Reading Fun

Readers Are Just Awesome People!

I read this article and just had to pass along the link. It talks about the benefits of being a reader, not just for ourselves but for those around us. And by readers I mean those people who when they lift their eyes from the page need a few seconds to adjust to the reality they have just returned to.

This link leads to an Elite Daily article on why Readers are the best people to fall in love. The article discusses the psychological research that finds readers to be more empathetic and capable of understanding than non-readers. Have a look yourself. Enjoy!

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Authors I Love, Books I Love

Playing Favorites

I was on a fellow author’s website the other day and under his bio he had a list of his favorites: Favorite color, favorite drink, etc.  I thought that was a good idea.  But I decided to limit mine to favorite books.

Favorite Author:  Tie: James Rollins and JD Robb

Favorite Sci FI Book:  Ender’s Game by Scott Oswald Card

Favorite Action AdventureJurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Favorite Romance:   A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

Favorite Horror:  Cabinet of Curiosities by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston (not sure it belongs here but that’s what popped into my head)

Favorite Book I was Required to Read:  I’m completely blank on this one.

Favorite Kid Book:  But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton

Favorite Comic Strip:  Calvin and Hobbes

Favorite Kids Series(Read as an Adult):   Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Favorites Kid Series (Read as a Child): The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

Favorite Mind Blowing Book:  The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Favorite Food:  Hamburger (Just seeing if you’re paying attention.)

Favorite Guilty Pleasure Series:  The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers

Favorite Genre:  Thriller

As I look over my list, I agree with each statement.  Yet, I also realize that not one of the books by my favorite authors can be found in any of the above categories.   But Rollins and Robb are, without a doubt, my favorite authors. Whenever I see their name on a book, I pick it up without question.  Sometimes I don’t even bother reading the description before purchasing it.

So why weren’t my favorite authors responsible for my favorites reads? Because I assume I’m going to enjoy whatever they publish. My favorites, on the other hand, were a unique occurrence. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the book as much as I did.

I’ve read other books by those authors but they don’t grab me the same way. Even though they wrote one of my favorite books, I am not a guaranteed customer for their next publication. I’d read the blurb and decide if it worked for me. So being thrilled by their book was a happy surprise, but not the beginning of a life long love of all the author’s works.

There was some recent research on best sellers that somewhat backs that up. The authors that are the most successful are those with a dedicated readership who publish regularly. And most of them do not dominate the number one spot for weeks and weeks. They do however make the list of the top sellers year after year.

For others, they are a bit of a one hit wonder. By the next year, they are off the list.

Anybody else find their favorites coming from their non-favorite authors? Feel free to comment below.  🙂

Authors I Love, Books I Love

Humanity in Ruins

I drove with the family down to visit other family this past weekend.  Six hours each way – I either really love my family or am completely susceptible to Mom guilt.  The jury is still out as to which it is. 🙂

Luckily, I had the third installment of Dan Wells Partial series to keep me company.  For those who are unfamiliar with the trilogy, Partials are biological robot/soldiers created to aid humanity.  But humanity, after using them to fight their wars, treats them like second-class citizens even though they have feelings, minds of their own, etc.  So of course, they rebel against humanity.

When the trilogy begins, humanity is down to thirty-five thousand, while the Partials number at 500,000.    But both numbers are dwindling down due to an expiration date for the partials and disease for the humans.

Ruins is the struggle of individuals on each side to fight their own nature and the distrust of those around them to do the right thing.  And to have faith in the people/robots they shouldn’t.

This is my kind of book.  Impossible odds.  Little to no chance of survival, but doing to right thing anyway.  I know, it sounds corny.  But I like the books that show us the best sides of human nature, er human and partial nature.

So if you are looking for a good quick read, pick it up!

 

Authors I Love, Books I Love

It’s As if You’re One of the Family : The Accused by Lisa Scotoline

I first read Lisa Scotoline years and years ago, when I was really into legal thrillers. Scotoline has a series based around an all female law firm called Rosato and Associates. Scotolines last Rosato et al., outing was back in 2010. She’s done a few standalone’s in between. But, to be honest, they never really appealed to me. (Sorry, Lisa.) But now she’s back with another Rosato firm book, The Accused, with my favorite lead, Mary DiNunzio.

Mary was first introduced in 2000 in Everywhere that Mary Went. And there is something completely appealing about her. Maybe it’s my Catholic School upbringing , but Mary’s Catholic guilt rang true. Her very Italian parents, their concern, their over involvement in her life, albeit in the most loving way possible, all make you smile. They are a warm hug wrapped around a mystery.

And then there are the Tony’s. Mary has these three friends of her father’s, age seventy and up, who are all named Tony and just want to help. Pigeon Tony, Tony Two Feet, and Tony from Down the Block, are such great entertaining characters. Maybe it’s growing up on Long Island where I was exposed to a great deal of Italian culture, which is a rapid departure from the Scottish culture I experienced in my own home, but I recognized these guys too.

When you read these books, the mystery is engaging, but it’s the characters that make you feel like you’re part of the family. Scotoline does a great job of drawing you in and keeping you there. You care about her characters and you watch how much the other characters care about one another. Who wouldn’t root for someone the three Tony’s care so much about?

The story this time around revolves around a decades old mystery that a thirteen-year-old girl wants solve. But here’s the rub: the victim was her sister and she believes the man sent to prison for her murder is innocent.

I picked The Accused up thinking, well this should be all right. But I’d forgotten how much I enjoy this series. I ended up reading longer than I planned and later than I planned. I finished the book in two days. It was great. Another lost in a book moment. 🙂

Books I Love

Diagnosing Great Books: What Makes a Book Stay With You

So, I was thinking about books the other day and my absolute love of them. Now I have been a huge reader since, well, since Dr. Seuss. But there is that turning point in a readers life when books literally change the way you look at them and the expectations you have for them.

I think that may be why I struggle at times to find a ‘good’ book, never mind a ‘great’ book. I’ve read some incredible ones and it’s difficult then to be okay with a book that’s, well, okay.

So I was trying to pin point those critical books. You know, the ones that made you realize that books could do more than just help you pass the time. Two came immediately to mind, both published back in 1990 when I was a junior in high school. (I will spare you the sad description of crimped hair, purple eye shadow, and white fringed books. Oops, sorry about that.)

Anyway, when I wasn’t holding my breath through a halo of Aqua Net or wistfully sighing over Matt Rosen (name changed to protect me), I was reading incessantly. Yup, a real social animal was I. But I digress. The two books that radically changed my expectations are The Eight by Catherine Neville and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

Jurassic Park is familiar, of course, to one and all. Scientists re-create dinosaurs on an island and unsurprisingly, the dinosaurs break loose, trying to kill everyone on said island. But it’s not just the adventure that pulled me into the story. It was the science. It sounded so possible, providing that ‘what if’ factor. Since then, I have loved books that use science or history to pull us into a ‘what if’ adventure. It stretches your mind and opens your eyes to the possibilities. How can you not love that?

The Eight is probably not as well known, although it was an international bestseller. Ostensibly, The Eight is about a search for a chess set that spans almost two hundred years. But it is a much more complicated, and rich narrative than that. You feel for the characters and each twist and turn, leaves you wanting more. It was that very complexity that created my second expectation for great books.

So, now for a book to be ‘great’ in my mind, it must have that complexity and the ‘what if’ factor. James Rollins usually meets the criteria, as does Carol O’Connell and J.D. Robb. Oh, and of course, Michael Grant’s Gone series. What about you? What or who makes a book ‘great’ in your mind?

Books I Love

It’s Like Your Mom Said, Try It. You Might Like It.

There have been times in my life when I have been desperate, and I mean desperate, for something to read. None of my favorite authors were coming out with anything and nothing on the book shelves looked appealing.

And I needed a book. NEEDED. I was like a junkie needing a fix. (Yes, I know. I have a problem.)

At that moment of desperation, I knew what I had to do: try a book that was outside my comfort zone. Shudder, cringe.

Now if there’s one thing that is almost always guaranteed to have me place a book back on the literal or electronic shelf, it’s a book set in the future. I don’t know why. They whole idea of space suits, laser guns, weird computerized pets, has never appealed to me. Outside my frame of reference, I suppose.

But as I mentioned, I was desperate. I saw that JD Robb (aka Nora Roberts pen name for the ‘In Death’ series) had come out with a new book. Now I’m not big into romances, but this was a thriller/mystery/cop series. Only hold back, it is set in the future. Cue ‘Desperado’ theme song. But I knew what I had to do. So with a heavy heart, I picked up the book and headed to the cash register. (Obviously, this tale comes from a time before e-readers.)

I went home and started reading, not out of interest, but, out of, say it with me, desperation. And I loved it! In fact, after reading that one book, I had to read the rest of the series. And whenever she comes out with a new book, I buy it right away. (In fact, she’s coming out with one next week. Yeah!)

So does this mean I now like futuristic settings? No. (Unless of course their post apocalyptic, but that’s an entirely different post.) It’s just that the ‘In Death’ series is about an extremely damaged female detective who is tough as nails, straight forward, and has a strong sense of right and wrong. How can you not root for that?

And JD intersperses her novels with humor, some great sex scenes, and skilful plots. As for the futuristic stuff, to be honest, I kind of skim over those parts, but sometimes the images make me smile.

So, the next time you’re desperate, take a chance. Read something you’re just not that sure about. You may find it opens the door to whole new batch of books.

So tell me, any ‘desperate’ driven authors you now love?