Review: About That Night by Julie James

Format: ebook, mass market paperback
Pub Date:April 3, 2012
Publisher: Berkley (Penguin)
Length:304 pages
FTC: Purchased myself

I've read a few Julie James books, and they just keep getting better. About That Night is easily the best one yet.

It takes some skill to make an ex-con, rich boy with a penchant for dating supermodels appealing, but James does that so easily it is almost criminal. Because Kyle might just have made it into my all-time, favorite hero list.


Tired of the Reader Shaming

I've mentioned before my high tolerance for historical inaccuracy as long as the story and characters are compelling. But once again, I feel the need to rant about something I've seen more and more frequently among blogs and on Twitter. There's a continuing trend in the book reviewing world that really sets my teeth on edge. Specifically, it's the calling-out of historical books as historically inaccurate.

Now, I'm not talking about taking someone to task when they've touted their book as 100% accurate. I'm not even talking about when a historical romance feels too modern, as that is often a failure in world building. I'm talking about the use of pejorative labels that shout out mistakes and errors, big and small, and invite attack against the book and the author's craft.

I understand the frustrations of those who would like historical romance to be more historically accurate, or those readers whose fields make them particularly sensitive to historical errors. But I think, as a group, this attack against "mistoricals" isn't doing what people hoped it would.

Instead of helping those accuracy-seeking readers find books that fit their standards of historical authenticity, it is making readers for whom those mistakes aren't a problem feel ashamed of their reading preferences.  In short, it's an extension of the reader shaming that many romance readers already suffer under from the non-romance reading public.

Instead of using terms like "wallpaper" or "mistorical" in an often snide tone, why don't these seekers of historical excellence come up with a positive term to trumpet a book that does it right? Instead of mocking a book for something that sales figures already indicate the majority of readers don't care about, why not highlight those books that will satisfy even the worst nitpicky reader?

And yes, "mistorical" is just as much of a pejorative as "wallpaper" is. You can tell by the superior tone of comments whenever that word is used. The public mocking of errors by certain people in my Twitter feed have had my finger hovering over the Unfollow button more than once. 

I don't enjoy feeling like I have to justify my preference for story and characters over historical accuracy. Or that I'm somehow letting down the book world if I really don't care that a book mentions an event that is a few months off from its actual date. I'm not a lazy reader (as often suggested by those of the pro-accuracy brigade.) My reading preferences are just that, and I don't think anyone should make me feel like I have to justify them because they've decided to make their own reading preferences into a crusade.


Nonfiction Review: Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War by Madeleine Albright

Format: Hardcover, ebook
Pub Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Harper
Length: 450 pages
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

If you're like me, the most you know about Czechoslovakian history is tied directly to appeasement during World War II.  I knew just the bare facts about what happened: France and England allowed Hitler to take over Czechoslovakia without putting up a fight (effectively ignoring an alliance that should have protected the country), hoping that he would be happy with that and would not encroach further outside his current sphere of influence. And, as history tells us, that appeasement was a spectacular failure.

What I didn't know was what life was like for those living inside German-occupied Czechoslovakia. I didn't know why Hitler wanted that land, what ruses or justifications he used, or what happened after the West basically turned a partially blind eye to the problem. Prague Winter fills in those gaps with a wealth of research and knowledge in a way that incorporates the author's, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, family history and background.


Suggestions and Feedback from RT12 for RT13

I've only been to one previous RT event, so it could just be that last year was an outlier. But this year's RT was crowded, the lines were really long, the food ran out early at nearly every event, as did the swag.

That didn't happen so much last year.

I think a large part of that was that RT didn't cap attendance or set a registration deadline (that I know of.) And there were several "high profile" authors who normally don't bother with RT.  They also opened up most of Saturday's events to a one day "FAN" pass. I don't mind the end of the "mangeant" (Mr. Romance) so much as the fact that they took a paid , convention-only event and then substituted something open to the public that they could then get extra $ for.

Especially when they were constantly RUNNING OUT of everything.


RT Convention: Day Three

Day Three:

By Friday, RT was starting to kick my butt. I had to pry myself out of bed for a quite lame party that consisted of breakfast. No info on the publishing house that "sponsored" it was there at all.

Following that I went to a series romance party hosted by authors in the Harlequin series imprints. After a brief introduction from each author, holding one of their covers, we played a brief game. 


RT Convention: Day 2

So...I didn't get this posted yesterday. Not much of a surprise. Busy, busy, busy.

Here are a few highlights from Thursday.

Historical Author Chat: Mary Balogh was unable to attend, but Lorraine Heath kindly stepped in to take her place.

Lorraine Heath, Jennifer Blake

Loretta Chase, Sarah MacLean


RT Convention: Day One

Having learned my lesson last year, I decided to skip a few sessions so I didn't wear myself out completely.  So I had time to get the photos off the ole camera card!

By far, my favorite panel today was the Romance Reader Family Feud hosted by Louisa Edwards, Vivian Arend, Tessa Dare, Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso. Based loosely on the old game show, teams had to guess which answers to questions were the most popular based on a survey sent around through Twitter.

 Survey Says...

Nico and Vivian

I also attended a writer's panel today. My first one at an RT convention. I'm not an author (published or aspiring), but I wanted a peek at what a panel was like. I attended the Love, Mythology and Monsters one with Stephanie Dray, Jackie Barbosa, Zoe Archer and Leeana Renee Hieber. Very cool to see how authors could incorporate mythological themes as a way to heighten emotion and tap into our deepest fears and beliefs.

The Ellora's Cave party this year had a hip hop theme, with tshirts, pants, sunglasses, hats and more as swag! Entertainment was a brief routine:


Heading to RT!!

In a few hours,  I'll be on a plane headed to Chicago for the RT Booklovers Convention! The convention runs Wednesday through Sunday. I will try to post daily updates, but as busy as I was last year, I'm not making any promises. I will be posting to Twitter, though, so you can follow along with the hashtag #RT12 or just check out my feed @buriedbybooks.

Some highlights I'm looking forward to are attending a JR Ward panel, attending Zoƫ Archer's Mythology panel (it's for writers, but sounds cool) and, of course, going to the parties.


Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Format: Hardcover (also available as an ebook)
Pub Date: February 2011
Publisher: St. Martins
Length: 320 pages
FTC: Purchased myself

It's been a year since I first heard about author, Darynda Jones. My friend, Sandy, mentioned her on our joint first time trip to the RT Convention in LA last April. And then I promptly forgot about both book and author. When convention time came around again, I got more nagging reminding about how awesome this author was and felt reader-shamed into picking it up.

And this handselling is from a reader/bookseller who is not normally a paranormal romance reader. So I gave it a shot.

Hump Day Movie: Short Circuit (1986)

Yes, I've been on an 80s kick lately. I can't help it. So many movies are being redone from the 80s, they are making me nostalgic. Plus, who couldn't use a good dose of Steve Guttenberg. Whatever happened to him, anyway?

We watched Short Circuit so many times when I was younger. In fact, I sometimes catch myself saying "No disassemble Number 5!" when I want to keep the boys from taking something apart. Of course, since they haven't seen this yet (soon to be remedied!), they have no idea what I'm talking about.

This is really a sweet movie, even if does have the hit-you-over-the-head 80s staple of humanizing the 'alien' in it. (If you wonder where Wall-E gets many of his mannerisms, look no further) And it spawned a not-quite-as-good sequel, too. I'm betting that once you watch this one, you'll want to break out Cocoon and Three Men and a Baby, too. Steve G is just so darn cute.