I’m in a lull between releases right now, since Not Over Yet won’t come out until July 26. That means, I get more writing time, and also some much needed reading time! I mostly read my book group selections, things others recommend to me, or stories that completely hook me based on their premise.
Also, I mostly “read” audio books. Not to brag, or anything, but I was an audiobook junkie way before it was cool. I mean, I owned a Walkman well into the 2000s just so I could listen to books on tape. That’s right, tape! During the summers of my seminary years, I worked on the building and grounds maintenance crew, painting, gardening, cleaning and devouring mystery novels with that Walkman clipped onto my waistband! Because of my longstanding addiction to the audio format I’m very tolerant of the voice actors. They rarely make me hate something, but I suspect they often make me love it even more than I would have otherwise. I guess that’s a bit of a caveat when I make a recommendation.
After meeting Sally Kilpatrick at RT2014 and connecting over being people of faith in Romanceland who are interested in things like sexual ethics and telling stories of whole sexual people who love Jesus, I’d been anxiously awaiting her southern/women’s fiction type novel The Happy Hour Choir (not available as an audiobook). I really liked the willful and sympathetic heroine, and how she handles having the hots for pastor. The book is set in the south and it’s the world I grew up in, though it feels a long way from the San Francisco Bay Area and the liberal church I call home.
This is a story of a woman making peace with God by facing up to the lies people have told her about herself and God. It revolves around a choir who practices in a bar, and its members are just the sort of lowlifes Jesus liked to hangout with, and whose company I tend to prefer. The whole book is a gracious counter to the kind of “Christians” who judge harshly and on appearances, rather than practicing compassion, mercy and taking time to really know someone’s circumstances. It also deals with the tragedy of many kinds of sexual abuse, which churches have been known to harbor. Kilpatrick’s writing is top notch and I really look forward to seeing where she goes with this particular vision and niche she’s writing in. Her second book is now available too!
My book group pick was Molly Prentiss’s Tuesday Nights in 1980. As seems to happen often in my book group of mothers with young kids, our planned date fell apart a few days out due to a case of croup. I was on the fence about finishing the book, not having liked any of the main characters at the start, but then one was introduced rather late who I found quite charming so I kept on listening. As I was brushing my teeth one night, dead tired after writing too late, I was enjoying the author’s lovely prose when something awful happened to one of the main characters. (SPOILER ALERT—you could figure it out from the title of this post.) It was so unexpected and upsetting to hear right before bedtime, and my poor, shocked heart was literally pounding. I stopped the book and downloaded another one in my queue right away. It had an adorable dog on it, so unless it went all Old Yeller on me, I figured I could count on the book not to add to my trauma and fill my mind with cute images of puppy dogs.
I’d downloaded Stay at the recommendation of my fabulous friend Serena Bell, when I asked for her favorite women’s fiction titles. She sent me a list, and of all twelve or so titles, only one had an annotation: READ THIS! Of course I obeyed, and it was such an instant relief from the trauma I felt from Tuesday Nights. Stay isn’t my normal cuppa—in fact, I almost avoided it because of the dog. But I was quickly hooked by the poignant blend of humor and emotion. Broken hearted and totally shit-faced drunk from drinking vodka and Koolaid, the heroine orders a dog on the Internet from Slovakia! Ridiculous and yet so adorable. It’s one of those books where everyone is treated so compassionately by the author and it’s chock full of complicated, nuanced characters. Ironically, I began raving about it to Serena, who said, “I haven’t read that one.” I was confused. “You told me to read it!” She laughed. Apparently, she’d just pasted it from her TBR, and READ THIS! was a note to herself. Hopefully she’ll take her own advice soon so we can discuss!
I had a bit of a letdown when that one finished, which was a chance to start something else that had been languishing on my Audible TBR. In the mood for something different and the guarantee of an HEA, I queued up Danelle Harmon’s The Wild One, which I had purchased on sale when she was having a Facebook Party. I met Danelle online recently because she’s a member of an Episcopal church and her priest introduced us. I’m at 50% on this one, and I am loving it. Her voice and characterization is really fresh to me, the prose is lovely, and there is a Machiavellian duke who totally reminds me of Georgette Heyer’s Devil. (His name is Lucien, which I think can’t be a coincidence). I will definitely read through the series to get to his book, and I’ll be recommending this author to historical fans.
What about you? Any fabulous reads lately?