I've found some great reads over the past months. Lots of different tones and genres depending on my mood. Here are a few:
OVERKILL by Linda Castillo. A scary, well-written romantic suspense guaranteed to keep you turning pages through the night. The protagonist isn't the typical romance heroine. I loved her rough edges and angst!
CONFESSIONS OF A WEREWOLF SUPERMODEL by Ronda Thompson. This is my friend Ronda's first mainstream novel and her last book. Sadly, she passed away in July. (See my post below)A fun and unique premise. Ronda's wonderful voice rings true throughout!
LIKE FAMILY: GROWING UP IN OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES: A MEMOIR by Paula McLain. I picked up this book at the library in order to research the lives of foster children. I ended up reading it for more than research. The writing is unsentimental, poetic and frank. I was by turns, touched, mortified and heartbroken by the story.
HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG by Andre Dubus. I read this while on vacation at the beach. Not a light, breezy beach read for sure! Depressing but thought-provoking. Horrifying but skillfully and beautifully written. This is a story I can't stop thinking about, even months later.
INTENSITY by Dean Koontz. Oh my gosh. This is one of the scariest novels I've ever read. If you shy away from Dean Koontz because you don't like supernatural stories, try this one. What happens in this story, could happen in real life, which makes it all the more frightening. The roller coaster ride of terror starts in Chapter One and doesn't stop until the end. The thing I love about Koontz is that his books are more than horror and/or suspense; they are great character studies, too.
THE PACT by Jodi Picoult. This was my first Jodi Picoult novel and after finishing it I promptly headed for the bookstore to buy another of her titles. I literally could not put it down. I admit that I did question one key character's motivation for behaving the way he did, but that didn't keep me from staying glued to the pages until the end. A great read.
MY SISTER'S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult. Very intriguing premise. Beautiful writing. This author is difficult to categorize. This novel is literary in style, commercial in concept, a romance, a courtroom drama, suspense. I loved this book.
THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak. A cross-over novel -- meaning it appeals to and has been marketed to both a young adult audience and an adult audience. I was intrigued to see WWII through the eyes of a young German girl. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, wonderful story. READ IT. That's all I can say!
ON BLUE FALLS POND by Susan Crandall. This book was a 2007 RITA Award finalist in the Novel With Strong Romantic Elements category. Features a heroine tortured by a tragedy in her past, and a hero dealing with very real family difficulties in his present. I loved the small town setting and the true-to life characters and situations. A lovely story.
CHARMED AND DEADLY by Candace Havens. Candy Havens books are always fun and fast-paced and this one is no exception! The latest adventures of Bronwyn the kick-butt witch will keep you laughing as you continue to turn the pages late into the night!
Those are a few that come to mind at the moment. I'll post more as I remember them!
Monday, October 08, 2007
Hello, my name is Jennifer and I'm a blog-slacker. I have decided to own-up to this weakness instead of making excuses. And no more false promises of more frequent blogs, either. Here's the truth: I will post here when the mood strikes and/or I have something to say.
No, I didn't get a really bad haircut since we last spoke. The photo is of a llama my oldest son met up-close-and-personal in Bolivia. (He's studying Spanish in South America at the moment -- my son, not the llama.)
Now, on to business... Here is what I have to say today, and I have mixed feelings about the subject. On Tuesday night of last week, I spoke to one of the creative classes at my local community college. They were a great and attentive group, even though I didn't have a formal speech prepared, and so stood up front and told them my story, complete with off-hand thoughts and opinions, in a disjointed manner. The next day the teacher Mike Bellah, a talented writer himself, emailed and said what he had liked best about my talk was my honesty. Now, I've listened to plenty of authors speak when I was the student, and I know some of them try to paint a rosy picture of the writing business, and some give a very "together" professional talk complete with slideshow and power-point presentation that leaves me feeling like not only a blog-slacker but a slacker in general. But the speakers I like best are the ones who tell it like it is, without pretty-ing up the facts or, conversely, whining about how tough it is to be a writer just so they'll appear stalwart and oh-so important. I'm sure every published writer has a different story to tell, but I admire them all the more if they tell it honestly, even if it exposes a few warts and insecurities, so that's what I try to do. I mean, some of those students are considering getting into this crazy and unpredictable business professionally. Why should I pretend with them? I've been where they are. They are me, and vice-versa. Now...why am I telling you this, and what about those mixed feelings I mentioned?
Here's the truth about what's happening in my writing life at the moment, and it's not rosy. Harlequin released an announcement last week that as of February, the NeXt line will close. (You may or may not have noticed that my novels published over the past two and a half years were a part of the NeXt line.) I don't know much more than that smidgen of information at the moment. A lot is up in the air. For one thing, the fate of what was to be my March release THE GOOD STUFF a.k.a. WHAT SHE NEVER EXPECTED. I am also under contract for one more book that I was supposed to finish in April, entitled DEAR DIVAS. I've been informed that I should have more news this week...stay tuned.
Actually, I have been worried about the fate of NeXt for a long time. I have feared they weren't reaching their intended market -- readers who enjoy a good, mainstream story about women's lives. NeXt sales grew steadily, but too slowly for Harlequin to continue the line. So...it looks as though my December, 2007 book ANNIE ON THE LAM: A CHRISTMAS CAPER is to be my last NeXt release. I hope you'll look for it! Stop by my website www.jenniferarcher.net and check it out, complete with the first chapter. I'm sad the line fell through the cracks, but not surprised. I adore my editors at Harlequin. I loved the original NeXt concept and the fabulous mainstream covers the art department created, especially during the first year. But I'm telling myself that the old saying "when one door closes, another opens" will be true for me, as well as for the other fine NeXt authors. Most of the time, my gut tells me that's the case. But I've been doing this long enough to know that finding another publishing "home" might not be easy. It's tough and competitive out there in the world of writing! It's a good thing I'm tough, too. After all the rejection letters, snarky reviews, and painful critiques I've survived over the years, I have a thick and scaly alligator skin! Hmm. Alligator skin and shaggy llama hair. Writing fiction is hard on a girl in more ways than one!