What Jennie’s Been Reading, Part the Third
Another in my sporadic updates on what I’ve been reading…
Still reading Bleak House. Still. But: I finished The Brothers Karamazov and it was awesome! Okay, awesome is a bit strong, but finally, a big, important Russian novel that I felt connected to. It makes me want to read The Idiot soon. But not too soon. Also read:
Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe: Not sure why I picked this up, except that I’d heard it was better than the average star autobiography. I didn’t really think it was (better, that is). It was okay, but it read the way I imagine Lowe to be in real life: glib and a bit shallow. He sure was pretty when he was younger, though. I still remember all the girls at my middle school going to the first showing of The Outsiders when it premiered, and swooning over Soda Pop.
Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne: I was disappointed in this one. In Christine’s review, she touches on the equality of Adrian and Justine, but it was what I perceived as the lack of equality that continually frustrated me. It was one of those romances where the hero has to best the heroine constantly, just a little bit. That is something that bugs me enough in the normal course of things, but when the heroine *is* supposed to be the hero’s equal (in this case, in spying), and yet the reader is shown in a million little ways that he is more competent than she, it damn near maddens me. It reminds me of Anne Stuart’s Ice Storm, and then it’s “flames, flames on the side of my face!” time for me. Seriously, that book makes me want to punch a kitten, and I love kittens.
Bess of Hardwick by Mary S. Lovell: Man, if The Tudors didn’t prove it, I am reminded once again that life in Tudor England was dangerous. Not just for the poor and downtrodden, subject to all sorts of fatal diseases, but to the upper classes, who were also at the mercy of those diseases (though perhaps a bit better protected from them), and as well in danger of getting their heads lopped off. What I find strange is all the scheming people did back then, knowing what the consequences might be. I mean, I get the idea of ambition, in theory (in practice I find that ambition gets in the way of napping), but if decapitation is one of the possible outcomes, I’ll just stay at home in my drafty castle and mind my own business, thank you very much (note: some people did try this and STILL got their heads cut off; it wasn’t a foolproof system). So, Bess of Hardwick is especially noteworthy for being ambitious, successful, and so far, in no danger of being snuffed (unlike numerous poor souls around her). Of course, I’m not quite halfway through this biography yet, so who knows what might happen? So far, so good.
Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich: I managed to avoid the Stephanie Plum series entirely for the first decade and a half of its existence. I followed the Ranger-Morelli wars at a distance, but the series didn’t really interest me (I’m not a big mystery reader). Then I got sucked into reading the first book a couple of years ago for a book club thing. I was surprised to find that I actually rather liked it. It wasn’t my usual sort of book, to be sure. But it was very readable. Very easy and quick, and it didn’t require much brain power. I am sure that sounds like damning with faint praise, but darn it, sometimes that’s what I really want in a book. When I finished the first book, I wanted to read the second. And then then next, and the next, and the next. So now I’m on book 15. The weird thing is that whenever I start one of the Plum books it takes me a few chapters to really get into it. At first I kind of roll my eyes at the recitation of familiar Stephanie facts and the stereotypical behavior of the secondary characters. I find myself annoyed at Stephanie’s inevitable bumbling as some pathetic skip manages to outwit and escape her. But after a while I remember what I like about the world Evanovich has created – how familiar and comfortable it is, how I really do like most of the characters quite a bit. The humor is too broad and unrealistic for me to say that I find it very funny (I tend to like broad humor more on screen than on the page), and the mysteries are not usually hugely involving (though again, I’m just not much of a mystery fan in general), but somehow these books work for me. For the record, I am Team Ranger, though I like Morelli fine.
The September Queen by Gillian Bagwell: Earlier this year I read and reviewed Darling Strumpet so when the opportunity came along to read about another one of Charles II’s mistresses, I thought: sure, why not? Of course, if I read a book about ever woman he ever screwed, I will be reading about them for the rest of my life. Jane Lane (I think her parents might have given a bit more thought to her Christian name, but that’s just me) was actually an early conquest of Charles (at least according to this story); they met when he was on the run from Cromwell’s forces, before the Restoration. Anyway, I will be reviewing this, but so far, I’m finding Jane a little annoyingly googly-eyed over hot Charles. At 25, she’s actually several years his senior, and practically ancient for a woman of that era, so I have little patience for her swooning. But there’s a lot of book left, and I’m curious to see where the story will go from here.
Until next time,