I had a terrible
job interview today. No, I don't want to talk about it. (Let's just say my incompetence-humiliation squick was triggered good and proper-- and by incompetent and humiliated I mean me
, not them.) Instead, have my thoughts on a variety of trashy and not-so-trashy genre books.Magic University: The Siren and the Sword, by Cecilia Tan.
[Fantasy/Erotica] Saw this recommended somewhere on my network, and as it was on sale at Amazon (USD0.99/AUD0.93) I grabbed a copy for light train reading. I... did not love this book.
In fact, I still haven't finished it because all the eye-rolling was starting to hurt my face.
I've now finished it! And I'm still not in love. It's basically HP-redux: a magical university, four houses, broom riding (not an euphemism), a protagonist raised by a non-magical family and entering the magical world for the first time, a sneering pedigreed (and canonically gay) rival whose middle name may as well be Draco. I found myself perplexed as to who the intended audience was: on one hand, the protagonists read really young, even though they're supposed to be in university (and the writing style seems more suited to the younger end of the YA spectrum)-- and on the other hand, there are the explicit sex scenes. I have nothing against graphic detail, but I really couldn't detect any chemistry between the participants that might have made the sex remotely interesting to me. The world lacked plausible detail, none of the characters seemed to have much going on in the way of an internal life (especially the protagonist, who couldn't even muster interesting reactions to the revelation that magic exists
), and the whole Chosen One/prophecy business was painfully heavy-handed. I could have taken a great fantasy world with a mediocre romance, or a great romance with mediocre worldbuilding, but mediocre on both counts? Pass.Sex, Straight Up, by Kathleen O'Reilly.
[Contemporary Romance] Got this on a rec from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
, which occasionally turns up the kind of contemporary mainstream het romance I really dig. It's always a bit of a gamble, and I didn't love
this one-- I suppose it was merely adequate in the time-whiling-away department, with a few touches I liked. The slightly daring premise is well-handled: a normal guy, living a normal life with the love of his life, suddenly loses her in the tragic events of 9/11. After years of grieving, he finally meets another normal girl and realises that perhaps it's possible to love two people (equally, differently) in one's life. As I've said before, I love quotidian romances! Dude is an accountant: decent, quiet, competent. Girl is an art historian: nice, talented, slightly insecure. They have fun sex; there's a very slight plot involving corporate corruption; there are awkward workplace misunderstandings, eventually resolved. On the downside, the writing is stock-standard Harlequin in its most pejorative sense; it was more of a novella than a novel; there was a throwaway joke at the expense of trans people; and (as far as I could tell) apparently only white people live in New York. Oh, except for the people who sell you fake handbags.To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis.
[Sci-Fi/Comedy] Light-hearted time-travelling hijinks to an era of steam trains and straw boater hats, and occasionally WWII. My experience of it was a bit idiosyncratic: I could tell it was good
, and there were feliticious turns of phrase that I loved, but I couldn't really get into it. It's more of a plot story than a character-driven one, I suppose, and I've always been one for the big emotional payoff. If you like whimsical clockwork mysteries and time travel, though, I'd recommend it.The Foundling and Cotillion by Georgette Heyer.
[Regency Romance] I've always told myself that I don't like Regency romances-- I guess it's just a period of history I'm not hugely interested in. (That said, I'm even less
interested in 15th century Europe, and I've recently fallen for Dorothy Dunnett's ginormous House of Niccolò series
-- curse you, freece
!) So these were the first Heyers I've ever read, and I was pleasantly surprised. Speaking strictly with my romance-reader hat on, I think I preferred Cotillion
, which had a more classic romance arc as well as a super-charming tongue-in-cheek quality. But for characters and hijinks, I liked The Foundling
as much, if not more, and it certainly had the faintest hint of a slashy vibe. (Did you know resonant
has written Foundling fic? Now you do! Gilly and Gideon: Natural
.) The Foundling
did have more than a few moments when I wanted to scream with frustration-- at the characters, not the book itself-- but I was kind of simultaneously charmed in my frustration, so there you go. Both books are packed with practically incomprehensible period dialogue and detail, but I had fun looking everything up.Silk is For Seduction, by Loretta Chase
. [Regency Romance] This is the other
kind of Regency romance, in which there is much anachronistic sexing in carriages and alleyways, and the dialogue is possibly somewhat less than period authentic. Less charming than Heyer, but more trashily fun. I liked the spunky, business-minded dressmaker heroine and her glowering apathetic duke, and the meticulous descriptions of her many different outfits were just delightful. This is Regency as dress-up paper dolls, and I have no problem with that. (I also tried Chase's Mr Impossible
, but quickly gave it up as I have absolutely no faith that the dress-up paper doll technique in colonial Egypt is going to end up as anything less than fail. Feel free to correct me if it's not so bad.)
I'm looking for some more trashy reading for this weekend's wedding extravaganza in Adelaide; anyone got any recs? I prefer everyday contemporary romance with older characters (at least in their thirties), but if a historical romance is particularly good I'll give it a try. (FYI: Don't like Crusie, have already read all the Brockmanns.)