Sins of the Cities (An Unseen Attraction, An Unnatural Vice, An Unsuitable Heir)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sins of the Cities (An Unseen Attraction, An Unnatural Vice, An Unsuitable Heir)
K. J. Charles, 2017

Premise: A lodging-keeper, a taxidermist, a crusading journalist, a scheming medium, an enquiry agent, and an acrobat. Six people find romance after being brought together in London by lies and murder.

I'm quite a fan of this author's period romances, and these are particularly nice. I like the balance between romance, sex, and action.

I don't read enough romance to know whether this is common, but I also really like the way this trilogy solves the potential contradiction of writing a romance series. Each book ends with its requisite happy ending, but each features a different couple in a set of interlocking stories. The background story (involving a secret marriage, blackmail, and murder), which affects each of the three couples differently, isn't solved until the third book.

This series also features a high number of untraditional traits in the leads, even for LGBT romance.

Clem (book one) is a half-Indian byblow of a prominent British family, and he also appears to be very mildly autistic. Of course they don't have a word or a definition for it in 1873, but his eventual lover is happy to work around his difficulties with crowds and inability with hints.

The third book features a really interesting portrayal of a nonbinary lead, although I wish the non-romance plot of that one had been a bit more interesting.

Overall I enjoyed all three books.

4 Stars - Very Good Books

Bird Box

Monday, November 6, 2017

Bird Box
Josh Malerman, 2014

Premise: Malorie is finally bringing the children to what she hopes is safety. The only problem is, she can't look.

I remember there being a good amount of buzz for this book early on, and then some backlash. So I know I'm not saying anything new when I say this book was rather disappointing.

The idea is intriguing. Something mysterious is causing people to go mad, and you can only protect yourself by not looking, so people are barricading themselves in buildings and learning to navigate by sound. The book is intercut between Malorie's journey trying to bring two young children to possible safety, with all of them blindfolded, and how she came to be alone in a house with two children.

The story is interesting and tense, but not especially scary until near the end. Of course this leads to a situation in which humans are worse to each other than the monsters are and some sections that were unnecessarily gross in my opinion.

I understand that it's sort of the point, but as a genre fan, I can't accept getting zero explanation of what is actually going on. The book doesn't care what was going on, it only cares about the extraordinary things people will do out of desperation.

I understand that, but I found it fundamentally unsatisfying.

2 Stars - An Okay Book


Monday, October 30, 2017

Robin McKinley, 2003

Premise: Rae is a baker with a career, a boyfriend, and a community. She knows not to go through the bad part of town alone. The lake near where her grandmother had lived should have been safe. There shouldn't have been vampires anywhere near there.

This is one of the best damn vampire books I've ever read.

It takes place in a fascinating world that is revealed only slowly and naturally. It's in first person, and there is almost zero info-dumping. Very little is revealed until it comes up directly, including important facts about the world and the characters' history.

I loved the language in this book. Slang and conversation casually reflects the presence of everyday magic and myth. The world, as alluded to above, is a complex one. Vampires are the most dangerous paranormal critter, but not the only one. It's unclear how long they've been openly coexisting with humanity, only that there was a major conflict within living memory.

The main character is both strong and overwhelmed and had a great sense of humor. I enjoyed her practicality and her struggle.

The magic is intriguing and beautifully described. The writing is fast and gripping; I had a lot of trouble putting it down.

Just overall, fantastic.

5 Stars - An Awesome Book