Thursday, July 26, 2012

Feature Follow Friday (6)

Hey there, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read post a weekly blog hop for book blogs, and you should get involved!

 Today's question is which book was your favorite summer reading book that you were required to read.

Hands down: The Great Gatsby. I love the characters, and I love the author, and I love the way he writes and thinks. I often consider myself the Fitzgerald to my husband's Hemingway.

If you want to link up (which you do, trust me), just go ahead and sign in! Make sure to follow the hosts and the featured blogs at the top, then follow anyone else who catches your interest!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book Review - The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

I loved The Night Circus, not only for its swirling plot lines and unique characters, but also for the stylistic interweaving of story and structure to form a complete and mysterious shroud that becomes not only the book you are reading, but the content you are reading about. When you open The Night Circus, you don't get a book. You get a night circus.

It's magical.

The mixed use of second and third person gives the reader a sense of what those who enter the circus must feel like: involved yet apart, understanding yet confused. The present tense seems at first an odd choice for a book bound by dates and fictitious history, but it further proves the point that time is not what it seems to be. Reading about past events in present tense was a thrill ride, as much as any of the descriptive tents were. To nail this theory home, the telling of the story in bits and pieces, markedly not in chronological order was brilliance.

The Night Circus forces you to pay attention to all details in the style, structure and content, lest you miss out on this enigmatic world of intrigue.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest Post on Heroes and Book GIVEAWAY

Today I am fortunate enough to have been able to guest blog for Crystal at Reading Between the Wines. I talk a little bit about what makes a good hero (they're harder to come up with than you think.)

More importantly, I'm giving away a free copy of Hit and Stay if you want to head over there and put your name in the rafflecopter!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review - Nidus by Sebastian Gray

A great book has just gone up for free on Amazon! I suggest you download the freebie because it's an amazing contemplation of the darker sources of life and lust. It explores hidden desires in frank spirit, with no trussing or dressing up in the typical romantic fairy-tale fashion. It's a gritty and sordid look at the underside of human nature. Definitely worth your time.

Sebastian Gray doesn't mince words or shy away from difficult ethical questions in his book, Nidus. The perfect mix between a romance and a twisted noir, Nidus is a Cinderella story of the most evocative kind. for yourself.

"A smoothly compelling tale of speculative eroticism, NIDUS is set in the summertime playground of Newport, Rhode Island, depicted here as a sensuously intoxicating place where the lascivious comes as if coated in tangerine-flavored candy, where titillation floats everywhere in the pink air of summer evenings.

It is a Newport where it seems natural for just about every alluring person to be caught up in blithe if mysterious debaucheries. Among them are Helana, the sleek, hitherto serene, mature trophy wife of an aging yacht owner, and Terry, a poor, loose and often ill-used unwed young mother.

Though ostensibly from opposite sides of the tracks, Helana and Terry come to be erotically manipulated by the same man, Lathian Kometes. A journalist who specializes in society exposés for glossy magazines, Lathian is in town to cover the wedding of the season.

With what idle time he has on his hands, Lathian seems casually intent on a more intimate and experimental form of exposé, using one woman to expose to the other what she would keep concealed from herself.

Is he doing this merely for the sake of a Pan-like amusement? Is he what he appears to portray himself as, some wry apostle of eros? Or is he more sinister, a modern slave-hunter of sorts?"

The relationships are sordid and surreal but strike a closer chord with real-life strife than one would like to admit. The use of sexual exploration brings the reader to new heights, but underneath those tones lie struggles with identity, personality and control in all aspects of life. The subtle themes reach out to all audiences, hidden well within the fantastical and imaginative.

You'll be engrossed from start to finish. Plus, I know the author, and they're brilliant!

Go. Download. Read.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review - The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty

The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty, is a fabulous book on every level. The surprising story of a middle-aged matriarch leaves no twist in society unexplored, leaves no comment on morality, success or life itself unsaid. And it's all said in brilliant story-telling prose meant to make a reader think about the ideas behind the themes without even realizing it.

As you turn the pages wondering what will happen to the chaperone, Cora, and her 15-year-old charge, you are actually thinking about the human constructs of acceptance and loss, wondering about the human definitions of success and failure, and contemplating where morality really lies in the span of our own lives.

It starts slowly, but the descriptions carry you through the first few chapters, and these are necessary to set the melodious and normal backdrop that the adventures and ideas take root against. It provides the necessary context of a mid-western life, and the stunning contrast of modernity, momentum and gumption that even the most normal people show over the passage of time.

It made me cry.

And yet the storyline disputes set the resolutions up so wonderously soundly that not only are you gladdened at the end--for life, for people, for ideas--you're also aware that beneath the surface of these words, these stories, is a lingering message, a message about how we define our own little worlds, about how short-sighted people can see. We see how our mundane-seeming lives and thoughts are all pieces of a bigger, interlocking puzzle.

It was brilliant. Truly.

I think the biggest testament to this book, though, is not what I think of it, but how it made me feel. And not about the specific thoughts within the book, but about me. About my family. About life.

I felt good; I feel good.

It allowed me to open my view of life, even if just momentarily. I saw my life not as a 30-year-old mother of twins, but as I was as a child, and as I will be as an older adult. It reminded me that even though each day seems tediously the same, so many changes are subtly occurring inside and out that every moment is driving to the next, and every action can make a difference.

In the book, Cora lives through horse-drawn buggies, Prohibition, two world wars, the Depression, the civil rights era, all the way up to the 1980s. She goes from wearing corsets to watching gay pride rallies. Life can be long and it is always beautiful.

And after reading her complicated tale, I look at my own simple life with my loving husband and kids and I am grateful to be me, living in the era in which I live. Yes, things can be bad, in the immediate, but long-term, life is beautiful.

This is the best book I've read in a long time.

 I realize I've told you absolutely nothing about the content of this book, so here's the blurb:

Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six year old chaperone who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she's in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever.

For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn't what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora's eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.                  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Who Is the Romance Audience?

Is there such a thing as too intelligent?

Signs point to yes, at least when it comes to romance.

I recently got a work back, and the editor mentioned that my writing bent toward literary and the piece may be too intelligent for readers. Romance readers are looking for more fun, more fluff, she says.

First, have you read me? I am no Proust, that's for sure. It won't take much for me to 'dumb down' a manuscript. Change a word here, lift the mood there, take out the some of the anger and true-to-life emotion, and you've got a ready-to-read romance.

But does it need to be this way? Romance readers and writers face a huge stigma in our society. They're looked at as less than, sometimes, and for what? Because they like to read or write as an escape? Because they prefer topics that are fun for them? Because they don't trouble themselves by dealing with heavy topics all the time? Is that so bad?

No, it's not, and that's what the editor was getting at. Her message wasn't, 'dumb it down for the stupid readers,' it was 'readers in this genre are looking for fun, why not give it to them?'

It's the societal perception that skews statements like hers. The perception that people who enjoy romance novels, or even young adult literature, cannot handle the literary classics, the contemporary works of written art. And that's not true. When someone picks up a romance or YA book, it's not because they can't read Kafka. It's because they don't want to at that moment. At that moment, they want to read a piece with simple story and narrative that compels them along on a journey of feeling, adventure, and fun.

Personally, I enjoy literary fiction more than any other type of work. But teasing ideas out of text can get tedious after a while. They call some books "beach reads" for a reason. When you're relaxing and just want to get away from yourself for a while, perhaps you'll pick up a simpler piece. That doesn't make you dumb, and it doesn't make the book you're reading trash. The book is doing it's job and you're getting away from yours.

Nothing wrong with that.

So, to those who say the romance audience is a group of unintelligent, base, unthinking plebeians out for raunch and sex and love stories, I say no.

They're bankers, and lawyers, and waitresses and stay at home moms. They're business people, management, and cashiers.

What I'm trying to say is, they're everybody. We all need a break sometimes, and that's what genre fiction (any genre, really) is about. Why not let them do their jobs instead of being so busy looking down on them that you forget to have any fun yourself?

To each reader his own, I say. Why don't we stop judging, and start reading?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion

I gave it three out of five stars...

Warm BodiesWarm Bodies by Isaac Marion
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book had a great idea and could have been amazing. Unfortunately, the author lost sight of it somewhere in the latter third of the novel, and the climax was boring, depleted of energy and lackluster. I had a bunch of questions swirling in my mind about the wonderful characters he'd concocted, only to have them go unanswered. I love a good love story as much as the next guy, but there was so much more to work with here. We needed a fight scene, an ending, a moral. Something.

The idea behind the novel though, fantastic.

View all my reviews