Sunday, April 17, 2016

Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth

Title: Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth

Author: Guinnevere Shuster [Facebook]

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

ISBN: 9781449477844

Obtained: Free from NetGalley

Why this book?:

Look at the cover! How could I pass it up?

Comments: 

Like many animal lovers I'm drawn to photograph books of our furry friends.  I'm also continuously on the lookout for heartwarming or inspiring dog books for my grandmother to read/peruse.  So I was quick to request this title.

The descriptions are mostly just like what you'd find on an online adoption site, but with the addition of a (generally) happy ending.  I'll be honest and admit I started skimming over those.

But the pictures are great.  Four shots of each dog, showing shelter dogs of several breeds and mixes in their most charming, fun, and entertaining poses.  Each featured dog has the opportunity to express their personalities up close in a way most could not.  Guinnevere managed to capture some of the looks I've seen but would never be able to catch on camera myself, as well as some completely new-to-me but still adorable dog expressions.

I enjoyed the book, I expect my grandmother will too (when the library gets it), and I hope the best for the shelter (The Humane Society of Utah) all these dogs came from at some point in their journey.

The Danger in Daring a Lady

Title: The Danger in Daring a Lady [Author's Website]

Author: Emma Locke [Website][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: Intrepid Reads

Series: Naughty Girls, Bk 6

ISBN: 9781939713506

Obtained: Free copy through NetGalley

Why this book?:

I was in the mood for a historical romance, it was by an author name I recognized, and the blurb sounded interesting.

Comments:

I actually have mixed feelings about this.  In general, I enjoyed the story.  I liked Cate, and I liked Dare as well - despite his addiction.  I appreciated their romance.  Cate's strength and Dare's charm balanced and complimented each other.

But addiction is a difficult subject for me, as several people in my family face it.  The reactions of Dare's family both grated and yet felt understandable.  I saw the Dare that Cate saw, so I felt they needed to give him another chance.  Plus they were his family; they needed to be there for him.

Yet I have seen the selfish, thoughtless, self-pitying, and horrible actions of those caught in the throes of addiction.  I have been hurt and seen others hurt by addiction.  And I can understand the mistrust and resentment that builds when each "second" chance is squandered.  So I was torn throughout the story.

Fortunately, in the way of romances such as this, there was a dependable HEA that, while somewhat abrupt and convenient in its resolve, made all things well and left that happy glow.

I would try more books by this author, though apparently I'm going to disregard series and order.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Ballad of Black Tom

Title: The Ballad of Black Tom

Author: Victor LaValle [Website][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: TOR

ISBN: 9780765387868

Length: 149 pages

Obtained: Library copy

Why this book?: I read a review or description somewhere and thought it sounded interesting.

Comments:

It took some concentration on my part to try to follow what was going on.  It was, I guess, kind of mystical.  I didn't remember the description by the time I read it so I had no idea what to expect.  When I started reading I began to get one impression and then everything changed. It felt very "what on (or off) Earth jut happened?".  I also didn't really know what the Cthulhu was/is (though I recognized the term from some ILL title requests at work), so I had to look it up afterwards.  But even having some idea of what that was about, I still found the story to be very surreal.  Perhaps it's because I've never read H.P. Lovecraft?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Despite some false starts, this flowed for me.  By flowed, I mean read it until the moment I had to work (including at a red light), read it on my dinner break (including while standing in line at the grocery store purchasing snacks for the adult coloring event), and finally finished it when I got home from work.

Author: Katarina Bivald [Website][Facebook][Twitter]; Translated by Alice Menzies
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 9781492623441
Length: 384 pages
Obtained: Library copy

I found it to be a quirky, light book about books, small towns, and people. Many of the reviews on Goodreads seem to point to average and predictable, but while I avoid official ratings, I personally would place this higher than that.  Maybe it is a matter of perspective. ::shrug::  I don't need to be shocked and awed with every book I read.  And I generally love books about books (with an exception for The End of Your Life Book Club which dragged on horribly for me).

I suspect part of what appealed was that Sara managed to find just the right book for some of the towns non-readers.  And of course I'm a fan of romance (which I didn't even expect) and happy endings.  I do admit that I was skimming over Amy's letters through the second half of the book in an attempt to get to the living characters stories.

Something I found interesting: Sara mentions the Swedish title of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and what it means, reaffirming that I don't really want to read that series.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Catching Up (Kinda/Sorta?)

I've been reading like crazy, and I can't keep up with myself.

Re-reading Tessa Dare's Any Duchess Will Do prompted me to re-read the other book I obtained by her at the 2014 ALA Annual Convention (that I had read but not posted about), Romancing the Duke (1st in the Castles Ever After series).

Then I went back to catch up some with the earlier Spindle Cove books that I had never read.  So I got on OverDrive and read A Night to Surrender. But the library didn't already have the rest on ebook yet, so while I was waiting for my request to go through, I read the Stud Club books...
     1. One Dance with a Duke
     2. Twice Tempted by a Rogue
     3. Three Nights with a Scoundrel

     Then I read Once Upon a Winter's Eve, A Week to Be Wicked, and A Lady By Midnight in ebook format.

Mix in some ILL print books by Annie Bellet that I intend to go over in a different post (Pack of Lies and Hunting Season)

And a slew of Seanan McGuire books...

     From the InCryptid series (all in ebook format):
     1. Discount Armageddon 
     2. Midnight Blue-Light Special 
     3. Half-Off Ragnarok 
     4. Pocket Apocalypse

     And a print copy of Indexing that the library already owned.

     (Note: I've read all titles currently available in the October Daye series in 2015.  Apparently I never posted them, because "Seanan McGuire" is a new tag.)

I'm waiting for the library to get in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress:  Justice Calling; Murder of Crows; Pack of Lies; Hunting Season; Heartache; Thicker Than Blood; Magic to the Bone which I guess is supposed to come out in June and to purchase Reflections (next in the Indexing series and released this month) so I went on to read (and just finished) Jennifer Estep's Cold Burn of Magic (ebook).

While I wait for my request for the ebook Dark Heart of Magic to be approved and become available, I'll be catching up with Estep's Mythos books, beginning with where I left off, Crimson Frost.  I don't remember all the story line, but I'm sure I'll recall over the 4 books remaining in the series.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Any Duchess Will Do

Title: Any Duchess Will Do

Author: Tessa Dare

Publisher: AVON Historical Romance

Series: Spindle Cove, Bk 4

ISBN: 9780062240125

Length: 373 pages + Author's Note

Obtained: 2014 ALA Annual Convention

Why this book?:

I was in the mood for romance, and I remembered it had looked interesting.

Comments:

I read this months ago.  Like August 2015?  I think.  I don't remember the story, really.  Just that I liked it.  But even reading the back of the cover makes me want to read it again now.  There is something about certain historical romances that do that to me.  So maybe I'll re-read some and come back with remembered thoughts and comments...

About 3 1/2 hours later (having re-read much of it - I always skip the sex scenes)...

I definitely enjoyed the book.  But even with the story fresh in my mind, I don't have much to say.  Both Griffin and Pauline are likeable characters.  And I like the love story as well, but I especially enjoyed the HEA.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Book of Speculation

Title: The Book of Speculation

Author: Erika Swyler [Website/Blog][Twitter]

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

ISBN: 9871250054807

Length: 339 Pages

Obtained: Library copy

Why this book?:

This book caught my interest from the first moment I read the synopsis, and I had already started it when I received a recommendation from a coworker about it.

Comments:

I read this in September 2015 or prior (the above was last update 9/17/2015).  It was interesting, though perhaps not quite what I expected.

The protagonist, a librarian (though I've blanked on his name), is rather depressing.  But that seems to go along with his depressing family history.  The portrayal of librarianship was pretty gloomy too.  It left me rather pleased that things are not so desperate where I work, and that my day to day is generally decent.

The circus part of things gave that same surreal yet nostalgic feel that I dimly recall feeling after reading Water for Elephants.   I'm struggling to come up with a good comparison for the mysticism (tarot cards, an origin story, flashy storms at points of change, curses, etc.).  Probably the coolest part was the underwater breathing - scary as all get out, but pretty cool.

I know most of this is feeling and emotional impressions, but I'm actually pretty impressed that I remember that much.  It was one of those books that kind of lingers after you read it, so maybe that accounts for my memory of the story (if not character names).

Anyway, I'm glad I read it, but it isn't the type of book I could read regularly.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Untimely Death

Title: Untimely Death

Author: Elizabeth J. Duncan [Website][Twitter][Facebook]

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Series: Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery, Bk 1

ISBN: 9781629531915

Length: 278 pages

Obtained: NetGalley.  This is the 2nd NetGalley book I've gotten.

Why this book?:

It's a cozy mystery.  I just LOVE the cover.  I liked the Shakespeare production idea.

Additional context:

Before I comment on the book itself, I have to give some context.  Usually the "Why this book?" field fills that function, but this needs more.

I was approved for the advance review copy of this title with the request that it be reviewed in the month it was published...November (though my memory is saying October).  So I was delaying to time it right, then at the beginning of October, I went to start it and... my Kindle Keyboard that a lovely former-blogger friend sent me was ruined! The screen had been placed under too much pressure and now I couldn't read anything in the display.  So I was left reading the book on a PC screen or my iPhone.  Which I did, but slowed things down, because I love the eInk Kindle so much more and I needed time to mope.

I gave myself an extra week or two before finally starting the book.  And my thoughts (what I remember of them) can be found in the "Comments" below.  But even once I finished the book (before the deadline), I was being a horrible blogger and didn't post.  So I've had a 2 month gap since reading this, and some memories are foggy.  Keeping that in mind...

Comments:

What made the most impact on me as I read this story was the protagonist.

Because Charlotte Fairfax is a tad off-putting with her condescension.  She's British (despite an extended period residing in the States) and middle aged.  Therefore, she has a much better grasp of etiquette and her experience has made her much more knowledgeable than the silly young Americans she works with.  And apparently she feels as if not being technologically proficient is somehow the better position?

It's great that she overcame troubled times and is content with her role as costume mistress for a Shakespearean theater in a small town.  She certainly has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with her new intern.  She generally seems like a nice enough person, and I like that she is an animal lover (or at least a dog lover).

As far as the mystery was concerned, I did notice some of Charlotte's investigation methods seemed off (such as the incredibly stupid stunt she pulls - breaking the law and jeopardizing the trust of a friend - partway into the story), but those can easily be fixed as she becomes more experienced at investigating.

Overall, the story was nice, and I'd continue with the series.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tower of Thorns

The following was typed prior to 12/16/2015.  I've added the cover image, but otherwise, I'm just going to post it as is...

Oh, did Blackthorn ever annoy me in this one, while Grim was able to step up even more.  They remain a partnership, but sometimes Blackthorn seemed to forget that.

Traveling as far as they could without breaking Blackthorn's agreement, they went to help with the curse and/or being associated with the Tower of Thorns.  But there is manipulation and secrets afoot from multiple directions.  I am never a fan of manipulation and secrets.  And selfishness too.  But alas, there it is.

But Blackthorn is still clever and wise.  That is the nature of being a wise woman after all.  And Grim remains solid, except when he isn't.  And during those times he is still faithful and true.  Qualities I really admire.

But while Prince Oran (the third perspective in Dreamer's Pool), was generally a good guy, Lady Geiléis (the third perspective in Tower of Thorns) failed to gain my respect (or sympathy) from start to finish.

Tower of Thorns
Juliet Marillier [Website][Facebook]
ROC
9780451467010
Blackthorn & Grim, Bk 2
415 pages

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My Apologies and The Curse of Jacob Tracy

Well I've been a poor blogger again.  I have some posts that have been sitting at various stages of completion and a stack of books waiting to be added before they can be put back on my shelves.  I just don't know when that will actually happen.

I suppose my blogging days may  be at an end; that would be a shame.  My blog served a purpose, but it can't fulfill that purpose if I forget what the books I read are even about in the time it takes me to post about them.  And some of my more recent reads get lost in the long line of books to be posted on.

So I'll try to post as I read, and not worry about the backlog.  Maybe I can do better.

And that being said, I am currently reading The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger (published by Thomas Dunne books).  I'm enjoying it.  Set in parts that feel like a serial (suiting its historical nature), it makes a historical/western/paranormal fantasy/mystery blend.

I like the primary characters, Trace (Jacob Tracy), Boz (John Bosley), and Miss Sabine Fairweather, though I do not always agree with their actions.  Trace tends to shy away where I feel he should step up.  Boz doesn't fully support the way I'd like him to, letting occasional bitterness (perhaps valid considering he's black American in the 1880) get in the way.  And Miss Fairweather (as Trace points out) is too secretive and holds back too much (though Boz has the same issue with Trace).

Because of the serial aspect, Trace (and fellows) face multiple evils connected by an overall evil master.  This along with the action and scenes had me thinking this would make for an excellent graphic novel.  Seems to me, the images presented, the dialogue, the flow of the story... even the good versus evil with some occasional blurring gray areas would all do well in that format.

Anyway, I haven't reached the end (I'm on page 272 of 308), but so far I'm very glad I requested it after reading a review in a professional journal (can't remember which one).  And I'm very glad I didn't wait to pick it up and start reading.   Which I should be getting back to now.  The tension is building...