Three Pen Names, One Romance Author

Did you know Jayne Ann Krentz , the author of numerous of New York Times bestsellers, uses three different pen names?

As Jayne Ann Krentz (her married name) she writes contemporary romantic-suspense.

When All the Girls Have Gone
When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames–literally.

She uses Amanda Quick for her novels of historical romantic-suspense.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much
In 1930’s Hollywood, rookie reporter Irene Glasson (who found her previous employer murdered) discovers the body of an actress at the bottom of a California hotel pool. She investigates and finds herself drawn to Oliver Ward, a former magician. As the mystery deepens and more women die by drowning, Irene struggles to keep her own past a secret while she and Oliver hunt for the killer.

Jayne Castle (her birth name) is reserved for her stories of futuristic/paranormal romantic-suspense.

Illusion Town
Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all. For that matter, neither does Elias Coopersmith, her new husband. All either of them can remember is that they were on the run. The coolly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity and interest. And even her dust bunny likes him! Set on the planet of Harmony in the future.

“I am often asked why I use a variety of pen names,” Krentz says.  “The answer is that this way readers always know which of my three worlds they will be entering when they pick up one of my books.”

Krentz’s three worlds often intermingle. Her Arcane Society series, books about men and women with paranormal power, spans all three of her worlds. Second Sight, written under the Amanda Quick pen name,  takes place in Victorian England at a time when the very old, very secret Arcane Society is about to run head-first into the 20th century. Flash forward to Jayne Ann Krentz’s White Lies, a tale of the Arcane Society in the 21st century. And then jump all the way to Jayne Castle’s Midnight Crystal, an Arcane society novel that takes place on the planet Harmony in the future. Characters from the novels that take place in the past are often referenced in the modern-day stories and the futuristic tales.

Not all her novels involve the paranormal. Many of her contemporary romance novels are stories of suspense in which the main characters must unravel a mystery that usually involves tracking down a killer.  Secret Sisters, River Road and Trust No One are three recently published works that fall into this category.

 

The library owns many of Krentz’s titles. if you enjoy romance and love romantic suspense and the paranormal, then any of Krentz’s three worlds will delight you.

Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride

Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley is a funny and interesting biographical graphic novel about Lucy’s relationship with her boyfriend, John, and their wedding. This book takes you through how they met in college, moved in together, broke up, dated other people for three years, then abruptly became engaged.

Then, it takes you through a year of a DIY wedding. DIY: decorations (ALL the decorations), music playlist, ties for the men in the wedding party, photo booth, personalized gifts for every single guest, personalized gifts for everyone in the wedding party, and the list goes on. What they could not do themselves they worked out as cheaply as possible: a wedding dress that was on sale (it had pockets!), a backyard barn built for the occasion, and a friend of the family to cater everything.

There is also plenty of wedding stress. Lucy’s mother had her own list of guests to invite that mostly consisted of people who were strangers to Lucy and John, and it was longer than Lucy and John’s list of guests. The mother-of-the-bride also kept insisting on other things such as hiring a wedding planner without consulting the bride and groom, changing the size of the intended barn which forced the couple to remove guests from their invitation list, a band instead of their DIY playlist, and her badly-behaved dog walking down the aisle at the wedding. As Lucy and John worked through all of this stress, Lucy also reflected on what weddings used to be, what they have become, what marrying a man means for her bisexuality, and what she wants most in a marriage.

Genre: Non-fiction graphic novel

Setting: Most of the story takes place in modern-day Chicago and New York state.

Number of pages: 291

Is this good for a book club? Yes, if the club is willing to read a graphic novel. This book contains a lot of good discussion material about an important cultural milestone. It is also very quick to read, despite the number of pages.

Themes: The history of weddings, the modern wedding industry’s influence on what people think weddings are supposed to be (and what they are supposed to cost), how weddings can negatively impact people who are not heterosexual, what it means to have a good marriage, different types of relationships, and how wedding stress can bring out the worst in people.

Objectionable content: Suggestive themes, sexuality, and alcohol.

Can children read this? Teenagers would enjoy this.

Who would like this? Anyone who is preparing for their own wedding, preparing for someone else’s wedding, has gone through a wedding, thinks weddings are overrated, thinks weddings are wonderful, or enjoys examining the wedding industry.

Rating: Five stars

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Classic Read: The Ladies of Missalonghi

ladies2I recently revisited an old favorite, a  short novel set in Australia in the early 1900’s. The Ladies of Missalonghi, a tale by Australian author Colleen McCullough, has a rather dismal start. Missy Wright, a thirty-three year old spinster, lives in the town of Byron with her widowed mother and crippled aunt. The three women scrape along in genteel poverty, the victims of manipulative and greedy richer relatives. Their days are always the same: meager meals, chores, and the endless handicrafts that they create to fill the empty hours.

Missy, who believes her lack of beauty and lack of money have doomed her to never marry, has one escape from the dreariness of her life. She borrows novels from the local lending library and imagines the most spectacular adventures in her mind. The librarian, a distant relation named Una, is bright and vivacious and very interested in Missy, who is generally considered a non-entity by her other relatives.

Slowly, as Missy interacts with Una, she begins to change. She stops letting local shopkeepers push her around. She stands up against a rude and condescending cousin. She takes walks alone in the bush, experiencing the beauty of her natural environment, an experience that has always been denied her in the interest of keeping her “safe”.

Missy’s evolution is an unconventional fairy tale. No one rescues her; she saves herself. Una is an example for Missy to follow rather than a fairy godmother who grants requests. There is a prince of sorts–John Smith, a mysterious newcomer to the town of Byron who is not searching for a princess but running from his past.

This short tale can be read in one sitting. Through-out the story, I kept  wondering if Missy’s newfound strength would backfire. Could she possibly stand up to an entire town, not to mention a tradition of systematic discrimination against the poor widows and spinsters in her family? Would those richer relations turn and crush her? Would her mother and aunt, who are so steeped in family tradition, even support her in her quest for freedom? There were a few surprises before I discovered the answers to these questions.

This light yet lovely tale is enjoyable.  A recommended read for those who like light romance with descriptive settings.

Like Romance Novels but Hate the Covers? Here’s one solution.

I’m going to come clean – I’m a romance reader. There, I’ve said it. There can be some  stigma about the genre, though. Smart women don’t read romance. Romance is poorly-written schlock. It’s paperback porn. And the covers – oh the covers! – don’t exactly help overcome these assumptions about the quality of romance books.

Well, I’m a smart woman. I’m not a fan of bad writing. And the porn argument is pretty sexist. One thing I can’t argue with, though, are the covers; so many of them are just awful.

Like every genre, they’re not ALL gems, but these cheesy covers dumb the books down considerably. So what’s a romance-loving, cover-cringing reader to do?

E-books! We can read the books we like without flashing the eyebrow-raising covers around. Until the publishers figure out that romance readers don’t need a disembodied torso on the cover to sell copies, I will do most of my reading with a digital book.

These are just a few books I’ve loved in which the cover (and sometimes even the title!) had little or nothing to do with the actual story. If I were going by the covers, I probably wouldn’t have picked up these books, and would have missed some great reads:

 

 

 

Lucky for me, the library has digital copies of these titles, plus a LOT more. Cheshire Library has a large collection of all types of ebooks (including romance) available to download with your CPL card to your device of choice.  Our OverDrive platform has over 1500 romance ebooks available to check out, while our hoopla platform has over 1000. Enough to keep the most voracious reader supplied with happy endings.    

Tossing and Turning? Try an Audiobook!

I think we all have nights when sleep eludes us. Our brains start whirling and it’s hard to quiet our thoughts enough to fall asleep. Some people take a pill. I take a book, an audiobook, that is.

I have found that listening to audiobooks in bed at night is the best way to redirect my thoughts away from all the stuff that’s keeping me awake. I discovered this by accident when my children were young and would wake up from a nightmare. They would inevitably be too keyed up to fall back to sleep, and I would stay up with them, usually telling them a story to get their mind off the bad dream until they could drift back off to sleep.

Years later, I had trouble sleeping myself and decided to adapt the storytelling method that had worked with my kids. I started listening to audiobooks at bedtime. What a help they were! I would inevitably fall asleep faster with the audiobook than without, and I found a way to squeeze a little extra “reading” time in!

Now, not all audiobooks are suitable for relaxing bedtime listening. A gruesome crime novel or horror story kind of defeats the purpose – I reserve grittier fare for print reading. Likewise, I find most mysteries require too much attention to detail, so are not the best for my “bedtime stories”. Romance, humor, fantasy, and classics have become my nighttime listening go-tos.

Here are a few suggestions if you want to give my insomnia-cure a try (great for daytime listening, too!):

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, read by Dan O’Grady. A perfect match of book and narrator, this quirky Aussie love story is a delight.

The Martian by Andy Weir, read by R.C. Bray. Terrific narration by Bray gets character Mark Watney’s nerdy genius and dry humor just right.

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman, read by George Newbern. You’ll quickly embrace the prickly Ove, and the neighbors who invade his formerly well-ordered life.

The Harry Potter audiobooks by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale. Jim Dale is a perfect example of how the right narrator can elevate even the best books. He’s won many awards for his narration of the Harry Potter series, and all the accolades are deserved.

The His Dark Materials audiobooks by Philip Pullman, performed by a full cast. Another series that absolutely blooms to life in audio, with this full cast performance pulled together by Pullman’s narration. It’s stunning.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Rob Inglis. Even if you’ve read the book, you’ll get something new out of the audiobook. If you like Inglis’s narration of The Hobbit, you can listen to him read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well.

The Outlander audiobooks by Diana Gabaldon, read by Davina Porter. Again, even if you’ve read the Outlander series before, you will find new things to love about it in Davina Porter’s skilled narration. And it’s nice to hear all the Gaelic words pronounced correctly!

Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author. This book is, quite frankly, hysterical, and Tina Fey’s narration will have you chuckling into your pillow.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, read by Jeremy Irons. Sure, it’s the story of a middle-aged man’s unhealthy obsession with a teenager, but the prose is practically poetry and Jeremy Iron’s narration is mesmerizing.