Week of Mar. 22, 2010

March 30, 2010 at 10:49 am (weekly report)

A slow week; very busy with non-reading stuff.

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent (2008) by Galen Beckett (gift from KB – slow to get off the ground, but an engaging pseudo-Regency fantasy; sequel, The House on Durrow Street, due out Sept. 2010)


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Week of Mar. 15, 2010

March 22, 2010 at 7:13 am (weekly report)

Changer of Worlds (2001) (Worlds of Honor #3) by David Weber (Baen Free Library again – short stories, some about Honor Harrington)

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet (2009) by Reif Larsen (loaned from BR; an odd novel that probably could be called “mainstream” as a matter of courtesy)

Oath of Fealty (2010) by Elizabeth Moon (new book – I’ve waited at least a decade for this new trilogy to start, and it was worth the wait)

Playing with Fire (2008) (Skulduggery Pleasant #2) by Derek Landy (library book – I still like this series, book 1 of which is previously reviewed)

Phoenix and Ashes (2004) (Elemental Masters #3) by Mercedes Lackey (new book – nice combo of World War I home front and Cinderella)

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Week of Mar. 8, 2010

March 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm (weekly report)

On Basilisk Station (1994) by David Weber (Baen Free Library read – interesting to finally get around to the first in his Honor Harrington series)

The Honor of the Queen (2000) by David Weber (Baen Free Library read – finally read about Honor’s first visit to the planet Grayson)

The Shadow of Saganami (2004) by David Weber (Baen Free Library read – further proof that I read these “Honorverse” books for the awesome space battle scenes)

Barney Ross (2006) by Douglas Century (biography of an early 20th century Jewish boxer; read for book club)

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Week of Mar. 1, 2010

March 9, 2010 at 4:37 pm (weekly report) ()

Fortune’s Fool (2007) by Mercedes Lackey (library book – another fun Five Hundred Kingdoms romp)

Gates of Sleep (2002) by Mercedes Lackey (library book – another Elemental Masters book; really gorgeous cover, excellent book except the romance didn’t get enough time to develop)

Proof (1985) by Dick Francis (re-read; had to tape up the binding)

Flesh and Spirit (2007) (new book – serious fantasy fiction; review to follow once I’ve finished the sequel)

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In Memoriam: Dick Francis

March 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm (in memoriam, mystery, weekly report) (, )

Straight (1989) by Dick Francis (re-read of a good book by one of my favorite authors, who passed away last week)

To the Hilt (1996) by Dick Francis (re-read of one of my three favorite DF novels, and in my opinion his best work)

Banker (1982) by Dick Francis (re-read)

I was very sorry to hear that Dick Francis passed away in February; his mysteries are one of my most reliable sets of re-reads, and I have long admired his work ethic and the generally upward trend of his books’ quality over the decades.  He’s an extraordinary example of a writer sticking to, but not exhausting, a “gimmick” – in his case, an orbit around the world of (usually British) horse racing.

One of the biggest appeals of his books, to me, is the Narrator.   The Narrator is a man of stubborn courage – his defining characteristic, really.  He mostly has different jobs and histories from book to book, and a somewhat different personality, but it’s that fundamental tenacity that I most appreciate.

Then there are the secondary characters – a broad array of people, very different from book to book, some more interesting than others, but almost always well-defined and often somewhat unexpected.

Finally, in addition to solving the mystery (usually with a major physical component), the Narrator very often grows or discovers something new and important about himself, especially in the later works.  That’s a key to a really good novel – the inner and outer journeys finding meaningful resolution.

I’m not going to claim these works are great literature; possibly no one but English majors will be reading them a century from now, and they’ll be busy analyzing what they reveal about late-twentieth-century social mores.  But as I’ve said before: so what?

Farewell, Mr. Francis.  You’ll be missed.

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