rmc28: (books2010)
January: 3 list )
February: 5 (total 8) list )
March: 6 (total 14) list )
April: 4 (total 18) list )
May: 8 (total 26) list )
June: 10 (total 36) list )
July: 11 (total 47) list )
August: 11 (total 58) list )
September: 0

October: 6 (total 64) list )
November: 7 (total 71) list )
December: 23 (total 94) list )

Quick stats:
80 books by female authors, 9 by male authors, 5 by multiple authors
33 female authors, 7 male authors (ignoring multiple authored books)
1 non-fiction book

This would suggest goals for next year of reading more non-fiction and more books by male authors.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
(I have rereads or library books queued for the remaining 2 days of the year now.)

I had a goal of 2-out, 1-in to the to-read pile. In fact I acquired 99 new books and removed 105 from the to-read pile (either by reading them or giving them away unread). A net reduction at least, even if only 6. The to-read pile now stands at 314 according to LibraryThing.

I read 93 books (so far) in 2011, and am unlikely to read more than three more in the next 2 days.
Of those: 24 were library books or other loans, 22 were rereads and 46 (50%) came off the to-read pile.

Goals for 2012 then:
1. read about 8 books a month (96 in total)
2. of which at least half should come from the to-read pile
3. stick to the 2-out, 1-in rule for acquiring new books


Things that are helping me resist buying books:
1. Using the library, especially the free request service.
2. Using my Amazon wishlist and a "30 day rule" before buying a book. This works well because Amazon records the date I add something to the wishlist.
3. The lack of any space in the to-read pile shelves.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I was sad last week when I read that Anne McCaffrey had died at the age of 85. There are a couple of stories about her that I wanted to share.


When I was about eleven or twelve, on one of our frequent trips to Chippenham library, my father diverted me from my usual route to the children's section and picked out Dragonsong from the fantasy/sf shelves. I remember that I read it pretty much in one go that evening, reading in bed long past when I should have slept. In the morning I woke up, saw it sitting by my bed, and started reading it again ...

After that, not only did I track down and read everything I could find by Anne McCaffrey, I also started routinely visiting the fantasy/sf section of the library. I saved my pocket money and gift money and bought what I could find in the WHSmiths that was all Chippenham had for a bookshop at the time. That intervention by my father changed my reading habits for life, though it is my mother with whom I mostly shared (and still share) books and discussions. Sadly, when I asked him at the weekend, he didn't remember the incident, or what had prompted him to pick out that book at that time.


When I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, Anne McCaffrey did a talk and signing at Heffers on Trinity Street, so of course I got a pair of tickets, for myself and my friend Donna. We went for a long walk earlier the same day, for reasons I can't remember, but I remember dashing up to New Hall to grab my tickets, leaving Donna behind to recover, and just making it back in time. The "little white-haired old lady" sat and talked and answered questions, including mine (on the topic of where the name Johnny Greene came from, that you will find on a number of characters in her various universes). I remember I had to repeat my question because I was too shy and quiet the first time. I was a bit nervous that it would be a silly one, but my genuine interest was responded to with respect and enthusiasm.


I stopped being quite so completionist in recent years, and I'm rather more sensitive to the flaws than I was at eleven, or indeed at twenty-one, but the McCaffrey section of my bookcase is still substantial as can be seen below (please ignore my piles of books-to-be-shelved):

My run of McCaffrey books

I picked up one of the books and read it last week (Nerilka's Story & The Coelura) and still found it worth reading. I will probably read more over the next months.
rmc28: (books2010)
I could not finish this book, which I received for review through the LibraryThing Members Giveaways scheme. I found the phrasing clunky and a great deal too much repetition, and gave up after the first couple of chapters.
rmc28: (books2010)
Sequels to the clone commando book Hard Contact.

Triple Zero is military slang for Coruscant, where a team of commandos do some highly-deniable intelligence work to break a terrorist ring. Etain, now a Jedi General, joins the commandos along with fellow Jedi Bardan Jusik. Both of them wrestle with the morality of what they are doing, and more generally with the morality of the use of the clones. Meanwhile the young clone commandos are seeing more of 'normal life' which they will never be part of.

In True Colours the moral questions are explored even further, while the commandos continue to investigate where the money came from for the clone army, as well as beginning to suspect all is not as it seems in the great war against the droids. [Here I think my plot comprehension suffered from not having watched Episodes 2 & 3, I had the sense of references being made but no framework to put them in] The Mandalorian mercenaries being preparing a retreat for "their boys" once they are no longer required in war. The end is not really satisfactory, again I think because it is just before a major plot point of the films.

I really do like the Mandalorian culture of strong family attachments allied with kick-ass fighting. Too often loving parents, especially loving fathers, are portrayed as somehow weak and inferior, but you couldn't accuse any of the Mandalorians of such characteristics.

As with other Star Wars books by Karen Traviss, the Mandalorians are portrayed very sympathetically, while the "good" Jedi get a strongly critical portrayal. The viewpoint characters debate in their internal dialogue and their conversation the contradictions in the Jedi philosophy and the idea that attachment and emotion are always a bad thing. This review covers similar ground. I think the original trilogy is a great deal about redemption and forgiveness coming through love and loyalty (or if you prefer, attachment). I'd always taken Vader's final rebellion as being driven by parental love. The prequels seem to have created a rather less palatable "philosophy" for the Jedi, and I can't help siding with Karen Traviss and the Mandalorians here.
rmc28: (books2010)
A day late, but there's still World Book Night tomorrow on BBC2, for those that receive it.

The book I am reading: I just finished Northlight by Deborah Wheeler, which I received through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers giveaway. It's an ebook; the last physical book I read was the Haynes Chicken Manual, earlier this week.

The book I love most: I'm really not good at picking favourites. Some honourable mentions: Venetia by Georgette Heyer, for being the first Heyer I ever read (on holiday in Egypt in 2000); The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, which I adored as a child and read so much my original copy fell apart. (A film adaptation is out in the USA and comes to the UK later this month.) The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin as another childhood favourite that I still enjoy rereading. I like it more than the other Earthsea books and always have.

The last book I received as a gift: A Little Book of Malt Whiskies by Derek Cooper, from my cousin Carol in January. It's currently in the mini to-read-pile by my bed.

The last book I gave as a gift: My Favorite Witch, by Annette Blair to [livejournal.com profile] antinomy when we visited the Watson household last month.

The nearest book: Loose-Limbed, by David Barrie, which has just arrived after being won through the LibraryThing Members giveaway. Or Northlight and the other ebooks on my phone, as my pocket is even nearer.
rmc28: (books2010)
A fantasy/far future adventure, which was also my very first ebook. Politics and horses and teleports/wormholes? and a global environmentalism-as-religion. Two key characters are bisexual without anyone apparently caring, though they do end up in straight relationships.
rmc28: (books2010)
This is one of a long series of country house mysteries featuring the governess-turned-private detective Maud Silver. They are formulaic but enjoyably so. The main flaw I find is the introduction of Miss Silver in every book, in almost identical wording each time. Perhaps I should just think of those sections as the opening credits. The invented Home County of Ledshire does seem to have a remarkably high murder rate; this book set in the household of a wealthy and faintly scandalous former actress is no exception.
rmc28: (books2010)
TThis Regency romance has a hint of the supernatural: a family whose bad temper is reflected in storms and rain. The plot revolves around a contrived marriage to end a feud, and Regency London intrigue. Lightly and well told, with only a few things that jarred me (e.g. USAian slang rather than British). The extended family of course means there are sequels as the other siblings find their own romance.

(I read one of the sequels next, Sleepless in Scotland. I found it more formulaic and a little less fun, but I did also read another much later in the year, To Scotland With Love. I haven't kept any of them.)
rmc28: (books2010)
I am really enjoying this series of teen novels in the vampire-run college town of Morganville. By book 3 I have realised the pattern: resolve the previous book's cliffhanger, introduce new crisis (or two), resolve it/them along with some character development and teen romance, introduce new cliffhanger in last chapter. The plot rattles along and I read this almost in one sitting.

In this book, everybody is starting to pay our viewpoint character Claire a lot of attention, and more and more people want something from her. Unlike many vampire novels, they're mostly after Claire's fearsome intellect and growing political influence, rather than her Irresistible Beauty or Mystical Powers. I find this very refreshing. Another pleasant aspect is that the requisite romance is about development of existing relationships, as both Claire and her friend Eve "got their guys" in the first book. Now they just have to deal with the secrets that everyone seems to be carrying around, and the daily dangers of living in Morganville.

Diversity: Pretty much everyone is white, straight & USAian. Passes the Bechdel test technically and in spirit.
rmc28: (books2010)
Cookie's life is mundane and dominated by food, but her dayjob is exciting: she operates a remote flyer supporting troops fighting the complex information-dense meme-eating Grid on a planet far far away. Or maybe not. This is not an easy read for anyone who likes certainty about the reality of things, and not my usual sort of light escapist read at all. Once I stopped worrying about being too stupid to understand what was really going on, I could let myself be carried along by the developing plots in the Grid and the "real world", and Cookie's own growth and development out of her rut. So it was an enjoyable but more challenging read than usual.

Diversity: Cookie is female, black and fat, and she's telling the story. There's a lot of women in the book and it passes the Bechdel test both technically and in the more important sense that women are allowed to be characters that advance the story. I think it may actually fail the reverse-Bechdel test, with there being no 2 male characters who have a conversation together about something other than a woman.

Books

2011-01-09 00:58
rmc28: (books2010)
I wrote I think trying to enforce 22 books out before I get any more is seriously setting myself up to fail

Yeah, unless I read a seriously challenging book, look at the quality of my two latest supernatural fantasy fluff reservations from the library, look at the two teenage werewolf fantasies by the bed, and decide that actually all the Mills & Boon in the to-read pile can go to the charity shop. There's more in the library if I really want an easy romance fix, or I could just reread Cotillion or Bet Me.

So that was 21 out, and 1 in because I found a book my mother-in-law left when I was tidying up. So 3 more books off the to-read pile and I'm all caught up without any complicated schemes. Yay.

I feel mild guilt and a bit of worry about being snobbish; but maybe throwing out masses of unread magazines earlier in the week has hardened my heart to guilt.
rmc28: (books2010)
This is the second book in the "Legacy of the Force" series of Star Wars spinoff novels. (I think I have read the first few chapters of the first book but had to return it to the library unfinished.) The two complementary plot strands follow Jacen Solo's journey into authoritarianism and the dark side, and Boba Fett's journey into acceptance of his mortality, his failings as a father, and his responsibilities as leader of the Mandalorians.

I picked this up because I recently read Hard Contact by the same author, set 62 years earlier. I enjoyed this one for very similar reasons: exciting milsf plots and good characterisations. In both, the weaknesses and grey moral areas of the "good" Jedi are exposed and found wanting under the gaze of Mandalorians. As with Hard Contact, I found Fett more engaging than the Jedi characters (members of the Skywalker and Solo families), with the possible exception of young Ben Skywalker.

I remember reading the first of the "new" Star Wars books back when Timothy Zahn's "Thrawn Trilogy" was launched in something like 1994. I read those books so obsessively I had to get a second set at some point. I kept up with the spinoffs for a bit, but then tailed off and the "other books" chart in the front of the books now covers 2 densely-packed pages. The library has two sequels to Hard Contact, also by Karen Traviss, so I've made a tiny start on catching up again by requesting those.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Strikethrough indicates the book is no longer on the to-read pile.

1. The Other Sister
2. Mosquito (trigger issues)
3. The Good Nutrition Guide
4. Just Desserts
5. Planet Ocean
6. Torchwood: Border Princes
7. Torchwood: SkyPoint
9. Power, Actually
10. The Speed of Nearly Everything
11. Doctor Who & The Space War
12. Magicians of Caprona
13. The Lives of Christopher Chant
14. Charmed Life
15. The Time of the Ghost
16. Doing a Dyson
17. A Little Book of Malt Whiskies
18. U is for Undertow
19. Truer Than True Romance
20. Les Petit Detectives
21. Chocolate Nations
22. Jimmy Coates: Target
23. Jimmy Coates: Killer
24. Jimmy Coates: Revenge
24. Me & Mr Darcy
25. Flying Under Bridges
26. Vision of the Future
27. Allegiance
28. Coming Home
29. How to Abduct a Highland Lord
30. Haunted
31. Wild Mountain Thyme
32. Silent Pool
33. Haynes Chicken Manual
34. Sleepless in Scotland
35. Loose-limbed
36. The Years of Rice & Salt
37. The Catherine-Wheel
38. Anna Where Are You
39. The Case Is Closed
40. Dead or Alive
41. The Watersplash
42. The Falcon's Malteser
43. Hard To Get
44. Moonlighting
45. Any Man of Mine
46. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion
47. The Compassionate Mind
48. Dead Man's Cove
49. Hurricane Gold
50. Nine Dragons
51. Rat Race
52. The Gentleman's Daughter
53. Rogue
54. Zahrah the Windseeker
55. The Lonely Silver Rain
56. Classic Fantasy by Women
57. Modern Fantasy by Women
58. Rule 34 (ebook)
59. Cinnamon Skin
60. How to lose a husband and gain a life
61. The Cat Who Brought Down The House
62. Free Fall in Crimson
63. To Scotland with Love
64. I Shall Wear Midnight
65. Racing The Dark
66. Memory (ebook)
67. Fantasy Lover
68. A Tale Etched In Blood & Hard Black Pencil
69. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (ebook)
70. The Eagle of the Ninth (ebook)
71. The Silver Branch (ebook)
72. The Lantern Bearers (ebook)
73. Poison Study (ebook)
74. Why Vote Liberal Democrat
75. The Orange Book
76. Two's Company
77. Depressive Illness
78. Cambridge Mountaineering 2011
79. Fresh Apples
80. In & Out of the Goldfish Bowl (ebook)
81. Out of the Shadows
82. Sugar & Slate
83. Suicide Run (ebook)
84. Cryoburn
85. Black Horses for the King
86. Changes
87. Side Jobs
88. The Third Man
89. Angle of Investigation (ebook)
90. Funeral of Figaro
91. Forever
92. Lady Grace: Assassin
93. Lady Grace: Keys
94. To the Moon and Back
95. Dragon Harper
96. Spirit Dances
97. Chicks Dig Time Lords
98. The Scientist in the Crib
99. When Was Wales

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