March Reading Log

March saw me reading 8 books, two on audiobook, and the rest as ebooks. I’d be lying if I said I thought I would read more. I spent almost all of March down with various illness, which all culminated in surgery on March 23rd to remove my gall bladder, appendix, and an appendage off my lower intestine. I spent most of the month not feeling up to doing more than sleep. Eight books is still plenty, and it puts me ahead of my reading challenge by 11 books.

The Legend of the Blue Eyes – B. Kristin McMichael

Bookbub brought me this one. I was bored, so I decided to pull this out of the to-read. I liked it well enough that I bought the rest of the trilogy.

When Arianna turns 16, she finds out she’s a vampire. Well, a dearg-dul, which is pronounced… I don’t know. Also turns out she’s a Baku, which, judging from the books, is what the albino twins from the second Matrix movie were. She’s not supposed to be able to exist, yet she does. And apparently she’s part of a legend, which will unite or destroy all the night humans.

I can’t do the book justice, because I’m feeling a bit snarky for no good reason right now. I did very much enjoy this book. Arianna, like many heroines, didn’t ask to be born special. She only wanted to live out her life with her aunt and uncle, attending high school, helping out in the diner, and living life. But now she finds out she’s the heir to a dearg-dul clan, her grandfather wants her back in her life, and all the other clans view her as a prize. And to add to the problems, She’s a picky eater. Well, picky drinker.

The world is interesting and fairly well thought out, as are the variations of night humans, which the baku, dearg-dul, and others are. I had a lot of trouble keeping them straight to begin with, but it got better.

I didn’t like that Arianna felt almost instant love with Devin, a human member of her bodyguard team, as well as with Turner, a Lycan. They bat about that she’s to take 5 keepers, so it’s setting them up, but the quickly finding them perfect is annoying. Also, at the end of the book, there’s a fight/battle, and many people are injured and nearly killed. Arianna has been told her blood is extremely potent, and can help save people, but one person still dies. I know it’s because the plot demanded it, but they could have been saved, and it annoyed me.

Becoming a Legend – B. Kristin McMichael

Didn’t like this one quite as well as the first. Arianna spends a lot of time conflicted about loving her two keepers, Devin and Turner. She kind of blows hot and cold at Devin, which gets annoying. Turner is like a loyal dog. He loves her, will always love her, and he’ll always be there for her, but he’s not competing with Devin because he knows better.

She’s spending a few days a week back in her midwest town with her aunt and uncle, attending school there, and a few days at the manor. While she’s home with her friends, she finds out all of them already know about the night humans, and it’s no big deal. I found the easy way they dismissed her friends already knowing about the night humans to be too easy. “Oh yeah, we know all about them, we just didn’t get the genes to become them. You’re lucky.”

There’s also the bit with Andrew, a member of the baku clan, who’s stronger than the leader of the baku clan, but hides it since he doesn’t want his uncle to use him. You can tell he’s going to be important, and pretty soon Arianna has her third of 5 keepers for the legend. Andrew, aside from a bit of temper, seems almost too perfect and pretty. It gets kind of annoying, honestly.

Winning the Legend – B. Kristin McMichael

In this book, Arianna holds a competition to see who can earn a spot at her fiance. Night human law states that if she’s not engaged before she turns 17, the clans can enter a competition to fight to win her hand, or really, to win her like a prize. She’s found out about it in the last book, and in between the books has been training to try and win the competition herself.

The competition is probably my favorite part of this book. There are a bunch of different ways they compete: a track to run on, knife throwing, abstaining from blood, showing off their strengths, etc. Each one is detailed well, and interesting. In the end, Arianna plays the card that none of the competitors, except her people, know about. I wasn’t even expecting it, so I enjoyed it that much more when it was revealed.

I didn’t really like the sidhe King in the competition. He was delusional, but the sheer amount of crazy he was didn’t really set in until the very end. There weren’t a lot of hints he was truly crazy either. At the end, he really did think he’d just snap his fingers and Arianna would go away with him. No one had any idea he was going to do anything crazy either.

I also wasn’t wild about how the romantic pairings ended up. Throughout the book Arianna’s been torn between Devin the human and Andrew the baku. Turner and others aren’t even thought of if Devin or Andrew are involved. You know it’s down to them, and you have a pretty good idea of where it’s going. Then, a potential female for the losing guy is introduced. Near the end, said female must do “the thing” to save the spare male, and as a result, there’s a good chance they’re going to pair off. Unfortunately, I caught onto it the moment the female character was introduced, and to be honest, I didn’t really care for her. I know there’s a spin off, and I might give it a try to see if they work, but I’m not sure yet.

Emerge – Heather Sunseri

Another Bookbub offer. Set 20 minutes into the future, a plague has decimated the population of the planet. Some people are immune, but if you’re not, The Samael Plague, or Bad Sam, is 100% fatal.

Except to Christina.

She’s the only known survivor of Bad Sam. And as far as anyone but a few people know, she died of the disease. Since then, she’s shed her name, going by Cricket, and lives outside New Caelum, in and around a settlement nearby. She doesn’t trust New Caelum, which is the airtight, disease free city filled with the rich and powerful of what was once the United States. She’s also convinced they’re experimenting with Bad Sam, which is proven right when someone she knows from the city comes in search of her.

I liked this one quite a bit, it’s a different take on the usual “end of the world by virus.” Cricket isn’t one of the lucky immune, and she’s been changed by living through the experience. She’s scarred from the virus, and doesn’t trust the inhabitants of New Caelum. Even out on her own between the settlement she hangs out in, and the wilderness, she’s not at ease. This isn’t “I’m a special snowflake teehe.” This is a young adult who’s had a lot of trust broken, and isn’t going to throw it all away when someone she cares about comes back into her life.

The setting of the book and the people in it seem pretty beleivable, with the folks living outside New Caelum just wanting to be left alone, and the New Caelum residents feeling superior to the poor lost souls outside their city. There’s a little bit of tech that feels unlikely to me, like drugs to get someone to follow orders unquestioningly, but I’ll take it. While none of the teens in the book feels like a teenager, this is a post apocalyptic world they’re living in, so acting like a teen would probably get them killed.

Ops Files – Russell Blake

I read Jet by Russell Blake in January, and enjoyed it well enough. I wasn’t going to continue with the series, but when I saw the book that chronicles Maya’s life before becoming a Mossad operative, I picked it up. It’s a fairly fun and fast read.

Young Maya is at a checkpoint, working through her required service to the Israeli government, when an attack kills her friend. Determined to find out who is behind the attack, Maya spends her off time sneaking away from the checkpoint to find the attackers. Eventually she’s caught in a situation she can’t get out of, which leads to her being discovered by Mossad.

The book is very much like a Jason Bourne movie, the action comes quick and with explosions. It’s very much a spy action book, and in line with Jet and what I would guess would be the other books in the series. Lots of gun, spycraft, and all that. Maya is shown to be an intelligent woman who can think on her feet and get things done, which I like. Ultimately though, the amount of stuff you go through (through Maya’s eyes) in the book is exhausting, and a little predictable.

The Dragon Factory – Jonathan Maberry

I enjoyed Patient Zero, and the narrator of the book, so much I decided to continue on with the Joe Ledger series. This isn’t a series I think I would have read, but the audiobooks are enjoyable to me.

In this book, we deal with an extinction wave, genetically engineered evil geniuses, and the Nazis. It’s a lot of book. Cyrus Jackoby is setting up an Extinction wave to take out all the people he doesn’t like, and his twins, Hecate and Paris specialize in genetically altering humans to be super soldiers, and in making fantasy creatures. After receiving a video that shows men hunting a unicorn, Joe Ledger and his team have to find out what’s going on.

There’s a lot to this book, and for the most part, I really liked it. The remaining members of Echo Team from Patient Zero are in the book, and they’re as fun as ever. Mr. Church is enigmatic, Cobbler the cat makes an appearance, and Grace is there, kicking ass as always. Joe is full of smartass comments, and the plot of sufficiently involved to keep you thinking.

I think it falls apart at the end. Once the big climax at the end gets going, thinks get sloppy. There are a LOT of people to keep track of, and while you eventually find out what happens to everyone, they disappear for pages at a time, or do things that don’t make sense. For example, there’s an assassin in the book, he’s tasked with killing someone. The room is perfectly black, so he can’t see unless the victim fires a gun. No shots are fired, but eventually Alpha and Echo teams blow a hole in the wall. Assassin can now see in the dim light (and glow sticks the teams throw in), and is protected from getting fired upon. Perfect timing to shoot the victim, but he doesn’t. He waits until the end, when you’ve forgotten about him, to pop up and get his victim. I really didn’t like that, not just because I liked his victim, but also because I thought it was trite. So, the ending kind of ruined the book for me. Shame too, as the plot is fantastic.

The King of Plagues – Jonathan Maberry

Even though I was disappointed in the end of The Dragon Factory, I decided to keep going in the series. I’m glad I did, because characters from Patient Zero show up in this book, so we get some resolution.

Joe is in London when the oldest hospital there goes up in a fireball, killing almost 4000 people. He attaches to Barrier, the UK’s version of the DMS, to help then figure out what’s going on. While he’s working in London, Echo team is involved in an explosion in the US, and it’s up to everyone, DMS, Barrier, and Echo Team, to figure out what’s going on.

I enjoyed all of this book more than The Dragon Factory. Joe picks up a new member of Echo team: Ghost, a white German shepherd. I have a GSD myself, so I immediately liked him. Given how beaten up Joe was at the end of the previous book, ghost makes a good addition.

The plot, like all of them so far, is complicated, and takes a while to put together. In this case, it revolves around The Seven Kings, a group of, you guessed it, 7 men who claim to be various kings: Kind of Gold, King of Lies, and of course, the King of Plagues. We’ve already met him before, and I enjoyed seeing him come back. Between the time spent with them, the time spent with Circe, who’s a crack shot at noticing terrorism patterns, and Joe’s point of view, it’s a lively book.

The Tumor – John Grisham

I have no idea what to think of this. It’s not a book so much as it’s a medical report with a couple what if scenarios. In scenario one, Paul is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and goes through what we’d consider the normal process of dealing with it. In scenario two, Paul is again diagnosed with the same tumor, but this time the treatment is focused ultrasound. In both cases, Paul dies at the end, but in scenario 1 it’s within a year, and scenario two is like 15 years.

It’s more of a booklet about why focused ultrasound is a good thing, and we need to put money towards it for research. I’m all for funding something like this. If the information included in the ‘book’ is accurate, then it has the ability to help a number of conditions, not just cancer. Grisham’s involved with the Focused Ultrasound foundation, and I’m guessing he’s using his celebrity to get people to read this so they’ll be aware, and possibly donate money to the foundation. It’s working, since The Tumor is being talked about all over.