Please don’t confuse this post with my Paying It Forward blog post . I read many books throughout the year, both by mainstream and indie authors, so I thought I would occasionaly write up some fun blurbs for your viewing pleasure.
Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire
Fairy world meets hard-boiled detective novel
McGuire seamlessly constructs her world of fairy creatures into the modern day setting of San Francisco. She has obviously done her research into the lore of the Fae, and it comes through without being preachy or dry. Through the first-person perspective of October Daye, a changing (half fairy/half human), we get to see the political world of the Fae as seen through the eyes of someone who is often shafted by her own kind, since she’s only a half blood. The pacing of the story moves quickly, as Daye must solve the murder of a pure-blood Fae before Daye herself is killed by a curse tied to the murder. As the first book in the October Daye series, this novel draws you right into the world, and you immediately become a fan of the main character. I can hardly wait to see what happens in the rest of the books in this series. Fantastic world and a joy to read!!!
The Book of Madness and Cures, by Regina O’Melveny
Brain candy for Renaissance scholars
For Renaissance scholars like me, this book provides an interesting view of Renaissance culture, medicine, and herbal lore, as well as a review of maladies and ailments through the lens of this earlier era. O’Melveny also offers a unique perspective on gender politics, including the way females had to navigate their way through social circles to enter fields dominated by the patriarchy. In many ways, O’Melveny’s method of storytelling reminds me of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, in that it portrays well-researched facts and interweaves them brilliantly into a story. I will admit that the story gets heavy with the details and moves slowly, but the pacing mirrors the travels of the main character, Dr. Gabriella Mondini, as she searches through ten countries to find her father. If you enjoy period pieces, a bit of mystery, and gender studies, you will certainly have fun with reading this novel.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowling
Insider info for Harry Potter fanatics
While I love the Harry Potter world, I must admit that I read the main seven books later than most people, so I didn’t even know about this book until I saw the trailer for the movie coming out in 2016. I picked up the book, expecting it to be a full story, because that’s how the movie trailer looked. Imagine my surprise when I found that this book is actually just a catalog of the magical creatures found within the world of Harry Potter?
As a writer, I completely understand and respect Rowling’s choice to produce this book. Not only did she do it for a great charitable cause, but she probably also wrote it initially for herself just to keep everything organized in her writing. I know I have a similar document for my Rupt World Stories. Building a catalog of the creatures, groups, etc. in your own world has become a unique way for writers to publish their otherwise unseen notes. We as writers need these catalogs to keep our own information organized and consistent. Fans eat it up, because they love the insider information. It really is a win-win all around.
The book itself provided some interesting insight into the different creatures, which I found amusing. I also enjoyed how Rowling brought up the political and social issue of the difficulty in categorizing many magical beings, since so many are intelligent, but do not wish to have anything to do with humans and/or wizards. She doesn’t go too deeply into the politics, and I see that as a strategic choice for someone writing in the young adult market. You saw these issues brought up in the other books/movies, but it was almost always on the sidelines, unless it was vital to the current moment of plot. Overall, if you’re a die-hard fan, you will enjoy this book. I personally think there could have been more to this book, which is probably what the screenwriters thought, as they have adapted a basic catalog of creatures into something that looks phenomenally epic.
Lady Susan, by Jane Austen
Voyeuristic fun for everyone
Although not one of the well-known Austen books, Lady Susan provides a tantalizing tale of social climbing, but all the details are revealed through letters back and forth between key characters. In reading these private letters, you find out what false fronts these individuals present to the world, as well as how they hide their true motives. I knew nothing about the book when I started reading it, so at first I thought the initial opening letter was something like a prologue. As the book continued in nothing but personal letters, I grew fascinated at Austen’s ability to portray so much information from the individual perspectives of each character. This book really pushes the concept of the unreliable narrator, since each character only knows so much, and their personal prejudices alter their perspectives even further.
My only complaint about this book was the ending. ******SPOILER ALERT******* I was expecting all the loose ends to tie up via letters, but instead Austen has another person step in to provide a brief discussion concerning what happens. Prior to describing what happens to everyone in the end, this unknown narrator states the following:
“This correspondence, by a meeting between some of the parties, and the separation between the others, could not, to the great detriment of the Post Office revenue, be continued any longer,” (Conclusion, page 70).
I understand that it’s hard to pick a spot to end, since all the characters will continue on in their lives, but if you are going to choose a format like this and carry it out to its full extent, you might as well take the format all the way to the end! As the movie comes out soon, I must say my curiosity is piqued to see how they will maintain the intimacy of the letters in the on-screen portrayal of the story.