Reading Roundup

Saturday, March 18, 2006

My sidebar is woefully out of date, I know. I'll be fixing that soon, but I thought I'd do a quick post about some of the books I've read in the past month or so. To be honest, I can't remember all of them. I've started using the library again, and I did a MAJOR clean up of my bookshelves recently (10 boxes to charity). Anywho, these stories/books are still fresh in my mind.

Sir Apropos of Nothing

"An antihero for the 21st century, Apropos springs from his mother's womb with a full set of teeth, ready to bite anyone who gets in the way of his survival in this fast, fun, heroic fantasy satire."

The book was a hoot. Very much the same sensibility of The Princess Bride. And Apropos is a most unlikely hero. He prettymuch stumbles into being a hero 'despite' his best (worst?) efforts. Think Jayne from Serenity. (Well, Jayne with red hair and a bum leg, but with all the self-serving self-centerness intact.)

The Woad to Wuin

"This sequel to the wildly successful Sir Apropos of Nothing (2001) starts off with a bawdy send-up of Lord of the Rings, but quickly segues into its own territory with the appearance of a mysterious Visionary at Apropos's bar, Bugger Hall.'

This book continues the adventures of Apropos. Still fun, especially the character Bellicose, who really is bellicose. All his dialogue is written in ALL CAPS. lol. The only quibble I have with these books is sometimes the author goes on a bit much with the backstory/internal musings. But nine times out of ten there's necessary information given. Still, I think the info could've been conveyed more consisely. I plan to continue reading the series.

I tried to read The Rosary Girls. I think this one is on the bestsellers lists. I'm not sure why I lost interest but one of the main things that niggled was the female detective character.

At first she read like a woman written by a man (if that makes any sense.) Then I thought, no, she actually reads like a man mascarading as a woman. Seriously, you could have taken out all references to girly things like lipstick, whatnot, and you'd have a guy. Sort of the opposite of Lynn Viehl's (S)Heroes-- Girl in a Man Suit. Richard Montanari writes very, very, well. I really liked how he made the setting of Boston come alive--almost another character. (Made me want to watch Mystic River again). I put the book back in my TBR pile, to try again later, it could have just been my mood.

My next failure: Greg Iles' Blood Memory. Too much dialogue and backstory (pet peeves for me). The heroine was very interesting, though: A recovering alcoholic who finds herself pregnant by her married lover, whom she happens to work with-- she's a forensic dentist (I'm sure that's not the right term, but you get the idea) and he's a detective.

I was more interested in their personal relationship/development, than I was in the 'crime/mystery'. These were really, really, really flawed characters. (no shit, right? heh.) Not your garden variety romance couple, that's fo' sho. But the 'yap yap yap yap' approach to unravelling/uncovering clues, combined with the backstory/info dumps ultimately didn't work for me.

The book was close to 700pages long (I think) it would have easily been 1/3 shorter. I can't remember where I started to skim, but I did just to find out the conclusion to the mystery and the relationship. Lots of twists and turns to this one, it might work for you. I'll say again, the characterization was well done.

Last night I finished George R.R. Martin's Fevre Dream. Excellent vampire/horror story. Great characterization of the main pov protagonist, and a wonderful depiction of steamboating, and the way of life on the river in Mississippi during the late 1800s.

If I had a disappointment, I wish we got into the pov of the vamps, particularly the 'hero' vamp, Joshua York, and the 'villian' bloodmaster, Julian Damon. Also, there were a couple of romantic liasons for Joshua that were skimmed over; my romance writer/reader heart, wishes these were explored more fully and the eroticism of the relationships explored more. Despite the cover, there's really no 'heat' in this book (the supine nude chick is misleading.) Anywho, I highly reccommend this one. Just wonderful!

The next two books I'm in the middle of reading:

Like Water for Chocolate. I unearthed this one when I did ruthless slash and burn through the to-be-read pile recently. It's absolutely delightful. It's a magical Cinderalla/love story that takes place during the turn of the century Mexico. Here's a bit of the blurb on Amazon:

"Each chapter of screenwriter Esquivel's utterly charming interpretation of life in turn-of-the-century Mexico begins with a recipe--not surprisingly, since so much of the action of this exquisite first novel (a bestseller in Mexico) centers around the kitchen, the heart and soul of a traditional Mexican family. The youngest daughter of a well-born rancher, Tita has always known her destiny: to remain single and care for her aging mother. When she falls in love, her mother quickly scotches the liaison and tyrannically dictates that Tita's sister Rosaura must marry the luckless suitor, Pedro, in her place. But Tita has one weapon left--her cooking. Esquivel mischievously appropriates the techniques of magical realism to make Tita's contact with food sensual, instinctual and often explosive."
Once I finish the book, I'll be watching the movie. At least I hope there's a movie.

Or is it Chocolate with Johnny Depp I'm thinking of?

Nope. There's a movie, and it looks every bit as sensual as the book. Talk about sexual tension. Yeeeowwh!!

Last but not least, I've been following along on the adventures of Alexander McCall Smith's The No.1 Ladies Dectective Agency. The Kalhari Typing School for Men is another treasure unearthed from the to-be-read pile. These books are more character studies and 'snap shots' of life in Botswana, than they are true mysteries; but I do enjoy the little cases that Mma Precious Ramotswe works on.

For that reason, I didn't enjoy this books as much of the previous entries and I think that's because the first 'mystery' doesn't present itself till about page 100. I'll still continue to read the series, Mr. McCall Smith has a very elegant, spare way of writing that's undemanding, but evocative. Perfect bedtime reading.

Next up is Kristin Hardy's recent release: CAUGHT.

Although I have several BLAZE books in my tbr pile, I haven't actually read one in 2-3 yrs, so this should be interesting. The bits of the book I've skimmed sucked me right in (main reason I bought it). I think the author's voice works for me; the characterization seems solid and the story/premise interesting).

Well, that's it. Later Gators.
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Sela Carsen said...

You are going to LOVE the movie of "Like Water for Chocolate." It is a feast in every sense of the word.

Jaye said...

Sela, if it's anything like the book, I know I'll love it.

Amie Stuart said...

I love Kristin Hardy!!!

Jaye said...

I know I've heard positive stuff about her work, previously. I'm going to read a chapter tonight in bed before I catch some Zs.

Sela Carsen said...

I checked out my bookshelf yesterday and I seem to have missed The Kalahari Typing School for Men. I have the other books, though. I really love Mma Ramotswe's voice.

Steph T. said...

Love Like Water For Chocolate - both the book and the movie. Must reread now...

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