Monday, August 23, 2010

Paging Bibliomama

There was a key in my mailbox today, which is always very exciting because it means there's a package in one of the bigger boxes at the bottom. I thought it was some clothes that I'd ordered, so I was perplexed when the package was hard and cornery. Then I realized it was books and I was excited. Then I realized it was free books and I was elated. House of Anansi sent me copies of Annabel by Kathleen Winter and Far to Go by Alison Pick (which was already on my to-read list) to review -- beautiful fresh slippery smooth sensually intoxicating hardcover copies. When I'm done making out with them I will review them.

This reminded me that I when I started this blog I thought I would be writing about books a lot more. I just can't seem to find a style of reviewing that fits in with the flow that this blog has kind of developed on its own -- I mean the flow that I've subconsciously developed, because lord I hate it when authors say stuff like "well I didn't mean for that to happen but my character just DECIDED that she was going to go to the courthouse instead of the dry cleaners that day". Dude -- it's not cute. It doesn't really sound like your characters have come to life. It sounds more like when old ladies pretend their cats are talking to them, and they can't say their Rs properly.

What else bugs me when I'm reading? Hmm, well, how about when I'm reading a book in a series that isn't the first, and just when I'm realizing that I like it and looking forward to reading previous books the protagonist thinks something like "wow, this case really reminds me of my last case, in which I was kidnapped and tortured after realizing that Bob McHale the photographer was really a vicious serial killer because of the incident at the lake with his uncle when he was eleven.". Way to go buddy, there go those royalties.

Anyway, lately I've reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, even though I didn't like his other book much, because it's on my book club list for next year. It held my attention well enough, but it's very gothic and Romantic (in the sense of Romanticism) and I've never had a whole lot of patience for Romanticism, even when I was studying it in university. One of the reviews I read said something like 'it's like peeling away the layers of an onion that then inexplicably grow back' (something like a vampire's hymen, according to True Blood, I guess), and after a while you just feel like you've been peeling this onion for a long damned time. It's all star-crossed lovers and doomed love, with an intriguing literary mystery and then naturally for the ultimate gothic gross-out you have to have the lovers who discover they're actually brother and sister -- like YAK. Maybe it lost something in translation. I'm also reading The Jade Peony, which is really good, and keeps making me angry (about the treatment of the Japanese by the Canadians, about the treatment of girls in traditional Chinese and Japanese culture). I also read Shoot to Thrill, by two of my favourite authors, a mother daughter team who write under the name P.J. Tracy. It was a little disappointing -- not because it was bad, just because it was published four years after their last one and doesn't live up to the best entries in the series, which are sterling examples of really great mysteries -- satisfying plot, characters you want to have over for dinner, amazing dialogue. Also, do mysteries always have to have such cornball titles? They're all so cheesy and generic I have trouble remembering the titles of any of them even if I really like the book.

There was also this book, which was like a lightning bolt to the head. Some readers were put off by the coyness of the jacket copy (it says 'we don't want to tell you what happens', gives one enticing hint, then tells you to read it and pass it on without telling anyone else what happens either'), and normally I would probably find that annoying too -- let's face it, I'm irascible -- but in this case it really worked for me. The book is electrifying, the story rolls on inexorably like a massive boulder picking up speed and you're exhausted when you finish reading it.

There. We will return to our regularly scheduled drivel -- navel-gazing, narcissistic moaning, irritatingly cute things my kids say -- soon.

5 comments:

LambAround said...

My idea of free books is the library! How did you get involved in this? :)

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

Free Books! That is a wonderful thought. Unfortunately I have no sense of purpose for my blog. I do have to go find that last book because the description totally sucked me in and now I have to read it. The Jade Peony sounds good too.

Nicole said...

I haven't read any of those. I just finished Lullabies for Little Criminals which was VERY depressing. Boo.

Mary Lynn said...

I think I wanted to like Jade Peony more than I actually did. I liked parts of it, but found it very uneven.

I read Nikolski recently and absolutely loved it. Such a fun, quirky book and a wonderful translation.

Trish said...

Glad the books arrived safely! Enjoy!