Bookgasm

As a passionate writer and equally voracious reader, one of my favorite things to do is visit Barnes and Noble’s website, where they have a feature that helps me choose reading material months in advance.

First, their “New Releases” tab is helpful in finding books and authors I may not have previously heard of.  But then they also have a “Coming Soon” tab, which is an outstanding feature, and one I’m not aware of on other similar websites.  Here, they announce books that are scheduled to be released up to four months prior to their release dates.

Why is this helpful? Because I am a consummate list-whore, and I keep detailed reading lists that I draw from when in need of something to read.  It also helps me keep abreast of the types of books that are being published for my own personal writing knowledge…keeping up with the market, if you will.  About once a month or so, I log onto the worldwide web and start drooling.

These are the books on my “Immediate Reads” shelf:

The Spirit Lens: A Novel of the Collegia Magica – Carol Berg

In a kingdom on the verge of a grand renaissance, where natural science has supplanted failing sorcery, someone aims to revive a savage rivalry…For Portier de Savin-Duplais, failed student of magic, sorcery’s decline into ambiguity and cheap illusion is but a culmination of life’s bitter disappointments. Reduced to tending the library at Sabria’s last collegia magica, he fights off despair with scholarship. But when the king of Sabria charges him to investigate an attempted murder that has disturbing magical resonances, Portier believes his dreams of a greater destiny might at last be fulfilled.

As the king’s new agente confide, Portier – much to his dismay – is partnered with the popinjay Ilario de Sylvae, the laughingstock of Sabria’s court. Then the need to infiltrate a magical cabal leads Portier to Dante, a brooding, brilliant young sorcerer whose heretical ideas and penchant for violence threaten to expose the investigation before it’s begun. But in an ever-shifting landscape of murders, betrayals, old secrets, and unholy sorcery, the three agentes will be forced to test the boundaries of magic, nature, and the divine…

———-

The Best American Mystery Stories 2009 – Jeffrey Deaver, Guest Editor

Christian Rated This: 4 0ut of 5 stars (for uneven story quality)

Like previous anthologies in this best of series, the impressive 13th volume favors crime stories over whodunits. As series editor Otto Penzler notes in his foreword, it has become increasingly difficult to find… a new murder method, or an original way to hide a vital clue (though some may wonder why Deaver passed over Hal White’s impossible crime puzzler, Murder at the Fall Festival, listed in the appendix of Other Distinguished Mystery Stories of 2008). Readers interested in psychology will be more than satisfied by such tales as Joyce Carol Oates’s Dear Husband, a heartrending first-person account of a mother who slaughtered her children, and Tom Bissell’s My Interview with the Avenger, about a vigilante superhero. As always, part of the pleasure derives from exposure to writers who have yet to gain the acclaim they deserve, such as Randy Rohn (The Man Who Fell in Love with the Stump of a Tree) and Jonathan Tel (Bola de la Fortuna).

———-

Boston Noir – Edited by Dennis Lehane


Christian rated this: 4 out of 5 stars (for uneven story quality)

In the best of the 11 stories in this outstanding entry in Akashic’s noir series, characters, plot and setting feed off each other like flames and an arsonist’s accelerant. These include Lehane’s own Animal Rescue, about a killing resulting from a lost and contested pit bull; John Dufresne’s The Cross-Eyed Bear, in which a pedophile priest is caught between the icy representative of the archdiocese and one of his now adult victims; and Don Lee’s The Oriental Hair Poets, which charts a literary feud that escalates into a police case. Two populations that define the city for outsiders—the elite WASP Brahmins and the hundreds of thousands of college students surging through to earn their degrees—appear only in passing. While Lehane expresses the fear in his introduction that Boston is becoming beiger, less tribal and gritty and more gentrified and homogenized, this anthology shows that noir can thrive where Raymond Chandler has never set foot.

———-

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein

If you’ve ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein’s third novel offers an answer.

Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoë, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny’s old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. When Denny hits an extended rough patch, Enzo remains his most steadfast if silent supporter.

Enzo is a reliable companion and a likable enough narrator, though the string of Denny’s bad luck stories strains believability. Much like Denny, however, Stein is able to salvage some dignity from the over-the-top drama.

———-

Here are some of the books on my “Future Reads” list:

Ahhhh….I think I need a post-coital snack.

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One thought on “Bookgasm

  1. Thanks Christian. Now I have to find a copy of Boston Noir because I can’t bring myself to zip up mu suitcase without it.

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