Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Book Talk

Some time ago, I posted here about all of the fabulous books on my nightstand, and how much fun I was going to have reading them.

Well, the best plans of mice and men...

I haven't read things exactly as I had planned to, but I have had some delightful reading experiences since January, and I'd love to share them with you.

First of all, I read that mysterious book that C chose by virtue of its cover: Dead of the Day, by Karen E. Olson. It's pitched as a crime novel, and while it certainly is, I think it goes outside that genre to be even more than that. The protagonist, Annie Seymour, is catnip for me. She's smart, witty, hardboiled, and flawed. Just the kind of character stew that I go for. Karen Olson also fills the book with great regional touches about her native New Haven, and that's also a major plus in my eyes. The plot line concerns cross-cultural issues, as well, (a favorite of mine in any setting) so I was in reading heaven. The novel is well-written, compelling, and makes you think. It's a complete delight, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves mysteries. My only caveat is that I'd read Karen Olson's other books in the series first, because some character development had already occurred by this point, and I would have preferred to discover those details bit by bit. I'm definitely going back and reading the first two: Sacred Cows and Secondhand Smoke. Karen is also part of a group of four mystery writers who have a fabulous blog on writing (among other things) called First Offenders. If you love writing, I'd highly recommend checking it out.

The second book is getting all kinds of press and hype. Many times I read these books and am puzzled by the accolades. Not so this time. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is sublime. It's the story of a young man on the verge of becoming a veterinarian, who loses everything when his parents meet an early death during the Depression. He ends up joining a completely corrupt circus, and we follow his passions and adventures there. The framing device for this book is the narrator as a 92-year-old, now reduced to living in a nursing home. While any of these elements could make this maudlin or depressing, it's not. It's an anthem about life during hard times, told with humor and glory. Simply fabulous stuff!

The last book was already mentioned in last Sunday's post. My friend, Marianne Arkins, of Reading, Writing, and Stuff that Makes Me Crazy, released her first novel last week through Samhain Publishing - One Love for Liv. Since I'm hosting her as part of her blog tour on March 5th, I thought I'd better get cracking and read her novel pronto. Now, I am not a romance fan. I'm kind of romantic, but when I get around the romance genre my skin tends to crawl. I've read several of Marianne's stories, and I'm happy to say that not only does her work not have that effect on me, it also makes me laugh hysterically as well as cry at times. (Not in One Love for Liv, though - that's a laugh all the way). Marianne has written, about herself, that she doesn't really have a romantic bone in her body, and this may be why I find her romances so much fun. They are told with a wink and a smile, and her characters are real and touching. I won't go into great detail here (because I'm sure we will on March 5th), but I just had a blast reading this book. Marianne's friend Allie Bonaface made her a wonderful trailer, so if you want to know what Liv's about, go here to see it.

I'm still reading Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett and I've been reading both Two Meatballs in an Italian Kitchen by Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman and Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma for research for my novel. I'm also hoping to start The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken by Laura Schenone within the next week or so.

Happy reading!

16 comments:

anno said...

I have to second your recommendations of One Love for Liv and Water for Elephants -- excellent books (in very different ways, of course), both of them!

I'm likewise looking forward to reading The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken... hopefully soon, and it sounds like I should look up Karen Olson's books as well. I'm having a harder time connecting with John Burdett's mysteries. I think they just demand more attention than I have at the moment. Maybe later...

Thanks for the recommendations!

Mariposa said...

Wow, I am so envious!

thailandchani said...

Sounds like some wonderful recommendations. Thanks. :) Currently, I am reading The Other Boleyn Girl. Kind of interesting.. a good escape novel.

Marianne Arkins said...

LOL... I'm always glad when my writing doesn't make readers' skin crawl.

*G*

Thanks!

Luisa Perkins said...

Fun! I'm adding these to my list.

Carol said...

I'll have to read some of these! Current reading issue, though, is stealing back a few of the books Elisabeth took from me, all GREAT reads: The Pilot's Wife, The Time Traveller's Wife, The Red Tent, and a few more... the little poophead!

Carol

Wholly Burble said...

Who are you and WHERE is your Wonder Woman Cape? How do you do all that you do AND read and Critic all these books? Wow.

My mom read the Water for Elephants and has recommended it highly. I've just not had time to get to it--but it's on my table "waiting" its turn.

I've had little time for romance books--but this one sounds like it might be right up my alley. I'll be looking forward to the March chat about it.

Thanks for sharing, it's always so good to hear critics on books--gives me excuses to buy more books . . . LOL

Thalia's Child said...

Okay, not fair. My amazon wishlist is long enough as it is!!

I classify romance into a couple of categories - contemporary-crack-me-ups and bodice rippers. I prefer CCMUs, although I have to admit, I loved a good bodice ripper when I was in my teens.

Greg said...

I frequently assemble a list or pile of books....and then ignore it for more "urgent" reading--that book that is just perfect for the mood or moment.

La delirante said...

Your description of "Dead of the day" is really interesting. The character you talk about reminds me of the female character of a Pérez-Reverty book :)

Last night I was trying to read a bit but I was so tired I fell asleep on the sofa :( I wish I had more time to read (and for myself too)

Have a great day!

Judy Thomas said...

I have to agree with you about One Love for Liv. It's a riot. And, since you OBVIOUSLY have good taste ;-), I'll look up Karen Olson's books. I love me a good mystery.

Flower Child said...

I'm reading Water for Elephants right now - based on numerous recommendations. It really is a departure from my usual reading - and thus why I love it so.

Goofball said...

wow you manage to read a lot! I've just barely finished "The road to Mecca" that I had begun reading around Jan 10th.

Reading a book of Jodi Piccoult right now.

You should add your bookshelf on iRead on Facebook, then I can come and have a peek now and then :p

Karen Olson said...

Thanks for the lovely words about my book! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it.

I haven't yet read WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, but I've been meaning to. I've got so many books in my TBR pile it's a bit daunting.

Leslie said...

I haven't been able to keep up with blog reading let alone crack open a new book. Although, I've nearly memorized What To Expect When You're Expecting at this point. I've got BABY BRAIN.

Alex Elliot said...

I read Water for Elephants and I couldn't put it down. I absolutely hated it though. It was a wonderfully written fast past/make you up want to stay up all night finishing the book, but I can't stand movies or books that even a hint of animal cruelty in them. My book club just loved it though.