Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fortnightly Update #35: George's Obsession

I've had a fairly productive reading streak in the past two weeks, but apparently my book buying streak was more impressive because that took me much longer to put together. I usually don't feel compelled to buy books (and I'm usually very picky about what I buy), but there were some on sale that I simply couldn't resist.

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

the-pile Additions:

Marked in Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop
I ordered this because I noticed it was relatively low priced in paperback and I'm really excited to continue this series. My favorite of the Others series continues to be the first one, Written in Red, though.

The Innkeeper Chronicles, Volume One (Innkeeper Chronicles #1-3) by Ilona Andrews, Doris Mantair (Illustrator)
Earlier this year Ilona Andrews made pre-orders available for a special edition of The Innkeeper Chronicles that was signed and numbered and had exclusive illustrations in it. Since I've begun to collect special edition or signed copies by my favorite authors, I couldn't pass it up- I called it my third blogiversary gift to myself (I honestly still can't believe I've been blogging for that long!).

the-invisible-pile Additions:

Beauty (Folktales) by Robin McKinley
I think I've read this before, but I'm not completely sure- Robin McKinley wrote another Beauty and the Beast inspired tale that I read long ago, and my book memory pre-blog is a bit foggy. Anyway, I decided it would be nice to have it to read again.

The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick
I read one of Amanda Quick's historical romances before, and I enjoyed it, so hopefully I'll like this one just as much.

The Alabaster Hip (The Regency Romp Trilogy #3) by Maggie Fenton
I am a big fan of this trilogy (and I haven't even finished it yet!). This author started out self-publishing The Duke's Holiday, which got high marks from me early in my blogging career (and I do think I've reread it at least once). The trilogy was later picked up by a publisher. So far, my favorite is the first book, but this one could change that.

The Drowning Season by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman is pretty much an auto-buy author for me (as long as it's cheap enough and I still have book money). This sounds similar to many of her other books- a family drama. But of course, you can't judge a book by its blurb.

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure by Rachel Friedman
This sounded too much like a great summer book for me to pass on it- I can't recall reading any travel memoirs, so this one will be my first.

Sarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutherfurd
Of course, though I've not read a 500+ page book this year, I had to buy another one- this is historical fiction. I hope it lives up to its ratings!

Graphic Novel/Comic Haul:

Marvel 1602 (Marvel 1602 #1-8) by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert (Illustrator), Richard Isanove (Digital Painter)
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal (Ms. Marvel, Volume III & IV #1) by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona (Artist)
Black Panther by Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1 (Black Panther, Volume III) by Christopher J. Priest
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1 (Black Panther, Volume VII: A Nation Under Our Feet #1) by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze (Artist), Laura Martin (Colourist), Joe Sabino (Letterer), Manny Mederos (Designer), Rian Hughes (Logo Designer), Jack Kirby (Writer, Artist)
I wanted to try out some superhero comics and I ended up buying 5 graphic novels (some of which I've already read). Apparently there was a special deal on Marvel comics, and I bought so many on Amazon that I qualified for a free one. For my freebie, I chose Black Panther by Christopher Priest- it sounds like the other Black Panther I bought (A Nation Under Our Feet) almost requires some Black Panther background reading, so hopefully that will get me more informed. In case you didn't know, there's a Black Panther movie coming out in 2018, and the trailer makes me want to see it in theatres:

Currently Reading:

I'm not sure what I'm going to read next, but I have The Fire's Stone on my Kindle's homepage and a book by Tanya Huff sounds like just what I need right now. 

Finished These Books:

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
Unfortunately, this one won't be getting high praise from me- although the plot kept me engaged and guessing, I felt like most other things were lacking, especially the ending. However, if you're a fan of contemporary fiction I wouldn't let my rating discourage you- I much prefer SFF and historical fiction to their modern day equivalent.

Mockingbird, Vol. 1: I Can Explain (Mockingbird (2016-) (Single Issues) #1) by Chelsea Cain (Goodreads Author), Kate Niemczyk (Illustrations)
Mockingbird, Vol. 2: My Feminist Agenda (Mockingbird (2016) #2) by Chelsea Cain (Goodreads Author) (Text), Kate Niemczyk (Illustrations), Joëlle Jones (Cover Artist)
I had a pretty big shock when I finished the second in this series, My Feminist Agenda, and rated it five stars- apparently, I've had no other books worthy of the rating this year. And no, I don't consider myself a huge fan of comic books, either. I feel a bit sad though- this series was cancelled, and when the second book came out initially, I recall the boy nerds throwing a tantrum because of the F word in its title. To be honest, the author presents the heroine (Bobbi) in the same manner many other of my favorite authors do- she's capable, she can take care of herself, and yes, she's human and makes mistakes. These two books showed me that yes, I can be a fan of comic books with superheroes in them.

Well, it seems like tradition that every summer I read a Dresden Files book, so I've already met my quota. I'm nearing the end of my stockpile, as I only have Dead Beat, the next in the series, on my Kindle, so I'm going to hold off on reading it until my Dresden Files stockpile is replenished. I always like to have an extra book by authors I like on hand just in case I want/need to read something by them.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
This one is an inch away from five stars- it was that amazing. However, I did feel like some elements of the story, particularly the interpersonal relationships, were handled somewhat lightly, so that was the only reason I couldn't quite click the fifth star on Goodreads. Given that the relationships in this book were almost half of the plot, that mattered. Still, this is an intensely magical book that I highly recommend. I hope to get around to reviewing it, but if not- it's about half historical fiction and half fantasy, which makes it a heady combo for someone who loves both genres (AKA me).

In My Life: (George's Obsession)

There were no moose lingering near the house in the past two weeks, but I have been busy doing things outside- my mom bought a raised bed for us to garden in because we're both tired of pulling weeds out of the rather clay-like soil. Most of the flowers/minion army I planted in March are now blooming or beginning to bloom. The schizanthus is probably the most exciting (for me) to see, as I've never planted it before, initially thought I killed it, but now they're rather gorgeous. Schizanthus like cool weather and partial shade and according to garden websites, Canadians like them (due to cold hardiness, perhaps?).

I think our "blood thirsty roses" are actually climbing roses, but they have nothing to climb at the moment except passersby. Hence the blood thirsty-ness.

George, meanwhile, has become obsessed with our visitor- my grandma is visiting our house for the first time, and George is enamored with her. George has always been a friendly cat- he likes visitors, but he usually greets them, then runs off to nap or starts biting their hand (because he's true to the inexplicable nature of cats). When he met my grandma, he jumped into her lap and started rubbing against her- he was love-"mauling" her so much I had to ask if she was wearing catnip perfume (she wasn't). If Leia, Torrie, my mom, and I didn't like George so much, I'm pretty sure we'd send him back with my grandma, who lives in assisted living (and they allow pets, thank goodness). Apparently, almost-91 year olds are George's people. Sadly, this almost-25 year old is going to keep him from his true love.

Happy (Almost Summer) Reading!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

"The Emperor's Soul" by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul is a novella set in the same world as Elantris, which was my first Brandon Sanderson novel- it's been so long since I've read it that I could scarcely tell you what it was about. And now I really want to reread Elantris, but that's a review for another day- The Emperor's Soul was the type of writing of Sanderson's that I love. You get absorbed into a different world with unusual magic, all while trying to figure out how Shai will get herself out of her sticky situation.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.
'Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.
'Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.
'Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.'

The magic in this book is a system of forging by way of stamping an object with a seal. Shai happens to be the best Forger (in convenient reach) for the sect of people who back the Emperor to employ, so she ends up being hired for the job with a somewhat impossible timeline. Interestingly though, I didn't feel the sense of urgency for her to complete the job- I think I'm a bit comfortable with Sanderson's writing, and thus can easily guess some of the twists or how the book will go (especially when it's short in length).

Shai, while an interesting heroine, probably didn't grab my attention like she should have. Because of her work, she seemed somewhat lacking in other respects (i.e. past and personality), and I felt like I didn't really know her, or that she could've been replaced with any other generic heroine and I wouldn't have even noticed. Still, I think the main strength in this book is the worldbuilding and magic, which kept me more alert than any of the other aspects.

The Emperor's Soul is a great short read for those who'd like to get acquainted with Brandon Sanderson's worldbuilding. However, it didn't quite show some of his other strengths (i.e. characterization and suspense) that I've grown to expect. Once you have a favorite book of an author's, every other book you read by them comes under closer scrutiny, and I think that's the case with this book- it's great, and probably better than many other 3.5 Star rating books I've read, but for Mr. Sanderson, it's just a solid 3.5 Stars book.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a small taste of Mr. Sanderson's talents.

Age Advisory: Ages 16+ for violence, dark magic, and moral gray areas.

Page Count: 175 pages

Thursday, June 8, 2017

"The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)" by Renee Ahdieh

I'd read several reviews that rated this book highly before I even put it on my watchlist because I'm very picky about young adult books, I tend to be disappointed by some of the highly rated YA books, and really, I tend to like adult books better. But the reviews were such that I convinced myself this one would be okay, as it had fantasy and romance and I tend to like that combination.

Initially, I liked it- the author has a wondrous way with words, Shahrzad is independent minded and bent on revenge, and the other characters (other than Khalid) were fairly likable, too. The atmosphere in this book was the best part of it for me- I'm a fan of Gothic romances, and this seems to follow in that tradition. You may see where this review is going- I liked some of the book, but I did have some major issues with the rest of it.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'One Life to One Dawn.
'In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.
'Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
'Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.'

I noticed someone comparing Khalid to Edward (of Twilight fame), and really, that's too kind of a comparison in my book. If Joffrey weren't so spoiled and single-minded- that is Khalid in my opinion. I can't discuss much in this review because I think more than a few people may go on to read it, but I felt like Shahrzad's spine dissolved after about two days in the palace (another highly disappointing part of the book for me). The love story failed to make me believe in it, and given that's core to this book, well- it's no mystery why I didn't like it.

Another issue I had with this book- although I tend to forgive most historical novels for keeping the heroine relatively secluded, not much happens with Shahrzad in this book. She pretty much kicks around the palace for most of it. The palace, while intriguing at first, bored me. Shahrzad is queen- that much is true, but I felt this book would've been better served with more action and less introspection/storytelling.

The Wrath and the Dawn is a lavishly written book that failed to impress me with its "love story". While I'm sure many people will find this book more than palatable, it didn't sit right with me, so I won't be recommending it unless you like hot, brooding boy kings. I may end up reading the second in the duology because I bought both for my Kindle, and though I scoff at the main love story, there is a secondary one that interests me.

Rating: 2 of 5 Stars for a fairy tale retelling that failed to spellbind me.

Age Advisory: Ages 16+ for cut scene sex (you don't read it, but you know it's there), violence, and murder.

Page Count: 395 pages

Sunday, June 4, 2017

SFF: The 5 Books You Read When You Require a Complete Reality Escape

Sunday Fun Five #76:

A Countdown of

The 5 Books You Read When You Require a Complete Reality Escape

5. The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
Normally, when you think of a reality escape, you don't generally think of historical fiction books- but The Samurai's Garden is such a beautifully written, tranquil book that I couldn't keep myself from adding it.

4. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
I pretty much love this book, but it still didn't make my five star reads. I think this was my first major urban fantasy book, and another building block in my obsession with vampires.

3. My Man Jeeves (Jeeves #1) by P.G. Wodehouse
Jeeves and Wooster make for the perfect reality escape by getting into sticky situations that often result in a humorous outcome.

2. Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones
This book made me happy when I was in a snarly mood, so I would consider this a fairly potent reality escape/mood tamer.

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy #1) by Douglas Adams
For me, this is the ultimate reality escape because it's set off-planet (or at least some of it). Nothing like zany space adventures to keep reality at bay.

Which books are your favorite escape from reality? 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Month in Review for May 2016: Feeling the Heat

Leia the black and gray terrier with her purple collar on, overseeing the potted Minion army.
Things are finally (finally!) warming up here in Idaho, which is nice because there were far too many cold snaps for my liking. My plant minions (especially the coleus) had a major setback during the colder times in April, despite being on the porch, which usually shields them from cold fairly well. My alyssum and linaria are blooming, but the rest of my planted from seed plants are a bit slower to bloom.

 Total Posts: 6
  Total Critiques: 1
    Urban Fantasy: 1
    Part of a Series: 1

Most Popular Posts of the Past Month:
SFF: The 5 Books That Remind You of Star Wars
Year 2: The Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge

Flashback Post (From a Previous Year):
"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

Pageviews for the Month: 2014
Comments: 17

Reading Challenges Updates:

I'm not currently doing any reading challenges, but I'm excited for the upcoming Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge!

Reading Stats:

Books read this Month: 9

Book Stats:
Has a Diverse Main Character: 3
Doesn't Have a Diverse MC: 6
Female Main Character: 8
Male Main Character: 1
Pair and/or Group of Female/Male Main Characters: 0
 Classic/Mystery: 1
 Fantasy: 1
 Fantasy Romance: 1
 Nonfiction: 1
 Historical Romance: 4
 Urban Fantasy: 1
Published in 2017: 0
Published in 2000-2016: 7
Published in 1990s: 1
Published in 1900s: 1
Self-Published, Small Press, or Other: 1
Traditionally Published: 8
Series Books: 5
Standalones: 3
Ebook Version: 9
Paper Version: 0
Favorite of the Month: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson (my high point of the month at 3.5 Stars O_o)
Least Favorite of the Month: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, because I had such high hopes for it but the romance just didn't work for me.
Most Interesting of the Month (or Book I Learned the Most From): The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives by Theresa Brown- through this, I saw a bit more of the nurse's perspective, and it was a bit frightening, to be honest.
From the-pile: 0
From the-invisible-pile: 5
Recently acquired: 3
Added to the-invisible-pile: 9
Books bought: 2
Pages Read in 2017 Thus Far (according to Goodreads): 8953 pages

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

Author Stats (1 = 1 book read by x author):
Male: 2
Female: 7
Male/Female Team: 0
Diverse: 1
Not-so-Diverse: 8
Living: 8
Deceased: 1

Planning to Read This Month:

June 20th is the start date for the Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge, so I'll be focusing on my piled-scifi books then, if not my ARCs of Hello Sunshine and Age of Swords, which I also plan to read prior to their publication.

Upcoming Posts:

I want to review both The Wrath & the Dawn and The Emperor's Soul, but it depends on how much energy I'll have this month/what's going on with me. I hope you all have a wonderful, book-filled June!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fortnightly Update #34: A City Moose

Well, it's been an eventful two weeks for me. Last Sunday, I spent most of the day on the porch doing "Moosewatch" because we had a young moose in the neighborhood. In case you didn't know, I live in a smaller city that is in the mountains, but in a neighborhood in the more protected inner area of the city. I've never seen a deer in my neighborhood, but for whatever reason there was a moose that decided it was the place to be. The moose left a souvenir of its visit about a foot from my fence, in the neighbor's yard, luckily enough. The moose was being chased by a Fish and Game officer, who hid behind our pickup to watch it, as the moose moved anytime it'd seen him prior.

The moose hiding behind a chainlink fence under a pine tree

As we live so far in the city, they decided to tranquilize the moose and move it back to a more appropriate habitat. The moose was scared into the house's backyard by a combination of my neighbors coming home from church (and not realizing there was a moose across the road), as well as the nearby railyard having sounds of trains clanking together (altogether unnatural sounding). Once the man with the tranquilizer gun arrived, the Fish and Game guy and he managed to get a shot of the moose. The moose ran a block before getting woozy and being taken back to the wilderness, where she belonged.

The moose getting agitated by the sound of the train nearby
Since summer is upon us again, I'm going to be annoying and re-iterate my wilderness tips:

     -Do not approach wild animals (especially bears, coyotes, wolves, deer, bison, and moose- the latter three can trample you with ease).

     -Do not turn your back to a wild animal to take a selfie (just not that great of idea, unless you have someone else take the picture and you're way far from the animal [with large obstacles between you and the animal], like I was).

     -If you're hiking in the wilderness, attach bells to you and your dogs (it's a good idea to keep dogs on leash for safety- if they charge an animal, who knows what will happen) and pack bear spray (and know how to use it). Always take more than you think you'll need as far as food, water, and protective clothing, as even experienced hikers get lost or have medical emergencies. If you plan on going hiking alone, tell someone where you plan to go and when you're coming back.

     -Know the fire restrictions for the area you plan to go to and respect them. Also, many/most campgrounds require dogs to be on leashes, so bring a long leash if you're camping.

If you want to see better pictures of moose and more rant-y wilderness tips, check out my Gone Camping post from 2015.

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

the-pile Additions:


the-invisible-pile Additions:


Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
Expected Publication Date: July 11th
I got an email promoting this book and accidentally clicked the NetGalley link, which basically adds it to your pile on NetGalley. Although initially, I thought this was a light YA book, it appears to be written for adults and is about a woman losing her job and her husband in one day (from scandal because she's a YouTube star). I think it would be interesting to see what booktubers think of it, as it's being billed as "In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age." I'm reading/reviewing it just to keep my perfect reputation on NetGalley, though I admit it does sound interesting.

Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire #2) by Michael J. Sullivan
Expected Publication Date: July 25th
I read Age of Myth last year not expecting much but being surprised by the strong heroines and a well planned out fantasy world. I'm excited to read this one and was glad when I got approved for it.

Currently Reading:

Nothing- but I need a palate cleanser after The Wrath & the Dawn.

Finished These Books:

I wanted to love this one- I tried to make myself love it! I thought I was a-okay with most problematic heroes like Khalid, so Khalid would be no problem for me. Well, I was wrong. Because I didn't believe/feel the relationship between Shahrzad and Khalid, it pretty much ruined the book for me. And Shahrzad was my favorite until she kept being so strange. This was YA, which I didn't think would be a problem for me given the content, but it kind of was because I feel like teenage best friends are pretty much the most inseparable kind of best friend.

The Emperor's Soul (Elantris) by Brandon Sanderson (the Benevolent)
This wasn't "Diet Sanderson" like I felt Legion was, so I liked it better, but I prefer his big books. I feel like if I could choose between a 200 page book by Sanderson and an unedited 2000 page monster by Sanderson, I'd go with the 2000 page monster. It's just how I read.

A New/Old Challenge:

Rachelle @ Fortified By Books is hosting her Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge, again. If you like reading sci-fi, it's worth your while to join.

In My Life (A "High" Voltage SSEP):

I did my SSEP (Somatosensory Evoked Potential) test, which I was kind of anxious about due to not having that much info about it. Basically, they hook you up to EEG-like sensors (think stickers on your head) as well as nerve conduction type sensors on your arms and legs. For me, it didn't hurt much (it felt like I was being stuck with small push pins), though the tech was having trouble as they'd changed over to some type of newer system. The tech and her trainee eventually got my thumbs to twitch, but they were having an awful time trying to get my big toes to twitch, so they had to call in whoever knew how to work with electrically malfunctioning people like myself. As the original tech tried to adjust my sensor on my feet, she shocked herself and was a bit confused as to why I couldn't feel the electricity in my big toe (apparently I was on higher voltage).

When the expert of SSEPs came in, he wanted to adjust the sensors again and had the original tech turn the voltage off. When he bent to adjust it, I warned him it was still on (it doesn't turn off immediately), but he touched the lead anyway, getting jolted just like the original tech. The trainee hopefully took note to wait awhile before touching the leads. The "expert" of SSEPs told me I was the perfect SSEP patient because I didn't tense up during the exam (I guess you can't be tense). In terms of nerve pain, the SSEP felt like an annoying fly, but not bad at all. I'm used to getting lightning pain in my arms and hands all the time, along with a fun burning pain that climbs my legs, so I guess I have learned to relax with pain because otherwise I would never relax.

Facebook Version
I planted almost everything from my "minion army" outside during the past weeks because we've had awesome weather. I also learned that I have seasonal allergies this year, which has only happened one year before a long time ago- my guess is the huge amount of snow and rain we've gotten has increased the pollen count for this year. Anyway, I can only be outside during specific times of the day, or I have a major headache and nose issues in addition to my glut of other medical issues. I'm hoping the SSEP results will lead to an answer rather than another series of tests, but who knows at this point.

If you read sci-fi, what's your favorite sci-fi book?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Year 2: The Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge

I joined this challenge, hosted by Rachelle @ Fortified By Books last year, and since I'm not doing any challenges yet this year, I decided to add one. Last year my goal was six books... but I ended up reading eleven! This year, I hope to read six sci-fi books during the challenge again, but not much more- I'm a bit slower at everything this year.

Challenge and Rules (From the Challenge Sign Up):

The challenge is from June 20th, the official first day of Summer, to the 21st of September (the day before the Autumnal Equinox).  Below are the levels:
  +Red Shirt – 1 to 5 books
  +Viper Pilot – 6 to 10 books
  +Jedi – 11 to 15 books
  +Time Lord – 16 or more books
Any book of at least 100 pages that is classified as Science Fiction, including any Sci-Fi subgenres, qualifies for this challenge.  That means audiobooks, physical books, ebooks, library books, free books, other borrowed books, anthologies, and graphic novels are all acceptable options.  You may also count any Sci-Fi book that counts towards another reading challenge.  The link-up for your reviews will open on June 20th and stay open until September 25th.
I actually started putting together lists of books I have yet to read in specific genres for this on Goodreads. In the case of science fiction, I made piled-scifi, a shelf with 34 books (although, I'm pretty sure I have more- I tend to not keep track of my book buying habits sometimes). In any case, I have plenty to choose from.

Which challenges are you participating in this summer?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fortnightly Update #33: May Flowers and a SEP

Technically, this is more of a monthly update because I skipped my last Fortnightly Update, but nonetheless I'll call it that. I won't be tempted to skip again next time, given how much I had to type up in terms of my invisible-pile acquisitions and my finished books. However, I'm happy to be on a reading spree rather than a drought, as it seems that most of this year has been a bit of a dry patch in terms of reading.

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

the-pile Additions:

Both of these books were from the Dollar Tree
The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell
This is historical fiction which I'm currently reading. I was initially attracted by the cover art and the mention of the author having penned Winter's Bone (I saw the film but never knew it was a book). It's one of those stories where a grandmother is telling the history to her grandchild, and it's interesting so far.

The Rebel Pirate (Renegades of the American Revolution) by Donna Thorland
I wasn't sure whether this one was historical fiction or historical romance, but it had me at the title and cover. I like books with pirate themes- perhaps because I know so little about pirates, sailing, and the ocean that I can put down my critic's monocle and simply read for fun. From the reviews, it sounds more like historical romance.

the-invisible-pile Additions:

Sister Light, Sister Dark (Great Alta #1) by Jane Yolen
This is actually an older YA novel by Jane Yolen, who wrote Briar Rose. Since I liked Briar Rose, I picked it up to add to my hoard of older fantasy that features prophecies and the like.

Time and Again by Clifford D. Simak
A while ago, I read Way Station which impressed me enough that I'm on the lookout for more of Simak's work. Time and Again features sci-fi and time travel.

Traitor's Blade (Greatcoats #1) by Sebastien de Castell
About three years ago I wanted to read this book, but due to the Amazon/Hachette feud (remember that?) the price for the Kindle version was $27. I finally declared victory by snagging it as a Kindle Daily Deal.

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson
This is a middle grade book by Brandon Sanderson. Of course I had to have it!

Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen
Another book by Jane Yolen, but this one is a first contact story featuring aliens who center themselves around death and grieving. It won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for 1985.

Tales of Wonder by Jane Yolen
In one of the Amazon reviews, it was described as a book of fairy tales for adults. Who can resist that?

Latest Humble Bundle (which I now call humbly-bundly in my Goodreads tags):

Super Nebula Author Showcase
There are many books, novellas, and comics available in this bundle- as per usual, I chose the $1+ bundle. The most exciting thing to me in the entire thing was a cookbook (Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook) that featured a recipe for pineapple fried rice which Octavia E. Butler apparently liked. I love fried rice and pineapple, but I've never eaten pineapple fried rice before (which I'll soon be remedying). I won't be listing the titles but definitely check the bundle out if you're a fan of sci-fi and fantasy.

Currently Reading:

The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell
I'm not very far in yet, but it is interesting.

Finished These Books:

A lot of romance authors would've avoided or tastelessly dealt with one of the core, spoilery issues in this book, but somehow Sabrina Jeffries wrote it in such a way that I had no complaints. This is a bit darker than your average historical romance, so tread on to lighter books if you prefer them.

This historical romance was on the verge of fantasy, but I liked it anyways. A shopgirl rescues a duke from death, which somehow leads to her inadvertently being assumed to be his fiancée. As you can imagine, some absurdities ensued.

I read the Kindle preview for this and kept reading it until I had to sleep, finishing it the next day. Though it was gripping, from a patient's perspective it was a bit... disconcerting. Both of my grandmas, and my cousin happen to be nurses at different points in their life, so although I do empathize with Theresa's perspective, I feel like she almost wanted to make herself out to be this absolutely fantastic nurse (the pinnacle of nursedom, perhaps?). Life in hospitals is so much different from the patient's perspective that seeing the nurse's take was a bit worrying (because she so obviously favored people, even though they didn't necessarily need her help- to the point she didn't tend to her core job of medical care). To add to that sour feeling, she tended to go off on literary tangents that I felt had little to do with the story itself ("X book had this to say about X, and here's why I dis/liked that"). Every chapter, I began to look for a reference to an obscure book, poem, story, or essay, almost as a game, because she usually did add one. I feel like if she took those out and relied on her own voice, it would've been a much better book. That said, she had a doctorate in English prior to becoming a nurse, so maybe that's why she felt the need to add those. And I found myself wondering why she became a nurse when she had such an education?
Nonfiction is not my strong point, but I felt this book could've been a lot better with more edits.

There was a spoilery issue I had with this that had to do with the hero's conduct early in the book... which pretty much made the rest of it not so good for me.

I wrote a review for this one, but basically I didn't feel like the author made the elements of urban fantasy her own in such a short book, and I didn't like the characters all that much.

Violet (V #6) by Jane Feather
A historical romance with a strong heroine who acts more like a fantasy heroine, Violet was right up my alley. Given that I felt tempted to skim at times and some of the set up for the sex scenes was a bit outrageous, I had to rate this one three stars instead of any higher.

A mystery that was actually pretty good, but a bit on the long side of things. I was surprised at how much I guessed right, given how far out I thought my guesses to be. In other words, this is a bit nontraditional for a classic book.

Legion (Legion #1) and Skin Deep (Legion #2)* by Brandon Sanderson (the Benevolent)
I wrote a Twofer Review for these- basically, I prefer high fantasy Sanderson.

In a word, this one was trippy. It starts out like a normal mystery, but then devolves into pseudo-philosophy (which is not my strong suit). 

In My Life:

Oops.. phlox, not plox.

The weather has been up and down the thermometer lately- at the end of April, we had snow, which is unusual, and this Wednesday we are supposed to get more. I've been very impressed with the yard this year because although I haven't been able to do half of what I used to (trim hedges, fertilize roses, etc.). The fantastic PHlox has endured one snow shower without wilting, so we'll see how long it lasts.

I'm scheduled for a SEP, a Somatosensory Evoked Potential in about a week. I've done an EEG (a long time ago) and from what I read, this sounds similar, only trying to detect if signals/sensations from my feet/hands/etc. are being properly sent to my brain through my spine. It's another test they're attempting to rule out the syrinx with, but because I have so many unexplained symptoms from eyelash to toe (double vision, random muscle weakness, occasional tremor/spasms in my hands, and not to mention my fabulously unique walk), it may still take a while longer.

Happy Reading!

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