This week’s reading:
You’ve Got To Read This Book, ed. Jack Canfield
Under Cover of Darkness, ed. Julie Czerneda
Wall Street Noir, ed. Peter Spiegelman
The Emperor’s Children, Claire Messud
Prince Charming Isn’t Coming, Barbara Stanny
The Interview Room, Roderick Anscombe
Lisey’s Story, Stephen King
Die Twice, Simon Kernick (two books in one volume)
In the Bleak Midwinter, Julia Spencer-Fleming
A Fountain Filled With Blood, Julia Spencer-Fleming
Out of the Deep I Cry, Julia Spencer-Fleming
The Pale Blue Eye, Louis Bayard
Helix, Eric Brown
I’m on my way out for vacation, so no reviews this time. Oh, okay, just a few.
I love Stephen King. I think that when he’s on his game, no one does a better job of capturing modern American culture and twisting it just enough to expose what’s rotten in our lives. (Plus he’s a terrific craftsman!) Unfortunately, Lisey’s Story is just not one of his better efforts. I wasn’t horrified, nor did I give a shit. And the ending was telegraphed oh, about two hundred pages early. Sigh.
The Emperor’s Children was, on the other hand, surprisingly terrific. I’m often reluctant to read books in the “young, rootless twenty-somethings try to establish an identity” genre because they’re exactly as boring as they sound. But Messud makes her characters powerful, realistic and compelling, and she isn’t afraid to have them actually do things that matter. I admire her ability to commit - and her writing’s quite nice as well. I admit to identifying quite a lot with Danielle. Then again, as far as I’m concerned, she’s the only halfway decent person in the entire book. Delightful and vicious.
Wall Street Noir could have used more stories that actually dealt with financial chicanery, which I think is underused in mysteries - but it had a great selection of work and there were almost no stories that I’d have cut, either. Similarly, my only complaint with the Kenrick is that there isn’t more of it available.
The Czerneda, on the other hand, could have used a much firmer editorial hand. None of the stories were embarrassingly bad, but some of them were close. Worse, only a couple of the stories stood out as being either interesting or original. Most of the stories were sophomoric at best! Now, I can handle Czerneda taking risks and making some bad choices, but not making bad choices while failing to take interesting risks. I was doubly disappointed because I’ve loved so much of Czerneda’s other work, particularly her anthologies. Sigh.
Also, someone must teach new authors how to write a bio that does not make them look like drooling fans who’ve somehow accidentally wandered into a published anthology.
Finally, if you’re money-shy like me, I strongly recommend the Stanny book as an introduction to managing your money. I took four or five books on how to handle investing out of the library, and this was by far the best. I liked that she breaks things down into very small, achievable steps - and that she addresses the emotional components of investing wisely as well as the financial side. Very nice work.
Until next time, folks!