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11 Apr, 2016

Fire Touched

/ posted in: Reading Fire Touched Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
on March 8th 2016
Pages: 352
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Washington

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head and when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.   Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Goodreads

 

Can I just say how much I hate the covers of these books?  Look at that picture.  Mercy in the books has a Native American father.  I appreciate the fact that they aren’t whitewashing the cover but come on.  Long feather earrings and two braids?  On a mechanic?  And what is with the clothes?  She never, ever is described as dressing in shirts tied into improvised halter tops.  She doesn’t show skin at all.  She also is described as having one small coyote print tattoo but look at her arms.  Impressive collection of tattoos but way off the mark.

Anyway, in this book Mercy is still trying to make some members of the pack accept her as their Alpha’s mate.  That gives her status over them.  It hasn’t been going well.  She isn’t a werewolf and she keeps getting them into trouble.  Now she has made a proclamation that the pack with protect any supernaturals in their territory from the Fae.

I don’t know.  I just wasn’t a huge fan of this one.  I like the series but this one felt flat to me.  I’ve read several reviews that said that the readers felt like this was a big leap forward in the relationship between Mercy and Adam but I don’t get it.  He did stand up for her in the pack but their interactions together sounded distant and strained.  Maybe it is because I’ve gotten used to the warmth of the relationships in Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series that the more subdued relationship here seems odd.

Nothing really happened in the plot either.  It sounds like there is going to be a war.  The beginning with a fight with a troll is action packed but after that it is all political maneuvering and sitting around waiting for things to happen until the end.  This definitely didn’t have a “can’t put down” quality in the middle.  The ending did have an unexpectedly sad moment though.

One highlight of this book for me was Baba Yaga.

Bilibin. Baba Yaga

I love her. She is an old witch in Russian folklore who makes an appearance here to help in the fight with the Fae whether anyone wants her help or not. The book picked up whenever she appeared.

Bottom line:

This is a weak entry in a great series but it still worth reading or listening to if you have enjoyed the rest of the books.

 

About Patricia Briggs

“Patricia Briggs, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson series, lives in Washington State with her husband, children, and a small herd of horses. She has written 17 novels to date. Briggs began her career writing traditional fantasy novels, the first of which was published by Ace Books in 1993, and shifted gears in 2006 to write urban fantasy. ” from her website

25 Mar, 2016

Marked in Flesh

/ posted in: Reading Marked in Flesh Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
on March 8th 2016
Pages: 416
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Published by Penguin Publishing Group
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Also in this series: Written in Red, Murder of Crows

For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they're willing to tolerate--both within themselves and within their community... Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial--both personally and practically.   But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don't realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others--and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs...

Goodreads

The Humans First and Last movement is gaining strength. Members believe that they will be able win territory from the terra indigenes who control most of the land mass of the world. They aim their attacks at the wolves. Bad idea.

Now the powers who humans have never seen that rule the world have a decision to make.

How Much Human Do They Want To Keep?

I love this series. The books have moved from the cozy feeling of the first one to encompass the whole of the continent. The blood prophets are developing a system of warning each other when they see visions. The shifters are cooperating to keep the prophets safe.

This is a series that will make you ashamed to be human. The humans are definitely the bad guys here. It is frustrating because the humans are so short sighted. There were a few times when I had to remind myself that I wasn’t listening to the news because I would swear out loud in the car when the humans would do something evil.

I miss the grumpy ponies. The ponies control the weather and have names like Hurricane and Whirlpool based on what they cause. When they aren’t being totally bad ass, they appear as grumpy little ponies who deliver the mail in their spare time as long as the treats on offer are good enough. They are in the book in their elemental form but not the begging pony form. There are not enough books with begging ponies!

If you haven’t started this series yet, what are you waiting for? It is amazing. There is great world building. You’ll love the characters. Go out and read these now or do what I do and get the audiobooks so you can savor the experience of being in this world longer.

About Anne Bishop

“New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop is the winner of the RT Book Reviews 2013 Career Achievement Award in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. She is also the winner of the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award for the Black Jewels Trilogy. Her most recent novel is Vision in Silver, the third book in Anne’s urban fantasy series set in a re-imagined Earth. When she’s not communing with the Others, Anne enjoys gardening, reading, and music. ” from her website

24 Mar, 2016

Rejection Proof

/ posted in: Reading Rejection Proof Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang
on 2015-04
Pages: 240
Genres: Self-Help
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Texas

An entertaining and inspiring account of conquering his fear of rejection, offering a completely new perspective on how to turn a no into a yes.
Jia Jiang came to the United States with the dream of being the next Bill Gates. But despite early success in the corporate world, his first attempt to pursue his entrepreneurial dream ended in rejection. Jia was crushed, and spiraled into a period of deep self doubt. But he realized that his fear of rejection was a bigger obstacle than any single rejection would ever be, and he needed to find a way to cope with being told no without letting it destroy him. Thus was born his "100 days of rejection" experiment, during which he willfully sought rejection on a daily basis.

Goodreads

Do you avoid asking for things because you don’t want to hear someone say no? This is the book for you.

Jia Jiang always wanted to be an entrepreneur. He decided to go the safer route into business though because of his fears. Eventually he decides to quit his job and take six months to try to make a business idea a success. He also ends up facing his rejection fears head on by deciding to ask for something that will get him a rejection every day.

Rejection isn’t a huge fear of mine but I am horrible with conflict so I was interested in his idea to seek out what made him uncomfortable every day to desensitize himslef. His ideas were unique and funny.

One confused me though. He thought that if he gave free unwrapped food to people that no one would eat it. He thought that was a universal fear. That doesn’t bother me at all. From what I’ve seen at work when the vultures I work with descend on food people bring in, this isn’t a universal fear.

This is a great book about facing your fears and moving past them.

16 Mar, 2016

No Excuses – a Football Story

/ posted in: Reading No Excuses – a Football Story No Excuses on June 2nd 2015
Pages: 272
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in California

Trailblazing Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman Jr.—the first deaf athlete to play offense in the NFL—tells his inspirational journey of persevering through every obstacle, remaining dedicated to the hard work and a no-excuses attitude that ultimately earned him a Super Bowl victory.


Derrick Coleman was diagnosed as being legally deaf at the age of three.  In this book he tells his story growing up in and around Los Angeles.  He moved often with his mother when meant trying to make friends at new schools all the time.  He used sports to channel his energy and frustration.

He became a standout high school football player and then went to UCLA to play.  He was considered to have a good chance in the draft but wasn’t drafted after his senior year.  He went on to try out for several teams as a free agent before finding a more permanent job with the Seattle Seahawks.

This was an interesting story but it seemed to drag during his younger years.  He was only 23 at the time of the writing so there wasn’t a lot of life to cover.  It didn’t get really interesting until he was in high school and older.  It also seems to minimize his deafness more than you would think.  I feel like he is so used to it that it doesn’t seem like an issue to him so he doesn’t understand why people are so interested.  He mostly just says that it isn’t an issue and then moves on to talk about something else.

His insights into what it takes to get into the NFL and compete at that level are interesting.  That is the main focus of the book.  It covers the lifestyle of a player that isn’t a superstar.

I had never heard of him until I saw this audiobook on the library website.  I don’t have television so I hadn’t seen a commercial that he did for Duracell about being a deaf football player.  He did it for fun, a little money, and a year’s supply of hearing aid batteries.  He was most excited about the batteries because he needs to change them every few days.

25 Feb, 2016

The Road to Little Dribbling

/ posted in: Reading The Road to Little Dribbling The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
on October 8th 2015
Pages: 400
Genres: Travel, Europe, Great Britain
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in England

Twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his adopted country. The hilarious book that resulted, Notes from a Small Island, was taken to the nation’s heart and became the bestselling travel book ever, and was also voted in a BBC poll the book that best represents Britain.Now, to mark the twentieth anniversary of that modern classic, Bryson makes a brand-new journey round Britain to see what has changed.
Following (but not too closely) a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath, by way of places that many people never get to at all, Bryson sets out to rediscover the wondrously beautiful, magnificently eccentric, endearingly unique country that he thought he knew but doesn’t altogether recognize any more.

Goodreads

Bill Bryson is really grumpy in this book.  I’m a big Bryson fan.  I think I’ve read everything he’s written.  He’s never veered far from curmudgeonly but he’s downright peevish in this book.  He’s telling people to fuck off repeatedly.  Fair warning if that kind of thing bothers you.

To start this journey he drew a line on a map connecting the farthest points he could find on a map of the United Kingdom.

 

He started his trip from Bognor Regis in the south and meandered his way north in the general direction of this line.  This made me spend some quality time with Google maps.  I thought I had in my head a general idea of where he was going.  Then suddenly he was in Wales.  I didn’t know which one of us was not understanding geography.  I did find that I didn’t have a very good grasp on English geography – although I was spot on about Wales.  I would have sworn the Lake District was northeast of London along with Stratford-upon- Avon and the Cotswolds.  Turns out none of these things are true.

He alternates taking lovely walks with complaining about British customer service and the tendency of British people to litter.  He does have a strange nostalgia for museums full of taxidermy which I personally hate.  He can’t stand shops selling pieces of wood with pithy sayings on them.  He seems to get a bit tipsy more than is probably healthy or wise.

There was more in this book about his life outside of writing than there has been in other books.  He talks about doing speeches to politicians and filming TV shows.

I was disappointed that he didn’t narrate the audiobook.  That’s one of the joys of listening to his books on audio.  The narrator did a good job but it took me several hours to get over the fact that he wasn’t Bill Bryson and to stop hearing a phantom version of Bill Bryson’s voice in my head reading along with the narrator.

Bottom line – Listen to this one if you are a fan but don’t let this be a first or third Bryson book.

 

14 Jan, 2016

You Can’t Make This Up – a sports memoir

/ posted in: Reading You Can’t Make This Up – a sports memoir You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television by Al Michaels, L. Jon Wertheim
on November 18th 2014
Pages: 304
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library

One of America’s most respected sportscasters—and the play-by-play voice of NBC’s Sunday Night Football—gives us a behind-the-curtain look at some of the most thrilling games and fascinating figures in modern sports.
No sportscaster has covered more major sporting events than Al Michaels. During the course of his forty-plus-year career, he has logged more hours on live primetime network television than anyone in history, having covered all four major sports championships—the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA finals, and the Stanley Cup final—as well as the Olympic Games, the Triple Crown, and many more. He has witnessed firsthand some of the most memorable events in sports, and in this highly personal and entertaining account, he brings them all vividly to life.

Goodreads

While most kids dreamt about playing in the World Series, young Al Michaels wanted to announce it. He followed his dream to being the voice of a minor league baseball team in Hawaii in the 60s. Then the major league came calling but required him to move his family from Hawaii to Ohio – oh, the horror!

He moved up from there to a place announcing all types of sports including football, horse racing, and motorcycle racing on ice.

He covered hockey at the Olympics including the dramatic ‘Miracle on Ice’ game between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.

I thought his most interesting stories were the ones that didn’t directly involve sports.

  • He had just opened the broadcast of the World Series when the Northridge earthquake hit. The game was cancelled and he broadcast from the street until the next morning for ABC’s live coverage.
  • One of his best broadcasting partners, tennis partner, and neighbor was O.J. Simpson. He had been to the house many times and was even able to secretly tell ABC not to broadcast the news that O.J. was trapped in his house because he knew that there were other ways out.

This was a great overview of the world of U.S. sports in the last 40 years from Wide World of Sports to Sunday Night Football.

26 Dec, 2015

Winter Journey

/ posted in: FamilyReading Winter Journey Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong
on 2005
Pages: 483
Length: 14:33
Genres: Historical
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Australia and Poland

Halina Shore is a forensic dentist working in Sydney. She is invited to return to Poland to examine bodies in a mass grave to shed light on whether this was a German or a Polish war crime.

Goodreads

 

Helina Shore is a forensic dentist.  She was born in Poland and moved to Australia when she was nine.  Finding herself at loose ends after the death of her taciturn mother, she accepts an invitation to help exhume a mass grave in Poland.  The Jews of the town were burned to death in this barn in 1941.  Local lore says that the Nazis did it but rumors persist that it was the Polish people who committed the crime.  The investigation is supposed to find out the truth but is running against public opinion in this very conservative and nationalistic part of Poland.

To Sum Up

This book is amazing.  Go get it and read it or listen to the audio – whatever, just go do it.

The Longer Answer

I am always looking for historical fiction books set in Poland.  Generally, I want ones that aren’t about World War II.  This book is set in the early 2000s and in 1941.  The reason I’m interested in Poland is that my grandmother’s family comes from there.  She never told us much.  She didn’t like to be reminded that she was Polish.

In this book, Helina’s mother never told her anything about Poland.  It all sounded very familiar.  Every time Helina found out that her mother had lied about something I laughed.  It sounds like my family.  They never met an official form that they filled in truthfully.

In the course of listening to this audio, I got back on ancestry.com and got in contact with my second cousin.  We’ve been sharing documents about the family.  So far I found out about three more children that were siblings of my grandmother who all died young.  No one in my family had heard of them.  That’s not a surprise considering no one had heard of the adult brother that was murdered either.  Grandma didn’t talk about the past.

This book tries to discover what could make neighbors commit atrocities against their neighbors.  She has the viewpoints of Jewish survivors and of the people who burnt the barn.  She sets this against a picture of Polish nationalism that still exists today and leaves readers wondering how easily it could all happen again.  The rationalizations of the perpetrators are chilling.

There is a lot of discussion about identity.  This annoyed me a little.  I don’t have much tolerance for the plot device of finding out that your parents lied to you about some part of your background and then the character falls apart crying about how they don’t know who they are anymore.  You’re the same person you were two minutes ago.  Quit yer whinin’!

This can be a hard book to listen to because of the descriptions of what happened to the Jews of Nowa Kalwaria.  The author draws you into the story in both times leaving you wanting to find out who was involved and to see if the town can move past it into a brighter future.

This author has written other books about Poland and European immigration into Australia – both historical fiction and nonfiction.  I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

 

 

11 Dec, 2015

Winter

/ posted in: Reading Winter Winter by Marissa Meyer
on November 10th 2015
Pages: 800
Length: 23:00
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer's national bestelling Lunar Chronicles series.

Goodreads

I loved the rest of the books in this series – a science fiction retelling of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.  The books have been smart and inventive in reimagining the stories in a world where Earth is vulnerable to Lunar people who are able to control minds.  That’s why I’m ultimately disappointed in this last book in the series featuring the story of Snow White.

Winter is the step-daughter of the Lunar Queen, Levana.  Levana was the sister of the former Queen.  When her sister died she attempted to kill her sister’s child, the rightful heir to the throne.  Unbeknownst to Levana, the child was smuggled to Earth and healed by making her a cyborg.  Now Linh Cinder is leading a rebellion to take back her throne from the cruel Levana.

Winter is known for her stunning beauty and her refusal to use her ability to manipulate minds.  Refusing to do so is driving her insane.  She hallucinates a lot and rambles incoherently.  She is such a vapid heroine that she drove me crazy.  Maybe the problem was that I was listening to this on audio.  I sped it up to 1.5 times normal speed just so her ramblings didn’t take so long.  All she does the entire time is be a hinderance to everyone else in the book.  She has no agency.  She doesn’t make many decisions at all.  The whole story just washes over her.  Her one decision to try to go recruit some soldiers to the rebel cause is based entirely on, “I’m pretty and nice so of course they will follow me.”  Read that in the breathiest voice ever and you’ll get the idea of the audio.

I know that the story of Snow White and the evil Queen is based entirely on looks but I was really hoping that there was going to be more to this story than that.  Levana has enslaved her people and engineered and released a plaque on Earth and killed anyone who upset her but the plan is to show people that she isn’t a legitimate ruler because she is actually ugly under her glamour?  Come on.  I was hoping for something with more substance.

And the ending?  Let’s just say there is a lot of “Why don’t you let go of all your goals and marry me instead?”

The rest of the books are great and maybe this one wouldn’t have been so bad if I had read it instead of listening to it so I didn’t have so much time to dwell on the inconsistencies.

 

 

 

25 Nov, 2015

Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher

/ posted in: Reading Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher
on June 30th 2015
Pages: 136
Length: 3:47
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Three novellas allow the reader to encounter Dresden at different points in his career as a wizard-for-hire.

Goodreads

It is no secret that I love the Dresden Files.  Harry Dresden is a wizard in Chicago.  In these three novellas we see how Harry met River Shoulders, a Forest Person who has a half human child that he wants Harry to watch over.

In the first story the child, Irwin, is an elementary school student being tormented for being big and gentle. Harry goes undercover as a janitor in the school to meet him and finds that his tormentors are also supernatural.

In the second story Irwin is in high school and has become ill. According to River Shoulders that should never happen. Harry goes to visit Irwin to see what has happened.

Irwin is in college in story three. He is having his first love affair but his girlfriend is not what she seems.

I love the whole fresh mythology of Big Foot that Butcher has built in these stories. It isn’t necessary to know the rest of the series to enjoy these stories. This could serve as a great intro to the character. As always, I recommend the audio version. James Marsters voices Harry perfectly.

24 Nov, 2015

Andy and Don

/ posted in: Reading Andy and Don Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show by Daniel de Visé
on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 320
Length: 9:29
Genres: Nonfiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in North Carolina and California

A lively and revealing biography of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, celebrating the powerful real-life friendship behind one of America's most iconic television programs.
Andy Griffith and Don Knotts met on Broadway in the 1950s. When Andy went to Hollywood to film a TV pilot about a small-town sheriff, Don called to ask if the sheriff could use a deputy. The comedic synergy between Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife ignited The Andy Griffith Show, elevating a folksy sitcom into a timeless study of human friendship, as potent off the screen as on. Andy and Don -- fellow Southerners born into poverty and raised among scofflaws, bullies, and drunks -- captured the hearts of Americans across the country as they rocked lazily on the front porch, meditating about the simple pleasure of a bottle of pop.
But behind this sleepy, small-town charm, de Vise's exclusive reporting reveals explosions of violent temper, bouts of crippling neurosis, and all-too-human struggles with the temptations of fame. Andy and Don chronicles unspoken rivalries, passionate affairs, unrequited loves, and friendships lost and regained. Although Andy and Don ended their Mayberry partnership in 1965, they remained best friends for the next half-century, with Andy visiting Don at his death bed.

Goodreads

 

Andy Griffith and Don Knotts are icons of American television.  They met while on Broadway and then reteamed in the 1960s on The Andy Griffith Show playing a small town sheriff and his deputy.  They both went on to have careers in individual projects – Don in Three’s Company and a variety of movies and stage productions and Andy in Matlock and many TV movies – but they were always best together.

This book is a story of their lives and friendship.  Both were awkward kids from the south who tried to make in it show business and failed.  They tried again and became stars.  Their friendship survived three marriages each, alcoholism, drug addiction, and affairs.

Andy was groomed to be the star but he recognized Don’s brilliance and let him shine.  He won 5 Emmys and Andy never won any acting awards.  He was always proud of Don.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t as nice to the women in his life.  This book glosses over his domestic violence in an era when it wasn’t taken all that seriously.  He was brutal to people who he felt had betrayed him and he held grudges that went on for years.

Don seems like the nicer guy.  He was a lifelong hypochondriac with symptoms that got worse whenever he had to perform live.  He was addicted to sleeping pills to help control his anxiety.  Women loved him.  This book was written by an investigative reporter who was his brother-in-law in his third marriage.

If you are a fan of any of the TV shows that they were on, you will probably enjoy this book.  Just be prepared for the parts of their lives that don’t bear any resemblance to the clean cut characters that they played on TV.

03 Oct, 2015

Sisters in Law

/ posted in: Reading Sisters in Law Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman
on September 1st 2015
Pages: 416
Length: 13:29
Genres: History
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

The relationship between Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jew, western rancher's daughter and Brooklyn girl—transcends party, religion, region, and culture. Strengthened by each other's presence, these groundbreaking judges, the first and second women to serve on the highest court in the land, have transformed the Constitution and America itself, making it a more equal place for all women.
Linda Hirshman's dual biography includes revealing stories of how these trailblazers fought for recognition in a male-dominated profession—battles that would ultimately benefit every American woman. Hirshman also makes clear how these two justices have shaped the legal framework of modern feminism, setting precedent in cases dealing with employment discrimination, abortion, affirmative action, sexual harassment, and many other issues crucial to women's lives.
Sisters in Law combines legal detail with warm personal anecdotes, bringing these very different women into focus as never before. Meticulously researched and compellingly told, it is an authoritative account of our changing law and culture, and a moving story of a remarkable friendship.

Goodreads

I went into this book having read Sandra Day O’Conner’s book but I didn’t know much about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

O’Conner is from Arizona. She grew up on a ranch. She went to Stanford Law School where she didn’t experience much discrimination for being a woman because Stanford was a fairly new school that just needed bodies. However, when she graduated near the top of her class, the only job she was offered was as a legal secretary. She became a Republican state senator and eventually a judge.

Ginsburg is from Brooklyn. She went to Harvard Law which was much more set in its discriminatory ways. The women in her class were invited to attend a dinner where they were forced to explain how they justified taking a seat in law school that should belong to a man. She went on to argue six major cases in front of the Supreme Court that helped establish legal equality for women in the 1970s. She then became a federal judge.

What I noticed over and over in this book was that even though they were discriminated against as women they had extraordinary privilege otherwise. Each of them had connections with several prominent politicians and/or political advisors who they lobbied to advance their careers. They have stories that prove that success is based a lot on who you know.

Of the two stories I found Ginsburg’s life more interesting. It is good to remember what rights we take for granted now that were so controversial in my lifetime. The importance of diversity on the court becomes apparent in discussions when male justices reveal that they think the lives of most women are similar to the lives of their wealthy wives and daughters. Later they were unable to sympathize with a 13 year old girl strip searched at school.

This author did a good job of making fine points of case law accessible and understandable for non lawyers.

10 Sep, 2015

The Bane Chronicles

/ posted in: Reading The Bane Chronicles The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Cassandra Jean
on November 11th 2014
Pages: 528
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library

Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.
This collection of eleven short stories (10 in the audio version) illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.

Goodreads

I had a really hard time reading Cassandra Clare’s two series about Shadowhunters who fight demons.  I couldn’t keep them apart in my head.  One was set in England in the 1800s and one was in New York in present times but I still don’t know which series title refers to which.  I didn’t know they had different locations either.  I was reading them as they came out intermingled and with time in between.  I was never clear on who the bad guy was supposed to be in each series.  Everybody had the same last names in both series so I kept waiting for characters that I thought were in one book to show up in another only to realize halfway through that they were in the other series.  The only character I could keep straight was the warlock Magnus Bane because he was in both series because he was immortal.

I downloaded the audiobook version of the stories from the library.  These were really good.  They are co-written by several authors and read by different actors including David Oyelowo and Gareth David-Lloyd (I went to his shrine!). 

What Really Happened in Peru? –  Magnus convinces his warlock friend Ragnor to accompany him on several trips to Peru, none of which end well.

The Runaway Queen – Magnus tries to help Marie Antoinette and her family escape from Paris.

Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale – The Shadowhunters and the Downworlders are trying to make a peace agreement but neither side can trust the other.

The Midnight Heir – Magnus meets the son of the protagonists of the first Shadowhunter series.

The Rise of the Hotel Dumont – It is the 1920s in New York and an ancient warlock is playing with humans for his own evil plans.

Saving Raphael Santiago – Magnus is hired to find a young man who went hunting a vampire.

The Fall of the Hotel Dumont – Vampires are acting strangely and Magnus needs to figure out what’s wrong before they are all killed.

The Last Stand of the New York Institute – This chronicles the rise of the villain who is in the second Shadowhunter series.

The Course of True Love – Magnus takes a Shadowhunter on a horrible first date.

What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything – Magnus tries to figure out a birthday present while summoning a demon for a client.


I actually understand what happened in the series now.  Seeing it in chronological order helped.  These stories made everything else fit together.

When I read both Shadowhunter series I kept thinking that the Shadowhunters were pretty horrible people.  The nice thing about this book is that Magnus has pretty much nothing but contempt for them either.  He likes a few individuals here and there but as a race, he despises them.  That’s a risky choice for the author to make in writing a book about a minor character.  It is hard to cast your heroes as the bad guys.  I like it.

 

 

 

08 Aug, 2015

Armada

/ posted in: Reading Armada Armada by Ernest Cline
on July 14th 2015
Pages: 368
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Length: 11:58:00
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he's spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure. But hey, there's nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don t get chosen to save the universe. And then he sees the flying saucer.

Goodreads

When Zack sees the spaceship during math class he is excited until he realizes that it is a Glaive fighter.  Glaive fighters are enemy ships in his favorite video game, Armada.  Now he knows he is going insane.  This isn’t the first time he’s thought about his mental health.  Zack’s father died when he was 19 and Zack was 1.  Zack has spent his whole life watching his father’s VHS tapes and listening to his music.  He has also read his notebooks, one of which contains a paranoid theory that he was formulating before his death.  Zack’s father thought that the increase in alien invasion stories in movies and video games since the 1970s was part of a government conspiracy to prepare the Earth for an encounter with hostile aliens.  It sounded like the rantings of an unstable mind to Zack and he’s worried that he might have inherited the same tendencies.

Now that he’s hallucinating Glaive fighters, he’s sure of it.


This author’s previous book Ready Player One is my all time favorite audio book.  I was so excited when I heard that this one was coming out and that Wil Wheaton was doing the narration again.  I had a few day delay between the publishing date and when I could start it.  In that time I started seeing twitter messages pop up about people who loved Ready Player One abandoning this book.  They said it was too geeky for them and they couldn’t get into it.  I got scared.

I loved this book!  It is a very different book from Ready Player One.  Where that book delved deep into 80s pop culture, this one focuses on science fiction movies and video games.   I know way more about the 80s than I do about video games but I was able to follow along with Armada just fine.

There is a long section in the beginning that serves to explain the game play of the game Armada and its companion game Terra Firma.  This is a little slow if you aren’t a gamer but it is necessary information to understand the rest of the book.

Things I Loved

  • The story isn’t going where you thought it was.  This isn’t a typical alien invasion story.  Does the fact that you probably know what I mean by that indicate that Zac’s dad’s theory was right?
  • The characters are complex.  No one is completely good or bad.  People are capable of change and nuance.
  • The Raid The Arcade mix tape.  Am I the only person who wants to make a copy of this playlist?  The songs are listed at the end with the Bonus Track – Snoopy versus the Red Baron.  That bonus track is not optional.
  • I absolutely LOVED the inscription on the headstone at the end.  (There is a war.  Lots of people die.  I’m not saying whose headstone it is.)  It is PERFECT and made me laugh and then have all the feels.
  • Wil Wheaton did a great job with the narration.  In this book there are references to several famous voices and he did a very good job with them as well as the whole book.  I think he adds a whole other dimension to the story so I’d recommend this one on audio over any other format.

The ending leaves open the possibility but not the necessity of a sequel.  I’d love to hear what happens next.

 

About Ernest Cline

ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.

22 Jul, 2015

The Wright Brothers

/ posted in: Reading The Wright Brothers The Wright Brothers by David G. McCullough
on 2015-05
Pages: 368
Genres: 20th Century, Biography & Autobiography, History, Nonfiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Owned

On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot. Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did? David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, tells the surprising, profoundly human story of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Far more than a couple of unschooled Dayton bicycle mechanics who happened to hit on success, they were men of exceptional courage and determination, and of far-ranging intellectual interests and ceaseless curiosity, much of which they attributed to their upbringing. The house they lived in had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but there were books aplenty, supplied mainly by their preacher father, who encouraged their studying. As individuals they had differing skill sets and passions but as a team they excelled in any given task . That they had no more than a public high school education, little money and no patron to open doors to their desires, never stopped them in their goal to take to the air. Nothing did, not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off in one of their contrivances, they risked being killed, or, at the very least, maimed. In this thrilling book, master historian David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers' story, including the little-known contributions of their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them.

Goodreads

Everybody sort of knows the story of the Wright Brothers but in listening to this book I realized that I didn’t know much about them as people.

They were the youngest sons of a preacher who traveled widely.  They were very well read and educated.  Even their sister graduated from college but Wilbur and Orville did not attend college.  They started a printing business and then moved to bicycles.

They had been fascinated with flight since playing with some flying toys as children.  To get started with real flight experiments they wrote to the Smithsonian and asked for copies of all the research papers they had.  From there they experimented.

They decided to go to Kitty Hawk North Carolina because of the constant wind.  They first built gliders that could replicate some of the wing movements of birds.  It didn’t flap but they could steer by slightly changing the angle of the wings.

They would spend the fall at Kitty Hawk and then go back to their store in Dayton Ohio to make enough money to finance the next year.

Eventually they were able to fly with a motor. They then moved everything back to Ohio and tried to convince the world that they could fly. No one would believe them. Local reporters wouldn’t cover the story and said they were cranks even though people went out to watch them fly all the time. They tried to get a contract with the government but the government said they couldn’t do that because there was no proof they could fly. No one from the government would come out to see. I was super frustrated for them while listening to this part of the story.

Eventually, they made contact with the French government and Wilbur and a plane went to France. Again, no one believed they could fly. French aviation was considered the best in the world so they couldn’t fly yet so there was no way some backwoods Americans were going to be able to. Public demonstrations were made and finally, the officials believed. Wilbur became a star in France.

Orville was doing similar demos in Maryland for the U.S. government until a crash that killed a passenger and critically injured Orville.

I’m impressed with the imagination it took to figure out how to do something brand new and then explain it to the world.

 


This book made me understand this other book better.

One Summer: America, 1927One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this book there is a lot of talk about the supremacy of French aviation. Now I know why they were so into it. Wilbur Wright was a sensation and he taught some pilots before he went back to the U.S. The French aviation industry was energized in the year Wilbur spent there.

08 Jul, 2015

Queen Sugar

/ posted in: Reading Queen Sugar Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile
on February 6th 2014
Pages: 384
Genres: Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

A mother-daughter story of reinvention—about an African American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane farm in Louisiana. Why exactly Charley Bordelon’s late father left her eight hundred sprawling acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her eleven-year-old daughter, Micah, say good-bye to Los Angeles. They arrive just in time for growing season but no amount of planning can prepare Charley for a Louisiana that’s mired in the past: as her judgmental but big-hearted grandmother tells her, cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley must balance the overwhelming challenges of her farm with the demands of a homesick daughter, a bitter and troubled brother, and the startling desires of her own heart.

Goodreads

I’m not normally a fan of books that use extensive descriptions, especially on audio.  However, this book used descriptions to firmly root you in Louisiana and the cane fields.

Charley Bordelon’s father grew up poor in Louisiana.  His dream was to escape to California.  Right before he planned to leave he impregnated the girl he was dating.  That child’s name was Ralph Angel and he grew up with his mother in Louisiana.

Mr. Bordelon did go to California and became wealthy in real estate.  (I wish the book had explained how that happened.)  He married an upper class woman and then had Charlotte, who they called Charley.  She grew up privileged in California.  Ralph Angel came to live with them but was sent back to Louisiana after making several attempts to hurt baby Charley.

Now their father has died and Charley and Ralph Angel are reunited in their grandmother’s house in Louisiana.  Charley is there because her father left her a sugar cane farm that she didn’t know he had.  She is an art teacher and knows nothing about farming.  She is a widow and has a daughter.  She needs to start her life over and thinks that this farm may help.  She doesn’t realize that her father’s absentee landowner status has allowed the manager to get out of keeping up the farm.

Ralph Angel was living in Arizona with his son following the death of his wife.  He is broke and drives a stolen rental car back to Louisiana to stay with family.  He is furious that his father cut him out of the will and is determined to get his share from Charley.


Charley – She’s a hard worker and is willing to throw herself into whatever needs to be done for the farm.  Sometimes she’s a frustrating character because she doesn’t always listen to the advice of people she should and sometimes she lets herself get pushed around by people she shouldn’t.

Micah – Charley’s daughter is horrible.  I get that she is mad because she’s gone from a rich life with her grandmother in California to backwoods Louisiana but she’s a brat.  I think that she is a realistic portrait of a girl that age though.

Ralph Angel – Oh, I hated him!  He thinks that he is entitled to everything with no effort of his own.  He refuses several jobs because they are beneath his inflated opinion of himself.  He has no skills and no work ethic.  He is mean to everyone but his son.

Miss Honey – She is Charley and Ralph Angel’s grandmother.  She helped raise Ralph Angel and will hear no bad spoken of him even when it is a truth she should be facing.

 


Overall, I really liked this book.  I know more about sugar cane farming than I ever expected to know!

Feature photo from here

About Natalie Baszile

Natalie has a M.A. in Afro-American Studies from UCLA, and is a graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers where she was a Holden Minority Scholar. An early version of Queen Sugar won the Hurston Wright College Writer’s Award, was a co-runner up in the Faulkner Pirate’s Alley Novel-in-Progress competition, and excerpts were published in Cairn and ZYZZYVA. She has had residencies at the Ragdale Foundation where she was awarded the Sylvia Clare Brown fellowship, Virginia Center for the Arts, and Hedgebrook. Her non-fiction work has appeared in The Rumpus.net, Mission at Tenth, and in The Best Women’s Travel Writing Volume 9. She is a former fiction editor at The Cortland Review, and is a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. Natalie grew up in Southern California and lives in San Francisco with her family.

02 Jul, 2015

Shifting Shadows

/ posted in: Reading Shifting Shadows Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs
on September 2nd 2014
Pages: 450
Length: 16 hours
Genres: Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned

"Shapeshifter Mercy Thompson has friends in high places--and in low, dark, scary ones. And in this must-have collection of stories, you'll meet new faces and catch up with old acquaintances--in all their forms... In a time of fresh starts, Mercy is asked to use an old talent--ghost hunting--in the all-new story "Hollow." You'll learn what happens when an ancient werewolf on his last legs befriends a vulnerable adolescent ("Roses in Winter") and how Mercy's friend Samuel Cornick became a werewolf ("Silver"). The werewolf Ben finds "Redemption," and Moira, a blind witch, assists on a search in "Seeing Eye." From Butte, Montana, the copper-mining town that vampire Thomas Hao calls home ("Fairy Gifts"), to Chicago, where the vampire Elyna buys and renovates the apartment she lived in while human ("Gray"), you'll travel the roads that originated with Mercy Thompson and the fertile imagination of Patricia Briggs. Roads that will lead you to places you've never been before..."--Provided by publisher.

Goodreads

I’d seen this book around at the library and was waiting to read it when I ran out of the Mercy Thompson series and the Alpha and Omega series.

I finally decided to listen to it when I realized that it has “Alpha and Omega” in it. That is the story that starts the series and isn’t included in the books.  I’m not usually a big short story fan but I really like this world.

Some of the stories aren’t directly related to the book series.  Some look at the world from the viewpoint of minor characters.

“Seeing Eye” tells the story of how Seattle’s white witch Moira meets Tom, the werewolf who will become her mate.

“Silver” tells the story of how Bran and Samuel became werewolves and how they met Arianna, the fae woman they were made to torture and finally rescue.

“Gray” is the story of a vampire who buys and renovates the apartment she was living in when she was turned and has to confront the ghost that lives there.

“In Red, with Pearls” is a story about Warren, a werewolf who has become a private investigator for his boyfriends law firm.  He has to investigate why a zombie was sent after his boyfriend.

“Redemption” is from Ben’s point of view.  He’s a British werewolf who was sent to the U.S. because he was in trouble with the law.  He hates women so he doesn’t understand why he feels like he has to help protect a secretary at his office.

There are also a couple of outtakes – deleted scenes from some of the published novels.

This is a great book to read if you’ve read all of the other novels.  The only exception to that is maybe reading Alpha and Omega before starting that series.

About Patricia Briggs

“Patricia Briggs, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson series, lives in Washington State with her husband, children, and a small herd of horses. She has written 17 novels to date. Briggs began her career writing traditional fantasy novels, the first of which was published by Ace Books in 1993, and shifted gears in 2006 to write urban fantasy. ” from her website

10 Jun, 2015

Soulless, or Why I Can’t Show My Face Around Audible

/ posted in: Reading Soulless, or Why I Can’t Show My Face Around Audible Soulless by Gail Carriger
on February 9th 2010
Pages: 400
Narrator: Emily Gray
Length: 10:52
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Alexia Tarabotti is labouring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire - and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Or will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

Goodreads

Somehow I missed that this was about werewolves.

Yeah, I know, it is prominent in the description and it is on the cover.  In my defense, I hadn’t really read the description because I had just heard that the series was good (Joy, I blame you. LOL) and I had downloaded the audio from Audible and didn’t really see the cover.

I started listening to this right after binging on Written In Red and Murder of Crows.  I was deep in that world with very particular rules about shifters.  Any other book was going to suffer by comparison but trying to go right into another werewolf world that is so different was a disaster.  So, I did something that I had only done once before.  I returned the book to Audible.

Did you know you could do that?  If you hate the book you can return it and get your credit back.  That’s pretty cool.

I moved on with my life and listened to a few totally different werewolf-free audiobooks – A Path Appears and Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.  When I finished the last one, I was driving around and I hadn’t deleted Soulless from my ipod yet and … I listened to it.

I liked it. 

Now I feel like a horrible human.  Probably the only recourse is to rebuy it from Audible because I sort of want to listen to more of them.  I feel like the Audible police will come to my house if I buy the second book after returning the first.

About Gail Carriger

Bestselling author Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported from London. – from her website

13 May, 2015

Just Take My Money Then

/ posted in: Current EventsReading Just Take My Money Then A Path Appears by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
on September 23rd 2014
Pages: 400
Narrator: Olivia Wilde
Genres: Nonfiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library

An essential, galvanizing narrative about making a difference here and abroad--a road map to becoming the most effective global citizens we can be. In their number one New York Times best seller Half the Sky, husband-and-wife team Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn brought to light struggles faced by women and girls around the globe, and showcased individuals and institu­tions working to address oppression and expand opportunity. A Path Appears is even more ambi­tious in scale: nothing less than a sweeping tap­estry of people who are making the world a better place and a guide to the ways that we can do the same--whether with a donation of $5 or $5 mil­lion, with our time, by capitalizing on our skills as individuals, or by using the resources of our businesses. With scrupulous research and on-the-ground reporting, the authors assay the art and science of giving, identify successful local and global initia­tives, and share astonishing stories from the front lines of social progress. We see the compelling, in­spiring truth of how real people have changed the world, upending the idea that one person can't make a difference. We meet people like Dr. Gary Slutkin, who devel­oped his landmark Cure Violence program to combat inner-city conflicts in the United States by applying principles of epidemiology; Lester Strong, who left a career as a high-powered television anchor to run an organization bringing in older Americans to tu­tor students in public schools across the country; MIT development economist Esther Duflo, whose pioneering studies of aid effectiveness have revealed new truths about, among other things, the power of hope; and Jessica Posner and Kennedy Odede, who are transforming Kenya's most notorious slum by ex­panding educational opportunities for girls. A Path Appears offers practical, results-driven advice on how best each of us can give and reveals the lasting benefits we gain in return. Kristof and WuDunn know better than most how many urgent challenges communities around the world face to­day. Here they offer a timely beacon of hope for our collective future.

Goodreads

Don’t read this book if you don’t want to spend money.

The book takes a hard look at aid organizations around the world to see if they are doing what they set out to do.  Then they look at the reasons for the successes and the failures.

I had not heard of most the organizations that are profiled here.  I was looking for a new organization to support and I found one.  Shining Hope for Communities uses their girls’ schools in Kenya as a hub for community services.  It shows that the school for girls is an important place.

“From the school, SHOFCO extends holistic community services beyond the families of students to the entire community. We identify the services people value most, like clean water, quality health care, and economic empowerment opportunities.

SHOFCO raises the overall health of the community by providing access to free health care, clean water, sanitation education and toilet facilities. We empower the community through valuable public resources including computer and library access, adult education, and group savings and loans. We foster community fellowship though soccer teams, youth programs, and women’s empowerment groups. Today, these integrated services transform urban communities.”

from the website

The book also looks at why people give to charities and uses that research as a way to entice people to give more.  It looks at the issue of whether charities should be run like businesses and whether charities that are run like that are punished.  There was a 3 part PBS documentary featuring several of the organizations featured in the book that is available online.

take my money

 

 

 

About Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Sheryl WuDunn

Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, is a business executive, lecturer, and best-selling author. Currently, she is a senior managing director with Mid-Market Securities, an investment banking boutique, helping growth companies, including those operating in the emerging markets. She also worked at The New York Times as both an executive and journalist: in management roles in both the Strategic Planning and Circulation Sales departments at The Times; as editor for international markets, energy and industry; as The Times’ first anchor of an evening news headline program for a digital cable TV channel, the Discovery-Times; and as a foreign correspondent for The Times in Tokyo and Beijing, where she wrote about economic, financial, political, and social issues. She is co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times since November 2001, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who writes op-ed columns that appear twice a week. In 1990, Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, previously a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China’s Tiananmen Square movement. Kristof won a second Pulitzer in 2006 for what the judges called “his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur.”

22 Apr, 2015

A Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

/ posted in: Reading A Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
on March 4th 2014
Pages: 448
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Length: 14:13
Series: The Others #2
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Also in this series: Written in Red, Marked in Flesh

Return to New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s “phenomenal” (Urban Fantasy Investigations) world of the Others—where supernatural entities and humans struggle to co-exist, and one woman has begun to change all the rules…After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more. The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat. As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

Goodreads

I loved listening to the audiobook of Written in Red so I immediately started listening to A Murder of Crows.  The world building in this series is amazing!  When humans started to expand from their origin points around the Mediterranean, they met the Terra Indigene – shapeshifters who are the dominant species on the planet.  The Terra Indigene control all the resources of the planet but allow humans to build some cities and use some materials in exchange for technology.  The alliance is very fragile though and now humans are starting to push for more.

Two drugs have appeared.  Gone Over Wolf causes increased aggression and Feel Good causes passivity to the point of not defending yourself if attacked.  Both drugs have been used in attacks against the Terra Indigene.

Meg is a prophet and the visions are coming more often.  She isn’t the only one.  The other blood prophets around the continent are seeing visions of blood and destruction.  War is coming.


The first book in the series was very insular.  It happened in the small community that Meg found herself in.  This book looks at the bigger picture.  At first that was a bit distressing.  I liked the insular story and wanted to know what was going on there.  But, seeing how Meg’s escape from the institution where blood prophets were kept caused ripples that are affecting the whole world was interesting.

We meet the Intuits, a subset of humans who have strong reactions when something bad is about to happen.  We learn how blood prophets are bred and controlled.  We see how the Humans First and Last movement is growing and how some people are taking it to violent extremes.

The Lakeside Courtyard now has a few trusted humans besides Meg working with them.  These people are now being attacked by other humans for being traitors to their kind.  At the same time Terra Indigene leaders from other areas are starting to come to Lakeside just to see how it is possible to deal with humans on an everyday basis.  Maybe there is hope for understanding after all.


I love this series so much that I had to force myself not to get the next book immediately.  There are only three out right now and I want to space them out a bit.  It isn’t fair to the audiobook I’m listening to now because I’m mad at it for not being this series!

About Anne Bishop

“New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop is the winner of the RT Book Reviews 2013 Career Achievement Award in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. She is also the winner of the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award for the Black Jewels Trilogy. Her most recent novel is Vision in Silver, the third book in Anne’s urban fantasy series set in a re-imagined Earth. When she’s not communing with the Others, Anne enjoys gardening, reading, and music. ” from her website

10 reasons to love written in red
07 Apr, 2015

10 Reasons to Love Written in Red

/ posted in: Reading 10 Reasons to Love Written in Red Written in Red by Anne Bishop
on 2013
Pages: 433
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Length: 18:32
Series: The Others #1
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Also in this series: Murder of Crows, Marked in Flesh

No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans. As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg's Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others. Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she's keeping a secret, and second, she doesn't smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she's wanted by the government, he'll have to decide if she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Goodreads

Why You Should Love This Book

1. A werewolf and a vampire manage a bookstore.

2. A human gets a job sorting mail. I’ve always been fascinated with mail sorting. Honestly. It seems like magic to me that mail gets where it is supposed to go. I would love the job of sorting mail.

3. The Ponies! The ponies deliver the mail if they feel like it. They come and get baskets full of mail. They are described as having grumpy faces. I love grumpy-faced ponies. The human started giving them treats. More ponies come and some try to get more than their share of treats. When they think the treats aren’t as good as yesterday, they get sassy. This was every day of my life with my grumpy-faced pony.

4. The narrator has a strange combination of little girl and very soothing qualities to her voice. I want her to narrate ALL THE BOOKS!

5. The names of the stores owned by the Others are great. Howling Good Reads, A Little Bite (coffee shop), Run and Thump (gym), etc.

6.  The Others can appear human but they don’t understand humans.  They base their interactions off what they’ve seen in books and movies.  They have to learn firsthand that things like “Is it that time of the month?” are not appropriate.

7.  The wolves learn to appreciate dog beds and treats even if they don’t want to admit it.

8.  The crows are gossips who don’t give correct change because they don’t want to give away shiny things.

9. Seriously, don’t mess with the ponies.  Angry ponies are destructive ponies!

10.  There is some great world building here.  Humans are not the dominant species on the planet.  They are allowed to live places through agreements with the Others and those agreements can be revoked at any time.  Human cites have been wiped out when the Others are angered.

About Anne Bishop

“New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop is the winner of the RT Book Reviews 2013 Career Achievement Award in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. She is also the winner of the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award for the Black Jewels Trilogy. Her most recent novel is Vision in Silver, the third book in Anne’s urban fantasy series set in a re-imagined Earth. When she’s not communing with the Others, Anne enjoys gardening, reading, and music. ” from her website

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