A long walk, grumpy women and space opera.

>> Saturday, September 08, 2018

Three B books today. All enjoyable, to different degrees.

TITLE: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
AUTHOR: Rachel Joyce

Harold Fry has recently retired and is feeling a bit at a loss. When he receives a letter telling him a friend he hasn't seen for a very long time is dying, he's sad, but not devastated. But then his walk to the postbox to send his response letter suddenly turns into a walk to visit her, hundreds of miles away.

I really liked this. The setup has a touch of the Forrest Gump to it, but the feel is quite different. Harold is an ordinary man who never quite realised he was in a bit of a crisis. His sudden decision to start walking (in completely inappropriate shoes and no gear) is as big a surprise to him as it is to those around him (probably bigger, actually). And through his adventures he start dealing quite effectively with what ails him.

I think what I liked best was that the story is as much about him as about his wife Maureen, left at home. Maureen changes just as much, and strangely, they grow together even though they're physicallyapart. I found this to be quite a moving book, with some nice, gentle humour.


TITLE: Along Came Trouble
AUTHOR: Ruthie Knox

This one is part of Knox's Camelot series (starts with the How To Misbehave novella). What sparks everything off is the stormy romance between a famous pop star and a girl-next-door type pregnant woman. But this story is not about them, it's about Ellen, the pop star's sister (and neighbour to pregnant lady) and Caleb, the security specialist hired to keep troublesome paparazzi away from her.

This one was ok, but not particularly memorable. The most interesting thing about it was how Ellen was quite grumpy and difficult with Caleb (for very good reasons). I got a sort of perverse pleasure out of it. There's also a nice secondary romance (the pop star brother and Ellen's neighbour), where actually, the woman is pretty difficult as well. A bit of a theme in the book, I guess! The story did take quite a while to get going, and it wasn't particularly a page turner even once it did, but it was nice enough.


TITLE: Finders Keepers
AUTHOR: Linnea Sinclair

I do love a bit of space opera, and that's what I got here. Trilby Elliot, our heroine, is a small-fry freighter captain. She's making some repairs to her ship in an uninhabited planet in the middle of nowhere when an enemy ship crashes close by. She's surprised to find a survivor there, and not an enemy, but a Big Deal military man from an empire that is a new ally to Trilby's. Rhis Vanur was on a spying mission and he needs to go back to base with what he discovered asap. And he is now reliant on Trilby and her battered ship to get him there.

I loved the dynamics between Trilby and Rhis. Trilby is from the Conclave, a fairly easy-going group, whereas Rhis is part of the Zafharin Empire, ruthlessly organised and with a reputation for being cold and cruel and humour-less. The setup reminded me a little bit of my beloved Cordelia and Aral in Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor, and Rhis is exactly my favourite kind of hero: one who's had to be rigid and closed down all his life, but who is a softie underneath.

I was less enamoured of some of the twists and turns of the plot, but romance-wise, this was very good.

MY GRADE: A strong B.


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