Ani's Book Abyss

Ani's Book Abyss

I like to read. A lot.

Review
3.5 Stars
Thoughts: Leviathan
Leviathan  - Scott Westerfeld, Alan Cumming

Leviathan

by Scott Westerfeld
audio book narrated by Alan Cumming
Book 1 of Leviathan

 

 

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run.  His own people have turned on him.  His title is worthless.  All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service.  She's a brilliant airman.  But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way… taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.



I wish I could say that this book was a wonderfully amazing read... but the truth is, it didn't really quite pick up until about midway through.  It's an intriguing world that Westerfeld has introduced us to, this alternate reality in Europe at the cusp of World War I.  In this alternate reality, rather than the Central Powers and the Allied Powers, we have the Clankers and the Darwinists, respectively.  The same countries make up these two fictional groups as the real life ones they are based on.  Westerfeld's new twist in this steampunk fantasy, however, is to give the new technologies an interesting spin.

The Darwinists are so called because of their advanced sciences in DNA experimentation with animals, somehow being able to fabricate beasts into fighting machines during wartime.  The Clankers, in contrast, have built "diesel-driven iron machines" as their weapons of war--mechanized walkers that kept giving me images of a less sleek, more clanky version of Gundam fighters of anime fame.  Obviously they are not the same thing, as the one walker we get introduced to is a gigantic mechanism housing pilots, engineers, guns... much like a walking battleship or something.

Meanwhile, the truth is, it certainly took me a bit of progression into the story before I realized that the British side of the war were using fabricated animals as weapons and transport... and were called Darwinists.  After the introduction of the Leviathan airship, I should have figured that out, but for some strange reason, it didn't click.

The Leviathan's body was made from the life threads of a whale, but a hundred other species were tangled into its design, countless creatures fitting together like the gears of a stopwatch.  Flocks of fabricated birds swarmed around it--scouts, fighters, and predators to gather food.  Deryn saw message lizards and other beasties scampering across its skin.


It certainly made more sense as to why Deryn continuously referred to the flying machine she was piloting as "Beastie."  And also why she spoke to the Huxley (which I later learned was some sort of jellyfish-like flying contraption) the way that she did.  On the other hand, the Clanker side of technology made a bit more sense, even if the story line following Prince Aleksander was a bit lackluster in comparison to Deryn's side of the narrative.

I'm guessing either it was my lack of imagination, or the fact that I only really passively paid attention as the book was narrated to me.  Then I discovered that the print book itself actually has illustrations, and the Leviathan airship does, indeed, have the likeness of a whale.  It's pretty cool, and now I'm contemplating at least getting the rest of the Kindle books to go with my audio book experience so I can at least look at pictures...

But nevertheless, once everything started making sense, I started enjoying myself a little bit more.

I'm also guessing that I had found it easy for my mind to wander because aside from Deryn and Aleksander (and maybe Count Volgar and Dr. Barlow), none of the other characters particularly stood out as significant.  In which case, I cared little for the other midshipmen who traveled in the Leviathan with Deryn, so while her interactions seemed fun, none of it really struck a cord with me until Dr. Barlow started getting more book time.  Meanwhile, Alek's interactions with Klopp and Volgar were somewhat lackluster as well, even though you kind of get more book time with the three of them together, which should have increased their significance greatly.  I just wanted to get back to Deryn's story whenever Alek's narration swung around.

Upon the ultimate meeting between Deryn and Alek that we'd been expecting since the beginning, the story finally started picking up.  I'm almost sure that this had a lot to do with the fact that a lot of the side characters were delegated to the background and didn't really come to life for me.  I can count on one hand the number of characters I recall that really meant anything to me at all as a contribution to this book's story.

Nonetheless, Leviathan slowly grew to be a rather creative world.  I'm not as familiar with the timeline and events of World War I as I probably should be outside of a lot of superficial tidbit information.  I'm considering re-educating myself just to see if I can pinpoint where fact and fiction in these books connect and diverge...  That's just a thought though.

On a side note, at the end of the book, Scott Westerfeld himself gives an afterward about some of the differences between his fictional fantasy version versus the real events in history.  It was an interesting bit of knowledge that continues to spark my interest.

I'm also not as familiar with steampunk fantasy novels, as they've never been the type of books I've picked up in the past.  So this is a rather new experience for me as well.

On a final note, this book, I think was made a bit more enjoyable via Alan Cumming's narration, though I'm not opposed to admitting that it would have been less confusing had I maybe read it as a print book, illustrations and all.  This will teach me to pay more attention to the narrator in the next two books, I guess.  Though, for future reference for anyone else, maybe this book was meant to be read as a print novel instead of listened to as an audio book.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/thoughts-leviathan.html
BookLikes Snakes and Ladders | Dice Roll #7 & #8... and a SNAKE!

Well, it took slightly longer than I'd anticipated to finish reading Slightly Shady, but I'm still making good progress, I think.  Real life socializing DOES tend to put a dent in the reading life, but it's well worth it to see old friends again and enjoy a night of just hanging out.

 

 

 

BookLikes Snakes and Ladders



My next roll snagged me an 11, taking me to Square 57: 'Was published more than 50 years ago', and the only book I could think of immediately was the one sitting on my physical shelf right now, The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I'd been wanting to read anyway... but then I was going through my other lists and found that apparently, one of the books I'd been hoarding will fit right in!

 


Mary Stewart's Thunder on the Right was published in 1957.  So if I did my math right, that was 62 years ago, and so the book fits.  I'm inserting this one and moving onto my next dice roll.

 


Moving forward 8 spaces... I end up on Square 65: 'Snake - go back to 52.'  But that's okay.  It wasn't a long snake and I had gained a roll by inserting a previously hoarded read book.  I'm still making great progress.

Meanwhile, Square 52 says: 'Has a tree or flower on the cover.'

I went through a bunch of my Kindle books that are also historical fiction and found a couple that wold work.  So, in order to knock out two reading challenge prompts, I'm choosing to read The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin.  I've been meaning to get back to this series after reading the first book, so this is a wonderful opportunity, even it wasn't a book I'd thought to include in my Reading Assignment selections.

So off we go!

 

 

Currently Reading

 

 

 

Books Read Pending Square Selection

 

 

 

My Progress


Dates for each dice roll corresponds with respective update post.
Book titles link to reviews if written.
Completed books' covers (read and used for squares) following table.

 

Date Dice Roll Square/Prompt Book Title / Author Fits Square?
02/20
na
1.  Author is a woman Sweet Release by Pamela Clare Yes
02/22 (#1)
(2 + 4)
6
7.  Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D. Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare Yes
02/24 (#2)
(2 + 3)
5
12.  Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z. SEAL for Her Protection by Paige Tyler Yes
02/27 (#3)
(2 + 4)
6
18.  Set in a school Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger Yes
03/09 (#4)
(4 + 5)
9
27.  Set during WWI or WWII Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Yes
03/12 (#5)
(5 + 6)
11
38.  Newest release by a favorite author Untouchable by Jayne Ann Krentz Yes
03/12 (#6) (3 + 5)
8
46.  A book that has been on your tbr for more than two years Slightly Shady by Amanda Quick Yes
03/16 (#7)
(5 + 6)
11
57.  Was published more than 50 years ago Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart Yes
03/16 (#8)
(4 + 4)
8
65. Snake - go back to 52 n/a n/a
03/16
snake
52.  Has a tree or flower on the cover The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin Yes
TBA
TBA
     
TBA
TBA
     

 

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/booklikes-snakes-and-ladders-dice-roll_16.html
Reading Update for Furry Logic | Chapter 3
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher, Matin Durrani

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life

by Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher


Chapter 3: Fluids: When Things Get Stickier

Chapter 3 of Furry Logic started off pretty strong, but I think I lost my way around the aerodynamics section of the fluids topic.  Not that it all wasn't very interesting, but I found myself more drawn to talk of the pond skaters walking on water, and the dwarf seahorses hunting copepods.  The latter half of the chapter found the debate on the bumblebee's impossible flying capabilities to be amusing, as well.

While still kind of tacky in some aspects, I think the humor is starting to grow on me, as I chuckled a few times on two or three different occasions, even as I rolled my eyes.  I particularly found the study of how quickly certain animals emptied their bladder quite fun, as it truly does "make people laugh, and then make them think."  I surely would have never thought that calculating how quickly animals urinate could be so thought-provoking.  Though as the book states, an animal in the wild needs to do the deed quickly as it's a rather vulnerable position, and the last thing it wants is to get jumped while relieving itself.

The transition in this chapter from liquid to gas, and from one animal to another, was a bit easier to follow than the transitions in the previous chapters, though it didn't escape my notice that it somehow still felt like two different topics.  Nonetheless, this was quite an enjoyable chapter and I really learned a lot of new things.

Finally, I leave you all with two things I found that tickled me in this chapter.

This quote, because it made me snort:

Flap your hand about underwater at the swimming pool and you'll feel the water push back.  Flap your hand in the air in the changing room and all you'll feel is disapproval.



And these photos, because, well Bumbledore...

 

 

... another old term for bees and noisy insects, the dumbledore, gave its name to the music-loving headmaster in a series of books about a schoolboy wizard...


Is that right...?

 



Obviously my take away from this book may be a little juvenile different from everyone else...

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/reading-update-for-furry-logic-chapter-3.html
Review
4 Stars
Thoughts: Etiquette & Espionage
Etiquette & Espionage  - Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage

by Gail Carriger
Book 1 of Finishing School

 

 

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly.  It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time.  Welcome to Finishing School.


Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother.  Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy.  Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady.  So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped.  At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish... everything.  Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course.  Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.



This was an absurdly fun read with a lovely, humorous narration, as well as an interestingly created steampunk world!  I would totally count this towards my Reading Assignment challenge as well, except that I started reading it in February.  Darn...

I don't read a whole lot of steampunk, if only because I've never really had much exposure to them, but after this book, I might find myself exploring the genre more often.  Or at least, I know I'll be reading more from this particular series, and maybe even from this author.  I understand that Finishing School actually takes place in a world that Carriger created in another series, so I may pick up those books as well.

But meanwhile, I'm finding that Etiquette & Espionage stands out very well on it's own!

Sophronia wanted to say something about the prototype, but she knew when she was being dismissed.  She bobbed a curtsy.  "Thank you, my lady."

Lady Linette winced.  "Miss Temminneck, arrange after-hours lessons with Professor Braithwope, do.  We really must work on that curtsy of yours, dear."

"But I have advanced eyelash fluttering to practice, and a mathematics problem concerning how to order strychnine and a lamb dinner on a limited budget, and three chapters on court etiquette to read, and my handkerchief to starch, and the quadrille to memorize!"

"No one said learning etiquette and espionage would be easy, my dear."


While extremely entertaining as a whole, the book had started off a little slow, but that was to be expected considering all the introductions to the world, the finishing school, and to Sophronia, that needed to be made.  The first half of the book involved a lot of set-up, but fortunately, we even have a tiny mystery going on in the background, and some rather over-the-top comedic antics by almost all of our characters.

I had been expecting a darker setting, with the lessons on dealing death, and fighting vampires and werewolves, but the book kept to it's more comedic, nonsensical tone.  Supposing that this book is geared more towards a middle grade age, that makes a lot of sense, though I had expected a more mature voice until I remembered that Sophronia and friends are only around thirteen or fourteen years old.

And, my, what characters!  A little deliberate in execution, and somewhat more juvenile than I'd expected, as I mentioned, but I absolutely loved all the strange little quirks each character had.  I was only disappointed that some of the side characters weren't fleshed out just a little bit more, or that Sophronia's attempts at using the skills she's learned were less than graceful, to be frank.

There also appear to be a few loose ends here and there with a few of the side tangents.

And still, I had tons of fun reading this book and will certainly be moving onto the next book.  I'd just love to see more from the side characters such as Vieve, Soap, Pillover, and even Professor Braithwope.  I imagine we'll expand more on Sophronia's friendships as the series progresses?  Because that would be so very excellent.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/thoughts-etiquette-espionage.html
BookLikes Snakes and Ladders | Dice Roll #5 & #6

Well, lookie at that!  Looks like I finished listening to the rest of Leviathan in record time after all!  A little bit of multi-tasking, a little bit of being completely and utterly lazy while I played some mobile games and passively listened to an audio book...  It also helped that the book itself picked up quite a bit after that midway point.

And now here I am, onto the next dice roll, and moving up in the Snakes and Ladders world!

Fortunately, my newest square means that I'm safe from a snake for the next roll, at least, even though I also won't hit a ladder.

I've also increased the size of Dino Baby's marker, since I felt it was a good idea.

 

 

 

BookLikes Snakes and Ladders



My next dice roll got me an 11, so I happily missed another snake head and landed on Square 38: 'Newest release by a favorite author.'  In which case, I'm doing a happy dance, because I just finished reading Untouchable by Jayne Ann Krentz less than a day ago!

 


Am I lucky or what?  Untouchable is definitely JAK's newest release this year, with one of her other books (written as Amanda Quick) not slated to release until May 2019.  It must be kismet or something, because I'd just gotten this book via library loan after waiting on a hold for some time, and told myself to get it read first, both because I wanted to get back to focusing on other books, and because I needed a slight break from historical novels.

With my continued devouring of Jayne Ann Krentz, my mission to read all of JAK's booklist, as ready I usually am to pick up another one of her books, I think it's safe to say that she's one of my favorite authors.

And so I got to roll a second time and got an 8, taking me from Square 38 to Square 46: 'A book that has been on your tbr for more than two years.'  Well, technically, this could be just about any book I've read, or am reading, or might have already read, since my TBR has been a mountain high for a very long time now.

 


Unfortunately, no immediate third roll for me, because the other books I've hoarded for future use during this game have only recently been added to my TBR.

Even though I've been reading Pamela Clare's contemporary work for years now, I never actually found myself drawn to her historical romances until just last year when I decided to add more historical fiction to my reading list.  And Thunder on the Right had been picked up quite randomly about two month ago at the library.

So... I'm choosing to use Slightly Shady by Amanda Quick, which I'd just started reading, and which will count because I've had almost all of Amanda Quick's books on my TBR since the first book I read of hers back in 2016.  Slightly Shady was no exception.

And because it's an Amanda Quick book, the next roll will probably come around pretty quickly.  =D

And now excuse me as I finally roll into bed, way past my bed time.  I need to learn to have a better sense of respect for sleep, but I just got too excited to finish this post.  So here it is.

 

 

Currently Reading

 

 

 

Books Hoarded Read For Future Square Use

 

 

 

My Progress


Dates for each dice roll corresponds with respective update post.
Book titles link to reviews if written.
Completed books' covers (read and used for squares) following table.

 

Date Dice Roll Square/Prompt Book Title / Author Fits Square?
02/20
na
1.  Author is a woman Sweet Release by Pamela Clare Yes
02/22 (#1)
(2 + 4)
6
7.  Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D. Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare Yes
02/24 (#2)
(2 + 3)
5
12.  Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z. SEAL for Her Protection by Paige Tyler Yes
02/27 (#3)
(2 + 4)
6
18.  Set in a school Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger Yes
03/09 (#4)
(4 + 5)
9
27.  Set during WWI or WWII Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Yes
03/12 (#5)
(5 + 6)
9
38.  Newest release by a favorite author Untouchable by Jayne Ann Krentz Yes
03/12 (#6) (3 + 5)
8
46.  A book that has been on your tbr for more than two years Slightly Shady by Amanda Quick Yes
TBA
TBA
     
TBA
TBA
     
TBA
TBA
     

 

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/booklikes-snakes-and-ladders-dice-roll.html
BookLikes Snakes and Ladders | Dice Roll #4

Well, it seems that I'm lagging behind a bit in this game, still hovering at the beginning of the board, though at least I'm on the third row now.  I was never lucky with this game when I was younger, though in truth, we played it as 'Chutes and Ladders', so I was hoping my cruddy luck with that version wouldn't roll over to this version.  But alas!  No ladders yet, and apparently I'm taking my sweet time with reading my books.

And then, as I'd mentioned before, I'm stubborn enough to search out specific books that will fit each square's prompt... at least until I can't.  I will rue the day I land on '95. Memoir' or '56. Published more than 100 years ago.'  I don't have immediate possibilities for these squares... not that I couldn't find them.  It's stuff like 'someone travels by plane,' or 'someone travels by train,' that may take a bit more research.

Anyway, I've finished reading two other books that I'm saving for possible future squares.  It's entirely possible, they'll just end up being used for the sake of being used.

And so here's the next update, now that I've finished reading Etiquette & Espionage!  A lovely book that took place in an elongated dirigible of a finishing school.  This book was so much fun!  I will have a review out soon.

 

 

 

BookLikes Snakes and Ladders



My next roll got me a 9, bringing me to Square 28: 'Set during WWI or WWII.'

 


I'm... going to take some liberties with this one.  Since this isn't a very restrictive game, I'm going to go ahead and insert Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld into this square.  Leviathan is an alternate reality steampunk fantasy that takes place during World War I.  Or at least it seems that World War I is brewing as the book progresses.

Of course, my only disadvantage is that I'm currently listening to this as an audio book, which usually takes me longer to finish than print books do.  Although truthfully, I'm not really too concerned with that, as I'll probably have hoarded a few more books to insert into future squares I may land on by then.  Then maybe I can just roll about three or four times in a row.  And also, I'm already halfway through the book and things are starting to get interesting (finally), so maybe I'll finish it earlier than I think I'd first thought.

 

 

Currently Reading

 

 

 

Books Hoarded Read For Future Square Use

 

 

 

My Progress


Dates for each dice roll corresponds with respective update post.
Book titles link to reviews if written.
Completed books' covers (read and used for squares) following table.

 

 

Date Dice Roll Square/Prompt Book Title / Author Fits Square?
02/20
na
1.  Author is a woman Sweet Release by Pamela Clare Yes
02/22 (#1)
(2 + 4)
6
7.  Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D. Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare Yes
02/24 (#2)
(2 + 3)
5
12.  Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z. SEAL for Her Protection by Paige Tyler Yes
02/27 (#3)
(2 + 4)
6
18. Set in a school Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger Yes
03/09 (#4)
(4 + 5)
9
27. Set during WWI or WWII Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Yes
TBA        
TBA        
TBA        

 

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/booklikes-snakes-and-ladders-dice-roll-4.html
Reading Update for Furry Logic | Chapter 2
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher, Matin Durrani

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life

by Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher


Chapter 2: Forces: The Big Push

It's interesting how much physics can be used to describe certain animal characteristics--stuff that you probably don't think much about if you were strictly a biologist.  As I've mentioned before, this book is pretty informative, and I found the sections about the gecko and the trap jaw ant the most engrossing.

Though while I'm finding this book an easy read, it doesn't escape my notice that the chapters meander a lot from one subject to another.  The subject transitions aren't exactly smooth, and I sometimes find myself a little lost.

Meanwhile, I found this tidbit the most interesting:

'When you squirt a gecko with water, the water just flies off,' says Stark.  'It's really hard to wet a gecko.  The toe-pads are superhydrophobic and you can see the water beaded on top.'  In extremely wet conditions, the same property that makes the water bead up creates small pockets of air around gecko feet, according to Stark.  'If you push a foot that's really water-repellent through water, you've now got an air bubble around that material so that when they press down they stay dry and can make that close contact still.'


I would love some of that gecko trait in my next rain coat, please.

Here's a bit of ScienceNews I stumbled across while doing a cursory search of gecko's and their water-repellent feet:  Here’s how geckos (almost) walk on water.  Just another fun little bit of gecko and lizard goodness!

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/reading-update-for-furry-logic-chapter-2.html
Review
3 Stars
Brief Thoughts: Thunder on the Right
Thunder on the Right - Mary Stewart

Thunder on the Right

by Mary Stewart

 

 

Artist Jennifer Silver has come to the picturesque, secluded Valley of the Storms in the French Pyrenees to meet with a young cousin who is about to enter the convent there — only to discover that the young woman has died in a dreadful car accident.  Or did she?

Lies abound in this strange and frightening place, but seeking the truth could lead Jennifer to her own violent death.



This was probably not the better of the Mary Stewart books I've previously read, though to be honest, I had chosen to read this book based on random accessibility, whereas I went out of my way to pick a couple of Stewart's more widely loved novels to begin with before this one.  The truth is, this book was sort of filled with a lot of over dramatic scenes as the book progressed, which is a pity since the premise, the introduction, and the writing were all excellent to begin with.

Meanwhile, the characters didn't really do much for me, nor did the barely existent romance.

I will say, this book had a great sense of forward movement, as there was action and anticipation almost at every scene's end, so there was no dallying in that respect.  This book started in on the story and just kept moving forward; coupled with the well-written, yet somewhat purple-y prose, it made for a rather easy to read experience.

Nonetheless, I don't think I've come across a Mary Stewart novel I didn't like, and this one is no different.  It may not have been her best, but it certainly was entertaining.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/brief-thoughts-thunder-on-right.html
Review
4 Stars
Brief Thoughts: Ride the Fire
Ride the Fire  - Pamela Clare

Ride the Fire

by Pamela Clare
Book 3 (final) of Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy

 

 

Sometimes survival isn't just about staying alive...

Widowed and alone on the frontier, Elspeth Stewart will do whatever it takes to protect herself and her unborn child from the dangers of the wilderness and of men.  Though her youthful beauty doesn't show it, she is broken and scarred from the way men have treated her.  So when a stranger wanders onto Bethie's land, wounded and needing her aid, she takes no risks, tying him to the bed and hiding his weapons before ministering to his injuries.

But Bethie's defenses cannot keep Nicholas Kenleigh from breaking down her emotional walls.  The scars on his body speak of a violent past, but his gentleness, warmth, and piercing eyes arouse longings in her that she never imagined she had.  As Nicholas and Bethie reveal to each other both their hidden desires and their tortured secrets, they discover that riding the flames of their passion might be the key to burning away the nightmare of their pasts.



Whether it was because of the non-stop action, or the survival story line, Ride the Fire ended up being my favorite of the three Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy books.  Nicholas ended up being my favorite of the three heroes presented in this trilogy.  Bethie, on the other hand, was really standard for a romance novel heroine, as a damsel in distress, and the kindhearted, innocent angel.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the romance in this book more than I did the previous two books.  In a way, the two main characters were more on equal footing at the beginning, with Bethie not knowing Nicholas's true identity, only knowing that he's a trapper and frontiersman.  Unlike the previous two books, there was no sense that one party had more power than the other, that one side was more subordinate to the other.  Aside from all the kept secrets, the two of them seemed to get along quite sincerely and honestly.

Meanwhile, Ride the Fire also seemed more like an adventurous journey, as we followed our main couple through the frontier towards the east back to safer ground, away from the wars and battles between the Indians, the frontiersmen, and the British army.

In spite of the book being first and foremost a romance, this was also quite fun to follow.  In a way, it also kind of reminded me of one of Pamela Clare's contemporary romantic suspense novels, Breaking Point, if only because the main couple spends a good chunk of time trying to survive the harsh wilderness while avoiding human predators.  And the danger just never seemed to let up.

As I'd stated the adventure part really drew me in, and to be frank, after the two reach civilization, the book kind of plateaus.  And the battle scenes were pretty well-outlined, to be honest.  The romantic angst might have been overdone a bit.  And finally, the ending managed to wrench some FEELS out of me.  The reunion scene between Nicholas and his family was all sorts of heart-warming--kudos!

I really, really enjoyed reading this book.  And a lot more of the typical Pamela Clare style is starting to shine through--at least what I'm familiar with from what I've already read of her books.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/brief-thoughts-ride-fire.html
Reading Update for Furry Logic | Intro and Chapter 1
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher, Matin Durrani

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life

by Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher


Introduction:  Furry Physics
Chapter 1: Heat: The Warm-Up Chapter

I've been swamped with books and some non-bookish activities lately, so I hadn't really had time to make any updates, even though I've been thinking about it.

Mainly, I'm finding that Furry Logic isn't too bad, reading-wise.  It's an extremely chatty book with some rather lame attempts at humor, but ultimately, it's quite informative.  Unlike some of the previous Flat Book Society reads, I like that this book is more focused on its subject, despite the outline being a little meandering.

Colleagues and other biologists, as well as other persons of interests are mentioned here and there, and their contribution to the subject at hand is talked about.  But the authors refrain from inserting too much of their own interpretations of these people's personal lives, which I appreciate.

Overall, I AM finding this book rather informative and easy to read.  The badly executed humor is probably the biggest of this book's problems.  Otherwise, I'm finding this book pretty interesting in some aspects.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/reading-update-for-furry-logic-intro.html
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? | 3/4/2019
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!

 

 

(This post should have gone up yesterday, but I had some trouble getting BookLikes to load.  I published it yesterday on my own blog, and thought about not bothering to transfer it over to BookLikes, but decided to do so anyway.  So here it is, a day late, but better late than never, right?)


This week's 'It's Monday?' is a bit lackluster, but that's just because there hasn't been a lot of activity outside of BookLikes Snakes and Ladders and a bit of reading.  I was hoping to have Thunder on the Right finished this past weekend, both because I need to have the book turned in within the next few days, and because I wanted to add it to my numbers of what I read last week.  But I got distracted.  I suspect I'll have the book finished by tonight, or tomorrow night at the latest, depending on how readily I let myself get distracted again--there isn't a whole lot left to read, but I've got some non-reading plans and activities going on, drat them.

Meanwhile, I started reading a whole slew of books, so I figure I'd finish those eventually and feel much more productive!

 

 

What I Read Last Week

 

 

 

What I'm Currently Reading

 

 

 

What I'm Planning to Read Next

 

 

 

Other Plans On the Blog


So, I highly doubt that I'll actually be starting any new reads this coming week, what with my little line-up of current reads.  But the proposed three books above are what I'm looking at next on my list.  After I finish Thunder on the Right, I'm determined to focus on Etiquette & Espionage--of which I've enjoyed the first two chapters and am eager to slide back into it.  Furry Logic seems an easy to read book and I have no complaints about it so far, outside of it being a bit chatty with some rather lame attempts at jokes, but otherwise, it's been quite informative.  Unfortunately, as a non-fiction book, I usually have to take those in small doses as I read.

I will have one review ready to post soon, and if I can finish Etiquette & Espionage in a timely manner, I get to roll again for BookLikes Snakes and Ladders!  I'm totally looking forward to that.  Otherwise, that's about it for this coming week, and maybe as each of my current reads drop off my list, I'll have more reviews ready to go.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/its-monday-what-are-you-reading-342019.html
Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- February 2019

Ahh...  February was a great month for reading.  More in tune with my usual numbers, even if not quite there yet.  I'm super happy about that especially since there was at least one book that was kind of slow going, and a lot of side distractions.  But with BookLikes Snakes and Ladders starting up, it makes a person want to finish books so what you can roll again for a new prompt.

The excitement is real!

In other news, we are done hosting my brothers doggy at our home, and after three weeks, Yogi will be going home.  I've become a little attached to him, so I'm really going to miss having him around the house.

I suppose we'll just have to visit at some point in the future, though that'll take some vacation planning since they live in a different state.

 


At least Baby can stop being jealous now.

 

 

February Reads

 

 

 

Books Dropped/Put On Hold

 

DROPPED

 

 

Currently Reading

 

 

 

February Reading Stats

 

Total works read: 11

  • 11 print/e-book novels


Average rating: 3.41 Stars

  • Highest Rated:  3 books // 4.0 Stars
    • (1) Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
    • (2) Lie by Moonlight by Amanda Quick
    • (3) Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare
  • Lowest Rated:  SEAL for Her Protection by Paige Tyler // 2.0 Stars


Series I started reading:

  • Copper Ridge by Maisey Yates
  • Nikolai duology by Leigh Bardugo
  • SEALs of Coronado by Paige Tyler

 

Series I completed:

  • Vanza by Amanda Quick
  • Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy by Pamela Clare

 

Series I have made progress on:

  • Cormoran Strike by Robert Galbraith
  • Discworld by Terry Pratchett


Favorite reads:  The truth is, I didn't have any overly favorite books for February, but I did find a few particular books extra enjoyable, so I'm going with that.  The last books of the two series I finished this month, Lie by Moonlight by Amanda Quick, and Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare were exceptionally likable.  And I also enjoyed King of Scars, Lethal White, and Equal Rites.

Disappointing reads:  I was more or less disappointed with King of Scars as well, if only because I might have over-hyped myself and it wasn't what I'd expected.  I could probably say the same of SEAL for Her Protection, but to be honest, I didn't know what to expect from it.  Then there was Wicked Widow by Amanda Quick, which, despite having some of the usual Amanda Quick charm, wasn't exactly her best in work.

 

 

Reviews & Notable Posts

 

Reviews Written

 

Memes

 

Other Posts

 

 

Coming Up In March

 

Tentative TBR

 

 

 

Other Stuff

I haven't decided all the books I'll be reading in March yet, but the above are fairly certain.  One, because I just checked out Untouchable from the e-book library, so it will get read.  Two books for my Amanda Quick / Professor AuthorLuv Reading Assignment reads.  And two historical books chosen so far for the Professor Genre Reading Assignment reads.  I'm considering employing a random book draw for the last of the Professor Genre historical picks... mainly because I have at least three books I'm interested in reading and I can't seem to decide which one.

But, that's right!  We've got BookLikes Snakes and Ladders going, so obviously I'll be able to employ the game to help me choose what book to read next, right?  At least I hope so.

Lots of plans for this month including continuous updates for BL-SnL, continued 'It's Monday!' updates, and a few reviews being drafted and planned for posting.

I think I'm getting back into the groove of blogging, and I certainly hope this lasts for some time!

 

 

2018 Wrap-Ups 

 

Past Monthly Reading Wrap Ups (2016 / 2017)
See Also: 2015 Reading Wrap-Up posts (scroll to bottom of page)

(updated as year progresses by month)
January | February | March | April | May | June
July | August | September | October | November | December

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/monthly-reading-wrap-up-february-2019.html
Review
2 Stars
Brief Thoughts: SEAL for Her Protection
SEAL for Her Protection (SEALs of Coronado Book 1) - Paige Tyler

SEAL for Her Protection

by Paige Tyler
Book 1 of SEALs of Coronado

 

 

He saved her from the danger once before.  Can he save her again, this time from danger he doesn't even see coming?

When investigative journalist Hayley Garner is kidnapped by terrorists, she's sure they're going to kill her.  But in sweeps handsome Navy SEAL Chasen Ward to rescue her.  After getting her to safety, he disappears into the night before she can even thank him.

Weeks later, while covering a story on the local navy base, Hayley runs into Chasen again.  Even though she didn't see his face that night he rescued her, she can't forget his beautiful blue eyes.

The attraction is immediate and intense, and Hayley finds herself falling into a fiery romance with the hunky hero out of her dreams.  Guys like this aren’t supposed to really exist, but Chasen does, and damn is he hot.

But ever since she got back home, Hayley has had the feeling someone's been watching her.  Is it post-traumatic stress or does she have a reason to be afraid?  Good thing she has a Navy SEAL to protect her.



So... this wasn't the Romantic Suspense slash Contemporary Romance I'd been anticipating, especially after having already read some books by Paige Tyler and enjoying them a lot.  And the truth is, obviously I wasn't really sure what exactly I'd been expecting.

Honestly, this book was kind of boring.  The romance was kind of juvenile (I know there is sexy times, but that doesn't mean it can't come off juvenile), and also kind of banal.  There were details of Hayley and Chasen's first date that felt unnecessary, down to all the smoldering looks and the whole "I know and understand your thoughts just by looking into your gorgeous eyes" development.  Oh yes, and the exact descriptions of what the two were eating, drinking, and wearing.  Maybe I'm just not as romantic as I should be, seeing as I'm a hopeless romantic for fictional romance novels...

The the plot circled back to the Romantic Suspense part of the story and started getting kind of convoluted by the end hour scenes...  I totally didn't see that surprise twist coming, and I'm not sure I really liked it or felt it was necessary.  Although it DID add some intrigue to the book, if only the build up had been a bit more on par with the sudden turn of events.  To be honest, it felt kind of out of place, and, in contrast, the main conflict seemed a bit rushed in its resolution.

So be it.  This was a short enough read that I got through it rather quickly and painlessly.  Paige Tyler's writing isn't terrible and I've enjoyed other books by her, as I've mentioned above.  There's always bound to be one I may not like, right?

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/02/brief-thoughts-seal-for-her-protection.html
Review
3.5 Stars
Some Thoughts: Carnal Gift
Carnal Gift - Pamela Clare

Carnal Gift

by Pamela Clare
Book 2 of Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy

 

 

"I expect you to show my friend just how grateful you are.  Your willingness is everything.”

With those harsh words, the hated Sasanach earl decided Bríghid's fate.  Her body and her virginity were to be offered up to a stranger in exchange for her brother's life.  Possessing nothing but her innocence and her fierce Irish pride, she had no choice but to comply.

But the handsome man she faced in the darkened bedchamber was not at all the monster she expected.  His green eyes seemed to see inside her.  His tender touch calmed her fears while he swore he would protect her by only pretending to claim her.  And as the long hours of the night passed by, as her senses ignited at the heat of their naked flesh, she made a startling discovery: Sometimes the line between hate and love can be dangerously thin.



Carnal Gift wasn't much different from Sweet Release in terms of angst and content matter, to be honest.  While the story was quite different, we didn't stray far from the whole formula of the villain wanting to force the heroine into bed with him, and the hero being the hero and saving the heroine's life over and over again.  Meanwhile, we also revisit the whole "hero and heroine are forbidden to be together" device, although this time around, I think that the romance faced more tangible barriers based on law and religion, and other societal and cultural conflicts.  In contrast, Sweet Release needed only to prove that Alec Kenleigh was Alec Kenleigh and all was well, and Happily Ever After.

That doesn't mean that I didn't see the similarities in the two story lines, which made it a little hard to enjoy this book as much as I was maybe meant to.  It didn't escape my notice that this book (and now that I think about it, even Sweet Release), seemed to be written in an "epic saga romance" type of light.  The truth is, I'm not sure if it managed to do that.

On the other hand, it's not like I didn't enjoy this book.  Pamela Clare's writing has this way of pulling you right in.  Whether it's her writing style or just that sense of righteousness that emanates from her main characters, I always find that I can't put her books down.  I DID love the detail given to the Gaelic culture and history.  While some of it felt too deliberately placed, I still found some of it interesting.

Unfortunately, the characters didn't really do anything for me.  While I found young Jamie in the first book quite charming for a four year old boy, adult Jamie in this book is kind of a jackass.  Brighid was a typical standard damsel in distress, and I honestly don't have much to say about her.  Brighid's brothers weren't really all that likable, both because they never seemed to understand how much danger and trouble they were in, and put their own pride before everyone else's lives.  It was quite frustrating.

I liked Matthew and Elizabeth enough as the parental figures in the story, but they didn't really appear a whole lot.

Then there was the standard Pamela Clare repetitive exposition fairy conversations that I've gotten used to seeing in many of her books.  Her characters just can't seem to help but to keep talking about the events that occurred to everyone they come across.  These don't really bug me as much, but I found it interesting that this wasn't really a thing in Sweet Release.

Still, I was entertained and found myself finishing the book pretty quickly.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/02/some-thoughts-carnal-gift.html
BookLikes Snakes and Ladders | Dice Roll #3

Well... I hadn't expected to finish reading SEAL for Her Protection so quickly, but it was a pretty bite-sized book, just barely crossing the 200 page line.  According to my Kindle edition, it's noted at 234 pages, but the book actually ends at 217 pages... although Goodreads lists it as 208 pages.  Either way, it's more than 200 pages, so I'm going to make it count.  Especially since finishing it so quickly had nothing to do with it being any good... quite the opposite, really, but we'll get to that in my review at a later time.

 

 

BookLikes Snakes and Ladders



Meanwhile, my next roll landed me on Square 18: "Set in a school."

 


To tell you all the truth, I wasn't all that thrilled to land on this square, because the only kind of books I can think of guaranteed to take place in a school are either YA books or New Adult.  I don't read New Adult, and I wasn't feeling any desire to read YA.  I thought for sure that I'd have to just give in and read any random book from my "set reading list of the moment," and then just roll one die afterward.

But never let it be known that I'm not too stubborn for my own good!  I actually found TWO books I'd be interested in reading.  Unfortunately, my first choice, Broken Girls by Simone St. James, isn't really available to me at the moment unless I want to dish out $11.99 for the Kindle edition.  I'm not sure any e-book is ever worth that kind of money... even if I've dished out that kind of cash for e-books in the past.  But I was super excited that Broken Girls sounded like it took place in a school, only to be disappointed that I had no access... and I'm not likely to wait for library availability before moving on, because I NEEDZ to roll again!

 


So in my continued stubborn quest to find another possible book, I stumbled across Gail Carriger's Etiquette & Espionage and found the stirrings of interest hitting me.  Young Adult book though it is, I think I like the idea of the basis of this "finishing school" where young ladies "learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways."

I'll be starting Etiquette & Espionage as soon as I finish reading Ride the Fire, which is my first priority right now.  Meanwhile, I also need to finish reading Thunder on the Right because the book is due to be turned into the library pretty soon... and I'm sort of out of renewals.  Le sigh...  It might be a while before I get to roll again, but maybe I'll have at least two books in my arsenal for future use!

 

 

Currently Reading

 

 

 

 

Books Read Pending Square Selection


None yet.

 

 

My Progress


Dates for each dice roll corresponds with respective update post.
Book titles link to reviews if written.
Completed books' covers (read and used for squares) following table.

 

Date Dice Roll Square/Prompt Book Title / Author Fits Square?
02/20
na
1.  Author is a woman Sweet Release by Pamela Clare Yes
02/22
(2 + 4)
6
7.  Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D. Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare Yes
02/24
(2 + 3)
5
12.  Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z. SEAL for Her Protection by Paige Tyler Yes
02/27
(2 + 4)
6
18. Set in a school Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger Yes

 

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/02/booklikes-snakes-and-ladders-dice-roll-3.html
Review
3.5 Stars
Some Thoughts: Sweet Release
Sweet Release  - Pamela Clare

Sweet Release

by Pamela Clare
Book 1 of Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy

 

 

For five pounds in cash, the convict was hers. Though Cassie hated the slave trade, her Virginia plantation demanded the labor, and she knew this fevered man would surely die if she left him.  But as his wounds healed and his muscled chest bronzed in the sun, Cassie realized Cole Braden was far more dangerous than his papers had indicated—for he could steal her breath with a glance and lay siege to her senses with a touch.

Abducted, beaten, and given a new name, Alec went from master of an English shipbuilding empire to fourteen years of indentured servitude in the American colonies.  There, he was known as Cole Braden, a convicted ravisher and defiler of women.  And while he longed to ravish the auburn-haired beauty who owned him, he knew his one hope of earning her love—and his freedom—was to prove his true identity.  Only then could he turn the tables and attain his ... Sweet Release.



Pamela Clare books never cease to be addictive for me because of the fact that they're often well-written and contain a lot of heart.  I'm more familiar with Pamela's contemporary series, and will usually devour them in one read through.

Sweet Release was no exception, although there were some parts where I wished the book would either get on with it, or stop creating so much added drama towards the end--a lot of the ending felt a bit deliberate in creating more suspense than necessary.  I feel like, maybe a whole lot more went on in this book than was actually necessary.  And while I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this book and got hooked, I really didn't have any strong feelings towards the two main characters, one way or another.

I DID feel like Cassie was more shrill than I liked, and was inconsistent in her behavior.  Some moments she would show some backbone and stand up for what she believed in, other times she would back down and let others walk all over her.  It got frustrating, and it's not like I expected her to HAVE too much of a backbone and stand up to the men in the book--this is a historical taking place in the 1700s after all where women were treated no better than chattel, and any kind of attempt at back talk or expressing opinions either got belittled or reprimanded.  But I still wish she could have been a bit more consistent.

Alec had his moments, but came off a bit of an ass.

In contrast, I loved all the background characters much more than the main characters.

This is probably the first time I've read a historical taking place during this time frame, set in the Americas when slavery was so prominent.  I can't say one way or another whether the historical aspects were handled properly or accurately (history was never my best subject), but it certainly managed to bring to surface how terrible people were treated, based on class, gender, and race.

Story wise, I was truly only interested in finding out how Alec would reclaim his real identity, though it didn't take a lot of sleuthing to know who was behind his abduction in the first place.  The rest of the story got super angsty, and even the main villain of the story felt kind of comic.

Overall, this could have been a better book, even if I DID get hooked into it and finished it in pretty much one sitting.

 

 

Source: http://anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/02/some-thoughts-sweet-release.html

currently reading

Progress: 43%
The Dragon and the Pearl - Jeannie Lin