Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Book Chase December 2021 Reading Plan

Even though it's almost time for most of us to start thinking about next year's reading plan and goals, we do have one more month to work on some of the 2021 goals we set a year ago. If you're like me - and it's not necessarily a bad thing - your actual reading and your planned reading during the last eleven months don't match up all that well. For me, it's been a year of discovering new authors and going off on reading tangents I never even imagined while setting goals in December 2020. I love how that happened.

Coming in to this final month, I'm already reading four books, and the likelihood is that I will be lucky to finish even one of them before December 1:

This is the third book in Shaw's Alex Cupidi series. I picked it up a couple of days ago, and it ended up temporarily pushing the other three books out of rotation. From the back cover of the UK edition: "Two teenage boys speed off on a moped with a stolen mobile, ready to celebrate their luck at last. Until their victim turns up looking for what's his - and is ready to kill for it." And on the other side of Kent, a severed arm ends up as part of an art installation. Cupidi catches both cases. 


I'm only a couple of chapters into S. Kirk Walsh's The Elephant of Belfast but I'm already taken with the main characters in this story about a young woman who bonds with a young zoo elephant in 1941 in the aftermath of the Easter Tuesday Luftwaffe attack on the city. From the book flap: "...renders the changing relationship between Hettie and Violet (the elephant), and their growing dependence on each other for survival and solace." I've heard nothing but good things about this one.

The Texas Job will be published in early February 2022, and I'm still not sure if I should call it a standalone or part of Wortham's Red River Series. The main character in this Depression era novel is Texas Ranger Tom Bell who is featured prominently in the third novel of that series, The Right Side of Wrong, as an old man in a 1965 setting. The Texas Job is set in 1931 when Bell is still very much in his prime and chasing a murderer up into the "Red River" setting. Prequel, maybe?


Louise Erdrich is a longtime favorite author of mine, so there was no chance that I would let this one slip past me. What I didn't intend to do was read it as an audiobook but that turned out to be the quickest way I could get hold of a library copy. The unexpected bonus of the audiobook version is that Louise Erdrich narrates it herself - and does a completely excellent job of this haunted bookstore story. Wow.

In addition to these four in-progress books, I plan to choose a few from my small stack of "comfort reads," books I've set aside for a while because I sort of hate not having them "in the bank" for later...probably these:

Other than Penny's latest Gamache novel, How the Light Gets In is the only one of the seventeen Gamache books I haven't read. I'm to the point where I'll soon have to be waiting a whole year between my Gamache fixes, but I think I've held onto this 2013 novel long enough now. This is the one in which Gamache seems to be near rock bottom as far as his career goes. He and everyone around him are struggling but Three Pines, he hopes, can save all of them. 

The Dark Hours is both the fourth book in the Renée Ballard series and the twenty-fourth book in the Harry Bosch series. Now that Harry is more or less working on his own, teaming him up with a much younger LAPD detective like Ballard offers a brilliant solution to allowing Bosch to keep his head in the game. The two have very little in common and were a little wary of each other at the beginning, but they have now meshed into one of the most effective crime-fighting teams in Los Angeles. Connelly is just a brilliant writer. Period.

Fleshmarket Alley is the fifteenth of twenty-three Inspector Rebus novels. I think this is one of the more underrated crime series out there today even though it's one of my very favorites. I've read the earlier books and the later ones in the series (this will be my 14th) but have a gap in the middle. This 2004 book will be bring me back to that period in Rebus's career. Rebus, like so many of the detectives I've been reading for twenty or more years, is officially retired now but still somehow involved. That's probably why I love them so much; we have aged together. This is pre-retirement John Rebus.

Depending on time  and mood, I may finally get to Ann Cleeves's second Vera Stanhope novel, Telling Lies, also. I meant to read it this month but ran out of time. And if I really feel ambitious, I might even return to Tana French's second Dublin Murder Squad novel, The Likeness. I've already given that one two tries and have bogged down both times, first from the utter unbelievability of the plot,  and second from the inertia of a plot in which everything seems to be happening in slow motion. I see that I stopped on page 140 of the 466-page book on my second try. Still a long way to go, and I'm beginning to wonder if The Likeness is going to end my Tana French phase. 

Now, it's on to December.

18 comments:

  1. Some good sounding books there, Sam. I've tried The Likeness just once. I think I got to about page 50 and stalled and thus my progress with her Dublin Murder Squad series also stalled and I've not returned to it since. I'll be interested to see how you do. How the Light Gets In was excellent.

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    1. I really liked two of her books, Cath, but this one is just leaving me cold. I'm curious to learn what others have thought of it, so thanks for your feedback.

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  2. Hi Sam, I really have to do this, develop a monthly reading plan and I keep telling myself I must read something by Louise Erdrich. I am not sure if I should start with Love Medicine or jump right to The Sentence. If you are caught up with Louise Penny have you ever read Donna Leon? She also has a very good mystery series set in Venice. I was hooked from the first book

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    1. I'd be lost without some kind of outline/plan to start with, Kathy. I find that I end up reading more and more of the type of book I most enjoy that way. The Sentence, at least to me, is very different from everything else of Erdrich's that I've read so far, so I think it would be a fine place to jump in. Just don't come away from it, thinking it's typical of her novels because it doesn't feel that way to me...at least through the first third of it.

      For some reason, I haven't tried Donna Leon despite being aware of how many people seem to really love her books. I'll get there at some point...I hope.

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  3. My best book plans rarely work out it seems. I think sometimes winging it is better and more satisfying. I planned on reading The Sentence several weeks ago and got distracted but, I just started the library audio and I'm loving the author's narration. The Elephants of Belfast was on my list but I removed it as I read something about animal abuse --- please tell me if this is not the case. I'm planning on reading a few holiday/winter themed books in December - we will see how that works out.

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    1. I suspect, Diane, that a list doesn't work for everyone. I think it's a personality thing; I've always worked best with written down goals in mind. My wife is just the opposite, and it works well for her.

      Isn't Erdrich a great narrator? She's a lot more dramatic a reader than I would have ever imagined, and she makes it so easy to distinguish between the characters. I'm impressed.

      I'll let you know if I spot any animal abuse in The Elephant of Belfast. Through the first 90 pages, none other than the animals not getting fed enough to really sustain them due to WWII rationing problems.

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  4. Looks like great choices.
    I have The Dark Hours but I’m not sure I’ll get to it.

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    1. Thanks. I'm shooting for kind of a "comfort month" to ease out 2021. I really don't want to go into next year with a couple of books half-read that I'm only finishing out of stubbornness. The Dark Hours is one I have high hopes for; love that series.

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  5. I finished The Sentence last week and hope to get my review done later today. I, too, had trouble with the beginning and plot of The Likeness. (Here's a link to my review in 2016: https://www.thenatureofthings.blog/2016/12/the-likeness-by-tana-french-review.html) But I persevered and ultimately ended up liking quite a bit, although it is probably my least favorite of French's. So, I would encourage you to keep reading. It does introduce an interesting character who reappears in later books.

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    1. I'm enjoying The Sentence but still not sure why or what to think of it...can't get settled into it and I'm over 40% of the way through it.

      Your review hit on the exact things that are bothering me about The Likeness. I'm going to give it another try, but if I fizzle out again, it will be time to write this one off. It just seems so different...and inferior...to the other two of her's I've read.

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  6. So many good books on your list! I hope you get a chance to read them all. But I have to say, when I read The Likeness the middle part really bogged down for me, too. In fact, I skimmed from the middle until about 100 pages from the end, and then started reading again to find out what happened. It's probably my least favorite Tana French book. So I say give up on the book, but maybe not on the author yet.

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    1. Wow...you, too. I wonder what happened to her with The Likeness. All of us feeling the same way can't be a coincidence. I don't think I'll actually give up on her even if I can't finish this one...but the book is definitely testing my patience now.

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  7. A couple of these are on my list, too. I want to read both The Elephant of Belfast and The Sentence. Good luck getting through your December list!

    I often think about a year-long project at this time of year and am kicking around one or two. We'll see if that happens, but laying out a monthly plan has been incredibly successful for me this year. Thank you for the inspiration!

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    1. I'm so happy to hear that doing a monthly plan is working well for you. I've done it so long now that I can't imagine not doing it anymore...I'd be lost.

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  8. Some very good authors here and some I want to try. Especially Reavis V. Wortham. I have loose plans in advance. I am not too sure whether I want to plan in advance because I would not read half of them. But I love reading your plans and why you are reading the books and where you are in the series. I just purchased the next Louise Penny that I plan to read no later than January.

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    1. I usually end up reading about 75% of the books I plan to read each month...if I'm lucky. Some months I just can't resist all the shiny new books that catch my eye, and the list doesn't get the attention I'd hoped for. But I do find that I read the majority of the books that most appeal to me, with fewer slipping through the cracks, so there's that.

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  9. :) I don't make plans, but I always add to my lists! And you keep making it longer.

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    1. Ha...my list is so long now that I seldom have the time to scan it with much attention. But it's definitely getting longer, and reading book blogs is what does that for me. Love it.

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