Sunday, July 24, 2011

One Book Forward then One Book Back or Why I keep reading Anita Blake

I don't know my fellow reader if I have ever told you I have been married to the same man for nearly 30yrs.  I have shared with my friends that is has been the most difficult and rewarding thing I have ever done in my life....sticking it out all these years even when there were a lot of times I wanted to throw in the towel and give up or just kill him.  I feel that way on a MUCH smaller scale about Laurell K. Hamilton and Anita Blake.  For the last 10 years I have loved her and then wanted to kick her to the curb only to come back and try again.  Why?


Well, when I first met Anita I admired how tough, smart and strong she was.  I loved how she worked in a male dominated field and not only kept up with the guys she beat most of them.  I envied the sexy men she got to pick from and the amazing sex she had.  The balance between the sexy men and the very gory and tough thriller kept me turning pages and buying the next book.  It was like the first couple of years of my marriage.  I never knew quite what to expect.  Sometimes it was exciting and sometimes it was dirty but most of all it was so very satisfying.

Then about 10 books in things started getting overblown.  Little issues that I had been able to ignore early on because my love was so new was now starting to bug me.  The biggest problem I had was the stories were getting away from the suspense and thriller and became more about the goth, S&M sex.  I love sex but too much of ANYTHING makes it less interesting or fun.  The other thing that began to really bug me was all the moralizing that was going on.  Anita is a remarkable woman on so many levels.  What is up with the constant self recriminations, the constant struggling with the inner demons?  Oh My God, how can a woman who can look a monster straight in the eye and put a bullet in its heart then turn around and whine because she is going to have mind blowing sex with the most gorgeous men to walk the planet.  Really?  I am not reading this series because I imageidentify with Anita.  I read this series because I fantasize about BEING Anita.

I thought with "Bullet" Anita was beginning to work through her crap and we would move on and get back to a good relationship. The story still had more problems than resolutions but we were back to fighting monsters and the thrill was returning.  It was good enough that I had really high hopes for "Hit List".  Boy was I disappointed.  The big bads introduced in Harlequin were way too easily defeated.  After all that we had gone through with the Mother of All Darkness, all the fears that she was undefeatable she was completely destroyed in less than 500 words and a metaphysical prayer circle.   Oh! and what was the point of the misogynistic Marshal? Outside of giving her an opportunity to cry about being picked on and misunderstood he served no purpose.  He was sent away on a stupid road trip just to get him out of the way.  I think that was because even Ms. Hamilton was sick of the pissiness and pettiness.

So why do I keep reading these books?  Because when Ms. Hamilton is on a roll nobody is better and there are glimpses of that creativity and brilliance in every single book.  Anita is so freaking cool I can't help but want to see if she will work through her crap with each installment.  Bottom line, I like Anita.  What I have learned is to just take her for what she is, a screwed up but very interesting girlfriend.  She is a train wreck and I am human.  I want to see it/her.

So, I admit it. Even though he can annoy the crap out of me I love my husband and we will be together until the end.  I like Anita and I will read her story until the end with hopes and curiosity and as in my marriage I will probably bitch when she lets me down… again.  Like I said, I'm human.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Self Published Books...Lovely Surpises

Back in May I went on a little shopping spree at B&N's Nook Dept.   I bought a few newer releases like Debbie Macomber's 1022 Evergreen Place and the book my sister convinced me to give another try, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander.  (I know, I know....I am the only woman on the planet who never got hooked on Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall.)
Anyway, I also visited the under $5.00 section and purchased several self-published tales that were either $.99 or free.  I have finally gotten to 2 of those stories and I am delighted to report they were really well done.  I don't mean to suggest because a book is self published it is less than a mass production house book.  but I was expecting the cheaper novels in this section to be cheap because they didn't sell well or not great.  "So why buy any?" you ask.  Well because I was on a budgeted spree and I was curious.  I am an aspiring writer myself and have wondered whether self-publishing is the way to go.  I am still not sure on that point but I am sure that I will read more self-published work in the future.  

The two books that have me singing a happy tune are "The Mating" by Nicky Charles and "To Kill a Warlock" by H.P. Mallory.  Both novels were paranormals.  One was a serious romance and the other a tongue in cheek girl detective/whodunit.

"The Mating" by Nicky Charles takes an old theme of arranged marriage and puts a 21st century werewolf spin on it.  Elise comes home from a run in the woods with her would be boyfriend to find out she is to be mated that day to a new alpha of the neighboring pack.  Even though she is upset and unhappy over being manipulated by her father into marrying a complete stranger she goes through with it because she would rather marry a stranger than be a lone wolf.  What happens after this is a really touching love story.  Elise is thrust into a well established community that is still grieving over the loss of the past alpha.  To complicate matters it seems someone is trying to sabotage the pack to either sell some land to an oil company or give up their territory altogether.  Kane, the new alpha and husband seems like a good guy with a lot on his plate with blind spots about the people close to him.  As the couple grow closer together the troubles of the pack get bigger. 
This is a long story but it read really fast and my attention was held.  There are parts that I thought got a little wordy and some connections didn't get made for me but I have experienced that in books I have paid top dollar for.  Ms. Charles has  two follow-ups to the "The Mating".  I downloaded "The Keeping" during the shopping spree.  "The Finding" is not on B&N yet but can be gotten at for free.  Isn't FREE a lovely word!

"To Kill a Warlock" by H.P. Mallory is a complete departure from "The Mating".  It is a short, delightful read featuring a Fairy Regulator, aka cop named Dulcie and her team of sidekicks in the completely fictional place called "Splendor."   This tongue and cheek suspense story revolves around a series of very gross killings by a very gross creature.  Dulcie catches the case and then is kicked off the case for her own protection.  She is surrounded by a slew of gorgeous good and bad guys and until the end you aren't sure which one is which.  When she isn't catching bad guys she is writing romance novels featuring some of the hunks she works with.  This was totally worth the $.99 I kicked in for it.  I would read more of her work and be willing to pay at least a few more dollars for future installments of the Dulcie's adventures.

So my friends, checkout the Under $5.00 section at B&N.  There are some real gems in there.  One caveat:  Make sure you checkout all the info on a book.  I have felt totally ripped off when I bought a Nora Roberts novel that was actually a re-release of a short story.  As always, be a smart shopper.
I also found to be an awesome resource for inexpensive and free novels to feed my book beast.  For those who don't have to own their books, checkout your local library's ebook collection.  Mine has really become a treasure trove of great reading.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lyndsay Sands and Carly Phillips go awry

I am annoyed.  I want to enjoy Lyndsay Sands and Carly Phillips, really I do, but just as I am starting to get into the story I am jarred out of the moment with the constant use of the word "wryly".....ugh!  If I had the time and desire to go back and count how many times that word was used by each author it would number into the hundreds!   I am sorry ladies but this is not acceptable.  You are both good writers with fun and interesting plots so why aren't you using your thesaurus.  I did and look, I found 9 options for "wry".  From they are:
askew, aslant, awry, contorted, crooked, cynical, deformed, droll, dry, ironic, mocking, sardonic, twisted, uneven, warped.                                                                                     If I looked up the synonyms for these words the list gets even longer.  I listened to Carly Phillip's "Heartbreaker" and I winced every time the narrator said, "wryly."  Come on Ms. Phillips not every smile is wry!  How about chagrined or delight, embarassment?  They are all great words!  I read "The Immortal Hunter" by Lyndsay Sands right after "Heartbreaker" and it was like salt in an open wound!   Vampires are not the most emotive of creatures ok, but I think of them as more often as stoic or sardonic than wry.  I would even go with secretive and sinister but wry would be on the bottom of my expressions list.  I would love to say these two books were the only instances of this travesty of language laziness but alas they are not.  This is the third Carly Phillips novel I have read/listened to and “wryly” is her most favorite expression in the English language.   I will let Ms. Sands a little leeway because I have read most of the Argeneau Series and this is the first time I have noticed the over use of that word.  I might have been over sensitive at that point since, as I said, I had just finished “Heartbreaker.”
In conclusion, I want you ladies to promise me in all future books you will strike the words “wry and wryly” from your vocabulary.  Get out your thesaurus and play with the rest of the english language….just sayin