February 2015’s reads of a slacking pedometer geek

Two months down in this pedometer geek’s quest to continue the New Year’s resolutions of putting steps on the pedometer and reading more books. While the calendar indicates that February is the shortest month, with record low temperatures and snowfall after snowfall, it seemed long at times.

For this pedometer geek, the weather affected step totals, but not as much as it could have. (I suppose I could have got on the treadmill which sits on the unheated porch, but I didn’t. But I digress.) Although the total number of steps on the pedometer for the month was less than January’s total of a little more 138,000, the total for February with three fewer days was 133,708 with an average of 4,789 steps. That was a small improvement for this slacking pedometer geek. Three days of walking had aerobic steps totaling 5,823, but there weren’t any days in which this pedometer geek managed to reach the daily goal of 10,000 steps. In any case, March is already shaping up for an improvement, and with an optimism born of melting snow and rising temperatures, the low point of the year has already been met.

Fortunately, February’s reading resolutions fared better. There are several. The main one is to read more books. The others are connected to self-imposed challenges through http://www.bookcrossing.com. I have a few ongoing challenges through http://www.Goodreads.com, but I digress again. The first of these bookcrossing reading challenges is the SIY (set-it-yourself) challenge, which is a quarterly challenge to read a particular list of books (in this quarter, fifteen books). The other challenge is the pages-read challenge, a yearly challenge to read a chosen number of pages (35,000 pages).

Eleven books were read and/or completed during the month. Only one of the books was nonfiction; the rest were fiction. The fiction was broken down into the various genres of historical fiction, suspense, romance, and general fiction, making a diverse mixture of reading material. Seven and a half of the authors were authors this pedometer geek hadn’t read previously. Two of the books were read in an e-book format.

Now back to the bookcrossing challenges. In the SIY challenge, three books were completed from the list leaving a total of eight books to be completed before the end of March. It may be difficult, but not impossible to complete this quarter’s challenge.

In the other challenge, the pages-read challenge, there were 3083 pages read in February bringing the yearly total to 6029 pages read. At this pace, the goal should be met and could even be increased.

In February, the following books were read:
Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Leslie Howe
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier *
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley *
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Captivated by Megan Hart and Tiffany Reisz
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander *
The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen
The Seduction of Emily by Rachel Brimble
The Road to Gandolfo by Robert Ludlum

From a memoir to romance to suspense to some magical realism to historical fiction of different periods, this list contains a (somewhat) diverse set of reading material. Except for Rebecca Alexander’s The Secrets of Life and Death, which was extensively reviewed at http://www.pedometergeek.wordpress.com, all will briefly discussed.

Leslie Howe’s Hatshepsut: The Pharaoh’s Daughter is a historical retelling of the woman who may have raised Moses as her child (at least that is the premise behind the story), but she definitely ruled as a pharaoh for a period of time. While not specifically written for children, it could be read by children and adults alike.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen is general fiction. Like all of Allen’s novels, there is an element of magical realism. Kate, a recent widow, and her daughter find a postcard sent years earlier by her great-aunt inviting them to Lost Lake, a resort. Just as her aunt is planning on selling the rundown resort, Kate’s visit seems to revitalize the place, her great-aunt, her daughter, and herself.

Tracy Chevalier’s The Last Runaway is a novel set in Oberlin, Ohio in the early 1800s during the time of the Fugitive Slave Law and the Underground Railroad. Quakers are living in the fictional town of Faithwell and two sisters are traveling there. One has plans to marry, but the other is escaping her life in England. Yet only one sister arrives as the other has succumbed to yellow fever. Honor Bright is the sister who has no real plans for her life, and her arrival causes problems for everyone in Faithwell as she is vehemently opposed to slavery and helps with escaped slaves in the Underground Railroad.

A Long Way Home is a memoir of Saroo Brierley. As a youngster aged four in India, he became lost in a railway station. His older brother of thirteen had taken him with him on his adventure to the next town, but through a series of problems and missteps, they became separated. Saroo’s idea was to return home, but he hopped onto the wrong train. Hours and, perhaps, days later, he emerged from this train in Calcutta totally lost. Surviving on the streets for some time, he eventually ended up in an orphanage. He was adopted by a loving family in Hobart, Tasmania. This is his story of his life as he recalls it even finding his way back to his birth family and mother as an adult. It was truly a fascinating story of his life.

Mary Kubica’s debut novel, The Good Girl, is a suspense thriller about a young woman who is kidnapped for ransom. The woman is somewhat estranged from her wealthy family, particularly her father, a judge. The person, who is paid to grab her though, doesn’t follow through quite as expected. Told from the perspectives of several characters (the detective, the kidnapper, and the girl’s mother), each recounts events both before and after the kidnapping, making this a compelling and intriguing read.

Captivated by Megan Hart and Tiffany Reisz is actually two contemporary erotic romance novellas. Each is a complete story. The first by Megan Hart (the author previously unread) was a lonely boy meets lonely girl story. Tiffany Reisz’s novella is a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a happier ending than the original.

The second Allen novel read, First Frost, was the sequel to her debut novel, Garden Spells. This tale follows the further adventures of the Waverley women first introduced in Garden Spells. Like its predecessor, there are magical moments in First Frost that include the apple tree. Although First Frost could be read without having read the first (the author fills in the background throughout the telling of this one), don’t. Both are delightful reads. The only downside to this read was that it was the last of her novels; all the rest have been read. Until she pens another, that is.

A novel, The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen, reminded me of the stories of Allen. This one too had moments of magical realism as a woman lives in a garden that grows despite the valley’s drought. This comes with a downside as she can’t really leave the farm, nor can she touch anyone without dangerous consequences. When her love returns to the area, she is forced to consider a different life. This story is, at its heart, is a love story, but it also has forgiveness and redemption as themes. It was an engaging story, giving this reader another author to further explore.

Rachel Brimble’s The Seduction of Emily is a historical romance. A betrothed young woman, Emily, meets a handsome man who excites her. For Emily, this tempting man, Will, causes difficulty because both her and Nicholas’s father have arranged this marriage. Yet Nicholas, whom she has known for childhood, has become increasingly cruel. Were she to break the engagement, it will cost her everything. This romance novel was unusual in that it brought up the subject of abuse and abusive men who prey on women. It also showed a woman who wanted to have a true partnership with a man, rather a totally subordinate role.

Robert Ludlum, writing under the pseudonym of Michael Shepherd, penned the humorous suspense thriller, The Road to Gandolfo. Although this is the first of his novels to have been read by this reader, it is said to be a departure from his usual fare. The premise of the story is that a highly decorated, but out-of-control, general, who is unceremoniously mustered out of the armed forces, decides to kidnap the Pope for ransom (a dollar for each member of Roman Catholics in the world). Like a well-organized tactical plan, he manipulates and plans using his army attorney, his ex-wives, and a group of special ops forces from around the world. All the while, the attorney just wants to stop the madness and go back to a normal life. It is an over-the-top, madcap tale, yet the Pope he describes is reminiscent of the current Pope in character and attitude despite being written in 1979.

That’s it for February’s reads. Now, this pedometer geek has to put more steps on the pedometer and finish those last books for SIY challenge before the end of March. As winter gives way to spring, what are you reading?

* SIY challenge books

About pedometergeek

A pharmacist by profession, a haiku poet by nature, I read and write. I have a book of haiku, Ohayo Haiku, and another somewhat alternative haiku book, Three Breaths, but write other genres. I also read...lots of novels! My favorite is, and remains, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged but I am also a big Harry Potter fan. I truly am a pedometer geek strapping on my pedometer as soon as I awaken.
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