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Still reducing Mt TBR, Peace2 reads in 2019

The Green Dragon

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Edited: Jan 12, 3:12pm Top

Happy New Year to all and welcome to my shiny new thread!

To anyone who stops by, welcome, help yourself to refreshments and feel free to browse the bookshelves and offer suggestions of what to read next.

My hopes for the year ahead are that I continue to read and enjoy the majority of my reading either because it's fun or diverting or because it's interesting. I'm not sure that I will be able to maintain my reading rate at the same kind of level as I've managed for the last couple of years as I'm embarking on a training course for work that's going to take me about 7 months. Having said that, sometimes, I get more productive the more I have to do, so you never know, plus there will still be times when I'm able to listen to my audio books so I still expect to go through a fair number of those. I'm also hoping to maintain the more out than in that I've done for the last year or two as at the current rate it would take me approximately 17 years to read the books on Mt TBR!

For the last couple of years I've been successfully trying to reduce the size of Mt TBR - I managed a reduction of 57 in 2017 and 60 last year. For this, it doesn't matter which books, the goal is just a general reduction in the number of books waiting to be read. This doesn't automatically mean the books will leave the house once read, just that they are no longer unread. Retention of books once read will depend upon whether I still want them once I've read them - generally speaking, if it's mine and I loved it, I'll keep it, if it was mine and I think I might want to read it again or loan it to someone, I keep it, if it's part of a set, others of which I want to keep, then I will probably keep it (this is particularly relevant to the Marvel comic and various manga series). Other books are generally passed on to charities or community groups/schools as relevant unless I think the world needs protecting from something awful, in which case it goes in the recycling! I aim to track the number of books read this year (the tracker will look like I'm aiming for a 100 but this is just a number to show progress) and to read at least 18,000 pages that are already on my shelves as of January 1st - so excluding library books and books purchased this year which will be included in the tally of books read.

With regard to the books that I intend to read, I would like to keep a rough balance between female/male authors and I would like to read a number of non-fiction to my fiction (approximately 1/4 to 3/4).

In 2017, I set up a list of 50 books to read before the end of 2018 - I read all except 6 of them, I hope to read them this year. I made a list earlier last year, of 50 books to read before the end of 2019, when I looked at the beginning of the year, I realised that I had already tackled 7 of them so I've added the two set texts that I've received so far for my course taking the list back up to 45. The list is a mix of fiction/non-fiction, some of it has been around for ages, some of it I was really keen to read when I acquired it and am disappointed that I haven't got to it yet - hence putting them on a 'priority' list. Having said that, actual reading will still go by what I feel like at the time, particularly given the study aspect that has to be done, I want to be able to relax when I do have downtime and enjoy what I'm reading.

Jan 5, 10:06am Top

Happy New Year and happy reading!

Jan 5, 10:11am Top

Hippo Gnu Ear!

Jan 5, 11:25am Top

You are off to a great start, may your year be full of possibilities and good happenings.

Jan 5, 11:58am Top

>1 Peace2: Happy New Year, and good luck with your training course and your reading goals! :)

Jan 6, 5:06am Top

>2 Narilka:, >3 hfglen:, >4 MrsLee:, >5 YouKneeK: Thank you for all the good wishes. May your years also be wonderful.

January Book #1 Broken: Torchwood by Joseph Lidster

So I've recently discovered the TV series Torchwood - don't ask why it's taken so long! I've then binge-watched all four seasons (and am now eyeing up the Doctor Who series which I also haven't seen) and have now started on the audio books and dramatisations that accompany the series. This was the first - there are more to follow in the coming months.

So this runs alongside certain events in Season 1 and the focus is on Ianto with both he and Jack appearing in the story. The story begins the day after the episode 'Cyberwoman', when Ianto feeling lost and depressed goes out for a pint of milk and walks into the local bar instead. The barmaid, Mandy, takes him under her wing and over the coming weeks becomes a friend.

The story of Ianto's struggle at work continues in his loosely edited stories to Mandy, so that the listener can tell where in the series this is happening. A situation comes up that Ianto and Jack individually have taken an interest in, which eventually leads to the two of them crossing paths in their independent investigations.

Overall, I enjoyed this as an addition to the TV series. I wouldn't say that the characterisation was absolutely perfect, but it also wasn't completely wide of the mark - I wonder if some of it is deliberately exaggerated for radio/audio because you don't have the visual clues? Jack's entrance to the pub for me was a particularly jarring moment, for while he can be attention-seeking, brash and loud, he doesn't frequently do that on an initial entry unless he's trying to distract from someone/something else.

With that in mind, I've given it three and a half stars (subject to change once I've tried more in the series and can judge its quality against them as opposed to against books in general.

Jan 6, 5:18am Top

January Book #2 Travel Chile by Cristobal Correa Montalva

It's funny because early last year I read a book of wonderful photographs of The Grand Canyon and spoke about the writing included with them and here we are a year later and I've tackled a very similar book.

This was new to my collection - a Christmas present from a lovely lady who lives in Chile who I 'met' through chatting on LT after a Christmas card exchange. The book has amazing photos in it, I would love to revisit Chile and to see more (much more) than I had the opportunity to do on my previous flying visit (3 days if I remember correctly as I travelled from NZ to Ecuador/Galapagos about 12 years ago).

The text in the book is dual language - Spanish and English. I made myself read each description in Spanish first and try to decipher it - no mean feat, and I impressed myself by just how much I could figure out having done an O Level oh so many years ago (the fact I did O Levels, rather than GCSEs will give a clue to UK people of just how very very long ago it was). The only other Spanish I have done was listening to a tape while I was travelling 12 years ago with the intention of trying to revive the little bit I remembered from school before arriving in S. America - which at the time hadn't worked well for a number of reasons.

The information is brief, just a hint of what the country has to offer geographically speaking for the most part, but also a little in terms of its history. The book is without a shadow of a doubt, a definite keeper, but like the Grand Canyon book last year, this is for the photos rather than the actual information given. So much more to find out - why aren't there more reading hours in a week?

Jan 7, 4:43am Top

>7 Peace2: why aren't there more reading hours in a week?

This is something I ask myself all the time! Better start working on that time machine ...

I hope that 2019 is a great year for you and brings you good things in books and in life. Looking forward to following your reading and almost certainly being hit by some book bullets!

Jan 7, 6:00am Top

Have a great 2019, Peace2. I have been quietly lurking in your previous threads and I intend to continue with the spying from behind a curtain.

Jan 7, 7:49am Top

Good luck with the TBR reduction plan!

Maybe while sakerfalcon is working on the time machine, someone could figure out how to fit more books onto a shelf.

Jan 12, 3:56pm Top

January Book #3 The Keeping Place by Isobelle Carmody

While I am still mostly enjoying this series, this book in particular seems laboured. It's huge but at the end of the day, they don't get very far in terms of plot progression. At times I wanted to 'fast forward' a bit to get to the point. I had contemplated buying the final part of the series for my Thingaversary, but with another two books to go before I need it in the series, I have decided to hold off until I'm closer just in case I decide to give up on the series beforehand.

Jan 12, 4:11pm Top

So yesterday was my Thingaversary - I've been here 5 years - doesn't time fly when you're having fun!!! I have done my duty by the enforcers and acquired new books...

Mort by Terry Pratchett
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Anything Goes by John Barrowman
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
I also got three audio dramatisations of Torchwood (which passes requirements by one but as they are performances rather than actual books there's an extra to ensure enforcer acceptance).

There were other books but they've are not predicting delivery until the end of the month - hence having picked up the Patrick Rothfuss and another dramatisation.

I then added another book accidentally. I went hunting for birthday presents yesterday in a bit of a rush (I didn't have long during my lunch break) and came away with two books from the local bookshop having read the descriptions on them. I looked at them more closely on getting home and discovered that one of them is actually aimed at 11-14 year olds per Amazon's description. I'm somewhat cross that this was on the adult shelves in the shop and that the person I've bought it for would not appreciate that. The shop aren't happy to replace or swap it for another one, so I'm stuck with it. I will probably give it a try and unless it astounds me at how amazing it is, I'll pass it to a local school. The book in question is entitled The House on Hummingbird Island and is written by Sam Angus.

Jan 12, 6:25pm Top

Happy Thingaversary.

I think your acquisitions will be very acceptable to the enforcers and that you will have a green mark against your name...until next year.

Jan 12, 6:28pm Top

>13 pgmcc: Phew! I'm so glad to keep the enforcers happy - I have some very nice cheese on hand to thank them for their kindness in accepting this year's purchases, and the wine is ready to either chill (should white be required) or breathe (if the preference is for red) if enforcers wish to notify me of any potential arrival times.

Jan 12, 6:37pm Top

>14 Peace2: Well, your audit preparedness should be rewarded by a visit. It would be a shame for all that cheese and wine to go to waste.

How are you fixed at around 5pm tomorrow?

Jan 12, 6:44pm Top

Sounds perfect! :D

Jan 12, 8:12pm Top

Enforcers don't schedule their visits.
This must be an imposter!

Jan 12, 8:15pm Top

>17 suitable1: When wine and cheese is on offer there are always impostors.

Jan 13, 4:38pm Top

January Book #4 The Party by Lisa Hall

This was an audio I borrowed from the library. The story begins with a woman waking up in a strange bedroom. She is confused, nauseous and has little recollection of the evening before. As she leaves the bed, she finds she is undressed below the waist and bruised. The rest of the story shows her attempts to find out what really happened to her that night and the events that had led up to the party. With a marriage that is in trouble, a lover she has left and a man who was stalking her, it appears that there are plenty of choices for people who will be unhappy with her, but does that mean one of them are her attacker?

This was a fairly fast paced, Rachel conducts her own investigations when the police can't find out who did it. She uncovers other neighbourly secrets without finding her attacker. By the end of the book, we know who and why and we see the resolution that Rachel is seeking for her situation.

Overall if the theme is something that you don't mind reading about - it is uncomfortable at times (as it should be) - this is fairly well written and I gave it 3 stars.

Jan 13, 4:45pm Top

January Book #5 Torchwood: Another Life by Peter Anghelides

This was another audio book. Unfortunately, I hadn't realised when I bought it that it was an abridged version - the listing I purchased online didn't state that. It is a BBC Audio read by John Barrowman and would have sufficed as a further episode in the Season 1/2 era of Torchwood with the characters being fairly true to the TV show. It also presumes knowledge of the show (no going over introductions to known characters) and the general familiar settings.

I've seen that the book was part of one of a number of trilogies that were produced, and so I intend at some point (when I've tackled a few more books on the TBR pile) to attempt to purchase these, so that I can read the unabridged version (and read the ones that weren't made into audios).

In terms of the narration, John Barrowman is very listenable and I shall look forward to further audios that I either have or intend to acquire over the coming weeks.

Jan 14, 7:41am Top

Happy belated Thingaversary! I hope you enjoy your acquisitions; The slow regard of silent things is still sitting on my TBR pile so I'll be interested in how you like it.

Jan 15, 2:55am Top

>21 Sakerfalcon: It wasn't until I got it home that I realised there was another volume between the one I've read and it - so I guess I need to locate that one first :( So it may be a while until I read it.

Jan 18, 2:12am Top

January Book #6 The Wedding Diary by Margaret James

This was an accidental library loan - as in, as I swiped looking for things to borrow, I accidentally said I wanted this and it downloaded. As I hadn't seen anything else, I figured I'd give it a go, nothing to lose, right?

The story begins with Cat receiving a phone call to say she has won a fairy tale wedding at a luxury hotel - the only problem is, she's not quite sure how to tell the wedding planner that she has no idea where her fiancee is, after he took off on a tour and stopped returning her calls. Working on the luxury hotel, which Cat is visiting with the planner and her team, Cat bumps into a man she'd bumped into at work a few days earlier. Adam restores old buildings sympathetically and had been at the salvage yard where Cat worked to buy some slate. Adam has vowed off falling in love, after asking his girlfriend to marry him, only to have her laugh and announce she was leaving to go to Uruguay and work with a charitable organisation.

You can already see where the story is going can't you? Me too, but having said that it was a lightly amusing ride along the way - the two slowly recover from their lost relationships, while getting to know one another only for the wayward strays to return (separately) and through spanners into the works.

I gave this three stars, it was light fluff and I enjoyed it for that. A bit of fun that lifted my mood and made for easy listening.

Jan 18, 2:30am Top

January DNF #1 Time Traveller's Strictly Cash by Spider Robinson

I thought I had read this before (but it must be one of the other SR books on the shelf), because having tried it now, only the first couple of stories rang familiar. So this is a collection of short stories and essays, reproductions of columns that he had written for magazines and also a commentary between them from him about where and why the piece came about. The mixed bag of contents is what makes me certain of never read it in its entirety.

The first couple of stories were fine, but then there was a book review column that he'd written and while vaguely amusing, the books weren't familiar or current so I felt ambivalent towards them. The next story I couldn't finish and on reading his commentary I discovered that it was actually a chapter taken from another book on the shelf Mindkiller, so I've sent that away as well, working on the theory that if I can't get through a chapter, there's no way I'll get through a book! This is a very different style of writing - much darker, gorier and bleaker. At that point, I just couldn't get back into it and I had three or four attempts at the next story and found myself increasingly reluctant to even make the time to pick the book up, which is definitely not a good sign!

At this point, I have three Spider Robinson books left on the shelf - 2 are Callahan's, the other is not - and I'm not sure whether to keep any of them. I know I've read books by him in the past and been okay with them, he's very clever with the puns, but I don't actually remember loving him. I'm pretty sure that at least some of them were acquired because some Canadian friends loved his work and were encouraging me to read them, the others which are second hand are probably because I recognised the name in a second hand shop (it's rare to come across his work here at all, to be honest I've never seen his books in an actual bookshop here).

So I'm pondering whether to pass the other three on, I'm sure they'll be enjoyed by someone - plus I've just won an ebay haul of 15 books - that I really don't have room for! Well, I can hesitate a little longer before making a decision on that one, or maybe I'll give one of them a try and then make my decision.

Jan 18, 8:09am Top

I loved the Callahan short stories, but didn't care as much for the full length novels. None of Spider Robinson's other books interested me enough to read. When I was in my twenties, I read and reread the Callahan's stories frequently, even though I knew all the punchlines. I still have them in my collection, but I don't think I've read one in the last 20 years. They're like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—humour that I loved when I was young, but that doesn't draw me in anymore.

Jan 21, 8:27pm Top

January DNFs #2 - 4 the rest of my Spider Robinson collection - Very Bad Deaths, Callahan's Legacy and Callahan's Key

Didn't get through more than a chapter of each, clearly the writing does not work for me at this time and with so much else going on, I need to want to read the book in front of me more than I did any of these. Moving along and trying to shed the guilt by finding some good stuff on the shelves now - I'm sure I've got loads of good stuff there.

Edited: Jan 24, 11:39am Top

Happy Belated New Year and Happy 2019 Thread, Peace2! Sorry I'm late to post. Your thread was buried under a large pile. Happy Thingaversary, too.

Jan 27, 11:44am Top

>27 clamairy: Hey Clam and welcome. It's good to see you.

Jan 27, 11:48am Top

To make up for the DNFs I've got 15 hardback books from ebay.... That is not quite the right proportion for my improving the size of Mount TBR! *sigh*

Edited: Jan 28, 3:14pm Top

January Book #7 Anything Goes by John Barrowman and Carole Barrowman

John Barrowman of Torchwood, Dr Who and various West End shows, this is the first of his memoirs, dealing with his childhood through his education and early career up to the Torchwood period. Overall, it was an interesting read - he grew up on both sides of the Atlantic, beginning life in Scotland before moving to the US and then returning for a semester from university to study Shakespeare and getting work and not finishing his studies. He does at times come across as very sure of himself and his talent (far more justifiably than some people I know) but I also think that sort of goes with the territory of working in entertainment and being a performer and I do like him in what I've seen of his work - I think he's a great singer, and I love Captain Jack!

Jan 27, 12:34pm Top

>30 Peace2: I enjoyed his performances too. He comes across well in other contexts as well. I do not think I would his biography, but then I do not read many biographies.

Jan 27, 12:34pm Top

January Books #8 - 10 (there may be somewhat of a theme to some of my reading!) Torchwood: The Collected Radio Dramas, Torchwood: 1.1 The Conspiracy and Torchwood 1.2: Fall To Earth

These were all audio dramatisations or plays, written as addition to the TV series of Torchwood. The first features the original cast performing seven different stories, the other two feature one story, one member of the original cast and other cast to fill other roles. Across the Radio Dramas, there are six authors (seven plays). Different characters come to the fore in different stories. The Radio drama are produced by the BBC but then the others are Big Finish productions.

I have to say that James Goss is a particular favourite in terms of the stories I've heard so far, I liked his House of the Dead from the Radio Dramas and Fall to Earth - he makes great use of Ianto's character in both of those stories.

I've moved on from my Blake's 7 revisit of the last couple of years and am now on a Torchwood kick... and enjoying it all the way. Much as with most of the Blake's 7 audio dramas, the quality of the production is good, the writers have a general handle on the characters as per the original series, but some of the writers seemed to get more under the skin and bring forth my vision of the characters (I guess that it depends which aspects of a TV character the individual reader/watcher associates with as to how true to the original these characters feel).

Anyway I'm enjoying it and over the course of the coming months no doubt there will be more mentions of Torchwood.

Jan 27, 12:55pm Top

>31 pgmcc: I don't read many current 'celebrity' biographies, the occasional musician, but otherwise I either tend towards historical figures like Genghis Khan or people who have lived in challenging times. Trying this one was a bit of an exception to the general rule and it came about in part because of the current Torchwood kick that I'm on. I'm not particularly thinking of reading his second memoir or of tackling any other current performer/celebrities - although looking at the TBR pile the nearest equivalent remaining biographies would be Praying to the Aliens by Gary Numan, a David Bowie biography, Stuart Pearce's Psycho, Billy Connolly's biography by his wife and one about Michael J Fox. I guess that means something else may come up before too long - I hadn't realised I'd got so many. Clearly LT is a good thing for helping me keep a better track of what I've got!

Feb 6, 3:40pm Top

January Book #11 The Penguin Lessons by Tom Mitchell

Another autobiography, although this one was of a young Englishman who went to teach in Argentina in the 1970s in a boarding school. While there he took a holiday in Uruguay, where shortly before he left he took a walk along the coast happening up a beach covered in dead penguins who'd been caught up in an oil slick. Just as he's about to leave, he notices a single penguin still alive and so he rescues the penguin and takes it back to the place he is staying to try and clean it up.

When he takes the newly cleaned penguin back to the sea, it won't leave him and so instead, he takes it back to Argentina with him and so this is the story of their time together back at an Argentinian boarding school and his efforts to find it a new home.

It's a heart warming and heart breaking tale. Glad I read it (and bought it as one of last year's Thingaversary books!).

Feb 6, 3:52pm Top

January Book #12 Captain America : Hydra Ascendant by Rick Remender

This follows on from Captain America: The Tomorrow Soldier but with a new Captain America. Sam Wilson, the Falcon, has taken up the Shield and continues to fight in Steve Rogers' place. It's the start of a new run. As with the preceding titles, it was okay, but I didn't completely love it.

Feb 6, 4:12pm Top

January Round Up

Total Number of Books Read : 12
Books Retained After Reading : 9

Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 0
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2019 : 3

Books Abandoned : 0
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 0

Non-Fiction Reads : 3
Fiction Reads : 9

Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 7
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 3

Books by Male Authors : 7
Books by Female Authors : 3
Books by Collaboration : 2

Books acquired : 28 (yeah, not even my Thingaversary can account for that kind of acquisition - and so not helping me reduce my TBR pile at all - I must be more disciplined in the coming months!)

Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 1,128 pages read this month

My original list of 50 books to read in 2019 is now 45 books long.

Mount TBR is now 850 books high.

End of January update on Walking to Mordor : 2,846.01 miles completed so far.

Feb 23, 4:00am Top

Ah so late in trying to catch up! Thank goodness I haven't got through too too many books this month

February Book #1 Black Butler Vol. 27 by Yana Toboso

This as the title suggests is the twenty seventh titles in the manga Black Butler series. A little more of the Earl of Phantomhive's past is revealed, the first hints of which were dropped in the previous book. Still think this is a book with great art and I'm enjoying it and will continue (shame it's such a long wait until the next book)

Feb 23, 4:08am Top

February Book #2 Tell No One by Harlan Coben

David Beck is working as a pediatrician in an inner city hospital. He's good at his job, his patients and their families appreciate the work he does. He's a doting uncle to his nephew and best friend of his sister's wife, but he's also mourning the loss of his wife eight years earlier when the two of them were attacked and he was left for dead at a family cabin, while she was kidnapped and eventually murdered. Her killer is in jail - a serial killer who'd left a string of women dead, tortured and branded as he made them suffer.

All of a sudden Beck gets a message that implies his wife may not be as dead as previously thought. What ensues is his attempt to unravel what really happened the night she was kidnapped and why.

It's a good solid Harlan Coben, this is a stand alone - not part of his Myron Bolitar series.

Feb 23, 4:23am Top

February Book #3 Another Life by Peter Anghelides

Back in January I listened to a Torchwood audiobook, but only on receipt had I realised that it was abridged - this is a prime example of how much better things are when they're not abridged - much better story, more fully fleshed out and more of it made sense - but basic plot and idea were the same.

Abridged audiobooks frustrate me (particularly when I've acquired them unwittingly) - particularly the 'very abridged'. I read once that an abridged book only has to contain 20-25% of the original and the original author doesn't have any control over what is taken out. I think that says it all really - I always feel like I've been cheated - so I'm glad in this case to have tracked down the original book (albeit in hardback form) and had the chance to read as the author intended.

Feb 25, 2:32am Top

February Book #4 Roadside Crosses by Jeffrey Deaver

Someone is planting crosses at the edge of a roadside, marking deaths - the only problem is the deaths haven't happened yet. What follows is a case in which online blogging plays a huge part. A teenager is involved in a car accident with three female school mates, the two girls in the back were killed. He was already an outcast, now his life is even harder. He finds himself the subject of continual online bullying when a local blogger who comments on local news brings the case back into the limelight after he is acquitted of manslaughter. While the blogger neither names him, nor accuses him of being entirely to blame - questioning both the state of the highway and the investigation by the police, the commenters to the blog make wilder and wilder accusations about him. All of a sudden those people leaving comments are the ones who begin to turn up dead.

Katherine Dance is investigating the case and as an expert in body language, she's convinced the boy is lying, but is he lying about the murders or about something else.

It's interesting, quite fast paced, brings in experts in their fields - the things the computer expert is able to piece together are quite frightening and would make one question the effect of social media and blogging on society - under the supposed guise of anonymity people will make wild accusations without any real proof, would they say those things in real life? And just how anonymous are they?

A second more personal to the detective in charge plot line is also introduced - I'm not sure I really saw the need for this as anything more than a distraction from some of the weaknesses of the first - although there is a twist at the end in the whys and wherefores of the original plot line, some of it felt too far fetched to be credible.

Feb 25, 2:47am Top

February Book #5 Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell

The second in the Wallander series - this has been on my shelf since round about 2014, and I read the first part in 2015. Although the character of Wallandar is consistent, it's probably not essential to read in order - this makes the odd comment about the earlier book, but not enough to spoil the plot if I hadn't already read it, or enough that I would have felt out of my depth trying to read this.

Two dead bodies wash ashore in a life raft, but there is more at play than a simple boat sinking. These bodies were dead before they were put in the raft and evidence points to them not being Swedish.

Wallander is joined by a Latvia police detective who chain smokes and speaks little English (the method of communication as they don't have an alternative shared language). They return to the police station one morning to find that the life raft has been stolen - it doesn't look good for the Swedish police and what have they missed?

As the plot thickens, Wallander travels to Latvia and finds a whole different way of working. The crimes he is used to dealing with and the political maneuverings are unprecedented. He has no idea who he can trust and finds himself drawn deeper into a web of deceit.

Overall not a bad story, showing cultural differences in the countries and how crime 'works' as part of that. Russian influence in the Latvian system also plays a part in the background to the story. The book was first published in 1992, and in the author's note there is a comment on how the political situation in the area as he was writing and the book was first published was in a state of change - given I'm reading it almost 20 years later (wow!) the situation could be vastly different by now.

It was interesting and readable - not too much on the blood and gore front (some but it is crime fiction with murders). I do have some more Mankell's on the shelf but I'm not sure how eager to read them I am. Maybe it will end up being like the 4 years between the first part and this!

Feb 27, 6:41pm Top

February Book #6 Can You Keep a Secret? by Karen Perry

A group of schoolmates get together for one last reunion at the home of one of them shortly before the house is sold. The house has seen better days, but as they reminisce they have some fond and some far less fond memories of their teenage years.

The story is told by Lindsey. She was the outsider, the latecomer to the group in her teens. She'd only recently joined the school when she makes a close friend and gets invited to spend weekends and parties at the house. Somewhere along the way, the friends drift apart.

Told in jumps between past and present, the story slowly unfolds revealing the truth behind current and past events.

There is suspense, creepiness as the story unfolds, an uncomfortable feeling at observing the relationships shown. There is a twist but overall I didn't love it.

Feb 27, 6:49pm Top

DNF February #1 The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

Just couldn't really get into this book and as I have too many others to read, I've put it to go. It's not the first time I've felt this way about an Eva Ibbotson book (for some reason they just don't seem to work for me - although I've finished the previous ones).

It does sort of prompt me into thinking how do I tell the difference between 'not being in the mood for a particular book' and 'that book doesn't work for me' - after all if it's the first, another time things might work out between us. It's neither the first time the thought has occured to me, nor the first time where I've sat here trying to work out whether a book should go as part of the second group or whether I should hang on to it in case it's part of the first. Some books I know clearly, others less so - is this just a me problem?

Feb 27, 7:59pm Top

>43 Peace2: I struggle as well with trying to decide if my failure to enjoy a book is a question of mood or a question of the author's style. So, no, it's not just a problem for you. It might be one of those instances where if you try something three different times under three sets of circumstances and can't manage to become immersed, then remove it from your TBR shelf. Hand it back to the library or pass it on to someone else who seizes upon it with joy. Will there be regrets? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. A lack of connection is just inexplicable sometimes.

Feb 28, 4:49am Top

>38 Peace2: There is a tremendous French film based on Tell No One. I believe there is an English dubbed version. We watched it in French with English subtitles. In French it is "Ne Le Dis A Personne".

On the strength of the film I bought the Coben book but have not read it yet. The film is well worth digging up.

Feb 28, 1:00pm Top

>44 jillmwo: It's just strange that sometimes I can tell, and sometimes I'm none the wiser. I have done your suggestions of giving things three tries (The Life of Pi would be a case in point - and I should probably have stuck with my initial impression - not that it was a bad book, but that it was wrong for me, but as I'd be given multiple copies as gifts I felt there must be something more to it! I did finish it eventually last year).

Feb 28, 1:02pm Top

>45 pgmcc: I shall look out for it (I'd probably cope with the French version - particularly if I can get a copy with subtitles for the parts I get stuck on). Thank you for the suggestion.

Mar 2, 8:07am Top

February Book #7 Torchwood: Forgotten Lives and March Book #1 Torchwood: One Rule

More Torchwood audio dramatisations. The first features Gwen and Rhys and is set post Miracle Day. Gwen and Rhys are drawn into an investigation at an Old People's home, where they find an 'old' Jack. An alien species has been swopping the consciousness inside bodies, so that amongst others Jack finds himself in an old man's body, but there are also young people. If didn't particularly enjoy this story - there were a number of plot holes (supposedly Jack has the alien efforts confined to within a set distance, yet they've managed to draw people in from further away that have had no contact with the area would be one), I also really didn't like the 'character' of Jack or the narration of his character.

The second dramatisation centres around Yvonne Hartman, leader of London's Torchwood One before the Battle of Canary Wharf. On a visit to Cardiff, she finds herself drawn into a local alien problem effecting local politicians. There is a humour to this one, apart from references to Ianto (he never appears, but she speaks to him on the telephone) and to Jack (trapped and unaware of Yvonne's presence) and his good looks along with Tosh, none of the usual Torchwood characters appear. Of the two, this is by far my favourite.

And so ends February's reading and begins March's. Stats up next!

Mar 2, 8:19am Top

February Round Up

Total Number of Books Read : 7
Books Retained After Reading : 3

Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 1
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2019 : 1

Books Abandoned : 1 (+7 others given away that I no longer want to read)
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 1 (no current intention to read any more Jeffrey Deaver but if some others turn up I may do so)

Non-Fiction Reads : 0
Fiction Reads : 7

Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 3
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 2

Books by Male Authors : 5
Books by Female Authors : 2
Books by Collaboration : 1

Books acquired : 8 (I really really have to stop acquiring at this rate or I'm going to undo my efforts to reduce Mt TBR)

Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 352 pages read this month (1,480 pages read so far)

My original list of 50 books to read in 2019 is still 45 books long.

Mount TBR is now 843 books high.

End of February update on Walking to Mordor : 2,908.84 miles completed so far.

Mar 6, 3:26pm Top

>43 Peace2: I too have difficulties in knowing if it's a matter of mood or style.

I have definitely given up on anything written in the anglophone world during the 19th century, plus/minus any random number of years. The style of the time grates on me; I don't care if Dracula is a great work of literature, or Tom Sawyer, or Dorian Gray, or Oliver Twist.
I enjoyed them well enough as a teen, or during my twenties, but now - just no. They all set out to chronicle or comment on the then-present, and they manage to be less relevant in the now-present than for example Shakespeare, despite being closer to us in time.
But as I did once enjoy those of them that I read 30-35 years ago it might all be a matter of mood, and I am unjust in my judgement.

On the other hand sometimes I suspect that I enjoy a book almost purely because I like the style, the voice: books that I devoured, but didn't feel like they really had something to tell once I had finished reading.

Mar 7, 10:47pm Top

>50 Busifer: I think some of that might also be either maturity or changing life experiences - some of the books I loved as a teen/early twenties on a more recent re-read are far less to my taste, whereas others I read at a similar time are if not loved, far easier to appreciate - I've found this with works like Wuthering Heights - loved it when I was young, not so impressed when I reread recently, Jane Austen's works were a hard slog when I was younger, whereas now I find them interesting and although still personally I didn't 'love' them, now on a re-read I see why they have lasted and can value them as more than a tedious text for study.

Some books from earlier in my life have retained their charm (or whatever drew me to them) others less so, and not just among the classics. I suppose I just wish it was easier to tell whether it's a passing thing or not, to make it easier to discard the ones I'm never going to like (regardless of what the hype about them says). It would make it so much easier to know when to pass a book to someone who will like it more than I and stop wasting my time. As things stand, my TBR could take me 16+ years to get through (based on the theory of reducing the pile by 50 of them a year) , so I could stand to bypass a few and get to the good ones!

Mar 7, 11:04pm Top

March Book #2 Educated by Tara Westover

This book was being hyped on the app I use to borrow audio books from the library and every time I logged in, it was not only front and centre but at some point I accidentally clicked on reserve and so when it came available it automatically downloaded to my device and that's how I ended up listening to it.

This is not an easy listen - it is a memoir of a young woman, growing up in an Mormon family virtually off the grid. This from the little I know of Mormon families, is not a typical family, but bears similarities to some people who live in survivalist type communities. Tara's parents have gradually fallen away from the local community alongside which they live, to the extent at which they neither register their younger children's births nor do they send them to school, claiming when anyone asks that they home-school them. They refuse to use conventional medicine, preferring homeopathic medicine even for severe, life threatening burns and serious injuries from car accidents.

It is a difficult read, because many of the family relationships are not healthy and trying to escape from that brings further conflict and hurt and the need to learn a whole new way of living life and judging relationships and people.

Mar 8, 2:19am Top

March Book #3 When The Wind Blows by James Patterson

I started reading this book about 5 years ago and at some point, it ended up unfinished in a pile but I found I could pick it up again, back track a couple of chapters to remind myself of what was happening and then carry on forward.

A woman, whose husband has recently died, runs a veterinary clinic treating pets and animals she finds in the locality. She decides to rent out some space and her first visitor arrives. Unknown to her, he is an undercover FBI agent working in his vacation time.

Events proceed and they discover a child with wings and win her trust to find out where she is from and try to protect her whilst uncovering what's really going on.

The story is written in the first person with the viewpoint changing, so although the chapters are only a couple of pages long, sometimes it takes a paragraph or two before it's clear who is speaking. The quality of the writing isn't great, I felt like it could have done with some sharpening of both character and plot and that sometimes 'oh and look they can do this' was convenient for getting them out of a bind. The genetic experimentation discovery idea was probably interesting when this book came out but I suspect that I've seen similar plots since if not in books then on TV.

Mar 8, 5:26pm Top

March Book #4 The Woods by Harlan Coben

Pretty sure I read this a few years ago, but this time it was an audio library loan. Paul Copeland, a prosecutor, fighting a case against two teenage boys accused of rape. As the accused are the sons of wealthy families, he finds their families willing to go to any end to defend their sons. At the same time, his own past comes back to haunt him, when events conspire to remind him of the events at a summer camp twenty years previously when his sister and three friends were killed.

It's fairly typical of Harlan Coben's work (as read so far), with betrayals and twists on the journey to some kind of resolution. It's a steady pace, keeps me interested (even as a re-read) and overall I'm glad I get a go - I remembered enough of the plot for things to be familiar without remembering it all and spoiling the listen.

Mar 8, 5:33pm Top

>51 Peace2: My TBR is not as voluminous, but I still don't expect to ever actually manage to read ALL of them. I mean, it's a given that I will go on acquiring books, and so actually paring it down is a Sisyphean task.

Mar 10, 11:31am Top

>55 Busifer: I'm trying to beat the incoming! The alternative is to reach avalanche proportions! I may never get to the bottom, but things can be more manageable (she says really optimistically!)

Mar 10, 12:01pm Top

March Book #5 The Miracle of Honey by Dr Penny Stanway

I got this book a number of years ago as part of a set - one about garlic, bicarbonate of soda, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and lemons. They give hints and tips for using the stated ingredient for health, food and in some cases for household cleaning tasks.

This book specifically deals with honey - how it is made by bees, the life of a hive, how different plants effect the honey. Where the honey we buy in shops comes from and how depending on the source 'pure honey' may not actually be pure at all, but contain sugar syrups. The structure of what is in honey - the different sugars, enzymes etc and from there goes on to explain some potential health benefits - it makes clear which benefits are anecdotal, which have some evidence (based on studies of compounds other than honey) and which are more scientifically documented. It makes suggestions of how to use honey in the treatment of various ailments and then gives a list of recipes in which honey can be used.

I found it interesting, although some of the long lists were beyond me or more than I personally needed (for instance a list of all the different plants that might flavour the honey - the vast majority of these I've never seen available here - and what the benefit of each type might be). Some of the potential health benefits were of interest, even where anecdotal and so I've decided to give one a try. Apparently a teaspoon of honey in the hour before going to bed aids sleep - so I've been trying it for 4 days so far and while I can't claim it's helping me sleep through the night, I'm definitely going out like a light as soon as I head to bed, which has to be a start!

Mar 12, 1:34pm Top

March Books #6 and #8 Torchwood: Uncanny Valley by David Llewellyn and Torchwood: More than this by Guy Adams

Another two of the Big Finish Torchwood audios that I've been listening to. The first of these features Jack meeting a man who had been involved a serious accident resulting in him being paralysed and yet he appeared to have fully recovered and returned to a high profile society life. The question is to what ends would you go to get your old life back and what constitutes 'getting that life back' and at what point have you lost more than it was worth losing. Interesting idea and enjoyable listening.

The second of these focuses on Gwen again. The story begins with Gwen trying to get planning permission to build a new Torchwood from the relevant council department. She doesn't seem to be getting very far, until she almost kidnaps a local councillor insisting that he accompany her for a while and so they set off on a day of excitement and adventure and for the councillor very unexpected alien hunting!

Mar 13, 3:48pm Top

March Book #7 My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A quick paced, fast read that I borrowed from the library in audio. The narrator is a respected nurse at a Lagos hospital and she tells the story as she is called by her sister who reveals she has just killed her boyfriend. Korede hates untidiness or uncleanliness so who better to help clear up the crime scene - and so the story evolves from there.

I found myself drawn into Korede's dilemma as she is torn between the need to protect her sister and frustration with her sister, both with her behaviour and with the way she draws other people to her in a way Korede never could.

I'm glad I picked this one up and found myself frustrated every time I had to turn the audio off in order to go back to work! One of the better ones that I've borrowed from the library so far this year and I'm pleased I borrowed it.

Mar 14, 7:12am Top

>59 Peace2: I've seen other good reviews for this and am starting to be tempted. Consider that a graze!

Mar 17, 6:23am Top

March Book #9 The Wall by John Lanchester

This would probably class as a near future dystopia. Sea levels have risen and land has flooded, beaches no longer exist. Britain is surrounded by a wall and people serve two years as defenders on the wall protecting the country from 'others' who might invade (a bit like national service). The story is told by one such defender - it begins with his first night on the wall, his feelings and experiences. Much of the book is quiet, it's about the tedium of patrol, the monotony of the life they are leading. It is then interspersed with the action around an attack, the aftermath and outcome of such.

It's not an exciting riproaring read - but I think that was kind of the point, it is about life going on day after day, regardless, the tedium of survival. Aspects of it felt believable - the current concerns about sea levels rising and what the outcome of that might be, the current world situations with regard to migrant populations and the 'protect our own' situations that occur.

I didn't overly enjoy it, but it did provoke some thoughts (which is a good thing). I guess I would sum it up as kind of interesting but not a keeper and I'm not sure whether I'd try anything else by the author - although the library had recommended a number of his books before I tried this one, some of them are non-fiction though.

Mar 17, 3:48pm Top

March Book #10 Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

A coming of age novel, recently made into a film (which I haven't seen). Had seen a lot of hype saying how amazing this literary work was. I actually found it somewhat pretentious. Elio, the narrator, recollects events from when he was a teenager fascinated by his parents' summer house guest Oliver. He overthinks and analyses everything giving everything and everyone an ulterior motive, until it became (for me) overwrought prose and angst. There are some tender moments and some of the confusion and conflicting emotions of teenage love rang true and pull on the emotional quality of the book, but overall for me this isn't as amazing as the hype I had heard in advance suggested.

Mar 17, 3:57pm Top

March Book #11 The Hollow People by Brian Keaney

This is the first of a trilogy, but I've no intention of continuing. A young adult book. The story begins on Tanager an island housing a asylum and the people who run it or are housed in it. Dante is an orphan, the child of a former inmate who he has been told committed suicide. Bea is the daughter of two of the doctors, soon to come of age and questioning the life and organisation of Tanager. Society is organised according to the tenets of Dr Sigmundus and once people are of age, they regularly take 'Ichor' because it helps keep their society peaceful.

Despite being from the opposite ends of their society, Bea and Dante get to know each other and begin to question what they've been told. The arrival of a new inmate, rumoured to be more dangerous than any other inmate, hurtles them into further conflict with authority.

Overall, I found this a slow tedious start, and by the time the action had begun, I didn't really care any more what happened and I just wanted to get to the end.

Mar 17, 4:01pm Top

DNF March #1 I am Death by Chris Carter

Urgh! Read about 7 chapters before coming to the conclusion it's really not for me - way too gritty and awful - an Ultra Violent Crime Unit - that should give an idea of how brutal some of it is. I don't need that in my reading life.

Mar 24, 10:20am Top

March Book #12 Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This one was a young adult book that I'd heard mentioned a few times that I borrowed in audio from the library. It works well in that format with two narrators, one male, one female.The story begins with Clay getting home to find a package has been delivered for him. Inside he finds a set of home recorded cassette tapes and a letter from a former classmate, Hannah, who recently committed suicide. The letter tells him he has to listen to the tapes and then pass them onto the next person on the list and that if he doesn't do so, there is a second set of the tapes that will be released publicly. What follows is Clay's reactions as he listens to the tapes which are Hannah's recounting of the events that led up to her suicide. The story examines how it often isn't one big thing that leads a person to commit suicide but can be a whole wealth of things that build to a cumulative whole. It prompts Clay to consider not just his own part in the big jigsaw in his immediate relations with Hannah, but also the things he has seen and ignored in other people's behaviours (not solely in relation to Hannah but also to other people).

This is an emotive subject. I've seen a number of comments criticising Hannah's actions of blaming or pushing guilt onto other people and of not talking when she could have or accepting help or of blowing some of the events out of proportion, but I think may be that's in part the point. Our actions have consequences, good and bad - some of the individuals in Hannah's life are bullies, they are nasty, but not all of them, there were people who would have helped if they'd realised how she felt, if they'd know what else she was dealing with. Hannah feels guilty at some of her own lack of action which compounds her situation.

I think overall it was an interesting read, that draws attention to some of the things to look for, particularly in teenagers, that might indicate that they are having a difficult time and may be in need of some support, and also at some of the behaviours that we ignore because certain people are 'just like that', but we shouldn't ignore them, because individually those behaviours might be at the lower end of the scale of 'abusive', but if they aren't challenged it's almost tacit acceptance that it's okay to speak down to someone or grab someone's wrist hard to force them to comply. If that's what we're seeing or hearing, what else is happening where one doesn't see or hear.

Actions have consequences - the things we do as well as the things we consciously choose not to do.

Mar 25, 7:49pm Top

You manage to sample such a wide assortment of titles! I may not read Thirteen Reasons Why to name an example, but reading your reactions makes me aware of my own prejudices in selecting content. Who knows? Maybe I'll muster up the courage.

Mar 26, 3:42pm Top

#65 This book was converted to a TV series a couple of years ago, by Netflix. A former colleague has told me it was very good, she was deeply moved by it.

Mar 31, 7:36am Top

>66 jillmwo: Part of the range is because of what's available (or not available as the case may be) when I'm borrowing audio books from the library - I don't have to pay per book, if I really don't like what I'm trying I can return it without finishing and if I'm using the app, it allows me to play them at slightly faster speed, so given that I'll listen to them when I'm walking or travelling alone, it's a good opportunity to push at my own boundaries. It also tends to mean I have to stick with things a bit because I've set the apps so that I can only download when I'm on the home wi-fi, so I have to give an hour plus before I can make a decision. If the library had a bigger collection of science fiction and fantasy, I'd probably read less of everything else, but I'm not a big fan of 'romance' (I don't mind from time to time, but not back to back), and I get fed up of crime fiction (too much both on my own shelf, as I have two people who really like that kind of thing and both pass books on to me once they've finished, and on the library's) and so if I want something to read while I walk, I have to branch out a little and try things I might not in other circumstances.

Although having said that, I've also been looking at my own personal collection of actual books and wondering where I got some of them from and why! Due to space issues, I'm having to give a number of them a go and make decisions about whether I really want to read them.

Mar 31, 7:37am Top

>67 Busifer: I hadn't heard of the Netflix series. I could imagine if they kept it close to the book, it would be quite a difficult thing to watch emotionally.

Mar 31, 7:45am Top

March Book #13 The Torchwood Archive

Another Torchwood audio. A visitor in the distant future happens across an archive of Torchwood information, with recordings of the characters we know or interfaces that have been given their personalities. Didn't take long to get through, in keeping with the other titles that I've read/listened to, but not going to be one of my favourites - but neither will it be one that I'd avoid.

March Book #14 The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The invisible library exists between multiple realities and Irene, one of the younger librarians, has been sent on a mission to recover a book from a reality where things do not go as planned. Travelling with her is a trainee, Kai, who is hiding secrets of his own.

I enjoyed this start to the series and will look into getting more (once I've got further down the TBR pile).

Mar 31, 7:57am Top

March Book #15 Want You Dead by Peter James

I was passed this by a friend and to be honest I struggled to finish it. It is, as the name probably suggests, a crime fiction. The story follows a young woman being stalked by her ex, who had concealed lots of the truths of his past (identities, sources of money, previous crimes... that kind of thing).

It also follows a policeman who is investigating a murder which eventually becomes linked with the young woman's situation. I didn't enjoy the plot, the characters were at times annoying, I found some of the events bizarre and beyond belief, as an example while the young woman is shopping in her local supermarket, a fire starts and in the confusion, the stalker manages to get close to her and put an engagement ring on her finger which she doesn't notice until hours later despite the fact that she had earlier described it as being a massive piece of bling! This is not just unlikely from the size of it or that she wouldn't have noticed him in the fire, but that he managed to get it on the right finger.

There was a secondary plot which involved the policeman which didn't seem to add anything to the story and had an unsatisfactory resolution which only added to what seemed to me to be the pointlessness of its inclusion. I won't be looking to read any more by this author, not my cup of tea, as they say.

Mar 31, 4:28pm Top

March Book #16 The Lives of Captain Jack

Listened to as an adjunct to the Torchwood audio books that I've been dabbling in this year - technically this one is listed as being a Doctor Who audio dramatisation (where Captain Jack made his first appearance before becoming key to Torchwood). For those not familiar with the character of Captain Jack, due to an event in Dr Who, he becomes immortal (he can die, but he revives again shortly after), this means that he has lead a number of lives and as a time traveller has moved forward and back in time as well. Four of his 'lives' are represented here . I quite enjoyed this set of stories and there is a slightly different feel to the Dr Who stories than the Torchwood, which often seem a little darker.

Mar 31, 4:40pm Top

March Book #17 Life Support by Tess Gerritsen

A medical crime drama that doesn't involve Rizzolli and Isles. Toby Harper is an emergency doctor by night and during the day looks after her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's. One night on shift an elderly man is brought in naked and confused, but in the midst of another emergency he escapes and is never seen again. Immediately her skills are brought into question and her guilt leads her to try and find out more about what happened to him. When she then deals with a second patient with similar symptoms from the same residential area who later dies, she begins to question just what is going on there. Her investigations lead her into conflict with the senior administration at her own hospital and the doctors at the residential compound. It turns out there are few lengths that some people won't go to when covering up their own crimes and few ethical and moral boundaries that some people won't ignore when they believe they have the 'right' because their research will be groundbreaking.

I found elements of this book difficult to follow - my medical knowledge is insufficient to deal with all the terminology and at times the plot and events seemed to be too unbelievable and the speed and advance action with which the 'bad guys' were able to act seemed far fetched. So overall not one of the better of the author's books in my opinion.

Apr 2, 1:40pm Top

Three more books to go before I finish reporting on March - hopefully I'll get to come back later this evening and write about the other two, but for the minute, here's March Book #18 Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

On my shelf for a couple of years now has been Linger which is the second in the series, so when this became available in audio from the library, it seemed a good point to tackle it and see whether I was ever going to get around to reading Linger.

Grace is a teenager in Mercy Falls and she loves the wolves that live nearby, one in particular 'her wolf' as she thinks of him. The story is told with two narrators, Grace and Sam. The pack of wolves are 'werewolves' of a sort - as the weather gets cold, they become wolves and when it warms into summer, they are human. Each human/wolf has a limited span of time during which they will change, before eventually they stop turning human again.

Grace and Sam meet, become friends and their lives intertwine. It's a young adult romance. Although not my usual fayre, I did mostly enjoy it. I liked the idea of the wolves in this, as it was different to things I've personally come across before (although in some respects a little more like the idea of a vampire - the right kind of bitten and you change rather than die) but the seasonal rather than lunar change.

Within it is the sense of pack and of belonging and what makes a family - is the upbringing that Grace has with her normal human family what one should aspire to or are Sam's experiences with the wolf pack better?

I'm curious to see where the series goes next, but not with a sense of urgency to tackle the next (although I have rummaged through to make sure I know where it is).

Apr 2, 4:36pm Top

March Book #19 The Fullness of Time by Kate Wilhelm

This was a short story in audio that I'd borrowed from the library. It was a consideration of what exactly time travel might be. In one particular family, a man makes his fortune by filing patents. His son continues to build their wealth in financial dealing. The family are seen as eccentrics, rumour has it they have a hereditary condition. Investigative journalists try to find out what exactly is going on in the family.

I didn't actually enjoy this all that much. I'd have preferred to find out more about the time travelling, and also felt somewhat like we didn't really get to know the most interesting characters.

Apr 2, 4:52pm Top

March Book #20 Creepers by David Morrell

I have no idea where this book came from originally or why/how I acquired it but it's been on my shelf since 2014, so I figured it was definitely time I gave it a go.

So the story centres around a group of 'creepers' or 'urban explorers'. This is an actual 'hobby' that involves small groups of people entering abandoned buildings overnight to explore - whilst it's an illegal activity (in most places), their aim is not vandalism or destruction but rather to explore and investigate a token of the past. In this story, the creepers are a university professor, three of his former students and a stranger who the professor has brought along with them and they are exploring the Paragon Hotel, a long abandoned once glitzy hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey, that is scheduled to be knocked down in a week or two.

The book follows what they find inside the hotel - which is more like a horror story than anything else - and the question is whether they will get out alive. Over the course of the story, events occur that just left me shaking my head (and thinking why would you continue exploring after that!) and the stranger behaves like some kind of superhero - is there nothing the man can't do or save people from? It turns out the stranger isn't the only one with a secret as other of their group reveal hidden unexpected motives. But really for me, I just grew increasingly frustrated by my feeling as I turned the pages of 'Oh heavens, what now!' as if things couldn't be worse - there wasn't any real sense of natural development, for me, between one event and the next but more a sense of the author having multiple scary or 'out there' ideas and when he was finished with one and started on the next - particularly in relation to some of the later introduced characters.

I finished this, but it won't be taking up any more space on my shelf going forward and I won't be looking for its sequel.

Wow! 20 books in March, that's quite a number (I wasn't expecting to get through that many with the current workload and the studying!)

Apr 2, 4:53pm Top

March Round Up

Total Number of Books Read : 20
Books Retained After Reading : 7

Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 7
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2019 : 7

Books Abandoned : 4 (+1 other given away that I no longer want to read – I hadn’t got very far with three of the four – not even a chapter in before I decided not to continue to I haven’t mentioned them as DNF)
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 3

Non-Fiction Reads : 2
Fiction Reads : 18

Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 7
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 8

Books by Male Authors : 11
Books by Female Authors : 6
Books by Collaboration : 3

Books acquired : 5 (Better than last month but still too many for the good of ‘Project Conquer Mount TBR)

Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 2,634 pages read this month (4,114 pages read so far)

My original list of 50 books to read in 2019 is still 42 books long.

Mount TBR is now 825 books high.

End of March update on Walking to Mordor : 2,980.43 miles completed so far.

Edited: Apr 3, 11:26am Top

>76 Peace2: - yes urbexing is a real hobby that people do. It's an offshoot from caving/mine exploring sometimes using similar techniques and gear to enter more difficult locations. Usually the only nasty surprises are dodgy floorboards or pigeons. Never quite seen the fascination myself as mostly what they find are more concrete rooms.

Apr 3, 2:47pm Top

>78 reading_fox: Had never heard of urbexing before, one more thing learned :-)

Apr 4, 2:51am Top

>78 reading_fox: I was aware to some degree of the hobby but hadn't heard it called either of those. A year or two ago while searching for some local information on the internet, I came across a website that showed some local places that people had been exploring (bunkers and tunnels left from the German occupation of the Island during WW2 all of which had been sealed for public safety) I hadn't realised it was quite so organised or widely practised globally, although I guess in some ways it makes sense, if people are exploring historically significant spots. The bunkers and tunnels here have always been a draw in particular to teenagers and I know I was always aware of the dangers (gases that build up in abandoned tunnels and sealed chambers, the potential for other things to have been sealed into them - there is a local story, that I've been told/warned about by different people in different situations, but I don't know whether it is urban myth or truth, about some sort of disease that hit local cows not long after the war. The affected cows were killed and sealed in a disused bunker and left, to stop the spread at a time when there was no other way to dispose of them, but now it's just seen as a potential for disaster if the bunker were ever unsealed). Over the years, there have been incidences of teenagers breaking into some of the slightly easier to access tunnels and hurting themselves in the dark and not being able to get back out through tunnel blockages or being made ill by things they've inhaled - none that I remember hearing about fatal thankfully.

Apr 26, 7:10pm Top

April Book #1 Torchwood: Border Princes by Dan Abnett

A strange novel. It seems to be set near the beginning of the TV series - much is made of Ianto being Hub-based. There is an extra member of the Torchwood team who never appeared on the show. Although as the story progressed, I began to think more positively of the plot, the way the characters spoke seemed very out of character for the show. This is a book that you needed to make it all the way to the end before it fully made sense.

Apr 26, 7:58pm Top

April Book #2 Growing up Amish by Ira Wagler

The autobiography of a young man who was born into an Amish family. It describes some of his early life, focusing to a certain extent on the aspects that would contrast with most people's experiences growing up outside the Amish faith. He describes some of the differences between different Amish communities in terms of the strictness of their interpretation of what it means to be Amish. Reaching his teens, he begins to rebel and the book continues with a number of attempts to both leave and return to the community as he searched to find the place he most belonged.

At the end of the book, I was left pondering how communities such as the Amish with a life so different to those of the communities around them will continue to survive long term. As their youth grow up, the contrasts between the life choices of remaining within the community or joining the outside societies is more extreme. All youth are faced with choices between the life their family experience will guide them to and striking out on their own, but in many cases even striking out, their family will be supportive. With such a huge contrast, youth like those from the Amish community are finding themselves further adrift from support and experience and cut off from their family. It also made me consider the contrast of a community that elects not to change and progress taking on new developments in as fast paced a world as we live in now. I can certainly look around at things that have changed since my childhood and see both positive and negative 'progress' and I can think 'wouldn't it have been great if the world hadn't gone in x direction' but I can't fully imagine growing up in a society that didn't really change. When I consider some of the negative aspects of the world we live in, I can admire the choices people make that have less harmful effects - like those of the amount of waste we produce, the reliance on packaged, prepared foods, rather than growing, making and eating our own foods, the reduced harmful impact on the environment and so on and also in the way we treat the people around us with respect, but I also think on a personal level, I'm looking for some way of having progress within increased awareness and concern for the world and people around us.

Apr 28, 9:33am Top

April Book #3 The Stone Key or Dreamtrails by Isobelle Carmody

I had this in two different versions - The Stone Key is the Australian audio version, Dreamtrails is a paperback version - the two match in terms of plot and outcome, start and end point of the story, but I couldn't listen and read as the two versions are dissimilar in terms of language and descriptions.

This is the fifth part of the Obernewtyn series and is a doorstop at 900+ pages. When I first began the series I loved it, but as it has gone, my enthusiasm is beginning to wane. I've found the pace of action seems to be slowing, I feel like there is more repetition. Part of me wants to see the series to the end, the other part is saying give up now. I do have the next book in audio, so I will at least start it, but there is one more to follow that.

Apr 28, 9:47am Top

April Books #4 River Deep and #6 Slip knot by Priscilla Masters

In the first book, Martha Gunn is a coroner in Shrewsbury. When the river floods and a body is found floating, the first step is to identify the body. Not long after a second body is found. Martha finds herself drawn into trying to find a connection between two very different murders and doing a little extra investigation undercover - not really part of her role.

The second book continues Martha's investigations, this time a quiet teenage boy is arrested after stabbing a classmate. Despite all the people saying that the attacker is strange, isolated and 'a psycho', Martha believes there is more to the situation than it appears. Not long after being taken into custody, the boy is found dead in his cell, but Martha believes it is not just a suicide. Determined to find the truth about both the initial attack and subsequent suicide, Martha investigates herself. She declares her findings in court, emphasising the need for schools to monitor bullying and act at the first sign that something may be wrong and not waiting until its too late.

The series is well read by Patricia Gallimore. I've continued with the series

May 4, 1:34pm Top

April Book #5 Torchwood Tales by various authors

This was a set of audio stories - different authors, different people reading each story and so on - 16 discs long, there were 10 stories. Overall I enjoyed it, although of the individual stories I preferred some to others, similarly with the people reading, some are more to my liking than others - this edition combines 10 stories that were also released individually. Overall the characterisation was reasonably close to the original screen portrayal although depending on the narrator some character voices sounded more or less convincing.

May 4, 1:42pm Top

April Book #7 A Bunch of Sweet Peas by Henry Donald

I'll be absolutely honest and say it's beyond me why the library app I was using recommended this. It's a non-fiction retelling of a Scottish parish minister who, along with his wife, entered a Daily Mail competition in 1911 to grow the best sweet peas, transport them to London and have them judged against other nationally grown sweet peas.

It was a short story and outlined some of the trials and tribulations that were faced along the journey. On a personal level, not really my cup of tea, but I finished it before returning it.

May 9, 9:54am Top

April Book #8 Torchwood: Slow Decay by Andy Lane

The Torchwood team find themselves faced with trying to track down something ferocious enough to attack and trying eating a Weevil. At the same time, Gwen finds her relationship with Rhys strained when he brings a friend from work home to stay as she's been having problems with her boyfriend, a female friend who has recently lost a lot of weight thanks to a new revolutionary diet pill.

I found it interesting that a similar subject of people trying miracle diet pills was also used in one of the episodes of Doctor Who - this was far darker and more violent.

Hopefully at some point I will actually catch up on recording my own reading - so little time at the moment and what little there is I'm trying to keep up with actual reading with the aim of reducing the TBR pile but between personal life, work and studying I seem to be tackling only the shorter books rather than tackling many of the tomes that are taking up the shelf space.

May 9, 10:06am Top

April Books #9 and #11 +Anima vol 1 and +Anima vol 2 by Natsumi Mukai

These are the start of a manga series that I read just a few years ago - I've decided to re-read them for a little light entertainment as I've enjoyed them but I'm planning on giving the series away once I complete it this time.

The story follows a group of children/young people who each have an animal power - one is part fish, another has crow wings, one a bear claw and so on. These are not always visible but can be brought to use when the character is under threat or by choice to protect or assist others. Each of the characters has a slightly different backstory as to how they came into their power and what their experiences have been, as well as a different personality - one is optimistic and friendly, while another is looking for things to go wrong and is suspicious of other people.

May 13, 6:03pm Top

April Book #10 Torchwood: The Victorian Age by A.K. Benedict

Another audio in the Torchwood series - this one features Captain Jack tracking down an alien with the help of Queen Victoria - good fun and wasn't Q.Vic a feisty one!

April Book #12 Frozen Charlotte by Priscilla Masters

This is the final installment of the Martha Gunn series mentioned previously. In this story, Martha finds herself presented with a case of a woman who walks into a hospital A&E department with a long-dead baby. She and the police need to unravel the origin of the baby and who was responsible for hiding its body, but the case is confused by other facts which come to light and lead to further suspicions about other people.

This was again well narrated by Patricia Gallimore.

May 13, 7:32pm Top

April DNFs
#1 The Dollhouse this just wasn't hitting the mood so I returned it to the library
#2 Written in Bone as above - I just wanted in the mood for another crime fiction
#3 Hawkmistress was struggling to read the type on the page, and decided to give it and its sequels as a miss as not only was it hard to read but I wasn't particularly getting into it.

May 13, 7:34pm Top

April Round Up

Total Number of Books Read : 12
Books Retained After Reading : 5

Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Oct 2016 : 3
Books on Shelf Prior to 1st Jan 2019 : 3

Books Abandoned : 3 (+7 others given away that I no longer want to read)
Series Finished as far as I intend reading : 1 (if the library adds further Priscilla Masters’ books in the Martha Gunn series, I may consider continuing, but otherwise the only other book they have by her is 9th in a different series.)

Non-Fiction Reads : 2
Fiction Reads : 10

Male Authors (first time to read that author this year): 4
Female Authors (first time to read that author this year): 3

Books by Male Authors : 4
Books by Female Authors : 7
Books by Collaboration : 19

Books acquired : 0

Goal to read 18000 pages from Mt. TBR by the end of the year : 912 pages read this month (5,026 pages read so far)

My original list of 50 books to read in 2019 is still 42 books long.

Mount TBR is now 812 books high.

End of April update on Walking to Mordor : 3,080, 72 miles completed so far.

May 14, 5:05am Top

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May 15, 6:37pm Top

May Book #1 Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

This was a library audio book loan. The story is told by a number of different characters, each of them telling what they know about the main character Oliver. On the face of it, Oliver was a successful author who seemingly out of the blue attacked his wife leaving her in a coma - and that is how the story begins. Childhood friends, passing acquaintances and adult friends and colleagues all reveal little bits and pieces of Oliver's story, some of them not realising until too late what they knew or had seen in the past that might have played a part in the tragic events leading to his wife's coma. At first there are people who develop the reader/listener's sympathies, retelling difficult parts of Oliver's life, but gradually there are hints of hidden depths, sinister elements below the surface and as the pieces gradually fall into place, the reader can pick out the point at which Alice's fate becomes inevitable.

The book was described to me as a psychological thriller - but I wouldn't call it a thriller - the story starts with the end result - you know what happens, you just don't know why yet. For me the story was more of a character study - everyone's looking at Oliver, describing the person they know and it's the reader's job initially to piece the bits together (although the author rounds it all up in the end anyway). It's about viewpoints and judging by what we see, what we think we know, face value over seeing the inner truth.

This lends itself well to the audio format, which a different reader for each character. I enjoyed this and would certainly look out for anything else by the author.

May 15, 9:11pm Top

I doff my cap to your reading prowess, Peace2.

>65 Peace2: & >67 Busifer: I might look for that Netflix movie.

May 16, 5:08pm Top

>94 clamairy: I'm not sure it's prowess - just a good way to pass the time. Don't ask me about anything that's on TV, you'll be lucky if I've even heard of it!

May 16, 5:30pm Top

May Book #2 Atlas of Improbable Places: a journey to the world's most unusual places by Travis Elborough

This was a Santathing book this last Christmas. It was a good pick by my Santa, fitting in with my love of travel and finding out about other places. Unfortunately, the book was not as good as it could have been. The book looks at unusual places from around the world - a former spy center in Berlin, Hearst Castle, underground caverns, a hill covered with crosses, an abandoned Disney style theme park in China, an island covered in dolls {very creepy} to mention just a few - all sorts of interesting places, but each one only had a couple of pages of text dedicated to it, a map that rarely gave any real indication of the actual place and its location, and for most places just a single black and white photo. I was most disappointed in the photography - not just the fact that it was black and white photography, but lots of the places would have warranted more than a single photo. When combined with the too brief outline of the place, that rarely delved far into the points that made it unusual and interesting.

I saw a post the other day on another site that was prompting a discussion about people posting photographs online and giving away where the beautiful places (or flora/fauna) are and so endangering them from an onslaught of people wanting to look or whether it was right to share because the vast majority of people will never get to see without shared photography. Seeing it at a time when I was reading this made me more aware of just how much this book fell short. I know that for me, I'll never get to see even half of the places that I would like to see in the world (and that I've been very lucky to see as much as I have so far) and that the only way I'll be able to experience so many places is through books, photographs and TV shows. For that reason, this book was disappointing. Still think Santa did a great job to come up with something that should have been perfect.

May 17, 2:11am Top

>96 Peace2: I’ve been on Atlas Obscura (www.atlasobscura.com) for a while, and they have a similar book which I’ve been hesitating about buying, partly because it’s such a chunk, but it might be better.

May 23, 2:27am Top

>97 haydninvienna: Atlas Obscura sounds interesting - I shall be checking that out! Thanks for the tip.

May 23, 2:38am Top

May Book #3 Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Not sure how I managed to avoid reading this one for so long. After upsetting the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself aged to an old woman, but also finds herself freed from her responsibilities and so she sets off on a journey to find both a solution to her problem and a new life to make her happy. Along the way, she settles on sorting out the problem of Howl, who she sees as a threat with both his moving castle and the way he attracts local women and ... well she's not sure what exactly he does with them, but she's convinced it isn't good.

The author uses familiar story ideas (I'm sure there's more than a passing nod to the Wizard of Oz - with a scarecrow, a dog, the Witch of the Waste - not that dissimilar to the Witch of the West - to name but a few) but she uses them in new ways and weaves quite a complicated story.

Although I finished it and thought the story interesting enough, for some reason I didn't love it as much as some of the other DWJ books that I've read in the past and I can't quite put a finger on the reason for that, perhaps it was just my mood.

May 23, 2:52am Top

May Book #5 Some of your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon

(I know it should be #4 next but I intend combining its comment with a couple of others so I'll skip it for now).

This was a library audio loan, a relatively short book but as I'm sure I had something else by the same author on the TBR pile, I thought it might make an interesting introduction. The book is a combination of a story told by a psychiatric patient in the third person but about himself and the exchanges between his doctor and an army superior.

A letter from 'George' is uncovered and leads to his confinement under psychiatric supervision. The story then flicks back and forth as the army and doctor discuss what they are discovering about George and George's own retelling of his life growing up and ultimately leading to his confinement, from isolated child, to disaffected youth to at first obedient soldier.

I found it somewhat of a struggle to get through, elements were slowly revealed but I'm not sure whether it was the somewhat dated nature of the book or the slow pace. I'm not sure that the narrator's voice really suited me either - some voices just don't work for me personally and I found myself either falling asleep or tuning it out at times and then having to rewind and try again (for such a short book, it took me about four or five attempts to get through it!).

The other book on the shelf is More than Human, at this point I have to hope I like it more.

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