Below: dashed off notes on the last dozen books I've either read or attempted.

  Magyk (Septimus Heap, Book 1) • Angie Sage
pb 640 pages ISBN-10: 006223692X ISBN-13: 978-0062236920
This is another book that I read aloud to my daughter but would not have finished otherwise. I am mystified by the plethora of good reviews for this one. The story is tired and scattershot; the so-called main character is largely missing; it's far longer than it needs to be; all the magic is of the deus ex machina variety; the writing style is by turns condescending, obtrusive, and dull; and the plot is hard to discern. Even with all that said, I've read (or attempted to read) others that were worse. My best indicator of how well it was received by my daughter is if she asks to immediately get to the next one in the series or not. She did not ask about this one (and if she did, there's no way I would've read it). This book held no surprises, moved at a snail's pace, and contained only cardboard characters. Next up will be a book of my choosing.
finished 24 august 2014, thank the gods!
A Clash of Kings

  A Clash of Kings • George R. R. Martin
pb 969 pages
Second in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Second time I read it too (first time was in 2006). It's just as much fun this time around too.
finished 19 august 2014
Pretty Monsters

  Pretty Monsters • Kelly Link
tpb 416 pages ISBN-10: 014241672X ISBN-13: 978-0142416723
I liked some of the stories okay. Skimmed through a few. And the pay-off was not all that.
started 22 july 2014, finished 31 july 2014 amazon

  Angelmaker • Nick Harkaway
tpb 477 pages ISBN-13: 978-0307743626
Back cover copy:
Joe Spork fixes clocks. He has turned his back on his fatherís legacy as one of Londonís flashiest and most powerful gangsters and aims to live a quiet life. Edie Banister retired long ago from her career as a British secret agent. She spends her days with a cantankerous old pug for company. That is, until Joe repairs a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism, inadvertently triggering a 1950s doomsday machine. His once-quiet life is suddenly overrun by mad monks who worship John Ruskin, psychopathic serial killers, mad geniuses and dastardly villains. On the upside, he catches the eye of bright and brassy Polly, a woman with enough smarts to get anyone out of a sticky situation. In order to save the world and defeat the nefarious forces threatening it, Joe must help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago, and he must summon the courage to pick up his fatherís old gun and join the fight.

I liked it. Great opening paragraph. Some cool characters (Edie made me raise my eyebrows). I liked the writer's style, although it was a tad confusing in places. But overall, an enjoyable, outlandish tale with a sense of humor.
finished 21 july 2014 amazon

The Six-Gun Tarot

  The Six-Gun Tarot • R. S. Belcher
mmpb 480 pages ISBN-10: 0765367513 ISBN-13: 978-0765367518
Back cover copy:
Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A bankerís wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyoneís business, may know more about the townís true origins than heís letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn... and so will all of Creation.

File this under weird western. It's got some nice touches, mixing strange devices, zombie-like citizens, mythology, and mad science together. But the action only really lets loose in the last quarter.
started 1 june 2014, finished 30 june 2014 amazon


  Fairest • Gail Carson Levine
HC 336 pages ISBN-10: 0060734086 ISBN-13: 978-0060734084
My daughter got this out of the library and decided on this as the latest read-aloud bedtime story book. It's a fantasy about a girl in a kingdom that prizes singing ability. And it's sortuva preteen romance-y type thing and really geared towards younger girls. So... it was okay for my daughter but OMG this did nothing for me. I thought it pretty clunky and slow and just, well, dull. Maybe it's okay for you, though.
started 20 april 2014, finished may 2014
Akata Witch

  Akata Witch • Nnedi Okorafor
HC 349 pages ISBN-10: 0670011967 ISBN-13: 978-0670011964
This was a breath of fresh air, very cool, imaginative, and off the beaten path, especially when it comes to fantasy. Here's the inside flap copy:
Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent," with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?
I zipped right through this tale and loved the characters, the setting, and easy pace at which the story unfolded. I will likely read more by this author.
started 1 may 2014, finished 12 may 2014 amazon
A Game of Thrones

  A Game of Thrones • George R. R. Martin
pb 807 pages
Read it the first time eight years ago. Watching the HBO series got me interested all over again. So.
finished 29 april 2014
The Dragons of Ordinary Farm

  The Dragons of Ordinary Farm • Tad Williams & Deborah Beale
HC 416 pages ISBN-10: 0061543454 ISBN-13: 978-0061543456
Got this out of the library for a read-aloud book with my daughter. Got as far as two-thirds through it. But so little happens at such a snail's pace we're giving up on this bore.
started march 2014, abandoned april 2014
Grimalkin the Witch Assassin

  Grimalkin the Witch Assassin (The Last Apprentice, Book 9)
• Joseph Delaney
pb 416 pages ISBN-10: 0062082086 ISBN-13: 978-0062082084
This series is never not good. They are fast-moving stories filled with witches, beasts, fights, ghouls of every stripe and narrow escapes. They can also be gruesome but this is a horror series so that's no surprise. This book is a bit of departure in that Grimalkin is the protagonist (and narrator) and Tom Ward (the apprentice spook) sits this one out. She's a great character, though. Also, one note: I've recently learned that this series will end with book 13. Fitting, that.
started 26 march 2014, finished 9 april 2014 amazon
Rise Of Empire

  Rise of Empire (Riyria Revelations, vol 2) • Michael J. Sullivan
tpb 688 pages ISBN-10: 0316187704 ISBN-13: 978-0316187701
This volume contains books 3 and 4 of the Riyria Revelations. They follow the adventures of Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater. But they've largely moved on from their previous pursuits and are fully caught up in the political intrigue enveloping their world. Three factions are angling for power. I read book 3 (the first half of this volume) months ago and then returned to finish it this month. Sometimes the story doesn't quite grab me but then it always gets better as I continue. By and large it's light-hearted adventure stuff that is easy and fun reading.
started 20 july 2013, 25 march 2014 amazon

  Momo • Michael Ende
pb 227 pages ISBN-10: 0140079165 ISBN-13: 978-0140079166
This book had been sitting on my shelves and that turned out to be a good thing because I needed another book to read aloud to my daughter. This story about a young homeless girl named Momo who arrives at the edge of the (nameless) city and makes her home in the ruins of an old amphitheatre. She soon becomes very popular with many of the children of the city and some of the adults because in her presence people think clearly and she really listens to people. But then the men in gray arrive. They are insidiously stealing time from people with their nefarious Time-Saving Bank. Momo, however, is impervious to their charms, but as the situation worsens, she has to do something about it. This book is very much about the value of your time and what you do with it. (Hint: don't get carried away by ambition and haste.) This book is also sort of an odd tale that slowly gets under your skin. We enjoyed it.
started 4 feb 2014, finished 6 mar 2014 amazon
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore • Robin Sloan
pb 304 pages ISBN-10: 1250037751 ISBN-13: 978-1250037756
A twentysomething website designer suddenly finds himself without a job and takes a job at the titular bookstore. He quickly learns that the odd bookstore has even odder books and few (and secretive) customers. So he investigates what's going and brings in some friends into the investigations and they lead to a secret society. There's a lot of cool ideas going on here and so many geek and pop-culture references that it helps to be familiar with Generation X stuff. But while the story drew me in immediately, once I was halfway through it wasn't as much as a page-turner as before. Also, the characters are basically ciphers. But it was interesting enough to finish it. One thing is for sure, the author is a big fan of books, the internet, and Google.
finished 2 mar 2014 amazon

last dozen books read
Magyk (Septimus Heap, Book 1) ~ Angie Sage
A Clash of Kings ~ George R R Martin
Pretty Monsters ~ Kelly Link
Angelmaker ~ Nick Harkaway
The Six-Gun Tarot ~ R. S. Belcher
Fairest ~ Gail Carson Levine
Akata Witch ~ Nnedi Okorafor
A Game of Thrones ~ George R R Martin
Grimalkin the Witch Assassin ~ Joseph Delaney
Rise of Empire ~ Michael J Sullivan
Momo ~ Michael Ende
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
~ Robin Sloan