Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Book Chase February 2021 Reading Plan

 I surprised myself a little this month by sticking to my reading plan a lot closer than I normally do. Even though a whole lot of new books caught my attention, as they always do, this month I managed to hold most of them off for February reading. So of the eight books I highlighted coming into January, I read and reviewed six. One of the eight is being moved to February and one is being dropped for the moment. In addition, I did read four others not on the list, bringing me to a total of ten for the month. 

This is how February is shaping up:

Who Is Maud Dixon is an ARC that I'm reading right now. The basic story is that a young entry-level publishing house employee, unhappy with her life, manages to get a job as personal assistant to a famous author whose real identity is a well-kept secret. After the writer seems to disappear, the assistant decides to assume her life by becoming her. Intriguing, right? Well so far, I'm mostly bored by this "psychological thriller," and still hoping it gets better soon.

Scottish crime writer Denise Mina has been a favorite of mine for several years despite the fact that her prose style always seems to slow me down a little. It takes me longer to get into her rhythm than it does for many authors. This one is about a doctor who finds her birth family only to learn that her mother was murdered years earlier by what appears to be a serial killer. Now she has to decide whether or not she wants to work with her aunt - because the police won't do anything - to identify the killer.

Speaking of favorite authors, Elmer Kelton is my favorite western writer of them all. I didn't really plan to read Shadow of a Star right now, but my grandson was looking for a book report book, and I pulled this one off the shelf for him. It's a 1959 book of Kelton's I never got around to reading, but after flipping through it while telling my grandson what to expect, I decided to read it along with him. It's more a YA-level book, but I'm loving it already. Kelton has never disappointed me, so I'm not really surprised.

Chuck Wendig's Wanderers is one of those rare books that I learned about by browsing randomly on Amazon one day. That hardly ever happens because I don't usually "browse" Amazon, only going to the site to purchase something specific. Anyway, it's a 2019 pandemic book (I know...just what we need to be reading right now) that is really well-written. But I grabbed a library copy before noticing that the book is 800 pages long. Now the race is on to finish it before the library snags my electronic copy back for the next person on hold.

Anyone who has read my reviews for very long knows that I'm a huge fan of the Akashic Books noir series. So when I found out that the publisher was starting a new series of "speculative fiction," I was thrilled. And then I got really lucky by being offered an ARC of the very first volume of the new series, Speculative Los Angeles. As in the noir series, these short story collections will be set in various cities around the world. I'm hoping that by "speculative" the publisher means "alternate history" at least a little bit. This one will be published on February 2. 

As so much of my reading is, this one is the recommendation of another book blogger (Cathy at Kittling: Books this time) who reviewed another of the books in this eight-book series. It seems that the books are set in 1960s Texas, my own coming-of-age decade here, so I'm curious to see how Wortham handles that time period. This is the first book in the series, and it's a library copy, so the clock is ticking on this one, too. It features a "bald-headed pot-bellied" hero called Ned Parker. It sounds like fun, and I'm hoping it hooks me on the series.

This is the one I'm carrying over from my January list. It's an ARC for a book that won't be published until June 8, so there's really know hurry, meaning I probably won't be posting a review for a while. But it sound good, and I'm curious, so I do hope to read it in February.It's about triplet sisters, all very different people, who grew up in a little town whose water supply was declared "unfit" about the time they were born. Their mother wanted answers, but never got them Now the three sisters are determined to get them.

The Music of Bees is another ARC, this one set to be published in April. It is said to be "uplifting," and since we all need to be uplifted right now, it sounds pretty good to me. It tells the story of three grieving strangers, one woman and two men, who find their way to a local honeybee farm where they surprise themselves by becoming friends. The blurb says it's about finding a second-chance when you least expect it. It's the kind of book that can easily go off the rails by becoming too sentimental, so we'll see. Hoping for the best.

I'm going to stop with eight titles because I want to leave a little wiggle-room for the surprises that always come along. In addition to these eight, I already have eight books set aside to choose from at the end of February - and that stack will probably double by then. I haven't even mentioned the nine books I acquired in January, only one of which I've read so far. Really, my goal is only to give all of them a chance, and to enjoy eight or ten of them a month. It's not like I don't have enough to choose from, so the odds are with me.

16 comments:

  1. Elmer Kelton! Have I forgotten that you wrote about him, and I commented? Maybe! Anyhow, I have read only one book by him but I was so impressed, thinking that I wouldn't care about a "western". This is all I have on my blog about it:
    The Time It Never Rained
    by Elmer Kelton
    read by George Guidall
    fiction, 1973, 1984
    finished, 8/19/08

    He is a wonderful, wonderful reader and he brought this book alive for me. I really did love it.

    And here is what I wrote about the Laurie Frankel book I read:
    Laurie Frankel
    I read This is How it Always Is about a family whose son feels like he is a girl from a very young age. The author's own child experienced this so she knows what she's writing about. This is a very important book about a subject no one really knew about a short time ago. It was an excellent book. We get to know the family, their reactions, their strategies, their strengths and weaknesses. The love is so evident among these people. There is a cool corresponding tale the father tells the children at night. I loved this book.

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    1. Like you, I really liked The Time It Never Rained. I've read quite a few of Kelton's books now, and I pretty much only have the ones I'm pretty sure he aimed at a younger audience. But even those surprise me as to how good they still are. The one I'm reading now is a coming-of-age novel about a young deputy who is undergoing an on-the-job kind of training he will be lucky to survive. My grandson is a bit behind me in it, but he's really loving it, too. It's his first exposure to a western novel.

      I don't know much about Laurie Frinkel, but the one you describe sounds timely, to say the least. I'll have to take a look at that one, too.

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  2. My February reading plan is to try and read all the books I just checked out of the library before they're due and I have to take them back. (Yes, once again I checked out too many. It's a sickness.) Good luck reading all your February books! :)

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    1. Nice reading plan...and a lot harder to accomplish than it sounds. :-) My March stack is already reaching the stage that I'm probably going to have to keep pushing things back...as long as the library lets me.

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    1. Are you reading them this month, Diana? I'll look forward to comparing notes with you when we're both done.

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  4. One Two Three and The Music of Bees both look good to me. One of my goals (experiments?) this year is to try and plan my reading each month. I hope being more deliberate in my selections will lead to a more satisfying reading year. We'll see...

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    1. Having a solid plan always seems to work best for me, JoAnn. I think the trick is not to reach the point where you start feeling obligated to go straight through the list. A list plus a good bit of flexibility is probably the best way to go.

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  5. I love reading about your plans for each month, always something interesting to investigate. I like the sound of Elmer Kelton and The Music of Bees appeals to me right now. Sometimes I plan a month's reading and sometimes I don't, I think it's to do with suddenly having a handful of books I 'must' read soon and at the moment I don't. I just went for what I fancied this month and ended up loving pretty much every book.

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    1. Kelton appeals to me, Cath, because so many of his books catch the cowboys right at the end of their era, well into the 1900s. The themes of his western are rather universal ones as a result of the predicament the cowboys find themselves in as the only way of life they've ever known begins to disappear on them.

      As far as the list gos, I'm pretty quick to abandon books that end up not appealing to me these days. I abandoned two in January because I didn't want to invest precious reading hours in something that I obviously was not going to enjoy. Part of the reason that I never get to everything on a monthly list is that I browse my own bookshelves as if I'm in a bookstore - and I never know what I might find. My next goal is to remove the books from a few shelves to see what I have stacked behind the ones up front. I've always had a habit of stashing smaller books behind the large ones on display...and then I forget about them for a few years at a time.

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  6. I hope your plan doesn't get messed up too badly because you know I'm looking forward to your review of The Rock Hole!

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    1. I'm looking forward to it, Cathy. It's a library book with a relatively short fuse on it, so it's likely to end up one of the ones that do get read in February.

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  7. Hi Sam, Great idea to plan what one will read at the beginning of each month. I need to pick up the pace of my reading and setting goals is the way to do it. I would like to read Elmer Kelton. He is one of the great novelists of the American West and starting with a YA book such as Shadow of a Star might be the way to go. A few years ago speaking of Westerns I read The Searchers and it was a powerful book.

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  8. Kathy, I recently purchased the new Library of America book called The Western: Four Classic Novels of the 1940s & 50s. It includes The Oxbow Incident, Shane, The Searchers, and Warlock. The only one I've read so far is Shane, but I plan to read the others sometime this year. Westerns are one of my favorite genres, and I still love western novels - and movies.

    Kelton left behind a wonderful body of work that I'm still exploring. The YA novels (I assume they are YA) are the ones I've still to read. They were his earliest publications, and that makes me wonder a little if they were actually intended for adults but just seem tame by today's standards.

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  9. The Mina book sounds good except that I don't like slow thrillers. Sounds like I might have trouble with her writing style. THE MUSIC OF BEES sounds good to me as well, especially since it's uplifting. These days, I'm craving those kinds of reads more than ever.

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    1. Mina's novels are generally very suspenseful, and this one is not an exception. I'm now about 70% of the way through it, and the main character still doesn't realize that she is in danger of being killed. She thinks it's just someone trying to scare her...longer story, but I'm getting a little frustrated with her.

      The Music of Bees (three long chapters in now) is starting to shape up nicely. The first three chapters introduce each of the main characters separately so that they can be brought together for the main plot.

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