Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My April Reading

Keira and romantic comedy? Who'd've thunk?! But Lucy Parker's books were a revelation to me, and I loved them so much, I can hardly wait for her next one. This doesn't mean that I'm going to dive into RomCom now. I doubt it, because whatever I have read in the past has been, ah, execrable not for me. (Convince me otherwise, please!) Nevertheless, I will read whatever Lucy Parker writes.

Act Like It by Lucy Parker
Pretty Face by Lucy Parker
Categories: RomCom
Comments: How I LOVED these two books: the snappy dialog, the wit, the modern characterization, the London theater scene, all of it so detailed and well-tuned. Parker's talent is in building tight, complex relationships that don't feel rushed or smoothened out. All the problems are out in the open, and they are all dealt with. There're no deus ex machina events that magically get characters out of the tight spots they put themselves in. Act Like It was a far funnier and tighter book than Pretty Face, but both are good. My review is here.

Artistic License by Elle Pierson
Categories: Contemporary Romance
Comments: Lucy Parker also writes as Elle Pierson but in a different vein. This is a sweet, gentle story of two socially awkward, diffident people finding freedom and love and trust with each other. How wonderful is that! Each thinks the other is wonderful and talented, and while neither can talk much to most other people, they can talk up a storm with each other. She's an introvert and he thinks he is ugly. This is their meet cute: Sophy James is a twenty-something art student on a tour of a gallery hosting the art collection of the Ryland Curry Corporation in Queenstown, New Zealand. Mick Hollister is the security guard hired to guard the touring collection. While Sophy and her fellow students of the Dunedin Art School were supposed to study and sketch some of the art, Sophy was not-so-secretly sketching Mick. He's irritated by her attention while also reveling in it. My review is here.

Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama
Categories: Children's Picture Book
Comments: I cried as I read this book—it made me proud and it touched me, even as I absorbed the book with my mind and heart. The book covers the important figures of our nation's history with a paucity of words and a wealth of meaning. Obama is telling his kids how wonderful they are and how the beauty and hardships, successes and failures of history are all part of them. He touches upon the bravery of Jackie Robinson, the brilliance of Einstein, the creativity of O'Keefe, the healing power of Sitting Bull, the strength of Helen Keller, the emotional depth of Maya Lin, the kindness of Jane Addams, the persistence of Martin Luther King Jr., the bravery of Neil Armstrong, the inspiration of Cesar Chavez, the pride of Lincoln, and others.

"Have I told you that America is made up of people of every kind? People of all races, religions, and beliefs. People front the coastlines and the mountains. people who have made bright lights shine by sharing their unique gifts and giving us the courage to lift one another up, to keep up the fight, to work and build upon all that is good in our nation."

Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson
Categories: General Fiction
Comments: Set in London during the 1940s, Robson brings the whole wartime atmosphere alive with great characterization and excellent setting. No detail was deemed too small to get right: journalism jobs, character thoughts and actions, pop culture references, the effects of the Blitz on the people and the city structures, and subsisting on the rationing of everything. The gentle, trusting romance is the icing on the top. Ruby Sutton is a young, ambitious American journalist, who's offered a plum assignment to move to London in the summer of 1940 to report on the war. She's great at her job and very passionate about it. The whole wartime journalism aspect of the story is done superbly well. My discussion of the book with two other reviewers is here.

All Through the Night by Connie Brockway
Categories: Regency Romance
Comments: My Dearest Enemy and All Through the Night are among my top favorite romances of all time. ATTN is a story of two strongly adversarial characters who fight their natures, their jobs, and society's constraints for the right to love one another.

Emily and the Dark Angel by Jo Beverley
Categories: Traditional Regency Romance
Comments: Put two perfectly disparate, but highly memorable people together and watch the sparks fly and love blossom. What a great book by a great author.

Whispering Palms by Rosalind Brett
Categories: Contemporary 1979 Romance
Comments: Alas, this book did not hold up to the test of time. It had racism, a brusque domineering wealthy hero, a formerly brave but now doormat heroine, a scheming beautiful older sister, and gorgeous African countryside. Africa was the only secondary character with anything positive going for it—I enjoyed reading about the description of countryside living in the mid-to-late 20th century. Unfortunately, we see only Caucasians in roles of power and wealth with casual racism running rampant through the narrative. Africa is a backdrop, a painting drop-cloth to the story, but it was unable to save it from its cheesiness. I got this 1979 Mills & Boon from a library book sale, and I won't get back the time I invested in it. Back to the library it goes, to be visited upon another hapless soul. Perhaps I should be kind and simply recycle it.

The Rake to Rescue Her by Julia Justiss
Categories: Historical Romance
Comments: I adore Julia Justiss's work but I just wasn't in the mood for the type of second-chance love this proved to be in the first few chapters. It was a DNF for me, and I felt very silently apologetic to Justiss for abandoning her book. In what little I read, the writing is as usual very good. My beef was with the type of story and the characters. The whole tragedy surrounding Diana and why she spurned the young Alastair's love so cruelly in front of all the ton after having professed her love for him was melodramatic and unbelievable. I simply could not move forward from there.