04 February 2010

Don't-Miss Books to Read in February

February in Pennsylvania can be cold and dreary, which makes it perfect for staying indoors and getting in some great reading. Here are seven books that I'm looking forward to.

Other Places / Other Times

Small Wars by Sadie Jones transports us to 1950s Cyprus, where British Major Hal Treherne and his wife, Clara, have been transferred. Instead of relaxing in the sunny Mediterranean climate, they find themselves separated by war, each facing his or her own dangers.

The Black Hills by Dan Simmons follows Paha Sapa from the battle at Little Big Horn through to the 1930s and the presidency of FDR. When Paha Sapa counts coup on the dying General Custer, the white man's ghost enters his body, and the Sioux warrior "will hear [the ghost's] voice within him for the rest of his long and eventful life" (publisher's summary).

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez takes place in the early 1850s. Tawawa House, in Ohio, is a fashionable summer retreat for southern gentlemen, and there six slaves meet, become friends, and get their first glimpse of free blacks.

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell is a retelling and fleshing out of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In this version, we see an older Juliet who is determined not to marry the boring and hideous man her parents have picked out for her. She is in despair, until she meets Romeo at a party--it is love at first sight.

Nonfiction + Contemporary Fiction

Flawless by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell is subtitled Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History. In February 2003, a group of thieves pulled off the impossible: They robbed the Antwerp Diamond Center, making off with a half a billion dollars worth of stones. According to the publisher's summary: "This real-life Ocean's Eleven--a combination of diamond history, journalistic reportage, and riveting true-crime story--provides a thrilling in-depth study detailing the better-than-fiction heist of the century."

Brava Valentine is the second in Adriana Trigiani's Valentine series. From Tuscany to Greenwich Village to Buenos Aries, we follow Valentine as she struggles to find happiness and to keep the family shoes business intact. The novel "delivers a hilarious and poignant mix of colorful worlds and unforgettable characters" (publisher's summary).

In Shadow Tag, Louise Erdrich introduces us to a family that is barely holding together. Irene and Gil attempt to put on a united front for the sake of their children, but as that becomes increasingly difficult, Irene thinks about divorce. "In brilliantly controlled prose, Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family's struggle for survival and redemption" (publisher's summary).

I like the mix of this batch of books, and hope I can read at least a few by the end of the month. What are you looking forward to reading this month?


Hazra 2/4/10, 7:56 AM  

Flawless sounds really cool; I love heist books and movies! I'm planning on reading the Gameworld trilogy by Samit Basu this month: I'm on the first book and I'm hooked! No new books, I'm afraid, I have a pile of want-to-read-as-fast-as-I-can books on my shelf already!

Julie P. 2/4/10, 7:57 AM  

You're right about cold and dreary here in Central PA -- 8 to 18 inches this weekend! I have a few of those myself and hope to read them this month too!

Beth 2/4/10, 8:02 AM  

I really want to read Wench. Looks like I'm going to have to break down and order it for le Kindle this weekend if I make it through Roses. They're forecasting another 18-26 inches for the Baltimore area and we don't have TV, so lots of reading (and baking!) time this weekend!

bermudaonion 2/4/10, 8:05 AM  

All of those books look good - it would be hard to decide which one to read next! We actually do have a slight chance of snow this weekend ourselves.

JoAnn 2/4/10, 8:06 AM  

I want to read something by Louise Erdrich this month - probably Plague of Doves since it's in my tbr pile.

Sandy Nawrot 2/4/10, 8:26 AM  

Weather isn't bad down here my way. Maybe a little too much rain, but a nice, comfortable 70-ish degrees. Perfect for walking. I did not know Simmons had another book coming out. I've not read Drood, but I did read The Terror, which was really incredible.

Jill 2/4/10, 9:12 AM  

I just got Shadow Tag from the library yesterday! I'm looking forward to the Trigiani book, too. Other February releases I'm excited about: The Wife's Tale, The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Secrets of Eden, and The Postmistress.

Anonymous,  2/4/10, 10:51 AM  

Flawless sounds like a movie - I definitely will have to pick that up since there are no other diamonds in my February! Do you think Adriana's new series is better than her Big Stone Gap books? I tried and could never really lose myself in her characters, though this setting sounds more exotic and exciting than the last.

DanaB 2/4/10, 11:09 AM  

Oooo, I enjoy Adriana Trigiani books for easy, fun reading--I didn't know there was a new one! Thanks for that tip ;)

Small Wars I have seen mentioned somewhere else as well. I'm interested to see what you think about it when you get to reading it.


Heather 2/4/10, 11:32 AM  

Hi Beth,
I like your reading list. I haven't read any of them. After seeing what you've done, I went and created a similar post over at my blog. Heather's list of February Reads.

Serena 2/4/10, 12:32 PM  

Looks like a great group of books. Happy reading. I'll probably be spending some of my snowy time similarly.

Carrie K. 2/4/10, 5:54 PM  

I have two buddy reads in February that I'm really looking forward to - the play The Importance of Being Earnest, and the book Admission.

Amused 2/4/10, 6:27 PM  

Wow, I want to read all of those books! I can't wait to see what you think of them! I am drooling right now looking at your TBR pile :)

Beth Kephart 2/5/10, 8:07 AM  

INCREDIBLE choices. I think I would love to read each one.

Athira 2/5/10, 9:11 AM  

I'm very interested in Wench and the Valentine series!

Alice 2/7/10, 5:15 AM  

O, Juliet sounds perfect for February!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 2/9/10, 10:06 PM  

I have WENCH on my wish list, but I'll have to wait until March to get it. I just started BRAVA, VALENTINE and am getting into a stride with it.

You've got some great books on your not-to-be-missed list.

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