Into the New Year

I’ve missed my annual “book report” by a week or so, but here it is. In 2017 I read 67 books: 11 romances, 33 mysteries, 5 science fiction novels, 9 general fiction, and 9 nonfiction books. 39 of those (I think) were ebooks, about the same (almost 60 percent) as last year. I have at last count 525 digital titles in my Amazon cloud. I don’t even want to guess at the number of paper books, read or unread, on the shelves holding up my house. Here are two books from the general fiction category.

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Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria was written in parallel to her screenplay for the BBC Victoria Victoriaseries, and it covers only the first part of the story, from Victoria’s ascension to the throne to her proposal of marriage to her cousin Albert (as a reigning queen, she had to pop the question herself). The novel is light, readable, very entertaining, based on Goodwin’s research and her reading of Victoria’s own journals. I suspect that the Lord Melbourne of the novel (and the TV series) may be a bit more attractive and romantic than the real man, but one can sympathize with Victoria, going from sheltered girl, controlled by her loving but overwhelming mother, to Queen of England when she was barely eighteen.

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I enjoyed this so much that I have picked up copies of Goodwin’s previous novels, The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter. Just what I need, more books To Be Read.

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Michael Crichton’s posthumous novel Dragon Teeth sounded like something I’d love: the great nineteenth century fossil hunting rivalry between Professors Cope and Marsh, Dragon Teethadventures in the Wild West. I have a couple of Crichton’s novels on my shelf, but I haven’t read his work in years. Alas, I found Dragon Teeth only mildly entertaining. It’s written in an omniscient viewpoint that really doesn’t engender any deep connections with the characters. Even the main (and fictional) character of William Johnson remains at arm’s length from the reader; Crichton often falls back on “had he but known” and “later he would write” descriptions. The pace didn’t pick up until the last third of the book, when Johnson falls in with Wyatt and Morgan Earp. Crichton was always known for his story telling rather than his writing; in Dragon Teeth even the story telling is rather slow.

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According to the Afterword, the novel goes back to the 70s. There is a three page bibliography, and the setting and descriptions are clearly well researched. But one suspects why Crichton chose not to publish it a long time ago.

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In 2018 I hope to read another sixty or seventy books. I’ve set my Goodreads goal at sixty again this year. Happy New Year, and Happy Reading to all!