Horimiya, Vol. 8 returns to the series’ lighthearted slice-of-life tone

I’m extremely happy with the newest volume of Horimiya:

Hori and Miyamura return to the forefront in Volume 8, and their interactions are absolutely adorable. After the past two volumes, this one is especially refreshing as it returning to a more typical slice-of-life storyline.

You can find my full review at Girls in Capes.

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The Job by Jove Belle

From Goodreads:

FBI agent Sera Warren has been working undercover to track a domestic terrorist group to its origins. When her cover is blown, her priority shifts from closing her case to just making it through the day alive. She ends up in the middle of a bank heist, pointing a gun at her ex-girlfriend, Torrence “Tor” Jewel. She sees a flicker of recognition in Tor’s eyes as she pulls her gun and yells, “On the floor!”

Before Tor can fully register that “the one who got away” is standing in front of her, she’s pushed facedown onto the floor. Sera might as well shoot her now because as soon as she gets up, Tor’s going to kill her. Or kiss her. She’s still undecided.

First, they have to survive their reunion, then they can worry about happily ever after.

When I found this title on NetGalley, I was a little hesitant despite how intrigued I was by the summary.  Romance isn’t typically up my alley, and neither are thrillers.  Intrigue won out, though, and here we are now.

I definitely didn’t regret it.  The style is straightforward and fun, and the pacing feels great for a thriller.  The book starts in the middle of action, no setup, and Sera’s immediately thrust into a dangerous adventure largely involving her cover being totally, completely blown.

Sera’s voice was one of my favorite things about the book, though it’s told from both Sera and Tor’s perspectives.  Sera is very, very funny.  I love how she thinks of things, I love how she talks — especially to Marcus, the leader of the group robbing the bank — and I love the way she thinks and talks about Tor, who is obviously incredibly important to her even 10 years after their relationship dissolved.

The romance aspect of the book was pretty satisfying, as well.  I’m a huge sucker for childhood friend-style love stories, and while Sera and Tor aren’t quite childhood friend-level, their college sweetheart story really gets me where it counts.  The book has flashbacks to their time together during college, and seeing the two of them during their younger days and comparing it to the women they’ve become is fun and very sweet, since their early relationship has a good balance of awkward and innocent and fun.

That being said, there wasn’t much that really stuck out about this book for me.  It was a fun adventure and an exciting ride, but not particularly innovative — just pure entertainment.  Recommended more for the thriller aspect than the romance aspect – there’s lots of shooting and a bit of bank robbery-related gore.

3.5 out of 5 stars

ARC received via NetGalley.

[Guest Post] Romancing the Tome – or “You and Me Could Write a Bad Romance”

This is my fifth NaNoWriMo. Twice, I finished over 50K.  Both times it was with mystery novels. Once, I changed ideas around mid-November.

I advise against this. Okay, sure, I could have kept everything I wrote the first half of the month and uploaded some kind of Frankenstein manuscript for the final count, but I wanted to be honest in my attempt. So I started from scratch.  Needless to say, it didn’t go anywhere. On the other two attempts, the stories were contemporary romance.

One went out with a bored sigh. Don’t get me wrong – I liked the characters and I thought the concept was decent. But it just didn’t have any zest. Sorry, honey, but I don’t think we should see each other anymore. It’s not you – it’s me.

The other one is in progress… as of this writing, 9,000 words behind the curve. But NaNo love is worth fighting for.

I enjoy romance novels – from Silhouette Love-inspired to Taming the Highlander-type bodice rippers. The first contemporary romance I ever read was Susan Andersen’s Baby, Don’t Go. It had spark. It was feisty. I wrote a fan letter to the author. And I decided I wanted to write contemporary romances too. I even bought Romance Writing for Dummies (don’t laugh – it’s a great reference for writers of any genre).

Writing romance that isn’t page after page of clichés is hard, and I’m developing new respect for the writers who do it all the time and make it engaging. My concerns may just stem from my own insecurities about writing in general. Maybe you can relate.  But here’s what I’ve confronted so far.

  • “Overexposure”:  Once the main characters have had their roll in the hay, or quickie in the broom closet, or whatever…I reread it and think, “Sweet biscuits, if anyone finds out I wrote this, I’ll never be able to show my face in public!”  Is it too much? Is it too goofy? Is it even doable? Maybe I need more research. I don’t seem to have a problem writing it; publishing it might be another story (so to speak). Well, this is NaNoWriMo. It’s about first drafts. On rewrite, I might opt for a more controlled burn… or a good pen name.
  • Fantasy versus Real World: I can’t relate to being swept off my feet by the chiseled rancher next door, and Alpha Males irritate me. But I like the self-employed guy with the nice smile who lives down the street. And I like the courage of the woman reinventing herself after a debilitating accident. My NaNo hero has a disability. The heroine is about to get everything she ever wanted, but runs away because she’s afraid she’s wrong. Things happen. Choices are made. Every day. Sometimes our responses are truly heroic.
  • Too much romance, not enough challenge: granted, I’m less than halfway through the word count – and I’m skipping around, not writing chronologically – but I feel like these two haven’t struggled enough. Hang on, kids. I’m about to make your lives miserable – and you’ll love me for it. No ninja pirates, but… well, you’ll have to wait and see.

Conundrums aside, I’m happy with the mechanics of the story; I believe there’s a good balance of dialogue and narrative. It’s all about the word play, as Jason Mraz would say, and getting fifty-thousand words closer to a romance novel I can love.

Elizabeth Irwin is an independent word contractor, which is a fancy way of saying freelance editor and writer, living in Sylvania, Ohio. She coordinates the Write Brain Workshop for the Northwest Ohio Writers Forum, teaches writing-related classes at Owens Community College, and writes everything from articles to flash fiction to memoir. You can find her blog “I Face the Sun” here.