Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Year Resolutions.

For 2013 my new year resolution was to read more fiction. I am very fond of buying books and owing books, but I'm not that good at reading them. When I was younger I could read a 300-400 page book a week, but then came games and tv-series and school and work and ruined it all. Thus the books keep piling up on my shelf. I've said to myself several times that I am not allowed to by more books until I've read the ones I already have (it doesn't work).

One of my bookshelves currently look like this:
I counted, and there are 144 books in this shelf. 60 of them I have not read. That's quite a lot! So my new year resolution for last year was to read as many of them as possible.

I think I did well, to a certain degree. I read 28 books last year. Let us go through them. I used a handy bookmark calendar with Irish writers on them to keep track.
I scribbled a little symbol on the front, marking when I started and finished the book, and on the back I wrote which book the symbol represented. Some months I read many books, some months I read none.


I started off with The Name of the Wind (2007) and The Wise Man's Fear (2011) by Patrick Rothfuss. Day one and two of The Kingkiller Chronicle.
I bought The Name of the Wind ages ago, probably back in 2007/2008, because I thought the cover was pretty. I bought The Wise Man's Fear shortly after it was published in the right size pocketbook. When I finally read them I couldn't believe I hadn't read them sooner. They are amazing!

The description at the back of The Name of the Wind:

'I have stolen princesses back from sleeping
barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon.
I have spent the night with Felurian and left with
both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from
the University at a younger age than most people
are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others
fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods,
loved women, and written songs that make the
minstrels weep.

My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.'

Just reading this back sends shivers down my spine, now that I know the detail behind these stories.

A man called the Chronicler finds the notorious Kvothe at a small inn in the middle of nowhere. He convinces Kvothe to tell him his life story so he can record it. Kvothe reckons he needs three day, so each book is a day's worth of storytelling.

It is incredibly engaging and I recommend it to all who haven't read it already. It is also translated to Norwegian.


Next I thought it was high time I read the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix.
These books were published between 2003 and 2010. I thought all of them was translated into Norwegian because I have a Norwegian copy of Mister Monday that I bought and read sometime in 2004 or 2005. But I checked, and only the first four books were ever translated. The books are sold out from the publisher and isn't coming back. Good thing I decided long ago to read them in English.

The series is about 12-year-old Arthur Penhaligon who get mixed up in the business of the House. You see, the Architect built all the worlds and the people in it. Then she built the House and filled it with Denizens. They look like people, only taller. Their task is to monitor the worlds. Each demesne or section of the house has different tasks. Then one day the Architect got bored, wrote a will, left the House to her trustees and took off. Or she died, no one is sure. 

The Will names a rightful heir and has seven trustees. The trustees are the leaders of each of the House's seven demesnes. They are the Morrow Days, named after the days in the week. They decided to disobey the Will, tear the Will into seven pieces and hid one each. They kept the keys that gave them power to rule over their demesne. The power of the Will corrupted them over the hundreds of year that passed after the Architect left, afflicting them each with one of the seven deadly sins.

Arthur is named the Rightful Heir and over the course of the series he attempts to defeat each Morrow Day, free the part of the Will they are hiding, claim their key and set the House straight.

This is a children/young adult series but I still enjoy it even though I'm in my twenties. It is filled with so many wonders I can't help loving it. I also happen to love the author, and have read about everything he has written. At least the 20 titles of him on my bookshelf.


Next I kind of cheated on my new year resolution by reading something I've read before instead of something new. It was The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, published between 2003 and 2005. This series is very dear to me.
The series is set in an alternate universe London, a London controlled by magicans. The government is all made up by magicians. They have no magical powers themselves, but summons spirits of varying levels to do their bidding.

In the first book Nathaniel, a magicians apprentice, 12 years old, summons the djinni Bartimaeus to do his bidding. He commands the djinni to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from a powerful magician, all to thwart his master. But he is soon dragged into something bigger, involving treason, plots and murder.

When re-reading I tried to pin down why I like this series so much. It is a bit hard to read before you get used to it, because Bartimeaus tend to write footnotes about his past adventures. There is just something about theese books. Maybe it is my love for Bartimaeus. Maybe it is Nathaniel and how he changes througout the series. Maybe it is Ptolemy and how Bartimaeus often takes his form. Maybe it is the ending. All in all I love it, and recommend it to you all. It is also available in Norwegian.

The reason I re-read this series is because in 2010 the Barimaeus Trilogy became the Bartimaeus Sequence with the prequel The Ring of Solomon.
I came across this in a bookstore somewhere and was surprised and overjoyed that there existed more to read about Bartimaeus.

This book is set in Jerusalem in 950 BC, under the reign of King Solomon. King Solomon is one of the mightiest magicians that ever lived. With his ring of power he commands both spirits and men. Bartimaeus annoys Solomon by tricking his master, one of Solomon top magicians, out of his summoning circle and killing him. Solomon assigns Bartimaeus to one of the cruelest magicians in his court, Khaba, as a punishment. He is set to do menial tasks like building a temple without using his powers, or guarding caravans through the desert.

But there is this girl Asmira, sent from the Queen of Sheba to assasinate Solomon. And what is up with Khaba's shadow? Bartimaeus is soon trapped in the middle of things and must use all his wits to stay alive.

I didn't like this as much as I like the Bartimaeus Trilogy, mainly because Nathaniel, Ptolemy and Kitty aren't in it. But Bartimaeus is more than enough to make a good book, with his wit, his outlook on life and his ability to make friends with humans.

The book is translated into Norwegian.


We have now reached June 2013 and I started reading some Torchwood books I had lying around.
This is quite a new experience for me, reading books based on a tv show. You suddenly know how all the characters and the environment look like. They are an easy read though, I read the first three in no time. It also helped that it was now summer and I had no obligations outside my summer job.

After the first three I sort of went against my new year resolution and bought more books. I have a kindle, but never used it much, and since all the Torchwood books are available as e-book it was easy to buy some.
I went through six more before I stopped. Partly because I ran out of money, partly because I din't like the book I'd just finished, Almost Perfect. I ranted about that in an earlier blog post.


Next was the Power of Five series by Anthony Horowitz (2005-2012).
I wrote about it earlier in this post. It is a good series, go read it, in English or Norwegian.

I just want to point out yet again how much I hate how book series change design half way through. It doesn't look good on my shelf! I have seen the first four books republished in the Oblivion design, but it's not as though I'm going to buy them when I have four perfectly good copies.


Anyway, the last book of the year is The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (2006).
This is by the way one of the prettiest covers I know of.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first book of the Gentlemen Bastards Sequence. I have read it before, but the third book in the sequence was published October 2013, a little over 6 years since book two. I have a terrible memory, I don't remember any details from the first and second book. I barely remember what the story outline is. This means I get to read the books again, and enjoy it just as much as the first time around. But this time I have actually written down exactly what happens, and will do the same for the next two books. There are seven books total for this sequence, and I can't keep reading all the books each time a new one is published. Now I just have to go look at the summaries I've written, and hopefully remember enough about the story for the next installment to make sense.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is about Locke Lamora, dubbed the Thorn of Camorr, a thief from the city of Camorr. He and his little gang called the Gentlemen Bastards are con artists. They run elaborate games were they steel from the nobility.

The crime boss of Camorr has ruled the city's criminals with an iron hands for over 20 years. He is now threatened by the mysterious Grey King who sneakily moves around killing his subordinates. Then there is the Duke's Spider who tries to catch the Thorn of Camorr and figure out his identity.

Locke is caught in the middle of all this, trying to run his conning scheme without being caught by the spider, and avoid the budding war between his crime boss and the Grey King. How will it all end?

I love this series, and I love how Scott Lynch paints me a picture of the city of Camorr with his words. Go read it now! The book exists in Norwegian but it is one of those titles that are sold out from the publisher and not expected to be reprinted. Try your local library.


That was it for last year's books. My new year resolution for this year is, you might have guessed, continue reading as much as I can. I may not get through all those 60 unread titles on my shelf, but I should at least try to match last year's number of 28. Wish me luck!

And a happy new year, everyone!

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