The 19 Books I Read in October

Sarah Strohmeyer, Bubbles All the Way It had been over a year since I’d last read a Bubbles book, and clearly my memory sucked. Lucky for readers, throughout this novel are references to earlier adventures in the series, so you’ll be caught up. Apparently, in the previous novel, Bubbles Betrothed, hairdresser/journalist Bubbles Yablonsky’s daughter Jane had been kidnapped. Now Jane’s undergone a personality transformation, scared to be left alone, and screwed up to the point that seemingly the only way she could improve is for her parents – Bubbles and the skeevy Dan ‘Chip’ Ritter – to remarry. The author’s acknowledgment page mentions a ‘hellish year’: I don’t know the details, but for a supposedly humorous novel, the tone is rather dour – Bubbles has problems big-time. Her main worry is a woman in the salon Bubbles works at part-time who dies from hair extensions with mistaken latex glue. Bubbles’ boss at the newspaper doesn’t want her investigating, but of course she does. The novel was actually quite interesting, until I came to the final chapter. In the acknowledgments, the author mentions a ‘radical twist’, and indeed it is. But it is also extremely unlikely. Now, when Karin Slaughter pulled a radical twist in Skin Privilege (published in the U.S. as Beyond Reach), she put a super-secret letter on her website explaining things to readers. Ms Strohmeyer didn’t leave a note with a secret URL, so I’ll have to do some investigating. But the final chapter aside, this novel is actually a pretty good read: even if you do want to knock some sense into the characters.

Michelle Spring, In the Midnight Hour At one point, the name Jackson replaces Armstrong. Guess that got past the proofreaders.

Ayelet Waldman, The Cradle Robbers I don’t like kids, so you’d think that I wouldn’t like a series where the narrator tries to combine work (legal investigation) with marriage and motherhood. I should, but I don’t. The author’s a great writer, and this novel is another good read. I especially like how it shows that spouses and kids are never ideal, thus displaying a realistic view of families.

Edward Ball, Peninsula of Lies A fascinating ‘non-fiction mystery’ about the true sexual identity of Dawn Langley Simmons (formerly Gordon Langley Hall). In 1960s Charleston, Dawn tested many taboos of the time: she married a black man, underwent one of the first sex ‘correction’ surgeries at Johns Hopkins and gave birth to baby Natasha. Or did she?

JA Konrath, Bloody Mary The problem with making pop culture references is that people die: in this case, the Crocodile Hunter.

Tami Hoag, The Alibi Man Crikey Mo! You’re going about your reading, thinking this is rather a decent read. Then nearing the end is the most gruesome scene you’ve read since…well, it’s been a bloody long time. The victim is a wealthy evil bastard, but did he really deserve what he got? Read the book and find out: it’s a cracker.

PD Martin, The Murderers’ Club Okay, so our narrator is a half-Australian/half-American working for the FBI. She has an Australian accent. But littered throughout the novel are phrases by her (and other characters) in which negatives are used where I would’ve used positives. Eg (and I’m making up a sentence here, but it shows you what I mean): ‘Let’s give them a call, see if we can’t get a lead on this.’ Where it says ‘can’t’, I would’ve said ‘can’. The author is from my very own state of Victoria, so does that mean Americans are to blame in this instance? I don’t know, but maybe you can give me some insight.

Heather Graham, The Dead Room
Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events #4: The Miserable Mill

Tate Hallaway, Tall, Dark and Dead Well, the Vatican agent stuff was interesting.

Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black, The Spiderwick Chronicles #4: Lucinda’s Secret
Janet Evanovich, Lean Mean Thirteen

Jacqueline Wilson, Clean Break If you haven’t read anything by this author, it’s well and truly time you do. She’s among my top three young adult writers (I can’t pick which order), but she is hands-down the best author in the junior fiction section of my library. The author is a prize-winning favourite and readers’ choice for very good reasons. There are characters that everyone can relate to, and they have dimensions: some you like, some you don’t, and others that have you changing your mind throughout. The premise of this novel is universal and utterly believable: a father walks out on a family. And the novel’s turning point sees our narrator meeting her favourite author (Jenna Williams, for whom even her illustration seems based on Jacqueline Wilson herself). So what are you waiting for? Track down the author’s books now!

Marta Acosta, Happy Hour at Casa Dracula Liked the scientific/medical aspect of vampirism. But I’m surprised that CACA didn’t feature more.

Kerry Greenwood, Trick or Treat LiveJournal gets a big mention, yet the author doesn’t have an account. And in one scene our narrator wears a jumper with parrots on it – surprisingly, our narrator is not Kath Day-Knight.

Paul Cleave, The Killing Hour Ace writing: “It wasn’t a moving mortuary with handcuffs and leather straps hanging from the roof and rails, no signs of blood and hair pooled into the corners and caked into the floor. Sort of like the Scooby Doo mystery van, had Fred and Shaggy moonlighted as sexual predators.”

Sarah Strohmeyer, The Cinderella Pact There’s a character named Charlotte Dawson, and every time her name came up I thought of the New Zealand judge from Australia’s Next Top Model.

Tess Gerritsen, The Mephisto Club It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to get my mitts on a Gerritsen novel, but the wait was well worth it. The author consistently produces excellent book after excellent book, so you can guess what this one is. Realistic characters, believable yet icky family situations (see the Rizzoli clan), an unlikely romance…and, of course, a rather intriguing case on which Dr Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli work. The subject matter is fascinating, and the tension is genuinely scary – and that’s a rare thing for me to come across. An engrossing read that reminded me of why I love books. Now here’s hoping I can get my hands on The Bone Garden soon!

Eileen Goudge, Woman in Red The author used to be a Sweet Valley High ghost-writer. There were a few times in the novel when I thought ‘OMG SVH!’ Martha was great character, but I often like characters who aren’t the protags. Jeremy’s story was a lot more interesting than the other two storylines, so naturally Jeremy’s story barely featured. Sigh.

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