Sunday, January 25, 2015


ally condie
dutton books
published 2013

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above - of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia.  But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below.  Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio's true self - and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden - she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother's death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea.  Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and speak long-hidden truths.

It's been a couple of days since I finished this book and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

Rio and Bay live in Atlantia, an underwater city that was created back when the air on Earth was becoming so polluted people were dying from it.  Atlantia depends on the people Above to provide them with food and other necessities they cannot provide for themselves down Below.  Every year teenagers can volunteer to go Above and leave Below forever.  It is considered a great sacrifice and only one person from each family can go.  After Bay chooses Above after making Rio promise to stay Below (basically tricking Rio) Rio cannot do anything but find a way to get Above to her sister.  Along the way she's confronted with truths she never asked for.  Does it change how she feels about getting to the Above?

I feel like maybe every conflict could have been solved had there been better communication.  Simple as that.  So many unnecessary secrets and no one trusts anyone.  It was a slow, slow read.  It took so long to get to the actual plot that there were several times I just simply lost interest.  There were too many questions.  What was happening to Atlantia? What is Above?  Why did Bay leave Below when she loved it so much?  What's Rio's secret?  Who is the boy who left with Bay?  What really happened to their mother?  What happened between their mother and her sister?  Can Maire be trusted?

There were so many questions and when you finally get answers it's kind of quick and then she moves on because there is so much going on.  And then it just kind of wraps up and there are still a few loose ends.  It was quite unsatisfying.

The world of Atlantia was fascinating and the scope of the project, how far reaching it was....that was interesting, but we never really get much info on that except that they no long exist.  I'm glad this is a stand alone novel because I'm not sure I feel invested enough in the characters to read another book.

around the world

This challenge sounded fun and easy!  It's the Around The World challenge hosted by All About Books.  It's basically just a challenge where you mark all the places your books take place.  See!  Totally easy!  And I get to mark up my map!  Woohoo!  If you'd like to sign up you can do that here.

Here's my map:

  1. A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny
  2. The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny
  3. How The Light Gets In - Louise Penny
  4. A Visit From The Good Squad - Jennifer Egan
  5. Zac & Mia - AJ Betts

new author challenge

I'm trying a new host this year and I'm going with Literary Escapism's New Author Challenge.  You can sign up to join me here.

There are no levels, but I'm aiming for 12 new authors.

    1. A Visit From The Good Squad - Jennifer Egan
    2. Zac & Mia - AJ Betts

    zac & mia

    zac & mia
    aj betts
    text publishing
    published 2013

    "When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster.  Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics."

    So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia.  A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him tot he presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door.  Once released, the two near-strangers can't forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives.

    When I was a teen I used to read Lurlene McDaniel books.  Have you ever heard of her?  Every book I read was about some teenager who had some sort of chronic illness.  They were tearjerkers and at that age I could read them and just wallow in the sadness because as a teen, I was a sad kid.  Now, these books are harder to read.  Not because I can't relate (being a full grown nearly middle aged adult) but because now I see my children and it's terrifying.

    That doesn't stop me from reading, of course.  I read The Fault In Our Stars and loved it, but I read it because it was a John Green book, not because of the subject matter so much.

    Now I've seen people comparing Zac & Mia to TFIOS which makes sense.  Two sick kids with cancer drawn together.  It's a natural comparison, but I also think it's slightly unfair.  Despite the tragic ending, TFIOS had a certain fairy tale air about it.  I felt like Zac & Mia was a little more realistic.  You have a tried and true veteran who has seen so many other cancer patients come and go.  Then you have the one who is in denial and angry about everything.

    You always read about the kids with cancer who are wise beyond their years and they're fighters and strong and admirable.  You don't hear too much about the ones who can't get over that this is happening to them and blame everyone else for it.

    I didn't really care for Mia at all at first.  Even with Zac's sort of rosy way of looking at things I didn't like her, but into her narrative for awhile she grew on me.  But the best came in the second to last paragraph in the book and that was really the only time I really cried.  I really did enjoy this one.  I didn't want to stop reading.  I loved Zac's voice and I was curious about Mia's even though I didn't like her.

    Friday, January 16, 2015

    fatale: death chases me

    fatale: death chases me
    ed brubaker & sean phillips
    image comics
    published 2012

    In modern times, Nicolas Lash stumbles upon a secret that will lead him down the darkest path a seductive and ageless woman who's been on the run since the 1930s.  And in 1950s San Francisco, reporter Hank Raines crosses paths with that same woman and gets caught in a vicious triangle between a crooked cop and a man who is more monster than man.  But who is Josephine and what is her secret?  And how many men will die and kill for her?

    I picked this up more out of curiosity than a real desire to read an Ed Brubaker book that wasn't Batman.  But I found that I loved it.  The mystery, the creep factor and the artwork are all plus tens.  I loved every page even when I thought after flipping through initially I wouldn't care much for the art.
    The story is well told and fast paced.  There are times when the artwork makes certain male characters vague so it takes a moment to figure out who the focus is on, but it's not that big of a complaint.  The best thing about the book is that it's obviously a continuing series and there's more mystery to be uncovered, but I didn't feel left hanging.  I want to read more, but I wasn't left at a point in the story where you're more upset than curious.  Gooooood stuff!

    detective comics: faces of death

    detective comics: faces of death
    tony s. daniel
    dc comics
    published 2011

    The Joker has gone missing from Arkham Asylum and even Batman cannot comprehend the grisly evidence the madman leaves behind.  Something strange and terrible is happening in Gotham City, and it all seems to revolve around a new villain known as the Dollmaker.

    Now Gotham's latest psychopath has kidnapped two more potential victims - a young innocent girl, and Police Commissioner Jim Gordon.  To save them, Batman must offer up something more enticing to the Dollmaker as bait: himself.

    Will the Dark Knight be able to learn the secret of Dollmaker, his mysterious masters and their tie to the missing Joker?  Or will Dollmaker take Batman apart piece by piece?

    This one could have been ridiculously amazing.  The Dollmaker not only does creepy things, but he looks creepy and his entourage is creepy.  The Joker gets his face removed and Snakeskin can remove his face at will.  So much yummy creepiness.

    Unfortunately, none of that went anywhere!  Everyone just kind of fades away and that's it.  I was disappointed.  Despite that it did flow nicely and the artwork was great.  It's a series I would consider continuing if only to see if the Dollmaker appears again.

    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    batman incorporated: gotham's most wanted

    batman incorporated: gotham's most wanted
    grant morrison & chris burnham
    dc comics
    published 2012

    Talia al Ghul has come to Gotham City, and hell follows her.  The legions of Leviathan - the crime-cult whose ring of death chokes the world at her command - have conquered the city.  Batman and his allies are hunted in its streets, and her champion reigns uncontested.  Some call him the Heretic.  Others call him the Fatherless.  Some even dare to call him Leviathan itself.  But to Damian Wayne, the son of Batman and Talia al Ghul who fights his father's enemies as Robin, there's only one word for this man-made monster:  Brother.

    Now these two scions of the world's greatest detective and its greatest criminal mastermind will clash.  Only one will survive.  And over the body of the slain, Batman and Talia will meet for one final, terrible battle.

    Now I've finally read what I should have read before Batman & Robin.  It was....slightly underwhelming.

    There is a ton of stuff going on with a ton of characters that frankly, I couldn't care less about.  Some of them look so similar that I just stopped trying to tell them apart.  Also, Damian literally looks like a three year old.  Why is he so short?

    Everything's jumping around, you barely get a moment to process what has actually happened and then more bouncing until finally you're done.  Or at least you think you are until you find you have some stories (or 'case files') of Jiro and Black Canary, The Knight, Nightrunner, El Gaucho & Raven Red.  And like I said before, I couldn't really care less.  Jiro's were strange, but kind of fun and The Knight was really sad following the events of Batman Incorporated, Volume 1, but the others we all just filler.

    Had this not been part of a story line I was following I don't think I would have read it.  Who am I kidding?  Of course I would have read it and probably been more disappointed than I am now.  *sad face*

    maniac killer strikes again!

    maniac killer strikes again
    richard sala
    published 2003

    A collection of long out of print stories from the late 80s to the early 90s.  Maniac Killer is full of deformed monsters and secret societies, of a murderous clan of cat-masked villains and simple mad scientists.  In the multi-chapter "Thirteen O'Clock" a serial killer bearing a corkscrew strikes repeatedly while a glowing, disembodied skull talks to the victims.  But the enigmatic detective Mr. Murmur solves the crime and shares the motive, too ridiculous to be explained here.  It combines noir mystery with absurd humor.

    There is no other way to describe this collection of stories than to say it is very silly.  Very, very silly.  The end.

    level up

    level up
    gene luen yang & thien pham
    first second
    published 2011

    Dennis Ouyang lives in the shadow of his parents' high expectations.  They want him to go to medical school and become a doctor.  Dennis just wants to play video games - and he might actually be good enough to do it professionally.

    But four adorable, bossy, and occasionally terrifying angels arrive just in time to lead Dennis back onto the straight and narrow: the path to gastroenterology.  It's all part of the plan, they tell him.  But is it?

    Another coming of age sort of tale.  Dennis is wrestling with the expectations of his parents and his desire (and talent) for playing video games.  And seriously, what kid hasn't had to deal with this?  Along the way Dennis makes friends and falls in like with a girl who tries to set him straight when it comes to his destiny.  It isn't until he's faced with the broken promises of his father that Dennis starts to think for himself, but is it really the right kind of thinking?

    The artwork is simple, but fitting.  The angels kind of reminded me of Powerpuff Girls.  Though I liked everything about this, I didn't love it the way I loved The Shadow Hero, but that's okay.  Can't love everything, right?

    curses! foiled again

    curses! foiled again
    jane yolen & mike cavallaro
    first second
    published 2013

    Aliera Carstairs is back.  This time she's got her cousin - and best friend - Caroline in tow, and the stakes are higher than ever.  The realm of Seelie, the fairy kingdom of which Aliera is the hereditary defender, is under attack, and only Aliera and Caroline can set things right.  Caroline, fragile and wheelchair-bound may seem like more of a liability than an asset, but Aliera knows there's more to her quiet cousin than meets the eye.

    Just like the first book I felt this was a little rushed at the end.  It seemed to take it very slow for most of the book and from the description I thought Caroline would play a bigger role.  I was looking forward to seeing what her contribution would be, but instead three quarters of the book is Aliera yelling at Avery.

    Not as good as the first book, but I loved the art and the use of color.  I'm sure there will be another one, or at least I hope there will since so far, nothing has happened!

    revival: you're among friends

    revival: you're among friends
    tim seeley & mike norton
    image graphics
    published 2013

    For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life.  Now it's up to Officer Dana Cypress to deal with the media scrutiny, religious zealots, and government quarantine that has come with them.  In a town where the living have to learn to deal with those who are supposed to be dead, Officer Cypress must solve a brutal murder, and everyone, alive or undead, is a suspect.

    I think that the problem with reading an ongoing series is that when you start out there is just so much info thrown your way that it gets a little overwhelming and then it just ends.  You either wait for the next volume to come out or you go out and buy the continuing issues.

    There are so many unanswered questions and frankly, really confusing aspects that I'm still shaking my head at, but for the sake of a no-spoiler review I won't go into that here.

    There was enough interesting meat to the story that I'm interested in continuing, but this has to be said: The premise of this is just too similar to Torchwood: Miracle Day (that I hated, HATED).  Of course, there are numerous differences, but the basics are the same so that leaves me kind of meh about the whole thing too.  Hopefully, I'll get over it so I can see why people rave about this one so much.

    batman: night of the owls

    batman: night of the owls
    scott snyder & various
    dc comics
    published 2014

    As evil spreads across Gotham City, Batman's allies find themselves in a battle coming from all sides.  The Court of Owls have shown their hand, and it's up to the collective effort of these heroes, some more unlikely than others, in this sprawling tale of corruption and violence.

    This book collects:
    Batman #8-9
    Nightwing #8-9
    All Star Western #9
    Catwoman #9
    Batgirl #9
    Batman: Dark Knight #9
    Batman & Robin #9
    Birds of Prey #9
    Red Hood & The Outlaws #9

    See this above?  This is why it's so difficult to follow a story line as it comes out.  You can wait for the TP to come out, but that usually takes quite awhile after the issues have been released.  Now, it is slightly awkward jumping from one series to the other as you're trying to read them in this TP.  It always feels like you're leaving off on something important only to be thrust into another important moment somewhere else.

    Anyhow, this tied everything up pretty nicely for me.  I don't know how I missed it before, but I did.  I've read a few issues from this already (Batman, Batgirl, etc.) but now it all makes more sense!

    the shadow hero

    the shadow hero
    gene luen yang & sonny liew
    first second
    published 2014

    The Shadow Hero is based on the golden-age comics series The Green Turtle, whose hero solved crimes and fought injustice just like any other comics hero.  But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding something more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity...The Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero.

    Now, exactly seventy years later, New York Times-bestselling author Gene Luen Yang has revived this nearly forgotten, pioneering character in a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the golden-age Green Turtle.

    With artwork by the unmatched Sonny Liew, this hilarious and insightful graphic novel about heroism and heritage is also a loving tribute to the long, rich tradition of American superhero comics.

    I was so into this book that I had no idea what was going on around me!

    This had everything I love about comics.  The origins, the history, an Asian-American main character, self made superheroics.....It was a dream!  The little blurb about the history of The Green Turtle at the end with the panels from the original strips were great!  The idea that this author hid the hero's identity from his readers?!

    The story itself is sad, funny, heartwarming and tense.  It really is such a great book and I found myself wishing Yang & Liew would continue on with a series of their own.  I met Gene Luen Yang briefly on Free Comic Book Day last year and he was so nice and approachable and after reading this (I've only read his Avatar books) I'm not a HUGE fan.  Lucky for me the library has all of his other titles so I'm off to get those as soon as possible.

    I've loved Sonny Liew's artwork in everything I've seen of his (Wonderland being my favorite) and this book is no different.  I just want to read through it again!

    locke & key: alpha & omega

    locke & key: alpha & omega
    joe hill & gabriel rodriguez
    published 2014

    It took two lifetimes and countless victims, but Lucas "Dodge" Caravaggio has his terrible prize at last: the key which will open The Black Door.  Disguised in the form of little Bode Locke, Dodge descends into the Drowning Cave, to throw back the door and release the demons on the other side.  Those who have stood against him for so long - Tyler, Kinsey, Scot, Nina, Rufus, and all the rest - take their places as the final tragedy unfolds...a confrontation between decency and hate in the caverns a hundred feet beneath Keyhouse, at the threshold of an evil kept for generations under lock and key.

    Oh, it's over and I am sad.  Such an incredibly imaginative series.  The characters are flawed and broken, but are trying so hard to redeem themselves and be better.  Everything is falling apart and many won't make it through to the end.  Joe Hill is an amazing writer.  He's able to scare the crap out of you, gross you out, make you cry, laugh and smile.  It's a huge plus that he has Gabriel Rodriguez to draw out everything so succinctly.  I had no idea where the story would go, nothing was predictable and I loved every panel.

    chew: bad apples

    chew: bad apples
    john layman & rob guillory
    image comics
    published 2013

    Tony Chu - the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats - is back in action, just in time to face a cult of egg-worshipping terrorists who've declared holy war on the chicken-eaters of the world.

    I looooooooooove Chew.  It really is one of my favorite series.  I love everything about it, there's nothing I don't love or would change (except maybe Toni's demise).  In Bad Apples we start out at Toni's funeral.  Tony is a changed man and no one is going to stand in his way to get to The Vampire and avenge his twin's death.  A cult has declared war against the chicken eaters and someone comes out of hiding to try to get others in their camp.

    The art is perfection.  The story is perfection.  Tony's lunch with Olive was so (surprisingly) heartfelt I almost cried!  I have at least another volume to go to catch up to the current issue which I started subscribing to).  I can't wait!

    bad houses

    bad houses
    sara ryan & carla speed mcneil
    dark horse
    published 2013

    Lives intersect in the most unexpected ways when teenagers Anne and Lewis cross paths at an estate sale in sleepy Failin, Oregon - a once-thriving logging community.  Now the town's businesses are crumbling, its citizens bitter and disaffected.  Anne and Lewis refuse to succumb to the fate of the older generation as they discover - together - the secrets of their hometown and their own families.

    There are times when an author decides to work on a graphic novel after only writing novels and the transition is a bit lost at times.  This is one of those times.  It felt like Ryan was bursting at the seems with story she wanted to tell, but wasn't used to the format writing it takes to tell a story in graphic novel form.  It was great when we find out who grumpy Fred really is and the flashback was enlightening, but in the end there was no conclusion.  It was just kind of left in the air.  I'm all of leaving some things untied, but it was built up here so much we deserved a neat little bow, or a messy bow.  That would have been okay too.

    The art was wonderful and told a lot of story we didn't get from the writer and despite the loose ends I still liked the story, liked the characters.  I just think for a coming of age story there wasn't a whole lot there.

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    friends with boys

    friends with boys
    faith erin hicks
    first second
    published 2012

    After years of homeschooling, Maggie is starting high school.  It's pretty terrifying.  Maggie's big brothers are there to watch her back, but ever since Mom left it just hasn't been the same.  Besides her brothers, Maggie's never had any real friends before.  Lucy and Alistair don't have lots of friends either.  But they eat lunch with her at school and bring her along on their small-town adventures.

    Missing mothers...distant brothers...high friends... It's a lot to deal with.  But there's just one more thing...

    I liked this one.  Plot-wise there's not much going on and everything kind of finishes slightly unresolved, but the art is great and feels really familiar to me even though I don't think I've seen Hick's work before.

    It's a great book for teens, about being different and accepting change, all that badness that you deal with in your teenage years.  I really did enjoy it and was kind of sad it went by so fast!

    tbr pile reading challenge

    The TBR challenges last year helped me check off a bunch of books so I thought I'd try it again this year.  I'll be returning to Bookish's challenge and you can sign up here!

    I haven't picked my books yet, but I am aiming for the Firm Handshake level which is 5-10 books.  I'll figure out what books I'd like to check off and update this soon!

    1. A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny
    2. The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny
    3. High Heat - Lee Child
    4. Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty
    5. The Other Side Of The Story - Marian Keyes
    6. Heart Of The Matter - Emily Giffin
    7. Four - Veronica Roth
    8. Joyland - Stephen King
    9. Darkfever - Karen Marie Moning
    10. Just Listen - Sarah Dessen

    ebook challenge

    Annette's Book Spot is hosting the eBook Reading challenge and I am attempting it again!  I didn't make it last year :(  so sad.  If you want to sign up you can do that at Annette's Book Spot here.

    Level Bytes (10 books)
    1. A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny
    2. The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny
    3. How The Light Gets In - Louise Penny
    4. A Visit From The Good Squad - Jennifer Egan
    5. High Heat - Lee Child
    6. Zac & Mia - AJ Betts

    high heat

    high heat
    jack reacher
    lee child #17.5
    delacorte press
    published 2013

    July 1977.  Jack Reacher is almost seventeen, and he stops in New York City on the way to visit his brother at West Point.  The summer heat is suffocating, the city is bankrupt, and the mad gunman known as Sam is still on the loose.  Reacher meets a woman with a problem and agrees to help her....but then the power grid fails and the lights go out, plunging the lawless city into chaos.  What does a visiting teenager do in the dark?  If that visiting teenager is Jack Reacher, the answer is plenty.

    An interesting little snippet into Reacher's life more than 30 years ago.  There is absolutely no reason to write these stories about him as a teenager, except, I think to insert such events as the terror that David Berkowitz caused in the 70's.  I say this because there is no difference between him as a 16 year old and him as a 46 year old.  You would never think that you were in the mind of a 16 year old because he think exactly like he does as an adult.  He's basically the same size as he is now so even that isn't different.

    Of course, that's not to say that this isn't a fun Reacher read.  He's coming to the rescue and the results are....surprising.  I was a little disappointed in the ending, but it is what it is.  Reacher's not really known for his happy endings, right?

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    snagged @the library

    This year the library challenge I'm participating in is hosted by The Geeky Blogger's Book Blog & The Book Nympho and it's called Snagged @ The Library.  So cute.  If you'd like to sign up too you can!  W00t!  You can do that here!  I'm starting with the Dewey Decimal level, but I will move up because I will count my graphic novels here since I do get them mostly from the library

    12/12 (Dewey Decimal) Completed 1.15.15
    23/24 (Thrifty Reader) Completed 2.18.15
    36/36 (Overdrive Junkie) Completed 2.25.15
    52/50 (Stalking the Book Stacks) Completed 5.14.15

    1. Festive In Death - JD Robb
    2. Batman & Robin: Born To Kill - Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray
    3. Batman & Robin: Pearl - Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray
    4. Batman & Robin: Death of the Family - Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray
    5. Batman & Robin: Requiem For Damian - Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray & Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
    6. Batman Incorporated: Demon Star - Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Frazer Irving & Andres Guinaldo
    7. Friends With Boys - Faith Erin Hicks
    8. Bad Houses - Sara Ryan & Carla Speed McNeil
    9. Chew: Bad Apples - John Layman & Rob Guillory
    10. Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega - Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
    11. The Shadow Hero - Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew
    12. Batman: Night Of The Owls - Scott Snyder and Various Others
    13. Revival: You're Among Friends - Tim Seeley & Mike Norton
    14. Curses! Foiled Again - Jane Yolen & Mike Cavallaro
    15. Level Up - Gene Luen Yang & Thien Pham
    16. Maniac Killer Strikes Again! - Richard Sala
    17. Batman Incorporated: Gotham's Most Wanted - Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham
    18. Detective Comics: Faces of Death - Tony S. Daniel
    19. Fatale: Death Chases Me - Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
    20. Zac & Mia - AJ Betts
    21. Atlantia - Ally Condie
    22. Confessions - Kanae Minato
    23. Dark Witch - Nora Roberts
    24. Dancing Home - Alma Flor Ada & Gabriel Zubizarreta
    25. American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang
    26. Boxers - Gene Luen Yang
    27. Saints - Gene Luen Yang
    28. Hidden - Loic Dauvillier
    29. Zita The Spacegirl - Ben Hatke
    30. Legend of Zita The Spacegirl - Ben Hatke
    31. Prime Baby - Gene Luen Yang
    32. Animal Crackers - Gene Luen Yang
    33. The Eternal Smile - Gene Luen Yang
    34. Malice - Keigo Higashino
    35. Green Angel - Alice Hoffman
    36. All The Bright Places - Jennifer Niven
    37. Last Winter We Parted - Fuminori Nakamura
    38. Amulet, Vol. 6 - Kazu Kibuishi
    39. Personal - Lee Child
    40. The Long Way Home - Louise Penny
    41. Shadow Spell - Nora Roberts
    42. Yes Please - Amy Poehler
    43. Not My Father's Son - Alan Cumming
    44. Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
    45. Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan
    46. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
    47. The Vanishing Season - Jodi Lynn Anderson
    48. Blood Magick - Nora Roberts
    49. A Place At The Table - Susan Rebecca White
    50. Hope To Die - James Patterson
    51. Gathering Prey - John Sandford
    52. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography - Neil Patrick Harris

    finishing the series

    Someday I will finish those series.  Trying again!

    Socrates Book Reviews is once again hosting the Finishing the Series challenge and I'm determined to try again and get caught up on some series.  You can sign up here.  I'm going with three series which is the Experienced level even though I say I'm starting low with my challenges.  It's only 10 books and some of these are layovers from last year.  :/

    Series 1 - Jack Reacher by Lee Child
    1. High Heat
    2. Not A Drill
    3. Personal
    4. Make Me
    Series 2 - Chief Inspector Armand Gamache by Louise Penny
    1. A Trick of the Light
    2. The Beautiful Mystery
    3. How The Light Gets In
    4. The Long Road Home
    Series 3 - In Death by JD Robb
    1. Festive In Death 
    2. Obsession In Death

    my kind of mystery

    Riedel Fascination is once again hosting the My Kind Of Mystery challenge.  This challenge runs from February 1, 2015 to February 1, 2016.  I'm going to be trying for the Secret Messages level, which is 10 books.  If you like you can sign up here.

    1. Festive In Death - JD Robb

    full house reading challenge

    I loved the Full House reading challenge last year so I'm going to try again!  You can sign up here if you'd like to read along.  Let's see who can get a blackout first!

    In my list there are some books I've earmarked for certain categories already.  I might change them, but they're what I'm working on right now.

    Here's the board for this year:

    1. Library Book: 
    2. Novella: High Heat - Lee Child
    3. Author outside your own country: A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny (Canada)
    4. Won or borrowed: Four - Veronica Roth (borrowed)
    5. 2nd book or more in a series: The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny (book #8)
    6. A top book of 2015 for you:
    7. Setting that you now want to visit:
    8. Book by author you really like: Festive in Death - JD Robb
    9. Book set in northern hemisphere:
    10. Been on your TBR 'forever': 
    11. You heard about the book online: All The Bright Places - Jennifer Niven
    12. Award winning: A Visit From The Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan (Pulitzer 2011)
    13. Free choice:
    14. Debut novel by author:
    15. Published in 2014: Atlantia - Ally Condie
    16. Set in the southern hemisphere: Zac & Mia - AJ Betts (Australia)
    17. First in a series:
    18. Published 2000-2013:
    19. Published pre-2000:
    20. Type of book you rarely or never read:
    21. Published in 2015:
    22. A keeper:
    23. Outstanding hero or heroine: How The Light Gets In - Louise Penny (CI Armand Gamache)
    24. Author new to you:
    25. You love the cover:

    festive in death

    festive in death
    in death #39
    jd robb
    putnam adult
    published 2014

    Personal trainer Trey Ziegler was in peak physical condition.  If you didn't count the kitchen knife in his well-toned chest.

    Lieutenant Eve Dallas soon discovers a lineup of women who'd been loved and left by the narcissistic gym rat.  While Dallas sorts through the list of Ziegler's enemies, she's also dealing with her Christmas shopping list - plus the guest list for her and her billionaire husband's upcoming holiday bash.

    Feeling less than festive, Dallas tries to put aside her distaste for the victim and solve the mystery of his death.  There are just a few investigating days left before Christmas, and as New Year's 2061 approaches this homicide cop is resolved to stop a cold-blooded killer.

    It's harder to be invested in finding a killer when you really just can't stand the victim.  Which is quite the point of this case.  Eve will stand for the dead, no matter how much of an asshole he is.  And the suspects are sympathetic, except one who doesn't really seem to get what they deserve.

    For me, this time, I was more absorbed in the personal life part of the story than the case.  I found myself wishing she'd just wrap it all up so we could move on to the Christmas party and all the festivities afterward.  I wanted to read about her hanging out with Peabody and McNab just chit chatting and having some dinner.

    These characters have become so familiar to me that I don't even really need a story.  I can just read about what they're doing.  But in my opinion the case seemed to unnecessarily drag on and I was ready for it to wrap up.  She consults with far too many friends who are 'experts' in their fields.  Even Mira, this time, felt kind of unnecessary to me because the victim seemed to apparent.  But it is what it is.

    graphic novels & manga challenge

    Once again I'm doing the Graphic Novels & Manga challenge hosted by Nicola.  I'm not including my GNs in my 'regular' book lists so I'll be using this to keep track.  If you're interested in signing up you can do that here!

    I'm starting with the Modern Age level (12 books) Completed 1.15.15
    Bronze Age (24 books)
    1. Batman & Robin: Born To Kill - Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray
    2. Batman & Robin: Pearl - Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray
    3. Batman & Robin: Death of the Family - Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray
    4. Batman & Robin: Requiem For Damian - Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray & Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
    5. Batman Incorporated: Demon Star - Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Frazer Irving & Andres Guinaldo
    6. Friends With Boys - Faith Erin Hicks
    7. Bad Houses - Sara Ryan & Carla Speed McNeil
    8. Chew: Bad Apples - John Layman & Rob Guillory
    9. Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega - Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
    10. The Shadow Hero - Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew
    11. Batman: Night Of The Owls - Scott Snyder & Various Others
    12. Revival: You're Among Friends - Tim Seeley & Mike Norton
    13. Curses! Foiled Again - Jane Yolen & Mike Cavallaro
    14. Level Up - Gene Luen Yang & Thien Pham
    15. Maniac Killer Strikes Again! - Richard Sala
    16. Batman Incorporated: Gotham's Most Wanted - Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham
    17. Detective Comics: Faces of Death - Tony S. Daniel
    18. Fatale: Death Chases Me - Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

    batman incorporated: demon star

    batman incorporated: demon star
    grant morrison, chris burnham & frazer irving
    dc comics
    published 2013

    Eisner Award-winning fan-favorite writer Grant Morrison concludes the Batman epic he began nearly a decade about in Batman & Son, pitting the entirety of Batman Incorporated against the Leviathan organization headed by the Dark Knight's former romantic interest Talia al Ghul.  As Leviathan enacts a plan that threatens the world, Batman and his allies must fight against the riding storm, but not everyone will make it out of the encounter alive.

    Kind of jumbled and all over the place.  It seemed like Morrison was trying to pack a bunch of info in a few panels.  And to be honest, it feels more like a Batman & Robin story, not a Batman Incorporated.  The art is.....ugly.  I mean, yes, it's drawn way better than I can draw anything, but everyone is just really, really ugly.  It reminds me of Beavis & Butthead.  Not good.

    I read something somewhere in which someone said Grant Morrison is more of a concept guy than an execution guy and it makes complete sense to me now.  It makes me a little hesitant to pick up anything else he's written although I have the next volume here because I have to seeing as it ties in with everything else across the board.  Grrrrrr

    Saturday, January 10, 2015

    reading challenge addict

    I was overly ambitious last year and failed miserably, but this year I'm determined to try again with a little more success.  Let's go Challenge Addict!  You can sign up here if you're a challenge nut too.

    1. You Read How Many Books?
    2. Popsugar Ultimate Reading Challenge
    3. Cruisin' The Cozies
    4. Full House
    5. New Author
    6. TBR Pile
    7. Around The World
    8. eBook
    9. My Kind Of Mystery
    10. Finish The Series
    11. Monthly Motif
    12. Graphic Novels & Manga
    13. Snagged @ The Library

    cruisin' thru the cozies

    I tried this challenge last year, but didn't quite make it.  So I'm trying again, but lowering my goal to something more realistic.  I can always go up if I make it.  Socrates Review is hosting again and you can sign up here.

    Snoop (6 books)
    1. A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny
    2. The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny
    3. How The Light Gets In - Louise Penny

    Friday, January 9, 2015

    monthly motif challenge

    I'm attempting the monthly motif challenge!  hahaha  We'll see how well that goes.

    Hosted by Bookmark To Blog every month you read a different book that fits into the assigned category.  Only one book a month!  Should be manageable, right?  If you'd like to attempt with me you can do that here.  The awesome things about this challenge is that I can read them out of order, which is awesome because I've already read February's!

    Here's the categories:

    JAN- Book to Movie or Audio
    Read a book that has a movie based off of it. For an extra challenge, see the movie or listen to the audio book as well.
    FEBAward Winner
    Read a book that has won recognition or a literary award.  Here's a list of literary awards to help you get started on your search: Literary Awards.
    MAR-  Genre Jumble Read a book in a genre that you've never tried or that you're least familiar with. For example, if you typically reach for romance novels, try a mystery this time. Ask your local librarian for great suggestions on the genre your least familiar with.
    APRMystery, Murder, and Mayhem 
    Read a murder/mystery book, a book in which someone dies of mysterious causes, or a book in which the truth must come out.
    MAYLibrary Love
    Show your library some love and visit your local branch. Choose a book to read that they have on display.
    JUN Take A Trip 
    Choose a book to read that takes place in a country different than the one you live in or choose a book written by an author that is from a country different than your own.
    JULStanding Up
    Read a book in which the main character stands up for themselves, stands against an enemy, or stands up for something they believe in.
    AUGAlternate Reality
    Read a book that's set in the future, on another planet, in another dimension, or in an unknown world. A Dystopian book will count this month as well. 
    SEPFurry Friends
    Read a book that includes an animal either as a main character or supporting character. Horses, cats, dogs, insects, bird, etc. The book doesn't have to be about the animal but the animal needs to play some sort of role in the story or be mentioned several times throughout the book.
    OCTGoblins, and Ghost, and Ghouls, Oh My!
    Cozy mystery ghost stories, paranormal creeptastic, funky fantasy creatures- it's up to you!
    NOVAn Oldie but a Goodie
    Pick a book published before 2000 that you've always wanted to read, but just never got to. Or pick a book set in the past (before 2000). 
    DECThat's a Wrap
    Finish a series you've been meaning to finish or read the next book in a series you started but never finished

    1. Award Winner: A Visit From The Good Squad - Jennifer Egan (2011 Pulitzer Winner)

    a visit from the goon squad

    a visit from the goon squad
    jennifer egan
    published 2010

    Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive.  Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs.  Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs.  With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

    I find it interesting that people who didn't like this book complained about how it was a book of short stories and not a novel as described.  I can see how they would perceive it as such, if they didn't actually read the book.  I really, really liked the book.  It grew on me.  I wasn't sure that I would like it because I couldn't really find anything that mentioned what the book was about.  What was the plot?  Who was the main character?  But before I knew it I was sucked in and I didn't care.  I was sold.

    I loved how every character was connected in some way.  I loved their stories and the glimpses into these moments in time, but sometimes I felt a little cheated that I didn't get more.  Before I knew it though, I was onto the next snippet and lost in another character's moment.  My favorite moment?  Alison's slideshow.  Oh the feels.

    Did the book deserve a Pulitzer?  I have no idea.  I'm not that kind of reader.  The only other Pulitzer winning book I've read that I know of is Olive Kitteridge and I don't remember loving it that much so I'm not the best judge!  Is the book worth reading?  I think so.  I think if you go in with no expectations and just read because reading is rad you will find yourself, like I did, mesmerized.

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    pop sugar reading challenge

    Well, we all knew my limit on reading challenges could only go on for so long.

    I'm sure you're aware of the Pop Sugar reading challenge that's been going around, especially if you're at all into books.  I decided to lazily attempt this one.  I'm not really going to go out of my way to check off the books on this list, but will try to complete it by reading off my TBR list.

    It's basically a book a week so I don't know if I'll get to them all, but we'll see.
    1. More than 500 pages:
    2. Classic romance:
    3. Became a movie:
    4. Published this year:
    5. A number in the title:
    6. Written by someone under 30:
    7. Nonhuman characters:
    8. A funny book:
    9. Female author:
    10. Mystery or thriller: A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny
    11. One-Word Title: Atlantia - Ally Condie
    12. Short stories:
    13. Set in a different country: The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny
    14. Nonfiction:
    15. Popular author's first book:
    16. A book from an author you love, but haven't read yet:
    17. Recommendation from a friend:
    18. Pulitzer Prize-winner: A Visit From The Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan
    19. Based on a true story:
    20. Bottom of your tbr list:
    21. A book your mom loves:
    22. A book that scares you:
    23. A book more than 100 years old:
    24. Based entirely on its cover:
    25. A book you were supposed to read in school, but didn't:
    26. A memoir:
    27. Finish in a day:
    28. A book with antonyms in the title:
    29. Somewhere you've always wanted to visit:
    30. Published the year you were born:
    31. Bad reviews:
    32. A trilogy:
    33. Childhood:
    34. A love triangle:
    35. Set in the future: Festive In Death - JD Robb (2060)
    36. Set in high school:
    37. A color in the title:
    38. Made you cry: Zac & Mia - AJ Betts
    39. Magic:
    40. A graphic novel:
    41. New to you author:
    42. A book you own, but have never read:
    43. Takes place in your hometown:
    44. Originally written in another language:
    45. Set during Christmas: How The Light Gets In - Louise Penny 
    46. Author has your initials:
    47. A play:
    48. A banned book:
    49. Based on or turned into a TV show:
    50. A book you started but never finished:

    how the light gets in

    how the light gets in
    armand gamache #9
    louise penny
    minotaur books
    published 2013

    As a fierce, unrelenting winter grips Quebec, shadows are closing in on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department and hostile forces are lining up against him. 

    When Gamache receives a message about a mysterious case in Three Pines, he is compelled to investigate -- a woman who was once one of the most famous people in the world has vanished. 

    As he begins to shed light on the investigation, he is drawn into a web of murder, lies and unimaginable corruption at the heart of the city. Facing his most challenging, and personal, case to date, can Gamache save the reputation of the Sûreté, those he holds dear and himself?

    The one benefit to being sick is that I have only the energy to read.  And not even from a physical book that requires page turning, but just my Kindle that only needs a tap from a finger.  So in a couple of days I've nearly caught up with Chief Inspector Gamache and it is brilliant.

    My heart was broken at the end of The Beautiful Mystery when Beauvoir joins Francoeur on that little plane.  I couldn't believe that it was really happening and like Agent Lacoste I thought maybe it was a ploy, a secret plan between Gamache and Beauvoir to infiltrate Francoeur's inner circle, but alas.

    I think I've said this about the last two books as well, but truly this book was not about the murder mystery but of the events that began with Arnot well before the first book.  This is the end game.  And it was a nail biter.  

    Penny is a fantastic writer.  All along she has built characters that are so deep and rich you can't help but feel you must know them as real people.  She's strung us along, always with this story in the background, nipping at the heels of the Chief.  Finally, it is over. 

    I love Three Pines.  I love every person in that town and the growth of these characters was no more apparent than in this book.  The villagers who rallied around good and fought against evil because they loved a man who had admitted to them he was flawed.  A man who desperately wanted to fix what was broken, even if that meant breaking himself.

    It is a damn good series.  Probably one of the best I've read.  Thankfully, there is still more story to tell.

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

    the beautiful mystery

    the beautiful mystery
    armand gamache #8
    louise penny
    minotaur books
    published 2012

    No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Québec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”

    But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

    I sometimes feel that the books that do not take place in Three Pines are not as good.  I like the familiar characters and setting, one of the benefits of reading a series and for the most part, those that have taken place outside of Three Pines have not been my favorites.  The Beautiful Mystery has broken that streak.

    More tense than its predecessors, The Beautiful Mystery sometimes felt like a horror/thriller.  Trapped inside a centuries old monastery in the middle of the wilderness with a murderer sounds bad enough, but then you introduce an old villain and everything gets even more electrifying.  There are moments that you can see coming a mile ahead and you wish you could reach into the book and stop the wreck from happening.

    But you can't.  And the wreck happens as intended, with pieces strewn everywhere.  Leaving the reader to wonder where to go from here.  

    Again, the murder mystery is almost secondary to the storyline that has plagued the Chief since events even before Still Life.  Here is the culmination of everything that has been working against him since the beginning.  There is no happy ending here.

    you read how many books?

    Last year I didn't complete all the challenges I wanted to.  I came close, but I got distracted by new hobbies!  To be a little realistic this year I'm going to start small.  I'm still going to work at a bunch of challenges because I just can't resist!  It's quite the addiction.  But I am going to scale down the levels to which I participate.  I figure I can always move up if I need to.  I tend to start out the year strong and then start getting distracted!

    I'll be sticking with Book Dragon Lair's You Read How Many Books challenge.  I'm starting at the first level, 100 books.  If you'd like to sign up you can do so here.
    1. A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny
    2. The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny
    3. How The Light Gets In - Louise Penny
    4. A Visit From The Good Squad - Jennifer Egan
    5. Festive In Death - JD Robb
    6. High Heat - Lee Child
    7. Zac & Mia - AJ Betts
    8. Atlantia - Ally Condie

    batman & robin

    batman & robin: born to kill
    batman & robin: pearl
    batman & robin: death of the family
    batman & robin: requiem for damian
    peter tomasi, patrick gleason, mick gray & jose luis garcia-lopez
    dc comics
    published 2012-2014

    As Batman begins battling evil with his son, Damian, at his side he now realizes that the hardest part of the job may be trying to work together.  As Batman & Robin try to adjust to their new partnership, a figure emerges from Bruce Wayne's past: His name is Nobody and he's not happy that Batman Incorporated is shining a light on his own shadowy war against evil....

    My one major dislike about DC comics (at least the Gotham universe ones) is that there is shit going on across every series and they are all intertwined, but separate.  So I'm reading Batman and realize there's some stuff that contributes to the story in an issue of Nightwing.  Or I'm catching up on Batgirl and find out there was some major betrayal that happened back in Birds of Prey issue #10.  I should be reading them every week across the board, but I started with one series and started collecting another and then another.  But if I were to collect them all, well, that's a lot.  Batman, Detective Comics, Batman Incorporated, Batman & Robin, Nightwing, Red Hood & the Outlaws, Catwoman, Batgirl, Batwoman, Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn, Birds of Prey, Teen Titans....those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.  It's a lot.

    Anyway, Damian is a hard character to like at first.  He's a spoiled little brat.  Period.  But he's hilarious at times and brings some light to a mostly dark series.  But not a lot.  After all, he is a killing machine at 10 years old.  Yet there is so much missing, stuff that happens in another series that makes reading this straight through feel as if you're missing giant pieces to a puzzle.  In fact, the most defining moment of this series, the reason for nearly 20 issues after doesn't even happen in this series.

    Putting that aside, it is a good series.  Seeing Batman struggle with how to raise his child, how to undo the damage that his mother has done is what keeps you reading.  It's certainly worth the read.

    Disqus for know-it-not-so-much