Here’s what I’ve been reading in the last few weeks:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
I finished! On April 1st, which was not too bad at all, considering how busy March was for me. It was an absolute joy to read. Mantel is a master of characterisation and has incredible skill with her prose. I most appreciated the unexpected, fierce flashes of humour that lit up the book every so often. I will be downloading Bringing Up The Bodies very soon indeed. I am a complete convert to e-reading for large books like this. Easier to carry around, easier to mark progress, easier on the hands.
Her Favourite Rival by Sarah Mayberry
I enjoyed this very much. It’s an office romance, with just enough conflict to keep it going. Both hero and heroine have complicated families (this is a Superromance, but there are no kids, yay!). I would have liked a bit more time to explore the dynamics of her family and the resolution with her sister felt a bit too neat for plausibility. But on the other hand, nothing about the hero’s family was neatly tied up. And I really liked the ending, especially in light of the next book I read…
Just The Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James
I suggested this as a twitter readalong because I’d never read James and JTSMA was on sale. The Sexiest Man Alive (TM) is a Hollywood superstar whose next film role is as a lawyer. He pulls strings to shadow the heroine. He messes her around, manipulates her by his influence over her company, and assumes she’ll fall at his feet like every other woman in the world. The good part is that she doesn’t. I genuinely enjoyed several of the early scenes between the two of them where she gets to show why she’s such a good lawyer and gets the better of him each time. But, sadly the book did not live up to its early promise. The dynamic between Jason and Taylor never changes. At the end he’s still assuming she’ll fall in with his plans. He’s still manipulating her for his own ends. And she… well, she goes along with it.
I said on twitter that the ending of this book made me angry. It still does. Taylor is portrayed as a strong heroine, who excels at her job, who has her life in her own hands and yet Jason’s assumption is that she will give up her job, her friends, her family and her life in Chicago in order to move to LA to be with him. Taylor initially refuses – because she’s afraid he’ll cheat on her like a previous boyfriend did. But when she does decide she wants to be with Jason, well then, she gives up her job, her friends, her family and her life in Chicago without so much as a thought. That was what really got me. Not that she ends up in LA, but that at no point does she (or Jason, for that matter) consider any other outcome. His career is still assumed to be more important than hers (just like it was at the beginning of the book when she’s expected to clear her schedule for him, and then he doesn’t even bother to show up). He never once offers to relocate, and nor does she contemplate it. He’s met her Chicago friends, and yet he doesn’t even ask whether she’ll miss them. He knows her family are there, but it never occurs to him that might be a reason why she might prefer not to relocate. She makes partner at her Chicago law firm – and turns it down to stay in LA. It’s FINE if she wants to give all that up, but the book never makes it an option for her not to. And it NEVER makes it an option for Jason to give anything up at all. He’s the movie star. Why couldn’t he move to Chicago and take his private jet wherever he’s filming? Or cut back on his schedule to spend more time with Taylor? Or at least think about the possibility that he might have to make some compromises?
Oh right, because he’s the guy.
Neanderthal Meets Human, Friends Without Benefits, Love Hacked by Penny Reid
I normally avoid books about knitting clubs. Someone always has cancer and dies at the end. But not in these books! These are real knitters who know the value of a Madelinetosh limited edition colourway and aren’t afraid to use it. But also, they’re fun, interesting, clever people who have romances to match. The books are funny, unpredictable, a little bit sexy, and very romantic. There are some editing issues, especially in the first one, but I think they’re worth persevering with despite that. Also, there are no actual neanderthals. I realise probably no one else thought there might be, but I have read too much Jasper Fforde to be sure on that point. And, well, that was part of the reason I hadn’t picked up the first book before someone told me about the knitting. So, yeah, no neanderthals.
And now I need your help. I need recommendations of books to read on my holiday. Anything set in Iceland, DC, Philly, NYC or on a cruise ship! I have Emma Barry’s Special Interests in mind for the DC part of the trip, but would love some more ideas.