The Compulsive Reader: Reading Rants: Adult Books I've Enjoyed Recently

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reading Rants: Adult Books I've Enjoyed Recently

You know I'm all about the YA, but expanding your TBR list to include a little diversity is good, too, and I've read a lot of very, very interesting non-YA books lately that I think you all will enjoy too!
The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned these books on the blog before--they are downright hilarious! It's a very fun steampunk series about Alexia Tarabotti, a spinster and half-Italian (two very unfavorable things for a young lady of London to be) who also happens to be soulless. This tends to be tricky when it comes to being around werewolves and vampires and the like. There are five books in the series (and I wish there were MORE) and they are: Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless (to be released in 2012). I just finished Heartless, and it was so, so good.

This is an excellent crossover series, so I definitely encourage you YA readers to pick it up, even if it is technically an adult series. Plus, there's at least one perk--as a mass market paperback, the books are only $7.99 each!

Flavia de Luce mysteries by Allan Bradley

This is another series with delightful characters (and equally delightful titles) that I think many, many people will enjoy. It's published under an adult imprint, but the series is narrated by a brilliant and humorous 11-year-old girl named Flavia de Luce. She is the youngest daughter of a British family living in a crumbling family manor in 1950, and she is an avid chemist. When a dead body turns up on her family's property, it's the most interesting thing that has ever happened to her, and she sets out to help solve the mystery.

My high school English teacher (also the same lovely lady I now work with at the bookstore) introduced me to the books about 2 and a half years ago, and both my mother and I fell in love with them. The first book is called The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. The second is The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, then A Red Herring Without Mustard, and just released, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows. I read on an ARC that there will be 6 books in the series, so yay! I just got caught up with the second and third books, and I got my mother the fourth for Christmas. Now she needs to hurry up and finish it so I can read it as well!

Sookie Stackhouse books 1-3 by Charlaine Harris

So...about this series. So not what I normally read. But for the first few weeks that I worked at the bookstore, it felt like every time I turned around, someone was either asking me my opinion of the books, or telling me that they were really good. Since I knew basically nothing about the books except for what I've seen of the sexy (and bloody) stills from the show True Blood, I decided to see what it's all about. It doesn't seem very fair to judge a series by their on screen adaptation.

All reviews I have read have said that the books are all about blood and sex. I didn't really see that in the first book, Dead Until Dark. In fact, I thought DUD was funny, sweet, a little scary, and a really good start to a series. So after I finished I took myself over to the library and got books 2 and 3. As I delved into Living Dead in Dallas...whoa. I could see where the reviewers were coming from on their previous statements. I don't object to sex in books, but I just wasn't getting into the book at all. I felt like the plot was being driven entirely my lust, sex, and orgies. But, I finished and resolved to give Sookie one more try in Club Dead. Unfortunately, I hit my requisite 50 pages and couldn't do it anymore. I ended up returning it to the library unread and pretty disappointed, because I really liked Sookie's character. I just wasn't grabbed. 

If only all of the books could have been like Dead Until Dark...

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This one was a Shelf Discovery post a few weeks ago, and I'd been hearing such good things about it, I couldn't wait to read it! I started reading it one day at the bookstore, but then our copies all sold (which is so good but so frustrating) and I ran to the library for it. Miracle upon miracles, it was available! I got right back into it.

Here's the thing about The Night Circus: It's beautifully written, but not very linear. Non-linear books are NOT bad books, but I didn't expect it to be so all over the place. I thought that the constant jumping around would settle down after about 50 pages, when the scene was set, but it didn't. It continued throughout the entire book. Marco and Celia may be made out to be the main characters in the summary, but they aren't, not really. There are many other characters who get just about the same amount of page time as they do--the two magicians just happen to be at the center of all of the drama.

At first, I was really disappointed about all of this. I wanted an unfolding story, not brief glimpses into the lives and major events of all of these people spanning 30 years. However, the closer I got to the end, the more I liked it. It was a beautiful, magical, unreal book that really transports you, and I think that the narrative only aided in creating that atmosphere. I definitely recommend it!

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

This was another Shelf Discovery post--read here to see what it's about and how I discovered it! 

So, a dystopia retelling of The Scarlet Letter is something I am ALL over. I found that the Kindle price on this book was $3.28, and I couldn't resist. I devoured it in a day (right before exams...not smart) and I absolutely loved it.

Jordan does such an excellent job at creating this society that is so eerily similar to our own, yet contains processes and laws and customs that are really terrifying. It does follow the original story in its major events pretty well--you can most definitely see The Scarlet Letter in When She Woke. However, this one has what Nathaniel Hawthorne's story lacks--action! There is a lot of danger, suspense, fear, and complicated emotions here. Hannah Payne goes through s much, and she comes out on the other side much more different. The upside to this one is that the ending isn't so final and clear, leaving room for the potential of hope and happiness. I was completely enthralled, and I highly recommend this book!

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

I admit, I had never heard of Bill Bryson before I started working at the bookstore. His books are everywhere there--in travel memoirs, writing reference, nonfiction. I probably wouldn't have even picked up one of his books though if his A Walk in the Woods hadn't appeared on my reading list for my Lit 401 class next semester. 

A Walk in the Woods is about Bryson's decision to walk the Appalachian Trail upon his return to the US after living abroad in England for many years. He has hiked before, but never backpacked. He is not in the best of shape. But he plows on, and begins in Georgia in the spring with the intention of reaching Maine in August. Accompanying him is his childhood friend Katz, who is in even worse shape than Bryson, and offers all of the comedic relief in this memoir. It is a very funny, very informative book about the history of the Appalachian Trail, its challenges, and how to avoid a bear. It's a great one to read if you aren't too sure about reading nonfiction and want to give it a try, and it's very, very funny.

What non-YA books have you been enjoying lately?


fantasylover12001 said...

Yay, someone else who loves the Parasol Protectorate series!
I'm actually about to read the Night Circus and I think I'll have to check out that Flavia de Luce series now.

Christina T said...

I love the Parasol Protectorate series too and though it is coming to an end, Gail Carriger is working on a YA series set in the same world. I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of Alexia...

I also liked The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and Dead Until Dark. I didn't like book two that much either. I have read all of the books so far but I am no longer a fan of the series.

Mari said...

I like the Sookie books for when I want something fun and easy to read. I got The Night Circus for xmas. Can't wait to read.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I'm reading Agatha Christie's autobiography right now. It's always fun to see how the Victorians lived, and I love getting a glimpse into another author's process.

The 2k12 banner looks great! Thank you for doing this for us.