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Precious Thing

Precious Thing - Colette Mcbeth File under ARCs I should have left on the break room table.

It was a quick read, but just a typical, plotty, ho hum kind of mystery. Ok if you're just looking to pass some time while you're at the laundromat or something, but not really recommendable.

The Cradle

The Cradle - Patrick Somerville I want to give this four stars, but I'm pretty sure that extra star would just be because I loved The Universe in Miniature in Miniature so much. It was a good, quick read but I would've liked another hundred pages or so just to flesh out the characters and add some weight to the ending.

The Case of the Deadly Desperados

The Case of the Deadly Desperados - Caroline Lawrence I wanted to like this more than I did, because the idea of western featuring an autistic kid detective sounds like a good original idea. However (and I might be being oversensitive), the racial/gender issues were too much for me to overlook, and I found myself wondering who I could ever recommend this book to ("Well, it features numerous horrible stereotypes about Native Americans, and one time they straight up calls a lady a whore. And he sees two people having sex!"). Plus, I'd just read By the Great Horn Spoon! which was just a much more fun kids' western. I would've given this three stars because it was a good mystery, but I'm knocking it down a star for the rest of the faults.

Astro City: The Dark Age 1: Brothers & Other Strangers

Astro City: The Dark Age 1: Brothers & Other Strangers - Kurt Busiek, Bret Anderson 100 stars

The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats - Jon Ronson Although I enjoyed this book content-wise (it satisfied the X-Files loving part of my brain very nicely), it is kind of oddly written. The tone was inconsistent and it was not very well organized. It seemed like a bunch of magazine articles stuck together in nearly random order.

In the Woods

In the Woods - Tana French Twenty years before the events in this book, the narrator and two of his friends disappeared in the woods near their homes. The narrator was later found with his shoes filled with blood. His friends were never found. Now, he's a police detective (surprise!) and is investigating the murder of a child that occurred in the same forest in which his friends were lost.

While this mystery was definitely a page-turner, the ending was ultimately unsatisfying. Not because the 20-year old mystery remains unsolved (I'm pretty sure the narrator says that this mystery never gets solved somewhere in the beginning), not because the narrator never experiences any sort of redemption and becomes a likable character (lots of people are unlikable for their whole lives), not because the narrator never reconciles with his partner/bff (their eventual, inevitable falling out seemed like kind of a relief after all that cutesy adolescent banter), but because the narrator assumes that since he did not solve the mystery, you did not solve the mystery either. A lame and irritating ending to an otherwise enjoyable book.

The Vampire's Assistant

The Vampire's Assistant - Darren Shan I think this is my last Cirque du Freak book. The two I read were kind of entertaining, but super slow, and I ended both of them feeling like nothing really happened. I think maybe if I was a 12 year old boy I would feel differently about this series, but I am not.

Also, in this one they meet someone who is very passionate about animal rights but loves the circus and I cannot get over that.

Fire Watch

Fire Watch - Connie Willis My one complaint about this book was that I wanted all of the stories to be novels.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson Having read and loved Atkinson's three mysteries, I'd put off reading any of her "literary fiction," mostly because the term "literary fiction" really bothers me because it basically just means "not genre." Anyway, everything I loved about Atkinson's mysteries was here as well: amazing characterization, interesting metaphors, perfect pacing and multiple narrators and storylines that all work together.

Ruby Lennox starts narrating her life at the moment of her conception, and each chapter in the book is a snapshot of one event that happened in each year of her life. Each chapter is followed by a footnote that relates to the chapter but examines the history of Ruby's family. As time passes, she (and you!) learn more about the secrets of the Lennox family. There eventually is a revelation that is a little bit unbelievable, but overall it didn't really distract from the excellence of this novel.

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith - Anne Lamott This collection of biographical essays that all center on Lamott's faith (except one of them is just about her hair). Most of them are about the beginning stages of her faith and how she eventually found a home in her church and in Christianity even though she initially didn't really want to. A good book for both religious and nonreligious people, as it is though provoking without being preachy and offers a very different view of religion than the one that is most vocal in this country.

To Say Nothing of the Dog

To Say Nothing of the Dog - Connie Willis This book revisits a couple of the characters from Willis' Doomsday Book (which I also loved), although this one was a lot funnier and lighter. It takes place in the future in Oxford, when historians travel in time to study history (or, as in this book, to recover hideous Victorian art for the reconstruction of a bombed-out cathedral). Having made too many trips through time recently, Ned Henry is suffering from advanced time lag and is instructed to go back to Victorian England for some rest and relaxation. However, there is a slight chance that the space-time continuum has been damaged, and Ned won't be able to get any rest until he fixes it.

This book was super fun and combined a bunch of genres in a thoroughly enjoyable way. Also, there are kittens. And a long-suffering bulldog. So, so good.

Things Will Never Be the Same: A Howard Waldrop Reader: Selected Short Fiction 1980-2005

Things Will Never Be the Same: A Howard Waldrop Reader: Selected Short Fiction 1980-2005 - Howard Waldrop I came across one of these stories in another anthology and immediately wanted to read more. Waldrop seems sort of like a combination of George Saunders, Richard Brautigan and the Twilight Zone, and (judging from this collection) he seems to write a lot of alt-histories. This book has afterwords by the author for each story, and at first I found his liberal use of italics kind of irritating, but then I decided it was very charming (possibly because in the afterword for "Wild, Wild Horses" he says that he doesn't really like fantasy, so when he got an idea for a fantasy story he was disappointed. Then he decided it would be ok to write a fantasy as long as it was a fantasy story as if it were happening to truck drivers.). I will definitely be tracking down more of Waldrop's work.

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself - Alan Alda I listened to the audio version of this, which Alda reads, but I'm pretty sure that even if I'd read it, I would've heard his voice reading this in my head. This was funny and thoughtfully political without being preachy. This was a quick and enjoyable listen, and it made me wish that Alan Alda had spoken at my college commencement ceremony, because I think there are things from this book that I will actually remember for a while (and I can't recall a single word that Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm said on that drizzly morning six years ago).

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth  - Carrie Ryan Mary lives in a village surrounded by a fence in the middle of a forest. Outside the fence: zombies! Since zombie dystopian futures are my favorite kind of dystopian futures, this sounded perfect. However, I had some problems with the book.

The first part of this book, in which typical life in the village was explained, really drew me in and made me want to know what had brought about this situation. Sadly, though, after the first 70 pages or so, the 'adventure' portion of the book began, and I felt like the book lost some of its focus. Running from zombies can get a little dull to read about if the characters aren't developed into people who are, if not likable, at least sort of realistic. I wanted to at least like Mary, but I thought that she was too fixated on the ocean (at one point I thought, "Man, we all want to go to the ocean, Mary, but sometimes we have to focus on life's everyday drudgery, like going to work or NOT GETTING KILLED BY ZOMBIES."). And I found her lack of curiosity somewhat frustrating: she kept finding things that could've offered a lot of insight into why the zombie apocalypse was occurring, but she chose to just ignore them.

Also, I was disappointed that no explanations for anything were given in this volume. I didn't know this was the beginning of a series when I started it (although I should have suspected it was, because what isn't part of a series now?), but even with the promise of future volumes containing answers, I feel like I should have gotten something out of this one. A series isn't just one long book split into smaller parts, is it?

Overall, this was an ok read for a rainy afternoon, but it would've been a better read for a rainy afternoon after the whole series was published.

My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face

My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face - Michael Ian Black This book was not as funny as I wanted it to be. After most of the essays I thought, "Oh, the next one will probably be better," or "At least that didn't take too long to read!"

When Will There Be Good News?

When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson First off, the cover of this book is so 'ladies' lit'-y that I was embarassed to read it on the bus, but luckily I got sick on Christmas eve and could read in the privacy of my own home.

I am always kind of reluctant to give any book five stars, but, honestly, I love Jackson Brodie I love multiple storylines, and I love it when huge plot points aren't given the ol' "duh Duh DUNNNN!!!" treatment. I love Kate Atkinson.