I have a new “wireless desktop”—which sounds very futuristic but actually means only that I have a new keyboard and mouse to replace my old keyboard and mouse. The mouse had developed random click-itis—when I clicked, I could never be sure if I would get no clicks, one click, two clicks, or unknown multiple clicks. Drove me crazy. Took it apart, blew it out with canned air, replaced the batteries—alas, no improvement. And I had worn the letters off my keyboard anyway. Does anyone else do that? I’ve worn the letters off every keyboard I’ve ever used.
Anyway. Here I am with a beautiful new wireless desktop. When I click once I get one click. And I had a ten-dollar discount card to sweeten the deal. Life is good.
I know, it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Heh.
Who can resist beagle eyes? This is Boudin, looking up at me with all his beagle power as I look down at him with the camera. Did he get a treat afterward? What do you think? Heh.
Salt and Silver by Anna Katherine is way out of my usual reading comfort zone. On the other hand, it’s got a quirky, complex heroine named Allie; a laconic and swashbuckling (in 21st-century leather-duster terms, at least) hero named Ryan; and an Inanna-esque storyline of a woman’s descent into a multi-leveled underworld. Add in a rainy afternoon and a big bowl of popcorn, and who could ask for more?
I don’t often read urban fantasy. Am I the only person in America not intrigued by vampires, angels and demons? Apparently so. But in Salt and Silver Anna Katherine makes the most of it, placing precise and gritty details of contemporary New York side-by-side with blood, monsters and magic as if it’s the most natural combination in the world.
What I liked best was the mythology, the bits of folklore about demons and vampires (Salt and Silver has some very unusual vampires), werewolves and hollow-tree women, door-hounds and lamia; I also loved the details from the magics and underworlds of different cultures and societies throughout history. I am an absolute sucker for that sort of thing. It’s hard to tell what’s real (well, not real, but you know what I mean) and what the author made up, as my mother would say, out of the whole cloth. It’s seamless.
The cover blurb calls it a “fun and sexy romp,” but I’m not sure I’d characterize it quite that lightly. There’s humor, yes, and there’s sex, but romping? Not so much. Allie goes to hell and back and never loses her love for Ryan or her penchant for wisecracks, and in the end the world ends. Or as she says: “Some world, anyway.”
I’ve mentioned the delightful Shrinking Violets blog before, and of course their May celebration of independent booksellers. Last week I put on my field-reporter’s hat and made a trip to my own favorite independent bookstore, The Book Carriage in Roanoke, Texas. The resulting story and pictures are featured on the Shrinking Violets site today.
Everybody go take a look! Leave a comment! Link one of Shrinking Violets’ indie profiles to your blog, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a $100.00 gift certificate to Indie Bound.
In between taking pictures, sipping lattè and chatting with Angie Granados at The Book Carriage, I took a moment to order Anna Katherine‘s Salt and Silver. A huge change of pace from The Séance, and lots of fun. More comments to come later in the week!
I just finished The Séance by John Harwood, and what a deliciously eldritch gothic tale it is. As a reader one must have a little patience through the first few chapters, but it all turns out to be important in the end and there are rewards to come. Constance Langton, orphaned and dependent on a single feckless uncle, unexpectedly inherits Wraxford Hall, a derelict manor house by the Sussex coast with—would you ever doubt it?—a dark history. A dark history entangled with Constance’s own past. Or is it her past? Told in multiple viewpoints and narratives, The Séance is like a crumbling scrapbook of mysterious apparitions, betrayal, blackmail and horror.
With a dreamlike photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron (see the post below on the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood) on its cover and the stuff of nightmares inside, The Séance brings late-Victorian England to effortless and mesmerizing life. One of the best books I’ve read so far this year.