Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review: Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book yesterday while shopping because I'd met the author online, liked her, and was curious.

Well, my curiosity is well served because I'm now hooked in at the very beginning of a series which is not yet existent. Damn it all! I hate the suspense of waiting for the next book in a series to come out, and my completionist soul rebels when publishers switch covers/sizes or forms (going from mass market to hardbacks for initial release, I'm looking at you, Dresden Files) so that I can't line the books up together on the shelf (and other things that provoke the book obsessed).

Anyway...this book is much in the same vein as [b:Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot|64207|Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)|Patricia C. Wrede||505] in that it is Regency England touched with magic and modern conceits of romance. I sensed hints of [a:Georgette Heyer|18067|Georgette Heyer|] here and there (although the author is sticking more closely to Austen than to Heyer, I still see resemblances). This is an Austen-esque story told in the style of our contemporary novels, with an eye to how we think of things in the early 21st century. Under the layers of romantic intrigue are themes of style vs. substance, issues of self worth, and ideas of what makes art -- which is quite a lot to pack into a touch over 300 pages. The reading is quick and nearly effortless -- I tumbled through the first chapter sitting at the bookstore, got through three more before passing out in bed, picked it up in the morning when I woke, and read through the morning despite many cat and dog interruptions.

As for the story itself, I found a lot of themes familiar and interesting for me. I felt much sympathy for the main character, Jane Ellsworth (who surely approaches nearer the real interior life of Elinor Dashwood than we ever see in Sense & Sensibility itself). The worst I can say about the book -- and this is picking nits -- is that it ended in that whirling, pull-back-shot montage style I've noticed in YA fiction and have yet to like. I prefer stories to go on with what they started and end rather than sum up as if there is no more time. However, because there are sequels (damnitall!) I am magnanimous in my forgiveness to Ms. Kowal (even while chomping at the bit for the Winter 2012 it available for preorder yet?)

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Monday, July 04, 2011

Review: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into PrintSelf-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this will be a very practical book, a book from which I will take notes, a book I'll turn to for practice and reminders. It's an open door sort of book, the kind that welcomes you to come in and get comfortable while you listen to the information.

This is NOT a read-once-know-all sort of book. No, this one should sit under the elbow while writing and editing. It should have post-it flags, highlighting, notes in the margin. It's a work book, a book that teaches by making you do.

The hardest part of reading this book was in not rushing to my current manuscript to apply the thing I'd just read before I finished reading the whole book.

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