Princess, by Carolyn Lane.

I reviewed the sequel, Princess and Minerva, earlier. In this one, pampered housecat Princess is lost while her owners are on vacation, and spends a winter struggling to survive with the help of stray cat Minerva. I liked the unsentimental depiction of hunting and survival, and the poignance of Princess’s plight and, eventually, reunion with her owner. The ending is surprisingly melancholy. (Melancholy, not depressing; no cats die in this book, though many prey animals are devoured.)

Princess

To Have and To Hold, by Patricia Gaffney.

Well-written and well-characterized romance in which the hero is a total dick. And a rapist. And a dick. I think Gaffney was trying to take a standard romance trope—the rape/slave fantasy in which you have to sexually submit to the hero because he has some kind of hold over you— and apply psychological realism to it. I respect her ambition, but the result is a romance in which the hero is a dick.

To Have and To Hold (Victorian Trilogy)

The Sea of Trolls, by Nancy Farmer.

In this YA fantasy, Saxon boy Jack and his little sister Lucy are kidnapped by Vikings and, after a journey described in rather more realistically horrific detail than I expected, are sent on a quest to the land of the Jotuns (trolls.) I enjoyed this, especially once the grim “enslaved on a ship” first half was over. The second half is colorful and fun, and has a few nice surprises. I then read the two sequels, which were less coherent and less fun, but the first book comes to a reasonable conclusion and so you could reasonably stop there. My favorite character was Thorgil, a filthy, bad-tempered girl who wants to become a berserker and die gloriously. In the sequels she is less ferocious and more sane, and so less fun and more conventional.



My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, by Chelsea Handler

Unreadable. I made it far in enough to note that there isn’t much actual sex, that it’s clearly fiction (maybe loosely based on fact) rather than the memoir it’s marketed as, and it’s so aggressively jokey that I felt as if the author was shrieking a comic monologue at me from six inches away. I can’t do better than this quote from the poor person at Publishers Weekly who had to read the whole thing:

“Anyone who laughs at the mere mention of vaginas and penises may find Handler's book almost as much fun as getting drunk and waking up in some stranger's bed.”

My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands
rachelmanija: (Timbuktu to Uttar Pradesh)
( Oct. 30th, 2009 11:15 am)
An explanation of HELP I'M KIDNAPPED:

"I bought the book and actually gave it as a gift to my sister who (unlike me) doesn't keep the books she reads. She gave it back to me and that was our running joke about me kidnapping her book. Hope you enjoy it."
rachelmanija: (Timbuktu to Uttar Pradesh)
( Oct. 30th, 2009 11:15 am)
An explanation of HELP I'M KIDNAPPED:

"I bought the book and actually gave it as a gift to my sister who (unlike me) doesn't keep the books she reads. She gave it back to me and that was our running joke about me kidnapping her book. Hope you enjoy it."
rachelmanija: (Timbuktu to Uttar Pradesh)
( Oct. 28th, 2009 12:01 pm)
Since I enjoyed Patricia Gaffney's Wild at Heart so much, I BookMooched her Fortune's Lady (They were natural enemies - traitor's daughter and zealous patriot - yet the moment he saw Cassandra Merlin at her father's graveside, Riordan knew he would never be free of her. She was the key to stopping a heinous plot against the king's life, yet he sensed she had her own secret reasons for aiding his cause.

But when it arrived, I was... what's the word for "so appalled I burst out laughing?" ... by the back cover blurb:

"Like moonspun magic... One of the best historical romances I have read in a decade!"
-CASSIE EDWARDS, Bestselling Author of THE SAVAGE SERIES


Cassie Edwards, in addition to writing books about "savage" Indians, which is an offense all my itself, turned out to not even be writing her own "savages": she was plagiarizing large chunks of prose from, I kid you not, both another novel and a scholarly article about blackfooted ferrets.

Then I opened the book. This was written in giant letters on the inside front cover:

HELP

I'M KIDNAPPED

I fear that actually reading the book may be a let-down.
rachelmanija: (Timbuktu to Uttar Pradesh)
( Oct. 28th, 2009 12:01 pm)
Since I enjoyed Patricia Gaffney's Wild at Heart so much, I BookMooched her Fortune's Lady (They were natural enemies - traitor's daughter and zealous patriot - yet the moment he saw Cassandra Merlin at her father's graveside, Riordan knew he would never be free of her. She was the key to stopping a heinous plot against the king's life, yet he sensed she had her own secret reasons for aiding his cause.

But when it arrived, I was... what's the word for "so appalled I burst out laughing?" ... by the back cover blurb:

"Like moonspun magic... One of the best historical romances I have read in a decade!"
-CASSIE EDWARDS, Bestselling Author of THE SAVAGE SERIES


Cassie Edwards, in addition to writing books about "savage" Indians, which is an offense all my itself, turned out to not even be writing her own "savages": she was plagiarizing large chunks of prose from, I kid you not, both another novel and a scholarly article about blackfooted ferrets.

Then I opened the book. This was written in giant letters on the inside front cover:

HELP

I'M KIDNAPPED

I fear that actually reading the book may be a let-down.
In 1893 America, an anthropologist gets custody of the "Ontario Man," who was found running wild and seemed to have been raised by wolves. Thrilled at the thought of discovering the nature of humanity untainted by civilization, he locks the man up and begins performing psychological experiments on him. Meanwhile, the anthropologist's family-- including his young widowed daughter Sydney -- begin to realize that there's more to the Ontario Man than meets the eye.

Considering that this is genre romance, the potential for this story to be sappy, squicky, or embarrassing seemed high. It's actually great: sweet, funny, touching, well-characterized, and with some serious exploration of what would really happen in such a scenario. The supporting cast is given plenty of time and attention, leading to a lot of intriguing secondary relationships. I especially liked the interaction between the heroine's little brother Sam and her older brother Philip with the man whose name, they eventually discover, is Michael. Michael himself is a great character, a feral child re-discovering human interaction, and sentimentalized as little as possible.

The prose is good, too, and the sex scenes are both hot and based on specific character interactions. I don't know anything about this period so I have no idea if its portrayal is accurate, but it was vividly evoked (the World's Fair! The scientists arguing philosophy!) and felt real within the book, at least.

Like many romances, the book has some third-act problems such as Michael's parentage being a total cliche and, more importantly, his relationship with Sydney getting lost for a while. Sydney starts out a very strong, interesting character, and while she doesn't exactly become less strong, she does become less central for portions of the book than I would have liked.

Nevertheless, I loved this a lot and it rekindled my enjoyment of the genre. Has anyone read anything else by Gaffney? What would you recommend?

Wild at Heart
In 1893 America, an anthropologist gets custody of the "Ontario Man," who was found running wild and seemed to have been raised by wolves. Thrilled at the thought of discovering the nature of humanity untainted by civilization, he locks the man up and begins performing psychological experiments on him. Meanwhile, the anthropologist's family-- including his young widowed daughter Sydney -- begin to realize that there's more to the Ontario Man than meets the eye.

Considering that this is genre romance, the potential for this story to be sappy, squicky, or embarrassing seemed high. It's actually great: sweet, funny, touching, well-characterized, and with some serious exploration of what would really happen in such a scenario. The supporting cast is given plenty of time and attention, leading to a lot of intriguing secondary relationships. I especially liked the interaction between the heroine's little brother Sam and her older brother Philip with the man whose name, they eventually discover, is Michael. Michael himself is a great character, a feral child re-discovering human interaction, and sentimentalized as little as possible.

The prose is good, too, and the sex scenes are both hot and based on specific character interactions. I don't know anything about this period so I have no idea if its portrayal is accurate, but it was vividly evoked (the World's Fair! The scientists arguing philosophy!) and felt real within the book, at least.

Like many romances, the book has some third-act problems such as Michael's parentage being a total cliche and, more importantly, his relationship with Sydney getting lost for a while. Sydney starts out a very strong, interesting character, and while she doesn't exactly become less strong, she does become less central for portions of the book than I would have liked.

Nevertheless, I loved this a lot and it rekindled my enjoyment of the genre. Has anyone read anything else by Gaffney? What would you recommend?

Wild at Heart
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