Sometimes I read things that aren't fanfiction, and in 2021 I'm trying to do better at this. Here are my totally unsolicited opinions on the books I'm reading. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
If you have a book to recommend, drop me a line. I favour science fiction, magical realism, fantasy, dystopia, speculative fiction, contemporary romance, crime thrillers*, mysteries and the occasional classic or historical fiction. I do not enjoy paranormal romance or Westerns, but I'll try anything if it has good prose and finely written characters.
*note: I'm sick to death of crime thrillers featuring a beautiful dead woman and the rest of the cast is a sausage party. Give me feminist takes on that trope, especially queer lit, and if you're gonna kill the gays or the girls, there had better be a damn good reason for it.
mystery, crime and thrillers
Rob Thomas - The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars)
I love Veronica Mars. Love the show, love every single character, love the snappy lines and the bubblegum outfits and the painful class divides and the glitzy, overblown intrigue. Most of all, I love Veronica herself, with all her marshmallow-centred, messed-up, hard-edged cool.
I was really hoping this book would live up to the series, but it seems like the actors and the dynamics don't really translate to the printed page, and I couldn't overlook the flaws in the story the way I can when I watch the show. Spoilerising a crime novel is bad form, so I won't, but I will say that this book gave us a twist that could've been hugely satisfying but ended up being a soap opera. A little disappointing.
But Wallace, Mac and Veronica are as loopy and savvy a trio as they ever were, and Keith melts my heart. So there's that.
Megan Abbott - Queenpin
Once upon a time I wrote a fanfic that was set in an AU in the 1940s; a detective noir with a femme fatale and a plucky PI and a shady hero-of-sorts. And sometimes I want to go back and write a sequel - maybe a '50s gang heist set in Mexico - because I loved inhabiting that world. The jazz cool and the curling cigarette smoke and the girdles and the snakeskin, and the women who trod that razor-fine line between tough and vulnerable, between respectable and powerful.
That's how Queenpin makes me feel.
The writing is glorious (With her, you couldn't tell with laughter or smiles or words even. She didn't wear it like that. You could tell from something in her that came out once you knew her bone deep like I did.) I felt like I was there, in that world of gin joints and smoky back alley casinos and seamed stockings. I could barely understand some of the slang, but it didn't even matter. I could feel how badly the unnamed protagonist wants out of the life she can see stretching ahead of her - working class, marry a factory boy, have his kids, maybe be happy but always be struggling - and into something glamorous and sharp and fast. And I wanted to pull her away from the mess she makes for herself and hold my breath and egg her on at the same time, because she wants a life that's raw and dangerous and that's exactly what she gets.
I will definitely read more Megan Abbott.