Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What I've Been Reading: September 2016

Well folks, summer is over, but my reading momentum is still screaming along here. I'm interested to see what happens when I run out of Robyn Carr books (anyone have any suggestions?), because I'm coming mighty close. These 2-3 day reads are great little escapes between some of the more substantial tomes! That said, I think I may need a break from series for a little bit--all but one of my reads this month were part of a series, and I think I may have hit my limit!

The English Spy, by Daniel Silva. This was selected by my book club by popular request as our October book, and I have to say, this wasn't easy. First, it's the 15th in a long-running series, so there is a significant cast of characters who have mostly been introduced and developed in past novels. That was a challenge, though I was intrigued enough that I may yet go back and start at the beginning. Second, I'm not sure how this thriller will hold up to an hour of discussion, regardless of the IRA, Belfast bombings, and other political events there are in the backdrop--this isn't our usual fair, and while we've tried some thrillers and suspense in the past, they don't always lend themselves to great discussion. (To be fair, there are some that have, like Gone Girl and Defending Jacob, though they are more suspense than thriller.) In any case, this follows art-restorer-turned-assassin/spy Gabriel Allon on a mission to solve the murder of a beloved British princess, only to find himself in the crosshairs of the assassin in a very personal, very messy cat-and-mouse game that takes Allon all over Europe in pursuit of his quarry. I loved the spy aspects, but felt more than a little lost at times, since I haven't read other books in the series. Yet.

White Fire, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. Lucky thirteen in Preston & Child's FBI Special Agent Pendergast series finds our hero at loose ends, recuperating after the events of Two Graves. That is, until his young protegee Corrie Swanson (introduced in book 4, Still Life With Crows) contacts him after getting herself into some trouble with the law in a Colorado resort town, where she had hoped to do some research pertaining to her thesis--she had discovered that the 150 year old exhumed remains of miners thought to have been killed by a man-eating grizzly were in fact cannibalized. This fact, moreso even than an arsonist on the rampage in the small town, threatens the town's very existence, throwing Pendergast and Corrie into a maelstrom of peril. Fascinating, riveting, I can never get enough.

Harvest Moon, Bring Me Home For Christmas, Hidden Summit, Redwood Bend, Just Over the Mountain, & Down by the River, all by Robyn Carr. I know, I know. The first four titles are all from Carr's Virgin River series, while the last two are the second and third in her Grace Valley trilogy. The trilogy, I have to say, shows its age a bit, as it was published about fifteen years ago, though it was certainly a delightful portrayal of small town life in northern California. The Virgin River novels can be a little hit and miss individually, but all blend together rather nicely as part of a whole. I have been deeply grateful for the brain candy they've provided me in the recent months!

Apprentice in Death, by J.D. Robb. This is, if you can believe it, the 43rd installment in Robb/Roberts's NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas futuristic cop series. And while the main plot (a former sniper and his murderous protege out for blood on a revenge mission with an alarming body count and a steep escalation) hangs together very well in this outing, the writing has, I have to say, really started to suffer. The style of these novels has become very abrupt and almost jarring in places. The compelling plot and familiar characters definitely drive the novel forward, but without the solid footing of having read (almost all of) the previous books in the series, a reader could potentially find this off-putting. Here's to hoping that deadlines and editors allow for a smoother-reading novel next time.

You'll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein. What's this? A memoir? In my list? Crazy talk! Klein, a comedian who has written for shows like Saturday Night Live, Inside Amy Schumer, and Transparent, here recounts with candid insight and hilarious wit, her experiences as a tomboy and late bloomer. Likening her experiences trying to navigate feminine ideals to that of a wolf attempting to be a poodle, Klein shares stories both funny and poignant, all of them infinitely relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, I wished it were longer.

For those keeping track, I'm at 69 books for 2016 so far. I think this might be the year I actually hit 100. Stay tuned to find out!

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