Reading Challenge – 2016

Reading challenge

Oh wow, yet another post about what I read last year.  Last year, I threatened vaguely hinted that I might list what I did/did not read, that filled the above Challenge list.  Not being a great team-player/rules-follower, the results are not impressive.  The covers are all shown back at ‘It’s All Newton’s Fault’, if you want another look.

A book published this (2016) year.
N/A I’m too busy trying to catch up on about four series, so that the next ‘unread’ one is less than 5 years old and I can borrow it from the library at no charge, to be bothered with anything less than a year old.

A book you can finish in one day.
Henry Freeman – The Crusades From Beginning To End
A 156 page disappointment, with no real information, not worth the price.

A book you’ve been meaning to read.
Jonathan Kellerman – Flesh And Blood
After owning it for 15 years, I finally got around to actually reading it. (See below)  A somewhat pedantic little procedural, nowhere nearly as interesting as his wife’s mysteries.

A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller.
N/A Years ago, there was a TV ad which touted, “You can always tell a Heinz pickle, but you can’t tell a Heinz pickle nothing.”
Heinz pickle = Grumpy Old Dude

A book you should have read in school.
N/A See last year’s statement.  Perhaps some of the Sci-Fi that I’m now rereading.  Maybe I should have got to them sooner.

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF.
Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs And Steel
More ‘recommended’ than ‘chosen’, by my online BFF, BrainRants, it was an enlightening treatise showing how White Europeans ended up owning or controlling so much of the world.

A book published before you were born.
E.E. (Doc) Smith – The Spacehounds Of IPC
With Jim Wheeler’s prompt, I am rereading some old Sci-Fi.  I think I should get extra points for this one.  It’s hard to find books that were published before I was born.  This one was from 1931.  I also reread the original Buck Rogers, from 1928.  I refuse to reread The Bible.

A book that was banned at some point.
N/A I probably have read one at some point, because some of the most supposedly inoffensive books have been banned, somewhere, sometime, including Harry Potter.  I just didn’t actively search one out.

A book that you previously abandoned.
N/A

A book that you own, but never read.
Jonathan Kellerman – Flesh And Blood
I can’t believe that I was always so far ahead with books to read, that I didn’t get around to this one for 15 years.  Then I read it, and realized why.

A book that intimidates you.
William Patterson – Robert A. Heinlein biography – Part II
This was big, and dry – but ultimately, very rewarding.

A book you’ve already read at least once.
Aside from IPC and Buck Rogers, I also reread;
Isaac Asimov – Pebble In The Sky, and Nemesis
Robert A. Heinlein – Tunnel In The Sky
A. Bertram Chandler – The Far Traveller
John Brunner – To Conquer Chaos, The World Swappers, and The Super Barbarians as well as 10 other classic science fiction books.

With all those N/As, if I hadn’t seen the list of books I did read, I might have thought I didn’t really read much.  I just don’t read a lot of what some others feel is acceptable.  You read my posts last year.  Did you have time to read anything else?  😕

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It’s All Newton’s Fault

I’m not talking about Sir Isaac Newton. I’m referring to Newton Minow, an American who was Director of the FCC during the Kennedy Era.  In 1961, he declared television to be a vast wasteland.  This irritated many within the industry, to the point that, the SS Minnow that washed up on Gilligan’s Island was named after him.

The cost of accessing this wasteland by cable continued to increase. About 12 years ago, we dumped cable, and went with satellite TV.  Satellite rates soon followed Cable rates.  Two years ago, when the wife’s mobility problems meant that she had trouble going down to the basement rec room to watch TV, we cut the satellite cable also.

Almost 50 years of marriage means that we have little new to talk about, so we relied on books to fill the excess time. OH!  WOW!  Last year’s list of 51 books, has increased this year to 57.

Jim Wheeler’s question about rereading books had me going back to reread some old Sci-Fi. I have quite an interest in time travel and temporal paradoxes. Note toward the bottom of the reread section, the time travel group.

pebble-in-the-sky

nemesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tunnel-in-the-sky

spacehounds-of-ipc

the-far-traveller

to-conquer-chaos

the-world-swappers

the-super-barbarians

 

armageddon-2419

the-outposter

starlight

the-dark-light-years

i-aleppo

the-world-at-the-end-of-time

renegade-of-time

serving-in-time

masters-of-time

time-raider-1-wartide

Continuing with the time travel theme, I recently bought and read

tales-of-the-time-scouts

I also purchased Book II, and will read it this year.

a-wanted-man

never-go-back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

personal                                                                                                        make-me

skeleton-coastghost-ship

treasure-of-khan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-judas-strainaltar-of-eden  the-last-oracle

devil-colony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-doomsday-key

the-emperors-tomb  the-jefferson-key

the-kings-deception

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-lincoln-myth

the-alexander-cipher the-exodus-quest

magic-breaks magic-shifts

all-the-rage hosts

fire-with-fire

crazy-english

And a couple from an up and coming author – not published yet, but look forward to them.
He’s Will Greany.

Blue On Blue

blue-on-blue

Domestic

Tank

locked-on threat-vector

command-authoritysupport-and-defend

guns-germs-and-steel  This one came highly recommended by BrainRants.

flesh-and-blood

the-crusades-from-beginning-to-end  Not what was promised.  Quite disappointing!

the-tau-ceti-agenda

hell-hath-no-fury

the-fold

robert-a-heinlein

free-short-stories-2013free-short-stories-2014

Now that you’ve spent all that time lookin’ at the pretty pitchurs, you won’t have time fer yer own readin’.  Sorry!

 

Reading Challenge

I just want to make it perfectly clear. I may – or I may not – participate in and/or successfully complete the 2016 Reading Challenge, shown below.  Since reading is always good for you, I suggest you consider trying it.  Next year, I may or may not tell you how I did.  For now, I’ll tell you how it would have turned out, applied to 2015.

Reading challenge

A book published this year

Since the year is still very young, I’ll list ‘The Fold’, an alternate dimension Sci-Fi by Peter Clines. It was released late in July/15.  I received it from the Library on January 3/16, and returned it on January 7/16 because there was another person with a reservation against it, waiting to read.

A book you can finish in one day

‘Refuting Evolution’ was only 132 pages. I could have finished it in a day, but since I often read three books at a time, I didn’t.  As a tween, pre-television, I once took out two Hardy Boys mystery books from the library at 7:00 PM, and had one of them finished by 9:00.

A book you’ve been meaning to read

At any given time, I have 20+ books ahead of me. I (eventually) mean to read them all.  I read one book by Faye Kellerman, but possess a hard-cover book by her husband Jonathan Kellerman, which I’ve had for almost 15 years.  Maybe I’ll get around to it this year.

A book recommended by your librarian or book seller

Both my regular book-lady at the market, and librarians, see my eclectic choices and know better than to suggest anything. Book-lady just makes me aware if any books from my preferred-authors list have come in.

A book you should have read in school

I read them all in school. I had my 6 yearly book reports in by the end of September.  I read sections of English Lit texts that weren’t even assigned.

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child or BFF

Nobody chooses for me.  I inherit the occasional book from the son’s overflowing library.  Ted @ SightsNBytes told me about the ‘Repairman Jack’ series.  Jim Wheeler recommended ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’.  BrainRants suggested ‘Guns, Germs And Steel’, which I am currently reading, now that the Library finally notified me that it was ready to pick up.

A book published before you were born

Are you kidding?? I have an autographed, first-edition of The Ten Commandments.  In 2015 I read ‘Malleus Maleficarum’, and ‘Cymbalum Mundi’, both written around 1500.  I own The Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes, from the 1880s.  In 2014 I borrowed ‘The Bible Unmasked’ from a local university library.  The hardback was dated 1906.  I have 1960s, paperback copies of Ralph Milne Farley’s ‘Radio Planet’, written in 1914, and the original Buck Rogers novel, published as a serial in 1918.

It is possible, though not likely, that another such old book may arise in 2016, but I’m not going out of my way, just to fill an online quota.

A book that was banned at some point

Banned where? Boston?  USA?  Iran?  I read books which hold relevant interest for me.  Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Satanic Verses just don’t do it.  See ‘Quota’ above.

A book you previously abandoned

Again with the kidding! Any book I choose must hold at least some value.  Even if I find I’ve chosen poorly, I slog through to the end.  The only book I’ve ever abandoned, unfinished, was L. Ron Hubbard’s ‘Dianetics.’  After a month, still not done, I said, Fun’s fun – but this ain’t it.  He didn’t take it seriously, why should I?

A book you own but never read

I hereby solemnly swear to finally read Jonathan Kellerman’s 2001 hardback, ‘Flesh And Blood’ this year – probably around June. Take me to task if it doesn’t show up on next January’s list.

A book that intimidates you

The 1200 page size of ‘Hell’s Gate’ was a bit intimidating, but I stuck with it to the end. Both ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ and ‘Cymbalum Mundi’ were written in Bible-style English.  ‘Mundi’ was also allegorical, and almost indecipherable.  My thanx to the female scholar who added pages of notes to explain.  Manchester’s ‘World’ was dense.  If I can understand them, they don’t intimidate me.  If I feel I won’t understand, I simply don’t read.

A book you’ve already read

It would have to be science fiction. All other books are traded in for newer ones.  With so many ahead of me, I seldom go back.  In 2015, I reread Heinlein’s ‘The Door Into Summer.’  I may pull out a couple more this year.  I’m considering downloading a $2 Kindle version of ‘The Dark Light Years’, by Brian W. Aldiss.  It’s easier than digging into the storage area under the basement stairs.

I’ve got a shitty memory, but I don’t understand those who reread, and re-reread books.  Like the neighbor who boasted that he’d seen ‘Titanic’ 8 times – the boat sinks, everybody drowns, the hero ain’t gonna make it this time.  Didn’t you get it the first time?

Read me! Then go out and read something else – and tell us about it.

I Read You, Loud And Clear

For years, I averaged reading a book a week – about fifty a year. Two years ago, when I first listed what I’d read, there were only 31 books.  Last year’s list improved minimally, to 33.

When we moved into this house 15 years ago, we placed the TV and all attendant electronics in the finished Rec Room in the basement. The wife’s deteriorating mobility and bladder problems have meant that we haven’t watched more than 10 hours of TV together since last April/May.  That has led to an increase in my reading.  Below are what I read last year.  The year’s total ran to 46.

Eric Flint – Grantville Gazette VI

grantville gazette VI

David Weber/Linda Evans – Hells Gate

hells gate

Lee Child – Nothing To Lose – Gone Tomorrow – 61 Hours – Worth Dying For – The Affair

nothing to losegone tomorrow 61 hours

worth dying for    the affair

Clive Cussler – Golden Buddha – Trojan Odyssey – Sacred Stone – Lost City

golden buddha  trojan odyssey

sacred stone   lost city

James Rollins – Sandstorm – Map Of Bones – Black Order

sandstorm  map of bones black order

Greg Loomis – The Coptic Secret – Gates Of Hades

coptic secret gates of hades

Steve Berry – The Romanov Prophecy – The Alexandria Link – The Venetian Betrayal – The Paris Vendetta

the-romanov-prophecy-1 the alexandria link

the venetian betrayal the-paris-vendetta-1

Ilona Andrews – Magic Bites – Magic Burns – Magic Strikes – Magic Bleeds – Magic Rises – Magic Slays – Gunmetal Magic

magic bites magic burns magic strikes

magic-bleeds magic-rises

magic slays gunmetal-magic

John Ringo – Strands Of Sorrow

strands-of-sorrow

F. Paul Wilson – The Tomb – Legacies – Conspiracies

the tomb  legacies conspiracies

This is a series introduced to me by Ted, at SightsNBytes.  Thanx Ted!  There will be more in next year’s list.

Sharon Lee/Steve Miller – Saltation

Saltation

Larry Correia – Monster Hunter Nemesis

monster hunter nemesis

I read the paperback version of this, but the best photo I could download was the audiobook.

William C. Dietz – At Empire’s Edge

at empires edge

Tom Clancy – Against All Enemies – Dead Or Alive

against all enemies dead or alive

Like Monster Hunter, above, I read the softback version of Dead Or Alive, but picked up the photo of the CD version.

David Feldman – Why Don’t Cats Like To Swim ? (Imponderables)

why cats don't swim

Jonathon Sarfati – Refuting Evolution – Refuting Evolution II

Refuting Evolution Refuting Evolution 2

Tony Daniel – Guardian Of Night

guardian of night

William Manchester – A World Lit Only By Fire

a world lit only by fire

This was a book suggested by Jim Wheeler, as a research tool for the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance.  It clearly lists the excesses and sins of the European Royalty and the Catholic Church hierarchy (They were often the same thing.), and justifies claims I made in my The Torture Of Faith post.

Bonaventure Des Perier – Cymbalum Mundi (The Noise of the World)

cymbalum mundi

I found this book mentioned in Manchester’s treatise, above.  Written about 1542, it sneaks around mentioning the same things as ‘World‘ does, because, at the time of writing, accusations of heresy or sedition could get you tortured and burned at the stake.

Robert A. Heinlein – The Door Into Summer

the door into summer

Still in my book collection, I hadn’t read this one for 30 or 40 years.  It’s always possible to get a new insight from Heinlein, so I re-read it.

Gordon R. Dickson – The Man From Earth

The man from earth

Another book from the ’60s.  A collection of 10 of Dickson’s short stories, written from ’52 to ’65.  This anthology was published in ’66.  I never read it then, but pulled it from a pile the son was getting rid of.

***

In past years I have proof-read about half of two novels, for two different authors.  This past year, I had the privilege of beta-reading (proof-reading, character and plot development suggestions) for two new authors.  There are no cover pictures because they have not been published yet, hopefully soon.

Tom Elias – Degree Of Separation

Moon

Sci-Fi mystery

Will Greaney – The Last Ride

Tank

Army mystery

Aside from my posts (Thank you!  Thank you!), what have you guys been reading?

Flash Fiction #52

Chain

PHOTO PROMPT – © C. Hase

SHIFTING SANDS

I finished reading my book, and I’m bored.  I’ll have some crackers.

LINK!

I’ll make a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  The bread is small.  I’ll make two.

LINK!

It’s TV commercial time.  I’ll eat a few chips.

LINK!

Doctor says my cholesterol level is normal, but the weight is creeping up.

LINK!

Abdominal fat surrounds and presses on organs, adversely affecting them.  Phooey!  I’ll live forever.

LINK!

And so, like Ebenezer Scrooge, our chains of obesity are acquired.  So easily gained, forged one link at a time.  So difficult to divest ourselves of.

Cast off your chains.  Be healthy.

The above is a somewhat distressing, very personal account of the five years since I retired, still eating as I did when I worked, but no longer working.  I would not insult by pointing fingers and using the ‘Fat’ word, just a gentle reminder, and a wish for the best for all.

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

#465

Reading Room

 

Actually, I don’t need too much room to read.  Aside from what I read off the monitor in the computer room, all my reading is done in the living room.  There was a time when I read in the cafeteria at work, with all the attendant noise, but I find that my attention is diminishing, and I now need silence to read.

This past year all my reading, with Art Browne’s one exception, was from paper and ink, physical books. The son has a new Kindle, so both his Sony Reader and his Kobo are available.  Perhaps in 2015 I’ll save some money and download a few titles.

The following is a display of what I read in calendar year 2014, along with my usual comments and trivia.  I exceeded 2013’s displayed list of 31, and managed to finish 34.

I’ll start with the two ‘James Axler’ series, as I did last year.  I finally stopped buying them and still had five titles to read, to clear up my backlog.  When I read ‘my’ last one, I noticed that I was a full year’s releases behind.

James Axler

Deathlands – Nemesis, Chrono Spasm, Sins of Honor

nemesis  chrono-spasm  sins-of-honor

Outlanders – Savage Dawn, Sorrow Space

savage dawn  sorrow-space

Eric Flint – Grantville Gazette V

grantville gazette V

 

 

 

Lee Child – Running Blind, Echo Burning, Without Fail, Persuader, The Enemy, One Shot, Bad Luck and Trouble, The Hard Way

The Minutia V post that I recently published, where I claimed that ‘One Shot’ was my next Jack Reacher novel to be read, was originally written about two months ago, and I have finished it and two more recent titles since.

running blind  echo burning  without fail

persuader  the enemy one shot

bad luck and trouble  the hard way

Clive Cussler – The Chase, Inca Gold, White Death

the chase  inca gold  white death

John Scalzi – The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe’s Tale

the ghost brigades  the last colony zoes tale

Dan Brown – Inferno

inferno

 

 

 

James Rollins – Excavation, Subterranean, Amazonia, Ice Hunt

In another case of not looking for contradictions, but still finding them, I read in Subterranean, the following passage;

“We had been following the twisting cave through the mountain, winding ever higher, trudging beside the stream which coursed through it.  I could feel the muscles in the backs of my legs burning from the constant uphill strain.

Suddenly it opened into a gigantic cavern.  We must be near the outer mountain surface, because there were thousands, perhaps millions of bats, nesting here.  We had to withdraw.  Because of the dust, the mould, and the overpowering ammonia smell, we could not slog through guano, sometimes feet thick in places.  We decided to wet pieces of cloth, hold them over our mouths and noses, and climb into the rushing stream to let it quickly carry us past the hazard.”

While it’s interesting imagery, and literary gimmickry, I doubt that caves and caverns are formed like this in the granite of the Andes.  Even if they are, the glacier meltwater stream could kill them from hypothermia and impact with rocks, before they could climb out.  Ignoring both of those quibbles, the story says they are moving upward.  Which way is the stream moving?  Rapidly downward, in compliance with gravity!  Riding the rapids will just get them back where they started.  Oh well.

Excavation  Subterranean

Amazonia  Ice Hunt

A.H. Browne – The Saloon at the Edge of Everywhere

This is the first published tale from fellow-blogger Art Browne, over at PouringMyArtOut.  While suitable for teens or young adults, it’s fun, and still has a thing or two to say about social morés.

saloon

 

 

 

Alena Graedon – The Word Exchange

word exchange

 

 

 

Max Berry – Lexicon

lexicon

 

 

 

Gregg Loomis – The Julian Secret, Pegasus Secret

julian secret  pegasus secret

Steve Berry – The Templar Legacy

templar legacy

 

 

 

Ryk E. Spoor – Grand Central Arena

A strangely named man tries to write an epic Space Opera as an homage to the great E.E. (Doc) Smith – and fails.  I’ve read Doc Smith.  This ain’t it!  It does not have Doc’s crisp precision and vision.  While interesting and enjoyable, this overly long tome contains lots of action and social statement, with a happily-ever-after ending.  It is full of physics impossibilities (Vaguely attributed perhaps to God – or gods.), but no explanations.

grand central arena

 

 

 

Anthology – Science Fiction of the Fifties

This book contains 22 short stories by some of the masters, only a couple of which I read in my teens.  The themes include some things we still worry about, and some we don’t; overpopulation, ecological collapse, social demand for uniformity, and miscegenation.  The stories are from the 1950s; the book was published in 1979, and priced at $4.99.  I didn’t purchase it until 1999, and paid $1.99.  It sat on a shelf for another 15 years before I finally got around to it.

50's SciFi

 

 

 

Uncle John’s Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader

We all know what this one is.  One- and two-page articles full of interesting trivia, useful for a short stay in the small room.  Despite that, I read it in the living room.   😀

Uncle John

 

 

 

That’s enough reading about what I’ve been reading.  Rest up, and return soon.

Minutia V

one shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been slowly working my way up through the list of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books, a fact that those of you who had to wade through three of my “Book Reviews (?)”, are aware of.  I’ve read the first ten, with another ten ahead of me.  The next on my list is One Shot, the book that was made into a movie, and started me on this quest.

I recently picked up four books in the series, all on the same day.  I stopped on my way to the Farmers’ Market, to take some cash out of the bank.  The branch was having a fund-raising program, which included donated books for sale.  There was a decent copy of one title – for $2.

At the market, the wife and I visited the Used Book Lady.  She doesn’t often get Lee Child books, and they disappear quickly, but two had just come in, and she remembered my interest, so she held them for me.  She sells second-hand books $4/ea., or 3/$10.  Along with another author’s book, I now had two more at $3.33/ea.

On the way home, I stopped at a Chapters bookstore and bought the next one I needed in the series.  Piggybacking on the son’s discount card, the $10 book cost me $8.

I recently published a post, critical of the French culture and language – only because they deserve it.  The language illustrates how entitled and impatient the French are.  In English, we are content to watch, to see what the time is.  A French wristwatch is a montre-bracelet – a show me timepiece.  R.F.N!   👿

In English, we let the good times roll, and often translate that as “laisser rouler les bon temps.”  But in correct French, they insist, fait rouler des bon temps – make to roll (some of) the good times.

I’m glad to hear that stupidity still carries the death penalty.  The first selfie suicide (at least the first one I’ve heard of) has occurred.  Some macho goof in Mexico held a gun to his own head and his cell phone camera out at arm’s length, and snapped a photo.  The camera flash startled him, his finger involuntarily twitched, and the pic includes brain, bone and blood.

A tourist couple in Portugal, climbed over a barricade and past signs in three languages that said, Don’t Go Here, Fool!, to get a better view of the ocean, 140 meters ( 460 feet) below.  They backed up to the edge for a photo, witnesses say that one of them stumbled, and they both plunged off the cliff while their horrified children watched.

Not to be outdone, there was a large outdoor concert in Toronto this summer.  Somehow, two different types of recreational drugs got spilled on the ground, solid tablets, and powder-filled capsules.  Concert-goers snatched them up and swallowed them.  The final count was two dead, and thirteen in serious condition in hospital.  Not content to merely ingest unidentified chemicals, one of the dead is said to have swallowed at least ten of the pills.

And, the stupidity rolls on!  In an attempt to close the barn door after the horses have died, the police issued a request that anyone who purchased drugs at the concert, but had not consumed them, could surrender them to police, and no charges would be laid.  Orrrr…you could just throw them in the garbage, or flush them down the toilet, and no-one would know.

About a year ago, I included a story about an alcoholic, DUI Paki.  He’d had six or more convictions for drunk driving.  He’d caused several accidents, and driven away from most of them.  He threatened the cop who arrested him, in court, and told the judge that he would just go out and drive drunk again.  His excuse (there is no excuse for this behavior) was his first name.  He was Sukhvinder, and all the white kids had made fun of him and his name.

Recently, a drunken Paki named Sukhvinder drove an oversized dump truck onto a bridge on the main (only) major highway between Toronto and Buffalo, with the dump box fully raised, and ran into the overhead support beams.  The bridge was closed for four days, with heavy traffic going through residential areas, while the damage – considerable – was assessed.

I almost hate to think that this is just a coincidence in names of drunken Pakis.  If this is the same guy, we can now charge him with reckless endangerment and either throw him in jail, or deport him.  Maybe Sukhvinder is a common Paki name.  Maybe they all drive drunk.  I read a story about the legal problems of an actor named Vincent D’Onofrio.  Aha, says I.  I know him from Law and Order.  Apparently I didn’t.  Believe it or else, there’s another actor named Vincent D’Onofrio.

Speaking of names – again….  The Indian reservation just outside my home town, fronts on Lake Huron.  Its backside nestles against the Saugeen River.  The road signs on the highway declare it to be Chippewa Hill.  So the Indians in it are….Ojibwa??!

The little city on the other side of the Bruce Peninsula has two rivers which run into the bay.  The Sydenham, a good British stream, from the east, and the Pottawatomi from the west.  There is a Pottawatomi Indian tribe….just north of Kansas City, a thousand miles away.  Did one of them drunk-ride his horse all the way up here?