Sunday, 9 September 2012

A review and look to the future..

A Clash of Kings

It's now September and the months have flown by. So far this year I've managed to finish 57 books, so I'm well on my way to completing my Goodreads aim of reading 75 books. I'm currently reading the second book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series, A Clash of Kings. As well, the missus and I have been watching series 2 of A Game of Thrones which encompasses this novel for the most part. Unfortunately, at the moment, we've lost access to the series. At any rate, I'm enjoying this book, the whole series and the TV mini-series immensely. I think I'll try and read the 3rd of the series before year - end. It's a fascinating world that has been created; the characters are interesting and the setting is well-crafted and presented. There are so many strong female characters and that is something I always enjoy. Martin has a superb imagination to craft this world of swords, magic, kings and wars.

Six Suspects

My upstairs book at the moment is Vikas Swarup's Six Suspects. Swarup also wrote Q&A, a story that was turned into the successful movie, Slum Dog Millionaire. This book is a mystery set in India. A noted gangster from a powerful family, who has gotten away with murder and other crimes, is murdered at a party he has at his Villa to celebrate getting off a murder charge. Six suspects are arrested from the party. The story revolves around these six disparate characters; a politician, a movie star, an American and others. I'm finding the development of these characters very interesting; what leads them to attend the party and why they should hate Vicky Rai so much. When I finish this book, I will have completed my 12 + 2 challenge for 2012. Six Suspects was my second alternate of the +2. It's been a very interesting challenge; I'm quite happy with the books I chose for the challenge and they made the year quite interesting and enjoyable.

Individual Reading Group Challenge 2012. 

The Coroner's Lunch

In this challenge, I wanted to read as many Mystery/ Spy/ Thriller authors from my To Be Read (TBR) shelves working my way alphabetically from A - Z. So far this year I've completed 27 authors and have worked my way into the D's. My last book was Len Deighton's The Ipcress File, which I enjoyed but I think I expected more than it delivered. Some of my particular favourites this year have been Swedish writer Karin Alvtegen Shadow, English writer Mark Billingham Buried, an early spy novel from John Le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and a new author for me, Colin Cotterill, who introduced me to Laotian Coroner, Dr Siri Paiboun in The Coroner's Lunch, a wonderful mystery. The characters were great, the story well-crafted and the setting exotic and fascinating. It made me feel the same excitement for a new author as did Alexander McCall Smith when I read the first book of the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series. I plan to continue with this challenge to year's end and will probably continue from where I leave off in 2013. Next in line are A.C. Doyle's A Study in Scarlet and John Dunning's The Sign of the Book.

Favourite Books so far in 2012

The Rebel Angels

So far this year my favourite books have been -

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This was a nice surprise by a new author for me.
The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill. I mentioned this above. I've got others in this series to read. So looking forward to it.
HMS Ulysses by Alistair MacLean. I've been re-reading his books; they were childhood favourites. This is an excellent war story.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré. Great classic spy thriller by one of the best.
The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies. The first book in the Cornish trilogy. Loved its intelligence, its wit.
Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury. I mentioned this in my previous Blog on my Top Ten Non-Fiction novels. A lovely surprise.

What About the Rest of this Year?

In a general sense, I plan to continue my Individual Reading Group Challenge. I think with three and a half months left in the year I should at a minimum be able to read 15 more books. I currently have two books on the go. I also have a Genre Challenge to complete this month, the theme being Chemical Fiction. I had planned to read Daphne du Maurier's The House on the Strand, an old favourite. Instead I think I'll read a new book, Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly. Next month will be Self-Help novels, that being the final category remaining in the Genre challenge theme. (I think the plan is to start afresh after we complete the last, maybe adding some new genres). At any rate, I'm not sure what books I may even have on the shelves that would even fit the category. I am thinking I may try Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point.

As to other books that I might read for the rest of the year, well, let's see. Here a few thoughts.

Mysteries/ Adventure

Next in line I've got
Arthur Conan Doyle's - A Study in Scarlet
John Dunning's - The Sign of the Book (a Cliff Janeway novel)
P.N. Elrod's - The Dark Sleep (Vampire files)
Janet Evanovich's - Seven Up
Elizabeth Ferrar's - The Crime and the Crystal


George R.R. Martin's - A Storm of Swords
Evelyn Waugh's - Men at Arms
Kurt Vonnegut's - Dead-Eye Dick and
Harry Turtledove's - In the Presence of Mine Enemies

I'm hoping that I can finish all of them and maybe have room for one or two more before year end.

Next Year (2013)

I have started thinking about my 2013 Reading Group Challenge, the 12 + 2. I've got a couple of ideas how I might proceed.

The simple way is to choose 12 varied novels (+2) like I did this year. That would be a mix of fiction (all styles; war, mystery, SciFi, etc) and non-fiction. Some ideas that present themselves immediately;

1. Kate Atkinson - One Good Turn
2. J.G. Ballard - Hello America
3. Iain Banks - Excession
4. Susan Orlean - Rin Tin Tin, The Life and Legend
5. Simon Brett - Witness at the Wedding
6. Eugene Burdick - Fail Safe
7. Colin Clark - My Week with Marilyn
8. Stephen Clarke - 1000 Years of Annoying the French
9. George Elliot - Daniel Deronda
10. Jenny White - The Sultan's Seal
11. Nevil Shute - The Chequer Board
12. Howard Pyle - The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
Alt 1 - Hans Helmut Kirst - Last Stop Camp 7
Alt 2 - D.H. Lawrence - Lady Chatterley's Lover

Another option was to use one of my compatriot's ideas from this year and that would be to read a book from each decade, starting with 1880, finishing with the 2010's.  had a few ideas there

1880 - Louisa May Alcott  - Jo's Boys
1890 - Thomas Hardy - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
1900 - Arthur Conan Doyle - The Return of Sherlock Holmes
1910 - Edgar Rice Burroughs - The Mad King
1920 - Nevil Shute - So Disdained
1930 - Graham Greene - A Gun for Sale
1940 - Agatha Christie - N or M?
1950 - Pierre Boulle - Bridge on the River Kwai
1960 - Robert E. Howard - King Kull
1970 - VS Naipaul - Guerrillas
1980 - Robertson Davies - What's Bred in the Bone
1990 - Bill Bryson - Notes from a Small Island
2000 - Bernard Cornwell - Sharpe's Havoc
2010 - Stephen Fry - The Fry Chronicles

Of course that's just a few ideas. I'm still not sure what to do, but I've got to December to think more about it.. Lots of fun!

Anyway, have a great day and remember Keep on Reading!

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