Thursday, March 2, 2017

What I've Been Reading: February 2017

I was gearing myself up to write this post and thinking that I really hadn't read all that much this past month. February is a short month, after all, and I was a little under the weather and not in a reading mood for a few days in there (that's how you know I don't feel well!), but it turns out I'm ahead of myself for my 2017 reading challenge!

The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George. This was a reread for me, as I was brushing up for my February book club meeting. I loved it just as much the second time around--there's something that resonates so deeply with me as a bibliophile. You can read my initial review here.

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. This bestseller has been one of the most talked about novels in the last six months, so I finally managed to snag a copy for myself. The tale is one of Cora, a young slave making a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. Following her experiences with the Underground Railroad, her steps dogged by slavecatcher Ridgeway, her momentary safety in South Carolina giving way to insidious schemes, the novel was compelling and compulsively readable. Highly recommended, especially for book clubs.

The Fifth Letter, by Nicola Moriarty. If you're looking for a fast read in the vein of other popular novelists like Liane Moriarty or JoJo Moyes, consider picking this up. (How fast? I read it in an afternoon, totally unwilling to put it down for any reason.) Four friends who were inseparable in high school are losing touch as adults. Relationships, jobs, and children are dragging them further and further apart. Joni feels it's her responsibility to keep the four together and relentlessly organizes their annual getaway weekends together year after year. This year, however, is different. When a harmless game of "guess the secret" spawns a vicious fifth letter, Joni must uncover lies, hurt and secrets that have gone buried in her friends' lives for far too long.

A Killer Stitch, by Maggie Sefton. I'm steadily plugging along through this series, which is cozy as they come, centering around an amateur sleuth and her friends at a local yarn store in Colorado. Here, sleuth Kelly Flynn's circle of friends work together to clear the name of one of their group, who was the last to see her cheating ex-boyfriend alive. Fun for knitters and cozy enthusiasts alike.

Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan. I borrowed this via the Trumbull Library's access to our Overdrive ebook collection. At age 24, Susannah was embarking on a new and exciting new life: her own apartment in New York, a great job as a journalist with The New York Post, a new relationship. Until she wakes up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed, unable to move or speak. In the matter of a few days, she has gone from promising new life to being labeled a violent flight risk. This is the true story of her month of madness, her family's unflagging faith in her and in her medical treatment team, and of the lifesaving diagnosis that almost didn't happen. Shocking and awe-inspiring.

Echoes in Death, by J.D. Robb. NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband, multi-billionaire Roarke, on on their way home from a fancy gala event when a woman nearly runs out in front of their car. They take her to the hospital, and a check at the woman's home reveals that not only was the woman brutalized, but her husband, a well-respected if not well-liked surgeon, has been murdered. As Dallas and her team investigate, they uncover a link to two other similar cases, and now they must try to anticipate this accelerating serial's next move to save his next targets. This is definitely a strong entry in this long running and very popular series.

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman. Grossman's Magicians trilogy is being adapted for television (season 2 is airing now on SyFy), and since I'm a fan of the show, I thought perhaps I ought to go back and read the series. (A note: while the series is based on the books, there are a number of differences. Just a fair warning--liberties are taken.) This first in the trilogy is the story of Quentin Coldwater, a typical high school senior in Brooklyn who is hoping to attend Princeton the following year...until a very different opportunity presents itself. Instead of boring Brooklyn, Quentin is transported up the Hudson River Valley to a school no one has heard of where he learns that magic? Is real. It seems like an answer to a life-long prayer, as Quentin has been obsessed with magic and fantasy for years. Except that everything is darker and more dangerous than he might have ever imagined. With nods to great fantasy authors from Tolkien and C.S. Lewis to J.K. Rowling, this is a great series kickoff and I'm looking forward to reading the next two books shortly.

Sugar Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke. I know, I can hardly keep up with the genre switches in this list either. I really am an omnivore when it comes to books! Book 6 in Fluke's Hannah Swensen mystery series finds Lake Eden preparing for the holiday season with the annual Christmas Buffet, which will showcase the final test recipes for Hannah's Lake Eden Holiday Buffet Cookbook. Until the recently divorced Martin Dubinski arrives at the buffet with his new Vegas showgirl wife--all wrapped up in glitter and fur. His ex-wife, however, seems as cool as chilled eggnog. And when Hannah's mother's antique Christmas cake knife disappears, its discovery in the d├ęcolletage of the new--and now late--Mrs. Dubinski puts the festivities on ice. With everyone stranded at the community center by a blizzard, Hannah puts her investigative skills to the test, using the ingredients at hand: half the town of Lake Eden--and a killer. Now, as the snowdrifts get higher, it's up to Hannah to dig out all the clues--and make sure that this white Christmas doesn't bring any more deadly tidings... All sorts of goofy fun, plus gooey desserts!

Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel. First in Neuvel's Themis Files series (the sequel, Waking Gods, is due out at the beginning of April). A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand. Seventeen years later, Rose is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to uncover the secrets of the hand, as she and her colleagues are interviewed by an unnamed interrogator who is chronicling their work. Equal parts mystery, science fiction and conspiracy yarn, this was reminiscent of The Martian and Station Eleven. Very highly recommended.

Nine books for the month! I'm aiming for 90 this year, total, and I'm currently on track with 15. If you'd like to track along with me (and a million and a half other readers worldwide), consider joining and tracking with me over at!

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