Saturday, April 30, 2005

Mystery Chick Lit or Chick Lit Mysteries?

I think that Chick Lit is definitely here to stay. It seems like every month, the number of them being published increases. It is starting to filter in small ways into other genres, particularly into mainstream romance. Jessica Benson's book The Accidental Duchess was a historical/chick lit hybrid. Then you've got mommy lit and hen lit which branched off from chick lit. Inspirational fiction has also picked up it's own chick lit arm. Romance has definitely got a new chick lit infusion, especially when you look at the success of MaryJanice Davidson. Liz Maverick had a chick lit-y book called Adventures of an Ice Princess.

The mystery/chick lit hybrid is one that I have noticed as well. Brava has started that new Wicked Women line which has a lot of mystery/chick lit books. Here are a few of the mysteries from chick lit publishers, Red Dress Ink and Downtown Press, that I am looking at:

Lethal by Shari Shattuck
Downtown Press, June 05
Los Angeles socialite Callaway Wilde is having her day in court -- on jury duty, that is: even supremely wealthy heiresses accustomed to the good life still have to serve in the name of justice. But on a break from the courtroom, while browsing the hushed, upscale shops of the city's Little Japan district, Cally encounters a crime-in-progress: a beautiful young Asian woman is being assaulted by a menacing thug -- and when Cally steps in to exact a little justice of her own, she takes a bullet for her troubles. Luckily, the $600 Japanese art book Cally purchased on a whim deflected the round -- confirming the importance of impulse shopping. Unluckily, the mystery behind Aya, the alluring medical student Cally rescued, has only just begun. Uncovering Aya's shadowed past is a dangerous proposition for Cally and her irresistibly sexy detective-lover Evan Paley. An even more dangerous proposition is getting closer to Evan -- Cally knows he's the one, but is she ready to trade in their open-door policy for a lifetime commitment and risk needing someone that much? The future may be decided for her as she and Evan descend into a lethal world of drugs, murder, and the sensual secrets of the geisha....

The Pact by Jennifer Sturman
Red Dress Ink, Dec 04
Rachel Benjamin and her friends aren't looking forward to Emma's wedding. The groom is a rat, and nobody can understand what Emma sees in him. So when he turns up dead in the morning of the ceremony, no one in the wedding party is all that upset. Not even Emma. Rachel, who had the good fortune to find Richard floating facedown in the pool, is feeling as if she's woken up in an Agatha Christie novel. It doesn't help that everyone around her seems to have a motive for murder. So, while the cops detain Emma's family and friends at her isolated Adirondacks compound for the weekend, Rachel, an investment banker by trade, makes like Miss Marple (minus the gray hair and sensible shoes) and does some digging of her own. Her investigation gets especially tricky when Peter Forrest, the too-good-to-be-true best man, turns out to be the number-one love interest and her number-one suspect. And Rachel can't help remembering the solemn pact she and her friends made back in college--a promise to rescue each other from bad relationships, using any means required. Has someone taken the pact too far?

Sex, Murder and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis
Red Dress Ink, May 05
When a mystery writer cries bloody murder, everyone blames her overactive imagination . . . Thriller scribe Sophie Katz is as hard-boiled as a woman who drinks Grande Caramel Brownie Frappuccinos can be -- maybe it's from a lifetime of fielding dumb comments about her half-black, half-Jewish ethnicity. ("My sister married a Polynesian! I just love your culture!") So Sophie knows it's not paranoia, or post-divorce, living-alone-again jitters, when she becomes convinced that a crazed reader is sneaking into her apartment to reenact scenes from her books. The police, however, can't tell a good plot from an unmarked grave. When a filmmaker friend is brutally murdered in the manner of a death scene in one of his movies, Sophie becomes convinced that a copycat killer is on the loose -- and that she's the next target. If she doesn't solve the mystery, her own bestseller will spell out her doom. Cursing her imagination (why, oh, why did she have to pick the axe?), Sophie engages in some real-life gumshoe tactics. The man who swoops in to save her in dark alleys at night is mysterious new love interest Anatoly Darinsky. Of course, if this were fiction, Anatoly would be her prime suspect . . .

Dating Can Be Deadly by Wendy Roberts
Red Dress Ink, Feb 05
Some gifts are easy to return-like the parrot earrings from Aunt Ruth-but when your gift is clairvoyance, Tabitha Emery finds there is a definite No Refund Policy. Now she's having visions of black magic rituals and dismembered bodies, and she's not sure what to do. She didn't ask for this talent and certainly doesn't want it, but it clings to her like a thong and is just as uncomfortable. Tabitha's goals are simple ones: A) to rise above law office receptionist B) to spend Friday nights uncovering the mysteries of butterscotch schnapps with her comrades, and C) to procure more than a passing glance from Clay Sanderson (Greek-god-type lawyer). But her second sight has turned her life upside down-and now she finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation where the only clues are in her persistent premonitions-making her not only the key to solving the mystery but perhaps a suspect, as well. (On the plus side: she could use some legal advice, so now she and Clay have something to talk about.) And somewhere in the middle of all this is the real culprit, the mystery man, who wants this clairvoyant dead. .

Dirty Little Secrets by Julie Leto
Downtown Press, June 05
When Marisela Morales sets out to stop her ex-boyfriend Francisco Vega from skipping out on bail, she has a secret agenda: revenge. She hasn't seen Frankie in ten years, and back then, he broke her heart, choosing his gang over his girl. So when she tracks him down in their old haunt, a hot dance club in Tampa, she sets about seducing him into her trap. Frankie has a secret agenda, too, and Marisela soon faces a tough choice: continue drifting through her twentysomething life -- hitting the same town with the same girlfriends every weekend while struggling to find a job and pay the rent -- or dive headfirst into danger with her ex. Frankie operates in a treacherous underworld full of arms dealers, assassins, and sinister agendas -- a world overrun with people keeping dirty little secrets -- and only Marisela has the cojones to fight her way to the truth.

The Givenchy Code by Julie Kenner
Downtown Press, June 05
As if a recent break-up, scrounging for rent money, and lusting after designer shoes weren't enough to make graduate student Melanie Prescott's life challenging, suddenly she's practically living The DaVinci Code. A mysterious stranger is sending obscure codes and clues her way and she soon discovers she has to solve them in order to stay alive. With stakes like that, her dissertation on "the derivation and primary characteristics of codes and ciphers used by prevailing nations during wartime" is looking a little less important than it was yesterday. Right now she's just worrying about living to see tomorrow. The only bright spot in the whole freakish nightmare is Matthew Stryker, the six-foot tall dark and handsome stranger who's determined to protect her. Well, that and the millions of dollars that will be her reward if she survives this deadly game. And she'd better survive. Because that's a heck of a lot of money to be able to spend on shoes and handbags and sunglasses and dresses, and, well, it's hard to be fashionable when you're dead.

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Killer Summer by Lynda Curnyn
Red Dress Ink, June 05
Three friends. One dead body.
The summer they'll never forget . . .
Sharing a beach house on Fire Island seems like a killer way for best friends Zoe, Sage and Nick to spend summer together. But just as they're dreaming of sunset margaritas and late-night barbecues, the body of their house hostess washes up on the beach. Talk about a buzz kill . . .
Now all Zoe can think about is why the "grieving" husband is planning parties rather than mourning his wife. Nick suddenly has secrets he can't tell a soul. And Sage is trying to score booty as if it's her last summer on earth . . . which it just might be. Because despite the ocean views and endless parties, Zoe, Sage and Nick have stopped wondering if the good times will last and started wondering if they will . . .

Chick Lit I'm Thinking About

Up until now I've pretty much avoided Chick Lit. I've read a couple here and there, but I admit that I've been bad and bought into the stereotypes you sometimes hear about it: they're shallow, they only talk about shopping, the characters are all self-absorbed, they sleep around.

Shallow or self-absorbed would bug me. Some is okay; everybody is somewhat self-absorbed. But not a whole novel full of it. Shopping would bug me too. A little mention of clothes, shoes, etc. here or there is okay, but not whole books centered around it. I'm not into shopping IRL, I'm not into it in books. Sleeping around is tough. I don't have a problem with sex in books -- I like sex in books. I even sometimes like multiple partners -- I think it can be more realistic depending on the character. But I don't like reading about someone who sleeps around because she has no self-esteem or thinks she has got to get married now so she's got to sleep with every guy she meets hoping he'll magically fall in love with her like in a romance novel.

Anyway, I'm trying to give the genre a chance and I've seen a few that look interesting. Anybody read/know anything about any of these titles?

Friday, April 29, 2005

RTB Shakeup...

But not much of one.

Alison Kent and Emma Gads move to Guest positions. -- I'm guessing this probably has something to do with the whole fiasco a month or so ago. Looks kinda like they're backing off RTB, which is too bad 'cause I thought their columns were decent most of the time.

Brenda Coulter added as a columnist. -- Good, an inspirational author. An author who is thoughtful and not afraid of speaking her opinion. I don't always agree with her, but I'm glad to see her listed.

Monica Jackson added as a columnist. -- I think this is great. I love her blog. I don't always agree with her but she's funny, interesting, and not afraid to talk about tough topics. And RTB needs this extra bit of diversity. Romance needs it even more.

Added as Guests:
Anna Genoese -- Another editor is always a good thing. She is an editor at the edge of romance as well, so it should be interesting to see her take. Too bad she's just a guest. Are these just one-time things?
Candy Tan -- One more reader for RTB. Why oh why not a columnist? Judging by the frequency and opinionation of posting on her own blog, I'd think she have the time and ideas. They need more straight-out readers at RTB, and more diversity, and she would fit for both.
Sheila Kelly -- Also love her blog. She's not a real public person, so I'm not surprised to see her just as a guest, though I for one would have loved to see her as a regular.
William Lambert -- A man at RTB! Whatever will we do? I think this is great. We need a man's opinion. And here is a man who knows the romance genre.

Overall I'm underwhelmed by the changes. Only two new regulars, and though I like their stuff, they are YET MORE AUTHORS. What is with the author-heavy bias over there? There are readers out there, guys! Find more of them, or in the end it will just seem like a bunch of authors telling everyone what to think. And romance doesn't need any more of that.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

RWR Brouhaha

Well, another day in the online romance community, another blow-up. And as someone who goes to the movies specifically to see things explode and who thought the coolest part of basic training was the grenade range, I have to say I'm fascinated by following these things. First we had the RITA thing, then the RTB thing, and now the RWR thing. Lots of acronyms, starting to look like the US military/government complex. Anyhow, here's who's weighed in so far:

Now, what I'd really like to hear about is one of these authors writing a rebuttal in the next RWR and basically telling Ms. Gentry to screw off (I would myself, but she doesn't have an actual website or email available -- that I can find). But, I imagine I'll be waiting forever 'cause most romance authors are just so dang nice to each other. But if somebody does write a rebuttal, please please please tell me!

And all of this brouhaha over an article I can't even read! I want to read the WHOLE THING! WHAAA! But in order to read it, I'd have to join RWA. Let's see. RWA=$100.

But I'm still trying to save the money to join ALA, which is probably more important because it actually has something to do with my job. Let's see. ALA=$100 (with roundtables and divisions for support staff). And I need to join MLA as well, since well, that's where I live and work. And MLA=$30.

RWA -- $100
ALA -- $100
MLA -- $30
Knowing what's going on when everything blows up online -- Priceless

Movies to Look Forward To, Part Vier

The Cave: A bunch of people I don't really know in this one, which could be good or bad, depending on the direction. A group of cave explorers go into the world's largest cave system and are attacked by undescribed monsters. Has a lot in common with Jeff Long's book The Descent, but supposedly that is being made into a separate movie. August 26th

Crash: A huge and recognizable cast, so obviously this is one that the PTB are interested in. I am curious about how all of these egos will work together and whether what results is crap (which sometimes happens in these ensemble movies) or good, which I would expect from the talented actors involved. May 6th

The Legend of Zorro: Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones both return for this sequel to The Mask of Zorro. It is interesting to see this sequel being done after a few years. Same director as well. October 28th

Must Love Dogs: Based on Claire Cook's book, which I heard good things about, though I haven't read because I have a hard time finding chick lit that I like, so I kind of gave up. But, I'll see the movie. John Cusack (who I think is cute and a good actor) and Diane Lane. July 29th

Night Watch: A subtitled Russian movie which sounds interesting and will be released in the US. From Yahoo movies: This is the first part of a three-film series, from a trilogy of novels: 'Night Watch,' 'Day Watch' and 'Dawn Watch.' (Which reminds me of Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, and Dawn of the Dead). Also from Yahoo movies: Set in contemporary Moscow, NIGHT WATCH revolves around the conflict and balance maintained between the forces of light and darkness -- the result of a medieval truce between the opposing sides. As night falls, the dark forces battle the super-human "Others" of the Night Watch, whose mission is to patrol and protect. But there is constant fear that an ancient prophecy will come true: that a powerful "Other" will rise up, be tempted by one of the sides, and tip the balance plunging the world into a renewed war between the dark and light, the results of which would be catastrophic. Limited release July 29th

A Scanner Darkly: Lots of people dislike Keanu Reeves, and I have to admit he's not the best actor, but he picks interesting movies. Based on a Phillip K. Dick novel, which should me lots of cool futuristic stuff and a nice thought-provoking idea at the heart of the story. Still a bit away, March 2006

Sky High: Set in a world where the children of superheroes all go to one high school, poor Will is the son of the world's greatest superheroes (Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston) but has no superpowers of his own. I think these post-superhero stories are interesting (The Incredibles and the book Those Who Walk in Darkness by John Ridley) so I am looking forward to this one. July 29th

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bisexuality in Romance

I'm actually kind of amazed to see this subject brought up at Wendy's blog because it is so ignored. Like Wendy, the women I know in real life are more diverse and more adventurous than the women/girls in romanceland. I haven't read a girl/girl scene in any kind of romance yet, though I heard that one of the Luna's has bisexual relationships, if not actual sex. Maybe The Compass Rose by Gail Dayton? I checked it out from the library, but haven't read it yet. And like Wendy, Emma Holly's Velvet Glove (which Candy said has a girl/girl scene) is now on the top of my list as well.

Oh, the excerpt from M. J. Rose's first book for Harlequin's Spice line is a girl/girl scene, so it seems Harlequin is going to be open to it.

In AAR's Demographic survey a few months ago, they had a sexuality question. Of nearly 700 respondents, 98% identified as straight, none as gay, and only 2% as bisexual. That's only 14 people. Which is probably low, because I'm sure there are some who lied (though I doubt it's low by a whole lot). I would also assume that if the idea that AAR's readership is more liberal than the general readership is true, then that would mean that there are very few bisexual women reading romance at all.

I think this is also partly a generational thing. Yeah, the 60s was the "free love" period and all, but it seems like the idea is that it was okay then, but not now, and only so much anyway. Younger generations (like mine and the up-and-coming) seem to have more freedom with sexual experimentation. Not sleeping around so much (though that's okay in many circles as well), but being open to other options and/or feelings for people that might once have been considered impossible.

I have read a couple of non-fiction books that were interesting: Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America and Intimate Friends: Women who Loved Women 1778-1928. I'd love to see some historical authors tackle the issues brought up in these books.

It seems like bisexuality is in a way the "New Gay". Nobody talks about it, very little is written about it (and what little is written is about bisexual men) in either fiction or non-fiction. Romance writers (even the erotic ones) won't touch it. I'd love to see it dealt with more openly and fairly.

What Kind of American English do You Speak?

I don't usually do these things, but I though this one was interesting: What Kind of American English do you speak?

I think most Americans who grew up in the West probably would have this kind of mixture. It's such a conglomeration of different types of speech, and really has the hallmarks of none of them. I thought it was funny that I have 0% Midwestern, because that is where I live now, but I don't feel like I really stand out. One of the speech patterns around here that I notice though is that when people say "wash" it sounds like "warsh", which is really odd.

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English

15% Yankee

10% Upper Midwestern

5% Dixie

0% Midwestern

Serenity Trailer Now Online!

I haven't seen a movie poster to add to my Movies to Look Forward To listing, but I am really, really, really looking forward to this movie. Firefly was a great series; I hate that it ended so quickly and abruptly. I'm glad that TPTB decided to make a movie, but it is bittersweet. Anyway, the awesome trailer is now online here.

Serenity Cast Photo Posted by Hello

Anime News and DVDs I picked up

The Disney website, with a trailer, is now up for Howl's Moving Castle. I'm really looking forward to this Miyazaki release.

The first disk of a new (to the US) anime series called Gilgamesh will be out on June 21st. It sounds pretty interesting. Here's the blurb:

Enter the world of Gilgamesh. Where the sky has been turned into a psychedelic mirror and civilization is only a shadow of its former self. Where beautiful assassins transform into terrifying winged creatures. Where children are born with amazing powers. And where a brother and sister are hunted by organizations with dark agendas. Gorgeous animation, breakthrough character designs, and stunning visuals make this suspenseful, addictive tale of mystery, magic, and espionage the first gothic anime masterpiece of the new millennium.

I found an interesting bit of information at Anime News Network today. An American company is going to try to translate the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series' to manga format. I was a huge fan of these as a kid, so it will be interesting to see how this idea turns out.

Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys "Manga" (2005-04-26 20:03:08)
Papercutz, an imprint of independent comic-book publisher NBM, is releasing american-produced, manga-style versions of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. NBM founder and CEO, Terry Nantier, told the Book Standard, "We’re not trying to imitate Japanese-style stories. We’re using the manga style because that’s what kids know. We’re trying to capitalize on the fact that kids are coming back to comic books in significant numbers.” Thanks to Uryu Ishida for this info.

I also picked up three new anime shows on DVD last week: Hellsing, Gantz, and Gungrave. These are all Volume 1 of ongoing series'. I watched Hellsing already and enjoyed it, though sometimes Victoria is annoying. Anybody watched any of these? They are all fairly on the violent side, but I tend to lean more toward the violent, adult choices more than the anime primarily aimed at kids. Though I have enjoyed some of those as well.