Category Archives: Books

A Slow-ish Week

I’ve been reading Nathan Makaryk’s Nottingham for over a week now and I’m about a third in. It’s a longer book, almost 500 pages, but for me this is slow going. That doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it, I am. It’s a combination of a slow read and being in the mood for doing other things. I’ve started playing Animal Crossing: Wild World again, in anticipation of the release of the new version and I’ve been doing a lot of diamond painting.

I did read almost every day in the past week, except for Saterday, but then I usually don’t read much on that day. It’s the busiest day of the week in the store and I’m usually tired and not in the mood for watching or reading things that aren’t easy to process. And Nottingham is a book that I want to give my full attention to.

Today I hope to reach the half way point of the book, I might take a break and read something quick and easy, or I might not. It really depends on what’s happening in the book.

Earlier this week there was an update for my Kobo ereader. It’s now a bit quicker and they’ve added a series tab in the library screen. When adding books with Calibre it also adds metadata when it’s part of a series. You could already see this listed underneath the title of the book in the library. Now it automatically adds it to the series tab and makes categories for each series. I’m normally in the habit of putting only the next book of a series on my reader. Mostly because I didn’t want to bother making collections for all my series, I did in the past, but it ended up cluttering my collections tab. I might now add all unread books of my active series and add the next to read of each series to the Series collection to keep track of which books I need read. I’m weird and I like to read a book of each active series before starting on the next round. I’ve found that that way I don’t burn out on some series and forget to read others.

In February I did quite well with reading. I’ve read only 350 pages less than during an average February. So that’s not bad. In February I’ve been mostly reading series, this month I want to shift focus a bit and read more stand alone books and first in series.

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Lake Silence is the sixth book in Anne Bishop’s The Others series. However, unlike the previous five book this one isn’t about Meg, Simon and the other characters in Lakeside. It seems that their story is over (for now?) and a new setting and cast of characters is introduced. I didn’t know this before starting this book, at first I was a bit surprised and uncertain if I wanted to continue the book but in the end I really loved this new story line.

This new sub-series is set in Sproing, shortly after the Big Event described in previous books. The relation between the humans and the Others is strained, the Others having made sure that the humans realize that they are not the dominant species and that the Others have to be listened to. Where Lakeside was a big city and many humans living there had very little contact with the Others, it’s a different situation in Lake Silence. Which is on the edge of human civilization and only reachable through Others’ land.

The main character of the story is Vicki DeVine. She has recently divorced her husband, he found a more attractive and younger woman, Yorick Dane. As a settlement in the divorce Vicki got a vacation place on the edge of Lake Silence, The Jumble, that was once owned by Yorick’s aunt and nobody in his family had any use for it. It was run down, by the time the book start Vicki has started renovating the place with the money she also got in the divorce settlement. It turns out that Yorick’s aunt had and agreement with the Others, who owns the land of the Jumble, that it would not only serve as a vacation place for humans, but that it also is a place where Others who are interested in having contact with humans can get to know how to do so. One of those joining Vicki is Aggie Crowgard.

Aggie finds a dead body on the edge of The Jumble and the detectives on the case try to pin the murder on Vicki. She gets help from her lawyer, Ilya Sanguinati (a vampire). The temporary chief of police of Sproing Wayne Grimshaw and his former colleague, turned bookshop owner Julian Farrow also find it hard to believe that Vicki is responsible for the murder and try to figure out what is really going on.

Despite the new characters and setting I really liked this start of the new sub-series. Where the Lakeside books felt aimed more at young adults this book had a more adult feel. This is mainly due to the fact that Meg was very childlike, having to learn to live in both the human and Others’ world. Lake Silence also had more adult themes, mainly dealing with spousal abuse.

I liked how Vicki just takes the deal the aunt made with the Others in her stride. She doesn’t treat the Others staying at The Jumble and in Sproing any different than humans; with respect. As a result she earns their respect. Different Others are introduced in this book, there are the Pathergard and the Beargard and the Elementals have a more prominent role. Also, Sproingers are introduced. Which are a species only find in Sproing and comical, sometimes mischievous and protective of those humans they like.

As I said, I really enjoyed this book. It was hard to put down and quick to read. Vicki is a good main character, she and the other important characters have enough potential for good character development in subsequent books. The only drawback I can think of is that I now have to wait for the next book.

Reading Challenge Update

I haven’t been good at giving updates on my Reading Challenge this year. So one of the goals will be to be better at it. Also, I haven’t written a review yet, I had planned on writing reviews regularly. So another thing I need to start doing.

My other goals are doing better, slightly. For the 100 books challenge I doing okay, I’m either one book behind, on target, or one book ahead. In previous years I would have been several books ahead of schedule. It’s mostly due to me discovering a podcast I really liked (My Favorite Murder) and wanting to listen to all the episodes before the live show they’re doing in Amsterdam next week. I liked to listen at night, which is when I would normally read. I’m now caught up, so I’m back to reading before going to sleep. Also, in early April I got acute bronchitis and I didn’t read much for almost two weeks, that didn’t help.

To get back into reading and get caught up with the 100 books challenge I read shorter books the last couple of weeks. In the first three months of the year I was about on target with average page count. But last month I fell behind, due to the two week hiatus and shorter books. In previous years I went away for a couple of days to a week in May and got a lot of reading done. Although I am going away for a couple of days at the end of the month I don’t think I’ll be able to get extra reading time. We’re going to a theme park for three days and two nights, so the days are spend in the park (I might get some reading done waiting in line) and at night I expect to be too tired to be able to focus on reading.

I am doing well with my active series and I’m well on the way to finish the goals I’ve set myself. I’m mostly using my randomizer app to choose my next read.

To make matters slightly more difficult I’ve added an extra challenge, retroactively from the start of the year. It’s the ABC challenge, for each letter of the alphabet I need to read a book that starts with that letter. I’ll give myself a pass for the letter X, it’s hard to find anything I’m interested in starting with and X (unless I’m willing to read erotica, there are a bunch of them with titles starting with names as Xavier and Xander). For the X I have to read a book where any word starts with an X. I’ve only ten letters left to finish, for all I’ve got titles penciled in of books I was planning to (re)read anyway or books I’ve got on my To Be Read list that I can read. I think I might do this challenge again next year.

In short, I’m doing okay. I hope to be able to catch up on the pages read, but if not it’s not a big deal. I will need to put some effort into writing reviews. For that I need to remember to take notes when reading a book. I haven’t done that since university, and I find it hard to get into the habit again.

Review: Jeremy Logan series

Author: Lincoln Child

Books in series:
1. Deep Storm (2007)
2. Terminal Freeze (2008)
3. The Third Gate (2012)
4. The Forgotten Room (2015)
5. Full Wolf Moon (2017)

Lincoln Child is probably best know for his collaborations with Douglas Preston on both the Agent Pendergast series and the Gideon Crew series. The Jeremy Logan series is in the same vein as the other two series, though a little bit different. The Agent Pendergast series is a crime thriller with paranormal/supernatural elements. The Gideon Crew series is an action adventure thriller series with, again, paranormal and supernatural elements. The Jeremy Logan series is a mystery thriller with more paranormal and supernatural elements than the other two series. Although the story concludes with a race to solve the mystery and/or capture the bad guy is doesn’t feature as much action as the other two series.

Dr. Jeremy Logan is a history professor, but he is better known as an “enigmalogist”. He looks into cases that seemingly don’t have a normal solution but a paranormal or supernatural one. It is his job to prove or disprove the truth of these phenomena. He has gained some notoriety by working on some sensational cases such as proving, or disproving, the existence of the Loch Ness monster. He often signs a confidentiality agreement, so there are cases he can’t talk about. New clients are often hesitant to hire Logan because of those sensational cases.

Logan is a widower, his wife Karen died of cancer several years before the start of the series. Although he shows an interest in some of the female characters he meets during his adventures, nothing comes of it. Logan has some powers himself. He is an empath and a “sensitive”, which means that by touching people he can “read” them, not their thoughts but their feelings. He can get a sense of who a person is and often how he or she became that way. In rare cases he can read a location, especially if something bad has happened there.

I first came upon this series by reading the third book, The Third Gate, not knowing it was part of a series. When I found out is was part of a series I went back to the first book and started reading the series in order.

In the first book, Deep Storm, Logan only has a very minor part to play. Just like with the Pendergast series. The stories are set around the world in locations varying from Egyptian swamps to deep below the sea, but also more mundane settings as a research facility or a artist’s retreat in the Adirondacks.

Each story starts with Logan being asked to look into a strange happenings, often happening during a project, there is seemingly no normal explanation for these things to happen. Logan approaches the mystery with a open mind, but he will always try to go the scientific route first. Usually there is an explanation for the things going on that although they are not normal they are natural. Some mysteries have a more unusual explanation or are purely supernatural. Logan regularly reminds himself to keep an open mind or suspend his disbelieve. And by doing so he forces the reader to do the same.

The books are, for me, quick and easy reads and very entertaining. Although I like both the Agent Pendergast and Gideon Crew series I think I like this series better. Because it doesn’t depend on action and adventure to drive the story but it depend of the characters and their actions. Dr. Jeremy Logan is mild mannered and easy going and is a very likeable character.

Half way there

With half the year over it’s time to take stock of how I’m doing with my reading challenge that-isn’t-a-challenge this year.

So far, I’ve finished 59 books, of which I didn’t finish 1 (I did count the 112 I managed to read towards my total, hence I counted it as a book read). The total number of pages is 22052, with an average of 374 pages per book. I’ve read sixteen books by authors that were new to me and I’ve reread four books. I’ve read about 2000 pages more than I would on average in the first six months of the year. Mind you, that doesn’t mean anything, last year I read even more in the first half of the year and due to a reading slump later on I only managed to read just a little bit over my average for the year.

Overall, I’m happy with what I’ve read so far this year. I’ve decided that this summer I will focus on my series. To help me choose which one to read I’ve downloaded a randomizer app, added the list of my active series and let the app choose what I read next. I can let the app choose again if it picks a series I’ve just read.

I’ve also been able to keep my Kindle neat and tidy. I have a folder for the next-in-series book of my active series, when I finish a book I add the next one. It also contains new releases of series I was up to date with. I also have a folder which contains the first books of series I’m interested in. I haven’t done much with this folder, but at least I haven’t added to it in a while. The stand alone books I haven’t in a folder and these seem to get away from me easily, by me adding more and more books, but not reading them and ending up deleting them after a while. I’ve been doing well with my stand alone books, I try to keep them down to one page, at the moment there is the danger of it getting too long. Which means I will have to read some stand alone books soon.

For the summer I have planned another couple of rereads, including Stephen King’s It. There are a couple of active series I only need to read two or three books to get up to date, hopefully I can manage that this summer and get my possible series list down.

Seasonal Reads

To me Stephen King’s It is a summer read. One summer I got the English paperback as an end of school year present. I had already read the Dutch translation but I also wanted to read the original version. It took me two weeks to read, which isn’t bad since it wasn’t in my first language. For years I reread It every summer (also occasionally at other times of the year). After years of not having read It I reread it last summer, and still loved it.

Summer has arrived again and I found myself thinking of rereading It again, or something similar. After some researching I settled on Dan Simmons’ Season of Horror trilogy and having read almost 100 pages of the first book it seems the right choice. Though I still might end up rereading It.

Recently I watched the 2011 version of Jane Eyre, with Michael Fassbender. Afterwards I thought it might be a good idea to reread the book. However, I dismissed it almost immediately, because, to me, it’s an autumn or winter read. I first read this book in autumn or winter for university (actually I listened to the abridged audiobook whilst working on other assignments for uni).

I hadn’t realized that I had any other seasonal reads besides It. I thought of other books I reread and it seems that some books are seasonal in my mind, like The Secret Garden (again an autumn read) and The Shining (a winter read). But some books, like The Stand and The Lord of the Rings have no seasonal link to me.

Looking at it now it seems that those books that I link to a specific season is because of the either the time of year the story is set in (It and The Shining) or because of the atmosphere (both Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden have a gloomy atmosphere and feel).

It also made me think of other weird links I have with reading. I don’t have seasonal genres. In my mind summer is the time of both quick and easy read but also of long books (800+ pages), though I also tend to read a long book at the end of the year. Another strange link I have is with vacations. One of my favourite genres is horror, but when I go on vacation, no matter how short, I have to read at least one horror book.

March Update Reading Challenge

Just over two months in and I’m ahead of schedule. I’m now reading my 23rd book, of the 100 books that are my unofficial target. I’m a little bit ahead schedule with page count, too, compared to the previous years (except for 2013, which was my best year so far). Which means I’m doing well.

My ongoing series list was long at the start of the year. I did manage to finish a couple of them, mostly those where I had to read the latest release which had been published in the last couple of months. Last month I noticed there were four series that I had almost finished, three had only one book left to read and one series had two books left. So I devised a mini challenge to get these four series out of the way. I made a reading list, allowing for a free choice read after finishing two books from the reading list. At the moment I’m working on the last book of the list. After finishing it I only have four active series on my list, five if you count the Commonwealth Saga.

After finishing the challenge I’ve decided to focus on reading more stand alone books. I’ve got a lot of those on my Kindle at the moment and because I’ve been focussing on series so far this year that list is growing. I also want to tackle my “interesting series” list. Which is over 20 books long, consisting of first books of series that I might possibly like. My aim is to have an active series list that has about 7 series on it and I want to make it more diverse than it has been, where most series were either crime or mystery series (often combined with other genres). I know from experience that I won’t be continuing with those series on the list after the first book, in recent years I’ve become more more selective about what I want to read.

Reading Challenge 2016: update

Just over five months into the year and I’m overdue on an update about my reading challenge progress for this year.

When looking at the statistics I’m going well. I’ve currently finished 57 books, so I’m well passed the half way point of the 100 book challenge I set myself on Goodreads. I’m also almost at the half way point of my challenge of reaching 40000 pages, just 400 pages to go.

My theme challenge is also going well, I’ve finished 6 themes so far. This means I’m one theme ahead of schedule. I’ve added two more themes: wishlist (where I have to read 4 books from either my Amazon or Goodread wishlist that I added before June 1) and Calibre (which I can only read books I already own for a full month).

So far this year I’ve haven’t given up on any books, there were a couple of close calls but I was intrigued enough to finish them. My favourite series, so far, this year is Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q. The first two books were slow read, but the third and fourth I read quickly. I’m doing okay with finishing series, but that’s mostly due to reading the latest releases of series I was up to date with. This month I’m hoping to finish the Odd Thomas series, just one short story and one full length novel to go.

This summer I also want to reread Stephen King’s It, it’s been a long time since my last reread. It will fit in both with the Calibre and Old Time Favourites theme, so I’ll be able to finish two themes in one month again, probably in July.

Next week I’m on vacation, I’ve booked a cottage and I’m calling it my reading retreat. So hopefully I can get even more ahead than I am now. In July and August I’m also dog sitting for several weeks, and from experience I know that I read more than I normally would during those weeks.

Reading Challenge 2016 – Goals

The start of a new year also means the start of a new reading challenge. The last couple of years I didn’t do any real challenges beyond the 100 books challenge and read 4 long books. This year I wanted to have a real challenge, but not one that would put me off. I’ve learned that I don’t do well with prescribed reading; I tried the challenge where you have to read a book published in each year since you were born and I found that too constricting and gave up.

Last summer I set myself the challenge of reading 4 horror books in one month. That would leave me with enough other books to read to mix it up a bit. This year I will do something similar; I’ve made a list of 20 themes (if I think of more I will allow myself to add those), each month I will choose one theme and I will have to read at least 4 books in relation to that theme. Books of over 800 pages will count as two books for this challenge and books of over 1200 pages will count as three books, that way I won’t shun longer books.

In addition I will have the usual goals of trying to keep the number of series to a reasonable amount. For the Goodreads reading challenge I opted to read 100 books this year, but for my own challenge I want to read at least 40000 pages.

Although not really a challenge but more something I want to pay attention to at the beginning of the year is my active series. There are several I didn’t read a lot of book of in 2015, so I want to pick up pace on those.

And last, but not least, I want to have fun. Books I don’t like I won’t finish and series that start to go downhill (for me) I won’t continue.

Reading Challenge 2015 – progress

Already the first three months of 2015 are gone, which means it’s time to see how my reading challenge is going.

So far I’ve read 27 books, 9674 page and have given up on 1 book. Compared to 2013 and 2014 I’m behind (in pages read) and just a little ahead of 2012. However, last year I went on a lazy vacation in March where I got a lot more reading done than I normally would. I did read works by 8 authors new to me, I’ve started 6 new series (2 of which I’m probably not going to continue with) and finished 5 series.

So far this year I’m enjoying both crime novels and fantasy/paranormal novels. Lately I’m reading a lot of horror books.

I am behind on my 700+ page books challenge. I want to at least 4 of those this year, but I seem to be drawn to shorter books so far this year. I have started the second book in the Outlander series (almost 1000 pages long) and I usually read one or two long books in summer when I’m house sitting, so I should be able to finish this challenge.

Also, at the end of this month I’m going to Antwerp for a couple of days. I should be able to read more than I normally would both on bus trip to and from Antwerp and at the hotel.

One of my favourite books so far this year is Sycamore Row by John Grisham, which is the sequel to A Time to Kill. I also like the Lincoln Rhyme series, the first book of this series, The Bone Collector, has been made into a film (the book is better).

I abandoned Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting after I realized that I didn’t care if the little boy in danger lived or died. I also felt the story, after reading over half of it, didn’t go anywhere.

That said, I generally liked the books I’ve read so far. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep picking the right books.