Kim has been busy...
Catching up on her reading backlist. I think I've been buying too many books from Booksale and ebay.ph lately. I've been on a book buying binge since the Powerbooks and National book sales last August/September. It really doesn't help that Booksale has so many cheap hard-to-find books if one is patient enough to dig through their bargain piles.
I've collected almost all of Georgette Heyer's 20+ book strong backlist of Regency/Georgian romances via Booksale, and at prices from as low as 20 pesos for older copies to 95 pesos for the more recent Harlequin reprints (which I don't like because the copy editing for these editions is horrible).
My Mercedes Lackey collection was patiently accumulated from Booksale over the span of a decade (I started back in high school), and I've got nearly all of Roger Zelazny's Amber novels (for around 20-30 pesos per book) and Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books from Booksale as well.
I'm slowly building up my Anita Blake collection through Booksale (actual copies of the books are definitely better than ebooks, and my copies of Guilty Pleasures and Bloody Bones were hardcovers bought for 160 pesos each--definitely steals).
A great find from last week was a copy of Micheal Moorcock's "Elric of Melnibone" (book one of his Elric series. I think I've got two more volumes from Booksale tucked away somewhere, but I can't remember which volumes they are anymore) for 30 pesos. Anyway, you get the picture, right? It really doesn't help that Booksale offers discounts if your total purchase exceeds 1000 pesos--sometimes I find myself picking up extra books to avail myself of the discount, particularly if I find that my "pile" is already close to the 1000 peso mark...
Here's something interesting though. The bulk of my recent Booksale purchases have been regency romances from Signet and Zebra. Seems that my Georgette Heyer binge has made me curious about her successors. Lol. Anyway, reading regencies in between fantasy books is a great way to "unwind" after being exposed to all that world-building. ^^;;
I know I've said countless times that I wouldn't be caught dead reading a romance novel, but I guess that I'll have to revise my views in light of recent events. A well-written historical romance novel is now considered acceptable reading material, but by well-written, I mean a book that is a)historically accurate (with regard to such things as speech patterns, settings, and habits/mannerisms), b)has well-developed characters that detract from the often unavoidable use of tired/overused plot devices in the genre, and c)relies on the plot rather than the steamy sex scenes to hold reader interest.
Which is probably why I'm loving traditional regencies (it's a shame that they've been discontinued after losing most of their market to the longer and steamier historicals), since what I've read so far run the gamut from sweet to somewhat steamy, but almost all of them project a more historically accurate "feel" compared to their longer counterparts, the historical romances. Maybe it's because regencies have to stick to the conventions of the genre (as laid down by Heyer, and Jane Austen before her), while historicals have no such precedent.
For example, one popular historical romance author that a lot of my friends seem to love is Judith McNaught (whom Mel playfully calls Judith McNaught-y because of her looooong, detailed lovemaking scenes), but I can't seem to enjoy her books as much as I should be, because the American speech patterns and the lack of common Regency-era terms/phrases/cant (A carriage is a carriage is a carriage--there is usually no distinction whether a wheeled conveyance is a travelling carriage, a post-chaise, a curricle, a phaeton, a barouche, a landau, a mail-coach, or a common stagecoach. The heroes usually possess all the characteristics of the Corinthian, yet none of the other characters ever mention them as such) and practices (Why is there little or no mention of Almack's, the great Marriage Mart, despite the fact that most of her heroines have gone to spend the "Season" in London? Why do the heroines engage in dancing the "scandalous" waltz, which a debutante is not allowed to do unless she has been granted permission by the patronesses of Almack's, lest she be considered "fast"? Why are the heroes, despite their being business-savvy dukes, marquesses, and earls, never seen taking their seats in the House of Lords?). In a regency romance, such things are explained properly, or at least mentioned in relation to the story, which adds a dash or authentic regency flavor to the book/s. Which is why regency romance authors who later defected to writing historicals, such as Mary Balogh, Edith Layton, Barbara Metzger, and Stephanie Laurens (whose love scenes are even more explicit than Judith McNaught's, BTW), usually turn out more convincing works compared to other popular writers such as Judith McNaught and Johanna Lindsey, who do not come from the same background.
Of course, some people would argue that a great story stands for itself, and a good writer is able to portray and develop the kind of characters that readers would emphatize with. But I do believe that tacking the word "historical" to a novel sets the bar a bit higher than just plain good storytelling. The historical setting adds depth to the characters, and if properly portrayed, often helps the reader define the individual characters' thoughts and actions, thus enabling them to place themselves in the same milieu as the characters.
Anyway, before this post turns into a dissertation on the romance genre, I'd like to greet everyone a Merry Christmas.