Hello there! I hope the weather is being nice to you, and that even if it’s not you’re getting to spend a lot of time cozy and reading.
The Viscount Who Loved Me – Julia Quinn
The second Bridgerton book! As I hoped, it delighted me more than the first did, despite a fly in the ointment that I’ll get into later. As with the first book, this features an extremely reluctant male protagonist, to the extent that it started to feel ridiculous less than halfway through. Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest of the Bridgertons and one of the four brothers that Daphne Bridgerton CANNOT STOP MENTIONING EVEN IN HER TINY CAMEO IN THIS BOOK, knows he needs to marry and produce heirs for the sake of his family but he rejects the idea of falling in love because of ~reasons~. Therefore, he sets his cap at the belle of this year’s balls, only to find her older sister, Kate, irresistible.
I really enjoyed the chemistry between these two; I am weak for enemies-to-lovers and I am also weak for “comforting one another through terrifying experiences.” (trigger warning: you do find out later in the book that Kate definitely has a PTSD-like reaction to thunderstorms due to a buried memory of her mother’s death and the way that’s resolved is….bizarre.) I’m very excited to see this one in the Netflix series, and also to see the story of the third son, Colin, who seems absolutely adorable. I’m fairly certain I know who his love interest is, which leads me to the fly, which I really hope they don’t do in the show: there is a character who was in the first book and is described as having lost a great deal of weight between then and now, which is why she’s “””happier””” and I think my eyes rolled entirely out of my head when I read that.
This book took the true crime world by storm last year, partly due to McNamara’s compelling and compassionate research and highly successful crime blog and partly due to the fact that the subject of the book was at last caught two months after the book’s release, but sadly after the author’s death. McNamara unexpectedly passed away in 2016 and the book, which she’d been researching and writing for years, was finished by her assistants and published posthumously.
Trigger warning: the Golden State Killer was a serial rapist and murderer and the book details many of his crimes.
The Golden State Killer, a subject McNamara and many other amateur sleuths and law enforcement officers have obsessed over for years, proved impossible to catch for decades, having moved multiple times across California and using a number of strategies to ensure his safety. McNamara tracks both the history of the case and her own experiences with it; she’s thoughtful and inventive without too much extrapolation, and while she probably could have been a bit more victim-centered she’s open and reflective about why it is that this particular killer has proved mentally and emotionally inescapable for her. I liked this book, but I didn’t quite love it the way many did. One of the things that consistently bugged me throughout was how much McNamara (and her co-writers) seemed to valorize law enforcement. McNamara worked with a number of detectives and officers regularly, which is potentially why she shied away from getting into the many ways that police make life more dangerous for people of color, often re-traumatize survivors, and are frequently perpetrators of violent crimes themselves (the Golden State Killer himself turned out to be a former police officer). I’d encourage reading this piece about the true crime genre (and one podcast in particular).
The Water Dancer – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Okay so I expected this to be good, because Coates is an incredible writer. This is his first published novel, and after showing himself to be a fantastic essayist, memoirist, journalist, and graphic novelist, this book proves he’s also a superb novelist.
I tend not to be much of a historical fiction person outside of romance novels, so though I planned on reading it and expected it to be good, I didn’t expect to be so thoroughly absorbed in it. It was one of those books that whenever I wasn’t actively reading it I was thinking about reading it, and though it’s a thick book the pages flew by.
We meet our protagonist, Hiram Walker, as he’s drowning. When he mysteriously survives, he starts to notice the beginnings of an ability that could change not just his life but the lives of countless enslaved people. Hiram was born enslaved to the man who was also his biological father, and grew up serving his father and half-brother in pre-Civil War Virginia. There’s some brief flashback to his growing up, when we also meet many of the characters that his ability will affect. I don’t even want to say much more about it because GO READ IT. I really hope Coates writes more fiction in the future because he can write a sentence like nobody’s business, and the same is true for descriptions and characters. I’m usually not bothered by music with lyrics when I’m reading but for this I had to only listen to instrumentals because I didn’t want to be distracted even a little bit.
Trigger warning: sexual assault
Stay warm and stay reading things that make you happy!