Recent Reading: Library Loot

A lot of my reading and listening this month has come from the library. I’m throwing it into a round-up post because I don’t have a lot to say about any of these books.

Ann Cleeves, Raven Black

First in a Shetland-Islands set mystery series, featuring Jimmy Perez, himself a native of Fair Isle. This was more of a thriller and darker than I expected (not sure why the setting translated in my mind as “cozy”–some sweater association?), with well-developed characters and a twisty plot. I thought Cleeves did an especially good job of exploring what it’s like to live in a small isolated community, from a variety of perspectives–from a teen new to the islands to a long-time resident who has become a pariah. I don’t know if it’s accurate, but it’s plausible. I will definitely read more of this series.
Continue reading

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Twitter Recommends: Latin@ and Hispanic Romance

Recently in the comments here, lawless and I discussed the fact that I don’t see a lot of Twitter recommendations for romances written by authors, or featuring characters, who are Latin@ (as opposed to African American, Asian or South Asian, although that’s still a small number of the books/authors I see discussed, and usually the same ones over and over–not that they aren’t good recommendations, but still). I knew they must be out there, but my Twitter circle wasn’t talking about them much. She suggested putting out a call for recommendations, and here it is:

(Aside: this comic by Terry Blas offers a shorthand explanation of the difference between the terms Latin@–itself a shorthand to include both Latino and Latina–and Hispanic. However, the distinction is not always as simple as he suggests, as German Lopez explains.

In summarizing the responses to lawless’ request below, I haven’t distinguished between the two terms or between authors who are Latina and/or Hispanic and those who are not, because not all recommenders did so, and assumptions based on names can be wrong. Generally, authors weren’t recommending themselves, so I don’t know what self-description they prefer. I’d be happy to get clarifications in the comments, as well as additional recommendations).

The recommendations are in the order they rolled in, with titles or subgenres where they were provided: Continue reading

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TBR Challenge: Cupid’s Mistake, by Karen Harbaugh

August’s TBR Challenge theme is “Impulse Read” (an impulse buy book) so I turned to my Kindle app, aka “Where Impulse Buys Go to Die.” Not because they’re bad–I found some pleasant surprises browsing my relatively small Kindle library. But I’ve learned I don’t really like reading on my phone or iPad, so my Kindle buys are all Kindle-only sale books I bought on impulse and then forgot about. (I know I can convert them to ePub, but I’m lazy). I wanted something fun, so I chose Cupid’s Mistake, a not-quite-traditional Regency by Karen Harbaugh.

In her Author’s Note, Harbaugh explains that her approach to the Regency subgenre was inspired by Heyer, who wrote both more serious and lighter books, incorporating elements from other genres like mystery. Harbaugh’s more “serious” books included paranormal elements (her Vampire Viscount really is one) and readers complained they weren’t “real” Regencies. So she decided

“I’ll find every single cliché I’ve ever read in a Regency romance and stuff them all in the next book I write. That’ll show them!”

Except a fantasy element still snuck in.

As a result, here is my comedy of manners that contains a bluestocking spinster, cynical nobleman, meddling sister, and matchmaking mama, all of whom are involved in one misunderstanding or other. Oh, and yes, there’s a Greek god in there too.

The result is a fluffy, funny, featherweight confection, from which Cupid, I suspect, will prove the most memorable character. Continue reading

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Vacation Reading: SFF

These will not be proper reviews, because I waited too long after reading the books. But I wanted to say something about them.

Aliette de Bodard, On a Red Station, Drifting

This novella was nominated for a number of science fiction awards, so there are proper reviews all over the place. It’s structurally complex, with three sections, each of which features the classic plot “a stranger comes to town” [or space station], setting change in motion. When I finished it, I thought “I need to read this again.” And I will. Here are some reasons I loved it: Continue reading

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Murder on Bamboo Lane, by Naomi Hirahara

Last year I read and enjoyed the first book in Naomi Hirahara’s Mas Arai series, featuring a Japanese American gardener in Los Angeles, with a mystery dating back to Hiroshima in World War II. Murder on Bamboo Lane is the first book in her new series featuring Ellie Rush, a young LAPD bike cop (Ellie’s mom is Japanese American, her dad is white). I think I liked this book even more. It made a good followup to Synithia Williams’ Just My Type, since both feature heroines in their early twenties finding their feet both professionally and romantically.

Murder on Bamboo Lane uses first person narration, unusual in mysteries–at least the ones I read. I thought it fit the youthful character, fresh out of college and in her first year on the force, maybe because I’m used to first person in YA and in romances featuring young characters. Hirahara created a voice that seemed right for Ellie: Continue reading

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