Friday, December 30, 2016

Titles by Genre

A couple of posts ago, I listed Biographies, Memoirs, and Historical Fiction for 2016.  I've got the rest of the genres for you now; they are listed randomly.  And heeeeeeeeere they are!

Scifi (1)-
Sylvain Neuvel - Sleeping Giants

Historical Fiction (1)(missed this on my last list)-
Ashley Warlick - The Arrangement

Fiction and Literature (24)-
Juliet Blackwell - Letters from Paris
Jodi Picoult - Great Small Things
Wally Lamb - I'll Take You There
Christine Z. Mason - Weighing the Truth
Isabel Allende - The Japanese Lover
Ivan Doig - Last Bus to Wisdom
Emily St. John Mandel - Station Eleven
Emmi Itaranta - Memory of Water
Paulette Boudreaux - Mulberry
John Hart - Redemption Road
Joyce Maynard - Under the Influence
Caroline Kepnes - You
Fredrik Backman - A Man Called Ove
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney - The Nest
Anne Enright - The Green Road
Philip Michaels - Love Me Times Two
Elena Ferrante - My Brilliant Friend
Yaa Gyasi - Homegoing
Allen Eskens - The Life We Bury
Constance Leisure - Amour Provence
Ann Patchett - Commonwealth
Rae Meadows - I Will Send Rain
Karma Brown - The Choices We Make
Sarah Jio - Blackberry Winter

Mis(ery) Lit (2)(yes, this is its own genre)-
Rachael Herron - The Ones Who Matter Most
Rachael Herron - Splinters of Light

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense (14)-
Daniel Silva - The Black Widow
Philip Margolin - Violent Crimes
Barry Eisler - The God's Eye View
Walter Mosely - Devil in a Blue Dress
Harlan Coben - Fool Me Once
Cara Black - Murder on the Rue de Champs
Jeffrey Archer - Cometh the Hour
T.J. Reilly - Ladies Invited
Walter Mosely - Charcoal Joe
Harlan Coben - Home
M.P. Cooley - Ice Shear
Barry Eisler - Livia Lone
Melodie Johnson Howe - Hold A Scorpion
Jeffrey Archer - This Was A Man

Children's (1)-
Nick Bruel - Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray

Middle Grade (2)-
C. Lee McKenzie -Sign of the Green Dragon
Patrick Ness - A Monster Calls

Short Stories (1)-
JoJo Moyes - Paris for One

Women's Fiction (2)(this is NOT my designation)-
Julia Park Tracey - Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop
Alessandra Harris - Blaming the Wind

Romance (5)-
Elisabeth Barrett - Christmas in Tahoe (novella)
Marina Adair - A Taste of Sugar
Jennifer Skully/Bella Andre - Fearless in Love
Aria Glazki - Mending Heartstrings
Kate Allure - Bed & Breakfast & Bondage (novella)

Urban Fantasy/Paranornal (3)-
Angela Wallace - Elemental Magic
Elizabeth Hunter - The Scribe
Killian McRae - 12.21.12: The Vessel

Current Fictional Events (1)(just made this genre up)-
Ann Bridges - Rare Mettle

Young Adult (2)-
Hannah Jayne - Twisted
Megan Abbott - You Will Know Me

YA Fantasy (2)-
Alina Sayre - The Illuminator Rising
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play script)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

I know this is a bit morbid.  But Off the Shelf posted a list of 12 authors, with their most well-known books, who passed away in 2016.  We always hear about the movie and TV celebrities, and rightfully so.  But we rarely hear much about authors.

Here's the list:

Umberto Eco - The Name of the Rose (know it but don't think I read it)
Gloria Dunn - Geek Love
Pat Conroy - The Prince of Tides (My Losing Season, Beach Music, and South of Broad are in my top 24 all-time - The Prince of Tides was not one of my favorites - but still good)
Gloria Naylor - The Women of Brewster Place
Anna Dewdney - llama llama red pajama (a children's picture book)
James Alan McPherson - Elbow Room
Jim Harrison - Legends of the Fall (this was a movie, but I don't think I saw it)
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting (have heard of it but never read it)
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird (I finally read it just in the last couple of years)
Elie Weisel - Night (I read this one, and Weisel also won the Pulitzer Peace Prize)
William Trevor - The Story of Lucy Gault
Lois Duncan - I Know What You Did Last Summer

This could be interesting for you budding authors out there.  An imprint of Simon & Schuster, called Archway Publishing, has put out a self-publishing guide.  Click on the link to get more info.
free publishing guide 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

This is a list of 17 biography/memoir/historical fiction out of 77 books for 2016.  That might be my highest percentage yet.  And 7 of the authors are local (L).  Here they are:

Kate Larson - Rosemary:  The Hidden Kennedy Daughter - Books, Inc. 4th Tuesday Book Club
Jean Sasson - Princess:  A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia (growing up as a female royal in 1960s Saudi house
Adam Henig (L) - Under One Roof - the desegregation of major league baseball Spring Training in the early 60s
Marty Brounstein (L) - Two Among the Righteous Few - non-Jews hiding Jews in WWII
David McCullough - The Wright Brothers - great biography

Ruchi Rai (L) - A Conscious Peace - thoughts following a serious accident
Kate Walter - Looking for a Kiss - the ups and downs of finding love in NYC
Lucy Feltham (L) - Alphabet Britain - this one's not available for sale yet
Toni Pacini - Alabama Blue - a very rough childhood (emphasize "rough")
Nate Jackson - Fantasy Man - 2nd memoir by the ex-NFLer/ex-San Jose resident
Hassan El-Tayyab (L) - Composing Temple Sunrise - finding meaning at Burning Man
Kelly Corrigan (L) - Glitter and Glue - Kelly and her mom
Paul Kalanithi - When Breath becomes Air - published posthumously
Margaret Zhao (L)/Kathleen Martens - Really Enough - the fall of the privileged in Communist China

Historical Fiction:
Ruta Sepetys - Salt to the Sea - YA
Ruta Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray - YA

Don't Know What to Call This:
Tony Schwartz/Donald Trump - The Art of the Deal - written by Tony in Donald's voice in 1987

I have recently discovered what Follett's next book is about - It's a sequel to Pillars of the Earth and World without End!  How great is that? It's called A Column of Fire, and it comes out next September.  It takes place in 16th century England.  Because of attempts on Queen Elizabeth I's life, this chronicles the beginning of the secret service.  CAN'T WAIT!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Recap of the RBC for 2016

Last week we had our 12th, and last, RBC meeting for the year.  Once again, we had a variety of genres, which our members continue to want. We even had a special event that took us to a different venue - the 1st and only time, to date, that we have done that.  Here is the list, in order, and the genre their books represented:

January - The Angels' Share, Rayme Waters (literary fiction)
February - The Right Wrong Thing, Ellen Kirschman (police fiction)
March - Murder on the Champ du Mars, Cara Black (mystery/suspense/thriller)
April - The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh (literary fiction, top 12 all-time)
May - A Taste of Sugar, Marina Adair (romance)
June - Mulberry, Paulette Boudreaux (literary fiction)
July - The Goodbye Year, Toni Piccinini (memoir)
August - The Ones Who Matter Most, Rachael Herron (literary fiction, mis lit)
September - Ice Shear, M.P. Cooley (mystery/suspense/thriller)
October - Under One Roof, Adam Henig (history, biography)
November - Alabama Blue, Toni Pacini (memoir)
December - Mending Heartstrings, Alia Glazki (romance)

As I'm looking over the list, we actually don't have as many different genres as I thought we had.  Besides memoir(2), literary fiction(4), and mystery(3), we had 2 romances and 1 history/biography.  I guess 5 genres is not bad.

Our biggest night was in April.  Normally, we get anywhere from 12-20 members for an RBC event.  And 20-22 is about all we can squeeze in at Recycle Books.  With Vanessa Diffenbaugh coming in April for her highly acclaimed book, The Language of Flowers, we thought we might need a bigger venue.  So we went down the street to Orchard Valley Coffee to see if they accommodate us.  Fortunately they said yes.  And we ended up with 45 people there!  Yep.  It was a fantastic crowd.  And Vanessa wowed 'em.  A very cool evening.

But the other 11 months were also way fun.  We got a lot of new RBC members this year and, along with our regulars, we had good crowds for our authors to meet.  I also want to give a shout-out to our October author.  Adam Henig pinch-hit for Katie Hafner (Mother Daughter Me) who was originally scheduled to appear.  She had a family situation that took her out of the mix for the time being.  Hopefully, we'll get her back in 2017.

And speaking of 2017, what does it look like?  Well, we've already got 6 booked!  Here they are with dates and genres:

January - The Oracle of Stamboul, Michael David Lukas (literary fiction)
February - The Scribe, Elizabeth Hunter (urban fantasy/paranormal)
March - A Killing at Cotton Hill, Terry Shames (mystery/suspense/thriller)
April - If You Are There, Susan Sherman (historical fiction)
June - The Illuminator's Gift, Alina Sayre (YA fantasy)
August - Pure and Sinful, Killian McRae (urban fantasy/paranormal)

Pretty good lineup so far, yes?  See you all next year.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

TWISTED - Another Very Good YA from Hannah Jayne

Before I start the actual review, I have one little comment to address to the author:  Hannah, IT'S NOT NICE TO MAKE A GROWN MAN CRY! Okay, now that I've got that off my chest, I can tell you what TWISTED is about:

Bex has always been her daddy's little girl.  After her mother left, it was just the two of them.  Sure he spoiled her with clothes and jewelry, but what father doesn't dote on his daughter?
Except Bex's dad is alleged to be a notorious serial killer. Dubbed "the Wife Collector" by the press, her father disappeared before he could stand trial.  And Bex was left to deal with the taunts and rumors.  Foster care is her one chance at starting over, starting fresh.
But Bex's old life isn't ready to let her go.  When bodies start turning up in her new hometown, the police want to use her as bait to bring her father in for questioning.  Is this Bex's one chance to reunite with her father and prove his innocence - or is she setting herself up to be a serial killer's next victim?

Although I'm clearly not the target audience for a book about teenagers(!), I want to point out that the price sticker on the back of the book says "Ages 14 and up."  Fortunately for me, I'm in the "up" category.  And you know I don't care about age anyway.  If the book is good, it's good.  And TWISTED is good.

This is a very suspenseful book that I couldn't figure out until the end; and then only when the author decided to tell me!  I really like how Hannah kept us on the hook.  Even such mundane things as opening a package (P. 60) made me nervous.  And we get a shocker very early on (P. 49) that elicited a sharp intake of breath and an uttered "Whoa."  I mean, c'mon, isn't that what a mystery/suspense/thriller should do? And that's regardless of the age of the protagonist.

Besides all of that, I like her writing (I have read other Hannah Jayne books, including Truly, Madly, Deadly and several from the Underworld Detection Agency series).  Here are a few examples of what makes Hannah such a good author:

"The man on the left had a huge mustache that seemed to ooze from his nose."
"...and ears that stuck out of his head like satellites."
"Bex tried to shake out the image, the memories, the voices, but they crawled and picked at her like fire ants on her skin."

See what I mean?  And if you want a good old-fashioned suspense, give TWISTED a try.  I'm pretty sure you will be happy you did.

P.S.  You will notice that on the cover, the "S" of TWISTED is backwards. Unfortunately, I don't know how to reproduce that on my computer keyboard!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Elisabeth Barrett Finally Has a Book in Print - And It's a Real Doozy

I have long been an Elisabeth Barrett fan.  Unfortunately (for me), her publisher only puts her works out in ebook form.  And, as all/some/none of you know, I need print.  I don't do e.  So you can imagine how excited I was to visit Barnes & Noble this past weekend and not only see Elisabeth for the 1st time in a couple of years, but also to see a print book in front of her on the table!  What is this book you ask?  It's called West Coast Holiday Series.  It consists of 3 novellas:  Christmas in Tahoe, New Year's in Napa, and Rendezvous in Point Reyes.  Have I read the 3 stories?  Nope.  But I have read the 1st one.  And I liked it so much that I'm reviewing it all by its lonesome.  Will I do the same for #2 and #3? Don't know.  Haven't read them yet.  1 step (novella) at a time.

Do you really need a blurb for a romance?  Sure:

At first glance, Chase Deckert and Ann Smith seem to have nothing in common.  He's a snowboarding instructor living a low-key life in Tahoe, and she's an actuary who spends most of her free time working in Silicon Valley.  But as the holiday weekend unfolds, they learn more about each other - and themselves - than they ever imagined.  All it takes is one long, steamy Christmas to help them realize they're meant to be together.

Okay, we all know that in romances the guy and girl end up together (does that happen here?  Read it and find out for yourself).  However, what leads up to the happily-ever-after varies greatly from one author to the next.  And Elisabeth has done herself proud with Christmas in Tahoe. Not only did I have many tears and chills; and not only did I have one time when I couldn't read because my eyes were too blurry from the moisture; and not only did I cry from a simple job offer that one of the protagonists received (at least I had enough dignity(!) and self-esteem to be SHOCKED that I cried over that one); I also had a few revelations:

1.  A romance, IMHO, has to have chapters told from the perspective of both protagonists.  I think this is critical and better enables both genders to enjoy the genre.  That is the case with CiT.
2.  If there is going to be fairly graphic sex, then that has to come AFTER the reader has made an emotional connection with the characters. Otherwise it's just sex (not altogether a bad thing, mind you).  And I'm here to say that the emotional connection here was made 1st.
3.  The story moves so much faster in a novella than in a novel.  Right now, you must be saying "Duh!" or something akin to that.  In my defense, though, I read very few short stories and novellas.  So this actually did slap me upside the head.  Once I figured it out, I have to say I kind of liked the speed and movement of the story.

Say what you will, but these are pretty significant discoveries for me.

Okay, finally, I've got just a couple of random, useless observations that resonated with me but may (and probably will) mean nothing to you:

1.  We natives call the old Nimitz Freeway 880, not THE 880 (like they do in SoCal).  That shows that Elisabeth is either a Bay Area native or has been here long enough to know the difference.
2.  Chase and Ann stop at Ikeda in Auburn on the way back from Tahoe. They eat pie.  So what, you ask/say?  Well, if you haven't had pie at Ikeda then you don't get to ask that question.  Their pies are delicious.
3.  Elisabeth talks a lot about the work culture in Silicon Valley, since the 2 protagonists either have worked there or are currently working there.  I have been working in Silicon Valley for 40 years.  I think she's got it down.
4.  I didn't see any errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.  That's amazing.  And I loved it!

If you don't know Silicon Valley or Tahoe, it doesn't matter.  This is a very good story.  It happens to be a romance.  But more important than that, it's just flat-out good.  I am very confident that #2 and #3 will follow suit. But even if they don't, it was worth the price of the book to read Christmas in Tahoe.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Review and a Meet-Up with the RWA (Romance Writers of America) at B&N, Stevens Creek

The last time I read a Killian McRae book (and the only other one I have read, to date) was back in Spring of 2015.  Well, I just finished my 2nd McRae.  And let me say that my #2 is way different than Pure and Sinful. May 15, 2015, is when I reviewed P&S.

This one, on the other hand, is called 12.21.12, The Vessel.  And NOT coincidentally, this is the date that the Mayans said would be the end of the world.  Kind of a Y2K sort of thing.  It's a combo of a lot of different genres.  Here is the back cover blurb:

The only way to save the future is to decode the past.  The only way to decode the past is to save the future.
Archaeologist Sheppard Smyth has staked his career and the honorable memory of his wife and partner on proving his widely panned theory: Cleopatra VII, last sovereign pharaoh of Egypt, was not a victim of suicide as history suggests, but of a well-concealed murder.  When a statue of the doomed queen is unearthed in a pre-Columbian excavation site in Mexico, Shep rushes to investigate and, hopefully, find the proof that's evaded him for so long.  Working to unlock the mysteries he finds, Shep is about to learn much more than he ever bargained for.  Suddenly thrust into the heated rivalry between sexy and enigmatic antiquities thief Victoria Kent and the infamous Russian mafioso Dmitri Kronastia, Shep finds himself a common pawn played by forces working to seek out a quest older than the pyramids and cloaked in the Mayan doomsday prophecy of 12.21.12.

I can't tell you any more because it will give away the twists and turns of the story.  But suffice it to say that there are elements of paranormal, fantasy, scifi, and Roman mythology. And if that's not enough variety for you, how about a little romance thrown in.

I enjoy Killian's cultural references along with her humor and a certain amount of snark.  Cases in point:

1.  " archaeological version of 'one of these things is not like the other.'"  To me that sounds like it  came from Sesame Street!
2.  "Though he had near-native fluency in English, whenever Hector got overly excited or nervous, he began to babble like a third-grader trying to explain Tolstoy."  You can see that, right?
3.  "'Potatoes, potahtoes', he murmured."  For those of you who don't know (which, I'm sure, is most of you), this is in reference to a song written by George Gershwin in 1937 by the name of "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off."  Nowadays, it's used to indicate that there's no real difference between 2 choices.  Another very cool cultural reference from Killian.

Cool cover, yes?

Over Saturday and Sunday, I had a chance to stop in at Barnes & Noble on Stevens Creek and visit with 8 authors.  I enjoyed getting reacquainted with 5 of them - Kate Allure, Elisabeth Barrett, Marina Adair, Linda Gunther, and Hannah Jayne - and meeting 3 new ones - Allyson Charles, Gayle Parness, Victoria De La O.  I always enjoy these events, especially when I can see some of my favorite authors!

From left to right:  Kate Allure, Allyson Charles, Elisabeth Barrett, Marina Adair, Linda Gunther

And, again:  Hananah Jayne, Gayle Parness, Victoria De La O

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Japanese Lover - My 1st Isabel Allende

My good friend, Diane, highly recommended The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende.  I decided to read it for 2 reasons:  1)  Because Diane recommended it; and 2) Because Isabel lives in Northern California (Marin County), and I always shamelessly hope to convince a local author to come to an RBC meeting.  It's unlikely, but it did work with Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I'm just sayin'...  And in one sentence, I will tell you what the book is about:  The 70-year love affair of a man and woman who could not, for societal and cultural reasons, ever publicly be together.

So now that I've given you the reasons why I read it, what did I think about my 1st Allende?  The short answer is that I liked it.  I gave it a 3/4. I would have rated it a little higher except there were a couple of things that bothered me a bit.  Let me first list the stuff that I liked.

1.  It's extremely well-written.  It's literary, but still very readable.
2.  I like that much of the story takes place in a retirement community, and that one of the main protagonists is in her early 80s.  I will concede that this could have something to do with my advancing age!
3.  Piggybacking onto #2, there is an 8-page explanation (60-67) of what it's like to grow old.  I really appreciated how this particular character described it.  In fact, I would even say that this is a takeaway for me.
4.  I like how the author gives a detailed explanation of the Japanese internment camps during WWII.  Of course I've seen it before in literature (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet comes 1st to mind), but this is in greater detail.  As heinous as it actually was, and as much head-shaking as I did while reading it, I still appreciated learning more about this significant piece of American history.
5.  I definitely had my share of chills and tears, with a little laughter thrown in.  I did make the emotional connection to the characters.
6.  I always like books where there are personal letters from the past involved (e.g. Goodnight June and Letters from Paris).

What did I have an issue with?
1.  Those personal letters jump around in timeframe.  It was a little confusing for me (could it be me?  Nah.  Maybe?)
2.  There is a character that is referred to several times throughout the book.  But he gets a big part near the end, from 45 years earlier, that was distracting for me.
3.  I thought there were quite a few paragraphs that ran on too long. Don't get me wrong; they were well-written, and I wasn't bored.  But I have a hard time maintaining focus when I see a long paragraph.  I have to admit that this one is on me.

My objections to the book probably only accounted for maybe a 1/4 point in the rating.  Not a big deal.  It's still very worthwhile reading.   And for you literati, you will probably appreciate it a tad more than I did.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top Books of 2016

So why am I listing my top books of 2016 in early December?  Good question.  It turns out that the Los Gatos Library Evening Book Club is meeting this month on December 20 and will be talking about their favorite books of the year.  But I have to miss the meeting!  Rats.  So I figured I would go ahead and make my list.  Maybe Melissa will share this with the group...and maybe she won't.  Either way it's an end-of-year list I'm going to put together.

This year I've got 24 out of 75 books at 3.5/4 or higher.  That's almost a 1/3!  It's obviously been a very good year.  And heeeeeeeere they are:

Rachael Herron - Splinters of Light

Barry Eisler - The God's Eye View
Harlan Coben - Fool Me Once
Fredrik Backman - A Man Called Ove
Jeffrey Archer - Cometh The Hour (#6, The Clifton Chronicles)

John Hart - Redemption Road
Rachael Herron - The Ones Who Matter Most
Daniel Silva - The Black Widow
Karma Brown - The Choices We Make
Jeffrey Archer - This Was A Man (#7, The Clifton Chronicles)

Allen Eskins - The Life We Bury

Paulette Boudreaux - Mulberry
Ruta Sepetys - Salt to the Sea
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney - The Nest
Jennifer Skully/Bella Andre - Fearless in Love (#3, The Maverick Billionaires)
Yaa Gyasi - Homegoing
Harlan Coben - Home
David McCullough - The Wright Brothers (non-fiction)
Sarah Jio - Blackberry Winter
Juliet Blackwell - Letters from Paris
Jodi Picoult - Small Great Things
Barry Eisler - Livia Lone
JoJo Moyes - Paris for One (short stories)
Kelly Corrigan - Glitter and Glue (memoir)

P.S.  There are another 22 books that are either 3.0 or 3.25.  That's 46 out of 75 - over 60%!  As I said up top, it's been a very good year for reading.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

New Authors (for me) in 2016 - Yes, I know that it's only early December

To avoid having all of my end-of-year lists at the end of the year, I'm going to space them out over the course of December.  The 1st one is all of the authors that I have read this year for the 1st time.  I have tried to genre-ize them as best I can.

Ivan Doig - Last Bus to Wisdom (literary fiction)
Hilary Mandel - Station Eleven (lit. fiction)
Emmi Itaranta - Memory of Water (lit. fiction)
Julia Park Tracey - Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop (lit. fiction)
Kate Larson - Rosemary:  The Hidden Kennedy Daughter (biography)
Paulette Boudreaux - Mulberry (lit. fiction)
Ruchi Rai - A Conscious Peace (memoir)
Walter Mosley - Devil in a Blue Dress (mystery)
Kate Walter - Looking for a Kiss (memoir)
Ashley Warlick - The Arrangement (lit. fiction)
Joyce Maynard - Under the Influence (lit. fiction)
Caroline Kepnes - You (psychological thriller)
Ruta Sepetis - Salt to the Sea (historical YA)
T.J. Reilly - Ladies Invited (mystery)
Fredrik Backman - A Man Called Ove (lit. fiction)
Jean Sasson - Princess (biography/memoir)
Marty Brownstein - Two among the Righteous Few (history)
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney - The Nest (lit. fiction)
Toni Pacini - Alabama Blue (memoir)
Anne Enright - The Green Road (lit. fiction)
Philip Michaels - Love Me Two Times (lit. fiction)
Sylvain Neuvel - Sleeping Giants (scifi)
Elena Ferrante - My Brilliant Friend (lit. fiction)
AriaGlazki - Mending Heartstrings (romance)
Yaa Gyasi - Homegoing (historical fiction)
Alessandra Harris - Blaming the Wind (lit. fiction)
Allen Eskens - The Life We Bury (lit. fiction)
Constance Leisure - Amour Provence (lit./historical fiction)
Donald Trump/Tony Schwartz - The Art of the Deal (memoir/ghostwriter)
M.P. Cooley - Ice Shear (mystery)
Rae Meadows - I Will Send Rain (lit./historical fiction)
Hassan El-Tayyab - Composing Temple Sunrise (memoir)
Patrick Ness - A Monster Calls (YA)
Angela Wallace - Elemental Magic #1 (urban fantasy)
Kelly Corrigan - Glitter and Glue (memoir)
Melody Johnson Howe - Hold A Scorpion (mystery)
Paul Kalanithi - When Breath Becomes Air (memoir)
Elizabeth Hunter - The Scribe #1 Irin Chronicles (urban fantasy)
Isabel Allende - The Japanese Lover (lit. fiction)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Review of The Scribe, Book 1 in the Irin Chronicles, AND an Upcoming RBC Author!

Next February the RBC will be welcoming Elizabeth Hunter, author of the Irin Chronicles.  We will be reading book 1, The Scribe.  In our 3 years of being a book club, we have only had 1 other urban fantasy/paranormal romance author.  And that was Hannah Jayne, who wrote the Underworld Detection Agency books.  We all liked book 1 in that series. And I feel very confident that our members will like The Scribe.  I sure did.  This is what our own RBC member, author Killian McRae (who recommended Elizabeth), had to say about Elizabeth's book:  The Scribe is a perfect marriage of urban fantasy with tinges of romance." Intrigued?  Here's the blurb:

Hidden at the crossroads of the world, an ancient race battles to protect humanity, even as it dies from within.
Ava Matheson came to Istanbul looking for answers, but others came looking for her.  A reckless warrior guards her steps, but will Malachi's own past blind him to the truth of who Ava might be?  While ancient forces gather around them, both Ava and Malachi search for answers.
Whispering voices.  Deadly touch.  Their passion should be impossible...or it could be the only thing that will keep them alive. 

This book has it all - drama, suspense, physical battles, tears, chills, emotion (happiness and sadness), sarcasm and humor (the one inevitably leading to the other), and, most importantly, great chemistry between the 2 main protagonists.  I have said it many times, but it bears repeating:  If the author can make you feel for the characters, which Elizabeth certainly does here, then it doesn't matter what the genre is. In The Scribe, there is a scene in which I felt Ava's grief.  Did I say "But it's only an urban fantasy?"  Of course not.  Remember when I reviewed Wally Lamb's latest, I'll Take You There (11/20)?  I said that the book felt like non-fiction to me, even though the central character is visited by ghosts.  Fantastical?  Yes.  Believable?  Also, yes.  And in The Scribe, Ava and Malachi, along with several other supporting cast members, are very believable.

Don't forget that in order to appreciate all of the elements of a book, it also has to be well-written.  Listen to this:  "Most people's inner voices were like tiny orchestras in the moments before a concert.  An odd cacophony of emotion and tone only occasionally smoothing out into a discernible voice."  Doesn't that paint a vivid picture in your mind?  It sure did mine.  And am I the only person who liked this book?  I don't think so.  On Goodreads the rating is 4.19/5.  And on Amazon it's 4.6/5. I firmly believe that you, RBC members, and other readers too, will like it as well as I did.

ONE MORE NOTE ABOUT THE SCRIBE:  Elizabeth spells out a word/sound that I have never seen in print.  And it was perfect.  The word is "Mmhmm."  Haven't you always wondered what that looks like?  Well, here it is.

ONE MORE NOTE not ABOUT THE SCRIBE:  I have just come across a very cool website that is geared for mysteries.  It's called stopyourekillingme. If you like mysteries (who doesn't, really?), then you will want to take a look at this website.