Saturday, 11 April 2020

Saturday Reads - 11/4/20

So, that was a bit of an unintended hiatus. It's not actually that I haven't been reading, although the first week of April I finished absolutely nothing and read less. But I just got distracted by all the chaos and never got around to posting. So this is a three week or so wrap up, I think?

What I’ve finished reading since I last posted:

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn - I read this for three reasons: because the Netflix series is coming later this year, because Twitter-friend and now colleague Adele Walsh is doing a podcast about the Bridgerton series, and because my wife asked about them (in re the Netflix series) but reading Regency romance is really not her thing, especially not the cliched stuff. Okay, so holy consent issues, Batman, even if they’re not the ones you might expect. On the other hand, so much of it was so delightful… until I ran into the consent issues and some of the treatment of stuttering-as-disability. I’m really conflicted on this, and I think I gave it three stars on Goodreads because of that. I loved so much of this book, but, but, but…

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, by Alison Weir. I think Weir made some really interesting choices in this one, and justified them well in her afterword. She didn’t exactly change my mind on Jane, but I didn’t find this book the chore that I was kind of expecting to. Again, well done to Weir, and I definitely appreciate her current fiction more than her earliest attempts.

Brimstone, by Kelly Gardiner. First book in the Fire Watcher Chronicles. I have the second to go on with straight away (the night I finished Brimstone my wife was powering through the second, Phoenix, so that she could give it to me.) It took me a while to get through this but that wasn’t at all because of the book itself, just the world in which I was trying to read. I’ve found it harder to read the last couple weeks but I’m making a conscious effort to get back into it again. Brimstone was good - although I did find myself yelling at Christopher to stop telling people all about the future and hadn’t he ever read any timeslip books before! (Definitely lack of genre awareness, there, Christopher! This is an in-joke and not a criticism of the book!) Looking forward to the second.

What I’m reading now:
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtenay Milan. Time for some more Milan :-) I need light, fluffy escapism right now, I really do.

What’s catching my eye on the TBR:
Evaristo’s Blonde Roots is still beckoning me, as is the second Fire Watcher Chronicle, Phoenix. I’ve also got that Zen Cho novella, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo that I really ought to read.

 Also the Hugo Award finalists are now out, so there's a bit of a reading list for me. (I was going to be at WorldCon this year! I'm so upset!)

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Saturday Reads - 21/3/20

What I’ve just finished reading:
Nothing. I’ve been reading way too much Twitter this week and not escaping nearly enough into fiction.

What I’m reading now: Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir. I think I’m close to halfway through at this point. It’s good. I’m actually liking this Jane more than I was expecting to. I really like the explanation for Jane’s meekness that Weir has posited.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. Which the cat spilled tea all over on Thursday (it's a library book). I’d love to finish this one off this weekend.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, by Zen Cho. Cho is currently offering this one for free (check her Twitter feed if you’re interested.) It’s a historical novella set in the 1920s.

What’s catching my eye on the TBR:
In the current climate, Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo may end up being a form of escapism, bizarrely enough. Also, I started American Royals, but it’s kind of drifted to the wayside in the last few weeks.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Saturday reads (on Sunday, 15/3/20)

I completely forgot yesterday. Completely.

What I’ve just finished reading:
Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir. Okay, I really liked this. Weir’s fiction has definitely improved since her early attempts (The Lady Elizabeth was dire,) and I don’t just think that’s because I like Weir’s interpretation of Anne better than I liked her interpretation of Anne’s daughter. I mean, I liked The Other Boleyn Girl while disagreeing vehemently with its interpretation of history. … The Author’s Note at the end is also really good, mentioning the reasoning behind some of Weir’s choices, which I really appreciate.

What I’m reading now:
Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir. I know. I blame Six and the fact that Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr are my favourites and Six made me more sympathetic towards … well, all of them except Seymour, and I feel like once I’m through this book I’ll be “over the hump” so to speak… and who knows, maybe Weir will make Seymour less of a wimp? Anyway, I’m actually enjoying it so far. The thing with this series is that you can end up seeing the same thing from multiple points of view, and (for example) the panic over the sweating sickness is suddenly reading very differently than it did when I read it the first time long before Novel Coronavirus was a thing...

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. Because The Bridgertons is turning into a Netflix series, and a friend and colleague is part of a Bridgertons podcast, and because my wife asked about it. So far it’s delightful. I’m just.. Not reading it steadily. It’s not because I don’t like it - honestly I think it’s mostly because, well, the apocalypse.

What’s catching my eye on the TBR: I need to start Blonde Roots (by Bernardine Evaristo). I also just received The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite from the public library (I thought I’d suspended that hold, but apparently not.)

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Saturday Reads - 7th March 2020

I am bowing to the inevitable. Clearly, I am hardly ever going to manage to post on a Wednesday, so from now on, this is Saturday Reads.

What I’ve just finished reading:
Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms by Anita Heiss. Such a quiet book! It suits the story, but I was still startled by it. Lovely in its way, although simultaneously difficult to get through the various attitudes of the time, and the experiences of pretty much all the characters other than the whites (except Raymond). I really enjoyed this. It has a different tone to the other Heiss novels I’ve read, although I haven’t read Tiddas yet and that may well be similar to this. Less snark (not surprisingly). A really good read and I’m so glad I finally got there.

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan. I loved Jane. And Emily. And Anjan. Even Oliver got there eventually. (His certainty that he couldn’t marry Jane frustrated me no end.) Milan’s heroines are clearly not your average Regency heroines. (They’re Victorian, for starters, I’m pretty sure.) But the thing I love about Stephanie Laurens’ heroines - their feistiness and their refusal to do anything they don’t want to do is doubled and tripled in Milan’s books. I’m so glad I started reading her, and I’m going to have to read the Worth saga once I’ve finished the Brothers Sinister. And maybe even her contemporaries…

Craft a Life you Love by Amy Tangerine. This was definitely a good choice for a self-development read. It’s bitsy, and my copy is already full of highlighting and scribbles and it will get more of that on later re-reads.

What I’m reading now: I need to put some effort into finishing Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession. It went way onto the backburner during February.

Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff is my latest Self-Development read. It was a recommendation via Brene Brown’s books, but I’m currently finding it VERY confronting.

What’s catching my eye on the TBR:

Publicity is ramping up for the latest Sulari Gentil (number 10), which makes me feel like I need to read the next in the series (number six). Only I don’t own it yet, dammit…

And The Duke and I by Julia Quinn has arrived from the public library. Hoping to dig into that one later today.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Wednesday Reads 26/2/20

What I’ve just finished reading:
Two Wings to Fly Away by Penny Mickelbury. I have a reflection post (it’s really not a review) in the works and I hope that will be posted soon. But basically a) there is a romance in this story but the book is not a Romance; b) I want the sequel ASAP, and c) I now need to decide which of Mickelbury’s other series to start on sometime soon. Honestly, it will probably come down to which is more readily available.

Mindset, by Carol Dweck. An item on my personal development reading list from last year. I had some time and access to the eBook via the library and so sat down and finished off the final chapter. Really good book; probably need to get my own copy.

What I’m reading now:
My spreadsheet tells me I have four books currently on the go, which feels like a couple too many.

Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms by Anita Heiss. Third of my Black History Month books, this is an historical set during WWII at the time of the Cowra Breakout. One of the Japanese prisoners who escaped in the breakout makes his way to a nearby mission station where Indigenous Australians are forced to live by the government. There was some utter nonsense on Twitter over the weekend where African Americans were saying Indigenous Australians aren’t Black and that made me all the more determined to read this as a Black History Month read.

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan. I needed something on Kobo to read and I didn’t feel like Anne Boleyn. Also I am trying to keep my Black History Month goal of only finishing fiction by authors of colour (with the exception of Moontangled). So I started the next of the Brothers Sinister books. The two from last week, Craft a life you love by Amy Tangerine and Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, are still there.

What’s catching my eye on the TBR:

I’ve put in an Inter-Library Loan request for Blonde Roots, one of Bernardine Evaristo’s earlier books, and the system tells me it’s on its way. Meanwhile, Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion is finally back on the shelf in my work library, and I’ve been wanting to read that since early last year and I may need to just snap it up while it’s available.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Wednesday Reads - 19/2/2020

What I’ve just finished reading:
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. Loved it. Loved it, loved it. I have got to chase down some of Evaristo’s other books, especially Blonde Roots.

What I’m reading now:
Two Wings to Fly Away by Penny Mickelbury which I’d told myself was a romance, when it’s kind of not, but I’m still hoping for the HEA/HFN (there’s a sequel coming). It’s set before the US Civil War, in Philadelphia, and the reason I’m having to rejig my assumptions is that there’s a man getting all in the way of things - Ezra MacKaye is a far more important part of this story than he would be if it had been a straighforward f/f romance. He’s an interesting man, serving an interesting plot, but I’m just hoping he gets well out of the way when the time comes.

Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine. (Pretty sure her actual name is Amy Tan, but then I remembered that there’s another writer by that name, and her decision to go with her crafting brand as pen name made way more sense. And yes, I have read at least one book by other!Amy Tan.) This one is a personal development book, and thus doesn’t violate my “only finishing books by Black authors in February” rule, which I’m sticking to when it comes to fiction. Meanwhile, Tangerine is still an author of colour and I promise I am not making a pun there. Tangerine is well-known in scrapbooking circles and I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while. It’s good. It’s designed with journaling exercises in the book and I have no compunctions about writing, highlighting etc all over this book. And I’m doing exactly that.

Still going with Anne Boleyn, but it’s down the priority list right now (see February rule above).

What’s catching my eye on the TBR:

Part of my Valentine’s Day present from my wife was Murder on the Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (published in the US as The Widows of Malabar Hill, according to Goodreads). I’ve read Sujata Massey before (never realised she had a Minnesota connection, though!) but this is the beginning of a new series, set in Bombay in the 20s!

I don’t know whether I’ll get to it, but I do still want to start Anita Heiss’ Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms as part of my Black History Month reading. That way I’ll have one author each from the UK, US and Australia...

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Wednesday Reads - 12/02/2020

What I’ve just finished reading:
Nothing. I didn’t get as much reading time over the weekend as I’d kind of hoped, and everything I’m reading at the moment is big and chunky.

What I’m reading now:
Still working on Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir. See last week’s post for details.

What’s catching my eye on the TBR:
I’ve decided to change the title of this section because I don’t like tying myself down the way I feel “what I’ll read next” sometimes does? For this month it’s fine, because I set a fairly concrete reading intention and want to see it through, but in general, I work more fluidly than that, and need the flexibility…

I’ve mentally added the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, or at least the first of them, to the TBR. I blame my wife. She was asking whether she should read them prior to the Netflix series coming out, and while I know the books won’t be her thing, it did pique my interest enough that I checked whether I’ll be able to get the first one from the library. Which I can. In March. Not before.

Also Melissa De La Cruz’s Something In Between. Which I’ve been meaning to read for ages. I saw a copy of Someone to Love in the bookstore, and that reminded me that I still have Something in Between to read.

Finally, today on Twitter, Tara Scott linked her review of 96 Hours by Georgia Beers, which… f/f romance set in Gander, Newfoundland among the plane people? Yes, PLEASE. (Although it had better be well-researched.)