Sitting on the lower heights of Mt TBR, Peace2 reads in 2018
This is a continuation of the topic Sitting dizzily atop the heights of Mt TBR, Peace2 reads in 2017 Part 2.
This topic was continued by Sitting on the lower heights of Mt TBR, Peace2 reads in 2018 (Part 2).
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Happy New Year! (and thank you to everyone who lent a hand in getting the old thread long enough to link to a new one). I have renamed the thread in recognition of the fact that I actually managed to reduce the height of Mount TBR last year... I shall attempt to do the same again this year.
That is my only goal for the year - apart from enjoying my reading!
I am going to track my reading and keep count of both the books and the pages along with various other stats, such as the male to female ratio, the fiction to non-fiction and so on. This tracking is out of interest rather than a deliberate attempt to change what I'm reading, although I would like to achieve a rough balance of male to female authors and would like to increase my non fiction reading a little from last year when it seemed to take a bit of a dip, but I'm not going to stress about either of these - if I'm looking forward to a particular option open to me, I'm going to follow that.
In my collections, I've set up a group of books that I'm potentially going to try and read before the end of the year, but this is open to change.
I've begun to educate myself a little on not wasting time on books I'm not enjoying and so last year had quite a large number of DNFs. I'm trying to deal with the guilt associated with giving up on books, but time is precious and if for any reason a book isn't working for me the right thing to do is to give up. Some books get a second chance, but not all.
And so without further ado, my trackers for the year...
Books Read in 2018
Pages read in 2018
So welcome to anyone who decides to stop by, you're very welcome - I have wine, prosecco, tea and soft drinks amongst the PGGBs, there is plenty of cheese and there are also some homemade cookies about to come out of the oven.
Happy New Year to you all and may 2018 bring you lots of time and enjoyable books.
Current reading - I'm currently tackling Lord Sunday by Garth Nix (the final part of the Keys of the Kingdom series which I'm hanging in to finish just because it is the final part) and Grand Canyon by Stewart Aitchison (slow going not because the book is huge but because I keep getting lost in the photographs!
On my phone/ipad, I've started Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - given how long Gone with the Wind took me, this is likely to be there for the long haul, as it gets read on the bus when I'm not chatting to other people or if I get a bit of time to myself at lunch at work. My current audio book is The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien as I undertake my own walk to Mordor.
>4 YouKneeK: I've heard good things about Uprooted and Ready Player One. The Light Fantastic is a re-read but from many moons ago, that I can't remember anything about at all.
Happy New Year! Good luck with your reading goals, but more importantly, may this year bring many good books to you!
I've always picked up a lot of recommendations from your threads, and am looking forward to plenty more.
>1 Peace2: Happy New Year!
I am here yo watch your progress and enjoy your comments. I particular like your attitude towards books that are not doing anything for you and towards your targets.
Now I am going to check your group of intended reads for 2018.
>5 Peace2: I enjoyed Ready Player One quite a bit. I just added you to my list of interesting libraries so I can come back and look through the hundred+ books that LT says I should borrow.
Welcome all! I shall attempt to comment wisely on what I read to provide useful information to those following. *grin* Drink anyone?
>9 Jim53: Good luck! Sometimes I think GD and LT just make my book hording worse!
I'm in need of an enforcer's advice - I am preparing for my Thingaversary and so went to the local bookshop today with a list of titles to order to complete certain sets that I'm mid-read on - they didn't have the books I have earmarked and according to the unhelpful person there today, they cannot order them for me (not because they are out of print, apparently they aren't... there was a rather convoluted story about how they could only stock the ones their supplier sent, they didn't get to pick the ones they stocked, which seemed somewhat illogical to me. The other book shop told me that they don't order books any more but they do sell the bestsellers because that was what everyone wanted to read *envisage much eyerolling on my part at this point* We only have 2 bookshops so there is no alternative to try). So my question is this - the books are showing a 2 - 3 week delivery time on Amazon which is after my Thingaversary - is this permissible if they have been ordered in advance - or do I have to 'read the bestsellers because that's what everyone wants to read'?
Also can cookbooks count as I did see a couple of cookbooks in a shop today that might interest me if I could count those?
My dear, it all *counts*. Cookbooks, out-of-print backlist stuff, whatever tickles your fancy! What matters is that it enlivens your love of reading!
Orders definitely count, as do cookbooks...and I think your bookshops are the ones who need an Enforcer to go have a little chat with them. ;)
>12 Peace2: What ridiculous policies those stores have, especially at a time where online is such a threat to brick and mortar businesses! Like everyone else I say go ahead and order online and enjoy your reading when it arrives.
And there is always cheese just in case the Enforcers are feeling enforceful. They turn into sweet puppies when offered cheese.
>12 Peace2: What Sakerfalcon says! I can imagine they cannot have everything on stock, but when a customer offers to pay them for something, why not make a sale?
To be honest - I think that it was the 'salesperson' rather than the shop in one case, but in the other I'm not sure - they're not just a bookshop, maybe they have stopped doing special orders books and only sell what they have in store (although I think you can order stuff online and possibly have it delivered to certain stores but he didn't say anything about that being an option). Still the attitude (and the fact that to be in store I have to pay full cost + the local tax which I wouldn't pay if I buy from Amazon for instance) was enough to make me grumble (as you've all had to see - sorry for that).
So I'm now eyeing my options - I shall report back once definitive decisions and actions have been taken.
>19 Peace2: Very strange attitude that salesperson had; maybe it was just a bad day for them? My bookshop is usually very helpful - or tries to be. At the moment I seem to be filling in gaps fromwhen I first started buying books, as a student, and most of the ones I want are now out of print.
And I’m with everyone else. Everything counts.
I've finally finished January Book #1!
Grand Canyon by Stewart Aitchison
Now this is not a long book, but it is a large format and full of beautiful pictures, which have to have time spent on just looking and appreciating the beauty. I picked this book up about 11 or 12 years ago when I had a very fleeting visit to the Grand Canyon area. It was the photography that drew me to the book, but I hoped for a little of the geographic and geologic history of the area. This book touches on both of those subjects along with the history and pre-history and the fauna and flora. Fleeting is the most appropriate word for my description. There is little detail in the book - it is more of a taster. The book is still a definite keeper for the photography. My complaints would be that I found the maps hard to tie in with the text - while some places were identified on the map, others were not and so trying to follow where a particular journey or description was heading was problematic. Similar in the sections about the animals and plants, those shown in the photos were not necessarily the same as the ones spoken about in the text. While I understand this from the perspective of not enough room to show all the animals or plants described, I don't understand why the ones shown weren't confined to the ones spoken about or on the other hand why the ones shown weren't mentioned in the text. Minor complaints though. The book is still a definite keeper and if you want to see some amazing photographs of the canyon, I loved this one.
Today is my Thingaversary...
I have celebrated by buying two cookbooks The Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick and The Ultimate 30 minute Cookbook by Jenni Fleetwood. The first because a while back I tried being wheat free for health reasons. Although I slipped off the wagon and began eating wheat again, I've decided that I would like to give myself options for being wheat free - this also has options for other allergies such as dairy. The second is because some evenings I find myself arriving home from work tired or late or busy and I wanted to try and come up with some new quick ideas that were in a healthier by being fresh frame of reference. I've been moving away from packaged food to making my own and freezing certain meals, but this is me looking for more time conscious options. I've got plenty of cookbooks for when I have or want to spend ages in the kitchen.
In order to make sure I had the required number of books on the day, I have also borrowed from the library After me comes the flood by Sarah Perry, The Spider in the Corner of the Room and The Killing Files the first two parts of a trilogy by Nikki Owen. I'm not sure how I'll get on with any of them, but they each sounded interesting. I've not successfully made it through The Essex Serpent so I'm slightly worried by the prospect of After me comes the flood. But I figure it's worth a try, as are the others (or at least the first one - if I fail to get through that I'll return the second without trying it).
I also have books on order, but they aren't here yet (even though they were supposed to be).
(You might want to leave some tea and cheese out for the enforcers)
>24 suitable1: Enforcers are best lulled with a nice medium-bodied red (or so I've heard. Ahem.)
>22 Peace2: I read that some months ago, and also commented on the sparseness of the text. The consensus of the GD then was that books from this publisher are mainly about the stunning pictures, and the text is little more than "filler".
>29 hfglen: A shame on the one hand, but on the other, the pictures are wonderful. :D
January Book #2 Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
An audio book borrowed from the library because I read The Kind Worth Killing last year and was keen to try something else by the same author.
The story begins with a young English woman heading to Boston in America, to stay at her cousin's apartment and attend some art classes while he makes use of her flat in London for six months. The woman has various anxiety issues, some completely from her own imagination of what could happen in situations, the others because of certain events in her own past. She has barely arrived in the US when the body of a young woman is discovered in the apartment next door and the police are knocking on her door to find out if she knows how they can track down her cousin.
A large part of the book is told from Kate's point of view, but as the book progresses, we also have sections viewed by a neighbour, her cousin, an acquaintance of her cousin and a police officer. Although Peter Swanson used a similar technique in his earlier book, it seemed far less suspenseful here.
I didn't enjoy this as much as the previous book. I didn't warm to Kate, perhaps this may have been the narrator's 'portrayal' of her and the other characters were either not portrayed sufficiently for me to have strong positive feelings towards them or I didn't like them because of their behaviours.
Overall I wouldn't recommend this in the same way I would The Kind Worth Killing by it's also not an absolutely terrible book - although it is enough to put me off ever considering dating a man again! (It would have been nice to not only have extreme character portrayals for both sexes, e.g.
January Book #3 Lord Sunday by Garth Nix
As the final book in the series, this one is all action. Time is running out to resolve everything and Arthur is still trying to overcome all the challenges, without really knowing the goal, but at this stage what Mister Monday put into action in the first book is almost inevitable.
I had difficulties with the somewhat religious theme that became key to the ending - I wasn't expecting it, and I'm not sure if seeing it in a religious light was Garth Nix's intention - it was interesting, and a mix of depressing and hopeful.
Overall, my enthusiasm for the series had waned round about Wednesday/Thursday, and just getting to this had become a bit of a struggle, so to be fair this was a much stronger book than some of its predecessors, it does round of the series well with an answer of sorts.
January Book #4 After Me Comes The Flood by Sarah Perry
Hmmm, what to say about this one. There's some very elegant description, the use of language is skilled in this way, but for me the story itself was lacking in part. The story begins with John breaking down on an isolated road and making his way to a large house. When he gets there, the people seem to be expecting him. He's invited in and later shown to 'his' room.
My first problem was that I was expecting something more fantastical because of the turning up at a house and being expected, however, that isn't the case and really
My second issue is the situation of the people who are living in the house and are reliant on each other and how they interact and behave towards each other and behind each others backs. Secrets, lies and deceit.
I found the book quite slow and heavy going with a sudden dash of action towards the end. Not a great hit for my mood at the moment.
January Book #5 Captain America: Loose Nuke by Rick Remender
This follows on from the Castaway in Dimension Z series. Captain America has returned from his years in another dimension to find only moments have passed. He finds him sent after a rogue supersoldier who was causing havoc avenging the lives of lost American soldiers. The soldier, Nuke, believes he has been given orders for his actions, but the question is who is controlling him.
This isn't going to be a favourite unless the next volume changes that, but it's not something I completely disliked either.
January Book #6 Letter to Louise by Pauline Collins
Pauline Collins is a British actress - you may remember her in Shirley Valentine, although that's far from her only work. This is a memoir of part of her life, telling the years as she began her acting career. She spent a season in Ireland, where she met another actor and they began a relationship during which she got pregnant.
She didn't realise she was pregnant until after the two of them had gone their separate ways, although they were still in touch. This retells some reminiscences of her childhood but focuses more on what happens before and during her pregnancy. She keeps her pregnancy a secret and eventually gives the child for adoption.
It's at times a little tedious with the description of dates she went on and parties at which she did or didn't dance and what she was wearing, but overall, Pauline Collins comes across as a warm hearted lady, who faced a difficult decision. She didn't judge other people, although at times she is clear in her expectation that people were or would be judging her choices. Parts of the book are very moving and brought me to tears.
This is not a memoir of her whole life and career - this focuses on what she wanted her daughter to know about this period, it doesn't glamorise the acting profession (far from it when you read about some of the venues at which she was performing or staying) but it does show the camaraderie and support that some of the people she knew shared.
Thank you - I ended up exceeding requirements again in my accumulations! No more excuses, back on the no-buying wagon for a while now!
January Book #7 Those were the Days by Sir Terry Wogan
Terry Wogan was a well known Radio 2 and BBC TV presenter with his own morning show for many years (1972 - 1984 and again from 1993 - 2009 I think)on the radio and on TV he was presenter of the game show Blankety Blank, Children in Need and the Eurovision Contest (amongst many many other things). He was also an author of a number of books (although this I've only just found out).
This, I think, was the final book (2015) before his death in early 2016. It's a series of short stories. The stories are told as the bank manager of the newly refurbished branch in Cattle Street is opened with wine and sandwiches for customers and the manager looks back to his memories of the kind of people his customers are. There is a gentle humour with the bank manager despairing of the farmers who trek mud in from their work, the couple who arrive to every party and dinner early and leave last, the women who remind him of his aunts and so on.
It's a quick and easy read, some of the stories are more melancholy but more have a hint of humour to them.
January Book #8 Warlock Holmes: The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles by G S Denning
I didn't enjoy this one as much as the first in the series, but it was okay. Warlock actually features less in this book and Watson spends quite a bit of time out of London. It's amusing enough to keep me going, I wasn't in danger of giving up on it, but whether it's my mood rather than anything else, I can't quite enthuse about it as I think I did with the first. (Still glad I borrowed it from the library because much as I love borrowing audios from them, I feel the need to convince them that some of us do like books other than crime thrillers, war and romance for our audio books! And there is a sad lack of fantasy etc).
January Round Up
Total Number of Books Read : 8
Books Retained After Reading : 32
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 2
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2018 : 4
Books Abandoned : 0
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 1 (series complete - possibly 1 other depends on whether library gets any more of the Warlock Holmes)
Non-Fiction Reads : 2 (25%)
Fiction Reads : 6 (75%)
Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 5 (71%)
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 2 (29%)
Books by Male Authors : 5 (62.5%)
Books by Female Authors : 2 (25%)
Books by Collaboration : 1 (12.5%)
Books acquired : 9
Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 689 read (17,311 pages left to reach goal)
End of January update on Walking to Mordor : 1,913.14 miles completed so far. I've left Minas Tirith but probably won't arrive at Isengard until about June at the current rate of walking!
February Book #1 The Killing Place by Tess Gerritsen
A Rizzoli and Isles book that I'd not come across before. Maura Isles goes on a conference and meets up with a friend she knew when in training. She agrees to go on a weekend trip with him and his daughter and friends and they set off to drive out to a mountain lodge. They get lost along the way and end up trapped by snow in a deserted town that had been home to 'The Gathering'. No one knows where she is and while she's fighting for survival, Jane Rizzoli and other friends are trying to find out where she is.
Kept me reading and I hadn't seen the ending coming (which is always a good thing in this kind of book). Felt different from the usual Rizzoli and Isles fare - possibly due to them both being away from their home turf.
February Book #2 The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen
This is the first part of a trilogy and I listened to the audio format of the book. The central character is Maria, who is a Spanish consultant plastic surgeon who was working in a UK hospital who has Asperger's Syndrome and is currently in prison for the murder of a priest. So it starts complicated and only gets more so from there. Maria is for various reasons an unreliable narrator but the fact is that many of the people she interacts with are untrustworthy and their stories are not necessarily true either, making Maria's mix of memories, possible memories, interpretations even harder to keep track of.
At one point I did wonder if there was a visual aid in a paper form of the book that might make it easier to know what was present, past, possible past, possible present clearer to the reader.
I found the story quire hard to follow, I didn't particularly empathise with Maria but there were few other characters who drew even a vaguely positive response from me. I found Maria's sense of persecution and what amounts to actual persecution hard to believe with I think the author trying to build a sense of suspense and 'Why?' as the reader questions why Maria is in prison for such a strange crime. By the end of the book I wasn't really any more convinced than I was at the beginning.
Despite my somewhat negative response to the book, I have continued straight on to the second in the series (more because I had already borrowed them both from the library, than for any other reason). I will wait until I am through part 2 or sufficiently entranced by it before I request the third book as this has to be brought from one of the affiliated libraries.
February Book #3 When the Sky Fell: In Search of Atlantis by Rand Flem-Ath and Rose Flem-Ath
I found this book really interesting - whether the writers are correct about their propositions of where Atlantis will be found (if/when it is ever found). Lots of the ideas in it were interesting in terms of showing possibilities about humanity's and Earth itself's past.
The idea of global crust displacement to account for a number of actual geographical, palentological, archaeological, and so on facts got me thinking and wanting to know more about the possibility. The discussion of maps that predate man's discovery or voyage to different parts of the world that are reasonably accurate depictions of those areas or for instance maps that show a 'pre-current glacial extents' view of Antarctica and show how the land below the ice would actually look and as far as we can tell with modern techniques for examining what's below the ice.
Their arguments for Atlantis' possible location, given their belief in the crust displacement possibility and information drawn from Plato's words for instance are supported within the framework they use - but they also point out some of the difficulties in attempting to actually prove it at current Science levels etc.
This book is now about 23 years old, and I am curious as to whether they have written anything else on the subject or been able to take their research any further. Having read in the distant past at least one other book on the subject of 'where' Atlantis was, this book strikes me that more of the arguments they use are possible as part of history whether they are correct about the existence and location of Atlantis itself. Then again someone who knows more about geography/geology might disagree and might be able to point out something which would show why the theories here couldn't be true.
>46 Peace2:. Hmm. Interesting - though I doubt I’ll get around to reading it.
>46 Peace2: What made you pick that up to read? I"m curious as to the initial point of appeal? Did you read it as a casual lark or is there sufficient research behind the authors' ideas to make you want to do the additional research on the topic?
>48 jillmwo: It was a book that my sister was getting rid of a couple of years ago in a clear out because she needed more space and I have an interest in mythology and ancient civilizations/history and figured that it would be interesting to see what evidence they used even if I ultimately dismissed it as lacking proof. I'm glad I read it and it was just the right level of non-fiction for me right now.
I think their argument for crust displacement sounded feasible to me, that it could also account for the many different ancient cultures around the world that have a devastating flood mythology also sounded reasonable. I don't have a background in geography/geology though, so someone with more of a knowledge of that might be able to refute it. The idea of areas of Antarctica and Siberia having previously been more of a temperate climate and landscape was interesting, that this might also account for the amount of large mammal fossils found in Siberia seemed reasonable - those animals wouldn't have been native to an arctic climate, there wouldn't have been sufficient food sources so therefore for so many of them to be found there makes it likely the climate changed at some point.
The Atlantis aspect of the book is an interesting proposition but there isn't enough actual physical proof within the book for it to be taken as anything other than a theory at this point - there would need to be some actual archaeological research done before this becomes even a real possibility.
My first DNF of the year The Killing Files by Nikki Owen. I mentioned above the previous book in the series which I finished last week and went straight on to this one, but it just isn't working for me. The difficulties I was having with the first book and the prospect of making it through another two books is just putting me off completely. There's too many other books out there to spend any more time with something that isn't what I want right now, so I'm abandoning ship at this point and moving onto something else completely.
February Book #4 Captain America: The Iron Nail by Rick Remender
This was okay. I'm not sure I was in the right mood for it, and now writing this 12 days after I actually finished it and I can barely remember anything from it! I will probably re-read it at some point (likely when I've obtained the next in the series to refresh my memory).
February Book #5 Diana by Sarah Bradford
This was a biography of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. This was interesting, it provided some insights into the life Diana led starting from her early childhood through to her funeral and into the gossip that surrounded her. It is at times blunt about some of Prince Charles' behaviour that led to the ultimate complete breakdown of their marriage, but also talks about some of Diana's own manipulative behaviours and also the struggles she dealt with, both within her marriage and her family life and also with regard to her own difficulties with bulimia and anorexia. It's hard to imagine from the outside, someone so beautiful and married to a Prince having such low self esteem as is described here, but the truth is that how other people see us isn't always how we see ourselves. This book also conveys some of her amazing achievements for instance, on behalf of AIDS charities and in bringing the subject of land mines to the world's attention and making it a matter for governments to acknowledge and begin to tackle. Some of the information given is subjective, quite a bit of it recounted as 'a source close to her said...'.
At the end of the day, it was an interesting read, but I shall continue to remember her as the person who did her best to bring up two sons to love and care for and about people, not just themselves, and for the things she did to make the world a kinder and safer place. There are few people in the world who haven't made missteps along the way, who don't look back and think that wasn't the best course I could have taken, but who hope that isn't what they're remembered for after they've gone. She wasn't perfect, and she faced some difficult challenges in her life, but above all, she did make some remarkable achievements in her time.
February Book #6 Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon
What an awful main character! The story centres around Helen, who has been having an affair with Matthew, one of her bosses at work for the last four years and just after the beginning, Matthew leaves his wife and turns up intending to move in with Helen. At this point she realises she doesn't actually want him.
Without spoiling the story, I can't really go into too much of why I dislike her but suffice it to say she is selfish, self-centred with little empathy for anyone else and no qualms about making life difficult for other people until her guilt gets too much for her and she makes some step to try and rectify the situation sufficiently before continuing to blunder on back on her own course again. We are left to assume that at the end she has made some degree of progress towards becoming a better person, but for me it was too little too late and I have no idea why she had any friends at all by that point.
Have been a bit busy of late so have spent this weekend catching up on as many posts as I can read, and also in updating my comments about what I've read. Managed to find just enough time to finish off another book myself as well.
February Book #7 Flyte by Angie Sage
A children's book - the second in a series - Septimus Heap is a seventh son, he's also Apprentice to the Extra Ordinary Wizard, Dragon Master and former Young Army member. His adoptive sister, Jenna is Princess. Among the other characters are other members of Septimus' family, his friend Beetle who works in the Manuscriptorium, a variety of Ghosts, in particular Alther, former Extra Ordinary Wizard, Aunt Zelda the Dragon Boat Keeper who lives in the marshes, and Wolf Boy another former friend from Septimus' time in the Army.
Beset by the threat of evil, whilst also trying to master his role as Apprentice, Septimus has to help save Jenna from kidnap, Marcia, the Extra Ordinary Wizard from the looming threat of the Shadow as well as work out what's he going to do with his newly acquired baby dragon, who isn't that easy to look after.
A great book for children of about 9-11 I would say, and although I'm abandoning the series at this point, it's not that there's anything wrong with the book. The first in the series, which I read at the end of 2016, is called Magyk.
>55 Peace2: I owned the first 4 books in this series and read the first one, but decided I didn't want to continue. Unlike, say, Harry Potter or anything by Diana Wynne Jones, there just wasn't enough in it to appeal to adult me.
>56 Sakerfalcon: I've decided to pass the next four along with the first two to a local school - I think that will be a better home for them than my house!
February Book #8 The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Well I started listening to this quite a while back but this month, I've finally listened to the last part. It really was good, wasn't it? I highly recommend the unabridged version as read by Rob Inglis. He does a wonderful job. I'm ready to watch the movies now.
February Book #9 The World in Winter by John Christopher (also issued as The Long Winter)
When the Fratellini Winter hits, temperate climates become arctic - England is under ice, the Thames has frozen. First published in 1962, this book gives a before its time look at Climate Change. Now the reasons given are not down to man, but rather due to cycles in the radiation emitted by the sun, but the plot revolves around what does man do then. Presented with a situation where food can no longer be grown in Britain, what course would the people take? Similar in a way to the other John Christopher title that I read in May last year, The Death of Grass, the government takes the decision to create enclaves in some of the large cities, shutting everyone else out and leaving them to starve. The story follows a TV journalist through the onset of the Winter, where he takes an opportunity to leave Britain and head for Lagos and start anew there.
This book suffers from period typical attitudes towards other races and women. Although there are a couple of women in this book, they are only plot conveniences, they have little depth as characters in their own right. The racial conflicts in this are also difficult - there are a number of Nigerian characters who see the arrival of so many desperate Europeans in their country as a chance to get their own back for the injustices of the past, but many of the white characters still believe in their own superiority and there is a nasty undercurrent.
It struck me that this is an uncomfortable book to read on a number of levels - the possibility of something similar happening (maybe with a different cause, whether man made or some other natural occurrence) with regard to the climate, the plausibility of the way people react - the aggression in the name of survival - one of the characters says
Not a pleasant read, but in many ways a book ahead of its time and thought-provoking.
February Round Up
Total Number of Books Read : 9
Books Retained After Reading : 3
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 6
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2018 : 7
Books Abandoned : 1 (+4 rehomed that were part of one of the series that I'm abandoning - I feel they're more suited to their new home)
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 3 (1 series complete - 2 series abandoned)
Non-Fiction Reads : 2 (23.53% so far this year)
Fiction Reads : 7 (76.47% so far this year)
Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 2 (50% so far this year)
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 5 (50% so far this year)
Books by Male Authors : 2 (41.2% so far this year)
Books by Female Authors : 5 (41.2% so far this year)
Books by Collaboration : 3 (17.6% so far this year)
Books acquired : 2
Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 3,279 pages read this month- 3,968 read this year (14,032 pages left to reach goal)
Of my original list of 50 books to read before the end of the year, it is now 33 books long!
End of February update on Walking to Mordor : 1,982.91 miles completed so far. I've left Minas Tirith but probably won't arrive at Isengard until about June at the current rate of walking!
Started March with a DNF - The Mole: The Cold War Memoir of Winston Bates by Peter Warner. Just not getting into this one at all. It's not been reviewed here on LT but amazon.com has some rave reviews. I'm kind of disappointed because it did sound kind of interesting. I don't think it's helped by the voice of the narrator as I'm not keen on it either. If I were more into the book, I could probably get by with the voice, but the two together are only compounding the problem.
March Book #1 Happiness is Easy by Edney Silvestre
Set in Brazil, this story although short is told from several viewpoints. It begins with a child being kidnapped from an expensive car while the driver is killed. The story then unfolds as to who the child is, why the kidnapping took place and so on. The ripple effects on the lives of the people involved directly or indirectly. It was a fairly quick read and there was enough about it to have me finish it, but I didn't love it.
March Book #2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Interesting. I've not read this before and would have absolutely loved it when I was younger. It's an interesting book, with interesting characters and ideas. I was determined to read it before the film was released so that I could make a decision as to whether the film should be on my radar for going to see. The answer is it probably should. I'm also wondering if there are any of the other books in the series at the library - this one has been on my shelf for three and a half years and I've not yet come across any others in the series.
March Book #3 The Long Song by Andrea Levy
I listened to this in audio format, read largely by the author herself - and well read too - not always the case with authors. There is a second narrator who reads a prologue and an afterword. Set in Jamaica on a slave plantation, the story centres around Miss July, daughter of a field slave who was brought in to become a house slave. As a narrator, she is lively, wild and sometimes tells different versions of events, she is not entirely reliable as narrator and doesn't always come across as the most likeable of people. It's an interesting story, full of humour but also emotional and at times hard listening to events that occurred. The main story takes place before, during and after the abolition of slavery on the island, but is told by Miss July writing about the past, with interactions with her son and his family in the present day interspersed driving her commentary and her interaction with her 'dear reader'. There are some brutal scenes that are hard to read/listen to of events that happened. An interesting book and worth the time to read.
>63 Peace2: You also might like to try to view the 2003 film, which was low budget, but partially successful. Same producer.
March Book #5 The Apostle by J.A. Kerley
This is part of a series (the 12th part apparently) but that didn't really matter, the story works fine without the prior knowledge, although at times references are made (and explained) that I guess I should assume refer to previous events.
The story centres on a detective attempting to solve the violent murder of a young prostitute. Further murders occur and increasingly there appears to be a religious connection to each murder. At the same time, his former partner recently retired has taken a job as a driver to a rising TV evangelist who has moved his family to near a religious theme park (an alternative to Disneyland) and finds himself intrigued by undercover events happening there.
There are some graphic violent scenes in this, some gruesome autopsy and similar scenes and some fanatical religious attitudes. I didn't love this but it was finishable, a fairly predictable piece.
March Book #6 Mrs Zhivago of Queen's Park by Olivia Lichtenstein
I was disappointed in this one. It started with a woman who is growing dissatisfied with her marriage. It has humourous moments, but increasingly I didn't find it funny. It also has some poignant and sad moments that did bring tears to my eyes. Clearly the 'funny chick lit' style book, in which women have affairs from within their own marriage or with married men, just isn't that funny to me. There are some amusing events within it, but overall, not a winner for me.
>68 Peace2: Doesn’t sounds like an amusing premise. Sorry it didn’t work out for you.
>64 Peace2: What year is that book set in? I understand that portions of it are told by her son, but are we talking 19th century or earlier than that? I am intrigued.
>71 jillmwo: It's set in about the 1830s around the time of the Baptist War (1830) - starts earlier and finishes after, but that is one of the key periods in the book. The son introduces and finishes the book, but the rest is told by Miss July, although at times she comments on things he's told her to rewrite after he's read it.
March Book #7 Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
This was a really interesting read - a look at the work of certain well known TV gurus, a number of 'scientist experts' and the actual science behind their claims. Gillian McKeith of 'You Are What You Eat' fame does not fair well when Ben Goldacre holds her claims up against scientific standards and proofs, and she is not alone - she is joined by homeopaths, Patrick Holford another nutritionist, Dr Chris Malyszewicz PhD the man behind many of the MRSA claims in Britain (he is the person who carried out the tests to prove instances of MRSA in many UK hospitals - the one with the 'laboratory' in his garden shed and with a non-accredited mail order PhD). He explains what good science testing looks like, explains some of the pitfalls that happen - in particular with negative results and how no one wants to publish negative results of pharmaceutical testing because so much money has already been spent in creating something 'new' they don't want to lose money on side effects etc.
I seem to remember reading on a thread here at GD about someone reading Mr Goldacre's book Bad Pharma and how drug companies mislead people. I will be on the look out for that one as well.
A further interesting point that I learned during my read was that in the UK there is a Yellow Card Scheme in which an individual can report any negative reactions to medicines, vaccines or remedies and that this helps give the relevant UK authorities more information about drugs and to give a better picture of how many people are truly being effected by side effects and how severe they are - giving ongoing information beyond the initial drug testing etc that would have been done before it reached market. The website can be found here if anyone is interested https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/ (as someone who has had unusual reactions to drugs that are readily available I'm interested in this on a personal level - particularly as some of my reactions weren't listed as side effects).
March Book #8 The Gardens of the Dead by William Brodrick
This is the second in a series - I read the first The Sixth Lamentation a very long time ago, but the only recollection I have is thinking it was alright and that I'd look out for another.
Unfortunately that wasn't my reaction this time. A woman dies of natural causes but she has left a series of clues to her past. She was a lawyer and had worked with Father Anselm, before he retired from life as a lawyer to become a monk. The past became increasingly convoluted with some people having to be visited more than once before they admitted the truth and crimes layering on layer but in actual fact the crimes that are significant are in the distant past.
I just couldn't really invest in anyone and ended up being insufficiently interested in who did what and why. The problem might be mine rather than the book, maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for this kind of story right now, but I'm not inclined to continue looking for others by the same author at this time anyway.
March Book #9 Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
An interesting one, it took me a little while to really get into it, possibly because of my lack of gaming/D&D experience and the feeling that I was missing a lot with the abbreviations to describe different things but gradually I got into it and ended up thoroughly enjoying it. I'm not sure whether I want to see it at the movies or whether that might actually spoil it now. I'll may be wait and see what other people think of the movie before making my decision.
March Book #10 A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong
This was quite an interesting read, looking at the place mythology has played in different cultures at varying periods of history, starting with the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods and coming forwards. Wanting to be careful not to break the rules of the pub, please tell me if I need to edit what I say here. The book looks at the part mythology played in certain religions and the effect religion has on how we look at mythology. It also considers the effects of science and logical reasoning.
It is though only 'a short history' and for someone with limited knowledge of the subject, like myself, it provides an overview, a taster of something that I would perhaps like to look into more deeply at some point. This does not look at many individual myths, only a few are even specifically named.
>75 Peace2: I too will be interestedly waiting to hear what others think of the Ready Player One movie. Even though I liked the book, I can get bored watching movies based on a story I already know unless the movie somehow adds some new dimension to the story, so I probably won’t watch it. If I do, I’ll probably wait until it’s available to stream on Amazon, by which time I’ll have lost what little interest I have in it and won’t watch it after all. :) But I might reconsider if people are really enthusiastic.
Oh dear! I had a bit of a splurge today and acquired a number of books - in my defense (given the goal of reducing the TBR pile) 1 was given to me and several are audio copies of books that are already in the TBR pile...
Do I admit here to my acquisitions? Yeah, why not? You'll all understand, won't you?
The one given to me was The Bach Manuscript by Scott Mariani
And in audio - new not otherwise in my collection
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N K Jemisin (I'm sure I saw that one mentioned on someone's GD thread as being good - or at least I hope I did)
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
Summer Knight by Jim Butcher (this actually came as part of a four book set - where the three prior titles also included - Storm Front, Fool Moon and Grave Peril but I already have paper copies of those)
Ones that I already have paper copies of (apart from the three mentioned immediately above)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Frankenstein by Mary W. Shelley
The Odyssey by Homer
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Keeping Place by Isobelle Carmody
I also got The Stone Key by Isobelle Carmody - this is either the same title as the one on my shelf called The Dreamtrails or one of the sequels - I can't actually tell for sure as they changed the names of the books and how they were packaged - so some were split into two or two were combined but not necessarily given the same name depending on where/when they were issued which as I haven't been able to buy any of them here has made it even more difficult to obtain the correct ones - Amazon doesn't make it entirely clear whether things are the part or whole editions. It is I think at least half of The Dreamtrails!
All told that means it's actually only 4 acquisitions, right?
Roll on the end of The Picture of Dorian Gray which is what I'm listening to at the moment.
>81 2wonderY: pfft! who needs the usual rules and regulations when books are involved anyway! *grin*
Would anyone like to make a suggestion or two of what my Dad might like for his birthday (book-wise)? Things he has enjoyed in the past include A Man Called Ove, The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window, Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy and its sequel, Lee Child's Jack Reacher (although he feels they're getting too 'samey' now). He's just read 'The Bach Manuscript' by Scott Mariani and he's read most/if not all of Jo Nesbo's. He's read lots of Tess Gerritsen and Jeffrey Deaver.
I've tentatively put the new David Lagercrantz sequel to Stieg Larsson's on the list along with Alex Gray's Never Somewhere Else. I'm also looking at Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton and A Man with one of those faces by Caimh McDonnell, but as I don't know any of them I'm shooting a little in the dark!
Out of curiosity, how would you pronounce Caimh? At first glance I thought it was Ciamh and was thus going to pronounce it like Niamh but reading more carefully of course it isn't!
>83 Peace2: I've read those first two old codger tales, so I think I get your drift on what your dad might like. I've also read and enjoyed Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. There are quite a good amount of heroes and oddballs described in it.
That made me think immediately of Agent Zigzag as well. And when I went searching my WW2 tag for the title, I came away with a title I would put at the top of my recommendation list.
I was so impressed with The Boys in the Boat that I read it twice back to back. The author told a complex story with inordinate skill and sympathy.
>83 Peace2: Has he tried anything by Denise Mina? She's in line with Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo in terms of theme and grittiness.
>84 2wonderY: and >85 jillmwo: Thank you so much for the suggestions!
>83 Peace2: He's read Agent Zigzag already but The Boys in the Boat looks interesting - I shall add that one to the potential list
>85 jillmwo: She seems to have a couple of different series but I'm looking at perhaps the new one out by Denise Mira (was released in February this year) The Long Drop - on Amazon and here on LT it doesn't reference the other series that I can see, so I'm hoping it's a stand alone - that might be a good place to start and try her out.
March book #11 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I found this tedious, there's a lot of 'social filler' as the reader see the way the society characters interact. Dorian, the central character, begins as a young man, he is a little self-centred at the beginning, but as time progresses and others fawn over him, he becomes increasingly selfish and self-obsessed. The story has elements of supernatural horror but also feels like a warning about the perils of vanity and lack of consideration for others.
In some respects the idea is a clever one, but I felt it slow moving and didn't really enjoy it.
March Book #12 The Girl With No Name by Marina Chapman
The subtitle of the book is The Incredible Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys, which is a slight twist on an element of the book. Marina Chapman was stolen from her family a little before her fifth birthday before being abandoned in the jungle alone. It is not clear why this happens - initially she remembers being with other abductees but she is then left - she doesn't know why at any stage of this process. She can never be entirely sure when or where it happened, but the likelihood is that she was either Colombian or Venezulan by birth- when she returns to 'civilization' it is in Colombia.
She survives by living alongside a troop of Capuchin monkeys and imitating their ways - it is less that they raised her than that she used them as the only similar creatures to herself to teach her what she needed to know. Over time she begins to interact with some of them. I don't want to spoil the book, but given that she is listed as the author, that alone declares that she does later leave the jungle. It is hard to believe just how much human cruelty she encounters in the years following her 'rescue' from the jungle and how much resilience and optimism she had to survive. The story is ghostwritten, she told the story to her daughter who then wrote it down before handing it to a professional ghostwriter who created the book that appeared on shelves.
It's hard to imagine a child suffering and surviving this early life. I found the part where she in the jungle fascinating as well as heartbreaking. It is written to reflect a child's view of the world (not a child as young as she would have been at the outset), so with her sense of learning and adjusting but also her sense of what was missing from her life, even when she doesn't really remember what she had before.
Once she has left the jungle, the story becomes even harsher and the amount of cruelty she experienced is horrifying. It ends on an optimistic note as she has finally reached a safe place, her start for the future. I find myself interested to know what happened after the book ended, how she continued to progress and eventually moved country, married and had children of her own.
An emotionally difficult book to read, but also in part fascinating to see her resilience and know that she survived.
>88 Peace2: I’ve never read the book but I know the premise, as I suspect many people reading it for the first time nowadays must. It probably worked better in its day, in its context and when readers would have been surprised by the story.
Wandering off to google Marina Chapman now.
>90 humouress: If you're interested in her - try taking a look at the second page of reviews on LT - there are a number of links to articles about her. I've haven't read them myself but I did notice them there.
>80 Peace2: That's a nice stack of loot!
>75 Peace2: I loved that book, but I was in my 20s during the 80s so many of the references were relatable. A decent enough time has passed that there should be some surprises in the movie. It's Spielberg, so I'm hoping for some surprises. Plus I'm dying to see that
March Round Up
Total Number of Books Read : 12
Books Retained After Reading : 3
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 8
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2018 : 9
Books Abandoned : 1
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 2 (possibly 3 - I've never come across copies of the rest of the 'A Wrinkle in Time' series)
Non-Fiction Reads : 3 (24.14% so far this year)
Fiction Reads : 9 (75.86% so far this year)
Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 6 (52% so far this year)
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 5 (48% so far this year)
Books by Male Authors : 6 (44.8% so far this year)
Books by Female Authors : 5 (41.4% so far this year)
Books by Collaboration : 1 (13.8% so far this year)
Books acquired :13 (although up to 9 of these may be audios of books I already own in tree form - one I'm not sure if it's exactly the same as it was published under different titles and slightly different combinations)
Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 2,574 pages read this month- 6,542 read this year (11,458 pages left to reach goal)
Of my original list of 50 books to read before the end of the year, it is now 28 books long!
End of March update on Walking to Mordor : 2,060.48 miles completed so far. I've left Minas Tirith but probably won't arrive at Isengard until late June at the current rate of walking!
End of First Quarter - Summary of the year so far
Total number of books read - 29
Total number of pages read - 9,624
Average number of books per month - 9.67
Average number of pages per month - 3,208
Average number of books per week - 2.31
Average number of pages per week - 735.55
Fiction Reads - 22
Non-Fiction Reads - 7
Fiction Read Sub Categories
Children's/Teen - 3
Science Fiction/Fantasy - 4 (not including those that also classed as Children's/Teen)
Historical Fiction - 1
'Old' Classics (not relatively modern ones) - 1
Crime - 6
Graphic Novel/Manga - 3
Romance/Chick Lit - 2
Short Story Collection - 1
Other - 1 (no idea how to classify this one)
Non-fiction Read Sub Categories
Biography - 3
Geography/History/Archaeology - 3
Science - 1
This latter is loose categorising as some of the geographical/historical books also discussed scientific things (geology for instance) and the 'science' book also referred to historical scientific practices.
Where was it from?
Library - 7
My Shelf before this year - 19
New to me - 3
April Book #1 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
So I had a copy lurking on my shelf for a pretty long time (I think I got it around 2007) and then in my recent acquisitions was the audio version. It was a pretty innovative idea for when it was written but for such a short book, it did seem to drag. The language was laboured and at times I felt like I was on the train with Frankenstein as he listed every stop he made and the like. At times the language is almost poetic in its description and the images it draws in the mind, but at other times it just felt like too much filler and like the story was getting lost under the weight of it.
Part of me does want to suggest that everyone working in the fields of AI and Robotics and the like should be made to read this as fair warning of the dangers of 'making rational man' !
I would definitely not recommend the particular audio version that I acquired - the narrator's voice was somewhat like listening to someone snoring or to a chainsaw cutting down trees - non-stop - it just droned on and on. I ended up switching back to the actual tree book whenever I had time to sit down in the hope of finishing quicker.
Overall, I was disappointed - I'd hoped for something more or maybe just something different. I won't be keeping either version and will be passing them on to better homes.
(On an aside - I'm hoping I have better luck with the rest of the audios I've just acquired as despite the fact that I know I've used this kind of MP3 audio CD before and managed with a little fiddling to transfer the tracks to my old fashioned MP3 player, this one would only transfer some of the tracks to my laptop as I wasn't using I-tunes. The problem is my MP3 is not I-tunes compatible and only works with Windows Media Player - so I know I had to copy the files to the laptop, then into media player and then rearrange them into order and then I could transfer them to the MP3 - but no matter how many times I tried this would only let me copy a little over half the tracks that way, so I ended up just having to play the CD on the laptop - not quite as portable as I liked - I can't exactly go out walking with my laptop in my pocket! - and a pain as the laptop is the only MP3 compatible player - my CD player, DVD player and hi-fi are all older than MP3s...) Fingers crossed for the rest.
My first DNF of April is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - I was listening to an audio version of this borrowed from the library and it wasn't working for me, so I've returned it for now in favour of something else. I'm not sure if my problem is my mood, that I'm following Frankenstein which wasn't an audio success or whether the book is just not for me. I do however have a hardback copy on my own bookshelf which is part of a set, so that's not going out at this point, so I still have the option of returning to it later. (I also have a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on the shelf as well, which I probably should read first anyway.
Moving onto Black Beauty instead in library borrowed audio.
April Book #2 Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The ups and downs of the life of Black Beauty, a horse, as he matures and is passed from owner to owner. I can see this would appeal greatly to young horse enthusiasts in its time. The book shows the whole range of treatment a horse could receive from excellent caring owners through to those who in some cases through ignorance and laziness and others down to plain cruelty have no care or concern from the animals in their care. At times it's moving as one reads about some of the cruelty Beauty and his friends see and experience, but it's a story with a contented ending for Beauty at least. Given the book was first published more than 140 years ago, many of the jobs that the horses do in the story are rarely seen nowadays in Britain and one hopes that some of those opportunities for mistreatment would no longer exist - not to say that there aren't still people who don't care appropriately for their animals nowadays. I can see why it never appealed to me as a child, (horses weren't my 'thing'), but I'm glad I've read it now and given it a try.
April Book #3 E=mc2 and why should we care by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw
I listened to this on an audio from the library and it was interesting but I found it quite hard to follow even though it is designed for the lay listeners and not the adept physician. I wonder if I might have fared a little better despite not having an overly scientific background had I read an actual book and been able to spend more time re-reading sections until they became clearer and if perhaps some of it might have been more visually accessible (did the tree book have illustrations of what they were discussing perhaps?). There were vague twinges of memory that went something like 'I think I have a vague recollection of something to do with that when I was in Science class back in the day... so many many many years ago!' most of them followed by 'I'm not sure I understood it then either').
I would have liked to have loved it more but I am not put off - I feel sure that had Brian Cox been my science teacher back in the day (rather than the scottish lady who shall remain nameless for the sake of all involved) I would have been more of a scientist! I have another by him on the shelf in actual book book form, so I will be able to test my theory that I will be able to understand more by actually reading rather than listening when I get to The Quantum Universe... That sounds very scientific of me . . . I'm proposing a theory and a test . . . Wow! I guess we'll have to wait and see if there's any kind of significant result!
>98 Peace2: Anything with equations needs my actual eyeballs on it. My undergrad degree is in Mathematics (and English) but I can't process much (any?) of it auditorily.
>99 clamairy: I think that would have helped, although the book itself was well read - good pace and for me it did seem like they were trying to make really complex science accessible by using general human experience and trying to use that to help scale understanding up/down to the spacetime reality and down to the smallest bits that make up the universe.
Just realised I wrote physician above - when what I meant was physicist! Whoops! I was tired last night!
April Book #4 Aim High by Tanni Grey-Thompson
This was a short autobiography by the Welsh paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson. She touches briefly on her journey from childhood through to winning medals at multiple Paralympics. In some respects, this is more of a motivational piece than a traditional autobiography, although she does discuss some of the high and low points of her life. It is not a detailed life story, but does talk about how wanting to achieve and applying yourself to goals increases your chances of success and how drawing on other people's experiences can guide but not dictate your own path - she gives examples of a young athlete trying to follow a more experienced athlete's training plan and how injury and disenchantment can follow because rather than using the information and tailoring it to their own needs they've seen it as a path to win. Similarly how having a goal and working toward it is essential - again she talks about chatting with a young woman who wanted to be a pop star, but had never sung with a choir or a band or even with family, played an instrument, didn't know anything about music or singing, but assumed that applying to appear on Pop Idol or similar would be sufficient.
She comes across as a person with a very positive outlook and a determined personality when she puts her mind to something, but also someone who when something has gone wrong will analyse her own mistakes and work out how to improve or avoid the same happening again.
I would have liked to have found out more about her experiences as an athlete and beyond - she has since become a motivational speaker and a politician, as well as a coach to younger athletes. I believe she has another autobiography, so I shall keep an eye out for that and see if I can get a chance to read it.
Out of curiosity, when (or at what age) did she experience her injury? That can make a big difference in how one views and overcomes a physical challenge.
>102 jillmwo: She was born with spina bifida and although she could walk when she was young, she was able to make a gradual transition to wheelchair use as her condition reduced her ability to walk, before she became completely reliant on the wheelchair.
She does say that she wasn't told there were things that she couldn't do because she used a wheelchair but rather that she was encouraged to find ways to achieve what she wanted to do.
April Books #5 and 6 Undead and Unworthy and Undead and Unwelcome by MaryJanice Davidson
These are books 7 and 8 in the 'Undead' or 'Queen Betsy' series. Many a moon ago (well over 10 years), I read a number of these probably 1 through 5 or 6 of the series and I noticed that I have number 9 sitting on the shelf and that 7 and 8 were available on audio at the library (nothing earlier or later - why do they do that?).
It made sense to borrow the library ones before reading the one on the shelf and would serve to reintroduce me to the characters. So Betsy, birth name Elizabeth Taylor, something she had no intention of forgiving her mother for, is relatively recently deceased (see book 1 for fuller details) and is now the Undead Queen of the Vampires, married to Sinclair and still adjusting and having to deal with her new life.
The books are a mix of humour, supernatural, romance, sex and the undead. They are what I would call for the most part light filler readindg. They're not hilarious but they're also not overstuffed with the romance. Speaking personally the sex aspect had me trying to skip forward and I'd have been as happy without it (there's maybe four or five in the books, so it's not massive amounts). The books do run sequentially but even though I hadn't read any of them in ten years and I'm not sure I've picked up where I left off but it didn't really matter (although in the case of these two events at the end of Undead and Unworthy lead directly to the main conflicts and plot drivers in Undead and Unwelcome and so of these two the latter would probably not stand well on its own.
There is quite a lot of bad language in the book. I feel I should mention it as it was very noticeable and I know that puts some people off reading a specific book.
Overall I didn't love either but I didn't hate them. There's nothing to inspiring or exciting, but not bad for filling a loose hour or two
April Book #7 Cloudworld by David Cunningham
This is a young YA steampunk-style book. Marcus is heir to the throne of Heliopolis, a kingdom above the clouds. He is lonely with the strict structures of their society meaning that he has no actual friends, merely subjects, counsellors and a tutor. Early in the book, Marcus' father doesn't return from a diplomatic visit to another of the kingdoms above the clouds and thus Marcus finds himself leaving Heliopolis for the first time aboard an aero:cruiser.
Events occur on the journey that lead to Marcus and some of his companions plummeting through the cloud layer and finding a whole new world they didn't know existed below the clouds.
It's a generally interesting story, although at times I found it dragged in pace. It looks at the nature of relationships between a monarch and his subjects and the other different relationships that could be in place instead. It also considers the effect one society has unwittingly on others and later knowingly.
The book finishes at a point where there is clearly intended to be a sequel in order to resolve certain outstanding issues... Having looked for the sequel, I discovered on Amazon UK that it is called Cloudworld at War however... it's also only available at the current time for £85 or £88 or £2,470 - all somewhat more than I'd be willing to pay! So at this point, I have no intention of continuing.
April Book #8 The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The first book in the YA Chaos Walking Trilogy.
Set on another planet, the story begins shortly before Todd's 14th birthday when he will become a man. Todd leaves in a town of only men with Ben and Cillian after his mother died. He was the last child to be born in the town. In their town of Prentisstown, everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts - men and animals. One day in the swamp, Todd comes across a silence and is unnerved by it, heads home to talk to Ben about it.
Shortly after he finds himself on the run with his pet dog and the source of the silence with a Prentisstown army in pursuit - and without knowing or understanding why.
I had mixed feelings about it. At times there was a suspension of belief needed that almost stretched me too thin, but there was also a pace and enough interest to keep me going. One thing I wasn't keen on was the spelling within the book. There is a clear colloquial speech but the author uses a distorted spelling with words like thru, informayshun and tho which I didn't like (it grated on my spelling nerve)
I've carried on into part 2 The Ask and the Answer already. Glad I finally got around to trying it, but not yet convinced that I'll keep the series.
>106 Peace2: You couldn’t stretch to £2,470?
>107 Peace2: I think it would hit my spelling nerve, too.
I’m going through something similar with Dragonclaw where everyone on the planet speaks with a thick
Scottish accent. I’ve given up trying to imagine them speaking with the accent and am just reading it as it’s written, if you see what I mean.
>108 humouress: I couldn't stretch that far this week. Maybe next? (I wish - and believe me much as I love books, if I could stretch that far it wouldn't be a book that I was getting!)
Accents are tricky - I tend like you to read as written - I'm not great with accents. I don't mind spelling being adjusted to account for that and don't expect all characters to speak in formal correct English. I also don't mind 'new words' being created for things that don't exist or are a future/alternate version of things that do. It probably shouldn't bother me as much with this series as it does because it is more of a character narration than an outside observer. Anyway I'm about a third of the way through part 2 now so it can't be all bad!
April Book #10 The Weight of a Mustard Seed by Wendell Steavenson
This was an audio that I borrowed from the library. According to the cover this is the story of General Kamel Sachet and his family under the regime of Saddam Hussein. It is more than that, touching far wider in terms of people's experiences during that time. I found this interesting and it shed some light on some people's actions and beliefs during Saddam Hussein's rule and the effect that period had on the Iraqi people. It was interesting but not necessarily an easy topic to read about. At times I found it jumped from one event or person to another and I found myself becoming a little confused as to what was happening to whom - I'm not sure if this was because of the audio format, or if the same would have happened in paper form.
>108 humouress: I read the first book of that series and had to stop there because I found the phonetically rendered accent so annoying to read. I couldn't immerse myself in the book because I was always aware of the writing.
April Book #11 The Lost Executioner: The Story of Comrade Duch and the Khmer Rouge by Nic Dunlop
The author of this book was a photographer in Thailand and Cambodia and it was the effects of his experiences as a photographer that led him to write this book and to include very few photographs in it. He comments on how seeing photographs can actually distance one from an experience, almost anaesthetise the experience. Although I found this book both interesting and at times horrifying in terms of events that it describes, I also found it confusing. I read it because I wanted to understand more about Cambodia and its history, in particular in relation to the period of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, but at times I found that this book assumed I already knew about the period and what led up to it. I shall at some point look for further reading to widen my knowledge and understanding
April Book #12 Emma by Jane Austen
I'm not the biggest fan of Jane Austen, possibly having been put off at school, or possibly she's just not my kind of writer (or some combination of the two). I have to be honest that I find Emma Woodhouse particularly infuriating in her meddling and gossiping, but don't in this book find any other characters to be particularly warming either.
Apparently I missed out on April Book #9 so instead I give you a second April Book #12 That Close by Suggs
For any people old enough in the UK, the band Madness were an English Ska band pretty well known in the late 1970s and the 1980s (or thereabouts) with songs like 'Our House', 'One Step Beyond', 'It Must Be Love' and 'House of Fun'. The band came from Camden Town in London. Suggs was the lead singer, real name Graham McPherson and this was his autobiography. He's an upbeat guy, he dwells on the good things in his life, sees the good in what he had, even when as youngster growing up life wasn't always easy. He talks with fondness of his youth and of his time with the band, the trouble he got into in his teens and at football games, while also admitting that the band got some things wrong which led to the band breaking up in the late '80s - principally working year round and being on top of one another all the time between recording in the studio and touring - and that they would have been better to have down time between apart.
I found the book interesting enough, but think he's told the reader what he doesn't mind the reader knowing (or what they might already have worked out/known about) which is not necessarily a bad thing, I personally believe in people's right to privacy and don't necessarily think we should have all the salacious details of someone else's life (contrary to some of those reality TV stars and the like). In the introduction, he spoke about having had a meeting with a ghost writer at someone else's insistence and having chatted with them and seen how they only noted the 'scandalous' things that he said, he decided he'd rather write the book himself than have someone else decide what to include.
I doubt I'll finish another book this month, so most likely my next post will be a round up of the month.
So I did finish more (surprised me more than anyone else).
April Book 13 I Know! by Bel Mooney
Years ago, I got some of Bel Mooney's Kitty books, I'm about to pass the couple I've still got onto a young relative and thought I should just check this one out as I hadn't actually read it. Kitty is a stubborn little girl, many of the series have titles like 'It's Not Fair' and 'I Don't Want to' and each is made up of short stories in which Kitty digs her heels in with whatever the book's title is. This is similar fair. Kitty is a little older than I remember her being and the first story in this set has Kitty buying a model kit. Both her brother and her father offer to help but Kitty knows better and what ensues is her method of dealing with the kit alone and how she gets around being too stubborn to ask for help. In another she is certain that someone doesn't like her and it takes careful acting on other people's part to pave the way to a new friendship. The other short stories are in a similar vein.
April Book #14 DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Moscow by Melanie Rice
I didn't actually read this cover to cover, but it has the strengths of other books in the Travel Guide series - it's visual nature makes it good for deciding what to see. It's arranged by area so if you're visiting one site in an area, it's relatively easy to find out what else is in the area. There are a couple of suggestions for walking tours or what to prioritise seeing in just a couple of days. There is a relatively short chapter of historical background (it's fleeting - which given the vast wealth of 'history' a country like Russia has is fair - a travel guide isn't the place for the in depth or you'd need to walk around with a forklift truck beside you to carry the guide).
I've been using this to highlight just a few places that I visited when I went to Moscow 12 years ago and to establish just a little of the history of those locations - some of my other research has been done on the internet. In counting my pages for the month, I've only included half of the number for this book given the nature of reading that I'd done with it.
April Round Up
Total Number of Books Read : 14
Books Retained After Reading : 2
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 6
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2018 : 6
Books Abandoned : 0
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 2
Non-Fiction Reads : 6 (30.23% so far this year)
Fiction Reads : 8 (69.77% so far this year)
Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 4 (45.9% so far this year)
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 7 (54.1% so far this year)
Books by Male Authors : 4 (39.5% so far this year)
Books by Female Authors : 8 (46.5% so far this year)
Books by Collaboration : 2 (14.0% so far this year)
Books acquired :1
Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 2,568 pages read this month- 9,110 pages read this year (8,890 pages left to reach goal)
Of my original list of 50 books to read before the end of the year, it is now 27 books long! (oops, looks like I only read one of them this month!)
End of March update on Walking to Mordor : 2,139.51 miles completed so far. I've left Minas Tirith but probably won't arrive at Isengard until late June at the current rate of walking (if I'm lucky)!
May Book #1 Home by Nicola Davies
A surprise audio find from the downloadable collection of the library. A future Earth (somewhat dystopic) with the inhabitants split into two groups, 'workers' and 'supers'. The supers are rich, powerful and dictate what happens, but they also fight amongst themselves. The workers, live controlled lives doing the jobs they are told. There were some interesting ideas that I hadn't come across before, along with some that I had. Some of the things that had changed I found hard to believe in the sort of time that had supposedly passed. The story is told by two characters, a girl and a boy, one from each lifestyle, although they are drawn increasingly together - not in a romantic sense. In some ways it feels like there may be a sequel with certain events towards the end of the book, although there is as yet no indication that there is one. That's not to say that it couldn't finish where it has and leave the potential to the reader to fill in in their own imagination.
:'( Sad Face! I've borrowed The Grave's a Fine and Private Place from the library in audio and the third disc doesn't work at all.
May Book #2 From Russia to Love by Ian Fleming
This was another audio borrowed from the library. I've had to remove the touchstone because the one work not listed there was this as a book!
Misogynistic characters, racist characters, class-bias - you name it they're all there. Liked this a LOT less than the other ones I've listened to and it's not the fault of the narrator who did a pretty good job. That and it takes about a third of the book before Bond even appears. Glad I only borrowed it from the library.
May Book #3 Chocky by John Wyndham
What would you do if your 11 year old son suddenly began to talk to an imaginary friend? What if the conversations were about concepts of time? Would you be worried?
The story begins with a father watching over as that is what happens with his son, but there is more to the conversations, more to the ensuing behaviours than he could ever have believed and involving doctors doesn't help the situation at all.
I wasn't sure what to expect with this (only one previous experience of John Wyndham was reading The Chrysalids back when I was at school (it's currently on my list to re-read along with a first read of The Day of the Triffids). Having finished this I'm quite looking forward to them. Not a difficult read, but quite enjoyable.
May Book #4 The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
The second part of the Chaos Walking trilogy (see above for The Knife of Letting Go which was the first part. My reservations about part 1 have continued - spelling issues continue, need to suspend disbelief continues. on the upside, some relatively original ideas within the familiar, strong and determined male and female characters (on both the positive and the negative sides of the equation). There are some elements of sexism, but within context, it serves the story - there is a distinct gender divide in two of the represented groups, but in a positive light the strength of the third group comes from a uniting of the two. There is a moving in the direction of a 'romance' but there are currently more pressing issues to focus on!
The book ends on a very definite point of 'you need to read part 3 now'. There is no conclusion at this point.
May Book #5 Leaving Alexandria by Richard Holloway
Firstly to make you all roll your eyes and despair - going in I thought this book was going to be about Egypt and archaeology/history... yeah - the subtitle of 'A Memoir of Faith and Doubt' which wasn't shown on the audio version I'd downloaded from the library wasn't included but might have given me a bit of a clue that I was wrong! Plus reading the blurb on the screen of my phone (which is where I have the app) was virtually impossible because the type was so small and I couldn't expand it enough to read with ease. This is why I normally look online on the computer before making my decisions about what to borrow, but I was in a bit of a rush as I was going out walking and I needed to download something before I left!
Anyway, the book is an autobiography of Richard Holloway, born in Scotland in 1933, who joined the Scottish Episcopal Church in his youth and eventually became the Bishop of Edinburgh and the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, before resigning from his position in 2000 having become agnostic. During his time in post, he campaigned for the right of the LGBT people to be recognised and welcomed by the church and for the acceptance of women in the clergy.
Despite not being what I was expecting, it was a fairly interesting listen of a man's journey through life.
May Book #6 The Optimist: One man's search for the brighter side of life by Laurence Shorter
Urgh! So I started out thinking this was going to be a light bit of humorous reading. (Another rushed download from the library's audio collection - I'm seeing a pattern to things not being what I expected). When I logged it here, it's listed as a self-help book! I didn't see it that way at all. It begins with the main character deciding to find the proof that we should be optimistic despite the things that we hear in the news and constant environmental threats and other threats to our existence. So begins his journey in which he encounters people various famous people, Richard Branson, Mick Jagger, the originator of the Eden Project and Bishop Desmond Tutu to name but a few. All in all - I found it tedious, trivial and I struggled to reach the end. It certainly didn't seem to me to be a self-help book, I honestly think it was just the author's attempt to write a humorous take on an attempt to look at the optimistic side of life. Speaking personally, I was more optimistic before I read this ... now I just need to work on forgetting it so that I can go back to that point.
May Book #7 Black Butler Vol. 25 by Yana Toboso
A continuation of the manga series - still loving the art. Things are progressing slowly but I do wish they didn't cost so much in relation to the time it takes me to read them!
May Book #8 I hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
The story is told by the teenage son of a serial killer. As an aside, this book was sold as an adult book, the author has previously written a number of young adult books. I couldn't decide whether this was intended as a young adult or whether the fact that the main character was a teen gave it a young feel to it. Jazz's father had been prolific, but now he's locked up for his crimes and Jazz is left to look after his grandmother and finish out school. He's tortured by thoughts of whether he too is destined to become a killer and so plunges himself into hunting killers instead. But things get a little too close to home when a new killer appears in the town, one who appears to be following his father's example.
This seems to be the start of a series, it was an okay read although I didn't love it, it passed the time well and I wasn't thinking of giving up. Jazz is a conflicted teen, torn between his past, tortured not just by his father's lessons but also by not knowing what happened to his mother, so there is a fair amount of teenage angst in with the mix as well as the usual serial killer investigation fare.
May Book #9 The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft
The story begins with a woman being approached by a young woman claiming to be her missing daughter who was abducted about 18 years previously. What ensues is a search for the truth through a web of lies, deceit and dark perversions. To be fair the perversions are the key to the events but they aren't dwelt on, so if the reader doesn't like violent sexual encounters, these are brief and not the focus. This is a mystery - what happened to the daughter all those years ago? What happened to certain individuals as part of the story now? There are also interspersed letters which are clearly from someone on the other side of the story but it's not made clear who until the end.
I actually worked out by the middle of the book certain of the answers, but carried on reading to make sure I was right. It was okay but I don't feel inclined to rush out to find any more by the author, but if I happen across any (not by personal buying but by other people giving them to me) I may get to them eventually.
May Book #10 Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Really enjoyed this - why have I been sitting on it so long? I loved Sarene and Raoden - both flawed in their own ways, but also determined and persistent. They're not looking for the easy way but the best way to achieve goals, they are neither selfish nor selfless - both act in the best interests of others, but at the same time have certain personal ends that they wish to meet.
I know some people here in the pub have read Sanderson's work - can anyone help me out as to where I head next - I clicked on the series links on the book page and one has The Emperor's Soul listed as 1.5, the other series shows it as 8 with Mistborn: The Final Empire next - how closely related are the Mistborn books and is it best to pursue that order rather than jumping straight to TES.
Now listening to Defending Jacob by William Landay which was recently mentioned elsewhere as one to look out for.
>126 Peace2: The Emperor's Soul is set in the same world and has some nods to Elantris. I really enjoyed it when I read it last year. You don't need to read Mistborn to enjoy it. They're related in that they're all set in Sanderson's Cosmere universe. Mistborn is on it's own planet, the stories really don't share characters and have completely different magic systems. Supposedly there are occasional easter eggs but I didn't notice when I read them. I assume that's something you'd pick up on a reread.
On a side note I saw two more Elantris books appear on Goodreads with publication dates of 2020 and 2022 :D I have not seen any official announcements yet but that's still exciting!
May Book #11 Embers by Sandor Marai
This was the wrong book for me right now. I really didn't enjoy it. The book was supposedly a best seller (top ten according to the cover!), it is also (according to the blurb) 'Gripping', 'Extraordinary', 'Works beautifully as a novel of suspense' and 'utterly compelling'. I found it none of those things.
The book begins with an old man preparing for a dinner visitor. The two men have a history but haven't met in just over forty years. They revisit the past, with one of them recounting their story of their shared past. I found it dragged - which for me detracts from 'gripping and 'suspense'. For lovers of description, there may be some merit in the book, but I neither liked the characters nor felt any connection to the story and so the description for mejust adds weight rather than enjoyment of the language. It is possible that something was lost in translation as the book was originally written in Hungarian. The book was written in 1942.
May Book #12 Defending Jacob by William Landay
An interesting book. I borrowed the audio version from the library and there are points at which it is a little odd during some of the court room scenes in particular where the conversation is very back and forth and so the narrator has to indicate who is speaking (I'm not sure if this is an addition for the audio version). The book has an interesting form of interspersed court interrogations with the story that has led to the court room situation between. The story begins with an assistant DA beginning to work on a homicide in which a fourteen year old boy has died. The events take a turn when the case comes closer to home and so the effect on his family is explored.
It made for an interesting listen and I'm glad that I'd seen it mentioned on another GD thread (I'm sorry I can't remember whose). I'd seen it in the library already at that point and been curious but that little prompt was enough to move me into borrowing it.
May Book #13 So What! by Bel Mooney
This is the last of the Kitty books by Bel Mooney aimed at young readers (the newly fluent). Kitty is beginning to mature a little but she still has moods and this story shows her at times standing up for other people and being deeply caring, but at others being as selfish as ever. It's okay for the age group, but I don't like it as much as I used to like some of the earlier books. I suppose one good thing about the series is that Kitty does often learn from her bad behaviour by either having to adapt or by having to apologise.
May Book #14 Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones
Set in a school for children orphaned by witches in a world where witches are still burnt. The story focuses particularly on Nan and Charles who are bullied. Someone leaves a note in a pile of books for a teacher saying that there is a witch in a particular class. What ensues is a series of mishaps as some of the children begin to discover unexpected witching skills, while others are making accusations that other people are to blame for things which the accused is innocent of. I won't say any more so as not to give away details.
The book was okay, but this would not be amongst my favourites by the author.
May Round Up
Total Number of Books Read : 14
Books Retained After Reading : 2
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 7
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2018 : 7
Books Abandoned : 0
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 2
Non-Fiction Reads : 1 (24.56% so far this year)
Fiction Reads : 13 (75.44% so far this year)
Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 8 (52.1% so far this year)
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 3 (47.9% so far this year)
Books by Male Authors : 9 (45.6% so far this year)
Books by Female Authors : 5 (43.9% so far this year)
Books by Collaboration : 0 (1-.5% so far this year)
Books acquired :6
Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 2,538 pages read this month- 11,648 pages read this year (6,352 pages left to reach goal)
Of my original list of 50 books to read before the end of the year, it is now 24 books long! (made it through 3 this month - which is better than last month's 1)
End of May update on Walking to Mordor : 2,237.52 miles completed so far. Still hoping to reach Isengard before the end of the month!
June Book #1 Timeriders by Alex Scarrow
A teen book, the first in the series. Three young people are rescued just before their death - 1 from the sinking Titanic, 1 from an airplane subject to a terrorist attack and the third from a burning skyscraper - and recruited in that instant to work for an organisation that guards the flow of time. This is the start of a series with the individuals learning along with the reader about time travel as the story progresses. They've barely begun their training with they find themselves thrown into a mission to rectify a change in the past. One of the girls is supposed to be the analyst, picking up changes in the world around her as they live in a time bubble of the same two days over and over again - she has to spot the small changes in the events that will mean something in the past changed. Another is supposed to work out from the information what changed in the past and the third is the one sent back through time to put the change right.
They find themselves in a post-apocalyptic present and have to peel back time to work out when to send their colleague to, and what he needs to change when he gets there.
It was an interesting idea with a bad guy who believes in his reasoning and them having to overcome multiple difficulties that compound. It touches on real events (the time bubble they live in is September 10th and 11th 2001 - the traveller travels to the Texas Book Depository on November 22nd 1963 and to certain events in Nazi Germany) and uses them to create a significant turning point - if something about that day changed, how would the future change?
An interesting idea, a good teen read, but despite having numerous of the sequels, I've decided not to continue but rather to donate to a local school.
June Book #2 The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester
An audio book borrowed from the library. Last year I read Simon Winchester's The Surgeon of Crowthorne which was about one particular contributor to the original Oxford English Dictionary, this book focuses on the actual creators - the people who had the initial vision and those who were key to it being brought to fruition and the hurdles they faced to do that. It brings home just what a massive undertaking it was - to try and find all of the words in the English language, their origin in time and usage and all the different varieties and contexts that each word would need to be explained for - if I recall correctly it said something like 'back' having 67 columns of space to explain its different meanings and usages in changing contexts. It shows how it was issued as a 'serial' following the example of the original production of some of Charles Dickens' works.
It highlighted how in the space of the original being written, so many new words were added to the ever expanding English language that as soon as they finished they had to start work on a book of additions. It was interesting to learn about the cultural differences between English (which is willing to add new words all the time using words from other languages to create or translate) to French and Italian (countries where academies were set up to regulate new words and the use of words to retain the purity of the language).
I enjoyed the book as a glimpse into both the process of making the dictionary and the people who embarked on the original project which ended up so daunting and such a huge endeavour that it took their whole lives and often more to complete. I don't think this is a book that would appeal to everyone, but for me, the author manages to create a small sense of the enormity of the achievement in a time when there was nothing quite like it previously. (there were already translation dictionaries and Websters which in a smaller way attempted to be a dictionary - but this was the first of its kind to attempt to catch 'everything') I can't imagine a life without a dictionary - so I for one appreciate the efforts of all concerned.
June Book #3 Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
This book had been on my shelf for Years! It was an acquisition back when the BBC Big Read was a thing (why did I allow someone to bet with me about who would finish the big read first.... and then succumb to the book shops '3 for 2 offers' on the books that were on the list?). So I'm glad I finally did get to read it and while it won't be one of my favourites, it was an interesting read.
Set on the island of Cephalonia in World War II, it follows the individual stories of a number of people as they overlap, intertwine and separate - Pelagia and her father who is the local doctor, Captain Corelli, part of the occupying Italian army, Mandras, Pelagia's betrothed when they are young, Carlos, Corelli's friend and aide. It shows the trials and difficulties they face, the way their beliefs and attitudes are challenged. The book is at times brutal and horrific, at times humorous and lighthearted.
I'm glad I finally spent some time with it.
June Book #4 Arcadia by Lauren Groff
This book drew me in quickly and I found myself fascinated with the lives and people. The story is told in three parts by Bit. In the first part Bit is very young, his parents live in a commune and that life is all he has ever known as he was born right as the commune first began and the people settled on the land that was to become Arcadia. They have high ideals of what their life is going to be - the shared nature of everything, nothing kept back for oneself. Bit is a child not just of his parents, but also of the whole community - the smallest of the children for a long period, the first born as the commune began, he runs free but has also a strong sense of family with his parents. The community is led by Handy, who at certain times of the year goes on the road with a group of singers leaving the community to run without him.
In the second part, Bit has grown, is still the central character in the retelling, but now he is a teenager and the contrast between him and some of the other community teenagers grows. He becomes fascinated by Helle, daughter of Handy, a girl far more troubled by her upbringing than he is and the reader can draw their own conclusions for the reasons for this when reading how even within such a small community, the parenting differences can be seen. Fractures begin to be seen within the community, eventually leading to complete divisions.
The third part, Bit is now an adult and living away from Arcadia, but it is still a part of who he is and his beliefs. There are some difficult parts that are saddening to read
I was expecting a quick read of reasonable interest when I borrowed this one - I found myself drawn in and immersed in Bit's life and far more invested in it than I was prepared for. While it isn't a life I would want for myself (or any hypothetical children), there are things within it that are positives (alongside negatives) - as there are in most ways of life. I'm curious to see what else Lauren Groff has written.
>126 Peace2: As someone who has been intermittently chided mercilessly for asking what to read in the Sanderson oeuvre, I finally read The Emperor’s Soul last year. It didn’t really help me understand whether to read more Sanderson. The writing was tight, the plotting was not bad. But the character development was limited, though perhaps that goes along with the thinner novella length. One day, I’ll try Mistborn or Elantris...
>139 stellarexplorer: I listened to an audio of Elantris from the library download titles and can recommend it as a good way to experiment with his writing. I'm quite looking forward to reading some more of his but am not sure when I will get to it. So much to read, so little time.
June Book #5 The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
This was another borrowed from the library audio downloads. Many moons ago I read I Capture the Castle and have always intended to read more by the author and obviously I've seen the Disney version of the story when I was younger - I can't remember the last time I saw it, but there are details in this which definitely felt familiar and others which I was sure were different.
It's a heart-warming tale of good versus evil, of resilience and family bonds being paramount. Pongo's Mrs gives birth to more puppies than she can look after herself and Perdita is brought in to help. When the puppies are stolen, Pongo works out who has taken them and by use of the twilight barking system is able to use a network of dogs all over the country to find out if anyone has seen the puppies and plans are put into place for a rescue.
The book is an easy read in terms of language although some of the events within are dated now (the book was published in 1956), but there are also some positive images of women (for the time) - the Darlings Nannies become the Butler and Cook - the Nanny would became Butler elects to wear trousers with her apron over the top, Mrs Pongo is convinced that she isn't brave because she's not like her husband but then goes on to do brave things of which she can be proud (although she never does master which is her left and right!). The subject of animal cruelty and wearing furs would make a good talking point for children nowadays although I would guess that most children in the UK would be more surprised by someone wanting to wear a dalmatian coat than perhaps a children of the late '50s would have been.
It's probably time I read I Capture the Castle again, as I don't remember much about it, but I also seem to remember it being aimed at a somewhat older audience.
>138 Peace2: I really disliked the couple who are the focus of the book, finding them pretentious and narcissistic. Spending time with them was unpleasant.
>141 Peace2: I love One hundred and one Dalmatians! I remember being disappointed when I saw the Disney film that it didn't stick closely to the book. My (hard) copy has lovely illustrations by Janet and Anne Graeme-Johnston.
>142 Sakerfalcon: I shall bear the comments about F&F in mind and stick to trying to find the other (once I'm further down the TBR pile). It's funny that, not having watched Disney's 101 Dalmatians in such a long time that there were only a few points that I thought 'that wasn't in the film' - then again, most of the Disney films seem to very selective about what they take from the original stories and not just in the way of most films needing to cut down on time or extravagance!
June Book #6 The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
So this was about my fourth attempt at the book and I tried it now because I saw an audio version through the library. Why you might ask would I be so persistent in trying to get through it if I'd failed to do so on previous attempts? At least one of the attempts had led me into a real reading slump, so it was a risky try this time around. The biggest reason for trying so many times was that I had been given multiple copies as gifts so I figured there had to be a reason why so many very different people had given it to me (other than them trying to disperse unwanted copies of their own which had crossed my mind at one point!).
The audio had a number of pluses over the book - I could be progressing through the book whilst also accomplishing things like walking at lunch, travelling on the bus when it's too crowded or I'm standing and can't juggle an actual physical book or while exercising or cleaning were the biggest ones. It had the added benefit that the narrator was good and made it relatively easy to listen to.
In the end, I still wouldn't rate the book highly - I think this is almost a Marmite book - but there were points of interest in the way it was written, in the subjects covered, in the ending. I took a look at the reviews here on LT and it seems to back up my Marmite theory. Not one I shall be keeping now I've read it (nor shall I be giving it to anyone as a gift - although if anyone nearby wants a copy.... I may have one or two to spare!)
June Book #7 No Dream is Too High by Buzz Aldrin
A partial biography with touches of the motivational speaker from Buzz Aldrin. It was fairly short so didn't deal with the day to day struggle of becoming an astronaut or his private life but was more of a quick journey through some of the highlights and the struggles that he overcame - for instance being turned down for NASA's astronaut program because they only wanted test pilots but he persisted. He also discusses some of his experiences and opportunities since 1969 - in promoting the space program - in aiming to go to Mars rather than returning to the moon and the like.
There were a few quotes in the book that I particularly liked "The sky is not the limit" (particularly appropriate for an astronaut I think) and also "Your mind is like a parachute - if it isn't open, it won't work".
June Book #8 B.24 by Arthur Conan Doyle
This was just a short story that I'd borrowed in audio form from the library about a man accused of a crime and his defence. Interesting enough and very short.
June Book #9 Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
This book started well, but my enthusiasm waned as it progressed and I was disappointed in the ending which felt rushed and unfinished. Boy Novak is unhappy at home with her abusive father and she's never known her mother. She runs away when she's about 20 and begins a new life. Snow is a young girl with a widowed father growing up secure and loved. Their lives cross - I don't want to say too much as it would spoil the book.
The book is set in 1930s America and some of the plot lines in the book stem from attitudes about race during that period. I read that this is an interpretation of the Snow White story - but I didn't get that feel from it. My general dissatisfaction was from the tediousness into which it began to fall only to bring a twist at the end that was never fully dealt with. To me, it felt like a book with more potential than it realised.
June Book #10 Rather be the Devil by Ian Rankin
This is the 21st part of a long running series. Rebus is a now retired police inspector in Edinburgh with a number of health issues and in this story he was taking the opportunity to review an old cold case and it drums up a number of current issues linking it with a new death. Rebus, as unconventional as ever, thinks nothing of 'borrowing' police files or posing as a policeman when interviewing people. It's a relatively easy read - nothing too gory, reasonable pace. I felt familiar with Rebus (although I'm not sure whether I've read any before - but I think I had watched a few of the televised series) but I think it would probably have been better to read some of the earlier books first (particularly as I'm pretty sure I have a couple of them lurking somewhere!)
>119 Peace2: I'm glad you enjoyed the Wyndham! I've read Chrysalids, Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos in the last half dozen years. Fun stuff!
>126 Peace2: Oh, your first Sanderson? >127 Narilka: is right in suggesting you dive into The Emperor's Soul. (The Mistborn Trilogy is enormous, anyway.)
>139 stellarexplorer: You earned that chiding, my friend. :o)
>144 Peace2: I guess I'm going to have to refresh my memory as to exactly what your 'Marmite theory' consists of.
>148 clamairy: I shall get to more of the Wyndham titles eventually (I seem to say that about a lot of titles of late!) - similarly with the Sanderson - I'd like to get to these sooner rather than later but between library loans and what have you everything takes longer to get to than I'd like!
Marmite theory - you love it or hate it (as they say in the adverts) - there are no in-betweens! Much like Marmite (of which I'm in the 'hate it' camp I'm afraid).
>149 Peace2: If you think Marmite is bad news, wait 'till you meet the Australian equivalent, Vegemite. Eww.
I had Marmite once. It wasn't horrible, but I certainly wouldn't intentionally seek it out.
I found Marmite very salty, I think. It’s been a long time since I tried it.
My younger son, though, loves Vegemite sandwiches.
June Book #11 Jessi-cat: The cat that unlocked a boy's heart by Jayne Dillon
Another library audio loan and one I almost gave up on. There were multiple problems with this one - the narrator's voice was one of them, the author's voice was another. I have a feeling that each of these compounded the other so that I'm not sure how much of the problem was the author and how much the narrator.
In essence this is supposed to be a memoir of the author's youngest son's struggle with selective mutism and autism and how buying the family a kitten helped him begin to break through the barriers these conditions present. The narrator's voice seemed to swing from overwhelming surprise to gloating self satisfaction at one's own superiority. I found myself irritated, rather than impressed. The author seemed to be supermum - her superior mothering skills began from when her son was born in hospital and, as a midwife herself and knowing how busy the midwives on duty would be, she told them not to even bother making her a bed as she would go home as soon as the baby was born. I know quite a number of mothers are able to go home shortly after giving birth to a baby; but for me there was a superiority feel to the way she portrayed it. Tales like this continue to be interspersed through the book. When he enters nursery school and his anxiety disorder begins to be evident, the teacher calls her in for a chat and she is immediately able to tell the school that he has selective mutism - despite the local speech therapists, her husband who is a GP and numerous other experts never having heard of it - she apparently just knew that that was what it was, despite no previous experience of the condition and presumably not actually knowing that he wasn’t speaking at all at school at the beginning of the meeting. I don't want to belittle the struggle it is for a parent to get the help their child needs both in and out of school or for teachers and schools to be able to provide for every child’s needs, particularly when funding is tight. Her determination is commendable, but for me, I found the tone jarring and almost gave up on the book more than once.
June Book #12 The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo
A police procedural set in the Basque country. I liked this one a lot - there was a good balance between building the atmosphere of the setting (without dragging down the pace by overburdening the reader with description) and the tension of the police cases. Amaia Salazar returns to the town of Elizondo, her childhood home, to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. Things move quickly and Amaia finds herself investigating more than one murder. At the same time she is dealing with family tensions and hurts and her own lingering difficulties with her childhood.
It's the start of a trilogy but at the end of this first the main case is completed - what linger are the more personal aspects of the story.
I like Amaia, she doesn't shrink from the difficult things she has to do, but she also not uneffected by them and ther is clearly more to her own story than has been fully realised so far. There are lingering supernatural elements linked in with the story - the local mythology intertwines with the investigation.
I'll be honest, I had worked out the 'whodunnit' before I reached the end, but it didn't matter (I still needed to be sure). I've put the next title into my basket at Amazon for the next time I'm shopping there (and to keep it fresh in my mind in case I end up seeing it somewhere else).
Was a shame I had to give this one back to the person who loaned it to me!
June Books #13 and #14 Sparkling Cyanide and Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
I borrowed a couple of Agatha Christie's books from the library mobile audio book app. The first was Sparkling Cyanide - not one that I remember having come across before, featuring Colonel Race, who also didn't ring any bells.
The second was Murder on the Orient Express. This one I had definitely read before although while I could remember the who and couldn't remember the why or the what happened afterwards.
Back in my early teens I had a big pile of Agatha Christie novels that I had devoured - I then lent the whole set to someone else and never got a single one back - 30 some years later I realised that I've pretty much forgotten the details of most of them. Both of these were comfortable listens, Poirot as familiar as ever. This one was read by Kenneth Branagh and so Poirot became David Suchet's incarnation - rather than Peter Ustinov.
Easy to listen to, and comfortably familiar in tone. I enjoyed them both and expect to borrow some more from the library at some point (fingers crossed they'll get some more - they've got about five so far.
June DNF - The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch
The Earth is ruined and the rich have moved to live on a space station above it - there they have changed - skin becoming pale, male/female becoming virtually genderless. This was relatively short but I couldn't finish it. It was tedious and nothing was happening (apart from faked sex acts and talk about scarification of the body as a means of self expression). I borrowed an audio version and the narrator's lilting cadence only made things worse. It was supposed to be a modern retelling of the story of Jeanne D'Arc but I hadn't got that far before I gave up (I made it just under a quarter of the way through the book with nothing happening. This one wasn't for me.
June Book #15 Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff
I have no intention of saying much on the specific content of the book, but I shall speak, I hope, in general terms about the subject - if anything I say here oversteps the pub guidelines, can someone pm me and I'll edit accordingly as I don't mean to cause any offence.
I borrowed it from the library, I had heard many (but not all) of the stories in it from various news sources.
Having finished it, I was left wondering how it would differ from a book written at more distance. What I mean by that is a book written about for example, Winston Churchill near the beginning of World War II might differ from one written just after the end of the war and again be vastly different from one written 20 or 30 years later. With hindsight to see how events played out, combined with more emotional distance from the ups and downs of any leadership, this could change the whole feel of a piece of writing on a subject - particularly one as emotive as political governance.
June Book #16 Night by Elie Wiesel
The autobiography (or first part of in actual fact) of a young Jewish teenager recounting his survival of Auschwitz. It's intense and (rightly) hard to read. Short at only 120 pages, it still wields a lot of force in the intensity of the writing. There's plenty in there to horrify and to make the reader grieve with the people in the retelling. I'm pretty sure I've said this (or something like it before) but I wish that all of us could read books/hear histories like this and learn from them - so that we didn't still turn on the news and see the kind of heartless cruelty that man is capable of still happening in other countries.
June Book #17 The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Written by Cornelia Funke who wrote the Inkheart trilogy, I actually liked this more than that series but as with that one I felt there was untapped potential. My memory of Inkheart was of liking the first in the series but my enthusiasm waning as it progressed. This by contrast is a stand-alone. The story begins with two orphans, Prosper and Bo, on the run from their aunt and trying to make their way in Venice. Their aunt wants to adopt Bo, the younger and visually more angelic brother, but not his brother - the boys have run away so as not to be separated. In Venice they have joined a little band of children who are living in a deserted cinema under the eye of the Thief Lord - a slightly older child himself, who visits bringing things for them to sell, but doesn't stay with them. Over the course of the story we find out more of the Thief Lord's story, and meet both the boys' aunt and the detective she sends after them.
The story description gave me the impression it was going to be more fantastical and magical - when this aspect of the book finally does come into play, it's late in the game, feels rushed and unsatisfactory. I'd have almost preferred it not to have been there as it felt out of place at such a late stage.
That's going to be my final book for the first half of the year, so I shall make a post tomorrow (probably) about both the stats for June's reading and those for the first half of the year's reading.
June Round Up
Total Number of Books Read : 17
Books Retained After Reading : 0 (given so many of this month's books were library loans or loans from other people, this should not raise any alarm bells with enforcers)
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 4
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2018 : 4
Books Abandoned : 1
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 2
Non-Fiction Reads : 5 (25.68% so far this year)
Fiction Reads : 12 (74.32% so far this year)
Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 9 (53.1% so far this year)
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 8 (46.9% so far this year)
Books by Male Authors : 9 (47.3% so far this year)
Books by Female Authors : 8 (44.6% so far this year)
Books by Collaboration : 0 (8.1% so far this year)
Books acquired :1
Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 1,661 pages read this month- 13,309 pages read this year (4,691 pages left to reach goal)
Of my original list of 50 books to read before the end of the year, it is still 24 books long! (made it through a grand total of none this month - although I had tackled some other long lingering on the TBR pile titles)
End of June update on Walking to Mordor : 2,326.95 miles completed so far. I've set out from Isengard for Rivendell - not likely to reach there until next February if I'm lucky!
End of Second Quarter - Summary of the year so far
Total number of books read - 74
Total number of pages read - 23,981
Average number of books per month - 12.33
Average number of pages per month - 3,996
Average number of books per week - 2.86
Average number of pages per week - 927.40
Fiction Reads - 55
Non-Fiction Reads - 19
Fiction Read Sub Categories
Children's/Teen - 14
Science Fiction/Fantasy - 9 (not including those that also classed as Children's/Teen)
Historical Fiction - 3
'Old' Classics (not relatively modern ones) - 2 (there are a number of others which could have fallen here but I've included elsewhere e.g Black Beauty and Frankenstein)
Crime - 12
Graphic Novel/Manga - 4
Romance/Chick Lit - 2 (there are a further two listed under science fiction/fantasy for MaryJanice Davidson's Queen Betsy titles)
Short Story Collection - 2
Other - 7
Non-fiction Read Sub Categories
Biography - 10
Geography/History/Archaeology - 7
Science - 2
This latter is loose categorising as some of the geographical/historical books also discussed scientific things (geology for instance) and the 'science' book also referred to historical scientific practices. Similarly some of the biographies dealt with more than an individual and were as much about the search for that person or the group or events of which they were part - for instance The Lost Executioner was as much about the hunt for Commander Duch as it was about him and his life and the Khmer Rouge of which he was part.
Where was it from?
Library - 33
My Shelf before this year - 35
New to me - 5
Other person loan - 1
And that seems like a good point to start a new thread for the second half of the year...
This topic was continued by Sitting on the lower heights of Mt TBR, Peace2 reads in 2018 (Part 2).
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.