Sunday Lowdown #83

PANDEMIC GRATITUDE

We finally made it! This week’s gratitude is all centered around Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday. Gil @ Gil Reads Books brought Holiday’s romance novel to my attention, and Bill @ The Australian Legend goaded me into making it a read along to offset all the dark, depressing fiction we, as a book community, have been reading lately.

Paradise Cove was way better than I expected. Yes, the male protagonist is described as Jason Momoa’s Aquaman character, but he’s never the self-assured, possessive weirdo that we usually get in romance. In fact, he’s living one day at a time because his infant son died four years ago. The female protagonist is a doctor fleeing Toronto and heading for a small town where the only doctor retired. She’s giving it two years to save up some money out of the city and get over a toxic five-year relationship. The doctor and Aquaman look-alike decide to be friends with benefits, and we always know how that ends. That’s okay.

The banter and physical relationship comes easily, naturally, and I began to see the characters as real people. Jenny Holiday covers safe sex, vaccination, community support, trust building, grief, and partnership. All is done skillfully and in a mature way that made me think about my own life. Of course, I laughed a lot and had a giddy time, flying through the whole book in two days. When I moved on to a new book, a rather gloomy depiction of the Latinx community in short stories, I wished I were back at Moonflower Bay with Jenny Holiday’s characters. A totally please palate cleanser — and I’m going back to read the first novel, Mermaid Inn.

Let me know in the comments if you read Paradise Cove or any other romance/light and breezy novel and your thoughts on it!

THIS WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

I wrapped up my reviews of the Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden. The author says she originally wrote the trilogy as one book, but was persuaded to break it into three by an editor. Did you like The Bear and The Nightingale? Many people read it. Perhaps I’ve convinced you to finish the story in The Girl in the Tower and The Winter of the Witch?

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

A wonderful new fat-positive novel set in the context of a dating competition show, like The Bachelor, Kate Stayman-London delights readers with Bea, a blogger whose online rant against fakey dating shows that exclude real people lands her on the next season as the person to find love. Will the hunky contestants take a fat woman seriously? Review on Tuesday.

#ReadingValdemar kicks off with a new trilogy about Alberich, who once was in the cavalry of the monotheistic nation Karse, an incessant enemy of Valdemar and their tolerant ways. But a white horse with a divine spirit has other plans for this battle worn soldier. Exile’s Honor by Mercedes Lackey will be reviewed on Thursday.

Tara Lynn Masih is fairly well known for her work as editor of a flash fiction guide published by Rose Metal Press, but who is she as an author? On Thursday, I’ll share my interview with Masih in a Meet the Writer feature.

BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR PILE

I admit I have not read many books by Latina authors, and the couple I’ve read in 2020 disappointed me. The feeling doesn’t sit well with me, so I’m seeking more fiction by Latinas.

38 comments

  1. I’m glad your light-hearted read turned out to be rewarding! The book I picked – Agatha Raisin and the Witches’ Tree – was unexpectedly very grim, despite that series normally being the epitome of cheesy cosy mysteries. I’m going to have a look at my shelves and see what I can read this week that fits the bill for a fun book better!

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  2. Enticing looking new books and reviews to come! I have been reading Angela Thirkell’s WW2 novels in between non-fction stuff, and also Nadiya Hussain’s trilogy about a Bangladeshi Muslim family living in the UK which are fluffy but full of bite, too.

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  3. Having set you off, I’m sorry I didn’t read along with you, nor read anything light ‘n breezy really, though you couldn’t say the post I put up today, A Curious Intimacy is hard going, and it is a romance. Maybe be in my all recent audiobooks Patti Henry’s And Then I Found you comes closest.

    I look forward to the Erin Brockovich and to the Louise Erdrich – who I should look out for – and maybe even to What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia.

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    • That’s okay! You are a catalyst for good. Several people read along, or, if they couldn’t get Paradise Cove, sought out a romance novel they hadn’t planned on reading.

      I heard about the Erin Brockovich book on the Sunday morning news last weekend, and the Louise Erdrich is one a patron requested at the library. I’d heard of it but not read the synopsis before. It sounds interesting! I added the Appalachia because the gold standard book in the States about Appalachian people is Hillbilly Elegy, which I thought was awful. People on Goodreads recommend this What You Are Getting Wrong book for those who thought Hillbilly Elegy was a farce.

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  4. I’ve never seen Aquaman but I’ve seen pics of Jason so I’m here for it! I read a summery-book like this a few months ago and I felt the same way you did-a lovely little palate cleanser that seemed to prepare me for the more serious reads that were on my TBR. Yes, we know how romance novels are going to end, but that’s half the fun! Glad you enjoyed this 🙂

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  5. I just finished a good romance called Headliners by Lucy Parker. Jenny from Reading the End and Pauline from Smithereens blog recommended it. I enjoyed it! Thoroughly entertaining and the characters were pretty well-realized. Also, the sex was not smacking me in the face. It’s part of a five book series but I don’t think you need to read the others to enjoy this one (I haven’t yet.) Set in London so that’s a nice escape too.

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    • I’m so glad! Paradise Cove also appears to be part of a series, but it’s mostly people who live in the same town, so if you read one person’s story, that adds a layer, but it’s not necessary to read their story to understand someone else’s. I’m glad we all took a book breather and read something fun.

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  6. I’m glad you had such a good time with Paradise Cove!!! I really liked it too, and especially appreciated the fact that it went much deeper than the typical romance novel (as you mentioned too). I appreciate that Nora and Jake had a great attraction, but that their relationship was based on more than lust – they support each other really nicely! It was so much fun participating in this readalong – thank you for hosting it!

    Also – there’s another installment in the series coming out next year! It will focus on Maya and Law, which I’m so down to read.

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  7. I’m intrigued that the relationship in Paradise Cove started as friends-with-benefits. That’s what happened in Mermaid Inn as well! Though, everyone EXCEPT the friends-with-benefits knew it was more than that. Which is what made it amazing. I cannot wait for this book to come in — I need more light-hearted reads like that in my life.

    I commend you on seeking out other Latinx authors if you are struggling with their books. For what it’s worth, I love Isabel Allende’s historical fiction. Most of the other Latinx authors I’ve read are MG and YA authors, but I could recommend some of them too if you’re interested? What about the Latinx author works you have read isn’t working for you?

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    • I’m not really interested in historical fiction or MG/YA novels. My issue is often that the story feels exactly the same, which is common no matter who is writing the novel, but there is nothing there to make one author’s novel stand out. It’s always some hypersexual man who marries a girl who’s barely 18 and then cheats on her constantly while she tries to decide what to do with her life now that she’s attached to this no-good man. Her whoooooole family is a string of women married to men who constantly cheat and beat them. There has to be something else going on in the Latina community. There has to.

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      • Yeah, that’s what I figured you’d say. I think we’ve chatted about this before. I think MG/YA has started to change a lot in the last decade, though. The stories don’t feel as repetitive to me any longer — but I also might just be better at figuring out how to find good MG/YA books! It can be hard to find good books…

        Hm. None of the books I’ve read by Latinx author follow that plot. I wonder if that’s because these are NOT for an adult audience? I really enjoyed Like Water for Chocolate which has some of themes you mentioned above. But, what I’ve read by Isabel Allende doesn’t meet those tropes yet! Then again, historical fiction.

        How are you seeking books with alternative stories?

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        • Like Water for Chocolate has the man who marries his love’s sister to be close to her, but he isn’t a rampant cheat or woman beater, and the women don’t come from a long line of being beat on, so I’m not sure I see it as the type of book I’m avoiding.

          Hmmm. I’m basically reading synopses on Goodraeds and my library catalog that don’t mention the words cheat, abuse, death, or trauma.

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  8. I’m glad Paradise Cove seems to have lived up to expectations! There really can be something comforting about knowing exactly where a book is heading and then watching it play out. And it sounds like Holiday does a great job of infusing some deeper commentary in with a lighthearted story, which is something I always appreciate in a romance novel! I’ll definitely be keeping this author in mind the next time I’m ready to reach for a romance. And I’d love to see your impression of Mermaid Inn when you get to it as well!

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    • I started Mermaid Inn a day or two ago and keep reading it on breaks at work. So far, it’s not as complicated as Paradise Cove in terms of people’s feelings, but it does say a lot about what happens to people who go to college vs. those who don’t and what is success.

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