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.