Sunday, January 8, 2012

My New Year's Resolution

I am not going to freak out if I don't update this as often as I probably should, Nor am I going to allow myself to be frozen in fear by the huge number of books accumulating on my list and allow myself to continue to get further behind. This is not a life or death type of thing and I need to just let it happen as it will. Sometimes I'll feel like sharing my thoughts on what I've read and sometimes I won't. No big deal either way. That being said, this is likely to be another long post while I try to whittle down the list at least a little bit.

'Glamour in Glass' by Mary Robinette Kowal--It's nice to be starting out with a personal favorite. I was wondering how Ms. Kowal would follow up 'Shades of Milk and Honey' since that first volume ended with a pretty definitive Happily Ever After. So, what did she do? Spies! I love spy novels. Plus, she took an honest look at how two people who don't really actually know each other all that well adapt to being married. There was a lot of relationship negotiation--trying to find the right balance of power--which I really liked. Additionally, she added new twists to the magic system she had established in 'Shades', so the whole book was full of new discoveries for both the reader and the characters. It's not always easy for authors to successfully explore what happens after the HEA, which is why so many romance series have new protagonists for each volume, but Ms. Kowal has given readers of 'Shades' a lovely new chapter in the lives of Jane and Vincent.

'Bitterblue' by Kristin Cashore--Another favorite. I obviously had a week where I got really lucky in what came in the mail for me to read. I liked 'Graceling'. I really liked 'Fire'. I think I pretty much loved 'Bitterblue'.  It not only brings back characters from the first two volumes in the saga, but introduces some great new ones. It ties both of the first books together quite nicely and sets up possibilities for at least one--and I sincerely hope, more--books about this world. When I had finished the book, I wanted nothing more than to go back and re-read 'Fire' and 'Graceling' before starting 'Bitterblue' again from page one. I'm just afraid I'm going to have to wait too long to find out what happens next.

'BZRK' by Michael Grant--Grant is the author of the YA "Gone" series, which is one of my favorite YA science fiction series of the past few years. And, while this was good--well paced, with interesting characters and intriguing technology--it just didn't grab me the way the "Gone" books did.

'Girl Meets Boy', edited by Kelly Milner Hals--Like any collection of short stories, this one has some winners and some runners-up. The book has an interesting premise: stories of teen relationships told from both sides. And, just like relationships, some of the stories just don't work out, no matter how much you might want them to. But, several of the stories and characters have lingered with me in the weeks since I finished reading (especially the closing story), so, overall, I'd call it a success.

'The Rogue Pirate's Bride' by Shana Galen--The third volume in a series about three displaced aristocratic French brothers. Shana Galen is one of my favorite recent discoveries and this series has been fantastic. This third volume doesn't pack quite the same emotional wallop as 'The Making of a Gentleman' (which I realized I had somehow skipped and will have it's own little entry sometime later), but it had PIRATES and I am a total sucker for a pirate romance. Especially if we're talking fantasy pirates who bathe and have teeth and aren't suffering from scurvy. And, of course, there was the requisite reunion of the brothers and a healthy dose of derring-do and rescuing from certain death and a satisfying Happily Ever After.

'Wonder' by R.J. Palacio--I didn't expect to be as charmed and captivated by this book as I was. Often, when a child with any sort of disability is the central character of a book, he or she is somehow preternaturally wise or magical and ends up dying in the end and changing the lives of everyone around him or her for the better. Not here, thankfully. Auggie is a normal kid who just happens to have some physical problems. He's sometimes bitter or petulant or selfish and he's not always nice and that made me like him all the more. Bravo to Palacio for avoiding all the "special child" cliches and making me like this book in spite of myself.

'Before the Poison' by Peter Robinson--Not an installment in his Inspector Banks series, this is, instead, much more akin to a Gothic novel. Not a ghost story, but a story about a man haunted by metaphorical ghosts, it's also a mystery and a bit of a romance and, c'mon, it's Peter Robinson. Of course it's good.

'Secrets of an Accidental Duchess' by Jennifer Haymore--'Confessions of an Improper Bride' was one of my favorite Romance novels of 2011 and I never expected this one to match it. It didn't, but it was still damned good. Haymore is just amazing. I think this is the first time I have ever read a novel with a heroine who is suffering from malaria and having to cope with the occasional flare-ups of symptoms. And a hero who isn't scared away by it but doesn't get all overprotective and coddle-y, either. And, there's a little peek into book three at the end of this book and--yay!--missing and presumed dead sister isn't dead at all! Of course that's going to lead to a whole lot of confusion, but I know that Haymore is more than capable of keeping it from going completely off the rails.

And, okay. That's it for now. Back for more tomorrow? The next day? Next week? Next month? Who knows?  Sometime, though. Probably.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Still Catching Up

I'm nearing the home stretch. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can catch up by the end of the week.

'The Invisible Tower' by Nils Johnson Shelton--Another good but not great book for younger readers. And I had such high hopes. I mean, any book where Merlin is still alive and is the proprietor of a comic book shop is going to pique my interest. Sadly, it felt like it was trying to hard to be nerd-cool at the expense of being fun. Of course, I'm far outside it's target audience and there are probably hordes of ten-year-olds who will really get into it.

'The Garden Intrigue' by Lauren Willig--Another charming installment in her Pink Carnation series. I keep waiting for there to be a clunker in this series (it seems to happen to even the best authors), but there has yet to be one. I dread the day when she decides to tell Jane's story because I'm pretty sure she's holding that one back for the very last. Until then, I look forward to every new book.

'Bloodrose' by Andrea Cremer--This is the final volume of her Nightshade trilogy and it was an excellent ending. The action never let up, there were a couple of heartbreaking deaths, and the resolution was one that I should have suspected might be coming, but didn't. And, although it left me wanting to read more from this author, I am perfectly satisfied to leave this world she created just as it is.

'Unclaimed' by Courtney Milan--A really, really lovely historical romance which will join the list of those titles to be placed in the hands of those who claim the genre is nothing but fluff. If reading novels like this one doesn't change their minds, then they're just stubborn.

'Sex, Gossip, and Rock & Roll' by Nicola Marsh--A contemporary series romance, which I rarely read mostly because they're too short. I quite enjoyed it, but wished it had a few more pages to further develop some of the supporting characters and their stories.

'Night Hawk' by Beverly Jenkins--I used to read Beverly Jenkins fairly regularly, but haven't read any of her books for a few years and I'm not sure why. Reading this one reminded me of all the things I enjoyed about her work and I've since picked up a couple of her older titles to add to my TBR pile. I love not just that she writes about non-white heroes and heroines (which is huge), but that her research is thorough and exposes me to historical events that I probably wouldn't otherwise have learned about.

'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey--Oh, how I loved this book. It's just simply beautiful. I picked it up because I love fairy tale re-tellings and grew up reading books about frontier days. This is a re-telling of a Russian folktale set in Alaska in the '20s and it was just so, so wonderful. I think this is likely to make my Best of 2012 list, even though it will publish in February and there are ten months more of books that may knock it from its perch. Oh, just, wow. Read this. Please.

'Pure' by Julianna Baggott--This is being marketed as an adult book, but is clearly YA dystopic fiction. It's true that there is a segment of the adult reading audience who misses out on a lot of great fiction because it's shelved in the "Kids" section, but this maybe isn't the book to try crossing over. It's okay, and to an adult reader who hasn't read a lot of YA dystopic fiction it'll probably seem fresh and unique. I just don't think it's worth the extra seven or eight dollars the publisher is going to be able to charge by marketing it to an adult audience.

'Fever' by Lauren DeStefano--This is the second volume in her Chemical Garden trilogy and I think I liked it ever better than the first volume. Usually, the middle books in trilogies feel like "bridge" books and are weaker than the first and third volumes. This one bucked the trend. It's still very much a bridge book, but it also added new elements to the story and has gotten me really excited for the third volume.

'The Mirage' by Matt Ruff--I really liked this topsy-turvy look at the events of 9/11. In Ruff's world, the attacks take place on 11/9 and it's American extremists who take down the twin towers in Baghdad. It's clever and smart and has an interesting take on who some of the central players would have become if things had played out differently. Oh, and Rummy got his, so extra super bonus points to Ruff for pulling that off.

'Incarnate' by Jodi Meadows--Another book that I absolutely loved. It's a YA paranormal, but there's not a werewolf or vampire or fallen angel to be found. It has a wholly unique mythology and a heroine who is so broken that you can't help but ache for her. An absolutely wonderful book.

'Cinder' by Marissa Meyer--Another fairy tale re-telling, this being a Cinderella (natch) story set in the future and featuring a cyborg Cinderella. It took me a while to get into, but, as soon as it started clicking with me, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

The rest of the catch-up list is now less than 20 titles, so I feel like I've made some progress. I probably won't be able to post tomorrow, but I won't have a lot of time for reading either, so I shouldn't get myself further behind.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Next Batch

Okay. So, here's the next twenty or so in my catch-up marathon.

'Animal Attraction' by Jill Shalvis--Jill Shalvis + hunky vet + cuddly animals = The Grilled Cheese Sandwich of reading. Perfect rainy day comfort food.

'The Silent Oligarch' by Chris Morgan Jones--Reminded me of the spy novels that were being written during the Cold War, including the Russian bad guys. Quieter and more cerebral than I usually go for, with a lower body count and not nearly enough shit blowing up, but quite good all the same.

'Love? Maybe' by Heather Hepler--It's on my list, so I know I read it, but I can't really remember it. Which means it wasn't a standout, but it also didn't totally suck.

'Why We Broke Up' by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman--This was awesome. It was also a difficult read in some ways because I could just see every mistake that Min was making and why this relationship was doomed. I mean, yeah, you know it's going to end because it's a breakup book, but watching each and every mistake get made is like watching a train wreck in slow motion--you know it's going to be ugly but there isn't a damned thing you can do to stop it.

'Treasure Island!!!' by Sara Levine--I really wanted to like this one because it had such an interesting premise:  a twentysomething slacker gets inspired by Robert Louis Stevens's classic and decides to be more adventurous. Unfortunately, she's so utterly unpleasant and so completely oblivious to the effects of her actions on those around her that I wanted to set her on fire. And that was before she killed the parrot she bought with money she stole from her employer. There's a line between eccentric and asshole and she crossed it and never looked back.

'The Anatomist's Apprentice' by Tessa Harris--An okay historical mystery that occasionally got bogged down in trying to show off the author's extensive research.

'The Litigators' by John Grisham--It's been years since I've read a Grisham and I had forgotten how entertaining he can  be. The man knows how to tell a story.

'Seven Nights to Forever'--Older woman, younger man. A woman forced into prostitution by financial difficulties. A miserable marriage and guilt over "cheating" on the horrible spouse. All kinds of things that I love in an historical romance and all in one well-written package. Collins has cemented her place on my must-read list.

'11/22/63' by Stephen King--If you haven't already read about a hundred raves about this book, you've probably been living under a rock or possibly you were in a coma. There's no need for me to repeat what others have already said. I'll only say that the 800+ pages flew by and I would have read it in one sitting if I hadn't had to sleep.

'Dragonswood' by Janet Lee Carey--Dragons! Witches! Forbidden Forests! Doomed Love! An excellent YA fairy tale filled with references to historical witch hunts, the Inquisition, and Arthurian legend.

'The Cabinet of Earths' by Anne Nesbet--An okay middle-reader with a premise that reminded me too much of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials for me to not compare the two and find this one wanting.

'The Dispatcher' by Ryan David Jahn--Contemporary noir about a father who would do anything to find and rescue his kidnapped daughter. Lots of bullets and blood and a villain all the more disturbing because he really thinks he's doing the right thing for his "family".

'The Catastrophic History of You and Me' by Jess Rothenberg--Teen romance with ghosts as hero and heroine, which is not half as disturbing as when only one of the lovers is dead. It's actually a very sweet book with a strong emotional core.

'The Spellman Files' by Lisa Lutz--Okay. I admit it. I don't get the love that so many people have for this series. It was good and had some funny moments, but I don't feel the need to read any more. Oh, well. I'm sure there are plenty of authors I enjoy who other people just don't get.

'The Next Always' by Nora Roberts--It's the first book in a new trilogy from LaNora and I quite liked it, even with the ghost. And, okay, bonus points for making her heroine a bookstore owner.

'The Katerina Trilogy Book 1: The Gathering Storm' by Robin Bridges--A YA paranormal set in czarist Russia and incorporating many elements of Russian folklore. Sadly, there are still vampires and zombies, but the unique setting and strong heroine more than compensate.

'Shadow Heir' by Richelle Mead--I love Richelle Mead, but I have to admit to being disappointed with the endings she's written for both of her adult series. This, like the final Georgina Kincaid novel, felt like the actual ending--the tying up of the series mythology--was rushed and too full of coincidence.

'Scrumptious' by Amanda Usen--A decent romance, but I wish that the foodie bits had been stronger. if you're going to write a culinary romance in this day and age, you probably need to describe the food in as much drool-worthy detail as the hero's abs.

'Winterling' by Sarah Prineas--A charming Middle Reader story about a girl who finds out that it is her destiny to save Faerie and then has to make a choice between that world and this one.

'Secrets' by Freya North--I love British "chick lit" because it doesn't all take place in urban settings and the heroines aren't all dressed in couture (or wishing they were) and there's almost always a scene where the heroine gets caught outdoors in next to nothing, which is usually a pair of manky knickers, a dressing gown, and wellies. The heroines, in other words, are more like women I actually might know. This isn't a glamorous book, but it does have a happy ending, which is all I wanted.

'The Invisible Ones' by Stef Penney--A really good detective novel set in the world of English Gypsies in a time before cell phones and computers were ubiquitous. The time period meant that conversation and legwork were the most important tools a detective had, which created relationships that probably wouldn't have developed in the digital age. It took me a couple of chapters to get into it, but once it grabbed me, I didn't want to stop.

'Under the Never Sky' by Veronica Rossi--More YA dystopia and this one was really very "meh." It had some good moments, but there was nothing unique or compelling enough to set it apart from the rest of the crowd.

One or two more posts and I'll be caught up. And then I'll most likely slack off for a few weeks again, no matter how good my intentions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Two Months Later...

I really, really need to update this more often. It's been lying fallow for nearly two months and I now have a list of more than seventy titles that I've read since then. So, here we go, in order of reading:

'Revealed', 'Follow My Lead', and 'Compromised' by Kate Noble--I did to a Noble-centric post, it just wasn't here. A new must-read author.

'Too Hot to Touch' by Louisa Edwards--It was really good, but it just didn't grab me like the books in her previous trilogy did, and I'm not sure why.

'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green--Have tissues handy. Sad, but stunningly lovely.

'The School for Brides' by Cheryl Ann Smith--Yay! Prostitutes reforming their lives and settling down in matrimony. It's a cheesy trope, but I love it like crazy.

'Tithe' by Holly Black--I love dark fairy stories and wish I had read this one when it came out years ago.

'A Million Suns' by Beth Revis--Not sure why I read this, considering that I was fairly "meh" about 'Across the Universe'. It was more interesting to me than its predecessor and I'll probably read the sequel because that story looks to be interesting.

'Clockwork Prince' by Cassandra Clare--It was exactly what I wanted and expected it to be.

'Agent 6' by Tom Rob Smith--I think this is maybe my favorite of the trilogy, and this is from someone who still thinks 'Child 44' is one of her favorite crime novels of at least the past decade.

'The Demi-Monde: Winter' by Rod Rees--I would have liked this a lot more if it weren't so full of "clever" naming conventions. But, the premise was good and the heroine was awesome, so I just rolled my eyes a lot at the names of things.

'May B' by Caroline Starr Rose--A Middle Reader book in verse, which I would normally avoid like the plague. However, it was a Little House-ish story and not very long, so I read it and was quite impressed. Nine-year-old me would have loved it.

'The Book of Blood & Shadow' by Robin Wasserman--Absolutely one of the best 'DaVinci Code'-esque YA novels that I've read.

'The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen' by Thomas Caplan--This could easily have been cheesy and over-the-top (Hollywood superstar is also a spy), but Caplan pulled it off and wrote a highly entertaining spy novel, and I love a good spy novel.

'There Is No Dog' by Meg Rosoff--This one has people's panties in a bunch because it imagines God as a petulant, horny teenage boy (which would explain sooo much). I hope the controversy means that readers who may have otherwise overlooked this will pick it up because it's really good and worth a read.

'Good Girls Don't', 'Bad Boys Do', and 'Real Men Will' by Victoria Dahl--Solid contemporary romance trilogy about three siblings who own a brewpub, with the third installment, about the eldest brother, being my favorite.

'Hellbent' by Cherie Priest--The second installment in her vampire detective series, which isn't, to my mind, as good as her Clockwork Century novels, but it has some truly great supporting characters who will keep me coming back.

'The Kitchen Counter Cooking School' by Kathleen Flinn--Hey, look, non-fiction! It wasn't awful, but it did feel condescending at times, which tainted the parts that I did like.

'Daughter of the Centaurs' by K.K. Ross--With a title like that, I wanted to love it. I liked it okay, but it didn't live up to the promise of its title or premise.

'77 Shadow Street' by Dean Koontz--There was a time when I devoured Koontz like candy and this book reminded me of why that was. He's a damned fine storyteller who can completely suck you into the worlds he creates, whether they're places you want to visit or not. And this was definitely Not.

'The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae' by Stephanie Laurens--I devoured the first two installments in this series  and was really looking forward to this third and final volume. Sadly, it was lacking the excitement of the preceding volumes and ended the trilogy on a low note.

'The Family Fang' by Kevin Wilson'--This is not the sort of thing I would normally pick up on my own, but I'd heard good things from readers I trust, so decided to give it a go and discovered it to be excellent. Quirky and odd and funny and melancholy and I'm very glad that I read it.

'Irma Voth' by Miriam Toews--Also very good and very much off my normal reading path. I'm glad I read it, but I don't know that I'll be recommending it to others like I will the Wilson.

Okay. That covers about a third of the catch-up list, so I'll take a break and continue this later. And by "later" I mean hours, not months. I hope.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Home Stretch

This is the final catch-up post and then I'm taking tomorrow off, but will be back to regular-ish posting on Friday. Unless I get lazy, which could totally happen.

Lots of Romance again this time, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Probably 75% of my reading is either Romance or books for young readers.

I've stated before and I will state again that I am a Jill Shalvis fangirl. And, if I weren't so already, I have a sneaking suspicion that 'Head Over Heels' would be enough to make me one. It's the third in her Lucky Harbor series and focuses on Chloe, who is the flighty youngest sister of the three who own the inn in the town of--you guessed it--Lucky Harbor. She's never really settled down in one place for long and her sisters don't have a lot of faith that she'll do so now. And, I'm going to stop synopsizing and just say that I think this is my favorite in this series so far. Chloe is so sweet and insecure and feels so completely alone, even though she has her sisters and her best friend and, apparently, the hot town sheriff. Characters like Chloe can often come across as pathetic, but Shalvis is a skilled writer and Chloe just comes across as heartbreakingly human. This is another one of those novels that's getting me all misty-eyed just in the recollection. The cover makes it look like a lighthearted romp, but it's not. It's got layers and texture and good, true emotion. Definitely, definitely worth reading.

'The Highest Stakes' and 'Fortune's Son' are inter-connected novels by Emery Lee and I wanted to like them much more than I did. Although I liked the characters and the stories well enough, there were what I saw as some serious issues with the writing. First, some well-meaning advice to Ms. Lee: Sweetie, you don't have to use all of your research. 'The Highest Stakes' was set in the world of 18th Century horse racing and I ended up skipping great swathes of prose because they went into endless, boring detail about it. Seriously, a little flavor and background is great, but I don't need to read a complete history. If that's what I wanted, I'm sure there are numerous non-fiction books on the subject--most of which were probably listed in the bibliography. As for 'Fortune's Son', I was hoping it would intersect more with the first volume--maybe with some of the military history shared by the two books' heroes or any of the other big plot points that influenced the events of this book. Sadly, it was all barely touched on, which made me think that none of it was terribly important. In which case, why was so much made of it in the first book? Also, again with the bibliography. Since 'Fortune's Son' is being packaged and marketed as a Romance novel ('The Highest Stakes' was touted as historical fiction, so the bibliography was less bothersome), the bibliography just feels like trying too hard. Although I expect the hero and heroine to have to work for their happy ending, I don't think the reader should be expected to.

'The Summer of You' by Kate Noble was so good that I'm now on a Kate Noble binge. 'Nuff said.

'Immortal Rider' by Larissa Ione is the second volume in her new series about the four horsemen of the apocalypse and I have to admit to being totally hooked. I'm quite enjoying her mythology, even though it has vampires and fallen angels in it, both of which I am growing heartily sick of. However, her take on them is different from most, and I can appreciate that. A lot. From the way events played out in this book and the teaser at the end, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to wait patiently for volume three. I want to know NOW.

'Shattered Souls' by Mary Lindsey is the only non-Romance on this particular list. It's a YA about reincarnated souls whose job it is to help guide the "Hindered" on to their eternal reward (or punishment). So, um, yeah. I'm kinda over ghosts, too.

'The Many Sins of Lord Cameron' by Jennifer Ashley is the third volume in her absolutely amazing series about the MacKenzie siblings. (If you haven't read 'The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie', you need to do so right the hell now.) This series and these characters are just wow. Lots of angst and brooding and emotional walls and the whole gamut of darkness, but with humor and believable redemption and happy endings. And, if you pick this up, be forewarned that Cam's dead wife was a right bitch and seriously, seriously disturbed. It gets really dark, but I promise it all ends well--happily, even.

Yay! I'm all caught up. Now, I have another Kate Noble novel to get back to. Expect a Noble-centric post in the not-too-distant-future.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Still Catching Up

I'm going to try to get through the remainder of the titles on my list, but a few may have to be held over until tomorrow.

'Blood Rights' by Kristen Painter is a book I wanted to read because the cover is absolutely gorgeous. It's the first book in a new Urban Fantasy vampire series and, if I weren't so very burned out on the whole lot of 'em, I would have probably enjoyed it a lot more. That said, though, it wasn't bad. It kept me entertained for a few hours and I was engaged enough with the characters to want to see how the story turned out. As a bonus, the cover was actually representative of the content, which made me happy. I thought it was just pretty to sucker in readers like me. Nope. It actually meant something. So, bravo anonymous (to me) cover designer.

'Scandalous Desires' by Elizabeth Hoyt is the third book in her Maiden Lane historical romance series and my favorite so far. It had a pirate in it. And, not just any old pirate, but a Thames River Pirate, which isn't a hero I've run into before. It was, of course, full of drama and high emotion and damaged characters, which is standard for Hoyt. It also featured another lovely fairy tale serving as chapter headings. I still believe that Ms. Hoyt should collect all of the fairy tales she's created for her novels and sell them as a collection. They're absolutely lovely. Even if her novels were less than wonderful, I'd probably continue to read them simply for the fairy tales.

'Endurance' is the sequel to Jay Lake's 'Green', which is a favorite of mine. I've been eagerly anticipating this sequel and, though I didn't swoon over it quite as much as I did with 'Green', it was still  very, very good. It set things up for a third volume, which, with the new developments in this volume, should be fascinating. I'm sure to find myself growing impatient while I wait. I'm excited to see how Green and her world will react to the events and revelations of 'Endurance'.

'The Virtuoso' is another historical Romance from one of my favorite authors. Grace Burrowes only has four books under her belt, but all of them have been outstanding. The events of this novel occur before those of 'Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish', though that novel will be published first. It doesn't really matter, though, because everyone knows you get a Happily Ever After at the end of a Romance novel. The joy is in how the author gets you there. So, it's not like reading 'Lady Sophie' first is really going to spoil anything for you. On the other hand, if you're a stickler for chronological order, you should definitely read 'The Virtuoso' first. But, whichever order you read them in, you need to read them if you like historical Romances. I promise you won't be sorry.

'Genie Knows Best' by Judi Fennell is the second novel in her genie romance series. It's fun and fast-paced and enjoyable and served as a nice change of Romance pace from the deep, painful emotional journeys of the Hoyt and Burrowes novels.

'Too Wicked to Wed' by Cara Elliott is a book I remember enjoying reading, but I can't recall much about it at all. Which just goes to show that I need to write these posts when the books are still fresh in my mind, rather than days or weeks later.

'Heart of Darkness' is the first book in a new series by Lauren Dane. It's UF about witches. I remember liking  the story and characters okay, but getting annoyed by some of the dialogue, which occasionally felt as if it would have been more at home in the mouth of a teenager than a high-powered lawyer/witch.

'Until There Was You' is the new novel from Kristan Higgins, who has always been kind of hit or miss for me. I know she has fans who think she can do no wrong, but some of her heroines are so needy that I can't imagine that anyone would put up with them for long. This, however, was not one of those books. It was sweet and tender and touching and had me tearing up in places. Definitely a hit.

'You're (Not) the One' by Alexandra Potter was okay. It had magic in it (or something that passed for magic, anyway), but, like most RomComs, the resolutions to the A and B plots were just too easy and convenient, magic or no.

'The Sinner' by Margaret Mallory was a Scottish historical Romance, which I usually avoid like the plague because the dialect is so damned annoying. Thankfully, Ms. Mallory keeps it to a minimum, so I was able to enjoy the reading experience. I don't know that I'm going to start downing kilt & claymore novels regularly, but it was nice to see that not all of them think that every other word needs to be "ach" or "dinna".

'The Affair' by Lee Child was a Reacher novel. If you're a fan, you know what to expect and won't be disappointed. If you're not already a fan, this wouldn't be a bad place to start, since it's the story of how Reacher became Reacher.

Okay. I'm going to stop now. That leaves five books on my list to be covered tomorrow and then I can get back to some kind of normal schedule that is, I hope, devoid of these monster posts.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Really Will Be More Diligent

I just got a brand new laptop, so as long as I stay enamored of my shiny new toy, I should be more regular about posting here. Of course, it's been long enough that I need to do a handful of catch-up posts first. I'll start with the books for younger readers, since that's about half of the titles since my last post. Like the last time I did this, I probably won't share my thoughts about everything, but just those that I actually have some lingering impression of. Or whatever.

'Legend' by Marie Lu is another post-apocalyptic dystopian YA, this time told from alternating points of view. Half of the chapters are narrated by Day, the outsider emo-boy hero and the other half are narrated by June, the super-smart, super-establishment heroine. And one character's chapters are printed in gold ink. I think it's Day. The book isn't bad, and June is more together than a lot of the heroines in these things, but that gold ink was really hard on my eyes and if I'm having that much trouble making out the words on the page, I'm going to have a hard time really getting into the book. So, there's that. Had I not had to squint half the time, I may have found this book to be much better than I did.

'The Future of Us' by Jay Asher and Caroline Mackler is also told in the alternating voices of the hero and heroine. It's about two best friends who magically stumble onto Facebook in 1996 and start doing things to see if they can change how their futures turn out. It's smart and engaging and makes me really glad I didn't have Facebook in 1996. I would have surely thought my future self deceased for as rarely as I bother logging in. Also, no gold ink on the pages, so I enjoyed the reading experience much more than that of 'Legend'.

'Snow in Summer' is an Appalachian-set Snow White tale from Jane Yolen. It's Jane Yolen, so you should read it because she does amazing things with fairy tales.

'Darker Still' by Leanna Renee Hiebler is a turn-of-the-century paranormal romance inspired by Oscar Wilde's 'Dorian Grey'. I quite enjoyed it and am pleased that it both tied up the story and left plenty of room for sequels.

'My Very Un Fairy Tale Life' by Anna Staniszewski is cute middle reader fantasy with an evil clown. Since we all know that clowns are inherently evil, I am probably a bit prejudiced in this book's favor for blatantly naming one as the villain.

'The Space Between' by Breanna Yovanoff was, hands-down, my favorite book on this list. I cannot praise it high enough. It's out next month and I encourage everyone who has any tolerance at all for YA paranormal romance to give it a read. It's absolutely beautifully written and devastatingly heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful. I'm getting a little misty-eyed just remembering it. Seriously. Read this book.

'Liar's Moon' by Elizabeth C. Bunce is a sequel to 'Star Crossed', which I loved. I didn't love this one as much because it introduced sequel bait on the last page, and I hate that. Until then, though, it was damned good.

'Unleashed' by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie is about teen werewolves and is (oddly) based on 'King Lear'. Not sure where this series is going, and not sure I care about finding out.

'The Dead Gentleman' by Matthew Cody could have been awesome, but was just okay. There were some great Jules Verne moments, but the intersection of the Victorian and contemporary felt forced and awkward.

'Shatter Me' by Tahereh Mafi was an unexpected pleasure. There's not a lot unique about the story (post-apocalyptic dystopian YA again), but the writing was fantastic. The prose style changed from beginning to end  in a way that reflected the heroine's change from feral and possibly insane prisoner to almost superhero with hard-earned faith in herself. It was the writing, and the slow-dawning realization of what Ms. Mafi was doing with her prose that kept me absolutely riveted.

'Extraordinary' by Adam Selzer made me wish that authors would stop feeling the need to do "send-ups" of popular genres. They hardly ever work well.

'Illuminated' by Erica Orloff is the book I finished on the train ride home today. It had a great premise and I had high hopes for it. However, it really needs a good copy editor. Since the copy that I read was an "advance uncorrected proof for limited distribution", I'm hoping it gets one. About 100 of the ellipses need to be edited out and the grammar needs help. And, from a personal point of view, it needs about fifty more pages of story to develop the relationship between the hero and heroine and to actually do something with the villain who was introduced and then dropped like a hot potato.

I wish I could have ended this on a better note, so I'll take this opportunity to advise both of you to read 'The Space Between' by Brenna Yovanoff. I promise it will be worth your while.