Tag Archives: Books and Reading

Another Saturday Random

A Clean Desk

So yesterday I came downstairs in the morning, and discovered that my husband, who’s been getting up at 5 in the mornings for the past month, had decided to surprise me and clean up the office.

And not just the office, but my desk, too!

I will just say here that after three and a half months of back-to-back deadlines, my desk was not a very pleasant sight. Many, many things have been lost in the mess that was my desk, some of which have disappeared for good, or so it seems.

But now my desk is clean! And I’m not surrounded by teetering piles of papers, books, boxes and magazines.

I can walk to my chair using a direct, straight path! I can sit down in my chair and breathe! I can see again that my desk is a natural pine color!

It’s a change I needed, because I’d been avoiding my desk for a while now. It’s been feeling too much like work.

And now it feels like my writing space. I will definitely be finishing up the first draft of ELEMENTAL in the next 30 days. I have it my time all planned out – writing at least an hour a day, I should be able to wrap up this first draft.

Clean deskMy Clean Desk

The book in the picture above, by the way, is Creative is a Verb, by Patti Digh – I have Molly at My Cozy Book Nook to thank for this, as I first read about it on her blog. And yes, it’s as lovely as it sounds. The book, I mean. And Molly’s blog, too!

I’m in such an appreciative mood right now.

(And I’m now intending cleaner bathrooms without having to lift a finger …)

Vampires

Did I say in my last post, I haven’t really taken to the whole vampire sub-genre in urban fantasy?

So wouldn’t you just know it – guess what the next two books I started reading are about?

Vampires. Of course.

It’s not that I don’t like vampire books. In fact, my top read of 2010 was Justin Cronin’s The Passage. And the year before that, I devoured The Strain, which I read one eerie fog-filled day on the shores of Nova Scotia while on summer holidays.

But for some reason, I’ve just not really felt called to a lot of the other vampire-driven books out there – and in the past year, there’ve been a lot of these.

I’ve been enjoying these two latest reads, though. Maybe because they have a different feel to them than other vampire books I’ve heard about.

One is a secret agent thriller, the other one combines magic and vampires and science and history and evolution (yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds).

They are also very different from each other. I’ll be reviewing both this coming week; I’ve already finished Blood Oath, by Christopher Farnsworth (the secret agent thriller one), and am deep in A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness (the magic/vampires/science/history/evolution one), and enjoying it very much.

What about you? Have you read any vampire-based urban fantasies you’ve really enjoyed recently?

Join My Husband on Facebook!

Well, not my husband, exactly – his dojo!

Last year, I created a Facebook page for his dojo, Renseikan Dojo. I’ve unofficially been the “keeper of the page” for the past while (which basically meant, I didn’t do much with it), but recently stepped fully into the role (you can just call me the dojo’s Social Media Director, okay?).

I decided this past week to be the official updater of the page because it occurred to me, even though the dojo is a local business, its Facebook page doesn’t have to be, nor should it.

I mean, it’s a fantastic dojo, a great place to train, but with the emphasis my husband puts on not only the martial arts, but also meditation and the spiritual aspects of practice, it’s a way to share what the dojo’s all about with more than just the actual, local, physical members of the dojo.

I only just started really updating the page this past week, so right now it’s been mainly about the events we have coming up, but I’m planning on regular updates that will feature quotes about Zen, meditation and spiritual practice (that’s the kind of dojo my husband runs, so it’s a good fit) and lots of inspiring videos.

So, if you enjoy the martial arts, or meditation, or Zen or spirituality, or uplifting and inspiring videos, please like Renseikan Dojo on Facebook!

Speaking of My Husband

I know a few of you follow Ward on his cooking blog, Sensei Cooks. And you’ve probably noticed he hasn’t been posting much lately.

We were talking about it a few weeks ago; he told me he just doesn’t like the writing part of it much. He does like writing out his recipes, though; it’s just the words that go before it that he has trouble with, so he procrastinates writing more posts.

So I hit on a great idea. He’s not too sure of it, so I’m working on him. But hopefully, soon you’ll be seeing more posts on there regularly – and you’ll see Sensei Cooks transform into a vlog!

I think he’d be a natural; he’s used to talking to an audience because that’s part of what he does when he’s teaching. All he has to do is talk about the recipe he’s posting, what changes he’s made to it (and he’s always fiddling around with changes), what he liked about it, what he didn’t like.

And maybe one day I’ll get him to actually let me film him doing the cooking, going through all the steps!

That’s my bit of randomness for this Saturday. What have you all been up to this past week?

Surburban Spies, A Dead Ex, Wicked Plants, Genius Kids, and The Mystery of the Dead Romance Writer

Wouldn’t you know it? Just as I’m really getting into my blogging rhythm again, my deadlines undergo a mini-explosion and now my January looks very much like my December and November.

In other words, lots and lots of work.

But, since I really don’t want to lose this new blogging rhythm of mine, here I am! And because, despite the deadlines, I’m still managing to sneak in a few pages here and there, I thought it was high time for an “I’m Currently Reading …” post.

Suburban Spies: Original Sin, by Beth McMullan

image

Synopsis from the publisher:

She has a license to kill. And carpool.

Seeing Lucy Hamilton, you would think she is just like any other suburban stay-at-home San Francisco mom. She takes her three-year-old son Theo to the beach, playground, and the zoo. She makes organic applesauce, folds laundry, and plays on the floor with Matchbox cars until her knees ache. What no one knows about Lucy, not even her adoring husband Will, is that for nine years she was known as Sally Sin, a spy for the USAWMD (United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction). And that’s just the way Lucy wants to keep it – a secret.

Ian Blackford, a notorious illegal arms dealer and Lucy’s long-forgotten nemesis, returns to the USAWMD’s radar, and they are forced to call Lucy back to action to lure Blackford out into the open. As she races to unravel the mystery that surrounds Blackford’s return (and get dinner on the table), she realizes that the answers she needs lie in a past that she’s tried very hard to forget. In a race against time, Lucy must fight to save herself, her family – and, oh yes – the world.

I just started reading Original Sin: A Sally Sin Adventure, by Beth McMullan last night (ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Hyperion), and so far, it’s been a funny read. I haven’t yet gotten to the part where Lucy gets called back into action, but it’s definitely very promising.

A Dead Ex: Dead Ex, by Harley Jane Kozak

image

Synopsis from Amazon:

When David Zetrakis, the producer of a popular soap opera, is found shot to death the day after Christmas, Wollie Shelley finds herself caught up in the murder investigation. Zetrakis was one of the many Mr. Wrongs in Wollie’s career as a serial dater, and her friend Joey has emerged as the media’s prime suspect. A hot-tempered celebrity who had dated Zetrakis and was fired from his show some years ago, Joey has inherited a million-dollar Klimt from him. But Joey is not the only potential suspect. Zetrakis left lots of nice bequests to the cast and crew of the show. And as the dating correspondent on a talk show called SoapDirt, Wollie, who’s required to dine and dish with the stars, quickly discovers that the behind-the-scenes intrigues of television soaps are as highly charged as the on-screen shenanigans.

 
When Wollie is not trying to protect Joey from an onslaught of predatory reporters, she’s helping her brother make the transition from a mental hospital to a halfway house and negotiating her relationship with Simon, her FBI-agent boyfriend. Dead Ex is another full-out romp of a mystery sure to please Kozak’s many fans—and win her many new ones, too.

I discovered to my absolute delight last night that my library is now loaning out ebooks – and not only that, I’m able to upload them to my iPad and read them (not with the app that my library’s using, which isn’t optimized for the iPad, but with Bluefire Reader, which works with Adobe DRM’d ebooks, both the pdf and epub versions).

So I checked out Harley Jane Kozak’s Dead Ex, featuring Wollie Shelley. Back in 2009 I’d read and reviewed A Date You Can’t Refuse and absolutely loved it, even though it was a whirlwind read with a lot going on, and I normally dislike books that have too much going on. A Date You Can’t Refuse is actually the fourth book in the series; Dead Ex is the third.

I’ve only had a chance to quickly dip into this one, but I’m expecting a very good read out of it.

Those Wicked, Wicked Plants: Wicked Plants, by Amy Stewart

image

Synopsis from Amazon:

A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. In Wicked Plants, Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You’ll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother).

Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities, by Amy Stewart, has been on my “I want that!” list since I first read about it on some book blogs early last year. Don’t ask me why I’ve been wanting to have it in my library so badly; I kept thinking, “What a fun read this will be! And it’s writing research, for when I need to slay a character with something deadly. No, really! Doesn’t it sound so good?”

I can hanker for something for only so long before I cave in to my acquisitional instincts. So last month, as I was ordering books left right and center for all the people on my gift list, I sneaked in an order for Wicked Plants just for me (you all do this, too, right?). I don’t intend to read this one through from cover to cover; I’m using it for inspiration.

So yes, my idea of fun is to open the book up at random and discover some atrocious plant which might one day come in handy in a story. I’m weird that way.

Genius Kids: The Atomic Weight of Secrets, by Eden Unger Bowditch

image Synopsis from the publisher:

In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world’s most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.

But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.

From all across the world, they’ve been taken to mysterious Sole Manner Farm, and a beautiful but isolated schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them love and care, but she can t give them answers.

Things only get stranger from there.

So far, I’ve read the first chapter of The Atomic Weight of Secrets, or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black, by Eden Unger Bowditch (ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Bancroft Press); it hasn’t quite caught my imagination yet, making me want to speed through to the end, but the story is still intriguing enough for me to stick with it and see where the story will take me. And it really is quite an interesting premise, isn’t it?

The Mystery of the Dead Romance Writer: Naked Once More, by Elizabeth Peters

image Synopsis from the publisher:

She may be a best-selling author, but ex-librarian Jacqueline Kirby’s views on the publishing biz aren’t fit to print. In fact, she’s thinking of trading celebrity for serenity and a house far away from fiendish editors and demented fans, when her agent whispers the only words that could ever make her stay: Naked in the Ice.

Seven years ago, this blockbuster skyrocketed Kathleen Darcy to instant fame. Now, the author’s heirs are looking for a writer to pen the sequel. It’s an opportunity no novelist in her right mind would pass up, and there’s no doubting Jacqueline’s sanity…until she starts digging through the missing woman’s papers — and her past. Until she gets mixed up with Kathleen’s enigmatic lover. Until a series of nasty accidents convince her much too late that someone wants to bring Jacqueline’s story — and her life — to a premature end.

Of course, no period of heavy deadlines is bearable without a few good audiobooks on hand, for those moments before bed when I don’t want to look at another proof or the computer monitor, and I just want to relax before sleep.

So I’m rereading Elizabeth Peters’ Naked Once More in audio (Blackstone Audio, narrated by Grace Conlin); it’s been wonderful meeting up with Jacqueline Kirby again (my favorite Peters series character).

As always, this Peters mystery is liberally spiked with a lot of humor, and Jacqueline is as quirky and headstrong and wonderful as always. And Kirby’s take on the whole romance writing biz is just so funny!

So that’s what I’ve been up to reading-wise lately. What are your current reads?

A Rambly Random Wednesday

I’m feeling rather random-ly today, so of course, it means another post of random stuff! Here are the random things that have been delighting me:

Dream analysis. My older son has been getting university acceptances and a few scholarship offers, as well as several phone calls from the universities he’s applied to, so we’ve had lots of celebratory-feeling days around here.

Last night, I dreamed he cooked up a whole batch of bacon – it was crisp and perfectly done. I’ve never really been big on dream analysis, but this one just jumps out at me. Yes! He is going to be successful, bringing home the bacon!

A Clean Desk. I did it. I finally got around to cleaning up my desk. I took a picture, since it’s a rare event and I like to record things like this for future reference (and to remind a certain husband that I can occasionally be tidy).

CIMG3505

And this should give you an idea how I did it – I call it the “everything-in-the-box” method (note: patent pending).

CIMG3506

Writing. I started my first readthrough of my WIP, NANTUCKET, last night and I’m very happy to say that this readthrough is going so much better than the readthrough I did of my NaNoWriMo novel last month. No, it’s not perfect, but there’s stuff I can work on, and the story (so far) is shaping up quite well. (Please feel free to cheer …)

Reading. I finished The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern and have one burning question (don’t worry, not a spoiler):

Did Rosaleen know about the book, or not? If you’ve read the book and have more of a clue about this than I do, please let me know!

Lust Speaking of Husbands. As most of you know, my husband is a martial arts teacher. Now that we have a little dojo in our home, he holds the occasional private class here.

CIMG3510

What this means is that I’m now getting to see him in his black belt uniform again (I hadn’t seen him in his dogi for quite a while, because I rarely make it out to dojo functions these days).

image index_001_001 ward

I’d forgotten I have a tendency to swoon when I see him in his karate dogi. Oddly enough, it’s not the same for me when he’s wearing his aikido uniform or his jodo uniform.

I guess it’s a good thing to be swooning over one’s own husband.

Blog Stuff. I’m hoping to be able to start working on a new look for Ms. Bookish next week, so if you see funny things happening around here, you’ll know why. The dilemma right now is picking a new template. There are just so many – it’s tough to choose just one. I guess it would be too confusing to use several at once!

Exercise. I’ve decided exercise is no longer going to be a dreaded word for me. It helps that I found a picture of me taken not so long ago where I looked decidedly more svelte than I do now. The reminder that it wasn’t that long ago was a good one.

So, treadmill, you and I are going to begin our love affair, starting today tomorrow Friday. I promise!

That’s my random stuff for today. Every now and then, I love a day of random. What random stuff have you been delighting in recently?

Knee Surgery …

Not mine. My husband’s.

He went in for day surgery on Monday, and he’s doing well right now.

I wish I could say the same for me. I didn’t foresee the extra work around here, for some reason.

He’s on crutches and is only supposed to put partial weight on his leg for the next four weeks or so.

He should be off the crutches in a few more days (fingers crossed). In the meantime, I’m suddenly finding myself holding down the fort all by myself – not to mention a good deal of running and fetching – and I’m not liking it very much!

So many things to do. None of which involve blogging, reading other blogs or Twitter. Hardly any email, either. But lots of driving, buying big heavy things (aka “stuff in bulk from Costco that we’ve run out of and really really need right now”), carrying those same big heavy things into the house (SIX trips back and forth, even with teenage help), and breaking up the ice on our way-too-long gravel walkway. (The rainy, warmer weather melted all the snow on the walkway, leaving behind the underlying slippery slabs of ice. This is NOT the way the whole rain and warm weather thing is supposed to work, I know, but there you have it. That’s what happened to our gravel walkway. And that’s why I was out there today, maniacally slashing at the ice with this rather interesting not-shovel that was made for doing just this kind of thing.)

Since my husband usually does the cooking, I’m now also finding myself running out to grab take-out, too. It was either that, or frozen entrées. Because when he discovered he loved cooking a year ago, I in turn forgot how to cook. I think I must have traded in those particular brain cells for more bookish ones or something.

So in light of all this, I’m off to bed early tonight to recuperate and rest up my aching muscles, armed with a good book (Reginald Hill’s latest Dalziel and Pascoe novel, A Cure for All Diseases – which, I think, is published in the States as The Price of Butcher’s Meat). I’m loving this one so far – Dalziel actually narrates part of it, and he is such a fun, politically incorrect, rude and interesting character.

I should be back to regular Ms. Bookish form in a few days.

TSS – Currently Reading: Fowler, Springer & Berry

Time for The Sunday Salon again! Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

Ten Second Staircase, by Christopher Fowler. I finished Full Dark House, the first book in the Bryant and May Peculiar Crimes Unit series, a few days ago (review coming soon), and I loved it so much I picked up the next Peculiar Crimes Unit book in my TBR, Ten Second Staircase, right away. I’m right at the beginning, and so far, so good.

The Charlemagne Pursuit, by Steve Berry. This is the first book by Steve Berry that I’ve picked up – it stars ex-Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, and I’m finding Malone likeable enough to want to pick up the earlier books featuring him. I’m about midway through this book, and it’s a fun and exciting read – except that I’m finding the motivation for one part of the plot to be kind of weak. (More on that when I finish the book and write the review.) Despite this, though, I’ve been enjoying this book a lot.

The Case of the Missing Marquess, by Nancy Springer. I’m still reading this one – haven’t had a chance to pick it up again since the last time I was reading it last week. I have two other books in this series in my TBR pile, so I’m hoping this one is as interesting as the first chapters indicate.

And in audiobooks: last night I was feeling a bit under the weather, and even the thought of picking up a book to read was enough to make me feel kind of dizzy. So I took to my bed (I’ve always wanted to say something like that!) and started listening to an audiobook of PD James’ Skull Beneath the Skin. I’m not sure if the version I’ve linked to is the actual version I’m listening to. Mine isn’t so much an audiobook as an audio production – lots of lovely British actors saying the lines; it feels like listening to an old-time radio show.

So that’s what I’m currently reading. What books are enticing you these days?

TSS: Currently Reading Fowler, Springer, Carr and Greene

I’m in the midst of a hectic weekend of deadlines and such, but thanks to a little experiment I did involving changing my beliefs about time, I find myself with the time to write today’s Sunday Salon post!

What I love best about The Sunday Salon is checking out what everyone is reading. So my own TSS posts are usually about what I’m currently reading (unless another bookish idea sounds more interesting – I confess, I was debating writing a post about why so many novelists are lawyers, and one day I will, but today is not that day).

I normally have a whole boatload of books on the go (a reflection, I think, of my scattered eclectic way of living), and this week has not been an exception. Immediately after reading Christopher Fowler’s White Corridor, I found myself wanting more of Bryant and May, so I plucked Full Dark House, the first book in the series, out of my TBR. It’s been a great read so far.  Bryant and May are both in their mid-80s (and still working at the Peculiar Crimes Unit) – the story begins, oddly enough, with the news of Bryant’s death. May investigates, and the story goes back and forth between present day and the past. Fowler handles the flashbacks very well, and it’s interesting getting to know the characters as they were at the beginning (and, I should say, at the end).

I also started reading Nancy Springer’s The Case of the Missing Marquess today; I had brought it to Disney with me, but the cheerleaders-as-CIA series The Perfect Squad, as well as Meg Cabot, kept me too well occupied to dip into this Enola Holmes mystery. I’m only on the first chapter still, when Enola’s mother has disappeared, but so far it’s shaping up to be a fun middle-grade read.

Since I started book blogging, my TBR pile has grown tremendously, so I’ve not been re-reading as many books as I used to. But recently I stumbled on my much-loved copy of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, and I made the mistake of flipping it open and reading “just a bit”. With Carr, you can never read “just a bit”, and soon I found myself caught up in his beautiful writing and characterizations, and feeling just that little bit creeped out with the mystery. Carr is such a joy to read – I always find myself wishing he had more books out – and I suspect I will be digging out my copy of Angel of Darkness next.

If you haven’t read The Alienist yet, here’s the summary. The book is even better than the summary promises.

The year is 1896, the place, New York City. On a cold March night New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned to the East River by his friend and former Harvard classmate Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or “alienist.” On the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge, they view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan’s infamous brothels.

The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler’s intellect and Moore’s knowledge of New York’s vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology– amassing a psychological profile of the man they’re looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before. and will kill again before the hunt is over.

Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian’s exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society’s belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.

Last, but most certainly not least, is the audiobook I’m currently listening to. My experiment with time had one truly lovely result – I discovered that I can now listen to an audiobook while I work. I’ve tried this in the past, with fairly disastrous results. The nature of my work is such that I’m often at the computer, thinking and typing out what I’m thinking (it sounds like writing but alas, it’s not nearly as interesting as writing); the last time I tried to listen to an audiobook instead of music while working, I ended up typing what I was hearing, instead of what I was thinking.

But I gave it another try yesterday, and was thrilled to discover that I am able to separate the two parts of my my mind somehow and work while listening to an audiobook at the same time. I’m listening to non-fiction, which might be what’s making the difference, as I find with non-fiction if I tune out here and there, I can still get the gist when I tune back in.

So right now, I’m listening to Brian Greene’s wonderful The Elegant Universe. I’ve watched Nova’s gorgeous film of the book, and I have the book itself but never had the time to get to it. Listening while I’m working is the perfect solution. The narrator’s voice works well with the material, evoking space and time and all manner of scientific mysteries; I’ve been meeting my deadlines and overall, feeling quite happy about things!

TSS: Currently reading Brown, Cabot, Fowler and Neville

It’s Sunday again – time most definitely has been flying by. I’m currently reading four books, but this week is a hectic week for me in terms of editorial deadlines, so I’m not sure how many of these I will be able to finish up and review by this time next Sunday.

But there’s just something so comforting about having such a lovely line-up of books in my Currently Reading pile.

I’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit with Rita Mae Brown’s Santa Claws. Mrs. Murphy and the gang are back at it again, and even though a murder isn’t the most Christmas-y of things, Santa Claws is shaping up to be a nice, cozy read. It’s definitely the kind of book you want to read with a mug of hot chocolate and mini marshmallows by your side. (Oh, wait a minute … I get that feeling with every book, actually.)

I haven’t gotten any further along on Katherine Neville’s The Fire, not because it’s not looking like it will be a good read, but because it’s one of those big, complex looking books that say to me, “I dare you to pick me up, start reading me and then put me down half an hour later because you’ve got work to do. Go on. I dare you.” Frankly, I’m a real wuss when it comes to such challenges; The Fire looks like it will be hard to put down once I get into it, and with so many deadlines coming at me, I’m scared to pick it up.

I know, kind of pathetic. What can I say? Books rule my life. And I’m woman enough to admit it.

Moving right along, I’ve also started Meg Cabot’s Big Boned. I love Cabot’s work, whether it’s her children’s books, YA novels or books for adults. In Big Boned, Heather Wells is back to solve another murder. I personally am reading this not for the whodunnit, but to see if Heather (a) will ever go back to singing superstardom again and (b) ends up with Cooper. Tad’s okay, but Cooper’s more than okay. Poor Tad.

Finally, I’m also reading Christopher Fowler’s White Corridor, another in the Peculiar Crimes Unit series featuring Bryant and May. I really like this duo, who are as quirky as you can get; sure they’re older, but that doesn’t get in the way of solving the crime, another locked room murder.

So that’s my reading week for the coming week. Now if I can only get some of these pesky deadlines finished up, it will be a very good reading week.

And here’s a round-up of the reviews I posted this past week:

Not in the Flesh, by Ruth Rendell (review)

The Cruellest Month, by Louise Penny (review)

The Book of Lies, by Brad Meltzer (review)

Casting Spells, by Barbara Bretton (review)

The Sunday Salon – Currently Reading: Book of Lies, Casting Spells and The Fire

I am currently reading a fun stash of books right now, and the only reason why I haven’t finished any of them is because I haven’t had a good block of time to do so. I keep my “currently reading” books in different rooms of the house, and tend to just pick up whatever book is in the room I happen to be in. Of course, if I sit down with a nice chunk of time, I’m likely to finish whatever book it is, but this week has been hectic, unfortunately.

But I should be finishing up all three of the following books this week:

  1. The Book of Lies, by Brad Meltzer. This one is stashed away in the living room, and it’s a pity each time I’ve picked it up I’ve had limited time, because this one has been a real page turner so far. I’m only in into the fourth chapter (or so) and each time I’ve had to put it down, it’s been extremely difficult doing so.
  2. Casting Spells, by Barbara Bretton. So far this one is shaping up to be pretty good (although there’s a minor discrepancy near the start of the book that keeps bothering me – I’m hoping it will be explained away as I get further into the book). The book involves a quaint New England town which is home to many different magical people (werewolves, witches, vampires and fairies included), a murder, a sorceress’ daughter and a human cop. It’s been a nice read so far.
  3. The Fire, by Katherine Neville. This is the sequel to Neville’s novel The Eight, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading several years ago. I’ve hardly had a chance to do much more than look at the cover of this one longingly and open it up to read the first few words, but I’m definitely looking forward to this one. If it’s anywhere near as good as The Eight, it’s going to be a wonderful read.

Sadly, I do have one current read that I just don’t see myself getting back to this week, not with this handful of exciting books calling to me. I am halfway through Princess Izzy and the E-Street Shuffle by Beverly Bartlett, but it’s “court biography” style, while interesting, hasn’t been interesting enough to get me to pick it up after having put it down. I do want to finish it, though, since I’d like to see what happens with Princess Izzy and the Springsteen loving mechanic in the States (and also, I’m reading this for the From the Stacks reading challenge); I’m just not sure exactly when I’ll be able to get back to it.

The Sunday Salon – Currently reading: Charlaine Harris, Alexander McCall Smith & Beverly Bartlett

I’m currently reading three books right now, all of which I will be reviewing later this week (or when I finish them!).

I started Charlaine Harris’ An Ice Cold Grave last night, and was in for a pleasant surprise. I had actually read the first in the series, Grave Sight, last year and had enjoyed it – but I’d forgotten the name of the author and hadn’t realized it was the first in a series (the Harper Connolly series).

So far An Ice Cold Grave has been an engrossing read. I’m a third of the way through, and I only put it down because it was so late and I knew if I kept at it, I would be finished the book but it would be 5:00 a.m., which really wouldn’t do. If I get a chance to get back to it today, I’ll likely be able to finish it.

I’m also reading Alexander McCall Smith’s The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday. I really enjoy Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series; I know they’re “mysteries”, but they’re very different from the mysteries I normally read. With Isabel Dalhousie, it’s not really so much the plot, but Isabel herself who is so enticing. I fell in love with her from the moment I read The Sunday Philosophy Club, the first in the series.

The key to enjoying the Isabel Dalhousie series, I think, is to let go of the notion that they’re mysteries. Yes, each book involves a mystery of some sort, but the book itself is very much driven by Isabel’s character, her philosophical inner talk about everything that happens around her, and the application of ethics to every day life. If you reach for a book in this series expecting a rousing mystery, you’d probably be disappointed. But Isabel herself is so loveable; she tries hard to look at the world without judgment, and reading about her is always so enjoyable. It’s the kind of book you savor, rather than reading through in a breathless gallop – both are wonderful experiences, and I always like to have a little of each in my current reading.

The third book I’m reading right now is Beverly Bartlett’s Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle. The book quite surprised me when I first started reading. It’s written in something like the style of a biography, a Royal biography really, but with a chatty “talking to you, the reader” feel to it.

This is the first book I’m tackling for the From the Stacks Reading Challenge. I’m finding that while the book is interesting and fun as I’m reading it, when I put it down, my memories of it are not engrossing enough for me to pick it up again. But I’d like to finish this one by the end of this week.

Reviews Roundup: This past week, I’ve reviewed the following books:

Review: Doppelganger, by Pete Hautman and Mary Logue
Review: The Calder Game, by Blue Balliett (I really loved this book)
Review: The Riddles of Epsilon, by Christine Morton-Shaw
Review: Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer