Friday, May 22, 2009

Reading Mischief

One thing you do when you discover a great book is to pass it along. Since you all were kind enough to recommend some great titles to me, I wanted to do the same by giving away one of the books from my Instant TBR. There were a bunch of great reads in that pile, but when I considered which book I most wanted to share, the one that kept shouting MeMeMe was the one by the author who earned a debut spot on my keeper shelf: The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark.

I've already reported on what I thought of the story, but there's a bit more to it than that. The writing is gorgeous and smart without being pretentious or overly-academic. I felt immersed in Luciano's world, which hasn't been around for 500+ years, and the author breathed life into the era without constant dropping history info dumps on my head. Everything was quite frankly presented -- even the most unsavory aspects of existing in fifteenth-century Venice -- but it never pushed me out of the story. It actually brought back some wonderful memories; every time Luciano and Chef Ferrero worked together in the kitchen, I was seventeen years old again and back in my mom's kitchen, watching my dad cook (if you're looking for more concrete details, PK posted an excellent overview of the story here.)

This novel also reminded me of what it once meant to create the physical book; the sort of art that is almost disappeared altogether from Publishing. It's a lovely book to see, from the gorgeous cover art to the unique end papers. Hardcovers today are mass-produced with cheap materials; most fall apart after only a few years (and I own 160-year-old books that are holding together better than hardcovers I bought ten years ago, so I'm watching this happen in my own collection.) I'm sure this one will be no different, but it gave the illusion of being a novel made by more caring hands, and that was a delightful little fantasy.

If you'd like a chance to check out Ms. Newmark's novel for yourself, in comments to this post, name an author or book you read only because a friend recommended it (or if you have very quiet friends, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Saturday, May 23, 2009. I'll draw three names at random from everyone who participates, and send the winners an unsigned hardcover copy of The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

47 comments:

  1. The perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    And Dune

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  2. My best friend recommended I read Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I dragged my feet and my boyfriend borrowed the books in the meantime. He came back and told me I HAD to read their books (American Gods and Guards! Guards! respectively), and because of that I discovered two of my favorite authors ever. :)

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  3. Kristen2:08 AM

    You recommended Patricia Briggs to me and now I can't devour her writings fast enough.

    Since you've shared so many authors that now sit on my keeper shelf, I've turned around and shared with my friends.

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  4. My sister in law insisted that I read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel by Susannah Clark. I thought it could have been better edited from three down to one book, but a clever and interesting read nonetheless.

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  5. my brother recommended David Gemmell and Terry Pratchett.

    I have enjoyed many books by both authors since picking up the first one.

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  6. One of my online friends not only recommended but gifted me with AIR by Geoff Ryman.

    Ref: Book of Unholy Mischief
    I LOVE that cover! That drew me in immediately.

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  7. I agree 100%, they just don't make books like they used too. In my opinion some books are to be handed down like heirlooms. Great writing usually lasts forever, and there is nothing I like to do more, then introduce my kids to some of the Grand Masters of the past.

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  8. I don't know if this will get me tossed out of the competition or not, but my bff (a non-reader) read all of the Twilight books and recommended them to me. I never would have read them otherwise.

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  9. When you gave your mini book reports, The Book of Unholy Mischief was the one that drew me in and I immediately put it on my wish list. Haven't got a copy yet, though. ;-)

    I borrowed a friend's copy of Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card. I liked it so much I bought my own.

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  10. I love historical novels. ;)

    I read my first Joshilyn Jackson novel because Rosina Lippi sent it to me, and haven't looked back.

    (Working in an auction house, I'd be curious which old books you have! I got to sing from an original edition of Mozart's Vedrai Carino before a sale once. Bliss.)

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  11. A good friend gave me a copy of Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins for my birthday. I was pleasantly surprised when I read it, and have recommended it several times.

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  12. I started reading the Dresden Files series only because a friend recommended it and now I am hooked!

    DiDi

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  13. This intrigued me when you mentioned it before. It's been a long time since I read a historical I really enjoyed.

    A book I never would've known about without a recommendation; Vertical Run by Joseph Garber. It's not new, but it's intense.

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  14. The book ‘Bridge of Birds’ by Barry Hughart was recommended to me by several people at a time when I was taking a lot of classes and had a huge amount of non-fiction reading to plow through. One particular friend was relentless about matchmaking readers to book. She was absolutely convinced I’d love Bridge of Birds, and began a scheme of nudging me every 3 months. Eventually I found time to fit popular fiction back into my schedule, and of course I loved it.

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  15. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez.

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  16. Most of my recent buys have been recommends from people I only know online, and there are so many of them, I can't remember who recommended what. Thanks to my online friends I discovered Jim Butcher and Anton Stroud, Monica McCarty and Natalie Collins, Rachel Vincent and Lynsay Sands... Heh. I could go on, but just throw my name in the hat.

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  17. Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher :)

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  18. Jonathan10:21 AM

    Hmm... I have read all the books by S.L. Viehl because a friend recommended Stardoc. :-)

    Jonathan

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  19. "Surrender" by Pamela Clare.

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  20. A good friend who read everythinbg in sight recommended A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell. Unforgettable.

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  21. I read Twilight as part of a "reading exchange" with my best friend. I think we both won, she got to read Robin McKinley's Sunshine and I got her to read Robin McKinley's Sunshine. :-)

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  22. Some years back, a work friend recommended The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I didn't think it was my kinda thing, but she said "I know you, this will mean something to you". She was right. That book changed how I look at my life. With so much going on in the world today, there are times when passages from The Handmaid's Tale come back to haunt me as if a warning. I recommend it to everyone.

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  23. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Connie Willis was recommended to me and I had never read her before.

    Regards, Ruth

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  24. Not so much a friend, as almost everyone I knew, was raving about The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. So I bought it.

    The rest is not history.

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  25. A friend gave me a copy of 'Hyperion' by Dan Simmons and told me I'd love it. I put off reading it because the cover was so crappy...
    Well, you know that old saying - it's true. I ran out and bought all that authors other books, and got my sons hooked on him too.

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  26. The most recent book that fits this description is The Housekeeper and the Professor.

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  27. Lynn, Just wanted to thank you for sharing *Writing the Life Poetic* with Jess! With gratitude, Sage

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  28. My friends are "quiet," Lynn. I do more reading than they do, so I will just toss my name in the hat!

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  29. The Rosetti Letter is a novel that was memorable and unique.

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  30. Your review is especially interesting because this book surfaced 18 months ago when she threw a "virtual book launch party" for her self-published book "Bones of the Dead."The party was so successful that it drew the attention of a publisher.

    I wondered if she had the goods, and it looks like she does.

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  31. Oh, I forgot your rules. Sorry.

    For me, Terry Pratchett was recommended to me by the members of the Straight Dope Message Board. They were so emphatic about him that, after my first attempt to read him didn't take, I tried again. Thirty bought books later, I'm still reading his works, and marveling at the quality of his prose.

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  32. This year my reading has altered and lucky for me I found an author whose books are so enchanting. The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly I could barely put aside.

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  33. Adele Dawn3:43 PM

    "Hogfather" by Terry Pratchett was my introduction to that author. And once it was recommended and read, I had to own his others.

    I just finished reading "Bridge of Birds" by B. Hughart, also a recommend and it was fantastic. Sometimes some of the best books I read are those recommended to me by others.

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  34. I'm usually the one giving the recommendations, not the one getting them, so I'll just put my name in the hat.

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  35. The Curse of Chalion by Bujold. Normally not my cup of tea, but I loved the series.

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  36. A friend gave me four books by Robin Hobb. :)

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  37. I started reading Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series due to a recommendation. I'm on my fifth or sixth Taltos novel now.

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  38. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. I probably wouldn't have read it without the recommendation, but it's a great book, with very memorable characters.

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  39. I read How Not to Write a Novel based on a recommendation. It has my kind of humor throughout and I spent a lot of time laughing.

    At the end of a stressful day, I needed it...especially when it (re)taught me not to take myself too seriously. Sometimes I need to remember to just have fun.

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  40. A long-time friend recommended the YA fantasy novel ELSEWHERE by Gabrielle Zevin to me, and I'm very grateful because I LOVED it and like to recommend it to others.

    THE BOOK OF UNHOLY MISCHIEF sounds excellent, and I love the cover! Thanks for that recommendation, Lynn.

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  41. I just finished "The Book of Illusions" by Paul Auster (loaned to me by my neighbor). What a page-turner! A college professor is drowning in grief after the death of his wife and 2 sons in a plane crash. One night, he becomes fascinated by a clip on late-night TV featuring an almost unknown silent-film comic who vanished without a trace at the start of a promising career. The book follows the professor as he searches for anything related to the man and his career -- leading to some very shocking revelations.
    I can't wait to read other books by this author!

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  42. One of my very best friends recommended (raved about) 'In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex' by Nathaniel Philbrick. He said it was a fascinating account of the events behind the novel 'Moby Dick'. It took me two years to actually start reading the book, and halfway through I lost interest. I picked it up again two years later and forced myself to finish it. It definitely misses my TBR or WRA (Will Read Again) pile, but what was written tells much about the author, what he believes, and how his perceptions and studies have skewed his telling of the tale. The tale itself is presented more as a documentary than an unfettered discourse on what happened on the Essex; many authorial interruptions. To sum up, I thought it would be good based upon the recommendation, but it wasn't.

    In the complete obverse, my daughter recommended 'Twilight' by Stephanie Meyer. I have live too close to Salt Lake City to not be swayed by my feelings about Mormons and actually laughed when my daughter told me that the book was written a Mormon. That a Mormon wrote a book about love and Vampires was completely beyond my grasp; it was the 'perfect storm' of things that would wind up in a poor man's woodburner. On the other hand, it did not disconcert me that Mormons (the ones who gave themselves at least a smidge of leeway) embraced this author, much in the same way that Christians dubbed Orson Scott Card their F/SF savior. Much more disconcerting, though, is the fact that I blew through the book in a day, I liked it, and I wanted to read the next. Quite a bit of what happened was telegraphed, but I'm a sucker sometimes. BTW, the movie, which I watched shortly after reading the book, sucked, much in the same way that 'The Davinci Code' movie sucked. My daughter agreed.

    So, one can never tell about the recommendation of a friend/relative. It still comes down to personal tastes.

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  43. I give recommendations more often than receive them LOL

    Just tossing my name in the hat.

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  44. A friend recommended Olivia Parker's At the Bride Ball Hunt.

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  45. Sci-fi and fantasy are my staples, so when a friend pressed "Communism is Great!" into my hands, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.

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  46. Dark Prince and Dark Desire by Christine Feehan.

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  47. Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee. My friend Denise recommended her to me. I started with The Mistress of Spices. Just wonderful. She has a new book out, I believe it's called Sister of My Heart. also wonderful.

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