Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Books read in January

January was quite an interesting reading month for me. Interesting because of the mix of fiction and non-fiction and also the mix of genres in the fiction... horror, crime and science fiction... all big favourites of mine of course.

Let's start at the very beginning (now which song does that come from?) with:

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. The last of her Twilight series and a much maligned series it is. I liked them. I will not, as some do, be rereading and re-re-reading... I'm happy that I've read the series and also happy to cross it off my (too long) series list. I will just add that I thought Breaking Dawn was by far the best of the four books and I thought it a cracking good read.

Wait For Me! by Deborah Devonshiire. My review is here. Loved it.

At Winter's End by Robert Silverberg. My review is here. A really excellent sci-fi read.

In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor edited by Charlotte Mosley. My review is here. Adored it.

I'll just add a few words about my last two books of January.

Presumed Guilty by Tess Gerritsen is not one of her Rizzoli and Isles books, it's a stand-alone that she wrote for MIRA a few years before she embarked on her famous series. Miranda has been having an affair with her newspaper editor boss. She decides to finish it but he won't leave her alone. He calls her one night to say he's coming over so she leaves the house. When she returns he's lying dead on her bed having been brutally murdered. The prime suspect is obviously going to be Miranda. Bailed by persons unknown she, along with the murdered man's brother, sets about finding the murderer and clearing her name. This is one of those pageturners. Wonderfully readable, pacey to the point of a headlong gallop, I loved it. It was full of suspense, yes the characters - especially the hero - were a bit Harlequin/Mills and Boonish, but that doesn't worry me if the story is engrossing and it was. I also loved the very strong sense of Maine where the story is set so will be adding this book to my American states challenge. I'll also be picking up more of Gerritsen's stand-alone books when I spot them in the library.

I picked up Fete Fatale by Robert Barnard a couple of years ago after Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm reviewed something by him and said how good it was. It wasn't this book as far as I remember. Anyway, this one involves Helen, the first person narrator, who is happily married to the local vet, Marcus. They live in Hexton-on-Weir, a town in Yorkshire and it's a town which the couple have observed is ruled by women. realised that the dominant tones that you heard were female. It was a woman laying down the law to a shopkeeper, a woman who was haranguing a police constable in the square about dog shit on the pavements, a woman who was exchanging heavy pleasantries with the tea-shop proprietor. And these dominant tones were a sort of Middle-class lingua franca, with only occasional notes of Yorkshire.

All this makes for an awkward atmosphere when a new vicar is apponted and it turns out he is a celibate by choice. Certain women take against this as they believe a vicar should be married, plus it smacks of Catholicism, and they start a campaign of trying to force him to resign. Things come to a head during the church fete when someone is murdered. I'm not saying any more than that as the murder victim was a shock to me and it should be for anyone reading this for themselves. I thought when I picked this up that it was a 'cozy' crime book, and it certainly does have many elements of humour. But there is also quite a dark streak running through this book, human nature sharply observed and some of it thoroughly unpleasant and very true to life. I thought the characterisation was spot on and all of it beautifully written. Highly recommend this to crime readers who maybe want something a little bit different. I loved it.

So here we are in February already. Before you know it it'll be Christmas again. (I'm only half joking.) I'm not sure what my reading plans for this month are. I've just started a book of Victorian vampire stories and will probably choose something else to read alongside it. The only book I really must read this month is Doomsday Book by Connie Willis but only because I want to include it in my list for Carl's Sci-fi experience. Other than that I think I will just please myself. Happy reading!



DesLily said...

I think you did really good! I started off with a bang and am ending crawling lol.. anything Dickens slows me horribly! I can only read a short amount at a time his writing overwhelms me but I do like the stories and characters! (not as much as Wilke's writing though) Anyway... I am not pushing to read more than what comes...

you on the other hand are just sopping up books like a sponge!! That's my sis!!

Anonymous said...

I had a good January as well - 10 books. Very pleased with that number and hope to continue the pace throughout the year.

I've not read very many of Tess Gerritsen's standalones. However, you might try GRAVITY. I don't have that one my list as to when I read it, but I know I did. A little sci-fi in it. Haven't read any Robert Barnard, but I'm intrigued. I'm sure I must have read Nan's review as well. Must see what I can fine by this author.

Jo said...

A mix of books this month. I have not done too bad for January and certainly going to
Be hooked by the Tess G books.

Nan said...

Aren't you amazing to remember I wrote about a Barnard book!! It was The Skeleton in the Grass:

I just read my report again, and boy, did I love that book. I don't think I'd like this one so much. I tried another of his years ago, and couldn't finish. It had the same sort of darkness you noted here. It was Out of the Blackout.

He has really written a lot of books. Fantastic Fiction, that fantastic website lists them:

TG, btw, is too dark for me. Funny how I can handle some dark things but not others. I don't know why. :<)

Kailana said...

I know! Where did January go???

GeraniumCat said...

I haven't read any Barnard for years but that one sounds good - a bit Midsomerish in conception, but not so much in reality, perhaps?

monix said...

I hope you won't mind adding an extra book to your TBR pile, Cath. You won the book in my draw so let me have your details to post it.


fiction-books said...

Hello Cath,

I really enjoy Tess Gerritsen and have loads of her books on my shelves, as my father also reads and enjoys her stories and passes them on to me.

Now you have whetted my appetite to get stuck in and read some of them, although I seem to be getting a steady stream of authors contacting me for reviews which is nice, so I have been concentrating on those for a while now.

I am getting to read a whole new set of genres and great storylines, by mostly new and fledgling authors, which although they make take me out of my comfort zone, deserve to receive a fair and honet review.

I hope that your reading in February is as successful and satisfying as it was in January.


Cath said...

Pat: What I liked most was that I enjoyed everything I read - the non-fiction especially.

Kay: I'll keep an eye out for Gravity, the library didn't have it today but thanks for the rec. I *did* find another book by Robert Barnard... wonder if it'll be as good as Fete Fatale.

Jo: Be careful... Tess Gerritsen books are really easy to get hooked on. LOL.

Nan: I don't know how I remembered that. I didn't remember which book it was though. Weirdly Skeleton in the Grass turned out to be the book I most fancied when I checked Fantastic Fiction for him. Rather a coincidence. Annoyingly my library does not have it. I'll go and read your review in a moment.

Tess Gerritsen is *very* dark in her Rizzoli and Isles books but Presumed Guilty was not like that.

Kelly: Scary isn't it?

GeraniumCat: I don't watch Midsommer Murders so I can't judge but the amount of black comedy in Fete Fatale makes me think it's not at all the same.

Maureen: Oh lovely, I'll be in touch.

Yvonne: How nice to have loads of Tess Gerritsen books on your shelves to get your teeth into!

Susan said...

Happy reading back to you! I think you made up for not reading over the holidays! I did well too, 9 books read in spite of the week lost to the drugs as I recovered from the surgery.

Now to wait for your thoughts on Doomsday (I hope you like it!) :-)

Cath said...

Susan: Hopefully I can fit Doomsday in before the end of Feb. Depends a bit on how the mood takes me... you know what it's like? LOL.

I think the fact that you got nine books read in Jan with all that was going is nothing short of a miracle!