The first thing to know about this book is that it’s set in a slightly parallel universe with a slightly different British royal family, though the US politics are more recognisable. I found it a bit maddening trying to follow what was real and what was alternative, actually, because at one moment it’d be talking about Obama and the next it’d be talking about a fictional politician — but in the end I found it easiest to just go along with it. The stuff that’s important quickly becomes clear, and to behonest, I don’t need a vivid and accurate portrayal of a modern royal family. I know some people are sticklers for accuracy, but I can put up with a lot as long as I care about the characters/plot.
And oh, did I ever care. The two main characters are total idiots about many things, and certain aspects of the plot were deeply obvious, but nonetheless I was hooked on them — their idiotic banter and their emails, texts, phone calls; the way they wind their way into each others’ lives, despite never expecting to. The way they go out on a limb with their feelings, and eventually decide to make it work somehow. It’s great escapism, and the relationships between them and also those around them worked for me.
The triumphal note of the ending makes sense for the genre, but rings rather more hopefully than I’ve been feeling lately, given the trends in British politics. It’s nice to end on a high note, though.
I’m in the middle of The Mortal Word, by Genevieve Cogman; I was bemoaning the lack of Peregrine Vale in the previous book, and lo and behold, this one’s a murder mystery. Here’s hoping there’s plenty of Vale in this one (though I hope Kai isn’t as relegated to the sidelines as he appears to be here).
I’m also reading Murder Underground, by Mavis Doriel Hay. I can’t remember how I felt about Death on the Cherwell, but Murder Underground is doing okay — even if Basil is a silly ass who would do a lot better by not lying to the detectives!
What have you recently finished reading?
I finished up Meteorite: The Stones From Outer Space That Made Our World, by Tim Gregory. I love non-fiction books of all kinds where you can really feel that the writer loves their subject, and this is one of those. Cosmochemistry isn’t my thing at all, but Gregory’s so excited about it, it made me excited to read.
What will you be reading next?
As usual, I’ve no idea. My wife’s thinking of reading Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston, so maybe I’ll buddy read that with her? Or I’ll get back to something on the Shelf of Abandoned Books… ahem.
Sorry I missed last week, folks! It was a heckuva week, for sure. Anyway, this week is a bit like a scavenger hunt for me, because I’m not sure I can actually think of books I like with colours in their titles… so I’m going to survey my shelves for whatever I can find.
Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston. I haven’t read this one, and I really really want to.
The Silver Branch, by Rosemary Sutcliff. This I have read, of course, though I wish I could find the editions I had as a kid. I read ’em to pieces, though The Eagle of the Ninth was my favourite.
The Boy in the Red Dress, by Kristin Lambert. A recent acquisition, so one I haven’t read yet. It looks so fun, though!
Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James. I haven’t read it yet, and I’m not entirely sure it’s going to be my thing based on reviews… but I’m eager to give it a go.
Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse. Okay, this is actually on my wishlist and not on my shelves because it’s not out yet.
All Systems Red, by Martha Wells. Oh, Murderbot. <3
Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord. I’ve been meaning to reread this, I remember loving it but not much about it.
The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark. Loved this novella so much!
The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle. I was less of a fan of this Lovecraft retelling, but it kinda sticks in my head!
A Pale Light in the Black, by K.B. Wagers. Another one that’s on my TBR but which I haven’t read yet…
As you can see, I have a TBR problem, insofar as that can be considered a problem!
How’d everyone else do with the scavenger hunt? Or could you think of enough books with colours in the title that you could pick out your favourites? I’m looking forward to seeing all the obvious ones I’ve missed…
Tuesday again already! And this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “books that make me smile”. Which is… honestly, most books. Just being around books makes me smile — even books I personally wouldn’t enjoy, it can be really exciting to look at someone else’s books, or browse through a shelf… But there are some specific books that put a smile on my face for various reasons, so let’s do this!
The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer. Most Heyer novels have me giggling throughout, but this was one of the first I read, and the reread was just as good. The Reluctant Widow, too. She has some annoying heroes and some repetitive plots/themes… but in general, I’m always going to smile at a Heyer novel.
Band Sinister, by K.J. Charles. Most K.J. Charles books would fit the bill actually… but Band Sinister is one of the rare ones that doesn’t also have a massive bodycount, so it’s the one that fits most readily on a list about smiling! Though A Fashionable Indulgence is also worth mentioning. And A Gentleman’s Position. Ugh, no, they all make me smile.
Have His Carcase, by Dorothy L. Sayers. From the opening paragraph onwards, there’s so much cleverness and wit. And it features two of my favourite characters in fiction, Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. How could I not smile? Also, memories of the radioplays and BBC TV adaptations, and so many good conversations with my mum and my wife…
The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. Alright, not all of it is happy or comfortable reading, but Maia is a delight and so are many of the characters who surround him. I’m trying not to reread it too often, but honestly, when I’m stressed it’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Small Robots, by Thomas Heasman-Hunt. There’s a Small Robot for almost every occasion, and they’re so often so cute… or so apt for the moment. Check out their Twitter!
The Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. The series has been so much fun, and the accompanying art (including on the cover) is so good. Isabella and her deranged practicality really stick with me.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin. I can’t help remembering being sucked in and just ZOOMING through it, whenever I see this book! And so many great conversations about it, and just… yeah.
Catching Breath, by Kathryn Lougheed. One of the many books about disease (like The Emperor of All Maladies, or Spillover) that a) helped me get over irrational fear through fostering curiosity instead, and b) really set me on my current path when it comes to studying. Of course I smile when I think about this one! There’s so much out there to learn, and I never have to stop. Plus, I wrote my dissertation on TB basically because of this book. I know a lot of people hate their dissertations by the end, but I did not; I’d gladly research and write several more chapters!
This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story, by Kacen Callender. I haven’t actually read this yet, but it looks like fun and I’m really excited to finally get through my TBR pile to it. (Not that I am reading a set number of books before I pick it up, just that my brain is like a very crowded train station, and This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story has not — yet — managed to get on the attention-trains zooming through.)
Red, White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston. Ditto the above! It looks and sounds so cute, aaahh.
I’ll be interested to see what books make other folks smile — and hopefully why! Leave me your links if you’ve done this TTT as well!