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everydayjam

everydayjam

Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert I had the audio version of this title, read by the author, and her voice and tone were kept so low and quiet, I couldn't hear it, even with my player set to the highest volume. I ended up feeling like she was trying too hard to sound "mindful".
War Brides - Helen Bryan Interesting, if thin, story. I never really felt the bonds between the women - why did they care about one another, beyond that fact that they were all stuck in the same little town during the war? Or, did they, really, care about one another? Maybe it was all just proximity and convenience, I couldn't tell. The strengths of the book, to my mind, lie more in the historical details than in the story, itself. The idea of a street urchin counterfeiter becoming a Lord because his talents were useful during the war, and then turned to good use after; the "Auxi" service; the continental connections between the upper classes and their Continental counterparts leading to...divisions of loyalty; the machinations of trying to get Jewish children safely out of Nazi hands - those things were all fascinating. The story, itself, less so. And, while I understand that the mystery of Frances was, naturally, sudden and inexplicable, it didn't really require such a rushed and cliched ending.
Baker's Apprentice - Judith R. Hendricks I almost quite this book half way through, so I could make up my own ending. I was pretty sure I knew how it was going to end (and I was right) and it wasn't what I wanted to read. Instead of following the romance plot cliche, I was really hoping the resolution would be about Wynter's growth rather than Wynter's ability to stand by her man while *he* grows. I wanted a story about a woman realising that it's better to actively find what you need than to passively hope someone will become what you need. I guess I wanted Wynter's redemption, not Mac's.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan Wonderful!
The Gamal - CiarĂ¡n Collins I just couldn't get into this one. I felt like I was reading in circles, which seemed to be the author's intention. Presumably, the narrator had some sort of mental health issue, or was somewhere on the autistic spectrum, or both, but nothing hooked me into the story so the book came due at the library before I finished, and I wasn't interested enough to renew.
A Life of One's Own - Marion Milner, Joanna Field Not as compelling as the first time I read it. That says more about me than about the book, though. I'm at a different place in my life, and not as able to relate as when I was younger.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman Lovely little story that left me slightly disquieted, thinking of my own childhood not-quite-memories.
Kill City Blues - Richard Kadrey Over too soon!

14

14 - Peter Clines Interesting, fun, great characters, and full of SF geek-treats...or Scooby snacks, if you prefer.

Staying True: A Contemporary Romance Novel

Staying True - Suzie Carr I'm not a romance reader. Let me get that out of the way right up front. Sure, I enjoy the occasional historical, but contemporary romance, meh. Mostly, the stories are rather trite and predictable, and there's way too many pages of sex (which I have nothing against, but it's really kind of a "you had to be there" thing, isn't it?) But, it was free to borrow on Kindle, so I had nothing to lose by giving something new a try.

I'm so glad I did! The story is well plotted, and doesn't fall into the usual "romantic ingenue falls for the jaded ("My former partner broke my heart so badly, nothing in this world could ever make me whole, again!") bad boy/girl rut. The characters are likable, relatable, and face genuine problems with a reasonable amount of grace and intelligence. Even the secondary characters are well-done, and came to life in my imagination. There was very little pining or whining, and quite a lot of emotional intelligence on display. In my opinion, those are good and rare qualities in romance fiction!

On top of those stylistic qualities, the writing flowed really nicely. Sometimes, especially with new novelists, the writing is stilted and awkward, but not here. I did have a few quibbles with the editing -- some language use issues that should have been edited out, to be specific. They were enough to knock me out of "willing suspension of disbelief" mode, but not enough to make me not want to continue reading. If she continues to write (and I hope she does,) a more "technical" editor might help her recognize and avoid those little mistakes that irritate picky readers like me. Or not! Goodness knows, if Laurell K. Hamilton can make a fortune without fixing her language use issues, other people can, too!

Edited to add: Oh, nice! I just looked at Ms. Carr's page and realised she has a number of other titles to be read. Yay!
The Sisterhood - Helen Bryan When I started this one, I had no idea what it was about. A chapter or two in, I though, "Oh, joy, another re-fictionalization of Holy Blood, Holy Grail!" and almost put it down. Instead, I decided to give it another chapter or two, since I'd just gotten to the first of the medieval sections, and I'm really glad I did. Yes, yes, it is, broadly speaking, another re-fictionalization of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, or at least in that genre, but it quickly diverges from that track and goes in a somewhat different, and more interesting direction. For one thing, it's a women's story when, even though Mary Magdalene (who, thankfully, does not appear in this novel in any form) is central to their plots, most of the others in this vein (I'm looking at you, Dan Brown) are distinctly men's stories. Additionally, excepting a few scenes from the central gospel upon which the story hinges, there is very little of the supernatural on display -- it's quite believable, even if one discounts The Hand of God as an invisible character. Most of the story could simply have...just happened. There's a small, polite nod to the international intrigue trope that is the meat of most HB/HG progeny, but it's kept peripheral, letting the real story, the lives of the women (and men) doing good work in the world, shine!
The Guns of August - Barbara W. Tuchman, Robert K. Massie Wow. Who'd have thought the first world war would be so fascinating! Barbara Tuchman is such a fabulous writer, she could make paint drying fascinating, so WWI must have been a breeze.

Rest for the Wicked

Rest for the Wicked - Ellen Hart This was OK. I wanted to like it more, but...it was just OK. Two things took it from three to two stars: Jane's assumptions about what the killer would look like were based purely on prejudice, and nothing was said to indicate that she realised that, when things turned out differently than expected, and I felt absolutely NO chemistry between Jane and her new girlfriend. None. I have no idea why Jane decided she was falling in love with the woman, or vice versa, because both of them were cut out of cardboard and had their faces drawn on with crayon.
Landing - Emma Donoghue I stopped reading when it became clear there was going to be a happy (sappy) ending. The two main characters were each boring, annoying, and drama-prone in their own special way, and I couldn't stand either one of them. They had absolutely nothing in common except their reciprocal disdain for the other's lifestyle. They whined their way through 9 months (and 15 nights) of excruciating long-distance relationship, until I was honestly hoping Ms. Donoghue would do them both (and me) a kindness and have them go their separate ways. Really. Everyone would be much happier, that way.

Beyond that, was there ever a time when people started every paragraph of an email with "re:"? Does a woman with an IQ that allows bipedalism ride on the back of a motorcycle with her long-enough-to-sit-on hair streaming out behind her? (Has she never heard of Isadora Duncan?) There were one or two other screaming bits of stupidity, but I've blocked them out, now, thank goodness.
The Burnt House - Faye Kellerman Felt like Faye was calling it in, on this one.
The Alchemist's Daughter - Katharine McMahon I liked it...but I didn't LIKE it, like it. The characters were a bit to one dimensional to be really engaging, and the plot a bit predictable. That said, the way the author weaves the alchemy into both the surface story -- Emilie's activities, and into the psychological story -- Emilie's development, were really enjoyable. From reading other reviews, it seems that many of the people who didn't like the book were not picking up on the multiple layers of alchemical process. I think, perhaps, it was a bit too subtly done, and I say that as a neutral comment, not a compliment or a criticism.

There are some books that I would recommend to anyone standing still long enough for me to say, "You've got to read this!" This is not one of those books. I would definitely recommend it, but only to a certain sort of reader.