Category Marginalia

BALOGH — Slightly Dangerous

A tall glass of cold hero

Figuring out my personal canon, here—historical romances are bound to pop up. Among the more notable: Slightly Dangerous, by Mary Balogh. It’s a love story between two very sensible adults, very much attracted to each other, very much aware of how far they’re willing to satiate their wanting. They’re two adults, too, with the necessary barricades around their hearts—and seeing them ease up, seeing them let a little of their control go—it’s so satisfying. [Continue reading.]

QUINN — The Sum of All Kisses

Inhaling fluff

If you know you enjoyed a romance novel, but can’t fucking remember why you enjoyed a romance novel—can you still actually claim that you enjoyed the romance novel? Do you still have a worthwhile blog post if all the blog post delivers is confusion over forgetting what a romance novel is about? [Continue reading.]

GREENBERGER — The Batman Vault

Caught up

I’ve had a really fun weekend—among other things: I am a total sap for this Valentine’s business, which I don’t think comes as a surprise to anybody. Anyway. This early morning’s bout of insomnia (which, in effect, extends the weekend, I guess) is more welcome than usual. I’m taking bloggerly advantage of the relative chillness and the good vibes. So, hello, godforsaken blog—here’s a rundown of some of the books I’ve read lately, aka housekeeping: The Dinner by Herman Koch, Longitude by Dava Sobel, the first two volumes of Justice League Dark, and The Batman Vault by Robert Greenberger. [Continue reading.]

CHABON — The Final Solution

The old man’s mind

I am pleased to announced that my first foray into post-canon reading was a blubbery success: I’ve read Michael Chabon’s pastiche on Sherlock Holmes, The Final Solution, and absolutely loved it. It was, I think, a nice book to read in transition from the canon, to whatever reading I feel like doing next—either a reread of Doyle, or a digging up other pastiches that place their stories firmly as career stories. Mostly because it’s a nice nod to my having ended that first run through the canon—it’s a tidy novella about a Sherlock Holmes old and retired and, in fact, only alluded to. [Continue reading.]

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Girl ahoy, reading comic books

I was supposed to write just about Brubaker’s The Man Who Laughs, but then it kept swerving into a rant about “the barriers of entry” in comic book reading. So here’s that indulgent swerve. See, barriers have an amazing way of reminding you that they existed for you because a) you’re a girl, and b) you got into comics way too late to ever catch up. So, to me, even if the barriers have been tiptoed past or crashed into—out of sheer will, or through a surfeit of giddiness—those barriers keep haunting; they’re like your very own Greek chorus dispensing aphoristic helpings of an inferiority complex. Hell and damnation. [Continue reading.]

ex02 — February, Thus Far

February, thus far

I’ve kept up the wonky momentum of January—characterized by good books and really good books resolving to nudge away a smattering of meh books—up until the start of February, but I’m seeing the possibility of even that faulty system flagging. This is, I am aware, an as-faulty observation—since three of the four books I’ve read since the month began were really, really good books. It’s only that, I suppose, I’ve more recently been mired in books I can’t bring myself to care for—books that I have been excited for, and books that would really be for me if some secret thing inside me wasn’t so listless lately. I look at my bookshelves and think horrible thoughts, among them: How can I be so drawn to all of you, but nothing at this moment appeals? [Continue reading.]

PEIRENE PRESS — Turning Point Series

The turning

Peirene Press’ “Turning Point” series made its way to my shelves, and I delved into the books, reading them almost one after the other. These three novellas approach craft in their own peculiar ways; that is: In an as unconventional a manner as possible. Each novella is a successful exercise in style and tone and voice and storytelling. Mussel has that breathless and urgent stream-of-consciousness, Darwin was admirably adept at picking out individual voices one moment and pushing forward the collective the next, and Chasing was just exemplary in temperance sharpening scenes into a fine point. [Continue reading.]

PUTNEY - The Rake

On Regency drunks

For the TL;DR crowd: The Rake is a powerful and compelling exploration of a hero’s fatal flaw; the brandy-swilling hero narratively pushed to an addiction. Read it for that. And if you like long discussions of how to run an estate, idk. The romance is secondary to Reggie’s development as a character and his struggle with his alcoholism, which I understand and I respect and am actually quite thankful for—but, unfortunately, it’s a distant second within the narrative. A little more effort could have been put in to make Alys seem to me as compelling? A little more angst and love and passion? A little more conversation that didn’t involve sheep? [Continue reading.]

FFORDE - The Eyre Affair

Proxy Brontës

There ought to be a term for the bookish adultery that compels you to actively search for echoes—or even reiterations—of books you’ve loved for the longest time. Then again, the brand of fidelity attached to this venture is a curious, if twisted, thing, too—you welcome things that remind you of the original, which would always, always have its fist wrapped around your fervently beating-for-it heart. I am talking about Jane Eyre. In this instance. [Continue reading.]

MILLER - Batman Year One

An education, in Bruce Wayne

The introduction Batman: Year One phrases it nicely: That if Frank Miller had rightly immortalized Batman’s Omega in The Dark Knight Returns, it only makes the most perfect sense that he could do the same with Batman’s Alpha. Year One is a refinement of Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s original Batman origin story—adding nuance where it called for it, adding grit, doing away with the slick camp of the late 1930s style, imbuing both alter egos with more gravitas. A gravitas that seems to have set the tone for all the Batman comics that would follow—fortunately for my angst-hungry heart. And. It’s the story of Bruce Wayne. [Continue reading.]