WHAT I FINISHED
1. My re-read of the Hunger Games series with the last two books.
2. Nuts by Alice Clayton. It was all right, but not nearly as funny as I wanted it to be. I won't bother reading the rest of the series, and I'm pretty sure she's not an author I'll pick up again since she mostly writes humorous stories and it's obvious our humor styles don't mesh.
3. Her Hesitant Heart by Carla Kelly: A gentle western romance with very likeable characters, but the ending dragged on way too long and was telegraphed way too early to have much of an impact.
4. The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close: Contemporary fiction about a young couple who move to DC after the husband gets involved in the Obama campaign. I only finished it because it was extremely fast reading, and partially because I wondered if it would ever develop a point, but this was awful. The people were awful, it had no real plot, and I just wanted everybody to stop their damn whining.
5. A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade by Kevin Brockmeier: The memoir of what it was like in 7th grade in the 80s. I knew what I was getting into from the subject matter, but no matter how interesting his writing might have been, it was very hard for me to stomach reading about mean 12 y/o boys.
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: New School Nightmare by Carolyn Nowak: A kid's graphic novel that rewrites Buffy in middle school in Cleveland. Her friends are different, and the story was kind of cute but it was a little disconcerting to read about her being 12 years old. Still, worth it from a fan. Especially to hear her call it living on a "Heckmouth."
7. Wild Ride by Jayne Rylon: The first in an m/m/f biker series. I love menage erotic romance, but it's so hard to find ones that really play into my likes. I had high hopes for this one because a) the men are both bi, and b) it was multi-cultural. Plus, it didn't seem afraid to tackle a more difficult topic. But this wasn't enough to interest me in any more of the series. The characters were fine, and some of the sex was hot, but the pacing REALLY dragged.
8. The One Man by Andrew Gross: WWII thriller that plays a little fast and loose with history to tell the story of a Polish Jew who escaped to the US, who gets approached to break into Auschwitz and rescue a man the Americans believe is the only one who can help them win the nuclear race that will end the war. The action on this was very good, which made it compulsively readable, though it really demands a high suspension of disbelief. I found myself sick to my stomach for more than half the story, however, because of its graphic nature in the camps and the sense of foreboding about what was to come. More than once, I wanted to quit because I wasn't sure I'd be able to deal with the ending. I didn't, but I can't say it was necessarily worth it in the end.
9. A Light Amongst Shadows by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood: A YA LGBT historical ghost story about a pair of boys in a lesser all-boys school in mid-19th century England who fall in love and try to solve the disappearance of one of their friends. I don't normally do YA, but the blurb and reviews were promising. The first half dragged, but it picked up about halfway through when the ghost story aspect really kicked in. My problem was with the romance between the boys. I grew to hate their use of epithets (they were constantly calling each other sweetheart, CONSTANTLY), and I can't say that I really believed in their longevity, which was core for the final couple chapters. There's more with these characters, but I won't be continuing on.
DID NOT FINISH
1. Submergence by J.M. Ledgard: I was expecting a story about two characters reliving their romance while under stressful circumstances, but I didn't get very far into it because it opened on the hero and his stream of consciousness as he's being held prisoner in the Middle East. I wasn't nearly as enamored by the prose as the reviews said I was going to be, and when nothing happened for far too long, I gave up.
2. You Only Live Once by Haris Orkin: A humorous take on spy novels about a psychiatric patient who thinks he's a spy who breaks out. The author is a head hopper and the writing was too juvenile. Pass.
3. Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters: An alternate history novel where the Civil War never happened and slavery is still alive in today's society. I love interesting takes on alternate histories, but they have to make sense for them to work. I stopped reading this because I never bought into the idea that the rest of the world - that condemns slavery - would have allowed it to continue in the US at all. They also refuse to trade with the US - which is understandable - but the US still manages to somehow both stay intact and not devolve into a 3rd world country. Internal logic needs to make sense for these kinds of stories. Pass.
4. The Woman on Retford Drive by Alretha Thomas: A mystery about the death of an abusive husband/father. I gave up on it because there was too much telling/not enough showing, too many typos, a lack of distinct voices, and stilted dialogue. Just awful.
5. We Need New Names by NuViolet Bulawaho: A literary novel about a girl leaving Zimbabwe for America. I didn't get very far into this but that's completely on me. The author chose not to use any quotation marks for a rather dialogue-heavy introduction, and I just couldn't keep it all straight. My ordered mind needs them.
6. Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth and the Women Who Loved Him by Jennifer Chiaverini: Fictional historical about four of the women surrounding Booth. The writing was too melodramatic for me, and everybody felt very idealized which rubbed me the wrong way. I decided it was probably the wrong time for me to try and read this, considering current American events.
WHAT I'M READING
1. I'm still reading Sandstorm. It's taking forever because it's over 600 pages.
2. Rita Moreno: A Memoir by Rita Moreno: The writing is simplistic, but I'm interested in her life and her time in Hollywood, so I'm sticking with it.
3. Company Town by Madeline Ashby: A cyberpunk novel set on an oil rig off the Canadian coast. A young Vietnamese woman named Hwa is a non-bio-engineered bodyguard who gets hired by family that owns the rig to protect the youngest son and heir. Meanwhile, friends around her keep getting murdered. It's a fascinating premise, and I like the main character, but it was slow to start and easy to set down. Still, I'm 2/3s of the way through so I'll definitely finish it.
4. The Introvert's Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone by Matthew Pollard: Exactly what it sounds like. I thought it might help me with my marketing. So far, I can't say that I disagree very much with his approach, but I guess the proof will be when I try and put some of the principles into play.