Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Year in Review

Total Books: 267
E-Books: 55
Print: 11
Audiobooks: 201
Total number of pages (going with what GoodReads said): 70,085

I just went with the GoodReads habit of counting novellas and short stories as books rather than mini books. Of the 267, 48 were short stories or novellas.

This was the year of the re-reads (listens?)! A discussion on BookObsessed lead me to listen to the British audio version of the "Harry Potter" series. Stephen Fry is the narrator and I completely enjoyed a re-listen of this series. I also re-listened to the "Hunger Games". I had forgotten that the narrator of this series sounded far too old to be Katniss. They should do a re-do with a younger sounding narrator.

It was also the year of reading the big, huge classics that I always wanted to read, but never had before - "Anna Karenina" and "The Once and Future King" can now be marked off my classics-to-be- read list. I never realized it, but "The Once and Future King" is actually a series of 5 books, the last of which was not published for over 20 years after the 4th installment and is titled "Book of Merlyn, The Unpublished Conclusion to the Once & Future King". Strange title since the book is definitely published. How else would Amazon have gotten a copy?

There were many books I liked this year, but I had a hard time deciding on a favorite. Nothing really stood out as awesome or fantastic except for "Harry Potter" and "Hunger Games."

I think the best book I read in January is one my husband recommended, Fever by Mary Beth Keene. It was a very interesting and well researched historical fiction based on the life of Typhoid Mary.

I read the first book of the Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch and quickly obtained the other two books and read them all in January. Always a good sign that I really, really liked it. Nice horror series to start off the new year with.

I started the Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens. Nothing earth shattering, but a nice, enjoyable paranormal mystery series. I read the 2nd & 3rd books in 2016. I recently acquired book 4 and will get to it soon.

A surprise book for me, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. I never expected to like this book as much as I did.

I began a new series that I could not wait to get a copy of the book because of the title, Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart. The first of the Constance Kopp series about a woman who becomes a deputy sheriff in the early 1900's.

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, the first book in the trilogy of the same name, is one of the best YA dystopia series out there. The movie was good too. I read the other 2 books in the trilogy as they became available at the library.

The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Grahame Simsion were two extremely funny and enjoyable books.

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield was probably one of the best books I read this year.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman, was a very haunting novel about a young girl on the brink of death. She has the choice to stay or go.

Not a big month for favorite books.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman, continued the story began in If I Stay. These two should be read together and were two of my favorites for the year.

I read the Once and Future King by TH White. This is the series that most of our more mystical ideas of King Arthur came from. I wanted to run get a copy of Disney's "The Sword & the Stone" after reading this one.

Probably the best of the April reads was Gatlin Wedding by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It is a short novella from one of my all time favorite series, The Casters.

May was a much better month for reading. Much better than April.

Secret of Goldenrod, a children's book by Jane O'Reilly was a nice cozy ghost story for children.

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was an interesting selection for my BookObsessed Book Club. Several of the women started reading it and quit because they disliked all the characters. I disliked them all as well and this is probably the first book I've ever read where I seriously did not like any of the main characters. I don't really think you were meant to like any of them. However, this was a great read that stays with you long after the last page.

The Fold by Peter Clines - Peter Clines is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors because he knows how to tell a great story in ONE BOOK. He doesn't have to write nine hundred more, retelling the same plot over and over again in different ways.

Ok, so right after my rant about authors not being able to write a good story in one book, I began a new series that I like, the Chronicles of St. Mary's by Jodi Taylor. The first book, One Damn Thing After Another, was a great story about time travel.

Just After Sunset, a book of short stories by Stephen King, always a favorite author of mine. I was already familiar with some of these stories from other sources, but was a nice re-read of those and a first time read of the others.

The King's Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi was a wonderful non-fiction book about the man who helped King George VI overcome his problem with stuttering.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love cats, so The Dalai Lama's Cat by David Michie making my 2016 favorites list will come as a surprise to no one.

The last book in the Midnight Texas series, Night Shift by Charlaine Harris makes my list of favorites. My favorite character in the book is Mr. Snuggley, the cat. I won't say anymore except that I have heard this is to be a new TV series. Please, please don't let them screw this Harris series up as much as they did True Blood.

The Wives: The Women Behind Russia's Literary Giants by Alexandra Popoff was a very good non-fiction book about the wives of Tolstoy, Dostevsky, Nabokov, Mandelstram, and several others.

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is a nice, spooky thriller. I should have read this one in October.

I began the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling alias) this month and finished the last book in August. After her huge success with Harry Potter, Rowling wrote an extremely disappointing Casual Vacancy. She used an alias for this one and it didn't take long for someone to leak that she was the actual author. Though not near as good as Harry Potter, (seriously, whatever will be?) these were a good read that I really enjoyed.

I tried listening to World War Z by Max Brooks on audio once and did not finish it. A BookObsessed friend, Marlene, gave me the ebook copy and I loved it. This was a much better read than a listen. I haven't seen the movie yet. Maybe I should set that as one of my 2017 goals.

This was the month of the BIG read, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Though I liked it, I didn't rate it with one of my all time favorites. I think it deserves a re-read.

The re-listen (and re-watch the movies) of Harry Potter began this month and continued through the rest of the summer and into the fall. These books never get old and I really enjoyed listening to the British narrator, Stephen Fry.

Lots of series reading this month. However, there was one stand alone book I read that is one of this year's favorites, The Dead Key by DM Pulley, which was a nice, scary mystery.

Another month of series reading. That is not to say that there were no books I enjoyed. If I am continuing to read a series past book 3, then that means I like it and the author is keeping the stories interesting (even if they are a plot pete and re-petes).

I started the Jennifer Estep series Black Blade this month. There are three books so far and I read all three.

I started the Haunted Guest House series by EJ Copperman. It was entertaining.

I read the second installment of the Constance Kopp series by Amy Stewart, Lady Cop Makes Trouble.  

One of my favorite books of October, was a non-fiction book that my son gave me, The Character Vault by Jody Revenson. In keeping with my re-read and re-watch of the Harry Potter series, this book was about the costuming for the movies. I loved it! I especially liked the part about the wands. I had no idea all the wands were different and made specifically for the character. *Sigh* why did my favorite wand belong to Delores Umbridge?

A re-reading of the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman in graphic novel form was a fun read this month.

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff was an interesting read. I haven't seen the movie (another of the ones that needs to go on my 2017 movies to watch list), but the cover of the book I read was from the movie. The guy that played the Danish girl is also plays Newt in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. " I am having a hard time separating him from the Danish girl, which is odd since I've never seen the movie!

I joined a "SciFi-Fantasy Challenge" online, sponsored by a friend from BookObsessed, Shaunesay. I tried listening to a sci-fi book I'd given up on the first time around because of the extremely annoying first chapter of "Daul said", "Duval said" that went on FOREVER. Well, not really, once I got past that first very long, long chapter, the rest of the book got really interesting. Redshirts was by John Scalzi and I will probably now read more by him because it turned out to be really good. Wil Wheaton narrated it (see month of November).

The Fireman by Joe Hill was a good pick for October. A nice cozy horror thriller by Stephen King's son. Joe Hill is one of my favorite authors, just like his dad.

A listen to Dracula by Bram Stoker finished out the month. A good read for Halloween's month. I read the book years ago and still love, LOVE who kills Dracula.

One of my favorite narrator of science fiction, space travel books is Wil Wheaton, the Westley Crusher of Star Trek fame. He is also the author of several books, all of which I read during November, beginning with Just a Geek, his memoir. Oh, by the way, he narrates it.

I began a trilogy, The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I really liked it and requested the next two books from the library. It is January and I just finished book 2 and am currently listening to book 3. A mini series was made from the trilogy. I have started watching it, but I'd rather read than watch TV, so I haven't gotten very far.

I started a children's series of books, How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. Children's authors get a pass on my rant about series vs. stand alone books because anything that will spark a child's interest and keep them reading is just fine in my book (pardon the pun). The book was totally different from the movie. I think I preferred the book's version over the movies, but they were both enjoyable. I read books 2 and 3 and will continue with this series as I acquire the books.

Feed by Mira Grant was a great story about the power of social media in a crisis. There are more in this series and I will probably continue reading it.

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle VanArsdale was a freebie book given to me by the book publisher. Very, very good horror book. It caught my interest early on and just got better and better as the story continued.

Well this finishes up my 2016 "Year in Review". I hope 2017 holds as many hours of fascinating reading and listening.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Challenge 2017

One of my BookObsessed friends, Shaunsay, will be hosting this challenge that will run throughout next year. I plan on trying for the Orion level, 9 to 12 books. That is about one each month. I might can handle that!

Monday, November 7, 2016

City on the Edge of Forever

City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison

Ellison spends the first 3 or 4 hours trashing Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry. The last part of the book is taken up by at least 4 different versions of the screen play of which all sound pretty much the same to me. I can believe that the original screen play won the Hugo Award, it is a great story, but this was a really lousy audiobook. I returned it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Harry Potter #7: Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling - Narrated by Stephen Fry

Ok, so I'm involved in a Sci-Fi/Fantasy award winner reading challenge and this installment of the Harry Potter series won the Andre Norton Award for best YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book of 2008. I'm amazed that all six of the other books did not win as well. I am supposed to write a review of the books I read and post them somewhere, so that is why there are suddenly so many reviews being posted on this site.

After reading the first book in the series, I devoured the other six as soon as they were published. I also listened to all seven narrated by Jim Dale, the US narrator. A discussion on one of my book message boards lead me to listening to all seven again, this time by the British narrator, Stephen Fry. Who does a better job? Hard to say. The books themselves are so good that I think any decent narrator would do a good job. Both Jim Dale and Stephen Fry are very good narrators. I enjoyed these books as much this time as I did the first time. Something different - as I finished reading a book, I'd re-watch the movie. It was fun to see the differences in the book and the movie. The last 4 books should have had 2 movies each made from them, because so much of the books had to be left out. (Does that sentence make sense?)

Deathly Hallows brings the series to an end. It ties up all the loose ends. JK Rowling is a master at dropping in something that doesn't seem that important at the time and then later on, it becomes a very big deal. I loved all of these books. I love that at the very end of this one, we get a glimpse into the lives of the characters as adults and the post-Voldemort wizarding world. I hated to see the series end, but it was time. There were not so many books that reading them got old or stale and not so many that  it would be a chore to re-read or re-listen to over and over.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

"His Majesty's Dragon" was the Hugo Award winner for 2007. I've had this book in my collection for a very long time. I think it was a first in a series special offer from Kindle a few years ago. I wonder why I waited so long to read it. This is one of my favorite reads of this year. It did give me pause when I saw there were 9 books in the series, the last one being published this year, so that probably means the author is not done. This one had a good ending so I can probably wait a while before diving into the others.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

“Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell, won the World Fantasy Award in 2015. It was also nominated for the Locus Award in the same year.

This audio book was divided into 6 sections and read by 5 different people. It is a very complex novel and I admit to having to rely on internet synopsis help occasionally. In the first part we meet Holly Sykes who is a fifteen-year-old runaway. Just as you are really getting into her story, the next section starts and then the books progressively jump ten or so years in each of the remaining five sections. Another person reads each section and all have ties to Holly. The last section is again narrated by Holly and brings all the plots and subplots together.

I got kind of bored in the middle. I am glad I stuck with it because the ending was really good. Overall, I liked the book and thought it was well worth the listen.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Nightwings by Robert Silverberg

“Nightwings” was written in three parts. The first part, “Nightwings”, was the 1969 Hugo Novella award winner. Two other parts, “Perris Way” (Paris) and “To Jorslem”(Jerusalem) were added later. 

The first part, takes place in Roum (Rome).  At a time in the far distant future, humanity has been divided into guilds, each with a specific job to do. In the first book, the Watcher travels to Roum with a guileless changing and a young, female night flyer. The Watchers job is to watch the sky for alien invasion. So much time has passed, that the Watchers are thought to be unnecessary and are not treated with much respect. While the Watcher is in Roum, the aliens strike. He sounds the alarm, but routine has gotten so lax, that the defenses fail and the aliens easily take over.

In “Perris Way”, the Watcher travels to Perris in the company of the blinded, displaced prince of Roum. The Watcher applies to become a member of the guild of remembrance since watchers are no longer needed. 

In “To Jorslem”, the Watcher makes a pilgrimage to Jorslem, where he again finds the night flyer and where he finds renewed hope and redemption. 

Robert Silverberg is the Grand Master for 2004.