Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Soup - October 20

Sunday Soup is... a little of this, a little of that, not too much work, and hopefully a tasty result.

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
Yet more deletions -- apparently, several online retailers are freezing up their self-publishing offerings to try to scrub them for porn, while also somehow attempting to not appear to be censoring. Good article at Gigaom, and an interesting personal slant from a successful author who also happens to have a deep technical understanding of what's being attempted.

The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith has readers stirred up.  Mandi loved it, Jane Litte loved it, Brie abandoned it. These sorts of reactions make me pretty curious, but at the moment I'm holding off.  Doesn't sound like my kind of story, but you never know.

I absolutely loved this piece about the reader experience, and how authors craft it: Romantic Attractions: The Thrills and Spills of the Reader’s Theme Park. Great fun, and you have to love an extended, well-sustained metaphor.

I really enjoyed this highly personal piece from John Scalzi about the books that influenced him. There's no bloviating about how these are The Best or The Most Important, just ones that matter a lot to him, personally, and a few words on the how and the why.

Titles That Caught My Eye ... 
A new ingredient for the soup-- books I might read; I'd love to hear what you think about them if you've read any of them or are also anticipating them.

Sarah Antonelli is on my radar now, due to Jessica's review over at Radish. With a tagline like "Quirky Romance Novels for Grown Ups…and Smart Asses," I feel I have to give it a shot, even though the premise of a quantum physicist who is also an undercover spy gives me a bit of pause.

Couldn't help but nab Coreene Callahan's latest Fury novel: Fury of Desire. Looks like special pricing for this week too; a nice price at $3.99 for a full-length book.

Amy over at Unwrapping Romance reviewed a book this week that made my eyebrows go way way up: The Sheik Retold, giving authorial credit to both Victoria Vane, a modern author, and the original author, Edith Maude Hull.  I read the original over a year ago now and just have not been able to put my thoughts about it into any coherent order.  As to the re-telling, I believe the book is now public domain but I have all kinds of questions about the ethics of putting both names on that, and whether any contact was made with Hull's heirs to use her name. Still, I am pretty interested in reading it.

What I'm reading
Just finished up Nora Roberts' The Last Boyfriend. I love her books so much. I love the way she writes kisses, especially first kisses, and the way her characters' professions inform their points of view. I love the way she chooses professions that are about doing, and making. You don't see cubicle jockeys in these worlds; there's a physicality to the characters' lives that I just... well... love. OK, I'm repeating myself. But honestly, nobody does it like Nora.

I'm working my way through Jill Shalvis' Blue Flame, which was a special bonus on top of It Had to Be You.  I'm finding it a bit slow, but I'm also having an extremely interrupt-driven week at home, so it may or may not be any fault of the text.  I want to see the characters through, so it's got that going for it.  The hero is an injured firefighter, and it seems unusual to me that the injury is bad enough that he keeps attempting to do romance-hero-typical-physical things, and well, kinda failing. So the heroine just does them for him.  It's interestingly off-kilter that way.

I finished of the Kat Richardson SeaWitch that I mentioned last week.  Shivery-creepy and delicious.  Great ghost story and another new twist in the mythology.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
I haven't really tried anything new this week. I'm enjoying more of the Abita Pecan and Sam Adams Cherry Wheat. I guess I'm kind of over the pumpkin ales, although I actually did quite like the ones I tried. Since it is still October, and the pumpkin ales still abound, I did a bit of research on "best of" articles, and I liked HuffPo's list the best -- it includes broadly-available beers and based on 5 or 6 articles, I think they caught most everybody's top favorites in this list. The one I'm most interested in trying now is the Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale -- it's local, and highly regarded in quite a number of these "best of" lists.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Soup - October 13

Sunday Soup is... a little of this, a little of that, not too much work, and hopefully a tasty result.

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
I may have a little crush on Alexis Hall.  It started with this interview at Wonkomance, which made me read Glitterland, and now I find out that he manages to express everything that is amazing about Meljean Brook's Heart of Steel with humor, intelligence, and eloquence. Perfect.  Because everything IS better with sky pirates.

I think this is the best summary I've read about the whole GoodReads situation, from the bullying to the badly-behaving authors to the shelf deletions.  It's thorough, apparently unbiased, and I thought, pretty insightful. I think she's dead right about this:
What’s been going on at Goodreads and in Amazon discussion boards and on Twitter are more than just the usual Internet mishegoss, however. These are epochal convulsions, writ small. They’re the result of significant changes in the relationship between authors and their readers, and those changes have two causes: the boom in self-publishing and the rise of social networking.
As a voracious reader, I have a stake in this revolution in the publishing world, but it's not my livelihood.  I'm finding it interesting and kind of exciting to see how the rules are being re-written, and to be a part of it in a small way as a blogger.

Titles That Caught My Eye ... 
A new ingredient for the soup, and somewhat self-explanatory, I think. These are books I might read; I'ld love to hear what you think about them if you've read any of them or are also anticipating them.

Laura Florand's Chocolate series, rec'd by Nalini Singh
Nora Roberts has a new paranormal coming out, and just in time for Halloween: Dark Witch. via @ChloeNeill
The Trouble with Mojitos. Re-tweeted by @NetGalley. I just think the title sounds like a lot of fun.
When the Marquess Met His Match. I haven't read Guhrke yet, and I don't know why. I feel like I should check her out.
David Eggers isn't my usual kind of author, but this review made me want to read his latest, The Circle.

What I'm reading
I hit the library with my kids last weekend and ended up grabbing a couple of semi-random reads off their recent release table. I've had my eye on Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost for quite some time and finally swooped it up.  It was everything you want from a romantic vampire UF series, plus explosions and carnie acts.

I'm about halfway through Kat Richardson's Seawitch, and I think I have the hook figured out. Like everything in her Greywalker series, there are complications galore and the super creepy ghosty vibe that makes it just perfect for October reading. I'm enjoying getting to know Detective Solis better, too.

Just last night finished an ARC of Laura Kaye's Hard As It Gets.  Bit of a mixed bag, but overall not bad.  Review upcoming.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
I'm back on my Sam Adams Cream Ale kick, and I also tried a seasonal Abita Pecan Harvest Ale. I liked it, but it seems to be more proof that I do not have a very subtle palate; I don't think I would be able to identify a real pecan flavor to it. But it was very nice, a bit sweet, a little more hops than my favorite beers but I rather liked it.  Perhaps this is the elusive "balance" that beer descriptions frequently use.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Soup - October 6

Sunday Soup is... a little of this, a little of that, not too much work, and hopefully a tasty result.

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
Sometimes, it's hard to believe what people get wound up about.  Even my techie buddies heard about an article at Dangerous Minds, and then "Ravished by a Triceratops" was reviewed on Smart Bitches.  @EvilWylie's imagination was captured and Twitter was fairly lively on Wednesday as book people pondered this phenomenon. I have to give some credit to the authors though; these books are written by a duo of college girls in Texas and I thought their interview was quite poised.  I have to say I blinked a little about her advice for making sure you have good cover art:
 ...make good book covers or hire someone who can (you can find good royalty-free pictures to use for cheap; is a good place and you can hire someone on to make you a cover for $5)
But hey, it looks like it's working for her, so no hate from me.

Speaking of doing what works, I thought this article about author websites was fairly surprising. I don't ask a lot of an author website -- have your booklist, and the date of your next book due out. If reading order is important, list that. If you make appearances, list those, and keep it current. It doesn't seem like that would take too much time or effort. One reason that WASN'T listed is that many publishers have author pages on their sites -- I could see that maybe they'd prefer to drive traffic there and maybe make changing publishers a bit more painful?

The argument about cost/benefit is compelling though. What we really want from our favorite authors is more stories; fancy websites are purely optional.

I enjoyed this discussion on droit du seigneur sparked by historian and historical author Katharine Ashe. This is such a staple of old-skool medievals -- or maybe the couple that I ran across just made THAT much of an impression on me at the time. Yet more evidence of the ongoing fascination with the power dynamic in romance, through the centuries.

I am officially registered for RT14! The whole enchilada, and I have to say, I'm a wee bit giddy. I'm planning to arrive on Tuesday, and I'm hoping I can make my arrangements to get there in time for a scrapbooking event because that is another wheelhouse of mine. I'm also pondering a bit about trying to organize something for bloggers -- it won't be official, most likely, but maybe a "hey everybody, how about we all meet in the bar at a certain time, mmkay?" kinda thing. Also pondering: trading cards?

What I'm reading
This past week, I have continued my binge on Darynda Jones' Charley Davidson series. I finished The Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet yesterday and I'm dying (heh) to get my hands on the last one. I have a friend that's offered to lend it to me though, so in the interests of my book budget, I'm taking a little breather and have just started in on Jeaniene Frost's Twice Tempted. I was really pleased when she kicked off an independent series because the long Night Huntress series just seemed a bit daunting; however, it's becoming clear to me that I'm not going to be able to resist binging on that one too.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
Here in Seattle, we finally got some gloomier, cooler weather and I am thinking of what might go in the actual soup for Sunday dinner. I've been craving a good black bean soup, but haven't made it happen yet. Not much in the way of beer adventures this past week; I've been to the Rock Bottom brewery twice lately for lunch. Their Belgian white was good but did have that apparently authentic "feety" flavor, so I'll probably avoid in the future. Their Rocktoberfest special was just what I like though, medium-dark, a little sweet, and smooth without being super-heavy. I might have to head back soon for that.


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