The Rest Falls Away

by Colleen Gleason

I’m not a huge fan of the Regency period, and especially not a fan of Regency romances. All those demure teas and heaving bosoms tend to cause a lot of eye-rolling around here. When an author takes the time to visit my blog, however, and pitch her own work, without being at all arrogant, but just being another blogger, I take note. Colleen Gleason left a comment here a few weeks back, and even though the period her Gardella Vampire Hunter series is set in is not my favorite, I’m a sucker for bloodsuckers being offed by spunky heroines, so HAD to check out her work.

The Rest Falls Away introduces us to Victoria Gardella Grantworth, debutante (though a little older than the other young women coming out that year, due to family issues), and the latest to be called to the family tradition of vampire hunting. In this – being chosen rather than doing the choosing – she is not unlike the more modern Buffy, whom the author herself notes is an influence.

What follows, once Victoria takes up her stake and commits to her destiny, is not bodice ripping (a little slow unbuttoning, perhaps…) or bosom heaving, but a realistic presentation of what a female action hero would have had to deal with if living in such a time. Skirts not meant for running and fighting, pants not acceptable on the female form, sleeves meant to be frothy rather than fitted…fashion alone is a major issue, and not just in terms of where one can hide a stake.

There is, of course, requisite romance with Phillip, the Marquess of Rockley, and – as always happens when one of the characters is a hero – romance is not a reward as much as yet another thing to be balanced and protected, or pushed aside when a life must be saved.

Gleason’s characters all ring true, even those like Sebastian the owner of the vamp-friendly bar who are a bit over the top, and her plot moves at a comfortable pace. Maybe I was inspired in part by the season – I’m writing this review having just given the last of my candy to a stray trick-or-treater, after all – but not only could I not put this book down, I’m already a third of the way through the sequel.

You’ll note Ms. Gleason’s presence in my blogroll. You’d do well to include her works on your shelves.

Halloween Hit List: Carpe Demon (& Sequels)

Since it’s Halloween week, I thought I’d spotlight some of my favorite books with monsters, vampires, and other supernatural themes. As it’s Monday, and I’ve got a slight cold (just enough to make me crabby) I thought I’d start with a lighter offering.

Julie Kenner’s Demon Hunter
books, which began with Carpe Demon are all about Kate: wife, mother, and secret demon hunter who has to balance raising a teenager, keeping her young son from her second marriage in baby clothes, helping her husband’s career, and, oh, yeah, killing demons in places like Wal-Mart and the school basement.

Along the way, she drags in a good friend, and has many adventures of both the comic and creepy sorts, with some great sale items picked up along the way.

If you’re tired of the protagonists in such books being teenagers and college students, and want to read about a horror heroine with chick-lit sensibilities, you must check these out.


Star Trek: The Next Generation - Q & A

by Keith R. A. DeCandido

The thing about Star Trek novels, for me, is that they’re sort of like Caribbean cruises: you get a taste of the exotic, but you do so from a safe, comfortable environment.

Keith R. A. DeCandido’s Q & A, his latest addition to the Star Trek: the Next Generation collection is no exception. In fact, it’s like the part of the cruise that involves fruity drinks with cute umbrellas and dancing into the night, and that, really, is how it should be.

In this novel, we see a different side of Q, the part that actually has a purpose, and a motivation beyond just having fun – though fun is never ignored if it comes up – but we also get to have some emotional closure for the loss of Data in Nemesis, as Geordi warms to the woman who has his friend’s old job, and some story swapping and healthy reminiscing goes on. We have Picard and Beverly Crusher in an actual, healthy relationship, and we have the usual saving the universe story, and all that is wonderful.

But then DeCandido transcends wonderful, by mixing in references not just to every single appearance by Q in the television canon – EVER – but also by relating the plot to key moments from the show that many of us would never have expected.

If you’re any kind of fan, you’ll appreciate the in-jokes. If you’re not, you’ll still enjoy the story. Either way, for a good time, read Star Trek the Next Generation: Q & A as soon as you can.

Five For Friday: Formulaic.

While I confess, I’ve been known to mock formula romances like those offered by Silhouette and Harlequin, I also recognize that they’re great for quick escapist reading, perfect for the bathtub, and have helped a lot of really good writers get their starts in the industry. Besides, it’s a market dominated by women, and that’s never a bad thing.

For this week’s Five for Friday, then, I offer five characteristics of formula romance heroes:

  1. They’re handy. If they don’t have a workshop full of Ingersoll Rand air tools that they use with ease, they at least know how to change a tire, unclog a sink, and chop firewood, all without ever staining their shirts.
  2. They cook. Granted it’s usually one meal like steak or an omelet, but they do it really well, and are proud of their achievement in the kitchen.
  3. They twinkle. Oh, I don’t mean Dumbledore-esque twinkling, I mean that there’s a reason some people call these books “twinkling brown eyes” novels.
  4. They’re debt free. Oh, they might have business trouble, or they might be poor, but you never read about them freaking over not being able to pay their Visa bill.
  5. They communicate with their mothers. There’s just something about romance novel heroes and their mothers – they all have parents who give good advice that they actually listen to, or who manage to somehow help them seal the deal with the heroines of these novels, who generally don’t have mothers of their own.


Writing about having to throw out a piece of luggage on my main blog the other day has me thinking about literary luggage. Yes, another list, but as I’m a little muzzy-headed I’m not committing to a number.

  1. Jane in A Dangerous Dress has her luggage stolen (she thinks) early in the novel, and is mortified because her grandmother’s dress is in it.
  2. Anne in Anne of Green Gables arrives on-scene with a very old carpetbag, with one handle that is partly broken. She manages to find romance even in that.
  3. Speaking of carpetbags, we can’t forget The Importance of Being Earnest and a plot twist involving one, or rather, a valise, as well as a lost baby.
  4. Hemingway’s Suitcase is a novel that doesn’t just feature a suitcase, but a stolen suitcase that contained everything Hemingway had written up to 1923, which is found by an author decades later in Los Angeles.
  5. And finally, another carpetbag – one owned by a Miss Mary Poppins – that must have been somehow multidimensional, because it held simply everything.

Reading Moods

A blog-buddy of mine posted an entry, recently, in which she stated that she’s not having a good relationship with books right now. I know what she means – I go through stages where I’m just not in the mood to read anything, and when I try I end up wanting to fling the book away from me and spend a week in a Hawaii bed and breakfast doing nothing but sunbathe, swim, and sleep. No books, no computer….well…no books.

Except of course that travel makes me want to read. I don’t know what it is. We went to France a few years ago at Christmas, and what I remember most (other than the gay potters who adopted me) are the long evenings in the 2nd floor lounge, curled up near the radiator, reading and sipping tea. I’d brought seven novels with me, intended for my mother to bring home with her. Instead, I re-read all of them while we were there, handing each to her as I finished.

One of those books was a favorite of mine, Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks. I reviewed it here a while ago, I think, but I can’t be bothered to look up the link at the moment. Reading about bread making in a funky house in France is the height of literary romanticism.

Although Hawaii would be warmer…

Bookish Bathrooms

I confess. I read in the bathroom – a lot. In fact, a frequent admonishment when I was a kid is one I now use with Fuzzy when he’s taking forever (thankfully with three bathrooms this doesn’t usually affect me in anything but an annoyance sort of way.): Put the book DOWN. I know we’re not alone in this – there’s a reason people nickname this room the Reading Room.

This has me thinking about bathroom decor, and literary bathrooms. We know that Laura in Little House on the Prairie used an outhouse, and that when she and her family were in hiding, Anne Frank was limited to sponge baths and a pull-chain WC, but what about more modern, luxurious fictional bathrooms. I’m offering four of my favorites, but feel free to add your own.

  1. V. I. Warshawski’s bathroom. I don’t recall specific descriptions, but I know she has a tub big enough to soak in. In fact, this is one of the things that draws me to her creator, Sara Paretsky’s work: yes, her heroine gets dirty and bruised, but at the end of the day, she gets to listen to opera and soak in a bubble bath. Or at least at the end of the case. I see her tub as a vintage cast iron claw-foot thing, with one of those trays across it to hold soap.
  2. Jean-Claude’s bathroom. Big, white, lots of tile, and a tub large enough for one of my favorite fictional vampires and many friends, or just Anita, who has spent many many hours in his tub. For that matter, she’s spent a lot of time washing off monster goo or just taking relaxing soaks in her own tub, but even if Laurell K. Hamilton didn’t specify it, I’m pretty certain her tubs are of the modern, pre-fab, variety.
  3. The Multidimensional Bathroom aboard the Gay Deceiver in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast. This book isn’t the best literature – I mean, Heinlein is fun, but hardly arty, you know? And he can be more than a little sexist, but in this book he did introduce us to the concept of “world-as-myth” aka “pantheistic solipsism” which defines as “the theory that universes are created by the act of imagining them, so that somewhere even fictional worlds are real.” In any case, the Gay Deceiver is a sports car space ship, and after her crew makes a pitstop in Oz, they find that their bathroom has become a pocket of Oz, with a huge tub, lots of space, and separate sections for “boys” and “girls” – because we all know Oz is a place of innocence.
  4. The Prefects’ Bathroom at Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling may like to tease her readers, even after the series has ended, with tidbits about the characters, but the woman also knows how to build a bathroom. A tub deep enough to swim in, a pesky mermaid portrait, and taps with bubbles and scents pouring forth. Sadly she wastes this bathroom on Harry. I mean, I like the kid, but this is a bathroom that really needs a woman – or Draco Malfoy – to appreciate it.

So that’s my list.
Any thoughts?

More on the Dream Library

When I wrote about what I wanted to do with our library the other day, I neglected to talk about where I wanted to get the shelving we need. Now, please understand, I have no problem with discount furniture, especially for things like shelves and tables – stuff you don’t sleep in – because furniture is expensive, and shelving especially so, I think because it uses more wood.

My dream library has built-ins, rather than free-standing shelves. A good friend of the family had a shelving-and-entertainment console built when she and her husband moved into their “retirement” home, and I fell in love with it. It was sturdy enough for Fuzzy’s big gaming books (which I still think should be in his office) and pretty enough to be, well, nice to look at. It also had lighting built in, which is great for highlighting nick-knacks, as well as for discerning titles.

I figure, as long as I’m planning the dream library, I should be specific.


Writing about cabinet hardware on my main blog has me super-aware of the fact that our house is filled with stacks of books, not because we’re making a decorating statement by making piles of paperbacks or covering the floors in acres of hardcovers, but because we still haven’t bought enough shelving.

We want the library to be more functional, but we can’t commit to actually doing something about it.

Well, no more!
I’m declaring open warfare on the Stacks, and by the end of January 2008, we will have a library that isn’t an embarrassment.

I want it to be a sunny open space. I want a faux mantle and an electric fire on the one short wall, and shelves floor to ceiling around the rest of the room, leaving space for the couch and coffee table. I want throw pillows. I like the fact that the room is carpeted, but in truth I’d rather have it have the same cherry laminate as the rest of the house, with a lovely area rug.

And plants. Even if they’re plastic. I want plants.

NO TV. Maybe a small computer desk large enough for a laptop. Definitely some kind of music machine (radio/cd player). And I want all the junk cables that Fuzzy refuses to part with out of the closet so that guests could actually store stuff in there, if needed.

Or at least…

No More Stacks.

The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue (Again)

Last week, I wrote about my frustration with the book The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue, by Barbara Samuel. I’m please to report that we’ve worked out our issues, and I’m in a place of enjoyment with the book.

Any frustration I had is partly my own fault. The cover art features a cafe table with a lovely blue tablecloth, and a bunch of coffee mugs and glasses, a couple of desserts, and many women gathered around, sharing the food. We don’t see their faces, but we can see that they are friends.

I bought the book in flagrant defiance of the “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” rule, because I liked the picture, and then, I became frustrated when it wasn’t a happy cozy cafe book, but a deep look at fractured relationships. Just because I’m writing a happy cozy cafe book, I expect everything to be like that.

Anyway, I’ve set it aside while I finish a Trek novel for review later this weekend, and will review it formally sometime next week.