Forever Books (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This year is off to a quiet start (thank you, Powers That Be). No calls to 911, no all-nighters in the ER, no word from CPS. I had a chance to read and even made a small dent in the more than 400 books on my kindle. Of course, I also added books to my kindle, so no real progress was made. I gave myself some actual books for Christmas, so I read a good mix of paper and electronic stuff. I still enjoy the feel of an actual book in my hands, but the storage capacity of the kindle appeals to my inner neatnik.
Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong
The end of the Otherworld series. And what an epic finale it was. I think she tied up every storyline and revisited every major character from the decade-long series history. It’s a long, action-packed book and completely satisfying. Even the sad parts (Cassandra and Aaron) made me happy.
If you haven’t read this urban fantasy series, I envy you. Start at the beginning with Bitten and savor every word.
Trapped by Kevin Hearne
Book 5 in The Iron Druid Chronicles. I love this series: it’s exceptionally well written with incredibly detailed worlds and characters. With such intricacy, it’s important to read the books in order. I missed a novella Mr. Hearne published just before this installment and lost out on some of the finer plot points as a result.
The first 100 pages are a bit slow, with far too many elves and dwarves telling tales. They spoke very formally, with lots of flowery prose while I tapped my foot hoping they’d get to the bloody point soon. But the plot picked up in the middle and the climactic battle in Hel was worth the wait.
My favorite image was Freya’s chariot being powered by domestic grey house cats. And they had cat-titude to spare.
Oberon, the Irish wolfhound, remains the funniest character in the series. Love him!
Black Lament by Christina Henry
Book 4 of the urban fantasy Black Wings series. The premise of this series intrigued me with book 1: a seemingly average Chicago woman is an Agent of Death (and Death is a bureaucracy). Her calling is to usher departed souls to the Door (of the beyond). Cool, right? Turns out she’s also Lucifer’s granddaughter, so there are demons and angels aplenty. Also the fae are front and center, so lots of plotting and politics.
This is a vengeance novel and Maddy is on a rampage to avenge the happening at the end of Book 3. She’s also grief-stricken and hormonal. Some older storylines are wrapped up and promising new ones begin. I didn’t care for the “evolution” of her relationship with Nathaniel. This guy (well, demon) tried to rape and kill her a book or two ago. He’s scum. That whole storyline rings false and pisses me off.
Maddy’s a tough cookie, though, which I enjoy and she’s got a smart-mouthed gargoyle companion who gives me giggles. An enjoyable series overall.
Undone Deeds by Mark del Franco
#6 in the Connor Grey urban fantasy series set in Boston with druids, fae, and puzzles within machinations, wrapped up in plots. I frequently feel like I’m missing something important in these stories of a druid detective. It’s frustrating and fascinating. Standard admonition to read in order.
This must be the final Connor Grey novel and ultimately, it’s about hope and redemption, learning to let go of what was and embracing what is. Strip away all the fae fantasy and Connor is a proud, ambitious man brought low. He has to reinvent himself without all the seemingly important traits he thought made him worthy and impressive. I enjoyed the journey, even when I felt stupid.
Pet Sitter: A Jenna Stack Mystery by Amy Eyrie and Alix Sloan
Kindle freebie. Fun and fast read. Set in Manhattan with a bartender-pet sitter-criminology student (Jenna) as our lead character. Well written with relatable characters and a brisk pace. The mystery had some heft, too. Recommend.
Dead Spots by Melissa F. Olson
Favorite line from this kindle freebie: “It’s so much easier to just think of your life as a giant checklist that has to be worked through.”
Urban fantasy starring werewolves, vampires, and witches — oh my! Great characters, fast paced, with a completely unexpected twist at the end. I was stunned to read that this is a debut novel — it’s fabulous. Looking forward to the next one.
Worth Lying For by Lisa Cheney and Lisa Craig
Kindle freebie centered on a middle-aged married mom with slightly larcenous, hoarding tendencies. This is more an examination of her life and choices than a mystery. Our heroine has a series of adventures and misadventures which lead to a simple but life-changing epiphany. Fun and fast with a “how would you spend a bunch of money if you won the lottery” vibe.
My favorite line: “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy fun.” Amen.
The Girl From Long Guyland by Lara Reznik
This kindle freebie weaves events from 1969/1970 together with events from 2012. On the whole, it gave me flashbacks to how, as a teenager, a small drama could quickly snowball completely out of control.
It’s a coming of age novel, and sometimes it takes 40+ years to grow up. The characters are deeply flawed people who keep making stupid, selfish choices. But I read the whole thing because they were interesting people.
If you’re under 45, the flashbacks may seem improbable, but there was a time when LSD was the epitome of hip, abortions were bloody, back-alley affairs, and the National Guard shot college students.
Silver Flashing (A Jonie Waters Mystery) by Tamara Ward
Kindle freebie. A decent mystery, apparently the second in a series, but it pretty much stood alone. Featured an investigative reporter in North Carolina. An entertaining read, but I didn’t like Jonie’s blended family (of jerks) or her budding romance. Overall, light and fun.
Candy Apple Red (A Jane Kelly Mystery) by Nancy Bush
This paperback finally floated to the front of my bookshelf and I grabbed it on my way out the door one day. I always toss a book or my kindle into my purse to entertain myself…just in case. Had no idea what to expect, but at first I was entertained. In the end, this story of the murder of a family annihilator was disappointing. The style was light and breezy, but the subject was dark as pitch. I found myself forgetting that the dead guy had killed his wife and three kids. Then I’d remember and hope whoever killed him got away with it.
I guess Jane Kelly’s got a series; she’s certainly got Stephanie Plum aspirations. She’s marginally more competent (and less charming) than Stephanie.
Nothing added up in this mystery: not the plotlines, not the characters. There’s the return of an old flame that set off all my alarm bells — Jane just took it in stride. Like, of course, an ex from four years past would show up and want to pick the romance right back up.
Not a terrible read, but don’t go out of your way for it.
Saving Grace (Katie and Annalise Series) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Kindle freebie about an alcohol abusing attorney with moderate stalker tendencies who goes to the Virgin Islands to dry out and get closure on her parents’ deaths. The mystery is a jumble, not a linear unfolding. A story of healing and redemption with just a dash of mystery. Lots of dangling loose ends.
Killer Twist (A Ghostwriter Mystery) by C.A. Larmer
Kindle freebie set in Australia. The Aussie slang is fun, the author’s sloppiness with details isn’t. There’s a plodding feel to the descriptions and the villains are cartoonish. Another not horrible read, especially for free, but not great either.
Flat Crazy (Blanco County Mysteries) by Ben Rehder
Kindle freebie about racist rednecks and their rifles. I quit 12% into the book. Maybe it got better, but I lost hope and couldn’t go on.
If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to know what you thought. And if you read something really great or truly awful this month, tell us about it in the comments!