Aug. 10th, 2009

keilexandra: (glomp)
I was chatting with my parents today--in Chinglish, this does not happen very often due to the language barrier--and I discovered that my mother reads romance novels in Chinese on the Internet. I promptly told her that I would get her an English romance novel as a belated birthday present.

So what book should I get her? Preferably something I can nab off BookMooch, so popular is fine and probably preferable. We're starting from a clean slate, since my mother has read NO English romance novels EVER. This is the important bit: reading level. I know she's not comfortable reading English novels, so this needs to be something very accessible. Grammar is not an issue so much as vocab--simple/common words are good. And, of course, it has to be a compelling read.

Thoughts, recommendations?
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America
by Leon Dash
279 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Nonfiction/Documentary

This book is a semi-compilation of a Pulitzer-Prize-winning article series Dash wrote for the Washington Post. It tells the story of Rosa Lee, a typical (or so Dash presents her) example of the black urban underclass. Her story starts off as compelling and poignant, but about a third of my way through the book, Dash's disjointed storytelling became merely repetitive and boring. The "plot" is a depressing cycle of multi-generational poverty/welfare/drug use, i.e. a case study of a poor urban black family. Ultimately, interesting for the academic sociological information, but not remotely entertaining for me as a "regular" reader.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
The Black Jewels Trilogy: Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness
by Anne Bishop
1204 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

I found the omnibus edition of this at Half-Price Books and couldn't resist, given how much I've heard about Bishop's original series. While I was devouring all 1200+ pages, I kept describing it as "cracktastic" (and then having to explain that term)--because oh, its reputation is so true. Jaenelle is the most blatant Mary-Sue I've actually liked; Saetan/Daemon/Lucivar aren't much better as Gary Stus. (Speaking of which, can the demonic allusions be any more obvious and irritating?) The power dynamic became annoying at times, but it was also comforting to know that she would always save the day. This is definitely dark fantasy, complete with explicit scenes (sex, violence, or both) and magnetically disturbing anti-heroes. On an academic level, it's also a good case study of a matriarchy, and I've been collecting those. I think I may have some issues with gender roles; it feels very rigid, and wrong in that sense, but I can't articulate why.

Bishop's strength, by far, is characterization. I can think of no other explanation as for why I enjoyed reading the series so much, but can't say I loved or even really liked it. I hear that the later books can be messy--which should I avoid, if any?
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Skin Trade
by Laurell K. Hamilton
486 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

Miracle of miracles, I think Hamilton is becoming increasingly more readable. Her most recent Anita books have had noticeably less sex and more plot. I approve and will be going back to read some of her earliest Anita Blake books if/when I have the time/inclination. I find that it's best to approach Hamilton like an episodic TV show; Anita reminds me of what I imagine Buffy would be like. (Note that I have no actual experience with Buffy.) If you think too hard, it's unrealistic that Anita keeps getting into this much trouble, every single book--but these books are not meant for heavy thinking. I do appreciate Hamilton's overarching plot and the small movements in it.

Not much of Jean-Claude or Nathaniel in this one, though, which is sad to me.


keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)

January 2011


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