Trying to honor my promise not to allow twenty-plus books to accumulate before I blog about my reading again [click HERE for that LONG post from March 27 – Books Are My Religion and a Lesson from Ann Patchett], here is my Recent Reads round-up.
OLD RELIABLE GENRE FUN-BON-BONs
Again, I am a lover of genre reading. For me, a quick, fun, fast book from which I know what to expect is like sitting down with some really good chips, con queso, and salsa and digging in. I can’t do it all the time, but I must do it regularly because it tastes good and it’s great fun. I have visited with a number of my regulars of late.
CAUGHT by Harlan Coben and THE FOOL’S RUN by John Sandford were two of my not-so-guilty pleasures in the past few weeks. I’d go into plot summaries but you are either a Coben/Sandford type (which I now am) or you’re not (and I get that as I long eschewed both, myself – without ever having read one) so there’s little point in plot-precis; they are what they are. MY TRIGGER WARNING: Fool’s Run is from 1996 and about 2/3 of the way through there is casual use of the derogatory gay-slur “F”-word which very much upset me. I didn’t think it was required or character driven, so, you’re warned. BUT, I especially enjoyed the Coben, full of twists and surprises.
I also read another in the Agatha Raisin series, the tenth; AGATHA RAISIN AND THE FAIRIES OF FRYFAM. I’m a great fan of M.C.Beaton and this series though I’ve had just about enough of Agatha’s obsession with her perfectly horrible and not nearly good enough for her neighbor, James Lacey. But, since that is M.C. Beaton’s intent – that we want better for Agatha, well, there it is. I hate it when my friends think so little of themselves they fall for scum. (But, it’s perfectly okay when I do it!)
NEW GENRE READS
I’m always on the lookout for new series, new genre-bon-bon, well-done, reliable authors to add to my list of regulars. I found the following two while stalking Twitter and book blogs.
SOME DANGER INVOLVED (Barker & Llewelyn #1) by Will Thomas is a Victorian London detective – sorry, “Enquiry Agent” procedural series. A little Holmes and Watson-ish. I liked it well enough but neither the characters nor milieu excited me enough for me to continue with the series.
GARDEN SPELLS (Waverley Family #1) by Sarah Addison Allen is a VERY different matter. This book falls into all sorts of categories for which I’ve had little interest and – I confess with shame and bowed head – some disdain: Romance. Magic Realism. Well, slap my pretensions and call me Alice Isabel Toni Hoffman Allende Morrison, I freaking LOVED this book. The big, inherited house. The tension between sisters Claire and Sydney. The beautiful men they accepted into their lives. The magic apple tree – yeah, I said it, a magic freaking tree that sends messages! I LOVED IT. Even better, it was my very FAVORITE kind of book – A USED LIBRARY BOOK I GOT FOR ONE CENT AND SHIPPING!
(Have I mentioned how much I LOVE used library books? I will write about this one day, but, short version: I was saved as a child from 4th-6th grade boredom to death and taunting by a librarian who took me – quite literally – into her world and arms, and protected me.)
I’ve already ordered one cent versions (and if I’m especially lucky, these are discarded library editions) of Sarah Addison Allen’s other novels. New favorite.
AND ANOTHER NEW AUTHOR . . .
I had read about IF I FALL, IF I DIE by Michael Christie in a few places, seen a little TwitLit buzz, and it seemed like something I might enjoy. From the publisher’s site:
A heartfelt and wondrous debut about family, fear, and skateboarding, that Karen Russell calls “A bruiser of a tale . . . a death-defying coming-of-age story.”
Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who drowns in panic at the thought of opening the front door. Their world is rich and loving, full of art, experiments, and music—but confined to their small house.
But Will’s thirst for adventure can’t be contained. Clad in a protective helmet and unsure of how to talk to other kids, he finally ventures outside. With the help of an artistic loner who introduces Will to the high-flying freedom of skateboarding, Will is pulled far from the confines of his closed-off world and thrust headfirst into the throes of early adulthood and the dangers that everyday life offers.
In buoyant, kinetic prose, Michael Christie has written an emotionally resonant and keenly observed novel about mothers and sons, fears and risks, and the lengths we’ll go for those we love.
I liked it. The end felt unearned to me. (I know, I say that a lot – and, I confess, it may be that I am afraid the end of my long-wept-over novel may be unearned, so, I am uber-on-the-lookout for it in others.)
AND AN OLD FAVORITE . . .
Helene Hanff. If you haven’t read her books, well, you are lucky, because reading them for the first time is akin to discovering a new best friend you didn’t know existed. I return to her, again and again, and each time I am charmed, warmed, enlightened, and delighted. This time I revisited UNDERFOOT IN SHOW BUSINESS. But, I have multiple versions of everything she’s written from the better-known 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD to the lesser known (and, sometimes, my favorite) Q’S LEGACY. PLEASE, if you’ve not read her books, do so. (And, bonus, she and I share a birthday. So, I feel an especial bond with her.)
AND FINALLY (too, almost) . . .
I also read the memoir, BETTYVILLE by George Hodgman about which I did an entire blog-post, CLICK HERE FOR THAT.
And, I finally read Ann Patchett’s transcendent THE PATRON SAINT OF LIARS [click here]. First published in 1993, I cannot believe I have not read it until 2015 – but, how lucky for me. What a gift. I can’t write about it in short-form. I intend to do an entire blog about it. But, my dears, it is my link for this post. I hardly need raise my voice in praise of Ann Patchett, so many others have (and continue to do, and rightly) but Liars was fantastic. The kind of book so good that when you’ve finished, you feel unable to begin another book (thus, bon-bon books) and also feel sorry for the next “literary fiction” you pick up, because you know it cannot, will not, never could compare to the book you just read and with which you fell in love. Liars had it all: crazy family, nuns, love that wasn’t, wasn’t that was, all of that. Anyway – don’t wait for me to write about it, and don’t wait like I did, despite my friend Sue telling me for YEARS to read it; JUST READ IT NOW. CLICK ON THE BOOK COVER AND ORDER YOURS TODAY! I almost NEVER cry when reading, but Liars had me in tears more than once, and its ending, well, JUST GET IT TODAY!
And so, that’s it for me. Only nine books this time, better than twenty-three, right? I’ve just begun Deanna Raybourn’s SILENT IN THE GRAVE (Lady Julia Grey #1) and it is cracking, crackling good so far – so, HOORAY, another series to which I can return as if visiting a dear, old (but so YOUNG) friend. Ms. Raybourn is a delight on Twitter [CLICK HERE]. She seems to be one of those genuinely good, kind, interesting, funny, and loving people the world needs so desperately. And, a good writer to boot (or, more likely, stiletto heel) – LOVE HER. Check out her website here: DEANNA RAYBOURN.
Off for more reading. My local bookseller, THE CURIOUS IGUANA [click HERE to visit], has something like five books on hold for me. My TBR pile grows bigger than Ted Cruz’s delusions – and that’s saying something.
Love and Light, darlings. Love and Light.