Currently reading

Steal the Sky: The Scorched Continent Book One
Megan E O'Keefe
Horizon (Bone Universe)
Fran Wilde
Anger Is a Gift
Mark Oshiro

Frost Burned

Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I think it was one of the weaker entries in the series so far. It felt kind of directionless and meandering, starting with one crisis only to have that be resolved by the midpoint of the book and mutate into a completely different crisis, neither of which had the compelling feeling of danger I would have expected.

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith This is a book that's probably not for everyone, but I enjoyed it a lot once I started getting into it, and couldn't put it down by the 2/3 mark.

The Shambling Guide to New York City

The Shambling Guide to New York City - Mur Lafferty More like 3.5 stars. I enjoyed this one a lot. Fun and creative world-building, and a nice new spin on some of the old paranormal and supernatural tropes.

I would have given this four stars outright if not for the very unnecessary bondage club scene, including some semi-non-consentual sexytimes between Zoe and the incubus she works with, John. This really did little to advance the plot or the characterization, aside from Zoe becoming more uncomfortable around John and learning more about succubi and incubi, which could have been handled in a better way, I think. The questionable consent sent it into icky territory for me. Still, I enjoyed the book a lot outside of this one scene.

Of Dice and Men

Of Dice and Men - Cameron McNary I was lucky enough to be one of those people crammed into that crowded panel room at PAX 2010 to see the world premiere of this play. To my knowledge it was the first ever world premiere of a play at a fan convention. We waited in line for a couple of hours just to get in, and there were enough people turned away at the door to fill the room a second time. And it really was something to be part of that experience. The energy in the room was amazing. Everyone was laughing at the jokes. I know I cried at the end, and looking around me I knew I wasn't the only one.

I decided to re-read this play today to see if it held up outside of the frenetic energy of the live performance, and I'm pleased to say I'm currently wiping tears from my eyes again. What really makes this story so great is that it's not a pop-culture-fest full of stereotypes to cash in on the current popularity of geek culture; nor is it something only for those in the 'secret club' of geekdom. I personally have only played a handful of tabletop games, mostly 'newbie' sessions at gaming cons, just enough to understand the game basics, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything.

While it is about the game and the D&D characters, the main focus is on relationships, both in and out of the game. The playwright also goes to great pains to emphasize that these characters are not supposed to be played up as caricatures or stereotypes of the basement-dwelling gamer geek. The characters are real people, dealing with issues such as loss, love, growing up and moving on. At its heart, this is a universal story of a group of young adults whose social circle just happens to be a D&D gaming group.

I'd love to see more local theatre troupes pick this one up.

The Iron Duke

The Iron Duke - Meljean Brook I loved the world-building, the supporting characters, and the heroine, Mina. This would have been a four-star from me if the hero, Rhys, the titular Iron Duke, wasn't so unlikable in such a big, stalkery way. I hated him so much I wanted to reach into the book and punch him.

Seriously, though... later in the book it's implied that he apparently had been sold into sexual slavery as child, but knowing that... while I'm sure that messed up him and his views about sex, it does not excuse him for being, pardon my language, a rapey asshole to Mina previously. I feel like he should have been more aware of what he was doing to Mina because of his own experiences.

Anyway, I hear the other books in the series feature less jerks, so I will probably give the author another shot.

The Well of Ascension

The Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson, Michael Kramer We've been listening to this in the car. Not as good as the first one, IMO, but still very enjoyable. The siege plot felt like a lot of stalling so the author could cram in all the build-up for Vin's story. I admit, I thought the random word changes in the research were bad editing at first and got me grumpy. Never more happy to be proven wrong.

Also, WTF Marsh. I love you! Stop doing bad things. :(


Angelfall - Susan Ee This book was at it's best when the author was spinning out her angel mythology. One of the things she did absolutely right was the world-building. She doesn't over explain; she just drops the reader into the middle of the world and leaves you to catch up. It's a great effect which makes the world feel more real. There's still some exposition of course, but it neatly dodges most of the giant blocks of exposition monologue you often see in first-person fantasy fiction.

That said, heroine Penryn is a little too good to be true at times, and has lots of convenient skills right when she needs them. Her mother pops in and out of the story when it's convenient also. The weakest parts of the book for me were the 'tender moments', trying to setup for Penryn's inevitable romance with Raffe. It felt more like a teenage girl crushing on a much older man who isn't interested, and she is reading too much into his gestures.

I think this series has a lot of potential to become more interesting. I just wish it wasn't so obvious the author was heading for the Penryn/Raffe romance.

Vader's Little Princess

Vader's Little Princess - Jeffrey Brown Another adorable entry in the series

The Giver

The Giver  - Lois Lowry I loved it up until the WTF ending.

The Unwritten Volume 2: Inside Man

The Unwritten Volume 2: Inside Man - Peter Gross, Mike Carey This second volume improves vastly on the first, enough to keep me reading. Things are still mysterious but we start getting a better sense of what's going on, and also some interesting new characters.

Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited

Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited - Aldous Huxley, Christopher Hitchens Skipped the essay collection because I honestly was not that interested.

The Unwritten, Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

The Unwritten, Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity - Yuko Shimizu, Peter Gross, Mike Carey, Bill Willingham Interesting enough that I'd keep reading to see where it goes. The best part for me was the extra chapter about Kipling, Wilde & Clemens though.

The Silver Metal Lover

The Silver Metal Lover - Tanith Lee This is one of those books that I read and enjoy as an adult but wish I had discovered as a teen. This would have had a tremendous impact on my teenaged self.

Almost as much as a romance, this is a story about Jane crafting an identity for herself. As a heroine, Jane is almost ridiculously passive in the beginning of the story. Her mother is overbearing and domineering. "She has a lot of opinions, which is restful, as that way I don't have to have many of my own." Her friends are all implied to be much stronger personalities than Jane, even the oft-mentioned but never-seen Chloe and Davideed. She is content to go with the flow, happy to let others take the lead.

That's what makes her sudden actions in the middle of the book so powerful, first going to the EM headquarters, and then selling her possessions to try and buy Silver back from Egyptia and Clovis. And oh, Clovis. First I hated him, but I grew to love him too, by the end of the book.

I almost cried reading the last chapter at work. Beautiful, not only what happens with the ouija board, but just... Jane has grown so much as a character from the beginning. She has a backbone now. I'm almost sad that we don't get to see what Demeta makes of the new Jane. Jain.

Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food

Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food - Susan Albers, Lilian Cheung Not just another diet book; more like the anti-diet book. In fact, this book would not approve of depriving yourself of the foods you love, because that can lead to binge-eating when your body and brain feel like they're not getting what they want. Instead, this book encourages you to listen to your body's cues. Enjoy your treats in smaller portions, using all five senses. Instead of cramming food into your mouth in a trance, stop to think about how it feels in your fingers, how it looks on the plate, how it smells, the sound your fork makes when you pierce it, and stop to savor the taste. That's what mindful eating is described as: existing in the moment when you are eating and being aware of your food.

This book has its roots in Buddhist teachings, mostly in the methods of observing your own reactions and thinking about yourself and how you are feeling. Dr. Albers first describes what mindfulness is, and outlines four pillars of mindfulness: mind, body, feelings, and thoughts. She then moves on to tips and exercises to help you to treat food in a more mindful manner. The tip chapters are small (bite-size, if you'll pardon a bad pun) and usually include some inspirational quotes, plausible real-life examples of behaviors she is discussing, plus one or two exercises. Exercises run the gamut from internalized mental activities to keeping a physical or digital food journal. At the end of the book are collections of tips and inspirational quotes. I felt like the book was skewed a little toward a female audience -- most of the examples involved women, and the tremendous body image issues that many women face are addressed -- but I could also see men finding some useful things here.

I found this book really eye-opening. It made me stop and think about how much and why I eat. I have a tendency to eat while doing other things and not focus on my meals. Or I will sit down in front of my computer with a bag of snacks intending to eat a handful while I play a game, then the next thing I know I will look down and find the bag empty. I often eat when I am bored, or just to have something to do. I never really had a name for my behavior before, but I am what would be categorized as a 'mindless overeater'. Just the act of naming the behavior has made me much more conscious of when I am doing it. I definitely think the techniques in the book to encourage more mindful behaviors are something I can put into everyday practice.

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire - Kerrelyn Sparks So bad it's hard to stop reading just to see where the train wreck will take you. The plot was ridiculous, the hero overly angsty, and the heroine was dumb as a stack of bricks. It gets one extra star because I liked some of the side characters, but not enough to read on in the series for their individual books.

Darth Vader and Son

Darth Vader and Son - Jeffrey Brown This was absolutely adorable.