So last week or so I brought home the library haul. Five books, three of which I read completely, one of which I got 2/3rds through, and one that went back without really getting started. Then I hit the Raven Bookstore with a holiday giftcard for more bookloot. These are the results.
Not a surprise that I really enjoyed The Guilty Dead, the ninth Monkeewrench outing. I skipped book 8 somehow, but each of these novels is pretty much standalone. One of the things I most like about this series is that even as the mysteries build to super high stakes, each step feels plausible. The characters are believable in their context. My favorite of the series is still probably The Sixth Idea, but this is a good entry. I understand that PJ Tracy is a solo act now after the death of her mother, but she’s doing her mom proud. Recommended for mystery lovers.
I went back and forth on whether I was enjoying Creatures of Want & Ruin, by Molly Tanzer and in the end, the exceptional and out of the ordinary, characterization, demonology, and setting made this a win. Her books aren’t always paced the way I’d like, but they always make me feel rewarded for reading them. I’m looking forward to more in this world. Recommended.
Pop the Clutch! This is an anthology I picked up on a whim, despite not having any particular interest in Rockabilly culture. And the book had some formatting/editing issues that really irked me–splash pages of art left blank with <IMAGE PENDING> left behind; stories that repeated a sentence twice, the constant misspelling of “altar”. But crankiness aside, there were some gems of stories in here. I really enjoyed “Tremble” by Kasey and Joe Lansdale about a singer with a grudge; “Dr. Morbismo’s InsaniTERRORium Horror Show” by Lisa Morton about schlock horror shows running into a real ghost; and “I Was a Teenage Shroom Fiend” by Brian Hodge which has them all beat for pleasantly weird.
Priest of Bones by Peter McLean. How many times am I going to check this book out before I finally finish it?!? At least one more. The deal is that somehow, despite McLean’s great writing, and treading the sweet spot between “gritty” and “nihilistic”, and me being invested in the characters, I just keep hitting a wall. This time, I got through the entire first act, much of the second, and well… I’m not as interested in the turn the book makes toward politics. Add in the fact that it’s not a stand-alone, and I lose momentum. I’m still going to recommend it though because it’s really well-written! And really compelling! And I’m going to check it out again. Recommended.
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep. A DNF. Really, more of a DNStart. I blame the blurb. It told me too much of the exciting event to happen, so that I started the book on a mental timer, waiting for the slaughter to begin. And instead, I got a slow build, where the heroine notes all these “odd” things going on in the palace, but doesn’t draw any conclusion–which annoyed me, because I already knew what the conclusion was: SLAUGHTER!!! I was impatient and not in the mood. I sent it back to the library. It looks like it might be a lot of fun for the right reader. That’s apparently not me.
Picked up two mysteries at the local bookstore, one of which I disliked immensely because I thought the heroine and her family were horrible stuck-up snobs. Her sister met her fiance… ON THE INTERNET!!!! The Horror!!! And it tried really hard for quirky cast of characters but mostly just felt crowded and full of people I would hate to be around. Not going to name it. But it was one of those cozies that require the mystery to stop while the “gimmick” is run through. In this case, every meal involved a long description of the cooking process. Which, really, was maybe my favorite part? But… if I want to read about cooking, there are other books with that as the actual focus.
The Secret, Book, & Scone Society by Ellery Adams on the other hand was pretty good. It’s a little artsy for my taste in some places–the four women sharing their “dreadful” secrets and handing out secret keys, and the like–but in the end, I really liked these characters and would gladly read another book in the series.
Though I never read A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue, that didn’t stop me from picking up the second book in the series, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats & Piracy. I felt comfortable doing this since it revolved around a secondary character from the first book as this book’s protagonist. And I’m always up for reading about a determined girl trying to break down the rules of society that get in her way. Things I really appreciated about this book? Multiple female characters, all fighting for their futures in their own ways, and learning to respect each other’s choices. That’s before you get to having an Ace protagonist, which is always refreshing. My only hiccup was that I was reading along assuming this was pretty much basic historical YA and suddenly there were magical dragon scales. So that sort of took me aback. Not badly, just a bit of blinking and wondering how MacKenzi Lee managed to convince the publishers to go for that!
And a personal fail. I bought a book I already owned. God, I hate that. A lot. At least it was a good book! A Treacherous Curse, book 3 of the Veronica Speedwell mysteries by Deanna Raybourn. I would recommend this series for anyone who loved the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters.