Sunday, May 20, 2007

some recent reading

In addition to the books for which I need to write reviews (I have three reviews in progress and am still reading another book I need to review), I have managed to squeeze in some lighter reading.

Kafka's Soup by Mark Crick
Subtitled "a complete history of world literature in 14 recipes," Kafka's Soup is a light, amusing read. I was intrigued when I first saw the book on the shelf at the book store and was ecstatic when one of my BookCrossing friends had a copy to share (my first instinct about the book--that it would be a fun read, but not worth the cover price--turned out to be quite correct).

In Kafka's Soup, Crick creates recipes in the style of different authors (from Homer to Graham Greene). I particularly enjoyed Tarragon Eggs à la Jane Austen and Coq au Vin à la Gabriel García Márquez--possibly because in those recipes Crick was mimicking two of my favorite authors. I also enjoyed Clafoutis Grandmère à la Virginia Woolf partially because a recipe for that dish appeared in the most recent Williams-Sonoma catalog giving me a wonderful sense of connection. The Marquis de Sade's poussin recipe was amusing, but seemed to drag and left me skimming after the first few pages.

My issue with the book is really with the word "complete" in its subtitle. I just fail to see how fourteen authors (all Western it seems) can illustrate the complete history of world literature.

You Slay Me, Fire Me Up, and Light My Fire, the first three books in the Aisling Grey, Guardian series by Katie MacAlister.

These books are very similar to MaryJanice Davidson's Undead and... books (see my comments on those books). In the Aisling Grey, Guardian series, the protagonist is a guardian (soon to be responsible for her own portal into Hell) and a wyvern's mate (destined to be the partner of a dragon clan head). If you liked the Undead and... books, you'll probably enjoy Aisling Grey and her adventures. I, for one, had a very similar reaction to the books: I had a hard time relating to Aisling (a reaction that did diminish in the later books) and found that the secondary characters (particularly Jim) really made the books.

My biggest complaint about these books is that MacAlister seems to have written them without a plan for how the series was going to progress. There are things that happen in books 2 and 3 that have no grounding in the earlier books. They necessitate huge leaps which really can't be explained away by Aisling just not being in the know (some of them can, but others really can't). Book 3, Light My Fire, is really the first book where MacAlister seems to be laying the groundwork for the rest of the series.


  1. Karen,
    Loved your post and glad you're part of the BookCrossing community...also love the Buffalo, NY of my favorite groups of all times, The Goo Goo Dolls is from there!
    CEO BookCrossing

  2. Scott has good taste in music. He can lead one of my favorite book sites anyway (because, you know, MY approval matters most in this world!).