From Bookriot: 15 Small Tasks to Encourage a Bookish New Year

Happy New Year! I don’t do resolutions, but I always like the fresh start of a new year to make goals. Reading more and keeping track of my reading better (or at all, it seems!) is always a goal.

From Bookriot’s list I like #2, #4, #12, #14 and for number 15, I think I’ll make sure if I do a Goodreads reading goal, I list something super easy to get, like 10 books read! At one point when I logged in Goodreads told me I was 40 Books Behind! Daunting! I don’t think that sort of reminder is helpful or encouraging. Even if it just said ” you’re at 20 of your goal of 50″, it’s more encouraging.


A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

I’ve just finished the first novel in Edgar Rice Burroughs series of novels about John Carter of Mars.

I have the edition which includes the first five novels in the series. I will be tracking down every book in the series, I loved this novel so much.

Written in 1911, it is full of adventure, non stop with every chapter. It was serialized in All Story magazine, and I can imagine people reading and waiting eagerly for the next installment.

The mechanism for John Carter, a former Confederate officer, transferring his person and consciousness to the dying planet Mars is a bit loose–perhaps more explanation comes in another book. Once he’s there, he has immense strength and can leap rather amazing distances, explained by the gravitational differences between Earth and Mars. As an ex-soldier, he is an adept fighter with a wide knowledge of weaponry who is often unbeatable.

He is captured by impossibly tall, multi-limbed Green Martians whose lives are ruled by fighting prowess and concepts of honor and tradition which allow John to prove himself and become a champion among them.

One day, a fleet of scientific vessels from far off Helium is brought down by the ever warring Tharks, and Deja’s Thoris, Princess of Helium is captured.

John is smitten on sight, and vows to find a way to free Dejah. She is wise, intelligent, and full of honor and bravery.

I loved the Thark society for all it’s barbarity. They exist in dead cities full of beautiful ornamentation. They appreciate it, but create nothing themselves. They have a scientific system of choosing traits that will be passed on to next generations. Love and romance have no place in their scheme of survival.

Characters such as Sola and Tars Tarkas stand out all the more for their willingness to be compassionate.

The thin atmosphere of Mars is maintained at a huge fortress which can only be accessed by particular thought patterns. Martians are able to read each other’s minds, but can’t read John’s. What he learns during a short respite there can save the world.

John himself is often a fine scientific observer. He marvels at all he sees and is fascinated by Mars and it’s societies just as the reader is.

While not indifferent to lives lost in the many huge battles that take place–with hundreds of thousands of lives lost, he takes it in stride.

He often prides himself on being a “Virginia gentleman”. He never gives up, and once he realizes he loves Dejah Thoris, he’ll do everything he can to free her and get her home.

I am hoping to find editions of the books with the original illustrations, the scenes and characters are so vivid, but I’d love to see more.

I also would like to know more about Edgar Rice Burroughs, who created these astonishing stories.

Monthly Wrapup

I’m going to do a Monthly Wrapup here, and how easy it is to do when you don’t post anything! Looking at my post count for 2017, we were at FIVE POSTS. Yikes! I’m going to give myself a goal of one hundred posts for the year in 2018.

I learned a great deal about using memes and other types of blog post prompts this month on my DOA blog. There turn out to be many memes for book blogs. Some of the ones I liked and will try are:

Bookmark Monday (I’ve learned you can put PDF’s easily into a WordPress post, whilst Blogger makes you use the Paid for Feature Google Drive). Let’s see what I can come up with!

First paragraph Tuesday Either from a currently being read book, or perhaps a favorite that starts off really well.

Waiting On Wednesday or something like it. The Breaking the Spine blog started the idea of posting on Wednesdays a few titles you’re looking forward to. She inexplicably vanished from her own blog, with no updates since August of 2016 (see, I’m not so bad). She had links to other people’s blogs who did the Waiting on Wednesday meme, over 1600! Still a good idea to feature things you’ve heard about that week that look good.

Books to Film

Books to Television

Thursday Quotables A quote from your current book or a favorite.

Friday 56 Any sentence from page 56 of any book.

Shelf Candy Saturday Beautiful book covers, or could be the cover of a current or older fiction magazine. (I have some fun old science fiction magazines) I think this also could be a place for “Shelfies” a snapshot of books on your home shelves.

Bad Book Casting Movies or shows where you think the whole thing would have been better with other actors.

Booknotes Links to interesting articles on books or authors

Follow them Friday I haven’t done much with my Merlyn Twitter account, but I could work on my list of authors etc. I follow and recommend some I enjoy.

Authors on Facebook I can recommend from Facebook some authors I enjoy as well.

Let me look again at Online Book Groups, I’m not even sure how many are out there any more, but I shall find some, join them, and let you know what I think.

Literary Cryptograms I’ll move my first line Cryptogram posts to this blog.

Book Rebus My ever popular First Line From A Book Rebuses will come here too.

Crosswords Any Crossword Puzzles I conjure with book themes will be here.

Word Finds Word Finds I create with book themes will be here.

TBR Pile Pictures of my current stack

With all these great ideas, I’m sure to have a much more interesting Book Blog in for 2018.

To Be Read Notes From the Notebooks Of…

Time to get in blogging form as fall comes along. On my DOA blog I’m gearing up to get in 100 posts for the year (and I’m perilously behind, current at 29!). I’m digging through my ever handy notebooks for material to use to pad that post count, and I’m going to keep separate the book stuff that I could use there to be posted here instead. Voila, as I go through those notes I’ll put right here all the books I jotted down as being of interest for my to-be-read list.

I have been reading, lots of good things, but of course my thoughts don’t make it here or on Good Reads where I said I’d read 50 books this year. Somehow I need to list those and see how close I am, goal and deadline oriented person that I am.
Edit: This is great! I’m going through my notebook from earlier this year and it’s loaded with book notes. I also happen to have scraps of paper and little reading notebooks I’ve had for ages. I’m going to get those books on this nice virtual To Read List and toss all those scraps and notes and get a few inches of space reclaimed in my craft room for crafting 🙂

Ongoing list of things that sound good:

From Bookish
Magpie Murders Anthony Horowitz
She Rides Shotgun Jordan Harper
The Weight of Lies Emily Carpenter
Persons Unknown Susie Steiner
Ruth Ware The Lying Game
The Amber Shadows Lucy Ribchester

Random Source:
Soleri Michael Johnston
The Great Library Series by Rachel Caine Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, Ash and Quill
Bannerless Carrie Vaughn
Tomorrow’s Kin Nancy Kress (First in a new trilogy)
Afterlife Marcus Sakey (2 FBI agents on a case, one alive, one dead)
Arabella and the Battle of Venus (Book 2) David D. Levine
Killing is my business (series) Adam Christopher (robot PI turned hitman
The Punch Escrow Tal M Klien
Strange Practice Vivian Shaw


While I waited for The Stone of Farewell to arrive, I picked up Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind. It is ever on my to read list, and my husband really loved it. After reading the Dragonbone Chair, with its descriptions of Osten Ard and its denizens, Name of the Wind seemed almost Hemingwayesque with it’s short sentences. I’ll get back to it after finishing the Tad Williams tales.

This afternoon, because I was in the mood and my other books were way downstairs, I read the intro to a short story collection Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers. I’ve had it for awhile, but that’s the lovely thing about having your own books rather than always borrowing them, they are right there for you when you’re ready to read them. I have a long history of loving short stories. I have so many old collections of science fiction, fantasy and horror tales. Those particular genres really suit the short story form, for me. This one, in it’s wonderful introduction (I always read Introductions, Forwards and Prefaces) talks about the Victorian era and how it’s modernization of the wide world actually gave rise to many new tales of horror and “scientific romance”. I have read so many of the authors they mention. The book is full of tales by modern authors setting their tales in Victorian times, and I’m hoping they are successful in making new stories in the manner of the old. Since I love the era and have read so many of the best the times had to offer, I’d love new stories set there.

Stone Of Farewell came this afternoon and I just sat down and began to happily read it. It picks up right were the last novel left off and our heroes and heroines are heading into ever more danger. There are so many great characters in these books, when I write up Stone of Farewell, I’m going to be sure to mention my favorites. I got an edition that is larger than my Dragonbone copy. I’m delighted that it has more maps, and they’re much easier to read. I couldn’t make out the details even with a magnifying glass in the first paperback of the series. I love maps.

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately, happy times. I want to list them on Goodreads, but because I signed up for the goal of 50 books, when I log in there they blast me with a message “You’re (insert number) books behind on your goal! Eek! Reading Goal Shaming…

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

Coming very soon is Tad Williams new Osten Ard book The Witchwood Crown, first in a new series by him titled The Last King Of Osten Ard.

Sometimes there are holes in my science fiction and fantasy reading, not having read the Dragonbone Chair is one such hole now filled. I felt that it started off really slowly, and I had trouble liking the main character Simon, surely the laziest and most inconsiderate boy in any world. Then events occurred which sent him alone out on the road, running for his life. Slowly, slowly the boy matured. At the end of the Dragonbone Chair he’s still somewhat clueless, but his survival skills have been honed thanks to companions he meets, and he has come to care very much about the fate of his world and his friends and allies. I mention his character development at some length because I have to have someone to root for and admire in a book, and it took awhile for Simon to be that person.

Luckily, he is surrounded by great companions and allies. The troll Binabik and his wolf mount/friend Qantaqa travel with Simon. From them Simon learns much about survival, loyalty and friendship. It almost seems that Binabik is the first person Simon has ever cared about besides himself. Opening that door in selfish Simon is everything, and it makes Simon befriend others and give loyalty where none existed. He comes to travel with runaways, royalty, and impossible creatures from the world’s past.

Simon is that core character who is an unwitting and reluctant hero who can help shape the fate of the world. He chooses a side in a seeming war between brothers which is the unloosening of something much darker in the lands of Osten Ard.

The story is full of battles, bravery, treachery, shining good and darkest evil. At 766 pages, it’s a wonderful tale that for that last 600 pages or so, you truly don’t want to put down. I ordered the sequels The Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower as soon as I closed the cover. I already have the Witchwood Crown On Order 🙂

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

I read some superlative reviews of the new Netflix version of A Series Of Unfortunate Events, and found a copy of The Bad Beginning on my shelves. I used to buy the first book in a series that all the Avid Readers were pouring over for my son, thinking he might also like them. Some he did, some not.

Although the book is easy reading, I loved that it was filled with vocabulary, both the word itself and an arch description of what it really means. Seldom do you read a book with so many words describing villainy in so many ways.


The way these children loved books and libraries and reading endeared them to me immediately. Their own home “had an enormous library…a room filled with thousands of books on nearly every subject”.

Moving to the dirty, depressing home of their relation Count Olaf, they’re without books entirely in addition to the other privations of life with Olaf. Klaus says “I miss reading very much. We must go out and look for a library sometime soon.”

Next door lives a Judge who agrees to lend them a cookbook for a large dinner they’re to prepare. She has an entire cookbook section in her library. “There were shelves and shelves of them, on every wall from the floor to the ceiling, and separate shelves of them in the middle of the room. The only place there weren’t books was in one corner, where there were some large, comfortable-looking chairs and a wooden table with lamps hanging over them, perfect for reading.” Paradise! Particularly compared to the barren squalor they now lived in. They’re invited to borrow books at any time, which gives them a bit of happiness to hold onto.

The book contains a great deal of absurdity, beginning with every single thing about Olaf, continuing with a man with two hooks for hands, a banker who loves their fortune and vows to protect it while offering them nothing to hold onto, and a baby in a birdcage hanging in a tower window.

I understand after reading The Bad Beginning why the Avid Readers who came to the library loved these.