Friday Reads ~ 17 November 2017

I am running out of days in the year to read cat mystery novels. Good thing I only have 2 cat mysteries left to read to meet my goal.

WHAT I READ

I finished reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. LOVE THIS BOOK. I think it’s my favorite of the books I’ve read this year. It’s a beautiful story, but it’s also deep and imaginative and touching and sweet. I highly recommend this one. Yes, it’s a middle grade book, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying it. And yes, the titular “girl” is our main main character, but our secondary main characters are adults, so it’s not like the adults who read it have no one to connect with. This came very highly recommended to me, and I pass along that recommendation to you.

WHAT I’M READING

I started Crime and Poetry by Allison Flower. I recently met the cat which makes this a cat mystery novel, and I really like him (Emerson). I think I might like the protagonist, and I probably like her grandma. This is a nice change from some of the other recent cozy mysteries I’ve read. Hopefully I keep liking them and can break that “like the animals but not the humans” trend.

I’m still listening to Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh. I don’t like the middle of the book as much as I liked the beginning. It seems more cliched now. However, it had great promise at the start, so I do intend to keep reading. I am having a really hard time believing the main character now, though. She doesn’t seem all that realistic for her universe.

And in addition to Raventower and Merriweather #1: Secrets by Lazette Gifford, I picked up the ebook version of Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire. That one is a shorter book, so I’ll probably switch to that one and finish it first.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

Another cat mystery. Probably the second Mrs. Murphy novel by Rita Mae Brown or the next Black Cat Bookshop mystery by Ali Brandon. Other than that, I’m not focused on my next read.

Happy weekend, and may you have lots of time to read!

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Friday Reads ~ in which lots was read but no reviews were written

I have finished a lot of reading this week, but I haven’t yet written up the reviews for any of those books. I plan to do that this weekend, so I’ll have the links to the review (hopefully) with next Friday’s post.

As far as a quick 2017 Reading Challenge update goes, you may remember that I’d decided to:

  1. read at least 75% new books; and
  2. read 10 cat mysteries

So far, I have read 4 cat mysteries (and am in the middle of my 5th) and have read 77.14% new books. I’d say I’m on track so far.

WHAT I READ:

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire was released this week, and it put all my other reading on pause. It’s the second of the Wayward Children stories, and it provides back-story for Jack and Jill, two of the characters in the first story. I really enjoyed it, even though it’s more novella-length than novel-length. Definitely worth reading. The storytelling style is really neat, too.

And then because I hadn’t had enough of that world yet, I re-read Every Heart a Doorway, the first of McGuire’s Wayward Children stories. (That one I reviewed back when I read it the first time, and my original review is here.) Still love that story, too.

I also finished reading all of the InCryptid short stories that I can read without spoiling the rest of the series novels. So that’s done for a bit.

And I finished listening to NPCs by Drew Hayes, the first of the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series. That was A LOT OF FUN. If you are a D&D gamer, you should really read this one. If you are a DM, this is practically required reading. Granted, a lot of the story is pure fantasy novel and not game-related, but there are so many little jabs at the game (AND ITS PLAYERS) that make it a lot of fun. I’ll be continuing with this series. And the narration (by Roger Wayne) was a lot of fun, too.

WHAT I’M READING:

I’m currently listening to Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. It’s enjoyable. It’s eye-opening. It’s still darned hard to listen to her narrate her own life.

I’m also still reading The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun. Still fun, but the Cat Who books can be a little formulaic if you read too many of them in too quick a succession. I’ll be taking a short break from this series after this book.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT:

My next audio book will probably be a Great Courses lecture series. I’m not sure which one yet, though. Audible had a 2-for-1 sale on the Great Courses series, so I have a few of them to choose from.

My next paper book will be… hopefully fun. I’m not sure what it will be, to be honest. I think I’ll be taking a break from cat mysteries for a book or two, but that’s about as far as I can guess right now.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Reads: Every Heart a Doorway

heart-big.jpgEvery Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children)
by Seanan McGuire
(fantasy, paranormal, YA?)

This is an interesting book for several reasons, but (for me) largely because of the premise. Essentially, this book attempts to answer the question, “what happens to Alice when she returns home from Wonderland?” In this story, there is more than one Wonderland, and each Wonderland is different. (They’re not called Wonderland in the story, that’s all me.) Some are Nonsense worlds, and some are Logic worlds. Some are classified as Virtue and others as Wicked. Others have Rhyme or Reason. (And there is a blend of each in the worlds, too. Your Nonsense world can also be Wicked, for instance.)

I really enjoyed reading this book. If it was lacking anything (which I’m not sure it was), it would have been more time spent in the various worlds. Instead, we spend all of the present time on Earth in some unspecified modern time. We do get to see a little of the other worlds in memories or stories the kids tell, but we don’t really get to see into the other worlds. Ms. McGuire has done such a fascinating job describing them through the eyes of their children that it would be fun to see some scenes actually set in these other worlds. (Well, perhaps in a sequel, since I see that Goodreads believes this to be a series.)

Contrary to my expectations prior to starting to read, however, I did not find this book to be scary. Based on the blurb, I thought it would freak me out. It didn’t. Maybe I was too fascinated by the world? Or maybe given the possibilities of a Wicked world I was expecting more than what was written? There are a couple of kinda gruesome scenes. There are murders which happen in this book, after all. But they didn’t strike me as out of place in the world being created in the book, and were only mildly creepy instead of downright scary. (For the record, this did not alter my enjoyment of the book. It fit exactly what the tone of the rest of the story had set up.)

One thing that must be said about this book is that it is short. I don’t know if it is officially a novella, but it feels like either a novella or a short novel. It’s a very intense story, whatever its official length. It is packed with detail and character development and action. (Not action-movie-action, but action all the same.) I look forward to seeing where this world goes, if it is indeed the beginning of a new series.

Friday Reads ~ Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale

tithe-original-coverTithe: A Modern Faerie Tale
2016 Book Challenge: a book set in high school
by Holly Black
(fantasy, YA)

Okay. So this isn’t exactly set in high school, but kinda. There’s a scene at a high school, the main character and all her friends are high school age, and a big fuss is made over the main character dropping out (even though it happens before this book starts), so I’m counting it.

I picked this book up because it sounded neat. A modern faerie tale? Yes please! Plus, I had read Holly’s Spiderwick Chronicles and enjoyed them, so I figured this one was a good choice. And I was right! I enjoyed reading it, and found myself caught up in the character development and plotlines. There were a few twists, too. Some of them I saw coming, others I did not.

To be honest, when I first started reading the book I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it. It starts (after the opening scenes, anyway) with our school-aged heroine out past the time when her grandmother thinks she should be in bed, climbing into abandoned buildings, smoking, and getting accosted by the boyfriend of her best friend. (Nothing too bad, but he makes unwanted advances.) While I will grant you that I was a prude in high school (and like it or not some of that sticks around later in life) I wasn’t sure that this kind of heroine was someone I wanted to read a whole book about. However, I’m glad I kept going. While Kaye does continue to behave consistently with the way she started the book, her actions are tempered a bit by what happens in the land of faerie and what she finds out.

Without going into spoiler territory, I will say that Kaye does some dumb things. A few of them are REALLY dumb things. Not unexpected for a teenager, but there were some things I rolled my eyes at. (Again, not unexpected for a teenager.) It was completely believable behavior, mind. I can’t say I wouldn’t have behaved similarly at her age. I also have to say that her faerie friends acted how I would expect faeries to act. (Her faerie enemies did, as well.) It was interesting to see how her human friends and family acted and reacted to the faeries, and the character interactions are what makes me curious about the rest of the series.

Is this one worth reading? Yes. It won’t be for everyone, because some people won’t be able to get past Kaye’s or her mother’s initial actions, or be able to accept faeries as something other than cute, happy, friendly beings. However, if it sounds like an interesting book and you’re okay with the more traditional take on faeries you should certainly give it a try.

Friday Reads: An Artificial Night

cover_aanAn Artificial Night: October Daye #3
2016 Book Challenge: a book with magic

by Seanan McGuire
(urban fantasy)

This is the third book in the October Daye series, and I’m starting to have a harder time of classifying them for this challenge. Since they’re all (so far) set in the same place and with the same basic character set, they tend to fill the same categories as the ones before, and no new ones. So for this book, I’m using a category I had been saving for when a book didn’t fit anything else – “a book with magic”. That describes most of the books I read. Oh well. Maybe I’ll have to read more in this series without counting them towards the 2016 book challenge, unless I can come up with other categories where they fit.

Anyway, the book itself. Like the prior books, this one deals with Toby getting herself into trouble. And as usual, the trouble is not initially of her own making, but she causes it to be more trouble than it started out as. Parts of this book were rather predictable (unlike its predecessor which left me guessing a lot more), but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. I loved getting to see more depth to the old characters, and getting to meet new characters too. It will be interesting to see how much of the new characters we get to see in future books.

Without getting too spoilery: the trouble in this book is that the leader of the Wild Hunt has kidnapped the children of some of Toby’s friends. They as her to bring the kids back, so off she goes, even though it’s into some nightmarish lands facing one of the most powerful fae alive. (No one is surprised. Even though she hasn’t yet admitted it, everyone else – from the reader to the characters sending her on the mission – know she’s a Hero with a capital H.)

One of my favorite parts about this novel is the way nursery rhymes are used. I didn’t know all of them (and I suspect some of them may have been made up, or at least modified, for the purposes of the story). Still, I love seeing how authors use things we take for granted as “normal” and turn them into something different and magical.

I will certainly be continuing this series. I love the character development and the plots of the books. My only complaint is that once I get about 1/3 of the way through, I have a VERY hard time putting the books down. Makes it hard to get back to work, since I do a lot of my reading on my lunch breaks at the office…

Ten On Tuesday ~ Stop, Drop, and Read

The Ten On Tuesday prompt for Tuesday, April 12, 2016 is a special one in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday and Drop Everything and Ready Day: 10 Books That Made YOU Want to Drop Everything and Read.
Have fun!

Well… this should be both easy and hard. There are a lot of books that make me want to drop everything and read. Too many for me to remember them all. I will start with the ones I know are on this list, and will then move on to books that I think are on this list. Just know that the list is, in truth, much longer than the Ten on Tuesday format allows, and also longer than my memory will furnish.

  1. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire – this one is one of the books I read most recently. It is one I intended to read during dinner only, and then I was supposed to put the book down and work on cleaning up for Easter. Instead, I didn’t put the book down until I was finished with it around midnight.
  2. Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire – this is the book which follows A Local Habitation in the October Daye series, and I haven’t picked it up to read yet because I’m afraid I’ll run into the same problem I had with its predecessor. I’ll probably start reading it some weekend when I have no other plans.
  3. Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey – this is one of my favorite books, and it doesn’t matter how many times I read it, I never seem to want to put it down.
  4. Indexing: Reflections by Seanan McGuire – (I’m sensing a theme here…) I enjoyed this book so much that I didn’t want it to stop. It was an audiobook version, though, so it wasn’t as easy to drop everything to read (aka listen to) it. On the other hand, I could listen to it while doing other things, so “dropping everything” wasn’t as necessary.
  5. The Girl Genius series of graphic novels by Phil & Kaja Foglio – I really enjoy these, and have a habit of devouring the books.
  6. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross – I don’t remember for sure that it was this first book in the Steampunk Chronicles that I couldn’t put down, but I know the I had that problem with at least one of the books in the series. Odds are good that it was book 1.
  7. The Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffrey – another favorite series that I can read over and over again and still have trouble putting down.
  8. Last Girl Dancing by Holly Lisle – this was my favorite of Lisle’s paranormal thrillers, and I really enjoy it. The “drop everything and read” aspect of this one is mostly related to the thriller part – I have trouble putting down highly suspenseful books like this.
  9. Smoke and Mirrors by Tanya Huff – this was not my favorite of the Smoke series, but it was the hardest to put down. Here we go back to the suspense aspect of #8 on this list again. I tend to read books that creep me out REALLY QUICKLY (assuming that I finish them at all). (Side note: both #8 and #9 are books that I greatly enjoy, so creeping me out is not always a bad thing, even though I am NOT generally a fan of horror movies.)
  10. Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong – this is one of my favorites of the Otherworld series, though I couldn’t tell you for sure which one is my favorite. (It varies day to day, though it would be one of the books narrated by either Paige or Jaime. They’re my favorite narrators.) Because of the pacing of this book, it’s the one I’m most likely to have trouble putting down. However, once I start reading the series, it’s hard to put the SERIES down. So if I go to re-read one, I’d better be prepared to re-read several (if not all) of the series.

Okay, well, it looks like I didn’t have to guess after all. How about you? Are there any books which make you want to drop everything and read?

Friday Reads ~ A Local Habitation

cover_alhA Local Habitation (October Daye #2)
2016 Book Challenge: a book set in your hometown
by Seanan McGuire
(urban fantasy, mystery elements)

I started reading this book over lunch at work one day. I loved the first one, so I expected to love the second. By the time my lunch break was over, I was enjoying the book, but not hooked. So the next day, I figured it would be safe to read it while I ate dinner, and then I’d still have plenty of time to clean up for Easter after dinner. Not so. I didn’t put the book down until I had reached the end, somewhere around midnight. So – yes, I loved this book, too. I was more of a mystery/thriller than the first one, and I knew from very early on that we had already met the killer… but figuring out who was a lot harder. I was able to piece together little bits of it before Toby figured it out, but not the whole picture.

The characters were partially ones we met in book one, partially new to this book, and all enjoyable to read. Even the annoying characters were annoying in an enjoyable way. That seems kinda weird, now that I have written it down. But you know how sometimes you read a book and a character annoys you because you know someone just like that? It’s that kind of situation. The characters were believable, or at least as believable as they can be when they have wings and magic.

About the plot: the basic premise is that Fremont is a little tiny faerie county sandwiched between two larger ones (one of those being the fae equivalent of the East Bay and the other being San Jose), which is run by the niece of the duke in the East Bay. When he loses contact with her, he wants to find out what’s going on. However, he can’t go visit without the ruler of the San Jose fae thinking he’s trying to invade, so he sends Toby instead. When she gets there, she discovers that people are being killed, and if she doesn’t find out who, she might be next. (Toby stays because her liege asked her to find and help his niece, but she does at least call for backup. She’s not stupid, just occasionally reckless.) It is a fun plot, though it took a little longer to get set up than the first one. Not in such a way that the beginning’s boring, though. It just moves slower at the beginning of the book than it does at any point in the rest of it.

I will say that I’m glad this is an established series, because that means I have lots of books to read in this world before I run out. And I love the way Seanan McGuire writes; she is quickly becoming my new favorite author. Also, I still love reading about the San Francisco Bay Area; I have lived here most of my life, and it’s so much fun to read about “home”.