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.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Rolling Stones by Robert Heinlein

The Rolling Stones by Robert Heinlein - written in 1952 is very much a book of its time. Written for Scribner’s “juvenile boys” series, it follows one family’s foray into space. The main focus is a set of teenage twin boys who seem to land in all sorts of trouble including jail on Mars. The father is a writer of television sci-fi, the mother is a doctor, there is an older sister and a baby brother. Grandma is also along for the ride. The father very much reminds me of a man of the 50’s. I was a young child in the 50s and his “I should forbid you…” to his wife and his “I send my daughter to school and she is just going to get married…” are echoes of men of the 50’s (60's & 70's) backward thinking. There is also talk of punishment with belts and a lot of people yelling at their children to “shut up”. Grandma laments that the young girl would make a wonderful pilot, but everyone is so hesitate to take on a female pilot. I have to admit, it was hard to read at times and I am so, so happy that we have moved past, or at least I hope as a society we have moved past, that way of thinking.

Robert Heinlein was the Grand Master for 1975.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

2015 Year in Review

The Numbers:

Total Books: 302
E-book: 51
Print: 20
Audiobook: 231
Total Pages: 86,506 (Estimate because I only added it once and didn't check my work !)

Again, audiobooks win the format race! I have a long drive to work and I can now listen while at work, so that will probably be the norm in 2016 as well. My print book selection went up this year, and my e-book selection went down. Go figure!

My Favorite(s) of 2015
There were two this year that I have a hard time choosing between the best, so I'm putting them both.

The first of a trilogy, I read this first book and the second "Invasion of the Tearling". I am eagerly awaiting the third book and the promised movie starring Emma Watson.

The other favorite of the year is a zombie book about children. Not my usual kind of book, but I really loved this one!

Now for the rest of the best:

I started several new series this year and continued with some old favorites.

Trouble in Mudbug series by Jana Deleon is a cute, funny, cozy mystery series. I read the first of the series in January, "Ghost Mother-in-law."

I discovered Simone St. James last year. "The Haunting of Maddy Clare", another ghost story, but a bit more serious.

Another new series I started this year was the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I also discovered "FictFact" website for keeping up with series titles. It also includes short stories and novellas. In February, I read the first book in the Lunar Chronicles, "Cinder" along with the second book in the series, "Scarlet", and several short stories in the same series.

 Joe Hill and his dad, Stephen King, both made my February list. Joe's "NOS4A2" audio narrated by Kate Mulgrew (awesome narration!) was a February favorite. "Danse Macare" by Stephen King, I also listened to on audio. I was a bit disappointed in the narration of this one. Stephen should always narrate his non-fictions. It makes them way better. I can't remember who narrated this one, but he put emphasis where emphasis was unneeded and didn't emphasis things that did.

"As You Wish" by Cary Elwe is a memoir of the filming of "Princess Bride". Needless to say, I loved it!

Lunar Chronicles "Cress" made the March list.
A sad, bittersweet memoir, "Time of My Life" by Patrick Swayze & Lisa Niemi was one of my favorites this month. Written after Patrick was diagnosed with cancer, it was a sad, joyous story of his life, his fame and his hope for the future that did not happen.
The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne is one of my favorite series. I was able to read several novellas, short stories and one novel "Tricked" this month.
"Horns" by Joe Hill makes the list. Joe is a great horror writer, every bit as good as his dad.
My sister loaned me a book a year or so ago and I just got around to reading it in May. It started a massive search for the other books in  the series and I read a whopping 8 of them before the year was out. The Puzzle Lady series by Parnell Hall, begins with "A Clue for the Puzzle Lady"  I won't list each book separately for the rest of the year, but I really enjoyed them all.
One of my favorite writing duos Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia have teamed up to write more Caster Chronicles. A spin off series is Dangerous Creatures and I read "Dangerous Deception" this month. Also, they are writing a few novellas & short stories from the Caster world and I read a couple of those this month as well.
Another cozy mystery series I began this month, Rose Gardner by Denise Grover Swank, made my favorites list beginning with "Twenty-Eight & a Half Wishes".
I started a new series by one of my favorite authors, Charlaine Harris, Midnight Texas. I listed to the first two books in the series "Midnight Crossroad" & "Day Shift". The next installment comes out soon and I can't wait !

A new series for me, Enola Holmes by Nancy Springer, is now a favorite. I managed to read all the books in the series this year. The first was "The Case of the Missing Marquess."

Nothing really stands out this month except for the Paper Magician Trilogy by Charlie Holmberg. Great trilogy beginning with "Paper Magician".

One of my favorite all time authors is Andre Norton. It had been years since I read any of her work and I have had "Three Hands for Scorpio" on my TBR shelf for years. I finally read it and it did not disappoint. I loved it.

Other than that, I read several "next" in several series I enjoy, Puzzle Lady, Haunted Home Renovation, and Elemental Assassin.

This is the month I read "The Queen of the Tearling"!

I began a new series, Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost. I read the first two books in the series this month, "Paladin Prophecy" and "Alliance".

"Still Foolin' 'Em" by Billy Crystal, possibly the best memoir I've listened to - and it should be listened to, not read.

The only thing that really stood out this month was a new short story by Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia, a companion to their Beautiful Creatures series, "The Mortal Heart."

There were also more Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne and the second book in the Queen of the Tearling series.

I revisited an old favorite "The Rowan" by Anne McCaffrey.

The rest of the month was reading more series and short stories by favorite authors. Molly Harper came out with a new book as did Susan Elizabeth Phillip - always winners with me. More stories from Beautiful Creatures, more books in the series Haunted Home Renovations, Elemental Masters, Ghost in Law, and Poor Relations. Nothing really stands out, but all enjoyable.

I revisited another series I love from my first reading years ago. This time, I listened in audio, the Last Herald Mage series by Mercedes Lackey. I finished up several series Enola Holmes, Poor Relations, and Mortal Instruments.

A new series for me, Colors of Madeleine by Jaclyn Moriarty makes the favorites list.

Two stand alone books, "March" by Geraldine Brooks and "Sea Hearts" by Margo Lanagan were audios I received free last summer from AudioBookSync. Both were outstanding.

That finishes 2015. Now on to greater adventures in 2016!