November 2012 reads

>> Saturday, December 01, 2012

I'm reading so much more since I discovered audiobooks! I haven't ventured onto romance yet, since the idea of love scenes being read out to me doesn't sound appealing, but I was just as doubtful about audiobooks in general, so I'd appreciate some recs. Anyway, all in all, it was an average month. No truly wonderful books, but several solidly good ones. Unfortunately, I did also read a number of bad ones.

1 - Unraveled, by Courtney Milan: B+
review here

Third and last in Milan's Turner series. This one is about the middle brother, Smite, who is a magistrate, wedded to the law and determined to do justice. He falls in love with Miranda Darling, a young woman struggling to survive in the slums of the city. Really, really good and satisfying, with Milan turning situations that looked as if they might be predictable into something truly original and right.

2 - Instruments of Darkness, by Imogen Robertson: B+
review here

Audiobook. Historical mystery, have seen it described as Georgian CSI :) Gabriel Crowther, an anatomist and "natural philosopher", teams up with his neighbour, Mrs. Harriet Westerman, to investigate when the body of a man, with his throat cut, is discovered on her land. Really interesting setting and mystery. Also, this isn't a romance, but the developing friendship between Harriet and Gabriel was really good. I also enjoyed the narrator, Joanna Mackie.

3 - In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson: B+
original review here

Audiobook. Also published as Down Under. Travel book, Bill Bryson visits Australia. One of his best, in my opinion. It's not just that his subject matter is interesting, it's his hilarious, self-deprecating voice. Best of all, since his humour is not based on meanness, the fact that he really likes Australia, and says so, doesn't make this any less funny. The narration was by Bryson himself, and it was great.

4 - Canyons of Night, by Jayne Castle: B
review coming soon

Do I even need to describe the plot? Main characters with extra special paranormal powers, which make them misfits in the romantic department, some sort of mysterious weapon everyone is after, romance, etc. That said, this had a bit of a vintage JAK feel to the romance, and less paranormal crap than previous ones, so I quite enjoyed it. And I still love those dust-bunnies!

5 - Agatha Raisin & the Quiche of Death, by MC Beaton: B
review here

Audiobook. The first in a long-running mystery series. Agatha, a self-made career woman decides to sell her successful PR business and retire to a small village in the Cotswolds. In an attempt to fit into the life of the village, she enters a quiche into a competition. And then one of the judges dies poisoned by it. Everyone thinks it's an accident, but not Agatha. Charming, Agatha is priceless. She even reminds me of one of my favourite characters ever, Amelia Peabody. Penelope Keith's narration was great.

6 - Body Heat, by Susan Fox: B-
review coming soon

Maura is a staid accountant at a retirement home, Jesse is a motorcycle-riding, leather jacket-wearing bad boy who's ordered to do community service there (for a completely commendable crime, of course). Maura can be a bit annoying and I didn't quite believe her character, but she grew on me, and Jesse was great. In the end, it was a fun, sexy read, the second half especially.

7 - The Haunting of Maddie Clare, by Simone St. James: C+
review coming soon

It's 1922 and Sarah Piper is hired by a handsome young man to be his temporary assistant. He's investigating a ghost, that of a young serving girl who's said to haunt a barn, and he needs a woman since the ghost is supposed to hate men. Succeeds in being nice and creepy, but in the end, I felt a bit let down. The whole thing didn't feel completely satisfying, both the resolution and the way the investigation proceeded.

8 - Dead Man's Folly, by Agatha Christie: C+
review coming soon

Audiobook. The star event at the Nass House fĂȘte is a "murder hunt". Participants must follow clues to find the body, played by a young volunteer. Only it turns out the body is really dead, and the lady of the house has disappeared. Hercule Poirot, there at the invitation of a crime writer friend, who wrote the script of the murder hunt, investigates. Not awful, but definitely not Christie's best. The solution came out of left field a bit, and stretched credulity. Also, the narration was disappointing. David Suchet may be a great Poirot on the telly, but his narration was over-the-top and annoying.

9 - Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman: C
review here

Urban fantasy, read for my book club. A random act of kidness plunges Richard Mayhew into a world alternate to his modern London, that of the London Below. I know already that I have issues with the urban fantasy subgenre. There's something about the griminess of it, and how it's so often about political infighting, that doesn't appeal to me. This didn't change my mind about it. I can recognise it's a good example of the genre, but I didn't enjoy it.

10 - The Second Seduction of a Lady, by Miranda Neville: C-
review here

Historical novella, setting up an upcoming series. Five years earlier, Max and Eleanor fell in love, but she dumped him when she found out he'd only approached her because of a wager. Of course, Max really had fallen in love with her. I liked the idea of the set-up, but in the end, just found this boring.

11 - Night Echoes, by Holly Lisle: C-
review coming soon

The heroine buys a house that she falls in love with at first sight, in the town her birth mother was from. And then she meets a man she has just as strong a reaction to. The paranormal element is nice and creepy, and the romance ok, but the ending is extremely disappointing and over-the-top, and ends things on a sour note.

12 - Exclusively Yours, by Shannon Stacey: D
review here

Such a disappointment! I've heard so much about the Kowalskis that I couldn't wait to try one, but I really disliked this book. The basic story is about two former high school sweethearts coming together again after 20 years. The writing and humour didn't work for me at all, and most of all, I found the book's sensibility really unappealing.

13 - The Body In The Library, by Agatha Christie: D
review coming soon

Audiobook. Colonel and Dolly Bantry wake up one morning to the news that the body of an unknown young woman has been discovered in their library. Dolly's first response? To call Miss Marple. Ingenious solution, but the mysogyny and class snobbery are so extreme here that I found pretty much every character completely hateful.

14 - A Perfect Evil, by Alex Kava: DNF
review here

Audiobook. When a little boy is killed just as the victims of a serial killer who operated in the area some years earlier, the cops are spooked, especially because the serial killer was executed quite recently. Maggie O'Dell, an FBI profiler, is called in to assist. I gave up halfway through, as I thought the both main characters and the rest of the police were remarkably inept, and it frustrated me.

15 - What Matters in Jane Austen? Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved, by John Mullan: still reading
review coming soon

21 chapters, each looking into a particular issue. Some of them look at an aspect of Austen's writing, some of them look at what her writing tells us about a certain topic. Mullan's thesis is that by looking at the detail of what Austen does, you can appreciate her brilliance. Really interesting so far.


Lynn,  2 December 2012 at 03:37  

Try the Amelia Peabody mysteries but only with Barbara Rosenblat as the narator. Try John Sandford's Virgil Flowers novels or Linda Fairstein's novels. On the romance side I like Karen Rose's books in the audio format. Susan Elizabeth Philips's books read by Anna Fields are great) (she is greatly missed as a narator. I also recently have liked Julie James' books on audio. If you get into reading more romance try Linda Howard's Kill & Tell or After Midnight.

Rosario 2 December 2012 at 06:41  

Cheers, Lynn! My first audiobook was one of Rosenblat's Amelia Peabody books, and I loved them. Looks like my library has a fair few of Linda Fairsteins, and one of SEP's latest. Karen Rose is also a good idea, I'm going to give that a shot, and we'll see how it goes!

Frannie,  3 December 2012 at 00:12  

I agree about not listeming to romance on audio book - it makes me really uncomfortable, even though I'm an avid romance reader. But I've been listening to a number of mystery series -- Karin Slaughter's Georgia and Will Trent series, and Julia Spencer Fleming's Claire Ferguson series. The books are excellent and the narrators are terrific.

Rosario 3 December 2012 at 06:50  

Thanks for the suggestions, Frannie. Yes, mysteries have been working really well for me as well, whether they're cosy or on the gory side. General fiction, too.

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