Full disclosure: C.P. Lesley is an author and a member of one of my GR groups. She is someone that I consider a friend. I can't claim that this reviewFull disclosure: C.P. Lesley is an author and a member of one of my GR groups. She is someone that I consider a friend. I can't claim that this review is completely unbiased, but it is as honest as I can make it.
This is a very unique book. It is sci-fi, romance, a bit of a space opera, involving a lot of ballet. It is set on other worlds, with characters of other races that all interact with one another. There is space travel. It has elements of thriller as well, with a backstory related to an invasion by a group of villains.
I don't read very much science fiction, so I'm a bit out of my depth here. But I will say that I really enjoyed this book. C.P. Lesley is a solid writer, and her characterizations were great. I am also not a ballet aficionado, but I thought that the way that she blended the ballet sections - her female MC, Sasha, is a prima ballerina - into the book were really enjoyable.
Mostly, though, this is a romance between a man and a woman. It was convincing and compelling and, honestly, sweet. The male MC, Danion, is a bit Spock-like - unemotional, and of a race that repudiates the idea of emotional "love." The bond that is created between them is a little bit odd, but is a nice metaphor for the joining of lives and souls that a real marriage can represent.
I got this book through the KU. I've not read anything of C.P. Lesley's before - most recently, she has been writing historical fiction. This book was cleanly edited and well-written, enjoyable and engaging - I will definitely read her work again. I will absolutely read the follow-up to Desert Flower, Kingdom of Shades, to see how Danion & Sasha's story ends....more
I was first introduced to Trixie Belden in the 1970's. While I was a fan of Nancy Drew - and I'm sure I'll shelve her here down the road a bit - it waI was first introduced to Trixie Belden in the 1970's. While I was a fan of Nancy Drew - and I'm sure I'll shelve her here down the road a bit - it was for Trixie and the Bob-Whites of the Glen that I reserved my most committed and unconditional adoration.
Trixie reminded me of me. Also a tom-boy, I skied and sledded and was involved in winter sports. My family mirrored hers, with a garden-crazy stay-at-home mom and a dad who worked outside the home (mine was a doctor, not a banker, but still . . . ). But Trixie had older brothers, something I lacked, but that I longed for, and her best friend, Honey, the poor-little-rich girl had a stable full of horses.
I spent years reading Trixie. I belonged to some kind of a mail-order book club, and one of them would arrive at my house every month. They were poorly made book club editions, with hideous covers, a school library edition of some kind, not a hard-back, but not a soft-cover either.
I read them into tatters. When I left home for college, I left them in a box and at some point they were water-damaged. When I returned home for the summer after my first year of law school, my personal life had completely self-destructed. I had performed well academically, but my marriage had fallen apart. I dug these out and read them, covers falling off, pages disintegrating in my hands, smelling of mildew. I credit Trixie, in a small way, with the survival of my sense of self after the failure that was my first marriage.
When the books were re-released for a new generation of readers, I bought them, ostensibly for my daughter. She has shown no interest, and is off to college, so that ship has likely sailed. I, on the other hand, will still reread them from time to time. I put them in a stack on the end table, and can read from the top of the stack to the bottom in a matter of hours. Reuniting with Trixie and Honey and Di, and Jim Frayne, my original book boyfriend, and Brian and the irritating Mart, is like becoming myself all over again.
Sometimes I think that people are the most themselves when they are around ten years old, before peer pressure weighs them down, and they start to question what they love, to edit themselves for an audience. When I was ten, I loved Trixie Belden. When I read Trixie Belden, I am ten. Again....more
One of my friends at work asked me to name my top ten most influential books because of that silly facebook meme that is making the rounds.
This is a nOne of my friends at work asked me to name my top ten most influential books because of that silly facebook meme that is making the rounds.
This is a nearly impossible task for me, but I agreed that I would try. Then, I started thinking, why limit myself to ten? I'll just create a shelf, and start mentally sorting through my forty-odd years as a reader.
This one makes the cut because it was one of the first fantasy books I ever read. I remember checking it out of the library, at my mother's urging, and devouring it. It is the best and most beloved of the books of Narnia, and I reread it often. It changed my reading habits - without having read TLTW&TW I might not have read The Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, both of which will end up on this shelf sooner or later.
I'm going on a literary treasure hunt. I don't know how long it will last, or where we will end up, although it is likely that all roads lead to Austen....more
People refer to this as Wharton's most erotic book. I disagree with that characterization - I think that The Age of Innocence, with its unrequited, siPeople refer to this as Wharton's most erotic book. I disagree with that characterization - I think that The Age of Innocence, with its unrequited, simmering passion between Countess Olenska and Newland Archer is much more erotic.
Charity Royall is a young woman who has been raised by Lawyer Royall in North Dormer, a small New England town. Her family comes from the mountain, a poverty-stricken area. At some point, Lawyer Royall finds himself attracted to the young woman and proposes to marry her. This is squicky as all hell, since he has basically been her father since she was a small child.
Charity understandably turns him down, being attracted to Lucius Harney, man about town, photographer, and the nephew of another one of New Dormer's finest citizens. He is clearly above her in social position. Charity, recklessly, falls for him, and the two of them embark on a sexual relationship. This is a Wharton book, however, which means that the reader pretty much has to guess what has happened.
It isn't just the lack of explicit sex that wasn't erotic. It was the shallowness of the connection between Charity and Lucius Harney. There is no reason to believe that Harney wasn't absolute rubbish as a lover, self-absorbed and concerned with neither Charity's pleasure, nor her plight. (Did I just accuse a fictional character of being crap in bed. Why yes, yes I did. And I stand by the accusation. There is no chance that poor Charity had an orgasm. None at all.) It is easy to sympathize with Charity, and to deplore her poor choices, but it was so obvious that Harney was just exploiting her, and it made me want to shake her.
Wharton's books explore the border between social expectation and human agency. I have read three of them -The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, and now Summer, and all of them consistently decry the way in which individuals, especially women, but not only women, are oppressed by society. She lived in a time when the social customs were extremely restrictive - people behaved in specific, rote ways, dependent upon their social classes, and the upper classes, in particular, were required to maintain certain standards that were very limiting. Wharton's books explore what happens when the individual steps outside of those lines.
Usually, it is pretty much a disaster. In this book, actually, Charity managed to pull out a win for herself. While the twenty-first-century independent romantic in me was pretty much completely grossed out by the way it ended, by 1917 standards, Charity does pretty well, with a solid, middle-class existence. She fared a lot better than Lily Bart, from The House of Mirth. Interestingly, she doesn't share Lily Bart's honorable qualities. That's probably sort of the point - when hunger conflicts with honor, hunger must, and usually will, win. Or, you die.
Anyway, Wharton is depressing as hell, but always worth reading....more
Hello. If you've found this review, perhaps you are wondering why I appear so irked by this book. Giving it one star, and all.
Well, it's because MARGAHello. If you've found this review, perhaps you are wondering why I appear so irked by this book. Giving it one star, and all.
Well, it's because MARGARET ATWOOD already wrote this book. Also, the girl on the cover, yeah, she is way too well-dressed to be a slave.
Some books do not need a dumbed-down romance version with a bunch of silly tropes. The Handmaid's Tale is one of those books*. It is a serious treatment of a serious subject. Why is there a need to publish a glossy new version with girls in pretty dresses?
I have nothing against YA. I love YA. Some YA is wonderful. This book, though, this one has ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN. Read the fucking original. It will make you smarter.
*I just realized that they have made this a trilogy. A trilogy. Margaret Atwood was able to tell this story in a single, classic, amazing book that is still studied in high school and college courses. Why is this a trilogy? Are we now at the point where YA publishers are unable to publish anything that isn't a series?...more
As I posted yesterday, I picked up a pair of Dame Agatha's Poirot novels over the weekend. I read and reviewed The Clocks first, which I found quite uAs I posted yesterday, I picked up a pair of Dame Agatha's Poirot novels over the weekend. I read and reviewed The Clocks first, which I found quite underwhelming.
In my view, Hickory Dickory Dock (in spite of the moderately silly title) was a more entertaining book. It still doesn't rise to the level of her best, but it was engaging enough that I read it in a two hour sitting before bed.
It is a bit of a blood bath, with two three separate murders happening during the book's time span. For a Christie novel, as well, the characterizations had a surprising depth. She moved beyond her traditional "bright young thing" characterizations and gave the young people conflicting, deeper, and occasionally more sinister, motivations. Miss Lemon's sister, as well, was a delight.
The murderer is a nasty piece of work, as are many of the murderers depicted in the golden age mysteries. The authors - Christie, Sayers, Allingham - wrap their stories in English coziness and gentility, so the baseness and brutality of the murderers is often understated. The pursuit of justice, or even retribution, seems to contribute little to the motivations of the investigators or the witnesses.
This is the 34th Hercule Poirot mystery, although he doesn't appear in it until about 1/2 way in.
I really enjoy Dame Agatha's books. However, this oneThis is the 34th Hercule Poirot mystery, although he doesn't appear in it until about 1/2 way in.
I really enjoy Dame Agatha's books. However, this one was really rather forgettable and isn't one of her exceptional mysteries. Her best, to my mind, are Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, and Peril at End House (at least of the ones I have read). I am also rather attached to The Cat Among The Pigeons.
If you are looking for some golden age mystery entertainment to while away a couple of hours, this one is perfectly satisfactory. If you are looking for a tightly plotted mystery with a solution that isn't overly reliant on coincidence, look elsewhere....more
Now that I have read 6 of these in like a week, I would like to provide a short guide to the Highland Guard novels, or:
Moonlight Reader's How To TellNow that I have read 6 of these in like a week, I would like to provide a short guide to the Highland Guard novels, or:
Moonlight Reader's How To Tell If You Are In A Highland Guard Novel:
You are surrounded by men in kilts, all of whom have a nickname that is one word, and refers to their prowess as a warrior.
He will be good with his sword. That is not necessarily a double entendre. Wait, yes it is.
You are not the Hero's type, but he is inexplicably attracted to you. Also, you are not conventionally beautiful, you are the most beautiful woman in the room, or you are plain as a pikestaff, but he still wants to stuff his staff in your pike.
You will mentally notice that he has very big muscles. You will mentally notice that this is hot. You will respond to all of these muscles and this noticing by ignoring him and pretending that he's not hot. And you are not attracted.
There will be a moment when you both realize that your genitals are on fire for each other.
That moment will probably occur while you are in peril. You are being chased by the English. You have been captured by the English and are moments away from death. You are being tracked by the English, and they have dogs.
In spite of that peril, your eyes and your lips will lock. Your vagina will combust. The only thing that will be able to slake the flames is penetrative sex involving the Hero.
His penis will be enormous. You will compare it to an iron spike in your mind. This will terrify you.
This is also why there will be no Hero named Spike. Because that name is taken.
You are a virgin. Nonetheless, when the Hero takes your virginity in a location that is not a bed, is probably a stone floor or a storeroom, and is absolutely not comfortable for sex, you will have an orgasm. Nay, you will have several.
This is a fantasy, people. Bring me some abs.
Oops, wrong series. I just like to look at him.
There will be some insurmountable obstacle that makes your marriage to the Hero impossible. Nonetheless, it will be surmounted.
You will be exceptionally fertile, and will give birth precisely two books in the future. Your husband will be exceptionally faithful, in spite of the penis-spike and the hot muscles. He will be mocked by the unmarried members of the Highland Guard for this faithfulness.
The one who mocks him the most is the one who will fall in love next.
You will live happily ever after in a drafty castle in medieval Scotland.