December 2012 reads

>> Tuesday, January 01, 2013

I've been having some relatively mediocre months lately, but December was just fantastic. I read more than I have in years, and there were some brilliant, brilliant books. I don't think I've had so many A books in a month for ages!

1 - The Firebird, by Susanna Kearsley: A-
review coming soon

 Nicola's psychometry tells her a small sculpture of a firebird is authentic, but she needs tangible proof in order to help the owner. She appeals to a friend with even stronger powers: my beloved Robbie, from The Shadowy Horses, all grown up! Beautiful, evocative story, also with ties to The Winter Sea. I loved it. It comes out in a couple of weeks here in the UK, but unfortunately, those of you in North America will have to wait a bit longer.

2 - The Duchess War, by Courtney Milan: A-
review coming soon

 A duke who happens to be one of the most politically radical characters I've ever read in a romance novel, a heroine with secrets which threaten to be revealed by the duke's activities. Great romance, with wonderfully individual characters who fit together perfectly.

3 - Restraint, by Charlotte Stein: A-
review here

 Very short, but packs a punch. Mallory has always thought Artie hates her and is put off by her outrageousness, but she discovers that's not quite the case. Plenty of steaminess, but also genuine romance and raw emotion, and Stein has a very distinctive voice that I really loved.

4 - Suddenly You, by Sarah Mayberry: A-
review coming soon

 The hero decides to help out his mate's ex, who was left high and dry by said mate when she became pregnant and decided to have the baby. But spending time together leads to some truly toe-curling attraction. Lovely, lovely romance, sweet and hot and with as much humour as it's got angst.

5 - Easy, by Tammara Webber: A-
review here

 Audiobook. My first New Adult, hero and heroine in university. Really liked it, it's got loads of emotion and romance, but also a very female-positive message. It would probably have been my favourite book ever if I'd read it in my late teens/early 20s.

6 - Demon Bound, by Meljean Brook: A-
original review here:

Part of my Guardians reread. Puppy-dog Jake and creepy Alice are a fantastic couple, and there are some fantastic revelations. Love it!

7 - Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes: B+
review coming soon

 Audiobook. Young woman takes a job as a carer for a quadraplegic man, and their relationship changes the lives of both. Very emotional book, but in an honest, completely non-manipulative and non-maudlin way. Really good.

8 - They Came To Baghdad, by Agatha Christie: B+
review coming soon

 Audiobook. Plucky heroine travels to Baghdad, chasing after a man, and gets accidentally embroiled in an international conspiracy. This is Christie doing a spy caper, rather than a traditional mystery, and it's good fun, with a really cool, plucky heroine. Plus, great setting!

9 - The Mephisto Club, by Tess Gerritsen: B+
review coming soon

Audiobook. After a body is found horribly dismembered, with evidence suggesting a Satanic ritual, Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles come across the Mephisto Club, a group of well-heeled intellectuals who say they study evil. Some of it was a bit much, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

10 -Shattered Silk, by Barbara Michaels: B+
review coming soon

Reread of one of my fave Michaels. Karen has just been left by her husband and her self-esteem has taken a big hit. Going back to her aunt's in Georgetown, she starts to live her life again, including setting up a business, dealing in vintage clothes. Atmospheric, with excellently drawn characters and a really cool plot.

11 - Grease Monkey Jive, by Ainsley Paton: B
review here

 A player hero who wants to reform, a dance teacher heroine, and a ballroom dancing competition. Really nice, gradual, and completely believable romance, and a book that felt fresh. Unfortunately, it also felt a bit bloated and in need of editing.

12 - The Rescue Man, by Anthony Quinn: B
review coming soon

 Set in Liverpool at the start of WWII and in the 1860s. The main character is a man fascinated by the city's architecture, who becomes a "rescue man", helping save people from collapsed buildings once the German bombing starts. He also becomes interested in a revolutionary architect from the previous century. A big part of my interest was because it's set where I live and the setting is really vivid, but it's a good story, too.

13 - The Crossing Places, by Elly Griffiths: B
review here

Audiobook, 1st in series featuring forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway. Brought in by the police to help with bones just discovered, she gets involved in a child disappearance case. Interesting case and great sense of place (the Norfolk salt marshes). The personal stuff kept my attention, but felt a bit sordid.

14 - Unmasking Maya, by Libby Mercer: C+
review coming soon

Maya is an artist, starting anew in San Francisco after her high-flying career in New York was destroyed. She's commissioned to create some art for a software millionaire, who turns out not to be the weedy nerd she was expecting. It's got a nice sense of place and I liked Mercer's voice, but the plot felt unfocused, with thread after thread popping up and then never going anywhere, and the romance wasn't developed enough.

15 - No Strings Attached, by Bridget Gray: C+
review here

The heroine saved the hero's life during the Asian tsunami, but when they meet again, he doesn't remember her. Not wanting him to feel he owes her, when they've just started dating, she doesn't tell him. Meh. The execution felt a bit off. Plus, we get 3 different romances in a shortish book, and all feel underbaked.

16 - A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens: C+
review here

Audiobook. Read for my book club. It's a good story, but I just cannot stand Victorian sentimentality, so I didn't particularly enjoy it. Jim Dale's narration was really good, though.

17 - Gallows View, by Peter Robinson: DNF
review coming soon

Audiobook. Mystery set in a Yorkshire village in the late 80s, starts a series featuring Inspector Banks, who's just moved up North from London. The case(s) involve(s) a peeping Tom and a series of muggings, and I was hoping for a good connection between all the strands. Interesting plot, but the sexual politics were so dated and appalling that I had to stop reading it.

18 - Leave Me Breathless, by Cherrie Lynn: DNF
review here

Opposites attract-type erotic romance. Macy is an all-country riding instructor, Seth is an all-heavy metal tattoo artist. The characters didn't appeal to me, and the first third or so that I read is sex scene after sex scene, and those didn't really appeal, either.

19 - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith: DNF
review coming soon

Everyone seems to love this series, about Precious Ramotswe, and her detective agency in Botswana, but I couldn't get into it. Possibly McCall Smith's writing, I've liked other books of his, but he does a faux-folksy voice here that just annoyed me.

20 - Demon Forged: still reading
original review here:

Only just started it, but enjoying it as much as I did the first time around!


Barb in Maryland 1 January 2013 at 16:17  

That's it--flaunt the new Kearsley in front of your readers. I'm (obviously) in the US, so I have to wait eons for it.
Seriously, I am so happy you loved it; it gives me something to look forward to.

Rosario 2 January 2013 at 06:21  

LOL, sorry, I do feel guilty about it! It really is one to look forward to. I do suggest you reread The Winter Sea if it's been a while, though, so maybe something to do in the meantime? :)

Darlynne,  3 January 2013 at 15:43  

I saw that Robbie was going to be in Firebird, didn't realize the other connection. Something good to look forward to.

The No. 1 Ladies worked really well as an audio book. The narrator had a lovely, lyrical voice that seemed to suit Ma Ramotswe.

I'll be interested to read your take on The Crossing Places. The personal stuff is problematic for some readers and I'm not sure where the author is going with it ultimately. It certainly keeps a level of tension throughout the other books, but I just don't see how it can end well.

Looking forward to all the reviews. Thanks.

Rosario 4 January 2013 at 06:53  

Darlynne: I knew there was going to be some connection with The Winter Sea, but didn't realise it was quite that strong. I had to go back and remind myself of the exact ending!

I actually quite liked the narrator in the audiobook I listened to. Her voice and tone were perfectly suited to the character and writing, it's McCall Smith's voice that didn't quite work for me!

I see you've found the Crossing Places review now :)

Christine,  25 January 2013 at 20:01  

Words cannot express my envy over your already possessing "The Firebird". I am already scheming of a way to trick Amazon UK into selling me the kindle version here in the US once it releases this month. It would be cruel to make me wait another 6 months or so to read it as "The Shadowy Horses" is my #1 favorite Kearsley book (as my ragged original paperback attests). I'm really looking forward to seeing Robbie as an adult and hero of his own story. Are there any references to any of the people in "Shadowy Horses" in this one? Even just a throwaway mention? Thanks! Christine

Rosario 26 January 2013 at 08:02  

Christine: Well, I'm in the UK, so email me and I'm sure we can sort something out. You will love it. Robbie turns into a fantastic hero, and all I can say is, we spend a bit of time in Eyemouth!

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