COYER New Year’s Read-A-Thon

NewYearsRAT

I’m participating in the COYER New Year’s Read-a-thon! Anyone can participate, whether you’re a COYER participant or not. The Read-a-thon will run from 12 AM Thursday, January 1 2015 – 11:59 PM Sunday January 4 2015.

New Year’s Read-a-thon Rules

  1. All books must meet the COYER Price Guidelines (so Free/Nearly Free eBook or Audiobook)
  2. It’s a new year, so read an author, narrator, or series that’s new to you.
  3. Sign-up on the linky before 11:59 PM December 31st.
  4. Before 11:59 PM December 31st, post on your blog, twitter, FB, Google+, Booklikes (you get the idea… somewhere!) that you’re participating. That’s the link you’ll need for the Rafflecopter.
  5. Have Fun!

It’s not required, but my “goal” is to read Tommy Black and the Staff of Light by Jake Kerr and I’ll include a wrap-up in my “What I’m Reading Monday” post on Jan. 5th.  The great thing about this read-a-thon is that it ends the day before Bout of Books 12, which ends before the COYER Dusting off the Shelf Read-a-thon.  TWO WEEKS OF READ-A-THONS before I head back to school for the Spring semester! 🙂

Review: The Broken Sword

Broken

  • Author: Poul Anderson
  • ISBN: 9781497694224
  • Publisher: Open Road Media

The Broken Sword is High Fantasy at its highest.  It was originally published the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954), and the trilogy is what I immediately thought of as I began reading this classic.  For the most part, I enjoyed it.  It’s a good story with a good plot that is fairly paced.  However, I never cared about any of the characters, and for me there has to be at least one character I cheer for or one I despise so much that I love all the others in comparison.  Neither of those characters exist in this book.  Some of them were a bit more despicable than others, but all of them did horrible things while also having problems that made them not seem so horrible; except for the trolls who are just vile and disgusting.  If anything, the gods that are behind everything that occurs are the ones to despise, but they’re rarely mentioned and only one of them is seen “in person”.

As I said, the story itself is good.  It was good enough for me to finish the book despite not caring about the characters, and it was good enough for me to give it three stars.  If you are a true lover of classic High Fantasy this just might be the book for you.  If you’re not, check it out at the library.

What I’m Reading Monday #18

Currently Reading:  The Sunken by S.C. Green, a review book, and Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, for the read-along.

Sunken Ivanhoe

FinishedWe Are the Birds of the Coming Storm by Lola Lafon, which I reviewed on Friday, The End of Violet and Abby by Scott Silver, which I reviewed on Saturday, and The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson, which I’ll be reviewing on Tuesday.

Layout 1 Violet Broken

Winter 2014-2015 COYER Progress:  I’ve read 1 book towards my goal of 10, but in trying to get as much reading time in as possible and also celebrating Christmas, I haven’t kept up with my “social” goals.

Total pages read for the week: 873

Total number of books for the year: 64.  I got a lot more reading done than I thought I would.  I’ve made a lot of progress with getting caught up on my review books. I pushed one back to January, but with some luck and lots of reading time over the next couple of days, I shouldn’t have to push anymore back.  I’m also determined to finish 65 books this year, so I’m going to try to finish either The Sunken or Ivanhoe before the 1st.

What are you reading this week?

Ivanhoe Read-Along: Week 5 Recap

Ivanhoe

We’re heading into the final week of the Ivanhoe read-along!  This week, we read chapters 32 – 38, but if you’re a little behind, that’s OK!  I’ll mark any spoilers so you can come back after you’re caught up, and the previous weeks’ recaps are below:

Historians claim there is no evidence to support Sir Walter Scott’s portrayal of the enmity between the Saxons and Normans during the time in which the story takes place.  However, some experts suggest that Scott intended to show the parallels between the Norman conquest of England and Scotland’s union with England in 1707.

[SPOILERS]  Prince John finds out from de Bracy that King Richard has returned and Torquilstone has fallen. Bois-Guilbert takes Rebecca to a Templar Preceptory, where the precept is his friend Albert de Malvoisin.  However, Lucas de Beaumanoir, the Grand-Master of the Templars is also there and has been working to reform the preceptory. He believes that Rebecca has bewitched Bois-Guilbert’s into violating his Templar vows, and decides to put Rebecca on trial for witchcraft. She is found guilty, but claims the right to trial by combat. Bois-Guilbert, who had hoped to fight as her champion, is ordered by the Grand-Master to fight against Rebecca’s champion. Rebecca writes to her father, Isaac, to find a champion for her.  [SPOILERS]

I was right about who the Black Knight is!  This week slowed down a bit, and I got just a little bit bored.  I really don’t see how the few things that happened took over 60 pages to unfold.  I’m also wondering even more why the book was named for a character that we haven’t seen throughout most of the book.

How are you enjoying the book so far?  What are your thoughts on the story, characters, setting, etc?  Please mark any spoilers.

Review: The End of Violet and Abby

Violet

  • Author: Scott Silver
  • Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I rarely ever read YA Paranormal books, but when I received the review request and read the synopsis, I was intrigued enough to give it a chance.  I’m glad I did!  The End of Violet and Abby isn’t your typical YA Paranormal read.  There is a romance, but neither of the two involved are the paranormal characters, and it’s also more in the background rather than being front and center in the plot.  As the title suggests, the story centers on the friendship between Violet and Abby.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that it feels like a tribute to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.  There’s lots of witty banter and geeky references, and on top of dealing with a teen-turned-demon, there’s plenty of high school drama to handle too.  There’s even a veiled reference to the show in the form of a fictional show that Violet and Abby stop everything they’re doing to watch together once a week.  While the fictional show doesn’t have anything to do with vampires, it does involve a group of teenagers trying to save the world from evil creatures, and they even have a British librarian to help them in learning how to destroy the baddies.

This was a great fun break from my usual reads.  I finished it in about half a day, and even ordered pizza so I wouldn’t have to stop reading to cook.  I recommend this to anyone who loves YA Paranormal books for other reasons than the romance, or those looking for a witty, light bit of brain candy.

Review: We Are the Birds of the Coming Storm

Layout 1

  • Author: Lola Lafon
  • ISBN: 9780857421890
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Publisher: Seagull Books

I purchased this book, but I would like to thank the author for coming to the Central Texas Chapter AATF conference on Oct. 25th to speak with the attendees, and Dr. Moira DiMauro-Jackson for inviting me.  I wouldn’t have discovered Ms. Lafon’s book otherwise.

We Are the Birds of the Coming Storm is the English translation of the book from the original French.  I really wish my French was at a high enough level to read the original because I’m sure, as with all translations, something is always lost.  However, that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book in any way.  It’s still a 5 star book, and that is also despite the fact that I prefer Fantasy over any other genre.

My reasons for loving this book are many, but I will stick to my top couple of reasons.  First of all, this being Literary Fiction, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me think.  I had to take my time with the story, with several breaks to sort out my feelings and thoughts.  Even though the story takes place in France, it deals with many social and political issues that are relevant to current events in the United States.  It is primarily a Feminist book, but in addition to dealing with issues of rape and mental illness, it also brings up issues of political upheaval, riots, racism, and immigration.  I didn’t necessarily agree with everything, particularly the violent political action, but I was still able to relate to the characters and understand their reasoning.

My second reason for loving the story is that it doesn’t provide any answers.  This isn’t a book of pat solutions to all the social issues.  It’s not preachy or condescending, and it doesn’t contain a single moment of misandry, blaming, or explaining away the issues.  The story simply presents them as they appear in the characters’ lives.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves thought provoking literary fiction, or who is interested in or studying Women’s Studies or Feminism.  However, I do have to provide a trigger warning for victims of sexual assault since many of the narrator’s thoughts, memories, and emotions concerning rape often come up as flashbacks.

2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Falling For YA
Challenge:
  • Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31, 2015.
  • Any genre, release date, request date, length, etc. counts so long as it came from Edelweiss or Netgalley.
  • Falling For YA will have a round up post every month to link up reviews.

Levels (I’m going to try for Gold):

Bronze – 10 Books
Silver – 25 Books
Gold – 50 Books
Platinum – 75 Books
Diamond –  100 Books

Tuesday’s Tunes and Things #4: Christmas

I’ve been watching all my favorite holiday movies, and reading a couple of my favorite holiday books, while eating popcorn, drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows, and wearing my Hobbit Cardigan, favorite pajamas, and fuzzy socks.  The playlist below is the much shorter version of the Christmas music I love to have on in the background until I get sick of it and take it off my mp3 player until next year.

Christmas Playlist

What I’m Reading Monday #17

Currently Reading: The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson and We Are the Birds of the Coming Storm by Lola Lafon, both review books, and Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, for the read-along.

Broken Layout 1 Ivanhoe

FinishedVillette by Charlotte Brontë which I reviewed on Saturday, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, and Soldier of Blood and Fortune by Emma J.R. Hawk, the 2nd book in what was supposed to be a serial.  I was told by the publisher back when I agreed to review Justice in a Dead Land that each new part would be published every Monday (this is also stated on the book description on Amazon).  It’s been two months since Soldier of Blood and Fortune was published, so I’m a bit irritated at having wasted my money.

Total pages read for the week: 962

Total number of books for the year: 61 (I don’t count Soldier of Blood and Fortune as a book).  It feels so good to finish the books that I’ve struggled to finish for months!  I’m not quite caught up on my review books yet, so I may end up having to push one or two of them back to January, but I’m hoping to catch up after this week so that it only affects those books.

What are you reading this week?

Ivanhoe Read-Along: Week 4 Recap

Ivanhoe

Today ends week four of the Ivanhoe read-along.  We’ve read chapters 26 – 31, but if you’re a little behind, that’s OK!  I’ll mark any spoilers so you can come back after you’re caught up, and the previous weeks’ recaps are here and here and here.  Below is the chapter breakdown:

  • Mon. 24th Nov. – Sun. 30th Nov.: Chapters 1 – 7
  • Mon. 1st Dec. – Sun. 7th Dec.: Chapters 8 – 16
  • Mon. 8th Dec. – Sun. 14th Dec.: Chapters 17 – 25
  • Mon. 15th Dec. – Sun. 21st Dec.: Chapters 26 – 31
  • Mon. 22nd Dec. – Sun. 28th Dec.: Chapters 32 – 38
  • Mon. 29th Dec. – Sun. 4th Jan.: Chapters 39 – 44

An interesting little fact about Sir Walter Scott: He married Charlotte Genevieve Charpentier on Christmas Eve, 1797, after only 3 weeks of courtship.

[SPOILERS]  Not much happens in this week’s chapters, but at the same time, it feels like everything happens.  Locksley, his men, and the Black Knight storm the castle after Wamba switches places with Cedric.  Front-de-Boeuf is gravely injured by the Black Knight, and then dies in a fire that Ulrica, the daughter of Torquilstone, sets in a final act of revenge for her family being killed.  Ulrica dies as one of the castle turrets collapses, De Bracy surrenders and is taken prisoner, and the Templar runs off with Rebecca.  Athelstane attempts to save her, believing that she’s the lady Rowena, but he’s killed(?) by the Templar.  [SPOILERS]

Is it horrible that I like Ulrica?  I really like Ulrica.  I think I know who the Black Knight is, but I won’t say anything until I know for sure.  I’ve had my suspicions for quite a while now, so hopefully we’ll find out in the next few chapters.  I also think that, unless something goes ridiculously wrong with the story, I will be adding this book to my Through the Magic Door list.  With the exception of the Romantic era writing style, many of the story’s other elements remind me of The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  Action! Adventure! True Love!  Oh, and the following line that made me giggle:

“I am ready,” answered Athelstane, “to stand the worst of their malice, and shall walk to my death with as much composure as ever I did to my dinner.”

I just can’t read that line with a straight face, despite Athelstane saying it in all seriousness.

How are you enjoying the book so far?  What are your thoughts on the story, characters, setting, etc?  Please mark any spoilers.