My reading list for the first month of 2020 was characterized by the randomness that is typical of my reading tastes. While querying Incomparable, I’ve been making headway on research for my historical romance set in post WWII Puerto Rico, tentatively entitled La Trovadora (The Troubador), and many of my reading selections over the last few months have centered on researching for this manuscript.
I overloaded on romances in December so my selections this month tended a bit more towards lit fic and nonfiction, but a few wonderful kissing books made their way into my reads. I grouped each book accordingly.
Inspiration and Creativity:
Every single one of Austin Kleon’s books are must reads for me. They are easy to carry around, visually striking, and topically streamlined. They speak from an authentic place about the creative process and all the complications that come from balancing creativity with…everything else.
I expected a book about the merits of a social media purge, something I’m fond of doing periodically. However, what emerges in these pages is a reflection on the commodification of free time as a result of the gig economy and the resulting dissipation of boundaries between the personal and the professional. Odell covers multiple topics from the narrowing of focus in the context of art and social media to the history of unions in the United States. If you are really interested in harnessing the tools of the information age without being drowned in them, this book is a must read.
Latin American history and literature:
This selection is part of the research I am doing on my current work in progress – a historical romance set in post WWII Puerto Rico. This is a continuation of a now six-month research project to understand the important changes on the island as a result of the transition from agricultural to industrial economies. To accomplish this, I had to school myself on the role of slavery and sugar production to get a sense of the cultural, political and economic climate in Puerto Rico in the 1950s. This is an excellent non-fiction companion to Conquistadora, by Esmeralda Santiago, a novel set on a sugar cane plantation in southern Puerto Rico during the late 1800s.
When I discovered that Lydia San Andres’s romance novels set in the Caribbean, I squealed with joy. It is my dream to write a historical romance series set in Puerto Rico, my current WIP being the first in that series. She creates a fictional island and proceeds to set a delightful array of characters to the task of falling in love. Lush descriptions, and steamy, passionate scenes capture the sensibility of living on a Caribbean island and I, for one, became an instant fan. I’m looking forward to reading The Infamous Miss Rodgriguez in these upcoming months.
I have a soft spot for short story collections. When I read the reviews for Her Body and Other Parties, I knew I had to read it. She crosses genres, fusing elements of magical realism, horror, and psychological suspense for a collection that fixes its gaze on the way women’s bodies become the battleground for society’s prizes and punishments. For a writer, it is rich in lessons on pushing through prescribed literary forms to achieve narratives that resonate through the senses to strike at the secret travails of women’s lives.
National Book Award Finalists
A narrative composed of 12 separate storylines, Orange’s novel reminds the reader that Native American culture is a living, breathing thing rooted in the luminosity of spirituality, the generational pain of historic injustice, and the negotiation of vitality and relevance in a modern world. Orange manages the intersection of so many interconnected narratives with deft and delicacy.
There is something masterful and controlled about the writing in this novel, a true feat considering the young age of the novelist. Layers upon layers of stories run through this story, compounding the mystery, not only of the village Natalia, the main characters, visits as a physician, but also of her grandfather’s mysterious choices before his death. It is a novel about the power of stories, and the impossibility of secrets to remain hidden. Gorgeous.
I was recently awarded the Romance Includes You Mentorship Grant, hosted by Harlequin Romance. My debut novel, Incomparable, will be published in the Fall of 2021. In consequence, I began to snap up copies of recently published novels in Harlequin’s Special Editions and Desire lines, including this entry by Rochelle Alers. A veteran romance writer with dozens of novels to her name, Alers writes a steamy, delicious story about a physician who relocates to a small town and the sheriff who captures her heart. I’m looking forward to the other books in her series.