Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, April 17, 2006

Am I the Mistress of my Literary Domain?

I have quite a few books that I'm currently reading(some of which will be reviewed for this blog)and plenty of books piled up like cars plowed into on the highway. As much as I try to go thru them all and weed out the excess,the piles keep getting larger. Not complaining but do wonder if this has the makings of a nifty little horror story that I can sell the direct-to-video rights to.

I tend to group my reads in certain catagories(yet another sign of my madness),such as Classics,ReReads,NonFic and Relaxers. I'm not rereading anything at the moment so let's start with this:

Serious Stuff: basically,literary fiction. I'm midway thru Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen(Algonquin,May)and it's such a joy to read. The story is told as the rememberance of a nursing home patient,Jacob,who during the Depression era quit his medical college and joined the Benzini Bros. circus as their vet. Jacob also falls in love with Marlena, the top trick rider of the show who is married to August,the tempermental animal trainer. Gruen captures the atmosphere and tone of circus life so brilliantly that you can almost smell the cotton candy and hear the roar of the animals being prepared for showtime as you turn the pages. Another bonus is the inclusion of archived photos from circuses of the 1930's that accompany the opening of each chapter.

Relaxers: Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong and Saffron Skies by Lesley Lokko.

After reading Armstrong's contribution to the Dates From Hell anthology,I decided to try some of her books. I recieved both Industrial Magic and Haunted from Booksfree(a book and audio CD lending service that works like Netflix) to start with. I really should've started with Dime Store Magic but it wasn't available just yet.

Industrial Magic is Book Two featuring Paige Winterbourne, a witch dating the half demon Michael Corleone-ish son of a major head of a Cabal,Lucas Cortez. Paige gets to met with her boyfriend's family when a string of teenage runaway murders affects all of the Cabals and brings up more than one skeleton in the closet. Armstrong has a good readable style and has a strong plotline that is not as oversexed as many other current writers in this field. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Saffron Skies,I bought from QPB as one of their"International Book of the Month" selections. It has the tone of an old school glam read with some savvy smarts thrown in for flavor. The story follows Amber Sall,daughter of major powerhouse Max Sall and her half sister Paola who wind up competing for the affections of Tende' Nidiaye,an up and coming politician from Mali. Lokko creates some great supporting characters and glitzy surroundings that enhance rather than overwhelm the reader. She'll soon be available in the U.S.,thanks to a publishing deal and it'll be great to have easier access to her other novel,Sundowners.

Classic: I got the Count of Monte Cristo right after watching V for Vendetta and am amazed at how quickly the prose moves the story along. It's a pretty long book(over 12 hundred pages,not counting the notes and introduction)so I don't intend to speed read my way thru it but the words flow so beautifully that it's hard to slow down.

My tastes in classics run more towards England but I've had some good experiences with the French,Madame Bovary and Cousin Bette being top on my list. Balzac sounds like one of those drunken uncles who you don't mind hanging out with at family functions since they're more than willing to spill the beans on any sibling secrets and tell you what they really think of Aunt So and So. I've tried Hugo twice but he comes across as very long winded-makes you want to yell"Get back to the damn story already!". Dumas,however, has that excellant storyteller's flair-he can expound on a minor point that doesn't feel like it's sidetracking away from the main plot. He also sets up the heroes and villains of the piece in a basic but not simplistic way. I've only read condensed children's versions of his books and am glad to truly enjoy Dumas as an adult.

NonFic: I try to always balance my fiction reading with atleast one nonfiction title and this book just called out to me from the shelves. The Believer Book Of Writers Talking to Writers has such interesting parings up like Zadie Smith with Ian McEwan,Jonathan Lethem with Paul Auster and Tayari Jones with Chris Abani. I'm not a big McSweeneys' gal(I have this aversion to wanting to be in with the in crowd,a knee jerk high school reaction) but there are alot of talented folk represented here and it would be silly of me to deprieve myself of some great literary conversations. I've already added a novel to my Booksfree list based on one of the interviews(The Divine Husband by Francisco Goldman)and will probaly check out a few more more.

For Review: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife/Darcy & Elizabeth:Days and Nights at Pemberley by Linda Berdoll

Linda Berdoll is rather notorious amongst Jane Austen fans and readers of JA sequels-Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife was originally self published under the title The Bar Sinister and considered to be NC-17 reading,by the standards of JA lovers anyway. Sourcebooks republished it with a new title and has recently released a follow up to it called Darcy & Elizabeth. I was just going to review D&E but it soon became clear that it was best to read MDTAW first,so it'll be a back-to-back write-up.

So far,it's not as bad as I feared-Berdoll openly admits that she was inspired by the Colin Firth BBC P&P miniseries and some of the sexy undertones of that are apparent here. I am fond of some JA sequels and if I can read about the various were being/vampire/fairy couplings that dominate the works of Laurell K. Hamilton without flinching,Berdoll's lusty prose should be a tasty piece of cake.

I also plan to give a full review of Water For Elephants,so watch this space! Think I have too much on my plate? Maybe but there could be worse things that I could do,like counting down the days to TomKat's baby. Perish the thought! Hope the rest of you have just as much good reading to sink your teeth into.


Anonymous said...

Just as a heads up, the first of the Kelley Armstrong series is actually "Bitten." The characters in the first two (the books seem to be paired) recur in "Dime Store Magic" and "Industrial Magic." as peripheral characters. Also, if you're a fan of these type of books you should check out the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher starting with "Storm Front". Interesting to note (given your hot guy list) is that James Marsters reads the audio books. Read on!

lady t said...

Thanks for the info on Kelley Armstrong-I just finished the two books I had and Bitten is next on my list. Really looking forward to it.

I'll have to check Booksfree to see if they carry any of those JM audio books-that man could read me the business section of the Times and still make me thrilled:)-also,for the Dresden series as well. Readers rock!