Random (but not really)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Year in Books: My Favorite Books: Romance and Mystery

I’ve always loved mysteries, from Nancy Drew to Trixie Beldon to Sherlock Holmes as a kid, to Spenser, Sonchai Jitplecheep, and Inspector John Rebus as a grownup. Grandmom shared this love of mysteries, so after her death, I sort of drew back from reading as many mysteries, because it often made me sad when I’d think, “Grandmom would LOVE this!”

But, I’ve started back into reading mysteries again, and there were always a few series that I was keeping up with, regardless.

Romance is a new field for me, one I was drawn into through the amount of paranormal fantasy I was reading. I eventually decided that as long as I knew before hand I was reading a romance, it wasn’t that bad. However, most of the romances I’ve been reading are either part of a fantasy series I was already into, or much older books I’m just now discovering.

Unless otherwise stated, all books were published in 2012.

Romance

Steel’s Edge (The Edge) Ilona Andrews

This is the final book in The Edge series, so there was quite a bit to wrap up, but I think they did it admirably. Ilona Andrews has said they may write more about these characters in the future, but not as part of this series. So if you’re a completist, all four books are available now!

These books have boinking, but not a huge amount of boinking. Just so you know.
 
 
Scarlet A. C. Gaughen

This is a take on Robin Hood that I initially had a hard time getting into, but once I got to about two chapters in, I couldn’t put it down. Will Scarlet is actually a girl hiding from her past, and only three people know Scarlet is actually a girl, and none of those know her true identity.

I really enjoyed this, and was surprised not to see a sequel, because there easily could be one. Not much boinking here, though there is an open acknowledgement of sex.

My review of Scarlet.
 
 
Kilts & Kraken (Gaslight Chronicles) Cindy Spencer Pape

This series is more a bunch of serial novellas, so be aware the stories are relatively short.

There is also a LOT of boinking.

But the world building and the characters are so wonderful, I keep getting the books in this series because I enjoy them so much in spite of all the graphic sex.

There were actually two stories in this series published this year, but I didn’t find the second quite as good as this one (or the previous stories).

My review of Kilts & Kraken.

 
 

Mystery

The Custom of the Army (2012) Diana Gabaldon

I read my first Lord John story in the anthology Down these Strange Streets, and I almost immediately went looking for more stories about Lord John. The first book I found was good, but the next two I read, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade and Lord John and the Hand of Devils were excellent, and I was immediately pulled in.

The Custom of the Army is a novella featuring Lord John, a major in the British Army during the Seven Years War. The fact Lord John happens to be gay, at a time when that could lead to his hanging, makes his life even more dangerous.

The history in these stories is my second favorite thing after Lord John. She is meticulous in her research to make sure the details are historically correct. And some of those details are pretty amazing to modern eyes.

These aren’t your typical mysteries, but neither are the romances either, so I’ve mentally classified them as historical mysteries and moved on.

My review of The Custom of the Army.
 
 
Vulture Peak (Sonchai Jitpleecheep) John Burdett

I don’t remember anymore why I initially picked up Bangkok 8, but once I did, I was drawn into the story and the characters and the city and have eagerly awaited each additional book in this series.

This is NOT a series I recommended to Grandmom. Bangkok is not a place for the faint of heart or squeamish, and these books reflect that. That said, these books are also amazing, and it never fails to astound me the things that are ethical and immoral in Sonchai’s world.

My review of Vulture Peak.
 
 
Beastly Things (Commissario Guido Brunetti) Donna Leon

This is a series that Grandmom really enjoyed. Brunetti is an inspector in the Venice police, and Venice is as much a character in this series as Bangkok is in the Sonchai Jitplecheep series.

As are the meals Brunetti and his family eat. I have two Italian mystery series I am keeping up with, and in both the food is as much a part of the book as the place and the (inevitable) murder.

Although some books are better than others, all are good, and all are worth reading.

My review of Beastly Things.

My favorite romance and mystery covers of 2012.

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