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Jan. 25th, 2015

10:07 pm - Books 21 & 22 - 2014

Book 21: Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan – 326 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have been scattered, and their home ship destroyed. The mission to rescue their parents didn't go quite as planned, and now they're at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Will Seth's health hold out long enough to help Waverly topple their enemy? And will Waverly find a way to unite her friends before the final battle? Nothing is certain and every second counts in this explosive and romantic finale.

Thoughts:
This was an interesting end to this series. Half the story is told by the kids trapped on the enemy ship and the other half is told by a group of unknown survivors (also kids) on the original ship. The adults in this book leave a lot to be desired, and raise a lot of questions about the processes through which they were first chosen to go on the ship (which is touched on) and whilst all the kids are flawed in their own ways, they are streets ahead of their parents. Perhaps the one good thing to come out of it is that said kids become better adults by virtue of what they go through and what their parents do (fanciful perhaps, but oh well). The resolution is true to the characters, and secures some sort of future for humanity, despite the hard work of the more deceitful (and frankly sometimes creepy) adults to seemingly ruin humanity’s chances of survival because of their own selfishness. I still maintain that its very much like ‘Lord of the Flies’ in space, but perhaps with a more hopeful resolution. An interesting read.


21 / 50 books. 42% done!


7664 / 15000 pages. 51% done!

Book 22: A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce – 395 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
This winner of the William C. Morris Award for best YA debut novel is a ghost story, spun with a romance, woven with a mystery, and shot through with fairy tale. The gold thread promises Charlotte Miller a chance to save her family's beloved woolen mill. It promises a future for her sister, jobs for her townsfolk, security against her grasping uncle -- maybe even true love. To get the thread, Charlotte must strike a bargain with its maker, the mysterious Jack Spinner. But the gleam of gold conjures a shadowy past -- secrets ensnaring generations of Millers. And Charlotte's mill, her family, her love -- what do those matter to a stranger who can spin straw into gold? This is an award-winning and wholly original retelling of "Rumplestiltskin."

Thoughts:
The story of Rumplestiltskin used to creep me out as a kid, but I have taken a liking to the character himself since getting into the show ‘Once Upon a Time’ and other re-tellings of fairytales. This one is a slightly more industrial version of the story, with poor Charlotte Miller struggling to run her family’s mill after her father dies. The mill supports the whole town and Charlotte feels a responsibility to keep it running successfully, and though she realizes this will be tough, she doesn’t anticipate all the problems that come her way. Whilst there are good things that come out of some of these good things (for example, she finds herself a husband), most are bad. Charlotte believes this is all just a case of bad luck, but her little sister thinks they are cursed, and along the way, a mysterious spinner who turns up just when they need him seems to suggest there is something slightly supernatural going on. This was a fascinating take on the Rumplestiltskin story, which took away elements of the malevolence of the original character, but also made the main female character more relatable. Recommended if you’re into fairytale retellings.


22 / 50 books. 44% done!


8059 / 15000 pages. 54% done!

Currently reading:
-        Sunshine on Sugar Hill by Angela Gilltrap – 310 pages
-        The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss – 323 pages
-        Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton – 596 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: The West Wing on TV

Jan. 4th, 2015

08:44 am - Books 19 & 20 - 2014

Book 19: The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of the Iliad by Caroline Alexander – 277 pages

Description from Goodreads:
Few warriors, in life or literature, have challenged their commanding officer and the rationale of the war they fought as fiercely as did Homer's hero Achilles. Today, the Iliad is celebrated as one of the greatest works in literature, the epic of all epics; many have forgotten that the subject of this ancient poem was war-not merely the poetical romance of the war at Troy, but war, in all its enduring devastation.
Using the legend of the Trojan war, the Iliad addresses the central questions defining the war experience of every age: Is a warrior ever justified in standing up against his commander? Must he sacrifice his life for someone else's cause? Giving his life for his country, does a man betray his family? How is a catastrophic war ever allowed to start-and why, if all parties wish it over, can it not be ended?
As she did with The Endurance and The Bounty, Caroline Alexander lets us see why a familiar story has had such an impact on us for centuries, revealing what Homer really meant. Written with the authority of a scholar and the vigor of a bestselling narrative historian, The War That Killed Achilles is a superb and utterly timely presentation of one of the timeless stories of our civilization.

Thoughts:
This is a very detailed analysis of the Trojan war in literature, questioning not whether it happened, but how accurate the background information in it is in comparison to more verifiable information from the time. It looks at artifacts, documents etc, and compares information in those to things like the region discussed in the Iliad, the metals, animal use, communities, military structure etc. It’s quite fascinating, even though it obviously doesn’t validate the overall story of the Iliad. For the Trojan war nerds of the world.


19 / 50 books. 38% done!


6829 / 15000 pages. 46% done!

Book 20: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
WHAT WAS LOST WILL BE FOUND...Washington DC: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned at the last minute to deliver an evening lecture in the Capitol Building. Within moments of his arrival, however, a disturbing object - gruesomely encoded with five symbols - is discovered at the epicentre of the Rotunda. It is, he recognises, an ancient invitation, meant to beckon its recipient towards a long-lost world of hidden esoteric wisdom. When Langdon's revered mentor, Peter Solomon - philanthropist and prominent mason - is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes that his only hope of saving his friend's life is to accept this mysterious summons and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon finds himself quickly swept behind the facade of America's most historic city into the unseen chambers, temples and tunnels which exist there. All that was familiar is transformed into a shadowy, clandestine world of an artfully concealed past in which Masonic secrets and never-before-seen revelations seem to be leading him to a single impossible and inconceivable truth. A brilliantly composed tapestry of veiled histories, arcane icons and enigmatic codes, The Lost Symbol is an intelligent, lightning-paced thriller that offers surprises at every turn. For, as Robert Langdon will discover, there is nothing more extraordinary or shocking than the secret which hides in plain sight...

Thoughts:
I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages, and thought I’d be really into it particularly because I have actually been to D.C. and have a bit more of a reference in what Langdon is describing. The problem is, whilst Davinci Code, and Angels and Demons had plots that you could almost believe, this one really descends into the world of unbelievable. It feels like Brown decided to write a book about ‘The Secret’ and try to make it believable. I really wanted to like it, and I was really fascinated by the stuff about the Masons (my great grandfather was a Mason – never knew him), but the rest of it was just fanciful, I couldn’t sit there and go ‘oh yes, I see how one could draw those conclusions’. Very pseudo science-y. The pacing is also a bit slow though the writing quality itself is improved. The twist I didn’t necessarily see until the last little bit, but its very ‘big movie’ typical, and that kind of cheapened it. Not a bad read, if you can suspend belief a bit more than you would have done for the previous two, but could have been better.


20 / 50 books. 40% done!


7338 / 15000 pages. 49% done!

Currently reading:
-        Sunshine on Sugar Hill by Angela Gilltrap – 310 pages
-        Westminister Abbey: Official Guide by Dean and Chapter of Westminister – 120 pages
-        The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss – 323 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: hothot
Current Music: Ghost - Ella Henderson

Dec. 30th, 2014

11:14 pm - Books 17 & 18 - 2014

Book 17: I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – 700 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Can you commit the perfect crime? Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn't exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation. But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder - and Pilgrim wrote the book. What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.

Thoughts:
This was a bloody good book! Long, very long, and it requires your full attention, but my, my, it was good! Hayes has put together a very possible, very intense thriller, and created an intriguing, if slightly improbable hero. I actually didn’t pick this book out for myself; a friend recommended it for some strange reason, and I’m yet to find it in the pages of the local newspaper’s culture section, or see it in a bookstore (I borrowed it from the library) but bloody hell, it belongs there.
Ebola seemed to be the word on the street in 2014, with the epidemic in West Africa, and if that had started before I’d started reading this book, I think it would have made it all the more frightening. Still, the idea of a terrorist using medical knowledge that seemed rather easy for him to find, and creating a new, even more deadly, strain of Ebola and then making it airborne and releasing it in America is a very scary possibility, and one that Hayes manages to demonstrate could be all too possible. There’s a part of me that always knew things would turn out okay (very rarely does a book deviate from this ending) but watching Pilgrim try to catch up and matters get more and more dire makes for a very intense read. I also learned a lot about the region of Turkey that the book is predominately set in, which was very fascinating (I always think an author has done a good job if you want to google things they have mentioned to learn more).
I could go on for days, but I think I’d spoil too much, so I’m just going to stay short and sweet – buy, borrow or steal (okay, don’t steal) this book and read it! Dedicate a weekend, and even if the first 100 pages feel like a lot of background, persevere – there’s a reason, and it’s worth it!


17 / 50 books. 34% done!


6293 / 15000 pages. 42% done!

Book 18: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Sixth: The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket – 259 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
There is nothing to be found in the pages of A Series of Unfortunate Events but misery and despair. You still have time to choose another international best-seller to read. But if you must know what unpleasantries befall the charming and clever Baudelaire children read on...The Ersatz Elevator is the sixth instalment in A Series of Unfortunate Events in which Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire encounter a darkened staircase, a red herring, friends in a dire situation, three mysterious initials, a liar with an evil scheme, a secret passageway and parsley soda.

Thoughts:
This Unfortunate Events book introduces the character of Esme, and reintroduces, briefly, the Quagmire triplets (of which there is only two). Esme is weird, and her husband pathetic, and the idea of a baby climbing an elevator shaft with her teeth makes me cry for my dentist, but it’s a charming enough story, and I can’t help but really feel for the poor Baudelaire kids. A quick, fun read, that manages to keep one engaged with the story now that things are finally starting to develop.


18 / 50 books. 36% done!


6552 / 15000 pages. 44% done!

Currently reading:
-        Sunshine on Sugar Hill by Angela Gilltrap – 310 pages
-        Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs – 462 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Eleventh: The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket – 323 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Outside - Calvin Harris featuring Ellie Goulding

08:09 pm - Books 15 & 16 - 2014

Book 15: Man Drought and Other Social Issues of the New Century by Bernard Salt – 276 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Why are there so many single women in their 30s? What's an OFFAL? In this entertaining and insightful book, social commentator Bernard Salt answers these and many other pressing questions about contemporary Australia. Drawing on current census data and his own research, he presents a quirky, enlightening tour of the world we live in.

Thoughts:
I have wanted to read this book for ages, mostly because its written by an Australian, and that Australian, Mr Salt, works for one of the Big Four accounting firms, and I work (or used to work) for one of the Big Four accounting firms. I also am really into demographics (which probably makes more sense as a reason to read a book). So, anyway, the downside is its taken me about fie years to read this book, so its rather out of date (it was written in 2006, I think). Ignoring that, and Mr Salt’s constant comment about how Generation Y had never experienced an economic downturn (the whole GFC happening the year after this book must have really annoyed Mr Salt), the points Mr Salt raises are very interesting, and he is fair across the generations, criticizing and celebrating them in equal measure (when I’ve tried to raise some of his point with my mother, a Baby Boomer, comparing their parenting of me, a Generation Y, unfortunately she’s chosen not to listen – sigh!). Moreover, its pretty obvious from reading this book why I’m struggling to find myself a man; there just isn’t many available ones in my city (apparently I need to move to a mining town – eek!). Overall, a very interesting read – I’m not sure I’d use it as a dating guide, but it will definitely help you stand up to any Baby Boomer parents or combat complaints from your Generation Y kids (oh, and those Generation X people!).


15 / 50 books. 30% done!


5198 / 15000 pages. 35% done!

Book 16: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - 395 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
THE #1 "NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?

Thoughts:
This book is nuts. Truly, truly nuts. It asks the question, ‘do you truly know someone?’. I’m not sure if it answered that question, to be honest, but it certainly frightened the crap out of me. Its books like this that make me not want to get married. I’m not sure if too many people don’t now the plot, given its just been released as a film, but anyway, Amy Dunne disappears on her five wedding anniversary, and everything points towards her husband, Nick. Nick’s biggest problem is not that he actually has killed his wife, but that every bit of circumstantial evidence points to that he did. I must say I did not at all expect the twist in this book, even if I did believe that Nick didn’t kill Amy. That’s the point where the book gets disturbing, and perhaps, rather unbelievable. By the end, I decided that Nick and Amy were meant for each other – I’m fairly sure they were as nuts as each other in many respects. Anyway, as I said, its these kind of books that scare me off marriage (maybe that’s why I don’t have a man!) – here’s to hoping that people such as these characters are few and far in between in the real world. An interesting read if not a disturbing one.


16 / 50 books. 32% done!


5593 / 15000 pages. 37% done!

Currently reading:
-        Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything by Harold L. Sirkin, James W. Hemerling and Arindam K. Bhattacharya – 267 pages
-        Sunshine on Sugar Hill by Angela Gilltrap – 310 pages
-        Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs – 462 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Castle on TV

Dec. 27th, 2014

09:36 pm - Books 13 & 14 - 2014

Book 13: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Fifth: The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket – 221 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
As the three Baudelaire orphans warily approach their new home Prufrock Preparatory School: they can′t help but notice the enormous stone arch bearing the school′s motto Memento Mori or "Remember you will die." This is not a cheerful greeting and certainly marks an inauspicious beginning to a very bleak story just as we have come to expect from Lemony Snickett′s Series of Unfortunate Events, the deliciously morbid set of books that began with The Bad Beginning and only got worse.

Thoughts:
Still working my way through these. This one introduces the characters of Isadora and Duncan Quagmire who seem to be in a fairly similar situation to the Baudelaire children and who attempt to help them escape Olaf once again. This time he is disguised as a running coach he tries to run the children effectively to death. The ending’s to these books are starting to get more and more adult in their content, a trend I have noticed as I get further through the series. Still relatively interesting and nice quick reads.


13 / 50 books. 26% done!


4580 / 15000 pages. 31% done!

Book 14: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – 342 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in a dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny. Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday, when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom's mountaintop, nothing is as she expected--particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can't resist the pull of her sworn enemy--who's gotten in her way by stealing her heart. For fans of bestselling authors Kristin Cashore and Alex Flinn, this gorgeously written debut infuses the classic fairy tale with glittering magic, a feisty heroine, and a romance sure to take your breath away.

Thoughts:
This was a delicious story. It came up on my recommend Goodreads email one month and I put it on my list and for some reason decided to get it from the library while I was on a short break between finishing one job and starting a new one. I wasn’t expecting it to be so delicious, but I have no other word to describe it. It’s a combination of Beauty and the Beast, Graceling (another book I adore), and various mythologies (there is elements of the Psyche and Eros story from Greek mythology). All are things I love. But it could have failed really bad if not for the manner in which Hodge makes her very reluctant, very bitter main character work. Nyx resents her life, resents her sister, resents her purpose, resents her resentment. On her seventeenth birthday she is sent to kill the beast that lives in the castle on the mountaintop. She goes in guns blazing, willing to throw herself at this beast, in order to trick him and kill him. Her plans don’t go the way she intends, and there is an immediate, hate-filled attraction. Hodge does a fantastic job of showing just how thin the line between love and hate is. Nyx wants nothing more than to kill her captor, but she is also drawn to him and to a strange being that lives in the castle. The relationship between all three is bizarre and fascinating and watching it evolve is what makes this story so good. You want it to work out for everyone, even though, maybe, everyone is maybe a little evil, or a little selfish, and maybe they don’t deserve a happy ending. Nyx’s flaws as a person are what make her so engaging for me. I love misunderstood characters, I love romances that make you wonder whether the couple should really be together, even though they make perfect sense in many ways. I flew through this book, determined to find out how it ended, and I loved the ending. It was fitting without being soppy or overly cheerful. For not entirely human characters, it was beautifully human. Highly recommended!


14 / 50 books. 28% done!


4922 / 15000 pages. 33% done!

Currently reading:
-        Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs – 283 pages
-        Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything by Harold L. Sirkin, James W. Hemerling and Arindam K. Bhattacharya – 267 pages
-        Sunshine on Sugar Hill by Angela Gilltrap – 310 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: The Newsroom on TV

Dec. 26th, 2014

10:24 pm - Books 11 & 12 - 2014

Book 11: Celebrity Crimes: The Dark Side of the Limelight by Xavier Waterkeyn – 233 pages

Description from Goodreads:
Victims, survivors, killers and suicides: all the people in this book are celebrities whose lives have gone awry. Celebrity has always come at a cost. If there were such a thing as a manual for how to survive celebrity, one of its key points would have to be: 'Abandon all hope of a private life, ye who enter here.' Celebrities have, almost by definition, always had to make deals with the devils offame and fortune and access to extraordinary experiences and really great bananas in exchange for being public property. From Wild Bill Hickock and Jesse James, and the Drugs and Deaths in the Silent Era to the mystery murder of Joy and George 'Born Free' Adamson and the tragedies of celebrities like Versace, this book has all the killings, suicides, victims of crime and drug crimes that shocked the world. The tragedies of the deaths of the Beatles stars John Lennon and George Harrison are included, as are the 'trials of the centuries', like OJ Simpson and Lana Turner and her daughter and then there are the suicides Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the tragic lives of the former child starsRiver Phoenix and Dano Plato.

Thoughts:
I’m a bit of a celebrity gossip lover. This book talks through the deaths, suicides, and murders committed by celebrities. I bought it cheap so I didn’t think it was going to be that great, but its actually a pretty good read. Whilst it covers some of the more famous deaths and murders (John Lennon, OJ Simpson, etc) it also looks at a number of more obscure ones. Mostly this book makes one thing pretty clear: being a celebrity should not be anywhere near as desirable as it seems to be to the majority of people. A decent overview if you’re into celebrity gossip.


11 / 50 books. 22% done!


3922 / 15000 pages. 26% done!

Book 12: The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory – 437 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
A dramatic novel of passion, politics and betrayal from the author of The Other Boleyn Girl. Mary, Queen of Scots, fights to regain her kingdom whilst under the guard of Queen Elizabeth's trusted accomplice, Bess of Hardwick. Mary is Queen of Scotland but she has been forced to flee her land and take refuge in an England that is ruled by her cousin Elizabeth. But England, precarious in its Protestant state, set against the mighty powers of Spain, France and Rome, doesn't need a charismatic Catholic figurehead at large. So Elizabeth's chief advisor, Cecil, devises a plan in which Mary will live under guard with his trusted accomplice: Bess of Hardwick. Bess is a self-made woman, a shrewd survivor. She is newly married to her fourth and most distinguished husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury. But what marriage can withstand the charms of Mary? Or the threat of rebellion that she always carries? Mary must wait in her privileged imprisonment for the return to Scotland and her infant son; but waiting is not the same as doing nothing...With her characteristic combination of superb storytelling and authentic historical background, Philippa Gregory brings to life this period of great change, in a riveting tale of betrayal, loyalty, politics and passion.

Thoughts:
I have been planning to finish the Tudor Court novels for sometime, and for some reason decided this time was it. This is the final book in the series (which is not chronological, which annoys me) and it tells the story of Mary Queen of Scots. I’ll admit I don’t know much about Mary, as my interest in the Tudors has usually only extended to Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, so it was very interesting to read about her. However, to be honest, it was really Bess of Hardwick that kept me reading. I had never heard of Bess, but I ended up googling her after reading this book, and I was very impressed to read about her. Whether or not her husband, the Earl, really did fall in love with Mary seems to be up in the air, but nonetheless, Bess appeared to be a woman of great drive and ambition, much ahead of her time. Mary’s own ambition somehow didn’t seem as admirable when compared to Bess (and Mary came across as spoilt and insolent as well – I didn’t hate her but I didn’t really like her either). Gregory always does a great job of telling the stories of the lesser known figures of history (even if it is with her own spin) and whilst this was Mary’s story, I definitely recommend reading it for Bess.


12 / 50 books. 24% done!


4359 / 15000 pages. 29% done!

Currently reading:
-        Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture by Juliet B. Schor – 258 pages
-        Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs – 283 pages
-        Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything by Harold L. Sirkin, James W. Hemerling and Arindam K. Bhattacharya – 267 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Like I Can - Sam Smith

Dec. 20th, 2014

03:12 pm - Books 51 - 63.

51. St. Jerome - Commentary On Jeremiah (255 pages)
52. Allen - Pray, Hope & Don't Worry: True Stories Of Padre Pio, Book II (466 pages)
53. (St.) Pope John XXIII - Journal Of A Soul (471 pages)
54. (Collins Gems) GI: How To Succeed Using A Glycaemic Index Diet (226 pages)
55. Jacobs - Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest For Bodily Perfection (346 pages)
56. Shin - I'll Be Right There (324 pages)
57. Ferrari - The Italian Vegan (148 pages)
58. St. Vincent Ferrer, with commentary by Ven. Mother Julienne Morrell - A Treatise On Spiritual Life (169 pages)
59. Watson - The Doctrine Of Repentance (115 pages)
60. Watson - The Ten Commandments (245 pages)
61. Cingolani - Gabriel Of Our Lady Of Sorrows: Life & Prayers (78 pages)
62. St. Michael The Archangel (Tan Books) (66 pages)
63. Raemers (comp.) - Devotions To Our Lady Of Perpetual Succour (53 pages)

Total of the year: 15 841 pages.
I will spend the rest of the days reading unfinished books, so the list will start again after New Year.
*rewinding noise* :)

Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: Manic Street Preachers - "Ocean Spray"

Dec. 13th, 2014

09:33 pm - Books 9 & 10 - 2014

Book 9: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson – 746 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Salander is plotting her revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and against the government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life. But it is not going to be a straightforward campaign. After taking a bullet to the head, Salander is under close supervision in Intensive Care, and is set to face trial for three murders and one attempted murder on her eventual release. With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his researchers at Millennium magazine, Salander must not only prove her innocence, but identify and denounce the corrupt politicians that have allowed the vulnerable to become victims of abuse and violence. Once a victim herself, Salander is now ready to fight back.

Thoughts:
This is the final Millennium book written by Larsson before he died. Having read the first two almost two years ago, I did have to flip through them to remember the plot (particularly the second one), but this book very quickly sets up enough to remind you of the backstory without rehashing the whole thing. Larsson manages to keep several stories running at the same time, and tie them all together in a very believable fashion. Salander and Blomkvist’s relationship is rocky but it is evident they care about each other, and for the most part, Larsson manages to keep them out of clichéd territory. The story is very complex, and in some respects (and partly because I’ve never been to Sweden and know little about the country – sorry, Sweden!) seems almost too fanciful to be set somewhere like Sweden. But Larsson pulls it all together so nicely and closes the overall book (without closing it, you can totally see the possibility for future books, such a shame he died) so comfortably that you can’t help enjoy it. A nice long solid read with a solid, interesting plot and fleshed out, three-dimensional characters. Definitely recommend it.


9 / 50 books. 18% done!


3417 / 15000 pages. 23% done!

Book 10: A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl by Mariane Pearl with Sarah Crichton – 272 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
For five weeks the world waited for news about Danny Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan...And then came the broadcast of his shocking murder. The complete account of his abduction, the intense effort to rescue him, and the aftermath are told here - in astonishing detail, and with courage and insight - by his surviving wife Mariane. A Mighty Heart is the unforgettable story of two journalists who fell in love with their work - and with each other. Together, Mariane and Danny Pearl traveled across the globe, dedicated to journalism that increases the under-standing of international politics and of ethnic and religious conflict. In the end, Danny was caught in the dangerous fissure where warring cultures, politics, and ideologies collide. A Mighty Heart is both a portrait of a partner-ship built on the ideals of love, truth, and justice and a critical look at the methods and structure of the Al Qaeda network.

Thoughts:
This is a really important book, and even though it’s an intense, upsetting read, its something everyone should read. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the event itself, but then I was in my teens, and in Australia, and even though it probably made our news, it wasn’t something I paid attention to. The first time I heard about the event was when the movie with Angelina Jolie came out. I’ve never seen the movie, and I didn’t know much about the story before reading the book. This is a very intense read and it took me a while to get through it. Pearl is without a doubt one of the most compassionate, forgiving people on the planet. She manages throughout to be non-judgmental, thankful and by my interpretation, true to her late husband’s wishes for the world. I can’t imagine I would have been anywhere near as understanding in the same circumstances. Moreover, given Pearl was expecting was their first child at the time, its truly a testament to the love she shared with her husband and her own convictions that she managed to remain so compassionate throughout. It’s a lesson for the world, to prevent things like Danny Pearl’s death happening again. A very important book in our polarized world.


10 / 50 books. 20% done!


3689 / 15000 pages. 25% done!

Currently reading:
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Tenth: The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket – 337 pages
-        Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture by Juliet B. Schor – 258 pages
-        Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs – 283 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: The Big Bang Theory on TV

Dec. 5th, 2014

11:59 pm - 2013 Summary

It’s only taken me a year to finish writing up my 2013 book reviews (and with nearly 30 2014 book reviews to write in the next month), but alas I am here. So what happened in 2013? I got promoted to manager at work; I travelled to Hawaii and went on a cruise to far-north Queensland, as well as visiting the most northern point in Australia for work (Thursday Island for those of you playing at home); I started saving for a house. No man yet, no published book, but you’ve got have some goals left over for the next year right? I set myself one goal in 2013 – read 15 500+ page books. I read two. Maybe 2014 will be my year, eh? (yeah right!!). Anyway, on with the list:

1.   Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – 598 pages
2.   Rock Chicks: The Hottest Female Rockers from the 1960s to Now by Alison Stieven-Taylor – 314 pages
3.   206 Bones by Kathy Reichs – 308 pages
4.   Britney: Inside the Dream by Steve Dennis – 400 pages
5.   This Charming Man by Marian Keyes – 885 pages
6.   The Iliad by Homer – 460 pages
7.   The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D – 343 pages
8.   Why Some Like it Hot: Food, Genes, and Cultural Diversity by Gary Paul Nabhan – 223 pages
9.   The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings – 283 pages
10.         Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat by David Gillespie – 205 pages
11.         A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan – 342 pages
12.         Underworld by Meg Cabot – 318 pages
13.         Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan – 385 pages
14.         Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto – 294 pages
15.         The Age of Miracles by Karen Thomson Walker – 369 pages
16.         Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter – 394 pages
17.         Awaken by Meg Cabot – 343 pages
18.         Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan – 375 pages
19.         Insatiable by Meg Cabot – 451 pages
20.         Overbite by Meg Cabot – 275 pages
21.         Pacific Paradises: The Discovery of Tahiti and Hawaii by Trevor Lummis – 201 pages
22.         The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot – 392 pages
23.         The Star Queen by Susan Grant – 322 pages
24.         Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce – 389 pages
25.         Star Trek Enterprise: The Good That Men Do by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin – 446 pages
26.         Company by Max Barry – 336 pages
27.         A Song For Summer by Eva Ibbotson – 424 pages
28.         The Authenticity Hoax: How we get lost finding ourselves by Andrew Potter – 283 pages
29.         Everlost by Neal Shusterman – 377 pages
30.         Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha – 344 pages


30 / 50 books. 60% done!


11079 / 15000 pages. 74% done!

Comparison to 2012:


30 / 42 books. 71% done!


11079 / 11869 pages. 93% done!

Top 5 books (not including re-reads):

5. Sweet Poison
4. Company
3. The Descendants
2. This Charming Man
1. Steve Jobs

Interesting Facts:
Improvement on last year: -12 (-790)
Library books: 22
Non-Fiction: 9
Most read author: Meg Cabot (5 books/1779 pages)
Books with a sci-fi/fantasy element: 14
Re-reads: 0
Sequels/Not a stand alone or first in a series: 7

I had only set myself one goal this year and that was to read 15 pre-selected 500+ pages books. I read two. Consequently for 2014, whilst I didn’t write it down anyway but a entry at the top of my journal, I set myself this goal again, subbing out the two 500+ page books I’d read for two new ones. I can hand on heart say I will not make this goal (something easy to say when its December of said year), but I will beat my result of two (how much by is for another day!). I have set myself no other specific goals for 2014, besides actually hitting the 15000 pages goal which seems to be relatively achievable. We’ll see what 2014 brings (or you will when I write my 2014 summary in a month’s time – I obviously already know what 2014 has brought!).

On to another year folks! Let’s see if I can get the 2014 reviews done before the end of the month.

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Feels Like Home - Chantal Kreviazuk

Nov. 30th, 2014

11:09 pm - Books 29 & 30 - 2013

Book 29: Everlost by Neal Shusterman – 377 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Nick and Allie don't survive the car accident, but their souls don't exactly get where they're supposed to go either. Instead, they're caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no longer exist. It's a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost kids run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth. When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of lost souls, Nick feels like he's found a home, but Allie isn't satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the "Criminal Art" of haunting, and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost. In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

Thoughts:
I thought I was getting a different Neal Shusterman book from the library when I ordered this one. And then I had the misfortune of discovering my local library system doesn’t have the two other books in the series. That’s an aside to the quality of the book but important to me. The idea of this book seems to be that children under a certain age who die become lost souls, a place a bit like limbo. Nick and Allie die at the same time and after initially trying to get ‘home’, accept their fate. Along the way they discover a variety of personalities in this limbo like place, some good, some bad, and some just out for themselves. Nick and Allie’s biggest problem is that they are older than the average occupant of this Everlost world, and they start to question the way things. It is their questions that start to unravel the reality of Everlost and transform good guys into bad and bad into good. It was a bit of a drag at the beginning but quite an interesting book once it got going. Shusterman has taken the concept of limbo, taken its religious context away and created a world around the idea that is visually imaginative. Now if only I could get my hands on the sequels!


29 / 50 books. 58% done!


10735 / 15000 pages. 72% done!

Book 30: Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha – 344 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Since Darwin's day, we've been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. Mainstream science--as well as religious and cultural institutions--has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man's possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman's fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing. Fewer and fewer couples are getting married, and divorce rates keep climbing as adultery and flagging libido drag down even seemingly solid marriages. How can reality be reconciled with the accepted narrative? It can't be, according to renegade thinkers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha. While debunking almost everything we "know" about sex, they offer a bold alternative explanation in this provocative and brilliant book. Ryan and Jetha's central contention is that human beings evolved in egalitarian groups that shared food, child care, and, often, sexual partners. Weaving together convergent, frequently overlooked evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy, and psychosexuality, the authors show how far from human nature monogamy really is. Human beings everywhere and in every era have confronted the same familiar, intimate situations in surprisingly different ways. The authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity. With intelligence, humor, and wonder, Ryan and Jetha show how our promiscuous past haunts our struggles over monogamy, sexual orientation, and family dynamics. They explore why long-term fidelity can be so difficult for so many; why sexual passion tends to fade even as love deepens; why many middle-aged men risk everything for transient affairs with younger women; why homosexuality persists in the face of standard evolutionary logic; and what the human body reveals about the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality. In the tradition of the best historical and scientific writing, Sex at Dawn unapologetically upends unwarranted assumptions and unfounded conclusions while offering a revolutionary understanding of why we live and love as we do.

Thoughts:
This was a fascinating read, even if I’m not sure I agree/believe all of it. Basically it proposes that humans are not supposed to be monogamous based on the fact that biological we appear more similar to Bonbons rather than chimps. Ryan and Jetha work through a variety of explanations for why this is the case. Their explanations make sense, but they do fall into the mistake of telling the reader what they are trying to validate over and over again, rather than just use their support to argument with their evidence. Whilst it’s a very fascinating approach to the argument, and I can see how they have come to their conclusions, I don’t know enough about the topic to appreciate how much of the argument is in its presentation. Moreover, I’m not sure Ryan and Jetha give due consideration to the complexity the human brain brings to our sexuality, something perhaps not as significant for the humble bonbon. Personally I tend to think human sexuality is much more diverse than can be defined by either monogamous or polygamous, much like the spectrum of hetero and homosexuality. Still an interesting read for anyone interested in sexuality.


30 / 50 books. 60% done!


11079 / 15000 pages. 74% done!

Currently reading:
-        Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After by Bella DePaulo, PH.D. – 308 pages
-        When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, his cult of fear, and the women who fought back by Stephen Singular – 305 pages
-        Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs – 271 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tire
Current Music: The Hanging Tree - Jennifer Lawrence and James Newton Howard

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