Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book 40: On Her Majesty's Behalf

Title and Author: On Her Majesty's Behalf, by Joseph Nassise 

Expected Publication Date: December 2014
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Alternate history
Target Audience/Age Group: adult
Part of a Series? Yes
Will the Reviewer Keep It In His/Her Library? Yes
First line: Major Michael "Madman" Burke stood with his back to the sea and stared out into the semi-darkness, watching for movement.

It was a joy watching our daughter read this book as she was delighted with it. So delighted we bought the first book in the series, By the Blood of Heroes. The cover of that book is much cooler than the sequels, as you can see for yourselves. It makes it obvious why the series is called The Great Undead War.

 Given Europe is just starting the 100-year anniversary of World War One, it makes sense that the true story is finally coming out. Of all the books written about the Great War in this decade, this series is probably going to be the most fun. The main character is "Madman" Burke. The allies are loosing and the Red Baron is Germany's new leader. Only one member of the British royal family has survived, Queen Veronica, and she is nothing like Archie's girlfriend.

Once again a publisher's gamble paid off and we spent money to buy the first book. We'll probably buy the third if we don't get it free at Comic-Con 2015.

As a complete aside, one of us went to the most recent Orange County Register Insiders book fair and overheard one of the Register staffers say how hard it was to find a book for her nephew. All he's interested in is zombies and war gaming. Our member had just spotted On Her Majesty's Behalf and suggested it to the woman, who seemed delighted by it. Sharing a book is one of the greatest kindnesses one person can do for another.

Book 39: Outlander

Title and Author: Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

Illustrator: none
Publisher: Bantom Dell, an imprint of Random House
Published: 1991
Genre: fantasy
Target Audience/Age Group: adult women
Part of a Series? Yes
Will the Reviewer Keep It In His/Her Library? Maybe
First line: It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at leat at first glance.

At Comic-Con die hard book fans will get in a publisher's line without having any idea what they are going to get when they reach the booth. We were delighted to be handed this book because all of us loved the hot guys in kilts at the Outlander booth. Of course they were trying to drum up business for the Starz series, not the books, but we all knew Outlander book sales would increase if the series was any good.

Our older members had managed to evade reading Outlander and its sequels when they were selling like hot cakes. Our younger members hadn't heard of it until the series. One of the later volunteered to read it for the blog.

Her summary: It's a middle-aged woman's fantasy, complete with hot guy who only wants to make her happy. She skimmed large swatches of it because, as she said, Claire and Jaimie go all over Scotland having hot heavy sex everywhere they go. 

One of the older members said she'd rather have sex than read about it, and that killed the discussion.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Book 38: Hounded

Title and Author: Hounded, by Kevin Hearne

Illustrator: none
Publisher: Del Rey, an imprint of Random House
Published: 2011
Genre: fantasy
Target Audience/Age Group: adult
Part of a Series? Yes
Will the Reviewer Keep It In His/Her Library? Yes
First line: There are many perks to living for twenty-one centuries, and foremost among them is bearing witness to the rare birth of genius.

Another book accomplishes the publisher's purpose. I laughed so hard while reading Hounded that I bought the sequel before I'd finished it. Kevin Hearne creates as real a world as the one Kim Harrison created. Her books are set in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Iron Druid lives in Tempe, Arizona. The main characters in both books are people you'd like to know and have as a friend. You can see yourself living in their worlds.

Atticus Sullivan's world is inhabited by gods from every pantheon, including those whose worshipers are few. He has managed to survive the Roman purge of Druids and every other threat since his apprenticeship ended. That makes him more than 2000 years old. He apparently knows Jesus and his mother Mary. His lawyers are a werewolf-vampire team. He has a very intelligent Irish wolf hound and a wonderful little old Irish lady friend.

The Irish gods are blood thirsty and uninhibited. One of them has been trying to kill Atticus for centuries and this book chronicles the final showdown. There are witches, a whole coven of them, and a pack of werewolves. Even a pronunciation guide to help the reader read it out loud.

I couldn't wait to read the second book. I'm on the third now and enjoying every page. It is a really entertaining series and I was very disappointed to find our local library did not have any of them.

I can't wait to find out why everyone hates Thor.

Book 37: Black Lake

Title and Author: Black Lake, by Johanna Lake (ARC)

Illustrator: none (though there will be a map)
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, Hatchette Group
Expected Publication Date: May 2014
Genre: mystery
Target Audience/Age Group: adult
Part of a Series? No
Will the Reviewer Keep It In His/Her Library? No
First line: When they were little, the door to what was to have been the house's ballroom remained locked.

A woman chooses to hole up in the ballroom of her husband's huge family home in Ireland. Her young daughter chooses to go with her. The family's housekeeper brings them food on trays and from time to time the husband comes to the door. By the end of the book you understand why all this happened. By then this reader didn't care.

Why is the title and the picture on the cover run over the edges on either side? I think it's an optical illusion because my mind fills in the image on the sides, and my version extends a lot further than a real photo would. It's actually kind of a cool effect.

Book 36: Assassin's Apprentice

Title and Author: Assassin's Apprentice, by Robin Hobb

Illustrator: none
Publisher: Del Rey, an Imprint of Random House
Published: 1995
Genre: fantasy
Target Audience/Age Group: adult
Part of a Series? Yes
Will the Reviewer Keep It In His/Her Library? Yes
First line: A history of the Six Duchies is of necessity a history of its ruling family, the Farseers.

People standing in line at Comic-Con talk to each other. When you're standing in line for books  it's natural to talk about favorite authors. Robin Hobb was a name that came up frequently. I was excited to get both Assassin's Apprentice (Book One in the Farseer Trilogy) and an ARC of Fool's Assassin. 

I liked Assassin's Apprentice because it's a high fantasy novel with solid characters in an interesting world that's well-written. I didn't like the fact that it did nothing to resolve the main plot 'issue' of the kingdom but left it for the next 2 volumes. Still, pretty solid stuff.

The giveaway of Assassin's Apprentice  did the job the publisher hoped it would–sell Books 2 and 3. Then it's on to Fool's Assassin.

One of our members was thrilled that Robin Hobb signed her copy. It came with a little card with "JUST TELL THE STORY" on one side and this on the other side:
Robin Hobb
4621 N. 28th St.
Tacoma, WA 98407

On the contact page on her website she says she'd love to hear from her fans. "I really love hearing any feedback from my fans. It helps to know what kind of experience you've had being a reader or what you might like to hear or see in the future." There wasn't a link to an e-mail or a form, so it looks like you have to create an account and log-in to send her feedback through her site. If you want to meet her, you can find out where she's going to be on the site.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Book 35: Physics for Rock Stars

Title and Author: Physics for Rock Stars, by Christine McKinley

Illustrator: Mark Nerys
Publisher: A Perigree Book published by The Penguin Book
Published: June 2014
Genre: Non-Fiction
Target Audience/Age Group: Adults
Part of a Series? No
Will the Reviewer Keep It In His/Her Library? Yes
First line: Physics is the sexiest of the sciences.

Life is one big physics lab, according to Christine McKinley. She explains why in an entertaining way, from funny stories of her high school physics classes to examples from real life. I laughed out loud many times while reading this book.

Useful in everyday life things taught in the book are how to:

  • Float heavy objects by putting them in plastic bags and inflating those bags with air (page 139)
  • Survive in a submerged car by waiting until the pressure inside has equalized with the pressure outside (page 148)
  • Assure your opponent in a drinking game isn't cheating–blow across the top of the bottles. The sound will be the same if they have the same volume of liquid in them. (page 176)
  • Purify water with two bowls and plastic wrap (page 190)
  • Make fire with a 9-volt battery and steel wool (page 204)

One fun to do at a party thing she suggests for fun is comparing people to the elements on the periodic table–she's a noble gas. We had fun discussing which we are. I'm helium, always floating around.

The book is full of ways you can set up bets with your friends, then win them. You can make a lot of money with them. The quizes at the end of each chapter are also fun.

Our only gripe was the lack of free body diagrams. We think that would have helped explain the concept.

Book 34: Cloud Atlas

Title and Author: Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

Illustrator: none
Publisher: Random House
Published: (this edition) 2012
Genre: fantasy
Target Audience/Age Group: adult
Part of a Series? no
Will the Reviewer Keep It In His/Her Library? yes
First line: Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.

Isn't it nice to get a free copy of a classic. There's not much we can say that you can't read elsewhere. Read the book, don't watch the movie.

Stuck in it was a bookmark advertising David Mitchell's new book, The Bone Clocks, which went on sale September 2. We wish they'd passed out ARCs of it, but they didn't. We've put it on our To Read List, which we will start on when we've finished this project.

Book 33: Rain of the Ghosts

Title and Author: Rain of the Ghosts, by Greg Weisman

Illustrator: Rhys Davis
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: December 2013Genre: Fantasy
Target Audience/Age Group: Young adult
Part of a Series? Yes
Will the Reviewer Keep It In His/Her Library? No
First line: Rain could hear the drums as she raced past me.

This story is set in the Ghost Keys and the main character is a little girl. We were glad to see a map. If you've been following this blog, you know we love maps.

Our reader could not get past this sentence on page one: "She didn't notice my companion or myself, but every other downbeat, she'd look back over her shoulder." Where's the editor? This is a book vfor young adults. Get the grammar right!! You would not say "She didn't notice myself," you say "She didn't notice ME!!!"