Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Some Book Reviews

by Nancy Martin

Writers read differently than readers. We're always evaluating, noticing technique, judging the wordsmithing, and thinking three steps ahead of the author we're supposed to be enjoying. It takes a lot to pull me fully into a story now. I read a lot of first 50 pages and then toss the novel aside when the work doesn't measure up. But when I fall in love with a good book, I fall hard.

Writers also read a variety of books. Not just our own genre--although we know it's important to stay current--but also books that inspire, supply much-needed research information, and/or let us relax and enjoy.

Here's what some of us are reading at the moment:

From Kathy: I'm reading THE COTTAGERS by Marshall Klimasewiski. It's a minatream novel with a suspense base. A young man stalks/peep-toms a woman among four cottagers in a resort town. The novel unfolds slowly and is very interior.

Kristine says: I'm reading IT AIN'T ALL ABOUT THE COOKING, by Paula Deen. I know it's not a mystery, but I'm a fan of The Food Network, and I must say that this biography, autobiography is so inspiring and very well written. Paula's honesty in this book and her unwavering commitment to her passion of cooking is an inspiration to anyone, even writers.

From Sylvia: I'm reading THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL: MARY ROGERS, EDGAR ALLAN POE AND THE INVENTION OF MURDER by Daniel Stashower. I have conflicting feelings about this read. The book has taught me that sometimes a writer is best at a distance. Knowing too much about the author can get in the way of appreciating their gifts. I don't even like to look at the author's photo on the flyleaf. On the other hand, I am intensely curious about people and there is something compelling about Poe's relentless self destruction. The flaws of the famous do fascinate. And Poe's craving for money, fame and professional recogniztion--heartbreaking.

Annette says: I am once again savoring Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD. I take something new and wonderful from it with each reading. Where else can you learn to listen to your broccoli, tune out radion station KFKD, and finish that shitty first draft? Love it.

Nancy says: I just finished Peter Speigleman's RED CAT, which I purchased--truth be told--because of the racy cover art and a bookseller's whispered, "It's a really, really sexy book!" In the sexy department, I must admit I was disappointed. (I think it's a man's idea of sexy. To me--not so much.) This is a pretty standard private-eye-investigates-sordid-murder-story, and because it never got racy, I found myself annoyed and disappointed. (This was my problem, because I came into the book with expectations, right?) But the author's excellent writing won me over. No overblown, "mean streets" melodrama. Good, clean, evocative writing. Kudos.

Also from Nancy: I didn't get around to reading Lisa Scottoline's DIRTY BLONDE until it came out in paperback. I'm sorry I waited. The story of a judge with a dirty secret, this suspenseful mystery opens with a bang and keeps up a blistering pace. The protagonist is a complex character worthy of further discussion, so I hope somebody else reads this one. This author gets better and better. I'm looking forward to DADDY'S GIRL, out in hardcover now.

From Lisa: Believe it or not, I'm on page 140--right smack-dab in the middle--of A CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED DEATH by Nancy Martin, and I'm loving it. Nora and Mick are together, which always makes me happy. Emma's funny and delightful, and Libby's annoying, and I can't wait to find out who killed Penny Devine. Or if she's even really dead... It's a page turner!

What about you? Where is your bookmark right now?


Annette said...

Nancy, I agree wholeheartedly about DIRTY BLONDE. I read it a year ago and it still lingers in my memory.

Judy Schneider said...

I just started reading Lisa Scottoline's Daddy's Girl. So far, it's great. The characters are interesting and the situation Scottoline puts them in is unique. Like Nancy, I only give a book 50 pages before I toss it aside. I'll make it to the end of this one, for certain.

Nancy said...

Gee, thanks, Lisa. I hope the rest of the book holds up.

Annette, I think Lisa S is doing good stuff with her protagonists these days.--Very strong women with big flaws they must struggle to overcome. Male protagonists have been this complex for a long time--but where in the sand does a female character draw the line of distastefulness? Can she be troubled, flawed----and still be appealing enough to carry a book? I think Lisa's creating some very compelling female characters.

debbyj said...

I'm reading THE FALLEN by T. Jefferson Parker. It came out a year ago, but I'm just now getting around to reading it. A really really good book about a cop who falls from a 6th floor window and survives, but due to the fall, now has synesthesia--he sees colors and shapes when people speak--colors and shapes that relate to the speaker's emotions and can show whether or not they are speaking the truth. Very interesting.

Cathy said...

I'm reading ASK AND IT IS GIVEN by Esther and Jerry Hicks. It's about manifesting and how your thoughts create your world. Very interesting. I think it's somehow connected to THE SECRET, premiered on Oprah.

I saw Denny make fun of THE SECRET on Boston Legal several nights ago. It was really funny.

Nancy said...

Are we going to read THE SECRET for our July meeting?? (Actually, I'd love to hear someone in this group review it!)

Anonymous said...

I did see a rerun of the Oprah show talking about the book in the wee hours of the morning a few weeks back. Sounds interesting, but I'm not sure I want to add it to my TBR read. If anyone does read it, though, I'd love to hear about it.