Thursday, January 29, 2015

4:120 Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

The year is 1806 and magic has all but disappeared from England since The Raven King went missing.  There are still some groups that call themselves magicians but they just sit around and discuss theory.  Then there is Mr. Norrell who has spent years collecting every book on magic he can get his hands on and using whatever means necessary to get the other so-called "magicians" to swear off magic forever in his quest to bring magic back to England but with himself as the only English magician.  One day, a new magician shows up in London, Mr. Jonathan Strange, and soon he becomes Mr. Norrell's student but one that is willing to do the things that Mr. Norrell isn't like going with the army in France to help defeat Napoleon.  But as is usual, eventually a student will chafe against his teacher but when they are the only two magicians in England and each has a different vision for the future of magic, the stakes are a little more unusual.

The premise was incredibly interesting and I had been thinking about picking up this book to read before it was picked for book club but after looking at all the books in my to-read stack and decided against it at the time so I was happy to have an excuse to finally read it.  That being said, OMG was the first half of the book slow and plodding.  I understand that there was a lot of world building, character introduction, and things being set-up for the second half but it made it hard to get into and my mind would keep wondering as I would try to read it which made it hard to take it all in.  About the half-way point things started really intertwining and the pace picked up with a lot less over description of every single detail and was much more character driven and just enjoyable.  I'm interested to see what they do with the new mini-series that is due to come out shortly.

Page count: 846p/1,578p ytd/216,512p lifetime

Friday, January 16, 2015

3:120 Symbiont by Mira Grant

The second book in the Parisitology trilogy.  The Symbo-Gen implants are taking over more and more of their hosts and turning them into sleepwalkers whose only thought seems to be to consume those that aren't like them.  Sal is with Dr. Cale, one of the original inventors of the Symbo-Gen worm, and has brought them back the information she could gather from her trip there, the trip that caused the disappearance of Tansy, a chimera like herself.  Dr. Cale and her group are now trying to figure out what has caused the tapeworms to continue with the hostile takeover of their hosts.  However, as the only naturally occurring chimera there are many other factions that want Sal as well.  There is Sherman, her handler from Symbo-Gen, who is also a chimera but lab-created and who wants the implanted tapeworms to take over the human race completely.  And of course, Dr. Banks, head of Symbo-Gen and one of the creators of the parasites, who has always known what Sal was and has a vested interest in doing more research on her to try and salvage his company and reputation.  Sal has made her choice as to where her allegiances lie but there are tests to be passed with every choice.

I wanted to love this book as I'm a huge fan of Mira Grant but I just couldn't.  The same basic situations were repeated over and over with generally the same results which were completely predictable and no one EVER learned from them.  Sal made some of the most idiotic decisions ever and I get that she is a tapeworm who has taken over a human body and is just learning about a lot of things but holy cow!!  This was originally supposed to be a duology instead of a trilogy and I think it would have been better if it had stayed that way.  This book felt forced and just sort of limped along without actually adding much to the story that couldn't have been contained in a chapter or two of a more pertinent book.

Page count: 516p/732p ytd/215,666p lifetime

Monday, January 12, 2015

2:120 Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mr. Emerson wrote of his beliefs that within each of us, there is a greatness possible but it can only be found by being true to ourselves and foregoing conforming to societal norms simply because they are expected of us.  He speaks to how we often second-guess ourselves and the value of our thoughts until we receive validation from outside forces.  "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius."  I'm not at the point where I believe that my personal beliefs are true for all but I am at the point where I am continually questioning and evolving them for myself and striving to live up to them.  "Trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron string." "But do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself."  There are so many, many more great words and thoughts in this that these are only the tip of the iceberg.  Do yourself a favor and read this for yourself. Come to your own conclusions but above all, make sure they are yours.

Page count: 88p/216p ytd/215,150p lifetime

Saturday, January 3, 2015

1:120 Zombie Kid Diaries: Playing Dead by Fred Perry & David Hutchinson

Bill Stokes hasn't had the easiest life since his parents divorced and his mom is trying to make ends meet by being a human guinea pig for pharmaceuticals.  He figures life will be better once he achieves his dream of being a pro-gamer so he writes down what he eats and the results of all his games in a diary.  One day though, his mom is acting weirder than usual after getting home from work and pretty soon, Bill is noticing some weird things going on with himself.  Holy cow! He's a zombie!  It doesn't take him long to figure it out and how he can use it to his advantage in his video games.  The big problem is keeping anyone else from figuring out what has happened.  Bill is a resourceful 6th grader though so of course he's got this all under control.

First book of the year and of course, it's one the kids wanted me to read.  Really, it's a kid's book.  The plot is thin, there is no character development, and the writing is simplistic in the extreme (even for a supposed 6th grader).  However, my 8yr old loves the book and insisted.  I'm hoping to avoid more of the series.  It's not bad but it's definitely better suited for the kiddos.

Page count: 128p/128p ytd/215,062p lifetime

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Recap and 2015 Goals

I again had high hopes for this year, especially where reading was concerned about starting to get through some of my backlog of books.  For some reason though, I was having problems concentrating over the summer and it continued into the fall and made reading hard (something I've never experienced before and hope never to experience again) and it definitely put me behind where I wanted to be when December came around.

However, my brain did finally seem to wake from its fog and I wasn't so far behind that I couldn't hit most of my reading goals so I read like a fiend and completed 122 books (although only 120 by Goodreads count since it doesn't count that I read one book twice and there was another book that is not yet published) and managed to just barely get in the 40 new authors.  Page count was low at only at not quite 34,000 pages but I gave it a good go for a while.  There were some short stories/novellas but the average page per "book" was almost 278 pages so I think I'm good there.

In an amazing turn of events, I did actually end the year with a few less books in my to-read pile than last year mostly because I did some more decluttering of the shelves so whereas at the start of the last year my Goodreads list was at 1331 and Shelfari said 1332, Goodreads only has 1329 and Shelfari 1328.  So yeah, not a big reduction but it happened for the first time since I started keeping track so I'm counting it as a victory. :)

So the goals for 2015 are basically the same as for 2014.  120 books read, 40 new authors, and I'm going to try once again for 40,000 pages.  That is a goal I keep striving for but keep falling short of but one of these years I'll make it.  I'm also going to go with the same goal for my to-read pile which is to keep it from hitting more than 25 higher at the end of the year than at the beginning.  Maybe I'll be able to actually hit that one two years in a row?  My bookshelf can hope. LOL

What are your reading goals for 2015?