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Wednesday 5 (Squared): 5 Book Roundups for the Star-Ledger

December 28, 2011

One of my ongoing assignments for the Star-Ledger is to do roundups of 5 books, organized by a theme. Sometimes it’s seasonal. I’ve done spooky Halloween, Valentine romance, and Christmas round-ups a number of times. Reading books and writing capsule reviews organized by topic gives an interesting perspective on the genre as a whole. And for genres I don’t usually read, it’s a crash course.

5 Roundups From the Star-Ledger

The Dog Book Roundup. I’m more of a cat person than a dog person, so reading these was like a primer about another culture. The roundup blended fiction and memoir, of which I preferred the latter. I’m not ashamed to say that Izzy and Lenore, by Jon Katz, got me a little misty-eyed.

“Science steals the spotlight in these five offerings.” All of the books in this roundup were terrific fun. Death From The Skies, a study of all the ways the sun or asteroids could cause apocalypse, was written in such a chatty tone that it didn’t give me nightmares. Almost.

I also got to do a roundup that was pure science fiction and fantasy. Yes, I was the one who put Ender in Exile into the roundup selection. No, I was not the one who picked the Dragonlance novel.  (My editor doesn’t read scifi, so she wouldn’t have shared my memories of snickering about Raistlin and Caramon in high school. I remember liking Bones of the Dragon, Weis and Hickman’s latest, more than I anticipated.

A roundup of five miscellaneous novels proved to be a treasure trove. I discovered novels that have become favorite re-reads.  Most notably, Erica Bauermeister’s The School of Essential Ingredients. I also got Eric Van Lustbader’s excellent First Daughter in there. Bruno, Chief of Police was like a meeting point between my other favorites- combining mystery with a charming protagonist and appreciative food writing in a sleepy French village.

Weirdest roundup ever, though it was fun: A roundup of vampire and zombie books. Some of which were actually holiday themed.


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