I continue to buy books faster than I can read them (that’s material for another post), but I’ve managed to finish a few in the last month or so. About ten days ago my ancient air conditioning system died, resulting in an unexpected day off (and a very large replacement bill). While men crawled around my attic with power tools, I sat on the couch and read Sally Bedell Smith’s Elizabeth the Queen, a fascinating and thoroughly readable book. I finished it with a new respect for the quiet, dedicated and very competent way Elizabeth II has played the hand she was dealt, and more than a glimpse of the woman under the crown.
Also in non-fiction, I enjoyed Ghosty Men: The Strange but True Story of the Collyer Brothers, New York’s Greatest Hoarders, An Urban Historical, by Franz Lidz, which I downloaded one day when it was the Amazon special. Lidz mixes the story of the famous Collyer Brothers with that of his own Uncle Arthur in a short book with a long title.
I’m delighted to report that Amanda Stevens’ The Kingdom is every bit as good as the first Graveyard Queen novel, The Restorer. This one takes Amelia to the dying town of Asher Falls and a whole new cast of characters, and away from Charleston and John Devlin, but she returns to both in the next installment, The Prophet, which is waiting near the top of my To Be Read pile.
On a much lighter note, I thoroughly enjoyed Elaine Viets’ latest Dead End Jobs mystery, Final Sail. I’ve followed Helen Hawthorne’s adventures since she first went on the run from her greedy ex-husband in Shop Til You Drop (2003), so she and the other denizens of the Coronado apartments are old friends. In this outing Helen works for an exhausting week as a stewardess on a private yacht, while her husband and detecting partner Phil poses as several different people to investigate a possible murder.
Last night I finished reading Zoe Archer’s Skies of Fire, the first in a new Steampunk series, The Ether Chronicles. Airships, big explosions, the fate of the British Empire at stake, and a hot romance. What more could a lover of action, adventure, and alternate history ask for? This was the first recent Steampunk novel I’ve read, although I still have a copy of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine (1990) on my keeper shelf. I also have several new Steampunk volumes on my TBR shelves, and on the coffee table (you definitely want this one on paper!) Jeff Vandermeer’s The Steampunk Bible, a gorgeously illustrated book in which literature seems to be something of an afterthought. This is a subgenre that interests me as a reader, and perhaps as a writer, but that needs more exploration.
What have you been reading lately?