No, I didn’t fall off the face of the planet 🙂 I clearly dropped the ball on blog posts over the last month for a wide variety of reasons, none of which you care about in the least. But I did do the TBR reading for both April and May! So you get two TBR posts rolled into one.
In April, I needed to run a colleague’s book club while she was on vacation and the book selection was The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff. I thought that worked out perfectly since I had that on my TBR list for nearly a year and it gave me the perfect excuse to read the hefty work of nonfiction. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with this book. It seemed like Schiff couldn’t figure out who her audience was – it’s billed as a book for a general readership but it was written as if an academic audience would be reading it. It felt like a dissertation. This turned out to be the consensus of the book club as well.
A second nonfiction pick from my TBR in April was Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline Murphy. This was an interesting book featuring Isabella Medici, who was not familiar to me. I like nonfiction about strong, independent women in times when women were basically ignored when they weren’t being bought or sold. Isabella was the definition of independent despite the time she lived in and the husband who eventually murdered her. It was a good read – scholarly but it didn’t read like a textbook.
For my fantasy in April, I read Grave Witch by Kalayna Price. This is an urban fantasy but the plot is driven by a murder mystery. It took me a bit to get into this and the pacing felt a little off to me but overall I did enjoy Grave Witch and read the next couple of books in the series which were good and kept me guessing almost the whole way through.
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones – I binge read the first seven books in this series in a week! Because of that I am counting the series as both mystery and romance – because it does an excellent job of balancing both genres throughout. I loved Charley, Reyes, and the secondary characters and found this series compulsively readable. It was a fun and funny urban fantasy with excellent plots, good flow, interesting characters, and solid action. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of this series.
George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager – I had this book on my TBR since 2014 so when it came up in my library’s ebooks, I went ahead and read it in May. Overall, it was a very good book on a fairly short period during the Revolutionary War and illuminated real people most of us have never heard of despite their contribution to US independence. It was a quick read with plenty of action and engaging prose to keep the reader interested. My one quibble is that the book is nonfiction but there are “conversations” in the text that are fictional. The authors are clear that they did this at the beginning of the book – they don’t pretend the conversations are real – but that’s a slippery slope I’m not at all comfortable with in nonfiction works.
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce – My fantasy pick this month is actually a children’s book. While this specific book was not on my TBR, I’ve had a note to read a Tamora Pierce book on my TBR for a few years so when my colleague recommended this series and handed me the book, I decided to go with it. I’m very glad I did as I enjoyed it a great deal! It’s a fast read and there is some pretty obvious foreshadowing throughout the book but overall, I would definitely recommend it.
Ripped from the Pages by Kate Carlisle – I’ve been reading the Bibliophile mystery series since the first book was published but when they switched over to hardcover from mass market, my reading of each new title was delayed as I waited for the paperback. Ripped from the Pages was published in January of 2015 and it went onto my TBR at that time but the paperback didn’t come out until just last month. While I enjoyed revisiting the characters I’ve grown to love, this book was not as good as others in the series. It was interesting to learn more about Guru Bob’s past and family but the original murder mystery was anticlimactic and the second murder mystery felt rushed.
Ultimate Vengeance by Nancy Haviland – I will admit that using Ultimate Vengeance as my romance read this month in May is cheating a little bit. I will say that it has been on my TBR pile since last year but it was actually only just published on May 31st – and I read it the day it came out! I had been looking forward to this book since I read the third in the Wanted Men series – which I highly recommend! – but I was disappointed to find that Ultimate Vengeance had not been copy-edited AT ALL. The plot, the characters, the pacing, the twists were all classic Wanted Men and it would have been one of the best books I’ve read this year except for all the typos. One or two typos I can ignore, but in the first three chapters alone, I cringed through more than half a dozen and it completely throws me out of the story. I expect better from Haviland and hope that when she publishes the next book in the series, Vex’s story according to her web site, this will not be an issue.