I’m young enough to be a millenial… right?

Prompt: What is your preferred book reading medium? Kindle, computer screen, audiobook, or good old fashioned paper? How come?

While I love the tangibility of physical books, and I believe I will always have a small library (or a big library if I win the lottery!), the reality is that electronic books are far more convenient for me.

*BurstP* Electronic books are cheaper than physical books for the most part. Yeah, I can sometimes get cheap physical books at used bookstores or online or whatever, but most of the time it’s cheaper to buy the electronic version. And it makes sense – there are no overheads for the publisher. You’re not paying for the physical costs of printing a book.

*BurstO* Electronic books weigh less and take up less room. Boy, do they ever! I have a bookshelf in my bedroom that I’d estimate has about 100 books on it, give or take a few. That’s combined, mine and Steve’s. And it includes the books I’ve received from some amazing WDC authors. *Bigsmile* It takes up half a wall in my bedroom, and has three shelves, with books shelved two deep. In contrast, I have 1,404 books in my Kindle library. It takes up no room at all. I can carry all 1,404 with me everywhere I go. I can decide which one to read on a whim, and it’s right there. I love it.

*BurstG* No one can tell what you’re reading when you read an electronic book. *Wink* As you know, I only read romance novels. Well, 99%. I’m currently reading a fantasy novel, but there was romance in the first book in the series, so it counts, right? *Pthb* Anyway, romance novels have terrible covers, and worse reputations. And yes, I read some that are non-conventional, such as gay romances and romances with multiple partners. I’m not ashamed of reading those, but on the flip side, I don’t need every Tom, Dick and Harry on the train judging me, and I certainly don’t need my work colleagues judging me while I read on my lunch break. So yeah, I love the anonymity of electronic books.

I read on my phone. I own a proper Kindle (I think it was a gift) but I don’t use it. I’m not sure why I don’t use it, honestly, other than that I always have my phone on me rather than having to remember to take the Kindle with me. Oh, and my Kindle doesn’t have a backlight. Which is a feature they’re proud of, because it’s better for your eyes, but it makes it harder to read in bed at night with the light off. *Pthb* So yes, I read on my phone. Yes, it’s a small screen. It doesn’t bother me. The only thing that bothers me is that I can get a sore neck sometimes on the train or at lunch, because I’m leaning over to look at it instead of holding it closer to my face.

I used to listen to audio books when I was commuting by car. Sometimes audio books frustrate because it takes SO much longer to listen to a book than to read it at my own pace, but I do love a really great narrator. I’ll be honest, sometimes the audio version is better than the ebook version. Examples are Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh, which is narrated by Justine Eyre, and A Restored Man by Jaime Reese which is narrated by Greg Tremblay. Thoroughly enjoyed those. I have also enjoyed narrations by Spencer Goss and Amanda Ronconi. The worst one I ever had was Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker which was narrated by Abby Craden. That was a real quick ‘did not finish’. Ugh. Terrible. Whereas the audio version of Taming the Highland Bride by Lynsay Sands, which was narrated by Marianna Palka was hilarious. Marianna did the accents perfectly, but used a hilarious witchy voice for the ‘bad stepmother’ character. It was even funnier because the book literally says that the stepmother has a beautiful voice that didn’t match her personality, and I listened to the narrator read that out right after doing the witchy voice and burst out laughing. God it was funny. To this day, my mother, sisters and I still giggle when someone mentions chicken necks, thanks to that story.

Thinking about Marianna Polka brings me to an interesting thought on audio books. Accents. I’m a New Zealander, and I have a good understanding of some accents, but obviously not all. For instance, I can read a book where a character has a Scottish, English or Australian accent and hear that quite easily in my head. Even knowing that there are multiple variations of those accents, that’s fine. I’m familiar enough with them. I’m not very good at picking where exactly a person is from in Britain by their accent, unlike my father who grew up there, but while reading the dialogue, I can hear the voice in my head. A recent example of that was Misfits and Strays by Garrett Leigh. Two of the characters have Cockney accents, and the other two have more northern English accents. The words and phrases they used were 95% familiar to me. There were a couple of terms I didn’t know but I could easily put them into context. I read both books hearing the characters speak in my head. But when it came to Janvier from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, I had no idea. He has a Cajun accent or something, which means nothing to me. Anyway, I listened to the audio book and heard Janvier’s accent, which was awesome. Now I can imagine what he sounds like.

Audio books are more expensive than ebooks though, for obvious reasons. I have an Audible subscription (which I’m actually thinking of stopping now that I can read on the train and I’m not driving to work) so I can get one audio book a month for a reasonable price.

So yup, there you go. Ebooks with a side helping of audio books. But I do admit, there’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hands. That new book smell, or the fragility of an old, well-loved book. Yeah, I’ll always have a little library of special books.

Book review of Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter, #7)

This is the 7th book in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series.  When I looked ahead in the series, I was disappointed to see that I was going to have read through Ashwini and Janvier’s story, and then Naasir’s, before getting back to the primary and secondary characters.  I felt that Ash and Janvier were tertiary characters to date, and we’d seen so little of Naasir even though he was on of Raphael’s Seven, and what we had, I didn’t like.  I wasn’t looking forward to his story at all.

But I’ve been enjoying the series, especially since switching to the audio versions, and I wanted to continue to follow the overall arc.  I wanted more of Illium and Aodhan in particular.  So it was with some reluctance that I started on Archangel’s Shadows.

Firstly, as someone who lives in New Zealand and has never been to America, I’m glad I listened to the audio book.  I could never have imagined Janvier’s accent correctly!

We knew already that Ash was pretty kickass, and a little crazy, and she didn’t disappoint in that regard.  There was a big build up to finding out why Ash was holding Janvier at arm’s length, and why she refused to consider becoming an immortal.  I was sceptical, I admit.  I was afraid this was going to be one of those ‘if you’d only talked to me’ tropes, where she had misconceptions and it had kept them from being together for ages and once she ‘fessed up, Janvier would sort them and they would have wasted so much time.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  I should have known not to doubt Nalini Singh!  I don’t want to give away any spoilers, because that would truly ruin the book for you, but it’s a good reason, and even Janvier has to agree that it’s a good reason.

The hunt that runs through the book helps keep the momentum going, and provides action, conflict and insights into both Ash and Janvier.

We see a lot more of Naasir in this book, and now I really want to read his book!  I hadn’t expected that AT ALL.  He is sweet, amusing and fascinating, and I really want to see how Nalini expands on that.

I was a tad disappointed at how neatly things were wrapped up at the end of the book, but unsurprised.  And that was really the only part where things were too easy for the characters.  Both Ash and Janvier stayed in character the whole book, which is good.  I gave it four stars.

 

#T5W – Favourite covers

The first two things that grab your attention when you’re looking for a book are the title and the cover, right?  Then it all hinges on the blurb.  I have read a few great books with terrible covers, but generally, if the cover is atrocious, I’m likely to keep scrolling.

A lot of romance novels have very similar covers.  Half naked men are pretty standard in contemporary romances.  Women in ball gowns are pretty standard for historical ones, or men in kilts for Scottish historicals.  Men in cowboy hats, with or without a woman at his side for Westerns.  And so on and so forth.  So it’s hard to find covers that really stand out.  I’ve done my best to choose five though.  Note that I limited to myself to only choosing from books I’ve actually read.

Entranced (Guardian Academy #1) Entangled (Guardian Academy #2) Enchanted (Guardian Academy Book 3)
I like the blend of kickass, supernatural and femininity that Jessica Sorensen’s covers for her Guardian Academy series have.  You know by looking that the heroine isn’t going to be an insipid pushover.

Demon Possession (Shadow Quest, #1) Demon Slave (Shadow Quest #2)
The first two books in Kiersten Fay’s Shadow Quest series have beautiful covers.  Pretty and other-worldly, with a hint of darkness.

Keep Me Safe (Slow Burn #1) In His Keeping (Slow Burn, #2) Safe at Last (Slow Burn, #3)
Maya Banks often has unique covers on her books.  Some feature more traditional covers, but most don’t.  The first three books in her Slow Burn series feature striking covers, although I admit, they don’t give much clue to the stories inside.

Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1) Visions of Heat (Psy-Changeling, #2) Caressed By Ice (Psy-Changeling, #3) Mine to Possess (Psy-Changeling, #4)These are the covers of the Kindle editions of the first four books in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series.  I think they look dark and dangerous, which gives them an added advantage over the half-clothed men on many other covers.

 

A Sorceress of His Own (The Gifted Ones, #1) Rendezvous With Yesterday (The Gifted Ones, #2)
These are the only two books currently in Dianne Duvall’s The Gifted Ones series, but it is very closely tied to her Immortal Guardian’s series.  So closely tied, in fact, that you can move from The Gifted Ones to the Immortal Guardians without feeling like you missed anything.  Especially if you read Marcus’s story in the Immortal Guardians series, as it ties the two series together nicely.  Anyway, these are historical romance novels, with a paranormal twist and some time travel in the second one.  The covers are unique and eye catching.

So there you go.  There were a few others I hummed and haa’d over, but eventually you have to make a call, right?  As it was I cheated by doing five series instead of five individual books!

What are some of your favourite book covers?

 

 

 

 

Cliffhangers and ‘Happy for now’

‘I am confident that, in the end, common sense and justice will prevail. I’m an optimist, brought up on the belief that if you wait to the end of the story, you get to see the good people live happily ever after.’ ~ Cat Stevens

I read romance novels almost exclusively. Within the primary romance genre, I read virtually every subgenre there is, with some being more favoured than others, of course. I read romance because I demand my ‘happily ever after’, and the romance genre is the only genre that promises this. Or does it? I have been noticing a trend lately in the romance genre for books to have either cliffhangers or end with the couple ‘happy for now’. Most often, these books are followed by a sequel where the couple continue their relationship, and may or may not arrive at their ‘happily ever after’. Is it a ploy to get readers to buy more books? A natural consequence of readers delving more deeply into characters’ lives so the stories take more than a single book to tell? Or do romance readers no longer care about ever after? We live in a world where instant gratification is demanded by so many, and where the future is a distant, intangible thing that will sort itself out. Are these books a result of the world in which we now live?

‘The magic is as wide as a smile and as narrow as a wink, loud as laughter and quiet as a tear, tall as a tale and deep as emotion. So strong, it can lift the spirit. So gentle, it can touch the heart. It is the magic that begins the happily ever after.’ ~ Walt Disney

This is something that I have been pondering for some time, and another theory has occurred to me. With the proliferation of ebooks and self-published books, there are huge quantities of novels coming onto the market all the time. Far more than have ever been available previously. Perhaps many of these books have romance as a subgenre, rather than a primary genre.

Let’s look at Nalini Singh’s hugely successful Guild Hunter series, which is marketed as ‘paranormal romance’. The first book features Raphael and Elena as the primary characters. The second book also features Raphael and Elena as the primary characters. In fact, so do the third, sixth, ninth and eleventh books in the series. So they didn’t get their ‘happily ever after’ in the first book. So are these books paranormal fiction first, and romance second? Or are they paranormal romance novels that simply don’t have a ‘happily ever after’? Interestingly, the first book in the series, Angels’ Blood, is ranked in Amazon’s fantasy and horror genres, although it is highest ranked in the romance genre, in the paranormal subgenre.

The Guild Hunter series is far from the only example, just a high profile one. Share some of your examples with me, and your thoughts about them.  How do you feel about ‘romance novels’ that end on a cliffhanger or just a ‘happy for now’? Are you satisfied? Do you buy the next book in the series? Do you feel they even qualify as romance novels? Is the ‘guaranteed happily ever after’ gone from the genre?

‘Have you thought of an ending?’ ‘Yes , several, and all are dark and unpleasant,’ said Frodo. ‘Oh , that won’t do!’ said Bilbo. ‘Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?’ ‘It will do well, if it ever comes to that,’ said Frodo.’ ~ J. R. R. Tolkien