Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Contest finalists and me

‘Tis the season for literary awards, or the genre awards, anyway. The Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America, will be announced April 28. The Nebula Awards of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, will be announced May 21. The Hugo Awards, presented by the World Science Fiction Convention, just passed its deadline for nominations March 26. 

And on March 25, the phone calls went out to the finalists in the RITA Awards, presented by the Romance Writers of America. So of course, I had to zip on over to the website and see how many of the books in the finals I’d read.

There are 12 categories for the RITA awards. There are only six Nebula categories, including one for short story, novelette, novella and screenplay, but then the science fiction/fantasy market is about half that of romance.There are 15 categories in the Hugo, but three are for people, and a bunch of others are for screenplays and stuff. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had read quite a few of the RITA finalists.

I've read five books in each of the historical romance categories In Best Historical Romance, they are: The Forbidden Rose by Joanne Bourne;  His at Night by Sherry Thomas;  A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James; Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase, and  A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl. And in Best Regency Historical Romance, I've read: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean; Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter; Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare; When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer, and The Wicked Wyckerly by Patricia Rice. That leaves three books unread in either category. 

In the Best First Book category, I've read When Harry Met Molly. 

In the Contemporary Series Romance category, I've read Christmas with Her Boss by Marion Lennox and Dare She Date the Dreamy Doc? by Sarah Morgan.

In the Contemporary Single-Title Romance category, I've read Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts and Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson.

In the Inspirational Romance category, I've read Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist.

In the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, I've read The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn and Welcome to Harmony by Jodi Thomas. 

In the Paranormal Romance category, I've read Immortal Sea by Virginia Kantra. (I know! I can't believe I haven't read more of them, or else that more of the ones I read didn't make the finals!)

In the Romantic Suspense category, I've read Two Lethal Lies by Annie Solomon. 

I haven't read any of the books in the Young Adult, Novella, or Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure. I just haven't got around to the YA books. I don't care for novellas, because they're too short, given how fast I read. And I'm a real wimp when it comes to suspense books. The only reason I read the Annie Solomon book is because I got it free--from GoodReads, I think. It's a very good book--but I am such a wimp, it scared me really bad and I had a hard time reading it. I'm just too much of a scaredy cat. Probably because of those years working for a prosecutor. When you've looked real sociopaths in the eye, it's really not much fun to read about them.

Anyway, I have now put most of the RITA finalists on my TBR list--and have already picked up and read Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl, which is a Contemporary Single-Title nominee. I'm not going to make myself read the RomSus books, because I wallow in my wimpitude. And if the books cost more than a paperback, I may see if I can get them at the library. But I'm going to give it the old college try. Maybe even try to read them before the RITA ceremonies in New York in early July.

And since I put all these RITA books on my list, I bebopped on over to the other lists to see what they had. I already have some of the Nebula Books on my list, and I own The Native Star, by M.K. Hobson, but I haven't read any of them yet. (Sigh.) And since they're announcing soon, I'm not even going to try to read them before then. But I'm going to put a couple more on my list, or at least try to figure out where I can read the shorter stories, even though I really don't much like short form fiction. I also added a few books from the Edgars list, though  I’m wary of those, given my wimpitude, but I did add a Young Adult mystery, Dust City, by Robert Paul Weston, about a young werewolf at the Home for Wayward Wolves. I think I added a book from a series about Freud & friends as detectives. And when the Hugos finish tabulating their votes, I'll probably snag a few to-reads from that list.

You’ll find the Nebula nominees at, the Edgar nominees at and the RITA nominees at The Hugo site is Surely they’ll have their finalists up fairly soon. Most of the sites have a prominent link for their latest awards nominees (You kind of have to hunt for the Nebulas, which is why I linked directly). Go forth and find yourself some good books to read.  

Tell me which ones you've read--or which you really liked, and which ones you're tempted to try... 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It just grabbed hold!

I'm reading a book, one co-authored by a friend of mine in a genre new to her. Co-authoring is also new to her, I think.

I'll be honest--the book isn't the best written thing I've ever read. (And I feel bad saying that, because this co-author IS a friend, and I've read other things by her that are very well written.) But it grabbed hold of me, and I'm having a really hard time putting it down, even to go to work.

Overall, the writing isn't horrible. Though--once the main character is named, she needs to be referred to by name, pronoun, or title--like if she's 'the queen' or 'the priestess.' Something more generic, like 'the blonde,' just jerks me right out of the story, because I wonder if it's the barmaid or something, who just happens to be blond. It's just too generic to be used to name the main character, once the main character is named and described.

I'm also finding the characters almost caricatures--this one is supposed to be carefree and fun-loving and maybe a bit ditzy--and she's SO ditzy, she's on the verge of stupidity. That one is not only evil, she's fat and disgusting. This other one is a total snob with no redeeming characteristics. This one is too good to be true. That one is so focused on scholarship there's no connecting with people. Caricatures. And yet--and yet...

I cannot put the book down.

I HAVE to see what happens next. It's an epic fantasy published on Smashwords (and other self-publishing e-book platforms) about a girl who's chosen by the magic flute to be its player. There's an evil queen and her suckups, and a noble count who wants to help the girl, but also maybe use her to save his country--and maybe the whole land--from the queen, and things happen, but we don't know why they happen or what they mean, and the magic-flute-player is supposed to be a virgin, but this girl SO isn't, and...

Well, the book just sucked me in. I'm rolling my eyes at the extreme extremeness of the characters, and occasionally stopping to figure out just who, exactly, is doing or saying whatever (I mean, surely, there's more than one blonde in this universe), and gulping it down fast as I can. I sure hope the end answers all the questions raised and all the nasty bad guys get theirs and-- Well, I'll let you know.

Yeah. So, if you want to take the chance of this book grabbing you by the throat (or the eyeballs--whatever), it's called THE NIGHT HOLDS THE MOON, by Colleen Thompson and Parke Roberts.

Oh, I am still working on the revising of the book. Making notes about large changes--haven't really reached the parts where I think it may need them, just reading through, marking small changes, and making notes...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

TBR Challenge: Candy Apple Red

Wow. Looks like my last several blogposts have all been about the TBR challenge. Between the new grandbaby, and getting my dad settled in the nursing home, and finding all their paperwork to get sent off to the accountants for taxes, and then fighting off the bronchitis from !*@&#!, I haven't posted anything here, have I?

But I've been good. I realized the challenge was coming up, and went to my TBR shelves to see what I was in the mood to read. See, I didn't list any books as "intending to read" for the challenge. What I want to read depends on my mood, and if I'm not in the right mood, I can't get through things I might have had on my list. So, I just perused my shelves (and moved a lot of stuff around), and picked out CANDY APPLE RED by Nancy Bush.

So. The book is a September 2006 release from Kensington, book #1 in the Jane Kelly series.

Why was it on my TBR shelf? Because I got it free from an RWA conference, I think. 2006 was several years ago, and my mind does well to remember what I was doing last week. I'm pretty sure I brought it home because I thought I'd probably enjoy reading it, stuck it on the shelf, and never got much farther. Sigh.

It IS by a new-to-me author, which was the suggestion for March, so I succeeded there. It's not really a romance.

The Review: There's a blurb on the front cover from Lisa Jackson that says "Move over Stephanie Plum, Jane Kelly has arrived."   This to me would intimate that the book is slapstick funny, with lots of quirky characters and things blowing up. It's not. It's a pretty good read, but it's not slapstick. It's your basic cozy mystery with relationship issues and a single-gal protagonist.

Jane Kelly is what her married accountant friend Billy calls a "hatchery fish." Someone who takes the easy route, rather than struggling upstream. She moved to Portland, OR, following a man, and just sort of stayed when he moved on. She works as a process server, and does a bit of research for a private investigator. (She does get "treed" by a mean dog on top of her car and has to call her friend for a rescue, but her friend is not a Lula-type. She has more sense than Jane.) She's slightly attracted to the PI, but doesn't want to be. She's still hung up on the guy who moved on, Murphy.

There's an old mystery at the heart of all this. Murphy's best friend Bobby was accused of murdering his entire family--wife and 3 kids--and vanishing, several years ago. It's why Murphy left town--he didn't want to believe it. The cops think Bobby's parents--rich and divorced--have been supporting him. But now Bobby's Mom wants Jane to use her connection with Murphy to talk to Bobby's Dad and find out where he--Bobby--is. Jane doesn't want to. She wants to be over Murphy. Then Bobby turns up drowned in the lake.

This story has a lot of threads and a lot of subtext. It's complicated--and it's not. The thing about mystery stories--most of the story is about the character's everyday life, with, admittedly, lots of going here to talk to this person and there to sneak around that person's house. In this story, there was a lot of riding in boats to go drink at a restaurant on a lake, or going to eat at this other restaurant. There were a lot of clothes. Jane claimed not to care much about what she wore, but Nancy Bush spent a lot of time describing what she wore. There was a fair bit of mayhem. Bush did a good job hiding the identity of the murderer. It was a fairly interesting mystery.

I'm trying to come up with my main impression of the book, and maybe what I see as the main difference between this one and others of a similar type that I've enjoyed more. And I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, felt like something was missing. It didn't have the brash voice of an Evanovich book, but I like a lot of series that don't. It felt... Dry. (For all the tootling around on--and in--the lake Jane did.) I know it's not a romance, or even romantic suspense, but the heart didn't seem to be in it. Her lingering obsession with Murphy seemed a tad academic, and her attraction to Dwayne (her boss PI) seemed to appear only when Bush needed it to. The emotion was played so far down, it felt dry.

So over all, it was an interesting read, it kept my attention all the way through to the end, without me yelling at the book for info dumping or researchitis or anything. But I don't know if I'm going to go out of my way to read any more by this author. This one's going to fall somewhere between "I liked it" and "It was okay."

I have drugs for the bronchitis. I sure hope they kick this stuff on its butt soon! I'm tired of feeling like crap.