Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Daily Deals: A few animals, writers, and assassins

How to Talk to Your Animals Jean Craighead GeorgeHow to Talk to Your Animals by Jean Craighead George. $ 1.99

I admit I didn’t buy this book but I’ve read the Julie and the Wolves series by Jean Craighead George with the tot. I think that series should be require reading for any author writing about wolves. George makes Alaska come alive in those books through the eyes of Julie and the wolf pack. I don’t doubt for a minute that George  actually speak animal.

From the Jacket Copy:

Based upon the work of contemporary naturalists, psychologists, and zoologists, George explains the sometimes eerie phenomenon of unspoken communication observed by many pet owners, as well as the signals that our animal companions use to decide whether humans are friend or foe. Filled with loving stories of real animals “talking” to humans, this book will warm the heart of anyone who has ever loved an animal.


On Becoming a Novelist by John GardnerOn Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner. $ 1.99

I know a number of authors read this blog. (Hi, Authors!) Thus, this $1.99 non fiction instructional/guidebook might be helpful. It’s a must read, according to the blurb.

From the Jacket Copy:

John Gardner’s classic exploration of the creative processes and career paths of modern fiction writers In this essential guide, John Gardner advises the aspiring fiction author on such topics as the value of creative writing workshops, the developmental stages of literary growth, and the inevitable experience of writer’s block. Drawn from his two decades of experience in creative writing, Gardner balances his compassion for his students with his knowledge of the publishing industry, and truthfully relates his experiences of the hardships that lie ahead for aspiring authors. With an introduction by Gardner’s student Raymond Carver, On Becoming a Novelist is a must-read for those dedicated to the craft and profession of fiction writing. This ebook features a new illustrated biography of John Gardner, including original letters, rare photos, and never-before-seen documents from the Gardner family and the University of Rochester Archives.


Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin Series #1) by Jennifer EstepSpider’s Bite (Elemental Assassin Series #1) by Jennifer Estep. $ 3.99

I haven’t read this series but a number of my bookish friends have and they are fans. The Booksmugglers gave it a 6, recommended with reservations.

From the Jacket Copy:

After Gin’s family was murdered by a Fire elemental when she was thirteen, she lived on the streets and eventually became an assassin to survive. Now, Gin is given an assignment by her handler to rub out an Ashland businessman, but it turns out to be a trap. After Gin’s handler is brutally murdered, she teams up with the sexy detective investigating the case to figure out who double-crossed her and why. Only one thing is for sure —Gin has no qualms about killing her way to the top of the conspiracy.


In the Midnight Rain Barbara SamuelIn the Midnight Rain by Barbara Samuel. $ 0.00.

This is, unfortunately a Kindle only deal, but it is free. I really enjoyed “In the Midnight Rain”. It’s a contemporary set in 2000. (I saw someone on Twitter ask if a book published in 1988 was a contemporary or a historical. I think we are going to need a new category for books). I recall after reading this book that I wanted to name someone, anyone, Blue.

From the Jacket Copy:

On a quest both professional and personal, biographer Ellie Connor accepts the invitation of experimental botanist and music lover Laurence “Blue” Reynard and heads for Pine Bend, TX, to gather information on an obscure Thirties blues singer and, if she can, learn something about her unknown father. However, her search nets her far more than she expects, and Ellie is suddenly faced with a surprising family, the answer to a mysterious disappearance, and a love she never hoped to find. Compelling, complex protagonists, three-dimensional secondary characters, and a simmering sexual tension result in an intense, poignant, and beautifully rendered romance that is also filled with rural small- town ambiance and threaded with descriptions so vivid that the seductive sounds of the blues and the sultry heat of a Southern summer almost rise from the pages. Wind (Rio Grande Wedding), who also writes as Barbara Samuel, is a RITA Award-winning author and lives in the Southwest.


Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Angela
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 14:06:12

    After about a week now, I just wanted to throw in how much I like the new format too.

    I liked Spider’s Bite and continued on to enjoy the rest of the series. There are some writerly quirks that I don’t love and/or took me a bit to get used to, and some things that Gin does/says that irritate me, but overall an enjoyable UF series.

  2. Isobel Carr
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 14:19:24

    I saw someone on Twitter ask if a book published in 1988 was a contemporary or a historical. I think we are going to need a new category for books

    I think we’ve always needed it. For example, when discussing Jane Austen, lots of people talk about her writing “historical” drama/romance. But that’s not at all true. The book is historical, but Austen wrote about her contemporary society. So she’s not Sherry Thomas, she’s Julie James. Not at all the same as Sir Walter Scott, who was writing historical fiction, set in the middle ages.

  3. Brie
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 14:59:53

    I’m the one who asked that on Twitter, but I meant a book written today set in the 80’s. But Isobel brings a great point, a contemporary written in the 80’s is still a contemporary so technically Jane Austen’s books are contemporaries, of course it all depends on the point of view. We do need a new category.

  4. Carolyn Jewel
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 15:02:09

    Ah, yes, the Gardner book. I did mostly like this book and think it’s totally worth reading. But this is also the book that said college writing studies were only for people in their 20s. I ignored that and went to grad school for my MA in English at a lot older than 20. I don’t regret it for a minute even if Gardner thought I shouldn’t. Heh.

  5. Brie
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 15:25:12

    Josephine Myles suggested we called those books set in the recent past “retro” I think it’s a good name. Not old enough to be historicals but not quite set in the present…

  6. may
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 16:29:25

    I can’t recommend the Jennifer Estep series enough. It is incredible, and she continues to take it to new and interesting places, and I am always anxiously awaiting her next book. It is tied for #1 favorite UF w/romance elements [tied with Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews].

    At that price – if you’re into dark & gritty imperfect UF, go for it!

  7. Maili
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 16:40:12

    ‘In the Midnight Rain’ is free on Amazon UK as well. I also really enjoyed this one.

    I don’t think we need a category for contemporary novels published decades ago. Details of some novels may make it badly outdated and not so for some other novels, but still contemporary either way. When was each published should be irrelevant. It was published as contemporary and that’s how it should always seen as.

  8. Isobel Carr
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 16:46:18

    @Brie: I like “retro”. There are a lot of films like that. They’re set WELL within living memory, but aren’t set *now*.

  9. Sunita
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 17:01:55

    Just because people mistakenly think Pride & Prejudice is a historical doesn’t mean we should come up with a new category. Date of publication is only half the answer; the other half is the period in which the book is set. If it’s set within a decade or so of the publication date (or the writing date if there’s a gap), it’s not a historical. And “retro” doesn’t mean contemporaneous, so that’s inaccurate anyway.

    Speaking of Sir Walter Scott, the Scott prize for historical fiction requires that a book be set at least 60 years in the past. That seems reasonable.

    ETA: Sorry, Brie, I misunderstood/misread your point. You’re talking about that vague zone between now and what we all agree is historical. I’m still not crazy about retro because to me it implies nostalgia, which has a positive valence.

  10. Patricia
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 17:59:42

    I would be fine with a term like “antique contemporary” or “retro contemporary” for works like Pride & Prejudice that were contemporary in their time but are clearly not set in the modern age.

  11. Janine
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 19:21:40

    @Carolyn Jewel: I read that Gardner years ago, as well as his other, more well-known book on writing, The Art of Fiction. They’ve since faded from memory but I thought well of them at the time. He also has a thought-provoking treatise called On Moral Fiction, and a well-regarded novel, Grendel which is Beowulf recounted from the monster’s POV. I didn’t care for Grendel much, so I have to conclude he is one of those rare writers whose nonfiction I prefer over his fiction.

  12. Liz Mc2
    Jul 03, 2012 @ 20:20:37

    Like Sunita (and speaking in my snooty English-teacher persona) I think we already have a perfectly good term for what people like Austen wrote: nineteenth-century novel. If someone calls her novels “historical” we can politely correct that person or politely ignore his/her error. I don’t think most people are confused, though. And something like “retro” implies to me a hip modern irony totally lacking from Austen (her irony is early 19th century all the way).

    Is it Samhain that has some re-published books categorized as “Retro Contemporary”? I find the use of that term confusing. Re-releases, or classic romance or something would be clearer, or a term like Harlequin’s “Treasury.”

    If a book is set in, say, the 1980’s (whether or not it was written then) I’d just say so in discussing it.

  13. Teri P
    Jul 04, 2012 @ 00:07:19

    I vote for “retro contemporary”. I dunno, that genre title would stick for me.

    In the Midnight Rain is without a doubt my all time favorite book. It was tied with McNaught’s Paradise for a good long time. But a recent re-read of Midnight Rain cemented it back in to first place, where it will probably remain for years to come. Ruth Wind/Barbara Samuel is a phenom!

  14. Kaetrin
    Jul 04, 2012 @ 02:02:58

    contemprical? histemporary? :)

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