Saturday 25 January 2014

#CBR6 Book 7: "The Chocolate Temptation" by Laura Florand

Page count: 320 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Sarah Lin hates Patrick Chevalier. She hates his golden good looks, his charming manner, the way he seems to be able to create magic with his bare hands and does absolutely everything flawlessly, without seeming to expend even the slightest bit of effort. She hates him because every time he brushes past her, or winks at her, or jokingly flirts with her, her heart beats faster and she has trouble breathing. He is her boss, and he is godlike, and he would never even look twice at a lowly little intern who never seems to be able to do anything right.

Patrick Chevalier is madly in love with Sarah Lin, the intern in the world-famous French restaurant where they work. He is the second in command in the kitchen, he is her boss, and he knows that it is grossly inappropriate for him to even consider seducing her while she's under his tutelage. But she claims that she's going to go back to California once her internship is over in little over a month, and he might go insane if he doesn't get a chance to show her how she feels. His entire life, he has learned to keep his true hopes and dream deeply hidden, so they can't be snatched away from him. He's come to the conclusion that he has to use his wit and charm and skill to manipulate those around him to reach his goals. When Sarah in an unguarded moment lets it slip that she hates him, he's determined to turn that hate to love, just as he can turn sugar and chocolate into edible treasures.

Sarah's mother fled from North Korea and found a new life in the USA because she got pregnant and Sarah was born there. Becoming an engineer at Caltech to make her mother proud, Sarah feels as if she's let her entire family down when she gave up her high paying job as an engineer to pursue her dream to study as a pastry chef in Paris. Five months into her internship, she's wondering if she made a huge mistake. She can barely afford to pay the rent, she works until she drops, and all around her, the others in the kitchen create marvels while she feels she's a constant failure. The only woman in the whole kitchen, she struggles to keep up with the intense work, and spending so much time around a gorgeous man she's convinced could have any woman he turned his attention to, she's decided that the only way to guard her heart is by hating him intensely.

Patrick may be incredibly successful for his young age, although he never really wanted to become a chef, but an engineer. His messed-up mother made sure to crush any dream he ever had, and when he was apprenticed to up and coming Luc Leroi, one of his foster brothers, he made the best of it, using his inventiveness and intellect to excel in the kitchen. Even though no one understands why he's still content being Luc's second, when he could go off and get a brilliant career in a restaurant of his own, he knows that he is needed, and can't bring himself to leave. He also knows that he mustn't harass his pretty intern, but can't help from watching over her, trying to shield her from the hardest jobs in the kitchen, surreptitiously feeding her and making sure that he is the one who most often teaches her new techniques. He knows that she is clever and driven and just as perfectionistic as Luc, but he can't resist his protective urges. He believes himself to be sneaky, devious and ruthless and the way in which he tricks Sarah into inviting him in after a night out after work is certainly not entirely chivalrous, but while he has decided alpha male qualities (as do all of Florand's heroes), he never forces Sarah to do anything she doesn't really very much want to do.

Sarah needs to decide whether she actually wants to follow her dream to be a pastry chef and accept that she may not be a failure just because she can't keep up with insanely driven craftsmen who are at the top of their field. She comes to realise that while her birth gave her mother and sister a safe home in America, she doesn't have to live her entire life to fulfil some sort of imagined standard of perfection to prove herself worthy to them. Patrick has clearly been burned so many times growing up, and has turned the very bitter lemons of his cruddy upbringing into some fairly awesome lemonade. Yet he's desperately worried about losing Sarah once he gets his chance with her, and of all the dreams he has ever dared nurture, a relationship with her is the one that he daren't even hope he might achieve.

Compared to some of the deep emotional issues of Florand's earlier couples, Sarah and Patrick's troubles seemed a bit more low key, and it was a relief after the last two, with some very messed up protagonists and drama to work through. Parts of this book overlaps with Florand's previous book in the series, The Chocolate Heart, but I suspect it works fine on its own as well. Florand has played around with fairy tale and mythology elements in previous novels, with influences from RapunzelBeauty and the Beast and the myth of Hades and Persephone. In this book, there are hints of Cinderella, but while Patrick may be a prince (his surname is even Chevalier - knight), Sarah is much more than the girl who loses her shoe and heart at the ball. The author's note at the end of the book and her blog suggests that this may be the last in her Amour et Chocolat series (apparently Luc's book was supposed to be the final one, but Patrick kept stealing scenes so she had to write his story too), but she has more books planned, set in the south of France, so I suspect I will still have her delectable writing to look forward to for a while yet.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

Friday 24 January 2014

#CBR6 Book 6: "The Chocolate Heart" by Laura Florand

Page count: 320 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

Disclaimer! I was granted an ARC of this book by Kensington Books via Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.

Summer Corey hates Paris. It's a city where she was frequently abandoned to be raised by ever changing nannies while her parents were globe trotting or negotiating international business deals, and it's where she felt miserable, alone and outcast in boarding school from the age of thirteen. Having been forced back from her self-imposed exile, teaching on a small Pacific island, because her father has bought her a five star hotel as a Christmas present, Summer knows that everyone is only waiting to see what the spoiled and vacuous billionaire heiress will do to end up in the tabloids now.

Of course, mistaking the internationally acclaimed chef of the hotel's restaurant, Luc Leroi, for a hotel bellboy, and propositioning him rather bluntly is not getting her off to a good start. Luc, having worked his way up from begging in the Paris metro with his gypsy father to becoming the media darling and culinary superstar of French pastry, is appalled when Summer literally falls into his arms and proceeds to offer him a yacht, before passing out exhausted as soon as he gets her to her hotel room. He plans to seduce her with the most delectable desserts, only to discover that Summer Corey, through a series of very negative associations with sweet things, never eats them.

Summer needs to stay three rainy winter months in Paris, pretending to manage a hotel, so her father will donate a satellite to the islands she longs to return to, improving their communication with the outside world immensely. Luc is determined to win her over, and proceeds to outdo himself again and again with breathtaking culinary creations that Summer continues to reject. The entire hotel watches in fascination, wondering who will crack first, the stunning heiress or the perfectionist chef.

As I have mentioned in my previous reviews of her books, Florand writes to a formula. These books have extremely temperamental, arrogant and brilliant French chefs, who nonetheless are deeply emotionally vulnerable. They all seem to fall for women who are at least partly American, with emotional issues of their own. The men try to seduce the women using culinary arts, usually involving seemingly unreal creations made of chocolate, and after a lot of back and forth where they battle their insecurities, they find their HEA.

Florand works really hard to make the readers feel sympathy with Summer, and make us realise why she has very legitimate reasons for hating Paris, and having behaved like a spoiled and outrageous brat for much of her life. To say that she has enormous daddy issues is an understatement, and she seems to think that the way to punish her parents is by throwing everything like self respect out the window and use her body to manipulate men as best she can, preferably to provoke her father as much as possible. It doesn't help that he literally blackmails her in an attempt to give up her dreams, and never really seems to compliment her for anything. But the fact remains, she's insanely wealthy and because of her upbringing, quite sheltered to the issues that less obscenely rich people have to go through, and in my opinion, it takes far too long for her to realise that her behaviour towards Luc at the start of the book is wildly inappropriate and offensive to boot.

While I normally really enjoy these romances, there was something about this book that didn't grab me as much. Whether it was the fact that Luc was so intensely controlled and refused to relinquish said control for the longest time, or it was just that it took me more than half the book to warm up to Summer as a truly sympathetic heroine, I'm not sure. All I know is that I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as Florand's earlier works. It's by no means bad, though, but I'm not going to add it to my own library until I find it for sale. The next book features Luc's second in command/foster brother as the hero, and as he is wonderful in this book, I'm looking forward to his story.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

#CBR6 Book 5: "Archangel's Legion" by Nalini Singh

Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 3 stars

This is book 6 in the series, and as such, not the best place to start reading. If you're really interested in the series, start at the beginning with Angels' Blood.

During a terrifying five minute time period, birds and angels start plummeting from the sky, leaving almost half of the archangel Raphael's forces incapacitated. Shortly after, his consort, the Guild Hunter Elena, discovers a mysterious and highly infectious disease that impossibly enough only targets vampires. All over the world, other archangels are developing new and terrifying powers that could be used for further warfare, while Raphael so far seems only to be developing healing abilities. Is it his relationship with Elena that's keeping him from becoming more powerful?

Elena and Raphael have to discover which of the other archangel or angels are causing the attacks, and figure out a way to stop them before New York is lost.

As well as dealing with the external threats to her and Raphael's home city, Elena is trying to force her father to accept that her younger half-sister Eve is also hunter born (basically driven by an urge to fight supernatural creatures and track down vampires), and let her have the proper training. Her father is threatening to have the girl sent away to Europe to keep her safe, and in their heated arguments, Elena discovers secrets about her family she never suspected. She's also trying to figure out how to properly be the consort to an archangel, while many of the archangels consider her a mere plaything for Raphael.

I very much enjoyed the early books in this series, while some of the later ones, which have focused on members of Raphael's Seven, his core advisers and lieutenants. In this, the focus is wholly back on Elena, the vampire hunter turned angel and her immortal and immensely powerful archangel. There are a lot of tensions, and war seems inevitable. There are various interesting developments over the course of the book, suggesting changes to come. I'll probably keep reading the series, but I'm no longer waiting impatiently for each new release.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

#CBR6 Book 4: "The Twistrose Key" by Tone Almhjell

Page count: 358 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Eleven-year-old Lindelin "Lin" Rosenquist is mourning the death of her pet vole, Rufus, and miserable in her new home away from her best friend and childhood haunts. One dark evening, she receives a mysterious package labelled "Twistrose" with a rose-shaped key inside. She discovers that the key unlocks a strange portal in the cellar under the house, and the portal leads to the magical kingdom of Sylver, entirely populated by animals with some kind of special bond to children on Earth. The petlings are deceased pets, and the Wilders are ones that were tamed, and in Sylver they have ways of watching over their beloved friends.

Lin is overjoyed to discover that not only is she reunited with Rufus, but he is now nearly as big as she is, and can talk to her. Lin soon discovers that in times of great need for Sylver, children who can help the eternally snow-covered kingdom are called. These children are called Twistroses, and Lin is the latest of them. She needs to find the missing Winterfyrst quickly, before the sinister and mysterious Margrave and his army of snow trolls take over the kingdom, and make it impossible for Lin to ever return home to her family.

While Scandinavian authors seem to be the big thing in the mystery genre nowadays, they're not really known in the fantasy genre, certainly not internationally. Yet Tone Almhjell, with her Masters' degree in English literature, got a profitable book deal from a subdivision of Penguin for her debut novel before it was even published in Norwegian. That the book was also favourable reviewed in a lot of places after its release made me curious, and the beautiful cover made me determined to own the book. While she apparently began writing the book in English, she wrote the majority of it in English once she secured the international book deal, and proceeded to translate the English manuscript back to Norwegian with her sister for a later Norwegian release. As the Norwegian version has a waiting list of about six months, I ended up buying the English version from Amazon.

There are clear influences from a lot of other fantasy series here, the most obvious ones probably being The Chronicles of NarniaThe Wind in the Willows and His Dark Materials. Lin is a plucky, brave and clever protagonist initially staggered by the seriousness of her task. Yet she doesn't back down from her challenge and with the help of the sometimes less than helpful Rufus, she starts to investigate the disappearance of young Isvan Winterfyrst.

The book is clearly written to hold the attention of a young audience. There is a lot of action, suspense and many many cliff hangers, making sure you are rarely bored. There are mysterious allies, and dastardly villains and a convoluted plot that needs to be foiled. While I though the inclusion of many traditional Norwegian elements was very cute, I'm not sure they'd be obvious to non-Norwegian readers, as they might just seem like fantasy ideas to add to the verisimilitude of the fantasy world building. At the beginning of each chapter, there are also lovely illustrations, by Jan Schoenherr, adding to

I saw a couple of reviews on Goodreads complaining that the author's English isn't up to scratch. I'm an English teacher, and read pretty much exclusively English books, and while there was the occasional turn of phrase that read as very Norwegian to me, I think Almhjell's editors have done a good job, and if I hadn't known that the author is a Norwegian, I would just have thought she was taking poetic licence with the language. I'm not sure if Almhjell is planning to turn this into a longer series, but this book is self-contained, and made me interested in checking out more Norwegian fantasy.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

#CBR6 Book 3: "White Night" by Jim Butcher

Page count: 452 pages
Audio book length: 14 hrs and 13 mins
Rating: 4 stars

Chicago wizard and now a Warden of the White Council, Harry Dresden, gets called in by his friend Sgt. Karrin Murphy (she got demoted after helping Harry out in the last book) to look into a series of mysterious deaths. A lot of women have been found dead around Chicago, in what appears at first glance to be suicides, but Murphy and her team at Special Investigations can tell something is off, and Harry finds magically hidden writing that suggests the women have been killed because of their magical abilities.

As Harry begins to investigate, he starts to understand why he's not heard anything about these mysterious disappearances before. A lot of the dead women were last seen with a tall man wearing a grey cloak (just like the Wardens wear!) and others with a thin, dark-haired, attractive man, fitting the description of Thomas Raith, White Court vampire and Harry's half-brother. The fact that Thomas has been even more distant than usual lately and isn't answering Harry's calls isn't helping.

As well as trying to figure out who the identity of the serial killer, or possibly killers, and trying to clear his brother's name (because Harry is convinced his brother is innocent), Harry is trying to teach his apprentice Molly Carpenter control and self-restraint. She's excellent at hiding herself behind magical veils, and keeps trying to countermand Harry's orders and sneak along on missions she should stay away from.

I'm pretty hooked on this series now, and James Marsters keeps being an excellent narrator. Having now discovered that with the Audible app, I can play the audio books at 1.5 speed, reducing the time I spend listening (my main problem with audio books is that if I was just reading the book myself, it would be so much FASTER), but I still get full enjoyment out of them. The world building is pretty much established, and Harry's no longer a loner, trying to manage everything on his own, and as a result, is much more fun to read about. All long running serials like this become a bit like a good TV show. You don't just tune in to see what happens to the main character, the supporting cast is just as important. Murphy, Thomas and Molly are all great at keeping Harry grounded, and the conversation Murphy has with Harry about his increasingly tenuous control on his anger has been a long time coming.

At this rate, going through one or two of them per month, I have just enough credits saved up to be able to catch up in time for book 15's release in May. Then I can start impatiently waiting for new books with the rest of the world.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

Friday 17 January 2014

#CBR6 Book 2: "Svart Elfenben" (Black Ivory) by Arne Svingen

Page count: 183 pages
Rating: 3 stars

The book opens with a quote from Heart of Darkness, making the reader pretty aware that this is unlikely to be a cheerful story full of rainbows, bunnies and unicorns. Our unnamed narrator is a young Norwegian boy, not yet turned eighteen, on a rather impulsive journey to the Ivory Coast with his best friend, a former Liberian child soldier named Sam. Sam, who has lived in Norway for some years, has been told that his mother is still alive and the two boys are now trying to find her. It's revealed in brief, teasing flashbacks that they secured the money for the trip through rather shady and morally dubious means, and our narrator is on the whole, not entirely sure about how wise their course of action is.

Still, as a life-long foster care kid without any real parental figures of his own, he understands Sam's need to find his mother. He is fiercely loyal to his best friend, even if it means taking a very ill-advised journey into a foreign country ravaged by civil war. Within the first day there, they lose a large amount of money through the carelessness of our narrator, and things go from bad, to worse to really very dangerous and there is no way this is going to end well at all is there? rapidly. The narrator bought a copy of Heart of Darkness at the airport, and keeps reading and re-reading it throughout the ever more perilous journey. As well as discovering what a charmed life he has led in Norway, even without loving parents to raise him, our narrator also discovers that his best friend is a very different person in Africa than he was when they were hanging out on the streets of Oslo. Does he actually know Sam at all? Can you ever escape your past?

The book is a young adult book clearly written with boys in mind. It starts and continues at a breathtaking pace, constantly upping the danger and complications for our two young protagonists. Our narrator is never even named, and there is a very sparse gallery of supporting characters to keep track of, most of them described indirectly through words and actions. There are a lot of thorny issues dealt with in the book, not least how far is it reasonable to be expected to go in the name of friendship? Even for someone you love as a brother. It is a wild, fairly uncivilised and scary Africa depicted in the book, but a book set in a country ravaged by civil war, dealing with the issue of child soldiers would have been dreadful if it didn't show the ugly sides of such warfare. Even as the boys are dragged closer and closer to their seemingly inevitable doom, there are flashes of hope. Several of the characters are hopeful that the future of their countries will be improved, and the close friendship between the two is admirable, even as our narrator discovers that Sam might be a complete stranger to him.

This was one of the books I had to read for my Norwegian course this semester, and I doubt I would have picked it up if I hadn't had it assigned as part of my curriculum. It's good to see that even in immensely privileged Norway, there are authors who highlight the less pleasant issues in the world today, and try to make teenagers aware of it without preaching or getting sanctimonious. I have several pupils I suspect would like this book, and will recommend it to them.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

#CBR6 Book 1: "The Golem and the Jinni" by Helene Wecker

Page count: 486 pages
Rating: 5 stars

What a lovely way to start my new reading year. First of all, I want to thank Jen K for this lovely book. She gave it to me as part of the Cannonball Read gift exchange, and as I was fairly sure I wasn't going to be able to do it justice when I was hurrying through books at the end of December to finish my triple Cannonball, I decided that it would be my first book of 2014. As it turns out, due to me getting ill over the Christmas holidays, I was stuck with huge amounts of correction work for the first week and a half of January, and only really able to read on the bus to and from work and in the occasional stolen moment before I passed out exhausted in bed each night. I am given to understand that this may be all the reading, or even more than, the average person does. Well, to me, it's pretty much akin to torture. Suffice to say, the fact that the book was so engrossing made this experience extra frustrating for me. But what is this delightful book about, you ask?

Chava is the titular golem, a woman made of clay supposed to be bound to one master, created by a disgraced and sinister rabbi in Poland. Her master, the man who commissioned her, brings her to life on the sea voyage to America, and dies very shortly after. Hence Chava no longer has one person's commands to obey and begins hearing the thoughts and wishes of all those around her. She arrives alone in New York in 1899, and luckily a kindly rabbi recognises her for what she is and takes her in, determined to teach her to fit in, so she doesn't lose control and use her inhuman strength to harm or kill anyone. He helps her get a job in a bakery, and coaches her to hide her true nature.

Ahmad is the jinni, or djinn. Trapped for centuries in a copper oil flask by a Bedouin wizard, he wakes up on the floor of a tinsmith's shop, with no memory of how he ended up so far away from the Syrian deserts he came from. Arbeely, the young tinsmith is rather shocked to discover that the childhood tales of djinn he was told are apparently true, and does what he can to help Ahmad (a name Arbeely gives him, djinns don't have human names) settle in amongst the residents of little Syria in lower Manhattan. Ahmad may be free of the lamp, but he still has an unbreakable iron cuff around his wrist, forcing him to stay in human shape. He needs to discover how he was trapped in the lamp in the first place, and seeks to find the means to fully free himself.

The book contains a number of interlinked stories, those of Chava and Ahmad are only two of them. There is the story of rabbi Meyer, who takes Chava under his wing and his estrangement from his nephew, Michael. There is the story of the Jewish magician, the disgraced rabbi Schaalman, Chava's creator, as we in flashbacks discover how he came to be the bitter and twisted man who Chava's master approached to have a wife made. There is the story of Mahmoud Saleh, a downtrodden ice cream seller in little Syria, who can't look anyone in the eye, and once used to be a successful doctor back in Syria, the story of socialite Sophia Winston, who catches Ahmad's eye in the park, as well as a number of other characters and stories. In a lot of cases with stories like this, I tend to get bored when the focus shifts away from characters I love, and I am tempted to just skim and skip ahead to get past the sections concerning characters I'm not all that interested in. Wecker writes so compellingly that I was never tempted to do that. I was fascinated with each and every one of the story strands, and curious as to how they would all come together in the end.

Historical fiction featuring fantastical elements from various cultures, the book is pretty much Malin catnip. I'm so very glad I was given this as a gift, otherwise it may have got lost among the hundreds of other books on my TBR list that I hear about, find a bit intriguing and decide to read at some future date. It's a lush and intricate and beautifully told book, with the friendship between the Golem and the Jinni at the centre of it, both incredibly lonely and mythical creatures, delighted to find someone else truly unusual to confide in. I would pretty much recommend this to anyone, and will be buying it as presents for all my friends once it's out in paperback.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

Saturday 4 January 2014

Reading Challenge Addict 2014

One last challenge, because I do have some sense of self awareness, and I am fully aware that I have a problem. I'm not alone, though, and several other ladies on the internet have started a support group of sorts, on their own website Reading Challenge Addict. Of course, what would be the fun if you didn't get some sort of recognition for your crazy challenge addictions? There are four levels, depending on how addicted you are:

  • Easy as Pie (1-5 challenges entered and completed)
  • On the Roof (6-10 challenges entered and completed)
  • In Flight (11-15 challenges entered and completed)
  • Out of this World (16+ reading challenges entered and completed)
The rules state that my starting post (this one) has to outline all my various challenges. Good thing I've already created a master document keeping track of them all.
  1. The Cannonball Read - be the first to read and review 52 books
  2. 2014 Reading Pile Challenge - initially signed up for Sweet Summer Fling (31-40 books)
  3. 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - going for Prehistoric level (50+ books)
  4. Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge - read one book starting with each letter of the alphabet
  5. Monthly Key Word Challenge - read at least one book a month with the relevant key word
  6. Monthly Motif Challenge - read at least a book a month with the relevant theme/motif
  7. Colour Coded Reading Challenge - read nine books fitting the various colour categories
  8. 2014 Book Bingo Challenge - aiming to fill the entire bingo card
  9. Meet the Protagonist - read eight books fitting the various categories
  10. What an Animal Reading Challenge - initially signed up for Level 2 (7-12 books)
  11. Lucky nr 14 - read at least one book for each of the fourteen categories
  12. Romance Reading Challenge - read at least five romances
  13. R.I.P IX - this one only runs in Sept-Oct, and has yet to be confirmed. Hoping it's still running
  14. Reading Challenge Addict - initially signed up for "In Flight". Who knows, I may find more challenges as the year progresses. 

2014 Romance Reading Challenge

Now, I realise that some people might say I have enough reading challenges to keep track of already, but I just discovered one that's pretty much a must for me - the Romance Reading Challenge, i.e. another one where I get credit for reading what I mostly read anyway. Naida over on The Bookworm is hosting this one, and participants should read at least five romances (at this rate I'll probably be done by February).

"Romance" isn't limited to steamy Harlequin novels (which is good, because I never read those). There is a huge selection of books in this category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, new adult romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance, to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between two main characters, your selection will fit this challenge. The novels do not need to have a happy ending either, there can also be unrequited love.

Frankly, for this to be even vaguely challenging, I should probably challenge myself to read one of the various sub-genres listed here, plus any others I can think of - I should probably throw at least an erotic romance and some gay/lesbian/LGBT to diversify a bit, as those are things I don't tend to read normally.

Thursday 2 January 2014

Lucky nr 14 Reading Challenge 2014

Astrid on Books to Share is doing a slightly bigger reading challenge, with categories that should actually force me outside of my comfort zone occasionally.

The challenge will require me to read 14 books (or more) from the 14 categories below. I can combine the books I read with other challenges, but cannot use the same book for different categories in this challenge.

Participants are encouraged to try to match the categories from their TBR piles, although if you don't have any suitable books in your TBR list, and want to find an excuse to buy one for this challenge, that's fine too. A woman after my own heart.

The 14 categories:
1. Visit the country: Read a book that has a setting in a country that you really want to visit in real life. Make sure the setting has a big role in the book and it can make you know a little bit more about your dream destination.
2. Cover lust: Pick a book from your shelf that you bought because you fell in love with the cover. Is the content as good as the cover?
3. Blame it On Bloggers: Read a book because you've read the sparkling reviews from other bloggers. Don't forget to mention the bloggers' names too!
4. Bargain All the Way: Ever buy a book because it's so cheap you don't really care about the content? Now it's time to open the book and find out if it's really worth your cents.
5. (Not So) Fresh From the Oven: Do you remember you bought/was given a newly released book last year but never had a chance to read it? Dig it from your pile and bring back the 2013.
6. First Letter's Rule: Read a book where the title begins with the same letter as your name (so M for Malin, in my case). Articles like "a", "an" or "the" don't count.
7. Once Upon a Time: Choose a book first published before the year you were born. Doesn't have to be a classic book, something only a bit older than you is ok. You can read the most recent edition if you like.
8. Chunky Brick: Take a deep breath, and read a book that has more than 500 pages. Yep, the one that you've always been afraid of! (In my case, this is not going to be hard. So many fantasy tomes waiting for me)
9. Favourite Author: You like their books, but there are too many titles. This is your chance, choose a book that's been written by your favourite author, but you haven't gotten round to reading it before.
10. It's Been There Forever: Pick up a book that's been there on your shelf for more than a year, clean up the dust and start to read it now.
11. Movies vs Books: You've seen the movie adaptation (or planned to see it soon) but never had time to read the book. It's time to read the book, so you can compare the book vs the movie.
12. Freebies Time: What's the LAST free book you got? Whether it's from a giveaway, a birthday gift or a surprise from someone special, don't hold back any longer. Open the book and start reading now.
13. Not My Cup of Tea: Reach out to a genre that you've never tried (or probably just disliked) before. Whether it's romance, horror or non fiction, maybe you'll find a hidden gem.
14. Walking Down the Memory Lane: Ever had a book that you loved so much as a kid? Or a book that you wish you could read when you were just a kid? Grab it now and prepare for a wonderful journey to the past. Comic books or graphic novels are allowed!

What an Animal Reading Challenge 2014

Socrates' Book Reviews is hosting the "What an Animal" Reading Challenge, for the 7th time this year. As I'm determined to do as many of these babies as possible, I figured I'd sign up for that one as well.

The rules are really simple
1. Read at least six books that have any of the following requirements:
a. There is an animal in the title of the book
b. There is an animal on the cover of the book
c. An animal plays a major role in the book
d. A main character is (or turns into) an animal (define that however you'd like)

2. The animal can be any type of animal (real or fictitious) - dog, cat, monkey, wolf, snake, insect, hedgehog, aardvark...dragon, mermaid, centaur, vampire, get the idea...

Level 1 - Read up to 6 books
Level 2 - Read 7-12 books
Level 3 - Read 13 or more

3. Books can be fiction or non fiction
4. Crossovers with other challenges are permitted and encouraged.
5. Books can be in in any format of your choice (print, audio, e-books)

As there are at least six books I can think off just at the top of my head coming out in 2014 that qualify for category d, I can't in good conscience sign up for anything less than level 2. I hope I'll be able to upgrade to level 3, as let's face it, I read enough paranormal/urban fantasy to cover several requirements here.

Meet the Protagonist Reading Challenge 2014

Joanne over on Litlequeen rules is hosting the "Meet the Protagonist" Reading challenge.

What is a protagonist? The leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text.

The Protagonist Categories:

  • A woman who is a mother.
  • A real life person who is written into a fictional story.
  • A person that changes forms.
  • A person who is from a country different than the one you currently live in.
  • A person who lived before WW1.
  • A person who lives by a body of water. 
  • A person younger than 18. 
  • A character that is in a book series.
The rules:
The challenge runs until the 31st of December 2014.
Read one book in each of the categories. 
A book can only be used once.
You don't need to list your books ahead of time.
Crossover with other challenges is welcome.
Re-reads count. Audiobooks count. E-books count. Self-published books count. Short stories and essay collections are allowed, but only if all the stories are about the same person.

I can already see some of the categories overlapping with several of my other numerous reading challenges this year. I think it's going to be a fun one, and it's nice with a challenge that can be completed with reading less than ten books. 

Colour-coded Reading Challenge 2014

My Reader's Block are yet again doing their Colour Coded Reading Challenge for 2014. I didn't take part in this last year, but it looks like fun, and I suspect it can be fairly easily combined with several of the many other challenges I'm doing this year.

The rules are as follows:
Read nine books in the following categories.
1. A book with "Blue" or any shade of Blue (Turquoise, Aquamarine, Navy etc) in the title.
2. A book with "Red" or any shade of Red (Scarlet, Crimson, Burgundy, Persimmon etc.) in the title
3. A book with "Yellow" or any shade of Yellow (Gold, Lemon, Maize etc.) in the title
4. A book with "Green" or any shade of Green (Emerald, Lime, Jade etc.) in the title
5. A book with "Brown" or any shade of Brown (Tan, Chocolate, Beige etc.) in the title
6. A book with "Black" or any shade of Black (Jet, Ebony, Charcoal etc.) in the title
7. A book with "White" or any shade of White (Ivory, Eggshell, Cream etc.) in the title
8. A book with any other colour in the title (Purple, Orange, Siver, Pink, Magenta, Grey, etc.)
9. A book with a word that implies colour (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe etc.) in the title

Everyone who completes all nine categories will be entered in a year-end drawing of a book-related prize package.

Monthly Motif Challenge 2014

Kimberly Lynne over on Bookmark to Blog is also doing a Monthly Motif Challenge this year. Each month is assigned a certain motif or theme. The challenge is to read one book per month that fits with the motif for that particular month. I think many of these motifs are excellent, and am really looking forward to this challenge.

Monthly Motifs:
January: Around the World
Choose a book to read that takes place in a country different from the one you live in or choose a book written by an author that is from a country different than your own.

February: Award winner
Read a book that has won recognition or a literary award.

March: Fairy tales or fairy creatures
Read a fairy tale retelling or a book with fey/fairies in it

April: Short and sweet
Read a collection of short stories or an anthology

May: Mystery, Murder and Mayhem
Read a murder/mystery book, a book in which someone dies of mysterious causes, or a book in which a mystery must be solved.

June: A Long Journey
Read a book in which the character(s) take a trip, go on a quest, or find themselves on a journey towards something

July: Assassins, warriors and rebels
Read a book in which the character is one of these things or fights against one of these things.

August: Alternate reality
Read a book that's set in the future, on another planet, in another dimension, or in an unknown world. A Dystopian book will count for this month as well.

September: Book to movie
Read a book that has a movie based off of it. For an extra challenge, see the movie as well.

October: The Witching Hour
There's been a lot of zombies lately, but this year include a 'witchy' book in your scary reads - a book about a witch or that has witches in it.

November: An Oldie but a Goodie
Pick a book published before 2000 that you've always wanted to read, but just never got to. Or pick a book set in the past (before 2000).

December: That's a Wrap
Finish a series you've been meaning to finish or read the next book in a series you started but never finished.

Monthly Key Word Challenge 2014

Kimberly Lynne over on Bookmark to Blog is yet again doing another Monthly Key Word Challenge. I thought this one was a lot of fun last year (especially because I could make a long list of potential titles), and will absolutely be taking part again this year. 

- The title you choose can be a variation of the key words. For example - your title could include the word 'snowing' or 'snowflake' even though the key word is 'snow'. 
- Key words can be tweaked. For example - you could read "Cinder" or "Ashes" for the key word 'Fire'. If the key word is 'family', then your title could include the word 'sister' or 'mother'. If the key word is 'food', then your title could include the word 'cake'. 

Monthly Key Words:
January: Angel, Secret, Clock, Black, Day, Wild
February: Her, Life, Night, Red, Dark, Island
March: Forever, Inside, Storm, Sky, Flower, Stay
April: Star, Light, Never, Princess, Break, Clear
May: Dawn, Death, End, Lost, Beautiful, And
June: Color, Beyond, Found, Place, Grave, Road
July: Crash, Ship, Prince, Whisper, Sun, Of
August: Forgotten, Down, True, Run, Danger, Me
September: Number, Take, Shadow, Ice, Who, After
October: Ocean, Blood, Still, Out, The, Fate
November: Into, Sound, Blue, House, My, Last
December: Kiss, Fire, Ruin, White, Promise, Infinity

2014 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

Dollycas is yet again hosting an A to Z challenge, but this year she's calling it Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge. By December 31st, 2014, the participants' bowls have to be full of one book for each letter of the alphabet.
The articles in front of the title (a, and, the) don't count. Each letter counts as one spoonful.
You do not have to review the books (although I will probably do so).
Books can come from any genre.
Crossovers to other challenges are allowed and encouraged.
Books can be read in any order, and all formats (print, e-book, audio) are acceptable for the challenge.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014

Historical Tapestry are once again hosting the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge for 2014, and encouraging as many people as possible to sign up. As about a third to half of the fiction I read in any given year qualifies for this challenge, it would be stupid not to take part. I can excel without even trying very hard. My favourite sort of achievement.

The levels this year are:
20th Century Reader - 2 books
Victorian reader - 5 books
Renaissance reader - 10 books
Medieval - 15 books
Ancient history - 25 books
Prehistoric - 50+ books

I can't in good conscience pick anything but "prehistoric" level, because I'm pretty sure I have nearly 25 books covered just when it comes to the historical romance I read. So this will be a lot of fun.

2014 TBR Book Pile Reading Challenge

My TBR pile has grown at a terrifying rate during last year, much faster than I'm able to read the books on there. It's been especially bad in November and December, when "Best of the year" lists make me discover new books, authors or genres to add to the list. Hence this challenge is pretty much a must. Hosted by Evie on Bookish, this is is fairly similar to the TBR challenge I did last year, except here there's a chance to win prizes too.

- Any genre, length or format of books counts, as long as it's a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Short stories and novellas are ok, too! Only books released in 2013 and earlier! No 2014 ARCs or 2014 fresh of the presses releases allowed!
- You can list books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
- You can move up levels, but no moving down.

1-10: A firm handshake
11-20: A friendly hug
21-30: First Kiss
31-40: Sweet Summer Fling
41-50: Could this be love?
50+: Married with children

As I managed a staggering 60 books off my TBR list in 2013, I don't want to aim too low. But I'd rather start at a slightly lower level and upgrade throughout the year - hence I'm choosing "Sweet Summer Fling" - 31-40 books as my starting target. Let the climbing of my TBR pile begin!

Book bingo challenge 2014

Anne and Kristilynn over on Reading in Winter are once again hosting a Bingo Reading Challenge. I (just barely) managed to cross out the full card in 2013, and this year's card seems to have a lot less focus on re-reading, and a bit more variety in the genres. So that will be fun.

The main goals for this year:
- Reading the books on one's TBR pile
- Re-reading some books
- Stepping outside our comfort zone in reading
- Reading some newly released books
- Reading some books from series started and then neglected

So there is some of the same stuff as last year, and some new stuff. This year, the free squares are just that - you can read whatever books you want, in whatever genre. No challenges from other participants required.

There are lots of ways to cross out one's bingo card. I will naturally be aiming to cross out the entire board, at least once. Last year, I only discovered this reading challenge in May, now I'm doing it from the very beginning. The only thing that will satisfy me is "the super reader", a complete blackout. As this challenge can easily be combined with several of the other ones I'm doing, I feel confident that I will do well.

Just like last year, books that are for one square are for that square only, and cannot be counted towards any other of the categories. This challenge is about reading ALL the books. Hence, to fill the full card, you have to have read 55 different books. Since last year's requirement was 73, I'm hopeful that this year's challenge will be perfectly doable.

End of year review 2013

Another reading year completed, and 2013 will probably go down as the readingest (totally a word - I should know, I'm an English teacher). I once again took part in the Cannonball Read - came second to 52 (curse you, Jen K!), first to 104, which I managed to complete by the end of July. My main competitor, Travis was the first to 156, making me the third person ever in the history of Cannonball Read to manage to read and review 156 books in a year. I doubt that feat will be repeated any time soon, that's for sure. There's a new website, registrations are still open for anyone who's interested. I'm hoping to be the first to 52 this year, hoping that Travis and Jen are too worn out to compete much (not likely).

I've already posted the wrap-up posts for my various reading challenges, and will shortly be putting up my various sign-up posts for the many I'm planning to participate in over the course of 2014. Turns out competitive reading makes blogging more motivating. In addition, I completed the three different peril levels of the R.I.P VIII reading challenge, running in September and October, and took part in two Read-a-thons.

Having read quite such a terrifying amount of books, there was no way I was going to be able to limit myself to only a top ten this year (and frankly just twenty was difficult too). Still, in the order I read them, not preference (because I don't think I could even do that), here are my favourite books from 2013:

Almost made the list:
The award for absolutely worst book I read this year, a book so bad I stopped after less than two chapters, is Come a Little Bit Closer by Bella Andre. I would recommend anyone reading this to seriously reconsider if you're ever tempted to try one of her books. Just trust me, don't. Of books I actually completed, and read to the end, I have a list of books that were either bad, or that I had to force myself to finish, but that others might enjoy, because I realise I may be the one in the wrong here. These books are as follows:
The number part of my end of year:

Total pages read: 61617 (new high score!)
Re-reads: 25
Comic book collections: 14
Novellas: 9
New (i.e. never read before) books: 138
Total: 164

July was the month when I read the most, a staggering 40 books (11119 pages). Consequently, August was the month when I read the least, 8 books (2675 pages).

Genre breakdown:
Romance: 29.8%
Urban/paranormal fantasy: 20.5%
Young adult: 17.8%
Fantasy: 9.8%
Comics: 7.6%
Contemporary/historical fiction: 6.9%
Science fiction. 4.4%
Non fiction:1.7%
Mystery: 1%

I still read mostly romance, but it's not as dominating a genre as it has been in previous years. 

Books acquired in 2013: 144 - where 30 were gifts, one was a prize and 5 were audio books. 
E-books: 75.7%
Dead tree: 20.7%
Audio books: 3.5%

I now seem to get dead tree books only as gifts from others, or consider buying them for myself if they're particularly pretty and seem worth having. I don't really have the numbers for dead tree books I've culled from my personal libary and donated to the school library or charity shops. Should try to keep track of that too in 2014, just to see. 

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Reading challenge wrapup 2013 - Monthly Keyword Challenge

Kimberly Lynne over on Bookmark to Blog hosted the Monthly Keyword Challenge this year.

The guidelines:
- The title you choose can be a variation on one of the key words. For example - your title could include the word 'snowing' or 'snowflake' even though the keyword is 'snow'.
- Key words can be tweaked. For example - you could read "Cinder" or "Ashes" for the key word "Fire" and that would be just fine. If the key word is 'family' then your title could include the word 'sister' or 'mother'. If the key word is 'food' then your title could include the word 'cake'.

While some of the books may have been blogged in a different month, they were all read in the correct month of the year.

Firelight (key word: fire)
Crown of Embers (key word: fire)
The Snow Queen (key word: snow)

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (key word: love)
The Dust of 100 Dogs (key word: animal)
The Way to a Duke's Heart (key word: heart)
Out Stealing Horses (key word: animal)
The Diamond Age (key word: diamond)

Luck in the Shadows (key word: luck)
The Mislaid Magician (key word: magic)

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (key word: home)
The Figwort Family (key word: flower)
The Shadow of the North (key word: shadow)
Briar Rose (key word: flower)
Snow White and Rose Red (key word: flower)

Across the Nightingale Floor (key word: bird)
Anna Karenina (key word: name)

The Light Between Oceans (key word: sea)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (key word: sea)
Fly by Night (key word: fly)

It Happened One Midnight (key word: night)
Beauty and the Spy (key word: spy)
Summer Knight (key word: night)
About Last Night (key word: night)

The Chocolate Touch (key word: food)
Breadcrumbs (key word: food)
The Broken Kingdoms (key word: broken)

Flowers from the Storm (key word: storm)
Raw Blue (key word: blue)
Scoundrel's Kiss (key word: kiss)
Anna and the French Kiss (key word: kiss)

Murder Mysteries (key word: death)
Three Parts Dead (key word: death)

November: several of books with the relevant key words were read in other months of the year, but due to a heavy work load, I seem to have completely missed out on actually hitting the target here.

These Broken Stars (key word: star)

I hadn't actually realised until I compiled the list that I'd missed out on reading a key word book for November in the actual relevant month. Am really annoyed that I failed to hit at least one book a month now.

Reading challenge wrapup 2013 - Bingo Card Reading Challenge

In the middle of May this year, I discovered the 2013 Book Bingo Challenge hosted by Anne and Kristilyn over on Reading in Winter.

As with many of the challenges I've taken part in this year, it was thanks to Jen K, who takes part in so many different challenges, I'm amazed she can keep track of them all.

The goals these ladies set for themselves are goals I set for myself as well (although I would never have done as much re-reading this year if it weren't for this challenge).

  • Reading the books on my TBR pile
  • Re-reading some books
  • Reading some new books
  • Reading the books that EVERYONE but I have read
  • Reading books from series I have started but neglected
There was also a "free square" in the middle of the board, but the intention here was that you could only cross it off by reading a book or genre suggested by another participant of the challenge (hi Jen!)

I completed the challenge on the 29th of December. It was generally a lot of fun, even though it made me do a lot more re-reading than I was initially planning on. 

All these squares are legitimately crossed off:

Read one book from your TBR pile:
Anna Karenina
Read two books from your TBR pile:
Fly by Night
First Grave on the Right
Read three books from your TBR pile:
Farmer Boy
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
Read four books from your TBR pile:
Beauty and the Spy
Summer Knight
The Broken Kingdoms
Read five books from your TBR pile:
Raw Blue
Scoundrel's Kiss
Anna and the French Kiss
Three Parts Dead
Blood Rites

Read one book that is part of a series:
Shadow's Claim
Read two books that are part of a series:
Second Grave on the Left
Third Grave Straight Ahead
Read three books that are part of a series:
Blade Song
Assassins in Love
Read four books that are part of a series:
Chimes at Midnight
Death Masks
If I Stay
Where She Went
Read five books that are part of a series:
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
Magic Rises
The Chocolate Touch

Read one book released in 2013:
Read two books released in 2013:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
It Happened One Midnight

Free Square (i.e. Jen K's challenge square):
The Sparrow

Read four books released in 2013:
Rose Under Fire
The Heiress Effect
The Chocolate Rose
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Read five books released in 2013:
Any Duchess Will Do
Once Upon a Tower
Dare You To
Gameboard of the Gods

Read one book everyone but you has read:
The Light Between Oceans
Read two books everyone but you has read:
About Last Night
Jellicoe Road
Read three books everyone but you has read:
Ella Enchanted
Flowers From the Storm
North and South
Read four books everyone but you has read:
Little House on the Prairie
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
Read five books everyone but you has read:
The First Four Years
Proven Guilty
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Me Before You

Re-read one book:
Mr. Impossible
Re-read two books:
Little House in the Big Woods
Rosemary and Rue
Re-read three books:
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
Re-read four books:
Ashes of Honor
Drums of Autumn
Private Arrangements
Re-read five books:
Not Quite a Husband
His at Night
The Lies of Locke Lamora
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
The Duchess War

Reading challenge wrapup 2013 - A to Z Reading Challenge

Yet another of the reading challenges I've completed in 2013, is the A to Z Reading Challenge, hosted by Dollycas. It's a fairly simple challenge, really. Read one book starting with each letter of the alphabet. Articles (a, an, the) don't count, and for the letters Q, Z and X, the letter can be anywhere in the title of the book. I'm quite proud that X was the only letter where I couldn't find a book starting with the letter. For neatness' sake, I decided that no author should appear on the list twice. I started it at the beginning of May and completed it on the 26th of December. My books were as follows:

A - Anna Karenina
B - Breadcrumbs
C - The Chocolate Touch
D - Dark Currents
E - Ella Enchanted
F - Fangirl
G - Gameboard of the Gods
H - The Heiress Effect
I - If I Stay
J - Jellicoe Road
K - Knaves' Wager
L - The Light Between Oceans
M - Magic Rises
N - North and South
O - The Ocean at the End of the Lane
P - Proven Guilty
Q - Quicksilver
R - Rose Under Fire
S - The Sparrow
T - Three Parts Dead
U - The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
V - Vampire Science
W - Wallbanger
X - Bigger Than a Bread Box
Y - You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
Z - Zel

Reading challenge wrapup 2013 - Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

I read a LOT of historical fiction in one genre or another, so the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, hosted by Historical Tapestry was absolutely something I had to sign up for, pretty much because I'd be reading the books anyway, I might as well get some extra credit and a few more readers to my blog by linking my reviews on their site. The highest level they had was Ancient History, which meant reading more than 25 books. As they are very generous about letting all sorts of genres count, be it romance, young adult, fantasy, mystery, Steampunk and so forth, I was able to read more than twice that. Of the challenges I joined in 2013, it was the least challenging of the lot.

My books were as follows:

  1. In Bed with a Highlander - Maya Banks
  2. Firelight - Kristen Callihan
  3. Crown of Embers - Rae Carson
  4. Warbreaker - Brandon Sanderson
  5. Cinderella's Secret Diary: Lost by Ron Vitale
  6. The Snow Queen - Mercedes Lackey
  7. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover - Sarah MacLean
  8. That Scandalous Summer - Meredith Duran
  9. The Dust of 100 Dogs - A.S. King
  10. The Assassins prequels - Sarah J. Maas
  11. Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas
  12. One Night in London - Caroline Linden
  13. Blame It on Bath - Caroline Linden
  14. The Way to a Duke's Heart - Caroline Linden
  15. Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson
  16. Luck in the Shadows - Lynn Flewelling
  17. The Mislaid Magician - Patricia C. Wrede/Caroline Stevermer
  18. Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell
  19. The Handbook to Handling His Lordship - Suzanne Enoch
  20. Seduce Me at Sunrise - Lisa Kleypas
  21. Tempt Me at Twilight - Lisa Kleypas
  22. Married by Morning - Lisa Kleypas
  23. Love in the Afternoon - Lisa Kleypas
  24. The Figwort Family - Lars Saabye Christensen
  25. The Shadow in the North - Philip Pullman
  26. Briar Rose - Jane Yolen
  27. Snow White and Rose Red - Patricia C. Wrede
  28. Lord of Wicked Intentions - Lorraine Heath
  29. Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn
  30. Any Duchess Will Do - Tessa Dare
  31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  32. Once Upon a Tower - Eloisa James
  33. The Light Between Oceans - M.L Stedman
  34. Fly by Night - Frances Hardinge
  35. Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine
  36. It Happened One Midnight - Julie Anne Long
  37. Rose Under Fire - Elizabeth Wein
  38. Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  39. Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  40. Farmer Boy - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  41. On the Banks of Plum Creek - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  42. By the Shores of Silver Lake - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  43. The Long Winter - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  44. Little Town on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  45. These Happy Golden Years - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  46. The First Four Years - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  47. The Heiress Effect - Courtney Milan
  48. Beauty and the Spy - Julie Anne Long
  49. The Broken Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin
  50. Flowers From the Storm - Laura Kinsale
  51. Drums of Autumn - Diana Gabaldon
  52. Scoundrel's Kiss - Carrie Lofty
  53. The Bitter Kingdom - Rae Carson
  54. The Native Star - M.K. Hobson
  55. A Study in Silks - Emma Jane Holloway
  56. Love and Other Scandals - Caroline Linden
  57. The Sum of All Kisses - Julia Quinn
  58. North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
  59. The Luckiest Lady in London - Sherry Thomas
  60. Private Arrangements - Sherry Thomas
  61. Not Quite a Husband - Sherry Thomas
  62. The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch
  63. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished - Sarah MacLean
  64. Knaves' Wager - Loretta Chase
  65. The Countess Conspiracy - Courtney Milan
  66. Zel - Donna Jo Napoli
  67. Vampire Science - Jonathan Blum/Kate Orman