Some Honorable Mentions of 2014

The Day of Lists continues:

Here are the books I wanted to include on my best of, but something kept me from it.

Honorable Mentions should go to (in alphabetical order):

He Drank, and Saw the Spider (Eddie LaCrosse, #5)He Drank, and Saw the Spider

by Alex Bledsoe
My Review
You could substitute Wake of the Bloody Angel here. This series has long-surpassed the gimmick of a hard-boiled detective novel in a generic fantasy setting. Pigeon-hole it however you want, it’s just a good book.
4 Stars

The Lives of Tao (Tao, #1)The Lives of Tao

by Wesley Chu
My Review
Despite the buzz around this, I wasn’t sure I was terribly interested — nor did I really know what to expect. So, so glad I took the chance. A barrel full of exciting, gun-blazing, snarky fun.
4 Stars

Bad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths and Other Tales of Dark FantasyBad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy

by Harry Connolly

My Review
I’m not normally a short story reader, but more collections like this might make me one. Different types of fantasy, all well written, even in the stories that aren’t my cup of tea I found something to enjoy.
4 Stars

The Severed StreetsThe Severed Streets

by Paul Cornell
My Review
Audible.com has provided a sample of the audio book version. Give it a shot, I’m betting 30 minutes won’t be enough.
I was impressed by the first in this series, London Falling, but this kicked it into a different gear. It’s about London as an entity as much as it is about these characters and their opponents — it’s dark, twisted and a little hopeful. Some fine writing here.
4 1/2 Stars

The Intern's Handbook: A ThrillerThe Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller

by Shane Kuhn
My Review
Hyper-violent, comic commentary on corporate cultures with heart. Or something like that.
4 Stars

The HumansThe Humans

by Matt Haig
My Review
Haig’s got this gift for making us look at ourselves with the oddest type of outsider. Ultimately, I realize I’ve read and watched this story before, but I was either finished or nearly finished before I had that insight. Either way, didn’t care, because no one had told it like this.
4 1/2 Stars

The Westing GameThe Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin
My Review is forthcoming
I’ve sat down to write the review of this one I don’t know how many times. I read this dozens upon dozens of times as a kid — loving the characters, the story, the strange little puzzle. And then walked away from it for decades. Reading it this summer was a wonderful blast from the past, and although I felt like I could recite the thing en toto I couldn’t, it still filled me with joy. Not just for nostalgia’s sake, either. This was probably one of my 3 favorite reads of the year, but it felt like cheating to put it on the main list, so here it is.
5 Stars

LandlineLandline

by Rainbow Rowell
My Review
A marriage on the rocks, a career on the brink, a magic telephone and Rainbow Rowell’s charm and heart. What more can I say?
4 1/2 Stars

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette

by Maria Semple
My Review is forthcoming
First book I finished in 2014, and it’s stuck with me the whole year — even as I struggle to write a review. A strange, impossibly strange and entirely believable world, populated with people I’m convinced could exist — and maybe do. I don’t know what else I can say about this (probably explains the year delay). It’s good. Funny, heartfelt, tragic.
4 Stars

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The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn

The Intern's Handbook: A ThrillerThe Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller

by Shane Kuhn
Series: John Lago Thriller, #1


Hardcover, 276 pg.
Simon & Schuster, 2014
Read: May 5 – 7, 2014

“Interns are invisible. You can tell executives your name a hundred times and they will never remember it because they have no respect for someone at the bottom of the barrel, working for free. The irony is that they will heap important duties on you with total abandon. The more of these duties you voluntarily accept, the more you will get, simultaneously acquiring TRUST AND ACCESS. Ultimately, your target will trust you with his life and that is when you will take it.

So says John Lago, in his unofficial handbook for employees at Human Resources, Inc. — a false front for an organization of hitmen. He Handbook is part memoir, part confessional, part how-to, part the reflections of a professional

Along with nice tidbits like this, we get to see John’s last assignment for HRI — he’s sent in as an intern at a prestigious law firm to identify a shady partner and eliminate him. Having reached the ripe-old age of 25, retirement is looming (hard to believe someone in their late 20s is an intern anywhere), and he’s determined to go out on top. But for the first time in his illustrious career — things don’t go well for John. And when that starts to happen, it goes bad fast and in several different ways.

Bad for John, good for us — because watching him try to navigate out of trouble, while maintaining his cover is a blast. John’s a real professional, and whatever misgivings are starting to creep into his subconscious, his instincts are sound. Alice — initially, a fellow intern and competitor, and eventually, more — isn’t exactly what she seems, but is a fun character no matter what angle on the character we’re seeing. The head of HRI, Bob, is exactly the kind of shady, manipulative scoundrel you’d expect the executive behind an army of paid assassins to be.

By page 3, I’d written in my notes “smart, funny, sharp — if he keeps this up, I’ll be happy.” He did keep it up, and did better, there was an unexpected genuine heart in this book (particularly the last couple of chapters). The voice was fitting (and great) — as a fan of movies like Grosse Pointe Blank and The Whole Nine Yards, John’s less-than-charitable musings on pop culture depictions of his field were quite amusing and had the ring of truth. The action scenes were well-written, you could see everything (usually from the edge of your seat). Recommended.

—–

4 Stars