If I were the GIF kind, I’d find an Austin Powers one. I’ve lost my blogging mojo, my reading mojo, pretty much every kind of mojo. This happens to me pretty regularly at the end of the academic year. I am busy, I’m tired, and that plus the realization that once again I’ve failed to conquer the world this year makes me kind of depressed. Just to keep my hand in, some very random thoughts.
I beta-read Jackie Barbosa’s new novel, Skin in the Game. I like to think I was reasonably objective when reading it (otherwise I wouldn’t have been much use), but I’m not objective now. So I’ll just say that I really like Jackie’s voice–light and witty with a touch of sweetness. I like that the hero is a star athlete but not an alpha jerk, and I loved Angie, the high-school football coach heroine who is great at her work but struggles to be recognized. I know zilch about football but I loved watching Angie absorbed in her strategizing.
Rohan Maitzen is reading the complete novels of Dick Francis for a project (that’s something like 40; she has obviously hung on to her mojo). The other day, she tweeted this:
“It began in friendship and progressed to passion. Ended in breathlessness and laughter, sank to murmurs and sleep.” A Dick Francis Romance
That quote is a little poem. Also, it’s the kind of romance I want to read. I don’t think I’ve ever read Dick Francis . . . .
I am reading Helene Tursten’s Detective Inspector Huss. Very slowly. Partly because it’s a slow-moving Swedish-style police procedural, but also because it’s paperback and the print is tiny. Squinting at it makes me feel old. The book’s not bad, but pretty conventional.
When I am tired, I “read” more audiobooks. I have more or less given up on romance on audio, because I don’t like the most popular historical romance narrators. This has led to discovering more speculative fiction, which is becoming a much bigger portion of my reading. What I’ve heard lately:
Sharon Shinn’s Archangel. It’s a marriage of convenience/fated mates story in which the characters have to figure out how to work together in the relationship they are stuck with, and what kind of relationship they want it to be. My favorite trope! I have mixed (and hypocritical) feelings about speculative fiction that bases its world-building in Judeo-Christian mythos, but the questions of belief Shinn raises are interesting ones and I liked the world.
Jim Butcher’s Fool Moon. I like Harry Dresden the character but this series may be too gory for me. I might stick with it a while longer, but in print from the library rather than with precious Audible credits. If anyone has urban fantasy recs that are similarly noir but with a lower, less graphic body count, I’ll take them (even Ben Aaronovitch can be a little on the bloody side for me).
I’m now in the middle of Catherine Asaro’s Primary Inversion. It’s harder sci fi than I usually read, and I’m enjoying it.
Speaking of Natalie, I loved her post on “Criticism, Reader Shaming, and Problematic Books.” Discussions on this topic often seem circular and I am weary of them. But the comments Natalie prompted are great. Anything I had worth saying on the topic, I said there.
I finished Patricia Gaffney’s To Love and to Cherish. I am saving most of my thoughts for July and book club discussion, but I will say this:
1. I admired a lot about it, but it left me cold emotionally. I suspect this is because I knew too much about it going in and went into academic mode (which it richly rewarded, I might add). I am most looking forward to the third book in the trilogy, because I know nothing about it. If you’ve read it, don’t tell me anything.
2. I think it’s the first romance I have read that represents a devoutly religious person in a way that felt realistic. I’m still coming to terms with whether I think the book is preachy, but it explores questions of faith more deeply than the inspirational romance I tried. When I tweeted about this, I got suggestions for other historicals that do this well (it’s kind of telling that they were older).
I won’t declare a full-on hiatus, but I may not post much until July, when I hope to get my mojo back, firing the mental oven to finish off all the half-baked ideas I’ve got kicking around.