Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Feb 2016 Reading Summary

Another month has passed and we're into March. It's started with steady rain and as I look out the window in the den, yup, still raining. I guess the missus and I will enjoy a cozy day indoors. At least here is footie on the television.

It's that time to take a look back at the past months and see how my Reading Challenges are progressing. Without further ado, here we go.

Goodread's Challenge - 8 books completed in Feb for a total of 19 out of 100. (I'll probably include Necronomicon in this group as I started in Jan but it was so long that I read most of it in February.)

Total Pages - My February total was 2,743 pages and overall in 2016 I've read 6,085.

Page Breakdown -
        < 250  1
250 - 350    4
351 - 450    1
       > 451   2

Author Gender (I didn't include HP Lovecraft in Jan so I will for Feb)
Male - 6
Female - 2

Mystery - 2
Horror - 2
Classic - 1
Fiction - 1
Humour - 1
SciFi - 1

5-star  - 2
4-star -  3
3-star -  3

12 + 4 Reading Group Challenge (completed 6 of 16 overall) - This is my Canadian author challenge.

The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by W.P. Kinsella (3 stars)

"Basically this is a baseball fantasy by the author whose Shoeless Joe became the movie, Field of Dreams (which I liked very much). Like Field of Dreams, this deals with an obsession, both a father and, later on, his son, trying to find proof of a fabled month long baseball game between the 1906 Chicago Cubs (remember Tinker to Evers to Chance) and an all-star team of minor-leaguers from the Iowa Baseball Confederacy. However, as much as father and son believe in this game, there is no proof of either the Iowa Baseball Confederacy or the game. This obsession rules both of their lives and affects their relationships. The second half of the book deals with the game; this is the fantasy, as the author and his friend are able to transit from the present to the past to watch and take part in the game. I liked the writing style, but overall, was kind of disappointed with this story. The never-ending game became a bit of a never-ending story. I'm glad I read, but it wasn't as good as I had hoped. Unfortunate."

The Moche Warrior by Lyn Hamilton (3 stars)

"This is the 3rd book I've read in the Lara McClintoch archaeological mystery series. This story finds Lara rushing off to Peru to try and solve incidents that occurred in Toronto; a fire in her antique shop, an assault on her shop assistant and two murders. I did have some difficulties with the beginning of the book; why would Lara run off and leave her assistant/ friend in the hospital and leave her partner in the lurch without really any word. But once the story got rolling, it was an entertaining read. Maybe a bit far-fetched, but ultimately, a satisfying story. The characters were interesting and the archaeological information not to complicated, just enough to make it interesting. I have a few others in this series on my book shelves and will continue to follow Lara around the world."

Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood (5 stars). This was definitely my favourite book of the month.

"It's been a long while between reading the first two books in this trilogy; Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Looking back at my reviews, I can see I didn't write much in those days. I think I was somewhat disappointed with the 2nd book, Year of the Flood, but isn't that often the way with the 2nd books of trilogies? So what did I think of MaddAddam? Well, to put it simply, I loved it and even shed a tear or two at the end. It was a fantastic finish to this journey of a group of people trying to survive the end of the world (basically anyway, as the gist is that Crake caused a virus to sweep through the world and kill off most of mankind). This story is written by Toby, one of those wonderful characters you meet in the best of books, a strong woman, trying to survive, to help keep her group together and help it build up humanity once again. The story itself contains stories within stories; Zeb, her lover, telling Toby of his life and how he got to where they now find themselves; and Toby, taking on the story-telling roll of Snowman-the-Jimmy to the new race, the Crakes. As well, this mixed group of humans, Crakes and, even the Pigoons (mutant pigs) must try to prevent the Painballers (a group of psychotic killers) from hurting them anymore. I loved the characters, Toby being my favourite, but also Zeb, Ren, Blackbeard and so many others. It's a heartfelt story and gets better as it moves along. Hoping I don't ruin it, but the ending is positive although with some sadness. I left it with a happy, hopeful mood. Definitely worth 5 stars."

2016 Individual Challenges

SciFi/ Fantasy/ Dystopia/ Horror - I finished my first two books in this challenge in February. I hope to ultimately read at least 12 books.

Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft (5 stars) - I started this book in January. It contains a series of Lovecraft's short stories and novellas. It's a long read, and overall I enjoyed very much.

"An excellent collection of the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, from Dagon, originally published in 1919 to The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, 1943. There are themes throughout, the Old Ones, the area of Arkham, Mass, the Miskatonic University, the Cthulu, etc. The stories are creepy, more so than outright terrifying, but still, leave you feeling nervous and chilled. Some are excellent; the Mountains of Madness, The Dunwich Horror, the Haunter of the Dark, the Thing on the Doorstep. Excellent to be provided the opportunity to explore Lovecraft's worlds and stories under one book. "

Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (4 stars)

"This was my first experience with Jonathan Maberry and I was very pleased with the story, lots of tension, scary, creepiness and it was very well-written. Frustrated that it left me hanging and now having to look for the 2nd book. I can see why I've read so many good comments about his writing. It reminds me of many of the Stephen King books I enjoyed so many years ago, like It and Desperation.. I liked the good characters very much, Crow, Val and Mike; hated the bad characters very much and want bad things to happen to them. Crow runs a craft-type store that becomes a favourite store for creepy Hallowe'en stuff for Pine Deep residents during that season. He also runs the Hallowe'en rides in the corn fields outside town and gets great joy making them scarier and scarier. Pine Deep has a scary past; a serial killer who was killed by the Bone Man, but, as we discover, isn't really dead. Add a new killer to the mix and various followers of the old evil and you've got a very scary story. I will have to find the next book now... Dead Man's Song"

Classics (pre-1900)  - I hope to read 4 books in this challenge and in February finished my first.
The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis (3 stars)

"A strange sort of story originally written in 1796. I'm not sure if it's indicative of the time. If you read the preface, it might lead you to believe that the book isn't worth reading. But ultimately, I found it an interesting story, a Gothic novel about forbidden love, rape, murder, incest and with some supernatural elements. It wanders a bit as each person's story is related but, at the same time, it moves along quite nicely. I admit that I scrolled over the verses and songs. It definitely is a dark story. Am I glad that I read it? I'll say yes. Judge for yourself if you can find a copy."

Ongoing Series - I hope to read 40 or 50 books in this challenge as I've so many series on the go or awaiting my first attempt. I finished one more in February, bringing my overall total to 5)
Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter (Chief Inspector Morse #1) (4 stars)

"This is the first in the Inspector Morse series and introduces us to Morse and Sgt Lewis, who joins Morse for the first time in this book. I've been watching the TV Series based on the books, and oddly enough, this was the 5th in the TV series. Morse is much like he is in the TV series, although there are also some differences, his looks, his car, etc. I enjoyed the mystery, the pacing and how Morse goes about solving the crime. He still likes his beer and his women. Excellent introduction to the series. I'm glad I've started both the TV Series and now the book series."

Book-per-Decade Challenge - I've read 4 books in this challenge. I've discovered that I am now repeating a decade with one of my current reads so we'll see how that affects my overall totals at year-end. I finished one book, covering the period1950 - 59 in Feb)
The Terror of St Trinian's by Ronald Searle (4 stars)

"I enjoyed this book very much, the humour, the drawings and the story. St Trinian's were originally a cartoon series, featuring a nasty girl's school in England where the girls were armed and dangerous. There were a number of books and also a number of movies. The plot of this story, The Terror of St Trinian's doesn't really matter, but basically, it's a competition between gang leader, one Angela Menace and Head Girl, Chloe Languish, over the rights to handsome Board of Education inspector, Rupert Rover. It was one of those unique books that I just found by accident, but there were laugh out loud moments and many chuckles. I will have to try and find the other books in this series, if even just for the excellent drawings. It was fun to read."

Non-Fiction - I didn't complete any books in this challenge in February so remain at 1 of 4 completed. We'll see how March goes but there is lots of time left in the year.

So there you go, my totals for February. It started off a bit slow but I did manage to get into a bit of a flow. Always helps when the books are interesting. I've got 4 books on the go at the moment and am enjoying them all so far. I'll report on them at the end of March. Just want to keep you on tenterhooks.

Have a great March and keep on reading.

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