Books to Read in 2015

As my ‘Books to Read in 2014‘ post was such a failure, most of 2015 shall be spent trying to catch up on that list! But here are a few suggestions for reading challenges you can do, with links below to where they’re from.

I’ll try to follow them as well, but mainly I’ll be trying to clear lists of books I already had from years before.

Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge

Again, I’ll be aiming to read 150 books over on Goodreads. Graphic novels, short stories etc aren’t included – this is only for novels.

Goodreads2015

Bit by Bit

This’ll tie into other challenges, but a few books on my to-read pile are so massive or daunting that I’ve been putting off reading them for far too long. so now, even if I only read 2% or something a day, I swear that this year I’ll get through a few of them!

  • Let the Land Speak by Jackie French (reason: 400+ pages, non-fiction)
  • The Mists of Avalon (Avalon #1) by Marion Zimmer Bradley (reason: 1000+ pages, author-behaving-badly)
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (reason: 900+ pages)
  • Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable by Chambers (reason: 1500+ pages, non-fiction)

(Only four books so far, gotta keep it manageable! I doubt I’ll even manage these to be honest.) 

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

There are 24 tasks in the Read Harder Challenge (or roughly two per month). You can tackle them in any order, make any changes, do them all in a month or spread them out over the year. Make the challenge yours!

  • A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
  • A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
  • A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)
  • A book published by an indie press
  • A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ
  • A book by a person whose gender is different from your own
  • A book that takes place in Asia
  • A book by an author from Africa
  • A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)
  • A microhistory
  • A YA novel
  • A sci-fi novel
  • A romance novel
  • A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
  • A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)
  • An audiobook
  • A collection of poetry
  • A book that someone else has recommended to you
  • A book that was originally published in another language
  • A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?)
  • A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realise that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)
  • A book published before 1850
  • A book published this year
  • A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)

The ABC challenge

I couldn’t find an original link to this one, only various people doing it. Pretty simple – read a book that has a title starting with A, then B, then C… and so on! I may just do this one, as it seems an easy way to get through books I’ve already listed.

A – A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
B – Besieged (The Outcast Chronicles #1) by Rowena Cory Daniells
C – Cold Magic (Spiritwalker #1) by Kate Elliot OR Cordelia’s Honor (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold
D – Daggerspell (Deverry #1) by Katharine Kerr OR Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye
E – The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde
F – Flame of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters, #6) by Juliet Marillier
G – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn OR Geist (Book of the Order #1) by Philippa Ballantine
H – Heart of the Mirage (Mirage Makers #1) by Glenda Larke
I – The Innocent Mage (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker #1) by Karen Miller
J – Jubilee Manor (Landry Park #2) by Bethany Hagen
K – Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
L – Libriomancer (#1 Magic Ex Libris) by Jim C. Hines
M – Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin
N – Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
O – Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy #1) by Margaret Atwood
P – Perfume by Patrick Süskind
Q – All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
R – Range of Ghosts (#1 Eternal Sky) by Elizabeth Bear
S – Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd
T – A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
U – Untold (#2 The Lynburn Legacy) by Sarah Rees Brennan
V – The Vesuvius Club (Lucifer Box #1) by Mark Gatiss
W – For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
X – I tried, but it just seems impossible to find a worthy book that begins with x. I’ll keep searching, or I’ll use this as a free space. 
Y – The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2) by Margaret Atwood
Z – Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Speculating on SpecFic‘s Sequel Challenge

Over on Speculating on SpecFic I saw the very awesome idea to assist with getting caught up on series that you’re currently part way through. The way it works is:

  • 1 point for Book Two of a series;
  • 2 points for Book Three of a series; and
  • 3 points for any additional books in longer series.

What a brilliant idea! I’ll certainly be trying this one out for size. No idea how many points I should aim for though? Seems from my above ABC list I’m starting too many new series rather than finishing off ones already started!

Though I did make an excellent decision of letting go a few series. The first book can be good and the second book utterly dull sometimes – and you know what, that’s okay. The first book was enjoyable and I should be able to let it go after that, regardless of how many are in the series.

 PopSugar’s Reading Challenge 2015

ccc0001cc6a0b0ae_Love_Sex-2015ReadingChallenge

The Reading Hour

The Reading Hour is an annual celebration being held this Saturday 24 August.

The aim is to spread the simple message to ‘share a book with your child ten minutes a day, an hour a week, and give them the gift of reading.’ It was started as part of The National Year of Reading in an effort to combat Australia’s low literacy rates.

There are hundreds of celebrations happening in businesses and homes around the country and wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could get everyone to join in and help us spread the word. There will be a fun interactive children’s ebook which can be downloaded for FREE all day Saturday as part of the national celebrations.

Love2Read raises the status and visibility of reading and literacy nationwide, promotes the benefits of reading and storytelling as critical life skills and catalysts for well-being, and unifies the national literacy network working toward Australia becoming a nation of readers. http://www.love2read.org.au

trh-key-message

Stairs to Ventureadlaxre

Best Books of 2012

Books read and to be published in 2013

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

A coming of age story set in the unspecified future of America that captured my interested as soon as it spoke of the destruction of Australia and how we were replaced by AI computers until we were able to repopulate once again, along with the rest of the world.

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius (edited) by John Joseph Adams

A fantastic collection about superheroes and villains and those around them in a variety of ways. With authors such as Mira Grant and Mary Robinette Kowal, and cover art by Ben Templesmith, it’s a struggle to find anything lacking. Highly recommended for the high quality within!

Books read and published in 2012

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

A dystopian novella set in 2013, 2014 and 2035, telling the story from three split times (as one could probably guess from the title) of the world almost destroyed by a combination of things. What grabs you about this book is how plausible it all could be – it’s all so very well written, and sticks in your mind long after you’ve read it.

Blackout by Mira Grant

Last in the ‘Newsflesh’ series, this continued to be a fast-paced, epic and as ever surprising end to the fantastic series. Out of all zombie novels currently available, this stands to be the very best in my humble opinion, a series that’s too hard to categorise – science-fiction? Political thriller? Medical? Mystery? Whatever it is, it is sure to become a classic.

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

The book that we were all waiting for, then to discover it was… well, not entirely what we were expecting, even after the synopsis was released. A harsh look upon society that isn’t exactly nice to read, but probably needs more exposure. A book that makes us thankful for what we do have, it’s cleverly woven together to show the ties we have with friends, family, at work and where we live, and how these can all deflect and reflect from each other. A hard, worthy read.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

This is split into two worlds, one in Cambridge, England, and one in the fantasy Kingdom of Cello – it’s beautifully written, not strictly fantasy, nor simply mystery or literature – this is a mix of lovely and sad, biter and sweet, crazy and utterly sane and clever, intelligent and demands to be shared.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Another book I’ve been waiting for thanks to the first book in the series. It starts with the line: ‘Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching.’ and continues with beautiful description and dialogue throughout. One of the few books where the second in the series is as capturing as the first.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

About a Forger, someone who can use magic to recreate or edit any item or person as long as she knows its history. Using it on humans though is strictly forbidden, something she only does on herself usually… but when she’s captured while trying to steal the emperor’s sceptre, they offer her another option rather than death. She is to create a new soul for the emperor who, after an attack, is very close to death.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

A moving story that deals with cancer in teenagers brutally well, in more ways than one. Though the characters are hipsters to an almost painful level, the wit and intelligence Green brings to YA is a blessing. It’s an important message that one doesn’t need to live a long life, for it to be meaningful and brilliant.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

About a man whose unique mental condition allows him to imagine a slew of ‘imaginary friends’, who happen to have a wide range of skills that he can therefore access, since they are after all, only in his head.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

A memoir by the blogger The Bloggess, who is certainly on a very special, lovely kind of crack. Her work can’t help but be shared – you laugh out loud even (or especially) when it’s not appropriate, and you can’t help but adore her and everything she does.

The Painter’s Apprentice by Charlotte Betts

Just as wonderful as her first book, ‘The Apothecary’s Daughter’ (and connects on to the end, but not a series as such), it was impossible to put down even though I started it late at night – I had to read into the early hours of the morning! It’s about a girl who can’t imagine leaving her childhood home – a comforting hostel for those who would otherwise be shafted into Bedlam – she especially enjoys the company of a painter by the name of Johannes. As she has quite the talent for painting, all she has ever wanted is to develop her talent to be the very best it could ever be, and if that means never going through the distraction of marriage and a family, so be it.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

My introduction to Scalzi (who runs one of the most interesting blogs I’ve yet come across), this is a comedic science fiction tale involving time travel and a hefty dose of crack. Even those who’ve never watched Star Trek (or maybe just the latest set of movies staring Chris Pine etc and nothing else) will get a kick out of this book.

Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts

The third and final in the ‘Creature Court’ series, a fantastic end that makes you cry over the fact it’s over, as well as what happens to the characters! A very fitting end, realistic and meaningful. This series begins with ‘Power and Majesty’, and honestly – each book is as good as the other, which isn’t always the way of a trilogy. Highly recommended Australian author.

Shadow and Bone (also known as The Gathering Dark) by Leigh Bardugo

I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would, thanks to how build up it was. Overall this book is a mixture of the cliché and familiar, yet surprising and thought-provoking, as we read about almost typical boarding-school bitchyness with makeovers and balls, done somehow in a non-annoying way. This book manages to provide guilty pleasures in beautiful prose, using these plot lines in a way that aids the character and plot development.

To Spin a Darker Stair (edited) by Tehani Wessely

Two stories by two authors, dark retellings of fairytales which draw you in only to kick your heart around.

Tales of the Far West (edited) by Gareth-Michael Skarka

Yes, purchased because it features my ever-favourite Scott Lynch, this is an anthology based in the same world with stories that could tie in together – mentions of Twin Eagle Security mentioned in more than one story and so on, which was fantastically nifty to read.

Books read in 2012 (yet published earlier)

Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The first book I read of Sanderson’s that wasn’t Mistborn, where I was blown away by his range. Wax and Wayne are in my top five set of characters of all times, and the wit and fun in this book just makes me grin to even think about it.

American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson

A memoir by the brilliance that is Craig Ferguson, we see his pretty-dang awful childhood and find even more reasons to love this man.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between. It’s fantastic to have a well-rounded book, one that has a well developed plot, believable characters, beautiful description and above all else – a well written novel.

The Calling (Luther) by Neil Cross

Written by the show’s writer, this book is really creepy and so, so wrong in parts, yet it’s brilliant. It does have animals being hurt which I can’t deal with that well (but humans are fine, apparently) and can’t recommend this book enough to those who love the show. It ends right as the show begins, and gives you a very detailed window into the characters.

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

So I’ll review the series as a whole, and just say that I utterly adore it all to bits. Though the ending broke my heart a little bit.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is the perfect book for gamers and geeks alike. It’s the year 2044, and there’s a competition to win an ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world – a competition that’s been going on for so long that no one really expects to find it anymore. Until Wade does.

The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein

a modern (well, set in 1971 and after) fairytale set in America, involving the family Feierabend and their uncanny life of luck. This book made me wish there was more of it, because I felt a certain kind of sadness when it was over, and still felt the need to pick it up and continue reading it for the rest of the day, and a few days after that.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

It’s Brandon Sanderson – do I need to say more? You read one book of his and then have to get your hands on everything else. This book is so thick that I have a version that’s printed in two parts – and each is still thicker than most fantasy is! And every damn chapter is wonderful.

Aurealis Awards

The Aurealis Awards are ‘for works of speculative fiction written by an Australian citizen, or permanent resident’ and run each year, allowing only works that are published within that year to be nominated. The Aurealis Awards were established in 1995.

There is an award for each category: science fiction novel, science fiction short story, fantasy novel, fantasy short story, horror novel, horror short story, young adult novel, young adult short story, children novel, children short story, anthology and collection. There is also the ‘The Convenors’ Award for Excellence’ which is ‘awarded at the discretion of the convenors for a particular achievement in speculative fiction or related areas in that year that cannot otherwise be judged for the Aurealis Awards. It can be for a work of non-fiction, artwork, film, television, electronic or multimedia work, or that which brings credit or attention to the speculative fiction genres.’

Self-published and e-published works are allowed, so if you know of anyone eligible, please encourage them to visit the Aurealis Awards site.

As a judge myself since 2011, I can’t talk of Aurealis enough. The judging teams love their work, and it’s inspiring to see so much Australian work executed to such a high level.

If you are interested in any reading recommendations, lists of previous winners can be found on the site, and each year a shortlist is released .

Please take the time to take a look at the Aurealis Awards if you are interested in speculative fiction. I guarantee you’ll find something of interest. If you have any queries about what the work load is like, or how it’s run, please don’t hesitate to ask.