Amanda Reads – September 2016

Another month, another list of books to share! September was a busy month for me, between marathon training picking up (you should see my weekly mileage—it’s so daunting to look at, and I’m doing it!) and getting my first round of editor comments back on SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL.  But things are moving along!  And I’m never going to stop reading, don’t worry.

I got through five books in the month of September—enjoy!


Wilde Lake, by Laura Lippman

I read this book for the Crime Writer’s On book club (yes, I consider myself a part of the podcast book club, don’t ask questions). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to New Hampshire for the live show where they talked about the book, but since I had read it by the time the episode aired, I was able to follow along. I hope they do another book club pick, because I really liked this one!

Here’s a bit of the plot:

Luisa Brant is the new state’s attorney for Howard County, outside of Baltimore. She is the second Brant to hold the title after her father, who served when she was a child. Not long after taking office, there is a murder in her hometown of Columbia, Maryland, and she decides to investigate the case herself rather than hand it off to anyone else in the office. The case ends up being connected to one that her brother, AJ, was involved in back when he was 18—he was cleared by a Grand Jury for the accidental death of a poor boy who attacked him and paralyzed his best friend.  Told from both adult Lu and child Lu’s points of view, the story weaves together in a way that I, for one, was not expecting.

I have a confession to make before I get too far into this review. On the podcast, they kept saying how much this was like an homage to To Kill a Mockingbird. Here’s my confession—my high school didn’t know how to pick out books worth a shit (no offense), and I have therefore never read To Kill a Mockingbird.

Please don’t stop following me, I promise, it’s on my list!

My point in saying that is that I didn’t realize all of the comparisons until the Crime Writers were talking about them. I approached the book on its own, which probably gave me a different perspective. For me, the story was about political family secrets from all angles. It showed how things change as you get older, how perspectives and friendships shift. How people are not what they seem. And it really shows what the culture was like in the 1980s when it came to rape—the victim blaming! It was so hard to read at times, and I really felt for poor girl (whose character name escapes me, now that it’s a full month later). It gave me a glimpse into what our justice system actually looks like, rather than what it’s supposed to look like. It’s fascinating. Go read it.

Rating: 4 stars


Luck on the Line, by Zoraida Córdova

I knew that the next book I was *supposed* to read was going to be darker and denser, so I wanted something light after Wilde Lake. After perusing my Kindle, I came across this lovely little New Adult romance. Zoraida Córdova has been on my radar for a while now, because her newest book, Labyrinth Lost, sounds AMAZING and I can’t wait to get my hands on it (probably for Christmas). As a taste of her writing style, I decided on this one. And believe me, I’m not sorry about it!

Lucky Pierce returns to Boston once a year, to spend the day of her dad’s death with her celebrity chef mother. This time, she gets roped into helping manage her mother’s new restaurant opening, which means being in the same room as James Hughes, up-and-coming chef and Boston gossip column regular. What starts as sharp animosity between Lucky and James turns into something hot and fiery that they can’t deny—even as it threatens to ruin everything.

Okay.  I love New Adult.  I think I’ve said that every month, but I really mean it.  Do you need a good palate cleanser with some hot sexy time and (more often than not) a bad boy to crush after? Pick up a New Adult romance. Ha! I’ve been lucky in that the ones I’ve read so far are mostly from authors I follow on Twitter, so they’ve all been really good (and I boost the authors whenever possible because I love them all so much). This one is no exception. I loved how realistic the dynamic was between James and Lucky. I loved how complicated Lucky’s relationship was with her mother, and how she formed a fast friendship with her mother’s assistant, even though they were so different. I loved James’ scandalous past and Lucky’s weird relationship with her best friend (who I ended up hating, but that’s a different story). Really, it was a joy to read. I think it took me around 24 hours to get through it. I can’t wait to read more things from Córdova—I have The Vicious Deep on my Kindle and am really hoping for Labyrinth Lost for Christmas!

Rating: 5 stars


Anvil Soul, by David O’Sullivan

I already posted a full review of this one! You can find it here.


Inked, by Eric Smith

Full disclosure—Eric Smith is one of my favorite people on Twitter.  He tweets about amazing books and authors, and his wife Nena runs an awesome blog about mental health that I think everyone should read.  I love him and them and that may have initially colored my excitement about reading this book.  And then I actually read it and fell in love with it in a whole different way.

Plot:

Caenum is about to turn eighteen, which is when young people in the Citadel’s realm are inked with their career path.  Tattoos are a way of life in this universe—they show people who they are and who they will be, and they are interactive, flowing and moving beneath the skin.  Several days before Caenum’s inking, he punches a scribe (those responsible for inking others) in the face, which kicks off a series of events that sends the Citadel after him, his family, and his friends.

Okay, so what do you think of when you read that description?  The Hunger GamesDivergent?  Other post-apocalyptic YA fiction?  Yeah, me too.  At the halfway point of the book, I was afraid it was going to be like every other book in that genre that I’ve read. But then it wasn’t!  I was so pleasantly surprised that I want to shout it from the rooftops—a post-apocalyptic/dystopian YA novel that doesn’t end like all the others, where the protagonist is forced to kill people at the end of the first book of a trilogy and then is haunted by it.  Here’s the thing though—if I tell you how it’s different, I’ll give it away!  So just know that it’s different and awesome and I loved the ending.  And even better—the sequel, Branded, is out this month!

Rating: 4 stars


Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley

What a trip.  I wish I could just leave it at that (I mean, this is my blog, so I guess I could. But I won’t.), but I’ll continue.  This was one of my Book of the Month picks*, and I chose it because it sounded different than anything else I’d read.  I was right about that part of it—it was.  But not necessarily in a good way.

*Psst! If you want to join BotM, let me know! I can refer you!

I guess I’ll just get into it.

At the end of the summer, a private plane carrying eleven people falls out of the sky during a short flight from Martha’s Vineyard back to New York City.  Of the eleven, there are two survivors—a middle-aged painter and the young son of a billionaire who owned a news network.  Since there were high-profile passengers aboard, there is a major investigation about why the plane went down.  It turns out that one of the other passengers aboard was about to be indicted by the feds, and the billionaire news mogul has had other threats against his life and his family.  So… what caused the plane to go down?  And how is the near-broke painter connected to the other wealthy passengers?

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t expecting a mystery.  But hey—that’s what I got!  And that actually made this one a lot more fun to me.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it exceeded my expectations by a long shot.  This was an engrossing story, and the way it was told—we got to see things from the point of view of every single person aboard the flight, including the pilot, copilot, and flight attendant—showed how complicated real life is.  That’s what I loved the most—this was a slice of life, a tragic piece of the world that got splayed across the news media.  I loved it, mostly.  My only gripe is the lack of resolution at the end, which colored the whole story.  As I was reading, I was into it, and then it ended.  Boo for endings that aren’t the end!  Anyway, I’ve already lent my copy to someone because I was happy with it, overall.  I’ll be recommending this one, for sure.

Rating: 3.5 stars


You’ll notice I’m trying to intentionally vary my genres up a bit—I’m having some fun with the books I’m picking!  And fun is the key, after all.

Happy reading!

-A.

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