>> Wednesday, May 06, 2009
April wasn't a month of spectacular reads, but most were pretty solid.
TITLE: Then Comes Seduction
AUTHOR: Mary Balogh
Second in the Huxtable series. This one's about the third sister, Katherine, who is the subject of a really awful bet made by hero Jasper. He ends up repenting at the last minute, but a few years later, they are not able to avoid the consequences. Strangely, even though it had the potential to be quite angsty, it wasn't. In fact, the first book in the series, in which hero and heroine didn't have such a conflictive history at all, was much more so. I did like it quite a bit, though.
MY GRADE: A B.
TITLE: To Seduce a Sinner
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Hoyt
TSAS is also second in a series, this one the Four Soldiers series. Wallflower Melisande has been quietly in love with Jasper (hmm, just realised it's yet another Jasper!) for ages. When he gets jilted by his second fiancee in a year, she steps forward and offers to marry him. Jasper has only been vaguely aware of Melisande's existence, but once she's right before his eyes, he can't believe he never noticed her.
It was quite a nice, sweet, gradually developed romance. My only complaint is that Melisande has a very interesting history that isn't really as well developed as it should be. I got the impression it was only used as an excuse for giving her a lot of sexual knowledge and making the book extra hot.
TSAS also continues the storyline that started in the first book, about the investigation into was the traitor responsible for the massacre at Spinner's Fall. I found this as interesting as the romance, and can't wait for the next book to see what develops. The next one seems to be a nice gothic, too!
MY GRADE: Also a B.
TITLE: Moon Called
AUTHOR: Patricia Briggs
First in the Mercy Thompson series, which is urban fiction. Everyone who loves UF loves this series, which I suppose means that since I thought this was nice enough but nothing special, UF will never be my favourite genre. I did really like Mercy as a heroine. She's tough and brave, but sensible with it. No feistiness and certainly no episodes of TSTL behaviour. If there's something she can't cope with, Mercy is the first one to run for help. The worldbuilding is interesting, but I have to say werewolves make me a bit uncomfortable (er... reading about werewolves, I mean. I imagine real werewoves would make me a bit more than uncomfortable!). I think it's the whole thing about dominants and submissives, which plays a large part of the character development here. This is not romance, but there is a bit of a triangle being set up, with two characters clearly interested in Mercy. I'd like to see how it develops, but I don't know if I'll have the energy!
MY GRADE: A B.
TITLE: Tempted All Night
AUTHOR: Liz Carlyle
I really enjoyed myself while reading this one, but only a few days after, there's only some vague feelings about it in my mind. Definitely didn't make a huge impression, clearly. It's got one of those heroines determined to get involved in something dangerous... this time it's Phaedra wanting to rescue her lady's maid's sister, who's abandoned her child and is apparently working in a brothel. Although given Phaedra's history, this determination ends up being understandable, even if to the reader it's obviously a pointless activity.The hero, Tristan, is investigating some spying related to the same brothel, and so they work together. I liked both characters, and enjoyed their interactions, very much including the love scenes. Pretty steamy, this one, with some non-standard hints which were really well done.
MY GRADE: Yet another B. See what I mean about a solid, unspectacular month?
TITLE: The Economic Naturalist
AUTHOR: Robert H. Frank
Only the latest of many "popular economics" books I've been reading. This one's got an interesting format: the author, an economics professor, sets his students an assignment every year that he calls "economic naturalism". The idea is that they have to look around them and ask a question about how a certain area of the real world works the way it does. Then they have to answer by applying economic principles. You get questions that range from "Why does a light come on when you open the refrigerator but not when you open the freeezer?" to "Why do brides buy a really expensive dress that they'll wear only once in their lives, whereas grooms rent a suit that wouldn't be that expensive to buy and they could actually wear plenty of times in the future?". There are some interesting ones, but really, to someone with a background in economics, most are a bit too obvious.
MY GRADE: A B-.
TITLE: Predictably Irrational
AUTHOR: Dan Ariely
More pop economics, this one concentrating on the most fashionable field of behavioural economics. Behavioural economics is all about how we human beings often don't behave in the way economic rationalism would predict, and how we deviate from those predictions in, er, predictable ways. We have certain biases, in other words. It's an interesting field, but I think I've been reading way too much about it for work, because most here was stuff I'd already read about in other books. Not Ariely's fault, of course, but it did result in me not enjoying the book as much as I might have. A more objective criticism I have is the writing style. It felt somewhat uncomfortable, in an "I'm an academic trying as hard as I can to write in plain English" kind of way.
MY GRADE: B-.
TITLE: The Woman Who Walked into Doors
AUTHOR: Roddy Doyle
I read this one for my book club, and that's the only reason I would ever have picked it up, and the reason I finished it at all. I knew I probably wasn't going to enjoy it. I tried my best to keep an open mind about it, but I think I would have felt the same way even with no preconceptions. It's about the life of an Irishwoman called Paula Spencer, who ends up married to an abusive man. The book starts as she receives the news that her husband, who she had succeeded in kicking out a year ago, is now dead, and Paula looks back at her life. I suppose objectively, it's a successful book, in that if you consider it sets out to accurately describe the unrelenting ugliness of this woman's life and how complex the relationship between an abused wife and her abuser can be, it does that pretty well. Unfortunately, I hated every minute of it. I couldn't stand Paula, which might be a failure in MY character. As much as I understood why she'd be as she was, I despised her for even after almost 20 years of abuse, still making excuses for this horrid bastard and still loving him. The D I'm giving it is purely about how much I enjoyed my experience of reading it. If I had to rate it thinking about how well it does what it wants to do, I think possibly more a B. I've got one bit of objective criticism, and that's that after Paula's descriptions of exactly what Charlo did to her for 17 years, I didn't believe for a minute that she would have been able to get rid of him the way she did. Oh, no, he wouldn't have stayed gone. Eh, well, at least it was quite short.
MY GRADE: A D.
TITLE: If You Dare
AUTHOR: Kresley Cole
First in the MacCarrick Brothers trilogy. Oh, I had high hopes for If You Dare. I mean, an Andorran setting? But unfortunately, after a little while I had to recheck the copyright, to make sure it was 2005 and not 1985. It had a horrid old-school vibe, with a feisty, foot-stomping heroine and a complete asshole of a hero. I probably would have been able to tolerate Annalia, but the "hero" kept treating her like shit, making stupid assumptions and accusations, like the worst examples of bodice-ripping idiots way back when. My limited reading time is too valuable for this.
MY GRADE: DNF.