Anyone else feeling the end of summer blahs? It’s been going around at the day job – lots of sighs and forlorn looks, and no one’s motivated to do anything. I’m definitely feeling it. I think it’s my brain’s way of telling me to take a break. I’ve been working on too many projects for most of the month, and it’s at the point I can’t remember a lot of what I read this month.
I couldn’t make it through Blood Tango by Annamaria Alfieri. In the midst of the chaos surrounding Colonel Juan Peron’s ouster, a young woman bearing a strong resemblance to Eva Duarte (later Eva Peron) is murdered. The detective assigned to the case is convinced she was killed because someone mistook her for the actress. But no one else seems to care if her murder is solved. Blood Tango had all the makings of the kind of book I love: murder, intrigue, Argentina, corruption and impending anarchy. But there were too many points of view for a book as short as this one (it’s only about 250 pages) and by the time I reached the halfway point, I didn’t care about any of the characters.
I had similar issues with Thrity Umrigar’s The Story Hour. Lakshmi’s trapped in a loveless marriage in a country where she knows no one, save the people who wander in and out of her husband’s store. Maggie’s the therapist assigned to make sure she doesn’t try to commit suicide again. As the unconventional therapy progresses, Maggie realizes Lakshmi isn’t depressed, she’s lonely. But too many lines get crossed, blurring the divide between therapy and friendship, and the results could destroy them both.
I tried with this one. I really did. I feel I may be unfair of late toward literary fiction, and I resolved to push my prior grumblings aside. I probably shouldn’t have. The most aggravating thing about this book was Lakshmi’s point of view. It’s in her pigin English, and it got on my nerves after the first chapter. The pace is slow through the first half – the conflict doesn’t really start to unfold until the second half, and by the last quarter, I was skimming. Still, despite the way her POV was written, Lakshmi was a more interesting character than Maggie. Maggie was a bit dull, not as fully realized as she could have been, and the end result was I skimmed the last quarter of the book, only sort of caring what happened.
Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff ought to be required reading for high school students. Hell, it ought to be required reading for everyone. Stumbling home from a concert, Lesh runs into Svetlana, knocking her off her bike. They both brush it off and figure they’ll never see the other again. Turns out they attend the same high school, albeit in different grades (Lesh is a sophomore, Lana is a senior). Two people who have little in common end up forging a relationship, until something Lesh is hiding threatens Lana.
There are two reasons to read this book. First, it’s Brezenoff. The man’s a fuckin’ genius of YA literature. Second is the reason for his genius. GIRL plays on gender stereotypes and asks the questions that too many teens are afraid to voice. It’s the sort of book that inspires discussion and urges not just tolerance, but acceptance and education. It asks you to wrap your mind around a concept that really isn’t so far fetched, yet for a sixteen year old boy, it is. Why are you still sitting there? GO READ THIS BOOK, DAMMIT.
Alessandra Torre’s Black Lies released earlier this week (and from the look of her Twitter feed, it sounds like she had a hell of a time getting the book up on Amazon US). When I read the blurb, it seemed similar to one of her older novels, Sex Love Repeat. So I decided to read it to find out (I’ll be reading Black Lies soon). Sex Love Repeat is the story of Madison, Stewart, and Paul, caught in a love triangle that no one wants to break – Madison because she loves them both, Stewart and Paul because they’d give anything for Madds to be happy.
Guys, this is why I read indie romance. Sex Love Repeat, along with Lili St. Germain’s Seven Sons, are just two of the fearless, boundary pushing romances I’ve read of late. Neither will win awards for their writing (yes, both stories have their issues, both plot and grammar wise) but I don’t care. There’s this whole new breed of romance authors, Karina Halle, Kit Rocha, Torre and St Germain among them, that seem to look at traditional conventions and set them on their ears. Maybe it’s because they’re erotic romance, for the most part, and it’s like this unwritten rule you can get away with more in erotic romance, but whatever it is, I’m enjoying it. Sure, some of the writing isn’t as polished as you’d see in a book from a major publisher. There are punctuation and grammar errors and plot holes and WTFery galore. But when the author says “oh, hey, I could do this“, you kind of don’t care. Publishers are starting to take some chances – Halle’s Artist Trilogy was picked up by Hatchette, Torre’s The Girl in 6E was published by Redhook, Sarah Harian’s Our Broken Sky was released by Intermix/Penguin – so there’s hope for change.
I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I’ll be digging into the stack of library books on my coffee table, and I may even *gasp* not turn on my laptop. The WHOLE weekend.
Right. That’ll never happen. Anyway, what’re you reading this weekend?