Thursday, February 14, 2019

Review: Watch the Wall, My Darling

Watch the Wall, My Darling Watch the Wall, My Darling by Jane Aiken Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first Jane Aiken Hodge book I stumbled across in my public library. Long before ebooks or the Internet or modern romance genre as we know it, this book hooked me on Regency era historicals with a strong, capable heroine and the man who loves her. It has mystery, intrigue, romance (of course) and solid historical research. I still recommend Aiken Hodge, and I went on to read every book of hers I could track down.

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Valentine's Day

“Do you not want to cut a dash in society? Never mind, I do not know why I even bother. If I said I needed a new hat you would say, ‘You only have one head, why do you need more than one hat?’”

“I am perfectly willing to acknowledge you need a warm hat for winter wear and a straw hat for summer. This conversation is nonsense. I do not need to change my ways to catch a wife. I have money saved, and all of my limbs and my teeth. I am a man of abstemious habits. I cannot imagine how having a waistcoat of daffodil satin would make a bit of difference in my prospects.”

Daphne perked up.

“Now you are putting your brain to work!” She pointed her finger at him. “With your coloring daffodil satin would be a handsome choice. Not for a coat though, that would be a bit much. As you say, for a waistcoat. I had no idea you were taking fashion so seriously.”

“I am not taking this seriously, for a very good reason. That statement about my wearing something as ridiculous as daffodil satin was meant to illustrate why this conversation is waste of time. I have no intention of drawing attention to myself that way.

“All I need is someone who can tend house, cook a meal, will not frighten the horses with her looks and who will care for her children. The more I think about it, the more I agree with you that I could use a wife. If I had a wife, I would not need to pay for a housekeeper or a cook, an economy I approve of.”

--Castaway Dreams (High Seas #2)

It's #ValentinesDay, a day to celebrate romantic love.  I hope your day of love's celebration is everything you want it to be. Those of us in the business know that Happily Ever After takes a lot of hard work and commitment, and it never hurts to take a moment to say, "I love you."



Thursday, February 07, 2019

Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This classic of Florida and Afro-American literature was the perfect re-read during Black History Month. Zora Neale Hurston's life story of being put down by members of the literary establishment, and cleaning houses in her later years, is now well known, thanks to Alice Walker and historians who've helped us reclaim our great women writers. But not everyone has actually read her work, and that's a shame. Ms. Hurston had a gift for dialogue and bringing characters to life--poor, uneducated characters who through her skilled craft become people to take note of.

As a romance writer I also have to acknowledge the great love story of Janie and Tea Cake. Their struggles together, their care for one another--it resonates down through time. Janie is one of my favorite heroines. She's strong, capable, aware of her own sexual needs and is willing to go for satisfaction and not settle for anything less.

I highly recommend this book as one of the great Florida stories and a great love story.

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Monday, February 04, 2019

#WhatTheParrotSaw ARCs

Are you a #NetGalley reviewer? Check out #WhatTheParrotSaw and get transported from your chilly winter to tropical islands with a pirate captain, her cabin boy, and what Roscoe the parrot saw (but he's not telling!) You can also pre-order in ebook or paper from your favorite bookstores.

But wait, there's more! ARCs of What the Parrot Saw are also available at #Booksprout. If you're a reviewer, now's a great time to get some hot reading for cold nights.


Sunday, February 03, 2019

Review: A Bridge to the Sky

A Bridge to the Sky A Bridge to the Sky by Margaret Ball
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the kind of involved historical with a great deal of research and detail that satisfies my inner reader. Unfortunately, in some ways the depth of character for the protagonists seemed sacrificed for the joy of sharing the intricacies of architecture in the age of great medieval cathedrals.

In addition there were abrupt point of view shifts in some scenes which I find off-putting, but YMMV. Overall it was a fascinating look into an age of faith and wonder, and would be enjoyed by readers who like stories about extraordinary people in the Middle Ages who weren't powerful knights and nobles, yet left an enduring legacy.

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Friday, February 01, 2019

My Boskone56 Schedule

It's February, so time to look at my once-a-year winter wardrobe and think about packing for #Boskone, New England's longest running science fiction convention. Yes, that's how much I love science fiction and my friends and fans who will be at Boskone56. Despite this week's Big Chill I'm willing to go from Florida to Boston because, books.

Of course, it helps that I have a return ticket that says "Florida".

You can buy memberships at Boskone.org and at the door, and it's a great way to spend a weekend. There are YA and family-friendly program items as well.  Here's my schedule, and where it says (M) next to my name, I'm moderating that panel. I'll also be reading from What the Parrot Saw, available now for pre-order and releasing on February 26 in print and ebook.

The Streaming Universe
Format: Panel
15 Feb 2019, Friday 18:00 - 18:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

Just wave your magic clicker to enter a new universe of space and time, where SF/F/H stories stream at you seemingly without end. Discovery, The Defenders, The Handmaid’s Tale, Counterpart, The Magicians, Westworld, The Expanse — which genre TV shows are more bingeworthy than cringeworthy? Where’s your favorite series headed? What printed works should become the next shining stars of the Streaming Universe?

Julie C. Day, Ginjer Buchanan, Jim Mann (M), Robert Howard, Darlene Marshall (darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com)

Fantasy with Greek & Roman Roots
Format: Panel
15 Feb 2019, Friday 19:00 - 19:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

Hermes and Mercury. Athena and Minerva. Ares and Mars. Zeus and Jupiter. Ancient Greece and Rome contributed important roots to later European language, culture, and fantasy. Do their myths still have power today? Why? How did 20th-century fantasy authors employ these classic tales? Are we making different use of them in the 21st?

Darlene Marshall (M) (darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com), Barry Lee Dejasu, Bruce Coville, Sarah Beth Durst

Crafting Sex Scenes
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 12:00 - 12:50, Burroughs (Westin)

Everyone loves a good sex scene. But writing one is no bed of roses. Sex and sex scenes are both subjective, and the idea of doing it wrong can be paralyzing. What do publishers want? Readers? How do you get it right when you have trouble even talking about actual sex in real life? Communication is key. Our authors share some tips and tricks for crafting a memorable moment.

Darlene Marshall (M) (darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com), Robert V.S. Redick, Kaitlin R. Branch, Melanie Meadors, Mary Anne Mohanraj

The Good Place
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 13:00 - 13:50, Marina 4 (Westin)

This quirky 30-minute sitcom about getting the afterlife you deserve has consistently topped the speculative TV ratings. Why? What makes The Good Place so good? From the setup to the stories to the characters, our panelists look at why this odd little show not only works, but works so well.

Fonda Lee, Erin Underwood (M), Darlene Marshall, Jeanne Beckwith, Jennifer Pelland

Stereotyping Authors
Format: Panel
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 12:00 - 12:50, Harbor III (Westin)

Some authors get known for writing only one particular type of fiction: hard SF, or urban detective fantasy, or grimdark milSF mystery nurse romance … This sort of branding can bring a writer great success — while plunking them straight into a pigeonhole. Some find it quite difficult to escape. But breakouts are possible. Our panelists discuss the ups and downs of becoming a "known quantity," and how it affects the arc of their careers and the fiction they publish.

Ginjer Buchanan (M), Joshua Bilmes, Christopher Golden, David B. Coe/ D.B. Jackson, Darlene Marshall (darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com)

Reading by Darlene Marshall
Format: Reading
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 13:00 - 13:25, Independence (Westin)

Darlene Marshall (darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com)