Reading list as of March 29th

This month’s reading was like fodder for a bad joke. “An anthropologist, a vampire, and a crazy child soldier walked into a bar…”

I pretty much squealed when I heard Liz Jensen had a new book out. The Uninvited is another apocalyptic tale, a story of two phenomena running side by side and seemingly unrelated: young children acting out in horrifically violent ways often resulting in death, and corporate sabotage followed by suicide. It’s Hesketh Lock’s job to find out why the sabotage leads to suicide, but he soon discovers there’s a lot more going on than you’d think…and it doesn’t fit into the neat parameters of his life. Hesketh’s black and white world is shaken by these series of events, and he struggles for much of the story to put it in some sort of order so he can understand. By turns bizarre, frightening, and a little absurd, this book was just as good as The Rapture. And, like The Rapture, some of the things that happen could actually occur, which makes it all the more creepy. This is the kind of book that makes you want to rush out to the nearest book store and buy the backlist. All of the backlist.

After The Uninvited left me blinking and jumping at shadows, I needed something fluffy. Victoria Dahl’s latest, Too Hot to Handle, was a perfect fit. Good girl Merry’s been trying to be less of a drifter and more of a dependable person, so when she gets the job turning a ghost town into a historical site, it’s just the chance she needs to get her new life started. Too bad for her Shane thinks the site is perfect the way it is: abandoned. THTH was entertaining, frothy fun, but the ending felt a little rushed. All the build up to the secret Shane had been keeping from Merry resulted in a spectacular blow out that proves Merry has a spine of steel under her good-girl manners, but I felt Merry was too quick to forgive Shane. And Shane…yum. Cowboys.

Then, of course, I put off everything to devour Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost. Leila’s sick of Vlad’s arms-length treatment of her, and she gets a chance to put some distance between them with a trip back to her carnival roots. I can’t say too much more, because so much happens in the first part of the book that I’d be spoiling it if I told you anything else. Suffice to say I love the way Leila handles herself, and Vlad, and Vlad’s impenetrable wall around his heart. Yes, sometimes she acts immature. We all do. And Vlad’s a bit of a dick in the first half of the book. Actually, more than a bit. He’s a leading contender for douchcanoe of the year. But he makes up for it. In spades. I can’t wait for the next one, which, I’ve heard, will be the last-Frost never intended for the Night Prince books to go on for more than three or four.

A couple of weeks ago, I was killing time in a book store and found a copy of Drown by Junot Diaz on the shelf. I’d been intrigued by Diaz since I read Cassie’s review of This is How You Lose Her, his latest collection of short stories, and she’d mentioned Drown. So I bought it. And it’s the perfect introduction to a new author. The stories flip back and forth between life in the Dominican Republic and life in New York, and you want to savor each one. It’s easy to do; I’d pick up the book, read a story, and put it down again. Diaz writes in a clear, concise manner that makes me wish more literary fiction authors paid attention to the amount of unnecessary detail they dump on us. The only issue I have with the collection is that while each story kept me fully engaged, I never felt that rush to push on to the next one, which is most likely why it took me several weeks to read this relatively short book. But it was enough for me to want to read This is How You Lose Her (or maybe it’s just the title that has me intrigued).

Sometimes, in the course of reading it, I wondered if picking up Tahereh Mafi’s Destroy Me was a mistake. A novella set just after Juliette escapes with Adam for Omega Point and told from Warner’s point of view, he finds the journal Juliette left behind. Each sentence is an emotional hammer blow, and I would have to set it aside to catch my breath. It kept getting stuck in my lungs, the anger and helplessness building over what was done to Juliette, what was done to Warner, with each flip of the virtual page. If Unravel Me hadn’t changed my mind about Warner, this would have. As it is, it only confirmed my opinion-there’s a lot more depth to Warner than what comes across in Shatter Me, and it leaves you wondering about the future for Juliette, Warner, and Adam. Mafi recently tweeted that the next novella (due out in December) hasn’t been written yet, and no word on who’s point of view it will be in. Given that she’s been pulling her readers back and forth and back again with the triangle she’s created, I’m betting on Adam.

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