Chocolat by Joanne Harris

My friend Tracy recommended the book Chocolat by Jeanne Harris, and Mr. Coffee kindly went out and bought it for me while I was in the hospital. I raced through it, because it is just that good. I loved that it was a joyous book and full of surprises. I kept thinking that I knew what was going to happen, fearing what was to come, and then – something else happened. I loved that the romance in it isn’t a romance, because frankly, I find that can be a bit cheap and easy in otherwise complex books. And the “magic” in it is the magic of kindness…and good food.

The sequel, The Girl with no Shadow, was a good book but I didn’t enjoy it half as much as Chocolat nor did I find it as surprising. It’s probably the first sequel I have read that was influenced by the movie ~ making the romance much as it was in the movie and noting the cayenne pepper in the chocolate (which is discussed in the movie but not the novel Chocolat, though to be fair, it may have been in one of Harris’s two cookbooks). It is much darker, the witchcraft in it is indeed witchcraft, and though it’s still quite a good book, it was the boundless joy of Chocolat that was so refreshing. All that said, there was one loose end in the sequel that, as a parent, I was extremely pleased to see tied (I won’t say what, in case you want to read this book ~ I’ll preserve the surprises for you).

I recently finished a third Joanne Harris novel – a dark murderous one called Gentlemen and Players. It too surprised me. Enough, in fact, that I may reread it to see just where I was misled!

If you enjoy a good mystery, I recommend Joanne Harris. And if you’ve read these books, what did you think?

(I could only get the first link to work today; the baby ate my brain and it’s slow in growing back)
Ahhhh, links fixed! Annnnd “good boy” changed to what is should be “good BOOK.” Thank you, Brain!

Geek Love

I recently finished re-reading “Geek Love” by Katherine Dunn.  This is one amazing novel.  It is about a family of circus freaks, intentionally “created” by their geek Mom and circus barker/owner Dad, who decided the best “gift” they could give their children was the ability to make a living by just being themselves.

By turning the ways we think about beauty and familial (particularly parental) approval on it’s head, this book lays bare family dynamics, and how they can hurt or heal (or destroy or create) a family.  The impact on the rest of the world is in there too..

Remarkable book.  This is my fourth time reading it (in about 15 years).  It’s a different books for me as I grow older.  I strongly recommend it – but if you like to eat meals and read, as I sometimes enjoy doing, you might want to just sit with coffee (or your beverage of choice) on the first go.

I get the nicest rejection letters – but…Passage!

I get the nicest rejection letters.  Usually, these letters say nice things about my stories and ask to see more.  But the thing is, still rejection letters.  SO, just in case you missed it, I am posting a link to my first published short story (eMuse, December 08).  It was wonderful to have an encouraging letter from an editor who wanted to publish my work.  Here it is (I am db mcneill):

Sadly Emuse shut down, so the old link no longer works.  I republished this story on my blog here.