Rearview Mirror // January 2017

January didn’t really end up being that great of a month on the blog for me.  I spent most of the middle of the month just not feeling like writing anything, which also ended up being coupled with me (re)reading a lot of relaxing fluff.  But I’ve come to realize that I go through phases of just not feeling the writing aspect of life, and that’s okay because eventually I always kick back into it.

On a personal level, January was pretty chill.  I wrapped up my job at the orchard for the year and opened an Etsy shop (I have been having so much fun making adorable notebooks!).  I’ve been teaching myself guitar and bass guitar on Rocksmith on the PS4, and have spent a lot of time hanging out with my family, including my sister who is now living just a few houses down (so convenient!).

Favorite January Read:

2768230-_uy200_I think I’m going to go with Shatter by Michael Robotham.  The third book in the Joseph O’Laughlin series was completely terrifying.  I couldn’t put it down.  The “bad guy” in the story was completely believable, which made the whole story fabulously creepy.

41hym1lb7cl-_sx330_bo1204203200_However, as usual, I do have an honorable mention – The Shapeshifters (by Stefan Spjut) was just the most bizarre yet intriguing book I’ve just about ever read.  I finished it a month or so ago, but I still find myself thinking about it sometimes, and part of that thinking always involves me saying, “What the heck?!”  It was such a weird book but so well done.

Most Disappointing January Read:

Probably Not George Washington by P.G. Wodehouse and Herbert Westbrook.  I don’t know if it’s because it is one of Wodehouse’s earliest books, or because of Westbrook’s influence, but while the story was humorous at times, the main character just wasn’t all that likable.  He completely lacked the charm that nearly all Wodehouse characters possess.  While it wasn’t a terrible book by any means, it just didn’t have that typical Wodehouse sparkle.

Other January Reads:

  • Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth – 3/5 – a retelling of Rapunzel that was really well done but still just sad and a little too much about sex.
  • Crazy Kill Range by Rutherford Montgomery – 3/5 – a moderately interesting story about a wild horse.
  • Flipped by Wendy Van Draanen – 4/5 – so adorable and happy and actually just an all-around excellent little story about learning to look a little deeper in order to really know someone.
  • The Magician’s Workshop, Volume One by Christopher Hansen & J.R. Fehr – 3/5 – Really interesting premise but a little short on action.
  • The Magician’s Workshop, Volume Two by Christopher Hansen & J.R. Fehr – 4/5 – With the characters in place from Volume One, this book really got the story rolling and was way more engaging.
  • The New Way Things Work by David Macauley – 4/5 – a great nonfiction book that looks at the machines within the machines in order to really understand how machines work…  all illustrated with woolly mammoths!
  • Terms & Conditions by Ysenda Maxtone Graham – 4/5 – such a fun little memoir of sorts that managed to make a very specific aspect of humanity incredibly relatable.
  • The Travelers by Chris Pavone – 3/5 – fun but just not that level of engaging that a really good thriller needs to be.
  • The White Feather by P.G. Wodehouse – 3/5 – one of my favorite of Wodehouse’s school stories so far – fun characters and not quite as much cricket.

In Januarys Past…

Now that I’ve been doing my Rearview Mirrors for two years, I thought it would be fun to see what my favorite and least-favorite reads were from those years.

downloadIn 2015, my favorite book of the month was Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter.  And I have to say that, for some reason, my reviews of Pollyanna and its sequels are still very high on the list of my most-visited posts, and I have no idea why.  Anyway, Pollyanna is definitely a classic and I highly recommend it.  Porter does a really wonderful job of creating a character who is lovable and kind without being obnoxious.  Also, as usual:  Book > Movie.

I found Catherine Palmer’s A Dangerous Silence to by my most disappointing read that month.  While the book had its moments, overall it was just full of logical gaps too large to be ignored.

209194For 2016, it was an Agatha Christie classic that won the coveted Best-Read spot:  The Man in the Brown Suit.  This book continues to be one of my favorite Christie books, full of adventure, spies, delightful dialogue, and completely unlikely coincidences.

My most disappointing book that month was Phillip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.  While interesting, it just seemed like a total waste of a brilliant premise, as nothing really happened in the story.

TBR Update:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Stand-Alones:  881 (up fourteen… which is actually fewer than it was up by last month… is this good or just really sad?!)
  • Nonfiction:  61 (up three)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own, but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  605 (also up fourteen)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 147 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 71 (holding steady)

I’m going to say that the fact that two categories are holding steady means that I am overall making progress.  :-D

Awaiting Review:

188214Honestly not a lot of titles here.  I read all four books of Nora Roberts’s Bridal Quartet but since those were rereads, I probably won’t bother reviewing them.  I haven’t been hardcore reading lately, although I am starting to find the groove again.

  • The Swoop! Or How Clarence Saved England: A Tale of the Great Invasion by P.G. Wodehouse
  • The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux

Current Reads:

  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan – I’m about a hundred pages into this and I think that I will like it, despite the fact that it is A Novel.
  • Mike by P.G. Wodehouse – the second half of this book, which was originally published as its own book, introduces Psmith, one of my favorite Wodehouse characters.  So far, despite being full of cricket, this has actually been a really fun read.
  • Reclaiming Christianity: A Call to Authentic Faith by A.W. Tozer; compiled and edited by James L. Snyder – As always, Tozer isn’t afraid to thump you over the head with what you need to hear.

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

18505811The probable next five reads…

  • Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour – this is the start of a new series (Night & Nothing), but we’ll see how it goes.  It may be a bit too dark/melodramatic/angsty for me.
  • The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E.L. Konigsburg – I am hoping to read all of Konigsburg’s works, since From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The View from Saturday are two of my all-time favorite books.
  • Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham – We’ll see if the next Joseph O’Laughlin book can hold up after I enjoyed Shatter so completely.
  • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer – this if the first book in a duology.  Again, it may be a bit too dark/angsty, but it did come recommended from a book blogging friend whose tastes are usually similar to mine, so we shall see.
  • The Intrusion of Jimmy AKA Gentlemen of Leisure by P.G. Wodehouse – continuing with the quest to read all of Wodehouse’s books in published order, this one sounds as though it may be more along the lines of what I would consider to be “classic” Wodehouse – a convoluted plot and a little bit of burglary.