What are you currently reading?
C.J. Brightley, The King’s Sword, (Until Feb. 11, part of an eight-book fantasy bundle.) An other-world fantasy written first-person by an ugly, scarred veteran soldier who rescues a half-frozen escaped royal heir out of the snow, and then takes up the boy’s cause. It’s got some action, but the pacing is thoughtful as it examines what really makes a king.
Langue [dot] doc 1305, by Gillian Polack. A group of scientists and a single historian are taken back to France in 1305. They are strictly enjoined not to interfere with history–but you know how that goes. Polack takes the time to introduce all the scientists, whose squabbles ring so true for anyone acquainted with academic geekery no matter what the country of origin, and her expertise in period POV is excellent, making this a pleasure to read.
What Have you finished reading?
Signatures, by James A. Hetley. An old detective mage, an old case, in a vivid noir setting, with romance woven through in a minor key melody. I wish the word haunting weren’t so overused, because this vividly written story stayed with me for days when I proof-read it. Hetley’s books are never predictable, his characters complex. Flashes of wit are like distant lightning over the shadowy, complicated landscape as the tension rises, and rises again . . .
Elin Toona Gottschalk, Into Exile. The book is full of heartbreak, insight, beauty, and the unheralded and heroic actions of women with no weapons, no power, but a determination to fashion a bit of civilization around them, one castoff or abandoned item at a time. Sometimes it was so harrowing that I could only read a few pages in a session, but I always came back to this compelling, fascinating story of three displaces Estonians at the end of WW II and after–when Estonia was once again erased from the maps. (Long review here)
Bad-Mouthed (Doodle-bugged Mysteries #4), by Susan J. Kroupa. Doodle, the bedbug sniffing dog, is back again with Molly, who solves mysteries using a combination of her camera, smarts, and of course Doodle’s nose. This time she and her best friend Tanya are singing in a Christmas pageant when Doodle (who is impersonating a sheep) upsets the pageant by chasing a rat.
When I was a teacher, I frequently had parents ask me for recommendations for smart readers about eight and up, and readers of ages ten and eleven who were not into long series, etc. They didn’t want YA as so much of it contained material not appropriate for that age–and often not of interest to a ten year old.
This series is one I would have heartily recommended to those fourth-sixth grade parents, especially for readers who love dogs. (Full review here.)
Steelheart (Reckoners #1), by Brandon Sanderson.
The basic idea is terrific: superheroes gone bad. The world is a mess because of the Epics and their unstoppable powers, except that they all have a fatal flaw, if you can figure out what it is.
The story begins with a bang when David, a small boy, is at the bank with his dad. A standoff between a couple of Epics ends up with the bank turned to steel, David’s father killed, and the Epic, named Steelheart, taking over the city.
I expect that this one is aimed straight for teenage boys, and I’m not surprised it is selling through the roof. It’s a violent video game in text form, with surprises like game levels toward the end. I detect a good heart underneath all the mayhem, which unfortunately leaves me with a sense that Sanderson is pandering here to the lowest common denominator in order to cash in on a film deal. (Full review here)
Those are the main ones, though I’ve always got books going in fits and starts. How about you?