Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Soup - December 29

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...
Happy holidays, whatever version you may (or may not) be celebrating as the calendar year draws to an end. This is the last Sunday Soup of 2013! It's been totally a frantic month for me, and I have neglected the Soup, my usual book-related feeds, AND my actual reading. So, maybe we'll just have a light consomme' this week.  
The Conversation We Never Have - an interesting article regarding some uncomfortable truth about starving artistry versus something resembling a patronage system. Maslow would agree, I think (Maslow's hierarchy might be the only thing I remember from high school intro to psych, other than something-about-Freud).

I loved this review by Leander of a romance classic, Angelique. If I have read this book (and I may have) I don't remember it. But even though the review is not a rave, it kind of made me want to read it anyway.
Everyone in Romlandia has opinions about How Reviews Should Be, and particularly on the topic of Nice vs. Snarky. I've shared mine before. I rather like how Megan McArdle lays it all out. People can and should and will review exactly how they want to -- this is one way that I agree with.

Best of Lists, everywhere! They're out there. Everywhere you look, you are in danger of severe swelling of your to-be-read list. Frankly, I'm avoiding them until after I have mine done... at least, I'm hoping to get something like that published this week....

Catching My Eye - titles making their way toward my TBR...

A Home for Wayward Husbands by Johnee Cherry- a compelling review from Jackie Weger.  

Conquering Passion by Anna Markland, profiled on a new-to-me blog, Medieval Romances. I do love a good Conquering Norman.

What I'm reading
If you can believe it, I am still in the middle of the Sarah MacLean and Laura Kinsale titles that I mentioned several weeks ago.  Seriously no time for reading in ages.

That's it for this week!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Soup - December 15

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

The soup is a bit of a leftover concoction this week. You ever make that soup? Where you've got odds and ends that are maybe not the freshest tidbits but they're too good to just let go? Yeah, I've got some stuff stored up from a few weeks back now, so bear with me.  

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
I have a half-finished post in my draft folder about posts on reviewing that have influenced me.  My canon, if you will. Just this morning, I found a new one to add to the canon: the Mmph, by Mary Ann Rivers. While it's not about reviewing particularly, it IS about reader reaction, which is maybe 80% of reviewing, in my opinion. Just go read it, if you haven't already.

Lavyrle Spencer is one of the first authors that I went completely nuts for. I still have a fairly extensive collection of her work in hardback. Morning Glory is one of my favorites, partly because it is set in the 30s or 40s, which makes it really unusual, and that plus the rural aspect made me think of how my grandmother raised her family, so I felt an extra tie to the narrative. So I absolutely loved Willa's close reading published in Heroes and Heartbreakers.  I feel a re-read coming on.

Your Ability to Can Even - I just saw this yesterday via a link at The Art of Simple. I kind of adore internet expressionism (I just made that up), mainly for humorous effect. This article is an eloquent and passionate defense of this evolving "dialect."

Romance makes NPR Best Books Aside from being a nice utility for helping you choose books for others, the romance genre is well represented. Lauren Dane, Anne Gracie, Sherry Thomas, Juliana Gray, Sarah MacLean, Molly O'Keefe, and Kristan Higgins do the genre proud.

I have not read Nenia Campbell before, but somewhere along the way I followed a link to her post about having been banned/dropped from Amazon.  I have to admit, I really really love the convenience that Amazon has brought to my life.  I love my Kindle. Probably 3/4s of my Christmas shopping this year was via Amazon. I live locally to HQ and my professional network includes a fair number of current and past employees. But I worry about how much power they have in the market place. I know a little bit about the backend systems that support their business, and it is WORRISOME that a bug in their search code can ruin livelihoods. Like Nenia, I'm baffled as to why her book was dropped given other dreck that is categorically "worse" in terms of content that violates some mysterious code of standards.  Worrisome.

Cara McKenna is a favorite author of mine, and I love what she has to say at Romance for Feminists about reading and writing sex in romance. Also, I just finished her title Unbound, and thought it was marvelous.

I get so excited when there's a new post at Badass Romance. I'm really not a fan of straight historical fiction (ie, not historical romance) because I almost always find it stilted and dusty-dry. However, Pamela's review of Executioner's Song has me very interested. Although it might be that I just like reading the review.

What I'm reading
Currently in progress I've got Laura Kinsale's Prince of Midnight. I really feel like Kinsale and Mary Jo Putney created the whole subgenre of the damaged hero.  Putting his damage right there in the narrative instead of leaving him as closed to the reader as he is to the heroine.( Perhaps with some help from Anne Rice in the Angsty Vampire sub-subcategory.) It's no secret that I'm a Kinsale fan, and this book is no exception. I am given to understand that this book contains a sex-on-horseback scene, but I haven't seen it yet so I'll have to keep you posted.

I've got Sarah MacLean's One Good Earl Deserves Another going in dead-tree format too. She takes the bluestocking trope to a bit of an extreme here, with a bookish heroine who is determined to understand her vows before taking them-- with a different man, of course. I'm finding the premise to be a bit... is "disingenuous" the right word? Possibly "silly" is the better one. Not entirely believable. But I like these characters and their interactions and the building external conflicts enough to keep going.

I'm not sure where the rec for Chaos Born by Rebekah Turner came from, but it was a good read. It would benefit from a draconian editor, as there is a fair amount of homonym abuse and things like "contact" instead of "contract".  It's an interesting, complicated world. One standout element is that the heroine is lame, and it's not just window-dressing.  It affects how she does (or fails to do) her job. Readers with an interest in disabled heroines should give it a look.

I also sped through Driven by Eve Silver (see what I did there?). I'm not sure what it says about me, but I'm really pulled toward post-apocalyptic romance lately, and this is a really good one. The hero is fascinating; the world is dark (and cold), and the twist about the heroine and her history was great. I did find the science a bit questionable but it made the backstory work, so you kinda have to go with it. I recommend, anyway, and the next book, Hidden, is on my want list.

I finished up Nora Roberts' Dark Witch. While Roberts always delivers a good read, IMO, this wasn't her best ever. I find myself liking her non-paranormals better.  It won't stop me from reading the rest of the trilogy though.  That's just how I roll.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
I might discontinue this feature for a little while - I haven't been very adventurous lately, so I don't feel like I have anything very interesting to say. Tis the season for Sam Adams Cream Ale and Blue Moon Seasonal Abbey Ale, two of my very favorites. However, I did notice that the latest Sam Adams collection contains something called "Cherry Chocolate Bock" which I really, really want to try -- but there are too many things I don't really want in the collection.  It's a dilemma.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Navel Gazing

No Soup This Week
 I'm busy navel gazing.

In preparation for moving the Christmas tree into the living room, I went through most of my "TBR" pile -- the physical ones, that is.  My piles of books are... out of control.  Like, causing problems in my house.

I did a fairly ruthless sort and have a large box ready to go to a new home.  And still, I have, conservatively guessing, about 200 mass market paperbacks that I am "planning" to read.  Many of these came from the 2012 RT convention; some from the Borders' liquidation, and many from the various publishers and publicists I've been privileged to work with.


I've been really struggling to get reviews done (as you may have noticed).  I keep waffling about maybe being Done with blogging, but I can't seem to quite give it up.  It's one of those things where I get out of it what I put in, and it's been hard for me to muster up the Putting In energy -- my life is different than it was in 2007 when I started.  I'm also looking forward like CRAZY to RT14 in New Orleans.  This world still has something in it for me... but what exactly is it?

I had a moment of truth last week.  There was a new release out; I had read an advance copy via Edelweiss, and was getting ready to knock out a review for it when I noticed something kind of odd.  There was a lot of buzz about this title -- more than usual.  Between my feed reader, Twitter, and a couple of related Facebook groups I'm on, I was seeing this title over and over.  I checked the author's website and discovered that she had organized a blog tour of... SIXTY blogs.  I commend her, I really do -- she is pushing all the right buttons and really leveraging the blog community.

Thing is, I don't want to be lost in a crowd like that. And honestly, who would want to read sixty reviews of the same book? Who has that kind of time?

What's the Mission?
The previous week, a minor kerfuffle came and went on Twitter and Facebook.  The details aren't important, but Joyfully Jay caught my eye with this comment:

And elaborated:

To me, this is super-obvious. With the exception of the professional review blogs like Smart Bitches and Dear Author, most book bloggers are also aspiring authors. They are building relationships with publishers and publicists, and when the time comes to submit a manuscript, their name is known and they have something of a reputation and a platform. (Do people still talk about having a platform? it was all the rage about 3 years ago.)  Anyway... that's not my mission. 

"Authors are My Rockstars"
There is also a certain celebrity factor to interacting with authors, especially the ones whose work you love. This can be pretty dazzling-- no really, it is. I hear you laughing out there as you juggle your copy edits in two-day yoga pants and feeding the kids PB&J so you can make your deadline... but really, it is.  We recognize your talent and your skill and your hard work, and feeling a part of the writing and publishing world is flattering.  Getting free books is great-- let's be honest here -- but there is also a bit of a prestige factor going on.  The first time I got a bound galley, I wanted to shake it in front of everyone on the bus: DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS??? ISN'T IT AWESOME!!  NOT EVERYBODY GETS THESE YOU KNOW I AM SPECIAL!!  I mean, I didn't do that.  That would make me just another crazy bus person.  But still.  I wanted to.

I think this was my mission for awhile.  The interaction, the books, the feeling of prestige.  But that was perhaps a couple hundred books ago...

Back to the Basics
I'm feeling bad about all the books I have received and not reviewed.  Especially the ones I really liked! Some I even specially requested.  I'm a terrible person.  This guilt weighs on me and drags down my pleasure in reading other blogs and writing my own.  Also, I hate when I get a book that I think is just so-so -- is there anything harder to write a review for than a "perfectly adequate but no more" genre book? I feel like I'm letting down the author or the publicists and not holding up my unwritten side of the bargain of free books for reviews-- and I am a huge fan of the genre so why wouldn't they expect/hope for positive reviews. So I think the time has come to change my review policy:

I'm going to read books I have. I'm going to read books that catch my eye, without much regard to the publication date. I will probably buy a few here and there.  I will talk about the ones that give me something to talk about -- might be a review, or a rave, or just a chat.

I've already almost stopped requesting anything from NetGalley and Edelweiss.  There are one or two places that send me unsolicited physical books -- I will be contacting them and letting them know that my policy has changed.

I plan to keep up with the Soup, and maybe go back to posting more of the Thursday Thirteen memes -- I always had fun with those.

I feel lighter already.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Soup - November 10

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...

To be honest, this week's kerfuffle about what authors are allowed to say and what reviewers are allowed to say just makes me go:

I feel like the same thing just gets re-hashed over and over again, and the line is not clear and never will be. If people criticize you or your work, take from it what you find useful and move along. Honest reactions should be respected.  Personal attacks are best ignored, IMO, but if you must respond, I would suggest limiting your response to ONE interaction, along the lines of "I saw what you wrote and felt it was uncalled for. I welcome honest critique of my work, but your attack on [ ] was out of line."  Then mute, block, ignore, step away.  Because if you're going to fling shit, no matter how much your target deserves it, you're going to end up smelling bad too.

Notice that I have suggestions, not prescriptions, for what Everyone Should Do, because everyone has a different tolerance for debate, flames, and what I would term negativity. Also, I have been at this internet thing long enough to know that my odds of changing anyone's behavior is vanishingly small, and I prefer not to waste my energy.

On a related note, if we could agree on a book bloggers' motto, what would it be?  Something short and pithy... I rather like: "I read, therefore I blog."  I was trying to get some kind of play on "veni, vedi, vici" with something like "I read, I opined, I blogged," but I don't think I can get that to work. :D  What do you think? do you have a motto?

Amazon has floated an offer to independent bookstores to carry Kindles. Reaction has been mixed:
OK, no, it hasn't been mixed at all. 

New to me: Bloggers Recommend - a bit more litfic/generalized that works for me, but if you're looking for a small number of standout titles, it looks like a good blog to check out.

What I'm reading
I was in the mood for a contemporary, so I picked up Kristan Higgins' The Next Best Thing, which fit the bill perfectly.  Light and sweet, Higgins ramps up the poignancy with a story of a young widow falling for her deceased husband's brother.

I hit the bookstore last week, as I imagine most of us did, with so many big names releasing the same week.  It's boggling really.  Have a look at Jackie's roundup, if you don't believe me. The new acquisition that has me hiding from my children this week is Devon Monk's Hell Bent, a new series spun off from her popular (and beloved by me, anyway) Allie Beckstrom series.  It truly is a different series though, as the Allie Beckstrom climactic ending broke up and changed all the magical rules.  A few years later, one of my favorite characters becomes the focal point for the subsequent fallout and realignment of power structures.  I'm about halfway through and loving it. I also came home with Thea Harrison's last two full length Elder Races books, which I'm just so behind on but adore.

On the electronic front, I had pre-ordered Nora Roberts' Dark Witch, and ordered a Laura Kinsale title (Prince of Midnight) that I somehow missed in my original Kinsale binge. Many of her titles are being released in electronic and e-format, so now is a good time to re-read or catch up. Shout out to Blithely Bookish for her review last September that I finally dug out of my feed reader. I also nabbed Driven by Eve Silver - it was on a discount price and I've been on a post-apocolyptic kick recently thanks to Joss Ware and Kit Rocha.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?

I've decided I need to watch my calories a bit closer, so I have to strategize a bit with my beer consumption. So for Friday's happy hour, I decided to go with a stout, which is heavy enough to slow down my drinking. Young's Double Chocolate Stout was just the ticket - it's rich and sweet; it's basically an alcoholic brownie in a glass.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Soup - November 3

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...
HarperCollins to join the online bookselling business. I'm pretty happy about this. While I love the ease that Amazon has brought to buying and reading ebooks in particular, their near-monopoly makes me very uneasy. To me, an ideal outcome would be a reversal of the consolidation of publishing houses, all with good distribution platforms. Access to books means access to ideas, and as that shrinks to only a few outlets, I think that's BAD FOR CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT. Not to be dramatic or anything.

Big news for frequent travelers - you can now keep your e-readers on during takeoff and landing! I don't travel that often but when I do, that is a big deal for a book addict.  Note: I will probably still carry an emergency "real" book in the event of a battery problem.

In one of the week's more ridiculous stories, Yelp reviewers are suing for wages. I could see how an unexpected ruling in that case might affect review bloggers, for instance if publishers became wary of distributing review copies for fear that they'd be sued for wages.  Seems like crazycakes to me.

Ilona Andrews is working on something new and awesome and there's a little bit of it up on their website (and may I just say to the critiquing commentators? SHE DIDN'T ASK FOR YOUR ADVICE).

In general, I'm not big on reading challenges. The best way to make me dislike a book is to tell me that I have to read it. Even though I have always loved reading, I hated almost all of the assigned reading back in school.  Because it was assigned. But there are exceptions.  Jackie's New Author Challenge is so simple and such a good idea.  Because it's so easy to fall into familiar ruts, it sometimes take a nudge to get out of them.  If you need that sort of nudge or just enjoy the community of a good reading challenge, I really do recommend this one.  I will try to do better about linking up my New Author Reviews.

The latest in the ongoing dissection of the reader/author relationship, fan reaction to a YA trilogy-closer titled Allegiant hit a feverish pitch last week. I confess I just don't get the rhetoric around what an author "owes" fans, and how readers "should" read a story, and whether I'm being a "good" reader or not. Sure, I have been disappointed by authors before (I'm lookin' at you, J.R. Ward). I mean, a series that dwindles off into WTF or repetitive or boring territory might actually be more the norm than one that is just consistently fantastic from beginning to end. But... I don't take it personally. I don't get angry at the author. I don't think she owes me a specific kind of story. I don't understand readers who do. Perhaps this is the line that divides the fans from the fanatics.

What I'm reading
Nora Roberts, The Perfect Hope. Very enjoyable. The resolution of the ghost story seemed a bit too easy, but the main romance was entirely satisfying. I've also got her latest paranormal downloaded and waiting.

I'm almost done with Alexa Egan's Shadow's Curse and it might be a new favorite.  Dark, paranormal, Regency, but NOT the ton. Good stuff.

I finished up Wallbanger by Alice Clayton and thought it was a ton of fun. I found the premise a little off-putting at first: the couple start out as next door neighbors with thin walls, and she hears every little spank and, uh, meow.  Yeah. Clayton knows how to write Excruciating Embarrassment, I will say.  Light-hearted with nice character arcs and fun secondary characters.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
This week I'm all super happy that the Blue Moon Mountain Abbey Ale seasonal is out and about. This stuff is like candy to me. Love it. I haven't found the Elysian Pumpkin I mentioned before -- haven't made it to any of the Super Boozy places lately.

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.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Soup - September 29

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...
Bookish twitter feeds and blogs lit up this week about David Gilmour's (literature teacher, not guitarist) completely un-self-aware interview about how he chooses his curriculum.  Spoiler: all middle-aged white male authors, how shocking is that? The interesting thing here is that he really believes it's a totally justifiable stance.  Later, he apologizes for the sake of his future book sales:
I talked to Patrick Crean [his publisher]. He was concerned that this was going to affect the general climate around the book, that some women might not like the book if they think that that’s my policy. And that’s one of the reasons that I’m apologizing. Normally I actually wouldn’t.
Here's what I don't get.  He seems to think it's perfectly reasonable that he only loves middle-aged straight white literature, because he IS a middle aged straight white guy, but... now here's the crazy part... aren't most of his students young women, most likely of a cross-section of sexualities? Apparently that matters, right?  How does he expect his students to love this stuff?  I mean, it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that they cannot and never will. Isn't privilege a delicious thing?  It's just like air, you don't even know you're breathing it.

Then there's the Goodreads thing. Goodreads recently deleted a number of shelves (a tagging mechanism) that had labels referencing author behavior, and related articles by members that focused on the author rather than the book. 

Online communities succeed or fail -- or struggle along somewhere in between -- by virtue of their content. Goodreads correctly observes that there is no way to please everyone:
We recognize that not everyone is going to agree with our approach. People have different - and often quite strongly held - viewpoints about what should and should not be allowed in a review.
So perhaps it's a sign that I'm getting old, but I don't think there's anything wrong with adding guidelines to keep discussion civil. Another point that comes to mind is this chestnut:

image attribution
Aside from the question of content, you might also take from that bit of wisdom that if you really want to be in full control of your content, you might want to consider taking more ownership of your platform.  Some Blogger users learned this the hard way recently too.

On a related note, I think all of us in this brave new world of reviewing books online occasional stop and think about what the inevitable (is it? I tend to think it is...) interaction with authors, publishers, and other industry professionals means for us as readers and reviewers.  Kaetrin has some interesting thoughts on the topic.

Font geeks: I just thought this was cool.  It's from a Seattle building too.  Who knew that "font designer" could be an actual career?

Sometimes, it's all about the title.  Honestly, I have my doubts about the premise of this book.  But I am mostly likely going to give it a whirl because I'm loving the title: Heavy Metal Heart.

What I'm reading
This week has been all Charley Davidson, all the time.  I'm on the third book of Darynda Jones' series about a wise-cracking human portal to heaven, her fling with the son of Satan, and the mysteries and mishaps they solve along the way.  I tend to avoid books with overtly slapsticky humor, just a personal preference, but these are working for me.  The one-liners and smart-assery are really consistent throughout these books, and yeah, I think there have been a few that clinked or felt forced to me, but for the most part, the combination of humor, action, and sexual tension are reeling me through these books like a well-hooked trout... er, I'm not sure if that's the best analogy, but haven't got a better one at the moment, so let's just go with it.  I'm hooked, get it?

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
Last week I talked about the Blue Moon fall sampler. This week I picked up the Sam Adams version of the same thing - a 12 pack with 5 different beers. So far I've tried the Hazel Brown - interesting, heavily flavored with hazelnut, quite sweet; the harvest pumpkin ale, which honestly I doubt I'd be able to tell the difference from the Blue Moon beer of the same label; the IPA, which unsurprisingly is too hoppy for my taste, and the Octoberfest ale, which is entirely nice but I won't be holding my breath waiting for it next year or anything. There's also a Ruby and a regular lager that I haven't tried yet.

One Last Thing
I might resemble this woman:

Hopefully I won't have to chain either of my daughters by the legs to prevent them from throwing themselves into the haunts of vice though.

(Ohh, and I can't help but think, wouldn't "Ungovernable Passion" be a great name for a romance blog?)


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Soup - September 22

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

So first off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my little sister Jolene, who is an amazing mom, financier, and homemaker.  She doesn't actually read my blog, so I can admit that she actually does a lot of the whole working-mom thing a lot better than I do.  Happy birthday Jolene! you look like a monkey, and you smell like one too! 

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
Yeah, actually, I have no idea at the moment. I've been kind of disconnected from my usual media in the last few weeks. I didn't really plan it this way, but September is turning out to be a pretty intensive family-commitment month. We've got tons of back-to-school activities (I have a 3rd grader and an 8th grader; oy, how did that happen??). Here in the Pacific Northwest, summer can stretch pretty nicely into September, so last weekend the family took a last-hurrah-of-summer roadtrip, and right this second as I'm typing (Saturday evening) I'm completely pooped from taking Thing2 to the state fair with a friend. Next weekend will be a birthday party and probable sleepover; and did I mention my mother-in-law came to visit over Labor Day weekend? So perhaps you can forgive me for minimal posting for the last couple weeks.  But here are a few things that caught my eye over the past couple weeks.

Are readers "driving the market"? I have no doubt that reader demand is more influential these days than ever before, but does "more" amount to a little or a lot?  Is it a good thing?  On the whole, I tend to think it is. And while some literary purists will inevitably argue that such direct reader influence might dilute the artistic vision, and drive literary output toward a lower common denominator, it seems to me that a) that has always been true, it's just that there was a commercial publisher acting in a middleman role; and b) self-pub opens a channel for the true visionary that did not exist under the Big NYC Publisher industry model.  I really don't claim to have any idea what will happen to print publishing in the next, say, 25 years.  It's going to be an interesting show.  One thing that seems certain: there won't be a lack of diverse and engrossing genre fiction.

Mark Henry is back and he's writing... category romance? This should be interesting...

Jennifer Weiner throws down with Jonathan Franzen again. Bring on the popcorn (I'm rooting for Jennifer).

Some new kids on the block, as rounded-up by Jessica. Speaking of which, the return of Read, React, Review is no small potatoes in my blog-reading world.

What I'm reading
Believe it or not, I read an actual dead-tree book this past week. Maybe that's one way to break a slump: change up the format. I finished Glitterland, as mentioned a couple weeks ago on the Soup. The first bit, almost a prequel, was in present tense and so dark and pain-filled that I almost didn't continue. I'm so glad I did, though. The rest of the book was a bit less jagged and I became really invested in Ash getting his HEA. Or at least conceding the existence of the possibility of an HEA, which turns out to be a pretty big thing.

The Mistress, by Tiffany Reisz. While I didn't think it was intended to be a series closer, it definitely had a feeling of resolution about it that seemed missing in the first few books, which I didn't really expect. Fans of the series will enjoy it, I think, and I'm not saying I didn't, but I had a few issues with it that didn't bother me about other books. Mainly I think she has made Soren a bit too saintly -- which is kind of ironic given his secret life, but really. He's just sort of an inhuman well of forgiveness and serenity and still doesn't seem very real to me. But the book does serve to neatly tie off (heh) a number of story threads while opening up some new avenues to explore.

I buzzed through a novella by Courney Milan, Unlocked, that I did enjoy. One of the weird things about e-books is that I don't always pay attention to how long the format is, so sometimes it takes me by surprise that I'm halfway through a story after only an hour so of reading. This was one of those times. So it resolved a bit too easily for me, but I think my expectations were miscalibrated. I did particularly like the portrayal of the heroine's relationship with her mother.

Oh and the big one I went through is the latest S. M. Stirling Emberverse novel, The Given Sacrifice. The ending was not a surprise, given the title, but the timing was, sort of. I have very mixed feelings about this series. In many ways it jumped the shark many books ago, but I just enjoy visiting the world so damn much I don't care. It's a lovely little fantasy about How The World Should Be, with enough Scary Big Bad to keep it fairly interesting.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
OK, so after paying a certain amount of attention to what I'm drinking for a few months, and some deliberate attempts to experiment a little, what I'm finding is that if I really like a basic ale from a particular brewery, chances are I'm going to like some of their other varietals as well.

It's pretty obvious that Sam Adams is working for me. I like their fruit flavors, the Cherry Wheat, the Blackberry Wit, and summer brew with a hint of lemon, and spent most of last winter and spring savoring the Cream Stout.  (Yay, it's almost Cream Stout season again!)

Blue Moon, a purportedly Belgian-style white ale, frequently served with a slice of orange, is my other staple. I say purportedly, because many Belgian whites such as Hoegaarden that I've tried have a distinct flavor note that an esteemed colleague of mine succinctly described as "tastes like feet," which is thankfully missing from Blue Moon. Maybe that's a note of authenticity? I dunno...  Anyway, I absolutely loved Blue Moon's spiced winter ale last year and have tried a number of their variations.  I picked up their fall sampler this past week and while I've never been a particular fan of pumpkin flavored things, the pumpkin harvest ale is working pretty nicely for me.  I like the spice combinations and the slightly fuller body.  The caramel-apple flavor was a little sweeter than the regular ale and had less of the citrus flavor, but I don't think I would've pulled "caramel" or "apple" out of a blind taste-test.  Blue Moon is a subsidiary of MillerCoors, which just goes to show you, my taste in beer is not too far off my taste in reading:  readily available, enjoyed by the masses, a distinct lack of bitterness, and a smooth sweet finish.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday Soup - September 1

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...
Glitterland, by Alexis Hall. I'm not a huge fan of gay romance and I don't go out of my way for it. However, the buzz around this title is kind of interesting -- it's not all over my twitter feed like Unbroken by Anna Cowan was, but I've seen three reviews pop up and they all made me sort of sit up and take notice. I have it on order (I can't believe there's no Kindle version! I have really come to rely on the instant gratification of e-books for my impulse reading). When Wonkomance, Kaetrin, and Natalie all gang up like this, I really have no choice. CORRECTION: There is in fact, a Kindle edition.  Of course there is.  I don't know why I failed to find it earlier. (Thanks Jessica!)

Flavorwire's 40 Trashy Books. I used to refer to romances as trashy novels, maybe 20 or 25 years ago. A member of RWA very gently set me straight, and suggested that I used the term out of embarrassment. Hey, I wasn't embarrassed! I was just being funny! Anyway, these days, that usage really makes me bristle. What makes a novel "trashy"? The fact that it's popular? Or, in the case of this list, WAS popular, and its readership is like, your mom? That there is sex in it? Bristly. However, look over the article, because there are some wonderful vintage pop culture titles there. I don't know what idiot calls Anaïs Nin "trashy," but I recommend you ignore the smug editorializing and beef up your reading list. From the Simon and Schuster Twitter feed.

I'm a bit late with this one. August was declared "Read a Romance Month" (aka, every month for me). I gather it is directed at reasonably open-minded readers who had never read a romance, and a temporary (?) blog was set up to host various featured guests. One of the articles that resonated for me was Lucy March's Rejecting the Premise. Very well said.

This lovely little essay on how your frame of mind influences your writing, and what can make you feel powerful and confident. By way of Betsy.

What I'm reading
Currently I'm in the middle of a new ARC from Larissa Ione. I didn't care for her demons but so far I'm liking Bound By Night well enough.

I finished up The King's Pleasure by Heather Graham, a re-release from Retro Reads. An old-school sprawling historical epic, with attention to historical detail around the fourteenth century Hundred Years' War between the Plantagenets and French house of Valois.  I found it a little slow-going at times but I did finish it and I did enjoy it.

I ended up throwing no less than four titles into my DNF category this week (and creating a DNF category on my Kindle), which I rarely do. With e-reading, it's much easier to just... stop reading and kid myself that maybe I'll come back to it. I also spent the last week getting the house cleaned for a visit from my mother-in-law, so it's possible that I'm a wee bit extra cranky this week. It's difficult to say.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
No time for adventure this week, what with all the housecleaning. Temperatures have hovered in the high 70s all week, which is absolutely perfect for sitting on a breezy deck with a cold anything-you-want, but kind of sweaty for heavy housecleaning when you have no A/C. So anyway, Blue Moon and Sam Adams Blackberry Wit have been on tap this week.

Sometime in the last month or so, I tried a strawberry ale which I really really wanted to like. It started off promising with a light sweet strawberry flavor riding on top of the ale, but by the time I was halfway through it had soured off and I wasn't liking it at all. Could it be that my palate is becoming so refined that it matters whether I pour it into a glass or not? That seems so unlikely. I only bought one bottle and probably won't bother trying again, but I do wonder a little if that would've made a difference.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Soup - August 18

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...
Chuck reminds writers of the 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration rule of writing.

Discoverability problem? What problem? (I think I love this blog). While it's a funny article, I think that she frames the problem incorrectly -- I'm not sure "discoverability" has EVER been a problem for readers, but has always been a concern for publishers. Now that readers are abandoning brick and mortar in droves, the discoverability (or what 20th-century throwbacks might call "marketing" or "publicity") standard solutions need to change, and change fast. So there is a problem, for some people.

The topic of "e vs. p" for reading and reviewing seems like truly a moving target as more people buy into e-reading. I remember thinking a few years back that I'd never switch... but I did. And I love it.

I've always said I don't have guilty pleasures, because I mostly just enjoy my pleasures {heh}, but I might be developing a slight addiction to Buzzfeed list-style articles. And this one is tailor-made for book bloggers: Buzzfeed's 17 problems for book lovers  

What I'm reading ... I've been doing SO much reading! and slacking so hard on reviewing. Plus I'm totally behind on my favorites.
Biting Bad, by Chloe Neill. Excellent read, consistent quality with the series thus far. I noticed a few editing issues in the Kindle edition, notably some homonym abuse and a missing space between the first two words of EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER. Every one. Er, ahem. Great story though.

Magic Rises, by Ilona Andrews.  I'm sure it says something strange about me that I found the sexual tension between Kate and Hugh to be the most compelling thing about this book.  It was delicious. I also liked the new bits to the worldbuilding, having to do with the European take on the magical chaos, and really loved the twist at the very end with a minor character.

Hajar's Hidden Legacy, by Maisey Yates. I'm working on a feature about sheikh/harem romances, and I have pretty much never read a contemporary one. I was actually kind of surprised to learn just a couple years ago that there is a HUGE subgenre devoted to modern-day sheikhs. Given that Yates and I are Twitter buddies, and I loved her billionaire contemp a few weeks ago, I picked this one. It was an entirely competent romance, good characters, nicely angsty... but I wasn't really feeling the sheikh vibe.  It really seemed like any rich powerful job description could have fit. IDK, perhaps modern ones (with no harem element) just don't do it for me...

I also read Untamed, by Anna Cowan, and oh, I really just loved it so much.  Jessica of The Hypeless Romantic called it polarizing, and the most divisive romance of the year.  I wasn't sure I'd like it, not being keen on the idea of a cross-dressing hero, but I was absolutely skewered by the character of the duke.  He's complicated and tremendously sensual; he can be cruel and he wields power ruthlessly and carelessly.  He reminded me a little of John Malkovich's character in Dangerous Liasons --repulsive and compelling all at once. I'm hoping to articulate a review before too long but whatever the flaws of the book, that character is worth it all.

I snuck in a novella by Loretta Chase, The Sandalwood Princess. This story harks back to older "globe-trotter" romances with an exotic, almost magical thread courtesy of several generations of Anglo-Indian romance and backstory. Twitter is alive these days with discussion of characters of color, and how romance often takes the easy way out with half-and-half characters -- which this totally is. So if that bugs you, this story is kind of screaming with it. And I'd say that the trademark Chase humor is a little lower key here, it didn't really stand out. But Chase's storytelling chops are in fine form and I enjoyed the twisty plot and the unusual heroine.

And finally, I'm still trying to get through Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers.  Really not liking this hero very much and have stalled out. This is a problem, because I haven't got to the harem yet! Dang! Also, I may have misplaced my copy of the book. #ReaderProblems.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
Seattle is having the most amazing summer. We've had umpteen days in a row in the low 80s and it's just been about ideal. Hot summer days means fruity beer for me. I've been liking Sam Adams' Summer Ale, with a little bit of a lemon essence, and the Cherry Wheat (an all-time favorite) is back in stores now. But the best thing I've had lately is Fearless Peaches and Cream Ale. It's local-ish, and sadly not available in bottles. Yum.

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's All About The Dress: Twitter Party for Jade Lee

All Dressed Up...

I think-- whether you're a "girly girl" or not, whether you love fashion or not-- it's hard not to love the topic of wedding dresses. Whether they're slinky or poufy, elegant or beachy, traditional or outré, they are the very fabric (see what I did there?) of our romantic fantasies.

Jade Lee's latest release, is titled What the Bride Wore, and to celebrate, Sourcebooks is hosting a hashtag party tomorrow, August 6, all day. Tweet a photo of your wedding dress with the hashtag #WhatTheBrideWore to be eligible for hourly prizes.  Follow the hashtag and @SourcebooksCasa for retweets of the best ones. I plan to follow just because I love looking at wedding dresses. What did you wear?

This hot new series is set in a daring, high-energy Regency world where deep longings, secret scandals, and the competition for social stature are all set against the glittering weddings of the season. Grant Benton, Earl of Crowle, finally has the funds he always pretended to have, and what he wants now is a woman. That woman is Lady Irene Knopp, who spends her days helping debutantes plan their weddings. A recent widow, Irene longs for love again, but she’s afraid to risk her heart, especially to the notorious Earl.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


No soup this week!  I'm visiting family this week in the midwest, enjoying the company, getting caught up with my nieces and nephews and old friends, and the home-grown tomatoes.  See you next week!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Soup - July 21

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...
Of course, the main thing that romance book people are talking about is RWA.  If you went, you are probably too jet-lagged and/or footsore to be reading this.  I'm looking forward to the "best of" posts, but for now, here are some other things that have been going on...

Chris Kluwe publishes, but not what you're expecting: 
When various publishers first approached me about writing a book, the majority of them wanted the standard “football player autobiographical” that everyone churns out once they get even a sniff of attention. You know, the “on x day I did y, and it made me feel z because I gave 120% of all the sports cliches my coach ever taught me about Jesus.” That one.
Pretty sure I like that guy.  Quote is from his piece at John Scalzi's place.

RWA is not the only con from this week:  Natalie's report on ReaderCon.  The San Diego ComicCon is also in progress, but I'm only mentioning it so you know I'm cool enough to know it's going on.  (I am not actually very interested in it...)

Speaking of comics, Gail Simone has announced a new series of Red Sonja comics, to be written by an impressive array of women writers, including some of my favorites, like Meljean Brook and Marjorie Liu.

Jessica concludes her two-part series on book blogging.  It's a fun look back.  I tend to agree that book blogging may have peaked, and there is more action on Twitter.  However, peaked != dead; and while I enjoy Twitter a lot, one of the things I like about it is that I find out about interesting long pieces.

Another piece on blogging.  I expected this to be sort of a throw-away piece, but it is really concise and I agree with his points, especially this:
Be relatable, be yourself.
What sets bloggers apart from newspaper article feeds is voice. Your content is what draws them in while your personality, or your voice in writing, is what will keep them there. Let your readers get to know you. 
Wonkoromance might be my new favorite-est blog.  I thought this piece about how terrible their first books were was hilarious.

I am kind of a sucker for reading lists (I think it's a competitive streak).  And this one, 15 YA novels every adult should read, caught my eye.  I know that when I say "I don't really read YA" in that tone, I'm being a lot like those people who say "Really? you read romance?" in that tone. But the thing is, I have read it.  When I was a young adult (or, well, adolescent, really). But sometimes I think I should see what the fuss is about.  So maybe I'll try a couple of these.  I have to say though, a couple of them sound really, really terrible.  What YA would you recommend?

What I'm reading
Sheik Week preparations continue!  I found this amazing list on GoodReads and my local paperback exchange had four books from it.  Wheeeeee! I finished Adora by Bertrice Small and started on Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers.  Note, many if not all of these titles may be trigger-y for some.

I also finished up two upcoming re-releases from Open Road Media, by Dorothy Eden. I expect to have a review up shortly (don't I always say that?) but the short version is, they remind me a little bit of an old Alfred Hitchcock movie, all tension and little details from the corner of your eye and questionable reliability of the narrator.  Very nice suspense.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
I gave Trader Joe's Dunkleweizen this week -- billed as an "amber unfiltered wheat beer," the shelf tag mentioned caramelized malts, which is sort of a key word for me, and I often like wheat beers in the summer. However, it has a really sour taste right in the middle that I didn't like at all.  I looked at a couple of reviews that didn't say anything at all about the sourness, so I'm wondering if I got a bad batch.

One Last Thing
Irony has always been a concept that isn't completely straightforward to grasp, but Alanis Morrisette is solely responsible for an entire generation of not-getting-it*.  Fortunately, this has now been corrected:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Soup - July 14

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...
Fascinating article from an unusual blog.  I kind of want a romance hero something like William Fly, who did this:
Fly walked indifferently to the gallows; to the astonishment of the spectators, he upbraided the hangman’s poor knot and remade with his own hands the instrument for his own neck — one last use of his seaman’s proficiency with ropes.
Fly didn't get a happily ever after, unfortunately, but the manner of his death was fairly impressive, according to this article.  While the post focuses on William Fly in particular, it references a book called Villains of All Nations, which makes me want to read non-fiction. Via @2nerdyhistgirls.

Jessica's retrospective on book blogging.  If you're like me, you'll find yourself nodding along.

I like to kid myself that I don't pay much attention to cover art. Since I shop in the genre section of the bookstore anyway, I expect what I get and I pretty much get what I expect.  But this slideshow from Maureen Johnson's "Coverflip" project is very thought-provoking.  You can see lots more with a tagged tumblr search.  (I guess this happened back in May, but I just found it.)

If you haven't heard about Google's new policy to take down, without notice, any blog that appears to them to have adult content and be serving ads, you may be living under a rock. But just in case you haven't seen this, be advised! I think I am probably safe since I do not serve any ads whatsoever; however, it is motivating me to get my several hundred posts backed up, just in case I need to pack up someday. 

What I'm reading
Like almost everyone in Romlandia, I tore through The Story Guy last week, on the strength of the author's "Nut" essay on Wonkomance (which I linked to in last week's Soup) and buzz on Twitter. My reaction was a bit more mixed than most. While the language is exceptionally beautiful and sort of... sculpted... I found the very craftmanship of it slightly distracting, to be honest.  It seems more suited to an essay or poetry format. Also I hated the introductory device of lonely-librarian-combing-the-personals.  That might just be me.  But I do absolutely mean mixed feelings though, because it's beautifully written and the characters really shine.

Talk about contrast, I also continued my Bertrice Small binge with another harem romance, Adora. I really miss the epic scope of the old-skool romance-- Small's heroines are dynasty-builders, and the historical sweep of the expansion of the Ottoman empire is a fabulous read.

Speaking of Bertrice Small, you may recall that I was so appalled at the editing issues with the Kindle version of The Kadin that I contacted the publishers, and I did hear back from the editing team, who is going to have a look at the file.  They also let me know that the older books like these 80s publications are scanned from hard copy to create the electronic books-- if the font was as small as it was in the paperbacks that I read back in the day, I can understand why the software missed something like 5% of the periods in the text.  It makes me happy that the are hopefully going to fix it up.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
Continuing my quest for a honey-based beer that has an actual discernible honey flavor, I picked up a 6-pack of Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss. It was mostly harmless. Not much honey to it as far as I could tell.  Totally drinkable but nothing special.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Soup - July 7

Note: Thanks Laura, for letting me know about some broken links.  I fixed two of them -- the third URL is correct I think, but it looks like the site is down, hopefully temporarily. If you tried to follow links that were broken before, they should be corrected now.

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...
Although this article on Manic Pixie Dream Girls by Laura Penny starts out with a bunch of references to Doctor Who, which don't mean much to me, this line jumped out at me:
Men grow up expecting to be the hero of their own story. Women grow up expecting to be the supporting actress in somebody else's.
Which echoes a point that Jenny Crusie made years ago and that I have referenced ad nauseum. Anyway, the writer talks about depth of characterization, and then she kind of sucker-punched me with this paragraph:
Manic Pixies, like other female archetypes, crop up in real life partly because fiction creates real life, particularly for those of us who grow up immersed in it. Women behave in ways that they find sanctioned in stories written by men who know better, and men and women seek out friends and partners who remind them of a girl they met in a book one day when they were young and longing.
and just... wow.  I'm still figuring out what to do with that, but the truth of it blows my mind a little bit. I'm just loving this writer's voice and am about to go binge on Things She Has To Say.  Because:
Lately, though, as I've been working on longer ideas about sexism and class and power, I keep coming back to love, to the meat and intimacy of fucking and how it so often leads so treacherously to kissing. 
and because
I refuse to burn my energy adding extra magic and sparkle to other people’s lives to get them to love me. I’m busy casting spells for myself. Everyone who was ever told a fairytale knows what happens to women who do their own magic. 
I just love all of that.  (via @meredithduran on Twitter)

10 things about book blogging from Rebecca Schinsky.  Spot on. (via @THRJessica on Twitter)

News from Nalini! She names her next hero. Given the hints in Heart of Obsidian, I'm not very surprised, but I am definitely looking forward to Vasic's story, especially since it seems that he will be paired up with a Changeling.  Did I mention that I went to a signing a couple of weeks ago? How did I overlook that?? I did tweet about it -- and yes, I  tried to make sure to get the University Bookstore info in the picture -- I love that they have these amazing events so if I can give them a teeny boost, I will.

One last link [note: it looks like this blog is down at the moment - I'm going to leave the link in hopes that it comes back...] that left my jaw dangling a little bit with the power and gorgeousness of the very words.  Perhaps because I am not a person that poetry usually speaks to, on the occasions when I accidentally stumble over something that resonates for me, I get more than a bit blindsided. I predict [more] amazing things from this writer.

What I'm reading
OH MY GOD why did I wait so long to read Thea Harrison's latest release??  It is so, so good.  Go get your hands on Rising Darkness right now if you haven't already.  In the "hidden parallel world" style of urban fantasy, where the paranormal world lives alongside unsuspecting mortals, there is always a scene where one of the leads discovers the parallel world, and it is always a pivotal moment.  None have electrified me like the one in this book.  I swear, I had goosebumps.

I am hatching a plan for a Sheik Week at Alpha Heroes.  I used to read everything I could get my hands on in this subgenre, and they were pretty popular in the 80s.  Standalone or full length books with the European girl in an Eastern harem are now pretty few and far between, although there is still a thriving subgenre of contemporary category sheik romance.  So I was feeling nostalgic about them and re-read Bertrice Small's The Kadin, which was a huge favorite of mine.  I am pleased to say that the story holds up very well-- I went on some multi-hour reading binges like I haven't done in a while and actually was up until 2:30 am last Thursday night (yay for 4-day weekends!).  I'm saving a full review for the feature week, but two things: 1) I really really loved it, and 2) good god, the 2010 Kindle edition is really pretty awful.  Typos and missing periods EVERYWHERE.  If you can find a used print copy, I highly recommend you do that.

I finally finished the Janelle Denison's Born To Be Wilde, part of a 6-book set by a variety of authors.  It took me a while to get through this, but I think that was more a function of stuff going on around me.  I really liked the characters and the Dude Group that Denison has set up, and I'm looking forward to checking out more of the series.

I'm not reading it yet, but I just pre-ordered Chloe Neill's latest Chicagoland Vampire book, Biting Bad.  It's on sale for $8.89 (weird number...) which is close enough to mass market to suit me.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
I've had a pretty unadventurous week -- it's been all Apricot Ale, all the time with the hot hot weather.  So for your entertainment, I'm giving you this link:  36 cheap American beers, in rank order.

Since Maisey made this just for me, it seems only fair for me to share it with you.


  © Blogger template Coozie by 2008

Back to TOP