Rysa Walker: Timebound (The Chronos Files)
Winner of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Grand Prize, it's clear why it won. It is a YA supernatural novel involving time travel, whose characters, especially protagonist teen Katie, we empathize with and come to like very much. Also a major character in this story is the World's Fair of 1893 held in Chicago, which was richly detailed and explored in Larson's, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which is the story of the fair, the mayor's assassination, and a serial killer operating at the fair. All true. Walker uses all these historical facts to flesh out her characters and her story. I read it in one sitting, it was that good. When I finished, I went back to the beginning to read some details I had missed the first time. I may even read the whole thing again as I was speed reading just for pleasure. I hope there is another book to follow this one; Walker left enough room for that to happen.
Michael Connelly: The Gods of Guilt (Lincoln Lawyer)
With each successive book, Connelly gets closer and closer to perfection. This one is damn close. I would have liked a little more exposition at the ending instead of a summing up done by the protagonist, Mickey Haller. Other than that, this book is perfect. I read it in one sitting--I could read Connelly every day.l I wish I could.
Scott Lynch: The Republic of Thieves
I, like most other fans of the Gentleman Bastard series, waited five years for this book. I wish...I wish it had been worth the wait. This story bounced back and forth between present day Karthain, home of the bondsmagi who are holding Lock and Jean against their will, and Espara, ten years earlier where the 'Bastards, including the so-far mysterious Sabetha, have been sent by their mentor to learn the art of playcraft. This part of the story was so dull, and had no relationship to the other story being told, that I skipped most of it. The Locke / Sabetha story is boring and IMO not credible and the on again / off again over and over and over again gets monotonous and frustrating. It has its moments, the best of which is the title for Book IV, _The Thorn of Emberlain._ I was disappointed here.
Scott Lynch: Red Seas Under Red Skies
More with Locke and Jean Tannen after they left Camorr for Tal Verrara and are working a new scam. Then they get caught up in politics, there are pirates--a lot of pirates--and more fighting, stealing, and suffering. Fun, but not as fun as book I.
Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora
I originally read this when it was first released in 2006 and the second book in the Gentleman Bastard's series, which I am reading now, but I and all of Lynch's fans have been waiting about eight years for book 3 to be released. And it was released in October. It's also been on my Kindle since then because I pre-ordered it two years ago. But I decided to re-read the series to get the full experience from book 3, which I will start in a few days. I loved TLoLL even more than I loved and enjoyed it the first reading. There is so much to like here--a different planet, poverty, gangs, con men (very STING-like), love, suffering, comedy, friendship, loyalty, nobility and peasants--I LOVE these stories. If you even think you might like it, you should read it. You'll love it, too. A+++
S. M. Stirling: The Given Sacrifice: A Novel of the Change (Change Series)
Well, long have I loved this series, but its day is done. This entry felt like it was written between his other NY Times bestselling book and the laundry. Uh, yeah. Lot's of jumps in time, implied action without actually showing it, more of the will he die, will he live, will he die foreshadowing throughout (not a spoiler; we've known since book 3 that he was going to die young), but here we just never really know what is going to happen. This book was tired, as I'm sure Mr. Stirling is. The Rudy saga should have been tied up either in one less book, or a different book than this one. It just felt...as if he wanted it over. Too bad.
Jodi McIsaac: Into the Fire (The Thin Veil)
A much better book than the first in the Series, this story actually surprised me (a good thing and hard to do) and the author seems to be finding her writing legs. The writing in this outing is a step up from book I that, despite having a good story, was a bit on the amateurish side. I hope this means the author will continue to grow and the next book will be even better, and so on. B-.
Dana Stabenow: Bad Blood (Kate Shugak)
I'm a big, big fan of the Kate Shugak series, this being the No. 20 in entry, and although I enjoyed it, as usual, the main character here is really Alaska, and we spend very little time with Kate and Mutt. And then the cliffhanger ending? (What? It's been all over the Innerwebs.) Fans are pissed, including this one, especially when Stabenow said she didn't know when the next Kate book was coming, even though she has reliably produced a Kate book a year for years. And now, this is the one you plan a cliffhanger in? I think we have a right to be peeved. I'm not in a big rush to read the "other books" you're writing instead of Kate 21. Your timing is awful Ms. Stabenow. *steam*
E.E. Borton: Without
This seemed to be two books to me. The first half is your typical post-apocalyptic dystopian travel and survival tale. Our protagonist comes across moral dilemma after moral dilemma, and so many women being raped, who have been raped, or are waiting to be raped, that I started to wonder what the author's real intent was. But then. The second half. Different book even with different grammatical errors than the first book. Of the two books, I liked the "second" (half) better. It was more interesting and just better written. In the acknowledgements the author thanks his editor. Really? Couda' fooled me. This was a free lending library offering to Amazon Prime members. So glad I didn't pay for it.
Anne Rice: The Wolves of Midwinter: The Wolf Gift Chronicles
Again, the writing here is like a full Dickens' Christmas banquet. So many tastes, so many textures, so many images and feelings...it's like a form of meditative reading. The story improves quite a bit from the first book. In fact, I like this book much more than the first book. I hope there will be a third Wolf Gift book. Thanks, Anne.
Anne Rice: The Wolf Gift: The Wolf Gift Chronicles (1)
My first opinion of this book, which just grew and grew, was that it was Superman as a Catholic Werewolf, and it got dull. SCtW saves the city, again!! *applause* Yawn. But even as the story was boring me, the language was so lush, almost like a prayer. Anne Rice is a brilliant writer, but the story sort of wore on me...until the end. Then, there was enough for me to move on to the next book.
Ayse Kulin: Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel
I am so very disappointed in this book. I carefully chose my free Kindle monthly read. I downloaded a sample, I read the reviews, it claims to be an "International Bestseller," and maybe it is, but...it was SO awful. It starts out great with strong character development, details of Turkey, and fear over the growing power of Germany and WWII. It then turns into a story someone would tell around a campfire..."and then, the big train left the stations. And then...." *dull* It ends abruptly leaving several plot lines and characters out to dry. I'm SO sorry I borrowed it. UGH
Stephen King: Doctor Sleep: A Novel
This is a creepier, more complex, fully mature story at the height of a master writer's craft. King knocks it out of the park as he has with his last few books, notably 11/22/63. There is so much to love in this story--a flawed protagonist who does his best every day to atone for his actions; a naive female character with a power she's unsure how to wield; a trope of scary RV-traveling oldsters weaves throughout the story (I thought this was brilliant); death, dying, what comes after, and love. I enjoyed this a great deal more than I expected. I'm glad I listened to friends on Facebook and picked this up. It will stay with me for a long time.
Stephen King: The Shining
I read this to have a base for the newly released DOCTOR SLEEP. It didn't frighten me much because I had seen the movie (which deviates from the book a bit), and at my age, this type of thing doesn't scare me as much as it would have say, if I'd read this when I was sixteen or seventeen. Either way, it's a fine, fine book for a new young author and added to the solid foundation of the Stephen King canon.
David J. Schwartz: Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic
I enjoyed my time in Gooseberry Bluff, and the protagonist is a nice surprise (an African American woman FBI-style agent) and not gratuitous, but... the story is alternately witty and silly and then scary and very dangerous. I had trouble going back and forth and often found something silly that was very serious and vice versa. As I thought about the book after I read it, I decided that with the exception of the protagonist, so many elements of the story did not feel authentic--they feel borrowed, heavily, from current fantasy and sci fi. I felt a little bit of Harry P, some Narnia, and other contemporary urban fantasy, and not in a homage or clearly obvious way, but in a slick, "I want to sell a lot of books" kind of way. That's just my opinion. So although I did enjoy it, by the end, I had kind of a weird taste in my mouth. B-.
Blake Crouch: Wayward (The Wayward Pines Series, Book Two)
We're back with Ethan Burke and the residents of Wayward Pines, Idaho, population 461. A town where the resident have to fake happiness, live a lie, or their very lives could be in jeopardy. Crouch moves the storyline and characters forward to a weird and unexpected place and then ends on a cliffhanger. Book III isn't out until next year. Dangit! I'm really enjoying the world Crouch has created and its residents. There are a few continuity errors, one HUGE glaring one that ticked me off, but otherwise some stellar writing. Good times after the apocalypse.
Blake Crouch: Pines (The Wayward Pines Series)
There is some terrific writing going on there that is flying under the radar of the Big 6 publishing houses. PINES is one of those (Thomas & Mercer, and Amazon owned imprint). I stumbled across it and read it in one sitting. It's what I call a "journey tale," wherein the protagonist is on a journey, literally in many cases, of discovery, and we are as clueless as he is until the denouement. Once I figured this out, I sat back and just let Crouch take me down the garden path. The truth that is eventually revealed totally caught me off guard--I had gone a totally different way in my mind. This book is brilliant. I'm so excited to see there's a book II.
Jodi McIsaac: Through the Door (The Thin Veil)
This was a very fun story--it's not high literature, but for contemporary fantasy, I found it very entertaining. A relaxing read when you just need a distraction and don't want to think too much.
Leigh Bardugo: Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone))
I was poking around on my Kindle last night for something to read (Thank you Kindle lending library!), and I decided to go with this based on a few reviews an its NY Times Bestseller List status. I didn't realize it was YA. I like YA, I just like to know it in advance. That said, IMHO, this was the standard fantasy Bildungsroman that any regular fantasy reader has seen a million times, but with a Russian twist. (It's not set in Russia, but is Russia-like.) Not to say that it was bad, it wasn't, but so much of it was predictable and derivative IMHO. I liked it, but I wouldn't say it was fabulous or brilliant. That is was on the NYT bestseller list was probably more to do with marketing than actual talent or the story. Just my 2 cents.
Hugh Howey: Dust (Silo Saga) (Volume 3)
I finished the series a few days ago, and I've tried to think how best to write a review without any spoilers. Well, I can't. What I will say is that this is the ultimate, government-sponsored, creep-out, dirty, psychological program I've ever read in any post-apocalyptic novels or series before. This series is both frightening and brilliant. I LOVED it.
Hugh Howey: Shift - Omnibus Edition (Silo Saga) (Volume 2)
See review under DUST, above.
Hugh Howey: Wool
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this book. It is a total mind-blower. Sneaky and insidious, it creeps up on you when you're not expecting it. Perhaps one of the most psychologically frightening books I've ever read. I'm on book II, now, SHIFT. Equally impressive.
Lauren Beukes: The Shining Girls: A Novel
This was particularly more gruesome and detailed than I expected. I had difficulty with the level of intimacy during the murders. I wanted to know more about the House, and about Kirby. It feels as if we learned a lot about Harper, the killer. I liked it, but it seemed derivative to me of so many novels involving time travel. Also...the paradox created near the ending is not explained.. I give it a B-.
Helen Bryan: The Sisterhood
I didn't realize until I reached the end that I'd read one of Bryan's books before, WAR BRIDES. It was a terrific book that went rapidly downhill the last 1/4. It was very disappointing. This book did the same thing--it was incredible, right up until the last bit, then it's almost as if the author ran out of time and just cranked something out. Too, too bad.
Jim C. Hines: Libriomancer: (Magic Ex Libris Book 1)
I really like the idea of this world where magic can be created from within the pages of books, literally. Really fantastic idea, I wish I'd thought of it. That said, there is so much action going on in here that I was frequently lost and unsure of who was speaking. I wanted to like it more, but I just didn't. It's a solid B for me.
Terri Reid: Bumpy Roads - A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery (Book 11) (The Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery Series)
What can I say? I love this series. And now that Mary and Bradley are finally married...yeah, lots of sex, finally. :D And the story keeps progressing. I'm hooked.
David Liss: The Coffee Trader: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
This was a terrific financial thriller about the new coffee trade on the new "stock market" in 1659 Amsterdam. I really felt the sense of place, and the characters were really intimately drawn. What is odd to me, is that the protagonist is Benjamin Weaver's uncle (BW doesn't appear in this book). The uncle appears in later books set in 1720 London...the uncle has to be at least 80 if not older in the Weaver books, but he's not, so I found that odd. Still, a great stand-alone read. Big thumbs up.
Stephen King: 'Salem's Lot
I realized that I was lacking a book or two in the Stephen King canon that I had not read. He is a favorite author just in terms of sheer entertainment reading--and I love his story ideas; so unique. 'Salem's Lot is definitely a scary story. In fact, I can see where lots of other books, movies, and TV shows borrowed heavily from this 1975 King outing. Nothing says admiration like stealing your ideas.
David Liss: A Spectacle of Corruption: A Novel
It's confirmed: I love the Benjamin Weaver character. I love strong, physically powerful, unafraid, think outside the box characters, and he really fits the bill. Reading about the early 18th C is fascinating--clearly Liss has done his research. Bring on the next book!
David Liss: A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
A good friend (who is also an editor) recommended this author and series of books to me. I'm so glad she did. Set in 1719 London, an era I've not read much about, the protagonist is a reformed highwayman, well-known boxer, and a Jew, which in 1719 was a hard thing to be. He makes a living as a "thief-taker," what we now call a bounty hunter. He's hired to investigate the suicide of a man who was a good friend of his father's...and his father was run down by a coach the next day. The murders are intertwined along with the new "stock jobbers" or stock brokers, and the Bank of England and the South Sea Company. It's quite good, both in terms of the mystery, the characters, and the descriptions of London (dirty and smelly). I saw the ending coming a mile away--the what, but not the who--but I really enjoyed it and I'm going to read the next book in the series. I'm headed to Amazon now to get it...
Deb Elliott: Race the Night (Midwestern Shapeshifter)
I was hired to proofread this, but I liked it so much I quit proofreading and just enjoyed the story. I went back after and proofread it. There's lots to like here: Supernatural (shapeshifters, werewolves, vampires, witches); police procedural; contemporary; awesome sex scenes; a great story and great writing. I can't recommend it enough. I just proofread book II, and it's even better than I (coming soon!).
Lyanda Lynn Haupt: Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness
I enjoyed this book so much, I'm already recommending it to friends. Not only is what Haupt says here important, but she says it in such a kind, beautiful, and peaceful way. Do yourself a favor and read it. Then give a copy to your favorite climate change deniers. Heh.
S. M. Stirling: Ice, Iron, and Gold
If you're a fan of Stirling or his emberverse (or anything he's written, really, he's just damn good), you will *love* these short stories. Many are speculative fiction, which I love. For example: A Roman legion abducted by aliens to fight their wars on other planets; Robert E. Lee heading the Charge of the Light Brigade, and more. Stirling never fails to amuse and surprise with his mixing and manipulating real facts with new storylines. Good stuff.
Alan Drew: Gardens of Water: A Novel
I did not care for this novel. Not because it wasn't well written, it was, or the story was bad, because it wasn't, but reading about how women are treated in...how to say this? some Middle Eastern countries frustrates the hell out of me and makes me very, very angry. Also? Saw the climax and ending coming from a mile away. I'd pass on this.
Des Zamorano: Human Cargo (Inez Leon Mysteries)
Recommended by a friend, this is a fine entry in the kick-ass PI chick lit, with this protagonist a latina. The Pasadena locations (my old hometown) were a familar visit as well. Good stuff, here. And I see there's a book II...hmmm
Matthew Mather: CyberStorm
Another fine indie author, Mather brings to our attention the many ways the Internet now runs our lives, and how easily it would be to bring it down. This story is a novelization of what would happen if the Internet brought the grid down. It's prescient and frightening. Another do not miss book. Some fine writing here.
Robert Crais: The Sentry
Another fine entry in the Elvis Cole / Joe Pike series. This one is more serious than the others while getting the LA vibe across. Crais continues to grow as a writer in leaps and bounds. Another author whose every book I will read.
Orest Stelmach: The Boy from Reactor 4
This book is amazing. There is a great deal of information about the Ukraine, Ukrainian people, and Chernobyl, which is located in Ukraine. People are living there. Yes. And scientists are studying the longterm effects on the environment. This book is a little bit THE STING, a little bit EASTERN PROMISES, and a little bit scathing sociological indictment, but it's so, so good. And indie author worth investigating.
Benjamin Percy: Red Moon: A Novel
I really enjoyed this story albeit it's very harsh, violent, and gruesome world that Percy's created. The language is very edgy and fits in well with this strange, supernatural world that has been created. The ending was a bit abrupt for me, but it made sense. I liked it very much. Recommend, especially if you like political thrillers...with werewolves. :D
John Sandford: Silken Prey
Sanford never fails to deliver entertainment and a fun ride through his stories. This outing saw him put characters from some of his other books all into one: Davenport, Virgil Flowers, and Kidd, all make large appearances in this visit with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). I could read these very day of the week. Honestly. The perfect distraction.
Beryl Markham: West with the Night
Lush in its descriptions of both beauty and sadness, this is a gorgeous book about a time and place we'll never see again on this world. Absolutely wonderful.
Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1)
I had seen this book from time to time over the years, and always turned my nose up at it. Why? I don't know. I finally read it and it was fantastic and prescient. This goes into the same category as A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ and is definitely an iconic science fiction work.
Elizabeth Hunter: A Fall of Water: Elemental Mysteries Book Four
Now it's really hairy and dangerous. The writing is kicked up yet another notch. The characters are more fleshed out and real seeming. I liked this enough to want a book V, but I see there is another series, the Elemental World, that has stories from the POV of other characters in the Elemental Mysteries world. I'll be reading them. :D
Elizabeth Hunter: The Force of Wind: Elemental Mysteries Book Three
Oh now it's gettin' serious. Yep. Bad vampires, good vampires, each with the soul/amnis elemental--fire, air, water, earth--that they can tap into for a little extra ass-kicking action. Lot's of hot steamy sex and biting and blood, (OK, I skipped most of the sex. *yawn*), but danger, coming from all sides. Hunter starts to really stretch and dig deep into her imagination and the writing really shows.
Elizabeth Hunter: This Same Earth: Elemental Mysteries Book Two
Slightly on the "Twilight-y" side, but a little bit more mature and grown up. Still book candy, the first one was free, this was $3.99, and was engrossing enough to keep me out of trouble while I had my nose shoved toward my Kindle.
Elizabeth Hunter: A Hidden Fire: Elemental Mysteries Book One
Book candy. Total escapist, relaxing, fun and entertaining fluff. And you can't eat, uh, read, just one.
Ben Aaronovitch: Whispers Under Ground
Brilliant. I hope there are more to this trilogy--make it a series!
- 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.