Monday 28 January 2013

The Hobbit movie - thoughts

  I finally got to see The Hobbit  this weekend.  I went with a good friend from work, and my daughter Holly-Anne.  We got there on time for popcorn, except the theatre opens way too early in the morning - morning movies!  10:30 am!!  so there was already a huge lineup for popcorn ahead of us. At least our viewing of The Hobbit was at 11 a.m, which is semi-decent.  So, we missed the very beginning of the movie, which included the trailer for the new Star Trek movie (boo!  I am so looking forward to this!!!) , as well as the opening part of The Hobbit.  We arrived just as the dwarf kingdom was being destroyed by Smaug.  So I got to see the best of the very beginning part.  And from that moment on, I was hooked.  I managed to spill my popcorn right away - yes, after standing in line for almost 10 minutes and missing the beginning of the movie, for popcorn, I then spilled it all!  I thought I would sneak out to get some more.  But you know something?  I never wanted to leave the movie, I was afraid I would miss something.  That's how good it is. And my friend shared some of her popcorn with me, which was very kind.

I really enjoyed The Hobbit.  I was afraid going in that it would be muddled in some way with all the extra information added.  I should have known better.  It was coherent, and made sense, so that even my daughter who doesn't know the story yet, was able to follow it perfectly.  She has seen Lord of the Rings a few times now, so was delighted that Frodo and old Bilbo were there in the beginning, as well as Gandalf.  And she was so disappointed at the end when all we saw of Smaug was - well, that awesome suggestion of what he will be, when he is finally revealed.  Already we are counting down the days to when Part Two will be showing next December!!


Except for Rivendell, which I found a  little slow, the pacing was excellent.  The almost 3 hours flew by.  It didn't seem that long at all. I liked the inclusion of Radergast  the Brown, and am very glad that Mirkwood is not here yet.  *shiver*  The scenes with Gollum were just right.  The ring coming to Bilbo, and how he escapes - so well done. 
I really enjoyed all the dwarves, and thought Richard Armitage made a convincing Thorin
 Oakenshield, and I hereby confess to a crush on Kili.

Most of all though, are Gandalf  - Ian McKellen who makes this film real, as he did in Lord of the Rings, and Martin Freeman who plays Bilbo perfectly, from the bumbling, middle-aged,  contended and bored-though-he-doesn't-know-it hobbit, to the hobbit who finds the reason why he is accompanying the dwarves on the quest, by the end of the movie. 

It's an adventure ride, it has thrills and chills, it has a lovely song sung by the dwarves, and it made me remember the excitement of going on an adventure. Plus, it has a dragon.  Didn't you like, if you saw the movie, how Smaug is all covered in his gold? 

So what did you think, if you saw the movie?  Did you like it? 

You know, I really have to see the very beginning.  I can't wait for it to come out on dvd next Christmas.  I'm just going to have to go and see it again, don't you think?

Wednesday 23 January 2013

What kind of garden are you?

You Are an English Garden

You are creative and vibrant. You are inspired by everything around you, and you don't have any one style.

You like a mix of old and new. And you always have something unique to add to the equation as well.

You are informal, open-minded, and flexible. You love to play around with art and design.

You tend to change things up a lot. Whether it's your own clothes or your home, you can't stay with one look for long!

I'm delighted, I love English gardens!  I saw it on Kittling Books, so I have to give Cathy credit for her post.  Anything with a garden is cheering me up this week.  It is so very cold outside, -24c as I write this tonight.  No, -25c now.  Going down to -32c when I step outside to put the kids on the bus tomorrow morning and head for work.  Brrr.  I'm supposed to be a hardy Canadian, but really, I'm waiting for spring to start!  Gardens,, plants, anything green - are a real balm to my soul in our long winters. 

Sunday 20 January 2013

conversations with my various book selves

       Well, that didn't go well.  Or, it went really well.  It depends if you talk to my budget-conscious side, or my bookaholic side.  Budget side said, let's not buy books until April 1, along doing with C.B James' Double Dog Dare Challenge that says read only my own books until the same date, that I am trying for the first time this year.  Bookaholic me went into Chapters with  a gift certificate received at Christmas, and what did I seriously think the outcome of that was going to be?***Edited to add:  This is how it really happened:  I went into Chapters without the gift card , just to have a tea and browse.  I saw the book.  I left the store because I really didn't plan on  spending any money on books until April.  I kept thinking about the book, and that's when I knew I was going to come back with the gift card.  I went back the next day.  My book self seldom speaks, but when she does, it's like a commandment.*****
I  bought a brand-new book:      

A Year of Writing Dangerously, by Barbara Abercrombie.  Because, Day one opened with "when I'm stuck and scared to death of writing the first line"......and continues with: "Writing holds the possibility that I won't have anything to say, not another word. That perhaps my imagination has dried up and my brain is empty."  That pretty much describes me for the past 6 months, I hadn't been able to write anything but some poetry.  I then realized that I had been resisting one of my characters in the short story I was writing, and that had dammed up all my writing.  This not to put my poetry writing down, it's that writing stories comes harder for me, and I have a lot of anxiety about my writing.  The writer me said one word, 'yes.'

The budget me decided that since it was a gift-card, I wasn't spending any 'money', so it was allowed.

Outcome: my challenge self was really, really happy to see that The Double Dog Dare challenge did not say that I couldn't buy any books, it just said that I promised to only read books that I had on my shelves as of Jan 1/13, or had ordered already.  *whew*!  I would hate to fail a challenge less than two weeks into it!  The hard thing is, how difficult it is for me to not buy books. Period.  I'm definitely a book junkie.

So, having succumbed once, the lure of the second-hand bookstore was pretty well a done deal when I said I would meet my husband there one day  last week when I had two appointments ,so I was off work, and needed to use some time waiting for his lunch hour.  I didn't succumb badly, I tried to make it books I really wanted to read sometime soon.  Don't you like how I can rationalize any book buying? I must be the champion at it.   I came home with the following books, saying to my challenge self that I wouldn't read any until April 1.

The Moche Warrier -Lyn Hamilton
Now May You Weep - Deborah Crombie
Probability Moon - Nancy Kress
The Journals of Susanna Moodie (poems) - Margaret Atwood
Silas Marner - George Eliot
Galileo's Daughter - Dava Sobel

The best?  They were on super sale, so I got the lot for $5.00  And some good book finds!   The Atwood poems, The Journals of Susanna Moodie are hard to find - Amazon doesn't list any for sale at this time.  And a lovely copy of Silas Marner that I have wanted to read  since seeing the movie last year (a rental from the library).

bookaholic me: 7 all together,   contented
budget me: 2 (Chapters card, book sale)
challenge me: still in the challenge! win
writer me: joyous and writing again

2 weeks into the new year: Jan 15, was when I bought the books at the sale.   *sigh*  exactly how long can I go without buying books? 

So how are you doing with buying books, my Gentle Readers, in this new year?  and do you have conversations with your various selves when staring at books longingly on the shelf?

Sunday 13 January 2013

Vintage Reads and Women of Genre: CATSEYE by Andre Norton


    CATSEYE by Andre Norton is the first book by her that I've read.  It is the first one in the Women of Genre challenge for me, my January read. It is also a vintage science fiction novel my first read for the Vintage Science Fiction reading month.  
Catseye was published in 1961.  Look at this fun cover - I really like it.

It was the cover title, how it was printed, that convinced me to buy it - that 60's illustration is irresistible to me.

Catseye was fun.  It is set in the future, far in the future, on a planet named Korwar, which is a pleasure planet for the rich of the Planetary Council.  The Confederation is the other galactic power.   Earth is part of the known galaxy,  though it is known as Terra and is not important any more. Nor is the world of Norden, that Troy Horan is from.  He is the main character of Catseye, a young man who is from the Dipple, the ghetto place on Korwar where the poor and dispossessed gather, live, and die if they are unable to find work outside of their ghetto. Troy has been looking for work for a long time, until one day as this novel opens, his credentials - being from Norden, and having knowledge of animals, is part of a want ad someone has posted.  It's a pet store, but not any pet store.  All the different animals from different worlds are bought and sold here.  Among the rich of the Planetary Council, having a pet no one else has is a rare and valuable trophy.  Troy goes for a day's work, as the store is expecting a shipment of animals.  When their flyer is attacked bringing home the animals and the other main man in charge of the animals, Zul, is hurt, Troy is hired to cover his work. 

    I wanted to read this book because I wanted to know what cats had to do with it.  And right from the beginning, cats are a big part of this book.  We are not told what kind of cats are brought in, but rare cats from Terra are what Troy and Zul pick up that first day.  And from the moment he is near hte cage, Troy has the odd sense that the minds of one of the cats is touching his.  Later, Troy is sent to help calm a monkey-like creature who is found at the scene of a murder, pawing through the dead man's papers. And then finally two rare foxes are also brought to the pet store.  And Troy is drawn to help them, for they all share the same thing: they are able to touch his mind, he is able to communicate directly with them.  These animals are part of a genetic experiment to breed animals to communicate telepathically with men.  However, this is a secret project, that is now being used by members who want to get the Planetary Council off Kolwar.  However, if this happens, then the planet will not be deemed a pleasure planet, and the sanctity of the forest reserve, which has one of the few wild places left in the galaxy, will be destroyed in a development. 

The mystery and battle for the planet are all secondary in this novel to the real story, which is the developing closeness between Troy and the animals.  When they are forced to flee together, they must learn to rely on each other to survive, although Troy is always aware that at any time, the animals could choose to leave him.  There is a critical moment at the end of the book where Troy is offered the chance to go back to Norden as a Range Master, which his father was before him there, before they were forced to leave for Kolwar.  The deal though, includes Troy giving up the animals to those who want to destroy them to hide any trace of the conspiracy to get rid of the Council. I won't give away what Troy decides to do, though I will admit that my heart was in my mouth.  I had come to care about the animals, and Troy even. 

 I often find futuristic novels full of the science of imagining new things in the future, and not on characters or story so much.  This one had some of that, mostly to describe a world and a culture we have never seen, but rescues the story with Troy and his concern and care for the animals.  It turned into an interesting world, especially where Troy ends up, and I find myself wanting to know what happened to him next.  The animals were very realistic, and their language skills were not complex, they were basic, like the images animals must indeed come to know the world with.  Since I also enjoy reading about telepathy and psychic abilities, I enjoyed this novel for these elements too.  They occur only with Troy and the few animals, though he does have an ability to work with all animals, that he has inherited from his father.  

All in all, this was an enjoyable vintage science fiction read.  A good way to start off the Women in Genre challenge.  It does make me want to read Witchworld,  Andre Norton's most famous novel,  at some point.

This was my second book for Carl's Sci-fi Experience, also. 

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Long Awaited Reads Month - Spindle's End


 January is Ana's and Iris' Long Awaited Reads Month.  I was perusing my shelves, wondering how far back some books had been on it waiting to read, when this book fell into my hands:  Spindle's End, by Robin McKinley. 

I am a huge fan of Robin McKinley, and I'm not sure why I hadn't read Spindle's End before.  I know I had tried at least twice, but the beginning is a little dry, with not a lot of action until chapter 2, when we meet Katriona, a girl of 15 who is picked from her village to represent it at the christening of the long-awaited princess who had finally been born to the king and queen.  You know how the story begins: king and queen long for a baby, it's finally born after many years, and at the christening day, fairies are invited, and one is left out, Pernicia,  and she ruins the party by putting a curse on the baby that on her 21st birthday, the princess will touch a spindle and fall into a poisoned sleep from which none can wake her. In this story, the evil fairy then changes it to: it could happen at any time up to her 21st birthday.   And from there, the novel takes off on it's own wonderful course.

    Spindle's End is the retelling of Sleeping Beauty, thus the name of the novel.  It is one of the best retellings of this particular fairy tale I have read, and indeed, I think how the story is reworked so that the princess - called Rosie, nickname of  the last of the 19 names she is given (they had been waiting a long time to have a baby), Briar Rose - Rosie herself plays a starring role in this novel.  She is hidden away by Katriona, far from the palace and  the seeking eyes of  the wicked fairy .  So Rosie grows up far away from anywhere, really, loved by two fairies, one of whom , Katriona, accidentally gives her small fairy talent to Rosie when she first sees her, because she wants to give her something (she is a tiny 3 month old princess after all) and because she wants to save her from the curse. The whole kingdom wants to.  And for 20 years, Rosie is raised in relative safety.  And then the year of the 21st birthday arrives.....

I love how the fairies are worked into this story: humans share the world with fairies, in this unnamed land, and the fairies are used to corral magic and try to keep it under control, because magic exists in this world.  Fairies look like humans, so they are mostly identified by what happens around them, what they cause to happen, or what they can do. 

Part of the spell this novel had me under is that Rosie grows up being able to talk to animals.  It was at this point in reading the novel that I discovered  - I remembered- that I  had loved this part of fairy tales when I read them.  I absolutely love animals that help characters, especially talking animals.  That to me was pure magic, and I love that in Spindle's End this is worked in to the story in such a beautiful way.  Rosie is not your archetypal princess, she is clumsy, large, not beautiful - but she is kind, and funny, and loves animals fiercely. 

This was a funny magical fairy tale.  It's been a long time since I read something that was so sweet, and well-written, and true to the spirit of fairy tales. 

What I love most though, is that Rosie mostly saves herself.  I think  it says a lot for today, and our envisioning of female power, that the prince doesn't rescue Rosie.  She decides to fight for the kingdom, for her people, for all she loves, to free them from the evil fairy.  She doesn't fall into a slumber that only one kiss will awaken her, she doesn't lie in state in the castle waiting for a prince to hack his way through to her.  She works with the land, the way a real princess (and King) do, close to it in the way that living in nature (they are far from any large city, or even small town) can give to people. That's what I mean by a marvelous true story.  Some of the questions that have bothered me for years about Sleeping Beauty are: Should Briar Rose do something, anything, to stop her curse?  Why is she so passive - hasn't she heard for all those years what the evil fairy wished on her?  Shouldn't she flee at the sight of a spindle?  Why is she so passive? Shouldn't she seek some way to avoid her fate, rather than let her father just banish spindles, as if that could stop an evil fairy?  This retelling answers those questions I long held in a deeply satisfying way.

 This one is rich in myth, and legend, and talking animals, good and evil, and a princess who is helped by those she is kind to.  It's filled with lots of love too, brimming over with love and romance.  At it's core, it's about being true to yourself.  There are two big heroines in this book - Katriona, who rescues the princess and then helps to raise her, and Rosie, the princess. I love that they are the center of this story of Sleeping Beauty.  They take action, they are the story.  This is a wonderful re-imagining.

So that was my first book for long awaited reads month.   I have had it on my shelves for several years now. Thank you, Ana and Iris, for creating this challenge! 

Saturday 5 January 2013

Dystopian and sci fi book: One Second After

    One Second After by William R. Forstchen was recommended to me when I did my post last year of dystopian fiction.  I ended up getting the book from the library, and it is my second book read for 2013, and the first one for Carl's Sci-fi experience, and the Dystopian Fiction challenge.

One Second After is set in the 2000 decade.  It's published in 2009, but the author doesn't give a date, just that it is after Sept 11.  It's set in Black Mountain, North Carolina, in a small town that has a college, and is close to the interstate highway leading to Asheville and Raleigh.  One day in April, in the afternoon, Colonel John Matherson, retired (though still this side of 50), receives a phone call from his friend in Washington.  And the line goes dead, and all the power stops.  The cell phone, the ceiling fan, and then eventually, they realize, all the cars on the interstate, and then fires burning in the mountains around them are planes that have gone down.  There was an EMP, electromagnetic Pulse, that detonated over the US, (and eventually they learn other parts of the world, three bombs), and all the power is gone.
One Second After follows John, his two daughters Elizabeth and Jennifer, his mother-in-law Nancy, their two dogs, and the lives of the people of Black Mountain in the year after the EMP ended that way of life.  Especially, it takes place over the first two months.  It shows how quickly civilization falls when there is no communication, how poorly prepared people are for any emergency lasting longer than a day, and how much skills to be able to look after yourself are going to be needed.
This was one frightening book to read. It paints a realistic portrayal of one man struggling to keep his family safe and town strong, and keep it together when bigger threats in the world around it come along.


It's interesting to compare this book to Flood by Stephen Baxter, which I read last year, and who is a British writer and so the ideology and setting, and how the world reacts is different - and yet people do the same everywhere.  In both books, some people become savage and lawless, with the breakdown in society.  Others become stronger community oriented, though in Flood, most of the world ends up drowned, and only a few thousands are left at the end, drifting on ships and flotillas over the endless oceans.  I didn't review Flood then because it was such a bleak outlook, and I found it difficult to review.  I liked parts of it, and others I thought were fairly ridiculous.  The characters were manipulated and I wasn't happy with how several of them died.  It didn't seem realistic, and this made me realize  that that's what I want most of all in a dystopian novel.  However, it did have interesting ideas and science, and  there is a sequel, Ark, which I am planning to read one day.  It does show how difficult it is to write about the end of the world and make it believable and the reader to care about the characters.

Back to One Second After: Forschten worked in the US government, and he wrote One Second After as a warning.  He says in his afterward that the possibility of an EMP being created is very real, and that he was concerned that the government wasn't doing anything to prepare the American people about it, or doing anything to protect the US from it.  Ideally looking for ways to prevent nuclear bombs from being exploded above the atmosphere, which is what would create the EMP - no nuclear fall-out, but the energy blast destroys all wave-length power.  All of our technology is now electronically based and controlled.  If we lose power, we seem to lose everything.

One Second After is a good novel, and the characters are well-done.  I thought the changeover to a town-run council well-done and realistic, and the sorting out of who does what, and who is valuable or not interesting.  The story itself is fast-paced, the dialogue is good if abrupt, and the Colonel is very much a man who controls his environment and loved ones - when his daughter falls pregnant, his mother-in-law understands why, but he is confused as she is only 16, and forgetting that the world is down to today , this minute - he can read situations very well, but not always people, especially women.  It's kind of funny, and sweet, and keeps the book from being too military and man's world. I enjoyed it very much.  I really enjoyed the way the society falls apart and then comes together is shown.  And I cried at the end, because the inevitable happens - if you read the book, you will know that one member of his family is particularly vulnerable, which I won't give away here.  Just, if you ever wanted a realistic picture of what would happen to a typical US town at the end of the world, this is a fun and good book to try.

Revolution vs One Second After.
I couldn't help comparing this to Revolution, the JJ Abrams tv show from this fall, which talks about society several years after an EMP destroyed civilization.  I watched several episodes of Revolution, but found I didn't like all the killing, and the characters I did like they didn't spend enough time with, and I really don't like endless flashbacks - the flashback parts were what I really wanted to see, how they survived, when they decided to leave the big cities, what it was like to go through the days and weeks after the power fails.  It was difficult to go back and forth between now and then, when I wanted to stay then, and learn more. That interests me, that time of change, of coping, of learning how to survive, and then what follows after.  One Second After is that story of how people get from the EMP to the time in Revolution. I also hate how Elizabeth Mitchell's character pretended to be dead to her family for all that time.  Totally unbelievable, especially when her husband and brother-in-law both held the keys to restarting the power.  Ridiculous even.  So I had to stop watching, I was yelling at the characters so much.  Read One Second After to get an idea of the story Revolution is probably trying to tell (without all the annoying characters).

Thursday 3 January 2013

science fiction galore featuring Women in SF challenge!


   I have to thank Andrea at Andrea's Book Nook, who commented in my last post about a new challenge: the Dystopian 2013 challenge, found here at Bookish Ardour.

It fits along with Carl's Science Fiction Experience, which officially began yesterday.
  The Dystopian challenge runs all year.  Carl's lasts for 2 months, until the end of February.  There is also the Vintage Science Fiction not a challenge over at the Little Red Reviewer, which is a reading experience that lasts through the month of January.

 This is for science fiction whose publishing date is 1979 or earlier.

I am joining all of these.  I am excited, and I was surprised by how excited I was to be reading science fiction - after all I only read 9 last year - and then I realized, I'm excited because there are good books and good writing going on in science fiction, and I have a whole world of it waiting to catch up in. Carl says January makes him think of science fiction. I didn't associate it with winter particularly - I used to read it in the summer long ago - but now, I find myself settling in to books about 'out there', and I think it's a way to help me focus on something other than our long, long winters here in Ottawa. I like the idea of exploring, and I can do it safely from the comfort of my own home, reading in the light, while characters explore all the wondrous worlds and planets out there for me.  There are also the aliens amongst us, of course, and the terrors lurking in dystopian reality here.  Despite the piling snow and bitter cold outside, I can escape to far away planets,  alternate worlds, fly among the stars in between the pages of my books.

So some of the books I will be reading for these various challenges, and they will all be cross-challenged if they fit, are:

Vintage science fiction:
Man Plus - Frederick Pohl
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K LeGuin
They Shall Have Stars - James Blish
Dragonflight - Anne McCaffrey
The Winds Twelve Quarters - Ursula K Le Guin
Witch World - Andre Norton
Catseye - Andre Norton
Sunburst - Phyllis Gotlieb
Farmer in the Sky - Robert A Heinlein

some dystopian science fiction:
The Clewiston Test - Kate Wilhelm
Directive 51 - John Barnes
Clay's Ark - Octavia Butler
The Postman - David Brin
I Am Legend -  Richard Matheson
 *more will come, these are on my shelves now.  I would like to get the sequel to Stephen Baxter's Flood,  the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy, and I have one on request at the library.  Plus Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent by Veronica Roth. 

And then, the general (and excellent) science fiction books that I started collecting for the Worlds Without End challenge last year, which I failed at, for Carl's experience:

Timescape - Gregory Benford
Debris - Jo Anderton
Fool's War - Sarah Zettel
This Alien Shore - C.S. Friedman
A Fire Upon the Deep - Vernor Vinge
Mars - Ben Bova
All Clear - Connie Willis
The Dervish House - Ian McDonald
The Empress of Mars - Kage Baker
The Engines of God - Jack McDevitt
Catspaw - Joan D. Vinge

 I see now that at Worlds Without End they have a genre challenge going this year - and many thanks to Carl for his post today  about it.

 The Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge it's called.  And it looks fabulous. 12 female authors, one post a month, one book read by each author.  Reviews posted to the site will get you entered into a draw to win gift certificates from Amazon.

6 books I  listed above for Carl's sci fi challenge experience, are by women writers!  Plus in the other groupings......Oh yes.  They all are on the women writers list for the women of genre challenge! It's an awesome list.  Go look, and see if you think you can do this challenge.  I bet you could, easily.  With Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel, Sarah Waters, and everyone you could possibly think of as a science fiction female writer, all the wonderful female writers are there.  Who are your favourites?  Who have you been wanting to read for the past while?

For just a few minutes, I forgot about the snow (we have had over 2 feet of snow in the past two weeks) and the cold (it is below -23c as I write this tonight).  I was all warm and happy, writing about books and science fiction.  My biggest challenge at the moment is deciding which one to read (and to stay warm).

What does January make you think of, Gentle Reader?  Which kind of books do you reach for in this, the darkest and coldest days of winter still stretching ahead?  What is your favourite winter reading?

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Books of the year 2012, and Happy New Year!

So I got caught up in New Year's yesterday, and didn't get this post done as I'd planned. I was also busy reading my final book for 2012, Think of a Number by John Verdon.

Think of  Number - John Verdon-  A good mystery, the puzzle was great.  The characters were interesting and well-defined.  The only problem was the writing, which improved as the book went on. I liked the main character, Dave Gurney, but thought some of his psychological awareness at first was slightly manipulated.  By the end of the book this was worked out and I ended up really enjoying this first mystery.   His wife Madeleine was fascinating and very well-drawn. Dave is  a retired detective, a cerebral intelligent detective whose greatest strengths are his logic and ability to put facts together quickly.  It was fun watching him guess how the letters were done.   I guessed the reveal before it happened, though this only added to the enjoyment (it was only a little before it was revealed, though I had my suspicions for a while). I will be seeking out the second one, after April 1 when the Double Dog Dare is over.

2012 in Review
So I ended up reading 71 books in total.  Not a great year, though given my personal life last year, I am satisfied to get that many read. I had set the goal of 100 books to be read, which now looks like a perpetual goal, one I want to achieve every year.   Last year was closest, at 97 books read.

Mysteries: 28
Science Fiction: 9
Fantasy: 8
horror: 4
YA: 5
Graphic Novels:2
Childrens: 7
Non-fiction: 2
Fiction: 3
classics: 1

Male 31 *
Female 41*
Looking at those numbers, I can see I continue my trend of reading 3:1 mysteries to anything else, which is why my goal is to read 50 mysteries a year. Science fiction took a lovely jump thanks to Carl's wonderful Sci-Fi experience, which I am joining again this year. Horror dropped as well, as most of the sf I read was dystopian fiction which satisfied my craving for end of the world disaster novels (mirroring my psychological state last year).  I am still interested in dystopian fiction very much, I enjoyed all the books I read in this genre so much.

I am sad that  classics dropped even lower.  I only finished one of the three I started - North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.  I am reading Les Miserables slowly, and have started Moby Dick as well.  So one of my goals  will be to increase my classics this year. 

I read slightly more female than male writers.  *Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall counted for one each, as a husband and wife writing team. 

For fun I have broken this down for the first time into authors nationalities, where in the world was I reading this past year?

Canada: 5
US: 34
UK: 26
Norway: 2
Sweden: 2
Iceland: 1
Ireland: 1
Australia: 1

Normally I have books from France, South Africa, and more from Iceland and Sweden on my list.  For simplicity's sake I took all the Great Britain Isles together, but on the whole it would be slightly more in favour of England to Scotland.  Again, Sweden got two votes, for Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall. I need to radically increase my books read from other countries!  And my own nation.

So overall, I didn't read as widely as I wanted to, nor in as much as I aimed for.  I failed at almost every challenge I joined, though that hasn't stopped me from enlisting in a few already this year!  Most of all, I enjoyed so many of the books I read this year.  It was very difficult to get my books of the year in order, but finally, here they are, my

Books of the Year - 2012 - 
  Dark Matter - Michelle Paver
A Room Full of Bones - Elly Griffiths
Among Others - Jo Walton
Moving Mars - Greg Bear
White Pine - Mary Oliver
Seraphina - Rachel Hartmann
Sovereign - C.J Sansom
Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny
The Black House - Peter May
 Roseanna - Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeiffer
Divergent - Veronica Roth

Honourable mentions to: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson,  Lucifer's Hammer - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Reviews will follow of the four I didn't manage to review, which I certainly want to.  They were each marvelous reads, thrilling, and I could have sworn I did review two of them.......

Happy New Year, Gentle Readers.  I hope many pleasurable hours of reading are ahead of you, and many delightful new books to discover, for 2013.