I have to admit that, at this point, I’m mostly reading the Dresden Files out of a combination of inertia and completism. The sheen and new car smell have been rubbed off by the criticism Butcher has received about the sexism of his main character (which I disagree with) and the racist portrayals of people of color in the universe as a whole (which I agree with).
This book, at least, is about some of Harry’s deals with the devil (so to speak) coming back to bite him, and his having to come up with a way to honor his deal without aiding and abetting a Major Evil Bad Guy from getting something he really wants. I found myself enjoying the parts wherein Harry interacts with friends and allies (Mouse, Molly, Butters, etc.) more than I did Harry’s typical quippy, pop-culture filled banter (how has he seen recent movies when he’s been living on an island with no electricity because strong magic messes with technology anyway?). It comes off as Butcher being tickled with himself for his own cleverness; it kind of makes me roll my eyes. Oh, and there’s a telegraphed, fanboy moment, the resolution to which is so obvious I nearly gave up on the book when it turned out exactly as I expected.
Skin Game was better than Ghost Story and Cold Days but only slightly — I leaped at the book when it came out, but it took a night of insomnia for me to finish it for lack of anything better (or quieter) to do.
Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read but packs a punch. It’s about Alice who had sex with two guys at a party… or so they say. Then one of those two guys dies and she’s to blame, according to the word on the street. What’s fantastic about this story about Alice is that she’s not the one telling it. It’s told by four different people (popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt) and their own relationships with the truth. Nothing I’ve told you is beyond what’s in the synopsis but I will say that it’s a book that teens must read and adults can learn from as well. It takes on slut shaming without being preachy, and Alice’s story is intriguing because of how little control she has over it. If I had stars to splurge on this book, I‘d give it five. You can find this book in stores now.
St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan
It’s no secret that I’m a Rainbow Rowell fangirl, whether we’re talking about her YA or adult novels. I have yet to find a book of hers I don’t enjoy and Landline has proven to be a pleasurable read that I couldn’t put down. It’s about Georgie McCool, a TV writer who’s having some trouble in her marriage with husband, Neal. The book takes place days before Christmas, when Neal and the kids go to Omaha without Georgie, who needs to stay in LA for her show. It’s during that time that Georgie finds a magical landline that connects her to her husband’s younger self and uses it to try to fix her marriage. I’m not married, but from what I’ve heard from friends who are, this book does a fantastic job at dealing with the ups and downs between two people in a committed relationship. There are flashback scenes throughout that help readers get a bigger picture of the couple’s relationship. Despite being an adult book, YA fans will enjoy this book as much as her younger titles. The book is available in stores now.
This may have been my favorite of these guilty pleasure books (I swear I’ll read some other stuff soon). Kresley Cole has created a universe filled with the creatures out of legend, called the Lore, and this book focuses on the love story between Lothaire, a centuries old vampire, and Elizabeth, an innocent young woman from the Appalachian mountains.
Although Lothaire is evil, and Elizabeth is possessed by a goddess of death and is on Death Row.
Lothaire’s actions have been in the background of almost every other book in the series, and this is where it all goes down. Elizabeth was just a normal girl growing up in the Appalachian Mountains until she begins to black out during her freshman year of college. Each time she wakes, she is covered in blood and there are dead bodies. Her family attempts to have Elizabeth exorcised, resulting in more death, and that’s when Lothaire makes his entrance. He believes Saroya, the evil presence possessing Elizabeth is his Bride, the mystically fated mate that most creatures of the Lore find once in their long lifetimes. Lothaire saves Elizabeth from Death Row intending to cast out her soul and allow Saroya to take possession of her body.
It’s really the focus on Lothaire’s evil that wooed me. He is completely, unashamedly evil, and somehow Cole made that pretty hot. Both he and Elizabeth are really unconventional protagonists, especially as a couple. Cole still hammers at the ‘fated mate’ trope but this book felt more firmly set in the modern world than the others in the series. Elizabeth faces real consequences as the result of Saroya’s actions, and her turmoil at being thrust into this crazy world of immortal creatures came across really well. Lothaire does terrible things and just is not sorry, until he starts to see the effects his actions and words have. There’s lots of steamy vampire sex, (Fangs! Blood! Frottage!) and some serious character development.
Three Rivers Press
Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in or that you’re just plain awkward? Have you ever attempted to be “casual” and just come off more strange (and maybe slightly psychotic) than before? It’s all ok, because Sara Barron is here to make you laugh and feel better about yourself. No matter how bad the situation you’re in, Sara Barron has probably been in a worse one. Have you rented a room from a slightly unhinged diabetic woman who makes you give her baths? Sara has. Do you have uncontrollable farting? Sara does. But she lives (and laughs) through it all.
I really enjoyed Sara’s style of humour. It was a little crude at times but it was honest. The situations she found herself in were often extreme, but never so out there that they were unbelievable. This is partially because she always took the time to show the progression of how things went from a little awkward and weird to full out bizarre. Her exaggerated, sarcastic view of her own life at times reminded me of Augusten Burroughs (one of my favourite comedic writers). If you ever need a good laugh (or a reminder that you haven’t hit rock bottom quite yet), I recommend that you read this collection of essays.
Little Brown Books
Mlle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is more than just a finishing school. Not only does it teach girls proper etiquette, it also trains them to be high class spies. And Sophronia Temminnick is its newest student. Spinning out of the world of the Parasol Protectorate, Etiquette and and Espionage is a funny, steampunk romp filled with adventure, vampires, weird inventions, and lots of danger. Because this is a Young Adult book, and the Parasol Protectorate is for adults, one can assume the intention of this series was to welcome new fans into the world Carriger has spent years creating. And it almost works. The plot is simple and easy to follow and the pacing is smooth and quick. However, I think those who haven’t read the earlier series will find the world building lacking in Etiquette and Espionage. The novel drops you right into the story with little explanation and first-timers may initially find it confusing. So, if you’ve already read and loved The Parasol Protectorate, Etiquette and Espionage is a fun way for the series to live on. Otherwise I recommend going back and reading Carriger’s earlier books first. You’ll get more out of the experience if you do.