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.)


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


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