BOOK & BLOG:  Aug. 10, 2022

BOOK & BLOG: Aug. 10, 2022

  • Blitz, Daniel O’Malley
  • The Lantern Men, The Stone Circle, Elly Griffiths
  • Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting, Sophie Irwin
  • The Bodyguard, Katherine Center
  • Trouble With the Cursed, Kim Harrison
  • How to Write a Mystery, edited by Lee Child and Laurie King
  • The Miracle Detective, Randall Sullivan
  • The Henchmen of Zenda, KJ Charles
  • Fierce Kingdom, Gin Phillips

I was overjoyed to receive an advance copy of Blitz. Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook and Stiletto are two of my favorite books ever, and now I have Blitz! Set in the same world as the first two books, It’s a very complex novel following two timelines, one in WWII during the Blitz, and one in the here-and-now. O’Malley’s secret and terrifying organization, the Checquy, is staffed by people with unusual abilities (some of them VERY unusual). Three women are in the night sky watching the Germans coming to bomb London, when one of them snaps. She brings down a bomber single handed, setting into motion a long series of events. The current thread is about wife and mother Lyn Binns, who is taken in by the Checquy when she electrocutes her kitchen, much to her own horror. You really need to read this book! It’ll be out in October of this year.

I’m almost caught up on the Ruth Galloway books. I’m reading the last published one now. The Lantern Men and The Stone Circle show Ruth at her finest – a good mother, a good archaeologist, a good teacher, and still underneath it all in love with the father of her child, married DCI Nelson. Ruth’s considerable intelligence and integrity make her character memorable.

Sophie Irwin’s Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting sounds like a blithe romp, but it isn’t, underneath. Kitty Talbot, an orphan, has four sisters and a lot of creditors asking for the payment of her profligate father’s debt. Kitty must marry well, and quickly, and she finds no shame in her considerable maneuvering to achieve that goal. Kitty is a great character, and her desperation is real. Watching her progress is suspenseful.

The Bodyguard is in many ways a lighter-hearted book. Hannah Brooks, a protection specialist, is a workaholic in the worst kind of way. But Hannah is absolutely shocked when her boyfriend dumps her. And she’s also shocked when she’s not a shoe-in for heading the London office of her rim. But her biggest shock is being assigned to be a bodyguard for a Hollywood star, reclusive Jack Stapleton, whose mere presence is enough to make a woman drool. Jack has to come back to Houston because his mother has cancer, but he also has to be surreptitious since he has a stalker. Hannah is determined not to fall for the Stapleton charm, but it’s mighty hard . . ..

Trouble with the Cursed is Kim Harrison in top form. Witch Rachel Morgan is beset by so many troubles . . . as always. She’s been trying to assess the demon Hodin, whom she believes is ready to be part of the supernatural community, though she’s been warned to the contrary. Hodin is not the demon she hoped he was, and Rachel goes through situation after situation, juggling her boyfriend, her best friend Ivy, her demon friend Al who is sulking, and the realization of what Hodin is really planning.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned How to Write a Mystery before, but I hope all of you who want to write (or to understand more about the process) will pick up this book. I have an essay in it, so I’m motivated! It was written for Mystery Writers of America, and so many excellent writers give their advice (sometimes conflicting!) that it’s really worth a reading.

Randall Sullivan’s non-fiction book, The Miracle Detective, is exactly what the title implies. Sullivan, a non-believer, investigates Marian mysteries . . . that is, incidents in which the Virgin Mary has appeared (to the most seemingly unlikely people).

I have enjoyed KJ Charles’ work for a long time. The Henchmen of Zenda is one of my favorites. It’s a kind of gay retelling of the famous novel from the secondary characters’ point of view. I had a great time reading it, as I have all of Charles’ books.

I read Gin Phillips’ Fierce Kingdom on my IPad, so it’s taken me a while to remember to mention it. It’s about a mother, Joan, with a young son, who’s at the zoo late. When the zoo is closing, Joan hears gunfire. Her ordeal begins. She must protect her child, hide, telephone her location to the police, and use all her wits to ensure she and her son survive the night. This is very suspenseful and involves some difficult choices for Joan. It’s really un-put-downable.

Blog:

As those of you who follow me on Facebook will already know, my husband and I celebrated our forty-fourth year of marriage this month. We’ve had bumps and roadblocks, as every marriage has. But I never thought of being with anyone else for one second, and I don’t believe Hal has either.

Together we have raised three children to adulthood, and they are all leading fulfilling lives. They are all quite different from us and from each other in many ways, so we did our job right, I think. Sometimes they disagree with us, and sometimes they disagree with each other, but I think that’s normal. We love them all ferociously.

We have two grands and we are ridiculously proud of them. They take golf and jujitsu lessons, and they learn new things every day. They are kind, intelligent, and beautiful. We would not say no to having more grandchildren!

We are very fortunate. I try to count my blessings every day.

Best of all, I feel that lately I am finally recovering from my two bouts of COVID. My brain feels more active (I am sure some would disagree with that!), and I feel smarter (that, too). I am able to write more every day, thank God. Please don’t believe that COVID is “no worse than a cold.” That’s grossly underestimating COVID’s long reach, even if you are lucky enough to have mild symptoms.

I’m looking forward to the fall, when maybe the temperature here will drop down below 99, and maybe there will be rain. We have had weeks of temps well over 100 degrees F, and there is something extremely exhausting about that, especially now that I have turned seventy. We have seen the smoke from three fires from our windows, and so far we have not had to evacuate. Fingers crossed!

That’s all that’s on my mind these days, but it seems like enough.

Charlaine Harris