…This isn’t quite the landslide I am thinking about. The one I have in mind looks more like this:
No death or destruction, just a whole lot of material to wade through. I am so impossibly behind that it makes no sense doing individual posts for every book. Instead, each one will be addressed, rapid-fire. It’ll be like a cheese tasting of book reviews.
Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
Title of Blog Post: Halfway Down a Shark
This book has it all: clueless idiots in positions of power, a critical zombie, sentient shopping carts, and Death in exile. It’s a great romp, and has the Pratchett magic: a mad jumble of semi-associated characters and events coalesce into a ball of not-quite-logic. One of the best parts is a footnote on page 51, on ‘anti-crimes,’ an action that isn’t welcome but isn’t awful, either, such as breaking-and-decorating and whitemailing (in which you threaten to disclose the benign actions of a shady character, so that he loses street cred).
Best quote of the book: “This usually led to a fierce ecclesiastical debate which resulted in Mrs. Cake giving the chief priest what she called ‘a piece of her mind.’ There were so many pieces of Mrs. Cake’s mind left around the city now that it was quite surprising that there was enough left to power Mrs. Cake, but, strangely enough, the more pieces of her mind she gave away the more there seemed to be left.” (102)
Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress, Elizabeth Boyle
Title of Blog Post: Minor Historical Inaccuracies
On page twenty, Boyle assumes that Regency dresses did not require corsets. (For those of you who do not read romance novels, the Regency period was in the early 1800s when the Prince of Wales was the de facto ruler of England.) Regency dresses have long flowing skirts beneath empire waistlines (that’s beneath the bust): this creates a willowy shape. Corsets were used to jack up women’s breasts so that a) they would have extraordinary cleavage and b) their legs and torsos would appear longer. Contrary to popular opinion, Regency women did lace themselves up and deform their insides in the name of fashion.
Aside from this admittedly minor detail, the book is run-of-the-mill: the heroine is gorgeous at 43 (and still fits into clothing she wore over twenty years ago); he’s an alcoholic with back scars who has spent the past couple of decades pining for her. He sobers up, she tells him that the kids he thought were someone else’s are actually his (gasp-gasp! twins!), and she decides to take off on the open sea with him, forgetting that she doesn’t have birth control and that being pregnant on the ocean can be a mite uncomfortable.
Best part of the book: finishing it and realizing that they advertise the book you just read in the back pages. D’OH!
Be Mine, Jennifer Crusie/Victoria Dahl/Shannon Stacey
Title of Blog Post: Only Partly Mexican
This one is a collection of three stories. The first is a classic Corporate Takeover (#15) in which the guy doesn’t listen and she has to browbeat him to bring him round. The second has a hero that is half-Mexican, a detail you can miss if you are speedreading. In the third, the hero knows not to press her sexually while she is vulnerable so that consent is super clear; I blacked out for a minute in pure, unadulterated shock.
Best quote of the book: “Chris had the concentration of a fruit fly and the morals of a mink.” (50)
Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia, Dave Wolverton
Title of Blog Post: Five Times Fast
Star Wars has one romance story in it, and someone called Dave decided to memorialize it in print. I really don’t need to say much more than that, but I will anyway. While the story isn’t particularly fluently written, it does include a whopping eight of my romance-novel tropes: 1, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 20, and 22. (Not bad!) Han does an excellent job of being a leading man (insensitive, fully functional even when sloshed, etc.) and Leia does what Leia does: hold the whole damn thing together. (Men, sigh.) I loved the moments Luke took to say Jedi stuff and all the zany names: Zsinj (a bad guy), Gethzerion (a bad chick), and Thpffftht (the name of a good-guy ship).
Best quote of the book: “’Stormtroopers are easy to kill.’” (192)
The Secrets of Richard Kenworthy, Julia Quinn
Title of Blog Post: Someone Call Maury
I read this one on my kindle, so I have fewer explicit notes. The plot boils down to: Hero must find Heroine and marry her as quickly as possible, so that she will raise the love-child of his younger sister and nobody falls in disgrace. Heroine is kept in the dark for a long time, and when she figures out what’s going on that she restrains the urge to rip out Hero’s jugular and hold his still-beating heart in her hands – and then she figures out what’s really been going on. The younger sister marries a nice guy and somehow the central romance of the book works out. This is one of Quinn’s less likely books, to say the least.
Best idea of the book: if you love someone, the sex will automatically good. (Some of my smoothie almost blew out my nose on this one.)
Getting Rid of Bradley, Jennifer Crusie
Title of Blog Post: Three Dogs, Two People, One Bed
The scene opens on a woman with unfortunate hair and three dogs. Someone takes potshots at her and attempts to break into her house. A police officer moves in with her for her protection. Pretty soon, the intensity of their situation fuels their love story, and before you know it, they’ve skipped about three to five months of intimacy and they love one another. Both bad Bradleys are caught and the officer gets her yet another dog. I actually like him; many heroes have a mental capacity that is best characterized by a sledgehammer falling down a deep well. This guy has enough self-knowledge to know why he is avoiding love – and then tells the green-haired heroine about it. Granted, he yells and then stomps off, but the air is cleared.
Best word in the book: Nadir. It is both an astronomical term and one used to talk about the lowest ebb. Example: “Having prolonged dental surgery was the nadir of my Tuesday.”
Yes Please, Amy Pohler
Title of Blog Post: No Really, I’m a Terrible Person
Amy Pohler is the fairy godmother of comedy. She’s wicked, she’s wicked funny – and it’s generally accepted that she is lovely. Amy Pohler wrote her book to convince us otherwise. She finished college and went into comedy, assuring her parents she could waitress anywhere! (After they’d remortgaged their house, twice.) She has a nearly compunctual need to snoop in other people’s houses, rifling through the drawers. She once participated in a mean SNL skit that demeaned disabled people. She also has straightforward, harsh opinions on most drugs, driving while drunk, and her own appearance after a bad weekend. Certainly, I believe that she’s not Leslie Knope all the time, but the picture she paints of herself is honest – not mean. We are all dredging up awful parts of ourselves all of the time, biases we didn’t know we had. However, most of us are not packaging these nasty things with “World Famous Sex Advice” or lists on why phones are terrible for our lives. That’s the unhinged but brilliant Pohler edge.
Best quote of the book: “Who doesn’t love self-righteous anger? It’s great. When I yell at dads drinking coffee and looking at their phones at the playground while their seven-year-olds play on the preschool monkey bars, I feel like I am truly alive.” (66)