Yes, that's a supremely bad post title....I was channelling my inner elementary librarian.
1. Burn Me Deadly, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - ok, so I didn't wait to read more of the Eddie Lacrosse books. It helps that they are all short (less than 10 hours, with a slow reader that allows me to speed them up to listen at 1.25x speed). They remind me quite a bit of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books....short, lighthearted, fun reads that are well written enough to make you feel like you aren't reading junk. (I mean that as a big compliment.) I found that once I got started with them, I just couldn't stop! This may be a series that I eventually have to buy for myself.
2. Sweet Grace: A Weight Loss Memoir, How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor, Teresa Sheilds Parker - Full disclosure, Parker and I see the same allergist, which is how I first heard about her book. In fact, Parker has the exact same yeast allergy that is the bane of my existence. So here's the thing...I am a Christian. In fact, I'm an ordained member of the priesthood in my denomination. But. I do not enjoy overtly Christian literature/art/music/etc, as my own faith is a much quieter, more personal faith. I find more of religious truth in secular works because to me they feel more honest. I say all of this because Parker very much is someone who does live her faith in a much more open way, and so the focus of her book is more on her faith than on her health. (She also has a very long history of writing and publishing various Christian publications...this is her calling, and I admire and respect that.) While on the one hand its awesome to read about someone who understands food like I do, and who really gets the addiction thing (and a special shout out to my allergist, who plays a key part in the book!), I really wish there had been less of an emphasis on the religious side of things. I really, really dislike being preached to in such a way. She did reference a couple of health books in there that I will be looking up, though, and that's always good.
3. Dark Jenny, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - Can't stop! Too much fun! Dark Jenny is Bledsoe's take on King Arthur, and my oh my was it ever fun! I'm not generally a fan of satire or spoof books, and so I'm kind of surprised I enjoyed it...even in the framework of Bledsoe's Eddie LaCrosse genre-mixing books.
4. Wake of the Bloody Angel, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - Eddie LaCrosse takes on pirates. Honestly...not my favorite. The grand problem of fantasy books that take place on the sea is that sea travel of that sort necessitates a lot of down time.
5. Written In My Own Heart's Blood, Diana Gabaldon - Confession, I only read about 1/3 of the book when it first came out...even though I went ahead and listed it as a finished book that month. (Whoops!) I had intended to get it done that month, but it just didn't happen. As I believe I said at the time, Gabaldon doesn't waste time coddling readers with a lot of reminders about who and what is going on in her books. While I commend her for this (too much exposition being a huge annoyance of mine with certain writers of giant, multi-book epics), I did find it pretty tough to become fully invested in this one. (When I read the series originally, I read through straight through all seven books in less than 2 months...which makes it kind of like reading one gigantic, almost 7,000 page book.) All of the press on the Outlander TV show - which I'm sadly not watching as I don't get that station - led me to pick this up again. This time it sucked me in, and I found myself enjoying it immensely....maybe not as much as the earlier books (did it feel like a string of random to anyone else, too? like there wasn't a central plot tying it all together?) My only complaint...the book really bogged down for me with Roger and Brianna. Usually I like them every bit as much as I like Jamie and Clair, but this time around their portions of the book were a bit of a slog.
6. He Drank, and Saw the Spider, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - The last one. Sad. (Because there are no more.) This might have actually been my favorite of all of them - even though I saw the conclusion coming from a mile away. I love that the female characters in these books are so amazing, and don't tend to fall into horrid fantasy stereotypes. I love that this book made me laugh out loud and was so much fun I had trouble putting it down. I already loved Bledsoe because of his brilliant Tufa books...now I just love him as a writer.
7. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel - Every once in a while both hosts on Books on the Nightstand recommend the same book in the final section of their podcast...and when they do I take notice because those books tend to be something special. I almost never buy books as soon as they are released...but this one I read within 24 hours of it hitting the shelves. It's got a fairly simple premise...a pandemic flu basically wipes out most of humanity in the blink of an eye, and this is what happens afterwords. I find myself at a bit of a loss as to what to say about Station Eleven. Yes, I enjoyed it. The language is beautiful and as a character study it's exquisite. The plot perhaps takes second fiddle, and it's actually quite different from the usual post-apocalyptic novel. I was left perhaps wanting a little bit more....more plot, more intensity...but I still recommend it highly.
8. The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell - OK, so the Bledsoe books are super-fun and super-quick and tend to be popcorn filler. That's kind of awesome in a way because it leaves me free to devote some of my reading time to weightier tomes. At 600 some odd pages, this fits the bill nicely. Besides, it's one of two books long-listed for the Booker prize that cross over into the fantasy genre. I'm writing this up the morning after I finished The Bone Clocks, and I find that I could write pages and pages about my reading experience with this book. I'll try to be brief. First, I will be buying a hard cover copy asap...I enjoyed it that much. (As you know, I buy hard cover copies only of the books I love most...of those that impact me.) Second, I was having trouble sleeping last night, and the last section scared me so badly that it made it worse. Mitchell's vision of the future is chillingly possible. I don't remember ever being that frightened by a book. Third, I absolutely loved the characters. Every. Single One. Fourth, the time and perspective jumps were amazingly well done. While I disagree with others' assessment that it's basically a collection of different novels strung together, I applaud Mitchell's ability to so completely capture such wildly different voices. It was a lot of fun to see the connections between each section, to start to put them together as the book progressed. Fifth, Mitchell is very clever and his 'in jokes' really made me laugh, even not having read any of his other work. Sixth, I now want to read everything he ever wrote. The Bone Clocks is going to sit with me for a long, long while. I'm glad I really took my time with this book...and I plan on reading it again in a few years.
9. Dragon Keeper, Robin Hobb (audio) - Robin Hobb is one of my favorite epic fantasy writers, and this partiuclar book is the first in a series of four books that are a follow-up to her Live Ship series. I do really enjoy Hobb's work. Surprisingly enough, it translates well into audio.
10. My Real Children, Jo Walton - I had preordered this book, and yet when it came out this summer I was so busy reading other stuff that I put it off for a long while. To be honest, the first chapter kind of threw me a little bit. I was expecting something other than what I got. (Silly me, Jo Walton has rapidly become one of my favorites. I should have known she wouldn't disappoint!) Truth be told, it rather quickly became apparent that what I was reading was basically the same type of story told by the Gwenyth Paltrow movie, Sliding Doors. What are the possibilities in life if a split second decision/action had happened differently? In that way, it felt a bit derivative...but Walton made up for that in the fact that she made her two different lifetimes considerably longer and more complex than they are in the movie. The end is also more ambiguous. (Which curiously enough doesn't bother me this time.) Brilliant book!
11. The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers - I bought this book from a sale table because it wound up on a gazillion best of lists for last year, despite the fact that (as I've said frequently) I am NOT someone who is into books about modern warfare. That last little tidbit is why it's been sitting in my queue all year long. I decided to finally try it, though, and to my surprise I discovered that it was the rare case of a book about war that had been written by a poet. (Yes, I looked Powers up, and he did hold a fellowship in poetry...which didn't even remotely surprise me.) The language is beautiful, and I think this is probably an important subject. Even then, I only made it about a third of the way through the book before setting it aside. It's just not my cup of tea. I have a super hard time relating to or understanding our modern military machine, and I just couldn't get into it.