❝ With WINTER almost upon us, sit yourselves down with pen and paper and work out your lists for our Winter Challenge…. To help reduce our HUGE TBRs, let’s try to choose every read for the WINTER challenge from our TBR lists ❞
1. Spell it Out! Read 6 books whose titles spell out WINTER. (Don’t count the, a, and an)
Brandon Sanderson – The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) **Summer Challenge – 1/12/15 – 29/2/16**
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soiless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable. …
Wade Davis – Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest
If the quest for Mount Everest began as a grand imperial gesture, as redemption for an empire of explorers that had lost the race to the Poles, it ended as a mission of regeneration for a country and a people bled white by war. Of the twenty-six British climbers who, on three expedtions (1921-24), walked 400 miles off the map to find and assault the highest mountain on Earth, twenty had seen the worst of the fighting. Six had been severely wounded, two others nearly died of disease at the Front, one was hospitalized twice with shell shock. Three as army surgeons dealt for the duration with the agonies of the dying. Two lost brothers, killed in action. All had endured the slaughter, the coughing of the guns, the bones and barbed wire, the white faces of the dead.
In a monumental work of history and adventure, ten years in the writing, Wade Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but rather why he kept on climbing on that fateful day. His answer lies in a single phrase uttered by one of the survivors as they retreated from the mountain: “The price of life is death.” Mallory walked on because for him, as for all of his generation, death was but “a frail barrier that men crossed, smiling and gallant, every day.” As climbers they accepted a degree of risk unimaginable before the war. They were not cavalier, but death was no stranger. They had seen so much of it that it had no hold on them. What mattered was how one lived, the moments of being alive.
For all of them Everest had become an exalted radiance, a sentinel in the sky, a symbol of hope in a world gone mad.
(Media: Dead Tree)
Erin Morgenstern – The Night Circus
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
The Night Circus was the Sword & Laser read for December 2014.
Ed O’Loughlin – Toploader
If Joseph Heller and Carl Hiaasen had a literary love child in occupied Gaza or Iraq’s Green Zone, it would be this insightful and darkly comic anti-war masterpiece. Spying inside the Embargoed Zone (aka the “Easy”) is expensive and hazardous, and the “terrorist” double agent known as Cobra needs his wages in cash. But his down-at-the-heels spymaster from the occupying forces can only pay with an American-made, top-loading washing machine. When it turns out that this piece of clothes-washing technology is critical to the occupation, a frantic scramble to retrieve the sensitive hardware ensues. Packed with unforgettable characters–including a resourceful local teenage girl, an intrepid reporter navigating the Easy, an egotistical blogger with delusions of relevance, a hapless drone pilot, and at least one very unfortunate donkey–Toploader is a savage and hilarious indictment of occupation diplomacy.
(Media: Dead Tree)
Scott Jurek, Steve Friedman – Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
For nearly two decades, Scott Jurek has been a dominant force—and darling—in the grueling and growing sport of ultrarunning. In 1999, as a complete unknown, he took the lead of the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile traverse over the old Gold Rush trails of the California Sierra Nevada. He won that race seven years in a row, setting a course record along the way. Twice he won the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile “jaunt” through Death Valley. Recently he set an American record of 165.7 miles in 24 hours—6 1/2 marathons in one day. And he was one of the elite runners who traveled to Mexico to run with the Tarahumara Indians, as profiled in the bestseller Born to Run. His accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary, but that he has achieved all of this on a plant-based diet makes his story all the more so.
In Eat and Run, Scott Jurek opens up about his life and career—as an elite athlete and a vegan—and inspires runners at every level. From his Midwestern childhood hunting, fishing, and cooking for his meat-and-potatoes family, to his early beginnings in running (he hated it), to his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism, to his world-spanning, record-breaking races, Scott’s story shows the power of an iron will and blows apart all the stereotypes of what athletes should eat to fuel optimal performance. Chock-full of incredible, on-the-brink stories of endurance and competition, fascinating science, and accessible practical advice—including his own favorite plant-based recipes—Eat and Run will motivate everyone to “go the distance,” whether that means getting out for that first run, expanding your food horizons, or simply exploring the limits of your own potential.
(Media: audio book)
Some three star stuff in here but largely disappointing.
John Scalzi – Redshirt **Summer Challenge – 1/12/15 – 29/2/16**
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.
Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.
(Media: eBook, audiobook)
Redshirts was the ALTERNATE Sword & Laser read for July 2013
2. Read a NEW RELEASE which is published in JUNE, JULY or AUGUST 2015
3. For International Children’s Day choose a YOUNG ADULT title by an AUSSIE author
Mark Mann – The Stone Gate
A strange rock in the forest. A mysterious crystal. A full moon. An ancient secret. How do you find your way home when you’ve never left? Twins Jack and Kaya live in a small seaside town in Australia. When they see a dazzling white light shining from a giant rock in the woods near their home, it takes them on an adventure to a place both familiar and yet like nowhere they know. But where exactly are they? And can they find their way back in time? The Stone Gate is an exciting and fast-paced action adventure that brings climate change / global warming vividly to life for young adult readers.
(Media: Dead Tree, eBook)
4. Choose a book written by an AUSSIE author who is independently published – an AUSSIE INDIE AUTHOR
Ged Maybury – Into the Storm’s Domain
Ged Maybury brings the first of an exciting steampunk trilogy titled Across the Stonewind Sky. Jilted at the altar and determinedly British about it, Rodney Hoverrim embarks on the adventure of a lifetime – following his nation’s bravest (and most foolish) into the ‘Storm’s Domain’. But his airship adventure is barely under way before he is hijacked, and they in turn are attacked by sky pirates; twice! Now captive of the very vile villainess The Black Bitch, Rod must fight for his life as her fetid airship plummets towards the skyland of Vicaria – lair of its mad (and possible evil) ruler Victor Vicario; well known for injecting his visitors with his latest concoctions. Out of the frying pan but not yet in Victor’s clutches, Rod must desperately deduce who his true allies are before it is too late – only to discover that Vicaria hides a veritable shipload of secrets, and seductive women!
(Media: Dead Tree)
5. From your OWNED TBR books choose one SPECULATIVE FICTION, one HISTORICAL FICTION and one MYSTERY for JUNE, JULY and AUGUST (to be read in your month of choice!)
5.1. SPECULATIVE FICTION / JUNE
Ernest Cline – Ready Player One
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them. …
(Media: Audio Book, eBook)
Ready Player One was also one of two Sword & Laser reads for Sep 2011
5.2. HISTORICAL FICTION / JULY
Markus Zusak – The Book Thief ** November Challenge 2015 – Books about Books **
It’s just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist: books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids – as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
5.3. MYSTERY / AUGUST