The carnival has arrived at my pitch at last! Experience the thrills and chills of the midway rides, the daring tests of skill, the jaw-dropping wonders of the freakshow. Don’t forget to take a ride through the haunted house and get yourself all dizzy in the hall of mirrors. And be sure to get lots of food on a stick. (If you have ever been to the Minnesota State Fair, you’ll understand the reference – all kinds of food, mostly deep fried, generally on sticks.) But watch out for getting too much cotton candy (or floss to those across the pond) on your fingers because you don’t want your books’ pages to get all sticky. Because this carnival’s about books.
Our previous host provided a Texas-sized helping of crime fiction blogs to read, but this time we’re going to focus on blogs that are book barkers. Pay no attention to that Matterhorn-sized TBR mountain behind the curtain! You need more books! You know you do! So let me introduce you to some enablers discerning readers who may just have the answer to that age-old question: what should I read next?
How about broadening your horizons by reading something from another culture? Peter Rozovsky has lots of recommendations of crime fiction from around the world at Detectives Beyond Borders, and has a habit of raising interesting questions for the collective to discuss. Another way to explore the world from your armchair can be found in the reviews posted at Karen Meek’s Euro Crime – there’s a handy link to all the recent reviews on the right-hand side once you’ve read all the news that’s fit to blog. For those whose tastes tend toward the dark end of the spectrum, there’s International Noir Fiction. In Ireland, Crime Always Pays. (That’s why they call it the Celtic Tiger.) For the UK, It’s a Crime to ignore crimeficreader’s expert recommendations. Crime Scene Scotland has a gritty perspective worthy of Glasgow’s mean streets. On the other side of the globe, Damien covers Crime Down Under, Kerrie tells about Mysteries in Paradise (rub it in, eh?) and Karen and her mob seem to be on a mission to make the world aware of the best in the genre from Australia and New Zealand. Luckily for us, their plot is working brilliantly.
There are some wonderful long-standing mystery book review sites online. January Magazine is one that has a wealth of crime fiction reviews, all in handy-dandy blog format (like its essential sister publication, The Rap Sheet). Reviewing the Evidence is a classic, of course, and though Mystery Scene is a traditionally published magazine (with its reviews all searchable online) it also sponsors the Bookflings blog, where Brian Skupin often pairs something old and something new – reviewing two books in combination with fascinating results. Reviewers just can’t help sharing the wealth: you can follow the reviews of Brian Lindemuth, a Mystery BookSpot reviewer, by checking out his Crimespace blog. And David J. Montgomery, who reviews for the incredibly shrinking fourth estate, reviews a “book of the week” at Crime Fiction Dossier, where he also keeps tabs on the state of reviewing.
The Campaign for the American Reader deserves a paragraph all to itself. This is an amazing testament to the wonder of new books. The brains behind the campaign, Marshal Zeringue, wants to “encourage more readers to read more books” and to do that he has several cunning plans. He makes lists, compiles author interviews, asks writers what they are reading, who they would cast in a movie, and has two tests – the Page 69 Test and the Page 99 Test, in which authors discuss what’s happening on one page of their latest book and how it fits into the whole. It’s a novel and illuminating way to get to know about books. The focus is not entirely on crime fiction, but there’s plenty of it included – ample proof you will never run out of books to try next.
A number of addicts readers share their thoughts through blogs that are a combination of review site and personal book diary. Lourdes is Lost in Books – and likes it that way. Lilian Porter has a Bloodstained Bookshelf worth browsing. Sarah Bewley takes a Cartesian stance in “I Read, therefore I Am.” The Material Witness is serious about crime fiction – and writes wonderfully detailed reviews. Keep him in custody of your RSS feed in case you need him to testify. Kimbofo confesses to a “book addiction that is beyond cure” – and lets it all hang out at Reading Matters (which has its own handy index so you can go straight for the hard stuff.)
Many of these blogs aren’t just about mysteries – but tend to include lots of them. Spuddie keeps a running list of what she’s reading every month (a mix of mystery, fantasy, and other) – along with detailed observations. Jim Bashkin reviews lots of crime fiction at Nearly Nothing but Novels – and recently has reported on a conversation with Qiu Xiaolong in a triptych of blog posts – and in his spare time has started a Squidoo page for crime fiction. Blimey, the man never sleeps! Woodstock includes book reviews at her blog, as well as contributing them (lots of them!) to Books ‘n’ Bytes. A literary feline keeps track of what she has been reading at Musings of a Bookish Kitty – and while this cat is above the perennial cats-in-mysteries debate, she gets her claws into a wide variety of fiction. Writers read too. Take Martin Edwards, who writes about what he’s been reading at Do You Write Under Your Own Name? Petrona – “thinking and linking about books, reading, writing, publishing, and more” – has kindly assembled her reviews all in one handy place so we mystery readers can cut to the chase. And wow, these reviews are works of art in themselves.
And we mustn’t forget the BookBitch. As a librarian I’m excited she’s getting her master’s in the field right now, and studying with one of my personal heroes; why, the BookBitch may well have her very own FBI file by now. The DEA may also be watching this self-identified bookaholic. She has been not only blogging about the book world full time, she publishes a bazillion reviews by various bibliophiles at her website and even gives books away. Consider her site a gateway drug. And enjoy.
So, there you have it. A good book recommendation is only a blog away. And these blogs prove that there are lots of fellow mystery addicts out there. You are not alone! It’s not our fault, it’s in our genes! If you could peek inside, you’d see our DNA strands are all like this – all made of itsy bitsy books joined together in twisted pairs.
There’s no such thing as too many books, or too many book blogs. If I missed some that should be here, feel free to add them in the comments.
Our next stop should earn you some frequent reader miles, as the carnival will be hosted by Bernd Kochanowski at Internationale Krimis. See you there!
photos (in order from the top) courtesy of smcgee, stevelyon, olily, brewbook, and niecieden via Flicrk’s Creative Commons pool.