[At the Amazon Kindle Community forum there is a monthly thread where participants list and comment on which books they’re reading at the moment on their Kindles. These aren’t usually full reviews, often just relatively brief impressions. I’m copying over some of my comments made there into Book Bits posts here.]
My monthly Book Bits posts get rather long if I’ve read a lot of books and I include extensive comments on several of them. So I thought maybe I should try breaking them up into more than one post per month. So here’s my books from the first half of March.
At the very end of February I finished reading Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. I’m glad to have now read it since I’ve heard it mentioned so much over the years. It was an okay read, Susann is actually a pretty decent writer. But I thought the book dragged things out more than they needed to be, so many of their life problems just seemed to repeat. It’s a very soap operaish look at three women who keep making bad decisions and never learn anything from them. It did provide a very interesting look at New York and Hollywood in the 40s through the 60s.
After that I read Timeless by Gail Carriger which is the 5th (and final?) book in the Parasol Protectorate series, a sort of mashup of paranormal fantasy, steampunk, and mystery. I didn’t think it was quite as strong as previous novels in the series and wasn’t quite as funny. It did take a surprising turn near the end that was fun. Still an enjoyable read.
Early today I read the first five chapters of In the Blood by Steve Robinson (self-published). It’s the March Mystery Madness selection for the book discussion group in the Kindle Book Forum. That’s all I’m going to read of it though. I thought the writing, while not falling into the dreadful category, was amateurish and confusing. I had to work way too hard to try and find anything interesting, let alone entertaining, about what was going on. Bummer, because I was looking forward to the group discussion.
I’m now 23% into River Marked by Patricia Briggs, which is the 6th book in the Mercedes Thompson urban fantasy series. The contrast between it and In the Blood is like night and day. I was swept back into Mercy’s world immediately and the writing is smooth and unobtrusive. This book has a slow start in that there hasn’t really been much action to speak of, but that hasn’t been a bad thing. It’s nice seeing Mercy so happy and I’m enjoying it tons so far.
I finished River Marked by Patricia Briggs earlier today. I liked it, but it’s definitely not the strongest book in the series.
The slow pacing continued through the book until fairly near the end. I didn’t mind the slower pace for the first part of the book, but it did drag a bit in the middle. This one is heavy on Native American lore, which interests me. I loved that some of the details about Mercy’s father were finally revealed. So while it wasn’t a “can’t put it down” book, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed at all.
Instead of starting a novel I went back to reading some short stories in the Chicks Kick Butt urban fantasy anthology. I kept right on reading and I only have one story left in it now, so will finish it out. I’ve only read work from four of the included authors previously, so it’s been an interesting introduction to a lot of new-to-me authors.
It’s a very strong anthology. Unless the final story is a total dud I thought there were only three that were quite a bit weaker than the others.
One was fairly short and I thought the writing was sub-par with a Mary-Sueish protagonist. One was novelette length, and I just plain didn’t like it, so only read a little bit of it. The third started out really promising, but then took a dive, including one of the worst sex scenes I’ve ever read. It was the only story in the anthology that included romance/sex, everything else was pure urban fantasy action. Considering there are 13 stories in the collection, only three not-so-good ones isn’t bad!
I have fun participating in NaNoWriMo, and every once in a while my novels require a sex scene. They’re really difficult for me to get right. So I just read Be a Sex Writing Strumpet (great title!) by Stacia Kane, author of the dark and gritty Downside Ghosts urban fantasy series (which I love), who has also written erotic romance novels.
The ebook comprises a series of posts on the topic of writing sex scenes that she did on her blog in 2008. You can still read them for free on the blog evidently, but the convenience and ease of reading it all on my Kindle was definitely worth the $2.99 price.
Kane is funny, so aside from the helpful advice, it was just plain entertaining to read. A lot of what was included was common sense stuff, but sometimes you need someone to point out the obvious so you go, “Oh yeah!”
I thought it was a very good guide, especially in terms of learning how to properly set things up earlier in the novel because, as she points out, that’s the most important part to get right or the sex scene will flop no matter how good it is. Several of the chapters also suggest specific writing/reading exercises to learn how to apply the information in the topics covered.