See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit

I meant to get a book on writing children’s lit from the library, but it wasn’t in, and this was near the empty spot in the stacks (with the “chick lit” part of the title conveniently covered by the library’s bar code). So I picked it up.

I’m glad I did. I’m not sure there’s any advice in here that I hadn’t already heard, but I loved the solid encouragement. Ms. Jacobs and Ms. Mlynowski keep their advice light, but practical, and they wrap the whole book in the attitude that writing novels (and getting them published) is an attainable career path. Maybe not an easy career path, but a possible one.

Plus, they do all this with wit and humor (made me laugh out loud at least twice–had to attempt to explain the jokes to J. and botched the translation–ah, the joys of a multicultural household). They included lots of good examples and a couple of lovely bibliographies, too.

Even though the publishing tips are outdated (it doesn’t even mention the possibility of self-publishing), I’d definitely recommend this to any writer friends who’d like a craft refresher or a pep talk.

The Finishing Touches

K. gave me this one for a birthday a couple of years ago. As I understand it, she picked it up off some bargain table to fit it into her budget, so I had some qualms starting it. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a well-written, sweet-yet-modern romance (real world, fairly modern problems, but it’s PG at the most). I love returning to this book when I’m stressed out and want something hopeful and not too straining on the brain, and I keep looking for sequels. Alas, nothing new so far as I can tell.

The Bad Beginning

This is the start of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I get why the series has become so popular.  This light hearted romp through some of life’s thornier problems has well-drawn characters; fast-moving and believable (if not quite realistic) adventure; and a personable (if patronizing) narrator of the first waters.  Mr. Snicket, clearly a character himself, might not be the kind of person I’d want to live with, but he’s exactly the kind of person I want telling me stories.

Which is what he’s done in this delightful little book.  I’ll have to see if K likes it.  It may not be deep, but it’s a step up from Glitter Beach.

Independent Miss

I discovered BookBub a few weeks ago, and have been picking up free (or occasionally cheap) copies of books that look interesting–trying to keep to a number I might actually read.  A few have been disappointing, but this one, by Becca St. John was a fun, well-written read.

The woman in this historical love-story feels a bit too modern to me (one of my pet peeves with historicals), but the medical/scientific side of things was both plausible and interesting, and the problems that arise from them make for unique, believable conflict, a rare combination in romance.  As someone who tends to skip over the smutty bits of romances, I also appreciated the relatively clean love scenes in this book.

On the whole, I found this a delightful way to spend a lazy afternoon, and I think I might be willing to pay something for my next book by this author.

Secret Kingdom–Glitter Beach

This is book six in a chapter book series K loves.  After reading it, I sort of get the attraction.  Like cotton candy, it’s mostly fluff, but very sweet.  Neither the characters nor the plot are very deep, but it’s certainly no worse than the Nancy Drew mysteries I chain-read in elementary school.  It may be a bit better.  At least it manages to tell an interesting story in a very constraining format, and for that I applaud it.

Now I’m off to find books with a bit more substance that K might like even better. I wouldn’t stop my girl from eating cotton candy, but I wouldn’t let her try to subsist on it either.


The Golf Omnibus

This was a fun several-afternoon read.  (As it was a short story collection, rather than a novel, I was able to read it in several sittings rather than one long go.)  Not as good as I recall Jeeves being, this was, nonetheless, witty, deprecating entertainment.  The idea that golf might somehow be lowbrow made me laugh, and the utterly ridiculous antics of the occasional non-Anglos made me cringe (except for the Russian author–he was side-splittingly hilarious).  Still, this was, as I say, fun.

If I thought golf itself was likely to be half as enjoyable as these stories about it, I might consider taking up the sport.

Then again, why ruin a good walk?

Why Shoot a Butler?

I read Why Shoot a Butler? while the kids were off at school today. I’m more familiar with Georgette Heyer’s romances, but I like her enough that I was willing to try this (besides, my sister gave it to me with a glowing recommendation.)

It turned out to be a light, fun read. Frank Amberley’s obnoxious brilliance is entertaining, so much so that I was only slightly annoyed at all the places where he investigated this or that–and then didn’t tell what he discovered. Probably best that way, because it kept me from guessing everything on the second page. As it was, even my somewhat sluggish mind had unraveled about two-thirds of the puzzle by book’s end, so if I’d known more, I probably would have guessed the whole, which tends to make a mystery less interesting.

Still, the dialogue is witty, the characters crisp, and the setting the type of idyllic British countryside town I love to visit in books. (I’ve never had the opportunity to visit one in person. Who knows if they even exist, and if so, whether they’d be any fun?)

Definitely worth curling up with for a couple of entertaining hours.