BOOK & BLOG
March 21, 2011
Books of the Week:
And also: Little Black Dress by Susan McBride, One Was A Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming, and Dead Waters by Anton Strout
You can tell it’s spring. The publishers are pushing out the good books like daffodils. There are too many to keep track of, but I wanted to mention as many as I could. It’s time to stockpile, avid readers!
If you know me at all, you know that Toni Kelner is my big bud. I hope you’ve read her other Tilda Harper mysteries, because they’re sharp and charming, which you’d think would be mutually exclusive. Tilda is an edgier protagonist than Toni’s previously created. Cursed with a succession of awful roommates, Tilda is a freelance entertainment journalist specializing in the stars of yesteryear. She’s like our dog Scrunch, in that she digs and digs until she finds what she’s looking for. Tilda can track down any former star, no matter how obscure. In Blast from the Past she’s tracking down Leviathan, a comic book artist whose most popular work is being filmed on Cape Cod. Tilda’s invited to watch the filming, a real coup for her. But it’s not long before people start to die. There’s a dash of romance, a chunk of investigation, and a broth of mystery. I always enjoy Toni’s work, and I especially like this book. I can’t believe I didn’t mention it until now; one of the perils of thinking of someone as your good friend, rather than thinking, “Gee, she’s a great writer, too.”
Seanan McGuire is another of my favorites, and Late Eclipses continues her saga of the life of October Daye, a true and acknowledged hero in the world of the fae. Toby’s life is never, ever, easy, and she has many enemies. We learn more about why she has these enemies in this entry in McGuire’s series. It’s impossible not to like Toby, and McGuire has a true gift for establishing fantastic characters who are both vivid and credible. Toby is being presented with a pair of suitors, and sooner or later she’ll have to choose between them, if you’re following the romantic aspect of Toby’s life.
I know that Pale Demon struck a reviewer or two wrong, but I liked it. In fact, I liked it a lot. The goal of the action is clear, the characters begin a quest, and we learn much more about Trent’s background in this “road trip” book. Witch Rachel Morgan is banned from air flight, and she has to get her trial in San Francisco or be condemned in absentia as a black magic user. She and Trent Kalamack, Jenks, and Ivy start driving from Cincinnati to the west coast. Of course, this trip goes disastrously wrong.
River Marked, Patricia Briggs’ latest, takes place after Mercy and Adam are married. In fact, they’re on their honeymoon, camping out in a campground that hasn’t yet opened. As you might guess, it’s right by a river, and of course, there’s something Bad In the Water. As Mercy and Adam learn to live with each other, they have to cope with the presence of a truly evil being that wants to eat Mercy, and the ghost of Mercy’s father appears with a definite opinion on almost everything. Briggs is keeping up a very high standard, and this entry in the series is excellent.
Though I’m running out of room, I have to mention three more books of note. Anton Strout, whose work I’ve reviewed before, has a new Simon Canderous book, Dead Waters, on the shelves now. Simon begins the book by investigating a poltergeist in a vampire-owned antique store (an amusing conceit), and the action just keeps rolling. Julia Spencer-Fleming will have a new Clare Fergusson mystery in April. This has been a consistently excellent series. Episcopal priest Clare returns from her National Guard tour of duty in Iraq with distressing aftereffects in One Was A Soldier. And my long-time friend Susan McBride ventures into new territory with Little Black Dress. The cover is a knockout, and Susan promises a vein of the supernatural in this August release. Put it on your reading calendar.
My daughter and I were exhausted by the big city by the time we boarded the plane home from New York. We crammed a lot into our three days.
As I said in a previous blog, I was excited by the invitation to the PFLAG gala to receive the Straight for Equality Award, the first ever given for literature. The honorees in other fields were Rosie Perez, outspoken champion of gay rights, in Entertainment, and wrestler Hudson Taylor in Athletics. Both were wonderful speakers, and I was delighted to meet them and be photographed with them. Hudson is an impressive young man who gave a great speech, and Rosie Perez is both lovely and eloquent (and notably straightforward, by the way). I think the evening went well. My daughter and I were both dressed up, or as dressed up as we get, and to my pleasure both my agent and my publisher “bought” a table for the event.
Other things we did in NYC? My daughter had never visited The Big Apple, so we did as many tourist things as we could. Due to time constraints everything had to be concentrated, so we hired a private tour guide and saw more in four hours than we could have managed in eight on our own. And we learned a lot about New York’s history and architecture in the process. We ate that night at the wonderful restaurant Maria Pia with my editor Ginjer Buchanan and my fabulous publicist Jodi Rosoff.
Afterwards, we went to see “Chicago” and were welcomed backstage after a fabulous performance by the talented Ryan Lowe (Mary Sunshine) and Ryan Worsing (Aaron). I simply can’t imagine even being able to speak after singing and dancing for two hours, but these actors had energy to spare to welcome us to the theater and answer our questions. Amazing.
My agent, Joshua Bilmes, took us to Central Park the next day, where we walked and looked and walked and looked some more. I loved the Alice in Wonderland sculpture; eerie and charming at the same time. We rode on the subway and went to eat New York pizza, something my daughter particularly wanted to do. Then back to our hotel to get ready for the gala.
For a whirlwind trip, it couldn’t have been better, and I hope I thanked everyone who made it so.
And now . . . back to work.
© 2011 Charlaine Harris