December 31st, 2010



We fall short of the fifty, completing this year with Book Review No. 43. Richard Posner, one of the leading lights of law and economics, and a scholar prone to look for efficiency explanations of social phenomena, concludes that the incentives to allocate resources efficiently were insufficiently strong in financial markets. Thus A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and the Descent into Depression.Collapse ) Judge Posner points to the presence of these schools of thought, often motivated more by ideology than by confidence in their transversality conditions as evidence of the field's weakness. His work is primarily an evaluation of the causes of the financial depression and the failures of business, of policy, of academic thought, and his conclusion recapitulates that message, rather than issuing a call for action.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
Jazzy Looking Around the Corner

December Reads

93.  Christ the Lord Out of Egypt by Anne Rice  This is about Jesus's life when he is about eight years old and he moves back to Nazereth with his family.  This is written from a Catholic point of view since Mary, Jesus's mother had no other biological children and never had any sexual relations with Joseph after Jesus's birth.  Jesus is starting to question the circumstances about his birth and even asks his step brother James about it.  His father doesn't want him to ask questions about it and when he does find out about the previous Herod's slaughter of young boy babies years ago he is saddened by it.  He does receive his religious instruction from the local rabbis and in this book his family is portrayed as being middle class and not struggling for their day to day survival.  Overall this is a good telling of Jesus's childhood since he would be naturally curious about his true identity about this age range even though the story may not be historically accurate.
94.  Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston  Jay Jarvis is a single stockbroker who recently relocated to Greenville, SC who starts attending church in order to meet girls.  He meets a female missionary that he wants to get closer to.  He is introduced to an eclectic group of women while on a church singles beach trip who hop churches in order to find a husband.  In the midst of all of this relationship confusion he becomes closer to God with a suprise ending.  This is a hilarious look at single life in the Bible Belt.
95.  The Bridge by Doug Marlette Pick Cantrell is a young man whose career as a political cartoonist is up in flames when his wife finds a job in North Carolina.  They move to North Carolina along with their young son to a town that is close to the town that he grew up in.  During his time there he gets to know his grandmother Lucy better whom he had blamed for his mother's death in causing her to be locked up in a mental institution.  During his time there he finds out there is more to his grandmother than he knew about as a little boy and as a young man.  He learned that she was a working mother during the Great Depression and was involved in a strike in their local mill.  He finds out the reason for his grandparent's estrangement. 
96.  The Cries of Vampira by Sean H. Robertson  This short novella is the first in a series about the Grey Wolve's attack on the Vampira kingdom.  The Grey Wolves are werewolves while the citizens of Vampira are vampires who feed on animal blood and wish to make peace with the humans even though they are scared of them.   They love the Grey Wolves even though they want to make war on them and take over their kingdom.  According to the beginning of the book Gaad Grey the Grey Wolf is raised by one of Satan's angels or even Satan himself after his parents are killed by the Vampira king as he is dying from a wound inflicted by them.  Gaad swears to take out his revenge on the vampires by taking over their kingdom.  The ending is a cliffhanger which makes you want to go out and get the next book in the series as soon as it comes out.
97.  The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephanie Meyer  This is a book that looks into the lives of one of the newborns that we meet briefly in Eclipse.  This gives us a look at the newborn army that descends on Bella Swan and the Cullens in Eclipse giving them a sympathetic point of view since their creator, Victoria had lied to them about the point of the battle that they were getting ready to fight.  This shows you a different type of vampire in the Twilight universe other than the Cullens.  This is a blood sucking vampire looking for victims to devour though in the beginning they look for the dregs of society such as prostitutes and runaways in order to feed from. 
98.  A Match Made in Heaven by Susan Wales and Ann Platz This is a collection of stories of how various couples met and fell in love.  The couples differ in ages when they first met, so its not just couples who met in school.  Some of the couples had one or both of them in it who were married before and were either widowed or divorced not just first marriages.  This book provides inspiration for both married couples and singles.  This book shows that not everyone gets married when they're in their early twenties and how they waited for God's timing for the relationship.  None of the people rushed God's timing for marriage.
99.  Mountaineer Dreams by Yvonne Lehman, Lauralee Bliss and Irene B. Brand
100. A Time to Dance by Karen Kingsbury  This book is about a couple who are on the verge of divorce after over twenty years of marriage.  Abby and John Reynolds appear to be the perfect couple though they have a secret that they can't stand each other and have drifted apart.  On the day that they were going to tell their children about the divorce their adult daughter and her boyfriend announce their engagement.  The two of them decide to wait until after their daughter's wedding to let them know about the divorce.  During preparations for the wedding both John and Abby reflect on their failing marriage and what went wrong in it.  This book is different than Karen's other books that in addition to having God's voice in the book you also see the devil's voice as well.  This book only deals with one of the causes of divorce and not any of the other causes.  Abby has a sister who had married young and was divorced young as well.  Abby also reflects on her relationship with her sister admitting that she was judgmental of her because of her divorce.  One downside to the story is that Abby's sister is cynical of marriage and does not admit what had gone wrong in her marriage, if she had married when she was too young and not ready for it.  That is another reason for divorce especially in Christian communities where marrying young is encouraged.
101.  Angels by Marian Keyes This book is about Maggie Walsh, the one Walsh sister who appeared to be the normal Walsh sister though in this book she is let go from her dependable job and she leaves her husband after she suspects that he's been having an affair on her.  After spending time with her parents who want her to reunite with her husband instead she goes to Los Angeles in order to visit her friend Emily who is a struggling screenwriter.  During her visit she has the type of experiences that she felt that she had missed out on by marrying at the age of 24 and not having the extended singles experience.  By the end of the book she discovers what type of person she is and is as typical in chick lit books she winds up with a great guy.  This is an interesting story because the main character married young and is the one who left her husband.  She does go through some wondering about what would have happened if she was single at her age and didn't marry her first real boyfriend.

(no subject)

Title: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: YA fantasy

Summary: After finding out that he is the son of Poseidon, this series follows the adventures of Percy Jackson and his demigod friends.

Thoughts: My first experience with Percy Jackson was the movie. My husband and I decided to head over to the cheap seats and watch something fun. I knew that it was based off of a book, but I never bothered to pick it up. While spending Thanksgiving with my brother, he sent me home with the whole five book series. They sat on my shelf for awhile while I read other books. For some reason, I just kept avoiding them. However, last week, I finally started reading them. I couldn't put the series down!

After finding out that he is the son of Poseidon, Percy is taken to Camp Half-Blood where he meets and befriends several demigods -- the children of a union between a god and a human. However, Percy is different. He finds out that he is a child of the big 3 -- Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. For various reasons, this is a very big deal. Without giving anything away, the series follows Percy and his friends on many adventures that lead them from places like Hades to the 600th floor of the Empire State's Building.

Riordan did an excellent job with this series. Using the Greek mythology as a basis for the series, I was a little apprehensive about his interpretation of the myths. However, he does an amazing job. I had to keep my BlackBerry next to me in order to look things up while I read. Not only does he have rather obscure figures from Greek mythology (i.e., Kampe and the Hundred-Handed Ones), he was able to imagine the gods' role in modern day culture. For example, Hermes created the internet. The world he creates is colourful, rich, and fun.

The author also spent a lot of time fleshing his characters out. I felt that, even though they may not have been the main characters, everyone in the books were given a lot thought. Furthermore, the characters matured over the course of the series. They start out with Percy being found at 12 and end when he is 16. Riordan was able to show this maturity in a believable way.

The only thing I can liken these books to is the Harry Potter series. However, unlike Harry, I felt that Percy was a likable character. While he was the main character, he did not dominate the books the way Harry did. During the off-season of Camp Half-Blood, each character was shaped by their own experiences and not by Percy. To put it another way, they all had a life outside of Percy. In addition, Percy accepted his fate and position as Poseidon's son.

Not only were these books and quick and entertaining read, I feel that young adults would be introduced to the rich history of Greek mythology in a very accessible and fun way. Putting the myths into modern day society, children would be able to relate at a different level.

Overall, the Percy Jackson series has become one of my favorites. I look forward to picking up The Heroes of Olympus.

Rating: 4/5

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Currently: Ghost Story by Peter Straub
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# 79 Shirley


Charlotte Brontë

Set in a woolen mill town in Yorkshire during the Napoleonic Wars, Shirley is the story of the beautiful heiress, Shirley Keeldar, her close friend, Caroline Helstone, impoverished mill owner Robert Moore, and his brother, Louis, who is tutor to Shirley's relatives, the Sympsons, and who is her former tutor as well.

In some ways, I was reminded of North and South by Brontë's friend Elizabeth Gaskell; especially in regards to the background of labor unrest in a woolen mill town. However, Brontë writes with much more passion and depth - the same emotions barely held in check that charactarize Jane Eyre. That is where the comparison to Jane Eyre ends, though, or at least nearly so. Shirley is almost nothing like Brontë's more famous work.

Jane Eyre is a lifelong favorite of mine, and always will be, but I find shirley more mature, and actually the stronger, better work.

I loved Shirley! It was a bit slow to start, but before I knew it, I found myself completely absorbed in the characters' lives. So much so, that I actually gasped out loud at one part that turned out to be minor.

I'll be adding Shirley to my ever-growing list of favorites. What a great way to see out the old year!

witching hour

Books 144-148: Wicked Series by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié

I read these five YA fantasy/horror novels over the last six weeks after spotting the striking feline-themed cover of Book 5 at my local library.

Books 144-145: Witch & Curse (Wicked 01 & 02).
Author: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié, 2002.
Genre: Paranormal Romance. Horror. YA.
Other Details: Paperback Omnibus Edition. Witch 361 pages. Curse 291 pages.

Witch opens with 17-year old Holly Cathers, her parents and best friend setting out on a raft ride on the Colorado River. There is a terrible accident and everyone apart from Holly is killed. Her world shattered, Holly discovers that her father had a sister, who is now her legal guardian. Maria-Claire Cathers-Anderson has twin daughters, Amanda and Nicole, the same age as Holly. However, Marie Claire has a secret lover, Michael Deveraux, who is a warlock. He also has sons, Eli and Jer.

Marie-Claire is aware of Michael's magic and of her own witch powers but doesn't know that the Deveraux family has had a blood feud with the Cahor family, the original name of the Cathers, stretching back to medieval times. Michael has been disappointed that neither Marie-Claire nor her daughters have much innate magical powers but when he learns of Holly's existence, he realises that she may be the one that has inherited the family's magical power. So he starts plotting her destruction as evil warlock-types tend to do.

Basically both books are a cat and mouse game with increasingly dramatic events and quite a few flashbacks to the past featuring the activities on the part of the evil Deveraux family and the not-quite-as-evil Cahor family. These flashbacks could have done with greater editorial checking as there were some bloopers. The worse for me was the reference to an upcoming 600-year anniversary from events that took place in the 13th century. Since the modern day events take place circa early 21st century, this literally doesn't add up.

Books 146-147: Legacy & Spellbound (Wicked 03 & 04).
Author: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié, 2003.
Genre: Paranormal Romance. Horror. YA.
Other Details: Paperback Omnibus Edition. Legacy 317 pages. Spellbound 342 pages.

The magical feud between the Cahor and the Deveraux families had heated up in the second book and incorporated a larger on-going magical war between witchy factions: one group who follow the Goddess and the other the Horned God. So there is a host of new characters and a great deal of bouncing about as various people get separated, kidnapped, rescued, possessed and the like.

There is also an increasing body count, more pyrotechnics, and nasty entities that overall make Charmed look tame. In Spellbound there is a late plot twist that left me thinking WTF! Not sure what Nancy H. and Debbie V. were thinking on that one though again I had to ask myself was there anything really that more outlandish than things that had been done in Charmed or Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, both of which were on screen when the books were written.

I also do admit that I have a soft spot for those Gothic horror films of the 60/70s and in here there are plenty of pitch-black, if-it-moves-sacrifice-it baddies that would work well in that kind of film. Holly bothered me as I just am suspicious of a character that goes from schoolgirl to uber-witch in a few months with no training and now is hailed as the 'greatest witch that has ever lived'. Hello Mary-Sue!

Book 148: Resurrection (Wicked 05).
Author: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié, 2009
Genre: Paranormal Romance. Horror. YA.
Other Details: Paperback. 416 pages.

Six years after the cliff-hanger ending of Spellbound, the authors complete the series with Resurrection. There is more bouncing about the globe (and through time) by various folk searching for other folk, more demons, more revelations, more fireballs, more death and destruction, and some rather dubious returns from the grave. The authors also wove into the story the olde English ballad, Scarborough Fair, which made me want to go burn my Simon & Garfunkle CD. Suffice to say it really didn't work well for me.

The series as a whole was kind of like popcorn: no real substance but once you start eating it almost impossible to stop until the bucket is empty. I think if I had been reading them as a teen before I had any real life experience of magic and witchcraft/Wicca I would probably have been enthralled by them and wanted more. Plus, I did enjoy Charmed and similar shows and they can be easily as convoluted and daft. I was also pleased that the authors resisted the temptation to introduce vampires into the mix though there was a point I really thought they might. No, they've saved those for their new collaboration.

So overall, they proved entertaining enough and I didn't feel too much outrage at the authors' rather skew-whiffed take on witchcraft and Wicca. .
El Corazon

Last Book of the Year! .... 257. The Great Gatsby

Just wanted to thank all the members of this community. It's been a great year of reading from my first books of the year to this one. I'm looking forward to 2011!

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Started: December 28, 2010
Finished: December 31, 2010

It's fitting that I end my reading year 2010 with probably my all-time favorite book. This is the perfect novel--great story, great writing, perfect pacing. There really isn't a single wasted sentence in this entire novel. This is probably somewhere between my tenth or fifteenth reading of The Great Gatsby and I still just marvel at how perfect it is. 171 pages. Grade: A+
Total # of Books Read in 2010: 257
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 63,531
  • mhleigh

How to be an American Housewife

Title: How to Be an American Housewife
Author: Margaret Dilloway
Genre: Novel

Title: How to be an American Housewife
Author: Margaret Dilloway
Genre: Novel

Plot: This novel recounts events in the lives of several generations of women in one family. It begins with the grandmother, Shoko, who marries an American soldier after World War II. She moves to the United States with him and begins the process of trying to learn to be a proper American housewife, including all the new habits she most adopt and some that she must leave behind for being too Japanese. She and her husband, Charlie, have a daughter, Sue, who in turn has a child of her own, Helena. Two complimentary stories are contained in this novel, one describing Shoko's life as a young woman, before and immediately following her marriage to Charlie, and the second revolving around the decision of Shoko that Sue and Helena should travel to Japan in order to reconnect with their heritage and her brother, and bond that was destroyed when Shoko decided to marry an American.

Quote: "Adjusting to the U.S. was difficult in other ways for me, especially in the beginning. If I borrowed an egg from a neighbor, I returned two, the Japanese way. They didn't understand; why did I give them two? It made them angry, like I was insulting them. When you "borrowed" an egg or a cup of sugar in America, you never actually returned it."

Review: Although the stories recounted in both time periods depicted in this book are good, the first, that of Shoko as a girl and young woman, was particularly engaging. The author describes a life that was shaped by World War II and Americans, first in the dangers Shoko encountered in simple acts - walking to school or going to sleep at night included as examples of activities that could at any moment be thrown into chaos by the arrival of American planes. One the war is over, its affects continue to define Shoko, including by opening doors for young, educated women to leave their rural homes and take jobs in the city, many catering to the GIs stationed there. Once her father has decided that her marriage to an American GI is the best decision for Shoko's family, she and Charlie have a rapid courtship, culminating in marriage and eventually the move to the U.S. This portion of the story is both gripping and entertaining, especially since it is interspersed with quotations from a fictitious self-help book (which shares this book's title) that gives Japanese women advice on how to deal with the strange habits of their American husbands, neighbors, and children, including on topics such as "turning American," "American housekeeping," and "cooking Western-style." The second half, focusing on Shoko's daughter and granddaughter, is not as engaging, but still a fine read.
  • noname4

Happy New Year

Book list for year 2010 is not long. With full-time job, overtime and everning school I didn't have too much time or energy to red.

1. Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
2. Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin (n/f)
3. Breakfast with Buddha - Roland Merullo
4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Murial Barbery
5. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
6. Red Poppies - Alai
7. Wildwood - Drusilla Cambell
8. When we where Romans - Matthew Kneale
9. Company of Liars - Karen Maitland
10. The Well and the Mine - Gin Phillips
11. Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
12. Sweet Dreams - Michael Frayn
13. The Magic Mountain - Thomas Mann
14. Astrid & Veronica - Linda Olsson
15. The White Queen - Philipa Gregory
16. Hanry's Sisters - Cathy Lamb
  • mhleigh

(no subject)

Title: The King's Mistress
Author: Emma Campion
Genre: Novel

Plot: The King's Mistress tells the story of Alice Perrers, a woman living in 1300s England. She is married to an acceptable merchant, Janyn, and settles into her happy marriage. She soon finds, however, that things are not as simple as they seem - in fact, her husband has been hiding from her his involvement in political intrigue, including ways in which his family has its fate intertwined with that of the English royal family. When Janyn suddenly disappears without a trace, Alice must relocate to the royal court, the only place where she has any hope of protection from the secretive forces that unraveled her marriage. While there she serves the queen, Philippa, and quickly becomes noticed by the king, Edward III. With each passing day Alice finds herself more at the mercy of forces beyond her control, at once tossed about by the powerful men and women who dictate her actions and astutely able to keep afloat with no one but herself to fully rely upon.

Quote: "I did not see at the time how he used our lovemaking to silence my questions, subtly suggesting to me that in wanting to know more than the little he told me I risked my happiness. I was only fourteen and so much in love."

Review: This book was an extremely engaging read that was difficult to put down. It shows how a young woman could be plucked from o and favored with the attention of the king and queen - and how easily that could be a disaster for the woman in question, instead of the boon it immediately appears to be. This book contains love stories, history, and a great deal of mystery and intrigue, much of which plagues Alice throughout her life. The only negative to this book is that the author supposes a close relationship between Alice and Geoffrey Chaucer, which beyond being wholly unnecessary is extremely boring. Luckily these forced interludes are brief and the reader can quickly get past medieval name dropping and back to a great story.
Fringe - Peter - Live Long & Prosper

Book Count for 2010: 45

44. Tony Hillerman, Coyote Waits, 292 pages, Mystery, Hardback, 1992 (borrowed from the library).

Book 11 of the Navajo Mysteries finds Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn both investigating, on their own time, the arrest of Ashie Pinto. Chee is doing so as the arresting officer on medical leave, partially to assuage his guilt, partially to impress Janet Pete, the defense attorney back in town and defending Pinto. Leaphorn was asked to do so by the man’s niece, who is a distant relative of his late wife. Eventually they compare notes and solve the case, each working their own angle.

45. Tony Hillerman, Sacred Clowns, 354 pages, Mystery, Paperback, 1993 (borrowed from the library).

Jim Chee is now directly working with Joe Leaphorn, creating a Special Investigations Office of the Navajo Tribal Police. Chee is following leads about a missing school boy, a hit-and-run, a school teacher’s murder, all while being in the same village at the same time a koshare (sacred clown) is murdered, and in his spare time trying to still impress legal defender Janet Pete while figuring out if it is permissible (not taboo) to date her. The case is interesting, especially as pieces start to fit together. And I really liked Jim Chee’s discussion on hozho, the Beauty Way, a Navajo belief system of being in harmony with one’s surroundings.
  • maribou

Mad Duck Nature

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010, edited by Freeman Dyson and Tim Folger
I had to stop reading this in the middle because I was so frustrated by the manly-manliness of it (and of science that gets recognized, period) - very very few women, either as article authors or as scientists profiled. And I sort of suspect that Freeman Dyson and I have incredibly many points of disagreement about what makes good science writing. Oh, and that thing about how they really need to rename it to something like Best American Technology, Nature and Science Writing? Still applies. Even so, there were some great pieces in here; it's worth the bother.

Duck, by Victoria de Rijke
I love this Reaktion Animal series and the way they give a concise but full history of humankind's involvement with each animal they consider. The writing in this volume was not the most elegant, but the information and illustrations were still interesting.

Mad With Wonder: Hatter M, volume 2, by Frank Beddor et al
Things is pickin' up - I liked this volume about 2X as much as the first one. (Good thing, since I still have volume 3 sitting in a stack upstairs). Art just as pretty, writing more graceful. Plot still beside the point:>.
(187/200, 8/100)
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    Aloe Blacc, "Good Things"
lady in white

Books 149-150: Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

This completes my reading for 2010 and I completed the 150 books that I hoped I would.

Book 149: Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle 02).
Author: Libba Bray, 2005.
Genre: YA. Historical Fiction. Fantasy. Coming of Age.
Other Details: Paperback. 548 pages.

Christmas is fast approaching and Gemma Doyle is looking forward to getting away from Spence Academy to spend time in London with her friends. However, she is having disturbing new visions involving three girls dressed in white that suggests something terrible happened to them. There is also a new teacher at Spence, who appears to have secrets of her own. The mysterious Kartik reappears and advises Gemma that she needs to enter the Realms and locate a hidden Temple and there bind the magic.

I really loved that the major part of the novel took place in Victorian London amid the swirl of the Christmas season and Bray did an excellent job of with portraying the girl's need to slip away from the watchful eyes of their families and chaperones in order to investigate certain mysteries and make their clandestine forays into the magical Realms.

I had a few niggles about historical details and some attitudes seeming a bit too modern, yet they were minor only. Easy to overlook when a series of books is this good. As hoped quite a few of the questions I had while reading A Great and Terrible Beauty were addressed here and the ground laid for the finale.

Libba Bray's 'Rebel Angels' page - with links to map of the London of 'Rebel Angels' and sample chapter.

Book 150: The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle 03).
Author: Libba Bay, 2007.
Genre: YA. Historical Fiction. Fantasy. Coming of Age.
Other Details: Paperback. 832 pages.

It has been a year of change for Gemma Doyle since her mother's death and her return to England from India. Now preparing for her official London début she also faces new trials and challenges. I can't really say too much about the plot beyond this as it would reveal too much about events that have taken place in the first two novels.

Again Bray moves between the Realms, the hot house atmosphere of Spence Academy and fin-de-siècle London. The theme of women's roles in late Victorian society is also explored as it is made clear that Gemma and her friends may be powerful within the Realms but they are still restricted by the society of their day.

I just finished this novel today and feel that Bray did a magnificent job of drawing together the various threads to create a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Gemma Doyle may have inherited great magical power but she is a well-rounded character, who makes plenty of mistakes and quite importantly learns by them. I really loved her narrative voice. It is rare that a book makes me cry but the closing chapters of this one did.

Libba Bray's 'The Sweet Far Thing' page - with links to a map of Spence and sample chapter.
did you know you could fly?

(no subject)

Book #66 -- Patricia Windsor, Nightwood, 245 pages.

You know the story - a bunch of high school girls skip out on a school trip to head up to a family cabin in the woods where no one knows they're there, and the bodies start to pile up. Nothing new here, but it's certainly a fun and creepy representative of the genre.

Progress toward goals: 365/365 = 100%

Books: 66/75 = 88.0%

Pages: 18758/20000 = 93.8%

2010 Book List

cross-posted to 15000pages, 50bookchallenge, and gwynraven
  • maribou

19 favorite books read in 2010

The amazing thing is that the books I read this year were so good that only about half of the books I loved made it into this list. Also, rereads are disallowed. Anyway, here they are, with reviews from when I read 'em.
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Happy New Year, everyone!
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    Flying Lotus, "Do the Astral Plane"


While on my break from my summer (yes, I am in New Zealand) job, I finished my last book of the year;
The hedgehog, the fox and the magister's pox by Stephen Jay Gould. It had some good points, but at stages was too, well, boring.
So 69 books this year, and 20,424 pages. Let's see if I can beat that next year!