Friday, September 30, 2011

A Grab Bag, if that bag was full of stuff from my bedside table

(Functionality issues: usually the pics are hyperlinks to Amazon, but their handy little widget isn't working. Now I have boring old static pics instead of dynamic ones. I bet you'll boycott my site until it works, huh? Damnit.)

On to the latest in Mel's books!

First up, in the "well, ain't that a little peculiar?" category, Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang. Okay, you've got Child A (Annie) and Child B (Buster), who are the progeny of the Fangs, a couple of performance artists who have been staging unexpected pieces using their children since they first saw the fascinated horror on the faces of the patrons waiting in line behind baby Annie as she wailed on Santa's lap. As adults, Annie and Buster turn to more conventional forms of self-expression (acting and writing) but are still inexorably drawn into their parents' weird and weirdly compelling orbit. Does it sound weird? It's weird. But not precious or "quirky," which I feared reading the premise. I trusted the recommendations, though, and was so glad I did. Despite the Art, this is ultimately a very good novel about families, growing into your own identity, and how people screw each other up and shore each other up, sometimes at the same time.

I am surprised that this is the first time I've actually blogged about Susan Mallery, since I've read basically every word she's ever published. In particular, I've gobbled up all of her Fool's Gold series (a small town in California with a sever man shortage, leading to a nicely empowered town full of pretty single women who gradually pair off with hunky men who drift in.) Her latest about this town is a trilogy about the Hendrix triplets: Only Mine, Only Yours, and Only His. This month I listened to all three of these, narrated by Tanya Eby. so that was approximately 25 hours of Dakota, Nevada, Montana (the triplets) and their men. She's a brightly-voiced narrator with great pacing, so I routinely enjoy her work. The only down side in all this was that Eby's voices for each hero-heroine pair are basically the same, so listening to these all together got a bit run-on-ish. I was therefore particularly impressed with Mallery, giving them all such distinct but interwoven characteristics - in the previous Fool's Gold books, I couldn't really keep them straight (not that it was necessary), so I feared they would be too similar when it came to their own stories. Mallery uses their time off in college wisely - especially with the last novel - to make their issues unique and their romances well-tailored to each woman. Now I need to keep an eye out for the next ones, to see whether the new librarian, the fire chief, or the goat farmer will be the woman to hook up with the remaining Hendrix siblings - the single dad math teacher and the heretofore-unseen deployed soldier. (My bet: math + goat, army + library, and someone tertiary for the fire chief.)

And for further adventures in series reading, I grabbed I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett. This is his YA take on his Discworld books, centering around young witch Tiffany Aching. Now, I haven't read much of the adult Discworld stuff, but I do so enjoy the Hag o' the Hills and her many adventures with frying pans and stick-on warts and underworld creatures. My kids did, too, and normally I'd try to get this on audio so we could listen during a road trip, but: no road trips, and the library only had hardcover, so. (That's my subtle way of saying I'd rather read than spend time with my sons, even if I'm reading to them during that time. What? They know I love them and stuff.) Once I'm through the next 800 hours of the Game of Thrones books, and then everything I put off reading / listening to so I could enjoy/slog through Martin's stuff, I may just have to figure out how to enter Discworld without the whole thing toppling me through sheer volume. (Which, to Pratchett's credit, is probably a big side effect of YA and adult readers both who encounter Tiffany Aching's stories.)


  1. Those Susan Mallery books have an intriguing premise. I will have to check them out. Is starting at the beginning the right idea, or is there a middle one you'd recommend beginning with?

  2. I'm a huge Susan Mallery fan and I love the Fool's Gold series. Cassandra, each book is stand-alone, but it does build on the characters as they show up in each of the books. You could read either trilogy together, though. Each book is so distinct with the characters.. Only Yours was more serious with one of the best heroes EVER, while Only His was, in my opinion, one of the funniest Susan has ever written. I laughed til tears were falling down my fact. Oh, and the brothers aren't going to have their own stories yet. According to Susan, we're going to have COWBOYS next!!! ;)

  3. I have to agree with Angela - these books can totally stand alone but it's better when you read the trilogy. Only Yours was still my all-time favorite and Only His will have you laughing out loud and getting strange looks from your family because of it! Susan is such a gifted writer and this little town she created is just amazing!

  4. not as popular a me......
    do you moderate your comments?

  5. You're the more experienced blogger, King K. Hopefully I will gain a following like yours some day.

    I don't moderate my comments, but I review them after they're posted, and delete any spam. (So far that's only happened once.)