Wednesday, 1 March 2017

February 2017 Reading Summary

Well, well, March is now upon us... Egad! The first two months of 2017 have moved along very quickly. We've been busy renovating the old homestead, had a nice trip down to Victoria and basically enjoyed the year so far, amazed that we've actually had a winter this year.

As to my reading plans, I'm moving along nicely. According to my overall Goodreads' total challenge of reading 120 books in 2017, I'm 3 books ahead of schedule. Mind you, I have read a great many shortish books so that may be somewhat misleading. As to variety, because I've been trying to complete my 12 + 4 challenge (all Science Fiction) and also work through a number of mystery series, the variety hasn't been great, if you just consider genres. But I'm sure it'll all work out in the end. Ultimately, the key is to enjoy what I'm reading and let the challenges resolve themselves as they may.

My favourite book of February
OK, so let's go, here is my February reading summary and totals so far for 2017.

General Stats

                                                    Feb                    2017 Total
Books Read                                10                           22
Pages Read (approx.)              2,600                      5,600        (Average per book - 255)

Pages Breakdown
       < 250                                      5                            12
250 - 350                                       3                              7
351 - 450                                       2                              2
       > 450                                      0                              1

Author Gender
Female                                          3                               4
Male                                             7                              18

5 - star                                          0                                1
4 - star                                          9                               13
3 - star                                          1                                8

Fiction                                          0                                2
Mystery                                        5                               10
SciFi                                             5                               10
Non-Fiction                                  0                                0
Humour                                        0                                0
Classics                                        0                                0

Reading Group Challenges

One of 4 completed
12 + 4 (Science Fiction - from oldest on my bookshelf) (completed 9)
1. Ballroom of the Skies by John D. MacDonald (1952) - 3 stars
2. City by Clifford D. Simak (1952) - 4 stars
3. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester (1953) - 4 stars
4. The Door to Summer by Robert Heinlein (1957) - 4 stars

Canadian Literature (1 of 5) - Nothing read in this category in February

Classics (0 of 4) - Nothing read in February

Joe Gunther #1
Mysteries (The Cops) - completed 2 for a total of 4 of a suggested 25
5. Open Season by Archer Mayor (Joe Gunther #1) - 4 stars
6. The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker (Bruno, Chief of Police #4) - 4 stars

Kat Colorado #1
Mysteries (The Sleuths) - completed 3 for a total of 6 of a suggested 25. I started 2 new series this month and finished one, so just the opposite of President 45's rules (being delete 2 policies for each new one), for each 2 series started, finish 1.. (not that I follow that too strictly)
7. The Judas Pair by Jonathan Gash (Lovejoy #1) - 4 stars
8. Katwalk by Karen Kijewski (Kat Colorado #1) - 4 stars
9. Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris (Harper Connelly #4 - series complete) - 4 stars

Fantasy (1 of 5) - I completed The Hunger Games trilogy)
10. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games #3) - 4 stars

Horror (0 of 5)

Science Fiction (0 of 5) - I'm thinking that if I finish my 12 + 4 challenge early enough, as in March or early April, I'll do another combining a mix of Fantasy/ Horror / SciFi and that will leave me the other book of the 4 I read at a time for the remaining genres. :0)

Fiction (1 of 15) (nothing new in February)

Non-Fiction (0 of 5)

Spy / Thriller / War (0 of 10)

My Top 3 Books of February

1. The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker - The Bruno books continue to be a favourite of mine. At the moment there are 10 books in the series and I've completed 4. (One is an e-book that I won't be able to read) I will have to add a the next couple to my book shelves. My review of The Crowded Grave is below.

"The Crowded Grave is the 4th book in the Bruno, Chief of Police mystery series, by Martin  Walker, a series that very quickly became one of my favourites. Bruno is the police chief in the small French hamlet of St. Denis and the stories for the most part focus on cases and the lives of the people who reside in the community and surrounding area.
In The Crowded Grave, Bruno investigates a body discovered at an archaeological dig and crimes against local foie gras producers. As well, he is seconded to the national security apparatus as they are organising a conference in the local area between French and Spanish governments. Add to the mix a new, young state prosecutor, on whose bad side Bruno seems to fall, and the arrival of previous love, Isabelle, and you've got the makings of a fast-paced interesting story.
There is so much to like about the Bruno books as they focus on more than just crime. There is the wonderful, close community of St. Denis, the fantastic cuisine that they share with you with such enjoyment and the scenic area where the stories are set. It's difficult not to want to visit.
The mysteries in The Crowded Grave are interesting as you have possible involvement by PETA, suspicious activities by Basque separates, a decades old mystery. It definitely keeps the story moving along and Bruno has to use all of his wits to try and sort out whether the various activities are related. Throw in the fact that his current love, English resident Pamela, has family problems of her own to deal with and the confusion to Bruno of the arrival of Isabelle and it's an intriguing story. The story is wrapped up very nicely although it left me very sad at the end; something that I never expected to happen, that did and left me heart - broken. But I'll leave that for you to find out. If you've never delved into Bruno's world, I recommend it heartily. If you have, this book is a worthy follow-on to the first three. (4 stars)"

The remaining books are -
The Devil's Cave (2012)
Bruno and the Carol Singers (2012) - e-book / short story
The Resistance Man (2013)
Children of War (US title The Children Return) (2014)
The Dying Season (US title The Patriarch) (2015)
Fatal Pursuit (2015)

2. City by Clifford D. Simak - I had read this previously during my university years but I wanted to reread to see if it was as good as I remembered. It was.

"City by Clifford D. Simak was a reread for me. It had been 40 years since last I'd read it so I wanted to see if it would have a similar impact as my memories of it. I had recently read The Werewolf Principle by Simak and thoroughly enjoyed it. So with that short preamble, I decided to read a copy of City that I found recently.
Basically, it did not disappoint. The story is more of a series of short stories about the future of mankind on Earth. The stories are told by dogs, who have been surgically given the ability to speak and also have had their eyes altered to provide them with a human view perspective. There is a preamble before each story which outlines the dogs views on whether the stories are true themselves.
The main humans are the Webster family who are involved in all of the changes that are taking place in the future. It is a Webster who makes the changes to the dogs, who impact on a philosophy that might give a hope for the future, etc. The other main character, besides the dogs is Jenkins, the old family butler, who also happens to be a robot. The stories move farther and farther into the future with drastic changes to mankind, the dogs, robots, etc.
The stories tie together nicely and make for a fascinating view of the future. I'm glad I read again; it was worth digging it out again. (4 stars)"

3. Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris - This is the final book in Harris' Harper Connelly supernatural mystery series. This is the second series by Harris I've completed in the past couple of years, the other being the Lily Bard mysteries. Luckily I still have a few books in her Sookie Stackhouse fantasy series and a new one she has just introduced, Midnight Crossing.

"Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris is the fourth and final book in Harris' Harper Connelly supernatural mystery series. While I'm sad that it's ended, just as I was sad when her Lily Bard mysteries ended, at least everything was wrapped up nicely.
Harper and her step brother, Tolliver, travel around the US, mainly the South, helping people discover how their kin died. When Harper was young, she was struck by lightning. One of the after-effects is that she can see how a person died or, as in most of her stories, was murdered. She and Tolliver get involved in the mysteries trying to solve the crimes.
In this final story, the two have returned to Dallas to see their younger sisters and Tolliver's brother to try and decide if they want to settle down in the area. Their childhoods were not the best and the area brings back many, many bad memories; their parents were drug addicts, their sister Cameron disappeared at a young age, etc.
One of the surprises for them during this visit, where they also conduct some business in Texarkana for a wealthy land owner, is the discovery the Tolliver's father, Harper's step father, has been released from prison and wants to regain contact with Tolliver. Another 'bad' surprise is an attempt on Harper's life; someone tries to shoot her but hits Tolliver instead.
So you have a few mysteries to solve as well as try to resolve the series. It's an interesting, well-paced story with nice twists and turns, just like the other books in this excellent series. The results, while a bit pat maybe, are very satisfying and succeed in the aim at wrapping up the stories and the outstanding issues. I like Harper and Tolliver and also some of the other characters, especially Manfred, their other supernatural friend. So now I have the Sookie books and the Midnight Crossing books to work through. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

So there you go, my February summary. I've started off March with the following books.

1. Time Out of Joint by Phillip K. Dick (12 + 4 SciFi Challenge)
2. Listening Woman by Tony Hillerman (Ongoing series, Cops - Joe Leaphorn #3)
3. Murder on Washington Square by Victoria Thompson (Ongoing series, Sleuths - Gaslight #4)
4. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (Fiction)

In my next BLog entry, I'll update my recent book purchases. Have a great day!

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