Friday, December 28, 2012

End of December books

Once again, I'm behind on my reading list.(Last week's post is misleading, since it had been sitting in draft form for a couple of weeks)

Carla Kelly (both re-reads, on Kindle) Libby's London Merchant and its sequel/companion novel One Good Turn. Libby's London Merchant remains one of my favorite Kelly novels, as the romance proceeds unexpectedly.

Julie Wright, Newport Ladies' Book Club: Olivia. I really liked the central character and her realistic struggles with her marriage; didn't love the book, though.

Emma Jameson, Ice Blue. I liked this mystery enough that I purchased the sequel--the mix of Kate's belligerence and Lord Hetheridge's famous stiff-upper lip makes for an interesting combination.

On my sister's recommendation, I read Lisa Mangum's After Hello, a charming story about Sam and Sara, who spend a memorable 24 hours together in New York. Like Jennifer Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I really admired Mangum's ability to make mundane and not-so mundane incidents of a short period of time seem interesting and dramatic.

I also read Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, which I highly recommend. I keep thinking about it--not just because the characters were interesting, but because her blend of magic and Russian culture make for a fascinating world. Alina Starkov is an orphan in Ravka, a world torn by endless war. As a young woman, she and her best friend Mal are drafted into Ravka's First Army and prepare to cross the Fold, an impenetrable swath of darkness populated by creatures that feed on human flesh. When their convoy is attacked, Alina unleashes an unexpected power. Before she can process what's happening, she is swept up by the Darkling and installed in the Little Palace, where she's trained as a Grisha, a member of Ravka's elite Second Army. The Darkling believes that she may be the answer to ending Ravka's endless wars and destroying the Fold. I don't want to say too much more, but I really loved Bardugo's world. Her writing was clean, and the story had a number of unexpected moments, which I enjoyed, and the conclusion continually surprised me.

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