[At the Amazon Kindle Community forum there is a monthly thread where participants list and comment on which books they’re reading at the moment on their Kindles. These aren’t full reviews, just relatively brief impressions. I’m copying over some of my comments made there into Book Bits posts here.]
I got really lazy about putting my monthly Book Bits posts up here, but finally decided since I have them in a file on my computer I should stop procrastinating (one of my best skills!) and do it.
Originally posted 9/2
After reading three books in a row with a dystopian urban fantasy setting about a junkie, self-destructive protagonist I knew I needed a change of pace. I wanted a genre shift along with something with a lighter tone.
So uhh… I’m now reading a crime novel about a serial killer with a recovering alcoholic protagonist who was fired from the FBI. At least it is a different genre? The book is The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams. I got it on pre-order for $9.99 and it downloaded this last Tuesday.
I ran across this book by accident. I was looking through the upcoming releases section for crime fiction on Amazon and saw the author’s name, which halted me in my tracks. I’d read some espionage books by Amanda Kyle Williams that were published by Naiad Press in the early 90s, then she just kinda dropped out of sight. It’s an unusual name so I didn’t think it could be someone else, but looked up info on the web to be sure. So even though the book was $10 I pre-ordered for old time’s sake. Heh.
The book got off to a bit of a rough start. I thought the prologue was a bit awkward with long, wordy sentences. Then when the book starts in chapter one I was surprised it was in first person. For this type of book I usually expect third person. I’m about 25% into it now though and am definitely caught up in the story. This is apparently the first book in an intended series, so some extra time is spent on introducing the characters and laying out what the protagonist’s life is like. But I haven’t felt that has bogged things down too much.
Originally posted 9/4
I finished reading The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams and it was pretty darn good. Not great, it had a few rough edges, it was a little bit repetitive in a few places (something I’m highly sensitive to), and there was a sort of odd change in pacing for a section in the last quarter. But the book kept me really engaged the entire time and I’m ready to read the next one. Unfortunately, since this is the first book in the series and it was just released this last Tuesday, I’m gonna have to wait on that.
There were several things I liked about the book. Williams has a light way with humor. It’s not a funny book by any means, but there are little tidbits here and there that made me grin. She balances that well with more philosophical stuff and then of course info about crime scenes and investigating, which is the heart of this kind of book. I’ve never been to Atlanta, but since she lives there I’ll assume that she portrays it accurately. I know she managed to really bring it alive in my mind, what it’s like there with the various parts of town, the variety of people, and the weather. I also enjoyed that the book didn’t completely focus on the serial killer case, that we got to see her going out and working on other jobs, including the case of the missing cow.
When I finished I finally did read something very different for a change of pace. I read Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. I got it as a freebie a couple years ago, it’s $8.99 now. That price is insane to me because it’s extremely short, less than 900 locations.
It was an unconventional piece of fiction about unconventional people. It’s targeted to a YA audience I believe, but it’s written in an almost sing-song cadence, rather like a children’s book. (Though the subject matter is more adult.) The entire thing is telling, not showing, also more like a children’s book. Obviously done intentionally as a stylistic choice. I’m glad I read it, but it hasn’t inspired me to read anything else by that author.
Originally posted 9/11
I read Parties in Congress by Colette Moody. This is her third book and I think her writing is actually deteriorating, rather than improving. I thought her first book was really good, second one kinda so-so. There were a lot of amateur type writing issues that ended up outweighing her skill with witty, bantering dialogue in this one. I had to wonder why the editor wasn’t more on top of it. I doubt I’ll be reading anything further from her.
Then I read a really surprising (in a good way) and unusual book, Command of Silence by Paulette Callen. ($5.99). The main character was severely abused as a child and developed MPD. With the help of a psychiatrist she’s gotten to the point of functioning on a somewhat consistent level as a company of personalities.
I have no idea how realistic a portrayal or not of MPD this was, but it was fascinating. The main character works as a private investigator, often assisting police investigations. Her various personalities somehow work to often provide her with unique insight. In the book she is hired to help find two missing children. I started out not sure what to expect from the book and was extremely pleasantly surprised. It was an excellent read.
Right now I’m 70% of the way through Songs Without Words by Robbi McCoy. (Another lesbian novel.) I love the writing and I’ve been highlighting quite a bit in this one, but unfortunately the story itself isn’t particularly appealing to me.
Originally posted 9/13
I read Miles to Go: A Rennie Vogel Intrigue by Amy Dawson Robertson ($9.99). You have to go into it expecting to suspend quite a bit of disbelief because there are quite a few improbable elements, kinda like when starting a James Rollins novel. Through the first half of the book I was irritated with POV switching to relatively unimportant characters I didn’t care anything about, especially when they often ended up dead not long after. It seemed pointless. (Not talking about inappropriate head-hopping, but POV shifts at “correct” times.) But after a while when more things in the story came together I think it served a purpose some (though not all) of the time. It ended up as a decent adventure type story.
Then I read Doan & Carstairs: Holocaust House by Norbert Davis. It’s 99 cents, but I got it as a gift. This is a short story that I was expecting to like a lot, but ended up feeling it was just okay. The dog, Carstairs, barely makes an appearance. I didn’t particularly like Doan through the first half. If it had been a full length novel I might have stopped reading, but since it was short I finished it. There’s nothing really bad to say about it, this was just an instance of it not suiting my specific tastes.
Originally posted 9/15
I’ve started reading Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin. It’s $9.99 though I was super lucky to get it for free quite a while back.
It’s the 7th book in the Tales of the City series. I read the first four books way back when, late 80s and early 90s, then somehow missed the two that came after those and prior to this one. Normally I’m anal about reading in order, but this called out to me from my Kindle menu and I can’t afford to get the other two right now. So far it’s not really hurting things to not have read the two I missed.
I don’t remember many details about the first books because it’s been so long. But this book is feeling a lot more introspective than what I recall of the others. It’s making me that way too. I’ve been feeling this strange, bittersweet nostalgia as I go along that is affecting me surprisingly strongly. I’m also having that feeling of being reunited with old friends after a long absence.
For anyone interested, the first book is Tales of the City. It’s set in San Francisco in the 1970s with a colorful cast of characters and really captures the specific feel of The City in that time.
Originally posted 9/19
I enjoyed my reunion with Michael Tolliver and gang so much that I gave into temptation and bought Mary Ann in Autumn, the next and (currently) last in the Tales of the City series. It was most excellent and left me wanting more! Though it was annoying that a couple things that were established in the previous novel were different in this one. That kind of continuity blunder is irritating and it’s really surprising that no one, author or editors, caught them. I might not have noticed one of them except that I read the two books back to back. (There are still two books that I’ve missed in the middle of the series that I’ll need to go back and read at some point in the future.)
Originally posted 9/26
I finished reading Kinflicks by Lisa Alther ($8.99 at the moment but I got it on sale for $1.99) and it was an interesting experience. I had read it once before when I was either 22 or 23, with all my adult life still stretching out in front of me, and I remember that I liked it quite a lot. I suspect that at that age I thought the main character, Ginny, was a lot more free-spirited than she actually is. And it was talking about people from the generation I thought I should have been born into.
Now at almost 50 years of age all I could see was that Ginny never takes control of her life and just drifts from one thing to the next based on whoever has the strongest influence on her at the time. I didn’t really like her very much. So it was rather fascinating to see how my response to a book is so heavily influenced by where I am in my own life. I also suspect that the book hits a little too close to home, with my middle adult years now behind me.