Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 2012 Wrap-Up

Here's a summary of my book-related activity for May.

Books I read (linked to the reviews)

Jesus on Mars by Philip José Farmer (TBR pile)
Running in Bed by Jeffrey Sharlach (NetGalley)
The Mummy by Anne Rice (TBR pile)

Books I bought

Crawling From the Wreckage
by Gwynne Dyer

Tooth and Nail by Jennifer Safrey
Colonize This! Young Women of
Color on Today's Feminism
Sacred Geometry by Miranda Lundy
Ghouls Gone Wild by R.L. Stine
Hammerfall by C.J. Cherryh

Don't Close Your Eyes! by R.L. Stine

Books I received as gifts

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Books I've been approved for on NetGalley

Running in Bed by Jeffrey Sharlach

Progress on challenges

The Mummy was my May book for the Read Your OWN Library! Challenge.

Jesus on Mars was my May Random Read.

I completed the following letters for the 2012 A-Z Book Challenge:

I read 2 books for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

I read 1 book for the 2012 Anne Rice Challenge. You can still sign up!

Operation: TBR Reduction: I added 9 books to my to read list and only removed 3, so my pile increased by 6 this month! Epic fail! Hopefully I'll do better next month!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Length: 504 pages

The Immortal Rules is a young adult, dystopian vampire novel. The world is now split into vampire cities, which are walled off to keep the humans in and the rabids out, and which are ruled by powerful vampires. Allison Sekemoto grew up in the Fringe, the outer area of her city, where Unregistereds live as scavengers. When she's out on a scavenging mission and is attacked by rabids, she's given a choice: die, or become one of the vampires she's hated her whole life.

This. Book. Is. Awesome. Allie is a great main character. Throughout the book, you get enough back story for her motives and feelings to make sense. I loved watching her learn and struggle and make decisions as she figured out her own ethics as a vampire.

And the vampires in this story are great. They sort of remind me of Anne Rice's vampires. They're scary, but also sometimes sexy. They're usually evil, but they still retain their personalities from when they were human, so they're not just soulless beasts. And they're totally kickass.

I honestly don't even know what more to say about this one. It's just so good! I know there's been an awful lot of vampire stuff in recent years, but this one definitely stands out from the crowd. This was my first Julie Kagawa book, and I'll definitely be checking out her other stuff.

The one thing I'm not a fan of is the cover. It has to be said. The girl on the cover, who is also all over the series website, is obviously not Asian. This makes zero sense. Being Japanese is an important part of Allie's character (hello, her last name is Sekemoto, and she carries a katana). This is straight up whitewashing and I am not ok with it. It makes me worried about what will happen if a movie ends up being made. Messing up Allie's character could ruin what has the potential to be an amazing movie!

Anyway, aside from the cover, the book itself is amazing. 5 stars, and highly recommended.

Full disclosure: Free e-book copy received from the publisher through NetGalley.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl

Title: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More
Author: Roald Dahl
Publication Date: 1977
Length: 240 pages

The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar and Six More is (somewhat obviously) a book of 7 stories. My reactions to the stories are somewhat mixed. The Boy Who Talked With Animals and The Hitchhiker are both nice little stories, with The Hitchhiker having a rather amusing ending. The next story, The Mildenhall Treasure, is based on a true story (which generally means I won't like it, when it comes to Roald Dahl), but it was actually pretty good.

The Swan was terrible. It's about a group of bullies, only they're not really bullies so much as young psychopaths. It was really disturbing to read! This kid gets a rifle for his birthday (uh, what?), and then goes around killing small animals with his friends, and then they tie a kid to a railway track. Spoiler alert here if you plan to read this disturbing story: They kill a swan, break off its wings, and tie the wings to a kid's arm to see if he can fly. Oh my goodness, I nearly barfed.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is, in fact, a wonderful story. It's about a guy who learns to see through playing cards, and uses that skill to make millions of dollars which he uses to build orphanages! How nice.

The last two stories are an autobiographical story about how Roald Dahl became a writer (a pretty neat story!), and the first story he ever wrote (which was just weird).

So, overall, this book was OK, but I'd group it in with Boy (ie., disturbing stuff Roald Dahl wrote for some reason) rather than with Matilda (ie., delightful stuff every kid should read). 3 stars.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Piling Up on Friday - May 25

Piling Up on Friday is a weekly meme from Finding Your Gibbee. All you have to do is list the books you've added to your to read shelf in the last week.

It just so happens that I was on vacation for the past week! I just got back this morning. So, since I was on vacation, I allowed myself a slightly higher book buying allowance... So these are the books I bought while I was in Toronto:

 I got Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism, edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman, at the Toronto Women's Bookstore. Oh my goodness, I could have shopped forever in that bookstore! It was hard to leave with just one book!
Gwynne Dyer once spoke at my university, and I really like his bluntness. He's amazingly pessimistic. Anywho, apparently in this book he's less pessimistic! So this I've got to see. But seriously, this is a guy who knows what's going on. I'm looking forward to reading this one.
I've been vaguely interested in learning about sacred geometry ever since I read The Druidry Handbook, and then I found this brief guide to it for cheap at a used book store. Yay!
I bought the second book in this trilogy ages ago, and then was never able to find the first book, Hammerfall. I finally found it!

And then of course, I had to do my usual R.L. Stine search! Amazingly, I never saw a single Goosebumps or Fear Street book anywhere! I thought that was really weird. But I did find these two Mostly Ghostly books.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A short vacation

This is me when the plane takes off.

I'm going on vacation! But not for long. Just a week. So things will be a little slow around here. I meant to have a review written to schedule for while I'm gone, but then had some writer's block combined with being busy planning for my trip. So alas, my next post will be soon after I get back. So stay tuned!

In case you're curious, I'm going to Toronto. So not too far. It's like a 2 hour flight. I'm going for a conference over the long weekend, and then since I'm already flying out there, I'm staying a few extra days to see the sights. It should be a good time! Perhaps I'll share pictures when I get back! Especially if I visit any exciting book stores. :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

B&DERM Read-a-Thon Wrap Up

Loving Books

This past weekend was the B&DERM read-a-thon, and while I had a pretty busy weekend, I still managed to get a bit more reading than usual done.

First of all, I finished Jesus on Mars! I actually finished that on Friday evening, which is when I spent the most time reading this weekend. Then, I was supposed to start The Mummy, but I actually ended up getting a new book on NetGalley called Running in Bed, which comes out tomorrow, so I wanted to read it before (or at least close to) the release date. I've read 71 out of 245 pages of that one.

So overall, I think it was a pretty successful weekend! I read over 200 pages, and I've got an ok chance of reaching my goal for the month.

Friday, May 11, 2012

B&DERM Second Wrap Up and Read-a-Thon Kickoff

Loving Books

I haven't been quite as successful as I would like so far in the Epic Review Month. But at least I'm making progress!

In the last week, I did finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (which was one of my April books), and I've read a good chunk of Jesus on Mars. This book's been kind of slow going. I'm enjoying it, but for some reason I fall asleep every time I pick it up. It's rather strange. But I still have another 6 books I'm hoping to read this month! So I'd better pick up the pace!

So on that note... it's time for the read-a-thon! The read-a-thon lasts all weekend (including today, Friday, but I'm at work for most of the day). My partner actually has a rare weekend off, so there will be bike riding and other fun things, but I'll make sure to fit some reading in there! He's a big reader too, so we often read together (but I annoy him because I interrupt his reading to tell him exciting things).

My goal for the read-a-thon is to finish Jesus on Mars, and read as much as possible of The Mummy. I know it doesn't seem like a very impressive goal, but The Mummy is big! Anne Rice books usually take me weeks to finish (though I'm really hoping to cut that time down so I can actually get to my review copies), so there's no way I could read one in a weekend. If I could read half of it, I'd be thrilled. So wish me luck!

I may also pop in on Twitter occasionally. The read-a-thon is using the #ERMreadathon tag if you want to join in!

Piling Up on Friday - May 11

Piling Up on Friday is a weekly meme from Finding Your Gibbee. All you have to do is list the books you've added to your to read shelf in the last week.

In theory, May is supposed to be a no-buy month. I'm going to be in Toronto for a week, where I imagine there are wonderful book stores, so we'll see. But anyway, this week I didn't buy any! The only book I got was a birthday present. Jonathon (my partner) got me this one for my birthday (which was on Monday). Normally my presents would include more books, but he seems to think I have too many already! Imagine that! :-P

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Charmed Season 9 Volume 1 by Paul Ruditis

Title: Charmed Season 9 Volume 1
Author: Paul Ruditis
Publication Date: February 15, 2011
Length: 144 pages

Warning: This is a review of a graphic novel that takes place after the end of the Charmed television series, so it will definitely contain spoilers from the show!

The Charmed Season 9 comics take place shortly after the end of season 8. I'm not sure exactly how long after... at one point near the beginning it says that their lives have been demon-free for a year and a half, and I would think they'd be demon-free pretty much from the end of the show, but Wyatt and Chris are definitely a good 6 or 7 years older than the babies they were in season 8! Anywho, it's a while after.

This book is the perfect continuation of the series. It made me feel like I was right back watching the show. And I love seeing more of the kids that the Charmed ones have, that you catch a glimpse of at the end of the last episode. I finally know their names! And in general just seeing more of all the characters I love is great (seriously, they dated so many losers, but I was SO HAPPY with the guys they all ended up with!).

I really love how this first story arc has something to do with the Source. It's hilarious, because how many times did they vanquish the Source in the show? Oh my goodness, so many times! And just like in the show, they're like "seriously? Didn't we vanquish him?".

My only complaint is the one I have with most graphic novels, and that's the art. Don't get me wrong, the art is nice, but once again, some of the characters look the same! Piper and Phoebe look nothing alike in the show, yet I had a hard time telling them apart in the comics. Same problem as with most of the Buffy comics. But props for not overdoing the cleavage, so the art still beats a lot of comics. :)

Definitely recommended for fans of the show! Oh, and you can totally still read it without having seen the show, because at the beginning there's this big Book of Shadows section that has information on a lot of characters, and summarises the major events of the show. So don't think you have to watch 8 seasons of tv just to read these graphic novels (though the show is awesome, so you totally should)!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

B&DERM Q&A 1 and 2

Loving Books

I missed Q&A #1, because at the time I was only following Daph and not Bella, and Bella posted that one. Whoops! I am now following both, so I should be on top of any further posts in this challenge. :)

Last week's question was this: How do you tackle your TBR pile? Do you try to read everything before release date (if it’s a proof) or do you just read whatever takes your fancy?

This has definitely changed since started The Towering Pile! I used to just read whatever I felt like. Now I sometimes have review copies, and I'm in a lot of challenges, so that changes things! In any given month, I have one book for the Read Your OWN Library! Challenge and one book for the Random Reads meme. So each month, those two books along with any review copies I have (unless they aren't coming out for a long time) are my priority. If I finish all those, then I can read whatever. I try really hard to get my review copies read before they come out, but a lot of the ones I get on NetGalley don't give you much time, so I don't always make it. (Eg. The Immortal Rules. The review is coming soon, I promise!)

This week's question is: Do you find it difficult to find the time to read and review? Any tips for anyone who's struggling to find time?

When I was in university I didn't have time to read. Now that I'm done, I have no trouble finding time! I have a book with me at all times, so I read on the bus, while waiting in line, on the beach, etc., and of course I read before bed, plus sometimes just in the middle of the day if I have a quiet weekend. Finding time to review is another thing. Actually, I don't know that I really have trouble finding the time; it's more that I get writer's block and then fall behind. And the further I fall behind, the harder it is to write the reviews, because it's been awhile since I read the book... It's a vicious cycle! But my advice for finding the time to review is to have post templates (just a document with your usual html that you can copy), and to schedule posts.

WWW Wednesday - May 9

WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading. To participate, simply answer these questions three:

1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you'll read next?

1. I am currently reading Jesus on Mars by Philip Jose Farmer.

2. I recently read The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.

3. Books I'm planning to read soon include The Mummy by Anne Rice, Bandwidth by Angus Morrison, and Final Crossing by Carter Wilson.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Risen by Elizabeth Watasin

Title: Risen (The Dark Victorian, Volume 1)
Author: Elizabeth Watasin
Publication Date: April 14, 2012
Length: 97 pages

Risen takes place in 1880s London. Criminals who have been executed are resurrected, with their memories wiped, to serve Prince Albert's Secret Commission in protecting London from supernatural threats. Jim Dastard is a mentor to newly resurrected agents, and is a skull. Artifice (Art) is Dastard's newest partner, and she's an artificial ghost (she can be solid or not-solid as she chooses). In this first installment of the Dark Victorian series, Jim and Art must track down a reanimationist, who is resurrecting dead children and causing them to seek revenge on people that they blame for their early deaths.

I know, it sounds weird. I must admit, I had my doubts about the animated skull and the artificial ghost. But they are delightful. Art becomes quite a fleshed out (no pun intended) character, as she tries to figure out what kind of person she was like in her past life, and deals with being a Quaker who also seems to have some violent tendencies. And Jim Dastard is a very witty talking skull.

Weirdly enough, I kept thinking that Jim shouldn't be able to do some of the things he could do. I mean, I could accept that he was a talking skull, but every time he said "hmm" I was like "how can you make that sound with no lips?!". Yeah, I'm strange like that. :)

I have no problem recommending this one, especially to fans of steampunk and other Victorian-era genres. I look forward to the next book in the series!

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this ebook from the author.

Friday, May 4, 2012

B&DERM First Wrap Up

Loving Books

It's time for the first weekly wrap-up for Bella and Daph's Epic Review Month. Be sure to check out the wrap up post to enter a great giveaway!

I haven't actually even started on my pile that I have planned for this month! I was still reading two of my April books at the beginning of May, and I've already finished one of them. I'll probably finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest either today or tomorrow, and then I can get started on those challenge books and review copies.

To finish my pile, I'd have to average about 2 books a week, and with some long ones in there, it could be tough! But one week from today is the weekend-long read-a-thon, and I'm hoping that will get me ahead and give me a chance. :)

Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke

Title: Against the Fall of Night
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Publication Date: 1953
Length: 159 pages

Against the Fall of Night tells the story of a boy named Alvin. He lives in a city called Diaspar, which as far as the citizens know contains the entire population of Earth. The book takes place millions (or maybe even billions!) of years in the future, when humans have retreated to this one city after being beaten back in their expansion by the Invaders. Most people are perfectly content in their luxurious city, and terrified of what lies beyond the wall, but Alvin is curious, and manages to find a way out, through a sort of subway system that used to connect many different cities.

I found this books to be quite different than most 50s sci fi, in that it hasn't been proven wrong! So many of those novels take place in like the year 2000 or something, and they're amusing now (though still often great sci fi). So it was smart, I think, for Arthur C. Clarke to write a book that takes place so unbelievably far in the future that it's still interesting sci fi today.

One thing that irritated me: the language is SO outdated. Not only is the word "mankind" in almost every paragraph, but the human race is actually referred to as "he". It was positively cringeworthy. I know, a product of its time, etc., but it's still annoying.

I liked Clarke's take on immortality. The people of Diaspar have chosen to live thousands of years, but the price is that the society is stagnant, and worse yet, there are no children. It paints a pretty bleak picture! This story is a sort of post-apocalyptic dystopia, from way before that genre was popular (as far as I know).

Against the Fall of Night is a quick read, and is well-written, with an interesting story line. It's not going to be added to my favourites shelf or anything, but I've always been more of a fantasy reader than a sci fi reader, anyway. I definitely recommend this one for fans of classic science fiction.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bella & Daph's Epic Review Month begins!

Loving Books

It's time to start B&DERM (Bella and Daph's Epic Review Month)! I was hoping to have finished the books I was reading at the end of April by now, so I could start right away on the big pile I've got planned for May, but alas, I have not. So, for the next few days I'll still be finishing up The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.

After that, I'll be getting through as much of this pile as possible, which includes my challenge books for the month, and all the review copies I have right now:
  1. Jesus on Mars by Philip José Farmer (my Random Read for May)
  2. The Mummy by Anne Rice (my Read Your Own Library! Challenge book for May)
  3. Bandwidth by Angus Morrison (NetGalley)
  4. Final Crossing by Carter Wilson (NetGalley)
  5. The Marrying Kind by Ken O'Neill (NetGalley)
  6. Auraria by Tim Westover (NetGalley)
  7. Xoc by Matt Dembicki (NetGalley)
If I could get through that whole pile, I'd be pretty pumped! But some of these are pretty long, so we'll see. I'll also be on vacation for a week later this month (more on that later!), and it's always hard to know how a vacation will affect my reading!

I'll probably post some kind of update every week or so, so you know how I'm doing on my pile. Also, there's a read-a-thon the weekend of May 11th - 13th, which I'll try to participate in, so I'll update a bit more frequently during that time.

Wish me luck! And good luck to everyone else who's participating!

May Random Reads selection

It's time to select my Random Read for May! Last month, my Random Read was Starrise at Corrivale by Diane Duane. I ended up giving up on it, because it was kind of terrible. At least it's off my pile now!

So it's off to the random number generator. I have 672 books on my TBR shelf at the moment, so I enter 1 as the min and 672 as the max, and hit Generate.

Drum roll, please!

For April's Random Read I'll be reading Jesus on Mars by Philip José Farmer. It's been on my TBR shelf on Goodreads since July of 2009, which is in the first few months after I got Goodreads, meaning I've probably had the book much longer than that. I think I got this one when my uncle cleaned out his attic and gave me a big box of books.