ANNOUNCEMENT
After a lot of thought, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the foreseeable future. With my little C creeping its way back into my life and possible long term treatment now, I need to take a couple of things off my plate for the time being, and the blog is going to be one of those things. As it is, it felt like it was becoming more of a chore than anything else. I need my reading time to be more enjoyable right now, more of the escape that I really need, and what I don't need is the little voice in the back of my head telling me how many reviews I'm behind and trying to come up with what I need to say about the book.

I simply want to read.

I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.

As always, happy reading!
2017 edit
I will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.


2017 edit #2
I am happy to report that my bone marrow transplant was a success and that I'm feeling more like myself everyday. That said, I'm going to try to start blogging a little more frequently, but please bear with me as I still continue to recover.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 2015 Monthly Recap


Books Read
  1. Trees, Vol 1 by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard
  2. The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume II by Ishbelle Bee
  3. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  4. Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson
  5. Legion by Brandon Sanderson
  6. Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle
  7. Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor, Vol 1: After Life by Al Ewing & Rob Williams, illustrated by Simon Fraser & Gary Caldwell
  8. The Map: A Jackaby Story by William Ritter

1523 pages total

Favorite Book of the Month
    The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume II by Ishbelle Bee

Gender of author
6 male
2 female

Year of Publication
2012 - 1
2013 - 2
2015 - 5

Books Acquired
22 Total
3 - from a local Indies at signings
7 - remainders from B&N
1 - new from Schuler
8 - used from local Indies
4 - gifts from friends

2015 Year to Date Totals
Books Read: 54
Pages Read: 9979
Books Acquired: 141
Books Acquired Read: 22

The Map: A Jackaby Story by William Ritter

 photo 000872dc74ac62a596d796b6b67437641506f41_zpsbxw7jle8.jpgThe Map: A Jackaby Story
by William Ritter
Published by Algonquin Young Readers, June 15, 2015
57 Pages • ASIN B00YBAOT0W • eBook

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Book description:
Perfect for fans of Jackaby who are desperately awaiting the release of its sequel, Beastly Bones, this novella-length story follows the rollicking events of Abigail Rook’s birthday celebration.

Abigail hopes that her birthday will slip by unnoticed and uncelebrated, but her employer, detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby, has other plans. Using magical party crackers that teleport the pair to unknown destinations in time and space and a cryptic map that may lead to a forgotten treasure, Jackaby intends to give Abigail what he considers to be the best gift of all--adventure.

Abigail and Jackaby must tame an enormous (and carnivorous) rabbit, defend a castle, and master a dirigible if they want to find the treasure and get back to New Fiddleham alive.


A quick little tale to whet our appetites while waiting for Jackaby and Rook's next adventure, Beastly Bones, The Map finds Jackaby whisking Rook away on an adventure for her birthday, whether she likes it or not. After taking her to a magical market and buying her a treasure map, Jackaby and Rook follow the map in search of buried treasure.

There's still so much about this series that reminds me entirely of Doctor Who (possibly too much so...). Jackaby is clearly based on Four, and while I haven't pinpointed which companion Rook takes after, you know she has to based on one of the Doctor's companions. I'm still excited about the characters, and this was a great little teaser for the upcoming book.






And just to be clear, by Four, I mean...

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...and not...

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor, Vol 1: After Life by Al Ewing & Rob Williams, illustrated by Simon Fraser & Gary Caldwell

 photo 1782761748.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsmujto37z.jpgDoctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor, Vol 1: After Life
by Al Ewing & Rob Williams, illustrated by Simon Fraser & Gary Caldwell
Published by Titan Comics, March 31, 2015
128 Pages • ISBN 978-1782761747 • Hardcover

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Book description:
With a force of personality capable of bending time itself and all the energy of a star’s exploding heart, the Doctor blasts into the hollow, tragic life of a woman with so much to offer – and gives her the chance to scream “Geronimo!” at the thrills, colors and terrors of an infinite universe!

Masterful writers Al Ewing (
Loki: Agent of Asgard, Mighty Avengers) and Rob Williams (Ordinary, The Royals: Masters of War) team with astounding artists Simon Fraser (Nikolai Dante) and Boo Cook (Elephantmen) to blast the Eleventh Doctor – as played by Matt Smith – into a tantalizing new era of time-twisting comics stories!

Collects
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1-5.


Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this volume nearly as much as I did the first volume for Ten. This one isn't necessarily bad, it just didn't seem to hit its stride for me. Eleven is written well, and I could easily hear his voice in my head the entire time, but he looked more or less like a caricature of himself thru most of volume. Including an underlying mystery that was present thru the first five issues was a nice touch and a nice nod to the television series, however, it felt way too rushed (although that may have simply been a result of reading all five issues in one sitting, without having the month in between the issues when they were being originally released).

While I enjoyed Ten's volume so much more, this was still a fun read, and I'll definitely be picking up the subsequent volumes and follow along with Eleven on his future adventures.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle

 photo f277f98a6e2a2d3597573326b67437641506f41_zpszxptydgu.jpgWarren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel
by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle
Published by Quirk Books, November 24, 2015
256 Pages • ISBN 978-1594748035 • Hardcover
I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher thru NetGalley for an honest review.

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Book description:
Meet Warren the 13th, a cursed 12-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky... yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first—if the hotel’s many strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it! This middle-grade adventure features gorgeous two-color illustrations on every page and a lavish two-column Victorian design that will pull young readers into a spooky and delightful mystery.


Twelve-year-old Warren the 13th is a bellhop at the hotel that his family has owned for generations. Warren is actually the only bellhop at the hotel, as the hotel has fallen into disrepair and disuse since his parents died and his Uncle Rupert and Aunt Anaconda have taken over the "management" of the hotel. His uncle is totally smitten with Anaconda, who is trying to locate the All-Seeing Eye, a mysterious something in the hotel that does something, but we're never quite given any hints of that something until the very end. The hotel is Warren's pride and joy, and he is forever optimistic that someday, the hotel will become as thriving as it once was. He has no friends in the hotel other than the cook and his teacher, no pets; in fact, Warren's life is pretty miserable under the ever-watchful eye of Anaconda.

Suddenly, one day a mysterious guest appears (whose head is entirely wrapped in bandages) and checks into the hotel. Then, Warren sees a mysterious ghostly figure in the hedge maze. Then, Anaconda's sisters arrive to help search for the All-Seeing Eye. Finally, the hotel is full to brimming with all manner of guests, who are all in search of the All-Seeing Eye. Before Warren knows it, he's off on an adventure of his own to discover the secret of the All-Seeing Eye before Anaconda and her sisters do, and along the way he actually makes some friends in unexpected places.

This is a clever story, and the accompanying illustrations are remarkable. Everything about the book made me feel that this would translate well into a film directed by Tim Burton; it has that particular look and feel to it, with its unusual looking characters and Gothic undertones. I'm anxious to see what the finished product looks like, as the pre-publication electronic copy I received has some unfinished illustrations in it, and I can only imagine how good the finished, printed copy will look like. I'm hoping we'll get to see more of Warren the 13th in the future.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by MacLeod Andrews

 photo fb9e555392824d4596c38666951437641506f41_zpsvt0oal9x.jpgMitosis
by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by MacLeod Andrews
Published by Audible Studios, October 7, 2014

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Book description:
Brandon Sanderson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Words of Radiance, coauthor of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, and creator of the internationally bestselling Mistborn trilogy, presents Mitosis, a short story set in the action-packed world of Steelheart and Firefight: the Reckoners series, exclusively available in the digital format. Epics still plague Newcago, but David and the Reckoners have vowed to fight back. Catch all the action before, Calamity, the exciting sequel to Firefight, hits shelves in 2016..


A quick audio short that bridges Steelheart to Firefight (but is not necessary to jump right into Firefight), Mitosis deals with how the Reckoners are adjusting the city of Newcago to be free of the rule of Steelheart. It sets up in more detail how they have tried to keep things are much the same as they were before, but for the better of the citizens instead of for the sole purpose of making Steelheart's rule absolute. Of course, what's a Reckoner story without at least one Epic, and here we are introduced to Mitosis, who can split himself into as many clones as he needs. He has come to Newcago to take down David and the Reckoners so that he can take rule of Newcago, but naturally, this doesn't actually en too well for him.

Again, a decent enough story, but not something that is necessary to listen to between Steelheart and Firefight.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

 photo 1596064854.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsfx98bmcu.jpgLegion
by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Subterranean Press, August 31, 2012
88 Pages • ISBN 978-1596064850 • Hardcover

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Book description:
Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson reveals a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent.

Stephen Leeds, AKA 'Legion,' is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his 'aspects' are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society. The action ranges from the familiar environs of America to the ancient, divided city of Jerusalem. Along the way, Sanderson touches on a formidable assortment of complex questions: the nature of time, the mysteries of the human mind, the potential uses of technology, and the volatile connection between politics and faith. Resonant, intelligent, and thoroughly absorbing, Legion is a provocative entertainment from a writer of great originality and seemingly limitless gifts.


Continuing my Brandon Sanderson marathon, I listened to the audio of Legion today. Legion, a novella published thru Subterranean Press, follows Stephen Leeds (Legion), who has the unique ability to create multiple personalities when he needs them to fill a particular roll in his life or he needs to learn something new: for instance, Stephen needs to learn a new language? Suddenly he has a new hallucinatory personality that will teach him French. These personalities are unique individuals who interact with Stephen and each other, yet no on else can see them. Stephen even goes so far as to live in a huge mansion, with enough rooms for each of his personalities to live in.

Because of his unique ability (or psychosis), he has been studied by the medical community and has used his personalities to help those that can afford to hire him. When Balubal Razon, the inventor of a camera of unique and potentially devastating consequences, goes missing, Stephen is hired to help find him. This search takes him on an adventure around the world, and the result of his search proved to be one that I expected, but didn't see coming the way it did.

What was amazing was the questions that Sanderson brings up in such a short work: questions of history, time, morality, politics, and faith. This is an ingenious little piece of writing and a character that I hope Sanderson will work with again in the future.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

 photo 0385743564.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsbztmr80e.jpgSteelheart
by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Delacorte Press, September 24, 2013
400 Pages • ISBN 978-0385743563 • Hardcover

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Book description:
Brandon Sanderson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Words of Radiance, coauthor of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, and creator of the internationally bestselling Mistborn trilogy, presents Steelheart, the first book in the Reckoners series, an action-packed thrill ride that will leave readers breathless.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary people extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

Epics are no friends of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man, you must crush his will.

Now, in what was once Chicago, an astonishingly powerful Epic named Steelheart has installed himself as emperor. Steelheart possesses the strength of ten men and can control the elements. It is said that no bullet can harm him, no sword can split his skin, and no fire can burn him. He is invincible. Nobody fights back... nobody but the Reckoners.

A shadowy group of ordinary humans, the Reckoners spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in.

When Steelheart came to Chicago, he killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David has been studying, and planning, and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He has seen Steelheart bleed.

And he wants revenge.


The kickoff to Sanderson's The Reckoners series finds us in Chicago during the early days of the emergence of Epics: Humans who have developed superpowers after the appearance of Calamity, a strange light in the sky. David is just a young boy when he sees his father murdered in front of him by Steelheart, possibly the strongest Epic alive and who appears to be invincible. But David knows differently, because David has seen Steelheart bleed. Now, all David wants is revenge against Steelheart for his father's death, so he sets out to join the Reckoners, a group of regular humans who live for only one thing: the death of all Epics.

This is a fairly fast paced story, not leaving a lot of time for the reader to catch their breath from one episode to the next. Sanderson is great at fleshing out his characters, and Steelheart is no exception. The reader is left with a very clear idea early on what motivates each of the characters. However, the overuse of David's bad metaphors throughout the entire book grew very tiresome, very quickly. I know that this is supposed to be written for a younger audience, but it really felt to me as if Sanderson were trying to dumb down the book a little by adding this "comedic" element to David, but at least for me, this did not work. At all. The first couple of times the quirk was amusing, but after it's drilled into you so damned much, it grows very old, very quickly.

I really enjoyed Sanderson's descriptions of Newcago (what's left of the city of Chicago) and how the people who still lived there got by in their day to day dealings, how they lived in a city that almost seems uninhabitable, how they live under the oppression of the Epics; then on the flip-side of that, how the Epics live and treat those under them. The entire class dynamic presented here was compelling.

Of course, when you get right down to it, this is a superhero action-adventure story, yet with the twist that the super-powered beings aren't actually the heroes. I thought this was a great story for Sanderson to tell, where there are no "super"-heroes to stand up to the super-powered, and taking the quote from Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," quite literally. How David and the Reckoners finally come to deal with Steelheart was a riveting scene, and while there was one important plot point that I had figured out early on, the finale still had me guessing, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume II by Ishbelle Bee


 photo 085766445X.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps7dfbw44w.jpgThe Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume II
by Ishbelle Bee
Published by Angry Robot Books, August 4, 2015
336 Pages • ISBN 978-0857664457 • Paperback
I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher thru NetGalley for an honest review.

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Book description:
The enchanting sequel to The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath.

Two orphans, Pedrock and Boo Boo, are sent to live in the sinister village of Darkwound. There they meet and befriend the magical and dangerous Mr Loveheart and his neighbour Professor Hummingbird, a recluse who collects rare butterflies. Little do they know that Professor Hummingbird has attracted the wrath of a demon named Mr Angel-Cakes.

One night, Mr Angel-Cakes visits Boo Boo and carves a butterfly onto her back. Boo Boo starts to metamorphose into a butterfly/human hybrid, and is kidnapped by Professor Hummingbird. When Mr Loveheart attempts to rescue her with the aid of Detective White and Constable Walnut, they are turned into butterflies.

Caught between Professor Hummingbird and the demon Angel-Cakes, Loveheart finds himself entangled in a web much wider and darker than he could have imagined, and a plot that leads him right to the Prime Minister and Queen Victoria herself...


Well, Ishbelle Bee has done it again. After my wonderful experience reading The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath (I can truly only describe reading it as an experience), I was anxious to see where Bee was going to take both her characters and us, the reader, and I am tickled by the result.

This time around, I feel like Ms Bee really let herself take off with the story; she has a much clearer idea of who the characters are that inhabit her world, and what a fine and madcap cast they are! Mr Loveheart is back this time, along with White & Walnut of Scotland Yard, and they are joined by a wild new group of characters: Pedrock and Boo Boo, orphans sent to live with their relatives in the village of Darkwound, where we also find Mr Loveheart and his various, colorful neighbors; Professor Hummingbird, a butterfly aficionado; and Mr Angel-Cakes, Boo Boo's mysterious, and possibly quite deadly, imaginary friend.

Ms Bee has injected an entirely fantastic level of humor into her story, reminding me of Gail Carriger's books. Here again, the lack of explanation, just the necessity to accept the magic in her world is expertly wielded, and something that I'm very happy to see carried over from the first book. Her use of typography to express some of the action is still present, as well, something I'm very happy to see. This is something that I think works so well in her books, and I hope she continues using it, should there be more books.

Needless to say Ishbelle Bee has completely won me over, and I can only hope that we have a great many more adventures with Mr Loveheart to look forward to!

I need to take a moment again to comment on the cover! Somebody at Angry Robot is doing a bang-up job on these covers and book design, and I desperately wish that as we are given more adventures with Mr Loveheart, we are also given more of these gorgeous covers. Beautiful marketing, Angry Robot! Keep up the good work.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Trees, Vol 1 by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard

 photo 1632152703.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps4xzmykex.jpgTrees, Vol 1
by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard
Published by Image Comics, February 24, 2015
160 Pages • ISBN 978-1632152701 • Paperback

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Book description:
Ten years after they landed. All over the world. And they did nothing, standing on the surface of the Earth like trees, exerting their silent pressure on the world, as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. Ten years since we learned that there is intelligent life in the universe, but that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive. Trees, a new science fiction graphic novel by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Red) and Jason Howard (Super Dinosaur, Astounding Wolf-Man) looks at a near-future world where life goes on in the shadows of the Trees: in China, where a young painter arrives in the "special cultural zone" of a city under a Tree; in Italy, where a young woman under the menacing protection of a fascist gang meets an old man who wants to teach her terrible skills; and in Svalbard, where a research team is discovering, by accident, that the Trees may not be dormant after all, and the awful threat they truly represent.

I really don't understand a single thing in this volume, as we, the reader, are dropped into what feels like the middle of a story that is already currently being told, but part of me likes that. Ten years ago, an alien race landed on Earth. The ships (or whatever they are), are huge and resemble trees that reach into the heavens. These Trees have been here so long now that they have become just a part of the landscape in many ways, and in others, they are a source of great intrigue or discontent. No one knows a thing about them. And by the end of this first volume, that doesn't really change.

While on the surface this should be an alien invasion story, it really is more about the people of Earth and how their lives have changed because of the Trees, specifically the three main protagonists: a young Chinese boy who is trying to find his way in the world; a young Italian woman who finds herself at a crossroads with the local mafia; and a scientist who desperately wants the ten years he's been studying the Trees to actually mean something. These three stories never intertwine, but they are all equally fascinating. Ellis truly gets to the heart of each character, and while that may not always be a good heart, it's there.

Jason Howard's art fits the story well; having not experienced his art before, I don't have a frame of reference for what his art can be like on other titles, but here it works, and works well. Between the engaging story and Howard's art, this is a title that I'll definitely be picking up in the future.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Deborah Harkness promotes her new book, The Book of Life



Deborah Harkness stopped by Nicola's Books tonight, to promote the paperback release of the third book in her All Souls Trilogy series, The Book of Life. She is wickedly brilliant and actually quite funny. She talked about the process of creating the series, using her knowledge as a historian to bring the characters to life, and answered audience questions before signing our books.  What a fantastic night!

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