Posts Tagged ‘series’

5th January
2014
written by Steph
casehistories

If only ebooks had nice covers...

Given that the site is newly raised from the dead, it somehow seems fitting that my first review is of Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. Not only is the book about a series of decades-old cold cases, it’s also a book I read many moons ago, well before this site ever existed and was one I had long left for dead. As a re-read rearing its zombie head, I probably couldn’t have picked a better book for a reboot if I had been trying. Case Histories is the first in Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series, which, to date, consists of four books. I am previously on the record as having a big girl crush on Atkinson  and loving her non-mystery fiction, and being far more ambivalent (though that might be putting it nicely) about her forays into whodunit fiction. Because I first read this book before I started writing reviews here, I don’t have any in-depth analysis or record of my thoughts on the book then, but I do remember that I was wildly underwhelmed by it and might even go so far as to say I did not like it very much at all. So why read it again if I found it so dull the first time round? Mostly because although I’ve been living under a literary rock for the past 16 months, I still keep up-to-date with some of the book world’s news and I’ve been reading a lot of buzz about my girl Kate’s latest book, Life After Life. I didn’t have a copy of that on hand, but I was able to get access to this and decided to test the waters to see if it was as disappointing as I remembered. (more…)
15th September
2011
written by Steph

As book bloggers, we spend a lot of time talking about all the wonderful ways that the blogosphere has broadened our reading horizons. I can’t tell you the number of wonderful books I have discovered courtesy of fellow bloggers and their rave reviews. BUT. What happens when you pick up a book on a blogger’s recommendation only to find that it’s kind of a stinker? What then? It’s bad enough in real life when someone tells you you’ve gotta read a book and then you don’t care for it, but somehow when this happens in the book blogging world, it seems worse, because you’re publicizing how much you didn’t like the book and are thereby accusing the other blogger of bad taste. So it is with trepidation that I write this review (and maybe that is part of why I’ve been holding off on writing it?)… because The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen, being the first in the Rizolli & Isles series, was a book I never would have picked up on my own, but did so due to a glowing review by a fellow book blogger. Said blogger talked about how the R&I books had become her favorite series and she was just plowing through them because she couldn’t help herself but to read them as fast as was humanly possible. I don’t tend to read a lot of series, and crime thrillers are few and far between on my reading roster, but this blogger was just so effusive that I became curious and decided to give the first book in the series a shot. (more…)
5th May
2011
written by Steph

We all know that I am a Jasper Fforde ffan girl, so I’ll never really have anything bad to say about any of his books. That said, I think it is fair to say that book five in his Thursday Next series, First Among Sequels, was perhaps not my favorite of the batch thus far. And that is, of course, putting it mildly. Of course, a weak Thursday Next book is still better than 95% of most books out there (and funnier to boot), so I don’t want to get all “damning with faint praise”… but really this book was quite a let down for me. I read it nearly two months ago (*gulp*… I am REALLY behind on my book reviews…), and to be honest, I don’t really remember much about it anymore. I know that it involves the fictional version of Thursday going rogue, and her son Friday having a debacle with the pesky ChronoGuard, but that’s about all I’ve got. (more…)
16th November
2010
written by Steph

While Sweden seems wintry and cold in so many ways, the one way in which it seems to be blazing hot is on the crime fiction front. With the insane popularity of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, authors with umlauts (how’s that for the name of a federation?) have never been so well-read. Poor Helene Tursten, may not have any fancy diacritics gussying up her name, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking out her crime novels. I admit that “Detective Inspector Huss” is not necessarily a title that’s going to immediately pique your interest, but just as we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, we should also probably refrain from judging them based on their titles… If you like novels that involve: drugs, sex, explosions, conspiracies, political agendas, and awkward translations, then this is the book for you!  When financial tycoon, Richard von Knecht plummets from his balcony onto the pavement below, all signs point to suicide. But upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that von Knecht didn't jump to his death, he was pushed. Enter Sweden's Violent Crimes division and detective inspector Irene Huss, who begin to look into von Knecht's increasingly suspicious - and dangerous - death. With an itinerant bomber on the loose, clues and suspects are being erased at a frightening pace... The clock is ticking for Irene and colleagues to crack the case, but to do so, they may have to take a few risks... (more…)
7th October
2010
written by Steph

I don't know what an "Anthony Award" is, but I don't think I want one...

Regular readers know that I don’t shy away from writing negative reviews here at S&TI! In fact, some might argue that I actually revel in lampooning the occasional deserving book. I admit that sometimes it’s just a whole lot more fun (and a lot easier) to snark on a book than it is to sing its praises. But I try to only do this if I think a book really deserves it. Dead Until Dark (aka “the first Sookie Stackhouse book”) definitely deserves it. I realize that most of the time when I rag on a book and call it “bad”, I generally talk about how I found the writing uninspiring and/or not very good. But I also realize that my high prose standards are not always appropriate – not ever book strives to read like poetry or transmute words into shimmering gold, and that’s ok. It's not fair for me to lambaste a book for not achieving something it didn’t set out to do. So I will skip my usual diatribe of “this book was not written well” and try to focus on the other things Dead Until Dark does aim to do, and perhaps does not succeed in doing. (more…)
6th September
2010
written by Steph

Tony and I haven’t done a “group read” in a while (in this case “group” = Tony and me… and sometimes our dogs), but when I finally got my hands on a copy of latest YA juggernaut The Hunger Games, we figured there was no book better to read aloud to one another. Given that we shared the reading experience together, we thought we’d gift y’all with a joint review, dialogue style. It’s rather long because we had lots of feelings, so let’s get to it. If you’d prefer, you can listen to the recording of our conversation, which involves more joking and snarking, which I mostly edited out for brevity (seriously!). Choose your own adventure!

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And of course, there are mild spoilers, though we don’t go so far as to break the book down plot point by plot point for you but stay clear if you’ve not read the book yet but are planning to. (more…)
3rd September
2010
written by Steph

Well, I might as well just call this review "A Love Letter to Mary", because I continue to simply adore Laurie King’s Mary Russell series! Have you started them yet? If not, you are missing out, my friends. This is now my go-to series when I’m looking for a fun, comfort read that is guaranteed to soothe me of any worries (reading or otherwise), and one that I indulge in without any kind of guilt. These books are simply a pleasure, and I want everyone to know it. A Letter of Mary picks up a few months after the events of the second book in the series (which I talked about here). Life has become somewhat dull and uninspiring on the work front for Mary and Holmes, so it doesn't take much prompting of consideration for her to accept the request of one Dorothy Ruskin, feisty lady archeologist on leave from Jerusalem, to meet and discuss some matters of a rather sensitive nature. During their meeting, Ruskin gives Russell a remarkably well-preserved piece of papyrus in an exceedingly ornate, jeweled box, the content of which would prove rather earth-shattering if the scroll were ever authenticated. Not soon after leaving their company, Ruskin is struck dead in what appears to be an accidental hit and run, but the signs of which soon seem to point unerringly towards murder. It’s up to Mary and Holmes to determine who – and why – Ruskin was murdered, while Mary also struggles with the decision of what to do with the letter she has been entrusted with. (more…)
22nd July
2010
written by Steph

Please do not let the ugly cover put you off... there is a newer, far cuter cover now available!

After finishing the first Mary Russell novel, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, I immediately put a hold on the second book in the series at my local library (though not before heading to the used bookstore to see if I could pick up a copy of my very own… no such luck, though I don’t blame readers for clutching these books closely to their chests and never letting them out of their sight!). I was jonesing pretty badly for Holmes and Russell’s next adventure, so when I finally had the opportunity to lay my own grubby paws on book two in the series, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, careful and measured reading wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. No, I pretty much tore through this book in a single day, and you know what? I don’t regret it one bit! (Also, I’ve now procured the remaining books in the series, so I can read them at my leisure whenever the desire strikes!) In A Monstrous Regiment of Women, Mary is all grown up and on the cusp of finally receiving her rather sizeable family inheritance. Now a woman, no longer a girl, things have become rather strained between herself and Holmes, as neither can deny the sexuality of the other any longer (though certainly they try). Confused and conflicted by this change in their relationship, Mary pulls away from Holmes, throwing herself into her studies as well as a rekindling a relationship with her old school chum, Veronica Beaconsfield, a friendship which opens Mary’s eyes up to an intoxicating new world. Veronica takes Mary along to a meeting of The New Temple of God, led by the charismatic and compelling Margery Childe, a woman who champions women’s issues in all shapes and forms, and who Mary believes may be mystic. As Mary is slowly drawn into Childe’s inner circle, she discovers that something is horribly amiss: Childe’s most wealthy patronesses have the unfortunate habit of dying in rather gruesome ways… conveniently leaving behind the bulk of their fortunes to The New Temple of God. Still needing her space from Holmes, Mary takes on her very first case of her own, determined to discover what shady dealings are underfoot, but little does she realize in so doing, she puts her own life (and fortune) at stake… (more…)
24th June
2010
written by Steph

One thing that I love about the book blogging world is that it helps me discover so many books that I never would have stumbled across on my own. Laurie R King’s Mary Russell series is definitely an example of this. Prior to blogging I had never heard of these books, even though: a) I love cozy British mysteries that set during the turn of the 20th century (an extremely specific niche, I realize!); and b) the series has been around since the mid-90s, so I had plenty of time to find it on my own. For those who are unfamiliar with the idea behind the series, the premise is that Sherlock Holmes (yes, I do mean THE Sherlock Holmes) has retired to the English countryside where fifteen-year old Mary stumbles upon him (quite literally) while out for a morning walk (with Virgil on hand). Holmes soon realizes that Mary has a rather uncommon mind, one that is nearly as observant and shrewd as his own, and the two soon strike up a friendship. Holmes takes Mary under his wing, tutoring her in the art of detection and setting small tests for her to solve in order to keep her mind sharp. Together they tackle and solve a few innocuous mysteries at hand, but soon the stakes are raised when Holmes is called to consult on a prominent kidnapping case. Even that, however, is but a rudimentary primer for the next conundrum they face… one where their very lives hinge upon them discovering the culprit who lurks in the shadows and is clearly out for blood. (more…)
3rd June
2010
written by Steph

In the June issue of BookPage, I reviewed Ann Brashares' latest novel (the first in a trilogy), My Name is Memory. Fans of Twilight and The Time Traveler's Wife (so... not me! 😉 ) will likely love it to bits, and this one's already on the way to being a big hit.  The film rights for all three books have already ignited a huge studio bidding war, so it's only a matter of time before Memory makes it to a screen near you.  Of course, if you're anything like me, you'll want to read the book first! 😉 You can read a more in-depth review of the book here.

Even more exciting (for me), was the opportunity to read Aimee Bender's newest book, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, and then talk to her about the book.  My interview with her can be read here. It was a real treat to talk to her, as Bender is both charming and intelligent, and it was wonderful to converse with someone who is so creative and has such an interesting perspective on the world.  Obviously I enjoyed the book a good deal, and I look forward to reading more of her back catalog!  Quirky and weird, this was a book that I felt had tons of heart and was brimming with emotion. If you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary, I highly recommend it.
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