Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sci-fi Summer Reading Challenge Wrap-up

The Sci-fi Summer Reading Challenge was hosted by Rachelle @ Fortified by Books. My goal for this challenge was to read 6 Sci-fi books, but I ended up reading 11... making me a Jedi!

Don't you dare steal my books!

Of these, my favorite ended up being Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (even though I didn't expect it to be that good). My least favorite was The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny, which was a bit too heavy on the romance side of things (and even then, not my kind of romance). I read 11 books and managed to review 6 of them (though, sometime in the future I hope to get around to more of them). Here are my reviews:

Wild Seed (Patternmaster #1) by Octavia E. Butler
Rating: 4 Stars

"Restoree" by Anne McCaffrey
Rating: 3 Stars

"Tuf Voyaging" by George R.R. Martin
Rating: 4 Stars

"Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster #2)" by Octavia E. Butler
Rating: 4 Stars

"A Fall of Moondust" by Arthur C. Clarke
Rating: 3 Stars

"The End of the World Running Club" by Adrian J. Walker
Rating: 3 Stars

I think I ended up reading a lot more than I had anticipated due to my legs being so difficult to walk with. And, I think to a certain extent, the fact that I'm struggling with that may have affected the rating of some of the books. But overall, if it wasn't enjoyable for me and I didn't find anything of great importance in it, I rated it lower, as I always do.

Which books have you enjoyed reading the most this summer?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fortnightly Update #19: A Syrinx-le in Time

In the past two weeks, I've again been busy with my own health issues- books and blogging haven't really been my priority. I'm grateful it's nearing the end of the growing season here, because although I love my flowers and plants, with my weird walking it's been difficult to get out and water all my flower containers.

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

the-pile Additions:

None (yet- I have two orders of books coming soon-ish).

the-invisible-pile Additions:

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin
I think this was a Kindle Daily Deal- N.K. Jemisin is an author I plan on reading before 2016 is over- despite my procrastination. I have three of her books, now, and I've heard lots of buzz about this one in particular.

Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1) by Octavia E. Butler
As I am obsessed with all things written by Octavia E. Butler this year, I added this one to my collection- it was also on sale at one point.

The Red Record by Ida B. Wells-Barnett
This was (briefly) a freebie for Kindle. This is a report on the prolific lynchings of African Americans in the late 1800s, a travesty which was unfortunately carried through well into the next century. As I haven't read much on the subject nonfiction wise, I figured this would be a good place to start.

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
I became interested in this memoir after I saw it took place in Jerusalem, and it sounded interesting as well. I don't think I've heard of this one before seeing it as a Kindle Daily Deal, but I'm always looking for memoirs of people whose experiences in life differ from my own. It is a Kindle Daily Deal for today.

Currently Reading:

I was in a really (really) bad mood yesterday when I started this one, but it managed to cheer me up somewhat, and I got 37% through in one sitting. It's charming, and the main character, Sophie, also undergoes trials that result in her using a cane some of the time. I watched the movie version of this, but I didn't recall much about it, so perhaps that's in my favor.

Finished These Books:

Ravished by Amanda Quick
Oddly enough, both of the historical romances I've read recently have heroes with scars who are semi-reclusive. Both Romancing the Duke and Ravished have similar heroines as well. I kind of felt like I read the same book twice. They were both good, but I don't prefer one or the other off of the top of my head.

This one didn't quite match the greatness of Fifth Quarter, but it was still a good read- it had some of the characters from Sing the Four Quarters as well. Overall, I think it just wasn't quite as cohesive as the last two due to the expansive cast of characters, which didn't allow for as much banter as the other two books provided.

As I mentioned, this one is similar to Ravished, with a more fairytale-ish twist to it. I was a bit disappointed with the portrayal of the hero, who doesn't have most of his vision most of the time, and also suffers pains similar to the ones I have from occipital neuralgia. Because he's spent so much time in seclusion in a castle, he knows his way around. However, the author didn't seem to address what happens when he goes outside of the castle when he can't see. I was also anticipating a few stumbles here and there- I've lived in my house for 3 years, and I still stub my toe on things/run into them in the dark. I guess I don't expect my romances to be "realistic", but it would've been nice if those things were addressed.

In the Blogosphere:

I, again, have been neglecting the blogosphere, instead looking up things about spines so I'm somewhat educated on the subject before I visit with my next series of doctors.

In My Life: (A Syrinx-le in Time)

Sunset from my back window
My cervical and thoracic MRI results came back and I was a bit shocked when my doctor announced they'd actually revealed something. My syrinx, which I mentioned last time, and my previous neurologist told me wouldn't be an issue, has grown at least twice its size. I used to have it just in my cervical spinal cord (if I recall right), but now it's almost to the end of my thoracic region. I can't exactly recall the reasoning behind it, but because of my new syrinx growth and neurological issues, a neurologist who was previously beyond the reach of my insurance now deigns to see me. In addition, they want to send me down to Salt Lake City's University of Utah Hospital because my spine's weird (for lack of a better reason). Currently, I have an appointment early next month for the in town neurologist, but we haven't yet heard from U of U (my doctor said it might take a few weeks).

The ice water on my parade part of this is, although the neuro in town isn't a syrinx/weird spine expert, he doesn't think my spastic legs have anything to do with my syrinx. Of course, he could be wrong. But I desperately want to walk without a cane/bounciness/falling again, and it irks me that the one (major) apparent thing wrong with me might not reveal the cause/cure for my walking. In addition to my newly expanded syrinx, I also have a small disk extrusion in my thoracic spine that's indenting my spinal cord. All of the things they've found on the MRI seem to have more to do with the pins and needles feeling I have in my feet and hands than my walking.

Due to all of the above, I may not be posting as frequently as I would like to in the future. I'm not sure if the doctors will say, "This is what you have, this is what to expect, here's some more pills for your troubles," or dismiss my symptoms as unrelated, or recommend something else entirely. Unlike my paranormal/fictional counterparts, I have no accurate predictions of the future, though I'm sure I'll still be reading books.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Early Critique: "Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)" by Ilona Andrews

Note: This review has a few spoilers for those of you who are new to or behind on this series. My review of the first book, Magic Bites, is here.

Disclaimer: I was given a free advance e-copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My opinion remains as forthright as ever.

Expected Publication: September 20th

Kate and company have overcome immense obstacles throughout the course of this series, but the one who has always loomed largest is Roland, the god-like magician. Kate has always assumed she would face him singlehandedly, but along the way she has picked up allies and even friends in her quest to rid the world of his presence. In the previous book I noted I was growing somewhat fond of him, but he (yet again) reveals his true colors in this book.

The ingredients to the perfect Kate Daniels book haven't changed: there must be sarcasm, prolific action scenes, mysterious mythological elements, and the secret sauce that is the wonderfully exuberant cast of characters to hasten things along. Despite a seemingly impervious group of friends surrounding her, her relationships do suffer with the growth of her power and influence- friendships I hadn't believed would falter did. I was a bit disappointed in several characters as a result of that, which might be why I didn't enjoy this one as much as some of the others in the series.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…
'Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…
'Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.
'The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…'

In my Magic Shifts review, I mentioned Kate and Curran having to deal with the consequences of their actions all by their lonesome- and that theme expands in this book. With a wedding to plan, and Kate being not keen on wedding planning, you get to see some fascinating displays of procrastination that even veteran procrastinators (such as myself) can admire. Kate has always had tomboyish tendencies that clash with the impending festivities, giving lightness to a book that is on the darker end of the spectrum with some of its plot elements.

Making this book more complex is the choices Kate must make by herself, that may affect the future in a myriad of ways. I don't envy Kate's role in this book, as she must confront her fears, and her past, in order to envision a new future for herself, even if it means sacrificing something she loves. True to her character, she rises to the occasion, but I felt concerned about events that may or may not come to pass in the next book.

In addition to all the drama listed above, we also have a returning character I was a bit ambivalent about, given the role they played previously. I did a recent reread of this series and became even more opposed to the return of this character, because some of what they did previously doesn't make much sense with how they're acting now. However, I think this may lead to some developments in the next book, as there are many plot threads yet to be woven together for Book #10.

Magic Binds is preparing us for one hell of a finale, which might be why I hesitate to give it five stars. It ends on a semi-cliffhanger, making you eager to read the next volume of Kate and Curran's adventures, which you will have to wait (likely another year) to read. Nonetheless, this installment should prove curative to those Kate and Curran fanatics who require a fix- myself included.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for exceptional displays of urban fantasy badassery and snark!

Age Advisory: Ages 18+ for the usual Kate Daniels mix of violence against mythological beings and foul mouthed epithets.

Page Count: 384 pages
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