Tag Archives: reading

Lost in sweet reading

I’ve been reading Romance novels for 2-3 years. They are fun, usually quick, reads and they have happy endings. Some are the traditional historical romance but I’ve also branched into the paranormal sub-genre (werewolves and vampires and demigods, ooooh, sigh). This all started when I found the DVD Lost in Austen at the library. Loved it and watched it 4-5 times before I returned it. The progression then went from re-reading some of Jane Austen’s novels to Austen-related books: sequels, variations, modern day adaptations, and so on. That (and my Nook) led me to Romance in general.

Book cover
Recently I won a giveaway on Goodreads for Sweet Madness, a Regency era romance, by Heather Snow. I rate almost all my reading on Goodreads but I haven’t written a lot of reviews. I did for this, seems only fair after winning the book.

The story is not a typical Regency romance. The hero, Gabriel Devereaux, served in the Napoleanic wars and suffers from battle fatigue (now known as PTSD). The heroine, Penelope Bridgeman, married his cousin, who had his own mental issues and then died after only a few months of marriage. Penelope turned from her loss to studying mental disorders and helping soldiers with battle fatigue. As their story begins, Gabriel has entered an asylum after his issues have escalated and he’s started having episodes of mania with hallucinations and violence. Penelope commits to saving Gabriel, convinced that he is not becoming truly insane, and their feelings and connection grow.

This is a lovely book. It’s not all sweet: it deals with things that are harsh and heartbreaking. But that is all balanced, actually overtaken, by warmth, decency, generosity, and, of course, love.

The story has depth. This is about two people who, while still young, each had hard, tragic experiences, and then worked to move on with their lives. They followed their instincts and found ways to cope. They’ve done much good helping others but in doing so have neglected their own healing. It’s together, as a couple, helping and caring for each other, that they will now begin to fully heal.

And the romance is well done. Penelope and Gabriel are both strong, intelligent, and admirable people. Their romance never feels forced or false; the author shows us its natural progression from the very start of her story.

This is the third book of a series but the first book I’ve read by the Heather Snow (definitely not the last). It never seemed like I was missing anything at all in the story jumping into the series at this point. The story grabbed me from the start and held me til the end.

Heather Snow’s website, so you can check out her series is here

another suspense thriller from Russell Brooks and a contest (woo!)

Book cover

Russell Brooks recently sent me an advance copy of his new book, Chill Run. I read and reviewed his previous two books, Pandora’s Succession and Unsavory Delicacies in the past and was happy to do the same for his newest one.

Chill Run centers around an aspiring author, Eddie Barrow, Jr. He’s been sending out manuscripts but getting only rejections back so far. He hasn’t given up on his dream, though, and when his friends suggest trying a risque publicity stunt with the idea of getting publishers to take notice of his manuscript, he decides to give it a go. Then the stunt backfires and Eddie and his friends end up on the run, trying to solve a murder that’s been falsely pinned on them. We learn about Eddie’s family and friendships, and follow his group along as they investigate the murders in order to exonerate themselves.

Overall, this is good read. As with Brooks’ first novel there are twists in the plot, a lot of details to give the book some depth, and good dialogue. The book moves right along, and you want to know what happens next. I liked Eddie and his friends and family, but I also was very annoyed at Eddie and his family at times. And then I felt Eddie had matured by the end of the book. This all means he’s realistic, someone you might meet sometime; his world is the everyday one we live in, despite his getting caught up in a fantastic episode. And that is a testament to the writing.

A brief aside: the novel features a fictional governor of New Hampshire and his wife. Just to be clear, our governor is not that sensational here in the Granite State. And I’m not sure we want one that is :-).

Russell Brooks has a contest running through 8pm EST, December 1, wherein you can win a free copy of the eBook version of Chill Run! You can read more about it in Russell’s blog post. Enter there or here, by leaving a comment below that includes your email address. His cat Clinton will pick 10 winners from those who enter.
You can get copies of the book at Russell’s website . You can also go directly to Barnes&Noble or Amazon .

Note: as I said, I was sent an advance copy to review but I wasn’t compensated or pressured about what to write.

reverb10: word and word

Okay, I signed up for #reverb10. It’s the now annual event, the continuation of #best09 from last year. A prompt a day, all month long, to contemplate 2010 and reveal 2011. In the way of my world, the evening after I signed up, I discovered a new Twitter book club and I joined in for that, too. So this will be a busy month.

The December 1 prompt (yep, already behind), is: One Word. Encapsulate 2010 in one word. Then jump ahead a year; what would you like to the word for 2011 to have been. (Author: Gwen Bell)

It’s very hard for me to think of a word for 2010. My life flowed on all year but nothing major happened. I started to think of words like waiting, asleep, and on-hold. But I wasn’t asleep and my life hasn’t been on-hold; I just kept going on an even keel. Looking back, I think I’ve been adapting and adjusting. 2008 and 2009 were hard years with a lot of loss. I think I spent 2010 trying to come to terms with things and accept all of it. I wasn’t consciously doing that and I know I haven’t totally accepted it all, but on reflection, I think that was my mode all year long. It would be nice to say my word is acceptance, but I’m not sure I’m there yet. But one word for the year is adjustment.

On the other hand, there is something that does stand out in my mind right now. I’ve jumped back into reading this past year, reading avidly. In college and in the years that followed it, I read a lot. Then I lost that, mostly because I went through a period when I was busy working long, long hours on projects at work, and got behind with the massive amounts of comics I collected and then felt I had to catch up on them before I could start a book. So I only read books when I was traveling, on planes and during visits away from home. That lasted a while, decades, in fact. A few years ago, I called a halt to that. I stopped buying comics to add to the backlog. I got a library card and I also dug through some unpacked boxes of books in my cellar. I rediscovered my love of books. And looking back over 2010, that is the one activity that I see not just being a part of my year but intensifying all year long. So another word for 2010 is reader.

And what do I want for 2011? To be able to look back in a year and have a sense of satisfaction with the year that will just have flown by? I’d like it to be growth. I’d like to reach my acceptance and move on. I’d like to try new things and I’d like to improve who I am. I know we can always be doing this, should always be doing this, but I don’t feel like I did that much this past year. And so I call it out for 2011.

book club fun

I’m participating in the 1 Book, 1 Twitter (1B1T) global book club which has been going for about a month now. Lots of folks are reading the same book and discussing it on Twitter. I follow the author Neil Gaiman there and found out about this event when he mentioned that his book American Gods was doing well in the voting. Then it won the vote. I’d just finished reading the book only a month and a half before 1B1T started, but I decided to read it all over again and join in. I’ve never been in a book club before, so I wasn’t sure how this would go.

I dreaded English class in high school. Finding deep meanings and themes in books and interpreting symbolism was way beyond my interest in reading and I wasn’t all that good at it.  I could manage some when forced to, but it doesn’t come naturally when I read. Also, I was very timid about speaking up in class and participation mattered.  And to add to my discomfort, for some unknown reason I was in an AP tract class where all the other students were talented writers and whizzes at literature To this day, I think it’s because I scored 100 on a multiple choice test about Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in 9th grade, given after all the class discussions and asking for no new insights…so they threw me into the AP class, like that proved I could handle it. I’m not a creative writer, either.  Everyone else in class, and I mean everyone else…it wasn’t a large class and we all knew what the others turned in…wrote lovely, innovative papers.  I wrote straightforward, dull, and wordy things that read like a report for some government project or a manual for some complicated gadget.

I don’t dig deeply into movies or books even now.  I don’t usually notice the themes unless someone else points them out. Maybe I’m lazy? I like complicated plots and complex connections between characters and I can remember, or recall quickly when reminded, detailed storylines from movies, TV, and books, sometimes going back decades. It can be a useful skill if you want to keep up with long running TV shows or comic book continuity. But it doesn’t mean I dig into the meat of a story. I accept the storyline for what it says on the surface, I guess. Deeper significance just doesn’t occur to me.

Okay, that said, 1B1T is a blast.  It’s given me a much greater appreciation of this book.  The discussions have pointed out a lot of themes and symbolism I glossed over, ideas that I would have missed. It’s also been a great resource with people sharing links and information about places and names used in the book that I hadn’t looked up when I read it before. I’ve met some good people through 1B1T, too. It’s been a fun time.

And along with that, 1B1T has helped me feel better about my own reading skills.  Although I didn’t notice some themes as I read the book, once they’d been mentioned, I’ve run with some comments and contributed to the discussion. I never did that back in English class.  I was too scared to speak up and doubted any thoughts I had.
And a few times, people pointed out and discussed points I did recognize while reading!  I never thought anything about it while reading.  I mean, if I catch something, it must be obvious, right? But now I’ve seen that maybe I’ve been underestimating myself a little.  Not completely: there are plenty of points I missed.  But still, seeing any evidence of this is a revelation.

So now I’m raring to go: bring on the next book.