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Wednesday, May 4, 2011
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF OUR REVIEWERS: AZALEA
I'm pretty picky when it comes to the books I choose, so rarely do I review a book that I don't like. However, I have a list of elements that, if found, will drop a score: anachronisms in historicals (recently read an eleventh century set medieval where they referred to ale tankards as steins, which actually came into usage in 1825), repeated use of sentences beginning with "ing" words, bad grammar (complected for complexioned, drug for dragged, snuck for sneaked), too much telling, and so on. The trouble with being a writer is that one also becomes an editor when reading someone else's work. That said, I love a good story and prefer romantic suspense, contemporary and historical to other sub-genres. Automatic buys for me are Brenda Novak, Robyn Carr, and Kathleen Eagle, among others.
I particularly like books set in Ireland, England, the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountain states. My favorite book of all time is actually a set of folk tales from the Hebrides in a volume titled A Fair Stream of Silver by Ann Moray. Another wonderful story is one by an author duo calling themselves Michaela August. Sweeter Than Wine is set in post WWI Sonoma and is about pre-Prohibition winemaking and the young Austrian soldier who comes to the winery to help the widowed heroine. I love unusual settings or time periods, and I particularly like the time of the Belle Epoche (late nineteenth century to World War I). So many changes. In Europe the end of an age. Fascinating time.
But a well-written book set during any time will work if the author has created characters with whom I can empathize, if the plot is sufficient to keep the pages turning. Hey, great writing is great writing.