I’m having a very indulgent week. I made strawberry jam near the beginning of it, and every day since, I’ve had a big slice of buttered toast smeared with jam to go with my breakfast (brunch? lunch?) every day since. I feel so decadent!
Then, the day I had to go to the dentist, I spoiled myself rotten with shopping therapy, even though it was just a final fitting for my mouthguard (no drilling, no scraping, or digging, or prodding – I don’t know why I thought I needed to reward myself). Not one, not two, but three little boxes of plants and flowers from three different shops. I was proud of myself for avoiding shops four and five.
And at the last stop of the day, I got ice cream. Loads of ice cream, not just for me but for the whole family. Spoiling myself is great, but spoiling others is also a simple pleasure and indulgence.
Good news for me this month! Lois McMaster Bujold’s newest Penric and Desdemona novella came out on Oct. 14, 2020 for Kindle and iBooks (as of this writing, there were still problems with the Barnes and Noble upload).
And of course, there’s nothing like a masquerade for October!
Although, I stretch the point a bit – Lodi looks a lot like our Earth Venice on the edge of the Print Era. The masquerade is a five-gods holiday called Bastard’s Eve, and is set during midsummer. It’s celebrated with revels and fools and drinking and masks of all sorts. And food onna stick! It’s not a harvest festival like Halloween or a pre-fast festival like Mardi Gras.
The book will stand by itself just fine, I think, but for readers who have read other Penric and Desdemona novellas, it falls between “Penric’s Fox” and “Penric’s Mission” – just after Penric’s unwritten nervous breakdown as a doctor who can’t save everyone, and before he becomes a spy and political operative.
In many ways, Penric is in limbo. He’s recovering from his breakdown. He’s quietly engaged in translation (what Desdemona scornfully calls “busywork”), and he looks forward to Bastard’s Eve because everybody will be out of the temple, leaving him alone to his thoughts and mild rehabilitation.
But of course, his boss and his god (the Bastard) have other plans for him. A mad sailor has Continue reading →
What’s your most tried-and-tested method of finding new authors to read? Do you ever use Amazon’s also-boughts?
I’m always checking out new search methods and new-to-me authors, but lately my selections have been especially hit-and-miss. The problem is that “I’ll know it when I read it” is not really searchable. I’m looking for a combination of qualities rather than neat pigeonholes like settings or subgenres.
I like upbeat stories with happy endings, romances or books with a strong romantic subplot. After that it gets tricky. I want heroes and heroines with intelligence, agency, and emotional depth. I love stories where strong characters deal honestly with one another, especially when that’s difficult. I prefer confrontation to secrets or lies or withholding information. My fave authors write series with strong communities. I actively seek out humor and kindness. I enjoy voice, but not when it tips over into look-at-me writing. I love a good sex scene, but only if it moves the story. I’ll try most subgenres.
I believe the Zon is one of the most powerful search engines in existence, but while it’s awesome at identifying reverse harem cowboy stories (not kidding), the search box is not my friend.
Here in the US, the three-day Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff of the summer season. Yes, the official first day of summer is nearly a month away, but in most of the country, temperatures are already rising, vacations are on the calendar, and list upon list of summer reading recommendations are splashed across newspapers, magazines, and various and sundry corners of the internet.
Most of us here on the blog are avid, year-round readers, so we hardly need an excuse to pick up more books. But it is fun to check out curated lists and find some books that are hot and trending, cool and refreshing, or just downright emotionally satisfying. This weekend, in between family cookouts and sipping mango margaritas, I came across some lists that have put me into a book-buying frenzy. The side effect of this is, of course, that a reading frenzy will soon ensue. #readerproblems Continue reading →
The quality of my TBR list has improved greatly of late thanks to Jenny Crusie. Last month she added a new weekly feature, Good Book Thursdays, to her blog, www.arghink.com, and invited her online community to recommend something good to read.
Jenny’s followers are a discerning group, so when Katherine Addison’s novel The Goblin Emperor collected a slew of recommendations, I bought it and bumped it up to the top of my list. I’m glad I did. The story is fantasy, which I love, arguably Young Adult (not so much my thing), and with only the barest smidgeon of the possibility of a future love story (bah!), but I really enjoyed it.
The Goblin Emperor is a coming-of-age story about eighteen year-old Maia, half-elf, half-goblin, who unexpectedly becomes Emperor of the Elflands following the death of his father and three of his siblings in an airship crash. He’s the only child of a political mixed marriage, raised in exile by his mother and after her death, by a bitter, bullying cousin. Maia comes to the dangerous, formal and highly politicized Imperial Court without friends or allies and has to decide whom to trust and just what kind of Emperor he wants to be—assuming he survives long enough to make his mark. He quickly discovers that his father’s airship was sabotaged, and he’s smart enough to realize the murderer is likely to be close at hand.
It’s a real challenge to combine being a writer and a news-junkie these days, and it’s especially difficult to carve out time for pleasure reading. However, as we’ve all heard time and again, reading and writing go together like peanut butter and jelly (though fortunately not as sticky), so making the time to read is a priority.
Anyway, after attending a book signing a few weeks ago and adding a few more volumes to the TBR pile, I was motivated to get reading before the pile turned into an avalanche. Fortunately, the current cold, rainy, cuddle-up-with-a-blanket-on-the-couch weather has been perfect for reading. Cupcakes and napping too, but mostly reading.
Smart Bitches had some recommendations for those who can’t choose among the multitude of riches. I can give a personal shout-out to Pregnesia by Carla Cassidy, which has an amazing review on the SBTB site, with 133 responses. If nothing else, read the review and the comments at least until you run into Ms. Cassidy’s authorial response. You won’t be sorry. The book costs $1.99. The review and comments: priceless.
Today’s post almost remained unwritten. I blame Galavant. The show is streaming on Netflix and, since I’d heard great things about it, I decided to watch an episode after work before settling down to write.
Next thing I knew, I’d gone through six episodes. If you’re fond of stories where the characters periodically break into song for no reason, I definitely recommend it. Just be careful. The episodes may only be about 20 minutes, but they’re addictive.
I told myself I was watching to “study story” but even I didn’t buy that. I was watching strictly for fun, which isn’t such a bad thing to do.
This week was about more than entertaining television though. Getting back into writing mode has also meant getting back to reading. Here then is what I’ve been reading lately: Continue reading →