Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What I Read in June 2015

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I've got some catching up to do on my reading notes, so please bear with me...

June marks the start of Summer Learning at my Library and while it seems like everyone else is kicking their reading time into high gear, I take a vacation. Sometimes it is nice to give your brain a chance to reset a little bit. I am pleased to report that my June reading was happily vampire-free.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
Adventure Historical Fiction
Determined to discover the secret identity of the English spy who consistently thwarted Napoleon's efforts (and ignore her own floundering love life), historian Eloise Kelly sets off for England for an unexpected whirlwind of historical romance and adventure.

For an adventure novel, this had a heavy dose of romance. I thought the anachronisms were charming and found the whole thing delightfully entertaining. At the end, Willig even has a note that says (paraphrasing): "I'm an historian and I know a bunch of this stuff is wrong. Here's what is inaccurate and here is how it actually was in the time... But, come'on, wasn't the story fun?!" I have the next two on hold for me through the library. (Since this was written, I've read book two and I'm looking forward to book three).

The Bachelor Prince by Debbie Macomber
Women's Fiction
To save his country from financial ruin, Prince Stefano travels to Seattle, Washington to meet and marry an American heiress.

I appreciate that others may enjoy this book and will happily encourage readers seeking fast-paced, gentle romances with generally affable characters for a brief escape from day to day life to seek out this story.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Emerging Authors Fiction
The children of two immigrant families find friendship and first love in Seattle during World War II in this novel of reflection and understanding.

I don't think I like "emerging authors" as a genre... I mean, the book, I liked. But a category called "emerging authors"... what does that even mean? "Literary Fiction by Authors Who Have Only Published a Few Books"? I'm not convinced that that is a genre. I'll need to do some more research on this category.

This was a 'Community Read' for my library system a few years ago (before I started working there) and I can see why it was a popular choice. It has local interest (Seattle and Bainbridge Island), historical (World War II and contemporary fiction, multi-generational and international without being a saga, enough story to move it along, but compelling and complex characters to keep the reader invested.

The Well by Catherine Chanter
Ruth and her husband flee from personal scandal and find a superficial refuge at the Well, but tragedy finds them even on a bountiful farm in a country plagued by drought.

The Well did not shape up to be the suspenseful novel I anticipated. I'm a little surprised how effectively Chanter avoided including the dark, moody atmosphere of the Well as a setting, the tension of the bizarre religious sect that converts Ruth, or the threat of real danger from any of the people around the Well. For being such a dark premise, this anxiety-free book managed to keep me interested, but felt very light and reflective. I liked it, I think, but it wasn't what I thought I was going to read. I mean, just look at that cover. If that doesn't say "menacing" I don't know what does, but this book doesn't menace, so much as it does linger and regret.

A Lonely Resurrection by Barry Eisler
Espionage Thriller
Despite his intention to retire, Tokyo hitman John Rain joins the world of Japanese Pride Fighting to take down a deadly opponent.

I don't know if I was just in exactly the right place, the right time, and the right frame of mind for A Clean Kill in Tokyo (the first book of the John Rain series), but I didn't enjoy book two as much. It may be because there weren't as many surprises -- I expected a thorough, detailed and accurate Tokyo setting and the political intrigue involves some of the same players without new insight -- and so I just wasn't quite as tickled to find this book as I was to discover the first one. Maybe there were just too many exotic dancers being treated callously by the jaded men around them (or maybe I preferred the female lead of the first book?). I'm not sure. I'll continue to pursue the series (Barry Eisler narrates the audiobooks and does a really nice job) and I am interested to see where the story goes.

Note: If you do decide to start this series (or continue reading it) look up the titles before you get the next book on the list. They have been published under several different titles. Example: A Lonely Resurrection is the same book as Hard Rain. Note sure which book is next? Check out sites like GoodReads.com or FantasticFiction.co.uk.
 
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