What is this sorcery — writing about what I’m reading for four months in a row. Suspicious.
The book I opened April with is the book I still haven’t finished, The Stress of Her Regard, by Tim Powers. It is a book I didn’t quite expect, very Gothic, involving Byron and Shelley and ladies who are possibly soul-sucking vampires, and poetry, and how sometimes one spirit weasels into another and makes a forever kind of mark.
Speaking of vampires… I confess to setting the Powers to the side when Vermilion by Molly Tanzer arrived. I know Molly, but even if I didn’t I’d be scooping this book up and swallowing it nearly whole. Vermilion involves Lou, a psycopomp who is used to dealing with the dead, sending them on their way. A request from her momma sends Lou on a different cross-country adventure, taking her into Colorado where she encounters a strange man running an even stranger sanatorium. I wrote about this book on Goodreads, because I really really love it. You can enter to win a copy until May 1st, so be sure to go do that if Weird West is your huckleberry.
My huckleberry also happens to be awesome historical non-fiction, which is what I got when I finally picked up The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I have meant to read this for years, given I’ve written about the very fair Larson details, but just never got around to it. Until now. This book felt entirely too long in places — Larson details Absolutely Everything About the Fair in this book, or so it seems; he also tells about the serial killer who used the fair to his great advantage. Chilling. I remain amazed by the idea of world fairs — how anyone ever pulled them off. But I love the idea that they did, and that at this one, the goal was to out Eiffel Eiffel, for his grand tower (which was part of the Exposition Universelle in 1889, which I wrote about in Rings of Anubis!). Which Mr. Ferris did, with a splendid spinning wheel.
Also filed under “Molly’s fault” this month is Rat Queens, Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery. First, how had I never heard of this before? Second, I’m so glad to have found it. Comics aren’t generally my thing — definitely prefer them in omnibus/book format, so this volume served as a great introduction. I love the Rat Queens. The writing is snappy, the artwork is tremendous, and I’m eager to read Vol. 2. (out in May, hooray!).
I got to read a novel in draft this month — I should probably stay quiet about that for the most part, but it’s one of the best things about having writers for friends. This book was dreamy and reminded me of the Thursday Next books, though it’s for younger readers. I hope this one sees print, because I think most of you peeping this would dig it.
I took a detour into historical romance in April — almost wish I’d had this book in my kissing book stack back in February. It also would have fit into the February books in that I did not like it. No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper is billed as “The Terminator meets My Fair Lady,” and that, my friends, should have been 100% in my wheelhouse. It was not.
The set up is great — Our Heroine and her world are in great jeopardy, so she travels backward in time to save it. But once she travels back in time and meets Our Hero, things grind to a halt. Our Heroine has two goals — get a book from the bad guy, and y’know, maybe kill him but she does neither very fast; she’s got forty some odd years after all, what’s the rush? Let’s just hang around and not do anything that moves the plot forward. I guess this is the My Fair Lady part, when we deck Our Heroine in dresses and plump her up because she’s unplump since her world is a nightmare and food is scarce. She doesn’t even meet the villain until more than half way through the book; near as I can tell, nothing actually moved until I was about 80% through the text. I see half a dozen ways to hack this apart and reassemble it — if I’d been the editor, I would have.
I also took a brief journey into Justice Calling, the first book in Annie Bellet’s 20-Sided Sorceress series. Brief is the keyword here; it’s a super quick read (probably novella-length), and if you loved the gang from Buffy, you will probably find this world familiar and comfortable. I wished it had been a full-length novel with more flesh on its urban fantasy bones. There are some fascinating things herein, however, including some uh, curious taxidermy. I can say no more!