Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Books of 2012 - January

When you see this list you are going to think that all I did in January was read. And you would be...not far off. See January (whether cold / snowy / icy or just dreary / mild / breezy) is a blah month after the excitement of December.

Plus, we all had our usual Winter Cold season start in January. None of us have been sick enough to go to the doctor but we also haven't been able to get all six of us to 100% health either. So: we read. A lot.

1.The Princess of Denmark. Fiction by Edward Marston. Series mystery. These mysteries are set during Elizabethan England and concern an acting troupe much like Shakespeare's own. This was not the best in the series but I've read them all and always enjoy checking in with the memorable characters.

2. The Color of Death. Fiction by Bruce Alexander. Another series mystery. This is the Sir John Fielding series. Sir John Fielding was a magistrate and helped to found one of the first professional police forces, The Bow Street Runners. This series of books is a fictionalized look at some of his exploits and the narrator is his (fictional) adolescent "right hand man". They are well constructed stories, although the mysteries vary in quality.

3. Connected: Christian Parenting in an Age of IM and MySpace. Non-fiction by Peggy Kendall. The problem with writing a book like this is that the technology you're talking about it out of date before the ink is dry on the page. These are issues that parents must confront today: what is the prevailing technology and how might it affect my children? There are some good suggestions here, I suppose, but the "just say no" parenting technique that I prefer was sadly neglected. (Her opinion being that teenagers are going to be messaging or making MySpace profiles no matter what.)

4. The Woman in White. Fiction by Wilkie Collins. Collins was a contemporary of Charles Dickens and this is sometimes considered one of the first mystery novels (and certainly one of the finest examples of early "sensation" novels). This is as dense as Dickens but I confess I had trouble putting it down, I just had to find out what happened next. I'll admit I was a little disappointed at the ending (my favorite character seems somewhat neglected). This is one of those books that's been on my shelf for a long time and I'm glad I finally sat down to read it. This one gets to stay on my shelf in view of future re-reading.

5. Embers. Fiction by Sandor Marai. Translated from the Hungarian. Atmospheric and rich but ultimately unfulfilled promise. This is one bitter old man reliving his life in one evening. There are no answers and, ultimately, the reader does not really care what happens to any of the characters because they are all cold and remote. This is one that I'd had on my shelf for a long time (see also #4, above) and it has lost its spot. I will not be re-reading this one.

6. Overture to Death. Fiction by Ngaio Marsh. As a pianist, I've got to say that I love how the piano was the murder weapon in this series mystery. Cold chills! Well drawn characters and fascinating detection.

7. Death of a Peer. Fiction by Ngaio Marsh. Series mystery but I didn't enjoy this one as much as #6 above. I think the readers are supposed to be charmed by the perpetually "hard-up" Lamprey family but I was not charmed. I wanted to slap some sense into any of the supposed adults in this family. Micawber-ism is not a sound financial plan for a large family. ("Something will turn up.")

8. Gaudy Night. Fiction by Dorothy Sayers. Series mystery. This is part of the Peter Wimsey series but it is primarily about Harriet Vane. The descriptions of life at Oxford are fascinating.

9. Entreleadership. Non-fiction by Dave Ramsey. How Dave does business. Practical advice meant for folks running their own businesses (whether large or small).

10. Smuggler's Moon. Fiction by Bruce Alexander. Another entry in the Sir John Fielding series of mysteries. The "mystery" in this one is not all that mysterious but it was still fun to read.

11. Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London's Jazz Age. Non-fiction by D.J. Taylor. Absolutely fascinating and inspired a lot of related reading.

12. And Only to Deceive. Fiction by Tasha Alexander. First in a series and I'm reserving judgment until I've read at least one more. I tolerated but didn't love the heroine, I didn't exactly enjoy the construct, and it was not as suspenseful as I wanted it to be. But the second book is already on my nightstand so there must have been something there to catch my attention.

13. As the Pig Turns. Fiction by M.C. Beaton. Series mystery. I certainly have a weakness for these British cozy mysteries. Agatha Raisin is a delight - to read about, that is. I doubt I'd like her if she were real.

14. Mrs. Tim of the Regiment. Fiction by D.E. Stevenson. Mrs. Tim is a delight, if often naive. Vintage British Fiction is one of my favorite genres and this is a nice example.

15. The Confession. Fiction by Charles Todd.The latest in the Ian Rutledge mystery series. I think this was one of the best in the series: no Meredith Channing (can't stand her) and, I think, less Hamish (ditto). The "voice in Rutledge's head" construct got old a while back but it didn't bother me as much in this book so I think it must have been less than usual. I will say, not to toot my own horn, that I figured out the bad guy rather early on in this one. Maybe that's why I liked it so well? (I actually told Philip, "In these British mysteries it's always the..." but I'll leave that part blank for you so you can figure it out for yourself if you read it.)

16. The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family. Non-fiction by Mary Lovell. This is one that was suggested by #11 above. These are six sisters (they also had one brother) born between 1904 and 1920. These are some of the most fascinating people I've ever read about. This book is a hefty 529 pages and I couldn't put it down. How and why these women were so brilliant, funny, obsessive, horribly misguided, willful, spoiled, neglected, brittle, devoted, flamboyantly public, intensely private, eccentric, relatively "normal" and so on (you could use almost any opposite adjectives you choose) is a huge subject but the author does a skillful job of presenting the evidence and making them live on (side note: the youngest sister, The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, is still living), without favoring one POV over another (several of the sisters wrote memoirs or novels about their family). This one inspired yet more reading (of which more in my February round-up).

17.The Wyndham Case. Fiction by Jill Paton Walsh. First in the Imogen Quy mystery series. I particularly wanted to read this series because the author has continued the Peter Wimsey series where Dorothy Sayers left off and I wanted to see how she wrote when the characters were her own invention. I liked this very much and will be reading more in the series.

18. Busman's Honeymoon. Fiction by Dorothy Sayers. No surprise here, I finished out the month with yet another series mystery (The Peter Wimsey / Harriet Vane series, in this case). One of my favorite parts of this book is that Bunter (Lord Peter's longsuffering servant) has plenty to do, unlike in some of the Wimsey books immediately preceding this one. I obviously read a lot of mysteries this month and that may be why I was not really impressed with the method or motive in this mystery.

There you have it: 18
Fiction: 14 (of which no less than 10 were series mysteries)
Non-fiction: 4

Book images in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Opinions are my own.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I promise to be candid and you can be too. Blogging is best when it's a conversation. Thanks for taking the time to read this post and respond. I enjoy hearing what you have to say.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.