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Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Hidden Universe Travel Guides: Vulcan by Dayton Ward. Science fiction.

A nicely done fake travel guide to the planet Vulcan, for hardcore Trekkies only. The author must have put in a lot of work. I appreciate the callbacks to a couple of the better novels, such as Uhura’s Song by Janet Kagan, as well as the reference to Mark Gardner’s Vulcan Language Institute (very politely sourced, even!).… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Paperbacks from Hell: the Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix. Literary history.

When I requested an advance reader’s copy of this from the publisher, my expectations were low. It might have been a boring catalog of authors and publishers. Or it might have centered around mocking old horror paperback cover art, while being light on historical detail.… >> Read more

Thumbs down for A Christmas Proposal: A Betty Neels Best Selection, Vol 1 by Natsu Momose adapted from novels by Betty Neels. Manga/romance.

Manga-ized versions of some of my favorite old-school romances. Simply dreadful. Not even fun dreadful. I just had to know.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. Psychology.

This review will be slightly censored as it has to pass email spam filters. This offends both my bookseller side and my linguist side, but you can’t win ’em all. Which is, come to think of it, exactly the point of the book: pick your battles carefully and with reference to your underlying values.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for All the Possibilities by Nora Roberts. Romance.

As mentioned before–maybe I should just add an explanation to my blog–I like the idea of romance novels, but my tolerance for pushy men is about nil; ergo, my tolerance for standard-issue M/F romance novels is about nil. I do, however, keep reading back-cover blurbs in hope. I was so astonished that Nora had made the hero of All the Possibilities a politician that I read the first page.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac. Literature.

Every time I think of Balzac I think of the West Wing episode in which Balzac is made fun of for his windiness. This is not wrong – at least in the first chapter. It was good that the introduction (by E.K. Brown) in my edition warned me that Balzac front-loads his books with lots of description, setting the scene and placing the characters within it before the story gets rolling.… >> Read more

 

Thumbs up for Polly; The Bachelor’s Wedding; and The Edge of Winter by Betty Neels. Romance.

These three are not among my favorites books by Betty Neels, but their inclusion here warrants a batch review explaining why I read them in the first place.

Betty Neels wrote 123 books, each of which clock in at around 185 pages. They are what we now call ‘sweet’ romances–not a reflection of their girly gushiness, because they haven’t got any of that, but ‘sweet’ being one end of a romance-literature spectrum of explicitness which passes through ‘sexy’ and eventually ends up at ‘porn.’ There is no sex in Neels’s books, even on the occasions on which there is a marriage of convenience.… >> Read more