A few days before Lent started I received an email asking about my Unread Library. It was a nice way of asking why I started buying books again in 2012, and I was glad for the email because it inspired my 2013 Lenten sacrifice. During Lent I am not buying, checking out, or borrowing a new book. I know that for some this sounds like giving up steamed okra, but for me it’s a huge sacrifice. I buy a book or more per week (especially now that I know how to find ebooks on sale), and check out even more than that from the library. I don’t read all of them. How else would I stock an Unread Library?
I can think of to two reasons for the dust gathering once again on all those books. One, I started the book club just three months after I finished the last book. It takes time to research the books, read them, and then write about them for book club. Not that much time, but one must grasp tenaciously to excuses when they are readily available, yes? Two, I sold the green secretary where I kept all the books and walked past them countless times every day. After that, I moved them to a trunk while we saved money for our bookcases. Out of sight, out of mind. Another poor excuse, but one I happily abused.
Those are the reasons I haven’t read from my Unread Library. I have no excuse for why the Unread Library has increased by many books. I’ll amend the list this week, but even if I was suddenly gifted with the ability to properly manage my time, I would not be able to read them all. I can strike two or three off the list, with The Historian being one of them. (One that I will both add and then strike from the list.)
The Historian is a book a reader recommended to me years ago, thinking it was something I would enjoy. I read the blurb and immediately bought it, but then it sat on my shelf for who knows the reason. I even tried reading it once or twice but couldn’t make it past the first chapter.
This is all tangentially related to the Civil War and Apache pictures. I’m almost there.
The Mister received an ipad from work which he turned around and gave to me. He didn’t do it because he’s nice (he is) but because he wants me to use it as a reader so I don’t keep him “up all night” with “the *$#^! light” while I read. His words: it’s a gift for you that’s really a gift for me. He is so sensitive about the whole lighting thing!
My kindle broke after only having it a couple of months years ago, so accessing it through the ipad was like getting all new books. One of the books I found is by self-published author Ellen O’Connell. I bring her up out of every other author in my old Kindle because I may have developed a reputation as someone who is intolerant or unimpressed with self-published authors. Not true! I’m just intolerant and unimpressed with crap. There’s a huge difference. 50 Shades of Gray and its progeny = crap. Ellen O’Connell and hundreds of other unsung authors = not crap. If I’m ranting and raving it’s because the authors writing tampon sex scenes (so I’ve heard) are the ones getting 7-figure book deals while those writing about the Apache Wars in the Arizona Territory in the late 1800s receive quiet accolades from a smattering of readers.
A good book isn’t one that comes from a major publishing house. For me, it’s one that inspires me to learn more. The characters stay with me long after the book is done and I am interested enough in the story that I want to immerse myself in the environment. Rereading Ellen O’Connell the last couple of weeks made me realize I love historical fiction. Historical fiction–not historical romance, which is usually more about setting than history. I love that reading about two characters in post Civil War Texas inspired me to read what I could find on the Civil War and line up some documentaries on Netflix. Dancing On Coals exposed me to the Apache Wars, something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since. The day after Easter I am buying the illustrated edition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee to mark the end of my Lenten sacrifice.
Once I realized that historical fiction is what I truly love–a few of you said “Duh” to this revelation–I started researching historical fiction lists on Goodreads. Sure enough, The Historian was at the top of several lists. I was at my bookshelves faster than a jack rabbit searching for that book and later that night as I closed the book to go to bed I wondered why I didn’t read it years ago. Then I made a mental note to research the Ottoman Empire and Vlad the Impaler.
Thoughts on Ellen O’Connell books
This wasn’t a review post, so I thought I would take a few sentences to highlight her books and what I thought about them. These are all categorized as historical romances on Goodreads, so kindly ignore what I said above about historical romances. Some are more historical, some are more romance and if you are looking for brainless fluff where everything is puffy hearts and LOLz, you won’t find it here. You won’t find literature, either. There is mature content in all of them, but if 50 Shades gets a 5 whip rating and Twilight gets a 1, all her books fall in around a 3. Nothing too crazy.
Sing My Name: This is the first book of hers I read, and at first I didn’t realize she was self published. (I couldn’t figure out why the publishing house would release a book with such a goofy cover!) I loved the first third of the book. Loved. The pace of the book slowed down after that, and with it went much of the history. It was fine, just okay, but the first third makes up for it. If you read the reviews, you’ll see most people agree with me on this. I adored the male protagonist. This book inspired me to create this Pinterest board.
Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold: This is the second book I read. I didn’t like it as much as Sing My Name, and I think that’s because this book is almost exclusively romance. I read it again a couple of weeks ago and liked it more the second time around. Better stated, I liked it consistently throughout, where Sing My Name I loved at first and then liked at the end.
Dancing on Coals: I loved this one. The history and action I loved in the first third of Sing My Name accounts for the majority of this book. The romance between the characters is slow building, there is a refreshing absence of “misunderstandings” or he-said/she-said, and spoiler [the romance doesn't happen until the last 1/3 of the book]. I could have done without the epilogue. This book inspired me to create this Pinterest board.
Beautiful Bad Man: This one was my least favorite. Like Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold, it’s a historical only because it’s set in the past. This book is about a woman with a black and white view of morality and a man who sees everything in shades of gray, the redemptive and healing power of love for two flawed people, and a little bit of land conflict that resolves a little too neatly.