Saturday, July 25, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods... grandmother's house I went last weekend. All the way to Syracuse, NY where raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry picking abound; the land of home-cooked meals and baked-from-scratch pies; a place filled with familial gossip, expectations, and unconditional acceptance. I don't get there nearly often enough, and it was such a treat! I returned an expanded version of myself - waistline from good cookin', heart from good lovin', and mind from lots and lots of good readin'.

As you can probably tell from my coworkers' posts, at the Odyssey, we're the type of folks who carry 10 books with us for a three-day vacay. Luckily, my grandmother is supportive and sympathetic, and barely let me lift a finger. Instead, she ordered me outside to the swing with a pillow, blanket, gin & tonic, and stack of books. While the gentle breeze cooled the 75 degree sunshine, baby deer nibbled tender shoots in my uncle's arboretum, "Blackie" the black woodchuck scampered from hole to hole, and squirrels frolicked about me, I rocked and voraciously read to my heart's content.

"Impossible," you're thinking, "preposterous! No vacation could really be that good, the animals that friendly, the family so understand, the weather so divine." It's true, my friends, that idyllic picture I've painted for you does and did indeed exist, and I am the lucky being who was humbly allowed to partake of it. "Well, fine," grumble grumble, "what's the point, just to make us all wildly jealous?" No, my dear reader, that's just an evil side benny - the real point is to impart the new books and some old favorites I had the pleasure to experience last weekend. Buck up, read on, come visit, buy the book.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (a Teen read)
Hardcover, 9780316042673, $17.99 - Published January 2010, pre-order from the Odyssey today!
Lena Duchannes is forever the new girl in town, jumping from place to place to conceal her power and the curse on her family. Ethan Wate is forever a townie, determined to leave yet fated to always be a part of Gatlin, South Carolina. Lena longs for normalcy, friends, a chance to go to the prom, and an answer as to how to control her powers. Ethan longs for something different than the bleached, tanned, vapid cheerleaders and dead-end feeling he has for this town. Seeing each other in dreams weeks before actually meeting, when they finally are face to face, it's the showdown of the century as history repeats itself, where once again a Wate and a Duchannes fall in love and are determined to beat the odds keeping them apart.
Lots of supernatural stuff meets high school stuff in this book - stuff being the catch-all term for magic, witches, telepathy, vampires, dogs who see all, secret libraries, full-moon ceremonies, voodoo, cheerleaders with attitude, nosy neighbors, best friends with crappy cars, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Pretty funny, witty internal monologues and external dialogues keep this chunky book from getting too long, and the tension built up during the countdown to Lena's birthday is sure to keep you reading to the exciting conclusion on the final page.

Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carriger
Paperback, 9780316056632, $7.99 - Published October 2009, pre-order from the Odyssey today!
The subtitle says it all, really: A Novel of Vampires, Werewolves, and Parasols. I thought, No, not really, this can't possibly be as witty and engaging as I want it to be. But then I began reading, and to my great surprise and eternal delight, it was!
Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster and a lady, drinking tea and chaperoning balls in London during the time of Queen Victoria's reign. She also happens to be a preternatural, or soulless being, one of the very few lucky individuals who can take away the power of a supernatural being (such as a vampire or werewolf) simply by her touch. When she accidentally kills a vampire (well, he was trying to drink her blood at the time), she is forced to contend with Lord Maccon, the werewolf leader of both the local pack and the local national office of supernatural investigations. Alexia and Lord Maccon find each other argumentative, frustrating, irritating, and secretly appealing as they are forced to work together to uncover who has been making rove werewolves and vampires disappear. Fans of Jane Austen-ish writing and fantasy forces will love this wicked, and wickedly funny, romp through London, supernatural-style.

In Death series by J.D. Robb
Last but not least, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time rereadering the "In Death" series by J.D. Robb (a pen name for Nora Roberts). This is a fantastic murder mystery series I can't seem to get enough of. I want to be Eve Dallas, and/or her husband Roarke, or both, or be married to either one of them, I'm not choosy, or just maybe read them obsessively, that's a little sadder but may have to do.
Eve is a kick-ass homicide detective around the year 2050 in New York City. She stands for the dead and does what she has to do - bribe, steal, or kick some ass - to get the answers to put the murderers away. This series never disappoints, with each murder bringing a new twist, a deeper understanding of Eve's psyche, and a satisfying conclusion as well as some good hand-to-hand combat and heart-pumping sex.
I'm sending my own versions of the series (which has 30+ titles, I'm probably up to about #15) to my sister shortly, which is why I'm rereading them, but my goodness, they're a delicious treat to curl up with on one of our frequently stormy nights. I highly recommend you do the same.

"Wait," you might be saying, "that's not 10 books, that's maybe 4 or 5 depending on how many J.D. Robb you read on vacation. And aren't you going a little heavy on the supernatural/murder mysteries this time around?" This is true, you've caught me out, but a) I've tried to be kind and only post about those that I've finished, and b) I do read a lot of non-fantasy, non-murder books too. I'm currently in the middle of 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (a collection of letters between an author and a bookshop, which I'm LOVING and can't wait to tell you all about), and Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle (a book of short stories that is a possible First Edition Club selection), and still reading my Nick Hornby essays, etc. etc. etc. So stay tuned for more updates soon! - Rebecca

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