Wool by Hugh Howey and Musing Monday.

alberta's book reviewsI have just spent a couple of days reading Wool by Hugh Howey- it was a book group choice, I knew nothing about it, had not read reviews or been recommended it. Running at 561 pages I crossed my fingers and hoped for a good read.

I was not disappointed.
I neglected a fair amount of stuff so that I could continue reading – went to bed far too late.

I found it quite unputdownable.

A true dystopian, as opposed to zombie led ones. The opposite of Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia and the genre spawned by such.

This is a story of hundreds of years of living in a huge underground silo. Over a hundred levels of humanity. At first, all seems well. The population wait patiently for the day when they can leave the silo. For the world to cleanse itself of the poisons outside.

The world of deception and lies is slowly unravelled and, for me, the tension and anticipation grew at just the right pace to keep me turning those pages. I laughed, cried, chewed my lip, and worried equally. I found the characters real and, whether good or bad, they were well drawn and believable. The heroine – great – my kind of heroine. Feisty and intelligent. Also a natural born rebel.

Such a good book and then I find there are two more volumes to read – well how good is that:)

MusingMondays-ADailyRhythm

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: How do you choose  the books you read?

How do I choose a book to read? I haven’t really ever thought very hard about it.

There are some titles which just leap into my hands like

The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson – what’s not to intrigue in that one.

Or The Remarkable Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Or  Gaiman’s,  The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I wouldn’t really care what genre if the title grabs me.

Then there is I suppose the cover. All I know is what puts me off so much I won’t even read the blurb. Pictures of ‘sexy’ men with six packs, temptress women, hair flowing and more flesh than covering. Anything with a vampire on it. I don’t like the pastel ‘sweet’ pictures that I associate with chick lit. There are not many covers I  object to. Apart from those mentioned.

The blurb will tell me if the premise of the book is appealing. Then I may read a couple of pages to see if the style inspires confidence.

Many new finds and enjoyable reads have come about by recommendations from friends or even, on one or two occasions, complete strangers:)

Of course, there is a host of authors, already known to me, that I will comfortable reading their next publication with no second thoughts.

I enjoy books from almost every genre.

A  new author excites the most – the chance to find a new author, a stunning story, an imagination which thrills, to experience new sensations, to live in another life.

After so many decades I don’t often make a mistake in the choosing. Sometimes I am surprised, in book groups, I have often read away from my comfort zone and found something to appeal in a book I would not have picked up myself. A good reminder that an open mind is necessary.

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Drowning in Books: Musing Mondays

MusingMondays-ADailyRhythm

I am drowning in books.
Order is needed.
Order and self control!

Last year I began to put all my fictional books into an a-z order, tidied them up however I was left feeling dissatisfied. Non fiction was already in a different place. The I pulled out all the short story collections and the poetry putting them into two distinct sections.

Was that better?
It didn’t feel so.
So I left it.

Sometimes one needs to know when to walk away and let ideas stew a bit. Should I leave the rest of fiction together. I found that I, a person not known for her love of labels of any kind, who dislikes ‘genre’ and ‘sub genre’, whose sense of order is erratic to say the least, I wanted more order in these hundreds of books.

How much order did I want?

Did I separate the fantasy into plain fantasy and urban fantasy? Was the sci fi to be separated into dystopian and straight forward sci fi? Did I want the magic realism with the reality fiction or in a patch of its own? Indeed should the fiction be divided into continents, should the continents be sub divided into say North and South America the UK and the rest of Europe? What about translations? What about character driven literature as opposed to plot driven,’ should sagas and series go together or stay with the a-z? What about detective or mystery?

There was no end of bothersomeness:)

Then there was the non fiction.

Well I had moved all the philosophy and ethics into one section already and due to my studies at university food had its own section. Now should I divide science into evolution, general science, should the natural world come under science or should that be divided into its own natural divisions.
And so it goes on, the more one regards this momentous collection the more the problems multiply. I had at one time separated my parents books from mine but then I put them all together, only keeping established classics apart, then I mixed the classics with the A-Z as well, but, should the classics be kept separated?

So far I have separated fiction into short stories, fantasy/urban fantasy, magic realism, sci fi, hard backs, paperbacks, a-z by author and poetry.

Why do I bother? Well it may make it easier when I die of course, easier to get rid of to the correct places. That’s not, I fear, why I want order. I want it for me it is just that I am not very practised in the art!

How do other people do it?

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What do you do with your books once you’ve read them?

It was sheer coincidence that this question ties up well with the post with all my puzzlement as how to order my books. The inevitable thought comes up – why do I have so many? Why not use the library? Well, I do use the library, always have, but I am an addictive book buyer. I am also a book re-reader and if I have a sudden desire for a certain book it is too frustrating to wait until

A) The library is open
B) To find it is out on loan for next six weeks!

Every house move I make I do shed some of the load to libraries , charity shops etc but that is getting harder as my books age. also I cant stop buying books!

I try not to buy books, I do try, but like all addicts it is very difficult. I saw two yesterday at the supermarket, on their second hand stall, which looked really interesting, by an author I do not know. It used to be a second hand book stand for charity, donations that one thought was fair.  I had managed not to look at it for months in an attempt not to buy any more so I hadn’t noticed it had changed to a book exchange stand. Now there was a thought, could I find some books I know I will never want to read again, could I bring some books here each week to leave for others to read. I would only take back if something interesting came up:) Maybe it is worth a try. Wont reduce the piles tottering in the book room by very much but a drip of water eventually can wear away rock.

But. . But. . Do I have a few million years:)

 

This is why I don’t do bookshops: Friday Finds

FRIDAY FINDS  from adailyrhythm showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

FridayFinds-ADailyRhythm

I thought I had solved my ‘problem’ of collecting books for my ever tottering TBR pile when a couple of 2nd hand book stalls moved from my weekly shopping stops – back last summer. Then I joined two new book groups in a nearby town. Unlike the other two I belong to these are held by the book shop. Instead of borrowing the reads one buys the book.

Well okay I thought.

 Just buy the next read and leave.

Easy.

Not.

While the others buy their copies, and we wait the unlocking of the door (the groups meet at night) I have time to wander around and idly pick up the books on display.

This is why I don’t do bookshops any more.

I had forgotten.

I have an addiction!!!

So this week I came home with

The Edge of the World: How the North Sea Made Us Who We Are

The Edge of the World – how the North Sea made us who we are by Michael Pye

 

Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East

Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms – journeys into the disappearing religions of the Middle East by Gerard Russell

 All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Along with next Book Group read:

A Reunion of GhostsA Reunion Of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell

Ah well – as long as I don’t switch on the internet!!!!!!

 

2013 reading challenges round up: alberta ross

So how did I do with my 2013 Reading Challenges?

I read a staggering 122 books in 2013, I think probably the most I have read, the numbers were boosted quite a bit by the children and YA novels I read or re-read for my A-Z challenge, they are of course much easier reads, and some very short. I read books in various genres, and enjoyed a good 95% of them. Which I count as a huge bonus in life.

There are too many to post here so if you wish to view them here’s the link to my Goodread challenge.

I have divided my reads into challenges and genre here

Goodreads: 122

of these the following

TBR: 63

New Authors: 84

Dystopian: 7

Telling Tales: 18 (fairy/myth)

Chunky: 9 (450+ pages)

Tea and Books 5 (650+ pages)

E-books: 12

What’s in a Name:Didn’t quite fulfill this one:(

Keyword:Nor this one:(

Indie: not sure as I find it difficult to work out who is Indie and who isn’t)  but I am sure I read quite a few. I have joined an Indie author group on Goodreads sothis year I will be able to keep a better track of this category.

I didn’t find a challenge last year for Non Fiction, YA,Fantasy etc. as such, but I have separated them out and discovered I read

Non Fiction: 26

YA: 13

Fantasy: 19

Rereads: 14

Historical Fiction: 7

I obviously have a yen for non fiction and fantasy/mythology – a strange mixture:) I really enjoy reading new authors, living always in the hope of finding new ones who can keep them coming for me. I ran out of many of my favorites decades ago:(

I have been dismal at commenting on all these books and will have to do better in 2014. I have a few more drafted from the list which I will post during the next couple of weeks,

Now for this year’s challenge and the huge tottering pile waiting for me.

Inside, Out and Thinner than Thou

the-dystopia-challenge-badgeThinner Than Thou by Kit Reed

 

In this dystopian paradise the ‘perfect body’ is the Holy Grail. It is the new religion of the land and health camps are the new places of worship and redemption. What is this ‘perfect body’? It is neither too large nor too thin. Both theses extremes are ‘punished’. It is not just about your shape, it is your image as well. ‘Your body is a temple and it must be treasured, kept immaculate, perfectly coiffured and polished.

 

A cast of rogues and charlatans rule the country. The Dedicated Sisters, who ‘help’ the transgressors, are to be feared and then there is the Rev Earl, the evangelical, publicly, adored saviour of the likes of the ‘elderly’, who of course fear retribution (unemployment/starvation) for not possessing perfection any longer. There is a darkness behind the ‘joy’ and ‘positive’ messages relayed to the populace. All is not sparkling and wonderful in the land. These evangelical saviours run concentration style camps ‘helping’ the transgressor with enforced feeding or starvation. If you are sent to one of these it is ‘known’ you are never the same again.

 

Annie Abercrombie is handed over, by her parents, to these ‘helpers’ for her own good and to mitigate the shame she has brought to the family. However, Annie is loved as she is and how she is, by her siblings who travel across the land in search of her, to rescue and restore her. It is a hazardous journey as they endeavour to locate Annie and avoid any trouble themselves.

 

It is a land where double standards abound of course, and we discover some unpleasant secrets along the way. The messiahs of this new religion are, as with many religious or secular leaders, not without cracks and faults of their own.

 

With the present dysfunctional views of body image one could almost imagine this world existing, and I think a YA book on this subject is perfectly relevant. It may be, as some critics have said, a little thin in characterisation but it is a compelling and uneasy read for all that. Here is described all the pain and loneliness attendant on this ridiculous search for, and maintenance of, ‘perfection’. The absurdity of the fetishism for ‘beauty’. Whose idea of ‘beauty’? Whose idea of ‘perfection’? is a question that has been needed to be seriously examined for a long time.

 

If this novel makes just a few youngsters and their parents rethink the present trend towards unhealthy feelings about the human body then this is a book well worth reading. This old lady enjoyed the read and applauds the theme.

 

   The second book I am writing about to day is


   Inside, Out by Maria V Snyder

 

This is an intriguing Sci-fi book and the beginning of a series. A tale of a society consisting of different levels of importance in the population. So, you say, aren’t all societies constructed thus? Of course however, dystopian societies construct these layers to ensure the down-trodden, poor, worthless members continue to suffer the treading.

 

Trella is a ‘scrub’, a member of the lowest of the low, an outsider in society as a class and an outsider to her own kind; she prefers her own company and bends the rules, which govern her, to her own desire of being apart from the others. Her job involves climbing the maintenance pipes to maintain them and keep the air vents clear, all to keep life comfortable for the upper levels. After work she climbs back into them for a place to relax and be her own person. To be an outsider, such as this is, to be a rebel and scrubs can be recycled for fertiliser, as she is reminded on many occasions.

 

She is mistrustful of all except her one true friend. It is her care and loyalty to her friend that leads her to inadvertently instigate and lead a rebellion from these lower levels of society and reality.

 

The tale has many twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, much action and a few nail biting moments. In her dangerous journey to the top levels and what she hopes is the hopeful future of her kind Trella discovers kindness and support and learns to trust a little.

 Although I had guessed the end revelation before I reached it (I have been reading for many more decades than the young YA reader), all the truths are revealed slowly as Trella climbs her pipes and make for a good climax at the end. I found Inside, Out very imaginative with some intriguing details of this particular  ‘world’. It is a claustrophobic place and Maria V Snyder portrays this well. The other point in its favour that although it is the first of a series it works well as a stand alone book, ends neatly sewn together.

 I have read other YA during this challenge, including some of those I read nearly six decades ago, and will be reporting how I feel the old  stand up next to the modern day novels.  I was surprised I have enjoyed these YAs so much and, although I probably won’t be going out of my way to buy any more, after all my TBR pile is tremendous and my reading days numbered, it is great to know good books for children and teenagers are alive and flourishing.

NAC.2013a

                                     angler fish by Vlad Gerasimov

These two books  tick boxes both for the dystopian and the new author challenges