December 2014

Happy new year to everyone!

The fourth book in the Clockwork Century series (including the novellas).

Publication year: 2012
Format: print
Page count: 366
Publisher: Tor

Rector Sherman has just turned eighteen and the orphanage where he’s grown up will have to kick him out. He doesn’t really know what to do because he doesn’t have many useful skills. So far, he’s mainly conned people out of their money, sold drug called sap, and also used sap himself. He’s also haunted by a ghost of a kid he sent to die. However, that kid wasn’t using sap; Rector helped him get inside the walled city of Seattle. With nothing else to do, on the eve of his birthday, he collects his meager belongings, steals food from the orphanage, and heads to Seattle. He has some notion that he’ll be able to talk straight with the people who make the sap and take a bigger cut – if he survives the Blight gas and the walking rotters.

However, things aren’t that easy. The people of Seattle have divided strongly into groups which don’t really care for each other. The Chinese men, who don’t speak much English, the Doornails who oppose the Stationers. The Stationers are mostly the drug makers and more dangerous bandits. Also, Rector finds out that something else than the walking dead is stalking humans.

Rector isn’t a pleasant POV character and not just because he’s an addict. He’s also always looking to profit himself at the expense of others. He’s also lazy and the only ambition his has is his next fix. And yet, the moral choices he has to make are quite easy and it’s strangely easy for him to get rid of his addiction. There are a few mentions later on that he’s thinking about the next fix but that’s it.

I also didn’t really care for the Inexplicable and was more interested in the other storyline but Rector was more a sideliner in that. However, most of the rest of the cast return and I really enjoy them. It was also interesting to see them from another POV, especially with such a self-centered character and Rector.

Clearly my least favorite of the series but I’m looking forward to the next book.

Next up is 2015 8th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge!

It’s time to start signing up for the 2015 challenge now. No changes this year. Please write a sign-up post on your blog and then sign-up below with a link to your specific sign-up post (NOT to your home page).

What counts: graphic novels, collected trade editions, manga, comic strip collections, comic books. In print or digital. Anything else you feel is suitable. My criteria is if it has either frames OR speech bubbles it counts. I’m not going to be the comic police but if you are unsure, ask me in the comments any given month.

Here is how the Challenge plays out:

runs from Jan.1 – Dec. 31, 2015

Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year (that’s only 1 book a month)

Bronze Age: read and review 24 books during the year (Can you handle 2 books a month.)

Silver Age: read and review 52 books during the year (Are you up to a book a week!)

You must sign up for a level, but once you complete that level you may move up and try for the next one.

I’m again aiming for Modern Age. In 2014 I graduated to Bronze Age and since I’m seriously thinking of getting a yearly Marvel Unlimited subscription, I’ll likely end up at that level. But to make things easier for me, I’ll pick Modern Age first.

1, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
2, Essential X-Men vol. 8
3, Fantastic Four: The End
4, Essential X-Men vol. 9
5, Excalibur Classic vol. 1: the Sword is Drawn
6, Excalibur Classic vol. 2: The Two-Edged Sword
7, Excalibur Classic vol. 3: The Cross-Time Caper book 1
8, Excalibur Classic vol. 4: The Cross-Time Caper book 2
9, Excalibur Classic vol. 5
10, Avengers vs. X-Men
11, AVX: Consequences
12, Uncanny Avengers Vol. 1: The Red Shadow
13, Essential X-Men vol. 10
14, Essential X-Men vol. 11
15, Elfquest: Fire and Flight
16, Elfquest: 2: The Forbidden Grove
17, Elfquest: vol. 3: Captives of Blue Mountain
18, The New Fantastic Four
19, Fantastic Four, Vol. 5: Disassembled
20, Fantastic Four, Vol. 6: Rising Storm
21, Complete Elfquest vol. 4: Quest’s End
22, X-Men Forever volume 1: Picking Up Where We Left Off
23, X-Men Forever volume 2: The Secret History of the Sentinels
24, X-Men Forever volume 3: Welcome to Mother… Russia!
25, X-Men Forever volume 4
26, X-Men Forever volume 5: Once More… Into the Breach
27, X-Men Forever 2 volume 1: Back in Action
28, X-Men Forever 2 volume 2: Scream a Little Scream
29, X-Men Forever 2 volume 3: Perfect world
30, X-Men: Bishop’s Crossing
31, X-Men: X-Cutioner’s Song
32, Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest
33, Fantastic Four: Masters of Doom
34, Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 1
35, Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman, Vol. 2

It’s that time of the year again, the time to start choosing reading challenges for 2015. My first reading challenge will be Just of Fun 2015:

As bloggers we are all on timetables to read books, get reviews posted, host giveaways, etc.

But we also travel around to other blogs and see books we would just like to read because of their recommendation or the cover or title catches our interest. The Meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” adds more books to my Wish List and To-Be-Read pile every week.

As followers you get our recommendations, win books from us, pick up books at the library or buy them at a store.

But our lives are so busy these books sometimes sit in our To-Be-Read piles for months or even years.

This is the 5th year I am hosting this challenge to
encourage you to read some of those books.
12 books in 12 months JUST FOR FUN!!!!!!!!!!


This year there will be no months designated as Catch-Up Months!
If you miss a month it is up to you to catch up. Just designate you are catching up when you list the book and include the date.

You are not required to review these books.
They are to be read JUST FOR FUN. You can review if you wish.

I started my Barsoom books reread in Just for Fun 2014 and I’ll complete it next year with the last three books and I’m sure I’ll have fun reading other books, too.

1, Joss Llewlyn: The Razor’s Edge
2, Edgar Rice Burroughs: Synthetic Men of Mars
3, Edgar Rice Burroughs: Llana of Gathol
4, Edgar Rice Burroughs: John Carter of Mars
5, Edgar Rice Burroughs: Pirates of Venus
6, Elizabeth Bear: One-Eyed Jack
7, Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith: The Kingmaker
8, John Scalzi: Lock In
9, Naomi Novik: The Blood of Tyrants
10, Lois McMaster Bujold: Penric’s Demon
11, Carol Berg: The Soul Mirror
12, Carol Berg: The Daemon Prism

Happy holidays to everyone who is celebrating!
(I’m self-employed so I’ll be working but I’ll also try to get time to be with my family.)

I wish for excellent year 2015 to everyone!

Publication year: 2014
Format: audiobook
Running time: 13 hours, 26 minute
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Publisher: Tor
English translation: Ken Liu

This is a book which IMHO is best read without knowing too much about what’s coming. In fact, I think that most reviews reveal too much about it and surprises aren’t surprising after that.

The book starts in 1980s China right after the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In character’s stories, it describes how people were affected and lives destroyed by the people in power. Specifically, professors and teachers of science were required to change their teachings when they could be inferred as “going against” the Communist ideal. Never mind that the actual physics of course work as they work regardless of what humans think. Ye Wenjie is a young astrophysicist when she sees her father, a physics professor, tortured to death in front of her eyes. Then she’s sent to a labor camp because she’s seen as dangerous to the new order. But then she’s taken to a secret outpost to work again in something close to her old work. This government project supposedly studies satellites but turns out to be quite different.

Ye Wenjie is a very wounded character, understandably. She has lost all faith in humanity in general and despairs in the labor camp when she’s forced to destroy irreplaceable nature. The only comfort she has comes from the work in the secret base and even that is unsatisfying when she’s an outsider.

However, most of the book is set in near future and in a virtual world called Three Body. A surprising number of scientists have killed themselves and the police ask Wang Maio to look into it. As a scientist, he has better chance of understanding why the other scientists are driven to suicide. He follows clues to a virtual world called Three Body where the sun is behaving oddly, causing unstable times when that part of the world is almost inhabitable. The only way the inhabitants can survive is because they can “dehydrate”; they can force all liquid out of their bodies and not require any food or water. The few still conscious ones are trying to find a way to predict the sun’s behavior so that their civilization can continue. Wang Maio becomes absorbed into the world and this three body problem.

Wang Maio who is a physicist working with nanomaterial. He uses the scientific method to find answers to his questions. He has a wife and son but they aren’t shown much in the book.

I found the various settings in the book very compelling. The world of Three Body is quite different from the real world but it takes aspects from the real world, incorporating both civilizations and famous people into the game. I also rather enjoyed the people behind the game.

This is thoughtful SF which has its roots firmly in the real past, namely the Chinese revolution and the way in which it shaped not just individual people but a whole nation. If you’re looking for rayguns and big fight scenes, you won’t find it here. But for readers looking for real science and puzzles to solve, the book can be a treat. However, it does have a lot of exposition and people telling their stories to each other.

Today the topic of Top Ten Tuedays is Top Ten Book read in 2014. This has been a good reading year; I’ve read 64 books so far and most of them have been at least good. On the other hand, few stood out as excellent. In the order I read them:

1, Andy Weir: The Martian
A lone man’s struggle to survive on Mars, after he was accidentally abandoned there during a NASA mission.

2, John Scalzi: Redshirts
A parody of various SF TV-shows.

3, Terry Pratchett: Night Watch
Commander Vimes and time travel!

4, Fiction River: Moonscapes
This is a short story collection centered on various moons.

5, Seanan McGuire: The Winter Long
The new October Day book where she finds out some disturbing things about her past.

6, Fiction River: Time Streams
Another short story collection, this time about time travel.

7. Kris Nelscott: A Dangerous Road
A historical mystery during the days when Martin Luther King was murdered.

8, Liu Cixin: The three body problem
An SF story set in China and a virtual reality world.

9, Lois McMaster Bujold: Diplomatic Immunity
One of my favorite book series, ever.

10, Agatha Christie: The Body in the Library

Special mentions to Brust’s Hawk and Priest’s Inexplicables (which I’m currently reading). Mostly I’ve been reading books from familiar authors and it’s always hard to compare them (like one set of friends against each other!).

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