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Majkia (Jean) Reads What Strikes Her Fancy

2018 Category Challenge

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Edited: Apr 1, 1:24pm Top

Welcome to my 2018 Category Challenge.

I wanted something simple, and freeing. And I particularly wanted my posting of what I was reading to be simple. So I decided to stick with 12 Categories, one for each month. In addition, I'm adding a Random category and the one category for a re-read of the World of Malaz.

I generally read between 75 and 90 books. Most of them will also be ROOTs, books from my vast planet TBR. I read more audio books than ebooks, and I do my best to avoid reading physical books because my arthritis bothers me when I hold physical books.

I'm using illustrations from the works of Alphonse Mucha. I've loved his work for many years, and when I went on a Danube cruise last year the only real souvenir I bought was a set of Mucha bookmarks, just because they were beautiful.

Edited: Dec 24, 2017, 7:49am Top

Edited: Feb 1, 7:37am Top


Books Read
1. Black Dog - Stephen Booth - ColorCAT, ROOT, BingoDog
2. They Shall Have Stars - James Blish - Dice, ROOT, BingoDog
3. The Hanging Girl - Jussi Adler-Olsen - ColorCAT, ROOT, MysteryCAT
4. Command Decision - Elizabeth Moon - ColorCAT, ROOT, SFFKIT, AlphaKIT
5. Gardens of the Moon - Steven Erikson - Malazan, ROOT, ColorCAT
6. The Christie Curse - Victoria Abbott - ROOT, AlphaKIT, RandomCAT
7. Maids of Misfortune - M. Louisa Locke - ROOT, AlphaKIT

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

1 - Dice
1 - Malazan
4 - AlphaKIT - V and M
1 - RandomCAT - BookBullet
1 - MysteryCAT - Nordic
4 - ColorCAT - Black
0 - ScaredyKIT - Gothic
3 - BingoDOG
7 - ROOTs

Additional Stats
3 Female Authors/ 4 Male Authors

Edited: Feb 28, 4:31pm Top


Books Read
1. The Scar - China Mieville
2. After the Crown - K.B. Wagers
3. Beyond the Empire - K.B. Wagers
4. A Darkling Sea - James L. Cambrias
5. The Case of the Copper Corpse - Alan Bradley
6. Hunted - Kevin Hearne
7. Revenger - Alastair Reynolds
8. Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton
9. La Belle Sauvage - Philip Pullman
10. Bride of the Rat-God - Barbara Hambly
11. Prince of Thorns - Mark Lawrence
12. The 6th Extinction - James Rollins

Pages Read This Month - 4754

Challenges of the Month

2 -SFFKIT - Urban Fantasy
6 -AlphaKIT - P and J
2 - RandomCAT
1 -MysteryCAT - Female
3 - ColorCAT - Brown
7 - ScaredyKIT - Survival/Disaster
5 - BingoDOG
1 - Throw the Dice
10 - ROOT
1 - RTT Monthly

Edited: Apr 1, 1:26pm Top


Books Read
1. The Fell Sword - Miles Cameron
2. Welcome to Night Vale - Joseph Fink
3. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
4. Faithful Place - Tana French
5. The Fold - Peter Cline
6. Illuminae - Amie Kaufman
7. For We Are Many - Dennis E. Taylor
8. Jade City - Fonda Lee
9. All These Worlds - Dennis E. Taylor
10. The Last Judgement - Ian Pears

Pages Read This Month 4830

Challenges of the Month

4 - SFFKIT - Off World
7 - AlphaKIT - F and I
2 - MysteryCAT - Global
2 - ColorCAT - Green
2 - ScaredyKIT - Weird Fiction
3 - BingoDOG
9 - ROOT

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:23am Top


Books Read

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

SFFKIT - Time Travel
AlphaKIT - Y and U
MysteryCAT - Classic/Golden Age
ColorCAT - Yellow
ScaredyKIT - Supernatural

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:24am Top

Cat 5 May

Books Read

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

SFFKIT - Rise up! /Revolution
AlphaKIT - Q and K
RandomCAT -
MysteryCAT - Transit
ColorCAT - Blue
ScaredyKIT - Close to Home

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:25am Top

Cat 6 June

Books Read

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

AlphaKIT - G and R
MysteryCAT - True Crime
ColorCAT - Purple
ScaredyKIT - Adapted to Film

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:26am Top

Cat 7 July

Books Read

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

SFFKIT -Cyber/TechnoPunk
AlphaKIT - S and A
MysteryCAT - Police Procedural
ColorCAT - Pink
ScaredyKIT - Techno/Science

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:31am Top


Books Read

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

SFFKIT - Makes You Laugh
AlphaKIT - O and D
MysteryCAT - Historical
ColorCAT - Gray
ScaredyKIT - Series

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:33am Top


Books Read

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

SFFKIT - Myths/legends/FairyTales
AlphaKIT - B and E
ColorCAT - Metallic
MysteryCAT - Noir/Hard Boiled
ScardeyKIT- King and Fam

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:35am Top


Books Read

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

SFFKIT - Historical/Alt
AlphaKIT - N and L
MysteryCAT - Espionage
ColorCAT - Orange
ScaredyKIT - Ghost Stories

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:36am Top


Books Read

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

SFFKIT - Creatures
AlphaKIT - T and H
MysteryCAT - Cozy
ColorCAT - Red
ScaredyKIT - Serial Killers

Edited: Dec 1, 2017, 7:37am Top


Books Read

Pages Read This Month

Challenges of the Month

SFFKIT - How It All Ends
AlphaKIT - C and W
MysteryCAT - Fantastical/Futuristic
ColorCAT - White
ScaredyKIT - Psych Suspense

Edited: Mar 14, 11:36am Top

Cat 13: Throw of the Dice

I will use Random.org each month to select a book from my TBR. If a book selected is in a series, I'll read the next book I'm due to read rather than say the 7th book when I'm only up to the 3rd.

Books Read
Jan: They Shall Have Stars
Feb: After the Crown
Mar: The Lives of Tao

Edited: Mar 14, 11:37am Top

Cat 14: Malazan Re-Read

This picture makes me think of Dancer for some reason.

Since some of these books are pushing 1K pages, and the writing can be exceedingly dense, I will read what I have time for, and not push to get to a specific place in the series at years end, but will just continue the reading until I'm done. Again.

Reading both Steven Erikson's works and Ian Esselmont's works. Order is suggested by the Malazan Empire website.

1. Gardens of the Moon
2. Deadhouse Gates
3. Blood Follows
4. The Lees of Laughter's End
5. The Wurms of Blearmouth
6. Memories of Ice
7. House of Chains
8. The Healthy Dead
9. Midnight Tides
10. Night of Knives
11. The Bonehunters
12. Reaper's Gale
13. Crack'd Pot Trail
14. Return of the Crimson Guard
15. Toll the Hounds
16. Stonewielder
17. Goats of Glory
18. Dust of Dreams
19. Orb Sceptre Throne
20. The Crippled God
21. Blood and Bone
22. Assail
23. Forge of Darkness
24. Fall of Light
25. Walk in Shadow

Edited: Apr 1, 3:40pm Top

Bingo Dog

1. Famous Person in Title - The Christie Curse
2. Published >100 years ago
3. Published other than in English -
4. New to you author - Stephen Booth
5. Relative Name in Title
6. Money in title
7. Published in 2018
8. X in Title
9. >500 pages - The Scar
10. Set During a Holiday
11. LGBT central character
12. 1001 List
13. READ A CAT - Welcome to Night Vale
14 Number in Title - The 6th Extinction
15. Humourous Book
16. Unread 2017 Purchase -La Belle Sauvage
17. Something in the sky in Title - Cloud Atlas
18. Pacific Ocean related - Bride of the Rat-God
19. Fits at least 2 KITs/CATs - The Last Judgement
20. Beautiful Cover
21. Autobio/Memoir
22. Poetry/Play
23. Longtime TBR
24. Story involves travel - They Shall Have Stars
25. Rank in Title - Prince of Thorns - Mark Lawrence

Edited: Mar 8, 3:39pm Top

SOME of the series I want to read

1. The Long Price Quartet: Daniel Abraham - A Shadow in Summer #1 (reread of book 1)
2. Powder Mage Tilogy - Brian McClellan - The Crimson Campaign #2
3. Riyia Chronicles- Michael J. Sullivan - The Crown Conspiracy #1
4. Iron Druid - Kevin Hearne - #7
5. Night Angel Trilogy - Brent Weekes - Shadows Edge #2
6. Traitor's Son Cycle - Miles Cameron - The Fell Sword #2, #3 The Dread Wyrm
7. The Shadow Campaign - Django Wexler - the Shadow Throne #2

Science Fiction:
8. Red Rising - Pierce Brown - Morning Star #3
9. Greg Mendel: Peter F. Hamilton - Mindstar Rising #1
10. The Academy - Jack Devitt - Starhawk #1
11. Saga of Seven Suns - Kevin J. Anderson - A Forest of Stars #2
12. Old Man's War: John Scalzi - The Sagan Diary - #3
13. Culture - Iain M. Banks - Excession #5
14. Indranan War - K.B. Wagers
15. Night's Dawn : Peter F. Hamilton - The Reality Dysfunction #1

16. Ian Rutledge - Charles Todd - Watchers of Time #5
17. Pendergast - Preston/Child - Fever Dream #10
18. Sebastian St Cyr - C.S. Harris - What Darkness Brings #8
19. Dublin Murder Squad - Tana French - The Faithful Place #3
20. Sigma Force- James Rollins - The 6th Extinction #10 , The Bone Labyrinth #11

I haven't listed series I'm caught up on, figuring I don't need much of a reminder to get to them.

Edited: Sep 18, 2017, 8:16am Top

One more - Not very revelatory, I know!

Sep 18, 2017, 9:53pm Top

Are you doing the TBR challenge again?

Sep 18, 2017, 9:55pm Top

>20 LittleTaiko: No. Most, 90% of my reads are TBRs so...

Sep 18, 2017, 11:28pm Top

Wonderful set up, Jean and I love the artwork. Enjoy your reading year.

Sep 19, 2017, 4:06am Top

Mucha, yay! That's a wonderful selection of images. I hope the books match them!

Sep 19, 2017, 10:10am Top

What beautiful pictures -- I LOVE Mucha! Also, I am totally with you on the months-as-categories thing!

Sep 25, 2017, 8:14pm Top

Mucha is one of my favorite artists! Such vibrant colors!

Sep 27, 2017, 12:59pm Top

Love your monthly set-up and the images are simply beautiful!

Oct 15, 2017, 8:06am Top

I found a really fabulous spreadsheet for reading a few weeks ago. I was going to share the site with anyone who is interested but the site is currently down for maintenance. It tracks your reading, your purchasing, and then breaks everything down by genre, number of pages, tracks challenges etc. I have a copy of the spreadsheet if anyone is interested.

It can be adapted for yourself a bit, but I'm not sure how much you dare change because of the statistics it collects. Anyway, if interested, let me know and I'll share.

Oct 16, 2017, 12:14am Top

Happy to see your monthly setup again! Good idea to have a few side challenges and keep the rest of the reading open.

Oct 16, 2017, 9:23am Top

>27 majkia: Ooh, that sounds interesting!

Oct 16, 2017, 11:55am Top

>29 christina_reads: Good, the website is back up. Find the spreadsheet and the discussion here:


Nov 5, 2017, 2:50pm Top

For anybody checking this thread, did I remember to get everyone's wiki's set up? Let me know if I forgot you!

Nov 5, 2017, 4:42pm Top

Is that just for our own personal info? I'm still sorting through the explanation.

Nov 5, 2017, 7:31pm Top

I do wikis for the various challenges. I'm trying to make sure I didn't promise to do one for a challenge and then forgot. Sorry for not being clear!

Nov 6, 2017, 12:44pm Top

Nice job with your 2018 thread! I'm inspired...

Nov 6, 2017, 3:02pm Top

your chosen artwork is gorgeous!

Nov 10, 2017, 2:38pm Top

Beautiful artwork! And thanks for sharing the spreadsheet look, this looks very interesting. :)

Nov 12, 2017, 8:16am Top

Lovely thread, Jean. I really like how you have set it up, and the images are so beautiful. And that spreadsheet!!

Nov 12, 2017, 1:16pm Top

I absolutely love the images you have chosen to represent your monthly categories!

Nov 12, 2017, 3:36pm Top

>31 majkia: Thanks again for looking after the MysteryCAT wiki.

Nov 13, 2017, 11:30pm Top

Ooh, I love the images that you've chosen. Sounds like you've done lots of work for the group already.

Nov 14, 2017, 8:07am Top

Hey guys! Thanks for the kind words. I've visited all your threads and hope every one of us in the group have a wonderful reading year. So much else breaks my heart about the world, so reading is my crutch and my heart-saving tactic.

Nov 15, 2017, 7:27am Top

I've used an extra spot #18 to list a FEW of the series I want to finish or make more headway in for 2018. We'll see how well I do. I need to read 1000 books a year!

Nov 17, 2017, 1:07pm Top

The artwork for your categories is gorgeous! They will be a pleasure to revisit every time you add another book I am sure! I set up my own spreadsheet a number of years ago in Google Spreadsheets. I keep track of target age (adult, YA, juvenile), number of pages, what form/source (Kindle, library, shelf), and genre. I subtotal each month and keep YTD numbers up-to-date monthly. I like that it is in the cloud so I can add to it wherever and whenever I want. It's fun to compare my progress.

Edited: Dec 3, 2017, 9:08am Top

Favorite Books of 2017: (in no particular order and subject to an addition through end of December)

Waking the Moon - Elizabeth Hand
The Steerswoman - Rosemary Kirstein
A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab
Dagger and Coin series - Daniel Abraham
Behind the Throne - K. B. Wagers
Six Wakes - Mur LAfferty
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) Dennis E. Taylor
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Uprooted - Naomi Novik
The Red Knight - Miles Cameron

Dec 3, 2017, 8:26am Top

>44 majkia: is it that time already, favorites of 2017? Where did this year go?

Dec 3, 2017, 8:57am Top

>45 fuzzi: I'm kinda revvin' myself up for next year. :)

Dec 5, 2017, 9:04pm Top

>46 majkia: It's refreshing to have a new beginning coming up isn't it? Best wishes for a great year.

Dec 6, 2017, 4:21pm Top

>44 majkia: I definitely second your opinions of Uprooted and A Darker Shade of Magic! Hmm, thinking about my own list now...

Dec 7, 2017, 9:57pm Top

>48 christina_reads: :)

>47 clue: Yeah, but.... I was all excited about starting a new year of reading and jumping right into things.... But... Well, Hopefully.... I'm due for cataract surgery on 2 January.

That said, now if it goes half as well as the first eye went two years ago, it won't affect my reading too badly for more than a day or two. Fingers crossed!

Dec 8, 2017, 10:29am Top

>Fingers crossed! I hope all goes well.

Dec 8, 2017, 12:04pm Top

Dec 8, 2017, 4:41pm Top

>49 majkia: hope everything does go well with your surgery!

Dec 8, 2017, 6:19pm Top

>49 majkia: Crossing all things crossable!

Dec 10, 2017, 12:03am Top

Best wishes on a speedy recovery! What did you like about We Are Legion? I keep having Audible recommend it to me, but didn't know anyone who had actually read it.

Edited: Dec 10, 2017, 6:08am Top

Thanks RP and fuzzi! I'm pretty confident all will go well.

>54 cmbohn: Thanks. And I loved We Are Legion because it was funny and imaginative and still with science! I felt pretty much the same way about The Martian if you've read that one, but We Are Legion was even funnier.

Dec 16, 2017, 9:43am Top

January Plans:

At the moment I have lined up:

KITs and CATs:

RandomCAT: "Book bullet" - The Christie Curse - Victoria Abbott - and AlphaKIT

RTT: "Cold" - Ice Hunt- James Rollins

MysteryCAT: "Nordic" - The Hanging Girl- Jussi Adler-Olsen

ColorCAT : "Black" - Black Dog - Steven Booth

ScaredyKIT: "Gothic" - The Scar - China Mieville (and AlphaKIT)

SFF KIT: "Wanted to read last year" - The Scar - China Mieville

My Challenges:

Throw The Dice: They Shall Have Stars - James Blish

Malaz - Gardens of the Moon - Steven Erikson

KIT Trick! The Scar - for Alpha, Scaredy, and SFF KITs!

Dec 16, 2017, 2:17pm Top

>56 majkia: impressive!

Dec 20, 2017, 1:07pm Top

The Scar sounds really interesting! I've read a number of Mieville's books.

Dec 20, 2017, 2:10pm Top

>58 mamzel: I've really liked every Mieville book I've read. And they are each very different from each other. And all have a very unconventional view of reality and what is important.

Dec 20, 2017, 6:26pm Top

>59 majkia: I agree. Embassytown was a book that I read very carefully to try and wrap my head around the language system.

Dec 20, 2017, 6:46pm Top

Hadn't had a chance to get here yet. Love your pictures for your categories. Also your comment in #42 about reading 1000 books a year. I'm in the same boat.

Dec 21, 2017, 7:43am Top

Wishing all who celebrate a Blessed/Happy Yule and Solstice!

Dec 21, 2017, 12:28pm Top

Cool picture! We're having a little neighborhood get together right after sunset with a small "bonfire" and mulled cider to celebrate.

Dec 25, 2017, 6:53am Top

>63 dudes22: Oh I bet that was fun!

To all who celebrate:

Dec 25, 2017, 8:16pm Top

Peace and joy to you and yours, Jean!

Dec 29, 2017, 10:57am Top

>64 majkia: love it!

Dec 29, 2017, 11:38am Top

Hi Jean,

Nice artwork! I'm reading monthly also and I will also be reading The Hanging Girl for the MysteryCAT.

Jan 2, 4:15pm Top

Survived a cataract surgery, and should be able to begin reading soon. Eye fine, just still dilated.

Jan 2, 8:27pm Top

>68 majkia: I'm sure you're glad that's behind you, best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Jan 2, 10:47pm Top

>68 majkia: YIPPEE!

I'm trying to find reading glasses that work when I'm on the computer...think I'll ask my doc about computer glasses. ;)

Jan 3, 6:29am Top

Well, fuzzi, not so yippee. This morning I can barely see out of the eye. Very little light is getting to it. So... We'll see what the doc says in a couple of hours when I see him.

Jan 3, 10:19am Top

Hope you'll be on the mend and back to reading soon! :)

Jan 3, 10:46am Top

>70 fuzzi: >72 christina_reads: Ah, the light gets in! Apparently my eye was contracted down to a pinpoint from the drugs they'd used for the cataract operation. Apparently some folks eyes take longer to recover from the med than others. And, apparently, different eyes are different since I didn't have that issue with the other eye.

All seems well now. Whew!

Jan 3, 11:23am Top

>73 majkia: I'm glad your sight is improving.

Jan 3, 1:58pm Top

1. Black Dog - Stephen Booth
Series: Cooper and Fry #1

Challenges: ColorCAT, ROOT

Rating: Nicely done, with plenty of twists and turns

Interesting noir-ish take on country-set English murders. Cozy setting, not so cozy mystery. The setting was very well drawn, easily pictured and imagined. Cooper and Fry, junior police officers, were definitely still learning, and both were hampered by their pasts and their views of families and how other folks might behave.

Definitely plan to read more of this series.

Jan 3, 4:31pm Top

>75 majkia: I looked up this book on Amazon thanks to your review, and I was struck by the various "Twin Peaks" similarities -- Cooper, Diane, and a murdered girl called Laura! I wonder if that was intentional.

Edited: Jan 3, 6:14pm Top

>76 christina_reads: Oh! Good catch. I didn't see where he indicated that when he spoke of the book in the afterward. But certainly fits, doesn't it?

ETA: Just asked Stephen Booth on twitter. We'll see what he says!

Jan 3, 6:26pm Top

>73 majkia: glad to read your eye is on the mend. I had the opposite issue: my eye stayed dilated for a couple days.

Jan 3, 7:47pm Top

>78 fuzzi: Interesting! My first eye didn't give me any issues so I was doubly surprised by this!

Jan 3, 7:48pm Top

>77 majkia: So I asked Stephen Booth and he says he's never seen Twin Peaks but has had people mention the connections before although he wasn't aware of the Diane connection! So cool when you can directly ask an author something like this and he's great enough to answer!

Jan 4, 10:26am Top

>80 majkia: Ha, that is awesome! Thanks for asking. :) It's great when authors will take the time to engage with their readers.

Jan 5, 1:10am Top

Happy to read that your cataract surgery is behind you and you are able to read again!

Jan 5, 1:23pm Top

Happy New Year Jean! I'm glad that you're recovering well from your surgery.
>62 majkia: Love the Solstice graphic (I'm so far behind on threads)

Jan 6, 12:02am Top

>68 majkia: - Glad to see that the cataract surgery went well and your sight is improving.

Jan 6, 6:44am Top

Thanks everyone for the kind comments re the cataract surgery. Glad that is behind me!

Jan 6, 2:38pm Top

2. They Shall Have Stars - James Blish - Cities in Flight #1 - Written 1966

ROOT, Dice, BingoDOG

Rating: Despite its age it holds up for me.

I've always remembered this series as one of my favorites from when I was young. I finally found an ebook edition, so wanted to re-visit it.

It held up. It is upbeat, despite portraying an Earth which is a mess, torn by upheaval and despair, politically a mess. Yet visionaries look for ways to change the paradigm, and reach for the stars.

I'm tired of depressing books, and want ones that uplift us, that give us hope and remind us that we can achieve fabulous things so long as we believe we can. We can't just give in to despair. We have to strive against it.

Jan 6, 9:43pm Top

I remember liking that one. I think there are four in the series.

Edited: Jan 9, 12:32pm Top

>86 majkia: good to see an oldie "hold up" some 50 years later.

I've been in a reading funk, so I went with something that would cheer me up, my old favorite Chanur series by CJ Cherryh, starting with The Pride of Chanur, and then Chanur's Venture (currently rereading). I'll probably just finish up with books 3 and 4 while I'm revisiting this series...I love LOVE these books, and characters!

I think they're helping me get over my funk, too...they're funny, character-driven, space opera type of scifi.

Jan 10, 1:50pm Top

Fuzzi, I remember that you are a big CJ Cherryh fan. I've given up on a few of her books. I just didn't want to trek through the desert one more time. I have The Pride of Chanur and Downbelow Station and want to give her at least one more try.

I liked the writing, I just really hate desert stuff, which is weird since I loved Egypt when I was there.

Jan 11, 12:56pm Top

>89 majkia: neither of those are "desert" books, ha.

Jan 13, 5:09pm Top

3. The Hanging Girl - Jussi Adler-Olsen Department #6 - ROOT, ColorCAT, MysteryCAT

Rating: Had me guessing all the way through.

Department Q gets roped into an old case when the investigating officer shoots himself the day he retires. Carl is not happy about it, thinks it's a waste of time, because it appears to be a hit-and-run death but probably an accident. Until he, Rose and Assad begin digging into things. Then it turns out to be a whole lot more complicated .

I do love this team of mismatched, cranky and hard to get along with folks, who somehow manage to find a way to work together.

And the suspects are well drawn, complex and interesting in their own right.

Jan 16, 3:29pm Top

4 Command Decision - Elizabeth Moon - Vatta's War #4

Challenges: ROOT, AlphaKIT, SFFKIT, ColorCAT

Rating: Exciting and fun military sci fi continues

I am really enjoying this series. Moon was in the Marines and you can really tell. She thinks, and has her main character, think like a military person. And while Ky Vatta is young and not as experienced as others, she thinks logically and thoroughly and seldom lets her emotions make mistakes for her.

The action is complex and the world well drawn and changeable in a believable fashion. And the characters are interesting and you want to cheer for them. I especially love the new guys on the block, Ransome's Rangers. :)

Jan 17, 12:31pm Top

>92 majkia: I read a couple books coauthored by Elizabeth Moon and Anne McCaffrey which I liked: Sassinak and The Death of Sleep. I enjoyed them, and seem to recall Ransome's Rangers in there, somewhere...

Jan 21, 3:41pm Top

5. Gardens of the Moon - Steven Erikson - #1 in the Malazan Book of the Fallen

Challenges: AlphaKIT, ColorCAT, Malazan, ROOT

Rating: Puts the EPIC in Epic Fantasy.

One of my hopes for this year is to delve more deeply into this series. I read them all but over an extended period. I'm hoping this re-read will be a bit more, er, concentrated. And I'm listening to the audios.

The books are all dense, complex, with interweaving plots that often fight with each other, just as real plotters find, others working against them. And so it is here. We have quite a few sides in a war: The Malazans, the people trying to stop the Malazan empire from conquering Derujistan, the mysterious lord of Moonspawn who no one understands, a Derujistan cabal of wizards, and last but not least, several Gods who put their oars in.

I love the concept of religion here, where mortals can 'ascend' and eventually become gods, but who also can be used by gods to further their own goals. The problem is trying to figure out who is being used, and by whom, and who is acting on their own.

At any rate, if you want to delve deep into SFF, especially military SFF, this is the series for you. But it's a difficult path you will tred.

Oh, and I like the audio versions. Ralph Lister does a yeoman's job at giving voice to various and sundry beings.

Jan 21, 4:35pm Top

>94 majkia: I don't know how I haven't heard of this series before. Thanks to your wonderful review I've placed my library's e-copy on hold. It appears the series is complete? That's a big plus - it's torture waiting on some of these writers to finish up their series.

Jan 21, 5:24pm Top

>95 virginiahomeschooler: Yes, the series is complete. Written, btw, by two separate authors, so there are also tales told within the main storyline by both Erkison and Ian Esslemont.

There are new stories being written in the world of Malaz but they are either prequels or otherwise separate from this storyline.

Hope you enjoy the Bridgeburners!

Jan 24, 9:52am Top

6. The Christie Curse - Victoria Abbott #1 in The Book Collector series.

Challenges: ROOT, AlphaKIT, RandomCAT

Rating: Cute cozy mystery with quite a few plot twists.

I enjoyed the story and liked the narrator (I listened to the Audio book). Funny, and light-hearted, it was a fun read, with twists and quite a few surprises along the way.

Jan 24, 1:59pm Top

>97 majkia: I suspect that one is better as an audio book than as a print one. I only rated the print version 2.5 stars.

Jan 24, 5:43pm Top

>98 thornton37814: That may well be. I thought the narrator did a very good job upping the fun bits.

Jan 28, 6:59am Top

7. Maids of Misfortune - M. Louisa Locke Series: Victorian San Francisco #1

Challenges: AlphaKIT, ROOT

Rating: Ok, but I thought the ending pretty messed up and the least believable part.

Pretty well depicted the plight of women and non-whites, which was a good part of the plot. The writing was quite good and the story kept my interest. I did find the ending to be a bit of a mishmash and not really up to the standards of the rest of the book.

Feb 1, 7:41am Top

For January, I read :

5 New books
2 Re--Reads

2577 Pages
3.71 : Average Rating

3 Female/4 Male Authors

2 SciFi, 1 Fantasy, 3 Mysteries, 1 Period Mystery

1 Book 500pp

Edited: Feb 2, 7:44am Top

8. The Scar - China Mieville Series: Bas-Lag #2

Challenges: ROOT, RandomCAT, ScaredyKIT

Rating: Complex and beautifully written, a tale of many scars

Mieville is one of my favorite authors. He manages to pack so many layers into what he writes. Despite horrors and incredibly painful worlds, they are still beautiful and so deeply layered you feel like you are there.

Feb 3, 6:23pm Top

>100 majkia: - Making note of your comments on this one as I have a copy waiting for me on my ereader.

>102 majkia: - YAY for continued Mieville love! I have not read The Scar. I will, someday.

Feb 4, 12:01pm Top

>103 lkernagh: Yeah. Mieville is pretty awesome!

Edited: Feb 6, 4:08pm Top

9. After the Crown - K.B. Wagers - Indranan Wars #2

Challenges: Roll the Dice, ROOT

Rating: Continuing right on to the third book in the trilogy, so that should say something.

So, it turns out gunrunning is the best sort of training ground for a future empress. Haile, runaway princess, has been brought back home to become empress when her family is murdered. Things don't go so well. But then Haile isn't the sort of woman to just accept a coup without fighting back.

Love the characters, all are well drawn. The world is interesting and you definitely want to find out what the heck Haile is going to do next. Thus, right on to the third book of the trilogy.

Feb 6, 4:08pm Top

10. Beyond the Empire - K.B. Wagers - Indranan Wars #3

Challenges: ROOT, ScaredyKIT, ColorCAT

Rating: Satisfying wrap-up to the trilogy but would like to learn more about the world and the hero.

Really enjoyed the series. Loved the main character, who takes no shite from anyone. She's down to earth, realistic about herself and her world, but ends up caring so much about her friends she's willing to put her life on the line for them.

Fast paced, lots of action, but the focus is more on individuals than on the wider field of action.

Feb 8, 11:19am Top

11. A Darkling Sea - James L. Cambias

Challenges: ROOT, ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT

Rating: Interesting and quite complex first contact story with the added element of happening in an environment exceedingly dangerous to Terrans.

Exploration has found intelligent life at the bottom of a sea on a moon. Earth has protocols: no first contact. Observe, do not interfere. But then contact is made accidentally and things go particularly pear-shaped when the other species Terrans share the skies with arrives. And they are definitely pissed off.

A little slow to start, but once the other aliens arrive, things heat up and the action keeps you reading.

The world building is interesting and complex. The characters are pretty well-drawn given that humans don't really get either alien species very well. The decisions by the Terrans are a bit hard on the imagination, in that I wonder if real people would be that willing to risk their lives in so hostile an environment. But definitely intriguing nonetheless.

Feb 8, 12:47pm Top

>107 majkia: I love books about "first contact" so this one goes on my wishlist. " I wonder if real people would be that willing to risk their lives in so hostile an environment." I think that everytime I watch the news and see some of those mid-east countries like Afghanistan!

Feb 8, 3:27pm Top

Feb 8, 3:29pm Top

12. The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse - Alan Bradley
Series: Flavia de Luce #6.5

Rating: Meh

I love Flavia, but this was too short to really have her get into 'character' so to speak.

Feb 8, 6:07pm Top

>110 majkia: I thought it was good for a short story. That's basically how I treated its review.

Feb 8, 8:09pm Top

>102 majkia: I love Mieville too and The Scar is one I haven't read. I might try to read it for March's ScaredyKIT theme, "Weird Fiction".

Feb 9, 5:55pm Top

>110 majkia: I concur. There was virtually nothing to this story.

Feb 11, 9:29am Top

13. Hunted - Kevin Hearne Series: Iron Druid #6

Challenges: ROOT, ScaredyKIT, SFFKIT

Rating: A bit too much running, but a good entry to the series nonetheless (which, truth be told, generally involves a lot of running)

Listening to the Audio, and I adore Luke Daniels, particularly his Oberon.

Atticus, Oberon and Granuile are being pursued across Europe by bad guys egged on by some unknown enemy.

Oberon, his head firmly in the now, is such a good contrast to Atticus, who focuses on his past and why folks are after him, and Granuile who is currently still getting used to being a fully functioning Druid and learning about her abilities.

And I adored the ending, and am eager for the next book!

Feb 13, 5:51pm Top

14. Revenger - Alastair Reynolds Series: Revenger #1

Challenges: ROOT, RandomCAT, ScaredyKIT

Rating: What a terrifically fun read!

Two young girls escape their home because of the nefarious doctor who keeps wanting to do odd things to them. They sign on with a spaceship to be bonereaders.

Supposedly YA I guess, but definitely adult in outlook, and complexity of moral decisions both girls end up making. There is a lot of hard science given that the world they live in is pretty much the dark ages compared to the ruins of advanced civilizations they see around them. They set out to find artifacts most of which no one understands any more and have no hope of duplicating.

And then the pirate shows up. Not a soft sort of pirate either, but one who enjoys pain and suffering and is more than willing to inflict it.

Really enjoyed it and looking forward to the further adventures of Fura and her sister.

Feb 13, 11:20pm Top

I have the Iron Druid series on my TBR list. I need to get to that one.

Feb 15, 9:33am Top

>115 majkia: You got me with this one. Sounds great!

Feb 20, 10:26am Top

15. Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton Series: Jurassic Park 1

Rating: Still holds up on a lot of fronts

Written in 1990, I expected the science to be dated, but really, since there was a lot of talk about the morality and intellgence behind just doing something because we could, I thought that part held up beautifully.

I liked a lot of changes they made for the movie, particularly giving the females a more proactive role than the book did.

Edited: Feb 24, 6:05am Top

16. La Belle Sauvage - Philip Pullman - Series: Book of Dust #1

Rating: Oh my!!!

Prequel to his Dark Materials series, it is unputdownable as we are swept up into the race to save baby Lyra from mysterious forces who are after her.

I'd forgotten how much (and why) I'd enjoyed the first series so much but now, can't wait for book 2. Pullman can really tell a tale..

Feb 23, 7:31am Top

We've been camping for the past week at Eastbank Campgrounds on Lake Seminole. We'll be here until the 28th. It is a lovely campground.

Feb 23, 7:36am Top

The views are gorgeous!

Feb 23, 10:22am Top

I'm going to come back to look at that top photo every time I need to relax.

Feb 23, 10:35am Top

>120 majkia: Lovely photos. Enjoy your trip!

Feb 23, 12:24pm Top

>121 MissWatson: yes, the sunsets are often spectacular here.

>122 LittleTaiko: I can see why!

>123 virginiahomeschooler: Thanks!

Edited: Feb 23, 1:52pm Top

>114 majkia:
"(which, truth be told, generally involves a lot of running)"
Ha! So true!

>119 majkia:
This is great to hear - it was a preorder for me, so it is waiting for me on the Kindle... Yey!

>120 majkia:
So much envy.

Feb 23, 2:29pm Top

That is a lovely looking campground, enjoy your time there!

Feb 24, 6:07am Top

>125 -Eva-: Sorry about the envy, Eva! And yes, the prequel was great.

>126 DeltaQueen50: It is lovely and we are indeed enjoying it. We'll be back.... in May I think.

Feb 24, 1:24pm Top

17. Bride of the Rat-God - Barbara Hambly - Series: Colossus Films #1

Rating: Chinese demon, guardian Pekineses, 1920s starlet !

Good fun with an early version of urban fantasy. A 1920s starlet finds herself stalked by a Chinese demons and it takes her and a lot of friends to save her!

Edited: Feb 25, 2:01pm Top

18. The Prince of Thorns - Mark Lawrence - Series: The Broken Empire #1

Challenges: BingoDog, AlphaKIT, ROOT

Rating: Hard to love protag, sword and sorcery which turns out to sci fi!

Unreliable and mostly unlikeable (at least at first) protagonist. The story itself has some twists and turns and alters about half way through. Very well written. Very dark and gory.

I'll definitely be continuing on.

Feb 25, 3:34pm Top

>129 majkia: I originally received the audio version of his book, Prince of Fools from The Red Queen's War series, from ER and found a new favorite author. I listened to it in my car and found myself laughing out loud more than once. I'm glad you discovered him, too.

Feb 25, 9:01pm Top

>130 mamzel: I can see why! I did too. He's definitely a smart ass.

Feb 26, 1:29pm Top

>130 mamzel:, >131 majkia:
Funny, smart-ass main character, you say? BB taken!!

Edited: Feb 28, 4:17pm Top

18. The 6th Extinction - James Rollins - Series: Sigma Force #10

Challenges: AlphaKIT, ScaredyKIT, BingoDog

Rating: The usual exciting complex and unpredictable mix of science and military response to threats.

I really love how much this series examines scientific advances and the ways they might create totally new ways for bad actors to create havoc.

And who doesn't love Kowalski.

Edited: Mar 1, 6:39am Top

Feb Summary

12 - Books Read
pp: 4754
3 - ebook, 9 - audio
3 - female authors, 9 - male authors
2 - borrowed from library, 10 - TBR books

Best Book for month: La Belle Sauvage

Mar 6, 3:09pm Top

20. The Fell Sword - Miles Cameron - Series: The Traitor Son Cycle #2

Challenges: ROOT, AlphaKIT

Rating: Epic fantasy with a grimdark twist.

I really enjoyed the first book of the series, and am glad to report I enjoyed the second book as well. My only complaint is that I'd like to have seen a bit more of the Red Knight, as this one widens the field considerably and we jump amongst friends and foes throughout.

The Red Knight and his company of mercs, hire on to assist the Emperor. However, things go sideways before they can even arrive, with the Emperor kidnapped and possibly killed, so our guys start out in a hole and have to fight their way clear.

We learn more of who the Red Knight is, see more of his powers on display and are confronted with more of the Wild critters as well as powerful beings both on the side of the Wild and more neutral creatures who stick an oar into the action, quite often making this far more difficult and complex.

I love the humor amidst the carnage, and the understated way the Red Knight controls his company and events. He's always got a plan - and said plans generally make his company groan aloud. Because, although he always has a plan, he seldom explains those plans and his friends have to take him - and them - on faith.

Mar 8, 3:28pm Top

21. Welcome to Night Vale - Joseph Fink

Challenges: ROOT, AlphaKIT, ScaredyKIT

Rating: Fun and weird adaptation of podcasts

Reminded me of my younger days when we'd travel for hours in the car, and tune in to a strong signal (usually from Buffalo or Chicago, sometimes NYC) and listen to late night transmissions of alien abductions and other conspiracy theories. Back in the day they weren't so political and nasty but instead were rather fun.

Anyway, Night Vale is hidden in the desert and has a wide range of beings as residents - alive and dead. Traffic reports, weather reports and news items tend to, well, reinforce the weird.

Mar 8, 4:19pm Top

>136 majkia: My son and I drove from Virginia to Georgia and back a couple of years ago and listened to Night Vale podcasts most of the trip. Some were pretty hysterical.

Mar 14, 11:30am Top

22. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

Challenges: ScaredyKIT

Rating: Hmmmm

I loved the writing, and the characters were so deftly and complexly drawn they were great. But I sort of like a plot...

Mar 14, 11:49am Top

>138 majkia: I sort of like a plot... HA! I have to agree with you there!

Edited: Mar 14, 12:12pm Top

>138 majkia:
"Rating: Hmmmm"
LOL at that! :)

Mar 14, 3:52pm Top

As my plan is to read as many of the 1001 Books as I can, Cloud Atlas is certainly on my radar but I am afraid that the "no plot" aspect will put me off. I've been monitoring the group read and if it wasn't that I am already in group reads of The Forsyte Saga and Kristin Lavransdatter I would have joined in.

Mar 14, 4:15pm Top

>141 DeltaQueen50:
I think you will like it, since the characters are so very intriguing. You and I tend to agree on books that are mainly character-driven. (With the caveat that I'm only half-way through Cloud Atlas.)

Mar 14, 5:43pm Top

>142 -Eva-: Thanks for reassuring me, Eva. The only other David Mitchell I have read is Black Swan Green and I really liked it.

Mar 15, 9:19pm Top

>138 majkia: I've never been able to determine if I'll enjoy Cloud Atlas or not, so I keep avoiding it. I'll probably eventually give it a try. I could always Pearl Rule it if it isn't working for me.

Mar 16, 4:12pm Top

Regarding Cloud Atlas . I'd suggest everyone giving it a try. There are sort of minor plots, within the different stories, so it isn't totally plotless. But at the same time, what links them is very vague and unclear and doesn't really explain anything. I find that particularly frustrating, as it is too much like life! LOL maybe.

The characterizations were terrific though. I found someone to care about in every different story and in some of them they were amazing characters.

As said above, give it a try, and Pearl Rule it if it doesn't appeal.

Mar 16, 4:14pm Top

23. The Lives of Tao - Westley Chu - Series: Lives of Tao, #1

Challenges: ROOT, Throw the Dice

Rating: Meh.

It had some interesting ideas, but I thought the story drug a lot and I had to consciously pick it up and not skitter off to my audio readings. (Thus I've read a lot of audios whilst I was working on this ebook).

Mar 17, 7:28am Top

I too have sort-of avoided Cloud Atlas because of the "no plot" aspect. But a lot of people have loved it too. I wonder if watching the movie first would help make the links between the stories easier to understand? I know the book would have a lot more to it, and I usually (I think really always if I know there's a book) like to read the book first, but it's an idea I might think about.

Mar 17, 8:09am Top

>147 dudes22: At least one person I know said seeing the movie first helped. I did see the movie, but it was so long ago it didn't help me any. Still, I'm glad I read it because the writing was so wonderful.

The other aspect people have been complaining about is the dialects, especially the Hawaiian. I listened to the audio so for me that was a plus, rather than a negative. Far easier to listen to it than to struggle to read dialect, at least IMHO.

Mar 17, 8:13am Top

OH - something to think about.

Mar 17, 2:59pm Top

Both watching the movie and listening to an audio version sound like great ideas! I think I will definitely add this to my next years list.

Edited: Mar 18, 4:35pm Top

24. Faithful Place - Tana Fench Series: Dublin Murder Squad #3

Challenges: AlphaKIT, MysteryCAT, ROOT

Rating: Tana French definitely gets dysfunctional families.

Her series is never predictable. The characters change, but the depth of the psychological labyrinths involved are always complex and wildly emotional.

This book cements this series for me, as one of my favorite psychological thriller series. Maybe my favorite.

Watch out though. If your family is/was dysfunctional, it'll bring back memories you'd perhaps rather not surface.

Mar 19, 5:38pm Top

>148 majkia:
I got the audioversion from the library, just for that middle part - it helped a lot! I'm planning on seeing the movie once I've finished the book and am very interested to see how they've structured it.

Mar 20, 12:13pm Top

25. The Fold - Peter Clines

Challenges: ROOT, AlphaKIT, SFFKIT

Rating: Quantum donuts!

An unputdownable romp with Game of Throne and Star Trek references, quantum physics, Mycroftian eidetic memory, horror elements and characters you care about.

I listened to the audio version and Roy Porter is just terrific with the humor and the horror.

Mar 20, 3:23pm Top

Happy Spring. My garden to yours.

Mar 20, 4:36pm Top

>154 majkia:

Mar 20, 5:06pm Top

That wisteria is fabulous! We're supposed to be getting more snow tonight... boo hoo.

Mar 21, 4:51am Top

I think I'm jealous.

Mar 21, 11:53pm Top

Beautiful flowers!

Mar 23, 6:31am Top

26. Illuminae - Amie Kaufman Series: Illuminae Files #1 608 pp

Challenges: BFB, ROOT, AlphaKIT, SFFKIT

Rating: Interesting story but not crazy about the format

Told in a series of messages and memos, I found it drew away from the story. Also, I listened to the audio and the constant beeping out of any swear words exceedingly annoying.

Mar 23, 5:54pm Top

>159 majkia: The audio bleeps out swear words? WTF!
I wonder how the print version deals with them; are they asterisked or spelled out?

Mar 23, 6:17pm Top

>160 rabbitprincess: I know, right? No idea what the print version does. I hope they're in there...

Mar 26, 9:00am Top

>159 majkia: I'm listening to this at the moment. I'd read it in 2015, but I wanted to finish the series and found I remembered very little so I thought I'd listen to the audio version to refresh my memory before moving on to book two.

The beeping out is because the words have been redacted in what is essentially a report telling the story. The pages look like this:

I think it works better in the physical book. My issue with the narration is that I'm finding Ezra's voice extremely irritating. I also cringe every time he uses the word chum. I don't know why, but it's used a lot so there is lots of cringing.

Mar 26, 10:17am Top

>162 virginiahomeschooler: Ah, that's … interesting, about the format. I think you're right. It probably is better to read the book than to listen to it.

Edited: Mar 27, 7:08am Top

27. For We Are Many - Dennis E. Taylor - Series: Bobiverse #2

Challenges: ROOT, SFFKIT, AlphaKIT

Rating: I am "BOB"

Funny, imaginative, nerdy, and more nerdy. Bob died, and awoke as a space probe. He's now attempting to save humanity from 'the others' who are busily wiping out planets all over the galaxy. Can he do it? Can all the Bobs do it?

I listened to the audio and as usual Ray Porter is a hoot.

Mar 28, 5:15pm Top

28. Jade City - Fonda Lee Series: Green Bone Saga #1

Challenges: ROOT, AlpahKIT, ColorCAT

Rating: Slow to start, but full on action after about half way through

Complex world-building, intriguing and multi-layered characters, a plot that moves forward and, while not particularly twisty, still manages to make you worry for the characters. Strong women.

Mar 29, 4:41pm Top

29. All These Worlds - Dennis E. Taylor - Series: Bobiverse #3

Challenges: ROOT, SFFKIT

Rating: Long Live the Bobs!

What a fun series. Great humor (not to mention snide-ness), greatly imaginative, and gives a quite different view on AIs.

Apr 1, 1:20pm Top

30. The Last Judgement - Ian Pears Series: Jonathan Argyll #4

Challenges: ColorCAT, MysteryCAT, AlphaKIT, ROOT, BingoDog

Rating: A bit more serious than previous entries, but still I love the humor throughout the book, which lightens the subject considerably.

The bantor between Jonathan and Flavia, as well as how both of them look at the world around them is just terrific. The mystery was complex and enjoyable if dark. I guessed some of it but there were enough twists and turns to make me happy.

Apr 2, 6:58am Top

March Summary:

Read: 11 - 8 audio, 3 ebooks

Pages: 4830

3 -female authors, 8 male

4- SFF
3 - Sci Fi
1 - Horror
1- Mystery
1- Thriller
1- Historical

Best of the Month:

Hard to choose:

Most entertaining: The Bobiverse ( For We Are Many and All These Worlds) and The Fold

Most intriguing: Jade City with a shoutout to Faithful Place.

All in all, a great month's worth of reading, without a loser in the bunch.

Group: 2018 Category Challenge

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