BOOK & BLOG
June 6, 2011
Books of the Week:
Here’s the neat thing about BEA; by dropping by the many, many publishers’ booths, you get advance copies of books. I can’t tell you how much fun that is. No matter how many books I have at home, my most fervent desire is to leave BEA laden down with unread books in a (thank you, Hyperion) free book bag. My friend and companion that day, Toni L.P. Kelner, was just as excited as I was; and having seen the Kelner book room, I could only be amazed that she was going to add to the piles.
You’ll notice that two of these books don’t come out until the Fall. Those of you who keep books calendars, please enter Blood Rights and Dead of Night in the appropriate slots.
I was both lucky and unlucky with Dan Wells’s I Don’t Want to Kill You. Lucky, because I hadn’t ready any of these clever and perceptive YA books; unlucky, because this was the third one. Teenager John Cleaver, a self-conscious sociopath, lives with his mother above a funeral home (it’s the family trade) in North Dakota. He’s after demons. Unfortunately, demons have ways of diving into the bodies of people John cares about. This is a most unusual book about a most unusual kid, and I plan to backtrack and read the rest of Wells’s work. Let me tell you who blurbed these books: Brandon Sanderson, F. Paul Wilson, and Jonathan Maberry.
Kristin Painter’s Blood Rights is a well written novel about two people a cast-out vampire cursed to kill everyone he takes blood from, and a female comorre’, a special human bred to provide vampires with the purest of blood. Right away, you can see the conflict. Mal and Chrysabelle have a lot of problems, no doubt about it. The excellent world-building in Blood Rights will continue boom-boom-boom. Rights will be released in October, Flesh and Blood in November, and Bad Blood in December. If you enjoy the first one as much as I’m enjoying it, you’ll have a guaranteed good read for three months in a row.
For Heaven’s Eyes Only is one of Simon R. Green’s Secret Histories novel about the Droods, the vast family that has secretly been running the earth and keeping it out of trouble. The books are told through the eyes of Eddie Drood, the powerful rebel who’s completely changed the way the family works. Mostly. Eddie and his lover, Molly, a powerful witch, face yet another crisis; this one is a Satanic conspiracy, at which Eddie initially scoffs. But he becomes a believer pretty quickly, and things go from bad to worse to catastrophic. This is Simon R. Green doing what Simon does, and the reader’s along for the unpredictable ride.
Jonathan Maberry writes wonderful horror both for adults and for kids, and I’ve recommended his books here before. I was lucky enough to get a hug and copy of Dead of Night from the man himself, and in his inscription he advises me to “Aim for the head.” Come the zombie apocalypse, this will be valuable advice. One I start one of Jonathan’s books I really can’t put it down, and this one was no exception. When convicted serial killer Homer Gibbons is put to death, the doctor designated to give the lethal injection has what he thinks is a better idea. He plans for Homer to spend eternity shut in a grave dead, yet alive. Needless to to say, things don’t work out like that. This book has a lot of observations to make about the nature of death, the nature of abandonment, and the redemption of the lost by their own sacrifice . . . while being a damn good zombie novel.
After the Incident of the Frog (Or Possibly Toad) a couple of weeks ago, I began pondering irrational fears. For those of you who don’t obsessively read every word posted on the board, let me remind you. A large frog (or perhaps a toad, I don’t want to be guilty of misnaming the thing) positioned himself on the walkway outside of my office. I had to pass this amphibian every time I went in to work, and every time I got more nervous. After a couple of hours, I was pretty sure . . . fairly sure . . . this critter was dead. After all, this was not typical frog (or toad) behavior. I worried about it quite a lot. Should I poke him with a stick? But if I did . . . if he was still alive, he might jump directly at me. On the other hand, if he were dead, he might flop over in disgusting way, and I’d be guilty of corpse abuse.
Luckily for Paula, she was nowhere around, and I was not wuss enough to call her, though I’m ashamed to say it crossed my mind. At the very least, she would have known if it was a frog or a toad! Paula is sharp about stuff like that. But, as I say, I didn’t call her. I would love to say I handled this situation myself, but I didn’t. I told my husband that when he came home, I had a little job for him. Fortunately for me, he is a pretty nice guy and he was very understanding. He hardly laughed at all. In fact, when he arrived he didn’t even knock at the door to make me witness the resolution of the frog/toad impasse. He removed the creature in question (though not very far, as I found out the next day).
Rationally, I know my behavior was ridiculous. After all, even if the frog-or-toad DID hop at me, it wouldn’t exactly be a catastrophe. It would rebound and hop off in another direction. And if it proved to be dead, flopping over is not exactly terrifying. I could have continued to poke it right off the walkway with the stick. Problem solved. At least, my problem.
I should be made of sterner stuff. But it was the suspense of it, rather than the threat of it, that got to me. The anticipation of the hop, rather than the result of the possible hop. If that isn’t silly, I don’t know what it; but I’m betting I’m not the only one with an irrational fear. Frankly, I hope the rest of you are braver in combating yours than I am.
© 2011 Charlaine Harris