Monday, February 26, 2007

A tantalizing weekend

Friday night I had the good fortune to attend a book launch party for Cynthia Leitich Smith's new YA novel, Tantalize. The soiree was hosted by Cynthia and her husband Greg Leitich Smith (who can sing in Italian, by the way) at their amazing 1920s house in the heart of Austin. It was altogether delicious, given the atmosphere, the food, and the company. Cynthia definitely knows how to throw a party. There was a lavish spread of food, there were door prizes related to her book and other local authors' books, and there were even wine servers outfitted in t-shirts from the book's fictional restaurant, Sanguini's. The house had a darkly festive atmosphere, inside and out (I'll have to remember their amusing tactic of blocking off off-limits rooms with crime scene tape!), the weather was perfect for going onto the porch, the house was filled with artsy and literary folks, such as fellow bloggers Jo Whittemore and Liz Garton Scanlon (and many, many books!), and the view could not have been more Austiny--ideal considering that Tantalize is set in Austin. Best of all, every guest received a free hardback copy of Tantalize! I had assumed the book might be for sale at the party. Then when I heard they were free, I expected a paperback advanced reading copy, at best. But we all got gorgeous, autographed hardcover books. It was my first night away from my baby (and my first time to have wine in almost a year!), and all in all was a lovely evening out. The baby...and my husband...even survived without me!

Saturday was the first lazy day we'd had in a while, with absolutely no commitments, so I took the opportunity to lie around reading Tantalize. I read the whole thing that day, despite its being more than 300 pages. I must admit I have never read a vampire or werewolf book before, so I don't know how it compares to others in the genre, but I enjoyed it and cared for the characters, and it certainly kept me reading. I found it suspenseful from beginning to end. And, as a regular YA reader, I loved the way the typical YA elements of the plot blended with the fantasy elements. Of course, living in the Austin area I also loved the Austin-centric nature of the plot (I laughed out loud about the "Bat Anti-Defamation League"), though living north of town, the South Congress area featured in the book is almost as foreign to me as San Antonio. Guess I'll have to go down there soon and see what's what! Cynthia is a talented writer and I'd recommend this book to anyone with an interest in YA or urban fantasy literature. I could definitely imagine it as a movie, also. Though I am wondering now if I should have really drunk the red wine at Cynthia's house! (I did leave the party with fangs, but only the fake ones I'd brought...I hope!)

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