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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 It was quite good, despite some characters having been replaced by characters that probably appeal more to a TV audience (Mel!).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.

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.

So Far So Good

So far this year I’ve managed to finish four series. Which is good, but I want to do better. With just five more books I can finish four more series. So I’ve devised a mini-challenge to finish them before the end of March. I’ll start with book 9 in the Body Farm series, followed by the latest Sigma Force book, then I’m allowed to choose a non-series book (or try out a first book in a new to me series). I’ve chosen to read the third Cormoran Strike book next, followed by the latest Body Farm book and then I have another free choice book. I end my series marathon with the final book in the Bill Hodges trilogy.

I still have the second book in the Commonwealth Saga duology to read, but that’s a 1200+ page book, and I know I need to be in the mood for both the sci-fi genre and a long book to be able to get on with it, which is why I didn’t include it in my marathon.

By choosing this order and allowing a free read every two books I hope I’ve mixed it up well enough not to burn out. All books are either crime or thriller or both but in different styles.

The next challenge will be to select new series to read. I’ve noticed that it has become a lot harder for me to find series I want to continue with. I did discover the PC Peter Grant series, the first book was very good, so that’s been added. I’ve got 20 other first-in-series on my Kindle. My aim will be to get a good mix of different genres and styles, because I think I got stuck in a rut last year because I had (and still have) series ongoing that were very similar in genre, style or setting.

Reading Challenge – January

The first month of the year has passed and I made great progress with my reading challenge. Mostly thanks to a vacation of a week, it was too cold to go out much, plus I had the flu, so I didn’t have the energy to do much than potter about in my apartment.

With just 20 minutes to spare I manage to finish 12 books, with a total of 3933 pages. Which is over 400 pages over average for January. I manage to finish 3 series, which is great. I only read 2 stand alone book, but I need to take care I don’t burn out on series. I started three new series; one I’m not going to continue with, another one is a graphic novel series, but the second book hasn’t been released yet and the third was the first book in the PC Peter Grant series, Rivers of London, which was my favourite book of January and it’s been added to my ongoing series list.

In February I usually read a lot less, but looking into more detail I see that is because I often start a really long book during the second half of the month, which I don’t finish until March (where my average page count is quite high). I do have one 1200+ page book on my soon to be read list, I’m now curious to see if I’m in the mood to start that in February. Otherwise I hope to finish another two series (Cormoran Strike and Sigma Force) this month, but I’ll see what I’m in the mood for to read.