Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Reader's Anonymous by J.P. Bowie

I read a lot...too much sometimes as my partner will tell me when I've got my head stuck in a book or my ebook reader. I read just about anything, and working in a bookstore I have first dibs on the advance reader's copies that come through from the publishers. Sadly, some of what is published these days by major publishing companies is just not very good. Luckily, there are some that are totally brilliant, like:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

If you haven't yet got around to this really fantastic fantasy I'll give you a brief description. This is the lady's first novel, and boy, does she have the knack for storytelling. The main characters are especially captivating. Diana Bishop is a witch, descended from a long line of witches. She also happens to be a historian who teaches at Yale. Matthew Clairmont is a vampire who also happens to be a geneticist and a fellow at Oxford University- great yes?

The two go on a wild adventure when Diana opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript - Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown - Of course Diana and Matthew fall in love, although it's no easy relationship at first. He confesses to a friend, "I climbed into  her window when she was asleep, I follow her when she's running. She resists my attempts to help her, and the more she does, the hungrier I feel."

There's a movie afoot of course. I've actually seen a mock up with Richard Armitage as Matthew. He'd be good in the role...brooding and not too pretty.

Harkness does an excellent job with all the other characters, witches, demons, other vamps, good and bad, and her descriptions of locations are so detailed without being too much, that you can see it all quite vividly through her eyes. I haven't read the sequels yet, but I will.

The Son by Phillip Meyer is an epic tale of a family descended from a man, Eli McCullough, kidnapped when he was a boy and raised  by Comanche Indians. This is no fairy tale version of life among the Comanche - it is brutal, violent, yet at the same time respectful of the dire situation the Comanches found themselves in faced with the white man's superior firepower - and disease. Eli eventually returns to Texas, and after a stint as a Texas Ranger he marries, has a son and so begins his dynasty founded on the ranch he builds with ill-gotten gains.

I found this book hard to put down, and although it's not an easy read, I would recommend it to those of you who like a good historical saga reminiscent of Giant at times. Meyer even gets a dig in at Edna Ferber.

Because I write m/m romance I do read some occasionally - two recently have annoyed me for various reasons. I'm not going to give the titles or authors here, because...well because I'm a nice guy. One was by an author who generally writes m/f romance. This one word title was her first foray into m/m and  honestly I hated it. Neither character was worth reading about, both were self serving, whining jerks who didn't deserve the pages and pages and PAGES of sex this book encompassed. Gee whiz, but I was cross-eyed with boredom by the time they'd done it for the very first time! Then they did it again and again and... You get the picture.

The second one I'm still reading though I'm ready to pack it in. I have nothing against lady authors writing about men in love - some do it extremely well, but some...well lets just say with these guys, one should be wearing a dress. Although they are physically massive, bulging muscles, wall like chests etc, their interactions are straight out of Georgette Heyer's regency romances. "Oh no I can't, but oh God I want to. I must never be alone with him. I'm bad for him, he's bad for me" and so on and on with this endless tripe.

Am I being harsh? I don't think so. Not when there are truly gifted lady authors in the genre like Kendall Mckenna, Adrienne Wilder, LB Gregg and many more.  So enough of my ranting. It's Tuesday and tomorrow I have to have a spinal injection to ease my stenosis - whatever that it. Oh the joys of getting old(er).


  1. I have A Discovery of Witches in my TBR pile (though that's no guarantee I'll get to it)—good to know it's worth it, though. And any role that could be played by Richard Armitage... (insert embarrassing drooling here).

    The Son sounds interesting.

    And with romance, much as I can love it, it's always hit or miss for me. I think this is why many readers go by author and are reluctant to try new people. Thanks for the recommendations for good m/m authors—that's not my most commonly read genre, but I dip into it from time to time.

  2. Yes, The Son sounds right up my proverbial alley.
    As for Romance, Erotica/Erotic romance. it's all hit and miss for a lot of us, I'd think. Considering our preferences are so singular in the flesh, so to speak, why not the writing too? And, of course, the more we polish and become proficient with our own writing, the level others write on becomes more obvious to us, and perhaps we're less tolerant of smaltz.

  3. Think that's right, Daddy X, and the fact that the genre has just become overloaded with wannabes with little insight into what makes that kind of romance...different.
    Read The Son - I think you'll like it.

  4. This is so much fun! I love learning about new books.A Discovery of Witches sounds fantastic.

    About women writing M/M romance...I've read some dreadful stuff. I'm not even a gay man, but I could tell it was horrible. But then I start to worry about my own M/M work. I mean, what do I really know about this world? Sigh. Just gotta be brave, I guess!


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