Taking the Challenge: Reading Adventures, January 2014

It’s one month into the Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge, and I’m already lagging behind. According to the website’s widget, I’ve read 6% of my goal of 50 books in 2014, which means I’m one book behind where I should be. Funny–January felt like a super-charged month for reading, but maybe that was December. My life’s a blur of ink and white space.

When I checked the site, I found that the Goodreads widget has miscalculated. I’ve read 5 books this year. Ahem, that’s 10%, if you please, so I’m a little ahead–if my calculations are right (which is, frankly, unlikely).

Here’s a quick run down of my literary adventures to date. Looks like historical fiction is the flavour of the month!

Murphy’s Law – A Molly Brown Mystery, by Rhys Bowen (Audio)

This is a series that I may return to one day, just to find out if Molly gets a man. The trouble is I’m not a great series reader. I tend to take a bite, savour, and move on rather than gorge myself on the whole banquet. Life’s short and there are so many books I want to read.

  • What Made Me Swoon: Molly’s feistiness, the hint of a love prospect, the time period and setting (turn of the century NYC)
  • What Made Me Yawn: Okay, Molly was feisty, but she had no choice. She was so naive she got herself into some big messes and constantly had to fight her way out. I got a bit tired of her late reckoning of the awful pickle she found (put) herself in.
4 STARS ****

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by–never mind, you know who it’s by

What’s not to love? It’s atmospheric from the first scene. The indisputable  horribleness of Harry’s family and his “bedroom” under the stairs is just endearing. How could you not root for this underdog? The only trouble I had with this reading was what I saw in my head was the movie version. I like my version better.

5 STARS *****

The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye: 5 Fairy Stories, by A.S. Byatt

I confess I didn’t read to the last page–but I did finish it in the sense that I read until I’d had enough. The rave reviews I read on this one misled me, and I feel annoyed. They said the eponymous fairy story was the best, and I disagree. It was a yawn–featuring a cast of pompous characters and seriously lacking in fairy tale flavour. The book’s other fairy stories were good, though. My new WIP is a fairy tale, so I thought this would be inspiring. I found it at a second-hand bookstore while we were on holidays.

3 STARS ***

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Audio)

If I read a better book in 2014 then this will truly be a year of wonderful reading. This is a swoon-worthy, rave-worthy book. Well researched, beautifully written, elegantly structured–everything you could want. Both characters, Sarah Grimke is a historical figure, an abolitionist and feminist in Antebellum South. Handful is the slave who was given to Sarah as a birthday gift. The two girls’ relationship over their lifetimes is compelling and heartbreaking. Both women were bound by culture, one in her mind, the other in her body. It is moving stuff.


Boxers and Saints, a boxed set of 2 graphic novels by Gene Luen Yang

I read Boxers, the first of two. I don’t think I’ve read a graphic novel before, but I totally enjoyed this one. The drawings are simple but more than enough to tell a rich story. The time period is pre-communist China, a time of incredible social upheaval. The “supernatural” elements in this telling made it very compelling. I’m looking forward to reading the next one, Saints, which looks at the story from “the other side.”

0 STARS until I finish Saints

Other reading endeavours…

I started a very sweet cosy mystery by Georgette Heyer, but I had to lay it aside for a while. I’d started working on a new writing project and the voice in this Heyer’s book was so strong that it was seeping into my work. I’ll go back to it because it’s witty and cute.

I dare say February’s tally will be dismal for a whole pile of reasons. I’ve gone back to work; I’m reading an old-fashioned slogger (a goody, but a slogger nonetheless); and I’ve got a new WIP, which really slows my reading down.

Watch this space for more monthly literary adventures!

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