In no particular order:
The Darling Dahlia's and the Confederate Rose
Susan Witting Albert
I have read quite a few Susan Witting Alberts. And I am still not sure if I like them or not. They are somewhat interesting. If we were to compare books to food, these would be.... well, pretzels. Not bad for you, not really great for you, and not exciting. But I still like pretzels. I just wouldn't rhapsodize over them.
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria
Alright, this is a historical romance. I enjoy a trashy novel (as Justin calls them) occasionally. This book is an improvement on most trashy novels, because you don't actually have to wade through pages describing their love-making. The plot is okay. It is about English spies in France, during Napoleon's time. And of course, natch, the main spy is a young, delicate woman. The story is about her chaperone. So, sounds like it has potential. And I had never read this author. So I gave it a whirl.
It wasn't horrible. But the dialouge was annoyingly.... well unrealistic. It sounds like it was trying too hard. And then, you have to suspend your belief a lot. W.,e have Napoleon's spy network working against these two women and yet, they (the French spies) are complete dunderheads. They make novice mistakes all the time. And occasionally, it is just silly. At one point, the English spies are being pursued by the French and they unleash a big trunk of billiard balls to confound the horses. Whhhhat? I thought that originated with Laurel and Hardy or the Three Stooges.
This book, as a food, would be a pinterest creation. It really doesn't taste that good, is a bit of work, and ends up looking a bit silly and over done.
Happy Ever After
And while we are on the topic of trashy novels, here is another one. Nora Roberts has good plots. I always think, there is no way this one can't be good. We know it will end well because it is Nora Roberts, and with a good plot mixed in, how could it not be great? But for some reason, I roll my eyes a lot when I read Nora Roberts. They are formulaic. And why not? This woman has built a huge empire on her eye rolling fiction, so why mess up the formula? This was the last of a series of four books. And if you changed the names, you could probably switch any book with the other ones and not notice the difference. Each book has the full of feminine strength heroine falling in love with someone she deems unsuitable. And of course the macho cliche of a guy totally has the hots for her, but has never mentioned it. So she spends the first half of the book resisting, deciding she just won't be in love. Yeah, that will work. I would suggest she talk to her other three friends who had exactly the same plan. And why all this hesitation on their part? I would have made a boring romance novel, but I was always up for being loved and loving back. I didn't spend much of the time I was dating Justin trying to convince myself to not be in love with him. And yet, everyone else resists mightily. Or at least Nora Roberts would have you believe.
The dialogue in Nora Roberts drives me crazy as well. I never could put my finger on just why, but in reading another book this week, I found a quote that sums it up pretty well.
"It is not just the stupidity--it is the thoroughness with which it is kept up. To remember all that slang and not deviate into normal language here and there: to never say anything remotely interesting or thoughtful, even by accidental lapse--this requires a special kind of talent."
From--A Little Folly by Jude Morgan (see below)
And this exactly describes why Nora Robert's dialogue drives me crazy. It is constant slang. They always say "We done good," never, "That went really well!" And it just feels weird. These people always have pat responses. No one ever just goes "Oh my goodness. Really?" For instance, main character talking about the man she loves to one of her good friend's husband--
"I think Malcolm and I ended things last night"
"I'll be sorry if that is true. Can you tell me why?"
Now, granted, this friends husband is an English professor. But who doesn't make some kind of expression of surprise at surprising news. No one except spies, that's who.
"He can read just enough to get by, but he struggles with anything complicated"
"Illiteracy is more of a problem than most people realize."
No, "poor guy!" or even "Huh." Just a fact about illiteracy. Who are these people?
And despite all this, I still felt compelled to read all four books in this series. No wonder the woman is one of the most published authors in America today. But then, this is the way with most popular authors. They aren't the best writers, but they have a nicely packaged book where you know what to expect.
This book, if compared to food, would be Doritos. Even when you are eating them, you are thinking about the fake cheese dusting and wondering why on earth you are eating them. But you keep eating them.
A Little Folly
This book has a review on it that refers to Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. Whew. That takes some living up to! And yet, out of the five hundred "Jane Austen's of our time" (which is a total cop out for book reviewers at this point), Jude Morgan would be in the top five.
I enjoyed this book. It didn't feel like it was trying too hard. There were very few 21st century ideals running around the mind of this 1815 girl. She was interesting, relatable, and likable. The end of the book was a little over full of improbable events, but not so full that it was completely unrealistic.
Basic plot is following a brother and sister after their tyrannical father dies unexpectedly and leaves them with a fortune and a whole world (London) to explore. Love affairs, scheming characters, and a good ending ensue.
Compared to a food, this book is a really good, filling salad. Yummy, pleasing, but in the end, fluff.
Hilarious. Just hilarious. My only critique is the ending that leaves things a bit unsettled. But I laughed (out loud) a lot while reading this book.
Food would be pie. Entirely pleasant with a little bit of something healthy in there, covered up in sugary goodness.
Quarter Acre Farm
About a woman deciding to plant a garden and make 75% of her diet come from her garden. Funny, practical, and interesting. Really liked this book and is a great reference for gardening.
Compared to food, this book would be beef kebabs. Meaty, but fun.
Messengers of Truth
A Maisie Dobbs book
A good book, set in 1930's. These books are well written, pleasant, and thoughtful. I know I have included them in the list before, so I won't go into detail. London, female private investigator, World War I aftermath.
This book would be spaghetti in the food world. Everyone likes it, but it is more an everyday thing than a special occasion meal.
And now three Sophie Kinsellas.
I read this on a recomendation that said it was completely hilarious. And it was. I laughed heartily. But the ending was a little improbable.
Confessions of a shopaholic
Good, but the character was a bit annoying. I was expecting to totally get her, since I am love shopping and shouldn't be shopping due to bills, but she makes up these ridiculous lies to try to get out of paying her bills. And then goes and buys several overpriced thing. Then repeats cycle. But believe you me, I will be reading the rest in this series.
A woman has a traumatic car accident and looses three years of her memory. Which is when her life took a dramatic turn and is decidedly different. Took her bosses job, married a millionaire, and become obsessed with fitness. This book is all about trying to figure out how life got her to where she is. And this is a teensy bit of a spoiler, but apparently, she had been having an affair and had been about to leave her handsome, rich, dip of a husband for this adorable guy. I wish it had worked out that her husband turned out to be adorable. But still, it was hilarious. I felt a little unsatisfied at the end. I didn't know this other guy well enough. I liked him! I wanted to know him better!
Sophie Kinsella's would have to be compared to Heavenly Pie. Nothing too complicated, just delightful, yummy, fluff!
I love Georgette Heyers. But this one just didn't have enough romance in it for me. Both parties pretended to not love the other one up until the very end. It wasn't even really discussed. I do like a little mooshiness. But it was funny and interesting. A man, about to marry someone he doesn't like, comes across this young girl disguised as a boy who is running away to escape the cousin with eyes like a fish that she doesn't want to marry. Since the man is drunk when he meets her, he decides that he must help her find the childhood friend she had promised to marry when she was 12. Silliness, misunderstandings, a diamond necklace, thieves, a murder, and finally, they end up together.
This would have to be compared to chocolate chip cookies. Good at any time. In any situation.