Reader’s Parlor is a weekly feature in which I interview readers! Today’s guest is Kim “KJ” Van Houten, an SF/SFR reader and big audio book listener.
Cara: What do you like to read?
KJ: I have a variety of reading interests, mostly SF and SFR, but some fantasy, historical romances, and a few contemporary romantic suspense. I prefer long books and series where each book is a different main character or couple, but an occasional series with the same may catch my interest. I love cyborgs, space pirates, scientists, and military heroes and heroines. If they have a strong geek side, I’m hooked. I don’t care about steam level in a book – I read the gamut from sweet to erotic – I just require a good plot and some character development along with any steamy scenes. I rarely read non-fiction, but if I do, it’s usually related to futurism, psychology, or archaeology.
Cara: Why do you read? What do you enjoy most about reading?
KJ: I read for escapism. I love the feeling of getting sucked into a new world and forgetting about reality for a while. It gives me a chance to go to a new place and even be a new person. I’m very introverted so reading gives me a chance to at least mentally do things I wouldn’t normally do. A good book sparks my imagination and I’m usually continuing the story in my mind for hours after the book ends. A good HEA renews my faith in the world and in the power of love.
Cara: What do you love to see in a story? What are your pet peeves?
KJ: I love to see a good romance and a good adventure. I want the villain to meet his or her fate in a satisfying way. I want to see a character arc as well as a good plot. I want a long book with lots of detail, but not to the extent of describing every daily action or every blade of grass. I love to see a strong hero show vulnerability and a geeky side. Nothing melts my heart quite as fast as a military/mercenary/pirate type showing some geekiness and a weakness for puppies, or something similar.
My biggest pet peeve is when an author has pages and pages of sex but little plot holding those pages together. I want a reason for a relationship beyond lust, and I want it to makes sense that these came together. I dislike whiney heroes or heroines unless they get over that really fast. Tropes I try to avoid include millionaires/billionaires, abduction, and slavery (with a few exceptions).
What’s on your TBR list right now?
KJ: Definitely too long of a list! And it changes every week, darn that Veronica Scott and her weekly new releases posts! So top 5 most likely to read soon (Note: any new release by Veronica Scott, Anna Hackett, Jess Anastasi, or Cara Bristol will move to the top of my TBR list immediately):
- The Mercenary by Petra Landon
- Beloved Enemy by Hywela Lyn
- Specters in the Storm by Pauline Baird Jones
- The Space Colonel’s Woman by Jay Shaw
- The Rogue Prince by Lindsay Buroker
Cara: Aw! Thanks for the mention! When you’re not reading, what do you like to do?
KJ: When not reading, I’m usually lurking on Facebook, where I’m in a number of author or book-related fan groups. I also enjoy watching TV shows and movies, usually action or SF-related. I’m a huge fan of the Marvel movies and series, as well as Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Expanse, and Lord of the Rings. (So many others to list!) I doI try to catch up on the backlog of writing SFR book reviews for Whiskey With My Book blog (https://whiskeywithmybook.wordpress.com/). Writing freeverse poetry is another hobby and I have some posted online at https://kjvanhouten.wordpress.com/, although it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything new.
Cara: If you could meet one fictional character, who would it be and why?
KJ:I think this answer would change daily. Today Gandalf from Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings was the first to pop into my head. I’d love to listen to his stories and watch his fireworks.
Ebook, print or audiobook: Ebook AND audibook
Your favorite place to read: Recliner
Number of books you read in a year: 200+ (half are audiobooks)
A favorite childhood book: A Wrinkle in Time
Favorite beverage while reading: Diet Coke
KJ Van Houten bio
I’m 51, married with one ‘I refuse to believe she’s an adult’ daughter, and an ever-by-my-side furry canine. I work from home as a freelance graphic designer, despite having a B.A in Psychology with a minor in Cultural Anthropology and an M.S. in Studies of the Future – which I consider more as ‘lifestyle’ degrees than geared to a career in my case. My job is not really that glamourous, so I make it more interesting by listening to audiobooks. I grew up in rural Texas, then lived in both Austin and Houston before moving to Southern California 23 years ago to be with the man I married. I’ve always been a ‘space-case’ with my head more in the stars that grounded in reality. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, and SF has always been my favourite genre until I discovered SFR! Same with movies and TV shows – if it’s SF, I’m usually watching it, or it’s in the queue.