Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Oct 2016 Reading Summary

It's difficult to believe that it's already the end of October. Two months left in my reading year. I guess that's one way of looking at it. At the start of the year, I guesstimated that I'd read 100 books this year as my Goodreads challenge. I severely under-estimated. I guess retirement has given me much more time to read than I thought. And I'm not complaining. I've pretty well met all of my other challenges. In November, I'll finish off my Mystery group 12 + 4 challenge as I'm taking my final 3 books on my short trip to see my Dad. The only other ongoing challenge is my attempt to read as many books from all of the various series I've got on the go. I never set a top limit on that one so it's basically open-ended. At any rate, I'm pleased with the books I've read so far this year and I'm looking forward to seeing what else I finish before the end of December. I've also started thinking of my 2017 challenges. I've got a few ideas, thinking I'll try to simplify somewhat next year. But, then again, who knows? What a life!! :0)

Now onwards and upwards, my summary of my October reading.

                                    Oct             Sub-Total      Total
Books Read                  9                      116             125
Pages                          4,025               34,450        38,475

Pages Breakdown
       <  250                    2                          51              53
250 -  350                     4                          30              34
351 -  450                     1                          18              19
       > 450                     2                          17              19

Author Gender
Female                          5                          33              38
Male                             4                           83              87

5 - star                          2                           15              17
4 - star                          2                           62              64
3 - star                          5                           39              44

Fiction                         1                            19              20
Mystery                       3                            52              55
SciFi                            5                            28              33
Non-Fic                       0                              8                8
Humour                       0                              3                3
Classics                       0                              6                6

Top Three Books

1. Kate Atkinson - Behind the Scenes at the Museum

"What a beautiful, wonderful, funny, sad, lovely novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum is. The novel was the debut for Kate Atkinson. I'd already read a couple of her Jackson Brodie mysteries and enjoyed them very much. While this novel displayed her wonderful story - telling abilities, it is so different.
Basically it is the history of a family, as told by Ruby Lennox. It follows Ruby and her sisters as they grow up in York, England but also tracks back to her descendants; her mother, Bunty's parents and grand-parents and Bunty's siblings. That's the story at its simplest.
Atkinson tells it so wonderfully, filling each page with beautifully crafted scenes and events. Some are so funny, like the family road trip to Scotland, which had me laughing out loud. Some are desperately sad, such as Edmund's last minutes in a bomber over Germany. You feel each and every little story within the larger context of Ruby's growing up. After each couple of chapters, there are footnotes, where we meet the descendants, Edmund, Lillian, Lawrence, etc.
I found myself asking my wife, who is from England, what various references were; TV shows that Ruby watched, toys they played with, etc. Not crucial to enjoying the story, but they still added that additional texture. It's a family with secrets, as I imagine most families are, and they all tie together by the end. There are neat little path crossings of characters throughout the story and by the end, some revelations that will complete the whole story.
I found myself running through the whole gamut of emotions; anger at times, sadness, happiness. I found myself chuckling at bits and having to read those portions to the missus. At the end, even as it wound up satisfactorily, I felt an ache in my heart and had to get a big hug. Wonderful story of family history, in the same vein as some of my other favourites, like The Poisonwood Bible, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, To Kill a Mockingbird and The World According to Garp. So glad I read it finally.  I will continue reading the Jackson Brodie mysteries and her other standalone books. Atkinson is a great author. (5 stars)"

2. Dean Koontz - Odd Thomas

"I've read a couple of other Dean Koontz books before, quite a few years ago actually and I enjoyed them, but at the time my favourite horror author was Stephen King so I never really got into his work. Recently I started hearing good things about the Odd Thomas series so I decided to try the first book, oddly enough (get it?) Odd Thomas.
What an excellent book! I love the character of Odd Thomas, the short order cook who can see dead people and gets involved trying to help them. I also liked the characters who make up his unique and interesting friends; lovely Stormy Llewellyn (his soul mate), Little Oswald, his friend who encourages Odd to write this story; Chief Porter, who is a father figure and who believes in Odd's talents and uses them while protecting Odd; and Terri Stambaugh, his boss and Elvis Presley aficionado.
Odd meets a stranger in town and gets a weird vibe off him. Demonic creatures, bodachs, start to swarm around the town and Odd gets a feeling that something bad is going to happen. The story moves along at a nice pace as Odd investigates the stranger to find out what evil he is plotting. There is a skilfully crafted tension that grows and grows. I found icy fingers crawling up and down my back in certain scenes. Such an excellent story and a surprising ending that left me feeling quite bereft. I'm so glad that I finally started this series. I look forward with anticipation to continuing a journey with Odd Thomas."

3. Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Played with Fire

"The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second book in the Lisbeth Salander series. I've had it on my bookshelf for a couple of years and I'm glad that I finally dusted it off. Lisbeth, after the events of the first book, has left Sweden and spent the last couple of years travelling around the world. We find her in Grenada, still keeping tabs on events in Sweden and also on a troublesome man who has some sort of secrets. Back in Sweden, Blomquist is working with a young journalist and his wife to publish a book and series of articles in his magazine, Millennium, about the Swedish sex industry. This will cause problems for many people; police, politicians, etc. Lisbeth returns to Sweden to make contact with people that she left behind on her departure and also to check up on the lawyer, Bjurman, who had abused her when she was a young teenager and who she holds under her thumb now.
Her return will instigate a series of events, murders that will threaten Lisbeth's life and those of her friends. The story is told very matter-of-factly but holds your interest. So many people involved in the investigation of the murders; for which Lisbeth is the main suspect. The police include some who hate Lisbeth and want to bring her down, others with more open minds. You will reconnect with Armansky, her old boss who wants to try and help her. As well, Blomquist who trusts her implicitly, also works to solve the murders and to prove Lisbeth's innocence. Of course, you also have Lisbeth, such an interesting character, smart, troubled, independent. There are some nice surprises in this second story and an exciting ending. I will have to get the third book and see what else Lisbeth becomes involved with. It's a long story, but doesn't seem long. (4 stars)

October, being Halloween month, I focused on Horror stories. Including Odd Thomas, I also enjoyed-

- The Fog by James Herbert my other 4-star read;
- The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman (based on the TV series, an introduction to the Governor)
- The Mist in the Mirror, a classic ghost story from Susan Hill, and
- The Bird's Nest, a psychological horror story from Shirley Jackson.

I also have been working through Under the Dome by Stephen King. I'm enjoying it, but it's so long, I won't be able to finish until November.

Other than that, I finished two mysteries-

- China Lake, the first Evan Delaney thriller by Meg Gardiner, and
- The Secret Adversary, the first Tommy and Tuppence mystery from Agatha Christie.

For November, I plan to continue working through series, with some other books thrown in. I'm starting off the month, trying to finish Under the Dome and will take the following with me on my upcoming trip -

- The Tiger in the Smoke, an Albert Campion mystery by Margery Allingham,
- The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun,  and
- The Dragon Man, an Australian mystery by Gary Disher

So there you go. If I have time tomorrow, I'll do an October purchase update. Otherwise, will do so on my return. Enjoy November!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails