This book is not the revolution. But, Caitlin Moran may have a good point when she suggests we treat female artists unfairly by expecting them to tackle every issue and perspective. And as far as it goes, you will find considerably more about politics, social issues, and how to make the world a better place here than you will in the standard Dave Barry anthology. At its heart, that's what we're dealing with here: a humor anthology. Yes, it has a considerable share of political humor, but it also has pieces about duffel coats, how nobody over the age of thirty actually wants to go out, and Benedict Cumberbatch. They've been collected over a period of several years, so some of them are already rather nostalgic. (One piece, only from just over a year ago, is already rather heartbreaking; about how suddenly Moran loves Hillary Clinton for giving us the image of a woman who could become the leader of the free world in her seventh decade of life.) The short transitions between each piece are sometimes awkward, but they're unnecessary, so just skip them and read the pieces themselves and the longer introductions at the beginning of each section. But for the pieces themselves, there are no misfires.
I received this book from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.
An exciting story about an early leader in abolition and women's rights, one who, for that matter, continued to support black male suffrage even after it became clear that women's suffrage was being sacrificed for fear that both could not pass at once. Far too few people can name more 19th century women's suffragists than Susan B. Anthony and perhaps Elizabeth Cady Stanton (maybe Sojourner Truth at a stretch, but passing familiarity with her is more likely to include only her status as an escaped slave and abolitionist). When I requested this book from ER, I didn't realize that it was a YA adaptation of a fuller length adult biography that had come out ten years before, and I didn't figure it out until I was halfway through the book and discovered a bookmark advertising the line of YA history books. Without knowing it was meant for YA, I found the prose a bit simplistic, but once I realized the intended audience, it made sense and the style seemed appropriate. I hope to have time to read the adult version, Revolutionary Heart, soon, but this was certainly worth reading once.
In a couple of weeks I'll be done with Notable Books reading for the year, so I'll be reading things I want to read and able to think of them not through the prism of whether they're notable or not, and posting here will start again (until I'm buried under potential 2018 Notable Books). But for now, here's the year in review:
How many books read in 2016?
Multi-author, at least one of each: 2
Favorite books read?
Everything that I read by K.J. Charles and Courtney Milan, but particularly K.J. Charles's Society of Gentleman trilogy which is the most beautifully politics-heavy romance series ever. As in Publisher's Weekly complained about it.
<i>Wanted, One Scoundrel</i> by Jenny Schwartz, which I read because I was in desperate need of steampunk suffragettes, but suffrage just turned out to be an excuse for the hero and heroine to meet and the steampunk had no impact on the plot until the last minute. It was your standard bad-guy-tries-to-force-heiress-to-marry-him plot.
Oldest book read?
<i>Jekyll and Hyde</i>, I think
Virtually everything I read this year had just come out.
How many re-reads?
Just four, I think, Pub-Lit books I'd already read
Most books read by one author this year?
Probably K.J. Charles, although I'm not checking. Besides the Society of Gentleman trilogy, there was <i>Rag and Bone</i> and <i>A Queer Trade</i>
Any in translation?
Some I'm sure but it's hard to keep track when I'm not picking them myself
How many of this year's books were from the library?
Twenty-two, I think, but it's hard to keep track when I read some from the library and received copies from the publisher later.
Book that most changed my perspective:
I don't know that any book really qualifies for this.
Cyprian in the Society of Gentlemen
The bit in <i>Futuristic Violence in Fancy Suits</i> where The Hyena is debating that alias, I think. There were lots of great scenes in that book
Most inspirational in terms of your own writing?
Probably <i>Her Every Wish</i>
How many you'd actually read again?
Probably around thirty? Most of the ones I picked myself
Maybe I'll do a general year in review later this week, maybe not.
Underground Airlines takes place in an America in which slavery has continued in four states until the present day. Victor, a black Federal Marshal, is on the trail of a runaway slave known as Jackdaw. But something seems off about this case, threatening to upend Victor's relationship with his work and his past.
Winters's previous series was The Last Policeman, in which a police officer carries on trying to solve crimes even though a meteor is going to collide with the earth destroying life as we know it within a year. So, it's no surprise that he's a master of the alternate universe thriller, easily dropping in details about this America's history and pop culture from the moment they diverge until the present, drawing the reader into the universe without ever disrupting the pace.
An edge of your seat thriller and a masterful exercise in world-bulding.
The Christmas Wager is the first in the Happy Christmas series.
Felicity is claimed from the foundling hospital at the age of sixteen by an uncle who has just recently discovered her existence. Her best friend, who has visions from the spirits, tells her about a future involving a duke and a ruby ring. A visitation from the spirit of her mother once she has moved into her uncle's home leads her next door to Mr. Redstone, an American with an improper reputation who is very much not a duke.
I had problems enjoying this book. First of all, much like the Duke of Andelot, this book is not as different as it thinks it is. There's a forward that explains that unlike many romances in which the hero and heroine meet on the first page, in this one we're going to watch Felicity grow up first, much like Pip in Great Expectations. While it's true that we do not meet the hero until chapter three, that's only twenty-nine pages in. In Great Expectations, we meet Pip as a child, and Felicity is already sixteen when we meet her (although we do get a crash course in her childhood escapades). In the right setting, I'd have thought nothing of the romance already starting at that age. I'd probably have thought nothing of this if it weren't for the forward, but having read the forward I was expecting something more on the order of Jane Eyre. I also never thought there was a serious threat of Felicity winding up with the Duke of Ainsley rather than Redstone, considering that we get Redstone's narrative perspective and don't even really see Ainsley until very late in the book. It's very much a traditional romance, not that that's a problem, except that the forward set me up to expect something else.
Setting aside the areas in which I was expecting the book to be something other than what it was, there were a couple of things that bothered me in their own right. First of all, Redstone kisses Felicity for the first time right after she has directly told him not to. It's one thing not to ask and find out if you're told to stop and quite another thing to go ahead after having been told no. Secondly- and this is something that has happened in more than one Marvelle book- there's a certain frequent equation of sexual satisfaction and fertility. Lots of talk of kissing somebody until they wind up pregnant (which, ok, done right kissing may very well lead to activities that cause pregnancy but whether or not they actually do result in pregnancy has nothing to do with how enjoyable they are) and discussion of filling up nurseries in the middle of seductive moments. I'll admit this is a matter of personal taste, but I find the thought of filling up nurseries to be something that would really kill the mood, and on the other hand I also imagine there are women who suffer from infertility who would be made uncomfortable by the thought that great sex life=tons of babies.
On the other hand: the dialogue is entertaining as always. That's mostly what I read Marvelle's work for. And there are several entertaining side characters whom I imagine will be getting their own books. I haven't decided yet whether or not I will be reading them, but given the size of my pet peeves against pregnancy being brought up in sexy talk and somebody I'm supposed to be rooting for doing anything physical to the other after being explicitly told "no," the fact that I'm even considering it says something.
A Gentleman's Position is the third in the Society of Gentlemen series.
Throughout the previous books in this series we've come to know Lord Richard Vale, the second son of a Marquis, one of the older and wiser heads in the Society of Gentlemen and endlessly dedicated to doing the right thing, and David Cyprian, the best valet in London and the fixer whenever something needs to be done quietly. Lord Richard is firmly against relationships that come with an imbalance of power, which is why he can't bring himself to admit his attraction to his valet, and it's not Cyprian's place to make advances on his master. When they can no longer keep their feelings for each other a secret, they are forced to negotiate what they can be to each other, given their respective positions in the world. In the midst of it all, an old enemy comes back whom only Cyprian can disarm for good.
I didn't love this book quite as much as A Seditious Affair, but that would be a tall order. There was a period between the revelation of their mutual attraction and the beginning of the external crisis where the pacing felt a bit off to me and Lord Richard and Cyprian seemed to be having the same argument over and over. Once things got back underway, it was a wonderful exploration of privilege, perspective, and devotion. I'm sorry to see this series come to an end.
In Shining Armor is the fourth full length book in the Pax Arcana series. There are also several e-short stories that take place before and between the preceding books.
John Charming, Knight Templar and werewolf, and his girlfriend, the Valkyrie Sig, find their camping trip interrupted when John's goddaughter is kidnapped. Constance, like John, has both Knight and werewolf blood, and is key to a treaty between the two groups. Both share the responsibility of guarding her, and both think the traitor is in the other's ranks. John isn't a big fan of working within any ranks at all.
I've long enjoyed the amount of mythology that is worked into the Pax Arcana series. This is what John Charming does, he's almost a century old, and he knows the territory. I'm also struck by his believability as an almost century old (regenerating, Wolverine-style). Yes, he's still a smartass after all these years. He's been through some stuff; he was raised by people who thought he should have been killed as a freak of nature, and he's seen someone he loved killed because of him. He has very believable problems with authority. But as odd as it is, he also has a certain maturity. His relationship with Sig is one of the most reasonable I've seen in urban fantasy. They didn't rush into it after some stuff that went down with her previous relationship in the first book, and when their various issues get in the way they work stuff through and deal with it like adults.
I love this series. It and the Rivers of London books by Ben Aaronovitch are my two go-to recommendations for fans of The Dresden Files. I just wish I knew what the release date was for the next book, Legend Has It.
This review is based on an ARC that I received from the HarperCollins booth at the Public Library Association Conference. And I'm not going to lie, it's the only book I went to a booth in the exhibit hall asking about specifically. I actually don't think I've ever paid for a book in this series. I got all of them either through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program, at conferences for the American Library Association or its divisions, or a couple as gifts, but I have changed my plans at conferences to make a beeline for the exhibit hall if I found out that Richard Kadrey was signing the latest.
It can be a little difficult to get back into the Sandman Slim world because James Stark's circumstances have a tendency to change radically in each book. On the other hand, it does keep things fresh. In this edition, he starts out working for Thomas Abbott, the augur of the Sub Rosa Council, to investigate a missing boy and some council members who may have ties to Wormwood. Stark's having trouble adjusting to a relatively stable existence, made worse by the problems of no longer having access to the Room of Thirteen Doors. Things don't stay calm for long, and a chain of events involving angels, a mysterious weapon, and an old flame of Vidoc's culminates in finding a new way to go back to Hell, with all of the grisly humor of the previous books in the series. And once again, at the end, Stark finds himself in a drastically different position at the end of the story.
The Perdition Score will be published on June 28.
Her Every Wish is a novella in the Worth saga, following Once Upon a Marquess.
Daisy Whitlaw is the sole support for her mother, who is in poor health. When a charity bequest is offered for the best proposal to start a new business, she seizes on the fact that the contest does not technically say it is open only to men to set out her plan to open an emporium for working class women.
Crash comes from a proud line of sailors and dock whores. He's of uncertain paternity and mixed race, and dubious associations. He also charms men and women alike, refuses to let anyone else define his place in the world, and is currently planning to open a shop to sell velocipedes, a less stable predecessor to the bicycle.
Crash and Daisy had a tryst some months before that ended in a stupid argument, and then Crash left the country. Now he's back and is prepared to teach Daisy how to swagger and bluff her way through the final presentation of her proposal.
This is a novella, and almost necessarily a rather simple story, but it is elegantly done. The conflict between Crash and Daisy is resolved naturally, as spending time with each other again leads them each to understand how the other heard what they'd said back when things went wrong. Supporting characters don't get as much space as they would in a full novel, of course, but Crash and Daisy's family members are all a joy for as much as we do see them. And of course, since it's a Courtney Milan story, the dialogue is terribly entertaining and the plot uplifting and feminist in a completely believable 19th century kind of way.
A Seditious Affair is the second in the Society of Gentleman series, after A Fashionable Indulgence. There are no spoilers for the first book in this review, but there are in A Seditious Affair, and I don't just mean the rather obvious fact that the two main characters wind up together (these are romances, after all, so you knew that, right?).
For the past year, Silas Mason and Dominic Frey have been meeting every Wednesday. Frey needs to be dominated sexually; Mason wasn't previously inclined to that kink but liked the idea of having a chance to abuse a rich Tory and found that he liked it (but no whips, he has personal experience on the wrong side of those). They have sex and discuss books and current affairs, but neither knows the other's name, so things take a turn when they each realize that Frey works for the home office and Mason is running an illegal, radical print shop in his book store.
I loved this book. I love me some 18th/19th century radical politics, and K.J. Charles may do the combination of sex and politics better than anybody else. Mason and Frey are both deeply principled men but capable of friendly disagreement, which might be as beautiful an example of wish fulfillment fantasy as anything else that's ever been seen on the pages of a romance novel, and tightropes they walk so as to maintain their relationship while remaining true to their beliefs will keep you enthralled until the last page.
Just another nerdy librarian