Romance Quickies: “I Give You My Body…” and The Suffragette Scandal

Book Cover: "I Give You My Body . . .": How I Write Sex Scenes by Diana Gabaldon“I Give You My Body . . .”: How I Write Sex Scenes by Diana Gabaldon

Publisher/Year: Dell, 2016
Format: eBook
Pages: 118
Source: Purchased

What it is: Diana Gabaldon, the woman behind the Outlander series, gives a master class in writing sex scenes. She includes excerpts from her own novels and then breaks them down, analyzing the reasons why they work so well. She also breaks down different types of sex scenes, running the gamut from the down and dirty to sex scenes that don’t have any sex at all.

Why I read it: I’ve actually never read any of the Outlander books, but even then, I’ve heard about how well she writes sex scenes. I picked this one up because I heard Gabaldon discussing the book on the Authorized: Season 2 podcast on Audible. It just sounded really fascinating. There are tons of writing books out there, but not so much on this particular topic.

What I thought: Gabaldon makes a distinction between writing sex scenes and writing erotica, and this book is not about erotica. She focuses a lot on setting the mood and the scene, and her examples show the subtleties of her style choices. It was an interesting read, and although it’s fairly short, it contains a lot of good advice on writing in general.



Book cover: The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney MilanThe Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

Publisher/Year: Courtney Milan, 2014
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Length: 10 hours, 54 minutes
Source: Audible Romance Package

What it is: Frederica “Free” Marshall is a headstrong suffragette, journalist, and newspaper publisher. Edward Clark is, by his own admission, a scoundrel who cannot be trusted. Free’s newspaper and entire livelihood is being threatened by a powerful aristocrat, and Edward approaches her to offer his assistance, confessing up front that he’s doing so only to seek revenge on the man who ruined him years before. This is Book 4 in the Brothers Sinister series, but I just jumped straight into this one; the Brothers Sinister are mentioned a couple of times, but it’s not a big part of the story.

Why I listened to it: Hel-lo? Feminist historical romance. That, and it was universally adored by my friends the year it came out. It’s been on my TBR list ever since.

What I thought: I think this might have been my first historical romance novel, and I was hooked. Milan is a talented writer who pays attention to detail and carefully fleshes out her characters’ backgrounds. Free is a feisty feminist and Edward Clark is a rogue with a soft spot, and together, they talk about everything from exclamation points to living with PTSD. Seriously. And yes, there’s well-written sex. *fans self*

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Fresh Complaint

Book cover: Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey EugenidesI was in Austin this past weekend doing a panel for Nasty Women, but I had the first day of the festival all to myself. One of the big events I’d been dying to attend was the panel with Jeffrey Eugenides and Claire Messud. It’s a six hour drive from South Texas up to Austin, and I used the opportunity to finish listening to Fresh Complaint, a collection of stories written between 1988 to 2017. With the exception of the title story, most of the stories had been previously published in other places.

Early in the panel, Eugenides bemoaned a common description he’d been seeing in reviews of his book: it’s about depressed middle-aged men. “It’s not just about that,” he protested. “There’s a story about two older women, and there’s a story about a Pakistani teenager.”

Yeah. About that.

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Trust No Aunty

Book cover: Trust No Aunty by Maria QamarI’m not sure how this book popped up on my radar several months ago. Perhaps it was the bright yellow cover? Perhaps it was the Lichtenstein-inspired artwork? Or maybe the cheeky title? Whatever it was, I hella eager to track down a copy (not an easy feat since it’s a new book and a lot of libraries don’t really ILL new books). But I finally got my copy!

With Trust No Aunty, Maria Qamar — the woman behind the @hatecopy account on Instagram — has channeled her experiences as a South Asian immigrant in Canada into a tongue-in-cheek guide to handling Desi “aunties” (elders) like a pro. The book is divided into different types of aunties: The Online Stalker Aunty, The Matchmaker Aunty, The Weight-Watcher Aunty, and so forth. Handling each type of aunty comes with its own set of potential cultural minefields, so laying out different scenarios, Qamar compares rookie moves vs. boss moves to come out on top. And to help you win even more in life, Qamar offers humorous tips on surviving on a tiny budget, working out Desi-style, dating, and handling cultural appropriation.

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Sing, Unburied, Sing

32920226Jesmyn Ward has been publishing regularly ever since winning the 2011 National Book Award — Men We Reaped in 2013 and an anthology of edited works, The Fire This Time, in 2016 — but Sing, Unburied, Sing is her first novel since Salvage the Bones. As with her previous works, Ward again returns to Mississippi to follow a black family that’s on the brink of major changes.

Told mostly in chronological order through the eyes of rotating narrators, the story follows Jojo, a boy on the cusp of leaving childhood. He lives with his grandparents, Mam and Pop, and is often his baby sister’s main caregiver and protector. Sometimes his mother, Leonie, shows up, but she struggles with meth addiction and lacks mothering instincts at best and is negligent at worst. Jojo loves his grandparents, and Pop is the steadiest father figure he has ever had. Mam, meanwhile, seems to be in her final days of battling cancer; she stays upstairs, consumed by pain.

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