kitchendinah: (reading)

Actually, let's get to those reviews now.

1.) Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion (zombies, fantasy)
2.) The Rook - Daniel O'Malley (supernatural)
3.) Soulless (Parasol Protectorate v.1) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
4.) Changeless (Parasol Protectorate v.2) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
5.) Blameless (Parasol Protectorate v.3) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
6.) Heartless (Parasol Protectorate v.4) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
7.) The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern (fantasy)

clicky )
Coming up: A bunch of GNs I've been threatening to read for the last little while, a couple of YA - including the new John Green (which I understand is going to make me want to take a long walk off a short pier in a good way,) and something that a good friend is convinced is just redressed fanfic - and at some point we're going to restart Connie Willis' All Clear and actually finish it this time. I'm still not sure what happened there.
kitchendinah: (reading)
I think I’ve finally reconciled this list with Goodreads, which was more of a project than it ought to have been. (I’ve been tagging everything over there by year read (moving stuff over to 2012 already, le sigh,) and those numbers were different than the numbers here and also on the Goodreads reading challenge tracker, which only counts the damned things if you remember to fill in a particular field, which I often don’t. Still: useful tool.)

Anyway. It looks like we hit 65 this year which is not as good as in years past, but better than last year (which I don’t have the stats for, I just know it wasn’t a good year for reading. I am kicking myself for letting 2009 and 2010 get away from me like that.) Keeping in mind that I’ve picked up an extracurricular or two, it’s pretty damned spectacular, all things considered. As usual there’s way too much romance in the list, a distinct reduction in YA (which isn’t to say I didn’t ready any, just not as much as I have previously,) and a definite uptick in the fantasy/horror genre. I read a purely ridiculous amount of horror back in high school (King, Koontz, and Saul were my holy trinity,) so I’m amused by the fact that I seem to be swinging back in that direction, although much of it is technically urban fantasy or is mired in the gooey ‘supernatural’ category, which translates to ‘romance, with extra vampires’ nine times out of ten. But dude, monsters and eviscerations are monsters and eviscerations. And some of this stuff is a bit rougher than Lightning, I’m just saying.

I got a Kindle for Christmas last year (as I’m sure you all know and are sick of hearing about,) and I have to say that I think it’s responsible for the numbers being as high as they are. Of the 65 books on the list, 7 of them were paper, and 3 of those were comic book trades which would have suffered for having been electronic as the Kindle is e-ink and doesn’t do color. (That would be the Fire that does color.) Reading books electronically means that provided I can get to a wireless connection, I have immediate access to pretty much whatever the heck I’m jonesing for right that second. Finish the first book in a series and HAVE to have the next one right that very second? No need to bundle up, hop in the car, and fight the throngs at the mall only to discover that Barnes & Noble doesn’t have a copy in stock right now, I can download it in under a minute. And hey, I don’t need sleep, I can finish the 3rd before work starts, right? It’s dangerous. But is also means 1.) when I have the time I can spend 6-10 hours at a stretch reading though everything I can get my hands on without having to stop because I’ve run out of books and/or need to go get something, and 2.) I can take everything I’m working on with me and pick at it whenever I have a moment. (For example, I usually read over lunch, but today, friends and neighbors, I am working on putting this together…so I can spend Sunday reading in peace.)

In any event, if I didn’t have such easy access to books, I probably wouldn’t read as many of them, and would possibly consider my purchases more carefully. Where’s the fun in that?

Totals
Overall: 65

Top 3 Genres

Romance: 26 (Not quite half. Better than I was expecting!)
Fantasy: 19 (Does not count YA or comics.)
YA: 7 (Really? Huh.)

Subgenres (only counted if 2 or more books/serials are involved.)
Zombie: 4
Steampunk: 4
Time travel: 3 (Really, I need to boost this number.)

Sub-subgenres:

Steampunk zombie: 3 (Although to be fair, one of the Steampunk stories not included IS within the zombie-filled universe, they’re just not featured.)

Series I read on a whim and was surprisingly pleased by:

Downside Ghosts series – It’s not the best thing on Earth or necessarily for everyone as there are drugs and triggery violence throughout the whole thing and the second book is a bit of a retread of the first one, but I still liked it oodles.

Series I read on a whim and was disappointed by:
The Disillusionists series. There are some good ideas in there and the author does have some moments where things work well together, but overall it lacks…maturity? I think. Her writing just isn't there yet. And the heroine is frequently hit by the TSTL stick. Also! Damned if she doesn’t do that thing where she puts important information in a short story in an anthology that people might not read. (Which I did, which is why I read the series, but man, there is nothing like that to quite build my ill-will.)

Series that were a total waste of my time and money, but I don’t actually regret it:
The Night Huntress series. This is so not good. AND YET. I blame the romances for softening up my brain.

Author Overdose: Courtney Milan

Recommended unreservedly:
  • Boneshaker – Excellent world building, relatively unique setting, does not fall into the trap of being overly precious or sentimental about being steampunk. Also, as a bonus to those who look upon the vast amount of romance I consume with horror: there is no romance in this.
  • Feed (Newsflesh #1) – Not recommending the series because I’m concerned that the 3rd book won’t be able to stick the dismount when it’s published, but the first on holds up well as a standalone. Snarky and creepy, plays around with the whole politics vs. the media thing well. I don’t want to say it’s like Transmetropolitan because it’s not, but it gives off a similar vibe, if with less in-your-face outrageous obscenity.
  • Heart of Steel (Iron Seas #2) – I think this was a better adventure book than the first one which was much more of a romance. I’m a bit conflicted recommending HoS over The Iron Duke because that one did most of the universe building that is useful to know, but it does get covered in this book, if not to the depth of the previous, and this does end up being the rare sequel I do like better than the original. (Although I am not by any means disparaging ID, which I did like very much.)
  • Blackout (All Clear v1.) I don’t really have to say more than Connie Willis and WWII here, right?
  • 11/22/63 – Do you miss epic, old school Stephen King, before he got all weird? You know, right around Dolores Claibourne and you wondered what the hell happened that he needed to inflict that on his readers? Because, man, I sure did. This is not a 100% complete return to form, but damned if it doesn’t feel right. Even if you’re not a fan of the ending (and I’m really on the fence about it,) the rest of the story is just fab and worth the time.

Recommended with reservations:
  • The Knitter’s Book of Yarn – A lot of the information in the book is probably most useful to novice knitters, but the patterns are lovely and good for a whole range of folks. Obvs, this would probably be most useful for a knitter or someone who wants to give a knitter a nice present related to their hobby and isn’t sure about this whole ‘yarn’ thing.
  • Bossypants – Humor is subjective. I think it was a good and funny book, but I can see where not everyone would agree with me on this. If you’re not a fan of Tina Fey, I’d probably avoid it.
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – I really liked the way the author made use of vintage photographs in the book and it is an inventive and dense little world that’s been created here. And time travel, how can I not love time travel? But at the same time, it moved a bit slow and as the first book in a series with no published sequels that will not hold up well as a standalone, I’m often a bit reluctant to push them on people if I don’t have a real sense that it’s not a fluke.
  • Ready Player One – You didn’t think I’d rec this, did you? Look, despite my problems with the book which decidedly affect my ability to enjoy the story, it really is a well-written geekfest that I think a lot of people will like.
  • Unraveled (Turner #3) – Again, my favorite of a series, probably can be read just fine outside of the whole. I tend to favor emotionally stunted heroes (who are not assholes,) what can I say. The whole series is fine (although I recommend skipping the little novella if, like me, you have issues with bullying and being bullied.)

Kill it, kill it with fire:
  • School for Brides – I just. No. So bad.

One of these years I'd like to get through the annual summary without something that deserves to be in the 'kill it with fire' category, but that seems unlikely.
The list for 2011 )
kitchendinah: (reading)
I cannot be bothered to do proper reviews tonight. Or figure out where I've miscounted. My numbers here and on Goodreads aren't lining up.

48. One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress #2) - Jeaniene Frost (supernatural romance)
49. At Grave's End (Night Huntress #3) - Jeaniene Frost (supernatural romance)
50. Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress #4) - Jeaniene Frost (supernatural romance)
Angry young half vampire falls in love with a possessive Spike clone, proceeds have a tempestuous romance while  also managing to get involved with a covert government program, and lots of undead individuals kick the bucket. So, yeah. Is this a great series? Hell, I'm not even sure it's a good one. But it is cracky, the male lead is a shameless ripoff (I'm fascinated by how blatant it is,) and the author likes to burn through set pieces in an impressive fashion. I like that she's not afraid to shake up the status quo (in so much as it doesn't disturb the trajectory of the romance.) Library-worthy if you have a strong stomach for this sort of thing.

51. Hounded (Iron Druid #1) - Kevin Hearne (fantasy)
Ancient druid stealthily lives the life fantastic in Arizona, gets messed with by crazy Celtic gods, saves the day. Dude is a total Marty Stu - good looking, rich, loaded with powers and allies, and all the ladies want him. (And they have him.) Despite this and the rather creepy ending, the lead is still very likeable and I never wanted to parker the book across the room. My main issue was that because of all of his assets, nothing ever seemed like a real danger and the story never built up a believable level of tension. All challenges to his well being were dispatched with ease. I will probably try out the next one in the series.

52. Fables: Witches (vol. 14) - Willingham et al. (comics)
53. Fables: Rose Red (vol. 15) - Willingham et al. (comics)
It's not that I don't still enjoy this series, but I'm not invested any more. All of my favorites have been bumped off of shunted off to their own kingdoms, and I'm fairly meh about the far. (I can only stand so much moping by Red.) So, they're an absorbing read and gorgeous as always, but I just don't care about them.

54. Heart of Steel (Iron Seas #2) - Meljean Brooks (fantasy)
I really enjoy this series. Very steampunky, very action packed, very adventure filled. I totally recommend it.

55. The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (vol. 1) - Carey/Gross (comics)
I'm withholding a review on these until I finish the run of trades I have.

56. Lord and Lady Spy - Shana Galen (romance)
Meh. I mean, it's serviceable and props for not being a straight up retread of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but seriously? The opening premise was kind of unbelievable.

57. Deadline (Newsflesh #2) - Mira Grant
I was a little leery about this one given that I'd seen mixed reviews around. I'd honestly expected a really action packed first third or so and then the rest of the book being boring exposition. and to be fair, there is a lot of telling and not showing as well as repeating things, and  Grant relies maybe a little too heavily on a particular narrative crutch, but it still zips right along and shit just keeps getting worse for the characters, which is pretty awesome. Looking forward to the next one.

kitchendinah: (reading)
Fake reviews, not real ones.

37. Wild and Steamy - Meljean Brook, Jill Myles, Carolyn Crane (Supernatural) Anthology, purchased both because it was wicked cheap and because I wanted to read the brooks story, which is part of her steampunky Iron Seas series. It was very cute, and though I wanted to occasionally smack the heroine for her xenophobia, it was understandable within the context of her universe. (And really, I was there for Constable Newberry, anyway.) The Jill Myles story was fine, but I'm not really into the whole werewhatever scene, and I got tired of the heroine emphasizing how sexually insatiable her two-naturedness made her. The Carolyn Crane story was really not what I expected. Kind of noir superhero-y, and I definitely visualized it with Dini art. There are bits of her storytelling I think she needs to tighten up on - her names for things are a bit simplistic, frex -but if this is the stuff she's putting out, I'm definitely going to look for a full length novel from her.

38. Unholy Ghosts - Stacia Kane (Supernatural)
39. Unholy Magic - Stacia Kane (Supernatural)
40. City of Ghosts - Stacia Kane (Supernatural) Ongoing series (not a trilogy, thank Cthulhu, I'm so sick of trilogies,) post apocalyptic world which was caused by ghosts (not zombies) rising and killing a purely ridiculous amount of the worlds population. Conventional religion is abandoned, the Church (which preaches Truth) is responsible for keeping the population safe from the undead. Chess Putnam is one of several churchwitches who perform banishments to keep hauntings (real and faked) in check. Chess is also a major junkie, something she's been able to hide from the Church, but has gotten her in hot water with her dealer, who now requires a favor. I don't know that I'd necessarily classify this series as good (she's a little repetitive and I figured out the first two books before we hit the halfway mark,) but it's addictive. I like the world Kane's created, the supporting characters are interesting, (LOVE Terrible,) and she does not shy away from the gruesome. It should be noted that there are major rape triggers for folks, if that's a concern. Chess was not treated well as a foster child and she references it a lot as justification for her drug use. Despite that, I'm actively looking forward to the next book. Yay escapism.

41. A Lady's Lesson in Scandal - Meredith Duran (Romance) Okay, raise your hands if you've ever seen Anastasia. Cut out the Russian Revolution/Grand Duchess aspect out of that and you've basically got the plot. It was fun and Duran has gone with a slightly more cutthroat Eliza Doolittle for a heroine than you usually see in these types of things.

42. Feed - Mira Grant (Zombies) Yeah, I have nothing but love for this one. Post-Zombie world that just starting to get it's act together. Most of the population stays huddled in safe zones, rarely going out and living through on the newsmedia and giving rise to superstar internet personalities: aka bloggers. As the presidential election cycle ramps up, one such brother and sister blogger team have been selected to be part of the entourage for a rising young candidate. It goes about as well as you can imagine. While not nearly as obscenity and crack fueled as Transmetropolitan, I think folks who enjoyed that will like this a lot. Also, if you're a fan of the October O'Daye books (I was not,) it's the same author under a different pseudonym. (I don't hold those books against her.) This is part of a trilogy, unfortunately and I have heard the second book is a bit filler-y, so be aware of that going in. This book does resolve well enough to be considered a standalone if you decide against reading the second.

43. Her Royal Spyness #5: Naughty in Nice - Rhys Bowen (Mystery) Standard Operating Procedure: Georgie's in a bit of a pickle, the Queen comes up with some crackaddled problem for her to solve, Georgie is whisked away to the lap of 30's luxury and gets herself into all kinds of adorable scrapes while managing to ultimately save the day. A little darker than these books usually get towards the end, but is largley eminently suited to a Jeeves and Wooster-esque soundtrack.  Features Coco Chanel and some smart alecky remarks from Wallis Simpson.

44. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline (Nerdgasm) Reclusive, rich computer genius who created a virtual world that everyone practically lives in these days (more Second Life in structure, less WoW,) dies and leaves an unsolvable Easter Egg hunt for his would-be heir to his fortune and company shares. Which would be everyone in the entire world and an evil ISP that wants to win the race to find the keys and do nefarious, monetizing things to the virtual world. Filled with 80s pop nostalgia and geekery of all stripes. I don't necessarily think it's a badly written book in terms of plotting, pacing and voice, but I really dislike the way the author uses women and minorities in it on the rare occasions they are featured. We've discussed my issues before.

45. Record Collecting for Girls - Courtney E. Smith (Memoir) NOT a guide for collecting records, more of a women's real-life High Fidelity. Smith was a music programmer of sorts for MTV during the early parts of the decade and is ye verily, a major music geek and talks about it in a series of short essays on the subjects of dating, identifying the Next Madonna, and creating one's Top Five list. Smith and I appear to be the same age, have the same musical background, and listen to many of the same bands - at least on a high level. To say I over identified with a lot of the things she talks about in this book would be an understatement.

46. Unclaimed - Courtney Milan (Romance) Turner Series, brother #2. Mark's written a book on Male Chastity. Queen Vicky loves it, it's become a runaway success, there are idiots running around with blue cockades in their hats who have formed a Male Chastity Brigade (or somat) and Mark just needs to get the hell away from it all. So he runs away to the small village he grew up in and is promptly set upon by a desperate courtesan who is trying to despoil him to make a fast buck off one of his enemies so she can retire to her happily ever after. And wouldn't you know it? Those two crazy kids fall in Love. Both Jessica and Mark have some youthful damage they need to work though, and Jessica's reputation is a major barrier, but in the end true love prevails and they get their happily ever after. Cute, still liked the previous one better. Mark's a bit of a goody-goody.

47. Night Hunter Series #1: Halfway to the Grave - Jeaniene Frost (Supernatural with vampires) It was two dollars. Both Smart Bitches and Dear Author seemed to like it. DUDE, WHY DID THEY NOT TELL ME THE HERO WAS A SPIKE RIPOFF? I mean seriously. Peroxided blond Englishman, roughish accent, two hundred years old and change, the heroine buys him a black leather trench for Christmas. Aie. Half-vampire Catherine is out seeking revenge on the vampire who raped and knocked up her mother by killing all of the bloodsuckers she comes across, until she tangles with one who gets the better of her. Bones, (which immediately called up images of Boreanez, let me tell you what,) the hottie vampire in question agrees to let her live if she helps him hunt down a vampire he's looking to take out. As bait, basically. They fall in love. Or rather he does, she stomps around ranting about how tortured she is like book five Harry Potter. It ain't all caps, but it's close. And then she snaps out of it (sorta) and falls in love and they try to take out the big bad together and then it gets really spoilery, but I think telling you that the next book opens with a four year gap between this one and that one may give you a clue to the Happily Ever Afterness of the ending. I...am not entirely certain why I'm reading the second book, to be quite honest. But I am. Because I am a glutton for punishment.

I may be getting a little punchy.

So that's where we're at. I'm hoping to hit 60 by the end of the year. I just got addicted to Breaking Bad, (hate Walter. Hate Walter SO MUCH) however, so I'm not promising anything.

kitchendinah: (reading)
27. Proof of Seduction – Courtney Milan (Romance)
28. Trial by Desire – Courtney Milan (Romance)
29. Unveiled – Courtney Milan (Romance)
30. Unlocked – Courtney Milan (Romance)
31. A View to a Kiss – Caroline Linden (Romance)
32. His Every Kiss – Laura lee Guhrke (Romance)
33. Divergent – Veronica Roth (YA Dystopia)
34. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs (YA Fantasy)
35. Ghost Story (Dresden) – Jim Butcher (Fantasy)
36. Blackout – Connie Willis (Scifi)

commentary )

Next up (for realsies): All Clear, Clementine (Boneshaker universe), and the next one in the Iron Duke universe that I can't remember the name of and won't be out until maybe September.
kitchendinah: (reading)
19. Just Like Heaven - Julia Quinn (romance)
20. Secrets of a Proper Countess - Lecia Cornwall (romance)
21. Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart - Sarah MacLean (romance)
22. Invisible Things - Jenny Davidson (YA AU)
23. Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse) - Charlaine Harris (Vampers)
24. Bossypants - Tina Fey (Humor)
25. School for Brides - Cheryl Ann Smith (romance)
26. Beauty Queens - Libba Bray (YA)

reviews )
kitchendinah: (reading)
Did not read nearly as much this month, too much knitting to do and TV to watch. Everything was electric this month, no paper crossed my hands. Next month I hope lay off the trashy romances a bit to clear some of the YA I've been meaning to read - Behemoth, the flapper Luxe novel, and the new Cassie Claire (for reasons that continue to escape me.)

14. Scandal of the Season: Abandoned at the Altar - Laura Lee Guhkie (Romance)
15. Lord of Scoundrels - Loretta Chase (Romance)
16. 10 Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord - Sarah Maclean (Romance)
17. Where Shadows Dance - C.S. Harris (Mystery)
18. Hold Me Closer Necromancer - Lish McBride(Young Adult)

Cranky bitching in the guise of halfhearted reviews. )--

Okay! Seeing as I'm bitching, Let's talk about Side Jobs, like I've been promising for a while now.

The problem with producing a collection of (mostly) previously published series-related shorts is that 1.) they are all over the place in continuity and importance as they relate to the overall series, and 2.) (more importantly) often they contain plot points that you probably would have liked to know before they were referenced in the novels. Drives me up a freaking wall. I know that these shorts were largely written for themed anthologies and they're a nice way to attract new readers to the series and get out some of those one-off ideas, but seriously authors? Putting major plot points in shorts that readers of the ongoing series may or may not realize exist (or have a desire to buy, steal or ILL,) is a really cruddy thing to do.

The Dresden series isn't even that bad, really, it just got my ire up on the subject again. The only story I can think of off the top of my head that I wish had been read in context was the one where Billy and Georgia got married, (and yeah the last one with Murphy also needs to be read before Ghost Story comes out, but I'm less enraged about that because being collected with the rest of the Dresden stories brings it back in with the overall series. But damn it's be nice if they numbered the books so you knew you had them in the right order, wouldn't it? What if someone decides to read this as like their third book and spoils the hell out of themselves by accident?) Anyway, the one that REALLY burns me is the Sookie Stackhouse collection. I'm reading along in the broader series and oh hey, look! Sookie's got a human cousin who has got a thing going on with the Queen of Louisiana. Not a big deal. THE VERY NEXT BOOK: Wait, what do you mean the cousin got turned into a vampire and now she's dead and it was this whole big thing and Sookie was there for it?! (Or something like that. I still haven't read the thing, I'm so pissed.) And it really wasn't a minor plot point like the Billy/Georgia thing, it's had repercussions throughout the series. It was, in my ever so freaking humble opinion, a really shitty thing to do to her readers.

Anyway, authors! I'm not hating on short stories. I'm hating on the way you introduce new things in them and expect us to know what you're talking about when you reference them elsewhere. It's a dick move. Don't be a dick.

--

My spleen feels so light and fluffy now. Wow!

 
kitchendinah: (reading)
1. The Iron Duke - Mejean Brook (Steampunk Zombiegasm Romance)
2. Boneshaker - Cherie Priest (Steampunk Zombiegasm)
3. The Book of Yarn - Clara Parkes (nonfiction craft)
4. The Book of Wool - Clara Parkes
5. The Admiral's Penniless Bride - Carla Kelly (Harlequin)
6. Slow Hands - Leslie Kelly (Harlequin)
7. Wedding of the Season: Abandoned at the Altar - Laura Lee Gurhke (Romance)
8. The Heir - Grace Burrowes (Romance)
9. Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake - Sarah MacLean (Romance)
10. Side Jobs (Dresden Collected Shorts) Jim Butcher (Fantasy)
11. Miss Wonderful - Loretta Chase (Romance)
12. Matched - Allie Condie (YA Dystopia)
13. Catch of a Lifetime - Judi Fennell (Romance?)

So I've been reading quite a bit since the first of the year. Romances are like potato chips - Harlequins especially.
So. Reviews. Mostly short. )

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February 2012

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