Friday, May 27, 2011

Betty Keira's Life After Betty

It's been an interesting couple of weeks since the End Of Days.  For one thing, both Betty Debbie and I have stopped neglecting our little mommy blogs (much to the relief of friends and family...well, maybe) and been wrestling our homes back into some sort of shape.  You'd be surprised  how the dust bunnies breed when the TBR and TBB (to-be-blogged) piles loom not unlike a small Himalayan foothill.
I organized my junk drawer yesterday.  My. junk. drawer.  Which, needless to say, wouldn't have been tackled if Sister Harriet Goes to Holland and Two Weeks to Remember were calling me.

A thing of beauty is a joy...until the kids muck it up
But what am I reading?  A little political philosophy.  Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions and I ordered De Tocqueville's Democracy in America (which I didn't have a copy of (I probably sold back my copy to the bookstore in college for three dollars and a Snickers bar.) and which my husband immediately snatched)--which is a heavy read but after a year and a half of a steady diet of gumdrops and lollipops...

I'm also leafing through some of my old favorites that I've neglected all this while--Summers, Hill, Cartland....Whaaaa???  Yes.  There.  I said it.  Cartland, Barbara.  Or as I like to call her Madame Ellipsis.  ("!" said Lady Fionella as she swooned.)  She's an author that drives me crazy because 80% of her stuff is just that sort of dreck.  And being consistently campy has its own charms but then she'll go out and write a novel like Love Under Fire:

It's one of my favorite books of all time.  Granted, (gulp) you have to close your eyes to reason and accept that at some point the hero is horrified to think he's fallen in love with someone who says she's a 13-year-old. (Yes.  Really.)  But it's a thumping great adventure story--the best part is when the ship is in a squall and the heroine sensibly decides that staying in the cabin clutching a table leg all night would be a better idea than braving the decks, making a nuisance of herself and being swept out to sea in some sort of proto-feminist gesture--the likes of which all to often pass themselves off as rational plot contrivances.  (And there's nothing I hate more than a heroine who is supposed to be intelligent and wise doing something so TSTL.  Can we all shout with a megaphone to the romance authors of the world: Being a smart heroine does not mean putting the lives of others in danger just to show us you're a girl with pluck.)

I've also been reading a bunch of young adult fantasy--short stories, Robin McKinley, Mary Stewart, that sort of thing.  Betty Debbie is a font of recommendations on that end.  I love YA fantasy in the same way that people feel passionate attachment to film Westerns.  On one hand, they can just be about the spurs and the boots and the guns or the fairies and dragons and the magical enchantments.  On the other hand, they can be the scaffolding to discuss weightier issues.  (Come to think about it...most genres are like that--very easily dismissed as formulaic (and a lot is) but it can also be just the skeleton that holds up THEMES (In my head I have triple underlined 'Themes' and drawn little hearts around it.))

What's in your TBR list?


  1. Much too much to list here (I have multiple databases to keep the lists straight) but I did just get -- at Betty Janet's insistence -- Pamela Morsi's Marrying Stone and Simple Jess. I read a contemporary by her:, The Bikini Car Wash, that a nice fun read. Not too Brightonish (they go, but leave the reader behind).

    I have a ton of Mary Baloghs and Jo Beverleys to read, but I started Tempting Fortune by Beverley recently and got stuck. It's #2 in the Malloren series (her Georgian books) so I don't want to quit but I don't really want to read it.

    Oh, and if you like Robin McKinley, you may like Mercedes Lackey -- very smart heroines in her Elemental Masters series, and even smarter heroines in her 500 Kingdoms series. Of that latter series, read them in order starting with The Fairy Godmother. They get slightly less wonderful as they go along. (There's one tiny glimpse of Brighton in The Fairy Godmother, but it can be cut out with an Exacto knife with no loss of plot or enjoyment. You can Bowdlerize it with impunity!)

    Mostly, though, I'm re-reading some faves (ranging from The Great Betty to an author too Brightonish even to be identified) as comfort books.

    We have Betty Henry (aka Brit Hub 1.0) as a patient for two weeks. He fell off a stepladder two weeks ago but didn't get operated on until Wednesday, which required me to drive into Philadelphia, hang out at the hospital for 7 hours of waiting and 45 minutes of seeing him post-op, stay overnight, run my own errands then collect him and drive north through bad rush hour traffic followed by really bad electrical storms. The whole trip took 38 hours and felt a LOT longer.

  2. Democracy in America, The Spy by Cooper, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, The Hiding Place, and The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, I also need to finish up all the Essie Summers I borrowed from you.

  3. Betty Barbara here--
    Betty Keira-if you have not yet read Princess of the Midnight Ball, then you are in for a treat. Not quite McKinley level (but then, who is?), but still a fabulous retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses fairy tale (which happens to be my favorite).
    I can second Betty Magdalen's recommendation of Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, but I was unimpressed the 500 Kingdoms books. Oh well.
    As for my own TBR pile--several romances with western settings, a bunch of Urban Fantasy and the latest by Nora Roberts. Should keep me busy for a while.
    Oh yeah, to prove to myself that I still have a functioning brain, I have The 4 Percent Universe waiting to be read.

  4. My Kindle, which did a yeoman job while I was on the road collecting "The One-Armed Bandit" aka Betty Henry, needed recharging, so I've picked up a Mira Stables Regency romance I'd not read, Simon's Waif. High Garth (set around 1830) is her best, but I love all of her roms, and Brighton's nowhere near any of the settings.

    I've just bought the Princess of the Midnight Ball for my Kindle on Betty Barbara's recommendation (even if she didn't see all the wit & humor & gender reversals in Lackey's 500 Kingdoms series) and noticed that it's linked with Eva Ibbotson's books, all of which I loved, but Countess Below Stairs is my second favorite (A Company of Swans is my favorite but that's a bit Brightonish -- the only one of her books that is -- and anyway I'm pretty sure the reason I love it is that it's super-angsty).

    And there seem to be other authors in the same romance-cum-fairy tale retelling mode: Eilis O'Neal and Julie Berry. Anyone know if either of those authors is any good? I do love that style of book.

  5. Betty Barbara here--
    Betty Magdalen-we can agree to disagree about the 500 Kingdoms because you love Company of Swans and so do I. My next favorite of hers is Madensky Square, which is(in attitude) VERY Brighton-ish, but wonderful none the less.
    Alas, I have NO info on Eilis O'Neal or Julie Berry.

  6. I finished Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters - it was a pretty fun little read, I plan on looking at my library for more of hers. I'm currently reading (with my high schooler)Fahrenheit 451. Betty Keira is bringing me Love Under we speak (or rather, as I type).

  7. Betty Barbara - did you by chance not read The Fairy Godmother first? Numbers 3 & 4 of the 500 Kingdoms were nice but not special, but numbers 1 & 2 were wonderful.

    I promise I'll let this go -- so not a reason to argue! -- but I am curious why those books didn't do it for you.

    I love Madensky Square too, but it's definite a five-hanky book. :-)

  8. Betty Magdalen--
    Yep, I read The Fairy Godmother first. And it didn't grab me,(I recall rolling my eyes a lot) so I didn't bother with the rest.(The 'too many books, too little time' thing, doncha know.) I have a fairly low tolerance for Ms Lackey's works; indeed I am surprised I enjoy the Elemental Master series as much as I do(thought I feel that series is sliding a bit). FWIW, my all time favorite by Lackey is The Fire Rose, a Beauty and Beast story where she first tries out the Elemental Master idea.
    Betty Barbara

  9. Betty Barbara here again--
    Betty Debbie--the early Amelia Peabody books are wonderful! You are in for a treat.
    Betty Keira--another fantasy author to try is Juliet Marillier. She's written a lot of adult stuff; her two YA's are Wildwood Dancing and it's sequel Cybele's Secret. The first is a Dancing Princesses story, which is why I picked it up. Both very enjoyable.

  10. Okay, Betty Barbara, I gotcha -- yes, the Elemental Masters stories are very serious and the 500 Kingdom stories are much more lighthearted, funny even.

    Off to check on Juliet Marillier...

  11. Currently reading CLARA CALLEN which I am enjoying. I have the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton book on the night table and read about half, but couldn't be bothered to read rest. MISTRESS TO MONARCHY about Katherine Swynford, THE LAST PRINCESS about Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria's youngest daughter, FROM A CLEAR BLUE SKY about the Mountbatten tragedy and of course my book THE FOUR GRACES>

  12. Elizabeth Peters is the same as Barbara MIchaels; they are both pseudonyms for Barbara Mertz- who wrote two very good non-fiction books on Egypt as Barbara Mertz; she has a PhD in Egyptology so she knows her stuff.

    If you want a fun frolicking fantasy- try Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles or her books with Caroline Stevermer, starting with "Sorcery & Cecelia"- one of my all-time favorite books.

  13. I have all of Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Sorcery & Cecelia (plus the sequels!). I do love them. A lot.

  14. Wow, thanks Magdalen, and congrats and good luck to Betty Miranda on her next book!!!!

  15. I'll be rereading Patricia Briigs (Science Fantasy and Paranormal fiction set in my town) and some Debbie Macomber to relax. Congrats Bettys Ilana and Miranda!

  16. I've discovered two new to me authors. Annie Kimberly aka Annie Smith. She writes romance where dogs are a big part of the story. I've read about four. The earlier ones have cheesy covers, but the my latest read could go on the bus with you without a book cover - Coming Home.

    Also found a new to me Angela Hunt. I see her earlier stuff is inspirational (aka christian). I don't read much of that, but if it's good I'll read anything. The Face was phenomenal, IMO. A little subtle religion, but only if you look hard. Wow, great book. Left a few questions in my mind, but still...

    Also reading to the kids at school "The Great Good Thing" found out it starts the Slyvie Cycle, there are two sequels. Gotta find those this summer.

    Hope you all are keeping cool. We get a cooling off the next few days, thank goodness.

  17. Here in the NW, Betty Keira and I are hoping that it warms may be June, but most days it's still sweater weather here.

  18. Wish we had your weather at least until June 17th. We are in an un-air-conditioned schoolroom until then.
    Today was a beautiful sunny and warm day, high 70's. We had a jog-a-thon for a new playground at school.
    I finished reading "A Great Good Thing" to the kids today. They loved it. The author is Roderick Townley. Have any of you young adult fiction reading adults read any of his books? I was pretty wowed by this one.
    Now reading a regency by Mona Gedney called The Easter Charade. Just okay so far.