Thursday, February 28, 2013

What I've been reading: February 2013

Is it weird that I consider a month with only five books read to be a slow month?  I don't want to sound like an overachiever, but if I'm trying to read 75 titles in 2013, that's about six books a month.  Ack, it's only February and I'm behind the eight-ball!

Touch & Go, by Lisa Gardner.  I really like Lisa Gardner.  I really, really do.  And every time I think she's outdone herself, she manages to surprise me and takes the next novel even further.  In her latest thriller, a perfect little family is kidnapped, but the ransom demand to investigators seems a long time coming.  Who would kidnap them, and if ransom isn't their angle, what would motivate such a crime?  Investigators are baffled, but kidnapping, it turns out, is only the tip of the iceberg.  So many twists and turns to this plot, I was more than a little impressed.  423 pages

The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan.  You already know what I think about this book.  Loved it!  357 pages

Here I Go Again, by Jen Lancaster.  Lancaster does not fall prey to the sophomore slump with her second work of fiction (she's well-known both for her blog and her series of memoirs, starting with Bitter is the New Black).  Instead, she turns the humor up to eleven in this mash-up (think Heathers meets Back to the Future), in which Lissy Ryder, one-time high school mean-girl, finds out what a bitch karma really is, in the form of her twenty-year reunion.  Those awesome golden days, apparently, were true only for her, and now it's time for her to fix things with her former classmates--big time.  It is rare that a book can make me laugh until I actually have tears streaming down my face, but in this instance, Lancaster really swung for the fences.  Something for everyone, because who can't use a little catharsis when it comes to reliving high school?  308 pages

Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan.  This is my book club's pick for our March meeting, and was a re-read for me, but somehow it's even more eye-opening this time around.   For sixty years, three acres of land in Maine, where the Kelleher family has a summer cottage, has been a retreat, a respite, and a giant bone of contention.  Now, in what may be their final summer on the property, three generations of Kelleher women converge with their own hopes and fears along for the ride.  Family matriarch Alice has more than a few regrets in her past, but one in particular has been a secret from her family for far too long, and the truth will out.  Kelleher-by-marriage Ann Marie is chronically frustrated by her life, and is finding rather unfortunate and somewhat eccentric outlets in the meantime.  Kathleen, the black sheep of Alice's children, has hated the cottage since her adolescence, and returns now against her will.  Finally, thirty-two year old Maggie is trying to find the right time to break the news of her pregnancy to her less-than-perfect boyfriend.   This is a phenomenal family saga, full of hope, sorrow and secrets.  I'm very much looking forward to the discussion on this one!  385 pages

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, by Jennifer Chiaverini.  Chiaverini, who is best known for her Elm Creek Quilts series, takes a departure from her normal series to write a stand-alone historical novel, and I just have to say:  Woman, what took you so long?  While the account of the friendship between First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, a freedwoman, is fictional, the research behind this novel is staggering.  In 1861, Keckley, who had made her reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city's elite, became the personal "modiste" to the First Lady, not only sewing for her but also dressing her for state functions.  It is Keckley's insiders view that is so distinct as readers follow the Lincoln family through the Civil War, culminating in Keckley's support of her friend after the assassination of the President. Told with vivid period detail and well-researched historical accuracy, this is one I highly recommend. 352 pages

February totals:

5 titles
1,825 pages

Year-to-date totals:
11/75 titles = 15%
4,205/35,000 pages = 12%

Looks like I may have to make up some time in March.  I'll be back next week with your first looks at new fiction coming out in April, so in the meantime, happy reading!

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