January for me was partly about tacking the oldest (well, some of) books on my TBR pile, in addition of course to reading some of the books that I had from NetGalley. I got off to a fairly decent start this year, with eight books completed and a little way into book 9.
So, to start off with, the four NetGalley books I read this month. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa was the first in a series of a Japanese-inspired fantasy. Yumeko (a half yokai, who can turn into a fox) must set off on an adventure with an assassin of the Shadow Clan, Kage Tatsumi to protect a scroll that the monastery she was brought up in was protecting. This was a fast-paced adventure, light-hearted despite the battles and bloodshed, and with folklore elements that I really liked. (my full review is here). Next was a graphic novel for children Blissful Land vol 1, which I picked up essentially because of its setting–eighteenth-century Tibet. This is a gentle story about a young boy, a doctor in training, who comes home one day to find some guests in his home, one of whom turns out to be his bride-to-be. The story gives us a peek into daily life for a family in Khang Zhipa’s position as it would have been, what they did, what they ate etc., and was a really gentle pleasant read. I loved the artwork, especially the clothes. (my full review is here).
Then I read Murder at the Museum by Lena Jones, second in the series of children’s mysteries featuring Agatha Oddlow, a young school girl, who is also undergoing tests to join the gatekeepers, a secret organisation that keeps the country safe. Alongside she also solves mysteries; in this one the murder of a staff member at the British Museum, which seems to have no motive. This was fun and cute, and rather Sherlock Holmesy. (My review). Finally, I read Maddy Alone by Pamela Brown, the second of the Blue Door series of a group of children who want to go into the theatre and set up am amateur theare company of the own. In this, the older children have gone to drama school while poor Maddy, now twelve, is alone attending regular school. But life has an adventure in store for her when she finds herself the star of a movie. Find my review here.
NetGalley-wise things went well, and I finished all the books I’d planned. Other than these I’d picked six books to fit my theme ‘Oldest First’ or the oldest books on my TBR (January plans here), and on those I haven’t done as well, though not too badly either. The three books (from the list) that I did get read were these: One was Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, the story of the naughty puppet boy, who has to learn the hard way what it takes to be a good human child. This was a really fun read and though a touch preachy (on how one needs to be obedient and such), it also surprised me since it wasn’t simply about Pinocchio telling lies and his nose growing long. There’s plenty that’s imaginative and fun, and Pinocchio gets into loads of trouble, which it is interesting to see him come out of (review here). This was my Children’s Book of the Month.
Also as planned, I read Murder in Foggy Bottom by Margaret Truman, one of her Capitol Crimes series, where what seems to be a random killing in a park in Foggy Bottom, turns out linked with more serious events, with reporter Joe Potamos, and agent Max Pauling investigating the cases. This was an enjoyable entry in the series with plenty of characters we’ve met before in her books, and a focus on the politics and diplomacy that are at play even when security is in issue (full review here).
The final ‘planned’ book that I read was Twice Shy by Dick Francis. Set once again in the racing world, but this time connected more with events on the sidelines–the betting in particular–rather than the actual racing action. This was different from the usual Francis books since it was two connected stories rather than one whole novel. Not my favourite but still an enjoyable and fast-paced read, with some characters that I definitely liked. (review here).
I’d planned to pick up Common Sense by Thomas Paine also this month but then noticed that one of the groups I’m part of on goodreads was reading Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford. Since this was one on my Pile already, and also one that did fall among the oldest ones on my TBR, I picked this one up instead. This one, the story of Noel Foster, who comes into a small legacy and decides to marry an heiress for a comfortable life, poked fun at the author’s Brother-in-Law (to be), leader of the British Union of Fascists, here the Union Jackshirts (somewhat on the lines of Wodehouse’s Roderick Spode and the Black Shorts) and also at her other sister Unity, and was the cause of some rift with her sisters. This was a fun read, had many Wodehousian moments, but wasn’t my favourite Mitford. (full review here).
Finally, the last book I’d planned to pick up this month was Poland by James Michener, the oldest one on my pile. I have started this–the history of Poland told through the story of a fictional village and family, but with real historical events and characters–but am only about 300 pages in at the moment. Am enjoying it, and will continue to read it but this will finish only in February.
For February, I have a pile of four books once again from NetGalley, which I plan to pick up–The Porpoise by Mark Haddon, Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay, Golden Pavements by Pamela Brown, and A Country Rivalry by Sasha Morgan. The Mark Haddon from the description sounded to me a little like the Tempest (a version of it) though I could be wrong; Ever Alice follows Alice back to wonderland at age fifteen; Golden Pavements is the third in the Blue Door series (after Maddy Alone which I mentioned above); and A Country Rivalry is life in a beautiful Cotswolds village when a documentary film crew lands up there.
As for my ‘theme’ this month, I’m picking a genre really, Historical Mysteries, and am planning to read four books (since I still have Poland as well)–Sovereign by C.J. Sansom, the third in the Matthew Shardlake series, One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters (mentioned in my October book shopping post here), from the Brother Cadfael series, Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (mentioned in a Shelf Control post here), from the Flavia de Luce series, and A Murder on Malabar Hill (also published as The Widows of Malabar Hill) by Sujata Massey.
How was your reading January? Any highlights that you’d like to share? And what (reading) plans for February. Looking forward to hearing all about them!