New year, new opportunities…

So, I spent most of today sorting my reading shelves and looking through possible challenges and whatnot. This is what I came up with…

Planned reading for January:
– Buddy Read Cursed, Alex Verus #2, ebook, started today and made it to chapter 2.
– Buddy Read Black Powder War, Temeraire #3, ebook. I will pick this up after the above. More dragons!
– Saga #55, eComic, pre-ordered, pub date Jan 26. I can‘t possibly wait for the collected volume, after waiting for this since they went into their extended hiatus in 2018!

Also reading / ongoing:
– Life on Earth, audio, narrated by David Attenborough. I made it to chapter 9, all about birds of paradise. Fun chapter, but even so I feel a bit bored by this book.


I settled on a TBR Challenge for 2022 for the 217 owned books currently on my physical and digital shelves:

This reading challenge is for folks who have an obnoxiously large TBR (over 100 books) and need a kick in the pants to get it whittled down. These prompts will help you randomly select 24 books (2 for each month) from your TBR in the hopes that you pick up books you keep forgetting about or putting off. 

RULES:
1. You must start AND finish each book in 2022.  
2. A DNF still counts! The purpose of the challenge is to get you to at least try reading some books you might not otherwise pick up.
3.  Audiobooks count!
4. You must use a random number generator for each prompt. Here is an example of one you can use, but you can use any random number generator of your choice. 
5. You must use the first number that is generated every time you select a book for a prompt. 

Here is what I got from that numbers generator and my owned-books-shelf over at Goodreads:

1. January: Book 1 
Using the default order of the books on your spreadsheet (or my sorted-by-numbers GR list…), generate a random number from 1 to the number of books on your TBR. Use this number to find the book on the corresponding row in your spreadsheet.

– January #1 The Sweet Rowan

2. January: Book 2 (126 books added)
Sort your TBR by date added in ASCENDING order. Generate a random number from 1 to 100 and choose the book on the corresponding row. 

– January #2 The Marrow Thieves

I just realized that I didn‘t just pick between 1 and 100, but between 1 and all of my owned books. Never mind, not doing it again. So, we‘ll see how long I can keep up with this challenge!


And then there is my Pern Re-read:
I am deleting, as I progress through my re-reads. I made a nice dent in my list in December. Here is what‘s left! I probably won‘t get to the next one until February though, looking at my above plans.

Publication Order
* 1983 – Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern — part of On Dragonwings
* 1984 – Nerilka’s Story
* 1989 – The Renegades of Pern
* 1991 – All The Weyrs of Pern
* 1994 – The Dolphins of Pern
* 1998 – The Masterharper of Pern
* 2001 – The Skies of Pern
* 2003 – Dragon’s Kin
* 2005 – Dragonsblood
* 2006 – Dragon’s Fire
* 2007 – Dragon Harper
* 2008 – Dragonheart
* 2010 – Dragongirl
* 2011 – Dragon’s Time
* 2012 – Sky Dragons

I should not run out of ideas of what to read next, what do you think?

December 2021 Wrap-Up

Here is my December 2021:

The Quantum Magician ★★★☆☆ ebook + audio, Ocean‘s 11 in space with post-humans. Not as fun as it sounds.
Leviathan Falls ★★★★★ Expanse #9, audiobook, a fitting ending!
Silent Blade ★★★★¼ Kinsmen #1, ebook, novelette, romantic SF, enhanced humans, precursor to Hidden Legacy
Silver Shark ★★★★★ Kinsmen #2, ebook, The Matrix as a PNR novelette.
A Mere Formality ★★★★☆ Kinsmen short
Fated Blades ★★½☆☆ Kinsmen #3, ebook
– Dragonsong ★★★★★ Dragonriders of Pern #3, Harperhall Trilogy #1, re-read, YA, fun!
– Dragonsinger: Harper Of Pern ★★★★★ Dragonriders of Pern #4, Harperhall Trilogy #2, re-read, YA, fun as well! Dragonsong and Dragonsinger should be read back-to-back.
– Dragondrums ★★★★☆ Dragonriders of Pern #6, Harperhall Trilogy #3, re-read, YA, the coming-of-age story of Piemur.
– Dragonsdawn ★★★★☆ Dragonriders of Pern #9, chronologically #1, the colony ships arrive on Pern, it all begins here.
– Dragonseye ★★★★☆ Dragonriders of Pern #14, chronologically #3, set just before the Second Pass, this was a new one for me and I enjoyed it!

I will eventually continue with Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern next year and then switch back to reading in publication order, I‘ll see. But first I will tackle my planned January buddy reads. Too many already! But I tried very hard not to plan too many other books and to leave space for mood reading and to catch up with my TBR and NetGalley piles.

Currently reading:
– Life on Earth, audio, TBR pile — I am about halfway, I think. I love listening to David Attenborough, although the narrative isn‘t terribly exciting. This probably works better as an illustrated book or a TV documentary.

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– The Witcher, Season 2 finished ★★★★★ — Now the waiting! When will the 3rd season start? 
– The Expanse, S6, Ep. 1+2 ★★★★¾ — will catch up in January!
– Foundation, S1, Ep. 2+3 ★★★★¼ — ditto!
– Wheel of Time, Season 1 finished ★★★¾☆ — the episodes got progressively better. I am actually looking forward to season 2.
– Infiltration (Invasion), Season 1 finished ★★★☆☆ — pretty forgettable (aka I watched the last episode last week and already struggle to remember how it ended).

The Quantum Magician (The Quantum Evolution Book 1) by Derek Künsken Leviathan Falls (The Expanse, #9) by James S.A. Corey Silent Blade (Kinsmen, #1) by Ilona Andrews Silver Shark (Kinsmen, #2) by Ilona Andrews A Mere Formality by Ilona Andrews Fated Blades (Kinsmen, #3) by Ilona Andrews Dragonsong (Pern Harper Hall series) by Anne McCaffrey Dragonsinger Harper Of Pern (Pern Harper Hall series) by Anne McCaffrey Dragondrums (Pern Harper Hall series) by Anne McCaffrey Dragonsdawn (Pern Dragonriders of Pern, #6) by Anne McCaffrey Dragonseye (Pern, #14) by Anne McCaffrey 

Happy New Year to all of you!

My Reading Goals for 2022

I wanted to concentrate on my TBR shelf, specifically my owned books, in 2021. That failed spectacularly, as I committed to a lot of buddy reads. So I will try that one again in 2022.

Read one owned book per month from my physical bookshelf

I have 213 books on my owned-bookshelf. About a third of those are paperbooks, that I really would like to diminish to the point of being able to get rid of one of my bookshelves. Sounds odd, I know. Normally readers talk about getting more and nicer bookshelves. I have a small apartment with too much furniture and I desire a more minimalist and cleaner look. So, books… all the covers link to the goodreads pages of those books.

Clean up that NetGalley Shelf

I have some NetGalleys that are ridiculously old. I managed to read some of them in 2021, but not as many as I wanted. I really have to have a go at them and either read or abandon them in 2022. It would really be nice to actually catch up with the current ones.

Reading Writers of Colour / BIPOC

Whilst I do not plan to join the reading challenge again next year, I do want to keep reading the authors already on my owned shelf, for example…

Next in Series

Then there are those series that I started once upon a time, wanted to continue, but never did or never finished…

That should keep me busy next year… oh, yes, and I decided to finally attempt that re-read of The Dragonriders of Pern. I re-read the first trilogy in 2020, plus some shorter stories. Just now, in December, I re-read the Harperhall trilogy and continued with some books that are set earlier in the timeline. I stopped reading the series in the mid 90s, so there is also a neat pile of books that I have never read. And I am sure there will be a fair number of buddy reads in my future.

Top Ten Tuesday—the ten best books of 2021

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This week‘s topic / December 28: Best Books I Read In 2021

These books haven‘t necessarily been released in 2021, that‘s just when I read them… I left out all of my re-reads of Dragonriders of Pern, The Expanse, The Imperial Radch, etc. etc.:

Rovers by Richard Lange — A horror book with a different take on vampires. Of Mice and Men with vampires and a biker gang. 

Shards of Earth (The Final Architects Trilogy, #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky — Space opera with a touch of The Expanse and Babylon 5, with a great ensemble cast on a scrappy scavenger ship, fighting against the odds and pretty much everything else. The proverbial underdogs against the universe.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir — Mark Watney in space! And he sciences the sh*t out of his situation… so, yes, very much reminiscent of The Martian. And then some. I loved it and could barely put it down. So much fun! 

The Prefect (Prefect Dreyfus Emergency, #1) by Alastair Reynolds — On the surface this comes along as a police procedural in a SF setting. Dreyfus is a cop with a strong moral code of right and wrong, committed to justice. My first association was Miller from The Expanse, with a bit of Blade Runner and minus any projectile weapons. Space opera, ultimately, with the many and very varied habitats of the Glitter Band, artificial intelligences, body modifications, uplifted mammals, many political systems, states of being and an elaborate polling system — fascinating! 

David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa — Gods have rained down on Lagos, the capital of Nigeria. We enter the story some time later, into the dystopian society that has developed here in the aftermath. David Mogo, our 1st person narrator, is a demi-god working as an illegal godhunter. An old wizard with dubious morals sends David Mogo off to catch two high gods, Taiwo and Kehinde. David is in need of money to fix his roof, so off he goes, despite his misgivings about this wizard. Obviously things don’t go as expected. 

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries, #6) by Martha Wells — Muderbot is back in novella length. Snark and sarcasm abound. Just another crazy day, tracking down a murderer and making sure one’s humans don‘t come to harm. All the stars.

Leviathan Falls (The Expanse #9) by James S.A. Corey — A well done ending to the series. I did not expect it to go into the direction it did, so that was satisfying. It ends bittersweet, with some sadness, but also hope.

Revelation (Matthew Shardlake, #4) by C.J. Sansom — Historically pretty sound, as far as I can tell. Very homogenous. Full of suspense towards the end, could not put it down anymore. The murders are gruesome and reminiscent of a famous 90s movie. With the context of Henry VIII, his dissolution of the monasteries and the religious upheaval of that time it works well.

Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, #6) by Patricia Briggs — The FBI shows up at the doorstep of Anna and Charles and asks for help. A village in the mountains has disappeared and something potentially evil lurks in the woods.

The Whale Library by Zidrou,  Judith Vanistendael — Pretty watercolours, a mature story about a whale who contains a large library, a postman delivering sea mail, his wife and a smattering of sailors, pirates, fish, sea turtles, octopi and more…

Besides this one I also read some very good more traditional graphic novels. But that probably needs another entry…

Wrapping up that challenge…

I don‘t think I will adding anything else to this challenge, so here is a round-up of the #ReadBIPOC2021 challenge. I finally turned to some books that had lingered much too long on my TBR already and discovered something new as well. Definitely a good challenge

Reading Writers of Color 2021

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JanuaryBloodchild — Becoming — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/1…

My first Octavia Butler and it was good. Butler voices her surprise in the afterword, that readers see this as a story of slavery. But are we looking at symbiosis or at a parasitic relationship? Is it really consent in a situation, where your personal rights have been curtailed and there are no equal rights? I think not. Interesting. And worth reading. 

I also enjoyed the audiobook narrated by Michelle Obama. I watched a short documentary with her about the Becoming booktour as well. Obviously she has a lot of important things to say about empowerment, education, equal rights—you name it—, but my primary interest really was to get to know her a little better and look behind the facade. Reading about the banana yellow car of her husband, for example. Or about going to couple‘s counseling. And I enjoyed the ride quite a bit, up until the part where she and her husband embarked on their presidential campaign. 

FebruaryThe Story of Human Language  — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
It was interesting, even with some bits in between that dragged a bit. The accompanying pdf was open most of the time, while I listened to the lectures. Good enough to consider further offerings by The Great Courses.

MarchDavid Mogo, Godhunter — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
One of the 5-star reads of 2021. Let‘s call it Godpunk. Gods have rained down on Lagos, the capital of Nigeria. We enter the story some time later, into the dystopian society that has developed here in the aftermath. David Mogo, our 1st person narrator, is a demi-god working as an illegal godhunter. This is really 3 novellas stuck together. I learned a lot about Nigeria and Lagos, looking up something or other frequently.

AprilDawn — Elatsoe — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…

My second visit with Octavia E. Butler. I liked Bloodchild, but Dawn didn‘t work for me. Struggling with consent issues again. The book hasn‘t aged well. The plot felt too simplistic, there was no real suspense, no great twists or massive surprises.

Elatsoe came recommended by a friend. Yes, it‘s Young Adult, not my favourite genre. But it looked interesting. Author and female main character are Lipan Apache. And while I didn‘t bite my nails, the story was not bad and the writing was good. Essentially it‘s UF/magical realism, set in our place and time, with ghosts, vampires and fae added to the mix. My favourite gadget: instant teleportation via fae ring.

JuneA Dead Djinn in Cairo — The Haunting of Tram Car 015 — A Master of Djinn — The Murders of Molly Southbourne — Farmhand, Vol. 1: Reap What Was Sown — Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1 — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…

The month of by P. Djèlí Clark. Great stuff. Egypt, Cairo, Djinns, ghuls, sorcerers, magic, airships, gas light, aerial trams… steampunk plus electricity. A fun universe.

Molly Southbourne was weird, disturbing, creepy. Slightly disgusting in parts. It was like a train wreck—pretty horrible, but I couldn‘t look away. The writing is very good though. I was totally immersed in the story, the characters and Molly‘s world.

Both comics were good, if not Earth shattering..

JulyDominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
Reading this anthology took a while. It is a very strong anthology. Even the stories that didn‘t fully grab me gave me plenty to think about. Recommended! 

AugustRosewater — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
My second Tade Thompson of the year. An alien lands on Earth, burrows into the ground and presents as a illuminated dome. A shanty town develops around it. Eventually there is a opening through which something escapes and heals people. A city called Rosewater springs up around the alien dome, benefitting from these regular healings. We follow Kaaro, a „sensitive“, in the employ of some shady secret agency. I can appreciate the inventive world building, but the rest was a slog. The whole thing felt pretty pointless to me and I actively disliked Kaaro.

OctoberWas weiße Menschen nicht über Rassismus hören wollen – non-fiction — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
Alice Hasters is a German journalist, writing about institutionalized racism in Germany, drawing from her own experiences growing up in Cologne. I don‘t think this book has been translated into English. The title would be: What white people don’t want to hear about racism (but should know). I liked the book. Hasters writes well, narrates well, gives good examples and presents her arguments objectively. The book doesn‘t delve deeply into the topic and is surprisingly non-critical. Quiet a short piece, a bit on the shallow side. A good starting point.

Sorry for not linking it all properly, I felt a bit lazy… Anyway, good challenge, I enjoyed taking part and had fun researching books for the various prompts. I found a few authors that I plan to pick up again.

Did you take part in any entertaining challenges this year? Which challenges are you planning to takle next year?

Wrap-up July

My July was of middling success. I really enjoyed Shards of Earth, it‘s one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I decided to DNF One Last Stop and Left Hand of Darkness for now, as I really couldn‘t work up any motivation to continue with either of them. Reading Volumes 2 and 3 of Ascender by Jeff Lemire was a lot of fun. The artwork is still stellar and the plot was enjoyable. And I watched some good movies in July.

Novels read in July:

Shards of Earth (facilitator), ebook, ★★★★★ Great fun!
Questland, ebook, Netgalley, ★★★¼☆ LitRPG, Tolkien meets Jurassic Park, not terribly exciting.
– The Voyage Of The Beagle, ebook, ★★¾☆☆, mostly skimmed through this.
One Last Stop (author of Red, White & Royal Blue), ebook, DNF at 19%, ★★¾☆☆, not interested enough to finish…
– Nightstalkers, ebook, ★★☆☆☆ Sharkweek. Bring on the crazy!
The Left Hand of Darkness, ebook, TBR pile, DNF at 20%, ★¾☆☆☆

Comics: (Mostly single issues of 25-30 pages each)
– Snow Angels #1Snow Angels #2Snow Angels #3Snow Angels #4Snow Angels Season Two #1, KU, ★★★☆☆, family in an ice trench. Dystopia. Hunting, blood, fighting and feeling…
– Ascender #8Ascender #9Ascender #10 ★★★★★+, TBR pile, fabulous conclusion to Vol. 2! 
– Ascender #11Ascender #12Ascender #13Ascender #14 ★★★★☆, fairly predictable ending.
– Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Vol. 2: Avengers of the New World, TBR pile, #ReadBIPOC2021, ★½ ☆☆☆ DNF at 68 pages, 23%. Missing a read thread and homogenous narrative.

Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Vol. 2 Avengers of the New World by Ta-Nehisi Coates Shards of Earth (The Final Architects Trilogy, #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky Snow Angels #1 (comiXology Originals) by Jeff Lemire Snow Angels #2 (comiXology Originals) by Jeff Lemire Snow Angels #3 (comiXology Originals) by Jeff Lemire Snow Angels #4 (comiXology Originals) by Jeff Lemire Snow Angels Season Two #1 (comiXology Originals) by Jeff Lemire Ascender #8 by Jeff Lemire Ascender #9 by Jeff Lemire Ascender #10 by Jeff Lemire 
Ascender #11 by Jeff Lemire Nightstalkers (Meg #5) by Steve Alten The Voyage Of The Beagle (Illustrated) by Charles Darwin Ascender #12 by Jeff Lemire Ascender #13 by Jeff Lemire Questland by Carrie Vaughn Ascender #14 by Jeff Lemire One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin 

Movies watched:
– A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood ★★★★★ Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers.
– Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ★★★★★ Quentin Tarantino is a god.
– The Homesman ★★★★¾ Hilary Swank / Tommy Lee Jones, Western
– Blood Red Sky ★★★★☆ Unusual horror movie, vampires on a plane.
– Playing with Sharks ★★★★☆ National Geographic documentary
– The Tomorrow War ★★★½☆ Military SF, aliens conquering Earth, Chris Pratt does a good job in a CGI slosh-fest. Not brilliant, but entertaining.

September Wrap-up

Towards the end of the year my reading always seems to go down. Not sure why. Anyhow, I just finished one audio and will post the review later. And I am about to start the next audio. I have one credit left with Audible and yet again I am contemplating to cancel my membership. Sometimes I enjoy listening to audio, but most of the time it feels more like a chore to sit and listen. My listening comprehension is not as good as my reading comprehension and I do have to make more of an effort to understand and follow the stories.

There are a few notable exceptions. One exception are the Peter Grant novels—not because they are fun, but because they are so excellently narrated. And the Expanse novels by Corey were a fun ride as audiobooks. So there is at least one more audiobook in my future, for that I would revive my Audible—the last Expanse novel, Leviathan Falls, to be published sometime in 2021…

So, what did I read in September?

Buddy reads:
– Mindtouch, ebook, ★★★★★, pastoral SF, non-sexual not-quite-romance, finding your place in the world… Another one of Hogarth‘s offerings in her Pelted Universe.
– Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5), ebook, ★★★★½, all the Ilona Andrews fans go „Yay“. Enough said.
– Sourdough (zombie), ebook, ★★★★☆, techy San Francisco and a mystical sourdough starter. This made me bake.
– The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, ebook, ★★★¾☆, solitude, books, family, trivia and romance.

Comics, aka my guilty pleasure:
– Captain America: Sam Wilson Vol. 1: Not My Captain America, ★★★☆☆, Sam Wilson takes over as Cap. And turns into a werewolf. The bad guy is Donald Trump in disguise.
– Pretty Deadly #1, ★☆☆☆☆, weirdWestern, allover the place, no plot.

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5) by Ilona Andrews Captain America Sam Wilson Vol. 1 Not My Captain America by Nick Spencer Pretty Deadly #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers, #1) by M.C.A. Hogarth The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman Sourdough by Robin Sloan 

My bookish week

I am currently buddy reading this ebook:

Sourdough by Robin Sloan (Goodreads Author)

Good so far. I feel the urge to bake! Hermann came out of the fridge last evening for a feeding. I am going to feed him again tonight and commence with baking tomorrow, maybe… I‘ll see how my mood strikes me and if he sings!

My current Audible:

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Goodreads Author),  Shaun Taylor-Corbett (Narrator)

Very weird. I thought I had gotten a grasp on the plot. I made it halfway and something drastic happened and now I am lost at sea again. I am really slow with audiobooks, because it‘s not really my preferred medium, so it could be a while until I finish.

I keep thinking about cancelling my Audible subscription, but somehow I never manage to use up all my credits, even with taking the optional three-month-pauses.

And my current comic selection:

BLAME! Vol. 4 (BLAME! MASTER EDITION #4) by Tsutomu Nihei

I haven‘t made much headway with this yet. There is too little plot to hold my interest. The art is still good, but has become repetitive. Many fight scenes, where I find it difficult to understand what is going on exactly. We‘ll see how that progresses. I own the complete series and plan to read them all. Two more to come.

And I shopped at HUMBLE BUNLDE yesterday:

HUMBLE BOOK BUNDLE: DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: R.A. SALVATORE SHOWCASE

This series keeps popping up on my Goodreads feed, so I snatched up this opportunity. I got the smallest bundle, which is not much of a loss at 84 cents, if I don’t like the books. Unfortunately the books are only available as pdf or epub, which means I will read them on my iPad. Not my preferred reading device. But oh well, they came at a good price. Drawback #2, the books start in the middle of the series. I guess I will be adventurous and simply jump into the action midway!