Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reading Log, February 2009

Ah, February, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...


Well, that didn't take long. Edwin Teale wrote something along the lines of..."February is at once both the shortest and the longest month." I understand exactly what he means, don't you? Surrounded by February, cold, ice, snow, more cold, more snow, and strings of long, gray days punctuated by still more snow and sub-freezing temperatures, what else is there to do anyway, except huddle indoors and read?

Since I've been blogging and keeping track of what I read, I've noticed that I always seem to get a lot of reading done in February, although most of what I read this month is pretty mundane and forgettable. Kind of like the rest of the month.

So, these are the titles with which I occupied myself during this month (which is, blessedly, over).

The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan

I don't have much to say about this. It wasn't the book I thought it was going to be (what are the odds of two authors publishing books called "Cloud Atlas" and "THE Cloud Atlas" in the same year??????) So, I still have to go read the book I originally meant to read, and this one wasn't terrible, but it's hard to judge it fairly when it wasn't what I was expecting.

The Calico Cat by Charles Miner Thompson (Librivox audiobook)

This was strange. The story is well told, but it made me so angry. I was disgusted with one of the characters, and even though all comes right in the end, I would never respect anyone who did what he did. The story is meant to take place in New England, near the Canadian border, so the reader from Athens, Georgia made the whole thing a little weird for me. (No offense to anyone with a Georgia accent, but it doesn't sound like New Englanders.)

The Big Four by Agatha Christie

This was a Hercule Poirot mystery. My girls have suddenly developed a penchant for Christie, so I checked this book out of the library for them. Naturally, I had to read it, too.

Death of a Sinner by Rodney Quest

This British mystery was published in 1971 and in many ways is very dated to that era. It was one of the strangest books I've read in a long time--just weird on so many levels, it's hard to explain. But I'll try...

Why I didn't like this book:

A. Told in first-person narrative by the amateur detective (a rich lawyer), and I really did not like him at all.
B.Unbelievably one-dimensional portrayal of the women in the book.
C. Full transcripts of political interviews, with the exact words of the speaker transcribed like this:

Speaker #1: :::Question asked by speaker:::
Speaker #2: :::Lengthy answer, full of politically and emotionally charged rhetoric:::
(This goes on for pages, and it is completely aside from the story line.)

D. The book is written from an aggressive right-wing perspective. I would consider myself very conservative, but this was offensive and very anti-religious.
E. Incredibly implausible plot/motive for murder that involves Latin. Does it get any weirder?

I won't be reading anything else by this author, and it was about this time that I began to get rather desperate for something excellent.

Corduroy Mansions
by Alexander McCall Smith (Audiobook)

This was a very enjoyable serialized novel and I was sorry to see it come to an end.

Angel of Terror by Edgar Wallace (audio book at Librivox)

This is the sort of story that makes a good audio book--fast-paced, lots of suspense, and a good reader (although some of the accents were off). Rather implausible plot, I think, but fun to listen to just the same.

Mansfield Revisited by Joan Aiken

I love all of Jane Austen's books so much that I frequently read the made-up modern sequels. This was was fairly true to the characters and style of Jane Austen. Lots of Austen-esque moments reminiscent of different Austen books, too. Not Austen, of course. Who is? It was the kind of book that can be started and finished in an evening, which is funny when you consider that Mansfield Park is Austen's longest book.

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

This was the best book I read all month. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be one of the best for the year. I'd have to read a great many wonderful books to supplant it.

First Meetings (in the Enderverse) by Orson Scott Card
This was a reread when I needed something light.

Police Operation
by H. Beam Piper
(another Librivox audio book)

I wasn't very kind about Death of a Sinner, but I'll try to be nicer about this. I want to damn it with faint praise. How about this? If you don't have anything else at all to do, and you need to kill a couple of hours, listening to this story might be better than listening to nothing at all. Unless, of course, Venusian night-hounds on the loose from an alternate para-time universe have always been your passion.

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

This book deserves a post of its own, but since I'm doing this one, I haven't yet found the time. It was a very engrossing story, well-paced, and it was a pretty decent finish to the month of February.

I am currently reading six books--one non-fiction historical, one travel memoir, one biography, two novels, and a young adult book in Polish. It feels like a bit too much, but I hope that five of those books will appear on March's list as finished books. (I won't get the Polish one finished.) I finished 11 books in February. I don't really expect to keep up that pace, but in addition to the six I'm currently reading, I have another long-awaited title from Bookmooch that I want to read, and three more on their way to me now...


Oh yes, I must report on the progress I've made for my Worthwhile Reading Challenge. I could just say "not much," and that would cover it. I was going to finish The Ascent of Man by Bronowski, but I suspect my bookmark is pretty close to where it was at the end of January. I did read a little further in Szatan z siodmej klasy, my Polish book, but I'm still on chapter one, so it's not what you'd call phenomenal progress, either. I did notice, however, that I was reading a bit more smoothly or fluently, so I seem to be getting the hang of the author's manner of writing. Although written for young people, this is real literature, and it's more challenging to read than a magazine article


At 11:28 PM , Blogger Danielle said...

I really need to read Crow Lake--I got a copy through Book Mooch last year, and I keep hearing how good it is. I really liked The House at Riverton, too. Did you know she has a new book out, too (well new last year), but I've not read it yet.


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