jmc_bks: (Imperfect 2 by LJ Ase)
I'm alone for the first time in 10 days.  It's weird but nice.  I appreciate the great care I received from everyone, especially my mother, but feel a little relieved to be on my own.  Also, I'm glad Mom is going home to rest -- I feel like my illness was harder on her than me in many ways.

The review for K.A. Mitchell's new book, Bad Boyfriend, is in progress and will be posted over at WordPress later today has been posted at WordPress.  Once that's done, I'll settle down and address holiday cards -- I'd like to write personal notes rather than just sign the cards, but we'll see.  

Had to bail on the fic exchange because I knew it wouldn't be finished in time for the exchange due to health and timing issues, but I'm thinking that might be something to work on this afternoon, too, as a belated gift to the recipient (someone else is pinch hitting for the exchange) or to the comm generally.

I've been earwormed by Panic! once again, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] asimplechord's concert call from the secret acoustic show in Austin.

There's an email in my inbox about the Green Bay Packers' stock offering.  Back when I was a dead-broke student, they did their first offering in decades in order to raise money to improve Lambeau Field.  I desperately wanted to buy a share but at the time $200 was beyond me.  I could afford it now, but am feeling as if 1) any money spent on frivolous things right now should be for others rather than myself, and 2) since I just paid $400 to get my car fixed and am expecting to pay up to the deductible for my recent hospital stays, fiscal prudence is in order.  D:

There's also a Groupon in my inbox for The Economist -- $1 per issue (51 for the year), which is a huge bargain and a magazine that I find useful and instructive.  But I cancelled my subscription last year because I couldn't read them fast enough. Decisions. Hmmm.

jmc_bks: (Stupid)
Originally posted at WordPress.

+  Tickets for Indian Wells arrived today.  Yes, it's six months away, but it's nice to have long term plans, isn't it?

-  Also arriving today:  a jury form for the federal district court, meaning jury duty may be in the very near future.

+  Theater tickets for next month -- Alan Rickman in Seminar on Broadway!

-  Please, Green Day, don't cast sparkle-pie Cedric Diggory as St. Jimmy.  I get that he'd sell tickets but nothing in his body of work leads me to believe that he can live up to this. (See also this and this.)

+ Ferrer and Lopez are in the semifinals of Shanghai...I would never have predicted that.  So no matter how the match turns out, a Spaniard will be in the final, albeit not the Spaniard anyone would have predicted.

-  Must go in to the office this weekend.  So far behind in everything.  And I have to pack my office to move yet again (3rd time in as many years).

+  But I'll be able to meet L for dinner and a movie as a result.  And Weekend is playing in limited release at the Landmark, so...

-  Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.  I have hundreds of books to read (literally) and yet I keep scrolling through my computer and phone and Kindle and staring at the shelves, thinking that there's nothing that I *want* to read right now.


jmc_bks: (flaming june)
I've posted over at WordPress a quick summary of two nonfiction books I finished over the holiday weekend -- Rafa Nadal's autobiography and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a sort of biography/science narrative.
jmc_bks: (Stupid)
♥ I have signed up for a holiday fic exchange. It could be good, or it could be a disaster. It coincides with my first attempt to write fanfic.

♥ A tweet joking about M&Ms in m/m prompted me to say that there ought to be M&M slash fan fiction. Yet I cannot find it, at least not on AO3. Which means I may write it. Fandom is crack. (Or so I assume, having never tried real crack.)

♥ "You know I love you more when you are cold and heartless." -- a True Blood line from Eric to Pam that I'm thinking about working into B/R.

On non-fandom fronts:

~ I made a decision at work that I may regret later. Have had a stomach ache and sleepless nights for the last week. *deep breath*

~ The Goofy Cat is getting skinnier and skinnier, despite eating like crazy. I know it's a function of her thyroid problem but still...

~ The Madrid SF (2009) between Nadal and Djokovic is even better than I remember -- and I remember it being a very good 3 set (5 hour) match that left Nole completely gutted and shell-shocked and *off* for months after. Had forgotten that he was still sponsored by Adidas then, wearing the smurf shoes, and that Rafa was wearing the sherbet colors.

Things I want but likely won't be buying/doing:

~ The Kindle Fire is very pretty and shiny. But I don't *need* a tablet.

~ Valencia and Sevilla are the two possible venues for the Davis Cup Final (Dec 2-4). I love Sevilla and have never been to Valencia, but it's just not in my budget or really in my schedule -- to close to Thx.
jmc_bks: (Suits)
First, since it is Monday, it is time for SBD.  Which I posted over at WordPress.  What arrived recently, what to do with a book that gets carried around but never read.

Next:  did you watch the Emmys last night?  I did not, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that Kyle Chandler won for his role of Coach Taylor in Friday Night Lights.  He and Connie Britton were the heart and soul of that show, and it's nice to learn that he got some industry love for it.  Would've been nice if Britton had, too.  My only question is whether Chandler's hair will get a mini Emmy of its own -- I swear the hair was a character all by itself.

C:  I'm catching up on all the Davis Cup matches that were played over the weekend.  And seriously, Nadal must've taken his Djokovic frustration after going 0-6 for the year out on the French team.  As Brad Gilbert would say, he took Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga out to the woodshed.  Giving up ten games over six sets?  It's ridiculously good...and made up for the frighteningly bad doubles match played by Verdasco and F. Lopez.  

C+:  I want to go to Spain the first week in December for the DC finals.  But my budget will not allow for it.  Also, since I've got a trip planned for February, it's somewhat unnecessary.  Except it's Davis Cup.  Finals.  And the opportunity to see Nadal and Ferrer play on clay.  Against Nalbandian and Del Potro.  I'm anticipating *epic* five set matches.

D:  (That unhappy face is intentional):  Netflix.  Oh, Netflix.  I was an early adopter.  And now I'll be one of the million or so users who will drop you.  I don't stream many movies, primarily because I get distracted by other things available online.  I dropped down to the not quite lowest DVD plan primarily because I like catching up on cable TV series appearing on channels I don't subscribe to (HBO, etc.) through your service.  I get that you're feeling crunched by cable providers who want to squeeze users (and thus you) for high usage rates, which streaming demands, and that your relationship with Starz and with various studios is no longer the money haul that it once was.  But inasmuch as you don't care about my monthly budget, I don't care about your PE ratio or ROI.  I'll be return the DVD in my possession and exploring other viewing options, thanks.  Best of luck with your new bifurcated business plan.  
jmc_bks: (Nadasco - 08 Spain Davis Cup)
+  My summary of my US Open 2011 adventures is posted over at WordPress.

+  For better or worse, I've got a draft of my Fall Festival fic.  It's just over 2,000 words, much shorter than I expected.  Struggled with the prompts and the POV character.  But at least I'll have something to send.  And I'll include an apology in the intro to the recipient, because she really deserves better.

+  Jo Nesbo's newly released (in the US) book, Headhunters, arrived today \o/

+  I read an ARC for a book due out in December and I loved the book.  I want to squee about it so much but am restraining myself.  I do plan on writing a review this week, although I won't post it until closer to the release date.  But this way it's written and won't be forgotten as I read other books.

+/-  The biopsy on the mole removed by the doctor came back negative for cancer.  The cream she prescribed for my skin, which she warned would make things worse before it made things better, is making my skin really, really worse.  Blotchy, itchy, oily, uncomfortable.
jmc_bks: (armada4 - 08 Davis Cup)

+  The Doc/Nate ficlet I've been trying to write is not cooperating.  Same with the Ray/Nate bit.  I think reading real!Nate's memoir has screwed with my ability to write him as a fictional character; I don't have that problem with any of the other characters, primarily because their canon exists (for me) only in the fictionalized tv series setting.  Maybe I should stick with Brad/Ray, my OTP.
 
 


+  Strunk & White fan fic?  If it didn't exist before, it ought to now.


+ A couple of years ago, I pimped the ATP to The Biochemist hard, with the example of the shiny pretty of the Spanish Armada as a selling point.  And this past weekend she drove to Austin to catch the Ferrer/Fish match.  Since she's the one who usually pimps music to me and got me sucked into fandom, I have to feel like my mission has been accomplished :)

+  What's new out today (other than GRRM's new book that I'm utterly disinterested in) that I ought to read?
jmc_bks: (Nadal at French 2010)
I am biased, but this quote from Nadal's press conference following his loss in the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic is amazingly mature and well-adjusted, I think, given some of the prima donna behavior that fans often observe in professional athletes.

"He's in the best moment of his career. I am in one of the best moments of my career. Still not enough for him. I have to play more aggressive. I have to have less mistakes. Yes, that's what I have to do.

"He has good backhand, very good forehand, good serve. His movement is probably one of the best of the world of the moment.

"Seriously, I lose because I am playing against the best player of the world, and I am the second. And when you play against these players and they are playing unbelievable, the normal thing is: lose.

"My experience says this level [of Djokovic's] is not forever. Even for me when I was last year winning three Grand Slams, my level of last year is not forever. Probably the level of Novak of today is not forever. I gonna be here fighting all the time, waiting for my moment. I don't have to wait a lot, because I already won three tournaments this year and one Grand Slam. But waiting for my moment to beat him another time.

"I understand the sport like this. When one player is better than you, at this moment the only thing you can do is work, try to find solutions, and try to wait a little bit for your time.

"Last five times wasn't my time. I gonna wait and I gonna try a sixth. And if the sixth doesn't happen, to the seventh. It's going to be like this. That's the spirit of the sport."
jmc_bks: (armada4 - 08 Davis Cup)
I had to sneak peeks at the score of the Nadal/Del Potro match during the lunch break for IASPR and the presentation on the "Erotics of Property".  I felt vaguely guilty, but not guilty enough to stop.

Also, \o/ for Feliciano Lopez winning.

CSI is moving to Wednesdays?  Is it the beginning of the end?  (For me, the series ended when Grissom left.)

I watched the premiere of True Blood's Season Four last night.  What a mess.  Not even the pretty people (ASkars, I'm looking at you) are enough to get me to keep watching.  Also, the plot is completely diverging from the books.  And lacking in 1) reality and 2) internal consistency.
jmc_bks: (Nadal at French 2010)
Have I mentioned how much I appreciate Radio Wimbledon online and the app?  Because I do.  I get to listen to it as I work :)  

Someone in my twitter stream posted this link to a photo retrospective of Wimbledon; the older photographs are intriguing, I think, and you can see the evolution of the game even at that most change-resistant of the majors.  Being more than a little biased, my favorite of the contemporary photos is probably quite predictable.
It's hidden behind the cut... )
jmc_bks: (Nadal at French 2010)
+  The grass at Wimbledon in the opening rounds is gorgeous, no brown patches yet.  I can't remember, did I ever post any of the photos I took when I visited last year?  Ironically, the tour stopped on Court 18 so we could see a court at eye level and touch the grass (no pulling) -- this was, of course, four months before the historic Isner/Mahut match.  (Which was a long match, but wouldn't necessarily be on my list of "great" matches.)  Fernando  managed to dig himself out of a hole and win in five against Radek Stepanek.  Sam Stosur seemed to have left her serve and her forehand and her entire game in Australia, and went out early.  Daveeeed won in straight sets.  \o/  
 
+  If you have a subscription to the NY Times, check out Christopher Clarey's pieces on the differences between the racquets of the top four players.  And his other writing, too, of course.  And Tignor over at tennis.com; I like his writing enough that I've got his MacEnroe/Borg book, High Strung, TBR despite the fact that I can't stand MacEnroe and have to put him on mute whenever he's commenting (read: bloviating) for a match.

+ \o/ for the IASPR conference coming up.  Must print the schedule and double check reservations and also make sure to sign up for the group dinner on Monday.

+  Ordered a retirement gift for the retiring boss.  Who is also my friend and whom I'll continue to see outside work.  But still.

+  B&N posted a net loss last quarter, despite an increase in sales.  I'll be interested in reading their SEC filings.

+  I read Josh Lanyon's Come Unto These Yellow Sands, which I really enjoyed.  The recovering addict hero may be my favorite of his narrators to date, which is a little surprising to me for a variety of reasons, mostly related to real-life issues that don't need to be rehashed here.  I pre-ordered it and then forgot about it, and it appeared on my Kindle when I turned it on the other day.  I've been sort of "off" Lanyon lately, because the last couple books I tried, historicals, didn't really work for me.  His contemporaries work much better for me.  It's a little odd, since it's the same voice and writing style.  Maybe the problem is my approach to reading the historicals and my general lack of interest in noire?  The historicals do seem noire-ish or noire-lite to me.  Or maybe I'm confusing eras and styles.

+  Attempted to read an Ellora's Cave book.  It came well-recommended by a GLBT review website that I need to just delete from my Google Reader.  But it was set in New Zealand and had professional rugby players as protagonists, which was what interested me.  Still, the price was ridiculous, the length extremely short and the plot and writing elementary.  Waste of a good potential story line.  Eh, just a reminder to myself to not attempt EC books and to completely ignore the "reviews" and use that website as a a publishing/release info resource only.
 
+  I forgot to mention:  I got a concert call last week!  Panic! playing "Carry On My Wayward Son".  It was awesome!
jmc_bks: (Baseball)
+ Today was the home opener for the Orioles. After 10+ years of losing seasons, my hopes for the team this year are sadly low: .500. Is that too much to ask? Anyway, the Orioles are 4-0, sweeping the Rays and beating the Tigers today. Graciously, I refrained from calling my stepdad, The Yankee Fan, and taunting him. For two reasons: first, because it probably won't last; and second, because he doesn't take baseball trash talk well, even though he dishes it out.

+ I read Marie Sexton's Promises over the weekend. It'a a gay romance novel, not really gay-for-you, but close to it, with one of the protagonists being firmly in the closet at the beginning and edging his way out by the end. Felt ambivalent about the book, and I'm not really sure why; maybe it was the narrator, who felt like he spent most of the book hiding, doing the safe thing, taking the path of least resistance every time, on the personal front and the professional front.

+ Found Promises via the DABWAHA contest. Most of the candidates I had not read, some I'd never even heard of, which is a sad commentary on my reading. My pick as champion was K.A. Mitchell's No Souvenirs, which was sadly trounced early on. In the first go-round, I picked books I liked. In the second chance tourney, I tried to pick what I thought was popular and would likely win, but even there my pick (Meljean Brook's The Iron Duke) lost. Clearly I don't have a finger on the pulse of popular genre romance. The ultimate winner was a contemporary by Julie James, whose first two books didn't really work for me. The runner up was Courtney Milan's Trial by Desire, which I meant to read but never got around to. Eh.

+ Go take Jennie's survey on reading romance novels. It's quick and easy. And it's for a school project -- she's working on her masters in library science, I believe.

+ Clay court tennis starts next week! Well, qualifying matches have already begun. But Monte Carlo! Barcelona! Rome! Madrid! Then Roland Garros!

+ Davis Cup ticket presale begins tomorrow. The $90 nosebleeds may be for the whole weekend, not just each day; I've got to call and see. Which does sort of change my position on the ridiculous pricing, because $90 for possibly five matches is way better than $90 for two matches.

+ The Spring Fling exchange fics have been posted. You should go read the one that was written for me. It is awesome: it fits into canon and fanon, and it made me all flaily and happy as I read it.

- WTF, LJ?
jmc_bks: (flaming june)
+  Green Day's "Awesome as ****" live album lives up to the title and is awesome as....  I've got the new Soundgarden and Panic! albums to listen to, too, now, based on The Biochemist's recommendations.  Tuesday really was Super Tuesday in terms of music releases, wasn't it?

+  The US-Spain Davis Cup tie will be played in Austin!  Road trip!  Tickets go on sale April 4th.  As soon as prices and availability are released, I'll be number crunching the budget to see how much PBJ I'll be eating to go :)

+  Dear Big Name NY Pubbed Romance Author:  what the hell is "desert-style zero-scaping"?  Do you mean xeriscaping?  

+  RIP Elizabeth Taylor.  I didn't really *get* you as an actress, but I appreciated your Hollywood Grande Dame status and your AIDS charity work.  Your jewelry was pretty cool, too.

+  Galley Cat linked to this essay about being a book hoarder, which makes me stop and take stock.  Because I do have a hard time letting go of any book once it has made its way onto a shelf in my home or office.  Except maybe statutory supplements that are updated annually, it's easy to dump them in the office library's recycling bin.

+  It's ridiculous how appreciation for a particular actor will make you watch a television show that is otherwise not to your taste.  For instance, I try to watch Mr. Sunshine sometimes because I  ♥  Allison Janey.  

+  I've now given up Chick-Fil-A's sweet tea and waffle fries because of this. (Courtesy of @redrobinreader, after I mentioned that I liked the tea but not the non-stop christian pop.) They were my "errands done" reward.  CFA won't miss the little bit of revenue I put in their pockets nearly as much as I'll miss the sweet tea (why do so few places serve it and even fewer make it right?), I'm sure.

+  Daffodils are blooming everywhere.  Which means spring is here.  But is also awesome just because daffodils are such happy, cheerful flowers.
jmc_bks: (Nadal at French 2010)
My thoughts on Indian Wells, the first weekend of the tournament.

Read more... )
jmc_bks: (armada4 - 08 Davis Cup)
Happy Monday!  I'm happy because I'm off today...which sort of makes up for the fact that I spent ten hours at the office yesterday.  But not really, since even on my day off I had to call in for a conference call.  (What's the point of a 9/80 work schedule when I end up working 10/95?)

Anyway, it's time for SBD!

I'm reading Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss, a YA book about a girl who is sent to boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school.  In the fall, this book got lots and lots of review blog attention, but I didn't pick up a copy until January (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] jperceval -- thank you!).  And after that, it sat in the TBR for a bit.  

In many ways, there's nothing new or different about this YA book.  There's an uncertain heroine who has been essentially abandoned by her family (although being left at a spendy boarding school in Paris isn't exactly a hardship, or as bad as being forced to live in the cupboard under the stairs and work as a house-elf); a potential love interest; learning about her new environment; building a new circle of friends while not completely losing the old; etc.  But Perkins is doing a pretty good job of reeling me in as a reader.  Even though I'm guessing that Anna Banana Elephant Oliphant will end up having a good year, I still want to follow along as it happens.

This description of Anna's father is such a clear dig at several authors who shall not be named, that it just tickles me.  Because I hate that they are considered mainstream "romance" instead of the utter schmoop that they are.  (There's nothing wrong with schmoop, but if you're going to make a living at it, own it, don't pretend it's high art.)  

...[H]is dream of being the next great Southern writer was replaced by his desire to be the next published writer.  So he started writing these novels set in Small Town Georgia about folks with Good American Values who Fall in Love and then contract Life-Threatening Diseases and Die.

I'm serious.

And it totally depresses me, but the ladies eat it up.  They love my father's books and they love his cable-knit sweaters and they love his bleachy smile and orangey tan.  And they have turned him into a bestseller and a total dick.

Also, I was fascinated by his clear decision about what he wanted to write.  There are genre romance authors who have made the same analysis, and who chose to write romance not necessarily because they think it's high art or even their preferred reading material but because it is an area in which aspiring authors can actually make a living, compared to other (more respected, socially accepted, pretentious) genres. 
~~~~~

At the store today, in the book/magazine aisle, I noticed that there's a graphic novel version of Twilight.  Really?  Was that necessary?  And sitting right next to that was The Harvard Lampoon's parody, Nightlight.  I was almost tempted by the parody.  But not quite.
~~~~~

Um, other than that, not much on the reading front.  Except I've got two paper boxes of books to donate to the library.  Anybody want some of them?  Most of them are books I read and enjoyed but am never going to re-read; some had been keepers but have fallen off the list; others I'm not sure how I acquired them at all because the blurbs are not at all appealing.  But if you're looking for some free books (and you are someone who has commented here before, please), drop me a line and I'll either send a list for you to choose from or do a random selection, your choice.  The books range from m/m to urban fantasy to category to historical to suspense.
~~~~~

On the fandom front, I have to say that it drives me crazy to read blue-collar American characters using British slang in their every day language.  The canon is clear -- Generation Kill could not be more working class and middle class American if it tried.  And still the characters sometimes use mobiles, or wear jumpers, or live in flats in fan fiction.  No.  Okay?  Just no.   A middle class Catholic boy from Baltimore would put on his sneakers or tennis shoes, not trainers; a dirt poor kid from Missouri would use a wrench, not a spanner.  That would be like having Dr Who talk about putting stuff in the trunk rather than the boot: not quite right and enough to drive a British reader crazy.

~~~~~

The US won its Davis Cup tie, and Spain won its tie.  Meaning they'll meet in the US for the quarter finals in July.  Potential sites under consideration by the USTA (?) are in Albany, San Antonia, and Austin.  I have family in Austin and San Antonio, and I've heard good things about Albany.  Road trip?



Okay, back to reading about Anna's year abroad.
jmc_bks: (Nadal at French 2010)
Love this bit from Tignor's post on the last day of qualifying matches for the Australian Open:  

Have you noticed that a tennis court is one of the very few places where it is OK to be seen talking to yourself? Everywhere else it indicates insanity.


It's true: everyone does it, from beginner to #1 in the world. 
jmc_bks: (Nadasco - 08 Spain Davis Cup)
This is going to be a bit scattered, but I want to post it before I just give up and abandon it. So here it is for SBD, my thoughts on Match Maker by Alan Chin.  It also seems appropriate since today is National Coming Out Day.

How did this book come to my attention? A popular gay romance review site reviewed it. I tend to discount their reviews, since my tastes seldom match any of the reviewers, but skim the book descriptions, since they seem to get a wide variety of books from more traditional gay publishers and newer e-publishers. When the summary mentioned gay men in the professional tennis arena, I was sold. Tennis is one of my favorite sports, one that I play (poorly) and watch (regularly). I can't find it right now, but there was an article a while back at either ESPN or Sports Illustrated online, that touched on gay,athletes and even mentioned tennis, since there are no openly gay players in the ATP today.  Although there are a few women on the WTA who have been out while still playing professionally (Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Amelie Mauresmo), there are no men.  None.  The one gay male tennis player that people refer to, Bill Tilden, was not out while playing or even after.  It seems odd, given the lack of physical contact in the sport (meaning less physical risk/threat from homophobic opponents) and the fairly large subset of gay fans...but then again, maybe not according to this article.  

In the four years since being forced off the professional tour for being gay, Daniel Bottega has taught tennis at a second-rate country club. He found a sanctuary to hide from an unkind world, while his lover, Jared Stoderling, fought a losing battle with alcohol addiction to cope with his disappointment of not playing on the pro circuit.

Now Daniel has another chance at the tour by coaching tennis prodigy Connor Lin to a Grand Slam championship win. He shares his chance with Jared by convincing him to return to the pro circuit as Connor’s doubles partner.

Competing on the world tour is challenging enough, but Daniel and Jared also face major media attention, political fallout from the pro association, and a shocking amount of hate that threatens Connor’s career in tennis, Jared’s love for Daniel, and Daniel’s very life
.

You can read an excerpt here.

Cover Art: the cover art is both specific and generic. Tennis racquet, tennis ball, stadium tiers, so the cover fits the content, but it doesn’t tell you anything about the story otherwise. If it were a print book sitting on the shelf, I wouldn’t be able to guess its genre without reading the blurb.

What did I think?    As I first sat down to write about Match Maker, the 2008 Wimbledon Men’s Final was playing in the background. Given the characters of MM, the French Open might’ve been more apropos. If I hadn’t already been sold on this book by virtue of the tennis setting alone, early on it is revealed that David’s favorite tournament is the French Open. He and his protégé are fans of the terre battue. Which made me all *heart eyes* because my favorite part of the tennis season begins in Monte Carlo and ends in Paris.

The set up: readers first meet David at work. He’s the tennis pro at a small club, watching a challenger match, knowing what’s about to happen. Connor Lin, an American-born Chinese teenager, is losing badly despite his talent and skill, but Daniel sees huge potential in him, if only he can master the mental part of the game. Imagine David’s surprise when his club (specifically David) is offered the chance to coach Connor and work on his mental game. Why David? Because he is half Chinese himself and Connor’s family wants an Asian coach. Thus begins a coach/mentor/friend relationship that changes both of their lives, professionally and personally.

After David and Connor meet, the narrative backtracks a bit, and readers learn how David began playing tennis; about his family’s history; how he met and fell in love with Jared; and how they were blackballed from the professional tennis circuit because of their sexuality. Then back to the present, full of training and strategizing, along with the travel and match play that comes with the life of a tennis player on the tour. The narrative style didn’t bother me, but some of Chin’s prose was, well, a little florid. There were times when I itched for a red pen, even as I enjoyed the overall story.

This book is not a romance novel. By definition, a romance novel is supposed to focus on the relationship of the primary couple, and while Jared and David’s relationship is part of what goes on, it is a small, small part of the story told. In fact, Jared and David share relatively little page space, which is fortunate, because it is the weakest part of the book IMO. Much more time is devoted to David’s development of Connor as a player and a young man, and his own issues, which begin only with his professional frustration and morph into something much larger after a confrontation with a homophobe in Miami.

Chin either knows and loves tennis, or he did an immense amount of research, and it shows. He knows about the scheduling, the tournaments, the tiers, the drug testing, the sponsorship deals and pressure to perform, and the media scrutiny of the top players, and it’s all there in the book. The current real top players are there, too, with names changed, but there as competitors for Jared and Connor to face on court. There are a couple of places where I had to roll my eyes, though. First, some numbers. Two million Americans watching ESPN for the quarter final of the French Open? I don’t think so. First, the French is usually aired on tape delay; second, tennis ratings are horrendous even for the US Open, let alone the French. And 32,000 cheering? Not from Chatrier or Lenglen; the largest tennis court in the world is Arthur Ashe, and it seats only 23,000. Second, the wild card situation. After a promising start, Jared & Connor are reliant on wild cards into the European clay court season in order to get their ranking up and not have to qualify into the French Open. But when David and Jared offend the ATP president by being out rather than quietly gay, the wild cards suddenly are revoked. While I have no doubt that the ATP president could influence a tournament’s decision about to whom to give a wild card, they aren’t controlled by the ATP but by the tournament and once given generally aren’t revoked without reason. [Please thank Ana Ivanovic and the Canada Open wild card brouhaha for my knowledge of this process.] This is a little picky of me, but the revocation is a huge deal, plot wise, so it stuck in my mind.

Gender and family in MM:
I felt ambivalent about the portrayal of women in MM. The strongest women in the novel were criticized overtly or implicitly as being unladylike, while the more positively described women were either in traditional maternal roles or ethereal presences with little impact on the plot. On the other hand, family and their expectations and impacts are quite significant. Would Connor be playing tennis at all but for the persistence of his father, who sees him as a golden goose? Although David has relatively little interaction with his own family, Connor’s family, particularly his grandfather, has a huge influence on David and on Connor, in terms of motivating them both and giving them a support network when things go bad.

The Romance:
To be honest, the romance is the weakest part of Match Maker. It suffers because there’s so much else going on, but also because Jared isn’t a particularly likeable or sympathetic character. Empathetic, yes, but he spends a lot of time being a monumental jerk with an ego the size of Center Court, wallowing in his own misery, and David lets it go because he’s been done wrong by the ATP and life.

Language quibbles: prospective /= perspective, they are not interchangeable; and referring to the players as gladiators -- what a sports cliche, must it be overused even here?

SPOILERISH LINK here: Midway through the book, something happens that changes David permanently, and it also changes the focus of the book a bit, in terms of David’s simultaneous coaching of Connor and Jared. In a bit of serendipity, at about the same time I was reading MM, a similarly situated real life person was making headlines and appearing on magazine covers.

Ultimately, I would probably give this book a qualified recommendation. If you like tennis-set books, you’ll probably enjoy Match Maker. And if you are looking for Asian characters in gay fiction, you’ll enjoy Connor’s family.
jmc_bks: (seagull)
Last week was relaxing: I sat on the beach.  Read.  People watched.  Listened to the waves when they weren't being drowned out by real New Jersey housewives.  [Seriously, two women settled down way too close to my chair and umbrella and proceeded to discuss their plastic surgeries and their husbands and it was TMI.]  

Things I noticed while driving to/from the beach, or while at the beach:
  • So many election placards.  Everywhere.  Do I forget between election cycles, or have the economy and widening rift between right and left generated more candidates and fiercer primaries?
  • One "BATEMAN for Sheriff" sign along Ritchie Highway was defaced to read "BAT MAN for Sheriff".  :D  Who wouldn't want the Caped Crusader as their local crime fighter? 
  • Kipke for Delegates...my first thought was how would he handle that with SPN? Except wait, Kipke isn't Kripke.  Nevermind.
  • This week was Bike Week.  Motorcycles EVERYWHERE.  Which was fine (shiny! pretty!) when it wasn't irritating to watch motorcyclists ride up the shoulder or between cars in the back up on Rtes 404 & 50.  Yesterday's Darwin Award nominee:  the Harley rider without a helmet who was busy talking on his cell phone and driving with one hand.  :sigh: 
  • As built up as Rehoboth is today in comparison to my childhood memories, it is nothing compared to the mess of Fenwick Island or Ocean City.  RB's "downtown" zoning must be much, much tighter, since it has avoided the high rise mess for the most part.  Always think high rises look...not quite right at the beach, like the architecture doesn't match the environment. Of course, the shopping/outlet mess out on Route 1 is pretty unattractive, but since I go to the beach for the beach rather than the shopping, I only notice that on my way in and out of town.
Syllable sadness:  in a NY-pubbed book, I noticed that the syllable break of "asshole" was wrong.  Unless suddenly the syllables have changed from ass-hole to as-shole.  (See p. 1059 of Demon Forged.)

Proper name spelling sadness:  Dear English-speakers/writers -- Colombia and Columbia are not interchangeable.  They are not even homonyms (the vowels in the second syllable are distinctly different).  Please stop using Columbia as the all-purpose spelling.  It's really not appropriate to use when referring to that South American country.

Someone in Austin, Texas, seems to want to talk to me, if the 12 missed calls are anything to judge by.  Except s/he never leaves a message, so it can't be that important.  I've reverse checked the number -- residential listing.  I'm almost curious enough to answer the next time.  Almost.

 A week late:  the men's US Open final was pretty good, despite the heinous TV coverage -- F-You very much, CBS and ESPN, for pushing the match to Monday (wouldn't want to mess with Sunday night must-see-TV) and then freaking abandoning it entirely for pregame schtick and Celebrity Bowling.  That failure is better dissected herehere, and here.  

Djokovic seems to have overcome his latent head-case tendencies.  He played an amazing match against Federer in the semis, only to run up against Nadal in the final.  He must have been absolutely gutted, but he managed to be incredibly charming in the trophy ceremony and in all the interviews I've seen.  Nadal was just en fuego, on a mission to win the major that was purported to be unwinnable for him because of his tendency to stand 12 feet behind the baseline and hit with such spin.  But as Pete Bodo put it, "Federer and Nadal may have inadvertently ruined any number of otherwise impressive men."  For awesome coverage, go check out Forty Deuce and Nadal News.

The picture to the left belongs to Getty Images, I think, and the picture to the right is mine, taken at the Nike kiosk at the US Open on Labor Day.  








jmc_bks: (bashful)
+  The cat and my wallet have been traumatized.  I noticed last week that she was panting for no good reason, which was odd.  And then I noticed it again a couple more times.  Off to the vet we went this morning.  It was ugly.  Howling and panting all the way there in the car, even though it was a short ride.  Followed by hissing, spitting, biting, and scratching.  Eventually the vet's assistant had to corner her and scoop her up into a plastic tub fitted with a little spigot-like tube, which they use to give nervous pets gas.  Once that was done, they took X-rays and bloodwork.  Given her age (12!), she may have a thyroid problem.  We'll know tomorrow when the bloodwork comes back.   Then she and my wallet will be traumatized all over again :(

+  The vet's office had a huge display of books and comics of L.Ron Hubbard.  Some appeared to be fictional and others to be motivational or inspirational.  I'm not sure what that says about the vet, or if I even want to know.  The display did seem a bit out of place next to the shelves of pet toys and bags of dog food.

+  Why must Rafa, Verdasco, Lopez, and Ferrer all be in the same quarter at the US Open?  Almagro, Granollers, Garcia-Lopez, and Robredo are in Murray's quarter.  Djokovic has no Spaniards in his quarter, while Federer has Juan Carlos Ferrero and Montanes.  It's as if the Open is out to decimate the Spanish Armada, although that may just be the downside of having so many players in the top 50.  Also, why doesn't the app include the qualifying information?  Qualies were going on this past week, but the app isn't active until Monday.  :(

+  Other than Mockingjay, which I'm still thinking about and re-reading, I haven't read anything new this week.  

+  There is an interview with K.A. Mitchell over at Jessewave's.  Hey, that reminds me that I need to check and see when No Souvenirs will be out in print, because I want a print copy to go on my bookshelf.  ETA:  January, 2011.

+  The MARC train has a page now that tracks its on time performance for each train on a daily basis.  I'm very curious about how they define "on time", since one of the trains they list with that status was actually about 10 minutes late by my watch.

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