The groundhog has delivered his message---six more weeks of winter---and the Super Bowl--the last original entertainment until the writers' strike is settled (unless you're watching the Jane Austen extravaganza) is done until spring arrives. So what are you desperate souls doing with your leisure time?
Rejoice! The Book Tarts and Friends of the Tarts have plunged into the unexplored territory ahead and done the research for you! We've been reading good books, bad books and great books, and we're here to tell you what to start piling on your night table. New releases, at least one Advance Reader Copy and even a classic or two. Boy books, girl books. No matter what your taste, you'll find something yummy here!
From Harley: DEAD UNTIL DARK by Charlaine Harris. Long before I read Charlaine, I knew Charlaine and loved Charlaine, but Sookie Stackhouse is in a league of her own and I can't believe it took me so long to get to her. I hadn't read a vampire book since my old Anne Rice days (and I smoked pot during those, so don't ask me about the plots) and who knew I'd fall so hard for Sookie? This is one of those books I started slowing down halfway through, and even rereading parts because I didn't want it to end. Yeah, I know there are several more in the series, but still.
THE WATCHMAN by Robert Crais. Long before I knew Bob Crais, I was in love with Elvis Cole and his sidekick, Joe Pike--although "sidekick" suggests a kind of wacky, Ethel Mertz quality conspicuously lacking in Joe. Joe doesn't laugh. Joe doesn't smile. Joe doesn't take off his shades. But Joe is the penultimate Guy You Want On Your Side and the only thing certain in this story is that no one messing with Joe or anyone Joe likes is going to survive the book. This time it's Elvis who's the sidekick, which he's a very good sport about. It's hard not to envision Paris Hilton in the celebrity-in-distress role, but you have to keep adding 50 points to her IQ.
These books took me 8 (that's eight) months to read, and they are the reason I did not finish Doris Lessing's THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK, for which I will one day be banned from Book Club.
From Elaine Viets: A DOG ABOUT TOWN by J.F. Englert (Dell, paperback $6.99.) This is a hilarious novel featuring Randolph, an overweight but highly sophisticated Labrador, who is much smarter than his master. Don't let your prejudice about talking animals in mysteries get in your way. This is a funny book, set in Manhattan.
From FOT, Ramona Long: THE LANGUAGE OF GOODBYE by Maribeth Fischer is a provocative and beautifully written novel about the sometimes hurtful choices people must make to find happiness.
MY LATEST GRIEVANCE by Elinor Lipman is the brilliant author's latest brilliant story, set in 1978 about a young woman, born and raised in the dormitory of a small women's college, who enters the same college as a student, in a new dorm that is house-mommied by her father's beguiling ex-wife.
From FOT, Arkansas Cyndi: I have been on a reading jag for the last couple of weeks. THE REMAINS OF THE DEAD by Wendy Roberts.--Sadie Novak owns a crime scene cleaning service (cleans up after murders, suicides, etc) . . . and, oh yeah, she can talk to ghosts. The latest ghost swears the police have her murderer wrong. Great debut book.
PLAYING FOR PIZZA by John Grisham.--First Grisham I've read in a while. Third string quarterback who lost the major game hires on to a professional team in Parma, Italy. I really enjoyed it, once I could make myself ignore sentence structure and being in everyone's thoughts.
I also read Suzanne Brockman's ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, which is the story of the marriage of two men. It was okay, but I thought she played it safe and, while it was supposed to be a romance, I didn't feel the love!
From Nancy Martin: Did you read BEL CANTO? I'm still trying, but I haven't finished it yet. But RUN, also by Ann Patchett, is an intimate look at a good Irish Catholic family that adopts two African-American boys who grow up to excel at many endeavors. My poor summary of the concept doesn't express the charm, wit and sweetness of this lyrical novel.
AFTERIMAGE by my good friend Kathleen George, is a police procedural set here in Pittsburgh. Gritty, yet with great depth of character, this story hooked me early with good prose and kept me reading late at night.
What can I say? I'm a sucker for Spenser. Robert Parker's new NOW & THEN puts our hero on the trail of more bad guys and using his backlist of sidekicks to help him out. Yes, I'm sick of Susan. There's nothing new there. And I thought the belated re-visiting of their split (which might have happened 15 years ago now, Bob) wasn't well executed. But when you need a fun, tough guy read on a cold night, this one fits the bill. Low body count this time around--maybe a good thing.
Next up for me? A Jane Smiley novel that somehow slipped through the cracks in my bookcase. To me, Jane Smiley is the ultimate novelist. HORSE HEAVEN is superb. I'm opening GOOD FAITH with great expectations.
From Margie: Get some ice water for this one, because it is smokin'! J.R. Ward's latest novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood is V's story, LOVER UNBOUND, and it's freaking fantastic. If you're a straight up vanilla fan, take a pass on this one. It's not hard core, but it's at least a half step over that line. Although you could read this one as a stand-alone, I guarantee that if you do read it, you'll be looking for the others when you're done. For fans of the series -- you'll never believe who his parents are--and wait until you find out who's finally getting some. Oh, yeah. Even if you're not a fan of the vampire stories, you may like these books--they've got all kinds of thrills--the good kind and the bad kind. Plus, a great love story. What more are you looking for? Just saying.
From Rebecca the Bookseller: I am currently reading the fabulous MURDER MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH--yes, that one, by our own Nancy Martin. I got my hands on an ARC, and I LOVE it. Can't really give anything away, but I can tell you that all our favorites are back (including my Mick--sure, I share him with everyone else, but when I'm reading it, he's mine) and they are joined by some fabulous new characters. AND--guess who's back? The Blackbird parents! Yikes. You'll see how some of these apples don't fall far from the tree. Add a healthy does of chocolate, and you are in for another treat!
From William Simon, FOT: I've been on a Classics kick as of late. CAT OF MANY TAILS by Ellery Queen: A hallmark of detective fiction, the first time know that the Amateur Sleuth realizes what he does has a direct effect on other people's lives. Ellery suffers a nervous breakdown as a result.
DARKER THAN AMBER by John D. MacDonald: Beaches and girls, bad guys and good guys, plus MacDonald's trademark way with words. Any McGee will do on a dark and blustery day, but this is the hallmark of the series.
Still need more suggestions? Our backbloggers will have some terrific suggestions.
What are you reading?? Dish!
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