January. The start of a new year and the start of another Reading Challenge. For the past few years I have managed to hit my Goodreads goal of 101 books and then some. This last year I barely squeaked over the finish line with 107, while the year before a glorious 165 books were read. The difference? Both numbers are a result of the pandemic. Due to lockdown, both voluntary and requested, I dove into books as an escape. I would order them from the library and pick them up curbside and isolate, finding respite in pages turned. Yet in 2021 Covid weariness, a certain lassitude formed, and my attention span wandered when reading. I found myself hooked on Angry Birds Bubble Pop for a time. Non-fattening escapism. I did manage to go cold turkey, but now and then I am tempted to pull up the game from app cold storage.
January started off with a mixture of books. Some new discoveries and some long anticipated hold titles. Unfortunately, there were no true standouts. Or perhaps I am becoming much more discerning.
One book did catch my eye and it was discovered on the library free shelf. The cover alone prompted me to adopt it.
Rollicking. Yes, that would be a fitting description of this “translated” manuscript that conveys the adventures of eighteen year old William Hawthorne who becomes a fugitive from the Empire for his seditious acts of writing plays and acting them out with a company of deplorable actors and through circumstances is adopted by a band of assassins.
Imagine a young Will Ferrell running with a group of noble mercenaries. The book’s Will is an admitted coward who can’t shoot an arrow straight or ride a horse without falling off. He also has no luck with his attempts to woo the striking Rennette who would rather strike him than talk to him.
This merry band, plus Will the homeless actor on the run, are hired to take on an army of mysterious raiders destroying the land. Will comically narrates his attempts to achieve heroism and along the way there are some awesome battle scenes.
For those who relish Monty Python humor or like medieval adventures that have a mix of humor and action, then Will and his crew are suggested for your reading pleasure.
I had placed my request for Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land when it first became available and patiently waited. All the Light We Cannot See being a stunner of a novel, my anticipation for his newest was high. The writing is as memorable, yet like another anticipated novel, Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, the plot became muddled and the ending was a letdown.
As a C.S. Lewis/Narnia fan, I patiently waited for my requested copy of Once Upon a Wardrobe. A blend of biography and enchanting tale of a sister devoted to her terminally ill brother, it wavered between a narrative point of view and third person, which impacted true reader investment, not knowing whose story to follow, the sister and brother’s or a recap of Lewis’s life.
I tried the first of Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence series, having watched the adaptation. One problem is that the story’s snappy British slang became a bit wearisome after a time. My edition had footnotes explaining the terms which proved both enlightening and irritating.
One book I requested as an inter-library loan and I was gratified that the library ordered: My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance. This is a choose your own adventure for adults but the romance adventures were a bit more focused on steamier interludes than anticipated.
Another requested and purchased title was A Million Things by Emily Spurr. An engaging debut about a ten year old girl who must cope with her mother’s extended absence. Some suspension of disbelief as this plucky, capable little girl tried to manage life on her own for a time, even though her elderly neighbor next door befriended her. The interaction and eventual friendship between the orphaned girl and her neighbor who has her own issues is the center of the story.
Several interesting reads, yet none really stood out as earning a place on my “You’ve-Got-To-Read-This-Next” list I give my hubs.
Hoping for February to deliver some good great reads.