Month: April 2009

A month’s worth (or more) of reading

… and thus, this post is very long!

Photo taken March 18, 2009

Divided in Death, Intermission in Death, Purity in Death, Survivor in Death, Innocent in Death, Holiday in Death, Vengeance in Death, Naked in Death, Ceremony in Death, Loyalty in Death, Reunion in Death, and Portrait in Death by J.D. Robb (AKA Nora Roberts) – I’ve been flying through the books in this series. While I’d generally stay away from Nora Roberts books, bodice-ripping romance novels not being a particular genre of choice for me, I like the gritty main character, Eve Dallas, an NYPD detective in the year 2058 (and more). These “futuristic mysteries” have just a little unrealistic romance-novel-esque scenes thrown in, enough to keep me from recommending this to any nephews and nieces, but I’m finding that I have a taste for cheap, quick-to-read mysteries… especially when the author is prolific enough to keep me occupied for a month or two.

A Prisoner of Memory edited by Ed Gorman & Martin H. Greenberg – Collection of “best mystery short stories.” I picked it up because there was one by Michael Connelly, one of the mystery authors I follow. Nothing else in the book really caught my attention enough to cause me to want to look up the other authors.

Photo taken March 26, 2009

A Room Made of Windows and The Private Worlds of Julia Redfern by Eleanor Cameron – Julia is one of those classic “girl” characters that I grew up with, along with Anne [of Green Gables], Emily [of New Moon], Jo/Meg/Beth/Amy [of Little Women], Laura [of Little House books], and Sara [from A Little Princess]. Yet Julia has more flaws – and is more contemporary – than all of those heroines, and it’s partly those flaws that make her lovable and easy to relate with. I found that I enjoyed these books almost as much as I did when I first read them.

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear – Part of the Maisie Dobbs series, taking place in a well-researched (or so it seems to me without having done my own research) early 1900’s. Maisie is a quiet, strong character, running her own private investigation business. In this book, she investigates odd crimes in a rural area and exposes secrets that have long been hidden.

Witness in Death, Imitation in Death, Visions in Death, Creation in Death, Judgment in Death, Memory in Death, and Remember When by J.D. Robb (AKA Nora Roberts)

Photo taken April 3, 2009

Midnight in Death, Conspiracy in Death, and Seduction in Death by J.D. Robb

The Novice’s Tale by Margaret Frazer – My first experience with the “Sister Frevisse medieval mystery” series. This is the first of that series. Dame Frevisse is a nun at the St. Frideswide cloister. One of the new initiates, Thomasine, finds herself accused of murder. It’s up to Frevisse’s dogged questioning to bring forth the truth. Good enough that I checked out more by this author.

The Private Life of the Cat Who by Lilian Jackson Braun – I was a dogged fan of Lilian Jackson Braun when the cat-who books first came out, but since then I only read them when I happen to come across them in the new book section. This short book of various “articles” written by James Qwilleran, owner of very special Siamese Koko and Yum Yum, relates various anecdotes that Cat Who fans will be familiar with.

Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier – My first introduction to this fantasy author who is now one of my favorites. Juliet Marillier puts her own deeply fanciful, sometimes dark, but overall rewarding spin on the “Twelve Dancing Princesses” fairy tale in Wildwood Dancing, and tells a completely new tale with some of the same characters in Cybele’s Secret. Her style reminds me a little bit of Robin McKinley – if you liked Beauty, Spindle’s End, or The Blue Sword, you’ll probably like these.

The Magician’s Book by Laura Miller – This “skeptic’s adventures in Narnia” is mostly about Laura Miller’s experience as a lover of books. I would classify it “literary criticism wrapped in memoir,” as Laura tells about how the Chronicles of Narnia shaped her reading education, how she felt deeply betrayed when (as an agnostic) she discovered the Christian allegories in the books, and how she came to terms with them. Lots of snippets about C.S. Lewis’ life as well as Tolkein’s are included.

The Memorist by M.J. Rose – I didn’t realize that this is a sequel to another book, but I got drawn into the complicated and intriguing plot involving a woman who has weird memories from another time and place, a man planning to blow up a concert hall, and a special flute that was once in the hands of Beethoven.

Photo taken April 15, 2009

The Boy’s Tale, The Bastard’s Tale, The Sempster’s Tale, The Widow’s Tale, and The Clerk’s Tale by Margaret Frazer – As I read more of the Sister Frevisse series, I’m realizing that I should have tried to read these in order, as characters from previous books show up in later books. The books do stand alone, but I think that there is some helpful background information from the other stories that would have been nice to have.

Born in Death and Betrayal in Death by J.D. Robb

The Dark Mirror, Blade of Fortriu, and The Well of Shades by Juliet Marillier – Did I mention that Juliet Marillier has become one of my favorite authors? I’ll just throw that one out again. This trilogy is a comprehensive whole, yet each book has an individual narrative focusing on different main characters.

As a side note, Juliet Marillier has some of the most beautiful, sweet depictions of babies and infants (and their relationship with adults) that I’ve come across since being a mom. They aren’t by any means a focus of the book (I’m really just talking about a sentence here or there), but the detail in the phrases she uses (I’m paraphrasing, since I don’t have the books in front of me), like a baby making “small snuffling noises” as it searches for the breast, immediately painted pictures in my mind and made me want to steal the words for my own use.

Photo taken April 21, 2009

Rapture in Death and Glory in Death by J.D. Robb

The Squire’s Tale, The Traitor’s Tale, The Hunter’s Tale, and The Reeve’s Tale by Margaret Frazer

The Sultan’s Seal by Jenny White – I picked this one off the shelf because of the beautiful cover illustration. The narrative is split between Kamil Pasha, a magistrate in Istanbul at the end of the Ottoman Empire, and Jaanan, a young woman who seems to have nothing to do with the mystery narrative initially. The novel is beautiful, much like the cover, yet I found myself unsatisfied by the ending.

The Wee Free Men by Terry PratchettI haven’t read much… if any?… Terry Pratchett, although he’s one of those well-known sci-fi/fantasy authors that I keep seeing quoted on various book covers. This book was in the “young adult” area and looked like it had promise when I skimmed the first few pages, where gutsy 9-year-old Tiffany, armed with a frying pan, enters the world of the elves to rescue her little brother. It got rather surreal for me, and I’m not entirely sure I “enjoyed” the entire book. Maybe?

Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier – Set in the world of the Vikings, Eyvind – a good-hearted boy whose only desire is to be a “Wolfskin” – one of the special warriors of Thor – reaches out to a shy, strange boy and swears an unbreakable blood oath with him to assure him of his friendship. This oath will lead to a terrible conflict, however, when Eyvind finds himself on the verge of losing all that he loves.

More raves for Juliet Marillier – she has an absolute gift for painting characters that you love and root for, and then showing the shadowy fingers of destruction hovering over them. No one is “safe” in her books, yet all the endings are redemptive.