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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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Plus and minus

On the plus side:  I finished a book!

On the minus side:  It was kind of ~meh~.

The book in question is Why Kings Confess by CS Harris, one of the library books I picked up on Saturday.  It read well enough that I managed to finish it by Sunday evening, so it can’t have been terrible.  It was just…predictable.  As in, it was clear who and why, although not necessarily how, fairly early on.  But then again, it’s a 19th century police procedural, so maybe I should cut the author some slack.

Next up is A Corner of the World, which opened well.  The Richard Castle book is still sitting on my coffee table, so maybe I’ll circle back to it eventually.

And there’s tennis to watch (because #sleepisfortheweak) and the next few episodes of Orphan Black.  On the plus side, it’s different.  On the minus side, the science is kind of ridiculous even for a non-science-y person like me.

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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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Post-Turkey Day SBD

It’s been a while.  Maybe the longest I’ve gone between posting since I first started blogging way back in 2005.  (I had to go look that up. Now I feel positively decrepit in internet years.)  There was some crappy stuff going on in the romance field that piled onto my general ennui with respect to fiction; it seemed easier to just not post at all.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve got my reading or blogging mojo back, but I actually felt the urge to write about books today so…

October reading?  There may have been some but I can’t recall.  November was mostly ~meh~ too until the holiday weekend when I finished two books.

First, I read As You Wish, Cary Elwes’s memoir of the filming of The Princess Bride.  I love that movie and will watch it whenever I see it on cable.  I used to have a VHS copy but it is long gone.  Over the holiday weekend, we (The Biochemist, The Chemist, and I) settled down in the den/TV room to watch it but found that we couldn’t – VHS copy only but no player, and it wasn’t streaming for free.  Anyway, As You Wish isn’t particularly brilliant in terms of narrative, but it gave a peak into the filming process and also Goldman’s feelings about the book and the option/screenplay’s troubled history before Rob Reiner talked Goldman into giving him the rights.

Second, Ben Aaronovitch’s Foxglove Summer — book five of the Rivers of London/Peter Grant series.  I have immediate gratification issues, so I ordered a copy from Amazon UK.  I really like Peter’s voice and Aaronovitch’s style, but dear godlings was the copy editing bad in this book.  Dropped or missed punctuation all over the place, relationships changing back and forth (grandfather then father then grandfather again), etc.  I probably need to do a little poking around the author’s website to see if there is a defined arc or series length; it might help me reconcile where this book fits.  It felt pretty disjointed relative to earlier installments.

On the plus side, readers learn a bit about The Nightingale and Ettersberg, and to see magic outside of London.  (I actually like the London-based stuff better, in terms of the history, but I’m assuming this is another perspective on the whole “magic really wasn’t dying” thing that has been mentioned in earlier books.)

A couple of my favorite passages:

‘So ghosts and magic are real?’ he said.

I’d had that question enough times to have an answer ready. ‘There are things that fall outside the parameters of normal policing,’ I said. I find you get two types of police, those that don’t want to know and those that do. Unfortunately, dealing with things you don’t want to know about is practically a definition of policing.

‘So “yes”,’ said Dominic.

‘There’s weird shit,’ I said. ‘And we deal with the weird shit, but normally it turns out that there’s a perfectly rational explanation.’  Which is often that a wizard did it.  (page 35)

 

‘Why does everyone call him the Nightingale?’ I asked.

‘Because he was so singular, so extraordinary – or so the seniors said.  Of course most of us didn’t believe a word of it, but we used it as a nickname – irony, or so we thought.’

He was looking in my direction, but his gaze was somewhere back in time to his young self.  My dad does the same thing when he talks about seeing Freddie Hubbard with Tubby Hayes at the Bull’s Head in 1965 or being at Ronnie Scott’s and hearing Sonny Rollins solo live for the first time.

There were so many questions I wanted answered, but I began to fear that he was drifting off — or worse.

‘You should have seen him at Ettersberg,’ he said softly. ‘It was like standing before the walls of Troy.  Aias d’amphi Menoitiadei sakos euru kalupsas hestekei hos tis te leon peri hoisi tekessin, but Ajax covered the son of Menoitios with his broad shield and stood fast, like a lion over its children.’  (page136; diacritical marks missing due to my inability to add them.)

There’s a third quote that I like best but it is a serious spoiler for book four so I’ve left it out.

Unrelated:  Chicago was lovely for the holiday, if a little chilly on Thursday.  The Chemist made a turdork (duck stuffed with turkey breast and chorizo) that was delicious.  He also made a salted caramel chocolate cake (crushed animal cracker base with inches of ganache, basically) for dessert.  (And breakfast the next day – cake for breakfast is a valid life choice, okay.)  It was lick-the-plate good, and I’ve asked for the recipe.   Lunch at Revolution Brewery one day, AHL hockey on Saturday followed by amazing pumpkin gnocchi at Letizia Fiore, and lots of couch potato-ing for the NCAA, NHL, and NFL.  The only bad part was the trip home — delayed 2 hours for lack of flight crew and then with a dog on the flight that barked for a solid hour.

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This and that

My reading for the month was up, relative to the rest of my reading this year.  In addition to the books I read at the beach, I finished K.A. Mitchell’s short Just A Little Bad, which I liked as a supplement to other books in that series (it wouldn’t stand on its own).  I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Phryne Fisher mysteries, so I downloaded the first (Cocaine Blues) when it was on sale for $0.99; I found the narrator’s tone/voice to be not to my taste (it read as a combination of ennui and contempt for the world to me).  Also tried Rachel Bach’s Fortune’s Pawn, because it too has gotten raves.  Eh, maybe I’ll circle back to it someday but I haven’t felt engaged enough to get past the first chapter.

I did manage to re-read Whispers Underground, my favorite of the Rivers of London series so far, and will be re-reading Broken Homes next in anticipation of Foxglove Summer, which is due out in November.  But first I’m trying Sayers’ Strong Poison.

~~~

I think the romance blogosphere knows about the defamation complaint filed by Elloras Cave against Dear Author.  I went to the clerk of court’s website and downloaded a copy of the complaint (which is free, if you’re interested).  I am…not particularly impressed by the memorandum of law in support of the TRO request, but I don’t know enough about defamation/slander/libel/etc. to have an informed opinion about its substance.  I do agree with the general consensus that the suit looks like an attempt to gag criticism generally by targeting a higher profile community member.

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An IKEA Kallax shelving unit awaits assembly in my spare room.  And yet I’m pretty sure I’ll still have books in boxes.  This despite the continuing Book Purge.

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SBD: what I’m reading right now

What I’m reading right now:  The Food of Spain by Claudia Rosen.  It’s a gift book, one that I asked for.  It’s a cookbook but includes narrative about culture and history.  Will I cook many any of the recipes?  That remains to be seen.  But the book is a beautiful object and I have enjoyed paging through it so far.

The other thing I’m reading:  Imogenedisease’s original fiction set in a slightly alternative NHL.  This is all The Biochemist’s fault: she linked to the first story and also somehow conned me into becoming a hockey fan.  Some of it might qualify as gay romance, while other stories not so much.  I’m ambivalent about hockey RPF in some ways, both the tropes and self-insertion (the back button is my friend), but there is some thoughtful writing there, hiding among the porn.

Other bookish things:

For the first time since 2001 (I think?), I did not renew my B&N membership.  It’s just not worth it for me at this point: the coupons aren’t accepted at the bookstore closest to me, and the largest one nearby has a poor selection of books (but lots of toys and Nook accessories) that diminishes my interest in browsing.

Aside from Roden’s book, I did not ask for any books for the holiday. I gave two Isabel Allende books as gifts.  B&N gift cards, which have long been a gift staple, were neither given nor received this year.

Last week, JA Konrath’s Cherry Bomb appeared on Amazon’s self-publisher list of best sellers, according to Media Bistro.  I’m kind of confused/curious about who determines what is self-published and how it is done.  I get that Konrath has the rights to the electronic book and self-published the ebook…but it was originally published by Hyperion in 2009.  Does the initial publication via traditional publisher not matter when they are determining who/what is self-published?  I would expect that the book’s long tail and probably a fair portion of the readers of that series were cultivated by the original publication, not the self-published iteration.

 

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Apparently I’m crazy

According to a random commenter, who apparently wants to be a writer but can’t afford an editor or proofreader and doesn’t want to do the actual work of being in an online critique group, I am crazy for thinking that self-published authors should invest either the time or social capital in those things.

Whatever.  Maybe I am crazy, but I’m also a person with disposable income directed at books and a reader who kills Kindle samples when they demonstrate shitty grasp of punctuation, spelling, verb tenses, etc.  Make of that what you will.

Mostly I just wanted to roll my eyes at the commenter, who comes across as a whiny child who needs the Debbie Allen Fame speech.  Or maybe just Ursula the Sea Witch’s warning:  if you want to cross the bridge, you have to pay the toll.

 

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