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Sun, Dec. 9th, 2012 10:30 am
#42: Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

This week was for reading young-person-oriented books for which I've seen the movies. Coraline discovers a sinister secret behind a locked door in her new house. This is one of those stories where the adults are all portrayed as completely useless, so the child-protagonist must save the day on her own.

#43: Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

I missed the beginning of this movie when I watched it (it was on TV), but in general it seems the movie changed more than the Coraline movie did. This book has a lot of complexity, with a lot of different threads running through it, but it was still a good fun adventure.

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Thu, Nov. 29th, 2012 09:57 pm
#40: Mercury Rests, by Robert Kroese

The third book of the Mercury series, the forces of Hell have yet more plans to bring about the destruction of universe, and the various characters have to work together to save the day again. I love this sort of story, where humans have to fight for survival against the forces of Heaven and Hell.

#41: Ironside, by Holly Black

It seems I was in the mood for 3rd books lately. I read the first book in this series last year, and then I got the second book in the series for my sister for her birthday. This book picks up the story from the first book, the changeling Kaye and her relationship with the fae Roiben. He's crowned lord of the Unseelie Court, and Kaye gets caught up in more fae drama.

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Sun, Nov. 18th, 2012 08:44 pm
#37: Dark Harvest, by Norman Partridge

I've been very behind on recording my books. This is a great but short tale of a farming town with a curious tradition. Every year, a pumpkin-headed scarecrow comes to life, and all the teenage boys roam the streets to defeat it. The winner and his family are lavishly awarded, but there's a dark secret to the situation.

#38: Trick 'r Treat: Tales of Mayhem, Mystery, and Mischief, by John Griffin

Trick 'r Treat is the best Halloween movie ever, and this is a big book about the making of the movie. It's full of preliminary sketches, descriptions of the production process and how the film came to be made, and the short stories that comprise the plot of the movie. It also has lots of fun extras, like stickers, posters, jack o'lantern patterns, and such.

#39: Revamp, by Beck Sherman

I got this book from the Kindle Lending Library, and I'm probably just going to stop reading it. I got about 2/3rds through, and I just don't care how it ends. Apparently vampires somehow caused a nationwide blackout, which somehow allowed them to take over and turn the majority of the population into vampires, and within 3 weeks entire swaths of the country have been completely transformed into a fully functioning vampire society and economy. It's not really explained how this happened. The vampires' haphazard conversion sweep missed a few people, and they've banded together with a half-baked scheme to liberate the world.

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Sun, Oct. 21st, 2012 02:48 pm
#36: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride

This was one that I found in a thrift store. Or I think Jessica found it. Whenever we're in thrift stores, we try to find each other terrible books. Judging by the title, this book could either be terrible or awesome, so I took the gamble. And it was awesome. I was afraid it would be another sappy teen romance book, where a despondent teenage girl can't be bothered to choose between two guys who inexplicably like her, but this wasn't actually a romance book at all. Instead, it's of the genre where a teenager finds out he has previously unknown magic powers, and gets caught up fighting against some big evil magic-powered villain.

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Thu, Oct. 18th, 2012 04:21 pm
#34: The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

I've loved everything I've read by Catherynne M. Valente, but her books tend to be very dark. Absolutely gorgeous and captivating, but dark and a bit depressing at the same time. What really hooked me on this book is that it is full of all of her amazing worldbuilding and mythspinning, but it stays light and breezy. The sequel to this book came out recently, and I am very much looking forward to it.

#35: 13 Bullets, by David Wellington

This is a vampire story, where vampires are monsters, not something to romanticize. Vampires were thought to be extinct in the country, until a half-dead ghoul turns up at a highway sobriety checkpoint, and soon the bodies start piling up. The man who killed the last rampaging vampire 20 years ago teams up with a young highway patrol officer, and together they confront the new menace.

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Sun, Oct. 7th, 2012 09:19 am
#32: Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

I've been lax in recording the books I've read lately. This is a book set in a world of magic, where the young devious genius Artemis Fowl decides to steal some fairy gold in order to restore his family's fortune. It was a fun read, and only took me a day to go through it.

#33: Warriors: Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter

I've been finding a lot of books from this series in thrift stores, though this particular one I apparently got for free on my Kindle a while ago. In this world, feral cats form clans and have their own politics and religion. Rusty is a young tom cat who decides to run away from home and join the feral cat society, so he can live free and eat mice. I've seen what happens when cats eat mice. They get parasites. Worms fall out of their butts. So that knowledge kind of tainted my reading of this book.

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Mon, Sep. 17th, 2012 07:55 pm
#31: The Howling III, by Gary Bradner

This book starts a new story instead of continuing the story from Howling I and Howling II, though it's set in the same area. Unfortunately, there's still a gratuitous sexual assault, though at least this time it occurs during the main plot instead of just being some pointless backstory. One thing I liked about this one is that it offered a different perspective, with one of the main characters being a sympathetic werewolf instead of just an evil monster.

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Sun, Sep. 9th, 2012 01:31 pm
#30: Digger, by Ursula Vernon

This is technically 6 graphic novels, but I'm counting them as one book. The other day, bradhicks mentioned Digger winning the Hugo Award for best Graphic Novel, so I figured I'd go over and at least check it out. And then I was sucked in and couldn't stop reading through the archives online. It's a wonderful epic story about a wombat who gets caught up in the dealings of gods. The story is rich with mythology and geology and antropology and all sorts of wonderful things.

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Sat, Sep. 1st, 2012 07:07 pm
#29: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, by Adrienne Kress

This book was interesting, but was a bit all over the place. Alex is a 10-year-old girl living with her uncle in a small English town, living a fairly dull life until pirates kidnap her 6th-grade teacher who is the heir of a long-buried treasure. What starts off as a sort of old-timey Victorian story takes a turn for the fantastic when Alex sets off to rescue him and encounters crazy steampunk-ish technology, an alcoholic talking octopus who laments the use of CGI to replace monster actors, and a AI-equipped refrigerator. And none of those encounters really add anything to the plot of the book. The setting is a bit hard to get a handle on. It's a bit jarring when pirates sailing on a wooden ship are using laptop computers.

Going off on a tangent, I've been buying lots of books from thrift stores lately, and this is the second book I've found that's signed by the author, to "Gillian". It makes me sad to think that someone got a book signed by the author (in this case, it was even an ARC), and then having it end up for sale for 50 cents in a thrift store.

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Sat, Aug. 25th, 2012 08:36 pm
In an interesting coincidence, both of these books were edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

#27: Old Man's War, by John Scalzi

In this sci-fi story, humanity has established colonies on multiple plants, and encountered all sorts of hostile aliens. In order to fight the wars against these alien armies, Earth's elderly are enlisted into the space army. The reasons are sort of hand-waved, but basically the elderly are a drain on Earth's economy, and people with a full life of experiences apparently make better soldiers than young punks. It's an interesting take on war, and the next two books in the series will definitely be on my list of books to read.

#28: New Magics: An Anthology of Today's Fantasy

Given a collection of short stories, it's fun to try to find the commonalities between them. The stories in this book are modern takes on fantasy, and often feature music as a theme. I was reminded of my conflicted feelings for Orson Scott Card's stories. On the one hand, he's a crazy old bigot, but on the other hand, he can definitely tell some interesting tales. While this book is marketed as Young Adult, a lot of the stories allude to complex mythologies that may go over the heads of younger readers.

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Sun, Aug. 19th, 2012 07:00 pm
#26: Tales of the Dim Knight, by Adam & Andrea Graham

You wouldn't expect a book about a guy who gets superpowers from an alien symbiote to end up being an elaborate Christian glurg, but there it is. Dave is a janitor working at an FBI warehouse when he encounters the alien symbiote, which gives him the power to materialize anything he can imagine. He imagines himself the jetpack-equipped superhero Powerhouse, and spends his spare time out trying to fight crime, ignoring his wife and kids. The book is very episodic, without much of an overarching plot, until everyone finds Jesus and lives happily ever after.

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Sun, Aug. 12th, 2012 05:32 pm
#25: Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

This is a book about a teenage girl falling in love with a werewolf, but on the plus side the werewolf isn't a jerk. The interesting take on werewolves in this book is that it's cold that makes them transform, not the moon, so they are wolves in the winter and human in the summer. The book started off slow, the interesting conflict didn't really show up until halfway through, and the characters were pretty clueless sometimes, but overall it wasn't a bad book.

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Sun, Jul. 29th, 2012 03:51 pm
#24: Mad Science Institute, by Sechin Tower

I got this book from the Kindle Lending Library because I was looking for a nice fun book. Sophia, inexplicably nicknamed "Soap", is a teenage tinkering genius, which unfortunately causes problems when her electronic gizmos accidentally explode or catch on fire. She's saved by a mysterious acceptance letter from the Mechanical Science Institute in the rural town of Bugswallow. She's quickly embroiled in a web of ancient conspiracies, and the mysterious "Professor" who has a plan to take over the world.

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Fri, Jul. 27th, 2012 03:24 pm
#23: The Habitation of the Blessed: A Dirge for Prester John, Volume One, by Catherynne M. Valente

Like every other thing I've ready by Catherynne M. Valente, this book is dark and beautiful. The mythology she focuses on here is the story of Prester John. In Medieval times, letters would circulate supposedly from Prester John, a Priest-King who presided over a kingdom full of mythical beasts and delights. This book is the story of a priest who is searching for Prester John's mythical kingdom, and finds three books that offer a glimpse into that kingdom and Prester John's rise to power within it.

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Thu, Jul. 5th, 2012 04:36 pm
#22: The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning, by Hallgrimur Helgason

I got this book from the Kindle Lending Library because I was looking for a change of pace from the standard fantasy/sci-fi books I read, and it definitely delivered on that front. This is the story of a hitman from the Croatian mafia, who flees to Iceland when the law starts closing in on him. While on the lam, he tries to piece his life back together, with the help of some Icelandic Evangelicals.

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Thu, Jun. 14th, 2012 07:17 am
#20: The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm, by Christie Golden

While I stopped playing World of Warcraft a while ago, this book was still in my wife's Paperback Swap queue, so I figured I'd give it a shot. By playing the game and reading summaries of the backstory, nothing in this book was a big surprise. It did a serviceable job of the story of all the crazy things that went on lore-wise before the Cataclysm expansion, and it did give a bit more depth to some of the much-derided characters (Garrosh and Varian).

#21: Dog Wizard, by Barbara Hambly

This is the third book of the Windrose Trilogy. While Antryg and Joanna appeared to have vanquished the primary villian in Book Two, strange things are once again afoot. Antryg and Joanna are dragged back into the world of magic and wizardry, and have to contend with the mysterious and menacing Void.

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Tue, May. 15th, 2012 10:10 am
#19: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

This conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy features a climactic civil war, though one that happens mostly off-screen. I guess it's a satisfying conclusion to the series. My main complaint, that applies to the whole trilogy, is that events seem to occur simply because the plot demands them, and not for any sensible reason. So sure, there are lots of exciting and poignant scenes, but it all seems contrived. Of course, the whole series is basically a critique of reality-television-culture, so maybe the whole thing is a work of meta-criticism.

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Sun, May. 13th, 2012 08:46 pm
#18: Escape from Kathmandu, by Kim Stanley Robinson

This book is a series of four novellas featuring American expatriates in Nepal, discovering mysteries ranging from the mundane to the mythical. The stories are lighthearted at first, but get heavier toward the end of the book. They paint a wonderful picture of highs and lows of Nepal, both literal and metaphorical.

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Sat, Apr. 28th, 2012 10:24 am
#17: The Trouble with Heroes

This book is a collection of short stories focusing on the women in heroes' stories. The heroes in the stories range from classic Greek heroes to biblical heroes to superheroes. If I had to complain about something, it would be on the over-representation of Greek/Roman gods and heroes. My favorite story featured my favorite faerie-tale heroine, Molly Whuppie, facing off against Jack the Giant-Killer.

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Thu, Apr. 19th, 2012 07:17 pm
#16: The Best of All Flesh

This is an anthology of zombie stories, which my little sister got me for Christmas. Overall it had some nice stories, but what I learned is that overall, zombie stories are really depressing. Anthologies of vampire and werewolf stories are fine, you can get some variety, but nearly every zombie story starts off sad and ends up miserable.

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Sun, Apr. 8th, 2012 02:39 pm
#13: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

This book did a good job continuing the story from The Hunger Games. There are a couple of different strategies for sequels, and this one chose the "repeat the original plot but with higher stakes" approach. Hopefully the third book will still be available when I'm eligible to get my next free Amazon Prime Kindle book.

#14: She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror

This book is a collection of biblically-inspired short stories. Some of them are straight-up retellings of the stories, while some take the biblical themes and explore them in different settings. I liked it overall, but it made me wish I was more familiar with some of the original stories.

#15: The Silicon Mage, by Barbara Hambly

The is the second book in the trilogy that began with The Silent Tower. It's interesting to compare this with Catching Fire, which is also the second book of a trilogy. The Hunger Games basically stands on its own and has a satisfying ending, while Catching Fire ends on a cliffhanger setting up the third book. For the Windrose Chronicles trilogy, the first book had the cliffhanger ending that sets up the second book, while the second book has a satisfying ending that basically wraps up the major plot threads. It will be interesting to see what the main conflict is in the third book.

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Sat, Mar. 31st, 2012 08:54 pm
#12: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

I wasn't initially planning on reading this book, but when I was looking for my monthly free Kindle Lending Library book to read, this was at the top of the list, so I figured I might as well. I enjoyed it overall, since I didn't have super high expectations of it. I thought the premise and setting were somewhat silly, but the story and characters were fine. I'm not sure how the sequels will be, since without the actual Hunger Games to drive the plot I can see the story getting bogged down.

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Tue, Mar. 27th, 2012 08:39 pm
#10: Zero Sight, by B. Justin Shier
#11: Zero Sum, by B. Justin Shier

I'm lumping these together. The basic plot of these in some ways is rather similar to Harry Potter. A kid from an abusive household turns out to have magic powers, and gets into an exclusive wizard school. The world of magic-users is kept secret from mundanes (called Imperiti in this world instead of muggles), and an evil organization is scheming against the agents of good. These books are rather more violent than the Harry Potter books. In his first manifestation of magic, Dieter Resnick slaughters the bully who is trying to kill him, instead of simply removing a pane of glass to a snake enclosure. Also, Dieter is 18, and attending a magic university instead of boarding school. He and his new classmates have to band together to take on the dark forces that no one else will face.

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Thu, Mar. 22nd, 2012 08:15 pm
#8: The Silent Tower, by Barbara Hambly

Two universes collide, and Joanna, a software engineer working for a defense company in the 1980s, gets caught up with a world of magic and intrigue. An evil wizard is working a vast plot, but no one is sure who the evil wizard is. This book is the first of a trilogy.

#9: Deathless, by Catherynne Valente

Like the other books by Catherynne Valente I've read, this one is beautifully depressing. Growing up in Russia at the beginning of the 19th century, Marya Morvena gets a glimpse through the cracks of mundane reality and finds herself living out a fairy tale. A

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Fri, Mar. 2nd, 2012 07:09 pm
#7: Against the Light, by Dave Duncan

I liked this book overall, but it's another example of a Kindle book that could have used a more thorough editing. There were some jarring words and phrases throughout the book. The story is set in a generic fantasy world, where the state-backed Church of the Sun brutally oppresses the peaceful worshipers of the Mother. Adherents of either faith can randomly get magic powers, but Mother-worshipers get bonus spirit animals to guide them. The plot follows a family of Mother-worshipers who get caught up in political maneuvering between the various factions vying for power.

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