July 2014 reads

>> Friday, August 01, 2014

This month I just couldn't stop reading. Some very, very good stuff here, plus a very unexpected disappointment.

1 - Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King: A-
review here

Audiobook. Retired detective plays a game of cat and mouse with a mass killer, whose case was one of the last he investigated. I really enjoyed it. It's tense and surprising and full of interesting characters. Very good narration, too.

2 - Close Enough to Touch, by Victoria Dahl: B+
review coming soon

A prickly heroine and a cowboy hero who can't resist her. Dahl's contemporaries always click with me, and this was vintage stuff. Great.

3 - Bellwether, by Connie Willis: B+
review coming soon

Audiobook. A social scientist investigating how fads are created teams up with a chaos scientist, and the result is a extremely clever, surprisingly hilarious book. Loved it.

4 - The Countess Conspiracy, by Courtney Milan: B+
review coming soon

The heroine is a scientist engaged in particularly scandalous research. The hero, a childhood friend, has been helping her by acting as her front: pretending it's all his research, and taking the flack of public outrage. I liked this very much, but it didn't resonate emotionally with me quite as much as previous books by this author.

5 - The Martian, by Andy Weir: B+
review here

Audiobook. An astronaut is accidentally abandoned on Mars, and must fight to stay alive. A tense, gripping, extremely funny read. The narrator was fantastic, and I loved the problem-solving. The audio narration was great, too.

6 - Honor's Knight, by Rachel Bach: B+
review coming soon

Second in the trilogy, right after Fortune's Pawn (see below). The story continues, and we find out quite a bit about the many secrets of this world. Middle books in a trilogy are often a bit uneventful, but this one definitely wasn't!

7 - Fortune's Pawn, by Rachel Bach: B
review here

Sci-fi with a truly fabulous heroine who's a tough, no-nonsense mercenary. Loads of secrets still to discover in the rest of the trilogy. Only negative: nothing is resolved here and it ends with a cliffhanger. You really need to continue reading to get any sort of satisfaction.

8 - It Happened One Wedding, by Julie James: B
review coming soon

She's looking to settle down, he's a player. Her sister and his brother are getting married, and the proximity makes it difficult to resist the attraction. It was a fun read, but I found the heroine depicted as a bit too perfect (she did not need to change anything).

9 - Sworn To Silence, by Linda Castillo: B-
review here

Audiobook. Starts a series centred on Kate Burkholder, the formerly Amish chief of police in a small Ohio town. This first book has a serial killer plot. I had a lot of issues with it but found it absorbing, and will continue to read the series.

10 - A Very Long Engagement, by Sebastién Japrisot: B-
review coming soon

Late in WWI, five French soldiers are pushed onto No Man's Land in between their trenches and the German positions. It's punishment for injuring their hands, in an effort to be sent away from the trenches. Some years later, the fiancée of one of them receives news that makes her think that there might be more to the episode. Several elements in this book I should have enjoyed more than I did. The writing style didn't click with me.

11 - Strong Enough To Love, by Victoria Dahl: C
review coming soon

Short story, telling the story of a secondary character from Close Enough To Touch. It could have been interesting, but it felt very underdeveloped.

12 - Ethan of Athos, by Lois McMaster Bujold: C-
review coming soon

Spinoff from the Vorkosigan series, featuring Elli Quinn as one of the main characters (readers of the series might remember her as the mercenary who got her face blown off in the first Miles book). Elli teams up from the titular Ethan. Athos, where he's from, is a planet of only men, and he's on a mission to acquire genetic material to continue their repopulation practices. There were concepts here I was very uncomfortable with and I didn't buy Ethan as a character.

13 - Hubble Bubble, by Jane Lovering: DNF
review here

A bit of a madcap romance/chick-lit book, with involuntary witchcraft and a mysterious hero. The humour and authorial voice really didn't work for me, so I abandoned it at about the half-way point.

14 - The Blazing World, by Siri Hustvedt: still reading
review coming soon

I'm planning to read the Man Booker shortlist again this year. The longlist was just announced, and The Blazing World was the one I found most intriguing and chose to start with. It's about a woman artist who decides to create a number of male fronts for her work. Her story is presented as a collection of all sorts of material gathered together after her death, from diaries to interviews with people who knew her. Interesting so far.

15 - Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen: still listening
review coming soon

I've reread this one often, but not for the past few years. I'm listening to the audiobook and loving it.

16 - Heaven's Queen, by Rachel Bach: still reading
review coming soon

Last in the trilogy (see above). It's been ages since I've read all 3 books in a trilogy back to back, but this one requires it. I'm about halfway through and enjoying it.


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