Books & Blog: April 8, 2018

Books of the Week:

 

  • How to Run with a Naked Werewolf, Molly Harper
  • Cards on the Table, Agatha Christie
  • The Wanted, Robert Crais
  • An Argumentation of Historians, Jodi Taylor
  • The Cruel Prince, Holly Black
  • This Fallen Prey, Kelley Armstrong

 

This week I’m cleaning off my desk. I have a backlog of books I’ve read since I had two operations and lots of time to read in the past few months. It didn’t seem fair to jettison a batch of books simply because I’d read too many (is that possible?), so I’ve been trying to throw in a couple of extra older books in each B&B. I want my desk back, though, so here we go. Quick and brief.

Molly Harper is a fun person (we’ve been on panels together), and I expected her books to be fun. If How to Run with a Naked Werewolf is representative, I was absolutely right. Dr. Anna Moder is trying to escape her evil ex and working as a waitress, but werewolf Caleb needs her help when he’s shot by a lowlife. She realizes he’s a werewolf, but he doesn’t know she knows. There’s a lot of that in this book, and it’s delightful reading.

Every now and then I like to go back to the source. Cards on the Table would be better appreciated by someone who knows how to play Bridge (I do not), but other than that, it’s a typical Hercule Poirot mystery and wonderfully soothing to read. Christie is the queen for a reason.

If you’ve read any of my previous B&Bs, you’ll know I’m a huge Robert Crais fan. Wannabe writers: if you want to know how to right dialog, how to write descriptions, how to write . . . read Robert Crais. His books are lessons in How to Do It. The Wanted, one of his Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series, is absolutely solid and a wonderful book.

And I love Jodi Taylor. Ever since I read the first book in her St. Mary’s series, Just One Damned Thing After Another, I have been hooked. This latest entry, An Argumentation of Historians, continues the story of Max, our favorite time traveler, her husband Leon, and the evil Ronan, plus a cast of the people we’ve come to love or hate. What a joy.

Young adult books have gotten so much more challenging in the past ten years . . . I’m not sure there were really young adult books, per se, when I was growing up. There were children’s books and adult books. Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince was a little shocking to me, in the titular prince really is cruel, and may or may not have redeeming qualities. The girl who hates and yet cares about him is human, and her only defense, living in faery, is being quick and clever. Since she’s young, sometimes her clever strategies turn around and bite her, but she’s a consummate survivor . . . so far.

Kelley Armstrong’s Rockton series is a wonderful find. Armstrong can write anything from YA to adult, and her settings are wonderful. If you’ve read the other Rockton books, you know that police officer Casey is a resident of the secret town of Rockton, where people come who really, really, want to hide. Forever. Or at least, for a long time. It’s lucky for Rockton that Casey is a trained police officer, and Rockton needs one. It’s lucky for Casey that her boss is a complex guy born and bred in Rockton, and he’s also the right man for her. In This Fallen Prey, the people who run Rockton do something unprecedented: they send a serial killer to be guarded in the town. And right away, people start dying. Is Oliver Brady really a murderer? Or has he been set up? Casey has to find out before more people die.

Annnnd . . . I take it back. I’m saving some for the next Book & Blog.

 

Blog

 

As you might expect, I’m often asked which novels featuring vampires are my favorites. I have quite a few, and I’m often unsure which ones to mention. Of course, the original Dracula. You have to read that. Also, of course, anything of Anne Rice’s, who revived the whole genre with her approach. And Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series . . . if you’re serious about writing modern vampires, you have to read at least a sampling of those.

I’d add Jeaniene Frost’s Cat and Bones books because though they’re definitely on the romance side (a) there’s nothing wrong with that and (b) they’re delightfully written. If you want to try books about some very organized vampires, try the Chicagoland novels by Chloe Neill.

The ones I always forget, and the ones that are important to mention, are Nancy Collins’ Sonja Blue books, beginning with Sunglasses after Dark. They’re brutal and frank. Sonja Blue was a human rich girl named Denise Thorne, until a vampire lured her into his car, raped her and threw her out because he thought she was dead. Denise the human loses her memory, and Sonja is her new persona. Sonja is also close to indestructible, at least by human standards. Sonja Blue’s mission is to find Lord Morgan, her abductor, to kill him.

It’s a long quest, over several books. Sonja has many violent adventures, yet through her long existence, she still has a longing for companionship and warmth.

The raw power of Collins’ writing can’t be overstated. She holds back nothing. The Sonja Blue books are not easy to read at times, but they are compelling. If you haven’t given them a try yet, pick up the first book and see if you find it as riveting as I did. I reread these novels every few years, just to keep in touch with Sonja.

 

Charlaine Harris