31 December 2011

2011 Reading Review

2011 was a really good reading year for me.

Kid in a candy store: It's been a year of discovery.
Amazing discovery. For one, I discovered Goodreads properly. Before this year, I think I had just about 1 autobuy author: Sharon Shinn. This has changed, and I am a coupla hundred dollars poorer for it.

It is the year I rediscovered my first love, fantasy, and found new facets of it that I have come to love almost as much as the ones I knew already: like Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Fantasy/Romance.

It is also the year I found two new favorite authors,  after picking up their books on a whim

Ilona Andrews
Nalini Singh

I love, love, love their work, the worlds they've created, and the characters they've made. And it is with Ilona Andrews I discovered just how much fun snark can be when done right. I learned to persevere. I borrowed On the Edge by Ilona Andrews. It took me a while to get into it. But I kept on...and ended up loving it. Same with Magic Bites. Now the Kate Daniels series has to be just about my favorite series of all time, I think. At least it's definitely in the top 5.

I didn't read any high/epic fantasy this year. I found one, and  I haven't found any/gotten around to reading it: George R.R. Martin and his  A Song of Ice and Fire

This year was also the year I learned not to judge a book by its cover. I'd noticed Nalini's books in the library several times before, but moved on because the covers were nothing to write home about. Well, I'd been doing that to another series I found in the YA/Science Fiction & Fantasy shelves. Patricia Briggs and her Mercedes Thompson series. The cover for Moon Called didn't impress me. AT ALL. I gave it a side-eye and passed it by every single time I was in that section. Every. Singe. Time. I relented when I saw how much some of my friends from goodreads loved Patty Briggs' writing. Now I also count myself among those who love Ms. Briggs and the characters she has created to absolute bits (Samuel!! :D).

I've discovered some riveting YA, with the best of the lot being Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers Series.

I discovered that I am very unlikely to read anymore books by Laurell K. Hamilton, and am almost ready to write off Allyson James and Courtney Milan.

And, best of all, I discovered my ignorance when it comes to great authors. So many authors, so many series to look forward to. So many other sub-genres to discover, and so many new (and old non-fave) genres to try. Here's to 2012!!

I hope you had as good a reading time as I did this past year.
Here's to an even better 2012!!

26 December 2011

Divining Without Seeds by Iruka N. Okeke

Divining Without SeedsDivining Without Seeds by Iruka N. Okeke
My rating: ★★

When I heard Dr. Okeke was publishing a book about the importance of microbiology and diagnostics in Africa, I knew I was going to buy it as soon as it came out. Well, I did buy it, and it's some of the best money I've spent all year.

In this book, Dr. Okeke outlines a very strong case for streamlining medical practice in Africa, and integrating it with diagnostic services, like it is in places with good and effective medical systems. She also spends time unpacking the myths about why diagnostic services are unnecessary/too expensive in Africa. She debunks very popular myths AND also proposes solutions.

What I love about this book is the simple and sure way it unravels the untruths surrounding why diagnostics are thought not to be a feasible part of medical practice in Africa. So easily, you "see the light" really quickly, LOL! That's why this book, to me, is so important. It provides a completely new paradigm, a new way of conceiving medical practice for a continent that is sorely, sorely in need of new paradigms when in comes to medical practice.

However, the reason this book gets four stars instead of five is that although it is geared towards laymen and professionals alike, the material makes for very, very heavy reading. It is a LOT of food for thought, wrapped up in quite a heavy technical package. Granted, the nature of the subject is very highly technical, but at times, my head felt like exploding, there was so much information.

Speaking of information - Dr. Okeke's bibliography is very, very extensive and takes up a good chunk of the book. If I find myself some time, I will go through her sources and look for some of the papers cited in there, it's so filled with useful information.

This is not a book for the fainthearted, it's not a book to keep to yourself, it's' not a book to read once only, it's not a book to read in one sitting, or even two or three or five. Each section bears very important food for thought. Even if one doesn't agree with everything in this book (and I do), it opens up a new avenue of debate about the direction of medical practice in Africa. And that perhaps, is the most important function/niche this book has filled.

I can't recommend this one enough.

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25 December 2011

Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews

Magic Gifts (Kate Daniels, #5.4)Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews
My rating: ★★★★

Ilona Andrews is beyond awesome! And getting a Kate and Curran story as a holiday gift knocked beyond awesome out of the park!!

Like all stories, this one is not without its flaws, but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially on Christmas day!

I love Kate, I love Curran, and I loved this novella.

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21 December 2011

Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Blade (Guild Hunter, #4)Guild Hunter #4
Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh
My rating: ★★

Okay. I bought this immediately it came out, but it's taken me so many months to read it.

I did like the story. Ms. Singh's storytelling works for me. It was moving in parts, but fell flat in others. Most of the characters, well all the ones that mattered in this tale, anyway, fell flat for me.

I have never been fond of Dmitri. After having read his story, I'm still not fond of him. I still think he's unnecessarily cruel, and something of a bully.

Honor didn't do anything for me, and I have no feelings toward her either way (you know, like, dislike, etc).

Sorrow didn't do anything for me either. Or Venom.

Not my favorite Guild Hunter story; not my favorite hero or heroine; not my favorite love story; not my favorite story, period.

Nevertheless, it is a good tale, an intriguing and rather unusual one, with some poignant moments.

Oh, and the cover is nothing to write home about either. 

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19 December 2011

If You Hear Her by Shiloh Walker

If You Hear Her (Ash Trilogy, #1)If You Hear Her by Shiloh Walker
My rating: ★★

My first Shiloh Walker, and it certainly won't be my last. I only realized that this wasn't a stand-alone novel after I'd begun reading it, and I was initially worried the whole suspense bit was going to be too thin to stretch over three books.

Well, it wasn't stretch out at all in this book.

I liked the story, and the mystery. Lena is a very unusual heroine in that she is blind, and it was fun to spend time with her. I liked Ezra too. And Law; and Hope; and Remy. Enough to look for the other books in this trilogy.

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17 December 2011

If I Die by Rachel Vincent

If I Die (Soul Screamers #5)Soul Screamers #5
If I Die by Rachel Vincent
My rating: ★★

This is not going to end well.

You have to hand it to Rachel Vincent. She can write fabulously. I ran the gamut of emotions reading this book - from exasperation, annoyance, anger, foreboding, anticipation, triumph, sadness, defeat, expectancy, to disappointment - and it has left me exhausted. So I can't NOT give this one five stars.

This is probably the best book in the series. The story was well-told and held my attention from beginning to end. I love how consistent the rules of Ms. Vincent's world are. No second chances. You die a second time, you die. And she didn't change that for Kaylee. I loved that

I have never been a fan of Nash - right from the very beginning, I thought him shallow, rude, arrogant, spoiled and selfish, egotistical, idiotic, hypocritical, horrible, unpleasant; I see nothing redeemable in him. He had never done anything without selfish intent. Even his reactions to Kaylee choosing Tod proved me right. There was one tiny moment where I felt sympathy for him, and then he had to make a string of bad decisions that just show how selfish, uncaring, and self-centered he is. I will NEVER be TEAM NASH or support anything he does because he is such a horrible character. But even he didn't deserve this, this...triangle. Having your girlfriend break up with you because of your dead brother is just..incestuous and horrible. Ugh! I hate Nash!

Kaylee. In this book, she grew up. Finally. I guess news of your own very imminent death does that to a person. Rachel Vincent did a fantastic job of showing Kaylee's maturity here, and I was surprised to find myself rooting for her in this one.

Tod was a shining star in this one, the foil to his horrible brother. Of course he has his flaws, and his selfish motives, but he genuinely cares about his family and his friends, genuinely loves them, and genuinely wants to see them happy. Not perfect, but his heart is truly in the right place. Basically a decent human being and then some. But still, not like this. Tod! What were you thinking?!

Sabine is a witch with a capital B. Amoral. Just as horrible as Nash, and those two deserve each other.

Dammit Tod, Dammit Kaylee!!! This isn't going to end well.

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Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, #2)Alpha and Omega #2
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
My rating: ★★

Anna Latham Cornick mate of Charles Cornick, Omega of the Aspen Creek Pack. Wolf. Sister. Daughter. Lover. Beloved

Anna: You are a remarkable man Charles Cornick.
Charles: I know. And often underappreciated by those who don't know any better.

You know, on an aside, if Bran, Charles, and Samuel were real, I'd be so jealous of their mates.

I loved this one even more than Cry Wolf. Patricia Briggs' storytelling works wonderfully well for me. I love the gentle strength that characterizes Anna. and Charles. and Bran. and Samuel, come to think of it (Samuel has nothing to do with this book, but I can't talk of Charles and Bran without mentioning him, lol!) You don't see it often enough in any genre.

The whodunit worked very well for me. Sure, it was predictable, but the execution of it was rather unexpected, quite flawless, and done for maximum effect.

Loved it! Now I have to go pre-order Fair Game

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15 December 2011

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Iron Kissed (Mercedes Thompson, #3)Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
My rating: ★★★★

5 stars, with misgivings.

My thoughts
1. Patricia Briggs' storytelling alone deserves 5 stars. It is done with consummate skill. And discretion too. I had to go back and read the rape scene after the book ended because I completely glossed over it the first time, she'd written it so subtly. I loved the story, and couldn't give it any less than five stars, but there were a few issues, hence the 'with misgivings.'

2. Ms. Briggs has slowly been redeeming Ben across the books, and she did splendidly in this one. I love the idea of seeing, not an underdog, but a true villain be redeemed slowly over time :D

3. Mercy isn't usually this stupid, going about blurting stuff all over the place. I didn't see the need for her telling that lawyer everything. Especially since the lawyer didn't do jack. If I was one of the Gray Lords, I'd have killed her for that alone. Just putting that out there.

4. Again, Mercy has far more sense than just going to Tim's place alone, without letting Samuel or Adam or someone know where she was going to be. I mean, none of us knew just how unfortunate that decision would turn out to be, but still. I had thought her care and consideration for Adam would have at least afforded him the courtesy of her letting someone know where she'd be. Even she knew it was not a good thing to do going to his place and not letting anyone know. Before anyone shoots me, I am not blaming Mercy for anything. I just remember thinking the entire time that she was going to his house that it was a stupid and inconsiderate thing to do, even as she was thinking the same - with no knowledge of what was going to happen once she got there.

4. I am glad Ms. Briggs resolved the whole love triangle (quadrangle?) and I love the way she went about doing it. It was awesome.

5. I wanna know all these fae stories!!

6. I love Adam and think Mercy belongs with him, but for me, Samuel is the star of this show. He commands every scene he enters, and everyone else falls away from him. I love, love, love Samuel Cornick (Marrokson, lol) and Mercy's description of him as a healer cemented it for me. Love me some Samuel! Can't wait for his HEA - he HAS to get one!

7. Can't wait to delve into the next book in this fantabulous series.

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08 December 2011

2012 TBR challenge

This fabulous 'clean up your to-be-read pile' challenge is being hosted on this fabulous blog..... and of course I'm in!

I'll keep my list here and update as I go.

I am going for:

Married With Children: Read 41-50 books off my TBR pile. I'll only put books that I have reviewed here.  

23/50 read

1. Bone Crossed, by Patricia Briggs 2/01/12
2. Storm Front. by Jim Butcher 4/01/12
3. Love, Come to Me, by Lisa Kleypas 14/01/12
4. Silver Borne, by Patricia Briggs 16/01/12
5. Sirantha Jax, by Ann Aguirre 21/01/12
6. Blood Bound, by Rachel Vincent 25/01/12

1. Heartless, by Gail Carriger
2. Unholy Ghosts, by Stacia Kane 18/02/12
1. Dead Witch Walking, by Kim Harrison 1/03/12
2. The Mane Event, by Shelly Laurenston 3/03/12
3. At Grave's End, by Jeaniene Frost 9/03/12
4. A Lady's Lesson in Scandal, by Meredith Duran 12/03/12
5. Hexed (anthology), by Ilona Andrews, etc.  16/03/12


1. River Marked, by Patricia Briggs1/04/12
2. Secrets of a Summer Night, by Lisa Kleypas  10/04/12
3. Magic to the Bone, by Devon Monk 12/04/12
1. It Happened One Autumn, by Lisa Kleypas 5/5/12
2. Seduction of a Highland Lass, by Maya Banks 8/5/12
3. Never Love a Highlander, by Maya Banks 10/5/12
4. Untouched, by Anna Campbell 15/05/12

1.  Kitty and the Midnight Hour, by Carrie Vaughn 5/6/12
1. Some Girls Bite, by Chloe Neill 
2. Blaze of Memory, by Nalini Singh

07 December 2011

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

Blood Bound (Mercedes Thompson, #2)Mercedes Thompson #2
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
My rating: ★★★★

Patricia Briggs writes like Sharon Shinn: with a very quiet, understated elegance that engulfs you and immerses you in the story without you realizing it. Very subtly she manages to make you care about all her characters (well, all of the ones that matter, anyway) and make you invested in both the story and their HEA.

I will admit to being underwhelmed by MOON CALLED, but boy am I glad I continued. This was such a good book! The suspense and intrigue built up soooooo slowly, and ended in a roaring crescendo.

And her characters are some of the best in urban fantasy. Mercy is fantabulous; and so is Adam; and Samuel; and Bran; and Stefan: and Zee; and even Ben, yes even that annoying werewolf.

Besides, who doesn't love a good werewolf story? Exactly.

So if you are looking for well-fleshed out, interesting, and awesome characters, a great plot, and four especially hot werewolves (Bran, Charles, Samuel, and Adam) then this is your book. And of course, a fantabulous female lead.

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03 December 2011

Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews

Silver Shark (Kinsmen #2)Kinsmen #2
Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews
My rating: ★★

Silver Shark is a novella and the second in the Kinsmen novella series. If it is not too obvious by now, I love Ilona Andrews' work. It is always well thought out and even if I don't like a story, I can't dispute the quality of their output.

I am really happy to say I enjoyed Silver Shark very much. The reason I gave it four stars instead of five, is that like Silent Blade, the first Kinsmen novella, I did not particularly like the heroine. Even given her extenuating circumstances, I felt she did not act with honor at all times,and that the hero was a better/more honorable person. That's just my one pet peeve. Great novella!

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Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews

Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3)The Edge #3
Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews
My rating: ★★½


Hot Damn.

This was some pretty excellent reading, and made my day very well-spent.

Audrey and Kaldar are beyond awesome as characters - two skilled thieves trying to score one for the good guys. And as I've said elsewhere, if I wasn't too old, and if I lived in the world of The Edge, and if bigamy wasn't against the law, I'd marry them when they grew up. And if Gaston was human, him too. Yep, I want them all.

But I will say this. I defintely think FATE'S EDGE is the best of the Edge books, but ON THE EDGE REMAINS my favorite. (If you care to know, I didn't like Cerise and William's story). Fate's Edge felt a bit like theirs for me (Cerise and William, that is, not Rose and Declan's). The writing was perfect, and Kaldar and Audrey were perfect for each other. But they...didn't bring it. I don't know how to explain it, because I would be the first to say the story is excellent, the tension nearly gave me a heart attack, and I was giggling like an idiot during the moments of levity. It worked for me; it worked very well for me. But still.

The love. That was one of the factors that didn't "bring it." I mean, I felt the love, and I saw the love, but it just passed the screen. It didn't come out of the blue, but then it wasn't developed fully. Argh! This is too hard to put in words.

It's a great book. I loved it. I loved all the characters; I can't WAIT for the villains to get their comeuppance; Kaldar and Audrey are great; George and Jack and Gaston are excellent; Rose and Declan light up my life.

Highly recommended. What else can I do? It's an Ilona Andrews book. Of course it is excellent. It goes without saying.

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01 December 2011

Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

Bloodfever (Fever, #2)Fever #2
Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
My rating: ★★

Ha. Ok.

I still think that the writing is much tighter than KMM's highlander series, but the characters leave a mighty lot to be desired.

I can only conclude MacKayla Lane is Too Stupid To Live. If her sister Alina had been anything like her, it's no wonder she got herself killed. What surprises me is how Mac has managed to remain alive despite being inconceivably stupid. Obviously then it falls to reason that the people interested in killing her must be even stupider because there is no reason why she should still be alive. Stupid villains are not scary, and that immediately dilutes the dark and gritty aspects of this series for me.

Jericho Z. Barrons. Sure, I will admit, he's badass, dangerous, alpha-male - whatever you like to call those types of guys. But that is all there is to him. Nothing else. Absolutely nothing recommends him. There is nothing endearing about him, or lovable, or empathetic, or thrilling; nothing that humanizes him, or makes him worthy of hero status. On the contrary, I felt that he was rather abusive. I quite agree with those who have called him a douche.

Being trapped in a story told from Mac's POV, interspersed with Barrons and other idiotic/stupid/patently uninteresting characters does not make for interesting reading.

And oh yes, all the pontifications are annoying as heck. Womp.

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