My November Reading Log

Fiction:
Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch had some resolutions happen in the series! I shall not spoil which ones. The plot raised some new questions in Peter Grant’s quest to understand how magic works, because it’s always much more complicated than it appears. As usual, I loved the neep about how to facilitate the use of magic in police work (creating procedures for training, etc.). Peter’s parents only have a brief appearance, but Abigail appears in several scenes, and there was a fair amount of Guleed as well.

Hollywood Dragon (Hollywood Shifters Book 2) by Zoe Chant was second in a series in which I had not read the first, but that was not a hindrance. It’s a lightweight paranormal romance about an opera singer who meets her dragon shifter mate in the process of participating in her best friend’s wedding. There’s a mild suspense plot happening as well.

Bear West by Zoe Chant is a short, sweet book about a contemporary arranged marriage between a woman from NYC and a bear shifter who just bought a ranch in Nevada. I think this is an early Chant, and much shorter than the later ones.

In high school and college I was a serious Mary Stewart aficionado, but I am pretty sure I had never read Rose Cottage before. I found it slightly unsatisfying; the mysteries were solved, but several character-related resolutions were left dangling at the end, and I was not in the mood for that sort of uncertainty. However, the loving descriptions of the 1947 English countryside and the varied village people moving on with their lives after WWII were excellent and satisfying.

Death of an Unsung Hero by Tessa Arlen is several into a murder mystery series featuring a partnership between an English aristocrat and her housekeeper; I chose it because it takes place during World War One. The country house has been turned into a hospital for shell-shocked officers, like Craiglockhart; Land Girls are helping with the harvest, though we don’t really see them; the son of the household, a pilot, is on leave with a broken arm. I enjoyed the setting quite a bit, and the way the various contemporary attitudes towards shell shock were integrated into the story. The mystery was of the sort that relies on alibis and timing, and kept me engaged, though not to the point where I couldn’t stop reading.

In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard is post-apocalyptic, the apocalypse having been caused by aliens called the Vanishers who enacted all sorts of nasty genetic experimentation on people and the environment. A Vietnamese-type water dragon, whose goal is to protect humankind, tries to cure some of the now-rampant genetic diseases, while the human population, or at least the village we see, are focused only on survival, with a few using the opportunity to support their own power and enforce hierarchy. The human protagonist is caught in the middle. I enjoyed this a lot because the characters and worldbuilding were all so complex in ways that left me wanting more; many, many moral issues are raised that are relevant to today’s world, and I’m still thinking about it.

I finally read The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan. I haven’t been much in the mood for romances for a while, having read way to many for the previous while; I had only read her early novels for Harlequin. This is a short historical romance, but has a terrific conflict and characters, and I recommend it if you haven’t tried this author before. It’s the prequel to her Brothers Sinister series.

A Tryst with Trouble by Alyssa Everett is another historical romance, this one of the type where the hero and heroine dislike each other from the start and banter a lot, but the reader knows better; there is also a murder mystery to add to the complications. I found it light and pleasant and a good read for a train ride up to New York City.

Nonfiction:
The Chinese in America: A Narrative History by Iris Chang is a readable and thorough history. It begins with early, isolated immigrants from China to the United States (such as entertainers) before the California Gold Rush and bad conditions in China brought larger numbers and established communities in San Francisco and other cities as well as in small towns supporting the Gold Rush, needing agricultural labor, etc.. The author is a journalist, so it flows easily, mixing individual stories in with the more generalized events of waves of immigration, Exclusion Acts, wars, and political shifts in both China and the U.S. that affected immigration and immigrants. It shows how the work immigrants do and the businesses they go into are affected by available economic niches, local contacts, and legislation that supports or, more likely, impedes their progress. I was glad the book went into various civil rights lawsuits brought by Chinese businessmen and laborers, as well, as that tied in to some of my reading about 1960s black activism. Hooray for intersectionality! Several times, I found myself thinking, “Same shit, different day,” when reading about the Exclusion Acts or burdensome taxes and fees aimed at Chinese-owned businesses. Recommended if you want a good overview.

Fanfiction:
Turn, Archer, and Heed the Wild Hunt by Mhalachai is a crossover I would never have thought of – an older Susan Pevensie takes in foster child Clint Barton, the future Hawkeye. Yes, there is archery.

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.