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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Book Round-Up

1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline:An interesting look at a time period when mysterious "Sea Peoples" attacked nations throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. Cline's thesis is that the Sea Peoples were actually not as mysterious or as unified as scholars previously thought, and that there were a variety of interconnected factors, events, and changes that led to the collapse of so many civilizations.  The book is well-researched, but a little repetitive; I think it would have worked better as a long journal article rather than a book.

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev:A delightful romance with Indian protagonists.  There is a lot of melodramatic plot, befitting the Bollywood influence, but fortunately the prose isn't too purple.  The best part was the glimpse into Indian cultures, and the differences that arise in such a culturally diverse country -- north and south, city and country, modern and traditional.  Also, the food; I've been craving Indian food ever since I read this.

Season for Surrender by Theresa Romain:This starts out like the typical Regency romance, with an aristocratic rake, a virginal spinster, debauched nobles, a no-nonsense elderly family member, and an eeeeeevil nemesis.  But then, the rake and the spinster actually talk to each other.  A lot.  And in the process they get to know and trust each other, and learn about themselves and what they really want.  As a result, the expected happy ending for the couple was absolutely earned and quite satisfying.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke:After re-reading Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, of course I re-read these stories set in the same universe.  They are wonderfully English and atmospheric, and beautifully enhanced with illustrations by Charles Vess.  Ms. Clark, please write more!

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger:A modern take on the epistolary novel, comprising of emails, notes, memos, legal briefs, court filings, statutes, and caselaw.  Sophie's handling of her first (and only) divorce was fun and frothy, if a bit unrealistic; the memos between her and her partners are remarkably casual and personal -- good for narrative purposes, but a lawsuit waiting to happen in the real world.  The novel is set right around the time I began practicing law, and I finished the book all nostalgic for that time and thinking maybe I should go back to litigation (ha!).

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