Happy New Year!
New year, fresh start for reading. I’ve never had any specific goals for reading, other than to read more. This year, I’ve decided to actually be more specific, and deliberate with my reading. In 2017 I exceeded my Goodreads goal, but it was a struggle at times. Part of the problem was that I was distracted by all the great television. Between Netflix, Hulu, HBO and everything else, it was, and still is, very easy to just plop down in front of the TV and binge a show. I’d like to change that, and plop down on the the couch and binge a book! There aren’t too many sows that I need or want to watch live, so there’s no reason why I can’t make reading my default, and fit TV in between those times when I’m not reading. So, here’s my plan for 2018:
- Goodreads Goal: 25 books
- At least 30 minutes to an hour each day reading. The TV will not be on, no other distractions. This can be a designated time before bed or right after work.
- Expand beyond traditional sci fi and fantasy. Maybe more young adult, urban fantasy, contemporary fiction, historical fiction etc. Expand those horizons! Its not like I’ve never read literary fiction before, so why not add that back into the rotation?
- Re-read Favorites. When in a rut, pull out an old favorite. I won’t necessarily finish the book, but use it as a time filler while deciding on a new book. It keeps up the habit of daily reading. And its always nice to re-visit old favorites!
- Second Chances. Be willing to give some books a second chance. Life is too short to read books you don’t like, but sometimes you just need to give it a go again, because it may turn out to be a new favorite.
We’ll see how this goes! What are your reading goals for 2018?
A couple months ago, I posted the books I planned on reading in the first part of 2017. Well, its been slow, to say the least. I’ve been reading, but I only managed to read one of the books I listed, and that was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m not giving a full review here, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had some minor quibbles with some of the time jumps, and going back to explain how a character ended up in a certain situation (not a device I am particularly fond of), but it did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. I was very invested in Ifemelu’s story. It’s an immigrant’s story, and a perspective that we don’t often see- that of a black African navigating race relations in the United States. Ifemelu’s perspective and how she and other Africans, particularly Nigerians, view race compared to African Americans, was something I personally had always thought about, and I enjoyed seeing that perspective fleshed out. It’s also a love story, so the separation of Ifemelu and Obinze, and the clash of cultures they both experience, are woven together very well.
I’m still anxious to read The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. I’m getting that one from the library, and there’s a huge waiting list!
I’m up in the air about The City by Stella Gemmell. I’m not sure why, but hopefully I will get to it.
Of course, The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams will be released on June 27. The world will stop for me on that date!
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin was also on the list. For some reason I’m afraid to start this one. I enjoyed The Inheritance Trilogy, but her subsequents books really didn’t grab me. I hope to eventually give this one a try.
I just finished Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I hope to review that trilogy soon. Also, I am interesting in reading a new book, The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger. I’d like to review this one as well.
Are you meeting your 2017 reading goals?
This is in no particular order, although I will say that A Song of Ice and Fire is number one, with The Chronicles of Narnia as a very close number two. (Talk about polar opposites!)
- A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin I’ve been reading this series since almost day one. I began A Game of Thrones when it was in paperback, just before A Clash of Kings was published. Re-reading and discussing theories with other fans was a new and wonderful experience for me. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the fan community back then, and even got to meet and hang out with George a tiny bit. A great life experience that I’ll never forget! Waiting patiently for The Winds of Winter…
- The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan This is an interesting one because it introduced me to online fandom. I picked up The Great Hunt, which is the second book in the series, and thought it was okay, but I felt like I was missing something. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I had skipped the first book! So I bought The Eye of the World, and was hooked. I went online to find out when the next one was coming out. That’s when I discovered websites like wotmania.com (which is no longer active). People were discussing theories and characters, and I had no idea what they were talking about! So I re-read the books and the rest is history! Another farm boy who becomes a king…a savior…a devil? Depends on who you ask!
- The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracey Hickman Wow. DRAGONS!! This was my first real “grown up” fantasy series. Again, I read the second book in the trilogy (this seems to be a habit) and thought it was amazing! Years later, I had the pleasure of meeting Margaret Weiss and Tracey Hickman at a con. It was great to be able to tell them in person how much this series influenced my love of fantasy. This is more of the questing type story. A rag tag group of people thrown together to defeat evil. Its got elves AND dragons! Yes!
- Dragon Prince/Dragon Star by Melanie Rawn This story was one of my favorites because it had so many characters and everyone seemed to be related! It was like a soap opera in some ways. And I mean that as a compliment. I loved the idea of sunlight as a source for magic. Its got everything- dragons and jewels, and pretty people and romance!
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis This one is near and dear to my heart. I used to read this series as a child over and over again. I spent a lot of time by myself and this series was my trusted companion. To this day, I still read this series at least a couple times a year, or I’ll listen to it on audiobook. The images and lessons from this series have stayed with me all my life. Further up and further in!
- Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams I’ve been talking about this series quite a bit recently since there are new Osten Ard books being published. I won’t repeat everything here, but I still gravitate towards stories similar to this one. I mean, its got elf like people! And the scullery boy who’s really a king! Classic.
These are series that one day may creep into my top 5, but they are not quite ready yet…
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling Loved the series, but haven’t had an interest to re-read them. If I ever do, then it may creep up on the list.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins I adore this series, even though I tend to not like first person narratives. However, I inhaled this trilogy in just a couple days. I loved the movies as well.
- The Expanse by James S. A. Corey I typically don’t read science fiction, but I will watch it. However, this series got my hooked from day one, as I have talked about before. I will definitely need to re-read it.
- African Immortals by Tananarive Due I want to say that this was my first introduction to African American speculative fiction, even though I had read Octavia Butler before this. However, this series was something new and unique for me. To this day I still think this series would make a fantastic movie or TV show. Immortal Africans? The blood of Jesus? You can’t miss with that!
- The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings Looking back, The Belgariad series was not all that great , but I gobbled it up at the time. Another farm boy who becomes king! I like series with multiple countries and cultures and this one fit the bill. For my young self, it was so epic and sprawling! I used to spend almost my whole weekly allowance buying the books. Now, it’s more nostalgia that makes me add this as an honorable mention.
What are some of your favorites?
Well, I did a Reading Round-up last time, so now let’s move on to TV!
These are TV shows that I am currently watching, just finished watching, or ones that I am looking forward to. These are mostly sci/fi and fantasy, but I did include some others. As usual, they are in no particular order. I already do more in depth pieces on 12 Monkeys and Man in the High Castle, so I won’t list them again here. These are shows that I’m not going to do regular posts about, but that I am enjoying watching. As usual, these are in no particular order.
- The Expanse (SyFy) I have posted about the book series already, but needless to say the TV show is fantastic. The production values are high quality for television and the story is staying very true to the spirit of the books. Season 2 is currently airing. The SyFy channel has really upped its game. Its nice to see the channel focus on good quality science fiction programming, rather than shows with only a tangental relationship to the genre. Bravo, SyFy!
- The Magicians (SyFy) Once again, another great series from SyFy, based on a book series (The Magicians by Lev Grossman). I like the show, however, even though I’ve read the books, the show can get a bit confusing. From episode to episode, and sometimes from scene to scene, it feels as though something is missing, whether its a scene or a whole episode. It is very jumpy. I have found that binging a few episodes at a time is helpful. Having read the books helps, but in places where they have veered very far from the books, sometimes it becomes muddled. I do recommend this series, but you have to pay close attention. No playing on your phone while watching this one!
- Emerald City (NBC) This show has finished its first season. It is a take on the Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum. Notice I said a take on the book series, not on the movie. I’ve only read the Wizard of Oz, and if your only exposure to this story is the classic movie, well, lets just say the books are not a technicolor fantasy. Its quite dark. So, basing the tv series on the books rather than the movie was a pretty interesting take. Of course, the characters are very grey, and the story includes elements from the books that I don’t think have ever really been translated to the screen. The story has its issues, but if you are looking for something that is not just a re-make of the movie, this is worth checking out. The ratings were not that great, so I don’t know if it has been picked for a second season, but even with its future up in the air, I do recommend giving the show a try.
- 3% (Netflix) This one is something that I wouldn’t normally watch, but I was looking for something different, and this came up on my Neflix home page. I’m glad I took a chance! This is a Brazilian show about a future society where people are given the chance to live in a better, utopian society. However, only 3% of the candidates are taken. Those chosen to compete for a spot in the utopia are put through a series of challenges, and of course, the surviving 3% get to move “offshore” to the utopia. And, as you can imagine, this utopian society is probably not a real utopia. The show is in Portuguese, so you can watch it dubbed in English (or other languages) or use subtitles. Its a great show, and it has been picked up by Netflix for a second season.
- Prison Break (FOX, April 4, 2017) I was a huge Prison Break fan when the show first aired in 2005. It aired for 4 seasons, plus an extra episode called “The Final Break”. As you can guess from the title, its about a prison break. The main character comes up with an elaborate plan to get himself into the same prison where his brother is on death row, in order to break his brother out of prison. Every episode is a piece of the plan to break out. It is woven together brilliantly, and the first season is riveting. By the 3rd and 4th seasons it got a bit convoluted, but its still a great thrill ride. A new season is coming to FOX on April 4th, 2017. It takes place a few years after the events of season 4. You can watch all of the previous seasons on Netflix.
- The Americans (FX) The Americans is about Russian spies living in the U.S. in the early 80s. They are posing as your typical suburban American family. The parents are the spies, but their two kids have no idea. I can’t say too much without spoiling it, but there is a lot of eighties nostalgia going on, in addition to all the spy stuff. Its very dark and keeps you on the edge of you seat. he episodes can get slow at times, but the precarious situations the spies get themselves into, and the lengths to which they have to go to accomplish the mission, are very intense. Highly recommended. Be forewarned that there are some graphic scenes, so if you’re squeamish, be prepared to cover your eyes. A lot. Its currently in its 5th season. Its final season (season 6) will air next year.
Other shows I’m watching include: All the Marvel Netflix shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist); Arrow, The Flash, Better Call Saul (although I am a season behind).
There’s more I could add, but this gives you an idea of what I like. What are you watching?
This is just a post to give everyone an idea of what I’ve been reading this month, and my anticipated reading for the next couple months.
Like many people, I have a bunch of books in my virtual “to read” pile. There are so many good books and so little time to read them. One of my goals for 2017 is to make more time for books. There’s a lot of great TV and movies out right now, and its so easy to get home from work, plop down on the couch, and flick on the TV. Rather than saving reading for the weekend, I’d like to get more reading done during the week. Anyway, here are a few of the books in my “to read” pile, and what I am currently reading right now.
Currently Reading: The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley (Book 2 of The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne). I raced through the first book in this series, The Emperor’s Blades. I haven’t read a good epic fantasy in awhile, and this one definitely filled the void. I may do a full review of the entire trilogy when I’m finished, but so far I am really enjoying this.
To Read (in no particular order):
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I’m late to the game on this one, but I’ve heard great things about it, so of course I will give it a try. It is about a slave named Cora, who, of course, uses the Underground Railroad, a network of people, places and things used by slaves escaping slavery in the American South. This novel won the National Book Award and was an Oprah Book Club pick, so of course, I must read it.
- The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin I have read her books before, most notably The Inheritance Trilogy, and really enjoyed it. I have not been able to connect with her other books, but after reading a sample of The Fifth Season, I definitely want to give it a try. This novel won the Hugo Award for Best Novel of 2016.
- The City by Stella Gemmell Stella Gemmell is the wife of the late author, David Gemmell. I read David Geemmell’s trilogy, Troy, and one of his other novels, The Lion of Macedon. You can read my review of The Lion of Macedon here. David Gemmell died before he could finish the final book in the Troy trilogy, so Stella completed the novel for him. I love Greek mythology and stories from ancient Greece and Rome, and The City takes place in a similar setting. What I have read of the sample has peaked my interest, so at some point this year I will give it a try.
- The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams. I am so looking forward to this! I have already posted my thoughts on Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and The Heart of What Was Lost. Needless to say, book 2 in The Last King of Osten Ard is tops for me.
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read the sample and was hooked. This is, in part, the story of a Nigerian immigrant to America, and how she grapples with her values and ideals in a post 9/11 America. These are stories we don’t hear enough about, and I can’t wait to dive into this one. Again, I’m late to the party on this one, but at least I’m getting there!
There are more on my list, but this gives you an idea of what I’m diving into in the next few months. I’m always on the lookout for new stuff, so my list will only grow.
What’s on your list?
This is one of my favorite series of all time. I have apparently been under a rock, because I recently discovered that there will be a new trilogy set in Osten Ard, the world of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn! A “bridge” story will be published January 3, 2017 entitled The Heart of What Was Lost, which will cover the year between the end of the third book in MS&T and the beginning of the new trilogy. Thus, I have begun my re-read of Memory Sorrow and Thorn! Here are all the stats:
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams (www.tadwilliams.com)
- The Dragonbone Chair
- Stone of Farewell
- To Green Angel Tower
The Heart of What Was Lost (publishing January 3, 2017)
The Last King of Osten Ard Trilogy
- The Witchwood Crown (publishing June, 2017)
- Empire of Grass
- The Navigator’s Children
I won’t be posting updates on my re-read, but I will post my reviews of The Heart of What Was Lost and the Last King of Osten Ard Trilogy. Can’t wait! Is it 2017 yet?
And hopefully, a new commitment. Many of us make resolutions for the coming new year, and inevitably, we fall short of our goals. But in the process of making them, we at least put some thought into how we’d like to improve ourselves. Well, i’m now different, and I am going to TRY (emphasis on “try”) to be more consistent with my blog, and post new things each month. Hopefully, if I expand beyond books and move into TV, I can be more prolific. We shall see!
So, lets see if I can make this work!
Happy New Year!