September 2015 Reading Log

Fiction:
That Scandalous Summer by Meredith Duran is the first historical romance I’ve read in, it seems, forever. The characters are intriguing! The hero is a doctor whose brother is trying to bully him into marrying; the heroine is a widow whom he discovered drunk and sleeping under a bush. It turned out I wasn’t as much in the mood for a romance as I’d hoped, but I did really like the complex relationship between the hero and his manipulative brother; they’re at odds, and angry with each other, but love each other at the same time.

Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older is terrific! I met the author when we were in the same reading session at Arisia one year, and absolutely loved the story he read there, so I bought his first novel as soon as it came out. (If you ever get a chance to hear him read, go!) Then, of course, the book sat in the (electronic) TBR for months on end. On the good side, it took me long enough to get to it that a sequel is out, Midnight Taxi Tango. Half-Resurrection Blues is Urban Fantasy, set in Brooklyn, with a strong noir feel. The first-person protagonist, Carlos, is half-dead and half-alive, able to see and interact with both the living and the dead, which makes him ideal for the purposes of the NY Council of the Dead, who use him to deal with ghosts and other supernatural types who are causing trouble. His best buddy Riley is a ghost. Carlos’ understated, sarcastic narration was a high point of the book for me, as was the dense, complex, original worldbuilding (magical and otherwise) with its realistic mix of people and cultures. The Brooklyn neighborhoods in the book, some of them, are gentrifying, which added an element of liminality. This being noir, there’s a Girl of course, who’s Trouble, and also Carlos is a snazzy dresser. I could totally visualize the movie of this book, and it would be awesome.

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch is fourth in an urban fantasy series about magical cops in contemporary London that I’ve been reading since the beginning. I’d put this one off for a while because I’d heard it had a twist I wasn’t sure I would like. But as it turned out, I was okay with the twist, and am interested to find out what happens next. I love this series for the characters and worldbuilding – for example, the way Peter Grant’s deep interest in architecture is woven throughout his first-person narration which also contains police jargon, wry humor, and anecdotes about his family. I recommend this series highly.

Comics:
Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection by Kate Beaton is out! I’d read most of the comics before, online, but it was lovely to find a few things I’d missed scattered throughout. And this volume has my absolute fave of all her comics, Chopin and Liszt. My only complaint is that I wish the print had been a bit larger, particularly when there was a line of commentary, in the author’s handwriting, at the bottom of a page. I had to squint a few times, even while wearing my glasses. Online archive for Hark, a vagrant.

Poetry:
Stars By Snigdha Chaya Saikia at Strange Horizons has a science fiction plot with a mythological feel.

Published by Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s writing showcases her voracious lifelong love of books. She reads over 120 new books each year, especially historical romance, fantasy, and space opera, and incorporates these genres into her erotic fiction. Her first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. When not writing, Victoria conducts research in libraries and graveyards, lectures about writing and selling erotica, and speaks at literary conventions on topics such as paranormal romance, urban fantasy, erotic science fiction/fantasy, and the empowerment of women through unconventional means. Her daily writing blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and author interviews. She also guest blogs for Heroes & Heartbreakers and The Criminal Element. She lives in Philadelphia.