Caroline's 12 in 12 Challenge

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Caroline's 12 in 12 Challenge

Denna diskussion är för närvarande "vilande"—det sista inlägget är mer än 90 dagar gammalt. Du kan återstarta det genom att svara på inlägget.

Redigerat: dec 23, 2011, 7:27pm

Every year I do this challenge I become a little wiser. This year I only have to read one book to finish a category. I also added a catch all for ER and Amazon Vine books called New Books.

All the books listed are books I have either in my bookcases or on my kindle. Yes, my tbr pile has grown quite large in the past year. I hope to read the books I didn't get to last year. As with all my challenges, the thread will grow and change as the new year progresses.

I have no theme in mind for this thread. I did find some neat images for each of my categories. I will officially start this challenge on January 1.

1. Historical Fiction
2. Horror
3. Science Fiction
4. Fantasy
5. 20th Century Fiction
6. Short Stories
7. Non-Fiction
8. Mythology
9. British History
10. Mystery
11. Humor
12. New books

Redigerat: dec 28, 2012, 6:23pm

Historical Fiction

1. Highlander: The Captive Soul by Josepha Sherman (08/27/2012)

Redigerat: nov 1, 2012, 9:25pm


1. Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey (Finished 01/29/2012)
2. The Frankenstein Papers by Fred Saberhagen (Finished 10/24/2012)
3. The Wicked by JamesNeman (Finished 10/31/2012)

Redigerat: dec 8, 2012, 9:42pm

Science Fiction

1. This Shared Dream by Kathleen Ann Goonan (Finished 02/16/2012)
2. Dayworld by Philip Jose Farmer (Finished 12/08/2012)

Redigerat: dec 28, 2012, 6:22pm


1. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card (Finished 08/20/2012)
2. Snuff by Terry Prachett (Finished 09/22/2012)
3. The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess by Leanna Renee Hieber (Finished 10/09/2012)
4. The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde (Finished 12/27/2012)

Redigerat: nov 17, 2012, 9:50pm

20th Century Fiction

1.Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (Finished 11/17/2012)

Redigerat: dec 8, 2012, 9:43pm

Short Stories

1. Edie Investigates by Nick Harkaway (Finished 05/07/2012)
2. Rose of Fire by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Finished 07/04/2012)
3. In The Shadow of Dracula by John Polidori (Finished 07/22/2012)

Redigerat: dec 8, 2012, 9:43pm


First I lost my Holmes and Watson picture. Now I have lost my Non-Fiction image. I'm thinking I won't be using pictures in this challenge next year!

1. Dropped Names by Frank Langella (Finished 05/01/2012)
2. Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural by Jim Steinmeyer (Finished 05/28/2012)
3. Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films, 1930-1960 by Lawrence Raw (Finished 10/19/2012)

Redigerat: aug 5, 2012, 6:13pm


1. From Girl to Goddess by Valerie Estelle Frankel (Finished 08-05-2012)

Redigerat: okt 26, 2012, 8:35pm

British History

1. Great Tales From English History Book 2 by Robert Lacey (Finished 09/23/2012)

Redigerat: dec 8, 2012, 9:44pm


My picture of Holmes & Watson disappeared!

1. The Holmes-Dracula File by Fred Saberhagen (Finished 12/13/2012)
2. Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Holmes by Loren D. Estlemen (Finished 03/22/2012)
3. Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham (Finished 03/31/2012)

Redigerat: okt 26, 2012, 8:36pm


1. Trouble on the Heath by Terry Jones (Finished 07/01/2012)

Redigerat: dec 28, 2012, 6:24pm

New Books

1. Enchantments: A Novel by Kathryn Harrison (Finished 01/15/2012)
2. Waiting For Sunrise by William Boyd (Finished 03/05/2012)
3. Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (Finished 04/23/2012)
4. The Yard by Alex Grecian (Finished 05/18/2012)
5. Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (Finished 06/09/2012)
6. After Life by Rhian Ellis (Finished 06/21/2012)
7. Lies and Prophecy by Marie Brennan (Finished 11/11/2912)

dec 21, 2011, 8:59am

Interesting categories!

If you are consciously trying to read those books off your shelves why not join us at the group designed just for that reason. We've started a new Group for 2012.

dec 21, 2011, 1:53pm

Hi Caroline, here we go again! Looking forward to following your 2012 reading.

dec 21, 2011, 8:55pm

Hi cyderry, I've watched the Off the Shelf Group before and thought about joining. Thanks for the suggestion.

Hi Judy, thanks. I already have you starred.

dec 22, 2011, 1:58pm

I'm new to this challenge and I look forward to your comments.

dec 23, 2011, 7:46pm

Love your pictures. The mermaid is beautiful and you chose my all-time favorite Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Wishing you the best for the holidays, Caroline, and since I will be out of town, Happy New Year, too. Looking forward to catching up with you when I return.

dec 23, 2011, 7:58pm

Thank you! They are my favorite too.

dec 23, 2011, 8:12pm

Love the pics you have added for your categories - I had to giggle when I saw your pic for your historical fiction category - that is the same one I chose for my history category! Go figure!

dec 24, 2011, 12:02am

Oops! I guess great minds think alike!

dec 24, 2011, 11:15am

Well, considering I haven't posted my categories with pics yet (I will do that after Christmas) definitely no oops on your part! ;-)

dec 26, 2011, 5:07am

Some interesting reads ahead I think, I tried to read one of Charles Fort's books some years ago and found it inpenetrable but understand he was hugely influential so will be interested to see what you think of the biography

dec 26, 2011, 4:11pm

Hello psutto, thanks for dropping by. I have had this book for awhile and really need to get to reading it. Charles Fort looks like a very interesting character. I think what interests me the most is how he brought paranormal ideas into the mainstream. I have never read any of his science fiction or paranormal books either.

dec 27, 2011, 6:25am

24 yep there is a Fortean society and a Fortean Times magazine and "Forteana" interests me so will be watching for your review

jan 15, 2012, 4:47pm

Title Enchantments: A Novel by Kathryn Harrison
Format ARC
Rating 3.5 Stars

Grigory Rasputin has been found dead in a frozen river. His daughters, Masha and Varya, are sent to the tsar's palace to live as wards in the Romanov family. The tsarina believes that Masha has her fathers healing abilities and asks her to stay at her sons bedside when he is ill. Aloysha, the family nickname for the young Hemophiliac, and Masha become close friends as she weaves tales about their families history to help take his mind of the pain of his affliction.

Masha is the narrator of the story. She jumps in time as she tells the history of the Russian Bolshevik revolution. We learn about Rasputin's life before he goes the St. Petersburg as well as how Nickolas and Alexandra met, fell in love, and started there family. We also learn about what happens to Masha after the death of the Romanovs.

I enjoyed this novel very much. The story of the death of the Russia royal family has fascinated me for years. I researched some of the history on line and the author has taken some literary license, but not much. My only problem with the novel is that the storyline about an infatuation between Aloysha and Masha wasn't really needed. Other than that, I found the novel engaging and I recommend it to anyone interested in Romanov tragedy

jan 16, 2012, 12:42pm

I, too, have long been interested in the death of the Russian Royal Family. Enchantments is going on my wishlist.

jan 16, 2012, 4:44pm

Hi Judy! I hope you enjoy it.

Redigerat: jan 29, 2012, 12:22pm

Title Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey
Format Hardback
Rating 4 Stars
Category Horror

A former member of the Golden Vigil asks Stark, Vidocq and Candy to look into a failed exorcism. A sin-eater had tried to remove a demon from a youngman and failed. When Stark and the others find the kid they discover he isn't being possesed by a demon, but by Mason, Starks nemesis. Mason tells him he has kidnapped Alice, Starks first love, from Heaven and is holding her in Hell. Stark decides it's time to go down to Hell and deal with him.

This is the third book in the Sandman Slim series. It was much easier to follow than the last novel. There was a lot more backround story and it links better with the first book. If you want to read only one book in the series read this one or the first.

I enjoy Kadrey's style of writing. There are no chapter breaks and the story goes full tilt to the end. I can't wait until the next book is published. This is a great series.

feb 18, 2012, 12:14am

Title This Shared Dream by Kathleen Ann Goonan
Format Hardback
Rating 4 1/2 Stars
Category Science Fiction

The Dance siblings find themselves in a strange predicament. They have two sets of memories. One set is from a timeline where JFK was asassinated in Dallas and one is from a timeline where he wasn't. When they were children their parents were working on a project to bring peace to the world, then they disappeared. Jill, Brian and Megan are adults now and have children of their own. Jill spends a month in a sanitorium, because of her confused memories. After her release she notices strange men watching her and her family. They are wearing homberg's, hats fashionable in the 1940's. She then receives a threatening phone call telling her to give them the "device." What is this device? Is it the infinite game board they played with as children? The game board that sent Jill back in time to thwart Kennedy's asassination?

This novel is a sequel to "In War Times." In that book Sam Dance, his wife Bette, and his friend Wink work with a scientist names Elaini Hadnitz to create a device that would end all wars. This is the story of Sam and Bette's children and the world that they created through the device and time travel.

This book is full to over flowing with ideas. The author believes that social equality and education will stop people from starting wars. Montesouri schools are mentioned promenently in this book. Children have classbooks that are like IPads that are used to link all the children of the world from every socio-economic background. The Internet isn't mentioned, they have something called Q that is the equivalent. Besides the classbooks, Q and the infinite game board, there are the Spacies, astronaut figurines that were given away in cereal boxes. These action figures used nano technology to change the conciousness of children so they wanted to learn and live peacefully with others. A memory drug is used along with technology to change peoples minds by showing them the memories of the victims of war. Time travel is used to change key nexus points.

I could go on and on, but I don't want to spoil this intelligent novel for others. This is a beautiful story of family, memories, and the dream of a world without war.

mar 6, 2012, 3:45pm

Title Waiting For Sunrise by William Boyd
Format ARC
Rating 4 1/2 Stars
Category New Books

Lysander Reif is a young British actor visiting Vienna on the eve of World War I hoping that psychoanalysis will help cure a sexual problem. While in the analysists waiting room he meets two figures that will change his life; Munro, an employee at the British consulate and Hettie Bull, a beautiful British artist. He soon starts a passionate affair with the unpredictable Hettie which leads to a quick exit from Vienna with the help of Munro. Back in Britain at the beginning of the war, Lysander enlists and again comes to the attention of Munro and his confederates. The British war office discovers a leek of military secrets so they order Lysander to use his acting skills to discover the mole.

William Boyd is a prolific author, although I had never read anything he had written before. He is a very skilled writer who uses many points of view to tell the story. He starts the novel with the reader as the observer and then switches to the normal third person omniscient point of view. Then he changes to Lysander's point of view with a journal that the psychoanalyst asks Lysander the keep, which he names "Autobiographical Investigations." Lysander fills it with poetry, observations, and conversations written in the form of play scripts.

The storyline is very intricate with many threads woven together by the end. It's a spy thriller where you don't know who to trust. All the characters are well developed. You wonder how the people Lysander has meet work into the plot. In the end he finally figures out who he can trust and gets his life back on track, but he has become a completely different person from the conventionally handsome man who visited Vienna in 1913.

Redigerat: mar 14, 2012, 12:39am

Title The Holmes-Dracula File by Fred Saberhagen
Format Paperback
Rating 4 Stars
Category Mystery

An old man who has been knocked unconscious comes to in a room where he is bound with metal restraints to a hospital gurney. He doesn't know who he is or where he is. What his captors don't know is that this is no ordinary elderly man; in fact this isn't a man at all. Later, down by the docks, a woman is found dead, drained of blood. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson just happen to be in the neighborhood working on a case when they are approached by Lieutenant Lestrade. Sherlock examines the crime scene and discovers more peculiarities than just the sanguinated body. One clue is a dressing gown used in hospital wards with bullet holes. The Great Detective tells Lestrade to have divers search the water around the pier where the body was found. They find an oil cloth bag with closed metal restraints. Can the captive old man be related the bloodless corpse?

This is the second novel in "The Dracula Sequence" written by Fred Saberhagen. If you are a fan of Sherlockiana, as I am, and you have read or know Bram Stockers "Dracula", then you can read this book as a stand alone story.

Saberhagen characterizes Dracula as a man of honor who only kills when he or someone he is sworn to protect is threatened. He normally does not feed on people, but on vermin. When he bites a woman it is a sexual encounter to him and he does not kill the woman. The characterization of Holmes and Watson is pitch perfect. Holmes is frantic and intelligent. Watson is loyal and courageous. The best thing is that Watson is not described as a bumbling fool.

This book caught me by surprise. The description of the opening scene sets the pass for the entire novel. The chapters jump from Dracula's point of view to Watson's and back. This was a fun well written story that will not disappoint Dracula or Sherlock Holmes fans.

mar 14, 2012, 1:34am

Waiting for Sunrise sounds really good. I haven't read anything by Boyd yet but will add this to my tbr list.

mar 14, 2012, 2:08am

I don't know how I could have missed him, except that he is a British author that might not have been published much in America until now. He writes very well. I did some research on him and he has won some awards in Britain. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I did.

Redigerat: mar 23, 2012, 10:51pm

Title Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes by Loren D. Estleman
Format Paperback
Rating 3 1/2 Stars
Category Mystery

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are brought into a case where a prominent physician, Dr. Jekyll, is being black mailed by an homely evil little man named Edward Hyde. Holmes looks into Mr. Hyde's life, but after Hyde commits murder he disappears. The great detective turns to investigating Dr. Jekyll's past and his studies. Jekyll has spent his life looking for a way to split the evil part of human nature from the good.

The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is universally known, so there is no real mystery in this novel. Estleman fills the space with action scenes. One scene in particular, a fast paced hansom cab race through the streets of London, was very exciting.

The characterization of Holmes and Watson was more in the vein of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce movies. I don't like when authors make Watson stupid and bumbling. This author made Watson dim, but an extremely loyal friend and Holmes was very kind to his less intelligent counterpart.

Redigerat: apr 1, 2012, 1:57pm

Title Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham
Format Kindle Book
Rating 4 Stars
Category Mystery

Campion helps a family prove that they are the true heirs to a small kingdom that has recently become important because an earthquake has created a natural harbor there. He travels with his friends Guffy, Farquharson, and Eager-Wright to a small rural British community where the family is living in a mill house. Using cryptic clues from a rhyme carved in an oak tree, he searches for the papers and the crown that will prove the families heredity rights to the little country.

This is the first Campion novel I have read. I enjoyed the characters. Campion pretends to be a dim witted, bored, upper crust English man, but he is really very intelligent and brave. The family is bright and eccentric, especially the youngest girl Amanda who Campion becomes very fond of and relies on for help in his search. There is also a subplot involving the local doctor who is quite mad.

Their really is no mystery in this novel. No one is murdered and we know who is trying to foil Campion's plans. It's really an adventure novel where the characters are evolved in a treasure hunt. There are fights and shootouts and other exciting scenes. The wonderful characters and the action sequences make this novel a fun read.

apr 1, 2012, 4:06pm

I have only read a couple of Allingham's Campion books - this is another series I ended up watching rather than reading. As usual, BBC does a great job in capturing the era and I think they cast well with Peter Davison as Albert Campion and Brian Glover as Luggs.

Allingham is my idea of perfect summer reading!

apr 1, 2012, 4:58pm

I have to admit that I saw Peter Davidson as I was reading this book. I can't imagine anyone else playing the roll of Albert Campion.

Redigerat: apr 1, 2012, 5:11pm


Books Planned to Read for Challenge: 1 or More per Category

Completed in 1st Quarter: 7


1. Historical Fiction 0/2
2. Horror 1/2
3. Science Fiction 1/7
4. Fantasy 0/11
5. 20th Century Literature 0/4
6. Short Stories 0/7
7. Non-Fiction 0/5
8. Mythology 0/2
9. British History 0/2
10. Mystery 3/7
11. Humor 0/2
12. New Books 2/4

I've been fortunate to read 7 great books this quarter. It's hard to pick a favorite. Here are the books I've rated 4 or better:

Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey - 4 Stars (Horror)
This Shared Dream by Kathleen Anne Goonan - 4 1/2 Stars (Science Fiction)
Waiting For Sunrise by William Boyd - 4 1/2 Stars (New Books)
The Holmes-Dracula File by Fred Saberhagen - 4 Stars (Mystery)
Sweet Danger by Margey Allingham - 4 Stars (Mystery)

apr 1, 2012, 7:37pm

Hi Caroline, you've jogged my memory. I read Sweet Danger last year and really loved the Albert Campion character, you've reminded me that I would like to read more from this series.

apr 1, 2012, 8:40pm

Hi Judy! That's funny because I read the book because of your review.

apr 23, 2012, 11:23pm

Title Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
Format ARC
Rating 4 1/2 Stars
Category New Books

Joe Spork fixes clockwork mechanisms like his grandfather before him. He is trying to live down his father's reputation as a gangster and stay out of a life of crime. An elder lady named Edie Banister draws him into a world of intrigue. Edie isn't the doty old woman she seems. She is an ex-spy who is using Joe to unleash a doomsday machine.

This was an extremely well written novel. The plot is very simple, but the author weaves a strong backround story full of meditations on the meaning of family, lost love, and the search for truth. The characters lives are all intertwined and the author reveals this slowly through memories and flashbacks. We get to know each character intimately especially Joe and Edie. I liked Edie's character and that of her dog Bastion the best. Bastion is a pug with pink marble eyes and one tooth, yet he is a warior and his thoughts are very Shakespearian.

The world building is outstanding. This novel turns steampunk on it's ear. Instead of advanced technology in the Victorian era, we have antiquated technology in our time that is actually more advanced and dangerous than computers or atomic bombs. The elegant machinery is described eloquently. I could see exactly what the author was expalining in detail. The users and promoters of this clockwork technology are the Ruskinites, a religious cult built up around the British art critic John Ruskin. Ruskin viewed a conection between nature, art and society. He influenced the Pre-Ralphaelite school of painting which believed in painting nature as truthfully as possible.

Even with all this going for it, the plot loses it's way near the end when one of the more promenent characters dies and the true villain is revealed. I still whole heartedly recommend this book. I looked forward to reading it each day because I cared about what was happening to the characters. This kept me reading even though it is quite a weighty tome.

apr 24, 2012, 4:02am

Angelmaker is definitely one I will be picking up when the paperback is released as I really liked The Gone-Away World. Glad you enjoyed it.

apr 26, 2012, 5:51am

Great review, I loved both of Harkaways books and am excited that his new one (albeit non-fiction) is coming out in May

apr 28, 2012, 8:26pm

Really, I'll have to look that one up.

apr 29, 2012, 6:12am

Hooray more Nick Harkaway love :)

maj 1, 2012, 5:47pm

Title Dropped Names by Frank Langella
Format Kindle Book
Rating 4 Stars
Category Non Fiction

This book is an alluring look into the world of the theater and the privileged. Frank Langella has worked as an actor for five decades. He relates stories about the charismatic writers, directors and actors he has meet during his career. Mr. Langella has also been friends with some of the wealthiest people in America.

Each chapter is about a relationship with a different person. The author only writes about people who have passed away or people who have allowed him to write about there association. I don't know very much about theater actors and I had to google some of the names. It would have been nice to have pictures in the book to associate with the names. Other subjects were more well known. I wasn't surprised by Mr. Langella's description of the people I had already heard of. He wrote about divas, closeted homosexuals, narcissistic personalities, and lonely alcoholics as well as generous nobel people who profoundly altered his life. Some chapters were very poignant, particularly the one devoted to President Kennedy. This was an engaging quick read and I recommend it to fans of the New York theater and those interested in the lifestyles of the rich.

maj 1, 2012, 10:05pm

Interesting.... not sure Dropped Names is something I will gravitate to but I tend to be more open minded to try out new books outside of my usual genres when it is billed as a quick read!

maj 2, 2012, 10:49am

Hi Lori, the book is more of a beach read. You don't have to read it cover to cover because the chapters are not in chronological order. Each chapter can be read alone so if you are interested in Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie O you can read just that chapter. If you aren't interested in famous personalities then this book may not be your cup of tea.

maj 5, 2012, 6:51am

Just catching up on your thread. I enjoyed your review of Sweet Danger. I've been watching the Campion TV series (on DVD borrowed from the library) and have been wondering if the books are any good. I will have to try one out.

maj 6, 2012, 8:49pm

Peter Davidson was perfect as Campion. When you read the book you will see him in the part.

Redigerat: maj 7, 2012, 9:00pm

Title Edie Investigates by Nick Harkaway
Format Kindle
Rating 4 Stars
Category Short Stories

Good old Donny Caspian is dead. Tom Rice, a British civil servant, is sent to investigate the scene of the crime and report back. Super spy Edie Banister is interested in the case as well because Donny was an old friend who helped her once. Edie watches the youngman over tea and cake while trying to appear to be an old spinster lady. When it becomes obvious he is in over his head Edie springs into action.

This is an e-short written to promote Nick Harkaway's fabulous new book Angelmaker. Edie was my favorite character in Angelmaker and the reason I bought this short story. The writing style is pure Harkaway, which makes is a joy to read, but it doesn't have a satisfying ending. The story is complete in itself, you don't have to read "Angelmaker" for the conclusion. Still, I felt like the murder was never fully resolved.

maj 8, 2012, 5:51am

Good to see more love for Nick Harkaway. Not sure if I'll ever get around to that one as I don't usually do e-books. Maybe it'll appear in a collection sometime. I can hope.

maj 8, 2012, 7:25am

I liked it but it felt more of a taster than a complete short story, still I did read it before AngelMaker and so the unanswered questions felt fine.

maj 8, 2012, 11:37pm

Hi Wolfy, you won't miss much by not reading this short story as long as you read Angelmaker, which I whole heartedly recommend. It just takes one of the characters from the novel and gives you a taste of Harkaways writing style.

Hi clfisha, the story was designed to promote the book with an excerpt of the novel at the end. I still enjoy it though and I have put Gone-Away World on my wish list.

maj 10, 2012, 5:14am

I think I preferred Gone-Away World but it is much more chaotic and you need some patience to get the pay off a bit of a way in!

maj 19, 2012, 9:49pm

Title The Yard by Alex Grecian
Format ARC
Rating 4 Stars
Category New Books

It's 1889 and Scotland Yard is still reeling from the unsolved Ripper murders when one of their own, Inspector Christian Little, is found dead in a trunk at Euston Square Station. Detective Inspecter Walter Day is first on the scene. He has just been promoted to "The Murder Squad" and he will have to prove himself with this high profile case. Also at the crime scene is Constable Hammersmith; a hardworking caring youngman and Dr.Bernard Kingsley, who is using the newest scientific techniques to investigate crimes. Together with Inspecter Blacker and a vagrant called the "Dancing Man" they will track down more than one murderer and solve more than one case before the end of the week.

This was a fast paced read with many story lines threaded thoughout the narrative. All the crimes are related to the depravity of Victorian London where children are exploited, woman struggle on the streets as prostitutes, and the rich care more about there reputations than doing the right thing. I recommend this novel to anyone interested in the Victorian Era who likes a good psychological thriller or detective novel.

maj 26, 2012, 8:30pm

Happy to see another positive review for The Yard. I have a hold placed with my library for that one when it comes in.

maj 27, 2012, 12:35am

Hi Lori, I hope you enjoy it. I think it's the beginning of a new series. I liked the characters enough to want to read more about them.

maj 28, 2012, 4:31pm

Title Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural by Jim Steinmeyer
Format Hardback
Rating 4 Stars
Category Non-Fiction

The title of this book sugests Charles Fort invented the Supernatural; as if he came up with the strange stories in the manuscript. He didn't actually invent the Supernatural, he just brought it to the American consciousness. Through in depth research of all the sciences, done at the New York Public Library, The British Museum, and from newspaper articles, he collected strange accounts and compiled them into four different books starting with The Book of The Damned in 1920. He presented the material in a humorous way that said "make of it what you will." Fort despised Scientists and Theologians and came up with his own wacky cosmology. He coined the term teleportation and brought to light such phenomena as frogs falling from the sky, unexplained flying objects, spontainious human combustion, and the mysteries of Kaspar Hauser, and The Mary Celeste. Without him we wouldn't have television shows like "In Search of", "Unexplained Mysteries", and "The X-Files."

In modern times we would say Charles Fort was a victim of an abusive father, but in Victorian days his upbringing was just considered strict. When Charles or his two younger brothers were punished they were usually beaten. When beatings no longer worked, they were locked in the cellar without food or light. Understanding this type of upbringing is essential in understanding the man. He was extremely shy and often despondent. As a boy he developed an obsession to collect and catalog specimens from nature. This developed into a mania for gathering strange scientific observations as an adult. Fort was trying to make since of his world.

A few prominent authors were fans and friends of Fort's including Theodore Dreiser who was interested in Fort's idea of Monism or a universal oneness. Other authors, along with Dreiser, started the first Fortian Society which included; Ben Hecht, John Cowper Powys, Booth Tarkington, and Alexander Woollcott. H. L. Mencken and H. G. Wells were a few of the popular writers of the time that despised him.

This was a well researched and lovingly written book. The author obviously likes Fort and his unusual books. The volume is easy to read and very informative with many notes and quotations from Fort's personal letters and his unpublished autobiography. I have come away from this book liking Charles Fort and I look forward to reading his quirky books in the future.

maj 28, 2012, 5:20pm

Category Short Stories

I am taking a cue from another Librarythinger and I am writing informal reviews of short stories from the book In The Shadow of Dracula edited by Leslie S. Klinger. I will be write these reviews as I read the stories over the Summer with a formal review after completing the book.

The Vampyre (1819) by John Polidori 3 Stars - This is the very first vampire story ever written and it is said to have inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula. It was conceived by Polidori during the famous evening of ghost story telling that influenced Mary Shelly to write Frankenstein. The description of the vampire, Lord Ruthven, sound much like Lord Byron. Lord Ruthven preys on young beautiful society women. The tale starts out with a lot of promise, but falls flat by the end.

Wake Not the Dead (1823) by Johann Ludwig Tieck 4 1/2 Stars - This was an exciting tale of obsession that would make a great Hammer Film. A man spends way to much time at his ex-wife's grave forgetting about his current wife and children. A necromancer warns "Wake Note The Dead" which the main character does not take to heart.

The Family of the Vourdalak (1839) by Aleksei Tolstoy 4 Stars - This story was used in a Boris Karloff trilogy film titled "Black Sabbath" produced in 1963. I found it interesting because the vampires only prey on family members. The Grandfather of a poor village family in Serbia goes into the mounatins to kill an evil man. He tells his family to only allow him back into the house if he returns before 10 days. When he returns it is the last minute of the 10th day and they decide to let him into their home with dire consequences.

The Deathly Lover (1843) by Theodore Gautier 4 1/2 Stars - This is another excellent story of obsession. It is also an artfully done reality bending tale. A young priest sees a beautiful woman on the day he takes his vows and he never can forget her. A few years later he is asked to give her last rites and when she dies brings her back to life with a kiss. He then spends his waking hours as a priest and his nightime hours as a rich gentleman, or is it the other way around. The strange thing about this story is that the priest who tries to save his friend seems more like the enemy than the vampire. The vampire offers him love and riches and the priest offers him the loniness of a monastic life.

jun 10, 2012, 1:52am

Title Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
Format ARC
Rating 5 Stars
Category New Book

On Christmas Day a young woman reappears after missing for twenty years. Tara Martin disappeared in The Outwoods at the age of fifteen. Her family and the authorities blamed her boyfriend Richie. When she returns she is only a few months older than she was when she left and the story she tells is not one that can be easily believed.

This story is a deftly written combination of fantasy and reality. Tara's story is a familiar one in fairy folklore, a lovely young woman is seduced by a handsome man and brought to a beautiful and strange world. She only stays there for six months but to her family it is twenty years. She partakes of the fairy food and drink and it changes her so that she can never fit in our world again. In the meantime her boyfriend, who was blamed for her disappearance, has become a burnt out rock guitar player living on booze and dope. Her brother Peter has married and has children. He is the solid rock of the family, he works as a ferrier and is the most practical character in the book.

Peter takes Tara to a psychiatrist who dissects her story or "confabulation" as the doctor calls it. These chapters are very interesting and divert the reader from the fantasy aspects of the novel and into the real world. You are never quite sure what really happened to Tara until the very end. Her story is strange and ripe for Freudian analysis. She even doubts her own memories.

Each chapter starts with a few lines from a poem, or song lyric or story related to fairy folklore. The excerpts that fascinated me the most where from the trial of Michael Cleary, a man who in 1895 burned his wife to death because he thought she was a fairy changeling. It amazes me that people really believed in fairies at one time. For some people it is an easy explanation for marital promblem or the death of a small child or other tragic events in there lives.

When I first started to read this novel I thought it would be a cut and dried fantasy tale and took it for granted that Tara had been to a fairy world. I was pleasantly surprised when doubt started creeping in. The story is a compulsive read. The point of view changes in each chapter from Tara relating her story, to the psychiatrist saying what he thinks the story is really about, to Richie's retched life, to Peter's happy family life. The novel ends the only way it could end; slightly sad but satisfying.

Redigerat: jun 10, 2012, 7:42am

Good review! I need to read more by Graham Joyce.

jun 10, 2012, 2:03pm

Hi Wolfy, This is the first novel I have read by Joyce and I am quite impressed. I will be looking out for more of his books.

jun 10, 2012, 6:54pm

Hi Carline, I am definitely adding Some Kind of Fairy Tale to my wishlist!

jun 22, 2012, 2:15pm

Title After Life by Rhian Ellis
Format ARC
Rating 4 Stars
Category New Book

Even though the crux of this novel revolves around a murder, it is not a mystery story. The protagonist tells us with the first sentence that she has killed someone. Instead, she relates to us the aftermath of that violent act.

It is ten years after Peter died, when his body is discoverd and all the grief and guilt comes flooding back to Naomi; a lonely woman who has difficulty forming relationships with others. She is over weight and has low self esteem, which is compounded by her rocky relationship with her mother.

Naomi is a medium who lives in a town full of mediums. The town of Train Line is based on the real town of Lily Dale. Everyone living there is part of the Spiritualist movement. Her mother is a popular medium who is a total fake. She is only involved in Spiritualism to gain attention. Naomi is actually a true medium, maybe the only one in the whole town. She sees visions and hears voices of the long departed. This becomes a conflict when she sees all the phonies around her and feels she has to explain to non-believers that faking it is part of the process.

Naomi loves her mother, but her mother is completely self involved and has never paid enough attention to her. She transfers her feelings of abandonment to Vivian, the little girl she babysits. When Naomi's relationship to the deceased is discovered, Vivian is taken away from her and this precipitates her downward spiral.

I couldn't put this book down because I really liked the characher of Naomi. I knew she was a murderer, but I wanted a decent if not happy outcome for her. I also enjoyed the few historical references to Spiritualism that are scattered throughout the book. The author mentions the Fox sisters who started the Spiritual movement and the town of Lily Dale. She also writes about spirit photography and the Victorian obsession with premature burial. I recommend this book to those who have an interest in Spiritualism and likes to read first person narratives.

jul 1, 2012, 6:42pm


Books Planned to Read for Challenge: 1 or More per Category

Completed in 1st Quarter: 7
Completed in 2nd Quarter: 7

1. Historical Fiction 0/2
2. Horror 1/2
3. Science Fiction 1/7
4. Fantasy 0/11
5. 20th Century Literature 0/4
6. Short Stories 1/7
7. Non-Fiction 2/5
8. Mythology 0/2
9. British History 0/2
10. Mystery 3/7
11. Humor 0/2
12. New Books 6/6

Sill need to read at least one book in Historical Fiction, Fantasy, 20th Century Literature, Mythology, and British History.

Just finished a book for the Humor Category and will post a review soon.

jul 1, 2012, 6:46pm

I've been reading short stories from In The Shadow of Dracula and posting them on my 75 Book Challenge. I have decided to post them here as well. I will be reading this book throughout the Summer.

The Vampyre (1819) by John Polidori 3 Stars - This is the very first vampire story ever written and it is said to have inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula. It was conceived by Polidori during the famous evening of ghost story telling that influenced Mary Shelly to write Frankenstein. The description of the vampire, Lord Ruthven, sound much like Lord Byron. Lord Ruthven preys on young beautiful society women. The tale starts out with a lot of promise, but falls flat by the end.

Wake Not the Dead (1823) by Johann Ludwig Tieck 4 1/2 Stars - This was an exciting tale of obsession that would make a great Hammer Film. A man spends way to much time at his ex-wife's grave forgetting about his current wife and children. A necromancer warns "Wake Note The Dead" which the main character does not take to heart.

The Family of the Vourdalak (1839) by Aleksei Tolstoy 4 Stars - This story was used in a Boris Karloff trilogy film titled "Black Sabbath" produced in 1963. I found it interesting because the vampires only prey on family members. The Grandfather of a poor village family in Serbia goes into the mounatins to kill an evil man. He tells his family to only allow him back into the house if he returns before 10 days. When he returns it is the last minute of the 10th day and they decide to let him into their home with dire consequences.

The Deathly Lover (1843) by Theodore Gautier 4 1/2 Stars - This is another excellent story of obsession. It is also an artfully done reality bending tale. A young priest sees a beautiful woman on the day he takes his vows and he never can forget her. A few years later he is asked to give her last rites and when she dies brings her back to life with a kiss. He then spends his waking hours as a priest and his nightime hours as a rich gentleman, or is it the other way around. The strange thing about this story is that the priest who tries to save his friend seems more like the enemy than the vampire. The vampire offers him love and riches and the priest offers him the loniness of a monastic life.

jul 1, 2012, 6:48pm

Here are a few more reviews from The Shadow of Dracula: Classic Vampire Fiction.

Varney the Vampire; or the Feast of Blood by James Malcolm Rymer. 3 1/2 Stars - This is a penny dreadful written in the voice of the vampire. The setting is England during the 1600s. The main character becomes a vampire after committing the worst sin imaginable; he kills his only son. The vampire's story is exciting, but not very memorable. I am scanning throught it as I write it to try to remind myself of the storyline.

The Mysterious Stranger by Anonymous 4stars - A knight and his family are moving to new property inherited from his brother in the Carpathian Mountains. Along the way the caravan is attacked by wolves. A mysterious stranger saves the group and is invited to the knights newly acquired castle. There are a lot of simularities between this story and Bram Stoker's Dracula including the setting and the statement from Tod Browning's Dracula movie: "I don't drink - wine." This is a standard vampire story and obviously influenced other writers.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu 5 Stars - This is a classic. The story has been turned into two movies that I know of and was the start of lesbian vampire stories. Carmilla's mother leaves her with a country gentleman and his daughter. She forms an unusually strong attachment with the the daughter who is relating the tale. Soon the daughter becomes sick with an illness that has been kiilling young women in the near by village.

A Mystery of the Campagna by Anne Crawford 3 Star - This story was hard for me to get into. An opera composer is haunted by a female vampire. His best friend in turn becomes ill.

jul 1, 2012, 6:51pm

Here are some more mini reviews of In the Shadow of Dracula.

Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley 3 1/2 Stars - This wasn't a vampire story. The story was about a young man who is studying a fresco in a crypt. He accidently lets a disembodied hand loose that attacks people's necks and draws blood. This was not an easy read, but I liked the change from the regular vampire story.

Good Lady Ducayne by Mary Elizabeth Braddon 4 Stars - A story based on Countess Elizabeth Bathory the legendary nobel woman who preyed on young women to prolong her life. A young woman takes a job as a companion to an elderly woman and soon falls ill. Although predictable, I enjoyed reading this story.

The Stone Chamber by H. B. Marriott Watson 4 Stars - This story is told by the friend of a man who moves into the Marvyn Abbey. (Vampires seem to like living in abbeys.) The man decides to sleep in a curious stone chamber while the bedrooms are being readied. Soon his demeanor changes. He starts to gamble, argue and accost ladies. He flees the abbey so his friend decides to sleep in the chamber to see what's going on. He is attacked in the night by a bat. (Vampires seem to like turning into bats). I like this story because it's not just about a vampire, but about a love triangle that his being recreated by the ghosts of the dead lovers.

The Woman with the "Oily Eyes" by Dick Donovan 4 1/2 Stars - This was a great story. The female vampire isn't just a spector in the night, but attaches herself to her victim like a lover and mesmerizes him to keep him with her. She is ugly with "oily eyes" and is truly evil.

All of these stories added something to vampire lore; haunted abbeys, bats, mesmerism. I have also noticed that female vampires attack men and male vampires attack women. There has always been an eroticism attached to vampires, they are deadly lovers.

jul 1, 2012, 7:24pm

Title Trouble on the Heath by Terry Jones
Format Kindle Book
Rating 3 1/2 Stars
Category Humor

While out walking his dog, Malcom discovers a notice posted to his dog Nigels favorite tree. It states that the heath and two house in the neighborhood will be demolished by the Council to build a four storey home with two basements. As head of the Highgrove Park Resident's Association, Malcolm proposes they submit a complaint to the Planning Department of Camden Counsil. This one complaint leads a suicidal planning department employee to drastic measures to keep his sanity and a crazy Russian gangster to threaten Malcolm's family.

This was literally a "Quick Read", a series of books published to get people in the UK to read more. I found it on the Kindle site at Amazon. I enjoy Terry Jones work and decided to buy it. If you are looking for a fun book that takes about two hours or less to read I suggest you give it a try.

Redigerat: aug 5, 2012, 6:24pm

Title Rose of Fire by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Format ibook
Rating 4 Stars
Category Short Stories

This was a free download on ibooks to promote Zafon's new book The Prisoner of Heaven. Rose of Fire is a short story prequel to his other novels The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game. It is set in the time of the Spanish Inquisition and tells the origin of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The story is told by a prison inmate on April 23 which is St. George's day and is celebrated in Catalonia with gifts of roses and books. Edmond de Luna, a maker of labyrinths, is the sole survivor of a sea voyage from Catalonia to Constantinople and back. The Emperor Constantine had asked him the construct a labyrinth to keep the cities books safe from Ottoman invaders. He completed the plans, but the city was laid seige before the structure could be built and he had to flee for home. The Grand Inquisitor takes an interest in de Luna and his story with dire consequences.

This ibook includes an excerpt from The Prisoner of Heaven. I enjoyed the excerpt and the short story and look forward to reading the new novel.

jul 14, 2012, 9:49pm

Here are some more short reviews of stories from In the Shadow of Dracula.

Luella Miller by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 4 1/2 Stars This is a great story about a woman that is so helpless that everyone that tries to take care of her gets sick and dies. There are people in this world that can be vampires and drain people of their life without draining their blood.

Count Magnus by M. R. James 3 Stars I'm not a big fan of M. R. James. This is an okay story about a man who says the wrong thing at the wrong time.

For the Blood is the Life by F. Marion Crawford 4 Stars A ghostly apparition keeps appearing on a grave mound seen from the home of the narrator. The narrator then relates to friend the story of why the mound if there and who is haunting. This imagery of the haunted grave is frightening.

The Singular Death of Morton by Algernon Blackwood 4 Stars The story of two travelers stalked by a female vampire. This had a different feel from the other stories in this book. The characters of the two men in this story were well developed for a short story.

Only four more stories to go.

jul 22, 2012, 8:02pm

I've finished In the Shadow of Dracula. Here are my reviews of the last stories.

The Room in the Tower by E. F. Benson 4 Stars A recurring nightmare foreshadows an eerie overnight stay at a friends new Summer home. Another story I enjoyed because it wasn't standard vampire fare.

Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoker 4 1/2 Stars One of most well written of the stories. A young man ventures to late in the evening to return home before nightfall and witnesses lightning striking a tomb and is attacked by a wolf. When he is found and brought back to the inn he is staying at a mysterious note has been left calling him Dracula's guest.

Aylmer Vance and the Vampire by Alice and Claude Askew 4 Stars Aylmer Vance is a Sherlock Holmes type character who solves supernatural mysteries. In this story a young newlywed has fallen ill due to a curse put on his new wife. Enjoyed this story very much.

Fragment of a Novel by Lord Byron 3 Stars Lord Byron never published a novel. This is the story he began as his contribution to the ghost story challenge that spawned Polidori's The Vampyre. A bit to flowery and wordy for me. Of course, since it is a fragment, there isn't much to it.

I have been read From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine's Journey along with this book and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Redigerat: aug 5, 2012, 7:35pm

Title From Girl To Goddess: The Heroine's Journey Through Myth and Legend by Valerie Estelle Frankel
Format kindle book
Rating 5 Stars
Category Mythology

This was a fascinating book. The author uses Joseph Cambell, Jungian psychology, and other sources to dissect folklore, fairytales, and myths about heroines. She reveals to the reader the hidden truths about life in each story. The beginning of each chapter is a story that relates to the theme she is discussing. Frankel gives the title of the story and the country it originated in. As she discusses the theme, she brings in similar stories from other cultures. It is amazing how the same tale is told by different peoples thoughout the world. This is where Jung's idea of archetypes comes to play. We are all human beings with universal thoughts and emotions that appear in the stories we tell.

The book is divided into the three phases of a womans life; maiden, mother and crone. The maiden stories are about the journey from adolescence to adulthood. Some of these are the standard tales we hear as a child; Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. In these tales the girl is fearful of what she will soon become, a wife and mother. She is tormented by an evil stepmother or witch and either sleeps through adolescence and wakens to a husband or goes through a trial to prove she is worthy of marriage. Maiden stories also include tales about women coming to terms with the shadow self or the darker more sexual side of there personality. These stories usually involve trips to the underworld where sacrifices are made and something is gained. Other maiden fables envolve finding the animus or male side of the personality that will complete them. The next stories are about motherhood. The author shows that mother's can be very different. Some are loving and sad when there child leaves as in the story of Demeter and Persephone. Other mothers can be jealous of the new woman in there son's life as shown in the tale of Cupid and Psyche. Some mothers can be vengeful as in the myth of Jason and Medea. The last stories are about the end years in the woman's life. In the crone stage the woman becomes the wise-woman and eventually initiates the cycle of death and rebirth.

In this review I have just scratched the surface of the knowledge that is conveyed by the author. Once you have read this book you will look at novels and movies in a whole different way. Eventhough this a book about the heroine's journey, some of the themes relate to the hero's journey as well. The most interesting themes are that of facing your shadow self and finding your animus or anima I read this book because of my interest in myths and fables. I recommend it to feminists and those interested in psychology, as well as readers who enjoy a good story.

Redigerat: aug 22, 2012, 12:40am

Title Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
Format kindle book
Rating 4 1/2 Stars
Category Fantasy

This novel is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. Katerina is a 10th Century Ukrainian princess that has been put under a sleeping spell by the evil witch Baba Yaga. Ivan is a 20th Century doctoral student doing research in Russia for his thesis on Russian folklore. On his way back to American he stops to visit his cousin Marek in the Ukraine. He first saw Katerina when he was ten years old. She was lying asleep upon a pedestal surrounded by a chasm in the middle of a clearing in the forest. He visits the clearing again as an adult and she is still there.

The first half of the story takes place in the village of Tainia in the year 900 C.E. Ivan must learn the customs of the time so the people will accept him as the princess’s husband. Even though he is considered an athlete in our time, the king’s men regard him as a puny weakling because he isn’t strong enough to fight with a sword and shield. Latter on Katerina finds herself out of place in our world, but she adapts better than Baba Yaga who is mesmerized by our modern technology.

This was a very well written novel. I haven’t read Card in a while and had forgotten how good a writer he is. His writing style is a joy to read. The characters are well crafted. And even though this is a take-off on a fairytale, it is an adult novel. There are mature themes and realistic plot points about life, death, religion, and family relationships. I recommend this book to fans of the author as well as those who enjoy fantasy novels.

aug 22, 2012, 3:55pm

You might also enjoy his alternate history/fantasy series about Alvin Maker which starts with Seventh Son.

aug 22, 2012, 4:40pm

Hi Caroline, I love reworked fairy stories so I will definitely put Enchantment on my wishlist.

aug 22, 2012, 10:45pm

Hi mamzel, believe it or not I have read the whole Alvin Maker series! That's why I'm so ashamed I hadn't read any other Card books in a while. I've also read three of the Ender Series.

Hi Judy, I think you will enjoy reading Enchantment.

aug 23, 2012, 10:27pm

Enchantment goes on the To Read later list.

aug 27, 2012, 6:26pm

Title Highlander: The Captive Soul by Josepha Sherman
Format kindle book
Rating 3 1/2 Stars
Category Historical Fiction

Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander, is visiting New York City to attend an important estate sale. While in town he decides to see an exhibition on Hyksos antiquities. As he is looking around he feels the presence of another immortal, Methos. They start talking and realize that someone is performing ritual sacrifices similar to the ones done by the Hyksos back in 1500 BC. It looks like another immortal is in the city for the exhibition and it is one that Methos has encountered before.

My favorite character from the “Highlander” television series is Methos, the 5000 year old man. This is his story. After Duncan and Methos meet up at the exhibition the scene switches to Methos disembarking at a port in Egypt and realizing the country has been conquered by the Hyksos, a race that likes to execute traitors by decapitation. Not the place an immortal would want to be since that is the only way they can die. Methos is at the center of the story so you get to hear his inner voice. This is great because the character becomes much more developed than what you normally see in a television show. The author is very good at understanding his psychology and motivations which are derived from his overwhelming sense of survival.

This is not a literary masterpiece by any means, but an elongated episode of the television show complete with the quickening at the end. If you enjoyed watching “Highlander” and the Methos character is your favorite, then you will really like reading this novel.

Redigerat: okt 1, 2012, 3:33pm

Posted the same review twice. Have no idea what happened!

Redigerat: okt 1, 2012, 3:45pm

Title Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Format Hardback
Rating 4 Stars
Category Fantasy

Sam Vimes, commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, has never been on Holiday. His wife, Lady Sybil, convinces him to take the family to her ancestral home in the country. Sam has never been away from the city and is like a fish out of water. He doesn’t understand the servants, all the towns’ folk see him as the enemy and the upper class want him out of their jurisdiction. If there is one thing Sam is it’s a good copper and he can tell a crime has been committed in the shire, he just has sniff it out. What is does find are goblins, a species considered to be vermin, but they turn out to be much more.

I like the Sam Vines character. He is tough and totally devoted to justice. Sam can’t understand the difference between the classes. To him everyone is equal, which isn’t true in the country where you have the upper class, the serving class, and the poor workers. What he really can’t take is discrimination because of appearance and cultural differences. He has the most diverse City Watch on Disc World. Sam has hired trolls, dwarves, vampires and werewolves, as long as they are good coppers he doesn’t care what they look like or how they act. So when he becomes aware of the plight of the goblins he is ready to fight to improve their situation.

I’m not a fan of the City Watch Disc World books in general. I can’t connect with the characters. This book was different because it was mostly Sam Vines, Lady Sybil and Young Sam and it took place outside of Ankh-Morpork. Of course like all the books in this series the story is funny, but I also felt for the goblins. Terry Pratchett is very good at relating social issues in a humorous manner. I enjoyed reading this installment in the series.

sep 24, 2012, 12:09am

Title Great Tales from English History (Book 2) by Robert Lacey
Format Kindle
Rating 4 Stars
Category British History

“Great Tales from English History” is a series of books that take the highlights from English History and condenses them into a chapter a piece. The chapters in book 2 range from Geoffrey Chaucer to Isaac Newton. I learned such fun facts as the reason why “a bandage is ‘wound’ around a ‘wound’, why ‘cough’ rhymes with ‘off’, while ‘bough’ rhymes with ‘cow’ “. The reason is because of William Caxton, the first person to publish books in mass quantity in English. There was no set way to spell words in the English language so he made it up as he went. I also discovered that the British two fingers “up yours” gesture came from the Battle of Agincourt where the French said they would cut off the fingers of the British archers who then used the gesture to taunt their enemy.

This isn’t just a book of amusing stories. There are serious discussions on the religious, social and political struggles in England at that time. The author relates the main stories from English History in a short and entertaining way. If you want to become familiar with the history of England without going too far in depth then this is the series for you.

Redigerat: okt 1, 2012, 3:52pm


Books Planned to Read for Challenge: 1 or More per Category

Completed in 1st Quarter: 7
Completed in 2nd Quarter: 7
Completed in 3rd Quarter: 8

1. Historical Fiction 1/2
2. Horror 1/2
3. Science Fiction 1/7
4. Fantasy 2/8
5. 20th Century Literature 0/3
6. Short Stories 3/7
7. Non-Fiction 2/4
8. Mythology 1/1
9. British History 1/2
10. Mystery 3/7
11. Humor 1/2
12. New Books 6/6

So, all I have to do is read 1 book in my 20th Century Literature category and I will be done for the year. Of course, I will read more books than that, but it's nice to know that I will be able to complete this challenge.

okt 1, 2012, 5:10pm

One book -- awesome! Hope it's a good one!

okt 1, 2012, 7:27pm

One more book to read - that is excellent!

okt 1, 2012, 9:45pm

Thanks guys, you are very sweet! I'm thinking it will be Slaughterhouse-Five, but I also have a few Muriel Spark books to read and The Master and the Margarita has been sitting on my kindle for a while. Until then I will be reading Horror books to celebrate Halloween.

Redigerat: okt 11, 2012, 10:52pm

Title The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess by Leanna Renee Hieber
Format ebook
Rating 3 1/2 Stars
Category Fantasy

Three young women and three young men living in Cairo, Egypt have been chosen to become the next guard of the threshold between our world and the Whisper World. Just as they start their mission Prophecy takes over and another guard is chosen, one that will fight for the goddess and the souls of the guards that came before. So, what of the previous cadre? They have been uprooted to London and stripped of their powers. Will they find happiness away from their home and their mission or will the goddess have more grand work for them?

In most mythological stories goddesses are fickle and tend to use mortals for their own purposes. In this story Persephone is so wrapped up in her own turmoil that she leaves the mortals confused and heartbroken, which did not make me her fan in the least. Although she is portrayed as beautiful and lovelorn, I still didn’t care for her.

This wasn’t the best of the “Strangely Beautiful” series. It is a prequel to the first two books. I wasn’t as attached to the Cairo guard as I was to the London guard. Their personalities and background stories were not as appealing. The series is powered by Alexi and Percy’s love story. Without these characters, this novel didn’t have the sense of urgency or the romantic intensity that the first two had. I enjoyed reading the book, but I recommend the first two more.

okt 20, 2012, 4:49pm

Title Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films 1930-1960 by Lawrence Raw
Format Paperback
Rating 4 Stars
Category Non-Fiction

If you are interested in some of the major character actors who worked in Horror and Science Fiction film from 1930 to 1960 this is a great reference book. It is well written and organized. Some of the actors I knew very well; John Carradine, Lloyd Bridges, Claude Rains, Simone Simon. Other actors I remembered seeing, but didn’t know their names like Dwight Frye and Ernest Thesiger who both appeared in classic Universal Horror movies, but of course being character actors you see them all the time and don’t know their names.

The book is written to highlight the skills of these actors, but little is told about their lives. This was a bit disappointing at first, but then I started to use the book as it was intended to be used, a guide to watching their work. I went back and watched Dwight Frye in “Dracula” and then I watched Ernest Thesiger in “The Ghoul.” This book is a great reference for those that are looking for memorable portrayals from these individuals.

okt 25, 2012, 11:00pm

Title The Frankenstein Papers by Fred Saberhagen
Format Paperback
Rating 3 Stars
Category Horror

In this novel Frankenstein’s creature narrates his own story through a personal journal. Victor Frankenstein becomes involved with a rich man named Saville who sees Victor’s experiments as a way to create slaves. The being Victor pieced together is extremely intelligent and discovers Saville’s plan. He soon realizes that Saville has hired an assassin to murder women to provide Frankenstein with fresh material. The creature flees from his creator and his evil cohorts and starts a journey to meet Benjamin Franklin who is in Paris. This simulation of life believes that Franklin is the only one who understands experiments with electricity and that he holds the key to discovering who he really is.

Franklin is interested in Victor’s experiments. His illegitimate son, Freeman, writes to him about a new book that has just been published called Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. Freeman starts to debunk the book by traveling to Ingolstadt and Geneve to visit the places mentioned in the novel.

This book doesn’t become interesting until three-fourths of the way through when the creature and Freemen meet. Before that point, the narrative is boring and my mind strayed a lot. I started to think that the book would have an interesting ending, but then I was completely disappointed. The twist ending is out-of-joint with the rest of the book and the last chapter felt stuck-on.

Redigerat: nov 1, 2012, 10:06pm

Title The Wicked by James Newman
Format Kindle
Rating 4 Stars
Category Horror

A fire has destroyed a children’s hospital outside of Morganville, North Carolina. Sixty people died, thirty-seven were children. Shortly after the fire David and Kate Little move into their new home in the small town. They have a little girl named Becca and Kate is pregnant. They hope to start a new life after Kate was assaulted back in their previous home of New York. The town seems quiet, but strange things start to happen. Soon they discover that the fire has awakened an ancient evil that will change the town forever.

This novel was a fun quick read. The style is very Stephen King circa 1980’s. The characters are well written and you start to care for them. My favorite character is an elderly ex-marine next door neighbor. He is tough and strong and doesn’t take anything from anyone. He turns out to be David’s best defense when his family is threatened. If you enjoy 1980’s horror novels I highly recommend this book.

Redigerat: nov 11, 2012, 7:29pm

Title Lies and Prophecy by Marie Brennan
Format Ibook
Rating 4 Stars
Category New Book

Kim is a student at Welton, a college for students who want to train in the magical arts. Her gifts lie in divination but she wants to be a guardian which requires her to learn ceremonial magic; a discipline she has been shying away from since her failure years ago. Her college life seems normal; worries about passing classes, hanging out with friends, and having a crush on a boy. Only the boy she likes is the resident wilder, a person with such strong magical powers they almost seem inhuman. Then the prophecies start, first with tarot cards then with dreams and all the omens point in the same direction, a major change in her life.

The author does a good job of world building by explaining how and why people now display magical gifts. Humans have a gene inherited from the sidhe that gives them a certain percentage of ability. When these powers were first manifested they caused mass destruction. Since then, the world has changed to use and control these talents. Young people are trained in whatever discipline they show the most aptitude in.

This novel starts off as a well written story about life as a college student, all-be-it at a magical institution. Then it becomes an adventure story and love story. The ending of the novel leads me to believe this will become an ongoing series. If this is true I will be on the lookout for more installments.

nov 17, 2012, 9:49pm

Title Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
Format Paperback
Rating 4 ½ Stars
Category20th Century Literature

If you picked up the phone and someone said “Remember you must die” what would you think? Would you assume it was a prank? Maybe you would think it was a threat? Or would you take the callers advice and think about your mortality? That is the question posed by Muriel Spark in this novel. Each recipient of this phone call is an elderly person. They each interpret the words in a different way depending on their individual personalities. Most of them know one another and they all commiserate about the mysterious caller.

Muriel Spark converted to Catholicism in 1954. It is mentioned frequently in the narrative that thinking over ones death each night is encouraged in this religion. There is a catechism that states “To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ.” This is based on the teachings of Paul who said that we must die daily. I am a non-denominational Christian and I had never heard this statement before. My interpretation was that we must remember that we must die so we make amends with those we have wronged.

My favorite character in the novel is Jean Taylor, a bedridden spinster living in a hospital. She is a part of the group of elderly acquaintances, but she is smarter and can watch the action without any emotion or attachment. The scene I liked best was when Charmian makes her own tea. She is a little old lady who has trouble remembering the name of her servants and can barely walk, yet when no one is around she finds the courage to set her own tea service. I was rooting for her and when she accomplished this herculean feat I thought she was awesome.

I enjoy Muriel Spark’s writing very much and this book did not disappoint. Her novels are short and easy to read, but they are packed with so much meaning. I enjoyed this philosophical character study and will continue to look for more of her novels to read.

nov 18, 2012, 12:32am

I am so happy to see you enjoyed Momento Mori. I do love Sparks sense of humour and her take on society!

nov 18, 2012, 7:53pm

Hi Lori, she is one of my favorites. Who knows, maybe I'll have a chance to read all her books. :-)

nov 18, 2012, 11:07pm

Hi Caroline, I am planning on reading Momento Mori next year, this will be my first Muriel Spark book. From your review I now have high hopes that it will be the start of a beautiful friendship!

nov 19, 2012, 9:48am

Hi Judy, I'm surprised you haven't read Spark before. I think you will enjoy reading this novel.

Redigerat: dec 8, 2012, 9:46pm

Title Dayworld by Philip Jose Farmer
Format Paperback
Rating 4 Stars
Category Science Fiction

In this future world, everyone lives on one day. Some people live on Monday, some live on Tuesday, etc. They are “stoned” or put into a type of hibernation that makes their bodies stiff and impervious to harm during the rest of the week. Caird doesn’t live on only one day; he lives seven different lives on seven different days. He is an immer, the children of Immerman, a group that hopes to take over the present government.

This new way of living makes life seem like a utopia with no over- crowding or pollution. The government takes care of everything; food, clothing, housing, just as long as you comply with the laws. Everyone is stoned at the same time each night and revived at the same time each day. Each person has been conditioned against violence and slovenly behavior. Everyone looks alike: tall, thin, healthy, dark skinned. Each day has its own culture and fashion. Religions are aloud as long as they don’t state they are the only true belief system. The scary part is that the government has such firm control over its people and everyone is accustomed to accepting everything the government does or says. The rulers can stone a person and put them out of the way forever if they become a problem.

This is an intelligent science fiction novel with spy thriller elements. Caird isn’t just threatened by the authorities; a homicidal maniac has targeted him and his wives in each day. The author muses on the freedoms of individuals. One daybreaker that appears throughout the book, but never is found by the organics, the name used for police, is an orthodox Jew named Gril. When Caird finally asks him why he has become a daybreaker he states that the laws of God out way the laws of the ruling government.

I enjoyed reading this novel and will be on the lookout for more installments in the Dayworld series.

dec 28, 2012, 6:25pm

Title The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde
Format Hardback
Rating 4 1/2 Stars
Category Fantasy

Thursday Next has been named the new chief librarian at Swindon All-You-Can-Eat at Fatso’s Drink Not Included Library. She would rather be the new head of SpecOps-27, but that job has been given to Phoebe Smalls, a younger version of Thursday. Thursday is still trying to recover from injuries sustained in an assassination attempt. One day she feels better, her head is clear and her limp is gone. That’s when she finds out about Day Players, synthetic humans that last for one day with the mind of the original person. Yes, it’s another Goliath conspiracy, so what’s new.

She also has family troubles. Her son Friday would have saved the world many times over as part of the CronoGuard, but the guard was disbanded when they realized time travel would never be invented. Instead he is destined to shoot a 16 year old brat that is bothering his little sister and spend the rest of his life in prison. Friday’s sister Tuesday, one of the smartest scientists in the world, has to create an Anti-Smite Shield before God smites Swindon on Friday. Thursday still thinks she has a daughter named Jenny, who in actuality is a mind worm given to her by the evil Aornis. Landon and Thursday have been investigating the whereabouts of Aornis who went missing a few years back.

Jasper Fforde is trying to get the Thursday Next series back on track with this new installment. The last Thursday Next novel was all about the Book World and I missed her complicated family life. This novel is all about Thursday’s life in Swindon, but we still need some Book World action to create a completely satisfying story. What makes this series so much fun is that Thursday must balance her home life and her career, which involves jumping into novels and meeting literary characters. These characters are what got me interested in reading this series in the first place. We learn about a place in the Book World called Dark Reading Matter, which is where half written and forgotten stories go. It looks like this will be the focus of the next novel.

I gave this novel 4 ½ stars because Jasper Fforde is such a joy to read. That said this was the most predictable book in the series. Usually I am totally stumped until the last few chapters, not the case this time. It may be that I have read all of the books in the series so I know what all of the characters will do. This was still a humorous and fun read and I recommend it to Thursday Next fans who love her wacky family.

Redigerat: dec 29, 2012, 6:44pm


Books Planned to Read for Challenge: 1 or More per Category

Completed in 1st Quarter: 7
Completed in 2nd Quarter: 7
Completed in 3rd Quarter: 8
Completed in 4th Quarter: 8

1. Historical Fiction 1
2. Horror 3
3. Science Fiction 2
4. Fantasy 4
5. 20th Century Literature 1
6. Short Stories 3
7. Non-Fiction 3
8. Mythology 1
9. British History 1
10. Mystery 3
11. Humor 1
12. New Books 7

I finished my challenge! Yeah for me! So, what can we make of all this?
I read fewer books this year than I did last year. It wasn't a bad year for books, I read a lot that I enjoyed. It was a hard year to find time to read. I worked more hours at the bookstore than I ever have because the owner was gone a lot. It sounds ironic doesn't it, I had no time to read because I work at a bookstore. I also had to deal with some depression and that makes it hard to concentrate on reading. My father was in and out of the hospital for most of the year and my best friends husband died of lung cancer. Sounds like a sad year, but it really wasn't.

Here are my favorite books of 2012:

Waiting For Sunrise by William Boyd – 4 ½ Stars
Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway – 4 ½ Stars
Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce – 5 Stars
From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend by Valerie Estelle Frannkel – 5 Stars
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card – 4 ½ Stars
Ghost Omnibus Volume 1 by Eric Luke – 5 Stars
Memento Mori by Muriel Spark – 4 ½ Stars
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham - 5 Stars
The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde -4 ½ Stars

I have just set up my new 2013 Challenge thread here.

dec 29, 2012, 6:18pm

Congrats on completing your challenge. Just in the nick of time too!

dec 29, 2012, 6:45pm

Thanks Wolfy!

dec 30, 2012, 7:23pm

Yeah for a complete challenge! See you next year!

dec 31, 2012, 3:20am


jan 1, 2013, 12:39pm

Thank you! Looking forward to this years challenge.

jan 1, 2013, 8:08pm

Congratulations, Caroline! I really need to read The Woman Who Died a Lot soon.

jan 2, 2013, 11:23am

Congrats! I have The woman who died a lot on my TBR but I need to refresh my memory of the series 1st

Redigerat: jan 2, 2013, 7:48pm

Hi Chritina, It's a great Thursday Next book. Better read it before the next one come out (whenever that is).

Hi clfisha, I understand where you are coming from. I'm devoting most of my reading for 2013 to catching up with series books. I have a couple of books I started to read this year and realized I didn't remember the first books!