Wrapping up a year fairly characterized as Best Spent In A Book. * designates new-to-me books, which is everything this month.
The 2017 intention is to read less and write more. We shall see.
147. Mapmakers of the Western Trails: Adventures with John Charles Fremont* by Natalie Nelson-Hernandez. A slim, fictionalized account of Fremont's four expeditions, plus the annexation of California. For young readers, and somewhat clumsily written, but still of interest since I knew next to nothing about this particular historical subject matter.
148. Managed* by Kristen Callihan. Next in the "Kill John" series, a solid showbiz contemporary romance, marred by serious lack of copy editing.
148.5. Silverado Squatters* by Robert Louis Stevenson. Tales of the author's sojourn in Napa Valley.
149. Don't Dare a Dame* by M. Ruth Myers. Third in the Maggie Sullivan mysteries, with a plot question dating back to the Great Flood of 1913 (for which I need to read "Washed Away"). I'm really enjoying this series.
150. Roman Crazy* by Alice Clayton. A contemporary romance in which the wife of a Boston lawyer catches the lawyer in flagrante, flees to a friend in Rome while the divorce is in progress, and there encounters a student fling. Liked this a lot, the escape-through-travel angle usually works for me, especially when the writing is good (as it is here). Although honestly I haven't read any books set in Rome that did not make me want to go to Rome.
151. The Invisible Library* by Genevieve Cogman. A lot of fun things about this fantasy adventure, but it suffered from a case of Too Much: alternate worlds, a vast Library that links them, fairies, dragons, magic, steampunk, conspiracies, vendettas. A bit tiring.
152. Holly and Hopeful Hearts* a collection of holiday-themed historical novellas in which I genuinely liked "A Suitable Husband" and "The Bluestocking and the Barbarian" by Jude Knight, and "Artemis" by Jessica Cale. This collection seems to have been put together intentionally for Maximum Diversity: there are interracial and inter-class romances, a transgender hero, a Jewish couple, etc. I don't mind that, but five of the eight stories were forgettable.
153. Death is a Lonely Business* by Ray Bradbury. Set in 1949 as the Venice Pier is being demolished, it's a murder mystery in the noir style, in which the hero is a struggling writer. Spooky and atmospheric, and leaves open the possibility that a) the writer is the killer (he's not) or b) he's imagining things (he's not) until the story is well along. Great supporting characters, satisfying resolution. Available for Kindle so I am passing along my hardcover.
"Far off on that other still vibrant pier was the carousel that had been turning and grinding out its calliope music since I was a kid. Above the big horse race were the Carousel Apartments ... . I had heard that great poets who published small lived there. Novelists of many wits and no reviews lived there. Well-hung artists with unhung paintings lived there."
153.1 Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?* by Paul Cornell. Did not finish, in fact barely started, because a few pages in there's a villain's internal monologue in which he lovingly recalls committing an atrocity against an animal. I HATE THAT CRAP. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if a writer thinks that graphic descriptions of animal cruelty are necessary to establish the villainousness of his villain, HE IS WRONG.
154. Revisionary* by Jim C. Hines. The conclusion (?) of the Magic Ex Libris cycle, in which a magical think tank comes under fire (literally) by government thugs. It is almost too action-packed but all is resolved, more or less in favor of the good guys, by the end.
155. Once a Soldier* by Mary Jo Putney. A strong wartime romance set in a fictional small country between Portugal and Spain in 1814. MJP does very well at braiding the strands for multiply-connected books; this is the first of a new group of stories featuring men bonded in war. All of which I will certainly read.
156. The Complete Guide to Contracting Your Home* by Dave McGuerty and Kent Lester (1997, and yes that's how long I've had this damn thing). I skipped or skimmed several sections that are out of date, but it's full of great information even though I don't plan to act as my own general contractor. Lots to save for the Future Build resource file.
157. Christmas Miracles* by Mary Balogh. A trio of holiday-themed Regency romance novellas, very nicely done.
158. Christmas Gifts* by Mary Balogh. And a second batch. Plenty of Talking It Out in these stories. Of the six, two featured new, fast-moving love affairs while four were Second Chance stories. The "second chance" works well in the novella format.
159. Dark Wild Night* by Christina Lauren. A hot romance between a comic artist and a comic-shop owner based in San Diego. Conflict is provided by the artist's movie deal. I liked it fine.
160. Glass Tidings* by Amy Jo Cousins. A contemporary m/m romance between an itinerant glass artist and a small-town Christmas Shoppe owner/operator. I liked this very much. Both heroes have real issues and the book lets them work things out, no magic or half-measures.
160 books! That's a lot of reading.