Books of the month – February 2012

A smaller collection of books this month if you compare it to the January 2012 selection.  However, by the end of February, I was one third of the way through The Count of Monte Cristo as well.  That one really is going to take quite some time to finish!

The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

One of my discoveries of 2011 was Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, an epic fantasy saga spanning a dozen books so far and including a bewildering number of characters.  This is volume 12, the first of 3 volumes completed by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan’s death.  The change of writer is noticeable, but not jarring, and the pace of the narrative really picks up (there was a point a couple of volumes before this where things seemed to be moving ludicrously slowly).  Almost everyone of significance gets to do something worthwhile and probably the best series of events so far takes place in the battle for control of the White Tower (where female users of the One Power [i.e. magic] are based), which was tense, exciting and ultimately satisfying.  It has been obvious for some time now that cooperation between disparate people groups, and more importantly between male and female users of the One Power, will be the key to victory against the forces of darkness.  This theme becomes crystal clear here.  We also learn the true allegiance of many characters, and one woman proves to have been the bravest person in the whole series – to say more would ruin some key scene for future readers.  The final pages of the book were unexpected but welcome, giving this reader a palpable sense of relief.

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

This month’s book group book (though I didn’t actually make it to the group), The Help is a story about the everyday nature of race relations between women during the 1960s in Mississippi.  The characters are very engaging, and although at times I couldn’t help but think that the author may have been viewing some things through rose-tinted spectacles, the sense of danger which surrounded even such a simple act as sitting down at a table with the wrong person was quite clear.  A really worthwhile read, but I don’t think I want to see the movie version – these are characters who have very specific voices in my mind, which may not match the vision of the actors and director.

Time Masters : Vanishing Point

Time Masters : Vanishing Point by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund

This one called to me in the library, as the DC Comics miniseries collected here featured Booster Gold, whose early adventures I had read during January. The cover also promised Superman, Green Lantern, Rip Hunter (a time travel guru) with maybe a bit of Batman and prehistoric creatures thrown in. Ultimately, despite pleasing art and some welcome glimpses of the previously mysterious Rip Hunter’s past, this is a mess. Too many characters are thrown in with seemingly no rhyme or reason, including several which are obscure even tho those steeped in DC Comics lore. The series seems to have been intended to join the dots between various other events in the DC Universe and never quite coalesces into something which makes any sense on its own. Disappointing.

Arsene Lupin

Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thiefby Maurice Leblanc

Arsene Lupin is a charming French hybrid of Moriarty and Robin Hood, a criminal genius with a strong moral streak who seems like a forerunner of characters like Batman in the way in which he seems to have mastered every possible human skill. This is a collection of some of the many short stories he starred in, with a particular focus on his earliest adventures. The stories are just plain fun, even the ones which mock Sherlock Holmes (who pops up as a guest star) – highly amusing and enjoyable to read. The central character – arrogant and elegant, a hopeless romantic with a flair for the theatrical – is a wonderful creation and the plotting (particularly of the early stories) is tight. Absurd in some ways, these stories made me very happy indeed.

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Not quite so varied a selection as last month, February’s reading was still enjoyable. Only the Time Masters collection left me cold, and that didn’t take very long to read. Next month, I will continue with The Wheel of Time and with The Count of Monte Cristo. No doubt, I will also get distracted by other things along the way.

February’s book of the month? Definitely Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief. This is a character I definitely want to return to, as his adventures definitely brightened my February days.

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    • Trish
    • March 13th, 2012

    You have certainly been doing a lot of reading recently! Excellent reviews.

    It made me realise that I hardly ever read any fiction anymore. My current selection of books from the library are a mixture of non-fiction and autobiographies/biographies:

    Practical Guide to Laying Floors (yes, I read the whole book and now know all about things like marine ply. Not that I am planning on laying any floors myself but at least I will know all about the different types when choosing one).

    Something Sensational to Read in the Train (Gyles Brandreth’s diary from the age of eleven to fiftyish) Great fun and very educational too. Lots about the theatre so you should like it.

    Low Fat Vegetarian Mediterranean recipes (sounds good but it will probably go back to the library without me making any recipes)

    A Life like other People’s (Alan Bennett) Gripping and amazingly perceptive. Heart-breaking though.

    The English Village (Martin Wainwright) A very Yorkshire/Lancashire bias which I liked because I used to live ‘up north’ and it made me quite nostalgic.

  1. March 23rd, 2012

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