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Some notes about the first six fiction reads for #20BooksofSummer – the two non-fiction books I read as part of this challenge can be found over here.

 

Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam

Opening on the eve of the millennium, when the world as we know it is still recognisable, we meet the nine-year old narrator as he flees the city with his parents, just ahead of a Y2K breakdown

The novel is made up of a number of connected stories that take us through the life of this boy as he grows up and makes his way in a world that has changed in unspecified ways. By that I mean that although at each stage we are clear what particular issue he is dealing with, we don’t actually know what happened to leave the world in this state, which is a shame for me because I love all that detailed disaster stuff, but to be fair isn’t an issue for the story which I found very readable. Apparently it’s now taught in Australian schools which I found fascinating.

It’s always interesting to see references to Y2K in works of fiction; I spent a lot of my time at work leading up to the end of 1999 coming up with contingency plans should everything go pear-shaped, and we sometimes forget how much we worried given that everything turned out Ok in the end.

Anyway, this is worth reading if like me you can’t resist the post-apocalyptic thing.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

The online blurb for this is as shouty as you can get without being all caps:

the best-selling mystery from the author of the Magpie Murders, you’ve never read a crime novel quite like this

Oh wait, it does get the all caps treatment int he very next paragraph:

SHE PLANNED HER OWN FUNERAL. BUT DID SHE ARRANGE HER OWN MURDER?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the wrong question. The right question is did she know she was going to die imminently. This is a very good whodunnit with the quirk that the author is himself is a character in his own novel because he is writing a book about the lead detective, who is of course a maverick. Your feeling about this will depend on whether you like Mr Horowitz or not; I do, so all was fine. Some nice red herrings and a murderer and motive that I just didn’t see co,ing, so all very satisfying. Hoping this will become a series.

The Summer Children by Dot Hutchinson

Book 3 in the Collector Trilogy (although I think there might be a fourth on the way next year)

When Agent Mercedes Ramirez finds an abused young boy on her porch, covered in blood and clutching a teddy bear, she has no idea that this is just the beginning.

I loved the first two novels in the Collector trilogy (which I read last year but didn’t review because I wasn’t really reviewing anything for a significant period), partly because it wasn’t a standard trilogy – although many of the participants are the same the cases covered were entirely different, though just as creepy as each other. I devoured them all 🙂

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Book 1 in the Wayfarer series, and shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The ship, which has seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want.

Are you waiting for the but?

..She gets more than she bargained for.

Ta dah!

Such a good story, wonderful characters, believable world building and so well written. I like the mix of races, and spent a lot of time trying to imagine what some of the alien species actually looked like (and failed because my imagination is rubbish). A book with real heart and I am looking forward to reading the next two (already loaded on my kindle). Sci-fi at its best.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

A brilliant original high concept murder mystery from a fantastic new talent

and

Gosford Park meets Inception by way of Agatha Christie and Black Mirror

That’s ….. quite a pitch. I really liked this book, a mixture of sci-fi and crime novel with a clever concept and an intriguing mystery at the centre. Som of the characters are really horrible but they kind of have to be, and the protagonist has an agenda of his own which only becomes clear at the end and was somewhat of a surprise. One of those stories where it pays to just go along for the ride and not try to think about it too hard. Great fun.

I already know that I won’t read all of the books on my list, but I’m OK with that 🙂

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I have only covered five books above. That’s because although I also read You Were Never Really Here, I want to watch the film version and do a combined review. (Spoiler alert – the novella is awesome).

So to make it up to you here are my thoughts on a book that I had completely forgotten about, which os surprising because I loved it.

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

A femme fatale with an appetite for cruelty that will be difficult to surpass.

Our hero is in law enforcement and gets attacked as he faces down the serial killer, but she lets him live, though mutilated in body and messed up in mind. Our heroine is a young reporter brought in to cover a serial killer case. Our antagonist is a beautiful, intelligent and utterly cruel serial killer who manipulates everyone around her.

I liked her. Apart from the excessively gruesome violence of course.

So that’s my round-up. I hope to do individual reviews for the remaining books.

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20-booksSo as my reading is going pretty well this year I decided it was time that I took part in a challenge, and thought that this one (hosted by Cathy over at 746Books) was ideal. The twist is that I’ll be reading only books on my Kindle app; this doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on #ReadingMuriel2018 – I (foolishly) believe I can do both!

The challenge runs from 1 June to 3 September and seems quite flexible in terms of rules, and I have come up with an initial list which I reserve the right to change if something else grabs me at some point.

My twenty books, in no particular order) are:

  • You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames
  • Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam
  • All That Remains by Sue Black
  • The Boy on the Bridge by MR Carey
  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • Who Killed Sherlock Holmes by Paul Cornell
  • The Cathedral of Known Things by Edward Cox
  • Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell
  • Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys
  • The Keeper by Alastair Gunn
  • Horrorstor by Grady hendrix
  • Slow Horses by Mick Herron
  • The Summer Children by Dot Hutchinson
  • Head On by John Scalzi
  • I Still Dream by James Smythe
  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu
  • The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  • Gilded Cage by Vic James
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

That seems to me to be a good mix of crime, horror, sci-fi and non-fiction.

I have already started on my first book, All That Remains, and am thoroughly enjoying it, which bodes well. Look out for updates in my progress with the hashtag #20booksofsummer

 

smbigship250Even though my reading record this year has been appalling – I’ve only just limped into double figures having experienced the longest and most intense reading slump EVER – I’ve decided to sign up for the Sci-fi Experience as hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings.

It’s a gentle challenge in that there are no targets to aim for, it’s just about enjoying as much or as little science fiction in any format that you can. As such I think it’s a nice thing to help me start 2017 with some structure to my reading without the pressure of more traditional challenges.

As well as going to see Rogue One as soon as I can after it’s released, I already have the following books in the stacks from which I can pick and choose:

There’s also the finale of Westworld this week so I may have something to say about that also. Should all be fun.

buttonI had such fun taking part in the 2015 version of this challenge (I wrote my wrap-up post only the other day – you can find it here if you are interested) that I decided to take part again this year.

I’m going to stretch myself a little bit more this time around, and aim for the Fearless category, which means I have to read 11-15 horror books and if I succeed I will get a nifty badge.

I’m not doing a reading list for this as such, BUT because I’m planning to read along with and hopefully attend meetings of the Horror Book Club, I already have some books picked out which will fit in with this challenge, and these are:

  • January – The Troop
  • February – The House of Leaves (a re-read)
  • March – Anno Dracula (a re-read)
  • April – My Work is Not Yet Done
  • May –  The Heart Shaped Box (a re-read)

If I succeed with these I’ll be well on my way to meeting my goal, and I have a couple of unread Stephen King novels I can throw into the mix if I need to; should be good!

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 4.47.12 PMWhat did I say I was going to do?

As I said in my sign up post, I am aiming to be a Brave Reader, which means reading 6-10 books during the course of the year. My first quarterly update can be found here, the second one is here, and the third one is here.

How did I do?

My reading slump lasted almost until the end of the year, which was a real shame, but I did manage to read another three horror novels (two of which I haven’t reviewed as yet):

  • The Uninvited by Liz Jensen (light horror but creepy as hell)
  • Slade House by David Mitchell
  • The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King.

That brings my horror total for the year to 16 which is well above my goal of Brave Reader, so very pleased with that.

My membership of The Horror Book Club means I already have four horror titles slated for 2016 reading 😀

 

 

 

2016scifiexp250Once again, for good reasons, I’ve missed the first month of the Sci-fi experience (which runs from 1 December to 31 January) but I am going to make a point of reading and watching sci-fi in the time left.

Although, now that I think of it, I will be starting in December because the next book I’m planning to read on my Kindle app is The Three Body Problem, and I think I can get away with describing the new Star Wars movie as science fiction 🙂

But other than those I’m not making any reading lists except to say that what I will read will be stuff I already own at midnight on 31 December in line with challenges I’m taking part in in parallel (and which have sign-up posts of their own!)

May even get around to Flowers for Algernon like I said I was going to last time *cough*

tbr-final-dareAs is traditional at this time of year I have decided to sign up for what is almost certainly the last TBR Double Dog Dare. For those new to the concept, start reading here:

The TBR Triple Dog Dare works like this….

For the first three months of 2016 read only the books that were already in your TBR stack as of midnight December 31, 2015.

You can modify this any way you like, but I’m going to be a bit purist and stick to the principle as described, but with the added burden of buying no new books in the same three month period. It worked really well for me when I tried it out this year, although I will admit there was a bit of a spending spree on 1 April.

I’m running this alongside the Clean Your Reader Challenge, and so for TBR it will only be physical books that I’ll count towards my goal. I’m also not making any projected lists because, hey, where would I start?

However.

Last year I said that if nothing else I would finally read Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates. I didn’t. Will this be the year….

CLEAN YOURI took part in this challenge earlier this year where I think it lasted only a month, and had great fun (and cleared a load of books from my e-reader. This time around it lasts for 3 months but with very much the same goals – read as many of those “I don’t remember buying this” volumes on your reader as you can in the period.

I like making lists but I’m not going to for this one, simply because I have so many ebooks that just looking at them is a bit overwhelming, and trying to decide which ones I’m going to read will probably fry my brain and I have too much to do at this time of year to allow myself to become a dribbling wreck.

But I’m going to add an extra dimension by including the comics on my Comixology app – clearing some of them out would also be a good idea. So, as many as I can before 31 March, running concurrently with the TBR Dare which I’ll blog about separately.

Write-On-Review-a-ThonOops, totally forgot to report back on how I did with the review-a-thon. Can be summed up in one word = POORLY

By the end of this weekend I had aimed to write and publish reviews of the following; progress is noted alongside.

Over on Bride of the Screen God:

  • The Guest – DONE
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – umm…..
  • Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith – sorry, did you say something?
  • Senna – la la la can’t hear you

Here on Bride of the Book God

  • The Shining by Stephen King – DONE

I also intend to have written a post for this week’s Sunday Salon – sort of done in that I didn’t write on my own blog but posted a message on the Facebook page. Shameful 🙂

Write-On-Review-a-ThonThe Write On Review-a-Thon is a challenge hosted by Book Bumblings. From Friday through Sunday, we all band together and write as many reviews as possible. It’s a weekend for you to either catch up on reviews or get ahead on upcoming ones. It doesn’t matter if you write one review or 10 – if you write a review, you’re in 🙂

Join this month’s challenge here.

By the end of this weekend I aim to have reviewed the following:

Over on Bride of the Screen God:

  • The Guest
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith
  • Senna

Here on Bride of the Book God

  • The Shining by Stephen King

I also intend to have written a post for this week’s Sunday Salon.

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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