It’s Friday, and I’m not Mary Jo! Sorry ‘bout dat. Mary Jo is out snorkeling, or at least lounging beachside, in the sunny Caribbean, while I’m stuck in chilly St. Louis taking her place. But never fear, Pat Rice is here, and we’re gonna play!
All right, let’s slap on some suntan lotion, snuggle down in our beach chairs, and signal the waiter to bring us our favorite daiquiris. I don’t care if you’re reading this with your breakfast, we’re having daiquris this morning. Call it your breakfast fruit. Now adjust your umbrella, admire the peaceful waves, and let’s talk books.
I know I just blogged on historical politics, but there’s nothing worse than publishing politics, so I’ll warn you now, that rather than start any wars today, I’m on my best behavior. I’m only talking good books. The rest of y’all can do as you please.
My memory isn’t strong enough to come up with best all-time favorites unless you want to repeat discussions of JANE EYRE and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. And I’ve promised to be good so I won’t wallop GONE WITH THE WIND. So what I choose to do on this blissful sunny day with daiquiri in hand is to discuss recent reads, since they’re conveniently stacked on the table beside me, and I won’t get charged with favoritism by choosing one book over another. Of course, this also means you’re stuck with my current reading material which isn’t necessarily historical or romance, but that’s life.
Let’s start with Deb Smith’s CROSSROADS CAFÉ.(www.deborah–smith.com) I adore Deb’s Southern women’s fiction style. I’ve lived in various areas of the south most of my life, and I’m well accustomed to tales starting out “Y’all know that old-timey barn down by the Rooster Café?” and proceeding from there in lovingly detailed description. You sip your iced tea, wave away the mosquitoes, and sink into another time and place. Deb can do this even when she’s talking about a spoiled movie star whose way of life is literally brought to a screeching halt and a Yankee who is waiting for a good excuse to off himself. And she can do it with a down-home sense of humor and pragmatism that shines like jewels throughout the book. Despite the subject matter, this really is a feel-good romance with a wonderful, uplifting ending. Savor, and don’t get too sunburned while you’re devouring the pages.
The other book sitting on my table waiting to be filed in my library is Sharon Shinn’s DARK MOON DEFENDER,(her site hasn’t been recently updated but here it is: www.sharonshinn.net) the latest in her Twelve Houses series. It isn’t necessary to read them in order, but it’s more fun simply because her characters are so marvelous that you’ll want to get to know them in full detail. This one is hardcover, the older ones are probably out in softcover, and the library ought to have them. Remind me some time to have a discussion on how writers get paid, and why British libraries pay authors, but today is for lounging about being lazy and not having complex discussions. Just let it be said that when you find a favorite author, buy their books so publishers will keep publishing them.
The hero of DARK MOON DEFENDER is Justin, an all-around military jock who enjoys being tougher than everybody. He doesn’t need anyone. Women are soft and useless—except for his few female companions, and they’ve grown on him lately. And talk about politics! Shinn develops entire worlds, including complex hierarchies with intrigue and corruption, that often reflect current events in strange and wonderful ways. And the heroine is innocently dropped right in the middle of it—into Shinn’s equivalent of a nunnery. This world has psychic magic, but the nunnery scorns it and Justin’s mates use it, so the conflict starts right there. Watching this tough man succumb to a seemingly soft woman who sets him on his head when she turns out—in her own steadfast manner—to be even tougher than his mates is simply a joy to behold.
And you’ll notice I talk about characters and not plot. Sorry, but that’s how I approach my own books. I adore reading about people. The plot is there just to see how the characters deal with it and learn from it. So even if both of these books have lots of plot and action, they’re steeped thoroughly in character. And good writing. Writing that sings. Which is why they’re still sitting here, so I can flip back to certains scenes and admire their construction.
So, all this talking has made me thirsty, and I need to refill my glass. Tell me what you’re reading, good, bad, or indifferent. And tell me WHY you like or dislike it. That’s the really fun part. I want to know what our readers are looking for in a book.
Oh, and if you want to comment on what I’m currently writing, I just posted a couple of blogs at www.patriciarice.blogspot.com where readers get to tell me if I’m right, wrong, or just bad. Later, I’ll post a poll on my website but I don’t want to work any harder today!