Beach reads

The fall edition of the In Death series seems to come in the first or second week of September every year; invariably I’m at the beach, hunting for beach reads and succumb to the lure, even though I’ve stopped buying or bothering to borrow the February/March installment.  (What was it this year?)  Anyway, I cruised through Festive in Death on Wednesday.  It was okay at best: the murderer was predictable; Roarke acted as consultant (which just makes me cringe on  so many levels in terms of professionalism and chain of evidence, etc.); various interactions with their acquired family; “vital” appeared at least once; and various typos that should have been caught in copyediting were pretty glaring.  It was fine for an afternoon under the umbrella but nothing about it stands out from the series, unlike a few of the earlier books.

While it was raining on Monday, I read Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women.  I can see how it would have been groundbreaking when it was published in 1992, but now it reads as somewhat dated.  I found the “coded language” excuse for purple prose to be not particularly convincing, and would interested to read an update on the part of Kinsale’s piece regarding men on covers in light of the very common (now) male torso cover shot.  Several pieces seemed to be making the argument that romance heroines are drawn as “not like other girls”, which is frustrating because it turns out that in the end, romance heroines actually are just like other girls.

Apparently I am a pleb without taste, because I keep trying but just cannot get into the first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, Whose Body?  The dialect or pronunciation as delivered in type to show education/class just makes me cringe, like other spoken dialect reduced to writing.  (This is a personal pet peeve — I hate it, regardless of who the author or character is.)  And I just don’t care about Wimsey enough to keep going: I don’t find him particularly interesting or engaging.

Meljean Brook’s Heart of Steel was a find in a B&N remainder bin, and I’m so glad I picked it up.  The heroine makes the book, and it worked so much better for me than the other Iron Seas books or serials.

The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney was an impulse purchase; the cover art caught my eye and the mention of “alternate Portugal” sold the book.  How often is Portugal a setting for anything other than Napoleonic War-set historicals – if even briefly?  The story itself was interesting and a good setup for a fantasy series, but I was disappointed with the Portugal or lack thereof in the story.  But for the use of Portuguese names, there was no particular sense of Portugal-as-place in the story; it could have been set in any turn of the 20th century post-colonial country in Europe.

It’s overcast and windy today, so I’m puttering around.  Maybe I’ll try to read the last book I brought:  Dunnett’s The Game of Kings.  I’ve tried several times to get into the Lymond Chronicles, and this time it’s either power through or give up permanently.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Beach reads

  1. rosario001

    The first couple of Wimseys are very far from the best. I always recommend people should start with Strong Poison, which is where the romance arc starts. That’s something that’s definitely worth reading, for the exploration of what it would mean to build an equal relationship between two people with very unequal power in the outside world.

    And yeah, the dialect can be quite annoying. I am rereading the whole series from scratch, but I’m listening to the audiobooks this time around. That helps!

    • Thank you for this information, Rosario. I’ll try Wimsey again with it in mind.

      Response to dialect is odd; I can listen to it without a problem in books or real life but reduced to writing it looks awkward and heavy-handed.

  2. hey jmc, thanks for your comment at my old roundup post. i have finally(!!!) been able to reply. sorry to have been slow. computer issues…

    I tried Strong Poison as I was directed to start there. I was ‘meh’ on that title and tried two others. They did not take. For me, it was the characters. I didn’t find them compelling enough to stick with. Couldn’t ever quite figure out why it was but I found them tedious.

    My preference for dialect is for it to be described as the way a character talks but for the style of the dialog to be standard. All dialog is representative. It’s an approximation of interactions; it can never be a true reflection.

    • I’ve been told that Whose Body isn’t really the best place to start, so I’m going to try Strong Poison. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll add Sayers to the list of authors others love but not for me.

      • Yeah, that’s what I had to do. She’s in good company… I’m told anyway. 😉 It’s funny how some authors just don’t catch you even when all the signs are there that they should.

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