In reverse order:
The temptation. Audible.com is having a sale on classics through September 30th: two books for one credit. I bought copies of Don Quijote, Middlemarch, A Passage to India, and North & South. I’ll have audio material for ages now, although I feel vaguely guilty about buying yet another version of DQ (5th – ebook and 2 editions in English, 1 edition in Spanish, and now the audio English). Actually, in addition to the bargain price of the books, the narrator was the draw for two of them. Juliet Stevenson did a fabulous job with Persuasion, and she narrates Middlemarch and North & South. I’m going to end up buying audio versions of all Austen’s work…and A Room of One’s Own…and Lady Windermere’s Fan. Oh gods, my budget.
The bad. I downloaded Chaser by Rick Reed; I can’t remember who recommended it originally, but the blurb was kind of interesting, in part because it had an overweight hero, which is as rare in m/m as an overweight heroine is in het romance, if not more so. The writing wasn’t terrible, in terms of mechanics, although I did highlight some weird phrasing and punctuation. But the stereotypes! The manipulative, exploitative, sexually-overdone, shallow, cosmetically and gym enhanced BFF. The hero who let his BFF walk all over him, who was ashamed of who he was attracted to, who jumped to conclusions at the drop of a hat, and engaged in diva-ish behavior. The other hero could’ve been interesting, but he was just a straw man. After two hot nights of sex, he was motivated to change himself for his One Tru Wuv (to whom he couldn’t actually talk about his body issues or the big changes he was making in his life), but there was no foundation for who he had been before or why he was changing other than to appeal to the other MC. Who was, basically, an asshole who couldn’t face his own fetishes even in the safety of a therapist’s office and never bothered to mention that he liked large men but then got pissed off when his two night stand lost a bunch of weight. This could have been a great story, but ended up being a shrill, gay version of all the het romances in which characters only get an HEA or HFN if they are buff and gym-polished. F to the nth degree.
The good. The End of Nowhere by Elizabeth George. Really enjoyed this book and have things to say about it but want to reread it before attempting what will likely be a spoilerific review. This is George’s YA debut, and her afterword notes how much her editor had to guide her and how steep her learning curve was for this new genre. Which makes me wonder: another big name author jumping on the bandwagon of YA in light of its recent popularity? Back at RWA2009, one of the panels I attended was about how to write YA. One of the key points of the panel was that things that work in adult fiction do not work for YA fiction and not all authors can or should attempt to publish in the genre. On one hand, this read as YA, not adult fiction edited into YA format or wedged into its constraints. On the other hand, at some point the YA market will be saturated; as much as I like YA, I like adult fiction more and am not willing to read ever increasing amounts of YA as former adult fiction authors transition to the current money maker.