Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Lucky

The last couple of months have been extremely good reading time for me. Not only have some of my favorite authors come out with new books, but I've also discovered a couple of new favorite authors. I usually discover a new author that I really love about once, maaaaybe twice, a year. To have discovered two authors that I really love within the last 6 weeks or so is practically a miracle. Both authors write mystery series, and I've been scarfing them down as fast as humanly possible.

Some of the books I've particularly enjoyed recently are:

Bone Crossed- Patricia Briggs- This one wasn't as good as previous Mercy books, but still highly enjoyable.

What I Did For Love- Susan Elizabeth Phillips- I didn't particularly care for her last book, but this one was really good. SEP's characters are always flawed, sometimes seriously so, but by the end of the book you feel like they've grown as people and accepted each other, warts and all.

The Sharing Knife: Horizon- Lois McMaster Bujold- The only thing I didn't like about this book is that it neatly wrapped up a lot of loose ends for Fawn and Dag. This series was LMB's experiment in crossing the fantasy and romance genres. Now that the two main characters have found their happy ending, the series seems to be at an end. I hope she decides that she has more stories to tell in the world, because I really enjoy it. Of course, she could set a story in the local A&P, with a plot line consisting of what she needs to pick up for dinner tonight, and I'd still enjoy it.

Audrey, Wait!- Robin Benway- This one was just fun. If you want to analyse it, there was a lot of subtext- the American fascination with fame, our willingness to be famous for being famous, how fame messes with your head and your relationships. But mostly it was just a lot of fun. It's YA, so those of us 30-somethings who like teeny bopper TV and movies will totally enjoy it.

Graceling- Kristin Cashore- A fantasy with excellent world and character building. YA, more because of the ages of the protagonists rather than any simplicity in storyline. Some children are born with particular talents, or Graces. Those Graces can be just about anything. Those who have a Grace that is useful to the King become his to use in whatever way benefits him. Those with useless Graces are sent home to their families, where they become a burden because the general population fears them. A follow up book, which is actually a prequel, is scheduled for this fall, giving us more info about Graceling's baddie and where he may have come from. I've already got it on my wishlist for birthday/Christmas.

Endless Blue- Wen Spencer- Another really interesting world. It's a wild place, filled with shipwreck victims of different cultures and species, escaped bioengineered creatures, and land masses that float through the air. When Mikhail chooses to crash land in this place on purpose he has no idea what he'll find, if there's anything there to find, or if he'll ever be able to get out. The world building and set up was very good, but it felt like the author lost steam in the last quarter to third of the book. There were logical errors, and the whole thing just seemed to wrap up too quickly. The main characters all decided to return to the outside world for various reasons. But what made this story so interesting is that the sphere in which they were all trapped had developed a very Swiss Family Robinson society. Stuff would wash up, they'd rig what they had as best they could, and keep on going. The genetically engineered differences in the human population and the outright alien species encountered made for much more exciting reading than the bits of shipboard life we got to see before the crash. If Spencer decides to revisit this world, which I hope she does, I hope she focuses within the sphere and on trying to figure out where it came from and who created it. The politics of the outside world were of no interest to me at all.

Turn Coat- Jim Butcher- Another really good one from Jim Butcher. Some have complained that there wasn't enough forward movement in the overall story arc. I don't agree. One knowing spy is exposed, one unknowing spy is exposed (which cause fall out for Harry later on), bad things happen for Thomas (which I also expect to bleed into Harry's relationship with him in the next few books), an important Warden dies, and the Black Council finally begins to show themselves. I particularly enjoyed Ancient Mai's reaction when she realized that Harry has a Foo Dog. The Dresden Files are always a good read, and I fully expect them to continue to be so.

Impossible- Nancy Werlin- This one really blew my mind. Not because the story was particularly good, although I did like it. The premise is so out there, I can't believe that it hasn't been done before. I can't believe I didn't think of it myself! Are you familiar with the folk song "Scarborough Fair"? Simon and Garfunkel did a famous version of it in the 70's, but it's been around for a lot longer. If you listen carefully to the lyrics, it's a list of impossible tasks given to a lover. Another version of the song is called "The Elfin Knight". So what if the song is a riddle, handed down through a family as a way to teach the next generation what they must do to break an Elf's curse? The simplicity of the idea, and the fact that it was all there if you just bother to look for it, really just boggles me. Not that the author didn't make a few changes to tailor the song to the story she wanted to tell. But still. Makes you wonder what other stories I've been looking right past.

The Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries by Julia Spencer-Fleming- I've read 5 out of the 6 books in this series in the last couple of weeks. The first two books were excellent. Books three and four weren't so great. The author was trying something different in these two, and while I respect her for experimenting, they didn't work for me. Book five was really good again, and book six is waiting for me at the library. The mysteries in these books are pretty good, but the very best part is the developing relationship between Clare and Russ. The author has moved the relationship forward in the last couple of chapters of each of the books, which hooks you and makes you want to read the next book to see what happens between them.

The Lady Julia Grey mysteries by Deanna Raybourn- I read all three of these books in less than a week. These are fabulous, and I can't recommend them enough. Again, it's not the mysteries themselves that hook you in with this series, it's the relationship between Julia and Brisbane. Raybourn will have a stand alone mystery and another Julia Grey coming out next year. I can't wait.

4 comments:

  1. Audrey, Wait! and Graceling are both on my reading list. Thanks for the thoughts about them.

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  2. Hey, Firewolf here :)

    I love Lois McMaster Bujold. I've only read a little of her fantasy though. I'm hoping she writes some more sci fi as well as fantasy.

    Jim Butcher is another of my favorites though I"m not to Turn Coat yet. Have you read his fantasy series?

    I've heard a couple of people mention Graceling. I think I'm going to have to check it out.

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  3. I've heard so many good things about Graceling, and after hearing your thoughts it makes me even more eager to read it.

    ~ Popin

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  4. Some of my favorite authors are listed here and I've read most of these books! But I was especially excited to find another Spencer-Fleming reader! I love the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne books! I've already read book 6 --I think you'll like it, and I suspect there's a book 7 in the offing, because book 6 just came out in paperback.

    Great reviews!

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Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it!