Books & Blog: June 22

Books of the Week:

  • To Die in Vienna, Kevin Wignall
  • Sky in the Deep, Adrienne Young
  • Half the World, Joe Abercrombie
  • Bringing Adam Home, Les Standiford with Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews
  • Brief Cases, Jim Butcher
  • Blood Orbit, K.R. Richardson

What a great assortment!

 

I think I’ve read everything of Kevin Wignall’s now, and I’ll keep on going. Wignall’s books are usually about men and women who’ve worked in the intelligence community, most often men who have left active service but get drawn back into it. There’s lot of outsmarting, lots of danger, splashes of death, and lots of electronic spying. The reader gets the feeling that some of these operatives are damaged irrevocably; others have a somewhat brighter future. To Die in Vienna’s fractured guy is Freddie, who has become a freelance surveillance expert. Since he doesn’t have much life of his own, he becomes drawn into that of the man he’s watching, Jiang Cheng . . . until Jiang is abducted, and Freddie’s own life is threatened.

 

Adrienne Young’s Sky in the Deepis one of the most amazing YA books I’ve read this year. YA is not a tender genre these days, and there’s plenty of death and fighting in Young’s story about a 17-year-old warrior named Eelyn, of the Aska tribe, whose beloved brother was killed by the Askas’ traditional enemies, the Rikis. In a battle between the two clans, Eelyn sees a warrior who looks a lot like her brother . . . and he’s fighting for the Rikis. Stephanie Garber’s quote on the back of the book calls it, “Fierce, vivid, and violently beautiful.” I can’t say better than that.

 

Half the World is another YA book that proves YA isn’t for sweetness and light any more. The central character is a new one, though some of the people from Abercrombie’s Half a Kingreturn. Thorn (who is also a warrior maiden, though quite a different character from Eelyn) is cheated out of her chance to fight for her country, so when she’s offered a different way to adventure, she takes it. She accompanies a group of misfits on a secret errand from the government. Its success can change the course of her country’s history. And it certainly changes Thorn’s life. There’s no escaping some harsh realities in Abercrombie’s world, and no allowance for youth and inexperience.

 

Many of you will remember the abduction of Adam Walsh, or at least the result of it. John Walsh and his wife Reve made their son’s death the cause of their lives. America’s Most Wantedcaused many arrests, and Walsh became an authority on child abduction. It’s evident how far law enforcement has come after the events detailed in Bringing Adam Home. The Walsh family’s personal tragedy (Adam was found dead) had far-reaching consequences.

 

Brief Casesis a collection of Harry Dresden short stories. It’s easy to forget how good Jim Butcher really is, at least partly because (like me) he’s been writing in the urban fantasy genre for a long time. But Butcher is one of the greats, and each story reminds me why that is. If you’re a Dresden fan, this is a must-read.

 

K.R. Richardson happens to be my friend Kat Richardson, whose Graywalker series some of you may remember. Blood Orbit will show you just what a superior world builder Richardson is, because the beings who live on a company-owned planet, Gattis, are absolutely realized. The society is incredibly intricate. A mass killing in an after-hours club involves new cop Eric Matheson, who is seconded to a boss he finds fascinating but repellent. Dillal has had implants to make him a more valuable forensic detective, and the result is unsettling, to say the least. Blood Orbitis a truly amazing achievement.

 

Blog

 

It’s been one of those weeks that somehow got really complicated and chopped up. You know how that can happen? You suddenly realize you have three appointments for one day, or workmen are coming two days in a row, or you have to quickly organize something you’d completely forgotten you had to organize.

 

I had to write a short story, go to a church meeting, celebrate Father’s Day with our three children, post about a ladies’ lunch, start work on a tribute to a friend, and of course do the laundry. It’s amazing to me that two people can wear so many clothes. I had a dentist appointment and a doctor appointment and a Skype interview. I had to do some mandatory reading for a committee I’m on.

 

My focus in the coming week will be to refocus on the book I’m writing and make significant progress before we keep our grandchildren next weekend. For four days. That’s the longest we’ve ever been in charge, and I know we’ll have fun . . . but we’ll be drained of energy.

 

So think about me during the coming week, if you have a moment, and wish me patience and inventiveness to keep those two wonderful small people entertained and happy.

 

Charlaine Harris