Monday, February 13, 2012

You Had Me With Chapter One

Even though I have a stack of to-be read books, I decided to borrow a book for my Kindle from the library. (Mostly because I was sick and a lot of my to-be reads are books written by people I know and I don’t want to read their books with “sick brain.”)

I was looking for a thriller. I like the slow burn type, where the tension permeates and builds on every page even as the violence hangs on the periphery, waiting to pounce. (A five star example is Sister by Rosamund Lupton.) But being that I had sick brain that is not the type of book I borrowed. By mistake, I ended up borrowing a cozy, i.e. a mystery where the violence takes place off stage. I like mysteries, but aside from Agatha Christie, I don’t like cozies. Especially cozies that try to be funny. I’ve tried to read several of them, but they strike me as trying too hard, like a faux Noel Coward play that doesn’t quite hit the arch irony that undercuts the words. And so I never finish them.

Anyway, I downloaded the book and read the first two chapters. And I realized that it was a “funny” cozy, but I didn’t return it. I was hooked. And I read the entire book in less than 24 hours.

I’m a strong believer in reading outside your genres (those that you normally write or choose to read). I think they’re great opportunities, at least for me, to discover what it is that will pull me through a book in a genre that I don’t normally read. BTW, the book is Sick of Shadows by Sharyn McCrumb. What kept me in this book when I could’ve easily returned it and gotten another book from the comfort of my couch was that I fell in love with the main character. She had a witty, sardonic voice, which sometimes annoys me if the character uses everyone else as a butt of their own private jokes. But in this case, the author acknowledges that arrogance and undercuts it by showing the character’s own weaknesses and having her acknowledge her own failings. Clever. I really liked the MC’s relationship with her brother, who doesn’t even appear until the end of the book. The author establishes the relationship with letters that the MC writes, which the brother doesn’t answer—though the MC sometimes “answers” for him along the lines of “I know you’ll say...” and thus establishes the missing brother, his relationship with the MC, and his character—he loves his sister but hates weird family obligations. Also clever.

The bottomline: Will I read the next book in the Elizabeth MacPherson series? Probably. I really want to find out if Elizabeth falls for Milo, the hot archaeology grad student. And I need to know if Elizabeth will marry first and claim the inheritance of her crazed aunt, who promised her fortune to whomever of her nephews and nieces marries first. And you’ve got to love a series with a crazed aunt. As PG Wodehouse says, “It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.”


  1. I almost never read Non-Fiction, but since joining a book club I have been surprised how many of them I actually really enjoy.

    Getting books from the library is definitely a plus because then I don't have to feel like I wasted money if it wasn't my cup of tea.

  2. I love when books surprise you like that! I totally agree that reading outside our genres can be great learning experiences. Plus, I think they make nice breaks. Sometimes, I just need to get away from the conventions and tropes of one genre so that the whole thing doesn't get stale.

  3. Teeheehee...hope you're feeling better my little pretty...have another cup of my special tea to help soothe you...settle back and read yourself to a last deep sleep.... (from your aunt with the cloven hoof popping out :>) )

    (Glad you found a book to enjoy and hope you and your entire family quickly get feeling great!)

  4. Aunt Judy,

    You couldn't have a cloven hoof if you tried. Love you.

  5. I read outside my genre, but not enough. Hopefully this year I will. :)

  6. Reading outside my genre is no problem since so much interests me. I like the Kindle's ability to sample the 1st three chapters for free of any book. Lovely blog you have, Roland

  7. I think it's interesting that the main thing that pulled you through another genre was the character. No matter what plot structure your genre trends towards, you'll always need worthwhile characters for a worthwhile read.