Thursday, August 27, 2015

Five Books Rebuttal

I'm not going to list books from my deep past such as Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird or Gone With the Wind. Besides, I know Lori has already read them. No, some of my list is on the little traveled track. Some I have "notreviewed" here and some I just might review in the future.

One thing I do know, there's lots of books I just can't think of right now, that might outdo this list. That's how my mind works these days. Tomorrow or maybe even a week from now, a book will spring to mind and I'll cry out in agony "why didn't I put that book on my list!"

*sigh*  It is what it is, I'm afraid.

So. There's no classics on this list; just books that really appealed to me for one reason or another. And here we go.  :-)

1.  The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

A time travel historical that is really well done. I can remember the first time I read it and how fascinated I was - that's how much it affected me, I remember it! Lol. And now I've bought the first half season of the TV show and it's really bringing the book alive for me.

Gabaldon's descriptions stick in my mind. The way she describes Jamie, down to the red gold hairs on his arms brought an intimacy to the couple that lingers in my mind to this day.

The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon

This omnibus consists of three books: Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold. This is high fantasy and follows the adventures of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter as she matures into a warrior, finds her magic and becomes a Paladin of Gird who fights for the weak and downtrodden. Absolutely a wonderful story, full of elves and gnomes and dwarves, kings and mages.

This series of books was written twenty plus years ago and fans thought that was that, even though everyone wanted more stories in this world. Lo and behold, never say die: Moon went back to this world a several years ago and wrote six more books: Oath of Fealty, Kings of the North, Echo of Betrayal, Limits of Power, Crown of Renewal, Deeds of Honor. All in Pak's world with new heroes and heroines and wonderful adventures. A must for fantasy fans.

3.  The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley

This book created a little buzz at its publication; the hero, to all intents and purposes, has high level autism and this is a study of how he functions in his society as well as a romance story. I love Lord Ian. I love eccentric people and therefore I adore Lord Ian. A really great romance with a hero and heroine worthy of each other. 

4.  Motorcycle Man by Kristin Ashley

For me, this is the granddaddy of all MC books. It's the first one I read and it's the one I keep rereading. And while the hero might seem to be misogynous, his reasoning for his actions are logical and for the benefit of his woman. I've never been an ultra-feminist; there's lots of things men can do better than me and frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. Tack does it for me.  ;-)

5.  The Infected Series by Andrea Speed

I don't know what it is about this series. Maybe it's Paris, who isn't even the hero, but has a big effect on the books. Maybe it's the sheer guts shown by the hero, Roan. He fights his condition and he fights for others. This is a M/M book with the bedroom door closed, but the loving relationship between Roan and Paris in the early books really doesn't need sex to define itself. Damn good books.


Choosing five books has been hard for me, there are so many books I love as well as books I remember. I remember an autobiography of David Niven, Bring on the Empty Horses (always loved that title),(wish it was in ebook) and A Canticle for Leibowitz and probably many, many more SF&F that are just a whisper away from the borders of my memory.

Anyway.  Happy reading, y'all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

5 Books My Best Friend Should Read

I think I saw this posted on Facebook: 5 books my best friend should read and I loved the title. So much about who we are can be tied up in the books that have moved us and sometimes I think relationships can change when you share books.

Once Carolyn introduced me to Lord of Scoundrels and Georgette Heyer and Lisa Kleypas, we had an even greater bond because we shared a love for these books. And we still share books and learn more about each other in doing so.

So, here's my list of 5 books my best friend should read because they are all that to me.

Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres

Do not bring up the movie: this is all about the book. And admittedly the book's ending was a let down but none of that matters. I have never been more charmed or cried as hard in a public place as when reading this book.

And I mean, I sat on a loaded bus, tears running down my face and gasping for breath during this book.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

I love magic realism and I love romance and I love good writing most of all, so this book was like an endless ice cream cone on a sweltering day.

The characters are all so finely drawn and the touch of magic in their lives made so much sense that it was a world I never wanted to leave. And even her follow up book, First Frost had much of the same charm.

Read it. Just do. Trust me.

Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie.

This is my go to comfort read. I've read this book maybe 40 or 50 times since I discovered it and I could read it and will read it 100 more times. It's perfection from beginning to end and in so many ways I can't name them all.

But I will say that the slow disintegration of Bill as he goes from sad to crazy is just so well done.

I love this book in ways I can't explain. People who don't get it, well, I just don't get them.

Early Autumn by Robert Parker.

I love the Spencer mysteries by Robert Parker but toward the end the books lost a lot of the great writing that made them so amazing and relied a lot more on the feelings the readers had for the characters.

Early Autumn is the book that brings a sullen, teenaged boy into Spencer's life and changes everything. Spencer has to teach him how to be independent because his family is broken and how to become a man because his childhood is over.

It's beautifully written and has a depth regarding growing up that touches me deeply. It makes me think of the song from Into The Woods: Giants in the Sky. When the boy suddenly realizes that life has changed and he can't go back to childhood because there are giants in the sky.

Just writing about the book makes me want to reread it. Which I think I'm going to do tonight.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein.

Heinlein as a human being is problematic to be a fan of since he was racist, misogynist and wrote positively about incest. But this book is in my top 5 because he might have been a horror as a human but this book is beautiful and makes me think.

The depiction of the moon as a penal colony that became its own country (Australian, huh Lea?) and the difficulties faced.... there's a sentient computer, group marriages that work, a society based on the concept of There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch...

These are my 5 books.

Most of my books are digital nowadays but all of these are paperback and on my keeper shelf. There's also Primal Scream, a book about primal scream therapy that I only read once but moved me so deeply that I keep the book as a talisman of sorts. There's A Friendship, an exchange of letters between Dan Rowan (the comedian, half of Rowan and Martin) and John McDonald, author of the Travis McGee series. I loved both men and their correspondence was smart, deep and a little heartbreaking when the friendship fractured.

Carolyn: your turn. Let's see them.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I'm Not Crazy! Well, Maybe.... But Not About This

This is a personal post....

I have a difficult relationship with my family. A lot of that is because my mother had a difficult relationship with my siblings and we lived together so I went along for many of her emotional joy rides. They were all her craziness but I was her enabler (and she was mine).

After she passed away I tried to make things right between myself and my siblings. And during that time, my sister and brother discovered a shared love of hiking so their bromance was born. Plus my Sis' SO and my brother became tightlikethis while my SIL became another one of their favorite people...

So when the family was all together I tried to stay cool and just go with the flow And it was good. We all got along, everyone was included in most everything and it was fine. There was no sense of closeness but there was nothing negative.

And then my SIL went to Portland to be with my sister and her SO for 2+ weeks. The excuse was to see a doctor for follow up after cancerous mastectomy (which she did have testing done at the cancer center) but it was also to get off island for the first time in 15 years. No one begrudged her.

For 2+ weeks I've watched thousands of pictures on Facebook of all the places they went together and the good times they had. There were texts between them (and my brother and my sister's friends) (not me) with more pictures and sharing. The entire time she was gone I received a few texts from my SIL and none from anyone else.

And my SIL came home with presents from my sister for my brother and presents for my nephew from my sister's friends and nothing for Mollie (you know, that 14 year old girl who's also related to all of them)...

And now my brother and SIL are planning a trip to Portland together to hang with the Sis and we are most definitely not invited and I told myself I'm crazy to be upset and feel left out but then George Takai posted an Ask Amy (I think it was Ask Amy) column from a woman talking about how she didn't want to include her sister in family outings because her sister didn't fit in as well and Amy said 'shame on you, it's family' and I honestly cried.

I cried because I thought I deserved to be left out. I cried because I thought maybe I am a bad person and don't deserve to be included. I cried because I've been beating myself up for years trying to not rock the boat with my sister and getting my feelings hurt but swallowing it all.

And someone said it wasn't my fault. Someone said no, they're the ones acting wrong. And for the first time in my life, someone said these crazy feelings are justified and I'm not creating drama in my head.

They've been leaving me out for years and it hurts. And now I can acknowledge the hurt and know that it's okay to feel it. I can't change them but I can know that I'm not crazy or wrong. And that's very liberating.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Good Time Bad Boy by Sonya Clark

Wade Sheppard was the king of country for nearly ten years. Now he can’t get Nashville on the phone, much less another record deal. When yet another drunken night onstage gets him fired from a casino gig, Wade is pulled off the road by his manager and sent home. Being back in the small town where he was born and raised, his every screw-up fodder for gossip, isn’t helping any. His family knows him too well, and the pretty, sharp-tongued waitress who catches his eye doesn’t want to know him at all.

Daisy McNeil has more baggage than most her age but she’s finally pulling her life together. College classes will be her ticket out of poverty and instability. She doesn’t mind waiting tables for the time being, but she could do without the rowdy rednecks who sometimes get handsy. When one of them crosses the line, she snaps and gives him and his stupid ten gallon hat the telling off he deserves, but causing a scene gets her fired.

Wade didn’t mean to cost Daisy her job. Chastened, he decides he doesn’t want his train wreck of a life to crash into anybody else. He offers the bar owner a summer of free shows if Daisy can have her job back. Now they’re spending nights together trading barbs and fighting a growing attraction. With a sexy smile and a powerful voice that can make any song his, Wade’s determined to show Daisy that he’s more than just a good time bad boy. 

I've bought many low cost books by authors I've never heard of and many of them just don't appeal to
me. They're usually bought on sale - think 99 cents - or the blurb makes the plot sound really good. Good plot and good price - it's worth a try.

I wasn't really expecting anything from Good time Bad Boy; I was just hoping I could finish the book. The book was surprisingly good and I really did like it.

I'd say the story is character driven. There is little action, no shooting, fighting or such. It's a story of two people falling reluctantly in love and overcoming some long term problems to be together. There's no "big misunderstanding" to maneuver around and the writing has its beautiful moments. This passage in particular caught my eye. Wade is playing his guitar while thinking about past music.

"From there Wade continued in the same vein, Spanish rhythms and melancholy, Texas and California country with dust and grit sandpapering the notes and faded dreams coloring the lyrics."

One of the underlying themes is teenage pregnancy. Both Daisy and her sister got pregnant in their teens; the sister kept her daughter while Daisy put her baby up for adoption.

Family, lifestyle, making your life work something that will make you happy, all these themes are covered. It's not a rock 'n roll book by any means; it's a small town troupe, almost a cozy with sex.  :-)

Definitely recommended. A damned good read.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thank You Stranger

I don't know your name but you gave me the greatest gift a person could have. You gave your daughter life in a place where you couldn't be her mother for whatever reason there was.

You chose to let her live and I thank you for that. For having her and leaving her abandoned where she would be found. Some people have left their babies where they wouldn't, in fact couldn't, survive but you left your child where she would be found. Where she was taken to safety and placed with people who would take care of her.

I don't know what you faced but I believe your choices were made for your daughter's care. You live in a country where your choices are limited and your value, as well as the value of your child, are small. And you chose to let her live.

I thank you.

Yesterday our daughter came home, excited because she auditioned for high school jazz band and she made the A band. The better band. The one that will travel to other islands and have opportunities the B band won't. She worked hard to get into the A band. She'll learn to work hard to stay in that band and I'm so proud of her. You would be proud of her too.

She's beautiful. Her skin is soft and lovely, her eyes, nose and mouth are perfect. She has a small waist and a well shaped form. She is truly an attractive human being and I hope she looks like you. I hope those lips are yours, the long toes and straight hair are the same as what you have.

You are beautiful, and your daughter carries your beauty.

I know her in ways I wish you could. I wish you could see the compassion in her and experience her humor. Oh, she's funny. She can be so clever and has made jokes that have astounded me with their complexity.

She's great at math, can learn any instrument you put in front of her and she's showing an affinity for languages. None of those did she get from me so I assume your genes are showing in her. How you'd love her. I'll bet if you were here, you two would be nerds together and enjoy the same things. You would hear her, see her, as she learned about her interests and shared the excitement with you.

She's not perfect by any means but when I look at her, she seems perfect to me. I'm so proud of her and I love her more than I believed I could love another person. Just like you did. Like you probably still do.

Thank you for letting her live. Thank you for bringing her into the world.

Thank you.

Friday, August 14, 2015

My New Romance Novel

New from Bethaninny House
      Following in the tradition of inspirational romances
                           that inspire no one, no where

              LOVE AT BARKENWALD 
 by me, some random Jewess

Based on a true story that I made up, and lots of serious research (my brother told me Hitler liked dogs).

Adolph Hitler was a man who was tortured
by his country, his fellow men, and those
damned Jews (not to mention the gypsies,
Catholics and homosexuals). All he wanted
was to experience a true love, a giving love,
the kind of love that can only be found between
the pages of a bible or in the long, wet tongue 
of a German Shepherd. 

Despite murdering eleven million people (but
six million were Jews and nobody really cares 
since they're all Christ killers anyway)(and if God
wanted Jews to live, He would have made them
Christians like everyone here at Bethaninny
House) Adolph was alone. Until he saw the depth
of compassion in warm brown eyes and felt the 
soft fur of companionship. A beautiful dog named
Heidi who understood the conflicted heart and
true beauty of The Final Solution and loved
poor Adolph as he tried to exterminate those damned
Kikes from existence.

An excerpt:

"Heil Heidi, mein Shepherd girly. I have only killed three million of those damned Jews so far and feel inferior. I promised to rescue Germany from the large nosed, dark haired, good at money management and really scholarly non-believers in our Lord, Jesus Christ."


"Yes, that's right! I can mass murder them in unmarked graves and steal their possessions too."


"Yes Heidi, my good little Himmler, let us pray."

If you like this story, here at Bethaninny House we're also offering these other 'inspirational' romances:

A Civil Wrong: a compelling story of a racist, cross burning Ku Klux Klan member and the young black girl he hides in his basement  and rapes until she accepts that she's dirty and kills herself in shame...

Crusadables: a Catholic priest in a dark moment of history kills and rapes every Jewish, Muslim and Christian woman he can find until a nice Christian girl convinces him to just kill the Jews and Muslims and do it in Jesus' name because nobody likes those damned Jews and Muslims anyway...

Yassar and Goldie, A True Love Story.


I shouldn't have to mention that this post is in response to Bethany Press and their awful Nazi romance. As a romance writer, I am appalled. As a romance reader, I am appalled. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I am appalled. And as a Jew, I am enraged and disgusted. 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas

Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn't believe in love-at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can't resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can't afford distractions. She's been hired to plan the wedding of the year-a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he's not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything-including her well-guarded heart-will she find out what matters most.

I can't say I've waited anxiously for this book, because I haven't. At the time, I had vague thoughts about why Joe didn't have a book of his own. After all, he is a Travis, but he was mostly in the background, so it was never a big deal for me.

Now Joe Travis does have his own book, thanks to Ms Kleypas' loyal readers who really wanted Joe's story.

I enjoyed this book. These were real people, who had real problems. The Travises may have been rich, but they come across as normal and Joe himself is a sweetie.

There's not really much of a plot; that may bother some readers. What there is, is a good, old fashioned romance, where the protagonists get to know each other without a bunch of misunderstandings and almost no internal lusting, which I found very refreshing. Yes, you read that correctly - no internal lusting! And yet the feelings and emotions were very real, came across well and were written beautifully.

I'm not going to say this is one of Ms Kleypas' best books, and not everyone's going to like the way the author wrote it, but it's a good addition to the Travis Family Saga. Not only do we have a satisfying romance center stage, but there's a secondary romance - Avery's sister, Sofia. We see Sofia's romance through Avery's eyes, so it's not real in depth, but I did like Sofia and enjoyed the back and forth between her and Steven. Plus, we get to catch up with the rest of the Travis family, which I loved.

I feel safe recommending this book because it's pure romance, without any other distractions. However, you might want to wait until MMP prices kick in because, despite the enjoyment the book gave me, it should never have been published as a HB and I should have Wishlisted it.

I guess if this were a review - *snark* - I'd give Brown-Eyed Girl a B. I really do like Ms Kleypas' writing.  :-)