Mystery, History, and a little Sci-Fi

December 22-28

I don’t think I had ever read Linwood Barclay before reading The Twenty-Three—another library pick. A Providence journal review on the back cover says: “Barclay masters the nightmare-in-a-small-town formula practically invented by Lisa Gardner and Harlan Coben.”   I think that describes it accurately. There are Stephen King-like elements to the story (a plus), and it was interesting enough to read to the end, but not my favorite kind of book.

img_6840 Siracusa is another one of those books I was seeing on must-read lists. That was all I knew about it, but I picked it up at the library and dug in. Fantastic. A good story about loves, betrayal, and adult relationships of various kinds, set against a backdrop of Rome and Siracusa in Sicily. I was deeply enmeshed in the story from the beginning, and then the foreshadowing began. Twists and turns in the story led to an unexpectedly dramatic turning point. This was exactly the book I wanted to read during a holiday week—totally engaging.

I read Alexandra Oliva’s The Last One on my Kindle, downloading after reading a review somewhere. Since reading Station Eleven and the Red Rising Trilogy last year I’ve been totally into scifi and post-apocalyptic fiction. This novel focuses on players in a reality TV survival show, just as the country is hit by a flu-like plague. Separated from reality by the rules of the game, the story follows one player’s experience exploring the ever-changing line between what is real and what is part of the show experience. Parallels to the Hunger Games are clear, but this story takes its own path, and leaves the ending open enough for a sequel, which I would definitely read.

As I write this I am pretty much absorbed in The Steady Running of the Hour, by Justin Go, a book I picked up this summer at Book City in the Beaches in Toronto, one of my favorite independent book stores. Set in New York and London in the present, with a storyline in England, France, and Sweden during the First World War, this tells the story of a young man on a mission (with a deadline) to find out more about his ancestors. The war scenes are realistic and horrible, the characters are deeply interesting, and the story is a good one. This is yet another book I don’t ever want to stop reading, but can’t wait to finish to find out what happens. (Ok, so I finished it, and it was kind of a European ending, in that the ends were not all tied up enough for me. A great read, but I felt like I missed some info. I could read it again though, to dig into the ideas about life, service, love, and meaning.)

December 28th the final clue on Jeopardy was in the category Fictional Places: This land is described as “All that lies between the lamp-post and the Great Castle of Cair Paravel on the Eastern Sea.” Do you know it?  Cair Paravel reminded me of many lovely hours spent immersed in the series. Amazing how evocative the language and the images are for me. Only one person in the game answered correctly—I bet my kids could not have.

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