Hey, I had to mark this 2011 'cause I had an October Reads blog post LAST year! That was a fast year!!!
This month was nothing but entertainment. I learned nothing from my reading, I didn't come to any great epiphanies based on the books I chose... pure entertainment! Loved it!!! Here we go...
Heat Rises, by Richard Castle - The third book in a series of books NOT written by Nathan Fillion, I enjoyed this one immensely. Nikki faces down a crooked contractor, a series of hit men, and a notorious drug lord, all with great style and ease (I hear music in my head... LOL!). I've converted TWO people that I know of into Castle fans, and they're reading the books, too! I send my copies to Suzanne in AZ (hi, Suzanne!) and she enjoys them as much as I do!
Miracle Cure, by Harlan Coben - There's nothing new, right? This is a rereleased book, originally written in 1991, it's the story of doctors searching for a cure for AIDS, prior to it becoming such a widespread epidemic. He addresses the early views that it was a homosexual disease only, and comes up with a nice way to bring the danger of heterosexual AIDS transmission to the forefront of the story, if one can call anything about that disease "nice." Coben wraps up the story easily, and I enjoyed a glimpse into his early writing.
Bonnie, by Iris Johansen - Eve found her daughter, Bonnie. She had been kidnapped and apparently murdered many years before, and Eve has been searching for her all along, and that search was the basis for novel after novel. I'm so happy it was resolved but I truly hope Bonnie continues to appear to Eve in future stories. I love these characters and I'd hate to have this end their crime-solving just 'cause they found Bonnie.
The Christmas Wedding, by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo - This is another of his non-Alex Cross novels, very different from his usual crime fair. Gaby is getting married, to one of the three men who asked her. And she invites her children all back to the family home to see her get married on Christmas Day but she doesn't tell them who the lucky groom is. In fact, the groom doesn't know himself! Patterson brings each of the kids home, complete with their own personal baggage, and of course, since this is a wedding story, it all gets solved, neatly and tidily, but not disappointingly, by the time the wedding rolls around. This was a lovely, innocent, quick, fun read.
Hometown Girl, by Mariah Stewart - Another in The Chesapeake Diaries series, Brooke comes home to build a new life for herself and for her child, after her husband is killed in Iraq. She has no intention of falling in love, but of course, she becomes friends with Jesse and does. Fall in love, that is! This is another book written purely for enjoyment, a lovely innocent love story.
Only His, by Susan Mallery - Nevada is one of triplet sisters, the only one not engaged and getting married. We can't have that, can we?!? Of course she meets up with an ex-flame (NOT) and they wind up together again. She's a fun character, a strong woman in a man's career, and this was a fun story. Don't worry - there are three weddings by the end of the book!
Much of September and October was spent reading the first book below for my online 19th century novels group. I read this one to make up for having passed on reading Moby Dick. I'm not sure which is more punishing. The others were palate cleansers after Bronte.
Villette by Charlotte Bronte I hated this book. Okay, maybe hate is strong. Intensely disliked. That's no reflection on our book group moderator, who selected it. In fact, Villette generated a lot of discussion because people either liked it or hated it, so from a discussion standpoint, it was a great choice. Lucy Snowe was whiny, narrow-mined, superstitious, tractable, and liked to wallow in self pity. When I compare this novel to Jane Eyre, I find it difficult to believe they were written by the same author. This reads to me like someone’s first effort at a Gothic romance, written by an inexperienced teenager who pays no attention to consistency and is rather too fond of coincidences. For all my dislike of Rochester as a character, Jane Eyre as a novel is far more sophisticated in plot, characterization, and believability (can I use that made-up word?). And apparently one misses way too much if one reads a version without all the French translated (which was my fault, I admit). But I give Bronte her due--she has a way with descriptions of places and people, and I enjoyed that part of the novel.
The Love Talker by Barbara Michaels What better choice for my first Kindle library loan than one by my favorite author? And unbelievably, except for a few descriptive paragraphs, you would never have believed this was published in 1980; the story holds up that well. The romantic denouement may have been a little predictable, but I forgive Dr. Mertz that for her superb descriptions of a wintry Maryland night. I was shivering under my covers.
The Ninth Daughter by Barbara Hamilton First in a mystery series starring one of America's brightest first ladies, Abigail Adams. The Revolutionary War is one of the most interesting time periods in American history to me, and this novel takes place just before the famous Boston Tea Party. It reads as if Ms. Hamilton has done a beaucoup load of research into the time period, and I enjoyed it immensely, despite the slightly grim murder. I will join Abigail for more murderous adventures, I assure you. The Revolutionary War backdrop will be fascinating.
A Test of Will by Charles Todd My last venture, for a while at least, into mysteries centered around World War I. This novel is the first in this series that has many entries, and I had read good reviews of it. First, the pros: very well written, very well researched, and what a complicated main character. Cons: the plot device of Hamish? Meh. He got very old, very fast, after the first few chapters, and I was pleased that he seemed to recede a bit as the story, and Ian's interest and involvement in the case, deepened.
Mrs. Amworth and How Fear Departed from the Long Gallery by E.F. Benson Halloween reads of short ghost stories written by my other favorite author. Evil dead baby twins! Vampires! Loved them. No one has a way with words like Fred.
A Midsummer Night's Scream by Jill Churchill I needed some DVDs to listen to while I was making the daily drive on an out-of-town project for work. I knew there were a bunch of these books at the library by this author, I saw this one on DVD and thought why not? I enjoy a cosy mystery as much as the next cosy mystery buff. Not this one. Stilted conversations between the characters, a no-dimension love story, and why do we have to wait until Chapter 13 to find out whether our main character is a widow or divorced? There may be a lot of these Jane Jeffrey mysteries, but I'll pass them by, thank you. Oh, and audio book publishers? If your main character is supposed to be a big mystery genre fan, then make sure your paid reader pronounces well known real live authors' names correctly. It's pronounced Nye-oh, not En-gay-oh, Marsh. About a thousand websites will tell you this.
The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffths Number 3 in the Ruth Galloway series begins with the birth of Ruth's daughter, Kate. There may be no more unmaternal mother who is not a psychopathic killer than Ruth, but that's not a criticism. Griffiths did a nice job over the last novel and this one of addressing Ruth's sometimes scattered reactions to becoming a mother at 40. This novel begins with the discovery of 6 WWII-era skeletons on a deserted and eroding shoreline, which prompts modern murders in an attempt to keep Ruth and Harry from discovering what happened all those years ago. My impressions: too neat an ending with the 'voice from beyond the grave' cementing our unmasking of the original murderer. I am tired, so so tired, of the angst that both Ruth and Harry have over their one night stand, which resulted in Kate. And then another one, here? And then, just because of her one-night stand and the knowledge that Judy is keeping an eye on her daughter, the pages and pages of crazed worry about her daughter are virtually forgotten and Ruth wants to stay at the snowbound Sea's End and play house with Harry? I cheered when Tatjana told Ruth off for her behavior, that's how tired of the whinging I was. No, Harry, you cannot have both the beautiful and sexy wife and the once-a-year one night stand with a brainy woman you feel an intellectual as well as passionate yet confusing attraction to. It's not even as if they are enduring soul searching philosophical wrestling over whether an extramarital affair is moral--both think it's wrong. Yet they can't help themselves. Please, I am over this kind of nonsense. You're both adults, act like it. But again, like in earlier novels, I think Griffiths does a great job of crafting the setting, the lonely, wind-swept beach, the crumbling cliff face. But her characters are just not that sympathetic to me. I liked Judy in the last novel. This time, nope, I didn't. The commitment issues that all Griffith's characters apparently must have is boring after a bit. Next book it'll be Clough unsure of his relationship with Trace who finds someone to sleep with, a newly married Judy maybe? Or, here's a twist--Cathbad? Can we have more mystery and less internal angst? Although I'm glad Michelle has had her eyes opened as the book ended, I'm not sure I'll read the next to see her reaction. I just don't care about these characters.