Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 - Zombies! Reading Challenge

I was just thinking "Geez, there should be a zombies reading challenge"...when I ran across the Zombies! Satisfy Your Undying Hunger! Reading Challenge hosted by Book Soulmates.  I so totally want to be in on this!  So I am signing up :-)

See contest info by clicking on the picture below or reading the guidelines below.

Challenge Rules & Info:
- Challenge STARTS January 1, 2011 and ENDS December 31, 2011
- Sign up by filling your info in the Mr. Linky below {If you don't have a blog, you can use your FB, Goodreads, etc}
- Read at least 10 Zombie books this year. They don't have to be ALL about Zombies, just have Zombies in them. Remember, the more the merrier! Here's a LIST of zombie books that may help :)
- The books can be print, ebooks, and audio books.
- Reread books ARE allowed, BUT, the review must be rewritten. You cannot use old reviews.
I- 'll have a post up each month with the Mr. Linky to have the reviews posted.
- Challenges are open to non-bloggers. A review must be written and posted on a literary site, such as GoodReads, Amazon, etc.
- Grab a button to show your Challenge spirit!
- Lastly, have fun reading! 

I am excited about this one I want to start Mira Grant's Newsfeed series and give Rot and Ruin a read through too.  I am sure I will find others..
I will list my books as I read them.
1.   Horror, Humor, and Heroes Volume II: New Faces of Fantasy edited by Jim Bernheimer
2.   Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, Book 1) by Mira Grant
3.   Monster Hunters International (MHI, Book 1) by Larry Correia
4.   The Zombie of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor
5.   The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver
6.   Hard Day's Knight (Black Knight Chronicles, Book 1) by John G. Hartness
7.   Vicious Circle (Felix Castor, Book 2) by Mike Carey
8.   Deadline (Newsflesh, Book 2) by Mira Grant
9.   Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
10. Creepy Presents: Berni Wrightson by Bruce Jones, Nicola Cuti, Bernie Wrightson, Howard Chaykin (5/5 stars)
11. Married with Zombies (Living with the Dead, Book 1) by Jesse Petersen
12. Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
13. At Grave's End (Night Huntress, Book 3) by Jeaniene Frost
14. Flip this Zombie (Living with the Dead, Book 2) by Jesse Petersen
15. Mind Over Monsters by Jennifer Harlow
16. Z: Zombie Stories edited by Kelly Link
17. Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
18. Monster Hunter Vendetta (MHI, Book 2) by Larry Correia
19. My Life As a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
20. Eat, Slay, Love (Living with the Dead, Book 3) by Jesse Petersen
21. Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
22. Ganymede (Clockwork Century, Book 4) by Cherie Priest

2010 Wrap Up Post

This year I ended up reading 277 books, that is more than 2009 where I read 227 books.  So it was a great year for reading.  You can go to the full list of books read here.  I have also broken them down into category below by genre and age group.

I also had some great author interviews and giveaways this year!  I hope to do more guest posting next year and hold more giveaways.   I do plan on keeping this blog review focused though and hope to continue giving you all 4-5 book reviews a week.

By Genre:
Fantasy: 77
Urban Fantasy/Paranormal: 114
Science Fiction: 18
Horror/Thriller: 10
Graphic Novel: 13
Historical Fiction: 12
General Fiction: 22
Non-fiction: 12 

By Age Group:
Adult: 130
Young Adult: 97
Middle Grade: 44
Children's: 5

Reading Challenges:
I completed all of my reading challenges this year so that was wonderful.  I am looking forward to repeating some of the reading challenges next year and also doing some new ones!

- Summer Romance Challenge: Complete!
- Thriller and Suspense Reading Challenge: Complete!
- Debut Author Reading Challenge: Complete!
- Young Adult Reading Challenge: Complete!
- Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge: Complete!
- GLBT Reading Challenge: Complete!
- 100+ Book Reading Challenge: 242 read (stopped keeping track in Dec)
- 1st in a Series Challenge: Complete!
- Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge Book List: Complete!

Early Review - Huntress by Malindo Lo (5/5 stars)

HuntressReading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 5, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0316040075
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone (Prequel to Ash)
Source: ARC through Book It Forward ARC Tours
Rating: 5/5 star

I loved Malinda Lo's first book Ash and was excited to about Huntress.  I got this book through Book it Forward ARC tours.  It was a wonderful book.  The story was more complicated and expansive than Ash.  It again features a romance between two women, there is also a lot of adventuring and some magic.

Kaede and Taisin are two girls in their late teens.  Kaede is the daughter of a the King's Advisor and more knowledgeable in fighting and handcrafts than the magic at that the academy she attends.  Taisin is a prodigy at the academy and has a vision involving her and Kaede and a castle of ice.  The land the two girls live in has fallen on hard times and the situation is dire if winter is not brought to an end.  The two girls end up being sent along with the King's son on a journey to visit the Fairy Queen in hopes that the Fairy Queen will be able to help them end the long winter that is gripping the land.

This book is written much in the style of Ash; so if you liked that book I think you will enjoy this one.  Lo writes at a deliberate pace with beautiful descriptions that create lush images in your mind.  The romance in the book is keep somewhat innocent and sweet, as it was in Ash.  The two characters that fall in love are both women, but it isn't the same sex issue that makes their love star-crossed, it is more an issue of class and occupation.  Lo gives us a wonderfully sweet and adventurous story that features these two women, each strong in their own way, and doesn't really make a big deal about their sexuality...which is how it should be.

There is a lot more action in this book than there was in Ash and a lot more adventure.  Rather than being blunt about magic this book has more a tone of magical realism about it.  This book is supposed to be the prequel to Ash; but, although the world is the same, the customs of the characters are distinctly Asian and the cultures have a very different feel to them.  You definitely don't need to read Ash to enjoy this book.

Both Kaede and Taisin are admirable characters, they are strong and yet have a lot of moments where they doubt themselves.  I enjoyed reading about them and found them likable.  I love Lo's writing and while the pacing is slow at some points, especially when the characters journey through the Woods, I think that the pace is appropriate in that it helps the reader get a sense of their grueling journey.

The book ends well, although I think some readers will be a bit bothered by it.  I personally enjoyed the ending, is wasn't fairy tale happy but it was realistic and kept with the tone of the rest of the story.

Overall a wonderful new book from Lo.  I will continue to read Lo's works.  Lo gives us deliberately paced novel, with beautiful description, heart-pounding adventure, and a sweet romance.  If you loved Ash you will love this book.  Fans of classic fantasy adventure with a thread of romance through it will find lots to love in this book.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review - Tracking the Tempest (Jane True, Book 2) by Nicole Peeler (4.5/5 stars)

Tracking the Tempest (Jane True)Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: July 1, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0316056571
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in Jane True series
Source: Bought
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This is the second book in the Jane True series with 6 books currently on contract.  The third book, Tempest's Legacy, comes out in Jan 2011.  I really enjoyed this book, even more than the first one, Tempest Rising.

This book picks up a few months after the first one leaves off.  Jane is with Nell getting lessons on how to use her supernatural powers as a selkie.  Then Ryu whisks Jane back to his home town of Boston for a romantic Valentine's Day weekend.  Unfortunately things don't go as planned.  People are ending up dead in a very crispy way and it is likely that a fire genie halfling with a serious grudge is responsible.  Instead of being romanced by Ryu Jane is drawn into supernatural politics, running for her life, and hunting down a viscous murderer.  The only good thing about it all is she is getting a lot of on the run training in her new powers.

This was a wonderful book.  Like the first book Jane is funny and down to earth, she is a bit of a dork at points which only serves to make her more likable.  There are some sizzling scenes between her and Ryu and more feeling begins to develop between them (although I am still having trouble taking Ryu completely seriously).  Jane is starting to take charge of her life; she is working on her training and starting to stand up for herself.

We meet a lot of new interesting characters and get to learn a lot more about some of the ones introduced in the first book.  My favorite is the Barghest Anyan, who we saw some of in the first book.  He gets involved in this book in a big way.  You also learn a lot more about how the Court operates and how they are governed.  A new part of the supernatural community called the Borderlands is introduced; I am eager to hear more about the Borderlands in future books.

The pace of this book is faster than the second and there is a lot more action.  I like how Jane knows her limits and tries to help in anyway she can, but stays out of the way in areas she doesn't excel in.  I also enjoyed how Jane acts like an intelligent woman and doesn't just let herself get swept off her feet by Ryu but seriously looks at her relationship with him.  I enjoyed some of the decisions she made towards the end of the book and think that this book really helped Jane grow as a character.

Overall a really great installment in this series.  I am now officially hooked on Jane True.  This book takes the series from a fun light read, to a fun read with some serious mojo going on.  There is better world-building, better action, better plot, and great characterization in this book.  I can't wait to read the next book, Tempest's Legacy.

Tracking the Tempest (Jane True) 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review - The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor (3/5 stars)

The Fantastic Secret of Owen JesterReading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Adventure
Size: 176 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 6, 2007
ISBN-13:  978-0374368500
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars

I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.  It looked like a fun little read.  It ended up being okay but was a bit simpler and less wondrous than I was hoping for.

Owen Jester lives in a house with his parents, grandfather, and housekeeper.  No one does much with him and he is left mainly to his own devices; he has two friends he hangs out with and there is a girl who bothers them from time to time.  Most of the book is spent dealing with Owen's struggles about whether or not he should keep this magnificent frog he caught or release him.  The other parts of the book deal with Owen and his friends trying to find something that fell off of a train in the middle of the night.

The story is well-written and paced well enough.  It teaches about responsibility, a little about ecology, and about friendship.  Honestly I thought it was a bit boring, but a younger reader might find it to be more interesting.

Owen's parents aren't really more than place-holders and his friends aren't that well-developed as characters either.  The highlights of the story are definitely Owen himself and the girl that shadows Owen and his friends.

Overall a simple story that is well written and tells of a boy's summer adventures.  An okay read, but nothing very wondrous or fantastic here.  I thought it was a bit boring and that the characters were underdeveloped.  Younger readers might find the story more intriguing.  Personally I would recommend "The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate" or "The Year Money Grew on Trees", as better stories about middle grade kids spending their summers in interesting ways and learning interesting things.

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

Best of 2010 - Young Adult Paranormal and Dystopia Books

I read a ton of young adult, most of it in the paranormal genre.  This is an area that is really exploding lately!  Anyway below are my favorites for this year; I included dystopias in this post as well.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)
This whole series is absolutely excellent and the conclusion to it, Mockingjay, was stunning.

Nightshade: Book 1
A stunner of a debut novel, I devoured this huge book in no time flat.  It took werewolves to a whole new level and was wonderful!  I can't wait to read Wolfsbane next year.

The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa
The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)The Iron Daughter (Harlequin Teen)The Iron Queen (Harlequin Teen)
The most excellent fairy based young adult series I have ever read.  Fun, easy to read, creative, great characters, and intriguing.  I absolutely loved it and can't wait to read The Iron Knight when it comes out next year.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Paranormalcy. by Kiersten White
This was another great debut novel.  It features a heroine that is girly and spunky and so much fun.  Lots of action, very creative world; this book really stands out apart from the other paranormal YA books out there!  I can't wait to read Supernaturally when it comes out next year.

Demon Princess: Reign Check
Absolutely loved the first book in this series Demon Princess: Reign or Shine and this second book was another wonderful addition to the series.  These are again very creative and fun and feature a normal girl who finds out she is a demon princess.  Rumor is that there won't be any more books in this series, which is a bummer, but they are still wonderful so check them out.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, Book 5)Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, Book 6)
Did you think I would forget this series on my list?!  Of course not!  This is a wonderful series featuring a strong female lead, a complex vampire society, and hands down wonderful writing.  It wrapped up nicely and I can't wait to see what spin-offs Mead comes up with for this series.

Matched by Ally Condie
This is a dystopian fantasy.  It is kind of a Brave New World or Handmaid's Tale for the modern teen set.  I really enjoyed it and enjoyed how it looked at things from a different point of view.  Here the heroine is a peace-loving non-conflict type of girl but her world of perfection is slowly shattered around her.  Some neat ideas and east to read, I enjoyed it.