This is possibly the latest I’ve finished reviews for the year. Part of it, I’m sure, is that 2016 was such a horrible year that I really don’t want to go back and think about it. I don’t want to relive the stress and grief. But the reviews need to be done, and since I’ve been moving up in the Goodreads rankings (I was up to #17 in the USA at one point,) I should get on it and keep the ball rolling.
The Rating System:
Liked It A lot
- It’s a Magical World: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection 1/5/16 – Ah Calvin and Hobbes, brings back a lot of great memories, and of course quite a few laughs too. You’ve got to love all the snow men and of course Hobbes ambushing Calvin when he comes home from school, plus the cluelessness of Calvin’s parents.
- King (Books of the Infinite, #3) 1/13/16 – This book has a very different feel than the previous two, Prophet and Judge. A times it just felt too political, with too much palace life and politics. I understand where it was going and how the author was trying to tie up loose ends, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the others. That being said, the book picks up after the new King Akabe and his friends Kien and Ela leave the palace. The events that get set in motion from there are much more exciting than palace gossip.
- Shadowland: A Tale From The Dark Ages 1/24/16 – A very different Arthurian tale. The story is told by a strange old man one wintry evening with the villagers gathered around the fire in the local tavern. It the tale of two boys who are the only survivors of a village after a raid by Saxon invaders. Making their way across the countryside in search of safety, eventually an old warrior name Merlyn takes the boys under his wing. It’s a coming of age story in some of the darkest times in the history of Britain, with a dash of magic, prophecy and a lot of bloody battles mixed in.
- Prilla and the Butterfly Lie (Tales of Pixie Hollow, #8) 1/26/16 – A good book about how even “innocent” white lies can be harmful. Prilla doesn’t want to disappoint her friends, and she can’t say no. So what’s that harm in saying she loves butterflies? Well when all the butterfly herders become sick everyone looks to Prilla to fill in. Sometimes a white lie can land you in a sticky situation.
- Seeing Redd (The Looking Glass Wars, #2) 1/27/16 – I loved the first book, The Looking Glass Wars, but the sequel wasn’t nearly as good. For one thing it spent a lot of time with secondary characters from the first book. Characters who are fine, but not likable enough to carry the story on their own. For one thing Arch is a guy you love to hate, or rather just hate. Redd is despicable, and her cronies unlikeable. And then there is poor naive Molly. The parts with Hatter Madigan are of course great, and I did enjoy his arch in the book. However it just spend too much time building up the plots and twists of the bad guys, and that’s keeping me from picking up the third book, ArchEnemy.
- The Iron Ring 2/28/16 – A big departure from Lloyd Alexander from stories with clearly Celtic origins to a medieval Persian or Indian fantasy setting. Young King Tamar is tricked into playing a dice game with a mysterious stranger one night, it’s a loosing game and Tamar looses everything that night. In his search to regain his honor and his throne he goes on a journey in which he learns there is more to a person than their caste and more to morality than honor. It has a lot of great characters, and is a really well told coming of age story.
- The Seven Against Thebes 4/21/16 – Tells the story of the twin sons of Oedipus, Eteocles and Polyneices as they fight over the throne of Thebes. Polyneices and six champions come, one per gate, to destroy the city. The narrative is mostly between a messenger, Eteocles and the women of the town, as the messenger goes back and forth from the walls to report on the latest happenings. Finally the brothers face each other in single combat. The events of Seven Against Thebes happen just before Antigone.
- Sorting the Beef from the Bull: The Science of Food Fraud Forensics 5/25/16 – I got this book from our local library because food safety is an issue that interests me. Coming from a farm family I have a natural interest in issues revolving around agriculture and food. At different points along the way I’ve even thought about being a food and ag scientist. Certainly some of the people I most admire fit that bill (Norman Borlaug and Kevin Folta.)Sorting the Beef from the Bull is about a part of food science that I hadn’t really thought much about- food fraud. Read my full review.
- Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: How the Famous Sell Us Elixirs of Health, Beauty & Happiness 6/4/16 – The first part of the book is about the author experiencing the health and beauty routines that celebrities like Gwyneth endorse and sell. He tried a detox and a skin care routine, went to a spa, interviewed a plastic surgeon, and spent a year reading People magazine… seriously the whole thing, every issue, for a year (thanks for taking one for the team dude, because People magazine is hurl inducing for me.) Read my full review.
- The Quest for Merlin (Magimakía Book 1) 6/15/17 – The Quest for Merlin is a fantasy novel set in the modern day. It has a very unique premise and mythology. The story is told through various characters, the main story following the decedents of Merlin, but also has a very interesting side story as told by the goblins. That’s right, goblins! I really enjoyed the GPoV (Goblin Point of View) chapters. Read my full review.
- The Strangler Vine (Avery & Blake, #1) 6/23/16 – I read a preview of this book on First to Read and then immediately put the book on hold at the library. This is a very good action-adventure story set in colonial British India. I basically sank into this book and lived with the characters for a couple of weeks. (Although glad I wasn’t in the heat and humidity of the jungle with them.) You get a real feel for “Company India” and the politics that were at play, but not in a boring kind of way. It’s an adventure filled with mystery. As Avery looses his idealism and naivety, I really felt for him, for India, for the ideals and nationalism that thrust so many people into situations they were unprepared to handle. The corruption that was so obvious was also so expertly hidden, there were so many layers to peal back, the answers come late and come hard. I really enjoyed this book.
- Call of the Herald (The Dawning of Power, #1) 6/30/16 – A fantasy story with a plot we’ve all heard before, regular girl finds out she has special powers, the people in her home town are fearful of her and the bad guy will stop at nothing to get to her. That troupe-y outline hides a story about family and sacrifice. I found it to be a pretty good story and an enjoyable read.
- Landon Snow and the Shadows of Malus Quidam (Landon Snow, #2) 7/7/16- I got books 2-5 on clearance from Christian Books Distributors because I thought they might be good books for my nephew, but I wanted to check them out first. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a series you can just jump into. While reading it there were just so many world building questions and too many times it eludes to the first story. Other than that I thought it was a pretty good story with lots of fantasy and action. I guess I’ll just keep an eye out for the first book before sending these on to my nephew.
- The Infidel Stain (Avery & Blake, #2) 7/11/16 – An atmospheric thriller. Once I finished The Strangler Vine and learned there was a second book I checked it our from the library right away. Although, at first, I wasn’t sure I would like the change of settings from the wilds of India to the grimy back alley’s of London. However, having read the first book the unease of Blake and Avery at returning to London mirrored my own. Somehow that just worked perfectly within the journey of the story. You really do sink into these books and travel with the characters. While mystery is not my favorite genre, I’d pick up another Blake and Avery novel any day.
- Elemental Secrets (The Essential Elements Book 1) – 8/20/16 This story is 8 parts high school drama and 2 parts super natural. The high school drama is that of a Navy brat who is living with her Aunt while on her dad is deployed. She trying to fit in as the new kid at the high school, although she’s not too new because she was with this same group of students for 8th grade during another of her dads deployments. Read my full review.
- Lord Foulgrin’s Letters 8/21/16 – A modern day Screwtape Letters, that just wasn’t exciting enough for me and didn’t live up to it’s predecessor. Partly because you spend so much time reading the boring letters from the demons and not much time really getting to know Jordan and his family. It doesn’t allow you enough time to really build up empathy for the main character, who is really a sleazy jerk at the beginning. That being said the book makes you think. It will be with you long after you read it, and I think that was the point.
- The Midnight Sea (The Fourth Element, #1) 8/24/16 – Kat Ross is my new favorite fantasy writer. These books are amazing and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to read the whole series. HINT: This in a binge readable series, get all three books. Nazafareen’s little sister is taken by a wraith, an undead being, and is killed by her uncle to protect their tribe. But now all Nazafareen dreams of is revenge, and she’ll get it when she is found to have the spark that allows her to join the demon hunting forces of the water dogs. A dark fantasy story that will grip you and not let you go until you come up for air at the end of book 3.
- Blood of the Prophet (The Fourth Element #2) – 9/4/17 The Forth Element Series is a great example of a fantasy series that uses existing mythology to build its fantasy world, but does it in a really exciting new way. I don’t believe I’ve read another fantasy book set in the ancient empire of Persia, using some of the mythology of the area and weaving in the origins of Zoroastrianism. The setting alone is something to love! Read my full review.
- Rags and Ruins – 9/9/16 Rags and Ruins is a fantasy story that takes so much of what we think we know about fantasy tropes and turns them on their heads, in the best way possible. Hargo, is a good-hearted, hard working goblin. Calin is a loving, protective mother goblin. Ladin is a fun loving, adventurous gargoyle. With the Man in the House to keep watch on him and the landfill where they and other “creatures of darkness” live. Rags is really lucky to have them all in his life. A boy never had it so good from so many “bad characters.” Read my full review.
- City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) 10/1/16 – An over hyped book. What can I say about a book where I really could not understand the motivations of the main character and kept wishing over and over again that it was Buffy not Clary. “Buffy did it better,” kept occurring to me and at times this felt more like a mess fanfic than the book that would spawn a whole fantasy world. But I’ve never really been big on urban fantasy and this is why.
- The Breedling and the City in the Garden (The Element Odysseys, #1) 10/31/16 – Not so much a fantasy story as a tour of 1930’s Chicago with a little bit of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” type mythology mixed in. The Breedling and The City in the Garden, has a really warm narrative that slowly unfolds the mystery surrounding the character of Bartholomew as it takes you on a tour of depression era Chicago. The depth of the depression history draws you in and makes the unraveling bits of mythology that much more believable. Read my full review.
- Clean Up on Aisle Stupid!: A Get Fuzzy Collection –
- The Fuzzy Bunch (Get Fuzzy Collection # 20) –
- Venom & Vanilla (The Venom Trilogy #1) 11/23/16 – I was wary coming into this book, because it was an urban fantasy and I had just been majorly let down by City of Bones. However, the pull of this one was it mixture of Greek mythology and modern life. Plus I found it tongue-and-cheek enough that it’s absurdity was easier to take. The story is a little convoluted, but you basically just need to hang on for the ride and have a little fun while you’re at it.
- You Can’t Fight Crazy: A Get Fuzzy Collection –
- The Last Treasure of Ancient England (The Chester Bentley Mysteries Book 1) 12/9/16 – You’ve probably heard a book claim to be the next so-and-so. You know the next Narnia, or new Lord of the Rings, or next Nancy Drew. Well I often dismiss those claims. Especially since I’ve been let down so many times because the comparision didn’t live up. However, I will dare to make a comparission here… This Chester Bentley Mystery is the closest I’ve come to reading something that captures, as an adult, the feelings I had when reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys as a child. Read my full review.
- The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2.5) 12/12/16 – A book unlike anything I’ve ever read, but I can’t express how much I truly loved it. However, if you haven’t at least read The Name of the Wind this book will make no sense to you and you should not even attempt it. If you have read the other King Killer Chronicles books you will find this a fascinating atmospheric snap shot. Not really a story per-say but a deep look into things through Auri’s eyes and it’s just beautiful.
- Firefly Island, an Epic Fantasy 12/24/16 – A unique fantasy stand-alone. Seems like every story these days has to be about the chosen one and the evil kings quest to get rid of them before they can fulfill some prophecy… yada, yada, yada. This one has that for it’s basic outline too, but just does it differently. It’s hard to explain, for one thing actions have real and lasting consequences in this story. There is no hero shield and the hero is fallible, but in a way that was real and genuine, not in a “they need to have a character flaw” way. This book is just so different that it’s hard to explain. If you’re curious pick it up and read it for yourself.
- Heart and Brain: An Awkward Yeti Collection 12/25/16 – My husband loves me so much and he knows just what I like, which is why he gave this to me for Christmas. The Awkward Yeti is probably the best of the best of webcomics. This book is a collection of the hilarious, yet oh-so-true comics about the antics of free spirit Heart and over thinking Brain, oh and don’t forget the demanding Tongue or irritable Bowels or the whole host of other body part characters.