Strong lead characters and an interesting plot that involved medical ethics and blackmail and maybe being an accessory to a crime. I don't think the pStrong lead characters and an interesting plot that involved medical ethics and blackmail and maybe being an accessory to a crime. I don't think the plot wrapped up completely, and there just felt like a good handful of loose ends. I was also very irritated that "illegals" was used as a synonym (by the protagonists and by an antagonist) for undocumented immigrant workers and that "Hispanics" was often conflated with the latter. I did really like the characters, though; their realizations about themselves felt believable, and their conflict with one another was interesting and often resolved in unexpected ways.
This is the first book in the Heartwarming line (apparently Harlequin's new-ish clean-and-sweet-but-not-necessarily-inspie line) that I've read; the type of plot and scope reminded me of a SuperRomance, but the physical attraction between the protagonists was minimally mentioned and the language was super squeaky clean (and the dialogue too often hokey) and there were a handful of references to praying. So: wholesome but with a more electric and edgy plot than one might expect from such a sweet line....more
Draws a bit too heavily from the murder of Meredith Kercher / the trial of Amanda Knox for my taste , and I wasn't thrilled by the ending, but I lovedDraws a bit too heavily from the murder of Meredith Kercher / the trial of Amanda Knox for my taste , and I wasn't thrilled by the ending, but I loved the time-shifting structure of the book. Haas did a fantastic job tugging the narrative back and forth between scenes of heady, decadent teenage rebellion and the oppressive frustration of being caught in a predatory media storm and an unjust legal system....more
I really loved this at times (grief and unexpected sisterhood and falling into family was ALL GOOD, and the final reconciliation between Shannon and MI really loved this at times (grief and unexpected sisterhood and falling into family was ALL GOOD, and the final reconciliation between Shannon and Murphy was SO GOOD), but there's a weird passage about the American civil war and slavery that was unnecessary and souring. Set after the characters sing a song about James Connolly, American Shannon comments:
"It's an odd culture that writes lovely songs about an execution."
"We don't forget our heroes," Maggie said with a snap in her voice. "Isn't it true that in your country they have tourist attractions on fields of battle? Your Gettysburg and such?"
Shannon eyed Maggie coolly, nodded. "Touché."
"And most of us like to pretend we'd have fought for the South," Gray put in.
"For slavery." Maggie sneered. "We know more about slavery than you could begin to imagine."
"Not for slavery." Pleased a debate was in the offing, Gray shifted toward her. "For a way of life."
So all these characters are white, Maggie is Irish, Shannon and Gray are both Americans, and they're all in Ireland in the mid '90s. The action and dialogue move away at this point, and there's no narrative approval of Gray's opinions, but their inclusion made my jaw drop and threw me out of the story. I was irritated both by Gray's racist envisioning of the Civil War and by how a white Irishwoman making a living as an artist is presuming to have personal knowledge about slavery (though, yes, I'm glad she pushed back against Gray). Yes, I know that plenty of Americans do spend a lot of time frolicking in revisionistland about the civil war, but it's racist and unnecessary. (And, c'mon, wouldn't bringing up "John Brown's Body"/"Battle Hymn of the Republic" be a more appropriate comparison? It's about a decaying body after a martyr's been executed, I think it sounds lovely, and it's anti-racist, pro-freedom!)
The inclusion of these comments is just the gazillionth-and-one reminder of just how white (and/or racist) the romance audience is assumed to be, where one of the protagonists--he's the hero of the previous book--can say that most Americans like fantasizing about fighting in favor of slavery and justify it as "a way of life." FUCKITY FUCK FUCK FUCK THAT....more
The structure was sometimes frustrating, switching between the story of Jang's escape and intricate explanations of North Korean politics at inopportuThe structure was sometimes frustrating, switching between the story of Jang's escape and intricate explanations of North Korean politics at inopportune times, but overall, it was a very interesting look at someone who, despite being wildly privileged within the Kim Jong-il regime, defected in search of freedom.
I thought the insight into propagandizing (as part of his work, Jang took on the identity of a South Korean poet to write favorably of North Korea) and the development of an artist under a tyrannical regime was engaging. The inside information on the Kim Jong-il regime was fascinating, and some of the framework (namely, the true nature of the transition of power between the Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-il) was new to me.
I still think Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea is the go-to overview book for those interested in reading about North Korea, but this book, if less well-written, is a strong resource about specifics. Just ignore that he ends the book with a wearily misogynistic "In North Korea, I lived under a tyrannical despot I called dear leader, now I live in South Korea under a tyrannical despot I call my wife lol" joke. Seriously....more
I loved Livy and Vic, and I loved the humor and the way violence wasn't gendered. But omg, I thought I could do the same thing I more-or-less-successfI loved Livy and Vic, and I loved the humor and the way violence wasn't gendered. But omg, I thought I could do the same thing I more-or-less-successfully did with the G.A. Aiken dragon series: pick up the most recent book and not be totally lost. I was wrong. There was a lot of space dedicated to previous characters in ways that didn't necessarily push arc-y plot forward--the way it was with the dragon series--and I didn't have it in me to remember names, species, mates, packs, who got along with who, etc., when it didn't always have anything to do with the main plot and was simply for comical purposes or character fun....more
Great voice and great characters, as per usual with Charlotte Stein, but I didn't quite buy the mix of wildly romantic fantasy with the serious issuesGreat voice and great characters, as per usual with Charlotte Stein, but I didn't quite buy the mix of wildly romantic fantasy with the serious issues that could have benefited from expansion and more of a practical treatment....more
Hmm. This started off as a wonderfully weird story about a shy and sometimes-LITERALLY-invisible seven-year-old girl juggling a strong ego with a tremHmm. This started off as a wonderfully weird story about a shy and sometimes-LITERALLY-invisible seven-year-old girl juggling a strong ego with a tremendous fear of the world, and it all felt like something Aimee Bender would write, and I loved it. And then it got terribly banal and did banal stuff about gender and plot resolution and how prettiness is the best thing of all. I guess I was hoping for something subversively strange all the way through, not something that ended up so banal....more
This series continues to be absolutely ridiculous. Sir Philip is the foulmouthed criminal mastermind among the Poor Relations (the mostly elderly bandThis series continues to be absolutely ridiculous. Sir Philip is the foulmouthed criminal mastermind among the Poor Relations (the mostly elderly band of poor gentlepeople running a hotel during the Regency), but when he falls in love with someone absolutely inappropriate, the rest of the gang have to up their own game in order to drive away his beloved. Also, there is a long infodump about the hair powder tax that I found absolutely fascinating--even if it was relevant only to understand an insult one character hurled at another, I appreciated it. At the very least, Chesney's Regencies resemble no other Regency romances I've read.
There is a lot of fat shaming in this book, unfortunately. :(...more
Fluttery, nervous Miss Tonks summons up her courage and disguises herself as a highwayman to rob her sister of some expensive jewels. She holds up theFluttery, nervous Miss Tonks summons up her courage and disguises herself as a highwayman to rob her sister of some expensive jewels. She holds up the wrong carriage, but while her unintended victim is actually a nice young lord who also happens to be packing heat (and who isn't going to be doing any standing or delivering), he also happens to really, really hate Miss Tonks's sister. So he dons her mask and hat and goes to do the heist himself. He steals the diamonds, but he also happens to steal a kiss from Miss Tonks's niece, and in doing so, sets the plot rollicking off in unexpected directions.
Another enjoyable farce. There's even less romantic content than in the first book (the hero and the heroine don't spend much time together), but the ensemble is strong enough to make this work....more
Lovely prose, and a lovely first two-thirds. It's a fairy tale amid ghost lives and dreams denied. The book grows more and more ludicrous as it goes oLovely prose, and a lovely first two-thirds. It's a fairy tale amid ghost lives and dreams denied. The book grows more and more ludicrous as it goes on, though, with characters acting in service of a plot rather than behaving like people. Soooo contrived. I loved the beginning of the book, and I loved the set-up, and I started off adoring the characters, but all the characters were in crumbles by the end and I was left tilting my head suspiciously at what I was being asked to trust would be a happy ending. That said, I still love Sherry Thomas's prose; it's not so much that she uses descriptive language and interesting analogies, but that she's clearly a wordsmith and she makes her choices carry emotional and narrative weight. I also think she uses flashbacks / multiple timelines beautifully, with good timing and great pacing. I just wish the characters could have been better salvaged from the mess of the plot....more