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First DNF

For the first time in over a year I didn’t finish a book. I was really interested in Lucinda Riley’s The Seven Sisters, and I liked the first part of the novel, but then it went downhill for me. In the second part the romance started, I can see how someone who loves the romance genre would love this. But the long, draw out build up was just too slow for me. Almost half way through the book I decided to take a break, read something else. But then I realized that it’s unlikely I’ll ever return to it, so I DNF’ed it, I did count the number of pages I read towards my pages read total for this year.

Right now I’m reading the second book in Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series, The Severed Streets. The series currently has three books released and I went on a search if more were ever going to released. On Cornell’s blog he explained that the series was supposed to be five books, but that the publisher dropped the series after releasing three books. He’s uncertain if the other two will ever be released. His Witches of Lychford series, which is apparently popular is taking priority right now. I did read the first book of that series back in 2015, not long after it was released and gave it 4 stars, so I liked it. Reading the description it doesn’t ring a bell. I will have to reread that book before continuing with the series (after I finished The Shadow Police). The books in The Witches of Lychford series are relatively short, so it’ll be a nice change to read those between longer reads.

Today is a great day for reading. Like last Sunday there’s a storm (though not as heavy as last week). It’s grey, rainy and windy and not the least bit inviting to go outside. I’ve done all my Sunday chores so I’m going to curl up and see how far I can get with The Severed Streets.

Silver Lining

I had an okay reading week. I did procrastinate on finishing The Dark Man by Desmond Doane. I probably could have finished it on Tuesday. But I didn’t know what to read next, only that I wanted to tackle one of the longer books on my Kobo. Eventually I decided on Lucinda Riley’s The Seven Sisters. The latest book in the series was recently released, with a lot of publicity, even in the Netherlands, and I wanted to see what the fuss is about.

I’m already almost a third into the book. And I’m enjoying it, though I’m not sure if I enjoy it enough to put it on my Active Series list. To be honest I got this far because what I thought was a cold, but realized is probably the worst hay fever I’ve ever experienced, has returned. It causes me to cough a lot. Especially at night, making sleeping very difficult. So far non of the hay fever pills that used to work has worked this time. No cough syrup or lozenge works either. I did find that my coughing fits quiet down quickest when I’m reading. So I’ve spend a lot of hours at night reading, hoping the coughing will stop and I can get a bit of sleep. Tomorrow I’m making an appointment with my doctor, to hopefully confirm what is the problem and get something for it.

In other reading related news I had the fun plan to have movie week. Each night I wanted to watch a movie based on a book I’ve read but haven’t seen before. I went through several “Best movies based on books” lists. And the only book I’ve read but haven’t seen the movie yet is The Joy Luck Club. There are several Stephen King films I haven’t seen before, but I know I need to be in the mood to enjoy those. So now I have to think of something else. I can watch the Studio Ghibli movies that Netflix released last week. Or maybe watch those classic movies I have had on my to watch list for an eternity. With the Oscars being tonight I might also watch Best Film winners I haven’t seen before.

My plans for today are to spend a lot of time reading. A storm is coming later in the day, it’s already very windy, with lots of rain. So ideal weather to curl up with a good book, a snack and a big mug of hot chocolate milk.

Comfort Zone

It’s the first time in quite a while I stepped out of my reading comfort zone. I usually read horror, mystery, crime, ghost stories or thrillers, sometimes mixed with some (urban) fantasy, history, or a teeny tiny bit of romance.

I do not read romance books. I just don’t enjoy those. But I just started Lucinda Riley’s The Seven Sisters series, the first book being The Seven Sisters. This tells the story of Maia. She and her five (six?) sisters were adopted by Pa Salt and grew up in a mansion situated on an island in a lake in Switzerland. None of the girls seem ever to have been interested enough to found out about their birth family. That is until Pa Salt suddenly dies and he leaves each of them with an envelop with a clue about their heritage. Each book is about one of the sisters following the clue to their birth family.

The historical part is that besides telling the story of one of the sisters it also tells the story of one of their ancestors. I haven’t gotten that far in the book, I’m only twelve percent in and all the sisters have been just introduced and have gotten their envelop. I expect from now on the story will focus on Maia and her ancestor.

Reading the reviews on GoodReads it seems you either love or hate the book, so I’ll have to see what I think of it. I just hope the romantic parts aren’t too predictable/sappy/over the top.

It’s the first book of several longer books I plan to read in the near future. I’ve been delaying reading them and it’s time to get them read. There were years when I read a bunch of 800+ page books a year and considered 700+ pages a long book. At the moment I think a long book is 450 pages or longer. Probably all due to my reading slump, which I can get rid of as soon as possible.

Do I want to read more books out of my comfort zone this year? I’m not sure, it sounds nice but reality can be different.

January Reading

The first month of 2020 has come and gone, I’ve been on my annual Reading Retreat and I’ve had (am still having, actually) a bad cold and respiratory infection. But how did I do? Since August I’m having a reading slump, September was okay, but I did go on a Reading Retreat. And even taking that vacation week into account I did read less than average that month.

The past month has been so-so. Up until my vacation, starting on the 13th, I didn’t do a lot of reading. Which is normal, the first week of year it was still a school vacation and thus busy in the store. Which resulted in less time off, so less time to read. And because it was busy I was tired in the evenings and didn’t have the energy to stay up late to read. The week after I was busy preparing for my vacation and reading a book that was slow going for me.

During my vacation I did do a lot of reading; I finished six books. My cold started on Thursday and by Saturday I was sick enough for it to start slowing down my reading. The week after my vacation I didn’t read; I was too sick to care. I’m still not completely better, but I’m feeling good enough to read.

In the end I managed to read ten book and a total of 2897 pages. Which means that the average book was less than 300 pages. My average since 2012 is 360 pages per book. I also read about 800 pages less than an average January. However, since August I only read this much in September, when I read just over 3000 pages.

I did have some longer books planned for after my vacation, but that didn’t work out due to that nasty cold. I plan to start working on those after I finish my current book.

My favourite book of the month was Five Nights in a Haunted Cabin by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross. Their account of staying in a friend of a friend’s supposedly haunted cabin for several days and nights. I like how they don’t attribute all strange happenings to the paranormal, but also offer everyday possible causes.

My least favourite book was a short story by Carrie Bates, The Haunting of Maple Mansion. Which felt like the start of a nice haunted house/horror story. But instead that the main character would start their adventure from there (fighting the haunting/stubbornly trying to ignore the haunting/getting help/etc) the main character was like: “Nope, not doing this. Bye bye.”. Which I thought was a bit of shame, but the story had potential.

February I started with the second book in The Paper Magician series, by Charlie N. Holmberg. Which I really enjoyed. After finishing that I started to reread Desmond Doane’s Graveyard: Classified Files trilogy. I read the first two books years ago, and although I really enjoyed those I never got the last book until recently. But I first want to reread the first two, since it was so long ago and can’t remember exactly what it was about. After that I’ll tackle one of the longer books I have on my TBR pile. I’m not sure which book, it really depends on my mood.

Best Intentions

There goes my plan of posting every weekend (Sunday or Monday). I didn’t post last week because I had a nasty cold/throat thing. It involved lots of coughing and very little sleep. Last weekend I didn’t feel good. Add to that that Sunday was the last day of my vacation and on Monday I went home and had to unpack and do laundry, I just didn’t have the energy to write a blog. I didn’t read much last week. I did manage to finish one novella yesterday.

Luckily my vacation week, my annual Reading Retreat, gave me enough time to read. I read one novella and finished five books. The books weren’t long, but all in all I read just over 1600 pages. Which isn’t bad considering the last couple of months in reading for me. Of all of what I read that week I think I like Five Nights in a Haunted Cabin by Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross most. It recalls their five night in a cabin owned by a friend of a friend, supposedly a haunted cabin. They retell what happened during those days and nights. Thorne turns out to be paranormal investigator besides a writer and it’s refreshing not everything they experience is immediately chalked up to ghosts. They always try to find a logical reason for the happenings.

I also finished the first series of the year; Ambrose Ibsen’s The Ulrich Files. There seems to be a follow up series about the same main character. After I finish my current book I want to start getting back into my series again, though not as fanatically as last year. I think my slowing down of reading last year was due to my focus on finish several series. I simply burned out on those. This year I want to have more space for stand alone books and choosing books I feel like reading, instead I feel I have to read. Hopefully I can get out of my reading funk that way.

Here We Go Again

After a good start, having finished two books in the first seven days of 2020, my third book isn’t going well. Despite me having had more time this to read. It isn’t the book, which is interesting. Probably just my reading slump rearing it’s head, telling me it just had a bit of a post-Christmas break.

Today, after I’ve done my laundry and packed most of my things for my vacation I can get some reading done. I’m aiming for 40% into the book. Which is The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring.

Tomorrow I don’t think I’ll have much reading time. In the morning packing the last couple things, going to the supermarket to get a couple of things I’m not sure the on-park supermarket sells and then the trip to the vacation park. My father is dropping me off. So after we’ve had a bite to eat I’ll unpack and then probably watch some TV and finally have some time to read. The weather prediction isn’t great for next week. If it’s reasonably dry I might go to the nearby town of Apeldoorn on Wednesday or Thursday. But otherwise I plan to stay in and relax.

On another note. I watched the first episode of the new TV series Lincoln Rhyme and the Hunt for the Bone Collector, based on the Lincoln Rhyme book series by Jeffery Deaver. It was quite good, despite some characters having been replaced by characters that probably appeal more to a TV audience (Mel!). My biggest gripe was that Amelia didn’t walk/wasn’t taught to “walk the grid” when collecting evidence. She just barged in the crime scene and immediately found the evidence. Walking the grid is very important in the books, and integral part of how evidence is collected. Other than that I enjoyed it.

A Good Start

The past week has been good, reading wise. Better than the last couple of months anyway. On Monday I finished my last book of 2019, The Haunting of Hilltop Manor by Carrie Bates. It was the 12th book I read in 2019 where the title started with “The Haunting of”, no points for guessing what my favourite genre was that year.

On Tuesday I started Year Zero by Jeff Long. Since I count a book for my challenge on the date I finish it, this means that this was my first book of the year, despite starting it in 2019. On Wednesday I spend the morning in bed reading, something I hadn’t done in a long while. The next three days I didn’t read much. The store was open again and since a lot of people still were off work it was busy. I did manage to read a little bit each night. I finished the book this morning. I really enjoyed it, it was the right book at the right moment.

I started the latest Rizzoli & Isles book, I Know a Secret, by Tess Gerritsen. It was released in August 2017 and missed its release. I only found out a little while back. I’m already at 53% tonight. But when you wake up at 5am in the morning and can’t fall asleep again you have plenty of time to read. The book is great, a shame it escaped my attention for so long.

I’m trying to read the books I have on my eReader already, instead of finding new books to read and adding them. I make an exception for series I’m either in the process of reading or those that have new releases. With my reading retreat coming up in just over a week I might fail, and treat myself to something new.

Reading Challenge 2020

A new year, a new challenge. Kind of. Since I’ve slowed down over the last couple of months I’ve decided to lower my usual challenge. Instead of 100 books, I want to read 52 books, one a week. And instead of 40000 pages, I aim for 20000 pages, half.

I’m not doing a series challenge. One of the reasons I slowed down last year is because I was so focused on series that I burned out. There are several series on my “active list” that only have two, three or four books in total. I want to finish those, but if I don’t, I don’t.

I do want to do more with this blog, not just updating my reading list every once in a while. I want to do both monthly general updates and write reviews regularly. This will be the hardest challenge for me. It’s almost time to get a new planner, I order a custom one and one of the options is to add blog planning pages, so those will be added, hopefully they will keep me on track.

To help with my blog challenge, I want to keep writing notes about the books I read. I started this in August last year. And I’ve been keeping up, I haven’t skipped any books. Which is quite an achievement for me.

I have a lot of books that are first in a series. Over a 100, some are series I’ve started in the past but never finished (like Temperance Brennan or the Sookie Stackhouse series) and want to start over. Some I might never read, to be honest. But I do want to lower this number. It isn’t a set goal, more or a wish.

My most important goal this year is to just have fun reading, not to worry about any goals I’ve set. My upcoming “reading retreat” (I always go on vacation on my own in January) should help with this. I expect that I will focus on stand alone books for now. I’ll sprinkle in some of my active series and first-in-series books, but only when I feel like it.

Round Up Reading Challenge 2019

Although I kept my reading lists up to date on this blog, I haven’t posted in over a year and a half. That is one thing I want to remedy in 2020; more regular posts. I’ll try to add some reviews, but I know that’ll be a difficult goal for me.

My reading goals for 2019 were the usual 100 books (for Goodreads) and 40000 pages. I also added a series challenge, to finish all series I was actively reading on January 1, 2019. I met some goals, but not all.

I did finish 103 books, I abandoned none, there was one reread (Stephen King’s It) and I read books by 19 new to me authors. I did finish the series challenge, but not until December, when I had expected to finish those (except for the new releases later in the year) by August. I failed on the page count challenge, reading “only” 37809 pages. Close enough for me.

Failing the page count challenge had multiple reasons. First of all I discovered a couple of new hobbies in 2019, so I spend more time on things other than reading. Second of all, I think I burned out because I focused too much on the series. From August onward my monthly page count went down hill. September was still okay because I went on a Reading Retreat vacation, but still I read below average. During the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading whatever I feel like and I’m enjoying myself more. However, it’s the busiest time of the year, so as usual I have less time to read.

All in all, I don’t think I did too badly, except on writing on my blog.

For next year I plan to keep it easy and basically get back to enjoying reading again. But the next week and a half will still be busy. Luckily, after that I have my annual January Reading Retreat and things start getting back to normal 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.