This is a Good Book Thursday, December 31, 2020

Welp, this is the last day of this did-you-get-the-number-of-that-truck-that-hit-us-and-then-backed-up-and-ran-over-us-again-several-times-freaking year. As Dave Barry said, I used to think some of my years were the nadir (my major-relationship collapse/abortion/diagnosis of stage 3 cancer summer springs to mind) but now I have a baseline for all eternity. Of course that’s what I thought about the summer of ’83, too, so please god, let this be the low point in years. One of the redeeming factors: books. Lots and lots of very good books.

This week it was My Girls, Todd Fisher’s memoir of his life with Debbie and Carrie, a re-read of Loretta Chase’s Last Night’s Scandal, and the fantastic Antiquarian Sticker Book. But if I look back at the whole year, I think the best book memories are the new writers I discovered, the ones I can re-read over and over and be enthralled each time: Mhairi MacFarlane (If I’d Never Met You), Casey McQuiston (Red, White, and Royal Blue), Sarina Bowen (The Year We Fell Down), Alexis Hall(Boyfriend Material), Naomi Novik (A Deadly Education), and ohmygod Martha Wells (I will buy Murderbot books as soon as they’re published forever). I know a lot of those are not new authors, but they were new to me and made me very happy.

So what good book did you read this week? What were your faves this year (this no-good, horrible, very bad year)?

Oh, and Happy New Year! (Just read until it’s 2021. And drink, but mostly read.)


Tropes, A Defense Of

So I fell down a black hole there for awhile (past two weeks, sorry about that) and survived on Diet Coke and Vernors and a LOT of romance novels. So now I have Thoughts. I wrote a whole post on “smirk,” and then realized I was just repeating myself–“Damn you, writers who don’t bother to know the precise meanings of words, get off of my lawn Kindle!”–and nobody needs that. Then I started thinking about tropes.

A trope is “the use of figurative language, via word, phrase or an image, for artistic effect such as using a figure of speech.” (Thank you, Wikipedia.). That’s the definition I learned doing my lit degrees. But “The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.” And in fact, the Merriam Webster Thesaurus gives as equivalents “banality, bromide, chestnut, cliché, commonplace, groaner, homily,” and several more tsking equivalents.

I disagree. Continue reading


The Re-Readables: A Theory

I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary non-supernatural romance, and I’m noticing that while there are always books that I close after two chapters because I can’t take any more, there are a lot more that I finish. Those finished books fall into two categories: the ones I liked but that I doubt I’ll ever read again and the Re-Readables.

I’m pretty sure that everybody’s criteria for re-readable is different, but I’ve been looking back over the things I’ve re-read lately, some of them over a dozen times, like the Murderbots, the Rivers of London, some of the Ivy Years, some Pratchetts, some Heyers, some Stouts, some Francis, some MacFarlane, and others, and I’ve narrowed it down to four things: Continue reading


This is a Good Book Thursday, Oct 8, 2020

I’ve mostly been rereading my own works-in-progress along with some research books, old school in hardcover. I’d really missed underlining in the real world. I reread an old Mary Stewart and was surprised by how light on the romance it was. As in, no arc. And I’d loved that book many decades ago, too. I’m desperate to find something to take my mind off the increasingly bizarro news, so I will keep searching for re-reads. The problem is that I’ve reread my fave Heyers, Francises, Allinghams,Aaronovitch’s, and Murderbots so many times I can recite them now. So maybe Pratchett and Wodehouse. I can read Baxter falling down the stairs several more times without fatigue, I’m pretty sure.

What are you reading?


Argh Author: Brenda Margriet’s After Words

Brenda Margriet has a new book out today (!), and if you act fast, you can get a great deal on Leeza’s journey.

A mystifying diary ignites a shared quest…and an unexpected romance.

July 21st, 1941
“The journey starts here. I don’t know if I’ll be able to record everything about it but I’ll try. My mother made me promise that I write in this journal as often as possible.”

The moment Leeza Boychuk reads these words, painstakingly penned in a battered, time-stained diary by a young Canadian soldier, she knows her life will change. With a failing business, a philandering ex-husband and an ocean between her and her son, she has her own battles. Yet the infantryman’s innocent yet brutal story haunts her.

Determined to return the journal to the soldier’s family, she enlists the help of Gavin Fletcher, an enigmatic widower. His calm steadfastness is soothing to Leeza’s tattered soul—until an unexpected kiss ignites a longing she isn’t ready to explore.

But Leeza can’t abandon her quest…even if it means confronting her feelings for this increasingly intriguing man.

And here’s your deal from Brenda:

AFTER WORDS is available for $2.99 for a limited time only. This link provides access to all retailers, including Amazon, B&N, Apple and Kobo.

(For those unfamiliar with the term, “seasoned romance” features main characters who have some living under their belts. After all, love isn’t restricted to twenty-year-olds!)


Rating Romance, a Personal System

I’ve been reading a lot of romance lately, and the results have been mixed. Sometimes I get a third of the way through and everything is just annoying, so I flip to the end and then bail. Sometimes the book is so good that I race through it and then start it again. More often, it’s good enough to finish, but when I’m done, I think, “I’ll never read that one again.” Then they just stack up on my Kindle. Reader kindling. (Sorry.). While my laptop was silent this weekend, I started thinking about a personal rating system, probably not useful for anyone else but a way to identify the authors I was going to go back to and the authors I was going to metaphorically throw things at, and it seemed to me that the same things kept triggering me, points at which my brain flashed “OH, that was great” or “One more of those and I’m setting this book on digital fire.” Flash points, if you will, the reading experience temperature at which the reader ignites with glee or rage.

I figured a ten-point system. All books start out with 100 points, the C of the book ratings, the books I finish but never read again. Books get plus ten if they do something magnificently. Minus ten would be a novel that does something so annoying I want to burn it in my back yard. Plus and minus five would be things that are nice surprises or annoying but not complete deal-breakers on their own. Plus and minus one are small pleasures and small annoyances that I could absolutely overlook as long as they don’t mount up (nibbled to death by ducks). Continue reading