Hm, looks like yesterday was our five-year blogaversary. Whoops!
What have we been reading lately? A selection:
— A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev — picked up on the recommendation of a commenter. The female lead is painfully naive at the age of 24, but she has pluck and gumption. I like the complexity of the characters. The male lead is a bit of a dork, but I promise there’s a happy ending with lots of happy family. You should read it!
— More books in some urban fantasy series I’m reading.
— The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers. Parts of this book are fascinating in the descriptions of the creatures who love books and the bookish city they live in (and under). The characters are dinosaurs, gnome-like things, giant talking worms, sentient books, etc…. and YET none of them are female. My score: plus one for whimsy and bibliophilia, minus three for sausage-fest.
— The Duchess War by Courtney Milan (which #2 also read and really liked). Very cute romance with smart heroine. I heard about it on a podcast. An apparent happy ending, then complications. Then a REALLY happy ending! Note this is a bit more sordid than most of the regencies we recommend (it dips its toe into “Victorian” literature not just “Long Regency”), but it doesn’t go into graphic detail and the sordid events are in the past. This book is a bit special because there are a number of times it takes a standard Regency trope and then resolves it sensibly or realistically rather than the way it’s typically resolved. I kept going, I know what’s going to happen now, but oh, it didn’t, that is so much more sensible/realistic than what normally happens. (Also the sex scenes are different than the standard formula a lot of these books use. They illustrate character and provide growth for the couple.) UPDATE: We should have noted that this one is FREE FOR KINDLE. Because it is like CRACK and she knows you will end up getting more in the series. AT FULL PRICE. At the AIRPORT.
— The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato. Heard about it on Scalzi’s blog. Enjoyable and I’ll read the next one. Steampunk/romance/adventure and the heroine is a healer.
#2 has been clearing out some unread books in her bookcase in preparation for her trip, mostly by reading them or giving up on reading them and putting them in the to send/donate pile. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson was ok but not a keeper. Definitely a library book– worth reading once and never again (#1 has read two of these from the library). A number of the “detective-midwife” mysteries that my mom left last time she visited didn’t make the cut because they’re too sordid for my delicate sensibilities. Likewise a number of best-selling book-club books that my sister passed on didn’t make it either because they were too sordid (The Thirteenth Tale) [Hey, #1 liked The Thirteenth Tale! #1 has a higher tolerance for sordid.] or because they were boring (The Possessed).
Two library duds by Mary Balogh. First comes marriage was really clunky and in sore need of editing (she would tell rather than show, then show in addition to the previous telling). The hero was also kind of a jerk. The ideal wife was much better edited, but really stretched believability to the point of cracking and threw in a random gratuitous rape near the end (not a rape scene, but a completely unnecessary rape to illustrate a point that had already been made multiple times and was dealt with as an aside by everyone involved– very poor form). Sometimes she writes amazing work and sometimes you just have to wonder what she was thinking. We suspect the quality of editing may have something to do with it, unless the 2009 copyright on the former novel is a lie. (The 1991 initial copyright may have something to do with the latter’s flaws.) OTOH, A Matter of Class was a delightful novella, and At Last Comes Love, the third in the Huxtable series, was much better than First Comes Marriage (granted, it also has rape in it, but at least isn’t so blase about it).
In related news, I gave Carla Kelly a second try, and Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career was far better than my first attempt at reading her. The ending was still pretty ridiculous– Kelly seems to think she needs to pack in unnecessary drama at the end when a simple conversation would suffice.
One surprising book that turned out to be a keeper is a 1940 YA book (library discard) entitled The Fair Adventure by Elizabeth Janet Gray. Despite the cover and title, it is not actually an Adventure book– I was expecting spies or treasure or something, but nope, it’s a slice of life coming of age book. It is about a girl from the South who has just graduated valedictorian from high school and more than anything wants to go to (a renamed) Bryn Mar. It’s full of her relatives saying sexist things. And yet… Despite being decades earlier than the wonderful Dinny Gordon books, it has a lot of the same themes (though not as good on race issues) and is quietly subversive. Worth a read!
Anything you want to add to your reading list, Grumpeteers? Anything we should add to ours?