Recent Reading

I read more in October than I did during most of the summer months combined, which is mostly a sad statement about how little I read this summer.

But I've gotten some of my reading mojo back. One good book led to another, and another...I expect I also need to actually prioritize my reading. I've been pretty busy juggling book production stuff, every step along the way is new to me and takes a lot of figuring out, which means long hours and ending the day pretty exhausted. My big break comes when I go to the gym, where I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. 

Speaking of which: I've been listening to the new podcast Serial. You've probably heard about Serial because everybody seems to be talking about it. It's riveting. It's so-named because each season will feature one story explored in depth, broken into parts that release one a week for, in the case of this first season, twelve weeks. We're nearing the halfway point, which means new listeners can enjoy the pleasure of glutting themselves before they have to wait impatiently for new installments like the rest of us.

The story, incidentally, is a true crime tale. A murder mystery, where one of the suspects is behind bars...perhaps unjustly. (I would say definitely unjustly--I cannot imagine how anyone believed the evidence passed the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard.)

Also on audio: I'm still working my way through Thinking Fast and Slow, but the end is in sight (it's a dense book, which I recommend), and The Signature of All Things, which I'm really enjoying. Elizabeth Gilbert. Who knew. 

So. Actual books I've actually finished:

The two Rust & Relics books by Lindsay Buroker: Torrent and Thorn Fall. They're a genre melange, probably closest to urban fantasy. I really like Buroker. I read both of these books back to back, each in one sitting. They're fun and they hold my attention and she works up these fun casts of characters with great chemistry, and always lots of action. My urban fantasy reading has really fallen off and I don't try many new series--it was the first paragraph of the blurb for the second book that pulled me in, so I'll quote it: "Delia never thought her love of adventure and artifact hunting would lead her to discover such oddities as man-slaying monsters, magical swords, and elves on motorcycles. Oh, and there’s also the Ancient Spartan warrior who’s been stranded in the present—he’s offering to work as her bodyguard in exchange for English lessons." 

Sounds wacky and fun, right? It was.

Criss Cross by Jordan Castillo Price. This is #2 in the PsyCop series. The writing here is wonderful--feels effortless, is effortlessly immersive, and the narrator's character just leaps out of every word. Another urban-fantasy style series, though these are novellas; the price had put me off, but the quality brought me back. There's a mystery here, but the author hung neon signs around every single clue & as a result, there was absolutely no challenge or fun in figuring out what was going on. And yet, for all that, I have book #3 in the series loaded up on my ipad. Writing and characters win again.

Into the Shadows by Carolyn Crane. I am such a Carolyn Crane fangirl. I've been a fan since Mind Games first came out, which was a long time ago. That being said, the first book in the Associates series--Against the Dark--did not quite rope me in and I...lapsed, a bit. After reading Into the Shadows I am back on the wagon. Soooooooo good. There's something cheerfully, gleefully absurd about the book--the heroine, Nadia, is the first person to point this out, naming her guns and laughing at her own audacity--and also something deadly serious and poignant. The combination of the two, of this soul-deep sorrow and open-hearted effervescence, is almost magical to me. Love, love, loved this book.

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke. This is the second book in a duology. I read the first book, The Assassin's Curse, right around when it came out. I really enjoyed it & bought the sequel almost a year ago, but didn't read it until just now. I was in a really particular mood. I wanted something good but light; something that would hold my interest without tugging on my heartstrings too hard; something fantastical. The Pirate's Wish hit the spot. 

The heroine, Ananna, is a pirate who reminds me a little of Pippi Longstocking. Ingenious, lucky, with a magic touch, but she's such a winning character that all you can do is laugh and cheer when things go right for her. She's daring and courageous and vulnerable and smart and would be great fun at a party. 

Finished this book with a smile on my face. 

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. When Jenny Crusie is at the top of her game, she sets so many plates spinning & as a reader, I just sit back & laugh and clap and am dazzled. Agnes and the Hitman tends toward slapstick, toward outsize and absurd situations--Agnes is trying to put on a grand wedding for a mob boss's niece while someone has a hit out on her, so she's trying to dodge assassins while she cooks & also, if she fails, she loses her house. It's crazy and fun and the romance is fantastic--I like stoic assassin hero who masks his emotions but is a total sucker for a lady.

That being said, there's a surprising amount of actual violence in this novel & lots of bodies on the ground. I could have gone with this, in a stylized & cartoonish way, but the scenes from the hero's perspective are full of loving descriptions of guns and bombs and cars and boats...all this sort of fetishized violence porn stuff, which did not work for me at all. 

I gather this is supposed to be a sort of hybrid novel. The thriller aspects are full-on thriller (so: loving description of guns, bodies piling up) and the romance aspects are full-on romance (lusting, sex scenes, HEA). I'm not sure that the mix works, entirely. 

But the parts that worked for me really worked. Thumbs up.