I am blaming the bingo card.
Not my (possibly appalling) reading choices. Externalising blame…it’s much safer that way!
I hadn’t noticed until I started BINGO-ing (can that be a verb?), but when forced to list my books-read, there were some intriguing facts for the month of JUNE:
1) I’ve read FAR too many Nora Roberts
2) I’ve read FAR too many Linda Howards
3) I’ve read (and am now suffering burnout as a result) FAR too many Paranormals.
4) I DNF’d ALOT. Some would say too much – but I am of a ‘you only live once and do you really want to remember the last book you read as that horrific wallpaper space opera which was really just an opportunity for the author to live out a vicarious fantasy that included possible alien sex?’ ilk (it is a fairly specific dilemma, I realise) and the answer is NO. I do not. So I DNF. Without shame.
5) Most of my book didn’t fit into any square – so either – I need to cheat more credibly or read more diversely — or maybe I need to start selecting books to WIN. Yes – that’s it – I need to be FAR more competitive about this dammit!
(Things to remember for July, clearly…)
This month’s non-bingo-winning books are as follows:
A CHILD’S GRIEF : Nora Roberts: Birthright,
It’s probably been about a month since I finished my FIRST (I know, gasp) Nora Roberts and I have to say I don’t mind them at all. I don’t think they will ever be books I passionately proselytise to random strangers on the bus about, (I reserve that for SPESHUL snowflake books like Neels, Heyer and Kearsley) but they are easy reads.
I have so far encountered three styles of Robert stories:
- her woo-oooh paranormal-ish romances that hit up irish-y/mythology/ghostly things;
- her serious-crime-romance-with-superior-but-slightly-broken-females and jaded white-knight heroes;
- and the Others – which sometimes include both of the above plus other things…
Birthright is one of the superior-but-broken-female ones, and it’s pretty good.
Archaeologist, Callie Dunbrook ends up on a dig in a hokey town, forced to work with her ex-husband Jake. When some random woman approaches her claiming Callie is her kidnapped daughter, all hell breaks loose.
Callie, with Jake’s super-helpful-support starts to unravel the mystery and skeletons are falling out of closets EVERYWHERE.
There’s an additional romance between secondary characters and another romance between estranged parents of characters and people with unrequited crushes – and who knows what else.
But it never feels rushed, The POV changes are seamless and there is a HEA for pretty much everyone.
Also READ but alas, fitted no squares:
All the Jewels of the Sun, Stars of Fortune, Tribute, Key of Light, Key of Knowledge, The Search
I would have to say the only thing I find slightly repellant about Robert’s work is that I always feel like she is screaming ‘SEE???? LOOK AT ALL THE TECHNICAL INFORMATION I HAVE INCLUDED!!!! I researched – I researched – I researched!!!!
There’s jargon and filler and info-dumping via various character’s insightful questions – it can just get a little much.
In The Search – the heroine was a dog trainer and the hero a wood-artist-thing and between the two of them admiring and questioning each other’s interests, the entire plot only just managed to be squeezed breathlessly in around them…
Thus, I oscillate between wanting to pat her on the head for her awesome school report information or ban her from using wikipedia…
FOR YOUR OWN GOOD: Followed by Frost, Charlie N Holmberg
I have been a squeeing fan-girl of Holmberg since her Paper Magician Series, and one day, when I have a little perspective around them I will TOTALLY review them.
FBF is just as good. And interestingly zeigeist-ish in its snow-queen-esque vibe. (Yes, I am now just making up words as I feel like it…)
Set in an alternate world, our protagonist Smitha, callously rejects a strange man’s proposal and is cursed by him as a result. Her entire being and everything she touches freezes.
Banished from the village, hunted by soldiers and stalked by a physical Death, who delights in trying to tempt her into joining him on the other side, Smitha is ready to give up and die. Salvation in the form of an Arabian Prince enters the plot, and from there it goes gang busters.
The thing I really liked about this was the complete inhabitation of the cursed status. The detail was so well done I felt cold and unwell just reading about it.
Also, the deviations from trope were fabulously good.
The hero is NOT who you would think and Smitha is SO AWFUL to begin with, I was secretly happy she did get cursed. Her redemption is (mostly) flawlessly executed and the HEA – although a little Disney Princess, was totally satisfying.
Downside: They have awkwardly ridiculous names – I guess you can’t have everything.
Upside? Holmberg does world building like a BOSS. nuff said.
Linda Howard was a bit of a glom this month. I like her Crusie/Robards/Roberts feel. It works well for the most part, although I do confess to DNF-ing Mr Perfect – it required waaay to much of a suspension of belief and frankly all the characters were ridonkulous.
Open Season is my favourite – it is so perfectly balanced between the outrageous and the serious – and the heroine is a spinster librarian – almost my favourite trope in the world.
SOLSTICE: Melissa F Olson: Boundary Magic series
I am now suffering from Paranormal overload – but Olson’s Boundary Magic series was GOOD.
Lex’s twin sister was murdered brutally and after discharging from the army, Allison Lex Luther is a MESS. Two Vampires try to kidnap her niece Charlie, – and suddenly Lex is initiated into a world that is as magical as it is deadly…
To guarantee Charlie’s safety, she makes a deal with the vampires – and joins forces with undead Quinn (super-cute-non-trope-vampire) to track down the kidnappers.
The next two books build on the first one, in a nice, considered and logical fashion.
They resemble Ilona Andrews/Kate Daniels, Patricia Briggs in feel, but more a PG kinda way. I haven’t liked any of Olson’s other stuff, and even though she uses the same world, something about this series was just BETTER. Much better.
First Line: The third time I died was early on a Monday morning, a week after Labor Day.
I mean – that is cool right?
The usual suspects loiter with intent: vampires, were-wolves, witches, etc. But Olsen gets bonus points because she never succumbs to cliche – when a giant reptile is eating people across town – it ISN’T a basilisk; diversity in sexual preferences and background abound (you know, like in real life); she never once refers to a person’s skin colour with a food adjective; there are twins that AREN’T identical and Lex as a character is both kick-ass and broken in a believable way.
HERO IS A MOUNTAIN Liz Fielding, A Nanny for Keeps
I love Fielding. She is my go-to comfort read for rainy days, bad Mondays and general pick-me-ups. A Nanny for Keeps is no exception. It’s short, sweet and the Hero is mammoth-sized, so I finally got to cross off a square.
Jacqui Moore is on the run–from being a nanny! She can’t bear the thought of getting close to a child again, only to lose that love in the space of a heartbeat. Until she meets little orphaned Maisie, and is railroaded into becoming her nanny for the night.
Nights turn into days…and weeks…and now Jacqui’s emotions are in turmoil. For, along with Maisie, the master of the house–magnificent yet scarred Harry Talbot–has stolen her heart. And now there’s nowhere to run and hide….
It’s cute and classy. Want more could you want??
Valancy: determined to beat B.I.N.G.O at its own sly and insidious game…. hah!
Header Image: Woman Resting, Henri Lebasque, (1865-1937)