Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Snapshot: May 21, 2015

The Victoria Day long weekend really threw me off—I normally write my Snapshot posts on Tuesdays, but when Tuesday came around I thought it was Monday, and on Wednesday I wanted to write about something else so I’m doing my Snapshot post today. Whew. That was a long, and probably unnecessary explanation!

Time: 2:09 pm

Feeling: I wish I could say refreshed, because I’ve been feeling quite refreshed the past few days, but wouldn’t you just know it, since I’m writing a Snapshot post of course today I’m feeling tired.

Eating: I’m about to make my anything-goes veggie soup. So delicious, and with heaps of veggies in it. And parmesan cheese.

Drinking: Water. Lots and lots of water. It’s my latest thing, drinking water, and I’m really liking how it makes me feel. Plus I’m starting to recognize again when I’m thirsty (which is fairly often).

Reading: Still working my way through Good Omens; it’s been mostly in my bag, so I’m not getting through it as fast as I would if it was an “at home” read. It’s good and funny and just a great read for when I’m out and about.

I also started A Game of ThronesI just couldn’t resist the temptation. But I only read the first couple of pages, because I’m just not ready yet to be caught up in a whirl of down-the-rabbit-hole book addiction the series promises to be. I’m witnessing that firsthand anyway: my older son is still working through the series; he started book 4 yesterday.

Listening: I’m almost finished Ready Player One and am wondering WHY it took me so long to get to this book. It’s so good, and Wil Wheaton is perfect narrating as Wade Watts.

ready player one

And some slightly related fun: Dylan downloaded the Akinator app on the weekend, and yesterday we had a such a fun time with it. Akinator is a genie who’s able to guess the character you’re thinking of, simply by asking you a bunch of questions. I was slightly awed by how he managed to guess Wade Watts. I did manage to stump him several times, though, with characters from and authors of some of my favourite, but older, reads. If you want to give it a whirl, here’s the web version. Warning, though: it can be slightly addictive!

Writing: Yes, I’ve been writing! Yay! So okay, it’s only been a few paragraphs to start off a couple of short stories, but I also pulled out my half-completed manuscript for the dark fantasy I’ll be workshopping this summer in Kelley Armstrong’s writing class. I have the next scene in mind, and in the meantime I’m rereading it to get reacquainted with all my characters. It’s progress!

Working: The indexing load has been nice and even, which helps a lot when it comes to my stress levels. I just finished an indexing deadline, and have another one next week, plus an article. In other news, I’ve signed on as the marketing manager for my first author at Booktrope, and it’s been such fun working with her.

Creating: Nothing yet. *sob* So much for being creative every day, right?

Exercising: I’ve been trying my best to keep moving throughout my day, and I’ve also been using my standing desk, too. Tomorrow is my first walking date with my friend; we’re meeting at 8:00 a.m., a time at which I’m usually still sleeping, so wish me luck!

So that’s the Snapshot of this past week. All my focusing on stress reduction seems to be working so far – yay! How has your week been?

My Current “In My Bag” Book

I have a little Kobo mini that stores a whole bunch of my ebooks. I keep that in my bag, so I can pull it out when I’m out and about and have some unexpected (or expected) reading time.

But lately I’ve taken to keeping a print book in my bag when I go out, too. Much as I love my various e-readers, I like having a print book with me as well. The Kobo Mini is for those times when I’m bored with the current “in my bag” book and want something different (plus it contains all my Pocket articles, a plus for me because sadly  I don’t have enough room on my iPhone to actually sync my Pocket app with my Pocket account).

Since I’m doing longer hauls on public transit nowadays in order to visit my mom, I’ve been pulling out my print book a lot.

For a while, it was a copy of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, because that’s a good book for dipping into every now and then, but my copy is a hardcover and I realized it was making my bag too heavy to shoulder around.

So I replaced it with a paperback copy of Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, a book that’s been in my TBR stacks for a while. I’ve taken to pulling it out on the ride to my mom’s place and back, and it’s just perfect for my new commute.

Good Omens

The best thing about Good Omens? Every few pages it makes me smile. Occasionally a half-strangled laugh slips out. It’s a book that makes me feel good, and that really makes it such a perfect subway book.

Only problem is, the story’s gotten so engrossing, I’ve pulled it out of my bag so I can read it around the house. Which means the next time I head out, I’ll probably forget to slip it into my bag. That’s if I haven’t finished it by then!

Do you keep a paperback with you when you’re out and about? Or do you rely on your e-reader for those times when you have an unexpected wait or travel time?

Monthly Wrap-up: February 2015 Reads

February kind of flew by, didn’t it? It turned out to be a great reading month for me, though – I managed to finish 13 books! It breaks down to three audiobooks, two graphic novels, and eight print books. No ebooks! Which is a little surprising, although I did finish Stephen King’s IT in ebook format (because it was too suspenseful to finish in audio).

Here are my February 2015 reads, in the order I read them – and oh, can I just say here, I love love love my reading spreadsheets – never before have I had access to such information about my reading! Before I started keeping track this year, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you what I’d just finished reading the previous week, much less the format and the order of reading!

February1

What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga (manga/graphic novel). This is definitely one for those who like graphic novels about food. It’s the story of Shiro and Kenji, a gay couple living in Tokyo and the food they eat. Lots of cooking on these pages, plus a recipe after each story. Do not read on an empty stomach, or you’ll find yourself raiding the fridge.

Blood Harvest by S.J. Bolton (Sharon Bolton) (print copy). This is the third book written by Bolton, but the first one of hers that I’ve read (although I think I may have previously read the first in her Lacey Flint series a while back). This was a suspenseful mystery, with a nice twist at the end. My favourite character was Harry, the vicar. I didn’t like the way the book ended, in the epilogue, but I really enjoyed the book as a whole.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (print copy). The story of a truly epic detour that Amy, whose dad has recently died, takes with Roger, the son of an old friend of her mom’s, when they drive cross country to the new life her mother’s making for herself in Connecticut. This is not the type of book that normally finds its way into my TBR, and I don’t know what prompted me to put it there in the first place, but I’m very glad that I did. The depiction of Amy’s grief felt so very true to me.

“Good-byes didn’t seem as important to me as they once had – I’d found that when you’re never going to see someone again, it’s not the good-bye that matters. What matters is that you’re never going to be able to say anything else to them. And you’re left with an eternal unfinished conversation. (p. 118)

IT by Stephen King (audiobook) (I talk about it here). I started this one in January, but it got so intense near the end, I had to wait until I could get an ebook copy from my library to finish it.  I really liked the way King went from the present to the past so effortlessly, without giving the reader any jolts. An enjoyable read, although I still say – what was up with that scene with Bev and the boys? It was SO unnecessary.

February2

Saga Vol 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel). I really enjoyed this one, although I’m a little embarrassed to admit, I was talking with Tasha earlier today about the Saga series and totally forgot I’d read volume 4 already. (I told her I really had to get to it – haha!). I think mostly I had it confused with volume 5, which hasn’t been released yet. That’s my story, anyway, and yes, I’m sticking with it. My bad book memory should in no way reflect on the awesomeness of this series.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (audiobook). I will probably be in the minority here, but I enjoyed Fangirl mostly for the Simon and Baz segments (and I’m thrilled that Rowell is going to be releasing a book about Simon and Baz!). And it was lovely seeing Cath finally figure out how to be her own person who can stand apart from her twin Wren. The characters are also nicely developed – not just Cath and Wren, but Reagan, Cath’s roommate and Levi, Cath’s boyfriend. Where the story dragged a little for me was Cath and Levi’s relationship, once they were clearly together. But overall, I enjoyed this one.

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami (print book). This was another good read – my first Murakami that wasn’t a short story, although I can’t call it my first full-length Murakami either, as it’s more of a novella. The illustrations really added to the very strange and quirky story. It was a fun read, and at the end, there are quite a few ways you can take the final paragraph. It does take some getting used to, this not being able to say with any certainty exactly what’s meant by that last paragraph. But that’s also part of the appeal, I think.

Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton (Sharon Bolton) (print book). I enjoyed Blood Harvest so much, I decided to check out Bolton’s debut novel. It definitely didn’t disappoint, coming as it does with twists galore. You do have to read it fully willing to suspend your disbelief, as the plot does get quite wild there at the end. It’s a page-turner, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself staying up late into the night to finish this one.

February3

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (print copy). Trigger Warning is a collection of Gaiman’s short stories and poems. Very very lovely read, especially if you’re a Gaiman fan. I wrote more about it here so I won’t repeat myself now.

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry (print copy). Yes, I finally did finish this one! And it took me a while not because it wasn’t good – it was very very good – but because I’d put it down on my desk and it got buried under a pile of papers. (I find it impossible to keep my desk tidy.) Since it’s nonfiction, I didn’t miss it the way I would a story I was in the middle of. But I’m glad I remembered to dig it out and finish it, because it was very very good (oh, did I say that already?). If you’re interested in creativity, imagination or drawing comics, this is a fun one to read.

Victims by Jonathan Kellerman (audiobook). Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series is basically a comfort series for me. For the longest while now, I only ever read these in audio, and I obviously don’t retain much of what I hear, as another blogger recently reviewed this book and I was all like “hey, you mean there’s an Alex Delaware novel I haven’t read?” because the plot did not sound familiar at all to me. So I borrowed this from the library, and started listening to it. And while I was listening to it, bits and pieces felt very familiar. It wasn’t until I was about halfway through that I realized I’d already read this one before. But despite this, I still couldn’t remember how it ended, so I just kept on going with it.

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders (print copy). If E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It formed any part of your childhood reading, then you really must pick up this wonderful book by Kate Saunders. Saunders has taken the story of the five children (now six) and the Psammead ten years into the future, when England is at war with Germany. It is a lovely read, and it made me cry. I knew it would.

awakening

Awakening by S.J. Bolton (Sharon Bolton) (print copy). As you can see, I was somewhat enamoured of Ms. Bolton last month. Awakening is her second book, and another enjoyable read. It wasn’t quite as twist-worthy as Sacrifice and Blood Harvest but it was still a good read. I do enjoy the characters Bolton creates – in this case, particularly Clara, with that giant chip on her shoulder (and understandably so). And the larger than life Sean North! He was fun to read about.

So those are the books I read in February. Hopefully I will do as well in March! How did your reading go in February?

Neil Gaiman stealth signs Trigger Warning copies

trigger warning by neil gaiman

Yesterday I was going through Facebook and I saw Neil Gaiman’s status update:

 

Stealth-signing! I loved the thought of Gaiman taking the time while he was waiting for a flight at an airport to stealthily sign his latest book at the airport bookstores. And also the wonderful surprise not-in-the-know purchasers of Trigger Warning must have felt when they opened the book.

(I’m using past tense because, from the comments on the update, it appears the books sold out pretty quickly.)

I wonder how many people drove to the airport just to buy a copy of the book? I can just imagine it now:

“Got to run. I want to buy a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning.” Looks at time on phone. “If I leave now, I should get there in an hour and a half.” Opens wallet. “Crap. Not enough money to pay for parking. Guess I’ll just use my credit card.”

“What are you going on about? The bookstore’s ten minutes away. Parking is free.”

“Who said anything about going to the bookstore? I’m going to the airport.”

And it also got me thinking, what if he’d been caught by some bookstore employee who didn’t like to read fiction and had no clue who he was?

“Sir, I’m afraid you’ll have to buy that book now that you’ve vandalized it.”

I wish I’d been in the area! To get a signed copy of the book yes, but especially when he was stealthily signing them. I might have recognized him – that would have been fun!

Were you lucky enough to get one of these stealth signed copies of Trigger Warning, or know someone who did?

[TSS] Bookish Bliss: A new book by a favourite author (Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning)

There’s nothing like the excitement of a new book by a favourite author. No matter what the book is about, you can be pretty sure you’ll be in for a good time.

My list of favourite authors is a mutable, ever-changing beast of a list. But there are some authors who will likely be on it permanently. Neil Gaiman is one. Stephen King is another. J.K. Rowling – and wouldn’t it be something if she wrote another children’s fantasy series? Newer additions to the favourites list include Tana French, Laini Taylor and Justin Cronin. Other writers on the list (P.L. Travers, Elizabeth Peters, L.M. Montgomery, Madeleine L’Engle, Roald Dahl, Reginald Hill) are, unfortunately, no longer here with us.

Over the past few days, I’ve been indulging in the bookish bliss of reading a new book by a favourite author: I just finished Neil Gaiman’s latest, the short story collection Trigger Warning, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

trigger warning by neil gaiman

In any short story collection, there’s usually some unevenness. Some stories will be better than others – yes, even when they’re all written by your favourite author!

I enjoyed all of the stories and poems in Trigger Warning, but of course I had some clear favourites:

“The Thing About Cassandra” about a boy’s imaginary girlfriend.

“The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains”, which is a reread for me. It’s appeared in a previous anthology, Stories, but while I do have that anthology, I don’t think that’s where I read it initially. It might actually have been somewhere online …

“Orange” – I loved the questionnaire format and how Gaiman was able to tell the story so well using that format.

“The Case of Death and Honey” – a Sherlock Holmes story, and another reread, as it had originally appeared in A Study in Sherlock.

“Nothing O’Clock”, a Doctor Who short story. Need I say more?

“The Sleeper and the Spindle”, because I love how Gaiman portrayed the queen.

And finally, “The Black Dog”, because it’s a Shadow short story. In the introduction Gaiman says:

There is one last [Shadow] story to be told, about what happens to Shadow when he reaches London. And then, if he survives that, it will be time to send him back to America. So much has changed, after all, since he went away.

I can hardly wait until he tells that last short story! Hopefully it will mean that’s when Gaiman intends to start writing the sequel to American Gods!

Have you indulged in a new book by a favourite author lately?

Snapshot: February 17, 2015

Time:

Photo of the week: It’s been so cold this past week, I haven’t even thought to bring out my phone and snap pictures when I’ve been out and about. So here’s another Creeper photo (that cat is just so photogenic). Hobbes is the cuddly – and naughty – one, but not nearly as photogenic.

Creeper

 

Feeling: A little tired, even though it’s still quite early in the evening for me. I’ve been getting up a bit earlier the past few days (working my way toward a regular morning ritual – yay!)

Reading: I finished Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton. This was her debut novel, and I really enjoyed it. It was so good, I went and put a hold on her second book before I finished this one.

Sacrifice

I’m also reading Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning, Derek Miller’s Norwegian by Night and Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road.

It’s been SO nice to have ample time for reading. I started Sacrifice last night and had the luxury of reading right through to the end when I picked it up again this afternoon (it’s that kind of a page-turner book).

Listening: I’m listening to Victims, by Jonathan Kellerman. I thought I’d read all of Kellerman’s books (except the latest, which I’m on hold for at the library) but then I came across someone’s review of Victims and I thought, hey, I don’t remember that plot – I must have missed this one.

But, as it turns out, I had read this one before. I began recognizing bits and pieces of the story once I started listening to it. I still don’t remember the whodunnit part, though, so I decided to just keep on listening. The Alex Delaware novels are kind of like comfort listens for me – I’ve done most of them in audio now.

Writing: I got an idea for a short story the other day, and I’m nearly finished the first draft. I’ve been playing around with titles. I think I might call it “The Devil’s Consort” or “When The Exorcist Arrives”.

Working: Nice and light on deadlines this week! I have an article to write and an index on regulatory law due later this week, and that’s all. I like my work when I’m not going frantic with deadlines.

Creating: Haven’t gotten back to creating a little something every day, but I’ve been thinking about it. Thinking about it counts a little … I think!

Looking forward to: More resting and reading. It’s so nice to know I have downtime between deadlines!

Reading outside my comfort zone

I hadn’t really thought about reading outside of my comfort zone this year, but there have, over the years, been a number of books I’ve thought about reading but haven’t, because, if I’m honest with myself, I’m a little scared of them.  And I’m not even sure what I mean by scared. 

I’m talking about books that look interesting but feel like they might be … tough reads.

A little while ago I came across this Stephen King quote: “I sometimes think that people don’t challenge themselves very hard to read stuff that’s a little bit more textured or nuanced.” And I thought to myself, Oh, wait! That’s me.

And then I thought, what’s wrong with a more challenging book, one that’s more textured, more nuanced? Nothing. I just don’t read them.

So I thought maybe I would, this year.

First author I’m tackling? Haruki Murakami. Mainly because when Ti writes about any of his works, I immediately think to myself, ooh, I’ve got to read that book. She makes him sound so good: strange and quirky, and the thing is, I like strange and quirky.

As Ti puts it, she’s a Murakami groupie, and she’s very good at it. Very good indeed. A couple of years ago she had a readalong of Murakami’s Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and I’ve always kicked myself for not joining in back then. I really wanted to, but something held me back.

I have one of Murakami’s short story collections, and have read a few of the stories in it, but I’ve never taken on an entire novel of his before. Thankfully, Ti has promised she will be there for me if I get stuck in any of Murakami’s books. She recommended I start with After Dark and while I was on my library’s website, I decided to put a hold on The Strange Library as well, since that’s his newest book (although I think it might be a better idea to buy my copies of Murakami, so I can mark them up and indulge in all the marginalia I want).

The Strange Library arrived first – I picked it up from the library on Friday. My husband and I are trying this thing where we’re going to start doing some of the things that the other is interested in. So that means I’ll be going to more concerts and music things, and he’s going to read more. We were sitting at my desk, trying to pick a book, and he saw The Strange Library and decided he’d like to give it a try, too.

strange library

So he read it this morning. Which meant, of course, that I had to read it sooner rather than later. So I did. (It helped that The Strange Library is really a novella. Plus it has illustrations.)

And I liked it! It was strange and quirky and best of all, highly readable. I even wrote down a quote from it that I liked (since I couldn’t mark it up, it being a library copy and all). I put it on an index card because I’m trying this index card note-taking system I found online. So it’s my first card.

“At the same time, my anxiety had turned into an anxiety quite lacking in anxiousness. And any anxiety that is not especially anxious is, in the end, an anxiety hardly worth mentioning.”

I really love that line.

The ending, though – there were so many different ways to read that ending. It made me think. I reread it several times. There it was, in its small font (while the rest of the story was done in a much larger font) and so even the choice of font size could have so many meanings. And ultimately, there’s a lot of fun in letting your mind bring up all these possible connections. Even though there’s no way you can really know whether any of those connections are “the” one.

As for my husband? He’s not much of a fiction reader, so this might not have been the best choice for him to start our “book club of two”. He thought it was okay. He says if he’d read it in university, he might have gotten excited about it, because he’d be trying to find all these themes in it. And he thought there were cultural aspects to it that were thought-provoking. But mostly he thought it was just okay. He’s not too keen on reading another Murakami, though.

He’s reading Trigger Warning now. Which is definitely not a book that’s out of MY comfort zone. I’m looking forward to seeing what he thinks of Neil Gaiman’s short story writing.

And I’m looking forward to reading After Dark. More Murakami!

Do you try to read out of your comfort zone?

Making some reading decisions

It’s odd. When I was busy with deadlines, I always knew what I wanted to read, even though I didn’t have that much time to read.

But now that things are less busy and I feel like I can actually breathe again – I’m having trouble picking what I want to read next! And as a result, I haven’t actually read much of anything over the past few days, even though I now have the time.

Argh.

I knew this was going to happen, too. Last week, I posted a reading plan for this week. This is what I wrote:

So to ward off my tendency to fritter all my down time away doing nothing (sadly, I must include playing games on my iPhone and my tablet as “doing nothing” – it’s actually one of my favourite ways of doing nothing), I’ve decided to come up with a reading plan for next week.

See how well I know myself? The reading plan isn’t working, though, because I went ahead and finished Blood Harvest and I’m not in the mood right now for any of the other books. Not even The Dream Thieves, which I’m having trouble getting into (I think I need to check out the Raven Boys recap link Jill gave me). And the other books in my reading plan are either graphic novels or nonfiction, and I just don’t feel like reading either type of book right now.

But I do know if I don’t put a stop to this post-deadline dithering, I really will end up doing nothing for way too long.

So it’s time to make some reading decisions. I’ve been asking myself what I feel like reading, and the only answer I’m getting is “a really good story”. I can be so unhelpful at times.

I’ve more or less narrowed it down to these three choices:

Norwegian by Night

norwegian-by-night4_thumb

I discovered Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller when Bernadette blogged about it. This was the part of her post that particularly captivated me:

I can foresee that the novel’s hero, 82 year old Sheldon “Donny” Horowitz, will become one of my all time favourites. He is my idea of a perfect character. That doesn’t mean he’s a perfect person but that’s kind of the point. He’s just an ordinary bloke dealing with the hand life has dealt him with the kind of active practicality that I associate with men of his generation.

For a while now, I’ve been questioning why there’s such a lack of older characters in the fiction I’m reading, older characters who are real, who get to play one of the starring roles, who are not just a stereotypical depiction thrown into the mix to add some diversity. I put a hold on this book right after I read Bernadette’s post, and I now have it in my library stack.

Good Omens

good omens

I’ve been wanting to read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett for quite a while now. Also, one of my 2015 goals is to reduce my TBR by reading ten books, and Good Omens is on that list of ten books.

Not to mention, it promises to be a really funny read. And I may be in the mood for really funny.

Or not.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters

dreams of gods and monsters

I know. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I raved about the first two books in the series. And now I have Dreams of Gods & Monsters in my hot little hands … and I’m not sure if it’s what I want to read right now. I know it will be good, and the beauty of it is, the previous books are still really, really fresh in my mind.

But they were intense, especially Days of Blood & Starlight, and I’m not sure I’m ready for intense right now.

So this is what I’ve decided …

Tomorrow. I’ll pick one of these books tomorrow. For tonight, I think I’m going to head to bed early, maybe get a good start on my quest to become a morning person.  I had the entire day off today, and it’s really tired me out!

Want to help me out? Which of these three books would you pick?

{2015 Goals} Reducing the TBR Stash – The Last Five Books

A couple of days ago I shared the first five books I’m going to try and tackle from Mount TBR in 2015. Here are the final five.

 

Photo 2014-12-18, 8 19 29 PM

6. Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

Not that anyone really needs the blurb to this one …

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

I started the series in audio, but then I realized from reading other people’s thoughts there would be a lot of bloody, gory deaths. Much better in print for me, then. I actually bought a boxed set of the first four books, so I have the other three to read as well.

7. The Man on the Balcony, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

The chilling third novel in the Martin Beck mystery series by the internationally renowned crime writing duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, finds Martin Beck investigating a string of child murders.In the once peaceful parks of Stockholm, a killer is stalking young girls and disposing their bodies. The city is on edge, and an undercurrent of fear has gripped its residents. Martin Beck, now a superintendent, has two possible witnesses: a silent, stone-cold mugger and a mute three year old boy. With the likelihood of another murder growing as each day passes, the police force work night and day. But their efforts have offered little insight into the methodology of the killer. Then a distant memory resurfaces in Beck’s mind, and he may just have the break he needs.

I’ve been meaning to read the Martin Beck series for a while. This isn’t the first book in the series, but it’s the one book in the series that I do have.

8. Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay

Ned Marriner is spending springtime with his father in Provence, where the celebrated photographer is shooting images for a glossy coffee table book.

While his father photographs the cathedral of Aix-en-Provence, Ned explores the shadowy interior with Kate Wenger, an American exchange student who has a deep knowledge of the area’s history. They surprise an intruder in a place where he should not be: “I think you ought to go now,” he tells them, drawing a knife. “You have blundered into a corner of a very old story.”

In this sublime and ancient part of the world, where borders between the living and the long-dead are most vulnerable, Ned and those close to him are about to be drawn into a haunted tale, as mythic figures from conflicts of long ago erupt into the present, changing and claiming lives.

I have had Ysabel and Tigana in my TBR stash for a few years now. The only reason Ysabel is in this list and not Tigana is because I couldn’t find Tigana in any of the TBR piles. It’s there somewhere, though, I know!

9. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Another one that doesn’t really need the blurb, but to be consistent, here it is:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

I haven’t read this one because I don’t really like dystopian novels. And then last year I read Divergent and realized I was, of course, wrong to use such a blanket assumption (as is usually the case with assumptions). I’m pretty sure I’ll like The Hunger Games, once I start reading it.

10. Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

Fat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. Now brother Spider’s on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.

Another Neil Gaiman book in my list. Stardust is the other Gaiman novel I have yet to read (not counting his two recent fairy tale retellings, Hansel and Gretel and The Sleeper and the Spindle), but I don’t have a physical copy of Stardust, so it’s not on this list. But it would be, if it was actually in my TBR stash.

So these five plus these previous five are the ones I intend to read in 2015. It’s only ten books from my TBR, but it’s ten more than I read this year! I thought about doing twelve books, one per month, but when I went through TBR piles, only ten books called to me. Which might lead you to think, maybe I should get rid of the rest of the TBR books, right? But I just couldn’t. I already weeded it out three years ago when we moved. I don’t think I can bear to weed out any more books from it …

The Short Story Box: A Short Story A Day, Randomized

When I was in my early twenties, I read a lot of short stories, but then somewhere between then and now, I fell out of the habit.

Last year, I picked up Neil Gaiman’s short story collection, Smoke and Mirrors, and remembered how much pleasure a well-crafted short story can bring to me as a reader. I decided back then that I wanted to read more short stories (yes, it was about a year ago – I procrastinate quite well).

Fast forward to now. Since that time last year, I have, rather unconsciously, been collecting short story collections and anthologies. Last week, I took a look around at my bookshelves, both physical and digital, and realized I’d amassed quite the collection.

I also realized something else. I don’t reach for a book of short stories the way I reach for a novel.  With a novel, I get these squiggly bookish feelings of anticipation and when these come, I naturally reach for whichever novel it is, and start reading.

This doesn’t happen with short stories. Have you noticed how short story collections are often great big thick books? I find they make me feel a little wary.

But I still have this desire to start reading more short stories.

So I decided, if the idea of a big collection of short stories is off-putting, why not have some fun with things instead?

Fun, as in surprising myself with a different short story every day!

Here is my Short Story box:

short story box

I made up a list in my Bullet Journal, giving each short story collection or anthology a letter. Then I cut up a bunch of paper from the paper recycling box. I began going through each of the books, jotting down the title of the short story (and the page number, for print books) on a small slip of paper, which I then tossed into my Short Story box.

My plan is to pick a short story from the box every day. No more resistance to those thick short story anthologies. No more trying to decide what genre I want to read. It will always be a surprise!

If this works out, I’ll simply keep adding more books to my collection, and more short story titles to my Short Story box. If this doesn’t work out, well, I’ve been having a great time writing down titles, and marvelling at how imaginative some of them are are.

Here are the short story collections/anthologies I’ve gone through so far (I have many more, plus ones I’ve saved to Pocket from various places like the New Yorker magazine):

Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury

The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Eighth Annual Collection

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Haruki Murakami)

he Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2007: 20th Annual Collection

M is for Magic (Neil Gaiman)

Mammoth Book of Best British Mysteries, vol. 9

The O’Henry Prize Stories, 2013

Best American Mystery Stories, 2011

Come Along with Me (Shirley Jackson)

Best Horror of the Year, vol 6

Best Horror of the Year, vol. 5

Fragile Things (Neil Gaiman)

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24

Others still to be added include short story collections from Flannery O’Connor and Ray Bradbury, as well as a lot more anthologies in the mystery, horror, thriller, science fiction and fantasy genres. I’m going for an eclectic mix, and will be keeping my eye out for new anthologies to add to my collection.

It feels like a lot of fun to me, and if I can stick with a short story a day, by this time next year I will have read 365 short stories! I like the sound of that.

Do you like to read short stories? If yes, do you have a collection/anthology that you would highly recommend? A favourite short story author?