Monday, January 16, 2017

Musical Monday - Strange Fruit by Billie Holliday

Rebecca Ferguson was invited to sing at President-elect Trump's upcoming inauguration scheduled for January 20. She said that she would agree, provided she was permitted to sing Billie Holliday's Strange Fruit as part of her performance. This is not a request that should have come as a surprise to anyone - after all, Ferguson recorded the song as part of her 2015 album Lady Sings the Blues on which she recorded a number of Holliday's jazz classics.

On the other hand, the request was quite a pointed one. Trump ran on a platform that displayed a casual, almost unthinking racism: He opened his campaign by asserting that a disproportionate number of Hispanic immigrants were rapists of murderers (the opposite is true), and then moved on to claiming that a Mexican-American judge could not be relied upon to carry out his duties impartially solely due to his heritage. He then moved on to calling for a complete ban on Muslim's coming into the United States, and moved on to laying the groundwork for a registry of all Muslims in the country. Most recently, after congressman John Lewis pointed out the illegitimacy of trump's presidency as a result of factors such as his losing the popular vote, the Russian efforts to interfere in the American electoral process in his favor, and so on - Trump lashed back with his usual reflexive and unthinking racism, claiming that the district Lewis represents was a disaster, specifically saying it was "falling apart" and "crime infested". The reality is that the district Lewis represents includes Atlanta, one of the economic powerhouses in Georgia, and something like 40% of its adult population holds a college degree. The crime rate in Atlanta, like that in many major cities in the United States, has been in decline for years. Nothing about Trump's claims concerning Lewis' district rally stands up to any kind of scrutiny. Calling areas with majority black populations a disaster without checking to see if they are is, however, right in line with Trump's behavior in the past. This sort of reflexive reaction to majority black areas reveals the racism that is at Trump's core.

Strange Fruit, based on a poem written in 1937, and originally recorded in 1939, is a song explicitly about lynchings of African-Americans, which were horrifyingly commonplace in the U.S. South of that era. When Holliday recorded it and started including it in her live performances, she was fearful of retaliation. She would sing it to close her show, and would not give an encore afterwards. The lights in the house would all be turned off except for a single light on Holliday, and if she was performing in a nightclub, the waiters would stop serving before she performed the song. Columbia, Holliday's recording label, and John Hammond, her regular producer, refused to record the song, worried about the negative reaction that would be provoked in the Southern states. Instead, she received a one-session release from Columbia and recorded the song with the Commodore label. The song had, and has that kind of power.

Trump's racism is not as virulent as that depicted in Strange Fruit, but it is still racism just the same. Lewis spent his youth fighting for Civil Rights, while Trump spent his being sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent apartments to black tenants. When asked about how he can connect with and address the concerns of African-American voters, Trump's immediate response is to start talking about crime and poverty in the inner cities. It is clear that when Trump thinks "black" he reflexively thinks of crime and poverty. This kind of unconscious racism pervades Trump's personality, and is revealed by what he says that pass for pronouncements on matters of public policy. The one common thread that runs through Trump's thinking is that non-white people are sources of violence, crime, and poverty, and must be watched and monitored. Everything he says and everything he proposed ties back to this one truth. This is, fundamentally at odds with the ideals the United States aspires to, but sadly, it is perfectly in line with the practices that have dominated the history of the United States.

I had thought the United States had become better than this. I had thought that although there was still much that could be improved, the era of openly expressed racism from our political leaders was in our past. Apparently, I had thought wrong. The United States is still mired in racism, and there is still a lot of work to do to overcome it.

Previous Musical Monday: Diamonds Are Forever by Shirley Bassey

Billie Holliday     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Blogger Hop January 13th - January 19th: Samuel L. Jackson's First Headlining Movie Role Was in the Film "One Eight Seven"

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Is every day a reading day for you?

Yes. I read for at least part of every day. I may not read a lot on a given day, but I do read something. I'd like to read more than I do, but frequency is not a problem for me, but rather sustained volume is.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: POX 186 Is a Small Galaxy

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, January 13, 2017

Follow Friday - Lodge 288 of the Freemasons Covers the Ashburn-Sterling, Virginia Area

It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and a single Follow Friday Featured Blogger each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the Featured Blogger of the week - One reader's Thougts.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Best and worst reads for 2016. Which would you recommend, which would you not?

Best: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. There are many good dystopian novels. There are many good post-apocalyptic novels. This is the only novel I can think of in which a dystopian nightmare of a civilization descends into an even worse post-apocalyptic nightmare. Relentlessly harsh and jarring, this novel is not for the faint of heart, but for those who make the effort, there is a gem of a story contained within its pages.

Other Recommendations: Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, Updraft by Fran Wilde, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.

Worst: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. I went into this in depth in my review, but the book is simply dull and overly windy. It is padded out with too much filler and too few characters worth caring about. There are a handful of interesting ideas in its pages, but they are swamped by the piles of boring and poorly presented crap that surround them.

Follow Friday     Home

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review - The KGB Against the "Main Enemy": How the Soviet Intelligence Service Operates Against the United States by Herbert Romerstein and Stanislav Levchenko

Short Review: An account of how the Soviet the intelligence services operated from their inception through to the dying twilight of the nation they served.

Useful idiots
Then, hardened mercenaries
At last, ruthless pros

Full review: This book is a very dense review of the operations of the Soviet intelligence services throughout the history of the Soviet Union from the earliest days of the Bolshevik revolution through the mid-1980s (the book was published in 1989). The authors are both former members of the intelligence community - one a former analyst for various committees of the House of Representatives and USIA and the other a former KGB officer who defected to the United States. Together, they weave together the various pieces of public information on the operations of Soviet intelligence to show how the KGB (and its predecessors the OGPU, NKVD, and all the other piles of alphabetical acronyms used by the Russian intelligence services) targeted those designated as enemies of the Soviet state, especially the United States.

The book focuses heavily on those who worked for the Soviets as willing agents, from the early naive and idealistic recruits of the 1920s and 1930s who believed in the worker's paradise, to the purely mercenary operatives of the 1960s and 1970s, to the evolution of the KGB into its final evolution as a service comprised of highly professional intelligence officers. The book is still extremely relevant, because even though the Soviet Union and the KGB are gone now, the intelligence apparatus they represented still lives on in the Russian state, and appears to still be using much the same tactics and with much the same aims as they were during the heyday of the U.S.S.R.

The most interesting elements of the book feature the early Soviet intelligence service - including those who worked in the United States before the U.S. government had even recognized the U.S.S.R. It is hard now to conceive of individuals so idealistic and naive as to believe that the Soviet leaders had their best interests at heart, but it is a historical fact that people signed up to fight as part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War only to be horribly betrayed by constant OGPU monitoring and purges. Many of these idealists found themselves on the wrong side of Soviet factional fighting when Trotsky split with Stalin (and Stalin developed an almost obsessive desire to eliminate Trotsky and his followers), and wound up being killed by those they had placed so much faith in. In the early days, it seems like working for the Soviet intelligence service was a good way to get killed by Soviet agents as cynical apparatchiks in Moscow killed off those they considered unreliable, those who had picked the wrong horse to back, or just those they simply disliked (anti-Semitism seems to have been a very big factor in Soviet decision-making).

The authors detail the use of Communist groups in other countries as fronts for Soviet intelligence operations, focusing especially upon the importance of the Spanish Civil War in spreading Soviet influence through the world before and during World War II. The book goes into great depth concerning the methods used by Soviet intelligence such as putting out numerous forgeries (many so clumsy as to be ludicrous, and despite this, many people seem to swallow them hook, line, and sinker), and showing how the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (and Hitler's subsequent betrayal of that pact) coupled with Stalin's purges crippled Soviet intelligence operations for a generation by disillusioning the idealistic cadre the Soviets had relied upon and forcing the Soviet intelligence service to turn to bribery and blackmail as their primary means of gaining information afterwards.

Much of the book depends on assembling information from many sources, often using wispy-thin connections as evidence. Some might say that Romerstein and Levchenko make too much of some alleged connections; on the other hand, the subject matter is intelligence operations so all of the connections are supposed to be entirely secret - even having some out in the open is evidence to a certain degree. In my estimation, the authors don't stretch their evidence beyond its value, and support their contentions reasonably well, using testimony from Congressional hearings, letters and statements made by various individuals both inside and outside the Soviet intelligence service, and the known actions of individuals. Where contradictory evidence is known to exist, the authors explain why such contradictory evidence is either reliable enough to provide doubt, or why they discount it.

The picture of Soviet intelligence depicted in this book is not a pretty one: The service seems to have been a combination of brutality and clumsiness. One wonders how truly effective the KGB has been, given their propensity to kill their own almost at random, and the almost inept ways they operate at times. That said, the vicious nature of the organization seems to have engendered a level of ruthlessness and paranoia that continues to fuel Russian thought even to this day. In a very real sense, the history of the security apparatus that underlaid the entire U.S.S.R. is the history that best informs us of how modern day Russia came to be. On the whole, the book is a chilling reminder of where Putin and many of the other leaders of modern Russia came from, and how they have been trained to view and deal with the rest of the world.

Herbert Romerstein     Stanislav Levchenko     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Random Thought - High School, Expectations, and Literature

This post is inspired by the Book Blogger Hop question I answered on December 31, 2016. The question made me contemplate the classic works of literature I had read, and I realized that I read a large proportion of those when I was a student. Specifically, when I was in high school, the curriculum I read a lot of classic novels and other works of prose and poetry. From my memory, the list is something like this:

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
L'Etranger by Albert Camus
Les Jeux Sent Faits by Jean-Paul Sartre
Light in August by William Faulkner
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Rhinoceros by Eugéne Ionesco
Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I also read a number of plays by Shakespeare (to the best of my recollection I read Hamlet, Henry IV, Part I, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet, and Twelfth Night) as well as Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I also read substantial portions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and Milton's Paradise Lost. I also recall an entire trimester devoted to studying poetry.

The point here is not to brag, after all pretty much every classmate of mine read a list of works either identical to or substantially similar to this. The point is rather to reflect upon the fact that I walked away from my high school graduation pretty well read in prominent works of literature. This wasn't really my doing - it was simply part of the school's curriculum, and that is the salient issue here. I'm not endorsing this particular list as being universal - looking at it, I think that there should definitely be more works by women in the selection, and it would have been nice if the list included at least some works by non-white authors. I didn't love all the books on the list - I'm not a fan of Austen, and a really loathed Salinger's work - but I'm still glad that I read them. Fundamentally, for whatever flaws it has, this is a list that provided me with a good grounding in literature.

I attended a private high school named Woodberry Forest School for the last three years of my secondary education, and this list is basically what I read during my sojourn there. I was able to attend this school basically due to a collection of circumstances that had almost nothing to do with me. My family is not wealthy, certainly not wealthy enough to afford to send a teen-ager off to one of the more highly ranked boarding schools in the United States.

This reading list didn't strike me as being out of the ordinary when I was a student. After all, it was the only high school curriculum that I had directly experienced at that time. That sort of classwork was, to me, normal. I have no idea what other high schools were teaching at the time. At the time, I was not exposed to the expectations of public high schools for comparison. More recently, however, my children have attended a public high school, and from what I can tell, the reading requirements were nowhere near as rigorous. Their school isn't a bad high school - it is in fact part of a fairly well-regarded school system, and is itself seen as being a pretty good school. Even so, based upon my observation of my son's high school career, I'm pretty certain that he didn't read even a quarter as much literature as I did in mine.

I think this lowered expectation does a great disservice to students. Fundamentally, one of the goals of reading literature in school is to give the student critical thinking skills: The ability to read a text closely, the ability to evaluate and understand a work, and so on. But that is not the only reason we read literature. Great literature informs us of the culture that we are inheriting, and passes on a reflection of the author's mind. Reading Huckleberry Finn tells the reader a story that reflects what Mark Twain thought about American culture, while reading Faulkner's Light in August tells a very different story about American culture. Students should read literature not just for the mechanical exercise of assimilating and analyzing the work, but also to be exposed to their own cultural heritage. I suspect that my son and daughter have been comparatively shortchanged in this regard.

Some people see this sort of difference and wonder why one should send their children to public schools. They seek to place their children in private schools like the one I attended, or to bring their children home and educate them themselves. Some even try to take funding away from public schools and direct that money towards "school choice". I am of the opinion that this is antithetical to the fabric of the nation in which we live. Fundamentally, it is the right of every child to have the sort of education that I was lucky enough to receive. We should not be dumbing down the public school curriculum and ceding the role of asking only those students fortunate enough to be educated elsewhere to students to stretch their intellectual muscles to a comparative handful of private institutions. We should be working to raise up our public schools and pushing students to read more widely than we do now. Great literature is a source of knowledge, culture, and joy, and we should be making sure that we give a full measure it to every student.

Random Thoughts     Home

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Review - Tolkien: A Dictionary by David Day

Short review: A small reference volume for Tolkien's fiction.

If you want to know
Something about Middle-Earth
This is a good start

Full review: Although this book is titled Tolkien: A Dictionary, it probably would be more aptly described as a miniature encyclopedia of Tolkien's fiction. The volume offers a reasonably comprehensive set of descriptions of the major people, places, things, and other features that appeared in Tolkien's fiction related to Middle-Earth. The entries consist mostly of descriptions of names and terms found in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, all arranged in alphabetical order for easy reference.

Given that this is a reference work, most people will probably not approach this book the same way I did, which was to start at page one and read straight through all of the entries. I suspect that most readers will use this book in the manner that it is obviously intended, which is as a reference work to be consulted when one needs elucidation about who Mim was, or what Athelas is, or where Ravenhill is. Overall, this book is reasonably useful for that purpose, although there are some puzzling omissions - there is no entry describing the Palatír, for example, even though there are entries explaining what pipe-weed and Mallorns are. The omitted entries may have been oversight, or they might have been the result of the relative brevity of this book when compared to the expansive subject matter it is attempting to cover. In any event, those using this book as their sole reference are likely to be disappointed now and again, although it is still useful for most purposes as a handy pocket guide.

Despite the odd gap here and there in the range of things that this book covers, the entries that are there are generally well-presented. In some cases, the text is quite comprehensive, extended for a couple of pages to describe a particularly notable element of Tolkien's history with a particularly extensive history. On the other hand, some entries are quite brief, giving only the most minimal definition of the person, place, or thing in question and leaving considerable amount of potential material out. I suspect that the brevity of many entries is due to space limitations engendered by the apparent need to keep the book under three hundred pages. That said, the individual entries are interesting reading, and mostly informative. The entries don't quite do justice to Tolkien's own descriptive text, but they have clearly been inspired by it, and seem to be kin to Tolkien's prose in a manner reminiscent of how one's distant cousin is kin to you. If one is ambitious, the book comes complete with a list of sources, giving citations supporting all of the entries in the book.

It must be noted that this is definitely a reference book, and anyone hoping to be able to understand Tolkien's world with just this as a guide will likely be quite confused. Each individual entry is reasonably clear, concise, and informative, but they do not really provide for the larger context that is required for true understanding. This book would probably be best used as a supplement to be consulted in the event that someone reading one of Tolkien's works ran across a term that they did not know. In that capacity, this work would be an extremely useful tool.

As with most other David Day-authored works related to Tolkien, this volume contains a fair number of illustrations, although the book is somewhat disappointing on that score. All of the illustrations are recycled works that appeared in previous books, and none of them are in color. Unlike some of Day's other books, such as An Atlas of Tolkien, or A Tolkien Bestiary, there are no full-page illustrations, but rather all of them are interspersed with the text. Given the quite beautiful presentation of some of Day's other works, this is somewhat disappointing, although it does not impair the functionality of the book.

Overall, Tolkien: A Dictionary is a competently executed reference work. It is not the most comprehensive Tolkien-related reference work one can find, but it is one of the most portable. This book may not be of much use to a die-hard Tolkien fan, as they will probably have access to more comprehensive reference works, but someone who is either relatively new to Tolkien, or who has limited space to keep books will probably find this to be a handy companion volume to have around.

David Day     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Monday, January 9, 2017

Musical Monday - Diamonds Are Forever by Shirley Bassey

Yesterday was Shirley Bassey's eightieth birthday. To commemorate this event, here is her performing Diamonds Are Forever, the second of the three James Bond movie theme songs that she sang. This song is, in my opinion, also the best of her three Bond themes, although it is for a kind a mediocre Bond movie.

That said, Diamonds Are Forever is one of the more science fiction oriented of all of the Bond movies, much more so than Goldfinger was, although not quite as much as Moonraker would be. With a plot centered around the development and deployment of an orbital laser intended to be used as a tool of extortion by Blofeld, Diamonds Are Forever is comparable in science fiction content to both The Man with the Golden Gun and You Only Live Twice. Maybe I should sit down and review the Bond series one of these days. It is, after all, loaded with quasi-science fiction stories.

Previous Musical Monday: Man in Black by Johnny Cash
Subsequent Musical Monday: Strange Fruit by Billie Holliday

Shirley Bassey     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Book Blogger Hop January 6th - January 12th: POX 186 Is a Small Galaxy

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Where's your favorite place to read?

On my couch. I read other places all the time, but on my couch is still my favorite.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: 185 Is a Square-Free Integer

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, January 6, 2017

Follow Friday - 287 Is Shorthand for the Intel Math Coprocessor to the 80286

It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and a single Follow Friday Featured Blogger each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the Featured Blogger of the week - Milky Way of Books.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What is your most anticipated book of 2017?

My most anticipated book of 2017 is Kameron Hurley's The Stars Are Legion, the third book in the series that began with The Mirror Empire and continued with Empire Ascendant. The series thus far is grim, dark, transcendent, and brilliant, which is what I have come to expect from Hurley. I am looking forward to getting more of the same in the third book.

That isn't to say I'm not looking forward to several other books in 2017. I'm eagerly anticipating The Stone Sky, the third book in N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series that began with the Hugo-winning novel The Fifth Season. I am also looking forward to Fran Wilde's Horizon, and Carrie Patel's The Song of the Dead, among others. I am also very much looking forward to the second volume of The Long-List Anthology edited by David Steffen.

Follow Friday     Home

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review - Saga, Volume Six by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Short review: Hazel and Klara seek a way out of prison, Alana and Marko seek their daughter, Upsher and Doff seek a story, and The Will seeks vengeance.

Trust in a teacher
Allies of convenience
Unexpected news

Full review: The sixth volume of Saga doesn't exactly pick up where the fifth volume left off, but instead jumps forward some years in time, with Hazel now grown into a school-age child while living with her grandmother in a Landfall prison for captured Wreathean civilians. The story contained in this book is chaotic, in large part due to the scattered and disorganized state the characters find themselves in. At the center of this chaos is Hazel, and this volume makes clear, in a way none of the previous ones really did, that the story of Saga is really Hazel's story.

Hazel has narrated the background from the start of the series apparently recounting the events from some future vantage point. Even when her character was an infant, Hazel provided the commentary on her parents' efforts to evade the forces of both Landfall and Wreath. This pattern continues in this volume, but the time jump from the previous volume to this one reveals just how focused upon Hazel the story truly is: All of the other characters enter into the narrative only when their stories are due to intersect with Hazel's. Alana and Marko have been trying to locate their lost daughter for years, but their story only becomes relevant when their efforts to recover her are imminent. The reporters Upsher and Doff have been working on a myriad of other stories, but they only become relevant when they start pursuing the story about Hazel's parent's again. The Will has been in a coma and revived by powerful magic, but the two individuals who worked hardest to revive him - Gwendolyn and Sophie - don't appear in this volume. What they are doing with their time is not particularly important, because it doesn't impact Hazel. And so on. Unless a character's life is going to intersect with Hazel's, it seems that it isn't important to the story of Saga.

The story in this volume follows four different threads, which shortly collapse into three, and eventually into just two. In one, Alana and Marko continue their joint effort to recover their child, who had been taken from them first by the Robot Dengo, and then later by the Last Revolution. In a second, Klara and Hazel find themselves in a Landfall prison used to house captured Wreathean noncombatants, remaining all the while on guard to prevent their captors from discovering Hazel's heritage. In a third, the journalists Upsher and Doff learn that the Brand has died, releasing them from her spell that prohibited them from pursuing the story of Marko, Alana, and Hazel that they had embarked upon so long ago. Finally, the Will, having been revived in the previous volume from his long medical coma, is out to avenge his dead sister the Brand, and goes off in pursuit of the missing Prince Robot IV, who now calls himself merely Sir Robot.

One notable element of the volume of interest is the fact that children drive almost all of the action in the story. Alana and Marko's story revolves around their quest to recover their missing child, and when they go to recruit the assistance of the former Prince Robot IV, it is the opinion of the errant Robot's son Squire that convinces him to join their efforts. In the women's prison in which Klara and Hazel have been interred, the action is driven by a decision made by Hazel to reveal a deadly secret to her teacher. Even the Will's story line is driven, in some part, by his encounter with Squire. Time and again, the plot is pushed forward by decisions made either by or related to the children in the story.

One minor weakness of this volume of Saga is that the sprawling nature of the ongoing story seems to be catching up with it. Even with two regular characters completely absent from the book, the story jumps back and forth at an almost frenetic pace, hopping from one plot thread to another, with some characters like Izabel getting only the most fleeting of cameos in this volume. Even so, the book introduces two new characters into the mix - Noreen, Hazel's school teacher in the women's internment facility, and Petrichor, a fellow prisoner who has her own secret that is potentially as hazardous as Hazel's secret is. In previous volumes, the growth of the cast of characters was generally solved by the high fatality rate which resulted in a rough balance between new characters arriving in the story and old characters exiting feet first.

On a side note, at one point in the volume Petrichor brings up how many of the Landfallians she had killed. This is the second time in the Saga series that a Landfallian has boasted of their combat prowess using the opposing body count as a measure of success. This seems eerily reminiscent of the Vietnam War era practice adopted by the United States of measuring "success" in the conflict by the number of enemy casualties. I suspect that this is intentional, as there doesn't seem to be any kind of strategic measure that could apply to the galaxy-spanning war at the heart of Saga, especially since the two primary antagonists - Wreath and Landfall - are effectively off-limits in the conflict. This, along with other Vietnam-influenced imagery, such as a scene in a previous volume where an entire skyscraper was leveled by orbital bombardment in order to suppress a single sniper, seems directed at impressing upon the reader the utter pointlessness of the war, and impress upon them the horrific uselessness the ongoing waste of lives represents.

All told, volume six of Saga is an excellent addition to the series. At this point in the story, the background is sufficiently well-established that Vaughn and Staples can get right to advancing the plot without the need for much expository background. As a result, this installment in the series is meaty, with lots of action moving the plot forward substantially all the way from the opening classroom in prison scene through to the final surprising revelation on the last page. In the end, this is yet another strong entry in the Saga story, building upon the material in previous volumes and leaving the reader looking forward to the next.

Previous book in the series: Saga, Volume Five

Potential 2017 Hugo Nominees

Brian K. Vaughan     Fiona Staples     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Monday, January 2, 2017

Musical Monday - Man in Black by Johnny Cash

Cash wrote Man in Black in 1971. It was written as a protest against racism, the shabby treatment of the poor, the neglect of prisoners, and the condemnation of drug addicts. Cash was also protesting what he considered the unjust war in Vietnam and what he considered to be the needless cost in resources and lives that were being spent to continue it. In the song, Cash says that he wears black so that he can stand in front of the oppressed and downtrodden and use his position of relative power to do what he can to intervene on their behalf. To a certain extent, I think the popular conception of Johnny Cash has forgotten his zealous passion for the cause of social justice, and I think that this lapse of memory does him a disservice.

I suspect that Cash would be disappointed to learn that forty-five years after he wrote Man in Black, the United States elected a President and a Congress that are the antithesis of everything he stood for. He would be shocked to learn that the President-elect ran on explicitly racist and xenophobic campaign promises. He would be disappointed to learn that the current crop of Republicans holding Congress have a legislative agenda that is geared towards eliminating the protections for those who are less well off, and are dead set on screwing over veterans while they are at it. Cash would be appalled by the rise of private prisons and the needlessly harsh prison sentences imposed upon people with chemical dependency. He would say, quite clearly, that despite forty-five years of effort, we still need a man in black.

I agree with Cash. This is a time when it falls upon those who are not directly in the line of fire of the upcoming administration to step forward and do their part to protect those upon whom Trump and his cronies would inflict harm. In this new year, it is not enough to rely upon some new Cash to step up, all of us who are able must all step up and take on the coming storm, because there are others who won't be able to survive it without help.

Previous Musical Monday: History Repeating by Shirley Bassey and Propellerheads
Subsequent Musical Monday: Diamonds Are Forever by Shirley Bassey

Johnny Cash     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Challenges


I'm tracking the reading blog-based challenges I'm participating in on this page. For 2017, I'm participating in the 10th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2017, the 2017 Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy Challenge, the 2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge, the 2017 Review Writing Challenge, the Banned/Challenged Books Reading Challenge 2017, the Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge, and the You Read How Many Books? 2017 Reading Challenge. I am also participating in two multi-year challenges: The 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge, and the Read All the Books Challenge. The links below will take you to the tracking pages for each challenge.

2017 Challenge Tracking Pages
10th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2017
2017 Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy Challenge
2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2017 Review Writing Challenge
Banned/Challenged Books Reading Challenge 2017
Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge
You Read How Many Books? 2017 Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2017


Challenge - The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2017

Once again, I am participating in multiple reading challenges this year. They all appear to be good challenges, but while I can use them to provide an annual catalog of the books I read and reviewed in the year, they are not quite comprehensive enough for my needs. In addition to reviewing books I also review magazine issues, movies, and television episodes, and in order to capture all of these reviews as well as my book reviews I've created this tracking page, which I will use to provide links to my reviews as I post them. This isn't really a "challenge", but I'm listing it with my challenge pages anyway, just because I did this way in each of the last two years, and it is now an established tradition.

The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2017:

2017 Challenge Tracking Pages
10th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2017
2017 Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy Challenge
2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2017 Review Writing Challenge
Banned/Challenged Books Reading Challenge 2017
Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge
You Read How Many Books? 2017 Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

2017 Challenges     Home

Challenge - 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge

The 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge has a slightly different format from the other challenges I have taken up. The first difference is that it is actually a ten year long reading challenge, not a one year challenge. The second is that the challenge is to read a selection of works of fantasy fiction drawn from (or related to) a specific list of titles. The basic goal is to read 101 titles from the list, but the ambitious version is to read all 813 books from the list. I'm aiming for the ambitious version.

There are a couple of caveats about the list. First, the creator of the challenge has issued a dispensation that allows for about a quarter of the books read to be books that are not from this list (in the guidelines, she says 26 out of 101 books can be drawn from elsewhere). Second, books that have been published since the original list was promulgated, but are sequels to one of the books on the list also "count" for the purposes of the challenge. Going through the list, I note that it is actually longer than 813 books, as some of the entries are actually multiple books. For example, Stephen R. Donaldson is listed with The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever as one book, and in the original tally Edgar Rice Burroughs is listed with John Carter as a single entry. In both cases, the reference is to a multi-book series, and when I get to rereading and reviewing them, I will expand those entries that fit this pattern to list each individual book.

Below, I have listed all 813 books from the challenge, listed alphabetically by author. I have already read and reviewed a few of them, so those are already filled in. As I read more, I will put links to the reviews on this page. Books that are sequels, and did not appear on the original list will be listed with red text. When I started this challenge, I had already read and reviewed several of the books on the list. I am keeping my ongoing tally separate from those books, although I have listed them here anyway to be complete. I will also note that I have read but not yet reviewed many more of the books on this list. I will be rereading them and reviewing them in the future.

Books Reviewed Prior to the Challenge: 30.
Books Reviewed for the Challenge: 0

Deadline for the Challenge: January 1, 2026.

101 Fantasy Reading Challenge:
The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander
The High King by Lloyd Alexander
Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Arabian Nights by Anonymous
Beowulf by Anonymous
On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony
A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony
For Love of Evil by Piers Anthony
With a Tangled Skein by Piers Anthony
Being a Green Mother by Piers Anthony
Wielding a Red Sword by Piers Anthony
The Source of Magic by Piers Anthony
Bearing an Hourglass by Piers Anthony
And Eternity by Piers Anthony
Under a Velvet Cloak by Piers Anthony
Bitten by Kelly Armstrong
The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong
Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Darkness That Comes Before by Scott R. Bakker
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak
Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle
Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop
Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop
The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop
The Invisible Ring by Anne Bishop
Tangled Webs by Anne Bishop
Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books by Francesca Lia Block
Necklace of Kisses by Francesca Lia Block
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
A Great & Terribly Beauty by Libba Bray
A Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
The Painted Man/The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
Infinity’s Shore by David Brin
Brightness Reef by David Brin
Heaven’s Reach by David Brin
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Magic Kingdom for Sale – Sold by Terry Brooks
The Talismans of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Scions of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Druid of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Elf of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Wizard at Large by Terry Brooks
The Black Unicorn by Terry Brooks
The Tangle Box by Terry Brooks
Witches’ Brew by Terry Brooks
A Princess of Landover by Terry Brooks
Jhereg by Steven Brust
Phoenix by Steven Brust
Taltos by Steven Brust
Yendi by Steven Brust
Orca by Steven Brust
Dragon by Steven Brust
Teckla by Steven Brust
Agyar by Steven Brust
To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust
The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley
Tales from the Hood by Michael Buckley
Magic and Other Misdemeanors by Michael Buckley
The Problem Child by Michael Buckley
The Everafter War by Michael Buckley
Once Upon a Crime by Michael Buckley
The Unusual Suspects by Michael Buckley
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
The Beasts of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Carson of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Escape on Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Lost on Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Pirates of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Wizard of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
Skin Game by Jim Butcher
Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Carpe Corpus by Rachel Caine
Feast of Fools
by Rachel Caine
The Dead Girls Dance by Rachel Caine
Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine
Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Scion by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Justice by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey
Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey
Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
Ashling by Isobelle Carmody
Darkfall by Isobelle Carmody
Darksong by Isobelle Carmody
The Farseekers by Isobelle Carmody
The Keeping Place by Isobelle Carmody
The Stone Key by Isobelle Carmody
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alice through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Siren by Kiera Cass
Untamed by P.C. Cast
Ghosthunter by Jayne Castle
Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack Chalker
Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins
Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
Gregor and the Mark of Secrets by Suzanne Collins
Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
The Tower of Fear by Glen Cook
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
Greenwitch by Susan Cooper
The Grey King by Susan Cooper
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper
The Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Lady of the Sorrows by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
The Battle of Evernight by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
The Secret Country by Pamela Dean
The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean
The Hidden Land by Pamela Dean
Whim of the Dragon by Pamela Dean
Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz
Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz
The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz
Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint
Widdershins by Charles de Lint
The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint
Memory by Charles de Lint
Unquiet Dreams by Mark del Franco
Unshapely Things by Mark del Franco
Unfallen Dead by Mark del Franco
Skin Deep by Mark del Franco
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane by Kat Dicammillo
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Chronicles of Thomas Convenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
A Man Rides Through by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Mirror of Her Dreams by Stephen R. Donaldson
Mordant’s Need by Stephen R. Donaldson
Enchanter by Sara Douglass
Battle Axe by Sara Douglass
Starman by Sara Douglass
Crusader by Sara Douglass
Sinner by Sara Douglass
Pilgrim by Sara Douglass
Night Walker by Jocelyn Drake
The Reluctant Swordsman by Dave Duncan
The Destiny of the Sword by Dave Duncan
The Coming of Wisdom by Dave Duncan
Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
Polgara the Sorceress by David Eddings
Belgarath the Sorcerer by David Eddings
Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings
Enchanter’s End Game by David Eddings
Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings
The Seeress of Kell by David Eddings
The Redemption of Althalus by David Eddings
Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings
Guardians of the West by David Eddings
King of the Murgos by David Eddings
The Diamond Throne by David Eddings
Demon Lord of Karanda by David Eddings
The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings
Sorceress of Darshiva by David Eddings
The Ruby Knight by David Eddings
The Hidden City by David Eddings
The Shining Ones by David Eddings
The Domes of Fire by David Eddings
The Worm Ouroboros by Eric Rucker Eddison
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans
Bloody Good by George Evans
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
Night Game by Christine Feehan
Mind Game by Christine Feehan
Murder Game by Christine Feehan
Shadow Game by Christine Feehan
Deadly Game by Christine Feehan
Conspiracy Game by Christine Feehan
Magic in the Wind by Christine Feehan
Predatory Game by Christine Feehan
Oceans of Fire by Christine Feehan
Safe Harbor by Christine Feehan
Turbulent Sea by Christine Feehan
Dangerous Tides by Christine Feehan
The Twilight Before Christmas by Christine Feehan
Magician by Raymond E. Feist
Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist
A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist
The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford
The Final Reflection by John M. Ford
Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
When Night Falls by C.S. Friedman
The Madness Season by C.S. Friedman
Crown of Shadows by C.S. Friedman
The Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman
One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost
Aurian by Maggie Furey
Sword of Flame by Maggie Furey
Dhiammara by Maggie Furey
Harp of Winds by Maggie Furey
Cross Stitch (Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn
Changeling by Yasmine Galenorn
Darkling by Yasmine Galenorn
Night Huntress by Yasmine Galenorn
Demon Mistress by Yasmine Galenorn
Dragon Wytch by Yasmine Galenorn
The Princess Bride by William Goodman
Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind
Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
Confessor by Terry Goodkind
Blood of the Fold by Terry Goodkind
Temple of the Winds by Terry Goodkind
Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind
Phantom by Terry Goodkind
Chainfire by Terry Goodkind
The Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind
Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
Evernight by Claudia Gray
Nightside: Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green
Hawk and Fisher – Haven Of Lost Souls by Simon R. Green
Broken Citadel by Joyce Ballou Gregorian
Castledown! by Joyce Ballou Gregorian
The Great Wheel by Joyce Ballou Gregorian
Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory
Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Lunatic Café by Laurell K. Hamilton
Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton
Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton
Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton
Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton
Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton
Danse Macabre by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton
Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton
Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton
Incubus Dreams by Laurell K. Hamilton
Micah by Laurell K. Hamilton
Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton
Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge
Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison
Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison
The Good the Bad and the Undead by Kim Harrison
For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison
Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison
White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison
The Traveller by John Twelve Hawker
Rhapsody: Child of Blood by Elizabeth Haydon
Prophecy: Child of Earth by Elizabeth Haydon
Destiny: Child of the Sky by Elizabeth Haydon
Requiem for the Sun by Elizabeth Haydon
Elegy for a Lost Star by Elizabeth Haydon
The Assassin King by Elizabeth Haydon
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber
Lost Horizon by James Hilton
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb
The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb
Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb
Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb
Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb
The Thread that Binds the Bones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
The Proteus Operation by James Hogan
The Odyssey by Homer
Duncton Wood by William Horwood
Journeys to the Heartland by William Horwood
Duncton Tales by William Horwood
Duncton Found by William Horwood
Duncton Quest by William Horwood
Duncton Stone by William Horwood
Duncton Rising by William Horwood
Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard
Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard
The Song of Red Sonja by Robert E. Howard
Skulls in the Stars by Robert E. Howard
Rogues in the House by Robert E. Howard
The Hills of the Dead by Robert E. Howard
Shadow in the Tomb by Robert E. Howard
The Moon of Skulls by Robert E. Howard
Kull the Destroyer by Robert E. Howard
The Hand of Kane by Robert E. Howard
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard
Kull: Exile to Atlantis by Robert E. Howard
Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard
Riders of the River-Dragons by Robert E. Howard
Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff
The Three Worlds Cycle by Ian Irvine
Redwall by Brian Jacques
Mossflower by Brian Jacques
Mattimeo by Brian Jacques
The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones
Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones
The Many Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones
House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
The Magician’s of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones
Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones
The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan
A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan
Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan
Dark Embrace by Brenda Joyce
Dark Seduction by Brenda Joyce
Dark Victory by Brenda Joyce
Dark Rival by Brenda Joyce
Dark Lover by Brenda Joyce
Personal Demon by Stacia Kane
Demon Inside by Stacia Kane
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Wandering Fire by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Darkest Road by Guy Gavriel Kay
Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay
Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay
Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Night Embrace by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Dream Warrior by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Unleash the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Dance with the Devil X by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Devil May Cry by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Kiss of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Dream Chaser by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Bad Moon Rising by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Sins of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
One Silent Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Dream Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Upon the Midnight Clear by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Dragonswan by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Daggerspell by Katherine Kerr
Darkspell by Katherine Kerr
Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood by Katherine Kerr
A Time of Exile by Katherine Kerr
Dragonspell: The Southern Sea by Katherine Kerr
A Time of War by Katherine Kerr
A Time of Justice by Katherine Kerr
A Time of Omens by Katherine Kerr
The Briar King by Greg Keyes
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
The Dark Tower by Stephen King
The Wastelands by Stephen King
Wizards and Glass by Stephen King
The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
Song of Susannah by Stephen King
Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King
Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge
Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klaus
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Camber of Culdi by Katherine Kurtz
The Bishop’s Heir by Katherine Kurtz
High Deryni by Katherine Kurtz
Saint Camber by Katherine Kurtz
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz
Camber the Heretic by Katherine Kurtz
The Quest for Saint Camber by Katherine Kurtz
Deryni Checkmate by Katherine Kurtz
The King’s Justice by Katherine Kurtz
Magic’s Price by Mercedes Lackey
Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey
Magic’s Promise by Mercedes Lackey
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Other Wind by Ursula K. Le Guin
Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin
Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin
Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Swords of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber
Coyote’s Mate by Lora Leigh
Dawn’s Awakening by Lora Leigh
Bengal’s Heart by Lora Leigh
Mercury’s War by Lora Leigh
Elizabeth’s Wolf by Lora Leigh
Megan’s Mark by Lora Leigh
Jacob’s Faith by Lora Leigh
Harmony’s Way by Lora Leigh
Tanner’s Scheme by Lora Leigh
Tempting the Beast by Lora Leigh
Soul Deep by Lora Leigh
Aiden’s Charity by Lora Leigh
Kiss of Heat by Lora Leigh
The Man Within by Lora Leigh
Choices Meant for Gods by Sandy Lender
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Iron Hunt by Marjorie Liu
Wondrous Strange by Leslie Livingston
Cthulhu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Phantastes and Lilith by George MacDonald
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
Lilith by George MacDonald
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier
Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
Heir to the Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier
Blade of Fortriu by Juliet Marillier
The Well of Shadows by Juliet Marillier
The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
Love of My Heart by Bess McBride
A Train Through Time by Bess McBride
Caribbean Dreams of Love by Bess McBride
The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey
Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey
The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonseye by Anne McCaffrey
Acorna: The Unicorn Girl by Anne McCaffrey
Acorna’s World by Anne McCaffrey
Acorn’s Rebels by Anne McCaffrey
Acorna’s Triumph by Anne McCaffrey
Acorna’s Quest by Anne McCaffrey
Acorna’s Search by Anne McCaffrey
Acorna’s People by Anne McCaffrey
Acorna’s Children by Anne McCaffrey
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip
The Harpist in the Wind by Patricia A. McKillip
Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip
Heir of Sea and Fire by Patricia A. McKillip
The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Hero & the Crown by Robin McKinley
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
The Sweet Smell of Blood by Suzanne McLeod
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
Frostbite by Richelle Mead
Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead
Storm Born by Richelle Mead
Succubus Dream by Richelle Mead
Succubus Heat by Richelle Mead
Succubus on Top by Richelle Mead
Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead
The Queen’s Squadron by R.M. Meluch
Sovereign by R.M. Meluch
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
The Scar by China Míeville
The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller
Empress of Mijak by Karen Miller
Hammer of God by Karen Miller
The Good Faeries of New York by Martin Millar
The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Magic Engineer by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Fall of Angels by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Scion of Cyador by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The White Order by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Order War by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Ordermaster by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Magi’I of Cyador by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Natural Ordermage by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Mage-Guard of Hamor by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Colors of Chaos by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Chaos Balance by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Wellspring of Chaos by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Towers of Sunset by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Death of Chaos by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Melusine by Sarah Monette
The Virtu by Sarah Monette
Corambis by Sarah Monette
The Mirador by Sarah Monette
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning
Faefever by Karen Marie Moning
The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Spell of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Kiss of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
The Highlander’s Touch by Karen Marie Moning
Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
To Tame a Highland Warrior by Karen Marie Moning
Stormbringer by Michael Moorcock
The Weird of the White Wolf by Michael Moorcock
The Sailor of the Seas of Fate by Michael Moorcock
The Jewel in the Skull by Michael Moorcock
The Sword of the Dawn by Michael Moorcock
The Runestaff by Michael Moorcock
The Mad God’s Amulet by Michael Moorcock
The King of the Swords by Michael Moorcock
The Queens of the Swords by Michael Moorcock
The Knight of the Swords by Michael Moorcock
Vanishing Tower by Michael Moorcock
Resenting the Hero by Moira J. Moore
The Hero Strikes Back by Moira J. Moore
Heroes Adrift by Moira J. Moore
The Well at World’s End by William Morris
The Glittering Plain by William Morris
Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert
A Wild Sheep Chase by Hakuri Murakami
Kafka on the Shore by Hakuri Murakami
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Hakuri Murakami
Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
Coyote Dreams by C.E. Murphy
Thunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy
Walking Dead by C.E. Murphy
Winter Moon by C.E. Murphy
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Lirael by Garth Nix
Superior Saturday by Garth Nix
Mister Monday by Garth Nix
Lady Friday by Garth Nix
Grim Tuesday by Garth Nix
Sir Thursday by Garth Nix
Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix
Evermore by Alyson Noel
Blue Moon by Alyson Noel
Sea of Wind by Fuyumi Ono
The Vast Spread of the Seas by Fuyumi Ono
Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono
Suicide Collectors by David Oppegaard
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Eldest by Christopher Paolini
DragonFire: A Novel by Donita K. Paul
DragonLight: A Novel by Donita K. Paul
DragonKnight: A Novel by Donita K. Paul
DragonQuest: A Novel by Donita K. Paul
DragonSpell: A Novel by Donita K. Paul
Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
Soul Eater by Michelle Paver
Spirit Walker by Michelle Paver
Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver
Oath Breaker by Michelle Paver
Outcast by Michelle Paver
Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
The Touch of Twilight by Vicki Pettersson
City of Souls by Vicki Pettersson
Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce
Wings by Aprilynne Pike
Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
The Truth by Terry Pratchett
Nation by Terry Pratchett
The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett
Northern Lights (The Golden Compass) by Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Stronghold by Melanie Rawn
The Dragon Token by Melanie Rawn
Skybowl by Melanie Rawn
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice
Blood and Gold by Anne Rice
The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice
Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice
Blood Canticle by Anne Rice
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara
Cast in Courtlight by Michelle Sagara
Cast in Secret by Michelle Sagara
Cast in Fury by Michelle Sagara
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Hero of the Ages by Brandon Sanderson
The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
The Gathering Storm by Brandon Sanderson
Shifting Winds by Brandon Sanderson
Tamon Gai’don by Brandon Sanderson
The Alchemist by Michael Scott
The Magician by Michael Scott
The Sorceress by Michael Scott
My Sword Hand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick
Witch Hill by Marcus Sedgwick
The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick
Peony in Love by Lisa See
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin
Armed & Magical by Lisa Shearin
The Trouble with Demons by Lisa Shearin
Immortal by Gillian Shields
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Endymion by Dan Simmons
The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons
The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye
Lara: Book One of the Word of Heta by Beatrice Small
The Twilight Lord by Beatrice Small
Sorceress Belmair by Beatrice Small
A Distant Tomorrow by Beatrice Small
The Forbidden Game: The Chase by L.J. Smith
The Forbidden Game: The Hunt by L.J. Smith
The Forbidden Game: The Kill by L.J. Smith
Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready
Voice of Crow by Jeri Smith-Ready
Eyes of Crow by Jeri Smith-Ready
Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready
The Reawakened by Jeri Smith-Ready
Poison Study by Maria Snyder
Fire Study by Maria Snyder
Magic Study by Maria Snyder
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart
The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart
The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart
Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud
The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Return of the Sword by Roger Taylor
The Call of the Sword by Roger Taylor
The Walking of Orthlund by Roger Taylor
The Fall of Fyorlund by Roger Taylor
Into Narsindal by Roger Taylor
The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Stray by Rachel Vincent
Prey by Rachel Vincent
Pride by Rachel Vincent
Rogue by Rachel Vincent
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent
Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
A Warrior Made by Marc vun Kannon
Unbinding the Stone by Marc vun Kannon
Interlude by Shiloh Walker
The Beginning by Shiloh Walker
Heart and Soul by Shiloh Walker
Malachi by Shiloh Walker
Hunter’s Pride by Shiloh Walker
The Huntress by Shiloh Walker
Hunter’s Edge by Shiloh Walker
Rafe & Sheila by Shiloh Walker
Ben and Shadoe by Shiloh Walker
Hunter’s Salvation by Shiloh Walker
Hunter’s Need by Shiloh Walker
Hunting the Hunter by Shiloh Walker
Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward
Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward
The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Touched By the Gods by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks
Shadows Edge by Brent Weeks
The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Dragons of Winter Night by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Dragons of Spring Dawning by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
Sun Sword by Michelle West
Sea of Sorrows by Michelle West
The Uncrowned King by Michelle West
The Riven Shield by Michelle West
The Shining Court by Michelle West
The Broken Crown by Michelle West
The Place of the Lion by Charles Williams
The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams
Storm by Tad Williams
Siege by Tad Williams
By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson
Lady of Light and Shadows by C.L. Wilson
Rumer & Qix: The Race to Terra Incognita by Kathleen S. Wilson
The Wood Wife by Terri Windling
Talking to Dragons by Patricia Wrede
Searching for Dragons by Patricia Wrede
Calling on Dragons by Patricia Wrede
Mairelon the Magician by Patricia Wrede
The Magician’s Ward by Patricia Wrede
Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede
Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede
Dragonsbane by Patricia Wrede
Shadows Over Lyra by Patricia Wrede
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

2017 Challenge Tracking Pages
10th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2017
2017 Award Winning Sci-Fi and Fantasy Challenge
2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2017 Review Writing Challenge
Banned/Challenged Books Reading Challenge 2017
Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge
You Read How Many Books? 2017 Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2017

2017 Challenges     Home