Monday, July 26, 2010

SBD 31 Bond Street

Remember how I was on and on about not liking historical novels based on real people? Turns out I was wrong. Maybe it's okay if I've never heard of the people in the book.

I'm listening to 31 Bond Street and loving it. It's based on a sensational murder that took place in the 1850s and most of the characters were real people. The descriptions of New York would be enough to sell me--and the little snippets from the newspapers are great.

There isn't the deep POV I'm used to, so I haven't bonded with any of the characters. But that's fine. It's an elegant book and all the research she did makes it richer, not dull--or at least not for me. The descriptions of the clothes and other details seem a bit much now and then, as in not really fitting the moment, but I like 'em.

I'm off to see if Ellen Horan has written more books. If she has I bet she'll stick with that milieu. I think it fits her style of writing, solemn and slightly removed from strong emotion.

UPDATE Drat. No other books listed for her.
UPDATE again: I'm not sure I loved the ending. Also, I looked up the details of the murder and the author took huge liberties with the event and the people --I'm not sure why, because the truth was even more wild than her version. (She added slavers and Indians and whatnot)

Friday, July 23, 2010

whining about the whiner

Once again a book has lost me fast. In this case, the heroine is obsessed with her poverty. I can see a character worrying about not making ends meet--that seems real. But this woman with a reasonable job continuously frets about her "poverty" and the examples we're given? Her car is five years old. All of her furniture is used. She has to pack her lunches for work. She only has two pairs of high heeled designer shoes, but they were bought on ebay

No, sorry. You're out, lady.

Oh, and here's the deal-breaker. She's been held hostage and shot at and this long list of her woes is what occurs to her after she flees the scene of violence and goes home. Yeah, right. The first thing anyone would think about just after they'd been shot at is, "shit, I wish my car wasn't five years old."**

Next book.....I think I'll re-listen to Stephen Briggs reading A Hat Full of Sky. I could use a heroine with a more interesting view of the universe.


** In my case I'd have whine that I wished my car wasn't 17 years old.... Except that isn't part of my lengthy whine long as the thing reliably goes from point A to point B, I couldn't care less. Yeah, I'm being holier-than-her, but jeez---even if I was a more acquisitive person and longed for designer duds, this heroine would annoy me because of the context of the whinging.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

counting buttons

Blogger wanted me to add all these buttons, so I did. Will that increase traffic? Do I care? A bit, though not as much as I once did.

I used to have a little number count on my page but something I clicked or added made it go away. After a half-assed attempt to find out what happened, I had one of those mini-epiphanies. Its absence is a Good Thing. I can't be writing my blog -- or my books -- with too much attention paid to traffic. And my nature is that any attention is too much. I'm one of those authors who used to watch those Amazon, Fictionwise and any other "You Are (un)Popular!" numbers go up and down.

In one direction, abandonment, which leads to heartbreak. Or, if you become popular, extreme self-consciousness sets in. All of the above have happened to me at various points since 2004. Madness, heartbreak, paralyzing self-consciousness. Okay, maybe I can't blame the madness on you guys. And it wasn't really madness. But I blame you invisible readers (and the readers who don't stop by any more) for the constant craving for chocolate and the fact that I ignore my laundry. Because. . . why not? And while I'm at it, I blame all you non-readers for the oil leak in the gulf. See? This is bigger than just me.

Ok. If I'm going to get silly, I'm off to write novels.

OT UPDATE: OY! There's a body in my family room. Granted, he's just sleeping---But jeez. No, I'm not whining. I do love having extra people around, as long as they don't require my attention. Their aura is good. Makes me feel like a success in the real world when my kids' friends crash here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Ok, I might be in a state of permanently twisted knickers because EVERYTHING is outraging me, including the books I've tried to listen to.

Jeebus god, the woman in the first book must have Stockholm syndrome because she puts up with all sorts of crap from the hero, who is 18 years older than she is, which is borderline creepy and let's add on the fact that he had been in love with her mother. He's a real charmer who stalks her and screams at her and when he's in a good mood, talks to her as if she's a moron. (there's also the way he does things like calling Vietnamese "gooks").

There is so much astonishment from the male characters about a "lady lawyer" , and they're all surprised that she's so pretty and yet a lawyer. Add on that a bunch of talk about her tasty buns from her boss that I'm thinking this must be a book from the 1960s. But no, it's from 1989. I was an adult for most of the 80s and there is no way in hell a professional, powerful woman would put up with this sort of treatment. I was a major wimp, basically a people-pleaser, and I wouldn't have.

So after harrumphing about that book, I tried another and that one is worse. God, no wonder people roll their eyes about romances. This one is overwritten and overwrought. I'm giving up on this stinker before the hero and heroine even meet. I'd type the titles and more details but I really don't need to turn into an unfunny version of Mrs Giggles.

Monday, July 19, 2010

another SBD

turns out it's really useful to have these SBD. I was trying to recall the title Lush Life, so I could tell Mike he should read it. And there was the book and its description, on the blog.

So now today's SBD is to remind myself that I enjoyed The Brass Verdict, my favorite Bosch so far. Mostly because it's Bosch from another's POV and he's just as reckless and driven as always but he's less heroic. I love the character of Mickey Haller, the Lincoln lawyer and Bosch's half brother. I want more of him. Too bad he seems to be leaving the bar......then again.....Naw. There's a lot of storming away from lifes' roles in those books and then they realize it was a mistake.

And there's another Artemis Fowl book? I suspect my kids are getting too old for them so I'll have no excuse to buy it. Except damn, thirteen isn't too old, boy. You're getting it. I just hope you remember to leave it lying around for me to find.

Food drive

This is what my minivan looks like after the 11th annual food drive. . . .... 56 bags v 58 2 years ago. There's no room in the car so the kids'll have to get a ride from the Flanders.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I was locked out! Can you believer it? Google and gmail LOCKED ME OUT. I couldn't get into my own places, like this blog or email or my writing group. Disabled, shunned and banned, I was a pitiable sight. (I wrote site, which is also accurate)

I sent off long, pleading letters, and short, angry notes. I filled out forms. I'm not sure which of those things eventually worked, but I'm back again. The days of no gmail served as a severe reminder that my online world isn't really mine, I'm just borrowing it.

I know who holds all the cards in this relationship. The only real power I have is to walk away and Google Gmail etc wouldn't even notice if I should do that. Well. Damn. They can just forget about the card I was going to send for their birthday, is all I have to say.

Now if we were paying customers they'd at least sigh when we washed our hands of them.

I'm still here though so they win. Again. Curse you, useful free services. Stop playing with my soul.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

SBD a day early Courting Miss Bronte

I learned a few things from this book:

Things I Learned 1-100: stuff about Brontes. I mean I learned a LOT about them. And as I read, I occasionally checked the author's facts and I could see the author did her research. She also usually did a good job inserting fact as fiction--as in it was pretty seamless. No bits standing out as obviously Fact Inserted.

Thing I Learned 101: I discovered I'm not a fan of fictional versions of a real life. I don't mind chunks of "this might have been the way this actual scene played out" in a book, or brief appearances of non-fictional people in fictional works, so I thought a whole book written that way would be fine.

But it didn't work for me. When I read certain scenes, I kept wondering if that's the leap I would have taken . . . which means I didn't trust the author's interpretation of her characters -- which was because they weren't really her invention. **

To anyone still reading this: because of Thing I Learned 101, ignoring everything I write in this review seems perfectly reasonable. It annoys the BEJEEEBUS me when I see "I hate X Sub-Genre but I'm reviewing this book anyway. And...hey! I hate this book because it's X Sub-Genre."

But I'm not dumping this entry because this review is a record for me, too. And this is the first time I'd read a novel in which the main characters were real people (I don't count The Other Boleyn Sister because we don't have acres of her letters etc. [for the record, I think I liked that Other Boleyn book, or at least I think I did, pretty much. {Not much of a record}]) Is it called a novel when it's recording real events, as well? Fictionalized history?

There were other issues for me in this book--for instance the author often showed a scene and then told us what we just saw. Unlike some modern readers, I don't mind the omniscient POV or authors doing a lot of telling in historicals (and that "little did she know" thing doesn't put a bug in my butt like it does some editors I know, Linda) Anyway. I don't mind the author inserting her voice if she's interesting or witty or provides a fresh version. But it was frequently just plain old telling, usually, without adding anything insightful or moving.

Hey, the book had moments of grace so it's prolly best to ignore me. It's too hot again. And it's that "this isn't my cup of tea" thing. As in this cup had milk when I prefer the lemon version.

**I do like Arthur and the way she grew to care for him was lovely.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

You heard it here first

Okay, I'm convinced that within three months a book is going to hit the NYTimes best seller list.

It will be a diet book.

It will be all about eating the foods that discourage the bad bacteria and promote the good stuff.

It will be bigger than the South Beach Diet and Atkins combined.

I wanted to be the one to write it and rake in all the easy money -- I even have my own in-house microbiologist man to do the "research" or at least give it some credibility. But noooooooooooooooooo he has to get all science-y and ruin my great plan.

Research? Facts? Don't you want to own an island in the French West Indies, man? We could be the ones! We COULD MAKE IT BEEEG, dude.


funky messages from sub-conscious

I dreamed I sent a book to one of my beta readers (hi, Toni) and she wrote back to say she never wanted to read another book of mine again unless I cleaned up my act. She sent me a ticket to the beach so I could go face nature and understand the true depth that I was supposed to put in my books.

Hey, it was a free trip to the beach--but I spent the whole time trying to screw some hardware back into a boardwalk that was falling apart. I shouldn't have fiddled with that bolt after all.

I woke up convinced that
1. the devil is in the details
2. I couldn't write about huge universal topics to save my life.
3. We really need to get to the ocean soon.
4. I should write a book that my several beta readers might like but I probably won't be able to.

Friday, July 09, 2010

more books.

It's all about the books I'm reading these days. But. So. Well. Anyway.
These m/m books are starting to get to me. It's strange entering a universe where very few women appear and they aren't fully developed people when they do. It's a lot like reading much of the dead white guy material or watching A Boy and His Dog.

The freebie I got from Amazon last week has constant butt sex. He gets so much up the rear and so often that I fear for the man's digestive system. And for some reason, pre-cum gets a lot of play. It's dribble time constantly for these boys. They leak like hoses that the dog has chewed on.

The interesting thing about this latest book is that the sex doesn't seem so believable to me, in part because there's no recovery time between bouts. I thought for sure it had to be a female author. Nope. A genuine gay male wrote it.

I'm off the m/m for a while, I think, or at least the erotic brand. It's time to go back to Harry Bosch and that grimness. Although come to think of it, Bosch isn't as convincingly grim as Lush Life. If I need a dose of Oh, What is the point? I should look for more of those books.

In other we have other news? Not me. Except I have to go get ready for a visiting dog.

Monday, July 05, 2010

reason number eleven SBD continued

I thought of another reason I didn't like that Brown book.
Love began and ended with hot sex. Love wasn't about trust (they never seemed to reach a believable level of trust and probably never could), or a shared sense of humor, or any little day to day stuff (except maybe a shared love of trees. that was nice) It was all about the out-of-control need for fucking. He knew he loved her when he couldn't fuck other women. She knew she loved him when the memory of him made her all hot.

Even in an erotic romance you want more than that, or at least I do.

And then the leads could show how wrapped up they were with their own sad egos with the two scenes with the dying dad, Cotton (no, really. Cotton.) Instead of making sure he's taken care of, they both try to wring confessions out of him. She tries to keep him from surgery so she can hear his whisperings. As Cotton lies dying, the hero doesn't administer first aid. He tries to get the old guy to call him "son." With kids like that who needs enemies. Yes, the hero and heroine are both his kids but this isn't real southern gothick incest at its best. She's adopted and they weren't raised together. Borrrring.

I finished the book though, so what do I know.

Next up, another SEP (thank God the woman's prolific). Also the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary.

all the reasons I shouldn't finish this book SBD

Slow Heat To Heaven

1. Just about every time the feisty female does something to show she's feisty, rather than a passive girly girl, it ends up basically a disaster. Someone has to help her, usually the hero. But she doesn't trust him through just about the end of the story.

2. She's fired the hero because of lack of trust or just showing him who's boss not once but THREE FREAKING TIMES. Every time she gets annoyed, she orders him off the premises, even though he's the only one who can do the job. He wanders back, she pouts and yells and there they go again.

3. The hero is more than a jerk. He's a jerk's jerk. Everyone over at amazon points to his "I shoulda raped you when I could have" remark, but a dumb remark like that in passing is nothing compared to the way he uses females and struts around.
3a his name is Cash.

4. Brown's newer books are so much better. Why don't I read one of them?

5. The Belle Terre southern manor they all fight over, in fact the whole whole bayou -- all sounds like a bad Disney set. Along with so much sweating.

6. There's the unnamed bad person who shows up in scenes all the time. Bad, cheating habit. Cheatin' cheatin' writin'.

7. Women are victims or bitches. All. Of. Them. They have no lives, no souls separate from the men.

8. Best gay friend. At least he's not twee. He is tortured, etc.

9. Purple!!!!!!!!!!!!

10. The frequent references to "ethnic" Huh. If you live in Louisiana, eating gumbo, would you think mmm this is yummy ethnic food?

Saturday, July 03, 2010

SBD early

I'm reading Lush Life and zip back and forth between admiration and annoyance. The author is a steady strobe light when it comes to flashes of genius. Oh, those phrases are wicked lovely and the dialogue rocks. Now if only we could get some plot and maybe characters who're more worthy of our attention? Or not. And a little less cleverness would be good. There is so much glorious writing piled on, the book occasionally stops being about the story and becomes all about the bling. That gets as annoying as the other end of the spectrum, purple cliches.

It's a murder story (no mystery at all) set in New York--and the lower east side is my favorite character in the novel. I have no idea if the police stuff is accurate; it might be just some great world-building. Sure seems gritty enough to be believable.

Friday, July 02, 2010

time stood still for you

A few years ago, my mother was dying by inches. She had dementia and didn't know us. She had to be fed; she was incontinent; she couldn't walk. By the last few weeks, she couldn't talk at all. She lived down in DC and I took the train down to see her now and then, not often enough of course.

Back then I had a sort of friend up here in CT -- actually her kid was the same age as mine and they occasionally played together. Anyway, she frequently complained about her interfering mother and mother-in-law. They bought clothes for her kids that she hated. They insisted on spending time with the kids when she didn't want them over. All legitimate complaints, I'm sure.

But at the time, I was dealing with the slow end of my mother and my kids had no grandparents, at least none who were interested in them or who'd recognize them if they passed on the street. We had no family in the area so I counted on friends when we had emergencies.

So I said, "hey, I'm sure you're right, but it's hard for me to hear this stuff right now." She still complained. I remember I got mad and actually told her that she should save it for someone who can listen with sympathy. I think I joked about the urge to slap her silly. Ha. Ha. She might have cut back but I doubt it.

The day after my mother died, I saw my friend. She'd heard the news and said it was a blessing. A lot of people said that, and it was absolutely true, but I wasn't ready to hear that for another day or two. We sat down and she bought me a cup of coffee, which was sweet of her. I know that.

But then she complained about her mother feeding her kid a donut. I remember that moment more clearly than I recall the phone call about my mother's death.

I was done. I'm not confrontational and after that day, I just stopped returning her calls. I didn't see her except at a distance for the last few years.

I ran into her today. Five minutes into the conversation, she said something about having to borrow her mother-in-law's car and what a pain it was because she'd have to clean it before giving it back because her kids are slobs and her mother-in-law was unreasonably fussy. For a second I was right back there, to that day I felt like an orphan and knew my mother really truly wouldn't get to know my family. But then I felt a strange sense of comfort.

I can't quite figure out why I felt so good after seeing her today. Maybe just because I was right and that woman really needs more topics in her conversation? Or because it's pleasant to have some constants in this changing world? Because I'm past the pain of that time?

No, really, I don't know why I'm feeling like opening a bottle of wine and celebrating for no good reason. All of the above, maybe. I have absolutely no urge to contact her again, but I might cross the street to say hello when I see her coming.