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.

Recently…

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 Order.com“) 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 Lover.com  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.

Cheers,

Chloe Ross

email me (until I get one here) at:

Trstrap@aol.com

Make sure I know if your email is private.or for the blog (i.e. may I post it)?

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Why Must There Be A Reader’s Guide?

I realize it may seem that I read books primarily under the categories: India.  And Jews.  Those interest me but it’s not always those I write comments about.  And if it seems that way, I shall widen the scope.

Caveat:  When a book includes a “Reader’s Guide” in the back – my advice is to ignore it.  Pass. Seriously.  Their Q&A’s astonish me.  I tend to avoid groups like the plague, but when it comes to “Reading Groups”, I think Ebola and  Spanish Flu.  Do folks really gather to discuss Oprah’s Book Club selections?  Why?  A lot of folks need Oprah to enhance their lives.  I am not one. And while I really don’t care for Jonathan Franzen after his books   The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion( these he wrote before ).  He is just too adored for reasons I cannot figure out. (Donna Tartt too).  But when he became exercised over the Oprah Seal of Approval –  on the cover of The Connections, I had to approve his ire. I read for pleasure.  I  like to form my own opinions and I find reading a solitary pleasure.

Some of the RG questions beggar belief.  I recently read a novel entitled A Bollywood Affair – a debut by a new voice in India and discovered a bodice ripper writ large (and well writ) that I read in full and wished I hadn’t.  No shade thrown on the author – I just was not prepared.  Neither did I notice the “Reading Group Guide”  mentioned on the back cover.  I promise the book deserved better.  None of the questions would have been sustained in any court. I was about to show you what I meant and could not do it.  All I can say is – dumbed down.  If it’s your drink of choice, by all means, read and respond, but I find they insult many reader’s intelligence.

Tarun J. Tejpal, an author new to me but clearly one who is respected by his readers in India.   The Story of My Assassins just arrived.  The story is true, slightly confusing but what a book.  No helpful glossary and his use of Hindi words and curses did indeed inspire me to look them up.  My own confusion arises from a belief on the author’s part, that the reader has some knowledge of Indian history and politics.  I have more than when I began and caught on to the rhythm as soon as my prior reading recall kicked in.. The event that prompted the book is factual but the layers of the events before and after are woven into a tight fabric set in Haryana, Delhi and other areas of Northern India.  Descriptions of the air in Delhi in previous books have stayed with me and I suspect much coughing and wheezing – and Delhi is not a favorite locale.but this book is a lulu. Political, parochial, authentic and alarming – highly recommended for the story and the writing. Lots of sex, violence, cursing, Hindi and unshuttered windows for closer looks at the India between now and then. (It has been compared to the White Tiger and Slumdog Millionaire*;  I find this book far more intricately delivered and much larger in scope.  (Tejpal is also the founder of the Indian news magazine Tehelka.)  It does have a damn reader’s guide but I am not certain why.  I realize however that I must read the Mahabharata and the Gita.  One hopes there are versions for each in the category of “For Idiots”.

Because I have Lubavitchers as close friends and know their daughters from birth to their marriages and children, Mystics, Mavericks and Merrymakers by Stephanie Levine was truly a joy and allowed me to answer questions I would not feel comfortable asking even these women so close to me. Within this community; so many personalities and viewpoints. Much like the six girls of my friend.  I saw each one in the profiles and it added to the pleasure of this book.  Well cited and indexed (I love indices) and within the cites – other titles to explore

Fire and Fury remains infuriating.  And still best in small servings. Looking forward to picking up yet another look at the man In the White House as measured by over two dozen mental health pros. And no, I did not watch the SOTU.

 

Comments welcome.  Share.  Thanks

 

  • *I read Slumdog as “Q&A” before it was renamed