2022 Reading Challenge

88: Fer de Lance by Rex Stout. Nero Wolfe mystery. 4/5

89: Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault. Historical fiction about Alexander the Great. 3/5

90: The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout. A Nero Wolfe mystery with some ;language and attitudes that may be offensive to modern readers. 4/5

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  1. Fer-de- Lance by Rex Stout (mystery) 5/5 I would own this.
  2. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death #1 in a series
  3. Lady Molly of Scotland Yard by Baroness Orczy (audio version. Short story collection on YouTube) 5/5
  4. On Skein of Death by Allie Peter #1 (audio version)
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91: The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. Historical novel about Alexander the Great. 3/5

92: Written in Blood by Caroline Graham. Midsomer murder mystery. 4/5

93: The Late Monsieur Gallet by Georges Simenon. Maigret mystery. 4/5

94: The Tragedy of Liberation by Frank Dikotter. Historical work about the Chinese Communist Revolution and the aftermath. Absolutely horrific, but meticulously researched and verifiable. 4/5

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95: Death in Holy Orders by PD James. This is a Dalgliesh mystery. I found the setting very well done but the plot was frankly over-complicated, the resolution unconvincing and overall I wasn’t impressed. 2/5

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98: A Hero Born by Jin Yong. First volume of an epic fantasy series that apparently outsells Tolkien and Harry Potter in the Chinese speaking world. Sorry, but I found it tedious at best, and ridiculous at worst. I’ve read quite a few Chinese epics (Journey to the West, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber, Story of the Stone, Outlaws of the Marsh) but this was the first I really could not enjoy at all. 1/5

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99: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. This is a science fiction classic collection, which I hadn’t read in many years. I have to say I was shocked. Bradbury’s writing is very poetic but I was amazed at how terribly these have dated. Bradbury was a liberal in his day, very much on the side of the Civil Rights Movement, but honestly the attitude he displays towards black people is incredibly offensive and patronising. I can’t even put it down to him trying to depict contemporary racism, because what he gives the racists to do and say is even worse. And the misogyny and contempt he shows for women is nearly as bad. I always try and accept writers as a product of their time but these stories are a bit too much for me. And when I think of the criticism launched at authors like Twain and Lovecraft, writing decades before Bradbury, and whose writing never comes close to the nastiness of these, it does make me a bit mad. Sorry, rant over. 1/5

100: Funeral Games by Mary Renault. Last of her Alexander the Great historical novels. 3/5

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101: Spectral Sounds edited by Manon Burz-Labrande. Another British Library Tales of the Weird collection, themed around aural visitations. Very good selection, no duff ones and some very good ones. 4/5

  1. Observations by Gaslight by Lyndsay Faye
    I really enjoyed this one. I thought the author stayed true to the original characters personalities. I would own this book.

  2. The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray I enjoyed this as an audio book. It was not the book/story I had seen as a BBC drama.

  3. Knit or Dye Trying #2 by Allie Pleiter

  4. Thunder Mountain by Zane Grey
    This is in my personal library. He did such a great job using words to paint a picture of where the characters are that I really do feel as if I am there with them as they go on their adventure. Action, adventure, mystery, romance and history all rolled up into one book.

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102: Faithful Unto Death by Caroline Graham. Midsomer mystery. 3/5

  1. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells This was great as an audio book. I do own this one in a set, but had never read it.

  2. The Lone Ranger Traps The Smugglers by Fran Striker 5/5
    I bought this used at an old book store in Placerville, Ca. It reads just like a Lone Ranger show. Wikipedia has a great write up on this author and his many works.

  3. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick 5/5
    Absolutely love this book. The format is amazing. The story (words) are located in between pencil drawings. But…you do not feel like you are looking or reading a little kids book. The art is amazing and the story is a sound one. One where you are fed details as you need them, and by the end of the book all the details are neatly tied up.

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103: The Night Wire edited by Aaron Worth. Another British Library Tales of the Weird collection, themed around media devices like phones, cameras, tv and telegraphs. A couple of not so great stories in this set, and one very familiar one (The Testament of Randolph Carter by HP Lovecraft, but it is a great story so I don’t mind), but there are some really good ones and again I have new authors to follow up on. 4/5

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104: Gin and Daggers by Jessica Fletcher / Donald Bain. Mystery starring and ‘written by’ the heroine of Murder She Wrote. 3/5

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105: The Greek Myths by Robert Graves. A scholarly catalogue of Greek mythology, with commentaries on the possible origins of the stories and their meaning, and how they link up to other mythologies. It’s a bit of a grind to read, and sadly a lot of the theories are now thought to be completely wrong. 3/5
106: London by Vic Lee. Coffee table book of illustrations of various London thoroughfares like Soho, Portobello Road etc, with brief stories about them and the origins of their names. Most of the stories are admittedly not true, and some of the fonts are really hard to read, but it’s entertaining enough. 3/5

107: The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. Rich, intriguing fantasy tale. At first I thought I had picked up another unmarked sequel, but I stuck with it and everything became clear. 4/5

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108: Man Walks Into a Bar edited by Stephen Arnott and Mark Haskins. Collection of what can best be described as Dad jokes. 2/5.

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