Thursday, November 14, 2013


And the random integer generator says: 2!

Rebecca of Love at First Book will receive a copy of Lolita. That was a surprisingly popular choice on this thread. I wonder if we should suggest a Classics Club Read-Along? It seems to be on a lot of lists.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and especially to those who became followers of my blog. I always find so many great new blogs through this hop.

And, of course, thanks to Judith at leeswammes for hosting the Literary Blog Hop! I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Some of the best reading time I have put in this year has been through my Classics Club list, finally getting to Classics I have somehow missed until now. Some of the books were inspired by The Guardian’s 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read list, but others are lesser known titles from the NYRB Classics imprint. So here’s my Blog Hop idea – why don’t you read along with me?

Here’s how to play: 1) go to my Classics Club list above, and take a look at the titles; 2) follow my blog if you'd like (not required, but very nice); and 3) leave a comment below, including your email address, telling me which book you’d like to read from my Classics Club list. (I’d be surprised if you can’t find one title you’d like to read, but if that’s the case, you can substitute another book from either of the two lists I’ve mentioned, and tell me why you’d rather read that one instead!) Entries close at 11:59 GMT on November 13. At that time I’ll let generate a random integer based on the number of comments I get. And if it’s your number, the book is yours! This is worldwide stop on the Blog Hop, open to anyone in a place where Book Depository or Amazon delivers – $30 limit, but I think all the books on my list can be found for far less!

Thanks, as always, to Judith at leeswammes for hosting this Literary Blog Hop. Good luck, and Happy Hopping!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

FIESTA OF SMOKE by Suzan Still

I love novels about novelists. I love novels about Mexico. I love novels about love. I love novels that are descriptive, written so that other places, people and relationships practically walk off the pages and into my living room. Suzan Still’s Fiesta of Smoke is that kind of novel.

Graduate student Calypso Searcy meets Javier CarteƱa when he accidentally knocks her over, running away from a shoplifting incident. He tracks her down and breaks into her apartment to apologize. This marks the beginning of a love affair that will span decades and borders and marriages and love affairs with other people, as Calypso slowly comes to take on Javier’s cause – social justice for Mexico’s indigenous people – as her own.

Still writes characters I’d like to meet, in circumstances I have trouble imagining. I absolutely love how she brought the unlikely chemistry between Calypso and Javier to life, as when they meet after years and sit next to each other at a jai alai game:

At the point where their bodies met – their hands and arms, tips of their shoulders, their thighs and feet – all along the left side of her body, in fact, there was blissful peace, as if that portion of her flesh, at least, had finally come home to roost.
He leaned into her in that way he always had when they were at odds, of ignoring her and communicating with her at the same time. It was the feeling of utter physical intimacy. She relaxed into this sensation, precious beyond thought. The jai alai games continued below but Calypso was sunk in a sea of both remembrance and immediate awareness. At last, she understood Camus: she was lucid and in ecstacy.
p. 163

What do I not love? Novels that bounce around in time. I’m a chronological kind of girl, and I don’t really enjoy starting at the end or in the middle. And then heading somewhere else. My one quibble about the book was the way it ricocheted between decades and locations and different parts of characters’ lives in a way that I found kind of confusing. And let’s face it, the situation in Mexico – corrupt politicians, paramilitary organizations, unbelievable wealth next to unfathomable poverty – is confusing enough.

In general, though, I loved the book, and would certainly recommend it to lovers of contemporary fiction. The military themes and the precarious situation in Mexico give the book, especially the ending, a bit of the feel of a thriller. I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour, and received a free copy of the book in return for my honest opinion. Thanks to Trish for including me on the tour! Follow this link to see what others had to say about this title.