Back in February you all were kind enough to make recs on how I could spend my money at the book store, from which I built an instant TBR and proceeded to demolish it.
Work kept me from sitting down and writing up a post on the books, and then I hesitated as I wasn't sure how to write about the ones I didn't care for. There are some personal and professional considerations involved. Also, it's impossible to like every book friends recommend because of our individual preferences and buttons, but it's always good to try something new even if it's not your cup of tea. Although I didn't care for every book, I was glad I read all of them.
The other thing is that authors and editors are still actively hitting me up for quotes. I retired from quoting a couple years ago after the situation got entirely out of hand. Industry pros, please note that nothing I write on PBW can be used as a quote for a published novel by any author or author's agent, editor, publicist and so forth. This has nothing to do with the books or the authors; it's to save my sanity. Also, thank you in advance for not harassing me about it.
Here's the first half of my book reports:
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews -- This is the only book I don't want to comment on extensively for reasons best left unspecified. It's a good debut book; if you liked the Anita Blake books before all the ardeur descended you'll probably enjoy this one. The authors should do very well on the market. [Note: if you recommended this one to me and you want to talk about it privately via e-mail, shoot me a note and I'll elaborate.]
The Woods by Harlan Coben -- The author is a gifted writer, and that hasn't changed. I love what he does with brevity. The magic of his dialogue alone is worth the read. This is a twisty page-turner, and you probably shouldn't start it at midnight unless you're an insomniac. The only problem I had with this book is that I felt his gender depictions were out of balance; in his work he often comes across to me as very unforgiving of his female characters and it was very noticeable this time around. I know the character perspective of a male writer can be completely opposite that of a female writer, but when the majority of your female characters are villainized in some form or another, and the majority of your male characters basically serve as their unsuspecting Mary Sueish victims, you're not characterizing as much as you're ax-grinding at the gender wheel. Aside from this, and one story element that was left unresolved at the end, it's an excellent read and suspenseful with a capital S.
Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione -- liked it so much I gave away a bunch of copies back in February. I can't wait to see what Larissa comes up with next.
My Wicked Enemy by Carolyn Jewel -- excellent world-building, great characters, skillful pacing. Very hot. Not your usual paranormal romance fare here, either. There were some segues and characterization elements I would have liked to have seen handled differently, but I think that's a style difference between us as writers versus actual story flaws. Grand Central is really building a nice list of talented authors in this genre.
Scandal by Carolyn Jewel -- I didn't like this one as much as her paranormal (and I'm probably still burned out on historical romances, so put that on me) but it's a fine read, well-written and also shows that the author has range.
DarkFever by Karen Marie Moning -- An interesting book. I didn't like the protagonist at all at first, and then she grew on me. Same thing with the plot; I thought it might be another dull derivative cloner, and then it perked up. If you like the Meredith Gentry books but you're tired of how that series is going, this would be a good one to check out. I bought the next two books on faith that they'd be just as well-written, although I was a little ticked to see the third already got bumped up to hardcover. I'd like to see series that start off in paperback stay in paperback for the sake of the readers who can't afford hardcovers, but this is yet another reason why they'll never let me run Publishing. [Note: everyone who accuses me of not writing romance should read this one, then come talk to me about how I don't put enough romance in my books.]
The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark -- beautiful book, both to look at and read (I love the gorgeous end papers.) Adored the setting, the story, and the characters. A bit like Umberto Eco meets Dan Brown, but much friendlier and more approachable. I needed this, frankly; I've hit a run of bad straight historical fiction lately and I was beginning to despair. It's a book that will appeal to the lit-heads and genre readers, which is a tough thing to pull off. Don't read if you're struggling with a diet. Very well done. Headed for my keeper shelf.
Delicious by Sherry Thomas -- Pretty writing, and an ambitious tone, but decidedly unlikeable characters (and I usually like unlikeable characters, so to put me off takes some doing.) My dad is a chef, so I know a bit about fine cuisine as well as the reality of creating it, and I think that's why the whole food-sex fantasy aspect of the story didn't work for me. I also kept getting mired down in the story timeline juggling as well as some structure problems, but I probably noticed them more because I stopped reading the book for pleasure after about page twenty. It's not a bad book, though, and will likely appeal to the Laura Kinsale/Judith Ivory/Amy Tan lovers. I'd also like to come back to this author after she's written a few more books and I'm not so burned out on historical romances.
Thanks to everyone who recommended these books to me. The second half of my book reports will be up later this week, as soon as I have time to compose them, so stay tuned.