Dec 312012
 

So many traditions have fallen by the wayside around here that I’m glad to see this one continuing. It’s my annual reading roundup.

I wish it wasn’t my least exciting one yet.

For starters, I only read 61 books this year, which is down considerably from past years. My high, you may recall, was 144. The good news is that of those 59, there were only six I didn’t finish.

Twenty-two of these books were assignments from the Review People, so I can’t talk much about them, since I review incognito and all. (Bummer, because a couple of them were good enough to talk to you about.)

It looks like only nine were for my book club, and the only one I absolutely adored was Jenna Blum’s The Stormchasers. It might be my standout for the year, in fact. We also delved into Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death series, reading two of the four. The other two are in our queue. As a group, we love historical fiction and don’t shy away from Biblical Historical, but… nothing stood out this year. If you’ve read some, please let me know.

In a happier vein, I read 10 works of Rock Fiction this year, and reviews for all of them are up. The standouts? Olivia Cunning’s original Sinners on Tour novel, Backstage Passes. Okay, she gets a lot of the rock and roll details wrong, but she can tell a story and write an even better sex scene.

Other Rock Fiction worth reading: DJ Butler’s Hellhound on my Trail. I’ve got the second and third installments waiting for me here, and they had better live up to the first or I’m going hurt DJ. Join me. Book One is fantastic.

Another standout was the horror story, Voice. Joseph Garraty… you read his name here first. Not so scary you won’t be able to sleep, this one’s got a fresh take on what could have been an overly familiar trope.

Sound Bites and Rock Star’s Girl were both fun but not groundbreaking. And Rob Reid skewered everything in sight in Year Zero. Science Fiction fans and Terry Pratchett lovers should jump at that one.

Otherwise… I spent some time with old friends: Rebecca Cantrell’s A Knight of Long Knives reunited me with Hannah Vogel, Stephanie Plum still can’t stop Volume 12, Jennifer Estep’s Gin Blanco series gets better and better. She swears she’s winging the overarching plotline in that series. If so, look out, world.

Those were the highlights, such as they were. It was probably my most disappointing reading year since I started these year-end wrap ups, but I suspect that had more to do with my limited pleasure reading time. Maybe it’s because now that I’m reviewing and editing so steadily, my expectations have risen.

Either way, go pick up the books I’ve highlighted here if you’re looking for something good to read. As always, if you can order them through your local independent bookstore (or, failing that, use either of mine), you’re helping not only an author but a small business and a whole slew of people, as well.

Dec 052012
 

I haven’t talked about the books I’ve been reading lately because, frankly, I haven’t been reading much. Between editing, the whole single-parenting thing, and reviewing for the book reviewing people, I don’t have a lot of reading time.

In fact, I’m about to make a big push to catch up on some of the Rock Fiction that authors have been kind enough to send my way.

But first, I wanted to talk about Ariana Franklin’s The Serpent’s Tale. It’s neither a book I was supposed to review, nor is it Rock Fiction. (Not if it’s set in the 11th century or whatnot!)

It was a book club book.

Yeah, you know: that book club I’ve been part of for years now. (Still not sure? Go under Extras above and scroll down.)

We’d read Mistress of the Art of Death as a group and really liked it, so we put The Serpent’s Tale on our list (we also have the other two on it now). And… it wasn’t as good as the first, not by a longshot, but what intrigued me about it was that for part of the book, it became a classic closed-room mystery. You know the type: like what Agatha Christie was known for. Everyone locked in a space together, with no way in or out and a killer among us.

I’d have liked to see Ms. Franklin do more with that structure and let her main character, Adelia, shine within it, but the book wasn’t meant to be that sort of mystery. Still, I wish one of the interviewers who got a chance to chat with her (or the person she was when she wasn’t being Ariana Franklin) had asked about it. Was it a conscious decision? Did she mean to set the characters up this way, or did it happen because the setting demanded it?

Ahh, if only… if only…

But one thing I did find interesting: of all the online reviews I read, I’m the only one who picked up on that. Makes me wonder if I’m seeing something that’s really not there, or if I’m just an overeducated woman with nothing better to do…

Scary thought, either way.