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Thursday, March 1st, 2012 04:53 pm
Happy World Book Day! I've lots of books on the go at the moment, and should be finishing a few more soon.

In the meantime here are my thoughts about the books I finished in February.

First up was a Quick Reads book, Doctor Who: Magic of the Angels by Jacqueline Rayner. As a Quick Reads book it was short, but it was much better than many longer Doctor Who books. The plot was well constructed and zipped along nicely, and the characterisation of the Doctor, Amy and Rory was bang on. I enjoyed this immensely.

I've wanted to read The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo for some time, but had to wait for it to come out on Kindle. I really enjoyed it. It's very similar in style to other classic children's magical/mystical books, like Alan Garner's works, and Susan Cooper's. The plot starts out quite formulaic, albeit very well crafted, but then it gets more interesting. I enjoyed it immensely, and because it's the start of a trilogy (already sitting on my Kindle) I have two more books in the series to look forward to.

Merv Pumpkinhead: Agent of D.R.E.A.M. by Bill Willingham is a comic book spin-off from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series. It's not written by Neil, but it uses his characters in a new story. I quite enjoyed it. Merv was my second favourite character in the Sandman, after Death, but this book was somewhat unsatisfying for me. As a comic book it was short, but that wasn't the problem. I think it was more the plotting. I also wanted to read about the Dream world, rather than the real world Merv ended up adventuring in.

Last book finished of the month was Pure by Andrew Miller. This has won lots of prizes, but it was on my to-read list for a very long time before it won any prize. I just liked the idea of the plot. I'm glad to say that it was everything I hoped it would be and more, one of the most satisfying books I've read in a long time. It's all about the clearance (including human remains) of a Parisian cemetery shortly before the French revolution. It's very well crafted. I wished it wouldn't end, I was enjoying it so much. Thoroughly recommended.
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Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 06:52 am
I've only finished two books this month. I was extremely ill for the first three weeks, battling an infection on top of my existing neurological illness and heavily suppressed immune system due to many permanent chemo drugs. So for three weeks plus I didn't read at all. I had many books already started, but made no progress on them. Even when I started reading again it was slow. Given that, I'm relieved to have finished two books this month. Could have been one, or none!

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Monday, January 2nd, 2012 10:31 pm
I always have lots of books on the go, but usually only one novel at a time. For example I'm currently reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Looking further ahead in the year I've drawn up a list of other novels I want to read. This list is not in any particular order, nor is it complete: it's bound to grow over time as more new books are announced that appeal to me. But it's a good starting point. I own some of these books already, mostly on my Kindle. Others will need to be bought.

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Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 09:19 pm
Now catching up with my blog about books finished this month.

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Saturday, December 24th, 2011 11:47 pm
I've finished 101 books so far this year, and I suspect that will be the final total come Hogmanay. I have a number of other books on the go at the moment, but all are likely to take more than a week to finish. So I might as well recap now on my reading over the year. For this I've been doing a rough analysis of the books finished.

For example 64% are fiction, compared with 36% non-fiction. The largest number of non-fiction books include technology and science books, which includes computer science ones. However I've also read history, art history and media works, such as a number of books analysing Hitchcock and other classic movies.

19% of the books I finished were Dr Who related. This includes both fiction books, such as new and old novels related to the series, and also histories of the series, and Elisabeth Sladen's autobiography. This category also includes Torchwood novels, Iris Wildthyme books (a spin-off character from the Dr Who novels), and Faction Paradox (a spin-off idea from the novels).

Close behind at 18% of books finished are fantasy. Some are traditional swords and sorcery, like The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. But others are different fantasy, such as Paul Magrs' comic / gothic / fantasy / horror Brenda and Effie novels. And similarly in the comic fantasy are Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, Small Gods which was a reread, and Snuff. And Terry Jones's new collection Evil Machines from Unbound. I also read my first ever Diana Wynne Jones book: Enchanted Glass.

Short stories continued to be a significant presence among my reading, at 14% of books finished. I really enjoy the short story form, and have done ever since I was at school. But they are also well suited to someone with significant brain damage and resulting cognitive problems. Each story is like a fresh start, and I don't have to remember a plot read on a previous occasion, which is a plus.

I'm quite surprised that comics and graphic novels are a smaller presence this year: just 4 titles in total. Last year I was working through The Sandman of course, which bumped up the number. And I do have an enormous pile of graphic novels waiting to be read. But this year I've spent more time reading word books, particularly on my Kindle. Though I still read comics on my iPad.

In my Goodreads account I rate each book read on a scale from 1 to 5 stars. Anything from 3 upwards is an enjoyable read for me, 4 excellent, and 5 outstanding. Looking through the 5 star books this year some jump out as my absolute favourites: Paw Tracks in the Moonlight by Denis O'Connor, Larklight by Philip Reeve, The Dracula Papers, Book 1: The Scholar's Tale by Reggie Oliver, Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones, and (another reread) Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens.

Looking ahead I'm doubtful that I'll get to 100+ books again in 2012. But I hope to continue to read widely. Though I really must start to make inroads into that groaning pile of graphic novels ...
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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 05:43 pm
It's been a busy month for book reading, though I got off to a relatively slow start with a number of longer novels. But the number of books finished has grown steadily. All books were read on my Kindle, apart from Here Be Snapdragons! which I read in PDF form (purchased from DriveThruComics.com) on my iPad.

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Monday, October 31st, 2011 11:01 am
Lots of books this month, though that's partly because I had quite a few nearly-finished ones as the month started.

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Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 01:35 am
The World Book Night titles, to be given away free in the UK, have been announced. I prefer to read ebooks, for disability reasons, and last year chose one of the selected books to read. I'll probably do that again this coming year.

I've already read Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, The Remains of the Day, and The Time Traveler's Wife. I also know the story of Rebecca backwards, having watched the Hitchcock film many times.

Out of the others I'm most tempted with 
I Capture the Castle or The Book Thief. I also have 
Notes from a Small Island on my Amazon Kindle to-read list, but would prefer something more fictional for this. So probably one of the previous two titles, most likely The Book Thief.
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Thursday, September 29th, 2011 09:52 pm
I've finished 7 books this month.

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Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 10:03 pm
Nearly the end of another month, and I'm not going to have finished another book by tomorrow night, so will do my recap of books finished tonight instead.

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Sunday, July 31st, 2011 07:51 pm
End of another month, and I've finished quite a few more books this month. I"m still keeping a record of them all in Goodreads, but thought I'd also jot down a few more detailed thoughts here.

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Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 06:17 pm
I've been keeping track of my reading in Goodreads, and recently read my 50th book of 2011. I'd set myself the challenge of reading 50 books this year, which is a huge achievement given how much I struggle to read now, and even stopped reading altogether a few years ago. But now, largely thanks to my Kindle getting me reading again, I have to increase the challenge. I've tentatively gone for 75 books, which I think I will easily reach.

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Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 10:24 pm
I know I mention this quite a bit, but it means a huge amount to me. My reading was very badly affected by brain damage from the progressive neurological disease. It reached a point where I wasn't reading recreationally at all, struggling too much to concentrate on a full page of print (even a small paperback) for any length of time. Fortunately my iPod touch and then my Kindle helped me get reading again. And now I'm reading masses. My favourite time of day is when I settle down before sleep to work through some of my current books. I usually have multiple books on the go at once, and read from them each night before bed. For example I'm reading a book of Lovecraftian short stories, reading a short story each night. And alongside that I'm reading an account of the perpetually-surviving cells of Henrietta Lacks, plus a book about saving Yiddish books, and a book about IF (interactive fiction = text adventures) theory.

I've just set myself a goal in Goodreads to read 50 books this year. That will be a huge step up from previous years, especially just a couple of years ago where I wasn't reading at all. But I should easily manage it. I've already read and completed 25 books. I plan to blog a list of all the books I've read at the end of the year.
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Friday, March 4th, 2011 07:10 pm
The book I am reading:
About a dozen different ones, largely due to my Kindle letting me easily have lots of fun things on the go at once. Probably the main current one though is the newly-published IF Theory Reader. I usually have a main fiction book on the go as well, but just finished one this morning ("Silver on the Tree" by Susan Cooper) and haven't started my next one yet ("Fingersmith" by Sarah Waters").

The book I love most:
"Lord of the Rings" by JRR Tolkien. My absolute favouritest book, and one I can reread endlessly.

The last book I received as a gift:
I can't remember.

The last book I gave as a gift:
"Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis" by Iain Murray. Was a birthday present for my Dad.

The nearest book:
"The Prisoners at Penicuik: French and other prisoners of war, 1803-1814" by Ian MacDougall.

I keep track of my reading using Goodreads. My profile is here.
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Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 03:57 pm
I picked up the family history bug from a young age. That was partly due to my Granddad dying when I was 9, and leaving us lots of family certificates, photos, and papers. But I was already hooked by then. When I was very young I used to be able to draw royal genealogy trees from Kenneth MacAlpin down to the present day, from memory.

A big reason for getting hooked was this book, published in 1975.



It's not a very good example of how to do genealogical research. There were other books that inspired me more along those lines, like Alwyn James's "Scottish Roots" bought in St Andrews Tourist Information Office on a summer holiday (when the tourist information office was in South Street, in what would later become the children's library, and later a music exchange shop). There are some tips in this book, but mainly it was about drawing family trees, going further, and further back in time.

The "monster" reference in the title refers to the mythical 5th century ancestry of the Merovingian rulers. Which I'm descended from. So if there really was a monster at the top of their tree, it's at the top of mine too!