Ramblings

#12forXmas Summary

SOUP & SALAD

In December I participated in The Twelve Books of Christmas, hosted by the wonderful Shainareads. Thanks so much for hosting the challenge, I have really enjoyed pushing myself to read the 12 books, and it encouraged me to read some of the shorter books in my collection that I would normally not read.

I managed to finish my 12th book on the 31st of the month, but I was concerned I wasn’t going to finish! My Christmas and New Year were pretty full on, but I managed to finish my reading!

Here is my final list of books I read;

The Redeemers – Ace Atkins – 370p
22 Dead Little Bodies – Stuart MacBride – 150p
Silent Creed – Alex Kava – 336p
Revenge! – Charles Whiting – 170p
Ice Force – Matt Lynn – 460p
Murder Team – Chris Ryan – 106p
Kingdom of the Strong – Tony Cavanaugh – 368p
The Scarlet Plague – Jack London – 192p
Gridlock – Sean Black – 347p
In The Cold Dark Ground – Stuart MacBride – 528p
Killer Instinct – Zoe Sharp – 340p
Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton – 117p

Next year, I will definitely participate in this challenge again, it has been wonderful, and I have met so many new people through twitter and had the chance to follow some new wonderful blogs!

Top 15 of 2015

It’s the end of another year! I can’t believe how quickly this year has passed. There have been some great moments and some not so great moments, but I am ready for 2016! I’ve read some great books in 2015, and I have compiled a list of the 15 best books, according to me. I’m surprised by how many new releases have made my list, most years I usually work my way through author’s backlists, but now I am actually caught up with quite a few of my favourite series. Anyway, onto the list! I’ve linked to my reviews, if I happened to review them!

 

15. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

I really enjoyed this novel, I read it so that I could teach the short story at school, but found myself wishing I could just teach the novel. It brings to mind so many questions about morals and disability.

14. Kingdom of the Strong by Tony Cavanaugh

Such a great book! So tense and well plotted out. My first foray into Cavanaugh’s work, but I’m going to go hustle up some copies of his backlist.

13. Lockdown by Sean Black

I chose to include the first book in this series in my list, despite liking book 3 just as much. I discovered this series in 2015, and I am loving it. Lock is such a great character and I love his tough-cool sidekick, Ty.

12. The Sniper & The Wold by Scott McEwen and Thomas Koloniar

Yet another series I started this year, this series follows Gil Shannon who is a sniper. I love the way Ewen and Koloniar mixes political, military, action and family drama to create really involved storylines.

11. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

One of the better classics I have read, this one had a really great twist at the end and kept me reading through a readathon!

10. Black Ops by Stephen Leather

Leather’s Spider Shepherd series is my favourite series – and Black Ops was a solid addition to it. I get so excited to read these books when they are released, then power through all 500p in less than a day. This was a fun read, but doesn’t feature higher up the list because other books have been more memorable.

9. Diggers Rest Hotel by Geoffrey McGeachin

The first in the Charlie Berlin series – Diggers Rest Hotel is a historical mystery set in the 60’s and 70’s Melbourne. It is really interesting and the characters that McGeachin has created are second to none. This whole series is worth checking out.

8. Sandakan – Paul Ham 

Sandakan took me AGES to read – about 3 months. It was too heavy to read for prolonged periods, but I felt so compelled to know more that I kept picking it back up, reading for ten pages, and then putting it down in disgust. Not at the author, but at what happened. This is one of those non-fiction reads that made me angry (also, how could I have not been told about this in my many years studying history at university) and will stick with me for a long time.

7. Death Force – Matt Lynn

I’ve read all four books in the Death Force series, and they rate up there – each one earning at least four star ratings. My average on Goodreads is 3.2, so that tells you something about how many 4’s and 5’s I award! The big difference about these military thrillers is that it surrounds a team or mercenaries who are completing dangerous jobs not for queen and country, but for their bank balance. It adds a different element. I also like the way that these books feature a very strong ensemble of characters, from all over the world. The last book in the series would be my favourite, but I’ll always be thankful to Death Force for hooking me.

6. In The Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride. – Review to come in 2016

I had MacBride’s other novel The Misisng and the Dead at number 8 in this list, but I read In The Cold Dark Ground at the very end of December and it deserves its place higher up this list. I’m a total fangirl for McRae – I love him and his boss/friend/annoyance Roberta Steel. This would be one of my favourite books of the series, I won’t give anything away but… so much happens. The ending is UNBELIEVABLE, and it made me cackle like a mad old witch.

5. Hellfire – Chris Ryan

The Danny Black series is strong. It was made stronger in Hellfire through an amazing plot featuring Caitlin. She would have to be my favourite character of the year – she was strong, capable and realistic. She was not introduced as a love interest, and although she ended up hooking up with someone, it certainly added depth to her character – not his! Hellfire was riveting, fact paced and Chris Ryan at the top of his game.

4. The Call of The Wild – Jack London

I read the whole of The Call of The Wild in my ophthalmologists waiting room. It was sensational, I loved its exploration of the similarities between beast and man. After I finished it, I was talking about it for weeks. I’ve also just built a unit plan around it and cannot wait to teach it (hopefully in 2016!)

3. The Devil’s Anvil – Matt Hilton

The Joe Hunter series is one that has cemented its place in my bookshelf and heart. The first few books in the series were good, but a bit formulaic. They combine the hunting down a serial killer trope with the action man character. That’s great, but in the past few books the plot has deepened and the characters have become more engaging. I also have an obsession with the banter between Hunter and Rink – it is so witty and hilarious.

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Damn, Wilde can write. I know, that’s not news, but I hadn’t known. I wasn’t ready and I was blown away. The storyline is so well known, so how can you be surprised? I need to hunt down more Wilde now, but I haven’t squeezed him into my classics club list, so it will have to be additional to my monthly classics club read!

1. Fortress by Andy McNab

This surprises me. I like Andy McNab books, and I’ve probably read close to a dozen. They are always enjoyable, but somewhat mindless action romps in which the hero does remarkable things to save the world/the girl/the company and then proceeds like it is no big deal. Not so with Fortress. I was emotionally invested in Buckingham’s situation. I identified with his background and where he was coming from. The exploration of politics and moral issues was deep and complex, with a delicate handling of racism and right-wing extremists. I have put off reading the next book in the series because this book was so good, I can’t imagine that anything will top it, and as such, it will be a disappointment. I’ve never felt like that about a book before.

As such, Fortress by Andy McNab is the best book I read in 2015

2016 Challenges & Reading goals

I hope everyone has enjoyed their holidays and had a lovely Christmas. I was spoilt rotten and have eaten way too much food! I’m now watching the Boxing day test match (yes, I enjoy cricket), eating leftover prawns and doing a little work on my blog. It’s the perfect afternoon!

One of my favourite things to do at the end of the year is to set myself lofty goals and challenges that I will most likely forget before winter! I’ve decided to set myself three reading goals and two blogging goals.

I’ve decided to keep my Goodreads goal the same as 2015: 52. It is an easy number to achieve, and thinking of that target as a book a week is reassuring. Most likely I will read more than the 52, but in the past 5 years I have had a really bad reading year where I read only 30 books (which was 2014, surprisingly) so I don’t want to set a massive goal and scare myself!

Another goal that I have set myself for 2016 is to make some space on my bookshelves and to read some of those books that have been languishing on them for the past ten years. I’ve even joined a challenge – the wonderful Read My Books Challenge, hosted by The Worn Bookmark. I’ve set my goals for that challenge over here, but to achieve them I will need to read 29 books off my bookshelf, net. So if I buy a book, the number will jump up to 30! I’ll keep track of this in my monthly roundups.

2016-read-my-books

My final reading challenge is concerning classics – I am going to read at least one a month. Every month I will select (or Classics club spin) a classic that I will read. If I read two (or three) in a month, it can’t count for a different month. Each classic needs to be on my classics club list and reviewed on my blog.

Onto my blogging goals – I’ve attempted to keep these simple this year. My first one is concerning reviews. The primary reason I blog is to review books I read, so I am going to spend more time and effort on my reviews. They aren’t what gets likes, comments and views, but they certainly are the cornerstone of this blog. I’m going to commit to posting one review a week and spending more time and effort writing well thought out and interesting reviews.

My second goal is to start doing a new feature on the blog and post a new update to it every month. I’ve decided that this project will be “Curated” which will bring together my love of story telling in multiple mediums. I’ll post more information on that in January, and hopefully a few people might join in and share their favourite collections!

That’s it for my goals, hope everyone has a great 2016!

The Classics Booktag

I’ve seen a couple of wonderful blogs doing The Classics Booktag and I thought I better jump in and put my own two cents in! I’d seriously recommend checking out Bellarah’s tag that I shamelessly stole this from!

1. An overhyped classic you really didn’t like:
Pride and Prejudice by Austen. It’s a load of cow crap, book-ified. I’ve had to read it twice for uni, and hated it the first time, considered book burning the second! To be honest, I didn’t even bother finishing it the second time, just relied on the residual hate from the first reading carry me through.
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2. Favorite time period to read about:
Any book set between July 1914 to November 1918, September 1939 to September 1945, November 1955 to April 1975 and August 1990 to February 1991. More a theme than a period, possibly. But maybe we could say 20th Century?
3. Favorite fairy-tale:
Probably Alice in Wonderland, being that it is the only one I have read.
4. What is the most embarrassed classic you haven’t read yet:
Classic – Ulysses. Modern Classic – Lolita.
5. Top 5 classics you would like to read (soon):
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Ulysses
The Secret Agent
Jane Eyre
Heart of Darkness
6. Favorite modern book/series based on a classic:
Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
7. Favorite movie version/tv-series based on a classic:
CLUELESS! It’s based on Emma by Jane Austen. My mind was blown when a uni course made that connection for me.
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8. Worst classic to movie adaptation:
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. SUCH A GREAT BOOK, ruined by a horrible movie. It included a 3 minute pillow fight between two characters, that never happened in the book! They also cut  out nearly all of the good stuff, so you hardly realise that Syb is a writer!
My_Brilliant_Career_FilmPoster
9. Favorite edition(s) you’d like to collect more classics from:
I’m currently working on collecting more from The Popular Penguins which are awesomely orange, and one day I will have to buy myself a beautiful set of Harvard Classics… 51 old hardbacks… mmm.
10. An underhyped classic you’d recommend to everyone:
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin – I was suprised by how much I enjoyed it, it has quite a few similarities to Jane Eyre, but is set in Australia… and written by an Australian teenage girl many moons ago! PICK IT UP AND READ IT!

A very naughty (or at least absentee) book blogger

I’ve been lurking my own blog. I just keep loading it up onto my phone, read a post or two, shake my head and then think about how much I’d like to see something new on there. I got angry at the blogger for not being consistant, and wished she would get her act together and post something new. You know, even just a stupid post saying that she is still reading, even if she hasn’t been reviewing.

Then I realised that blogger was me.

All I have to do is come back on here, write something painfully awkward, and my blog would then continue.

So here I am, writing an insecure and apologetic (mainly to myself) post about how I’m going to be posting again. I’ve even written a little ditty about my goals for 2015, concerning the book world. It goes like this;

First and foremost, my primary goal in 2015 is to enjoy the process and experience of reading. I will read books that are exciting to me, not books that I feel should be read or ones to appease others. By Dec 31st 2015, I hope to have completed 52 books and by complete I mean right to the end. I feel like this isn’t a lofty enough goal, and I should say I will read 100’s of books, but the years I have read the most have been ones where I set a realistic goal and can relax – so a book a week it is. I need to also keep in mind that I only read 30 books in 2014, which is probably the lowest number for the past six years. I will also update Goodreads as I progress, because I’m crap at that. Finally, I will make a consistant effort to keep Ranty Runt going, even if it is twitter sized reviews.

So here’s to 2015, and to enjoying books again.

Would You Rather…

I just stole this from alexinbookland, who had some pretty cool responses!

1. Only be able to read trilogies or stand-alones?
Stand-alones! If the option of series was here I would say that, hands down. But many of my favourite authors write stand-alones.

2. Female authors or Male authors?
It would have to be the men. Most of the books I read are written by male authors. I try to balance it out a little, but I generally fail at my attempts at balancing.

3. Shop only at Barnes and Nobles (we’ll assume Waterstones is the UK equivalent) or Amazon?
Amazon. I have a kindle and although there are aspects of amazon I loathe, there are so many books on kindle!

4. All books become movies or tv shows?
TV SHOWS EVERY TIME. I love Game of Thrones, True Blood, Generation Kill, Boardwalk Empire, UK Strike Back ect ect… which were all books first, you know. Movies… LOTR… and that was a series of movies. Generally I dislike movie adaptions and love TV show adaptions.

5. Read 5 pages a day or 5 books a week?
I would cry if I could only read 5 pages a day. I love weeks when I read 4 or 5 books, but I can never keep that pace up.

6. Be a professional reviewer or a professional author?
Professional reviewer. I have little interest in writing stories, I love reading them.

7. Only be able to read your top 20 favourite books forever or only to always have to read new books?
New books. I generally only read new-to-me books. On occasion I go back and revisit a favourite, but most of my favourites (perfume, to mock a killing bird, the circut) I have only read once.

8. Be a librarian or a bookseller?
Librarian. I love spreading around free book love! I’m actually considering doing a library science degree once I have completed my Education degree. Be a teacher librarian! MY CLASSROOM WOULD BE A LIBRARY!

9. Only read from favourite genre or from everything but your fav genre?
It would have to be my favourite genre. I could read thrillers and nothing else.

10. Physical or E-Book?
I love dead tree books, but I like utilising E-books and on occasion, audiobooks too!

10 favourite books

The problem with picking a list of 10 favourite books is that you have to exclude so many books that you love!

I deliberated over this a bit – and checked that all the books in my Goodread’s favourites shelf were here (and I’ve left some of them off this list anyway). It is quite diverse, with non-fiction, pulpy action and a sprinkling of classics. Image1. Perfume by Patrick Suskind.

My introduction to Perfume occurred on a 6 hour bus journey that began at midnight. I was supposed to sleep on the bus, instead I enhaled Suskind’s words. It was my first exposure to a penguin classic – and I kept buying little orange books afterwards, trying to recreate the romance I had with Perfume, but it never compared. The middle of this book, when the main character hibernates gave me terrible shivers, and is possibly one of the only characters I have read that has ever actually scared me.

2. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

This book should be treated like All Quiet on the Western Front is treated by scholars, as literature first and war commentary second. However, it seems to be only read by those who are already well versed in war literature. Matterhorn is a fictional account of the Vietnam War, written by a vet. Marlantes’ prose jumps from the pages, and I recommend this book to ANYONE who will listen.

3. Hard Landing by Stephen Leather

This book standing alone may not make my top 10, however, it needed to be included because I am obsessed with the main character, Spider Shepherd who stars in this series. Spider Shepherd has eaten up so much of my time, and I’ve re-read so many of the books that I can quote lines and randomly spurt facts from the novels. My boyfriend knows all about Shepherd, and can discuss many of his dangerous missions, and he hasn’t read a single book! It isn’t highbrow and at times I am ashamed of my love, but damn it, I love a man in camo.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

The book that introduced me to ‘the Classics’. Assigned in Year 9, I skim read it and thought it was boring, but was so engaged by the discussions in class I read it again, this time enjoying it. I haven’t read it as an adult, but just the memory of reading this book and being interested in what happened makes me smile. It was that moment when reading older books was no longer that scary, and I acknowledged that I do like reading. I plan on re-reading it soon.

5. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

Another book from school – however this is one I chose to study. I will always remember the look on my teacher’s face when I asked to write about war fiction. She was an older woman, and was trying to convince the four students in her class that the Bronte sisters, or Jane Austen were appropriate choices. I chose Remarque and Wilfred Owen. I haven’t looked back since, I study military history at university and my I’ll happily read any book that takes place during a war of some kind.

6. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

A suprise like for me – I knew it was set in WWII so I expected I would like it, but I loved it. I read the whole book in a day, sitting at university. I turned up to a tutorial that day without doing any prep because I only wanted to read The Book Thief. I haven’t watched the film, and I have been told I should stick with the version in my head.

7. Open Season – C.J. Box

The other series I binge on, besides Spider Shepherd, is Joe Pickett. Boy, do I love me some Joe Pickett. I measure future husbands against Joe, and they all come short. Also, his escapades, life and friends are the stuff of the best action/crime thriller. There isn’t a single instalment of this series I haven’t given a 5 or 4 star rating on goodreads for. The setting is truly beautiful, and has made me want to read other literature from the area.

8. Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand

LOUIE! I fell hard for Louie. I cried my heart out while reading this book, and at the same time appreciated the historical accuracy that was included. I rarely think historically through my tears, so that was a new experience for me. I tried reading Seabiscuit, and made it about twelve pages in before I decided Hillenbrand was a one horse wonder for me.

9. Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab & The One That Got Away by Chris Ryan

Both SAS soldiers on the same mission, and both have very different accounts of what happened (and whose fault the failure of the mission was!) I read these two books back to back, and found them both interesting. McNab is probably the more prolific writer, but I like Chris Ryan’s style more. I also think that McNab is a stuck up asshole, but I enjoy reading his work anyway. I have read a lot of the fiction from both of these authors.

10. Resurrection Day – Glenn Meade

This book was a present from some friends, and the reason they picked it was because the back talked about terrorists, which I was obsessed with (it was the year of 9/11, alright?!). I read it, loved it, and then proceeded to read so many pulpy action novels my eyes started to bleed. I still like reading them today, and it is all down to Resurrection Day!

Phew! That was a lot longer than I was expecting, and I’m pretty sure I’ve left something off!