BOOK & BLOG
Sept. 3, 2007
Books of the Week: Thin Air by Rachel Caine, A Long December by Donald Harstad, The Mirador by Sarah Monette
I should pick some completely new writer for this weeks book review piece, but instead I decided to mention three favorite writers of mine who produce wildly different works. That way therell be something for everyone.
If youve visited this list very often, youll know Im a fan of Rachel Caines. I like her Morganville books (primarily young adult novels) and I love her Weather Warden books. THIN AIR, the most recent in the WW series, is typical Caine: fast-paced, one solid crisis and several mini-crises throughout, and full of the marvelous world inhabited by people who can control the weather and the genies who were formerly enslaved to them. I love the non-humanity of the genies, Joannes love of fast cars and expensive clothes, and the continuing series of revelations that keep you gasping for more.
I also read A LONG DECEMBER by the wonderful Donald Harstad. In the very unlikely event that I divorced my husband of 29 years, Id track down Harstads protagonist Carl Houseman and propose to him on the spot. (This is just to tell you how warm and human I find Houseman; in the books, hes very happily married to the sensible Sue.) Housemans always a little smarter than other law-enforcement types think he is, though hes honest enough to admit that a lot of the best ideas he has are the result of accident. Nation County, Iowa, is one of my favorite places to visit. Though its a rural county limping along with widely-spaced law enforcement coverage, Harsted presents the challenges its protectors must face, from drug manufacturers to terrorists, with complete credibility.
My publisher was kind enough to send me a copy of Sarah Monettes newest book, THE MIRADOR. This is the third Mildmay and Felix book: I highly recommend starting with the first book, MELUSINE. I dont want to dampen any sales for Monette, but her books are so complex and richly textured that youll want to read them with full comprehension. You really need to start with MELUSINE, then THE VIRTU, and then THE MIRADOR, to get the full flavor of the world shes created. Monettes two main characters are Mildmay the Fox, former thief and murderer, and Felix, beautiful and talented magician. A third character, Mehitabel, former governess, now actress, shares the narrative in this book. Mehitabel, former traveling companion to the two and former lover of Mildmay, is a great character all on her own. Someday when I have a clear reading space, I plan to re-read all of Monettes books from the beginning.
I think all of these books are well-written and they visit worlds I love to sample. I dont think you can go wrong with any one of them.
This will be a traveling week for me, a week Ill have to store in the category of mixed blessings. First I go to Dallas for the birthday of MANY BLOODY RETURNS, the anthology I co-edited with Toni L.P. Kelner. Ill get to see Pat Elrod and Rachel Caine there, and I know Ill have a good time. Dallas signings have always gone well in past years, and I can hope to see some familiar readers in the crowd.
After I come home on Wednesday, on Thursday I fly up to Phoenix for CopperCon, a science fiction convention. I dont know any of the attendees, so I can hope to meet new and congenial people, but I can also expect to feel a little lonely some of the time. Fortunately, science fiction crowds are -- without exception -- full of very bright people with lots of entertaining ideas. Maybe Ill return home the next Monday with some of these ideas fermenting in my brain.
At the end of the month (check my CALENDAR) Ill go to Houston for an event sponsored by my all-time favorite bookstore, Murder By the Book. Ive never rated one of their famous luncheons at the Briar Club, and Im stoked for this one. The luncheon, if Im recalling correctly, is open to 140 (?) people, who get a copy of the book as part of the price of coming to the luncheon. Your seat has to be booked in advance through the store. Im looking forward to the occasion all the more since its the only signing Im doing specifically for AN ICE COLD GRAVE. Im really anticipating the pub date for AICG, because I sweated bullets writing it and Im really proud of it.
Right after my signing luncheon, I fly to Anchorage, Alaska, for Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. I am hoping against hope that my son, stationed at Fort Wainwright at Fairbanks, will get a weekend pass and come to join me there. We dont get to see him often, and it would be a real treat to spend some time with him.
While Im at Bouchercon, I get to accept an award Im truly proud to have earned. Its the Reacher Award, given by the folks at Crimespree, a mystery magazine. Ive known them for several years and enjoyed their company and comments at conventions. Since the other two winners of the Reacher Award are Lee Child (the originator of the character Jack Reacher) and Michael Connelly, who is universally admired and respected, I am in stellar company. When the Crimespree staff listed their qualifications for achieving the Reacher, I found I had pulled the wool over their eyes quite thoroughly, because to earn the award you have to be a mystery-writing Mother Theresa.
When I fly back from Alaska, I get to stay home and work for while. Believe me, Ill need it. Not only is it always good to get back into my routine and to work, but Ill need time to process the new thoughts and experiences Ill have crammed into my already-bursting brain.
I hope to see you somewhere down the road.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris