Books to curl up with: a librarian's musings

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Homesick for Italy

I was born in Italy thanks to the US Army, but left as a small child. So my homesickness is shaped by the "year in /tuscan sun" style books.

A few years ago, Annie Hawes wrote a fun book about she and her sister, Lucy going to Liguria. They go for a "free" Italian vacation paid for by grafting rose bushes. The first book "Extra Virgin" chronicles this adventure and buying a home in the area.

I just finished her second book "Ripe for the Picking". Lucy has gone to Bulgaria to teach English. Now Annie is on her own or is she? Turns out she has gone and fallen in love with Ciccio, who owns a local restaurant. Now she is enveloped into a large exuberant family, originally from Southern Italy. This book is a delight.

I am looking forward to reading "Journey to the South", which is her trip with her fiance and his family back to Calabria.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Dragged kicking and screaming into a better life

After years of being a hit writer and producer for television, Phil Doran has hit that age... the age in which writers over 50 become ancient to 20 year old TV executives. For the last few years he has been trying hard to climb back to the top of the heap. In the meantime his wife has a plan.

Her plan involves buying a house and forcing her husband into living a life that doesn't occur on a page. So she buys a heap called Rustica by their new Tuscan neighbors before calling him with the news. So the Reluctant Tuscan gets on a plane and flies over.

Readers of Mayle and other transplanted traveller books will love Doran's book. It is full of the typical trouble with the house and wacky neighbors. The difference is that Doran is really torn. He is not quite ready to give up his dream of a comeback and make the commitment to stay.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Murdering a dragon! What next

I had to pick up Swann's "Dragons of the Cuyahoga" because I used to live in Northern Ohio. So any book where a dragon plunges from the sky and lands in the Cuyahoga River... well you just have to check it out.

Ten years previous to the start of the book, a portal from a magical world opened in the Cleveland football stadium. And magical beings stepped out, including dragons. The mayor of Cleveland seized up on the portal as a way to financially save the city. He manages to block the Feds out of it all and the commercializing of the portal began.

Maxwell is a political beat reporter for a Cleveland newspaper. He isn't thrilled to be assigned to cover the death of a dragon. In his mind a "fuzzy gnome" story better suited for a lesser status reporter.

However nothing about this story is what it seems to be. He becomes convinced the dragon was murdered. He gets pulled farther into the dangerous political power games played by others.

In many ways this is a mystery novel with an SF setting, but it is a great ride. Dwarves of Whiskey Island is the next in the series.