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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!

Quotes

 


Mother talking on the phone with her son:

“Do something for me, Simon.”

“Maybe”

“Be careful. You’re the only second son I have. Take care of your Fiona, but be careful.”

“I can do that. Don’t worry, Ma. Please.”

“Now that’s a useless request for a mother…”

From The Search by Nora Roberts

She has mothers pegged, all right!

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.

Lovely Hibernating Weekend

 

For the past few weekends I have been on the go. I don’t regret the trips – a girls’ weekend in an Idaho resort, the LA Times Festival of Books, visiting with my granddaughters, etc. This weekend I announced I wasn’t going anywhere and avoiding people.

No, I didn’t want to go swimsuit shopping with a friend. No, I don’t think I’ll go to the cookout (although I finally went for a while so I wouldn’t have to cook…). No, I don’t want to go to Trader Joe’s (I’ll go tonight).

Most of the weekend I hung out alone at home, wallowing in my guilty pleasure reading – romances and very light cozy mysteries. I put aside the deep Barbara Vane novel I’m reading for book club. I ignored the non-fiction I took off the shelf a few days earlier. I didn’t even consider the modern classics waiting on Mt. Bookpile. Instead I pulled out Nora Roberts and caught up on the Bridal Quartet (Bed of Roses and Savor the Moment).

I also caught up on some TV – the Mentalist, the movie Hancock, and Bones.

I even vacuumed and washed floors and clothes. It was a nice, quiet weekend.

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

Black Hills by Nora Roberts

 

Recently I haven’t been reading the new Nora Roberts romantic suspenses as soon as they came out. But I decided to get Black Hills when it was released last week. I was pleased to see I can use it in my 999 challenge, so started and finished it already. (I bought a signed copy, no less.)

I was hooked in the first chapter or two when we meet a resentful 11-year-old who has been sent to South Dakota to stay with his grandparents rather than staying in New York City for the summer with his friends.

The novel goes on to chronicle Cooper’s friendship with the “farm girl” Lil. Then he broke her heart. Now, 20 years after their first meeting, he’s returned to South Dakota to stay, finally leaving New York City behind.

Lil is a strong character who has built her own animal refuge there in the Black Hills. Roberts did her research to get the right tone for the refuge – where wild animals aren’t pets but are protected. Those that can be are released back to the wild. Those that can’t can live out their lives there.

There is a hunter who has settled in the mountains there whose prey is women. The current prey in his sights is Lil. She understand the land and the hunt. She should be worthy of his skills. The suspense part of the book with the hunter is edgy, keeping the reader caught right in.

The tension is high between Coop and Lil as well, but not as riveting to the reader. Often I felt that the romance is added in because that’s what Roberts writes, but that the real story is the refuge and the serial killer.

Since I’m still chipping away at my web site, this review won’t appear there soon. But I had to mention it because it is new and is Nora’s. The characters are good – including the background characters – Coop’s grandparents, Lil’s parents, her “brother” and her best friend.

Overall I’d say Black Hills is one of Nora Roberts stronger romantic suspense novels in the past few years, but it’s strength is in the suspense and refuge, not the romance.

Variety of Reading

 

This comment was posted on my previous blog entry:

“Not really a comment on meeting old friends. I was browsing your alphabetical list of book titles and was surprised that such an otherwise comprehensive list does not include Mansfield Park.”

Nope, I’ve never gotten around to Mansfield Park – this person is right. Nor have I yet read Persuasion by Jane Austen, either. Those are both on my “some day” list – which may or may not happen. I also still haven’t read Catch-22, all the Nora Roberts novels, more Toni Morrison, Jim Butcher‘s Codex series, the rest of the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, or finished up the Ann George mystery series. There’s a reason my website front page says “So many books, so little time”. There is so much I want to read.

I talk about Mt. Bookpile frequently. Except for a couple of the Nora Roberts books, none of the other books I just mentioned are in Mt. Bookpile. I’d like to read them though.

My library book club has been good to get me read things I wouldn’t have otherwise – for example Giant or Middlemarch or Eat, Pray, Love (and those are only in the last year).

I find it interesting that the commenter calls my reading list comprehensive – I call it varied. There’s so many genres and authors that I like to read that I can be all over the board. Yes, I have my definite favorite genres – science fiction and mystery especially – but I just like to read.