31 July 2023

Books Completed Since July 1

book icon  Boundaries, edited by Mercedes Lackey
Finally found, having not seen it in any bookstore, used! A much better collection than the next book, Shenanigans. There are several excellent stories that take place in Karse, where anyone with "magical" powers are burned at the stake. There are installments in the running sagas of Lady Cera of Sandbriar, Sparrow and Cloudbrother, the Haven City Watch (this one "The Beating of the Bounds" is particularly good), and Nwah the kyree. Several of the stories involve healers or bards along with the famed Heralds, and a baker is the protagonist of one dangerous tale. All in all a satisfactory read for Valdemar fans.

book icon  Oh, Florida!, Craig Pittman
It happens every day on the news: "Florida man" (or "Florida woman") does something bad, weird, way out, or hateful. Pittman, a Florida resident himself, pulls no punches talking about the crazy state of Florida politics, tourism, everyday living, land-rush past, Disneyfication, and anything else odd that happens in the "Sunshine State." (Me, I think they're all crazy with the heat and from the insect population.) Very funny book, but I'd find a used copy. Really, Florida isn't worth that much.

book icon  Something in the Heir, Suzanne Enoch
Emmeline Hervey doesn't want to leave the home she was brought up in, Winnover, but her grandfather, the stuffy Duke of Welshire, requires the home to go to someone who's married and will have a family. She's known William Pershing since childhood, and knows he's tired of being "matchmade" with suitable women. So, to keep the family home, she offers Will a proposition: they will be married, and she will live her life and he will live his, and she will support his future endeavors in politics. And for eight years they live a satisfactory life, until her grandfather bids them come to his birthday celebration and bring their two children, two children Emmeline made up to make him happy. So they decided to "borrow" two children from the orphanage for a while, and teach them to act like own—except the eldest, George, is determined he and his five-year-sister won't go back. And then their older brother James shows up, determined to make money from the sham whatever way he can. A fun little book, although I wasn't fond of the initial lie that started the plot.

book icon  The Electricity of Every Living Thing, Katherine May
I really enjoyed Wintering, so I was eager to read this one, too. What a surprise to find it was a journey not only of her walk of the South West Coast Path, but one of personal discovery. She had always felt she didn't fit properly into the world, and then she heard a broadcast on the radio, in which a woman being interviewed talks about being on the autistic spectrum. May realizes that the woman's revelations mirror her own, and she spends some of the book trying to understand herself as well as getting a diagnosis. I was very surprised to recognize I had some of the same traits, in a more muted form. I also love the fact that May's husband, "H" as she calls him, has such patience with the challenges she has. I love the way he respects her feelings and tries to see things as she does, and understands that she loves him and their son, but has a hard time with dealing with elements of the modern world. The hiking bits are also lovely.

book icon  Hot and Sour Suspects, Vivien Chien
Her best friend Megan convinces Lana Lee, now the manager of the family business Ho-Lee Noodle House, to host a speed-dating event at the restaurant. It works out well, too, except that their friend, Rina Su, who runs the Asia Plaza cosmetics shop, hooks up with a guy called Gavin Oliver. And very soon Oliver is murdered, and Rina is the chief suspect. It's the usual: Lana's police officer boyfriend tells Lana to keep her nose out of it, while Lana, Megan, and Kimmy Tran investigate behind the scenes. I think the killer eventually gives themself away in this outing, because it literally can't be anyone else.

book icon  Apollo 1: The Tragedy That Put Us on the Moon, Ryan S. Walters
Early warning: only about half of this book is actually devoted to the fire and the aftermath. About half is a history of the early space program up to the fire. However, the half of the book about the fire is very interesting and ties in with the From the Earth to the Moon episode "Apollo 1." We have a lot of books about the Apollo missions and many of the astronaut biographies, but there were still things in this book that I didn't know about the fire, including the controversy about the Block I capsule, the animosity between Joe Shea and Harrison Storms, and the results of the fire investigation and the hearings, especially the Phillips report.

book icon  The Golden Specific, S.E. Grove
The sequel to the fanciful The Glass Sentence, in which "The Great Disruption" divided Earth into different time eras: the U.S. is "New Occident" which never went beyond 15 states; the British Isles are trapped in the medieval era, Canada is trapped in prehistory, and the Papal States rule under an Inquisition-like government. Sophia Tims, who in the previous book rescued the orphaned Theodore Thackeray, asks him to accompany her on the search to Ausentinia, where she believes her parents are located. But she ends up sailing to Europe alone on a strange odyssey while Theo becomes involved in the murder of a government official; the accused killer? Sophia's uncle Shadrack the mapmaker. Just as wonderful and fanciful as the first book. The conclusion is The Crimson Skew.

book icon  Bones: A Forensic Detective's Casebook, Dr. Douglas Ubelaker & Henry Scammell
Just what it claims to be: a true-crime book by a forensic pathologist illustrating how different crime evidence points out what happened to the victim. For instance, criminals many times burn bodies thinking they can destroy the evidence, but even the smallest clue left on a bone can tell the tale. Each chapter is about evidence found on a certain part of the body, or based upon a certain kind of wound. It's lengthy and kind of dry, but at the same time interesting.

book icon  In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger
This is a collection of Sherlock Holmes-related stories that almost never puts a foot wrong. I was delighted, even if I felt as if the Ellison and Wilson entries were a bit disappointing considering what came before them. My absolute favorites in this volume: "The Adventure of the Laughing Fisherman" in which an at-sea young man takes his therapist's suggestion and gets into detection (maybe others figured out the twist in this one, but I didn't and was delighted), the stirring "Dunkirk" in which an elderly gentleman named Sigerson "does his bit," and "The Thinking Machine," in which the protagonist reminded me so much of Robert Goren on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Also of note: a coda to the story of Silver Blaze, told by the horse himself, and an amusing tale recounting The Hound of the Baskervilles in the style of Facebook. The other stories are good, too. But those three!