The rest of the short reviews from 2015

I’ve finally finished all my reviews for 2015 with these last six shorts. Three of these are short stories, one is a book of short stories and the other two are novels. I have two science fiction, three fantasies and one contemporary fiction. These are very short snippets of reviews…lol. At least I have a post about them which makes me happy!

“Earth and Fire” & Earth 2788 by Janet Edwards

  • Earth and Fire” is a prequel novella. It’s a story about Jarra when she learns to fly a plane (takes place before the trilogy Ms. Edwards wrote). I enjoyed the glimpse into Jarra’s life before the books began. Grade: B
  • Earth 2788–Eight prequel short stories about some of the characters in the trilogy who come from the colony worlds. I really enjoyed reading about how these characters ended up in the class with Jarra. Grade: B

Chasing Christmas Past: An Airship Racing Chronicles Short Story” by Melanie Karsak

  • Another short story–this one very short (only 30 pages)–but I thought it was a fun story that gave me a flavor for what the series is about. I haven’t read anything else by this author, but this science fiction steampunk has fun characters in an interesting alternate world. Grade: B

Magic Stars” by Ilona Andrews

  • A short story set in the Kate Daniels world about Derek (a shifter wolf) and Julie (Curran and Kate’s ward) both of whom we’ve seen grow up while reading the Kate Daniels books. Both are very likable characters so it’s fun to read a story about them. I loved this! Since this is listed as Grey Wolf #1 (and Kate Daniels #8.5) I’m hoping there are more stories about Derek and as well as Julie. Grade: A-

Radiance by Grace Draven (Wraith Kings #1)

  • I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. It’s a fantasy romance and was a lot of fun to read. The characters are enjoyable and the story is good. I recommend it! Grade: B+

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.

  • This book made me cry. I have to admit I didn’t like it very well. I had trouble finishing it. I don’t like sad books. I can find enough to cry about in real life.
  • I listened to the audiobook and thought the narrator was great, but I thought the book was one sad scene after another. And I felt my emotions were manipulated some of the time. Grade: C+

Have you read any of these books? What’s your opinion?

2015 Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge
  • New Author Challenge
  • TBR Pile Challenge

The Leftovers–Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reviews

Another set of mini-reviews from books I read in 2015

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambersthe-long-way-to-a-small-angry-planet

  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet #1
  • Published 2014, 518 pages
  • Science Fiction (space opera)
  • Action-packed and fun, rollicking science fiction space opera.
  • I read this book as part of Sci-Fi Month 2015 and a read-along in November and even though the last part of November (Thanksgiving) kept me from participating in weeks 3 and 4 of the read-along I loved talking with others about this book. You can check out my week one and week two posts. However, if you plan to read the book watch out for spoilers!
  • Reminded me a little of the television series Firefly. The crew of the Wayfarer are all different–not only in looks, but also in their actions and interactions with each other. There are five humans, a sentient artificial intelligence and three other alien lifeforms on the ship. They work together as a crew, but some better than others…lol–for example, one of the humans doesn’t play well with anyone.
  • The Wayfayer is a space tunnelling ship creating black holes so ships can move to distant parts of the universe.
  • Also lots of action in the book as the Wayfarer travels in space to planets and space stations meeting many species.
  • Their ultimate goal is the small, angry planet to complete a tunnelling contract–and no one, but a few have ever seen it. The planet may be angry, but so are the species who claim it.

Grade: B+

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrewssweep-in-peace

  • Innkeeper Chronicles #2
  • Published 2015, 237 pages
  • Urban Fantasy set in Texas
  • I love just about anything written by Ilona Andrews!
  • This is a great series–fun to read. I love the whole innkeeper idea.
  • Dina DeMille is the innkeeper and needs more guests to help keep her inn viable. Every other inn has turned down the opportunity to host a peace summit between three warring species because it’s so dangerous and has so many ways it can go wrong.
  • She agrees to the summit because she doesn’t have any other options–and then she has to make it work. And that’s not so easy!
  • Dina and her Shih Tzu named Beast are fun characters. Beast isn’t what he seems and is quite scary even among the many galactic scary characters. Dina is a very capable innkeeper.
  • I didn’t like this book as much as the first book–Clean Sweep

Grade: B+

2015 Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog

Have you read either of these books? How’d you like them?

Mystery Reviews

Mystery-reviews

I have a few books I read in 2015, but didn’t get reviewed. I’ve decided to group them together in three or four posts. Mysteries come first!

A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondsona-man-of-some-repute-by elizabeth-edmondson

  • A Very English Mystery #1
  • Published 2015, 306 pages
  • Historical Mystery–England, 1953
  • I really enjoyed this mystery. I haven’t read too many books written in this time period.
  • Real events are the background for this historical mystery. Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess defected to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1951. They were both part of what later became known as the Cambridge Spy Ring because they were recruited in the 1930’s when they were at Cambridge. More people were ultimately accused as more evidence came to light. Kim Philby defected to the USSR in the early 1960’s. It still isn’t known (publicly at least) how many spies there might have been–but at least five.
  • The main character in this historical fiction mystery–intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth–wounded on a secret mission and now assigned to desk duty. His job is to read through personnel files and see if he finds anyone else besides Maclean and Burgess who might be Russian spies. He isn’t very happy with this assignment, but has little choice because of his injury.
  • He is the guardian of his teenage sister and together they are staying at a castle in the country near where he is working. The Earl who owns the castle disappeared one night during a snowstorm seven years earlier. Soon after Hugo arrives the Earl’s bones are found under the flagstones of the castle chapel. Hugo (and his sister) and the Earl’s niece begin investigating the case.
  • There’s a hint of romance and the characters are interesting. The mystery is well-done and I recommend this book especially is you like historical mysteries set in an unusual time period.
  • Grade: B+

Murder Fir Christmas by Joyce & Jim Lavenemurder-fir-christmas-joyce-and-jim-lavene

  • Christmas Tree Valley Mysteries #1
  • Published 2015, 202 pages
  • Contemporary Mystery–small Tennessee town
  • I enjoyed this mystery a lot, too. When I picked it up I was afraid it might be a little “cutesy.” But it wasn’t. I thought it was well-written and I especially liked the main character–Federal Wildlife Agent Bonnie Tuttle.
  • She arrives in Tennessee where she grew up to take over from another wildlife agent who is retiring. As soon as she arrives she and the agent she will replace are called out to an island fire to help rescue animals. While on the island the retiring agent is murdered.
  • Bonnie must juggle the new job, new people to work and interact with while investigating a murder, helping her mother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and helping run the family Christmas tree farm. She has a special gift with animals, too! And she has to deal with the reasons she left home in the first place. It all sounds like a muddled mess! But it works!
  • A lot to deal with, but even though this is a short book, it didn’t feel too short. I do hope to read another book in the series. I want to find out more about Bonnie and the people in this book. The mystery is pretty good, too. There’s a hint of romance in this book, too. I like the Christmas aspects of the book, too.
  • Grade: B

Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N.A. Grangerdeath-in-a-red-canvas-chair

  • Rhe Brewster Mystery #1
  • Published 2013, 216 pages
  • Contemporary Mystery–small Maine coastal town
  • I liked this mystery, but it’s not my favorite of the three.
  • Rhe Brewster is a nurse in this small town and she finds a dead body at the end of her son’s soccer game. Her brother-in-law is the sheriff and he asks her to help investigate. Rhe’s husband is quite unhappy about this and I didn’t find him very likable. I also didn’t find it likely that a sheriff would ask a nurse to help in an investigation. By the end of the book they made it more formal, but I still don’t find it very likely. I did find the mystery interesting.
  • Grade–B-

2015 Reading Challenges

  • Goodreads
  • Cloak and Dagger Challenge
  • New Author Challenge
  • TBR Pile Challenge

Have you read any of these books? How did you like them?

2015 reading challenges–How’d I do?

my-reading-challenges

2015 Reading Challenges

I only completed 3 of the 8 challenges for 2015. However, I was 85% or better on 3 more of the challenges so I feel pretty good about that. I’m doing challenges again for 2016–some of the same challenges as the ones below and some new ones. I have fun trying to complete the challenges!

Audiobook Challenge — 85%

  • Goal–20-30 audiobooks
  • How many I listened to –17 audiobooks
  • Books reviewed by the end of 2015– 16 books
  • We traveled a lot in 2015 and when I travel I don’t listen to books as much.
  • I’ve signed up for this challenge again.

Cloak & Dagger Reading Challenge — 175% –completed!

  • Goal–20 books
  • How many I read — 35 books
  • Books reviewed by the end of 2015 — 32 books
  • I read 15 books more than my goal! YAY!
  • I’ve signed up for this one again.

Goodreads Challenge — 92%

  • Goal — 110 books
  • How many I read by the end of 2015 –101 books
  • Books reviewed by the end of 2015 — 90 books
  • I have chosen a smaller challenge for 2016. I started worrying about the number of books I’d read instead of just enjoying the books. I also stopped reading long books since I was trying to meet my goal.
  • My goal this year is 100 books.

Library Challenge — 58%

  • Goal — 12-16 books
  • How many I read — 7 books
  • Books reviewed by the end of 2015 — 7 books
  • Since we traveled so much last year I didn’t use the library as much as I meant to.
  • I haven’t signed up for a formal library challenge, but plan to keep track of the library books I read. And plan to buy fewer books since we’re retiring a few years earlier than planned and I need to keep to a budget.

New Author Challenge — 168% –completed!

  • Goal — 25 books
  • How many I read by the end of 2015 — 42 books
  • Books reviewed by the end of 2015 — 35 books
  • Lots of really good new authors this year.
  • I’ve signed up for this challenge again. I love finding new authors to keep reading.

TBR Challenge — 92%

  • Goal — 1 book per month
  • How many I read — 11 books total
  • Books reviewed by the end of 2015 — 11 books
  • I missed my July book–again, I got busy and didn’t finish the book until later in the year.
  • I’m not signing up for this challenge since it’s more romance oriented and I’m not reading so much romance anymore.

TBR Pile Reading Challenge — 116% — completed

  • Goal — 31-40 books
  • How many I read — 36 books
  • Books reviewed by the end of 2015 –33 books
  • I have lots of TBR books so this is one I’ve signed up again. I have plenty of books for this challenge!

Ultimate Reading Challenge — 58%

  • Goal — 52 books–each in a specific category
  • How many I read — 30 books
  • Books reviewed by the end of 2015 –30 books
  • There were some types of books on the list I probably wouldn’t have read, but I could have done a little better. In the last months of 2015 I got busy with other things and didn’t think about the challenge and trying to find books to meet the challenge.
  • I didn’t check to see if this challenge is occurring again this year. I signed up for a different challenge that’s somewhat similar, but confined to science fiction and fantasy.

Did you take part in reading challenges in 2015? How did you do?

2015 reading summary

Infographic

My 2015 reading summary is on an infographic this year. I decided to make an infographic, because one of my goals with my blog is to learn new technologies for my blog. This is the first infographic I’ve made and it was fun and quite easy to make using the Piktochart site. There are tutorials and templates which make it quite easy and they even offer to chat with you and help you if you need it. The hardest part was trying to decide what information to include and then how to show it. I hope to make more infographics in the future.

2015Reading

Did the infographic work?

According to Wikipedia, “Information Graphics or Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly.” What do you think? Was the infographic a success?

One thing I worry about making an infographic like this is whether the graphic is too big and makes the page load slowly. Please do let me know if the page seems to load slowly on your computer.

Have you ever made infographics for your blog? What do you think–are they worth creating?

Waiting on Wednesday–Dec 30

I’m participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m Waiting-on-Wednesdaylooking forward to coming out in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

Admiral by Sean Danker

Series: First in a new series

Publication Date: May 3

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Synopsis (from Goodreads): “I was on a dead ship on an unknown planet with three trainees freshly graduated into the Imperial Service. I tried to look on the bright side.”

He is the last to wake. The label on his sleeper pad identifies him as an admiral of the Evagardian Empire—a surprise as much to him as to the three recent recruits now under his command. He wears no uniform, and he is ignorant of military protocol, but the ship’s records confirm he is their superior officer.

Whether he is an Evagardian admiral or a spy will be of little consequence if the crew members all end up dead. They are marooned on a strange world, their ship’s systems are failing one by one—and they are not alone.

………………………………………

Why I want this book

  • I love military science fiction.
  • This is a little different take–the ship says he’s an Admiral, but he seems to know little about military procedures!
  • An interesting cover. Doesn’t really make the book look military, but it does give the idea of being marooned on a strange world.

What about you–do you have books your excited to read?

2016 most anticipated new-to-me authors and their books

Top Ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme I take part in when I can think up answers! It’s a great meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Every week they suggest a new book-related topic. It’s not only fun to think about my list, but to read what other people come up with!

This week I’m talking about the books I’m most anticipating in the first half of 2016. I’ve decided to just list the new-to-me authors and their books since I have so many new authors and their books I want to read!born-in-a-burial-gown

Born in a Burial Gown

  • by Mike Craven
  • Mystery (police procedural)
  • A police procedural which takes place in England. It sounds a little grittier and darker than most mysteries I read, but it also sounds very good. The main character–Detective Inspector Avison Fluke–commits a crime so he can get back to work, conceals an illness and soon won’t have a home. Then a body is found buried on a building site and for some reason the dead woman has gone to a lot of trouble to disguise herself.
  • Expected publication date: Jan 1

 

all-the-birds-in-the-sky

All the Birds in the Sky

  • by Charlie Jane Anders
  • A mix of science fiction and fantasy
  • The world’s falling apart. One of the main characters is magically gifted and the other is an engineer struggling to stave off catastrophe with technology. Sounds like a near future story about the coming apocalypse.
  • Expected publication date: Jan 26

 

thicker-than-water

 Thicker Than Water: A Monika Paniatowski British Police Procedural

  • by Sally Spencer
  • Mystery (police procedural)
  • Another British police procedural! This is not the first in the series and I will have to investigate which book this is. I like that the protagonist is a female DCI just back from maternity leave. I think it would be very difficult to work as an investigator and be a new mom. I’m interested to see how realistic it is, but I will probably search for earlier books since she must have a relationship with someone…lol
  • Expected publication date: Feb 1

 

a-criminal-magic

A Criminal Magic

  • by Lee Kelly
  • Young Adult Historical Fantasy
  • 1926 Washington, DC, but with magic! Prohibition in this world is a prohibition against sorcery, but as in our world that creates an underworld–bu in this case of magic complete with mobsters.
  • Expected publication date: Feb 2

borderline

Borderline

  • by Mishell Baker
  • Urban Fantasy
  • The main character botched a suicide attempt and ended up losing her legs. She’s given a second chance to live when she’s recruited by a secret society whose job is to police the traffic between a parallel reality and ours.
  • Mar 1

death-sits-down-to-dinner

Death Sits Down to Dinner

  • by Tessa Arlen
  • Historical Mystery
  • An Edwardian mystery set in London. This is second in the series, but it sounds like I could pick it up with the second book. I like that there are historical characters in the book: the murder happens during a dinner to celebrate Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday.

the-courier

The Courier: A San Angeles Novel

  • by Gerald Brandt
  • Science Fiction (Distopian) with a mystery!
  • “A far-future science fiction debut set in San Francisco—action adventure with a cyberpunk tone.” Yes! A motorcycle courier worth nothing who witnesses a murder and now everyone wants her dead. This is a debut I missed in my “2016 Debut novels” Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Expected publication date: Mar 1

central-station

Central Station

  • by Lavie Tidhar
  • Science Fiction
  • Central Station is an interplanetary hub which connects to everything. Sounds like there’s virtual reality and real life intertwining plus since the city is called Tel Aviv and “it’s a worldwide diaspora” perhaps the main group of people are Jews? And there’s a mysterious group called the Others. Sounds so interesting!
  • Expected publication date: May 10

company-town

Company Town

  • by Madeline Ashby
  • Science Fiction (and maybe a murder mystery?)
  • The main character chooses not to get bio-engineered enhancements and is the last organic person on the rig. She’s an expert in self-defense charged with teaching the Family’s youngest self-defense after they receive death threats–maybe from another time-line!
  • Expected publication date: May 17

the-invisible-library

The Invisible Library

  • by Genevieve Cogman
  • Science Fiction (steampunk) & Fantasy, too!!?
  • One of my favorite bloggers Li from Me and My Books talks about this book and that the second book is already out in England. She snapped it up as soon as possible since she enjoyed the first book so much!
  • A spy, a mysterious Library (which harvests books from other realities), stolen books, forbidden societies. “. . . think Doctor Who with librarian spies!” Oh, My Goodness, Yes!
  • Expected U.S. publication date: June 14

 

What books are you looking forward to in 2016?

 

Sunday Post: Dec 27

Sunday-Post

This is a great meme to take part in every week and I thank Kimba for hosting it!

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Last Week–home and blog

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Christmas!

My husband, three kids and I were all together for Christmas this year. So nice. Doesn’t happen so often when the kids are grown. We even had a bit of snow for a white Christmas!

We saw Star Wars on Christmas Eve and played Exploding Kittens card game on Christmas! Swedish pancakes for Christmas breakfast, pork loin for Christmas dinner and Mocha Pudding Cake for dessert. We all had a wonderful time together.

My husband and I drove to Illinois on Saturday for our flight home from Chicago on Sunday. Lots of fog and rain. Hard to believe up to 70 when we arrive in Maryland on Sunday.

Television

We caught up on Dr. Who. We don’t get BBC America and my daughter has all the episodes saved so we have watched the current season including the Christmas special. Yay!

The blog

Not much on the blog this week–it was Christmas. I hope to catch up on my commenting next week.

Blog posts

What I’m reading

Radiance by Grace Draven

What I read last week

Murder Fir Christmas by Joyce Lavene & Jim Lavene

“Magic Stars” by Ilona Andrews

New–Books, E-books, NetGalley, Audiobooks–purchased or free or from library

None

Library books

None

E-books

 Stiff penalty by Annelise Ryan

Naughty or Nice: A Holiday Anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Audiobooks

If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell

Tinsel Talk: Favorite Holiday Stories from NPR by National Public Radio

Next Week–home & blog

Back to Maryland on Sunday and lots of catching up at home. Can’t wait to see my cats and spend some one-on-one time with my husband.

Hard to believe 2016 arrives next week!

Blog posts

  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Review
  • Happy 2016
  • Sunday Post

What did you do last week? What books did you collect? What are you planning?

Santa could bring me these books . . .

Top Ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme I take part in when I can think up answers! It’s a great meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Every week they suggest a new book-related topic. It’s not only fun to think about my list, but to read what other people come up with!

This week I’m talking about the books Santa could leave for me under my tree. These are all books published this year that I have wanted to read, but haven’t bought yet.

Science Fiction

Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper

  • The Glittering Edge #1
  • Science fiction adventure story

The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod

  • Her Majesty’s Psychic Service #1
  • A science fiction steampunk and mystery

The End of All Things by John Scalzi

  • book 6 in The Old Man’s War series
  • Science fiction–one of my favorite series and authors.

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

  • Time Salvager #1
  • Science fiction and time travel

Fantasy

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

  • The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
  • Young adult fantasy

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

  • The Great Library #1
  • Historical fantasy

The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

  • The Elemental Trilogy #3
  • Young adult fantasy–I’ve read the first two books and liked them out.

The Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

  • The Black Wolves Trilogy #1
  • Epic fantasy

Mysteries

Burnt River by Karin Salvalaggio

  • Macy Greeley Mystery #2
  • Police procedural set in Montana

Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima

  • Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #1
  • Police procedural set in a small Colorado town

What books are on your Santa wish list?

 

Sunday Post: Dec 20

Sunday-Post

This is a great meme to take part in every week and I thank Kimba for hosting it!

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Last Week–home and blog

Wedding–Here we come!

My youngest daughter, my son and I are headed to Wisconsin for a wedding on Saturday. One of our favorite nephews is getting married and we’re so happy for him and his bride.

We are leaving on Thursday afternoon and driving part way stopping in Decorah, Iowa for the night. Decorah is a small town, but is renowned for its Norwegian museum, microbrewery–Toppling Goliath–and Luther College. Quite a lot of renown for a town of about 8,100 people!

Friday morning we’re heading to Wausau, WI where we’re staying. The wedding is in a small town nearby on Saturday afternoon, but we have activities for Friday afternoon and evening. Then the wedding on Saturday and reception and dinner Saturday night.

My husband, son and I are driving back to Des Moines on Sunday. Our daughters will arrive a little later in the week and we are all spending Christmas here in Des Moines!

Television

I watched the first episode of Expanse and liked that. I didn’t have time to watch the second episode or anything else!

The blog

I’m behind on my book reviews so was glad to post three of them again this week. Not much reading or commenting done this week. It’s been a very busy week.

Blog posts

What I’m reading

“Magic Stars” by Ilona Andrews

A Darker Side of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Orphans of the Sky by Robert Heinlein

What I read last week

“You Again” by JoAnn Ross

New–Books, E-books, NetGalley, Audiobooks–purchased or free or from library

threads-of-deceit

None

Library books

None

E-books

Threads of Deceit by Mae Fox

Audiobooks

None

Next Week–home & blogMerry-Christmas

We are in Des Moines for most of Christmas week. We have a special treat during the day on Christmas Eve. We’re going to see Star Wars at the IMAX theater in town! We try to see a new movie every year during the Christmas holidays. We’re super excited it’s Star Wars this year.

My husband and I drive to Illinois the day after Christmas and then fly back home on Sunday, 27 December. I’ve loved my time in the Midwest and spending so much time with my children, but it will be good to get home, spend one-on-one time with my husband and see my cats. I’ve missed them all so much!

Since we’re flying on Sunday I’m not sure I will have time to do a Sunday Post.

Blog posts

  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Christmas!
  • Sunday Post

What did you do last week? What books did you collect? What are you planning?