February Reading

A monthly record of things that I have read.

 

Stella Gibbons, Starlight: Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Gibbons wrote a book about demonic possession and exorcism. I thought Starlight was excellent, and wrote about it here.

Miranda Neville, The Dangerous Viscount: I’m not sure why I read this except that it’s part of the same series as The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton (of which I wasn’t particularly a fan). This was interesting though – something of a reversal of roles as the female character is not only the more sexually experienced in the relationship, but also the one who first seduces her eventual partner as part of a bet, while the hero gets a makeover. Much of this is undone by the revelation that it’s actually not about her, but a childhood rivalry between the hero and his male cousin, but oh well.

Rick Riordan, The Son of Neptune: The second in a series titled Heroes of Olympus, a sequel of sorts to the Percy Jackson books. The books in this series feel rather more substantial than the first set – also rather more multicultural, as if Riordan had decided in the interim that this was something that needed working on. There’s nothing world-changing about any of this, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the books in both series so far.

Stephanie Laurens, The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae: It feels like (and probably is) every few months I obtain, read, and moan about obtaining and reading a new Stephanie Laurens book. Big, interconnected series are dangerous – they’re responsible for the majority of my Regency romance reading. Having said which, The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae is a bit better than some of her earlier work simply because it doesn’t have exactly the same plot as most of her other books.

Sarra Manning, Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend: I’ll be posting soon about a particular aspect of this book. For the rest, I didn’t think Nine Uses…was as overwhelmingly great as You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, but Manning is a fine writer. I am a bit worried by this surnames-as-first-names tendency she has developed (Vaughn in Unsticky I could tolerate, but “Wilson”?) but I will continue to read her anyway.

Edmund Crispin, Swan Song: Consistently funny, and with the most convoluted solution I’ve seen in a long time. The Gervase Fen books have been my default light reading for the first part of this year – once I’ve reread Holy Disorders I’ll have to find something similar for the rest of the year.

Margery Allingham, Look to the Lady: The first Campion mystery I’d ever read, on the recommendation of a friend. I enjoyed it enough to seek out more books in the series –advice as to reading order (and whether there are books I should choose to leave out or should particularly read) is welcome.

Aimee Ferris, Will Work for Prom Dress: Exactly what it looks like it is. Teenage girl, high school, best friend, college scholarships, two potential partners. Utterly fluffy. My overwhelming feeling was one of great meh – there’s nothing particularly wrong with the book, but I can’t imagine ever wanting to read it again.

Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals: Reviewed here.

Priyadarshini Narendra, Two Chalet School Girls in India: Review forthcoming. I found this fascinating partly because it’s a fill-in written decades after the original series, partly because I wanted to see how Narendra negotiated sounding like Brent-Dyer while writing about India (I assume from her name that she is Indian or of Indian origin) in a reasonably inoffensive way.  The result is a rather strange mix of both extremes – not the best thing I’ve read, but most of the ridiculous bits were authentically EBD.

Jedediah Berry, The Manual of Detection: I’ve written a bit about this for this week’s column, which I’ll post on the blog (and link to here) when I can. But The Manual of Detection is so clever. I just beamed my way through it.

Georgette Heyer, Venetia:I hadn’t reread this in years. This time, though, I found myself wondering if it was actually Heyer’s finest novel. This will probably also turn into a separate blog post.

Rakesh Khanna & Rashmi Ruth Devadasan ed., The Obliterary Journal: Reviewed for The Indian Express, will link when it’s up.

Gail Carriger, Timeless: A very satisfying end to a series I’ve enjoyed greatly over the past couple of years. I do have quibbles with it – it’s a very character-based set of books (often at the expense of what could have been some fascinating supernatural-colonial-steampunk worldbuilding) which is not in itself a bad thing, yet it shies away from depicting difficult emotional moments, even when it gives its characters plenty of them. It’s all very well to have a ridiculous comedy of manners at surface level, but we keep getting hints of something vaster and more meaningful, and Carriger seems content to leave it at that.

Jo Walton, Tooth and Claw: I like Walton’s habit of mixing up genres – see Farthing, where she manages an alt-historical Nazi country house murder mystery. Tooth and Claw is your basic 19th Century novel – family disputes and wills and dowry and fathers who may have bought a title, but everyone knows that their fortune was made in trade. Except that all the characters are dragons. Will probably be writing about this book for a future LoC column, but for the moment, I thought it was great fun.

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