Tuesday, January 21, 2014

December Books I Loved

As an enormous fan of Dunnett's six-volume Lymond chronicles, I hesitated to begin this series because how could it possibly live up to Francis Crawford of Lymond? True, young Claes, the Flemish apprentice who becomes Nicolas by the end of the first book, is no Francis Crawford. But he is engaging in his own way, as well as brilliant in exactly the way needed in the late 15th century. Nicolas rises from apprentice to merchant adventurer, making both enemies and friends along the way. This series is more concerned with the rising merchant classes rather than the aristocracy, but politics are never far beneath the surface. The best part is there are five more books in the series!

The second in May's trilogy about the remote Scots island of Lewis opens with the discovery of a corpse in a peat bog. A tattoo dates the corpse to the 1950s and DNA matches the boy to a local man. Unfortunately, the man in question is suffering from Alzheimer's. Fin MacLeod, whose past was painfully exposed in the first book in the trilogy, has returned to Lewis and is asked by the family to uncover the truth. Moving back and forth in time, it's a story to match the bleak but beautiful landscape of the remote island.

ATTACHMENTS/Rainbow Rowell
Lincoln can't believe it's his job to read internal email at a local newspaper. Set in 1999, with Y2K looming, Lincoln in his late twenties hasn't quite moved on from several advanced college degrees. He lives with his mother, and works through the night to ensure proper computer use. Real trouble begins when he begins reading flagged emails between two writers: Beth and Jennifer. The friends reveal their lives and personalities and Lincoln is head over heels for Beth before he knows it. "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your email, and also, I love you . . ." Written before her two YA hits of 2013, Rowell's trademark wit and generosity of spirit is well in evidence in this lovely little novel.

Subtitled An Atlas of Depression, Solomon's book is an exploration of the disease in personal, cultural, and scientific terms. Himself a sufferer, Solomon writes most movingly out of his own experience with the worst that depression inflicts. He spoke with many others, and touches upon topics ranging from alternate treatments to suicide. One of the best books I've read on the subject.

Years ago, Judith disappeared from her colonial-era village. Then she returned, without her tongue and after the death of another girl in the village. Unable to speak easily--and with no one willing to hear--Judith is viewed uneasily even by her own family. The book is written in second-person, as though Judith is pouring out all her thoughts and memories to Lucas, the young man she has loved since she was a child. When their village is threatened, Judith has to make a choice and in that choice begins to take back the reins of her own life. An unusual and powerful YA novel.

In the last days before the fall of China to the Japanese, a young Englishwoman was brutally murdered in old Peking. When Pamela Werner's mutilated body was found at the base of a supposedly spirit-haunted tower, an English detective is brought in to work with the local officers to solve the case. The investigation was hampered by the imminent Japanese occupation and the deep cultural differences running through the city. With the eruption of WWII, the murder of one girl is forgotten. Writer Paul French discovered a wealth of primary documents in the case several years ago and, in this book, delivers at last an answer to Pamela's violent end.

A sequel to MR. CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY, in this novel American-raised Maggie Hope has left Churchill's direct employ to train with MI6. Despite her wish to work behind enemy lines, Maggie is instead sent undercover to Windsor Castle to investigate a possible threat to Princess Elizabeth. A lady in waiting is murdered, secret documents from Bletchley Park are missing, and the Germans will stop at nothing to gain leverage over the British government. A wonderful follow-up, with an ending that sends you racing immediately to the next book in the series.


  1. Thought Noon Day Demon one of the best books I've read on the subject and have referred it to many friends. Glad you had a chance to read it. Midnight in Peking also gives a great sense of time and place for those events.

  2. Do you have the book Attachments? I want to read that one, but the library has many holds on not very many copies.