The Birthday Weekend Update

Yes, it’s my birthday. And yes, it’s snowing up a storm outside. Whether the two events are correlated is up for debate, but I choose to think that it’s a reminder that you can take the girl out of Canada…and you know the rest.

Anyway, let’s start off with ye olde NYTBR, and there’s a slight apocalyptic feeling in that Curtis Sittenfeld, Jackie Collins AND Ayelet Waldman are included in this week’s issue. Ms. Sittenfeld gets her rant on about book club humiliation, and Chelsea Cain is mightily impressed with Waldman’s newest novel, and Jackie Collins probably gets more critical ink than, well, ever.

WaPo Book World: in what’s certainly a love-themed issue, Diana Gabaldon is impressed with Katherine McMahon’s alchemy ability; Sarah Dunant’s new novel mines the historical Venice she knows best now; Margaret Atwood asks who writing is really meant to be for; and Dan Rhodes is back with a new collection of short stories about the darker side of love.

G&M: Andrew Pyper pegs Vincent Lam as Canada’s Next Big Thing; Ben McNally is bowled over by Mary Ann Tirone-Smith’s memoir of childhood and murder; and Molly Peacock offers literary suggestions for Valentine’s Day.

Guardian Review: Zoe Williams falls under the spell of DBC Pierre’s allegedly fantastic life; Susan Hill is left cold at DJ Taylor’s new Victorian mystery; Lisa Allardice speaks to Joanna Trollope about her focus switch and exploration of darker themes;

Observer: Jane Stevenson isi impressed by Olga Grushn’s rendering of post-Soviet Russia; Stephanie Merritt goes to hear AL Kennedy’s standup act; and why does John Updike have to write a book a year? I mean, really?

The Times: More people in the UK borrow crime and thrillers from the library than any other genre now; Janice Turner takes issue with Mo Hayder’s novels; Joan Smith wishes Val McDermid’s book was less soap opera and more detective novel; Scott Turow sifted through truth and fiction to get to his latest novel, as he tells Giles Whittell; Stephen McLarence explores why India is still mad about Wodehouse; Michael Dibdin is weirded out by Sam Bourne’s DVC-esque thriller; and Marcel Berlins rounds up new crime fiction by Jacqueline Winspear, Val McDermid and some Hoff-loving, Mr T-worshipping fellow.

The Scotsman: Yiyun Li explains to David Robinson why leaving China behind was the best thing possible on many fronts; Alan Massie is impressed by Tahar Ben Jelloun’s “true fiction”; John Freeman talks to Jay McInerney, who still wants to try the whole marriage thing even after 3 failed attempts; and Lucy Ellman returns with a fresh dose of her madcap originality.

The Rest:

Oline Cogdill asserts that James O. Born pretty much owns the Florida police procedural with his newest effort, ESCAPE CLAUSE.

Adam Woog is just the latest to proclaim Robert Ferrigno’s PRAYERS OF THE ASSASSIN as the excellent, fantastic book that it is (and that everyone should read. Seriously. What’s stopping you?)

The Denver Post’s Tom & Enid Schantz return with their mystery column, looking at new releases by Suzanne Arruda, Charles Benoit and Marjorie Eccles.

The SF Chronicle’s Timothy Peters is just the latest reviewer to be bowled over by Kjell Eriksson’s THE PRINCESS OF BURUNDI (and count me among those who praise, because this is definitely one of the best of the Scandinavian exports.)

The Toronto Star’s Jack Batten finds there’s a lot familiar about Meg Gardiner’s latest thriller CROSSCUT.

Karen Olson speaks to the Danbury New Times about balancing journalism with her mystery-writing career, which kicked off last fall with SACRED COWS.

Regis Behe catches up with Ayelet Waldman about her new novel, the earlier mysteries, and of course, her own appearance on Oprah.

Matthew Reisz talks to Fred Vargas about why she made the switch from anthropology and crime fiction — and why the move has paid off so handsomely.

Amy Tan is interviewed by the SMH’s Lisa Allardice about why her dead mother narrates her new book, among other topics.

And finally, I think I’ve now read the worst sentence ever in my life: “For those of you who prefer the Ted Turner “colorized” classics…” The hives are breaking out in droves right this minute…