Monday, October 14, 2013

2013 Reading, Books 91-93

91) Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America, by Jo B. Paoletti

My daughter, age 9, is a tomboy, as I myself was at her age. Given the enormous strides women have made toward fuller equality and success in traditionally male professions, it's startling how much more gendered clothes and toys are now than during my 1970's and 80's childhood. Photos of me show a kid in the same reds, oranges, greens, and yellows boys were wearing, and while boys played with GI Joe toys and girls played with dolls (I didn't--I preferred toy horses), things like blocks, Lincoln Logs, and Legos weren't gendered. Now girl clothes run heavily to pink and ruffled, and toys are gendered as can be. I'm proud to say Miss Fraser scorns these trends, and will proclaim that everyone should play with, wear, and watch whatever they like. But it's still tough to shop for her.

So this book caught my attention. It's a history of children's clothing from the late 19th century to the present--from the days when babies of both sexes wore the same white dresses and boys kept wearing skirts, albeit usually with masculine detailing, through their preschool years, to the unisex trends of the 60's and 70's, all the way up to how today's trends look to be a backlash against the unisex clothing today's generation of parents wore as children. Fascinating stuff--e.g. did you know in the early 20th century there was debate over which color belonged to each sex? Many were of the opinion blue was better for girls, being a delicate color associated with the Virgin Mary, while pink as a shade of red was the more manly color.

92) Winter Woman, by Jenna Kernan.

I've had this book on my TBR shelf for ages--it's part of my library's collection of donated paperbacks with a "please return when finished" sticker slapped on the cover...and I, um, kinda hoard them. (I also regularly donate boxes of books to be either sold at the Friends of the Library Book Sale or added to the return-when-finished collection, so hopefully it balances out.)

Anyway, I decided it was high time I started weeding through my borrowed collection and returning them to the wild, so I grabbed this one, read the first few pages to see if it was any good, and was promptly hooked. It's a Western romance, but one set in the 1830's, before the heyday of the cowboy. The heroine is a widow who survived a winter alone in the Rockies (she and her husband were left behind by their missionary wagon train who promised to return for them, only everyone but her ultimately died), and the hero is a trapper. The book is an all-around good read--fast-paced, adventurous, and romantic.

I'd never heard of Kernan before, and since the romance writer community is a smallish world, I feared that meant she was no longer active. (This book is copyright 2003.) But when I googled her I discovered she's an active and prolific writer with a good-sized backlist for me to explore. Which is why libraries are good things for authors. I tried her because I'll grab pretty much anything that halfway appeals to me of the "please return when finished" rack, but I'll be buying her works in the future.

93) Scoundrel, by Zoe Archer.

For the 2013 TBR Challenge. Detailed post to follow.


  1. Kernan is one of my go-to authors in the Harlequin Historical line. You picked a good one to start with! Winter Woman has been one of my favorites (we won't discuss how far behind I am with her recent work - uh.....). Another good one to be on the lookout for is Outlaw Bride. Heroine is desperate to save her family trapped up in the mountains and only the hero will do - except he's scheduled to be executed, so she has to figure out a way to break him out of jail.

    1. I think that's one of the ones I put on my books-to-buy-eventually wishlist because it sounded like such a fun, different set-up.