Friday, February 20, 2009

More good books!

I've been on a reading binge lately, maybe because of our unusually rainy, snowy, cold weather. Normally I read a lot in the summer months. Most of my friends read more in the winter because of bad weather, but for those of us living in the desert it seems to be the opposite. In the summer we stay inside in the air-conditioning. At least that's when I read and write like a demon. So what possesed me to start reading every day? Shrugs. I'm writing well, too, so it can't be writing avoidance raising its ugly head. I'm not sure, but here are three books that were really well written, lots of fun, and that I highly recommend to my romance reading buddies:

Susan Wiggs, Fireside. This was fabulous. I'd read all of the others in her Lakeshore Chronicles. Not that you have to read them in order, they're all stand alones, but I do recall the hero being mentioned in an earlier book and thought at the time he was an excellent minor character. So Bo Crutcher, baseball player, finally gets his story and it's a great one too. Bo has to be the best hero I've read in quite a while. To say I adored him is an understatement. I totally got him. I wanted to know him. How much better for a writer to achieve that with one of their characters, eh?

Barbara O'Neal, The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Loved this book. There was a richness, a sensual feel to this story, and it came from not only the recipes and the restaurant background, but from the beautifully written characters. I just wanted to reach out and touch them. Wonderful people and a great story on friendships and family.

Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, Lani Diane Rich, Dogs and Goddesses. Wow! What can I say? This is yet another collaboration of Jenny Crusie's and I'm a big time fan of anything she writes. In fact on her forums we have a joke that even her shopping lists are interesting. She just has a way with words. So, to combine Jenny's writing skills with those of Anne (I loved her Ice series) and Lani (the last one I read of Lani's was, Wish You Were Here, set in Idaho, another terrific book) was for me a complete feast. It was more than a three course dinner. On the surface this story is light and fun, a celebration of three women. They become friends, discover they are ancient goddesses with dogs who can talk, and end up finding their soul mates and having lots of sex. : ) The thing that resonated with me was the amount of research these authors did, yet it didn't show. They kept their story contemporary and fun, yet created the history and made it believable. That's world building folks, and they did it with a deft hand.

Monday, February 02, 2009

What are you reading?

I've been doing a lot of reading in the past month. Some for research and some for pure pleasure. I recieve ARC's from a large publishing house, those are advanced reader copies and are bound books with the cover artwork but get another pass before final printing.

The story I just finished, Very Valentine, by Adriana Trigiani, was absolutely fabulous. The cover artwork alone made me feel good. So rich, so colorful. If I'd seen this in a bookstore it would have called to me, just like the little red high heels with the black bow that waved to me from a store window in Rome a few years ago. And yes, I bought them. : )

I found Very Valentine, which by the way comes out this month, to be as strong in character and description and content, as its beautiful cover. The characters, mostly Italian, are vibrant and colorful and very real. I knew them, and I'm not Italian. There was the right mix of humor, crazy family dynamics, romance, and armchair travel. Sigh. Now I want a trip to both NYC and Tuscany.

Ms. Trigiani does a great job with setting, incorporating it as a sensual character. She does the same with the cooking scenes, bringing in food aromas and mouthwatering tastes, and the texture of leathers and materials used in the making of shoes. Her love scenes are deftly written without explicit sex scenes, romance is always at the core. One of the things that resounded with me though, were her characters, so big, so full of life they almost leaped off the page. The heroine's story revolved around her grandmother's custom shoe shop in NYC. Ms. Trigiani's grandfather had owned a shoe shop in Minnesota in the 1930's. The things I learned about making shoes will stay with me for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed learning something that is obviously dear to the author's heart. And that's what makes this story so wonderful, it has heart at its center.

So, what are you reading?