Reading John Connolly

I just finished an ARC of John Connolly’s latest Charlie Parker novel, The Wolf in Winter (review to follow soon).  There are many series that I love and anxiously await the next installment but Connolly’s Charlie Parker series is anticipation on an entirely different level.  The closest I can come to describing it is a child at Christmas.  I can’t wait for it to get here but it is over too quickly.

When I received the ARC from the publisher I put aside Terry Brooks’ The Measure of Magic, not because it was unenjoyable but because I just couldn’t wait to read more Charlie Parker.  After I finished The Wolf in Winter I was prepared pick up on The Measure of Magic, but I found myself wanting more John Connolly.  I was thinking about re-reading the Charlie Parker series, but then I found there was one of his works I had not yet read, Bad Men. While it is not in the Charlie Parker series, he is mentioned.  There is a certain atmosphere to all of Connolly’s books and picking up one of his books feels like slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes.  I stopped by the library and picked up Bad Men this afternoon and I am starting it tonight as soon as I put the kids to bed.  I’ll pick back up The Measure of Magic once I satisfy by Connolly itch.  

Halloween Reading

Halloween is right around the corner and I have put together some of my favorite October reads. While some are obviously horror/scary reads other are more subtle but put me in an autumn frame of mind when I think about them.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I will never forgot the first time I read The Historian.  From the moment I read the words “to My dear and unfortunate successor”, I was hooked. I would list The Historian in my top 20 favorite books. Based on the reviews it is one of those that people either loved or hated.  I loved the feel of the book.  The musty libraries, that feeling of someone looking over your shoulder and turning to find that no one is there.  The Historian has great atmosphere and is the perfect read for an October evening.

The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

I have read The House With a Clock in Its Walls nearly every Halloween since I was a child.  If I were to associate any one book from childhood it would be this one.  I fell in love with the unlikely hero, Louis Barnavelt, because, as a child, I could relate to him.  Last year, during the week of Halloween, I read it to my daughter and it has become one of her favorites too.  One of the things first first drew me to the book were the illustrations.  The book was illustrated by Edward Gorey and I can recognize his work on sight and immediately think of The House With a Clock in Its Walls.

Let The Right One In by John AjVide Lindqvist

Let The Right One In is the most unique vampire book I have ever read.  It is horrifying and gruesome, but at the same time sweet and heartbreaking.  It was made into a movie and originally released in Sweden and later in the U.S. under the title Let Me In.  I found I enjoyed the Swedish version better as it stayed more true to the book, but the casting in the U.S. version was stellar. Lindqvist is billed as the Swedish Stephen King and rightly so, because this book gets under your skin.  In all my reading I do not think I have read a vampire more terrifying than Eli.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is in my top 10 reads of all time.  I fell in love with this book during the opening lines.  While this book is not horror, or even very scary, it puts me in a Halloween/autumn frame of mind.  If Neil Gaiman were to write “Romeo and Juliet” it would be something like The Night Circus.  The mysterious circus that appears only for a short while and then disappears without a trace, the doomed lovers, and their rival fathers, all of these put together make for an unforgettable tale.  I have bought several different copies just for the different cover art, which is so striking and unique and perfectly captures the essence of the book.

The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

I cannot read The Vampire Lestat without immediately reading The Queen of the Damned.  The two flow perfectly together into one story.  I read these in October at least once every few years and never get tired of the outrageous Lestat.

There you are, gentle readers, a few of my Halloween favorites.  What books do you turn to when the nights grow colder and the leafless trees cast strange shadows about?  Happy reading!

Supporting Authors Through the Library

I love my local public library.  I frequent my local library more than any other place in the city.  I drop by the local branch several times a week to pick up books I have reserved and do a quick browse on my way home from work.  Saturday’s are special though, it is the one day of the week I go to just browse.  I grew up in a small town and the closest library was one town over.  My mother used to drop me off there while she ran her errands and did the grocery shopping.  That tradition has carried over into my adult life as well.  Most Saturday’s include a trip to the library where I leave with a stack of books.   It is the best bookstore in the world because everything is free.

I love supporting authors.  Without these people that create such fantastic and magical places, the world would be dimmer, a hollow place.  They inject brightness and color to the humdrum of life and without them, well let’s just say that I would not like to think of a world without them.  Therefore, I try to support them whenever I can. I have shelves upon shelves of books yet to be read and I continue to add to them weekly. I try to show my support by buying their books, talking about them, and blogging about them. One other way to support them is through your public library.  One of your favorite authors has a new book coming out?  Ask your library to order a copy, even if you own one yourself.  The new arrival section is a great way for people to find new authors and  I can’t tell you the number of great books I found while perusing it, ones that I might not have bought otherwise.  This is how I found Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind.

Most libraries have a presence online and allow you browse the stacks virtually and request books.  There is usually a place to suggest a new book.  Suggest all formats; hardcover/softcover, ebook, and audiobook.  Typically when I see a new book release, I always check the to see if the library has a copy, and if not I suggest it, even if I own the title. I like going into the library and seeing a book that I suggested in the new arrival section. It is small thing, I know, but I like to spread the joy of reading to others, and give a signal boost to the authors as well.

It is Saturday, how about a trip to the library?  You’ll never know what you’ll find.

For the Love of Audiobooks

I am a longtime fan of audiobooks.  I have a 30 minute commute oneway and usually listen to an audiobook on the drive so at a minimum I am getting about an hours worth of “reading” time.  Lately I have been increasing my listening time during slow moments at work when I am performing some mindless task that does not require intense concentration.  I also listen to them when washing dishes, mowing the lawn, and washing the car, etc.  There are some days that I have gotten as much as 8 hours of listening time. I have noticed that many times events from the story stick with me much longer than when I read the book.  This is not always the case and may have more to do with a really good narrator than my reading comprehension.

A good narrator can make or break the audio experience for me.  Some of my favorite narrators are Nick Podhel (The Name of the Wind), Marc Thompson (Star Wars), Jim Dale (Harry Potter series) and Luke Daniels (The Iron Druid series).  I also really enjoy when the author reads their own work.  Neil Gaiman comes to mind with his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I moved back and forth between the physical book and audiobook and found the audio experience much more enjoyable.  Neil poured himself into the book and made it come alive.  I enjoyed it so much that I went back and listened to the audiobook again in its entirety.

I get most of my audiobooks from Audible and listen to them on my iPhone, but I get a fair number of them at my local library through Overdrive.  I can download the audiobook straight to my iPhone for up to 3 weeks.  I used to listen to audiobooks on CD but with the rise the rise of MP3 players and smartphones I quickly made the switch.  There is nothing more frustrating than being the the middle of an audiobook and having to switch CDs only to find they are out of order.  I have spoiled many a book by accidently putting in the wrong CD when I was not paying attention.

Some of my recent “reads” are NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, read by Kate Mulgrew, Feast of Souls and Wings of Wrath by C.S. Friedman (both books in her amazing Magister series), read by Elisabeth Rodgers.  All three of these were amazing and made even better by the fantastic narration.

There are also some great audiobook review sites out there.  My favorite is The Guilded Earlobe.  I enjoy his style of reviewing.  He not only talks about his thoughts on the book but also of the audio presentation itself.

If you have never listened to an audiobook give it a try.  It can be an amazing experience.