Posted by Sari
Golly! Typepad has a WYSIWYG posting interface, and new format hot-buttons. Nice.
But to business. Lately I have been reading mostly work-related stuff, like Peter's really excellent (but long) Antichrist's Lewd Hat, and of course about 10 000 pages of 17th century newsbooks. I probably should try to do something else on my free time than read more, but old habits die hard. Well, the last batch is pretty light entertaiment:
L.M. Montgomery: Blue Castle
Like all bookish little girls, I read Montgomery's Anne and Emily -series, but I always preferred Alcot to Montgomery, mostly because already as a 12-year old I was furious with Montgomery's take on adult Anne. The degenration of that fiery read-head into a fainting and jealous doctor's wife was just too annoying and sad for words. Blue Castle is a cute romance about Valancy Sterling, who after years of being bullied and bossed by her family, takes her life into her own hands when she thinks she has a terminal heart-condition. Old fashioned wish-fulfilment, but I liked it.
Laurie R. King: Dark Place
Tarja first introduced me to Laurie King's Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell mysteries few years ago. The idea worked surprisingly well. Mary is a Mary-Sue if there ever was one, but there is nothing inherently wrong in a well-constructed interesting Mary-Sue. And King also managed to create the second sexiest scene in main-stream fiction ever for her and Holmes.
Dark Place has very different things to recommend itself than the Holmes stories, and in a many ways it is a better if not more appealing novel for it. It is a thriller of a middle-aged female university professor of religion who every now and then works for FBI as an undercover agent defusing crises in religious communities. The characters are well constructed, the tension is kept up well and the picture she gives of closed communities is varied and thoughtful enough to avoid the trap of demonising all "cults".
Ann Waldron: The Princeton Murders
Princeton Murders must be one of the worst murder mysteries I have ever read. A Pulizer -winning journalist from Tallahassee comes to Princeton for a year to teach a class in journalism and with her students starts to suspect there was something rotten in suspicious deaths of English department staff members. The clumsy way in which Waldrop constructs the mystery reminds me mainly of our dog My burying his chewy-toy in the living room corner and being absolutely sure that no-one can find the toy in plain sight. Only reason to read the novel is if you have been to Princeton, and enjoy the endless depictions of familiar places.
Catherine Asaro: The Charmed Sphere
Asaro is one of those authors I feel I should like more than I do. She should be just down my alley: critically acclaimed writer of science fiction and romance, but for some reason I have never really warmed up to her Skolian series. Maybe it is the gawd-awful covers. Unfortunately this fantasy novel does not fare that much better. It is "nice" cindarella-story about a country-girl picked out to be the bride of the heir to the throne, with enough of twists and turns to make the story interesting, but even so something was lacking.
Patrick O'Brien: Treason's Harbour
I have been rationing Aubrey and Maturing novels to make them last longer. Now I am reaching the middle of the series. Treason's Harbour is the 9th in the series. It was more Maturin-centric than its predecessor, so I was well pleased with it. Next up, The Far Side of the World.
Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomas: The Rule of Four
This is another Princeton tie-in novel, a thriller pitched by the publishers as Eco meets Dan Brown. I'd pitch it more like Foucault's Pendulum meets Secret History, and it is not half bad. Again, there is a bit too much Princeton-trivia for those who are not that interested in, for example, the history of university Eating Clubs, but the mystery is neat, the riddles obscure and esoteric enough, and the characters believable. It could have been even better, but defenitely worth a read if esoteric historical mysteries are your thing.