Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What I Was Reading: November 2013

I cannot tell a lie.  I really haven't been reading so much this past month.  I had eye surgery back at the end of October, and though I listened to several audiobooks while I was healing, I definitely read faster than I can listen!  Rest assured, my eyes are just about back to normal, and I'm back to reading more.  However, with the holidays come all sorts of other responsibilities and sometimes, well, I just feel guilty sitting down with a good book when I know there are so many other things I should be doing.  So my list for November is a little pitiful, I'm afraid.  And I'm not so sure December's going to be so much better, but we'll see!  In the meantime, here's what I managed to knock out last month.

Key of Valor, by Nora Roberts.  Third in the Key Trilogy (you can read my reviews for the first two, Key of Light and Key of Knowledge here), this wraps up the female trio's quest to obtain three magical keys and release three goddesses from a centuries-long curse.  Here, Zoe must confront a past she's tried to leave behind while also finally letting herself love again in spite of past heartbreak.  The trilogy as a whole was somewhat uneven.  Roberts excels at bringing together couples despite the odds, but the "magical" aspect feels sort of cumbersome.  I love a good fantasy story, but this feels a bit more clunky than fantastic.  Still a fan, regardless!  340 pages

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne.  Bruno is only nine years old in 1942, when his father receives a promotion to Commandant and a new assignment and the family must leave their home in Berlin and move to "Out-With".  Here, Bruno has no one to play with except his older sister (a "hopeless case"), although in the distance, there are people living on the other side of a barbed wire fence.  Lonely and bored, ignored by his busy father and distracted mother, Bruno goes exploring along the fence, which is where he meets a boy his own age.  Shmuel is very skinny and wears striped pajamas, and becomes Bruno's only friend.  Despite his youthful innocence, Bruno knows this is a friendship to keep secret from the rest of his family.  I won't give away the ending, but I will say that Boyne does an excellent job, both of conveying Bruno's child-like outlook on life as well as slowly building a sense of dread in the narrative.  This is billed as young adult fiction, but it resonated hugely with me and the other women in my book club.  Highly recommended. 215 pages

Songs of Willow Frost, by Jamie Ford.  You already know I couldn't keep it to myself, I loved it so much.  You can read my full review here.  Bonus, the audio is spectacularly read by Ryan Gesell.  331 pages

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, by Walter Mosley.  This is my book club's pick for our December book, and while the premise sounds somewhat grim, this is ultimately a story about hope and redemption.  Ptolemy Grey is 91, suffering from dementia and living as a recluse in his dilapidated apartment.  Then Robyn Small, a 17-year-old family friend, helps Ptolemy clean his apartment and put his life in order.  Reinvigorated by the changes Robyn has helped him make, Ptolemy volunteers for an experimental medical procedure that restores his mental clarity, but also shortens his already limited time.  Determined to make his choices count, Ptolemy aims to unravel the mystery of the recent drive-by shooting of his great-nephew, Reggie.  Unlike anything else I've ever read. 277 pages

Fallen Women, by Sandra Dallas.  I've long been a fan of Dallas's historical fiction, which have often featured strong women making the best of hard circumstances, often in unconventional ways.  This latest effort holds true to her style, and also offers readers a mystery, to boot.  It's 1885, and Beret Osmundsen leaves behind New York City and the mission she has run after the death of her parents when she receives a brief telegram from her aunt and uncle in Denver, stating that her estranged younger sister, Lillie, has passed away suddenly.  Unswayed by convention, Beret insinuates herself in the investigation into Lillie's death, which appears to have been murder.  What's more, Lillie seems to have run away from her aunt and uncle's home, where she had been staying, and was working in a house of ill repute at the time of her murder.  Beret is a very unexpected and endearing heroine.  I highly recommend this as well as Dallas's other work.  344 pages

So where does that leave me for my challenges?

November 2013
5 titles
 1,507 pages

Year to date totals
80/75 titles = 106%
28,856/35,000 pages = 82%

Can I read more than 11,000 pages between now and the New Year?  Somehow I doubt it, but I like a good challenge, and if I don't get it next year, you know I'll be chasing it next year.  Let's see how close I can get!

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