Books: January 2014 – February 2014

I have not been reading much lately, as evidenced below.

1) Eleonor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – This was lovely and bittersweet, and yet I never really connected to it. I feel disappointed not to have found the same magic in this book that everyone else seems to have.

2) Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard- This book took me by surprise – I was not prepared for how it would affect me. And I mean that in a good way. The setting was very unusual and I loved it. The writing took my breath away – the way it switches about, the gorgeous poetry. It comes together so well – and depicts the main characters fragility and bipolarity perfectly. The characters were fascinating and I loved their relationship. It was not one person saving the other, or fixing them, but accepting them, and accepting that it will be difficult with the baggage they carry, but wanting to give it a try nonetheless. You get the sense that they will make it work because of that. And that is what I ultimately loved about this book – the painfully realistic depiction of mental illness. This is probably only the second book I’ve read that really comes across like the author gets it. Gets how messy, ugly, damaging mental illness is, and the way it affects relationships, not always in a good way. How love and friendship can help, but cannot save nor fix, as so many other books would love to show. In the end, two very broken characters find understanding, acceptance and company in each other. Its beautiful.

3) Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch- I love this series but it has reminded me of why I do not usually pick up unfinished series. Reading these books makes me nervous. There are a lot of things being hinted at, a lot of interesting characters with back stories I’d kill to see explored more (read: Nightingale) so it makes me very nervous as book goes by without any more information. Just how many books will be in this series? Am I just going to be reading book after book waiting to see more background of my favourite character, only to be continually disappointed? I adore these books – the science-like magic, the characters, the mysteries, the villain, their unpredictability. (The twist at the end of this book really came out of nowhere in the best way.) But I want more Nightingale and I want more of his back story and of the back story of magic. At least in these books we got a hint of how magic works in other countries, although its still very Europe centric, and I also wonder what magic is like outside of London. So many questions, no idea how many books it will take to get answers. It always leaves me feeling a bit dissatisfied reading these books because of that.

Audiobook notes: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith absolutely brought this book alive. He was a wonderful narrator.

4) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – So I didn’t really like this book either. In fact – for admittedly personal reasons – this book made me fairly angry and annoyed at times. Nonetheless I did appreciate the lovely depiction of fandom and what it means to different people – and how it was never shown as weird. I think I enjoyed the Simon Snow book and fanfic extracts more than the actual story- it was very typical fanfiction but nice nonetheless. I was left wanting to read carry on, simon and everything by magiccath quite a lot.

Books: August 2013 – December 2013

50 books!

36) The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley – Very beautiful, but flawed. Separate post here.

37) Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold – This book is magnificent. This is fantasy at its most exquisite. I was taken aback by how much I loved this book, how little I wanted to stop and put it down for even a moment, especially when the first in the series left me dissatisfied.

38) Lion of Kent by Aleksandr Voinov and Kate Cotoner – This book was terrible. William was naive/childish and over eager, and I spent the majority of the novel feeling very, very embarrassed for him. That was just one of this books problems. There was not much to redeem it- except maybe though that it was at least mercifully short.

39) The Labyrinth Gate by Alis A. Rasmussen – This book starts with a lot of conveniences- oh we just happened to land up somewhere Victorian in our Victorian style wedding dress, just happened to run into some bored nobles who just happen to be the sort of people who take strangers to their homes and give them a place to stay without asking questions first and will then be kind enough to help us without showing much fear or wariness when they discover we’re from another world. But oh, it develops into a very fun adventure. It reminded me of a great children’s film – fun and light for the children, but with more than enough going on for the adults. (Though this is definitely a teen book)

40/41) Mariners Luck and Land of the Night by Kirby Crow – I had this whole big rant planned for these books but in the end I couldn’t get it to sound right. Neither of these books worked for me though, I found the the characters annoying, the politics too simplistic, the world well developed, but not quite rich or complex enough.(The likes of Lois McMaster Bujold and Martha Wells have spoiled me, perhaps) I wanted to like these books, this series, and I thought it had massive potential but ultimately it was wasted. The first book was good, but flawed, and things just got worse and worse from book to book. Very disappointed.

42) Few are Chosen by Storm Grant – This was short, fluffy and completely forgettable.

43) Dying Light by Stuart MacBride I wrote before that I found cold granite ok. Then I reread it and I totally fell for it. I found it gritty and dark, with a dark humour to match. It was seriously engrossing, and thoroughly entertaining. My timing was brilliant, as dying light was on offer for £1.99 I snapped it up and I am now a Logan McRae addict. This book was very dark, there was some scenes I could barely even read they disgusted me so much. I’ve never read a crime novel so visceral. And yet, this book was also funny and entertaining. The characters are definitely veering to the caricatures, to the these cannot exist in real life and no way they’d still be in a job, but well, I just found this book so enjoyable. It feels a bit wrong to find such a violent book so entertaining, but there you are. I’m dying to read the third, and am watching eagerly to see if it will go on offer.

44) The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold – Sequel to Paladin of Souls. Started very strong, but unfortunately fizzled out at the end. Disappointing after the greatness of Paladin of Souls.

45) The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – Average, a bit boring by the end. Separate post here.

46) The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell– You know what I said about the cuckoos calling with its uninspired characters, uninspired plot line and average setting? This book had fairly average characters and it was set in London but it did something with its plot I’ve never seen before, and drew me in with that: this book is about solving a crime through genealogy. It introduces us to a shy, awkward genealogist who becomes the key player in solving the crime (I loved Nigel Barnes and his impulsiveness that comes from his shyness) It drags us through all the various newspaper archives, death/birth/certificate archives and the like in London – draws us through the past as told through that was left behind, and shows how history, and the actions of our ancestors can still have a profound effect on our lives today. History is always there, as Barnes tells us, we just choose not to see it. It sounds a little out there but the author makes it work and its fascinating, and I never saw any of the twists coming, and I could never guess what was going to happen next, and even when I recognised we would not be told something if it wasn’t important, it still took me by surprise how everything came together in the end. This book was absolutely thrilling from beginning to end. I loved it. On saying that, I’m not sure I’ll be reading any more in the series. I’m just not sure how many times they can keep needing a genealogist before it becomes strange? And I guess I worry it won’t live up to this one.

47/48) Fadeout and Death Claims by Joseph Hansen – These books are so sad. The main character – Dave – is grieving for his dead lover and his grief is always there, clinging to every word, weighting down the pages. And the mysteries are so bleak. You can understand Dave’s weariness with his job – when he has to deal with the terrible things people do for money day in day out. They’re beautiful books, but emotional ones. In a very quiet, subdued way they are really quite affecting. I hope I can get hold of the rest of the series.

49) A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan – I’m not a historical romance reader typically, but I love Courtney Milan. I love the characters she creates and the romance she writes is so satisfying – you can really see how much the characters respect and admire each other, which for me is very romantic. Cannot wait to read one of her full length books.

50) Rosa and the Veil of Gold by Kim Wilkins – Enchanting, right until the end. Separate post here.

Books: April-July 2013

Did not get much read these past few months. :/

29) Community Service by Vaughn R. Demont – Separate post here. Liked it, but likely only out of lingering love for Coyote’s Creed and one Spencer Crain.

30) First you Fall by Scott Sherman – This book was disappointing. I really appreciated how certain elements of this book were treated without the usual angst. Kevin was a wonderful character. The book remained light hearted and fun throughout whilst still treating heavy subject matters respectfully and it came off as realistic, too. Yet, the mystery plot was so-so and veered into the “really?” towards the end (losing that wonderful sense of reality alongside it) Things came together in a very convenient way and people were way to willing to spill the beans. Also: I figured out who killed Allen halfway through and I was hoping- hoping I wasn’t right. I was right. And I did not like the portrayal of the shy woman or the fat woman. It was a little bit offensive. And what on earth did Tony do to deserve forgiveness? I really wanted Kevin to say no, sorry you had your chance and make a fresh start. The fairly open end does not suggest that happening :/ I think I need to avoid romantic suspense? This is clearly not a genre that works for me.

31) Drowntide by Sydney J. Van Scyoc – Appreciated that it was a compact, single volume fantasy. Excellent word building. But did not work for me overall. As an aside: I miss the hand painted covers for fantasy books. The cover of drowntide is gorgeous and actually related to the book!

32) Not Dead Yet by Peter James – Loaned to me by a friend for easy holiday/airport reading and it certainly did the job as exactly that. The writing was technically good, but I found it far too plain- it’s very much we’re told what’s happening, and what characters are feeling or thinking, and as such I didn’t connect to the characters or their relationships. However the book is intricately plotted and I enjoyed immensely trying to figure it all out, as James skillfully plays between viewpoints, that seem unrelated at first, but of course were not. An engrossing read as purely an interesting mystery. But I don’t think I’ll check out any more of this author, as I do not enjoy his writing style.

33) The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino – Galileo as a TV series was just a typical detective Jdrama- nothing special, but entertaining enough. So when I watched the movie that followed I was taken by surprise by how different it was. How much better. It was powerful and moving. The book is a little different from the movie, and maybe even better. The crime, or rather its cover up because uniquely that is the center of this mystery, is very elaborate and you do wonder- would someone really go that far for a love that isn’t even returned? But it is that that probably makes this book so devastating. Really, the book starts of a bit confusing but once it gets going and everything starts unravelling it’s hard to stop reading. The last few chapters were just so incredible, and the ending tragic. I also enjoyed book Yukawa- he was a little more human, still quirky but not quite so eccentric or strange. It was so sad seeing him struggle with knowing what his friend did. I really want to get hold of more of the Yukawa books, although unfortunately it seems only one other has been translated (Maybe there is only one?)

34) The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells – Once again a Martha Wells book that I struggle with at the beginning, but eventually end up loving completely. Like what I’ve read of Wells so far, this book is mature and although written in a light hearted manner with a dry sense of humour throughout, it is none the less sad in many ways. The characters are all broken and often twisted, the relationships between them uncertain and not always happy- they argue, feel betrayed, feel hurt. The book is a dark, moving adventure, with incredibly detailed world building (I am amazed at how well Nicolas knew the streets of the city and even its sewers as this meant the author must know this. Imagine building a world right down to its lower levels. Incredible.) and some brilliant characters. Also: this book is set 300 or so years later than element of fire and I did appreciate the subtle call backs to that book- although I am not sure I picked up on them all, I did think it was marvellous the reveal of just who nicolas ancestors were. (Though it was terribly sad to see him and his family still paying the price for what an ancestor they never knew did)  I am not usually fan of these sorta Victorian London settings, but I really enjoyed this one. Also, gotta appreciate how Wells has released her back list as very affordable and very well formatted ebooks.

35) Scorpion by Aleksandr Voinov – The world building in this one is no where near as intricate as Martha Wells above, and at times I felt the world building was actually a little flat. The author also pushed at the line of having the erotica take over the plot- there were just so many sex scenes and with so many different people that it kinda distracted from the plot. Even the world did come across as a little over sexualised at points, which didn’t help the flatness. But although a little sparse, the world building was consistent, and I did very tense throughout wondering how things would unfold because although I could not quite grasp the world and its dynamics, I liked the characters and the relationships between them and this was what kept me reading/invested in the book. The book was unpredictable and there were many unexpected twists: the author surprised me with the identities of certain characters, and how the relationships in this book them unfolded. Kendras had an incredible strength and his dedication, and therefore his fears, about his officer were heart wrenching. I appreciated how the author handled their relationship (I really let out of a sigh of relief at the end when it came to them), and more importantly I appreciated that how the relationship between Kendras and Steel played out- anything else would have been icky and unbelievable. (Though Steel was such a strange character- he was presented as the main, but was never really developed so what happened to him did not have as much impact as it could, and should have) Also- how beautiful is the cover to this book? I admit I was drawn in by that cover because yes, that is a deciding factor for me when browsing  books.

36) The Taker by Alma Katsu – No. This looked to be something I would enjoy but I just could not get into it. I did not like Lanny and did not understand, nor particularly care about, her obsession with Jonathan. This  book was such a long, hard slog to get through. In fact, I actually started it last year and then abandoned it when I left for Malaysia and only picked it up again recently to finish, as I did after all buy it, but man, I am so glad to be done with it. (lets not talk about how its a trilogy. one is enough!)

Books: March 2013

Not too many books this month, and I’m still rereading a lot as I’m still broke.

21) Faithful Place by Tana French – Man, I love Francis Mackey. He’s manipulative, cunning, cruel…you can assign all these nasty and dangerous words to him. Some of the things he did in this book were both terrifying and disgusting, the way he fucks with peoples minds. But underneath the tough exterior he is so vulnerable and has so many issues that he has clearly never bothered to deal with. I find him such a fascinating character and I just loved this book so much, of course not just for Frank, but for the story too. Its so simple, but devastating. It’s what  I was talking about impact in the rant of strange. You do not need cults or conspiracies or serial killers or gore for impact. This is a book with a relatively straight forward plot, you can suspect the criminal quite early on, but it does matter who. it matters that it happened and that it affected a life, lives. it gets you deep down, this book does. You can see Rosie as Frank sees her and you can feel the ache of what-was right alongside him. Frank and Rosie were so young and filled with optimism in the flash backs and you don’t know that it would have worked, that they would have gotten away, that it would have lasted but by the end of the book you feel such anger, such hurt that they never got the chance to find out. This is part devastating love story, part crime novel and I love Tana French for that- for not making this a standard procedural but really digging deep into this small, awful crime and what a terrible, lasting thing loss is.

Also, as an aside: I adored the way Tana French wrote Frank’s relationship with his daughter and ex-wife. It was slightly heart breaking, but lovely.

22) House of Stone by Vaughn R Demont This is not a great book, but its a very entertaining one .I do like this authors writing style, its quite chatty and conversational but never irritating, and there are moments of startling beauty and intelligence that can be truly moving amongst an otherwise light, humorous, plot hole filled book. It’s a satisfying quick read, as long as you don’t think about it too much afterwards, lest you start noticing all those flaws.

The only thing that really annoys me about this author is that all his books are loosely connected. they are all set in the same world, but at different times and amongst a different set of magical beings and honestly, its distracting because with every hint at another book I start trying to link them together, rather than focusing on the book on hand. Worse, I cannot fathom how they are supposed to go together and it drives me INSANE and it kinda ruins this authors books for me, just a little (although this book is not the worst for it. Some of his others suffer more from this terrible need to link them together)

23) Unnatural Selection by Ann Somerville- This book was…flat. It got better towards the end, when the characters finally started developing some chemistry but meh. Unlikeable characters, a relationship that felt forced, and a plot that was fairly mundane too. Also: I predicted the villain right from the start. No more ann somerville for me.

24) The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan – This is a short, very sweet, very romantic novella. Both characters had strong personalities but were extremely likeable. I especially like what Milan did with the character of the wolf- he could have easily been a bit of a jerk, but she fleshed him out marvellously and made him very sympathetic. The final marriage scene was gorgeously creative, so sweet and hot at once. And I loved that he grew to respect and admire her before loving her. And how, once the relationship began he still respected her such a great amount he would go to such great lengths for her, put her needs before his. That level of trust, respect and selfless support affects me more than any declaration of love.

25) Coyote’s Creed by Vaughn R. Demont – OK, so this is not a good book either. It’s better than House of Stone, but I say that only because I absolutely adore the characters of this book. I love Spencer especially. He’s an immature 18 year old delinquent with a bit of a heart of gold, but mostly he’s just a pathetic, mouthy brat. I love that. I love that he’s a immature teenager written like one and as such, completely unprepared for the adventure he’s been set on. I also love the handling of the main relationship- how Spencer is not in love, and that’s OK because he’s young and really not in the right head space for all that. There are some repeated phrases and stuff, and that would be annoying, if only it weren’t for the author making it an ongoing joke in the story itself that gets caled out by the characters themselves. You get the feeling that Demont really has a lot of fun writing his books. This book makes me laugh, and like House of Stone, there are these moments of beautiy that really get you. It’s totally flawed, but I love it anyway. (Now, if only its loose sequel did not slightly ruin this book for me. This book does suffer from being interconnected, unfortunately.)

26) Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway –  I admit, I bought this mostly because it was 59p and I was desperate for something new to read that would not break the bank. This revealed itself to be a fairly interesting, albeit fairly standard police procedural. I think the reason I really enjoyed it was because I felt drawn to the main character- Lucy. She’s not a tough, hard drinking detective. She’s a vulnerable young woman, competent at her job but still unsure of herself, a police officer more because she was not sure what else to do rather than a passion for it. I really, really liked her. I do wish the book ended better though, the pacing went a bit funny toward the end and the ending felt slightly rushed to a conclusion, with a few frayed plot threads left hanging.

27) Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov – This book was not what I expected. It sounded so fluffy and trite, but revealed itself to be something else entirely.  There’s a surprising depth to this book and to these characters. And yet, I found myself merely liking it. Not loving it. I’m also a little annoyed that the sequel is £4.61, even though its equally as short.

28) Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price – read this in one sitting. could not put it down. Vampirism as a disease is not exactly a unique plot, but it is always interesting to see what authors do with it. I liked it here, it was dark and slightly heartbreaking, but not entirely hopeless. Everything was consistent and made sense and I never felt lost. Also Mark and Jonathan were extremely likeable characters, and the romance very, very sweet. My only complaint is that it wraps up very neatly. Perhaps a little too neatly.

Books: February 2013

Books! And only like, a week late. :/

8) Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells – I enjoyed this right until the end. I appreciate Martha Wells frank writing, her fantasy books are definitely very grown up without being gratuitous, and I love how she writes these unlikeable, prickly, jaded characters and makes them very engaging. The dry, dark humour helps too. I recently read  an element of fire and that too I liked but could not quite get into it. I think I liked this one better- I loved the world building and the court intrigue and the twisted magic in element, but  I did not enjoy how the book ended nor the romance in it. I liked the world building here too, and I liked the exploration of religion and religious magic even if toward the end it derailed into something more sci fi than I usually enjoy, and the ending was just unbelievably strange. I definitely enjoyed the  romance here more. The  romance in element was one of the rare cases I wish it had been left out, but I enjoyed it here.

9) Somatesthesia  by Ann Somerville – Dragged quite a lot somewhere just after the middle but enjoyable enough. Enjoyed the main characters relationship and appreciated how the author handled the situation where they were work partners. a great streak of humour throughout too. A quick, satisfying read that I’m likely going to forget about immediately.

10) City of Bones by Martha Wells – Yes, another Wells. These books were very cheap though, with element being free and wheel and city being under £2 each. Anyway. when I first started this book I was bored and confused. I couldn’t get a grasp on the world and the characters. However I soon found myself immersed in this, unable to put it down. I grew to love this book, in fact.  I never had any moments like in Element of Fire of Wheel of the Infinite where I was going WTF or getting frustrated or wishing that things would go a different way. Its a slow book, that takes a while to start up, but once it gets going it’s fascinating, with amazing characters and a lot of interesting twists, leading to a very satisfing end.  There was something rather sad about the ending, yet it felt right. I think this may be my favourite Wells I’ve read so far.

11) Lord of the White Hell Pt1 by – This book was hilarious. oh there was plenty of serious stuff, but I mostly enjoyed the often humorous descriptions of a fantasy (boarding) school and teenage boys being teenage boys, even in this fantasy setting.

12) Lord of the White Hell pt1 by  – OK, I really hate how this author has basically taken a whole book and sold it in two very expensive parts. It’s not right, that. But, well. Whatever. I liked these books enough to make the sacrifice.  this book, much like its other half prequel was also hilarious with some serious stuff. I also enjoyed it although I realized I really did not like the main character, kiram at all. I actually skipped pages because it was so awkward to read about the things he does and says. I just felt so embarassed for him. I’ve mentioned I hate feeling embarassed while reading a  book yeah? also it was obvious by the end of  part one who was behind the curse, so spending this book watching these characters running around not realising the bloody obvious was infuriating. how could such clever boys be so thoroughly stupid?

13) Devil’s Peak by Deon Meyer  – Separate post here. Enjoyed this quite a lot.

14) Strange by Fredrick James – separate post coming soon. Most frustrating, disappointing book I’ve read in a while.

At this point I ran out of money, so I reread a bunch of books.

15) Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale – This book is perfect. I realised I was actually quite disappointed in Lord of the White Hell, if only because I admit I was expecting something as phenomenal as this, and did not receive it.

16) Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot – This book is set in a regency England where magic exists and is accepted. It follows the letters between cousins Kate and Cecelia. Kate has gone off to London to accompany her younger sister for their fist season, and Cecelia has been left behind in their home in Essex. There is a light mystery involving a magic chocolate pot  and a mysterious marquis, among other things. There are a lot about this book I thought would not work for me- the historical setting for one, and the epolstary format for another but nope, really enjoyed this both times I have read it. Kate and cecy’s letters make for a delightful and thoroughly fun read. It does read a little young, but I think this is one of those books that both adults and children can enjoy tremendously. Like a good Disney movie.

17) Among the Living (PsyCop #1) by Jordan Castillo Price, 18) Criss Cross (PsyCop #2) by Jordan Castillo Price and  19) Body & Soul (PsyCop #3) by Jordan Castillo Price  – So, I’ve posted about these before and I said I liked them, and I do, because I am rereading them after all. However that does not mean I don’t have problems with these first three books of the series. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t like the relationship between Jacob and Victor here. There is something about it that comes off as very unhealthy in these first few books- the relationship is rushed and feels based more on the physical connection than anything else, and the way Jacob views Vic’s abilities does not feel right. I mostly enjoyed these out of love for Victor and for the wonderfully realised ideas about psychics and how they fit in our world, and how these gifts would affect those who had them.

20) Secrets (PsyCop #4) by Jordan Castillo Price –  This was the book where I stopped merely liking this series,and started to like it quite a lot. Camp Hell would seal the deal for me, but this book definitely worked for me a lot more than the previous ones. It’s almost a pity you have to read the first three first to get the most out of this book, as this is really the book where the story really starts to develop and better yet, Victors relationship with Jacob finally starts to work for me here because they finally had problems. That sounds weird but it was great to see them argue and doubt each other, and to watch them become closer emotionally because of it.