The first month of the year already gone by, but one that proved to be a pretty good one reading-wise. In January, I read 11 books, including one picture book. Six of these were mysteries, three children’s books (one of which was a mystery), two works of translated fiction, and one nonfic volume. In addition, I also reviewed book 4 of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence, which I’d read in December. Here’s a quick recap!

The mysteries I read in January included Murder at St Saviour’s by Merryin Allingham, fifth in the Flora Steele series set in 1950s England, and this involved the murder of a curate (who later turns out to be an someone impersonating the curate). Flora who runs a bookshop and her friend/romantic interest, Jack Carrington, a mystery writer investigate. The Body in the Library is a Miss Marple mystery where Col and Mrs Bantry wake up one morning to find a pretty blond woman dead in their library, without the slightest idea who she is. Rumours begin to spread across the village and Mrs Bantry calls in the one friend she knows can solve it, Miss Marple, both to clear her husband’s name and of course, to enjoy ‘her’ murder! Bombay Monsoon by James Ziskin was set in India in 1975, amidst the Emergency declared by the then PM, Indira Gandhi. A journalist, Danny Jacobs arrives in the country looking for a challenging assignment and gets sidetracked when he falls in love with a neighbour’s partner. But soon enough some of the stories he’s been pursuing start to turn dangerous for him, and he must act to save his life.

Brouhaha by Ardal O’ Hanlon is set in small town in Ireland after the Troubles, but where its shadows still remain. When Dove Connolly, whose girlfriend had disappeared mysteriously ten years ago commits suicide, his friend Philip Sharkey who’d left town at the time returns, and with the garda in charge of the case Kevin Healy and journalist Joanne McCollum must solve the clues Dove left behind. Misfire is the second in the Kate Downey mysteries by author and anesthesiologist Tammy Euliano, who along with her eccentric and fun Great Aunt Irm and friend/romantic interest Christian O’Donnell must solve a puzzle behind AICD (automatic implantable cardioveter defibrillators) devices which have been misfiring causing patients’ hearts to stop!

Among the two volumes of translated fiction I read was Saha by Cho Nam-Joo, set in a dystopian but not futuristic space where a town has been taken over by a corporation and is now run by a mysterious set of ministers. Citizens are divided based on wealth (and relatedly education) and the poorest and misfits confined to a delipidated township on the outskirts, Saha. Using the murder of a town resident who was in a relationship with a Saha resident as its starting point, the book explores the lives of various inhabitants of Saha. An interesting premise and structure but the book left a few too many questions unanswered. Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov on the other hand, also unconventionally structured explores the story of a beekeeper, Sergey Sergeyich who lives in a small village in the grey zone between Ukraine and separatists. Though his life in the village and journey he takes into Ukraine and then Crimea with his bees, we get a glimpse into lives and people caught in the Russia-Ukraine conflict which dates longer back than one realises.

In children’s fiction, I read the very cute, The Black Cat Change Up by David A Kelly in which two children attending a baseball match at the Met stadium in New York stumble on a mystery where team members are being haunted by a black cat. A book which I could enjoy though I know nothing of baseball. Jirvania by Jan Anderegg takes us to a magical world where one can read and enter any story ever written. When stories and imagination fall under threat though, our protagonists must save this world. Finally Hedy Lamarr, a picture book from the Little People, Big Dreams series by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Maggie Cole provides an introduction to this fascinating actress and inventor, who was behind technology that our GPS, bluetooth and wifi systems use today

The only nonfiction book I got to was The Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten, the third volume of memoirs by Canadian veterinarian and author, Philipp Schott reflecting on his cases, interesting patients, life and training and also some issues of general relevance. Written with humour these were an entertaining and heartwarming read even though there were a few heartbreaking episodes as well.

So that was my January reading which I was pleased with both in terms of the books I read, and also with the fact that I was able to tackle some of my rather long review copy backlog. I wasn’t as planned able to pick up books I wanted to for Japanese Literature Challenge 16, which I hope to get to in February while also picking up some reads for Karen and Lizzy’s #ReadIndies event.

This month, the meme Shelf Control which celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBRs, created by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, shifted base here to Literary Potpourri, and will appear as always every Wednesday. I wasn’t able to update Keli Cat’s Book Corner as much as planned, but the page does have quite an extensive catalogue, reviews and articles on books with cats with them!

How was your reading in January? What books would you recommend?

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16 thoughts on “Reading Wrap Up: January 2023

  1. Really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on Grey Bees (I clicked through to your full review as well which I managed to miss earlier!) It’s a book that’s been on my TBR for ages and I really want to read. I almost picked it up last year, but I’d just read ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ which has some similar themes in terms of migration from conflict (not to mention… bees!), and I felt not quite emotionally able to pick up another. Some of what you said in your review about it being enjoyable despite difficult themes has helped a bit with that though!

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  2. You had a great month of reading and read some wonderful books. I’m going to try and find one of Philipp Schott’s books at my library. I love animal books.

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  3. A good month of reading, and I hope you get some good ones in for #ReadIndies! I had a good January, with quite a few excellent reads, Osman Yousufzada’s “The Go-Between” maybe being the standout.

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  4. Quite a lot of variety there, not to mention volume. I only finished 6 books in January but I take refuge in the fact that I was working my way through David Copperfield as well, which is as long as 3 or 4 of my usual reads. I’m putting Grey Bees on my Around the World list — it looks like something I’d enjoy.

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    1. Thank you πŸ™‚ The shorter lengths helped with the numbers. I think only one of my reads (Jirvania) was 500 pages; and of course I had a picture book as well. Grey Bees is wonderfully done. Hope you get a chance to read it soon!

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