I just read Jeffrey Eugenides' latest, The Marriage Plot. I didn't particularly like his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Middlesex. I didn't get what the fuss was all about (although we all know about my resistance to intellectual literature). But I liked The Marriage Plot a lot. If it wasn't the 4th Tuesday Book Club selection at Books, Inc. (for November), I'm sure I would have avoided it. I'm actually glad it was - and I didn't.
The book focuses on 3 main characters and begins on their collective college graduation day at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in 1983. Leonard Bankhead and Mitchell Grammaticus both revolve around Madeleine Hanna. All 3 characters are deeply interesting, and each gets sections in the book that are strictly from his or her perspective. And, of course, much of the book links at least 2, and sometimes all 3, together.
This book reminds me of Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. Both authors really know how to write. They both mix dialogue with long sections of description. And both border on the literary. It's not usually my thing, but, in each case, I have enjoyed the book. I hope this doesn't mean my standards are shifting. Will I have to start wearing tweed jackets with elbow patches? Oh, wait, I've also recently read Fifty Shades of Gray and The Hunger Games. I'm okay.
The other book I read is #3 of the 7 new authors I met at Barnes & Noble back in early October. This one is Nightshifted, by Cassie Alexander. This one I liked but did not love. If you remember, the first one, Joan Swan's Fever, I loved. The 2nd one, Deep Autumn Heat, by Elisabeth Barrett, I liked a lot. This one I simply liked.
This has similarities to Hannah Jayne's Underworld Detective Agency. That series takes place many floors below a police station. This one takes place many floors below a county hospital. And, like Hannah's protagonist, Sophie Lawson, the heroine in this book, Edie Spence, is human and oftentimes deals with non-humans - werewolves, zombies, and such. The 3 main differences are, 1st, Hannah uses much more humor than Cassie does. That may not matter to many, but it's a big plus for me. 2nd, Sophie is a much more sympathetic character than Edie. I just liked Sophie better and, therefore, cared more about what happened to her. And, 3rd, Hannah's books are lighter. Even though there's a lot of action, it's still kept light in large part because of the humor and Sophie's great sidekick, Nina. Nightshifted is just too dark for me.
Even though there are flaws, I am recommending Nightshifted. It's well-written and held my interest. I expect that there are a lot of people who will like it more than I did. I also want everybody to know that Cassie is having a launch party for her 2nd book, Moonshifted, at Inklings in Capitola on Tuesday, November 27. Since I have my 4th Tuesday Book Club meeting that night, I won't be able to make it. But I would certainly encourage you to go. Book launches are really fun (remember that I went to Victoria Sweet's book launch for God's Hotel). It's from 4-8, and then you can eat at Cafe Cruz in Soquel or Laili's in Santa Cruz.
Now back to my author interviews.
HUMANITARIAN NOTE: Although I didn't love Nightshifted, I certainly love Cassie's commitment to humanity. Cassie is a registered nurse and has taken a leave of absence from her job to go to New York and help. She's now been there over a week. From her regular blogs, she's working a ton and getting very little R&R or even sleep. Well done, Cassie!