2013 ... 100 or bust

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2013 ... 100 or bust

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Editado: Dez 30, 2012, 9:33 am

I've managed to read more than 100 books for five years in a row ... I missed a year around 2007 (only read 50 or 60 books) for some reason, but read at least 100 books a year for several years before that ... but I didn't really keep track. I enjoy the conversations, and the record keeping that this site allows us to do ... and just being able to keep up with what I've read, and what I want to read in the future.

1) My first book of 2013 is an innocuous continuation of the Pot Thief series by J. Michael Orenduff. The Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence is the fifth story in the series about Hubert Shuze, an archaeologist/procurer of pots (i.e. "pot thief") who lives in and owns a pottery store in Albuquerque New Mexico. Dr. Orenduff borrows heavily from other authors (Block, Hearne to name a couple) but still writes interesting stories and characters. If you liked Bernie Rhodenbarr ... you should try these stories. I love the settings and the archaeology.

Dez 30, 2012, 10:51 am

Welcome back! I'm looking forward to following your thread again (and hoping that 2013 is much, much better for you than 2012).

Jan 1, 2013, 3:16 am

Hi Keith, looking forward to following your reading in 2013!

Jan 1, 2013, 8:14 pm

2) The Red Thumb Mark R. Austin Freeman, written in 1907, introduces Dr. John Thorndyke and his assistant Christopher Jervis. It is claimed that Thorndyke was the first literary forensic scientist ... although Sherlock Holmes may have some say in that ... I found Thorndyke to be just a bit of an insufferable bore ... and the women! Hand-wringing and fainting spells ... The science was good, and some terrific information on the early history and problems with fingerprints.

Jan 1, 2013, 8:36 pm

Hey, Keith, you are getting a good start on the new year!

Jan 3, 2013, 8:17 am

3) The Treble Wore Trouble Mark Schweizer; look I KNOW it's a series of cozy little mysteries, I KNOW it's got a lot of bad puns and cutesy names, I KNOW the mystery is usually very light .... but dammit these books are FUNNY. This is, I think, the tenth in the series, and I've laughed, hard, at something in every one. Easy fast reads, cheap on the e-readers (but not so cheap for those who want real books unfortunately). Try one if you've got an amazon or B&N gift card for christmas and are looking for something easy and light for your reader.

Jan 3, 2013, 7:45 pm

Everyone needs something easy to read sometimes. For me lately it has been zombie books!

Jan 3, 2013, 8:21 pm

Oh, I got the first in that series on my iPad on the strength of your original recommendation, but forgot all about it! The paperbacks are in my face and do demand more attention...

Jan 5, 2013, 4:21 pm

4) Double Crossing by Meg Mims; I have to say I was disappointed by this story. It won the 2012 Best New Novel Spur Award ... and it was available on the kindle and it wasn't very expensive. So I had high expectations. Think teen-christian-romance in a western setting. The bad guys were a bit too obvious, and the good guy was named "Ace Diamond". Nuff said?

Ms. Mims left lots of loose ends, so I fully expect sequels ... and I liked it well enough that I might even read them ... but don't expect too much if you do decide to read this story.

Jan 5, 2013, 6:00 pm

Ace Diamond?! Excellent ;-)

Jan 7, 2013, 2:46 am

5) Hospital Station is the first Sector General story by James White. These books were mostly written in the 60's and 70's, and I read the first couple of them as a teenager. Set on a multispecies intergalactic hospital, the books are a series of connected short stories. This first one has held up very well ... White manages to write without references to computers, weapons, and/or communications devices (which is where most books show their age in this genre).

Editado: Jan 13, 2013, 2:07 pm

6) The Hobbit by Tolkien; in honor of the release of the movie and in light of the fact that I hadn't reread this story in probably 30 years ... and it still inspires that sense of wonder and awe, that one man could imagine that world and tell those stories set in that world. Now of course, decades later, we can marvel at the hordes of imitaters and the talk about the dawn of the age of fantasy ... for me it's just a terrific story that I love to revisit occasionally.

Jan 13, 2013, 6:12 pm

It must have been that long since I read it last as well. I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago and it has prompted me to find my old copy again. But I know I bought a beautifully illustrated version for the kids in the 80's(?) so I might try that one instead.

Jan 13, 2013, 6:16 pm

I enjoy the Sector General stories a lot--I think I've managed to reacquire most of them in the last 5 years. I agree, they do hold up well.

And I reread The Hobbit before seeing the movie in December, using my deluxe boxed 25th anniversary edition.

Jan 13, 2013, 11:29 pm

I read The Hobbit to Mr Bear a few months ago, and he did enjoy it. It's quite a more "difficult" read than most modern books for kids, there are long stretches without action, and it uses proper English (the horror! the horror!) that meant I stumbled over words/phrases for quite a while into I got into the swing of it. But I had a great time revisiting it, and we all enjoyed the movie.

I was introduced to the book in 1979/1980 by my teacher, who read it out to us over several months. Started a lifelong love of fantasy (which morphed into sci-fi at a later stage), and I wish I could tell him that the Tolkien love has continued on to another generation, and it's All His Fault. ;)

Jan 15, 2013, 10:37 am

7) Apocalypse Z by Manel Loureiro; this story was set in Spain (and a knowledge of Spanish geography is helpful) and is a fairly typical zombie apocalypse story. One man, an attorney, manages through luck and quick-wittedness to survive the collapse of society. Then of course he must journey to find other survivors ... he does, and finds both good and bad ones. Anyhow ... a bit repetitive on the gruesomeness of the whole thing, but otherwise, nicely done characters and a believable ;-) tale. Cliffhanger ending points to sequels.

Jan 15, 2013, 2:47 pm

I thought the movie was a great adaption of The Hobbit I admit it didn't stand up for me after a reread but I loved it when I was a kid.

Jan 15, 2013, 5:45 pm

Apocalypse Z is waiting patiently on my reader. Nothing I like more than a good zombie story!

Editado: Jan 17, 2013, 10:14 am

8a) John Scalzi's The Human Division Episode #1: The B-Team; can't really count this as a whole book. Scalzi has leapt into the publishing-books-in-episodes market (and thus making $1 an episode ... and he's already up to 13 planned episodes). Anyhoo it was typical Scalzi, very good and very entertaining with enough hard science to satisfy those among us who crave those kinds of SF stories. I'll probably buy the rest as they are released ... sigh

Jan 16, 2013, 6:45 am

I just read (and loved) Redshirts by John Scalzi. Any recommendations on what to try next?

Jan 16, 2013, 3:07 pm

have you read Old Man's War? There's three or four books in that series. Reckoned as his best work. I also greatly enjoyed Agent to the Stars ... it was kind of silly and Scalzi claims he wrote it just to see if he could write for a living ... but I thought it was pretty good.

Editado: Jan 17, 2013, 10:05 am

speaking of Scalzi, he has an excellent blog that I regularly read ...

Jan 17, 2013, 2:41 pm

I have started following him on twitter, his blog is not far behind :) making a note of the recs, thanks!

Jan 20, 2013, 5:53 am

I follow Scalzi on twitter too, but haven't read any of his books yet! Thanks for the recommendations.

Jan 20, 2013, 9:36 am

a word of caution ... Scalzi unashamedly claims Robert Heinlein as an inspiration. So ... if Heinlein offends you ... I don't think Scalzi is nearly so sex-fixated as Heinlein was, but still, you've been warned.

Jan 20, 2013, 6:11 pm

My main Heinlein beef: the gorgeous, intelligent, sexually adventurous young women who fall in love with balding older men (who are apparently highly intelligent, but I have my doubts). Wish fulfillment, anyone?

Editado: Jan 23, 2013, 10:19 am

8b) The Human Division Episode #2: Walk the Plank John Scalzi; continuing the saga of ... wait no, this episode merely introduces a new storyline using playwriting style (I guess that's what its called). Interesting and short. After finishing it in about 20 minutes my first thought was "I paid a buck for that?". Still ... I'll continue to read this episodic series.

Jan 28, 2013, 1:40 pm

9) California Gold John Jakes; loved the history, hated the turgid prose and the protagonist. Macklin Chance managed to hurt and drive away everyone who ever cared for him ... up til the end, and then he had a big change of heart and they all lived happily ever after. Bleh. A terrific story very poorly told ... but I'm glad I read it. I learned a lot about California's history, both good and bad. Jakes is well known for that type of story and until now I've avoided him.

Jan 28, 2013, 3:53 pm

Oo book bullet dodged :) The only good thing about a book review for a bad book is I know I can safely never read it!

Editado: Fev 1, 2013, 8:43 am

I have mixed feelings about giving the book a bad review ... there was so much GOOD stuff in the story ... but the protagonist was just so STUPID! A rags to riches story, he worked in shipping, oil, citrus, and when he became rich he financed some of the first movie companies. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake, auto racing, etc etc. But his relationships just killed me ... he could never quite figure why it was HIS fault and not everybody else s. Until it was time to wrap up the book of course.

Fev 18, 2013, 12:10 pm

10) The Coroner's Lunch Colin Cotterill; recommended here on LT ... I'm so glad I finally gave this series a try. Dr. Siri is magnificent! I love the setting and the characters. The conflict between the eastern spiritual traditions and the lifeless communism overlain on top ... I'll be reading more!

Editado: Fev 19, 2013, 4:05 am

Oh, it was a good book! I must dig up a copy of the second one, and add it to Mt TBR one day...

Fev 20, 2013, 2:52 pm

LT led me to Dr. Siri too. I have the 5th book here from the library, waiting for me to get around to it. The setting is great.

Fev 24, 2013, 7:41 am

11) Tears in Rain Rosa Montero; if you are familiar with PKD's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? then you will recognize many of the themes in this story. The main character is a replicant detective who is counting down the days of her life ... aliens, tough but sensitive cop, etc. are all here. The world-building is exceptional, the characters are easy to like and to root for ... there are a few flaws, but nothing to keep me from wholeheartedly recommending this book.

Fev 28, 2013, 12:21 pm

12) Fly By Night Ward Larsen; the CIA has lost a top secret drone in the Sudan ... the NTSB has sent Travis McGee .. err .. "Jammer" Davis to investigate. A beautiful Italian doctor makes an early appearance, as does a crazy Islamic fundamentalist imam, a disgraced but still patriotic ex-pilot, and an assorted cast of characters that help "Jammer" save the day ... predictable and satisfying. Sequels expected.

Editado: Fev 28, 2013, 12:44 pm

as I count up my books read, I realize that I am falling behind my pace if I want to make it to 100 for the year. I seem to be reading more slowly .. perhaps savoring a bit more that I usually do, or something. I have no doubt that as summer approaches, I'll catch up ... but for now I'm just not too worried about it.

Fev 28, 2013, 7:44 pm

Last year I did the same. I read less often and more slowly than previously.But it didn't matter. I didn't get any threatening messages from the LT police! ;O)

Mar 5, 2013, 10:38 am

13) The Time of the Dark Barbara Hambly; sometimes when you're reading a story, be it fantasy, mystery, or whatever and you're not really into it, but it's good enough to keep reading ... you get smacked by a scene that just absolutely rivets you ... brings tears to your eyes because its so good. That happened in this story ... a fantasy with a terrific Gandalfish character and two US citizens transported into a dark fantasy world to make their way as best they can (not original exactly but different enough to keep me interested). Hambly is known as a very good author of fantasy and also her Benjamin January mysteries are supposed to good (aside from being obvious reads for the 'month' challenges). I think I will have to continue reading this fantasy series ...

Mar 18, 2013, 4:58 pm

14) The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid J. Michael Orenduff; my favorite part of this series is the archaeology tips and information that Dr. Orenduff sprinkles throughout the story ... along with the tie-in to his title characters. Funny and terrific as usual.

15) Trapped Kevin Hearne; I find that I kind of like the same things about this as I do about the one listed above ... in Hearne's book, it's the mythology. Sure the story is good I guess, but that's not why I read them.

16) The Agony Column Earl Derr Biggers; this charming little story combines romance with mystery on the eve of World War I. An easy read, I recommend this story highly ...

Editado: Abr 3, 2013, 10:14 am

17) The Black Company Glen Cook; meh ... not a bad read, but the story never really grabbed me. It was a bit disjointed, and I thought the characters were underdeveloped. Cook's writing style has been criticized, and I probably shouldn't have read those criticisms before reading the book, as I probably wouldn't have noticed ... but once I knew about it I saw it everywhere ... I'll continue the series, but only because I bought the trilogy. I actually enjoy his Garrett P.I. series more ... (first book in that series is Sweet Silver Blues)

6 cont.) John Scalzi's Human Division is wrapping up. We have one episode left ... and a LOT of loose ends to tie up. I don't see how he can do it satisfactorily ... but I'm ok with sequels. I'm just enjoying his writing.

Editado: Jun 9, 2013, 7:02 am

been slow posting reviews ... have read and finished a few books though


18) Raven Black by Ann Cleeves; picked up the rec from someone ... thanks! First in a series set in the Shetland Islands. Went to google maps to find them; they're off the northern tip of the British Isles ... so yeah, pretty extreme winters I'm sure, with a lot of windy stormy weather the rest of the year. Anyhow, the story was pretty good, although it did drag a bit at times. Definitely will pick up the next in the series...

next up was

a couple of rereads

19) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ... yeah it had been a few years since I read that story. Still humorous, still drags you in ... all these years later.

20) The Caine Mutiny Herman Wouk; in my opinion THE best WWII fiction novel ever written; AND probably my favorite novel ever. Deserved the Pulitzer, deserves to be reread every couple of years, deserves to read by all ... etc.

ah yes

21) Pacific Vortex Clive Cussler; written in 1973 (which makes it the first Dirk Pitt), but not published until 1983 ... which moves it down to 4th or 5th in publishing order. I can see why it wasn't published in 1973 ... it's a piece of crap. Nobody would buy it. Dirk Pitt is a chauvinistic pig etc etc. Look I LIKE most of Cussler's stories featuring Pitt and gang; my rec is to skip this one. It'll put you off the rest if you aren't familiar with them.


22) Leviathan Wakes James S.A. Corey; pretty terrific story here! Critically reviewed by some, mainly because the author is actually a combination of two guys, one of which has/had the audacity to have worked for gasp George R.R. Martin. Martin writes FANTASY, so anything remotely having to do with him CAN'T possibly be hard science fiction. Can it?? Nevertheless I really liked this space operatic story and will eagerly snatch the two sequels that are already published ...

done for now

Editado: Jun 26, 2013, 9:54 am

23) White Nights Ann Cleeves; second in her series about the Shetland Islands and Detective Jimmy Perez ... very much dependent on place and setting, in the end this was just a sordid love triangle murder mystery. Liked it well enough and Perez is a terrific character.

Jun 15, 2013, 10:54 pm

Oh, I've also heard good things about Ann Cleeves. Nice to get another recommendation for her books.

Editado: Jun 26, 2013, 8:02 am

finished a couple of decent westerns ...

24) Snowbound Richard Wheeler; fictional chronicle of John C. Fremont's 4th expedition in the winter of 1849. Aided and abetted by his prominent politician father-in-law, Thomas Hart Benton, he was determined to find a 38th parallel railroad route to the west coast ... in the dead of winter. Repeatedly warned by his own men, by experienced scouts, etc that winter was NOT the time... The result was predictable, his entire mule train lost along with most of the gear, 10 men lost, and Fremont blaming his inexperienced men, and his guide. The story paints a pretty poor picture of the man, and illustrates how political influence can prop up even the poorest of leaders. Worth reading.

25) The Cowboy and the Cossack Claire Huffaker; Nancy Pearl recommends this as a lost classic and since I had read it as a teenager and remembered liking it very much ... I thought I would give it a go. Terrific story as I remembered ... set in the late 1890's, a group of Montana cowboys are tasked with delivering a herd of cattle to a remote Siberian city ... they are met and escorted by a group of Russian Cossacks. Told from the viewpoint of a young cowboy, it is also a coming-of-age story. Pretty rough language for a juvenile book, and yet that is where it really belongs IMO. Very highly recommended.

Jun 26, 2013, 9:27 am

curse it a book bullet, noting down the The Caine Mutiny

Jul 20, 2013, 10:53 pm

Good to know you liked Leviathan Wakes, as it is sitting in the tbr pile here.

Jul 25, 2013, 9:44 am

26) Red Bones Ann Cleeves, third in the series, left me a little meh ... we do see one of the minor characters grow and mature, which is nice, but otherwise not as good as the first two in the series.

on the other hand

27) Blue Lightning Ann Cleeves; wow! Loved the setting (remote lighthouse converted into a bird-researcher observatory), the story (murders with a twist), and the ending packs a punch. No spoilers here ... but expect to shed a few tears. Worth the wait.

Editado: Jul 25, 2013, 9:45 am

as I sift through my books, sorting those which I MUST keep against those I just would like to keep, but should probably find a way to dispose of ... I found a couple of old Elvis Cole stories, and the quick rereads reminded me of the frustration I felt with the series years ago.

**these are numbers 6 & 7 I think, I read the first 5 in the series as well (which as I recall were pretty good), I just happen to have copies of these 2 for some reason**

28) Sunset Express is terrific ... setting the scene and the mood of LA, the beauty and the ugliness, etc. A very satisfying ending, a fun action packed story ...

and then we get the next story in the series ...

29) Indigo Slam ... depressing, the settings aren't nearly as captivating, too much going on, I mean Russian mobsters AND Vietnamese terrorists .. come on. Still, I think I'll go back and reread the first few books, and also continue to read the later books. I can't remember where exactly I gave up on Elvis and his able assistant Joe Pike (a shameless rip-off of Robert Parker's Hawk character ... off course Spenser was a shameless rip-off of Chandler's Philip Marlowe ... so it goes), but these are fun easy reads, something I need as I prepare for the upcoming school year.

Editado: Jul 25, 2013, 9:47 am

oops missed reviewing

30) Zoo Station by David Downing; a fictional story set in pre-WWII in Berlin through the eyes of a British journalist. Very good! Our protagonist, although British, has a 12 year old son with a German mother ... which of course causes any number of tensions and anticipated future problems (since we already know how the big story plays out) ... I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

Jul 25, 2013, 10:05 am

still catching up

31) The Sign of the Four Conan Doyle; recently started watching the excellent TV series Sherlock, and wanted to reread some of the originals ... very enjoyable. Picking up a long-time favorite The Hound of the Baskervilles next.

32) A Dangerous Talent by Charlotte Elkins; I read Old Bones by Aaron Elkins many years ago (many many years) and remember liking it very much, so was not surprised by how much I liked THIS story ... even though it features different characters written by a different person ... well, I'm not going down THAT rabbit-trail, wondering about husband-wife author teams etc (although I DO find the father-son team of Stephen King & Joe Hill fascinating ... oops, steps OFF the trail). Anyhow, a good story set in an interesting locale, and oddly enough, the second book I've read this year set (at least partially) on the D.H. Lawrence ranch near Taos New Mexico (the first was The Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence).

Jul 25, 2013, 10:09 am

also a couple of forgettable fantasy stories I read a while back

33) Kitty and the Midnight Hour Carrie Vaughn; actually I'll probably look up the second in this series, simply because I liked the basic premise .. Kitty is a late night talk radio host, and uses her show to discuss the reality of werewolves, vampires, etc ... which of course ARE real ...

34) Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars Nick James; this one not so much ... interesting premise, but I never really cared about any of the characters or the plot. Lots of other stuff to read ...

Jul 25, 2013, 1:37 pm

TV Sherlock, the one with Benedict Cumberbatch, is awesome. It is making me want to re-read the books, too. I haven't since I was a teenager.

Ago 1, 2013, 10:21 pm

Yep, that's a great show. Loved it!

Ago 2, 2013, 9:26 am

I was just eyeing off The Hound of the Baskervilles on my shelves, I've slooooooowly been working my way through the series and that's the next one to read. The Benedict Cumberbatch series is great fun, I'm looking forward to the new season!