Genre: Romance

August 2015 Mini-Reviews

Posted August 21, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction / 4 Comments

August 2015 Mini-ReviewsTitle: Black Girl / White Girl (Goodreads)
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Published: Fourth Estate, 2006
Pages: 272
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Black Girl / White Girl tells the story of Genna Hewett-Mead who is reflecting on a traumatic event in her past. Fifteen years ago, in 1975 while attending an exclusive women’s liberal arts college near Philadelphia, her roommate Minette Swift died a mysterious and violent death. Minette was a scholarship student and one of the few African American women to be let into the college. Genna, a quiet woman of privilege got to witness the effects of racism first hand as the racist harassment escalated from vicious slurs to something far worse. However whoever was responsible for this murder still remains a mystery to this day. I had never read Joyce Carol Oates before and I thought this may be my chance to experience her writing. The premise of this novel intrigued me and I was looking forward to uncovering the mystery at play. However, this turned out to be a novel about reflecting on the changing times; I was interested in learning about racism within America during the time of civil rights movements but this focused too much on Genna.

I understand that Joyce Carol Oates may not want to write a novel from the perspective of a person of colour, since she is Caucasian and probably could not do the situation any justice. Rather she took on the perspective of a woman of privilege experiencing the issue first hand. This may have made the book a little more autobiographical and allowed Oates to still explore the issue of racism. While I enjoyed this book, I did not find anything special about it. Maybe this was not the best example of Joyce Carol Oates’ writing but I will try more of her novels in the future.

August 2015 Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Testimony (Goodreads)
Author: James Smythe
Published: Harper Collins, 2012
Pages: 368
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

First there was static and the whole world freaked out. Then came a voice that said “My Children, Do not be afraid”. People said it was God, others said it was the government and still others believed it was aliens. The whole world was brought to a halt but no one had the answers. The Testimony details the apocalypse from the perspective of twenty six people around the world. James Smythe is a master at writing science fiction that will really make you ponder life and The Testimony is no different.

I was curious to check out James Smythe’s debut novel ever since I discovered his novels. The Machine was my first Smythe and still remains my favourite although many do prefer The Explorer. For me, while The Testimony was a thrilling read, it just was not on the same level as the other books I have read. Dealing with so many different perspectives was a great way to capture the different opinions and question the events. However this novel was not overly impressive, still a great book but if I compare if to James Smythe’s other novels, it falls short. This is proof on just how far Smythe has improved and makes me excited to read something new by this great author.

August 2015 Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Firebird (Goodreads)
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Published: Sourcebooks Landmark, 2013
Pages: 539
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Nicola has a rare gift, she can touch an item and glimpse the lives of its previous owners. When she holds a small wood carving called The Firebird she sees a glimpse of Catherine I, wife and later successor to the Tsar Peter the Great. The Firebird is a fresh take on the time traveling romance genre, blending it with the ever popular paranormal romance genre. This is the second book in the Slains series by Canadian author Suzanna Kearsley.

My wife is a big fan of Kearsley and since this novel is partly set in Russian she thought I should check it out. There is some interesting aspects of the life and times of Peter the Great and allowed me to learn a little more about Russian history and culture. However there is something about this novel that I did not like. The Firebird is a story with no conflict and no antagonist and for me this meant it was a really boring novel. I understand people would read this book for the romance but I was uninterested in that story line, I was reading this for the Russian setting. Obviously I am the wrong person to judge The Firebird, it really was not my type of book.

A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

Posted February 8, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Romance / 10 Comments

A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLeanTitle: A Rogue by Any Other Name (Goodreads)
Author: Sarah MacLean
Series: The Rules of Scoundrels #1
Published: Avon, 2012
Pages: 386
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

After a broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships, Lady Penelope Marbury has all but given up on finding love. That was until she married the Marquess of Bourne, a prince of London’s underworld, a man cast from society into nothingness who is out for revenge. This wasn’t a marriage of love but convenience, Bourne married for the dowry and Penelope to avoid scandal and to ensure her sisters wouldn’t suffer the same fate.

You can guess how the story goes. He wants to keep Penelope away from his world and his underground gambolling house. She is bored, he is a prick. She wants adventure, hot sex and happily ever after. That is how regency romances work, right? Well, it does in this case with Sarah MacLean’s A Rogue by Any Other Name. I feel like I need to go back to my review of Outlander and pretty much cover the same issues again. The whole fantasy verse reality issue; my wife loves Outlander but I know her well enough to know she doesn’t really want someone like Jamie. In reality, if you were in a relationship with Jamie (from Outlander) or Michael Lawler (the Marquess of Bourne) you would be in an abusive one.

People are probably wondering why I decided to read A Rogue by Any Other Name; it wasn’t because it won the RITA Award for Best Historical Romance in 2013 because I don’t care about awards. There are a few reasons. Obviously I needed a romance novel for the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge. I know I could have gone with a literary romance novel but I was curious about Sarah MacLean mainly because she often talks about the intersection of feminism and the romance genre but also because the sex scenes are hot. Why not find out for myself?

Interestingly enough there was a very feminist vibe in this novel along with the whole cliché romance story arc. Penelope is portrayed as a very strong willed woman, willing to stand up to Michael’s stupid behaviour. She was in a situation where she had to think about her family and to avoid the scandals she made the choice to marry. The novel has a lot of other examples of feminism but what I liked about this book was the fact that most of the women were feisty and strong minded; they didn’t let the men control them. At times the men may think they are in control but they had no idea what they had gotten themselves into.

When it came to the sex scenes, yes they were hot and steamy but the fact that MacLean avoided most of those flowery euphemisms was what stood out to me. There were some cringe worthy phrases but as a whole the words seemed fitting. I know sex scenes are an important factor in deciding on which romance novels to read so I will say they were erotic, but there weren’t enough of them. Most of the time Penelope was the lonely wife and Michael didn’t want to corrupt her innocence, even if she was begging to be corrupted. However this is book one in The Rules of Scoundrels series so I’m assuming sex will be a more common thread in the next two books.

I’m not sure what the appeal is with romance novels but I will continue to try them. Personally I’m not that interested in reading more from The Rules of Scoundrels  series but maybe I’ll try book one of her other series, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (just because I like the name). Sarah MacLean’s written style is pretty good, the plots are pretty basic but she makes up for that with strong women and steamy sex. There is a black strip along the right hand side of the book cover; does anyone know what that means? If you are a fan of romance then I’m sure Sarah MacLean is someone you should be reading; it is better than the Outlander series.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Posted October 28, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Romance, Young Adult / 2 Comments

New Moon by Stephenie MeyerTitle: New Moon (Goodreads)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Series: Twilight #2
Published: Little Brown and Company, 2006
Pages: 565
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The most important thing in Bella Swan’s life is Edward Cullen (eye roll). So much so that college is plan B, but now he is gone, in an effort to keep her safe. But she is not safe, there are vampires out for revenge and since the Cullen’s are no longer around, Bella is their target. In comes Jacob Black; young, handsome and willing to protect Bella.

If you have read my review on Twilight, you must be wondering why I decided to read New Moon. Torture, joining the social commentary or most likely peer pressure. If you follow me on twitter or have read my post on reading Twilight then you know the fun I had with live tweeting the entire book in all its weirdness. This is what happened again with New Moon (see below for a full read of those tweets) and I think this was the only reason why I decided to continue, because truth be told, I hated the books but really enjoyed making sarcastic remarks about them.

Let’s have a quick look at the book. I’m not going to go into deep analysis of New Moon; I would have to read the book closer for that and really I only skimmed it to race through it. This is not to say I didn’t read the book, I am well aware of the plot and the key themes but this book had so much padding that skimming was the only real way to get through it. There was a paragraph dedicated to the voice of Edward Cullen and almost a full chapter where Bella and Alice flew to Europe (nothing else happened on the flight).

Bella is as always so co-dependent that it makes me sick; when Edward left she latched on to Jacob. She tells herself that she is not capable of falling in love again, like a whiny heartbroken teenager that thinks this is the end of her life and yet she is happy to lead Jacob on. There even was a time when it felt like she was going to be co-dependent on Alice; this would have made it more interesting.

Jacob started off as a whiny little lovesick puppy following Bella around everywhere. Then when it was revealed he was a werewolf he turned into a real asshole, too cool to hang out with a girl because he was in a gang. He went from one extreme to another and I just hated Jacob, there was a joke made by one of my Twitter followers of this being character development and it is sad to say this is the extent of development in the entire novel.

Apart from the constant angsty whining (and I normally love angst) this novel never really went anywhere, it was just 500 pages of treading water. The major problems I had with New Moon are (and I’m picking my top couple out of a long list), firstly the lack of consistency. Twilight and New Moon seem to contradict each other in so many ways; in book one Bella got sick at the smell of blood but in New Moon she was bleeding all over the place frequently and never seems to get sick. Then there was the fact that Stephenie Meyer, instead of doing a little research,  ignored any mythology and just made up her own. This really annoyed me, some slight changes in the vampire/werewolf mythology is acceptable if you are going to use it but to make a vampire sparkle so you can spend pages on how much Edward is like diamonds is ridiculous.

I hate to say this but I will probably read Eclipse and Breaking Dawn just to live tweet them, I don’t expect to like the books but I can’t help reading them. Obviously I pay them out but I do try to analyse them to see if there is anything interesting there; wishful thinking. I will need long breaks in between the novels but you can look forward to reading my thoughts in the very distant future. I doubt I will ever like this series but at least I have evidence to back up my claims.

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Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Posted August 9, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Romance / 0 Comments

Twilight by Stephenie MeyerTitle: Twilight (Goodreads)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Series: Twilight #1
Published: Little Brown and Company, 2005
Pages: 434
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I don’t think I need to tell people what this book is about; rather I need to explain my actions,which I have done in a blog post called Reading Twilight, where you can read what made me pick this book up and just how crazy I was. Also you can read my live tweeting of the book which was the only way I was able to get through the story without rage quitting.

Twilight is an escapist book, plain and simple; I don’t fit in the demographic of this book so I’m reading it and looking at how this would translate in real life and not the fantasy.  I want to take the time and look at the book as well as the difference between reality and the fantasy. I might be a little harsh  and I’m not trying to make anyone that enjoys this book and the fantasy feel bad; this is just how I see the book.

First of all let’s look at Isabella Swan; the everywoman of the book but this is assuming that women are post-feminist, co-dependent, quick to fall in love women that are full of angst or have a morbid obsession with death. I’ve been told that women do fantasise about the post-feminist lifestyle but in reality most of them don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen. The little descriptions we do have about Bella has been made out to be a needy woman with no notion of independence and what she really wants; I hated her from the start. Apparently the lack of descriptions about Belle is so that female readers can put themselves in her shoes and live out this fantasy but really do people even like Bella, let alone be in her shoes?

Then you have the love interest, Edward Cullen who I tend to associate with Mr Rochester (whose name is also Edward) since I know there is this link to the Brontë sisters that tries to be made but really comparing the two feels futile, the only links I see have to do with sexuality and proto/post-feminism. I get the sense that Edward Cullen is supposed to be this Byronic hero but all I see is the type of man  woman need to run away from; a jealous, controlling asshole that stalks his girlfriend. Now the Byronic hero is as Lord Macaulay describes it “a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection.” While there are similarities between Edward Cullen and the Byronic hero (to me anyway) he doesn’t really fit the mould.

Someone told me that the blood in Twilight is a metaphor of adolescent sexuality which is interesting and explains why Stephenie Meyer went to all that effort in explaining why Belle got nauseous at the sight and smell of blood. This brings up another fantasy; the older more experienced man. While I don’t really want to compare this book to other novels (I’m sorry Brontë’s and the whole Romantic era) but this is almost like a polar opposite to Tampa. One explores the fantasy of a younger partner; getting them before they have been tainted by the world which is problematic because that person ends up being the one to corrupt and break that young man. Twilight looks at the older partner; but not in the same in-depth way. this plays out the fantasy and it’s up to the reader to look for the problems with a naive woman dating an older man (hint reverse the roles in Tampa or read Lolita). I’m not saying it doesn’t work, because it does work; I’m just looking at Twilight critically and wanted to look at fantasy verses reality.

I’m sure there are positive themes within this novel that you can explore like, sacrifices you make for the one you love, true love conquers all and even overcoming the bad within you to be a better person or vampire. I think those themes are in the book but for me they feel problematic, firstly Edward continues to tell Bella that she should run away but they never do and I got frustrated with them repeating the same conversation over and over and never making the sacrifice for the good of the other. Then I don’t believe this is a good example of true love, they hardly knew each other and they were madly in love, they never sacrifice for the good of the other and they are co-dependant, jealous, stalkers; to me this is not true love, this is a teenage relationship or something creepy. Finally overcoming the bad within to be a better person, the only example of that is the vampires eat animals rather than humans.

I’m going to overlook the obvious problem with the vampire mythology because it’s been done to death but I want to leave you with one thought (which you can answer in the comments if you like). Stephenie Meyer obviously has an interest in the romantic era and the Brontë sisters but is Twilight reflecting the ideas made by the romantic poets or has it missed the point completely? As you can see I didn’t like this book at all and I read it too fast to try and pull any more critical thoughts from the novel, but I think I have enough ammunition against Twilight. I hope I didn’t offend the people that enjoy this book, it’s escapism and I’m reading it critically so that might be my problem.

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Posted June 11, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Romance / 0 Comments

The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionTitle: The Rosie Project (Goodreads)
Author: Graeme Simsion
Published: Text, 2013
Pages: 329
Genres: Romance
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Don Tillman is a highly successful Professor of Genetics, but he is also a very socially awkward single man that believes the solution to all his problems is a wife.  He embarks upon a search to find this wife; The Wife Project is a carefully designed questionnaire to find the perfect match for him. In comes Rosie, not a match, but Don finds himself helping her on search for her biological father.

Chick lit always seems to have a quirky woman looking for love, because apparently the message is that strong independent women are incomplete until they have a partner. That is probably a rant for another day but I have to wonder why Nick Hornsby and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project does not fit into this genre? All the same characteristics are there, the only thing different is the role reversal. My wife jokingly calls the genre dick lit but I don’t know why there is a gender bias in a genre. I thought Seating Arrangements would be considered chick lit but because it had a male protagonist people dismiss it as something different. Not really important but I thought it odd that just because the main character is the wrong gender it doesn’t fall under the same category, which is one of the many problems with trying to categorise books into genres.

Now let’s get back to The Rosie Project; this was an entertaining and quick read that just has too many problems with it. This over hyped book’s major flaw is the portrayal of Asperger’s; much like Addition, a mental health issue (or in this case a pervasive developmental disorder) is the quirky personality. Because underplaying a mental health issue is the answer to making a character quirky; why can’t people just be quirky without having to point fingers? Misrepresenting mental health seems to be the go to move for writers of books, TV and movies and it really isn’t helping people understand these issues. Also while I’m on the topic, why does socially awkward, introverted or quirky have to be considered as problems, why can’t we just be happy for people to be different without having to stick a label on it?

The other major issue I had with The Rosie Project was its predictability; you knew exactly what was going to happen from chapter to chapter and how the book would end. There were no surprises, nothing interesting, just a generic plot. So we have an unpredictable, generic and stereotypical plot; does that leave you with any good points? Not really, just that it was entertaining and there was some decent comedy but in the end I was glad to be done with the book. Remember that old Jack Nicholson movie As Good As It Gets? I have to wonder if this is just a modernisation of that movie, there were so many similarities. I also found a lot of similarities to Addition so I’m not sure if there is anything original left in this book.

For those that don’t mind something so formulaic and predictable, this book is entertaining and you don’t really need to pay attention. I ended up skim reading most of this book and I still felt like I didn’t miss anything, because I guessed what would happen before I read it. I know this book has gotten a lot of buzz lately and I’m still that bitter and cynical old man but I really don’t get it; I don’t see what was so appealing.

Good on Graeme Simsion for taking the world by storm with this novel, the buzz in Australia has started to die down but now the hype is starting around the world. I see it was one of the books been heavily advertised at BEA from Australia (the other being Burial Rites). For that I’m glad it’s doing well, it is nice to see Australian books getting talked about all around the world. Much like The Book Thief, I don’t see why there is so much buzz but I’m still happy when an Australian author reaches the international stage. I’m sure there will be a romantic comedy coming from Hollywood soon, so maybe that is a good reason to read The Rosie Project.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Posted March 20, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Romance / 0 Comments

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew QuickTitle: The Silver Linings Playbook (Goodreads)
Author: Matthew Quick
Published: Picador, 2008
Pages: 289
Genres: Romance
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Pat Peoples is a former history teacher who moves back home after spending some time in a neurology hospital. He has a theory that every life is like a movie and he is just waiting for his silver lining ending, the successful reunion with his wife Nikki. Pat spends his time on self improvement, determined this will help end ‘apart time’, he exercises excessively and reads great American literature. He meets Tiffany and soon becomes friends because of their similarities; physically fit and clinically depressed.

While this started off reminding me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I soon got really bored with this book. Not only was the novel predictable, it was clichéd and failed to hold my interest at all. The narrative felt really dumbed down, like it was trying more to be a YA novel; actually this might be a good example of New Adult fiction. But this really annoyed me, just because someone is clinically depressed, an exercise junky, football fan or any of the other reasons doesn’t mean they are not intelligent. So the narrative felt more like the author making fun of the protagonist and I really had a problem with that.

There are so many great American novels and when Pat sets out to read the entire syllabus of his wife’s class to improve himself you can’t help but be proud of him. The Bell Jar, The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises are all great books but they don’t really fit into Pat’s philosophy on life. I love the way he reacts to The Sun Also Rises in the movie trailer, it was done so much better than in the book, that rage for the ending was brilliant. I know Pat wants a silver lining in every story, so I found it really amusing to think he would read those books that don’t fit his personal philosophy.

Personally I did want to explore more of the depression side of this novel because I felt there were some very interesting elements explored but instead the author was more interested in a clichéd romance. There were two love stories going on here, the generic one between Pat and Tiffany, and then there was the love of Philadelphia Eagles. Personally the Eagles story arc was more interesting because the Pat and Tiffany relationship was painful to read.

I’m not a fan of clichés and reading about Pat and Tiffany become a real problem with me; I knew what was going to happen, I can see it coming from the start but it wasn’t executed properly. Almost like the author was running out of pages and he had to quickly resolve and conflict and have a happy ending before the end of the book. The conflict resolution was done too quickly; you can’t really go from hating a person to changing your mind and kissing a person that quick, it just doesn’t work.

There are small elements of this book that I enjoyed but the overall novel wasn’t worth it. I will say one thing about this book; it will make a great movie. I’ve not seen the adaptation yet but I have a feeling it would work really well in that format, as people just love a happy ending and these types of romance movies. Personally I think the book isn’t work reading and maybe the movie is a quicker way to experience this story.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Posted March 18, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Romance / 0 Comments

Outlander by Diana GabaldonTitle: Outlander (Goodreads)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1
Published: Dell, 1991
Pages: 870
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Claire Randall found herself time travelling from 1945 to 1743. She was just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon but then she walks through an ancient stone circle and finds herself in the midst of a war torn Scotland being raided by the Highland clans. She finds a young Scot warrior and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire.

Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t read this book along with the Vaginal Fantasy book club; I did it because this is my wife’s favourite series and I needed a romance novel for the Literary Exploration challenge. I’m not really a fan of romances (Wuthering Heights is still the greatest Romance of all time) so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into here but be warned, even though I want to talk about all the things that didn’t work for me, it doesn’t mean this wasn’t an enjoyable read.

First of all I want to talk about Claire Randall; here is this strong former combat nurse that finds herself in the past. While she is scared and confused I never felt that her desperation was believable; I felt like the inner turmoil of Claire never really played out and I was left to believe she wanted to be there. Also she is suppose to be portrayed as a strong independent woman but all I saw was a loud mouth nag that put up no fight and just married Jamie with no reluctance at all.

Jamie Fraser suffers from instalove; as soon as he saw Claire he was madly in love with her. Then when they finally got married, the virgin becomes the greatest lover known to man; how is that possible? Also Jamie is supposed to be this great Scottish warrior but all I ever see him do is get into trouble and winding up caught or with severe wounds. Not to mention the abuse towards Claire; sure it was a sign on the time to discipline his wife but this isn’t sexy and is just over done.

Finally the plot; I tend to think this book goes in a repetitive circle, which consists of sex, more sex, conflict, sex, being caught, wife beating and then more sex. This is the entire plot arc and it keeps repeating itself for over 800 pages. Makes me wonder what makes a romance novel, I never felt there was an ounce of romance or love; just lots of sex.

I know this is a series of a great love between Jamie and Claire and there was a flicker of this from Jamie but never felt that come through from Claire. I wonder if sex is a substitute for love here or does this reflect more in the books that follow. Apart from everything I didn’t like about the book, the characters and the writing was pretty good. I wanted more inner conflict from Claire as0 the narrator but that is just a personal preference. I’m always interested in the inner thoughts of a protagonist, especially when they find themselves in an unusual situation.

I’m not sure if I will continue the Outlander series but I would like to think that the romance starts in the next book. I’m curious to know if this is the case; I’m a little hesitant to invest in another 800 pages if it’s just more of the same. Romance novels are not really my thing, but I did like the slight speculative fiction element with the time travel. I hope that aspect of the plot gets explored in greater detail with the other books. Now I’m curious to read The Time Travellers Wife and see how it compares.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Posted November 22, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Romance, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Soulless by Gail CarrigerTitle: Soulless (Goodreads)
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate #1
Published: Orbit, 2009
Pages: 365
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Alexia Tarabotti may only be a spinster with no soul but when a she is so rudely attacked by a pack of vampires she discovers just how useful being soulless is. With the ability to negate supernatural powers, she is asked by Lord Maccon, who has been sent by Queen Victoria to investigate what is actually happening with London’s high society. Soulless is a book on social etiquette with a mixture of steampunk, werewolves, vampires, and tea-drinking.

Admittedly, this is not something I would normally read but the mixture of steampunk and Victorian high society did seem to appeal to me. However I was reluctant to try something that sounded very much like paranormal romance. Being a literary explorer, sometimes you just have to suck it up and read something way out of your comfort zone. I know I haven’t read many chick lit/romance novels so I thought maybe it was time to give Soulless ago.

One thing I did enjoy about this book was the Victorian elements; Gail Carriger is an archaeologist and it feels like she has taken all the elements from Victorian literature and society, mixed it with her love of science fiction and formed what she likes to call Urbane Fantasy. The Victorian and steampunk elements really help drive this book for me; although I’m sure Jane Austin would be shocked to read this book.

Then you have the werewolves, vampires and the soulless which I really did hate, I would have much rather read a book like this without paranormal elements and maybe replacing it with a mystery element. That way everything plot wise could still work barring some minor changes. But I have to accept paranormal novels are big sellers and they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It just doesn’t work for me; I don’t think I can continue the series.

Overall this book felt too predictable with the romance and the rest was just too cutesy. I like that this novel had a strong heroine like Alexia but there was too much of a struggle between what I liked and hated to really enjoy this book in any form. I know there is a lot of love for this series out there and I’m sorry to say I wasn’t able to love this book. I was glad it was a quick read. There is a lot of wit and humour in this novel but it wasn’t enough. I’m not going to continue this series but I might give one of Gail Carriger’s Etiquette and Espionage a go, even if it is set in the same universe, it does look interesting.

Love in the Years of Lunacy by Mandy Sayer

Posted June 22, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Romance / 0 Comments

Love in the Years of Lunacy by Mandy SayerTitle: Love in the Years of Lunacy (Goodreads)
Author: Mandy Sayer
Published: Atria Books, 2011
Pages: 320
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I admit historical romance is not something you’d expect me to read but I’m all for literary exploration, so I thought I would give this Australian novel a go. Love in the Years of Lunacy is a typical story of forbidden love, set in war time Sydney. Eighteen year old Pearl is an alto sax player in an all girl jazz band that one day meets African American and jazz legend James Washington and quickly fall in love. While Australia didn’t have any laws to prevent them from falling in love or marrying, like America did, their love was taboo. While there is a lot more that I could probably say to summarise this book, you get the picture and probably can predict what happens. What I want to do is vent all my frustrations about this book (potential spoilers from here on out).

1. Historically Inaccurate
I’d probably enjoy this book a lot more if it wasn’t for the huge inaccuracy that happens in the book. The scene happens while the two love birds are at Luna Park, air raids sound and Sydney is under attack; but wait, there were no bombing in Sydney during World War 2, there was the submarine attack but this book made it sound like Sydney was getting bombed. Why? Most likely wanting to use this as an excuse for the two characters to have sex.

2. Misdiagnosis
So when the two are inevitably separated, Pearl tries to commit suicide; she says she doesn’t want live in a world without him. The Master of Lunacy (this title is government appointed to act as the authority in civil commitment proceedings) diagnoses her of having a fear of dying but when he talked to her and asked her, she told him that she was afraid of dying.

3. Faking it
You know the typical ‘fake that you’ve gotten better’ to stop having to be constantly under supervision? Pearl does this to stop herself from being bored but she did it so well that I think even the writer forgot about her depression after that paragraph ended.

4.  The Marriage Proposal
Pearl fakes her recovery so well, she ends up dating the Master of Lunacy; what? Does this not seem like an issue, an irresponsible doctor/patient relationship? Let alone the fact that Pearl was faking being over her depression and over James, so much so she falls in love with the doctor.

5. Cross Dressing Soldier
I get that a woman can fake being a man but faking being a solder in a war zone seems like a huge stretch. Especially when the writer likes to remind the reader just how beautiful Pearl is through the book. But tuck your hair under a hat and bandage her breasts up to make herself look flatter; that would work. How about when she got her period and the blood stained her pants? No one noticed that?

There is so much more I can think of that didn’t sit write with me in this book. I think there was a point I only found out Pearl was a blonde when she showed off her pubic hair to prove she wasn’t a male soldier. I did like the way this book was told in a way that a fictional Indigenous crime writer was listening to the tape recordings of his mother (who he thought was his aunt and also thought he was indigenous at the same time). But apart from that, I have too much I disliked about the book to really enjoy the story. I’ve had my rage about this book now; I can finally get it out of my mind.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Posted February 18, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Romance / 0 Comments

Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontëTitle: Wuthering Heights (Goodreads)
Author: Emily Brontë
Published: Penguin, 1847
Pages: 260
Genres: Classic, Gothic, Romance
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: Amazon (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Wuthering Heights must be one of the first novels where the protagonists can be considered antagonists or anti-heroes. It’s a story of love turning into bitter hatred. The orphan Heathcliff and Catherine were in love but when Catherine’s parents both die, Heathcliff runs away from Wuthering Heights. A few years later Catherine married Edgar and Heathcliff comes back (later that same year). In attempt to hide his broken heart Heathcliff marries Isabella but the pain continues to consume him turning him into a violent and emotional abusive man. The story follows the bitterness towards both families. The wounds were deep and their children Catherine and Linton were faced with the difficult task of mending the families division.

Emily Brontë really knows how to paint a picture with her writing. Wuthering Heights, though very dark is full of passion, love, hate and all emotions in between. The book keeps hinting at a silver lining but often holds it back making you want it more. Emily didn’t hold back when writing this book, she really puts a spot light on emotional abuse and hatred, even used the word ‘slut’ a few times in the book. The depiction of mental and physical cruelty in this book will make it difficult to read for some; you’ll either love or hate this book. While not all full of darkness, there’s a beauty in the story sometimes missed in books nowadays.