First Saturday of the month, time for the super monthly tag Six Degrees of Separation, which is hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books chosen.
This month our starting book is…
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
I love listening to Springsteen and bought his autobiography when it first came out – but on the page he didn’t capture my imagination and it was a DNF for me. So onwards… Springsteen hails from New Jersey, as does the author of
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Published in 1995, One for the Money introduced us to Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter from Trenton, New Jersey. Evanovich has gone on to write 29 volumes so far in this fun series so far, however, as usual I got series fatigue after about the eighth but really loved the first few as they are such fun! Plum is sassy and funny, initially working for her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman. Her target in the first book is to bring vice cop and former sexual acquaintance Joe Morelli who has been accused of murder to court. These hilarious mysteries are also notable for their ‘car deaths’ – Stephanie has a habit of writing them off! Stephanie’s surname leads me to…
Plum by Hollie McNish
McNish is one of the newer generation of poets whose work is rooted in performance, but McNish is also really good to read on the page, and any sniffiness from old school poetry readers is completely undeserved. This collection is all about the transition from girl to woman, and it’s frank and hilarious – we get girls questioning another who has done it about what an orgasm is, we get the Saturday job where a teacher brings a packet of condoms to the till, and discovering rude words in French. There is also observation and thoughtfulness alongside the humour and irony. Much to love here. Poetry takes me on to another book…
O Positive by Joe Dunthorne
I was excited to read Dunthorne’s poems having loved his novels, and O Positive is divided into four parts, one for each of the major blood groups, beginning with A, and A Sighting which has a killer first line: “As we waited to be torn apart” (by a bear). Dunthorne does genial darkness very well indeed and most of the poems have some aspect of threat or menace in them. Veiled in sunny tones, the mood can turn on a sixpence. I enjoyed his economy of style, the bizarre scenarios, I loved the black humour too, but was equally surprised by occasional moments of soppiness which was very endearing. Blood is my next link to…
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
This crossover novel is one of the late, lamented author’s finest. Midwinterblood published in 2011 is elegiac, a seven story cycle going backwards in history bound up in folklore, and featuring a vampire at one stage. Beautifully written, it is dreamy and contemplative, yet it is very dark with a slow reveal. What’s not to like? From midwinter to midsummer…
Love in Idleness by Amanda Craig
Craig’s 2003 novel is a modern take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ‘Love-in-idleness’ being the flower that Oberon gets Puck to find to squeeze its love potion juice onto the eyes of the lovers, ensuring that they will fall in love with the first person they see when they wake, causing much mischief. Relocated to a Tuscan summer rental with several families converging for the holidays, Craig has huge fun with her character’s names. It’s quite clear if you know the play, who is each Shakespeare character, and a neat touch is to cast the children as the fairies. I enjoyed this a lot. I shall stay with modern Shakespeare takes for my final link.
Oh, I Do Like to Be… by Marie Phillips
Phillips’ third novel is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Set at the seaside and involving cloned twins, masses of mistaken identity slapstick – and an assortment of seaside businesses and their owners. It is fast-moving, funny and very well done indeed, as well as being chock-full of Shakespeare quotes and allusions. I’ve loved all three of Phillips’ novels, I wish she’d write more.
So my six degrees this month have taken me from New Jersey to the British seaside via Tuscany, with plenty of Shakespeare, lots of poetry and humour, and a vampire making an appearance along with way.
Where will your six degrees take you?