What I'm reading now: Not an April Fool's Joke Edition: 11 April 01

Trace Evidence-- Elizabeth Becka (also writes as Lisa Black)
Redeemed (SEVENS: week 7)-- Scott Wallens (YA)
Sunshine--Robin McKinley (Fantasy)
The Truth Behind the New Atheism: Responding to the Emerging Challenges to God and Christianity-- David Marshall (Theology)
The Righteous Men-- Sam Bourne (still reading)

It’s been a slow reading week. On the plus side, I did get to watch the BBC miniseries Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and Jenniefer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, 1995), which is almost like reading the book. Seriously-- a wonderful production-- all five hours of it. (On the minus side, I rediscovered a certain sensitivity to Coverplast bandages... but that's another story).

Trace Evidence-- Elizabeth Becka.
A few weeks back, I commented on Lisa Black. I was rather impressed with what I’d just read, and when I found out that Lisa Black's real name was Elizabeth Becka and that she’d written two books under that  name, I immediately put holds on them. (The friend who tipped me off to this fact beat me to them, so I had to wait until now.) I read the first one this last week.
It’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty good, but it suffers by comparison to Takedown. Trace Evidence actually reads something like a warmup for Takedown: female forensic scientist/investigator who is a single mom, teenage daughter, overly political but otherwise lazy boss, eccentric genius squirrelled away in a corner of the lab-- a lot of the characters seem a little familiar. The writing is good, but improves in Takedown, and the plot is workmanlike.
My advice? Either read Elizabeth Becka first and leave a reasonable length of time before you read Lisa Black, or if you must read Lisa Black first, wait a considerable time before you go back to Becka.

Sunshine--Robin McKinley
Robin McKinley is a favorite author, as I believe I've mentioned before. For some reason, though, I've put off reading Sunshine for quite a while. Maybe it's just because I own the  book, and I tend to put off reading my own books in favor of library books. Then again, it could be because of the subject matter: vampires.
Let me hastily say: nobody sparkles. Sunshine predates those other monstrosities by two years, and Sunshine treats vampires in a much more believable way: vampires are terrifying and very inhuman, and any intersection between the human world and the world of the suckers (as they're sometimes referred to) is bound to end badly, especially for the humans. (McKinley's writing is worlds better, too.)
The fantasy world McKinley creates is somewhat post-apocalyptic and gritty, but not without humor and warmth. She does some original things with the legends of vampires and were-beasts (were-chickens, anyone?), and her touches of humor balance the darkness and seriousness beautifully.
This one is a definite read.*
*except possibly for the squeamish... and there is one brief R-rated scene in the middle. The same scene might come in for a language warning, too. It's only two pages, though, and after that it's quite clean.

Note in passing: I read the last of the Sevens series this week, too, and it tied things up quite well. I was quite impressed, actually-- it's hard to keep seven different storylines going, and Scott Wallens did quite well.

Note in passing II: I'm going to move my scheduled posting date to Fridays. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

What I'm Reading Now: Belated Edition, 11 Mar 26

I thought I’d try something different this week. (By the way, my apologies for the lateness of this week’s post. I’d blame being sick, but it was mostly just laziness.) I’ll comment briefly on all of them this time.

Though not dead-- Dana Stabenow
The eighteenth in Stabenow’s  series featuring Alaskan Aleut sleuth Kate Shugak. Kate’s present-day quest to carry out her old friend’s final request is intercut with the history of one of my favorite secondary characters, Old Sam. As it turns out, Old Sam’s history is also, in a lot of ways, the history of Alaska.

Mommy deadliest--Michael Benson (True crime)
An account of the Stacy Castor case—an American woman who poisoned two of her husbands with antifreeze, then tried to murder her daughter and frame her for both murders. It’s an interesting story, but Michael Benson doesn’t quite have Ann Rule’s skill in making a drawn-out court case fascinating.

The final reckoning-- Sam Bourne
The killing of a suspected terrorist at the UN becomes the senseless murder of an elderly man… but the old man is not the innocent he seems. Although the present-day plot is completely fictional, the background story of Holocaust survivors out for revenge on Nazis (sorry for the spoiler) is very factual.

Betrayal (SEVENS: week 6)-- Scott Wallens (YA)
I mentioned this series a while back. The lives of the seven teens are getting more intertwined and more complicated, and I am waiting impatiently to get my hands on the seventh and final book to find out how it all resolves.

An object of beauty--Steve Martin (Literary fiction)
Yes, it’s by that Steve Martin. Yes, he writes extremely well. But somehow, it just didn’t work for me. I think I wanted it to be funnier, or perhaps I felt it didn’t quite end satisfactorily. This is not to say that I won’t be reading anything else of his, and certainly not that I’m going to quit seeing his movies…

Princess of glass-- Jessica Day George (YA)
Sequel to Princess of the midnight ball.It takes the Cinderella fairy tale as a jumping-off point, and does some neat things with it. Original, interesting,fun… read them both.

So you don’t want to go to church anymore-- Wayne Jacobsen & Dave Coleman (Christian fiction)
Christian teaching loosely organized in narrative format. I wouldn’t give it high marks for plot, but it was interesting and thought-provoking, enough so that I suggested it for possible study in my care group.

Dead reckoning--Linda Castillo
I discovered after I read her two Amish thrillers that Castillo had written a number of books beyond the Harlequin romances I’d heard
about. I decided to try one. She’s good. If you like Tami Hoag and Linda Howard, you’ll enjoy Castillo. This one follows an assistant DA who is about to try a capital case, but it’s not as open-and-shut as it seems, and the ADA herself is pursued by a horrible incident from her past.

Separate from the world--PL Gaus

This is another of the Amish Country mysteries. Itinvolves dwarves, genetics, murder, kidnapping, suicide, cell phones, and the question of what being “separate from the world” really means. I’m impressed with the way Gaus portrays the Amish—not just as bonnet-and-buggy, but as a people facing a world that attempts to pull them in many directions, with varying results.

Spring ishappening in Reinland

Well Spring must surely be here. There are sings of it all over the village. And one of my favourite signs says that there is a community breakfast this Saturday. I can almost smell the biscuits now. The usual tasty foods will be prepared by your friends and neighbours. It is a good time enjoyed by many, you should come out too.

Well we were out and about last week and I saw this beautiful view and had to share it with you.

I always thought that a misty day needed to include some jazz music and a loved one to share it with. This was taken Sunday afternoon, and I did enjoy some good music and the company of my wife after this picture was taken. Well before too, but I'm not a poet, so...


Actually I kinda wanted to put on rubber boots and wade through the puddles, but I don't have any that fit right now.

Spring is here, get out there and enjoy it, and we'll see you on Saturday.


What I'm Reading Now: 17 March 10 Edition


I was sick for a couple of days this week, which you would think would be a perfect opportunity to read, right? Not really-- I was too uncomfortable to really concentrate on anything. I did pick up and read bits of Off with his head by Ngaio Marsh, a recent purchase by a favorite author, and In the stacks: short stories about libraries and librarians, edited by Michael Cart, which was a gift from a sister who has a gift for shopping library sales. Neither one of them really grabbed me, though, so I watched TV instead. Oh, yes, and I read more true crime. I’m a little embarrassed by that, as it seems somewhat lowbrow of me, but there are some good writers in that genre.
John Glatt is one of them. I read Lost and found, about the abduction and imprisonment of Jaycee Lee Duggard, last week, and I was impressed enough to order another John Glatt title from the library. I read that this week. It was Secrets in the cellar, about a similar abduction-and-imprisonment of a girl, but this was the case of Austrian Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his own daughter and kept her, and the children he subsequently fathered on her, there for twenty-four years. It’s a horrible story, and John Glatt conveys that beautifully, giving enough details to give the picture while still allowing the victims some dignity. His writing is clear and gripping, and his sympathy for the victims of the crime is palpable.
Another find this week was Practical Jean, by Trevor Cole. It was the cover that caught me-- a picture of a girl in fifties sweater and hairdo (and smile) in front of a collection of knives. (I showed it around work and asked “Can you resist a cover like this?” Apparently, everyone but me could. Maybe this is my week for black humor.)  Jean Horemarsh, ceramic artist, dutiful daughter, loving wife, devoted friend, has just spent three months caring for her terminally-ill mother. Those three months have impressed on her the horror of growing old, and the doom that awaits every one of us who reaches that point. After that, life can’t get back to normal for her, and she begins to wonder if there isn’t something she could do to keep her friends from the torment of aging...
I don’t usually like black comedy, but this was well-executed (pun intended), with a light touch. Jean’s motivation is believable, even as events spiral out of control, and Cole’s portraits of middle-aged women are carefully observed and beautifully constructed. If you’re looking for something quirky that will make you think while you chuckle, this might just be the book for you.
Oh, almost forgot this week’s booklist:
Twisted triangle--Caitlyn Rother (True Crime)
Secrets in the cellar --John Glatt (True Crime)
The calling --Inger Ash Wolfe
Meltdown (SEVENS: week 4) Scott Wallens (YA)
Torn (SEVENS: week 5) Scott Wallens (YA)
Agent X-- Noah Boyd
Envy-- Sandra Brown
Practical Jean-- Trevor Cole
Written in blood--Dianne Fanning (True Crime)
Exit Music--Ian Rankin
PS: Agent X is even better than The bricklayer.