Hunting for Happily Ever After: a massive pile of romance novel recs

romanceheart.jpg

Image by Rowan Heuvel. Used under a CC0 license.

Yes, you read that right. Romance novels. I’m not going to defend my taste in reading material  when Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (check out the podcast!) does such an excellent job of it. There’s also Kelly Faircloth over at Jezebel with an examination of just why romance gets such an undeservedly terrible rap, not to mention this long (and eye-opening!) history of Harlequin. For a more intellectual perspective, here’s tenured academic Catherine M. Roach’s first experience at the Romance Writers’ of America’s annual convention.

While some people’s experience with romance might be limited to Georgette Heyer, or Mills and Boons with ridiculously over-the-top-titles (The Playboy Sheik’s Virgin Stable-Girl, anyone?) the genre is actually hugely diverse, with something for just about everyone. This post is just a small sampling of what’s out there, with the caveat that it’s pretty heavily influenced by what I like to read – in other words, Regency romances, and heroines with spine and spunk, and a little bit of action mixed in with the romance.

So, without further ado… a whole raft of dashing heroes, feisty heroines, and happily ever afters under the cut!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

 

So I have a confession to make: I actually bought A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas on release day. Pre-ordered it, even. And then let it languish, sad and ignored, on my Kindle for a year and change between grad school and the fact that I’ve been leaning more and more towards non-fiction.

acotarAnd then I found the sequel (A Court of Mist And Fury) in the library, so of course I had to go back and finally read ACOTAR.

I have been a dingbat, y’all. An absolute dingbat, letting this absolute treasure of a book go unread so long. This book is if someone took about half a dozen things that make Poorva make happy seal noises (world-building! kick-ass women! beautiful imagery! fairytale retellings!), bundled them all up together, added in a spoonful of romance and a large dollop of gorgeous writing, and baked it all up into 474 pages of utter gorgeousness.

From Maas’ site:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it…or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
  
At its heart, this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast… but Maas adds so much depth and richness to it that it took me a while to realise it. None of the characters, even the secondary ones, are quite what they seem and while I’ll hush now before I spoil anything, there were pages that made me tear up – and gasp in delighted glee.

One thing I’ve always loved about Maas’ writing is her heroines. Like Celaena from Throne of Glass, Feyre is complex, and flawed. She makes mistakes, she has shortcomings – real ones – due to her background that almost wreck the story, she’s not perfect… but she’s also brave, and loyal, and willing to do anything for the people she loves.

And then there’s Tamlin. Oh, Tamlin. I loved him in this book, loved that he’s Fae and therefore Not Human in some very important ways (leaving aside that he transforms into an actual beast) but (without spoiling ACOMAF) all I can say is that Maas is bloody brilliant at foreshadowing, and I’m going to be eagerly rereading ACOTAR to see if I can find the breadcrumb trails she left.

The thing with a romance – and this is a romance at heart, even with all the brewing war and political intrigue – is that it’s easy for secondary characters to get lost in the bargain. I loved Lucien’s slow warming up to Feyre, and Alis helping her even as she thought Feyre a stupid human… and Rheysand, oh, Rheysand… but to say anything more would be spoiling it, so… run, don’t walk, and pick up A Court of Thorns and Roses (and A Court of Mist and Fury!)

Available at: Amazon.in | Flipkart | (fingers crossed) your local bookstore/library.
 

Webcrawl Wednesdays

Michael Jackson has a new album out. Yes, he’s still dead. I love this article on why we can’t say goodbye to dead musicians

 

I’m not the biggest fan of Nicholas Kristof, but I do like this article (in the wake of the recent kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria) on how the best way of combating militancy is education, and specifically educating girls.

 

Sadly, I have had no personal need of this (yet, at any rate) but it’s always good to brush up on good sex manners.

 

As a huge DC/Marvel fan, I love this illustrated guide to all the different kinds of comics out there.

 

Hugely important for anyone interested in writing The Other, especially from a position of privilege: Your Terra Incognita Is My Home

 

The 9/11 Museum has a gift shop, and some people aren’t happy about it. What do you think? Personally, I have no problems with it; gift shops provided needed income to museums… and a jumping-off point for guests to educate themselves further, both good things.

 

When I was in grad school- and again when I was working full-time- I often rarely had time to breathe, let alone relax. I’m bookmarking this article from Fashionably Light on ways to find calm even when you’re busy for the next time life gets hectic.

 

J’adore: French schoolboys wore skirts to protest sexism in schools. Allez les garçons! 

 

Webcrawl Wednesday

It’s been a busy week, loves, so no funny story this time, just links. 🙂

 

I was lucky to be taught The Tempest by a fantastic teacher back in high school, but even so, I love this list of Shakespearian sex jokes.

 

Wonder Woman? Power Man? Super Girl? If ever you’re confused by DC and Marvel’s list of heroes (and heroines) with pretty much the same names, Comics Alliance has a chart that breaks it down for you.

 

I’m worth 9 goats. What about you?

 

It’s sad to see how deeply racism is entrenched in American culture. The ice-cream truck, really? 

 

Guys. Feminists are not your friends

 

Octopuses (Octopi? Octopodes?) are fascinating. And kind of scary, to be honest.

 

I love this super-detailed post from The Fresh Exchange on travel planning. Great stuff!

 

Finally… I love this feature on P. Rajagopal, the (convicted murderer, apparently!) who founded Saravana Bhavan

Things I Love Thursday 08.04.14

Image

 

 

♥ Unexpected reconnections! A chance comment on a Facebook post led to chatting with an old HS friend and plans to meet soon. I can’t believe it’s been almost eight years since we graduated. Where did the time go?

 

♥ I’ve been cleaning things out in preparation for graduate school in August and it’s fun to see what kinds of things keep popping up. So far, I’ve found law school entrance exam preparation materials from 2007 (that my mum kept ‘just in case,’), my old high school hymn book, a whole bunch of stuffed toys (that are going to charity so they can comfort someone who needs it, as much as I’ll miss them) and even an old Encarta 97 CD. (Does anyone else remember MindMaze? I loved that game so very much.)

 

♥ GO SUPER KINGS! I haven’t been following the IPL as closely as I did before- quite frankly because I usually forget that there’s a TV in the house, even if my Mom isn’t watching it, but I will always support my team. And yes, I know there’s a lot of controversy… but you know what? I don’t care. I believe in my boys. #whistlepodu.

 

♥ My new pen pal! If you haven’t heard of International Geek Girl Pen Pals, I strongly encourage you to check it out. It’s a website that uses your geeky interests to match you up with another geek girl (or boy!) so you can both exchange letters. I just got my first match, and I’m super excited!

 

small pleasures

 

stickers // funky hair ties // The Les Mis soundtrack (and yes, I know Russell Crowe can’t sing) // pomegranate-flavoured lip balm // finally having an editorial calendar for this blog // piping hot filter coffee // finishing my first paper book in ages!

Webcrawl Wednesdays

So my big news is… I got into graduate school! This August, I’ll be heading to the United States for my second Master’s degree at a small private college in California. My new school is one of the best in the world for my subject, AND everyone I’ve met so far is super-nice, so I’m very excited!

 

On that note, here’s a study that shows that taking notes by hand works BETTER than typing them on a computer

 

I had my issues with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but I’m loving this super-long, super-detailed review. [MASSIVE spoiler warning, for the record.]

 

Time for the economy-size boxes of Kleenex, ladies, George Clooney is apparently off the market. While the majority of coverage is, as usual, barf-inducing, I’m loving this Guardian article on the gendered reporting of famous people (like Mr Clooney, and like Jennifer Aniston) getting engaged/married: So ‘debonair’ George has been ‘tamed’, while ‘tragic’ Jen was ‘saved’ – no surprise there

 

And this Open Letter to the Future Mrs Clooney on proving the infamous Princeton Mom wrong is priceless. And proves that there’s hope for the rest of us. 

 

Sexism in geek culture- and especially in comics culture- is a huge, huge problem, especially when misogyny on the internet spills over into real-world threats and harassment. I’m beyond pleased to see Comic Book Resources take a stand and clean out their forums. Comics are for everyone, not just small-minded trolls. 

 

I could rant for days about how much it infuriates me when female celebrities (looking at you, Shailene Woodley) are dismissive of the very feminism that fought to get them all the rights and privileges they enjoy, but here, have this much better written (and less expletive-filled) article instead. 

 

Anyone who has the slightest interest in tech, geekery, or geek culture needs to read this article on WHY geeks are so sexist. I’m not kidding when I say reading it felt like being whacked upside the head by a clue-Mjolnir.

 

For something that does not involve -isms of any kind, important as they are: Honest Company Slogans.

 

And finally, Noah Webster’s failed attempt to change American English into lolcat; or, 26 changes that didn’t catch on.

 

 

Things I Love Thursday 01.05.2014

Image

 

 

♥ Alone time. I know some people have a thing about going out to eat or watching movies alone, but when a friend unexpectedly cancelled on me last week, I wound up going to see Captain America and grab some crepes by myself, and had a great time!

 

♥ catching a glimpse of the indelible ink on my finger. Despite my feelings about the field of candidates this year, I’m grateful for the ability to vote- and to live in a country that makes it as easy as possible to do so.

 

♥ Sitting down and reading a non-trashy, non-political magazine- I decided to treat myself with an issue of Wired just because, and it was great. I definitely need to do more of my non-work reading on paper rather than screen. 

 

♥ Making lists and planning the details of a BIG EVENT I can’t talk about quite yet (more details as it happens!) My little organisation-loving heart is in seventh heaven.

 

small pleasures:

 

pink fountain pens // polo mints // nutella gelato // the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast // silver nail polish // fresh mangoes // gorgeous thank-you note cards from Paper Theatre // cat naps // finding my blogging muse again

Review: Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

Image

 

 

When my mom gave me Lean In as a birthday present, I have to admit, I was a little nonplussed. Lean In was supposed to be for women in the upper echelons of the corporate world who struggled to balance work and family life; how much relevance would it have to a twenty-something creative freelancer with absolutely no interest in either a corner office or the ‘mommy track’?

 

A lot, to my pleasant surprise. 

 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sheryl Sandberg, she is the COO of Facebook, and her 2010 TED talk, ‘Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders,’ about how women unintentionally hold themselves back at the table, and what they can do to change that, is the basis of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

 

Although Sandberg does touch on the endemic institutionalised sexism and discrimination faced by women- a running theme through the book is the Heidi/Howard study, a 2003 Columbia showed that people’s impressions of two entrepreneurs with the exact same qualifications and personal characteristics varied vastly depending on whether they were told that the entrepreneur was male or female- she focuses mostly on the internal barriers holding women back. 

 

Some of the sections, although excellent advice (Make Your Partner A Real Partner, about splitting childcare responsibilities, and The Myth Of Having It All, about the dangerous, damaging quest to be a perfect mother and a perfect worker) weren’t really relevant to me, but there were two that really resonated- Your Career is a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder, and Are You My Mentor. Sandberg’s advice about there not being one way to the top, and about mentoring and both asking older, senior people for advice and helping others out is worth the price of the book, in my opinion. 

 

The real value of the book, though, is in the later pages. In one of the strongest sections of the book, she places the burden of achieving equality on the shoulders of both sexes, pointing out that both men and women have an interest in breaking strict gender roles and barriers, both in the workplace and the home. After all, men should no more be penalised for wanting to sit at the kitchen table than women for wanting the corner office.

 

Lean In is not without its flaws- for one thing- and Sandberg makes this clear in the opening chapters- it is targeted to educated professional women with some amount of privilege, and does not really speak to the needs of working-class women. Second, I wasn’t a fan of the random India-based statistics, since the issues affecting Indian women do not always match those faced by their Western counterparts. Perhaps Sandberg thought to give her book an international flavour, but she would have been better served by omitting it completely.

 

Finally… those of you expecting Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead to be another Second Sex or Feminine Mystique will be disappointed; it is by no means a feminist manifesto, although Sandberg herself claims the title. What it is is a smart, solid business book that should be read by everyone. 

 

 

25 Things!

Twenty-five! The quarter-century club, like one of my friends called it. I’m not one for big parties, but I do love this idea from Sarah over at Yes and Yes– a list of things to do every year, the number of things equal to how old you’re turning! So without further ado, here’s my list of 25 in 25:

 

 

1. Watch a CSK match live.

 

2. Go vegan for a week

 

3. Wear high heels every day for a week.

 

4. Watch Sholay

 

5. Make milk burfis

 

6. Write a paper letter

 

7. Go to a Pride parade

 

8. Read a literary book

 

9. Have dinner at a FANCY restaurant

 

10. Find the perfect red

 

11. Complete a jigsaw puzzle

 

12. Buy a lottery ticket

 

13. Go on a heritage walk

 

14. Sing in public

 

15. Stay awake 24 hours

 

16. Touch type 60 wpm

 

17. Have a movie marathon

 

18. Eat a brownie from CHOKOLA

 

19. Write a will

 

20. Get a full checkup

 

21. Get rid of 25 things

 

22. Donate blood

 

23. Visit a city I’ve never been before

 

24. Do a tarot reading for someone

 

25. Read the Silmarillion

 

 A lot of these are way, way out of my comfort zone (I haven’t sung in public since… 2000?) but I’m excited to try all of them.

 

Do y’all have any goals for this year? I’d like to hear all about them!

Webcrawl Wednesday, change is in the air edition

Displaced Desi has a new look! There will be more changes coming to the blog in the future, for the better, I hope! For now, though, here’s this week’s links!

 

Fascinating write-up of a journey on the Vivek Express, the longest train journey in India.

 

Feminispire asks: Does Your Lifestyle Make You Unworthy of Feminism?

 

@#!%&! As someone who has a bit of a potty mouth, I love this history of swearing from Salon.

 

We Have Always Fought. If you write- hell, even if you don’t- drop everything and read this article about how wrong we’ve got the narrative of female characters, especially those who fight.

 

Why do Men Put Me In The Girlfriend Zone? Priceless.