archerygirl tries to tame Mount TBR in 2011

Talk75 Books Challenge for 2011

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archerygirl tries to tame Mount TBR in 2011

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Edited: Jan 2, 2011, 3:00pm

My top reads in 2010:

Swordspoint - Ellen Kushner
Old Man's War - John Scalzi
All the Windwracked Stars - Elizabeth Bear
Spirit - Gwyneth Jones
The City and the City - China Mieville
The Wizards of Caprona - Diana Wynne Jones
The White Road - Lynn Flewelling
84 Charring Cross Road - Helene Hanff
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins

Edited: Aug 22, 2011, 8:40am

And this one will be for the 2011 list. I won't be putting Touchstones in this post - those will be found in the thread with my thoughts on the books.

I'm aiming to tackle a reasonable number of the books on Mount TBR this year and hopefully get a fair few things ticked off the wishlist. I'm also planning to do the Austen-along (maybe this will be the year that I get through the whole of Mansfield Park?) and get a few other classics under my belt.

Everyone can point and laugh at me in December 2011 when Mount TBR is higher than ever and my wishlist has quadrupled.

1. A Suitable Vengeance - Elizabeth George
2. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
3. Daughter of Time - Joshephine Tey
4. Mistborn: The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson
5. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (January 2011)
6. The Sleeping Beauty - Mercedes Lackey
7. The Alchemyst - Michael Scott
8. The Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson
9. Septimus Heap Book One: Magyk - Angie Sage
10. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (Feburary 2011)
11. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
12. Cotillion - Georgette Heyer
13. Soulless - Gail Carriger
14. From Doon With Death - Ruth Rendell
15. A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
16. Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
17. Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper book 1 - Tamora Pierce
18. Changeless - Gail Carriger
19. To Say Nothing Of The Dog - Connie Willis
20. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (March 2011)
21. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
22. Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld
23. Blameless - Gail Carriger
24. Foundation: Intrigues - Mercedes Lackey
25. Mistborn: The Hero of Ages - Brandon Sanderson
26. For the Sake of Elena - Elizabeth George
27. The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation - Ian Mortimer
28. Declare - Tim Powers
29. Archer's Goon - Diana Wynne Jones
30. Logopolis - Christopher H. Bidmead
31. Dancing Shoes - Noel Streatfield
32. Rivers of London/Midnight Riot - Ben Aaronovitch
33. Sea Glass - Maria V. Snyder
34. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (April/May 2011)
35. Generosity - Richard Powers
36. The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
37. The Exploits of the Chalet School - Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
38. Rosemary and Rue - Seannan McGuire
39. Joey and Co. in the Tirol - Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
40. Jo Returns to the Chalet School - Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
41. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (June 2011)
42. Pheonix and Ashes - Mercedes Lackey
43. Firerose - Mercedes Lackey
44. Tortall and other lands - Tamora Pierce
45. Heartless - Gail Carriger
46. Red Seas Under Red Skies - Scott Lynch
47. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (July 2011)
48. Unnatural Issue - Mercedes Lackey
49. Bloodhound - Tamora Pierce
50. Tongues of Serpents - Naomi Novik
51. Maise Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear
52. The Last Dragonlord - Joanne Bertin
53. Birds of a Feather - Jacqueline Winspear
54. Dissolution - C J Sansom
55. The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

Dec 16, 2010, 10:50am

Welcome back!

Dec 16, 2010, 11:00am

Dropping by to plant you firmly on the radar... now roll on January!

Dec 16, 2010, 11:10am

>3 drneutron:: It's nice to be here! And from the beginning, no less! I dread to think what that's going to do to Mount TBR and the wishlist...

>4 elliepotten:: It's two weeks to go. I shouldn't be getting excited already!

Dec 16, 2010, 11:18am

Welcome back, Kathy! And why shouldn't you be getting excited about 2011 already? Goodness knows the rest of us are! Have you met Roni (member ronincats)? She's a fellow fantasy/SF person, and she's got *impeccable* taste, unlike ol' Ellie over there.

Dec 16, 2010, 11:23am

#6. I've already got Roni starred :-) Her list from 2010 was lethal to my wishlist. However, she doesn't have a gorgeous second hand bookshop like Ellie. Ellie has her plus points.

Plus, Ellie's list has been getting me interested in reading *other things*. The horrors of it.

Dec 16, 2010, 11:29am

Yeah, exactly the problem, Kathy...Ellie will read *anything* and not always *good* things, so one must practice safe reading around know, wrap your books up in cling film, be careful how much contact you have....

Dec 16, 2010, 11:30am


Dec 16, 2010, 3:35pm

I'm a YA, Fantasy reader too - a lot of your 2010 reads are on my must find and read list so will drop by frequently :)

Dec 16, 2010, 7:41pm

Marking my spot as we get ready to enter 2011!

Dec 17, 2010, 2:58am

Glad to see you joining us again for 2011, Kathy!

Dec 17, 2010, 9:35am

I also like fantasy and YA, so I'll be making an effort to check in here :)

Dec 17, 2010, 10:11am

#10. Welcome! I shall have to find your thread, sounds like we'll have plenty of books to share.

#11. Let the countdown commence for 2011!

#12. Thank you :-) I'm glad to be here.

#13. I seem to recall that some of your favourite reads this year were either on my wishlist or things that I'd also loved, so I'll be following your thread along :-)

Dec 17, 2010, 12:09pm


Dec 17, 2010, 12:31pm

Hello! *waves back*

Dec 31, 2010, 10:34am

You're in Nova Scotia?! God's country!!! I grew up there, and it was glorious.

I'm also a YA/fantasy reader, so consider your thread starred :)

Dec 31, 2010, 10:39am

I love living here: beautiful views, wonderful people and excellent sea food. It's like someone created a bit of the world tailored just for me. Whenever I get home-sick for England or fed up with snow (this winter is shockingly mild and rainy), I look out of my window and watch the ocean for a while. It's lovely.

I'm pretty sure that I've starred your thread - I shall have a check. I was chatting with a friend last night and we were commiserating over how lucky all the kids are these days with such amazing YA stuff on the shelves in such incredible quantities. We've decided that reading YA as adults is our way of making up for the comparative lack of YA when we were growing up!

Dec 31, 2010, 5:02pm

As a fellow adult lover of YA, I highly recommend Forever Young Adult as a fabulous book blog to check out.

Jan 1, 2011, 4:09pm

Happy New Year, Kathy! Here I am, now that it's January, to find out Richard said SUCH a nice thing about me in mid-December--such a nice young man! I'll be keeping tabs on your reading this year again, so see you around!

Jan 1, 2011, 4:54pm

Found you! Hope you're feeling better.

Jan 2, 2011, 3:02pm

I am still feeling icky, but I've got lamb stew in the slow cooker today and I've taken down the Christmas decorations and tree (no more fighting with the cats over the tree, yay!) so I've been productive.

I've also finished a book:

1. A Suitable Vengeance - Elizabeth George
This one was an oddity, the fourth book in the series and yet set a couple of years (I think) before the other books. Havers is barely there, because of the setting, and I missed the relationship between Lynley and Havers more than I expected. This is also in the days before the established relationships, so I missed Simon and Deborah together but was also fascinated because this is the story of how they became Simon and Deborah. It's also the book where we find out a lot of Lynley's family secrets, the things that shape the man we know in the other books, and we get to see the uglier side of Lynley's background. As a study of the backgrounds of all the characters and a good mystery (yes, there is a mystery here) it's a good book but I'll be glad to get back to the normal time period with the next one.

And I've put my highlight reads from 2010 at the top of the page. See, I can be productive!

Jan 2, 2011, 6:45pm

Hi Kathy! I'm a bit late but I'm here now! I need motivation to read fantasy again...I've really strayed from it these past years. Maybe this year? Not sure, my next 4 books are all history/science. D'oh.

Jan 2, 2011, 6:49pm

Well, as it's only January 2nd you're not *that* Late :-D

I've just started Mistborn, which has been raved about elsewhere, as my first fantasy of 2011. Only a few pages in and I'm hooked already.

Jan 2, 2011, 6:59pm

Hey Kathy I don't know if I ever actually posted on your thread last year but I was lurking and this year I'm endeavouring to comment more so here I am!
I got the first Mistborn book for Christmas and I'm hoping to read that at some point this year along with several other chunky fantasy books I have on my TBR list. If it's as good as everyone says it is I may have to start it alongside some shorter books :)

Jan 3, 2011, 4:50am

Sorry to hear you are still feeling icky, Kathy, but I am glad you have got your reading year off to a good start!

Jan 3, 2011, 4:28pm

#24 Ooh, I really enjoyed that series.

Jan 3, 2011, 7:41pm

Mistborn!!! Loved, loved, loved the series. And I'm quite thrilled about the short companion novel coming out late this year. I *adore* Sanderson's work... he hasn't let me down yet!

Jan 4, 2011, 12:16pm

#25. I can definitely say that I'm enjoying Mistborn hugely and you should probably start it soon :-) I'm also trying to get myself commenting on other peoples' threads more - it's insane, but I get horribly shy about butting into the conversation most of the time so I just lurk.

#26. Outlander is my other current read and that's proving to be a bit of a slog, so the Lynley and now Mistborn are proving to be good distractions. I'm determined to finished Outlander, though. I mean, it's got to end at some stage, right?

#27. It's been raved about on a number of threads, so I figured it had to be good :-)

#28. The only other Sanderson that I've read has been Elantris, which I loved because it was just that little bit unusual and had some fantastic characters. I'm planning to resume reading The Wheel of Time when he's finished it - I was quite pleased to find out who was finishing it. I got horridly frustrated with the series refusing to end so I stopped reading at around book 10 or 11 and vowed to wait until Robert Jordan finished and read the last few in one big go. On the one hand, that kind of back-fired, but on the other hand at least we know Sanderson has been contracted to write "The End" at some stage.

Jan 4, 2011, 12:47pm

Yes, that Elizabeth George is one of two "outliers" in the series; the other being a much later book that I won't tell you anything about due to spoilers!

I've got friends living in Halifax -- one of them paid his way through 2 years of grad school in the US by painting houses in NS in the summers. The salt air and damp strips the paint off all that lovely woodwork!

Jan 4, 2011, 1:45pm

I have PVC siding on my house :-) Not quite as romantic as painted boards, but way less work!

I live on the ocean so I know all about salt air and damp. Got to re-treat the deck this summer because the staining gets worn so quickly in the air here. Ugh, that's not going to be fun :-(

I figured that this one was an outlier. I found it confusing at first because I hadn't read the blurb to have some idea of what was going on and that probably didn't help my enjoyment of it! I'm definitely looking forward to a 'normal' Lynley book when I next need a good mystery.

Jan 4, 2011, 1:51pm

Hi! Also officially delurking to say *Yay Mistborn!!* Please note the exclamation marks :)

Jan 4, 2011, 1:59pm

Sounds like my 2011 reading is off to a good start with all the raving over Mistborn :-) Hello!

Jan 4, 2011, 2:30pm

I think we have similar taste so I'll be checking by your thread :)

Jan 5, 2011, 8:52am

Sorry to hear you are not enjoying Outlander, Kathy. I would say if you are finding it a slog, put it aside. Life is too short.

Jan 5, 2011, 5:11pm

I have reached the point where I can see the end (it's only 200 pages away!) and I've got to see it through or feel like a failure.

If only I'd realised it was a never-ending book before I reached the halfway point...

Jan 6, 2011, 6:08am

#36: I understand :)

Jan 6, 2011, 3:17pm

Sounds like I should definitely read Mistborn this year. I gave it to my brother-in-law last Christmas thinking it might be more his thing than mine - he reads more full-on fantasy, whereas most of my fantasy reading is YA. But after all these recommendations it sounds like I should borrow it back.

Edited: Jan 8, 2011, 5:00pm

I have finally finished Outlander! I haven't been so happy to finish a book since...Galileo's Dream last summer.


Why do I keep ending up with these slog books that I refuse to contemplate setting aside?

I shall have thoughts later. For now, I'm just doing a happy dance at having reached the end and I promise never to pick up another Diana Gabaldon again.

Now, what's next on my pile...

Jan 8, 2011, 5:41pm

#39: Why do I keep ending up with these slog books that I refuse to contemplate setting aside?

Obviously a glutton for punishment!

Jan 8, 2011, 5:57pm

It's the only explanation :-)

I've now started The Daughter of Time as my non-Kindle book and it's a delight. Phew!

Jan 8, 2011, 6:02pm

I have the same problem. I stubbornly stick with books I'm not enjoying for no good reason whatsoever. Last year I actually managed to put two books down...but even then I still stuck with many I didn't like. One in particular had me fuming and wanting to set fire to the author... oh dear, yes, I think that's a good indication one should stop reading the book!

Jan 8, 2011, 7:08pm

The last time I gave up on a book was several years ago. The Ill-Made Mute. The prose was so purple it fluoresced.

I gave up 100 pages in after the author swallowed a thesaurus to describe the contents of a kitchen pantry and still feel vaguely guilty about not persevering.

I keep on reading things, figuring that they've got to get better, because I've had a few books that didn't captivate me until several chapters in. Those have sometimes been books that I've loved to bits, so I worry that a book might turn out to be one of those ones in another few pages. Generally by the time I've realised that the book is never going to capture me, I've read far enough to feel determined that I should really finish it.

Jan 8, 2011, 8:36pm

Yes, exactly! There are a few great books I have read that have started off slow, but matured brilliantly and I was so happy I stuck with them! So if a book starts off bad, I just can't put it down...just in case.

Then I get to about halfway through the book and I realize it's not getting any better, but at that point I feel comitted and despite how bad it is, I want to finish it so I can review it properly...even though I'm hating every page of it.

Jan 9, 2011, 12:26am

I used to stubbornly stick to books - and I think it is easier to do when you are young, Stephen - but as you age, you realize how few books you have time left to read, so you only want to read the really good stuff!

Jan 9, 2011, 4:34pm

#44> That is exactly what I do and why! One day, I'm sure we'll both learn better...

#45> I'm hoping that I'll get to that stage earlier rather than later :-) I'm a wee bit older than Stephen and haven't grown out of it yet...

Jan 9, 2011, 6:45pm

I look forward to keeping up with your thread. I love your screen name too. :)

Off topic: My hubby is trying to get me to shoot but I'm not very good yet. Lots of practice needed. He did get me a bow and set the draw weight so I can pull it back easier. Now I am a little more inclined to shoot with him because it doesn't kill my arms as much (yes, my arms are weak right now but I'm trying to get them stronger). Do you compete or hunt or both? Just curious.

Jan 9, 2011, 11:59pm

#46: I did not grow out of it until maybe 5-7 years ago, Kathy. I hope you reach that stage sooner than I did!

Jan 10, 2011, 11:38am

#47> My coaches always said that the bow needed resistance, but if you couldn't pull fully more than two or three times then the draw weight was too much and it was better to use a lighter bow. They also encouraged me to increase the draw weight regularly as I strengthened :-)

I shot with a club in England doing target archery rather than hunting, but haven't shot since I moved to Canada due to the distances I'd need to travel to find a club. Hunting is definitely not my thing! I didn't compete (was doing it mainly for the fun an exercise), but a lot of the members of my old club compete regularly. We've even got an ex-world champion in the club. My dad shoots regularly and started entering a few local competitions this year. What about you? Competing, hunting, both?

I miss shooting :-(

#48> So do I! Maybe this will be the year when I'll finally learn the skill?

My physio told me off today for the teeny bit of snow shoveling I did over the weekend. I cleared the 3cm that I had on Saturday so that it wouldn't turn into a lethal sheet of ice, thank you. Yesterday's much bigger dumping was handled by my plough guy and he even came back to sort out the end of the drive after the city ploughs had been through. I still had to clear a little bit this morning, but it wasn't that much in the grand scheme of things.

I'm not sure where the physio thinks that I'll magically conjur up someone to do my shoveling for me. When there's a sufficient quantity, my plough guy comes out and is great. But when there's not much, but just enough to need clearing, I'm not quite sure how I'm supposed to avoid shoveling. I can't spend the entire winter indoors just because I can't shovel. Argh.

Jan 10, 2011, 3:07pm

OK, proper review for Outlander here. Dedicated Outlander fans should look away...

2. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
A friend of mine has been raving about the Outlander books ever since I met her, so I though that I should really give this one a go. I'll start by saying that it's not a bad book. It's not a literary masterpiece, but it is a step up from much of the bad writing that haunts certain sectors of the romance genre. Unfortunately, it's also the kind of book where I danced for joy when I finally got to the end and really wished that I hadn't stuck with for so long. The plot didn't really capture me, there was some odd historical inaccuracies that jarred me (rationing in England did not end with the war, it was still in force in the early 50s) considering the amount research done in other areas and I could not engage with the characters enough to care for them. I suspect that this is one where some people are going to love it and other people will be a bit 'meh' about it. I fall into the latter camp, unfortunately.

Jan 10, 2011, 3:25pm

Fluorescent prose??!! ROTFL!! Love it; may have to borrow the phrase.

Jan 10, 2011, 3:31pm

Dropped by and am definitely starring your thread: I think I might find some interesting reads round here :)

Jan 10, 2011, 4:52pm

#51> The Ill-Made Mute was the book that phrase was made for. I have no idea whether I heard it somewhere or whether I made it up, but some books...

Dear bad authors,

We know you have a thesaurus. You don't need to use every word in it to prove that. We'll trust you.

No love,
Your ex-readers

#52> Hello! Hopefully I'll be reading something a little more interesting than Outlander this year...

Jan 11, 2011, 1:52pm

Finished my third book for the year last night and it was much better than the previous two:

3. Daughter of Time - Joshephine Tey
This was a recommendation from somewhere on 75 books, either a personal thread or the mysteries thread, and I loved it. I finished it last night and can easily see myself re-reading it again because there's so much lovely historical research detail to go over again. The basic plot is that Inspector Grant has broken his leg and is on enforced bed-rest in hospital while it heals. A friend suggests that he tries his hand at researching a historical mystery and hands him a bunch of portrait re-prints to look at. Grant picks out Richard III, who has a face that does not fit with history's most notorious murderer, and sets out with the help of a British Museum researcher to work out whether he really did kill the Princes in the Tower. The book was published in 1951 so some of the ideas were familiar to me already (I'm a bit of a medieval history buff) but some of the evidence was new to me and the way that Tey wrote it kept the investigation fascinating throughout. She managed to breathe life into the historical figures despite their existence as academic studies just as vividly as she created her fictional characters. It's historical research presented in as a good old fashioned mystery and it works brilliantly. I'd recommend it to anyone and it's a strong contender for going onto my favourite books of 2011 list.

The only problem is that now I want to find a half-decent non-fiction book on Richard III. Any ideas, anyone?

Jan 11, 2011, 3:13pm

I persevered through all three books of The Ill-Made Mute trilogy despite the infuriating paragraph-long over-descriptive lists of food, furnishings etc etc because I liked some of the plot ideas and the reworking of fairy tales. But the ending of the 3rd book was very unsatisfying which made me really wish I hadn't bothered. Grrrr.

I enjoyed Outlander (known as Cross-Stitch in NZ) though it was very long. I read one, maybe two of the sequels but then lost interest.

Jan 11, 2011, 3:43pm

Paul Murray Kendall's biography of Richard III is supposed to be good. (I picked up a copy after reading Daughter of Time, but I have yet to read it.)

Jan 11, 2011, 5:21pm

#55> I made it to page 100 and gave up. There were some great ideas, but they were so buried on the over-descriptive stuff that I just couldn't get through it. I was really frustrated at the time, but knowing that the ending was unsatisfying makes me feel better :-)

I'm glad that I read Outlander, but it's not one that I need to revisit, I think.

#56> Ooh, thank you! Onto the wishlist it goes :-)

Jan 12, 2011, 8:22am


Agree totally about Outlander. I read it once, read three of the sequels and then got bored. I think I've still got Outlander, but I gave the others away, knowing I was never going to read them again.

Jan 12, 2011, 8:52am

I was a huge fan of Outlander in high school and I've reread that book a number of times, but even I will admit that the later books are mostly for the truly dedicated and none of them demand a re-read.

That said, I did end up in some really fantastic historical archives because of that book!

Jan 12, 2011, 11:26am

#58> It's a relief to know that I'm not the only one who was a bit 'meh' about it. I didn't think it was a bad book, just not really my thing.

#59> I had a feeling that if I was 'meh' about the first book then the rest wouldn't work for me! I can see how it would trigger some research interests though - I may need to dig out a decent text on that period to get an idea of what was really going on. Then again, I'm a bit of an amateur historian so this kind of fiction normally gets me more interested in what really happened than the fiction that I'm reading.

Jan 12, 2011, 11:35am

I appear to be tearing through the books like an insane woman right now, but I blame that on being in the middle of a good patch for quality of books and they keep luring me away from other things to read them:

4. Mistborn: The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson
I read Elantris a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it because Sanderson does such a good job of writing epic fantasy with a bit of a twist. When this trilogy was being discussed on the 75 books threads I decided to give it a try, despite the slightly unpreposessing title, and I'm very glad that I did. The first book is epic, filled with twists and turns, never goes quite where you expected and has both a resolution and some un-resolved things that left me itching for the next book. The characters, particularly Vin, Kelsier and Elend, are beautifully drawn and they are allowed to grow as the book progresses. Sanderson uses Allomancy as his main magic in the book, the ability to 'burn' metals for different abilities, and it's a wonderfully unique system of magic that really enhances the story. If you like epics and high fantasy and you want to read something just a little bit unusual then you should definitely check this one out.

Jan 12, 2011, 12:36pm

#61 "I appear to be tearing through the books like an insane woman right now"

LOL - I have visions of you literally tearing up your books!

I really enjoy Sanderson's fantasy novels. I don't think he is the best writer in the world but he is so good at coming up with fresh ideas and magic systems.

I think I will give Outlander a miss, I'm not really into romance novels anyway.

Jan 12, 2011, 1:11pm


You definitely need to get the rest of the Mistborn trilogy. I didn't get bored once reading them one after the other, and I raced through. The magical system stands up to questioning and investigation as well, something I always like.

I think it's always a good sign when, not only are you disappointed to have finished a book or a series, but the next book you pick up feels subpar as a result of the enjoyment of the previous ones and this happened with the book I went to read after the trilogy.

Edited: Jan 12, 2011, 1:14pm

I'm right there with you on Sanderson - not best ever writer but he is good and his creativity makes him stand out.

Outlander is, I think, only for romance aficionados. Best to skip if romance isn't your best thing.

I'm working from home this afternoon because a snow storm is about to descend on us. One of the cats is trying to make herself a nest in the printer paper. What on earth does she think that she is?

Edited: Jan 12, 2011, 3:03pm

> 60

I ended up with a Masters in large part because of that book. ;) Gabaldon is very meticulous with a lot of her research and most of it is very accurate. The bits that aren't make me wonder if she didn't just take some liberties on purpose (the clan tartans, for example, which were invented largely for the tourist trade long after the '45).

If you're interested in some well-written academic texts on the subject, I recommend Murray Pittock. My research on the area focused largely on the destruction of Highland culture that followed the '45 and the subsequent Victorian revival of it as a party fashion.

Titles of his that still stand out are The Invention of Scotland: Stuart Myth and the Scottish Identity, 1638 to the Present (wow, not on LT at all!), Jacobitism, and The Myth of the Jacobite Clans.

You might also like Nathaniel Harris' Heritage of Scotland: A Cultural History of Scotland and its People. John Prebble's Culloden is one of the most famous texts on the '45, but it's older popular history and not as rigorous academically as one might wish. As I imagine you can guess, the histories on the subject (especially older ones) are often very politically charged. The best book I've read on the absolute travesty that was the post-Culloden treatment of Highlands is W.A. Speck's The Butcher: The Duke of Cumberland and the Suppression of the 45.

And now I have probably overwhelmed you on the topic. ;) But I found Pittock especially quite readable as an undergraduate and I love that period of history in general - so much going on!

> 61 I have Mistborn quite high on my wishlist. Maybe I'll hit it up this spring!

Jan 12, 2011, 3:26pm

#65> Thank you! I'm adding a few of those to my list :-) It felt like the kind of thing where she probably had researched well for certain parts and then taken odd liberties in other places. I'm still not sure how she completely overlooked the fact that rationing did not end the day that Japan surrendered, which was what threw me out early in the book. It's frustrating because the bits where she seems to have taken liberties aren't bits that would have changed or impaired the story at all.

Hit up Mistborn soon - you won't regret it!

Jan 17, 2011, 1:45pm

No reviews to post right now, but I did finish something at the end of last week: Asimov's Science Fiction January 2011. I've decided to include these this year as books in my reading total because the collection of novellas, novellettes and short stories adds up to something 'book-length' and means that I don't think about 'lost' reading time each month.

Review will be coming shortly, but I need to cross-reference story titles and authors. It was a mixed bag and the stories that will stay with me, I suspect, are a couple of the short ones rather than the big feature novella.

I've taken out a subscription on my Kindle so now I have Feburay 2011 lined up to read :-)

In the meantime, my Kindle book is The Alchemyst by Michael Scott and I'm a few chapters away from finishing Mercedes' Lackey's The Sleeping Beauty as my paper (hard-back) book.

I realised this morning that I haven't started Sense and Sensibility for the Austen-athon yet so that will probably be my next paper book!

So far, only one paper book has entered the house this year: Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder. I feel very restrained.

I'm totally not counting Kindle books in my books in totals. After all, they don't take up shelf space!

Jan 17, 2011, 2:47pm

A belated chiming-in re Outlander - I'm one of those people who fall into the love-it camp, and after reading your review I'm thinking it might partially be because of my staggering ignorance of the period. I was impressed with the knowledgeable way she wrote things - you could tell she'd done serious research.
Also, Mistborn was one of my favourite books for last year. Have you read Sanderson's Alcatraz series? I'm looking for more opinions so I know where in the TBR pile to place the first volume.

Jan 17, 2011, 2:52pm

I haven't read that yet - the only other Sanderson that I've read is Elantris, which I loved.

My knowledge of the period of the 18C section of Outlander is limited, but I found that I didn't trust the research after her knowledge of 1945 post-War Britain was so wrong. I suspect Outlander is much easier to love if you don't know either period :-)

Jan 21, 2011, 9:47am

Three finished in the last week and I've given into temptation and started The Well of Ascension :-)

5. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (January 2011)
I've been intending to get into short stories more, as so much of the good work in sci-fi is done in that arena, so I bought myself a subscription to Asimov's for my Kindle. As the bulk of the magazine is novellas and short stories, it works brilliantly on that format. I'd never seen it on the shelves anywhere so this is my first real dig into this kind of fiction. Asimov's has an excellent reputation, regularly being the first publisher for Hugo award-winning stories, so I thought this was a good place to start. Having gone through that...
I think the strongest stories for me have been two short stories towards the end. Interloper by Ian McHugh is set in a future Australia and it was both weird and compelling, with its hints at some kind of invasion attempt and altered humans. Ashes on the Water by Gwendolyn Clare is set in a future India and explores the impact of future water shortages. It was beautifully written with some great imagery that will stay with me and a setting that is unusual in our Western-centric sci-fi world.
Dolly by Elizabeth Bear was a fun story. I'm a big fan of Bear's work already, so I knew that I'd like that and while the idea has been used a number of times in sci-fi, she gave it a nice little twist that made it her own. The feature novella, Killer Advice by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, was the other big stand-out piece although not as memorable as the the short stories. It was a good story and kept me interested all the way through. She had a nice touch with descriptions and her characters definitely not 2-D cliches as they could have been in this kind of story. Two Theives by Chris Beckett will also stay with me, I suspect, because the imagery was quite strong although I found myself a little dissatisfied with it overall. I'd say that there was more strong fiction that weak and I'm looking forward to February's edition (which is just out).

6. The Sleeping Beauty - Mercedes Lackey
I love Mercedes Lackey's 500 Kingdoms books. They're fun, inventive books that are complete brain candy but always keep me entertained. This one melds the stories of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and some of the Ring Cycle of sagas into a quirky, fun romp. The Princess knows more than most about The Tradition because her kingdom is blanketed with it and requires a Godmother all to itself to manage things so that The Tradition does not produce endless tragedy. The solutions that Rosa and Godmother Lily come up with to problems are terrific and the characters are all great, so it's a winner in my book if you're after a bit of light, fun fantasy.

7. The Alchemyst - Michael Scott
A young adult novel that I've been vaguely thinking about for a while but it got talked about last year during the 75 book challenge so I decided to grab it for the Kindle. There are other YA fantasies that are a bit smoother, but I confess to enjoying this a lot and I'll definitely be picking up the rest. One of the things that I really appreciated was the use of some of the less 'popular' ancient gods as the Elder Race creatures: Hekate, Bastet, Scathatch and the Witch of Endor are unlikely to be ones that kids will have encountered much before. The Morrigain may be a little more familiar to some, but I'd be surprised if many kids knew much about her. Scott picks out historical figures (Nicolas Flamel, Dr. John Dee) and weaves his backstory around their real lives quite skilfully. His modern teenagers are also well realised with some great potential in their stories. As with most series, the book ended in a way that resolved some things and left us on a good cliff-hanger so I'll be looking out for the next one soon.

Jan 21, 2011, 10:19am

I've been eyeing up The Alchemyst as it's sitting on my shelf, but I didn't realise it was part of a series. I'm so cautious of reading the beginnings of series so I'm glad I know now.

However, your review does make me definitely want to read it!

Jan 21, 2011, 10:32am

I read a few of the other 500 Kingdom books - they're definitely fun! I might have to pick up The Sleeping Beauty. The bit about the Godmother and the Tradition sounds like lots of fun!

Jan 21, 2011, 11:00am

#71> I was more impressed by The Alchemyst than I'd expected to be, but I really enjoyed it. I'd say go for it, because there are some great ideas in it and Scott does a good job with those ideas.

#72> It was a lot of fun! You should go for it. Lovely bit of fluffy brain candy to relax to :-)

Jan 27, 2011, 2:34am

I agree with you regarding The Alchemyst, Kathy. I have enjoyed a couple of the books in the series.

Jan 29, 2011, 10:21am

If I say that this book was finished sometime on Wednesday night, while I was being given multiple blood transfusions in the ER it may give you some idea of what the last week or so has been like. Ugh.

This week is going to be filled with hospital visits and tests and for the first time in my life, I've kind of lost my reading mojo. I'm not even sure what I want to read! I think it's the result of reading far too much Wednesday/Thursday will hooked up to monitors and IVs, so I should get over it soon.

Therefore, I think this will be the last one for January. I'm working on the first Septimus Heap book, but probably won't have it finished by the end of Monday and I'm only half way through Sense and Sensibility. Still, eight books sounds pretty good to start the year with :-)

8. The Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson
I think that I enjoyed this second part of the Mistborn trilogy just as much as the first, which is unusual for the middle book. The pacing was great and there was a sense of urgency and fear as things got darker and good outcomes became harder to see. As with the first book, a lot of the threads were tied up at the end and a new/old threat was introduced to give us a reason to hunt down the final book. Sanderson doesn't kill characters often, but he isn't afraid to do it and that adds to the general tension in the books. You know that not everyone will get out alive and he makes you really care about all the characters. I'd highly recommend this one.

Jan 30, 2011, 12:03am

#75: Wowk, Kathy! I am sorry to hear that your health woes are continuing. I hope that things get better for you soon.

Jan 30, 2011, 10:20pm

I hope the discomfort and inconvenience will result in good results and good news. You have my permission for read something totally frivolous.

Jan 31, 2011, 8:29am

#76> Now that the doctors are convinced something is wrong, they're working hard to figure things out and get me better so things should start improving a lot now :-)

#77> I bought Cotillion by Georgette Heyer as my something frivolous and I bought a nice meaty mystery to keep myself entertained if I'm not in a frivolous mood. I think I'm recovering my reading mojo after taking a reading break over the weekend :-)

Jan 31, 2011, 8:31am

#78: I should certainly hope so! Took the doctors long enough. Humph.

Jan 31, 2011, 8:36am

#79> They've been telling me that I have IBS for over five years, which turns out to be probably untrue :-( So a proper diagnosis and treatment would be good. I'm crossing my fingers that the not-IBS may also be the thing that keeps triggering inflammation in my spine. Two birds with one stone!

Jan 31, 2011, 10:29am

80: Poor thing, I hope they figure it out soon so you can get your reading mojo back! Hope you feel better!

Jan 31, 2011, 2:14pm

#80: Two birds with one stone sounds like a good thing to me! I certainly hope that is the case, Kathy.

Jan 31, 2011, 2:59pm

I certainly hope that they get it right this time and get you to feeling BETTER! And Cotillion should be perfect! My favorite Heyer!

Feb 2, 2011, 12:58am

Hi There

I'm compiling a list of birthdays of our group members. If you haven't done so already, would you mind stopping by this thread and posting yours.


Feb 7, 2011, 11:02am

Well, the doctors have figured me out: colitis, auto-immune, I'll have more details on what type (crohn's or whatever) later week so I'll be able to start planning out what will happen and learn more about my treatment. So far, the meds seem to be starting to work and today is the first day that I can honestly say that I'm starting to feel better and have a bit more energy. Phew!

Despite the unexpected downtime over the last couple of weeks, I've only managed to finish one book and it was a bit of a slog. Hopefully my next one will be a bit more successful :-)

9. Septimus Heap Book One: Magyk - Angie Sage
This one went onto my list after some positive reviews in places because it sounded like an intriguing, fun read. Then it was briefly a free promotion for the Kindle, so I grabbed it (who wouldn't?) on the spot. I think this could work for an undemanding 6-7 year old, but doesn't work as well for the child's parent. There is plenty of action, derring-do and mystery but it felt like everything including the kitchen sink had been thrown at this book. The excess of cliches and standard fantasy tropes meant that I'd guessed the entire plot by chapter 4 and there wasn't enough charm to keep me really engaged. My suspicion is that a smart child may also find it a bit unsatisfying as well, so it's definitely not one that I'd recommend for an advanced reader because there are other, more cleverly written, books out there that would provide the fun that this book intends while also giving the genuine thrills and surprises this book was missing.

Feb 7, 2011, 11:51am

#85: today is the first day that I can honestly say that I'm starting to feel better and have a bit more energy

Good for you, Kathy! I hope it keeps up!

Feb 7, 2011, 11:56am

#86> I'm so fed up with feeling ill so I really hope the improvement continues. Today I'm back at work, but I'm getting pretty tired so I may be working from home again tomorrow. It's very frustrating, although it's less frustrating now that I know what's wrong than it was when the doctors were telling me that I was fine, drink some peppermint tea to settle my tummy.

Peppermint tea is great for a bad tummy. Not so good for major internal bleeding, apparently.

Feb 7, 2011, 12:52pm

It's a good thing you have the option to work from home! That must be a relief.

Feb 7, 2011, 1:42pm

Yeah, I agree with mamzel - it is good that you can work from home.

Feb 7, 2011, 6:46pm

I count myself very lucky to be in a profession where working from home is possible with the right equipment and even luckier to work for a company that is so good about permitting it. The last few weeks would have been much harder without that!

My boss is being amazing about all this and that also makes a huge difference.

Feb 8, 2011, 2:38am

That is just terrific, Kathy! Having an understanding boss really can make a world of difference, can't it?

Feb 8, 2011, 8:07am

#91> Having had a pretty awful boss at the last place I worked, who would probably have wanted to know why I couldn't go in the day after I came out of hospital, I know just how valuable an understanding boss is. Mine, thankfully, is wonderful. I can't imagine what the last few weeks would have been like at my old place :-(

Feb 8, 2011, 8:09am

I had my last physio session yesterday, at least for a while, and the physio outdid himself in being late and taking forever etc. On the one hand, I was hideously late to work and am so happy that I won't be doing this again for a while.

On the other hand, I read Asimov's cover to cover. It was an epic physio session.

10. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (Feburary 2011)
The main novella, "The Choice" by Paul McAuley, is definitely the stand-out work for me in this one. The story is beautifully written, set in a future where the ice-caps have melted and the Earth is working itself out of the convulsions and upheaval that ever-more-sophisticated wars left. There are lots of delicious hints at what that world is like, but never so much details that the plot is slowed down. The central character, Lance, is sympathetic and intriguing and the writer manages to tell a good story that is both resolved and left me wanting to return to that world one day to explore more. The novellette, "Out of the Dream Closet" by David Ira Cleary, was much more disturbing and didn't have quite the same level of polish. It was filled with ideas and I was held by it throughout despite the uncomfortable subject matter. While it was not precisely enjoyable, I know that it's one that will stay with me for a long time. The short stories were a bit of a mixed bag, with the only one that really stood out being "Planet of the Sealies" by Jeff Carlson because it had quite the unusual kicker at the end.

Feb 10, 2011, 8:52am

Note to self: Georgette Heyer plus Jane Austen as my two main reads is way too much Regency all at once.

Whatever I read when I've finished these two, it will be as far from Regency romance as possible.

Feb 10, 2011, 9:16am

Hope your treatment is effective and things improve for you there.

I realised I was reading 4 out of 8 books set in the same time period last month. Fortunately it was a time I was interested in but my appreciation of one book probably suffered a bit from being in the shadow of The Invisible Bridge. I try to mix it up a bit more normally.

Feb 10, 2011, 10:55am

I think my appreciation for my first Georgette Heyer is suffering due to the Jane Austen - too similar and too many of those lovely old muddled (to my modern brain) sentences. I'd been feeling the fantasy overload from reading most of The Well of Ascension when I was in the ER, but I think this was the wrong direction.

Perhaps I need a good mystery to clear the system. And I could start Changeless as my paper book read. Just got to get the current two finished...

Treatment seems to be working really well and I'm feeling much better. Sadly, my back is still pretty painful (d'oh!) and I need to get someone onto looking at that properly now that the "oops nearly died" thing is being treated and we've established that physio does not help and anti-inflammatories are a huge no-no. Today I have a meeting with my GI specialist to discuss everything so I should get an idea of the extent of my bowel disease and the future plans for that, then next week I will meet with my new family doctor to get him moving on a referral for my back.

I'm quite looking forward to reaching a stage where I have an entire week with no medical professionals :-)

Feb 10, 2011, 11:30am

I bet you are!

Feb 12, 2011, 6:38pm

I'm so glad that the treatment is working and that there is the potential now to address all your health issues with good outcomes!

Which Heyer are you working on?

Feb 12, 2011, 7:13pm

I hope that your health stuff works out. I know how frustrating it can be to have to go to doctor after doctor. You will be in my thoughts. Keep us all posted on how you are doing.

Feb 13, 2011, 5:15pm

#98> I'm working on Cotillion, which I'm enjoying a lot but doesn't really make for a good brain-break alternative to Austen.

#99> Apparently it can often take a long time and more than one doctor to get colitis diagnosed, so I'm not unusual. It's frustrating, though!

Treatment continues to work and my GI Guy is very pleased with me. He's confident that I'm unlikely to ever need surgery (phew!) and we'll be starting the process of weaning me off the current drug, which can't be used long-term, and working out a maintenance drug next week.

Most importantly, I can eat what I want :-) He does not advocate crazy diets. Woo!

Feb 14, 2011, 4:36am

#100: Good news for you about the surgery! I am sure you must be relieved.

Feb 14, 2011, 5:32pm

100: Woo hoo for no crazy diets! Glad you are finally on the right road.

Feb 15, 2011, 9:02am

#101> It is a relief to learn that surgery should be unnecessary. My uncle lost most of his bowel to Crohn's, so it had been a pretty big fear for me.

#102> Thanks :-) It feels good to finally know what's going on and be able to do something about. Not having to follow crazy diets to deal with this makes me even happier.

I have actually finished another book! Thank goodness. I seem to be knitting and watching TV far more than reading right now, so finishing a book with the prospect of moving onto something that interests me more feels great.

11. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
This was the first book in the 75 Books group Austen-athon. It was a re-read for me, although it has been a long time since I last read it and my memory of the book had merged with the events in the various film versions rather more than I thought. Although I enjoyed it, I was surprised by how hard it seemed to be to work through. My memory was that this was one of Austen's lighter books (compared to Emma or Mansfield Park), but actually it is missing the light touch and wit that her later books incorporate so beautifully. This is definitely a first novel and it's good, but her abilities definitely increased with experience. The central characters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, are senstively drawn and you really feel for them and engage with them. Austen's dastardly characters (Lucy Steele, Fanny Dashwood and Willoughby) are suitably horrid and she populates the book with characters that you love or hate with passion. Her ability to create such memorable characters is one of Jane Austen's strengths and, though her writing is not quite as polished as it is in later books, you can easily see here why people love her work so much.

Now I just have to decide what I'm in the mood for next. Probably not another Regency romance...

Feb 15, 2011, 9:05am

#103: Nice review, Kathy!

Feb 16, 2011, 2:21pm

#104> Thank you!

Today I donated six vials of blood for testing. Six. Really, it's a good thing that they've got me on iron tablets - I think they're removing more to test than they put back when I had the transfusions!

Only six days until I got to England for a vacation. Nicest thing about my vacation: no blasted doctors!

I finally finished the Heyer, which got thoroughly absorbing in the final chapters. Now I'm pondering what to read next. It's so much that I want something fluffy or insanely light, more that I want something that will absorb me from the first pages. Most of my reads lately have taken work to really get into and I'd like something easy in that sense.

12. Cotillion - Georgette Heyer
I found this one a bit hard to really get into, possibly because it was combining with Jane Austen for an over-dose of Regency, but got really absorbed by the final chapters. It's my first Heyer Regency (I've read a few of her mysteries) so I was not sure quite what to expect. There is a lot of humour, slightly ridiculous situations and a heroine that I became really fond of by the end. what I probably enjoyed most, though, was that it was all being set up for a particular cliche ending and then in the final chapters Heyer took everything apart and put it all together in a resolution that I thoroughly loved. I've read my share of Mills and Boon and their ilk, not to mention loving Austen, so it was refreshing to get that unexpected ending.

Feb 16, 2011, 4:38pm

I distinctly remember being in a bookstore several years and running across some of Georgette Heyer's Regency novels and making a note to myself to try reading one. But I haven't yet. Must do that soon. Thanks for the reminder.

Edited: Feb 16, 2011, 4:42pm

I love the ending of Cotillion - I always like it when a novel plays with the concept of what a "hero" is, and that's one of the best examples.

Feb 17, 2011, 12:04am

Cotillion is one of my favorite Heyers. I'm glad you ended up enjoying it. What I love about Heyer is how she plays with the stock plots in her books. She's always varying a plot point here or there to see how it works out in the end.

Feb 17, 2011, 8:14am

#106> Do it! And try Cotillion as your first :-) It seems to have worked for me.

#107> I think that's the element that really appealed to me: the set-up for who the hero should be was so deceptive and Heyer played with it beautifully.

#108> I think that I'll be trying a few more Heyers if that's the kind of thing she usually does. I got so frustrated with Magyk because it took the stock plots and, er, followed them religiously so that I could predict the outcome by chapter four. I'd been assuming as I read Cotillion that I knew what was going to happen and how it would all end, because it's such a cliche plot, so it was a delightful and wonderful surprise to have that all turned upside down at the end.

I think that I may have broken the book rut. I started Soulless (paper format) and From Doon With Death (Kindle) last night and they're both grabbing me from the first page. Woo! I've got an appointment with my specialist this afternoon and I've now learned that his clinic runs super-late, so I should get a long way with the Rendell.

I also committed books for my trip next week:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
For the Sake of Elena by Elizabeth George
The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Terrier by Tamora Pierce

All on my Kindle so I'll have lots of choice and won't get stuck on a long flight with only one book to choose from that really doesn't interest me. That's been my mistake on the last few flights.

The bad thing about them all being on my Kindle is that the true magnitude of my book buying habit just doesn't hit me the way it does when I have a stack of new books two feet high. Oops.

Feb 17, 2011, 9:04am

Hey Hon!

I finally got my list posted! Woot!

K I see you read The Alchemyst, and someone at work recommended it to me, and I know that our tastes in books do run along the same line, so was it good and do you think I would like it? LOL.
Not like I need another book to read in my own Mount TBR, but hey....

Feb 17, 2011, 9:47am

I enjoyed The Alychemyst and I think you would, too. Sadly it's on my Kindle so it's not an easy one to lend, but if you can get your hands on it through the library then do so :-)

I have Mount TBR (oh god) and I have Wishlist From Hell (oh god). Never feel ashamed of your Mount TBR, I'm pretty sure it can't be as bad as mine!

Feb 17, 2011, 9:57am

Have a good trip! Leviathan is a fun read.

Feb 17, 2011, 2:58pm

I think my Mount TBR is over 100 books and that is just the top ones I want to read! LOL

Feb 18, 2011, 8:41am

Mount TBR, the books that are in the house that need to be read, is currently over 130 books. The Wishlist is worse :-)

Feb 22, 2011, 8:24am

I'm only taking my Kindle with me on my trip (wow, my bags are so light this time!) so I wanted to finish the paper book that I've been reading. Er, it's possible that I stayed up until midnight last night just to get the last few pages. Well, I couldn't leave Alexia right in the middle of things for ten days, could I?

13. Soulless - Gail Carriger
There was a lot of chatter about this one on the 75 books group and it sounded intriguing and fun. I needed something that would be easy to get into after a spate of books that I wasn't terribly interested by and this definitely fitted the bill. I was hooked after the first paragraph and devoured it in every spare moment. The central character, Alexia Tarabotti, is terrific: strong, determined, vivid and funny. She jumps off the page and pulls you into the story immediately. The entire book is populated with characters like that, bright, well-drawn characters that the reader cares about almost from the moment they appear on the page. The plot is just quirky enough to be unpredictable and keep the reader guessing without getting overly complicated and the world that Carriger creates, with steampunk, vampires and werewolves, is one that I want to return to and learn more about. The romance subplot is nicely handled, adding to the book rather than distracting, and I cannot find any realy flaws in it. The next two books in the series have been pushed to the top of my wishlist!

Feb 22, 2011, 9:09am

#115: I couldn't leave Alexia right in the middle of things for ten days, could I?

Definitely not!

Feb 22, 2011, 1:12pm

#116> :-D

I finished another one over my lunch-break. Oops? I guess it leaves the decks clear to start something new and compelling on the plane tonight...

My suitcase looks so empty. I suspect that this is the effect of not taking eight books with me. The Kindle has been charged, credited, and loaded and I've packed my charger just in case. Surely nothing can go wrong with this plan?

14. From Doon with Death - Ruth Rendell
The first Wexford book, so not as polished as later books but it's easy to see why this series is so popular. I didn't guess the end until Wexford was part-way through his summing up, which is always good, and Rendell has a good touch for plot. All the bit-players are fairly unpleasant, which I find one of Rendell's weaknesses, but Wexford and Burden are sympathetic and keep the reader engaged. It's nice to have a detective team where the older, experienced detective doesn't talk down to his side-kick and Rendell starts the process of introducing the characters while leaving plenty of gaps to fill in later books. Not a literary masterpiece, but a good, solid mystery that keeps the brain engaged.

Feb 22, 2011, 1:43pm

Just caught up on your thread, so sorry to hear about all the health problems you have been dealing with but glad to hear you have a diagnosis and that things are hopefully moving in the right direction now.

Soulless was one of my favourite reads from last year. The fourth book is out in July I think so you should just have time to catch up!

Your holiday books look like they include some really good reads too. Hope you have a fantastic trip - whereabouts in the UK are you going?

Feb 22, 2011, 1:49pm

#118> Things are definitely going in the right direction now. Phew! The most frustrating part is realising just how many of the assorted health issues that I've been dealing with were actually this one thing all along. It's been nearly six years, when I put it all together, and I feel like I'm getting to start over in a way. No more pain, no more sickness, no more exhaustion. So many things that I'll be able to do!

Fourth book in July? *marks calendar* :-D

A lot of my holiday books have been gathered from 75 books threads and I haven't been led wrong yet :-) I'm really excited about them.

I'm going to be staying just outside London, with my parents, with a few days in Coventry for a science fiction convention. It's going to be a fabulous trip :-)

Feb 26, 2011, 1:58pm

You're probably in Coventry by now but I hope you are enjoying yourself at the con.

Mar 3, 2011, 2:12pm

#120> I had a fabulous time at the con! I returned refreshed and reinvigorated for exploring the genre again, after being rather out of things for a while, so it was wonderful. I also returned with rather a list of things to see and read...

I've managed to get some reading in during my break, although I may have over-prepared with my decision to put six new things onto the Kindle. That hasn't stopped me adding To Say Nothing of the Dog just in case I really need to read the next Connie Willis book on the plane home. Doomsday Book is definitely on my best of 2011 reads list now, even though I'm not quite finished!

So, this is the last book for February (finished 25th) and I'm feeling good about my recent progress and reads:

15. A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
This is one where the cover intrigued me and I've seen discussion around it, so I decided to put it onto the Kindle for my trip to England. It was an easy book to get into, although not the easiest book to read because it went into some odd and slightly disturbing places and I couldn't quite decide whether I liked the central character or not. I found Gemma quite had to have sympathy for at times because her decisions were the kind that you knew would be bad, but I had to see how she ended up. It's set mainly in a Victorian girls' boarding school, the kind of place where experimenting with magic and the occult actually doesn't seem insane, and it had some interesting ideas that were quite well-executed. I probably will read the follow-ups, but maybe not yet. I think this is the kind of series that can only be read in small stages.

Mar 3, 2011, 4:17pm

I'm just about to start the third book in the trilogy and I still have issues liking Gemma at times. Hope you enjoy the other books in the series when you get to them. :)

Mar 4, 2011, 3:23pm

It's my last evening in England, so my vacation is almost over. I've even checked in for my flight tomorrow - the wonders of modern technology!

I didn't read as much as planned (too much to do!) but can safely say that I've enjoyed everything that I read. I finished this one last night and I'm already racing through Terrier - thank goodness for Kindles, I've got lots of things on there for my flight tomorrow. I will possibly finished the Peirce before I get to Canada at the rate I'm going, but that's no longer a problem!

Er, the reckoning of book purchased here can be posted when I get home. Oops. Good thing I was a long way off my luggage allowance on the flight over...

16. Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
Somehow, I had never heard of Connie Willis until I saw her books being discussed on LibraryThing. How on earth did that happen? This is her first Oxford Time-Travelers book and it is brilliant, so I good that I have already bought the next one. It's set in Oxford University in 2054, when time-travel has been mastered in a fashion and is used for historical research. I don't think it's giving much away to say that the story begins with the first trip to a Medieval period, which goes wrong in both unexpected and expected ways. The writing is engaging, intense and filled with tension and she transports you to both 2054 and the medieval world with equal vividness. Willis' characters are wonderfully drawn and the reader very quickly feels for them, which makes the events much more personal and affecting. I loved this book and it is already on my list of top 2011 reads.

Mar 6, 2011, 2:15pm

121> I think this is the kind of series that can only be read in small stages.

I have to agree with that! I liked the series quite a lot with a long span between each book (I read them as they were released, but without rereading before each new book), but when I tried to go back to the first book to figure out how things go to where they were in the third book, the whole series stopped making sense and felt weird.

(I read the third book, went back and read the first, then started on the second, but stopped because although the third book worked with only a fuzzy memory of the first two, when I read those while having everything fresh in my memory, the characterisations and plot and everything felt very inconsistent. The girls in the third book were almost unrecognizable from the same girls in the first book, and there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to why their characters changed the way they did, the change was so extreme.)

Mar 7, 2011, 9:53am

I'm having so much fun with my reading now that I've got out of the rut. It turns out that I didn't need brain candy - I needed engaging books that woke my brain up! I finished this one yesterday afternoon and loved it. Now I'm working on To Say Nothing of the Dog - it's quite different from Doomsday Book, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

17. Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper book 1 - Tamora Pierce
I have no idea how this one passed me by, because I've loved all of Pierce's Tortall books, but somehow it did so it became one of my holiday reads. I've heard some great things about it over the years and it lived up to my expectations completely. The journal style is quite different from Pierce's usual writing, but it works beautifully for this story and this character. We get such a clear picture of Beka through her writing style as well as her adventures and the secondary characters are all wondefully vivid. Pierce doesn't shy away from the rough side of a nation just starting to set up a police force and it's a fascinating side of early Tortall that she drops the reader into. The thought that has gone into how the Dogs would work and function within a society like this is wonderful and it really made the book come alive. Definitely recommended and I'll be grabbing the next one in the series very soon.

Mar 7, 2011, 9:54am

#124> The inconsistency is the major criticism that I've heard about this series. You're not the only one who has reported that it makes no sense when you go back and re-read! I suspect that this is a read once and forget sort of series because even the first book doesn't hold up to serious examination.

Mar 7, 2011, 10:20am

One last thing...

Over the weekend, the Arthur C. Clarke nominees were announced:

As working through this list last year introduced me to some very cool books, over the next couple of months I'll be trying to get through at least a selection from the list.

A couple of these are overlaps with the BSFA awards:

So those are ones that I'll definitely be hitting and I'll see how I do with the rest.

The Hugo nominations close soon, so the short-list for that will probably appear in April.

I foresee at least two Amazon raids in the future...

Mar 7, 2011, 5:36pm

Thanks for the links. I have Declare sitting here in the tbr pile, but haven't heard of any of the others besides the McDonald. Several of them look very intriguing!

Mar 7, 2011, 7:55pm

None of them are books that I know, which is one of the reasons that I want to tackle a few of them. I've at least heard of some of the authors, but have never read them before. I'm thinking that the Tim Powers one is a definite on my list as is Generosity because it sounds fascinating. Lightborn and the McDonald also look pretty good.

I love this time of year - the award nominees lists make for a great suggested reading list.

Mar 10, 2011, 7:44am

I had an Amazon delivery on Tuesday - Blameless and Changeless have arrived! Already started Changeless and I'm loving it :-)

My poor, over-stuffed bookcases hate me.

Having some good absorbing books is going to be a good thing as it looks like the colitis is doing bad things again and I have a suspicion that they'll be increasing my meds and maybe giving me another transfusion today. I see my specialist in a couple of hours. My Kindle is charged and I've got several good books on it so I'm all set for another night in the hospital if necessary. And if I do need to hit the hospital, I may also swing by the house to pick up Changeless as well...

While I was visiting England, my sister started what we thought was tonsilitis but turns out to be a bad dose of glandular fever (mono). This could be fun if I've picked it up in my immune suppresed state :-(

To cheer her up, I've sent her copies of The Uncommon Reader and Three Men in a Boat. Her reading tastes are quite different from mine, but those both sounded fun and right up her street. Hope I'm right!

Mar 10, 2011, 11:11am

Carriger's next book, Heartless, isn't due out until June. Patience is not one of my better virtues!

Mar 10, 2011, 7:32pm

Hey there, I've enjoyed reading all of your reviews in the last couple of days. Given all of the hoopla about Soulless and sequels, I'll have to add it to my list. I am a little dismayed with your response to Outlander, though, since a Thanksgiving guest left it for me and may ask me about it someday. I haven't gotten around to it yet, since I have a bunch of others ahead in the queue. Also, my sympathies with the ongoing health issues and congratulations on the diagnosis. I well know the feeling of being tired of being tired and what a slog every day can be. Hopefully, your energy levels will climb rapidly.

Mar 11, 2011, 8:04am

#131> This is the hard part about finding a terrific new author: waiting for for their next book when you've eaten all the others!

#132> Soulless is definitely worth putting onto your list! I've been thoroughly enjoying the first sequel so the standard remains high. As for Outlander, I know a lot of people who loved it so it's not that it's a bad book per se. It's definitely not my thing, though, and it's probably not worth slogging through unless historical romance is really your thing. I wonder whether there's a cheat sheet out there for your situation? ;-)

Yesterday didn't go well, but didn't result in a hospital admission which is good. I'm now starting the pre-screening to start a fairly powerful drug to suppress my immune system, which is going to be nasty but I can't stay on the drug that I'm currently using long-term. Hopefully I'll be feeling more myself soon :-)

Apparently my sister is thoroughly enjoying The Uncommon Reader and is finally starting to feel a bit more human, so that's good. She had her college books with her but nothing light and fun, so my care package was appreciated. Phew! I'm always nervour chosing books for others.

Mar 11, 2011, 11:23am

I hope this new drug works its wonders without too much trouble. Good to hear about your sister, too. Happy days!

Mar 14, 2011, 8:48am

After a stressful week, I decided to dedicated a large portion of my weekend to reading. In fact, I did very little other than reading on Saturday, with a cup of tea at my side and the rain streaming down the windows to make it all very pleasant and relaxing. Thus I have finished two books! Both were started last week, although I was barely 50 pages into Changless at 8am on Saturday and had it finished by 4pm :-) Then I finished the final 100 pages of the other on Sunday. It was a thoroughly relaxing way to spend a weekend and just what I needed.

18. Changeless - Gail Carriger
This is the follow-up to Soulless, which I loved to pieces, so I knew going in that I would love this one. I read most of it in one lovely long Saturday marathon, accompanied by tea and chocolate, which allowed me to be completely absorbed by everything. As I hoped, Carriger starts to explore the world she has created a bit more and we get a peak at her werewolf society and its structure. I could tell that she had been working hard to set things up so that Alexia would finally get her dirigible ride, but it fitted beautifully into the story and I loved all the little details. One of Carriger's strengths is her character writing: she creates characters who are bright, vivid and jump off the page and she never wastes them. Even Ivy, who is delightfully ridiculous, has her moments to shine and the new character, Madame Lefoux, is someone that I look forward to seeing agin. The main plot this time revolves around the sudden temporary humainization of the supernatural set and Alexia's investigations into the cause. It neatly dove-tails into several other plots which kept me completely absorbed. You will need to have the next book, Blameless, to hand because while many of the plots are nicely tied up, Carriger leaves us on something of a cliff-hanger and waiting to read on is not an option!

19. To Say Nothing Of The Dog - Connie Willis
The second in Willis' Oxford Time-Travel series, and it is a complete contrast from The Doomsday Book. Where the first was intense, dark and focused on the impact of plagues and pandemics, this one is a light-hearted Victorian farce that makes use of time-travel brilliantly. I can understand why some people would be jarred going straight from death and despair to boating on rivers if the two books were read immediately one after the other, so I took a couple of weeks' break between them and read some other things as a palate-cleanser, so to speak. It was the right call because I loved this book and I really appreciated the difference in tone from the first. This was still a book that I couldn't put down, bu for different reason: there's a large streak of farce, so you can't help needing to see just how much deeper Ned can dig himself at each turn! At the same time, Willis really takes advantage of time-travel and the rules and ideas she set up in the first book, so this is a clever book where the reader cannot guess what is happening until the very end. Willis does not forget to develop some wonderful characters and sense of the ridiculous is just right for this book, particularly when she deals with the Victorian era, and it's that combination of characters, clever plotting and perfect tone that make this book highly enjoyable and highly recommended.

Mar 14, 2011, 11:51am

A weekend of mostly reading and two good books back to back. I am very jealous. :)

Mar 14, 2011, 12:59pm

It was more like two books simultaneously - I tend to have one going on my Kindle and a paper book at the same time, and I finished them both :-)

Mar 14, 2011, 2:37pm

What a great reading weekend! I am so glad you savored To Say Nothing of the Dog--it is a favorite of mine. And I am anxiously awaiting the fourth book of Alexia's adventures later this spring.

Hope your medication is doing its work and stabilizing you.

Mar 14, 2011, 5:56pm

135: I, too, preferred To Say Nothing of the Dog to Doomsday Book, though Bellwether is by far my favorite. The first is definitely a romp. One of these days I might track down the inspiration for this novel and then reread it with greater appreciation thanks to the direct comparison. I'm glad you had a perfect Saturday. It sounds lovely.

Mar 21, 2011, 10:29am

Despite a busy week and weekend, I managed to get through two things last week and I'm halfway through another two. As I'm seeing the specialist today and his clinic runs at least an hour late every time, I expect that I'll get through rather a lot of Leviathan on my Kindle today...

20. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (March 2011)
The strength in this edition is way that several of the stories, which seem fairly innocent on the surface, linger with you because of the ideas that they consider. "Purple" by Robert Reed, the final novelette, is probably the most notable. It has a satisfying ending, but when you think about it too deeply the ideas are quite horrific. "I Was Nearly Your Mother" by Ian Creasey is also disturbing and compelling, with the ideas on hopping between alternate worlds seeming quite fun and innocent until you realise the damage it can do to peoples' psyches. The first short story, "Where", uses some stylistic writing choices that I found unreadable, unfortunately. I'm sure that the ideas are terrific, but I just couldn't get past the writing. "God in the Sky" by An Owemoyela is another one that sticks with me. It's left largely unresolved for good reason and although it's root is science-fiction, it's really a story about humanity and human nature. "Movement" by Nancy Fulda is the other stand-out short story and you have to read it to understand why, because explaining why it stands out would involve giving away the core of the story. Overall, this edition had more stand-outs than clunkers and I'll be going back to a few of the stories because I think they're ones that benefit from re-reading and re-considering after some deep thought.

21. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
After finding Sense and Sensibility harder to get through than I remembered, it's a relief to discover that P&P is every bit as fun and readable as I remember! Austen's prose is delightful, filled with wit and dry humour, and her dialogue is just perfect. S&S gives a hint at Austen's talent for character, but it's in P&P where she really succeeds and there isn't a dull, flat one here. Obviously, our heroines are Elizabeth and Jane Bennet and it's hard not to love them. Jane, who always sees the best in everyone, is sweet and kind without being insipid and Elizabeth is such a bright, vivid character that she jumps out of every page. Their partners are well-matched and our gradual understanding of Darcy is beautifully done. It's hard not to rave about every character and why they are terrific: even the 'villains' of the piece are perfectly suited to the story. The reader can't help loathing Mr. Collins on sight and Wyckham's behaviour, while not as terrible as Willoughby's, somehow makes us hate him far more than Willoughby. For myself, I think it is because the character he ruins is someone who had the potential to be redeemed until he entered his life and we know how things will be for them later. Overall, it's a terrific book filled with humour and great observations on human nature, with romances that we can cheer and rather less of the over-wrought angst that peppered Sense and Sensibility.

Mar 21, 2011, 12:08pm

So glad that you found Pride and Prejudice an enjoyable re-read. It's my favourite Austen so I'm always happy when other people enjoy it too. Hope you enjoy your current read.

Mar 22, 2011, 12:34pm

Persuasion is my favourite Austen, but P&P comes a very close second. It's pretty much a perfect book :-)

I'm thoroughly enjoying Leviathan. It's completely different from Austen and I'm loving the creativity it shows. I've also got Blameless on the go, which is different again and I'm having so much fun with that one.

There really is nothing better than a good book.

Mar 25, 2011, 9:24am

I'm loving having such a run of great books and I ended up staying up an extra half hour last night just to finish this one because the final chapters simply cannot be interrupted.

22. Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld
This one has be intriguing me for a while and several people have recommended it, so I decided to give it a go. I loved it. The ideas are wonderfully creative and the setting (dawn of WWI) is both familiar and strange due to the world that Westerfeld has created. Adding an ideological, Clankers vs. Darwinists, element to it promises to make this a fascinating series. As well as great world-building, westerfeld creates two central teen characters (and several secondary adult characters) who are interesting, rounded and thoroughly compelling. I really enjoyed the fact that although Deryn is posing as a boy to be able to enter the Aeronautical Service, she is very much a kick-ass girl in our heads. It's a trick that Tamora Pierce pulled off well in her Alanna books and it's not an easy one to do, so I'm impressed with how well Westerfeld does it. Deryn is a fantastic heroine and I can't wait to see more of her. Alek has is also a great character, showing growth and learning throughout and never becoming a spoiled brat even though his story could easily have led him there. I've grown to really care about the characters and the world Westerfeld has created so I am very much looking forward to the next book in the series. Highly recommended.

Mar 25, 2011, 12:19pm

143: Nice review, I liked that one too. Are you going to read the sequel? I need to track down a copy sometime soon.

Mar 25, 2011, 1:31pm

I definitely plan to read the sequel :-) I may load it up on the Kindle to have it there ready to go when I finish my current Kindle read, Hero of Ages. Although as I'm only at chapter 4 of that one, it may take a couple of days...

Mar 26, 2011, 3:26pm

you are reading some good stuff. I wish your reviews of the Asimov's you have read were posted with the respective issues. I liked your comments here. People have such different takes on the stories sometimes and I like to read other reactions.

keep up the good reading!

Mar 28, 2011, 8:36am

I've put the review of March's Asimov's onto the issue - thanks for the reminder! Everyone has such different takes on this kind of thing. I noticed that the other reviewer loved the one story that I couldn't finish so everyone tends to take away different things from these.

Edited: Mar 28, 2011, 8:44am

I settled down on Saturday with a cup of tea and a Wispa to finish this one. It was an exhausting week and I needed the treat:

23. Blameless - Gail Carriger
I'm definitely a huge fan of these books and the only bad thing about this book is that I now have to wait several months for the next one to be published! Alexia is as resourceful and practical as ever, despite being on the run from vampires across Europe, and the mystery this time is more personal for her while also affecting all our favourite characters. One of the things that I'm loving about these books is Carriger's secondary characters and the way that they're allowed to grown and deepen each time we see them. Ivy is just wonderful here, becoming more than her ridiculous hats, and Professor Lyall is given the chance to shine while Connal is temporarily out of action. Getting a glimpse of Carriger's Europe, where the supernatural set has not been incoroporated into society in the way it has in Britain, was fascinating and adds a new element to the books. As always, although Carriger ties up the threads of the book nicely by the final chapter she also leaves us needing to find out what happens to our favouruite characters next.

My currrent reads are the final Mistborn book (on my Kindle) and an Ian Mortimer biography of Edward III. Quite the contrasting pair of books!

Mar 28, 2011, 2:11pm

#147 - I was the other reviewer of the March Asimov's (lol). We both seemed to think that "Where" was the clunker of the issue. It kept me from rating the issue higher than I did. The last few years of Asimov's in my mind have not been their best years - but 2011 is looking like an improved one.

keep up the good reading.

Mar 28, 2011, 6:45pm

Sometimes, my brain does not fire on all cylinders...

I'm sure that I read a review of the March Asimov's that was incredibly positive and rather slavishly loving of "Where" and I couldn't figure out what in heck I was missing (except for the ability to actually finish reading it). I suspect it was a review somewhere else and I just though that I'd read your review, because I knew that I'd read a review of it somewhere.

Oh, my brain, it is not the smartest thing around right now.

I've only been reading since the January issue but so far they've all had at least a couple of things that I've really enjoyed and thankfully some of the longer things have been on that list each time. I thought this was the strongest issue so far out of the ones that I've read, despite having the biggest clunker I've yet read.

Mar 29, 2011, 7:34pm

I slipped and fell and two new books are now on my Kindle:

Declare by Tim Powers
Generosity by Richard Powers

These are for my "read some of the Arthur C. Clarke nominees" plan.

Er, I also slipped and fell in the kitchen this morning and a counter got in the way of my chin. The bruising is surprisingly non-painful while also being so incredibly awesome that it's practically fluorescing. Nope, don't feel at all stupid at all. Heh.

Mar 29, 2011, 8:15pm

You can fall and order books at the same time? That's impressive multi-tasking. ;) Seriously, hope your chin and your noggin are all right and that you enjoy your new books.

Mar 31, 2011, 2:51pm

#152> My chin is a beautiful rainbow that is proving to be quite the talking point wherever I go :-)

As it's March 31st, I thought that I'd do some tallying and stats for the first quarter of the year.

Books acquired in January - March 2011

Total: 28
Dead tree: 10
Kindle: 15
Magazine (Kindle): 3
(Second hand: 5)

Read in January - March 2011

Total: 23
Purchased pre-2011: 9
Purchased in 2011: 14
Borrowed: 0
Kindle: 15
Dead tree: 8

Thing that I have learned: I'm not too bad at reading what I buy for Kindle, but I am still very bad when it comes to dead tree books. Also, I have got to get better at reading books that I already own rather than buying new.

Mar 31, 2011, 2:56pm

That's interesting, I'm the opposite. I immediately read new dead-tree books but put off ebooks.

I'm not the opposite about needing to work on my TBR pile, though!

Apr 1, 2011, 4:58am

Just passing through, Kathy. . .

Apr 1, 2011, 1:14pm

Er, those stats may not be right. An Amazon box arrived. It contained a new Mercedes Lackey book. So that's 29 new books in Jan-March...

#154> I tend to want to have a couple of 'just in case' books on my Kindle, but as it's so easy to grab what I want, whenever I want, I don't feel the need to be more than a couple of books ahead of myself and ebooks get read pretty promptly. I tend to order dead tree books, but then I'm in the middle of something else when it arrives and I never get to it. Or I pick them up on a whim, despite not being able to read them immediately. Or thousands of other excuses.

I'm determined that tomorrow will be spend with a bowl of dip, some chips, a pot of tea and my new ML book, though.

#155> Hi Stasia *waves*

Edited: Apr 5, 2011, 10:23am

First book of April, read over the weekend while hibernating with tea and chocolate.

24. Foundation: Intrigues - Mercedes Lackey
This is the second in Lackey's Foundation series, set in Valdemar after the end of the Herald Mages but long before most of her other Valdemar books. It's not award-winning literature or deep and important ideas, but as always it's fun, compelling and filled with characters you either love or hate. Mags does descend into self-pity a little too often (a bad Lackey trait) but otherwise continues to be an interesting character with a fairly unique outlook on the world around him. It's a the middle part of a trilogy, so it continues some of the ideas and themes from the previous book while also setting up things for what I assume will be the big climax in the final book. It's nice to see the characters developing and growing and I'm becoming a bit of a Dallen fangirl because he's one of the most fun Companions that Lackey has given us. Overall, a solid entry in her Valdemar books and just right for a self-indulgent weekend of tea, books and chocolate.

Apr 5, 2011, 1:27pm

Sorry to hear about the ongoing health issues but love the books you've been reading!

Apr 5, 2011, 3:06pm

Hope that your chin is healing nicely. Is Intrigues out in paperback yet? That's what I've been waiting for.

Apr 6, 2011, 7:56am

#158> I seem to have been on a really good book roll lately :-)

#159> Looks like Intrigues is not due in paperback until October :-( I got it in hardcover to match the first one (I'm a completist!) and because I'm terribly impatient when it comes to Valdemar books :-)

Apr 6, 2011, 8:03am

And I finished another one, which I had briefly set aside for the Lackey, so I'm now a third of the way to 75 books. Wonder whether aiming for 100 is too much?

25. Mistborn: The Hero of Ages - Brandon Sanderson
The final book in Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy and I spent most of the book utterly unable to work out how he could possibly give us a good ending. After all, things just got more impossible and bleak with every chapter. How was he going to do it? The answer is that he did and the book manages to be compelling, hopeless, hopeful and satisfying all at once. The magic and the entire plot are so nicely filled with logic and rules that it makes sense when he finally puts it all together for you. Characters grow and learn and there's the constant tension of who will survive and who won't, because Sanderson regularly demonstrates that he's not sentimental about killing characters when the plot needs it. Overall, a thrilling set of books and that stands out well from the usual epic fantasies.

Apr 6, 2011, 8:23am

I'm glad to see you've enjoyed the Mistborn trilogy. I raced through them last year and thoroughly enjoyed them. They are definitely unusual in that the standard of writing and plot don't drop at all through all three books.

Apr 6, 2011, 9:07am

I have got to get to the Mistborn books one of these days!

Apr 6, 2011, 10:52am

Me, too.

Apr 6, 2011, 11:06am

Me three.

Apr 7, 2011, 11:43am

#162> I'm so used to trilogies where the middle book is, er, pretty darned awful that it was great to read something that stayed strong throughout.

#163-165> Get to it soon! You'll love it!

Apr 7, 2011, 8:49pm

I've had Mistborn on my wishlist for a while and your review is making me want to get to it soon.

I also read Warbreaker earlier this year which was excellent, and I'm currently listening to Elantris on audio. These are the first books I've read by Sanderson and I'm really impressed so far.

Apr 8, 2011, 10:11am

Elantris was the first Sanderson I read and Warbreaker is n my wishlist :-) You should definitely check out Mistborn soon if you're enjoying his other books!

Edited: Apr 10, 2011, 9:58am

I finished Elantris yesterday and thought it was awesome. I have moved Mistborn up in the queue and just started it. Thanks for your enthisiastic recommendation. I am excited to see what he does with a trilogy after reading two excellent stand-alone books by him.

Apr 12, 2011, 9:27am

#169> He does very well with a trilogy, I have to say. It's nice to have an author out there who can write stand-alone epic fantasy as well as huge serials :-)

I finished another books! Go me!

26. For the Sake of Elena - Elizabeth George
A solid entry in the Inspector Lynley series, taking in Cambridge, several of the on-going plot threads and a mystery that left me guessing until about the time that Lynley figured it out. The insights into Havers' life and the decisions she has to make about her mother were heart-breaking at times and it's nice to see the understanding and friendship that have built between Lynley and Havers used to good effect here. I'm glad that the Lady Helen plot is finally getting resolved and it was interesting to see her sister's life and the potential source of some of Helen's concerns. Overall, this one did feel more focused on the lives on Lynley and Havers than the mystery and there are better entries in the series, but it was a good read and a relief after the previous outlier book.

And now, I'm onto Declare while still also reading about Edward III. I'm promising myself Archer's Goon when I get through the Edward book :-)

Apr 19, 2011, 11:29am

I finally finished the Edward III book last night and remembered why I don't normally like biographies: there is always a point where you have to read about the decline and death of someone that you have become attached to. When it's someone who did some fairly amazing things, that's quite difficult!

27. The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation - Ian Mortimer
Edward III is one of those historical characters that I always hear did great things, but could never really recount any of them. Mortimer starts out with the premise that Edward III was regarded as a great king but has been largely dismissed by 18th and 19th century historians and that is why people no longer know much about him. He is trying to re-dress this, which I suspect is why he often seems to have a bit of hero worship going on when he deals with things that show Edward III in a particularly good light. Despite this bias, he is not completely blind to Edward's faults and admits that he made some bad choices at times. Mortimer also regularly references his own theories on the fate of Edward II, a subject that he first touched in his work on Roger Mortimer, and those are the moments that threw me off a little. Not because I don't believe him, but because I want to see what other historians think of that theory before I draw my own conclusions and it coloured some of my impressions of Mortimer's other research. Overall, Edward III comes across as a quite fascinating character who was the picture of the medieval warrior-king but was also a parliamentary reformer and law-maker. Perhaps the most interesting element, for me, is that he formalised the regular sitting of Parliament and the inclusion of the commons. It's not completely unfair to say that he began the modern Parliamentary system. The book reads well, providing a narrative that is neither dry nor overly flamboyant, and Mortimer gives plenty of insights from the records into Edward III's person as well as his historical achievements. To get a properly rounded feel for him, though, I think this needs to be supplemented by another work by a historian with a different view point.

Now I think that I'm back to fiction for a while.

Apr 26, 2011, 2:34pm

I had a rather pleasant Easter weekend, relaxing lots, baking yummy things and reading my way through a slightly embarrassing number of books. In my defence, the Tim Powers novel was almost finished on Thursday so it only took half an hour on Friday morning....

28. Declare - Tim Powers
The first book from my reading the Arthur C. Clarke nominations list, so I knew that it would be pretty good. In fact, it was excellent. It does help if you know a bit about the Cambridge spies, specifically Kim Philby, and what was going on during 1950s Europe, but Wikipedia supplied sufficient information to add a lot of depth to what I was reading in the novel. The central character, Andrew Hale, is one of the few entirely fictitious characters and he's a as layered and interesting as any of the 'real' characters. One of the great things about this novel was the way that Powers released information very gradually, not so slowly that you gave up, but at the right rate to keep you turning the pages compulsively. The first couple of chapters read as though this is just a spy novel, albeit a well-written one, with the supernatural element slowly creeping in and making sense of what is happening. In his afterword, Powers wrote that he didn't change any of the known details of Philby's life and movements and slotted in his story into the 'gaps'. That is exactly what he did and the result was thrilling and compelling.

29. Archer's Goon - Diana Wynne Jones
I watched the BBC adaptation of this when I was a child and remembered loving it. A few years ago, I managed to 'acquire' a digital copy of that adaptation that has to be a digitised file from the a recording of the broadcast. I will never understand why the BBC hasn't release an official copy! The book is out of print so I had to hunt down a second hand copy. I'm so glad that I did! I was half-expecting that the adaptation had not been faithful so I was delighted to find that, apart from missing a few details presumably for budget/timing reasons, what I watched was pretty much exactly the book. DWJ's writing is fantastic and her characters jump off the page. The Awful of the book is just as annoying as she is on-screen, but she's also somehow much more likeable. The idea behind the book is brilliant and, as always, I'd forgotten who the Goon really is so that was a fun discovery. I picked this up and couldn't stop reading it until I'd finished, that was how much I enjoyed it!

Edited: Apr 26, 2011, 2:36pm

The TV was barely touched for a lot of Easter, but there was this little thing that I had to do on Saturday...

Is it bad that I was more excited about new Doctor Who than the chocolate of Easter Sunday?

30. Logopolis - Christopher H. Bidmead
This is the novelisation of Tom Baker's last Doctor Who story, by the man who wrote the script. The thing that I've always enjoyed about the Target novelisations is how well they are done: they never read as a script, they read as a book complete descriptions and motivations. The book stays very close to the episode, but Bidmead adds some nice little details to give us a better 'picture' and it's nice to finally understand why the Doctor falls off that blasted platform. That's never really clear in the episode! This is the Doctor Who story that first introduced me to entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: I actually read the novelisation back when I was a teenager, a couple of years before finally seeing the video. I found out later that Bidmead was a scientist and liked to use his scripts as a chance to educate about scientific principles. He did that through a thrilling plot that I still love and this is still the first thing that I think about when people are explaining entropy on documentaries!

31. Dancing Shoes - Noel Streatfield
Another 'children need to earn money by going on stage' book from Streatfield, although this one is a little different in that neither child really wants to learn to dance. Rachel and her adopted sister Hilary's mother dies and their guardian becomes their uncle, who's wife runs a dance school/entertainment troupe. Rachel and her mother were always determined that Hilary should become a ballet dancer and a lot of the novel focuses on Rachel's attempts to keep Hilary away from the 'wrong' sort of dance that he aunt teaches, even though Hilary enjoys it far more. It's a fun, light read and I really felt for Rachel, even though she sounded like a character I'd find tiresome when I first read the book description. Streatfield never creates entirely nasty characters, she leaves them with a human streak, and she's equally good at not over-loading her good characters with sugar. It's not her absolute best, but it's one that I'm sure I'll be re-reading at some stage.

32. Rivers of London/Midnight Riot - Ben Aaronovitch
Several people recommended this to me as being rather Neverwhere-ish, although not quite in Gaiman's league. Broadly, I would agree. Aaronovitch makes terrific use of his locations, making Covent Garden almost into a character in its own right. The physical manifestations of the rivers of London are wonderful and I'm hoping that a few of them will be in his next book. Normally I'm not fond of first-person point of view, but Grant's voice was just right for this book and it's part of what kept me turning pages. The central big bad was wonderfully creepy and disturbing and I can't say any more than that because Aaronovitch did such a nice job with it that I wouldn't want to spoil anyone too early. The only thing that threw me out was the editors' occasional attempts to American-ize some of the language in my (American) edition, so there's a couple of references to eighth grade early in the book, although by the end they had obviously stopped because a 'year five' slipped through the net. I couldn't really understand why the American-ization was attempted in a book that where being a London-er is such a key element to the central concepts, but that's editors for you! It's the first in what looks to be a series (the next one is just out) and I'm definitely going to be picking up the rest. Although I may look to import from the UK....

Apr 28, 2011, 4:26am

Just caught up on your thread. Lots of great reading, a fair few of which I have read and enjoyed too, like Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, Connie Willis, Diana Wynne Jones & Gail Carriger. The Logopolis book sounds interesting. I haven't re-watched any classic Doctor Who since my childhood, but I'm a big fan of the new series.

May 1, 2011, 5:06pm

#172 Glad to hear Declare is good. I've only read The Anubis Gates by Powers but I enjoyed that enough to make me very interested in his other books. I think On Stranger Tides has also been rereleased in the UK (probably because the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film was apparently based on the story). I'm looking forward to reading both.

#173 And yay for the Doctor Who series. I've seen the first two episodes now and was delightfully creeped out

Also glad you enjoyed Rivers of London :-)

May 3, 2011, 9:15am

I ended up at home from work on Thursday with back problems, which was frustrating but did give me a chance to do a lot of reading. In fact, I read an entire book over the course of the day.

33. Sea Glass - Maria V. Snyder
This was absorbing enough to keep me glued for an entire day, reading cover to cover, so it's obviously a good one! Opal is a great central character and her magic, and its implications, is explored with skill in this book. Snyder gives us a bit of a tour of the world she has created, going back to familiar places and finding new places, while also building a story about the benefits and dangers of the glass magic. There are a few things left unresolved that I suspect are going to come to fruition in the final book but it's a satisfying ending at the same time. The only problem I had is that the next book isn't due out until later in the year!

That's the last book for April. I'm half-way through Generosity by Richard Powers and most of the way through the April/May edition of Asimov's, so May is starting well.

#174> The Logopolis book is very good - I'm always impressed by the quality of the Target novelisations, particularly when I compare them to novelisations of other series. Apparently the BBC is reissuing a few of them this year with new forewords, which I'm quite intrigued by. I love both new and old Who - I've been a fan ever since I can remember!

#175> Declare is very good and I've got The Anubis Gates on my list. If it's considered his best book, then I'm sure it will be a treat! Those first two Doctor Who episodes were thoroughly creepy. Moffat does such good monsters. They're often not that scary to look at (although the Silence are incredibly creepy to look at as well), but the ideas behind them are quite terrifying! Next week we get pirates as well (woo! pirates! Amy in a pirate hat!) so this is shaping up to be an excellent season :-)

May 8, 2011, 6:46am

I read Archer's Goon last month too, I must have missed it because I was too old and too young to read kids' books when it came out (15) and also I relied a lot on what happened to turn up in the library.

I also seem to have missed Dancing Shoes which was originally Wintle's Wonders, under either title, I found an Amazon marketplace copy of that recently.

May 8, 2011, 6:51am

Backing up a bit, I own Declare and now really must get it read. I just have to find where I put my copy!

May 19, 2011, 2:33pm

#178> Find it! You won't regret it, I really enjoyed Declare.

So far, I've only read three books this month. It's been a wee bit busy around here and Generosity was a bit hard going in places, so I was often abandoning it in favour of knitting and TV. Oops.

I'm now reading Seannan McGuire's first book, though, and racing through it. Helped by an hour in the waiting room at my GI specialists' clinic today. That man never runs to time...

34. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (April/May 2011)
Review to come.

35. Generosity - Richard Powers
This one came from the Arthur C. Clarke short list and I can see why it was nominated, although it is only tangentially a sci-fi novel. The best way that I can describe it is as an extended essay on the nature of happiness and its potential genetic origin, focused through a piece of fiction. It had a lot of interesting ideas and insights into whether personal happiness is something we are programmed for and used a character with a seemingly bottomless level of happiness and optimism to consider this through. It was hard not to like her because Powers cleverly didn't make her saccharine sweet, despite her constant cheerfulness, and gave her some interesting facets. The main thrust of the novel was exploring whether someone could be broken past the point where there genetic 'happiness' levels could no longer save them. The other characters in the book were interesting and I became invested in their journeys as well. The tone of the novel, though, was very clinical and distant so although I became invested in the characters' lives and outcomes and wanted to know what happened next, I feel an emotional connection to them after they left the page. It's a very clever novel, with a lot of terrific ideas, but I need a bit more humanity in my books to get really absorbed. I'd recommend it, but not as a book to curl up with and enjoy it. It's a book to think about and re-read to examine the ideas closely.

36. The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
All the emotional thrust that was missing in Generosity was here in spades. The second part of the Kingkiller Chronicles has been nominated all over the placed but I hadn't read the first part, despite reading positive reviews everywhere. I loved it and I'll be grabbing the next book very soon. Rothfuss creates an interesting world with a lot of depth that is hinted at but leaves us with an itch to know more. Kvothe, the central character, draws the reader into the story. It's structured as him telling his life-story to a Chronicler who wants to know the truth behind the legends. Every few chapters returns to the 'now' and we get a few more hints at what is happening in the world. I found myself racing through the book because I kept wanting to back to the 'other' story, whether I was in the past or the now. Rothfuss' characters are vivid and engaging. The story in this book is focused on young Kvothe and his early life, but there are hints at darker events in the wider world that I am really looking forward to seeing expanded in the next book. In fact, his story-telling and the rate he provides information makes the book quite addictive!

May 19, 2011, 8:56pm

I've read most of Tim Powers' works and have Declare sitting here at the top of my TBR pile--soon. Also love Archer's Goon. My library hasn't gotten Intrigues yet, but I put in a request. I'm waiting for the series to be done to start the Rothfuss books.

May 20, 2011, 12:50am

Like Roni, I am waiting for Rothfuss to finish the series before I start on it!

May 20, 2011, 7:48am

I think that I must have a masochistic tendency. I know that it's going to be torture waiting for the books, but I started the Rothfuss books anyway. Oh dear.

May 20, 2011, 3:25pm


You're definitely a masochist. I utterly regretted reading the first - it's such a good book but it's now utter torture to wait for the series to finish.

May 20, 2011, 11:35pm

I am definitely NOT a masochist. I am prepared to wait. It is not like I have nothing else to read in the meantime!

May 21, 2011, 3:49pm

It won't be the first time I've had to wait for (impatiently) for books. It's kind of thrilling to have that count-down to release day and then finally be able to find out what happens next.

You're right. I'm a masochist. I enjoy this kind of thing :-D

May 21, 2011, 4:17pm

Completely and utterly insane! I'm someone who absolutely can't bear suspense. I much prefer things spoiled, except for books. For instance, when watching any sports event, I definitely like to know the result first.

The Harry Potter years were fairly excruciating, and now if I think I'm going to love a book, I make sure I wait for the series to end. Sadly, I didn't realise how good The Name of the Wind was going to be.

May 22, 2011, 12:43am

#186: Sadly, I didn't realise how good The Name of the Wind was going to be.

This is where checking numerous threads on LT is helpful - I have seen a lot of good reviews of the book, so I knew of the calibre. I am content to wait now until the trilogy is completed and then swallow the books down whole in one gulp :)

May 22, 2011, 8:55am

Lesson learned - this is going to be a great series and I should wait until it's complete to read it. I have captured it on FictFact so I can follow it and someday down the road enjoy an apparently fantastic series!

May 22, 2011, 5:20pm

186> I hate being spoiled for things. Sporting events lose my interest if I know the result. The more I enjoy something, the less I want to see spoilers. When it comes to Doctor Who, I try to go into it only really knowing what's in the trailers and for the final couple of episodes in a season, I avoid those as well. It's a bit extreme but I love that moment of surprise when something completely unexpected happens.

The Harry Potter years were great for me. It was torture waiting for each book, but the excitement was wonderful and I used to deliberately keep the release weekend free so that I could start reading the moment Mr. Postman arrived with my parcel. I'm a freak, I know :-)

187> LT was the only reason that I had even heard of Patrick Rothfuss when I saw his name on the nomination lists. I just wish that I'd taken LT's recommendation earlier!

188> I think you're going to love it when you read it :-)

May 25, 2011, 9:18am

I got a bit nostalgic over the weekend and returned to an old favourite:

37. The Exploits of the Chalet School - Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
This is a re-read for me, although it's the first time that I've read the hardcover version. I found this in a local second hand bookshop last year and obviously had to buy it because how often do you find Chalet School books in Canada? It's been so long since I read the paperback that I can't remember whether anything significant was cut from it, but it did feel a bit more complete and substantial in the hardcover. This is the book that introduced Thekla, one of the rare characters who is completely awful but gives a good insight into some of the classes in Germany in the late 20s/early 30s. Brent-Dyer wrote this well before WWII, but reading it now I can see why Hitler rose to power the way he did. Thekla is Junker to the core, dismissive and often thoroughly unpleasant to people not of her social class or racial background (i.e. almost everyone in the Chalet School), and unlike most girls, her first term at the school does little to reform her. There are lots of the usual Chalet School hijinks, with pranks, an explosion in the chemistry lab and loving descriptions of the Alpine locations. An excellent entry in the series, although the next couple of books are where we really see the consequences of Thekla and her beliefs so they need to be read for this storyline to feel really complete.

Having read one, I can never stop at that so I've delved into my precious store of unread Chalet School book (I save them for special occasions as I'm now at the stage of hunting down rarities having read/collected so many) and started Joey and Co. in the Tirol yesterday.

May 25, 2011, 7:40pm

I never read any of the Chalet School books, even as a kid.

May 26, 2011, 7:58am

I first read a lot of them when I was a kid, but didn't start collecting them until a few years ago. The idea of a school in the Austrian Alps (and later Swiss Alps) was lovely and there's more depth in the books than you find in a lot of school stories. I think that's because EBD rarely focuses entirely on one girl: she tends to follow the exploits of a variety of characters and gives us a peek at what the teachers and other adults are thinking and doing as well.

I may be just slightly addicted to these books :-)

May 26, 2011, 8:11am

Only slightly addicted?!

May 26, 2011, 8:13am

I used to love the Chalet School books! There's one in which the girls decide to speak using Shakesperian English after being accused of using too much slang that I remember particularly fondly.

May 26, 2011, 9:26am

#193> Well, maybe more than slightly...

#194> I remember that one! I have a suspicion that it might have been a Joey inspired prank, but I can't remember which book it was. It was rather perfect, though, in reaction to the over abundance of slang fines (which they brought on themselves). I love reading what was considered slang and how that changes as the years go by in the books :-)

May 27, 2011, 4:52pm

Ooh Chalet school books. I devoured all the ones I could find as a child (although when they started speaking French or German it went completely over my head) but I had no idea the paperback editions I loved were edited. What sort of things did they edit out? I loved Joey and the Robin.

#195 I could never understand why words like 'smashing' were considered so bad - especially compared to some of the other words I heard as a child...

May 28, 2011, 5:30pm

The odds ones where I have both hardcover and paperback only had minor cuts, mainly to scenes that didn't contribute to the overall plot and were focused on the adults. Biddy O'Ryan's eventual marriage makes a lot more sense when you read the hardcover of Three Go to the Chalet School, where she meets her husband. She's a teacher supervising a trip and one of the girls falls into a river. Her husband helps with the rescue. They left the scene in, but shortened it considerably and cut out their subsequent coffee date and any references to him.

The first book, though, is on the list as having major cuts so I really want to get hold of that and find out what they cut. Some of the books only had minor cuts, a few escaped intact, but there are a few that were cut massively and those are the ones I'm itching to read.

#196 I suspect 'smashing' was considered bad because it was American? EBD seems to have hated Americanisms. It's fun reading a really early book and then one that was written twenty or thirty years later - the banned slang has usually changed significantly and the allowed slang was often banned in the early book!

My favourite from the early books was topping or tophole. You could never use the latter now - everyone would interpret it completely wrong!

May 31, 2011, 12:07pm

I have never heard of the Chalet School books, but they sound like something I would have loved when I was growing up. I may have to track one or two down to check them out.

Jun 2, 2011, 2:32pm

Three books finished over the last few days:

38. Rosemary and Rue - Seannan McGuire
I've seen a few people raving over this one so I thought I'd give it a try. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me a bit of the Dresden books, even though the tone and central character are quite different. Toby, the central character, has spent the last few years as a fish in a koi pond so there is an ongoing theme of thing she doesn't quite understand or missed out on during her pond years. As the pond was not voluntary, there is also some understandable fear of going back! She's a faerie changling, part human and raised initially in the human world before being taken back to a faery realm. The events since she left the faery world and the people she has formed relationships are a large part of the core of this book. Toby is initially asked to investigate an old friend's murder and finds herself caught up in other events. We're given a good glimpse of the faery kingdoms, which are based on the darker stories and legends rather than the pretty Disneyfied ones and that always gets a thumbs up from me. There is a lot of wry, dark humour in the book, some interesting characters that I became quite attached to, a solid plot and a sense of resolution. However, enough threads are left for me to want to read the next book and get a better look at the world that McGuire has set up.

39. Joey and Co. in the Tirol - Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
This is from my precious stack of unread hardback Chalet School book and it's a bit of a departure from many of them. The school is there in the background as a theme, but this is about a trip that Jack, Joey and a few of their children make to the Tiernsee during the summer holidays. It's supposed to be a rest for Joey, but as always she somehow finds a cause her children find an adventure. This time it is a family of three children whose father is a woolly-headed space-travel obsessed professor. Professor Richardson is quite happy to leave his children largely alone and unsupervised for days on end while he heads out to gaze at stars and plot a trip into space. Joey's triplets stumble on them (quite literally) and resolve to help them. There are the usual hi-jinks, escapades and odd moment of true drama and one or two elements are obviously a set-up for the next Chalet School book. Although I missed the school structure of most books, this was a fun story and it was interesting to return to the Tiernsee and see it through the younger children's' eyes.

40. Jo Returns to the Chalet School - Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
A re-read for me, probably my third of fourth time! For some reason, this is one of my favourite Chalet School books. It takes place through the first term after Jo leaves school, when she returns for what should have been a quick weekend visit and ends up staying at the school and doing a spot of teaching thanks to measles, whooping cough and staff illnesses. Although Joey has grown up in the pages of the Chalet School books, this is in many ways the first book where I really feel like she's turning into a grown-up. It's also the one that feels like the most obvious author insert. I am sure that EDB must have drawn on her own experience for Joey's disastrous first novel attempt! That first novel may also be one of the reasons that I love this book. There is also a lot more focus on the staff than we get in a regular Chalet School book and I always enjoy a glimpse at the staff room chatter. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable book although not one for first-time Chalet School readers.

Now I need to spend some time with the shelves, working out what to read next. Hmmm.

Jun 2, 2011, 8:27pm

I am going to get around to Rosemary and Rue on of these days. If my local library would acquire the book it sure would be helpful!

Jun 6, 2011, 8:59am

#200> I don't think you'll be disappointed when you get to it :-) Not the deepest piece of literature out there, but fun and very interesting.

I think that I'm starting to get out of the book rut/funk that I've been in for the last couple of weeks. Over the weekend I read the June Asimov's (while waiting at the dealership for some work on my car) and I'm currently re-reading a Mercedes Lackey and reading Red Seas Under Red Skies, which I'm enjoying a lot.

41. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (June 2011)
A really strong issue, I thought. The main novella, Kiss Me Twice, was the stand-out piece for me, being both an interesting crime story and a thoughtful exploration of some of the nuances of AIs. The novelette, The Cold Step Beyond, was also haunting and left me thinking long after I finished it. None of the short stories were duds (phew), although All the News That's Fit and Apocalypse Daily were the two that I really enjoyed. The first was a lovely piece about how a world-view can be formed when information is limited and the second was a fun piece about computer games and social interactivity. This was a much stronger edition than the April/May one and I thoroughly enjoyed every story in it.

Edited: Jun 27, 2011, 11:22am

Not one of my more productive months - these two were finished a couple of weeks ago and I'm a bit stalled on the current two reads. Hopefully I'll get one of them finished by the end of the month, though.

42. Phoenix and Ashes - Mercedes Lackey
I went on a bit of a comfort-reading kick and re-read a couple of favourite Mercedes Lackey books. This is one of the Elemental Masters series and it's a re-telling of the Cinderella story, set in England during World War I. It's creepy in places and Lackey writes a suitably evil step-mother, with a lovely "Cinderella" character (Ellie) who is strong, determined and resourceful and a hugely damaged hero who needs rescuing and healing just as much as Ellie. Not the deepest literature, but a lot of fun.

43. The Fire Rose - Mercedes Lackey
Another Elemental Masters book, this one based loosely around Beauty and the Beast. It is a little unusual for the series, being set in turn of the century America rather than England, and that influences the tone a little bit. This one doesn't feel as polished as some of the other Elemental Masters books, although the central heroine is well-drawn and as feisty as any of Lackey's heroines. I'm always intrigued by the fact that this one, although it has a happy ending, doesn't have the total cure that many of her books do and it rather suits the characters. Not one of my favourite Elemental Masters books, but good for a rainy afternoon with a mug of tea.

Jul 4, 2011, 11:21am

This is the last book for June and it's been a slow month - only 5 books! - but I've got a lovely stack of new things that I'm already really excited about so July should be more productive :-)

44. Tortall and other lands - Tamora Pierce
This is a collection of short stories by Pierce. There are a fair number of Tortall-based stories and a few stories with new settings: new worlds and a couple of modern-set stories as well. The Tortall stories include updates on familiar characters and a few based on new characters. Of those, Lost is the one that stands out most clearly because it gives a tiny bit of insight into an area of her world that has not been explored much before and has a delightful central character. The Dragon's Tale is the other stand-out story, giving us the chance to see the world from Kit's point of view for the first time. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse at how Kit sees things - she is quite an unusual character - and the story strong and compelling. Of the other stories, Huntress is the one that has stuck in my head. It has a slightly familiar theme, but Pierce puts her own spin on it and the ideas are just creepy enough to keep me thinking about them after the end. I find short story anthologies hard to read in one big sitting (which is why this one took so long) but this was great to dip in and out of and the mixture and order of stories has obviously been considered well. Any fans of Tamora Pierce will probably love this.

Jul 5, 2011, 6:30pm

Glad to hear you liked Tortall and Other Lands! I'm always a bit wary of short story collections (I never seem to find them quite as engrossing) but I feel compelled to read anything by Pierce so hearing a good review is nice.

Jul 7, 2011, 7:23am

I'm the same way with short story collections (never take them on a plane, they really aren't absorbing enough for that) but I did enjoy this one a lot. By far one of the better collections that I've read :-)

Jul 11, 2011, 10:42am

Missed the end of the month, but here is the second quarter review of my reading and purchasing (and shaming):

Books acquired in April - June 2011

Total: 12
Dead tree: 6
Kindle: 6
Magazine (Kindle): 2
(Second hand: 2)

Read in April - June 2011

Total: 21
Purchased pre-2011: 6
Purchased in 2011: 14
Borrowed: 1
Kindle: 9
Dead tree: 12

I managed to have better control over my book purchasing this quarter - go me! I even read over half the books that I bought in this period - go me again! Unfortunately, I'm still not good at getting through my pre-2011 backlog. Several of the reads from pre-2011 books were re-reads rather than tackling Mount TBR, so the pile has grown rather than shrunk. As of this morning, including purchases over the weekend, it stands at:

Mount TBR (To Be Read collection): 133
Kinde To Be Read collection: 20

D'oh! Guess I'll just have to read more....

Jul 11, 2011, 3:17pm

Tough assignment, reading more. :P

Jul 12, 2011, 8:10am

I know. Tough assignment, but I suppose that I'll just have to knuckle down and get on with it...

If the Tour de France would be a little less exciting (and terrifying), I might get more reading done!

Jul 12, 2011, 8:16am

It was a rest day on the Tour de France yesterday so I actually had time to sit down and properly absorb the final 100 pages of the latest Parasol Protectorate book. I can't believe that it's July 12th and I've only managed to complete one book, though.

It was, however, and excellent book and all the better for getting my undivided attention through the conclusion last night.

45. Heartless - Gail Carriger
Another excellent entry in the series. Carriger follows up nicely on plot threads from the previous book, including the destiny of the marvellous Biffy, and adds some new plot threads plus a few lovely red herrings. Alexia is determined not to let advanced pregnancy slow her down and her investigation into threats against the queen and proceeds quickly despite her tendency to waddle rather than stride. One of the strengths of these books is the characters and even Ivy gets her little moment of brilliance. Carriger is also not afraid to shake things up a bit and the final few chapters have me itching for the next book in the series to see how everything settles out. Highly recommended.

Jul 12, 2011, 12:41pm

I really enjoyed Heartless too.

Jul 12, 2011, 4:05pm

I'm picking up Heartless from the library tonight. Very excited!

Jul 12, 2011, 5:33pm

Glad to hear someone else who is watching the Tour de Crashes! Sunday's race was one of the most exciting ones I have seen. If memory serves me, last year's race didn't have a fraction of the mishaps of this year's. Unfortunately it does cut into my early morning reading and I haven't finished a book since it started.

Jul 13, 2011, 7:39am

#210> It was rather good and she does seem to get better with each book :-)

#211> Yay! You'll love it :-)

#212> Sunday's race was insane! It was bad enough having that terrible crash on the descent, that one was at least a part of normal racing, but to have a TV car take out two members of the breakaway was crazy. I'm so glad they both finished and Hoogerland deserves some kind of award for getting up on the podium afterwards and being able to ride yesterday. Wow. Last year's race was nothing like this bad for crashes. I've seen the odd bad opening week - a few years ago the first three days were in Denmark, that was bad - but this is the worst that I can remember. I get nervous watching now.

I record the morning live stuff and watch it in the evening. My reading time is pretty much non-existent right now because I'm rushing to get my physio done and my supper eaten with enough time left to watch the coverage. Normally I'd skip through the really dull sections if time is tight, but there haven't been any dull sections to skip through!

Jul 13, 2011, 11:27am

About the TDF - I know the cobblestones caused issues last year. But I do think this year's crashes seem like a lot more than I remember seeing in the past. Wild how many teams no longer have all 9 riders still in there after just one week.

Jul 13, 2011, 1:33pm

#214> Yup, the cobbles caused issues last year but nothing quite on this scale. We don't normally have massive crashes so far forward in the peloton, which is why so many of the bigger names have been injured. It feels like the injuries have been more severe than normal as well, possibly because the crashes have been so much bigger and at such high speeds. It's not just the number of teams that are missing riders, it's the number per team we're losing - Radioshack and a couple of others have lost so many of their riders!

Jul 13, 2011, 4:19pm

Checking in, Kathy. Glad to hear that the book funk is finally gone! I hate those things.

Jul 13, 2011, 4:57pm

Tomorrow TDF starts at 3:00 AM my time so I will be DVRing it. Are there going to be cobblestones on any of the stages this year (not including the Champs l'Eysees)? I always feel my teeth rattling just watching them on the stones.

Jul 14, 2011, 7:25am

#216> I hate knowing that I've got lots of books that should be really good, but just not being enthused enough to read them. That's been my problem for the last few weeks, but it seems to be passing now :-)

#217> Today's stage is going to be brutal. But fabulous, hopefully :-) I think the only cobbles they're doing are the Champs l'Eysees this year, but the route through the Alps is absolutely killer to make up for that! They're scaling the Galibier twice, including the first ever finish on it. It's the 100th anniversary of the first Alpine stage so they're going all-out with it. I can't wait :-)

Jul 14, 2011, 1:01pm

#209 Yay - Heartless :-)

Jul 18, 2011, 9:24am

I managed to finish another book over the weekend, despite some exciting racing in the Tour.

46. Red Seas Under Red Skies - Scott Lynch
This is the second in Lynch's Gentlemen Bastard's series and, after a slow start, it's really very good. It picks up a couple of years after the end of The Lies of Locke Lamora, with Locke and Jean setting up a cunning plot to steal more wealth than can be imagined. Of course, everything gets a lot more complicated and never goes where you expect it to which is a large part of the entertainment in these books. I found the first half of the book a bit disjointed and hard to get properly absorbed in, but as soon as a new character, Zamira Drakasha, appears it started to come together a turned into a rip-roaring adventure that had me glued. There are hints dropped at a much bigger story building in the background and the final few pages had me exclaiming out loud. In all, a very satisfying and entertaining read despite the slow start. I'm looking forward to the next one, although I hope that Lynch gets the pacing a little bit better.

Now I'm most of the way through the July Asimov's, which has a really stand-out and lovely short story that made the edition for me, so I should finish that today. Then I've got a the second Beka Cooper novel on my Kindle plus two hard covers (Naomi Novik and Mercedes Lackey) on my coffee table that I intend to delve into this week.

I may also have loaded Kushiel's Dart and Maisie Dobbs onto my Kindle as well, after several people raved to me about them elsewhere. Yup, lots of reading planned out!

Jul 18, 2011, 4:38pm

#220: I still need to read The Lies of Locke Lamora. Thanks for the reminder, Kathy!

I am a big fan of the Maisie Dobbs series so I hope you enjoy the book.

Jul 19, 2011, 7:12am

#220 I enjoyed The Lies of Locke Lamora but haven't read the second book yet. Do you know if the third book is definitely going to be published this year?

I've heard lots of good things about Maisie Dobbs but not got around to trying that series yet - hope you enjoy it!

Jul 19, 2011, 8:20am

#221> I'm looking forward to Maisie Dobbs, it sounds like my kind of thing and several people have raved about it to me lately. First I need to read Bloodhound, though, so that I'm actually reading my Kindle books as I buy rather than letting them build up...

Jul 19, 2011, 7:29pm

#223: I know what you mean about Kindle books building up. I have the same problem with my Nook.

Jul 20, 2011, 2:17pm

So far, I've not been too bad about build-up on my Kindle. So far. I can easily see how fast I'd get out of control if I wasn't being careful, though!

Jul 20, 2011, 6:33pm

How bad is too bad? I think I may be past the 'too bad' point with my Nook!

Jul 21, 2011, 7:13am

Well, I've got 20 unread books on my Kindle, most of which were free things. There are only a couple of bought books unread and I'm trying to make sure that I at least keep up with the things that I buy :-)

Jul 21, 2011, 7:40am

Only 20?! I have something like 200 on my Nook! lol

Jul 21, 2011, 1:38pm

I'm trying to be restrained :-) And organised.

Or something.

Jul 21, 2011, 9:06pm

I believe the 'or something' part :)

Jul 22, 2011, 12:20pm

#230> Heh :-D

I finished another thing! Go me!

47. Asimov's Science Fiction magazine (July 2011)
For me, the stand-out piece in this issue was a short story called 'Pug'. It's a whimsical fantasy that was a complete delight to read. Minor characters from Jane Austen's novels have found a gateway between their fictional locations and the story is more of a musing on the nature of minor characters in books than a romp. I loved the chance to see someone's thoughts on Ann de Bourgh and the author is obviously a lover of Austen, which may be why this story stuck with me so firmly. The other piece that I keep thinking about is called 'Twelver', a story about the consequences of changing gestational habits, but 'Pug' was the piece that made the magazine's subscription worth it this month.

And now I have both Bloodhound and Unnatural Issue on the go and they're both completely compelling. Hopefully I'll have the time to spend a lazy afternoon reading tomorrow :-)

Jul 23, 2011, 11:40pm

Hmm, I'm a complete Janeite so "Pug" sounds fun. I'm not usually one for Austen follow-ups, etc. but given the metafiction element, I'd probably enjoy it. Is there any way I can hunt down the short story without having to pick up the entire magazine? If not, I guess I'll be requesting an ILL from my library. :)

Jul 25, 2011, 1:10pm

I haven't yet found a way to hunt down individual stories - I suspect they appear in places eventually but probably not quickly.

I'd request an ILL from your library for the entire magazine - probably much easier! :-)

Jul 25, 2011, 6:30pm

Looks like it. Thanks for the review! :D

Jul 28, 2011, 10:53am

Another one finished! This one was bought last month because I spotted it in an accidental bookshop trip and couldn't believe that I'd managed to miss a new Mercedes Lackey.

Er, I bought it on release day. No wonder I didn't think it was out yet...

48. Unnatural Issue - Mercedes Lackey
The latest in Lackey's Elemental Masters series, this is a terrific read. It is based around the Donkeyskin myth, one that I wasn't familiar with until I Googled it, although it uses that idea more as a springboard rather than following it faithfully. That is the tendency with these books and one of the reasons that they're always new and interesting: Lackey takes an element of a fairytale but is not constrained by following all of it. Unnatural Issue is set in 1914 and the threat of WWI is always there, more overtly than in most of her other Elemental Masters stories. The central female character, Susanne, is strong and clever and I really liked her a lot. Lackey never writes weak female characters, but this one is particularly wonderful. Her male central character is Lord Peter Almsley, who we have met in other books but this is the first time he's been the focus and he holds the story together very well. There is necromancy, magic, feats of great bravery and a little hint of romance to make this a completely compelling read.

Jul 28, 2011, 1:45pm

I should try that series at some point. You know, with the hundreds of other books that live in that category of "one of these days...". ;)

Jul 28, 2011, 2:56pm

I have so many books on that list ;-)

Aug 4, 2011, 1:25pm

I have three books to write up (the last week of July was very productive, book-wise) but first...

I am reading Kushiel's Dart after years of seeing it recommended a number of times over the years. Does it stop being thinly veiled porn (with some purple prose at the more intimate moments) at some stage and develop a plot? Please?

Aug 4, 2011, 2:09pm

#238 I'm not sure because I gave up fairly early on for that very reason...

Aug 4, 2011, 8:03pm

#238: Never read it, so I have no idea. . .

Aug 5, 2011, 7:13am

#239> I had a feeling that might be the case. I'm giving it two more chapters and then...

#240> Unless it develops some kind of interesting plot soon, I'd say not reading it is a good decision.

I hate giving up on books. It makes something inside me shudder and I worry that maybe I gave up too quickly because some books take time to warm up. I'm just not getting the vibe that this one will actually improve...

Aug 5, 2011, 7:38am

I used to never give up on books until I read Nancy Pearl's Book Lust. Now I invoke the Pearl Rule: If the book has not struck a note with me by page 50, I give it up. Life is just too short.

Edited: Aug 5, 2011, 9:37am

#243> I keep thinking about doing that, but then I read something like Red Seas Under Red Skies and it took half the book to get going and then it was great. So whenever I think about giving up on a book, I remember those books and carry on.

I have just learned a vital lesson: no matter how much a sentence in an email sounds like it's a boring corporate thing, do not get bored and move onto the next paragraph without completing the sentence.

Ditto for the email subject.

Guess who's going to be on the local breakfast TV thing next week? *sigh*

My colleagues are all mocking me for being The Great Reader and having total reading fail.

Aug 12, 2011, 9:15am

I finished several books at the end of July but it's been a bit mad trying to get the reviews written. August has started out slowly: I gave up on Kushiel's Dart and my current paper book read has teeny tiny type that is very hard on the eyes and keeps putting me to sleep even though the story is good. Argh!

50. Tongues of Serpents - Naomi Novik
Following the events of the previous books, Lawrence and Temeraire have been sent to Australia. They're initially accompanied by a couple of old friends and, as always, make both new friends and new enemies when they arrived. As usual, Novik weaves her story around the real events of the time (Bligh!) and re-imagines how the Napoleonic Wars would have been altered by the presence of dragons. This is, in places, quite a dark novel but it's also a thoroughly enjoyable one and Novik's descriptions of Australia are beautiful. Temeraire continues to be a fantastic character and his relationship with Lawrence is lovely. There is adventure, intrigue and humour aplenty and I found this a great contribution to the series.

51. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear
This was a recommendation from the 75 Books group and they did not steer me wrong. The central character, Maisie, is an amateur sleuth just setting up on her own after her mentor retires. The mystery itself is good, although a little predictable, and it is the exploration of Maisie, her past and the events of World War I that really bring the novel alive. Set initially in the late 1920s, the book is very much haunted by the War throughout. While nowadays we tend to focus most of our memories and concerns on WWII, the horrors of World War I in many ways had a deeper impact on society. It was a fascinating book and Maisie is a character that I really look forward to seeing more from. This book had the feel of setting things up for meatier mysteries later, but the backstory and its relationship to Maisie's life kept me turning the pages eagerly to the end.

Aug 12, 2011, 3:35pm

A beautiful but very dark version of the Donkeyskin tale is done by Robin McKinley in Deerskin. I've never read Kushiel's Dart either, but there are a LOT of people who simply love it. I have Maisie Dobbs on my wishlist due to the same recommendations you've seen--will try to get to it in this life!

Aug 12, 2011, 11:36pm

Congratulations on passing 50 books for the year, Kathy!

I am a big Maisie Dobbs fan. Glad to see you enjoyed the first book in the series.

Aug 16, 2011, 12:00pm

#245> I may need to check out Deerskin! I figured Kushiel's Dart would be up my alley after reading so many positive things. It's one of those ones that isn't a bad book, but is just very much not my thing. Ah, well, live and learn! Maisie Dobbs, though is fabulous :-)

#246> Thank you! I'm particularly pleased that 95% of those books have been really great and it's been a good reading year so far. I'm halfway through Birds of a Feather now...

I am so happy right now - I've finished a slog book that would have been much less sloggish if the publisher had used a slightly less insane typeface. Argh!

52. The Last Dragonlord - Joanne Bertin
This is from my large stack of pre-2008 buys that have never been read. I have a feeling that it was bought in desperation to use up a gift voucher for WH Smiths. It was a serviceable, reasonably enjoyable book with some interesting ideas but didn't really set my world alight. My opinion may be influenced by the incredibly tiny type the publisher used, which made it hard going and more of a slog than it should be. Quite enjoyable but I'm not rushing out to buy the rest of her books immediately.

And I had a copy/paste error last week and didn't copy over the review for book 49. Oops!

49. Bloodhound - Tamora Pierce
The second in the Rebekah Cooper books and I loved it. The central plot is about money forgery, which is really fascinating when the repercussions start to work through, and Pierce uses the story to give us some wonderful new characters and lots of growth and development for the established characters. I think Becca Cooper may be one of my favourite Pierce characters and her 'voice' adds something unique to the narrative. It's a great addition to the Tortall books and I can't wait to read the last one.

Aug 16, 2011, 6:10pm

#247: I am so happy right now - I've finished a slog book that would have been much less sloggish if the publisher had used a slightly less insane typeface. Argh!

Congratulations on getting through the book! One of the things I love about my Nook is the ability to change the size of the type. I have terrible eyesight and changing the font size is a huge boon for me!

Aug 17, 2011, 8:39am

#248: I love being able to change the font size on my Kindle! This is a book where that would have been really useful. It was the smallest font I've seen in a print book (outside the Bible, anyway) and I found it hard to really concentrate and frequently either fell asleep or grew a lovely headache. Not good.

Aug 17, 2011, 10:08am

#249: I can relate to the problem. I have taken numerous library books back because the font size was so small that I just could not manage to read them without straining my eyes unmercifully. I do wish publishers would keep that in mind :)

Aug 17, 2011, 10:24am

I think publishers want to save on raw materials - smaller print = fewer pages - without really considering the comfort of readers. My eyes are young and good (with glasses). If I found that book a struggle, what would someone with less decent eyesight do?

Aug 17, 2011, 10:25am

Not read it.