January 14, 2012

Off The Shelf Challenge - 2012

The old year is done, and the new year is yet to come. 

2012 Off The Shelf Challenge is commenced!

I will be reading 15 already acquired books off my bookshelf, assuming they were acquired before January 1st. This year, to make things easier, I have a list of all the books I own that I haven't read yet. And no, I'm not going to post that list here. There are just too many of them to list. Sorry. 

To sum up: I am taking part in the 2012 Off The Shelf Challenge hosted by Bookish Ardour. I will be attempting the category: "Trying - 15 books".

Anyone with me?

Off The Shelf Challenge 2011 - Summary

Long ago, in a time far away, I signed up for the Off The Shelf Challenge at Bookish Ardour. I agreed to read 15 books from my TBR shelf, and then review them all here. If you have been paying attention, you will notice I have reviewed 9 books that were sitting on my book shelf at the beginning of 2011.

Well,  as most people can relate to this year, a bunch of craziness happened this year. I wasn't able to blog as often as I'd hoped, but I did manage to read as many books as I normally do. As such, I did read 15 books that were on my bookshelf at the beginning of 2011.

So without further ado, here are the 15 books:

Strange Brew, edited by PN Elrod
Red-Headed Stepchild, by Jaye Wells
The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor
Spider Bones, by Kathy Reichs
The Vampire Diaries, Volumes 1-5, by LJ Smith
Stray, by Rachel Vincent
The Dark Lady's Chosen, by Gail Z Martin
Dark Haven, by Gail Z Martin
Spellwright, by Blake Charlton
Wicked Lovely, by Melissa Marr
Ink Exchange, by Melissa Marr

And now, on to 2012!

November 29, 2011

Free Listening!!

So, now that everyone has had a chance to read my review of "The Alloy of Law", I'm sure that anyone who didn't already own the book immediately rushed out to buy it. Right? Right?

"But wait," some of you whine, "I only enjoy stories that are read to me by amazing narrators! I have no patience for those printed word thingies!"

Well, first of all, they're called books. And second of all, you are in luck, for I was recently informed that The Alloy of Law is also available in audiobook format from Macmillan Audio! Even better: It's read by the AMAZING* Michael Kramer!

If you would like a free sample, you can find it HERE, hosted by the publisher, who graciously offered to let me post this link for your listening pleasure.


*Totally unbiased opinion. No, really. The man rocks. He is the man who also read Mistborn and The Wheel of Time, among other things.

November 28, 2011


Mass Market Paperback, 835 pages
Published August 16th 2005 by Spectra (first published August 1st 1996)
ISBN 0553588486 (ISBN13: 9780553588484)
Edition Language: English
Source: Purchased

The Blurb (www.goodreads.com)

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective wall. To the south, the King's powers are failing, and his enemies are emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the King's new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but also the kingdom itself. A heroic fantasy of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and evildoers who come together in a time of grim omens.

The Song of Ice and Fire series has been around for awhile. Anything you want to know about the plot, or theories about the characters, or conspiracy theories about parentage, or even what dragons are good for, is available elsewhere. With Game of Thrones on HBO, and the release of the latest book, A Dance with Dragons, I really just wanted to read through the books and refresh my memory. So here are some of my thoughts and impressions on my second read through of this series.

By the end of Game of Thrones, I have some very strong opinions about a few characters. First, Catelyn. I don't like her. I know that mothers are supposed to protect their kids. It's that whole mother bear (or better in this case, wolf) mentality. But every single one of her decisions strikes me as wrong-headed and arrogant. She uses her position as the Lady Stark to get what she wants, from her flight to King's Landing, to the capture of Tyrion Lannister, to trying to take control of her son's army. And especially her treatment of Jon Snow. The kid is, what, 14? And she's still trying to convince her husband to turn him out? I try to get what she's about, but I just can't.

And I feel terribly for Jon Snow. His siblings love him (except for Sansa, who I hate), but his Catelyn treats him like trash and constantly berates him for his very existence. So he joins a legendary band of brothers charged with the protection of the realm, only to find out his legendary band of brothers are actually jerks, and no one likes them or takes them seriously. And The Imp is the one to break the news to him. Poor kid. He just can't seem to get a break.

Which brings me to the other children. The daughters, Arya and Sansa. I love Arya. She's got fire, and she's smart, even for a little kid. Sansa, on the other hand, is a simpering idiot. I can't stand her. She is supposed to be older and more mature than Arya, but her entire existence is consumed with daydreams of chivalrous knights and gallant princes and being a princess. Ugh! And then there's the boys. Theon, while not a Stark, is raised by Starks and is still no one I would want my kids hanging out with. Bran is a cute kid, and I feel for him, but he's not in the book enough to get attached. Robb, though. Robb, I like. He's young, but has honor, and wants to do the right thing. And I love the symbolism of the wolf pups.

I hate most of the Lannisters, but I love Tyrion. It's amazing how someone who is despised from birth can grow up having some sense of honor about him. He's manipulative and lascivious, and kind of a jerk, but I still like him.

Most of the story takes place in The Seven Kingdoms, except for the story of Dany, who is 13 years old. I know that back in the day, girls got married as soon as they were capable of getting pregnant. But I can't get passed the wig-factor of a guy who wants to marry a 13 year old girl. Ew. But Dany is at least interesting. Her brother is a crazy piece of crap that deserved his molten crown of gold (kudos to HBO on filming that scene, by the way), but she's cool.

And now, on to Clash of Kings!

November 27, 2011

Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Tor Books
ISBN 0765330423 (ISBN13: 9780765330420)
Edition Language: English
Source: Purchased

The Blurb (www.goodreads.com):

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn, who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

True fans of Brandon Sanderson have come to expect certain things in one of his books. You expect an interesting, original, and cohesive (if crazy) magic system. You expect non-traditional characters. And you expect a certain level of tongue-in-cheek humor. I'm here to tell you, that Alloy of Law did not disappoint.

To start with, we have the same magic systems found in the original Mistborn trilogy, allomancy and feruchemy. However, 300 years after the world ended and was remade, we no longer find true mistborn or feruchemists. No, the mistborn of yore have entered the religious pantheon, and no mention is made of feruchemists. Instead, we have people who either have one allomantic skill or one feruchemical skill, and in rare circumstances we have the Twinborn: those with one allomantic and one feruchemical skill together.

Which brings me to non-traditional characters. In Alloy of Law, the two main characters are Wax and Wayne. Oh yeah, there's that tongue-in-cheek humor, too. Wax is a 40-something sorta-broke lord. Who ran away as a kid to be a lawman. And then came back to be a lord. With no money. Wax, however, is overly observant, always tried to do the right thing, and is pretty smart besides, always good traits to have. His partner, Wayne, however, is also those things. He just hides it better. Because really, who wants to be known as the smart guy? Just gets you into trouble.

I can't remember the last time I read a fantasy novel where the main character was over the age of 25. In fact, it's hard to classify this book as a fantasy. I mean, if you really think about it, it's more like an old western, with gun fights, an evil villain and a damsel in distress. There just happens to be a few magical powers and some fun tech involved, steampunk style.

All in all, this was a very fun read. I can see why Brandon Sanderson says writing this book was his vacation. The book definitely doesn't take itself too seriously, and still manages to tell a really good story that keeps you hooked from start to finish.

My favorite part? Without spoiling too much, the line is Harmony saying "You're welcome."

November 26, 2011

Reading Meme - Day 15

Day 15 - Favorite Female Character

Like I said yesterday, picking a favorite is difficult. Fortunately, though, a favorite female character was easier to decide on than a favorite male character.

Alexia Tarabotti, from the Parasol Protectorate Series, by Gail Carriger.

I absolutely love her! She's smart in an age when educated women were feared. She knows her limitations and flaws, and she accepts them rather than fight against them. She has a sense of humor, and excellent fashion sense. She has crazy friends both with horrid taste in hats and amazing sense of flamboyance. And she carries a steampunk parasol capable of defending against even robot ladybugs. What's not to love?

November 25, 2011

Reading Meme - Day 14

Day 14 - Favorite Male Character

I went back and forth on this one. It took me a long time to come up with a decision, because as much as I read, my favorite tends to be who I'm reading at the time. However, at much deliberation, a decision was reached:

Harry Dresden, from The Dresden Files Series, by Jim Butcher.

You just have to love a guy with a White Knight Complex. Especially one that doesn't always quite "get it right". But he tries, and his heart is in the right place, and he does whatever it takes to keep those he cares about safe.

Plus, that hat-and-duster look is totally sexy mysterious.