I’m not entirely sure how but I seem to have read 28 books in January. That’s slightly embarrassing as it’s very nearly one per day. It might have made it to that too, if I hadn’t put the brakes on during the last three or four days and stitched instead. In my defense, several of them were under 300 pages and some were even under 200. One was a kid’s book and I had a run on cosy mysteries, which are nice quick reads. Still, 28. That is definitely a record.
Oddly enough, the last record I set was during a January. Maybe I just read more when it’s cold. Yeah, that’s it.
The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse – Leann Sweeney
This is one of the books that was in the huge box sent to me by Tree. This morning I just felt like a cosy mystery and this seemed perfect. I really enjoyed it. The main character was really sweet and I loved her obsession, sorry – passion, for cats. There wasn’t a terrific amount of action going on, but it was a lovely change of pace from some of the other books that I’ve been reading. I adored the ending. The only problem is that the book has reminded me that I still want a Maine Coon. I really miss having a cat around the place.
Dead Witch Walking – Kim Harrison
I’ve been meaning to take a look at Kim Harrison’s books for a while and when I spotted the first Rachel Morgan book free for Kindle download, I took full advantage of the offer. I’ve since snapped up the next four for 99p each during the Twelve days of Kindle so I was really, really hoping that I liked this first one. And, as I now had five books in the series, I thought it was time I started reading. Happily, I did indeed enjoy this and I’m now looking forward to the others. I liked the characters, especially Jenks and his family. I liked the whole idea that the story was based around, especially the thing with the tomatoes. I liked the way that the vampire/witch/were thing wasn’t over done. I think I may be reading the next one soon.
The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene
I really enjoyed this one. I like Greene’s writing. He gives you a real flavour for the country and the people without waffling on endlessly. I liked the piece of misdirection around the events at the banana plantation. You think you know what happened there given the limited information supplied. At the end of the book you realise what must have happened which is completely different. As for the priest, he claims to be a coward but he turns out to be merely human in the end.
(Country hopping challenge – Mexico, 1001 list)
Secrets – Jacqueline Wilson
I needed to read a children’s book for Kell’s Genre challenge this month and I had this one handy for the Big Read challenge so I thought it’d do nicely. I have to admit that I’m rather enjoying these books. They’re nice for a bit of mental relaxation now and then.
(Genre challenge, Big Read)
The Kingdom of the World – Alejo Carpentier
This was set in Haiti around and just after the time of French colonialist rule. It was quite a brutal book and packed quite a punch for something so short. It dealt with slavery and Voodoo and superstition. It was quite bizarre in places and quite disturbing in others. An interesting book but I have to admit that I’m glad it wasn’t longer.
(Country hopping challenge – Haiti, 1001 list)
Annie John – Jamaica Kincaid
This was a coming of age book with a bit of a difference as it was set in Antigua. The story is told from Annie’s perspective as she grows up, goes to different schools and becomes a young lady. It’s well told and you get a flavour of life on Antigua, at least from the point of view of a schoolgirl. I liked Annie and enjoyed this book.
(Country hopping challenge – Antigua, 1001 list)
After the quake – Haruki Murakami
This was a selection of short stories, each one set just after an earthquake in Kobe. That was the only link between the stories as each one had a different setting and different characters. All the stories were quirky in their own way, just as you’d expect from Murakami and I enjoyed them all. My only reservation is that with a couple of them, I really wanted them to carry on as I felt I needed to know more. Otherwise it was a lovely little book.
The gravedigger’s daughter – Joyce Carol Oates
A couple of years ago I read Black Water by this author and was completely mesmerised by it. I went out and bought some more books by her with the intention of seeing if they could possibly be as good. Then I got distracted by other shinier books and have only just got around to reading this. Shame really as it was really very good. This was quite a chunky book at almost 600 pages but I was disappointed when it ended. I even read the author interview at the back to try and make it last a little longer. It didn’t have the same hypnotic feel to it as Black Water did, but it was beautifully written. At the end I was left feeling just a little bit emotional with the way the book ended. I was sad that it had ended, but at the same time I felt satisfied at the way it had finished. I don’t think I’ll be leaving it as long before reading the others on my TBR pile.
(Country hopping challenge – USA)
Fool’s puzzle – Earlene Fowler
This is the first in a series of cosy mysteries. Thanks to a combination of Amazon marketplace and (mostly) Tree, I have ten books altogether in the series so I was really hoping that I liked this. Tree recommended it so I was pretty sure that I would but you never can tell. Thankfully I did. I loved the main character, Benni. I can see I’m going to enjoy seeing what sort of mischief she gets up to. I liked being introduced to the rest of her family and friends and finding out a bit about her background and the place she lives in. I don’t think I’ve read much set in this part of California before so the whole Cowgirl bit was a novelty. These books look like fun.
Vanished – Liza Marklund
Those nice people at Transworld sent me this as I’d enjoyed The Bomber so much. I’ve done a separate review here.
(Country hopping challenge – Sweden)
Cutwork – Monica Ferris
I knew I’d be picking up three books from the library today so I didn’t want to start anything too chunky last night. I’ve got several of these cosy mysteries set around a needlework shop which are lovely quick reads so I started this before bed and finished it off this morning. This one saw Betsy pulled into a murder investigation again. She’s getting a reputation for proving people’s innocence and once again she comes up trumps. Lots of stitchy stuff along the way which is one of the reasons why I like this particular series.
Closely observed trains – Bohumil Hrabal
This is a slightly obscure little book that I wanted to read for the 1001 challenge. I was happily surprised to find that the library had it so I settled down to read it last night. It was an enjoyable read and also slightly quirky. It’s about an apprentice at the railway station in a small town in Bohemia during WWII. The book is quite short but it manages to tell you about the people working with Milos, about the problems that Milos has been having and about the events concerning some trains. It was a great read.
This is (obviously) a translation from the Czech. I don’t usually pay much attention to who has done the translation but the name jumped out at me in this book as it’s one that’s very familiar. Edith Pargeter. I saw that and thought it couldn’t possibly be the same woman that wrote the Heaven Tree trilogy and the Brother Cadfael books. The first of those under her own name and the second under the name of Ellis Peters, and all books that I’ve read and loved. So I googled it, as you do. And what do you know? It is the same person. For some reason that’s fascinated me, and tickled me, both at the same time. I’m easily amused, you know.
(Country hopping challenge – Czech republic, 1001 list)
Irish chain – Earlene Fowler
I was wondering what happened next to Benni so I thought I’d read the next one of the books that I have sitting on my shelves. This one was just as good as the first and better possibly as I already knew the characters from being introduced to them in the first book. Benni manages to get caught up in a murder investigation again, which I guess is going to be a theme in this series. This was a fun read and an interesting mystery. Great ending too.
Veronika decides to die – Paulo Coelho
This is set in Slovenia, mostly in a mental institution. Veronika takes some sleeping pills and ends up there. She was unsuccessful in her attempt at suicide but she is told that she has damaged her heart and has only a short time left to live because of that, probably less than a week. This knowledge and her interactions with some of the other patients changes her outlook on life.
I rather enjoyed this. It was an interesting read and quite thought provoking.
(Country hopping challenge – Slovenia, 1001 list)
Martin Eden – Jack London
I really enjoyed this. It was very different to the other two that I’ve read by Jack London but still a great read. Martin Eden is a young sailor who improves himself through books but ultimately is let down by people not believing in him for himself. The book isn’t subtle about the point it’s making, and it makes a good tale.
Crewel Yule – Monica Ferris
I couldn’t resist picking up the next one of these as they’re all lined up on the shelf and looking so tempting. In this one Betsy, Godwin and Jill are away in Nashville and are snowed in when there’s a terrible accident in the hotel. Or is it an accident? The trio investigates…
The truth about sharks and pigeons – Matt Phillips
This was a free download from Amazon and it sounded quite good. I thought it was worth a try as it was billed as being along the same lines as Douglas Adams and Tom Holt, two authors that I love. For a debut novel it wasn’t that bad. It was certainly humorous and nicely silly in places. I liked the characters, and I liked the idea. There were several giggle-worthy moments. My only real criticism is that it could have done with some decent editing. I’d definitely look out for the next book to see what Bill gets up to next.
The cat who dropped a bombshell – Lilian Jackson Braun
I haven’t read one of these for a while as I didn’t find the last one as enjoyable as have before with this series. I enjoyed this one much more though so maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind last time. I’d really love to live in Qwill’s apple barn, and with a couple of cats too. I wonder if they get decent broadband 400 miles north of everywhere though.
The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho
This was an enjoyable read. A stranger comes to a small village with a tempting proposition involving gold, theft and murder. The book is all about good and evil and I found it really interesting.
A dry white season – Andre Brink
It’s not often that I let a cup of coffee go cold but I managed to do it while reading the end of this book. It had me in its grip and I completely lost track of my surroundings while I had it in my hands. It’s set in South Africa and deals with one white man’s quest to put right the injustice of the murder of his friend’s son. The problem is that his friend is black and the son was murdered by the police and covered up. And this is South Africa in the 1970s. I love reading books like this. They’re entertaining and informative at the same time as although the novel is fiction, nothing in it has been invented.
(Country hopping challenge – South Africa, 1001 list)
Finders keepers – Belinda Bauer
I much prefer reading paperbacks to hardbacks so when a favourite author brings out a new book, I rarely give in to the temptation of getting it straight away. Occasionally I make an exception. This is one that I really wanted to read but knew wouldn’t be going into my permananent collection, so I reserved it at the library as soon as I could. I was handed a shiny new copy on Friday and read it the next day. I loved the first book that she wrote, Blacklands and read her next one as soon as I realised that it was out. That one, Darkside, was set in the same area and had some of the same characters in it but a couple of years on. This book follows on from Darkside with a gap of a few months and to get the most from it you really need to have read Darkside. You can read it as a standalone but it won’t be quite as good.
This one starts off with a teen girl being taken from a car in a car park. It grabs your attention straight away. The story flicks back and forth between the hunt for the person who’s taken the girl and the story of PC Holly who we know from the previous book. A lot of the characters are familiar this time. The same police team, the same villagers. It was a stunning read. Full of suspicion and fear on the part of some of the characters, bewilderment on others. A terrific ending too.
Embroidered truths – Monica Ferris
I think I’m getting an addiction to cosy mysteries. I can’t seem to leave them alone. Is this the fourth or fifth one this month? This one was great. Godwin is arrested for the murder of his lover and Betsy steps in to save the day. Good clean fun and a feelgood ending. A nice contrast to the darkness of the previous book.
Fiesta: The sun also rises – Ernest Hemingway
Considering this featured bullfighting, which is something that I find completely horrifiying, I actually really liked this book. I find that I can read about subjects that are distasteful as long as the writing is good, and I do like Hemingway’s style. I like his dialogue and use of italics to make you hear the emphasis on the spoken words. I enjoyed the interplay between the characters and I could picture everything so clearly because of the vivid descriptions. I maybe loved The old man and the sea a little more, but I did like this a lot.
(Country hopping challenge – Spain, 1001 list)
The Breast – Philip Roth
This was a very short book at less than 100 pages and it was extremely bizarre. You know I can’t resist anything like that, and I did enjoy this. It’s about a man who is transformed overnight into a giant breast. No, really. The book is written from the man’s/breast’s point of view. It’s funny but really very good at the same time. You have to wonder how he thought it up though…
A cold day for murder – Dana Stabenow
This is book one in the Kate Shugak series and was a free download from Amazon. I got it because it’s set in Alaska and as I’ve recently been there, I just fancied it. This wasn’t set in the places that we visited although it did mention one of them, but I did enjoy reading about other parts of Alaska as I’m still quite fascinated with it. Prudhoe was mentioned which rang a bell, and then I realised I remembered it from Ice Road Truckers. None of this is telling you much about the book though, is it?
It wasn’t bad. I enjoyed it as a quick read, but I possibly enjoyed it more because it was set in Alaska than because it had a riveting storyline. It was an interesting enough setting, a reasonable enough story but I’m not going to rush to buy the others in the series. Not unless they go on the free or maybe 99p list, that is.
Hit list – Laurell K. Hamilton
I was browsing my bookshelf to see what I fancied reading next last night. I couldn’t decide whether to read a proper book or something on my Kindle. (not that digital books aren’t proper books, but you know what I mean) I spotted Hit list sitting there all red and shiny. Now usually anything by this author doesn’t sit on my TBR pile. I get them on pre-order and read them straight away, so it was a very pleasant surprise and I decided it needed to be read immediately.
It was excellent. Her books started to get very adult for a while but this one was much more about the preternatural side of things and about advancing the storyline. I do like the way she’s been writing recently and I really enjoyed this one.
Freaks – Tess Gerritson
This was just a short story that I downloaded to my Kindle from Amazon. I like Tess Gerritson and have read quite a few of the Rizzoli books. This is the first one that I’ve read since starting to watch the TV series though so it was a bit odd but overall I enjoyed it. Short, sweet and slightly bizarre.
Bleak House – Charles Dickens
I’ve been reading this on and off for a couple of months and settled down to finish it this morning. It was a bit on the twisty-turny side but I really enjoyed it when I was in the mood for it. It wasn’t something that I could read all the time though, which is why I’ve been picking it up when I felt like it. It was great to be able to read a Dickens with sensible sized print, without yellowing pages, and without having to support a heavy hardbacked book. I love my Kindle.
(Country hopping challenge – England, 1001 list, Big Read)