Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Reviews: Why Did I Wait So Long?

You know how you hate to leap on a bandwagon because everyone is doing it? Usually this is because you are a perverse sort of person who hates to like anything everyone else likes. Like chocolate. But then invariably when most of the hub dies down, you decide to give it a whirl?

Sit down. I'm not talking about 50 SHADES OF GREY. You all are a suspicious lot. And I'm not even talking about HARRY POTTER, though that's my true example where I was an after the trend joiner. But this time it was Lisa Kleypas.

I love Lisa Kleypas--a great writer, lyrical, emotional, evocative. Love scenes that make the pages go up in flames. I would love to write like Lisa Kleypas. I remember when it was a big deal when she first wrote her first contemporary. Readers were all freaked out that 1) she wouldn't write historicals any longer and 2) what if they weren't as good. I think after everyone read SUGAR DADDY and BLUE EYED DEVIL, we were all feeling a little sheepish, right? I mean, how dumbass could you be?

But the newest contemporary series she's written aren't exactly like the first contemporaries she did. The first set was more a straight up contemporary, like a Kristan Higgins or Julie Garwood contemporary, but in Lisa's voice and style. But this second set even sets itself apart from the first contemporaries, being in trade back, and are like Barbara O'Neal or Elizabeth Berg, more literary women's fiction than contemporary romance. I think of these as more the Book Club kind of romance--the ones you're allowed to read in book club or recommend.

This series definitely focuses on the various forms of magic and otherworldly--you just can't predict everything or explain everything. In RAINSHADOW ROAD, the heroine is able to just manifest things into being; the heroine has her own special sort of magic.

The heroine in DREAM LAKE also has her own brand of magic: with cooking. So while this book is definitely Lisa Kleypas, you also feel the influences of Barbara O'Neal and Like Water For Chocolate among the pages. The hero has his own problems: he's being haunted by a ghost who doesn't know who he is. There's some definite notes of The Notebook as well. I just love seeing the influences that I think reflects in the author's writing.

The other big influence I think I see here is her husband. I remember a blog Lisa wrote about her husband, where they were first starting to date, he came to pick her up and he was at her house, sitting on her couch, looking at the pictures of her cats and the various cat-lady-weirdness she had going on, and he was like, "Yeah, it's a good thing I'm here." *LOL* This hero is definitely that kind of guy, of balancing out the cat-lady-weirdness of the heroine that is rather hilarious. The heroine has this Persian cat and he's quite a character. *LOL* Very jealous of attention and the heroine does entertaining things to keep her cat stress free like, gives it massages.

I know we read stories to be entertained for our own sake, but does anyone ever read new books by a beloved author and see the every day things you know about that person come out in their writing? Does it amuse you or does it jerk you too much out of the story? What do you think your writing says about you? Has anyone else read RAINSHADOW ROAD and DREAM LAKE and loved them?

22 comments:

Maureen said...

I recently re-read some Judi McCoy. Books I'd read before I got to know her. But reading them this time, I saw so much of Judi's likes and dislikes in it. It was a bit of a hug from her.

I think it's fun reading the 'Castle' books because they are full of stuff that you recognize from the series. From the character that I've gotten to know from the television series...

TerriOsburn said...

I want to read DREAM LAKE so bad! I didn't read the first in the series (though I have it thanks to Janga) but they made it into a movie that's airing Dec. 9 so I'm going to watch it. I ADORED Rainshadow Road and Dream Lake will be next on my list. Once I finish this Higgins book, which is killing me. I just want to hug these characters!

I know Eloisa James puts a lot of whatever she's going through into her books when she writes them, but it still feels like it just happened naturally in the telling of the story. Not sure I know anyone else well enough to recognize these kinds of things in their work.

Though after spending a little time with Ms. Higgins at Nationals, her books are totally her voice and personality. Which explains why they're so funny and delicious.

Janga said...

I'm a big Lisa Kleypas fan and generally like whatever she writes, but I have a particular fondness for the Friday Harbor books because of Kleypas's use of magic realism. I thought of Like Water for Chocolate and Sarah Addison Allen's books, all of which I love, when I read Rainshadow Road especially, and thus felt a certain satisfaction when Kleypas said in an interview that she was influenced by Esquivel and Allen.

Like Terri, I have found certain things in Eloisa James books that connect to things I know about her life. For example, the heroine of The Ugly Duchess speaks a line about longing for her mother that had added poignance for me since I knew EJ's mother's death was fairly recent. Certainly I thought of Manda Collins's own courage when I read about the heroine's disability in How to Romance a Rake.

P. Kirby said...

I read Rainshadow Road based, I think, on a recommendation from Terri, here at this blog. I liked it a lot. It wasn't a keeper, but I liked the touches of magical realism, the bits about gardening and art. Very sweet. If I recall the next book is about the hero's (from RR) brother, who, annoyed me. So I'm skipping that one.

I don't know enough about most authors to see aspects of them in their books. But I've found that some authors definitely have a kind of geographical affinity. To the extent, that as a reader, I can tell they really know and love a locale. So I often identify them with that location. For example, New Jersey always makes me think Janet Evanovich.

Are you the one who recommended Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone? If so, I'm reading it now and really, really, like it. (It was just $2.99 for Kindle, recently.)

MsHellion said...

Mo, it is a lot like getting a hug from a favorite author.

MsHellion said...

Eloisa is another one where I recognize bits from her life in her books. The bit with the Justin Bieber character nearly made me pee my pants. Hilarious.

I think it's interesting how our voices really reflect us. I don't give it nearly the credit it deserves!

MsHellion said...

thus felt a certain satisfaction when Kleypas said in an interview that she was influenced by Esquivel and Allen.

I haven't read Allen's books but clearly I need to but the food scenes in this book (and in Rainshadow so screamed "Like Water for Chocolate" for me and that was such a meaningful book to me that I love seeing its influence in other books.

I hadn't thought of Eloisa's mother's death when I read that (or I don't think I did), but I do think of Harry Potter and his mother whenever I think of JK Rowling and how much she misses her mother. Whenever I read Harry Potter, though I don't know JK Rowling at all, I feel like on some gut level I do...

MsHellion said...

P.Kirby! Ha! Yes, this is the book about that brother, so skip...but he does turn out to be okay. *LOL* I rather liked the ghost a lot. I sorta hung on more for him, though I thought the writing was very beautiful to read.

Yes, I was the Smoke & Bone person! I still love that book; very glad the 2nd book in that series is coming out very soon (next month I think!)

Interesting you bring up geography. I know this series (Kleypas) takes place in a region where she lives now and I think it shows. And I agree with other books where the author lives and the characters do too, I think it shows...and this worries me because I'm writing about Montana and NEVER BEEN THERE. *LOL*

Maureen said...

Well, you can have a love of a general geographic romance...uh, area.

I have so dug when authors write about places I've been. Or want to go. Craig Johnson does that for Wyoming. So does C. J. Box. Nevada Barr for National Parks in general... Wow, I could name a dozen or more books based on where they're set and how well they are done...

TerriOsburn said...

Nora has said on many occasions she sets stories in places she's never been and her characters do jobs she's never done. And they still come to life right off that page as if she's writing from that town and has a degree in that occupation. You're fine.

JulieJustJulie said...

What do you think your writing says about you?
*innocent look* ... because I am, innocent that is...
What little I write, and the even less that i share, probably says that I lead a quiet, rather uneventful life. Abet a life filled with paradoxes, serendipitous occurrences, and more than the occasional hard lesson.

JulieJustJulie said...

"I think it's interesting how our voices really reflect us."

Really, how could they not? And why wouldn't you want it tooooo? Even if the real you is watered down, or distilled, it is still you. Maybe the best of you, or the most seductive, or whatever it is that you want your writing to reveal about you ( which is what makes me skittish about writing btw) That IMO is why a reader is draw to certain writer’s work, no matter the genre.

MsHellion said...

Really, how could they not? And why wouldn't you want it tooooo?

Because I always wanted to be cooler than I am, Jules. That's all. I can't imagine why anyone would want to hear my voice; I can't stand to hear it on the phone. It makes me shudder in distaste.

I do like some things I say that other people think are funny; I think other things I said that I thought were funny but no one else did are still funny...but I can't imagine anyone ever thinking of me and going, "Gosh, that sounds just like her" and being glad of it. It's like being recognized. I usually want to respond, "OH, you want to acknowledge you know me? That's different."

MsHellion said...

Mo, I'm not as traveled as you, but there are a handful of places I've been that I get excited if I know what they're talking about. New York, Boston, St. Louis, Chicago...

MsHellion said...

Thanks, Terr, I clearly need the reassurance. Every. Five. Seconds. I am wayyyyy too needy. *LOL* It's why I'm a writer. I'm way too needy to ever be anything else.

quantum said...

I'm still reading Kleypas's back-list. There are some fabulous series. She really is a wonderful writer. Everything she writes ends up on my TBB, preferably in audio.

Fabulous review Hellie ... but I'm already a disciple!

I don't know any published romance authors personally (internet doesn't count!) so can't claim to recognise everyday things about them. I do however think that an author's fiction reveals a great deal about them as a person. If I was looking for an author as a wife I can think of no better way of choosing than by reading their fiction ... and not just for the free books! LOL

JulieJustJulie said...

Because I always wanted to be cooler than I am, Jules."

See, what you don't realize is that you are Cool. Coolness is like Doritos, there are a lot of flavors/types out there. If There was only one kind of cool out there, then coolness would become synominus with boring.

"That's all. I can't imagine why anyone would want to hear my voice; I can't stand to hear it on the phone. It makes me shudder in distaste.

I am going to quote my self here:
"Honestly? I believe that most women are rather clueless about the things that other people really find attractive about them. Know why I think that is ?

They are not Their Type!"

MsHellion said...

Q, I'm with you--I love hearing Kleypas' contemporaries on audio. It's how I "read" Sugar Daddy the first time and it was so brilliant.

And if that's your criteria, I don't know any author PERSONALLY...all the ones I sorta know are by internet!

Wait, wait, Dee S. Knight--but her writing didn't pull so much from her life that I could see. Most of my comparisons are from stories and such that are shared at blogs or conferences vs what are in books. So I am comparing two different sources...primary even, just not monkeys in a lab or anything, taking the notes myself.

You know what I mean.

No one is a monkey.

MsHellion said...

They are not Their Type

The truest thing I've read in a while. *LOL* And why we can't imagine why we'd be anyone else's type.

irisheyes said...

Ditto on the Eloisa James thing. Knowing her (thru the internet) I've smiled at a few of her references or character traits she's given some of her heroes and/or heroines.

I've read and loved everything Lisa Kleypas has done. Even her earlier works that she has said repeatedly she would rather not have re-published showed her talent. I'm not a huge paranormal fan and therefore went into the Friday Harbor series a little skeptical, but as others have stated - her little additions of magic and whimsy only added to already solid, heartwarming storytelling. I absolutely loved the ghost storyline in DREAMLAKE.

MsHellion said...

Irish, I'm so glad you loved the ghost storyline too!

Maureen said...

I think having someone say they know it was your writing because they recognized your voice would be a great compliment. Even if they hated your voice.

It's like when I worked the bookstore and some customers told me if I wrote a good review for a book, they knew not to buy it.

I got it! Meant they didn't like what I liked, but we all knew it. For them, I was the anti-reveiw.

Humor is a twisty thing. I don't know how many movies I've been to where I'm stifling my laughter while everyone else around me is silent.

I think I'd recognize your voice, Hel. In all good ways!