Books…

Read Let it Snow which is a set of three short stories/novellettes put together in book form about teenagers at Christmas in a small town.  The Maureen Johnson one is written like she talks on twitter or in podcasts.  It’s like… her.  And there’s some funny bits, but her story wasn’t all that compelling, partly because I’m not a fan of the falling for someone you just met because you’re on the rebound trope (these are not really spoilers because the tropes are so highly telegraphed). The John Green one is so John Greeny.  I kept reading little bon mots aloud to DH telling him that John Green is the best at saying short things that at initial glance seem very profound, but after thinking about it for a while (with the patina of middle-age)… they’re really not.  But John Green KNOWS teenagers (or at least 20-something John Green did, since I believe this is one of his earlier books).  And indeed, teenagers do say profound things that in the end aren’t so profound.  His story was totally believable and made me remember being obnoxious and stupid with teenage friends late at night.  Also I’m a sucker for the friends to lovers trope, so…  Lauren Myracle’s was also realistic but I don’t want to read about the unpleasant embarrassing ridiculously angsty parts of being a heartbroken teenager (maybe teenagers do?).  I skimmed through it and really only read the last chapter which brought back the characters from the first two novellettes.

Mr. Hotshot CEO by Jackie Lau was free on amazon (now $3.99 again).  It was ok.  Like, I don’t begrudge the time I spent reading it, but also rich man sweeps regular woman off her feet is not my favorite genre.  And this one was a full novel instead of a novella, so there was time for an extended “boy loses girl”… which, meh.

Intercepted by Alexa Martin was pretty good (in a chick lit reality show kind of way) after she lost the ex-boyfriend, though the last (of several) “boy loses girl” didn’t make any sense… the boyfriend acted really out of character.  I think she could have had the boyfriend and girlfriend talk about the situation and it still could have resulted in “boy loses girl” for a little while and everything else, because it’s a hard situation.  The boyfriend is too much of a jerk in Fumbled for me to get into it, plus it’s one of those if the two people had just talked, then the story wouldn’t have happened.  The guy in Blitzed goes ballistic in a super scary way near the beginning of the book and no amount of “that’s so not like him” could make up for it in my mind.  If you like Real Housewives entertainment, you’ll probably like the other two books in the series more than I did.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare wasn’t anything special, but it was enjoyable popcorn nonetheless.  Forgettable yet relaxing.

Read all of the Hidden Legacy books out so far by Illona Andrews.  They are EXTREMELY good.  Burn For Me is the first, though I started with the second book and liked it better.  (It was interesting to see how their depiction of race evolved throughout the books– in the early ones you can see that they’re trying, but in the later ones I think they get it right.)  Then I branched out into more Illona Andrews books.  I’d tried the first Kate Daniels years ago and couldn’t really get into it (DH’s SIL says this is normal and the series gets much better after the first book).  I tried one of their spinoff series called Iron and Magic and just didn’t like it.  It’s very much like an old Harry Turtledove though without the alternate history or time travel, but you know, in terms of the feel.  And the world is too bleak for me to enjoy that kind of book right now.  Then I went to their webpage and discovered they have free short stories and are blogging out chapters for another Kate Daniels spinoff series (I think they always blog out their chapters as they write and then take them off the webpage to clean them up, edit, and turn into a novel after) and I got hooked on it (this Kate Daniels spinoff seems a lot more like the Hidden Legacy books and less like Iron and Magic).  I also found a Kate Daniels spinoff in an anthology called Hexed.  I enjoyed most of the novelettes in Hexed and am going to check out the full length novels of two of the other authors.

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon was also fun popcorn.  I really like the way that there’s an actual good reason for the Boy Loses Girl part of the arc rather than just stupid miscommunications.  Thank you!

Speaking of cozy reads, the first Aunt Dimity was quite lovely.  The library didn’t have the second and I’m just not willing to spend $10 for a four star book from the 1990s.  The third book, Aunt Dimity’s good deed was really dated.  Not that enjoyable.  I finished it but kind of wondered why I bothered.  I vaguely remember this happening the first time I started the series back in the 1990s.  Go me and my instincts for realizing sexist tropes were sexist back then, I guess.  (Have I mentioned I hate the “male character kisses heroine he just met not on a date without asking” trope?  Pretty sure I have. It’s NOT ok even if he doesn’t know she’s married.)  Dimity Digs In was fine, but Aunt Dimity’s Christmas was SO cringey in so many ways.  I think I’m done with the series.  The first book is very good and a soothing balm in trying times, but the rest… enh.

Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert was fun!  It’s a LOT like her first Ravenswood book (a steal at only $2.99) in terms of the personalities of the hero and heroine, but it’s different enough to still be great.  I’m a little disappointed that the next book about her sister isn’t F/F, but I will read it when it comes to my library (it’s $10.99 on Kindle right now … if it were more like $5.99 I’d buy it without trying it first and if it were $7.99 I’d put it on my amazon wishlist for Christmas and probably end up impulse buying it before the…but from the excerpt I’m not sure I will actually want to reread the book).  I may end up purchasing all three after the third comes out (I do own most of her books at this point).  In terms of evolution of the author– I think she’s gotten to be a better writer… her newer stuff is somehow fuller, better written.  But that Ravenswood series legit made me cry on multiple planes, whereas Chloe Brown did not.  Definitely an author I will continue reading everything from!

Read or reread a few Mrs. Polifax books… they were less soothing than I remembered.  Possibly I hadn’t read these later ones, because I didn’t remember her ever being remarried.  My library had pretty limited options, so there were only a few choices to read.

Slay by Brittney Morris is really good.  Although it’s not as hard as The Hate U Give (also an excellent book), it’s still not an easy read.  There’s death and misogyny and dealing with difficult things.  There’s also some really excellent messages about individuality and culture and so much more that are just done really really well and I envision excellent reading discussions about some of the unanswerable questions that the book brings up (this book screams small discussion group questions).  Though to be truly honest, I really wish she’d write a spin-off novella that’s just riffing on the fun parts of the book, because I do think those are important too.  Sort of a Full Metal Panic Fumoffu.  Like, yes, FMP is the better series, but Fumoffu is so comforting, and sometimes we need that.  (My anime nerds get me here.)  Give me a little more fantasy and a little less death/terrible boyfriend/etc.

I had to actually go inside the library to renew my card.  Not a fan of that.

What has been getting you through the summer?  Any recommendations?

21 Responses to “Books…”

  1. Donna-Lee Tucker Says:

    Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew is a pretty soothing book.

  2. Steph Says:

    Literally the only thing I’ve been reading for months is romance novels. I’ve been enjoying Katrina Jackson (“Office Hours” is about two profs falling in love and it’s adorbs) and Rebekah Weatherspoon (I’m late to the “Rafe: a buff male nanny” craze, but it was actually super cute). And I have mixed feelings about Kit Rocha, but I’ve also plowed straight through 8 of the 9 Beyond novels, so they’re working for me somehow despite some of the elements getting repetitive. Most of these are high heat/erom, and the Beyond books are BDSM-heavy, so heads up if that’s not your thing.

    I actually just ordered “Take a Hint, Dani Brown”, even though I haven’t read Chloe’s book yet; Talia Hibbert and some other romance authors are doing a virtual panel next Saturday https://www.harvard.com/event/bookstore_romance_day_panel1/ and I want to read it before then

  3. jjiraffe Says:

    I haven’t been able to do the “serious” reading I normally pursue–life has been serious enough! I have enjoyed a few Elin Hilderbrand novels, especially “28 Summers” which has lots of 1990s nostalgia, a complicated heroine and Nantucket–which I am obsessed with, and like to go visit in my mind.

  4. omdg Says:

    I really liked Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. I find I like YA literature a lot, actually.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      #2 liked those John Greens too. #1 has been told she’d probably like an abundance of katherines but hasn’t gotten around to it yet. It really has been a great time for YA literature this past decade or so.

  5. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    “You Deserve Each Other” was pretty funny. Also, “Bringing Down the Duke” was fantastic. And the sequel to Dread Nation came out; I liked it, but not quite as much as the first one.

    I have also read my library’s entire store of British Crime Library Classics ebooks. Some of them were very good! Some were terrible.

  6. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    Oh! Also Lord of Stariel (free here through Friday: https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/i798sd/an_effortpost_directory_of_36_new_zealand_fantasy/) and Silver in the Wood (which I got free through Tor’s giveaways a while back). And I got a free ARC of Hench, which I’m looking forward too! It was a good week for free books.

  7. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    AND ALSO Babylon Steel and Dangerous Gifts by Gaie Sebold, on a rec from Charlie Stross.

  8. xykademiqz Says:

    “And indeed, teenagers do say profound things that in the end aren’t so profound.”

    LOL I remember the stuff that came out of my college boyfriend’s mouth; I thought he was so deep, and I was so unworthy. In hindsight, it was all such juvenile bullshit, and I was simply too clueless and insecure to see it. Man, I am so happy to be old!

    I read romance as a teen, but haven’t in years. These days I read mostly sci-fi and horror. So much horror! It turns out, I can’t watch horror because of jump scares and terrifying music, but I love LOVE reading it and writing it, too. So my guilty (or not so guilty) pleasures are all scary and speculative. Alas, my sci-fi book club doesn’t like horror. :-(((

    I have no patience anymore for contemporary literary fiction a la Meg Wolitzer or Liane Moriarty. I find them predictable and tedious.I also don’t care for YA fiction mostly because the coming-of-age aspects don’t interest me much in my advanced cronedom.

    Books I’ve liked in recent months and years:

    My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (it is soooo well written!)
    The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders (not perfect, but I enjoyed it)
    The Murderbot series by Martha Wells (novellas are better than the novel)
    Dark Matter and Recurrence by Blake Crouch
    The Binti trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor
    Everything by John Scalzi (the Interdependency series is really good) and Nnedi Okorafor
    The Wayfarer trilogy by Becky Chambers (beautifully written, character-driven sci-fi)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’ve never had patience for contemporary literary fiction– one of the MANY reasons I can’t joint a book-club.

      There’s some excellent YA fiction that isn’t so coming of age (or star-crossed lovers who die as teens or what have you). Some of it is quite funny or delightfully rompy, but generally it’s all SPEC Fic or historical adventure, so… Somewhere we’ve got some posts on what we like.

      I did just check out something like 8 A Lee Martinez books from the library today (curbside) because DC1 discovered zie liked them (some of it is horror, but beautifully campy horror… Too Many Curses was a big hit). Some of them are in the JV or adult sections, but most are shelved with YA.

      Martha Wells is the BEST. I fell in love with her fantasy back in high school (#2 thinks some of her older books are too sausage-festy, but I like her heroines). We enjoy murderbot too.

      Scalzi and Okorafor are also great. (You know, the Binti trilogy is YA… our copies are from Scholastic, even)

      • xykademiqz Says:

        Okorafor can do no wrong! Binti is such a wonderful protagonist, and the story is really interesting and well told.

        In my sci-fi book club, we had a string of novels I just hated for the same basic reason. They were all first novels written by young writers celebrated as geniuses, and they all read like YA to me even though they were supposedly for adults. All coming-of-age stories with teenage protagonist who are either unbearably whiny or unbearably smart-assy, thinking they’re far more clever and interesting than they are. Some, like Gideon the Ninth, I couldn’t get through. Gideon fills me with incandescent rage, it’s fucking unreadable. People say the audio version is great, but I kept dropping it every five pages because I was so annoyed by the cluttered, self-important, meandering style, overfocused on aesthetic (Goths! In space!) at the expense of actually having some semblance of plot. I dropped the book completely about 20% of the way in, when I realized I hated the protagonist and the antagonist and pretty much everyone in the stupid book, and wished they’d all just drop dead.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        There’s good stuff out there too! It’s not all Twilight and The fault in our stars and self-indulgent retreads of Catcher in the Rye.

        Book clubs just seem like work. If I were more extroverted I might do one, but I’d really rather just read books I want to read, you know? (I’m more likely to end up at an anime club in that scenario, TBH.)

      • xykademiqz Says:

        The book club isn’t too bad. I wanted to I’ve been in it for nearly two years now. I wanted to broaden my horizons, meet some like-minded people in meat space, and it’s OK for the most part. I’m the only foreign-born member and I think it still low-key weirds some of them out. Plus me being generally annoying. I know when you’re new you’re supposed to be quiet and listen and defer, and I did, but it’s been a while, and I’m no longer keeping quiet. I think it still unnerves some. Oh well. But most are nice and fun and funny (they’re mostly older than me) and some have a great breadth of knowledge of old sci-fi, which I find super fascinating.

  9. accm Says:

    Currently re-re-re-reading MK Wren’s Phoenix Legacy. It’s of its time (tech extrapolations from 1980!) and has some definite problems, but the overall idea of trying to reform a completely messed-up society works well. Plus the future-historical overviews are cool, including (morbidly) the Decade of Disasters that starts real soon and includes a pandemic.


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