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JCBunnell has commented on (14) products.

Coronets and Steel
Coronets and Steel

JCBunnell, October 17, 2010

This novel was the very best kind of surprise; light and rich at once, like the froth atop a well-made espresso drink. As in Smith's dense fantasy epics, the characters are deftly and believably nuanced, but what readers have here is a brisk modern adventure akin to Elizabeth Peters' well-loved "Vicky Bliss" series -- if Vicky were an expert swordswoman with a missing identical cousin highly placed in obscure European nobility. Heroine and narrator Kim Murray has read enough of the right books to recognize a "Prisoner of Zenda" riff when she sees it, but that doesn't stop her from getting involved in royal intrigue, seeking out the truth behind the family history her grandmother had kept secret till now...and spending quality time with ruggedly handsome men, some more roguish than others. Add a sprinkling of ghostly presences and a pocket country with the odd habit of occasionally vanishing Brigadoon-like into the mists, and what you have is cross-genre appeal with a vengeance.
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Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro
Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

JCBunnell, June 19, 2010

The "who wrote Shakespeare" controversy may sound like a conspiracy theory only college professors could enjoy, but this book makes the subject interesting and accessible for a much wider audience. Shapiro focuses on people and personalities (including Sigmund Freud and Mark Twain!) over dry lit-crit and technical text-wrangling, with the result that newcomers to the issues will find themselves reasonably well grounded, and even those who disagree with Shapiro's conclusions may come away with new insights. The book most likely won't convince devoted Oxfordians to change their minds, but anyone with even a modest interest in Shakespeare's plays should find it absorbing and thought-provoking.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel (Toby Daye) by Seanan Mcguire
Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel (Toby Daye)

JCBunnell, September 4, 2009

I can't claim neutrality where Seanan McGuire is concerned -- I lapsed into unabashed fan status years ago. But if I hadn't already been hooked, Rosemary and Rue would've won me over anyway. The writing is crisp and vivid, the settings -- both San Francisco and Elsewhere -- are beautifully portrayed, and the characters come across as genuine personalities, not cookie-cutter mythical archetypes. Better yet, there's a twisty yet plausible plot that leads to a satisfyingly self-contained climax rather than a movie-serial cliffhanger. This is urban fantasy as it should be and too often isn't, with real emotion rather than painted-on angst.
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(12 of 13 readers found this comment helpful)

Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels

JCBunnell, May 15, 2009

The title exactly describes what this book delivers: a sharply barbed, vividly opinionated survey of today's romance genre that's both entertaining and thought-provoking. It isn't a scholarly study (although it mentions a couple), a love letter to the genre (although its authors are long-standing and very well read fans), or a how-to-write primer (although there's a lot of useful material for those who'd like to break in). Those with no background whatsoever may wish for a more explicit glossary, but as a field guide to its chosen genre, I definitely recommend this.
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(7 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)

Betty Crockers Cookbook 10TH Edition (2005) by Betty Crocker
Betty Crockers Cookbook 10TH Edition (2005)

JCBunnell, March 28, 2009

For sheer all-around usefulness, you can't beat Betty Crocker. I literally wore out an older edition of this cookbook, and quickly found when shopping for a replacement that nothing else matches the range of recipes and clarity of presentation offered in this edition. There are many helpful new charts, tips, and photos; I've kept a few pages from the old binder, but I've learned more than I expected from the new material. Gourmets and foodies may look to trendier writers, but for everyday family cooking, there's no better basic cookbook than this.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

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