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Narilka reads in 2014

The Green Dragon

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Edited: Dec 27, 2014, 6:20pm Top

Happy New Year! It's 2014 and time for a fresh reading log. I made it to 28 books last year. Here's hoping I can finish more this year.

A Little Background
I tend to read a lot of fantasy. I do read and enjoy other genres, it's just that fantasy is my favorite. I am fairly forgiving so there will probably be many 3 star books.

2013 reading log: http://www.librarything.com/topic/148302
2012 reading log: http://www.librarything.com/topic/129737

My Rating System
- Absolutely horrible, don't bother

- Meh, I finished the book somehow but would not recommend it

- An entertaining read

- Very good, I would probably recommend this book

- Excellent! A new favorite and one I could read again.

A half star is given for a book that falls between those categories.

Books Read in 2014
1. A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen
2. Divided Allegiance by Elizabeth Moon
3. Oath of Gold by Elizabeth Moon
4. Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
6. The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
7. Maskerade by Terry Pratchett
8. Divergent by Veronica Roth
9. Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly
10. Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon
11. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
12. From Baghdad, With Love by Jay Kopelman
13. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
14. The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery

Edited: Jan 2, 2014, 7:08pm Top

1. A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

When James Bowen, failed musician and recovering drug addict, finds a injured, orange street cat outside his apartment, he decides to take him in just long enough to get healthy again. Living hand to mouth on the streets himself, the last thing James needed was another mouth to feed. Little did he know the cat named Bob had other plans for him.

A Street Cat Named Bob is a memoir about how a man and a cat rescue each other. James nurses Bob back to health and Bob helps him recover from drug addiction and turn his life around. Animals are amazing. This was an uplifting and heart warming story, a great way to start the new year.


Jan 3, 2014, 12:50pm Top

Looking forward to following your reading this year. I especially enjoy your thoughts on the fantasy novels you read.

Edited: Jan 3, 2014, 12:55pm Top

Oh, you've fattened my wish list, AGAIN, darn it!

Jan 4, 2014, 10:30am Top

Sakerfalcon - Thanks!

JannyWurts - You say that like it's a bad thing :)

Jan 4, 2014, 10:50am Top

I don't even read animal stories and you've made A Street Cat Named Bob sound like something I might enjoy! I've starred your thread.

Jan 7, 2014, 2:50pm Top

Starred, Narilka.

Jan 7, 2014, 5:49pm Top

I'm starring your thread - it looks likely to lead me to some new books. :)

Jan 8, 2014, 7:28pm Top

Jillmwo, clamairy, pwaites - Thanks for joining :)

Jan 10, 2014, 6:26pm Top

Happy New Year! I'll be following along as well :o)

Jan 12, 2014, 9:35pm Top

Thanks sandragon! And happy reading everyone :)

Jan 12, 2014, 9:36pm Top

2. Divided Allegiance by Elizabeth Moon

Paksenarrion has been with the Duke's company for three seasons. Now, though, she feels the need to follow a different path. After visiting with the Duke, Paks takes an extended leave of absence, not knowing if she will return or not, and heads back north to follow her destiny. Against all odds she joins the Fellowship of Gird and is accepted as a paladin candidate. Her first mission: To seek the stronghold of Laup, Gird's closest friend in life, to the west. Little does she know the dangers lurking along the way or whether her path will lead to victory or ruin.

Divided Allegiance is the second book in The Deed of Paksenarrion series. The book picks up not long after where we leave off in book one following the defeat of Siniava. I was a bit sad that Paks left the Duke's company as I enjoy a good military fantasy story. After leaving things go the traditional fantasy route. Many of the events that occur have a D&D feel to them, enough that I could see parts of the book inspired by an old fashioned RPG campaign, including evil elves that live under ground and worship a god that takes the form of a spider. Not a lot of imagination there, though they are given different names and have a slightly different twist to them. I almost wish these parts had been written differently as the fact that the first book was so different is what drew me to it.

Still the story was interesting enough that I stayed engaged. Paks has a lot of lessons to learn and it's good to see her move from just taking orders to beginning to think for herself. The ending caught me completely by surprise too. It was a great twist that left me ready to start the third book immediately as I had to find out what happens next.


Jan 20, 2014, 2:11pm Top

3. Oath of Gold by Elizabeth Moon

It's hard to introduce this one without spoilers from the previous book.

Having lost all sense of her courage, Paks wanders the Eight Kingdoms lost and alone, a broken warrior scorned by the rest of society. Through her wandering she realizes she's ended back in Brewersbridge, a place where she did a great deed before. In her despair Paks visit's the Kuakgan's grove, offering all of her meager worldly possessions in tribute. The Kuakgan sets himself the task to heal Paks' illness so he can get her back on the path of her true destiny.

Oath of Gold is the third and final book of The Deed of Paksenarrion. It's a story about recovery, redemption and sacrifice. In this book we come full circle. It's great to see Paks realize just how far she's come when she revisits places she only knew as a recruit and to finally grow into her full potential.

While parts still feel somewhat like a D&D campaign, making the story predictable at times, Moon breaks away from this by the end. I was able to guess the big reveal and yet the story had enough surprises to keep it interesting.

It is a great ending to a great series. While I know Moon has written more books in the same world I hope some day she will continue Paksenarrion's story.


Jan 20, 2014, 2:22pm Top

They sound really interesting, Narilka! But there are already so many books waiting for me... The temptation!

Jan 20, 2014, 3:25pm Top

For me, what makes the Paksennarion books stand out is the portrayal of Paks at rock-bottom, absolutely devastated and broken, and her slow journey to recovery. It was the first fantasy I'd read where the main character didn't bounce back from their ordeal in a short time. It's dark, but it felt painfully real and authentic to me.

Mar 22, 2014, 7:50pm Top

4. Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson

At this point I find it near impossible to write a plot summary as there is so much going, but I'll give it a try. Events pick up immediately after where book 7 ends. The Bonehunters are in Letheras contemplating their next move. Their allies, the Khundryl Burned Tears and The Perish, are making preparations to join them in facing down the ultimate enemy. The Barghast have returned to what they think of as their ancestral homeland and find things not what they expected. Several factions of T'lan Imass have awoken to a distant call and they need to decide how to answer. Add to this Elder Gods, K’Chain Che’Malle, Elient, Jaghut, Forkrul Assail and new gods and the mind reels.

Dust of Dreams is the ninth book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. There is an Author's Note with a warning that this book is different and for the first time in the series to expect a cliffhanger ending as it is meant to be the first half of the grand finale. This set my expectation for a long slow build, which is pretty much what we get. Many story lines going all the way back tot he first book are brought together as we march towards the end of this series. This is a talent of Eriksons that never ceases to amaze me given how complicated the story is at this point.

The tone starts off grim in the prologue and while Erikson works in moments of levity to help break things up that feeling is an undercurrent throughout the novel. This is not in itself a bad thing. It is more like the darkness before the storm and lends a sense of urgency.

For those that enjoy the philosophical parts of these novels you will not be disappointed by Dust of Dreams. Many of the discussions between characters or just an individual's personal thoughts are quite thought provoking.

I like how Erikson refuses to state who is "good" and who is "evil". Insight is given into characters and factions previously thought of negatively and showing them in a new, sympathetic light. It's yet another way these books make you think.

Erikson outdid himself in the final chapters of this book. The convergence is mind blowing in scope, the action intense. My heart was racing as I read, emotions high. I'm still feel a little numb in the aftermath. I had debated reading something else before finishing the series and know I can't wait that long. It will be straight on to The Crippled God for me!


Apr 1, 2014, 7:35pm Top

So I'm working my way through The Crippled God and noticed there's a serious misprint in my copy - it goes from page 623 straight to 689! I've never had a book missing a whole chapter before. I've ordered a new copy from Amazon and plan to keep my first copy as an oddity/collectors piece. Has anyone else ever run into something similar?

Apr 2, 2014, 2:45am Top

Yes, and I think it's a binding error rather than a misprint. An undergraduate textbook (which, as it happens, I'm using again right now) has a repeat copy of pages 531-562 bound between pages 274 and 275.

Edited: Apr 5, 2014, 9:44pm Top

I haven't noticed the missing pages in the wrong place yet and am definitely going to look. The new copy from Amazon appears complete though. At least I can finish the book now :)

Edit: I flipped ahead and sure enough found the missing chapter another hundred pages in. So wild :)

Aug 11, 2014, 9:13pm Top

It's been quite a while since I've been able to post! Life got hectic and I had little time for reading. Things have slowed down again so here's hoping I an get some more books in before the year ends.

Aug 11, 2014, 9:27pm Top

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In post-apocalypse America is the nation of Panem, a Capital city with twelve outlying districts. Each year as part of the Capital's entertainment they put on the Hunger Games: a battle to the death between 24 children to be played on live TV with the winner earning extra food for their district for a year. The representatives are selected by lottery, one boy and one girl from each district. When Katniss hears her sister's name called she knew there was only one option - to take her place and fight in the Hunger Games herself.

Having not seen the movie I picked up a copy of the book out of curiosity while on vacation. It turned out to be a pretty good beach read. While this is Katniss' story I found myself feeling more for Peeta as things went on. Romance, action, an underdog story, I can see how this became so popular with the teen set. At some point I need to watch the movie as I'm curious how the book translates. While I enjoyed the book I don't find myself in a rush to finish the series.


Aug 11, 2014, 10:39pm Top

I think number one is the best anyway

Edited: Aug 18, 2014, 9:41pm Top

6. The Crippled God by Steven Erikson

After a brutal battle with the K'Chain Nah'ruk, the Bonehunters march towards Kolanse, the location of their final battle. To get there they must first cross a desert of glass, agreed by all as an impossible task. Awaiting them at journey's end: Forkrul Assail, the arbiters of humanity. Elsewhere, in the realm of Kurald Galain, is the city of Kharkanas. A mass of refugees stand on its Shore, awaiting the breach of Lightfall and the coming of the Tiste Liosian. This is a fight they cannot win in the name of an empty city and a mad queen. Yet elsewhere three Elder Gods plot to shatter the chains of Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, from her eternal prison. Her release will send a force of devastation across the realms that no mortals can withstand. And if that is not enough the gates of Starvald Demelain are about to open which will release the Elient, true dragons, across the world.

The Crippled God is the tenth and final tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Picking up exactly where book 9 left us, the story immediately takes off and the reader must hang on tight. Everything you have come to expect from a Malazan novel is here: humor, action, magic, philosophy, utterly realistic characters, elder races, gods, heartbreak, joy and more. It amazes me at how set ups from the very first novel are all tied together in this book. Many story threads are given closure. Many important questions are answered. It wouldn't be a Malazan novel if some plot points and questions didn't remain. For me I can't say they bother me at all.

Where Erikson really shines is his representation of the human condition. He is able to dig deep into the heart, mind and soul of his characters to give us an array of views on war, love, hate, pain, sorrow, joy, life, death and all those themes that are the core of what makes us human. And compassion. If there is one theme for this series it is that of compassion. While Erikson forces us to look into the mirror and see all the ugly we wish we could hide he also shows us the beauty of the soul. These are the scenes that will move you.

The Crippled God is a fitting ending to what has become my all time favorite series. I started these books in 2012 and it has been quite a journey. To say that I have enjoyed these books doesn't do them justice. Amazingly complex, overwhelmingly hearbreaking, laugh out loud funny and everything in between this series elevates what it is to be "epic" fantasy. Thank you Steven Erikson for such an amazing story. I look forward to rereading this series in the future.


Sep 1, 2014, 9:02pm Top

7. Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

"The show must go on!"

There's a Ghost in the Opera house. He wears a white mask and causes trouble for the entire company. What better way to deal with a ghost than a witch? Enter Agnes Nitt, a.k.a. Perdita X, with a remarkable singing voice (she can even sing harmony with herself) but an unfortunately traditional body. At least opera is an escape from the scheming Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax back home, who want her to be the third in their coven. Unfortunately once Granny sets her mind on something it's difficult, and often hazardous, to stop her.

Maskerade is Discworld's take on opera. It is largely a parody retelling of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera with plenty of puns about opera in general and other famous works and a small mystery to solve. The build up to the end had me laughing out loud. Nanny Ogg as a ballerina was just hilarious! While not my favorite in the Witches series, it was quite an enjoyable read.


Sep 22, 2014, 8:59pm Top

8. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Faction before blood. That's how the saying goes. On the appointed day of every year all sixteen year olds must choose what faction they will belong to. For Beatrice Prior the choice is between staying with her family or following her heart - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

I'm not really sure this book needs much introduction. As far as teen dystopian fantasy goes, I found Divergent highly entertaining. I enjoyed following Tris through her initiation into Dauntless. There's plenty of action and a touch of romance. We're given just enough hints to wonder how Chicago ended up walled off from the rest of the world and what exactly happened outside the city that the leaders want to keep everything else out. Or is that keep their citizens in? Hmm.

This one I did see the movie before reading the book. I think they did a great job translating it to the screen. I'm glad I read it as I quite enjoyed it. This series I will continue, hopefully the books before the rest of the movies release.


Sep 22, 2014, 9:14pm Top

9. Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly

Kathleen Paulson left her life in Boston behind to be head librarian in Mayville Heights, Minnesota. Shortly after moving she is adopted by two cats who literally follow her home. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a tuxedo cat that shares Kathleen's fondness of Barry Manilow. Small town life is nice and quiet until murder interrupts Mayville's Summer Music Festival and Kathleen finds herself one of the main suspects.

This was a fun, cat-themed mystery. A light, easy read that was a nice change from what I had been reading lately. The mystery itself is fairly easy to guess after a few clues though Kelly did try to throw in a little twist that made me second guess myself for a chapter or two. The cats' magical abilities were down played. I hope they are developed more in future books.


Nov 29, 2014, 8:26pm Top

11. Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon

"Pardon me, but would you be willing to adopt me for a moment? I'd be grateful."

Rhapsody, a trained Singer of some power working on becoming a Namer, is on the run from a sadistic former client, Michael the Wind of Death, who doesn't take no for an answer. During her flight Rhapsody literally runs into a couple of shady characters, two half-breeds also on the run. Not in a position to be picky she begs for their help. What at first is supposed to be a rescue ends up as an abduction. And so begins an epic journey. Rhapsody is dragged across half a continent and through the earth to the other side of the world. Upon emerging the trio discovers 1400 years has passed and nothing will be the same for them again.

Rhapsody is the first in the Rhapsody trilogy and larger Symphony of Ages series. The book has a little bit of everything: action, adventure, romance, magic, mystery. Haydon has a knack for world building that I enjoy. The world has a rich history and mythos. The magic system is music based, playing on the author's love of music.

The fact that the main characters are 1400 years displaced in time sets the stage for a nice mystery as they piece together what's gone on since they left and exactly what has lead up to causing several kingdoms of the current day to be on the brink of war. Did something from the old world survive or is it something brand new?

Haydon's fluid writing style is also fun to read. She keeps things moving through the character's points of view and does not hesitate to jump between characters when other view points are needed. The interplay between the three main characters is entertaining throughout the book.

This is a comfort reread for me as I've read the trilogy many times. I am happy to say the story still stands up since the last time I read it. I will likely continue on to finish the trilogy after the holidays and see if the rest of the books are as I remember.


Nov 29, 2014, 9:13pm Top

12. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The island city of Camorr is no place for an orphan. Street life is harsh and often short. The Theiftaker, master over one of the cities seedier sections, takes promising orphans under his wing to start them on a life of crime. His recent recruit, Locke Lamora, is too clever by half and has the Theiftaker in a quandary: he must either sell him or kill him. Working a deal with a false priest the Theiftaker hands Locke over to Father Chains. But what has Locke done that the Theiftaker needed to be rid of him?

The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first in the Gentleman Bastards series and the first novel by Scott Lynch. Camorr is a fantasy stylization of medieval Venice complete with canals for streets and islands as various districts. Mob style crime lords rule the underworld while the nobility ignores the majority of what goes on in an agreement called the Secret Peace. The story focuses on Locke's current con while weaving back to his formative years, giving insight into how he became the criminal mastermind he is today.

The story has a slow build and is told almost exclusively from Locke's point of view. In the beginning I found myself enjoying the flackback sequences more than the main story. That all changes once things start to go wrong for our brave anti-hero. The worse Locke's situation became the more the story became a page turner.

Lynch pulls no punches. The story is gritty and sometimes brutal to the main characters. The violence is well placed given the world's set up. He also has a tendency to use swear words. Another review I read calling the book the fantasy love child of Ocean's Eleven and The Godfather is apt.

Overall I enjoyed the book. The ending has a nice twist. I look forward to reading more of Locke's adventures in the future.


Nov 29, 2014, 9:36pm Top

12. From Baghdad, With Love by Jay Kopelman

Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman is a Marine stationed in Fallujah, Iraq. The US military has strict rules about this kind of thing. Prohibited activities for service members under General Order A-1 include adopting as pets or mascots, caring for or feeding any type of any domestic or wild animal. So when the Marines on a mission to secure an abandon house find a puppy that was left behind there is only one thing they can do: save the puppy.

From Baghdad, With Love is the story of the dramatic rescue attempt of a dog named Lava and of Lava's rescue of at least one Marine from the emotional ravages of war. While the story focuses primarily on Lava's rescue we also get small insight into just how bad war can be. The story is heartwarming and another reminder of the healing power of animals.


Dec 1, 2014, 12:51am Top

>28 Narilka: Glad to see you enjoyed this one. Really loving the series so far and eagerly awaiting book 4. Just a heads-up on book 2 in that it does end in a cliff-hanger so might be advisable to have the third to hand just in case.

Dec 23, 2014, 11:39am Top

13. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

It was the night before Hogswatch. All through the house... one creature stirred. It was the mouse.

Who would want to hurt the Hogfather? One of Discworld's most beloved icons! And yet the worst has happened. It has left a whole lot of belief lying around and the world is starting to unravel at an alarming rate. Drastic measures must be taken. It's up to Death and his granddaughter Susan to figure this mess out.

Hogfather is the 20th Discworld book and the 4th in the Death series. It's Christmas, Discworld style. In true Pratchett form it is also about a lot more than just the holiday times. This book explores the nature of belief and what it is to believe. Belief is part of what makes us human. It is not a story about needing to believe because it's the holidays but more how humans choose to believe to make sense of the world, how that belief is woven into the fabric of our existence. How it allows us to define abstract concepts like justice, mercy, duty. Some of the conversations between Death and Susan at the end of the book are pretty deep.

That said, the book is hilarious! Daft old wizards, the thinking machine Hex, the Tooth Fairy, Death, Death of Rats, Susan - such an awesome cast of characters! Death filling in for the Hogfather is both fascinating and laugh out loud funny. Susan has become another of my favorite Discworld characters. And she sure wields a mean poker.

Happy Hogswatch everyone!


Dec 27, 2014, 6:20pm Top

14. The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery

With her father on his death bed after losing a battle with cancer, the last thing Sy Montgomery expected in her lift was a sick piglet. Yet driving home from a visit with friends, with a shoebox on her lap, Sy and her husband found themselves making the choice to change their lives forever.

The Good Good Pig is the story of Christopher Hogwood and how he changed the lives of a small community. It's a charming memoir that has a nice blend of pig stories along with events happening in Sy and her husband's lives. Chris' story really highlights the saying "Where there's life, there's hope" with his love of life and his ability to share that joy with everyone around him. He is one generous soul that just happens to be a pig.


Jan 1, 2015, 2:27pm Top

Only finished 14 books this year. It works out to 7413 pages read so perhaps that's not so bad after all. Here's hoping 2015 is a good reading year!


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