Thursday, October 31, 2013

What I've Been Reading: October 2013

Sorry to have gone missing for a normally scheduled post there!  This month has been full of fun things for this librarian, from a week's vacation spent doing projects around the house, to a quick trip to have my eyes lasered!  Needless to say, even as much as I love reading, it's been hard to fit it in around days in the yard and some very tired eyes.  But!  If you've been reading around here for a bit, you know that I am nothing if not resourceful when it comes to finding time and ways to get my book fix, so I have still got a solid list of (mostly fluffy) books to share with you this month!

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion.  You already know I couldn't keep it to myself--I loved it!  You can read my full review here.  This is a bit of a sleeper hit, and one I cannot recommend enough.  NOT your average love story, by any means.  295 pages

Thankless in Death, by J.D. Robb.  Eve Dallas, decorated lieutenant of the future's NYPD, has come up against many a challenge in her career.  But this time around, the challenges are twofold.  First, she has a rapidly escalating serial killer on the loose, and she is just a step behind him even as he proves increasingly more deadly and elusive.  Second, she has come up against a rather awkward career crossroads.  Is she ready for the promotion everyone thinks she ought to take?  Robb (aka, bestseller Nora Roberts) delivers as always.  402 pages

A Perfect Hope, by Nora Roberts.  I'm afraid this month is going to get a little repetitive, so my apologies in advance.  Vacation reading, for me, usually winds up being fairly light and easy, and since I spent a lot of my summer reading some very heavy stuff, I took this opportunity to play catch-up.  This is the final installment of the Inn Boonsboro trilogy, and innkeeper Hope Beaumont finally gets the opportunity to put her past behind her and move forward, straight into the arms of the most inscrutable of the three Montgomery brothers, Ryder.  324 pages

Mile 81, and The Dune, by Stephen King.  Mile 81, a novella originally published as an ebook back in 2011, and The Dune, a short story originally published in Granta magazine, also in 2011, were brought together in an audiobook format in 2012.  A perfect duo of short and scary to get into the Halloween groove!  In Mile 81, young Pete Simmons is left unsupervised by his older brother and decides to go on an even better adventure than the one he's "too little" for, sneaking out to a local rest-stop which has been long-closed and drinking himself into passing out, thanks to an abandoned bottle of vodka.  As he sleeps, however, sinister and strange things are afoot out in the parking lot.  In The Dune, a retired Supreme Court Justice relates to his lawyer a lifetime obsession with a mysterious sand dune on an unnamed island, just off the shore of his family's Gulf Coast property.  The reason behind his obsession, however, is more shocking than just the possibility the dune being the location of Bluebeard's treasure.  100 pages (approximate)

Key of Light & Key of Knowledge, by Nora Roberts.  The first two books in the Key Trilogy--the third is on my Kindle and ready to go.  Three women, all living and working in the same small town, cross paths and become friends when they are all summoned to a creepy old mansion at the outskirts of town and given a shared quest.  Roberts mixes Celtic lore and contemporary romance with her usual flair, and while parts of the story fall a little flat (fantasy isn't her strongest suit--I prefer her normal contemporary fiction and her future-set Eve Dallas series--your mileage may vary), it's certainly an entertaining read.  Key of Light follows newly jobless art dealer Malory as she finds love and a new life's work in the process of completing her third of the quest.  Key of Knowledge follows shrewd Dana, a librarian whose love of books can't make up for the cut in her hours at the local library, as she mends a heart broken years ago even as she puts the pieces together for her part of the quest.  342 pages, 327 pages

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.  This is a reread for me--one of my very favorite books, and it gets better every single time, especially this last time, as I read the 10th anniversary edition, which is the author's preferred text.  Shadow has just been released after doing three years of prison time, only to find that the life he'd hoped to go back to no longer exists.  Gone are the wife and job he'd left behind.  As he struggles to come to grips with this new, untethered existence, he is offered a new job by Mr. Wednesday (aka Odin), a man he meets on the way to his wife's funeral.  Shadow becomes Mr. Wednesday's errand boy, and so begins his life as a pawn between the Old Gods, brought to America by generations of immigrants, and the New Gods, those of industry and technology, as a war between the two factions grows ever nearer.  Trust me, you really want to read this.  It is slated to become an HBO series (Gaiman has been working on the pilot script this year) and Gaiman has also acknowledged that he is working on a sequel, exploring the world of the New Gods in more detail.  Get ahead of the curve on this one--you know I wouldn't steer you wrong!  541 pages

October totals:
8 titles
2,331 pages

75/75 titles = 100%  Done!  With two months to spare!  I'm going to bump this up to 100 titles next year, for sure.
27,349/35,000 pages = 78%  This one is going to be the real challenge.  Can she do it?  Stay tuned to find out!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Three on Thursday: Creepy Reads

It's hard to believe that Halloween is just a week away--October is zipping by at an alarming rate!  But it's not too late to get in some creepy/scary/spooky reading to get you in the perfect mood for ghouls and goblins. 

Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King.  Fans of The Shining, meet Danny Torrance (again),  now Dan, an adult and a recovering alcoholic with a good bit of the shine left in him.  King is a master at all things scary, but what I was particularly impressed by in this novel was his carefully crafted pacing of the plot, and the deliciously slow build of suspense.  Masterfully done.  You can read my full review here.

The Asylum, by John Harwood.  This is one I'd especially recommend for readers who also like television series like American Horror Story.  Imagine waking up in a small, unfamiliar room and finding out that not only can you not remember the past few weeks, but that you're in an asylum and that the person you think you actually in another county staying with family.  So who are you really?  And how did you get here?  More importantly: how do you get out?  This is Georgina's perilous quest.  Need an added incentive?  Mystery legend Ruth Rendell has praised Harwood for having "a gift for creating suspense, apparently effortlessly, as if it belongs in the nature of fiction."  High praise indeed.

Help for the Haunted, by John Searles.  You can read the review here.  Short version?  Here, one unusual family (they help "haunted souls" find peace) suffers their own tragedy, leaving daughter pitted against daughter as one searches for the truth even as the other tries to bury it, permanently.  Deliciously full of suspense and totally goose-bump inducing!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Can't Keep It To Myself: The Rosie Project

Sometimes, the best things in life are truly unexpected.  Socially awkward Professor Don Tillman, unexpected romantic hero of Graeme Simsion's novel The Rosie Project, however, would beg to differ.  Don, a professor of genetics, has decided it is high time he acquired a wife, and as a scientist, he goes about it in the most rational, logical way possible: he develops a highly detailed questionnaire and hands it out at every opportunity.  Surely, this will be the best possible way to find the perfect wife. 

The Wife Project, however, isn't going so well.  Don has to adjust and refine his survey as he analyzes the data.  Smokers are out, as are vegetarians, drinkers, the non-punctual...  Don's list of non-negotiable unsuitable traits goes on and on.  And then he meets Rosie, who is everything he has determined to be unacceptable in a potential wife.  She is also a match for him intellectually, as well as witty and oddly beguiling.  While she's quickly disqualified as inappropriate for The Wife Project, Don agrees to help Rosie with a project of her own--one to find her biological father.  Their time spent together, of course, is full of surprises, convincing them both to reconsider what is important in life, and in love.

The Rosie Project is the sort of quirky, unconventional romance that restores my faith in humanity--in the goodness of people, in love in the face of adversity.  I would put this on par with Jojo Moyes's Me Before You (which is still madly popular, by the way) on the list of contemporary romances that really tug at the heart strings and make a reader re-examine preconceived notions about ourselves and others.  I really, really loved this book, and I just couldn't keep it to myself.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reading Ahead: November 2013, part 5

 Here we are--the wrap-up of all new releases coming in November.  And I have saved you some very special titles!  All three are guaranteed to be funny and satisfying. 

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, by Fannie Flagg.  Yes, you know the name from books like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and I Still Dream About You.  She's back with a comic mystery about two women who are forced to re imagine who they are.  Sookie has just married off her last daughter and is looking forward to traveling with her husband.  The last thing she must contend with is her larger-than-life mother, Lenore.  While Lenore might be well-loved by others, her daughter finds her downright overshadowing.  Then Sookie stumbles upon a secret that changes everything, sending her out west and then into researching the 1940s as she seeks to unravel her own past.  Ms. Flagg is a sure bet for sweet, witty and inspiring.

The Supreme Macaroni Company, by Adriana Trigiani.  Adriana Trigiani has been making quite a name for herself with readers over the last thirteen years, making the biggest splash with last year's The Shoemaker's Wife.  So her latest, which begins on the eve of a wedding in Greenwich Village, taking readers through New Orleans and on to Tuscany, is sure to be much adored by readers everywhere. 

The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating, by Carole Radziwill.  This author may be unfamiliar, but I don't think that will be the case for very long!  Claire Byrne is a quirky and glamorous Manhattanite who has recently been very famously widowed.  She has spent her marriage with older man Charlie burying her own ambitions in favor of supporting his.  Now, widowed and adrift, Claire resolves to reinvent herself, with a little help from the professionals, even as she grieves for Charlie.  I think this is going to be a knock-out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Reading Ahead: November 2013, part 4

If you're in the market for a new mystery next month, you know by now that I've got you covered.  Whether you're looking for something sharp and witty, something cozy, or perhaps a mystery along more serious lines, I've got something for everyone.

Takedown Twenty, by Janet Evanovich.  Most readers are familiar with this author's name, as well as that of her main protagonist, Stephanie Plum.  (If you're not, you've got some catching up to do!  I suggest starting at the beginning, with One for the Money.)  In this installment, Stephanie is hoping to take down a mob boss.  Unless, of course, he takes her out first.  Evanovich's tales are madcap fun, guaranteed.

No Man’s Nightingale, by Ruth Rendell.  Ruth Rendell is an institution in the mystery genre, her first mystery having been published in 1964.  The main character in that novel (which was titled From Doon with Death--available from the library as an audiobook, if you're interested) was Chief Inspector Wexford, and while his last case was rumored to be in 2009's The Monster in the Box, that was only partially true.  Inspector Wexford is retired, but returns again in No Man's Nightingale

The Missing Dough, by Chris Cavender.  Cavender's Pizza Lover's mystery series (starts with 2009's A Slice of Murder) has been steadily gaining a loyal following.  Eleanor Swift and her sister Maddy own and operate A Slice of Delight, a small-town Southern pizzeria in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Unfortunately, murder also shows up on the menu from time to time, and this time?  It's Maddy's lousy ex-husband Grant.  No one's sad to see him go, but when Maddy becomes the prime suspect, her sister will do everything possible to find the real killer.  

I'll be back Thursday with a few more titles to tickle your fancy.  In the meantime, happy reading!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reading Ahead: November 2013, part 3

Historical fiction is one of my (many) favorite genres to read.  Fact blended with a great story--who could ask for more?  I hope you're with me on this, because November has several great selections to choose from!

Stella Bain, by Anita Shreve.  A story of an amnesiac American WWI nurse, found on a French battlefield and unable to remember anything of the last four months of her life, and the surgeon who takes her in.  From London to America and back again, this is a story of love and the meaning of memory.  I cannot wait. 

Bellman & Black, by Diane Setterfield.  A little ghost story, a little historical, and entirely Setterfield, author of 2006's The Thirteenth Tale.  (FYI, I adored her first novel.  You can read my review here.)  As a youth, William Bellman gets caught up in a moment of boyish competition and commits an act of cruelty.  As he grows up, however, this memory fades until is completely forgotten.  Someone else, however, has remembered all these years, and William is about to get his comeuppance.  This is bound to be spooky and delicious.

The Valley of Amazement, by Amy Tan.  Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club (among others), is finally back from a long break after 2005's Saving Fish From Drowning.  Spanning forty years and two continents, Tan's story takes readers from Chinese villages in remote, mist-shrouded mountains to lavish Shanghai parlors, across the crumbling of the Last Dynasty and the rise of the Republic.  Tan does what she does best--explores the relationships of mothers and daughters, complicated by culture, location and generation gaps.  I am awaiting this with baited breath--Tan is a quiet powerhouse.

Looking for a mystery to sink your teeth into next month?  I've got you covered in next Tuesday's post.  In the meantime, happy reading!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

In Memoriam: Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy, author of numerous best-selling spy-thrillers (many of which also became movie block-busters), died on October 1, 2013.  He was 66.  A Baltimore-born former insurance agent, Clancy made a huge splash in 1984 with his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, later adapted for film starring Sean Connery and Harrison Ford.  Of his 28 books, seventeen hit the New York Times bestsellers list, many reaching the coveted #1 spot.  His writings also spawned several top-selling video game series including Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon.

His final novel, Command Authority, will be released this December.  (The library has ordered multiple copies, which will be available to request shortly.)   Mr. Clancy will be sorely missed by millions of readers world-wide.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reading Ahead: November 2013, part 2

I know, I know.  It's hard to think about November when it's only just the beginning of October.  I really do understand!  I've been ordering Christmas books since this past May!  Yesterday, I was ordering new books which are slated for release in February 2014.  So it could be worse--I could be sharing titles six months ahead!

New Suspense/Thrillers in November:

Silencing Eve, by Iris Johansen (Publication date bumped up to October 1!)

Hostage, by Kay Hooper

Dust, by Patricia Cornwell

Mirage, by Clive Cussler & Jack Du Brul

King and Maxwell, by David Baldacci

White Fire, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Cross My Heart, by James Patterson

I'll be back on Thursday with some more up-and-coming bestsellers.  In the meantime, happy reading!