Reading Roundup: March 2014

Most of the books I read this month were Whitney finalists, but I did manage to sneak in a few other books as well.

I, Spy and Spy for a Spy by Jordan McCollum

I decided to review these two books together, since they are pretty similar and one is just a sequel to the other. There were some things I really liked about the books--they were fun to read, the pacing was good, even towards the end with the final chase scenes, and the setting was unique. I didn't like the voice very much, but I think that was mostly just my personal preference. I don't like first-person that is overly familiar and sounds too much like someone just telling me a story; it tends to get annoying, especially after reading two-books' worth of it. I also had a hard time with the characterization of the protagonist; she often alluded to things in her back story that might have made some of her actions make sense, but I just got frustrated when more wasn't explained.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

You can always count on Anderson to tackle difficult social issues with beautiful writing, and this book was no exception. There were some parts that I thought worked better than others, but generally this was another great book by one of my favorite authors. 

The Witnesses by Stephanie Black

I've read so many dystopian books with teenage protagonists that it was a little weird to read one with adult characters instead. This is the second book in a series and it took a bit of time to really get into the story and figure out who everyone was and sort out what was going on--though I do think the author did a better job of establishing what had happened previously than some authors I've read do. That being said, I still thought the book was a little boring; there were a lot of characters and I had a hard time really feeling like I got into their heads or caring about what happened to them.

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

I've only read Middlemarch once, and it was a few years ago so I'm not as familiar with it as some other classic books. I picked this book up mostly because I was interested in the premise--I really liked how Mead explored the ways the meaning of the book has changed for her personally at different times in her life and what it means to be a reader and to have a 'favorite' book as a touchstone. I actually, however, was most drawn in by the biographical details about George Eliot; I didn't know much about her before and think she was a fascinating person. Now I want to go read Middlemarch again.

Longing for Home by Sarah Eden

This book has some good things going for it--the historical setting is great and I liked all three of the main characters involved in the love triangle. However, the pacing and the plot were just not working for me. Some parts of the conflict seemed to drag on too much and others were resolved too quickly; in fact, the ending wasn't really a very satisfying one, which was annoying after reading a book that was 400 pages long. This book had potential that it just didn't live up to. 

Dark Memories by Jeffrey S. Savage

I'm not usually a fan of horror but I survived reading this book. I think its the strongest in the category, but it will probably still bother some people even though it's somewhat 'horror-lite' (and published by Covenant). The plot kept me guessing and had just enough suspense to keep my interesting going without freaking me out so much that I didn't want to keep reading. I thought the biggest weakness of the book was the characterization; most of the characters were too much of stock cliches for my taste.

Echo in Time by C.J. Hill 

I wasn't very excited about reading this book, but it surprised me by being one of my favorites in the speculative category. Even though it is a sequel, I felt like I was able to pick up the plot and understand who everyone was and how they all fit together. There were parts that felt somewhat derivative of other books like The Hunger Games and Matched, but I still had a lot of fun reading it. 

Finding Sheba by H.B. Moore

The premise of this book was fascinating and I liked the idea of combining flashbacks of the past with an investigation in the present. Moore is particularly skilled at writing about ancient times and I always love the details she includes in her writing about life in Biblical times. However, I felt like this book was a bit of a mess when it came to plot and characterization; there were many different people doing many different things, and keeping them all straight while they all came together was difficult.

Comments

Th. said…
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I think that Middlemarch book was excerpted in the New Yorker a couple years ago. Which article is why Middlemarch is now on my ABSOLUTELY MUST READ ALL CAPS list.

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