||[Jan. 31st, 2015|10:22 pm]
Romancing the Duke - Tessa Dare
The World's Wife - Carol Ann Duffy
Carol - Patricia Highsmith
My Real Children - Jo Walton
In The Woods - Tana French
The Likeness - Tana French
Because I wanted to continue dipping my toe into historical romances this year, my first book of 2015 was Romancing the Duke, in which an impoverished young lady and secret author unexpectedly inherits a castle, only to find that the previous owner, a crotchety and recently blinded duke, is still in residence. It was light, and charming, and neatly managed to avoid the tropes (rape as love, dub-con stuff) that I am leery of encountering in historical romance. To be fair, I don't know how prevalent those tropes really are, and how much I'm just being a snob...
There was some good stuff in there about being a fan, too, which I thought was quite impressive to work into an historical romance.
So I'm going to read the next Castles Ever After book, and then I'm going to go back and see what else selenay has read and liked. Because in books, as in fanfic, if you find someone whose tastes overlaps with yours, then it's okay, I think, to stalk their recommendations.
The World's Wife is the first collection of poetry I've read since, gosh, secondary school. That's one reading resolution for the year ticked off! A collection of poems about the wives of historical, fictional, and mythological figures; all excellent. It's probably the only book of poetry I'll read this year, but at least I'm not scared of poetry any more!
Fun fact, I have to read poems aloud, or at least mouth along, or my brain just skips right over them. So, no reading on public transport.
Carol I'd been meaning to read for years and finally got around to it in anticipation of the upcoming film. I found it a bit slow in the beginning, but compelling and beautifully written. But because it was a book about lesbians written in the 50s (late 40s, maybe?) I was reading it braced for tragedy. And the fact that it didn't end in tears was such a huge relief and, like, a crushing weight that I didn't even know was there off my shoulders. This, by the way, is why diversity in fiction is as important now as it was in 1952. Anyway, I ended up really loving it.
Despite the fact that I want to read every word Jo Walton has ever set down in print (and also, kind of, poke around inside her brain to see how it works) I had put off reading My Real Children because the main character is an elderly woman with dementia - real life and my hobby getting a little too close, there - who remembers living two different lives. It was a lot like Kate Atkinson's Life After Life if more overtly science fiction-y. In the end I was glad I read it, I thought it was wonderful and swallowed it whole.
Then I read In The Woods and The Likeness, the first two books in The Dublin Murder Squad series, where a secondary character in the preceding book is the protagonist of the next one. They're good; a bit more literary than your average murder mystery series, which can be a good thing, but sometimes seems to come at the expense of pacing and narrative urgency.
I'll get back to the rest of the series, but there's a reason why my current read is Dead Girl Walking by Chris Brookmyre, which has no illusions at all about being literary, but is certainly exciting.
One of my new years resolutions vis-a-vis reading was to abandon books that weren't working for me. Now I often come back to, and ended up loving, books that I've abandoned, because it was a timing thing more than anything. But with the aim of fewer false starts in future I'm going to start recording books that I did not finish and why.
So in January I DNF Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts, which despite it featuring a lesbian main character and dragons, and thus being right up my alley, I abandoned at about the 1/3 mark for the following reasons, 1) the writing, which was a bit blunt and functional; nor necessarily a deal breaker, but not what I was in the mood for just then, 2) the main character having a lot of self loathing and internalized homophobia, including lashing out at the idea of a wider gay community, and I get enough of that in the privacy of my own skull, thank you very much.
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