What I've Been Reading In The First Half of 2017

According to Goodreads, I've read 30 books so far this year.  That puts me significantly behind in my goal of 100 books in 2017, but I'm not really concerned about the numbers.  I often check reviews on Goodreads before I start a new book, but more and more I wish there was an option to filter out the "I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review".  Is it just me, or are those reviews skewing the true numbers?  I've read through way too many lately, where everyone who "received a free copy" raved over the book, and then those who are not receiving free books were at the opposite end, hating the book.  I know everyone's taste is different, but lately I have noticed that happening a lot more.  I'm not so sure the "honest reviews" are as honest as they would be if they weren't hoping to receive more free books.

My Favorite Reads So Far This Year:
Looking at the covers, I do believe this is the most diverse my favorites list has ever been.  That's in part due to being in two book clubs that both "force" me to read outside my comfort zone.

Dead Letters is hard to describe.  It's about sisters - twins - who grew up on the family winery. One flees to Paris, only to return home when she receives news that her sister has died.  Or has she?  A series of letters from her "dead" twin lead her to believe her sister is playing an elaborate hoax - but then whose bones are in the barn?  There are at least a dozen reasons I should have hated this book, and yet I loved it, and had trouble putting it down.  Definitely one of my favorite reads this year.

The Thousand Dollar Tanline, a Vernoica Mars Book, really surprised me. This was on the "unputdownable" list by the Modern Mrs. Darcy.  (What Alice Forgot is also on her list, and I loved that one too - so I look forward to the rest of her list)  While I could put this one down, I really, really enjoyed it and will look for more in this series.  I've never seen the tv show, and think I'll avoid seeing it until I read all the books. 

Elizabeth Is Missing, a book club selection, was one of those stories that will stick with me.  I really, really enjoyed this, although our book club had pretty spit opinions on it.  It's a murder mystery, in flahsbacks of memories, told from the perspective of a woman sliding into dementia. Present day events remind her of events long ago, and at the end, our book club was split in their opinion of who actually committed the murder, which surprised me, I thought it was obvious...  it made for great discussion, not only about who was guilty, but also about caring for a mother with dementia.

Years ago I read every John Grisham novel as fast as they came out. But then they all started to seem like pretty much the same book to me, so I stopped reading him for a long time.  Rogue Lawyer was a book club selection, so I picked it up, and read it almost straight through.  I loved this book, and I hope there is a sequel with this main character. 

The Good House by Ann Leary is not a mystery.  Its about an alcoholic who is not believing she is an alcoholic, and that should NOT be funny, but it is. I loved this book, thoroughly enjoyed the characters. 

Although I did love all of the above, none are quite the caliber of the Nine Books I Could Not Put Down.

Reads I Enjoyed, But Didn't Love

Dorothy Sayers books feel like a "must read" for every mystery lover, so I chose one of the Lord Peter Whimsey novels, Cloud Of Witness to try this year.  I enjoyed it, but didn't love it.  I'll probably come back to the series later, because I still feel like I need to read these for some reason.  But I still have not finished all of Agatha Christie's, so although they are on the list, they are not really high on my list.  So much to read, so little time...

I've been working my way through the Maisie Dobbs series, and I'm really not sure why.  I do enjoy them, but they are not spectacular, and some of them haven't even really been that good.  And yet I am still enjoying them.  I can't explain it.  Cozy mystery style, female PI, set in the years between the two world wars.

Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore is a book I never would have chosen on my own.  It was a book club selection, a bit of science fiction.  I really really liked it.  This is why I join book clubs, to read things that I never would choose on my own.  

Although Mary Kubica's Good Girl is one of my all time favorite books, Don't You Cry was not.  It was good.  I enjoyed it.  It's another mystery/thriller, which is my favorite genre.   There's a new one out by her this week that I can't wait to read, as well as one I apparently missed...  She's still on my list of favorite authors, and this was a GOOD read, just not one of my favorites.

The Girls In The Garden was not a thriller, but it is a mystery.  It was a bit different than what I normally read, and while I enjoyed it, it's not something I would look to read more of.

The Hiding Place is a book I read, enjoyed, gave 4 stars on goodreads, and when I go back I can barely remember the plot let alone the ending.  So it was good, but not memorable.  Since it's a mystery, and I can't remember the ending, I'm not feeling the need to go back and re-read the last chapter, but that's silly, because I'll likely forget the ending again by this time next year.

The Things We Wish Were True is another one I just can't remember much about.  I liked it. I think it was a good summer beach read, but I can't remember why I think that...  Goodreads says it's a neighborhood full of secrets, who all tell their version of one event, and in the end all of their secrets come out.  I vaguely remember a pool.  Maybe that's why I think it's a good beach read.  :-)

The Heist is a novella from my Geocaching To Read List, and I really enjoyed this one.  I hope the author writes more.

To Cache A Killer is another geocaching mystery, part of the Franny Shoemaker campground series.  It was good.  Very much a typical cozy mystery - I would like to read the rest of the series.

Mrs Lee & Mrs Gray was a book club selection.  I love historical fiction.  This one, about the relationship between Mrs Lee & her slave was ok.  

The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams was ok.  What I did not know is that most of these books, although not technically a series, should be read in order so that you have the back story.  Inspite of it being a bit odd, and feeling like I was missing something (I was - I hadn't read the other books) I still sort of enjoyed this, and someday would like to read all of the books in order.

I did the Listen Love Repeat study with Proverbs31 online this year.  It was ok.  Typically I love anything Karen Ehman writes, but I think perhaps I read this one at the wrong time, and it often grated on my nerves (because of my circumstances at the time) and I just didn't enjoy it.  What I needed to be reading at the time was something along the lines of "How to build a moat" or "How to set boundaries with impossible people" - and this is quite the opposite.  :-)

Naked Came The Phoenix was yet another book club pick.  (I'm in two book clubs this year).   This is a mystery written chain style - each author takes the next section, and the next author in line needs to deal with any decisions the previous author made.  I enjoyed it very much, even though it was a bit ridiculous at times, and probably not something I would have loved had it been written by a single author.

Frederik Bachman's books have been some of my favorites recently, so I was excited to read A Man Called Ove for book club.  It was good.  But I liked the others I have read by him much better.

Never Let You Go is one that I rated 3 stars on Goodreads, and when I looked back at it today, I wondered if it wasn't more of a 2 star read.  It was ok.  Not exactly a thriller,or a page turner...  and parts of it still bother me (the dog poisoning in particular), because they don't fit the ending.  But it was ok.

The Flower Arrangement was a good read - not a mystery, but a book full of likable characters.  It would make a good Hallmark movie.  

She Makes It Look Easy was described in one review as a book of "surburban angst".  It's very much in the theme of the grass is not always greener on the other side, even when it looks like it might be.  And enjoyable read.

Books I Really Didn't Care For

The Bughouse Affair by Bill Prozini & Marcia Muller.  I'd been looking forward to reading this series, it's a style that I typically would love.  I'm not sure why I didn't love this one.  I am not going to give up yet, I'm keeping the series on my to read list for now...  "n this first of a new series of lighthearted historical mysteries set in 1890s San Francisco, former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, undertake what initially appear to be two unrelated investigations."

The Girl Before is one of those thrillers I thought I would love, but I found it disappointing. Not terrible, just not great.

The Eggnog Murders, which I thought was a book by Leslie Meir, ended up being three short stories.  Some were better than others.

The Book That Matters Most is one I almost didn't finish.  

The Life We Bury was a book club selection.  I wish whomever had written the description of it had also written the book. The story line had such promise, and the description was fantastic.  I did not enjoy the book.

"Didn't care for" is too mild for my opinion of To Cache A Predator.  I have a list of geocaching themed books I want to read through this summer, but this is one I strongly recommend everyone avoid.  This is my review on Goodreads: 

 "As we headed off to ASPGB (Allegany State Park Geobash) Mega Event for a weekend of camping & geocaching, I packed this book to read around the campfire. A geocaching mystery to read at a geocaching event. How perfect!

No. no. no. 

I should have read the first chapter before we left - if I had, I would have downloaded a different (geocaching themed) book. This book is not about geocaching. Geocaching is mentioned, awkwardly, in terms that feel unnatural & vaguely inaccurate. 

This book is about child molesters. Practically everyone in the town is a registered sex offender, and almost everyone in the book has been a victim. One of the many victims is drugging registered offenders, cutting off their male parts, and hiding those body parts in geocaches. These cases are filed in a folder named "wankers" at the police department, and emergency responders & police officers have to hold back laughter at crime scenes. But its not funny at all.

The subject matter was not what I was expecting, and the absurdity of hiding the parts in geocaches made no sense & felt like a forced attempt to include geocaching in the book. 

In-spite of all of this, I'd be interested in reading other books by this author. Overall this felt like a poor school assignment, meeting weirdly set criteria, but done by a good student with real promise."

Books I Didn't Even Finish

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis is listed as a thriller, and was on someones "Could Not Put Down" list.  (I'm trying to remember where I found that list - but I can't remember.  So far I'm learning that whomever wrote it has very different taste than me.)  I was looking forward to a fast paced thriller, but a few chapters in I felt it was dragging, and just not a writing style I enjoyed. I popped over to goodreads and all the reviews were favorable, stating that it was great in the beginning and drug in the middle before wrapping up nicely.  Since I couldn't even get excited about the beginning, I decided not to stick it out for the middle.  It's hard for me to give up on a book. But there are so many books on my to read list

My List Of Favorite Authors: