Paladin of Souls

Monday, June 22, 2020

Paladin of Souls

Lois McMaster Bujold, 2003

Hugo Winner - 2004

Premise: Ista’s children are grown, and the kingdom of Chalion is relatively safe (after the events of the previous book). Why does she feel so dissatisfied?

I know I read this book before, both it and The Curse of Chalion, but I have little memory of either book.

I didn’t feel at a disadvantage, though; I definitely picked up everything I needed to know along the way and none of the exposition felt overbearing. This was a fascinating book to come back to essentially cold. I loved it.

I loved Ista. I loved that she’s a grown woman, with mature attitudes, but not immune to a bit of romance. I loved her attitude toward everyone’s expectations for her and the way she slowly forges her own path.

There were moments where Ista reminded me strongly of Cordelia from the Vorkosigan series, but the world can only be better for more wise, strong, practical middle-aged women in its genre fiction.

The world and the relationship between the gods, demons, and humans is relatively unique and clear without needing tons of explanation. There’s a glossary in the back of the book, but I never needed to consult it - the terms are always clear from context.

I definitely want to revisit the other Chalion books at some point. This was simply a fantastic read start to end: a compelling and comforting tale spun by a master.

5 Stars - An Awesome Book

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Aimee Bender, 2010

Premise:
When Rose is 9, she develops an ability to sense emotions through food. The first and most lasting effect is that she discovers how thoroughly unhappy her mother is.

About two-thirds of the way through this novel I was thinking, yeah, I should give literary fiction a chance more often. Then I finished the novel.

The ending isn't bad, per se. It's just not much of an ending in my opinion. It kind of ties up the plot, sort of. But it's just not satisfying.

I found this frustrating because I was enjoying the book. It straddles that line between literary fiction and magical realism. I would call it fantasy but those who sell books and look down on genres wouldn't.

Rose struggles with her relationships with her family throughout, partially through her talent and partially not. It's a book about a group of people who are technically a family, but they are each traveling in their very separate lives. The descriptions of emotion are very realistic, and the whole book is just so sad.

Again, it's very well done, but I'm left not necessarily the better for having read it.

3 Stars - A Good Book

Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure

Monday, June 1, 2020

Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure

Courtney Milan, 2019

Premise: Violetta is just trying to make ends meet, but wealthy widow Bertrice Martin sees in her an opportunity to teach her Terrible Nephew that he won't inherit her money without a fight. Neither of them expect to find someone to love.

I almost decided not to review this novella at all after reading KJ Charles's brilliant description on Goodreads.
A thoroughly enjoyable light-hearted frothy romance which is also a howl of pure screaming rage. We don't get enough of those.

That says almost everything, but I will add a few things for my own records.

I loved this. I loved the description of the beauty of the older characters. I loved Bertrice's confidence and the vulnerability under it. I loved Violetta's ethical struggles and her practicality.

Maybe some of the commentary is somewhat on-the-nose but that doesn't make it less powerful. The tension is more than plausible and the end supremely satisfying.

All that and a sweet romance from a master of the style. What's not to love?

5 Stars - An Awesome Book