I believe the answer is yes. The past couple months haven’t been kind to the world, nor has my book reading been the most enjoyable. Conspiracy? Well, I’m not Alex Jones, so put me firmly in the coincidence camp. At the same time, me no likey. Mystery/thriller is my go-to genre but maybe, just maybe, I read too many of them. So this month I tried to add a couple of different genres to see if that helped.
The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed this Month
Another month and lots of books read, some loved and liked and none loathed.
The Books I Loved
The books that remind me why I love to read.
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
Book Description: Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other.
Book Review: Wow. She did it again. Half the time I was pumping my fist and nodding my head at all her insights. The other half? I was uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable with all the truth bombs she was dropping on me. Again. And I love it. Because it is nice to be validated but even more important to grow and expand. To shine a light on all those dark spots inside of us, which seem to be expanding these days. This book is so timely and I recommend it to everyone who feels a little lost, a little scared and a little alone.
To Read or Not To Read: YES. If I could, I would give a copy to every single person I meet because we all need to both learn how to stand strong with ourselves and with others, even those (especially those) who think and feel differently than we do.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Book Description: The now retired Sherlock Holmes meets an orphaned teen whose intellect and deductive abilities rival his own abilities.
Book Review: I love me some Sherlock Holmes, which means that reading different takes on him is nerve-wracking because I take it personally when I don’t like how they portray Holmes. Weird, but true. 😀 Fortunately, I like this older Holmes. One who is still brilliant and difficult with a few softer edges too. And I really like Mary Russell. I like her wit and brains and heart. And I like that Holmes likes all those things about her too and hones those skillsets, rather than feel threatened by them.
To Read or Not To Read: It’s elementary, my dear readers: those who love historical mysteries (and Sherlock Holmes) will enjoy this book and series.
The Books I Liked
These are the books that I liked from most liked to liked.
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
Book Description: A serial killer ensnares Inspector Harry Hole in his twisted web of revenge.
Book Review: I caught a trailer for the upcoming movie based on this book and thought it looked like a good thriller. Plus, I like Michael Fassbender. 😀 One of the librarians told me Nesbo’s books are very popular and now I understand why. It’s a fast-paced read with one freaky deeky serial killer. Harry is likeable enough, although quite damaged himself. It’s book #7 in the series and now I have to go back and start at the beginning (I started here because of the upcoming movie, and it will also be interesting to see how they handle the killer’s motive, which is one part warped brain and two parts double standards around the sins of women).
To Read or Not To Read: Yup, especially if you like mysteries where virtually everyone is a little bit messed up.
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Book Description: Ismae faces her toughest task as Death’s assassin when the man she loves is marked for death.
Book Review: I enjoyed this but I must admit a teeny tiny bit of disappointment because when I read “trained at a convent to become an assassin” in the book flap, I automatically assumed it was Hogwarts for Assassins and sadly, it’s not. Basically Ismae arrives at the convent, briefly meets two other girls (who will each have their own book) and we fast forward 3-4 years when she’s now an assassin. I wrongly assumed it would be more fantasy (which is why I chose it) versus historical mystery. Again, I have no regrets reading it and plan to read the remaining two books at some point. Note the book is (549) pages and I feel a little (a lot) bitter that 100 of those pages weren’t used at the convent to show Ismae learning her trade, especially because it did not need to be 549 pages long (at all).
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. It’s a fine pass-the-time book that will keep those who like YA and a little romance happy.
Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb
Book Description: After the murder of a popular gossip columnist, Lt. Eve Dallas uncovers a roster of suspects with secrets worth killing over.
Book Review: It took 45 books for J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) to write an In Death book that I merely found good. It’s not bad but it lacked something and felt a bit flat compared to her previous 44 books. And while I hyperventilated over my lack enthusiasm for her latest book, it’s okay if one book isn’t quite up to snuff after 44 books. But let’s hope it’s not a trend because she switched publishers from Penguin to St. Martin’s and her last two books have been her weakest. Prior to the new publisher, she had a big stretch of excellent books and now I’m back to hyperventilating.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes, but start at the beginning with Naked In Death. And don’t let one meh review for the series scare you. The remaining 44 books range from very good to excellent. 😀 Who am I kidding? It’s not my review that scares you; it’s the 45 books.
The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
Book Description: When a classmate of Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is murdered, her death threatens to expose many secrets, including Woodstock’s.
Book Review: As Shrek once so aptly noted, “Ogres have layers.” And so do people. It is the unraveling of those layers that capture our attention and heart while giving us insight into their nature. When you peel back too many layers at once, they become less fascinating because savoring revelations is what gives character form. And when you give a person a ton of layers to ostensibly make them 3-dimensional and one of those layers/quirks/tropes happens to be one I hate (mild spoiler alert: an affair with no real payoff/growth), then you really, really have your work cut out for you. I don’t mind unlikeable characters, but I still need to feel deeply engaged and connected to the book.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. Bailey certainly shows potential (to lazy to confirm but believe this is her debut novel) and my frustration with the book is more about my distaste around pointless affairs intended to make protagonists damaged and somehow more interesting. Gemma is already flawed and three-dimensional and more real without it.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Dark Lake is now available.
Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler
Book Description: Kidnapped and forced to make a horrible choice, no one believes Dr. Alex Taylor and she fears she’s losing her mind until she meets another victim.
Book Review: An interesting hook that never quite lived up to its potential. Some of the segues confused me a bit because they seemed so different tonally. I wasn’t sure if we were in the past, present or what not. It felt like there was a real solid premise that needed some fleshing out and a good editor.
To Read or Not To Read: Dealer’s choice. It’s a bit rough (writing-wise) but still passed the time okay.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Don’t Wake Up is now available. (Note: Netgalley says the book published on October 5 but Amazon says January 2, 2018. It does appear you can get the audible version now.)
TL;DR – My Recommendations for You
This month I recommend The Beekeeper’s Apprentice to mystery lovers, especially those who like Sherlock Holmes or prefer their murder mysteries less gruesome and violent. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo is for mystery lovers who do like their stories messed up. Or who want to read the book before the movie comes out later this month. I am a ride and die In Death fan, so I will always, always recommend those books. Grave Mercy is a good choice for those who enjoy YA with a little romance.
To More Great Books
Adding some different genres (non-fiction, historical mystery and a fantasy that wasn’t a fantasy) did help me a bit this month, so I will continue to switch things up. At the same time, I have come to the conclusion that many of my “meh” books lately are netgalley books. So I’m putting a moratorium on requesting new books that I am unfamiliar with the author for now. It feels a bit harsh because netgalley has definitely introduced me to some great new authors too, but reading has always been my favorite past-time and now it’s become work. I struggle to DNF any book but especially netgalley books. Thankfully, I only have two netgalley books in my queue for next month and both hail from authors I trust.
What books did you love in September?