Trillian

Trillian

all about books - news, reviews and a ton of chitchat :)

2014 Challenge Roundup

Well, I wasn't really active here on booklikes in the last couple of months, but I swear I will do better this year :-)

 

Even though I didn't read as much in the last couple of months as I did in the first half of 2014, I managed to complete the fifty fifty challenge and I'm really proud that I succeeded twice in a row now. I managed to read 50 for me new books and watch 50 films I've never seen before. But to be honest, I didn't read exactly 50 books, because I counted those books that were longer than 600 pages as two. So, not really 50. but the rules allow it, so I did it :) 

 

I also took part in a challenge called "Read me" where all participants had to read at least one book every month according to a specific topic. And here are my results:

 

January: read a book from a new author

- J. J. Abrams & Doug Dorst - S

- Maggie Stiefvater - The Raven Boys

- Peter S. Beagle - The Last Unicorn

 

February: read a book with a white cover or snow/ice on the cover/in the title

- Neal Stephenson - Snow Crash

- Brandon Sanderson - The Final Empire

- Brandon Sanderson - The Well of Ascension

 

March: read a book with an antihero/villain protagonist

- Mark Lawrence - Prince of Thorns

- Umberto Eco - The Prague Cemetery

 

April: read a book with religious symbols on the cover or in the title/story

- Sebastian Fitzek - Noah

- Walter M. Miller Jr. - A Canticle for Leibowitz

- Mikhail Bulgakov - The Master and Margarita

- Hubert Knoblauch - Qualitative Religionsforschung

 

May: read a book that takes place under the sea, or has a cover with this theme

- Neil Gaiman - The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

- Jules Verne - 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

 

June: read a book with animals as protagonists

- Richard Adams - Watership Down

- Daniel Keyes - Flowers for Algernon

 

July: read a book that takes place in an exotic place

- Paolo Bacigalupi - The Windup Girl (place: Bangkok)

- Haruki Murakami - Kafka am Strand (place: Japan) (engl. title: Kafka on the shore)

 

August: read a book about classic time travel or alternative history/past

- Philip K. Dick - The Man In The High Castle (alternative history)

 

September: read a book that won an award (joker)

- Alice Munro - Zu Viel Glück (engl. title: too much luck)

 

October: read a book with elements (fire, earth, water, wind) or horoscopes on the cover or in the title/story

- Jim Butcher - Small Favor

 

November: read a non fiction book

- Bud Spencer - Mein Leben, meine Filme. Die Autobiografie (engl. title: my life, my movies)

 

December: read a Christmas themed book

- Terry Pratchett - Hogfather

 

As you can see I didn't read as much since August, but I managed to choose one book for every month. It was a really fun challenge, especially the months with the "literature award" and "non fiction" topic. I definitely need to read more non fiction in the future - while researching which book I should read in November I found a lot of interesting stuff.

 

Last but not least two resolutions from last year: More Science Fiction and less Young Adult. Let's see how I did with those two:

I only read ONE young adult book last year --> The Raven Boys by Meggie Stiefvater and I finished six science fiction books. Some of them were really great, others not so much. Especially with the science fiction classics I had a lot of problems. E.g. The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr. or Shadow & Claw by Gene Wolfe. But, as mentioned before, there were others I quite enjoyed: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (maybe even the best book I read last year) and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

 

This year I won't participate in any challenge at all. I loved all of them last year and it was a lot of fun, but I want to just pick books because they are interesting and not because I need to read something for a specific topic. And I'm definitely sure I won't manage to read 50 books this year, so I won't take part in the fifty fifty challenge again. Maybe my challenge this year is to not take part in any challenges ;) other than the one here on booklikes where I set a goal to read about 20 books, of course ;) but I chose a low number of books, so it won't be a challenge at all - it's just a way to track the number of books I've read. 

August 2014 - My Book Month
Kafka am Strand - Haruki Murakami The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick

I finally read another novel of Haruki Murakami and tried my luck with a science fiction classic. Do you want to find out more about the books I've read? Well, then just click on more :)

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NPR Top 100 SciFi/Fantasy Books Reading List

I was thrilled when I saw that it is possible to make reading lists now here on booklikes. So it didn't take that long until I made one myself:

 

The NPR Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

 

Unfortunately I noticed that it doesn't work that well when it comes to recognizing the books you've already read. There are a few books on this list that I have read - some even in English - but they just don't show up as read. Really weird.

 

Back to the list: NPR is a radio station that asked their listeners to name their favourite science fiction and fantasy books and my list contains the top 100 named books. I only included the first book of a series and not the whole because that would have been way too many books to add :)

 

have fun with this list :)

July 2014 - My Book Month
Shadowmarch / Das Herz: BD 4 (German Edition) - Tad Williams, Cornelia Holfelder-von der Tann Saga, Volume 1 - Fiona Staples, Brian K. Vaughan The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman, #1) - Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Jones III, Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg Biokrieg - Paolo Bacigalupi, Hannes Riffel

I finally finished a really great epic fantasy series, managed to read a book for the 'definitive sf read'-challenge and started reading some graphic novels. Not that much happend this month, but if you are interested anyway, just click on more and continue reading :)

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Murakami Bingo - Kafka on the Shore

Some time ago I found a Murakami Bingo made by Grand Snider (source). I already posted it here on booklikes too last year. Since I always wanted to try it, now is the perfect time for it because I'm currently in the middle of Kafka On The Shore. Here's my progress so far:

 

 

I'm not sure if there are not still a few fields I'm allowed to check. "Mysterious Women" for example: I have no idea if the one that appeared so far in the story really is that mysterious, so I left it out. The other two fields are "Precocious Teenager" - does Kafka count as one? - and "Unusual Name". Well the japanese names all are quite unusual for me, but I think Kafka is the one that counts here, because that really is not a normal name in Japan. When I think about it right now, I can really check that box next time :)

 

That really is a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to finding out, if I manage to get five in a row. Grant Snider picked some good themes, but I'm sure some of you who have read a lot of Murakamis books so far could include a few other good ones :)

2014 Locus Awards Winners
Abaddon's Gate - James S.A. Corey The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two - Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie Six-Gun Snow White - Catherynne M. Valente The Sleeper & the Spindle - Neil Gaiman Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales - Paula Guran, Theodora Goss, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Tanith Lee, Genevieve Valentine, Jane Yolen Old Mars - George R.R. Martin, Gardner R. Dozois The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories - Connie Willis

The readers of the Locus Magazine again voted on the best science fiction and fantasy books from last year. Let's have a look who the winners are...

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My Top 5 books of the first six months

The first half of 2014 is over, so we - a group on another reading platform - decided to check which books were our favourites so far. Especially since it's really interesting to compare this list to the one at the end of the year.

 

I read a lot of really good books in the last couple of months and there was only one major disappointment, so it wasn't quite that easy to only choose five of them. But I did my best to narrow it down, so here is my list of my favourite books (in no particular order):

 

S. by Doug Dorst and J. J. Abrams

"One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire.
A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown. [...]" (Source)

I just had to choose this book, because I enjoyed each and every page of it. This is one of the few books I'm definitely going to read another time and I'm sure I'll discover new stuff every time. Here's the link to my short review of it.

 

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

"With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance--until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?" (Source)

I had a lot of problems with other scifi classics, so I would have never thought that Flowers For Algernon is such a good book - but it really is! It's an unbelieveable sad and also thought-provoking story. It's definitely one of my highlights this year!

 

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

"A man returns to the site of his childhood home where, years before, he knew a girl named Lettie Hempstock who showed him the most marvelous, dangerous, and outrageous things, but when he gets there he learns that nothing is as he remembered." (Source)

Somewhere I read that this story is a fairytale for adults and after reading it, I can only agree. Even though the book is with its 180 pages quite short, the story was really captivating from cover to cover.

 

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

"Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case. [...]" (Source)

I loved the tv series Veronica Mars and enjoyed the movie which aired previously this year. So how could I not list this book? It's like an episode of the tv series but only in form of a book. I loved it! I hope I don't have to wait too long for a sequel. 

 

Last but not least...

 

The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

"[...] A thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash fields. But now a troublemaker has arrived and there is rumour of revolt. A revolt that depends on criminal that no-one can trust and a young girl who must master Allomancy - the magic that lies in all metals.[...]" (Source)

It was really difficult for me to choose between this one and the third part of the Shadowmarch series by Tad Williams. I absolutely enjoyed both of them, but in the end, The Final Empire won, because it's the first part of a series and in my opinion they are always way more interesting and exiting, since you encounter everyone and everything for the first time :) After this series Sanderson definitely is one of my favourite authors and I can't wait to start with another of his books as soon as possible. 

 

Well, this is my list of my top 5 books so far. As you can see, I didn't really concentrate on only one genre which is new for me :) What are your favourite books of the first half of 2014? Is it difficult for you to decide on only five or did you not have a lot of luck this year concerning books? I'm really looking forward to your list :)

Six months are (nearly) over...

... so I think it's the perfect time to look back and check how I did with all my challenges I participate in this year.

 

50/50 challenge

It's going not so bad actually. I have read 24 new books so far and watched 29 new movies, so I'm on track and didn't fall behind - especially since I count longer books (in my case: more than 600 pages) as two. So it's not 24 but even 29 books! But to be honest, I hoped I would have read more books to have a buffer to be prepared for times when I'm not really into reading, but that didn't work out ;)

Edit: I just remembered that I should explain what the 50/50 challenge actually is about. Totally forgot that. Well, it's not that difficult and can be summarized as follows: 50 books, 50 movies in one year. But re-reads and watching movies you've already seen do not count. And if you like, you can count books with more than 500 pages as two (I adapted this "rule" and only do that for books with more than 600 pages).

 

Less YA, more SciFi

I just read one young adult novel: Raven Boys, the first book of the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. It was a great book I really enjoyed - so it was definitely worth it. I'm also sure that it's not going to be the only young adult book I will read this year, because I'm looking forward to the fourth Harry Potter novel - I only read the first three books so far and want to maybe even finish this series this year. Nevertheless, those are less ya books than in the previous years :)

Let's see how I did with the Science Fiction part: six books is a good number for me and this genre really grew on me - there are so many great novels out there that I can't wait to read. I'm just thinking about the Expanse series by James S. A. Corey or the books about the Ketty Jay crew by Chris Wooding.

 

Read me - every month a new topic

So far I didn't have to take a joker, because I managed to read at least two books each month that fitted the specific topic. The best month was actually April with religion as the theme which I would have never guessed :) To find out more about the monthly topics, just visit my challenge website here on booklikes.

 

Definitive SF reads

I read four books so far that are on Rinn's definitive sf reads list, which isn't that good, but thankfully it's an ongoing challenge which I don't have to finish this year :)

~ The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

~ Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

~ A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller jr.

~ Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne

All of them are from the 'classic science fiction' section. I hope I'll read a few from the new and young adult section soon too.

 

That was my progress in the first six months. I'm really looking forward to hear how you are doing so far! Are you on track or did you fall behind?

June 2014 - My Book Month
Watership Down - Richard Adams The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere - John Chu Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes White Night - Jim Butcher The Lost World -  Arthur Conan Doyle

I accompanied a bunch of rabbits on their adventures, was really glad that I don't get soaked in water if I lie, read a very sad story, once again joined a wizard on his daily work to fight the evil and last but not least finally managed to read a sci-fi classic that was on my wishlist way too long. If you want to find out more about the books I read in the last couple of weeks, just click on "more" :)

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Quote
Now I understand that one of the important reasons for going to college and getting an education is to learn that the things you’ve believed in all your life aren’t true, and that nothing is what it appears to be.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Kurd Laßwitz Preis 2014
Dschiheads - Wolfgang Jeschke In einer anderen Welt - Jo Walton, Hannes Riffel James Tiptree, Jr.: Das Doppelleben der Alice B. Sheldon - Julie Phillips, Margo Jane Warnken

Der nach Kurd Laßwitz, einer der "Pioniere des Science-Fiction-Genres" (Quelle), benannte Preis, wurde wieder einmal an die besten deutschsprachigen Science Fiction Werke vergeben.

 

Bester deutschsprachiger SF-Roman (Erstausgabe 2013):

Dschiheads von Wolfgang Jescke

 

Beste deutschsprachige SF-Erzählung (Erstausgabe 2013):

Coen Slaterdykes diametral levitierendes Chronoversum von Michael Marrak (in: Nova 21, Hrsg.: hilscher/Iwoleit) (Link)

 

Bestes ausländisches Werk zur SF (deutschsprachige Erstausgabe 2013):

In einer anderen Welt von Jo Walton

 

Bestes ausländisches Werk zur SF (deutschsprachige Erstausgabe 2013):

Margo Jane Warnken für die Übersetzung von: Das Doppelleben der Alice B. Sheldon von Julie Phillips & James Tiptree Jr.

 

Beste Graphik zur SF in einer deutschsprachigen Ausgabe (erstmals erschienen 2013):

Pierangelo Boog für das Titelbild zu: Exodus 30, Hrsg.: Rene Moreau/Heinz Wipperfürth/Olaf Kemmler

 

Sonderpreis für herausragende Leistungen im Bereich der deutschsprachigen SF 2013:

Martin Kempf und sein Team von Fandom Observer (für 300 Ausgaben des Szene-Magazins in den letzten 25 Jahren)

 

Quelle

 

 

Quote
"The wacky thing about those bad guys is that you can't count on them to be obvious. They forget to wax their mustaches and goatees, leave their horns at home, send their black hats to the dry cleaner's. They're funny like that."

White Night (Dresden Files #9) by Jim Butcher

Quote
"Animals don't behave like men," he said. "If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill, they kill. But they don't sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures' lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality."

Watership Down by Richard Adams

My Top 5 Book Series
The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett Storm Front - Jim Butcher The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams The Final Empire. Mistborn Book One - Brandon Sanderson City of Golden Shadow  - Tad Williams

In a group on another website for book lovers, we have a weekly top 5 topic and this week it's our favourite book series. Since I wrote about it there, I thought why shouldn't I share it with you here too? So here they are...

 

btw, since I'm super bad at deciding, there is no real ranking :)

 

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

I actually wrote about this series when I came here to booklikes. If you want to check it out, here's a link to it - unfortunately it's only in German, but at the end of it, you can find a full list of all the books in publication order with German and English titles. Maybe, when I find the time, I will translate it into English :)

It's a comedy fantasy series with four major topics: wizards, witches, the city watch and death. Terry Pratchett wrote a lot of books so far in this series and I haven't finished half of it so far, but I really enjoyed all the novels I read - especially those about the wizards (and Rincewind) and the city watch. 

 

Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

If you're following me for some time now, you have definitely seen something about this series now and then. It's a fantasy series set in todays Chicago featuring the wizard Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden who is a wizard p.i. and also works for the police as a consultant. During those books you encounter nearly every fantastic creature you can think of: vampires, werewolves, faeries, demons, gods ... and the list surely is a lot longer, I just haven't read those books ;) If you are interested now, the series starts with the book "Storm Front" - you can also find a list of all the books here.

 

Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

I'm not sure if I actually need to introduce this series :) it's a comedy science fiction series about Arthur Dent who leaves Earth and goes on an adventure with his friend Ford Perfect. If you haven't read it so far, just do it. Go into the next bookstore and buy it! 

 

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

I just discovered Brandon Sanderson recently and I enjoyed all three books of this series so much. There is also another book in this series that takes place around 300 years later - I haven't read it so far, but I'm looking forward to it. Sanderson seems to have a gift when it comes to creating a completely new magic system. It's nothing I have ever encountered before - I loved the idea of the different powers of metals. The series starts with "The Final Empire". You need to check it out :)

 

Otherland by Tad Williams

This series which starts with "City of Golden Shadow" was the one that brought me back to the world of reading. Tad Williams created an unbelieveable interesting story around the virtual reality called Net. As I write about this series now, I really want to read those books again, because I had such a great time with them.

 

So those are my top 5 book series at the moment :) I'd be happy if you tell me about you favourites!

Review
2 Stars
[Short Review] The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
The Prague Cemetery - Umberto Eco

"19th-century Europe - from Turin to Prague to Paris - abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay one lone man? What if that evil genius created its most infamous document?  

Eco takes his readers here on an unforgettable journey through the underbelly of world-shattering events. This is Eco at his most exciting, a book immediately hailed as his masterpiece." (Source)

I have read fiction and non fiction books by Umberto Eco and so far never encountered a book that I didn't like. I loved The Name of the Rose or Focault's Pendulum and the non fiction book "Wie man eine wissenschaftliche Abschlußarbeit schreibt" (~ how to write a scientific paper) was really interesting too. So you can imagine that I was happy to find out that Eco wrote another book a few years ago. I nearly forgot about it, but when I saw it in a bookstore a few months ago, I had to buy it - because what could go wrong? I enjoyed his other books, why not this? Well, now I know better. I love Eco's writing style, how he manages to write things in a way that makes me feel I'm actually there with his protagonists. But I had a lot of problems with The Prague Cemetery and to be honest, I didn't want to give this book only two stars, I mean it's Umberto Eco... But I had to, because this book is only about a guy who hates everyone and especially women and jews and he dedicated his life to make those look bad. Eco filled this book with the hate of the protagonist - Simonini - towards others and for me personally it was just too much. I got really angry while reading and never managed to read more than a few pages at one time. I heard that this book and Simonini's attitude should be satirical and it should be a mirror for our society. But I don't care about Eco's reasons to shower the reader with prejudices throughout the book - it was just too much. To exaggerate things surely is part of a satire, but in my opinion it should be about quality and not quantity. 

 

"And when I was old enough to understand, he [the grandfather] reminded me that the Jew, as well as being as vain as a Spaniard, ignorant as a Croat, greedy as a Levantine, ungrateful as a Maltese, insolent as a Gypsy, dirty as an Englishman, unctuous as a Kalmyk, imperious as a Prussion and as slanderous as anyone from Asti is adulterous through uncontrollable lust [...]."

 

Apart from this problem I had with The Prague Cemetery, I also thought that Eco didn't really integrate the whole story good into the historic frame. It was just a succession of one historic event after the other and somewhere in between those Eco tried to fit his story which in my opinion just didn't work - it often seemed a litle bit out of place. But not all was bad - I have to acknowledge that. You could see Eco's skill to describe things - when he wrote about food my mouth started to water instantly. And the ideas of the relationship between Simonini and the priest Dalla Piccola were really good. Especially their written discussion in a diary - really mysterious. In the end those two positive aspects just couldn't let me forget all those negative parts, so I ended up giving The Prague Cemetery only two stars.

Tor.com gives away free versions of their Hugo Award Nominees
Wakulla Springs: A Tor.Com Original - 'Andy Duncan',  'Ellen Klages' Equoid: A Laundry novella: A Tor.Com Original - Charles Stross The Lady Astronaut of Mars: A Tor.Com Original - Mary Robinette Kowal The Ink Readers of Doi Saket: A Tor.Com Original - Thomas Olde Heuvelt The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere - John Chu

Five Tor.com Originals are on the list of this years' Hugo Award nominees in various categories. And to celebrate this they give away free versions of those five stories.

 

Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages is nominated for best Novella and is available for free on amazon.com (and other countries!), Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

 

Equoid by Charles Stross is also nominated for best Novella and free on all three websites (amazon not only .com!).

 

The Lady Astronaut of Mars written by Mary Robinette Kowal is the only Tor.com Original entry for the category best novelette. So far you can only get it for free on Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

 

The Ink Readers of Doi Saket by Thomas Olde Heuvelt is a nominee for best short story and is available for free on Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

 

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu can also be found in the category short story and is available on all three websites amazon.com (and other countries!), Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

 

Check out their homepage to find out more about it!

 

And if you want to know which novels, novellas, novelettes and short stories are nominated this year, Tor.com has an article with the whole list too. 

 

Small update: If you don't want to download any ebooks, you can also read those stories online at tor.com!