How do you choose a book?

We all have favourite authors on auto-buy. I do as well. I trust them implicitly. They could write a book about in-grown toenails and I’d buy it. But what about those authors we don’t know? Do you buy that book or do you put it back? What do you do?

When I see an author I don’t know, I like to go in slowly. It’s a lot like tasting something new. Say I’m in Spain and someone offers me some paella. Well, I wouldn’t necessarily get a full plate of it. I like to try a bit. Like a mouthful. If I like it, I’ll try some more. And so on. (By the way, if you’re in Spain, don’t miss out. Definitely try the paella).

I like to do the same thing with books. I ‘taste’ books first. If I’m at a book store, I’ll read the cover, then I’ll try the first chapter. See what I think. Then, maybe, I’ll read a bit more.

My method works on line too. Most authors are incredibly accommodating. In their excerpts, they literally post a chapter or two. By the end of the first chapter I can tell you if I like the book or if it’s not a good fit.

This is how I found out about Kristen Ashley. She has a sample for each of her books. Usually not just one or two chapters but several. I can tell you, after a few chapters, I’m a goner. I need to know what happens. And, you know what? The purchase button is right there! So easy! Within minutes, I’m in my happy place.

That’s also what got me thinking about putting a few chapters of Olivia’s Choice online. I went to Wattpad (recommended by a friend) and posted the first two chapters under Olivia’s page, with another little excerpt.

So, if you’re like me and like to try things out, give those chapters a try! Let me know what you think! Oh, and I can’t recommend Kristen Ashley strongly enough. If you like romance and you haven’t read her yet, give her a shot. I dare you to try her chapters and not buy the book. I haven’t been able to resist. She’s that good.

Another recommendation

This is actually someone I should have recommended a while ago. Elizabeth Hoyt writes historical romance and, personally, I love her books. She’s on my automatic-buy list for a couple of reasons.

One, she has written The Serpent Prince. One of my most beloved books. It’s gripping and sad and amazing all in one book. Two, she writes historical romance that’s credible (no historical mistakes that bring you out of the story) and is, at the same time, very hot. I’m used to historical romance where we get kisses or hints of kisses. Elizabeth Hoyt has steamy scenes that make me blush bright red…before I read them again. Finally, she has been writing for a while and has a few books out but she hasn’t given up quality for quantity. I’ve seen other authors fall for that trap but Ms. Hoyt has stayed within the realms of great, quality writing and I thank her for it.

I don’t think writing historical romance is particularly easy to write either. You can’t have explosions or aliens or powers to create interest. There was no email, no TV, no phones in that time period. News didn’t arrive suddenly and startle everyone. It was passed by word of mouth and spoken about long after it had taken place. They didn’t race cross-country on bikes or do other dangerous sports for fun.  Nope. For entertainment, they talked over tea for hours or went to long balls. I’d say that’s a challenge to write. You’ve got to have a great set of characters and one dandy, reader-catching plot. Oh, and the dialogue better be off the scale or people are simply going to tune out. Rest easy, Ms. Hoyt pulls it off, again and again.

I read Elizabeth Hoyt like it’s going out of style. She just got out a book “Duke of Midnight” and once I get my little paws on that puppy, I’ll read it in one sitting, from start to finish. I’ll be too greedy to let it go. I haven’t done so simply because my local book store didn’t have a copy (which earned a blistering phone call from yours truly).

I’ll be ordering a copy today.

You must be thinking, Taylor, another recommendation? Really? Can there be that many good authors? Well, let me tell you, we’re lucky in romance. There really are that many. In fact, the problem is that there aren’t enough. No. I mean that. I can get through a book a night. Then, what am I going to read? I need more. So, if you have any good romance authors…please pass them along. 

(credit: elizabethhoyt.com)

(credit: elizabethhoyt.com)

Best of the best

One of the very, very best, Linda Howard. She really needs no introduction simply because she’s so good. Believe it or not, she doesn’t have a blog or a website. Still, everyone knows her.

I read one book and I was hooked. Done. A devoted follower ever since. And a frustrated one because…how do I know when her next book is coming out if she doesn’t have a website? Doesn’t matter, because Ms. Howard is good enough that I keep going to my local bookstore periodically (ahem, every month) and check under her name. If there’s a new book, I buy it. It’s that simple.

It’s hard for me to pick a single favourite among her books. There are so many. It’s easier to say what book would match this mood or that situation. Still, I can’t do a post on her and not mention some of her books that are just not to be missed. I recommend these ones because the happiness they brought and still bring is a beautiful thing. There are tough, no-nonsense heroes who terrified me until I fell in love with them and heroines that I adore and love dearly still. Only Linda Howard has the ability to transport me and make me believe in a few words.

I can’t say enough good things about her. If I was an Olympic gymnastics judge, she’d be a perfect ten. If I know someone and they read romance, I mention her within the first two minutes of talking. She’s that good.

Here are two of my all-time favourites by an absolute master of the genre.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: bonnechereupl.com)

(credit: bonnechereupl.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How about you? What are some of your absolute best, all-time favourites?

Plot wars

I’m in the middle of a plot issue.

It’s the second book in a series. I have a hero I love and a heroine that deserves and challenges him. I have an idea of what I want the story to do. I know what their wounds and strengths are…but I’m fighting with the events that actually happen in said story.

I wrote the book last year. I really did. I wrote the entire thing from beginning to end. Let me tell you, it was not smooth sailing. I fought with the plot from the very beginning and only got through it by sticking to it and sheer will. I finally finished the book this summer…only to discover I didn’t like it. Worse, I couldn’t let it go that way. I thought it didn’t focus on the hero and heroine. It was simply blah.

So, I sat down and wrote another plot. I think this one focuses more on the two main characters and gives them more time to interact with each other. I hope it shows them in their best possible light. I hope it also challenges them into becoming better people and makes them face their wounds.

But, of course the only way to find out if it will do all that is to write it out. And there are no guarantees.

It was pretty gutting to realize I had done all that writing for nothing. Until I thought: wait a minute. I write for me. I write because I love to do it and not to get published or to be famous or to make money…well, maybe a little. Hee hee! No. Really, the point (I do have one, I promise) is that I love to write and this is another opportunity to do just that.

Even if the plot and I go to war again.

(credit: 123rf.com)

(credit: 123rf.com)

 

Best ever!

An all-time favourite. If I gave out Oscars, this one would win a few. If I could go back in time, I’d give to myself with a smile. I have it in paperback and ebook. I go back to it again and again and it always makes me smile. It has great writing, amazing characters, a great plot and a wonderful romance. I just can’t say enough good things about this one. In fact, just talking about it…well, I want to read it again…sigh! So good!

71648

(credit: goodreads.com)

Have you read it? What did you think?

Is that a scarf in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

I’m not a clothing diva. In fact, I have trouble matching items. I can get myself dressed but coordinating the outfit with layers, style and accessories is out of the question. I try, but most of the times, my attempts are dismal failures.

Not too long ago, my sister, who is an enthusiastic clothes diva, sent me a clothing accessory through the mail as a present. I opened up the package and found yards of pink silk. A scarf. She really should have known better. Instead of delight, I felt instant panic. How does one wear a scarf? Is there a folding pattern? How many loops are right? Does it fall down over the stomach or is that gauche? Determined to wear her gift, I got dressed, tried to match my clothes to the scarf and wrapped the thing around my neck.

I was in trouble almost instantly. The scarf was a massive thing, swallowing my face up to my eyebrows, allowing only a few hairs peep out on top. It didn’t sit right and looked more like an overgrown pink snake trying to eat me than any article of clothing. Still, determination being my motto for the day, I knotted part of it to keep it from dragging on the ground and went to work.

It was a disaster.

Don’t let the softness of silk fool you, the scarf and I were in battle from the very beginning and, by the end of the day, it was clear the scarf was winning. It kept uncoiling and looping down to the floor, it got caught on things–almost strangling me at one point–and even slid onto the photocopier. People had to duck as I passed less my accessory fall on them.

At the end of the day, back home, the scarf and I eyed each other wearily. Her many wrinkles attested that she had not come out unscathed out of the battle, but I was pretty certain she had won the upper hand. I wasn’t wearing that thing again.

I was writing to explain that fact to my sister when I saw she had emailed. “How do you like the table runner?” she asked.

6a00d8341d930353ef0120a70e1945970b-800wi

(credit: frecklewonder.typepad.com)

To read or not to read

When a friend of mine asked me what I had done this summer, I told her I had read. She looked sad and replied, “That’s so boring, girl. You need to get a life.” Usually, I shrug that sort of comment off but this time it got me thinking. Am I an oddity?

Looking back on my life, I have to admit, I’ve logged a few hours reading. I can remember, as a child, reading for hours at a time. I would get so engrossed in a book, I wouldn’t hear my parents call me. I remember books that opened up worlds for me and I’d look around and wonder if anyone else knew what I had just learned. Most of my friends didn’t read. Not for fun and certainly not like me.

I haven’t gone to the North Pole but I’ve read about it. I’ve read about the discovery of Tutankhamun but I’ve never been to Egypt. I’d like to think that classics like Jules Verne and Rudyard Kipling taught me life lessons that were invaluable. But, though I did have friends, the fact remains that none of them ever snuck a book into class to read while the teacher wasn’t looking like I did.

I have to admit, today reading is still with me. In spite of a full-time job, I manage to get my hands on books or ebooks and rare is the week when I don’t read at least couple. I’m not saying I need a 12-step group but…am I an odd bird? Is reading on the way out?

What do you think? Do you read more than the norm? Do your friends make funny comments when you share about your love for books? Or can they relate? Is it a dying breed or is it on the rise?

(credit: freeclipartnow.com)

(credit: freeclipartnow.com)