A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Been cleaning out my blogroll…

… which is very depressing. Since I actually read blogs from an RSS reader, I hadn’t consciously noticed how many of them are defunct. In brighter news, quite a few I read aren’t listed, so I’ll get those added.

I deleted most blogs that haven’t been updated in years, but kept “Love in the Margins,” in memory of meoskop.

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Our new clubhouse: no literary snobs allowed!

I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable using Twitter, given its CEO’s tendency to pal around with white supremacists. I also dislike the whole concept of social capital, and the lengths people will go to achieve it. I recognize twitter’s value to people, especially marginalized people, but it came to point where I had to draw a line in the sand.

So with the help of my far-too-generous husband, I’ve opened up a mastadon “instance” (ie server) for Romancelandia. No ads. No profits. Racists and their ilk will be booted ASAP. It has a learning curve because it’s extremely customizable, but the basic form is similar to twitter, so it’s easy to get started “tooting.”

If you want to join and can’t find it, leave a comment or use the contact me form and I’ll hook you up.

I hope to see you soon!


So, This Happened



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The RITAs and Me: an Acquaintance

I’m stealing borrowing with permission this idea and the format from Ana of Immersed in Books. It’s always interesting to see how the Rita nominees correlate with my own reading. (Less and less each year, I’d say, as I read fewer books published by mainstream publishers.) So this is what I’ve read from the nominees.

Nominees by category:

Best First Book: 0/6

Contemporary Romance: Long: 2/7

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan. An enjoyable story. Although I disliked the heroine’s pressure on the hero and invasion of his privacy in the name of good will, it was so effectively emotional that it may be my favorite of the series.

Pansies by Alexis Hall. Too busy for me, but I enjoyed the unusually serious look at a former bully and bull-ee relationship, and the “return to a small town” trope set in an ugly, provincial English town full of bigots.

I also DNF’d Hot in Hellcat Canyon by Julie Anne Long. There was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t grabbing me.

Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length: 0/10

Contemporary Romance: Short: 0/10

Erotic Romance: 0/5

Historical Romance: Long: 1/4

No Mistress of Mine by Laura Lee Gurhke. (I’m really puzzled as to why this is in long rather than short. It was a quick read. I guess there’s just an arbitrary page count?) I don’t have any notes about this one, though I remember enjoying it. I think the heroine was well drawn and strong.

Historical Romance: Short: 2/6

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt. This is my favorite of the RITA nominees I’ve read: it was fresh and fun, and I’m rooting for it. My review.

The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries. My first Jeffries read in awhile and I was underwhelmed. My notes are that the plot was all over the place.

Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance: 0/4

I’m going to check out all these nominees, because that’s a category I often enjoy.

Paranormal Romance: 0/8

I plan to read The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre.


Romance Novella: 0/7

Two DNFs for me here. I generally love Courtney Milan’s books but her Worth saga has been a complete failure for me. It feels strained and bloated. And I didn’t get into Tycoon by Shupe, though I don’t remember why.

Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements: 0/4

Completely unsurprising.

Romantic Suspense: 0/8

Also pretty unsurprising, this year. I hope this category will work for me again someday. Right now, the world is too scary.

Young Adult Romance 0/4

Not that surprising. I mostly read YA fantasy.

Total read: 5. Total DNF‘d: 3

It will be interesting to see if any of those 5 turns out to be a winner. Go Duke of Sin!



Apropos of Something

Years ago I was in an improv class at a community college. Two guys were doing a scene which in some way involved a vacuum cleaner. One of them opened the scene as a very stereotypical, femmy, “straight guy doing a gay guy” bit.

The teacher stopped him, and tore him a new one. I wish I could remember everything she said. Because she then had them restart, and it was the best scene ever. The guy became a real person who was passionately attached to his vacuum cleaner. It was unique, and funny in a way the first scene could never have been.

I love that that kid reached down inside himself and found an authentic way to do that scene, after being publicly told off. He listened, and he learned.

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Three Day Quote Challenge, Day Three

Thanks again to Erin Burns for my nomination.


  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Publish a quote on 3 consecutive days on your blog.  The quote can be one of your own, from a book, movie, or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers each day to carry on this endeavor.

Quote number 3

“…you fall in and out of love with the same person your whole life, and people who understand that stay married.” Kendall Hailey (quoting her father, Oliver Hailey,) The Day I Became an Autodidact

I thought of finding something more original, because I have quoted this approximately five gazillion times already, but it’s unquestionably one of the most influential pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered. It’s quite possible my husband and I wouldn’t be looking forward to the 30th anniversary of our first date without it.

I nominate:

Julia Roberts Towe, an author who writes beautifully about autism as well as romance.

Rane, one of my oldest book friends, and one who reads outside the herd.

Rameau, who always has interesting opinions.

I hope no one is feeling left out… I promise I didn’t think of you and then think, “nah, that would suck.”


Three Day Quote Challenge, Day One

I’ve been (very flatteringly) nominated for this challenge by frequent commenter Erin Burns. Thank you to Erin! I hadn’t actually realized before this that she had a blog, but it looks to have the kind of heartfelt, witty, personal reviews that I enjoy.


  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Publish a quote on 3 consecutive days on your blog.  The quote can be one of your own, from a book, movie, or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers each day to carry on this endeavor.

Quote number 1

“She ate toast in bed, then reread a favorite book, taking comfort from a story where she knew the outcome would be good and just and right.” — Sarah Mayberry, Within Reach

Not hard to see why I like this quote, which affirms the value of rereading, of “formulaic” fiction, and of reader satisfaction. Books are one place where we can reliably get a good, just, right ending when we need one, thank goodness.

ETA: My husband points out that this works less well with old comfort reads when you discover they’ve since been visited by the racism fairy. 😦

I nominate:

Liz of Something More, who always has something interesting to say, no matter what the topic.

Jackie of Romance Novels for Feminists, who I bet has some amazing quotes to share.

The always delightful “Miss Bates,” of Miss Bates Reads Romance, who somehow manages to write the longest reviews while still being pithy.


Caught in the Act

Hub and I were having lunch today and I noticed four college-aged kids nearby, an Asian guy sitting with a white girl and white guy sitting with an Asian girl. And I immediately started wondering about why they were all together. Were the two Asian people siblings? They didn’t look ethnically similar…

And then I realized I’d caught myself being totally racist. And in a way that’s particularly egregious, because there’s so much of that kind of racism/heterocentrism/ableism etc. in the book world. “Why are there black people in this historical?” “Why is this couple lesbians when it’s not important to the story?” “Why does there need to be someone in a wheelchair — it’s just pandering.”

Why does there need to be any kind of story about four friends or coworkers or whatever eating in a restaurant, just because two of them aren’t white? Because I’m a white person and  I’ve absorbed a lot of shit and I may never get rid of it all. 😦

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Facts, Truth, and Interpretation – Where My Head is At Today

There’s a huge controversy going on in Romancelandia right now, about a RITA-nominated book featuring a romance between a Jewish woman and a concentration camp commandant. I’m not writing here about the book, which I haven’t read, but about my personal reaction to the controversy itself, which is bringing up some things for me.

One is that I have a huge regard for truth, i.e. facts. This is likely my less than neurotypical side revealing itself: I get extremely perturbed by people getting facts wrong. It bothers me a lot that false assumptions about the book have solidified into fact; it bothers me a lot that I’m the only person who seemed to be bothered by that. (Though you’d think I’d be used to it by now.)

No, I’m not saying that everyone needs to read the book to have an opinion about it. There are quite obviously major concerns with it on a very basic plot level, particularly in the appropriation of Jewish faith/history for Christian purposes. But I do think critiques need to get their basic facts right, if only to have credibility.

And the other is that I have a huge regard for truth, i.e. personal truth. Take The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers, which I named one of my best books of the year. It’s a book that many people with disabilities found very offensive, and with more knowledge and experience, I can see why they did. It’s deeply wrong that people with disabilities are so often used as props for the stories of the abled. But the thing is… that story told my truth. I didn’t see the disabled person in it as a prop because I wouldn’t see my own child as a prop. I felt heard and validated by it and that meant a lot to me.

And I think we have to be very careful to leave room for interpretation. There’s a young adult book — I forget the title — which many readers strongly critiqued as sexist and misogynistic. Then a well regarded critic (one of The Book Smugglers, I think) wrote very convincingly about it as an indictment of sexism and misogyny. Which is right? I don’t know! Even if I read the book or spoke to the author, I might not know! I would have my own interpretation and opinion based on what I had read or learned. But in a way it’s Shroedinger’s book. One person’s attempt at social satire can often be another person’s huge offense.

A while back I wrote about book reviewing as a form of journalism, requiring honesty. Today I’m reminded how much I value truth, both in regard to actual facts and in regard to personal meaning.



I Gotta Be Me

(This post is not meant as a swipe at Jane; it’s really just about me and my own feelings.)

As a reviewer, I’ve been scared on the internet for a long time.  Scared of being doxxed. Scared of offending people. Scared of making enemies. It’s never stopped me reviewing honestly, but I can’t say it’s never shut me up, much though I wish I could. I’ve been sitting on a lot of my real opinions, so as not to rock the boat or offend people I care about.

And I finally reached a line I couldn’t cross. And the amazing thing is, now I don’t feel scared any more. I would much prefer not to be doxxed or harrassed, of course. But if I am doxxed people will discover… that I’m exactly who I’ve always said I am. Right now I can’t think of anything I’d rather be.


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