31 January 2010

Short stories 26-30

“Þrándur” by Björnstene Björnsson. From Sögur frá Noregi. A story laden with metaphor about a boy who is a natural on the violin.

“Viðsnúnings hressandi hristingur”, by Þórarinn Eldjárn.

“Women are the scourge of the earth”, by Frances Molloy. From Wildish Things. A chilling account of an abusive relationship. Recommended.

"The case of the Middle-aged Wife" by Agatha Christie. A little piece of problem-solving by Mr. Parker Pyne.

“Eftir spennufallið,” by Þórarinn Eldjárn. From Ó fyrir framan. A nicely imagined and humorous modern retelling of the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall. Recommended if you read Icelandic.

30 January 2010

And the 2010 Bibliophilic Books Challenge


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This one is by Lesley of the A Life in Books blog. The 2010 Bibliophilic Books Challenge is simply to read a given number of bibliobooks during the year 2010. Since I generally read a number of bibliobooks each year anyway, I will be bold and join the Bibliomaniac part of the challenge, which is to read twelve books that have to do with books or reading, in the course of 2010.

As with the Global Reading Challenge (see previous post), I will try to read as many books as possible from my TBR stack and thus combine both these outside challenges with by own TBR challenge.

2010 Global Reading Challenge


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I have joined the 2010 Global Reading Challenge. Dorte of DJs Krimiblog had an idea to expand her reading horizons and has invited other bloggers to join in.

For starters I will be going for the easy challenge, but who knows: I may upgrade to the medium or even the expert challenge.

First thing I will do is look through my TBR books to see if I have books that fulfil the stipulations of the challenge. I know I have books from Europe, North-America, Australasia and Asia, but I may have to look further afield for books from South-America and Africa. However, I would like to read authors that are new to me, so I will probably have to visit the library for a book from Australasia.

25 January 2010

Short stories 21-25

The Signalman”, by Charles Dickens. From The Penguin Book of English Short Stories. A typical Victorian creepy story. Well told but too predictable to give one goosebumps.

“Forbidden Things”, by Marcia Muller. From The Mysterious West. A mystery story about a family tragedy, well written but predictable.

“Harvest“, by Gay Longworth. From Big Night Out. A clever retelling of a well-known urban legend. Recommended.

“Lúlli og leiðarhnoðað”, by Þórarinn Eldjárn. From Ó fyrir framan. A fun little story based on a folk-tale phenomenon: a way-finding ball of string.

Tarnhelm”, by Hugh Walpole. From The Midnight Reader. A very good supernatural tale with just the right amount of creepiness. Recommended.

21 January 2010

Empires of the Indus: The Story of a river by Alice Albinia

Year published: 2008
Genre: Travel, history

In this book, the author begins her journey at the mouth of the Indus river, moving up river and backwards in time and exploring the history, archaeology and geology of this long and immensely important river that flows through three countries: from its source near Mount Kailash in Tibet, through the Indian state of Ladakh and down the length of Pakistan to the sea.

This is a perfect combination of travelogue and history that should be read by any woman who fears travelling alone, as well as anyone who is interested in the history of the region and in adventurous travel off the beaten track. It’s also a must for river fanatics.

It took me a long time to finish, nearly 2 months, but that was because I felt that each chapter needed to be properly digested and considered before I moved on to the next, and not because of anything else. It is well written, and while scholarly, it is neither dry nor boring. Recommended. 5 stars.

There is an official website for this book. Visit it for supplementary materials, such as photographs and audio recordings the author made of people performing traditional songs.

Short stories 16-20

  • “The Veiled Lady” from 13 For Luck by Agatha Christie. Hercule Poirot solves another case. Not one of the good ones.
  • “In and Out”, by Freya North. From Girl’s Night In. A funny little story about not letting a man interfere with women's friendships.
  • “The Genuine Tabard”, by E.C. Bentley. From Trent Intervenes. An interesting story about very bold criminals.
  • “Myndin”, by Þórarinn Eldjárn. From Ó fyrir framan. A funny story about a painting, by Iceland’s greatest short story writer. Recommended.
  • “Five Hundred Carats”, by George Griffith. From More Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. A rather lame story about a highly risky way of committing a crime that didn’t work out completely as envisioned by the criminals.

17 January 2010

Short stories 11-15

  • "Death in the Dawntime", by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre. From The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives. A detective story set among Australian aborigines, about 35.000 years B.C.E. Interesting.
  • "The Return of the Crusader", by Anonymous. From The Penguin Book of French Short Stories. A very short 15th century story about infidelity. Originally an oral tale, the period's equivalent of an urban legend, told to amuse people at court.
  • "Parties Unknown by the Jury: Or, the Valour of my Tongue", by P.M. Carlson. From Women on the Case. A historical crime story, partly based on a real lynching case. Interesting voice and well written.
  • "The Ruff", by Michael and Mollie Hardwick. From 50 Great Horror Stories. A nasty, haughty girl gets a comeuppance. Historical, Poe-esque and pretty good.
  • "Beauty and the Beast". Fairy tale from Best-loved Folktales of the World. This is the longest and most detailed version I have read of this story. Recommended.

16 January 2010

Top mysteries challenge review: The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

I must admit up front that I have a soft spot for Josephine Tey, so you may expect some prejudice in the review ;-)

Year of publication: 1949
Genre: Mystery
Type of mystery: Kidnapping
Type of investigator: Lawyer
Setting & time: England, contemporary

A teenage girl accuses two women of having kidnapped her and held her against her will for a month. The case seems to be solid, but solicitor Robert Blair, retained by the accused to speak for them, is convinced of the innocence of his clients and sets out to prove it.

This is the second Tey novel I read that effectively breaks one of S.S. Van Dine's detective story writing rules, and I admire her for making it so readable, because it is rule no. 7 that is broken: There shall be but one crime, and that crime is murder (my rephrasing).

It is difficult to sustain reader interest in a mystery without a corpse for nearly 300 pages, but Tey not only pulls it off, she does it so well that I could hardly put the book down. It is written with her customary light hand, humorous and full of interesting characters, twists and other unexpected developments, and it is realistic and condemning in its depiction of mob justice and the power of the press to influence public opinion and pass judgement on people before they have ever been brought to trial. As a matter of fact, I think it should be recommended reading for anyone studying the mass media, because of how realistically it depicts the modern version of a media-fuelled witch hunt. 4+ stars.

P.S. The novel is apparently inspired by the real-life case of Elizabeth Canning.

Books left in challenge: 86

Place on the list(s): CWA #11; MWA # 81.

Awards and nominations: None I know of.

14 January 2010

Top mysteries challenge review: The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

(The challenge really should be called the best crime a books challenge, since the American list also features thrillers, but it’s too late to change it now).

I loved thrillers when I was a teenager, and read everything I could get my hands on by the likes of Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley and Ken Follett. Since then, the thrillers I have read have mostly also been mysteries, caper stories or police procedurals, and it wouldn’t be stretching it too far to say that this one is a caper story – albeit a deadly serious one that deals with treason.

Year of publication: 1984
Series and no.: Jack Ryan, #1.
Genre: Thriller, military.
Type of hero: CIA man.
Setting & time: USA, the Soviet Union and the Atlantic ocean, contemporary.

A Soviet submarine captain and his officers steal the Red October, a nuclear submarine, and sail it towards the USA with the intention of defecting and handing the USSR's most advanced nuclear missile submarine to the Americans. CIA analyst Jack Ryan is brought in when the Soviet fleet suddenly starts sailing towards the USA at full speed and from that and some intelligence information he rightly deduces the captain’s intentions and gets sent to sea to monitor the submarine’s progress and help make it possible for the USA to keep the sub and any crew members who want to defect. A cat and mouse (or maybe shark and tuna?) game follows, with the Soviet fleet in hard pursuit of the Red October and the Americans and British keeping a close eye on them.

This is a fine thriller, long but never dull. The technical information that it is necessary to include so that someone with relatively little knowledge of such things can understand what is going on is parcelled out in small doses so that it never gets to be tedious. Most characters are only given a minimum of fleshing-out, but in most cases that is all that is needed, because the story is very much plot driven. I only wish that the exposition passages about some of the key characters, especially Ramius, had been kept short and the information parcelled out in small doses like the technical information. Not a book for the claustrophobic. 4 stars.

Books left in challenge: 87

Place on the list(s): MWA # 84.
Awards and nominations: None I know of.

10 January 2010

The next 5 short stories

  • Mademoiselle Fifi”, by Guy de Maupassant, from Mademoiselle Fifi and other stories. A story about a bad guy getting what's coming to him from an unlikely source. Too melodramatic for my taste.
  • “Problem at Pollensa Bay”, by Agatha Christie, from Problem at Pollensa Bay and other stories. An entertaining little story about young love, starring Mr. Parker Pyne. Okay, but not outstanding.
  • “The Nutcracker”, by Ben Travers. From A Century of Humour. A story about young love and naughty boys. Not particularly funny, but well told and would make a nice humorous short film.
  • “The Jigsaw”, by Leonard R. Gribble. From A Century of Detective Stories. A nice little detective story, a twist on the jigsaw puzzle urban legend.
  • "The Ring of Thoth", by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. From Tales of Unease. A short creepy story from the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Recommended.

08 January 2010

Review of the His Dark Materials trilogy

Originally published in June and July 2004, in 7 parts
Book 23 in my first 52 books challenge.


Entry 1:
Title: The Golden Compass
Alternative (British) title: Northern Lights
Author: Philip Pullman
Year published: 1995
Genre: Fantasy, children’s
Where got: Public library

I've wanted to read this book for a long time, but not enough to buy it (I may change my mind after reading it). Finally found a copy when I went exploring the suburban branches of the Reykjavik city library. I'm looking forward to start reading it.


Entry 2:
Reading progress:
I'm about halfway into The Golden Compass and it's great. A captivating story, and yet not so much that I feel I need to read it all in one sitting. Much better written and plotted than the last two Harry Potters, and although it is supposed to be a story for children/teenagers, it's still enjoyable for adults.

Entry 3:

Finished the book – what a great story. I was completely hooked once I got to part two.

The Story:
Lyra, a young girl, has grown up pretty much wild in Jordan College, Oxford. This Oxford is located in an alternate reality world that is in some ways like our own, and in some ways vastly different. Like people have dæmons, creatures that are like projections of their master’s soul, are inseperable from them and die with them. When “Gobblers” begin to steal children and take Lyra’s friend Roger, she desperately wants to do something about it. When a gang of “gyptians” (like gypsies in our world) decide they want to go and find the children and free them (having lost many of their own to the Gobblers), Lyra goes with them to the Arctic region to help out. After adventures involving Tartars, an armoured bear, witches and scientists, she ends up on another quest that will take her on to even greater adventures, for she has a Destiny she is unaware of.

Technique and plot:
I think I will wait to discuss this until I have read the whole story – two more books: The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.



Rating:
This is quite a good book, wonderful storytelling, both for children and adults, but I will not give it any stars yet. I will rate all three books together as a whole.

Entry 4:

Title:The Subtle Knife
Author: Philip Pullman
Year published: 1997
Genre: Fantasy, children’s
Where got: Public library

Managed to get both parts two and three from the library. Have already finished this one, and I don’t think that once I start I’ll be able to stop reading part three until I’m finished.

The Story:
After tragically losing her best friend and walking from her world into another one that is full of children but no adults, Lyra has found another friend, Will, who comes from our world. He has a destiny of some sort waiting for him just as she has. The golden compass has told Lyra that she must help Will find his father. A man steals the compass and sends Lyra out to find the Subtle Knife, which he says he will exchange the compass for. The two children set out to search for it and find it in the world where they first met. The knife chooses Will as its bearer. It can cut through the fabric of reality and open windows into other world, and this the children put to good use when they realize that the man isn’t going to return the compass. After reacquiring the compass, they set out to find Will’s father, hunted by both friendly and unfriendly forces. It’s a matter of touch and go, which will catch up with them first. Lyra’s destiny is revealed to the readers and to the children’s enemies, but the children are unaware of it, although they know that it is something to do with Lyra’s father and the war he is planning to wage on The Authority (God). Will’s destiny is tied to the knife.

Ends with a cliffhanger…I’m looking forward to see what happens next.


Entry 5:
Title:The Amber Spyglass
Author: Philip Pullman
Year published: 2000
Genre: Fantasy, children’s
Subgenres: Alternate realities, parable
Where got: Public library


SPOILERS ahead. If you don’t want to know how the story ends, DON’T READ ANY FURTHER!

The story:
The conclusion to the trilogy. The story is really much too complex to summarize in a few sentences, but I’ll try anyway.

At the beginning of the story, Lyra is in the power of her mother who has suddenly been filled with a desperate need to keep her safe. This she does by hiding in cave in the Himalayas and keeping Lyra asleep so she can’t run away. It’s up to Will and some unexpected companions to save her. Meanwhile, everything is set for war between the forces of Lord Asriel (Lyra’s father) and those of the Regent – an angel who rules in the name of The Authority. Mary Malone, a scientist Lyra met briefly in Will’s world, has learned that she has a role to play and sets out to find Lyra. Lyra and Will set out to find the world of the dead and end up setting free the spirits of the dead. In the process they lose contact with their dæmons, and it takes a long time for them to find them again, but when they do, they are in a world where Mary Malone is waiting for them, ready to play the part of the snake to Lyra’s Eve and fulfill the witches’s prophesy…

Entry 6:

His Dark Materials trilogy – Review:
S-P-O-I-L-E-R-S
...

..

.

.

..

...


Technique and plot: All three books.
Although published as a trilogy, His Dark Materials is one epic story, a brilliantly written extended religious metaphor, a sort of Pilgrim’s Progress from Innocence to Experience. It starts out innocuously, like a snowflake, with wild-child Lyra going off to the Arctic to rescue her best friend, and ends like an avalanche, with the the death of The Authority (the Church, or perhaps God as the Church sees him/her/it) and the fall of Eve as replayed by Lyra and Will. A lot of work and imagination has obviously gone into this book, and I’m sure it will be seen as Pullman’s greatest work for years and perhaps decades to come.

I loved the first two books, but found the third too long and uneven – the story could have been told in fewer words. It was melodramatic in places, and the continuity suffered because there were so many different viewpoints that were being explored. It never held my attention for more than a few chapters at a time, whereas I read books one and two through with only a few short breaks. The third book definitely didn’t live up to my expectations. All in all, I liked the story, but volume three could have done with some pruning.

Rating:
A sometimes delightful and gripping, sometimes melodramatic and overdone fantasy adventure. 4+ stars.

Entry 7:
His Dark Materials links:

Here’a bunch of links to websites about the His Dark Materials trilogy:
Pullman’s official website
Annotations for all three books (includes excerpts)

06 January 2010

Reading report for December 2009

December was an unusually varied reading month for me.

Mysteries have dominated my reading for the last 10-15 years or so, but this month I only read two of them.

I have always enjoyed the Ripley’s Believe It or Not books, even when I find information in them I know or suspect to be wrong. I keep a couple of them in my bathroom for myself and guests to browse through when things get boring.

Two anthologies of poems and verse made it into my reading in December. Lately I have been reading a lot more poetry than I have done since I was in my teens, and I am becoming reacquainted with my favourite poets and versifiers in my native language and discovering new ones.

I mentioned the diary anthology in my last entry. Spending a year reading it took willpower, especially when the editor put in entries by the same person several days in a row when an interesting mini-story was to be told. I decided that it would be interesting to explore some of the excerpted diaries better. For example, I will definitely take a better look at Samuel Pepys.

I have always enjoyed short stories, and ended up reading two collections, one an anthology and the other by P.G. Wodehouse, an author I have for some reason always appreciated more for his short stories than for his novels. The last book on the list, Taxi might also be called a short story collection. It is a compilation of true stories told to the writer by 32 Icelandic taxi drivers, and the stories range from shocking to tragic to funny.

Then there were Pratchett and Wyndham, both books I have already reviewed, and one gorgeous photography book by one of Iceland’s best press photographers, Ragnar Axelsson. Look up Faces of the North if you want to check out the book.

The books:
Ripley's Believe It or Not (trivia)
Simon Brett (editor):The Faber Book of Diaries (anthology, diaries)
Grímur Thomsen:Ljóðmæli (verse)
Ngaio Marsh:False Scent (mystery)
Terry Pratchett:Unseen Academicals (fantasy)
Ragnar Axelsson:Andlit norðursins (photography)
Satyajit Ray:Incident on the Kalka Mail (mystery)
Various authors:Þrisvar þrjár sögur (short stories)
Various authors:Barnaljóð (verse; theme: children)
P.G. Wodehouse:A Few Quick Ones (short stories, humorous)
John Wyndham:Trouble with Lichen (science fiction, satire)
Ævar Örn Jósepsson (editor):Taxi: 101 saga úr heimi íslenskra leigubílstjóra (true stories)

05 January 2010

A look at the first 5 short stories

I know I said I wasn’t going to review them, but I couldn’t resist writing something about them, if only to say which ones I would recommend.

  • "The Two Brothers" by unknown (Ancient Egypt, written down about 1400 B.C.), from Great Short Stories of the World. Did you think the short story was a recent phenomenon? Well, apparently, it’s not. This narrative has all the crucial elements of a short story, while also being a mythological text that tells a story of human destiny and heavenly justice. In fact, parts of the story remind me of the Biblical story of Potiphar's wife, and they probably have a common root. For me, it is mostly interesting because I am interested in Egyptian mythology – I wouldn’t recommend it as pleasure reading. I have a gripe with the translation - not that I read Ancient Egyptian, but the 19th century translator not only used 17th century Biblical language, but also appears to have attempted to use some of the original writing style, resulting in strange sentences, some of which even a native speaker of English would stumble over in casual reading. Henry James would have been proud.
  • "Rumpole and the Man of God" by John Mortimer, from The Trials of Rumpole. I somehow managed to miss most of the Rumpole series when it was shown on TV, but I saw enough episodes to develop a fondness for the old guy and made an effort to get my hands on the books, of which I have three. I quickly discovered that Mortimer was a master of dry English humour and good at thinking up plausible comic situations and sketching, in a few sentences, characters that seem to jump off the page fully formed. In this one Rumpole has to do some convoluted thinking to get an otherworldly clergyman out of trouble. Recommended.
  • "Parris Green" by Carole Nelson Douglas. Malice Domestic is a series of books of themed short crime stories that revolve around the home and family in some way. I have already read several of the stories and picked up the book after a long break to continue where I left off. The story features Irene Adler – the same one who outwitted Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia" – as the sleuth, and the story is told by Miss Huxleigh, who appears to be her Watson. It is a darkly gothic tale of an obsessed artist, and features Oscar Wilde as a side character. It intrigued me enough to make me want to check out the Irene Adler novels, so it gets the "recommended" stamp.
  • "The Last Crop" by Elizabeth Jolley, from Wayward Girls and Wicked Women. Another "recommend", this time for the wicked sense of humour in the story. A teenage girl tells the story of how her mother was able to have her cake and eat it too. I want to try to get my hands on the original collection it came from, Jolley's Woman in a Lampshade.
  • "Dead man‘s Mirror" by Agatha Christie. From Masterpieces of Mystery. This is a Hercule Poirot story, and I must confess that I have never particularly liked him as a character, although it hasn‘t stopped me from reading most of the Poirot novels. The story was okay, but nothing I would recommend to non-fans.

04 January 2010

First review of the year: Dr. Nightingale Comes Home by Lydia Adamson

Genre: Mystery, cosy
Year of publication: 1994
No. in series: 1
Series detective: Dr. Deirdre “Didi” Quinn Nightingale, veterinarian
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: Rural New York state, contemporary

A good friend of Didi’s is found dead, apparently mauled to death by wild dogs. His mistress claims he was murdered, but disappears before Didi can persuade her to reveal why she thinks so. By examining the crime scene photos and coroner’s report through the perspective of a vet, Didi realises that he must have been murdered, but has a hard time convincing the police that she is right, so she ends up investigating the case on her own.

This is a pretty solid cosy murder mystery with a nicely thought out plot with some unexpected twists and red herrings. The writing is plain and straightforward and gets the story across without going into flourishes of language, and the main characters are interesting. A promising start to a series – I will definitely be on the lookout for more Dr. Nightingale books.

03 January 2010

The 365 short stories challenge

As I mentioned in my New Year’s Day message (see previous post), I am starting a personal challenge to read one short story per day for the duration of the year 2010.
This challenge arose out of two things:
  1. While surfing the net for literary blogs some time last year I came across a blog dedicated to a short story reading challenge and thought "this could be something for me!"
  2. I was looking at my bookshelves recently and realised I have several big, thick short story anthologies that I have never even opened, and several more I have read a few stories from but no more.
Most of the books are themed and only a few contain stories by a single author. Since most are anthologies, and anthologies tend to be long and not really meant to be read straight through like single author short story collections sometimes are, I decided to have several books on the go so I could choose the theme that appeals to me most at any given time. I also decided to include fairy tales in the mix, to increase the number of choices.

Once I have read them I will list the stories in the sidebar, below a list of the books (below the blog archive links). I have put in abbreviations of the book titles in front of the titles in the list and will indicate which book a story comes from in the story list by those abbreviations. For example, Great Short Stories of the World will be shortened to GSSW, and The Trials of Rumpole will be shortened to TR, and so on. I am listing year published and publisher for those interested in finding these books. I have no plans right now to review any of the stories, but I will mention any that I especially like and if I come across a particularly good one I may review it.

Not listed are a number of Icelandic literary magazines that publish short stories.

In addition to those books I have listed, I seem to have misplaced one big fairy tale collection, one book by Alice Munro and one by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe (most of which I have read anyway), and a collection of Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories. There may be more, but I didn’t find them on my trawl through my bookshelves. I will add them and their abbreviations as I find them.

All of the books qualify for the TBR challenge and I will finish at least the short ones in the course of the year. The short stories I read for the challenge will always be new to me, although I expect I will take the opportunity to re-read some of my favourites as well.

01 January 2010

New year, mostly the same old challenges

Happy New Reading Year!

May your year be filled with good friendship, good cheer and good reading!

I ended the year 2009 with four reading challenges on the go: the Top Mysteries challenge, the TBR challenge, the challenge to read more Icelandic books, and a fourth challenge I'm not sure I have ever mentioned here.

The Top Mysteries challenge is an ongoing project that is probably going to take me until 2012 to finish, so it will continue this year. I started with 120 books (counting one trilogy as a single book) and ended with 89, meaning I finished 26% of the listed books. This puts me right on plan, as I had hoped to reach that percentage by the end of the year.

The TBR challenge will continue as well. To recap the rules: it is a challenge to read more books than I buy, choosing books that have languished in my TBR stack for over a year.
I failed in that aim in 2009, ending up with more TBR books than ever, mostly due to BookMooch. But I am not giving up, and this year it looks like I may be able to succeed, simply because postal rates have gone up and my salary has gone down and I have stopped offering books for mooching which means that sooner or later I will run out of mooch-points with which to acquire books. Because of said salary decrease (due to a new job, and not to pay cuts) I will also have less money to spend on books, which will help me with the challenge as well.
The challenge will go on, but in modified form. Since August I have been using the arrangement of choosing 5 books that fit the rules from the TBR stack as set reading for each month, to be finished before any non-challenge books can be read and then adding more TBR books I might read to the tally as I go along, but I am changing this for the more flexible arrangement of simply choosing TBR books from the stack when I feel like reading them, trying to read at least 5 of them each month.

The read more Icelandic books challenge went pretty well until the end of September, when the sudden loss of my job derailed me from my reading plan. During October I read only what I felt like reading at any time, and since I have read most of my Icelandic books and I never went to the library, this only included one Icelandic book. In November I was in India and didn't read any. In December I was back on track, but no more than that. The final tally is 41, which is 36 more than in 2008. This is enough to make me happy even if I didn't complete the challenge, which was to finish 52 Icelandic books in 2009. I am not going to make reading Icelandic books a challenge for 2010, but I will make it my goal to read more of them than I have in recent years.

And the fourth challenge? Well, I finished it, but not without a little cheating. In 2008 I acquired a copy of The Faber Book of Diaries, an anthology of diary entries by different diary writers that spans several centuries. It happens to be arranged in the day-by-day manner of a diary, with 1-2 pages devoted to a day in the lives of anything from one to five writers. I decided to read it in the course of a year, reading each day's entries on the day of the year they describe. This I did, although I didn't take it with me on a few trips I made, and had to read several (and in one case many) day's entries to catch up (thus the cheating). I will be replacing it with the only new year-long challenge I am setting myself: To read one short story or fairy tale per day, for one year. I have a number of TBR short story collections (4 of them big, thick books) and three collections of fairy tales I would like to make headway with, so there is plenty of choice. If I really like the story of the day I will make a mention of it on this blog for others who like to read short stories, but I will (probably) not review any of them.

I will continues to participate in interesting short term and mini-challenges I might think of or come across. Here is one that I am thinking about joining.