An Extremely Premature Book Review

(Bear with me.)

So, I was never able to get into Outlander. It was so boring that I never got to the time travel stuff. I couldn’t even figure out that’s where it was going. I had to look it up on wikipedia, in an effort to figure out why the hell everyone else I knew had enjoyed the damn thing. And seriously, my response was pure incredulity.

All of that nothing was leading up to time travel?!?!?!

It was with some apprehension that I picked up Larissa Brown’s Beautiful Wreck, another historic/time traveling sci-fi romance novel. I am acquainted with the author, who is also a knitwear designer. I am friendly with her publisher. The reviews of the book are outstanding across the board (well, nearly across the board; there are two negative reviews on Amazon that appear to be written by people who didn’t finish reading the book, which I consider cheating).

I have read something like 1% of the book. There hasn’t been any time travel yet. But I am SO IN LOVE WITH IT. Every word flows so perfectly that it is hard to believe I am reading science-fiction. The world is nothing like mine, and I understand it perfectly but haven’t even noticed it being described.

With Outlander, I lost interest before the main plot device. With Beautiful Wreck, I don’t even care if we ever get to the main plot device. I am just along for the ride.

Outrage of the Day: Awesome, Sexist T-Shirt

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Isn’t this shirt amazing? And look, there are three* lady writers on it! Three out of 26!

Hey, wait a minute.

Not only are there at least as many great writers who are female as there are who are male, but like. Women invented the novel, and also science fiction. Probably other genres, too.

This would be my favorite shirt ever if the creator had expanded the concept from his own personal favorite authors to a diverse mix of authors of interest to most readers.

And, like. Did he mean Thomas Jefferson? Because if he is suggesting that The Declaration of Independence is more important to literature than We Have Always Lived In The Castle, then I would like to resign from the human race.

Here is a draft of an all lady version:

Jane Austen. Judy Bloom. Willa Cather. Kate DiCamillo. Laura Esquivel. Rosario Ferre. Cristina Garcia. S.E. Hinton. Laura Ingalls. Shirley Jackson. M.M. Kaye. Madeline L’Engle. Carson McCullers. E. Nesbit. Joyce Carol Oates. Dorothy Parker. Q. Rainbow Rowell. Nova Ren Suma. Amy Tan. U. Cynthia Voigt. Elizabeth Wein. X. Y. Sara Zarr.

Obviously still a few to fill in. I’ve never read Quindlen or Xi. And yes, putting Laura Ingalls Wilder under I is totally cheating.

*Dickinson, Quindlen, and Xi, as best I can guess.

Cover Reveal: Face Time

My friend Stephanie has another book coming out! I suspect she is some sort of robot. This one is contemporary adult romance (I guess? I don’t know genres), along the lines of what we were calling chick lit a few years ago but with a twist: it’s told from both points of view. As with Removed and Released, I read an early version of the manuscript. I know a few major changes have been made and I can’t wait to read the final book! I feel pretty certain it will be just as sexy as the version I read. ;)

Face Time

Look, I’ll be honest. I don’t really like people on my book covers. But this one is so clever–it conveys exactly what the book is about, and the man ‘playing’ Lee is so cute! And I’m crazy about the skyline graphic at the top.

Want to know more? How about the book’s official blurb?

After the best first date ever, Lee thought Laura was funny, intelligent, and impulsive; a whirlwind of bright laughter and happiness. Laura loved Lee’s sweet smile and the way he expertly filled in every awkward pause. He held her hand and then pulled her in for the most perfect kiss she’s had in years. What could possibly be wrong? Just the 7000 miles that separates them the next day.

Even though Lee has gone home to Seoul, Laura can’t stop thinking about him. What starts as an innocent text thanking him for their dinner date becomes something much more: someone either of them can’t live without. But Laura’s got a live-in mother going through a midlife crisis, and Lee’s stressful traveling schedule means they’ll be apart for some time. Life, family, and a complicated past also get in the way, and they’re both going to need actual face time to figure it out.

Told from both Lee and Laura’s point of view, FACE TIME is a funny, romantic, modern-day story about two people who connect across the world.

You can find Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) on Goodreads.

And I bet you’d like a give-away. Enter below to win:
- 10$ amazon gift card
- e-copies of both Removed (Nogiku #1) and Released (Nogiku #2) –mobi or epub file
- e-ARC of Face Time (available March 2014) – mobi or epub file

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Blog Tour: Nogiku Series by S.J.Pajonas

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Hey! I am one of today’s stops on my friend Stephanie’s blog tour! Yay!

I signed up to write a review of the first two books in the Nogiku series, Removed and Released, and I’m going to–but it’s not going to be a very traditional review. Here’s the thing: I’ve read these books at least 2.5 times each, through various incarnations. I can’t really write a proper review. But I can tell you what I love about them.

Stephanie can build a world like almost no one else.

In any genre, but especially dystopic future-sci-fi-samurai-I don’t even know what-fiction, world is as important as any character in the book. The world is a character in these books. This short excerpt is very nicely representative of the incredible skill with which big ideas are related in simple, quick brush strokes:

Nishikyō itself is mostly devoid of charm and uniqueness, except for a few temples and theaters, but each building’s owner takes care to set their place apart from the blandness around it. It’s not surprising I would have walked past this place had Jiro not led me directly here. Its exterior is austere, simple.
Inside, they must have knocked out all of the existing structure and rebuilt it entirely from the floor up. The walls are papered a lovely shade of cream and lit softly from above. Real wood supports and beams are shellacked a deep, dark coffee brown. I place my hand on one, and it’s warm and organic. Nothing like the cool and precise composite material we use around the city to mimic the real thing.
The genkan has an area of cubbies for shoes and sets of washed slippers for guests. It’s cool in here as I thought it would be, but comfortable. Okiyas call private contractors to bring in more cooling units so the geisha can entertain in their silk kimono and not overheat. It’s something they can easily afford in this business.
A doorway opens off to the right and a young woman dressed in a lovely pink and green kimono comes out to greet us.
“Irasshaimase, Itō-sama! You’re expected. I hope you’re well.”
“I am, Shichi-san, and you?”
“I am well, thank you.”
“Shichi-san, this is another family guest, Sanaa.” He gestures to me, and I stand absolutely still. I’ve never been to an okiya and am not sure how polite or formal I’m supposed to be. When Jiro sees my frozen state, he puts his hand on the small of my back. He probably thinks this is going to have a calming effect on me, but now I’m fluttery instead.

Oops, a little romance sneaked in there. Oh yeah, these books are dead sexy. By the way.

nogiku

Sexy-looking, too. Stephanie designed and did the layout for the books herself. The chapter headings are so gorgeous you will swoon.

She employs one of my favorite literary tricks, making her books semi-bilingual by introducing Japanese words and phrases in context (italicizing the first use) and then using them without further explanation throughout. A glossary is included at the end of the book, but the language is incorporated so well that you probably won’t need to reference it more than once or twice.

Steph’s writing background and training was in screenplays, and if you’ve read any screenplays (I’ve, uh, read a lot) you can tell in the way her plots unfold. She knows what she’s doing!

The stories unfold slowly in places, and the narrator, Sanaa, is difficult for me to relate to; she is frank and direct about her emotions, the writing walking the line of showing and telling, so that I sometimes feel a bit, er, removed from her. That said, while I don’t relate to her I am a bit in love with her, and all the other characters (especially Mark Sakai).

Warning: reading these books will make you desperately crave Japanese food and/or culture. Like wow.

Information about the books, along with Stephanie’s bio and a giveaway, below the cut.

Continue reading

Cover Reveal: RELEASED by S. J. Pajonas

I’m not going to tease this out.

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WOW.

So, my friend Stephanie writes books. (Actually, I have more than one friend named Stephanie who writes books. But we’ll just talk about the one today.) She is an author-publisher and created her own press to publish the Nogitu series, new adult sci-fi with some romance and a ton of Japanese culture. The first book, REMOVED, is my current read. I read earlier versions of it and RELEASED and I tell you, this world is addicting.

Here’s the official blurb, but BEWARE! It contains massive spoilers for REMOVED.

Left in the desert to recuperate from her injuries, Sanaa Itami paces the floors and contemplates her mistakes. She trusted too easily, and now people she loved are dead, killed at the hands of men coming to assassinate her. Sanaa feels beaten, but life awaits her at home. While Nishikyō recovers from the earthquake, negotiations for Sanaa’s eventual rule on Yūsei continue. New allies must be made, new friendships brokered, new skills acquired — at all costs.

Life at the top of the chain is complicated and lonely, though. With relations in Sakai clan rocky and uncertain, Sanaa must learn to trust others again more than she’s willing. Who amongst the clans is left holding a grudge? And will the new family Sanaa has found with Jiro support or betray her?

From Nishikyō to Yūsei, RELEASED, Book TWO of the Nogiku Series, is the second book in a captivating New Adult post-apocalyptic romance series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them in the future.

WOW AGAIN, amirite?

So, listen. You want this book. You do. Trust me.

Queue it on Goodreads

Visit http://www.spajonas.com for more information.

Read the first book in The Nogiku Series, REMOVED:
Amazon (Paperback)
Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

AND! You can win a copy of REMOVED (Kindle or e-pub) along with a $10 Amazon gift card. (Hint: you will be able to buy RELEASED with it when it’s, um, released. If you want to. You can also buy something else. No judgment.)

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Hey, can you google that for me?

Internet, I need you to do me a favor. It’s a little one, and I’ll be super-grateful.

You know how Mary goes to Misselthwaite Manor, and it’s wintertime, and everything is grey? And then the spring comes and the moors come to life and it’s all a big magical metaphor? (And then the book becomes about Colin instead of Mary and as a kid I didn’t mind but when I re-read it more recently it made me really angry?)

So, I have a picture in my head of what the moors look like. It’s been there since I was about five. And I’ve seen pictures since then of what the moors look like in spring and summer (omg heather is so pretty). But none of what they look like in the wintertime when they are grey and lifeless.

My google-fu is weak today and I can’t find a good one. I know some of you are in northern England, or have been there, or are good at finding things on the internet. Can you help?

Dany Noir

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(Confused? Check out the back cover of Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma.)

We watched season one of Game of Thrones on DVD, and a couple episodes of season two through Totally Legitimate Means*, but haven’t continued watching due to inconvenience (watching ont he computer sucks, HBO Go doesn’t play on our PS3). I enjoy the series and would like to eventually catch up. I read the first book but the thought of more characters being introduced (and not having an actor’s face to bring to mind to help me keep them straight) was too daunting so I left it there.

So a few weeks ago when the internet went nuts over Daenerys doing “something badass,” I got nervous. Because I HATE SPOILERS (there is one coming up for season/book one in two sentences). First I checked with Will, because he has read the entire series to date. Surely her act of badassery could not be more impressive than climbing onto a funeral pyre to birth motherfucking DRAGONS? Yes, he told me, it really could.

Oh dear.

So I did the only reasonable thing: I read the Dany chapters of books two and three. Just the Dany chapters. (I also let Will tell me everything that happens to all the other characters, because I only really give a damn about her.) Obviously my definition of reasonable may be different than yours.

*illegitimate, shady means.

Obsessions

At any given time in my life, I have been obsessed with something or another. I mean, remember the time I met all of my friends on a Buffy fan board? Still friends with a lot of them. (Still grieving one of them.) Still no idea how to talk to people who don’t like Buffy.

My current obsession? Pride & Prejudice.

History:

  1. Started reading in 1995, age 17. Haaaaaaaaated. Suffered until I could suffer no more.
  2. 16 years later, downloaded on Kindle and read the whole thing in less than a month (which is, sadly, very fast for me these days given all of my distractions).
  3. Realized the irony of disliking the novel based on first impressions, but loving it later.
  4. Immediately watched the two more recent* BBC mini-series (1980 and 1995) and the Keira Knightley movie.
  5. Submitted a pattern idea to Jane Austen Knits, which was accepted and is in the Fall 2012 issue.
  6. Tried to read Sense and Sensibility, got about 85% in and stalled, finally watched the movie before going back and finishing the novel.
  7. Tried to read Emma but couldn’t stand reading about so many insufferable asses.
  8. Started Persuasion but set it aside recently because…
  9. Watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in three big chunks; realized I was all caught up.
  10. Panicked.
  11. Watched 1940 film with Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier. Had a fit over how stunningly attractive Olivier is.
  12. Had a fit over how stunningly attractive Olivier is.
  13. Had a fit over how stunningly attractive Olivier is.
  14. Had a fit over how stunningly attractive Olivier is.
  15. Had a fit over how stunningly attractive Olivier is.
  16. Started re-reading Pride & Prejudice.

Please note that #s 10-16 all happened in the last 24 hours.

Because I am obsessed, here are some incomplete, highly subjective, and sometimes controversial rankings.

Darcys, by attractiveness:

  1. Lawerence Olivier
  2. Colin Firth
  3. everyone else

Best Darcys (by non-physical resemblance to character):

  1. (tie) Matthew MacFadyen, Lawrence Olivier
  2. Daniel Vincent**
  3. Colin Firth

Worst Darcy:

  1. David Rintoul

Ugh, could he have been any more stiff? Please consult with Mr. Vincent for lessons on acting stiff while still acting. (This may well have been the director’s fault.)

Best Elizabeths:

  1. (tie) Greer Garson, Keira Knightley
  2. um, were there other good Lizzys? I know Jennifer Ehle gets a lot of love and she is, indeed, lovely, but Eliza she is not.

*I did not know until this morning that there was a 1952 series with PETER FUCKING CUSHING as Darcy. Obviously my life will remain sad and incomplete until I find it.
**I was not sure whether to include him, as I think modern adaptations are a different animal altogether, but he is in fact NEARLY IDENTICAL to book Darcy. LBD Lizzie, however, is very different and therefore not included.

Please join me next time for a look at the various film Rochesters and a rant on how Jane Eyre is the second-worst love story of all time.

The Right & The Real

I first met Joelle before her first book, Restoring Harmony, came out. Our mutual friend Nova introduced us. Joelle is a terrific person–truly, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met–and also happens to be a really great writer.

Her new book, The Right & the Real, comes out on April 26 (that’s in one week!) and today is Joelle’s 44th birthday and so she’s released the book trailer today!

I happen to have already read the book, and I think you’ll enjoy it if you like resourceful teens, a little drama, and some high stakes.

Oh, SIGH.

Attention New York Times: The A still stands for Adult.

Nova linked to this really dumb editorial and my initial reaction was anger, because what a fucking twat.

But now I’m realizing that in addition to being wrong because he’s a twat, and in addition to being wrong because he is just wrong, Joel Stein is wrong because his logic is severely flawed.

We’re all children before we’re adults. We all start reading as children. If anything, shouldn’t we have to work our way through the previous 3,000 years of fiction written for children before we are allowed to move on to adult fiction?

In your face, twat.