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Getting into a reading groove?

I have read two books and a novella in the last 7-10 days, which feels kind of amazing.  Before the Years Long Reading Slump, three books a week – or more – was nothing.

“Wonderment in Death” – eh, it was fine, very focused on procedure, which I like.

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan – It was sort of sweet in a fairytale kind of way.  I don’t know, maybe English village life is really like that, and it isn’t a fairytale or fantasy?  The romance angle seemed kind of forced and not really believable, but I liked most of the characters and even the ex-boyfriend wasn’t terribly vilified.  (Truly, I was more irritated by how passive Rosie was with him.)  I checked LibraryThing, because Colgan’s name looked familiar; I haven’t read her before, but I feel like back when chick lit was bigger I read other similar Brit chick lit writers.

The Martian by Andy Weir.  As much as I enjoyed the movie, the book is better.  The majority of the book, like the movie, is narrated by Mark Watney, and the voice and tone are just so funny and smart, without being maudlin or pedantic, and he makes what seems to me to be complicated science* simple.  I even liked the end of the book better; there are some wrap-up/HEAish type scenes tacked onto the movie, which were fine but not really necessary.  There are a few Big Things that occur in the book that don’t occur in the movie; I’m curious to know if they were filmed but edited out for time or pacing, or if they were not in the screenplay to begin with because they felt like Too Much.  (I didn’t think they were too much as a read the book over several days, but I can see how they would feel sort of overwhelming in the 2 hour span of the movie.)  One of my favorite things is Watney’s appreciation for duct tape.  Also enjoyable are his appreciation for how ridiculous his situation is and his eye-rolling at NASA as they micromanage him from 140 million miles away.

I’m not sure what to read next – I feel like I need to jump on this trend and keep reading, for fear of relapsing into The Slump.  I’ve got a book by Shelly Laurenston and translation of Mario Vargas Llosa by Edith Grossman, both library borrows, sitting on my coffee table.  But a bunch of Patricia Veryan’s Georgian and Regency novels have been digitized; I loved them when I was a teen, and I’m curious to see if they stand up to re-read and adult perspective.

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*Neil deGrasse Tyson says the astrophysics and other science is right, but The Biochemist says Watney’s comments about bacteria in your body being healthy is not strictly true all the time.  I’ll defer to Science People.

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Unrelated to reading, my NWHL jersey arrived today.  So excited.  I’ll wear it when watching games online after the Four Nations tournament.  And when I go to a game in February.  (Although I may have to check the schedule and get to a game sooner.)

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I finished the second staggered shawl for a friend.  So sick of the pattern by the time it was finished.  But someone else asked if I could make one for them.  I think I’m going to have to say not until December or January, because I’m not ready for another identical project.  I want to try making a hat or something simple.

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It was in the mid-70s today.  It felt like summer out.  And it’s apparently supposed to be similarly nice for the next couple of days.

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We have a bunch of international people visiting for a conference right now.  For some reason the host didn’t organize any kind of map of the neighborhood or suggestions for lunch, just said go to the food court at Union Station.  Which, uh, would you tell guests to eat at the equivalent of a mall food court?  I would not.  I took a couple of people to Cafe Berlin; good beer and wine and the tail end of their Oktoberfest menu (so good).  Definitely going back there.

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The Martian

I saw The Martian on Friday.  It was excellent.  I’m not very sciency, so I checked with The Biochemist, who says that it was pretty good (even Neil Degrasse Tyson approved), which makes me even more impressed.

And today I realized that I bought a copy of the ebook a while back when it was on sale at Amazon.  I’ve just started it and really like it so far.  \o/

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Color me surprised…or not

It turns out that a m/m author who has long used a masculine name turns out to be a white, cis, heterosexual woman.

On one hand, it’s been made abundantly clear — in mainstream publishing — that using a masculine name will get an author vastly more attention from publishers and editors.  So a pseudonym, eh, whatever.

On the other hand, this author assumed the persona of a gay man in her social media, which is more than just using a pen name.  I’d have to hunt for it, but I’m pretty sure there are posts or comments at various venues online (perhaps gone now but for The Way Back Machine?) in which the author writes about her partner and the impact of legalizing gay marriage, etc.  This author has long been pointed to by other m/m authors and readers as a successful gay man in the m/m industry, which is largely written by and for straight women.  The author never corrected those assertions and profited from them even as LGBT readers/writers voiced frustration with appropriation by non-LGBT authors.

Basically, this boils down to disclosure for me.

If I had hard copies of any of her books, I’d be tossing them right now.  As it is, I’ll be deleting files from my laptop and Kindle, which doesn’t really give the same feeling of satisfaction.

Disclosure:  I liked the Adrien English series, but other work by this writer has been hit or miss for me, and I stopped buying her work because I thought her pricing was ridiculous.  I refuse to pay $3.99 for a 20 page story.  Beyond that, I read very little m/m any longer for a variety of reasons that I’m not sure I could articulate coherently.  So this isn’t a reader flouncing off in a huff; it’s an observer who is just grossly offended by the lack of respect an author showed for her readers and others, first in her behavior FOR YEARS and second in the way she blows people off in her “coming out” post.

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The Wanted List

Right now I’m reading Sisters in Law, the dual biography of Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  I put Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in my bag for beach re-reading; I haven’t read it since it was first published, and hadn’t realized how much I’d forgotten and how much was omitted from the film.  The September installment of the In Death series was actually better than other recent installments, in my opinion, because it was all about procedure; the series is fading for me, but this was an okay installment.

I put the last couple issues of bitch in my beach bag, and have compiled of list of books and movies I want to see based on its reviews and articles.

The books on my wanted list now are:

  • If Nuns Ruled the World by Jo Piazza (non-fiction)
  • Passing by Nella Larsen (fiction set in the 20s, written in the 20s, about a black woman passing as white).
  • Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement (fiction)
  • More or Less Dead: Feminicide, Haunting, and the Ethics of Representation in Mexico by Alice Driver.  The reason I haven’t bought this book is that it is $45 for Kindle, which I’m reluctant to pay.
  • Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani (YA)
  • The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper (planning this as a gift)

Also on my wishlist is The Hanging Tree, the next Peter Grant book; I’d pre-ordered a copy from Amazon.co.uk, but got a notice that publication had been pushed back 😦  But perhaps that means it’ll be better edited than the last book?

The article on TBI, which points out the absence of domestic violence victims among studies of TBI, was good.  I get that it was highlighting an area that was ignored in a major study, but also felt that its concentration on the NFL concussion litigation and failure to mention other sports and studies that point higher rates of concussion diagnosis among women (athletes) left a hole.

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Late to the party

I ran across NPR’s list of 100 swoon-worthy romance novels and am sort of bemused by the list.  It’s pretty heavy on historical romances and on relatively recent work.

Historical

Lord of Scoundrels, by Loretta Chase – okay, seriously, I do not get the love for this book.  Meh at best.

Indigo, by Beverly Jenkins – haven’t read it

Outlander (series), by Diana Gabaldon – read the first one, have no interest in the rest of the series or the TV show.  Also, Gabaldon is a gigantic hypocrite regarding fan fiction, which influences my opinion/interest.

Texas Destiny, by Lorraine Heath  – haven’t read

The Serpent Garden, by Judith Merkle Riley – haven’t read

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, by Jennifer Ashley – read it, liked it well enough.

The Bedwyn Saga (series), by Mary Balogh – I really liked the book that spawned the Bedwyns, A Summer to Remember.  But couldn’t read more than 1.5 books of the Bedwyn series proper.

Ravished, by Amanda Quick – I think I read this?  Years ago.

The Wallflowers (series), by Lisa Kleypas – Nope.  (I don’t love Kleypas the way so many readers do.)

The Bridgertons (series), by Julia Quinn – The Black Mallet of Death!  The Duke and I seriously pisses me off, but The Viscount Who Loved Me is excellent.  I don’t think I’ve read the whole series.

The Brothers Sinister (series), by Courtney Milan – haven’t read it.

The Rules of Scoundrels (series), by Sarah MacLean – haven’t read it.

Flowers From the Storm, by Laura Kinsale – have never managed to finish it.

Spindle Cove (series), by Tessa Dare – haven’t read it.

Maiden Lane (series), by Elizabeth Hoyt – haven’t read it.  Although I think I read another series by Hoyt back when she debuted.

Pennyroyal Green (series), by Julie Anne Long – haven’t read it.

The Bride, by Julie Garwood – which one is this one? I used to have mad love for Garwood, so I’m pretty sure I would have read this but they all blur together in my memory.

The Pink Carnation (series), by Lauren Willig – Lost interest after the first couple of books.

A Knight in Shining Armor, by Jude Deveraux – Read this years ago as a new romance reader and it remains one of the few books to ever make me cry.  I’m not sure how I’d feel about it if I read it today.

Not Quite a Husband, by Sherry Thomas – I’ve read Thomas but I”m not sure about this book.

Desperate Duchesses (series), by Eloisa James – Haven’t read it; I think James is pretty overrated.

Something Wonderful, by Judith McNaught – Another early read that I think I’d hate if I tried to read it today.

The Windflower, by Laura London – Meh.  Another classic that other readers love that I do not.

The Spymasters (series), by Joanna Bourne – Okay.

The Duke of Shadows, by Meredith Duran – Okay.

Beast, by Judith Ivory – I think I read this?  Maybe?

To Have and to Hold, by Patricia Gaffney – Nope.  Not a Gaffney fan.

The Captive, by Grace Burrowes – Haven’t read it.

The Lotus Palace (series), by Jeannie Lin – Haven’t read it.

All Through the Night, by Connie Brockway – Okay.

Blaze, by Susan Johnson – LOVED this back in the day.  Footnotes!

Morning Glory, by LaVyrle Spencer – Read it, but it’s one of my least favorite Spencer novels, never reread it.

Simple Jess, by Pamela Morsi – Liked it, but not my favorite Morsi.

The Morning Gift, by Eva Ibbotson – DNF

A Lady Awakened, by Cecilia Grant – Haven’t read it.

The Summer of You, by Kate Noble – Haven’t read it.

The Rake, by Mary Jo Putney – Probably read it, but like Garwood, Putney’s historicals all bleed together except for her Fallen Angel series.

Classics

The India Fan, by Victoria Holt – liked it back when I glommed Holt as a teen.

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell – really liked it, although I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if I hadn’t seen the miniseries first.

The Far Pavilions, by M.M. Kaye – liked it a lot

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen – not my favorite Austen but still good.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte – oh, Jane.  Why?

Venetia, by Georgette Heyer – Meh.

YA

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell – Haven’t read it.

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins – Okay.

The Queen’s Thief (series), by Megan Whalen Turner – On the keeper shelf, despite the fact that I do not love the fourth book of the series.

Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles – I know I’ve read this but cannot for the life of me remember much about it.

Adios to My Old Life, by Caridad Ferrer – Really enjoyed this book.

Suspense

I-Team (series), by Pamela Clare – Haven’t read it.

In Death (series), by J.D. Robb – Good series, but I’ve stopped buying them and now wait to borrow from the library if I decide to read.  Somewhat repetitive.

Nine Coaches Waiting, by Mary Stewart – Haven’t read it.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Psy/Changeling (series), by Nalini Singh – Haven’t read it.

The Iron Seas (series), by Meljean Brook – Really liked the installments I’ve read but I’m pretty sure I’ve missed some.

Kate Daniels (series), by Ilona Andrews – Really like the world building but find the editing problematic.  So many discontinuities and sloppy errors.

Ember, by Bettie Sharpe – LOVED this.

The Inheritance Trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin – haven’t read it.

A Civil Campaign, by Lois McMaster Bujold – On the keeper shelf.

Archangel, by Sharon Shinn – Haven’t read it.

Warrior’s Woman, by Johanna Lindsey – Read it as a teen; tried rereading later and found it unreadable.

Paranormal

Charley Davidson (series), by Darynda Jones – Haven’t read it.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood (series), by J.R. Ward – Loved it when it first came out, lost interest for a variety of reasons ranging from appropriation to crackpot author behavior.

Immortals After Dark (series), by Kresley Cole – Haven’t read it.

Fever (series), by Karen Marie Moning – Haven’t read it.

The Winter Sea, by Susanna Kearsley – Liked it.

Cry Wolf, by Patricia Briggs – Liked it.

Vampire Huntress (series), by L.A. Banks – Read one of the series, liked it.

Dark Hunter (series), by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Haven’t read it.

LGBTQ

The Magpie Lord, by K. J. Charles – Haven’t read it.

Fated Love, by Radclyffe – Haven’t read it.  Liked other Radclyffe that I’ve tried though.

Hot Head, by Damon Suede – DNF, thought it was nearly unreadable.

Cut & Run, by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban – DNF.

Keeping Promise Rock, by Amy Lane – Haven’t read it, although I think I have tried other Amy Lane.

Butterfly Tattoo, by Deidre Knight – Read it, thought it was okay.

Inspirational

Maid to Match, by Deeanne Gist – Haven’t read it.

Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers – Haven’t read it.

Erotic Romance

Natural Law, by Joey W. Hill – Read it back when it was first published and liked it.

Liberating Lacey, by Anne Calhoun – Haven’t read it.

The Lady’s Tutor, by Robin Schone – Read it, felt ambivalent about it.

Contemporary

Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie – Read it, really liked it.

Heart of the Falcon, by Francis Ray – Haven’t read it.

Something About You, by Julie James – I’ve read one James book (it was okay?) but I’m not sure if it was this one.

The Chocolate Kiss, by Laura Florand – Haven’t read it, but it is TBR.

A Bollywood Affair, by Sonali Dev – Haven’t read it, also TBR.

Dream Man (series), by Kristen Ashley – Nope, not interested.

The Chesapeake Bay Saga, by Nora Roberts – Read it, loved it at the time.

Lucky Harbor (series), by Jill Shalvis – Haven’t read it.

Chicago Stars (series), by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Read the early books of the series, have stopped reading Phillips, found them somewhat problematic upon reread.

Troubleshooters (series), by Suzanne Brockmann – Really loved this series back when it started, long before 2001; I’ve since abandoned it for a variety of reasons, including my discomfort with the real-life contractorization of the military that is on display in the books and the complete disregard for constitutional rights and criminal activity displayed in the fiction.

Virgin River (series), by Robyn Carr – Haven’t read it.

The Mackenzie Family (series), by Linda Howard – Read and liked it way back when, although I’m pretty sure if I tried to read it now, I’d hate the books.

Blue Heron (series), by Kristan Higgins – Haven’t read it.  (I do not love HIggins’ work generally.)

The Madaris Family (series), by Brenda Jackson – Haven’t read it.

Wild Seasons (series), by Christina Lauren – Haven’t read it.

Intimate Betrayal, by Donna Hill – Haven’t read it.

Crazy Thing Called Love, by Molly O’Keefe – Haven’t read it.

Black Knights, Inc. (series), by Julie Ann Walker – Haven’t read it.

The Girl You Left Behind, by Jojo Moyes – Haven’t read it.

Category Romance

Doukakis’s Apprentice, by Sarah Morgan – Haven’t read it.

Sex, Straight Up, by Kathleen O’Reilly – I’m pretty sure I read this and liked it.

Her Hesitant Heart, by Carla Kelly – I’ve read this book, but would not consider it Kelly’s best work or even her best “category” in the sense of historicals published through HH.

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Library haul

Despite the fact that I only liked The Splendour Falls, rather than loving it, I still checked out two other Kearsley books, The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden.  I’m not sure if I’ll get to both of them since abject adoration is usually the setting I need for a good glom, but we shall see.  Also borrowed Chelsea Cain’s One Kick; I’m pretty much finished with her other series and I found her behavior online re: this new release pretty ugly, so I’m not inclined to either buy her books any longer or read immediately upon release.

The library had a display of mysteries in translation, which made me think of Keishon and her enjoyment of many translated mysteries.  I ended up borrowing Off Side by Manuel Vazquez Montalban.  I know almost nothing about futbol except that El Clasico is a Very Big Deal and the team in the blurb (Barcelona) has a long history.

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Lament for lost auto-buys

Going through my shelves and continuing The Great Book Purge has reminded me of several authors who were auto-buys who just…stopped being auto-buys after either a series of clunkers or general decline in my reading enjoyment of their work.  (Maybe their work changed to suit market conditions or maybe my taste did.  Either way *shrugs*)

Suzanne Brockmann  — I wish her old Silhouette series had finished.  The outright illegal and unconstitutional stuff that she has her Troubleshooters do in later books really bothers me; if I wanted to read about that, I’d read the papers filed against Blackwater, et al., not what is supposed to be fun fiction.  I get that she participates in a niche market but a decade of war and militarization in reality does not endear uber-patriotism and more militarization in fiction to me.

Patricia Briggs — please just keep giving Mercy powers to fix every problem, and also please slut-shame Adam’s ex-wife while you’re at it.

Nora Roberts/JD Robb — Same same same.  The home improvement porn and witches and twee Irish (look, I am of Irish extraction, have visited Ireland, love Ireland, but her Irish characters are caricatures at best) are just worn out for me.  Also, her editor needs to remove “vital” every single times she uses it.

JR Ward — okay, her first couple of books were like crack, but by the fourth her worldbuilding was exploding and she was denying the racial appropriation and the series had jumped the shark.

Kelley Armstrong — I liked her Otherworld series mostly for the werewolves, and stopped reading about all the other characters.  She’s got some shorts out now that are back to Elena and Clay and the wolves, but I’m not ready to buy in again.

Janet Evanovich — I loved the first six books of her Stephanie Plum series; then she basically said that Stephanie was never going to grow as a character, either become a better bounty hunter or actually have a functional adult relationship with either Morelli or Ranger, and I noped out of that series.

Chelsea Cain — It’s time for the Archie/Gretchen saga to end; it’s just not interesting anymore and the plots, always a little far-fetched, have gotten pretty attenuated.  It’s like watching a friend keep dating and breaking up with a jerk (or worse) — it keeps screwing them up and they keep doing it anyway.

Mary Jo Putney — Her historicals were auto-buys, but her contemporary series — especially The Spiral Path — was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Carla Kelly — Her trad Regencies were auto-buys, but as she publishes more through an LDS publisher, I’ve been less interested.  Her North American Western settings are unique, but I’m just not interested in gods/religion in my fiction.

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