Modern Love by edited by Daniel Jones
I’m a long-time fan of the New York Time’s Modern Love column. I recently picked up this book which is a collection of some of the best posts from the past fifteen years. Some of them will break your heart–the now famous ones by Ann Hood are almost too hard to read–and others remind you how great it is to be alive and connected to people you love. I really enjoyed them all. If I had to pick my favorite essays, I’d choose Abby Sher’s “So He Looked Like Dad. It Was Just Dinner, Right?,” Brendan Halpin’s “Dedicated to Two Women, Only One of Them Alive,” and Aylet Waldman’s infamous “Truly, Madly, Guiltily.”
The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
I adored this novella. I don’t love it quite as much as I love This Wicked Gift, published by Ms. Milan in 2009, but I really enjoyed it tremendously. I thought the heroine, hero, and their love story were all wonderful. The novella is a prequel to a new series by Ms. Milan called The Brothers Sinister, the first book of which, The Duchess Wars, is to be released this summer. I can’t wait. (You can read Jane’s review here.)
Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis
This book was a fun read. It’s the first of a trilogy featuring three women who bond, in a storm, over chocolate. Just like the three sisters from Ms. Shalvis’s last trilogy, the women live in the tiny town of Lucky Harbor, Washington, where everyone knows everything about everybody and, just in case anyone missed anything, a octogenarian named Lucille publishes a steady stream of gossip on the town’s Facebook page. The heroine of this book, Mallory Quinn, is a good girl who falls for a (slightly) bad boy. He’s super hot, their romance is smokin’, and, as usual, Ms. Shalvis’s writing is often laugh out loud funny. One thing I like a lot about Ms. Shalvis’s work is how strong she makes the bonds between women. This is a story about a good girl falling for a bad boy, but it’s also the story of how Mallory and her two friends, Amy and Grace, support each other. All three books will be released this summer. The next one up, At Last, is Amy’s story. (Amy is the waitress at Lucky Harbor’s hilariously named Eat Me diner.)
Rake with a Frozen Heart by Marguerite Kaye
I could barely get through this book. It’s a Regency with every trite cliché imaginable. There’s a virginal governess, a widowed rake who has vowed never to love again, a slutty villainess, a far-fetched plot, and way too much syrupy writing. It reminded me of the bad Regencies I read as a teen in the 1970’s.
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
All of Mr. Lang’s fairy books are free eBooks on Amazon; I’ve been paging through them and happily reading fairy tales. The “Coloured” Fairy Books were published between 1889 and 1910 and are filled with tales from different cultures and countries. My favorite story in the Blue book is “Toads and Diamonds” in which there are two sisters–a nice one and a mean one–both of whom are “cursed” by a fairy. Things do not go well for the cruel sister!
“Well, then, since you have so little breeding, and are so disobliging, I give you for a gift that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad.”
So soon as her mother saw her coming she cried out:
“Well, mother?” answered the pert hussy, throwing out of her mouth two vipers and two toads.
I read many of Lang’s books when I was young and have really enjoyed sampling them again.
Hot Island Nights by Sarah Mayberry
I so loved Ms. Mayberry’s latest (my review is here), I’ve been gobbling up her earlier books. Thus far I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed Hot Island Nights , Hot for Him, She’s Got it Bad (I love the bad girl heroine of this one! Jayne’s review is here.) and Take on Me. Ms. Mayberry has been reviewed here at DA positively several times and there’s a reason for that. Her books are engaging, moving, and sexy. I’m looking forward to reading her next one, Within Reach, which comes out this August.
The End of Wasp Season by Denise Mina
I’ve been a fan of Scottish mystery writer Denise Mina ever since I read her gripping and deeply depressing debut, Garnethill. She’s written two stellar earlier trilogies; The End of Wasp Season is the second book in her third. This trilogy features a detective mom, Alex Morrow. In this book, Alex is trying to figure out who brutally murdered an upper-class woman in Glasgow. Ms. Mina is extraordinarily good at creating a sense of place in her work and, in this novel, modern-day Scotland leaps off the page. I like all of her books, but my favorite is her stand-alone, Deception. If you’re looking for a psychological thriller you’ll think about long after you’ve finished it, check it out. It’s really good.
Gaijin by Remittance Girl
After reading Janine’s review, I felt compelled to read this. I’m glad I did. I found it compelling. I didn’t exactly like it–it left me feeling unsettled–but this story of a British girl taken as a sexual slave by a Japanese mafioso was fascinating, well-written, and thought-provoking. I read it in one sitting.