Monday, February 6, 2012

Light and not-so-light reading

Last week, I was delighted to find a mention of Evening's Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe by Craig Koslofsky, a book I'd been chasing for years, on brainpickings. But it was a case where my reference skills came up short, since when I looked at the pub date, I thought it couldn't be the same author I'd heard on NPR eons ago. That was, until I read the comments from the only Amazon reviewer (at the time, another has been added), who have evidently heard the same radio broadcast and also been looking in the meantime. It's a fascinating book, and quite readable for something from a University Press.

Also over the weekend, I read Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers. I grew up in a household with lots of Ann Rule-esque true crime and Patricia Cornwall, but it had been a while since I had read anything like this. The premise is that the son of a notorious serial killer uses his insight for good. I like my Agatha Christie, where the murders are never too gory and really can't take shows like CSI because of all those bodies. Lyga inserts an extra bloody element with a hemophiliac best friend. I have not slept well since reading all those descriptions of excised digits, frankly. But I also did some lighter reading.

From Retronaut, one of my favorite sites
I also read Paul Yee's Money Boy, something I'd gotten halfway through before Christmas. I am always looking to expand my GLBTQ recs, and I really enjoyed the Toronto setting as well as Ray's interesting immigrant Chinese community. I had stopped before, after Ray was thrown out of his house when his father realizes he's gay from snooping on his websurfing, anxious that Ray would turn to prostitution (he does, but it's rather gentle about it, and he ends up safely and happily at home). It's full of realistic details about hostels, shelters, being robbed, and finding help along the way.

Some of my favorite hours were spent with Melissa Walker's Unbreak My Heart (not yet in WorldCat). It's about a girl spending a summer on a sailing trip with her family, trying to come to grips with a falling out with her life-long best friend. This one will be terrific to suggest for the readers I know who prefer there to be only ONE love interest. And the nautical details are quite fun. And I sat down and wrote about eight pages of plot for my own theoretical YA romance after, so it was quite inspirational.

The other thing I finished wasn't YA, but I do think Sophie Kinsella has some cross-over appeal. I've been a fan since she was publishing as Madeline Wickham, having found her (and Mary Sheepshanks and Sarah Woodhouse) through Rosamunde Pilcher's Bookshelf. I've Got Your Number (coming on Valentine's Day!) is a very contemporary romance-by-phone, and plays with preconceptions about academics, which are quite incisive. 

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