BOOK & BLOG
July 8, 2009
Books of the Week:
What a diverse bunch of books! I read several others in the past two weeks, but two of them were so disappointing that I don’t think I’ll review them.
On the sweeter and cozier side, Miss Read’s series of books about post-WWII England are as good as eating a sugar cookie. But they’re not too sweet; there are grumpy people, stupid people, and mean people in Read’s villages of Thrush Green and Fairacre, but there are plenty that have good sense and good will to balance those out. There are at least twenty of these books to read, so if you get hooked on them you’ll stay busy for a while. In NEWS FROM THRUSH GREEN, a young mother named Phil moves into a long-abandoned cottage with her son, and a local bachelor takes an interest. Winnie Bailey’s nephew Richard pays a protracted visit. Okay, that’s about all. But I love these books.
MaryJanice Davidson’s UNDEAD AND UNWELCOME has the darker tone the Betsy books have assumed. Betsy and Sinclair return the body of the werewolf Antonia to the Cape Cod estate of the king of the werewolves. They’re sure they’re going to meet with a mixed reception, and they’re right.
The earlier Queen Betsy books contained some dark material, too, but it was easier to disregard because of the supreme fun of meeting Betsy and watching her adjust to her new nature and status. Now that Betsy’s married, she and her consort Sinclair face serious problems. Betsy is still funny, but darker things are happening to her.
If you have read past columns, you know that Sarah Monette is one of my favorite writers. CORAMBIS, the conclusion of the Felix and Mildmay books, is a continuation of the excellence of the previous books. For goodness’ sake, don’t start with CORAMBIS. Go back to the first book, MELUSINE, and enjoy this fabulously imagined series from the beginning. Though CORAMBIS doesn’t have the flamboyance of the previous three installments, I found that appropriate, given the action of the book.
Finally, to a very different book, A DOZEN BLACK ROSES. Nancy A. Collins writes horror. She doesn’t do paranormal romance, or urban fantasy, or any of the gentler broader terms. While her Sonja Blue books are landmarks in vampire writing history, they’re not for the weak of stomach or the faint of heart. ROSES is a Sonja Blue book; Sonja herself is an indelible character. Sonja was picked up at a club by a vampire, infected with the vampire virus, and tossed out on the street as dead. But she doesn’t die, she confounds (and horrifies) everyone by living. She has some vampire characteristics, but she retains a little humanity, too. She lives an existence of brutality as she searches for the vampire who discarded her . . . and she doesn’t want to give him a hug.
Naturally, I’m way behind on Sookie Ten, which still doesn’t have a title. My editor and I have been emailing back and forth (with increasing panic) over the title selection, and we’ve narrowed it down to a couple of selections . . . I think.
The reasons I’m behind are almost too numerous to list. Here’s what they boil down to: promotion for “True Blood” and a bad start to the book that took me forever to correct. I had built my own two roadblocks and then couldn’t get past them. Finally, I woke up one morning understanding what was wrong and how to fix it. When you remove two big actions in the book, you have to make a lot of corrections, and you have to replace them with SOMETHING.
So now I’m zipping along the Sookie highway, my ears flapping in the wind . . . well, not quite, but I am making progress every day and feeling much less miserable.
I’m doing a lot of unexpected research, but that’s fun, too.
Unfortunately, this is going to be travel month. At the end of this week, I’m going to the American Library Association event in Chicago, and while I’m there, I’ll be on a panel at the ALA, do a signing, visit the Sisters in Crime booth, go to a Recorded Books party . . . in one day. The next day, I do a television show, have lunch with a dear friend, and then go to a signing in Oak Brook.
What’s after that? ComicCon. Or ComiCon. Or Comiccon, July 23-26. I’ve seen it so many different way. Anyway, I’ll be there, and I’ll do a signing and another Heap Big Secret Thing, which for some reason I can’t discuss.
After the furor of ComicCon, I’ll go to a smaller and quieter event, the Anhinga Writers Workshop in Gainesville, Florida (July 29-30). This is called “Write the Region.” I’ll do some talks, give some advice, and do a signing. I look forward to the more personal touch of a smaller venue.
I’ll take my laptop with me, but I don’t think I’ll get much new material written. However, editing is always profitable. In writing, there’s no such thing as free time. You can either be building a new house, or shoring up the foundation.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris