So this was a thing I intended to do periodically but at which I’ve failed pretty miserably. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to read a lot of things I can’t really talk about — at least not at the time I’d doing the reading — because they’re submissions or works-in-progress and, well, hazards of the job. Mostly I don’t mind, even though I do sometimes want to jump up and down and squeal about some new discovery and hate waiting until it’s possible. But there you have it.
When it comes to reading books with covers, I am generally hopelessly behind. I very rarely manage to read a book around the time it’s released. I’ve been known to pick up an ARC and realize that, not only has the hardcover pub date come and gone, but the paperback release is on shelves as well. Personal reading time tends to come in fits and starts, depending on the flow of everything else, and — occasionally — how burnt out I’m feeling. And in recent months, I’ve been leaning toward the crispy side, bouncing off everything I’ve picked up to read and mostly just sitting in front of the TV and mainlining DVDs of missed cable series in my free time. However, the last month or so has seen a shift, and I’m back to books. All is right with the world.
As a result, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve enjoyed. Note, I am not the agent for either of these projects, nor do I have a vested interest in their sales beyond the fact that I liked them and wish their authors success.
RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles. Set in New York City over the course of 1938, this book follows the experiences of a young woman named Katey Kontent whose brush with aristocracy serves to provide her with a brand new outlook on life and a set of very intriguing opportunities that seem equally likely to lead to her success or her ruin. First most, I loved the writing. The author has a wonderful voice, very much in keeping with the noir novels of the period, and it was a joy to read (and often reread) many of the sentences. Beyond that, the book features some very strong female characters, which is great to see in a period work, and many of their observations and experiences translate to present day without feeling in the least bit out of place for the late ’30s. Best of all, it kept me guessing, never quite certain what direction Katey would take or how things would play out.
A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Sarah MacLean. This Regency romance starts MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series, of which several are in print, and pushed all my current buttons, as I’m kind of on a bad boy kick when it comes to my romance novels. The story features a “childhood friends meet again as adults” trope, handled deftly, and sets up an intriguing micro-world within the larger scope of London society of the period. MacLean is obviously well versed in the history and details of the time, and offers up a fresh, believable romance wrapped in lush descriptions and strong writing. I’m going to need to work hard to resist plowing through the rest of this series in lieu of the many, many other titles currently on my TBR stacks.