mathgirl40's 2014 Category Challenge -- Part 3

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mathgirl40's 2014 Category Challenge -- Part 3

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Ott 19, 2014, 6:55 pm

Welcome to part 3 of my challenge! Part 1 is here:
and Part 2 is here:

Here are my categories for 2014:

1. Classics and books from the 1001 list
2. Noir and hard-boiled mysteries
3. Space operas
4. Non-fiction
5. Graphic novels
6. Shorter fiction: short stories, novellas
7. Dust collectors
8. Around the world
9. Continuing series
10. Canadian literary awards
11. International literary awards
12. Mysteries
13. SFF
14. Miscellaneous

My goal is to read a minimum of 8 books in each category.

I'll be tracking again the books off my shelves (ones acquired before Jan. 1, 2014), but I hope to do better than I did last year!

Modificato: Dic 24, 2014, 10:05 pm

Category 1: Classics and books from the 1001 list

Not only do I like classics, but I also love the classic Penguin covers!

1. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Feb. 10)
2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Feb. 12)
3. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin (Apr. 28)
4. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (May 2)
5. King Lear by William Shakespeare (July 19)
6. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Sept. 29)
7. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (Dec. 5)
8. Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (Dec. 15)

Modificato: Dic 16, 2014, 9:19 pm

Category 2: Noir and hard-boiled mysteries

Reading and rewatching Laura recently inspired me to add a noir/hard-boiled category for 2014.

1. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (May 17)
2. Fatale, Volume 1: Death Chases Me by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (July 9)
3. I Married a Dead Man by Cornell Woolrich (July 25)
4. Garnethill by Denise Mina (July 31)
5. Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (Sept. 26)
6. The Cage by Kenzo Kitakata (Nov. 9)
7. Fatale, Volume 2: The Devil's Business (Nov. 26)
8. The Postman Always Rings Twice (Dec. 7)

Modificato: Dic 28, 2014, 10:27 pm

Category 3: Space Operas

This category is for the year-long Vorkosigan group read. I’m also hoping to read more in the Liaden series. The cover shown above is for a Korean translation of The Warrior’s Apprentice.

1. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (Jan. 7)
2. Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold (Feb. 22)
3. The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold (Mar. 20)
4. Saltation by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (Mar. 29)
5. The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold (Apr. 10)
6. The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold (Apr. 18)
7. Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold (July 14)
8. Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold (Aug. 30)
9. Labyrinth by Lois McMaster Bujold (Sept. 11)
10. Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold (Nov. 2)
11. Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (Nov. 25)
12. Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold (Dec. 18)

Modificato: Nov 29, 2014, 5:40 pm

Category 4: Non-fiction

I thought the seal for my alma mater, the University of Waterloo, would be an appropriate graphic for this category. The university’s motto is “concordia cum veritate,” which means “in harmony with truth,” or as some of us like to put it, “a compromise with reality.”

1. The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray (Apr. 9)
2. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (June 15)
3. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (July 24)
4. Speculative Fiction 2012 by Justin Landon (July 25)
5. The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King (August 19)
6. The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement by Nick Saul (Aug. 22)
7. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (Oct. 23)
8. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (Oct. 25)
9. On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi by Ryusho Kadota

Modificato: Ott 31, 2014, 8:33 pm

Category 5: Graphic Novels

The graphic for this category is a panel from the Grandville series, the artwork for which I particularly like.

1. Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot (Apr. 5)
2. Locke & Key: Clockworks by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (Apr. 26)
3. Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (Apr. 27)
4. Cigars of the Pharaoh by Hergé (June 17)
5. The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who by Paul Cornell (July 11)
6. Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (July 22)
7. Chew, Volume 1: Taster's Choice by John Layman (Sept. 10)
8. Chew, Volume 2: International Flavor by John Layman (Oct. 29)

Modificato: Dic 16, 2014, 9:20 pm

Category 6: Shorter fiction: short stories, novellas

What better photo for this category than the master of the short story, 2013 Nobel prize winner Alice Munro?

1. The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (Feb. 18)
2. Hugo Short Story and Novelette nominees (July 21)
3. The Runner and the Kelpie by Dave Duncan (Sept. 3)
4. Steampunk Prime edited by Mike Ashley (Sept. 6)
5. The Pyramid and Other Stories by Henning Mankell (Sept. 21)
6. The Mystery Knight by George R. R. Martin (Oct. 16)
7. Tenth of December by George Saunders (Nov. 28)
8. The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (Dec. 10)

Modificato: Nov 14, 2014, 10:17 pm

Category 7: Dust collectors

Anything that’s been sitting on my shelf (or the virtual shelf on my e-reader) for several years will fall into this category.

1. The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou (Feb. 19)
2. The Mystery of the Screaming Clock by Robert Arthur (Mar. 23)
3. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (Mar. 25)
4. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (July 7)
5. My Life as Emperor by Su Tong (Sept.30)
6. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (Oct. 31)
7. Podkayne of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein (Oct. 31)
8. Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brailier (Nov. 5)

Modificato: Dic 28, 2014, 10:28 pm

Category 8: Around the world

I plan to participate in the GeoCAT in 2014 and hope to visit some new countries through my reading.

1. Murder at Mount Fuji by Shizuko Natsuki -- Japan (Jan. 3)
2. The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto -- Mozambique (Jan. 15)
3. The Son by Philipp Meyer -- USA (Jan. 22)
4. The Dinner by Herman Koch -- The Netherlands (Jan. 24)
5. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton -- New Zealand (Jan. 29)
6. Death at la Fenice by Donna Leon -- Italy (Feb. 14)
7. No and Me by Dephine de Vigan -- France (Feb. 27)
8. Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason -- Iceland (Feb. 24)
9. The House of the Mosque by Kader Abdolah -- Iran (Mar. 11)
10. The Long Song by Andrea Levy -- Jamaica (Apr. 3)
11. Nemesis by Jo Nesbø -- Norway (Apr. 12)
12. Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis -- Afghanistan (May 30)
13. The Third Son by Julie Wu -- Taiwan (Aug. 26)
14. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith -- Botswana (Sept. 23)
15. Little Bee by Chris Cleave (Dec. 3)
16. Almond, Wild Almond by D. K. Broster (Dec. 28)

Modificato: Ott 21, 2014, 5:14 pm

Category 9: Continuing series

I have a large number of series to finish up. The graphic above shows a few of my favourite Taylor series.

1. The Runner and the Saint by Dave Duncan (Apr. 22)
2. He Who Fears the Wolf by Karin Fossum (Apr. 30)
3. Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason (June 30)
4. Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery (August 5)
5. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (Aug. 20)
6. The Abominable Man by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (Aug. 31)
7. A Feast of Crows by G. R. R. Martin (Sept. 13)
8. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (Oct. 6)

Modificato: Ott 21, 2014, 5:28 pm

Category 10: Canadian literary awards

This category will include books from the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen list and Canada Reads, among others.

1. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan (Feb. 28)
2. Flee, Fly, Flown by Janet Hepburn (Mar. 7)
3. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (May 15)
4. An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James (May 22)
5. The Cat by Edeet Ravel (May 31)
6. The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison (August 11)
7. River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay (Sept. 27)
8. Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World by Janet E. Cameron (Oct. 10)

Ott 19, 2014, 6:58 pm

Category 11: International literary awards

This category will include books from the Tournament of Books and the Man Booker prize nominees, among others.

1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Jan. 12)
2. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (Feb. 5)
3. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Feb. 16)
4. Hill William by Scott McClanahan (Feb. 25)
5. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (Mar. 5)
6. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid (Mar. 6)
7. At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón (Mar. 26)
8. The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara (June 10)
9. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (August 15)

Modificato: Dic 28, 2014, 10:30 pm

Category 12: Mysteries

I plan to participate in the MysteryCAT in 2014, so there will be lots to fill up this category.

1. Mission Road by Rick Riordan (Jan. 19)
2. The Last Policeman by Ben Winters (Feb. 8)
3. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (Mar. 18)
4. When the Wind Blows by Cyril Hare (May 1)
5. Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie (May 2)
6. Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh (May 28)
7. Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare (June 12)
8. Le Bouchon de cristal by Maurice Leblanc (August 8)
9. Shake Hands Forever by Ruth Rendell (Aug. 24)
10. Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay (Sept. 18)
11. Firewall by Henning Mankell (Oct. 18)
12. The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (Oct. 21)
13. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Nov. 30)
14. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen (Dec. 20)
15. Death in the Air by Agatha Christie (Dec. 25)

Modificato: Dic 28, 2014, 10:30 pm

Category 13: Science fiction and fantasy

I plan to purchase the Hugo Voter packet again this year and I’d like also to read more classic sci-fi.

1. Parasite by Mira Grant (Jan. 25)
2. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (Jan. 28)
3. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (Mar. 30)
4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Apr. 8)
5. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Apr. 20)
6. The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade (Apr. 24)
7. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (June 25)
8. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (July 29)
9. Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith (Oct. 26)
10. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Oct. 28)
11. The Green Rider by Kirsten Britain (Nov. 13)
12. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Nov. 19)
13. Blackout by Connie Willis (Dec. 23)

Modificato: Nov 20, 2014, 7:32 am

Category 14: Miscellaneous

This will be a mix of whatever doesn’t fit in the other categories.

1. Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls (Apr. 6)
2. The Babe, B.A.: Being the Uneventful History of a Young Gentleman at Cambridge University by E. F. Benson (May 12)
3. Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer (June 20)
4. Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa (June 27)
5. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (Sept. 8)
6. Wonder by R. J. Palacio (Oct. 3)
7. Sanctuary by William Faulkner (Oct. 14)
8. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (Nov. 16)

Ott 19, 2014, 7:04 pm

This is the third and final thread of my 2014 challenge. I've been aiming for 8 books in each category, and I think I'll be able to reach this by the end of the year!

I'm a bit behind on my reviews. I haven't added any of my October reading yet but will do so soon. Currently, I'm on a Mars kick. I'm reading Packing for Mars for the RandomCAT challenge as well as Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, which has been on my TBR shelf forever. I also pulled out a favourite from my teenage years, Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein, to reread once I'm done with the other two. Others have also recommended The Martian to me. I don't think I'll be able to fit that into October, but it's one that I hope to read eventually.

Ott 19, 2014, 8:23 pm

Happy new thread! :D I'm planning to read The Martian for the November RandomCAT.

Will be interested to hear your thoughts on all of your Mars books. My BF has Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy as well and it's something I've considered reading at some point.

Ott 19, 2014, 8:37 pm

Happy new thread!

Ott 20, 2014, 11:19 am

Ah, nice new digs!

Ott 20, 2014, 2:15 pm

Finishing up the year strong!

Ott 20, 2014, 7:15 pm

Happy new thread! Hope you like Packing for Mars - it's one I enjoyed immensely.

Ott 21, 2014, 9:32 am

Happy new thread! Doesn't it feel great to be on track with your challenge? I love your Mars kick.

Ott 21, 2014, 5:44 pm

Thanks, all, for dropping in and saying hello! So far, I'm enjoying both Mars books very much, but first, I'd better add some reviews for the ones I've already finished. :)

Ott 21, 2014, 5:45 pm

105. Wonder (5 stars)
Category: Miscellaneous

This novel was chosen by another family for our parent-child book club and is about a boy whose face has been severely disfigured since birth. The story revolves around his entry into a regular school, after years of homeschooling. It’s a coming-of-age story but one that is not just focussed on the development of one character. The novel is written from several points of view and shows not just how August grows through his experience in school but also how his sister and schoolmates are affected by it. This funny, sad and heartwarming book is not overly long and could be enjoyed by middle-school children and those older.

Ott 21, 2014, 5:46 pm

106. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (4 stars)
Category: Continuing Series

This is the second book in Fforde's Thursday Next series. These books are so very entertaining! I love the cleverness, the wonderfully wacky characters, and the abundance of literary references and jokes. The plot leaves a bit to be desired, though. Meeting Miss Havisham was a treat, as I’ve always loved Great Expectations and she did not disappoint. I hope she will reappear in other books in this series.

Ott 21, 2014, 5:48 pm

107. Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World by Janet E. Cameron (4.5 stars)
Category: Canadian Literary Awards

This was my final book from the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen list, and it was one of my favourites. It is about a gay teenager growing up in a small town, trying to cope with his own developing feelings for one of his best friends and the homophobia among his schoolmates. Stephen tries to keep his secret from his mother, friends and acquaintances but is still bullied because he doesn’t fit in with the others. The author has done a great job of portraying the horrible reality that a boy like Stephen must face, but she does so with humour, and there are touching and hopeful moments too. There are mature passages and some disturbing scenes in this book, so I would not recommend it to younger teens, but this really is the sort of book that young people struggling with their sexual identity ought to read.

Ott 21, 2014, 6:13 pm

>25 mathgirl40: Plok, plok!

Modificato: Ott 22, 2014, 12:05 pm

>25 mathgirl40: Indeed, she does reappear in the other books!

Welcome to the wonderful world of Fforde! His website is a wonderfully vast place to spend your time and/or cash. I'm hoping to get myself one of these for Christmas...

Ott 22, 2014, 5:22 pm

Happy new thread, Pauline.

Ott 22, 2014, 6:02 pm

Thanks, >27 mamzel:, >28 LauraBrook: and >29 DeltaQueen50: for dropping by!

Laura, that T-shirt is great! I must say that I'm rather fond of the Dodo T-shirt myself:

Ott 25, 2014, 5:34 pm

108. Sanctuary by William Faulkner (3.5 stars)
Category: Miscellaneous

This was the easiest to read of the four Faulkner novels I've read, as it has a mostly straightforward plot and little of the author's often used stream-of-consciousness style. However, it is also the one I like least. It's a disturbing read, with its primary theme of rape, but alongside the unpleasant scenes, there is also some genuinely beautiful prose.

Ott 25, 2014, 5:48 pm

109. The Mystery Knight by George R. R. Martin (4 stars)
Category: Short Fiction

The Mystery Knight is a novella found in the Warriors collection and is the third in the Dunk and Egg series, a prequel to Martin's well known A Song of Ice and Fire series. I'm finding this series to be very enjoyable, maybe even more so than the main series, though they are really meant to be read in conjunction. The Dunk and Egg novellas provide much information about earlier characters and events referenced in the other series. This one continues the adventures of the two as they travel as hedge knight and squire. Like the earlier two novellas, much of the action takes place at a tournament, but there are more than a few unexpected twists.

Ott 27, 2014, 9:32 pm

110. Firewall by Henning Mankell (3.5 stars)
Category: Mystery

This is a decent installment in the Wallander series, with a story that deals with computer-network sabotage. Mankell provides more insight into Wallander’s character, and we see the frustrations and doubts he has regarding his career. The plot is suspenseful and complex, but there are a few too many red herrings for my taste. I also found some of the events and characters’ actions related to the computer technology hard to believe, but I do have to remind myself that this book had been written 14 years ago.

Ott 27, 2014, 9:44 pm

111. The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (4 stars)
Category: Mystery

This new installment in the Armand Gamache series has a very slow start, as Clara Morrow tries to track down her missing husband, with the help of Armand, Jean-Guy and Myrna. For a long time, the reader is not even sure what crime had been committed, if any. However, the novel has a whopper of an ending. To fans of the series and of the inhabitants of Three Pines, I would definitely recommend this book. If you’re interested in art and how artists think, this is also a great book to read. However, it is not at all Penny's typical murder mystery and new readers, without that vested interest in the characters, might find the novel tedious.

I have to thank Penny for introducing me to Clarence Gagnon, a French Canadian painter whose works are discussed in the novel, and whose painting graces the cover of the book. I’ve actually seen his works at various art galleries and museums, even on jigsaw puzzles, but I’ve never really paid attention until now. Penny’s descriptions of his works, through the voice of Gamache, have certainly given me a better appreciation of them. This work, “Village in the Laurentians”, is one of his better known ones. My family has enjoyed many ski vacations in the Laurentians and this painting really captures the charm of the villages in wintertime.

Ott 27, 2014, 10:01 pm

My parents have that painting! I'll have to tell my mum about this installment of the series; she's been enjoying it very much and will like it even more with the Gagnon aspect!

Ott 28, 2014, 6:20 pm

>35 rabbitprincess: How nice that your parents have that picture on their walls! I really like it myself. I'm sure your mum will enjoy the novel if she likes Gagnon's works.

Ott 28, 2014, 10:15 pm

>34 mathgirl40: I hope I can get to that one either in November or December.

Ott 31, 2014, 10:49 pm

>37 thornton37814: I'll be interested in hearing what you think of it!

Ott 31, 2014, 10:51 pm

112. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (4.5 stars)
Category: Non-fiction
Challenges: RandomCAT

This book was my RandomCAT selection for the month, one that was recommended to me by rabbitprincess, and an excellent recommendation that was!

The entire book is very entertaining as well as informative. It covers all aspects of the life of an astronaut, from the exciting life-changing moments to the extremely mundane ones that deal with day-to-day processes. Ironically, Roach takes a very "down to Earth" approach to the ideas surrounding space travel. She has certainly done her research, interviewing astronauts, scientists, engineers, psychologists and other people involved in the space programs in a number of different countries. Warning: there are several very "gross" passages concerning hygiene, food and excretion. Of course, these are just the sort of descriptions that some, children especially, find delightfully fascinating! :)

Nov 1, 2014, 6:46 pm

>39 mathgirl40:
I loved that one too. And I got answers to questions I didn't even know I had!!

Nov 3, 2014, 10:38 am

I have this book on my radar to read one day. I love Roach's snarky tone and she tackles the most interesting topics. Topics I didn't even know I wanted to know about.

Nov 3, 2014, 5:23 pm

I have her book Stiff in my TBR and maybe I'll get to it next year.

Nov 4, 2014, 9:36 pm

113. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (4.5 stars)
Category: Non-fiction

This is a memoir about Ernest Hemingway's time in Paris during the 1920's and includes his thoughts on his writing process, living in Paris, French food and drink, skiing, horse racing and many other things. Particularly interesting are his interactions with other writers such as Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This book was a lovely, easy read that made me feel as if I were in France, and some of the food descriptions were mouth-watering. It wasn't all pleasant for Hemingway, though. There were sad moments and even tragic ones. However, his love of life shows clearly during this period in which he and his wife were, as he put it, "very poor and very happy." It's a real contrast to the image that many of us know, that of the older broken Hemingway who ends up taking his own life.

Nov 4, 2014, 9:40 pm

>40 -Eva-: I agree. I found the chapter on psychological profiling of astronauts particularly interesting.

>41 mamzel: "Topics I didn't even know I wanted to know about" sums this up pretty well, and there are also topics that make you go "Ewww" that you wish that she had never brought up, but it's all fascinating. :)

>42 dudes22: I'm eager to try more of Roach's books now, including Stiff.

Nov 4, 2014, 9:44 pm

I liked The Well of Lost Plots better than Lost in a Good Book. And I'm also a Havisham fan.😊

I am on the waiting list for the Overdrive audio of The Long Way Home. It will be the first time I've listened to one of Penny's books.

Nov 4, 2014, 9:49 pm

>44 mathgirl40: Stiff is my absolute favorite of hers!

Nov 5, 2014, 2:14 am

A Moveable Feast is my favorite book. I prefer to ignore his later life.

Nov 5, 2014, 10:37 pm

>45 cbl_tn: That's good to hear. I'm looking forward to the next Thursday Next book! I've listened to several of Penny's book on audio. Ralph Cosham is an excellent narrator, except for the fact that he totally mangles some of the Québécois names.

>46 LittleTaiko: OK, I'm definitely going to fit Stiff into next year's reading somehow!

>47 RidgewayGirl: I do like much of Hemingway's later writing, or at least I did when I was younger. I haven't done a reread in a long time, so I'm not sure how I'll feel about it now, but I do recall that the tone was very different from that in A Moveable Feast.

Nov 5, 2014, 10:43 pm

114. Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith (3 stars)

This novel, chosen by our local bookstore's steampunk book club, was not a bad book but it was not memorable either. I found the writing very flat and the characters stereotypical. There are the usual steampunk elements; indeed, the story is full of cliches. Yet, the world building was impressive (I loved the vampire-controlled London), and the story moved along at a good pace. This first book showed some potential, but I'm not sure I care enough about the characters to continue with the series.

Nov 6, 2014, 6:00 am

Starting the long process of trying to catch up with some of my favorite threads, and have enjoyed meandering thorugh the end of your last thread and this one. Thanks for the re-nudge towards Mary Roach and Lois Master Bujold especially! I've been waiting for the next installment in Fforde's Shades of Grey series for a couple of years now. Maybe I sholud just give up and move on to Thursday Next instead?

Nov 6, 2014, 10:28 am

>50 GingerbreadMan: I'd definitely encourage moving to Thursday Next! Not only because it's a very fun series, but because I have no idea if or when Fforde is planning to write a Shades of Grey sequel.

Nov 9, 2014, 9:55 am

>50 GingerbreadMan: I agree with Christina. I think you'll enjoy Thursday Next. However, I've not read the Shades of Grey series yet, so I can't really compare the two.

Nov 9, 2014, 9:57 am

115. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (5 stars)

This was a selection from the parent-child book club that I participate in. It’s a young adult fantasy about a human race and a dragon race attempting to coexist peacefully. Seraphina, the heroine of the story, is caught in the intrigues that arise when someone wants to sabotage the fragile truce. Though it is considered a fantasy, this novel also has a nice mystery that Seraphina needs to solve and some romantic elements. In addition, music is a major theme in this book.

I was impressed by the quality of Hartman’s writing. It really stood out, as I was reading the lackluster Greyfriar simultaneously. This book is good proof that young-adult writing doesn’t have to be "simple". The author has created a wonderfully detailed world and extremely appealing characters, on both the human and dragon sides. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, which is scheduled to appear in the spring of 2015.

Nov 9, 2014, 9:57 am

116. Chew, Volume 2: International Flavor by John Layman (4 stars)

This volume was delightfully disgusting, like its predecessor in this series about Detective Tony Chu, who has a “superpower” that he activates by eating human flesh. In this volume, he has a new partner and his investigations take him to a tropical island where a mysterious chicken-like fruit is found. This is definitely a fun series, if you can tolerate the gross but often very funny scenes.

Nov 9, 2014, 10:19 am

117. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (4.5 stars)

I hesitated to give this book 4.5 stars at first. It’s long, there are tedious sections, and the character development is limited. Then, I thought about how very much Robinson had achieved with this landmark book and decided the rating was well deserved. I often point out when an author is good at world-building in a fantasy context, but Red Mars is world-building at its very finest. Robinson makes you feel as if you are on Mars and does it in such a way that is completely realistic and consistent with real-life scientific ideas. He has most definitely done his research and surprisingly the book does not feel dated even if it is 20 years old. Most of the descriptions of the astronauts' journey to Mars and the day-to-day problems they face with the lower gravity jive well with the information in Packing for Mars, a book I’d read a little earlier about astronauts and space travel.

This novel is ambitious and covers a lot of ground. If you are mostly interested in a character-driven or plot-driven novel, this isn't for you. However, if you can tolerate and even enjoy extremely detailed passages about engineering processes, biology, physics, economics and politics, in the framework of a novel with a large variety of characters and a reasonably interesting plot, then I definitely recommend Red Mars. I have the sequels Green Mars and Blue Mars on my shelf but will let this one soak in a for a little while before I get to those.

Nov 9, 2014, 10:37 am

118. Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein (3 stars)

Having just finished Packing for Mars and Red Mars, I decided to continue the Mars theme with a reread of a favourite from my early teen days, Podkayne of Mars.

The novel is blantantly sexist, with comments as insulting to men as they are to women, says almost nothing about Mars (though it does depict space travel in general), and has a totally unrealistic plot. So why did I give it even 3 stars? Well, Heinlein is a good storyteller, and this novel is a fun and fast-paced read, with some suspense and humour. Also, I feel rather nostalgic about it. When I was growing up, a science fiction novel featuring a strong resourceful teenage girl traveling in a spaceship was rare enough and I appreciated it at the time. I do a lot of eye-rolling when I reread Heinlein's books these days but I am still grateful to him for contributing, at an early age, to my lifelong love of science fiction. Also, I think the cover for this book is pretty awesome. :)

Nov 9, 2014, 11:28 am

Here is my October recap, a little bit late as usual:

Number of books read: 14 (out of 118 in all)
Number of books off my shelf: 3 (out of 38 in all)
Favourite book: Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Least favourite book: Podkayne of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein
Challenges: MysteryCAT, RandomCAT

I finished only 3 books off my shelf, but 2 were extremely dusty "Dust Collectors", so I'm pleased about that. There was definitely a Mars theme this month, with Packing for Mars, Red Mars and Podkayne of Mars.

I am on track to finish up my challenge by the end of the year, as long as I don't get too distracted with 2015 planning!

Nov 13, 2014, 8:45 am

>53 mathgirl40: & 55

Seraphina sounds good.

I keep meaning to give Red Mars a try.

Nov 15, 2014, 9:13 pm

>58 hailelib: If you like hard science-fiction, then Red Mars is definitely worthwhile.

Nov 15, 2014, 9:15 pm

119. Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold (4.5 stars)

This novella, about Miles’s experiences in a Cetagandan POW camp and his attempts to organize his fellow prisoners into action, might be my favourite of the Vorkosigan novellas I've read. Despite its shorter length, there’s almost as much going on here as in one of her novels. There’s a very clever plot that keeps the reader wondering why Miles is in the situation he’s in and how he’s going to get out of it. The novella is also a great example of how Miles overcomes his physical limitations by relying on his wit, intelligence and understanding of human nature. This, indeed, is one of the reasons I love the Vorkosigan series as a whole.

Nov 15, 2014, 10:31 pm

120. Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? (4 stars)
Category: Dust Collector

I started reading this the day before Halloween, and it was a perfect selection for that time of the year. Arranged as a choose-your-own-adventure book, the reader helps the main character decide on various courses of action that may lead to either survival or a horrible death at the hands of the zombies. This is not your typical choose-your-own-adventure book for kids, though; there are plenty of graphic scenes and strong language, though these seem to be more for parody than shock value. A nice surprise to me was the fact that the book is also a really fun tour of New York City, with nice zombie-infested descriptions of Yankee Stadium, the subway system, the Statue of Liberty, and other famous landmarks.

Nov 16, 2014, 9:37 pm

121. The Cage by Kenzo Kitakata (4 stars)
Category: Noir

This is a very good mystery/thriller about a former criminal who, after cleaning up his life and going straight, suddenly finds himself caught up in his former world. This book really captures the feeling of noir but in a Japanese setting, which for me, made it even more interesting. The tension builds up very slowly but it all works toward an exciting ending. I'm glad I discovered this author who seems to be very well known in Japan, and I hope to read more of his novels in the future.

Modificato: Nov 17, 2014, 7:57 am

I spent yesterday afternoon at the Toronto International Book Fair. It's a new event in Toronto and there was a good crowd. They had some pretty big names, such as Margaret Atwood, William Gibson, and Anne Rice. I really enjoyed the interview with Margaret Atwood and as one would expect, she had a full audience. Her new collection of short stories, Stone Mattress, is definitely going on my wishlist. Chris Hadfield was the other big star. He was promoting his new book, You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes, and the line-up of people waiting for his signature was enormous.

I tried to stay within budget and I didn't want to have to carry a huge load home on the train, so I limited myself to the following purchases:
  • Us Conductors by Sean Michaels. This novel based on the life of Lev Terman, the inventor of the Theramin, won the Giller Prize last week and might be read by the whole family, as my husband and daughter are into music and electronics. I'd even bought a Theremin Mini Kit for them last Christmas. :)
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I've read this several times and had given my copy away years ago, but I figure it's time for my daughter to be introduced to this classic, and maybe I will do another reread of it myself.
  • The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson. This picture book won the prestigious TD Children's Literature Award recently and is about Joshua Bell's experiment in a Washington subway station. That story is really worth reading about, if you've not heard of it.
  • A Turn of Light by Julie Czerneda. I stopped by the Science-Fiction Writers of America booth and picked up this fantasy novel. I've never read anything by Czerneda but her work has been recommended to me.
The joint Random House, Penguin and Indigo booths dominated the floor, but I also enjoyed browsing through the booths of the smaller independent Canadian publishers, such as Biblioasis, Dundurn, ECW and Annick Press. I found a good number of titles that I'll have to add to my wishlist.

Nov 16, 2014, 10:24 pm

Yay, glad to hear you had a good time at the book fair! It sounded like a very interesting event.

Nov 17, 2014, 4:32 am

I'm always looking for good Japanese crime novels. I've made note of the author's name.

Nov 17, 2014, 12:29 pm

>62 mathgirl40: & >65 RidgewayGirl: Think I'll be doing the same. Can't say that I've heard of him before either.

Nov 17, 2014, 8:58 pm

Oh, an international book fair! Lovely way to spend the day (or afternoon as you mentioned in your post)!

Nov 20, 2014, 7:27 am

>64 rabbitprincess: I hope they run the event again next year. Maybe we can do a meet-up in Toronto again. :)

>65 RidgewayGirl: >66 AHS-Wolfy: I've only read a few Japanese crime novels but I'd like to read more. The ones I've read so far have come to me through BookCrossing, which has been a good source of hard-to-find books.

>66 AHS-Wolfy: Definitely a good way to spend the day! I love going to book festivals. My only complaint about this one is that everything was held in one gigantic hall, with presentations at multiple stages going on simultaneously, so it was pretty noisy, even with the screens the organizers had put up around the stages. On the other hand, that contributed to the lively mood; book festivals can sometimes be somewhat sedate affairs.

Modificato: Nov 20, 2014, 7:30 am

122. Green Rider by Kristen Britain (3 stars)
Category: Fantasy

This is the first of a young-adult fantasy series that seems to be quite popular, but I just couldn’t get into it. It has appealing characters, an exciting plot and quite a bit of potential, as there are some interesting aspects of the world that the author had created. However, it is also overly long and full of dull and clichéd writing; clearly, the author does not subscribe to the "show rather than tell" principle.

While I’m somewhat curious about the future path of the main character, I don’t have any plans to read the sequel. There are too many other good fantasy YA series I’d like to read first. For example, I was very impressed by Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina and will seek the sequel as soon as it’s available. I also enjoyed Dave Duncan’s latest novellas and will try some of his earlier works, and I’ve been meaning to read Susan Cooper’s novels as they have been recommended to me by several people. Hopefully, I'll be able to fit much of this into the SFFCAT next year!

Nov 28, 2014, 9:06 am

Going way back up to >50 GingerbreadMan: and >51 christina_reads: I heard from the man himself, Jasper Fforde, that there will indeed be a sequel to Shades of Grey, but not for another year or so. He's been working on his young adult series (that starts with The Last Dragonslayer) and on a novel. Still, he said he gets asked quite a lot about a Shades sequel, so it's certainly on his list of things to write. :) Some good news!

TGIF to you, Paulina!

Dic 1, 2014, 10:19 am

>70 LauraBrook: That is good news! Thanks for the update. :)

Dic 1, 2014, 10:45 pm

>70 LauraBrook: That's good to know. I've only read novels in the Thursday Next series but I've heard good things about Shades of Grey.

Dic 1, 2014, 10:53 pm

123. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (4.5 stars)
Category: Miscellaneous

This was an unusual story about a mathematician whose brain injury has left him with 80 minutes of short-term memory. It also involves the housekeeper who comes to work for him, as well as the housekeeper’s son, who shares a love of baseball with the professor. This story is relatively short but powerful and sweet at the same time. I really liked how Ogawa manages to convey many of the mathematical ideas in terms that most readers could understand and how she shows the beauty of number theory.

Dic 1, 2014, 11:02 pm

124. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (4 stars)
Category: SFF

This big fantasy volume, the first of a trilogy, has its faults. The writing seems sloppy in places, the book is overly long, and there are overused tropes. Despite all this, I found the novel very hard to put down. It had the feel of the Harry Potter series, but written for adults. Even the plot has similarities: an orphan boy with extraordinary gifts makes it into a university where he learns from the masters while overcoming various obstacles and opponents. Rothfuss is very good at manipulating the reader, making you feel the highs and lows and he leaves you eager to find out what is going to happen to his characters. I'm itching to read the next volume, but it's even longer than this one, so I may hold off a bit and take some other books off my TBR pile first.

Dic 2, 2014, 12:03 am

I loved The Professor and the Housekeeper! Such a wonderful story.

Having seen mention of the Rothfuss book over on, I think it was -Eva-'s thread? - I an intrigued to read your review. Now I have to admit to having a 'D'uh' moment: I have just discovered that The Name the Wind is the book I am supposed to be on the hunt for as I bought the next book in the series/trilogy last month while visiting one of my favorite used book haunts. *face palm* You are right, The Wise Man's Fear is a big book, page-wise. ;-)

Dic 2, 2014, 1:29 am

>74 mathgirl40: Glad you enjoyed The Name of the Wind. It's been a while since I read it and I've not gotten around to the sequel yet even though it's been on the tbr shelves for quite some time. The sheer size of it has definitely been a factor in that. Been picking easier reads to make the numbers up in these challenge threads.

Dic 2, 2014, 7:46 am

>75 lkernagh: 76 I'm including a "Fantasy Doorstopper" category in my 2015 challenge specifically for The Wise Man's Fear, and some Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan books. :)

Dic 2, 2014, 7:47 am

125. On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi by Ryusho Kadota (3.5 stars)
Category: Non-fiction
Challenge: RandomCAT

This is an engrossing story about the near disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that had hit Japan. There are many engineering details, but the book is mainly about the human stories, describing how a number of people took tremendous risks to keep the situation under control and prevent a Chernobyl-like tragedy. I was impressed by the courage and loyalty of those working in the nuclear facility and appalled by the stories of political interference. The translation was a little bit awkward in places but done well for the most part. I would have liked to see more analysis of the circumstances leading to the disaster. There is a small amount of analysis at the very end, but this book is primarily about the extraordinary actions of the people caught in incredibly challenging circumstances.

Dic 3, 2014, 1:46 pm

I'm another one who quite enjoyed The Name of the Wind but have put off reading the second volume for too long. I need to learn to be more timely with fantasy series, mysteries seem easier to go a long time between, but now I am in the position of having forgotten a lot of the first book and don't know if I will be able to pick up the story enough to enjoy the second book.

Dic 3, 2014, 9:07 pm

126. Agent of Change (3.5 stars)
Category: Space Opera

This is the first published book in the Liaden series, about how Miri Robertson and Val Con yos’Phelium, key characters in the series, first meet. I've been reading the series out of order, starting with the Theo Waitley arc, and I must say that I liked Fledgling and Saltation better. The plot in Agent of Change seemed less complex and interesting and the writing less refined, but I suppose that's not surprising, given that it was written early in the authors' careers. Still, I loved the world and characters (especially the turtles!) and am eager to continue the series to see how the stories develop.

Dic 3, 2014, 9:09 pm

>79 DeltaQueen50: Yes, I have that problem with fantasy series too. I've been following some of the series reads/rereads posted at the Tor Web site and the bloggers usually give good summaries that I can quickly review. However, there is also a danger of seeing spoilers in those posts.

Dic 3, 2014, 9:46 pm

127. Fatale, Volume 2: The Devil's Business (4 stars)
Category: Noir

Volume 2 of the Fatale comics series includes issues #5 through #10. In this volume, we learn more about Jo, the immortal "femme fatale", and the tragedies that befall the men who are unable to resist her. Even though the story jumps from one era to another, much of the action for this volume occurs in 1970's Hollywood and concerns Jo's attempts to evade a violent cult. I'm really enjoying this combination of horror and noir mystery and am looking forward to reading the next issues in this series.

Dic 4, 2014, 9:27 am

>80 mathgirl40: I was thinking of perhaps having a space opera category next year as I missed out on the group-read for the Vorkosigan books this year. Not sure I want to add what looks like another huge series to my tbr but it's good to have options I suppose.

>82 mathgirl40: Good to see you still enjoying Fatale. I still haven't got around to Criminal as yet but one of these days...

Dic 7, 2014, 8:11 pm

>74 mathgirl40:
Yep. Yep. Agree. Yep. Agree. :)

Dic 13, 2014, 5:08 pm

>83 AHS-Wolfy: I know what you mean about adding another huge series, but one thing I like very much about the Vorkosigan books is that they generally work really well as standalone stories. After I finish one, I don't feel as if I need to immediate grab the next just to get some sense of completion.

>84 -Eva-: Great minds think alike, right? :)

Dic 13, 2014, 7:25 pm

>85 mathgirl40:
Or, as a caveat, "fools never differ." :)

Dic 13, 2014, 10:07 pm

128. Tenth of December by George Saunders (5 stars)
Category: Short Fiction

I'd never read anything by Saunders but I'd heard so much about this collection that I thought I'd give it a try. I wasn't disappointed! There are several stories here that I would describe as simply brilliant; the rest are also uniformly good. I found these stories fresh and different, with some surprising elements. Unlike many other short stories I've read that just evoke a feeling, create an atmosphere or explore an idea, these really felt like complete stories, with developed characters, interesting themes and satisfying conclusions. Saunders achieves a lot in a relatively short volume. My favourites were "Escape from Spiderhead" and "The Semplica Girl Diaries".

Modificato: Dic 14, 2014, 7:23 pm

129. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (4.5 stars)
Category: Mystery
Challenges: MysteryCAT

I enjoy derivatives of the original Sherlock Holmes works when they are done well, and I was not disappointed by this novel, which had been recommended to me by a number of people. I liked the fact that the novel is set after the time period covered by the original stories and that the characters seem consistent with more elderly versions of Doyle’s characters. I thought Mary Russell was an appealing character and believable as a feminine version of Holmes. There is a fair amount of "recycling" going on but there are enough original ideas that I ended up quite impressed by this novel. I do wonder, though, if the sequels will continue to be just as enjoyable.

Dic 14, 2014, 5:31 pm

How embarrassing ... we're halfway through December, and I've already finished a number of my December books, but I'm just getting to my November recap now. :)

Number of books read: 11 (out of 129 in all)
Number of books off my shelf: 6 (out of 44 in all)
Favourite book: Tenth of December by George Saunders
Least favourite book: Green Rider by Kirsten Britain
Challenges: MysteryCAT, RandomCAT

I did better with "books off my shelf" in November. I think this is the only month so far where those outnumbered new books (recently purchased or borrowed).

I'd also started Oscar and Lucinda for the GeoCAT but didn't get very far in November. However, I'm most of the way through it now, and it will be the final book for my 2014 challenge!

Dic 15, 2014, 6:19 am

>88 mathgirl40: - I have that book on my list for one of the BINGO challenge blocks next year. I'm not so sure I've read a book based on another before ( that I was aware of), so this might be a first for me. I can't say it's an idea that appeals to me and I probably didn't know it was when I grabbed it, so we'll see.

Dic 15, 2014, 11:13 am

>87 mathgirl40: - I really enjoyed Tenth of December too. Such a wonderful collection of odd stories. I'm interested in reading more by him.

Dic 16, 2014, 10:36 pm

>90 dudes22: Usually, the idea doesn't appeal so much to me either, as I worry that the author's new creation will be disappointing compared to the original. However, I'm so used to Sherlock Holmes derivatives (books, movies, etc.) that it doesn't bother me so much, and this one was done quite well.

>91 LittleTaiko: I too hope to read more by Saunders!

Dic 16, 2014, 10:37 pm

130. Little Bee by Chris Cleave (4 stars)
Category: Around the World (Nigeria, England)
Challenges: GeoCAT

This novel, about a Nigerian refugee living illegally in England and the woman who shelters her, is both moving and very readable. There’s a complicated relationship between Little Bee and Sarah, based on past events that are slowly revealed as the novel progresses. Sarah’s young son provides humour and an innocent child’s perspective on the events that unfold. The novel didn’t quite live up to the expectations that had been set by all the positive reviews it had gotten but it was a very worthwhile read all the same.

Dic 18, 2014, 8:58 pm

131. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (4 stars)
Category: 1001/Classics
Group Reads: Christmas Mysteries

Even though this novel is considered by some to be in the noir or hardboiled genre, it didn't have many of the characteristics I'd expect. Nick, other than having a propensity for drink, doesn't seem to be much like the cynical, down-and-out detective types I've found in other noir/hardboiled works. He seems happily married, with a comfortable life. After I got over the small disappointment that this wasn't really a noir novel, I enjoyed the story for what it was: a good complex mystery with some red herrings and unexpected twists that also had humour and charm. I would have liked to see more of Nora. She comes across as a clever and insightful partner to Nick but is always in the background.

I’d read this for the "Christmas Mystery" challenge, and it is indeed set over the Christmas period, but the holiday is just mentioned a few times in passing.

Dic 20, 2014, 8:55 pm

132. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain (4.5 stars)
Category: Noir

What an extremely creepy and suspenseful novel! The characters were, for the most part, extremely distasteful, but despite that, I couldn’t put the book down, and I even found myself sympathizing with the protagonist at times. Unlike my previous "noir" read, The Thin Man, this one exemplifies what I understand the noir genre to be.

I would really like to see the movie version of this novel. I’d watched the film version of another Cain novel, Double Indemnity, recently and thought it was excellent.

Dic 20, 2014, 9:23 pm

133. The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (3.5 stars)
Category: Short Fiction
Challenges: MysteryCAT

I usually don’t enjoy Agatha Christie’s short stories as much as her full-length novels, but this collection featuring Miss Marple is quite charming and fun to read. I liked the way the stories were framed, in the context of a mystery club in which Miss Marple and her friends (many of whom are recurring characters in the Miss Marple mysteries) take turns in relating a mysterious story from their own experiences. I don’t think any of these stories will stay with me for long but reading them was an enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours.

Dic 23, 2014, 1:36 am

>95 mathgirl40: I loved The Postman Always Rings Twice when I read it earlier this year, my brother and I then watched the 1946 movie and it was excellent as well. I haven`t seen the 1981 Jack Nicholson version, but it seems to get fairly good reviews as well.

Dic 24, 2014, 6:44 pm

I am soooo far behind here!

>85 mathgirl40: - one thing I like very much about the Vorkosigan books is that they generally work really well as standalone stories. Good to know! I tend to cringe at the thought of adding yet another new series to my ever growing pile so that statement gives me a bit of comfort.

>94 mathgirl40: - I have to laugh. Every time I see the title The Thin man for Hammett's novel, the first thing that comes to my mind is "creepy thin man' from the Charles Angels movies with Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Lui. ;-)

I have enjoyed reading your wonderful reviews over the year. Stopping by to wish you a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2015!

Dic 24, 2014, 7:58 pm

Have a very Merry Christmas, Paulina. It's been a year of great books and you delivering plenty of book bullets my way!

Dic 24, 2014, 8:48 pm

Merry Christmas, Paulina! I'm so glad to have met you in person! Hope we can see each other again soon.

Dic 24, 2014, 8:51 pm

Merry Christmas Paulina!

Dic 24, 2014, 9:46 pm

Just wishing you a very Merry Christmas, Paulina and a wonderful year ahead. I'm looking forward to sharing your reading in 2015!

Dic 24, 2014, 9:59 pm

>97 DeltaQueen50: Good to hear that the movie version is also excellent, and thanks for the Christmas wishes!

>98 lkernagh: Thanks for the good wishes, and you're not the only one who's behind in reading other people's threads! I'll have to see the Charlie's Angels film one day; I haven't gotten around to it yet, though I loved watching the original series as a teen.

>100 rabbitprincess: Meeting up at FanExpo was definitely fun! We'll have to arrange another meetup next year.

>101 cbl_tn: Thank you!

>102 VivienneR: Thanks! See you in the 2015 group. (Unfortunately, I've still got to finish all my 2014 postings first.)

Dic 24, 2014, 10:01 pm

134. Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (3.5 stars)
Category: 1001 books

This novel, which won the Booker prize in 1988, is a story set in mid 19th century Australia, about two lonely misfits who find each other through unusual circumstances. It was somewhat of a challenge to read this book; it is lengthy and written in an unconventional style. There are many characters and subplots, and the pacing seems very slow for much of the story, but it all builds up to a stirring and unexpected conclusion. While I can’t say I enjoyed this novel tremendously, I think it may deserve a reread at a later time, so that I can appreciate better some of the aspects that I took in only superficially on first reading.

Dic 24, 2014, 10:10 pm

I've completed my challenge!

My goal had been to finish at least 8 books in each of my 14 categories, and with Oscar and Lucinda, I've filled my final category. I still have a few more December books to finish and review, so I'll be hanging around here for a bit longer. I also have to finish reading my favourite threads from the 2014 group before I move to the 2015 group, but I will make it there eventually. :)

Dic 25, 2014, 1:30 am

Congratulations Paulina! I don't think I managed to finish reading threads in this group all year. As soon as I got close to finishing, another avalanche of posts arrived. See you in 2015.

Modificato: Dic 25, 2014, 6:10 am

Merry Christmas and a Happy reading New Year! And congratulations on finishing your challenge.

Dic 25, 2014, 8:21 am

Congrats on completing your challenge!

Modificato: Dic 25, 2014, 8:46 am

Happy Holidays, Paulina, and congratulations of finishing your challenge!

Dic 25, 2014, 10:55 am

Congratulations on finishing your challenge!

Dic 26, 2014, 6:45 am

Congrats on completing your challenge!

Dic 27, 2014, 12:39 pm

A belated Merry Christmas, Paulina, and a heart Congratulations on finishing the challenge! Here's to a very bookish 2015!

Dic 28, 2014, 10:21 pm

Thank you all for your congratulations and good wishes! I am looking forward to a new year of reading and interactions with the wonderful people in this group!

In the meantime, I have a few more reviews to finish up ....

Dic 28, 2014, 10:23 pm

135. Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold (4 stars)
Category: Space Opera
Group reads: Vorkosigan

In this installment of the Vorkosigan saga, Miles juggles his two roles as Lord Vorkosigan and his alter ego Admiral Naismith. Things get much more complicated when a "third" Miles, an unauthorized clone of himself, makes an appearance. This novel is set on Earth, in the city of London, which provides some opportunity for humour but makes the book less interesting than those set elsewhere. World-building is one of Bujold’s fortes, and there's not much of that here. However, there is still a lot to love: the exploration of family relationships, more insight into the complicated politics of Barrayar and Komarr, further development of Miles’s character and a fast-paced plot with plenty of surprises.

Dic 29, 2014, 10:20 am

136. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen (3 stars)
Category: Mystery

This is the second book in the Rizzoli and Isles series, and I really should have read its predecessor, The Surgeon, first, as there are many references to that story. On the other hand, many reviewers have called this book "more of the same", so maybe I don’t need to read the first. I liked the characters and there were suspenseful page-turning moments in the book, but this particular story had way more gore and graphic detail than I like. Despite the not-so-high rating, however, I wouldn't mind trying more of Tess Gerritsen as I'd read another of hers, Harvest, that I had liked better. I don't mind graphic detail when it comes to medical procedures, which are a feature of her books; I just don’t want to spend too much time in the mind of a serial killer.

Dic 29, 2014, 10:34 am

137. Blackout by Connie Willis (3.5 stars)
Category: SFF
Group Read: Connie Willis

This is part 1 of the Hugo-winning Blackout/All Clear pair. It ends abruptly, as it is not meant to be a standalone book. It’s difficult for me to rate this first book without having finished the second book (which I’ve just started), so I may change my tentative rating later.

In this novel, a group of time-travelling historians get stuck in England during World War II. I really loved Willis’s other time-travel novels, Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, and I was expecting this one to be as good. In terms of setting, subplots and characters, Blackout is excellent. However, my one objection is that it is so long and repetitive; more editing would have helped, in my opinion. The characters run around interminably in circles trying to find one another, and we keep hearing over and over about the disastrous consequences of their not being able to return to their own time. Still, Willis’s writing is really enjoyable, so going over the same thing a second or even third time is not too much of a slog. I just hope that the conclusion, All Clear, will not suffer so much from the repetitiveness of the first book.

Dic 29, 2014, 4:06 pm

I'll be interested in hearing what you think once you've finished All Clear since I tentatively plan to read both books next year.

Dic 29, 2014, 9:08 pm

Congratulations on finishing the challenge!!

Dic 29, 2014, 10:27 pm

>117 hailelib: All Clear is even longer than Blackout, so I'll be reading into January. Don't let my negative comments about Blackout's length and repetitiveness deter you, though. I'm still a huge fan of Connie Willis.

>118 -Eva-: Thank you, Eva!

Dic 29, 2014, 10:31 pm

138. Death in the Air by Agatha Christie (3.5 stars)
Category: Mystery
Challenges: MysteryCAT, RandomCAT

This mystery (also published as Death in the Clouds) is in a style typical of Agatha Christie’s country house mysteries, except that it takes place in the confines of an airplane. It has a varied array of characters and a clever plot that left me guessing until the end. It seems a bit formulaic and is certainly not as memorable as some of Christie’s more well-known stories, but I always enjoy time spent with Hercule Poirot.

Dic 30, 2014, 11:49 am

>116 mathgirl40: Fair point about the length of Blackout/All Clear. That was my biggest complaint about the books as well...they definitely could have used some editing! But for me the pros outweighed the cons -- hope they do for you as well!

Dic 31, 2014, 8:16 am

>121 christina_reads: Good to hear that the pros outweigh the cons. I'm pretty sure that will be the case for me, as well, so I'm continuing on with All Clear.

Dic 31, 2014, 8:19 am

139. Almond, Wild Almond by D. K. Broster (4 stars)
Category: Around the World (Scotland)

D. K. Broster was a very popular writer of historical romances in earlier times, but most of her books are out of print now. (At Distributed Proofreaders of Canada, where I volunteer, we’re working on turning her books into free e-books, as they are public domain works in Canada.) It’s a shame that not many people know of her, as Almond, Wild Almond was a very enjoyable read, even if it felt a little old-fashioned in style. It is set mostly in the Scottish highlands in 1745, during the time of the Jacobite uprising and Bonnie Prince Charles’s attempt to regain the British throne. With this setting as the backdrop, a romance between an honourable but impetuous soldier and a feisty and resourceful young woman develops. This was a very pleasant read with plenty of historical detail.

Dic 31, 2014, 8:20 am

I really enjoyed Blackout/All Clear. Yes, they are longer than they need to be, but I liked reading them so much that I didn't really see that as a drawback. I liked the old-fashioned pacing, which went with the time period and feel of the book. At this point, in 2014, the future world of the time-travelers in Oxford seems old-fashioned, as well.

Dic 31, 2014, 8:38 am

>124 RidgewayGirl: Yes, I'd agree with you that the old-fashioned pacing does seem to work with the time period. Despite my impatience, I'm still enjoying the story. The repetitiveness just seemed to be very noticeable compared to Willis's earlier books. I wondered whether she did that deliberately, to emphasize the lost and confused feelings of the people caught in the war.

Dic 31, 2014, 8:43 am

That's the last book of the year for me! Here are the highlights of the year:

Books read: 139
Categories completed: All of them!
Books off the shelf: 48

Must do better with reading books off my shelf next year ... sigh ....

Favourite books of the year:

Honourable mentions:

It was another fun year in this wonderful group and I loved all the challenges, group reads and discussions. Thanks to all the organizers and to those who stopped by this thread to visit! I'm really looking forward to following everybody's 2015 reading.

Dic 31, 2014, 11:31 am

Woohoo, congratulations!

Dic 31, 2014, 1:31 pm

A nicely varied selection of favorites.

And a Happy New Year!

Gen 2, 2015, 6:04 am


Gen 4, 2015, 7:29 pm

>127 christina_reads: >128 hailelib: >129 paruline: Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you all in the 2015 forum!

My 2015 thread is open but it's still very much a work in progress. :)