- Ben Aaronovitch: Moon Over SoHo
I enjoyed this as much as the first book, maybe more. The writing is witty and delightful--a lot British slang, which I am enjoying. I wish I wrote half as well as Aaronovitch. Great stuff here.
- Ben Aaronovitch: Midnight Riot
Or as it was released in the UK, THE RIVERS OF LONDON. Absolutely charming. My favorite genre, contemporary urban fantasy, this vehicle is brilliantly done. The protagonist, Peter Grant, is a probationary constable when he sees his first ghost and is taken as an apprentice by the head of investigatory magic in the UK.As his apprentice, Peter is required to move in with his "master" at the large old mansion known as "The Folly." There is some science to flesh out the magic, and a lot of humor. And the city of London...I place I visited twice in my life but not for more than 20 years...is a huge character in the novel. My lust to go back has only been fanned. Quite enjoyable. On to the next book! (Yes, there are 3!)
- Debora Geary: Modern Witch
This would be a great first draft for a creative writing class in community college. It is not a fully developed story. *skip the whole series* I tried book II (of VII), and it was just as weak. The fact that this is the #1 selling Kindle e-book scares me a bit.
Scott Spencer: A Ship Made of Paper: A Novel
Great writing, a great story, despicable, self-centered characters, and a repugnant ending that made me very angry. I should write a full blog review of this book.
Terri Reid: Veiled Passages - A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery (Book 10) (Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mysteries)
I was poking around Amazon last night and was delighted to see that Ms. Reid has another edition in her Mary O'Reilly series. I just love these stories--Mary, a former Chicago policewoman who was badly injured on the job, and can now speak to ghosts--they are a breath of fresh air about good people living good lives. The writing and plotting gets better with every book, and finally, Mary and her fiance local police chief Bradley Alden finally...! Well, l you'll have to read for yourself. Wonderful.
Shirley Hazzard: The Transit of Venus
The expressive use of language, which is implied more than implicit, makes this a very different, but moving read. The book's structure is different in that events are given, almost as a throwaway, that have major repercussions at the end of the book. Perhaps mostly about the randomness of life and love, this book could only have been written by someone British. Sad, painful, but so exquisite.
Kay Redfield Jamison: An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
Insightful, inspiring, full of hope as well as beautifully written, I would like to read more of Dr. Jamison's books.
Patricia Briggs: Fair Game (Alpha And Omega)
This, the third in the Alpha/Omega series, is, by far, the best of the series. The plotting, the settings, the tone, the characters and writing were all top notch. Now we're talking Ms. Briggs. Book IV? Bring it.
Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl: A Novel
To be honest, I basically guessed the arc of this story from the reivews. Having said that, however, the writing is first rate and the inherent cultural differences between NYC and Missouri were often hysterical, although they later trended to snide and nasty as the book reached its surprising--for me--conclusion. I enjoyed it enough to investigate Ms. Flynn's other books.
Patricia Briggs: Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Book 2)
Meh. Not as good as I hoped. I decided to quit reading this series, but changed my mind and sampled book III, which is very, very good. This one moves the characters along but, *yawn*.
Julie Orringer: The Invisible Bridge (Vintage Contemporaries)
This story broke my heart. It starts out in Hungary and then Paris in 1937 and follows the life of an architecture student, his family and friends, through WW II, and their experiences with the Nazis and the war in Hungary. I'm fascinated by anything WW II and this book was no exception. Extremely well written, it left me wondering if part of the story were based on real people. Highly recommend.
Patricia Briggs: Cry Wolf (Alpha And Omega)
I liked Briggs' Mercy Thompson series so much, I thought I'd try these new characters set in the same world. Not as good as the Mercy series, more "romance" than action, but still, good enough to read Book II.
Patricia Briggs: Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, Book 7)
The best yet. How can Briggs keep this up? Hell, how can I. How long until the next book?
Patricia Briggs: River Marked (Mercy Thompson, Book 6)
OMG. I can't stop...help...so good!
Patricia Briggs: Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, Book 5)
Like crack. I'm serious. I'm spending my last dollar to buy these books. I can't help myself. I need an intervention!!!! Aaaaah!
Patricia Briggs: Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, Book 4)
Better with each book!
Patricia Briggs: Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson)
Addictive and fun!
Patricia Briggs: Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, Book 2) (Mercedes Thompson)
This was a lot of fun, also. A little more serious than the first book, but I still like all the characters and the world they live in, so I'll go on to the next book. Plus--I love strong female characters. Mercedes--Mercy--Thompson, the VW mechanic (take your VW to Mercedes! :-) is a great role model for women.
Patricia Briggs: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Book 1)
I discovered this series via the literary pinup calender that Patrick Rothfuss was selling on his blog (Google it) for his annual Worldbuilder's fundraiser for Heifer International. This was my second year purchasing one, and every month is more beautiful and charming than the last. This year they got Ray Bradbury involved--and now he's gone. RIP.
So I checked out the first book, and although the writing leaves a little to be desired, the characters, storytelling, and worldbuilding are really first rate. There are a lot of books in this series, I hope the author gets better and better with each one.
Richard Kadrey: Butcher Bird: A Novel Of The Dominion
I have to tell you, this dude, Richard Kadrey, has some really out there, inventive, wild, gross, horrific, and ghastly ideas. But his stories are so good--about becoming more than we expected we could be; of finding compassion, both giving and receiving; and a quest story. I always enjoy those. I hope he writes a sequel to this story. It was really out there and I loved it.
Robert T. Kiyosaki: Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
I don't know where I'll end up down this financial rabbit hole, all I know is that I need to change my attitude and actions about money and finances. This is a really good start--it has changed my view of finances radically. On to the next book (that can help me).
John Sandford: Mad River (A Virgil Flowers Novel)
Damn, I love this series. I could read Sandford every day. I love Virgil and Davenport. Just good crime fiction. Yumm-E.
Laini Taylor: Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
This is book two of a trilogy, and sometimes authors falter in book II because (I feel like) an editor somewhere told them to stretch things out into a trilogy to sell more books. This was not one of those books. It met the expectations raised by book I (see review a little lower down), and even went to some really imaginative places that I didn't expect. I'll be looking forward to reading book III, whenever that is. This is good writing/storytelling here, peeps. A+
Margaret Finnegan: The Goddess Lounge
Hilarious. This author nails LA and its quirky, humanity challenged residents along with their obsessive need to find a good parking spot and outwit the heavy traffic that is so ubiquitous. And get across town with minimal fuss. Very funny.
Richard Kadrey: Devil Said Bang: A Sandman Slim Novel
Brilliant. Every chapter was full of surprising twists and turns, and I just let the author lead me by the hand on another wild adventure with Sandman Slim. Just...wow.
Terri Reid: Twisted Paths - A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery (Book Nine) (Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mysteries)
Insomnia drove me to Amazon to see if Reid had published her 9th volume in the Mary O'Reilly series. It had. I bought it and read the whole thing in one sitting. It was perfect, uplifting, light reading for the long, sleepless night.
Richard Kadrey: Aloha from Hell: A Sandman Slim Novel
I just can't get enough of this witty, scary, smelly, series from Richard Kadrey. It's the perfect escapist read for long winter nights.
Richard Kadrey: Kill the Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel
More of the same from Sandman Slim, only now with zombies. Hell yeah.
Richard Kadrey: Sandman Slim: A Novel
I really enjoy urban fantasy, and this one really stands out from the crowd. With unique characters--a protagonist who returned from hell, alive and who is now a brutal and vicious problem solver for both Lucifer and an Angel of the Lord--a bodiless head that is a data mining fool--pretty, dangerous women--cosmic eternal forces battling it out for good or evil (heaven and hell), and some of the best one-liners I've heard in a long, long time. A bit Dashiell Hammet noir, but I really like that.
Laini Taylor: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
A National Book Award finalist for her book of short stories LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES, this book was actually recommended to me by author Daniel O'Malley of THE ROOK, who said it was so good he wanted to sneak onto the fire stairs at work to read it. He was so right. This might be one of the most amazing books I've ever read. I got a Kindle sample and was bored at first by the usual teenage angst made popular by TWILIGHT and other books. Then it made a radical left turn into a place I've never been before. Using religious dogma about the seraphim; mythical stories of the Chimaera; and a frightening yet compassionate chimaera, Brimstone, who is a master resurrectionist. He raised Karou, our protagonist, up from a human baby, like his own child. Brimstone needs teeth--animal and human--to remake the chimaera dead who are at war with the Seraphim on their home world, Eretz, which exists in another universe. Karou grows up running errands for Brimstone, a father-figure to her, and the only family she's ever known. When universes collide, we go somewhere I never expected.. The sheer brilliance, the genius of this story, and the magical, clean but complex writing make this an author I will follow for life. Authors and stories like this come around once in a generation--Tolkien, Butcher, Martin. I've already started the next book DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. Do yourself a favor, and pick up a copy. It's a shining, authentic, substantive, fleshed-out reality that took me to a unique place I didn't know existed, but that I'd always wanted to be.
Daniel O'Malley: The Rook: A Novel
I enjoyed this quite a lot. This fantastical tale of an executive administrator for a secret, supernatural organization who abruptly loses her memory and has to put her life back together from scratch is full of humor, weird creatures, and strange situations. I had no idea where the author was going with this, and was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
Kami Garcia: Beautiful Creatures
Less sparkly vampires, less mushy "oh I love him so much", but with way more teenage angst. Too bad. The writing is very good, but the story? Flat. Maybe if I were 15 I would enjoy it. Meh.
Jim Butcher: Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Holy sh*t, Batman...sit down, hang on, and enjoy the riiiiiiiide. What an awesome, awesome, fantabulous tale. Jim...I love you. Will you marry me? Damn.
Dan Simmons: Drood
This is a hefty, labyrinthine, inter- and meta-textual muthereffer of a story. I finished this marathon doorstopper of a book last night *(12/15/12). In short, it was one long mindf*ck. Think of a 19th century Hunter S. Thompson tale starring two great authors of the day, Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. There's not enough room here to review it properly, but Dan Simmons is a fantastic writer. Enjoyed this a great deal. Still not sure what happened. But I like that.
John Galsworthy: The Forsyte Saga Collection (Three epic novels and two short stories in one volume!)
Well, I finished it last night. This book is dense and the language is from another era, so it is not a book to be plowed through quickly. I stopped at Part II some months ago, and picked it up early this week. It's a sad book about unfortunate people--people who are wealthy monetarily, but live such sad, lonely, emotionally bereft lives. So sad. I'm glad these are characters in a book, and not anyone I know.
Charles Schmidt: World of Vacancy
To say this book is gritty is like equivocating cancer to a bad cold. It delves deeply and honestly into the world of addiction--places that are harsh, cruel, and horrible--and Schmidt writes as if he knows firsthand what he is speaking about. Sometimes difficult to read--it is a horror novel--the writing is crisp and moves along at a good clip. The characters should be unlikeable but we root for them anyway. The moral dilemmas are sometimes unclear or so close to the edge that it's unclear who is pushing close to the edge of immorality and who is going over. But that's part of the charm of this story. Fantastic read.
- S.M. Stirling: The Lord of Mountains
I should hate this book, but the truth is, I loved it. It's full of lot's of fighting, scouting, and battle scenes; swords, bucklers; siagn dubh; kilts; cotieharddes; shields; dirks; helmets; gauntlets; chain mail; armor; sigils; septs; g*ds and g*ddesses; horses; blood; shit; death; dismemberment and war. It is not a happy book and it is not character driven. But I do love all the characters. I've been with this series for 12 books now, and as long as Stirling keeps writing them, I'll keep reading them. I LOVE the world he's created (post-apocalyptic, no electricity or combustion works). So awesome.
- Tad Williams: The War of the Flowers
The behemoth of a book, over 800 pages, was everything that I love in genre-mixing urban fantasy. Williams covers every angle of his world building and there is nothing left to wonder about or lacking. His contemporary San Francisco and his faerie realm are both completely fleshed out. The protagonist, Theo, is kind of a whiny PITA, and he doesn't grow much even after 800 pages, but the other characters are really fun. I enjoyed my time in Tad's world.
- S.M. Sterling: The High King of Montival
After getting about halfway through the book, I realized that I had read it, but I'd forgotten nearly everything in the story. No surprise there. *hmph* Still, it was a terrific journey through post-Change America with Rudie and friends. On to the next book.
- S.M. Sterling: The Tears of the Sun
I was surprised at so many bad or disappointed reviews of this on Amazon. The two protagonists, Rudi and Matti, have only a small role in this book. It is, however, interesting as hell. As Rudi and crew are making their way West back to Montival from Nantucket, TTotSun is the story of the prep for war in Montival for when Rudi and his team arrive back in Montival to fight the CUT (church universal and triumphant), whose leaders have been taken over by the Adversary. There is a lot of good information and story here, and it reminded me of A FEAST FOR CROWS by G.R.R. Martin, who is friends with Sterling, so that's not a far leap, in that this is the story of what happened to the other people in the Emberverse. I loved it. I also read this before THE HIGH KING OF MONTIVAL, which, despite being listed in that order on the author's website, is backwards. The High King... should be read first. 10+
- Tad Williams: The Dirty Streets of Heaven
I had high expectations but was a bit disappointed. You can read my full review on Goodreads.
- Alexander McCall Smith: The Forgotten Affairs of Youth
Just gets better and better with every book.
- Alexander McCall Smith: The Charming Quirks of Others
Enjoyed it very much. Such a sweet series of stories.
- Corwyn Alvarez: The Dog Walker
This might be one of my favorite books I've read this year. I thought I went into this first-time novelist's story without expectations, but clearly that was wrong because I was surprised and even shocked by several things in the story. That is good writing.
I loved good-hearted Benny who believes in the inherent goodness of everyone, and his overwhelming love for dogs. Although it reminded me a tiny bit of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon, but that's not right either. I think perhaps I should say CIotDitN inspired The Dog Walker. Both protagonists are young men who see the world differently, other than that, the story's are different.
I ate it up with a spoon. I look forward to many more stories from Mr. Alvarez
- Julian Barnes: The Sense of an Ending
Essentially, this thoughtful novel is about being human: Part I is about being young and full of vigor and wanting to take on the world and looking forward to the future.
Part II is about aging, regret, and the fallibility of the human mind--it remembers what it wants to remember. And that ultimately, memory does not always equal truth.
- Terri Reid: Broken Promises
Book 8 in the Mary O'Reilly mystery series--what can I say? Despite her need of a copyeditor, I am charmed by the characters and their stories. I also applaud Ms. Reid for self-publishing and making more money than she would have through traditional publishing. Congratulations!
- Alexander McCall Smith: The Lost Art of Gratitude
- Alexander McCall Smith: The Right Attitude to Rain
- Alexander McCall Smith: The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday
Big thumbs up.
- Alexander McCall Smith: the careful use of compliments
I love the Isabel Dalhouse novels and the character. They are so quiet, so peaceful, and the perfect relaxing book after a stressful day.
- Gregory Benford and David Brin: Heart of the Comet
Brilliant. Phenomenal. Written in 1986, this "hard science" science fiction book still stands up. Assumptions about Halley's comet written before it's 1986 appearance in this book are accurate. There is a lot of math, science, computers, vectors, logarithms, biology ad nauseum. If you like this, with two astrophysicist authors you get the real deal. If you don't, it's still cool because it's so amazing. this is probably one of the best plotted books I've ever written. As it occurs over 200 years--with the characters periodically entering "slots", deep near-freeze sleep, for years at a time, they "live" long lives. The writing is rich and full when it needs to be, and reflective also when it needs to be. Ultimately, this is a story about human courage and love. I can't recommend it any more highly.
- Alexander McCall Smith: Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
These books are not stories as much as they are conversations, with a large side of Edinburgh travelogue. The pacing is slow, the story is quiet, humble, and pleasant, but if you're having a lot of stress in your life, this IS the perfect series to read. Very calm, very ordered, very thoughtful. http://www.amazon.com/Friends-Lovers-Chocolate-Alexander-Mccall/dp/0676976662/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346517718&sr=8-1&keywords=friends%2C+lovers%2C+chocolate
- Stephen King: 11/22/63: A Novel
I've been a Stephen King fan since I read THE STAND when I was in high school. I've read nearly all of his books, and I've hated a few, TOMMYKNOCKERS for one I thought was complete drivel. There are a few more I didn't like. But this one? 11/22/63? I think it may be his best book, ever. I won't detail the plot, but his just reinforces the vastness if King's imagination, and how he can take things--things that don't exist, like time travel--and extrapolate them out to their logical conclusions. And he takes us back to a more innocent time in America--1958 - 1963, a time I remember from my childhood. It was great to re-visit that time. This book is brilliant. If you don't like King or Horror, try this one, I think you'll love it. I certainly did.
Helen Bryan: War Brides
Amazon recommended this book to me and, for $1.99, and a reading of a sample, I went for it and bought it. It started out so charmingly, reviewing the lives of five friends during a crucial time of WWII, and how they held down the house/farm and fought a war and loved men and raised children. I was shocked to read the acknowledgments where Bryan thanks her "sharp-eyed copyeditor" because the book feels as if it has had no editing whatsoever. The narrative is shaky and at times it is difficult to tell who is talking forcing me to go back a few pages or, at times, a few chapters. It held so much promise, but delivered far from what it should have been capable. I'm so glad it was only $1.99.
Paul Doiron: Bad Little Falls: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries)
In this book, Doiron's writing has really matured. The plotting is convoluted and quick; His protagonist, Mike Bowditch, is taking his lumps in the Siberia of Maine after his arrogant behavior in Book II. Game Warden's are not welcome there as the use of illegal drugs and poverty are both high--poaching for many "down east" is simply for survival. Mike gets in over his head--again--but we love him just the same. I can hardly wait to see what Doiron comes up with next. Fabulous writing.
Paul Doiron: Trespasser (Mike Bowditch Mysteries)
I love the Mike Bowditch character, I love the Maine settings with all the animals, rivers, lakes, vast forests, fishing camps, and ocean shores, but the mystery in this one was so twisted that I had no clue where the author was taking us. *squee* Outstanding.
Paul Doiron: The Poacher's Son
I just happened to see a short review of this series in our local paper on Sunday, so I bought this, the first book, for my Kindle, and loved the character, setting, and mystery so much, I bought the other two books and finished the last one last night. I hope Doiron (P: Dwerron) keeps writing his Mike Bowditch character. He is eminently flawed yet still tries his best to do what is right; the Maine wilderness setting is so intriguing--Maine has been on my to visit list for years. I ate these up with a spoon. No surprise he was nominated for an Edgar. Great writing.
Ann Werner: Crazy
This is a real page-turner that I whipped through in two days. If you like your pool- or beach-side entertainment reading taut, tense, and scary, then you'll enjoy this story. The characters and situations are realistic, and except for a few minor technical issues, moved smoothly along. I would change the inner-dialogue of the crazy person every few pages as I do not feel it moved the story along and gave away too much information on who the crazy person was. But that's just me.
Anne, Perry: Brunswick Gardens
I'm going to go ahead and point a finger at who I think the murderer is: Vita.
And I was right. Everything pointed to her, even the heavy-handed pointing by the author that "only a man" could've committed such a crime.
As I've said before, I love the details of the Victorian era, but the plots are becoming paper-thin, and I am reading them further and further apart. Too bad.
Victor Hugo: Les Misérables (Signet Classics)
*in progress* Loving it.
Ransom Riggs: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
This book was delightful. Down-to-earth, charming, and also very frightening. I loved it. It was a very unique tale. In many ways it is an allegory about the differences, or peculiarities, in all of us. I can't remember reading anything like this before. I hope there are more books with these characters.
Terri Reid: The Ghosts Of New Orleans (A PARANORMAL RESEARCH AND CONTAINMENT DIVISION (PRCD) CASE FILE)
Barely a plot, no point. Taking a break from self-published authors for a while.
Christopher Coake: You Came Back: A Novel
Loaned to me by my boss, this book is lush and gorgeous with the imagery and emotions that come with losing a child. Throw in the ghost of that child, and that mixes up the emotions pot quite a bit. Mark Fife, who lost not only his son Brendan in an accident, but soon after, his marriage to his wife, Chloe; a marriage he was not necessarily that happy in. Seven years later, a stranger begins stalking Mark, who is now recently engaged and happier than he thinks he may ever have been in his life, who tells him she lives in his old house and that his son is haunting it. The upsets the whole applecart of Mark, his ex-wife, and his fiancee's current lives, and the grief at the loss of their beautiful son starts all over again.
Mr. Coake teaches here in town at UNR, and I'm delighted to have enjoyed his book so much. What a word treat.
S D Tooley: Nothing Else Matters (Sam Caey Mystery)
Nope, not any better. Flat, unsympathetic characters; a self-absorbed protagonist; a ridiculous love story; a disjointed narrative; and a real WTF? ending. Almost a non-sequitor. Tooley, you need an editor. Seriously. I won't be moving on to the other six books.
S.D. Tooley: When the Dead Speak (Sam Casey Mystery)
Considering that the title is WHEN THE DEAD SPEAK, it's surprising that the dead speak only once in the entire book. Good idea, badly written. I'll try book II.
Stephen Penner: Blood Rite: A Maggie Devereaux Mystery (#2)
Much, much better than the first book, the author finds his way with strong characters, a maze of a plot, interesting Scots/Irish history, facts, and language, and an awesome ending. I'm waiting for Book 3. Hello?
Stephen Penner: Scottish Rite: A Maggie Devereaux Mystery (#1)
Charming story set in Aberdeen, Scotland. The author seems to really know his Gaelic and Scottish and Irish history. I enjoyed that more than the story which had some plot holes, but was still very relaxing to read. FREE for Amazon Prime members.
John Sandford: Shock Wave (A Virgil Flowers Novel)
For whatever reason, I just didn't really get into this one as much. The characters seemed thin and unsympathetic to me, even Virgil. Oh well. Can't win 'em all.
John Sandford: Stolen Prey
Not my favorite in the series, I think that will be BURIED PREY. This is a convoluted story about drug money laundering, vicious South American cartels, murder, hacking, gold, and even a bit with Virgil "f*ckin'" Flowers. There was only one thing that really surprised me, the rest I sort of saw coming. I'd like to know more about Davenport's home life than what we get.
John Sandford: Buried Prey
Oustanding. Davenport's first case off of patrol duty was never resolved to his satisfaction, and when the bodies of the two missing girls turn up 25 years later in a construction site, he knows they had the wrong guy. This intense and mesmerizing story gives us some Davenport history and background, and then brings us back to the present where he picks up the scent and is on the trail of a serial child killer. Sandford just gets better with every book.
E L James: Fifty Shades Trilogy: Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed 3-volume Boxed Set
Read my full review on a post at right.
John Sandford: Bad Blood (Virgil Flowers)
Perfection. The perfect distraction: A criminal investigation with just the right amount of tension and suspense, captivating my attention enough that I wasn't thinking of anything else in particular. Ahem. I love the protagonist, Virgil "f*ckin'" Flowers. There are three Sandford books as yet unread by me. I'm saving one for my trip.
Terri Reid: Secret Hollows - A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery (Book 7)
This might be the best of the series--less cozy and more character development, plot, and solving of mysteries. Also, less editorial problems than the previous books. I'll keep reading them as long as Reid keeps writing them--they're so relaxing to read before sleep.
Kristin Cashore: Graceling
Recommended by my MIL, this charming YA fantasy novel is a little derivative, yet still entertaining. I was disappointed, however, to learn that the subsequent two books do not follow the same characters. Too bad.
Anne Perry: Pentecost Alley: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt Novels)
Perry deviates from her usual formula here, and by that I mean the denouement coming two pages from the end. No, this story actually has two endings--without giving away too much, they arrest, try, and convict the wrong man, who hangs for his crime. Or did they? I think what I enjoy most about these books are the details of daily life in Victorian England. The mysteries are "ok", but the moral ambiguity of the major characters continues right along as it does in all the books. (Google Parker-Hulme murders.)
Fern Michaels: Weekend Warriors
What a POS. This was the worst use of $3.70 I've ever spent in my life. Written at a 6th grade reading level, poorly researched, all the characters are living in a criminal fantasy world where they think they can be vigilantes and get away with it, it's just crap. I should've known based on who recommend it to me. They shall not be named. DO NOT READ THIS unless your IQ is below 85. And then only maybe.
Lev Grossman: Codex
One of the stranger books I've read, I'm not quite sure what it was about, or trying to say, at least. It felt like a narcissistic tale of "who knows medieval history the best"? Interesting, but ultimately, I feel I know nothing about the characters. Just...weird, but in an intriguing way.
Terri Reid: Loose Ends - A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery (Book 1)
This e-novella was recommended to me by Amazon, and the first two were free (like any good drug *ahem*), and although the author seriously needs an editor (grammar and continuity errors), I fell in love with the characters and have now read five of the six published novellas. They get a little bit preachy (Christianity), the more books you go in, but I understood what the author was trying to say and just went with it. The main character can talk to ghosts, and I love that sort of thing. If you want some simple, plain entertainment, something to take your mind off of your life, these are perfect. And cheap.
Jon Fasman: The Geographer's Library
I was in a few chapters when I started to wonder what I'd gotten myself into and almost put it to the side, but I'm nothing if not adventurous (at least when it comes to books), and I pressed on. I'm very glad I did. This is an amazing fictional story based around a real historical figure, Al-Idrisi, an alchemist, cartographer, and geographer. The book is layered like a sandwich--first, contemporary times and a protagonist; then, a description of an archival tool or other artifact that belonged to Al-Idrisi; then, a story about a person who was in possession of, or, seeking to possess one of the alchemist's items, including Soviet-era spies.. There's also a murder mystery, and a tiny bit of romance (unnecessary IMO). Reviewed in hindsight, it is a very delicious layering of interwoven stories that left me satisfied.
Elizabeth Kostova: The Swan Thieves: A Novel
I loved Kostova's first book, THE HISTORIAN, and was thrilled when I was able to get the hardback for .35cents at my local SPCA store. This is a wonderful story. The lives of four people, an artist, his psychiatrist, his ex-wife, and his ex-girlfriend collide over the artist's obsession with a painter from the late 19th Century who mysteriously quit painting when she was twenty-nine. This story was painfully ponderous and slow, but full of exquisite details of 19th century painting, contemporary art, mental illness, and even a little romance. As I was reading, the book gave me an overall Russian feel, like Dostoevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, a hovering melancholy, a sadness, and the constant wondering why the artist did what he did. Kostova delivers. What a wonderful story.
Deborah Smith: The Crossroads Cafe
Charming. A sweet story of family, love, loss, grief, and recovery, that will lift your spirits regardless of mood prior to starting this kind and gentle story.
Dean Koontz: What the Night Knows: A Novel
Koontz used to be one of my most favorite 'go to' authors for sheer relaxing entertainment reading. But the last few years, his books have converted to a formula. A formula that reminds me of a selfish lover: Lot's of flirting, teasing, foreshadowing and promises of things to come. Then it gets down and dirty for a good while, and then two seconds after the climax, he gets up, puts on his clothes, and goes home. The End. Very unsatisfying, Dean. I did not get mine, knowhatImsayin'?
Dana Stabenow: Restless in the Grave (Kate Shugak Mysteries)
Boldly and seamlessly, Stabenow combines her Liam Campbell series characters to the Kate Shugak mystery series. Highly entertaining, Stabenow, and Kate, never fail to deliver. As long as she keeps writing, I'll keep reading. Good stuff.
Lev Grossman: The Magician King: A Novel
Profound. Grossman deftly weaves questions about our very existence and the nature of reality with characters who are all, like us, searching for something. Grossman's imagination is huge and the world(s) he creates are not cute and cuddly full of "muggles" and "patronus" (patroni?); no, this quest novel weaves magic into everyday life in such a way that one can almost believe there is a hidden "underground" world full of people chasing "the magic." I hope there are more stories in this series to come.
Barbara Freethy: Played (Deception Series, #2)
Not as good as the first one although the same villain is in play here, and the relationship between the two new characters is almost exactly like Book #1, it just didn't resonate for me as much. I found myself skipping a lot, bored. I'm going to try her Angel's Bay series next. It sounds intriguing.
Barbara Freethy: Taken (Deception Series #1)
Romance is not my genre, but the author's story intrigued me. She had self-published her backlist as ebooks, whose rights reverted to her when they went out of print, and she has now sold over a million e-copies, and nine of the books made the NY Times Bestseller list. And the story was very good. It was a mystery with a dastardly villain as well as a romance, and I enjoyed it so much, I bought the next book in the 2-book series, PLAYED.
Joe Hill: Horns: A Novel
Hill, talented son of the prolific Stephen King, writes one of the more bizarre and unusual stories I've ever read. I'll be thinking about it for a long time.
Kathy Reichs: Bare Bones: A Novel (Temperance Brennan Novels)
Not one of the better outings in this series--way too convoluted, too much talking to the reader in a suspenseful way..."the next day I would learn just how badly..." And then not answering the question. Ugh. At least Brennan gets laid in this one. So there's that.
Kathy Reichs: Grave Secrets
A page-turner that involves the forensic uncovering, identification, and reburial of some of Guatemala's "disappeared" during their long civil war. Temperance gets caught up in a serial murder case in Guatemala City while working on a nearby mass grave. The first murder includes the crime scene investigation of a body dump in a septic tank--Reichs doesn't hold back, and I found myself a little "ick" while reading, and it resonated for me as I swallowed a crown yesterday. And that's all I have to say about that. A quick read, with hints of romance to come in the next book, and that I just ordered for Kindle.
Irene Nemirovsky: David Golder, The Ball, Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair (Everyman's Library (Cloth))
These novellas represent the human experience on so many levels--not just the characters, but the time period (early 19th century), Russian and French culture, and of course, most of all, Nemirovsky's life experience herself--a Russian upper class ex-pat living in France, converted Catholic from Judaism, killed by the Nazi's in WWII. Her stories remind us, on a micro level, all that was lost in that horrible war.
Dean Koontz: Relentless: A Novel
It's such a pity when an author with the talent of Koontz starts circling the drain. His books used to be so rich, complex, and full of detail. But in recent years, something has changed. Now his books have the denouement about five pages from the end, and the wrap-up seems to always involve some deus ex machina that any reader worth their salt can see coming from a mile away. Pity--3/4 of this book is fantastic--before it craps out. *sigh*
Michael Connelly: The Drop (Harry Bosch)
Masterful. As a former crime reporter for the LA Times, Michael Connelly knows Los Angeles like no other author I can think of. Robert Crais comes close. But C frequently makes me nostalgic for Los Angeles. The level of detail is precise from the "high jingo" of backroom politics, to the favor trading, the quiet collusion between police and media, and the protagonist, Harry Bosch's ever-present belief that "everyone counts or no one counts," Connelly gets it right every time.
David Nicholls: One Day (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Vintage Contemporaries)
Not my usual entertainment fair, but my sister loaned it to me recommending it highly. It was a real page turner--it kept me up late two nights in a row, but the end left me feeling moody and confused, not quite sure what I was supposed to take away from the story--life sucks? I don't know. I'm going to watch the movie, too. What the heck.
Robert Crais: Chasing Darkness: An Elvis Cole Novel (Elvis Cole Novels)
I ran across this as I was sorting through the many piles of books I have lying around *rolleyes*, and couldn't remember if I had read it or not. By page 10, I realized that I had, but I couldn't remember how it ended. So I read it anyway. It was fab. I love Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, and the fact that the setting is Los Angeles makes me a wee bit nostalgic. Then I get over it. But Crais knows how to turn a mystery. I never miss Elvis or Joe books.
Dana Stabenow: Though Not Dead (Kate Shugak)
This is the best of the Kate Shugak novels, by far. If you've not read them, a mini-spoiler is coming so stop now. After the death of her beloved uncle, crank "Old Sam" Dementieff, Sam sends Kate on a search for his biological father through which we get an amazing history of Alaska. I did not know there were Japanese forces in the Aleutians or that American troops fought there; I also did not know that the last shot of the Civil War was fired in Alaska. Stabenow gives a list of reference materials at the back, which I am inclined to read myself. What a fascinating history Alaska has. A++.
Dana Stabenow: Better To Rest (Liam Campbell Mysteries)
This book was just as good as the previous three and definitely moved the characters forward. My concern, my question, is why this is the last Liam Campbell book. A lot of issues were left dangling, and I could see this going into more books in the serious. I'm going to guess that the publisher declined to publish more....? Or the author was just done with the characters? I don't know, but I, personally would like to read more about Liam and Wy.
Dana Stabenow: Nothing Gold Can Stay (Liam Campbell Mysteries)
I'm so sad that there are only four books in this series--I really love the Liam Campbell character and his gal, Wyanet Chouinard, a pilot. They are just good storytelling.
I follow the author on FB, and I actually asked her if there would be any more LC novels. She replied, "I'm not sure, but he shows up in the next Kate Shugak novel." *soexcited*
Dana Stabenow: So Sure of Death (Liam Campbell Mysteries)
Dana Stabenow is one helluva writer. That she makes not just her often quirky characters come alive, but the wildness and unpredictability of Alaska is a testament to her writing abilities. I admit it--I will read anything this woman writes. She is fabulous, down to earth, funny, and the mysteries tight and unpredictable. Go. Read her. Now.
Dana Stabenow: Fire and Ice: A Liam Campbell Mystery (Liam Campbell Mysteries)
This older series that precedes Stabenow's Kate Shugak series, which is still going strong, holds up really well. The writing is tight, the descriptions lush and evocative, and the characters are, well, real characters. *wink* As in the Shugak books, Alaska is a prime character in this series. The pull to visit Alaska only increases every time I read one of this author's books. There are only four Liam Campbell mystery books, and I can't help but wonder why; they are really, really good.
Christine Warren: Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale (Others Novels)
The title and cover captured me in a birthday eve shopping spree at Safeway, and I chucked it in the cart. This is not a bad book or story. It's well written, entertaining, funny, and very passionate. But I like a little (ok, a lot) more story interspersed between my sex scenes. Kind of like when my mom would ask me as a kid, "how about a little more oatmeal with your sugar?" Just not my type of tale.