Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What I've been reading: February 2012

I think I've finally rediscovered my reading groove!  After January's rather lackluster start to my reading challenges, I hit February with a vengeance and made up for lost time and pages.  I know I've mentioned before that I have a tendency to read across genres without any rhyme or reason, and going back to look at a list of books I've read makes this glaringly obvious.  Whatever works for you, I say.  On to the list!

The Innocent, by Taylor Stevens.  With some series, you can pick up a book mid-series and it stands alone very well, like The Chalk Girl by Carol O'Connell, which I reviewed earlier this month.  Unfortunately, The Innocent was not one of those books.  There was little recap or introduction of characters, and I kept waiting for clarifications that never came.  The story itself moved right along and was novel and interesting (survivors who escaped a cult go back to infiltrate the compound to rescue a girl kidnapped by the cult members years earlier), but I really spent the whole book going, "Who are these people??"  If I'd started with the first book, The Informationist, I might have been in better shape.  Someday, I'll have to go back and see if that's the case.  My only recommendation on this series is--start at the beginning!  331 pages.

The Thirteen Hallows, by Michael Scott & Colette Freedman.  A great if somewhat grisly kickoff to a modern fantasy series, The Thirteen Hallows follows ordinary bank clerk Sarah Miller from office drone to guardian of a powerful ancient artifact, battling to keep the world as we know it safe from evil.  Add a handsome sidekick, plenty of mystery, adventure and British legends, and an ending perfectly set up for a sequel, it is a great, quick read that feels fresh.  If you're a fan of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, or the Indiana Jones movies, I'd recommend you check this one out.  (Bonus, the audiobook is very well-read.)  349 pages.

Catch Me, by Lisa Gardner.  I may have mentioned that I'm a fan of Gardner's work, and this latest title is no exception.  A young police dispatcher with a troubled, and troubling, past contacts Boston Detective D.D. Warren and asks her to investigate her murder, which she estimates should occur by the week's end, on the anniversary date of the slayings of her two childhood friends, one murdered on the same day each of the past two years.  With the clock ticking, Warren tries to wrap up the two unsolved murders, a second case, a partnership with a rookie sex crimes cop, and a new baby.  The plot is full but fast, and Warren is at her hardest, funniest and most likeable.  That said, Gardner did seem to put a few challenges in her own path on this one, and while she handles them well, they seem more like nods to fans (fans reading this one will know just what I mean, so I won't spoil it) than integral parts of the story.  Still, Gardner retains her place among my favorite suspense authors with this one--very much recommended.  391 pages.

A Dance With Dragons, by George R.R. Martin.  I've tried to read this behemoth before, and was not equal to the task.  This time, I had a plan!  And with the second season of Game of Thrones only a month away (April 1!), I wanted to be in fine Westerosian fighting form.  For fans of the series, this installment follows the exploits of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targeryen, and Tyrian Lannister, among others along the same general timeline covered in book 4, A Feast for Crows.  Politics, intrigue, murder, greed, lust--these are the tools one uses when playing a game of thrones.  Now, to wait for book 6--write quickly, Mr. Martin!  1016 pages.

The Chalk Girl, by Carol O'Connell.  I know, I've been talking about this one nonstop for the best part of the last month.  If you missed my review, you can read it here.  373 pages.

Celebrity in Death, by J.D. Robb.  I make no secret that the Eve Dallas series, written pseudonymously by Nora Roberts, is among my favorite guilty pleasures.  Dallas, not normally a party-girl, is managing to have a good time attending a celebrity studded gala celebrating the wrap of a movie, The Icove Agenda, based on one of her famous cases.  It's eerie to see the actress who plays her, and might as well be her twin, but when the actress who plays partner Peabody winds up dead in the pool, Dallas is all business and on the case.  Another fast, funny entry in this futuristic cop series.  389 pages.

The Kitchen Boy, by Robert Alexander.  I got a jump on reading the title for my March book club meeting.  Carefully, deeply researched, this is the story of the last days of the last Russian tsar's family and of their murder, told by an ancient man claiming to have been the kitchen boy in the household.  Alexander has a great grasp of historical context, and gives a somewhat surprising take on the last royal family of Russia.  Highly recommended--can't wait to discuss this one!  229 pages. 

Ok, down to business! 

For February:  3,078 pages, 7 titles read

Total for the year so far:
4,604/50,000 pages = 9% complete
11/50 titles read = 22% complete

And as I'm looking at this, I'm realizing that I doubled the amount of pages compared to the number of titles in my challenge--mathematically challenged, that would be me.  So...in order to make this a real challenge (I'm a glutton for punishment!), I'm going to double the goal of titles read for the year.

The new stat is 11/100 titles read = 11% complete

How are you doing on your challenges?  I'd love to know!

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