For Today ~ April 9, 2014
With thanks to the Simple Woman's Daybook.
Lev Grossman: The Magician's Land: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy)
This was so good--the whole series--I think I'll have to read it again. It's years between books, so I forgot a lot of details, but I still enjoyed this ending (is it?) to the trilogy a great deal. Grossman has a vast imagination and sharp wit that he uses to create fantastic metatextual junctions that work beautifully. Even if you don't like fantasy, I think you'll like this because the characters are fantastic. Great book.
John Sandford: Deadline (A Virgil Flowers Novel)
I love Virgil 'Fuckin'' Flowers, and this book, like all of Sandford's book in this series (and the Prey series), are a lot of fun. I especially love the insider cop humor. Good stuff.
Pittacus Lore: The Power of Six (Lorien Legacies, Book 2)
Eh, not as good as the first one, but I'll try book III before giving up entirely.
Pittacus Lore: I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies)
I'd seen this in the stores for years, and finally picked it up last week. It's a very different take on the alien invasion story--two alien races secretly living on Earth, one good, one bad--and it's also YA so the protagonists are teenagers. It's in the Hunger Games / Divergent school of supernatural YA, and I am really enjoying it. Very unique story.
Sarah Sundin: With Every Letter: A Novel (Wings of the Nightingale) (Volume 1)
A very, very sweet albeit realistic view of the early days of the American involvement into WWII. I liked it quite a bit.
Kelley Armstrong: Visions (Cainsville)
Book II, after OMENS, in the new Cainesville series by Armstrong...I really wanted to like it more than I did, but I don't. It needs more depth, less red herrings, less unreliable narrators, and more details. I'm not sure where she is going with this series, and I wonder if she even knows herself. It could really have been so much more. I'll give it a "B" as a quick beach read.
Deborah Harkness: The Book of Life: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy)
I loved this. It has similar problems to the previous book (see previous book micro review), which often took me out of the story *disappointing*. But what I loved about this story was--big surprise--the history. The art, the architecture, the clothes, the tragedies, the wars, the joys, the family relationships. Harkness nails all of these. The supernatural stuff is interestingly drawn but, imo, incomplete. I hope there are more books in the future and that Harkness has a better editor.
Deborah Harkness: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, Bk 2)
First I would like to state how very much I enjoyed this. Just when I was really getting into it and loving it, I hoped that I wasn't approaching the end yet. I checked my e-reader and I was only halfway. JOY. This book is so, so, so much better than the first one, although we need Book I for background. I loved this story, but...there were some continuity errors; there were some areas that could have and should have been expanded on like oh, say, traveling from Prague to London--that should take more than a paragraph. There were other descriptions that I had to go back and re-read to make sure I understood--those should have been fleshed out. Don't worry about length, what's a few more pages of an already long book? Those are my complaints. That said, I really enjoyed this trip and I've already started on Book III. A lot of fun.
Charlaine Harris: Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas)
This was a strange little book...it sucked me in, though. It felt like a prequel, that Harris has just started the weird and wonderful stories of the inhabitants of a Texas town called Midnight. I'm interested to see what the next book will be like. Also, if you like cats? There is a really wonderful cat in this story. I won't spoil it for you.
Charlaine Harris: Shakespeare's Trollop (Lily Bard, Book 4)
This was very good and a lot of fun.
Charlaine Harris: Shakespeare's Counselor (Lily Bard Mysteries, Book 5)
The best of the five-book series. Will there be more Lily Bard? and Jack?
Charlaine Harris: Shakespeare's Christmas (Lily Bard Mysteries, Book 3)
I love Lily Bard and her stories. They just bet better with each book.
Charlaine Harris: Shakespeare's Champion (Lily Bard Mysteries, Book 2)
I like Harris' non-Sookie books much more than the vampire series she is so well known for. This story of a PTSD woman trying to do her best in a small town in Arkansas all while wondering why someone was killed in her town are very down to earth and charming.
Tasha Alexander: A Fatal Waltz (Lady Emily)
Great story and all the Victorian stuff (manners, society, clothes, hair, etc.) delights me to no end.
Tasha Alexander: A Poisoned Season (Lady Emily Ashton)
Wonderful and well reasearched, even if I don't necessarily buy the super-modern freedom that Lady Ashton seems to enjoy through money, privilege, and sheer audacity. Still very fun.
J.R. Rain: Bad Blood: A Vampire Thriller (The Spider Trilogy Book 1)
Terrible. A good idea not fleshed out and badly in need of an editor. UGH. Too bad, J.R. Usually your stuff is much better.
Patricia Briggs: Night Broken (Mercy Thompson)
Loved this change of pace in the series. For once, Mercy doesn't get her ass kicked (often), and it's more about characters and relationships. You rocked it, Patricia! I can't wait for the next book. LOL
Blake Crouch: The Last Town (The Wayward Pines Trilogy Book 3)
Like indie writer Hugh Howey, Crouch is an incredibly gifted and imaginative storyteller. HIs books always take me by surprise (hard to do!), and I just love them. I know I can always escape inside one of his books. Just fabulous. I hope the series on Fox next year is just as good. Also hoping for a Book 4 in the Wayward Pines series. *fingerscrossed*
Mo Hayder: The Devil of Nanking By Mo Hayder
This was an extremely weird and creepy book with an unbelievable (almost) ending. I didn't see that coming, wow. This may give me nightmares, but I can still recommend it. Very, very well done.
Cassandra Clare: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, Book 1)
Not as good as Clare's INFERNAL DEVICES clockwork trilogy IMHO. Lots of teen angst going on here (think TWILIGHT), too much for me, but I am curious to find out what happens in the other books. Off I go to Book II. Yawn.
Terri Reid: Buried Innocence - A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery - Book Thirteen (Volume 13)
I love this poorly edited series. What can I say? It's sweet.
Hugh Howey: Half Way Home
Genius. <3 Hugh.
Cassandra Clare: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, Book 1)
Good, not fabulous.
Graeme Simsion: The Rosie Project: A Novel
Charming and relateable.
Cassandra Clare: Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices, Book 1) (The Infernal Devices)
My MIL wanted me to read this so badly that she loaned me an older Nook of hers to read it on. It was slow starting, but by the end I was hooked and moved quickly forward onto book two, which is leaps and bounds better than this book (but which you need for the background.). I'll be starting Book III as soon as I can get logged back into the Nook (it freaks out sometimes. I like my Kindle better.)
G.M. Ford: Black River
I've read all five of Ford's Frank Corso series, and I devoured them all like ice cream on a hot day. Ford is the shizzit when it comes to crime noir--these books have it all. Waiting for the next Michael Connelly or Robert Crais book? Ford (Corso) is your guy. Run, do not walk. Then read the Leo Waterman series (funnier if nearly as gritty). You're welcome.
Helene Wecker: The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel (P.S.)
I enjoyed this charming novel of two supernatural creatures who meet in 1899 New York City and fall in love with the city and each other. The writing really made this story for me. Each word felt especially and carefully selected to draw out just the right mood of Belle Epoque New York--it felt alive and real to me. Wonderful book.
G.M. Ford: The Deader the Better: A Leo Waterman Mystery (Leo Waterman Mysteries)
Ford knocks it outta the park with this one. One of the finest mystery / vengeance stories I've ever read. Didn't see the finale' coming at all. Only one book left in the Leo Waterman series for me to read *sadface* Then I'll move on to his Frank Corso series, see how that is. I love these indie authors (Amazon publishes Ford through their indie imprint, Thomas and Mercer. Damn fine writers coming up out there previously ignored by traditional publishing. Damn fine.)
Jonathan Kellerman: Bones (Alex Delaware, No. 23)
Back in the 90s I was a huge Kellerman / Delaware fan and read every book as soon as it came out. I plucked this off my mother's bookshelf when I couldn't download a Leo Waterman mystery onto my Kindle due to lack of WiFi. Honestly...I found it trite, the protagonist arrogant and a sexist--all the women he runs across are physically judged, cataloged, and mentally stored like one of those "hot or not" websites that rates womens' looks. It piqued me in the 90s, it annoys me now. And the plot? Unbelievable. It did, however, get me through the night.
G.M. Ford: The Bum's Rush (Leo Waterman Mysteries)
I love Leo's "boys," the drunk homeless men who were movers and shakers with his politically savvy, corrupt, and powerful late father. Leo hires them to do surveillance--no one notices the homeless--and they are a hoot and good at what they do, whether it's following a suspect or drinking, "just a phlegm cutter; an eye opener; a bracer," LOL. Good stuff.
G.M. Ford: Slow Burn (A Leo Waterman Mystery)
Brilliant. The denouement was incredible.
G.M. Ford: Cast In Stone (A Leo Waterman Mystery)
Fabulous. Better with every book.
G.M. Ford: Who In Hell Is Wanda Fuca? (A Leo Waterman Mystery)
OMG, these stories and characters are fantastic. More please.
G.M. Ford: Chump Change (A Leo Waterman Mystery)
Amazon recommended this to me and I loved it--very Raymond Chandler-esque, set in 90s Seattle, and funny as hell along with all the private investigating. Unfortunately, it was the final book in a series. Dammit. So I've been working my way through them, in order, and they are like crack--very hard to put down. This guy Ford RAWKS.
Kevin Hearne: Tricked (The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Four)
I got a little bored with all the ick and gore and monsters and violence and healing from mortal wounds...and put it down for a while. I finished it last night. I think the main reason I read these books are for Oberon, the Irish Wolf Hound companion of Atticus, the protagonist, who can mentally "talk" with Atticus. Otherwise....yeah...great writing, but I'm just not into fight scenes. I skip over them a lot in this book and others. I guess it's just me. I'll keep reading, but I need a break from these for a while.
J.R. Rain: Samantha Moon: First Eight Novels, Plus One Novella
I thought of was bored with vampire stories, but Rain puts a nice spin on this series--the protagonist is a mom of two kids (8 and 11), and is a former federal agent who, due to her "condition", i.e., sunlight, now works for herself as a PI. Wonderful cosmology of the foundation of vampirism, and lots of philosophical thinking about the nature of good and evil. And lots of fun. Rain is very funny to boot. I'll keep reading as long as he writes them.
J.R. Rain: The Witch and the Englishman (The Witches Trilogy: Book 2)
Mindless but very entertaining fun.
J.R. Rain: The Witch and the Gentleman (The Witches Trilogy: Book 1)
Lots of of fun. Great relaxing read.
Kevin Hearne: Hexed (The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Two)
This author, Kevin Hearne, is fantastic. His characters, dialog, locations, and the mythology, Celtic and otherwise, and his 2100-year-old protagonist's wit...make these books so much fun. I've got the next two downloaded for my Kindle to read while in the hospital or post-hospital. These are just a lot of fun.
Kevin Hearne: Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book One
This book was so fabulous. Celtic myths and gods, and other gods, too, and laugh-out-loud humor and wit that I enjoyed so much. I'm in love with Atticus and his (thought) talking dog, Oberon. I'm reading every book in this series. If you like urban fantasy, in particular Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series, then you will love this series, also. Outstanding.
Caleb Carr: The Angel of Darkness
It took me about 1/2 of the book to really get into it. I didn't enjoy the actual mystery of the book itself, but I really liked the detail of the historical period in question, that being the late 19th century. I found that very interesting and Carr's attention to detail is well worth the read. I'm glad I made my way through to the end.
Kelley Armstrong: Omens (Cainsville)
Kelley Armstrong has really outdone herself here. I haven't finished her Otherworld series, but I couldn't sleep and my MIL had it on a shelf in the hall, so I helped myself. A wonderful protagonist--a well-educated, spoiled rich girl--who discovers in one day at age 24 that not only was she adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Now that is a storyline that I've not seen anywhere before. Armstrong leads our heroine, Olivia, down the road to inquiry of her past, her parents, and their crimes--did they really commit those eight heinous murders? And then there's Cainesville...a town she is drawn to and is unlike any other, and doesn't welcome just anyone. This book was a delicious pageturner and I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment!!
J. D. Horn: The Line (Witching Savannah, Book One)
Another entry in the angsty teen supernatural YA mystery canon. It was fine mindless entertainment.
Stephen R. Lawhead: The Bone House (Bright Empires - Book 2)
This series is based in fact: Ley lines, lines of energy around the Earth, are a fact. Quantum physics is a fact, and something we don't know a lot about. Lawhead uses these real facts to create a fascinating story about time, alternate realities/universes, spirituality, good and evil, and one heckuva adventure. I loved this whole series and am eagerly awaiting the fifth book in September.
Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch
This book touched me very deeply. The life of the protagonist resonated very clearly with me. Evidently it has with others because it's been on the NYT bestseller list for weeks. It also speaks much about art and how art affects our lives and how it can impact us positively in so many different and creative ways. It also touches on our society here in the US and how (I feel) we don't value our children and they are treated like little adults and not kept innocent like the children they are. This was a brilliant book and I may even read it again.
Stephen R. Lawhead: The Skin Map (Bright Empires)
My MIL loaned me this series at Thanksgiving, and I've just picked it up. It's really charming. Written in a Victorian era voice, it's ever-so British formal while simultaneously putting the main characters in dangerous situations and scaring the hell out of the reader...but it's definitely a unique story, one like I've not seen before that involves ley lines, time travel, and good vs. evil. Very original. It's that voice--that British upper class voice--that I love the best.
Terri Reid: Treasured Legacies - A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery (Book 12) (Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mysteries) (Volume 12)
I love this series. It's cheesy, and badly edited, and needs to be more fully fleshed out...but it's sense of hominess, family, and love is so comforting, it's like a nice hot cup of tea on a rainy day. Sometimes, that's all you need.
Tad Williams: River of Blue Fire (Otherland, Volume 2)
I got halfway, put it down, and just never went back to it. It's boring and repetitive. Our protagonists are trapped in a VR, an Otherworld created by rich bastards who want to create their individual worlds any way that want. I feel like this is just a construct the author devised to show us how many different VR's he could come up with. Enough all ready. No more bread, give us the meat. I don't know if I'll finish it.
Tad Williams: City of Golden Shadow (Otherland, Volume 1)
This book is so far ahead of its time, I was amazed that it was published in 1996. It's _still_ ahead of its time. In Williams' world, the net is now VR even for poor people at home. The quality and level of your VR/Net experience is only based on the equipment you can afford...but something strange is going on. Children are going online and not coming back, mentally. A rag-tag group of net/VR experts, some individually, some together, band together to discover how to find their way to Otherland to try and figure out who and why Earth's children are disappearing into the net. As I read, I couldn't help but see how netsurfing could turn into these virtual reality experiences. Brilliant speculative fiction.
Greg Baxter: The Apartment: A Novel
This novel is uniquely designed in that it is all first-person narration by one character, during the course of a day during which he and a friend search for an apartment for him. He is an ex-patriot in an unnammed city of some slavic/Viennese/German/Russian-esque flavor. He is an Iraq vet, a former Iraq intelligence contractor after his official tour of duty who made bundle off of the government, and now just wants to distance himself from the world. The book flows chronologically, but our narrator veers into the past giving us just a taste of the horrors he's seen, and by story's end, we understand his need to "separate" from everyday life. Well done.
Helen Maryles Shankman: The Color of Light
If you read only one book this year, make it this one. I am serious. The writing is luminous, the setting--the 90s NYC art scene--is richly detailed and clearly illustrated and the settings easily come alive. The major characters, Rafe and Tessa, are damaged by the Holocaust even though their lives up until the point where they intersect have been completely different. I would love to detail plot and narrative, but honestly, it's best savored cold. Please, please read this. You will not be sorry. Shankman is a force to be reckoned with, and watched, in the future. (She also has an MFA in classical art and the cover is one of her paintings.) This story will haunt you...as it should.
Blake Crouch: Abandon
I read Crouch's _Wayward Pines_ series and really enjoyed it...a lot. So when this turned up in my Kindle file as a cheap read, I read through the reviews. They were outstanding. More than a few of the reviews mentioned the "unexpected ending" or "twist at the end". That's what I like, so I went for it. This story is taut, tense, and full of fear. It is an amazing story about human greed, suffering, history, and the convergence of all the above during a massive blizzard. Out. Standing. The ending, tho? Was not a twist nor unexpected for me. Still...a helluva pageturner. Crouch is a fabulous writer. Check him out and support a fabulous self-published writer.
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