Archive | June 2012

Bound

Bound by  Erica O’Rourke, Kensington Books (KTeen).

Bound is categorized as a “Teen Novel”, however it’s more than that. If you like Kim Harrison and the like, you’ll probably like this one.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would for a myriad of reasons. It is the third novel in a series, but once again the author makes it so that the knowledge that you need is sprinkled throughout. But the real draw here is the characters.

All poor Mo wants is to live in peace with those that she loves safe and sound. Unfortunately between the mob and the magic that’s calling to her it is not to be. Torn between not only two worlds but also two men, Mo is a heroine in the very best sense of the word.

Because she makes choices. Hard ones. And tries to live by them. Of course, the plot of the novel is when stuff gets in her way and makes life interesting for her. Physically, she might be young, but it is not a young novel.

It’s just a really really good book.

 

Note: there is sexual content in the book. It’s well done, but… Fair warning and all that. You know. If you have a teenage daughter and she wants to read it.

 

 

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Ties that Bind

Ties that Bind, Marie Bostwick. Published by Kensington Books May 2012.

 

Note: The copy reviewed is an Advanced Readers Copy

 

Ties that bind center around two women in a small community, Margot, who is so nice and pleasant and afraid to stand up for herself and Phillipa, the new interim pastor of their little church. This book is one in a series, and yet it is a stand-alone novel. I’m sure that if you had read the previous ones, you’d love the glimpses into the character’s lives as they are now— but that foreknowledge is not required.

This is a comfy book, in the best sense of the word. About women supporting each other and learning to stand on their own two feet. It’s also about faith, not only in God but also in yourself. Because at the heart of Margot’s problem is that one simple thing.

I like it as much as I do the Blossom Street stories by Debbie Macomber. Those ones have never disappointed me, they are exactly what you think they are. This one is a little more heavily into the faith than the Macomber series, but really. What do you expect when a character is the pastor of a congregation?

This is the book that I picked up after having been witness to a drive by shooting on Friday. It did exactly what I needed it to do: be a comfy book. Too many people think there’s no place for comfy fiction, or for romance, or whatever it is that they don’t read and value. However, in my life, there are definite reasons for the different genres that I cling to.

How about you? Do you read different genres for different reasons? Or do you cleave only unto one?

SCORE!

Last week, I spoke a bit about my problems with Barnes and Nobles. One of the books that I’ve been looking for was Infinity Gate by Sara Douglass (published by Harper Voyager). Two. Years. It but I finally got the final book in the series and I have to tell you I was sooo happy!

And even happier that the writer is good enough that A. I did not have to go back and re-read the other two books (Serpent Bride and Twisted Citadel) and also that I didn’t get/need B. great big info dumps. You know the ones, where one character tells another “Well, you know…” Some of the information was included in different parts of the book. But it was seamlessly added~ maybe a sentence here and there. Too many authors do not take the time to do this. Or, they’ll give a huge long “Our story so far” as a prolog. If done well, there is no need. Remember? Two years since I read the first two.

Of course, having memorable characters helped a lot.

As much as Ishbel and Maxmillian are the “heros” of the trilogy, this novel is about Axis. Brought back from beyond death to fight the good fight. He has his ups and downs as a heroic character. Axis is, well, human. Except not. But it is his struggles that power most of the story, even if we get peeks into other characters. Axis is the one who is transformed by the end, and it is satisfying.

This book was so worth looking for. Do I wish that I had rushed out and bought it online? Yes, and no. Yes, because that would have taken care of my need for speed. I’ve only done that with one book (the last of the Alera novels by Jim Butcher— I tore through those so fast. Well.) No because I relished the reading of this. Because I finally won one.

Also on their shelves on Monday? Breathe and Bone by Carol Berg, as well as the other book in that duology. Powerful reading, that. If I could find my copies, I’d re-read and post up here. Might do that next time I run out of books.

 

For now, it’s a wrap!

 

 

Book Stores

 

Book Stores

 

When I was going to college, I worked in bookstores. The first one was an itty, bitty local store. I then graduated up to Crown Books, and into management there. My next book job was at Media Play, which (when it opened, at least) had a full book, video and computer program section (and probably others that I no longer remember.

Even still, I can still remember the first Barnes and Noble book store. I know! I felt like… Finally! Here were people who understood me. I was in graduate school, working at Media Play, and still it took my breath away.

Since then, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with B&N. Because while they understand the love of books, they still suck in 2 respects. (Please keep in mind that I am ONLY speaking of my local store).

  1. They have people who do not know their alphabet shelving books. It’s a relatively simple process, people. It is so frustrating to have the temptation to take down a shelf and re-shelve all the books in the right order while in a store. Or even worse—I shouldn’t have to pocket a book you have 4 copies of! If you have 4 copies, get it cover out! PLEASE!
  2. The Science Fiction and Fantasy section sucks. If a new novel comes out, how about stocking the previous books in a series? They only seem to stock X amount of any given author. Carol Berg is one of my favorites, but I don’t really care for her current series. She has much stronger work in her backlist, but they have maybe one title at a time. Anne Bishop, Lynn Flewelling and others are not kept at the levels they need to be. Romance is the same way—Eloisa James has a book called “Pleasure for Pleasure”, and I look for it EVERY BLASTED TIME I GO IN. They have the other books in the series. But not this book. And if it has sold out each and every time, maybe B&N should order in more than 1 copy at a time. (Please don’t bother telling me that I can get it online or on my Nook— I hate my nook and it’s the principle of the thing now.)

Now, there are some really bright spots. They poached one of my Borders’ Boys. Borders was great because they loved books and could make actual recommendations. The local Barnes and Nobles seems to be going more that way: I’ve actually had discussions with some of the workers about books. Before, I’d get blank stares if I asked if they had heard anything about a book. (Really? You work in a book store and you’ve heard NOTHING about this book that is number 1 on the NYT list? Huh.)

People who sell books should love books. Or at least like them. I know it’s a really snobbish thing, and I know everyone is trying to save money. But trust me on this. All those little girls running around reading Twilight and all those other books? They will grow up at some point. And if we want to nurture their love of reading, we need to give them something more than the paranormal romances that are so prolific right now. Because some will want to continue on with that, and some will want to expand their horizons.

Broadening those horizons is good for all of us in the book world. Readers, writers, publishers and bookstores.

Teen Fiction

I have a love hate relationship with “teen” fiction.

First of all, let’s be honest. Most books under the label “Teen Fiction” in the bookstore should be relabeled as “Teen Girl Fiction.” Which isn’t especially politically correct, but is definitely a better descriptive for what it is.

My problem with the genre, however, is not with the terminology. It’s with… the stories. Some of them start out so well… and then the author goes and does something stupid. Or just doesn’t develop things the way that they would if it were, well, for grown ups. Now I understand that there are really good authors of teen fiction. And that teenage girls probably don’t read the same way I do.

But good fiction, no matter the age group, should transcend any ascending age barrier. I still read A little Princess and the Secret Garden (Frances Hogsen Burnette). I’ve read   all of the Harry Potter Novels. (JK Rowling).

And now there’s A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont. It’s actually a familiar concept, but done in a way that makes sense within the story and is extremely well done, Emma is dropped into the world of Jane Eyre. That it is done in a way that doesn’t feel forced, that makes sense within the story and it’s actually…. GASP…. A GOOD STORY!

It kept my interest, was well paced. If the characters were a little too young, well… They actually are young! They were absoluteky acting appropriate to their age. Which reinforces my idea that labelling something “Teen Fiction” is a misnomer. Good writing is good writing, no matter the intended audience and this particular subset gets a lot of flack (from me, too!)

Now the big question is…

If teen boys read… what do they read? I’m assuming it’s not Twilight.

Grace

Grace, by T. Greenwood. Published by Kensington Books

Advanced Reader’s Copy

 

It is often uncomfortable to watch a family implode (hence the reason why I don’t watch most of reality television), but Grace by T. Greenwood breaks the barrier. A tale told in multiple viewpoints, it is mostly of the core family.

The title character only appears once as the point of view character

The thing is, everyone in the book is looking for a little bit of grace. Of peace, relief from daily life. The struggle that the family goes through, finding out what their core is and then having to live with the consequences, brings to mind some of the depression era writing that I went through during college.

It isn’t pretty, this struggle. The people are “real” in that they have faults. But the writing keeps you going past your comfort level and straight into a gripping story. And you read on, knowing that it could be you, your best friend, your college roommate who goes through this.

And that’s the best sort of writing of all.

It’s also the scariest. Because, you know, I haven’t read anything this evocative of what’s going on in the country from bullying to elder care to the recession in a long time, if ever. Nothing contemporary even comes to mind. It feels like Faulkner, in As I Lay Dying. Not stylistically… but maybe even deeper. Deep down where it grabs you in the gut and shows you your own insides, that’s what this novel is.