This month’s picks were a little hit or miss for me. Overall, I enjoyed most of the books but there were some things that I didn’t like in each one and one that I really didn’t enjoy. Read on for the fantasy, nonfiction, mystery, and romance choices from my TBR list for February.
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – My fantasy pick for this month, Grave Mercy has been on my TBR list for nearly two years and was highly recommended to me by a couple of library colleagues. Unfortunately, I found myself incredibly disappointed in the book. I rarely read YA and I thought this might be one of very few that I would enjoy. If it had been sold to me as a historical, royal court intrigue novel heavy with romance elements, I would probably have read it and liked it. But it was sold to me as a historical fantasy with a kick ass female assassin who is the daughter of Death and it did not live up to those expectations at all. The female lead, Ismae, is typical of YA that I’ve seen and why I tend to not enjoy this subset of books. She is wishy washy, hormonal, and very easily swayed by a man with a kind word for her. I get why but that is NOT what I want in a female character, even a teenager, and it irritates me.
Miss Marie Corelli: Queen of Victorian Bestsellers by Teresa Ransom – The nonfiction pick this month was recommended to me by an English graduate student who studies Victorian literature, a field I am not well versed in outside the most popular classics. It was an interesting book about a very mysterious figure and I found it quite engaging. However, it seemed to rely a little too much on quotes from Miss Corelli’s books to explain who she was. Were her books reflective of her beliefs? Probably. But they were also works of fiction so relying on them to create a biography of the author is not the best practice in terms of historical scholarship.
The Arnifour Affair by Gregory Harris – The mystery for this month is another historical set in Victorian London much like last month’s mystery. What can I say – I very much like historical mysteries set in England. The Arnifour Affair has been on my TBR list since April of last year so when the digital version was available at the library, I saw it as a sign that I should dive in this month. The first book in a series, The Arnifour Affair is very much a Sherlock Holmes style Victorian mystery. I enjoyed it and I figured out who the murderer was at the same time as Colin, the Sherlockian hero. My only issue with the book is that it pretty obviously betrays its 21st century sensibilities rather than being true to the era it is supposedly set in.
Rocky by Bianca D’Arc – I bought this in August 2013 right after I had binge read the first six Brotherhood of Blood books. D’Arc has several series that are cross-connected and Rocky falls into her Tales of the Were series which is connected to Brotherhood of the Blood and Redstone Clan books, as well as her more recent Grizzly Cove books. You don’t have to read all the series to understand what is happening but I highly recommend reading the series of interest in order to avoid confusion. Rocky is a grizzly shifter who lives in a wolf pack territory and serves as Lieutenant to the Lords of the Were, the alphas of all weres in North America. When his childhood human friend Maggie shows up while in labor with shifter twins and on the run from the overarching evil of the three series. I did enjoy Rocky but not as much as I liked the books in the Brotherhood series.