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Saturday, November 24, 2012

2013 Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Bookmark to Blog and all images in this post originate from the challenge post.  Kim has chosen key words to go with each month of the year in 2013 and the challenge is to read a book that lines up with one of the keywords.  Here are the guidelines straight from her:

GUIDELINES

* The title you choose can be a variation on one of the key words. For example- your title could include the word 'snowing' or 'snowflake' even though the key word is 'snow.'

*Key words can be tweaked. For example- You could read "Cinder" or "Ashes" for the key word 'Fire' and that would be just fine. If the key word is 'family' then your title could include the word 'sister' or 'mother.'If the key word is 'food' then your title could include the word 'cake.'

I'm adding another dimension to this challenge for myself, which is that I'll be trying as best I can to read books that I already own, whether they be paper books or Kindle books or whatever. It's kind of ridiculous that I've accumulated so many books.  Don't we all have this problem though? Be honest now.

Anyway, I'll leave you to check out the sign up page for yourself to see the complete list of key words for each month, but I'll make my list here of books that I'll be reading and what keyword they fit with.

January: Fire
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

February: Animal
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Wolf Who Rules by Wen Spencer

March: Magic
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
Love's Magic by Traci Hall

April: Home
Elfhome by Wen Spencer

May: Shatter
The Shattered Dark by Sandy Williams

June: Sea
A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch (which means I'll have to read A Stranger in Mayfair as well :D)

July: Night
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

August: Clear
Throne of Glass by Sara Maas (hey glass is clear)

September: Space
Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair (space romance)- this one is a stretch, I know

October: Witch
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

November: Number
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

December: Throne
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

2013 Nerdy Non-Fiction Reading Challenge


This challenge is hosted by Bookmark to Blog and runs from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.  The rules are as follows:

Levels:

Geek: 4-6 books in at least 2-3 different categories
Dork: 7-10 books in at least 4-5 different categories
Dweeb: 11- 14 books in at least 6-7 different categories
Nerd: 15+ books in at least 8+ different categories

Categories:

* Health, Medicine, Fitness, Wellness
* History- US, World, European, etc
* Religion, Spirituality, Philosophy
* Technology, Engineering, Computers, etc
* Business, Finance, Management
* Sports, Adventure
* Food- Cookbooks, Cooks, Vegan Vegetarianism, etc
* Autobiography, Biography, Memoir
* Art, Photography, Architecture
* Music, Film, TV
* Self Improvement, Self Help, How To
* Home, Garden
* Science-Nature, Weather, Biology, Geology
* Anthropology, Archaeology
* Animals-Insects, Mammals, Dinosaurs, etc
* Family, Relationships, Parenting, Dating, Love
* Crime, Law
* Poetry, Theatre
* Politics, Government, Current Affairs
* Literary Criticism/Theory
* Cultural Studies
* Travel
* Crafts

*  It is not necessary to pick your categories ahead of time, but try not to read more than two books in each category so you can broaden your horizons.


I'll be participating at the Dweeb level (11-14 books) with my target being to read one nonfiction book per month.  I'm challenging myself to read specific books that have been languishing on my TBR pile for longer than I'd care to think about.  Those books are:

Packing for Mars: The Curious History of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through History's Best Bits
Maphead by Ken Jennings
Eating for Autism by Elizabeth Strickland
Autism's False Prophets by Paul A. Offit
Crochet!
Millionaire Teacher: Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam

I'm adding another level to my personal approach to the challenge- I have a ton of articles from my ABA classes waiting to be read, it's kind of sad.  I'm challenging myself to read at least two articles per month from my backlist of articles.

This should be fun!  I've been saying for a long time that I want to read more nonfiction for a long time and this challenge is the perfect way to go about it.  

Review: Impulse

Title: Impulse
Author: Moira Rogers
Page Count: 270 pages (digital)
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review sent by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Back Cover Summary:
Her submission can heal him. His dominance can free her.

Southern Arcana, Book 5

Sera Sinclaire is a New Orleans rarity: a submissive coyote trapped in a town overrun by dominant shapeshifters. Worse, she lacks the willpower to deny the alphas-in-shining-armor who need her soothing presence, even when their protectiveness threatens to crush her hard-won self-reliance.

The only shifter she doesn’t want to push away is Julio Mendoza, a wolf so dominant he’s earned a place on the Southeast council.

Julio doesn’t have the luxury of indulging in the vacation his psychic shrink insists he needs. He can't turn his back on responsibilities he’s beginning to wish he’d never shouldered. When an obsessive ex endangers Sera, though, instinct drives him to get her out of town. Watching her come to life outside the city makes him feel like he's finally done something right, and her touch ignites desire he doesn’t want to ignore.

But soon, lighthearted flirting becomes a dangerous game of seduction, where every day spent falling into each other is another day avoiding the truth. Sera's ex isn't the only one who’d disapprove of their relationship. There are wolves who would kill to get Sera out of Julio's life—starting with his own blood kin.

Product Warnings
Contains endless summer road trips, family drama, redneck werewolves, sexual power games and a taboo love affair between a submissive coyote who’s among the last of her kind and a dominant wolf who loves his heroine’s ass. Literally.
*****

Well! This was an anticipated book for me since I'm a big fan of this series.  The events leading up to those included here are broad, so I don't recommend picking up the series here just because I wouldn't want you to miss out!  Instead, I would start with the first book (Crux) and enjoying the whole journey from page one.

Anyway, this is Julio and Sera's story, and it's a spicy one, with plenty of getting over old issues and moving forward into the future and all the good stuff that makes for a satisfying story.  Sera is dealing with a creepy, abusive ex-husband and the issues with finding her own way as an individual when she's never really been an individual before; Julio is recovering from a traumatic injury and trying to feel his way around being a Council member and all the responsibilities that go with it.  By all accounts, neither is really ready or looking for a relationship, but this is Romanceland, which means a relationship is exactly what they find.

Sera and Julio are perfect for each other, but unfortunately for them a lot of other people don't see it that way.  It's hard to get too detailed without spoiling previous books in the series but suffice it to say that if there was ever any confusion about Julio's extended family being full of prejudiced morons, that confusion is thoroughly resolved here.

My favorite part of this story was definitely the road trip- by not having anyone else to talk to or any other distractions, both Sera and Julio have to confront their issues and decide if dealing with the obstacles and headaches that would be their lives together are worth the gains.  Julio also gets to see firsthand that the Council has really not been leading in an efficient way and that there are a lot of marginalized people who need to be represented and supported.  Winning the challenge to become a councilor was only the beginning, and Julio really didn't understand that until mid-road trip.

Like I said, I wouldn't start this series here, because way too much has happened in the previous books that's important to enjoying this one.  That's not a bad thing, just something to be aware of, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Overall Rating:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! Oh, and Hello Again!

Well! After another unexpected work/school/life related hiatus, it's now Thanksgiving break!  I'm not traveling and so am looking forward to spending now until Monday morning wearing various pairs of yoga pants and eating as much as possible. Somewhere after the food coma and before I finally get around to catching up on classwork (oops) I'm looking forward to reading/reviewing some as well.  Having time to do fun things is nice!

I've also started considering challenges for 2013! As usual, there's a ton of great choices, but as I'm looking to diversify my reading as well as revisit some old favorites in 2013, I'm sure I'll find a good starting place.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving, surrounded by friends, family, and some good books.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: Once Burned

Title: Once Burned
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Page Count: 346 pages
Publisher: Avon
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review obtained via my public library

Back Cover Summary:

She's a mortal with dark powers...

After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person's darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude...until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world's most infamous vampire...

He's the Prince of Night...

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don't call him Dracula. Vlad's ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.
*****

Of all the reviews posted here lately, this is the one where I disagree the most with others who've read the same book.  In general, it certainly seemed that lots of people loved Once Burned and Vlad as the hero of his own spinoff series.  Try as I might, I really didn't and i think at the end of it all it was the uneven power dynamic that finally tipped the scales for me.

Let me start off with the positives- Leila was a believable heroine given the raw material she had to work with.  She's a human, but she's aware that supernatural whatnots exist because she is one (she shocks people and sees their deepest shame, the result of an electrical accident earlier in life) so she doesn't fall into the trap of being unable to accept supernatural powers that belong to other people (as an aside, this is one of my biggest pet peeves in paranormal romance.)  She realizes that people will think she's a complete crackpot if they find out about her abilities or her perceptions so she keeps them under her hat as best as possible and tries to staff off radar.

Her cover is blown when some vampire flunkies kidnap her and she makes a telepathic connection with Vlad Tepes, a major player from the Night Huntress series and yes, he is THAT Vlad.  He's intrigued by Leila and rescues her from her captives.  He has to make sure she's not a spy and that she's telling the truth and all that, which means she has to come stay with him while he figures out why this latest bad guy wants to kill him.

This is where things start to go downhill, in my opinion.  Vlad is certainly an anti-hero, in that he's out for his own gain and lives by his own moral code, lopsided though it may be, and that's fine, but I feel like if it were anyone else (that is, not a pre-established sort of historical person) or he hadn't had some page time in the Night Huntress series where he seemed a little bit more vulnerable, for lack of a better word, he would have just come off as a controlling asshole.  Friends, anyone who impales your loved ones, regardless of the reasons, is not a nice person, and you should probably hold off for someone who's a little less murderous.

Then there's the issue that Leila doesn't really have any recourse against him- he's faster than her, stronger than her, has lived longer than her, has endless resources at his disposal whereas she has the clothes on her back, and even her powers, formidable as they are against every other character in the book, are worthless against him.  She's dependent on the fact that he's attracted to her for her safety and the safety of her family and loved ones, and even the moments when he does sweet things seem kind of odd in light of the fact that he's also so cold and calculating the rest of the time.  It veered out of romance territory and into creepy territory.

I'm not sure if some of these issues will be addressed in future books, since there are at least two more books planned that feature these two, but I certainly hope that they are.  I found the imbalance of power killed the romance for me even more than the "Leila is going to die and Vlad isn't" element, and admittedly that's usually a deal breaker in PNR for me too.

Overall Rating:

 
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