Reading in 2014

SAM_1770

[I took this picture on a clear, cold day in Travemünde, just a few days ago.]

It’s done and over with – 2014, that is. And I’m glad of it ’cause it really wasn’t a good year, overall. The reading was okay, even though I didn’t read nearly enough. I only started in March, 26 novels and anthologies in all. They were mostly good, also mostly lesbian romances and some rereads. I want to spread out more this year but for 2014, it was okay.

My favorites among the new ones I read were Sometime Yesterday by Yvonne Heidt, Wicked Things, edited by Jay and Astrid Ohletz (which contains my short story ‘A Lesson i Magic’), and Roller Coaster by Karin Kallmaker.

But apart from the books I’ve read there were some I haven’t finished in 2014. There are always some of those each year. I often lose interest in books, but that’s not the only reason for not finishing a book. Let me just run down those unfinished books of 2014.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth – While I liked the first volume of the series, the second part has too many elements of that other series that treats its female protagonist like a second-class character. There were also some plot bunnies that didn’t make much sense, apart from the basis of the whole series being a little far-fetched.

The Age of Innocent by Edith Wharton – I love Wharton’s work and I would really like to read more from her. The problem is that I want to study her, but I’m not quite at a point where I can solely concentrate on a body of work by one author, especially one who has been studied by far more intelligent heads than mine. I haven’t gotten beyond the first chapter – though I rewatched the movie this year.

When the Clock Strikes Thirteen by Ylva Publishing – I contributed a story to this year’s Halloween anthology and wanted to read last year’s. I have read the first few stories but I haven’t gotten beyond them yet. I will pick this anthology up again to continue reading, I just got side-tracked.

Coming Home by Lois Cloarec Hart – This is one of my all-time favorite Xena-Uber fanfictions and now I have the paperback. But I haven’t gotten around to reading the whole book yet. I want to, but it’s been a while since I read it and I would hate to discover that it’s not as good as I remember it. That’s stupid, of course, Hart is a good story-teller. I’m just being silly, is all.

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton – This is part of my research about supernatural creatures. I’m looking forward to writing my first supernatural story this year (probably come June) so I may finish this one yet. It’s good, so far.

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran – I’m trying to get involved in some gay (male) reading, but so far haven’t been very successful (as I’ve started and not finished At Swim, Two Boys last year). I like the narration so far but it’s a little more heavy-duty than I want to engage in at the moment.

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan – This is a sweet story about a coming out of a lesbian teen. I’m going to continue reading this at some point but not right now.

Heart’s Surrender by Emma Weimann – I really like the beginning of this one and if you ask me why I haven’t finished it yet, I can’t even tell you. My focus got diverted and I haven’t redirected it at this novel yet. I will, probably sometime this year. It’s been a lot of fun so far.

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier – The third part of the series, a good, solid series. But I got a little tired of the narrator’s voice by the third book. Sometimes listening to teen first narrators gets a little tiresome. I like the premise of the story and the story, too. I will finish it, though I’m not sure when.

Blind Bet by Tracey Richardson – The Candidate by the same author was brilliant, I loved it. The Wedding Party was all right but I had some beef with it. And now this one… I don’t know. There were just some things in this I had a hard time working through. The writing is good but some of the plot bunnies are positively rabid. Not sure I’ll pick it up again.

2014 is over. Let’s see what 2015 brings. I’m looking forward to reading in 2015.

 

All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance edited by Andi Marquette & R.G. Emanuelle

allyoucaneat

In some ways, I was brought up rather conservatively and must confess that I’m sometimes sticking to self-imposed traditions tightly. One of those is that I rarely strike out to explore all the excellent, talented writers of the genres I prefer. While I pushed myself to not limit myself when it comes to genre, I usually stick with the writers I know.

I’ve been reading lesbian romance for… let’s see, about 15 years now and this is probably the first time I’m going on a wide search for new writers to read. I was most literarily stuck (not that I regret reading those I’ve read or the many times I’ve read my favorites; I just feel I could have been more adventurous). The reason is simple: I’m afraid to be disappointed. If I know that one writer and they write the way I like it, why would I pick up a book by a writer I don’t know who might not write the way I like? It may sound silly with all the amazing talent out there, but as I said – I’m a little conservative at heart, even though I would probably claim the exact opposite in a lively discussion held late at night among friends.

Anthologies are a great way to discover new authors, new stories, new themes, even. And this anthology proved to be a well of all the above and I’m really glad I unstuck myself to read about love and food and the sensuous adventures that begin if truly amazing talents mix both.

All You Can Eat is a pleasure. It combines the sensuous with the unexpected, the intimate with the breathtakingly erotic, and then there’s food and love and it’s sticky and messy and delightfully diverse. Marquette and Emanuelle present a feast of capable authors’ culinary fantasies that will satiate even the most ravenous reader.

It’s difficult to pick favorites from among these luscious stories. While they all include food and eating, they’re still very different, unique. And, as far as I’m concerned, there’s not a literary offering within these pages that disappoints. Still, not all flavors are for every reader and if I had to pick one among each dish I would recommend these: Rebekah Weatherspoon – Burn, Andi Marquette – Sugar and ‘Shine (with a very close second Cheyenne Blue – Tomato Lady), and for dessert Yvonne Heidt – Turn the Tables. But believe you me when I say, all stories are worth a read, all writers are worth checking out… you can never discover too many good, new writers (and I have already lined up the next anthology to find even more).

 

 

 

Me, Kindle-Owner

kindle-ownerYeah, I know it’s shocking. I have spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not I should take the step and buy an e-book reader – any e-book reader. But last week I’d gone and finally did it so at least I can stop thinking about it now.

I had already decided against a kindle in my earlier musings, to be sure. One of the deciding factors was that I don’t have wifi and I already knew that it would be close to impossible to work the kindle without it. Unfortunately, money is an issue and so when I went to the mall the other day with the fixed intent in mind to buy an e-book reader, I knew it would be an inexpensive one. Who would have thought that the cheapest one would be a kindle? Not me.

But I still bought it. That was only the first step on my adventure to being an owner, though. Because to actually use the kindle you have to set it up. And make no mistake, they make you set it up. I hooked the kindle to my laptop and even though I’ve already used the kindle app for pc, this did not allow me to just skip the registering and copy and paste my kindle-books from my laptop onto my kindle, no way.

I thought that might happen so I scheduled a day on the town to find the one wifi-hotspot that would allow me to set up my kindle. It only took me three hours to find it, half an hour to actually have my kindle connect to it and another twenty minutes to finally register. I can be quite patient when I’m working on something that I want – and I wanted my kindle to work. It does now and I just finished reading my first book on it.

You may wonder why this is important enough for me to share. Or maybe you wonder at the kind of inept tech-amateur I am, you’re welcome to. I tend to make my life more difficult than it should be, that’s probably why I’ve gotten so resigned about it.

I’m a reader. I’m actually a literary theorist. I buy a lot of books throughout the year, I read a lot. I own different versions of the same book. I LOVE literature. While they tell you not to put reading under interests on a cv, I always think: but I read. Buying an electronic device that lightens the weight of my luggage when I travel, makes a lot of sense for me. Not to carry around three, four, maybe as much as six books when I visit my parents makes a difference… It’s a big step for people like me to buy an electronic device that is supposed to… maybe replace books. And I do see the benefits for the ecology… but does it have to be so difficult? I feel a little let down by the fact that amazon does not trust me enough to simply copy my legally purchased books from one of my devices to the other without them knowing about it.

Don’t get me wrong, the device works, I like it – I actually love pushing buttons and readng stuff on that thing and the fact that once again it only took me days to finish a book when reading has been slow all year, it delights me. But, you know… books. They stand on shelves, they look unobtrusive, they tempt you with their colorful covers, they make you remember when you see them in book stores or somebody else’s hands. Turning pages, smelling the glue that holds them together, feeling the indentations of the title on the cover – it’s almost porn (oh, let’s stop pretending, it is porn). This feeling is never deminished by some company wanting to know about your reading habits, you pick it up, you open it, you emerge. The sheer beauty of reading a book.

My kindle doesn’t give me this feeling because the first thing I had to do is worry about overcoming obstacles to get what I want from it.

Maybe I’m too sensitive, maybe I’m fetishizing books and reading too much. Maybe I’m just a crazy old book-person and everybody else is super-happy with their electronic devices. I don’t care, to me it’s not the same.

I still like it, though. I’ve given it a name, dressed it in an ugly-colored cover and will probably be taking it everywhere for the next few weeks. It’s cute, and it’s functional. But it’s not a book.