Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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Location: New York, United States

The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Monday, July 07, 2008

So many books, so little time!

Well, at least I have finished a couple of my own, in addition to library books. My brain seems to be fried - maybe that's why you're theoretically supposed to read lighter stuff in the summer. Except for those poor kids - I don't remember ever getting reading lists when I was in school! Not that I didn't read constantly anyway, but I always balked at being told what to read, unless it was actually part of the curriculum. I still remember poor Mr. Arnault trying to get me to do my book report on The Fountainhead in 11th grade English, when I wanted to do it on Gone with the Wind. Guess who won that one.

Anyway, here are some books that I've finished recently:

Rachel, the Possessed by Katheryn Kimbrough - yes, one of the dreaded Phenwick women! I'm so ashamed, but they're like popcorn or chocolate - you know they're no good for you but you keep having another one, and another. I've got three more and just ordered #9 & 10. ** 1/2

Beneath the Skin by Nicci French (library book). This is the third one of hers I've finished and have enjoyed all of them. I like the fact that each of them is completely different from the others. (SPOILER ALERT!) What I was particularly impressed by in this one is that it deals with three victims of a stalker, and you get to know the two who are killed as well as the one who catches the guy and survives. Usually the only one the author allows you to get to know and care about is the one who makes it, and the other victims are just incidental. ****

In a Dark Season by Vickie Lane. An Appalachian mystery. A healthy older woman with (seemingly) everything to live for suddenly attempts to kill herself, and a "newcomer" (only been there 20 years) who has just become friends with her sets out to find out why. Intertwined with her present-day search for connections to a crime that occurred 11 years before is a story of love and betrayal from the 1850s. There's also a hint of the supernatural. Very atmospheric. ****

Dead Guilty by Beverly Connor (library book). Three bodies are found hanging from trees in the Georgia woods, and forensic anthropologist Diane Fallon has to glean as much information from them as she can, as people connected to the find start being killed around her. I thought the plot on this one was a little convoluted and the solution didn't really live up to the buildup. There was also a lot of information presented by various characters to one another in what felt like little mini-lectures. On the other hand, they didn't slow down the pace and it did keep me reading. *** 1/2

Thieves of Heaven by Richard Doetsch (library book). A reformed thief whose wife is dying of cancer accepts an assignment to steal the "keys to heaven" from the Vatican in order to pay for her treatment, and discovers that he's been working for the other side, as it were. A little far-fetched, particularly in some of the details, but very enjoyable. *** 1/2

Saxons, Vikings and Celts by Brian Sykes. An account of a genetic study that attempts to unravel the tangled genetic strands of the four countries making up Great Britain, and to see how well the actual genetics of the Brits matches with the stories told by archaeology and folklore. *** 1/2

Coming up next: What I'm reading now (a bit more edifying than that lot)


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