Books & Blog: February 27, 2017

Blog

As many of you may already know (since I’ve been complaining about it forever), we’ve had to be out of our house for a month while water damage to our floors was repaired.

 

Now we’re back in our lair, and boy, does it feel good. Our own bed, our own shower, our own kitchen . . . our own everything. Once the remediation team finishes unpacking our stuff, we’ll be back to normal, more or less. Looking for a few things I couldn’t track down, I cleaned a garbage bag full of debris from my desk drawers. This was progress in an unexpected direction.

 

I’ve turned in the FINAL FINAL version of “Sleep Like a Baby,” the next Aurora Teagarden. I got negative feedback from my beta readers on one passage, and if I changed that one I had to change another one . . . and on and on and on. By the time I’d corrected the manuscript, I had rewritten a third of the book.

 

I’ve never done revision this extensive before. I hope it’s a better novel now. I don’t know if I could rewrite any more, and I certainly hope that’s not called for.

 

Now I’m at the scary and exciting point where I get to start a new book. Nothing is more thrilling. And nothing is more frightening.

 

While I was in exile in our little rental house, I read a lot, and I can only review a fraction of the books I went through. But I really enjoyed a handful, and I love to share reading pleasure with you.

 

 

Books of the Week

 

  • Ride the Storm, Karen Chance
  • A Darkness Absolute, Kelley Armstrong
  • Just One Damned Thing After Another, Jodi Taylor
  • The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch
  • This is (Not) Your Song, Laura Nowlin

 

Karen Chance’s Cassie Palmer series has been a favorite of mine since I read the first one, Touch the Dark. Ride the Storm is the eighth book. Do read them in order; you’ll be glad you did. But read them! Chance is a true storyteller. Cassie, who is very nearly unsinkable, is only trying to save her own life when we meet her in the first book. She’s being pursued by the vampire family in which she grew up as a kind of foster child. By Ride she’s come into her own, and learned a lot about her past she’d never suspected. Along the way, she has adventures at breakneck speed, meets some very interesting people, makes some strange friends and dark enemies, and survives experiences (and a lover or two) that would have left anyone else dead five books before. I was so happy when I was asked to read an ARC lf Ride the Storm, I practically hopped up and down. And I wasn’t disappointed, not at all. This book will be on the shelves in AUGUST. So if you haven’t read the others, you have plenty of time to catch up.

 

I also snagged an ARC of A Darkness Absolute, Kelley Armstrong’s follow-up to City of the Lost. Here’s the premise: there’s a remote town where people with enough money can hide forever. Most of these people have violent enemies, and vanishing is the only way to cheat death. Rockton is off the grid. People are assigned living quarters depending on the value of their work . .  and they have to  work. But Rockton doesn’t have a detective, and the police chief is one of the few children who grew up in the town. He’s never lived in the outside world. Kasey Duncan is an experienced homicide detective who needs to vanish.  Her adjustment and the solving of a murder take place in City, and in Lost there’s another grisly crime to investigate. But because of the nature of the town, it’s almost impossible to find the killer . . . or the victims. This book will be out THIS MONTH (February).

 

Here’s my new discovery: Jodi Taylor. I don’t know why I hadn’t happened upon her books before, but I am so glad I have now. If you like time travel, redheads, secret organizations, or history, pick up the first book, Just One Damned Thing After Another. You’ll meet Madeleine Maxwell, a new recruit at St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research — a deliberately drab name to hide the very exciting activities going on inside the old building. These books are just marvelous, and Max is a great character who grows and changes as she becomes seasoned and responsible . . . at least to some extent. Have you ever wanted to go to the Great Library of Alexandria? Well, here’s your chance. Delightful.

 

The Hanging Tree is the sixth book in Ben Aaronovitch’s excellent series. His protagonist is Peter Grant, a young English police officer and a man of color, whose voice is wry and funny as he negotiates the police hierarchy, the suddenly revealed world of the supernatural, and the class prejudices most people don’t even know they harbor. Ben gains a good friend, looses her in a dreadful way, and becomes the protégée of a magic practitioner often consulted by the police. There’s no lack of plot complications and danger in Peter’s life, and I’m just glad to be along for the ride. I look forward to these books with keen anticipation, and I’ve never been disappointed.

 

Laura Nowlin is a young woman I’ve known for most of her life, so I was naturally reluctant to read her YA book. It’s always so horrible when the book is bad, and you don’t know what to say. But I have no such embarrassment here. This Song is (Not) for You is a brief novel told from three points of view. Sam, Ramona, and Tom are all talented teens who simply don’t fit into social norms. The three are creative, intelligent, and hungry for companionship, so the bond they form is unique. This book is about learning that relationships don’t have to follow conventional patterns to enrich the people in them; and that people don’t have to be adults to solve unconventional problems. It’s written simply and charmingly, and appropriate for ages 14 and up.