Lots of big stuff going on in friends’ lives. It’s been a really crazy week, but I don’t feel that I can divulge their personal business to the internets, so I’m going to blather about books for a while. Between doctor’s visits (nothing big, just lots of little things: the annoying return of the cysts in my wrist, a broken toe) and the insomnia, I’ve been reading a lot lately.
I blitzed through Victory of Eagles and thought it was an improvement over the last few books in the series, but not good enough to hold my interest. I’m keeping His Majesty’s Dragon and ditching the rest. So disappointed in the development of that series!
I picked up Sherry Thomas’s Private Arrangements after reading glowing reviews of her work on Smart Bitches and Dear Author. Fantastic book. I loved it to pieces right up until the end, and then I disagreed with the author on the big finish — I thought the characters needed a private meltdown, but she went for a showy public resolution instead. It works, though, and it’s consistent with the rest of the story. I’m not going to quibble overmuch with an author who keeps me reading until 4 a.m. I devoured her other two books in quick succession and liked them almost as well. She’s basically telling the same story (a ten-years-later reconciliation) several different ways, but she does it so entertainingly…! The setting for Not Quite a Husband is especially wonderful. (And well-researched, according to one expert. “Punitive uprisings were when the British army would punish an African or Asian power which they felt had challenged their authority in the region. That’s in your book? Really?”) I could tell that a subplot had been excised at some point, but the main plot was intriguing enough that I didn’t care.
I’ve also devoured Cassandra Chan’s mystery series beginning with The Young Widow. These books are an absolute delight. They follow a wealthy London man-about-town and his friend, a humble homicide detective. The atmosphere is just like Dorothy Sayers’s Peter Wimsey books, but the setting is modern. Now I’m looking forward to the quest for back issues of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, because the series started out in short stories, and those issues are damn hard to find around here, but I MUST HAVE THEM. You know how it is.
(Interlude: I have just fished a whole cookie, half a cookie, and about 3/4 of a brownie out of my purse. Evidently I’ve been collecting partially eaten desserts at every restaurant meal this week and never noticed. All wrapped in plastic, fortunately. Mmm, brownie.)
I’m slowly working my way through Kate Griffin’s A Madness of Angels, but I’m not loving it the way I’d hoped. In a lot of ways the protagonist is similar to Harry Dresden, and I read those books as fast as I could turn the pages, but Matthew is … not humorless, but not quippy either, and this book needs a little more humor to leaven the dark bits. It’s full of brilliantly conceived bits of urban magic, but Matthew is difficult to love. The fact that he’s withholding a lot of information from the reader — and I’m well into the last quarter of the book, mind you — is not helping matters. If I knew the details of his history with the antagonist, I could maybe sympathize with his dilemmas. As it stands, watching him wrestle with his problems is a lot like watching a mime show.
I got bogged down a little over a hundred pages into Michael Flynn’s The January Dancer, which several reviewers had compared to Firefly. These reviewers were high. Instead of following a ragtag band of merry criminals, the book follows an artifact discovered (but quickly lost) by a ragtag band of not-very-merry criminals. From there, it falls into the hands of a planetary administrator far away, contributing to a local civil war. The rest of the book looks to be more of the same: the adventures of a special rock, punctuated by scenes in a tavern in which a bard learns these stories from someone who was there (maybe, sort of). Each episode is very entertainingly told, but without a single protagonist I can latch on to, I’m rapidly losing interest.
Also recently finished:
Charlaine Harris’s Dead and Gone: meh. I was hoping Sookie would find a new direction after the last book, but instead there’s a whole lot of unexpected action, violence, and stuff with Eric I did not much care for. And yet, Sookie is waking up to the fact that the men in her life are mostly awful people who are constantly dragging her into their disasters… so I maintain hope for the series.
Joshilyn Jackson’s Gods in Alabama: am I the only person who doesn’t just love this book? I could not muster up a lot of sympathy for the protagonist, who seemed to be creating a lot of her own problems. Here’s a tip for the future, Ms. Troubled Heroine: talk to people when you have problems, and maybe think about calling the police the next time you’re party to a crime.
Alisa Sheckley’s The Better to Hold You: Alisa Kwitney moves into paranormals, and I did not care for it AT ALL. The heroine dithered far too long over her husband, who was QUITE clearly a) a jackass, and b) cheating on her. The pace was jerky, the side characters (especially her friends and colleagues) brought in when needed and then unceremoniously hustled offstage, the love interest was more creepy than hot, and the shapeshifting characters got into a level of animalistic desire that was pretty ick. I loved several of the author’s chick lit books written as Kwitney, but… no.
Tanya Huff’s Blood series: early vampire/detective series I’d overlooked for years, but quite enjoyed. The inevitable love triangle was well done, for a change. The heroine was not Wonder Woman, and in fact had very serious and believable limitations. The monster-movie bad guys were mostly very good; I thought the mummy didn’t quite work, but the werewolves and zombies were great. And the last book went in an unexpected direction, but it turned out to be my favorite.
several books on the film and TV industry: novel research
Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan: YA telepathy, one of my pet subjects
C.J. Cherryh’s Cyteen: on hold because, a little more than halfway through, I want to murder the entire cast and replace them with sensible folk.
Coming up next: Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave, because of its first paragraph:
To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.
How can I not read that?