Saturday, February 04, 2012

January Reading Round-Up

I had a great reading month in January! So many good books, it was really enjoyable! The list will be much shorter for February, as I have 6 books to judge for the RITA competition and that's all sooper seekrit. Now hang on to your hats, here's what I read in January and my thoughts:

UNVEILED by Courtney Milan. This is the first book of Courtney's I've read, and I had high expectations as I love Historicals (particularly Regencies). Initially I was very "meh". I just wasn't FEELING the characters. And part of that is because I read this right after reading After the Scandal by Suzanne Enoch, which I adored and thought was awesome with sauce. Anyway, as I went along, it got better. And better. And it didn't take long for me to really get into it and enjoy it a lot. So maybe, if I had to rank it, it wouldn't be a five-star like Enoch's book, but it would definitely qualify for a solid four-star.

Shifting gears, here's the first of the non-fiction I read this month: IGNITING THE THIRD FACTOR by Peter Jensen. It doesn't get very high marks from me, possibly not because of bad writing but simply relevance. It is about taking that "third factor"  - the something that is more than talent (nature) and fostering it (nurture), but the extra special something within people, tapping into it, and making them exceed expectations. There are a lot of olympic coaching anecdotes in here and I was interested because hey, what mid-lister doesn't want to shoot to the top of the best seller list? I think I was hoping there would be something in this book that would relate to that, but it just kept, well, misfiring for me. I know I had problems with Gladwell's Outliers, but it made more sense to me than this book. My husband says he is better in person than in the book, and a great speaker.

Next up, THE BIRTH HOUSE by Ami McKay. I've had this on my shelf for far too long, and simply put, it's a treasure. It follows one main character who becomes a mid-wife to the locals (having trained under the last midwife, who was, as the Cajuns call it, a traiteur). Set mostly during WW1, it takes place in the village of Scot's Bay in the Annapolis Valley region. I've been there, and the reference to going "down the mountain into Canning" was lovely to me. This is the same area where I've set my First Responders series.  The Birth House is all that literary fiction should be - well-drawn, likeable (and hate-able) characters, an engaging voice, wonderful setting that is as much a character as any person in the book, and a good ending. I really hate books that end in an unsatisfactory way, and that doesn't mean it has to be a happy ending either. But if I get to the end and it's "What's the point", and the point is there is no point, I get grouchy. I always end up feeling like the characters have changed and worked hard through the book and they deserve a decent ending. Anything else feels like the author trying to be clever and make a point that goes far beyond what storytelling should be...anyway, before I launch into a rant about THAT, let me just say this is a wonderful story well-worth reading.

LETTERS FROM HOME by Kristina McMorris was my favourite book in January. Letters From Home has a lovely story behind it - visit her page here on her site to read about it.

It's the story of a WWII infantryman and a woman he meets at a USO club. There's an instant connection, but she thinks he's really only interested in her glam friend, Betty. Besides, Liz is practically engaged. But Betty asks her to please write him a letter on her behalf, and when Morgan writes back, Liz knows she MUST reply. The problem is, he thinks she's Betty. And she doesn't know how to tell him she's not. The book also follows Betty's story as well as their other friend, Julia. Those stories are wonderful in their own right and I was particularly curious about what happened to Julia after the book ended. It's beautifully written, and the characters stay with you long after the book is over. It's like stepping back in time and yet the writing has a fresh, modern style at the same time.

There is a lot of home front stuff, but there are some scenes from the front as Morgan goes through the war, and if you're a fan of Band of Brothers you'll hear echoes of that through Morgan's experiences during the Battle of the Bulge. I'll confess tissues were required in a few places. It was my favourite book of the month, and I'm really looking forward to her follow up release, BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES, releasing later this month.

Next up is the other non-fic book I read this month: my friend and mentor Liz Fielding's LITTLE BOOK OF WRITING ROMANCE. It's a real gem, full of information for both novice writers and veterans alike. No lofty or intimidating terms, it’s got all the basic ingredients for a Happy Ever After. As I was reading it I had a lot of lightbulb moments about the story I was working on, and that's always a good thing.

And my final read for the month was THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. SO GOOD. It definitely lived up to my expectations and I'm really looking forward to the movie. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but once Katniss and Peeta are on their way to the Capitol, I was hooked. Tons of tension and stuff I didn't see coming, and a great ending that still left the door wide open for the next book. I am going to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay next, right after I finish my RITA books.

1 comment:

  1. A couple of these author I have not read in sometime but love their books. Thanks for letting me know about others. I love books and love reading new authors as well as my favorites.
    jrs362 at hotmail dot com