Books & Blog: March 26, 2021

Books & Blog: March 26, 2021

Books:

  • One by One, Ruth Ware
  • Home Before Dark, Riley Sager
  • Blood Heir, Ilona Andrews
  • The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix
  • Nighttown, Timothy Hallinan
  • Calculated Risks, Seanan McGuire
  • The Queen’s Weapons, Anne Bishop
  • Before She was Helen, Caroline B. Cooney
  • Capture the Crown, Jennifer Estep

Ruth Ware is a very good master of suspense. One by One is a closed-community mystery, which means an isolated group contains a murderer. In this case, the isolation is provided by a snowstorm in the Alps during a corporate retreat. Of course, there’s division among the corporate officers, and of course, someone dies as a result. But Ware is so skillful in making this suspenseful, and I really couldn’t put it down.

Riley Sager is equally successful with Home Before Dark. Maggie Holt’s father wrote a book about what happened when he and his wife and daughter moved into an old mansion in the Vermont Woods. The book and its consequences have followed Maggie all her life. When she must return to Baneberry Hall to prepare it for sale, Maggie finds that after rejecting her father’s book her entire life . . . things are happening to her that repeat her childhood experiences. Eeek!

I eagerly waited for Blood Heir, like so many other people, and I was happy with the results. Huge fan of Ilona Andrews. For those of you who haven’t had the good fortune to read Andrews’ books, this one follows the return to Atlanta of Julie Lennart, who is trying to make a prophecy NOT come true.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London is such a great title, I looked forward to opening the book. I was not disappointed. Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, but the one man who might know something is killed by a bookseller named Merlin. Merlin and his sister have a quest, too, that seems to march along with Susan’s. There is never a dull moment in this book, and so many unexpected things happen your head will spin.

Timothy Hallinan is a wonderful writer, and Nighttown is an excellent read. It’s one of Hallinan’s Junior Bender books. Junior, professional criminal, is desperately looking for money to help retrieve his girlfriend’s child. Desperation isn’t good for Junior’s judgment, so when he’s offered $50,000 to retrieve a doll, he accepts the job. Naturally, disaster follows, and Junior has to wriggle out of the trap that’s been set. I loved this book.

I’m not going to elaborate on the plot of Calculated Risks, Seanan McGuire’s latest Incrypted novel. If she writes it, I read it.

The Queen’s Weapons is Anne Bishop’s newest Black Jewels novel. It’s not the one to start one, for sure. If you haven’t read this series, start with the first one and work your way through to get the best grounding in this world. Bishop is a high favorite of mine, and I don’t miss a book of hers, either.

Caroline B. Cooney’s Before She was Helen is a tricky book. Helen, who lives in a senior housing complex in Florida, has many, many layers. For one thing, not even her closest family members know where she lives. For another, while she marks out her days with card playing, social engagements, and interactions with her equally senior neighbors, Helen has a background that would amaze them all. Helen’s downfall begins with her snapping a picture with her phone and sending it to her niece and nephew. You wouldn’t think that would be too dangerous . . . but it turns out to be a serious mistake on Helen’s part.

Capture the Crown is a sort of sequel to Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards series, which I enjoyed. I don’t think you have to have read the Shards books to enjoy Capture, but I recommend it. Gemma Ripley, princess and spy and possessor of strong magic, is our determined hero, and she’s a great one. There’s not much Gemma can’t do, and her best friend is a gargoyle. There are no dull moments in this book.

Blog

I get my second vaccination on April 6, and I will feel free after that. I don’t intend to go into big crowds or fly anywhere, but I will enjoy having lunch with my friends and I hope to see our church fill back up with no pews blocked off.

I’ve kept in touch with my friends during the pandemic. Thank God for email and Facebook and the telephone. I’ve lost friends I wasn’t able to mourn in the conventional way, both personal friends and comrades in the writing community. I am tired of loss and grieving.

Fortunately, I have my husband’s companionship, and I’ve seen all our children and our grandchildren from time to time. I’ve stayed in touch with my agent and my editor, too, though naturally the book world slowed down since people weren’t gathering in the work place. I hope some of my irons in the fire will reignite now, and various projects will begin moving forward.

I know of writers that have continued their regular working pace during this long siege, but I am not one of them. My brain went to sleep, and it was hard to complete anything, even with a contract that told me I had to finish. I hope my writing pace picks up as the world comes back to life.

That’s just about all that’s on my mind, right now. I know “normal” will be a new normal, but I’m really anxious to experience it. I’m sure you are, too.

Charlaine Harris