February 2016 Reading Round-Up

Trying to stick to my resolution and read only from my TBR pile, but a few slipped through the net (in addition to the usual review copies).

Picture from mirabiledictu.org
Picture from mirabiledictu.org

TBR on the shelves:

  1. Andrew McMillan: Physical
  2. Petina Gappah: The Book of Memory
  3. Denise Mina: Gods and Beasts
  4. Klaus Vater: Am Abgrund (Es geschah in Berlin 1934)

Netgalley Guilt:

  1. Claire Vaye Watkins: Gold Fame Citrus – DNF
  2. Asne Seiersted: One of Us
  3. Simon Booker: Without Trace
  4. Jeanne M. Dams: Blood Will Tell
  5. Massimo Marino: Daimones (Part 1)
  6. Melissa Harisson: Rain – Four Walks in the English Weather
  7. Hideo Yokoyama: Six Four

Review copies sent by publishers:

  1. Karl Ove Knausgaard: Some Rain Must Fall
  2. He Jiahong: Black Holes
  3. Yusuf Toropov: Jihadi- A Love Story
  4. James Oswald: The Damage Done
  5. Kate Medina: Fire Damage

Slipped through the net:

  1. Amanda Jennings: In Her Wake
  2. N. J. Fountain: Painkiller
  3. Fred Vargas: Temps Glaciaires

Male/female ratio: 9 male/ 9 women and one not known

English language/translated (or foreign) ratio: 13 in English/ 6  translated

Many good reads this month, but the most unforgettable (and unsettling) book of the month: Asne Seiersted’s account of the Norwegian massacre in 2011.

As you may have noticed, I am also a little behind on reviews, because I’ve been trying to work, write and go skiing with children on holidays. On the days when they weren’t ill and demanding my attention, or else I was coming down with flu yet trying to concentrate enough to write a professional article. Reading, however, proved the perfect antidote to tired muscles and brains!

In terms of writing, I have not progressed much this month with the middle and end, but I have edited the opening of my novel, written a synopsis and found a (temporary?) title. I have also submitted some poems (and had one accepted), so it’s been a month of timid progress.

 

February Reading and Challenges Update

So yes, you may have noticed that I have fallen ever so slightly off the TBR Double Dare waggon this month (ahem! five books or so, without counting the ‘official review copies’). I am all for a combination of planning and serendipity, but this is ridiculous! I blame a conspiracy of libraries and reviewers/editors who are far too good at PR. So here is the summary:

Books from the TBR Pile:

Jenny Offill: Dept. of Speculation

Eva Dolan: Long Way Home

Eva Dolan: Tell No Tales

Tuula Karjalainen: Tove Jansson – Work and Love ¬† [Not reviewed because I want to write a feature on her, the Moomins, The Sculptor’s Daughter. She is one of my favourite writers and a great artist as well.]

avionbussiRead for Reviews:

Jean-Pierre Alaux & No√ęl Balen: Cognac Conspiracies (transl. by Sally Pane)

Pierre Lemaitre: Camille – the last in the Verhoeven trilogy, to be reviewed shortly on CFL

Michel Bussi: After the Crash – coming out next week, to be reviewed on CFL

Book Club Read:

Fred Vargas: The Chalk Circle Man (reread) – not my favourite of the Adamsberg series, as it’s the first one and has a lot of set-up, but still a quirky notch above the rest

Library Impulse Loans:

Karim Miske: Arab Jazz

partttimeindianSherman Alexie: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I don’t know why I don’t read YA literature more often – perhaps because a ¬†lot of it is derivative and too ready to jump onto bandwagons and second-guess the trends. This one rings so true and is heartbreakingly matter-of-fact. It also fulfills one of my North America slots for Global Reading Challenge, as I’d never looked at Native American culture before in a novel. The pain of living ‘between’ cultures, of never being fully accepted in either of them, the unsentimental view of the flaws of each type of lifestyle, yet plenty of humour and tenderness to temper it all: I loved it!

Hubert Mingarelli: La route de Beit Zara

Another book that meets my Global Reading Challenge requirements – this time for Israel/Middle East/Asia. Despite the fact that it’s written by a Frenchman.

Sold to me via word of mouth:

Kate Hamer: The Girl in the Red Coat

Twelve books, of which a third were from the TBR pile, a quarter for professional reviews and only a third snuck in unexpectedly… When I put it like that, it doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Seven of the books were by foreign writers, but six of those were by French writers. So perhaps I am swapping the comfort and familiarity of Anglo writers with Gallic ones?

Seven crime fiction novels. My top crime read of the month (which is linked up to the Crime Fiction Pick of the Month meme hosted by Mysteries in Paradise) was undoubtedly Eva Dolan’s¬†Long Way Home.¬†A multi-layered story with real contemporary resonance. But¬†Camille¬†came close for the storytelling momentum, while¬†Arab Jazz was excellent at showing us a less romaticised picture of Paris.

Anyway, next month will bring the huge, huge temptation that is Quais du Polar¬†in Lyon. How can I possibly not impulse buy books and get them signed by so many wonderful authors? Wish me luck…