The Bookmatcher with Billie Bloebaum

Time again for hand selling online, when book mastermind Billie Bloebaum from Powells books (conveniently located in the Portland airport!) matches enquiring minds with required reading.

Deborah writes: I adored Bewitching by Jill Barnett.  I’ve read the rest of her books, some I liked, some I didn’t, but I was looking for another author or book that has the same good sense of humor and adventure.

Billie says, “Barnett hasn’t had anything new since 2007 (before that it was 2002) and hasn’t written an historical since 1999. But, if you want historicals with magic, then Kathryne Kennedy (e.g. My Unfair Lady) might appeal.

Sally writes, I love Love LOVE the Bookmatcher feature.

Seattle Mystery Bookstore does handselling extraordinarily well (so much so
that I keep hoping for another business trip to Seattle…).  Elliott Bay
Bookstore in Portland has very astute staff as well.

I entirely endorse the idea of learning about books that are similar to the
Great Heyer’s “Venetia” (and also, her “Frederica” and “The Grand Sophy”and,
and, and…..).

Although I don’t quite know why, I find Crusie’s “Faking It” and “Welcome to
Temptation entirely satisfying: I’ve read them multiple times, especially
when I’m feeling low.  I would gladly trade several Wimpy hamburgers for
“akin to” recommendations.

Other contemporary romance writers for whom I’d like to find comps: Julie
James and Penny McCall. And, Katie Fforde in her early days (e.g. “Wild
Designs” and “Stately Pursuits”).  One of the best books that Suzanne
Brockmann has ever written is “Heart Throb”; a comparable book by a
different author would indeed be something to treasure.

There are several “classic” Signet Regency writers that I always enjoy
re-reading: Diane Farr, Alison Lane, and Barbara Hazard, for example.

On the mystery side: I’d love to learn about mystery writers who display the
depth of characterization, insight, atmospherics, and humanity that Louise
Penny and Charles Todd always demonstrate in their books.

And then, of course, there are two other favorite mystery authors that I’m
always recommending to friends: P.J. Tracy (her female characters are
strong, heroic, brainy, and fragile—all at the same time) and Carol
O’Connell (ditto, except assuredly NOT fragile…).

Billie says, “Elliott Bay is in Seattle as well. But, they are awesome, and Portland would love to claim them.

Visit Powells.comYay! Someone else asking about mysteries! This is my first love and gives me a chance to gush over an uthor I love, but who doesn’t really have a huge following: Susan Hill. Simon Serrailleris such a richly drawn character and the plots unfold slowly, but not to the point of frustration. (And these books are good enough to forgive Ms. Hill for ‘Mrs. DeWinter’, the second most unnecessary sequel ever.)

I’d also recommend Fred Vargas, Tana French, Hakan Nesser, and Henning Mankell. Or, on the historical side, David Liss writes really smart mysteries and ‘A Conspiracy of Paper’ and ‘The Coffee Trader’ are still two of my favorite recommendations.

Both Julie James and Penny McCall write for Berkely Sensation, so I’d suggest looking for other authors from that imprint. It’s not a guarantee that she’ll find someone else she likes, but it’s likely. There’s   good list online here.

I don’t think it’s 100% complete (and “erotic” is a bit of a misnomer, at least where Sensation titles are concerned; Heat is Berkley’s “erotic” imprint). There’s also but it doesn’t break things out by imprint.

(And, I’d mention Jill Shalvis here, but even I’m tired of me mentioning her.)

Lisa Kleypas’s contemporaries (’Sugar Daddy’, ‘Blue Eyed Devil’, ‘Smooth Talking Stranger’) won me over against my will (It’s a Texas thing.), so I’d recommend she give them a try.

Lena writes: I seriously love Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling Series, especially for their intricate world building and their great well-rounded characters. I would love to find something similar but since the paranormal sector is so swamped right now, I really don’t know where to start looking. I don’t really care what kind of supernatural creatures there are (I don’t even insist on supernatural anythings, actually), but I would love to find a series (or two or three…) that satisfies my romance itch but also has a good overarching plot.

Another two things that are important to me are that the books are feminist (meaning strong female characters who can handle their shit on their own and don’t need the heros to save them etc) and the prose isn’t too flowery.

Billie says:
Meljean Brook.
Jacqueline Carey.
Richelle Mead.

Again with the broken-recordness. I keep thinking, since I’ve read all these authors and know a lot of others who have as well, that everyone must have. But, I’m starting to get the feeling that I only talk to people who like the same books I do.

(Sarah adds: You may also like Jennifer Rardin’s Jaz Parks series, starting with Once Bitten Twice Shy which I reviewed in 2007.)

Comments are Closed

  1. Missy Ann says:

    Have to disagree. I found Once Bitten Twice Shy to be unreadable trash.  And not in a good way.

    I’ve tried Meljean Brook but haven’t been able to really get into her. I will try again – I have most of the Demon series & I really like her blog. Attention authors: be entertaining and not a bitchy cow on your blog and you’ll attract readers.

    Love Jacqueline Carey soverymuch.

    Also have to throw Patricia Briggs into this mix. Very very very good stuff.

  2. Mary Beth says:

    Lena- I’d also try Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet series.

  3. Kilian Metcalf says:

    Hmm, humor plus adventure and romance – sounds like Judith Merkle Riley to me.  She has a touch of the paranormal, too, just for fun.

  4. darlynne says:

    Louise Penny is in a class of her own re: characterization because everyone wants to live in Three Pines, yes?

    I suggest Meg Gardiner’s Evan Delaney series, which starts with China Lake. And of course, Julia Spencer-Fleming’s series.

    Barry Maitland writes about two of the best characters (Kathy Kolla and David Brock) in an English police procedural series that starts with The Marx Sisters. And I’d like to think that John Brady’s Inspector Matt Minogue would accept me as a friend because he is THAT fine and noble a human being; A Stone of the Heart is the first in this contemporary Irish series.

    Characters are everything to me, in all genres. And if I can learn something as well, so much the better.

    Oh! Can’t forget Dr. Siri in Colin Cotterill’s Laotian mystery series (The Coroner’s Lunch). Or John Burdette’s contemporary Bangkok series, starting with Bangkok 8. Or Eliot Pattison’s former Inspector Shan, a Han Chinese who is imprisoned in a Tibetan jail (The Skull Mantra).

    Sorry for going on and on. You can take the girl out of the mystery bookstore, but …

  5. Sally, if you like Louise Penny I’d suggest another Canadian mystery writer, Giles Blunt. I LOVE his John Cardinal series & recommend it to everyone who likes mysteries with deep characterization & a great sense of place—I live not far from northern Ontario and trust me, he gets it right.

    Don’t read the most recent one (By the Time You Read This) first or you’ll be spoiled for a major plot development. The other books can be read in any order, but I say start with The Delicate Storm which uses an ice storm like the disaster of 98 as background to great effect.

  6. MB says:

    For Sally who’d like to find authors similar to the early Katie Fforde:  Have you tried Trisha Ashley?  She has a similar British sense of humor to her novels.  Fantastic Fiction recommended her to me when I was looking for more like Katie Fforde.  I like her books and pass the rec on to you.

    These are a further stretch, but you might look into these authors and see if you’d like their books as well:  Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Marian Keyes, Anna Maxted, Mary Kay Andrews, Sophie Kinsella, and Pamela Morsi.

  7. JaneDrew says:

    I would second the Jaz Parks books; I have really enjoyed the series, and how the characters have developed as the story has progressed.

    Also, for paranormal with fantastic heroines—Gail Carriger’s Soulless is a great read. (How can you not love the first book in a series called “The Parasol Protectorate”?)

    Hmm… I had a mystery recommendation, but can’t remember. So, I will settle for saying, if you haven’t read Lord Peter Wimsey (by Dorothy Sayers), you definitely should, and that Lindsey Davis’ Falco series (set in ancient Rome; first book, “The Silver Pigs”) is excellent and includes a great relationship.

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