Saturday, August 2, 2014

Summer Reading Wrap Up 2014

Summer has rushed by this year. The oldest finished preschool in May and starts kindergarten on Monday. We were able to spend two weeks visiting family and relaxing. We also visited some new places around town. All that travel and having both girls home all day, everyday, meant a bit less time for reading but I still managed to read eight books in June and July.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness - The final book in the All Souls Trilogy wrapped up the story of Diana, a witch, and Matthew, a vampire, very nicely. I thought the story got a bit off track in the second book but Harkness was able to weave connections from that book into this one to create a meaningful context. This trilogy has wonderful characters, great detail in settings and time periods, and social and political conflict wrapped in the realms of science and magic. If you haven't read the first two books in the trilogy yet start with A Discovery of Witches and just keep reading!

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero (advance copy received from Amazon Vine) - This was a unique story told in a variety of formats from letters and journal entries to audio and video transcripts. The format makes it easy to read the book in small sections. The mystery is suitably creepy and interesting and the end came with a twist I certainly did not see coming.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah - This is a book that has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time but I never seemed to be in the mood to read it. As is often the case, I'm happy that I finally picked it up because it was a wonderful story of friendship over the years. Tully and Kate weather many different storms together but can they survive Tully's rise to stardom? Once I started Firefly Lane I didn't want to put it down. I didn't realize that there was more to the story but now I've discovered Fly Away and I want to read that too.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman - I have no interest in watching the series of the same name on Netflix but I read an article referencing the book and decided to get it from the library. I enjoyed the story in part because Kerman keeps events in chronological order without the time skipping often found in memoirs to relate previous events to present circumstances. Kerman was fairly matter of fact about her whole ordeal, however the book lacked depth for me.

Skin Game by Jim Butcher - The fifteenth book in the Dresden Files finds Harry in over his head as Mab uses him in his role of her Winter Knight. As usual, Harry is only told the bare minimum and has to dig deeply under the surface to understand all the political maneuverings happening around him. In this book Harry also comes face to face with many personal problems that impact his ability to carry out his orders. Harry is one of my favorite fictional characters and I'm always waiting for the next book in the series because Butcher delivers consistently entertaining stories.

Only Begotten Daughter by James Morrow - This interesting book tells the story of Julie Katz who has an unusual conception and is thought to be the Daughter of God by her father. Julie struggles with temptations from the Devil, performs the occasional long-distance miracle, and faces persecution from those awaiting the events of Revelation. The horror of mankind's ability to condemn one another is examined along with other issues of faith.

Tales of the Hidden World by Simon R. Green (advance copy from Amazon Vine, available now) - I actually had my husband read this book first because the only Simon R. Green books I've read are the Secret Histories novels and I was unsure if the short stories in this book would tie into any of his other novels. The good news is that this book can be read completely as a stand alone collection of stories. While the first story does connect to the Secret Histories novels it is not necessary to have read them to understand the story. Many of these stories are actually older works that were published early in Green's career. This does show in that the stories seem underdeveloped compared to his current writings. Some of the characters and settings are intriguing but the stories contained in this book are simply not long enough to capitalize on this potential.

I also read Visions (A Cainsville Novel) by Kelley Armstrong (early finished copy received from publicist) and will be writing another post with that review.

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