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New Novels in Verse

I enjoy novels in verse. So, when I received both Salt by Helen Frost and The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan, I decided to read them one after the other to compare and contrast! Both are novels in verse (obviously), both are written by women who are mostly known for their YA work, and yet both are for the younger set.

Salt will perhaps get more notice. It’s historical fiction and Helen Frost is probably the more well-known author. But I didn’t like it as much. The story is told in alternating poems by the two protagonists: Anikwa, 12, is a member of the Miami tribe and James, also 12, is an American boy. We are on the verge of the War of 1812 in the Indiana Territory. Anikwa’s poems look like “patterns of Miami ribbon work,” according to the author, while James poems are like stripes on a flag. It’s a nice conceit and works well. Unfortunately, the conflict between the characters (war is coming, whom can you trust?) is set up and resolved rather quickly. And there are a lot of stereo…

Mystery Writers F and G

So thrilled to be up to "F." If I had remembered I was up to "F," I would have written this post sooner.

10. Gillian Flynn
I know everyone is excited about Gone Girl and how it's going to be made into a Major Motion Picture, but if you have the time, read Flynn's first two novels. They are so much better. I don't consider myself a reader of thrillers -- remember, I like police procedurals (and I enjoy a good night's sleep) -- but Dark Places and Sharp Objects are so well-written and tightly plotted they converted me. Sharp Objects was Flynn's first novel and was an Edgar Award finalist (it also taught me that southerners often put syrup on pork projects, which is a very tasty thing). Dark Objects is probably a little better, just as suspenseful and rich with characterizations. And it too is being made into a movie. Flynn's stories don't always have likeable protagonists (see Gone Girl). But that fact just adds to the storytelling. I do te…

Mystery Writers Cs, Ds, and Es

For the Coursera course I'm taking--"Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World" (I do so love typing that)--I'm reading Dracula by Bram Stoker and I am bored to tears. What a tedious book. Someone will have to explain its charms to me one day.





So, onward with my mystery lists.

5. Jane Casey
I've read all of Jane Casey's three police procedurals (The Last Girl was published in May) and I think I like them. I wish our heroine DS Maeve Kerrigan was a little stronger and not so odd about relationships, but she's likable. I want to say the series is getting better, but since I though the first one was best, I cannot. (London)

6. Michael Connelly
I'm late to the Michael Connelly bandwagon, and still trying to figure out if I want to read these novels. I worry that Harry Bosch is a little too stereotypically hard-boiled. But a friend said to stick with them, and I probably will pick up the series again soon. I've read the first…

Mystery Writers As and Bs

So, here it goes... some of my favorite authors and series of mysteries.

1. Jussi Adler-Olsen
After the worldwide success of Steig Larsson's Millennium trilogy (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, etc.), nordic noir became a thing and many more books from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were translated into English. That's a good thing for us. Adler-Olsen's Department Q series is thrilling and funny. Carl Morck, our protagonist, has been pushed into the cold case unit because like so many other detectives, he doesn't always follow the rules. There are only three books in the series so far; definitely start with the first: The Keeper of Lost Causes. (Denmark)

2. Benjamin Black
I read Christine Falls by Black (the pen name of John Banville, who's known for his literary fiction, among other works), but I didn't really love it and I'm afraid his books are not currently on my must-read list. (Ireland)

3. Alan Bradley
Bradley's Flavia de Luce mysteries are only polic…

The Other Things I Read

I had wanted this blog to be solely about children's books. But I'm taking a short break from reading children's books while I try my hardest to keep up with a Coursera course I'm taking that started today. It's called "Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World." (I always giggle when I say or read that because it sounds so... so... grandiose.) The course will be over sometime in mid-August and I'll have a stack of children's books waiting for me. (Truth be told, I have a "books to read" list that is more than four pages long. Yes, I keep lists. It's what I do.)

I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction as a teen, but, alas, none of those books will be covered in the course. If you're curious about it, click on the link above. It's an 11-week course with an expected workload of 8 to 12 hours a week. (Manic giggling now.)

Meantime, I realized that I have placed too many other books on hold (library-speak.…