September is a grand month for reading. We've come up with some great suggestions.
It’s so extremely difficulty to write funny books without prat-falling, stupid characters that I must recognize one that celebrates intelligence. And the hero is a total hunk, too. Hang around for the ending. You won’t regret it.
And a miracle of sorts, I found a second book I can report on with relish—Eileen Goudge’s Bones and Roses. The heroine is a reformed alcoholic, fallen from real estate glamor in a pricey California coastal town to maintaining the properties she once sold. When she is directed toward the bones of her mother, missing for twenty-five years, and the local police force doesn’t have the funds or interest to follow up, she uses her knowledge of the locals to track the murderer on her own. Several romantic interests, lovely setting, and the heroine shows nice growth. And she gets the help of someone knowledgeable in her detecting instead of bumbling around like an idiot—most of the time.
Mary Jo here. It's a little embarrassing that I don't have anything new to recommend. Kerry Greenwood's Corinna Chapman books have been mentioned here before, but having just visited Melbourne and loved the city, I couldn't resist reading all six books again. Set in contemporary Melbourne, the stories are told from the point of view of Corinna, a fat and happy former accountant turned brilliant bread baker. She lives and works in a city center apartment building designed in Roman style, and with a wonderful variety of fellow residents.
I love the many delightful characters, who range from the elegant Mrs. Dawson in her 70s to the 15 year old former heroine addict who becomes Corinna's apprentice and a genius muffin maker. And one mustn't forget Corinna's lover, a wildly handsome, kind, and sexy Israeli detective who finds her beautiful and enchanting. They have wonderful meals together, and are altogether a great romantic couple.
I also adore the many highly individual felines, such as the Mouse Police, who keep the bakery vermin free, and who race out every morning to the nearby sushi shop to beg scraps of Endangered Fish of the Southern Ocean. There is Horatio, a tabby of high standards, and Lucifer, an orange kitten of suicidal courage and daredevil deeds. Some of the plotting is wildly unlikely, but I don't care because I love the humor and the way Kerry Greenwood puts words together. First in the series is Earthly Delights,and I do hope she eventually writes more Corinnas!
Cara/Andrea here. I’m afraid I don’t have any new-to-me authors to report on this month. Along with the usual hectic spin of life, I realized I had some catching up to do on two long-running two series by Anne Perry, which I enjoy very much. So, my nose has been buried in The Angel Court Affair, the latest in her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries, and Corridors of the Night, the latest in her William Monk mysteries.
I really like the way Perry captures the range of human emotions and foibles, especially as she continues to develop the relationship between the two married couples and their families and close friends. Things are never black and white, but always shaded in an infinite range of grays, even with the villains, who at first blush may seem irredeemably evil. That she observed the small moments too, and how powerful the simple joys of just sitting next to a loved one reading can be, adds to the textures and nuances of her books. The plots are also interesting and at times unexpected, as she weaves in strong threads of the issues of the era. All in all, I always find them engaging and interesting reads.
Jo here. I recently read The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
The Goblin Emperor is a fantasy novel, or perhaps best described as an other world novel, as the touches of magic are very slight. The common fantasy element it does have is the lost heir storyline. Maia is the youngest son of the emperor and is living in obscure, abusive exile because he is the result of a dynastic union between the emperor of the Elflands and a goblin woman.
The elves, of course, are pale and elegant. Goblins are dark, sturdy, and in elvish minds, inferior. But when his father and half-brothers are killed in an airship crash (clearly they've never heard that such dynastic groups should never travel together) he's pulled out of the middle of nowhere and into a labyrinthine and befuddling court where he doesn't even understand most of the terms, and which is typically a boiling stew of intrigue, faction, and rivalry.
This is an odd book in many ways, and it has some flaws, but I enjoyed it, in part because Maia is the emperor, doing all the things an emperor does. He wears the correct robes, reads many documents, and attends appropriate meetings and social gatherings, but not inappropriate ones. So often in such books the discovered ruler is never seen in his or her ruling role, but is plunged into free-wheeling adventures, so I found this refreshing. As for his befuddling court, we learn about it as he does, and his complex and well drawn character makes the process very engaging.
I read a piece by the author which highlighted why Maia makes this book. "I wanted to write someone whose ethical compass could find true north and stick to it," she writes. Yes! And also: "This could, of course, have turned into a Candide-like satire, in which Maia´s compassion is met at every turn by betrayal and derision. And it´s not that betrayal and derision don´t happen, either; the Elflands are not a Utopia. But I wanted to write a story(reflecting my own ethical beliefs, which I get more fierce about as I grow older) in which compassion was a strength instead of a weakness." Yes, again. I get so tired of cruel, violent, or wounded-so-they'll-wound-others heroes.
nicely, but at others he did understand the nuances, so when I didn't, it irritated. I also found his relationship with Csethiro, his approved betrothed, unformed. It had great potential, she had the makings of a great character, but
it was a weak thread that was left hanging. Perhaps that's just the romance reader in me.
However, this big book held my interest to the end, so I recommend it. I'm not alone. The Goblin Emperor received the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Awards.
What am I reading?
I recently went back for a reread of an old favorite, The Folk of the Air by Peter S. Beagle. I never get tired of his writing because he's lyrical and evocative and he never writes the same sort of book twice. I wish he would. Every one of his books leaves me wanting more.
Folk of the Air takes us to Southern California in the 70s, the era of Peace, Love and recreational Drugs. The book is a wild ride of historical scholars, the Society for Creative Anachronism — those are the people who dress up as Medieval folk and stage mock battles with sword and buckler — Renaissance Faire, time travel, hippies, an ancient goddess, love and friendship, strolling minstrel, fairies, coming of age, madness, Timbuktu, Vikings, and old, old magic.
If this book were a recipe it would say, "Throw everything you got into a pot and stir."
It would come out tasting exceedingly good.
So what have you been reading lately?
Some lucky commenter will receive a copy of The Last Chance Christmas Ball a cool collection of Christmas stories from all of us to all of you. The Christmas season, a sparkling ballroom, and a time when, against any odds, love wins at last.