May 2014 reads

>> Monday, June 02, 2014

I didn't do much reading this month, but for very nice reasons. Early on I had one of my favourite cousins visiting for a week. As many of you know, I only get go to Uruguay to see family once a year, so it's lovely to have visitors to make the 11 months in between seem shorter.

And then on the 20th I went on holiday to Tuscany. My friend and I had a few days to mooch around on our own (Lucca was a particular highlight), and then we joined a "wine and walking" tour, which was fabulous. We were based in a little village in the Chianti area and did different things each day. There were visits to a few towns (the photo here is of Siena), and a hell of a lot of walking and wine. We're talking 15-20+ km (9-13 miles, if I'm doing the maths right) walks in extremely hilly and gorgeous terrains, and every day wine tastings, wine courses, vineyard tours, plus a chance to apply our newly acquired knowledge when selecting a bottle for dinner! And oh, yes, also mounds of pasta and scoop after scoop of the most amazing gelato (my favourite: gorgonzola and walnut + pistachio from a little shop in the Santa Croce area in Florence).

So yeah, reading (and my sensible diet) were left by the wayside, but I didn't care too much. My only regret is that I lost my 1-a-week rythm with The Kraken King, and I'm now a couple of installments behind. The last comes out tomorrow, so I could binge on the last 3 together, but I think I'm going to try not to ruin a good thing and still leave a gap between parts. Maybe not quite 7 days, but at least a few days.

1 - The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison: A+
review coming soon

Fantasy, about a young half-goblin, half-elf who unexpectedly inherits the elflands throne. There's lots about the ins and outs of being an innocent in a treacherous court, but this is mainly character-driven, and I adored it. I don't give A+ grades lightly, but my instinct is that this is one of them. I'll see how I feel after writing my full review.

2 - The Kraken King Part IV: The Kraken King and the Inevitable Abduction and The Kraken King Part V: The Kraken King and the Iron Heart: so far hovering around A-/A
reviews coming soon

The action gets really going here, and the romance keeps moving forward just as much. I'm loving this.

3 - Cetaganda, by Lois McMaster Bujold: B+
review coming soon

Miles and his cousin Ivan are sent to Cetaganda to represent Barrayar in a state funeral and manage to get involved in some very risky business. Miles is as brilliant as ever, but as much as the strange Cetagandans and their world are imaginative and interesting, they never made complete sense to me, not as Barrayar and Beta Colony do.

4 - I Wouldn't Start From Here, by Andrew Mueller: B+
review coming soon

Subtitled "The 21st Century and Where It All Went Wrong". Mueller is a journalist and this is an edited collection of articles about his visits to all sorts of places, mainly conflict-plagued ones. I enjoyed it. The writing is good, and what he has to say tends to be refreshingly non-trite.

5 - The Shock of the Fall, by Nathan Filer: B
review coming soon

Read for my May book club. It's written from the point of view of a young man living with schizophrenia. It's a point of view that I don't think I've ever read, and I'm glad I did. I must admit I was kind of dreading reading it, but even though I was very moved several times, the humour with which it was written meant it wasn't as harrowing as I'd imagined.

6 - To Charm a Naughty Countess, by Theresa Romain: C
review coming soon

The hero, a duke rumoured to be mad, is obliged to travel to London from his remote estate, in order to find himself a rich bride. The heroine, a rich widow, refuses his proposal but offers to help him find a bride. I liked the idea of the book, but not the execution.

7 - Freaks, by Tess Gerritsen: C-
review coming soon

Freebie short story; really short, more like a vignette, actually. Two kids who've convinced themselves they are vampires, one of them dies and the other is accused of her murder. Jane and Maura investigate. Meh. A bit pointless, really.

8 - Tinsel My Heart, by Christi Barth: DNF
review coming soon

Christmas short story (yes, I'm late, so?) with an amateur theatrics setting. It sounded interesting, but the characters' reactions were over-the-top and unbelievable, and I found it all extremely annoying.

9 - Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: still listening
review coming soon

This one's for my June book group, but I started early because I'm listening to the audiobook and it's a longish one. It's about a woman who decides to move back to Nigeria after many years living in the US. I'm about a quarter of the way in and really liking it. There are so many things about Ifemelu's experience that resonate with me, especially around privilege and race and how moving to a country where you go from majority to minority can mess with it massively.

10 - Hidden Riches, by Nora Roberts: still reading
original review here

Reread of one of my favourite Nora Roberts single titles. Dora Conroy, who owns an antiques/curio shop unwittingly purchases some stock in an auction which is not what it seems. An unscrupulous businessman was using the pretty mundane objects to smuggle in priceless objets d'art, but the shipment got mixed up with stuff bound for an auction house. The businessman sends his henchman to recover them, and the man's initial, more subtle attempts get increasingly violent as he fails to find the last item. It doesn't help him that Dora's new neighbour, Jed Skimmerhorn, is a former cop.

 I'm enjoying this very much. Dora is an endearing mix of eccentric and practical, and she stands up to every single bit of Jed's crap. Her family, most of whom are actors, are a hoot. Jed I'm finding a bit less distinct (strong man tortured both by an unhappy childhood growing up in a very dysfunctional rich family and by a recent episode in his police career), but I'm liking how Dora completely discombobulates him.

 The level of violence and the amount of time in the villain's head are maybe a bit much for the tone of the romance (although things are getting a bit darker now that I'm about halfway through), but on the whole, Hidden Riches is living up to my memories. I can't believe it's already 20 years old; it's aged very well.


Darlynne,  3 June 2014 at 17:00  

Welcome back. Your trip sounds wonderful. Looking forward to your next reviews.

Rosario 5 June 2014 at 07:10  

Thanks, Darlynne! Got a few on their way!

Marianne McA,  6 June 2014 at 16:59  

I bought The Goblin Emperor on the strength of your A+, and really enjoyed it.
My only quibble is that I only discovered the pronunciation guide after I finished the ebook - I could have used finding it earlier.

But a great read. Thanks for recommending it.

Rosario 7 June 2014 at 07:23  

Marianne: Oh, brilliant, I'm glad the rec worked for you. I just finished writing my review yesterday (will post in the next few days), and I did end up going with an A+.

I didn't mind the pronunciation so much, but I did have to do a kindle search a couple of times, trying to figure out who someone was. The list of characters might have come in handy. I actually considered doing a DIY one, but it would have been a bit ridiculous!

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