Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2013 Reading, Books 37-39

37) Things I Can't Forget, by Miranda Kenneally.

I've been a Kenneally fan ever since I read the query letter for her first YA romance, Catching Jordan, (her agent posted it on a blog as an example of an effective query), but I think this book may be my favorite so far just because I identified with the heroine so much. I've been told that's a simplistic reason to enjoy a book, but oh well. I was Kate when I was 18, and for several years afterward. Painfully good, afraid to break the rules, convinced that my beliefs were the only right ones and therefore pretty dang judgmental even if I was better than Kate at keeping my mouth shut about it. So I enjoyed watching Kate begin to come to terms with life's complexities and ambiguities, and I loved seeing a character like her (and my younger self) grow and change.

38) Consider the Fork, by Bee Wilson.

If you enjoy culinary history or the history of everyday things, you'll probably love this book. It's a history not of what we eat, but of the technology we use to prepare and consume our food, from pots to refrigerators to the kitchen space itself. It's too general an overview if you're looking for, say, what a French kitchen was like in 1780, but it's packed with fascinating anecdotes, and it made me think about any number of things I usually take for granted.

39) Lord Roworth's Reward, by Carola Dunn.

This is a sequel to Miss Jacobson's Journey, which I read earlier in the year. It's a sweet, chaste traditional Regency romance set during and immediately after the Waterloo campaign and featuring a hero who's so sure he's found his perfect future countess that he doesn't notice just how much love is involved in his friendship for another, less suitable, young lady until it's almost too late. I enjoyed it a lot, with two small caveats: 1) The sheer number of famous Waterloo quotes and incidents referenced in the story came across as a bit of an infodump, especially since the hero heard about most of them secondhand and they weren't necessary to move the plot forward. 2) The story treats the urban legend that Nathan Mayer Rothschild used his advance knowledge of the outcome of the battle to make a fortune on the London stock exchange as fact, when actually there's no contemporary evidence for it and it seems to be an anti-Semitic tale that sprang up later in the 19th century. That said, a lot of histories cite it as fact, Dunn herself clearly isn't anti-Semitic, and Rothschild is portrayed in a positive light. So I don't hold it against her--I just feel compelled to point out the issue, since I'm pedantic like that, especially given the roots of this particular legend.

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