Old memories, new challenges, and a mini-review

This weekend I traveled to sunny California for my husband’s 20th high school reunion.  I haven’t gone to my own reunions, so this was a strange experience.  Even without knowing anyone, I couldn’t help but flash back to my own not-so-pleasant high school experiences – it’s hard not to when surrounded by 80s photos, 80s music, yearbooks, etc.   And then there was the group of cliquey, gossiping, overly-made up girls in the bathroom who seemed hell-bent on making the non-marrieds feel horrible about themselves – shouldn’t we be nicer people after 20 years?  It seriously made me want to go out to the parking lot and smoke.  But I wasn’t there for me, this was my hubby’s night to enjoy.  So I’m glad it’s done with, just feeling a little old and a little sad for my less-than-happy high school years.

All of this is an excuse for the fact that I’m way behind on reviews – recently I finished three books:

  • Blameless by Gail Carriger (Book 3 in the Parasol Protectorate series)
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (Victorian literature)
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (no idea how to classify this one, but it’s currently in theaters so I wanted to read it first)

I’ve unfortunately let Blameless go a bit too long to write a full review.  So I’ll just say a few words here:

Blameless is the third book in the Parasol Protectorate series, after Soulless and Changeless.  I won’t include any spoilers if you’re planning on reading it.  I love this series –Carriger has created a truly unique universe for her books and her writing style is like no one else’s.  She is funny, witty, sarcastic, and keeps the books light and action-packed.  In the first two books the relationship between Alexia and Lord Maccon is well developed and a great mix of sexy, funny and sentimental.  I really enjoyed Soulless but felt the writing could have been much tighter. I loved Changeless, because I felt the story and writing were much improved, and I didn’t at all mind the dramatic ending.  I also love Scotland so that helped.

So I was really looking forward to Blameless, but I have to say it disappointed me.  It’s hard to say why, although some of it was that Alexia and Lord Macon are separated for most of the book.  But more than that, I think the story just didn’t hang together for me.  I really wanted to learn more about Alexia’s history but the book didn’t give me as much as I expected, and the lengthy “scientific” discussions lost me. Madame LeFoux was less interesting and a lot of the fun characters from the other books, like silly Ivy, were absent.  The most interesting storyline relates to the making of a new werewolf, but I won’t say more than that.  I’m still a fan of the series but this is probably more of a transition book.

In other news, last week’s “networking” conversation on the Hop inspired me to sign up for two reading challenges.  The first is a Steampunk challenge, organized by Rikki Donovan at The Bookkeeper.  I really liked Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Ship Breaker by Paulo Bacigalupi, and Gail Carriger’s series, so I look forward to reading more.  You can find out more here. I’m open to suggestions for good steampunk reads! Right now I’ve got The Boneshaker, Windup Girl, Behemoth and Clockwork Angel on my list.

The other challenge is reading female authors of science fiction.  This website has more information and a list of the books, one for each month in 2011.  The first book will be Dust by Elizabeth Bear.  I don’t know many female SF authors so this will push my boundaries a little bit.  I’m REALLY excited that my husband has decided to co-read with me (now I’ve written it here so he’s committed).  Maybe I can even get him to write a guest review.  There’s a “sister” Women of Fantasy book club if that’s more your thing.  I figured I already know a lot of fantasy writers and want to try more science fiction.

So, hope you’ll join me in one of these challenges, and I’m looking forward to lots of good reading ahead.

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