Some Books

The Great Sequestration let us all get caught up on our reading, right? In my case, I often couldn’t concentrate to read, a situation I’ve never faced before. That issue has faded lately. I thought I’d share a few I’ve read, and some brief thoughts.

I already wrote about With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. This is YA, but I recommend it for anyone who feels like they are having trouble holding onto their dreams right now.

Leonard Goldman’s initial Joanna Blalock mystery, The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes, was fluffy but fun. Narrated by Dr. John Watson Jr, the book tells the story of a suspicious death that is being ruled a suicide. The dead man’s sister seriously doubts it. She approaches Dr. Watson Senior, famous chronicler of the tales of Sherlock Holmes, and he enlists the help of a witness to the death, Joanna Blalock, who is… well, see the title. The book relies heavily (a little too heavily) on Holmesian deduction–a strange thing to say about about Holmes tribute book, I know–and doesn’t get Irene Adler right, but she isn’t as wrong as recent live action entertainments, large and small screen, have been. It’s Book One of a series and if you like puzzle mysteries and nasty villains, give it a try.

I reviewed Alexandra Rowland’s A Choir of Lies for Fantasy Literature. This is Book Two in Rowland’s series and both books are graced with absolutely gorgeous covers. Rowland is playful textually with the book, using a lot of footnotes. The premise of the book is that our first-person narrator has written down his version of events in a country that’s a fantasy analog of the Netherlands during a fantasy analog of the Tulip Craze, and given the manuscript to a person who was also there at the time. The reader has strong opinions that do not match those of the original writer, and engages passionately with footnotes and later by breaking into the narrative and writing partial chapters themselves. What’s not to love? Surprisingly, for me, quite a bit. The book is 450 pages long and for the first 171 pages, nearly nothing happens. And the Tulip Craze has been done before, so it wasn’t new enough or interesting enough to carry the philosophical or emotional weight of the story. On the plus side, Rowland’s prose is delightful and her descriptions lush and beautiful. Her exploration of the use (and ownership) of stories is interesting in both books. Read it for the ideas.

Life in a Medieval Village, by Frances and Joseph Gies, is one of a series. “Medieval” is specifically 12th-13th centuries in specific parts of Europe. This isn’t one I’m reading from cover to cover. I just dip into in now and then. Clear, readable prose and good research–some good photos and illustrations too. A reviewer at Powell’s calls it a good general introduction to the period and I would agree.

Currently I’m reading Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. I got it because it got a lot of genre buzz. I didn’t think I would like it because necromancy is my least favorite magical system, and because I grow tired of nasty characters. To my surprise, I am enjoying it in spite of myself!

There’s a handful. Feel free to check them out.

This entry was posted in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *