The bulk of my attention for November has turned to NaNoWriMo, which means less time for reading (even if I'm woefully behind target for my word count). Luckily there are many books that I've enjoyed, but haven't had a chance to review here on the blog, so today I'm here to sell you on the novels of Mary Robinette Kowal, who happened to write the first of her Glamourist Histories series, Shades of Milk and Honey, during NaNoWriMo.
[Side note: If you're participating in NaNoWriMo this year, we're having a Come Write In session tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. and then at 7 p.m. the book club is discussing another NaNoWriMo book, The Night Circus, which Andrew reviewed here.]
I first read Shades of Milk and Honey in 2011, and I picked up the most recent in the series, Without a Summer, this past August. I really enjoy the way Kowal mixes Jane Austen-like Regency romance with a system of magic that fit naturally with the setting. Even better, this has proven to be a series that holds up well to rereads. A fourth book, Valour and Vanity is scheduled for publication next year, and I'll probably be pre-ordering a copy.
In fact, I liked Shades of Milk and Honey so much, that I named it my favorite book of 2011 (I generally try to read at least a few of the Hugo and Nebula nominees each year). Months later I remembered to add a (very) short review to my Goodreads account, and then was floored when Ms. Kowal (or some person in charge of her Goodreads profile) "liked" my review.
It was a helpful reminder that these days it's not uncommon for social media savvy authors to interact with their fans, and not just the fans who sought out their mailing address, email, or blog comment section. It's fairly easy to use keyword tracking to find mentions of your name (especially if a library @ tags the author), or the title of your most recent novel.
In fact, we now have a half-serious joke about trying not to look like we're stalking Rainbow Rowell on Twitter. We aren't. We swear. Though, speaking of, did you know her most recent novel, Fangirl, is also a NaNoWriMo novel?
Of course, it seems unlikely that a group of librarians encouraging readers to love a favorite book as much as we do would be mistaken for creepers. But the other side of an author's ability to connect with fans online, is that it's astonishingly easy for readers to learn about the lives of their favorite authors. Long gone are the days when a young reader might pour over the about the author paragraph in the back of a favorite paperback trying to guess if the author is a cat or a dog person.
For example, we all recently learned how (not so) easy it is to (apply a rigorous research method and) impersonate Patrick Rothfuss on Twitter. In fact, Ms. Kowal applied some of the same methods she used to achieve a writing voice similar to Jane Austen's in order to out Rothfuss Rothfuss (who, it should be noted, failed to hit the 50,000 word mark during NaNoWriMo, and that's okay).
I also learned, in the course of writing this blog post, that Ms. Kowal is an accomplished voice actress, who has narrated several audiobooks. If you'd like to learn more about the author, she keeps a blog on her website: www.maryrobinettekowal.com
She also tweets as herself: @MaryRobinette
~Sarah, Adult Services
One final note: I couldn't think of a way to work in a link to my review of Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer, which was also written during NaNoWriMo.