Reading highlights – August and September

I have two months worth of books to reflect upon today, because somehow I missed my August post. But I’ll try not to go on about all of them and just present the highlights package. (That’ll mean ignoring any books I might have happened to re-read… of which there were four.)

AUGUST

Hindsight – Sarah Belle

Hindsight is a light comedy about a woman who comes close to destroying her marriage by letting her career as a PR agent to the rich and famous take over her life. She finds herself translated back in time to 1960s Melbourne, complete with husband, kids and neighbourhood, and rediscovers her relationship with same. It’s quite an entertaining look at how a modern woman survives in a world in which she doesn’t have so much as a landline telephone or TV, but I did have issues with the apparent message that a woman who drops her career and becomes a full-time mum is actually happier. Hmmm. This book was chosen by my reading group (all women, not all of them mums) and we had rather an interesting discussion about contemporary work-life balance among other things.

Between the Sheets – Liv Rancourt

Between-the-SheetsLiv Rancourt is one of my online buddies, and I received a review copy of her new romance novella… Here’s my official review!

Love on choir camp — the premise caught me from the start. Maggie is on a convention for school music teachers, when she kisses Randy first and meets him later. Since she’s been challenged by her best friend to hook up for the weekend, she’s off to a good start.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book/novella. It’s fast-paced with snappy writing and lots of ironic humour. The air between Maggie and Randy fairly sizzles, and there’s a fabulous emotional intensity to their encounters that makes it very clear to the reader they really like each other, even if they tell themselves they’re pretending.

The main characters are well drawn and believable, with vulnerabilities they succumb to but ultimately surmount. In particular, Maggie, who has considerable relationship baggage, is brave as she confronts what she wants and sets out to get it. And when Randy turns out to be a hot shot musician, I felt like swooning.

It’s a great length, easily read in one sitting without feeling too short. Although having said that I could have definitely handled more Maggie and Randy. I desperately wanted to see them play music together.

Last Line – Harper Fox

One of Harper Fox’s early novels was re-released for kindle, so of course I had to read it immediately. This is by far the most emotionally harrowing of her novels, about two UK special agents, one of whom was tortured and brain-washed in the past, making him really vulnerable to manipulation by the bad guys. It all turns out well in the end, but not for the faint-hearted.

Other books read in August included Ghostly Treasure by Suzanne Stengl (a novella by another online buddy). On the audiobook front, I listened to two of the Phryne Fisher novels by Kerry Greenwood — Rudigore and Urn Burial.

SEPTEMBER

The Broken Kingdoms – N.K. Jemisin

the-broken-kingdoms-by-nk-jemisinThis is the second of N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy (fantasy), the first of which is The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which I read and adored (and reviewed) a few years ago. The Broken Kingdoms has been sitting on my kindle all that time since. It’s set ten years after the first book, in a city overshadowed by an enormous supernatural tree, where someone is mysteriously killing godlings (children of the three main gods). Oree is a blind woman who can see magic… and paints using magic. She hangs out with godlings, has been in a relationship with one, but finds herself a pawn in the plot of those seeking to kill them. She also befriends a fallen god and helps him find himself again.

The Broken Kingdoms is very very different to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, although written in a similar style. It’s not nearly as complex or political, for one thing, and although Oree is a determined protagonist (and it’s fascinating to have a book narrated by a blind woman), I don’t think I connected with her as much. Moreover, there just isn’t as much to the story. And as for the end… well, let’s just say that if you’re someone who likes a ‘happy ever after’ ending for relationship subplots, you’ll feel like throwing the book (or kindle) across the room. On the whole I enjoyed the book enough to finish it (and I only finish books I like), but I didn’t love it.

More September books

Other books read in September included Stranger on the Shore and Fair Game (All’s Fair), both by Josh Lanyon. Both of these are mystery novels with a m/m romance angle. I liked Stranger on the Shore in particular, with its Gatsby-inspired 20-year old child kidnapping mystery solved by a journalist who stays with a wealthy dysfunctional family on Long Island to research the story for a book.

Currently I’m reading the latest in Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner fantasy series, Shards of Time. I do love the first two or three in this series, but although the subsequent books don’t reach the same heights, I rather enjoy them anyway. One of the things that has struck me about this one is how like a D&D setup some books in the series are. More on that next month! In the car I’m listening to Jane Austen’s Emma.

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