Thankful for Smart Authors

If you need some reading material this Thanksgiving weekend, check out this article from Elle magazine between two smart authors: Margaret Atwood and Louise Erdrich. It’s no surprise that I’m an Atwood fan – just click here to find out why – so I was pleased to come across this interview while flipping through a magazine in the living room yesterday. Atwood has received a fresh new fan-base thanks to the popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale – both a novel and a Hulu show. The Handmaid’s Tale is a frightening version of the future where women have been stripped of their rights and only certain women are able to birth and raise children. Meanwhile, author Louise Erdrich has written about another version of the future in her latest book, Future Home of the Living God. According to the Elle article, it’s “a wonderful, creepy, dystopian novel – in which women become prized, and quickly enslaved, for their ability to produce healthy babies.” While I’m not very familiar with Erdrich’s work, I have enjoyed Atwood’s books, and I think I’ll be putting Future Home of the Living God on my TBR list.

What are you reading this Thanksgiving weekend?


Better than Black Friday

These are a few of my favorite books with black covers. The Night Circus, Gone Girl, The Hunger Games, The Giver, Three Dark Crowns, and Twisted. Do you have any favorites to add to the list?

Based on your choice of literature I think we could be friends

I read this cute blog post months ago about how the blogger challenged herself to complete 30 random acts of kindness in 30 days. She did a lot of different things, like putting up inspirational signs on message boards, hiding dollar bills in the dollar store, putting together care packages for homeless people, giving away baked goods, loading vending machines up with coins, and writing lots of notes and leaving them in random places. One of these notes caught my eye because she left it, in all places, inside a library book. It read, “Hi! I don’t think we’ve ever met, but based on your choice of literature I think we would make great friends.” Something about this idea just made me smile. Wouldn’t it be fun to open up a book and get a message from a kindred soul?

I decided NaBloPoMo was just the right time to give this idea a go myself. Before I headed off to the library, I wrote the message on some cute post-it notes. Putting the notes inside the books at the library should have been super easy. But I had a three-year-old with me. So it went something like this:

Me: It’s mommy’s turn to pick out a book now.

C: No, I need you!

Me: What do you need?

C: I need you to play with me!

Me: I will. I just need to get a book first.

C: Nooo, I neeed you!

Me: I know. This won’t take long. Just come with me and then we’ll go back and play.

C: Nooo, I need you to play with me.

Me: Yup, we will do that. I just need to quick grab a book.

C: Noooo! (Falls on floor dramatically)

Me: Shhh! You have to be quiet on this side of the library. People are trying to read here.

C: But I need you…

So anyway, I eventually got around to selecting two books to post my messages in: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. I hope the next person who checks out these books smiles when they come across my note. It’s nothing fancy, but I hope it makes someone think about all the people who have read and enjoyed the same books.

A Magicless Mystery

When you pick up a book by J.K. Rowling, you expect to be hooked by great characters and interesting connections and plot twists. But reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym, left me incredibly disappointed. This was my first time reading one of Rowling’s adult books, and I’m thinking it might be my last.

The book follows down-on-his-luck private investigator, Cormoran Strike, as he investigates the alleged suicide of the famous supermodel, Lula Landry. Strike needs the job, as he has just broken up with his girlfriend, is living in his office, and can barely pay his temp secretary. Strike’s investigation takes him to lunch with wealthy socialites, to a designer’s photo-shoot, and out to a club with Landry’s supermodel friend. In the meantime, the murderer strikes again, urging Strike to uncover the truth before someone else gets hurt. Despite Strike’s personal problems and an interesting past, he manages to piece together the mystery.  

While little snippets of the story were enjoyable, like the author’s use of figurative language and Cormoran’s secretary who lives out her dream of being a private eye, the mystery was magicless – and yes, I realize that mysteries don’t have wizards and wands – that’s not the type of magic I’m talking about. What I mean is, all the things I love about Rowling’s writing in the Harry Potter series – her imaginativeness, her ability to link together small details and complex plots, her lovable characters – were completely lacking in this book. Any mystery writer could have written this book. I was looking for a smart, inventive take on the mystery genre, but there was no J.K. Rowling stamp of magic. It was gritty and real, but lacked reader appeal.

Have you ever felt let down by an author you really admired? What was the book?