kitchendinah: (reading)
[personal profile] kitchendinah
19. Just Like Heaven - Julia Quinn (romance)
20. Secrets of a Proper Countess - Lecia Cornwall (romance)
21. Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart - Sarah MacLean (romance)
22. Invisible Things - Jenny Davidson (YA AU)
23. Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse) - Charlaine Harris (Vampers)
24. Bossypants - Tina Fey (Humor)
25. School for Brides - Cheryl Ann Smith (romance)
26. Beauty Queens - Libba Bray (YA)

19. Just Like Heaven - Julia Quinn (romance)

Marcus and Daniel were BFF growing up. Daniel's much younger sister Honoria was a pest, but Marcus thought her a good egg anyway. Daniel does something stupid and gets driven out of England and charges Marcus with looking out for his wayward sister as she navigates the marriage mart. Romance ensues. It's your usual witty Quinn romp with a healthy dose of girl-next door and sickroom tropes, (the former of which I'm fond of, the latter, meh,) and while not an instant classic is still highly readable. If you like Quinn and the Bridgertonverse, you'll probably enjoy this.

So I think we're heading back to Bridgertonland permanently. This isn't explicitly a Bridgerton novel proper, (it's a Smythe-Smith and yes, there IS a musicale!) but the setups were put in place for at least two Bridgerton men, there's a Smythe-Smith brother running around unshackled, and we were introduced to a whole bevy of unsung beauties (at least four, five if you think Daisy can be saved,) who could be the leads in their own novel. In fact, I'm pretty sure Sarah was mentioned in passing in at least one previous novel although not necessarily by name. So yay for Ms. Quinn for having a plan? I'm happy to indulge her so long as we never see anything like the Miranda Cheever book ever again.

20. Secrets of a Proper Countess - Lecia Cornwall (romance)

Phineas is a marquess with a carefully cultivated bad reputation and some closely held secrets, but really wants to be loved for himself. Isobel is a widowed countess who is in a sticky situation because her past allows her dead husband's family to manipulate her shamelessly. Masquerades, misunderstandings and mysteries abound, but true love and luck prevail in the end. There's some standard-issue Napoleonic spy stuff in here, definitely not as good as some, but it won't make you gouge your eyes out (unless you're a history student, of course, in which case why DO you do this to yourself? Read contemporaries instead!)

I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, for a debut author it's fairly solid, will stand on its own as a standalone, is not crammed with characters destined to be the leads in sequels (something you rarely see any more,) and I rather liked all the leads. On the other hand, Isobel and her bestie has some serious TSTL moments. I can forgive Isobel most of it due to her background, but there were moments when I wanted to drown well-meaning Marianne in a ditch. I think the plot got overly bogged down at the end with too much happening at once an not being handled quite cleanly enough, and there was a supernatural aspect shoehorned in at the end that I really disliked and am choosing to ignore. So. Do I recommend this? I'm not sure. I'd probably advise taking it out of the library or seeing if you can get a discounted paper copy as opposed to getting nailed for the full Agency ebook price if you're interested. I'll probably take a crack at the next book the author puts out to see how she's progressing, because I do think she has potential - she's just not there yet.

21. Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart - Sarah MacLean (romance)

Okay, this was much better than the last one. Third in a series, this one features Juliana Fiori, illegitmate sister of the Marquess of Ralston and his twin, falls into a stormy relationship with Simon, the Duke of Leighton who values image and reputation over all. If you've read the last book in the series, you know that's going to be a problem because the his sister secretly being knocked up and unwed was one of the plot devices (ineffectively) used to move that one along. Anyway, they get along about as well as you might expect given her background and the massive stick up his ass despite the fact that they're both hopelessly attracted to each other. There are some interesting plot twists: Juliana's ne'er do well mother turns up at one point and Leighton gets to be somewhat less insufferable at the the end, even if it's not necessarily by means of his own choosing. It's not a bad little series by any means, although you can definitely see the author learning her craft as she goes. The first is definitely the best, though. I'd like to see her try her hand at some standalones or another series. (I suspect there may be a Twelve Things to Do When Looking For Your Sweet Baboo on the horizon before that, though. I just don't see her leaving Simon's sister in a relatively unresolved position.) Do I rec it? Yeah, if you've already started the series. I think MacLean could be really good in time, she has that more modern, irreverent voice that I enjoy lately, and I think she's worth supporting to see if she can get there.

22. Invisible Things - Jenny Davidson (YA AU)

Sequel to the Explosionist, which I freaking adored. This one I'm not as enamored of, but am still entertained. Alternate European history prior to WWII, lots of crazy famous scientist namedrops.

23. Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse) - Charlaine Harris (Vampers)

So the last couple of Sookies have been, how shall we say? Less than fabulous. I think the least one I enthusiastically enjoyed was All Together Dead (the convention one) - several books ago now. Harris has managed to bog herself down with far too much backstory and dangling plot points and just plain guys drooling over Sookie and the last few books have barely done more than layer even more of this on top of an already complex universe. Somehow Harris has seemed realize this and while Dead Reckoning is not the deck-clearing powerhouse that that Jim Butcher's Changes was, she's still managed to implement some closure for several items (I hope) and looks like she's finally moving towards a goal. On the upside, she's killed that blood bond between Sookie and Eric (yay!) and has more or less driven off Alcide (double yay although that was a seriously shoehorned in bit,) but the fairy thing is still going on and as I find that the plot line LEAST relevant to my interests, (I hate fairies,) I spent a lot of the book rolling my eyes as aside from the resurrection of the Debbie Pelt storyline (although not Debbie Pelt, thank God,) it really was a prominent plot element. I'm also not sure where she is with the Hunter plotline in her head, but I think if she wanted to let that one go it's actually at a fairly decent end point.

(I think Sookie's going to end up with Bill and that's going to be terrible. Yes, Eric's a cold, driven bastard, but he's so much more interesting than that sad sack Bill. In fact, I'm wondering if she's going somehow end up fairy magic shanshuing Ange- er, Bill back to human.)

So yeah, worth getting your hands on eventually if you're reading the series, but paperback is probably the way to go if you have the patience.

You know, I would totally read the ongoing adventures of Pam, should she decide she's had enough of this nonsense and go off to do her own thing again, but that would probably end up delving in to straight-up horror territory.

24. Bossypants - Tina Fey (Humor - Did they ever decide if this a memoir or what?)

Tina Fey writes a memoirs-y humor book, mostly parceled out in essays and the odd photograph. (Lady does like her in-context footnotes and it does not work out so well in digital format.) I like Tina Fey and Tina Fey's brand of humor, so I liked it for the most part.

25. School for Brides - Cheryl Ann Smith (romance)

You know, I should have put this down when the Duke stormed into the school for husband-hunting courtesans who had recently jumped ship on their old career (okay, maybe I should have gotten the message around the 'school for husband-hunting courtesans' point) demanding his property be returned, 'property' being a courtesan of his who abandoned him in the night, but I plowed through it anyway. The heroine is well-meaning if very foolish and naive. The hero is a great flaming asshole who decides to torment the heroine (who he blames for the loss of his mistress,) by calling in her debts and threatening to toss her and her ailing mother into the street if she doesn't become his mistress. What the hell is this, 1977? That kind of hero isn't in vogue any more in Romancelandia. There's a sequel in the works, but I'm not going to be reading it. Not recommended.

26. Beauty Queens - Libba Bray (YA)

Take Lost, Lord of the Flies, Ms. Congeniality, a whole lot of irreverence, dump them into a pot and stir vigorously. A plane full of teen beauty queens crash land on a tropical island and have to set about surviving while dealing with the machinations of a megalomanical pageant director, a crazed dictator, reality television pirates, and their fellow contestants. I liked it a lot, very funny, definitely absurd and satirical in good ways, interesting characters, but I wish it had been a lot sharper than it ultimately was. (Entertainingly, pretty much my thoughts on Ms. Congeniality!) It lacked the bite of Bray’s last novel, Going Bovine, and had a few too many POVs going for my personal preference. Recommended if you’re a YA reader or a Bray fan, but probably not for everyone.
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February 2012

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