As the third month of the year comes to an end, I thought it would be nice to check in on my New Years resolution progress. This year was very simple -- I'm going to read at least 25 books. To date I have read ten books. That is probably the number I read in all of 2013 (or at least close), so I consider this a great step for 2014 Faith, exceeding my hope of two books a month. If you were talking to 2004 Faith she would be laughing in your face. Ten books was maybe a month's worth of reading for her. She read Terry Goodkind books in a week and took on the entire Star Wars EU in a summer. But she did not have a full time job, her own place, or this little problem 2014 Faith has with concentration. All together? We're getting there.
So January. So far this was the month that saw the most reading. Probably because of the books I picked. The Indigo Spell was a fun and quick read, taking very little time. It's been a while since I read the rest of the Bloodline books, so I may reread them before picking up the next one. I liked seeing the evolution of the characters. The way Sydney has gone from straight-laced Alchemist to questioning the very core of her identity feels very natural. The ending, on the other hand, felt a little rushed. No make that very rushed. It just seemed like there were too many plots crammed into one. But the overall story arch is heading in an interesting direction, and what girl doesn't need a little Adrian Ivashkov in her life.
My favorite book was The Shambling Guide to New York City, a book I actually heard about on NPR (the author is local to our area). It's been on my to-read list for a while and I finally picked it up. Mur Lafferty tells the story of Zoe, a young travel writer, trying to make her way in New York after her personal life forces her to leave her reputable job in Raleigh. Basic premise, right? Except that Zoe ends up working on a travel guide for the undead (and various strains of fae). I found it immensely entertaining and refreshingly original. The sequel was just published and I have plans to pick it up soon.
Least favorite of the month is a tie between The Good, The Bad, and The Undead and The Casual Vacancy. I really enjoyed the first of The Hollows, Dead Witch Walking, but this one did not do it for me. The first reminded me of the Anita Blake series (The early books. I stopped reading after it turned from vampire hunter to supernatural erotica. There are only so many times I will believe that your characters are a version of incubus and need very explicit sex to survive) but the second fell short. I won't spoil it for you, but I don't like the way the demon storyline progressed. It really annoyed me that things had to go that dire that fast. At the same time, I'm curious to see what happens and I am not nearly as frustrated as I was when I finished reading. I often find second books frustrating, so I am hopeful that book three will turn things around.
The Casual Vacancy was a different kind of frustrating. I did not expect it to be another Harry Potter, but I also did not expect it to be nearly as long winded. Maybe this is a story that will grow better with time, or maybe the reader needs to have read fewer books that deal with masturbating teenage boys (My Jewish humor professor seemed to think that this was an important part of all good fiction). It hit the same tone as The Virgin Suicides, just with more politics. Overall I would not say it was a bad novel, it was often just either too melancholy or not melancholy enough to really hit its stride. I would actually recommend it to adult Rowling fans, but with the caveat that it is a long slog full of characters you are just dying to slap.
I also read Infected, which was probably the most interesting reading experience I've had in a while. I happened to be reading it when I stayed home with a really bad migraine. I laid in bed and started to read it, only to realize when it was too late how stupid it is to read a book about a massive outbreak when you are home sick. And the kind of outbreak that it is? Well that just hit all my levels of paranoia, which should tell you just how brilliant of a novel it is. I remember listening to the start of the serialized version when I was in college before it was published and being unable to finish the first chapter. I have a vivid memory of walking to the library and becoming suddenly, irrationally, and unequivocally terrified. The same thing happened when reading it home alone in bed only this time I could not put it down. I've bought the second book because the ending was just that good but I haven't had the time to be that freaked out again. Hopefully soon as we're looking to move again and I'm always more paranoid when we first get in a new place.
So that was January. I'll try to start doing these check-ins in a more promptly, but I make no promises. The more I'm reading the less time I am writing, and I desperately need to get back to these.