February 6th, 2011


Book #9

Title: At Grave's End
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Genre: Urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Pages: Paperback, 347
Published: 2009
Opening Line: "The man smiled and I let my gaze linger over his face."

"It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield's life. With her undead lover Bones at her side, she's successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat's worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover's finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger.

"As if that wasn't enough, a woman from Bones's past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat's about to learn the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she's learned as a special agent won't help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself -- and Bones -- from a fate worse than the grave."
~ Jacket copy

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Rating: 3.5/5
Currently: Destined For the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Pages: 3090
Horror/Urban Fantasy Challenge: 8/24
Current Progress:
9/50 books

nerd gohan


Title: The Homeward Bounders
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Pages: 224
Rating: 4/5
Book: 7/50

For the first half of the book I expected to give it a much lower rating than I ultimately did. The book takes place in a universe of parallel worlds (which shouldn't be a surprise to those familiar with Jones's other works), and the main character, Jamie, is a Homeward Bounder, one forced to travel along the Bounds from world to world unless he can reach his Home. The early parts of the book, when Jamie is new to the Bounds and still learning the ropes, felt rushed, almost like a montage, and I had a hard time getting into the story. Things start picking up as he meets other Homeward Bounders, but it isn't until the demon hunter Joris joins the party (about halfway through the book) that I really felt engaged – not because I liked Joris that much better than the other characters, but because the dynamic amongst the group became more interesting. Once I got into it, though, I really got into it.

7 / 50 books. 14% done!
  • ydnimyd

Book 5

#5: Mr. Monster - Dan Wells (2010, 287 pages)

John Wayne Cleaver, the budding demon killer, is back in the sequel to I Am Not a Serial Killer.

Months after Cleaver vanquished the demon that was his neighbor Mr. Crowley, bodies have begun to show up once more. This time, the bodies are female and show signs to torture, unlike the bodies from before. While Cleaver (and the authorities) know that the killer is different, he cannot help but think they are the same.

And he's right.

Cleaver learns the Crowley was not the only demon in a journey that pits him against a sadistic serial killer who sees the teen as a demigod for what he's done. When asked to kill for pleasure, Cleaver makes a decision that will define the remainder of his life.

I enjoyed Wells' first novel, and I think that this novel not only picks up momentum from the first but surpasses it in providing readers with an exciting storyline and some answers to questions readers may have had after the first. One sequence was a bit too much for me to stomach, but I have to remind myself that Cleaver is a sociopath, so I bit back what left me feeling shaken. In all, this is a good book, and I look forward to seeing where Wells takes readers next. That's why I give this a disturbing but good three and a half out of five serial killers.

Total Books Read: 5 / 50 (10 percent)
Total Pages Read: 2,038 / 15,000 (14 percent)
  • Current Mood

Books 1 - 5 plus a DNF (a book I didn't finish)

I decided to start posting to this community again after a few years break. I only read 55 books last year and I'm going to be very busy at work for the next few months, so I need to push myself if I'm going to read 50 books this year.

Book 1: "Black Butterfly" by Mark Gatiss

'Now, Now, Delilah,' I said, sipping gingerly at the brandy. 'You're sounding petulant again.'
'Well,' she drawled, 'not like the bloody old days, is it? Stuck behind desk fiddling with paper-clips. I bet you'd give a year of your life just for a nice juicy assassination!'
I shook my head. 'Time to bring down the curtain, Delilah.'
But scarcely had the words left my lips when I felt a sudden heat on mt cheek, and my smeary glass exploded as a 9mm bullet slammed not the bar.

For the third book in the series, we have skipped forwards to 1953 and the end of Lucifer's career. Lucifer has risen to be "Joshua Reynolds" (the pseudonym of the spy master in charge of the Royal Academy), but he is facing retirement and the Royal Academy is about to be absorbed into MI6. When an old friend dies in a car crash due to uncharacteristically risky driving, and a pillar of the establishment suddenly goes crazy, firing a gun in a crowded bar and stealing Lucifer's car, Lucifer follows a suspect to Istanbul and gets drawn into one last case.

It was quite funny, but I don't think the plot hangs together as well as in the first two books.

Book 2: "Popes and Phantoms" by John Whitbourn

'Gods with no worshippers,' commented Slovo. 'How terribly sad.'
'We aim to change all that, Admiral,' said the condottiere with quiet confidence. 'We may ally ourselves with atheists and Elves, radical humanists and Roman-Empire nostalgists - in fact anyone who rests uneasy under the present dispensation. However, we never for one moment lose sight of our ancient objective.'

Usually I prefer alternate history to be realistic, but this one is definitely on the fantasy side, featuring revenants, elves, vengeful ghosts, and a new regime in hell, as well as both past and future gods (in the manner of Neil Gaiman's "American Gods"). It's the story of Admiral Slovo, a former pirate turned papal troubleshooter, who is really working for a far-reaching and highly-connected secret society called the Vehme (i.e. the Illuminati). When I read "The Dragon Waiting", an alternate history that is set at a similar date, I found the vampires and magic irritating and off-putting, but strangely the fantasy elements didn't jar at all this time, maybe because. of all the anachronism and wordplay.

"Popes and Phantoms" reminded me of Julian Rathbone's historical novel "Kings of Albion", as both authors seemed to be playing games with the text to amuse themselves. There was a similar use of anachronism, and a lot of wordplay, including a particularly good pun on Te Deum/tedium, and the author also slipped in some film titles; I noticed "Death in Venice" and "Apocalypse Now" but their may well have been others. Maybe that's why the fantasy elements didn't jar - the sheer amount of puns and anachronisms meant that there was no way you could kid yourself that this was an account of events that could have actually happened.

Book 3: "Retromancer" by Robert Rankin

'You have a plan, do you not?' I said.
'Naturally. Twelve cases and we win the war.'
'Twelve cases, I see.' And I did. Well, sort of.
It is always twelve cases, as I have told you before. It is always to do with time and it always involves the solving of twelve Cosmic Conundra. It is what I do and what I am.'
'And I will be proud to aid you' I said.

The teenage Jim Pooley is surprised when his aunt serves him bratwurst for breakfast one morning rather than bangers. When he ventures out into the streets of Brentford, he finds that apparently Germany won the war and he seems to be the only person in Brentford who knows that history has been changed, and wonders if this could be because Hugo Rune had already interfered with his time-line, so that their year-long adventures in Brighton (as chronicled in "The Brightonomicon") appeared to have taken a single day. After a run-in with the German authorities, he finds himself
waking up in World War II London, and working with Rune to re-set history and ensure that the Allies win the war. This involves investigating twelve cases under the aegis of the Ministry of Serendipity, whose secret headquarters are underneath Mornington Crescent tube station.

A great improvement over Necrophenia, which I read a couple of months ago.

DNF: "Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles" by Michael Moorcock

My brother gave me this book for my birthday, and even had it signed by the author for me. Unfortunately, even though it features the Doctor and Amy meeting Jerry Cornelius, I couldn't get into it as I'm not into TV spin-offs.

Book 4: "The Lovecraft Necronomicon Primer: A Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos" by T. Allan Bilstad

Abdul Alhazred made his mark in the world of Lovecraft because of what drove him to insanity, and the actions of this unbalanced writer continue to shock and dismay to this very day. (I am referring to Alhazred here, not myself as the unbalanced writer. Remember that I have a certificate stating I am not insane, something that Alhazred sorely lacked).

A short guide to the Cthulhu Mythos and its inhuman monsters. The good thing about this book is that the author doesn't include spoilers. He doesn't say which stories feature which monster, and in the one case where it is unavoidable ("The Dunwich Horror"), he doesn't describe the monster at all, and just suggests that you should read the story. The bad thing about it is the arch tone of the author and his continual facetious comments about not having been driven mad by his studies of the Cthulhu Mythos, while implying the opposite.

Book 5: "The Making of the Representative for Planet 8" by Doris Lessing

When we looked up at that wall, we could see how the ice had come pressing down and over its top. A dirty greyish white shelf projected from our wall: it was the edge of a glacier. If the wall gave, then what could stand between us and the ice and snow of that interminable winter up there, whose shrieking winds and gales kept us awake at nights, while we huddled together under the mounds of thick hides? But the wall would not give. It could not . . . Canopus had prescribed it, Canopus had ordered it. Therefore, it would stand . . .
But where was Canopus?
If we were to be rescued in time for our peoples to be saved, then that time was already past.

Planet 8 in the Canopean Empire was a paradise and its people were happy, until an unprecedented snowfall ushers in a dramatic climate change. The Representatives try to keep things going and help their everyone to adapt to the new conditions, but they are fighting a losing battle. Collapse )

A short, sad book. So sad, in fact, that I may be giving it less start than it deserves, just because I found it depressing.

NB: The Doris Lessing book is the fourth in a series of five. I read the first three last year and you can find them in my personal LJ if you're interested, under the bookreviews tag.
  • blinger

Books 3, 4 and 5 - 2011

Book 3: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner – 307 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
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I think this book has suffered at the hands of its own success. Whilst I enjoyed it, I somehow expected there to be more, more than I’d heard on TV or read as quoted in magazines or newspapers. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed to find that this wasn’t the case, and whilst I won’t claim I didn’t learn something, to a degree not only was I really only expanding on the knowledge I’d already gained from this book from outside sources, but that some of the points were really just economic support for things that I thought were common sense. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book, nor that its not a worthy addition to the world of social science/economics, but more perhaps that the book had been so hyped up for me that I went in expecting much more. A shame for me, but still a good read.

3 / 50 books. 6% done!

1150 / 15000 pages. 8% done!

Book 4: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Second: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket – 190 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
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Very similar to the first one, but nonetheless a nice quick read. There does seems to be a movement towards more violent children’s books lately but then living in a post 9/11 world, I guess this shouldn’t be all that surprising – kids seem to see much worse on TV these days! I must say that the way Snicket constantly explains the meaning of words gets annoying after awhile. Having said that, I was discussing this series with my sister recently (she’s up to about number eleven I think) and she mentioned that she liked that he did that. Given that she’s more in the demographic of these books (she’s fourteen), evidentially my dislike of it is purely because of my age. I intend to try and read a least a couple more of these this year, though if they are all as repetitive in the storyline I don’t think I can manage too many in a given year before I get sick of them. Best leave some for the future when I need a quick, brainless read. Overall, I would recommend it (and the series itself) if you’ve got little ones that you read bed time stories to.

4 / 50 books. 8% done!

1340 / 15000 pages. 9% done!

Book 5: Nobody’s Prize by Esther Friesner – 306 pages

Description from Amazon.com:
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This one wasn’t quite as good as its predecessor but it was still an enjoyable read, especially if you’re seeking a teenage heroine with more backbone than, say, Bella Swan. Helen is one of my favourite historical/mythological (depending on your view of these things) figures and I really appreciate the fact that Friesner has taken the time to go back and tell a story about her as a youth, especially one that portrays her in such a light (ie. That she wasn’t aware of her beauty, nor trying to use it to manipulate). The writing’s a bit immature at time and the plot drags in spots, but Friesner has brought in just enough of the original mythology to keep things ‘real’ whilst still putting her own (sometimes modern) spin on things. It’s a good piece for those pre-teen and teen girls out there seeking a female character actually worthy of role model status. A nice bit of fun.

5 / 50 books. 10% done!

1646 / 15000 pages. 11% done!

Currently reading:
- Angelology
by Danielle Trussoni – 453 pages
- The Star King
by Susan Grant – 358 pages
- Jennifer Government
by Max Barry – 335 pages

And coming up:
- The Davinci Code
by Dan Brown – 593 pages
- The Star Prince
by Susan Grant – 395 pages
- Under the Dome
by Stephen King – 877 pages

Books 7,8

The Bell Jar by Syvlia Plath. 288 pages.
Amazon review: The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity.
My take: I always love a stroll through a mental breakdown. The writing was clear and concise. And if I had to live in a world as suffocating as the one that Esther lives in, I would see no other way out other that suicide. I did find some dark humour in the way that she rationalizes which way to end it all. It's a classic for a rason, so if you haven't read it, I'd urg you to do so. 4/5

Neuromancer by William Gibson. 384 pages.
Amazon review: The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity
My take: The good: The grittiness of the characters makes me feel so connected to them, that's impossible for me to dislike them no matter whaty hey are painted as. I love how dirty this cyberpunk novel is. The bad: With the slang and no idea what had the brought this world to it's current stage, I barely understood anything that was happening. The slang was never explained and I was generally confused as to the motive of the characters. I know they say it's a classic, but I finished the book and I was still confused. I might just be the one guy who doesn't get it. 2/5

Where do you guys get those neat little bar countdown thingies?