2016 in Books

This year I failed to complete my Goodreads target of 40 books. Having said that I read some mighty long books this year so I’m not going to beat myself up about it!

Here is this years list in full

This year I read a lot of old titles. Some were beloved favourites from childhood (Earthsea) others were books that I finally got round to picking up again after a hiatus of over 20 years! (The Dark Tower series) but I also found some fabulous new (to me) authors that I’d heard rumour of but hadn’t got round to seeking out. I’m so glad I did that this year because I feel I’ve found a real  new favourite in China Mieville, and I also intend to read more Richard Morgan and Ken liu.

Here are my winners and losers of this years challenge

Favourite read: Perdido Street Station – China Mieville.  Very reminiscent of Mervyn Peak in his vivid descriptions of the intricate architecture of his strange worlds. Wonderfully flawed heroes, strange new species to discover. Can’t wait to read more!

Disappointed By: The Magicians – Lev Grossman. Uninteresting characters, predictable plot. Not for me.

Pleasant Surprise: Sorcerer of The WildeepsKai Ashante Wilson. This title popped up in a Facebook post from Tor Books  as a free download from their website. Absolutely fell in love with the main protagonist Demane. Will definitely be reading more of this author in the future.

Made me Cry Snot: The Book Thief- Marcus Zusak. Have had this book for several years (I think it was actually bought for my daughter) and only got round to reading it this year. Simple, powerful storytelling.

Best revisited: The Earthsea Trilogy – Ursula K LeGuin  I know that there are more books to the series but when I first read about the wonderful Ged in 1979 there were only three, and it was this memory that I wanted to re visit. I have these books to thank for my love of fantasy but also for the high standards I set myself when choosing a book from this genre. Le Guin is proof positive that you don’t need to write thousands of pages to tell a compelling story or to create rounded characters who we care about. A true masterpiece.

Most Bored by and nearly gave up on: Rivers of London – Ben Aaronvitch. I can imagine this as a fairly pleasant TV series but as a book it didn’t work for me as I didn’t think the writing was up to scratch.

Everyone should read: Freedom From The Known – Jiddu Krishnamurti – We live in troubled times. Civilization seems on the brink of disaster. The only way we can prevent this is to change what we believe it is to be civilized. We can only begin to do this by first looking within ourselves.

Seeing me into 2017: The Scar – China Mieville. I intend to read everything he has written by the end of this year!

Wishing You Many Happy Reads for 2017!

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My Year in Books

So this year I decided to use Goodreads to set myself a reading challenge as I felt that I was getting distracted by the internet way too much and that my reading was suffering.

Here’s the list in full.

Quite an eclectic bunch of titles I think. Some are novels I’ve always wanted to read but hadn’t got round to (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep, American Gods), some were bought on a whim with the supermarket shop (The Minaturist, All The Light That We Cannot See) and others  have been continually brought to my attention over the years as “must reads” (The Alchemist). Some were free Kindle books that I read on holiday (80 Days Around the World, The War of The Worlds) and others were found whilst shelf tidying (I work in a library) and I’d either heard good things about or was intrigued by the blurb (Gormenghast, Farmegeddon)

Here are the winners and losers of this years challenge, in my opinion of course!

Favourite Read (even though it’s book 2 of a trilogy but didn’t know until a few chapters in!)

Gormenghast – Mervyn Peake

Disappointed by:

The Alchemist – Paul Coelho

Pleasant Surprise:

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

Made me laugh out Loud:

How To Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

Best re visited:

Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett (RIP TERRY)

Author I will not be reading more of in a hurry:

Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood

Everyone Should Read:

Farmageddon – Philip Lymbery & Isabel Oakeshott

Seeing me into 2016:

The shark and The albatross – John Aitchison

 

 

Cat

I wrote this for a short story competition. I used Macbeth as inspiration.

He strides through the dark alleys of the city.  The warm rain that soothed him at first, an ally giving purpose to his eager steps, now brings him to his senses.  Each droplet stings like a needle as he nears his destination, reminding him of his true purpose.

The sign appears at the intersection of three streets, rocking gently in a non-existent breeze on hinges that rasp painfully against the silence. His eyes make contact and it stops abruptly, words and images take form. “The Weyward Sisters” look out from the sign, three profiles of aged hags straight from a Fuseli painting. Bony fingers point in unison at a door.

Through the door is a room dominated by a huge stone fireplace in which a fire burns, the only light in the room.  A small wooden table and chair are set before it and he sits and waits.

A child with hollow sunken eyes and skin the colour of a storm stands before him.  “I’m here for Cat” he tells her, she nods and leads him away.

She takes him down steps worn smooth by the passage of uncountable footsteps. As he reaches the bottom they seem to melt so that it is impossible to tell where the steps end and the ground begins. It is cold and damp, a strange coquettish mist swirls around his feet, curling and caressing his ankles with promise.

And then the one named Cat appears.  Through the ages they have sought her out. They come for guidance, enlightenment and wisdom. They come for a vision.

She offers him the drink, it smells like death but he drinks it willingly and falls to the floor retching, pinpricks of sweat appear on his brow.  The mists that teased him on arrival become all enveloping and he is transported.

He is flying so fast that he cannot breathe, creating a terrible storm as he flies up and up a huge tower to a room at the top. He glides in through a huge glassless window that takes up the entire side of the tower and locates the man sitting at a desk.  Old, unshaven,  his hands palm down on the desk,  steadying himself against the howling wind that has free reign to rampage throughout  the room, disturbing papers that are stacked on his desk so that they spin and twist about him, a maelstrom of typeset.

He stands facing the old man. He holds something heavy in his hands but he cannot make out what it is. He holds it up and shows it to the old man who slowly gets up from the desk and walks to the window and, without backward glance, steps out.

He sits at the desk and sees that what he holds in his hands is a crown; he places the crown on his head. He notices his hands are covered in blood.

He awakes from the trance and knows what he must do.