Romancers Unite!

041208-Old-BooksThe great and bad thing about moving to a new city is discovering new stores.  I recently stopped by a used book store that I pass daily, just to browse and see what they had (okay, to buy books, let’s be honest, you can never have too many).  Despite being in a strip mall the store was clean, well organized and had that hushed anticipatory feeling that all great books stores have.  That feeling that at any second you are going to find a great new treasure.

As I was drooling over the first edition rare books they have, I was approached by the owner of the store.  We chatted briefly as he pulled out a signed edition of Frank Herbert’s autobiography (never too early to look for Christmas presents for my hubby) for me peruse.  Finishing up our conversation, I mentioned that it was my first time in the store and I asked where the romance section was.  With a curl of his lip, he informed me that occasionally they have one in the discount bin located out front but that they don’t have a section for that “type of book”. The Frank Herbert was quickly replaced in the locked case, he told me to let him know if I had any questions and quickly walked away.

I was a little shocked at my treatment but not really shocked, having been a romance reader since the age of 13, this is not the first time I have run into this attitude.  Obviously I left since he didn’t carry where the majority of my money is spent.  This started me thinking though, why is it that the romance genre is so looked down upon?

I am an English major, this means I have read ALOT of really boring books in addition to some great books.  Almost every professor I had at one time or another referred to romance novels as “brain candy” or something on par with that. Yet, we studied Pride and Prejudice which I consider one of the greatest romances ever written. I have read reviews of books by so called “book critics” that disparage romance authors as appealing to only housewives that are seeking to escape their own lives.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I am happy with my life, I am not a stay at home mom but I understand the hard work and frustration that is involved with staying home.  Yes, I get a little frustrated at times but who doesn’t have their trials?! Why is it that those who read romance novels are mocked but if a guy wants to watch a football game or go to an action movie to “unwind” this is accepted?  The romance genre is HUGE, look at Harlequin Publishing if you don’t believe me.  I don’t have an answer but I have decided to no longer apologize or justify my reading choices.  Come on, we all do it, we display the “good literature” in the living room where guests will see it and our favorite, dog-eared novels in the back room on a book case that most people never see.  It is not like we are reading “bodice rippers” as one friend jokingly referred to them. We read sweet romance novels, stories that have been popular for hundreds of years.  We are part of a proud history that our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers were part of.

A  movement to no longer disparage romance readers has started with the hugely successful Twilight series.  Yep people, it’s a romance novel and yet look at how big it is. Two movies already and four books.  I noticed at the book store that you can buy Twilight Sweetheart candies, how much bigger do you need to get than that?!

I challange all of you, my readers, to stand before the world and claim your genre with me.  No longer will we wait until someone bravely mentions an author before claiming we read them also.  Proudly display your favorite books where they can be seen and commented on (but out of the reach of sticky fingers).

Forest Born by Shannon Hale

photo_7226_20090705I recently read the fourth book in Shannon Hale’s incredible Books of Bayern series. I first read Shannon’s books back when she had just published her second book, Princess Academy. I had dealings with Shannon for some time and was very impressed with her. Forest Born, the fourth book in the series was great. I have to admit it had been awhile since I read the previous books so I reread River Secrets before starting Forest Born. I had forgotten how much I liked the character Razo. Razo’s insecurities about his own worth and not understanding why he was asked to accompany the group on the ambassador trip really hit home for me.  How often do we doubt our own worth or feel insignificant when compared with everyone else?

Forest Born is about Razo’s younger sister, Rin. I like Rin’s character, she is very impressed with the strong women in her life and only sees how strong they are now, not how they were before this point, which is how life is. I love how Rin can see some of each character in herself, including the protaganist but it is Rin’s choosing to be a strong good person that makes her that way.  Spending time with Enna, Isi and Dasha again is great and I loved seeing the three of them interact together.

I disliked how Rin seems to focus on one major event in her life so much and she keeps living through that moment again and again. I ended up feeling like we had reviewed what had happened before and I didn’t want to continue to relive that moment when so much other events were going on.

I was very surprised by the main protagonist, definitely not what who I was expecting. I love it when an author is able to surprise me as much as Shannon did in this book.

I would suggest that anyone wanting to read this book start with the first book in the series, The Goose Girl. You don’t have to read the previous books to understand this book because you get enough of the back story to understand what is going on but, I think the story is more enjoyable if you have experienced where all the main characters have come from and seen how they have come to this moment in time.

This book gets One because there is some brief light kissing.

[amazon-product alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″]1599901676[/amazon-product]

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

photo_6442_20090515

Upon first hearing of this book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, I figured it would either be an absolute riot or the worst book ever written.  I was correct, this book is a riot!  I giggled through the whole thing.  I am a huge Pride and Prejudice fan. I have lost count of the number of times I have read the book and I own three different versions of the movie.  Starting the book, I was expecting an exact replica of the original story with zombies added but, was surprised with the first conversation that the author updated the language.  I have to admit this threw me for a minute and I had to stop and think about if I really wanted to finish the book.  (I know I shouldn’t start a book with preconceived notions but when it comes to this book, I didn’t even realize I had done it until I started the book.) I pressed on and immediately started giggling.  The author went far beyond just the potty-humor I was expecting.  The characters refer to the zombies as “unmentionables”, showing the author’s keen grasp of English Society during this time.

I will admit there was a moment where I felt like it was Pride and Prejudice meets Indiana Jones but, that scene aside,the warrior Elizabeth was fantastic, adding another layer of strength to this already complex character.

The author followed the themes and plot of the original story but he did diverge from the original in the consequences of the protagonists, such as Wickham and Liddia.  I admit, I loved the consequences.  I think it is the bloodthirsty streak in me but it seemed much more fitting than the original’s just sending them off to the North country.

I give this book a rating of three, based on the gore and nothing else.[amazon-product]1594743347[/amazon-product]

Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels

photo_6433_20090515 I thought I would post about a free ebook available right now.  Harlequin Publishing is celebrating it’s 60th Anniversary and, in honor of that, is giving away 16 books online.  There is no sign up required, no fees, they are just giving the books away.  If you have a Kindle, you can also find all the free ebooks in the Kindle store. The website to get the free ebooks is here. Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels is an interesting mystery.  I felt bad and sympathetic for both main characters, good character development and believable plot line. I liked how there were so many possible suspects and it was hard to guess who did it but there were some clues, looking back.  I have to admit I was disappointed that Jordan didn’t do it because he was just an obnoxious brother and I wanted him to be the bad guy (sorry for the spoiler but I couldn’t help myself).   Reference to sex and some graphic kissing but not full on sex scene, so I give it a four rating.

[amazon-product alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″]037322897X[/amazon-product]