An Eclectic Mix of Stories

It’s not strictly true to say ‘what I’ve been reading’, more accurately which books I’ve finished.  Beside actually reading a physical book or an ebook, I also listen to audiobooks when I’m in the car, knitting or just relaxing. I actually had no idea how many books a year I actually finish until I undertook the Goodreads Challenge this year.  I started out with what I thought was a reasonable number, 30.  I had to update that by end of March to 40 and so on.  Currently I’ve set the total to 65 and am only 6 books short of the target… again.  And then there is the slush reading I do for ASIM which at times adds another 3 or so short stories a week to my total reading list, although they do not count on the Challenge of course.

I love any sort of speculative fiction but will happily read biographies and good fiction, often because they have been recommended to me.  In the latter category I recently read ‘The Guernsey 8013752Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Mary Ann Shaffer, given to me by a friend last Christmas.  I took so long to read it even though it kept rising to the top of the ‘to read’ pile because it seemed rather ‘twee’ to me.  Silly me, really.  It is a delightful book, full of real people that captured my attention.  On top of that, the style of writing in the form of letters was unique and very well done.  I admit I had to stop looking at the dates of the letters because I kept wondering how these missives could flash across a city in less than five hours and across the channel to Guernsey in one day.  Once I just let it flow I became wrapped up in the story of wartime Guernsey and it’s people, and the unusual romance that eventuated.  Definitely deserved 4 stars out of 5.

13067519Another unexpected gem was ‘Athena’s Promise’ by Annetta Ribken. It was a delightful speculative fiction story that doesn’t fit into any specific genre although it had zombies, trolls, centaurs and vampires all dealing with a human heroine who was the front desk manager in a hotel.  The catchphrase ‘more numbah’s’  will stick in the mind after reading it.  Again, definitely deserves 4 stars from me.  I’m looking forward to the next instalment when it is released.

23264189I bought ‘Difficult Second Album’ by Simon Petrie at Conflux 10 held in Canberra on the long weekend in October and available from Smashwords and Amazon if you’re interested. My husband told me I wasn’t to read it in bed of an evening because I kept giggling and snickering and putting him of his reading.  Simon has a wicked sense of humour, is a wonderful story-teller and very, very well. Not all the stories have humour in them and they balance out the book very well. He also writes flash fiction and some of those in the book are real gems.  I highly recommend this one and give it 5 stars.

23056339Donna Maree Hanson’s ‘Shatterwing’ was another Conflux find.  It is a fantasy with very dark passages that some may find very confronting.  The world-building in this, the first book of the series, is excellent and I found myself hooked in the trials and tribulations of the characters.  I have a personal issue in that when I become interested emotionally in a character, I find it difficult to let them go halfway through a book and take up the point of view of another character.  The first half of the book is about Salinda who, after years of tending the vines for the Dragon Wine, undergoes terrible physical harm before she can escape the vineyard.  Salinda is the keeper of a power she finds difficulty using and does not understand.  We leave Salinda in a situation that seems somewhat safe and learn about Laiden who accompanies an elder mage who unexpectedly dies.  As a result she gains a similar power to Salinda and has difficulty managing it.  She must also run for her life.  I have the second in the Dragon Wine series and will read ‘Skywatcher’ over the next month.  Overall, I rate the first book a 3 stars, I liked it and am looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Now for a couple of audiobooks.  The first, The Child by Sebastian Fitzek, was an excellent story but the audio-play had too many distractions – rain that went on forever, pauses in dialogue that ended up being totally frustrating despite the fact that the actors, including Amelia Fox and Rupert Penry-Jones were delightful to listen to.  So I will have to find a written copy of this and read it.

Kevin Hearne”s ‘Shattered’, the 7th in the Iron Druid Chronicles, was the exact opposite.  The narrator, Christopher Ragland, did a wonderful rendition of all of the characters, male and female and18525883 irish wolfhound.  Atticus the last Druid on Earth now has graduated Granuille, his apprentice as well as liberating his Arch-Druid from a time spell – so now there are 3 druids in the world that can access the powers of Gaia.  Atticus and Granuille both have delightful companions in their wolfhounds who can speak and provide the light relief during stressful times.  If you love Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files you will definitely love the Iron Druid series.  Another 4 stars from me for this one.

23265559Finally, there is the audiobook of ‘Bones Never Lie’ from Kathy Reichs and read by Katherine Borowitz.  The last two Reichs books were a bit of a disappointment for me but this one returns Reichs to her previous best with detailed forensic descriptions alongside the continuing life of her heroine, Dr Temperance Brennan.  This is a 3 stars only because I have certain expectations from these books and I liked it but fell just short of loving it.

7028848I am currently reading Phillip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ and can see why it has become a classic.  I’m about 40 pages from the end and will finish it today.  It will definitely get 5 stars from me despite it being slightly dated because Dick wrote it in the late 1960’s and set it in the early 2000’s.  Not his fault that space exploration and the idea of settling on Venus and Mars turned out to be highly problematic.

18076835I’m also listening to ‘Lexicon’ by Max Berry and read by Heather Corrigan and Zack Appleman.  It is a story about the power of words and how some people are trained to use words to influence others.  It is intriguing and suspenseful and I’m not sure where it is going.  I like that, a lot.

My ‘To Read’ stack keeps getting taller and includes titles from Gillian Polack (Langue [dot] doc}, Craig Cormack (The Shadow Master) and an anthology by Tehani Wessely entitled ‘Phantazine’.  I guess I’ll make my 65 books this year, and maybe more as there are still 7 weeks to go this year.

 

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