Thursday, January 25, 2007

The New Spy Who Loved Me

For years Camellia has avoided capture. Working behind the scenes and using whatever means necessary to shake up the establishment, she's been helping the descendants of disavowed women reclaim their birthright. But when she falls into the arms of an uncompromising spy, she may very well have met her match.

Melody Knight’s "In Trysts" (www.melodyknight.com), published December 2006 by Linden Bay Romance, is a must read for thriller fans and romance readers alike. The book is the author's nineteenth published novel, but her first passion piece. Years of science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing offer an edge to this fast-paced romantic thriller.

Watch out, "Casino Royale". New Zealand knows how to make great movies, and "In Trysts" may be next.

Excerpt:
He could tell from her moves that she pictured herself as a ferocious feline. Now, as she wriggled, he could have told her how wrong she was. He was the feline, the cat, the predator. She was fragile, fighting, like some fluffed-up chick in her ridiculously bright plumage. And he was about to eat her.
He pulled her in, close, her arms pinned between them. She butted him with her head, right in the chin, so his teeth clacked together.
Dammit!
Jake locked his fingers in her hair, and tilted her back, to see her face.
Experience told him she’d do anything—say anything now—to save herself.
It wasn’t the message in her eyes.
Too proud to use him...too proud to be used. Experience also told him he’d be a fool to read her that way. This was no time for whimsy.
But there was no doubt she was terrified, and didn’t know how to end this. Jake did. He wrapped his arms around her, and tilted her head back, fingers still trapped in her hair, so she couldn’t slam him any more.
He was still within the bounds…nothing overstepped...yet. It was like watching himself from without. He could’ve stopped what came next…told himself to stop what came next...but didn’t.
He lowered his lips, ever so slowly...to hers.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gretkowska, Grochola, Chmielewska - The World of Polish Books

I don’t know what it is about Polish books, but I seem to love them regardless of their genre, style and themes. I’ve just finished two chick lits (which I don’t bother reading in English), an autobiography (I never ever read non fiction if I can help it), and now I’m into a stream of consciousness diary of a writer (another one of my pet hates when it’s, oh, say, by James Joyce).

The chick lits are about intelligent women (I wrote about that at length last year, the difference between an intelligent heroine and an irritating one).

The autobiography is of a writer of humorous murder mysteries. I’ve read all her books and even though she doesn’t know me from a bar of chocolate, I regard her as a friend, so reading her autobiography is kind of like reading her blog.

The stream of consciousness diary? Hmmm. It’s probably because I identify with the writer. She’s a 38-year old whose brilliantly-crafted books don’t sell (are you beginning to see the resemblance?). Her prose is usually poetic: “I’m savouring the wine and the heat. The one is melting into the other. A transfiguration of taste into torture. I close my eyes to prevent them from evaporating. The trees here, even ordinary plantations, are works of art. Their green is mixed with the blue of the sea: Tuscany has united with the sky”... unless it is vulgar: “A woman is a man’s punishment for jerking off.”

She loves shocking the public with very explicit comments about sexuality. She’s scared of the darkness and the enclosed-ness of movie theatres, she’s happy that her beautiful wooden house doesn’t have mice.

She’s a mother of an adored toddler girl and is scared to fall pregnant again “in case it’s a boy”. Every night, she breathes in the scent of her daughter’s hair and knows without a doubt that: “I gave her life and so in exchange I owe to her to sacrifice my own”.

A heady mixture of poetry, life’s truths and shocking offensiveness.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Eureka

Yes, I’m still reading. Another Nicci French thriller at the moment, interlacing it with the slow poetic (and as yet not engaging) “Alejento Blue”. A quick scan through the reviews on the Internet confirms my suspicions: “Alejento Blue” is a second novel, rushed out hot on the heels of its good predecessor. The language is pretty, so I’ll give it another chance, but the topics introduced so far (extreme poverty and the communist movement in Portugal) don’t really excite me nearly as much as beads did.

(You don’t know the bead story? Well, halfway through last year, I was tasked with writing 6,000-10,000 words about a bead shop. Woe was me! I didn’t know the first thing about beads, and I had no idea how to thread them into a story. I spent a month reading everything I could get my hands on that was vaguely bead-related... yes, yes, the first cardinal sin of any procrastinating writer: over-research... but I digress. Suffice to say that I got fired up about the topic and you can read the result in “Murder @ a Little Bead Shop”: http://echelonpress.netfirms.com/Echelon/nfoscomm/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=81&products_id=399&osCsid=26e0fcb6024db49efa767acfdd5f99a0.)

So anyway. While putting off “Alejento Blue”, I started watching a SciFi mini-series, “Eureka”. It’s fun, and the episodes just keep getting better. The SciFi component is very hand-wavy (so suspend your knowledge as well as your disbelief), but the setting and the characters are way cool.

Now, here’s hoping that the kids go to bed early tonight, so that I can watch another instalment.

Huh, what was that? What “Alejento Blue”?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Between, Georgia

Possibly not as good as her stunningly superb Gods in Alabama, Between, Georgia (Joshilyn Jackson, Warner Books 2006) is nevertheless a very worthy read. You get to love the protagonists and hate their enemies. You get immersed in a world of no sound and no sight, the world that belongs to the sufferers of the Usher syndrome, but it’s a world of love and coping and survival, not a world of the handicapped. You get to experience the most unique love story of all: that between a mother and an adopted child. And you get a tasty dose of the South.

The only error I feel the writer may have made was to begin with a back flash - which, although fundamental to the story, didn’t allow us to experience the narrator’s personality. Once you get through the first chapter, though, you don’t want to stop reading.

I’m on holiday at the moment and neglecting my own writing in favour of reading other people’s fiction. The other book I managed to finish lately (between watching Casino Royale and The Queen, both, incidentally, highly enjoyable) is another Nicci French, The Memory Game. I really liked this one, even though the twist was fairly predictable and the protagonist a smoker. I now have a whole pile of books by the same author duo, and I’ll get onto them as soon as I’ve given my book club read a chance. Something like Alentejo Blues... no idea....