Thursday, January 30, 2014

Audio Book Review: Dangerous Women

Dangerous Women
Short Story Collection edited by George R. R. Martin
Read by various narrators
“A woman could be strong without having the emotions of a brick.” 
― Brandon SandersonDangerous Women

From Goodreads:
All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities—including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a  tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.

From Me:

Fantastic collection of short stories with kick ass women taking the lead. I listened to the audio book and the narrators were amazing, particularly Claudia Black (who should read All The Things). So many great authors and great stories packed into a beast of a book! Most of the short stories aren't stand-alones, so if you're a reader of any of the original series, these additions will be very exciting; if you are not, most of the stories will work well without knowing the world behind them; that being said, if you DO read the original series, but you're NOT caught up, you may run across the occasional spoiler. Highly recommended.

More from Goodreads: 

Stories and Narrators (in order of appearance):“Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie; Read by Stana Katic
“My Heart Is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott; Read by Jake Weber
“Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland; Read by Harriet Walter
“The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass; Read by Jonathan Frakes
“Bombshells” by Jim Butcher; Read by Emily Rankin
“Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn; Read by Inna Korobkina            
“Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale; Read by Scott Brick
“Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm; Read by Lee Meriwether
“I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block; Read by Jake Weber
“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson; Read by Claudia Black
“A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman; Read by Harriet Walter
“The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman; Read by Sophie Turner
“Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress; Read by Janis Ian
“City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland; Read by Scott Brick
“Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon; Read by Allan Scott-Douglas
“Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling; Read by Stana Katic
“Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes; Read by Claudia Black
“Caregivers” by Pat Cadigan; Read by Janis Ian
“Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector; Read by Maggi-Meg Reed
“Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon; Read by Jenna Lamia
“The Princess and the Queen” by George R. R. Martin; Read by Iain Glen

The introduction by Gardner Dozois is read by Fred Sanders and the interstitial author biographies are read by Karen Dotrice.

Book Review: Discount Armageddon

Discount Armageddon (InCryptid #1) 
By Seanan McGuire
“A proper lady should be able to smile pretty, wear sequins like she means it, and kick a man's ass nine ways from Sunday while wearing stiletto heels. If she can't do that much, she's not trying hard enough.” 
― Seanan McGuireDiscount Armageddon
This book was so FUN! Verity, our unconventional but completely awesome hero, is a ballroom dancing, free running, strip club waitress/cryptozoologist who is trying to save the local NYC cryptids from the visiting Covenant man and pursue her ballroom dancing career. Verity is sassy, a complete BAMF, and has talking mice as roommates (and I seriously LURVE the talking mice).

Full of quick comebacks, quirky characters, and lots of action, I got incredibly annoyed any time I had to put the book down for inconsequential things like work and sleep.

Bonus content:

1) Dancing! Verity is pursuing the "family business," "but all she want's to do is dance dance dance." She's a professional ballroom dancer trying to make it in NYC after a stint on Dance or Die, a reality competition along the lines of So You Think You Can Dance (Which is a major obsession of mine. I can't dance, but I certainly wish I could.). She uses her powers of dance against the forces of *things that want to eat you.*

2) A romantic interest that doesn't pull focus from the story. There's chemistry and making out, but more importantly there's character development and fight scenes.

3) Did I mention the talking mice? They've very religious and say "hail!" a lot. I kinda want a colony of Aeslin mice in my closet, but I'm sure my dog would disagree.

In conclusion: Love Love Love, Gush Gush Gush, Read it! Read it! Read it!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Blind Date with a Book - Updated from the Savvy Reader Blog

Originally posted 1/28/13 to The Savvy Reader (my former MPL Teen Blog); Updates include titles and authors to previously posted mystery book list and "dating profiles":

For Valentine's Day, we're celebrating with a very special display: Blind Date with a Book. Putting this display together was significantly more ambitious than what I did last year, which was a little sign and zombie books (they'll eat your heart out).

So here's how it works: I selected just shy of 50 books from various genres (all of them awesome). For each title, I wrote a dating profile, complete with a headline and a 2-3 sentence blurb. Each of the books were wrapped by my wonderful League of Extraordinary Teens: Teen Council members. The profiles were printed and added to the front of each wrapped book.

Blind Date with a Book: Take a chance and you may just find your perfect book.

(For my fellow librarians, we are fortunate to have a scanning system that doesn't require a bar code reader, but I also added a number to the dating profile that referenced the wrapped title in a spreadsheet. This way, if there was a request for a specific book, we could find it.)

I pulled so many books that I thought would be awesome for this little project that I needed an overflow space. A BIG overflow space.

I'm also trying to promote the love with my programming board. Hmm...looks like my handwriting began to tilt a bit - sorry Sarah!

So, what books did I use? Sorry - not gonna tell. At least not in this blog entry. However, I'll share the dating profiles, and if you find one of interest leave me a comment on the blog and I'll let you know the title. (Fellow YA librarians - if you'd like the full list of profiles and titles, email me at [The list is now posted below!]. You are welcome to use the profiles, but if you blog about it, please reference me and link back to this blog post!!!)

Blind Date with a Book Book List

1. If the house is rocking…run far, far away.  I'm normal on the outside, but I'm dark and creepy (in a good way) on the inside. I'm looking for someone who likes a good scare. Do you think you can handle me?

2. Everything I learned, I learned from the movies. I'm an amateur film maker who hopes to make a difference in the lives of others. I'm looking for someone who will support my efforts and isn't afraid of a good cry. Will you buy my ticket?

3. Dig that funky wavelength. I live in the past, but the technological future has reached me sooner than it should have. What would you do if you heard your voice from the future? Would you friend me?

4. I thought I knew what the future held…  I hear voices, but I swear I'm not crazy. They tell me to do things (still not crazy). I'm looking for someone to help me sort things out. Will you help me solve this puzzle?

5. Love is a (magic) battlefield. I'm fighting a war and discovering my hidden potential. The world is a dangerous place and I'm looking for someone to watch my back. Will you stand beside me?

6. Eat your heart out. Life is waging war everyday just to survive, but it's a lot easier with someone by your side. I'm looking for a trace of humanity in this world - do you have the heart to stick with me?

7. They say lightening never strikes twice… but does it need to? My life is full of excitement and danger, but I'm still looking for that certain spark, that electricity. Do you think we'll sizzle?

8. Looking for the cat's pajamas, not a flat tire. I'm a dame who's new to the big city and I'm looking for a live wire to show me the ropes, and maybe solve a caper or two. Are you the Real McCoy?

9. More than a pretty face. I used to think that looks were the most important thing, until a plane crash changed my pageant plans. Now I'm a warrior who can wrestle snakes and survive in the wild. Will you take me au naturel?

10. Text Me Maybe? I should warn you, me and my iPhone are one. I use it for everything from checking my email to fighting crime and righting wrongs. There's nothing we can't do. Do you think we'll sync?

11. Forget Romeo, I think I'm looking for my Juliet. I'm a drama club girl trying to figure things out. My life is like a screenplay, and we're all just characters upon the page. Will you read me?

12. Looking for a fantasy. They say you can't change the past, but I don't believe it. It defines who we are, but so do the secrets that surround us. Do you think we have a future together?

13. You've stolen my heart. I used to lead a life of crime, but I got out of the game. But you dragged me back in when you stole my heart. Will you be my partner in crime?

14. They say love is the greatest experiment. I grew up hearing the stories of secrets and experiments, but never believed they were true. Until now. Will our love be Top Secret or an Open Book?

15. Life is a mystery, and I plan to solve it. Around each corner is a new question to be answered and a new puzzle to be solved. Sometimes it can get messy or even dangerous. Are you my missing piece?

16. Looking for love against the odds. Everyone around me is sick - but I want to be sick with love. Is it survival of the fittest or does love make the heart stronger? Are you the cure to what ails me?

17. You've hacked my heart. It's you and me against the man and we've got to destroy the system. You've hacked your way into my heart, now will you conquer the world (or at least the city) with me?

18. Looking for a real live wire. I've got an electric personality and I'm looking for someone who can really light up a room. Do you think we've got a spark?

19. I'm on the hunt for my perfect partner. These are dangerous times and anymore it seems like I'm the prey surrounded by predators. Will you stand with me against the enemy?

20. It'd be a crime to pass me by. My life may seem stranger than fiction, but I promise it's based on a true story. It may seem like too difficult of a puzzle, but will you help me unravel the truth?

21. You've sent me outta this world! You've made me feel like I've won the lottery. But will our love shine as bright as the sun or will we find danger on the dark side of the moon?

22. Can't we all just get along? We're supposed to be enemies, but we could save the world if we could just be friends. Will you take the leap with me?

23. It's like déjà vu all over again. I'm an American Girl in London, looking for an adventure. But the new attacks RIPPED from old headlines have left me reeling. Can you help me figure out what's going on?

24. It's the age of the geek, baby. I've turned my gaming into a career of sorts, if you can call trying to win WWIII a career. I'm a super-human war machine…of love. Do you think you have what it takes?

25. Super Villains are people, too. Just because I was kidnapped and trained by super villains doesn't mean I don't have feelings. Maybe we've just been looking for love in all the wrong places. Would you be my hero?

26. Warrior looking for revenge against the shogun and maybe love, if there's time. Significant other must be willing join me in battle and occasionally clean up after the griffin. What's your weapon of choice?

27. Have we met? No, seriously, I can't remember - I've lost my memory. Please excuse that weird energy blast; I don't know how I did that…it's weird, right? Anyway, I'm on the run; would you like to come along?

28. Vampire Ninja seeks love. Don't be surprised if you can't see me; it'd be hard enough if I was just an ordinary ninja. But I'm hardly ordinary. Life with me can be both dangerous and a bit scary - do you think you can handle it?

29. Baby on board. Being a pregnant teen is hard enough, but try dealing with that AND aliens trying to kidnap your baby! I have a lot of hard decisions to make and would like to find someone supportive, responsible, and willing to fight aliens to stand by my side. Are you that special someone?

30. A picture's worth a thousand words. I think someone's messing with my head. Strange photos keep me up at night. What does it mean? Will you help me make sense of it all?

31. Can't watch Dexter? Then check me out. Being raised in the family business has left it's mark on me, but it turns out that I have a rare insight into the investigation of a new serial killer. Can we solve the crime together?

32. There's no place like home. I'm looking to reclaim the land and break the curse, but I can't do it alone. Will you come with me on this quest?

33. Sometimes a fight to the death is the only chance at living. This world is not kind to those without power, but I'll fight for my chance at a better life. Will you fight with me?

34. What's a girl to do when the pickings are slim? All I want is a little romance and a little fun, but I'm having a hard time finding it. Can friendship become romance?

35. Be careful what you wish for… because you might just get it. I've learned this lesson the hard way. If you could change something with the flip of a coin, would you do it?

36. I'm an old story in a new world. The future looks bleak, but we're trying to make it better. But can a lost love be returned? Is there any hope for us?

37. It's all fun and games…until… I'm a gamer, or at least I was. But the game is starting to affect my real life and it knows things about me that it couldn't know. Will you help me solve the mystery?

38. World traveler seeks friend for an adventure. A valuable piece of art has been stolen, and it's up to me to find it. My travels will take me far and wide…would you care to join me?

39. Trying to figure myself out. I'm not really sure who I am anymore. These feelings I have are confusing and unexpected. Do I like him? Do I like her? Will you help me figure it out?

40. One crazy night. One Crazy Girl. Prom night wasn't supposed to end in blood. If you're going to join me, you'd better be prepared for anything, including violence and mayhem. So, are you game?

41. I can see another world in your eyes. Unfortunately, it's a dark and dangerous world. I'm starting to wonder if I'm losing my mind. Can you help me see things clearly?

42. What are the chances of love at first sight? What are the chances you'll fall in love within 24 hours? What are the chances you can find someone again once you've lost them? Will you help me do the math?

43. Trapped with no escape. Chaos reigns and violence is our new way of life. Death surrounds us and there's no one left to help. Mine is not an easy story, and not one for the faint of heart. Will you take a shot with me?

44. Kon'nichiwa. I have many stories to tell. Stories of real life, stories in print and picture, stories of a different culture. Will you read me?

45. This is 19th century London as you've never seen it before. It's unnatural, the things happening these days. Families are being taken, and only an unlikely pair can hope to help them. Are you intrigued?

46. Sticks and stones… Words really can hurt. Reputations can change by the casual words of a stranger. So what do you have to say?

47. It's in the most difficult of circumstances that we find out what we're truly capable of. In the wastelands of this world, I fight to end the corruption that's infested this society. When the time comes, what will you find out about yourself?

48. Trying to live up to my potential… ...but freshman year keeps getting in the way. I'm looking for someone with a good sense of humor (cuz I have one, and you should think I'm funny) and who can see me for what I am: Awesome. Are we meant to be?

49. Looking for an adventure. Whether you're on the hunt for the Lost City of Atlantis or just the keys to my heart, we're on our way to an excellent adventure. Will you dive in with me?

UPDATE! I've had sooo many requests for the full book list, it's completely blown me away! I'm even getting requests THIS year! So here are the book titles and authors with the corresponding number from above. There are no current books on this list, but I hope it inspires your own displays!

1Bad Girls Don’t DieAlender, Katie
2Me and Earl and the Dying GirlAndrews, Jesse
3The Future of UsAsher, Jay
4TouchedBalog, Cyn
5Shadow and BoneBardugo, Leigh
6AshesBick, Ilsa
7StruckBosworth, Jennifer
8The DivinersBray, Libba
9Beauty QueensBray, Libba
10iBOYBrooks, Kevin
11Between You & MeCalin, Marisa
12PathfinderCard, Orson Scott
13Heist SocietyCarter, Ally
14So Close to YouCarter, Rachel
15ShelterCoben, Harlan
16The Way We FallCrewe, Megan
17Little BrotherDoctorow, Cory
18The Prisoner of Cell 25: Michael VeyEvans, Richard Paul
19The HuntFukuda, Andrew
20Mister Death's Blue Eyed GirlsHahn, Mary Downing
21172 Hours on the MoonHarstad, Johan
22Skyship Academy: The Pearl WarsJames, Nick
23The Name of the StarJohnson, Maureen
24InsigniaKincaid, S.J.
25The VindicoKing, Wesley
26StormdancerKristoff, Jay
27False MemoryKrokos, Dan
28Blood NinjaLake, Nick
29MothershipLeicht, Martin
30Every You, Every MeLevithan, David
31I Hunt KillersLyga, Barry
32Finnikin on the RockMarchetta, Melina
33Carnival of SoulsMarr, Melissa
34The Boy RecessionMeaney, Flynn
35Fair CoinMyer, E.C.
36The Darkness Shows the StarsPeterfreund, Diana
37ErebosPoznanski, Ursula
38Tokyo HeistRenn, Diana
39Boyfriends With GirlfriendsSanchez, Alex
40Au Revoir, Crazy European ChickSchreiber, Joh
41The Marbury LensSmith, Andrew
42Statistical Probability of Love at First SightSmith, Jennifer
43Quaranteen: The LonersThomas, Lex
44TOMO: An Anthology of Japan Teen StoriesThompson, Holly ed.
45The UnnaturalsitsTrent, Tiffany
46The ListVivian, Siobhan
47Blood Red RoadYoung, Moira
48Freshman Year & Other Unnatural DisastersZeitlin, Meredith
49Lost CodeEmerson, Kevin

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Audio Book Review: Unbreakable

Unbreakable (The Legion #1) 
By Kami Garcia
Story: ***
Narration: **

“You guys showed up in my bedroom out of nowhere, shot my cat with a gun that looked like something from a video game, and told me that a demon’s trying to kill me. Want to explain how you could possibly know that?” 
Jared looked over at me. “Because our family has been fighting his army for over two hundred years.” --Kami Garcia, Unbreakable 
Oh the melodrama! How the mere sight of a bit of skin or the breath of a touch can send young Kennedy's heart into palpitations! She's in the middle of a fight against a demon, but she's consumed with thoughts of boys (Twins! One dark and broody, one kind and sensitive!). She's being dragged along with a group of teens who make her feel welcome and part of the family, and yet she feels like she doesn't belong! Our hero and our heroine shoulder the blame for everything, even things they had no control over! It really didn't help that I was listening to the audio version of the book and holy-angst-Batman! it was read with that breathy woe-is-me voice throughout and I just couldn't take it.

Pros: Cool sort of treasure hunt to find the pieces of a mysterious artifact that's supposed to help them in the fight against evil. Puzzles to solve and a quest!

Awesome 15-year-old inventor kid nicknamed Priest.

Ghost busting.

Cons: See first paragraph ;)

Too much angst and melodrama.

Love triangle, particularly one where the participants have known each other less than a week.

This book had a lot of potential. I think if there had been more focus on the quest and ghost busting and less on the luurrve triangle, and that the icky-love-stuff had time to believably develop, this book would have been much better.

Bonus(?) factor: Wincesters! I love me some Supernatural, and Unbreakable seems influenced by that world. Jared resembles the Dean character and Lucas resembles Sam, more so in the beginning at least. Luckily for the characters in this book, they don't have to salt and burn the bodies to get rid of the ghosts! Unfortunately for them, Sam and Dean never fought over the same woman, and these poor saps do.