Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 Reading, Books 100-102

So I made it to 100 books on the year! I'm on pace for something like 140, but I'm going to try to push for 150 by 12/31.

100) The Scorpion's Sting by James Oakes.

This book was taken from a series of lectures the author gave at LSU, and it reads like it--quick, scholarly yet informal, and a good read if you come into it with a reasonably strong background on the American 19th century, in particular the Civil War and all the battles of abolitionism vs. slave state expansionism that made it inevitable.

101) No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

This isn't my usual kind of historical romance. I tend to prefer realistic, history-geek historicals, while this is more of a fantasy romp (though with enough angst that "romp" isn't quite the right word). I'm even wary of cute play-on-words titles and monochromatic covers featuring really big dresses--though I know very well how little control most authors have over titles and cover design, so that's not really fair of me.

But I decided to read it anyway, since it won this year's Rita for Best Historical Romance and because I enjoyed an interview the author gave on the Dear Bitches, Smart Author podcast. And I'm glad I did. It's a big, romantic, angsty story where the hero and heroine's chemistry and attraction are perfectly balanced by the difficult history between them (she went missing, presumed dead, and he fell under heavy suspicion for her murder). As such it was the perfect read for unwinding after a hectic week at work.

102) On Killing by Dave Grossman

Lately I've been listening to some of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcasts, and he recommended this book. I'm glad I read it, though I took some of the author's conclusions with a grain of salt based on multiple reviewer comments stating that his statistics on infantry soldiers not firing their weapons in WWII are dubious and/or subject to more than one interpretation. (And I'm really, REALLY inclined to disagree with the amount of blame he lays on video games and violent movies and TV for desensitizing civilians to violence. I think in some cases it may be AMONG the factors, but I doubt it's the major one leading to Columbine, VA Tech, etc.) But I found the many quotes from soldiers on their memories of combat illuminating, especially as someone who writes a lot of soldier characters in my fiction.

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