So here the books for the first half of 2006:
- The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
Well, I *finished* (re-)reading it in 2006 :p Always an excellent read: the Arthurian legend from a highly female perspective.
- It - Stephen King
Another re-read, but it was pretty fresh since I'd forgotten so much detail!
- Forrest Gump - Winston Groom
Yet another re-read: finally decided to refresh myself on just how different the movie was from the original book which I'd read in the early 90's: yep, VERY different. But the movie captures the spirit of the book well, and while it takes so many liberties, I think it turned out much more appealing than the book.
- Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
First new book of the year! This is not so much a sequel as a spin-off of Neil Gaiman's excellent American Gods. Okay lah, but nothing to really shout about.
- The monk who sold his Ferrari - Robin S Sharma
This "fable about fulfilling your dreams and reaching your destiny" as a disappointing rehash of Covey's 7 Habits. Don't bother.
- My Experiments with Truth - Mohandas K Gandhi
A long-overdue introduction to this simple man who helped change the lot of Indians, and perhaps even the world.
- The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
This Fable About Following Your Dream is certainly much better than the Ferrari-less Monk: well thought out, with subtle lessons imbedded in the tale; but it's probably a wasted read unless one discusses and shares insights with others.
- The Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever Need - Paul Pearsall
With a byline of Repress Your Anger, Think Negatively, Be a Good Blamer, and Throttle Your Inner Child, the author stresses that the entire self-help movement may be more harmful than helpful, and we all need to be more "mindful" as we go through life in order to get to this elusive "happiness".
- The Identity Code : The 8 Essential Questions for Finding Your Purpose and Place in the World - Larry Ackerman
Crap. Total crap.
- Locked Doors - Blake Crouch
A mystery / thriller that's perhaps a bit *too* simple in its narration & content.... and yet, definitely a good read. You'll be glued to the book, cringing at what goes on, wondering if *anyone* is going to survive the attention of the psychopath(s)... May be useful, but not essential, to read the first book (Desert Places) in this tale.
- Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence For Past Lives - Thomas Shroder
A journalist's account of shadowing Dr Ian Stevenson documenting possible past-life/reincarnation cases in children, in as scientific a method as possible. That by itself is worth the read; then add to that getting the author's perspective of the chaotic life in Beirut & India. Highly recommended.
- Currant Events - Piers Anthony
The 28th in the series, or Book 1 of the next cubed trilogy. Choc-full of puns as usual. Not outstanding, but it has its moments. I will continue to read this series, but via library books :-)
- Alien Dawn: An Investigation into the Contact Experience - Colin Wilson
It explores the entire gamut of "alien contact", and comes to some very thought-provoking conclusions.
- The Dilbert Principle - Scott Adams
Part 1 of a 3-book omnibus. Amusing. The last chapter about an OA5 workplace - actually makes a LOT of sense. I remember bringing it up at work, during that project that was supposed to be all about mindset change and stuff, and the consultants shut off as soon as I said "Scott Adams". Sheeesh.
- TUNKU A Pictorial Biography - Tan Sri Dato’ Mubin Sheppard
Reference for my Lost Blogs participation. Fascinating insight to the man who became the Father of Malaysia. But my attention waned as soon as we hit the start of his political career.
- The Dilbert Future - Scott Adams
Part 2 of a 3-book omnibus. Amusing but gets old FAST. Again, I liked the "serious" chapter at the end - I suppose that's Mr Adams' style: to add his more serious thoughts at the end of a "funny" book?
- Storm Front - Jim Butcher
Oh my. Take Sam Spade or a narrative-heavy cliche-laden detective like that. Add in an alternate vision of magic and demons, kinda like Angel. And you have the atmosphere for this Harry Dresden series. I'm definitely exploring more of this author!
- The Joy of Work - Scott Adams
Part of 3 a 3-book omnibus. Overdose. I'll stick to his daily 'toons and occasional trips to his blog.
- The Magic of Recluce - L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Yes, another fantasy book. But this is different enough to have me reluctant to put it down until I was done with it. The perspective of order vs chaos is intriguing, and the protagonist is this young confused man, who is as endearing as Robert Jordan's Rand is irritating. But I don't know if I liked it enough to buy the next book. Kinda cheezy sound effects too - if you've read it you'll know what I mean :p
- The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
I just could NOT put this down! An excellent exploration into the Drakyula mythos. An unsual way of teling the tale (letters describing past events, which include more letters...) And if you were paying attention in the very beginning, you'd know that no matter what might have been thought to have happened, things were still "unresolved". Read it, you won't regret it!
- The Stranger House - Reginald Hill
Another book I just could NOT put down! Two seemingly unrelated people find their way to a small village that has deep dark secrets it would rather not have revealed. Very engrossing, despite some kinda wild coincidences :p and the last page providing that one last bit of information to tie it alllllll back? Awesome!
- Fool Moon - Jim Butcher
Book2 of the Harry Dresden files. Find out more about different types of werewolves as you get to know a bit more of this wizard in Chicago.
- Grave Peril - Jim Butcher
Book3 of the Harry Dresden files. Okay so a bit more depth, a bit more mystery to things in Harry's past (his godmother is a Fairy Queen??!), but frankly this one wasn't all that great... okay so at the end of the day vampires declare war on the wizards, but, eh....
- Summer Knight - Jim Butcher
... but in THIS one, Book 4 of the Harry Dresden files, things start to get more complex. You find out more of the power structure of the "other" world... and get a whiff of things being not *quite* right within the command structure of the wizards....
- Shadow (Scavenger Trilogy Book 1) - K. J. Parker
A very. slow. plodding. tale. about a man who has lost his memory. The author lets us believe he could be a missing general, or a god out of legend, or just about anyone in between. Interesting, but SO slow that I only finished this book on the 2nd try (1st was perhaps 4 years ago - stopped about third of the way through). The ending was a bit of a let down. If I do choose to continue this tale, it's going to be with the assistance of the local library!
- Death Masks - Jim Butcher
Book 5 of the Harry Dresden files.... each book is getting to be a more and more satisfying read - more depth in plot, in characters... in this case the Shroud of Turin gets stolen, Harry has to fight a duel with a vampire, but there are loads of undercurrents that will surely lead to some sort of showdown between Harry, the Wizard Council, and the Vampires! Have I mentioned yet that this is a GREAT series?
- Blood Rites - Jim Butcher
Book6 of the Harry Dresden files ... more and more hints of Harry's history / legacy via his mother.... more and more build-up for a confrontation not just between vampires and wizards, but perhaps between wizards? And Harry is at the center of it all. All told with a backdrop of Harry's assignment to help solve the mystery of deaths of people in a particular porn movie being made.
- Among the White Moonfaces: Memoirs of a Nyonya Feminist - Shirley Geok-lin Lim
One word: b l e a h! Read this because my mother thought I would relate to the memoirs of a Chinese Malaysian who ended up marrying an American gweilo. Instead I was totally put off by a book that I would label "self-involved". But I concede that for those who have not much exposure to Asia / Malaysia, this is as good (bad?) a book as any to get a feel for how things were in the early days of Malaya/Malaysia from a non-Malay perspective.
- Dr Doolittle and the Secret Lake - Hugh Lofting
If all you have ever known of Dr Doolittle is the awful movie(s) with Eddie Murphy, please, go out and get the original books instead. Sure, they are written for children, and therefore very simple in style, but boy are they awesome :-) In this book, Mudface the turtle who lived through the Great Flood talks about life around the time of the Flood. A great trip down memory lane :-)
- My Side of the Mountain - Jean George
Simple, but still moving. One of the books that had me yearning to live away from the hustle & bustle of city life.
- Seal Morning - Rowena Farre
Enthralling even after all these years - the tale of a young girl and her aunt living in a croft out in the middle of nowhere, and the animals in their life.
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 - Sue Townsend
Mildly entertaining as a re-read. I wonder if I understood all the allusions when I first read it what seems like a lifetime ago....
- Angels & Demons - Dan Brown
Eh. Another re-read. Not as gripping as the first time around. But I am reminded of the lengths some people would go in the name of religion...
- The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole - Sue Townsend
Again: mildly entertaining as a re-read... I was amused to remember how much I loved the Very Secret Diaries of LOTR characters, and that these were surely inspired/influenced by Adrian Mole.
- True Confessions of Adrian Mole, Margaret Hilda Roberts and Susan Lilian Townsend - Sue Townsend
Can you tell I was kinda scraping the barrel in finding things to re-read? And rereading this, I was reminded why I'd decided to NOT buy any more Adrian Mole books after this one. Can you say "sell-out"?
- Blind Side - Catherine Coulter
This was such a crappy read. Nuff said.
- Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years - Sue Townsend
This was bought by my mother. So was a 1st read. Okay lah. But the "magic" is long gone.
- The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
A chance pick-up in the bookstore - and another one i could NOT put down! Tears pricked the corners of my eyes at numerous parts of this tale where the narrator is a murdered girl, observing the goings-on on Earth from her perch in heaven. A very different perspective. Go get it!
- Obernewtyn - Isobelle Carmody
A relatively short book, but it introduces us to a post-nuclear holocaust Earth, and how the survivors now live... survivors who include Misfits (people with paranormal abilities) who are persecuted by "normals". A lot of groundwork is laid for the rest of the excellent series.
- The Farseekers - Isobelle Carmody
The next in the series; the Misfits now have Obernewtyn as their base, but a group goes across the Land in search of a beforetime library, and a very powerful Misfit. They meet others who oppose the Council, and also get more hints as to ElspethInnle's destiny.
- Ashling - Isobelle Carmody
More excellent details emerge about the gypsy "Twentyfamilies", the desert land of Sadoria, slavery, and the various rebel groups....
- The Keeping Place - Isobelle Carmody
According to my ruler, this book is 2.3 inches thick. And every page is excellent! More and more details, more and more mysteries... yes, the "hopping" in and out of "memory bubbles" and visitations of Ariel on the dreamtrails gets a bit tedious, but the tale itself... slowly unravelling the history of the mysterious Cassy / Cassandra / Kasanda, and the impact she had made during the beforetime as well as after the Great White... I wonder just HOW this series will end: have been waiting for the next installment for YEARS now,,, grrrrr!
- The First Betrayal - Patricia Bray
It doesn't say "Book One of the Chronicles of Josan" until the end where they give a teaser for Book 2, but this is so obviously a set-up for a series. A series I will certainly consider following. The priest Josan, stationed in the boonies as a lighthouse keeper, has an attempt made on his life, forcing him to flee: in his search for answers, he finds out he may not be the person he thinks he is...
- The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
Okay so if you are familiar with Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, this book should be a blast. But you know what, even without such "knowledge" you can still totally enjoy this tale - you probably (like me) will just not get *all* the sly subtle allusions to the great body of English literature. Won't go into detail, but trust me: READ IT! btw, a major LOL: Shakespeare's Richard III a la RHPS??!! LMAO!!
- Lost in a Good Book - Jasper Fforde
Continuation from The Eyre Affair, and I enjoyed this one even more than the first. Maybe because I could relate to the literary allusions a bit more? Enjoyed the fact that the Cheshire Cat is technically no longer of Cheshire due to shifting of county lines. References to Kafka, Dickens, not forgetting a laundry label. Yep, u read that right. Intrigued yet? Go read it!
- The Other Daughter - Lisa Gardner
bleh - the author thanks many people for answering her questions when doing the research for this book, and it seems as if she went ahead and cut&paste their answers right into the book. ugh. And even worse: unnecessary (and corny!) love scenes. The premise of the book *is* interesting: trying to figure out how a child, who mysteriously appears in hospital and gets adopted by the doctor who treated her, is related (or not) to a convicted child murderer who got fried by electric chair: a murderer who confessed the murder of the adoptive family's daughter. But.... don't bother. This is my first and last Lisa Gardner book.
- The Golden Key - Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson & Kate Elliott
Read it. Yes, it's a long tale, but oh my what intricate details, and what a great premise: a Gifted painter who seeks to achieve perfection in his work, even if it has to take a few lifetimes.
- So You Want to Be a Wizard - Diane Duane
If I'd stumbled across this series when I was much younger, I bet I would have SO wanted to be a wizard!! A simple tale targeted for young adult readers, yet having enough substance for an entertaining read even at this stage of my life.
... and there you have it! I count 33 new reads, 15 re-reads. Wonder how many I'll go through in the second half of this year????
And Kevin, I *do* intend to contribute to FWDT... but not just yet, I suppose - my mood's more concerned with reading than reviewing right now. For the moment, I'll just work on making sure I have token descriptions of /reactions to what I *have* gone through. :p