Friday, February 9, 2018

January 2018 Reading

I miss doing a monthly summary of all that I've read so I thought I would try it again.  We'll see how long this lasts.

Here's what I read in January:

The Medicus Mystery Series by Ruth Downie.  I spent the early part of the New Year catching up on all the Ruth Downie Medicus mysteries.  About  year ago I read her first book in the series, simply entitled Medicus.  Since I am a big fan of Lindsey Davis' Roman mysteries I thought I might like it.  I did, but it took me a while to get back to them.  Finally I loaded up on the rest of them through the beginning of January and filled the very cold nights reading away.  There are now seven published novels with the eighth coming this year.  Although they are Roman, most of the action takes place in Brittania where Gaius Petreius Ruso is a doctor to the Roman legions.  Ruso is from the south of Gaul (France) and has joined up to make some money to pay off the debts left by his deceased father and to escape his ex-wife. Two of the books move out of Brittania, one into Gaul and one into Rome, but Downie constantly returns her hero to Brittania, specifically the area up near the border with Sccotland where the "barbarians" live.  Hadrian is building his wall during this time.  Her books seem well researched, her main character is appealing, the other characters are interesting and  it is a time period I'm interested in.  She does particularly well writing a male character that thinks the way women assume that men think (I have no idea of course if they really think that way.)  She also allows him all the prejudices of his time and doesn't make him perfect.  While I think I like the Lindsey Davis books a bit better, this is a good series and I'll continue to read it as books come out.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Eagan. I'm not sure what to say about this.  Full disclosure, I wasn't wild about A Visit From the Goon Squad.  I liked this novel better.  It kept my interest through most of the story.  She created a very believable world.  The story includes graphic descriptions of what it was like to go down in a diving suit during WWII that I found difficult to read because they made me claustrophobic.  There was an entire section set on a merchant marine ship that I found fascinating.  But it felt like she didn't know how to end it so, she just ended it.  And a key part of the story is how one character avoids sure death - and I found it completely unbelievable.  All in all, I think Jennifer Egan is just not for me.

Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett.  This was a re-read.  Lots of people I follow on Twitter are reading this series so I decided to re-read it.  I'll probably write about the whole series when I finish the re-read (and there are eight novels).  Dunnett is one of my favorite authors.  I read this novel when it first came out and then re-read it before every succeeding novel in the series came out.  But I didn't re-read it after the end of the last novel and I find myself interpreting the story in light of what ultimately happens to all the characters eight novels from now.