The books I read in 2012

1 01 2013

Happy New Year, dearest blog readers!

Here’s wishing each and every one of you the most wonderful things for the year ahead 😀

It’s time for another blog post sharing the books I managed to read over the course of the past year (you can also see my posts for 2009, 2010 and 2011).

In 2011, I set my initial goal as 100 books and eventually totalled 145. For 2012, I decided to ease into things by again setting my goal at 100 books, especially since I knew how crazy-busy the second half of the year would be with work deadlines (lack of sleep for days on end is no fun…)

And despite all the madness, I still managed to beat my initial goal and bump my reading for the year up to 160 books!

So, below follows the (looong) list of all the books I read. If you’re not in the mood to scroll through and peruse it now, you can always download the PDF version thereof: Books Read 2012

Oh, and if you want me to recommend any of the books on the list or highlight some of the ones I enjoyed the most, you only need to ask. I’d also love if you’d like to share some of the books you found worthwhile. Happy reading!!

Simon's cat bookcase

BOOKS I’VE READ THIS YEAR:

* American Gods – Neil Gaiman

* Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

* Angelology – Danielle Trussoni

* The Ultimate Book of Jewish Jokes – David Minkoff

* Incarceron – Katherine Fisher

* The Book with No Name – Anonymous

* The Private Life of the Cat Who…: Tales of Koko and Yum Yum – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Eye of the Moon – Anonymous

* The Cat Who Came to Breakfast (Cat Who… #16) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (Cat Who… #17) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Said Cheese (Cat Who… #18) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Tailed a Thief (Cat Who… #19) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (Cat Who… #20) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Saw Stars (Cat Who… #21) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Robbed a Bank (Cat Who… #22) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Smelled a Rat (Cat Who… #23) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Went up the Creek (Cat Who… #24) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Brought Down the House (Cat Who… #25) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who Talked Turkey (Cat Who… #26) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* Cinnamon Roll Murder (Hannah Swensen series #15) – Joanne Fluke

* The Cat Who Went Bananas (Cat Who… #27) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* Through the Woods: The Final Catdown – Troy Blackford

* The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell (Cat Who… #28) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Cat Who had 60 Whiskers (Cat Who… #29) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* Plugged – Eoin Colfer

* Praying for Sleep – Jeffery Deaver

* Delirium (Delirium #1) – Lauren Oliver

* Hana (Delirium #1.5) – Lauren Oliver

* Pandemonium (Delirium #2) – Lauren Oliver

* Matched (Matched #1) – Ally Condie

* Grimms’ Fairy Tales – Brothers Grimm

* Crossed (Matched #2) – Ally Condie

* Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) – Lauren DeStefano

* Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) – Lauren DeStefano

* Birthmarked (Birthmarked #1) – Caragh M. O’Brien

* Extras (Uglies #4) – Scott Westerfeld

* The Last Dickens – Matthew Pearl

* Treasure Island – Robert Louise Stevenson

* Tortured (Birthmarked #1.5) – Caragh M. O’Brien

* Prized (Birthmarked #2) – Caragh M. O’Brien

* The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells

* The Iron Thorn (Iron Codex #1) – Caitlin Kittredge

* The Nightmare Garden (Iron Codex #2) – Caitlin Kittredge

* Possession (Possession #1) – Elana Johnson

* The Wind Through the Keyhole (Dark Tower #4.5) – Stephen King

* Insurgent (Divergent #2) – Veronica Roth

* Hollowland (The Hollows #1) – Amanda Hocking

* Hollowmen (The Hollows #2) – Amanda Hocking

* The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1) – Aimée Carter

* The Goddess Hunt (Goddess Test #1.5) – Aimée Carter

* Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2) – Aimée Carter

* Asphodel (The Underworld Trilogy #1) – Lauren Hammond

* Prophecy of the Sisters (Prophecy of the Sisters #1) – Michelle Zink

* Guardian of the Gate (Prophecy of the Sisters #2) – Michelle Zink

* Circle of Fire (Prophecy of the Sisters #3) – Michelle Zink

* Switched (Trylle Trilogy #1) – Amanda Hocking

* Torn (Trylle Trilogy #2) – Amanda Hocking

* Ascend (Trylle Trilogy #3) – Amanda Hocking

* Entwined – Heather Dixon

* Aftertime (Aftertime #1) – Sophie Littlefield

* Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) – Cassandra Clare

* Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) – Cassandra Clare

* Revived – Cat Patrick

* The Selection (The Selection #1) – Kiera Cass

* Unearthly (Unearthly #1) – Cynthia Hand

* Hallowed (Unearthly #2) – Cynthia Hand

* The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

* Virtue – Amanda Hocking

* The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

* Awaken (Awaken #1) – Katie Kacvinsky

* Mercury Swings (Mercury series #0.5) – Robert Kroese

* Mercury Falls (Mercury series #1) – Robert Kroese

* Mercury Rises (Mercury series #2) – Robert Kroese

* Surrender (Possession #2) – Elana Johnson

* City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) – Cassandra Clare

* City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) – Cassandra Clare

* City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3) – Cassandra Clare

* The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) – Lois Lowry

* The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Forest of Hands & Teeth #1) – Carrie Ryan

* Fallen (Fallen #1) – Lauren Kate

* Torment (Fallen #2) – Lauren Kate

* Passion (Fallen #3) – Lauren Kate

* Fallen in Love (Fallen #3.5) – Lauren Kate

* Simon’s Cat (book #1) – Simon Tofield

* Simon’s Cat: Beyond the Fence (book #2) – Simon Tofield

* Simon’s Cat in Kitten Chaos (book #3) – Simon Tofield

* Rapture (Fallen #4) – Lauren Kate

* City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4) – Cassandra Clare

* The Dead-Tossed Waves (Forest of Hands & Teeth #2) – Carrie Ryan

* Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

* Bonded (Law of the Lycans #0.5) – Nicky Charles

* The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands & Teeth #3) – Carrie Ryan

* Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl #8) – Eoin Colfer

* Welcome to Moon Hill – Anthony J. Rapino

* The Siren – Kiera Cass

* Critical Incident – Troy Blackford

* Kill You Twice – Chelsea Cain

* Ascent (The Party series #1) – Amy Kinzer

* White Cat (The Curse Workers #1) – Holly Black

* Red Glove (The Curse Workers #2) – Holly Black

* Black Heart (The Curse Workers #3) – Holly Black

* The Heroes of Olympus: The Demigod Diaries – Rick Riordan

* UR – Stephen King

* The Kill Order (Maze Runner #0.5) – James Dashner

* Mercury Begins (Mercury series) – Robert Kroese

* Others – James Herbert

* Empty – Suzanne Weyn

* The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles #1) – Rick Riordan

* The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles #2) – Rick Riordan

* Forbidden – Syrie James

* The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1) – Kady Cross

* The Serpent’s Shadow (Kane Chronicles #3) – Rick Riordan

* The Strange Case of Finley Jayne (Steampunk Chronicles #0.5) – Kady Cross

* The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles #2) – Kady Cross

* Breathless – Jessica Warman

* The Body Finder (Body Finder series #1) – Kimberly Derting

* Princess of the Midnight Ball (Princess series #1) – Jessica Day George

* Desires of the Dead (Body Finder series #2) – Kimberly Derting

* The Last Echo (Body Finder series #3) – Kimberly Derting

* Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1) – Veronica Rossi

* Between – Jessica Warman

* Princess of Glass (Princess series #2) – Jessica Day George

* Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker – Syrie James

* First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1) – Darynda Jones

* Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson #2) – Darynda Jones

* Third Grave Dead Ahead (Charley Davidson #3) – Darynda Jones

* Song of Seduction (Seduction #1) – Carrie Lofty

* Nocturne – Syrie James

* The Frenzy – Francesca Lia Block

* The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling

* The Musician’s Daughter – Susanne Dunlap

* The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) – Rick Riordan

* Ruled (Birthmarked #2.5) – Caragh M. O’Brien

* Promised (Birthmarked #3) – Caragh M. O’Brien

* Poison Study (Study #1) – Maria V. Snyder

* Magic Study (Study #2) – Maria V. Snyder

* Fire Study (Study #3) – Maria V. Snyder

* Power Study (Study #3.5) – Maria V. Snyder

* Storm Glass (Glass #1) – Maria V. Snyder

* Sea Glass (Glass #2) – Maria V. Snyder

* Spy Glass (Glass #3) – Maria V. Snyder

* Dangerous Lover (Dangerous #1) – Lisa Marie Rice

* Dangerous Secrets (Dangerous #2) – Lisa Marie Rice

* Dangerous Passion (Dangerous #3) – Lisa Marie Rice

* Enclave (Razorland #1) – Ann Aguirre

* Endurance (Razorland #1.5) – Ann Aguirre

* Outpost (Razorland #2) – Ann Aguirre

* Portrait of Seduction (Seduction #2) – Carrie Lofty

* Reached (Matched #3) – Ally Condie

* Middle Ground (Awaken #2) – Katie Kacvinsky

* Betrayal (The Descendants #1) – Mayandree Michel

* Sacrifice (The Descendants #1) – Mayandree Michel

* The Bar Code Tattoo (Bar Code #1) – Suzanne Weyn

* The Bar Code Rebellion (Bar Code #2) – Suzanne Weyn

* The Bar Code Prophecy (Bar Code #3) – Suzanne Weyn

* The Night Dance: A Retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” – Suzanne Weyn

* Water Song: A Retelling of “The Frog Prince” – Suzanne Weyn

* Simon’s Cat vs The World (book #4) – Simon Tofield

* Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #1) – Bethany Griffin

* Golden: A Retelling of “Rapunzel” – Cameron Dokey





Book spine poetry: Attempt 1

20 06 2012

Something for all book lovers to enjoy and engage with:

I recently discovered the ‘art’ that is book spine poetry. It is described as an “emerging form of expression” that became popular during April, aka National Book Month (not sure if it’s limited to America or not… as if you need an excuse to read books… but at least it encourages both adults & children to delve into the wonderful world of books).

What I like about this is the fact that you don’t have to create something out of nothing. You can look at the titles of books that are available to you, and use them to make something new – the authors of said titles indirectly ‘inspiring’ and aiding you in a journey of self-expression.

I know, I know, how cheesy does that sound?

Since I am an avid reader who still loves physical books (i.e. hardcopies), I find book spine poetry as another way to engage with the beloved books on my pretty-full-already shelves. It makes creation tangible – literally holding and weighing what you are about to make in your own hands. (Yes, again, super cheesy.)

That said, I’ll bite the proverbial bullet and share my first attempt at one of these poems. I took the photo at the beginning of the month already – just shows you how lazy I’ve been with posting things on my blog. (Note: the poem is a bit long. Perhaps I should opt for something shorter next time. Blame it on my enthusiasm for working with books.)

It’s such a pity that most of the books I’ve read over the last two years have been e-books – it would have been nice to have them on my actual shelves for later use. At least they’d help diversify things and add more flavour against all my prescribed books from when I was at university.

It’s not the best photo ever, so I’ll type out the actual ‘poem’ underneath it for easy reading. Next time, I think I’ll try using only Stephen King titles. Now that will be fun!

Diary of a bad year

 

Bleak house

Catching fire

Just after sunset

 

The whole truth

and the chamber of secrets

Twisted echoes

Persuasion

 

The husband

The lover

Out the door

 

Disgrace

Misery

Our tragic universe

 

Things fall apart

Under the dome





I’m freeeeeeee

15 03 2012

Blog readers!

I’ve missed yooouuu!!!

This whole year has been crazy-busy for me. I’ve been working a lot of overtime, weekends ceased to exist for a period of what seemed like endless time, many a disappointment and frustration abounded, and yet I am still here – happy that it’s nearly over… if only for a while.

Image

To ‘celebrate’ the fact that the last three of the books I was working on were burnt on disc at 21:30 last Friday (talk about a long day at the office… and great hunger on my part, with no food or monies), I spent the weekend reading… Oh, and dealing with a HUGE headache that bordered on the verges of migraine land. Monday evening, my amazing friend Mr Awesplendmarkable – thus named because he’s awesome, splendid & remarkable – sent me his latest novel 🙂 To make it more exciting (I was already in great anticipation about it), he made Smudgy & myself joint-dedicatees, along with one of his other friends and her kitty companion. If that isn’t cool, then I don’t know what is!! [I was able to finish the book in a day, even with sleeping and going to work and all the little things that go with it.]

Last night I was baking up a storm because I was commissioned to do so. Since I’m the office ‘bakester’ (or should that be bake-STAR, amirite??), I was the obvious choice for providing goodies for one of our colleagues’ last day in office before she moves on to better, brighter things. I was never told what to bake, and ‘cake’ is open to interpretation… so I baked chocolate cake, cheesecake, cupcakes plus some carrot muffins and cookies. I left work angry – so much so that I started crying when I got into the car – so baking was therapeutic.

Probably because I was very seriously contemplating whether I could get away with inflicting irreversible, epicly-proportioned harm on certain individuals.

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But that’s all right. It’s over now. I’m free. Today is my last day in office, then I’ll be on leave until (and including) the 26th. The next almost-two-full-weeks is going to be great. Sleeping, reading… reading… more reading… I think you get what I’m driving at 🙂 And even if I get bored, I’d much rather be bored at home than bored or super-busy at work. [Repeat after me: “I need a vacation!”]

Now I just have to hope that the Department of Basic Education approves these books. Otherwise I don’t want this job anymore. To quote someone or other: “F*ck this shit!”





Scattered Brainings XV

26 01 2012

* What ever happened to common courtesy? Have we become so consumed in our own lives and problems that we cannot be bothered to even be the slightest bit friendly? We have an open plan office setup at work. At some or other point in the day, you are likely to cross paths with most of the people in your section, like when you go to pick stuff up or make copies at the printer. The least you can do is to give the other person a smile, or at least a nod of acknowledgement when they say ‘hullo’ to you (though saying ‘hullo’ back would be preferable). Many times, this does not happen. I’m not asking you to be the nicest person in the world, but if I say ‘hullo’ to you, would it really kill you to say ‘hullo’ back? I’m now at the point where I’ve given up trying and don’t greet certain people when I see them because I cannot elicit a response from them. Time to bake some murder muffins

* About a week ago, one of my colleagues asked me how I was doing despite – and I quote – “the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look” that can be seen on many a face when referring to the upcoming submissions. Being me, I immediate wondered how this would translate into fashion – what would the key colours, style and accessories be for that definitive deer-caught-in-the-headlights look? What will make you look confused, scared, and ‘cute’ all at the same time? (Confession: I think I may be losing it…)

* Saw this on Facebook and just had to share. As a Scooby-Doo fan, I approve:

* Last week, while dining out, my Significant Other asked me: ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ This is one of the most annoying/ scary/ shrug-inducing questions ever uttered by man. I had this sudden urge to answer, “About two and a half months away from turning 30”, but decided against it.

* Don’t you just hate it when something silly/ annoying gets stuck in your head for days on end? You have that song playing in your mind when you wake up; it sneaks in every hour or so while you’re busy working; and it might just make another appearance before you go to sleep. Oh, and don’t forget the accompanying imagery! I watched a certain YouTube video that has been ‘harassing’ my mind for perhaps over a week now. I have four words for you: “Every day I’m shuffling”

* I’m a bit worried (already) that I won’t reach the goal I set myself for my 2012 Reading Challenge on Goodreads. Last year I was able to read 145 books (yes I did!), with my initial goal being 100.  This year, I’ve decided to set the bar at 100 again, and then see how it goes. I was off to a bad start since it took me nearly two weeks to get through one book – not because I’m a slow reader, but simply because it failed to fully capture my attention. Luckily I’ve been able to pick up the pace and am ‘on track’, according to Goodreads… yet things are going to be super busy until mid-March here at work. I’ll just have to catch up…

* Paper cuts. (Enough said?) I am the self-proclaimed queen of paper cuts. It’s not that I get a paper cut every day or anything like that (although, yes, there are often days when they appear out of thin air and leave me exasperated as to their precise origin). It’s just how things turn out when I do get one. When I get a paper cut, it has to be exceptional. Take Tuesday, for example. Three paper cuts… on the same finger… at the Exact. Same. Time. (!!!)

* Yesterday morning on our way to work, I told my Significant Other that I’m not meant/ cut out for writing. (Haters gonna’ hate?) I just feel disconnected from my writing. Stephen King says that if you have any hope of becoming a successful writer, you should read a lot and write a lot. I’ve got the reading part down pat, yet I am lacking in the writing part. I have been consumed by the schools sector of the written word… I still enjoy reading other people’s manuscripts (not only at work, though it is part of my job – I’m talking about actual ‘real-world’ novel writers) and doing some editing/ providing feedback… but that makes me feel… I don’t know… like a hypocrite? They say those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach… or edit. Which has always bugged me. Because if you yourself cannot write, how can you teach someone else to do it and tell them what is right/ wrong (or grade them on it, *cough* one of my university lecturers *cough*)? In any case, I think I need a big nudge to get me started on my own writing again.

* Being home alone in the evening makes me want to bake and watch a Disney movie (usually THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG or TANGLED). Why is that? I ended up baking raisin-and-flaked-almond oats bars last night… and watching THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG… again…

Topped off with melted chocolate chips!!

* I say the word ‘um’ a lot… at work… while talking to my line manager. This annoys me. It reminds me of an English lecturer we had at university who would say “and, um…” before/ after Every. Single. Sentence. Not the best way to focus on PARADISE LOST, I can assure you.

* Since I have a pear-shaped figure, does that mean I should only eat pears? Or can eating a different fruit help change my shape? *Ponder* I’ve heard of people who are pear or apple shaped, but not a word about any other fruit. If you were banana shaped, would you be bent? Are small, plump/ round people grapes? And what about really large people – are they watermelons? I’m thinking about this too much!!





The books I read in 2011

1 01 2012

Happy New Year, my beloved blog readers!

I hope that you’ve all been having a superb day, and that 2012 will prove to be an amazing year for each and every one of you *hug*

Following the trend of the last two years, I shall again be sharing with you the books that I managed to read this year. Since I only read 57 books in 2009 and 57 books in 2010, I decided that I wanted to break out of this ‘pattern’ and set myself a goal on Goodreads: to read (*dramatic pause*) 100 books in 2011.

And did I make it? Well, ……

…I managed to bump it up to 145, so I think things didn’t turn out too badly 😉

I’m really quite pleased with myself, especially if you factor in that I got married in May (i.e. two-week honeymoon in Scotland with virtually no reading) and that I have spent most of the year working (as opposed to a chunk of 2010 when I was still job-hunting and, accordingly, sitting at home with a lot of free time on my hands).

If you’re not in the mood to scroll through the looong list below and peruse it now, you can always download the PDF version thereof: Books Read 2011

Oh, and if you want me to recommend any of the books on the list or highlight some of the ones I enjoyed the most, you only need to ask. Happy reading!!

BOOKS I’VE READ THIS YEAR:

* Kiss of Evil – Richard Montanari

* Twilight Hour – Carol Smith

* The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

* The Night Ferry – Michael Robotham

* The Uninhabited House – Mrs. J.H. Riddell

* The Haunted Bookshop – Christopher Morley

* The Mating – Nicky Charles

* The Colorado Kid – Stephen King

* 100 Quotes to make you think! – Wolfgang Riebe

* The Keeping – Nicky Charles

* The Princess and the Penis – R.J. Silver

* Soul Identity – Dennis Batchelder

* The Tenth Chamber – Glenn Cooper

* Soul Intent – Dennis Batchelder

* The Demon Girl (Rae Wilder #1) – Penelope Fletcher

* The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Series #1) – Suzanne Collins

* Catching Fire (Hunger Games Series #2) – Suzanne Collins

* Mockingjay (Hunger Games Series #3) – Suzanne Collins

* Freedom Incorporated – Peter Tylee

* Out the Door – Troy Blackford [got to read the manuscript J]

* Under the Wall – Troy Blackford

* Just After Sunset – Stephen King

* Gerald’s Game – Stephen King

* Cycle of the Werewolf – Stephen King

* The Plant – Stephen King

* The Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1) – Stephen King

* The Drawing of the Three (Dark Tower #2) – Stephen King

* Classical Mythology – Geddes & Grosset

* Bond with Me – Anne Marsh

* The Whole Truth – David Baldacci

* The Taking – Nicky Charles

* Our Tragic Universe – Scarlett Thomas

* Hide in Plain Sight (Three Sisters Inn #1) – Marta Perry

* The Variant Effect – G. Wells Taylor

* Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander – J.K. Rowling

* Black Silk – Jan Gordon

* The Defector – Mark Chisnell

* Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King – Lisa Rogak

* Alinora – Kara Lockley

* Night Shift – Stephen King

* Kiss Me Deadly – Michele Hauf

* The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians #1) – Rick Riordan

* The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson & the Olympians #2) – Rick Riordan

* The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson & the Olympians #3) – Rick Riordan

* The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson & the Olympians #4) – Rick Riordan

* Skipping Christmas – John Grisham

* The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians #5) – Rick Riordan

* The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) – Rick Riordan

* The Healer’s Apprentice – Melanie Dickerson

* The Glades – Clifton Campbell

* To be Loved – Ian Woodhead

* Twisted Imaginings Vol. 1 – Garry Charles

* Twisted Imaginings Vol. 2 – Garry Charles

* Twisted Imaginings Vol. 3 – Garry Charles

* Twisted Imaginings Vol. 4 – Garry Charles

* Of Mice and Murderers – John Stockmyer

* Darkness Under the Sun– Dean Koontz

* A Christmas to Die For – Marta Perry

* Buried Sins – Marta Perry

* Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen series #1) – Joanne Fluke

* Strawberry Shortcake Murder (Hannah Swensen series #2) – Joanne Fluke

* Bleachers – John Grisham

* Blueberry Muffin Murder (Hannah Swensen series #3) – Joanne Fluke

* Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen series #4) – Joanne Fluke

* Fudge Cupcake Murder (Hannah Swensen series #5) – Joanne Fluke

* Formland – Troy Blackford [got to read the manuscript J]

* The Night Season – Chelsea Cain

* Sugar Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen series #6) – Joanne Fluke

* Peach Cobbler Murder (Hannah Swensen series #7) – Joanne Fluke

* City of Masks – Mike Reeves-McMillan

* Cherry Cheesecake Murder (Hannah Swensen series #8) – Joanne Fluke

* Key Lime Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen series #9) – Joanne Fluke

* Candy Cane Murder – Joanne Fluke

* Carrot Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen series #10) – Joanne Fluke

* Cream Puff Murder (Hannah Swensen series #11) – Joanne Fluke

* Plum Pudding Murder (Hannah Swensen series #12) – Joanne Fluke

* Apple Turnover Murder (Hannah Swensen series #13) – Joanne Fluke

* Gingerbread Cookie Murder – Joanne Fluke

* Devil’s Food Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen series #14) – Joanne Fluke

* The Night Before – Lisa Jackson

* The Morning After – Lisa Jackson

* The Rosary Girls – Richard Montanari

* Case Histories – Kate Atkinson

* The Wasp Factory – Iain M. Banks

* The Skin Gods – Richard Montanari

* Feline Philosophy: Life Lessons from your Cat – Mike Hatt

* Merciless (UK title Broken Angels) – Richard Montanari

* The Secret History – Donna Tartt

* Badlands (UK title Play Dead) – Richard Montanari

* The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

* The Echo Man – Richard Montanari

* The Perfect Husband – Lisa Gardner

* The Third Victim – Lisa Gardner

* The Next Accident – Lisa Gardner

* A Match for Melissa – Kathryn Kirkwood

* A Season for Samantha – Kathryn Kirkwood

* The Baker Street Letters – Michael Robertson

* 7 Simple Steps to Unclutter Your Life – Donna Smallin

* Mile 81 – Stephen King

* The Brothers of Baker Street – Michael Robertson

* The Killing Hour – Lisa Gardner

* Say Goodbye – Lisa Gardner

* Gone – Lisa Gardner

* Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

* Scotland: A very peculiar history, Volume 1 – Fiona Macdonald

* The cat who could read backwards (Cat Who… #1) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking trilogy, #1) – Patrick Ness

* The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking trilogy, #2) – Patrick Ness

* Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking trilogy, #3) – Patrick Ness

* The cat who ate Danish Modern (Cat Who… #2) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) – James Dashner

* The cat who turned on and off (Cat Who… #3) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The cat who saw red (Cat Who… #4) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) – James Dashner

* The cat who played Brahms (Cat Who… #5) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The cat who played post office (Cat Who… #6) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The cat who knew Shakespeare (Cat Who… #7) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) – Rick Riordan

* Uglies (Uglies #1) – Scott Westerfeld

* The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3) – James Dashner

* Pretties (Uglies #2) – Scott Westerfeld

* Joanne Fluke’s Lake Eden Cookbook: Hannah Swensen’s recipes from The Cookie Jar – Joanne Fluke

* Specials (Uglies #3) – Scott Westerfeld

* Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) – Jim Butcher

* The Demigod Files: A Percy Jackson & the Olympians Guide – Rick Riordan

* The cat who sniffed glue (Cat Who… #8) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* 20th Century Ghosts – Joe Hill

* The cat who went underground (Cat Who… #9) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

* The cat who talked to ghosts (Cat Who… #10) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* An Awesome Book! – Dallas Clayton

* An Awesome Book of Thanks! – Dallas Clayton

* The cat who lived high (Cat Who… #11) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The cat who knew a cardinal (Cat Who… #12) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* 11.22.63 – Stephen King

* The cat who moved a mountain (Cat Who… #13) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The cat who wasn’t there (Cat Who… #14) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The cat who went into the closet (Cat Who… #15) – Lilian Jackson Braun

* The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz

* Divergent (Divergent, #1) – Veronica Roth

* Demon Day (Rae Wilder #2) – Penelope Fletcher

* Legend (Legend #1) – Marie Lu

* The Merchant’s Daughter – Melanie Dickerson

* Little Critter’s the Night Before Christmas – Mercer Mayer

* Fool Moon (The Dresden Files #2) – Jim Butcher





Readers unite!

20 10 2011

I am so incredibly excited.

Why, you ask?

Because we’ve started a book club on Facebook!!

Okay, I suppose you need me to back it up just a little bit. Here’s the backstory:

At the beginning of the year (January/ February), I read the HUNGER GAMES trilogy – which I loved, of course. As the year progressed, I went on to read a lot of other books – and I mean a lot – but kept wondering how the film adaptation of the first book would turn out. I wasn’t all too happy to see who they cast for some of the parts, since they didn’t fit the descriptions in the book (don’t you just hate it when they choose someone who doesn’t even have the right hair colour?), but when I saw some pictures from the work-in-progress on IMDB, I started to think that perhaps they could pull it off. It’s amazing what a dye job, haircut and make-up can do…

Anyway, back to my story. I shared a link to the IMDB page with photos on my Facebook, and then a friend that went to university with me started chatting to me about the series and books in general. From that point on (probably at the start of September) we’ve been sharing and recommending books we enjoyed. She told me about the CHAOS WALKING trilogy, which I enjoyed just as much as the HUNGER GAMES (didn’t really like the ending, though), so I told her about the MAZE RUNNER trilogy – the final book came out a few days ago, making my timing for reading them perfect 🙂

You’ll note that all the aforementioned trilogies are dystopian novels (see my blog entry about it here), yet do not despair: we’ve shared other recommendations, as well. If you’re into light reads that include mystery and baking, you can try the Hannah Swensen Mysteries series by Joanne Fluke. If you still want a bit of mystery/ a ‘detective story’ and bring in the newspaper industry – and cats, don’t forget cats! – you can turn your attention to The Cat Who… series. My friend, Ms. Booklover, has introduced me to the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – a cross between detective stories and wizards. To quote Wikipedia (and yes, I am going to do it, even though it isn’t always a reliable source), the series is pretty much “Dirty Harry Potter”… get it? Dirty Harry + Harry Potter (a hard-core detective and plenty of wizardry)? Ah, forget it.

Okay, one  more recommendation, then I’ll shut my trap. If any of you liked THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, I’d give THE WASP FACTORY by Iain M. Banks a read. It’s odd, interesting, destructive… Not everyone’s cup of tea. I won’t take offense if you read a few pages and then discard it. As long as you’re reading and engaging with the wonderful world of words, it makes me extremely happy. I’ve always have a great fondness for books, which is why I am glad to be sharing the experience with others… and to be able to do that. Not a lot of people have or make time for reading; others simply say that they don’t like to read *tsk-tsk* Where would we be without literacy? Without imagination, some form of escape?

If you love to read, feel free to post books you enjoyed in the comments section (which should be at the bottom of this blog entry). You can also share books you have started – perhaps a few times – and just cannot seem to finish/ get ‘into’. I’m always looking for new books to read…

Yip, pretty excited about sharing book recommendations with friends. Pretty darn much.

Readers unite!!! 😀

[PS: Do I even have to say that I recommend each and every work by the literary master writer Stephen King? No, I didn’t think so.]





Dystopian delight

26 09 2011

 

Warning: this will most likely end up being a lengthy blog entry.

I have come to the realization that I take infinite joy in reading dystopian novel(la)s.

[Or should that be ‘novel(la)s that explore a dystopian society/ state/ world’?]

NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR by George Orwell; THE LONG WALK and THE RUNNING MAN by Richard Bachman (actually Stephen King); the HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins; the CHAOS WALKING trilogy by Patrick Ness; THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner… the list goes on and on.

‘Joy’ in the opening sentence of this blog entry – quick, go read it again, since I’ve probably distracted you with the list of book titles! – seems to be an ironic word to choose, since people who live in said societies rarely know joy, living in the awful future times and circumstances as they do…

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, what is this Dystopia I speak of, you ask?

You probably all know the word ‘Utopia’, which refers to an ideal world or kind of paradise. Greek: eu (good) + topos (place). Compare this to the Greek dys, meaning “bad”/ “ill”, and you’ll see that Dystopia is the complete opposite of Utopia. In fact, I’ve read that it is regarded as “the evil twin” of Utopia.

In a dystopian setting, you usually deal with a society that lives within a social control system – a system under which they are oppressed, controlled, and living in fear of saying a word of protest against the corrupt ruling government. There is great suffering, pessimism and uniformity – the people of those times being manipulated to serve the purposes of those in power, often becoming indistinct through strict presiding regulations. Bubbling far below the surface, there is talk of a revolt, or rising up against the oppressors and building a new society.

Brutality is implemented for amusement; survival a daily hope. Friends are pitted against each other, sometimes having to take sides to ‘ensure’ their continued existing – more of the disturbing sort of amusement that those in power revel in. What could be better than spinning fine threads of false hope, then tangling everyone up in the web of deceit and resulting difficult choices?

Take THE HUNGER GAMES, for example: where the Capitol selects two young people (one male, one female) in each District to compete in what can be seen as ‘the most dangerous game’ – an arena where your survival depends on being the last person not killed. How do you kill other innocent people? How do you kill someone from your own district?? How do you keep from being killed, yourself, having to depend on your own skills to procure food, water, weapons? And all this while the entire world watches your every move, sees every killing, every hardship… and are glad that it isn’t them in there.

Because that’s how the government works: keeping you in captivating horror, making you believe that this is how the world should be and that you are powerless to stop them. The social norms set in these times might be disturbing and cruel, yet the people have been brainwashed to believe that it should be so.

Of course, propaganda also comes into play, making people believe that the government/ state is just, that things are how they should be, that they are being taken care of and that all rules must be obeyed without question…

Queue the hero/ heroin of the story to take a stand, to not give in, to survive and rise up and renew hope for a better world and sometimes even unwillingly rally others to join in the fight.

All of that said, why would anyone enjoy reading these types of books?

Is it because we want to see good triumph over evil? Do we take pleasure in seeing those misusing power get their comeuppance? Are we glad that at least we do not live in such extremely oppressive times? Or is it because we can feel a spark of ‘recognition’ in what is being written – that we can, to a certain degree, relate to what is said?

These novels are set in the future for a reason: they look at social trends we are currently living in, then take them to the extreme, thus serving as a sort of warning by showing us the ‘what would happen if’ situations (i.e. the horrifying consequences and ramifications that today’s world and technologies could have on the future – always with the worst case scenario depictions…)

These books want us to be voyeuristic, to see what could happen to society by injecting bits of the familiar and building it up to uncomfortable proportions. You know how they say familiarity breeds contempt? That’s pretty much what’s happening here.

I could probably make this blog entry run on forever if I start talking about how wonderful I think the HUNGER GAMES trilogy is, how scary it would be to take part THE LONG WALK (mental breakdown practically assured), how I wish things could have turned out differently at the end of the CHAOS WALKING trilogy… but that can wait for another day. I think I’ve loaded your minds with enough noise… errr, ‘information’ to make you not want to think about society and our own corrupt governments (fat chance of that) for quite some time.

But I hope I’ve also interested you in these types of novel(la)s. If I can get more people reading, it will be reward enough for me 🙂

Oh, and did I mention how these types of novels often have an ending where issues are unresolved or you don’t feel satisfied with how things turned out/ are left unexplained/ just don’t ‘feel’ right to you?

Yeah, that’s always lots of fun.