**Summer Reading Challenge – 2014/15**

goodreads **Summer Reading Challenge – 1/12/14-28/2/15**
The Aussie Readers group on Goodreads has the Summer Reading Challenge;

❝ Summer is finally here – we are getting ready to enjoy Australia’s beautiful beaches and warm (hot!) sunshine, as we head into a New Year! We made it through winter; all those suffering from hayfever in the spring can now relax! ❞

1. Spell It Out! e.g. read 6 books that the titles would spell out SUMMER. Don’t count “the”, “a”, and “an”
a) S
Subterranean Michael Pryor – The Subterranean Stratagem (The Extraordinaires, #2)
Kingsley Ward and Evadne Stephens are the Extraordinaires and they should be the toast of the town – but their juggling and escapology act is failing, and Kingsley is to blame. His wolfish side is breaking free, ruining performances and endangering those around him. The secret to controlling this wildness lies in his mysterious past. Was he really raised by wolves? Who were his parents? What happened to them?
The discovery of Kingsley’s father’s journal promises answers, but when it is stolen the Extraordinaires uncover ancient magic, a malign conspiracy, and a macabre plot to enslave all humanity. What begins as a quest to restore Kingsley’s past becomes an adventure that pits the Extraordinaires against forces that could shatter the minds and souls of millions.

(Media: )

b) U
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c) M
MHI Larry Correia – Monster Hunter International (Monster Hunter International #1)
Five days after Owen Zastava Pitt pushed his insufferable boss out of a fourteenth story window, he woke up in the hospital with a scarred face, an unbelievable memory, and a job offer.
It turns out that monsters are real. All the things from myth, legend, and B-movies are out there, waiting in the shadows. Officially secret, some of them are evil, and some are just hungry. On the other side are the people who kill monsters for a living. Monster Hunter International is the premier eradication company in the business. And now Owen is their newest recruit.
It’s actually a pretty sweet gig, except for one little problem. An ancient entity known as the Cursed One has returned to settle a centuries old vendetta. Should the Cursed One succeed, it means the end of the world, and MHI is the only thing standing in his way. With the clock ticking towards Armageddon, Owen finds himself trapped between legions of undead minions, belligerent federal agents, a cryptic ghost who has taken up residence inside his head, and the cursed family of the woman he loves.
Business is good… Welcome to Monster Hunter International.

Updated from the original pick as the family over ruled me and chose this one as the travel audiobook for the silly season 😉
(Media: audiobook )
VERDICT: ★★★.★
Took a while to finish this as it was the “in the car” travel audiobook. A good boy’s own adventure – imagine Dresden Files with guns and you’re halfway there.

d) M
mainspring Jay Lake – Mainspring (Clockwork Earth #1)
Jay Lake’s first trade novel is an astounding work of creation. Lake has envisioned a clockwork solar system, where the planets move in a vast system of gears around the lamp of the Sun. It is a universe where the hand of the Creator is visible to anyone who simply looks up into the sky, and sees the track of the heavens, the wheels of the Moon, and the great Equatorial gears of the Earth itself.
Mainspring is the story of a young clockmaker’s apprentice, who is visited by the Archangel Gabriel. He is told that he must take the Key Perilous and rewind the Mainspring of the Earth. It is running down, and disaster to the planet will ensue if it’s not rewound. From innocence and ignorance to power and self-knowledge, the young man will make the long and perilous journey to the South Polar Axis, to fulfill the commandment of his God.

(Media: audiobook )
Was not overly impressed with this one, it started strong and then faded. The concept of the clockwork universe was good, the second half of the book only two star material.

e) E
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f) R
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2. Christmas is getting closer – get into the spirit of the Festive Season by reading a book relating to Christmas
Poirot's Christmas Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Hercule Poirot Series #20)
Poirot plans a quiet Christmas in London until learning that it also will be a cold one, owing to his flat’s broken boiler. When a wealthy old man calls for the detective’s help, Poirot opts for a working holiday at the man’s well-heated country estate. No warmth exudes from the home’s occupants, however, and Poirot winds up with a murder to solve, family politics to unravel, and shocking revelations from the past to sort out. For help he turns to Chief Inspector Japp, who is grateful to be rescued from Christmas with the in-laws.
* How dreadful that the holidays should begin with a wailing scream and a deathly gurgle! Never has Poirot’s mighty brain functioned more brilliantly than in “Hercule Poirot’s Christmas” (“New York Times”).

(Media: ) // also ** December Challenge – Christmas/New Year **
VERDICT: ★★★.★
A good Poirot story.

3. Celebrate Australia Day on 26th January! Choose from one of our many Aussie authors for this one. It doesn’t have to be a New Release…
NarrowRoad Richard Flanagan – The Narrow Road to the Deep North
A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.
Richard Flanagan’s story — of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle’s wife — journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho’s travel journal, ‘The Narrow Road To The Deep North’ is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds.

(Media: Dead Tree)
June 2015 Challenge

4. Valentine’s Day 14th February Choose Romance for this one BUT any of the many offshoots that are covered in the Romance genre is fine…
Wild Cheryl Strayed – Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

(Media: Dead Tree)
VERDICT: ★★★.★
I generally struggle for the ‘romance’ books, but I think this fits here. I initially borrowed this book expecting a standard ‘trail story’, it is not really a trail story; if you want the how to hike and examples of good practice this is not the book there are far better books to go to for advice. This book is a story of love, loss and a search for redemption with the Pacific Crest Trail as a backdrop.

5. The Literature Map is popular and fun! Click on the link, type in your favourite author then choose the closest corresponding author for your read. You might even find a new author to you 🙂

Starting off with Ben Aaronovitch or Kevin Hearne gives me Simon Green;


Nightside01 Simon R. Green – Something from the Nightside (Nightside #1)
John Taylor is not a private detective per se, but he has a knack for finding lost things. That’s why he’s been hired to descend into the Nightside, an otherworldly realm in the center of London where fantasy and reality share renting space and the sun never shines.
Author: Simon R. Green is a New York Times bestselling author whose works include Drinking Midnight Wine, Beyond the Blue Moon, Blue Moon Rising, The Adventures of Hawk & Fisher, and the Deathstalker series. A resident of Bradford-on-Avon in England, he is currently working on the next Deathstalker novel.

(Media: audiobook )
VERDICT: ★★★.★
I think going with the audiobook saved this one for me, the repetitive nature of mentioning “the Nightside” is lessened by listening rather than reading allowing you to move along with the story. I will continue onto book two and hope for improvement.

6. This one can’t be chosen until January! Pick an Aussie Readers friend – then check out the thread of Top 5 Favourites of 2014 (which will be added at the end of December). Choose at least one of their top five books of the year for this read.

Some good choices popping up in the lists; hard to chose which book to go with at this stage.
📕 Mary Doria Russell – The Sparrow via Sarah?
📕 Andy Weir – The Martian via Amber?
📕 Brandon Sanderson – The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) via Phrynne?
📕 Erin Morgenstern – The Night Circus via Angela?

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7. New Release Choose a book which is to be published any time over the three months of Summer – Dec ’14, Jan ’15, Feb ’15 – and it MUST be by an Aussie author
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8. “Summer” in the title OR set in Summer – an Aussie author as well…
Kinglake-350 Adrian Hyland – Kinglake-350
On 7 February 2009 Sergeant Roger Wood found himself at the epicentre of the worst bushfire disaster in Australia’s history. Black Saturday.
Wood, who’s a country cop with twenty years experience—and also a raucous, meditating, horse-riding vegan—was the only officer on duty in the small community of Kinglake. As the firestorm approached he was called out to numerous incidents including multi-fatality car accidents. He led a group of fifty people from a store west of Kinglake four kilometres to safety through burning bush. Minutes before it was completely destroyed.
Then, as the fire raged around him, he phoned his family ten kilometres away to warn them what was coming. When his wife answered, she screamed that the fire had already hit their property. Then the line went dead.
Black Saturday was a many-headed monster in whose wake stories of grief, heroism and desolation erupted all over the state of Victoria. This book is about the monster—and the heroism of those who confronted it.

(Media: eBook)

9. Choose Historical Fiction for this one
There might be some wriggle room in this to fit in some alternate history or historical fantasy;

“An essential element of historical fiction is a setting from history. In this setting, historical fiction frequently portrays the manners and social conditions of the persons or times presented in the story and pays attention to other precise period details. Authors frequently choose to explore historical figures through these settings, allowing readers to better understand how these individuals would have responded to their environments. Some subgenres of historical fiction, such as alternate history or historical fantasy, deliberately insert speculative or ahistorical elements into the work; however, other works of historical fiction will be criticized for this lack of “authenticity” because of readerly or generic expectations. This tension between historical authenticity, or Historicity, and fiction frequently becomes a point of commentary for readers and popular critics, while scholarly criticism frequently goes beyond this commentary, investigating the genre for it’s other thematic and critical interests. — wikipedia

WaistcoatsWeaponry Gail Carriger – Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3)
Sophronia continues second year finishing school in style — with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown. She, best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and charming Lord Felix Mersey stow away on train to return classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspects what or who would be aboard the suspiciously empty train.
(Media: audiobook & ebook)
Four stars overall, a fun read. The last chapter(s) seems rushed and we have an ‘Enid Blyton’ style wrapped up conclusion over a few pages.

Eventually Dimity said,'Lady Linette, I don't mean to be ignorant, but what, exactly, is the unspoken offer? I mean to say, how do I know if I don't know, as it were?

10. Lucky last! – choose your FAVOURITE GENRE from your TBR!
Staying with Urban Fantasy as my current favourite genre.
Agents Simon R. Green – Agents of Light and Darkness (Nightside #2)
I’m John Taylor. I work in the Nightside – the gaudy, neon noir, secret heart of London, where it’s always three in the morning, where gods and monsters make deals and seek pleasures they won’t find anywhere else.
I have a gift for finding things. And sometimes what I’m hired to locate can be very, very dangerous indeed.
Right now, for example, I’m searching for The Unholy Grail, the cup that Judas drank from at the Last Supper.
It corrupts all who touch it – but it also gives enormous power. So I’m not the only one hunting. Angels, devils, sinners and saints – they’re all out there, tearing apart The Nightside, seeking the dark goblet.
And it’s only a matter of time until they realize that the famous John Taylor, the man with the gift for finding things, can lead them straight to it…

(Media: audiobook)

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2 Responses to **Summer Reading Challenge – 2014/15**

  1. Wild Official Trailer #1 (2014)

  2. Radical Sincerity: Cheryl Strayed at TEDxConcordiaUPortland

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