Books & Blog: February 1, 2016

Books of the Week:

  • A High-End Finish, Kate Carlisle
  • Quiet Neighbors, Catriona McPherson
  • In Their Own Words, edited by Elizabeth Foxwell
  • Hunter, Mercedes Lackey

Now that I’m back in the conventional mystery business, it was a pleasure to pick up A High-End Finish. Shannon Hammer is a contractor; she’s taken over her dad’s business, and she’s successful at it. She has a disastrous blind date, ending in a very public fight on the beach, and very soon thereafter, the blind date turns up dead. Not only does Shannon meet the new police chief, who is very attractive and doesn’t suspect Shannon TOO much, she also meets a favorite mystery writer who hires Shannon to refurbish his house. And incidentally, she puts up with the “mean girls,” holdovers from high school. Shannon is a credible contractor, and this is a book with a lot of charm.

Catriona (“Katrina”) McPherson, one of my fellow Femme Fatales, was nice enough to let me read an ARC of her next book, Quiet Neighbors. Jude, the eccentric protagonist, does something most people only dream about. She walks out of her unsatisfactory life. She flees to a quiet bookstore she visited once on a holiday, a store in which she found a lot of peace. The storeowner, Lowell, is just as eccentric as Jude, and she quickly finds a place working in the store. But this happy interlude is soon exploded when a pregnant girl named Eddy arrives at the store to claim that Lowell is her father. But there are two men after her, and Jude suspects Eddy is not pregnant at all. It’s very easy to see why McPherson is nominated for so many awards; you should read this book. It will be on the shelves in APRIL.

I have known Elizabeth Foxwell for many, many years, and I was very impress that she was doing a collection of works by American women who served in some capacity during World War I. In Their Own Words is really interesting; the women come from all walks of life, and they don’t always agree on the role of women in the war. One of them is Mary Roberts Rinehart, the mystery writer. One of the women is a singer, who entertains the troops wherever she finds them. Another tries to set up a supply line to help the civilians rendered homeless in the war. Some gloss over the horror of warfare, and some are determined to tell it as they see it.

Mercedes Lackey is a very famous name in science fiction, rightly so. Joyeaux Charmand, raised from childhood to be a Hunter, is summoned to the city by her uncle, who is high in the food chain there. The cadre of hunters has to patrol outlying areas day by day, to stop the monsters who slip in. These are formidable monsters, some of them. Joy is a standout hunter, and though she has never been in a city or met such a group of strangers, she is far from naïve. There are no wrong steps in Hunter, which is suitable for young adult through old adult (me).

Blog

February is leaping out of the gate. I have three events on three weekends this month. The weekend of Valentine’s Day, I am going to Rocksprings, Texas, to revisit the hotel my grandparents owned. It’s the hundredth anniversary of the building of the hotel, originally constructed by hand tools. Before my grandparents owned it, it had to serve as a hospital for influenza victims, and then a tornado destroyed most of it. But it was rebuilt bigger and better, and my grandparents owned it for many years. This is a nostalgic trip.

The next weekend is very different! On Feb. 20, I’m signing at the Firewheel Barnes and Noble in Garland, Texas, with Kevin Hearne, Jaye Wells, Delilah Dawson, and Rachel Caine at 2:00 p.m. You can get wristbands for this event by presenting a receipt for one of the books starting at 9:00 a.m. the day of the signing. This is going to be a fun event, I have no doubt.

The next weekend, Feb. 25-28, I’ll be in Nacogdoches, Texas, at the Nacogdoches Film Festival, with Joe Lansdale and (I’m sure) a slew of other people. I’ve never been to a film festival, even a low-key one like this, so I’m stoked. And I’ll have a book signing there, though I haven’t firmed my schedule yet.

I truly enjoy doing events and meeting people. But it does absorb a LOT of energy. And you never know what people are going to say. I might predict it correctly ninety-five percent of the time, but that remaining five percent is going to provide me with stunning – or possibly delightful — moments.

I look forward to March . . . my March calendar is beautifully empty. Femmes, are you hitting the signing trail in February?

Charlaine Harris