Hello Friends! Today we have Julia visiting with us! For those of you who have been around for a while – Julia used to comment with some frequency, if I recall correctly. Anyway, we also “chat” on twitter – and as you know I’ve been trying to find reviewers. I wanted to trick recruit Julia – but she refused. She did, however, agree to do quarterly (?) – it’s 4:01 AM so I’m a bit slap happy and non-high-brain-function-y and too lazy to search the calendar – posts about the books she’s reading! So here she is! The very first one!
What I’ve Been Reading
The first books I can remember being swept away in were fairy tales. I had a hardcover edition of the collected Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I read them all repeatedly, as though through repetition I could pull myself a bit further into their world. From there I found other folk stories and the ancient myths – the Greek and Roman, Norse and Egyptian, Bulfinch’s and Hamilton’s.
And then I found romance. The spun sugar sweetness of Barbara Cartland, Harlequins that I scoffed like M&Ms and the dense, velvety stories of Judith Krantz (And we had to discuss her because they are making a pilot of Scruples. Squeeeeee!)
From there I was dragged by school and my bibliophile father into the Great Books. Contrary as I was, I surprised myself and fell in love with so many of them. But not Ethan Frome: still hate that.
But eventually I found myself coming back to romance. One of the things I love about romance is the great variety of stories in the genre. Despite that, I read in great chunks. Bundles of vampire books and then an armload of historicals followed by a stack of hot and steamy.
The last few months it has been mostly contemporary romances – and mostly series romance at that.
There was the justly praised All They Need by Sarah Mayberry. This book is an example of what Harlequin series do well. The book opens with both the hero and heroine involved with someone else. When they meet sometime later, the heroine Mel has been beaten down by the unending censure of her bastard of an ex-husband. The hero is weighed down by worries of his parent’s illness. They both have been pretty bruised by life, as people are by the time they are well into adulthood. What I loved about this book is the way Mayberry’s characters cautiously step closer to each other while wrestling with their past. None of the pain and sadness is glossed over here, and yet, there was such a thread of optimism winding through their story that I never once doubted that a HEA awaited them. This is why she’s an autobuy author for me.
Barbara Wallace’s The Cinderella Bride has an irresistible cover, but what really sold me on this is the first scene in the book of the heroine doggedly waiting in the cold and rain, determined not to be defeated, or at the very least, not to give up. From that first scene I adored Emma for her gentleness coupled with her steely resolve. Sometimes romances with a boss/secretary theme have a relationship that is so unbalanced that it’s uncomfortable. Despite the difference in their positions, Emma is clearly a match for Gideon and I appreciate the fact that they didn’t ignore their business relationship as the romance blossomed. I loved the blend of fairy tale Harlequin Romance magic and the realistic feel of the story.
I’ve glommed onto Liz Talley’s backlist and just read her first novel for SuperRomance, Vegas Two-Step. This really is a romance in two steps. The first half shows good girl Nellie letting her hair down in Vegas. She and Jack meet and quickly fall for each other in Vegas. Then Nellie goes back home to her small town. In the second half Jack follows her there determined to win her over. This is the part that really won me over. I adore the stories where the hero and heroine fall hard and fast, but sometimes it’s hard to buy into their happy future together if they’ve only known each other a week. Here I got the best of both worlds – the rush of true love overtaking Jack and Nellie and then the surety of watching their relationship move solidly into a real world happily ever after.
The Getaway Car is a short nonfiction work by Ann Patchett about writing. At least it’s ostensibly about writing. It isn’t anything so unwieldy as craft lessons. Instead it’s a series of lessons on how to carve out a writing life, or really, any authentic and meaningful life. Ms. Patchett tells stories of facing down doubts and wrong turns and if you’re very lucky, finding one or two souls to guide your way. All of this in her wonderful prose that reminded me of the romance and the terror of staring down a blank page.
The top of my TBR pile is Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, the new Mayberry title More Than One Night, the last of Shannon Stacey’s series (Yours to Keep), and Lisa Kleypas’ new contemporary Rainshadow Road. But I think I see a turn ahead in my reading road. Thea Harrison’s latest book Oracle Moon, the next Alpha and Omega book by Patricia Briggs (Fair Game), a new title from Darynda Jones (Second Grave On the Left), and I think I might be ready to tackle the fifth book in the Chicagoland Vampires series (Drink Deep) . I’ve been warned it doesn’t end happily. Meep!
Anyone have anything else I should add to my TBR pile? What great book have you read that I shouldn’t miss?