Category Archives: Books

WWW Wednesday 9-10-2014

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading, and is cross-posted at the Book View Café blog.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

• What are you currently reading?

kiss of deceptionI’m reading a library ebook–The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson, and I’m really enjoying it. This is the first in a YA fantasy trilogy. Yes, it’s yet another love triangle and I know that sends a lot of people screaming, people who are over-triangled-out since Twilight started the craze. That part isn’t bothering me yet, though I’m only about 25% in. I find the world-building fascinating and the main character, the First Daughter of the land [which translates loosely as princess, only moreso] is strong and crafty. I had forgotten everything I’d read about the book when I first stumbled across it, and so when I started reading I didn’t know what to expect. I’m glad it worked out that way, because I wasn’t prepared for the unexpected turn of events that started the ball rolling.

Beautiful cover, too.

For My Lady's HeartI’m also listening to a different book, oddly enough, another book about a princess in a somewhat similar situation, though she’s on the run for a different reason–For My Lady’s Heart. Laura Kinsale is a fabulous writer, and Nicholas Boulton is a fabulous actor/narrator, and they are a match made in heaven.  I am so loving the story of Ruck and Melanthe, a medieval tale with a wonderful gyrfalcon as a character. I’d never heard of them prior to reading this book when it first was published years ago, and ever since have longed to see one. Instead I’ll share a picture.

gyr_whiteThe characterizations, as always with a Kinsale book, are complex and  rich, and the world she describes is formed by the religious interpretations of the day as well as political intrigues, all twisting and twining their way around two hearts in the best romantic fashion.



• What did you recently finish reading?

firebirdI recently read The Firebird by Susannah Kearsley, which happened to win a RITA from Romance Writers of America this year. I have puzzled over this and discussed it with a friend, another writer, and I have very mixed feelings about it. I found the two love stories interesting and even compelling, and yet the magic that binds them fell flat for me. The heroine is gifted with psychometry, meaning if she touches something, she can see images from its past–who held it, where they were, etc. The hero is also gifted with even stronger psychic gifts, and together they are tracking down the provenance of a carved piece of wood that takes them from London to Scotland, across Europe to St Petersburg. I loved the historical sequences, but they are also what left me unsatisfied.

Was it because I wasn’t reading, and was listening? Katherine Kellgren* is another amazing narrator, and I generally love her narration, but that doesn’t mean that perhaps a bit of the “woo-woo” factor didn’t quite come across the way it might have if I’d been reading. The problem? When we went back in time, we were in the point of view of the young girl [and as she aged, woman] who lived then. We are in her head, experiencing everything through her, including her thoughts–and this is NOT the way the psychic gifts are described. The hero and heroine should only be able to observe, not inhabit the mind and body.

Was I, the reader, supposed to read this the way I would any book that tells two stories, and just go back and forth between them, and not expect the pieces of the past to be written as they would have been experienced by our contemporary hero and heroine? Perhaps. But that feels like a cheat. Because everything about the flashes back in time, including when they are interrupted abruptly, is written as if we are really going back and forth WITH them, experiencing it WITH them. Which means, we should not be able to know what the character in the past is thinking and we should not be living those scenes through her.

However, I am in the minority. It won the RITA! Congrats to Kearsley, who wrote an awesome book. I did really enjoy it, for all my quibbles. I may have to pick up some more Kearsleys now. Yeah, I know, I’m late to the party. She’s been a best seller for years.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

gothgirlrisingAnother cool cover, huh? Remember a couple of years ago when I read Fanboy and Goth Girl  by Barry Lyga? I really loved it, and just figured out that a sequel came out, Goth Girl Rising. So I nabbed it. But reading the description, I am confused. I don’t remember much about the first book other than loving it a lot. I don’t remember how it ended. And the beginning of Goth Girl Rising talks about something that I don’t remember happening. Maybe it did.

So I am going to have to skim the end of the first book to remind myself what happened so that I’m set and read to read the new one. I really enjoy the YA I’ve read that is written by guys. They bring a different voice to it, and it’s a voice I enjoy. Earlier I mentioned reading My Girlfriend Bites by Doug Solter, which totally fits into the niche and is another book with a voice I loved a lot. Oh, the girlfriend in question is a werewolf, so yeah, she bites.


What about you? What have you been reading lately? Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell us!



Filed under Books, Reading, WWW Wednesday

Of Paper-Cuts and the Dangers Therein

Mary Robinette Kowal and Neil Gaiman

Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog today addresses authenticity in historical fiction, and digging deeper to find the right reference.

The term that concerned her was “paper cut.”  Making a humorous reference to a paper-cut as a safety issue works today, but not two hundred years ago when paper didn’t have sharp edges. She began to go through potential ‘safety issues’ involved in handling one’s correspondence, until she found one that worked–but even better, it was more interesting.

She says, “This is a better joke, and I got to it because I’m using language that
reflects the culture. Doing so also forces me to really think about what
is happening in the scene, and what the lives of people in the time
would be like.”

This is true, and it’s what I love about research, even though sometimes I drive myself mad googling and digging through my own references, and sometimes asking on facebook or twitter or emailing colleagues with vast knowledge in the area of my current projects.  What makes it worth it is that I inevitably end up with something, at the very least, more interesting than my original thought.

Often it opens up a new avenue to explore in the book itself, an ‘aha!’ moment that will brighten up my day, week, or longer, as a wonderful new ‘what if this happens?’ presents itself, because that small detour for research took me to new knowledge of the subject I hadn’t considered before. Sometimes it makes a scene ‘pop’ and work in a terrific way I hadn’t anticipated.

Sometimes–and this is more common than you might think–it presents a plot twist that makes me squee.

So, am I musing about research here, and authenticity, and if you don’t write historical fiction, you don’t need to care?

No. The idea of historical authenticity just got us into this idea.

The bigger idea is ‘digging deeper’ whenever the first thing that springs from your fingertips is so natural, so easy, so obvious–that it might even be a cliché.

While the paper-cut reference was satisfactory if the setting was contemporary, and nobody would have stopped cold and wondered about it, nor would any readers probably have thought, “How obvious, what a cliché,” it’s also worth highlighting or marking for later thought. (Never stop your writing process in the middle of a scene that is flowing over this kind of issue. Note that MRK was returning to this much later rather than during the writing process.)

Even if the setting is the year 2014 and paper-cuts are real, painful and can be funny if used properly in your story–if you dig deeper, can you think of something else to substitute? There are several options, and I’m sure you can come up with more.

1)  Some other easily-imagined minor office injury that is less generic and expected and thus–more interesting.

2)  A minor injury that reflects their specific location, business or interests, whether they are in a taxidermy shop, a morgue, or having a picnic in Central Park.

3)  A minor injury that refers back to something one of the characters did earlier, something meaningful. It can be a jab or tease, it can be an insult, or it can be a tender reassurance.

Have fun with it!

Oh, and sometimes, after much work and consideration, you will decide it really can be a paper-cut, after all.

Cross-posted at classofpooks, the place where I post links to helpful things for writers.

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WWW Wednesday 7-09-2014

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

• What are you currently reading?

equal ritesSeveral things, actually. Some for research for The Dead Shall Live, Volume Two of The Fury Triad. Some just for pleasure, but always with a British accent/voice.

Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl, Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire, The Anatomy of Story, for research and such. Mary Balogh’s A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau, Terry Pratchett’s Equal Rites (which I somehow ended up buying on sale for Kindle and also the audiobook, which gives me choices on how to read/listen), and Carolyn Jewel’s Indiscreet for pleasure. 

As usual I wonder if I’m providing spoilers when I reveal what I’m reading for research. As usual, I decide if you figure it out, you deserve to know. Not that I’d confirm, mind you!



• What did you recently finish reading?

silkwormThe Silkworm, and it was a fabulous read. Just as I suspected it would be. Now I simply have to wait for the next to be written, sigh.

As I said on goodreads: Jo Rowling has knocked another one out of the park. Excellent plot and characterization. Points off for unnecessary use of author intrusion on a few points, but still, excellent book.


• What do you think you’ll read next?

Hopefully I’ll finish some of the ones I’ve started and mention them here, maybe, on goodreads for sure. Beyond that? I have no idea!


What about you? What have you been reading lately? Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell us!



Filed under Book Pooks Wrote, Books, Reading, Writing, WWW Wednesday

Tuesday Top Ten: Bookish Confessions

I’m participating in the Tuesday Top Ten, something I’ve never done before, because I am in the mood to make some bookish confessions (today’s top ten list).

1)  I gave away or sold many, many boxes of TBR books when I received my first Kindle for Christmas a few years ago. For some reason the new Kindle made me realize that the books I’d been accumulating over the many years with the thought, “This looks interesting,” hadn’t been interesting enough (to me) to tempt me to read them, no matter how many times I’d picked them up and read a page or few. And it was time to free up the air around me instead of having it weighed down with dusty books that looked interesting but weren’t. I know. Heresy. But it made me feel amazingly wonderful to start finding room to walk and move around in my office, instead of navigating around boxes and piles of books.

2)  My original idea of not loading up my Kindle with piles of TBR books that I never get around to reading was successful for a year or two. Instead, I loaded it up with sample. My plan was not to buy books unless I’d already begun them and they’d passed the “might be interesting” test and were definitely in the “interesting enough to buy, store and most importantly–read” test. Impulse-sampling (thinking, “this looks interesting” and grabbing the free sample) almost always will satisfy me, without spending any money. This is a win.

3)  Unfortunately, I have begun snagging the “this looks interesting” books that are free or .99 and my Kindle (or cloud) is cluttered with them. The problem is that I rarely go back through them and find new things to read. Which leads to…

4)  I wasn’t bitten by the iPad bug even though the Resident Storm Chaser has one. I have been totally happy with my black-and-white, eInk Kindles (except I wish they had a whiter page, which is why I may end up buying a paperwhite). But I eventually realized that the reason I don’t go back through my library and browse is because the black-and-white covers just don’t have the power to grab me the way color covers do. And this makes me look longingly at iPad minis or perhaps Kindle Fires. What I should do is start browsing using the Kindle app on my laptop.

139_Luxe1_FINALfront5) Which led me to a side-confession, not Kindle-related.  I am way too influenced by book covers. A wonderful book cover makes me click through every time and has on occasion made me buy a book I never read. (The Luxe, I’m looking at you.) The display of these books at BN was mind-blowingly gorgeous. The way the spines lined up was stunning. But I was never able to get into the book. Never. It’s still around here somewhere.

6) I re-listen to audiobooks far more often than I re-read books.

7) I’ve never read one of my all-time favorite novels, Lolita. Instead, I listened to the audiobook with Jeremy irons reading.  i bought the book in hardcover and it now lives in my personal library waiting for me to reread it, and I will, oh yes I will.

8) I have a strange hoarding issue. I hoard unread books that I know are going to be divine. Example: I still haven’t read the last Lymond book, even though I was champing at the bit to get into it as soon as I finished the penultimate Lymond book, and it was already on my Kindle waiting. I still haven’t read Persuasion, many friends’ favorite Jane Austen novel. Though I adore Terry Pratchett, there are many of his books that remain on my TBR list.  There is something so devastatingly final about finishing ‘all’ and knowing they are all gone.

9)  My favorite reading emotion is angst, but only when followed by glorious and triumphant and ecstatic joy. (Yes, I want books to make me feel, damn it, feel.

10) I don’t have enough friends who love the same books I love, but that is because I’m an odd duck and love an odd assortment of books. So I have many friends who love some of my favorite books, and end up reading reviews and book blogs in varying fandoms and genres without feeling a member of any of them.

Those are my bookish confessions on this fine July Monday. What are yours?

[Now, I must get some words written if I’m going to finish the second book in the Fury Triad any time this year. Which is a good thing, because I can’t wait to read it myself.]



Filed under Books, Reading, Writing

WWW Wednesday 7-2-2014

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

• What are you currently reading?


Note: This is the cover of the UK edition.

I am finally reading the new Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling novel, The Silkworm.  Maybe you’re one of those people who never read the Harry Potter books, because, you know, kid stuff. I suggest you dip your toes into this mystery series set in London, and see what all the hooplah is about.

Jo Rowling writes fabulous characters, descriptions, and has been known to throw some awesome plot twists in the reader’s path. There’s a reason she’s so successful, and I have yet to read a book she wrote that I didn’t love.

Okay, correction. Sort of. I couldn’t bear to read that stupid Tales of Beedle the Bard so didn’t. So I guess it still stands true that I haven’t read a book she wrote I didn’t love, because I didn’t read that one. Or, for that matter, the Hogwarts textbooks. So let me correct my statement: I have yet to read a novel she wrote that I didn’t love.

• What did you recently finish reading?

masqueraders audiobook

Since this book was written in 1928, it has had a gazillion covers. This one is simply the most recent, and specifically for the audiobook.

I just finished listening to The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer. Delightful tale of cross-dressing Jacobites and in pure Heyer fashion, the ‘gentleman’ always know all, see through all pretenses, and appreciate the heroine for everything that sets her apart from the crowd, good and bad. I’ll admit, that one aspect of Heyer does get on my nerves from time to time, the omnipotence of the heroes in her books, but it’s minor in the general scheme of things, and I presume she was writing the kind of hero she likes, since she was so consistent.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

foxglove summer

Note: After the first book, the publishers are now using the same covers on US and UK editions. Good for them!

I just pre-ordered the new Ben Aaronovitch/Peter Grant mystery from the UK, which I am sincerely hoping drops prices between now and September, because the exchange rate is going to kill me. It’s expensive being a purist on such things. But I am. If they would release it in the US at the same time I’d simply download the audiobook and wait for a sale to purchase the hardcover, but the only way I can read the book in September is pre-order, so I have.

PatriciaBurroughs_ThisCrumblingPageant_800pxAnd of course, I’m doing constant re-read of This Crumbling Pageant, since I can’t write the sequel without dipping backward to check details!


What about you? What have you been reading lately? Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell us!



Filed under Books, Reading, WWW Wednesday