It's been a while since I've read one of the princess books so I was looking forward to this one since I enjoy Cabot's generally witty writing. Boy diIt's been a while since I've read one of the princess books so I was looking forward to this one since I enjoy Cabot's generally witty writing. Boy did I not get what I was hoping for. There wasn't much story here and what was here was narrated in Mia's increasingly bitter and negative tone. Here's a young woman who's a princess, has a boyfriend she loves, can do anything she chooses and yet every journal entry just sounds like she's whining. And I had a hard time believing that at this point in her princess "career" she hasn't figured things out and learned to make things work a little better. The goofs are no longer cute or even believable given how much practice she's had.
And the introduction of Olivia Grace strains credulity beyond what I could take. I had already read the kid's book told from Olivia's point of view, so at least there was that. But that Mia finds this fact out, her father hid another daughter for 12 years!, and really just come across as sounding a bit miffed? By this time she should be wondering if he's a bit of a sociopath the way he fathers daughters and then agrees to disappear from their lives.
All in all, a bummer. I suggest reading ROYAL WE for a better romantic royal tale....more
I was looking through my recent reads to find a book I just loved. A lot of things lately have been solid, but not great. Except for this one. Purple and Black is brilliantly done. Tightly woven. Thought-provoking. And all of that in a slender 113 pages. This is a fantasy novel, but don't let that prevent you reading it. It's only a fantasy in that it has a made up country. Everything else about it reads like historical fiction.
The story is told through a series of letters between Nico, the reluctant emperor who only got the job because the rest of his male relatives killed each other off competing for the position, and Phormio, one of Nico's best friends from school who is now a reluctant general trying to quell a rebellion on the border. The title of the book refers to the ink used in the letters they write to each other. Purple is the official color used when communicating with the emperpor and black is the ink they use in their more informal (off the record) communications. While Nico struggles with the back-biting, competition and scheming at court, Phormio is struggling in a more direct way. A shadowy group is staging guerrilla attacks on border towns and it's Phormio's job to find and conquer this mysterious foe.
I'm not a huge fan of epistolary tales. I really only have one other that I can rave about and that's Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road. Even as I type that I'm struck by the realization that so much of what I love about Hanff's book is present in K. J. Parker's - even though one is a memoir and the other historical fantasy. Wit and dark humor and characters who jump off the page and the sort of stick-with-you kind of feeling only the best books evoke. That's all here. I finished this book in an evening, but thought about it for days afterward. Wonderfully done....more