December/January Summary and Plans for February

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The last two months have flown by, with the majority of my reads being very good. The only one that stood out above the others was The First Century After Beatrice by Amin Maalouf, a scary insight into what might happen if parents could choose the sex of their child.

Book of the Month

The First Century After Beatrice

Books Reviewed in December and January:

The First Century After Beatrice by Amin Maalouf 

Doppler by Erlend Loe 

Jerusalem by Gonçalo Tavares 

War with the Newts by Karel Capek 

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami 

Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam 

Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb 

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura 

Merivel by Rose Tremain

Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson 

A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Alderidge 

Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo 

AbandonedA Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf, Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville, Canada by Richard Ford, Parallel Stories by Peter Nádas

Plans for February

I have no firm plans for the next few weeks, but these books are calling to me strongly at the moment:

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

Hunger by Knut Hamsun

Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon

Moffie by André Carl van der Merwe

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Good Father by Noah Hawley

I’m also continuing to make my way through A Suitable Boy, although it is proving a challenge at the moment. Hopefully I’ll fall back in love with it again soon.

I hope you have a wonderful month!

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  1. I thought both The Thief and Mercy were excellent thrillers. I know you will like Mercy as well as her follow up book in the series.

    1. Jackie says:

      Harvee, I’m half way through Mercy at the moment and really enjoying it. Hopefully the ending will live up to my expectations.

  2. David says:

    Do keep persevering with ‘A Suitable Boy’, Jackie – it is more than worth it. As I think I’ve already mentioned it took me about three months to get through it (reading other things at the same time) and parts of it didn’t hold my interest so much, but by the end I felt like I’d lived the book and it left an indelible impression.

    I read my first Hemingway last year too (‘The Old Man and the Sea’) and wasn’t overly impressed either. Well written, but a tad unsubtle – he may as well have underlined bits and wrote Symbol and Metaphor in the margins. I imagine it is taught in schools…

    ‘One Last Thing Before I Go’ has been on my TBR pile for a few months and I plan to read ‘Lamb’ in the next few weeks.

    I’ve just finished reading Olivia Manning’s 1975 novel ‘The Rain Forest’ and loved it – I’ll definitely be reading more by her, including her two ‘Fortunes of War’ trilogies.
    Nearly all my January reads were books I’ve had languishing on my shelves for some time, 16 years in one instance!
    Two weeks of the month were spent plodding through James Robertson’s ‘And the Land Lay Still’. It was rewarding in the end, but far too long and a bit repetitive: I feel like I could now answer questions on Scottish Political History 1945 – 2004 on Mastermind!
    The highlight of the month though was Charlotte Wood’s ‘The Submerged Cathedral’, an Australian novel about love, faith, gardening, and the act of worship. It’s one of the most moving novels I’ve read in ages, and the writing is just beautiful.

    There are a few new books coming in February that I fancy, but I want to keep reading more old stuff too. Top of my TBR pile is Larry McMurtry’s ‘The Last Picture Show’.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, Yes. I plan to stick with ‘A Suitable Boy’ I know I’ll love it in the end, but the slow parts are a challenge.

      It is good to know I’m not alone in my dismissal of Hemingway. There are some writers that just don’t click with me.

      I think I’ve got an Olivia Manning here, but she isn’t a writer I’ve tried. I’ll have to see if I can find her book.

      I have to admit that a novel about ” love, faith and gardening” doesn’t really appeal, but if you say it is moving I’ll keep an eye out for it.

      Have a wonderful February!

  3. Ellie says:

    I’m going to have to catch up with your reviews; lots of these titles are new to me but look intriguing.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ellie, I have been reading lesser known books recently – I hope some of them appeal, despite their weirdness.

  4. Sarah says:

    Hurrah again for Beatrice!!!!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sarah, Yay! Let’s hope we can persuade a few more people to give it a try.

  5. Bina says:

    Oooh the Malouf sounds interesting (is it a case of intersex or more scifi?). Your February reads sound fascinating, I haven’t even heard of them except for the Murakami!
    I just finished The housekeeper and the professor and am trying to decide on my next read.
    Loved A Suitable Boy, even if it is extremely long and sometimes I struggled to remember who was part of what family ;) Happy reading!

    1. Jackie says:

      Bina, The Maalouf isn’t sci-fi – it is scarily realistic. It basically revolves around the discovery of a substance that prevents female children from being born. This then leads to a shortage of women. It is impressive writing and I really hope you decide to give it a try.
      It is good to see that you enjoyed A Suitable Boy too. I often struggle to remember who is who, even though I’m several hundred pages in! I hope I get it all worked out soon.

  6. You had quite a few 4+ starred books last month. Really nice! I hope you’ll enjoy Hunger – Knut Hamsun is/was a favorite author of mine. But if you haven’t read anything else by him, this may not be the ideal book to start with. It seems a bit like Martin Eden by Jack London, if yo happen to know that, rather bleak with A LOT of hunger!

    Have a great month!

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, Oh no! Now you’ve torn me! I haven’t tried Hamsun before and am not familiar with Martin Eden. Hopefully I’ll be OK because I normally like bleak. Fingers crossed!

      1. If you like bleak, you’ll probably be fine, Jackie. :-)

  7. stujallen says:

    My plans Well I got few classics in translation so be reading on or two of them other than that none really ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I hope you have a wonderful February!

  8. Ifi says:

    Wow ! Two 3 stared reads and the rest 4 and above!!! How do you do it? My Dec/ Jan reads were all 2.5 and 3 stars!!! Not good at all!! All really annoyingly… simple, non-engaging…, crappy…., disappointing…. non-recommendable . 4 and 5 is what I want. I wonder why they were even on my TBR pile to begin with!!

    1. Jackie says:

      Ifi, Sorry to hear that you didn’t have any amazing reads. I recommend abandoning anything that doesn’t excite you. I am getting better at putting down books that aren’t clicking with me and that is helping to push up the average ratings. Good luck!

  9. Charlie says:

    That’s a good list and a lot to look forward to this coming month. I’m glad you wrote about the DNFs :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Charlie, It is good to know that you like the DNF list. I’ll try to remember to add a list next month too.

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