It’s almost Spring, so we just need to hang on in there for a wee bit longer.
February was not a bad reading month. I had a bit of a gap in the middle where I didn’t make that much progress but it wasn’t a slump; I was enjoying what I was reading, I was just distracted by other things.
- Books read = 6
- Pages read = 1952
- Progress against my reading goals = 13% (2 books ahead of schedule to meet 72 books read in 2023)
- Progress against my TBR reduction goals = near miss 😦
The goal for TBR reduction was to read 28 short stories in February (ie one a day) and the stretch goal was to read 4 novellas (ie one a week). I managed to read 25 short stories and 2 novellas. Perhaps if I’d concentrated on the short stories I’d have been successful, but do you know what? I still got four items off my stack and that’s a win for me.
Don’t ask how many books came into the Bride’s collection during the month, though. Just don’t. 🙂
What did I read for the challenge?
The Talosite by Rebecca Campbell
It’s 1916, during the First World War, in an alternate world where resurrection is possible. Anne Markham, the daughter of a celebrated neurologist, is reusing the bodies of the dead, combining them into new forms and sending them back into combat, building creatures so complex, and so enormous, that they can encompass all of the fallen.
I loved this story, so grim but also beautifully written and deeply strange. Found myself trying to visualise the creatures being created and couldn’t quite get there. Will definitely be re-reading this story.
The Catch by Mick Herron
John Bachelor is the saddest kind of spy: not a joe in the field, not even a desk jockey, but a milkman—a part-time pension administrator whose main job is to check in on aging retired spies. Late in his career and having lost his wife, his house, and his savings after a series of unlucky choices, John’s been living in a dead man’s London apartment, hoping the bureaucracy isn’t going to catch up with him and leave him homeless. But keeping a secret among spies is a fool’s errand, and now John has made himself eminently blackmailable.
Another excellent addition to the Slough House world, this fits in to the series after Book 6, which I haven’t read yet but I don’t think it matters that I came to this out of order. I love this world so much.
The Best Horror of the Year Volume 14, edited by Ellen Datlow
Like all anthologies there are stories included that just don’t work for me, but it did include one of favourites from the last year – Shards by Ian Rogers which I had read as a standalone but was very happy to revisit (and will no doubt read again).
Some favourite authors included and confirmation that I will enjoy Eric LaRocca’s work.
Ghost 19 by Simone St James – classed as a short story for the purposes of this challenge
A woman moves to a town where she becomes obsessed with watching the lives of her neighbours while stuck in a house that refuses to let her leave
This story gave me very strong Rear Window vibes and I am not mad about that at all. Nicely creepy, and I really liked Ginette.I really must read The Book of Cold Cases……
I also managed to read a couple of other titles:
The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallet
Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?
Another nicely twisty novel by Ms Hallett, this is told through exchanges between two true crime authors forced to collaborate on the same story, that of the Alperton Angels, a cult who were convinced that the Antichrist had been born to a young woman within the group and that they needed to kill it. Clearly all is not as it appears and we watch the story unfold. I can’t resist anything to do with cults so enjoyed this very much (though I still think The Appeal is the best of her three novels so far)
Enemies Within: Communists, the Cambridge Spies and the Making of Modern Britain by Richard Davenport-Hines
I also can’t resist anything about the Cambridge Five in particular and espionage in general, so picked this up recently though I think it’s been out for a while. I found it really enjoyable to read (you should see the quotes I pulled for my reading journal – pages of them) because the author writes wonderfully bitchy pen portraits of almost everyone involved, however tangentially, but I was not entirely convinced by his thesis that it was less about class and more about the culture of masculinity, though that undoubtedly played a role. Not sure it had the impact on the “making of modern Britain” that he suggests, and his dislike of certain individuals comes across so strongly that I think it undermines his position, but I’m glad I read it.
So that’s it for this month. Hope you are all well and having a great almost the end of winter!