5. The Lark and the Wren by Mercedes Lackey – Do I have to admit to reading this? Oh dear. I blame any fantasy or sci fi selections on my husband. Last summer as the wedding was fast approaching my brain could no longer handle any books that required much of me, so my then-fiance went to his bookshelves and handed me some of Lackey’s fairy tale books and then her Heralds of Valdemar trilogy. I’ve never been a fantasy reader, but I was completely hooked. He was sneaky though! He didn’t tell me at the time that the Valdemar trilogy had evolved into dozens of books set in this world. I think I’ve read all of them now — every time I’ve thought I was done, another trilogy would appear in the depths of his bookshelves. (Now that we’re married, I have alphabetized his shelves. I couldn’t help it.)

As for The Lark and the Wren… Hrm. Not as good as the Valdemar books, but interesting enough. This  trilogy (Bardic Voices) is about traveling bards – some magical, some gypsy – and each book focuses on a different pair of bards, though the three stories do build an overall story arc.

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (large print. Yes, I said large print.) – I’m not sure there’s much left to say about this international bestseller. I did feel that it took a LONG time to get to the meat of the story, but once Larsson gets to the action, you realize it was worth the wait. Some of the more gruesome scenes were too much for me, but I liked that the lurid parts were empowering instead of demeaning to women, as is so often the case. I would not recommend this book to anyone sensitive to detailed depictions of violence, but if you can handle those parts, it’s a great read. Several people have also recommended the movie, which recently came to our local indie theater. If I can convince my husband to sit through three hours of subtitles, we’ll be seeing it soon!

As for the large print? Well, the library’s hold list for the regular version of the book had at least 100 people on it, so I put my name down on the large print list instead. This saved me months of waiting, but I think that the large print contributed to the feeling that the book was at times overly long or slow. It also made me feel either very old (like my Grandma reading the large print Reader’s Digest) or very young (like a kid with her first large print chapter book).

7. Something Blue by Emily Giffin (audiobook) –  This was one of those books you pick up because you need desperately an audiobook for your commute and the library selection is slim. I hated the protagonist. HATED. Perhaps it’s unsophisticated of me to feel this way, but it’s human nature, yall: I prefer books with sympathetic, compelling narrators. Giffin’s lead does eventually show some degree of character development, but it was too little, too late.

8.  The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs – Apparently February was chick lit month… Not my genre, but it was a stressful month. This was a quick read with a collection of predictable plot twists. The story is primarily about a single mother who owns an NYC knitting store and her daughter, but the narration alternates between the various ladies of the knitting club, giving you a glimpse into the tangential stories of a quirky and diverse group (though fairly stereotyped). Recommended if you’re crafty and looking for an easy read.

9.  An Arsonist’s Guide to the Writer’s Homes of New England by Brock Clarke (audiobook) –  Welcome back to the land of unsympathetic narrators! This was an odd one. The more I read (or listened), the more I realized how strange and unreliable the narrator was. Unless you’re prepared to descend into a sad, dark, confusing, mentally ill world, I would not recommend the Arsonist’s Guide. It certainly didn’t meet my strict audiobook criteria, which I will tell you about some time soon.

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