May the year be challenging yet fulfilling for you and yours.
I'm not one to bother recapping the past year. Neither am I one to make/publicise any resolutions... but I *do* have *some* unfinished business for 2006: my book list!
Refresh you memory of Part 1 here: there were 48 books in that list. How many did I consume in the second half of this year? Read on (or cheat and keep hitting PgDn) and find out....
- The Curse of Chalion - Lois McMaster Bujold
A reread. It was great to revisit the realm where they believe in the five aspects of God - Father, Mother, Daugher, Son, and [wait for it..] Bastard! On one hand it's a typical fantasy tale of power struggles and magic, but on the other hand it's told in a way that's different enough to be recommended.
- Paladin of Souls - Lois McMaster Bujold
A reread. This is not so much a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, as a spin-off: a character who didn't get too much page time in the first book gets a tale all to herself - a tale of redemption, of rebirth, of faith. And the Bastard features prominently. Excellent!
- Smoke and Shadows - Tanya Huff
Eh. So the ex-lover of a vampire is trying to make it in showbiz, the studio where he works actually has a female wizard in charge of special effects, and a bad guy from another dimension is about to open a doorway into this world. Sounds good, but falls kinda flat.
- The Magicians' Guild - Trudi Canavan
A street urchin unexpectedly discovers she has magic talents when she throws a rock at shielded magicians - and strikes home! The fugitive needs to control her abilities - so should she be fleeing or enrolling in the Magician's Guild?
- Stolen - Kelly Armstrong
Werewolves exist. So do real witches, half-breed demons, and other "special" "species". And some bored rich dude with too much time on his hands likes to capture them, release them in a controlled environment, and hunt them down. This time, he captured the wrong werewolf, and while her people on the outside try to figure out where she is being held, she has to keep on her toes to stay alive. Not too bad, I'll look into more by this author.
- The Novice - Trudi Canavan
Book 2. Sonea starts her life as a novice in the Magician's Guild, and faces the usual outsider alienation and bullying; but that's nothing compared to the secret she holds about the High Lord of the Magicians - is he actually a Black Magic practitioner?
- The Black Echo - Michael Connelly
A reread. The first Harry Bosch novel introduces us to Harry, who is in disgrace because he'd shot a suspected serial murderer who was later found to be reaching for his wig, not a gun. A body stuffed into a drainpipe leads to Vietnam and diamonds. Gritty. Realistic.
- The Black Ice - Michael Connelly
A reread. The second Harry Bosch novel deals mainly with drug trafficking in Mexico, but it's certainly not a straightforward tale.
- The Concrete Blonde - Michael Connelly
A reread. The third Harry Bosch novel sees Harry in court facing a civil suit brought by the family of the suspected serial killer he'd shot dead a few years earlier. But a mysterious tip yields a previously undiscovered body, same M. O., but killed well after Harry's victim had been shot. So did he shoot the wrong person? Is the killer still out there?
- The Last Coyote - Michael Connelly
A reread. In the fourth Harry Bosch novel, Harry is suspended for having attacked his boss. So he turns his attention to solving the murder of his mother - unsolved for over 30 years. While he finally gets to the answer, the journey there may have extreme consequences.
- Dragon Prince - Melanie Rawn
A reread. Book One of the Dragon Prince trilogy. Dragons. A young prince needing to outsmart and outmanouver older and more established rivals. A wife with sunrunning abilities. Typical fantasy stuff.
- Dead Beat - Jim Butcher
Book 7 of the Harry Dresden files. Harry is blackmailed into finding The Word of Kemmler, but this turns out to be an extremely hazardous task, what with a whole bunch of necromancers also wanting the same thing. An explosive and high tension tale.
- The High Lord - Trudi Canavan
Book 3. Does an ancient enemy gather its forces - an enemy forgotten or dismissed too easily by the Guild Magicians? Sonea needs to trust the High Lord even as he introduces her to the forbidden Black Magic.
- On a Pale Horse - Piers Anthony
Incarnations of Immortality Book 1. My favourite of the entire series - dealing with Death.
- Bearing An Hourglass - Piers Anthony
Incarnations of Immortality Book 2. The most confusing of the series - so Chronos lives life backwards?? Eh??
- With a Tangled Skein - Piers Anthony
Incarnations of Immortality Book 3. By the time you reach this book, you realise that it's pretty much the same formula - mortal becomes an Incarnation. satan messes with new Incarnation. New Incarnation needs to see though his lies all by him/herself. Satan thwarted. This one deals with one of the Incarnations of Fate.
- Wielding a Red Sword - Piers Anthony
Incarnations of Immortality Book 4. Dealing with the Incarnation of War... and you meet sning again / for the first time. Hmmmmm....
- Being a Green Mother - Piers Anthony
Incarnations of Immortality Book 5. Things seem to run in the family, and you start to wonder about Piers Anthony's overall story arc... this tale has a slightly different twist, and you get to see Satan through new eyes - just how human is he?
- For Love of Evil - Piers Anthony
Incarnations of Immortality Book 6. The story of how the "current" Incarnation of Evil got into his office. Showing how "human" he is, and painting him not as a pure evil person, but, strangely enough, someone who is just doing his job.
[Didn't get to touch Book 7 before leaving Malaysia, pity! I vaguely remember how everything is finally brought together by the tale dealing with the Incarnation of Good, i.e. God]
- The Book of Divination - Ann Fiery
Eh. Meant to read-read, ended up skimming it instead. This overview of divination is really not worth a read: if you want to know details of various methods of divination, might be better to get a specialised book.
(Yes, only one pseudo-read for this month - but hey, it *was* my first month back in the U.S.! Had better things to do than read!!)
*gasp!* didn't read a single book this month!! *gasp!!!* I had a good reason ;-)
- The Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly
A rare non-Harry Bosch novel, but it's still set in Boschland since the protagonist Mickey Haller is Harry's half brother, after all! [More at FWDT]
- Life of Pi - Yann Martel
A fantastic tale that had me searching the net to figure out if it was really fiction, or actually based on real life! Thought-provoking, and not for anyone who doesn't like to be challenged. [More at FWDT]
- Sunstroke - Jesse Kellerman
The first novel by the son of Jonathan and Faye Kellerman isn't too bad. Perhaps a bit too convoluted, as if the author was trying to be a bit too clever with the plot twists and turns, but a relatively good read nonetheless. [More at FWDT]
- The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
Lily Owen leads a dry and unfulfilling life with her cold and distant father on their peach orchard. When her black nanny pisses off the worst white bigot in town when on the way to register to vote, Lily skips town with Rosaleen, with a vague hope that answers about her mother can be found in Tiburon, South Carolina. The rest of the tale, while rather contrived, is so engrossing and endearing that you just have to keep reading.
- Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West - Gregory Maguire
Highly recommended! An amazing retelling of the L Frank Baum tale, but with a focus on who we know only as The Wicked Witch of the West by way of a sort of reverse-engineering, filling in so much back story that you can't help but be amazed at how much you had NOT questioned assumptions/conditions presented in the original story. You also will want to read the original tale to see just how much was pure imagination, and how much had some basis in the original tale. Whatever. Just read it. You won't regret it. Guaranteed!
- The Ninth Life of Louis Drax - Liz Jensen
This is another unusual book dealing with the subject of a rather "special" child: this time it's young Louis Drax, who seems to have near-fatal accidents once a year. The compelling narrative switches from the mind of the comatose Louis to his doctor who might be uncovering the nasty truth about Louis' annual accidents. A vaguely unsettling story, but certainly worth the read.
- Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings - Christopher Moore
Eh. This tale could have been a lot better. Yes, I learned about whales, and Jah... but overall, it disappointed. I think it tried too hard.
- A Salty Piece of Land - Jimmy Buffet
An impulse borrowing, and I didn't know what to expect. The first part of the tale went a bit too slowly. Then it picked up speed, and read essentially like Forrest Gump, filled with some unlikely fortuitous coincidences that come together to form a surprisingly very readable book. From the guy who sang to us about searching for that lost shaker of salt. Who'd've thunk?
- Cell - Stephen King
On one hand, it was awesome to sink my teeth into a good old fashioned horror story from the master of the genre. On the other hand, this is a simpler version of The Stand. A very disappointing version. Readable, yes. Satisfying, no. But perhaps it will make you think twice about your dependency on cellphones!
- Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
One of my target must-reads of the year. I think I'm going to have to read it a second time before I can form a real opinion of this tale. A time-travelling tale what is supposed to also be anti-war... unsual, for sure.
- Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert
Kosh has dragged me kicking and screaming into this series. He also said this book was the least good of the original series, but I've got to say, I quite enjoyed the exploration of power, religion and "corruption of the message", and delighted in the idea that with the regular masses dabbling with the Dune Tarot and futuretelling, Paul's ability to foresee the future was severely compromised by the "muddying of the waters of the future", if you will.
- The Brief History of the Dead - Kevin Brockmeier
Another unusual premise - that "heaven" is populated by people who are remembered by those still living on earth. So what happens when a virus seems to have wiped out everyone on earth? Who is keeping the "citizens" of "heaven" "alive"? It's an intriguing book, pity that the final chapter muddied everything up, as if the author became a bit too clever by half. Still worth a read.
- Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living - Carrie Tiffany
Set in Australia's Mallee in the 1930's, this stark tale explores the growing of wheat in one of the worst areas to do so in Australia. But don't let that fool you into thinking it's a dry [haha!] tale: it's rich in exploration of the human condition, both good and bad. Certainly different.
- The Dead Zone - Stephen King
A book I realised I'd never read [kept confusing it with The Tommyknockers], and finally sat down to read after catching a few episodes on late night TV. Ah, classic excellent King. Certainly worth a read.
Total = 48 + 34 = eighty-two books.
This is the first time I've ever kept tabs on books read. I think I'll continue this for next year. If nothing else, it helps me remember key points of each book, and helps me remember the book itself too!
I still wonder what my running total is: just how many books have I consumed in my 34+ years?