What I'm Reading Now: Even Briefer Edition: 11 April 15

Well, colour me embarrassed. I didn't note down anything I read this week. I know there was a true crime book of some description, A Woman of Independant Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey (straight-up fiction of a slightly earlier time (copyright 1978)), The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (YA fantasy), and I'm reading two books concurrently: I, Sniper by Stephen Hunter, and The Sins of Brother Curtis by Lisa Davis, which I suppose is a variant on true crime. (It's the story of a man who sexually abused young boys in the Mormon church).

I have also been doing some reading online. There's a deconstruction of the Left Behind series which I've found fascinating. (It may be found here: http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/left_behind/ ) It's written by Fred Clark, who wants to address some of the glaring errors in the Left Behind series, specifically characterization, world-building, structure, and theology. Or, in other words, everything. Well worth reading, especially if you know someone who is otherwise reasonable but thinks the series is non-fiction...

Another site I'm enjoying at the moment: www.notalwaysright.com  If you enjoy little vignettes of stupidity in consumer life, you might enjoy this.

Sorry I've been a slacker this week. I'll try to do better next week, although I foresee some difficulty posting exactly on Friday...

What I'm reading now: Brief edition: 08 April 11

The Union Club Mysteries--Isaac Asimov
Casebook of the Black Widowers--Isaac Asimov
Victim of circumstance--W.E. Davis
Murder sets seed-- Janis Harrison
Unknown means-- Elizabeth Becka
Stolen-- Lesley Pearce (Fiction)
When the killing’s done-- T.C. Boyle (Literary Fiction)
Secrets to the grave-- Tami Hoag
A couple of short takes here:

Victim of Circumstance:  It's an older mystery, from the middle of a series, and it's Christian fiction. I dislike starting in the middle of things, but this was... readable. Decent. Might even read another one of his if I ever find one.

Murder sets seed: Also an older book, also from the middle of a series, this time of gardening/florist mysteries. It was quite decent.

Stolen: Is it mystery? is it plain old ordinary fiction? Mystery-- I suppose. My overall reaction? "Meh."

When the killing's done:  Definitely literary fiction-- I found myself wondering about the significance of various things. It wasn't a pleasant read, but it was a good read. If you want a nuanced take on managing the environment, this is a good choice.

Secrets to the grave: I read Tami Hoag's stuff avidly for a while. I lost interest. This one brought me back again.


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.