BOOK & BLOG:  Nov. 10, 2022

BOOK & BLOG: Nov. 10, 2022

  • Clark and Division, Naomi Hirahawa
  • Ruby Fever, Ilona Andrews
  • A Catalogue of Catastrophe, Jodi Taylor
  • Augusta Hawke and Weycombe, G.M. Malliet
  • Deer Creek Drive, Beverly Lowry
  • Exit Interview, Dana Cameron
  • The Final Gambit, Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Soul Taken, Patricia Briggs
  • The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, Cat Sebastian
  • The Strange, Nathan Ballingrud
  • The Golden Enclaves, Naomi Novik
  • Blitz, Daniel O’Malley
  • The Seventh Bride, T.Kingfisher
  • Devil’s Chew Toy, Rob Osler

You can see it’s been a while since I talked about the books I’d been reading, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I’ll try to be brief, since I don’t want you to get bored and drift away.

Naomi Hirahawa’s Clark and Division has been widely lauded, and rightly so. This tale about a young Japanese woman and her family, interned during WWII in America and then sent to Chicago to live with the older daughter, is harrowing in many ways and inspirational in others. There’s a mystery at the heart of this book: upon their arrival, the family finds the older daughter is dead. Aki, the younger sister, is determined to know why.

I have loved every one of Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy novels. Ruby Fever, the final one (sob) is just as exciting as the rest. I love this version of Houston, with magical families pretty much exempt from the law and prone to ruthless infighting.

A Catalogue of Catastrophe is by Jodi Taylor, and that means I enjoyed every page.

G.M. Malliet (whom I’ve known for years) is a consistently excellent writer. If you haven’t read Weycombe, a standalone, please do. It’s a twister. And Augusta Hawke, the first of Malliet’s books about this character, feature a mystery writer who decides to solve a real crime. Augusta rings true.

Deer Creek Drive felt like home to me. I grew up close to where the real-life murder at the center of Beverly Lowry’s book occurred, and at a time I remember. If you want to know what living in the Mississippi Delta was like a few decades ago, this is the book you ought to read.

It’s no secret that Dana Cameron is a good friend of mine. But even if she wasn’t, I’d recommend Exit Interview. Three strong women (reporter Amy Lindstrom, covert op Jayne Rogers, tech savvy Nicole Bradley) and lots of action in this first full-length “a.k.a. Jayne” novel make it a rocking thriller.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes has really sucked me into her Inheritance Games series. I plunged into the last one, The Final Gambit. I think I should have reread the previous novel before I took the dive, but once I started the book I couldn’t stop. This series MUST be read in order. First is The Inheritance Games.

Soul Taken is another must-read Mercy Thompson book. Patricia Briggs is amazing. Enough said.

I had never read Cat Sebastian before The Queer Principles of Kit Webb. Set in the 1700s, this novel about two very different men who fall in love is both wildly improbable but really charming, like all the best romances.

The Strange will be on the shelves in March, 2023. This is very superior YA. I was so impressed with the planning and skill with which Nathan Ballingrud tells the story of Anabelle, the early-teen narrator of the story. She works in a diner on Mars in the town of New Galveston. Her father and their robot are her most constant companions. Disaster strikes, and Anabelle reacts in the way most thirteen-year-olds would – without understanding or anticipating the consequences.

Naomi Novik’s concluding book in the Scholomance series is just as challenging as the first two. This incredibly dark tale about a school that wants to kill the students and the determined El’s reaction to that . . . a review on the back cover describes the series as “eyeball-meltingly brilliant,” and I agree.

I have loved all of Daniel O’Malley’s books, and Blitz, his third Checquy novel, is no exception. There are two threads throughout the book, one during WWII, and one in the current world, and O’Malley weaves them in and out to give you the past and present fallout from one rash action during the German bombing of London.

I had the good luck to meet T. Kingfisher at the resent World Fantasy Convention in New Orleans, so I got to tell in her in person how much I’ve enjoyed her work, most recently The Seventh Bride. Rhea, a lowly miller’s daughter, is pressed into marriage by the mysterious Lord Crevan. No one likes this, but no one can prevent it, either. Rhea is made of sterner stuff than Crevan’s previous wives, so she has a chance of surviving the experience . . . maybe.

Devil’s Chew Toy is a charming mystery about a small gay man and the trouble he gets into when he starts noticing things. Hayden’s crush, the dancer Camilo, vanishes, and the police blame Hayden. He begins his own quest to find the handsome Camilo, and the process changes his life.

Blog:

Next week THE SERPENT IN HEAVEN will finally, finally, be on the shelves. Of course, I hope it flies off. This has been the longest gap between book publications that I can ever remember in my career, and it’s because of . . .  you guessed it . . .  supply chain issues. While not as critical as the shortage of computer chips, in my own personal economy it’s looked pretty large. Also, this long desert gap has been hard on my ego. It’s hard to feel like a writer if you don’t have a new book to show for over a year.

I’m not touring for this book. I miss that, and I don’t. Traveling is painful for me now, though I love to meet the people who actually read my books. It charges me up, getting out there and answering questions, meeting bookstore personnel who sell my books and meeting patrons who buy them in whatever format they prefer. In 2022, a tour is not happening. I’m doing lots of podcasts and Zooms and Streamyards, phone interviews, and a few conventions instead. I hope you’ve seen/heard/read some of these.

The high points of the past few months? Going to our daughter’s engagement party – what a happy event. Doing a Powell’s Books event with Daniel O’Malley, one of my favorite writers. Listening to our nine-year-old granddaughter tell me (in depth) about her Minecraft game while she got her nails done (yes!).  And on the 21st Hal and I will go see what our grands have been learning in Forest School.

I have done NO cooking for Thanksgiving. Zero. Nada. But I’ve simply been too busy. Maybe after next week I’ll be able to get a few things together? Oh, wait . . . that’s the week of Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure we won’t starve. However little time I have, I can arrange for food to be on the table. As long as we’re together. That’s what makes my heart happy.

Charlaine Harris