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Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas.

Historical romance novel about a country gentlewoman and author named Sara Fielding and a self-made man/gambling den owner named Derek Craven. I've bitched on my tumblr and twitter about this book, albeit obliquely, not so much because it's particularly bad but because it uses the Depraved Bisexual trope for the main antagonist (a noblewoman and former lover of Derek's) and as a queer girl that was kind of a slap in the face.

Anyway. The actual plot is that Sara's come to London to do research for one of her novels- she primarily writes about contemporary social issues, and her latest novel is about gambling- when she stumbles across the hero being assaulted by some strange men. She shoots one of Derek's attackers and drags him off to his club, where her whole "saved the beloved boss" and general Plucky Girl tendencies endears her to the staff, so she's allowed to drop by every now and then for research purposes. Derek isn't too happy about this, mostly because he's increasingly attracted to Sara but also believes she's too good for him and he's incapable of love and angst angst angst.

Besides Derek's Issues their relationship is also complicated by past romantic entanglements (the aforementioned Depraved Bisexual Lover of Derek's, and Sara's Respectable But Dull, Somewhat Sexist, And Wimpy Almost-Fiance) getting involved and a rather shortsighted decision on Sara's part. (Which made me cringe for like a solid chapter and a half, although I found her perfectly competent for the rest of the book, so.)

There's a bunch of sexual abuse/rape themes in the book: It's suggested that Derek's ex-lover's mental issues are due to her being forcibly married off to a much older man when she was a teenager, she's basically a violent stalker towards Derek and eventually Sara, she at one point bribes a man to rape Sara (the man does not succeed but Sara does need to be rescued by Derek and it's an unpleasant experience for her), and eventually kidnaps Sara and suggests that she keep Sara as a sex slave.

Anyway, if the plot super intrigues you and none of the stuff I've mentioned seems like it would bother you, you might want to give it a look? But otherwise, I'd skip over this one.

The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi.

So fun fact about this graphic novel: many years ago I was at a church convention down in Maine. The church itself was right near a library and, being a shy kid who liked exploring and got bored with most of the actual church activities easily, at one point I was able to head there and read. It's here I picked up The Stonekeeper, read it in a single sitting, and then was unable to read it again for what was probably over five years. I was thus very pleased to not only find a copy of it in the local library, but of other books in the series- not only did I get to refresh my memories, but it looks like after all this time I'll get to find out what happens next, whenever I next visit the library.

The story starts out with a girl called Emily and her parents, who are headed off somewhere to pick up Emily's brother Navin. Unfortunately the car gets into an accident on the way there, and in a rather horrifying sequence Emily and her mother are unable to rescue Emily's father from the car, and are forced to watch as he falls to his death off a cliff.

Two years later the family's dealing with financial issues as a result of said father's death, and as a result they've wound up moving to a spooky old house in the middle of nowhere that once belonged to their great-grandfather, a reclusive puzzlemaker named Silas. Emily and Navin soon find their great-grandfather's library, and a hidden amulet that Emily snatches up. Just when the family turns in for the night, they hear a strange noise in the basement... and when they go to investigate, their mother is kidnapped by a horrifying tentacled monstrosity.

The children are soon trapped in an alternate world known as Alledia, and must rescue their mother with the help of the amulet and a variety of machines created by their great-grandfather.

It's a pretty standard children-go-on-adventure-in-another-world setup, which distinguishes itself, to me, by being pretty fucking creepy. Alledia is not particularly colorful or pretty (though we only see a small part of it in this book) with a cold and foggy look to it that you'd expect more from a horror setting than a children's fantasy, and the majority of residents in the first book are slimy, tentacled creatures with too many sharp teeth. Not to mention I'm sideeying the amulet itself, which frequently reminds Emily of the importance of gaining power and encourages her, a literal child, to kill the man who kidnapped her mother.

Anyway, being a comic book, I went and googled for some images, so you can get an idea of the art for yourself:









 

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