Run For Your Lives, It’s The Romance Genre!

Hmmmmmm, I feel another book review in the works. Not in this post, but definitely upcoming, and soon, because I have had my eyes opened today ladies and gentlemen. I read, for possibly the first time in my 30+ years if memory serves, a Romance novel……from start to finish. That’s not too shocking I suppose because I do love to read and don’t like to give up on any book I start without giving it what I deem a fair shot. The fact that I actually liked it is what shocks me beyond belief.

I generally don’t go for all that wishy-washy romance stuff in my books. I mean, there’s not even one action scene in the whole thing (the nerve!), so I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. I wasn’t even sure I was going to read the whole thing. I got it on my Kindle in yet another of my “I’m broke and want to download tons of free books I’ve never read” moods. (I do that a lot since I don’t sleep well.) I was even surprised that I chose that book as one, but hey, why not? There’s nothing wrong with expanding our horizons once in a while, ya know?

So I get the book, along with five others (all of the rest in the Fantasy genre). Read three of them in a few hours because they’re kind of short, then turn my eyes to the fourth and don’t even get past the first page. Just not feelin’ the vibe on that one right now, perhaps another day. Great, now I can’t even put off reading the dreaded Romance novel anymore. I get like that sometimes, where I HAVE TO read new books rather than the old standby’s, and since I don’t have local access to my storage unit, all my paperbacks/hardcovers are not an option at the moment. I can hardly go to the library at 10 o’clock at night and browse for some books.

Here we go, might as well get it over with. I will say up front that when I read the blurb on Amazon.com it seemed not as “bodice ripping” as I would normally come across. I’m sure that’s at least part of the reason why I snatched it up. I don’t do those kinds of novels, period. There’s something that repels me from reading about a helpless female being entranced by a man wearing a kilt, and sex scenes every five minutes (and no, I’m not talking Erotica here, these were Romance novels) with every euphemism for male and female genitalia that a writer can think of tossed into one paragraph. OK,  OK,  I know they’re not all like that, but they’re just not my thing. I try to keep an open mind when it comes to my reading, but we all have our likes and dislikes. To each their own and more power to you if like those kids of books. Read a few for me, won’t ya? 😉

As is turns out, Double Trouble written by Deborah Cooke, isn’t all that bad. I rather enjoyed it to be honest. Now I crave to read more about these Coxwells. They are an intriguing bunch to be sure. Partly because they are so out of the league of my “norm”, partly because of the narrator’s voice. I’m not sure it’s just one thing, it never is for me, but a lot of things all rolled in together that made me appreciate the book. Thankfully there are more books on the Coxwells, this actually being the second book in the series. Alas, I didn’t have to read the first one to understand the second one.

That’s another first for me. Not only have I skulked into a new genre, I’ve gone against every belief I have about reading a set of series books, I didn’t read the first book first. For shame! I’ll just cover my head while you throw things at me and quietly explain that 1) I didn’t realize this was the second book until after I’d already downloaded it, and 2) it was made very clear to me that I didn’t have to read the first book of the series before the story even started. Score points for the author on that one! I enjoyed reading a “series” book that I wasn’t required to start somewhere else. Like I said, I’m expanding my horizons here people.

I’ll get more in-depth on the book itself during my review, but this post is more to help me understand my shock factor. Seriously, what’s happening to me as I grow older? I’ve never been interested in reading this genre before. Don’t get me wrong, there is an element of romance in a lot of the books I’ve read in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, in the M/T/S genre, etc., but mostly it’s about world crisis and saving someone or other, things of that nature. This is the first time I’ve ever stepped into the flowery world (or so I like to see it) of the Romance genre, willingly, and enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, wanted more of it. What the- ?!?! Thankfully this book was devoid of what I mostly think of the genre to be filled with and perhaps that went a long way in my feeling for the book/genre in general. As I’ve said, I’ve had my eyes opened today, but in a good way. Is it so wrong that I want to read a Romance novel that’s not about some head-over-heels-in-love scenario? Where it’s automatically love at first sight and these two people just HAVE to be together? That I want to read a book where, although there may not be physical fight scenes with vampires and were-creatures and witches or dragons, but actual real world problems that middle-class girls like me can perhaps relate to…on some level? Oh hey, look what I found. A book that has just that…

Here’s the clincher for me. In my past (and admittedly limited) experience with the Romance genre, I’ve mostly read, as stated above, the tragic inconvenience that somebody couldn’t be with who they wanted to be with, sprinkle in those euphemisms and all those “hot spots”, and it’s the same old thing over and over again for a few hundred pages. I can’t even get past the first few chapters without wanting to rip my hair out. I understand that a lot of these kinds of books are character driven, (almost have to be really because what’s the point in a Romance novel if there’s no romance right?), and I love character driven stories. But give me some meat (no pun intended), give me something to sink my teeth into as it were. I want a reason why I should care that these people are struggling to be with their “soul mate” or whatever frilly term you want to put on your can’t-live-without-you-other-half. (And by the way, I have one of those myself. He is the other half of my circle, and without him I fall over and don’t roll properly. So, I’m not adverse to being wishy-washy all of the time. I’m quite sure in fact that I annoy him sometimes with my massive amounts of cheesiness  but I just can’t seem to help myself around him.) Give me something to work with here, ya know? That’s all I’m saying. That can be said for any genre though. We have to care about these people who’s lives we are delving into, and we have to have a reason to care about them. You can’t just tell me to and expect me to go, “OK, as you wish, no questions asked, I care immensely about why this poor woman/man can’t be without the most wonderful man/woman on the planet.”

Yeah right, like that’s going to happen. Point being, I need some kind of substance to pull me in and something to hold me there. Much to my surprise, I have found it in the Romance genre. Perhaps it takes a special kind of author or book to do this for me. Perhaps I’m getting mushier as I get older. I’m not really sure. I’m inclined to explore this a little further though and see how it turns out. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll even start putting Romance novels on my bookshelf with those monsters and future technologies I covet so much. After all, anything is possible when it comes to love.

 

 

And yes, I really did just say that 😛

Hera, Queen of Gods (Goddess Unbound) Review

Available on amazon.com

Hera, Queen of Gods (Book One of Goddess Unbound) by T.D. Thomas (click pic for link to amazon page), published October 2012.

A wee bit o’ history on how I found the book first. I was recently browsing the Kindle Store for a new Fantasy book to read when I came across Hera, Queen of Gods. At the time I downloaded it, it was free. Funds were low at the time, so what the heck, why not? Couldn’t hurt to check it out right? Exactly! Didn’t hurt one bit. Although it did sit on my Kindle for about a month before I read it as I’d downloaded some other free books at the time. I kept putting it off because it was the one that interested me most, and it was the longest one I’d “purchased” that day. Plus, I procrastinate reading books I’m really interested in sometimes, strange but true.

So here I am yesterday, early morning and can’t sleep anymore. Not wanting to read any of the other books on my Kindle, I decided to dive right in and give it a try. I ended up reading the whole thing, couldn’t go to sleep until I’d finished it last night. Perhaps it shouldn’t have taken me that long to read as it’s only a little over 500 pages, but I’ve been told before I’m a “slow reader”…whatever that means. Allow me now to attempt to review the book I enjoyed so much (forgive me if it’s bad, this is the first book review I’ve ever done). Also, please forgive me if I sound all fanboyish (er fangirl, that is) about it, but there was much I liked about the book.

Here we have various gods and goddesses; Hera, Athena, Zeus, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, and Hermes, descending from the Heavens into mortal teenage bodies so they may find the Fates and keep the balance between Order and Chaos intact. If you’re not up on your Greek Mythology you may want to do a little reading on the subject beforehand, but that just depends. I don’t recall everything on the subject from my long ago high school days, but I remembered enough to give me an idea of who each character is. (In truth, I don’t think new readers will need to do the “research” as the author does a good job of giving us an idea of their personalities right off the bat.)

At first I was a little iffy about them using the bodies of teenagers, but the prologue gives good insight as to why it was written this way. Turns out it’s not really all that bad as a concept and the story seems to flow well. It does have a tendency to take the reader back in time, if they’re out of high school, and make them feel like they’re right there roaming those halls again. Scary concept for those of us so long out of those times, but effective nonetheless.

Justin’s character is probably my favorite after Athena. He’s a mortal, but he’s different than the others in some way Hera can’t quite figure out…until later. I won’t give anything away here, but I will say that I enjoyed watching his character develop and grow throughout the story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all the characters, even the bad ones, but some stuck out with me more than others did. Hermes was another that caught my attention quickly. Besides his love of mortals, his everlasting humor kept me giggling and cracking a smile, even when I wasn’t expecting it.

I have spoken to a few other people that have read the book, as well as read some of the reviews on it, and one thing I would like to mention is the amount of fight scenes in it. This wasn’t a problem for me. I love a good character driven novel, but I also like ones with action in them as well. This, I thought, was a good combination of both. While at some points there was more dialogue than I thought necessary, it didn’t take me away from the scene so much that I was annoyed by it. I enjoyed reading about one struggle after another while the characters were attempting to accomplish their goal. I didn’t see a problem with them having to fight all of the time. We are talking Fantasy here, filled with gods, goddesses, monsters, you name it. I expect there to be a lot of fighting in a piece of work like this.

All that being said, there is one problem I had with the book. There are some grammatical and spelling errors that did in fact jar me out of the moment when I felt like I was just getting into it. While these were few and far between, it was still enough sometimes to make me have to read back a sentence or two, or a word or two, to make sure I was understanding it right. This can be a big turn off for a lot of readers, but honestly I’ve seen misprints like this at times in novels on the best seller list, so I wasn’t bothered by it so much to stop reading.

Overall, Hera, Queen of Gods, is a good read, and one that I now consider a favorite. There are struggles between right and wrong, good and evil, and so many “what if” situations to really make a reader think what it would be like to be in any of these character’s shoes…particularly Hera and the other gods/goddesses. During my time reading it, I kept looking down at the progress bar on my Kindle screen and hoping I wasn’t getting close to the end yet. I just wanted it to keep going. It wasn’t too long (though I don’t think I’ve ever considered any book I read too long) and it wasn’t so short that I felt like much had been left out of the story that the reader should have been given. Hopefully Thomas will be coming out with more of the Goddess Unbound books soon because I would like nothing more than to read what happens after the ending of this book.

Check it out, maybe you’ll like it too. Maybe you won’t. We all know that as writers we can’t please everyone, but this book certainly pleased me.