I have been reading things and not writing about them, so here's a mini-review dump:Fur-Face
, by Jon Gibbs: Middle-grade novel with a contemporary setting and some sf elements.
I got the book ages ago and finally remembered to read it. It's a fun, light-hearted romp starring a boy and his cat, although Daft Aggie, a grandmother of many aspects, steals most of the scenes she's in. Which is as it should be. :) The climax had some good unconventional aspects, defying my expectations in sensible ways. I'll give it an 8.
*The Courtland Chronicles
by Cat Grant. This is a five-part series, something like three novellas and two novels. It is more-or-less romance, although it wanders across genres:
Part 1: M/M romance.
Part 2: Dysfunctional BDSM erotica with some romance jammed in around the edges.
Part 3: ... romance, I guess? But without a happy ending. It fits the romance genre better if you regard it as the start of part 4 instead of a standalone.
Part 4: Poly-romance.
Part 5: Drama.
I am still not sure how I feel about this series. Rating each part would be something like: 7; 5; 6; 6.5; 6.5.
There are a lot of sex scenes in the series; Cat Grant gets bonus points for adding in some kink (including perfectly functional kink and not just the creepy stuff from Part 2) to keep the sex scenes from being repetitive, but I still got bored of reading sex scenes.
The fifth part is noteworthy for not being a romance at all in the typical sense: instead, it's about the legal and social consequences of a poly relationship in contemporary America, and how the characters cope with those as well as coping with other non-relationship crises (both professional and personal). There's no real sense that the characters are worried that their romantic relationship is going to fall apart or anything. It is a reasonably good drama, if a little sparse on some of the details that might draw the reader in. (For instance, there's an attempt to wreck one character's business that would've benefited from a more detailed approach: it has a superficiality to it that makes it feel like the author didn't want to research a fully-accurate representation and winged it instead.) OTOH, the ramifications of a poly relationship are explored thoughtfully, and in a well-rounded way -- characters that approve, ones that don't, ones that change their attitude over time, etc.
One amusing note about part four: I had a throw-the-book-across-the-room moment, where I was yelling at the characters, "You have NO IDEA what you are doing! You are ostensibly smart people used to research, for the love of little green apples DO SOME RESEARCH." And literally two pages later, one of the characters goes, "I did some research and found some good books about this, here's our homework" to the others. XD
The dysfunctional BDSM in part 2 hit me exactly wrong and repulsed me. BDSM erotica is very hit-or-miss with me, and it's not even along obvious lines. It's not "I only like functional, healthy BDSM erotica", because I sometimes enjoy non-consensual fantasies that are a lot more over the top than Ms. Grant's. I'm not sure why. I tend not to read BDSM stuff for this reason, though, because it's hard to find things that work for me. Anyway, my rating on this part is even more a matter of taste than usual.
*The Island of the Sequined Love Nun
, by Christopher Moore. Contemporary suspense/mystery sort of thing. Ostensibly humor.
I was talking to koogrr
and he mentioned enjoying Moore's work after noticing my review of The Serpent of Venice
. So I asked him to recommend a couple.
The weirdest part of Island
for me is that it is supposed to be a humor novel and I found basically nothing whatsoever about it funny. There were times when I could tell I was supposed to find something funny but it just wasn't to me. Much of the time I couldn't even tell that Moore was trying to be funny. The book is full of problematic treatments of gender and race, including the oh-no-not-again plot of Only a White American Man Can Save These Poor Primitive People.
I do want to give Moore credit for some things, though. The hapless primitive people don't come across as any stupider or less competent than the Americans, and they're written as people and not some monolithic identical Other. There's a cross-dressing prostitute and former child slave who's actually the best character in the book: not a victim, not a collection of abuses, but an interesting, likeable person. So props for that. I felt like the author was trying, at least, even if he's not really succeeding.
Although I didn't find it funny, it was generally well-written and often interesting, and I enjoyed the climax. I'll give it a 6.5.The Stupidest Angel
, by Christopher Moore. Contemporary humor; parody of Christmas stories & horror.
The other Moore book Koogrr recommended. I actually thought this one was funny! And I liked most of the characters. It was a mash-up of characters from previous books, including the protagonist from Island
, so that was amusing even if it felt like Moore had rolled back some of the character development he'd undergone in the prior book. My favorite character was Molly, aka the Warrior Babe, aka the town crazy lady. I have enough ♥ for Molly that I will even forgive the use of the "women are crazy" trope.
There is a lot of "men treating women like an alien race" in this book, which I find grating. There are couple of POV female characters who come across as interesting and no more alien than the male ones, though. So it's much less grating than casual sexism in a book with no real female characters.
Anyway, I had a good time with this one and will give it an 8.5. It is not quite enough to make me want to try more Moore novels. Maybe the other one(s?) with Molly.