Recent Reading

I continue to buy books faster than I can read them (that’s material for another post), but I’ve managed to finish a few in the last month or so.  About ten days ago my ancient air conditioning system died, resulting in an unexpected day off (and a very large replacement bill).  While men crawled around my attic with power tools, I sat on the couch and read Sally Bedell Smith’s Elizabeth the Queen, a fascinating and thoroughly readable book.  I finished it with a new respect for the quiet, dedicated and very competent way Elizabeth II has played the hand she was dealt, and more than a glimpse of the woman under the crown.

Also in non-fiction, I enjoyed Ghosty Men: The Strange but True Story of the Collyer Brothers, New York’s Greatest Hoarders, An Urban Historical, by Franz Lidz, which I downloaded one day when it was the Amazon special.  Lidz mixes the story of the famous Collyer Brothers with that of his own Uncle Arthur in a short book with a long title.

My craft-of-writing read this month was also on my Kindle, Holly Lisle’s Mugging the Muse.  I reviewed it for the Houston Bay Area RWA newsletter here.

I’m delighted to report that Amanda Stevens’ The Kingdom is every bit as good as the first Graveyard Queen novel, The Restorer.  This one takes Amelia to the dying town of Asher Falls and a whole new cast of characters, and away from Charleston and John Devlin, but she returns to both in the next installment, The Prophet, which is waiting near the top of my To Be Read pile.

On a much lighter note, I thoroughly enjoyed Elaine Viets’ latest Dead End Jobs mystery, Final Sail.  I’ve followed Helen Hawthorne’s adventures since she first went on the run from her greedy ex-husband in Shop Til You Drop (2003), so she and the other denizens of the Coronado apartments are old friends.  In this outing Helen works for an exhausting week as a stewardess on a private yacht, while her husband and detecting partner Phil poses as several different people to investigate a possible murder.

Last night I finished reading Zoe Archer’s Skies of Fire, the first in a new Steampunk series, The Ether Chronicles.  Airships, big explosions, the fate of the British Empire at stake, and a hot romance.  What more could a lover of action, adventure, and alternate history ask for?  This was the first recent Steampunk novel I’ve read, although I still have a copy of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine (1990) on my keeper shelf.  I also have several new Steampunk volumes on my TBR shelves, and on the coffee table (you definitely want this one on paper!) Jeff Vandermeer’s The Steampunk Bible, a gorgeously illustrated book in which literature seems to be something of an afterthought.   This is a subgenre that interests me as a reader, and perhaps as a writer, but that needs more exploration.

What have you been reading lately?

Two Meetings and Half a Dozen Books

I belong to two local chapters of Romance Writers of America, and this month the meetings fell as close together as they ever do, West Houston last Saturday morning and Houston Bay Area last night.  Both meetings featured interesting speakers on topics that I have yet to tackle myself.

On Saturday, West Houston heard from Alyssa Goodnight, who showed us how she is using the combined impact of several social media channels to promote her new release, Austentatious.  She has tied together input to Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her website, and claims that it takes relatively little work to maintain her online presence.  I could only watch in admiration–looks like a fulltime job to me.  And I already have one of those.

Last night Joan Reeves gave Houston Bay Area a very interesting talk about some of the technical and legal challenges involved in independent publishing, including copyright laws and piracy problems.  Check out Joan’s blog for a wealth of information on the field, and check out her popular ebook releases while you’re there.

This has been a busy month for West Houston authors, with a whole stack of new releases:

  • Real Vampires Hate Skinny Jeans is the latest in Gerry Bartlett’s very popular Glory St. Clair series.
  • How To Ravish a Rake, by Vicky Dreiling, is the third in a trilogy of charmingly funny Regency historicals.
  • The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek is the first in a new series by Jane Myers Perrine.

  • The Quakers of New Garden anthology includes “New Garden’s Inspiration” by West Houston author Claire Sanders.
  • Wanted: Undead or Alive is the latest installment in Kerrelyn Sparks’ NYT bestselling Love At Stake series.
  • The Kingdom is the second in Amanda Stevens’ Graveyard Queen series, to be followed next month by The Prophet.

I bought books for myself, and an extra copy of Jane’s book as a thank you gift for my neighbor.  Books make terrific, thoughtful, and affordable gifts.  Go out and buy one for someone you’d like to say “thank you” to.