Sunday, May 20, 2018

Angsty about Angst

Well, it’s been a minute here at the blog! I moved it to Wordpress, but then kind of forgot all about everything related to blogging and here were are, five years later, back at 1. Am I going to continue blogging? Likely not. The world moves fast, and I just prefer twitter, tbh.

BUT, that said, I may pull out the blog and dust it off for a post or two. #RomBkLove is a good reason to do exactly that.

When Ana asked me if I wanted to do this, the first topic that came to my mind was “angst.” It’s something I love in books, and since I recognize it, actively look for it, I figured it would be easy to put together a list of my favorite books that fit the bill. It WAS easy to put together this list, but the difficulty came when someone asked the question: How do you define angst?

Strangely enough, I’d never thought about it before. At least, not in any kind of way that I could put into words for someone else. Much like porn, I know it when I see it! But, also like porn, the definition can change from person to person. Now that I have thought about it for a bit, I guess I’ve settled on the definition of angst as a desperate yearning for something you cannot (or think you cannot) have. The idea of it consumes you, drives your actions, and generally makes you miserable. I think of it a lot like the tarot card Eight of Swords.  Her eyes are covered, she's bound, and she thinks she’s trapped. Looking at it, you might think the same. But, there is a path forward if only you would use your other senses to find it. A lot of the angst books are old people who may have done bad things, and they can’t see their way out of the downward spiral. They want so much to be better, and a lot of times they ARE, and everyone can see it but them. You want to hug them, then shake them, then hug them again.

The book that most encompasses my definition of angst is Anne Stuart's To Love a Dark Lord. Let me introduce you to the Earl of Killoran. The baddest bad boy to hold a title.

"If he hadn't been drunk at the time, Killoran would have simply ignored the letter. Unfortunately, he'd taken to drinking deeply of later -- it didn't fit the emptiness inside him or relieve his monumental ennui, but it made him less aware of the deficiencies in his elegant, comfortable life.

You can play "spot the angst qualities" right in that trope. Excessive drinking, Emptiness, Monumental ennui. It's a trail of cat nip for readers who love the tragically broken character. And, of course, Killoran is supposed to be THE WORST, but he's got a buried heart of...well, if not exactly
gold, at least some semi-precious stone or metal. You end up rooting for the self proclaimed bad boy who keeps doing good.

But, this book has not one, but TWO characters striving towards epic angst. Let me introduce you to Lady Barbara Fitzhugh. 

"She gave him no encouragement whatsoever, apart from the occasional cool smile. She hadn't yet been cruel to him, though that time would doubtless come. Sooner or later she would need to drive him away, before she was tempted by something she could never have." 

Is there anything better than a character who believes they are irredeemable finding out that they will get their happily ever after? 

Sometimes, the angst comes not from the person's sense of self worth, but from outside circumstances. It causes "brooding" which I toss in the angst category, but your mileage may vary. In the case of Callan Baird, hero of Melissa Blue's Kilted for Pleasure, he
was a different man before his wife died.

"Her lungs squeezed and she couldn't find the air to even ask another question or give him condolences. How could she when Victoria couldn't fathom the grief hinted at in his voice? Their eyes met and what she saw made her heart hurt for him. He laid the grief out for her now without trying to hide it by being rude or a pain in her ass. And it simply was an abyss."

You're rooting for him, for them, to move beyond that abyss into something that will make it all better.

Sometimes, the circumstances for the angst are both forced on you and self inflicted. My two favorite examples of that are Laura Lee Guhrke's The Marriage Bed  and Alisha Rai's Hate to Want You.  In one, circumstances and misunderstandings lead to a marriage of cold convenience where everyone thinks the spouses hate each other, including said spouses! But, really, they feel something entirely different for each other but don't quite know how to fix everything.

In the other, a huge family falling out causes two high school sweethearts to sever all contact...except for one night a year, when they can't help making their way back to each other.

Other angsty favorites:

And whichever books you recommend that are destined to become my new favorites!  How do you define angst, and which books do you love that feature it? 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We've Moved

Uh.....yeah, so you've noticed there haven't been any NEW posts for awhile, right?  Well, Unpaged was defunct for awhile. And, like the phoenix, has been (semi) resurrected over at Unpaged.

I'm original, that way.

If you want to see what I've been doing in the interim, check out: Me around the net.  And, of course, you can always find me over at Collection Reflection

See you soon!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

(Some of) My Pretties!

Yeah, I can't help myself with this "Best Of" ish that is going around. Here are some of the best covers I saw in 2010. Books may or may not be published in 2010, it's only that I saw the cover this year.

Gorgeous. I normally am not a fan of birds (on covers or in general, actually) but this is simply too beautiful to let slip by.

There is some room in our lives for pure hotness. Yes, Yes, we can talk about background image goodness and dark & stormy nights, but bottom line? He is hot. I could (and did) stare at those arms all day.

I'm not sure if the book lived up to the cover, but it looks amazing. The colors are vibrant, the detail is crisp. I know it's just "another dress cover" but with so many, it's easy to see one that stands out. The terrace door is open, and it almost looks like she's chilly! The moon seems to be hung a little low but.....

yeah, there is nothing pretty or charming or cute about this one. But it also looks very tactile. I wince whenever I see it.

If someone said the words "Urban Fantasy" to me, this is how I would picture the world. It has that SF feel to it. A very Post-Apocalyptic, Noir, Gotham City feel. I haven't read it yet (actually had forgotten all about it) but the cover did it's job and it is on it's way.

There were very few category romance covers this year that made me think "Damn, they are hot!" This one was one of them. The title is dumb, yes. I'll give you that. I have no idea if the book was any good (but I'm going to put a hold on it right now) but the COVER.......the cover is rockin the sexy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

1st runners up

Yeah, I have to at least give a shout out to two more audio pubs.

Books on tape: I'm not in love with 100% of their product or their policies, but they have worked CONSIDERABLY to lower the price of their audiobooks. Libraries are hurting, yes, and we're just not buying $100 and $200 dollar titles anymore. While there is still an audiobook company that hasn't gotten that message yet, BOT worked with libraries to lower their prices. I appreciate that. Is it perfect? No. Their backlist is still priced out of the range of most libraries, and they didn't lower the price on their Overdrive catalog. But, the prices on their physical frontlist titles were drastically reduced and that has to be commended. The reps listened (at least ours did) when we shared our concerns and there was a change. You can't ask for more than that.

If you are not familiar with GraphicAudio, you are missing out. I know I've mentioned them before, but they are fantastic. It is all multi-voiced audio of books usually relegated to spinner racks in libraries (if they carry them at all). You have your Rogue Angels and your Survivalist and your Deathlands. You have your SF ranging from Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War to Axler's Outlanders. My personal favorites are the DC comics. It only makes me wish some of my favorite Marvel characters were given the same treatment! Sure, people mock the books, but the audios are truly an experience. If you have long car rides, it will make them fly. I bought them on a whim and not get requests for them. Hard to get a bigger endorsement than that. They're not expensive, come in great cases (you can get them through MidwestTapes also if that is your main audio vendor) and you really can't get more entertainment for your library dollar. If you have a patron base that might like this, I urge you to give them a try.

My audio pub of the year

It doesn't come with a monetary prize. It doesn't come with anything at all, really. But, my favorite audio publisher of the year is Tantor Audio. Yes, their prices are good. Their prices are VERY good, actually, and they are more than willing to work with libraries to both of our mutual benefit. But good prices are only good if there is something you want to buy, right? Tantor combines good price with good titles.
They've only been around for 10 years and maybe that is the key to their thinking outside of the box success. I know, I know. You're going to ask me exactly HOW are they thinking out of the box when they are publishing some of the hottest books and hottest series currently in the market. The thing is, they are producing audio for many books that other vendors have turned their back on. Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice, for example, was first published in 1995. It may be a little too soon to be calling it a fantasy "classic" but it is certainly a book that never seems to dip in popularity. Yet, it took 15 years (and Tantor Audio) to bring it to audio. Luckily, they are turning their eye to other projects sooner. They have brought many Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance titles and series to audio when other publishers have mainly ignored them, or jumped in only on the bigger authors. (Recorded Books has published J.R. Ward at an OUTRAGEOUS library edition price. Penguin picked up The Dresden Files series) But my patrons are also asking for Lara Adrian and Rachel Caine and Kelley Armstrong. They love Yasmine Galenorn, Carrie Vaughn and Nalini Singh. Authors that have been largely invisible except in "certain circles" and not taken seriously as audio contenders. Now they're available and not only are they available, but they are done very well. The narrators are incredible, the production is fantastic and the cover art is good too. Packaging is great. THANK YOU, Tantor! Now more people can listen to books they love.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Shapechangers

Shapechangers (Chronicles of the Cheysuli, Book 1)Shapechangers by Jennifer Roberson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a re-read of the first book in a series I absolutely love. Unfortunately, I do not like this book. I'm not sure if this is Roberson's first book (and subject to the First Novel uneven-ness that can happen) or if I'm just reading it again with older eyes. After all, this book was first published in 1984. I've read many, MANY books since 1984 so I have more to compare it to. A lot of life has been lived between 1984 and now too, so a person's entire frame of reference can switch focus. It isn't so much when the book was written but the experience of the person reading it at that time. I was a tween (just barely) and in love with fantasy novels. I'm sure there was much I didn't get at the time, but I understood most of it and it fascinated me. Now, I focus less on the story and more on the words used to tell it; on characterization, and they both fall flat. Maybe, if this book were released today, it wouldn't be classified as an adult novel. Maybe the magic of it is at the YA level.

I hated the heroine. She was spoiled and stubborn and incredibly ill suited to heroine-ism. She wanted what she wanted and to hell with the very real consequences. The hero was marginally better, even though he was supposed to be older and wiser than her. Secondary characters (who star in Book 2) were better, but don't quite reach three dimensional status until The Song of Homana (book 2 in the series) The plot? Not as thin as the characters, but this is really a set up book. There is A LOT of world building to do, and if anything about this book is excellent, that is it.

Because, even though I don't have much good to say about this book, the fact is that it has been with me for over 20 yrs. Roberson created an entire world that has lived in the back of my mind; especially the language. I've always liked languages. It isn't to the point where I've translated Hamlet into Cheysuli, but a few words do stick out. Favorite characters from the series remain as well. The series is great, it just needed a better start.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Silly rabbit, coffee tables are for books!

Just yesterday, I spent too much time looking at some of the new "coffee table" books that were hanging out waiting to be processed. There are two things that will almost always pick up to examine: books that are large and glossy, and cookbooks. If it is a large, glossy cookbook, you may have to pry it out of my hands. Yesterday's treasures were both about interior decorating.

Timeless Elegance is a gorgeous book. Ooohing and Aaahing started on page one, and didn't stop until, well, the end. Even though I paid little attention to the text, and can't tell you a thing about this book other than it has GREAT pictures, I think I got out of it all I was ever going to get. I'm not sure who a book like this is geared towards: Interior designers? Easton groupies? Someone thinking about re-doing their own home? All of the above? I could sit and stare at this book for long periods of time, and I could see using it to refer back if I was looking for a certain..... something to do to my own home. But, would I buy it? Just to show on my coffee table? (2 people are currently waiting for our 1 copy)

A Passion for Interiors is another book roughly in the same vein as the one above. An idea book. Looking through it made me happy, but what would I do with it if I owned it? Would a book like this, in this economy, ever sell for the list price of $60? Will it sell for the Amazon price of $37.80? More importantly, do people want to own a book like this? (1 person on hold; 2 copies)

I'm fascinated by the idea of coffee table books. They are, more often than not, absolutely beautiful. A lot of money, time and talent go into making them into showpieces, and it definitely shows. I call them picture books for adults. (Great display idea, btw!) Purely coincidence, then, that I came across this NYT link from last week about coffee table books. Going through the list of books in this article, I placed about three holds for books I can't wait to look at:

Richard Misrach: Destroy this Memory (about Hurricane Katrina)

Detroit Disassembled -- Andrew Moore

Obviously, I've been watching a little too much Detriot 187! But, I was there a few years back watching a Tigers game and, honestly, I became curious about the city. The stadium was gorgeous (of course, since it is practically new!) but the surrounding area left a lot to be desired. Once you cross the border into Windsor (?) it is like a new world.

The New York Times Complete Civil War 1861-1865 The Civil War is one of those things where I think I have an interest, until I discover that I don't. We'll see how this goes.

If the library wasn't available, or if the library had chosen not to buy these books, would I shell out my own money just to look at them? I don't think that I would. Where would I keep them? What would I do with them after I'd satisfied my curiosity? Does anyone out there buy, for keeps, coffee table books? I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, September 17, 2010

every once in awhile......

I get something worth reading in my email. This was a comment made (obviously) from a library foundation donor that was sent out to staff today.

From a Library Foundation Donor

My mother bought me a library card from a nearby town since we had no public library available. She had only 1 stipulation - I had to record each book and author I read. I've always done than and since Apr. 1936 I have read 5289 books. That does not include text books or ones that I read to my 4 children. Not all have come from the Indpls. system but most have been library books from someplace. What would I ever have done without libraries? And I'm still reading.