Monthly Archives: December 2015

New Year’s Resolutions

Invested_Ivana 50Hey Nell, it’s almost New Year’s Eve. One Book Two is 10 months old! Have you made any New Year’s resolutions regarding the site this year?

Nervous_Nellie_50One of my resolutions is to keep more on task. I have a list, I need to follow it. No more hareing off to read a book that’s not on my list.

Invested_Ivana 50Ooh, that’s going to be hard! But I need to do that, too. Here’s my list of resolutions for the site:

1. Set aside time to read other blogs and Goodreads discussion groups. I want keep up with other blogs, but always struggle with that.

2. Remember that WordPress assumes one space between sentences, not two. I was trained for two spaces between sentences and it’s really hard to break that habit.

3. Do a better job of balancing direct review requests with NetGalley reviews and books I buy for myself. I’m not sure how to do this yet.

Nervous_Nellie_50You have some intense resolutions with #1 & #3. When you figure out the solution, let me know. Oh, and it can’t include quitting my day job. I still need to eat! Here are my resolutions:

1. Interact with like minded bloggers more often.
2. Continue to develop good relations with authors to help both author and blog.
3. Attempt to attend more author related events.

Invested_Ivana 50Oh, author-related events. That sounds fun! We have some of those planned, too. And you want to interact with more bloggers, as well. Nice. Got any ideas for fitting in a “real” job plus family stuff with reading requests, reading books you bought, reading blogs and discussions, answering emails, talking with authors, and going to author events? I think that’s where I’m struggling. 😉

Nervous_Nellie_50I wish I had a cure-all for all the things we do including ‘day job’ stuff. I have been working on my planner (you know that organizing is a sickness of mine) and trying to get reminders and notes all in one place.

A list of ‘want to’ reads is a goal of mine, but there are so many books that look good, I have a hard time choosing anyway. I need a list of emails to return, but I just use my inbox for that. I try to use an electronic calendar, but I just never look at it. OH, the problems! Woe is me!!

Invested_Ivana 50I know. I feel the same way. Guess we’ll just have to ask for more hours in the day, huh?

Nervous_Nell 50I think you’ll get that request granted about as quickly as you would asking for a clone.

Maybe I should cut down on the books I read? I’ve got 110 done for this year, but if I do 1/2 that, like say, 52 (one per week) then I’d have extra time? I know that’s easy to say, but do you suppose I could stick with that? I’d hate to give up my 100 per year goal, though.

Invested_Ivana 50Oh, wow. Yes, that would give us more time, but my goal has always been 100 books in a year. It would feel like slacking if I didn’t make that, and I’d fall even farther behind than I am now! Maybe a better goal would be to reduce the amount of books we buy next year? Since we could keep completely busy with just request.

Nervous_Nellie_50I have reduced the amount of books I’ve bought. You should be very proud of me – I’ve so totally stepped outside my box, I don’t even see the cardboard sides anymore!! I’ve been nearly exclusively reading request for review books for the past few months, and to tell you the truth, I would have missed some darn good books if I hadn’t!!

Invested_Ivana 50That is so awesome! Good for you! I agree, we’ve found some awesome books through requests this year! I don’t think I’ve reduced the amount of books I’ve purchased, though. <blushes>. There are just too many good ones!

I know. Maybe I’ll have to alternate between books we’ve received via requests and books I’ve bought. One request, one purchase, and so on. That way I should be able to get through 50 or so of each? Plus the audiobooks I usually have going on the side. Think that would work?

Nervous_Nellie_50If you buy me a secretary, it might. My instincts rebel against structure.

Invested_Ivana 50<sigh> Well, then, here’s to struggling through another year. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

MythOS by Kelly McCullough

Ravirn honestly can’t catch a break.

mythosTitle: MythOS
Author: Kelly McCullough
Series: Webmage Book 04
Publish Date: March 31st 2009
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: In the 21st century, magic has advanced with the times and gone digital. But when Ravirn-a computer savvy sorcerer-is thrown into a parallel world where magic runs on a different operating system, he’ll need mad skills to get out alive.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

While repairing Necessity – the world’s supercomputer – he’s thrown into a parallel world. One where Greek gods don’t exist – and the Norse pantheon does. Now his cybermagic doesn’t work, he’s got new enemies to deal with, and he’s running out of time to fix Necessity before it’s too late. Small spoilers head.

Weirdest ending ever. It was a little too fast and abrupt and left so many questions unanswered. Like…when and why did Tisiphone decide she needed to stay in the Norse MythOS? I know she’d enjoyed some parts of it but her will to go home seemed higher up on the list than kicking back and enjoying herself.

There were some things that confused me about this book. The shrinking spells at the beginning when they met up with Ahllan after getting shipped off to the Norse MythOS (which is not explained, how or why) really got me because that whole scene was very rushed and a little off. And of course, quantum descriptions and code still confuses me since I’m not exactly the computer type.

But everything else…man, I wish I had McCullough’s brain. His blending of magic, Greek myths, and technology is just so amazing. I love Ravirn’s “I’m not a hero” personality and that he just does things out of whim without thinking about the consequences.

All the Norse big guys are out to play in this. I loved the fight scenes with Laginn and Tyr and Heimdall. I also love love love Fenrir. And on the Greek side of things, I like that Tisiphone is finally showing truer, more forgiving, more HUMAN character traits and that her decision to stay in the Norse pantheon gives her a weakness in that tough shell. Sad to see a character go, though glad she’s somewhat still part of the Norse world in her own way.

badge4v4A shiny four for the usual awesome world building, hilarious dialogue, and great characters.

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

…certainly check out the rest of the Webmage series. You might also try works by J. F. Lewis, Christopher Stasheff, or John Levitt.

Broken by Traci L. Slatton

This is a fantastic book of love and light. The tagline “power is pornographic” is very misleading for this novel. So if you are picking up this book expecting a dominatrix angel or some S&M (if you are into that thing), think again.

BrokenTitle:  Broken
Author:  Traci L. Slatton
Publish Date:  September 5, 2014
Genre:  Fantasy/Speculative Fiction
Source: Word Slinger Publicity

Publisher’s Description: Power is pornographic.

Can love sustain light when the forces of evil close in?

Paris, 1939-1942. A fallen angel is trapped in the web of German occupation. The deadly noose of Nazi control grows ever tighter, ensnaring her and two of her lovers, a bullfighter and a musician working in the fledgling Resistance. Can she save them and the Jewish widow and her child that she has come to love, or will betrayal take them all?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Traci Slatton does a fantastic job of recreating Paris 1939 – 1942 with the fear and torture of occupied France. But the real stars of Broken are the characters: Alia – a fallen angel grieving after the loss of her child, Pedro – a Spanish Jew who becomes part of the resistance and Alia’s lover,  Josef – A Jewish musician who is also part of the resistance and Alia’s lover as well, and Suzanne and Cecile – a  Jewish widowed mother and daughter who live next door to Alia.

All of these characters come to life on the page but particularly Alia. She is the one who suffers the most in this novel all for the sake of saving the young widow and her daughter whom she has come to love in her years on Earth. Alia, after the loss of her daughter Ariel falls to Earth specifically during the time when the world is about to suffer because she wants to suffer herself and drowns her sorrows in the bedroom.

The love she feels for the young child and mother that are her neighbors causes her more suffering but this is a suffering she gladly goes through to keep them safe. She performs sexual favors for a high ranking German soldier in order to keep the little family under the radar as long as possible.  She turns in Pedro, knowing he will most likely die, in order to keep the small family from grieving the loss of Josef. In the end she even sacrifices herself in order to not only save them but also to redeem herself. I cannot even begin to describe the beautiful way this book is written and the deeper meanings held within its pages.

badge5v4To be honest there was nothing about this book that I didn’t like. It flows beautifully and it is one of those books that stays with you even after you are done reading it. For this reason I give this book five stars! I will reread this book more than once and recommend it to all my friends and, readers; I highly recommend it to you too.

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

There are countless books about angels out there as well as many on the Holocaust and the dealings of this dark time in history. Readers, first I am going to recommend to you a book that is near and dear to my heart. I picked up The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender after a trip though the Holocaust museum in D.C. and it is also a book that will stay with you much like Broken though it is more of a YA novel than Slatton’s book. There are several references to Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Broken so I also suggest that. If non-fiction is your thing and you would like to learn more about the females that helped with the resistance in Paris I would suggest A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead.

A Fantasy Medley 3 by Yanni Kunzia (ed.)

Kunzia’s third collection of fantasy novellas, published by Subterranean Press, is just as beautiful as the first two.  These collections are well worth picking up.

Fantasy Medley 3Title:  A Fantasy Medley 3
Author:  Yanni Kunzia (ed.)
Publish Date:  December 31, 2015
Genre:  Fantasy
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s Description: In “Goddess at the Crossroads,” Kevin Hearne shares a thrillingly memorable episode from the past of his popular Iron Druid Chronicles hero Atticus O’Sullivan, revealing how one night’s dark encounter with the cult of Hecate served as inspiration for Shakespeare’s witches in the Scottish play.

With “Ashes,” Laura Bickle revisits Detroit arson investigator and powerful spirit medium Anya Kalinczyk as she, her five-foot-long salamander familiar Sparky, and Hades’ Charon pursue a destructive fire elemental named the Nain Rouge through the city’s festival in his dubious honor.

“The Death of Aiguillon” finds Aliette de Bodard exploring an episode sixty years prior to the start of her latest novel, The House of Shattered Wings, in which the survivors of an ongoing magical conflict in Paris eke out a grim existence, and one woman’s wish for a better life is granted at a terrible price.

And in “One Hundred Ablutions,” Jacqueline Carey, author of the much-beloved Kushiel’s Legacy series, tells the tale of Dala—a young woman chosen by her people’s overlords to be an exalted slave among slaves—and of the twining in her life of ritual, rebellion, and redemption.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

A Fantasy Medley 3 contains two urban fantasy novellas and two fantasy novellas.  I’m familiar with the worlds in which the two urban fantasy novellas are written: Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles and Laura Bickle’s Anya Kalinczyk series.

Kevin Hearne gives us a tale from Atticus’s past, an adventure he had with William Shakespeare, his favorite bard.  This novella is a fun read and adds just a little flavor to Atticus’s past.  Having lived for 2000 years, I’m sure Atticus has many, many fun tales to share.

I was very excited to read the Anya Kalinczyk story, since we haven’t seen an Anya story since 2010.  “Ashes” takes Anya’s story in a wildly different direction than I was expecting, which makes me wonder if there aren’t some thoughts about new novels in the author’s mind.  I hope so!

I have not read any books by Aliette de Bodard or Jacqueline Carey, but after reading the two stories in this collection, I have added them both to my TBR list.

“The Death of Aiguillon” byAliette de Bodard is a lovely tale about the choice humans make between security and freedom, an appropriate topic in today’s world.  “One Hundred Ablutions” by Jacqueline Carey is also about freedom and the cost that is paid to win freedom from oppressors.  “One Hundred Ablutions” is a beautiful and self-contained tale and really piqued my interest in reading more from Jacqueline Carey.

badge4v4My only complaint is that A Fantasy Medley 3 and its predecessors are not available in ebook format. The print books are beautiful collector’s editions, and I appreciate that; but in my house, storage space is at a premium, which is why I prefer buying ebooks over print books, even beautiful ones.

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

…you might try A Fantasy Medley 1 and 2, or books by any of the authors whose stories you enjoyed.

Hexed by Kevin Hearne

As part of the Iron Druid read-along, Kat is adding her review of Hounded to Percy’s 2015 review.

You shall not suffer a witch to live. Well, unless they aren’t so bad. Or you want to make peace with them. Or. Wait, let me start over. Witches that try to kill you, well, you should try and kill them first. Welcome to Hexed.

HexedTitle:  Hexed
Author:  Kevin Hearne
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book 02
Publish Date:  January 1, 2011
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description:  Atticus Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat Mandu says…

Hexed picks up right where Hounded left off: with Atticus due to sign a non-aggression treaty with the local Polish witch coven and its leader, Malina. The coven is taking fire from a wicked German coven who have Bacchants as allies, so they’re requesting aid from Atticus. All in all, these baddies lead our not-so-humble Druid badass into a lot of bloody battles.

I really enjoyed the fight scene with Coyote and Atticus while they were taking down the fallen angel. Lots of chaos that was written well. Probably my favorite scene in the whole book.

Sadly, I think I’m enjoying the story more than the characters. Atticus is too complicated for me. Over two thousand or more years old has given him a lot of knowledge of magic and history. But it does nothing for his social life beyond him knowing how to blend in as a human and with other creatures of the supernatural world. I feel like he’s incredibly naive despite his age. It’s weird to explain. He’s trying to protect his friends but he’s also always leading them into situations where it’s necessary for him to protect them in the first place. Plus, he may have friends in high places, but I feel like he takes advantage of their friendship a lot.

I mean, even Hal, his lawyer, doesn’t want his werewolf pack entangled in his messes because he involved them in the first place. Maybe it’s his character flaw? I’m not sure, but I’m not a fan of him so far – though, I’ll admit I do enjoy the perviness Atticus exudes. Poor guy is definitely not afraid to get naked.

Overall, I enjoyed the storyline involving the Auroras coven versus the Hexen. However, I’m not sure where the whole Kabbal/Hammers of God is going. I’ve read the back cover of Hammered enough to know they’re featured in the next book, but I didn’t quite understand what they were doing in this one beyond being introduced. It felt out of place amidst all the excitement. It wasn’t a bad story, just seemed off-putting at times, especially when the Rabbi is suddenly in the middle of the ending battle.

For that, this gets four stars.

Also, I love Oberon.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

What I didn’t like: I can’t think of a darn thing I didn’t like.

What I liked: The whole book. I have read many books that ramble and it feels like filler. With this book, the next thing I knew, I was at the eighty percent done point! I enjoyed watching Atticus and the coven interact. I still enjoy his relationship with his dog, Oberon. Again, a good book about someone who has been around for a long time and seen tricks, even if he can’t always counter them. The history of the many different groups involved was fascinating, gave me the information I need, but left me wanting more.

What I’m really happy about, though, is that the book isn’t based on flashbacks. The main character is two millennia old and the author could easily use flashbacks to relate this to something else. For me, having seen it a lot on TV shows and books over the past two decades, it’s now an overused trope. So the one flashback that happens, is completely relevant, told well, and doesn’t detract from what is currently happening.

badge5v4I stayed up late to finish the book when I saw I was over eighty percent done. And I’m ready to read the next one!

This is a strong five book in an already good series.

Stand Out Award Badge2Our reviews in this series…

Percy reviewed the first book in this series, Hounded.

Ivana has reviewed the audio versions of later books in this series:

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

Besides the normal urban fantasy types, I think anyone who likes the White Wolf RPG Scion would be interested in this book. A lot of themes, although certainly not exactly the same, are here and it would be a good example of how to do that style of game.

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