Tuesday, October 1, 2013

BOL Review: The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

Dinah’s world is about to fall apart—her independent coffee shop is failing, and her nemesis wants to buy it out from under her; her overly coddled twin sons are having a hard time adjusting to a new school; and, worst of all, her 17-year-old daughter, Morgan, has just been caught half-undressed in her math teacher’s car. Rain, the teacher’s wife, is watching her life go down the tubes as well—after years of struggling, she is finally pregnant, but, instead of being overjoyed, she’s trying to hide her delicate condition from the scornful public as she accompanies her husband to criminal court. To make matters worse for both families, Morgan is convinced he’s not just using her for sex, that this is true love... Read the rest of the review at Booklist Online!

I. Can't. Read.

I have 4 piles of books next to my bed, a total of 70 books. There are an additional 30+ books on my Kindle waiting to be opened. I have a running "to-read" list on a Google Doc, that now numbers 105 (thankfully, some of those are also part of the physical pile or on the Kindle, but probably less than 20). I have two authors out there who are probably really annoyed with me because they sent me copies of their books weeks (months?) ago and I just haven't had the chance to look at them yet.

The last three books I've read have been for work reviews, and I even have one right now that is painfully overdue (don't tell the boss).

I'm in a reading rut. A complete stand-still. It's like a government shutdown on my brain. And I don't know why! Well, I sort of know why. I'm stressed at home right now, I'm over-tired, I'm doing too much in too little time. But I just don't have any motivation right now. Every book in the pile is a good one (believe me, I weeded an additional 30 of them out last month!), each one is something I really, really want to read. But I just can't muster up the initiative to crack one open. Instead, I check Facebook all evening. Or slog through emails. Or play this ridiculous Nemo game on Kindle. I know full well I am wasting time, but I peek over at the pile of books and I hang my head in shame.

When I was commuting by train for work, I used to read 3-4 books a week. The fact that I read ONE SINGLE BOOK ALL SUMMER for fun is killing me. And it was a great book! Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. Couldn't put it down! Loved every page of it! Couldn't wait to talk to someone about it! I really thought that would help me get my reading mojo back, but nope. That was 2 months ago.

So I need advice. Or just some sympathy. I'm not looking for recommendations (hello, did you not read that I already have too many books to catch up on??), but if you've been in a reading rut, can you tell me how you broke out of it? Or just reassure me that eventually I'll get back into the swing of things?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mandatory Release by Jess Riley

As you probably know, I'm a big champion of Jess Riley. I love books where I can relate to the characters and the story, and this woman knows how to write 'em that way.

Her latest novel, Mandatory Release is available now in paperback and Kindle (etc.).  From the Booklist review:

Drew is nursing a broken heart (the reasons why are left tantalizingly undisclosed until the end) and isn’t particularly thrilled with her life circumstances. She’s moved back home to not only live with her parents but also start a new job as a special education teacher in the same facility in which her mother works, the local prison. Graham, a social worker at the prison, had a big crush on Drew in high school but never acted on it. When Drew returns to their hometown, he finds himself drawn to her once more, but something is holding him back—the fact that he’s in a wheelchair, having been permanently injured in a car accident. They rekindle their friendship while navigating their own messy dating lives (Drew’s attracted to a guard who is ten years her junior; Graham doesn’t tell his blind dates he’s in a wheelchair until they meet in person), against the fascinating backdrop of a medium-security prison (Riley taught in a prison herself.) This funny, realistic look at modern love is perfect for women’s fiction fans.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Endurance of Women's Fiction

There is some truth to the notion that Women's Fiction is ephemeral - especially "contemporary" women's fiction. (I would say though that applies to contemporary fiction in general - things just don't always age well when they are grounded in a certain time period.) Chick lit in particular gets hit hard in this way, because it revolves so much around fashion, and trends, and name-dropping, etc.

Historical women's fiction however, tends to age nicely. Case in point - the recent Dusty Book review on Shelf Renewal of Jacqueline Briskin's The Naked Heart.

In The Naked Heart, bestselling author Briskin crafts a story of war, revenge, friendship, and love. Gilberte and Anne are best friends torn apart by the Nazis in World War I. Aristocratic Gilberte is uncovered as a collaborator while Anne gets to run off into the sunset with Gilberte’s cousin. Years later they meet again, and Gilberte is hell-bent on revenge.  Secrets from the past will get you every time…

You can read the full mini-review here, at Shelf Renewal

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shelf Renewal Cross-Promotion

I've been mentioning recently that the March 15 issue of Booklist has the Women's Fiction Spotlight, and I realized I should also note that I am also doing a Women's Fiction theme on one of the Booklist blogs, Shelf Renewal.

For the next 2 weeks, I'll be posting lists like "With Friends Like These, Watch Your Men," and making note of what we call "Dusty Books" (a loving tribute to library books that may be languishing on the shelf), such as today's post featuring Robin Gold's Perfectly True Tales of a Perfect Size 12.

So go and check out Shelf Renewal!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Booklist March 15 Issue: Women's Fiction SPOTLIGHT

I am very pleased to announce that the March 15 issue of Booklist contains the Women's Fiction Spotlight!
This means there are feature articles devoted to Women's Fiction (I'll share one below!) as well as new reviews of nearly 20 new Women's Fiction titles.

If you are not a subscriber to Booklist, you can view some of the content online for free. You can also check with your local library (many public libraries have subscriptions to Booklist, and if they do not have a copy out for the public, they will usually be glad to let you read the staff copy in-house, at least!).

My favorite feature article from this issue is "Rebecca's Rules". Check it out at: .

Friday, March 1, 2013

BOL Review: Market Street by Anita Hughes

Cassie Blake is the heiress to San Francisco’s most elite department store, Fenton’s. But instead of flaunting her family’s success, she prefers the simplicity of her life volunteering, and showing off her green thumb, at a local community garden, and taking care of her handsome professor husband, Aidan. But in just a blink of an eye, everything changes and the simple life she cherished is coming apart at the seams. After learning about her husband’s affair with one of the students in his ethics class, she moves out and stays in her rich best friend’s mansion, where she needs to decide...Read the rest of the review at Booklist Online.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Women's Fiction Spotlight Issue!

Great news - the March 1 issue of Booklist is going to have a Women's Fiction spotlight! I'm really excited by this, not least of all because I contributed the 3 feature articles to the issue spotlight: "Rebecca's Rules: Defining Women's Fiction"; "Top 10 Women's Fiction: 2012"; and "Benchmark Women's Fiction Authors".

I'll post links to the features here on the blog once they are live and ready to go, beginning March 15th.  In addition, this encourages me to post more links to Booklist reviews of Women's Fiction.  So far, I've just been posting links to my own reviews, but I think it's time to start posting previews of other Booklist reviews.  Yay!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

All the Lonely People by Jess Riley

I've been a huge fan of Jess Riley since her first novel, Driving Sideways made me laugh out loud. Come on, what Wisconsin girl wouldn't love a book where one of the characters sings the Menards jingle?!?! She does it again in All the Lonely People by referencing the Hamm's beer commercials.  (I also really, really dig her politics. I'm fairly certain if we ever met, we'd be besties in no time.)

As an "expert" on women's fiction, one of the things I talk about in my books and in the programs I present to librarians is the fact that the major appeal factor in women's fiction is a sense of recognition. When a reader picks up a women’s fiction novel, she is looking for a sense of recognition - feeling as though they are that character, they know that character, or they understand just what that character is going through. From moments of sorrow to joyful celebrations to “thank goodness that never happened to me” – it’s pleasurable and comforting to escape into a story that you can connect with. 

Riley accomplishes this in spades. Her characters are realistic, the way they talk and the things they talk about are true to life, and the situations they find themselves in could happen to just about anyone.  For me personally, I loved this story because it was hard for me to believe that Riley hasn't met one of my brothers and based the character Clint on him. I also just about died when Jaime turns to her husband (after he supports her on a crazy decision) and says "You're a good man, Charlie Brown".  I say that on a regular basis to my husband and I wouldn't have guessed that anyone else would make that inside joke. If she happens to have characters in her next book flap their hands to "shoo the children"  when "Fly Like an Eagle" by the Steve Miller Band comes on the car radio, then I'll know for sure she is somehow stalking my every move for writing fodder.

I started following Riley's blog after discovering Driving Sideways, and was dismayed when she announced a few years ago that her second novel wasn't optioned by her publisher. She was undeterred though, and eventually decided to publish it as an e-book (as well as print on demand) via CreateSpace on Amazon. (Go! Get it now! You won't be sorry!)

Here's the "official" review I wrote for work.  I'm glad I have this outlet to gush more informally.

When her mother dies of cancer, Jaime tries to keep her family intact. Trouble is, they sure put the funk in dysfunctional—her brother is a self-centered blowhard; her sister is an ice queen who has distanced herself emotionally and physically; and they haven’t seen their father since he left the family when they were just kids. Jaime’s husband, Erik, doesn’t have it much better; his father is sitting in a nursing home and doesn’t know who Erik is. After a disastrous Thanksgiving dinner, Jaime decides to advertise on Craigslist for a new family for the holidays. She gets... (read the rest of the review for free at Booklist Online)