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February 19th, 2007

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New This Week

 

 Some Like It Haute, by Julie K. Dam a novel about Fashion Week in Paris is out in paperback. Here’s an excerpt.

 

 Notoriously finicky NY Times critic Michiko Kakutani  gave a rave review to  Still Life with Husband, by Lauren Fox. (I’ve mentioned this novel before and featured an excerpt.)

 

Janice Kaplan (one of two authors of Botox Diaries) strikes out on her own with a mystery called  Looks to Die For. Reviewers are raving. Here’s an excerpt.

 

A daughter takes care of her dying mom and reconnects with her distant dad in Ask Again Later, by Jill A. Davis. (I couldn’t find an excerpt.)

February 18th, 2007

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Although I’ve never knitted I find myself reading two knitting novels in the last couple of weeks (no doubt the term “knit lit” has been coined by now and if not, it damn well ought to be). Juts finished the The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood, a touching novel, lovingly crafted. Hood lost her five year old daughter to a severe case of strep throat and she reconciles her grief by fictionalizing her experiences. The novelis all the more moving since Hood lived through the unfathomable experience  of losing a child.

 

Hood has much more finely-honed writing more chops than Kate Jacobs of  The Friday Night Knitting Club, but she’s also six novels ahead of Kate so that’s to be expected.

 

I’ve always been inspired by Norah Ephron’s sharp wit. I probably read  Heartburn three of four times. Just finished her essay collection  I Feel Bad about My Neck, which proved to be a funny, fast read.

P.S. Excuse the weirdness of the font. Live Journal is acting quirky the last few days and I have to do a backdoor approach just to post. Anyone else having this problem?

February 15th, 2007

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I know I already mentioned The Worthy by Will Clarke but it’s so damn worthy that I have to talk about it again because I finished it and there was not a single wrong note in this faboo novel.

 

I’ve decided that if I really love, love a book I’m going to post an Amazon review which I promptly did and which you can savor at Amazon. (I’m lazy so do not be expecting some kind of thoughtful, insightful review. I’m not looking for a grade here.)

 

Anyhoo, whenever I really like a book I always have to check out all the reviews and press to make sure everyone agrees with me and to boo and hiss those who don’t.

 

I ran across a positive review of the very worthy Worthy, which included the following puzzling statement, “ Mr. Clarke isn’t going win a Pulitzer with The Worthy.”

 

The Worthy, by the way, is about a frat kid who haunts his fraternity house. It’s full of funny hijinks. I think it’s highly unlikely that Will Clarke wrote this novel and thought to himself, “Jeepers. I wonder if I stand a chance for the Pulitze?.”

 

Why don’t book reviewers get this? I read this type of dufus statement all the time in book reviews. Books that win prizes and books that are meant to entertain are too different animals.

 

Movie reviewers don’t have this problem.  You don’t read reviews that say, “The Wedding Crashers is no English Patient.”

 

Restaurant reviewers don’t say, “Barney’s BBQ is not the Four Seasons.”

 

Apples and oranges, people. Oranges and apples.

 

And don’t get me started about why our culture tends to value drama over comedy.

 

Okay. Hopped off soapbox and have moved onto…

 

THE GIRLFRIEND CYBER TOUR

 

Featuring two girlfriends to be precise who have written one debut novel called  China Dolls. It’s described as The Joy Luck Club meets Sex in the City and has garnered quotes from Emily Giffin and the Nanny Diary authors. Check out the authors’ site as well as a taste of their yummy confection.

 

Here’s my interview with authors Blossom Kan and Michelle Yu, who, incidentally are cousins:

 

Q. What was the collaboration process like? Why did you decide on
collaborating?

A. The collaboration process was a lot of writing and re-writing. Michelle and
I would write sections, send them to each other, and rewrite each other.
Collaborating was a natural thing for us because we are cousins and we grew
up together. Being only children, we spent a lot of time growing up together
and it seemed really natural to collaborate together.

Q. What  is the back story on CHINA DOLLS?

A. Michelle and I love chicklit/women's fiction, but we felt that there weren't
any books out there that spoke to the experiences of young Asian women. 
Aside from the dating/professional issues that all women face, Asian women
have to deal with stereotypes that add a whole new layer to these things. 
So we felt there was a story to be told here, and we decided that maybe we
could be the ones telling it.

Q. What's been the most exciting part of the publishing process? What's
been the most unexpected thing that's happened?

A. Seeing our book in the bookstore was huge. At that moment, it really seemed
real to us. The most unexpected thing was what happened at our first book
reading this week. We had friends and family there, of course, but there were
people there who we didn't know us who had heard about our book. They were
actual, genuine fans - and that was really cool.

Q.  How are you celebrating the release of your novel?

A. Well, we're having a launch party tomorrow night, but that's pretty much the
extent of our celebrating. It's terrible, but we've been so busy and so
stressed that we really haven't been able to relax and celebrate. In a few
weeks though, it will definitely happen!

Q.  What's next for you?

A. After we get back from our tour, we're going to have to sit down, roll up
our sleeves and start writing our next book. We are under contract for our
next two books, so we have some real deadlines coming up.

February 13th, 2007

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This Week’s Reading List

 

Read the hot, new knitting novel and good news, you don’t have to be a knitter to enjoy it. (although brace yourself for some poetic waxing about yarn. I skimmed those parts.) Told from lots of point of views, this novel suffers from a sagging middle but still has its enjoyable moments. People have been calling it the Steel Magnolia knitting novel ( not because it’s the least bit Southern, mind  ya—it takes place in Manhattan- but cuz someone kicks the bucket. You gotta read the novel to find out which poor gal takes a dirt nap.)

 

ATTENTION BOOK CLUBBERS- Have I got a novel for you! Immediately breeze on down to the your bookstore and snag a copy of The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne. It’s the kind of book that, upon completion, makes you say, “What the hell?” or if you’re in the South, “What was that mess ?”

 

I’m not saying it’s a crummy book. I truly liked it. It raises all kinds of unanswered questions, making it utter catnip if you’re a member of a serious book club. On the other hand if you’re one of them “eat, drink and get pie-eyed book clubs” you may want to read  Heiress For Hire by Erin McCarthy, which is very funny as well as sexy.

 

If you’re looking for a really clever read, check out  The Worthy: A Ghost's Story by Will Clarke. It’s funny and very expertly plotted, I can’t put it down even though it has a gross goat’s head on the cover. It’s described as Ghost meets Animal House. Move over Christopher Moore!

 

February 11th, 2007

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New This Week

 

Jane Smiley, who mainly writes books with a farm feel (Moo, Thousand Acres and Horse Heaven) has her head in Hollywood with her latest Ten Days in the Hills. The novel was heavily reviewed this weekend and most of the advance notice is positive. Here’s an excerpt. (I’ve never heard of a certain male appendage being described as ‘nonchalant” but I can dig it.).

 

Stephen King’s kid Joe Hill debuts with Heart-Shaped Box about a heavy metal rocker who buys a haunted suit. Reviews are good (except for a particularly snooty review in the Times today) but an earlier review by Janet Maslin was far more positive. (TWO reviews in the Times. How about them apples?) Here’s an excerpt (you’ll have to click a couple of times) as well as some exceptionally moody music. Dad must be proud.

 

Susan Issacs is one of the authors who sparked my desire to write. Her latest Past Perfect is about an ex CIA agent who gets called back into duty.  Excerpt

 

In the non-fiction realm, I could have written this essay collection about Mr. Wrong. I read one sample essay in Vogue about a woman who corresponds with a prisoner and boy, this guy made most Mr. Wrongs seem like amateurs.  

February 7th, 2007

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LOVE this cover. Sadly I can’t read the book because of this statement by Kirkus: “The slow pace is sometimes maddening.”

 

LOVE this cover and the title. KEY-YOU-OOT!

 

This title and this title are too durn close.

 

Cute cover even cuter concept.

 

Of possible interest:

 

You gotta be intrigued by a novel that’s described as “perfectly disturbing.” The Remainder has an utterly original plot and this excerpt intrigues. My only thought: Can I spend several hours with a crazy dude?

 

With eighteen foreign sales and optioned movie rights, interest is sure to be keen in the Spellman Files. Here’s an excerpt.

 

For Southern Fiction Lovers

 

Lynn York has a follow-up to The Piano Teacher with The Sweet Life.

 

Pam Duncan offers up  The Big Beautiful. (great cover!) Here’s an excerpt.

February 6th, 2007

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Do we want to read  Because She Can, by Bridie Clark despite sucky reviews and a lame cover? Yes, we do! This excerpt has too much telling and not enuff showing but I like this section, especially the line about the sweat pants.

“Anyway, I just wasn’t in the mood. Not tonight. My mind was stuck on my work situation, plus I still had a solid week of moping over James left in me. (Who doesn’t secretly relish a breakup—or at least the guiltless freedom it provides to smoke way too many cigarettes, eat buckets of ice cream, not move from the couch, and indulge in every other possible cliché? I wasn’t about to cut this short.)

I explained to Bea that my sweatpants had developed a terrible case of separation anxiety, but she persisted. Then she begged.

Still I wasn’t budging. And so she moved on: “I wonder if James is sulking on his couch right now.”

I can SOOOO relate, girlfriend.

Best-selling Row

This is pretty cool and this is even cooler because the list people didn’t forget there are two authors not just one.

February 5th, 2007

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Link Love

 

This article about James Patterson has been all over the internet like a bad cold but I thought it was interesting enough to provide a link. It talks about how he hooked up with his latest co-author.

 

And speaking of co-authors, someone told me she met a co-author of Nora Robert’s. This is only rumor but if the gossip is to believed the best-selling romance author isn’t quite as prolific as she appears. The co-author said she is sworn to secrecy not to tell anyone in the pub biz that she is the co-author of at least one of Mizz Robert’s novels. Here’s Nora’s rigorous pub schedule for this year.  One can’t help but wonder about this gal as well. She too is serving up novels like they were flapjacks. 

 

Trashionista provides a list of the top ten chick lit novels.

 

Read of the Week

 

I’ve been kind of on a mediocre book streak. My latest read was incredibly witty but just never got around to having any action. Didn’t pass the 50 page test.

January 31st, 2007

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Browsing the Stacks

 

I’ve mentioned Alternada by Neal Pollock before (hipster becomes a daddy). It’s on my TBR list and I’m excited to read an excerpt.

 

I’ve also talked about  Liar's Diary, by Patry Francis and admired its faboo cover. It’s out on the stands now. If there’s an excerpt to be had I couldn’t find it.

 

Featured New Releases

 

Readers have mixed feelings about  Kris Radish's novels, and there’s usually no in between. They either passionately love her work or hate it. She has a new release called Sunday List of Dreams. Read the excerpt and you can decide how you feel. I think she some of the best covers and titles in the biz.

 

Under the cute-as-button category, imagine that you purchase a B&B in the Ozarks on ebay and instead of getting a bed &breakfast, you own a bait and BBQ. Obviously you’d have to be soft in the head to fall for such ploy, but it’s still a fun premise for  Pamela Morsi’s Bitsy's Bait and BBQ (love the cover!).  I couldn’t find an excerpt but Romantic Times gives it four stars.

 

The Daily Buzz’s resident Chick Lit reviewer Kristin Hamel has a new release called Blonde Theory which asks the burning question: Do ditzy blondes get all the guys? Check out the excerpt.

 

Gotta love a novel that includes this sentence: “Balloon Tying for Christ was the cheapest balloon manual I could find.” Clown Girl, by Monica Drake has an intro written by Chuck Palahniuk. Here’s an excerpt.

 

 

Other New Releases

 

 Good Things, by Mia King—Martha Stewart type personality hits rock bottom- reviews are mixed. The Perfectly True Tales of a Perfect Size 12, by Robin Gold  is another Martha Stewart-esque novel.

 

 Little Lady, Big Apple, by Hester Browne—I read the first installment of this NY Times  best-selling series on the plane to Paris and much enjoyed it. Not sure if I’ll read the second outing but the reviews are all glowing.

 

 Ask Again Later, by Jill A. Davis- Davis, who used to be a writer for The David Letterman Show is behind the eight-ball when her mom is ill with cancer and she becomes the primary caregiver. Sounds like a downer but reviews say it’s more funny than sad.

 Naked weddings, dog acupuncture and a haunted artist colony are just a few of the plot elements in  The Queen Gene by Jennifer Coburn (sequel to Tales From the Crib). Reviews are mixed. Here’s an excerpt. (Scroll down.)

 

Various Musings

 

Separated at birth? I guess good things come in small, blue packages.

 

What is with large print editions and their questionable covers? Witness  Devil in the Junior League and then the perfectly normal cover. Are they trying to scare far-sighted folks? Very likely.

 

Promotion Commotion

 

Author MBA is a helpful site for would be hype-hags and Hagars.

January 28th, 2007

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This Week’s Read

 

When you read a book jacket and see a lot of screaming praise like “Amazon’s Book of Decade!”  or NY Times Editor’s Choice,  certain expectations are created.

 

And in this case they were woefully unfulfilled (although you should read the link page because the publication story is fascinating as well as very revealing. This is definitely an instance of extreme luck for the author.)

 

Anyhoo, here is a novel with a plodding start (50 pages could have been cut, easy) and unexceptional prose. But the author did create a couple of heart-stopping sections.

The main complaint of most reviewers(which I heartily agree with) was the ho-hum nature of the main character. She didn’t warrant the obsessive attention from the love interest. (A hot, hot vampire)  All in all, only a mildly entertaining read.

 

New in Paperback

 

Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle has a lovely excerpt.

 

Book Browsing

 

B&N’s latest “recommend” pick is  The Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian. I muddled through other books by this author without going ga-ga, but I have to admit the excerpt has me drooling for more.  

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