Elizabeth: The Call of the Library

When I was growing up the library was my favorite place in the world   I spent most of my summer vacations at the local South Branch library, reading my way (alphabetically, of course) through the children’s section and, once Ms Cook the librarian decided I was old enough, on through a curated portion of the “grown-up” section.

Fast forward a few decades to when my son was little when we spent countless hours at the local library, progressing from story-time and picture books, to chapter-books and beyond.  I still have his very first library card – a bright-orange card with a signature on the back that only one who had given birth to him could decipher.  I didn’t bother getting a library card of my own at that time, since I always had his with me.  Someone perusing the library records might have wondered why a six-year old was checking out romance novels, but no one seemed to mind.

Since that time, other than a period when I was doing research at my university library a number of years ago, I haven’t set foot inside a library for longer than I can remember, unless you count my own house which does, I’ll admit, bear a striking resemblance to a library. Continue reading

Jilly: Resisting Holiday Romances

Are you a Happy Holidayer? I suspect I’m the token Grinch among the Ladies. While my fellow bloggesses are decorating their homes with emotionally significant ornaments, baking seasonal treats, and recommending feelgood stories, I’m counting the days till it’s all over.

This week we’ve been chatting among ourselves about the Hallmark Channel’s holiday programming, aided and abetted by this article from slate.com, and this review of A Princess for Christmas (Sam Heughan!) on smartbitchestrashybooks.com. I have to confess that even reading these intelligent and amusing pieces sent me screaming in search of Dorothy Parker, or Saki, or EF Benson.

Our discussion did, however, make me examine why Christmas stories make me froth at the mouth. It’s not intellectual snobbery or political correctness. I love genre romance. I adore fantasy and fairy tales. I seek out happy endings, and I’m a sucker for community. I prefer tales told with intelligence and wit, but while that might rule out some of the more saccharine offerings, it should still leave me open to classics like Michaeline’s suggestion, Christmas in Conneticut. Nope, not even that.

I always thought I read romance for the kindness, the community and the hit of happy. This week I realized there’s another huge reason: many romances (and all the ones I love best) involve defying expectations and resisting peer pressure. Continue reading

Jilly: Word Candy

Word CandyRegular 8LW commenter Rachel Beecroft recently introduced me to Gail Carriger (thanks, Rachel!). As I read the first few pages of Soulless, I felt a smile spread across my face and a great big Ahhhh! bubble probably formed above my head. The heroine Alessia Tarabotti’s world is complete and beautifully drawn and the characters are fascinating, but most of all I loved the author’s voice, which is witty, and rapier-sharp.

Most of my favorite books are written in close third person POV, which figures, because it suits the style of romance I like, where both hero and heroine get a voice and the story is experienced entirely through the eyes and thoughts of the viewpoint characters. There’s no place for anything that puts distance between the reader and the characters, be it asides from the author or words like ‘saw’ or ‘thought’. (For more on close or deep POV, check out this great post from Kay.)

Sometimes though, I read a book where Continue reading