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.

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