- The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert
- The Pearl King, Sarah Painter
- American Demon, Kim Harrison
- Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle
- To Marry an English Lord, Gail MacColl & Carol McD. Wallace
- Every Step She Takes, Kelley Armstrong
- Making Up and Pretty Face, Lucy Parker
- Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris
Just to mitigate my all-female list, I read older books by Reginald Hill and Edmund Crispin, too.
Here’s a quirk of mine I’m not glad to admit. Sometimes, the more a book is praised, I get contrary and dig in my feet, no matter who tells me it’s great. That’s how I came to delay reading The Hazel Wood. The praise was all valid. This novel about the power of narrative sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go. Alice, who believes she is seventeen, has led a life that very few teens could match. Though Alice has a famous grandmother she’s never met, Alice and her mother Ella have moved from place to place continually, sometimes just moments ahead of the dreadful thing pursuing them. When her mother is caught and abducted, Alice must find and free her . . . if Ella is not already dead.
The Pearl King is the fourth book about London private eye and criminal family member Lydia Crowe. Lydia’s assistant is a ghost, by the way. Lydia’s powers are just beginning to assert themselves as she faces challenges, both from her terrifying Uncle Charlie and the other criminal families – the Foxes, the Silvers, and the Pearls. I have really enjoyed all these books a lot, and I am anxious to read the next one.
It’s been a long time since Kim Harrison wrote a Rachel Morgan book, but I think fans will find American Demon a very satisfying read. Rachel is in love with her former arch-enemy, but there’s trouble in the Hollows, of course. Apparently, her magic when she saved the world has unleashed something pretty awful, and the opposition against her mounts as she struggles to correct the release of a terrible force.
Madeleine L’Engle is, of course, the celebrated author best known for “A Wrinkled in Time.” Walking on Water is L’Engle’s reflection on being a Christian writer, what that means, and how a writer with that conviction connects to the world and art. Sometimes I agree with her, and sometimes I disagree, but I’m always interested in her ideas.
To Marry an English Lord is not a fictional romance, but a lively collection of the adventures of young American heiresses who crossed the ocean in search of impoverished English noblemen who needed cash. As you might expect, some of them found success and some of them found heartbreak. These women are the basis for the plot of “Downton Abbey” and of Edith Wharton’s “The Buccaneers.”
Kelley Armstrong has long been a favorite writer, and Every Step She Takes is a strong entry in Armstrong’s body of work. Genevieve Callahan is an ex-pat living in Rome, with an interesting apartment and a handsome boyfriend. She never talks about her past, but it catches up with her in a big way when she finds a package on her kitchen table labeled “Lucy Callahan,” a name she hasn’t gone by in years . . . since the terrible scandal that dragged her name and picture through all the tabloids. No one knows the power of lies more than Genevieve, and no one fears a return to the public consciousness as much as her. But can she keep herself safe? Someone is out to get her . . .
Lucy Parker is a lively writer of modern romances. These two (Making Up and Pretty Face) are both set in the London theater scene, and they’re charming. What I like about Parker’s writing is that the protagonists don’t fall into the obvious traps set for them. They talk about their problems and listen to each other. Voila!
I got nothing. I have no plans for next year, except for the most vague. I will go to Malice Domestic . . . if it’s held. I’ll do an event in Fort Worth . . . if they have it. I’ll go to church again . . . when it reopens. In the meantime, I’m watching record hours of TV and reading many, many books. There are worse things to do.