Saturday, October 25, 2008

What Have I Been Reading?

I have read a couple of good books lately and thought I'd share them with you. I just finished Cezanne's Quarry by Barbara Conrad Pope. Hard to believe this was the author's first book. Very atmospheric, it takes place in in Aix-en-Provence in August 1885and people are still reeling from the publication of Darwin's work on natural selection. A mysterious young woman named Solange Vernet arrives in Aix-en-Provence with her lover, a Darwinian scholar named Charles Westbury, and a year later is found strangled in a quarry outside the city.Initially assuming that Solange's murder was a simple crime de passion by either a spurned C├ęzanne or a betrayed Westbury, Bernard soon finds himself on a mission to unravel the secrets of Solange and Cezanne's hidden past—the key to which may be a series of his paintings which depict the strangulation and violation of a woman with golden-red hair.
This was a fascinating look at the time and place and a real page turner with a good twist.

The next book on my list of recent reads is a book by Dean Koonz called Odd Thomas.
"The dead don't talk. I don't know why." What a great first line! But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. This book at times made me think of the showtime series Dead Like Me, which if you haven't seen I recommend. Anyway, I want you to know that I never read horror novels-well, hardly ever. And I don't like to be scared. But I heard from one of my book discussion groups that this was a good book and funny. I was looking for funny and while this is certainly quirky, I didn't laugh! What it is, is terrific entertainment that deals seriously with some of the deepest themes of human existence: the nature of evil, the grip of fate and the power of love." A very good book.

I also just finished the new Neil Gaiman book, The Graveyard Book. I LOVE Neil Gaiman-let's just get that said. I loved Stardust, I loved Anansi Boys, I loved the book he wrote with terry Pratchett Good Omens! And The Graveyard Book is one of the best books by Neil that I have read yet. Smart and focused, touching and wry, it takes the story of a boy raised by ghosts and extends it beyond the restrictive borders of the setting. Great stuff. Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place-he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their timely ghostly teachings-like the ability to Fade. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are things like ghouls that aren't really one thing or the other. This book follows the hero though his childhood in the "safe" place in the graveyard and as he moves out into the world, like every child. And like every child, he grows up. This book was so good that I wish I was reading it again for the first time and I will think about it for a long time to come. Seems like my reading this week has had a strong theme of Halloween to it.
On that note, hope you get lots of good candy this week! I know I have eaten more caramel apples than is probably good for me but they are only around for so short a time!

Talk to you later,

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