January Wrap Up

Courtyard Arch by Sung Kim

The best laid plans tend to go awry.  I think the best plan sometimes is no plan and to just go with the flow and see what happens.  Then again, the benefit of planning is you know what to expect.  So my plan to not buy anymore new books for at least 4 months.  Out the window within a week. However, the thought of not buying books made me think hard before adding to my stacks.  The majority were actually writing books including Julie Cameron's The Right to Write, Elizabeth George's Write Away and Writers and Their Notebooks edited by Diana Raab.   

I moved our big comfy chair into the corner of the living room and made myself a nice little reading and writing nook.  The cats are loving it, especially Melvin, who has been curling up in my lap more than ever.  Not part of the plan, but oh well.  *grin*  Back to the plan which was for January to read books set in or written by Japanese authors for our 52 Books Around the World challenge.  Books set in the 12th century for my Centuries challenge.  Plus since it is wintertime, books set in a winter setting or with winter, frost, ice, cold, or other synonyms in the title. 

I started off the year with An Antarctic Mystery by Jules Verne, which was set in 1839 Antarctic.   Last year, after reading The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe, I discovered Verne had written a sequel.  The captain in the story was obsessed with finding the survivors of Pym's story.  Poe's story was exciting and captivating, while Verne's story was cold and stilted, reading more like a travelogue. 

Moved on to Faith Hunter's latest in her Jane Yellowrock series, Black Arts.  Jane is a kick A** biker chick who is also a skinwalker and working as an enforcer for the vampires.  The story was action packed, non stop from beginning to end. 

After reading 1Q84 last year, decided to take on another tale of Haruki Murakami's, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. It was 600 pages and there were too many rabbit trails that didn't lead anywhere and too many unanswered questions. At the end I found myself coming online searching out answers and seeing what other folks were saying and about half felt pretty much the way I did. The other half - well loved it because it was Murakami. I loved 1Q84. Wind Up, while intriguing and interesting, and kept me reading, was a disappointment at the end. 

Soothed my soul with James Rollins' Ice Hunt. Like all Rollins stories, it was a thrill ride from beginning to end.

For my 12th century read, found the first volume in The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki.  While interesting and gives one a good look at the 12th century culture and romance in Japan, the lack of commas drove me completely crazy.

Decided I was ready to read Justin Cronin's The Twelve, but before I did, wanted to refresh my memory of what had taken place in the first book. I started skimming through The Passage and discovered I couldn't remember any of the story, so decided to reread it. It was better the 2nd time, since must have consumed it the first time, reading entirely too fast and missed a few things. Once I started reading it, didn't want to put it down. Cronin's writing is superb, he really knows how to paint a literary picture and pulls you into the character's world, taking you on an emotional ride. Looking forward to reading The Twelve

Finished off the month with Diana Rowland's latest in the Demon series - Fury of the Demon.  Excellent as always and one of those series I'll probably be rereading from the beginning.  Once started reading it, didn't want to put it down. 

It is interesting because in the last couple years, I have been reading at least 10 to 15 books a month. Reading is my escape so I tend to bury my head in books when things are stressful.   I think this is going to be a year of reading a  bit more slowly and deliberately, savoring rather than consuming.  Plus decided not to waste my time finishing books that don't grab me or are poorly written.  There were three I shelved due to poor writing.  

Like I was telling someone the other day,  I find it very difficult to enjoy a story, even a romping good one,  if the writing quality is lower quality or poor. Lower quality being a writer (James Patterson for instance) who writes at the 10th grade level and thinks the reader has absolutely no imagination.  Poor writing gets me every time, whether it be grammar or typos or just plain stupidity.   If the writing is stellar, I can forgive a less than stellar story, but it has to be at least interesting enough to keep me reading.  Does that make sense.   I'm also a very visual person, so if I can't dive into the story and see it, then forget it. Which is why I don't like blood and guts horror - can't handle it.   Some books are like well done paintings - in which you sit there, picking out all the nuances as well as enjoying the whole picture.  Others, an eclectic mess in which you sit there saying I don't get it.

Onward and Upward! Happy Reading!

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