Books of the Week:
I have a lot of time to read in airports, so I’ll start working down the pile of books I read, some on my IPad, and some in solid book format.
- Red Sister, Mark Lawrence
- Lies, Damned Lies, and History, Jodi Taylor
- Dark Legacy, Christine Feehan
- The Western Star, Craig Johnson
This is quite a spread of reading experience, huh? Red Sister takes place in a land where conditions are fairly medieval, in some respects. But some children are taken from their homes if they have certain extra-natural abilities. Or if the parents are starving, they may sell their child to a child-dealer, who takes them to the capital and sells them to whoever needs a child with a particular ability. One child, Nona Gray, is saved from the gallows by the Abbess of the Convent of Sweet Mercy. At the convent, girls are taught the art of killing and maximizing of their particular talent. Nona is a girl with secrets, and they’re not happy ones. Nona herself blazes with life, making Red Sister a compelling read. This is a very, very fine book.
You all know I’m a great fan of Jodi Taylor’s. I’m eking out the Chronicles of St. Mary’s books I haven’t read, and I’m coming close to the end. Lies, Damned Lies, and History is the most scouring of Taylor’s entries, because our Max makes enough mistakes to choke a goat. She travels back with the St. Mary’s historians, though heavily pregnant, to become embroiled in a war in early England. If she doesn’t escape in the St. Mary’s travel pod, her child will be born in between, which means he is not part of Earth’s timeline anymore. The stubborn Max, who has some great and endearing qualities, is really too reckless and headstrong in this book, and she pays the price. But as always, there is humor mixed in with the danger.
I got to visit with Christine Feehan at StoryCon in New Orleans. She’s a wonderful person, interesting and dedicated to her craft. I’d read several of her earlier books, and when I got home I read Dark Legacy. Feehan writes dominant males, who only want to protect and care for women they see as theirs. But I give a great hats’ off to her, because the women are determined too, but in a different way. While the male Carpathians often seem the same, the women they love are very different. Emeline is pregnant with the child of a loathesome vampire, one who raped her systematically. She is afraid of contact with other people, for fear she will taint them. The Carpathian Dragomir has been alone for centuries, and is afraid he’ll return to the dark side if he doesn’t find someone to love. Of course, they are going to come together and fight for each other. This is sheer wish fulfillment, but there’s really nothing wrong with that!
I hope you’ve watched the TV show made from Craig Johnson’s books, “Longmire.” It’s really good. The books are even better. The Western Star, a trainful of sheriffs, is missing someone . . . and that someone turns up dead. Walt Longmire himself is the chief suspect. But this is only one of the problems Walt faces. A vicious serial killer he apprehended is coming up for parole, and he’s rumored to be dying. Will the parole board let the killer out, since these are his last days? This book, unlike others in the series, ends with the story unfinished, and I can hardly wait for the second book. Johnson’s writing is admirable. Spare and precise, it hooks us into Walt’s world and makes us feel part of it.
It’s very nice to be in my own home again, and not on an airplane or in a hotel. Of course, I travel next week to go to Bouchercon (the world mystery convention) in Toronto, but I’m savoring this moment.
In professional news, I finished the editorial changes on “An Easy Death,” the new and probably final title of my next year’s book. It’s at the publishing house being copyedited, I am sure. Eventually, I’ll get the manuscript back to okay the changes the copyeditor deems necessary. (Or not okay them.) Like many writers, I get unreasonably angry at the copyeditor (whom I will never meet) when he/she catches one of my mistakes. Or doesn’t understand the material, which usually means rewrites.
Eventually, everyone will agree that the book’s as good as it’s going to get, and it will go to the printer, to appear in bookstores sometime next year. Every time I go through this process, by the time it’s over I’m convinced I’ve written a terrible book, the suckiest novel in the history of novels.
I hope you will not agree with that. When it’s close to the drop date, I will perk up.
In the meantime, I’ve started the second book in the series, and so far, I’m enjoying myself. That’s my goal. I feel that if I can entertain myself, I can entertain you.
Back to the travel topic. On this mini-tour, I visited five independent bookstores and got the same question at all but one. And this is a new question, no one’s asked me this before. “Do you dream about your books?” Where did this come from? Did some writer recently say she dreamed her books? Why this sudden interest? Any of you know?
The wait to see if “Midnight, Texas” will be renewed has really stretched out. It’s a good show that’s gotten great responses, but it’s also expensive to produce; lots of special effects. I am ever hopeful!