100+ Reading Challenge

May 7, 2010 at 6:25 am (100+ Reading, fiction) (, , , , , )

Just an update on how I am going .  I started the year so well.  In January I read 8 books.  That was great.  Since then I’ve read 11.  19 books.  A little off my target of 40 by the end of April.  Admittedly, I’ve been really distracted this year so far and things are only just settling down.  But at least I’m reading again, and for the most part I’m reading books I’ve never read.

Okay, I reread 100 Years of Solitude but I hadn’t read it in nearly three years so it was kind of like reading it for the first time.

I did, however find a delightful YA novel by Scott Westerfeld called “Specials”.  It is the third book in a series but there is enough backstory interspersed throughout to fill you in and it isn’t done in an info dump that just annoys people who have actually read the previous two books so that doesn’t really bother it.

I really enjoyed reading it and it reminded me how much fun reading could be.  There is depth to the story if you want to look at the bigger issues but you can also just glance over them and enjoy the story.  At times you may want to ditch Tally, the protagonist, in favour of one of the more interesting characters but for the most part the story works well at keeping you drawn in.

I may not succeed at the 100+ target but I am enjoying the journey.  Hope everyone else who took on this challenge is enjoying it as well.

By the way, I’ve had First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde sitting on my desk for nearly two days and I still don’t know whether I want to read it or not.  Has anyone read it before?

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Refelctions of the Week That Was 10

January 10, 2010 at 12:09 am (100+ Reading, Author Info, Weekly Review) (, , , )

So I am back and only a day after I hoped to get internet access so that wasn’t too bad.  I felt really out of touch though.  The move went well and most of the boxes have been unpacked.  Almost nothing was broken and I haven’t had too much trouble finding things.  I also made a good start on the 100+ Reading Challenge and in the absence of any blogs I’m going to do a brief reflection on the reading I’ve done this week.

1.  Into the Void by Nigel Finley – It was part two of a series and it turns out I’ve read the book that comes after this.  Like most series it spends the first five chapters giving repeated references to events in the previous book however this one is particularly annoying because in those first five chapters I was told five different ways how Teldin came by the cloak as he explained it to five other characters.  Once they finally got over that the book was not bad.  The characters were interesting enough, though the protagonist (Teldin) really bugged me and his decision making process was terribly flawed which made me want to insult him at every turn.  Plus the double cross at the end could have been guessed by someone only skimming the book so it wasn’t really surprising.  Still, not too bad a read.  There is momentum in this story even if all the individual pieces are annoying.

2.  Darkness Falls by Margaret Murphy – Confusing.  Possibly because I was reading this after my house was packed up and I was stressed and tired but the jumps between scenes frequently lost me and overall I just didn’t care enough about our main character to really care whether she was ever found or not.  As a non fantasy it was going to have to work hard to grab me and it just didn’t.

3.  Toreador by Stewart Wieck – First part of a series only they don’t mention it doesn’t even begin to finish.  This whole book feels like an opening sequence and then it stops.  Annoying to say the least.  Plus, the vampire clans are boring when described to you as opposed to playing the game and getting to be one of the clans and interact with the others.  The multiple perspectives really drags this book down because the replays aren’t interesting enough and not enough new information is given to make them worth while.  Plus, most of the reveals are information you’ve already inferred so it makes you feel like they are talking down to you and assuming you can’t put two and two together to make 4.

4.  Justice by Faye Kellerman – One of the few non-fantasy authors I am a real fan of, I hated this book.  She jumps from third person to first person and it is jarring to the flow, unnecessary and really quite confusing at times.  The crime and investigation was just not as interesting as other books in this series and overall, I was very disappointed.  Plus, the family concerns took a definite back seat.  There was a story going on and it could have been interesting but it was sidelined constantly to the point where it was all but disappeared and then reappeared once everything else was wrapped up.

4 down and only 96 to go.  I don’t think I’m going to get there but I’ve had fun this week just enjoying the act of reading.

Thanks everyone for your support during my move and the blog will be back to normal next week.

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Happy New (Writing) Year

January 1, 2010 at 5:25 am (100+ Reading, Work In Progress) (, , , , , )

Very short post today.

We are finally in 2010.

That means I am really starting the 100+ Reading Challenge.  I have my first book ready to go. Given I know that I’m going to fall short of this challenge I am hoping that I can at least pretend that I might make the target for a few weeks.  It might make me feel better about the whole thing.

As far as writing, I am just going to wait until after the move and then I am going to finally start a new project for real (not just dabble in bits and pieces like I have been in between editing) and I am going to fix an old draft that has been lying around for a year now.  I think I finally figured out how to fix it.  Throw half the characters out of the story, refocus on the character who is actually most interesting, and stop trying to give equal space to all the subplots.  After I rewrite the entire thing with that in mind I’ll see how it goes but I think it will have to be better.

Things to read, things to write, houses to move.  Busy, busy, busy.  Here is hoping for a fun and productive year for myself and for everyone else.  Best of luck in 2010.

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The Read List

December 17, 2009 at 4:52 am (100+ Reading) (, , )

Last week I made the decision to join in the 100+ Reading Challenge.  I decided the best way to start out the new year would be by having a line up of books so that I didn’t spend two or three days reading blurbs and first pages and not actually starting any real reading.  As the first things that were packed in my house were the ‘unread’ books that were lying around I salvaged eight novels from the pile to stay out so that I had something to start with.  These books were chosen on the basis of they were the ones that fell out of the box and I was sick of trying to get the box shut with them in it.  Probably not a great reason to choose a book but as I already own them, it is as good a way as any.

Here they are, in no particular order (actually they are in the order that they are currently sitting on my desk):

Into the Void by Nigel Findley: This is actually part two of The Cloakmaster Cycle and I have read part one though it was several years ago now.  I do love the first line from the blurb:  “Plunged into a sea of alien faces, Teldin Moore isn’t sure whom to trust.”  Conspiracy, aliens and paranoia all in one sentence.  I like it.  And the cover art is kind of interesting with our protagonist flanked by a squid-like purple thing and a blue guy that looks like he has scales running up his arms.  Plus he is wearing a cloak (as you would expect from the cloakmaster) and I am a sucker for a guy in a cloak.

Why haven’t I read it already? Simple.  I read the first one.  I read it all the way through, I didn’t overly dislike it but it isn’t one of my all time favourites.  I couldn’t tell you where it actually was on my shelves.  I honestly couldn’t recall the name of the main character until I read it on the back of the book.  That isn’t to say anything against this book.  It just explains why every time I have picked it up to read, I’ve put it back down and found something else to do.

Darkness Falls by Margaret Murphy: This books is apparently “A model of what the modern suspense thriller should be.” according to Val McDermid on the back of the cover.  Woman has everything, woman is kidnapped and chained to a wall.  Meanwhile a detective leads a ‘frantic’ search for her.  I have to admit the blurb is doing nothing for me here but the cover just grabbed me.  Very blue – blue bricks, blue floor, woman in shadows sitting on the ground, arms suspended above her, chained to the wall.  The title and author name are in bright red, raised type.  It really got my attention.

Why haven’t I read it already? Reading the blurb makes me feel like I’m being stalked by a mass-cliche.  It doesn’t help that the opening is clearly the internal dialogue of the kidnapper and it also sounds fairly familiar.    Hopefully once I get into the story I’ll be so sucked in by the suspense and thrills that I’ll just enjoy it.

Justice by Faye Kellerman: I love Faye Kellerman and I love Detective Sergeant Peter Decker and all six of the books I have already read in this series (too bad I didn’t read them in order because while each crime is individual, the family life is definitely serialised).  I’m not quite sure where Justice fits in the order yet but as it doesn’t list one of the books I’ve already read I assume it is before that.  The cover is nothing to write home about being basic black with the author name nearly four times the size of the title but I already love the series so I know I’m going to enjoy the book.

Why haven’t I read it already? To be perfectly honest, I forgot it was in the pile.  I had a bunch of fantasy on top of it and it just kind of got buried.

Brog the Stoop by Joe Boyle: A point fantasy novel about preventing encroaching darkness with one Stoop who will not accept defeat.  There is a perilous quest leading to a final, “and possibly fatal,” battle.  Again I may have moved on accept that the cover is intriguing.  Lots of eyes and faces, little blue creatures with really cool hair surrounded by grass and rocks and trees.  It just looks really pretty and interesting.

Why haven’t I read it already? Every fantasy cliche has been ticked in this blurb.  World in peril.  Check.  One person who can stop it (or in this case, Stoop).  Check.  Epic battle.  Check.  Light fading.  Check.  Plus, the main character is called Brog.  What kind of a name is that?  Still I think once I get into this one I will enjoy reading it.

Others in my list:

Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle

The Man In The Tree by Damon Knight

Resident Evil – City of the Dead by S.D. Perry – yes I am reading a novelisation based on a movie.

Toreador by Steward Wieck – yes I am reading a novel based off an RPG game.    I think you can tell why these books are still in my stack.


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Reading Challenge

December 9, 2009 at 5:00 am (100+ Reading, Feature) (, , )

Tam from Bailey’s and Books posted about how they were going to take part in the 100+ Reading  Challenge for 2010.  Following the links I found the original site.  J. Kaye has issued the 100+ Reading Challenge for 2010 and I have foolishly signed myself up.  I am not hugely optimistic of my chances but I signed up for a few reasons.

My first reason is simple.  I have well over a hundred books lying around waiting to be read.  Many of them have been waiting for nearly all of this year while others are more recent acquisitions.  This might actually get me reading through some new material.

The second reason is that I think it is going to be a really fun challenge.  I love reading and too often I find other things to do.  Admittedly a lot of my reading time is now taken up by writing, or by reading blogs, but I love reading books and this will help me to make more time for it.

Finally, I like challenges.  I like meeting them.  I like overcoming obstacles and making things work.  I also like there not being actual consequences should I fail.  It will be a challenge, but a safe one where if I meet it I get satisfaction, if I don’t, well there is next year.

So, are you going to take the challenge?

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