Thursday, February 3, 2011

January: A Month in Review

Despite how some of the massively depressing entries I wrote in January, the month wasn't a total loss.  I got my first two full critiques of my novel, and I'm making (some) headway in the revision process.  I'm working on a novella to ease the brain detritus while I slog my way through revisions.  And the combination of crappy weather and emotional crises meant that I spent a lot of time at home, reading.

I did a lot of reading in January.

I discovered Samhain Publishing this month, after their website reboot prompted a lot of chatter on my Twitter feed.  This month, I think I single-handedly put at least one or two children of Samhain staff members through college.  And maybe graduate school.  Samhain has a fantastic selection of all kinds of romance.  My particular poison is paranormal romance, and they've got oodles.  In the mood for shapeshifters?  Vampires?  Demons?  Angels?  Other heterofore unnamed paranormal creature?  Samhain has it.  Perhaps heterosexual, vanilla sex isn't your thing?  Samhain has a great selection of romances featuring all types of relationships (M/F, M/M, F/F, M/M/F, M/F/F, etc.--I'm sure there's a few combos I missed), heat levels, and degrees of kink.  In addition, if you're not feeling up for a full-length novel, they feature a lot of short novels and novellas.  (Longer titles are featured in both print and e-book format, whereas shorter titles are e-book only.)  The site is user-friendly and easy to navigate.  I really ought to send them a thank-you letter or something: these books were exactly what I needed in January.

In addition to my recent discovery of Samhain because my Twitter peeps talked it up, I have also gladly discovered the works of KT Grant and LA Dale.  KT Grant's novella, For the Love of Mollie, was a fun, sexy romp about a slightly overweight, more-than-slightly insecure woman who falls for a sexy gym owner.  I loved reading about a heroine who wasn't the magazine-model image of beauty.  (Or, as I more often see in romances, the woman who thinks she's not conventionally beautiful, but actually really is.)  Also, there's a lot of sexy scenes contained in a very short space.  A very fun read.  (Also, I love this cover.  It's exquisite.)

LA Dale's Perhaps ... Perhaps was a funny, charming story about an Australian schoolteacher who falls head-over-heels for the new principal.  I loved watching the evolution of the protagonist, Flora, as she went from shy and neurotic to strong and confident.  I also liked how Dale's characters behaved like real people, rather than the archetypical ways romance novel characters usually behave.  It made them frustrating at times--but also more realistic.  I wanted to strangle the hero a couple of times, and I wanted to smack the heroine upside the head.  But people in real life aren't perfect.  Nor should they be in romance.  (Also, confession: I dig Australian accents.  I blame it on my tendency to watch foreign TV shows as a child--thanks a lot, Spellbinder!  Also, Ingo Rademacher on General Hospital during my high school years--yummy!  But whatever.  I dig Australian accents.  I think they're crazy sexy.  I could listen to an Australian man reading the phone book and it would sound like poetry to me.  Getting to imagine an entire book full of a sexy man saying sexy things in an Australian accent was icing on the cake for me.  And yes, I have a very vivid imagination!)

A book I loved this month (that I've already mentioned):  So I was completely and utterly enamored with Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning.  It was always the mystery that propelled me through this series, and I felt like Shadowfever tied it all together well--with just enough ambiguity that I didn't feel the ending was "too pat."  From what I've read on blogs and review sites these past several weeks, the reaction was more mixed than I realized when I wrote about it a few weeks ago.  (Actually, I was writing about rude people on critique sites and their utter inability to allow for dissention, but that's not the point.)  From what I can tell, it seems like the people who loved the first four books in the series also loved Shadowfever.  The people who didn't like them or felt ambivalent were less inclined to like it.

I guess you know where I stand.  I'm hooked.  And pretty soon, I suspect I'm going to read the books again just so I can go on that journey again.  (And yet again, I discovered the series through Twitter.)

A book I loved this month (that I haven't mentioned):  Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.  I've moved away from the YA genre a lot in the past year, mostly because I was tired of reading about protagonists who were a decade or more younger than me.  But I loved Clare's Mortal Instruments series.  It was just so fresh and fun.  Clary was such a great heroine, and...well, if I'm being completely honest, Jace is the guy I'd have a crush on (but never manage to work up the nerve to ask out) if I were 10 years younger.  Tortured--check.  Brooding--check.  Self-depricating humor--check.  Tousled hair--check.  He's the perfect teen hero, angry but never angsty, intermittently sweet but never sappy.

I follow Clare on Twitter, and I started noticing quite a bit of chatter about her other book, Clockwork Angel, which takes place in the same world as her Mortal Instuments series but 130 years earlier.  It sounded intriguing, so I came out of my YA-free cave and took the plunge...and it was awesome.  With its combination of otherworldly fantasy and steampunk sci-fi, Clockwork Angel creates an aesthetic that is even more unique than the Mortal Instruments books.  Twists and turns kept me guessing until the end.  And once again, we're treated to a tortured teen hero: Will Herondale.  At first wisecrack, he seems similiar to Jace in a lot of ways.  Then I put two and two together and realized he was an ancestor of Jace's (though I haven't yet figured out how they're related).  The apple, it don't fall far from the tree.  And thank goodness for that!

The bad news is the sequel, Clockwork Prince, doesn't come out until September 2011.  The good news is that I also realized The Mortal Instruments is not a trilogy!  The fourth book, City of Fallen Angels, comes out in April.

Seems that I may have to end my self-imposed YA moratorium--at least for Cassandra Clare.

Lesson of the Month:  Twitter matters.  There's a lot of junk on there, natch, but there's also cool stuff to be discovered.  I love finding new authors, new publishers, and new books.  The sheer volume of new and exciting material I've found this month, as a result of Twitter, has made me very happy.

1 comment:

KB/KT Grant said...

Glad you enjoyed Mollie, Beth. :)