What I Read Last Year

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Title says it all really. To give you all a chance to know what books I’m into – and to give me a chance to talk about some awesome books – I’m making this post.

To encourage myself to read more widely, I decided to challenge myself with a book bingo card last year. I searched for a card that seemed like fun, and came across a huge card on a blog called The Girly Geek Blog (http://the-girlygeek.blogspot.com.au/). The card in question is from Maddie’s 2015 Bookish Bingo Challenge, which can be found here; http://the-girlygeek.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/bookishbingochallenge.html

I didn’t officially sign up for the challenge though. Partly because I suffer from ‘perpetual lurker’ syndrome, and also because I wanted to make some alterations to the card. I merged the “read a book by an author with your initials” tile with the “read a book by an author with your first name’ into one tile, and added a ‘read a collection of short stories’ tile to it. I had (and still do have) a lot of unread short story collections in my book cupboard. I thought it would be better to put one of them on the list than to do two name based challenges.

This year though, Maddie has released another Bookish Bingo challenge, and I do indeed intend to sign up officially. But I’ll make a post about that later. For now though, I want to talk about all the books I read last year. Of course, I don’t want to spend all this year talking about what I read last year, so I’ll do the most mini reviews ever. Book reviews in twitter format. A bit like this: https://twitter.com/books140

 

Title: Doctor Sleep

Author: Stephen King

Book Bingo Tiles: None

Stars: 3

Sequel to The Shining, but very different from it. Still good and hard to put down, but not as scary as the shining.

 

WindupGirl

Title: The Windup Girl

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Book Bingo Tiles: Book Set in the Future, Book with an Asian Main Character

Stars: 4.5

Future Thailand Water levels high no fossil fuels biotech companies control food production. Very real, very disturbing, very good.

 

Title: Gunpowder Empire

Author: Harry Turtledove

Book Bingo Tiles: Strong Sibling Relationship, Set in Parallel Universe

Stars: 3

Roman Empire never fell and has guns now. Teens from our universe live in this universe and realise how shit the past was. Lots of war.

 

Title: Maze Runner Trilogy (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure)12790214_10154113968718816_1313381047_o

Author: James Dashner

Book Bingo Tiles: Second Book in a Series

Stars: 3.5

Boys in maze working out WTF is going on. Then in ruins and labs. Page turner 3rd book loses some momentum. Movies may be better this time.

 

Title: The Seventh Miss Hatfield

Author: Anna Caltabiano

Book Bingo Tiles: Written by Someone Under 30, About Time Travel,

Stars: 3

Girl drinks from the fountain of youth. Then goes back in time on a mission and has romance. Room for improvement, but watch author.

 

2312Title: 2312

Author: Kim Stanley Robinson

Tiles: Set Somewhere I want to Visit, LGBT Main Character, Over 500 Pages

Stars: 5

Mobile city on Mercury, terrariums and orgies in asteroids, visit Saturn, Venus terraformed. The Solar System is awesome. Earth kinda sucks.

 

Title: Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (the poems section)

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

Tiles: Poetry Book

Stars: 3

“Poe’s Poems Pwn Posers”* I don’t usually like poetry, but I got most of these. The raven was really good; lives up to the hype.

*Quoted from Epic Rap Battles of History.

 

Title: On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftOnWriting

Author: Stephen King

Tiles: A Memoir, Based on True Story

Stars: 4

Half writing guide, half Stephen King life story, all good book. King has had an interesting life, and his advice for writers is gold.

 

Title: On Basilisk Station

Author: David Weber

Tiles: Kickarse Female Heroine, Set Outside Earth

Stars: 3.5

Capt. Honor Harrington and the RMS Fearless patrol an outpost and must stop an invasion. Like if Star Trek was written by George R.R. Martin

 

Title: The Brick BibleBible

Author: Brendan Powell Smith

Tiles: About a Curse or Prophecy, A Retelling, Has Supernatural Powers.

Stars: 5

The Holy Bible. With Lego. Mini-figure Jesus. Buy it.

 

Title: EDGE

Author: Koji Suzuki

Tiles: Written in Different Language, One Word Title

Stars: 2.5

People disappear, the value of Pi changes, really creepy stuff happens. Good ideas, good characters, plot drags in parts. Unsatisfying end.

 

Title: Hocus Pocus

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Tiles: Found on Goodreads, Published in the Year of my Birth

Stars: 3.5

Diary entries tell story of Gene Hartke. Disjointed, dark satire, full of trivia, but good. Surprisingly addictive.

 

Title: Fear Nothingfearnothing.jpg

Author: Dean Koontz

Tiles: Purple Cover, Non-Human Characters, Set in a Small Town

Stars: 4.5

Chris Snow can’t go out in sunlight. His Dad dies and he meets a talking cat and evil monkeys. Creepy, cool, funny thillar.

 

Title: Dragonflight

Author: Anne McCaffrey

Tiles: Main Character Same Age as Me, Has a Dragon

Stars: 3

Pern has dragons that teleport and time travel. Dragons fight space Threads. Good worldbuilding forgettable characters.

 

Title: Reader on the 6:27

Author: Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Tiles: Published a Month Ago

Stars: 4.5

Guylain reads outloud on morning commute. People dont find this crazy. He finds diary of a woman and falls in love with her. Very quirky

 

Title: Flashforward

Author: Robert J. Sawyer

Tiles: Has been Turned into a TV Series

Stars: 4

The whole world blacks out for 2mins & see 20 years in the future. CERN feels responsible. Are visions true? Many questions, all answered.

 

Title: The Silver LocustsSilverLocust

Author: Ray Bradbury

Tiles: Short Story Collection, Colour in the Title, Has Robots

Stars: 5

Stories about Mars colonization. Humans still suck at going to new places inhabited places. ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’ is chilling.

 

Title: Remnants Vol. 1

Author: K. A. Applegate

Tiles: Reread a Book from Childhood

Stars: 4.5

The world is doomed due to asteroid. Some escape on a spaceship. Jobs attempts to warn his crush. Hit me harder than it did years ago.

 

Title: Mission of GravityMissionofGravity

Author: Hal Clement

Tiles: Has Water on the Cover

Stars: 3

Hard SF. Catpillar sailors travel a planet with gravity 700x Earth. Cool world, problems solved by physics lessons rather than swashbuckling

 

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Tiles: Pulitzer Prize Winner, Author Shares my Initials, Modern Classic

Stars: 5

Scout lives in Racistville & dad Atticus defends an innocent black man. Hype is deserved; nice to read while not being forced to 4 school

 

Title: Ancillary JusticeAncillaryJustice

Author: Ann Leckie

Tiles: n/a

Stars: 5

Breq is a ship, and is stuck in a single human body and on a revenge quest. Start of a fantastic series. Very different very awesome

 

Title: Into the River

Author: Ted Dawe

Tiles: Banned Book

Stars: 3

Suspected some fantasy at start but standard YA. Sad seeing kid fall into wrong crowd but interesting. Expected more drugs&Sex due to ban

 

Title: The History of Mr. PollyMrPolly

Author: H.G. Wells

Tiles: Chosen Because of the Cover

Stars: 3.5

Lifestory of Mr. Polly. Takes a while to get into cuz Mr. Polly isn’t very likable at 1st; But Wells makes you care about him. Not SF.

 

Title: Silo Series

Author: Hugh Howey

Tiles: Self Published Book

Stars: 5

Juliette live underground. She gets banished into the poisoned outside. Awesome character & so fun to watch her stay alive. Shift bit slow.

 

Title: A Doll’s House

Author: Henrik Ibsen

Tiles: A Play

Stars: 3.5

Nora lives an ideal life, until blackmailed happens. Is she really alive? Or just going through the motions? Id watch a performance of this

 

Title: Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman

Tiles: Has Pirates

Stars: 4

Start the flamethrowers I dont think it lived up to the hype. Still awesome & fun xcept for the Buttercup’s Baby part. A goodbits fairy tale

 

Title: Death Notedeathnote.jpg

Author: Tsugumi Ohba & Takashi Obata

Tiles: Comic or Graphic Novel

Stars: 4.5

Light kills by writing in notebook. Detective story where cops acknowledge supernatural stuff. Very addictive, even when you know the end.

 

Title: The Man in the High Castle

Author: Philip K. Dick

Tiles: None

Stars: 2

Nazis won WWII and split USA with Japan. Good concept; chilling mad world, but I didn’t get this books hype. Characters & plot lacking 4 me.

 

Title: The Forever Warforeverwar

Author: Joe Haldeman

Tiles: None

Stars: 4.5

Get drafted 4 interstellar war. Battle. Come back and everything has changed thanks to time relativity. Powerful metaphor for Vietnam War.

 

Title: Ancillary Sword (sequel to Ancillary Justice)

Author: Ann Leckie

Tiles: None

Stars: 4.5

Has middle book syndrome but still great. Breq is fleet commander & goes to Athoek. Cultures & characters feel real. Sets up last book well

 

There were a few more in there, but I think you get the picture. I’ll come back later and talk more in-depth about a few of the books here. The Ancillary Justice series I’m particularly eager to show more love to.

Until then, stay awesome people. Oh yeah, there are a couple of people reading this now. So nice to know I have an audience. Thanks guys.

~ Lauren

I Made a Blog

12755041_10154080689698816_1228631694_oHello. My name is Lauren Holmes, and I’ve decided to start a blog. Why? Well I have an interest in science fiction and dreams of being a writer. I thought this would be a great way to connect with other fans of the genre.

Now why should you read my blog? That I am still trying to figure out. I will be talking mostly about books and short stories, though sometimes I’ll mention TV shows and movies. This year I’m aiming to read a mixture of classics that I haven’t gotten around to yet, as well as a number of new releases, so expect this page to contain the occasional review.

I suppose the best way to start off this blog is by telling you a bit about myself. I am Lauren, and I write under the name L. Jayde Holmes. Why L. Jayde Holmes? Well, to be honest I think it sounds cooler than Lauren Holmes. Sounds like a byline from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Like L. Sprague de Camp or L. Ron Hubbard. Hopefully more L. Sprague de Camp than L. Ron Hubbard.

Of course, such a distinction is pretty meaningless at the moment, as I have yet to publish anything. I am working on a novel, but most of my efforts are with short stories aimed at magazines such as Analog and Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Lately I have been getting some promising feedback, so maybe this year things will change.

My first taste of anything with science fiction themes was probably the Commander Keen games. A series of dos shareware platform games about an eight-year-old super genius who explored Mars,keen and then other planets with a pogo stick. Commander Keen was pretty much my whole childhood until Pokémon came around.

Then as I got into books, I got into the Animorphs. Remember that series? With the kids who turned into animals to fight an alien invasion? I loved that series; secret alien war, fun characters, and some very interesting aliens. No rubber foreheads there. Later I would begin looking for more adult science fiction. With the help of a second-hand book seller who was a massive Asimov fan, I begun discovering the classics.

2016 is going to be a big year for me. For the first time, I have become a supporting member of World Con (http://midamericon2.org/). What interests me about Worldcon is the Hugo Awards. The Hugo Awards are amongst the most prestigious awards for science fiction and fantasy writers, and have been awarded every year since 1955. Membership at Worldcon allows me to nominate and vote for works that I think deserve to be awarded. Which is why I’m so interested in reading new stories this year; I want to nominate for next year’s Hugos.

I’m also interested in finding more self-published novels. I read the Silo Trilogy by Hugh Howey last year, and that was amazing. And don’t forget The Martian by Andy Weir. If you know of any good self-published SF that isn’t getting much love, please feel free to point me to it.

Whilst I’ll probably talk mostly about novels, I also love shorter fiction. Here are some of my favourite SF magazines.

Analog Science Fiction and Fact

https://www.analogdec2010analogsf.com
/2016_03/index.shtml

Analog begun life in 1930, under the name Astounding Stories. It is perhaps the most influential magazine in the genre, and has seen the start of many a great author’s careers, including Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, Joe Haldeman and Harry Turtledove.

I began reading Analog in October of 2009, and the combination of sub-terrain monsters, a strange alien culture and a robot POTUS in that month’s issue got me hooked. I’ve bought a physical copy of Analog almost every month since then, and have a collection of back issues going back to 1962.

 

Daily Science Fiction

http://dailysciencefiction.com/

DSF is a free online magazine that publishes short science fiction every weekday. By short I mean 1,500 words or less, and by science fiction, I mean science fiction, fantasy, horror… there are a broad range of genres represented here. It’s nice getting home from work at night, and having a quick story waiting for me in my inbox. You don’t even have to subscribe to read stories there; go over there now and browse their fiction for free.

Those are the only two I am currently subscribed to, due to a lack of time. If anyone out there has a method to stop time so that more reading can be done, please contact me. Other monthly and bi-monthly publications I love are:

Asimov’s Science Fiction

http://www.asimovs.com/

Asimovssep2009

started getting Asimov’s in September 2009. Unfortunately, time and money restraints in 2012 led to me having to choose between Asimov’s and Analog. I chose Analog, but that’s not to say there is anything wrong with Asimov’s.

Whilst Analog focuses more on ‘hard’ SF, with the focus very much on the science. Some critics say the science comes at the expense of characters, but I disagree. Asimov’s however has a softer approach, with stories more focused on characters. The science isn’t as rigorous, and sometimes you’ll even find some fantasy in there. Now that money isn’t so tight, I’m hoping to find the time for more Asimov’s this year.

 

The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/

Whilst I love my Science Fiction, I also enjoy Fantasy. Though the I was never able to become a regular customer due to the above mentioned time and money restraints.

I do buy issues digitally from time to time, and it’s great for the fantasy and ghost stories that I’d never find in Analog. And of course, there is more science fiction to enjoy.

And with that, I think this introduction post is getting a bit long. I’ll be back later with more content.

 

~ Lauren