Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 52 Book Resolution: a year's reading, part two

see part one here

14. River Marked, Patricia Briggs. This is the sixth book in the Mercedes Thompson urban fantasy series. Mercedes -- or Mercy, as she's called -- is a car mechanic and coyote skinwalker. Books 1-3 of the series were awesome. Like curl-up-on-the-floor-and-cry-because-I-want-to-write-books-like-that-and-I'm-afraid-I'll-never-be-that-good awesome. Books four and five were nice, but by comparison they were a giant let down. They went off on pointless tangents and didn't include the wonderful full cast of quirky characters. Of course, when your "full cast" grows to the size that these books has, it's understandable why you don't include all of them in every novel ... understandable but not happy. Book six gets better than books four and five though not as fabulous as 1-3. Mercy finally gets married and we finally get light shed on Mercy's unique coyote skinwalker abilities. This will probably be the last book I read in this series (unless book seven has a great hook) because all my questions have been answered, Mercy's origins were the last question I had, even Stefan's ever-worsening state might not be enough to draw me back.

15. The Wierd Sisters, Eleanor Brown. Absolutely awesome. In spite of its name, this novel is not fantasy (urban or otherwise) and it has little to do with Shakespeare. The novel follows three grown sisters who come crashing back into their childhood home under less-than-ideal circumstances. The narrative was intriguing and compelling; it pulled me right along. But the use of point of view was perhaps the coolest part of this novel. Mainly told in a limited third person point of view that alternates between the three sisters, there would also occasionally be moments when the point of view switched into first person plural omniscient -- the all-knowing, unified consciousness of all three sisters. These passages functioned sort of as the novel's Greek chorus.

16. The Search, Nora Roberts. Some Nora Roberts novels are fluffy little things that you can read in a day if you've the time and read fast enough; this was one of her more meatier reads. It follows a young widow (I think she's a widow, now I can't recall) who had narrowly escaped being the next victim of her husband's serial killer murderer. The heroine now lives on the outskirts of a small island community in the Pacific Northwest training search and rescue dogs. I'm not a huge fan of crime fiction -- although I do watch a lot of NCIS and Bones on TV, and I loved Silence of the Lambs though I doubt I could ever make myself read the novel -- but this novel was fascinating for me: intriguingly touching on that world of surviving-out-the-serial-killer's-next-move without the creepypants chill factor. And besides, it's readily apparent that Nora Roberts loves, loves, loves and respects dogs.

17. A Discovery of Witches, Deborah E. Harkness. This was fascinating in the sense that it was a very familiar urban fantasy but it was approached with a very different mindset. The heroine wasn't a PI or a slayer, she was a professor of medieval history on an obscure research quest about alchemical texts. In June I wrote an entire blog post about the book here. It's a good read but beware: it's a series with absolutely no promise of when book two will be finished.

18.  Something Borrowed, Emily Griffen. The movie trailer looked so cute; the book so disappointed me. Still haven't seen the movie. Read my June blog post about why I was weirded out.

19. As You Wish,Gabi Stevens. A young woman who owns a bakery gets the delivery that will change her life: the old guard of fairy godmothers deliver her a wand -- a sure sign that she is part of the new guard of fairy godmothers of which there are only three per generation. That was cool ... beyond that I have no recollection of what happens in this novel. There was an incredibly sweet garden party though. Not that I remember what happens at the garden party but I still would love to get invited to a swankypants affair like that.

20. Warprize, Elizabeth Vaughan. Addictive. This series suffers from truly horrible covers (they seem to get worse as the series progresses) but the world/characters are fabulous. As is the culture clash conflict that Vaughan has created between what I would describe as the "traditional medieval European-based" fantasy culture that the protagonist comes from and the Other that shows up at her city's door intent on warring with them until they surrender. The "Other" is a mix of historical elements from Middle Eastern and American Plains Indians and a bunch of other twists and turns the author has thrown in to make them truly unique and interesting. I highly recommend this series if you're interested in romantic fantasy. These novels have a richness of culture that could have easily lent itself to 400 pages of narrative per novel but they're only around 200 or 250 pages each, so accordingly the pace really clips along. (I'm still rather sad that they weren't longer; I had so much fun getting lost in this world!)

21-22. Warsworn, Elizabeth Vaughan. Book two of the Warprize trilogy -- told ya the covers keep getting worse. Book two is when the three book story arc sort of mires itself down in the muck and we literally get stuck on the journey to book three but it's worth wading through the sticky part to get to the end of the trilogy which concludes with WarlordThere are other related novels in this world which I've not read. You can't get Warsworn and Warlord in paperback anymore; they're tragically out of print, but Warprize isn't. So if you're like me and get hooked on the damn series, the good news is that you can get them as Kindle or Nook editions. And I was addicted. So addicted that I was willing to read both novels, in their entirely on my iPod touch -- not an iPad, an iPod ... so basically a blindingly white little screen that may or may not be the size of your phone. It was worth it.

23. When Blood Calls, J.K. Beck. This was one of those vampy, crime fightery type books. I think there's the supernatural sister agency of the FBI and the heroine works for them and she has to at some point arrest the hero or something. The good news is that this is available as a $0.99 download right now ... the bad news is that I definitely bought it as a paperback and shelled out full price for something that felt much more like a cheap read than a full price read.

Highly Recommended