Monday, 25 February 2013

Monday Musings: January in Review

This spluttered to a halt last year, so let's try a new format this time around - a simple list of what I've read, with links to reviews if written, then a 'random thoughts' piece, then my top 3 books of the month.

Total books read: 15

Pea's Book of Big Dreams by Susie Day
Loyal To The School by Angela Brazil
Killer, Heartless, and Wanted by Sara Shepard

The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien
Hysteria by Megan Miranda
Irresistible by Liz Bankes
Slut? by Kerry Anne Hoffman
Dance Of Shadows by Yelena Black

House Of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Tarzan - The Savage Lands by Andy Briggs
Waiting For Gonzo by Dave Cousins
Black Sheep by N B Robert

Random Thoughts

I got hooked on Pretty Little Liars at the tail end of last year, and read three books in the series in January. They're not the best-written of books, but they're seriously addictive and I'm now loving the TV series as well.

Going through older stuff I hadn't previously got round to reading, I tried an Angela Brazil, and was rather unimpressed if I'm honest... not up to EJO, EBD, or the other top Girls' Own authors. Still, I've since read several reviews suggesting it wasn't one of her better ones, so will hopefully get round to checking out something else by her in the future.

Just the one adult novel for me this month, but it was a great one - The Forbidden Queen by the reliably excellent Anne O'Brien. Sizzling chemistry between Katherine de Valois and Owen Tudor make this one a must-read for fans of historical novels.

I tried three debut authors, with mixed results. Liz Bankes' Irresistible, billed as a 'steamy' novel, seemed to be trying to court publicity with a prominently displayed '15' rating on the front - possibly a wise idea, if the plan was to distract people's attention from seeing just how unlikeable all of the characters were. Film director/producer Chris Columbus's move into novel-writing, alongside the established Ned Vizzini, was more successful. I still had issues with the characters in House of Secrets being slightly bland, but the book has a lot of excellent action sequences and a strong storyline, so am happy to recommend it to younger readers and will look forward to the next in the series. Best of the debuts, though, was undoubtedly Yelena Black's Dance of Shadows, which mixed together ballet and black magic to provide a brilliantly bonkers read. The complete lack of any restraint in this madcap adventure made it one of the most entertaining books I've read for a while, and I'm eagerly awaiting the next in the series.

Book of the Month

Two of my favourite current series continued, and I'm giving them both joint third in my 'Book of the Month' rankings as it's far too hard to split them. Andy Briggs's third book in his Tarzan update, The Savage Lands, sees Jane really come of age, and take her place as an utterly superb heroine, while it features all of his trademark great pacing and fantastic action scenes. For something more relaxing but equally brilliant, Susie Day's Pea's Book of Big Dreams had me buying for Kindle at 5 past midnight on release day, and staying up until 1 in the morning to finish it. Superb characterisation and fabulous plotting meant this one was lovely.

2nd place goes to an author new to me - Na'ima B Robert. Her stunning dual narrative Black Sheep gave me my favourite male main character for ages, wannabe rapper and 'badman' Dwayne, whose words 'dance and jive and shimmy', and an equally strong female narrator, university-bound Misha. Superb chemistry between these two make this one utterly impossible to put down, while my heart was in my mouth thanks to the strong plotting as the book builds to an incredible climax.

Book of the month, though, has to go to John Green for The Fault In Our Stars, which I finally got round to reading. I haven't reviewed it, because trying to get my thoughts into order so that I can review a John Green book is like herding cats - an essentially pointless action which will drive you close to madness. Everyone knows he's sensationally good, it would take a far better reviewer than myself to go into details as to why he's so sensationally good. A real tear-jerker which broke my heart.

1 comment:

  1. So happy you loved The Fault in Our Stars and that it made your book of the month! Definitely agree that it was a real tear-jerker and it broke my heart too! 15 books in one month is amazing, great work, Jim!