Hello and thank you for bearing with me for my unscheduled break! The start of fall has upped my busyness quotient a bit, which leaves me less time both for the reading of books and for the enthusing about them, plus a great deal of my writing energies last week were going towards this month’s Pop Culture Pen Pals, which is pretty great.
Now, into the books!
The Governess Game – Tessa Dare
So I’m thinking, for the time being, I might eschew the “romance editions” and just talk about the romance novels I’ve been reading in the “normal” posts. When I started regularly reading romance novels, I had no idea how to talk about them in any sort of way, and I’m still figuring it out. Romancelandia is enormous and varied and I still feel like I’ve barely dipped a toe in, but my enthusiasm for it just continues to grow (as for the volume of my reading space that it occupies) so they’ll be here for now!
This one was a lot of fun! Tessa Dare is another cornerstone of the genre, and I understand why. The characters are well-developed in a relatively slim book, the banter is prime, and the heat between the protagonists was…enjoyable. Admittedly, the “reasons” they couldn’t be together felt stretched a bit thin the further into the book I got, but I really appreciated the balance Dare struck between the characters’ navigation of the power dynamic and also giving the readers the sexytimes they showed up for.
Hard As Ice – Raven Scott
Another romance novel, this one in a subcategory I was new to: thriller romance! The book revolves an art heist, a guarded art curator, and a guarded security expert. It was sufficiently steamy, and the leads had good chemistry, but the heist plot somehow simultaneously took up more of the plot than I wanted and was not built out enough to keep me interested in that part of the story. I’ll probably give some of her other books a try still; I really enjoyed some of the side characters that I could tell probably had their own books and there was a preview of one of them at the back of this one that intrigued me.
[tw: brief discussion of past sexual assault]
[tw: the next two books involve suicide and suicidal ideation]
The Wangs Vs. the World – Jade Chang
A road trip book! A family drama! A rumination on a particular immigration narrative! There is a LOT in this book, the majority of which is set during the 2008 financial crisis. The formerly wealthy Wang family has just lost it all, and Charles, the patriarch who built their wealth from next to nothing, is insistent that if he hauls his wife and two of his children across the country to his eldest daughters’ home, they’ll all be able to go back to China to reclaim what’s theirs. The story is told from the perspective of everyone in the family, including at times the extremely old car.
I enjoyed Chang’s writing a lot; she has a knack for lovely description and vivid characters. I did find a couple of the characters a bit tiresome, and at times their various plot threads didn’t seem to quite connect. The eldest daughter, Sana, is separated from the rest of the family for most of the book, and her story felt almost like its own separate book (that I would have gladly read! I really liked her narration and wanted more of it). That being said, the family dynamic was fantastic and I look forward to reading more of Chang’s work in the future.
Mostly Dead Things – Kristen Arnett
You may already know of my adoration for Kristen Arnett, and if you’re at all tuned in to Book Twitter you’ll know that this is one of the buzziest books of Spring and Summer 2019, and for good reason!! Arnett has frequently described this book as being about taxidermy, Florida, family, and queerness, and oh boy is it ever. It’s also about loss and vulnerability and I know I already said it, but jesus christ the TAXIDERMY. [If you are quite squeamish, this…may not be the book for you. But it’s very very good and if you think there’s any chance you could push past it or let your eyes glaze over occasionally, I would recommend it.] The protagonist, Jessa-Lynn, is trying to keep her family and her family business from falling apart in the wake of her father’s recent suicide, and the less-recent but still deeply painful abandonment of her brother’s wife…who Jessa also happened to be in love with. I don’t even want to say more because if this book appeals to you at all you should GO. READ. IT. RIGHT. NOW. It wrecked me about eleven different ways.
Okay that’s all for me! Until I see you again…watch Derry Girls!