Let’s start with the big news first. I’ve joined the First Offenders Blog as their Friday Blogger. I’m very happy to be included with such luminaries…and Jeff…and can’t wait to share my opinions and insight with their audience. I won’t be shutting this blog down, but it will be more sporadic and deal in shorter, weirder posts mostly about my family life and my opinions of the new TV season. I’ll also be doing more book reviews here. I read a lot and I used to talk a lot about what I read and then for some reason got out of the habit. I think bloggers can be a great way to spread good word of mouth about great books and I want to be a part of that.
So on that note, here are the last couple books I read.
“Envy the Night” by Michael Koryta
I did not like Michael’s first book and was pretty vocal about it. Most of this was frustration at how adored the book seemed to be by everyone when I thought the dialogue was awful and the characters flimsy. Over the years I’ve gone back and read the book several more times and it kind of grows on me after a while. His second book was a WHOLE lot better and the third, “A Welcome Grave” I think is one of the best PI novels in a while. So I was leery when he went away from the series and wrote a stand alone. The setup sounds kind of generic and nothing about it really got me excited to read the book. Then Michael came around to Aunt Agatha’s for a signing and he did something most authors don’t do. He read from the opening of his book. In general I’m not a fan of writers reading their books, but if they do, I want them to start at the beginning, not some random bit from the middle out of context. As Michael read, I became more intrigued. I like the voice and I really liked the character he created in Frank Temple III. So I bought the book and read it quickly.
By the time I was done I realized why the set up seemed so generic to me: this is not a plot driven book. If Michael had graduated from an MFRA program and this was his first book it would be billed as a “literary thriller.” It’s a slow burner of character tension and back story that works beautifully. It all leads to a wonderful climax at some lake cottages in Wisconsin and ends as well as it starts.
I was going to do a full review of Jennifer Weiner’s “Certain Girls” but I’m only about halfway through and that seemed unfair. I can say though I’m really not happy with what this character, originally introduced in her first book “Good in Bed” has become. She’s whiny and obsessive and overbearing and lacks most of the charm that she had in the first book. Her daughter, on the other hand, is a wonderful character full of the contradictions that come with being a modern 13-year-old. The prose in the sections with her daughter read like bad YA fiction, but the dialogue is great and the character actions are spiffy. We’ll see if I can make it through the whole thing.