Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Meme 11


Day 11 - A book that disappointed you

Oh, that would have to be The Big Steal by Emyl Jenkins. Her first book was really good and I liked the lead character, Sterling Glass, who is a woman of a certain age. I feel bad dissing this book because the author wrote me a very nice email, telling me that this book was delayed because she'd lost her mother-in-law, who was a dear friend, and she was having a hard time dealing with her loss. But this book, although it had some memorable scenes, seemed to ramble and Sterling didn't have the same verve as in the first book. There wasn't a satisfying ending and we were left with lots of loose ends.

Here's something I should have used for a previous Meme--a plot device I find irritating. Sterling has two gentlemen love interests. Too many books do this (and tv shows) (and movies). Love triangles pretty much are set ups for failure. If a choice is ever actually made, there's always the nagging doubts, which are just plain boring… And sometimes when a choice is made, the writer (be they book, tv or movie) just doesn't know what to do with the characters then. I really do prefer a character in a good relationship from the get go. But I digress.

Anyway, I'm hoping there'll be a third book in this series because I know there's lots of potential for this character and her antiques business. I will definitely be there, cheering her on.

C’est la vie!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Meme 10

Day 10 - A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

I've gotta talk about two books here.

The first is A.S. Byatt's Possession. It sounded sorta interesting, so I got it on tape at the library. But it turned out to be really enjoyable and I felt I was missing something by not being able to read it for myself. So I eventually picked up a copy of it and enjoyed every word. It deals with two stories of two couples, a century or so apart, and both tales are complicated and fascinating and the look into the world of academic politics is an education in itself.

The other is Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. I think it was the "It" book of that season and I had started reading it with an attitude of seeing what all the fuss was about. Turns out, the thoughtful narrative reveals an emotional story as well as a tense courtroom drama with a hint of mystery and potential betrayal. It takes place just before and after the Second World War and deals with the Japanese internment, first loves and a decision that could ruin lives.

C’est la vie!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Meme 9


Day 09 - Best scene ever

I don't know if this is the Best Scene Ever but it's certainly stuck with me for 35 years!

If memory serves, it takes place in the first few chapters of Stephen King's Salems Lot. Danny Glick's brother died under mysterious circumstances. In his room a few nights later, Danny sees his brother OUTSIDE his bedroom window--ON THE SECOND FLOOR!

'k, this creeped me out when I read it. But now, when I catch a glimpse of myself in a night-darkened window when I'm not expecting to--I jump 3 feet! And the fact that I can still remember the character's name after all these years-yeah, best scene, definitely!

PS-yeah, I know I missed Day 8... It’s coming soon…

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Meme 7


Day 07 - Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise

Had to think a while on this one but lately I’ve been reading some books with truly annoying mother figures--moms, step-moms, etc. I think this counts as plot device. If not, ah well, it’s the only thing I could think of…

The Georgiana Neverall books by Christy Evans ~ a realtor mom who‘s very unhappy with her daughters‘ life choices

The Queen Betsey Vampire series by MaryJanice Davidson ~ a step-mother who hits every Stepmom cliché in the book

The Trash and Treasure mysteries by Barbara Allan ~ a bi-polar mom who has grown on me considerably

The Debutante Dropout Mysteries by Susan McBride ~ a high society mom who has her heartfelt moments lately

The Ministry is Murder Mysteries by Emilie Richards ~ a hippie mom who gets her nose into everything (again, she’s growing on me)

The Crimes of Fashion Mysteries ~ a long distance mom who’s a nosey parker

C’est la vie!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Book Meme 6


Day 06 - Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore--It’s not a series but he so often uses the same characters that I’m considering it a legitimate cheat…

Christopher Moore’s greatest talent is combining over the top imagination with heart. A Dirty Job is about young widower, single father and second hand goods shop owner Charlie Asher, a regular guy who becomes Death. Along with Minty Fresh, a big black man who wears light green suits and should be played by Will Smith if this is ever made into a movie, who helps Charlie settle into his new part time job as a collector of souls.

This isn’t the craziest plot Moore has come up with but I picked it as my favorite because it has the most warmth for and among its characters. I read it when it came out a few years ago, so please forgive my non-memory for names… First, there’s his daughter, who everyone loves, including two old ladies in his apartment house who vie for the honor of babysitting. Then there are the hell hounds, sent as guardians for the daughter when Charlie is off on assignment. The Emperor of San Francisco, a homeless man with two sweet dogs, who has made appearances in many of Moore’s books, I think mainly the vampire stories. Everyone loves the Emperor and his “men”.

The subject of death is approached from many different angles in this book--funny, angry, tender. Charlie is an Everyman, struggling to understand (the Great Big Book of Death, which would explain his mission, has been cadged by his shop employee, Goth Girl) and appreciate his new job, while trying to keep his precious daughter safe and sane. In true Moore fashion, it’s never as simple as it seems and Charlie finds himself defending the city against demons and harpies who’ve taken a Gold Rush-era ship buried under the streets of San Francisco as their HQ.

If you’ve never read Christopher Moore, this might be a good one to start with, since it’s got the best of him in one big volume (but I’m hoping for more of Charlie and his daughter). Warning, though. Moore gives nothing and no one a pass--if you are easily offended by sex, religion, race, gender or nationality jokes or really really crazy bad language, his books may not be for you. But if you want a laugh out loud funny (seriously, sometimes I embarrass myself in public reading Moore) while your heart is breaking literary experience, run do not walk to the nearest Christopher Moore bookshelf!

PS--I think I'm going to repeat this meme for movies and maybe even TV...

C’est la vie!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Meme 5


Day 05 - A book or series you hate

Ok, I wouldn’t say hate… But I couldn’t finish The Lace Reader. There was so much violence and brutality that it wasn’t worth it for me to continue. When a book makes me so tense from worrying about the people or animals in it, I just don’t want that kind of bad juju in my life. The world is stressful enough. I read to de-stress and relax. I’m not against a good story with periods of violence or intermittent tension (I enjoyed The Lovely Bones) but when a book is relentless in its darkness, back to the library it goes!

C’est la vie!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Meme 4


Day 04 - Your favorite book or series ever

My favorite book, along with practically the entire population of the earth, is To Kill a Mockingbird.

So, I’ll tell you about my favorite series, the Sharon McCone mysteries, by Marcia Muller.

I discovered Sharon McCone somewhere in the mid-80’s at the Whittier Public Library. I quickly caught up on the series, which started with Edwin of the Iron Shoes, in 1977. To have read a series that 1.) an author has actually written for 30+ years and 2.) that has continued to grow and get better over time is just amazing. I always say that I feel like I’ve grown up with Sharon.

She started out as a young PI, working for a lawyer’s co-op in San Francisco. Over the years, lovers have come and gone, jobs have changed, an already problematic family got more complicated. But there are friends who’ve remained from the early days, mingling with new characters, and deep loyalties abound. Sharon has changed from an idealistic girl to a competent woman who’s seen more than her share of the dark side of the human psyche. She’s someone you want on your side because she’s not going to stop until she solves the puzzle.

I don’t want to give anything away but I was happy when she finally found someone she could depend on and love unconditionally on her own terms. Yeah, I’m a romantic, so sue me… I think what I like best about the McCone series is the supportive people around her. Sometimes female PI’s are written to be too tough and fairly unlovable. Sharon is a mix of tough as she needs to be and as generous as she can be and has a tight circle of people around her as tough and generous as she is.

I love that Marcia Muller has been fearless in her story lines. Her last book (this really isn’t a spoiler because the title, Locked In, pretty much tells the story) had Sharon in a waking coma, called locked-in syndrome. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book, coming out in October, to see what’s new with my long time BLFF (Best Literary Friend Forever).

C’est la vie!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Meme 3


Day 03 - The best book you've read in the last 12 months.

This is a tough one. I think I’ll have to say The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of comfortable little cozy mysteries and this book took a total 180 from those.

Mark Genevich is a Boston PI with narcolepsy. He makes his way in the world by doing computer investigations and living in a building owned by his tough/tender momma. When he’s approached by the DA’s daughter, a finalist in a fictional American Idol, he’s thrown into a noir adventure worthy of the finest pulp fiction.

Mark is at once pitiful and determined. He hides his strength behind flip comments and the behavior needed to stay awake at the most crucial moments. Once he’s committed to the daughter’s plight, whether he’s imagined her or not, he’s going to see it to the end, whether that means putting himself into a driver’s seat or getting the crap kicked out of him. His loyalty to the cause he’s chosen reminds me of the late Robert B. Parkers’ Spenser, only without that Boston PI’s street smarts and muscles.

There are a lot of reason’s I’m naming this as my fave in the last 12 months. One may be that it’s such a different vibe than most of what I’ve been reading lately. Darker, more painful. And the writing is full of humor and wordplay and strangely heartfelt. We want to see Mark succeed and not get hurt and stay awake when he needs to. We want to see him clean up his stark apartment and find someone who has the patience to walk with him through his slow-moving life.

I was happy to see that there is at least one more Mark Genevich book (I’ve read it--it’s as good as the first one-No Sleep Til Wonderland) and I’m hoping there’ll be more. Raymond Chandler would be proud.

C’est la vie!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Meme 2


Day 02 - A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

This would have to be the Young Wizards Series by Diane Duane. The first book predates Harry Potter and must be where JK found her inspiration for Platform 9 ¾, since the characters in these books depart to different galaxies from a “door” in Grand Central Station…

Kit and Nita find each other as they’re discovering their own magical abilities. Don’t get me wrong~I love Harry Potter~but in Kit and Nita’s world, they are much more autonomous and take on world-saving responsibilities time and again. They are full of emotion and epic epicness. OK, epic epicness just means these kids go through more heartache and stress than most teenage heroes. They have advisors but are mostly on their own, so they form a bond that both strengthens and warps over the course of time and adolescence. And family plays a much bigger and more supportive role in these books, too.

So, start with So You Want to Be a Wizard, read the eight books after that and I’ll bet you’ll be waiting eagerly for the tenth book after that, too!

C’est la vie!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book Meme Beginnings


So, the weight loss thing pretty much petered out after 20 pounds… I’m still limping along but that’s a story for another day.

One of my bloggy friends, Judy Edmonds over at Sheep Rustling, is doing a meme about books. It’s a series of questions she’s answering day by day, as she has a chance. Since I’m a lifelong reader and my next tattoo will probably be designed around books and the word READ, this meme is right up my literate alley.

So, here’s #1:

Day 01 - A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)

Charlaine Harris (of the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series) had a series featuring Lily Bard, a woman starting a new life after a vicious assault. Lily had moved to a new town called Shakespeare, where she cleaned houses, worked out at a dojo and was pretty much a loner. It was interesting to see her come out of herself and start to trust people and learn to love. She and her lover made a cameo appearance a while ago in one of the Sookie books but I’d love to see more novels featuring Lily.

I’m also hoping Debi Gliori starts writing the Pure Dead Series again. This one is about a Scottish family with Italian roots, who live in a huge house with monsters, a mother who’s trying to be a witch and family members who really are. She’s great with plays on words and she’s just freakin’ clever. Sometimes she’s so funny, I laugh out loud reading in public places. I miss all the assorted characters and wild situations they’d get into. Oh, Debi, put the kids in day care and move back in with the Strega-Borgia’s!!

C’est la vie!