cyphomandra: (balcony)
Books read, May.

Sherry Thomas, A Study in Scarlet Women
Agatha Christie, They do it with mirrors
Heidi Cullinan, Dance with me
KJ Charles, An Unseen Attraction
Agatha Christie, The Body in the Library
Agatha Christie, A Pocketful of Rye
Agatha Christie, 4.50 from Paddington
Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie, The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
Ada Palmer, Seven Surrenders
Kameron Hurley, The Stars are Legion
Agatha Christie, A Caribbean Mystery
Cat Sebastian, The Lawrence Brown Affair

Romances first. )

Science fiction. )

Agatha Christies. )
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
March. I don't have an overall favourite for this month but Here If You Need Me is probably the one I am most likely to recommend to people.

Gwen Hayes, Romancing the Beat. Basics of story structure for romances with lots of gratuitous 80s music references. Cheerfully useful.

Kate Braestrup, Here If You Need Me. Memoir. I got this as a rec somewhere on Dreamwidth and it is not the sort of book I would have otherwise picked up; the author is a chaplain for the Maine search and rescue service, a combination of job and calling that the author only came to after the sudden death of her state trooper husband. It's a book about grief, family, and God, as well as What Not To Do in the Outdoors, and I really enjoyed it - despite being an atheist I quite like reading about religious faith, although so often anything written post 1920 or so isn't worth it (I flatted with a fundamentalist Christian for a while. Most of her books were appalling, either of the straight out "demons cause schizophrenia and allergies" or the more deceptive "hey, let's ask all these big questions about the universe and coincidentally come up with a very specific set of answers that just happen to fit within a very specific narrow worldview" of her Alpha course text. I did quite like Philip Yancy's What's So Amazing About Grace.)

Martine Bailey, An Appetite for Violets. Historical; Biddy, an undercook at a stately home who has picked out her husband and her future, is caught up in the schemes of nobility, which nvolve lots of travelling and food. This has a really annoying beginning and I only picked it up again the day before it was due back. Biddy's point of view is what carries this; the plot is obvious and the end in particular too melodramatic, but the recipes and the expansion of Biddy's world are very good.

Jeffrey Deaver, The Skin Collector. In the same series as The Bone Collector. Not terribly good. There's a thing I read somewhere that says that a standard plot twist deceives the reader, but a great one deceives the characters, and unfortunately much of Deaver's work has now tipped far too far over into deceiving the readers (The Bone Collector, in contrast, has at least two fabulous twists for the characters that I still think of fondly).

Sherry Thomas, My Beloved Enemy The romance part of The Hidden Blade. Lots of great scenery. I wish the main characters in this had a bit more to do together rather than go through the romance bits, because I like them a lot but sadly the romance bits are the second-least convincing part of this book, right after death/immobilisation via accupressure points. I suspect this is more me than the book. I did like this but not as much as the first.

Jilly Cooper, The Common Years, and Appassionata. Both re-reads. I lent the former to a colleague who is having issues with her rescue dog's behaviour, on the grounds that she could not possibly do worse than Jilly, who is forced to put down not one but two of her dogs after she has done everything possible to stop them killing other people's pets except a) train them b) neuter them c) keep them on the lead. And then I re-read Appassionata, because it's probably my favourite of her novels, and it even makes me think wistfully about listening to classical music.
cyphomandra: fluffy snowy mountains (painting) (snowcone)
I am so far behind for various reasons. Some of these definitely deserve more, but this is all I have time for now. The Hidden Blade and Daughter of Mysteries were my favourites for this month.

February:

Courtney Milan, Hold Me. Sequel to Trade Me. Maria, transgender Latina best friend of previous book's lead, has a apocalyptic-themed blog under another name that Jay, neurotic Chinese/Thai physicist, loves; he corresponds with the pen name and starts flirting, but when he meets Maria in person writes her off as superficial and uninteresting. This is not my favourite set-up for a romance, I never really bought the blog as a concept (everyone loves it! top level scientists offer Maria jobs (or possibly papers, it's been a while) based on it), and the vast levels of wealth and wish-fulfillment going on with Cyclone are also not my thing at all.

Sherry Thomas, The Hidden Blade, Delicious, His at Night, Private Arrangments. The Hidden Blade is the backstory/prequel to My Beautiful Enemy, and it's great. Ying-Ying is the daughter of a concubine to a senior official who is not her father; her precarious existence is strengthened by her discovery that her servant/nurse is a secret martial arts expert, who takes on the job of training Ying-Ying. Leighton is the apparently privileged child of English nobility whose family is wrenched apart. Together, they will exchange one heated glance all book before getting together (and apart, and together) in the sequel. It is melodramatic and whole-hearted and I really liked it a lot. It reminded me of the early bits of MM Kaye's The Far Pavilions, actually, a book of which I am very fond.

The other Thomases are historical romance, English settings, and they're all fine but none of them really hit the spot, and some of her character interactions don't really work as romances for me.

Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent. 1890s England; Cora, a new widow for whom her husband's death came as a deliverance, leaves London for the wilds of Essex, intrigued by paleontology and the rumours of the serpent of the title. Too many of the cast felt like contemporary characters in costume for me, and the denouement irked. There's also a letter that Cora sends which is in fact a perfectly reasonable statement of personal boundaries and yes, it does arrive at the worst possible time, but that's not her fault and it felt like too much authorial thumb on the scale.

Agatha Christie, The Clocks. Late Christie, Poirot. I was contemplating a Christie re-read at this stage and this was what they had at the library. Very neat, not outstanding.

The Crime Club, Mystery and Mayhem: Twelve Deliciously Intriguing Mysteries. Picked up largely for the Robin Stevens, which was good but a bit obvious as a Christie homage. Harriet Whitehorn and Katherine Woodfine had the other two stories that I liked. I note that this is an all-female collection and that he only time I've seen "best male writer" as a qualification was in a description of Reginald Hill (when alive) as "Britain's best living male crime writer" (at the time, both PD James and Ruth Rendell were also still alive).

Heather Rose Jones, Daughter of Mysteries. I read a review of this and forgot the details, but conveniently it was the first hit for "ruritania lesbians" on Google. And yes, that does describe it, but it's also a lovely detailed piece of historical world-building, with an interconnection between religion and magic that reminds me a bit of Kurtz's early Deryni books. Barbara, the personal bodyguard of a somewhat eccentric baron, is bequeathed on his death to Margerit, an impoverished orphan - along with the Baron's fortune. The two of them have to negotiate vengful relatives, politics, rebellions, duels - and their own developing relationship. This is the first of a trilogy and I really enjoyed it.

I am no longer cross-posting to livejournal.
cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
Rather than keep getting further behind I will post all this behind a cut: this is all of January except for four books by Robin Stevens that I loved and which will get their own entry. Someday.

Sarah Dressen, Dreamland
Yoon Ha Lee, Ninefox Gambit
Yoon Ha Lee, Raven Stratagem
Yoon Ha Lee, Revenant Gun (x2)
Sherry Thomas, Not Quite a Husband
Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy
Stephen King, Riding the Bullet
KJ Charles, Wanted, a Gentleman
Jenny Lawson, Let's Pretend This Never Happened
Naomi Alderman, The Power
Megan Abbot, You Will Know Me
Elin Gregory, The Eleventh Hour
Emma Newman, Between Two Thorns (the Split Worlds, book 1)


Books read, January. )

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