subject/verdict: stuff I've been reading in two-sentence reviews [no. 2]

In which I use my forehead to hold my place while typing.
Like you do.
Here's another installment of subject/verdict, wherein I discipline myself to be concise in my literary commentary. Since the beginning of April I've read the following books.

Briggs, Patricia. Frost Burned (Ace Books, 2013). Mercy Thompson Series, #7. The continuing adventures of shapeshifter Mercy Thompson, now married to werewolf Adam Hauptman, as a group of mercenaries kidnap her pack on Thanksgiving Day and Mercy has to call in the assistance of all her human and supernatural allies to get them back. Those of you (like me) who worried the series might grind to a halt with the success of the marriage plot, worry no more -- and go enjoy the ever-expanding boundaries of this alternate universe.

Carriger, Gail. The Parasol Protectorate series, #1-5 (Orbit Books, 2009-2012). A delicious steampunk universe of vampires, werewolves, and soulless preternaturals delicately co-existing in Victorian London while soulless spinster Alexia Terribotti juggles social engagements, the attentions of an amorous (or possibly hostile) werewolf, and the friendship of effete vampire -- not to mention attempts on her life! These were a rip-roaring read for early summer, and I'm looking forward to picking up the first in her new series, Etiquette & Espionage.

Dyhouse, Carol. Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women (Zed Books, 2013). English historian of young women's lives Carol Dyhouse (Univ. of Sussex) seeks to synthesize over thirty years of research in this brisk survey history, beginning with the moral panic over the mythical "white slave" trade (late 19th-early 20th century) and ending with turn-of-the-twenty-first-century anxieties about the sexualization of young girls. Dyhouse's aim is breadth (within a British context) rather than depth, and historians of the subject might well bypass this text in favor of Dyhouse's scholarly work on women, education, and feminism -- still, Girl Trouble is an enjoyable read with a useful-looking bibliography. [Received as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers giveaway.]

Holiday, Ellen. Small Miracles (Dreamspinners, 2012). A writer friend of ours, whose pen name is Ellen Holiday, has written this charming Cinderella-style piece of m/m erotica novella in which a down-and-out young man runs into a handsome prince at a bar and has to decide whether to let their one-night stand turn into something more lasting -- and figure out how to do so on equal terms.

McGuire, Seanan. Midnight Blue-Light Special (Daw, 2013). InCryptids #3. New York's cryptid population is under threat from zealous ... As you've figured out by now, I'm back on something of a genre fiction kick, and was delighted to see that Seanan McGuire had a new installment of her InCryptids series out this spring -- Midnight did not disappoint!

(Since doing the screencap above, I've also been catching up on Seanan McGuire's short fiction, much of which is available for free download at her website. Definitely worth checking out!)

Passett, Joanne. Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeanne Howard Foster (Da Capo, 2008). Jeanne Howard Foster was the first librarian at the Kinsey Institute and author of the first known bibliography of literature featuring themes of passion between women: Sex Variant Women in Literature, first self-published 1956, then re-discovered by the emerging lesbian-feminist movement of the 1970s. This excellent biography is attuned to the incredible revolutions in gender and sexual history which Foster lived through, born in 1895 and living to age eighty-five -- she came of age in the era of passionate female friendship, experienced the pathologizing of lesbianism during the interwar years, and in retirement found herself the heroine of a new generation of dykes.

Riley, Naomi Schaefer. 'Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America (Oxford University Press, 2013). Though prompted by personal experience within a Jewish-Christian marriage, Riley's exploration of interfaith marriages is grounded in a nationwide survey she conducted of over two thousand interfaith couples and several hundred in-depth interviews. Overall, I was impressed by her thoughtful analysis and believe the study is a solid contribution to the field, though I was struck by her pessimism and sense of struggle: her overall fear that interfaith marriage will dilute religious traditions and lead to greater unhappiness for couples and less religious identity and grounding for their children. [Received as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers giveaway.]

Taormino, Tristan, Celine ParreƱas Shimizu, Constance Penley, and Mireille Miller-Youn, editors. The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure (The Feminist Press, 2013). Touted in many reviews as something new in the feminist discourse around moving-image pornography, The Feminist Porn Book actually builds on (and explicitly acknowledges) decades of pro-sexual-explicit-imagery feminist scholarship, activism, and performance. I particularly enjoyed the contributions by Clarissa Smith and Feona Attwood, Sinnamon Love, Dylan Ryan, Ingrid Ryberg, and Tobi Hill-Meyer ... though really there wasn't a weak piece among them (and how often can you say that about anthologies?).

Next up: to finish Best Sex Writing 2013, Born Losers: A History of Failure in America, Journeys that Opened Up the World: Women, Student Christian Movements and Social Justice, 1955-1975 and Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in the Age of Conservatism. Catch up with my reviews in the next edition of subject/verdict!

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