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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Book Club Magic

I accidentally, on purpose, became a member of an online book club. The on-purpose part was because I actually did request to join the group of now twenty women in a closed facebook club called "Hopeless Romantics." The accidental part was that it's romance. I don't read romance. Oh wait (looks through kindle list and gasps), maybe I do. Somehow, in the last year of inhaling books, I've become a romance reader.

It still baffles me that I read a genre I've always slightly winced at. Believe me, there's still plenty to wince at, but I've also stumbled across wonderful writers with funny, real, genuine voices who write truths in their stories and create lives and loves that give readers the warm fuzzies for days.

This book club was started by just such a writer. So I joined, and the facebook-chat conversations we've had for the past month have made me giggle, nod, laugh out loud, and smirk in ways that have my boys raising eyebrows and shaking their heads. It's like having an instant group of friends I know almost nothing about. But Penny is tall and funny and snarky and smart and much nicer than me. And Shirra is a fan of all the best geekery, and her politics closely resemble mine. And Silvia makes me laugh and wince with her tweets of the most cringeworthy lines in whatever book has most recently displeased her. And then Dawn, with the Texas drawl you can hear through facebook, slides in with the sweetest zinger you ever did hear. I love these women. I look forward to catching two or three of them on-line and getting engaged in the most random conversations about Tom Hiddleston's dancing and the meanings of pen names.

But then there are the books. The first one was chosen at random off a list of recommendations by romance readers. I read it in about three days. It took me that long because I had to keep putting it down before I accidentally threw my kindle in disgust. But I powered through, because as Dawn said so nicely in her Texas voice, I didn't want to flunk my first book club assignment.

It seems I'm not the only one who didn't care for the book (see how nice I'm being. I'm not usually that nice about books with characters I can't stand. Not a character. All of them.) The good thing is that Wednesday's all day, weigh-in-when-you-can book club discussion will be fun. Fun in the way creative shredding with smart, funny, discerning readers can be. But here's the rub. Next month's book is on me.

My choice.
My responsibility.
I think I have a headache.

If this book had been good I would have had a better idea of which direction to go in with my choice. But it's not good, so the next book needs to be everything this wasn't or we'll start losing people. It's been threatened. Kind of.

So now I'm re-reading my top three choices, and they couldn't be more different from each other. Do I go with the YA contemporary romance about the snarky-voiced, totally endearing damaged girl whose romance you root for with all your heart? Or the very sweet, funny, set-in-the-90s romance about a video-game designer whiz who just happens to be slightly magic? Or the incredibly funny, laugh-out-loud Paranormal/Mystery/Romance that steps pretty far outside the traditional romance department, but has a steamy relationship under all that mystery, paranormal, laughing stuff? Sense the theme running through all these? I guess I need a little laughter with my romance or it just gets too significant and... wincy.

So, here are some quotes from the three books.Votes are welcome.

“Do real boys actually call girls baby? I don't have enough experience to know. I do know that if a guy ever called me baby, I'd probably laugh in his face. Or choke him.” 
 Katja Millay, The Sea of Tranquility

“Some ground rules. In my place, cookie baking isn't a spectator sport. And if you eat all the chocolate chips, I'll turn your underwear pink and sparkly.”

― Deborah Geary, To Have and to Code

“Ambulances were cool. “You just want to fondle my extraneous body parts,” I said to the EMT as I picked up a silver gadget that looked disturbingly like an alien orifice probe, broke it, then promptly put it back, hoping it wouldn’t leave someone’s life hanging in the balance because the EMT couldn’t alien-probe his orifices.”
― Darynda JonesFirst Grave on the Right

“You pretty much annoy me and thus can kiss my ass”
― Darynda JonesFirst Grave on the Right

Yeah, that's romance these days. Funny, smart-ass, slightly paranormal, damaged or off-center, and definitely magic.