Not the Best of Times, But I Did Read A Lot.

Not for lack of thought, it has been a long time between Voolavex Books. Besides being quite lazy, the last month has brought birthdays (many), births, death, jail and the associated emotions each of these bring. There will be no Q&A on the above. You will some rementions.  And this year I did not save my library receipts.


Neon Prey  John Sanford does it again.

The Never Game (  Deaver has introduced new ‘hero’. Too twee and detailed for me.) And I like him.

The Satapur Moonstone  (2nd in the Perveen Mistry series.)  A+++++++ Sujata Massey, whom I have loved for decades). Set in 1920’s Bombay, Perveen is a Pasi woman and a Barrister – first women called to the Bar. I am just as enchanted with her new effort as I was when Massey was in Tokyo with Rei Shimura. Her two stand-alone novels set in India are  also wonderful. The Sleeping Dictionary.  And The Ayah’s Tale.

A Son of the Circus (a reread) Before I knew anything at all about India, I read this because I like John Irving.  After 20+ years of reading ALL about India, I reread it and lingered with joy and every page.  My advice is if you are not an Indophile – you will miss too much to enjoy it the way I did the 2nd time.  It was eating at a banquet of favorites. No rating.  It was simply wonderful.

France – all over France with detectives The Enzo Files, (Peter May) and Georges Dupin Series (Jean-Luc Baannalec). Both are not just excellent mystery series – they included tutorials on things I knew little about.  Brittany, Oysters, Salt, Celtic history, food and Breton lore that prompted me to buy a map and guide to the areas;  French regions I knew little about.  And The Outer Hebrides Islands (cold, windy, scary sort of.), The Lewis Trilogy.  Now I know how to harvest peat for fires. North Atlantic tides. In detail and delightfully.   Because I grew up for years on Cape Cod – it rang true and was fascinating. adding to the subjects that many don’t know or care much about.  But I do

Down Under –Have moved back to the two Australian writers who died last year. Peter Corris and Peter Temple. (Another future post for them, after I find my Aussie slang dictionary).

Is it a gimmick or simply a natural progression?  Book series.  (FYI – there is a wonderful site “Book Series in“) very important if you get hooked onto cops and robbers and authors as I do.  Some series work to perfection – largely (for me) due to the history of the main character… And it’s not a new idea, but it seems every writer is doing it and it leaves me unsure about the practice – almost too easy.   The fact is if you latch onto a great series – the  ‘I can’t wait’ syndrome sets in.  I am considering a subscription to Publishers’ Weekly.  Seriously.  Here is a just found a site, Crime Fiction  It covers all the subcategories of dirty deed writing.  Mystery, thriller, suspense, etc., and it is wonderful.  I love the genre (as you can see) and this is up to date and intelligent site.

Is it possible, after a lifetime of loving the NYT Book Review, to have just outgrown it?  It’s beginning to feel that way to me and I am sad.  The word that pops into my mind every week is “Precious”.  Too, too.  Silly columns that match books with readers (please) and the “Short List” – although not a competition.  How Twee.  This and considering the revealed wisdom of the Best Seller Lists – my general observation is that readers read some crummy titles.  Not too nasty, not too many big words and many James Patterson’s.  Large font size fills pages faster, doesn’t it?  I am delighted by the Washpo Friday book column by Ron Charles, (Washpo Book Editor.) In particular, his recent mention of a new Los Angeles Times effort on a serious book review section.  The local paper for me – so fingers crossed.

I dearly want to know what readers who read, like to read. Genres,  authors, opinions. I intend to spread the word of other Book Blogs – so if you have one or like one – please let me know  This is what the comment section is for and it would be sooper dooper to receive some feedback. Requests, (no grammar and spelling posts though, I  do use Grammarly and I do make typos), questions.  Suggestions are welcome.  Civility is a bonus.  Those are the requests so far.

No schedule yet, but soon.  Please send feedback.  And share your favorites, new finds and ‘one of a kinds’ with me.


Chloe Ross

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Voolavex Books A Revue: Many Tales

Finally back after a too long hiatus.  This is really a revue – like a Vaudeville show.  Lots of variety and a place for readers who aren’t really fond of traditional book reviews.  For example: “Do I really care about this one person’s opinion?”  This is the question you will not have to ask.

Sharing the books I like has no requirements.  You can like it or not.  But I have found so many authors, new to me, who have been a revelation and in turn have led me to look for others in locales I never considered before.  I have been reading like mad!!!  A weak explanation of why I have neglected this blog.

There is no format.  So far.  I have thought about formats and realized I was not a format writer, so I will just jump in.  Others, however, are welcome to suggest formats and I will happily consider them.  And contests (????).  Are they a good thing?  But this is not Goodreads.  I don’t care when you started or finished or which page you’re on.  I like Goodreads, but this is part of it I don’t love.  I would love for any Voolavex Books readers to share their finds. A little or a lot.

Dandy tips I have discovered.

Get a map.  If the locale is a real place – get a map.  It will put in the book and make it more vivid and many-layered.  You can google one, use a guidebook, or city guide.  Maps don’t change much in terms of streets so it doesn’t have to be new.  But I have many and I use them for fiction all the time. If it’s a made-up location, hope the author has provided one.  (I think they all should.)

Read with an accent if you can and phrasebook. This is true if the story is in a foreign location without a glossary.  Helps to know foreign expressions that actually matter to the story.  I tend to read with an accent if I can – seriously – if the book is set in another country – I try to imagine the voices of the characters.  Cats and dogs not included.

Guidebooks in general cover both these matters – usually cheap at thrift stores and yard sales.  Free at your local library.

Your local library.  I could buy books every day.  And to my dismay, this has created stacks all over my house.  Amazon has not been the only willing co-conspirator in this, but I love to use the library to reserve books via internet and it is even better.  Free.  How could free not be wonderful?  FYI – my local libraries are the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) and the Country Library of Los Angeles (COLA).  I do not read e-Books nor do I listen to audio books.  Just a personal choice. It’s the reading or listening that is the point no matter how.

Little Free Library.  Take one, leave one.  Usually little cupboards on posts that are little and free.  Supplied by donations and readers who like the idea of a quiet, community source.  We have two in my city that I know of.  I donate lots of books.

No Spoilers.  Not gonna’s do it.

What I read.  Everything and when I say this, I mean this.  Fiction, non-fiction, bio’s, series; I love thrillers (mysteries, suspense, crime, murder and mayhem). natural history. India.  All of it and especially Bombay.  Fiction and non. And France  – all of it, but Paris and Brittany are the top two. London.  Especially fond of Krazy Kat and Ignatz” and “Mutts”

I love science, geography, anthro, sociology, medicine, religion (all of them, but Jews in particular and Parsis).  Except for algorithmic math. (which includes DNA)  Tried to read “The Gene“; (full of math, it is) and slogged until I quit.  Apologies to Dr. Mukherjee.  Fermat’s Enigma is still just that.  I love The Fibonacci Sequence, though, and with that prime numbers.  I will never be a rocket scientist.  I LOVE Marilyn Stasio.  Crime columnist of the New York Times. She is the BEST!! (And This list goes on BTW).

What I don’t. Graphic novels (except Maus), Chick lit. Westerns, Military as a rule.  Politics (if I can help it especially now).  Self-help.  NO.

It evolves.

Ask questions, post comments and keep stopping by.  No schedule yet, but maybe one soon.





Welcome to Voolavex Books – A Revue. The New Name

As of today, this book site is Voolavex Books – a Revue. Not exactly a review site – but books I have read and liked and will share with readers.  There is a very wide collection of subject matter.

Hope it’s a better fit and will attract readers for(often) less than serious comments on books of all stripes.  Suggestions, comments and ideas about the joy of reading.  It will not be a standardized book review.  I think that each reader reviews their own reads and the opinions of professional reviewers reach a limited audience.

Someone just today suggested the New York Times Book Review was not quite what it used to be.  I agree.  It panders and I have been reading it all my life.  The new columns are dumbed down, it stings. Do we need an editor to suggest book matches?  Sounds like Cosmo old style to me. And the author interview always asks “what on your nightstand?”.  The selections are humorous – at least to me. Euripes, Chekov, Moliere, Jane Austen and someone always seems to be rereading “Little Women” (Fact: not one I have read). My favorite columnist in the NYT Book Revue is Marilyn Stasio.  She hits the spot.  I read lots of mystery/thrillers and find them to be far more informative and researched than most fiction.  I think Ms. Stasio must be a complete encyclopedia of info on every subject –  and this, in my opinion, lends itself to insightful observations and comments.  She is my favorite.

This is a brief look at my new direction.  I have made notes and the next post will be more about actual books and a look at how I read them.  And of course titles and authors I have newly found or rediscovered.  Join me.


Reading Through ‘The Cure’

I apologize for being gone so long but the  “Cure” is almost finished – another two weeks and then we go from there.  But I am HEP C free and eat all the time. No clue why.

President Clinton (love him or loathe him but no wisecracks please) was in the NYT Sunday Book Review and in the interview, he copped to loving ‘thrillers’.I do too. And to this end I have read many in the last month and everywhere they took me was a journey I enjoyed full stop.  So this is what I liked and pass along as a short list.  FYI:  I did not like “The President is Missing”.  I am sick of James Patterson.

Stephen KingThe Outsider.  I just love the way King writes and so for me the subject is less important than just the way it’s written.  I did love the first half of the book but kind of figured out where it was going by the second half.   He may be running out of monsters and their strange habits. But if you are King fan.  Read it because it is really a fine source of summer pleasure.

Arnuld Indriasson. A new Harry Hole by Jo Nesbo. Hellfire by Karen Fossum. More thrillers because that seems to be what is being written.  Works for me.  I reckon more research is put into thrillers than most novels.

Laura Lippman– Inspired by the picture by an author friend, of Lippman and her husband David Simon last week I decided to read more of her books and I am very glad I did.  Her husband created The Wire* and she is a former reporter and a wonderful writer of thrillers.  I LOVED ‘Wilde Lake‘; read last year and I still think about the story and know her style and her Baltimore location.  I wish the publishers would include maps.  The last one I just finished was excellent but the characters were all over the eastern part of the country and a map would have helped. It included “Modern Orthodox Jews as well and this was a bonus. *All the Pieces Matter” is Simon’s excellent book on “The Wire”.

Fast forward

And on and on and as of Friday, the Cure has worked. Hep C no more. Many more issues to face but one is out of the way.  Epclusa works.

I have lost track of what I read during the past twelve weeks; likely I was gulping down titles due to stress.  I was stressed. This blog will undergo some changes and will be back in July.  I lost control of it and I apologize.

Little mentions before I  start anew.  My friend Thrity Umrigar has a new book coming June 26 …“The Secrets Between Us” and I am so excited.   Just got the new John Connelly book as well as some odds and ends acquired from the library and book sales.  So many books; not enough shelves.

I plan to map out this site’s new look by Bastille Day.  July 14th, when I hang out my little Tricoleur.  And Canada Day is July 1st; our own National Holiday will get a pass from me this year.  Non-partisan comment. But great birthdays on the 3rd – a reason to celebrate.

Check in – it will be a work in progress, but it will be good to map it out.

Until then – read.

A Tad Ridiculous.

Last week I caved to the lure of titles I usually avoid. But they called my name (whispered actually) and I checked them both out of the library.  (Disclaimer: What follows is only my opinion.)  They are both selling well and coining money for their authors, but they puzzled me in excess.  Seriously folks.

Dan Brown took four years to research Origin.  For this, he must be given high marks.  I suspect he endured stinging eyes and headaches.  Reading it did this to me.   I own up to liking The DaVinci Code.  I found it clever and fascinating when I read it years back. I think I read The Inferno too, but not the others. Origin, though, has been selling like hotcakes and I thought, “why not”?

All the history-changing action took place – apparently, in one day.  I didn’t realize this until the end and then I was sorry for learning it.

First and foremost: It simply couldn’t have happened in one day for all the action, helicopters, crazy clerics,  overwrought scientists and Robert Langdon, who knows damn near everything.  He also knows everyone, in all echelons and cultures.  You get earth-shattering revelations from a  bizillionaire scientist, you get a murder, you get royalty and his about to be queen, nautch dancer, priests, religious sects and lots of fear and praying.  How can it miss?  (It is not as clever as the DV Code. It works hard at it though (did I mention Bilbao and the Goog).  For me, the star of the book was Barcelona and Gaudi. Just enough Gaudi info to make me want to know more about him.  The rest was silly.  And too long and Dan may write yet another blockbuster – but this was NOT it. Tired and let-down with Origin – but I did read it all.

And there came The Lying Game  (by Ruth Ware of Girl on the Train fame; another one that confused me)  What can I say?  I am not a chick-lit chick.  This is a serious chick book. I can only say it was pages of breastfeeding (in detail) and the slurper had a name that I didn’t like.  It was on almost every page.  Lots of drinking, smoking, cursing, unrequited, maybe incestuous love and a heavy hint of Lesbianism.  The latter simmered along underneath but never was part of the story.  This was a grueling novel.  I felt grueled as I read the last page – where the stars of the dog and pony show all seemed to escape  – with guilt, bloody hands, shame and the well-fed baby.  Also death and destruction.  And, voila, all the storylines to their end.  They could have come sooner.

This is why I do not like to write negative reviews.  But I read them and I thought I would share what I took away.

I also took out more of the Akashi Noir series – these are new ones and I just hope they keep on.   I read the first batch in its entirety and loved every one.  This new round comes as a pleasure and they are covering cities around the world. A lovely way to pick and choose those you like best.  It features various authors – and good wide offering. I see these as great spring reading and the best way to pass the treatment of my improving condition.

Back soon.

Why Do I Love Thrillers?

Jumped the shark. Swam. Then Jumped Again 

The last few weeks the library has gotten many titles from my hold list and this last one of Jeffrey Deaver’sThe Cutting Edge was the one I started and finished.  (Yes, I am still on the “cure” so reading a lot). Why do I love thrillers? Well, I do like blood and gore but I truly admire and welcome an author who does so much research for authenticity it creates a shared learning experience…with a mystery and forensics and clever criminal activities!!!!

The Cutting Edge – in which, sadly I think, Deaver truly jumped the shark, was so full of information it was like a textbook.  As it so happens I had read two books on the subject he was writing about and had a comfortable understanding of the material.  Then I  was taught to do something I had never known how to do.  Very happy.   As I read found three errors (some fact checker missed them), only a nitpicker would even mention these.  And so many plotlines and minutiae I am exhausted.  However,  the thorough research done by the really good writers, to establish a plotline or a character is such is so much more than just the story.  I learn something in just about everyone..  Not just murder and mayhem and clues – serious information you might never encounter reading other kinds of fiction.  Read The Cutting Edge.  Jumped shark or not – you will love it and learn about things you probably never considered and the ending sort of makes sense.  Sort of.

During this hiatus, (a result of the “cure” – another eight weeks to go)I read all four of James Thompson’s Helsinki series and one called Darling by another Finn.  I thus stayed very chilled out (sorry) and I loved the Thompson’s. Darling was so-so, but much of Scandanoir is still some very fine sleuthing.  And LOTS of detail.

I also have read the latest Yrsa (and if you have not discovered her – she is an Icelandic author of acclaim.)  Start with her first title 2005) and read all the way to this latest one.  This latest I could not put down. It started a new series of detectives.  Her Thora series is wonderful. She is prolific too; a bonus and for fans – She has created two new sleuths: Freya and Huldur in a series – two so far

The latest Helsinki/ Ariel Kafka by Hari Nykanen is waiting to be read. I frankly love Jewish detectives in odd locations. and this detective is in Helsinki.  (We do wander.) He is what I consider one great creation. And it seems there is a five book series of which I have found three. I will look for the first two and be sure to list them.  And if you really want a thriller about Jewish cops and robbers in a strange location; The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon.(Warning you will laugh a lot – a knowledge of Yiddish is suggested too).

I tried very hard to read Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth.  The writers chosen are to reimagine Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits and bring them to us as they grow in the author’s mind.  I just could not do it.   If anyone has or does.  Tell us about it.

I am developing a better format for this blog and hope to use it as a template of sorts for “Books” in the future.  More compact and uniformly structured.   Soon and will add a poll.  (it’s a perk from WordPress.)

And. Save money – buy used or better still use your local library.  I have made it a habit and it is (online holds) convenient and free.

See you soon – after I finish two or three books on the bedside table and more of the “cure”.




Sick Leave: Taking the Cure.

Sick Leave.  I have been reading while dealing with a medical problem but trying to deliver a nice blog post about the reading and not the sick leave.  It will be a while …perhaps until I sit down and write that blog but I am simply on the “cure” and reading  tons to delight anyone who needs a little delight in their life. (I am delighted by both the cure process and the reading).  Lots of India. Just finished Death at the Durbar.   Read it so you can catch up with #2 of the Maharaja series and learn some Indian history easily and enjoyably at the same time.  There is a third promised.  And hopefully more after that. His Highness Sikander Singh is too good a character for only three  titles.

Currently NOT on my bed table: James Joyce, Dostoyevsky or the Brontes.  I am, instead, taking a whodunit tour of Finland with a stack of five Helsinki  detectives;  James Thompson’s Inspector Vaara, Jarko Spila and the new Ariel Kafka.  In between the Finland move  I checked out the new Jonathan Kellerman.  Night Moves and it is way up to snuff so far. Worth the time and he is always – for me – lots of fun.  Reading in spurts Thomas Childers’ new, upsetting and necessary history of The Third Reich (needed info, especially about his transformation from boring whiner to the monster inside him full-blown; especially fascinating is his becoming a full-fledged anti-Semite.  There are entire paragraphs that I have  swear I have heard spoken recently in this country.  They scare me.  And Josephus, The Jew of Rome.  FYI Reading about Roman emperors is a nerve working progress and process.

Puzzled. I have yet to figure out how such a tightly knit group of current writer’s have becomes critics, panel participants and gurus of what we need to read.  Seriously.  And they  live near each other generally.  And how the hell do they get Pulitzers for books that truly seem ordinaire – entertaining some,  but quite run of the mill?  You can offer up your list of your annoyingly over-worshipped literati if you like and if I get any lists, I will then list mine.  Mine rarely adds a name and is short. Yours can be any length.  Also wondering about “Girl” on Train, In Water, At Window, Gone, Remembered and therefore every single imitation is also profitable and mundane for Girls come lately.

Stephen King has a new one just out, not yet in my library and I  am languising on “hold” lists for him and for about 10 other very sought after tomes.

As my best friend said the other day, by way of compliment:  “nobody reads the kind of books you read”.

This post lacks charm and wit – part of the meds, I hope.  Just thought it seemed as if I fell off the planet.  Much as that is tempting,  I’m back and it’s already April and not a drop of rain today.