I have already reviewed two of the books I read this month, so this post will focus on the other January books. Two were successful, two were not. Let's begin with the good books.
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff What a fanstastic book! It details the accidental crash of an Army plane in Dutch New Guinea during World War II. With an exhausting attention to detail that other authors should envy (ahem, W.C. Jameson from December, I'm looking at you), copious notes, survivor interviews, newspaper and film footage research, this book is a great example of investigative narration. The author's treatment of the indigenous population was exemplary. As it turns out, my friend Debbie was reading this same book at the same time, and although our tastes are usually quite different, we both loved it (despite reading it on our smartphones). If you enjoy books about history, World War II, tropical exploration, survivor stories, heck, if you just like a good yarn, especially when it's real, rad this book. Highly recommended.
The House of Worth by the Litchfield Historical Society I love historical costumes, and this catalog for a recent exhibit at the Litchfield Historical Society is a lovely book. It includes entertaining essays that introduce the women who were sent the haute couture sketches by the House of Worth as well as a brief biography of the house. My only objection: I was reading this on my Kindle Voyage, and the illustrations were not formatted for this presentation. Every single dress was cut up into multiple pieces that were shuffled like some strange Picasso sketch. Read this on your laptop or tablet. (Net Galley)
And now for the badies. I rarely give up on book. It has to be pretty bad on some basic level to make me give up on it. These two managed that.
Unleashed by Emily Kimelman I didn't care about the language (much rougher than mine but not much worse than my own sister's often potty mouth). I thought the circumstances that open the book--how the main character lost her job--were funny and familiar to anyone who has ever worked in the food service or retail industries. But the author described the main character's newly acquired dog with the same exact same words just pages apart; a minor annoyance, but I guess I just wasn't in the mood for it. I may give this one another go (I need something to read during my lunch break and this is on my smartphone).
Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs I had literally just read a review of this series in the Mystery Reader's Journal that praised the series before I started it, so I went in with high expectations. I enjoyed the first scene--heroine lets dog out, dogs wriggles out of yard and poops in neighbor's yard, heroin meets hunky neighbor. But, c'mon--she owns a pastry shop and she's not there at 3 a.m., baking? Just one person, her friend and coworker, is? Not any bakery I've frequented and given my love of all things sweet and flaky, that's a lot of bakeries. She wears stiletto heels and she's on her feet all day (and this is supposed to make me think she's a successful business woman)? I might have forgiven that stupidity on the character's part as part of her character (vanity, by the way, is not generally a likable quality in my estimation). What I couldn't forgive was this: hunky neighbor turns out to be policeman (believable) investigating the murder of heroine's ex (believable) who says to her "of course I don't think you did it" three minutes after interrogating her. Based on meeting her picking up poop, or just because he's got the hots for her? And when Lexy admits the breakup with her ex was not amicable, does he pursue it? Nope, he shuts his notebook and drops that line of questioning. And then, then--"Jack reached across the table resting his hand over hers." ARGH!!! Police harassment! Police intimidation! Does the author know what the words 'unprofessional behavior' mean? That was it. I shut the book. Look, I get some people like romance more than mystery, and this is clearly aimed at that reading populace, but in the light of how many cop shows there are n television, I think even the sappiest reader would question a cop who acts like a randy baboon rather than a highly-trained professional investigating a murder. Sorry, but I can't recommend this in good conscious to anyone who likes their fiction to even sort of resemble reality.