You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.

I was doing so well on my two resolutions of packing lunches and updating blogs for… two whole weeks!  I’ll come back to it, I swear.

Though I’m slacking on my book reviews (though still reading, reading, reading) I’m trying out a new “page” to keep you posted, and my thoughts fresh, on many of the eating and drinking experiences I’ve had in NYC.

I’d love for you to visit my new “City Imbibing” and let me know your thoughts and if you have any suggestions/recommendations on what else needs to make the list.

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Some authors hide behind their words and author photos, unrecognized by the general public and are happy with that. On the other hand, there are authors who become a celebrity in their own right (and no, I don’t mean the celebrity “memoirs” or, God-forbid, the “books” written by Lauren Conrad or Heidi & Spencer).

Some authors achieve this status through talk show appearances (James Frey, anyone?) while others build a hugely loyal reading fan base.  I think Robert Crais, bestselling crime fiction author, is the latter.

The video you see above is the second author video I’ve worked on, and working with Bob was like working with a seasoned journalist.  You can tell he’s comfortable in front of the camera and gave us so many sound bites to work with, it was hard to keep the video under three minutes!  So Oprah, if you’re reading this, I suggest you have this charismatic and well-written author on your show before you retire.

In other Crais news, his latest Joe Pike novel (you all should know who Joe Pike is, of the sexy tattoos who exudes sex appeal) went on sale yesterday!  You can find THE FIRST RULE at your favorite bookseller nationwide.  It was my first Crais novel, and I’ve since visited his backlist and never been disappointed.

There’s something unique about Crais’s two main characters, Joe Pike and Elvis Cole.  They’re smart and dangerous, but not unemotional.  Though they’re crime books about very bad people (ahem, the Serbian mob – scary), the friendships and relationships depicted go much deeper than the surface, giving these novels a depth beyond the typical title in this genre.

Bob is on tour for several weeks (details) and if you’re anywhere in the vicinity I highly suggest you stop by.  My sister is attending the event in Dayton, OH and I’m going to try to convince her to do a guest post about it.  I know Jen Forbus is driving several hours to the same event (now that is a loyal fan!).

JUST IN: I am not the only one to think of Crais as a leading man!  Check out this new post, “Hot (& Talented) Authors!” – don’t miss the People’s Sexiest Man article they link to as well!

What other authors do you think have achieved a celebrity status and following?

Me in the cold!

Brrrrrrr… I thought moving from Chicago to NYC would be a breeze, since I literally would be escaping the Windy City (yes I realize that refers to politics and not weather, but anyway you look at it Chicago has damn bitter gusts) to the land of a more mild temperate.  But last week Gothamist burst my bubble, reporting that this may be the coldest NYC winter in almost 30 years!  Totally unnecessary, and unappreciated.

I’ve brought out my woolies and curled up next to my radiator (yes, this is also my first experience with a radiator – the little things like thermostats I used to take for granted <sigh>) and have managed to survive this cold snap. While I love paradise, drinks with a straw and my hammock on the beach, sometimes I get bitter at reading about these places when my own surroundings are far different.  So as I avoid beach reading, I wait, along with many others, for the third installment in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST… Not only has this proven to be a fantastically thrilling series, but the fictional weather tends to be more dismal than I’m experiencing – which makes me both selfish and happy.

SNOW ANGELS

Due to this new found love for Scandinavian thrillers, I was doubly triply excited for the recent U.S. debut of SNOW ANGELS by James Thompson, an author out of Finland.  Not only did this novel make my winter seem decidedly less severe (considering 24-hours of darkness, like they have in Finland, tends to put things in perspective) but I found the characters and the setting compelling… and add in the twisting and turning plot and it was overall un-put-downable!

I am unbiased.  For real.  But James is a Putnam author, so instead of giving too complete a review and have you guys think that my having spoken to him on the phone and listened to his nice Finnish accent gives me a clouded opinion, I’ll share those of others (beyond the “MASTERFUL” Michael Connelly quote on the jacket).

Jen Forbus at Jen’s Book Thoughts reviewed SNOW ANGELS and also shared a Q&A with James.  I also direct your reviewing eyes to the thoughtful reviews on Jenn’s Bookshelves and Whimpulsive.  And there are more – if you’d like to share your thoughts on SNOW ANGELS I invite you to leave a link in the comments and I will add you here!

So next time you’re staying in a cold winter night, take my advice and make a hot toddy (yummy & easy: tea *I’ve tried black, lemon, raspberry and mango- all delicious*, lemon juice, cinnamon stick or clover, honey… don’t forget the whiskey!) and escape to Finland with SNOW ANGELS – though you may have to sleep with a nightlight on.

James Thompson

Since I know you’re all dying to know, I’ve successfully brought a healthy lunch in to work three days this week! And since I stayed home sick on Tuesday, that’s actually a 100% success rate. And todayI just zapped leftover Chinese from last night… since I did technically bring it from home, I think I’m going to count that as a “packed lunch” as well – what a way to start the year right!

While I abhor being sick (I really don’t like weakness all that much), it did give me some time to catch up on my reading.  So Tuesday I coughed and hacked my way through Jennifer Weiner’s latest bestseller, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, along with the newly released #1 bestseller from Sue Grafton, U IS FOR UNDERTOW.  Oddly enough, this chick-lit novel and the crime fiction tale shared similarities…

I’ve read every one of Weiner’s novels and I can’t tell you why.  Pressure from society, I believe, because it definitely isn’t due to any overwhelming desire for the characters or relating to the writing.   I enjoyed GOOD IN BED and IN HER SHOES enough to give GOODNIGHT NOBODY a try… But GOODNIGHT NOBODY (and now BEST FRIENDS FOREVER) attempt to tie in a crime with the relationships/bonding/family/other “women issues”, which I find unnecessary.

In BFF, the Chief of Police enters a the house of a suspect and smells her pajamas – yes folks, I am not kidding.  I don’t find that sweet and sexy – I find it creepy. I want the police I read about to be enforcing the law, not skulking around remniscient of the Ohio Police Officer convicted in the eerily similar case of Sarah Jessica Parker’s surrogate!

U IS FOR UNDERTOW was my first Sue Grafton experience (though I launched into the book trustingly, since Pop Culture Nerd had positively reviewed it), though her 21st book.  As I assume you know, Grafton has been working through the alphabet, consistently with Kinsey Millhone as the Private Investigator protagonist.  I enjoyed this trip back to the 1980’s – a time before cell phones and the internet, and relished joining Kinsey in the library as she looked through – gasp – telephone books!

I also find Sue Grafton to be an interesting character herself, as she admits she started writing after dreaming of ways to murder her first husband.  Also, she and fellow bestselling author Robert B. Parker did a little Q&A on each others Amazon pages, which is rather endearing (not to mention I admit I grabbed this book from a box under my desk – always a bonus)!

So next time you find yourself needing a sick day (though I wish you a plethora of help and happiness in the new year), I encourage you to reach for the nearest Grafton, A-U, and give her a try.  I don’t actively dislike Jennifer Weiner – I especially enjoy her on Twitter, but think I need to give up on the reading of her novels as they’re not a match for me.  But I welcome any thoughts you may have.

One of my many resolutions for 2010 is to be more consistent about updating my blog!!  It falls higher on the list than running the elusive 5k I’ve successfully avoided the last five years, but lower on the list than trying to maintain a budget, part of which is packing my lunch vs. eating out (benefits the waistline and the wallet!).

In mid December, it occurred to me that  a mere year had passed since my world was first turned upside down when I was laid off from my advertising gig in Chicago (pink slip rather a symbol of solidarity in the Recession of 2008/2009, yes?).  Was I passionate about the job – No. But it could have been worse and the people there were fabulous and are still my friends today.  After some indecision and stress over uncertainty, the event ultimately propelled me into my dream publishing job, for which I am undoubtedly grateful.

I look back on 2009 with fond memories, including the arrival of my nephew Alton, who has made me realize I may have more maternal feelings than I thought (which still isn’t saying much) and my move to NYC (a city that I’m really starting to appreciate the intoxication when here).

Looking back upon my, eh, totally nerdy book spreadsheet, I realize 2009 has also been a fabulous year for the written word.  I know there are innumerable year-end lists floating around by those far more qualified than me, but just in case anyone is interested in the books that stood out in my eclectic reading list (disclaimer- all were read in 2009, though may have been published in different years):

  • THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett: This book has appeared on many “best of” lists, including the Book of the Year (USA TODAY), #1 chosen by book bloggers (BBAW) and more.  I can’t recommend it highly enough and find it offers a unique ability to immerse the reader in the time and deilect of the courageous women in the story.
  • MY HORIZONTAL LIFE: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler: No literary award winner here, but as I mentioned in my original review, this book had me laughing uncontrollably over Handler’s antics and story telling.  Not G-rated, but not completely smutty either.
  • THE MAN WHO LOVED BOOKS TOO MUCH: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Deception by Allison Hoover Bartlett: I love books about books.  While I tend to shy away from nonfiction, this “cat and mouse tale” set in the world of rare book collecting had me captivated (and seeking the elusive first edition of GONE WITH THE WIND).
  • ACCORDING TO JANE by Marilyn Brant: This novel really struck a chord within me and I found the characters compelling and utterly relatable (full review).  I’ve recently rediscovered my own Sam Blaine (read the book and you’ll understand!) and have found myself frequently thinking fondly of the story.
  • THE BEST OF EVERYTHING by Rona Jaffe: I have attempted to write a full review of this book so many times, but find it impossible to convey my thoughts and feelings.  I think a list of the irresistible attributes are appropriate: Publishing, NYC, girlfriends, relationships, trysts, ambition, books and intertwining lives.

Ok those are my top five in no particular order.  Surprisingly, all women authors (I swear I read men too – JULIET, NAKED, ROUGH COUNTRY and 13 REASONS WHY would all be in my top ten).  Does anyone else have any overlap on their top titles?

Now, back to drinking hot toddies with my roommate as I try to make my sore throat disappear, prepare myself to drift into a peaceful slumber and avoid the potentially bad news I learned today.  I wish you all the best in 2010 and hope to see more of you as I keep up with my resolution to be a better blogger!

Cheers & hugs-

Lydia

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