WHAT I FINISHED
I finished three of the books I was reading the last time I checked in: The Skeleton Takes a Bow, Shades of Dark, and A Sense of the World. The first two were the second books in their series, with differing effects. I really enjoyed the Skeleton mystery, even more than I did the first book. It's light and charming, and yeah, the mystery is a little pedantic, but I really like the characters a lot. I'm definitely sticking with it. The second was the follow-up to Gabriel's Ghost that I adored so much. This one was working for me, too, but I almost stopped reading 3/4s of the way through because of something the hero did. It got explained, but I was so angry, and frankly the ending was not what I wanted, that I finished it not nearly as excited as I started it. The next book is about a different couple, so I'm going to read it to see how the politics of everything is going to play out, but I won't be looking forward to it very much.
The third book was the history of a blind British traveler at the turn of the 19th century. While it was very readable, about halfway through, it started feeling very samey which is why it took me so long to finish.
I finished two other books, as well as these:
1. As Lie the Dead by Kelly Meding: This is another second book, but it's actually been a few years since I read the first one. I found this when I was reorganizing my TBR pile and moved it up. The series is urban fantasy, where the heroine is a Hunter, kind of a secret police to keep the paranormal creatures in line. In the first book, she is killed and then resurrected in another body, then given three days to solve her own murder or the reincarnation spell wears off. I don't tend to be a fan of urban fantasies that throw every creature under the sun into the mix, but the author's voice really works for me. I like Evy, the heroine, and I'm willing to overlook the author's flaws (world-building is a tad shallow because she's got too much stuff in the mix, and she really needs to do more research on her details if she doesn't want to be called out for it) because she catches me with her storytelling. I've got the third book already in my rotation.
2. Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck: Ohmigod, I almost threw this one at the wall after the end of the first chapter. The story is about a half-Cuban/half-American 19 y/o in Key West in the 30s who becomes Hemingway's maid, and how she fights her attraction to him/his flirting while trying to have a life of her own. Okay, first of all, I'm not a Hemingway fan. I don't like his writing and I have no romantic notions about what he was like as a human being. The author is. In fact, she makes sure the reader knows that before the story starts, and also to assure the reader that the heroine is a piece of fiction. But this had Mary Sue all over it from the beginning. The heroine is beautiful, smart, and wanted by all, and Hemingway is fascinated with her. All she does is blush around him. Even when an American soldier starts expressing interest in her, she can't really break away from the Hemingway thing. If she wanted me to fall in love with Hemingway like everybody else did, she failed miserably. The only character I really liked was the American soldier, and he's literally the only reason I read the thing through. It never improved.
DID NOT FINISH
The only book that goes here is the Brene Brown book I was reading last time. I just couldn't with all the simplicity and platitudes.
WHAT I'M READING
1. Seize the Night edited by Christopher Golden: An anthology of vampire horror stories. Some of them have been amazing. Others not so much. One, "We Are All Monsters Here" by Kelley Armstrong, creeped me out a little with how prescient it was. It's about a college student describing how vampires have started appearing around the world. When they start showing up in the US, places go into lockdown, including her college campus. People protest about their personal freedoms being violated until enough people die that they start paying attending. Then, they sit back until the government finds a solution. Sound familiar?!?
2. Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward: I avoided the Black Dagger Brotherhood series for years because it sounded ridiculous. Last year, I decided I should just read the damn thing because I was tired of not knowing what everybody was talking about. I'm currently on book 6. I don't hate the books, though I agree about how ridiculous they are, but this one is bugging me in particular because of how broken all the men are. It'll feel like cheating when they're magically better because of the love of a good woman. But I need to get these done, even if it takes me forever to do.
3. Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory: The story of a family with varying psychic abilities - the con artist grandfather, the lie detector mom, the telekinetic uncle, the teenaged boy who's just discovering his own powers - and how they are about to get dragged back into the business by skeptics and the Mob. Gregory writes wonderfully unique, funny, authentic characters, and this absolutely shines.
4. If Wishes Were Horses by Joey W. Hill: Hill is one of my autobuy authors, but I have a huge stack of her books that I have yet to read. This one just got pulled out, and I don't know anything about it except that I know it will be hot. Hill never fails in that regard.