December 2010

My final familiar challenge will be the 2011 Graphic Novels Challenge.

1. The challenge starts January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011. You can start anytime you want to especially if you want to start early.
2. The level of participation: Beginner (3 comics or graphic novels), Intermediate (3-10 books), or Expert (10+)
3. Overlaps with other challenges is definitely okay
4. Re-reads count
5. Feel free to post your list at any time

I’m aiming again for Expert level with 11 comics. I just got my mitts on the Terminator omnibuses so I’ll be torturing you with more reviews from that franchise. Mwhahaha!

1. Terminator Omnibus vol. 1
The Terminator: Tempest
The Terminator: One Shot
The Terminator: Secondary Objectives
The Terminator: Enemy Within

2. Terminator Omnibus vol. 2
The Terminator: Hunters and Killers
The Terminator: Endgame
The Terminator: Suicide Run
The Terminator: Death Valley
The Terminator: The Dark Years

3. Matrix Comics vol. 2
4, Lone Wolf and Cub vol. 1: The Assassin’s Road
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer vol 5: Predators and Prey
6, Buffy the Vampire Slayer vol 6: Retreat

7, Serenity: Those Left Behind
8, Serenity: Better Days

9, Angel: After the Fall, vol 1
10, Angel: After the Fall, vol 2: First Night

11, Angel: After the Fall, vol 3
12, Spike: After the Fall

13, Tom Strong: Book One
14, Tom Strong: Book Two

15, Astonishing X-Men vol. 1: Gifted
16, Astonishing X-Men vol. 2: Dangerous
17, Astonishing X-Men vol. 3: Torn
18, Astonishing X-Men vol. 4: Unstoppable

19, Avengers: The Korvac Saga

Next will be the 2nds Challenge 2011 hosted by A Few More Pages.

The guidelines:

1. Anyone can join. You don’t need a blog to participate. If you’re not a blogger, leave your information in the comments.

2. There are four levels to choose from in this challenge:

* Just a spoonful – Read 3 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you’ve read the author.
* A few more bites – Read 6 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you’ve read the author.
* A full plate – Read 12 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you’ve read the author.
* All you can eat – Read 20 books (or more) that are 2nd in a series or the second time you’ve read the author.

You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you. Any genre counts.

3. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2011. Don’t start reading until January.

4. If you’re a blogger, write up a sign-up post that includes the URL to this post so that others can join in. Feel free to use the button above. When you sign up in the Linky, put the direct link to your 2nds Challenge sign-up post.

I’ll aim for the full plate with 12 books.
1, Marjorie M. Liu: Darkness Calls
2, Seanan McGuire: A Local Habitation
3, Tara Maya: Taboo
4, Kerry Greenwood: Flying Too High
5, Tim Powers: On Stranger Tides
6, Kristine Kathryn Rusch: City of Ruins
7, Ben Bova: Vengeance of Orion
8, Layton Green: The Egyptian
9, Jocelynn Drake: Dayhunter
10, Susan Wright: Star Trek: Dark Passions, Book 2
11, C. J. Cherryh: The Faded Sun: Shon’Jir
12, Peter Clines: Ex-Patriots
13, Linda Hawley: Guardian of Time
14, Elizabeth Bear: By the Mountain Bound
15, Carrie Vaughn: Kitty Goes to Washington
16, Baroness Orczy: The Elusive Pimpernel
17, Elizabeth Bear: Chill

I’m going to sign up for two more familiar challenge. First is 1st in a Series Challenge 2011 hosted by A Few More Pages.

The rules:
1. Anyone can join. You don’t need a blog to participate. If you’re not a blogger, leave your information in the comments.

2. There are four levels for this challenge:

* Series Novice: Read 3 books that are the first in any series.
* Series Lover: Read 6 books that are the first in any series.
* Series Expert: Read 12 books that are the first in any series.
* Series Fanatic: Read 20 books that are the first in any series.

You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you. Any genre counts.

3. The challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2011.

4. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2011.

I’m going to get eight books just from the TBR and Urban fantasy and horror challenges so I’m going to aim for Expert level with 12 books.

1, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
2, Seanan McGuire: Rosemary and Rue
3, Tara Maya: the Unfinished Song: Initiate
4, Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
5, Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass
6, Ben Bova: Orion
7, Kerry Greenwood: Cocaine Blues
8, Amanda Quick: Second Sight
9, Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
10, Evangeline Walton: Prince of Annwn
11, Jon Courtenay Grimwood: the Fallen Blade
12, Philippa Ballantine: Geist
13, Joe Haldeman: the Forever War
14, Linda Hawley: Dreams Unleashed
15, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: Hôtel Transylvania
16, C. J. Cherryh: Gate of Ivrel
17, Raymond Rose: The Fire Inside
18, Elizabeth Bear: All the Windwracked Stars
19, C. J. Cherryh: Faded Sun: Kesrith
20, Susan Wright: Star Trek: Dark Passions, Book 1
21, Jacqueline Carey: Kushiel’s Scion
22, Donna Andrews: Murder with Peacocks
23, Julia Spencer-Fleming: In the Bleak Midwinter
24, Peter Clines: Ex-Heroes
25, Cherie Priest: Boneshaker

Booking Through Thursday

What’s the best book you read this year?



Well, I guess it’s time to do the lists:

Best series: So hard to choose! I’ve read both familiar and new series. I guess I’ll have to support an old favorite and choose Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan science fiction series.

Best new-to-me author: This was a great year for new-to-me authors! I’ve already bought Laura Anne Gilman’s urban fantasy series the Retrievers, three of Lisa Shaerin’s four fantasy books on audio, Stacia Kane’s three Ghosts books, the three Kate Elliott’s Crossroads books which are out so far. But I’ll choose Stacia Kane for great characters and world-building, and a unique main character.

Top 10 books:
1, Kirsten Imani Kasai: Ice Song
2, C. J. Cherryh: The Kif Strike Back
3, C. J. Cherryh Chanur’s Homecoming
4, Liz Williams: the Demon and the City
5, Stacia Kane: Unholy Ghosts
6, Elizabeth Bear: Dust
7, Stacia Kane: City of Ghosts
8, Naomi Novik: Victory of Eagles
9. Claire McCleary: The Alchemy of Murder
10, Lisa Shearin: Armed and Magical

Top 3 most disappointing books:

1, Sharon Shinn: Dark Moon Defender: Unfortunately, the world-building and the plot crumbled under closer scrutiny.
2, Ian Rankin: Knots and Crosses: I fully admit that it’s my fault: I don’t really like gritty modern world books.
3, Peter Elbling: the Food Taster: pretty bland after all.

A tie-in novel.

Publication year: 2009
Format: Print
Page count: 372
Publisher: Titan

The story is divided into two parts. In 2003 Captain Losenko commands the Russian nuclear submarine Gorshkov. In 2018 Molly Kookesh is the leader of Alaskan Resistance cell. The chapter alternate between 2003 and 2018.

The Russian submarine is on a routine mission when they get a message from Moscow that US has made a nuclear strike. They also get an order to launch the nuclear missiles they carry. Losenko angsts about it for a short time but does as he’s ordered to do. Then they wait and listen.

Some months later they finally hear from the outside world. General Ashdown claims that a computer called Skynet is responsible for the original attack. Losenko’s second in command Ivanov doesn’t believe it and Losenko decides to go to Murmansk to find out. However, there they encounter a devastated city. When they finally see movement, it’s a factory run by Skynet and humans who have decided that they must work for the machines in order to survive. The Russians are attacked by early Terminators.

In 2018 Alaska, Molly tries to sabotage Skynet as much as she can. Skynet has oil pipes and runs uranium trains, and the small Resistance cell tries to destroy them. Unfortunately, Resistance Command considers them a small operation and doesn’t give them any help. Therefore, the former Forest Ranger has to do her best to keep her people alive. Her cell includes a former bush pilot, and her lover, Geir Svenson, and old Doc Rathbone who is their computer expert, and the resident drunk. Sitka is a teenager who was found as a child alone among the ruins of her namesake city. Young lovers Tammi and Roger are determined to get married despite the constant threat of death.

The cell moves around with several dog sleds and the dogs do double duty as guards, too. It’s in the middle of a bitter winter so survival is tough.

General Ashdown is the only one of the prominent movie characters who are in the book. The book ends just before the movie starts.

As you might expect, the story is full of gritty fighting for survival against cold and Terminators. Most of the fights are on the small scale; a small group of humans against a lone or a few Terminators. We also get a new variety of the machines: a train and Snowmiantors who move on skis. The fighting is bloody and often final; lots of characters die. And yet, there’s hope and love, too.

There’s also solid characterization: Molly is determined and fiercely independent. While she looks after her people, she’s also ready to sacrifice them in order to strike a blow against Skynet. The teenager Sitka is stubborn but able to follow orders, finally. She’s determined to earn her red armband. Geir is a gentle soul who stubbornly proposed to Molly time after time. Losenko is tormented by his decision to follow orders and launch missiles against Alaska. His XO Ivanov refuses to believe that a computer can be guilty of destroying the world and hates Americans with a passion.

Oh, and when Losenko first sees the Terminators he thinks: “This is like something out of science fiction movie!”

All in all, this is a fine Terminator novel and should please the fans of the franchise.

My newest review: Alayna William’s Dark Oracle

It’s urban fantasy with an adult main character so I liked it quite a lot.

The fourteenth book in the long-running Vorkosigan series. This time Miles meets Ekaterin Vorsoisson.

Publication year: 2004
Format: Audio
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Running Time: 12 hours 44 minutes

Ekaterin Vorsoisson is married to Tien Vorsoisson who is a bureaucrat in the terraforming project on Komarr. They have been married for a ten years and have one son, Nikolai. Ekaterin is unhappy because her husband mentally abuses her. They also have a secret: Tien and Nikolai suffer from a genetic disease. Tien hates mutants and is afraid that someone else would know about his disease. So, even though Ekaterin pleads him to cure himself and their son, he delays and delays. Also, Tien has trouble keeping his job; he blames his awful supervisors and co-workers, and moves often. Ekaterin doesn’t have any friends anymore and she doesn’t even bother to plant a new garden.

When Komarr’s solar array is damaged by a mysterious accident, Emperor Gregor sends to Imperial Auditors to check it out; Vorthys, who is Ekaterin’s uncle and an Engineer Professor, and the newly minted Auditor Miles Vorkosigan. The more they look into the accident, the weirder it looks. The duo lives with the Vorsoissons during that time, and Miles and Ekaterin grow closer.

Miles Vorkosigan is now the youngest Imperial Auditor ever. He comes to Komarr to study the elder Auditor in action and to help with case. He’s instantly attracted to the lovely Ekaterin but keeps reminding himself that she’s married. He’s also trying to adjust to his new job but his old instincts as a secret agent still take over from time to time. In addition to researching his case, he also manages to snoop in Ekaterin’s computer. He stumbles into her garden designs but also her notes about the disease.

The book is structured as a romance; the point-of-view switches between the hero and the heroine, and their growing attraction is a secondary plot along with the mystery. Thankfully, the story is devoid of the more toxic romance tropes, such as rape is romantic if it’s done by the “right” guy.

Professor Vorthys and the ImpSec people are great new characters. Vorthys has also a wife who is called the Professora and she also a university teacher. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of her. Ekaterin has trained herself to be still as stone so that she wouldn’t do anything to upset her volatile husband (Unfortunately, her tactic doesn’t work because Tien is the cause of Tien’s anger) so she might come across as a bland character. Apparently, she’s a realistic portrayal of an abuse victim. In the end, she does have fire and passion in her.

Komarr’s cities are inside domes because the planet is still being terraformed. Barrayar conquered the planet about a generation ago. However, while some Komarrans make snide remarks to the Barrayarans, there doesn’t seem to be much active resistance going on. For example, Miles whose father is known as the Butcher of Komarr can move around freely without bodyguards. Komarr feels also more galactic than Barrayar. I can’t imagine that any Komarrans live in as profound poverty as the peasants on Barrayar. So, the difference between the conquered and the conquerors seems to be surprisingly large.

I heartily recommend the book for romance fans.

I had such a success this year with the TBR challenge (34 books read!) that I really want to join one next year, too. The original TBR Challenge is just what I need:

For this challenge you should…

** Pick 12 books – one for each month of the year – that you’ve been wanting to read (that have been on your “To Be Read” list) for 6 months or longer, but haven’t gotten around to.

** OPTIONAL: Create a list of 12 “Alternates” (books you could substitute for your challenge books, given that a particular one doesn’t grab you at the time)

** Then, starting January 1, read one of these books from your list each month, ending December 31. )

My list is:
The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe
Evangeline Walton: Prince of Annwn
Sarah A. Hoyt: Ill met in Moonlight
Kim Harrison: Fistful of Charms
Julia Spencer-Fleming: In the Bleak Midwinter
Giulio Leoni: The Mosaic Crimes

Diane Duane: Stealing the Elf-King’s Roses
Roger Zelazny and Thomas T. Thomas: The Mask of Loki
Melissa Scott: Shadow Man
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: Hôtel Transylvania
Donna Andrews: Murder with Peacocks
Tim Powers: On Stranger Tides

The next 12:

Geoffrey Throne: Star Trek: Titan: The Sword of Damocles
Susan Wright: Star Trek: Dark Passions, Book 1
Susan Wright: Star Trek: Dark Passions, Book 2
Jacqueline Carey: Kushiel’s Scion

For a while now, I’ve felt like I need to broaden my reading habits. This great challenge will hopefully do just that: Take A Chance Challenge.

Basic Information

* The concept of the challenge is to take chances with your reading by finding books to read in unusual or random ways. I’ve listed 10 different ways to find books below. Feel free to complete at many as you want. However, anyone completing all 10 challenges by December 31, 2011 will be entered in a prize drawing to win a book of their choice from Amazon.

* The challenge will run from January 1, 2011 until December 31, 2011.

* Crossover books from other challenges is fine. You can read books in any format.

* On January 1, 2011, I will post pages for each of the 10 challenges so you can link up your completed posts.

The 2011 Challenges

1: Staff Member’s Choice: Go to a bookstore or library that has a “Staff Picks” section. Read one of the picks from that section.

2: Loved One’s Choice: Ask a loved one to pick a book for you to read. (If you can convince them to buy it for you, that is even better!)

3: Blogger’s Choice: Find a “Best Books Read” post from a favorite blogger. Read a book from their list.

4: Critic’s Choice: Find a “Best of the Year” list from a magazine, newspaper or professional critic. Read a book from their Top 10 list.

5: Blurb Book: Find a book that has a blurb on it from another author. Read a book by the author that wrote the blurb.

6: Book Seer Pick: Go to The Book Seer and follow the instructions there. Read a book from the list it generates for you.

7: What Should I Read Next Pick : Go to What Should I Read Next and follow the instructions there. Read a book from the list it generates for you.

8: Which Book Pick: Go to Which Book and use the software to generate a list of books. Read a book from that list.

9: LibraryThing Pick: Go to LibraryThing’s Zeitgeist page. Look at the lists for 25 Most Reviewed Books or Top Books and pick a book you’ve never read. Read the book. (Yes … you can click on MORE if you have to.)

10: Pick A Method: Pick a method for finding a book from the choices listed below (used in previous versions of the challenge).

* Random Book Selection. Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!)
* Public Spying. Find someone who is reading a book in public. Find out what book they are reading and then read the same book. Write about it.
* Random Bestseller. Go to and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1950 for the min. and 2010 for the max. and then hit generate. Then go to this site and find the year that generated for you and click on it. Then find the bestseller list for the week that would contain your birthday for that year. Choose one of the bestsellers from the list that comes up, read it and write about it.

I read:
2: Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon Recommended by my brother
3: N. K. Jemisin: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms From the Book Smugglers’ best of 2010 list.
5:Roger Zelazny and Thomas T. Thomas: The Mask of Loki
8: Elizabeth Bear: Chill
7: Carrie Vaughn: Kitty Goes to Washington
Vaughn’s Kitty series was suggested when I put in Pride of Chanur by Cherryh
8: Diana Wynne Jones: The Dark Lord of Derkholm
9: Khaled Hosseini: A Thousand Splendid Suns
10 random: John Grisham: Firma

I completed all the reading challenges I participated last year, so it’s time to get some new ones. First is going to be Book Chick City’s Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge 2011.

The Rules:
* Timeline: 01 Jan 2011 – 31 Dec 2011

* Rules: To read TWENTY FOUR (24) horror & urban fantasy novels in 2011 (24 is the minimum but you can read more if you wish!)

* You don’t have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.

* You can join anytime between now and the later part of next year.

* At the beginning of Jan 2011, you will find a link to add your reviews.

1, Seanan McGuire: Rosemary and Rue
2, Laura Anne Gilman: Bring it on
3, Amber Benson: Cat’s Claw
4, Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
5, Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass
6, Bram Stoker: Dracula
7, Marjorie M. Liu: Darkness Calls
8, Rachel Caine: Chill Factor
9, Seanan McGuire: A Local Habitation
10, Rachel Caine: Windfall
11, Rachel Caine: Firestorm
12, Marjorie M. Liu: A Wild Light
13, Emma Bull: War for the Oaks
14, Cherie Priest: Four and Twenty Blackbirds
15, Kim Harrison: Fistful of Charms
16, Seanan McGuire: An Artificial Night
17, Sarah Jane Stratford: Midnight Guardian
18, Jocelynn Drake: Dayhunter
19, Jocelynn Drake: Dawnbraker
20, Peter Clines: Ex-Patriots
21, Peter Clines: Ex-Heroes
22, Seanan McGuire: Late Eclipses
23, Seanan McGuire: One Salt Sea
24, Carrie Vaughn: Kitty Goes to Washington

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