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crosstalkWhen I picked up Crosstalk by Connie Willis from the library last week, it was a leap of faith.  Willis is an author who I always think I should like but, in reality, I find most of her books incredibly frustrating.  Of the five I’d read, the only one I’d really loved was Doomsday Book and, to be fair, I really, really do love it and spend a significant portion of my time trying to push it on unsuspecting acquaintances.  My love for it almost makes up for how disappointing I’ve found most of her other books.  I’m still disgusted with the lazy mediocrity of Blackout and All Clear, books that felt so promising and delivered absolutely nothing.

But I remain hopeful. And this time I am happy to say that my optimism paid off: Crosstalk was delightful.

Set in the near future, we meet our heroine Briddey Flannigan just after her boyfriend of only a few weeks has proposed they undergo the very trendy EED procedure, which purportedly allows couples to feel one another’s emotions and use this as the basis for building deeper, more emotionally transparent relationships.  It is, her gushing coworkers remind her, a very big and very romantic gesture.  Only C.B., the office tech geek and communications skeptic, seems to think it is a bad idea.

All too quickly, Briddey finds herself undergoing the procedure.  But when she wakes up, it is not Trent, her boyfriend, whose emotions she can sense.  It’s C.B.  And more than that, she finds they have a telepathic link.  But soon it’s not just C.B.’s voice she hears in her head and, rather than a blessing, the ability to hear other people’s thoughts quickly comes to seem like a curse that could drive her mad.

There are a few trademark weaknesses in the story.  It is overlong, like many of Willis’ books.  Some of the plot twists are so clearly flagged beforehand that you almost become impatient waiting for the reveal.  And it gets a little too wrapped up towards the end in the imaginary structures created by each of the telepaths (there is in fact no need to invite a fellow telepath over to explore your imaginary garden when you are both physically standing in the same room.  Just saying).

But those are minor quibbles.  The most important thing about Crosstalk is that it is gloriously fun.  Fast-paced and full of delightful banter, it is a wonderful romantic comedy wrapped in a sci-fi plot.  The best of all possible combinations.

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

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The Maisky Diaries edited by Gabriel Gorodetsky – you know how I love a good volume of diaries and when they are political ones, so much the better.  This featured on a number of “Best of 2015” book lists and I’m excited to get into it.

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas – a gender-bending twist on Sherlock Holmes.  Thomas is an interest writer of YA fantasy and adult romances so I’m intrigued to see how she does with Holmes as her inspiration.

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church – No idea.  Apparently I’d placed a hold on this at some point in the distant past and now it has arrived.  I do love surprises.

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Crosstalk by Connie Willis – A new release from Willis is always something to be excited about!  Really looking forward to this one.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama -this has been on the cosy-books-to-save-for-winter reading list for a long time.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller – comfortingly fluffy escapist novel about a young baker who moves to rural Vermont.  I read it as soon as it arrived and, while I don’t think I’ll review it, quite enjoyed it.  Check out Danielle’s review for more details.

What did you pick up this week?

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Source: Sotheby's

Source: Sotheby’s

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

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Party Animals by David Aaronovitch – I learned about this entertaining memoir of growing up in a communist family in post-war Britain from Slightly Foxed.  It was short-listed for their Best First Biography prize this year and deservedly so.  I’m almost done and have had such fun reading it.

Letters from Boy edited by Donald Sturrok – interesting looking collection of letters from Roald Dahl to his mother.

Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan – Absolutely no memory of how this novel about party girls in Singapore came to my attention but the publisher hooked me by calling it “Emma set in modern Asia”.  Not sure I buy that but a mention of Emma is literally the surest way to get me to read a book.

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A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian – I’ve been wanting to reread this novel for a while but have been unable to unearth my copy from storage.  Library to the rescue!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – having adored Ivey’s newest release, To the Bright Edge of the World, I felt it was time to read her much-praised debut novel.

Reading Claudius by Caroline Heller – okay, I might have lied above when I said a mention of Emma was the surest way to get me to read something: I suspect my weakness for books set in Prague, like this one, is slightly more dominant.  It certainly sounds right up my alley: “A stunning elegy to a vanished time, Caroline Heller’s memoir traces the lives of her parents, her uncle, and their circle of intellectuals and dreamers from Central Europe on the eve of World War II to present-day America.”

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Happy All the Time and Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object by Laurie Colwin – after finishing Colwin’s More Home Cooking, I felt it was time to try some of her fiction.  I was impatient when I picked these up, read them both quickly, and had very different reactions to them.

An Omelette and a Glass of Wine by Elizabeth David – also inspired by More Home Cooking.  Colwin referred to David frequently in her essays and to this book in particular.

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Taste of Persia
by Naomi Duguid – Duguid’s newest.

The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden – a classic and always a favourite to return to.

What did you pick up this week?