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.

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