Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sunday Soup - December 6

In The Soup This Week... JR Ward, Ilona Andrews, Caroline Linden, Shelly Bell, and Jayne Ann Krentz

Soup Dish:  on my mind
It's been a busy week. I'm getting a lot of holiday shopping done; a lot of reading, and a lot of thinking about the social and political happenings. There's a lot going on out there.

I've referred to Jayne Ann Krentz's Bowling Green speech a few times over the course of this blog, and at some point, sadly, it was taken down off the web.  In this week's interview, she alludes to some of the same material, about popular fiction celebrating heroic values (in the classical sense), and why that's the reason it's both popular and persistent.

Here's a pop-science approach to male characteristics that have been proven in studies to be attractive to (het) women.  Of course, none of these will surprise readers of romance, since pretty much all of them feature frequently in hero descriptions.  Although the "limbal ring" is some new vocabulary for me.

Book Riot always delivers, this time with some really lovely editions of classics for the young readers on your list

What I'm reading
JR Ward's Blood Kiss was.... ready?.... fan-freakin'-tastic.  Best thing she's written since before Phury.  I really really liked the "weed-out" scenes for the trainees.  If you're not up to speed, Blood Kiss is the first in a spinoff (that isn't really a spinoff?) series from the Black Dagger Brotherhood, that follows a younger generation of vampires who have signed up to be trained to help defend the race.  The characters are post-trans, unlike the early training days of John Matthew, Blaylock, Quinn, and Lash, which was a good choice IMO.  Some of the characters have a certain recycled feel, but overall I am very happy with this book. Great central couple, a secondary arc with Butch and Marissa, just the right amount of sequel-baiting, and a welcome lack of other multiple arcs.  A bit shorter than what we've gotten used to from JR Ward, but by no means skimpy at 350 pages or so.  Strong recommend.

What could possibly follow that act? Why, Ilona Andrews' Sweep In Peace, of course. I really loved the first book and this one was just wonderful. The magic is just so intriguing. I'd say this stands alone reasonably well, but they're both so good, if you haven't read Clean Sweep, you won't regret picking it up.   And while we're on the topic, Andrews' has an excerpt from the upcoming Kate Daniels novella posted on their site -- Chapter 1, Magic Stars.

Written in My Heart, by Caroline Linden, was a sweet little short. At 33 pages, it's more of a vignette than a fully-realized story, as there is no real conflict other than distance. It's full of longing and sweet, innocent love and made a wonderful palate cleanser between darker more intense stories.

I also read last week's featured author, Shelly Bell's, first installment in her White-Collared serial. I've been avoiding serials in general, because I'm not a big fan of cliff-hangers and the pricing can be a little off-putting when you add everything up.  I might be coming around though.  Mercy has good characters, great sexual tension, and while the ending does make you want to read on, the story itself had a satisfying resolution, even though there is an open series arc. So like everything else that I sometimes avoid or sometime seek out based on a format or trope, it [almost] always boils down to how well the author executes. I'm not exactly sure how the whole series is structured, but the first installment opens with a graphic torture/murder scene and kicks off an arc regarding the husband of the victim, his lawyer, and his legal intern.

That's it for me this week. Hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

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