Tag Archives: book related

Summer and fall reading 2018

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau – recommended by someone on Twitter, liked the premise in theory and found the book readable, but didn’t care about the characters at all.

Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois Bujold McMaster – nice to circle back to the Vorkosigans but nothing groundbreaking here.

Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews.  Painful retconning to make Hugh D’Ambray a palatable protagonist.  I didn’t really care about the romance, and would’ve been more interested in Hugh as villain adrift without the retconning.

The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English by Lynne Murphy.  Very interesting and extremely readable for non-linguists.

Provenance by Ann Leckie.  Interesting, but not as gripping as the Ancillary series.

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly.  An interesting mental exercise, but it seems a little strange and speculative to interpret backward based fiction texts; one could just as easily have selected much more conservative positions and defended them using different passages from the same texts.

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews.  Andrews writes very readable books.  As I read them, the plot holes and worldbuilding inconsistencies don’t matter.  It’s only after I’m finished that I think, well, that doesn’t really match up with prior texts.  The denouement was…predictable, I guess.  With lots of other series bait.  And more retconning for Hugh D’Ambray.

The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It by Tilar Mazzeo.  Picked this up on impulse while at the Battery Park Book Exchange; it seemed appropriate in light of their extensive champagne menu.  Fascinating if a little speculative about some of the widow’s early life/experiences, given lack of primary sources.

Leverage in Death by JD Robb.  DNF.  I’ve mostly stopped reading this series, but a copy of this was on an end cap at the library, so I borrowed it on impulse.  I’m so sorry.  Look, if Roarke is a bazillionaire capitalist and investor, he probably in theory should understand how markets are regulated, and if he’s also a brilliant reformed criminal he should understand civil and criminal authorities engage in manipulation investigations. Maybe Robb could have done some research before building a plot around it; it reads as sloppy and lazy.  Not impressed.

 

 

 

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Done with In Death?

I’ve stopped buying the In Death books by JD Robb, and have transitioned to library borrowing.  But after trying to read the most recent iteration, Dark in Death, I think I might be finished with the series.  There was some really poor type-setting or copy-editing, which is sloppy but basically commonplace at this point in all levels of publishing.  The plots were getting repetitive, but I could forgive that in a comfort read.  But in this book Peabody slut-shames potential victims; Dallas initially reprimands her and then does the same thing.  And then Roarke joins the judgment parade.  For a series and character that is generally sex-positive, that was really disappointing.  When you add the victim-blaming on top of that?  Nope, done.

I’m kind of sad, since it feels like the end of an era for me.  I can remember when the In Death books first appears in WaldenBooks on the little cardboard display stands.  This was back before it was common knowledge that JD Robb was a pseudonym for Nora Roberts.  I started reading the first book at about the time the third one was published, after being hand-sold the series by a bookseller who said I would like them if I liked Roberts (*wink wink*).  I read the first one and then the next two immediately after, and then all new ones as they were published.  It has only been the last couple of years that I stopped pre-ordering to have the books on release day, corresponding to my reading slump.

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Checking in

Well, I have failed at reading Middlemarch.  Again.  But I’ve started listening to the audio book, narrated by Juliet Stevenson (whose Persuasion I enjoyed), so maybe I’ll get through it in that medium.

A couple of other books from the library have been slightly more successful.  About A Girl by Lindsey Kelk read as fluffy chick lit, a lighter version of early Marian Keyes.  It was fine; I probably would have really enjoyed it 10 years ago and gone looking for the sequel, but now it reads as pretty derivative to me.  Olivia de Havilland’s memoir, Every Frenchman Has One, was charming.  It was dated, of course, and narrated a lifestyle that seems as alien and distant to me as medieval England or China under the Han dynasty.

I ran across an interview with Lois McMaster-Bujold in which she talked about self-publishing her work as electronic rights became/become available, along with a Penric short story.  The story, Penric and the Shaman, was a lovely little adventure; it went over much better for me than her last full book.

Currently I’m reading one of Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mysteries, and I’ve got a Le Carre novel up next; the one that has been turned into a movie recently (out this summer), its title escapes me at the moment.  There are a couple of library books sitting on the table, as well.  After that, who knows.  It’ll be time to pick out some beach reads by the time I finish all that up…assuming I manage to finish them.

Saw Love & Friendship, which was quite funny; I’d recommend it not only for the costumes and set decoration but for the acting and writing of the screenplay.

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The last Temeraire book

I managed to read a book!

Having said that, I finished it mostly so I could say I had finished the series rather than being really engaged.  League of Dragons felt like a let down to me; I just didn’t really care about or believe in the ending for Lawrence and Temeraire.  The series ending just felt…unsettled, to me, for lack of a better word.  The Big Conflict is under control [spoiler: Napoleon is exiled in the end] but all the social issues that supported the plot and story arc are not resolved.  Why bother to point them out or make me care as a reader if the series just stops with little or no progress on their front?

I’m on a bit of a roll, reading-wise.  After reading LoD, I picked up a couple of library books.  One is finished, A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev.  I recognized the name from reviews, maybe at Dear Author or elsewhere, but didn’t remember the substance of any reviews.  The book blurb implied (to me) a sort of Indian chick lit, but it read as a beefed up Harlequin Presents.  That’s not necessarily a negative; I’ve consumed a large quantity of HPs in my reading career.  It wasn’t really what I expected, but once I readjusted my expectations, the book was fine and entertaining, a pretty fluffy read, although I really didn’t care for the hero and didn’t buy the character revision or retconning at the end to make him appear less like a selfish jerk.  (He was a pretty typical HP alphahole.)

Now trying to read Middlemarch.  Some day I shall finish it.  I hope.  And I’ve got $50 and change in Apple rebate money burning a metaphorical hole in my pocket.

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Delayed again?

Apparently the next Rivers of London book has been postponed again, now to January 2017?  That’s more than two years after the last release, Foxglove Summer.  That’s a long time between series books for anyone not named George R.R. Martin.  I can only hope The Hanging Tree will be better edited and more coherent than the last books, which could have used some serious editing and maybe some basic proofreading.

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Recently read

I haven’t read much recently.  I keep trying, but…

The only thing I’ve finished is Nora Roberts’ The Obsession, which felt kind of repetitive.  Home reno porn plus tacked on suspense, except I guessed the Bad Guy immediately because who else could it have been among the characters she’d introduced early on. [Which is generally what NR does.]

I keep trying to read Wickedly Powerful by Deborah Blake because I like the idea of the series, but I haven’t managed to get past the first chapter.

Noped out of a couple of books found via Dear Author’s daily bargain posts.

Meh.

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A news magazine/website/feminist media source I subscribe to sent another blast email today.  They must raise $50,000 quickly in order to remain an independent media voice.  I think independent media is important (and dying), but I find these email blasts kind of irritating; rather than making me want to write a check, they make me wonder about how the organization, which is a non-profit, budgets.  I mean, constantly asking for dribs and drabs seems like poor cash flow management to me.  And by constantly, I mean at least every other month.  I’d be much more likely to write a single large check once a year than to send multiple payments following multiple solicitations that all proclaim *emergency*.

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March reading

March was kind of meh for reading in the early part of the month.

As mentioned, I was less than impressed by the portion of the Captive Prince trilogy that I read.

Patricia Briggs’ Fire Touched came out early in the month as well.  I’ve given up on her Omega books set in the same world; as I mentioned when I read the last book, Anna’s dismissal of Charles’ desire to not have children Seriously Pissed Me Off and struck me as profoundly offensive in a way that would’ve had readers up in arms if their positions had been swapped.  Mercy…eh, I have mentioned before that her acquisition of a new power  or tool of power or conveniently powered/talented friend whenever one is needed seems lazy.  And it happens again here. Plus, Mercy’s internal monologing in which she knows better than Adam about how he feels about god/religion strikes me as profoundly patronizing in much the same way Anna “knowing best” about whether Charles should want to have kids did.    Yeah, stick a fork in me, I’m done.

I’m almost finished Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies (non-fiction), which I’m really enjoying.

And I’ve got the first installment of Ms. Marvel to read next.  And the web comic Check Please.

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Random:  I was reading an NPR piece on “Boston Chinese” food and ran across one of my language pet peeves, the use of cache for cachet.  They are spelled differently; pronounced differently; and have completely different meanings.  How freaking difficult is it to use the right word.  Boston Chinese does not have “a certain cache”; it has a certain cachet.  FFS.

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