Let’s see, there were a couple of very good reads combined with some new releases that did not live up to expectations. Of course, the expectations for one were pretty high, while the expectations for another were pretty low.
Books I loved:
The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo. Mystery/suspense. Bought a paper copy of this book based on Avidbookreader’s pimping of the author and series. Loved it. Harry Hole is a fascinating protagonist. In my mind, he’s a Nordic version of Stephen Rea’s Lt. Burakov in Citizen X. The threads seemed to be divergent and messy, but managed to be tied up in the end. Was guessing about who the killer was until almost the last moment. One thread left dangling makes me wonder — will that last little thing be solved in the future, or be left secret? A.
Hell Fire by Ann Aguirre. Urban fantasy. A-.
Books that made me think:
Generation Kill by Evan Wright. Nonfiction account of the first months of the Iraq War, written by a reporter who was embedded with First Recon Marines. B
One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick. Memoir of Marine OSC and other training, written by one of the retired officers from Generation Kill. The memoir was centered around what made him become a Marine, and what he sees as the fundamental nature of the men who comprise the Marine Corp. Feel very ambivalent about the book. Fick calls the Marines "the last bastion of manhood" in America, and at different points writes about how the ideal Marine is a fighter and a killer. I guess I’m not sure I understand or agree with those as ideal or fundamental characteristics for "manhood".
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. YA, fantasy. I love your eyes, I love your ears. I love every one of your ridiculous lies. Previously reviewed here.
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. YA, fantasy. Calf love doesn’t usually survive amputation, Your Majesty. Previously reviewed here.
Books that were okay:
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. YA, fantasy. This book is good. It’s very good. But it had the weight of huge expectations pressing down upon it. Frankly, the draw to the series (for me) is Eugenides, and the relative lack of page space for him or with his POV was what I missed in this book. Also, Sophos as ruthless king was a very hard sell given his early passive nature. I get (I think) what MWT was doing with the theme of perception/appearance vs. reality. Just not entirely sure I bought it. B
Cheek to Cheek by Chris Owens. M/m romance. This was a sweet romance, although it wasn’t all that memorable. I’d forgotten the plot by the time I began to write this post. Firemen who dance. B-/C+, I guess?
Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts. Contemporary romance. Roberts does families better than anyone writing romance out there today, IMO, and that is what worked best about this book. This installment was better than the last one, which was DNF for me because the heroine pissed me off so much. Enjoyed the friends-to-lovers theme. The ending was a little bit of a let down — felt like more of the hero’s POV there would’ve helped. But still good. A few typos and one consistency error really bothered me, though. Where is the editorial staff? Doesn’t a big name author like Nora Roberts get kid glove treatment? B-.
Books that bored or that I couldn’t be arsed to finish:
Special Delivery by Heidi Cullinan. M/m romance. Was interested here until Randy joined the story; third just irritated me. DNF.
Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley. YA contemporary. Nothing wrong, just couldn’t get into the story. DNF.
It Takes Two by Elliot Mackle. Post World War II mystery, gay fiction. "Should of" in the text killed my interest. DNF.
Lover Mine by JR Ward. SPOILERS HERE. Although I’ve been a member of BDBAA (Black Dagger Brotherhood Addicts Anonymous), I jumped off the wagon because I wanted to read John Matthew’s story. I’m a little sorry that I did so. After the first couple of chapters, I skimmed this book. One hundred or more pages could have been chopped without damaging the core story. The historical thread, the haunted house, etc., could’ve been trimmed. Qhuinn is an idiot. Lash is a loser and his demise (no surprise there, right?) is absolutely ridiculous. John Matthew and Xhex, the ostensible main characters, took up maybe 25% of the page space. (And seriously, Xhexania? Really?) The Scribe Virgin’s authority and power is further undermined. Am using Amazon’s trade in service, so will have paid a net $3 for this book…which is way more than the book was worth, IMO. D
ETA: I forgot one more book, Karina Bliss’ What the Librarian Did, a Harlequin SuperRomance that was very well reviewed. The setting was different (New Zealand) and the premise was different — rock and roll star running away from the business for his own mental and physical health. My thought was that 1) the book felt like it needed more page space to address all the issues it brought up and 2) it felt like a lot was skipped or glossed over, told rather than shown. My general complaint about this line is that it is too angsty and issue-oriented, and that was the case here. The big issue seemed to be fixed fairly easily, and I’m not sure I believe it. B-.