2015 SFF Challenge Wrap Up

Ooops! I had completely forgotten to post the wrap up for last year’s reading challenge! It’s been sitting in my drafts all this time. Here it finally is in all it’s glory.

I had set myself 10 SFF books to read for the year 2015. I only managed to read six, but I really enjoyed all of them. The covers take you to my reviews.

The books I read (click the covers for reviews)

Ancillary Justice The Mad Ship The Goblin Emperor The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Swordspoint A Stranger in Olondria

The books I didn’t get to

City of Stairs The Magicians The Mirror Empire Feed

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot Readthrough
I also made good headway in my project of reading all of Christie’s Poirot books in order. I read:

The Big Four – 2 stars
Poirot’s Early Cases – 3 stars
The Mystery of the Blue Train – 3 stars
Black Coffee – 2 stars
Peril at End House – 4 stars

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2014 Wrap Up & 2015 Goals

It’s high time to look back at the past year, and also to plan a little ahead. You can watch the video, or just read the recap below.

2014 Wrap Up

This year I completely surpassed my 50 book reading challenge by reading a 104 books (26 512 pages)! This is the first time I’ve ever read over a 100 books in a year, and I read about 3 000 pages more than I’ve ever read in year.

Out of the 104 books:

  • 56 were books, 44 graphic novels, and 4 short stories
  • 67 (!) were written by men, 29 by women, and 8 by male/female teams.
  • 13 things (books, GNs) received 5 stars.

I read a lot of graphic novels, and A LOT of those were written by men. Usually my author gender divide pretty naturally settles to 50%-50%, so this year was a real surprise for me. This is something I need to pay attention to if I continue reading a lot of graphic novels and comic trade paperbacks.

I read 6,5 books from my 2014 High Fantasy reading challenge list (I finished the second half of The Lies of Locke Lamora this year). Btw, one of those books turned out not to actually be high fantasy – who would’ve thought? Outside of the challenge I also read one other high fantasy book (The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss) and 3 high fantasy short stories.

2015 goals

  • Talk more about books that I’ve actually read, so more reviews and wrap ups, less TBRs and hauls.
  • Read & review the books on my 2015 SFF Reading Challenge
  • Read 5 before I buy: I need to read 5 books from my physical TBR shelf before I can buy 1 book
  • Reach my Goodreads challenge goal of 60 books.

Have a great reading year 2015, everyone!

September Wrap-Up (2014)

September was a good reading month with a lot of 4 star reads. I read 5 books, 2 graphic novels, and 1 short story.

Rating system
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

My favorite post of the month

Review: Rebecca

This post is linked at “Best of the Bunch”, a monthly recap meme hosted by Always Lost in Stories.


Classic of the Month

Carmilla
Carmilla

By: Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
First published in 1871

Laura, a young girl living in a castle with her father somewhere in Eastern Europe, gains a companion from a beautiful girl called Carmilla, who, seemingly by chance, stays to live with them for a while.

Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but even being so old, the book is a quick & easy read. For a modern reader, there is no actual mystery as to what Carmilla is: this beautiful visitor suffers from a mysterious illness that causes her to move languidly and only rise from her bed late in the afternoon. I really loved reading the nightly vampiric visitations that our protagonist, Laura, is plagued with; they were sufficiently creepy.

The presence of lesbian subtext was also very interesting to find in such an old book. Carmilla feeds primarily on young, pretty women, and she seems to want them to love and adore her. It gives the character a sense of loneliness, this want to have someone care for her in the isolation of her immortality, even though she does plan to eventually kill her companions.

I very much recommend this book to fans of vampire literature and Victorian horror.
4 out of 5 stars


Books

Broken Homes
Broken Homes

(Peter Grant #4)
By: Ben Aaronovitch
First published in 2013
Genre: Urban fantasy police procedural

Police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant has to solve a murder case while continuing to navigate the magical politics of the gods and goddesses of the rivers of London.

The series continues on with great characters, a narrative voice filled with wry humor, and a great mix of wizards & police procedural. My current favorite urban fantasy series. Check out my video review here.
4 out of 5 stars

Keeping It Real
Keeping It Real

(Quantum Gravity #1)
By: Justina Robson
First published in 2006
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy mix

Cyborg agent Lila Black is assigned to protect Zal, an elven rock star, after he receives some threatening letters.

This was a real-life book club pick for September, and I have to say I wasn’t impressed. What with the cyborgs mixed with elves, I was expecting fast-paced action and a fun, easy read. Even though the book tried to deliver just that, it never quite managed to grab me. The writing felt clunky at times, and the relationship between Lila and Zal felt pretty forced. Honestly, I thought Lila had better chemistry with every single other character in the book than Zal.

So this one didn’t pull me in, and I probably wouldn’t have finished it if it hadn’t been for the book club. I won’t be continuing on with the series.
2 out of 5 stars

The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride

By: William Goldman
First published in 2008
Genre: Comic fantasy

Buttercup and Westley are in love, but when Westley is pronounced dead in the hands of a pirate, the grieving Buttercup agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck, whom she doesn’t love.

First I have to say that I love the movie, and can’t really separate it from the reading experience. These are pretty much the same story with some slight changes, and the movie version misses only one or two scenes from the book. So my opinions are definitely influenced by the movie.

The Princess Bride has great characters. Inigo Montoya is awesome both in book and movie form, and is perhaps my favourite character to follow. To be quite honest, I’m not sure I would have liked Westley that much if I hadn’t seen the brilliant portrayal by Cary Elwes so many times before.

There was one significant minus to the book when compared to the movie: the frame narrative. In the book, the author William Goldman tells of a fictitious William Goldman, who had this story read to him as a kid and now wants to give the book to his son as a birthday present. The problem is, William Goldman in the book is a total a-hole. The parts about his life were so bitter and annoying, with him going on about how he almost cheated on his wife with a hot actress, how his wife is a cold fish, how their son is fat, and so on, and so on… It just kept going.

Because of the bitter taste this left in my mouth after finishing the book, I will take out half a star. If you ignore that main narrative, the rest of the book is a fun, swashbuckling adventure.
4.5 out of 5 stars

Without A Summer
Without A Summer

(Glamourist Histories #3)
By: Mary Robinette Kowal
First published in 2013
Genre: Regency fantasy / Fantasy of manners

Jane and Vincent receive a commission from a prominent family in London, and take Jane’s sister Melody to town with them. Once there, talk is of nothing but the crop failures caused by the cold and increased unemployment of the coldmongers, which have provoked riots in several cities to the north.

This is the third book in a series, so I won’t go into much detail. Plot-wise, I thought the book was the strongest one so far. The plot twists weren’t that hard to guess, but it didn’t bother me. The characters were their regular selves, with an added layer of a hint of Austen’s Emma in Jane’s character development. The main antagonist in this book is so off-putting that I sometimes found it hard to keep reading. I had to put the book down and breathe for a while.

The series has a nice, light-hearted tone, even though at times there can be quite serious things happening. While the first book had a charm of its own, the second one fell a bit flat for me, but the third one is back on track, and is the best installment in the series so far.
4 out of 5 stars

The Curious Case
The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar

(Parasol Protectorate 0.5)
By: Gail Carriger
First published in 2014
Genre: Steampunk/Alternate history

A short story taking place in Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate universe.

This very quick adventure takes place in Egypt, and features the father of the main character of the Parasol Protectorate books, when he was a young man. It paints Alessandro Tarabotti as exactly the sort of scoundrel I expected him to be. I would have gladly read a longer story.
3 out of 5 stars


Graphic novels

Chroniques De Jerusalem
Chroniques de Jérusalem

By: Guy Delisle
First published in 2008
Genre: Autobiography/Travel journal

Comic artist Delisle spends a year living in Jerusalem taking care of the kids while his wife works in Gaza for the Doctors Without Borders organization.

Note: I read the Finnish translation, not the English. The original is in French.

Delisle’s autobiography combines his everyday routines with revelations of some horrible things going on in other people’s lives. The book doesn’t dwell on these injustices, instead it just mentions them and moves on, leaving the reader thinking about these things for themselves.

I’ve read all of Delisle’s travelogues so far. If you are interested in them, I recommend my favourite, Pyongyang, for starters. In that one Delisle lives in North Korea for two months, while working at a local animation studio. Jerusalem didn’t quite reach the level of some of those earlier graphic novels. Watching him take the kids to school and wander aimlessly around town isn’t as interesting as him working in an animation studio and interacting with his colleagues. This book could have used a bit more of that human interaction.
3 out of 5 stars

Through The Woods Best of the Month sticker
Through the Woods
By: Emily Carroll
First published in 2014
Genre: Horror

Five short horror stories.

The five stories in this beautiful graphic novel manage to be both gorgeously illustrated and very unsettling. The creepy atmosphere is accomplished through a great use of colour as well as some sudden, disturbing visuals. The atmosphere of the book can only be described as a fairytale-like mix of charm and dread.

My favourite stories were His Face All Red, which managed to actually send shivers down my spine when I read it late at night, and A Lady’s Hands Are Cold, which was the most gorgeously coloured story in the whole book.

You should really read this book this Halloween. Don’t go in expecting super scary horror stories; the atmosphere is more spooky than scary, but with some great shivers.
5 out of 5 stars

March Wrap-Up (2014)

In March I had a couple of books that I finished really quickly, and then a couple of books that I struggled with longer. I also finally managed to write some separate reviews during the month itself (I’m not that experienced a review writer yet), and those are linked below for the books in question.

Rating system
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

This post is linked at “Best of the Bunch”, a monthly recap meme hosted by Always Lost in Stories.


High Fantasy of the Month

The Wise Man's Fear
The Wise-Man’s Fear

(The Kingkiller Chronicle #2)
By: Patrick Rothfuss
First published in 2011

Kvothe continues his story on the truth behind his legendary history.

I continued reading the second book of The Kingkiller Chronicle right after finishing the first one. It might have been a mistake – I hit a bit of a slump in the middle of reading it, and it took me about a month to finish. Rothfuss still writes very well; his style draws you into the story and has you turning pages, but I don’t think the story was as good as in the first book.

A lot of the book was just Kvothe learning new skills. Training to be an awesome lover, training to be a kick-ass fighter. I understand that the books are about the truth behind the legend of Kvothe, and he would have to have some real-life legendary skills for the legends to be born in the first place. But in the end, not much movement further in the plot was made in this book – it was mostly just training.

Once again, Elodin and Bast were the best parts, and I’m still left intrigued by Bast. I had hoped that this book had included his and Kvothe’s first meeting, but sadly it didn’t.
4 out of 5 stars


Speculative Fiction

All These Things I've Done Best of the Month sticker
All These Things I’ve Done
(Birthright #1)
By: Gabrielle Zevin
First published in 2011
Genre: Futuristic YA crime thriller

After the murder of her Mafia boss father, Anya’s life consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend.

Review here. 4 out of 5 stars

City of Glass
City of Glass

(The Mortal Instruments #3)
By: Cassanda Clare
First published in 2009
Genre: YA modern fantasy

Amid the chaos of war, the Shadowhunters must decide to fight with the vampires, werewolves and other Downworlders – or against them. Meanwhile, Jace and Clary have their own decision to make: should they pursue the love they know is forbidden?

Review here. 3 out of 5 stars


Other genres

Valkea kuin lumi
Valkea kuin lumi

(Lumikki Andersson #2)
By: Salla Simukka
First published in
Genre: Ya Crime Thriller (Finnish)

Lumikki travels to Prague where a woman who claims to be her sister gets her mixed up in a religious cult.

I continued with the Finnish Lumikki Andersson YA trilogy (you can read my thoughts on the first book in my February Wrap-Up). This book was definitely weaker than the first one. The plot isn’t as interesting; the whole religious cult thing feels pretty far-fetched. For some reason Lumikki running around in Prague wasn’t as interesting as Lumikki running around in Tampere!

The aspect of the book I was the most interested in were the flashbacks to Lumikki’s first love a couple of summers back, a relationship that was handled briefly in the first book as well. I like how the Finnish language makes it possible to not know whether Lumikki is talking about a boy- or a girlfriend in these flashbacks – although we do find that out in this second book, in the first one it was left a mystery. I will definitely be reading the third and final book, since it might focus more on Lumikki’s life, with her flashbacks being the most interesting parts of both of these previous books.
3 out of 5 stars

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

By: Robin Sloane
First published in 2012
Genre: Literary fiction, books about books

An unemployed graphic designer gets a job in a mysterious bookstore which leads him to a secret society.

This book sounded like something right up my alley. Everything was great in the beginning – the setting of the bookstore with its dangerously high shelves and mysterious rules drew me in, and I liked the added aspect of technology with the main character being a web designer and his girlfriend working at Google. The writing flowed well, and promised a fun, easy read. Also, I could relate to the unemployed graphic designer scenario, and wouldn’t say no to a job in a mysterious bookstore, myself!

At first I was pretty into it. But something happened in the middle of the book, and I got stuck. The story left the bookstore and focused on the secret society side of things, which I was disappointed to find not the least bit interesting. Everything just fell flat to me about the moment we got to New York. After that, I found it a struggle to finish the book. I would read a chapter here, a chapter there, but I never got back the interest I had in the beginning. I heard later that this book was originally a short story, and I might look it up and read it – the story might work better that way, the focus not being able to shift that much in shorter form
2 out of 5 stars

February Wrap-Up (2014)

In February I spent most of my time playing Mass Effect and getting lost in tumblr. So, reading was on the back burner, and I only finished two books. I did read plenty of graphic novels, though!

Rating system
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

My favorite post of the month

My Favorite Secondary Characters


Books

Redshirts
Redshirts

By: John Scalzi
First published in 2012
Genre: Science fiction comedy

Soon after being assigned to the starship Intrepid, a group of new ensigns realize that on every Away mission, at least one low-ranked crew member is killed.

This book entertained me, and I did even laugh aloud a couple of times. I just watched Star Trek: TOS last year, so things were fresh in my mind, and I could appreciate the parody. I don’t think you need to have watched Star Trek to enjoy this (though it definitely helps), but you need to be familiar with the tropes and cliches of the genre. It’s sort of like Galaxy Quest, in that way.

There were a couple of editing mishaps – namely twice calling other characters Kerensky when they were Jenkins and Abernathy, respectively. I also found the prologue to be a bit too underlined and simple, and when I started reading, I was afraid the whole book was going to be like that. I now understand that the prologue was there to set up the whole Narrative plot point, but since I couldn’t know it at the time, the writing just felt too simple for me.

The “Codas”, kind of short stories, at the end were not necessary for the main plot, but I liked them, too. Made me want to get more productive and less lazy with my creative endeavors. All in all, the book was not mind-blowing, but it was very entertaining.
4 out of 5 stars

Punainen kuin veri
Punainen kuin veri (“As Red As Blood”)

(Lumikki Andersson #1)
By: Salla Simukka
First published in 2013
Genre: YA crime thriller

High schooler Lumikki Andersson gets caught up in the dealings of international drug business when she stumbles upon some missing blood money.

Once in a while I like to look at what’s going on in the field of Finnish YA literature. So I picked up Punainen kuin veri, a crime thriller with a 17-year-old high school girl as the protagonist. I have to admit that cover appeal was the main reason I picked up the book. The design of the whole trilogy is just gorgeous, with the black-and-white Snow White -themed cover images (the main character’s name, Lumikki, is Snow White in Finnish). The design is greatly elevated by the decision to colour the edges of the pages – in the first one they’re red (as blood), the second one just plain white (as snow), and the third one black (as ebony).

This is a pretty short and fast-paced book. Some things just work out way too conveniently, but I actually enjoyed the almost superhero-like characteristics of the protagonist, Lumikki. She was physically strong, quick-thinking, and good with disguising herself, all the way to changing her movements to appear like someone else. I liked how her abilities were explained with how she was forced to learn all this because she had been bullied in school. It felt plausible while reading the book. There were some other things that didn’t feel as plausible, like some of her dealings with the drug lords, but I’m willing to let it slide.

Punainen kuin veri was a pretty simple, younger YA story. I had fun reading it, and plan on reading the other books, too – mostly because they are quick reads, and because I like the protagonist.
3 out 5 stars


Graphic novels

YoungAvengersVol1Best of the Month sticker
Young Avengers, Vol. 1: Style > Substance
By: Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
First published in 2013
Genre: Superheroes

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie reinvent the teen super hero comic for the 21st century, uniting Wiccan, Hulkling and Kate “Hawkeye” Bishop with Kid Loki, Marvel Boy and Ms. America.

I had so much fun reading this first trade collection of the new Young Avengers! When I read about superheroes, I always tend to gravitate to reading about teen superheroes. I have previous experience of the Young Avengers from a short tie-in story they had with the Runaways, but I remember that I liked them.

The story was good, although it wasn’t anything mind-shatteringly awesome. Due to Wiccan’s spell going wrong, the team has to battle against mind-controlled adults, including their own parents. If I only judged for the story, the book would get one star less. But the main attraction to me were the characters! I enjoyed all of them so much, and I laughed out loud at many of kid Loki’s quips. The artwork was very good and the vibrant coloring added to the overall feeling of whimsy and fun – the cover design represents the tone pretty well. I really want to follow these characters on their adventures, and will definitely read the further volumes.
5 out of 5 stars

Serenity Vol 1
Serenity: Those Left Behind

By: Joss Whedon, Brett Mathews & Will Conrad
First published in 2006
Genre: Science fiction western

This graphic novel closes the gap between the Firefly TV series and the subsequent movie, Serenity.

What started as a really promising book ended up being quite light on content. This graphic novel won’t do much for you if you aren’t familiar with the show – but of course that was the whole point: to tell what happened right after the show ended.

At the beginning I felt pretty optimistic about this book: everything felt a lot like an episode of Firefly. There was a heist, and the character’s voices were right, like this gem from Captain Mal:

“Change of plans. Looks like we’ll be leaving this world a bit sooner than anticipated. I’d like that last statement to prove specific and mundane, not spiritual-like.”

But after the beginning, my enthusiasm dwindled. Not much happened, and I wasn’t that interested in what did happen. One of the biggest weaknesses was getting rid of the Hands of Blue so quickly – they were such a presence in the TV series, that I think more comic issues would have been needed to really deliver on the threat they seemed to pose. The artwork was hindered by the artist trying to capture the actors’ likeness. By trying to be too realistic, the artwork came out as rigid and devoid of soul. Some characters were better captured than others, but for example Simon looked nothing like himself.

The good beginning as well as the simple joy of seeing these characters again made me add another star to the rating.
3 out of 5 stars

Y the Last Man Vol. 3
Y: The Last Man Vol. 2-5

By: Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra
First published in 2003
Genre: Dystopian science fiction

These volumes continue the search for the reason that escape artist Yorick and his capuchin monkey survived the plague that killed all other males on the planet.

I started this series in January, and in February I read four volumes in total. I have to say, I’m still pretty torn. A lot of people really enjoy the series, but I just can’t seem to get that into it. I’m going along for now and I intend to finish the series, just to see where it goes. The premise and the setting are pretty interesting, but I don’t care much for the characters, or how some things are handled. The tone of the series feels a bit off for me.

There are also some stupid things being said. A woman in an acting troupe saying that they shouldn’t even be practicing adventurous plays with swordfighting, since women only want to watch romance plays. Like, what woman would say that? An actress, no less? Another woman almost explains that she’s shaven her head bald, because there’s no point in meddling with hairstyles anymore now that there are no men on the planet. Granted, she was cut short, but that’s what it seemed she was going for. Because women only do their hair because men like it. Yes. Sigh…

I gave the individual volumes either 2 or 3 stars, so 2.5 out of 5 stars it is!

Chew Vol. 7
Chew Vol.7

By: John Layman & Rob Guillory
First published in 2013
Genre: Special agent drama-comedy with a twist

Tony Chu – the federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats – is back in action, just in time to face a cult of egg-worshipping terrorists who’ve declared holy war on the chicken-eaters of the world.

I don’t have much to say about this volume. It was ok, but pretty clearly an in-between volume before the plot gets back going again. Not one of the strongest installments. I feel like some of the things are played out, and hope the series finds its legs again soon.
3 out of 5 stars

Delilah Dirk Vol 1
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

(Delilah Dirk #1)
By: Tony Cliff
First published in 2013
Genre: Historical adventure

Selim, a tea-drinking, peace-loving lieutenant in the Turkish Janissary Corps, is swept away on an adventure with globe-trotting troublemaker Delilah Dirk.

This book started as a web comic, and you can read the first few chapters here. First of all, I really liked the artwork, and the colouring is gorgeous. The physical book also looks really good, with the title embossed in silver on the cover. It’s also nice to follow the evolution of the art from the beginning to the end of the book.

As for the story itself, it was a fun adventure. I did like Selim, but wanted to learn more about Delilah. I have to admit, though, that I enjoyed artwork more than the story. This is one pretty graphic novel.
3 out of 5 stars

January Wrap-Up (2014)

I never posted a wrap-up of my reading in January, so here you go! Better late than never, huh? My High Fantasy Challenge got off to a good start, and I enjoyed the other books I read as well. February Wrap-Up will follow soon (hopefully)!

Rating system
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

My favorite post in january

2014 Resolutions – My High Fantasy Challenge list


High Fantasy of the Month

The Name of the Wind Best of the Month sticker
The Name of the Wind
(The Kingkiller Chronicle #1)
By: Patrick Rothfuss
First published in 2007

The legendary hero Kvothe tells his real story for the first time.

My review is here. I loved it! 5/5


Classic of the Month

A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast

By: Ernest Hemingway
First published in 1964
Genre: Modern classic memoir

Hemingway reminisces about his time in Paris in the 1920s, spent with a bunch of other writers.

I’ve never read a novel by Hemingway before, and this one was a memoir – so I still don’t know much about his fiction writing. I’ve always been interested in the history of France, and I loved the movie Midnight in Paris that was set in this same era, so I enjoyed reading about “starving artists” in Paris.

One thing I noticed was that those poor artists sure did drink a lot of coffee and wine, hahah! I guess those things were a lot cheaper then. Hemingway’s work ethic and attitude to writing were also very interesting to read about. I enjoyed the appearances of all the other writers and artists, though the reader has to remember that this is very much Hemingway’s impression of those people, and not the be-all-and-end-all of those persons – some of them did come across as caricatures. Overall, a very interesting look into Hemingway’s life at that point in time. 3/5


Fantasy Books

Whispers Underground
Whispers Under Ground

(Peter Grant #3)
By: Ben Aaronovitch
First published in 2012
Genre: Urban fantasy police procedural

Constable and wizard’s apprentice Peter Grant is called for help when a murdered American exhange student is found at a tube station.

I fell in love with the Peter Grant series last year, and this is the third book in the series. This time I didn’t enjoy the case so much, but the characters and the dialogue were as good as ever. Even all the side characters always feel like real people. So while this was my least favorite case in the series so far, I did have fun reading the book. 4/5

Over Sea Under Stone
Over Sea, Under Stone

(The Dark is Rising #1)
By: Susan Cooper
First published in 1965
Genre: Middle grade adventure fantasy

Three siblings try to find an Arthurian artifact before the bad guys get to it.

I enjoyed this book very much! What a nice start to a children’s fantasy adventure series. It was well written (I read the Finnish translation) and very engaging: I was nervous when the kids were chased and excited when they did a discovery.

I’m really surprised that I didn’t read this series when I was a kid, especially ’cause I remember I really liked Cooper’s Seaward back then. I would have loved this. 4/5


Graphic novels

Y the Last Man Vol 1
Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned

By: Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra
First published in 2003
Genre: Dystopian

A mysterious plague kills all males on Earth, except, for some reason, escape artist Yorick and his capuchin monkey.

A lot of people have recommended this series to me, and I’ve liked other works by Vaughan, but I have to say that I didn’t love the book. It was interesting, but there were some things that annoyed me, and I wasn’t very invested in the characters. I will read on, though (and did in February), to see where the plot goes, and how the re-building of the world after the catastrophe is handled. 3/5

The Year in Review

GRbadge_2013 It’s time to take a look back at my reading year. I had set a Goodreads challenge to read 60 books this year, and I aced it! I read a lot of graphic novels, which in part explain the 84 books that I managed to read. Here are some stats about the books I read.

Out of the 84 books, 32 were graphic novels, and 52 were “regular” books.

Among those 52 books were:

  • 41 speculative fiction books and 11 books of other genres
  • 35 adult and 17 YA/middle grade/children’s novels
  • 28 male authors and 24 female authors

As much as I read last year, I only set myself a challenge to read 50 books this year. I want to focus on quality vs quantity after realizing that I only gave a few books 5 stars last year. What I mean is that this year I will try to choose my books more carefully to suit my tastes, and try to actually use the 5 star rating in Goodreads.

Other Challenges

In the year 2013 I wanted to try and read more classics as well as to go “back to my roots” and read more adult high fantasy. I made a loose pact with myself to try and read one of each per month. Here’s how I did:

8 Classics
Mansfield Park Great Expectations The Island of Dr. Moreau The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Hunchback of Notre Dame The Turn of he Screw War of the Worlds Peter Pan
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen | Great Expectations by Charles Dickens |
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells | The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy |
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo | The Turn of the Screw by Henry James | The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells | Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

If you count We Have Always Lived in the Castle and the short story collection The Tooth by Shirley Jackson as classics, then I read ten classics. I’m overall very happy with this result.

A lowly 3 adult high/epic fantasy novels!
Throne of the Crescent Moon A Feast for Crows A Dance with Dragons
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed | A Feast for Crows by
George R.R. Martin | A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

The worst fail ever! Even if you count the 1 YA high fantasy I also read, that only makes four! This brings me to my new year’s resolution: to read those high fantasy novels that I’ve been meaning to read for years. I’m going to make a list of 10 books, and challenge myself to read all of them in 2014. I will be posting the books I chose tomorrow, January 7th.

How did your reading year go? Did you meet your challenges? Did you make a re-cap or a wrap up post? Let me know!