Saturday, September 03, 2011

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones is the first book in the Mortal Instruments series. This is the first book I’ve read by Cassandra Clare. I suppose for most people, the blurb on the front cover by Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series would be a recommendation. For me, it almost made me bypass this one. 
Clary Fray is the main character, just a teenage girl, butting heads with her overprotective mom. She hangs out with her best friend, Simon. She likes to go to the nightclub, Pandemonium, and Simon goes along because he’s a good friend. One night at Pandemonium, Clary sees a cute boy, and then watches him in a confrontation with two other boys and a girl. This starts Clary onto a path to a whole new world. 
Clary is introduced to the world of Shadow Hunters, and learns there are many things out there that she never thought existed. She also learns her childhood may not have been what it seemed. When her mother goes missing, Clary gets dragged even farther into this strange new world. Her guides are Jace, Isabelle, and Isabelle’s brother Alec. 
This book is firmly in the urban fantasy genre, and all the usual suspects are present, vampries, werewolves, demons, warlocks, and about anything else you can think of. This book has a lot of Star Wars references, and has allusions to Star Wars in the plot as well. 
City of Bones is in the teen literature market, and it belongs there. It wasn’t as syrupy as Twilight. The first half of the book was really good, probably even the first 3/4. I wasn’t necessarily crazy about the ending, it wasn’t really a surprise, but I’m not sure I liked it. I will probably read the next book in the series, but not right away. 
I’m going to give City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, 3 Stars

Monday, August 01, 2011

I fought the lobster, but the ocean won

I got certified to scuba this year. We did our open water check out dives in Hawaii. That was amazing! Next, we went diving in Nevis, that was also very cool, great coral, cool fish and huge spiny lobsters. Not to mention diving to 100 ft.

Then we came to the Florida Keys. My hubby and I hadn't been to the keys since the late 90s. We has only snorkeled there before, and were looking forward to the lobster mini season.

Then we went out on the boat. The water was rough, but I had taken meclizine, so I thought I was styling. I got thrown around on the boat, and couldn't even start to get geared up until we stopped.

We got in the water, there weren't any other boats around, we had the lobsters all to ourselves. Turned out that was because we were the only ones crazy enough to be out there.

The first part of the dive went ok, though we weren't seeing any lobsters. I was the bag holder, also known as shark bait. Luckily, I think even the sharks weren't out hunting that morning.

We finally found some bugs, around a big brain coral. I was trying to stay nearby and keep the bag ready for my husband and our friend.

Visibility was terrible, the worst I'd dove in, given my limited experience. It didn't take much to loose sight of my dive buddies. Then you had to watch for fins, a glint off the air tank, or bubbles to find them again.

Around the brain coral, visibility was bad, and the surge started pushing me back and forth. I got disoriented, I got nauseous, I got sick, under water, in the regulator. Thank goodness I hadn't eaten breakfast, so there wasn't much. It was still scary.

I made it back to the boat, under my own power. I spent the next three stops laying down.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Florida Keys

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vision Impossible by Victoria Laurie

Vision Impossible is the latest in the Psychic Eye series, featuring psychic Abby Cooper. This installment finds her and her fiancée, Dutch serving their country in a big way. Abby has done some consulting for the FBI in the past, but this latest case involves stolen military tech, and the CIA. Not to mention going undercover in a foreign country.

The story moves along at a nice fast pace. Abby and Dutch make a great team, even when monkey wrenches get thrown at them.

This mission finds them in their most dangerous position yet, mostly with new supporting characters. I missed Abby's friend and PI, Candice in this one.

Some of it felt a little over the top, but I couldn't put it down!

I'm giving Vision Impossible, 4 Stars.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What I've Been Reading on Summer Vacation

Once Bitten by Kalayna Price. 
First book in Haven series. Cat shifter turned vampire has to find a rogue shifter.
3 Stars.
The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews.
Meg Langslow series #13. Meg and Michael are coping with four month old twins, an animal menagerie in their living room, and murder of course. This is a great addition to the series and I can’t wait for more!
5 Stars.
Heartless by Gail Carriger.
The Parasol Protectorate #4. Alexia is on the vampire’s hit list, thanks to the imminent arrival of the infant inconvenience. She also learns of a plot to assassinate a queen, and more than she wanted to know about her father. Another fun, and funny, read!
5 Stars.
This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.
Night Huntress #5. Cat and Bones are back and trying to stop imminent war between the Vampires and Ghouls. 
4 Stars.
Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton.
Knitting Mysteries #1. Kelly Flynn learns how to knit, while solving her aunt’s murder in Colorado. Nice cozy, will read more of this series. And includes recipe and two knitting patterns. 
3 Stars.
Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews.
Kate Daniels #4. Kate is the only one that can take on Atlanta’s newest threat, her own family. 
4 Stars.
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs.
Mercedes Thompson #3. Mercedes is up against the Fae in this installment of this great series.
4 Stars.
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs.
Mercedes Thompson #4. Mercedes is in trouble with the local vampires, and manages to get herself in trouble with the one vampire in her hide out location as well. 
4 Stars.
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews.
Kate Daniels #3. Kate has to help the shifters, especially Derek, who she feels responsible for, even if he makes it hard to help him. This series just gets better and better!
4 Stars.
Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich.
Stephanie Plum #17. This book is a light, fun read as always. I do wish she would let Stephanie have a real life though. I’m ready for the triangle to be a couple. 
3 Stars.
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews.
Kate Daniels #2. Kate has to take on the gods themselves in this book, and picks up a stray.
4 Stars.
Divergent by Veronica Roth.
Divergent #1. There are some similarities between this book and Hunger Games, mostly the post apocolypse/ dystopian setting. Instead of the geographic districts of Hunger Games, people are divided by personality types. Great story, and I can’t wait for the next one!
5 Stars.
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs.
Mercedes Thompson #2. Mercedes tangles with vampries at the request of her friend Stefan. 
4 Stars.
Hexes and Hemlines by Juliet Blackwell.
Witchcraft Mystery #3. Lily gets consulted by the police on a murder investigation. Nice mystery, can’t wait for more Lily Ivory!
4 Stars
I think that catches me up with my summer reading list. Hmm....maybe more knitting and less reading if I ever want to finish my knitting project!
We are headed to the Florida Keys for a little more scuba and fun with friends!
Happy Summer!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I have been reading, really!

I have been reading, but I have also been traveling and I have not found a painless way to post from my iPhone. My husband and I had planned this huge vacation this summer. We were going to take the little plane and fly to Mount Rushmore, Ogden UT, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon. It was going to be amazing!

The first monkey wrench was the weather. Iowa has had some terrible weather this summer. We were basically delayed a week due to weather. We could only fly VFR (visual flight rules), so that limited our travel possibilities.

Then the plane was leaking fuel, so into the shop it went. While we were waiting for that repair we drove up to Minneapolis and Mall of America and the Raddisson with Waterpark of America in it. I got to shop, and go to IKEA. We did the theme park in Mall of America, both of the kids rode the crazy Sponge Bob roller coaster.

We got back from Minneapolis, the plane was fixed, but we had some weather again, which delayed us for a couple more days. Finally we took off. We made our scheduled fuel stop in Sioux City, IA, and got delayed by weather again and ended up spending the night. On the bright side, I finally got to try Tastee's In and Out. They are loose meat sandwiches that I have heard about from my husband and brother-in-law for years.

Finally, we were able to make it to Rapid City, SD. On the way there we flew over the Badlands, which looked incredible from the air. I finally got to take the kids to Mount Rushmore, and of course we did some of the tourist traps on the road to Rushmore, like the Maze and Bear Country USA. We also did Deadwood, Wall Drug, the Crazy Horse Monument, and drove through part of the Badlands.

I think I forgot to mention that we spent a couple extra days in Rapid City. On the 4th of July we took off for Ogden, UT. We got to about Custer, SD, and started to smell a burning smell. It was determined it was a problem with the landing gear, and my husband eventually had to pump the gear down by hand. We turned around and flew back to Rapid City to get the plane looked at.

After going back and forth with the mechanic in Rapid City, we decided that since the plane was flyable we would take it back to our home airport in Iowa City for the necessary repairs. We spent about a day and a half in Iowa City, and then loaded up the Prius and headed west by car.

I think all that we're missing at this point is the boat. I guess we haven't really traveled by train either. We drove from Iowa City to Cheyenne, WY, on day one. Then from Cheyenne to Salt Lake City on Day two. We spent a day with my grandmother and on Day 3 headed south. We were aiming for Vegas, but weren't happy with the hotel situation and pressed on to Barstow, CA, and here we are.

We still have to visit my parents, my other grandmother, squeeze in Legoland and the Grand Canyon and be back in Iowa City to regroup before heading to the Florida Keys!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Moon Called and Magic Bites, the adventures of Mercy and Kate

This week I read the first book in two different urban fantasy series. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs is the first book in the Mercy Thompson series. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews is the first book in the Kate Daniels series. Both of the series started a couple of years ago, so there are several books out in each series. 
Mercy Thompson is a skinwalker, she changes into a coyote, and can shift quickly, easily, and at will. She lives next door to the werewolf pack’s Alpha, named Adam. Mercy runs a repair garage and mostly works on German cars. She has acquaintances among the vampires, the weres, and the police force. However, she doesn’t really belong with any of those groups, and she hasn’t met any other skinwalkers. She was raised by werewolves in Montana, and now lives in Washington state. This first Mercy Thompson book requires Mercy to return back to the pack that raised her and ask for help. 
Mercy is a smart aleck, she has that in common with Kate Daniels. Both tend to make smart comments when the smart thing would be keeping quiet. It was refreshing to see a skinwalker that wasn't the bad guy. In the Kate Daniels books, the vampires are not the sexy creatures of the night that most series present them as. They are kind of gross really. 
Kate Daniels is more of a mystery. It is not exactly clear what she is. She could belong to the order of magickal humans who help keep peace, but instead she is a member of the guild of mercenaries. She tries to keep her head down, but instead she ends up getting tangled up with the Pack, who are the shape-shifters, and with the People, who are vampires and necromancers. Curran, the Lord of the Pack, is a great alpha male character. 
I enjoyed both of these series and have already started the second book in the Mercy Thompson series. 
I am going to give Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, 5 Stars, and I will give Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, 4 Stars.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Deadliest Bite is the last book in the Jaz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin. Jasmine Parks is an assassin working for the CIA. Well, at least she used to work for the CIA. In this book, Jaz is pretty much fighting for her life. She has had a demon trapped in her mind, and he has been trying hard to get out, and Jaz won’t survive the internal struggle much longer. 
Luckily for Jaz, she has some really good friends. Vayl, her vampire partner, and lover. Cole, her good friend fighting his own demon. Bergman, her answer to James Bond’s Q. Plus, her twin Dave and his girlfriend Cassandra, a psychic. Oh, and of course Raoul, her guardian angel of sorts. Not a bad team to have at your back when demon fighting. 
I really love this series, I think Jaz is a lot of fun. She reminds me a little of Anita Blake, without the porn. Vayl is a fun vampire, and the rest of the team is well rounded. I forgot to mention Jaz’s malamute, Jack and her robokitty Astral. Astral was a gift from Bergman, and one of my favorite characters. Maybe because I’m a cat person. 
There are also some Jaz Parks short stories that have been coming out to round out the Jaz Parks series. I am sad that this series is at an end. The author, Jennifer Rardin, passed away in September 2010. I am glad that the last book was able to be released. My heart goes out to her family for their loss. 
I am going to give The Deadliest Bite by Jennfer Rardin, 4 Stars
It was a fun read,  and hard to put down!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Wordy Shipmates and The Bookman

The Wordy Shipmates is a book by essayist and This American Life contributor, Sarah Vowell. It is a snapshot of history that tells the story of the Puritans that founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was a very interesting story, and Vowell did a great job of making the history relevant. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read more  by Sarah Vowell.
The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar was an interesting and entertaining book. It has elements of steampunk, alternate history, and science fiction. The main character of the book is named Orphan, and he is in love with a girl named Lucy. The queen of England is a lizard-woman, her family usurped the throne after they were discovered on an island in the Caribbean. The Bookman is working to destroy the lizard royal family. He forces Orphan to work for him. Orphan sets off on a fantastic journey. 
Tidhar uses a lot of very descriptive language, certain passages of the book read like poetry. I really enjoyed this book and plan on reading the sequel, Camera Obscura.
I am going to give The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell, 4 Stars.
The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar, receives, 4 Stars also. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Girlie Weekend

As the mom of two school age boys, especially ones who think girls, and anything girlie is icky, I don’t get to do a lot of girlie things. I was very excited to get to do just that last weekend. I went to the Tonner Doll 20th Anniversary Convention in Chicago, IL. I have been a doll collector since I was a teenager. I had pretty much stuck with Barbie up until the last year or so. I had looked at the Tonner dolls off and on a lot over the last couple of years, in the last year I had finally jumped in and bought my first Tonner dolls. 
This Tonner convention was my first doll convention. It was amazing! I met some really great people, and the events and dolls were amazing. I like how the Tonner company feels like a family. It’s not a huge company and it seemed like everyone there really pulls together to make the conventions special. 
The special convention dolls were amazing. The centerpieces at the meal events were so cool, I wish I had space to bring them all home. I am amazed at the repaints and custom clothing that people make over their dolls with. I am not a crafty person, but I wish I were, especially after seeing the competition dolls. 
I attended the convention by myself, but there was never a shortage of people to talk with. The biggest problem was that it totally feeds into my collection addiction. I love to collect things. It becomes a terrible habit though, you always feel like you need to complete a collection. Some types of collections, like dolls are not easily completed. 
I had been postponing unpacking my Barbie collection after we moved to Iowa a few years ago. The convention helped to get me in gear and I have gotten all my boxes unpacked. Now I just need to find room for them all, and for my new editions from the convention!

Centerpiece from first Night of Convention

Convention exclusive Evangeline Ghastly. Gorgeous!

Convention Exclusive Ellowynne Wilde "Dark Shadows"

Centerpiece at Masquerade Gala, Winkin' Blinkin' and Nod

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Miranda's Big Mistake by Jill Mansell

Miranda’s Big Mistake is the second book I’ve read by Jill Mansell. Her books are light, great summer  beach reading. It was easy to read through this book quickly. There was some great humor in it. I liked Miranda, the main character a lot, and her landlady Florence, and Chloe. 
However, this book had one of the worst cliched selfish males I have ever read in a book. The males in this book in general were pretty weak characters. A couple of the women, like Bev, are caricatures. There was a lot of frustration with the charcters not talking to each other. It bothers me that romantic comedies always go to the silliness that could be avoided with a little bit of mature communication, instead of acting like a teenager and turning everything into a big drama. I also didn't think it was necessary to wrap up the love lives of all the characters in the book. It was a really predictable plot, and almost all the plot points are predictable.
I guess this is kind of a mixed review. This book was a light, fun read, but there were definitely things about it that annoyed me. I think I will wait awhile before reading another of Jill Mansell’s books, but I probably would read another one. 
I’m going to give Miranda’s Big Mistake by Jill Mansell, 3 bookmarks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I am still fairly new to the world of the faeries. I really enjoyed The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. Meghan Chase is the daughter of the mythical king of the faeries. She is turning 16, and instead of going to get her learner’s permit for her birthday, she is fighting off creatures she thought were just fairy tales trying to save her young brother. 
Meghan is accompanied on her journey by her friend Puck (yes, that Puck), Grim the cat, and a faerie prince from the winter court, Ash. Whether Meghan can actually trust any of them, is another story. 
This is a young adult title, well, a teen title. It has some mild adult language, adult themes, and mild romantic heat. I thought the book moved at a nice pace and the characters were likable and were well-developed. 
I would recommend this book for fans of the paranormal and urban fantasy genre. There are two more books in the Iron Fey series out now. I will be reading the next one in the series for sure. 
I’m going to give The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, 2 bookmarks

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Booky Wook by Russell Brand

I have to say that I like Russell Brand, I think he’s very funny. I had been wanting to read My Booky Wook for awhile. I don’t have personal experience with addiction, but Brand’s account seemed very honest. He didn’t go to the extreme of all drugs are bad. He really conveys that addiction is a day at a time recovery. At times he seemed nostalgic for the feeling that he would get on heroine. 
Brand’s story is definitely good material for a memoir. Reading his accounts of his time at school, and being thrown out of various schools, made me feel for his mum. I can only imagine how hard it would be to have a boy that difficult. of course, this book might not be as fun to read if Brand’s personal life wasn’t turning out so well. He got some good people behind him who helped him not become another tragic young hollywood death. 
I would recommend My Booky Wook, if you’re a fan of Russell Brand, or some insight into addiction and recovery. 
I’m going to give My Booky Wook by Russell Brand, 2 bookmarks.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I think we're creating a monster

Our seven year old son was finally convinced to try steak for the first time this past week. Now, whenever we ask what he wants for dinner, he says, "steak!" We've been trying to explain that steak isn't something you can eat every day, but it is nice for him to eat some real food.

Besides having a newfound love of steak, he is also addicted to Doctor Who. We are currently watching season five of the current series. The one with Matt Smith as the Doctor. My husband and I had watched the first season when it premiered on Sy-fy channel, but when they changed the Doctor to David Tennant at the end of that season, I was grumpy and we stopped watching. Of course, after watching all the David Tennant episodes, he really kind of grew on me.

For Mother's Day, my boys both drew pictures of daleks and Doctor Who.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I just finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. I felt like the ending was perfect. I kept wondering how it was going to end, and I wasn’t disappointed in the ending.Because I’m trying to keep these reviews spoiler free, I can’t such much about the plot. Especially if you haven’t read the first two books.
I couldn’t help but compare this series to Lord of the Rings. Maybe because it just has the mark of a perfect trilogy, like LOTR. The first book, The Hunger Games,  started Katniss on her journey, with most heroines it would have been a coming of age story and in a way this was. However, Katniss did not start from the same innocent place that most coming of age stories start. Keeping with my LOTR comparison, Katniss is kind of like Aragon. 
The second book, Catching Fire, continued Katniss’ journey, and helped her find allies for the final battle. Mockingjay, much like Return of the King in LOTR, is a huge battle. It’s been building for the three books, and I love that until the book ended, I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to turn out, and in the end, it is amazing when you find a good book and a good author. I am sure that Ms. Collins had fans that were vocal about how they wanted the series to end. I have been on Charlaine Harris’ message boards and know how vocal and adamant fans can be that their vision is the only way the series can end. One reason that books like the Sookie Stackhouse series and the Hunger Games series draw us in though is that the authors are very talented and have a story to tell. We need to just trust that the author knows what she’s (or he) is doing. They created these characters, and I think the story is better when we just leave our expectations outside the book and go with the flow of the story, it’s rare that an author you already love will steer you wrong. It may not be the ending you were hoping for, but I think if we take a step back, it’s the ending we need.
I loved the Hunger Games series, and if the first part of Mockingjay was the weakest point in the series, it more than made up for it at the end. 
I am going to give Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, 1 bookmark.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I think it is a good indicator of how good I think this series is that I finished book two late last night and am chomping at the bit to start book three. Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. This time we follow Katniss as she returns home and has to deal with the fallout, both good and bad (really downright scary) of The Hunger Games. 
I really hate to give spoilers, so I’m not going to say much about the plot here. I will say that I love Katniss as a character. She’s flawed, and she feels real. She has amazing determination, but she is realistic as a teenager. She’s not a hero, she’s just a girl who has done everything to try to just survive and take care of her family, but she’s gotten pulled into the center of something bigger than herself. Bigger really, than she can even comprehend. 
I absolutely couldn’t put this book down, and it made me cry. I’ve gotten so invested in this character and really bought into her life. I’m not the type to cry at commercials and whatnot, I have to be really invested in the characters and the story for it to push me that far. I can’t wait to get this posted so I can start book 3!
I am going to give Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, 1 bookmark.