Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Reads Roundup!

The last time I did a #FridayReads was ages ago, so here's what I read over the summer! I've stopped the reviews at the end of August, so next week we'll see what I've read since the first of September! Here we go:

THEN COMES SEDUCTION: Mary Balogh. A good read, but I didn't enjoy it was much as the first book in the series (First Comes Marriage). I did love the ending though and how Clarrie got his comeuppance. :-)

AT LAST COMES LOVE: Mary Balogh. The third in the Huxtables family series - this time Margaret's story. I REALLY enjoyed this one. I loved how Duncan was "not handsome" at all when she first met him but as bit by bit she gets to know him, tells him that he is beautiful. The "unwrapping" of Duncan's character is beautifully done and well-paced so that at the end you can't help but absolutely love him.

SEDUCING AN ANGEL: Mary Balogh. Book 4 in the Huxtable Series and very good! At first the heroine, Cassandra, doesn't seem very sympathetic, but the author does a good job of showing the "other" side of Cass - the one who will do anything to protect her "family". Stephen notices that her house, while slightly shabby, is a home with love and acceptance.

I love Stephen. Was he flawed? Perhaps slightly. But really, Balogh kept him fairly perfect and built the conflict around it. Stephen is optimistic, honourable, handsome, does the right thing. Doing the right thing is what causes problems a good part of the time, and he forces Cassandra to shed her mask by just being himself.

The scene before the betrothal ball was swoonworthy!

A SECRET AFFAIR: Mary Balogh.  The 5th and final Huxtable book.I really didn't think I was going to like this book. I was pretty sure I didn't like the heroine at the beginning and that's a big deal, right? My impression of the Duchess of Dunbarton was the same as that of the ton. I did not think much of her at all and certainly not deserving of Constantine.

I understand WHY it was written in such a way - so the reader could change impressions just as the rest of Hannah's (the Duchess) world did. BUT personally I would have been on side with her faster IF the good parts had been easier to see in private. There is a big difference between what other characters need to know and what readers need to know.

HOWEVER. Once the walls around Hannah start tumbling down, I ADORED her. AND Constantine was just....gah. Constantine made me cry in SEVERAL PLACES. Particularly in a crucial scene that did not even involve Hannah. And again at the end.

The tougher they are, the harder they fall - and Constantine fell big time. It was glorious. Who knew someone referred to as The Devil could be such a romantic and soft touch?

I've given it 4 stars rather than 5 simply because of the opening. I'm really glad I read the whole series and apparently there is a new series on the way...

SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS: Dave King and Renni Browne. I really didn't need to read this - because my CP has. She told me that a lot of it would be stuff I already knew and she was right. She's been critiquing me for years using a lot of the terminology in this book - like talking about beats, RUE (resist the urge to explain) and 1+1=1/2.

I'm not sorry I read it, but it was more reinforcing things than lightbulbs going off. That being said, the first chapter on Show Don't Tell and the last chapter on Voice were really worth reading and I think all beginning writers should read them.

WE ARE NOT ALONE: THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA: Kristen Lamb. Read this on the recommendation of my CP, Michelle Styles. There were some real gems of info that I highlighted to "organize" my strategy (I read this on my kindle for PC. Love the highlight and notes thing). There are also a lot of basics that I agree authors need to do to kickstart their presence.

But I did have issues with some of the info. The assertion that Myspace isn't dead is perhaps true, but the stats (60 million users) are from March 2010 - a year and a half ago. And I also wondered if the 60 million users are active users or have left and just not deleted their profiles. I may rejuvenate my myspace profile, but I'm not sold that it's as great as Lamb has made it out to be.

Another example is tweetdeck being used to manage twitter. I used tweetdeck. After a lot of frustration I switched to hootsuite which I like so much better. But Lamb never mentions hootsuite. It seemed that she mentioned the utilities that she personally uses rather than presenting other options.

She also mentions going to where the readers are and finding groups - but then fails to mention reader communities like goodreads or shelfari, etc. I know about these places but someone new may not. I've also had the benefit of several digital online workshops courtesy of Harlequin's team that other authors may not. It makes a difference, and since the book spends a considerable amount of time on HOW to set up profiles, it presumes that people are reading it who are not overly savvy.

That's not to say it's not a worthwhile read. It is. As Michelle says - for the cost of a latte it's good information (especially the strategy part for me). But I tend to look at it like I look at all advice - you take what works for you and leave the rest.

PROMISE CANYON: Robyn Carr. Part of the Virgin River Series. I really enjoyed this book! Clay and Lilly are great characters, and while I haven't read books leading up to this one, I never got confused with characters etc. who were part of this long-standing series. That is really tricky to do in a series built around a town and cast, so well done! I even had a little stinging in my eyes at the end which took me by surprise. I also wondered the importance of secondary plots as they seemed so unrelated to the core story, but in the end it all really did tie in together. It was lovely.

The only thing I noticed occasionally was when the author wanted to make sure that the reader understood certain terminology, and kind of jumped in to TELL it. One instance was explaining what colic is - it read like an author inserting a definition rather than flowing within the dialogue or emotional beats of the story.

But that's a minor thing and I have 2 other of Robyn's books on my TBR - and I'll be digging them out soon. :-)

THE BABY PROJECT: Susan Meier. It's been a little while since I read a book by Susan - the last I read was the Christmas duet she did with Barbara Wallace. I loved this book. I knew a bit about it as Susan and I share an editor AND I knew she'd picked some tough conflict for her heroine.
But she handled it so well it was a marvel. A true lesson in how to have a heroine face a tough conflict and STILL be proactive and sympathetic! I read it with awe as I've been dealing with handling my own heroine in my WIP....

The hero was lovely and she totally did a great set up to the next 2 stories in the trilogy without letting Darius's brothers take up too much story time.

And the attraction literally dripped from the pages even though the characters never take it all the way...

Thanks Susan for a fab read - all your hard work and hair pulling was SO worth it!

MAPS AND LEGENDS: READING AND WRITING ALONG THE BORDERLANDS: Michael Chabon. The back cover says "Maps and Legends is a love song in 16 parts - a series of linked essays in praise of reading and writing...Chabon energetically argues for a return to the thrilling, chilling origins of storytelling, rejecting the false walls around "serious" literature in favour of a wide-ranging affection...written with characteristic verve and wit."

I had to skim the last 100 pages because the word that comes to mind is "laborious". For a book rejecting false walls around 'serious' literature, this was seriously literary only without a compelling plot to pull me along and an entertainment factor of 0. And while I realize this is NON fiction, I also think that a writer's voice has to have something in it to connect to the reader. I had zip.

IMO, do yourself a favour and read Stephen King's ON WRITING instead.

SOLDIER ON HER DOORSTEP: Soraya Lane. This is the debut from Romance newcomer Soraya Lane. It's a lovely, heart-rending story of a soldier-come-home, his friend's widow, and a very special little girl. I zoomed through the last 50 pages and loved the scene with William's parents especially, wiping a tear from my eye.

The setting is both spectacular and different and it is a fantastic launch to what I'm sure is going to be a wonderful career.

1 comment:

  1. OMG - I haven't read your blog for a few days and then I come back to see you've reviewed my book! Thanks for the kind words :) I have your Rugged Rancher at the top of my TBR pile, but since my child never sleeps anymore I haven't read a thing in weeks!!!