Fiction: The Knights of Breton Court by Maurice Broaddus (three volumes in this edition) could be described (and I think was, somewhere) as King Arthur meets The Wire. It’s brilliant and original, but I tend to find Arthuriana depressing in general because of the way the sequence ends, and this book adds the hopelessness of grinding poverty and endemic crime to that. I was not in a good place to be reading this particular book when I did, but did it anyway because I was preparing for a WisCon panel. I will likely go back to it someday to finish the trilogy. I really loved the way the names are done; it took me a second to realize “Dred” was Mordred, for instance, and I love the little shocks of recognition throughout as new elements of Arthurian canon crop up. I see what you did there! Also, I loved that almost all of the cast are People of Color.
No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper is very Terminator: it features a female warrior from a future dystopia who travels back in time to Regency England to prevent the dystopia. What’s not to like? Except for maybe it being longer and with more issues for her to deal with. But I enjoyed it quite a bit, and bought the sequel.
After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn is very different from her Kitty books – for one thing, it’s not first person POV. There’s some interesting meta on superhero comics, but I never felt truly engaged with the characters, and did not feel driven to read it quickly.
London Falling by Paul Cornell is Urban Fantasy set in London, which I read because some of the lead characters are People of Color – this was preparation for the same WisCon panel for which I read the Broaddus. It was an entertaining read, but it didn’t stick with me and I didn’t feel a burning desire to read the sequel. Also, parts of it were a bit too grim for me.
Delusion in Death (In Death, Book 35) by J.D. Robb delivered the expected experience of revisiting characters who change very little, very slowly, which is exactly what I was looking for.
Prince of Silk and Thorns by Cherry Dare – I read this because I have met the author, and I was curious. The story starts out as fairly standard “dubious consent” fantasy: gorgeous, cruel prince comandeers hapless farmboy who really wants the prince despite misgivings (in other words, the plot of many 1960s Harlequin category romances). Then it shifts towards deeper characterization and lots of indulgent hurt/comfort. Lots. If you like these themes in fanfiction, you will probably also like this book.
Nonfiction: Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America by Carroll Smith-Rosenberg is so 1980s, Wow. Frequently, bits of this book made me feel like I was in college again, which is about when the book came out. There was one bit that said, in more formal academic language, essentially the same thing as “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” and I couldn’t help but wonder if Smith-Rosenberg knew of Audre Lorde’s work. It was interesting to see how dramatically womens’ studies has changed over the decades.