Friday, January 29, 2016

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Bleeds

Author: Ilona Andrews

Published: Ace, 2010

Pages: 349

Series: Book 4, Kate Daniels

Summary: May contain spoilers! Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle - especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community. When she's called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers that there's a new player in town. One who's been around for thousands of years - and who rode to war at the side of Kate's father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts:  I read the third book in this series about four and a half years ago and absolutely loved it.  I have no idea why it took me so long to start this book in the series. I started this book and was hooked from the first page.

I pretty much devoured this book.  The mystery aspect is so good and I absolutely love the fantasy elements too.  The shapeshifter dynamics always fascinate me and I feel like we learn new things about the world as a whole.

I feel like I don't have a lot to say about this book other than I absolutely loved it and there were so many really great things that I loved about it.  I just feel like I can't say too much without giving anything away.

Needless to say, I plan on reading the next book quite soon as I really loved this book and I do not want to wait too long before I get back into the series.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hil

Title: Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading From Home

Author: Susan Hill

Published: Profile Books, 2009

Pages: 236

Summary: Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. 

The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to get to know her own collection again. 
A book which is left on a shelf for a decade is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, packed with the potential to burst into new life. Wandering through her house that day, Hill's eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored in her home, neglected for years.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I found this book as a recommendation on a website and seeing as how I will be predominantly reading from home this year, I figured that this book may give me some inspiration to keep at my large pile of books and not go out and buy more.

This book isn't exactly what I thought it would be, but really that was absolutely fine.  Instead, this book is more a story of Susan Hill poring over her shelves and reminiscing about some of the books she read.  She tells really fascinating stories about meeting so many of the authors on her shelves and I felt like I could definitely have read more.

I loved this book.  I don't even have a lot more to say about the book than that I loved it.  It was just such an interesting book and it made me think about the books that I read when I was younger and it also pointed me towards some authors to check out in the future.

Susan Hill is an amazing writer and she just weaves this interesting story of her reading history and how different books appeared in different places in her life.  The writing is so wonderful that I feel very much inadequate at describing how good this book is.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Title: The Eye of the World

Author: Robert Jordan

Published: Orbit, 2006 (First published 1990)

Pages: 800

Series: Book 1, The Wheel of Time

Summary: The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. But one truth remains, and what mortal men forget, the Aes Sedai do not...
What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the shadow.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: As someone who loves fantasy I was recommended this book by a friend a few years ago and so I added this series to the list of books I should read.  It wasn't until I learned that Brandon Sanderson finished off the series after Robert Jordan passed away that I bumped this series up a little higher on my list.

I started this book and got immersed into the story straight away.  The setting was well described and I could picture myself being there.  There was enough happening in the beginning that I managed to get about 300 pages into the book before my interest in the book waned a little.  I think my biggest issue with this is that there were just a lot of other books that I was a little more interested in reading at that point.  I actually put the book down for a couple of months before picking it up again this month.

Once I got back into the story I found it relatively easy to read through.  There were a few things I thought were predictable about the plot but I was more appreciative of the writing and the world building in this book than the plotline.

From what I gather from this book there are a few characters that the book series is going to follow.  There were two characters I liked more than the others and there were two that I didn't like very much.  There was just something about Mat and Egwene that annoyed me.  On the other hand I quite liked Rand and Perrin.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Eye of the World.  It wasn't the most amazing book in the world as there were a couple of slow parts in the book where I started to get a little bored.  That being said, I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge

Last year I had a go at doing the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, and this year I would like to attempt their 2016 reading challenge.  I think that this one will be more of the focus for when I manage to finish working through the first challenge I want to do this year which is reducing my tbr pile down to 15 books.

So here is the list of challenges and I have put some ideas of what books I would like to read down here too, just so I have a place to work out some ideas really.

1. A book based on a Fairy Tale: Cinderella Six Feet Under by Maia Chance 

2. A National Book Award Winner: Taking the Quantum Leap: The New Physics for Non-Scientists by Fred Alan Wolf

3. A YA Bestseller Cress by Marissa Meyer

4. A book you haven't read since high school The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

5. A book set in your home state (I'm going to make this country) Wake by Elizabeth Knox, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

6. A book translated into English The Wreath by Sigrid Undset

7. A romance set in the future Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey

8. A book set in Europe The Dinner by Herman Koch

9. A book that's under 150 pages On Cats by Charles Bukowski

10. A New York Times bestseller Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

11. A book that's becoming a movie this year: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

12. A book recommended by someone you just met

13. A self-improvement book  The Four-Fold Way by Angeles Arrien

14. A book you can finish in a day The Julius House by Charlaine Harris

15. A book written by a celebrity Yes My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar

16. A political memoir 

17. A book at least 100 years older than you Moby Dick by Herman Melville

18. A book from Oprah's Book Club: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

19. A science-fiction novel The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

20. A book recommended by a family member

21. A graphic novel Chew Volume One, Taster's Choice by John Layman

22. A book that is published in 2016 Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

23. A book with a protagonist who has your occupation 

24. A book that takes place during summer Cruel Summer by James Dawson

25. A book and its prequel Florence & Giles and The Girl Who Couldn't Read by John Harding

26. A murder mystery Dead Over Heels by Charlaine Harris

27. A book written by a comedian Thinking About it Only Makes it Worse by David Mitchell

28. A dystopian novel Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

29. A book with a blue cover The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

30. A book of poetry Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

31. The first book you see in a bookstore

32. A classic from the 20th century One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey

33. A book from the library

34. An autobiography Surely You're Joking Mister Feynman by Richard Feynman

35. A book about a road trip The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

36. A book about a culture you're unfamiliar with Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee

37. A satirical book American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

38. A book that takes place on an island Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

39. A book that's guaranteed to bring you joy Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Title: Cloud Atlas

Author: David Mitchell

Published: Random House, 2004

Pages: 509

Summary: Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I had been interested in reading Cloud Atlas since I saw the movie a couple of years ago.  I thought the movie was really interesting so I decided that I needed to read the book.  Interestingly, the book reads almost exactly like the movie.  From memory there are a few differences but for the most part David Mitchell's book is almost the same as the movie.

I really enjoyed reading through the book and seeing how the story was set up and how David Mitchell's writing told the story.  But in all honesty I feel like I don't have a whole lot to say about the book because it really does read like the movie and so I already knew what would happen and how everything connected together.

Having only read one other book of David Mitchell's before I can say that after reading this one and that one, I'm impressed with the way that Mitchell can write different characters and different genres.  Cloud Atlas takes place through quite a few different times and it's very clear which one is which and each is written so well.

Overall I really enjoyed reading Cloud Atlas and thought it was really well-written.  Last year I read Ghostwritten and didn't entirely love it so I'm glad that Cloud Atlas is a huge improvement.  I am definitely looking forward to reading more of David Mitchell's work in the future.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Title: The Amber Spyglass

Author: Philip Pullman

Published: Yearling, 2003 (First published 2000)

Pages: 518

Series: Book 3, His Dark Materials

Summary: May contain spoilers! Lyra and Will, the two ordinary children whose extraordinary adventures began in The Golden Compass and continued in The Subtle Knife, are in unspeakable danger. With help from the armored bear Iorek Byrnison and two tiny Gallivespian spies, they must journey to a gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone. All the while, Dr. Mary Malone builds a maagnificent amber spyglass. An assassin hunts her down. And Lord Asriel, with troops of shining angels, fights his mighty rebellion, a battle of strange allies—and shocking sacrifices.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: This is a first read of The Amber Spyglass which is a little odd as I have read the first one about ten times and the second one twice now.  I think this is just one of those books that I've been meaning to read for such a long time.  Now I can happily say that I have managed to complete the trilogy.

First and foremost the one thing that I wanted to know was what final form, if any, Pan took in the end.  I don't want to give anything away but I am now satisfied in knowing what I needed to know and I'm a little bit underwhelmed but I think it's just because for about 14 years (since I read the first book) I have been imagining all of the possibilities about what would happen to Pan and what sort of animal he would take on as a permanent form.

Now, as for the rest of the story, I thought it was quite enjoyable.  A lot of my questions were answered and some of them weren't, which is fine.  I think it's definitely a book that I need to read again eventually to see if I missed anything.

Will is my favourite character of the series overall.  I think that I prefer Lyra in the first book and then in the next two she becomes less likeable to me for some reason.  Actually, just thinking about it, there was a part in this book where she made a decision to do something that I didn't particularly like so I think that's what made me a little annoyed at her.

Overall, I enjoyed The Amber Spyglass.  It was a good conclusion to the series but I just didn't think it was the best book in the series and I feel a little bit like if I had read this book when I was younger I might have enjoyed it a bit more.  I will say that I'm really glad to have read it and finished off the series though.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reducing my TBR Pile

I am working on reducing my tbr pile down to 15 books so I have a lot of work to do.  That being said, I am very much determined to do this by the end of the year at the latest.  If I could achieve this goal earlier in the year then I'll be just as happy.  Today I thought it would be a good time to list all of the books on my tbr pile and I'll update the list as I read through my books.  If I buy any books then I'll add them to the list in red at the bottom but I'm trying not to really buy any books for a while.

  1. S by J.J Abrams and Doug Dorst
  2. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  3. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  4. Ward Against Death by Melanie Card
  5. Ward Against Darkness by Melanie Card
  6. Mycophilia by Eugenia Bone
  7. The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
  8. Scent of Magic by Maria V Snyder
  9. Taste of Darkness by Maria V Snyder
  10. Quicksilver by R. J. Anderson
  11. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
  12. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
  13. Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
  14. The Unholy by Heather Graham
  15. The Unspoken by Heather Graham
  16. The Uninvited by Heather Graham
  17. The Night is Watching by Heather Graham
  18. The Night is Alive by Heather Graham
  19. The Night is Forever by Heather Graham
  20. Falling for Science by Bernard Beckett
  21. Hindsight by A. A. Bell
  22. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
  23. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
  24. Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain
  25. The Night Season by Chelsea Cain
  26. Dying Bites by D. D. Barant
  27. Legend of the Jade Dragon by Yasmine Gaelnorn
  28. Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry
  29. Road Trip of the Living Dead by Mark Henry
  30. Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay
  31. Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay
  32. Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
  33. Dexter's Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay
  34. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
  35. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  36. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  37. Shadows Beneath Anthology
  38. The Pleasures of the Table by Jean Brillat-Savarin
  39. The Well-Kept Kitchen by Gervase Markham
  40. Chef at War by Alexis Soyer
  41. A Little Dinner Before the Play by Agnes Jekyll
  42.  A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig by Charles Lamb
  43. Notes From Madras by Colonel Wyvern
  44. Eating with the Pilgrims by Calvin Trillin
  45. The Joys of Excess by Samuel Pepys
  46. The Elegant Economist by Eliza Acton
  47. A Middle Eastern Feast by Claudia Roden
  48. New Spring by Robert Jordan
  49. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  50. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
  51. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
  52. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  53. The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
  54. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  55. A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  56. The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan
  57. Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan
  58. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
  59. Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan
  60. The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan
  61. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan
  62. A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan
  63. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
  64. 7 Scorpions: Revolution by Mike Saxton
  65. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
  66. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  67. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
  68. The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss
  69. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
  70. Howard's End is on the Landing by Susan Hill
  71. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
  72. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  73. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

Title: The Subtle Knife

Author: Philip Pullman

Published: Yearling, 2001 (First published 1996)

Pages: 368

Series: Book 2, His Dark Materials

Summary: May Contain Spoilers! Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld—Cittagazze, where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. But she is not without allies: twelve-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another's, has also stumbled into this strange new realm.

On a perilous journey from world to world, Lyra and Will uncover a deadly secret: an object of extraordinary and devastating power. And with every step, they move closer to an even greater threat--and the shattering truth of their own destiny. (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: This is a re-read for me, but I have only read it once, and that was about 13 years ago so I don't remember absolutely everything that had happened.  I decided at the end of last year to re-read the first two books so that I could finally read The Amber Spyglass.

I don't have too much to say about this one, other than I really enjoyed it and it was good reading back over the book and remembering things that I had forgotten.  Basically I had only really remembered the ending so I definitely needed to refresh my memory.

I have to say that this one isn't as amazing as Northern Lights but it's still pretty good.  Philip Pullman has such a great imagination and I just love all of the concepts in these books.  The daemons are so intriguing and I remember when I was younger thinking that it would be so great to have one of my own.

Overall, I am definitely looking forward to reading The Amber Spyglass and finally finishing the series.  I feel as though it's a series that everyone should read at least once, because it is so fascinating and it also gets you thinking about so many different things.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Title: Career of Evil

Author: Robert Galbraith

Published: Sphere, 2015

Pages: 494

Series: Book 3, Cormoran Strike

Summary: When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: The first two books in this series have been really amazing and this one was no exception.  I really loved reading Career of Evil, it was such a good addition to the series.

I always find that it takes me a little longer to read these books than most other books just because there are so many tiny little details throughout the book that you need to pay attention to.  The story does progress slower than a lot of other books but I enjoy the pacing in these books because there's just enough reveals to keep me reading on.

There were a couple of things that Strike and Robin did that annoyed me a little in places.  There were a couple of times where I just wanted to grab Robin and tell her that I really didn't like what she was doing.  That being said, it will be interesting to see what happens in the next book.

I was kept guessing all the way up until the reveal at the end and I was pretty blown away.  I feel like Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling) does a really good job at hiding clues and so I'm always surprised by the way things end.

Overall, I would highly recommend this series to anyone who loves a good mystery and really if you haven't started it yet you really should remedy that.  I think the biggest issue I have with these books is that as soon as I finish the book, I feel like I need the next book straight away, so hopefully Book four isn't too far away.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Corpse Pose by Diana Killian

Title: Corpse Pose

Author: Diana Killian

Published: Berkely Prime Crime, 2008

Pages: 281

Series: Book 1, Mantra for Murder

Summary: Ever since her husband ditched her-for another man-A.J. hasn't exactly been on the road to inner peace. Then her yoga-guru aunt is found dead, and A.J.'s named the sole heir to her lucrative yoga studio-making her a multimillionaire, a prime suspect, and the killer's next target.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I really love cosy mysteries and am always looking for new series' to start with.  I have recently started getting into Yoga and when I found this cosy mystery series with a Yoga theme I was pretty interested in reading it.

Corpse Pose is so much fun.  The mystery element is really interesting and I found myself following along with clues as I was reading but the story surrounding the mystery was just as fun.   I didn't manage to guess who the culprit was until the reveal just because I was having so much fun reading through the story.

There were quite a few moments that made me laugh out loud and I just really enjoyed the sprinkling of humour throughout the book.  I feel like I don't have a lot else to say about this book because it really was just a really fun and entertaining read.

Overall, I really loved reading Corpse Pose, it was just so entertaining and I cannot wait to pick up the next book in the series.

Friday, January 1, 2016

My 2016 Reading Goals

Another year has been and gone and it is now time to think about my reading goals for next year.  There are a couple of things that I want to do as a whole and then there are some smaller goals so I figured that I'd just put them all into a post here or at least talk about them here.  In terms of the blog, I definitely want to keep up with my blogging about books and I will still continue to try and post reviews up every Monday and Friday and will potentially expand this out as time goes on.  I also want to make monthly wrap-up posts so that I can have just keep track of my goals and make sure that I can keep track of my goals and this year actually achieve them.

So anyway, there are two big goals I have for this year and a couple of smaller ones.

Big Goal Number One:  Reduce my tbr pile down to fifteen books.  This is one that I would love to get done sooner rather than later.  Basically this is so I can circulate through my books easier and I don't have too much trouble choosing which book to read next.  It also lets me do some re-reading of books without feeling too guilty.  I will be posting up a list of all the books in my tbr pile soon so that I can just make a big list of them and I'll add links to reviews and update the list as I progress.

Big Goal Number Two: The Pop Sugar 2016 Reading Challenge.  This just looks really fun and while a lot of the books on my tbr pile don't fit the books on the list I'm going to focus on this one, once I manage to reduce my reading pile.  I will also be making a separate post about this one, listing some ideas for the categories and such as I go.

Smaller Goals:
Read more non-fiction
Have fun reading my books
Don't force my way through a book I'm not enjoying.  If I'm not liking it, then I just need to put it down.