Friday, December 11, 2009

This - and That


I’m reading and enjoying a very charming book at the moment. At the beginning of every chapter is something I’ve noticed before and oftentimes think is a waste of time for me anyway and I got wondering what other readers think. And that is the little blurbs at the top of the page of a new chapter. I don’t even know what they are officially called.

Me – for the most part, I ignore them even though I feel bad that I do. See – I can manage to make myself feel guilty over just about anything – it’s a gift I have.

The ones in the books I have now do relate to the story. They are little gems written by a Lord Chesterfiled and added in letters the grandmother writes to the hero. I get the feeling that the author has done research and that these could very possibly been words truly written. And while the grandmother has crossed over to the other side, she has left an impact on the hero. But there is a part of me that while admiring the author, thinks, for this reader anyway, it was kind of a waste of time.

In all of the books that I’ve read over all of the years, I think the only time I’ve ever really paid attention to the chapter headers was in Elizabeth Hoyt’s books. I love fairy tales and had to read the ones that she had. Other than that exception, I’m much too impatient to get to the story to pay much attention to the chapter headers.

What about anyone else? Do you read them or like me, are you too impatient to get to the actual story?


I got an email from Amazon listing the top romance books and I have to say, I disagree with many of those listed!!

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I haven’t read this book but I know many a romance reader has read and loved it. But I question whether it’s a ‘romance’ by my own definition. It’s shelved with general fiction in the stores around here and one of the big reasons I haven’t read it is because I gather it’s a tear jerker of an ending. I don’t like books that make me cry at the end

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

This is another book I question as to it being a romance. It’s also shelved in the general fiction shelves and while it may be wildly romantic with the enduring love between Jamie and Claire, even the author herself doesn’t consider this series romance books.

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

I don’t have any issues with this book being a romance. While I stopped reading Ms. Roberts series books, I still consider them romance.

Divine Misdemeanors: A Novel (Meredith Gentry Book) by Laurell K. Hamilton

I haven’t read any Laurel K Hamilton books either – and by reading the reviews of her later Anita Blake books I don’t really care to, but from what I gather, she doesn’t really write romance either. Books were there are multiple partners like I think are in the Merry Gentry books don’t really say ‘romance’ to me!

Visions in White by Nora Roberts

Again as with Bed of Roses, I think this certainly qualifies as romance.

The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory

I don’t consider this a romance either. This is the story of Elizabeth, the mother of the two young boys in the tower of London. To me, Phillipa Gregory writes historical fiction heavily based on real life characters. I don’t consider this romance.

Dear John by Nicolas Sparks

I sound like a broken record here – but I haven’t read Nicolas Sparks either. But he doesn’t write romance as far as I’m concerned. He writes fiction with strong romantic elements. And tear jerker endings. I already said this, but I don’t like tear jerker endings!

Knit the Season: A Friday Night Knitting Club Novel by Kate Jacobs

I’ve never heard of this book and I like to think I’m up on the latest romances. So I looked at the description:

Knit the Season is a loving, moving, laugh-out-loud celebration of special times with friends and family. The story begins a year after the end of Knit Two, with Dakota Walker's trip to spend the Christmas holidays with her Gran in Scotland-accompanied by her father, her grandparents, and her mother's best friend, Catherine. Together, they share a trove of happy memories about Christmases past with Dakota's mom, Georgia Walker-from Georgia's childhood to her blissful time as a doting new mom. From Thanksgiving through Hanuk kah and Christmas to New Year's, Knit the Season is a novel about the richness of family bonds and the joys of friendship.

I dunno – this just doesn’t scream ROMANCE to me!

So in a list of eight books, there are none that I’ve read; me – a dedicated romance reader and only two that I, a dedicated romance reader, consider true romance books. And since I’ve been around longer then Amazon – I’m right and they are wrong – heh, heh, heh.


lustyreader said...

i love your summation of amazon, you tell 'em kristie! and i read Time Traveler's Wife and hated it. and besides the lusty scenes, it was NOT a romance novel.

and a hint about Nicholas Sparks? everyone always dies. strong clue they are NOT romance!

pattepoilue said...

Ahah i think you're right too. You should see the 'Top Romances' on the French's pretty funny. There's FIVE L.K Hamilton.

I'm like you i hate books that make me cry at the end, i want my HEA

Statch said...

I think they should probably have titled it 'The Top 10 Socially Acceptable' romances (and they just threw LKH in there as a sop) :->.

The little passages at the beginnings of chapters do nothing at all for me. I don't even like fairy stories, so don't read those ones either. I always feel bad because the author obviously did some work to find just the right quote, and I don't even read them.

sula said...

The Nora Roberts books look like the only actual romance novels on that list. I liked Time Traveler's Wife, but it was so sad and made me cry...NOT what I consider a romance. I still need to catch up on the Jamie and Claire saga, but I'm almost afraid to do so. Who knows what Gabaldon is going to put them through next?

jmc said...

I've read some of those books, and would agree with your assessment, Kristie. They might have romantic (or sexual in the case of LKH) threads, but they aren't romances.

The Phillippa Gregory one, in particular bothers me. I haven't read it, but knowing how Elizabeth Woodville's life went, I'm not sure it can be cast as a romance. A saga, maybe, but no HEA, given the deaths of both husbands, disappearance of two children, outliving several of her other children, etc.

Hilcia said...

KristieJ, you're absolutely right, the only 2 books there that qualify as "romance" are the Nora Roberts books. Dear John by Sparks is NOT a romance -- it's a love story with a NOT a happy ending as the title implies.

Phillipa Gregory writes historical fiction not historical romance, there's a huge difference and I can't believe they don't know that difference. It's darn frustrating. UGH!

D.L. said...

I had to go read a summary of Dear John after reading this post. Yea, not a romance by my definition either. My personal defintion of a romance novel is that it includes a HEA, which half of the books on that list don't seem to have. This is why I never trust Amazon lists for romance- I just rely on the online community instead.

Anonymous said...

I can't not read them, but I almost always hate them. Even when Judith Ivory does them. -- willaful

Blodeuedd said...

Lol, I read some of the quotes, but not all, since they didn't seem so crucial. And oh they were blurbs, hm, sure perhaps some went together with the chapter but not all in my book. Thought I think it was a cool idea, even if I did not read all ;)

Katie Mack said...

I usually read the headings in the first couple of chapters, and if they're not interesting me, I skip them from then on. I just want to get to the story, dammit! Two exceptions are Hoyt's books and Jill Shalvis' baseball series. Shalvis starts each chapter with a short, funny baseball quote, so I always read those. But for the most part? Yeah, I skip 'em.

I am totally with you on the Amazon romance list. As far as I'm concerned, the only two books listed that are even romances are the Nora Roberts. Bad Amazon!

Marianne McA said...

I sometimes like the quotes at the start of chapters, and sometimes not.
And I'd try The Time Travellers Wife (possibly with fewer 'l's', but I'm British and it hurts me to spell it any other way). I didn't love it, the way some people do, but I'm glad I read it. It is sad, but in a good way.

As for what constitutes romance, I was wondering about this the other day. I read a YA (written by a man) where the love interest dies (heroically to save the hero) and the book ends with just the possibility of another love interest in the future.
Which made me think of all the books I've read - written by men - where that is the pattern.

And that made me wonder -is the definition of romance sexist? That is, do we insist on the HEA because that's what women (generalising)find romantic - perhaps for a man (generalising) a tale of lost or unattainable love is genuinely a more romantic story.

And if most men think that's romantic (and I can't know that they do: I was just wondering why you read that story so often) then shouldn't we be prepared to call those books 'romances' as well?

orannia said...

I usually read those 'blurbs' at the start of a chapter, otherwise the OCD kicks in and I get all paranoid that I haven't read them! *SIGH*

And I tried to read The Time Traveller's Wife about 6 years ago...I just couldn't get into it...

Mitzi H. said...

I agree...none of those books are (romance novels) as far as I'm concerned. I love the Jamie/Claire saga but Echo had very little Jamie/Claire romantic moments.

Michelle Styles said...

I believe the word you are looking for is epigraph -- a quotation set at the beginning of a literary work or one of its divisions (ie chapters).

It can depend if I read them or not.

I think the list is more poular women's fiction rather than romance.

Janice said...

I've read The Friday Night Knitting Club Novel by Kate Jacobs and I'm glad to see there is a sequel. It was partly a love story, I think, but most of it focused on the relationships with the women in the knitting group. It is a wonderful book and a very good read!! So I would say that it wasn't a "romance" book.

nath said...

IDK, booksellers always tend to confuse anything with a "love story" with romance books. For them, chick-lit is also romance, urban fantasy with a love story = romance... even books with no HEA = romance. Seriously, how hard is it to do the difference?

Okay, so what book have you been reading, Kristie!

I don't usually read the little blurb at the beginning of the chapters, especially if they are only quotes. I do read them though if they are related to the story. I've just finished Indiscreet... and those little blurbs were time and location indications, so important!

Pattepoilue - the reason why there are 5 LKH on the French list is probably because they've just recently been translated in French. That's my feeling.

Kristie (J) said...

Nath: I know a lot of non dedicated romance readers just don`t `get`what makes a romance novel a romance novel. And it frustrates the heck out of me. And for what I`ve been reading; *laughing* non of these ones. I`ve been reading `real` romance books.

Janice: that`s the impression I got on reading the storyline - that it`s more a women`s fiction with romance in it. And those are fine - but the shouldn`t be classified as romance.

And why does Destructo cat, with whom I have a love/hate relationship, always want my undivided attention when I`m trying to type out repliesÉ. It takes so much longer trying to type with one hand! And how do I get off French mode on this keyboardÉ

Michelle: Thanks for the word! I wondered what they were called.
And us romance readers (and writers know this list is a lot more women`s fiction then romance, but I double-checked and yep, Amazon is calling them all `romance even though they ARE NOT ROMANCE

Mitzi: I read Outlander and parts of DIA a while ago and I agree with the author - as good as they are, they aren`t romance in the way I see it.

Orannia: *g*. I really do appreciate that authors who do this are going that extra mile and giving us more bang for our buck, so I`m glad that there are readers who read them.

Marianne: *laughing* I hear you about the extra L. There are so many American spellings that just aren`t right aren`t thereÉ (sorry - French mode keyboard). I just can`t bring myself to type colour without that U for example - even though it always gets the red underline.
(oh thank goodness - Destructo Cat jumped down - now I have the used of two hands again!!)
I don`t know if romance written by men is sexist exactly - but I do think men see it differently. My oldest son came over yesterday (and stayed and stayed and stayed - meanwhile I had a hundred and one things to do - but anyway) and we got into a bit of a discussion about love and marriage and the kind of thing and he just doesn`t see it the same as I - we started off on a discussion about Tiger and marriage. Now I realize that not all men are the same - but I don`t think `commitment` means as much to many men as it does women. So the thought of the hero dying at the end of a story and a possible new love interest just isn`t as devastating to a guy as the HEA.
And since romances are primarily for women - we read the much greater majority of them - I think what women think should rule (laughing)
If you follow it through and men start reading romance written by men - and the heroes/heroines start dying at the end - can you imagine how horrid that would beÉÉ (French mode again - I`m really typing question marks)
I shudder at the thought.

KatieMack - *g* not only Bad Amazon - but Wrong Amazon!!! I don`t suppose if I wrote to them and corrected them in their labelling they would pay any attention to me though :-(

Kristie (J) said...

Blodeuedd: *g* I do give some authors bonus points for adding those extra bits even though it`s wasted on this reader for the most part.

Dang Destructo is back!

Willaful: But that`s a good thing!! You are standing in for all of us who don`t read them - taking one for the team so to speak :-)

D.L. Makes one think that the PTB at Amazon who decide these things are non-romance reading guys who relly don`t have a clue doesn`t it!

Hilcia: Considering that most of
Henry VIII`s wives ended up being divorced, fying or getting their heads chopped off - there really isn`t really much of the required HEA in Gregory`s books is theirÉ
And there IS is a difference between a love story and a romance!!

(why am I letting a cat - a cat who is slowly destroying mt house - not to mention clawing to pieces my last role of Charmin toilet paper make me type one-handedÉ)

JMC: I don`t know much about the mother of the two young boys and Richard the third - but nope - not a romance when your sons disappear and remain one of the great mysteries.

Sula: Alas that I don`t have the power to make Amazon change their tune. In the meantime - the REAL romances aren`t getting the attention they deserve as the list is clogged up with non-romance books that Amazon in their ignorance has classified as romance. And as much as TTW is very popular, I don`t think it`s one I will read.

Statch: *laughing* I don`t think even that`s right. Nicholas Sparks does NOT right romance!!! KEVIN COSTNER DIED!!! He DIED Amazon - how is that romance!!!! He was just getting over the death of his wife and ready to move on with Sean Penn`s wife/ex-wife who knows - and he`s saving the life of a family and he damn well dies!!
(ahem - I really must get over that)

Pattepoilue: FIVE LKH books listed on the French version (question mark, question mark, question mark)
That`s just ..... wrong!!

LustyReader: *g* It`s true!! I`ve been around a lot longer and I know better then some guy who doesn`t even probably know what romance is!!
And I`ve heard that about Sparks - which is one reason I don`t read his books. What`s the point in getting all invested in the characters - only to see one of them die(question mark)

Anonymous said...

I've tried some of the books on the list and put them down, most often from boredom before chapter 3.

May I ask you about some other books though? For example, do you think Balogh's "Dancing with Clara" or "Tempting Harriet" are romances?
Or are they character studies?