Month: December 2013

Monthly Review – December 2013

Posted December 31, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 2 Comments

and then there were noneThis is the end of 2013 and what a great year we have had. Let’s have a quick look back at the year for the book club on Goodreads and our books of the months. For me some of the highlights included; The Bell Jar, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Lolita, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, The Fault in our Stars and The Shadow of the Wind. We seem to consistently get great books to read, including this month’s book And Then There Were None. I wasn’t sure what to expect, this was my first Agatha Christie and while I had some issues, I will read her again.

Next month we are reading an espionage novel, which will be Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. I’ve read this novel and really enjoyed it, so I’m excited to see what others think; the movie is pretty great too. I hope everyone had a great holiday period and look forward to the great things to come in 2014. If you’re not aware, the book discussion and everything else will be happening over on the Goodreads forums, so feel free to join in there.

This has also been a great year for this blog too, which spawned last year from the Goodreads book club. I originally hoped this would be a source for all things book club related but turned into a book journal of my life as a literary explorer. I’m glad it did turn into what it is today; I’ve had so much fun book blogging and sharing my bookish thoughts. For my favourite books of 2013, check out the post but I wanted to share some of my favourite posts.

As always this month lead me to discover some great books including The Explorer and The Echo by James Smythe, Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood, Careless People by Sarah Churchwell and a reread of Frankenstein. I thought maybe James Smythe (he made my top books of 2013 list twice) or even Frankenstein would be the highlights of the month but it was actually a non-fiction book; 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. It’s only a collection of letters between a book lover and a second-hand book store but for any book lover, it reads like a love letter to books.

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My Top Five Reads of 2013

Posted December 30, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top 5 / 4 Comments

As 2013 comes to an end, it is time to do that “Best of” post. I know it’s one of those posts you are either sick of or love seeing but I have to share my favourites. It’s been a great year; over 160 books read, some amazing books and some painful ones (see Twilight and New Moon). Like last year I’m going to split my list into “Best of 2013 (released this year)” and all other novels, but as I want to focus more on Non-Fiction too I’m adding “Best Non-Fiction of 2013” to the mix.

Top Five Reads Released in 2013
5. The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth
4. Tenth of December by George Saunders
3. The Explorer by James Smythe
2. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
1. The Machine by James Smythe

Top Five Reads in 2013
5. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu
4. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
1. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino

Top 5 Non-Fiction Reads in 2013
5. The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler
4. Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman
3. Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of The Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell
2. Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering
1. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Now it’s your turn to let me know of your favourite books, the new releases and the older books. It doesn’t matter; just what you discovered and loved.


And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Posted December 29, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Classic, Crime / 2 Comments

And Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieTitle: And Then They Were None (Goodreads)
Author: Agatha Christie
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 1939
Pages: 264
Genres: Classic, Crime
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Ten people have been invited to have a holiday on Soldier Island; when they arrived they thought they had nothing in common. Soon they find out all of them have become complacent with the death (or deaths) of other human beings. One by one they all die, but who is the one that is there to seek revenge on the others?

And Then There Were None was originally titled Ten Little (I would rather not say) after the British nursery rhyme. The US edition used this title (which is also the last line of the rhyme) as well as changing the song to Ten Little Indians. Once again the novel was revived and now the song title has been changed to Ten Little Soldiers. Apart from the offensive name of the book originally, this novel was wildly successful and introduced a very common crime trope into the world. Ten people trapped in a house on an island trying to work out who is killing them off one by one. I’m sure you can think of many films, shows and books that have paid homage to this theme.

This classic crime novel looks at the idea of administrating justice; who has the right to judge others, and what happens when the law fails. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers and tell you who the killer is but most people would have read this and probably remember who the perpetrator was. The killer believes the others are complacent and in most facts while they deny being guilty publically are living tormented lives. Not everyone, but it was interesting to see that kind of turmoil and I was a little upset to see that wasn’t explored in greater detail. Having said that, I think the torment played out more in the symbolism and motifs. I’m thinking about the dreams and hallucinations (the guilty consciences of the victims are explored here) or the storm; a symbol of violence that cuts them off from the world.

The killer has set out to commit the perfect crime and it looks good on paper but I never really bought into it. While reading this novel I had a feeling that the cosy crime approach is playing against the story. If you think about the mess made from the violent murders, wouldn’t help the police work out what happened in the end? I’m sure they wouldn’t rely on the handwritten accounts, the evidence would be inconsistent. Making this far from a perfect crime (sorry this is hard to explain without spoilers).

This was my first Agatha Christie novel and while I enjoyed it there is one thing that frustrated me. I hate crime novels that hold back important pieces of evidence and expect the reader to work out what happened. I always feel like the author is trying to be smug but really it is just poorly executed writing. It wasn’t so bad in this novel but I get the feeling it is a common occurrence in all her novels and I can’t stand that. You have to make a great protagonist to make up for the withholding of information. It works better as a first person narrative; the unreliable narrator is more likely to forget to tell you important clues.

I will read some more Christie, I hope I’m mistaken about the withholding of clues. And Then There Were None had no real protagonist but maybe a Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple or Tommy and Tuppence mystery hide this a little better. I suspect Murder on the Orient Express will be my next Agatha Christie read but who knows. I prefer my detectives a little more Hard-Boiled so it might be awhile between Christie novels.


What Books Have Been Trending – October-December 2013

Posted December 28, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book Trends / 0 Comments

As 2013 come to a close, it is time once again to check out what has been trending in the past three months. There are always great books out there and I love to just highlight some books that seemed to have been trending in different circles. If you want to look over the book trends for the past year check them out here. Like always, this is not accurate, I had to use my own judgement to culling most books so we can cover more genres.

October

Released in August, it wasn’t till it won the Man Booker that The Luminaries was talked about so much. It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events. A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk.

 

allegiantThe faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

 

goldfinchThe Goldfinch follows a young boy in New York City, who miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes entranced by the one thing that reminds him of his mother, a small, mysteriously captivating painting that soon draws him into the art underworld.

 

mad about the boyBridget Jones is back! Set in the present, Mad About the Boy will explore a different phase in Bridget’s life with an entirely new scenario. Pondering these and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of loss, single motherhood, tweeting, texting, technology, and rediscovering her sexuality in—Warning! Bad, outdated phrase approaching!—middle age.

 
 

longbournIf Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them. Jo Baker’s Longbourn dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realised world that is wholly her own.

 

November

amy tanSpanning fifty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement is a deeply moving narrative of family secrets, the legacy of trauma, and the profound connections between mothers and daughters, that returns readers to the compelling territory Amy Tan so expertly mapped in The Joy Luck Club. With her characteristic wisdom, grace, and humour, she conjures a story of the inheritance of love, its mysteries and senses, its illusions and truths.

 

the first phone callThe First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief–and a page-turner that will touch your soul—Mitch Albom’s masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

 

bellman and blackBellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who “could go to the good or the bad.” And indeed, although William Bellman’s life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die.

 

pawnPawn is the first book in The Blackcoat Rebellion series; You can be a VII, if you give up everything. For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

 
 

barracudaHis whole life, Danny Kelly’s only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he’s ever done – every thought, every dream, every action – takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment. A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families.

 

December

want notA compulsively readable, deeply human novel that examines our most basic and unquenchable emotion: want. With his critically acclaimed first novel, Jonathan Miles was widely praised as a comic genius “after something bigger” whose fiction was “not just philosophically but emotionally rewarding”. With a satirist’s eye and a romantic’s heart, Miles captures the morass and comedy of contemporary life in all its excess. Bold, unblinking, unforgettable in its irony and pathos, Want Not is a wicked, bighearted literary novel that confirms the arrival of a major voice in American fiction.

s.One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire. A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown. S., conceived by filmmaker J. J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst, is the chronicle of two readers finding each other in the margins of a book and enmeshing themselves in a deadly struggle between forces they don’t understand, and it is also Abrams and Dorst’s love letter to the written word.

these broken starsIt’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. A timeless love story, These Broken Stars sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

 

the gods of guiltMickey Haller gets the text, “Call me ASAP – 187,” and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game. Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt. The Gods of Guilt shows once again why “Michael Connelly excels, easily surpassing John Grisham in the building of courtroom suspense”.

 

dangerous womenAll new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities—including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a  tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones. Also included are original stories of dangerous women–heroines and villains alike–by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Lawrence Block, and many others.

Now it’s your turn, let me know of the books that you are surprised that didn’t make this list (there were heaps of them). What have you read and enjoyed and what do you expect to trend next year? I hope The Echo by James Smythe, By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan and Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart will all be trending next year but I want to know if you have any predictions?


Frankenstein (1818 Edition) by Mary Shelley

Posted December 27, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Gothic, Science Fiction / 4 Comments

Frankenstein (1818 Edition) by Mary ShelleyTitle: Frankenstein (1818 Edition) (Goodreads)
Author: Mary Shelley
Published: Oxford World's Classics, 1818
Pages: 261
Genres: Classic, Gothic, Science Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Victor Frankenstein is a student of science, obsessed with discovering the cause of life. One night he bestowed animation upon a lifeless matter and created a monster. He recoils from his hideous creation and the monster is cast out and left tormented by isolation and loneliness. Evil is unleashed and a campaign for vengeance against Frankenstein has begun.

Most people are aware of my passion for Frankenstein, I may not read it every year but I do come close. Picking up this book is like coming home, the joy that sweeps over me as I emerse myself into the text is indescribable. Have you ever had that feeling where a book can bring you so much joy, I even have to buy different versions of this novel just to have on my self. I have some rather handsome editions; a leather-bound copy, an annotated edition and a nice illustrated hardcover released by Dark Horse Comics.

So imagine my shock to discover that the audiobook I was listening to was a little different to the novel I was accustomed to. With a little research I discovered Dan Stevens (the narrator, yes the one from Downton Abbey) was reading from the 1818 edition. Not the heavily revised 1931 version, which is most commonly printed. I didn’t even know there were two different versions; this was an exciting day for me. Not only can I continually read Frankenstein and gain immense pleasure from it, but I can also switch between two different versions of the story.

I was familiarising myself with the text of Frankenstein for a university course, so I had decided to look at the book a little differently. For an older review, one I still think is pretty good click here. I knew a little more about Mary Shelley this time, so I was looking at Frankenstein with some context. Before Shelley wrote Frankenstein she had given birth to a daughter, two months premature. This daughter only lived a few weeks, a year later she gave birth to William Shelley. After the birth of her son she suffered from postpartum depression.

The birth of William happened a few months before the story of Frankenstein was conceived, so it wasn’t too surprising to see William’s name in the novel. William was Victor Frankenstein’s youngest brother, who was strangled to death by the monster. So I have two lines of thought here, one being that Mary Shelley’s depression manifested an urge to strangle William, the second is a little more complex.

I want to skip over the whole parody of creationism within Frankenstein, which would have to be an entirely different blog post (maybe when I read it next time). Life was created (without the need of a female) and then rejected. He has no loving mother; he is born fully grown but still has the intelligence of an infant, he was rejected before he could learn about the world. Again I’m left with two thoughts, is this about growing up without a mother or was this rejection of her child? I’m not really good at forming arguments (something I need to learn) but I wanted to leave you with those thoughts, and one other. In a journal entry in 1915 Mary Shelley wrote about the death of her first child, and being tormented by the idea of it coming back to life.

You know that “never meet your idols” phrase? I never really understood it; sure Mary Shelley wasn’t a ‘nice’ person but who is? She was tormented and complex and from that sprung forth a novel with so many layers that you could write a book on it. This was what made her my literary idol, not being a good person. I know I will keep reading this novel and try to write a review on each different perspective I find. Who knows it could make up and interesting collection of posts. Look for my next Frankenstein post (possible next year), not sure what it would be about; Creationism, Paradise Lost, Feminism, Slavery, Revolution, or something else. If you haven’t experienced the joys of a book so complex and layered, don’t you think it’s time you did so?


Scare Me by Richard Parker

Posted December 26, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Thriller / 0 Comments

Scare Me by Richard ParkerTitle: Scare Me (Goodreads)
Author: Richard Parker
Published: Exhibit A, 2013
Pages: 386
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

“When did you last Google yourself?” That was what wealthy businessman, Will Frost was asked by an anonymous late night caller. When Will got online, he found a website with photographs of his home along with six other houses he’s never seen before. Within the first house a gruesome murder has already taken place. His family is in danger and the only way to save them is to visit all seven houses, discover their connection before the police discovers him.

First of all, I decided to google Richard Parker just to get an idea of who he was. If you were wondering, Richard Parker is not the sailor and president of the Floating Republic, Peter Parker’s (Spiderman) dad, a Bengal tiger or from Weekend at Bernie’s. Richard Parker is in fact an English writer who spent over twenty years writing for TV (nothing I’ve heard of). He was nominated for the Crime Writers Associations John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award in 2010 for is dark thriller Stop Me.

Scare Me is his second book (and if you were wondering they are both standalone novels) and Will Frost’s struggle to save his daughter’s life from a twisted and sadistic psychopath. This novel has all the typical thriller tropes and you can pretty much match this against your expectations and come up with the exact plot in your head. This is something I found rather frustrating; I was never surprised, everything seemed obvious and expected.

This wasn’t the major problem I had with this novel; my issue was with the characters. Will Frost is so two dimensional and inherently good there was nothing interesting or complex about him, I found this boring. I like characters that are complex and flawed; I didn’t even find this in the killer either. Their motivation came a little too late into the novel, there was no hints (although you can guess easily) and when you find out, it was too late to save the novel.

You also have major plot problems, which is a shame since the idea of scavenger hunt of dead bodies is a great one. An example, all phones work in every country, no need for international roaming (this isn’t a big problem but when you make a deal of buying a new phone you could mention something). Also there is the fact Will’s old phone was amazing; He hides it on the killer to track it and the phone never goes flat. I struggle to last a day with my phone, so I’m keen to get my hands on a phone that lasts so long.

You add all these up, with the basic writing style and you have a novel that didn’t work for me. I liked the premise and had high hopes but I was let down. I wish I abandoned this novel and moved on to something different but unfortunately I pushed myself. I know of a few people that have read and enjoyed this novel, I’m happy for them, I wish I was one of them but there was too much I couldn’t let go.


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Posted December 24, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top Ten Tuesday / 1 Comment

toptentuesdayIt’s Tuesday again which means time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday; I like joining in on this meme because I have a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me. I know I’m getting some books for Christmas but why not mention books I want to get my hands on.

  • & Sons by David Gilbert
  • 501 Must Read Books by Emma Beare
  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  • A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland
  • Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon
  • Ethics, Evil, and Fiction by Colin McGinn
  • Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux by Boris Kachka
  • How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom
  • In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • On Literature by Umberto Eco
  • Paperback Confidential: Crime Writers of the Paperback Era by Brian Ritt
  • Raymond Chandler: A Mysterious Something in the Light by Tom Williams
  • Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe: The Hard-Boiled Detective Transformed by John Paul Athanasourelis
  • S. by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst
  • Shelley’s Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family by Stephen Hebron
  • Stoner by John Edward Williams
  • The Dark Path: A Memoir by David Schickler
  • The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classical Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded by Clifton Fadiman
  • The Parrots by Filippo Bologna
  • The Uses of Literature by Italo Calvino

That’s ten books right (and that is just a taste, more here)? I’m surprised how many non-fiction books made my list. Maybe 2014 will be the read of reading non-fiction for me.


Maddaddam by Margret Atwood

Posted December 23, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Speculative Fiction / 2 Comments

Maddaddam by Margret AtwoodTitle: Maddaddam (Goodreads)
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: Maddaddam #3
Published: Bloomsbury, 2013
Pages: 416
Genres: Speculative Fiction
My Copy: ARC from Publisher

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

A man-made plague has swept across the earth and wiped out most of humanity. Few survived, along with the Crakers (a new bio-engineered species). There may not be much hope for humans to survive but the Crakers have a chance. Toby and Zeb tell the story of just what happens next, in the conclusion of this great epic post-apocalyptic trilogy.

This is the final instalment in the Maddaddam story; a trilogy that I binge read over the past few months. Just a quick recap; Oryx and Crake tell the story of these two as well as Snowman, the destruction of the world and the creation of the Crakers. At the same time The Year of the Flood tells the story of Toby and The Gardeners (a religious cult). Those two books run in parallel and lead us to Maddaddam, where the two stories meet.

I’m not too sure how I feel about the final novel in this trilogy. On one hand this is a rather upbeat finale that ties everything up into a nice little bow and on the other, I much prefer bleak and I feel this novel was unnecessary. Not to say it was bad but both Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood worked well as standalone novels, they both interconnect but you could probably read one or the other without confusion. When it comes to Maddaddam you really do need to have read the first two books, there is a “previously on the Maddaddam trilogy” moment at the start of the book but this is a novel to fill in the gaps. I don’t mind gaps, I like leaving questions unanswered but I can understand why Margret Atwood would choose to wrap things up.

Maddaddam is a novel about renewal Oryx and Crake focuses on the destructive nature of science, and The Year of the Flood looked at religious fanaticism; I’m a little surprised this book was more positive. Atwood writes really thought provoking novels and Maddaddam is no different, though this does feel more optimistic. This novel focuses heavily on science and politics, two of Margret Atwood’s favourite topics and she does leave the reader with plenty to think about.

One thing I found in this novel that surprised me was the dark humour; I don’t remember Oryx and Crake or The Year of the Flood being this funny. The dark post-apocalyptic themes were evident within this book, I was just thrown by the outlook and ending; it felt almost joyous. In the end it did wrap up the series in a nice way, despite my feelings toward this novel, it was a great read and the whole series is worth checking out.


2014 Reading Goals

Posted December 21, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 9 Comments

With 2014 so close, it is time again to start thinking about what my reading goals will be for next year. Firstly I want to have a quick look at how I went with my 2013 Reading Goals. First of all I went on a semi book buying ban which lasted most of the year but didn’t do much to reduce my TBR (To Be Read shelf) but it did get me to use the library more (see my post Book Buying Bans Don’t Work). Secondly there was the reading goal of 150 books (on Goodreads) which I did complete. I stated in my 2013 Reading Goals post that “I would just take the time and read some bigger books and some non-fiction” which I feel I failed. I did read some bigger books and non-fiction but not enough to satisfy myself. Lastly there was the Literary Exploration reading challenge, which was a lot of fun and I did complete.

What does that mean for 2014? Well I would like to move away from a reading goal, I like the idea of trying to hit 100 or 150 books in the year but I want the freedom. I don’t want to pressure myself to read x amount of books a week or year, I want to read bigger books and with no reading goal I might be able to achieve this. I’m not sure if I will achieve this, I’m sure I’ll cave and set my reading goal on Goodreads to 150 books.

I do want to read more non-fiction, maybe I can put pressure on this and set a 2 book a month goal on myself. I’ve recently enjoyed more non-fiction and might have finally caught the (non-fiction) reading bug, especially books about books. I want to try and nurture this and hopefully I’ll find a passion towards biographies and non-fiction as well as fiction. As for reading more big books, I’ll continue working on that, but I’m not going to force anything.

Finally the Literary Exploration reading challenge is back for another year. I will be doing the ‘Insane challenge’ again, that is 36 books in different genres. I might even get cocky and try and do two books from the 36 different genres, but I will see how I go. I like that I’m willing to explore all genres and want to make sure I read more in some of the genres I don’t normally read. I will continue to advocate the joys in reading more widely and I hope the Literary Exploration reading challenge will help more people discover this.

What are other people planning for next year? Are any trying something a little bit different? I’m interested in learning more about other people’s reading goals and hopefully discover some new ways to challenge myself for 2015. Hope everyone enjoys the holiday period and are excited for 2014’s reading challenges.


Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

Posted December 20, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 1 Comment

Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth HaynesTitle: Under a Silent Moon (Goodreads)
Author: Elizabeth Haynes
Series: Detective Inspector Louisa Smith #1
Published: Sphere, 2013
Pages: 384
Genres: Crime
My Copy: ARC from Edelweiss

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

A suspected murder in a farm outside a small English village, a young woman was found dead with blood all over the cottage. At the same time the police are called in to investigate what looks like a suicide by driving into a quarry. DCI Louisa Smith and her team are assigned this case, they discover a link between the two deaths, a link that sealed the fate of these two woman. It all happened one dreadful cold night under a silent moon.

Elizabeth Haynes’s novel Into the Darkest Corner was one of the best books I read in 2011. I still have both Revenge of the Tide and Human Remains sitting on my shelf and I probably should read them soon. I decided to read Under a Silent Moon first because it is her latest offer and I was interested to read her take on the police procedural genre. This is a new direction for this author and I really wanted to see how her style translated.

What I loved about Into the Darkest Corner was how dark and disturbing that psychological thriller was. It was the type of book that I loved but couldn’t recommend to everyone because it might have contained triggers; it felt too realistic and unsettling. Some of her dark psychological style is definitely in this novel but there is something so different about Under a Silent Moon.

The novel felt like a very technical police procedural, I have no idea how a detective investigates crimes, my knowledge comes from men like Philip Marlowe who are hard-boiled and so smart that you often miss the clues (sometimes I think the clues never existed in the novel). I’m not sure how accurate or researched this novel was, but I think it worked well; she got that balance between technical and plot right. I liked how this book had police reports, notes and other documents to help drive the plot and give the reader a deeper insight into the crimes.

The major problem I had was that I wanted something darker; this felt too much like a generic crime thriller but Elizabeth Haynes style was evident and I like how detailed the book was. It was a slightly different take on the police procedurals I’ve read but it also felt the same. I also didn’t think much of the characters, there could have been more to them and I know this is the start of a series so I suspect that will come in future books.

In turn, I want to like all the uniqueness of Under a Silent Moon; I definitely like Hayne’s style but I just think there are too many crime novels that are similar. Sure, they all sell well, I just like when I book stands above the rest. There are so many things that were great about this novel, and I will be reading the next chapter in the series when it gets released. I think I prefer the dark psychological thriller style found in Into the Darkest Corner and was secretly hoping for something like that. I probably should try Revenge of the Tide and Human Remains first but if you haven’t read Elizabeth Haynes before and are not afraid of something that will disturb you, then I recommend Into the Darkest Corner instead.