The last month of the year is always also one of the months with slimmer pickings for book lovers. Presumeably the publishing industry believes we’ve all done our holiday shopping early, and we’re too busy eating turkey leftovers and going to holiday parties to read books. Still there’s some interesting titles early and late in the month. Here are the blendy ones. As usual, I list the genres in rough order of prominence.
Visitors to the Genre Blender this week will notice a slightly different look. We restructured the site to have it run a little quicker, and also to fix some bugs we noticed when users tried to use the database with older web browsers. Now the blender should work with up to three blends on older versions of iOS, and on older versions of windows. Apparently we had a bug that was not offering user the option to blend in a third genre. Fixed!
I also took the opportunity to add some new titles to the database, which now top 550 titles.
In the process of making the huge chart featured earlier in the week, I spent a lot of time thinking about the genre. There are so many good stories about terrible things happening! Here are some of my personal favorites.
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller
This tri-part classic of Science Fiction is about the rebuilding of society after a nuclear holocaust. In the aftermath of devastation, the world rejected technology. The novel follows the monks of the order of Saint Leibowitz over hundreds of years as they attempt to preserve relics of the world’s technological past until civilization is once again ready for them. (more…)
I recently decided to chart another genre, this time post-apocalyptic fiction. I love the genre, which has more variety that most people suspect. Why do we love books about the end of the world? In a way, it is the ultimate triumph-over-adversity narrative. Whether ante-, mid- or post-apocalypse, the end of the world as we know it is a pretty good conflict for characters to strive against. Usually characters are a big part of the appeal in apocalyptic fiction. You need characters you can root for to SURVIVE. Readers like to imagine how they would behave in the world possible scenario of a world-ending catastrophe, and these books can showcase the best in humanity, while it usually also shows us a vivid portrait of the worst we can do to each other. (more…)
I’m not here to try to convince you to read a historical romance if romance isn’t your bag. Mind you, I think there is some outstanding writing in the romance genre, where the emphasis on creating characters that live and breathe has been honed and perfected. No, I am instead trying to make the case to romance readers for the superiority of the historical subgenre. I have a few contemporary romance authors that I enjoy immensely. Jill Shalvis and her Gilmore Girls-ish Lucky Harbor books, the FBI/US Attorney books of Julie James, and the romantic comedies of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie all count as favorites. But as a whole, I prefer Historical Romance, particularly Regency romance, although I can go a little earlier or a little later. And here’s why: (more…)
I would like to take a moment to gush about one of my all-time favorite authors, Georgette Heyer. If you are a romance reader, you’ve probably heard of her, and may even have read one of her novels. They were very hard to find for years, but due to the re-issues from Sourcebooks, most libraries probably have a shelf of her books. And I would wager that if you checked the circulation stats of those books, you would be astounded by the popularity of this author who wrote 50-90 years ago and whose have absolutely no sex scenes in them anywhere. Heyer fans are like a secret cult; a cult of which I am proud to be a member.
Like many reviewers and bloggers, I read the article from author Kathleen Hale in The Guardian with the perspective of fascinated revulsion (The Digital Reader is just one place you can get some background on this mess). Although she had a few sympathetic authors on her side, most readers of the piece were chilled by the thought that an author might go to such lengths to confront someone who had negatively reviewed her work. I saw many book bloggers around the web had done a blogging blackout as a statement in support of all book bloggers who need to be able to state their own opinions of a book in their own space and not be stalked by crazypants authors. I read today about the SF blogger reviewer Requires Only That You Hate (again, there are plenty of roundups of this situation, but the tl;dr is that she is a blogger – and apparent some-time troll under another name – who is getting called out for the extreme and hateful rhetoric of her reviews, especially now since she is gaining success as a short story writing under yet another name). The whole bizarre situation made me think. It made me think about the act of reviewing.
Title: A Test of Wills
Author: Charles Todd
Publisher: St. Martin’s, 1996
Series: Inspector Rutledge, Book 1
THE BOOK: In this series of historical mysteries set in post-WWI England, the protagonist is a Scotland Yard detective who solves crimes despite being nearly crippled with shell shock. Charles Todd’s Inspector Ian Rutledge is one of the great characters of British crime fiction. He fought in the trenches of WWI France, and came back a shattered man, carrying the guilt of what he had seen in the war. The twist is that his guilt takes form as a very convincing delusion. Rutledge hears the voice of a man who died under his command. This voice, a Scottish officer called Hamish MacLeod, serves as Rutledge’s conscience. It is also the voice of his intuition, which he fears he lost in the war. But the hook for mystery fans is that Rutledge is trying to pick up his work as an Inspector with Scotland Yard. (more…)
UPDATE: Random Number Generator has been employed and the books have been claimed. Thanks for playing!
Even before I became a fan of the horror genre (thanks in large part to my three years judging the Reading List Award), I always loved a good ghost story. Creepy and scary – without usually being gory or bloody – they remain a favorite horror monster. And while there are tons of excellent ghosts in horror proper, you can find them in a lot of other genres as well. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:
The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
For me, this is a perfect combination of urban fantasy, romance and spooky horror. Start with the heroine’s profession and nickname: she restores old cemeteries and is known as the Graveyard Queen. Now this would, on the surface, be a pretty stupid career for our heroine Amelia Gray, who is from a family especially susceptible to ghosts. He father taught her to never acknowledge a ghost, or it could torment you forever. But she loves her job, drawn to the beauty of the old graveyards of the South. When she meets Detective John Devlin over a dead body (of the fresh kind) in a cemetery she is restoring in Charleston, she knows she should keep her distance from the man, who is haunted by the ghost of his dead wife. But they end up working together as more people are killed in Charleston. The sequels never captured the magic of this one, unfortunately. Very gothic, and very good. (more…)