Sunday, 31 January 2016

First Post of 2016 - January Reading Summary

My goodness! It's already 31 Jan 2016 and this is the first time I've posted anything in 2016. I'm enjoying my retirement much too much. And I'm not complaining. So for my first post of 2016, I'm going to take this opportunity to how I've done in my first month of the year. Looking over my summary, I'm pretty satisfied so far, especially with the total number of books read. In my Goodread's Challenge, I put down 100 books as the number I had hoped to finish this year and I think I'm off to a pretty good start. So without further ado, here is my summary -

Goodread's Challenge - 11 of 100 completed

Total pages - (I'm including a book I haven't finished yet as I had anticipated it would take up to two or three months to finish, that being The Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft, which is 800+ pages. In Jan, I managed to read about half of the short stories to a total of 350 pages) Total 3,341 pages

Page Breakdown -
        < 250 - 6
250 - 350 -   4
351 - 450 -   1
451+ -          1

Author Gender (I won't include Lovecraft in this total as I haven't finished)
Male - 7
Female - 4

Mystery - 7
Travel - 1
Horror - 1
Fantasy - 1
Science Fiction - 1

My 5 - star read
3 star - 5
4 star - 5
5 star - 1

12 + 4 Reading Group Challenge (3 of 16 finished, one ongoing)

Stolen by Kelley Armstrong - 3.5 stars
"The second book in the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong, again featuring female werewolf, Elena Michaels. In this book we meet many other magical species; witches, demons, sorcerers, etc. Elena is captured by a group that are keeping a variety of species in an underground camp; to experiment and observe them. Throw in a psycho boss who also likes to hunt the various inmates and a doctor who craves the feeling of power that she thinks a werewolf might bring and you've got an interesting tale. Elena is a bit wimpy (weak anyway) in this story, but then again she is a prisoner. But when it comes to the crunch, she acts quickly and mercilessly, with the help of her the Pack and other magical beings. It wasn't perfect but I do think I'll continue to read this series. I have the next one on my bookshelf."

Until the Night by Giles Blunt - 4 stars
"I don't know if this is my favourite John Cardinal police mystery but it is still an excellent, tense, well-written mystery/ thriller. It is often very gritty and has excellent tension. I've liked the development of John Cardinal, a Canadian police detective from Algonquin (read North Bay) Bay, Ontario and of his partner Lise Delorme. Their relationship develops further in this story, with many ups and downs. The story is somewhat convoluted, alternating between two ongoing cases and with the thread of a story from the past, that seems unrelated to everything taking place in Algonquin Bay, but ultimately, these diverse threads intertwine very nicely and satisfyingly. Giles Blunt has proven himself to be an excellent mystery/ thriller writer. I highly recommend."

A Judgment of Dragons by Phyllis Gotlieb - 4 stars
"Canadian writer/ poet, Phyllis Gotlieb has written some of my favourite SciFi stories, especially Sunburst. A Judgment of Dragons contains four short stories featuring the giant red cats from the planet Ungruwarkh, the male, Kreng and his telepathic mate, Prandra. Unfortunately, the first story, Son of Morning, was also contained in another book of short stories I'd already read, Son of Morning and Other Stories, but it was still nice to be reintroduced to Prandra and Kreng with that story and then to continue with three other stories featuring the irrepressible pair; The King's Dogs, Nebuchadnezzar and A Judgment of Dragons. The four stories could just as easily have been one novel as the stories follow on one after the other as the two cats go to Gal Three (AKA Earth) so Prandra can learn to use her esp powers better and they can obtain assistance from the Federation in helping the planet Ungruwarkh become more self sufficient. Prandra and Kreng are wonderful characters, grumpy, loving and just fun to read about. Each story is almost a mystery, as the two find themselves in situations that need resolution. The supporting cast; Espinoza, an esp brain who accompanies the in the first story, Kinnear, a blunt security official in the 2nd and 4th stories and others, are all excellent as well. The stories were very enjoyable and just added to my love of Gotlieb's writing. Check her out."

I currently part way through my 4th book in this challenge and should finish early in February, that being The Moche Warrior by Lyn Hamilton, the 3rd Lara McClintoch archaeological mystery.

2016 Individual Challenges

SciFi/ Fantasy/ Dystopia/ Horror - I'm hoping to read 12 books in this challenge. I haven't completed any yet, but am about half way through the Necronomicon and will be starting Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry in February.

Classics (Pre-1900) - I hope to finish 4 books in this challenge and, once again, haven't finished any yet. However I have started The Monk, a Gothic romance by Matthew Gregory Lewis. It was originally published in 1796.

Ongoing Series - I'm hoping to read between 40 - 50 books in this category as I've got so very many series on the go and still to start. So far I've read 4 books in this category so I'm well on the way.

The Walkers of Dembley by M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin #4) (3 stars)
"This is the fourth Agatha Raisin mystery and it was a nice, light, fun read, as were the others. Agatha returns to her cottage in the Cotswolds after spending a joyless time back in the city working as a PR agent. Even though successful, she realises that being in London brings out the worst in her and she is happy to return to Carsley. Immediately she is caught up in trying to help solve a murder of an obnoxious Rambler from a nearby town, Dembley. Her neighbour, James, agrees to help her and they head off to Dembley, pretending to be a married couple who want to join the Walkers of Dembley. Poor Agatha is a bundle of mixed emotions; does she love James, does he love her, all the time trying to figure out who the murderer is. A comfort, easy read, but as always very entertaining. 3 stars."

Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdette (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #2) (4 stars)
"This is the 2nd book in the Sonchai Jitpleecheep police series, set in Bangkok, Thailand. The first book, Bangkok 8 was excellent and this follow-up was just as good. The story is a rambling mystery, starting off with the discovery of the body of a CIA agent, who has been mutilated. Sonchai and his boss, Colonel Vikorn, work to protect the prostitute who was with the body. The story wanders through the underworld of Thailand, with Sonchai meeting with CIA agents, Muslim 'terrorists', the Yakuza and many others as he tries to solve the murder. There were nice surprises throughout and the story and the characters and the locale are all so interesting. Well worth following Sonchai on his journey to solve this case."

Trent's Last Case by E.C. Bentley (Phillip Trent #1) (4 stars)
"Trent's Last Case was the first book by EC Bentley in the Trent series, which only consisted of 3 books, the other two being Trent's Own Case and a book of short stories. The book is dedicated to his friend, GK Chesterton, who wrote The Man Who Was Thursday. Trent is an artist and sometime contributor to The Record, when requested by the owner. In this instance he is asked to investigate an interesting murder/ suicide of a rich American living in England to see if he can ascertain the culprit. The books moves along at a somewhat sedate pace, taking the time to introduce characters and the outline of the case; the victim, his associates, including his wife and others and to allow Trent the opportunity to conduct his investigation. I liked the pace, the writing style and the investigation. There were nice little surprises, both in solving the case and the ultimate ending. Written in 1913, it still seems valid and not at all outdated. I enjoyed very much."

Death on the Downs by Simon Brett (Fethering #2) (3.5 stars)
"This is the 2nd book in Simon Brett's Fethering mysteries, featuring amateur sleuths, Carole Seddon and her neighbour, Jude. I liked this one more than the first; Brett has found his way now that he's got over the introduction phase of the series. The characters are familiar and interesting and the case was also enjoyable. Carole finds a cache of human remains while taking shelter from a walk on the Sussex Downs. This starts an investigation into possible suspects by the two friends, which ultimately leads to threats on Carole's life. Well-paced and most entertaining and I'm looking forward to reading more in the Fethering series and also giving a start to Brett's Charles Paris and Mrs. Pargeter series as well."

Non-Fiction - I hope to read about 6 books in this category; travel, biography, history. So far I've completed one of six.

The Lawless Roads by Graham Greene (3.5 stars)
"I've been exploring more of Graham Greene's work the past few years and I enjoy his writing very much. This book is the second of his non-fiction works that I've read. Written originally in 1939, the story follows Greene as he explores Mexico, especially the Chiapas and Tabasco regions, in the wake of the destruction of the Catholic churches and teachings by the Mexican rulers. At the time of this visit, the Mexican government is also in the process of nationalising the petroleum industry, making life uncomfortable for gringos. Greene travels through a primitive, backward region by plane and donkey. I enjoy his observations of the people and life and admire his spirit. I found the memoir kind of lost its way as he came to the end and headed back to England, but overall found the story quite interesting."

One Book Per Decade Challenge - I've started this challenge at 1900, continuing on to the present, which ends up being 12 books. So far I've completed 3.

1900 - 1909 - The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker (3 stars)
"I bought this because one of my Goodread club members had read it and not really being aware of any others of Bram Stoker's books, besides Dracula, I got a copy to try it out. I was a bit underwhelmed. The story is supposedly the inspiration for today's Mummy movies. Basically, it deals with the acquisition of a number of articles, including a sarcophagus, ancient jewels and many other items from a crypt in The Valley of the Sorcerers in Egypt. The story starts in London with an attack on the man who possesses the articles, one Abel Trelawny, that leaves him in a coma. A group of people, including Trelawny's daughter, Mr. Ross, her beau and others gather to find the cause and to help if at all possible. The story is a Gothic horror but at times the horror is so nebulous as to be unidentifiable. There is a bit too much theorising and discussion for me, at times, and the ending is a bit sudden. Still, to read a story from Bram Stoker that I was totally unaware of until a couple of years ago and to experience his style was worth the read. (3.5 stars)"

1930 - 1939 - An Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer (5 stars)
"A most enjoyable mystery, my first by Heyer and I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a cozy mystery, involving the murder of a cantankerous man, unloved by pretty well everybody associated with him. Inspector Harding is called down from Scotland Yard to investigate and ultimately solves the crime. I liked his character very much and also that of his plodding Sgt. There were also other characters I liked very much, especially Miss Fawcett. No reliance on fancy CSI-type technology, basically interviews and following up on questions, but so totally satisfying of a story. The ending was also satisfying and had a little twist I didn't really see coming. Not a book I'll think about for years to come, but just a perfect, enjoyable read. Always nice to discover a new author that you want to read more of."

1940 - 1949 - The Trojan Horse by Hammond Innes (4 stars)
"This was my first Hammond Innes thriller and I enjoyed very much. In some ways it reminded me of John Buchan's John Hannay thrillers. In this story, a barrister, Andrew Kilmartin, becomes involved in espionage/ intrigue that has the potential to give the Nazis a technological advantage that might help them win the war in the skies over Britain. Trying to help an Austrian scientist avoid Nazi spies who are seeking his designs for a new, improved aircraft engine, he finds himself travelling across Britain and seeking to escape from imprisonment by these same spies. There is political intrigue in the highest levels of the English government and industry, non-stop, well-paced action and a super ending. I enjoyed this very much."

So there you have it, my January 2016 summary. I hope the rest of the year is as productive. Yard work might have to suffer.. Have a great February!
Related Posts with Thumbnails