Monthly Archives: July 2011

Authors You Cherish

We all have authors we cherish, our guilty reads.  Those authors whose books we can’t wait for; you know the ones that you would gladly go stand in line at midnight just to get your hands on the new book at the first possible moment.  If you are an avid reader, you may even have a few authors to which you are truly devoted.  Those authors whom you recommend to any and everyone.  If we are lucky your author will put out a new book once a year.  If we are really lucky then our authors will vary their books so you get a new high each season.

I am REALLY lucky.  Of my top authors there are 3 that I covet.  They are Anne Bishop, Janet Evanovich and Mercedes Lackey.  I have never met a book by these three women that I did not love.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been times that I have wondered why they took a story in a certain direction – but I always loved the book in the end.  All three of my authors have put out new books in the last couple of months, and Janet Evanovich even has a second new book coming out this year.  Hurray!!!!!

First we have Anne Bishop, who writes intense fantasy books with a romantic undercurrent.  I fell in love with her when I chanced upon a used copy of “Daughter of the Blood” at a tag sale.  The cover of this book depicts a young girl sitting on a horse with a chalice levitating in front of her.  I could tell that this book had been loved as it was dog eared and falling apart.  I paid 25 cents for it hoping that I would love it as much as it’s previous owner did.  Well, what can I say.  I think I read that book in about 4 hours.  I just devoured it.  I couldn’t put it down.  I finished it and fell asleep and when I woke up the next day I just started it again.  Needless to say I ran right to my local bookstore and purchased every Anne Bishop book that I could find, and I wasn’t disappointed.  All of her books were just as well put together and enamoring as the first was.  I was saddened when I came to the end of them, simply because I couldn’t not imagine that there weren’t anymore books.  This was several years ago and she has continued writing.  What was a simple Black Jewels Trilogy became a much longer series.  Book number 9 “Twilight’s Dawn” was released this March.  It was amazing.  I can’t recommend this series or author enough.  She is amazing.  He black jewels world is diverse, well thought out, and complete.  You can picture yourself in it, and the characters, well they are easily imagined.  I am chomping on the bit waiting for the next book.

Next comes Janet Evanovich, her books are best classified as humorous mystery.  A friend of mine gave me a copy of the 10th book in her Stephanie Plum series called “Ten Big Ones”.  She told me that it didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the others, I would still like it.  I was skeptical as I am not usually a mystery reader, but within moments I was laughing out loud.  The character of Stephanie is outrageous, hilarious and unbelievable.  She is a jersey girl lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter.  She is drawn to two separate delicious men with wild and opposite personalities.  Some of you may have heard of this author as her first book was recently picked up to be made into a movie, with Katherine Heigl playing Stephanie.  Her books are light, funny and entertaining.  Her characters are crazy and lovable. I have read them all, and this year am being blessed with two new ones.  “Smoking Seventeen’ just came out this June, and her next novel in the Plum series is set to come out in November titled “Explosive Eighteen”.

And last but certainly not the least is Mercedes Lackey.  To anyone who reads fantasy books Mercedes Lackey is a must.  She is a classic author who has been writing for decades.  She has written roughly 75 books or so, and has collaborated with such well know names as Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, and her husband Larry Dixon.  She writes not only “traditional” fantasy and science fiction but also historical and modern day fantasy.  Her books are set on different worlds, and eras. She is considered both a young adult and an adult writer.  She has been writing for so long that many of her earlier books are now out of print and difficult to find – but I have read everything that I can get my hands on.  Of all of the lands that she has created my favorite is Valdemar and it’s magical companions.  To date there are 22 novels in the Valdemar series and several short story anthologies. This world sucks you right in and makes you feel at home.  The words just jump off the page and beg you to find out more.  Of all of the books I have read – of all the fictional places I have learned about if there was one that I could slip into and live out the rest of my life it would be Valdemar, and that is high praise indeed.  Another one of Lackey’s series is the Elemental Masters books.  The newest book in this series is ‘Unnatural Issue”.  I admit that I hadn’t read any of the other books in this series in a long time, but within the first few words of the new one I was right back there.  It was like coming home, or snuggling with an old friend.

I encourage you all to try out the books of these three spectacular women and if you haven’t found your author or authors yet, keep looking.  They are like friends and soul mates, you will find yours.  Please feel free to post your thoughts on your authors as well.   I am always looking to discover new friends.

Happy Reading,

-Nikki-

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Getting Along

     Ever wonder why people can’t or won’t get along with other people?  It seems simple enough.  It’s ok that we’re all different.  That’s a good thing,  isn’t it?  I guess there are too many species of us,  to make it possible.

     Well, along comes this fabulous book,  FRIENDS,  by Catherine Thimmesh.  This book shows true stories of extraordinary animal friendships.  It has wonderful photos that go along with the stories.  Animals that shouldn’t get along, do, in this book.  It’s a feel good, make you feel warm inside,  kinda of book.   It’s sweet to just look at and share with someone you do get along with …… or maybe don’t………..

posted by Sharon

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Memoirs: Four Gems for Your Summer Reading Pleasure

If you are of a certain age and disposition, Helen and Scott Nearing and later Eliot Coleman had an impact on your life, or if not an impact, if you did not try in some way to be them, you were at least aware of their ideas and ideals. The Nearings came first, with their notion that you could be self-sufficient on your own land without too much work, a notion that resonated with a whole generation of younger followers. Later Eliot Coleman, one of those young followers, wrote The Four-Season Harvest, which continues to inform serious vegetable gardeners today.

Melissa Coleman, the daughter of Eliot Coleman, lived through those years as a child and saw them in a way only a child could. Her memoir, This Life Is In Your Hands, is her brave and heartbreaking account of the seventies. She portrays her youthful parents, their idealism and dreams, and the bucolic setting where she spent her earliest years. Yet she doesn’t spare us the hardships, the nonstop labor, the at time brutal realities of farm life – for me reading about the fate of the baby boy goat was tough — and finally, the wrenching tragedy that tears the family asunder. She tells it all with compassion and understanding in prose so clear you have to catch your breath. This is a truly extraordinary work.

Margaret Roach also moved back to the land, but the times have changed and hers is a very different story. Roach was a high-powered, highly compensated, fashion conscious member of Martha Stewart’s staff when she left the city and her steady income to build a life for herself in rural New York State. She gardened. She blogged. She made friends with the neighboring farmers down the road.

And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road is her account of this transition. She watches the frogs, takes in a very independent cat, learns to drive a tractor and creates a beautiful garden. The book is meditative and upbeat and by the end, you feel you have a new friend. If you want to know what’s going on in Roach’s garden after you have read the last page, you can follow her popular blog, A Way to Garden.

Katharine Greider went in the opposite direction. She moved to the city and with her husband, bought into an old tenement house on the lower east side of New York. It’s a perfect life. She has a nice husband, delightful children, and she and her husband both write, though they have enough money from their dot come years not to have to worry much. Then one day, they learn that the underpinnings of their house are compromised and it is unsafe. They must evacuate immediately.

A house is one of the biggest investments financially and emotionally that a family makes. We expect it to shelter us. Learning that it is falling in on itself and a menace to everyone residing within its walls is devastating. Greider shares how they dealt with this ordeal in The Archaeology of Home: An Epic set on a Thousand Square Feet of the Lower East Side. More importantly though, she digs deep into the history of this particular non-descript building that she called home, and the slip of land it was built on. The book is a chronicle of New York City itself, from the salt marshes that early settlers filled in barrow by barrow, to the earliest road-making, the creation of wealth, the divisions of the land, the poverty, politics, influx of immigrants: it’s all here, a microcosm. It’s a good book, a pleasure to read, and even if you are well versed in the history of New York, you will appreciate the scale of this, and the very humanness of it.

Nina Sankovitch stays put. Her landscape is interior. Her beloved older sister has been dead three years, too young of cancer, when she embarks on a year of reading a book a day. Sankovitch lives in suburban gold coast Connecticut with her four sons and husband. In 2008 she founded ReadAllDay.org and began chronicling the books she was reading. In Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading she shares how she managed to achieve her unusual goal, despite the constraints of only 24 hours in a day and the distractions of a busy household.

In the book, she wanders from her memories to her sister’s short life, to the wisdom she takes from the words she is reading. It is a contemplative piece, probing, reflecting. An extra treat is the
list of the titles of the books she read.

***

In some ways you never know a memoirist as well as you know the people in your life, because the memoirist is framing her life, honing and polishing it. Yet in other ways, we know her better, more intimately, because she writes of things few talk about. A well-written memoir with something to say is a treasure. I can say that all four of these books are indeed treasures. Suzy

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