Bookmatcher: Billie Bloebaum knows Books

Time again for Billie Bloebaum, Powell’s Airport book buyer, matching readers to books – a dying art that I can’t get over.

Amy writes: The last book I read that I really, really loved was “Sugar Queen” by Sarah Addison Allen.

Billie: My first impulse is to go with Alice Hoffman or maybe ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ or ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ or ‘Chocolat’, but to find a good romance novel with a touch of magical realism that doesn’t veer into schmaltz is more of a challenge.

‘The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes’ by Crusie, Dreyer, and Stuart has that touch of magic in a contemporary setting. Gwyn Cready has written a couple of charming novels about women being transported into books through various magical means.

(SB Sarah: I also suggest Charms for the Easy Life, by Kaye Gibbons, or Family Linen by Lee Smith.)


Leigh writes: My primary reads are UF, SF, YA, and romance, but in any genre, I like love stories and attraction. I’m working on a paper about the role of romance in the tv show Battlestar Galactica for a romance panel at PCA 2010, so I like the blending of genres.

What I like in Contemporary: I liked all your past recommendations—Victoria Dahl’s “Talk Me Down”, Erin McCarthy’s “Flat-Out Sexy” (and “Hard and Fast”), and Jennifer Crusie’s “Bet Me”. I own about 6
Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, the Chicago Stars series, among others, and I can’t seem to get enough. Wit, humor, and extreme sexiness are all huge draws.

Dislikes in Contemporary: Silliness. A lot of Crusie’s other work just seemed to get very implausible in a zany romcom way, and I’m not big on zany. Some SEP’s do this, too. I’m also not a fan of vanilla ness—Nora Roberts is good, but after awhile the sweet love stories start to blend together. We need spice with the sugar!

Likes in Historical: Adored “Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase, most of the Bridgertons and some others by Julia Quinn, and just about everything Lisa Kleypas has ever written. I like authors who manage not to make sedate historical settings boring, and who know how to make the most of the incredibly complex social rules of the time. Good dialogue a must, too.

Dislikes in Historical: The extremes: over-the-top wildness (too many kidnappings, faintings, convenient grievous illnesses, etc. I also will not read amnesia or secret babies) and tepid, ho-hum storylines populated by characters who I can’t remember the day after I’ve read them.

Likes in Paranormal: *cringes* Here’s where all my carefully articulated taste goes out the window. I’ll allow near-endless amounts of cheese, corn, and assorted WTF to appear in my paranormals. I own all 7 of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books, God help me, and I will buy more, like the crackhead I am. I like vampires, but /lovelovelove/ werewolves and other animal shifters. “Bitten” by Kelley Armstrong is great, Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress books are to die for, P.C. Cast’s Goddess books are sent from above, and Rachel Vincent’s werecat books are also delish. Pack dynamics, soul mates, wars and violence, immortals—I eat it all up like candy.

Dislikes: Rape-y heroes, overly harsh, kick-butt heroines and overly submissive ones. I used to like Christine Feehan’s Carpathians, but they got too cartoony, even for me. The Kresley Cole I tried (Sebastian and Katarin?) had a heroine who was cold and unsympathetic, in my view. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s work is reliably fun, but gets repetitive. Repetitive. Repetitive.

Likes in UF: Great, unique worldbuilding with lots of sexual tension! Love Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Vicki Petersson, Richelle Mead, Ann Aguirre, Nalini Singh.

Thank you so very much! I know this is a way-detailed list, and at times contradictory. :-) I would love to get some good recs from a reliable source, and this seemed like a great opportunity.

Billie says: Have you read all three Richelle Mead series? If you like the Succubus books, then I’d recommend Jackie Kessler’s succubus series. If you like the ‘Vampire Academy’ books, then P.C. and Kristin Cast’s ‘Marked’ series. If you like the Urban Shaman books, then Caitlin Kittredge’s ‘Nocturne City’ novels would probably appeal. (SB Sarah: Also, Jill Myles’ Gentlemen Prefer Succubi new book might appeal, too.)

If you’re into were-sex, then I’d suggest Keri Arthur. The books aren’t consistently well-written, but I like the world and characters enough to forgive any shortcomings in the prose. And, there’s a horse-shifter, so, y’know…

I’d also recommend you try Kim Harrison. The first couple of books were decent UF, but the characters and storylines have gotten darker in later books and there are real consequences to be faced for the characters and nobody is safe.

On the contemporary side—Jill Shalvis! Seriously, I have now un-officially appointed my self Jill Shalvis’s pimp. I don’t read a lot of contemporaries, but I feel I can comfortably recommend her books to pretty much anyone.

If you’d like to be book matched, send me an email at sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom with “Book Matcher” in the subject line. I can’t promise that every inquiry will be matched but so long as Billie’s willing to check out my inbox, we’ll keep matching the books. Thanks, Billie!


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Sarah L says:

    Also, try Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. The focus is on the urban fantasy, but the writing is witty and there is also romance

  2. 2
    Caroline says:

    Leigh needs to check out Eloisa James for her historical fix, and for James’s general awesomeness. Also, I want to read the Battlestar Galactica paper! Rock on!

  3. 3
    Gwynnyd says:

    Also, try Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. The focus is on the urban fantasy, but the writing is witty and there is also romance

    But you’ll probably have to wait another 12 books or so for the HEA, if any, for poor Dresden. Other than that, a hearty “seconded” for the writing.

  4. 4
    Cat Marsters says:

    For contemporary, try Julie Cohen. Very funny, very smart, wonderfully realised characters.

  5. 5
    Jill Shalvis says:

    And might I just say, I’m THRILLED to be pimped, thank you Billie!  :)

  6. 6
    Sherri Dean says:

    Urban Fantasy – Ilona Andrews Kate series and for more standard fantasy romance her new Edge series – and her blog is great too!

  7. 7
    MB says:

    I like Sarah Addison Allen as well.  Some authors you might wish to try that have a touch of magic in the real world, or a similar ‘feel’ to their writing are:

    * “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder” by Rebecca Wells
    * Books by Francesca Lia Block
    * Books by Sarah-Kate Lynch especially “Blessed Are The Cheesemakers” or “House of Peine” aka “House of Daughters”.
    * “Pomegranate Soup” by Marsha Mehran
    * The Drake Sisters series by Christine Feehan (maybe?)
    * “Sunshine” by Robin McKinley
    * “Welcome to Eudora” by Mimi Thebo
    * Short Story collections by Kelly Link, “Pretty Monsters” is one.

    And I definitely second the mention of Illona Andrews.  Both series are wonderful.  Also, have you tried Charlaine Harris?  Both the Sookie Stackhouse series and the Harper Connelly series are very good. 

    I’ve tried Alice Hoffman, but her books don’t do much for me.  (Sarah Addison Allen does get compared to her a lot however.)

  8. 8
    tracykitn says:

    for Leigh, I would like to recommend (from a fellow Ward crackhead who acknowledges the faults but can’t help herself!) Larissa Ione’s Daemonica series (sorry, can’t remember the titles, but *whooo*!) Incubi—in fact, demons of all sorts!—vampires, werewolves, fallen angels—what’s not to love?

  9. 9
    Jessa Slade says:

    I just wanted to wave at Billie.  I was flying out of PDX a couple weeks ago and had some time so I checked the two concourse Powells stores for my book.  And there was one in both stores!  So I got to sign and put a bookmark in them.  I felt very authorly and even a little jet-setty :)  Thank you, Billie!

  10. 10
    BillieB says:

    Wowza. First Laura Kinsale and now Jill Shalvis. I’m getting all fangirl swoony here, y’all.

    Seriously, though, I want to thank all the members of the Bitchery who are adding their thoughts and suggestions. I’ve added so many authors to my TBR list based on your various suggestions and remembered books that I hadn’t necessarily forgotten, but that didn’t pop immediately to my mind. Thank you all for being people who love books like I do and wanting to share that love with each other. That is what is at the heart of handselling.

  11. 11
    Ash says:

    Leigh’s tastes are VERY similar to my own. I really have to push Marjorie M. Liu’s “Dirk & Steele” series, starting with Tiger Eye. She has a FANTASTIC writing style. Really the best Urban/Paranormal/Romance genre-bending stuff I’ve read in a long long time.

  12. 12
    neva says:

    At the risk of getting booed, most of my likes and dislikes are very similar to yours.  I also hated sebastian and kaderin’s book by Kresley Cole and if it had been the first book of hers I picked up I would never have read anything more of hers, however most of the rest of the series is completely addictive.  Can I recommend starting with The Warlord wants forever? That and dark desires after dark are my two favourites. I also second the recommendation of Richelle Mead’s vampire academy.  The first book is a very slow start but the series is totally worth the perseverance.

  13. 13
    Jill Myles says:

    Woot, I see my name! Thanks Sarah!

    As for paranormal reads – you sound like me! Soul mates, CHECK, campy, CHECK, sexy, CHECK AND CHECK. So I am reading what people recommend with a pen in hand.

    And I heartily, heartily encourage you to give Kresley Cole’s series another try. I agree – read THE WARLORD WANTS FOREVER. It’s free online! Her stuff is campy fun and I love it.

    My favorite author is Meljean Brook – she’s got a smart humor to her books, ultra-sexy sex scenes, and a very dense urban fantasy storyline. If you like Nalini Singh’s angel series, you really need to try Meljean’s books.

    I am a big fan of shifters too – my favorite shifter books at the moment are Nalini’s, but you mentioned her. Have you tried Gena Showalter? Her books are campy and fun—I really love her Alien Huntress books.

    Did you try Erin McCarthy’s contemporaries? They’re fun. Kristan Higgins, too. Funny without being yuk yuk funny.

    Historical – I really like Catherine Anderson (she has a lot of wounded heroine storylines, so that might not be your bag, baby) and I love Meredith Duran (but you will want to avoid hers if angst is not your bag either).

    Oooh ooh! Just thought of one – have you read Karen Marie Moning? She writes Scottish Time Travels (high on the camp and sexy fun) and urban fantasy (which I have not read yet). Great author and super fun stories.

    I also loved Lori Handeland’s Nightcreature books – great shifter books focusing on werewolves. 1st person POV, but a different couple in every book and kind of sexy paranormal romantic suspense (if there is such a creature).

    Ditto on the earlier recs of Marjorie Liu and Ilona Andrews. :)

  14. 14
    Jill Myles says:

    And durr, you already mentioned Erin McCarthy. Reading comprehension, I lacks it.

    (hell43—what I said and how many times I said it after I realized I can’t edit my post to hide my stupidity)

  15. 15
    scribblingirl says:

      Also, try Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. The focus is on the urban fantasy, but the writing is witty and there is also romance

    But you’ll probably have to wait another 12 books or so for the HEA, if any, for poor Dresden. Other than that, a hearty “seconded” for the writing.

    I’m giving it a “thirded” if there is such a thing

    I own all 7 of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books, God help me, and I will buy more, like the crackhead I am.

    I claim crackhead status on this one,too

    I love Lavyrle Spencer (she stopped writing 12 years ago) and I would recommend her books every time.
    I’m a huge Lilith Saintcrow fan, others that I suggest are: Jennifer Armintrout, Vicki Petersson, Sandra Kitt, Warren Hammond (his books are twisted) Deborah Camp, Norah Hess, Madeline Baker, Connie Mason, Kat Martin, Kim Harrison and LA Banks, Mario Acevedo just to name a few..
    I bought Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan and thought it was the first one of the series and I haven’t gotten around to finding the first one yet.
    I bought the Lords of the Underworld series, the first three books by Gena Showalter and I was not happy with them..I got suckered in by the sexy guys on the front…

  16. 16
    Lil' Deviant says:

    Your comment about Battlestar Galatica made me think of Linnea Sinclair.  I loved Gabriel’s Ghost, Finders Keepers and Games of Command.

  17. 17
    Acute says:

    Yes, I also can recommended Jill Shalvis. I love her.

  18. 18

    I could have written that exact same list of authors I enjoy, and confess also to Ward Crackhood.  Thanks for all the great new recommendations.  I have several new authors to try now!

  19. 19
    JaneDrew says:

    I am surprised this hasn’t been mentioned yet—ok, NOT so surprised, since it is pretty brand spankin’ new (and made of win)—Gail Carriger’s “Soulless” sounds like it would be perfect for Leigh (and, btw, I would love to see it reviewed on this inestimable blog, hint, hint).

    Steampunk alterna-Victorian England with vampires and werewolves who are out in the open and recognized members of society, check. Fantastic kick-ass heroine, with parasol of extreme thwacking, check. Hunky Scottish werewolf hero, check. Mysterious goings-on in the supernatural world, check. *grin*

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