SouthernKiwi's Divisible 12 in 12 - Part II

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SouthernKiwi's Divisible 12 in 12 - Part II

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 27, 2012, 10:50pm

Welcome to my second thread for 2012. There's no way I'll meet my goals for the challenge this year, but I'll see how close I can get.

Currently Reading:

The Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley


My categories are:

1. Blind Man's Bluff (Mount TBR books) .... 3/9
2. African Adventures (Books by African authors, or set in Africa) .... 3/6
3. Buzzed Books (LT'ers Recommendations) .... 3/6
4. Kiwi Corner (New Zealand authors) .... 4/9
5. Science Sources (Non-Fiction, science focus) .... 3/6
6. Novice Novelists (2011/2012 debut books) ..... 1/4
7. Truthful Tomes (Other non-fiction) .... 4/6
8. Familiar Faces (Books from series I've already started) .... 9/9 - Complete!
9. Fluff & Fun (Light and easy reads) ..... 6/6 - Complete!
10. Historical Hijinks (Historical fiction) .... 3/6
11. Wordy Works (Chunksters +600 pages) .... 2/3
12. Misfit's Mingle (Catch all category) .... 3/6

TOTAL: 44/76

Books acquired 2012: 61
Books off the shelf: 40
Books borrowed: 4
Books given away: 1

Redigerat: sep 25, 2012, 3:48am

Category 1: Blind Man's Bluff
Mount TBR books randomly chosen by visitors to my 11 in 11 thread.

Books Read:
1. Kevin McCloud's 43 Principles of Home by Kevin McCloud - chosen by Leonie (p:80)
2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Murial Barbery - chosen by me (p:133)
3. Hell's Angels by Hunter S Thompson - chosen by Lori (p:168)

The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin
Hell's Angels by Hunter S Thompson
The Butterfly Mosque by Willow Wilson
Princes Amongst Men by Garth Cartwright
Kissing Alice by Jacqueline Yallop
The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Paramedico by Benjamin Gilmour
The Elegance Of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery - April group read
Kevin McCloud's 43 Principles Of Home by Kevin McCloud

Redigerat: sep 25, 2012, 3:48am

Category 2: African Adventures
Books either set in Africa or written by African authors.

Books Read:
1. Zimbabwe: Years Of Hope And Despair by Philip Barclay (p:57)
2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (p:134)
3. The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander MaCall Smith (p:195)

Alexander McCall Smith
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
Zimbabwe: Years Of Hope And Despair by Philip Barclay
The White Rhino Hotel by Bartle Bull
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - April group read
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Redigerat: sep 25, 2012, 3:48am

Category 3: Buzzed Books
Books generating some talk here on LT, or in the media, or LTer's recommendations.

Books Read:
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (p:174)
2. Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson, Ibbotson recommended by Christina_Reads (p:199)
3. Ross Poldark by Winston Graham (p:225)

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
The City & The City by China Mieville
North And South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Scott Westerfield

Redigerat: nov 4, 2012, 12:09am

Category 4: Kiwi Corner
Books by New Zealand authors.

Books Read:
1. Hand Me Down by Michelle Holman (p:45)
2. The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox (p:88)
3. Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins (p:29, #2)
4. The Conductor by Sarah Quigley (p:37, #2)

The House Of Strife by Maurice Shadbolt
The Conductor by Sarah Quigley

Redigerat: nov 12, 2012, 3:02am

Category 5: Science Sources
Non-Fiction books with a science focus.

Books Read:
1. A Short History Of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (p:99)
2. The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins (p:19, #2)
3. Atlantic: A Vast Ocean Of A Million Stories by Simon Winchester

The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins
The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin
Simon Winchester
Chris Stringer

sep 25, 2012, 3:46am

Category 6: Novice Novelists
Books by debut authors released in 2011 or 2012.

Books Read:
1. The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller (p:177)

The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

Redigerat: okt 13, 2012, 12:26am

Category 7: Truthful Tomes
Non-Fiction books other than science.

Books Read:
1. Hitchens vs Blair - The Munk Debates (p:62)
2. The Discovery Of The Titanic by Robert Ballard (p:145)
3. The Duchess by Amanda Foreman (p:191)
4. A Night To Remember by Walter Lord (p:25, #2)

The Duchess by Amanda Foreman
Planet Word by J.P Davidson

Redigerat: jan 3, 2013, 8:42pm

Category 8: Familiar Faces
Books from series I've already started.

Books Read:
1. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (p:51)
2. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson (p:125)
3. The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts (p:146)
4. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (p:174)
5. Mockingjay by Suzanne Colllins (p:174)
6. The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts (p:61, #2)
7. Queen's Play by Dorothy Dunnett (p:82, #2)
8. Celebrity In Death by J.D. Robb (p:78, #2)
9. Flash And Bones by Kathy Reichs (p:79, #2)

Bernard Cornwell
J.D. Robb
Queen's Play by Dorothy Dunnett
A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
A Memory Of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Stormlight Archive book 2 (depending on release date) by Brandon Sanderson

Redigerat: nov 22, 2012, 3:39am

Category 9: Fluff & Fun
Light and easy reads.

Books Read:
1. Sylvester by Georgette Heyer (p:67)
2. Seriously ... I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres (p:81)
3. The Witness by Nora Roberts (p:144)
4. Lady Of Quality by Georgette Heyer (p:180)
5. The Making Of A Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett (p:38, #2)
6. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer (p:56, #2)

Georgette Heyer
Nora Roberts

Redigerat: okt 8, 2012, 3:25am

Category 10: Historical Hijinks
Historical fiction.

Books Read:
1. In The Company Of The Courtesan by Sarah Dunant (p:172)
2. Young Exile by Eliane Whitehouse (p:175)
3. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir (p:209)

Sarah Dunant
Mrs Mike by Benedict Freedman
Sea Of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Steven Barnes

Redigerat: okt 12, 2012, 11:03pm

Category 11: Wordy Works
Chunkster books with +600 pages.

Books Read:
1. 2666 by Roberto Bolano (DNF)
2. A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (p:24, #2)

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - June group read
2666 by Roberto Bolano - March group read
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Redigerat: nov 22, 2012, 2:17am

Category 12: Misfit's Mingle
My catch all category.

Books Read:
1. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka (p:66)
2. Virus by Diane Hoh (p:192)
3. Smut: Two Unseemly Stories by Alan Bennett (p:55, #2)

Donna Leon

sep 25, 2012, 2:46pm

Stopped by to make sure I don't miss your thread! :)

Redigerat: sep 25, 2012, 4:09pm

For a Simon Winchester book, I can recommend Krakatoa. I also read and enjoyed his book Atlantic: The Biography of an Ocean.

sep 25, 2012, 10:08pm

Following you over to your new thread Alana!

sep 26, 2012, 5:27am

-15 I'd also recommend his book on Korea (I forget the title) and the Surgeon of Crowthorne I also really enjoyed his book on the Falklands but thats less like his other books as its his diary of being a prisoner of the Argentinians

sep 29, 2012, 5:46am

Hi Eva and Lori!

Mamzel and Pete thanks for the Simon Winchester recommendations, it sounds like he's written some good ones. Atlantic: The Biography of an Ocean sounds particularly interesting.

sep 29, 2012, 6:27am

This reveiw is rather late in the writing, but better late than never I guess.

The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins
Non-Fiction / Science / Evolution
4.5 Stars
Category: Science Sources

437 pages

The Greatest Show On Earth is a comprehensive overview of the evidence for evolution. In a book that is accessible and argued lucidly and convincingly, Dawkins covers the fossil record, dating techniques, physiological similarities between species, genetic evidence, the distribution of species, design ‘flaws’, and real examples of natural selection occurring over very short time frames (a fascinating chapter and my personal favourite) amongst much more. Great images are used in several sections throughout the book to aptly illustrate, and complement, the arguments.

The Greatest Show On Earth is laced with wit and interesting, easy-to-follow analogies with the science and arguments presented in a very readable writing style. This isn’t what you’d call a light read, but it is definitely enjoyable and filled a number of gaps I had in my knowledge.

As it's now been almost a month since I finished reading The Greatest Show this reveiw doesn't do it justice, this is book with a lot of depth and one that could be reread several times, and something new grasped each time.

sep 29, 2012, 2:55pm

I love it when authors can make what would appear to many as a dry, boring subject witty and interesting! The Greatest Show on Earth goes on the to read list.

sep 30, 2012, 6:24pm

The Greatest Show on Earth is going on my wishlist too!!

Redigerat: okt 1, 2012, 8:37am

I've got the blind watchmaker on the shelf that I'll probably get to for my 12/12 - would be interesting to aso get greatest show as it's probably an update to some of his ideas... maybe next year!

okt 3, 2012, 3:22am

3rd Quarter Recap

Books read this quarter: 7/76 (for a total of 31/76), 1 in progress
Pages read: 3,194
Books Owned vs. Books Borrowed: 4 (1) : 3
Best Reads:
The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins
A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin
Worst Read:
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Blind Man's Bluff
None Read

African Adventures
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Buzzed Books
Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham

Kiwi Corner
None Read

Science Sources
The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins

Novice Novelists
None Read

Truthful Tomes
The Duchess by Amanda Foreman

Familiar Faces
None Read

Fluff & Fun
None Read

Historical Hijinks
Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Wordy Works
A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin - in progress

Misfit's Mingle
Virus by Diane Hoh

Redigerat: okt 13, 2012, 6:58pm

A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin
4 Stars
Category: Wordy Works

1,117 pages

I read all of the previous books in The Song Of Ice And Fire series one after the other a number of years ago, so I’ve forgotten a lot of the intricacies. But even so, once I started reading A Dance With Dragons many of the major plot lines came back to me, although I know I was not arriving at all the conclusions I perhaps should have been. (I’m not doing a reread of the whole series until the final book is published).

The same great characters, epic scope, wonderful world building and plots with all the twists you could want are again present in Dragons. And we end with a couple of great cliff hangers – I just hope Martin is coming up with something a little different to resolve these, and that they are properly resolved since Brienne’s fate from A Feast For Crows was rather abruptly dealt with in Dragons.

But. I was about half way through before it felt like Martin really began to move the plot forward. Daenerys is one of my favourites, but her chapters seem to have her at a standstill in Meereen and not making any use of her best weapons. Tyrion has plans inside plans, but spent most of the book wandering in an effort to reach a place where he could finally put some in motion. Jon Snow was one of the few whose plot was actively moved on with some interesting things happening at The Wall, while Bran has reached his destination and I hope to see more of him in the next book as it seems his character will now really be able to grow.

One of the best things about this series is the unpredictability, and that events are often not as they seem. So I'm guessing that in his sneaky way, Martin has probably moved the story along further than it seems. And apparently the next will open with a whole lot of action.

Overall, A Dance With Dragons lived up to my hopes for this book and I loved being immersed in the world of Westeros again. Bring on The Winds Of Winter.

Redigerat: okt 15, 2012, 1:24am

A Night To Remember by Walter Lord
Non-Fiction / History
5 Stars
Category: Truthful Tomes

182 pages

In his classic A Night To Remember Walter Lord gives us an intimate retelling of the last hours of the Titanic, starting from the Crow’s Nest and the moment the iceberg was sighted and concluding just hours later with the Carpathia steaming off for New York with the survivors.

In the course of writing this book, Lord interviewed many of the survivors, as well as crew from the Carpathia and the Californian - the ship that was closest but didn’t hear the distress calls until far too late. The result is an authentic, detailed and sensitive account of the night of April 12. The narrative is told in straight forward manner, and with a certain emotional distance being maintained but Lord includes moments and anecdotes which clearly illustrate the human aspect of this disaster: wives resolutely refusing to leave their husbands and those forcibly placed in life boats, family’s becoming separated in the crush, a terrified young man removed from a life boat and another who covered his head in a woman’s shawl and went undetected, the gentlemen dressed in their best and those in the life boat’s in all manner of dress, the bickering whilst waiting for rescue, and the fear that meant only one life boat went back to check for survivors amongst those that were in the water. While direct quotes from the survivors are not used, it is obvious in the memories shared and the emotions described that this is a book based on first hand accounts.

In one or two sentences at the end of numerous chapters, the initial disbelief, then the growing desperation on board the Titanic is contrasted with (what seems to us) the unfathomable decisions being made on board the Californian, whose crew saw the strange positioning of the Titanic’s lights and then later the flares, but arrived at every conclusion to explain what they were seeing except the correct one. There is a sense of tension as the Carpathia responds and races to the scene through the ice field, and in doing so reaches a speed that surprises even her captain.

A Night To Remember is rightly held to be a classic. It has a quiet power, is utterly compelling and in including the recollections of those involved, Lord gives readers plenty of insight into what it was like during the Titanic's last hours.

okt 14, 2012, 5:01pm

Wonderful review of A night to remember! As for Martin, I've eyed the books (not yet seen anything of the TV series either), but have so far felt a bit deterred by the sheer bulk of them.

okt 15, 2012, 5:01pm

I've (deliberately) stayed away from The Song Of Ice And Fire-series until I decide whether to read the books or watch the series first. The books are quite hefty. :) I have a chunkster-category next year, so maybe I'll try the first book at least.

Great review indeed of A Night To Remember - such a sad moment in history.

okt 17, 2012, 1:36am

Anders and Eva, A Game Of Thrones will at least give you a good idea of whether you will like the series. Eva, the TV series is very well done so this could also be a good introduction if you're just wanting to figure out if it might be your thing.

okt 22, 2012, 1:17am

Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins
General Fiction
2.5 Stars
Category: Kiwi Corner

271 pages

Emily Perkins' Novel About My Wife is summed up in its title. Written from Tom’s perspective, this is a good study of a relationship and grief. From the first sentence invoking all of Tom's love it’s clear that Ann is dead, with the story charting their life together.

The story is set, we find out at the end, only a few months after Ann’s death therefore the story is told through the lens of Tom’s grief and what has been lost, rather than from an appreciation of what he was lucky to have had. This is understandable, but it felt overwhelmingly sad, with the only bright spot being Arlo’s birth. As we know up front that Ann dies there is also a pervading sense of doom, and when mental illness begins to play a role in the story this becomes quite a dark book. This is despite Tom and Ann supposedly having a wonderful relationship, but there was little demonstrating this, just Tom’s repeated insistence. Perhaps this was Tom choosing to remember his marriage that way.

Neither Tom nor Ann are particularly sympathetic characters, I think Ann could have been but we only get Tom’s perspective of her. As Tom’s the narrator for the whole book, I found it very difficult to invest in either character or their relationship, and I couldn’t relate to many of their experiences.

There are also a number of major questions left answered about Ann and what exactly happened to her before she left Australia, what happened in Fiji, and whether she was mentally unwell and if so, to what degree. I would have liked these questions resolved more clearly.

I did finish Novel About My Wife because some answers were being provided, and I was curious to find out exactly what happened to Ann. But I found this an easy book to put down and was never fully engaged with the story.

okt 22, 2012, 11:25am

Sorry to see your last read was a dud. Hopefully the next one will be better!

okt 22, 2012, 12:35pm

Thanks for not handing out a book-bullet! :)

okt 23, 2012, 2:53pm

I tried to get going on Novel about my wife earlier this year but put it down after 20 pgs or so. I so want to read a book by Ms Perkins but.... I also have her The Forrests but the reviews have been so mixed, all the critics rave and the ordinary readers find it hard going.

Redigerat: okt 27, 2012, 3:05am

Hi Lori, the next book was much better, thanks :-) A review might be a few days away though.

Happy to take the ocassional hit for the team Eva!

Kerry, Novel About My Wife sat on my shelf for ages but I wanted to read it before I tried The Forrests but I'm not so sure I'll pick that up now - Perkins does seem to get critical but not popular acclaim. It was just announced in the last week or so that Perkins is taking up a position at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria Uni next year - there's a bit of personnal shuffling going on to accommodate Bill Manhire's retirement, so that was another reason for me try her books, I've already dealt with her once for work and I almost certainly will again when she makes the move down.

okt 27, 2012, 3:01am

Yes, I saw that she's moving to Wellington. I'll probably try The Forrests, just one of those books that I'll have to set a daily reading goal with.

nov 2, 2012, 1:17pm

Alana I had lost your thread for ages!

Urg - sorry you didn't enjoy Novel about My Wife much. I think it's downstairs somewhere. I tried The Forrests earlier this year - for about 150 pages - then gave up. i just didn't care about the characters and there's something about the way she wrote them that I found irritating.

I'm adding A Night to Remember to my WL if you're giving it 5 stars. Ta daaaaah - it's in the central stack at the library. I love liberating central stack books and haven't done so since we were back.

I stopped reading The Greatest show on Earth some time around when we moved to Switzerland - my reading suddenly got light and bubbly for a few months and TGSOE needed concentration, especially for a non-scientist (my science knowledge is woeful). But I will go back to it - after i read Dawkins' The Selfish Gene which I bought for my Kindle a few weeks ago.

nov 3, 2012, 11:17pm

Hi Cushla, good to have your around :-) I have no idea how you're managing to keep up with LT given what a busy year you're having! And The Forrests just dropped even further down my 'Maybe' list. I hope you like A Night To Remember, I've had a fascination with the Titanic since I was quite young so was srongly predisposed to like it, but it is a really good read. I will also be reading more Dawkins after TGSOE, but not until next year.

Ok, time to catch up on my reveiws ....

Redigerat: nov 6, 2012, 1:54am

The Conductor by Sarah Quigley
Historical Fiction
4.5 Stars
Category: Kiwi Corner

300 pages

The Conductor brings to life the siege of Leningrad, and the difficulties faced by those who remained behind once the city was surrounded and under attack from Hitler’s army. Told from the perspectives of Dmitri Shostkovich, Karl Eliasberg and Nikolai Nikolayev Quigley evokes three strong personalities and their shared passion for music against a backdrop of harsh deprivation and uncertainty.

The first half of the book focuses on Shostakovich, Russia’s most celebrated composer of the time, as he battles to write the score for his Leningrad Symphony while doing fire watch duty and digging trenches to aid in the defence of his beloved city, as his scared family slowly starve around him.

With Shostakovich and his family eventually forced to evacuate it falls to Eliasberg, conductor of the second rate Radio Orchestra, to lead the performance of the completed symphony which the Russians hope will lift the spirits of the nation. With a limited number of musicians still alive, but so weak they cannot play their instruments properly, Eliasberg struggles to produce the performance demanded of him by the Russian authorities.

Contrasted with the genius Shostakovich and Eliasberg, who for one performance rises above his own mediocre talents and achieves something great, is Nikolai, a musician tortured by the uncertainty of his daughter's fate after she is evacuated from the city with hundreds of other children. While we can see the almost unendurable hardship faced by Shostakovich and particularly Eliasberg, it is Nikolai who brings a more human side to the story.

I have no knowledge of classical music, and only a small understanding of Russia’s role in WWII, but Quigley transports her readers to another time and place completely.

The Conductor has a subtle power which comes from Quigley’s understated style, and the characters are flawed, human and compelling. This is a gripping read, and one I’d highly recommend.

Thank you Kerry for pointing this one out to me.

nov 3, 2012, 11:53pm

The Making Of A Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Young Adult
3.5 Stars
Category: Fluff & Fun

97 pages

Emily Fox-Seton is an impoverished gentlewoman who makes her way in life by doing odd jobs and running errands for wealthy patrons. Emily’s greatest pleasures in life are the humble comforts of her home and any small kindness done to her by anybody at all. Emily is loved for her unfailingly kind-hearted and willing nature. It is also this willingness that allows Emily’s latest patron Lady Maria Bayne to take advantage of her, and in inviting Emily to the country to help organise and run her house party, brings her to the attention of Lord Walderhurst.

Hodgeson Burnett does some interesting things in The Making Of …. Neither Emily nor Lord Walderhurst are traditional protagonists in this rather pragmatic romance. Emily is an "old maid", not beautiful, witty or particularly smart and Lord Walderhurst is a middle aged widower, ‘only’ handsome and not interested in all the lovely young debutantes vying to become his wife.

There is an overt moral to this tale and although Emily in particular, and the story in general, are overly saccharine this is still a very readable little book with a number of characters for whom I couldn’t help hoping for the best.

Redigerat: nov 4, 2012, 1:02am

The Conductor sounds fantastic Alana. I need a "Q" surname author to complete my Alphabet Challenge and this would be perfect for it!

.... checked my local library... they don't have this one. Darn it! *pouts*

nov 4, 2012, 1:20am

Dare I mention The Book Depository or Amazon, Lori? It's available on both ... :-)

nov 4, 2012, 1:09pm

Thanks Alana. I did some more online research and discovered that The Conductor doesn't go on sale in Canada until December 25, 2012..... which would explain why my local library doesn't have a copy. ;-) redirects me back to where they are taking pre-orders for the book. Looks like I will be picking a different "Q" author to finish my Alphabet Challenge this year but I am looking forward to reading Quigley's book next year!

nov 5, 2012, 4:06am

Ha, it's so weird for me to have books before most of the rest of the world, I feel like I'm always waiting on one release date or another - I didn't even consider that it might not be on sale elsewhere yet.

nov 5, 2012, 4:09am

I read The Conductor around the time of publication in May 2011! Pleased to see you liked it.

nov 5, 2012, 7:24am

oo The Conductor went into my subconscious after a interesting, but quick, radio interview (BBC Radio 4).. I have been wondering why I wanted to read about siege of Leningrad :). On the tbr it goes!

nov 5, 2012, 4:28pm

>42 SouthernKiwi: I have a friend who took her daughter to Australia in time for the release of one of the Harry Potter books. She swore it was a coincidence. Ha!

nov 9, 2012, 7:44pm

I've managed to borrow The Conductor from the library twice this year - and both times I haven't got to it in time!!

{Popping in to see your loot from this morning!}

Redigerat: nov 9, 2012, 8:18pm

Hi everyone, not long back from a bookfair - not sure how I've always managed to miss them until now but my first one was great!

>45 mamzel: That doesn't sound like a coincidence to me either, Mamzel!
>46 cushlareads: Lol Cushla, third time lucky for The Conductor?

So the loot from this morning:

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
Ashes To Ashes by Tami Hoag
Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
A Place Of Hiding by Elizabeth George
Across The Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn (aka Gillian Rubinstein)
The Brilliance Of The Moon by Lian Heran (aka Gillian Rubinstein)
The Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer - turns out this is a double up. Oh well, it was only $2.
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest by Steig Larsson

Half of these books are copies to replace the ones that went with an ex when we split, and the rest I'm looking forward to reading - I'm just not sure when exactly I'll get to some of them. Next years challenge hopefully ...

nov 9, 2012, 9:12pm

OK now I know where you were standing because I saw Daughter of Fortune and the Stieg Larssons in your pile as you reached the checkout - but I didn't look up properly to gawk at you!! But I took note that I wasn't the only one to find some good stuff.

Next year we should coordinate times! I ended up with SEVEN doubles (of the Viragoes that I collect then fail to read) so you didn't do too badly.

nov 9, 2012, 9:30pm

Nice book haul Alana!

nov 10, 2012, 12:01pm

I see a few familiar titles there. Daughter of Fortune was the first book by Allende I read. I really enjoyed it.

nov 11, 2012, 5:00pm

Great loot!! Definitely a few that should be permanently on the shelf in that batch.

Redigerat: nov 13, 2012, 3:33am

Yip I was pretty happy with my haul Cushla :-) Seven double ups?! This is one of the few situations where I would've been happy to have a smart phone so I could check my catalogue. Coordinating times next year would be great!

I'd actually picked up at least 6 of those books before I got to the end of the first side of the first table. I decided I'd better rein myself in otherwise getting home might have proved interesting.

Good to hear Daughter of Fortune is good Mamzel, Allende is an author I've been meaning to try for a while now.

Thanks Lori and Eva. That third Pullman turned out to be frustratingly elusive but oh well, it'll be awhile before I reread those anyway.

nov 19, 2012, 1:47am

Hurrah, finally finished a category! I realised long ago that I would not be finishing my challenge this year, so my new goal is simply to finish at least 3 categories, that at least should be doable. And finally had the chance to have a mini readathon over the last week, and now I'need to write 4 reviews.

nov 19, 2012, 11:45am

Congrats on finishing the category and for the setting the new goal. I look forward to reading about the books your read during your mini readathon!

nov 22, 2012, 2:34am

Smut: Two Unseemly Stories by Alan Bennett
General Fiction
3.5 Stars
Category: Misfit’s Mingle

189 pages

Smut contains two short stories The Greening of Mrs Donaldson and The Shielding Of Mrs Forbes. Each is about the fear associated with a perceived abnormality in ones sexuality.

The Greening has the recently widowed Mrs Donaldson taking in lodgers and acting out case studies to teach med students at the local hospital to earn some extra cash. When the lodgers get behind in their rent, they offer Mrs Donaldson a voyeuristic opportunity in lieu of money which, quite passively, is accepted. The Shielding sees a gay man attempting to keep his sexuality a secret from his stuffy, matriarchal mother and his very intelligent new wife. While these stories revolve around sex, and contain sex scenes, they are not graphic. These events are more like background so that Bennett can explore his themes.

I adored The Uncommon Reader but was quite disappointed with Smut. There was none of that same whimsy, and the laughs were few and far between – although if British humour is your thing, you’ll probably be more entertained than I was. The Greening was more plot orientated while The Shielding was all about the characters, so I found both a little uneven. But there are some wonderful, quotable lines in this little book that nicely and succinctly explore the themes of what and who exactly is “ordinary”.

The casualness of how events occur in the first story made it hard for me to suspend my disbelief, and the characters in the second weren’t particularly likable although they were understandable. So while Smut was entertaining, subtly profound and a fun way to explore some serious ideas, it just didn’t live up to the high expectations set by The Uncommon Reader.

nov 22, 2012, 3:39am

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
Historical Fiction / Gothic / Regency Romance
3.0 Stars
Category: Fluff & Fun

313 pages

***Contains Spoilers***
Cousin Kate is orphaned and attempting to make her own way in the world, but after being let go from her position as a governess she is unable to find another job, and so turns to her old nurse Sarah Nidd. Enter Kate’s estranged aunt Minerva, who whisks Kate off to the grand Staplewood estate and everything suddenly seems to be going right for Kate. But is it? Kate's moody cousin Torquil, some odd behaviour from Aunt Minerva and Phillip's vague warnings eventually get Kate wondering about what's really going on at Staplewood.

The problem with Cousin Kate is in the genre: gothic / regency romance. Those two don’t mix all that easily in one book.

On the one hand, I enjoyed the darker side of this Heyer. It's atmospheric and vaguely sinister with a sense of mystery - even if it was an obvious mystery. Heyer also highlights the potential fate of those who had a mental illness in the 19th century. Torquil’s situation is comfortable and pampered, but by the end of Cousin Kate there is no doubt of just how horrendous his treatment could have been if he were from a family of lesser means.

On the other hand, this dark story is contrasted with the regency romance aspect where everything is all sweetness and light. The ending felt rather abrupt, our happy hero and heroine seem callous in their reactions to Torquil's death (although their reasoning does have logic) - someone they had built relationships with and professed to care for. The romance seemed to take a back seat to the mystery element of the story, which resulted in the relationship between Kate and Phillip being under-explained and a good example of an author telling rather than showing.

This is not one of my favourites from Heyer, it’s a little too confused, but it is still a Heyer. A nice sense of atmosphere, a lively heroine and the banter made this a good read, but not a great one.

Redigerat: nov 23, 2012, 10:01pm

I have Smut on the wishlist, but I have been told to not take The Uncommon Reader into account at all - the comparison would be unfair since the latter was a bit of a strike of genius. Still looking forward to Smut since the idea is an intriguing one, but I'll keep the expectations nice and low. :)

nov 24, 2012, 8:42am

I always thought that Heyer's publishers asked for a Gothic novel since they were so popular and Cousin Kate was her answer. While better than a lot of the Gothic novels being published at the time, it is far from Heyer's best and one I only keep because I want ALL of her books.

nov 24, 2012, 5:57pm

>55 SouthernKiwi: I'm among the very few wqho though The uncommon reader was pretty overrated. So I guess I'll stay clear of Smut - even though I must say that it sounds a little more interesting, to me at least. :)

nov 24, 2012, 9:21pm

Eva, I grabbed Smut at the bookstore because of The Uncommon Reader, so I wish I'd heard that very good advice first :-)

Anders, Smut is quite a different book from The Uncommon Reader, so I'd repeat Eva advice to not consider The Uncommon Reader too much when reading Smut. My problem was I was expecting, and hoping, for something similar to The Uncommon Reader.

Hailelib, I haven't read many Heyer's yet, but I am going to want to buy as many as I can too. I haven't actually read any of her more renowned books yet, I have a suspicion it's because I've been looking for her in second hand shops and I think people hold on to her better books :-)

nov 24, 2012, 9:24pm

The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts
Contemporary Romance
3.0 Stars
Category: Familiar Faces

308 pages

The finale of the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, The Perfect Hope follows the romance of Ryder and Hope, and in the background is the story of the Inn’s ghost Lizzie and her long lost Billy.

Given the number of books I’ve now read by Nora Roberts, they have long since become rather predictable, but in part that’s why they’re some of my favourite go-to comfort reads. In her trilogies I usually enjoy the third book best – the moody man (or bad boy) with a good heart meets the straight-laced lady. The Perfect Hope is no exception.

Ryder and Hope were my favourite characters of the series, but I also really enjoyed the element of historical fiction in Lizzie and Billy’s story and learning a little of the Battle of Antietam.

This was pure brain candy, and perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Redigerat: nov 24, 2012, 10:53pm

Atlantic: A Vast Ocean Of A Million Stories by Simon Winchester
Non-Fiction / Oceanography/ History / Geology
4.0 Stars
Category: Science Sources

459 pages

What an adventure Winchester takes his readers on with his Atlantic. Covering a myriad of topics from Pangaea and the formation of the Atlantic ocean, to exploration, naval battles, climate change, the arts and literature which depict the Atlantic to the eventual end of the ocean when the continents reform into another supercontinent, this is a well researched book written with an obvious passion for the subject.

As the subtitle suggests, this is not an exhaustive biography, but a fascinating exploration of many of the ways people have interacted with the Atlantic Ocean.

I particularly enjoyed the chapters on exploration and the fisheries of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland and around the South Georgia and South Sandwich Island groups. The chapter covering the representations of the Atlantic in literature and the arts was one of the weaker ones. Winchester’s writing is generally engaging and with his own enthusiasm he pulls the reader along with him.

I would have liked to see the inclusion of colour images, as some of the black and white ones aren’t particularly clear, as well as a map to accompany Winchester’s descriptions of the technical boundaries of the Atlantic Ocean. The one section I thought was missing from Atlantic was on the flora and fauna, even just to highlight some of the more unsual species that call this ocean home.

With such a broad scope I found this a hugely interesting and at various points a thought provoking book. Some reviews have suggested this is perhaps not Winchester’s finest book, so I’ll definitely pick up more from him.

nov 26, 2012, 1:40pm

@ 56 -- I definitely agree with your overall assessment of Cousin Kate: it's by no means Heyer at her best, but it's still Heyer! In my opinion it's one of her weakest books (along with A Civil Contract), but I haven't been truly disappointed by any of them.

nov 26, 2012, 4:23pm

@60 - It's interesting what you said about the difficulty in finding Georgette Heyer's books in the second hand store. I am always on the look out for her but she truly is a rare find in the second hand stores. I guess people really do hold onto her works!

nov 27, 2012, 4:13am

Christina I think I'll be much the same with Heyer, I'll definitely have my favourites, but probably won't be really disappointed, even by her weaker ones.

Judy, for an author who's written so many books I've only seen her rarely in second hand shops or at fairs. And in the bookstores I might be lucky to find one or two random/lesser known titles of hers on the shelves. I don't think it will be long before I have an online binge!

nov 27, 2012, 7:34am

I am making a note of the Winchester book, I've enjoyed everything I've read by him although I'd say he's a second tier author for me...

dec 13, 2012, 1:39am

Psutto I think Winchester will end up a good author for me too, but not an absolute favourite.

Yay, after the whirl of Christmas parties, end of year get togethers and the general madness of the last few weeks, I've finally managed to finish Queen's Play. I think the rest of the year will be as many easy reads as I can manage.

dec 18, 2012, 5:11pm

Ooh maybe my SantaThing books aren't far away! Also the idea of discovering a stash a 12,000 books would be amazing fun :-)

dec 19, 2012, 1:10pm

LOL! File under "Oops!"? :P Fingers Xed yours are among them!!

dec 24, 2012, 1:52am

Hi Alana - I might be a tad late with this - due to time zones - but wanted to stop by to wish you a happy holiday season and all the best in the new year!

dec 24, 2012, 2:05am

Happy Christmas for tomorrow, Alana!

The Simon Winchester book looks good. I liked his one about the Yangtze.

dec 24, 2012, 2:11am

Hi Lori and Cushla, thank you and Merry Christmas to you both, I hope you have a wonderful day.

I'm not sure if I'll have time to log on tomorrow, so Merry Christmas to everyone, I hope there's lots of new books and good things under the tree!

dec 24, 2012, 3:54am

Merry Christmas Alana. Hope your books arrived. I have Heyer's The Spanish Bride on my tbr for early next year.

dec 24, 2012, 7:38pm

Thanks Kerry, Merry Christmas to you too! Books haven't arrived jusy yet, but that's OK, for me they'll just turn into BirthdayThing books :-)

Fantastic day in Wellington, my flatmate and I have just got into our bikinis and are headed for Point Dorset for a quick swim. It's something of a small miracle that Wellington seems to be among the places to be, weather wise, today :-)

dec 28, 2012, 12:13am

Nice! We had a sunny Xmas too, but it was quite a bit too cold to go swimming, unfortunately. :)

dec 29, 2012, 8:13am

Belated Christmas greetings from the other side of the globe! Not much bikini action going on her, let me tell you....

dec 29, 2012, 10:19pm

Hi Eva and Anders, unfortunately it's turning out that Christmas day may have been the only day for some bikini action.

I'm really ready to wrap up this thread and head on over to 2013, but I have at least 3 reveiws to write and if I can hit page 600 in The Mists Of Avalon by tomorrow I'll include it in this year's count and consider the three categories I aimed to finish done. I've made it to page 413 so far, and while it's good I'm not gripped by the story, so we shall see how that goes.

dec 30, 2012, 2:03am

Celebrity In Death by J.D Robb
Police Procedural / Crime Fiction
3 Stars
Category: Familiar Faces

389 pages

The previous book in the series New York To Dallas was a dark and emotionally intense instalment so Celebrity In Death is throttled well back. The story mainly revolves around Eve and Peabody, who are investigating the death of Peabody’s double from a movie being made about a previous case. The other characters remain mostly in the background with limited interaction, the focus being on the mystery in this book.

This was another good comfort read, but I really do wonder just how much further Robb can drive the character development. These books have now gone from being must reads as soon as I buy them, to lingering on my self until I’m in the mood for something cosy and familiar.

dec 30, 2012, 2:49am

Flash And Bones by Kathy Reichs
Police Procedural / Crime Fiction
3 Stars
Category: Familiar Faces

271 pages

A body is found in a drum at the Charlotte speedway right before NASCAR rolls into town. As Tempe investigates, links to the disappearance of a young couple years earlier appear. But it becomes clearer to her that the original investigation lead by the FBI may have cut some corners. Did a the couple simply run away? Or were they killed by a right-wing extremist group? And how does the body in the drum relate to them?

I used to love the Tempe Brennan books, but I’ve been really disappointed with the last two or three instalments and this one sat on my shelf for well over a year. I much prefer the books set in Montreal, and a book or two back, Reichs had the opportunity to really develop Tempe’s character and maybe change the direction of the series a little. From what I remember, the following books have ignored those developments completely. I like Andrew Ryan and he’s almost completely absent in this book, and with the addition of Charlie Hunt, and another detective in this book I’m finding the will she/won’t she romance aspect irritating. I was also irritated by Tempe’s ex husband and his fiancée - a mid life crisis meets bimbo barbie scenario. I used to like Reichs’ chatty narrative style, but in this book for some reason it came across as lazy writing as she uses talking directly to the reader as the premise for multiple info dumps, although this is not a new technique for Reichs.

Having whinged about all of that, I did actually enjoy the mystery in Flash And Bones. I’m not a NASCAR fan, but I did follow some motor racing a few years back so I liked the setting, and I’m a sucker for a misunderstood bad boy so Detective Galimore was an interesting new character. And for once in my life I managed to successfully work out who the killer was well before the big reveal.

This is yet another comfort read on a lazy summer day, but I’m not sure I’ll read any more from this series. I think it’s probably time for something new.

dec 30, 2012, 2:12pm

I read the first four in the Tempe-series and enjoyed them a lot, but then the style felt a bit repetitive so I gave up. I might get back to it when I'm in the mood - I did quite enjoy all the forensic talk.

jan 3, 2013, 1:09pm

>78 SouthernKiwi: These books have now gone from being must reads as soon as I buy them, to lingering on my self until I’m in the mood for something cosy and familiar.

Same for me, which is why I am now several books behind. I haven't gotten to this one yet.

jan 3, 2013, 8:42pm

Hi Eva and Ivy, yes the style can be a bit repetitive, I started reading these when I was 12 or 13 I think, at that point I wasn't the most critical of readers so I got past all of that and was hooked by the forensic accuracy but even that is starting to seem a bit same old, same old. I don't think I'll be buying any more from this series, and I'm not even sure if I will look for them in the library.

Ok, finally, second to last reveiw for 2012 and I'm keeping it short and sweet.

Queen's Play by Dorothy Dunnett
Historical Fiction
3 Stars
Category: Familiar Faces

432 pages

I enjoyed the first book in this series for all the historical detail, political intrigue and one the most interesting protagonists I've ever read about. Queen's Play has all of these features, but this time the setting has shifted to the opulent and corrupt French court where Lymond must attempt to protect the young Mary Queen of Scots.

I really wanted to like this book, but there's just something about the writing that makes the story drag, in places the prose was a bit convoluted and the clarity suffered (granted, this may have been my fault for trying to read it while very tired). I think I'll need to make sure I'm in the right mood if and when I pick up The Disorderly Knights.

jan 3, 2013, 9:49pm

I'm still waiting to start this series - I have a few installments on Mt. TBR, but I'm waiting for a mood where I have patience for the (what I heard) somewhat complex writing. The story itself seems really intriguing.

jan 5, 2013, 11:54am

I once tried the first Lymond book, but I gave up after about 50 pages. I'd like to try it again sometime, though, as it's a series I really want to enjoy!

jan 7, 2013, 9:18am

I want to continue the series too but need a plot recap and have other shinier books staring at me...