Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Year in Books (Part One)

I've kept lists of the books I have read for years and I usually post a goal for the new year along with some book challenges to tackle and a list of the books that were read during the year. Here we go with part one of "My Year in Books". I met my goal of reading 75 books and actually read 76, so kudos to me for reaching that goal. I am going to keep that same goal this year as well while secretly hoping to best it by one or two more books. Maybe you will find a few books you have or will enjoy from the list. Best to all in 2017!!

My 2016 Reading List, with quick comments about each one.
I reached my year end goal of reading 75 books!

  1. Mycroft Holmes Casebook by David Dickinson
A nice collection of detection stories, solved by Mycroft Holmes, brother of one of the most
famous detectives in the world. Conveniently available in electronic format (Kindle). Mystery.
  1. The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
The first book in a series with teenage twins (a brother and a sister) as the main characters who
have adventures with an ancient alchemist (who really was a historical figure, but these
adventures are fictional). Mythology and fantasy in a modern setting.
  1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Could be categorized as utopian fiction, aimed at the YA market, but interesting enough for
adults, too. Part of a Divergent series, which has also been made into a movie. Takes place in a
world where ones life path is determined in a special ceremony when a teenager. The world is
suffering the aftermath of some huge disaster.
  1. The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb
A nice Gothic piece which takes place in the present day. It has been called 'tourism horror' by
one reviewer, but I don't necessarily agree with the horror label, it is a good Gothic to me;
Heroine finds out about her true identity after moving in to the mansion left to her by her family
in an idealistic setting, discovers family secrets and all the rest that I love about the Gothic
  1. Fated (Alex Versus #1) by Benedict Jacka
While mourning the fact that there were no more Dresden Files books to read (I'd read them
all), a book loving friend sent me the first book of the Alex Verus series. Kind of a knock off of
the Dresden Files but has interesting characters that get involved in the paranormal in today's
  1. Homo Sylvanus by Amber D. Sistla
A Sci Fi novelette I gave a try to on Kindle because it was either free or it cost one dollar. About
genetic engineering, a father tries to help his teenage daughter illegally. I don't remember much
about it so that means, to me, it was kind-of forgettable.
  1. Detection by Gaslight by various, including Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert W. Chambers, Baroness Orczy, etc. (Victorian and Edwardian Crime Stories)
I absolutely loved this old collection of stories about Crime solving and “Occult” Detectives. I
never realized this was a category, but it opened up a new sub-genre to me that I realized I
enjoyed, Harry Dresden, Alex Verus, and the Greywalker Series with Harper Blaine, to mention
a few.
  1. The Life and Times of Jesus from Child to God by Joseph Lumpkin, a collection put together by the author from varied ancient sources telling mostly about the childhood of Jesus.

  2. Atlantis Rising Magazine volumes: 99, 100, 101, 112,113, 114
Atlantis Rising is a new age magazine that comes out 6 times a year. The kindle version is about
half the price of the printed version and makes for interesting middle of the night reading when
I am unable to sleep due to discomfort from a chronic health condition. I don't believe
everything I read in it, but it definitely gives one food for thought. I have been slowly catching
up on back issues on my kindle (all caught up now). My least favorite section is the astrology
because the lady goes on and on about it, so it is good for putting me to sleep, when I reach
that part.
  1. The Cabinet of Curiosities by Preston and Child (Agent Pendergast #3)
Wow, I did not know what I was getting myself into when I started this series last year. I was
browsing the audio book section of the local library and found the “Gideon” books by these
authors. I enjoyed listening to them in my car, so I started looking for other books by Preston
and Child as well. I have became obsessed with the Agent Pendergast series and have finished
them all, racing through them this year. I stayed up late way too many nights reading on and on.
Well worth the effort!! Now I am looking to read everything these guys have written, as a pair
and individually. This particular story is important to the rest of the series as it is when the
character Constance Green is introduced. She eventually becomes an important part of the
series. I am going to re-read this one in 2017, to make sure I did not miss any important plot
points about Constance and also because I know her appearance will be better understood in the
later books after I re-read it. Slow down while reading this one to integrate what comes in the following novels.
  1. Still Life with Crows by Preston and Child (Pendergast #4)
Another fast paced Pendergast novel, introduces Corrie Swanson, a character who also appears in later books in the series.
  1. Amazed by Grace by Sheri Dew
Inspirational reading from a well loved woman of faith.

  1. Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick
One of my most favorite books for the year. This book still “haunts me”. It is a bit surreal but it grabs you into unusual circumstances you are not really sure you understand and pulls you straight into the story. I'm still there on that island with these characters. Amazing.
  1. Haunted Utah by Andy Weeks
A collection of folklore and local ghost stories specific to Utah.

  1. Dinosaurs in the Attic by Douglas Preston
I told you I was searching out everything Preston and Child have written.....Preston writes about
his time employed at the Museum of Natural History in NYC. Quite interesting, and relevant to
the Agent Pendergast series, too, as the museum is the setting for several of the investigations in the novels.
  1. The Lost Stones by Paul Rimmasch
A novel exploring the possibilities and realities of the seer stones of the Jaredites, (which
the Utah crowd/LDS members can relate to).
  1. Adventure Stories #4 by Seabury Quinn and Others
A kindle freebie and pretty interesting if you like oldish literature, Conan Doyle, Kipling, and
such authors.
  1. Forget Me Not by Dieter F. Uchdorf
Inspirational reading from a well known and well loved religious leader.
  1. Lirael by Garth Nix
The second book in the Abhorsen series by Nix. I thought I really liked Sabriel, the star of the
first book in the series, but I realized I absolutely loved Lirael even more, after reading this
book. I also fell in love with the “disreputable dog”, a great character in this book. Could be
described as a zombie story for those that don't really like zombie stories or maybe a zombie
story that was written before zombie stories were “cool”. Nothing like the Walking Dead, which
I think is kind of boring and soap opera-ish (from only watching two episodes on TV, read
The Road by Cormac McCarthy instead, WD is a rip off of it.

  1. Brimstone by Preston and Child (Pendergast #5)
Another spine tingling, fast paced, Pendergast adventure.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays...Sparking your interest in books!!

Mixed in with my usual Fantasy/SciFi reading and my growing addiction to Richard Preston and Lincoln Child's action packed novels of the many faceted life of secret agent A.X.L. Pendergast, I recently managed to get in some non-fiction reading. The latest is entitled "Skeletons on the Zahara- A True Story of Survival" by Dean King. It was so gripping I found myself wanting to read during every spare minute I had. I have also been recovering from some new health challenges so I have had a bit more down time than usual trying to regain my health. Not good for so close to preparations for the holidays, but not something I have much control over. 

The story tells of a true event that happened in the early 1800's, of a trading ship Commerce, captained by a mostly, New England crew that took cargo across the Atlantic Ocean to sell and was shipwrecked on the rocky coast of northern Africa, on the edges of the Sahara desert. The crew were captured and taken as slaves by the indigenous peoples there and sold and traded to various masters. Most, but not all, of the crew obtained their freedom after the British consul in Morocco paid a ransom for them and because of one dedicated Arab owner who believed the Captain's word that it would be beneficial to them both if he brought the crew to 'civilization' in the city on the edge of the desert.

The book is based on journals, written afterward, of two of the crew that had these experiences, one of them being ship's Captain- James Riley. These journals were best sellers in their hey day of the early 1800's and the story was widely known then. The author, Dean King, actually went on a trek in 2001, sponsored by National Geographic, that roughly traveled the same route as the crew members did during their ordeal. 

The camel is a truly alien to us but it is an indispensable animal in these parts and although I don't think I would ever want the experience of herding, riding or eating the parts of one, this strange beast is a real blessing to people in these desert areas.

It is almost too awful to contemplate the trauma, both physical and mental these men endured. It is an amazing feat that they survived to tell about it, it was also eye opening to me to learn about cultures that many of us have no clue about. Even though the incident took place in 1815, the author traveled to the area and made the trek and knows first hand that much has remained the same in the nearly timeless sands of the Sahara.

Highly recommended- Skeletons on the Zahara- A True Story of Survival by Dean King.