TBR Challenge January 2016

I posted last month about doing a TBR challenge for the year and reading four books each month – mystery, romance, non-fiction, and fantasy – from my TBR list. It ended up being harder than I expected. Not because I had difficulty reading four books – I actually read six for this month’s challenge – but because I had a hard time choosing which books from my TBR list to start with and I kept getting enticed by shiny new books that I wanted to read immediately. But I did manage to read four of the books that have been languishing on my TBR list for at least six months and overall I enjoyed them immensely.

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell – My mystery pick for this month has been sitting on my TBR pile since it came out in March. My favorite mystery from my reading last year was Morrell’s Murder as a Fine Art and I was very much looking forward to this sequel. Unfortunately, I was finishing up graduate school at the time it was published and it just kept getting pushed off. I very much enjoyed this second book but it was not quite as riveting as the first. The characters were still vivid and wonderful, the pacing was excellent, and the writing was lovely. The mystery wasn’t as mysterious – for lack of a better phrase – but I still hadn’t guessed it until it was revealed. I love how Morrell uses so much historically accurate information in these books and his storytelling really makes me feel like I am in Victorian London – for good or for ill.

BiblioTECH by John Palfrey – This nonfiction pick made its way to the top of my list because it was a book club pick this month although it has been on my TBR list since last April when I saw a review for it. I had high hopes for this book and was ultimately disappointed. Palfrey repeats himself a great deal but he also frequently contradicts himself. This book also seemed to lack focus – it was as if he didn’t know what audience he was trying to address and therefore tried to write it to address every possible reader with little (no) success. Perhaps if I had read this when it came out, I would have found it more persuasive but much of what he states needs to happen in terms of libraries embracing technology and the future already has happened – although without the increases in funding that he also calls for. His insistence that libraries must coordinate and cooperate is, unfortunately, a politically untenable request as no library system can be seen to spend money on something that benefits taxpayers outside their geographic area.

Crown and Key trilogy by Clay and Susan Griffith – So I actually read an entire trilogy for my fantasy selection this month because all three were published last summer and I really wanted to dive into this urban fantasy London setting. This was a lot of fun and had great world building with just enough “real” London to make it recognizable. I very much enjoyed this trilogy because the characters were so well drawn and interesting and the books were incredibly action-filled. All in all, a very solid and enjoyable historical urban fantasy trilogy. One of the things I enjoyed so much was that this trilogy had a strong, intelligent female character who made no apologies for being who she was and that was embraced by the male characters. That is very rare in historicals – outside of the romance genre – and it made the book more interesting to have characters who were all equal partners in the adventure.

Not Broken by Dana Marie Bell – I normally devour the books in the True Destiny and Gray Court series the day they are released so I’m not sure how I managed to let this one slip by me for so long given that it came out in December 2014. Not Broken is the fifth book in the True Destiny series featuring Norse mythology characters in present day Philadelphia. It takes the Eddas and twists them which is a lot of fun. I love Dana’s books because she is epically funny and I laugh a lot when I’m reading her work. These are not angsty, drama filled paranormal romances – these are funny, twisted books with characters that feel like real people you might know. That said, do not attempt to read this series out of order as it will make no sense and be unbelievably confusing. This book focuses on Magnus and his relationship with Slade and Sylvia while giving readers a glimpse at all the previous characters and setting up the next books. One warning: This book does feature a three person relationship and the accompanying sex life of same.

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