Last year I was pretty lousy at even writing down what I was reading, let alone reviewing it. Here's hoping that I'm a bit better organized in 2015. (August- it was a forlorn hope.)
56. An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff
55. Dark Truth by Mariah Stewart
54. Fearless by Elliot James
53. The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
52. The Angel Maker by Ridley Pearson
51. Daring by Elliot James
50. The End of All Things by John Scalzi
49. The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman
48. The Diviners by Libba Bray (audiobook)
If you read the blurb, you'll think that this is a YA urban fantasy set in 1920s Manhattan. That's about a third of it. Another third is a leisurely exploration of What Was It Like in 1920s Manhattan. The remaining third is Atmospheric Signs and Portents setting up for some other book. The leisurely (to put it mildly) pace of this book was not without charm, but overall it purely cried out for severe editing. I had to wade through a substantial part of the book getting only occasional glimpses of Plot, before it finally developed. The A plot was interspersed with largely irrelevant chunks of B, C and D plots (presumably setup for some other story). And then you get about 10 chapters of book remaining after the big climax.
Having said that- the historical aspects of it are probably a lot more interesting to a young reader than the typical history class treatment of the period. And as an audiobook, even the most leisurely passages were made vastly more entertaining by outstanding vocal talents of the reader, January LaVoy. I give the book a B for concept, C for execution and A++ for the audio performance.
47. Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
A pleasantly entertaining urban fantasy by-the-numbers.
46. Killer Summer by Ridley Pearson
45. Killer View by Ridley Pearson
44. Killer Weekend by Ridley Pearson
43. Storm Born by Richelle Mead
42. Devoted in Death by J.D. Robb
41. Bones on Ice by Kathy Reichs
40. Linesman by S.K. Dunstall
39. The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews
38. Alert by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
37. A Liaden Universe Constellation III by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
36. Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs
35. A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca
34. A Good Way to Go by Peter Helton
33. Four Below by Peter Helton
These are #2 and #3 in the Liam McLusky series. Much like the first, but alas lacking that extra touch of cleverness in the plot that made the first book memorable.
32. The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross
Latest in the Laundry series (HP Lovecraft meets Ian Fleming)- start at the beginning of the series.
31. Perfect Touch by Elizabeth Lowell
30. Nemesis by Catherine Coulter
29. Sympathy for the Devil by Terence Macauley
This is a thriller with the main character working working for a secret non-government organization that uses dubious means to fight the enemies of civilization. A rather unsophisticated setup which was not redeemed by a sympathetic or personable main character, at least for me.
28. The Story of the Human Body- Health, Evolution and Disease by Daniel Lieberman
This book splits into two parts- the first the evolution of humans and a survey of current thinking as to the environmental forces that shaped our physiology, and the second an exploration of how that physiology does and does not cope with modern conditions. I liked this for its willingness to embrace complexity but it might be challenging for those lacking in a good general science background. One of the more striking points was the interaction of culture and physiology.
27. Haunted by Kay Hooper
26. A Liaden Universe Constellation I and II by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
25. Blameless by Gail Carriger
24. Changeless by Gail Carriger
23. Soulless by Gail Carriger
Victorian mannerist novels meet steampunk fantasy, with a humorous touch.
22. Trade Secret by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Sequel to Balance of Trade, which should be read first.
21. Rust: the Longest War by Jonathan Waldman
An interesting look at largely neglected topic of corrosion, and the ways we deal- or fail to deal- with it in modern life.
20. Falling More Slowly by Peter Helton
An evocative police procedural set in Bristol England, this was very enjoyable. The main character walks a fine line between screwup and jerk, but manages to stay on the humorous side of it. The investigation is pleasantly complicated, and loaded with clues that result at the end in that 'ahah!' when the crime is finally solved. Definitely an author I'm going to read more of.
19. Devil's Plaything by Matt Richtel
A very disappointing thriller; too much of the book involves wading through the memories of a character with dementia, whose big secret turns out to be not that big and not related to the main plot at all. And the main plot turned out to be fairly unconvincing. Too many flaws for even the likable main character to salvage.
18. The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata
This one is military SF with thriller elements. Enjoyable- I've got the sequel on pre-order.
17. Murder in Hindsight by Anne Cleeland
This fell down considerably on the mystery of the title- the culprit was obvious to the reader long before the detective clued in. The slow unfolding of the multi-story B-plot continues, however, though little is resolved. I'm mildly enjoying it, but it's not going to satisfy classic mystery fans, and due to the multi-story plot it definitely should not be read out of order.
16. Locked In by John Scalzi
An excellent SF/mystery read from Scalzi. The eventual plot could have been trickier, but it was a good ride.
15. Live to See Tomorrow by Iris Johannsen (audiobook)
Much of a muchness with her other books. Though I like this main character less than some of her others.
14. The Lost Key by Catherine Coulter
Way, way over the top, to the point of silly. It would make a good (silly) action movie- lots of explosions, fights, chases and a really improbable plot. This is the second book in a series, so go in order.
13. London Falling by Paul Cornell
Genre books can often fall into the trap of having the same look and feel as all the other genre books of their type. This isn't one of those- while clearly urban fantasy, it's got a very different feel than most. Think Ian Rankin meets Susanna Clarke, only set in London. (For those not familiar, Rankin writes gritty police procedurals while Clarke does beautifully written atmospheric fantasy set in Britain.) This book had flaws- it starts slowly, and I didn't love the main characters. But I liked them better at the end of the book than at the start, and the book steers a neat course between its police procedural and fantasy elements, without falling down on either. It's clearly intended as the first in a series. I'll be interested to see how the author manages the balancing act in a sequel.
12. Midnight Crossroads by Charlaine Harris
If you go into this expecting a murder mystery, you're going to be disappointed, despite the dead body that turns up early in the book. Both the body and the main character exist principally to facilitate the introduction to the odd and secretive community of Midnight. In fact, had the main character not been in the book at all, very little would have changed in the events that followed- nothing he does makes any real difference to the outcome of events. That having been said, Harris has previously demonstrated slowly unfolding threads through multiple books, and it was nice to see a couple of minor characters from her Harper Connelly and Shakespeare series coming back as main characters. And the community of Midnight was sufficiently interesting that I will likely check out the next book. It would be nice if the next one had an actual plot, however, with an opportunity for the actions of the main characters to affect the outcome.
11. Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb
If you like the series, you'll like this one. If you haven't read the series, start at the beginning.
10. The Good, the Bad and the Emus by Donna Andrews
I love this series. Once again, we get murder served with a generous side of screwball comedy. And emus.
9. Spell Blind by David B. Coe- A competent if undistinguished entry into the annals of urban fantasy detective stories.
8. Love Me if You Must by Nicole Young
This was annoying. When the resolution is the main character finally digging up the body in her basement that she has been convinced was there from the first chapter of the book, you've got a problem with the plot.
7. Closer Than You Think by Karen Rose
Enjoyable, but formulaic to faithful readers.
6. Bonnie by Iris Johansen
5. Quinn by Iris Johansen
4. Eve by Iris Johansen
These three books should be read together, as they are not just a trilogy but the first two end in cliffhangers. I wouldn't start the series here, but these provided a satisfying and interestingly non-obvious answer to the unresolved question of Bonnie's fate. (The missing Bonnie has been a plot element in the series from book 1.)
3. Silent Fall by Barbara Freethy
2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Having recently read the making-of and seen the movie again, my husband urged me to go back and read the original book. Not surprisingly, the movie did it justice (the screenplay having been written by the author), but the fictional framing story and asides about S. Morgenstern lent additional charm. It's a story about a story about a story that also satirizes fairy tales and storytelling generally- while still celebrating their power. It's no wonder that the critics didn't know what to make of the movie- and that the readers and viewers loved it.
1. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden
I'm not really into reading about the making of movies, but this was a charming and warmly affectionate account of the making of a wonderful story. Not least because several of the people involved were fans of the book. The screenplay was written by William Goldman, the original book's author, and there was an almost unprecedented level of commitment to remaining true to the original throughout the production. A short but fun read for any fan of the movie. Though I warn you- when you're done, you'll want to watch the movie again. I know I do.