Monday, May 9, 2016

Reading List 2016: Ranked Reading List 2

#10: Colossus Rising
Peter Lerangis

Pretty good, comparable at least to Artemis Fowl. This was a fascinating read from one of the authors responsible for contributions to the 39 Clues series. In it, supernaturally-gifted kids are tasked with recovering artifacts or orbs associated with the legendary Seven Wonders, because combined, the orbs hold great power. Of course, no mythical quest for a bunch of teens would be complete without a rich, connected, enemy (who also happens to be an adult) trying to grasp the power for himself, and this series provides it. Sort of trope-y in places, and with only a small part of the endearing qualities  or the intricate storytelling of, say, Rick Riordan, nor was it pleasingly whimsical and quaintly funny like Eoin Colfer... but certainly a series I may consider pursuing!

#9: Wish You Well
David Baldacci 

It hurts to place a Baldacci book so close to the top of this list, it really does, but at least it's not because it contained any objectionable material. It just wasn't as gripping as the other books on this list, and that's okay. It is ot a thriller at all, but a quaint little family drama. It was vivid, sure, and poignant and pretty... But it just lacked the pace of his "normal" style. The characters, too, were not quite as endearing; at least (spoiler alert) the ones that survived.

#8: O is for Outlaw (Kinsey Millhone #15)
Sue Grafton

Splendidly unique! What fascinates me is the way Grafton always seems, in this extensive series of one-mystery-after-another, to come up with unique twists every step of the way: the crime, the cover-up, the revelations, the support/hindrances... This one was one of the good ones! Kinsey is notified that her ex-husband is laid up in a coma in the hospital, circumstances may or may not indicate foul play, and it's up to her to get to the bottom of what he was up to in the days just before his "accident"--but the complexity of her history with so many of the parties involved makes it more difficult than usual! I loved this glimpse into her past--it fit her so much better than the haphazard muddle with her family in a previous book. Nicely done, in terms of this series!

#7: Moriarty
Anthony Horowitz

Oh good grief, Horowitz! Trying to keep this spoiler free... Clever use of red herrings and a sympathetic narrator, plus the mother-of-all-plot-twists... And yet remaining quite canon, indeed. A mostly-win--definitely quality material. There were parts I didn't much enjoy about it, and they were just prolific enough that it earns this particular slot... but I really can't say more about it. A worthwhile read for those of us waiting for Sherlock Season 4 YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

#6: Dragonfly in Amber
Diana Gabaldon

Done done-y done done! Good grief, that took a good long while! Diana entertains us again... This time in more of a retrospect than the first novel. The social navigations and the characters are still as treacherous and endearing as ever—I particularly adored Jamie's interactions with Fergus. It's a beautiful thing. I love that this is a romance but it's also historical and it's also a little bit of thriller adventure so it doesn't feel smutty when I read it. The new characters will tug your heart just as much as the old—poor Roger! That is all I have to say.

#5: The Bait of Satan
John Bevere

My mom starts talking about this book that she just read, and people hear the word "Satan" and our friends are like "Say WHAT?" Yes, it sounds like a book no "good Christian" would want to read, but it is actually a book about the insidious nature of offense, and how the way we deal with others who offend us can easily distract us from choosing to love and forgive them fully. So yeah, I feel like the middle is a good place for this; a little unfair because it's a nonfiction book among all these fiction novels, but still good enough in its own right.

#4: The Keeper (Vega Jane #2)
David Baldacci

Much improved over the first one! I think Baldacci has undoubtedly proven that writing a fantasy world is just as much a matter of practice and skill as writing engaging thrillers. THE KEEPER is definitely more driven and focused than THE FINISHER was, a lot more keen on actually developing the plot and the characters and even the world, instead of dithering about trying to explain the "jargon-ified" names for things. Brilliant!

#3: Jackaby
William Ritter 

Beautiful and entertaining! A lovely, lovely romp! Spectacularly entertaining for those who love Victorian-era crime novels and a bit of the supernatural mixed in! Jackaby is a sort of paranormal investigator in need of a new assistant (as his last assistant had the misfortune to be turned into a waterfowl), and Abigail Rook is a very capable young woman recently returned from a nanny job overseas and in search of a job. A serial killer is on the loose with a string of bloody murders, and it is up to these two to catch the actual killer before it moves on. Had me giggling and gasping and guessing pretty much all the way through. Well-done!

#2: Fool Moon (Dresden Files #2)
Jim Butcher 

Lovely and wonderful and thrilling and spectacular! I really loved the character development in this one, building on the things laid down in the first book. Dresden and Murphy have a falling out because of what he's not telling her, while a mob boss is seeking to place him on a leash—er, retainer. Dresden is thrust into the world of Lycanthropy as what appears to be a werewolf is slaughtering people on the full moon. Can he figure it out, or will he be the next victim? I really enjoyed reading it (well, okay, the parts that didn't make me squeamish... It being werewolves, there is no shortage of blood spray and mangled bodies!) and witnessing Dresden time and again outsmarting the enemies who occasionally (time and again) get the drop on him. Nicely done.

#1: Dream Thieves (Raven Boys #2)
Maggie Stiefvater

Holy heck, the intensity!!! I got sucked into the first one, which did an excellent job of getting me attached to all the characters through Blue, who was at first the outsider... But this one focuses on Ronan and the ability hinted at and revealed at the end of the last book: if he focuses hard enough as he dreams, he can bring the thing he is dreaming about out of his dream. It starts small, as with anything, but spirals out of control as Ronan is egged on by fear of those who seek to do him harm and the allure of power from those who seem to understand him better than his own friends. Once again, every time I sat down to read it (usually before bed) I could not tear myself away. Each "resolution" only presented more questions. This was definitely the most enticing, best book on this list!