Books of the Week:
- Fallen, Benedict Jacka
- A Plague of Giants, Kevin Hearne
- Below Stairs, Margaret Powell
- The Monster of Florence, Douglas Preston and Mario Spazi
- Changeling, Molly Harper
- The Night Raven, Sarah Painter
- A Dangerous Man, Robert Crais
- Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander, M.D.
Alex Verus is one of those characters who makes a natural progression from one book to the next. He’s a former bad guy who escaped his situation and is trying to be good and stay out of magical politics, when we first met him years ago. By the time he’s Fallen, Alex is having to discard the principles he clung to in order to live and save the people he cares for. And I’m along for the ride, wherever Benedict Jacka chooses to take me next.
Kevin Hearne’s A Plague of Giants is a departure from his Iron Druid books that so delighted me. I’m ashamed it took me so long to get to it, because it’s a wonderful book, told through several viewpoints surrounding the same events. Giants are (obviously) invading this world, some because their volcanic land blew up and some who are mysteriously boating in from . . . somewhere. Various nations are reacting in different ways to the appearance of this (literally) huge threat, and it’s a delight to meet all the people Hearne dreams up. A great story.
Margaret Powell started “in service” in the 1920s as a kitchen maid, the lowest of the low. A keen observer, Powell picked up the basics of her job and the characters of the people around her, both the masters upstairs and the other servants downstairs. Her social observations and her blunt approach to getting ahead of refreshing and a little in-your-face. If you’re a “Downton Abbey” fan, you’ll enjoy Below Stairs.
Douglas Preston met Italian reporter Mario Spezi when he was researching The Monster of Florence, the uncaught perpetrator of some terrible crimes, mostly against courting couples. This book was written by the two after incompetent police charged Preston and Spezi with the murders. The crimes are shocking in and of themselves, and the crazy investigation is even more shocking.
I’ve known Molly Harper a bit for several years, and I was delighted to read Changeling. Sarah Smith has lived her whole short life as the child of a servant family, but one day their employers, the Winters, discover that Sarah has magical power. To bolster their own position in society, the Winters send Sarah to the young ladies’ magical school under an assumed name. Sarah is not able to see her real family, must assume manners and scholastic tasks she’s never mastered, and maneuver her way among the various cliques at the school. Far from being excited by her good fortune, Sarah is terrified . . . with good reason.
I read the second of Sarah Painter’s books about Lydia Crow before I picked up The Night Raven. Lydia is learning how to be a really good investigator, but she comes from one of the four magical clans (the Crows) and their needs pull her into an investigation that puts Lydia in serious danger. The Pearls, the Silvers, and the Foxes all have a part in why Maddie Crow disappeared, and they resent Lydia’s interference. I enjoyed the hell out of this book.
Robert Crais has been one of my heroes for years. I love his work. A Dangerous Man is no exception. Joe Pike is leaving his bank when he sees the young teller who assisted him as she leaves for her lunch hour. She’s abducted. Joe helps her, and she can’t explain why anyone would want to abduct her. She genuinely doesn’t know. Of course, Joe calls his friend Elvis Cole to help him find out. They discover a twisted bit of past history. Isobel Roland, the teller, discovers more about her parents than she’d ever known, and none of it’s good. Great reading, as always.
Dr. Eben Alexander became more ill than I can imagine. He was in a coma, and his brain was not active. His family was informed he was going to die very soon. But during this coma, Alexander had experiences that he remembered when he finally started to come back to health. These are what he terms Proof of Heaven. It’s a challenging book and an encouraging book, too.
Change of seasons here in central Texas, finally. I love Fall, and there’s so much to look forward to. Bouchercon will be in Dallas at the end of this month, and I’ll get to see a lot of friends in one spot, as well as a lot of readers.
In November, a friend of ours is being ordained as a priest, and we are pretty excited for her. Very sadly, the family wedding we had anticipated has been called off, so we are trying to think about happy things. Cooler weather will be a big help in that. Starting Monday, we can expect temperature below ninety some days, and that will be amazing.
I’m working on my calendar for next year. Already on it: PopCon in San Antonio on Feb. 29, Booklovers in Nashville March 18-22, and MisCon in Missoula, Montana, over Memorial Day weekend. I’ve agreed to one con which hasn’t set its date, yet. I’ll get that up as soon as I have it.
I’m working hard on my third Gunnie Rose book, as yet untitled. I hope you all are anticipating A LONGER FALL in January. I’ve read it so many times in the proofing process that it would take a gun to my head to make me read it again. But you’ll see it with fresh eyes!