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Book-Talk Monday: What Are You Reading (October 2012)

Monday, October 1, 2012

It’s the first Monday of the month. And we all know what that means . . .

.

  • What book(s) did you finish reading (or listening to) since last month’s update?

  • What are you currently reading and/or listening to?

  • What’s the next book on your To Be Read stack/list?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I have finished reading . . . absolutely nothing in the past month. I started the audiobook of Carol Cox’s Love in Disguise on September 3. I stopped listening to it a couple of weeks ago. Once I finish writing An Honest Heart, I may pull it up on my Kindle and finish reading it. There are two main reasons I haven’t finished listening to it, and they’re both pretty much equally weighted.

    First, I’m more than a third but not quite halfway through the book and the heroine has barely met the hero. Sure, it’s an intriguing plot—in the 1880s, Ellie goes undercover to Arizona for the Pinkerton Agency to try to solve a string of silver thefts. She’s going dressed as an older widow (her background is in the theater). But the young woman who’s already a trained agent ends up not going, so Ellie becomes both the niece and the aunt, trying to ingratiate herself to the small community so she can solve the crime. The town has potential to be a great setting with quirky secondary characters. The plot has potential to provide both gripping suspense and wonderful humor. The romance has the potential to be fraught with fabulous tension—after all, she can’t reveal her true identity to the hero. However, at nearly halfway through the book, the narrative (well-crafted though it may be) has pretty much all been centered around Ellie and her decision making. She lost her job. Oh, no, what will she do? She can be a detective. But they don’t want a young woman. Oh, no, what will she do? She can disguise herself as an older woman. She now has a job, but the other young woman who is supposed to travel with her and teach her the job now isn’t going with her. Oh, no, what will she do? She arrives in town and discovers the (male) mine owners aren’t going to pay much attention to (or talk to) an older woman. Oh, no, what will she do? The telegraph operator tells everyone she’s expecting her niece to arrive. Oh, no, what will she do? She decides to dress up as the niece as well as playing the aunt. The first time she goes out dressed as the niece, the shady marshal flirts with her. Oh, no, what will she do?

    Obviously, I’m a bit over-the-top with my description, but after a couple of weeks away from the book, that’s all I remember about it. Other than the fact the hero is a mine owner whose silver has been stolen, I don’t remember anything about him.

    The second reason I stopped listening to it is because of the narrator. She sounds like she’s thirteen years old and is reading this book to a five-year-old. In addition to having a very juvenile-sounding voice, she has a tendency to mispronounce words and put inflections in strange places in words and phrases/sentences. And I’m afraid that she may be part of the reason why I’m not connecting with Ellie—because her silly voice and inflections make me feel like the character is silly and immature.

    Now, I’m not saying that the book isn’t well written. Carol Cox has a wonderful, breezy writing style. However, when I pick up a romance novel, I have two major expectations: (1) the hero and his development will be given at least as much attention as the heroine—after all, I’m reading a romance novel to vicariously fall in love with him right along with the heroine; and (2) the hero and the heroine will meet and start building their relationship early in the story, preferably by the third chapter. As I tell writers in every workshop I teach on writing romances and in feedback in every contest I judge: the “meet” is what gets the plot of the story rolling. In a true romance novel, none of the rest of the subplots or characters matter except for how they tie into that developing relationship.

    So while the idea behind this book is interesting, and different for the Christian market, it’s just not drawing me in the way I want it to. I want more hero-heroine push-pull scenes and fewer “Oh, no, what will I do now?” plot devices.

32 Comments
  1. Monday, October 1, 2012 1:38 am

    Sounds like an intriguing book. (And I just realized I kept reading Carol Cox as Carl Cox. Saw Nemo the other day so Pixar must be on the brain.) I know lots of things affect how we like/connect with a story (Reading when you’re tired can make a book more boring than it is, etc. Always funny to hear beta readers say, “well, I don’t know why I put that note there, now that I reread it, it makes perfect sense”.). If you’d started by reading this, you might have enjoyed it more, though that won’t fix the hero not getting enough camera time.

    I recently read a self-published book called Treehugger (by Kea Alwang). Met the author at Star Wars Celebration VI at a writing panel and watched the best kind of marketing happen. During the course of the conversation, she mentioned she’d published and I asked about the book. She gave me a card centered around the sequel (which should be out in the next month or so). I downloaded the sample. When I was still thinking about it 3 days later, I bought the book and read it straight through. Now I’m spreading the word. It’s a great YA fantasy with shades of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Felt great to enjoy reading again.

    Currently, I’m beginning a book called Second Chances by Tess St John (a loaner from Booklending.com) We’ll see how that goes.

    In the meantime, I’ve begun to edit my own work again and that feels good. =)

    • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:57 am

      I did start reading it on my Kindle last night . . . and I found myself skimming, hoping to get to the “romance” part of the story. I hate that, because she’s such a good writer, but I picked this book because it was marketed as romance, so that’s what I was hoping for.

  2. Monday, October 1, 2012 3:58 am

    I read 3 books in Sept. All were LI books I cant remember the titles. I read caring for the caregiver which is about carers who care for a loved one, Im touring it tomorrow. I am currently reading Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter which I am really enjoying.
    next I am not sure I have a couple to review but am not reading like I would like to. Since mum passed away I haven’t been sleeping well at all some nights I am lucky to get 2 hours sleep. I am to tired at night to read and concentrate.

    • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:59 am

      Jenny, have you tried audio books? I know there aren’t a whole lot in the Christian market available in audio, but back when I couldn’t pick up a book to read, that’s how I did my “reading.”

      • ausjenny permalink
        Thursday, October 4, 2012 6:09 am

        I hadn’t thought of that I think you can use the kindle to hear books so may look into it. I am actually reading more this week. finished Trouble with cowboys and also Montana Love Letter by Charlotte Carter and onto a christmas novella. the sun has been out and have been reading in the sun.

    • Wednesday, October 3, 2012 7:13 pm

      Hoping things get better for you.
      I read Denise Hunter’s Nantucket series and really liked it. Have to look into this one.

      • ausjenny permalink
        Thursday, October 4, 2012 6:11 am

        Thanks I am sleeping a little more it takes awhile to get to sleep and I tend to wake but can get back to sleep and am now waking around 6 instead of 4.30 which is helpful. I feel I can cope better this week.

  3. Monday, October 1, 2012 7:57 am

    i gave ‘love in disguise’ a good review for the writing style you mentioned and for the unique plotting ( and of course, inclusion of pinkertons); but i agree with you… there are ways to set up a romance well. if anyone wants to read a christian love story with pinkerton infusion that has, like, the best kissing scene in the history of the CBA: read A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin. gahhh! no one does it like Austin :)

    i just finished ‘the girl in the glass’ by susan meissner and am reading ‘unending devotion’ by jody hedlund which, so far, doesn’t pack the same punch as her first two novels; but i am giving it some time.

    • Sylvia M. permalink
      Monday, October 1, 2012 11:40 am

      I’m glad you mentioned a Lynn Austin book. I’ve read one of her books and enjoyed her writing style and the characters. I was quite put out because we got about three kissing scenes between the heroine and some guy who was not the hero. The hero gets a mere mention of a kiss at the very end of the looong book with no description of the kiss whatsoever! I stayed up wayy late for that?!

      • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:03 am

        no one does it better than lynn austin when it comes to the genre she writes!!! i looove her! i have read every one of her books ( excepting a few of those set in biblical times ) and there is a reason she has won more christys than anyone else writing in the historical genre …. i am a huge fan of hers. every one of her books has such deft characterization and plotting and makes me think deeply about my own faith and spiritual journey. she advocates all sorts of women’s roles in Christ: from motherhood to suffragette. i really, really highly recommend her. moreover, she can be deceptively simple: you think you are reading a run-of-the-mill historical with a dash of romance whereas really you are ingrained with spiritual truths :)

      • Misty permalink
        Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:29 am

        Hi Sylvia. Which book are you referring to, with the nonexistent kiss? Just curious. I’ve read several Lynn Austin and usually like her, but sometimes feel they have an abrupt ending. A Proper Pursuit, mentioned by Rachel, is my favorite by far. Love the silly aunts, the spirited heroine, and the time & setting. The kiss between Silas and Violet is heart stopping!! :))

        • Wednesday, October 3, 2012 2:06 pm

          Misty: you are a kindred spirit! Silas and James McGrath ( of Fire by Night) are my two favourite Lynn Austin heroes; but she writes heroes that I immediately fall in love with…. Mack from Wonderland Creek included! That kiss is AWESOME ! Silas is awesome :) he makes me laugh! :) The other thing I enjoy about Lynn Austin’s work (there are so many things, I am a huge fan ) is that while she writes prolifically, all of her heroines are decidedly different. While they are joined thematically and by similar circumstances, I love all of them for different reasons…. and her heroes? Well, her heroes make me want to marry each and every one of them *sigh*

  4. Monday, October 1, 2012 8:53 am

    The last book I read was “I Am Forbidden” by Anouk Markovits. It is not a book i would call enjoyable because it is so intense. I was in the grip of it though, and considered it a good read.

    I am now reading “Bee Season” by Myla Goldberg and i love the spiritual aspects that are given to words and letters in the story. It makes me want to learn more about the practice of permutation as it is something I do when looking at signs or the three letters on license plates. The parents are deeply flawed and the children are trying to find their way. I realize this is a gross oversimplification, but you might want to read it yourself and it is no fun giving things like that away.

    My next book will either be “Life After Death” by Damien Echols or “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling. I am very familiar with Damien as a person as I have been following him as one of the “West Memphis Three” for many years, and I find him inspirational in his ability to keep the unyielding darkness that tried to surround him from doing so. I have a slue of books that I would like to read but don’t want to think about too many at once because it will become overwhelming to me.

    • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:00 am

      If you read Rowling’s book, you’ll have to check back in and let us know what you think about it. So far, I haven’t heard great things from people I know who are reading it. :-(

  5. Monday, October 1, 2012 11:01 am

    Last month, I read Nikki Arana’s The Next Target. Great book — kind of a cross-genre women’s fiction/suspense. I also read Mother of Pearl, Kellie Coates Gilbert’s debut novel. Excellent book. Kellie’s a great writer.

    I’ve just started Cathy Gohlke’s Band of Sisters. I rarely read historicals, but I was drawn in by Cathy’s comments about the book when I interviewed her for my blog. So far, really enjoying it!

    • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:01 am

      Band of Sisters is definitely on my radar!

  6. Ruth permalink
    Monday, October 1, 2012 11:17 am

    I really enjoyed Love in Disguise…it wasn’t perfect, sure, but it was very fresh for the CBA market. It is more of a historical adventure with a dash of romance than a true romance novel IMO…

    • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:04 am

      I think it’s all about expectations going in to a book . . . I was expecting a romance novel, because that’s how it was marketed—but that’s not what it is. It’s a historical adventure story with a romantic thread (which I haven’t gotten to yet and, on my kindle, I’m at 45% of the way through)—but even as far as the “adventure” portion of it goes, at 45% of the way through the book, she just picked up her first “clue” (a note dropped by a shady character she’s seen once before). If it’s going to be adventure/suspense, that should have happened much earlier, too.

      I guess my biggest problem with this book is that the first 40% of it is all setup. I’m hoping that now she’s found this “clue” (about which I have suspicions), at least the adventure/suspense part of the plot will get moving.

      • Ruth permalink
        Wednesday, October 3, 2012 7:41 am

        You’re right, it is all about expectations…funnily enough I got the impression it was marketed more as a historical adventure. :P

  7. Sylvia M. permalink
    Monday, October 1, 2012 12:00 pm

    This past month I finished listening to an unabridged version of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and an audio version of The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie. I read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (re-read), Beauty to Die For by Mindy Starns Clark and Kim Alexis, N or M? by Agatha Christie, Tomorrow’s Sun by Becky Melby, Mrs. McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie (re-read), Her Reluctant Bodyguard by Jennette Green, and Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie. I also listened to a BBC dramatised version of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. It’s not the book literally being read, so don’t know if that counts.

    Several books that I have started, but haven’t finished yet are Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond, Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund, Just Jane by Nancy Moser (re-read), and Central Park by Debra White Smith (re-read).

    Some really good Pinkerton Detective CBA books I have read are by Sara Mitchell. They are out of print now, but your library may have them. They are different because there is really no mystery, just suspense. We get viewpoints from the heroine, hero and villain, so we know what is going to happen. I usually hate books like that. Come on, let us be surprised! In this case the time period, characters and romance were so good that I didn’t mind so much. The covers leave alot to be desired and I know they could do a smashing job with them if a company like Revell would buy them and reprint.

    http://saramitchellbooks.com/shadowcatchers.html

    • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:05 am

      Those do sound interesting. I’ll have to see if my library system has them!

  8. Monday, October 1, 2012 12:47 pm

    I am reading Denied by Michael Rushnak. I am reading it as I exercise in the morning. It is very intriguing so I walk very fast and forget about looking at the clock. I am also reading Dead Wrong by Susan Steelman at night before I go to bed. Both are fast paced and exciting. God bless guys.

    Glenda Parker

    • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:06 am

      Glenda–
      Do you not have trouble falling asleep after reading something fast-paced and exciting? ;-)

  9. Monday, October 1, 2012 1:32 pm

    Oh boy, I’ve got a long list.

    I’ve read Enchanted by Alethea Kontiss, which I really enjoyed, The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry, which was meh, The Pirate Next Door by Jennifer Ashley, which I HATED, The Cardturner by Louis Sachar, which I loved, Curricle and Chase by Lizzie Church, which I alternately quite liked and really disliked, Witch and Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Chabronnet, which was trite and poorly written, Asenath by Anna Patricio, which strongly reminded me of mediocre fanfiction,Wild For You by Sophie Knightly, which I didn’t like at all, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, which I liked a lot more than I thought I would, Lord Fool to the Rescue by L.L. Muir, which was a complete waste of time, An Unlikely Alliance by Rachel Van Dyken, which was even worse, The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth, which was good, An Indiscreet Offer by Roberta Eckhart, which was incredibly boring…there’s probably more, but they escape me right now.

    I’ve just started reading Blackbringer by Laini Taylor. I’m not in far enough to tell what I think of it. After that, I’ll probably read My Dear Charlotte by Hazel Holt.

    • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:08 am

      Morgan,
      I’ve had the Amaranth Enchantment on my Kindle for a while now, and I never could generate the interest to even open it and read the first chapter. Louis Sachar is a great writer—I had to read Holes when I was in grad school, and I absolutely devoured it.

      Do you have a method of choosing which books to read, or is it whatever strikes your fancy at the moment?

      • Thursday, October 4, 2012 10:29 am

        For me, the first couple of chapters of the Amaranth Enchantment were the best…the rest of the book went rapidly downhill. I loved Holes, but the sequelish book (something about Armpit and a teenage pop star, but the title escapes me) and the Wayside School series were just okay. This one really blew me away.

        Well, when I go to the physical library to get books, then those get bumped up to the top because I’ll only have them for a limited time. Everything else is pretty much whatever I feel like. I do stay with one book until I’m done with it, though, or if I’m listening to an audiobook, I’ll do one audio and one visual at a time.

  10. Elaine Key permalink
    Monday, October 1, 2012 4:19 pm

    I finished, Smitten, by Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter. These four authors are also best friends. They collaborated on this book. It’s about four friends who are trying to save their beloved town from extinction after the lumber mill closes. They decide to capitalize on the town’s name, Smitten, and make it a honeymooners, tourist destination town. Of course the four friends meet with opposition from the men of the town and they also meet their own true loves in trying to save their town. The book will also be made into a movie for TV sometime in the future. Since I love the work of all four of these authors, it was a great joy to see it in one story. There is also a sequel coming out entitled, Secretly Smitten, in January I think.

    Right now I am reading, A Wandering Heart, by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer. This is the third book in the Angel Island series which is a spin off from the Cape Light series. If you haven’t read any of Thomas Kinkade’s novels, you can still read this one and you won’t be lost. A movie crew has descended upon the quiet little island known as Angel Island. The innkeeper, Liza, is very busy and also very thrilled with her new guests. The movie star, Charlotte Miller, almosts drowns in the Atlantic Ocean if it were not for the handsome fisherman, Colin Doyle. Now there seems to be an attraction between Charlotte and Colin, but how can a romance even begin between a movie star and a fisherman? Also, the couple who own the goat farm next to the inn desperately want a child but it’s not happening. If they go the invitro route, they will lose the farm. The people that live on Angel Island believe that angels guard the land and its people. If you are ever in need, an angel may appear to help you. Will God send His angels to help these people find what they are looking for?

    I was shocked and saddened about the death of Thomas Kinkade. These books are so good that I truly hope somehow Katherine Spencer can keep writing them. I don’t know about all the legalities of book publishing, but I would hate to see this series come to an end right now. Maybe someone in his family will take up the pen.

    • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:09 am

      I love small-town settings for books!

  11. Monday, October 1, 2012 6:40 pm

    I had conference smashed in last month and getting ready for it, so I didn’t do a whole lot of anything else.

    I started and finished Song of Scarabaeous and Children of Scarabaeous by Sara Creasy. Both excellent. My only complaint is he didn’t have a POV. But I still managed to fall for him and it was fun discovering him the way the heroine did. I will be reading more from her, as soon as they come out.

    I influenced for Crucible of War by Joan Hochstetler, and was so desperate for more of Carleton that I immediately read Native Son again. Then I devoured Walks Alone by Sandi Rog in a weekend. Couldn’t put it down. I also read Roseanna White’s next one, to check her costume stuff, but since it doesn’t release till January I’m not sure if it counts.

    I listened to An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott. It was just as amazing as I remembered it when I read it the first time. Started listening to Eight Cousins but haven’t finished it yet.

    Started Heart’s Safe Passage by Laurie Alice Eakes this morning, then after that it’ll be Trinity by Ronie Kendig, With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin. And Rosslyn Elliott’s new one whenever I remember to go get it. I buy hers in paper because of the AMAZING covers.

    • Sylvia M. permalink
      Monday, October 1, 2012 7:55 pm

      I read her first two and they were excellent pieces of historical fiction based on fact. I was very happy to hear that Fairer Than Morning won TWO Carol awards! It deserved them. I am looking forward to Lovelier Than Daylight very much!

      • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:04 am

        i just started ‘lovelier than daylight’, sylvia. got it through netgalley. VERY interesting :)

      • Tuesday, October 2, 2012 2:29 pm

        I was SO excited too! And I got to see her accept the awards.

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