Divinenanny's 100-ish in 2014

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Divinenanny's 100-ish in 2014

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Editado: Jan 13, 2014, 2:55 pm

Every year I take part in the 100-books-in-20## challenge (see my 2013 thread here). I will again in 2014, but like every year, I am going to try to give myself a couple of extra goals. So, for 2014, my reading resolutions are:

  • Read more non-SF (or fantasy or horror) from the List*, let's say 20 books. SFF/Horror is always my go-to genre, even though I know I like stepping out of my comfort zone and read 'regular' fiction.

  • Read more Dutch books (originally written in the Dutch language). A ex-colleague gave me a link to the "Ik lees Nederlands (2014)" challenge, and I am committed to read 10 originally Dutch works. I am going to try to read 'classics', mainly because I never did in high-school ;).

  • Read of my shelf. Of course I am going to gather more books in the new year, I could never stop buying books. But I also bought a lot of great books in the last couple of years. I should at least read 30 of those.

  • Read a series. In 2013 I read The Malazan Book of the Fallen, a 10-part series of 1000+ page books. At a book a month that was pretty doable, and very enjoyable. I want to do this again this year. I have Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series on my shelf, but also Weis & Hickman's Death Gate Cycle.

  • Read more classics (pre-1900). They are special, enjoyable but take a bit more work. I know I like them, so maybe I should read them.

  • Read some non-fiction. I used to love to read non-fiction (mainly history), but I never take the time anymore. I'm going to try to read at least 5 this year.

I'm thinking that I might make an extra collection (To Read in 2014) to keep track of my reading resolutions, because otherwise they'll end up where all good resolutions end up...

I'm adding the Random House reading bingo to my goals (image is a link to my bingo page):

* The List is a spreadsheet I made in 2013 of award winners, award nominees (or shortlisted novels) and must-read lists. Every mention gets one (nominated) or two (winner or must-read list) points. This way I have gathered 5031 books that are supposedly great reads (better than the other books published that year). The awards and lists I chose are those I respect or know I like.

PS, There's bound to be some overlap in categories, but I am going to try not to cheat my own resolutions by using the same book in multiple categories until the end of the year ;)

Dez 27, 2013, 11:11 am


Dez 28, 2013, 4:21 am

Huzzah! Looking forward to more reviews of classic sci-fi in 2014!

Editado: Dez 29, 2013, 2:46 pm

Thanks guys! I updated my starter-post with some resolutions! But no worries, Wookiebender, I'll still be reading classic SF, I love it!

Dez 30, 2013, 10:59 pm

I like your concept of The List! Mine would get a bit out of control though, I'm a bit of a sucker for an award. :)

Dez 31, 2013, 5:58 am

And you think 5000+ books is not out of control? Yikes! ;)

PS, just found a new source of (just 10) books, "The Radium Age Science Fiction Series" of SF books published between 1904-1933.

Dez 31, 2013, 10:46 am

*grins* hi there! I just have to say I'm a (scuba) diver and everytime I see your thread I read 'divenanny' and I get this Mary Poppins in dive gear pic in my head... Kopfkino XD

Jan 1, 2014, 8:50 am

Haha, that is the best misinterpretation of my SN that I've ever heard ;) And I love that mental image!

Editado: Fev 3, 2014, 6:48 am

Read more non-SF (or fantasy or horror) from the List (20 books)
1. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (10-01-2014) ***--
2. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (13-01-2014 / 18-01-2014) ****-
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (24-01-2014 / 26-01-2014) ****-
4. Complicity by Iain Banks (26-01-2014 / 27-01-2014) ****-

Editado: Fev 3, 2014, 6:49 am

Read more Dutch books (originally written in the Dutch language). (10 books)
1. Het diner by Herman Koch (19-01-2014 / 20-01-2014) *****

Editado: Fev 3, 2014, 6:52 am

Read of my shelf. (Books bought before 2014, year in brackets is year bought) (30 books)
1. (2013) De terugkeer van Zij by H. Rider Haggard (01-01-2014 / 04-01-2014) ****-
2. (2013) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (04-01-2014 / 05-01-2014) ****-
3. (2012) A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (05-01-2014 / 10-01-2014) ****-
4. (2013) Winner Takes All by Jacqueline Rayner (18-01-2014 / 19-01-2014) ****-
5. (2013) Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (19-01-2014 / 20-01-2014) ****-
6. (2013) Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont (27-01-2014 / 01-02-2014) ***--
7. (2013) Dracula Unbound by Brian W. Aldiss (01-02-2014 / 02-02-2014) ***--

Editado: Fev 3, 2014, 6:46 am

Read a series. (no clue how many books until I found a series)

Found one: The Death Gate Cycle
1. Drakevleugel/Dragon Wing by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (21-01-2014 / 23-01-2014) ***--

Editado: Jan 6, 2014, 8:29 am

Read more classics (pre-1900). (5 books)
1. The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith (01-01-2014) ***--

Editado: Jan 13, 2014, 10:19 am

Read some non-fiction. (5 books)
1. Dry Store Room No. 1 by Richard Fortey (11-01-2014 / 12-01-2014) ***--

Editado: Jan 3, 2014, 2:57 pm

Happy New Year Sara & good luck with your 2014 reading challenges. I look forward to following you. ..........so organized........... Your thread looks great!

Jan 5, 2014, 10:46 pm

I have spreadsheets galore. Every list that sounds interesting is included. Then I highlight all those that I have read. Then I intend to read all the others on said lists. Then I find another list. . . .

Jan 6, 2014, 5:57 am

LOL, I think we may all have list problems. In particular, an obsession with a little list of 100 books... :)

Jan 6, 2014, 5:58 am

Hahaha, true true. I have my lists in spreadsheets and databases and nice colorful graphs. I'm a nerd and loving it :D

Editado: Jan 6, 2014, 8:27 am

1. The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith (01-01-2014)

A couple of months ago I made a huge spreadsheet of books on lists (like 1001 books you must read before you die, NPR Top 100 SFF), in publisher series (like SF Masterworks) and nominees or winners of awards (like the Booker or the Hugo). This list of over 5000 books hopefully helps me choose books to read, both the best of the genres I like (SF, Fantasy, Horror) and good books out of my comfort zone (general fiction). One of the books on that list is 'The Diary of a Nobody' by George and Weedon Grossmith (It's on the 1001 books and the Guardian 1000 lists).
The Nobody in this diary is Mr. Pooter. A lower class man living and working in London at the end of the nineteenth century. He thinks he's quite the gentleman, too bad nobody around him feels the same way and his life, as described in the diary, shows that. For example, he and his wife get invited to a ball, and after he's enjoyed the evening it turns out that he has to pay for their food and drinks. Because of this he has no money for the cab-ride home, something he doesn't realize until he has to pay, leading to a fight with the cabbie.
The book is pretty funny, both in Mr. Pooter's descriptions (he thinks he is so important) and in the things that happen. You can't help but feel sorry for the man, he tries so hard to rise above his station in life, and nobody around him helps him, they only hinder him. The illustrations by Weedon Grossmith complete the diary. A really nice little book, three out of five stars.

Jan 6, 2014, 8:27 am

2. De terugkeer van Zij/Ayesha: The Return of She by H. Rider Haggard (01-01-2014 / 04-01-2014)

About 4 years ago Penguin published some nice editions of boys adventure book classics. I don't really confirm to gender stereotypes, so I got myself some ('Tarzan', 'The Lost World'). And 'She', by H. Rider Haggard. I'd read his 'King Solomon's Mines' before, and really enjoyed it. I loved 'She' too, and loved seeing THE shard in Norwich Castle Museum. Last week while book-hunting in one of the secondhand shops in Den Haag, I came across a copy of the second book about Ayesha, 'The Return of She', and I couldn't wait to start to read it. Unfortunately my edition (Dutch translation, published by Scala in 1977) not only has a cover that makes no sense to me (why is that guy green?), it's also abridged without disclosing it. Luckily the Gutenberg Project came to my rescue, so I read the ePub version on my Nook instead.
It's twenty years after the events in 'She', and the same nameless editor of the first book receives another parcel from Horace Holly, containing another manuscript and an artifact. It turns out that Holly and his adoptive son Leo Vincey had another adventure with Ayesha, She. After returning to England at the end of the previous book, Leo had gotten depressed and even contemplated suicide, until he received a vision/dream from Ayesha, showing him that she was somewhere in the mountains of Ayesha. They travel to Asia and wander around for many years, until eventually they receive another sign that they are close. After a hard journey in which they nearly die they reach Kaloon, where they meet Khania Atene (who professes her love for Leo) and the jealous Khan Rassen. Their coming had been expected, and even though Holly and Leo feel they are close to Ayesha, the question is will they find her, and if they do, then what?
I really enjoyed this adventure. Both the back story (the history of Ayesha, Kallikrates and Amenartas) and the current struggles are pretty cool to read, combining strange savages with lost civilizations and treasures. We learn a bit more about Ayesha, and the magic she has. I loved reading the book both because of the story, as well as the language. I'll keep book-hunting for other works by H. Rider Haggard, and hope to find more someday (although I saw that they re-released three books in the Ayesha series just last year). Four out of five stars.

Jan 6, 2014, 8:56 am

3. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (04-01-2014 / 05-01-2014)

There are many YA-supernatural series out there at the moment, and while I have read (am reading) a few, there are so many out there that it's getting harder and harder to pick one that is pretty good. I'd heard a lot about 'City of Bones' by Cassandra Clare, so when I saw it, and it's sequel 'City of Ashes' second-hand I couldn't resist. This weekend I wanted an easy quick read, and 'City of Bones' delivered.
Clary Fray is a normal teenager in New York City. Normal until she sees a kid get murdered in a club and his body disappear into thin air. Normal until her mother vanishes from their apartment and Clary is attacked by a horrible creature. By then she's figured out there is a lot more to this world than she's ever known, including demons, Downworlders and Shadowhunters. Now that she has nobody anymore (her father having died before she was born, and her mother's friend abandoning her after her mother's disappeared), she has to figure out who she is and what is going on with the help of three other (Shadowhunter) kids and their tutor.
This book mixes a world full of supernatural beings (demons, werewolves, vampires, warlocks), a war between good (?) and evil (?), love stories and family trouble together in a nice young-adult mix. Yeah this book is strongly inspired by Harry Potter (the battle with the evil lord when the kids were young, heritage kept from the main character). Yeah Clary is the most clueless person when it comes to love. Yeah it (probably) has all been done before. But I still enjoyed the book as nice easy read, and look forward to the other parts. Four out of five stars.

Jan 7, 2014, 1:54 am

Oh yes, Cassandra Clare is one of my trashy weaknesses. Very entertaining.

And I really should try and dig up my copy of She...

Jan 13, 2014, 8:56 am

4. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (05-01-2014 / 10-01-2014)

'A Fire upon the Deep' by Vernor Vinge is the joint-winner of the Hugo (together with 'Doomsday Book' by Connie Willis). In my quest to collect and read all Hugo winners, I had bought this book years ago, just never got around to reading it.
Imagine that space can be divided into zones. Each zone impacts the level of technology and development. The highest zone is the Transcend, where super-intelligent beings dwell. The Beyond is where AI, faster than light travel and anti-gravity are possible. The Slow Zone is where biological intelligence is possible, but not true AI or any of the other possibilities of the Beyond. We mostly follow Ravna, a young human from the Beyond who works on Relay, a node in the galactic communication network. Another human research delegation has awakened something in an abandoned archive they found. It is the Blight, a super-intelligent being, which is unleashed and destroys massive parts of the Beyond. Together with Pham, a recreated human and the two Skrodes Blueshell and Greenstalk (Skrodes are a kind of intelligent trees on a mechanic carriage) they realize that the countermeasure against the Blight is hidden in a crashed ship on a planet near the Slow Zone. They race to the planet, chased by many ships. Meanwhile the survivors of the countermeasure ship crash, Johanna and Jefri must survive with the Tines, dog like pack animals that operate as one being.
Anyway, enough weird and truly original (to me) aliens to keep a story going. Sometimes it got to be a bit confusing, reading about all these alien species, types of ship and influence of Zone levels. I really enjoyed the parts in space and dealing with the Blight. The parts dealing with the Tines I enjoyed a lot less. I think it has to do with how both humans on the planet are used, and how nasty and backward most Tines were. In the end I liked the book as a whole, four out of five stars.

Jan 13, 2014, 9:52 am

5. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (10-01-2014)

'The Thirty-Nine Steps' by John Buchan, first published in 1915 is a true classic adventure. Reading about the work on Wikipedia teaches us that it is one of the first 'man-on-the-run' thrillers. It is well-loved because its hero, Richard Hannay is a man who puts his country before himself. The book has been made into many movies (the most famous version is by Alfred Hitchcock), a play and many radio adaptions.
It is early 1914, and Richard Hannay, both the main character and the narrator, is in London after a stay in Africa (he is originally from Scotland). He is bored with his normal life in London and yearns for adventure. He runs into adventure by way of one his neighbors, Mr. Scruder, an American who claims to have faked his death because he has uncovered a secret that will cause war to erupt in Europe. After the man is murdered in Hannay's apartment, he goes on the run, both to evade police (who will surely think he murdered the man) and uncover and stop the plot Scruder was talking about.
The story is pretty fast paced (my edition, from Pan Books, 1980, only has 138 pages) and adventures. Hannay is not only on the run from the police (who aren't that hard to fool) but also from an evil group that is pretty smart. While the chase was fun to read about, there were so many coincidences to help the story along (the people Hannay meets who help him with just the right stuff or connections for example). It was a pretty enjoyable read, even if it showed it age a bit, three out of five stars.

Jan 13, 2014, 10:15 am

6. Dry Store Room No. 1 by Richard Fortey (11-01-2014 / 12-01-2014)

My college degree (Dutch: HBO) is in Cultural Heritage, but before they changed the name of the degree a couple of weeks before the graduation ceremony, it was museology. Basically, I've been trained for four years to work in a museum (any position really, but my preference will always be registration and documentation of collections). Even though the field I work in has nothing to do with cultural heritage or museums (I do software testing, at the moment for a logistics company), I still love it. So, any vacation my husband and I have, we visit many museums and cultural heritage sites, we watch programs and films about museums, and of course I read books about them. That's how I came to 'Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum' by Richard Fortey.
Rochard Fortey is a palaeontologist specialized in the study of trilobites who has worked for the Natural History Museum in London since 1973. This book is his personal store-room of memories of all that time working in the museum. Together with explanations of the how and why of the many types of scientific research undertaken at the Natural History Museum, its history and its building he tells of the people he's worked with all these years. That makes this book a strange introduction to the specific kind of natural science undertaken at a museum (hint, it's a LOT of taxonomy) and a book filled with gossip about the strange characters that worked (under tenure) for the museum.
Because of its focus on science (which is totally understandable because that is Fortey's branch of business in the museum) I was disappointed by the book. I had expected/wanted a book about the museum itself. About the collection, the collectors, the conservation, the curators and the exhibitions. Understandable from my point of view, because that is my personal interest in museums. Back in the winter of 2005/2006 my husband and I did an internship at the micro-palaeontological department of the Earth Studies department of the University of Utrecht. Our task was to register and if needed repackage the collection (of ancient mouse teeth basically) in a database system. We had a wonderful introduction into the many difficulties of taxonomy. We also met many of the types of characters (including the scientists who don't retire). We were able to look behind the screens at several natural history museum. And my husband went on to work in Mallorca with the Myotragus collection there in his next internship (a collection that is mentioned in this book). That made most of the parts in this book familiar, and a bit too much (I'd rather read about conservation than taxonomy). Another thing that put me off was Fortey's gossip about his colleagues. I get that he's trying to describe the quirks of scientists in a museum, but I found it unnecessary to make it so personal (working all your life on just beetles is quirky enough for me). Still, for the most part I can't fault Fortey for my disappointment with the book, it is a good, if somewhat rambling description and defense of the importance of scientific research in museums. Three out of five stars, but this will probably be higher if the reader likes to read about (natural) science more.

Jan 13, 2014, 10:17 am

Ps. That was my first non-fiction book in 1.5 years. I really enjoyed it, I need to read more non-fiction!

Jan 13, 2014, 12:18 pm

Good for you Sara! I read more fiction than nonfiction but I do like my nonfiction feedings. My head does need to be in a bit of a different space to enjoy it most of the time however.
You have some interesting reads happening this year. And I like the covers and your listings.

Jan 13, 2014, 1:46 pm

The NHM is one of my favourite places. Although I first visited, with school, aged 5 or so and the brontasaurus skeleton in the front hall freaked the living daylights out of me. I can see it sticking it's head over the building on the cover. In essence I was sure it was going to eat me and so refused to walk under it's head. I don't know if you've looked, but that's one rather long detour, round by his tail, when you've only got little legs.
Sounds like a book I'll certainly look out.

Jan 13, 2014, 2:48 pm

It is a wonderful museum, one we visit every time we're in London. If you (or anyone else reading) ever goes there again, I highly recommend the tour in the Darwin Centre. When we were there we had to register early in the morning (first come, first serve) for a free tour after office hours. But then you do get to visit some of the (spirit!) depots, including one with the giant squid (Kraken anyone?) and some of Darwin's Beagle collection. Simply brilliant.

Jan 13, 2014, 3:18 pm

29> I envy you the giant squid. If I am ever in London I will remember your advice (but alas, I think plane tickets are not in my budget for anything other than dire emergencies for the foreseeable future.)

Editado: Jan 13, 2014, 8:25 pm

Oh, Miss Boo is a fan of a British kids' nature show ("The Deadly 60"), and we were watching an episode and it was in a museum and I missed the intro, but I swear it was the Natural History Museum and am now KICKING myself for not going there when I was in London *mumble* years ago. That Darwin tour sounds utterly brilliant.

And now Miss Boo wants to go to London, just for the NHM. :)

ETA: And I want to read that book! I have one of his science books somewhere, must dig it up (oh, I say that far too often...)

Jan 14, 2014, 5:14 am

30> LShelby, we try to go to England (preferably London) every year, but for us it is just a short (six hour) trip by car (taking a ferry from France to England). But here's the squid for you:

31> Wookiebender, the museum is brilliant, for both adults and children. People make fun of me for over-preparing before we go on trips, but that's the way I find out about cool free tours like that ;)

Jan 14, 2014, 5:22 am

Sigh, I think Sydney to London is about 24 hours. Love the squid! And I'm envious of anyone who has time to prepare for trips, I'm usually throwing things into a suitcase the night before.

Jan 14, 2014, 9:03 am

>30 LShelby: Wow. Awesome Thanks for the pic!

Jan 14, 2014, 10:18 am

It is impressive, although way less giant than I imagined. And Wookie, I know all about the distance from/to Australia (we went in 2007). Although I am more of a history/city gall, so I am glad I'm stuck on this side of the earth (Not that I didn't enjoy our trip to Australia, although, heat, scare animals!!)

Editado: Jan 14, 2014, 3:09 pm

>32 divinenanny::
WOW!~! How wide is that tank Sara? That thing looks huge but the tank does not appear very wide in that frame. Just wondering how the creature survives and feeling sad that it is not free in the sea. (I am assuming that it is alive?) But then again if it is in a museum it is most likely not so the tank would be plenty large enough. :-(

Jan 14, 2014, 3:33 pm

>36 rainpebble: Oh no no, it's dead, I believe fished up in a net or washed up on shore. The tank is not very wide, just very long. It's filled with (probably) alcohol to preserve the tissue. It probably can't survive in a tank either, because it's a deep sea creature living under great pressure.

Jan 14, 2014, 3:35 pm

Whew! Thank you for that Sara. I can feel better now that I know the poor thing is DEAD. :-)

Jan 14, 2014, 10:46 pm

LOL, I love how Europeans always mention our scary animals. :)

Editado: Jan 15, 2014, 3:16 am

I'm scared of even our own animals (anything that flies is scary basically). And the funny thing is, besides in the zoo, I never saw any scary animals at all while in Australia. But maybe my mind was protecting me ;)

Jan 15, 2014, 8:16 pm

Oh, we have scary animals, but it's not like they're everywhere! The one that scares me the most is the aggressive and venomous and big and hairy legged funnel web spider - and I've never ever seen one. Which is fine by me.

My tally is being startled a few times by redback spiders in the back yard (they're venomous spiders, but actually rather pretty so they don't freak me out like the larger hairier but definitely harmless huntsman spider), and one bluebottle (jellyfish) sting at the beach as a kid. (Ouchy, but easily treatable.)

So, yes, we do have a lot of scary animals in *theory*, but this urban girl hasn't seen many of them at all. :)

Jan 15, 2014, 9:50 pm

When I was growing up here in the Pacific Northwest at the foot of the Cascade Mts, we children would walk the three miles to town if we had ball, cheerleading practice or other school events. The timberline came right down to the two lane road we walked and many an evening we would see the eyes of wolves just inside the timberline as they followed us home. They never bothered us but they certainly weren't afraid of us either.
Still yet today, while it is very rare to see a wolf, many a coyote or cougar will be seen crossing the highway. My daughter & her family live 4 miles out of town and have a very old barn that they never use any more. There have been several years when they have found evidence of a female cougar nesting in there and giving birth. They have 19 acres and go nowhere away from the house without a weapon just in case. I recall when my now 16 year old grandson was but 2, he and his dad were up on the hill above the house in the pickup and Tyler kept telling his dad: "Look, look at the big dog." His dad didn't pay any attention until about the 3rd time the child made mention of this dog and he turned around and looked out the back window of the truckcab and they were being followed by a cougar.
Yep, life can get interesting with critters all around. We live right in town; my husband and I. And we get bear scat in our yard all the time when it's berry, quince, plum & apple season. Likewise with the deer but they are welcome visitors.

Jan 15, 2014, 11:24 pm

Wow, I don't think a weapon would work with Australia's deadly critters, they're all small - jellyfish, snakes, spiders. We never really went in for large carnivores. :)

Jan 16, 2014, 1:36 am

Yeah, so we have non-venemous spiders, bees, wasps, birds and butterflies: all scary still ;) (I know bees and wasp have venom, but not VENOM ;)). The closest we get accidentally seeing wildlife is a bunny, hedgehog or domestic cat. Actually, close by an otter was seen (they are/were extinct here) so now I have to be careful not to kill it driving. And there is this one road where you can see a white-tailed-eagle, which is nice. A wolf was found dead in the middle of the country, turned out he was killed in Poland and laid there as a prank. We do have some wild boars, deer, horses and cows, but mostly in reserves, where they are culled if they ever get too many (which they do, because no wolves)...

Jan 16, 2014, 5:37 am

Otters! Hedgehogs! How exotic. And they are, to an Australian. :)

Jan 16, 2014, 5:39 am

That's what I was thinking after I wrote it :D But you have echidna's and wombats, so cute!

Jan 16, 2014, 10:41 pm

I have a friend who has a pet hedgehog and they make wonderful & clever pets. I would love to have one. They are easy to care for and are companionable. Quite clean also.
Our Pacific coastline is a wonderful place to go and watch the otters. What fun little creatures they are.
I wish that humans had half the integrity that Mother Nature's animal kingdom has.

Jan 26, 2014, 12:24 am

All this talk of scary animals coincides with my first seasonal bedroom sighting of a huntsman last night. Once disposed of it took me a while to get to sleep!

Jan 26, 2014, 3:14 pm

7. De Duivelsverzen/The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (13-01-2014 / 18-01-2014)

When this book was first published back in 1988, I was five, so all I know about the controversy is from what I picked in later years. Still, I know there were (are?) a lot of things going on about this book, so when I saw it at a thrift-store, I just had to pick it up to see what the fuss was about. Later on I found that this book could be classified as 'magical realism', one of my favorite genres, which made me pick it up from Mount TBR somewhat faster than usual.
It was hard for me to get into this story, because it took me a while to understand (enough, never completely) what was going on. We have our two main characters, two Indian men, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha. Gibreel is a Bollywood actor in India, Saladin is a voice actor in England. They meet on a plane from India to London which crashes, with them falling down to earth and surviving. However Gibreel is or imagines himself to be the Archangel Gibreel, and Saladin is or is turning into a devil. For the archangel Gibreel we also see the flashbacks that he sees, of his visits to Mahound (Mohammed) when he is receiving his visions which are written in the koran. One of these visions is the source of the title of the book, the Satanic Verses.
The story was very confusing to me, and it took me a (long) while to get into it and enjoy the story. In the end though, I really enjoyed the story and the ideas of Rushdie in the book. I found it harder to write this review, to formulate my thought about the book, than reading and liking it. Four out of five stars.

Jan 26, 2014, 3:25 pm

8. Winner Takes All by Jacqueline Rayner (18-01-2014 / 19-01-2014)

Doctor Who is one of my favorite TV Shows (mainly since the 2005 reboot), but you have to wait so long between series to get some new shows. Luckily there is also a series of (children's/young adult) books that each read like an episode. I have quite a collection, so sometimes when I need my fix, I have an episode in book form.
In this edition, with the ninth Doctor (Eccleston) and Rose, we follow Rose and the Doctor back to earth after Rose's mom has no time to talk on the phone with Rose (so unlike her). They soon hear about a sort of lottery with scratch cards people get after buying something in town. They can win a holiday or a game console. The game is a mixture of puzzles and a first person shooter where the main character needs to break into an alien stronghold and kill aliens. However, Rose and the Doctor soon figure out that the contest is a lot more real than everybody thinks, and they need to race to save the poor innocent humans caught up in the plot.
The book was a fun Doctor Who episode, not connected to any big story line. If you need your Doctor Who fix, this is another good book to read. Four out of five stars.

Jan 26, 2014, 3:34 pm

9. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (19-01-2014 / 20-01-2014)

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is one that is guaranteed to deliver absurd humor and fantasy related to our lives on earth while taking place on a strange disc shaped world held up by four elephants on the back of a floating turtle's back. 'Wyrd Sisters' is part 6 in the series as a whole, and part 2 in the witches series featuring Granny Weatherwax and the other witches of the Ram Tops. They get trusted with the orphan son of the murdered king of Lancre, and even though they find a home for him, they stay involved with the kingdom, simply because they live in it. So together, even though they really shouldn't, they gang up to save the kingdom from the evil Duke and return the true king to the throne.
What else can I say? This was a true Discworld novel, fun to read, great fantasy, nice story. Exactly what I expected, and needed. Four out of five stars.

Jan 26, 2014, 3:52 pm

10. Het Diner by Herman Koch (20-01-2014 / 21-01-2014)

One of my resolutions this year was to read more Dutch novels, which I never really do. So, I decided to take part in the "Ik lees Nederlands! 2014" challenge (I read Dutch 2014). I pledged to read (at least) 10 works by Dutch authors in Dutch this year. My first read for this challenge is 'Het Diner' (translated as 'The Dinner') by Herman Koch.
The main character Paul is invited to dinner in a fancy restaurant together with his wife Claire, by his brother Serge and his wife Babette. They need to discuss something their kids did together, something that will impact all of them so they need to discuss how to handle it. Serge tries to lead the conversation, he is a candidate for the post of prime-minister in the upcoming elections, but Paul and Claire don't want that, and try to take control back.
I really can't say anything more about the plot, that would spoil it. What I liked most about the story is how it slowly tells you more and more, growing bigger and bigger with the new information you as a reader learn. It is told by the courses of the dinner, but also in flashbacks of Paul, of his own life and of his life with his son Michel. The writing from the first person viewpoint of Paul is a great way to grab you and to make you see things from his point of view. However, at the end you have to think to yourself, what would you have done? What is the right thing in this situation? A great conundrum in a great book. My first five-star read of 2014.

Jan 27, 2014, 9:42 am

11. Drakevleugel/Dragon Wing by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (21-01-2014 / 23-01-2014)

Last year I picked one fantasy to read, reading parts of it in between my other reads. That was a success, so this year I decided to do the same thing again. I just had to pick a series (I have several waiting to be read on my shelves), and I went for The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Part one is "Dragon Wing" ("Drakevleugel" in my Dutch translation).
In the Death Gate Cycle there are several races. You have your dwarfs, elves and humans. But you also have Sartrans, who've imprisoned the Patryns in a horrible labyrinth. Slowly the Patryns are escaping, and one of them, Haplo, is sent to the floating world above to spy on the Sartrans. Meanwhile, in that floating world above, a contract-killer, Hugh the Hand is given the assignment by King Stephen that will change his entire outlook on the world. The world above where Mysteriarchs (level 7 human wizards) live, the world where humans and elves live in a near-war state, and the world below where dwarves/Gegs live and mine water for those above.
I was a bit disappointed in this book, I think because I expected a full-fledged fantasy world. Somehow this book never really rose above the level of young adult for me. Maybe it is marketed as YA, I'm not sure. It's not a bad book, just not very original or deep. It was a nice read and I will continue with the series. After finishing I read a review mentioning that this is the worst book of the series, so I have hope it will get better. I also want to know more about the Patryns and the Sartrans (I'm not quite sure yet who of the two are the bad guys). Three out of five stars for me, but a fun read for a young fantasy love I'd think.

Jan 27, 2014, 9:57 am

12. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (24-01-2014 / 26-01-2014)

I used to work for our National Library. Of course I wasn't the only book-lover there, so they had (still have, I'm sure) a "white bookcase" which operated on the "take-a-book/leave-a-book" principle. It was a great way for me to find books I'd never even look for in the shops. I kept the list of '1001 books you must have read before you die' books ready to curate my curiosity a bit, but I found some great books there. One of those books is 'Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston'.
In this book Janie Crawford, an African-American woman living in Southern USA in the early twentieth century, tells of her life to one of her friends Pheoby, in one long flashback. She lived with her grandmother, an ex-slave, in the backyard of the white family her grandmother worked for. Her grandmother saves to buy her own plot of land and house, so Janie won't be teased at school. From there Janie marries Logan Killicks, but learns the hard way that just being married isn't enough to be loved. In the rest of her life she meets interesting men, and even finds love, unfortunately she also finds tragedy.
The book reads like a story told, which makes it a really nice book to read in one long sitting. It takes some getting used to the phonetic spelling of a Southern accent, but together with the wonderful prose between the spoken words it serves to set the scenes. Not being a student of US history I have no opinion about the accuracy of the description (they feel real though) or the influence this book has had since. I just know I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone enjoying a good story with love and tragedy. Four out of five stars.

Jan 27, 2014, 9:58 am

Phew, all caught up. That review of The Satanic Verses gave me review-block. A nice book, but don't ask me to retell the story... Now, back to reading ;)

Jan 27, 2014, 5:24 pm

The Dinner was my first five star red last year! I still think about it now.

Jan 28, 2014, 6:16 am

Good catch up! I liked Their Eyes Were Watching God too, I'm glad the 1001 list introduced me to that one.

Jan 28, 2014, 4:17 pm

13. Complicity by Iain Banks (26-01-2014 / 27-01-2014)

Iain Banks is by far one of my favorite writers. I started reading his science fiction (published as Iain M. Banks), and after nearly reading all of those and still wanting more, I moved on to his non-science fiction (which can still be pretty science fiction-y).
'Complicity' is the story of two sets of murders, one series having taken place years ago, one series taking place now. Cameron Colley is a journalist in Edinburgh who is getting tips from a mole about the older murders. Meanwhile conservative important people are being gruesomely attacked and/or murdered...
This story was well written with great story lines that come together really well. The main story line deals with (of course) complicity, and where is the line to being complicit or not. I loved how the story was built up. The descriptions of the attacks and murders (many in this book) are pretty detailed and heavy, also because they are written in the second-person view (you do this, you do that) and the rest in the first-person view (of Cameron Colley). A great read, I just love Iain Banks, four out of five stars.

Fev 5, 2014, 5:25 am

14. Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont (27-01-2014 / 01-02-2014)

'Return of the Crimson Guard' is the second book in the second Malazan series, 'Novels of the Malazan Empire' by Ian C. Esslemont. This book takes place between 'Reaper's Gale' (book 7) and 'Toll the Hounds' (book 8) of the original 'Malazan Book of the Fallen' series by Steven Erikson.
The main character-group we follow is (of course) the returned Crimson Guard. These are mainly avowed, nearly immortal warriors who have vowed to take down the Malazan empire. But the Wickans are also present, as are characters like Toc the Elder (indeed, father of). The main story in the book is about the battle between the Malazan army, led by empress Lasseen in person, and the Crimson Guard. There are all kinds of other armies surrounding this battle, fighting against the Malazan army or each other. Of course there are magic and some ancient creatures who are also part of this battle.
Where the earlier Esslemont book was a thin (for the Malazan series) book covering just one night, this book is more in line with Steven Eriksons door-stoppers. The style of the book with a lot of characters, several points of view and an introduction taking place in a different time than the rest of the book make the book feel like a Steven Erikson imitation. It is like Esslemont took all the things Erikson set up in his books, the history, the magic, the characters and the mechanics, and then started to write a story using them. How he used them felt forced ("oh yeah, here's a D'ivers") and unreal. We are spoiled by Steven Erikson's works with all their depth. I think that without that memory, and the joy of being back in the Malazan world, I would not have finished this book. As it is, in combination with all the other Malazan works, it is a three out of five-star book for me.

Fev 5, 2014, 3:28 pm

15. Dracula Unbound by Brian W. Aldiss (01-02-2014 / 02-02-2014)

Brian W. Aldiss is known as one of the greats of Science Fiction. He has published many stories and books, and is still active. Whenever I come across one of his works while thrift-shopping, I pick it up. I have 22 works by now, and have read only three, of which only one was one hundred percent science fiction. The other two, this one and Frankenstein Unbound, are a mix of science fiction (time travel mostly) and classic horror.
It is the future (1999, but still) where one inventor/entrepreneur, Joe Bodenland, has developed a machine that can keep a thing (like toxic waste) at one certain point in time, making it effectively disappear. He is also involved with archaeological research, and because of that he is called when one archaeologist finds a casket with a human body below the K-T boundary (so more than 65 million years old). While looking into this the team gathered at the site get the feeling one night that a train is coming out of nowhere and travels over them at high-speed. Of course Bodenland must investigate, and thus he enters the Time Train that travels through time while carrying "The Fleet Ones", vampires. He ends up in the nineteenth century, picks up Bram Stoker and his gardener, and together they must fight to save humanity from near extinction and servitude in the future by killing the vampires (led by Lord Dracula himself, of course) in the far past.
Like 'Frankenstein Unbound' the book was a bit chaotic, another 300 pages and more time to work out the ideas in this book (time travel, vampires as an evolved species, humankind in the future) would make it so great. As it is now, the ideas are original, the action is pretty good, and the conclusion was good. Still, three out of five stars.

Fev 7, 2014, 5:59 am

There's a *second* Malazan series?? Oh my, I am so behind...

Fev 7, 2014, 6:58 am

Yeah you are. Because there is also a third ;)

- Malazan book of the Fallen Steven Erikson's original series
- Novels of the Malazan Empire Ian C. Esslemont's series taking place in the same time and place with borderline the same characters.
- Kharkanas Steven Erikson's second series taking place a long long time before the other series, about Mother Dark and Lord Draconus etc.

The best overview is: http://www.librarything.com/series/World+of+Malaz (all books)
Or: http://www.librarything.com/series/Malazan+Chronological (Chronological by storyline)

Fev 7, 2014, 7:16 am

Nooooooooooooooooo! I'll never catch up.

Fev 7, 2014, 8:28 am

You have a chance, because Erikson and Esslemont are still writing on Kharkanas and Novels. Get to reading ;)

Fev 21, 2014, 4:08 am

I'll update my reviews someday soon (I hope) as well as my bingo card (I'm sure I can cover a few more boxes)...

But I'm in a reading slump, which I hate. It is busy at work and when I finally get time to read I usually fall asleep. The books I have read lately were all, meh, ok... not the brilliant book that can keep me up past my bedtime. I decided to let go of my reading plan for a while, and just pick up a book from a writer that I've given five stars in the past (so, Kazuo Ishiguro with When We Were Orphans it is. Let's see if that can get me enjoying my books again...

Fev 21, 2014, 4:23 am

Sorry to hear you are in a slump nanny, when I am bleh about reading I take a few days off and then pick up a book I really want to reread, I'm soon back into the printed page !

Fev 21, 2014, 4:41 am

I always feel sort of guilty when re-reading, because mount TBR is 1306 books big. And most books I loved are behemoths, and I need something good and small ;) But favorite writers are nice and (usually) safe too. I just started in When We Were Orphans and I am already more gripped than in my six previous reads. Phew.

Fev 21, 2014, 8:07 am

1306? I'm feeling MUCH better about my Mt TBR (currently sitting at 500+, so yeah, about 60% better :).

I'm reading slowly at the moment too, am reading a short novel given to me by my Big Issue seller (so I feel 100% obliged to finish it!) and a larger one from the Vorkosigan series (maybe finish this weekend...? If I ignore housework...?). it's rather frustrating, I do like finishing books!

Fev 21, 2014, 7:06 pm

Hey, re-reading is visiting favorite friends again. No reason to neglect them, despite the large pool of potential new friends out there--they've already proven their worth.

Fev 22, 2014, 4:47 am

The reread is just to guarantee a positive reading experience, which soon gets me back into the swing of things. I'm not good at the rereading because of a huge TBR pile, would like to get to my old favourites one day......

Fev 22, 2014, 10:24 am

ronincats is exactly right! Sorry about the slump, but Ishiguro is usually a wise choice to get out of one. As long as it isn't The Unconsoled which made no sense to me at all.

Mar 6, 2014, 1:15 pm

16. Kim by Rudyard Kipling (02-02-2014 / 06-02-2014)

In my mission to read more classics I picked up 'Kim' by Rudyard Kipling of 'Jungle Book'-fame. Kim is a young orphan of Irish descent who lives in Lahore. He meets Teshoo Lama, a lama from Tibet who is looking for a sacred river to achieve enlightenment. Kim helps him as his chela, because while Kim has street-smarts, the lama is naïve and knows nothing about the way to travel in India. Together they travel looking for the river. One day they run into what turns out to be Kim's father's old regiment, where Kim is taken by the two men of faith of the regiment to be given a Western education. Kim struggles against the idea, he wants to stay on the streets, but to his dismay, even Teshoo Lama supports the idea. So, he ends up in the best school for British boys in India, where he is recruited into the Great Game. For the rest of the book, and maybe for the rest of his life, Kim balances between taking part in the Great Game, or living his street-life as an Indian boy.
When reviewing an older book, I always try to take into account the time it was written in. Older books tend to be slower than those written now, and the language can be confusing. But even with those considerations, 'Kim' failed to grab me. In part it was because the story felt rambling, and there only seemed to be a purpose or a goal to the whole thing near the end of the story. I have to admit, this was the first time I heard of the Great Game, and those parts of the story intrigued me, as well as the descriptions of life in India in the 19th century. Still, I was a bit disappointed with this book, so it gets three out of five stars from me.

Mar 6, 2014, 1:23 pm

17. ElfenSter/Elven Star by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (07-02-2014 / 09-02-2014)

'ElfenSter' or 'Elven Star' is the second book in Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Death Gate Cycle series. We travel to a different world now, one where humans, elves and dwarfs live on one immense 'planet'. Our old friend Haplo travels to that land to plant the seeds of discontent, only to discover that by the time he gets there, the land is already in great turmoil because of the attack of the tytans. Will Haplo find out more about the Sartans and where they went? And will he actually help those on the planet?
Like with the first book I missed some of the depth and originality in the world Weis and Hickman have created. However, my expectations were based on the previous book, and to me this book was about the same. A pretty enjoyable story, but nothing very special. Three out of five stars.

Mar 7, 2014, 4:07 am

Oh, I did like Kim more than you did, but I think I would have loved it even more if I had read it as a young reader.

Mar 7, 2014, 5:24 am

I think I'd like it more both if I'd been younger, and if I hadn't been so busy at work and daily life. Right now I am reading a classic I really like (Camera Obscura) and even then I keep falling asleep while reading...

Editado: Mar 26, 2014, 3:31 pm

18. De poorten van Anubis/The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (10-02-2014 / 16-02-2014)

I found 'De poorten van Anubis'/'The Anubis Gates' at a thriftshop and was intrigued because it promised time travel (I love time travel) and it has won/was nominated for awards (I always carry The List with me when book-shopping, a list of award nominated or winning books). So, when my last two books were a bit disappointed, I figured 'De Poorten van Anubis' would be a nice pick-me-up. Well, it wasn't.There are still magicians from the Egyptian olden days, and they want Egypt back under the rule of the gods (you know, Ra, Isis, Anubis etc.). However, now, in 1802, England has taken over Egypt from the French (who could be trusted to rule in name only, and leave the Egyptians to it). So, why not destroy England and regain control over Egypt (and the rest of the world, while they're at it). But whatever they did, their ritual caused holes in the fabric of time, and one man in the 1980s has discovered this. So he organizes a trip for a group of interested people to a reading by Samuel Coleridge in 1810. Our main character, expert on the period Brendan Doyle gets stuck in the period, and is left to fight not only the Egyptian magicians but also beggar guilds, a werewolf-shapeshifter and other people who seem to have it in for him, all while trying to figure out what is going on, and save the future.
When I read the summary of this book, I thought I'd love it. I mean, time-travel, Egyptian mythology and a shapeshifting werewolf, what's not to love? Well, the mixture of these elements. I admit, in part it may have been my frame of mind, but to me it really felt like the writer threw all these elements into a melting pot and this story came out. There is just too much going on, and in the end, the ending feels like a let down. Enjoyable for the ideas, but not much more than that. Three out of five stars.

Mar 26, 2014, 3:31 pm

19. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett (16-02-2014 / 20-02-2014)

'Guards! Guards!', the eight Discworld novel focusses on the guards of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. The main character, Carrot is a human foundling who grew up with dwarves (and thinks of himself as a dwarf) and who volunteers for the City Watch. This is something nobody ever does, because the City Watch really has no function now every part of life in Ankh-Morpork, including criminal life, has been thoroughly regulated. However, there is a secret brotherhood who is planning to overthrow the Patrician in charge of Ankh-Morpork and install a puppet-king by summoning a dragon. When this plan gets out of hand, it is up to the City Watch (all four of them) to save the city.
This is another enjoyable Discworld novel, with the same absurd humor and references to our world I have come to know and love from Terry Pratchett. On the other hand, it wasn't anything more than that. So, three out of five stars.

Editado: Mar 26, 2014, 3:33 pm

20. When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro (21-02-2014 / 22-02-2014)

The last few weeks I've been in a reading slump. Not one of the books I was reading really grabbed me, and they took forever for me to get through, because I just did not want to read them. So, I went back to my five-star-list in LibraryThing to see which books I could not put down in the past, and of which of those writers I still had an unread book. What I picked out was 'When We Were Orphans' by Kazuo Ishiguro, and I am very glad I did.
Christopher Banks grew up in Shanghai around 1900, the son of a British couple, his father involved in the opium trade. When his father and mother disappear shortly after each other, he is sent to live in England with his aunt. He vows to become a detective to find his parents. He becomes a succesful detective, and after a long while he returns to China to investigate the disappearances in the 1930s. Shanghai has changed a lot, and Christopher gets caught up in the battles between the Chinese and the Japanese.
Even though this is not thought of as one of Ishiguro's best works, I still enjoyed it very much, and it helped me get out of my reading slump. I could not put down the book. I liked Christopher Banks as a character, because he seemed so human to me. He isn't prefect, far from it, but tries his best to reach his goals and be happy, despite the terrible things going on around him. The setting of Shanghai in the early twentieth century was gripping, the mix of western business men and their families and the big country of China so close by. I loved the book, and give it five out of five stars.

Mar 26, 2014, 3:33 pm

21. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (22-02-2014 / 24-02-2014)

I have heard about this book, probably around the time it came out, or when it won its Pulitzer Award and National Book Circle Critics Award (among others) in 2008. When I found the book in a second-hand shop I could not resist, and it's a good thing I didn't.
Oscar Wao is an overweight Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey. He is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy, falls in love with several girls (but fails to get a relationship because of his introverted character and looks) and lives under a Dominican family curse (Fuku). The story is told in several parts (Oscar's youth, his family's history, Oscar's end) and by several people.
I read books purely for enjoyment. I know books like these have multiple layers and meanings, but when I read just before (or during) falling asleep, all I want is a bit of entertainment. In this book, I think I've missed half the story because of that (in fact, looking at the Wikipedia entry for this book, I know I did). But that doesn't really matter to me, because I still enjoyed it a lot. Junot Díaz writes in a way that feels like a good storyteller is telling the story to you. The only thing that I did not like was all the Spanish in the book. I don't speak/read/understand Spanish, and didn't really feel like looking it up. I understand why the Spanish was used and that it enhanced the story, but I missed that enhancement. Because of that, the book gets four out of five stars.

Mar 26, 2014, 5:41 pm

I'm so glad When We Were Orphans helped take you out of your slump, or at least gave you a break from it! I adore that book--though, I wish my copy had your cover!

Mar 26, 2014, 8:54 pm

Guards, Guards 3 out of 5 stars ?? Nnnnnooooo !!!

Mar 26, 2014, 9:00 pm

>81 bryanoz:
Well, but you do need to start low enough that you don't run out of stars before you get to Thud!, after all.

Editado: Mar 27, 2014, 10:24 am

I'd say it's 50% mood, and 50% comparing it to other works. I mean, it is a very nice Discworld novel, nothing wrong with it. But I mean, how can I give it 4 or 5 stars, comparing it to Oscar Wao or Ishiguro's work... That's what's hard about rating. I'd say I'd rate most good Discworld books at 3, maybe 4 stars because of that.

ETA, which, I admit, is stupid, because I always try to do my best to rate older works in the context of the time they were written in, so I should really rate Discworld novels for what they are, brilliant entertainment but not really 'literature' on the level of something like Murakami would write. Different but just as enjoyable.

But then again, my ratings are my own, and I can always claim they make perfect sense and nobody would know about my completely arbitrary decision making ;)

Mar 27, 2014, 10:25 am

And >82 LShelby:, that sounds good, I still have many Discworld novels to read, so it is a great prospect to know I might run out of stars :D

Abr 1, 2014, 11:44 am

>81 bryanoz:, that's you and me both. only 3 stars?
How do I know I can trust any of your other ratings, based on that poor display of judgement?

Abr 1, 2014, 6:02 pm

Well I have almost recovered from the shock, and I think I'll be ok as long as no discworld novels get a rating of less than 4 out of 5, surely that's not too much to ask !?

Helen unfortunately not everyone has our superior taste and judgement !

LShelby Guards, Guards 5/5, Thud 6/5, problem solved !

All in jest divinenanny, keep up the great reviews, I really enjoy your comments on the older scifi/fantasy novels that I want to get to but probably never will !

Abr 3, 2014, 3:19 am

Hahaha, I've been working on my offline catalog (rolled my own database) the last few weeks, and I can see my ratings have lowered a lot. A book that would have gotten at least for stars a year or so ago now gets three if its lucky. I think that has to do with my changing reading style. I used to read a lot in the train commuting to work (1,5 hours each way, so a lot of reading), and now I commute by car and I only read a little before falling asleep or in the weekends in the morning. A book really needs to grab me to keep me awake, so the bar is a lot higher.

I really need to get back on track with writing reviews, I am about 7 books behind...

Maio 23, 2014, 8:28 am

Looking forward to your 7+ reviews. (And add me to the "only 3 stars for Guards, Guards!" chorus. And I really liked The Anubis Gates too, but I understand your reservations.)

Maio 24, 2014, 3:55 pm

It's a lot more than 7+ now, but you are right, I need to get into gear. So, let me put up some placeholders and slowly fill them in (build up anticipation you know ;))

Maio 24, 2014, 3:56 pm

22. Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

Maio 24, 2014, 3:57 pm

23. Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li (01-03-2014 / 02-03-2014)

Note: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through the You Review program of The American Book Centre.

There were two things that grabbed me in the description of Yiyun Li's 'Kinder Than Solitude'. On the one hand there is a mystery at the heart of the story, and I like a nice mystery, especially when the book isn't so much about who did it, but more about how did it affect those surrounding it, and on the other hand this is a story taking place in China, written by a Chinese/American (Li left China for the United States after earning her B.S. at Peking University), which in my mind means that the book is reminiscent of a different culture and a different way of looking at life.
The book is divided into two parts, alternating between the two. In one storyline we read about the lives of Ruyu, Moran and Boyang as teenagers in Beijing. Moran and Boyang are best friends who live in the same housing square. Ruyu is an orphan who later moves to the square, to her 'aunt and uncle' (family of the two great-aunts that found her on their doorstep) and their older daughter Shaoai. Ruyu is a very analytical and unemotional girl, something which catches everyone who meets her of guard. During that time, because of Ruyu, an accident happens to Shaoai, an accident which keeps haunting them the rest of their lives. In the other story-line it is twenty years later and the accident in their youth has led to a conclusion only Boyang has to deal with in Beijing. Ruyu and Moran have both emigrated to the United States, Ruyu working for a family and their friends, without starting any personal attachments, and Moran is living by herself but still unable to let go of her ex-husband. All of them have trouble maintaining relationships with others and live in solitude. The new events with regards to the accident of Shaoai force them to look at their lives as they are, and deal with their solitude.
I'm happy to say that the two expectations I had when requesting this book (the mystery and the different world view) were not disappointed. Li writes beautifully about daily life in Beijing for both common folk and rich people, for teenagers going to school, for teenagers protesting against those in charge and for their parents. She also writes (from experience I am assuming) about the culture shock experienced by Ruyu and Moran when they came to the United States. On top of that, you get the contemplations about how the mystery has affected Boyan, Ruyu and Moran each differently, but for each of them resulting in solitude. The result is a beautiful book. It took some getting used to the language used, which is very descriptive, but after a couple of pages the book had me hooked. I highly recommend this book for those who like to read about the effects of a traumatic event, about life in China for a couple of teenagers in the early nineties. For me, I give this book four out of five stars.

Maio 24, 2014, 3:58 pm

24. The Resurrection Casket by Justin Richards

Maio 24, 2014, 3:58 pm

25. Camera Obscura by Hildebrand

Maio 24, 2014, 3:59 pm

Maio 24, 2014, 3:59 pm

27. The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Maio 24, 2014, 4:00 pm

Maio 24, 2014, 4:00 pm

Maio 24, 2014, 4:01 pm

Maio 24, 2014, 4:01 pm

Maio 24, 2014, 4:02 pm

32. ToverSlang by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Editado: Maio 25, 2014, 1:29 pm

33. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (08-05-2014 - 11-05-2014)

My List of Lists/Award Winners/Nominees is always on hand when I go book (thrift) shopping. That's how I picked up "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok, and when somebody mentioned reading and loving it on LT, it moved up on the TBR list.
The book takes place during World War II in New York and is the story of two Jewish boys becoming friends. The story is told by Reuven Malther, raised by his father in Modern Orthodox Jewish faith. His new friend Danny Saunders whose father is a Rebbe in a strict Hassidic community. In the beginning there is a lot of hate and misunderstanding between the two boys, but both their fathers push them closer together, making them become very close friends. During this friendship several important historical events happen, such as the death of President Roosevelt, the end of World War II, the revelations of the true extent of the holocaust and the creation of Israel. Together they discover why somebody needs a friend.
That summary is so short and sounds corny but the book is very powerful. It speaks of loneliness within your community and your family. Of having the strength to choose your own way despite tradition. Of learning about your past and your future. I read this book weeks ago, and it is still so fresh in my mind. It is a very powerful, very beautiful book that I recommend to everyone. Five out of five stars.

Editado: Maio 25, 2014, 2:13 pm

34. Tralievader by Carl Friedman (11-05-2014)

'Tralievader' (translated in English as 'Nightfather') is one of those books that is assigned reading for a lot of Dutch high schoolers. I never believed in assigned reading, and for all the reading I do now, I skipped nearly all assignments while in high school. But recently we gathered a lot of books from our high school days from our parents' attics, and this was one of them. Because I am trying to read more original Dutch works, and I was in a WWII 'mood', I picked it up.
'Tralievader' is told by the child of a man who has survived a German camp. He doesn't say it like this, he says he's had 'camp'. The way he keeps talking about the camp and his experiences influences everything and everyone around him. Slowly his children realize that the way they are raised and the stories they hear from their father are not normal. Because of this his children have their own traumatic experiences even though they were born after the end of the war.
This short novel (novella?) manages to pack a punch despite being so short. It conveys the impact of war trauma's on not just the victims themselves, but also on following generations. Because it is told from the point of view of one of the kids, who knows no better, it is even more powerful. Four out of five stars.

Maio 24, 2014, 4:04 pm

35. Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton (12-05-2014 / 17-05-2014)

I was initially attracted to this book by its tagline, that it is a book about how a book broke a family. The summary on the back tells about a book like those about Narnia, written by an author who is also a father and husband.
That writer is Arthur Hayman, who has written a couple of books about Luke Hayseed (named after his own son Luke), and his adventures in the Darkwood behind their house with the mysterious and elusive Mr. Toppit. Arthur is hit by a car while in London. The first one on the scene to comfort him is Laurie, an overweight American woman looking for direction in her life and has come to London on holiday. She follows him to hospital and alerts his wife. When Arthur dies she joins the family in their house in the country. Arthur is buried by his wife Martha, his daughter Rachel and younger son Luke. The rest of the book follows the four survivors for the next decade, and the influence, both for the good and for the bad, that the Hayseed Chronicles have on their lives. Luke has to live with not being the Luke from the books. Laurie grabs the books to give her life purpose. Martha wrestles control of the books back from the publisher who first published them. And Rachel has to deal with not being in the books at all.
The idea of the story sounded good, and the story is not bad per se. But it doesn't seem to flow right. The start of the book is pretty slow, and then suddenly a lot of events and consequences get lumped together in quick succession. It is a nice read, but I can't help but feel that Elton could have done so much more with his ideas. Three out of five stars.

Maio 24, 2014, 4:05 pm

36. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (17-05-2014 / 19-05-2014)

Those of you who follow my reviews know that I love lists, lists of bests, lists of award winners, and that I let those lists guide me in my choices for what to read and what to collect. Well, one day I was explaining the Hugo's to a colleague of mine (who loves to read but never looked at science fiction twice). He asked why they are called the Hugo's, and while I did know they were named after a Hugo, I had forgotten who he was. So, on to Wikipedia we went where we found out it was Hugo Gernsback, founder of the SF magazine 'Amazing Stories'. But, it also said "The 2014 awards will be presented at the 72nd convention, Loncon 3, in London, England on August 18, 2014.". And it just so happens to be that we (DH and I) will be in the vicinity of London that weekend. So, after a bit of research, a bit of planning, a bit of compromising... we bought the tickets, and we are going to try our best to attend the Hugo Award ceremony. But, back to the book. I hadn't read any of the nominated novels, and I did have a gift card to one of my favorite bookshops, so I had to buy the book that is all the rage this year, Ann Leckie's "Ancillary Justice" and see if it held up to the hype.
Breq is an AI. She lost her ship 'Justice of Toren' (herself) due to a treachery that shouldn't even be possible. Because it is so impossible only she can stop it, but she's been working towards this goal for the last twenty years. How can she do this, alone, not even a citizen, not even human? And how can she do this when she finds Seivarden, a lieutenant who served on 'Justice of Toren' over a thousand years ago, more dead than alive and feels (?) responsible for her.
I have to be honest. When this book first came out, and I read the summaries (I skip most reviews in fear of spoilers) I thought it would be too much hard science fiction for me. I only picked it up because I am very easily influenced by everybody else saying something is good. However, in this case I am so happy to admit that my first instinct was wrong and all those other people were right. I loved this book, I could not put it down. The reason was two-fold. On the one hand it reminded me so much of the 'Culture' universe that Iain M. Banks has created. I love 'The Culture', and that there won't be any more books makes me so sad. On the other hand it was the wonderful way Leckie handled gender by making it a non-issue in the Radch empire. The book flips between the now, where Breq is trying to get her revenge and twenty years earlier, leading up to the treachery. This is a good method of letting the reader know about the 'Justice of Toren' as a ship, and about Breq, an AI alone. This makes the impact of Breq alone even more powerful. What more can I say, this is a wonderful book, and a series I'll be sure to follow, hoping that the second book ("Ancillary Sword") can live up to this one. Five out of five stars.

Editado: Maio 24, 2014, 4:34 pm

37. De leugens van Locke Lamora/The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (20-05-2014 / 24-05-2014)

As with my earlier read, the main reason I am reading this book now is because we are going to LonCon 3 this year, and Scott Lynch is supposed to be there. I have known about "The Lies of Locke Lamora" (in Dutch: "De Leugens van Locke Lamora") for a long while now, I've even had it on my shelf for about 1,5 years now, but I never picked it up to read. Until now, and I have no regrets (maybe a regret in waiting so long).
Locke Lamora is a thief in Camor. Not a normal thief, he is a con-artist, who's not even in it for the money. His life is pretty comfortable with his four friends Jean Tannen (huge, smart and a good fighter), the twins Calo and Galdo Sanza (smart and quick) and Bug, their apprentice (young, stupid and eager). He is working the biggest con of his life. Meanwhile the structure of thieving gangs in Camor is threatened by the Grey King. Locke needs to work hard to stay alive and fight for what he believes in.
Locke Lamora is an unlikely hero because he is a thief. However, Locke is stealing from the rich and what the Grey King is doing is even worse. But because he is still a thief, all the way through the book it felt kind of wrong to root for him. So while I wanted his scam to be a success, I also didn't because it was wrong. This gave an interesting dynamic to the story. It was fast paced, and Locke gets himself in to (and out of) some pretty tight spots. The only thing I missed was more relevance to all mentions of the Elders who made the glass towers and bridges. On the one hand it is an interesting history (reminding me of Steven Erikson's style), on the other hand, what did it add to the story? I hope more will be made of this in other books in the series. "The Lies of Locke Lamora" is a fun, fast paced read about a very smart thief with a heart of... maybe not gold, but silver-gilt? Four out of five stars, and the next book of the series is on my wish list.

Maio 24, 2014, 4:19 pm

I'm glad you enjoyed Ancillary Justice as much as I did!

Jun 8, 2014, 6:59 am

Oh, I MUST buy Ancillary Justice! And I really enjoyed the first two Locke Lamora books too, and have book #3 on Mt TBR.

Editado: Ago 3, 2014, 2:39 pm

Let's play catch up again :D

38/39 Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (24-05-2014 / 27-05-2014 / 29-05-2014)

(This is a review for both Blackout and All Clear, because they are really one book)

Connie Willis is one of my favorite writers, mainly because she combines history and science fiction so very well. What also helps is that her novels are sort of wish-fulfillment for me, because they have historians from the now (well, the future now) travel to the past to study it, even if the historians usually get into trouble. The first book I read by Willis was "Doomsday Book", which takes place in 1300s/2060, well in my favorite historic period, the middle ages. The second book was "To Say Nothing Of the Dog", taking place in 1800s/2060, not my favorite period, but the Victorians are still interesting and entertaining. The latest time travelling historians book(s) is/are "Blackout" and "All Clear", two novels that are one story (they cannot be read out-of-order or separately). This story takes place in 1940/45 and 2060, the Second World War in England. Definitely not my favorite period, too close to home. Because of that I was hesitant to read this story. Eventually the fact that it was by Willis won out over my non-love (not hate) for the period. And I am so glad I did, because this story was terrific.

We're back with the Oxford historians in the 2060s. Several students have trips planned to the past for their research. However, the lab is canceling trips left and right and switching schedules around. Michael, Polly and Merope try their best to have their trips to the past happen anyway, despite being less than well prepared. Merope goes to the English countryside in WWII, as a servant at a country house that has taken in evacuated children from London. Polly is in London during the Blitz, safe because she knows where the bombs will hit. And Michael is near Dover to experience the evacuation of British soldiers from France by the local fishermen.
But the lab had its reasons for being so panicky with regards to the time-travel trips. Because things don't seem to happen as they should. And our students are doing things that seem to affect the past. Could they, by saving one of their local friends or by being caught up in the moment, change the outcome of the Battle of Britain? And how will they return to Oxford, now that the drop sites seem disabled? And is Professor Dunworthy just going to leave them stuck in the past?

Because the historians in these stories are remarkably similar to us (living in relative peace, with advanced technology) their observations of the period of WWII and the people living through that time are very relatable. Even for me, someone who rather avoids any 'entertainment' to do with WWII, these two books were great. I think the fact that the story is contained in England (mostly London and surroundings) and because the people who Merope, Polly and Michael meet are just the regular people from the street, it makes it hit home. People working in a store, trying to keep their daily lives going despite nightly bombing raids. The time-travel adventure (will they return home, have they ruined the future, will they die in the past?) is very good too, and you feel the sense of urgency in the story. Simply terrific, and I really understand why this book has already won the big three awards of science fiction (Hugo, Nebula and Locus) and was nominated for one more (Campbell memorial award). For me, both parts are five out of five stars.

Ago 3, 2014, 1:30 pm

40. The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (29-05-2014 / 01-06-2014)

Ago 3, 2014, 1:31 pm

41. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (01-06-2014 / 07-06-2014)

Ago 3, 2014, 1:32 pm

Ago 3, 2014, 1:33 pm

43. House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (14-06-2014 / 21-06-2014)

Ago 3, 2014, 1:34 pm

44. Don't Try To Find Me by Holly Brown (22-06-2014)

Note: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through the You Review program of The American Book Centre.

I have to be honest here, when I saw that "Don't Try To Find Me" by Holly Brown was recommended for those who loved "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn I was intrigued. But does this book live up to "Gone Girl", a book that people seem to love or hate, not much in between?

Marley is a fourteen-year-old girl from a happy, normal suburban family. Dad Paul is a control freak, and mom Rachel is a homely wife with a job to keep her occupied. They have no money troubles, they live in a nice former farm in a small town; in short, everything seems to be well.
But then Marley disappears, leaving behind her iPhone, iPad and a note on the whiteboard in the kitchen, telling her parents "Don't Try To Find Me". Of course they don't listen, and Paul starts an online campaign, using Facebook and Twitter and a special website to draw attention to their lost daughter. Rachel seems lost, not knowing what to do or how to react. Soon it is revealed that she has her own secrets, secrets that made her lie to the police about where she was the morning Marley disappeared.

The book follows Marley and what happens to her, and Rachel in her own struggles and search for Marley. The twist in the story is not as shocking (or sick) as the one in "Gone Girl", but for me, that made the story more real. Marley is a pretty grown-up fourteen-year-old, maybe a bit too grown-up to be realistic. However, Rachel's side of the story felt very human and very realistic. Partly this is because of her flaws; she is not a perfect mother or wife. It is also because the other people in the story, Paul and others, react in very human ways. Everybody is flawed but everybody tries their best.
I read this book in one day, it is a quick read. On the one hand that is because it is not very surprising, it is a 'real' story. On the other hand, it doesn't need to be anything else, it is good as it is. I would recommend this book to those readers who like real-life drama, and those who felt that "Gone Girl" was just a bit too much. I enjoyed this book, and give it four out of five stars.

Ago 3, 2014, 1:34 pm

45. Tower of Glass by Robert Silverberg (23-06-2014 / 28-06-2014)

Ago 3, 2014, 1:35 pm

46. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (28-06-2014 / 30-06-2014)

Ago 3, 2014, 1:36 pm

47. Sister Alice by Robert Reed (01-07-2014 / 06-07-2014)

Editado: Ago 3, 2014, 1:39 pm

48. Saturn's Children by Charles Stross (06-07-2014 / 15-07-2014)

I read this book in my quest to read as much by authors who will attend the World Con in London (Loncon3) this year, before I go myself. I also read it because Stross is nominated for a Hugo for best novel for Neptune's Brood, which is the (loose) sequel to this book (I only found this out after reading it, in preparation for writing this review). I did NOT read this book because the cover was so inviting.

Freya is an android. More specifically, she is a female android made with the one purpose of being a sex-bot for humans to have sex with. The only problem is that humans were extinct long before she was even 'born'. She lives without being able to fulfill the one goal programmed into her. To earn some money, and escape the wrath of an aristo (an android that is of a higher class, rich, owning other androids), she starts work for the Jeeves corporation, a shady corporation that offers various services, such as smuggling, spying and maybe more. While she's working for Jeeves, she also tries to find out what happened to one of her sisters (made in the same mold, from the same master-mind Rhea) that is not reachable, and to another sister that worked for Jeeves before but has since died. Freya gets caught up into a big quest to recreate 'pink goo', the building block to create a human. This is a controversial issue in android society, as all androids are programmed to see humans as their ultimate masters.

Despite its futuristic setting, with space travel and androids, this still felt like an old spy thriller to me. Some aspects of it were influenced by its setting, but at the heart it was still a thriller. And the thing is, that is not really my genre, and I did not enjoy this book as much as its popularity lead me to expect. I also was confused by Freya's 'voice' sometimes, because she had the memories of her sisters loaded some of the time, and it was her describing the memories of her sister. The book was nice, but not more than that. Three out of five stars.

Editado: Ago 3, 2014, 1:40 pm

49. Terug naar de toekomst/The Space Machine by Christopher Priest (16-07-2014 / 20-07-2014)

I'm a sucker for time travel novels, because it mixes my love for history with my love for science fiction very nicely. So, any time I see a (second-hand) book about time travel, I find it very hard to resist. I picked this book from mount To Be Read at this moment because Christopher Priest is one of the guests at the World Science Fiction Convention in London (Loncon3) this year.

Edward is a traveling salesman in Victorian England. He meets Amelia, assistant to inventor Sir William Reynolds. Edward is a fan of this new invention, the car, and he knows Reynolds is too. He does everything he can to be introduced to Amelia, so he can meet Reynolds and maybe sell him some wares. Amelia and Edward meet, and Edward is smitten with Amelia. Amelia introduces him to Reynolds, and shows him around Reynolds' estate. Reynolds has moved on from cars to other inventions, including a self-propelling bicycle and a... time machine!
Edward and Amelia try out the time machine, that cannot only travel in time, but also in space, and of course, things go wrong. They find themselves in very strange surroundings with very alien beings. Soon they figure out these aliens want to attack and take over earth, and they try everything not only to return to earth, but to save it too.

I read this novel without knowing any of the back story. While reading it I thought it fit rather nicely in with the works of H. G. Wells, 'The Time Machine' and 'War of the Worlds'. After finishing I read on Wikipedia that this was exactly what Priest intended, so I guess he succeeded. What I loved most about this novel was the way Priest really succeeded in making this feel like it not only takes place in Victorian England, but was also written in that time. The adventure of Edward and Amelia itself is pretty fantastic and this book is very enjoyable. I give this book four out of five stars.

Editado: Ago 3, 2014, 1:40 pm

50. Dubbelleven/To Live Again by Robert Silverberg (20-07-2014 / 23-07-2014)

Read in my quest to read as much by writers who are guests at LonCon3 before attending said convention.

In the future it is relatively easy (but expensive) to make a copy of your mind. Rich people make these copies every 6 months or so. When they die, their back-up minds can be implanted in a living person. This second mind lives next to the already present mind(s), enhancing it with more experience and a different out look on things. A good collection of minds can really enhance a person, so it is no wonder that when financial wizard Paul Kaufmann dies, several people want his mind, including his rival in business, John Roditis.
The story follows John's quest for the mind of Paul, but also Mark Kaufmann, Paul's nephew and heir, who tries to prevent Roditis from getting Paul's mind, and maybe try to get it (illegally, for he is family) for himself. And then there is Risa, Mark's daughter, 16 and begging to get an extra mind of her own. When she gets it, she gets dragged into a murder investigation that also has implications for John, Mark and Paul's mind.

This novel mixes a game of power, a murder mystery and science fiction together, and does it quite enjoyably. The story never goes very deep, but I have a feeling I'm saying that just because I'm used to longer novels written nowadays, that have the space to go more in-depth into their characters and story lines. This novel from 1978 (my edition) holds up pretty well if you keep in mind the state of technology back then (no mobile phones, no internet etc.). A nice science fiction novel with a twist on a (for me, as a reader +35 years after this edition was published) familiar idea of downloading/uploading minds. Four out of five stars.

Editado: Ago 3, 2014, 3:18 pm

51. Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb (24-07-2014 / 28-07-2014)

I bought this book (this trilogy actually) over ten years ago when I was really into fantasy series. I always bought trilogies as a whole, because I hated waiting to read the next part, and back then it was a bit harder for me to find books. So, anyway, I bought the entire Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb because it was (still is) considered a very good fantasy series. I started reading it... and after about 150 pages put the first book down and never looked at it again. The depressing life of Fitz the bastard just was too much for me. I've seen this trilogy on many best of lists and recommendation lists but never had the courage to pick it back up again. Depressing books just aren't for me. I even had one LibraryThinger say to me that she could see why I personally did not like it.
But this year I'm going to the World Science Fiction Convention (LonCon3), and Robin Hobb is one of the guests of honor. I felt bad thinking that I might attend a session, and still not have read any of the Farseer books. So, I picked "Assassin's Apprentice" back up, and started again.

FitzChivalry is the bastard son of King-in-Waiting, Prince Chivalry Farseer of the Six Duchies. When he's six he's brought to the palace by his mother's family, and from then on he's a disruptive force in the court, whether he wants to or not. He is raised by his father's man and stable master Burrich. His father gives up his throne and leaves the court (and Fitz) because of Fitz. Meanwhile Fitz learns that his connection to animals, the way he can be in their minds, is called the Wit and is forbidden and punishable by death. He is called to the king, and from then on he's the king's man. He is secretly apprenticed to the king's assassin Chade, while also being trained in other skills like fighting, writing, reading, and the Skill. The Skill is magic mostly used by those of the Farseer line where they can see the minds of others with the Skill, to exchange information with them, give or receive strength or to influence others without them knowing. Fitz's life is busy, complicated and difficult. He is sent on missions for the king, and has to survive court life, which is made difficult by him being a bastard.

There is a lot going on in this story, and Fitz seems to draw the short straw so many times. That is the aspect of the book that made me put it down a decade ago, and it took some effort to keep going this time. At the end I was just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. That is not a nice feeling, and it made reading this book not all that enjoyable. But the rest of the story is pretty good. I like the magic of the Skill and the Wit. I liked the mystery of the Red Ship Raiders and Forging which makes people seem zombie-like (alive but without morals or any real soul). And the hint of the Elderlings, which seem to get larger in following books (because this trilogy is one of several in an arc called "Realm of the Elderlings") is what draws me to the next book. Not quite my cup of tea but still good. Four out of five stars.

Ago 3, 2014, 2:29 pm

Glad you loved the Connie Willis! What a great batch of reading you've been doing. Charlie Stross just does not jibe with my mind, unfortunately--we are always off-kilter.

Ago 3, 2014, 3:22 pm

I'm going to give Stross another chance, because I kinda was put of from the beginning by the horrendous cover (I mean, really!?). Neptune's Brood seems to be reviewed pretty well, so if I can pick that one up cheaply I will.

Ago 11, 2014, 5:14 pm

Cover seems ok to me !

Ago 14, 2014, 10:06 pm

I actually just finished The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross, the fifth of the Laundry books. I thought the first two had some great premises but fell flat, haven't read the next two, but thought this one was better.

Set 10, 2014, 11:47 pm

I have to try Charles Stross, friends of mine love him and Don keeps on pushing him on me...

And I've already got those Connie Willis novels on the shelves, MUST dust them off!

Dez 24, 2014, 12:20 am

Sara, it's Chrismas Eve's eve, and so I am starting the rounds of wishing my 75er friends the merriest of Christmases or whatever the solstice celebration of their choice is.