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Allowing Character Growth

 

image descriptionOver the years J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) has allowed her In Death characters to change and grow. Even so, some things are expected. Eve Dallas, the main character, is the one who catches details. Delia Peabody, promoted to detective now herself, is the foil for Dallas. That’s what is expected and what works in these novels. Now I’m reading Obsession In Death. I was delighted when I read this as the two are checking security video from the first crime scene in the novel.

“It’s like you saw it before you saw it,” Peabody said.

“Yeah, that doesn’t help her much.” Eve shook it off, zipped through until she saw the door open again. “In and out in what, twenty-seven minutes. Control, that’s control, and that’s purpose. Still carrying the box, still blocking the face.”

“But…Do you see it?”

“I don’t know. What should I see?”

“A jaunty spring to the step. Somebody’s happy, somebody’s feeling really, really good, good enough to strut it out. But still careful, careful enough to block the camera, and all the way out and gone…”

Peabody caught the body language change, not Dallas. The Watson of the two was the more observant at the moment. Peabody may be the sidekick, but Robb doesn’t let her stay there. It’s passages like this that make the reader feel these characters are real. We first met Peabody in a small role as a beat cop in Glory In Death, the second book in the series. Look at her now!

By the End of 2010 Challenge

 

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian
Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien
Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler

By the End of 2010 Challenge

 

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian
Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien
Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler

Hmmm, so far I’ve taken off three books – and added on three more. I mentioned Side Jobs already. It will be the last on my list to read. But I forgot about my book club book, so it has to be on this list. We’re reading Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien. I know it should be quick. I also was sent Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler to review. I had agreed to take it a couple weeks ago. I try to read the ones I’ve agreed to take fairly quickly. Besides that, I’m looking forward to it. The short story authors look good. Sigh, I probably won’t make the challenge…

By the End of 2010 Challenge

 

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian

Today I picked up my copy of Jim Butcher’s Side Jobs. If I get to it, great, but I’m not adding it to this challenge list. I’m not surprised the two first books were Nora Roberts’ novels. They are both parts of a series that I read immediately. Hopefully, the first Connie Willis novel, Black Out will be next.

By the End of 2010 Challenge

 

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The X Factor by Andre Norton
Something from the Nightside by Simon Green
Blood Rites by Barry Nazarian

One down, twelve to go…

Rest of the Year Challenge

 

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet EvanovichSizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Waters Rising by Sherri Tepper
Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark

The common factor here? All of these were published this year. All of them now sit on Mt. Bookpile. I really should read them before the end of the year. (I still have 2 or 3 from 2009 to read, too, but hey…)

Plus I want to pick up the final Bride Quartet book by Nora Roberts, Happy Ever After and read it. Then there are the three older books I bought specifically on recommendation (rather than browsing used book stores and picking up what looked good). I’d like to read those, too. Thirteen books – all in paper, not audio or e-book. I probably should quit borrowing library books for a month or so.

Locked Room Novel

 

Fantasy in Death by J.D. RobbOoooh, I’m happy. My newest In Death novel, Fantasy in Death arrived today. It’s a locked room mystery. I haven’t read a good locked room story in a while. I hope this one satisfies.

999 in 2009 – Final Thoughts and Comments (long post)

 

First, I will never again commit to reading so many specific books in one year – I like to wander around in my reading. I was fine at the beginning of the year, but by the end was scrambling to fill in holes when I had other things I wanted to read.

Second, I will have to continue to keep up some book challenges. There were books on this list I would have never picked up if I hadn’t been challenged, such as Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury or Let Me Go by Helga Schneider.

Third, I was surprised that Mt. Bookpile couldn’t supply more books. I figured I would have more to fit the different categories. But then, many of the library books were audio books, which I don’t keep at home.

Here is my thoughts on the categories:

Easiest to Finish – New Books Published in 2009 – I probably finished this one at least twice over, if not three times

More Difficult Than I Guessed – Books With the Word “Heart” in the Title – I didn’t have as many of these on Mt. Bookpile as I thought. I also didn’t want them all to be romance novels.

Author Most Represented on List – Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb – What can I say? She’s very prolific and I like her books.

Here are my choices (today – this could change tomorrow) for the best books in each group:

New Books in 2009 – Horizon by Lois McMaster Bujold
Place Name in the Title – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Time Travel – The Little Book by Selden Edwards
Facial Feature – Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury
Written Before 1900 – Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
“Heart” in the Title – Dragonheart by Todd McCaffrey
Author Whose Last Name Starts With “Y” – Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto or China Dolls by Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan
Stand Alone Mysteries – Bone by Bone by Carol O’Connell
Translation – Kallocain by Karen Boye

Overall:

Most Recommended – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Best Feel Good – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Best Romance – Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson
Best Twist – Promises in Death by J.D. Robb
Least Memorable Book – Truly, Madly Manhattan by Nora Roberts
Longest Book – Hawaii by James Michener (or was it Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott?)
Most Chilling Antagonist – The Good Guy by Dean Koontz
Most Confusing – The City at the End of Time by Greg Bear
Most Interesting Non Fiction – Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey
Most Suspenseful – The Shimmer by David Morrell
Most Tedious – The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
Most Unexpected – Kallocain by Karen Boye
Sexiest – Mouth to Mouth by Erin McCarthy
Shortest Book – How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? or How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Was on Mt. Bookpile the Longest – Dragonwings by Laurence Yep

Reply to Comment on Previous Post

 


Sunil left a general comment on the previous post that needed answering. I started to add a comment after hers, but the message was getting pretty long, so I decided to blog it separately.

No, I don’t have any way to sort on my ratings. This site is 11 years old and still has some of the original formatting in places. I know I should learn something like Drupal and migrate, but found the learning curve is more than I want to deal with right now. I wasn’t even able to figure out how to get started after I installed it…

Some of my highly recommended mystery writers:

Margaret MaronThe Bootlegger’s Daughter and follow up books (current day North Carolina, cozy but not cutsie)

Anne Perry – different detective series all historical England, different time periods in the 1800’s to early 1900’s – try Face of a Stranger.

J.D. RobbNaked in Death and the follow ups (future New York City, gritty)

Jacqueline WinspearMaisie Dobbs and follow up books (historical, 1930’s)

For humorous mysteries, check out Lisa Lutz‘s The Spellman Files and two sequels. She’s a new author and these are hilarious. A West Coast Stephanie Plum without the foul mouth or the murders. I hope she maintains after she’s finished the Spellman series – which is planned for four. I’ve given her books to my daughters, my brother, my mother, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. This is the only author I know that I’ve been able to give to all of those people.

There are many more, so I made myself stop. Yes, I admit my favorite authors tend to be women, but I read a lot of men’s books as well.

999 and Alps Vacation Challenge – February Report

 

Promises in Death by J.D. RobbNow I have 14 books read for the 999 challenge. If I stay on this track I’ll finish nicely in December. I’m currently reading the new J.D. Robb that came out this week, Promises in Death, so that will add another one in my 2009 reads.

Actually, 2009 books won’t be hard. I walked into Mysterious Galaxy today to purchase Promises and Among the Mad, the new Maisie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear. While there I found three other books I want/need to buy – Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich (2008, not 2009), The Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz, and Horizon, the 4th Sharing Knife novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. But I couldn’t afford 5 books at full price, so I only bought the 2 today. I’ll get the others at Mysterious Galaxy later…

The 999 Challenge is on target. I’m not so sure about the Alps vacation target. I only have another 5 weeks and haven’t any clues for Heidelberg, the Alps, or Lucerne. I’ll use Among the Mad for London even if it takes place 75 years ago. I’ll look for translations, if I can, to further both challenges at once. We’ll see…

Nora Roberts

 

By a strange set coincidences, I’m reading three different Nora Roberts’ books at once. I almost always pick up the newest “In Death” by J.D. Robb, Robert’s alter ego, soon after it’s published. Strangers in Death came out Tuesday, I bought it yesterday, and started reading today. I’ll have it to one of my daughters to read (they both want to borrow it) by the end of the week.

I usually keep a romance by my bed to read before I go to sleep. Early last week I took Mysterious off Mt. Bookpile. It is a collection of three of her Silhouette novels from the 1980’s – This Magic Moment, Search for Love, and The Right Path. I’m about 2/3 of the way through the first story.

When I stopped at the library yesterday, High Noon was waiting for me. Since this is the audio version, it is doubtful I’ll be able to renew it if I don’t start it soon. I’m only about half way through Gaudy Night in the car, so I started listening to High Noon at work when I’m working on routine tasks.

It’s rare I have 3 books by one author going at the same time. But they’re all different. Mysterious is from early in her career. Silhouette books (at the time, anyway) were straight fluff romances and a good way for a writer to get established. High Noon came out in the last year, and is part of her mature romantic suspense novel stage. Strangers in Death is written by her alter ego. J.D. Robb’s detective series is darker than the Nora Roberts romantic suspense novels, with wonderful protagonists. What strong woman could dislike Eve Dallas or could help but fall for Eve’s husband Roarke? The mysteries are usually good, edgy, and well crafted. So I may be reading three books by the same person, but I’m still reading three different genres. How often can you say that?