When the blogging gets tough, the blogger goes into hiding [TSS]

Hello my fellow book lovers – I’m back! I’m afraid I’ve been rather scarce lately. Real life caught up with me these past few months and, frankly, I have had no energy to blog about books. And, to be honest, I haven’t even been reading many books. But I have been reading… fanfics.

Fandom is my ultimate literary comfort blanket – it is a group that has “produced” a hell of a lot of prolific authors: Naomi Novik, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Cassandra Clare, to name but a few. And while a lot has made me reach for my literary comfort blanket (Real Life and Sherlock), part of it has been the – how do I put this gently – pressure of blogging.

When I started Dead Book Darling, I admit that I was in awe of all the author interviews, review books, and guest posts featured on other blogs. But I certainly didn’t set up the blog for the perks – I set it up in order to share my thoughts on books I loved and loathed, any “extras” would be, well, extra.

But lately I’ve found myself a bit overwhelmed – with unread review books stacking up next to me and emails from publishers going unopened. My response to it has been: “OMG this is brilliant, but GOD I have no bloody time.” Because I do feel required to read review books… I know that I don’t have to, but… I do. It’s a Catholic thing, I suppose.

Review books chasing after me… you’d think books wouldn’t be so sprightly…

See, I have a full-time, 11-hours-a-day job that I love; I am enrolled in a part-time post-grad course that is fascinating; I volunteer for an association based in another country; I recently took on another extra-but-brilliant position at work; and, oh, I have to sleep. Add to that full-time blogging and, well, I’ll soon be writing you from a sanitarium.

So, I took a break. I haven’t been looking at the blogosphere, I haven’t been looking the 4 shelves of TBR books at home, and I certainly haven’t been scheduling my reading time. Instead, I’ve been curled under my comfort blanket reading (fic) for fun.

You heard me, I’ve been reading for fun! And it’s been brilliant.

And now that the joy of the written word is back in my system, I think I am ready to face the regular-ol’-paperback again.

On coffee and princesses [TSS]

So, earlier this week, I was enjoying a nice, big, frothy latte and remembered an adorable YA book I’d read and enjoyed last year: The Espressologist by Kristina Springer.  It was a light-yet-comforting read which was fun fun fun.  I then I thought “what ever happened to the author”?  So many YA authors get their 30 seconds of fame before their book is released but, unless it is followed by a sequel, often fade into obscurity after they debut. Since I had heard nothing about Kristina since, I was afraid that the same had happened to her – and, worst of all, I had’t even noticed.

Well, it turns out my fears were premature.  Not only did Kristina have a book published in October last year, My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours (which doesn’t quite seem like my cup of tea, but let me know if you think I should give it a shot) she also has another YA novel coming out this fall: Just Your Average Princess.

Now, I’d seen the cover for Just Your Average Princess on one of those “upcoming books” posts that have become so popular on YA blogs – but the lack of details meant I’d ignored it.  Cute cover, but not for me.  But when I found out Kristina had written it, I thought a second look was in order.  At the time, there was no description of the book on Goodreads, so I searched online for an alternative source for a summary.  I found one soon enough on Kristina’s website.  It sounds like it is going to be just as adorable as The Espressologist, and I absolutely cannot wait to read it.

So, what’s my point?  Well, first off, I found  that I am not as cover-driven as I thought I was.  Even though I had loved the cover for Just Your Average Princess, I needed a better reason to add it to my wishlist.  I’m really glad that my subconscious picked up on the author and got me to check up on what she’s been doing.

Second?  It made me realise how fleeting our love affairs are with authors.  And, like any relationship, they require work.  Even though I had loved Kristina’s first book, I had rather abandoned her work.  Or rather, without actively following her updates, or without her publisher staging an extreme PR campaign, I would never have remembered to keep up with Kristina.

Maybe it’s just me – but it seems like we rely on people telling us what to read.  Pushing and prodding – getting us excited about a new book/author/series.  But, really, we should look at the authors we’ve already grown to love – and consider ordering their back-listed books asap.

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library’s vast reading room. It’s filled with people–students and faculty and strangers who’ve wandered in. They’re seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they’re all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they’ll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon’s literary intake….

The Sunday Salon: 2010 Resolutions


It is the last Sunday of 2009 – and book blogs are a flutter with challenge posts and blogging resolutions.  I seem to have joined in the crowd – signing up to the Debut YA Author Challenge, the YA Challenge and the LOTR readalong.  I have previously failed miserably with reading challenges, but I hope that by limiting myself to challenges that include books I likely would have read anyhow, I might succeed this time!

Then there are the more general reading plans that have made it into posts.  I was inspired by Teresa’s post on Shelf Love where she described her reading plans for 2010.  There are a lot of posts like these out there at the moment – Jenny over at Jenny loves to Read is even hosting a Reading Resolutions Challenge where you have back up to help you follow through with your resolutions.  Anyhow, it all got me thinking about my own reading patterns.

I don’t want to make these “official” by joining a challenge, but here are a few of my hopes for the next year:

  • Stop impulsive book buying!  I have mile long wishlists, but the often get laid by the way-side in favour of a bargain.  I find books that I really have no real desire to read, but buy them anyways because they are only 50p.  My shelves just can’t take it anymore!  Just. Say. No.
  • Read the books on my shelves!  I have some amazing books on my shelves that I desperately want to read… until I get distracted by something new and shiny.
  • Not to let my reading slumps affect my book blog.  I occasionally get into a reading slump, where nothing I read is inspiring or entertaining.  It usually results in me not updating!
  • Read The Lord of the Rings! I have conveniently joined a readalong for this particular wish.  I have never been able to make it past the first book of LOTR despite my love for the verse (and The Hobbit!).  This will be the year that I succeed!
  • And, on a less literary note, give up paper cups!  I frequent a lot of coffee shops to read and snack – and I often get a to-go cup.  It is such a waste, and is so unnecessary!
As for the 2010 reading challenges – in search of challenges for myself, I stumbled on an awful lot of others that I could not commit to!  I thought I would share the list so that you could find your own!  These start Jan. 1st 2010 (except one) and there is still plenty of time to sign up!

Author/Series Challenges:

TSS – Male Writers in Urban Fantasy

A couple of weeks ago, I had a post asking me what male authors I had on my TBR list – if any.  Well, I floundered.  I guess I did realise on some level that the urban fantasy genre was made up mainly of women… well, I just was not used to it.  When it comes to literary fiction, it is so easy to read only male authors – and I guess I was still used to that.  Because, when it comes right down to it, I believe men have an easier job of it at getting published.  Or, at the very least, have an easier job having their works recognised as “Great Works Of Fiction.” 

Publishers love to group genre with gender, and while there are always exceptions, urban fantasy is trending that way.  Personally, I am ok with that.  For decades sci-fi and fantasy was seen as a very male genre – and now, well, it is starting to even out.  As I am sure that, one day in the likely distant future, the romance genre will read by men and written by male writers.

So how about some urban fantasy written by men?  Well, here is an incomplete selection from my wishlist – if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Night Runner by Max Turner
Nightlife by Rob Thurman – Apparently he is a she, and is not even trying to deny it! Well, there goes another man off the list!
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Unshapely Things by Mark del Franco

Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Greene
The Devil you Know by Mike Carey

The Sunday Salon: Night Time Reading and the week roundup

Hello fellow Saloners! Hope you are enjoying a nice day where ever you are, a cuppa in one hand, a book in the other!

I have spent the week sleep deprived. On average, I am getting about 4 hours a night, which is nowhere near enough. And the reason for this lack? I just love reading at night.

I can go through the day absolutely exhausted, semi-conscious and dieing to sleep. Then, evening comes, I get into bed absolutely exhausted and… spend 6 hours reading. Stupid, stupid me. It is not as if I have no time during the day to read, because I am on holiday after all, and no matter how much work I have to do, it pales in comparison to term time. So why do I do it?

Well, there is just something magical about reading at night. The darkness allows the door to be shut on reality, the time allows reading to be pursued without fear of interruption, the silence creates room only for the words on the pages… all in all, it is an experience worth the price of sleep deprivation.

This is especially the case with Horror and Fantasy. There is a darkness in those books that really fits well when reading them in actual darkness. I am almost finished with The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson, which is NOT a beach read in so many ways.

Read this week

Betrayed (House of Night Series #2) by P.C. and Kristin Cast
Really enjoyable book. I laughed, I cried – the whole shebang. Can not wait to review, except that that means I have to review Marked first. *sighs* A book that I had less than a positive reaction to.

Shopaholic Abroad (Shopaholic Series #2) by Sophie Kinsella
It took me a while to get into this book the way I did with Remember Me? and The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic – but when I did I loved it!

On the Nightstand

The Taste of Night (Sign of Zodiac #2) by Vicki Pettersson
Should finish this tonight. Not quite as great as her first book (The Scent of Shadows), but still excellent. An amazing universe that I always look forward to stepping into.

A Kiss of Shadows (Merry Gentry #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton
This took me about 100-odd pages to really get into, but now I am really enjoying it. Considering I am only 3 books into LKH’s Anita series, reading such explicit sex by the same author was rather odd at first. I should have it finished this week as well.