Thursday, 7 January 2010

Hello Again

Well, what can I say, it’s been a while. Although I knew I wouldn’t be around as much as usual, I didn’t actually mean to completely disappear. However, work and life got in the way in big measure and I sort of fell out of the habit of blogging. Even if no one ever reads this, I’d still like to continue with my blog because it’s good to do more than just consume books. Thinking about them and putting your thoughts into writing is just as good an exercise as reading.

2009 – All of the books I read last year on listed on the left hand side of my blog, so I won’t list them again. It totals 140, unless you count that I read A Christmas Carol (one of my all-time favourites) 4 times during December and then it’s 144. My goal had been to make it a round 150, but like I said, work and life (and listening to Christmas music) got in the way a bit, so I didn’t reach it. Maybe this year, although I think 140 is really a good number and I don’t think I’ll stress myself about reading even more. As long as I hit the 100 mark, I’ll be happy (I’m a little Hermione-ish at the best of times).

There are a few I still haven’t reviewed and I plan to get to them as soon as possible. I’m going to start off with a collective post of the fluffier reads, of which there were a few. They aren’t deep books, so there’s not much point in discussing them to death, but I can tell you which I liked and which I didn’t.

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell – I really like Mankell, his characters and his style of writing, but this one won’t make it on my lists of favourites. Not that it isn’t a good story, but the setting was dark and grim, which made it not a fun place to be. Kurt Wallander is called to Riga to investigate the death of a Latvian detective who had recently visited Sweden. The story was set in a time when the Cold War and the Iron Curtain still cast their shadow on the whole country. Wallander gets caught up in a dangerous game of espionage to which he is not accustomed. It made the book read more like a Cold War spy novel than a modern day crime novel, so if you don’t care for the spy genre, as I don’t, you won’t be enamoured with this particular book in the series. Still, the story was decent and kept me interested despite the dark feel to the book, so if you like Wallander, give it a try.

The Babes in the Woods by Ruth Rendell – Another in the Wexford series, this is comfortable crime/detective novel. Not brilliant in itself, but a good read and quite up to Rendell’s usual standard. Crime Fluff I suppose you can call it. I love reading books like this because they are engaging, yet undemanding and are perfect for a Sunday spent under the duvet just enjoying a good story. If you like the genre, and especially if you like Rendell, this is a good one which I can recommend.

Bone of Contention by Roberta Gellis – This is the first of the Magdalene la Bâtarde Mysteries which I personally like very much. Magdalene is a whoremistress in the 10th century who finds herself forced to search for a murderer in order to clear the name of one of her girls and protect her own “good” reputation. Again, it’s fluff, but a good story and a pleasant read. I feel compelled to mention that if you object to every form and notion of prostitution, this is not the book for you as the heroine is a whoremistress who looks on her job with a very practical eye and even the church turns a blind eye to her ways for the same practical reasons. Should you be very religious, you might find the series upsetting, so just don’t go there. However, if you don’t take too a narrow view, can suspend disbelief and look on it just as a story, it’s a good read.

The Hermit of Eyeton Forest by Ellis Peters – Yet another fluff book. I was big on them in late Nov. and Dec. This is another of the popular Brother Cadfael series. Cadfael is a Welsh monk who only became a monk in later life and therefore has a better insight into real life than many of his brethren. His experiences and compassion lead him to help people and discover the truths behind crimes which would otherwise indict the wrong people. Personally, I can imagine that these make better TV shows than books, but they’re a quick and undemanding read. Having said that, I thought this one was one of the better ones out of those I have read. It’s characters were more personable and therefore the book was more interesting. There were also a couple of plot twists I didn’t really see coming too far in advance, so all in all, not bad, but not great either.

That’s all for today. I’ll get back to the rest as soon as possible.


Scrabblequeen said...

Good to see you "back"! I cannot imagine finding time for 140 books, so 150 seems un-real to me. I'd like to make 50 in a year, but think this year that is un-likely.

Lady Rook said...

Meep! I think you've read twice the number of books I did! Interesting reviews. I've only ever seen the TV programme of Cadfael so I might look out one of the books to see how it compares.