Find it at your library!

Of course the day I’m reading a book with a prominent set of breasts on the cover is the day my boss asks me, “What are you reading?” as I saunter into the break room with my book.

Fortunately, there’s no shame in my reading game. I flashed her the cover with a smile and said, “It’s a lot like Game of Thrones.”

And I stand by the comparison. The Queen’s Bastard IS a lot like Game of Thrones--the TV show, not the books. You know how when you try to read the Game of Thrones books, you drown in extraneous junk about obscure characters who don’t matter? Yeah, there’s none of that here. Each scene is presented much the way it would be on the screen: the characters appear, stuff happens, and then we’re ushered smoothly on to the next scene. It’s like you’re an omniscient fly, somehow stuck to every wall in the castle right next to whatever shit is going down.

And lots of shit goes down. Belinda Primrose is, after all, a spy and assassin, as well as the unacknowledged bastard daughter of the queen. She’ll go to any lengths to protect her queen and by extension her country--up to and including sexing up and murdering her targets. I’ve seen some reviewers complain about her ruthlessness, but I have to wonder how many of those reviewers have watched a James Bond movie without batting an eye at 007’s promiscuity and cold-bloodedness. Mayhaps what really gets such readers’ tighty-whities in a bunch is the fact that the lusty murderer is actually a murderess? *sips tea*

Lord forbid a woman enjoy both her conquests and her line of work, amiright?

Anywhoodle, I love books that make me constantly question characters’ motives. Who’s on which side, who’s betraying whom, who’s lying, who’s cheating, who’s working for whom, who’s looking out just for their own interests, I love it all. That is this book from page 1, and it’s awesome. And there’s a sequel--excuse me while I go shove it into my face.

Find it at your library!

I don’t know nearly enough about Taiwan and its complicated history, which fact swiftly became apparent as I read Green Island. Ryan’s novel covers a sweeping number of years, focusing on the ripple effects within one family of the father’s decade-long imprisonment by Chinese nationalists. His family assumes he is dead, and his youngest daughter, our main character, can’t even remember what her father looked like because she was an infant when he was taken away. Imagine the tectonic shift that occurs when he arrives back home years later, a changed man integrating back into a changed family.

Her father isn’t the only one with political ideals to uphold. The narrator, once grown, and her husband also find themselves drawn into a dangerous web of secret meetings and risky alliances. I wish I had read more non-fiction on this topic before reading Green Island, so I could have felt the weight of the suspense more keenly. The main character is so quiet and reflective, her narration so understated, some of the impact was lost on me. If I’d had a better grasp on the historical foundation beforehand, I might not have wished for someone to come in with a megaphone all like “THIS PART IS SCARY” or “THAT RIGHT THERE IS SUPER SIGNIFICANT.”

Bottom line for me: more research needed.