February has been a month in which I have tried to read 12 books set in different countries around the world. This is for my 12 in 12 Challenge which has been designed to help me get through some of the books that have been on my to-be-read shelves for longest by creating a new theme each month and trying to read 12 books which fall into it. For February I actually read 13 books which were part of the challenge, most of which were physical books. It was a good idea to choose this theme because it was easy to find books which were set in different countries and, in fact, I have a few more set aside which I didn’t get to.
Some years ago I got into a bit of a reading rut which meant that all the books I read were very similar. At that time I really only read books set in the UK and USA. I also didn’t like historical novels and avoided most literary fiction. I was adamant that I wasn’t going to listen to audio books. What changed for me was beginning to blog, firstly on the DNS Media site and now on my own, and interacting with other readers on social media and seeing their reviews and recommendations. My reading diet is much more varied now and my to-be-read pile has grown correspondingly bigger !
This month I read my fiftieth book of the year. This was The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. I actually listened to this on audio. This is a book I would probably not have read in print but which I really enjoyed. It is a melodrama and has lots of well used tropes such as mysterious Orientals, cursed stones, people with a secret past, lots of people with motives and young love fractured by suspicion. The bits about the mysterious East and the mystical powers of some Indians are a bit problematical now but the book is worth reading and I particularly recommend it on audio – my version was read by Peter Jeffery and I thought he really added to the experience.
In addition to the 13 books I read for my 12 in 12 Challenge I read a few other books this month and I give below those I think are worth reading :
- The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. I have read this book before but this month I listened to it on audio read by Alan Munro. He really captured this book and enhanced it for me. This is a short book but a really sad one and definitely worth reading if you haven’t encountered it before. It is set in 1920s Long Island (New York) where the rich and those who want to be seen as rich indulge themselves and party. When their bright and shiny world is challenged we see what sort of people they really are – spoiler – they aren’t nice people at all.
- As a change from the classics I read Death Comes to Cornwall by Kate Johnson. This is a cosy crime novel written with great wit and it kept me happily amused for a couple of hours while I read it and left me smiling. The beauty of the book is that our heroine, Molly Higgins, is essentially a sensible young woman trying to do her best in a world which seems to be stacked against her. When she and her ex (who also happens to be a TV star) find a body she realises that she has to prove her innocence by finding who actually did the crime. Very enjoyable. I gather that there will be a series featuring the same characters so I have already ordered the second volume.
- Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells is an urban fantasy set in our world but where magic is acknowledged and practiced. Kate Prospero has given up using dirty magic and is part of law enforcement but when she becomes embroiled in a case she is seconded to the Magical Enforcement Agency to try and find out what is happening and stop it. Great fun and the start of a series so I have bought the next one already.
- Iron Wolves by Andy Remic is also the first in a series. This book, which I was gifted by the publishers via NetGalley and should have read and reviewed a lot earlier than I have, is a fantasy novel. It is set around a band of mercenaries re-forming to fight off a threat. All the mercenaries are old and have problems, and they are not all willing to join the fight at first. The monarch is corrupt and the enemy is evil and seemingly unbeatable. This was a good enough novel of its type (think Joe Abercrombie, David Gemmel and James Barclay) but it didn’t engage me enough to consider buying the sequel – if you like this sort of fantasy though you may like to give it a try.
- Into the Dark by Karen Rose is a romantic suspense novel and one of a series. I have all her books although this one came free via NetGalley and the publishers. It has a relationship at the core of the story but also a tension filled search for the bad guys and an effort to keep some children safe from a serial killer out for revenge. I love this sort of novel and this is a great read. I was also pleased to see deaf characters playing a full part in the story and the story not just being about their disability. This doesn’t happen too often (although I can think of novels by Jeffery Deaver and Suzanne Brockmann which do the same) and it made a pleasant change.
As I said, lots of variety in my reading diet now. I hope that you may consider one or more of these books or one of the books I read and reviewed during the month set in different countries.
My March 12 in 12 Challenge is to read 12 biographies or memoirs during the month. I had better get started !
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