Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Library Loot: Made to Order

Another week, another Library Loot post. It's so not fair. I have a huge enough TBR as it is, but not only is my library improving its inventory in the library, but it's also improving its catalogues, so that some romance paperbacks are actually available to order (usually they're not, on the basis that paperbacks endure fewer circulations than hardcovers). Also, I saw a teaser for a movie that looked both interesting/terrible, and found out it was based on a book so I just had to get that too!

First off, though, let's start with the literary fish I decided to throw back:
Sorry, With Seduction In Mind. I know you're about writers and writers' block and sexy fun artistic times, but Secret Desires of a Gentleman really drained the Gurhke-Goodwill-Well. Not enough to scare me off the books I've already got of hers on the TBR (Guilty Pleasures, The Marriage Bed, She's No Princess), but enough to make me send you, already thrice-renewed, back to the public shelves.

It's just too soon. Secret Desires of a Gentleman really annoyed me and my attempt to read your first two pages didn't help - really? A feisty red-headed heroine who just can't keep a job because she's so unbelievably sexy that her evil bosses can't keep their hands off her? Um, no. Not yet. Give me a chance to recover from Gentleman's "strong" culinary heroine giving up her life's work after three months because buttering her hero's baguette takes up all of her time.

Now, this week's haul:
Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner has been garnering buzz and reviews all over the place as an excellent Western historical epic romance, and lo and behold! Since it's a trade paperback it can be searched and put on hold from my library's online catalogue!

It's practically new since I placed a hold on it while it was still ON ORDER (I was #2 in line!). People sometimes complain when authors, particularly the big ones, have hardcover releases - but readers, LISTEN. You can order hardcovers much more easily from libraries, and reading it in hardcover will make it easier to wait the additional 6-months-to-a-year to buy it cheaply in paperback if you liked it, and if you don't end up liking it, you haven't wasted $30 - or even $10.

Stop complaining about romance in hardcover, for the love of Balogh!

What really surprised me was finding an actual, and not utterly recent romance paperback on the online catalogue - but that's exactly what I found when I searched "Marjorie M. Liu" on a lark, expecting to find hardcovers and large print editions.

Instead, I had the incredible good fortune to find the Dark Dreamers anthology, which has the novella that tells what actually happened to The Wild Road's Lannes and his brothers when they were turned to stone by an evil witch. Yes, technically it's Charlie's story (his presence in The Wild Road is restricted to the occasional phone call with his stepdaughter's Disney movies blaring in the background), but still! It explains more about Lannes!

And, last but not least,
we have Beastly, by Alex Flinn. Confession: I saw the teaser and info for the upcoming movie adaptation (out in July) and I was kind of hypnotized. Mary Kate Olsen as a teen witch! Neil Patrick Harris as a blind tutor! That Disney Actress Who Unlike Hannah Montana Never Learned to Keep Her Bra On When Taking Sexy Photos Of Herself and Mailing Them to Untrustworthy People (Twice!)!

Yeah, this modern take on Beauty and the Beast looks like it has every chance to be huge success or a massively entertaining and campy failure. I'll admit to a certain weakness towards Beauty and the Beast stories in romance novels - and I mean the real stories where the dude is actually hideously scarred/deformed/cursed, not the silly knockoffs where the hero is considered beastly because he acts like an asshole or doesn't know/care about using the correct salad fork at dinner. Or worse - he's just "romance ugly," which usually means he has craggy bone structure a la Liam Neeson. Very quickly the heroines of those stories learn that "romance ugly" is just another code word for "I don't have to squint or check the inseam of his pants to see that he is a dude." I suppose the convenience of that sort of appearance appeals to these feisty historical heroines, since they have a large tendency to want to prance about in breeches themselves and wouldn't want to unintentionally bat for the other team and make doe-eyes at a fellow, er, doe in buckskins.

But I digress! I like Beauty and the Beast stories and Beastly is an interesting modern take - both the book and the movie deal with a spoiled, rich teenage boywho has everything - money, status, hawtness, and then he loses everything when he decides to bully and humiliate the one Goth girl in school who actually does practice the Dark Arts! How could this not be awesome? Or at least awesomely bad?

Here's to good reading!


  1. Anonymous2:35 PM

    I love Beauty and the Beast stories. My favorite is Mary Jo Putney's The Beast of Belleterre (story in A Victorian Christmas anthology) -- not much plot, but the ending is probably my favorite ever.

    But here's the problem with B&TB adaptations. In the fairy tale, the beast is a real beast, but she doesn't actually have to spend her life with him as a beast. Sure, in the Disney cartoon version, once he changes back to "human" for the HEA, he seems boring, but it's not like she was going to have beastly babies, so the change is necessary.

    In romances, what's the substitute for the "change"? I like Putney's take on that aspect of it. Also, Robin McKinley has done two versions; not precisely romances, but she's an unmissable author for me.

  2. They're darn near impossible to find - but Laura Lee Guhrke wrote some magical stories pre-Avon. I think you'd really dig To Dream Again - which is a Victorian.

    The Kaki Warner book got a nice review in one of the trade journals. Publisher's Weekly maybe? I ordered copies for my library, and I also ordered my own personal copy. I tend to buy westerns brand new - cuz that's how I roll. My copy arrived from Amazon over the weekend. Yippee!

  3. The original book was really good (for instance, original beast is really, really, really a jerk), but I'm always a little wary of filmed books, especially Disney versions. Their version of A Ring of Endless Light made puppies cry.

    For some reason, though, MK Olsen as the Goth girl intrigues me. I don't even like her, but I'm going, "Hmm!" now.

  4. Anonymous1:00 AM

    NPH is a king among men

    but I'm never going to watch Beastly

  5. I have borrow LLG a few times - never actually read her, and it will probably be a while before I try to again.

    Enjoy your loot.

  6. Magdalen - you know, I never thought of that. I guess that may explain the profusion of stories where "beastly" means "rude" - because the change is the change is his behaviour.

    Still, I kinda like the stories where the learn to overcome the hero's actual ugliness - true, there might not be a "change" because the scars don't magically heal, but the main importance of the story is overcoming his looks - I think the Beast has to change back because of bestiality concerns. No problem with a human man who's burned/maimed.

    I've read Robin McKinley's Beauty. I remember enjoying it. Mercedes Lackey's The Fire Rose also wasn't bad - AND had a half-wolf hero who doesn't change back!

    Wendy --> I've heard her older books are her best and so far I'm finding that's true - And Then He Kissed Her and His Ever Kiss were astounding, but everything else has been m'eh. Here's hoping for re-issues?

  7. Bibliovore --> Oh, you don't have to tell me - the "Ella Enchanted" adaptation was atrocious. I'm almost afraid to read the book before the movie - because sometimes even a bad adaptation of a book can be a good movie in its own right (think Blade Runner) and vice versa (the first Harry Potter movies).

    Uenohama --> Scared off by one of the Olsen twins? For shame!

    Marg --> I recommend And Then He Kissed Her if you can find it, and His Ever Kiss. They are lovely - but the rest of the Girl Bachelors haven't been up to snuff.

  8. Vorkosigrrl12:16 PM

    Oooo! Oooo! AnimeJune! I am sooooooooo excited you're going to read Dreams of Stone and Shadow. So excited, so excited, doing happy dance. Okay, gotta calm down. Can't WAIT for the review! Getting all excited again!!!!!

    Teeny word of warning. Don't expect a big participation from Lannes. But honestly, I don't think you'll mind. Looooooove me some Charlie!!!

  9. Anonymous2:20 PM

    Are you going to post a review of Beastly?

  10. Vorkosigrrl --> Oh, I know I wouldn't expect too much Lannes, but it's still some insight into his past.

    Anonymous --> I don't think so. It's really more of a YA fairy-tale retelling than a romance (we get little to none of Lindy's POV). But I'll probably do a double-review-post when the movie comes out in July about the comparison.