As I was fairly busy this month, I’m surprised at how much reading I got done during March! Of course, it helped that I had one of my favourite authors (Kelley Armstrong) scheduled, so I as looking forward to that, but I also discovered a new author whose novel ended up rating at full marks! Two books which I reviewed for publishers were also included, as well as one I picked up for a bargain while out shopping…
Dire – don’t waste your time
OK, but nothing to write home about
Very good – worth a read
Superb – read it immediately!
11. Kelley Armstrong – The Reckoning (Darkest Powers 3)
Despite the fact that it’s been quite a while since I read the first two books in this trilogy, I found it didn’t matter as within moments of starting this novel, everything came flooding back to me and I knew exactly what was happening. I’m glad Armstrong doesn’t just give a straight recap (like a “previously, on Darkest Powers…”) as I prefer just to get on with the story, and enough is alluded to in the natural progression of things to do without. Although there was a satisfying conclusion (and Armstrong has said it really is a trilogy of THREE – no Douglas Addams-ing here!) there was still just enough left dangling that, should Armstrong change her mind, things could be continued further down the line.
12. Emma Donoghue – Room
Oh. My. Gods! It’s rare I come across such a wholly engrossing novel as this – I literally couldn’t put it down and read late into the night till I was so tired I was falling asleep and physically unable to continue – I still fought the exhaustion and tried to continue! It’s so beautifully written – utterly claustrophobic and poignant. The twist of having the tale told by a five-year-old boy who believes Room (which is 11-square-feet) is the entire world is very clever, and the way things unfold make is refreshing when told from his perspective.
I honestly cannot recommend this novel highly enough, and in the wake of such cases as Franz Polzer holding his own daughter captive for 24 years, it’s terrifyingly real.
Read it. Read it right now!
13. Sophie McKenzie – The Medusa Project: The Set-Up
A fairly decent start to the Medusa Project series. It’s a little predictable at times, and the characters (both teenagers and adults) come across as being more than a little naïve most of the time, but it’s still a pretty good read that will appeal to the younger end of the teen spectrum (I think it would be most enjoyable to the 12-to-15 age bracket). I found the main characters to be somewhat lacking in depth, but perhaps that will be built upon as the series progresses. Despite its flaws, I think I’ll most likely pick up the other books at the library eventually.
14. Alan Hutcheson – Boomerang
REVIEWED FOR PUBLISHER
It took me quite a while to get through this novel, largely because I had to keep going back and re-reading sections in an attempt to make more sense of what was happening. It jumps around a lot, from continent to continent, and from character to character, never really giving a good grounding with any one person or place, so there’s no real depth. It doesn’t quite seem to know what it wants to be – does it want to be comedy or serious? It veers between the two without anchoring on either – not quite funny enough to be a comedy, but not quite serious enough to be otherwise.
With all the jumping around, I quite literally lost the plot, and I found having so many characters (none of whom were employed to their full potential, or given enough oomph and personality to grab me fully) rather jarring. It’s a shame, because I think the story had a lot of potential – it just wasn’t given a chance to really shine.
15. Charlotte Bronte & Sherri Browning Erwin – Jane Slayre
With each mash-up novel I read, my love of this subversive genre grows! I loved Jane Eyre, so really enjoyed this irreverent retelling which stuck surprisingly closely to the original, with the addition of a supernatural element that slipped, almost seamlessly, into the plot.
If you’ve never tried the classic/horror mash-up genre, this might be a good place to start. Of course, you’ll get far more out of it if you’ve read the original version without the vampires, zombies and werewolves, but even someone who’s never read Jane Eyre could enjoy this for what it is – a jolly good romp!
16. Jean Teulé – Monsieur Montespan
REVIEWED FOR PUBLISHER
Based on the true story of the husband of the most celebrated mistress of Louis XIII, this is a rip-roaring romp through the reign of the Sun King. I found it difficult to feel sorry for the plight of the cuckolded husband, despite the fact that he raised such a scandal over the affair between the King and his wife, which most men of that time would have taken as a compliment and accepted the many honours, titles and money that would bring. Although I didn’t find sympathy for him, I did find I respected this much-maligned figure and his stance over his position.
It’s a well-researched and well-written novel that is both engaging and entertaining, with more than a little titillation between its covers as the exploits of Madame de Montespan, both with Louis XIIII and her husband before him, are described with passion and humour. It’s well worth a read if you’re a fan of historical fiction with a little French flair.
BOOKS STARTED (carrying over to April):
Ben Elton – Meltdown
I’m not very far into this one yet and so far it seems to be jumping around an awful lot – perhaps a bit too much for my liking – but I’m hoping it will all pull together in Elton’s trademark style and be an enjoyable read. This one deals with the economic downturn, so it’s very topical, and if any writer can write a really good satirical novel on that subject, it surely has to be Ben Elton!