I am an avid reader, for lack of a better phrase. I read 240 books in 2013. My goal for 2014 is 300, though that's definitely a stretch goal for me. I read 25 books in January of this year. I read all genres. I read new books. Old books. Self-published books. I follow series. I listen to audiobooks. I buy books. I have books sent to me as gifts. I occasionally receive books from publishers for reviews, (though I rarely accept them because I hate feeling like I am obligated to review them), but most of my books come from my library. I have a great library.
Since I do read so many books, of all different types, I thought it might be fun (and useful?) to share some that I think others might like to read. Some are by well-known authors, some are for kids or teens, some are non-fiction. I hope you find something of interest from this list of ten.
I've been a Sarah Addison-Allen fan since her first book, Garden Spells. The only problem with her books is that it takes forever for a new one to appear. They're all filled with magic and Lost Lake is no different. Except that it is different.
The magic is... subtle. It's also darker and it's hard to find anything pretty or sweet about the magic. It's hard to find any hope in this magic. For some reviewers, it seemed hard to find the magic at all.
Me? I liked it better than any of her other books -- and that's saying something
One of our favorite audiobook series is The Ladies #1 Detective Agency series. We love the voice. We love the flow of the book on audio. We love that we can listen to it together in the car and yell "97%" or "That is well-known, Mma" before the reader. It's fun. It's light. It's interesting.
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon is the most recent installation in this series and wonderful things happen. I will admit to being a little afraid that this was going to be the last book in the series because when wonderful things happen to characters in a long-running series, it's a good time to let them go... I don't think that's what is happening, now that I've finished the book. But it was a little scary there for awhile and if it turns out that this was the last book in the series, I won't be disappointed, either. Everything is as it should be in Botswana.
I'm cheating a little here. I'm recommending all five of the Squish books that I've read. They are cute little graphic novels, for children. Very cute. Very clever. Very funny. They also have drawing prompts and small science experiments at the end. Don't be a graphic novel snob. Buy these or check them out at the library and share them with your kids. They've love them and so will you. (For those of you who are familiar with Babymouse -- same author!)
I called 2013 "the year of Maisie Dobbs" because that's the year I discovered this series and that's when my fixation on all things Maisie began. This is another book that we started in print and moved to audio -- because we don't like to fight over who reads the next book FIRST and risk spoilers because one forgets theother hasn't read it. This isn't a fun, light series. Maisie can be dark and depressing and sad. The aftermath of WW1 was like that. As we head closer toward WW2, I'm expecting a lot more depressing things might happen.
Maisie is a solid, strong, female lead who's not a confused and frustrated-by-life 20 something. She's seen a lot. Learned a lot. Lived a lot. She also does a great job of leaning in. We could all learn a thing from Maisie.
This particular installment was one of my favorites. The cartographer and his love. Maisie and her relationship with Maurice and James. The entire story just worked for me. It was pretty near perfect.
Since BlogHer Food '14 is coming (you've bought your ticket, right?) I thought I plucked a Miami travel guide off the shelf at the library, just for fun. I have been to Miami many times but thought it would be nice to see what's new and think about where we might explore, if we find ourselves there a day early or stay a day later.
This was a fairly good travel guide for Miami (and the Keys) -- I didn't see any glaring omissions, based on my own knowledge of the area. I also didn't see anything that made me roll my eyes and it was nice to daydream about the heat in Miami while I was dealing with the polar vortex in Chicagoland.
I have a bit of a love/hate with Emma Donoghue. Sometimes I love her. Sometimes I hate her. The Sealed Letter was excellent, (though I found myself scratching my head at the portrayal of Emily Faithfull -- sure, we can all be fools for love but... I'm not buying this particular version of Faithfull.) If you don't know anything about this amazing woman, you probably won't have the same head-scratching moments that I had.
Other than that, the author's fictional account of an infamous London divorce case, from the late 1800s, was well worth reading if only to thank our lucky stars that we aren't in that fine mess.
I'm a Jennifer Crusie fan. I admit it. I like silly chick lit paperbacks. I don't read a lot of them, but I do read them -- usually when I'm in a reading slump or when there's nothing else on the shelf calling my name. Fast Women was a fun read. Take it to the beach. Or go soak in a nice hot bath. Be prepared to crave hot fudge sundaes, though -- that's what happened to me.
I've read quite a lot of Karen White's books, including The Beach Trees (which was a BlogHer Bookclub pick a couple of years ago) and I usually like them. But, I'm also from Charleston, SC and very picky about books set in my home town. Get one little thing wrong and you lose me for the rest of the book... so it was with some trepidation that I picked up The House on Tradd Street.
Karen White got it right and I found myself immediately reserving the next book in the series (and the one after that and the one after that and also the one after that.) This is a light-weight chick lit mystery. Ghosts, ghosts, and more ghosts -- duh, it's Charleston, the whole city is haunted. Lots of fun renovation tales and all of the restaurants mentioned in the book -- they're real and they're fabulous. Go to Charleston. Eat in those places. Take this series along on your vacation to The Holy City and have fun.
I could swear Dead Set is a young adult fantasy novel but the cover tells me otherwise -- probably because of the language? Maybe? There's a lot of language. Richard Kadrey is brilliant. (His Sandman Slim series is one of my all-time favorites, which is how I discovered Dead Set and decided to give it a try.)
Death, demons, sarcastic humor -- Richard Kadrey is the king of all three and the characters in Dead Set are really creepy -- even the non-demons, non-dead, "normal" people. I love them all.
You never know what you're going to get with a book translated from another language, to English. It's either going to be really amazing or not so great. This one -- pretty amazing. It's a little slow in spots but the storytelling is beautiful and you can let your imagination run a bit while exploring the lives of the cursed Laguna women.
The only problem I had with this book is it seemed like the middle moved too quickly while the middle and end took their sweet storytelling time. I'd have liked fewer Laguna daughters or a longer book, I think.
That's my ten, from January 2014 -- what have you been reading that we should all know about?
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