Book Review: Still Life with Strings

Review policy: I only post reviews on my blog for books I feel strongly about, good or bad.

Title: STILL LIFE WITH STRINGS
Author: L.H. Cosway


The last Cosway book I read (which was the last book I read at all) was (I think) the author’s first and it showed. But though Painted Faces was rough, I enjoyed the author’s voice, so I dove into the next one.

This book was beautiful. There were so many things I loved about it, including these quotes:

“ … when everything else in life fails, there is still music.” Goodness, how I love music, how it makes me dream and hope. Also, how its angst is cathartic.

In re dogs (which I hate): “They never have any shame about letting you know just how much they’ve missed you.” Also, toddlers (which I also hate except for my own) and clingy 11-year-old boys, which are the most wonderfullest things in the world. All that was to say it made me look at my children in a different light.

Anyway, the thing that took away from the book: too much time spent on the sex. At some point, it doesn’t add to the plot or characterization, which it stopped doing about 5/8ths through the book (yesisaidthatshutup).

So, the wonderful things:

  • The descriptions of the music playing as flights of fancy (this isn’t an accurate-enough term and it’s far too whimsical for what’s in the text, but it’s the best I can come up with). It’s absolutely brilliant, how it’s done. I can’t hear the music, but I can see it.
  • The first sexual encounter was also approached brilliantly. It had depth with no trace of sleaze.
  • The portrayal of Jade’s life as a lower-working-class girl was spot-on. I admired her for her easy stoicism, which was more than I could muster with dependents.
  • Both characters’ motivations were reasonable and logical given their backgrounds and circumstances.
  • In both books, the characters’ codependence is obvious, but I don’t have a problem with it as long as it’s healthy and I do think their relationship is healthy. I think it will remain so because they are both strong people.
  • In spite of Jade’s poverty, I could feel her innate optimism and, dare I say, happiness. This spoke to me like the quotes above.

Aside: I wish there were a playlist for this book. I’ll have to look.

Aside 2: I LOVE that these are set in Dublin and have local vernacular instead of Anytown, USA, with dumbed-down vernacular for stupid Americans.

Well done, Ms Cosway, well done.

The perfect bookstore: Decadence

The perfect bookstore has a name: Decadence.

This is not another one of my bookstore-of-the-future/how-to-save-brick-and-mortar-stores posts. This is about a bookstore I dreamed up while writing The Proviso four years ago, the one that spawned the previous bookstore posts. Specifically, it’s Giselle’s bookstore, which was torched, causing her to have to reboot her life at the grand ol’ age of 30 by going to law school. (Because that’s what everybody does when they have to reboot their lives, right? Right?)

decadence05
In the spring and summer when the trees and flowers are in full bloom, it’s gorgeous.

This bookstore was in the River Market area of Kansas City, Missouri, and most closely resembles this building:

Giselle describes it this way:

I owned a bookstore for seven years […] I shared space with a patisserie on one side of me and a confectionery on the other. Maisy and Coco weren’t my business partners, exactly; we just figured if we knocked down our walls and unified our décor, we’d all make more money and it worked. […] Decadence wasn’t a bookstore with food. It was a destination. I stocked romance novels of all kinds. Couple that with Maisy’s gourmet chocolates and wine, and Coco’s pastries, the events we put on every weekend… I was doing very well; we all were. I was never going to be independently wealthy, but I made a lot of money doing something I loved.

I’ve been percolating this post for a long time, and after many, many Twitter discussions on the relationship between independent brick-and-mortar booksellers and the romance genre (not good) versus Borders’ and Barnes & Nobles’ willingness to step in where the independent booksellers won’t (but Borders, the more romance-friendly store, went bye-bye), I decided to do yet another perfect bookstore post.

Behold, my real idea of the perfect bookstore:

decadence

And I still think this combination of products and location would make some serious bank. (Add an Espresso machine in the basement…) (A used books section on the second floor…) (Events at lunch and on the weekends…)

UPDATE: August 18, 2015, over 4 years later…

I was re-inserting pictures that got lost in the move so a friend could link to them, so I figured I’d add a couple of notes.

1. Since YA has become a bigger part of the market now, that section would get expanded.

2. I’m reediting The Proviso, and Giselle adds this to her description:

“Wine, chocolate, sex. […] We had PMS survival kits. Better than Midol. Men came in specifically for those.”

Trust me, I’d send my husband across the metro to Decadence to get me a PMS survival kit.