

Most Popular Posts of the Past Month:
Fortnightly Update #39: Post-Eclipse Reading
"Naked in Death (In Death #1)" by J.D. Robb
Month in Review for July 2017

Flashback Post (From a Previous Year):
"Deerskin" by Robin McKinley

Pageviews for the Month: 1138
Comments: 11

Reading Challenges Updates:

My Goal: 6 Books
What I've Read So Far: 7 Books! Goal exceeded!

Firstborn & Defending Elysium by Brandon Sanderson (Sci-fi Short Stories, 160 pages [June])
Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1) by Octavia E. Butler (Dystopian, 345 pages [July])
The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser (Time Travel, 303 pages [July])
Naked in Death (In Death #1) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [July])
Glory in Death (In Death #2) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [Aug])
Immortal in Death (In Death #3) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [Aug])
Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen (Sci-fi [Aug])

Reading Stats:

Books read this Month: 12

For book covers, click here (my GR challenge).

Book Stats:
Has a Diverse Main Character: 1
Doesn't Have a Diverse MC: 11
Female Main Character: 10
Male Main Character: 0
Pair and/or Group of Female/Male Main Characters: 2
 Alt History: 1
 Sci-fi: 2
 Sci-fi Thriller/Romance: 2
 Historical Romance: 1
 Paranormal Romance/UF: 3
 Urban Fantasy: 3
Published in 2017: 3
Published in 2000-2016: 6
Published in 1990s: 2
Published in 1980s: 1
Self-Published, Small Press, or Other: 0
Traditionally Published: 12
Series Books: 11
Standalones: 1
Ebook Version: 6
Paper Version: 6
Favorite of the Month: Although it's a reread, White Hot. It makes me chuckle every time I read it.
Least Favorite of the Month: The Captive (Captive Hearts #1) by Grace Burrowes, not because it's a bad book, just because of all the books I read, it was the least memorable.
Most Interesting of the Month (or Book I Learned the Most From): Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen because it was so unusual for a humans-meet-aliens book.
From the-pile: 0
From the-invisible-pile: 3
Recently acquired: 5
Rereads: 4
Added to the-invisible-pile: 0
Books bought: 8
Pages Read in 2017 Thus Far (according to Goodreads): 18,074 pages

5 Stars: 0
4-4.5 Stars: 5
3-3.5 Stars: 7
2-2.5 Stars: 0

Author Stats (1 = 1 book read by x author):
Male: 0
Female: 6
Male/Female Team: 6
Diverse: 0
Not-so-Diverse: 12
Living: 12
Deceased: 0

Planning to Read This Month:

This month, I better finish off my ARCs early so I'll have the reviews ready- I have The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (a book I've been greatly looking forward to and the prequel to Practical Magic) and I just started Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng which is a Victorian era trip to Arcadia (AKA fairyland).

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1)" by Sarah Gailey

This is a hippo western. If you don't like the idea of semi-tame hippos let loose in the U.S. as an alternative to the traditional cattle farming in an alt-history West, you probably would be better off finding another book. Of course, there are some likable characters and the plot is decent, but mainly- hippos. You must love them.

About those hippos- the idea for this book came from actual history- here's a Wired article about it. Prior to this book's forward, I'd never heard of such a thing, but as always, I am game to read about books with unusual animals in them. Hippos in real life are one of the most dangerous animals in the world, but in this book, the "hoppers" are somehow able to be tamed. Now that I've fed you sufficient info (that will hopefully prevent you from becoming a hippo farmer), let's get to the meat of the story.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.
'Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.
'This was a terrible plan.
'Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.'

The most interesting part of this story (other than the hippos) is the characters. That isn't a bad thing, and works for me in most books, but with this book I felt it wasn't quite enough. The plot was interesting enough, but I felt since this is a hippo western, there was a lack of depth to the world. What are the consequences (beyond stray feral hippos) of hippo farming in the U.S.? I get that this is a revenge centered tale, but I wanted more worldbuilding than was on offer. True, maybe the implications will expand with the next book, but I felt the campy Western bits would've been better served in a more nuanced world with a bit more than a spit polish to the plot.

These characters I mentioned- my favorite (by leaps and bounds) was Hero, a black non-binary person who uses the pronoun they. Hero had enough attitude and it wasn't as over-the-top as some of the other characters, one of whom drove me nuts (Archie). Though this book starts with Winslow's perspective, I was glad it switched around because I found him a tad bland. Adelia was the runner up in terms of my admiration- I always admire authors who include pregnant ladies in their adventure novels.

River of Teeth is a novel buoyed by the strength of the subject and characters. If not for the hippos, I can't say I'd have picked this up to begin with as I'm not a fan of Westerns. Though hippos and characters may seem strange strengths to recommend a book on, this one is on the shorter side and doesn't take much time at all to read. If you are intrigued by the concept of a hippo Western, you may want to check out this book.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a good hippo-populated adventure.

Age Advisory: Ages 18+ for cutthroat violence, murder, and cut scene sex.

Page Count: 192 pages

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Fortnightly Update #39: Post-Eclipse Reading

I was invited to a place where the total eclipse was taking place. For weeks we'd heard it was probably better staying home and seeing a partial eclipse (with the eclipse glasses) than going to see the total, where all the people from out of state or country would be. Despite the warnings, we went, and it was amazing. The traffic on the way up wasn't bad, but on the way back a one hour drive was turned into a six and a half hour ordeal. I spent most of this month focusing on reading because most of my energy has been devoted to keeping my plants alive and watered in this (unusually warm) summer heat.

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

the-pile Additions:

I bought a stack of books from Better World Books- with the discounts, it ended up being about $2.63 per used book- which was really good, considering most of them were in almost-new shape.

Myself When Young: The Shaping of a Writer by Daphne du Maurier
I love Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, so I figured it couldn't hurt to learn more about her from her own perspective.

Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
I also love Margaret Atwood's books, and I hope this one will be another winner for me.

Shadows by Robin McKinley
Surprisingly (for me) this is a YA, but it is written by yet another of my favorite authors, Robin McKinley. It sounds urban fantasy-ish, which I hope I'll like.

Classic Ghost Stories by Charles Keeping
Some of the stories I reviewed for Mini Macabre Review Monday are in this collection, and I hope to find more for this year's edition.

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7) by Ilona Andrews
I am collecting the Kate Daniels series as physical books (because I love them). I have all the digital copies, but even with my vision being wonky lately, I like physical books.

Immortal in Death (In Death #3) by J.D. Robb
Glory in Death (In Death #2) by J.D. Robb
This series is seriously addictive. I consider myself a crime tv aficionado, but with the futuristic sci-fi bent to this series, I find myself still guessing by the end. If you like your mysteries with a dash of romance, these are for you.

Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels #3) by Ilona Andrews
Another one of my new physical copies of the Kate Daniels series.

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels #5.5) by Ilona Andrews
This one was new to me, but given the voraciously reading state I'm in it was devoured posthaste.

the-invisible-pile Additions:

This book had a lot of buzz this year because hippo wranglers. It's about people who ride hippos and plan on rounding up the feral population in this alternate history version of the U.S.A. I was clued in about this book by Heather's review at Based on a True Story.

Currently Reading:

So far, I am enjoying it. As always my favorite part of this book is the animals- in this book's case, the hippos. I know in real life hippos are one of the deadliest critters around, but if there were non-feral mini hippos (that were humanely raised and not poached from the wild)... I'd want one.

Finished These Books: (Since the beginning of August)


White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2) by Ilona Andrews
Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona Andrews
I reviewed White Hot after rereading it, and was planning to review Wildfire, but I guess other things got in my way. I think the ratings on both would be the same, but I slightly prefer White Hot because it has a memorable scene with ferrets. Sadly, none are on the cover.

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) by Ilona Andrews
I think I wanted to do a full reread of this series, but I stalled after I got my Better World Books shipment. I still love this one just as much as when I read it the first time.

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews
I reread this just to freshen myself up on the state of things before reading Gunmetal Magic. As always, it's nice to revisit old favorites.

Fresh Reads:

The Captive (Captive Hearts #1) by Grace Burrowes
I liked this one. I can't recall much detail about my likes and dislikes of it right now, but I know the characters won me over because I rated it 3 Stars and it's a romance. It passed the Litha Gauntlet.

Moonshadow (Moonshadow #1) by Thea Harrison
This was on sale in July and I think I snagged it and forgot to add it to Goodreads. It is a paranormal romance that starts with a woman having an induced vision of a man on a battlefield, a man who tries to attack her. She is then offered the chance to get a free estate in the UK, if she can open the door, which is magically shut. This is one of the more plot-heavy paranormal romances I've come across and I enjoyed it.

Immortal in Death (In Death #3) by J.D. Robb
I'm not sure why I kept switching these two around in pictures, but Glory in Death (with the blue cover and red heels) is the 2nd book, with Immortal in Death being the 3rd. As I mentioned, these are excellent reading fodder for me because they keep me guessing and have the proper amount of humor, romance, and drama.

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels #5.5) by Ilona Andrews
This one was new to me, but given the voraciously reading state I'm in it was devoured posthaste. This book focuses on Andrea, who is Kate's best friend. Despite having some funny moments, it doesn't quite measure up with the rest of the series, but I would still give it 3.5 Stars.

Magic Gifts is another non-essential novella that adds to the Kate Daniels series. It's set slightly before Gunmetal Magic, and I preferred it to Gunmetal Magic because nothing quite beats Kate and Curran.

In My Life:

I was putting out my Better World Books haul when Leia decided it was actually a nest for her to sit in.

I have no clue what got into Torrie, but I'm pretty sure she's fed up with me taking pictures or Leia being the subject of them.

Did you see the eclipse? 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2)" by Ilona Andrews

White Hot is the second in the Hidden Legacy series, and this review contains some spoilers for the first book, Burn For Me. My review of Burn For Me is here.

This book contains some of the elements that made Fate's Edge one of my favorite Ilona Andrews' books- animals, ingenuity, and a lot of creative thinking. While the returning characters did sweeten the book, I love the fact that Cornelius returns with his animal menagerie to make this book even more Litha-approved. As you may know, a heavy helping of critters with personality goes a long way in terms of improving my reception to books.

Of course, I must discuss the cover, which basically gives some of the book away: Nevada and Rogan were (1st book spoiler) separated in the first book by Rogan's offer which Nevada refused. Obviously, something romantic is happening in this book. I think a lot of my fears about Rogan and Nevada's dynamic were answered in this book, because they get to know each other a bit more than in Burn For Me.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.
'Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …'

One of my favorite things about the Hidden Legacy series is Nevada's family, and her grandma, Frida continues to hold a special place in my heart with her mad vehicular modification skills. You get to see more of Catalina and Arabella (Nevada's sisters) in this book, and not just in the annoying lil' sis ways you'd expect of them (although there's more than enough of that too). There is definitely more of a focus on the Baylor clan than there was in Burn For Me, because although Nevada lived and worked with her family then there was less of their input on her everyday activities with Rogan.

I was impressed with the plot of this book probably even more than Burn For Me which was more of a typical series introduction book. Although there are some hodge podge action scenes, the overall story was impressive (especially the bit that involved the animals). This is supposed to be paranormal romance, but there is a lot more urban fantasy-ish situations than I recall a lot of Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance mixes having.

White Hot is the type of paranormal romance that brings me out of a bad mood with ease. I enjoyed it so much I decided to reread it before writing up a review- the Hidden Legacy series is quickly becoming one of my favorites. If you like action-packed books with realistic characters and a side of romance, this series might be for you.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for an exceptional sequel that exceeded my magical expectations!

Age Advisory: Ages 18+ for violence, animal burglars, and sexual content.

Page Count: 389 pages

Saturday, August 12, 2017

"Naked in Death (In Death #1)" by J.D. Robb

I don't know about you, but I tend to have little trust in the writing skills of popular authors. The more books a certain writer has written and sold well, the more I suspicious I feel about them- I guess that is why I seldom pick up any books by James Patterson or Dan Brown (also, I tend to dislike thrillers). So when I saw this in my invisible-pile with the name Nora Roberts on it, my eyes went very narrow- why would I pick up a romance book with thriller in the title, even if it has sci-fi, if it's written by such a popular *narrows eyes even more* writer?

Let me tell you- I was wrong. This book is a gem of sci-fi romance that even I (the notoriously picky about romance reader) can enjoy, even with my thriller-aversion. It's always interesting to read a book set in a future time when a lot of time has passed since its publication, but somehow this one doesn't seem at all far fetched (this was published in 1995, 22 years ago). There are some elements that are a more than a tad off track (they say because prostitution is legalized, rape is very uncommon. I doubt that X1000), but in 1995, I was three years old and considered dirt a delicacy. Needless to say, things have changed.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line--between seductive passion and scandalous murder... Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all--and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire--and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about--except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.'

J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts manages to portray Eve Dallas in a beautifully complex manner. She is a survivor of childhood sex abuse who has made her job into her life when in steps Roarke. I wasn't too sure the author would be able to make me like him at first- he's overbearing and a billionaire (I don't find wealth that attractive, thanks very much), but the way he cares for Eve won me over. This is written in the third-person omniscient perspective, which means there are jumps in point of view during the same scene from character to character. It's hard to believe, but it actually works in this book's favor- if I never saw the book from Roarke's end of things in certain moments, I would've never liked him.

Although this book is set in a sci-fi future, it is a romance, the steam of which may not suit all readers. With most books with this level of steam, I can usually label it mainly a romance, but without the murder mystery and sci-fi elements this book probably wouldn't work- Eve's job is essential to her character, and the sadistic sexual aspects of the murders seem to break down her barriers. You should definitely skip this one if you find those types of things in books distasteful because although it isn't as bad as many other books I've read, it's still on the gruesome side.

Naked in Death is a futuristic romantic thriller with a heroine who can cry and still kick your ass ten seconds (or less) later. I was more than thrilled to find that this one breached the four star barrier, something that has been difficult for many other books I've read in the past few months to do. If you like the lighter side of sci-fi with romance, murder, and a heroine to cheer for, you should pick up Naked in Death for your next read.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellent sci-fi romance that kept me guessing!

Age Advisory: Ages 18+ for violence during sexual situations, murder, and sexual assault.

Page Count: 316 pages

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Month in Review for July 2017

My Star Wars themed b-day cake, complete with purple lightsaber chopsticks
July was rather kind to me compared with the beginning of August- there is a wildfire four miles from my house that was burning absurdly fast for about a week, which left me trapped inside due to the smoke and downstairs due to the heat. Luckily, it is cooler now and I am able to get back upstairs and blog again- I have a nifty but bulky desktop that I write at for fear of my tablet's autocorrect.

 Total Posts: 5
  Total Critiques: 2
    Fantasy: 1
    Contemporary Fiction: 1
    Part of a Series: 1

Most Popular Posts of the Past Month:
Month in Review for June 2017
New Release Review: "Hello, Sunshine" by Laura Dave

Flashback Post (From a Previous Year):
"Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1)" by Ilona Andrews

Pageviews for the Month: 958
Comments: 13

Reading Challenges Updates:

My Goal: 6 Books
What I've Read So Far:
Firstborn & Defending Elysium by Brandon Sanderson (Sci-fi Short Stories, 160 pages [June])
Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1) by Octavia E. Butler (Dystopian, 345 pages [July])
The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser (Time Travel, 303 pages [July])
Naked in Death (In Death #1) by J.D. Robb (Sci-fi Thriller/Romance [July])

Reading Stats:

Books read this Month: 7

Book Stats:
Has a Diverse Main Character: 1
Doesn't Have a Diverse MC: 6
Female Main Character: 5
Male Main Character: 0
Pair and/or Group of Female/Male Main Characters: 2
 Sci-fi: 3
 Historical Romance: 2
 Fantasy: 1
 UF/Paranormal Romance: 1
Published in 2017: 3
Published in 2000-2016: 1
Published in 1990s: 2
Published in 1970s: 1
Self-Published, Small Press, or Other: 0
Traditionally Published: 7
Series Books: 6
Standalones: 1
Ebook Version: 6
Paper Version: 1
Favorite of the Month: Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona Andrews because they are my favorite authors who create my favorite characters (even a grizzly bear with the smarts of a human who is a pacifist). I liked it so much I'm rereading it right now.
Least Favorite of the Month: Rules for a Rogue (Romancing the Rules #1) by Christy Carlyle- with historical romance, I'm hard to please. I really liked the second book in this series (which I read first).
Most Interesting of the Month (or Book I Learned the Most From): Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1) by Octavia E. Butler- it's the most interesting and frightening book I've probably read all year- not for the squeamish among us or those who avoid dark topics.
From the-pile: 0
From the-invisible-pile: 3
Recently acquired: 4
Added to the-invisible-pile: 10
Books bought: 1
Pages Read in 2017 Thus Far (according to Goodreads): 14,452 pages

5 Stars: 0
4-4.5 Stars: 3
3-3.5 Stars: 3
2-2.5 Stars: 1

Author Stats (1 = 1 book read by x author):
Male: 1
Female: 5
Male/Female Team: 1
Diverse: 1
Not-so-Diverse: 6 :(
Living: 6
Deceased: 1

Planning to Read This Month:

I am rereading Wildfire (because Ilona Andrews' books make me happy). I plan on sneaking in some sci-fi at some point, but other than that I don't have any plans.

Upcoming Posts:

Naked in Death (In Death #1) by J.D. Robb
For a while, my Blogger image archive wasn't working, so this review from July will appear in August. I really was pleasantly surprised by this one- and I didn't anticipate that.

I hope your August is amazing!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fortnightly Update #38: On an Upswing

I've had a couple trips lately, but I have luckily had a lot of energy to manage that as compared with earlier this month. Although the hot temps aren't exactly ideal for me, the storm systems seem to be keeping away (storm systems make my pain and fatigue jump- I no longer really like rain). I'm excited about a few new books I've acquired and I feel like I'm on an upswing in terms of reading.

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

the-pile Additions:

You may recognize this book- these are the special 20th anniversary editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I kind of want to get all the House colors, but I decided to start with Gryffindor since it's my house. My copy of this book (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) was originally my brother's, until he outgrew Harry Potter (I know, who could do that?) and let me have it. So this copy is my first new copy of it.

the-invisible-pile Additions:

Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations #1-2) by Michael J. Sullivan
I've only read Age of Myth and Age of Swords by this author, so I decided to branch out and buy this set for future reading.

Currently Reading:

Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona Andrews
I actually have the paperback edition of this, but I'm a bit crunched for time so I won't take a photo (yet). This is the conclusion to the Hidden Legacy series, however the authors seem willing to do more books for it (which would make me a very happy reader).

Finished These Books:

Rating: 2 Stars
I was disappointed with this one, as I had bought it because I liked the second in the series. I guess something about the heroine continuing to reject her old sweetheart who jilted her prior struck me as kind of sad instead of romantic.

Rating: 3.5 Stars
I had a lot of nitpicks with this one, but it still came out on the plus side, as you may have gathered from my review.

Rating: 4 Stars
I've linked to my review (which has been written) but I have to wait until my computer's feeling up to accessing some of my old rating images to publish it. Basically, you can't judge an author by their popularity- I assumed Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb wouldn't be for me because she is such a popular author and book/author popularity doesn't always ring true for me. However, this futuristic romance sci-fi was a winner for me- I rated it four stars in a month when every other rating seems to be three stars or less.

The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser
Rating: 3 Stars
I billed this as a "Freaky Friday" type tale, but with time travel, and in some ways I was very right about that. However, instead of a semi-light read it ended up being a very dark one- and I usually enjoy that. It was also very dated- and I am loath to label older novels with that description. But there's no hiding the fact that this would have been much more enjoyable had I believed in the concept that women in the '70s were totally liberated and radically blessed- even then there were things that weren't working for women. The parents of Shay in this novel make me want to scream. Anyway, I found the first half (which is set in the early 1900s) much more palatable than the last parts of it.

In My Life:

Torbor listening to the voice of the forest (AKA squirrels)
We went camping for a few days and luckily we got a nice spot. I reserved one online based on the campsite map- it was the most isolated, which is nice for us and others since our pups don't take kindly to strangers (Leia is a barkhound, and Torrie follows suit with a howl). It was also the only one with creek access and plus it was near the amenities. They had an "accessible" camping spot that was a bit of a joke- it had a steep slope to it, and no ramp to the parking space. As far as I could tell, you would've been better off where we were because there was a slight slope that went up to the parking space, and the area was mostly level. I learned that unless the ground is level, I have a hard time walking places as I couldn't get to the end of the campground (which wasn't that large to begin with), even with the dogs "supporting" me.

It was really nice to just sit around and listen to the creek, which was right next to the campsite. There were no animal sightings save for a red squirrel that was taunting Torrie, and the far off moos of a herd of free range cattle. Apparently there were a few that kept straying from the rest of the herd, which was why we heard a lot of mooing. Even though it wasn't quite the adventurous camping that I'm used to (AKA hiking more than a few campsites over), it was a pleasant trip.

Have you had any summer adventures?

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