Thursday, February 28, 2013

Black Fforde Hornung Horowitz Polidori

by Holly Black
Recommended Ages: 14+

Subtitled "A Modern Faery's Tale," this companion-book to Tithe and Valiant brings back characters from the previous two books in a climactic tale of magic, romance, court intrigue, and hard-hitting action. Once again, the Bright and Night Courts of Faerie collide against the urban backdrop of New York City and its down-and-out New Jersey suburbs. Once again, a spotlight shines on the spine-chilling side of fey creatures—the child-stealing, pain-dealing, backstabbing, amoral side of beings that are just like sociopathic killers except that they are unnaturally beautiful, they can't endure the touch of iron, and they cannot lie. Fun, right?

Kaye, who only lately found out that she is a pixie who swapped places with her human mother's real child, figured that things would go smoothly once her boyfriend Roiben became king of the Unseelie (or Night) Court. But really, her troubles have just begun. Tricked into declaring her love for him, Kaye is dispatched on a seemingly impossible quest: to find a faery who can lie. Since she cannot see Roiben again until she fulfills this task, this seems to be a cruel way to break up. Not that her life "ironside" (i.e. in the human world) is flowing any better. After Kaye reveals the truth to her mother, she fears her family life may be over too. Now she must make a deal with the devil—well, all right, the Seelie Queen—to bring the real Kaye back to the mother who never knew her.

Meanwhile, Kaye's best friend Corny is still doing his best, without magical powers of his own, to exact revenge on the world of Faerie for the death of his sister, drowned by a kelpie. Corny's anger issues get him in trouble when a faery whom he roughs up in a nightclub bathroom puts a curse on him. Now everything he touches with his bare hands, withers. On the upside for Corny is a gay romance with Luis, the boy who can see through magical glamours; which reminds me—in case you haven't already picked up on this—that an "adult content advisory" is in order.

It's just another service you can expect from the author who draped the dark, edgy, needle-scarred, smog-stained mantle of ghetto-ness around the shoulders of Faerie. It's a story set in the no-man's-land between things ancient and modern, grown and cast in iron: a borderland of shadow and conflict, of pain and change, of the small daytime struggles of ordinary people caught up within the epoch-making motions of mythical, magical beings. It won't be everybody's cup of tea. Rather, it is a stiff shot of an unusual viewpoint on fairyland folklore. Some day I would be interested to discuss, and maybe debate, with the author her take on this lore, the purpose it serves, the values it promotes. For now I can only appreciate the twistiness of the plot that unravels in this book, as befits the twisted characters vying for control of Faerie. If you find this trilogy to be all that and more, check out Holly Black's other titles, including Doll Bones (coming in May 2013) and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (coming in September 2013).

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing
by Jasper Fforde
Recommended Ages: 13+

If you haven't read the first five "Thursday Next" fantasy-comedy-mystery-thrillers, or at least my reviews of them, I'm not sure how to begin to describe Book 6 to you. There's just so much going on in them. Whether it is worth your while to find out what you're missing, you may judge from a personal anecdote: While listening to Emily Gray reading the audio-book edition of this book during a car trip, I once had to pull over until I could regain my composure, I was laughing so hard. Only once, to be sure; but laughs of one size or another crowded thickly into this brainy, zany, complex, amazing book.

Some fans of Thursday Next may be disappointed to find out that the "real" Thursday barely appears in this installment. The narrator and main protagonist is actually the "written" Thursday—which is to say, the character in Bookworld who headlines the cast of the Thursday Next series in the reader's imagination. You see why I said this was going to be hard to explain.

Thursday—I mean the "real" Thursday, who lives in a somewhat daft alternate-history version of present day Swindon, U.K.—is a woman of many parts. As a Spec Ops detective, she used to investigate the really weird crimes, such as those involving time travel, extraterrestrials, and (her specialty) fictional characters running loose in the real world. In Bookworld, meanwhile, she is a top-tier agent of Jurisfiction, one of the few who can move freely between the two worlds. Besides all this she moonlights as a wife, mother, carpet salesperson, cheese smuggler (please don't ask), slayer of the undead, nemesis of the evil Goliath Corporation, and championship croquet team manager. She has saved the world multiple times and eluded about six dozen attempts on her own life. But now she has disappeared somewhere in Bookworld, and it couldn't happen at a worse time.

The written Thursday, meanwhile, doesn't seem to be cut out of the same cloth. Less assertive, more tree-huggy, and plagued by relationship problems—such as being in love with the husband who exists only in the real world but not in the books. She washed out of Jurisfiction training and now, when not appearing in her out-of-print and seldom-read series, serves as a Bookworld accident investigator who can be counted on when a lousy investigation is needed. She gets just such a case when an unidentified book in transit over fictional airspace crashes and leaves a swath of debris across the thriller genre. All she needs to do is find that it is an unprecedented and unrepeatable accident, but instead she picks up the scent of a conspiracy that could rock the whole Bookworld.

Meanwhile, she has to find the real Thursday in time for sensitive peace talks with Speedy Muffler, the renegade leader of Racy Novel. And as the case progresses, she grows less and less sure that she isn't the real Thursday herself, suffering from delusions of being the written one. She would like it to be true—after a tantalizing but confusing visit to the real world and a near-kiss with her beloved Landen, oh! doesn't she!—but a nagging intuition persists in telling her that hear real-world counterpart is hurt but alive, somewhere in Bookworld.

As each new clue brings written Thursday closer to understanding how her two cases fit together, she increasingly wishes that she had the real Thursday's detection chops—because the more she knows, the less it makes sense. And that's even taking into account the cracked logic of life as a text-based life-form, in a world where buildings, landscapes, and people—rather than pages—exist between the covers of each book, where raw metaphor is mined and smuggled, where a wind-up butler and a deputy boyfriend with a hideous (but transferable) backstory share space with Men in Plaid driving 1949 Buick Roadmasters, where fan-fiction characters live in a ghetto guarded by game-show hosts armed with eraser-tipped ordnance, where the perception of time is based on length of description, and where participants in a conversation may lose track of who is saying what in the absence of dialog cues. The only thing weirder than Bookworld, from our point of view, is how our world appears to a visitor from Bookworld. And the character who guides us through it all has confusion of her own, as she works out who she really is and what she is capable of.

I have learned, just now, that this is really Book 2 of what is meant to be the second four-book series of Thursday Next novels, starting with First Among Sequels and continuing (after this book) with The Woman Who Died a Lot. A release date has not yet been announced for Book 4, currently titled Dark Reading Matter. Meanwhile, author Fforde (which, according to Emily Gray, is pronounced "Ford") is also working on two other series of novels, titled "Last Dragonslayer" and "Shades of Grey."

A Thief in the Night
by E. W. Hornung
Recommended Ages: 13+

In this third and final collection of short stories about gentleman burglar A. J. Raffles, the criminal mastermind's sidekick and chronicler—known to us only by his schoolboy nickname "Bunny," until the final story in this book reveals his given name to be Harry—looks back over both halves of his idolized friend's house-breaking career. You'll have already read how it began in The Amateur Cracksman, from the start of their partnership until Raffles escapes justice over the side of a ship and is presumed dead, leaving Bunny to pay for their crimes in prison. Then, in the second collection, The Black Mask, you'll have been introduced to their later career, after Bunny gets out of the clink and Raffles returns from the drink, up to the latter's death in the Boer War.

Obviously there could never be a third phase of Raffles' development of the art of burglary. So in this collection, Bunny fills in some episodes he previously skipped over—mostly in their earlier phase, when Raffles was still cracking safes under the cover of a professional cricketer. As in the earlier sets, these stories are the antithesis of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries created by Hornung's close friend Arthur Conan Doyle. We know from the start "who done it," but the interest of the story lies in whether and how they got away with it.

The collection starts with "Out of Paradise," an early heist in which Bunny's romantic entanglement with one of the victims put a strain on his friendship with Raffles. "The Chest of Silver" is a trunk that Bunny deposits in his bank's strong-room at Raffles' request, supposedly to keep their swag from drawing police notice while the master thief is lying low. In actual fact, the trunk contains Raffles himself, in perhaps his daringest heist ever. In "The Rest Cure," Raffles and Bunny hide out in a house whose owners are summering in Switzerland. The man of the house comes back unexpectedly and catches Bunny in the middle of a cross-dressing prank, putting the pair in peril of becoming murderers as well as house-breakers. In "The Criminologists' Club," Raffles outwits a group of drawing-room sleuths, seemingly pulling off a burglary in one room while they're interrogating him in the other. "The Field of Philippi" takes Raffles and Bunny back to the old school, where they first rob a banker and then trick him into donating to a fund he vehemently opposed.

"A Bad Night" relates Bunny's disastrous attempt to do a job on his own, while Raffles is supposedly occupied with cricket. "A Trap to Catch a Cracksman" tells how Bunny and Raffles turn the tables on a prizefighter, even after Raffles falls right into the boxer's burglar trap. "The Spoils of Sacrilege" is a heist of the upstairs region of Bunny's boyhood home, while the family now living there is having a party downstairs. In this case, Bunny's intimate knowledge of the house's layout plays against his last lingering moral qualms. Moving forward to the end of Raffles' career, when the celebrated thief is widely believed to be dead, "The Raffles Relics" relates a raid on a museum collection of his break-in tools—at Scotland Yard! And finally, "The Last Word" closes the loop with a letter from the Bunny's ex-fiancée, who last saw him fleeing the burglary of her own house—now suggesting, after Bunny's war-wounded homecoming from South Africa, that they may yet have a future together.

These ten stories fill in the gaps between Raffles' celebrated crimes with more eye-sparklingly clever, funny, surprising, suspenseful, and action-filled adventures. Some of them have a touch of melancholy as well. If you haven't made Raffles' acquaintance yet, you may be surprised at what light reading they make. Other than a few lines of sporting slang vintage 1905 or so, which you may find frankly incomprehensible, these tales are still quite readable—built to last, and full of appeal. You may want to check them out, at least, so as to better understand other authors' references to Raffles, especially British writers in the early 20th century. He is, after all, the proverbial paragon of the gentleman burglar, paving the way for such entertainments as the "Dortmunder" series by Donald E. Westlake. Any of Hornung's three short-story collections would be an equally good place to start. All of them are available for free on Kindle. Plus, there is also a Raffles novel, titled Mr. Justice Raffles.

The House of Silk
by Anthony Horowitz
Recommended Ages: 14+

As most loiterers in library or bookstore children's and young adult fantasy sections are aware, there's a whole series of sequels to Peter Pan authored by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson—a series backed by Disney. What fewer readers know is that the owners of J. M. Barrie's original book and play commissioned only one sequel to Peter Pan: Geraldine McCaughrean's Peter Pan in Scarlet. In a similar way, Laurie R. King's "Mary Russell" mysteries and Carole Nelson Douglas' "Irene Adler" mysteries are successors to the Sherlock Holmes canon created by Arthur Conan Doyle. But no official Holmes sequel was ever sanctioned by the estate of Conan Doyle—until this 2011 book by the author of the "Alex Rider" adventures and the creator of the BBC detective series Foyle's War. McCaughrean's authorized "Peter Pan" sequel, though excellent, is overshadowed by the endless array of glitzy Disney productions, including an upcoming movie. Can Horowitz's authorized "Sherlock Holmes" novel do better? At this writing, he is up against a formidable array of cultural white noise, ranging from a series of blockbuster movies starring Robert Downey Jr. as a flamboyantly un-Holmesian Holmes, to a matched pair of TV series (BBC's Sherlock and CBS's Elementary) transposing Holmes to the key of now. But after hearing Derek Jacobi perform an audio-book reading of The House of Silk, my thought was: "Just this once, the real Holmes lives again."

Horowitz builds his original Holmes novel on what must be an amazingly detailed knowledge of canon Holmes, organized so well that he makes it seem simple. Even though his narrator—Sherlock's sidekick Dr. John Watson—admits that the present case is unlike any other that he has chronicled; even while he points out the limitations of the type of tidy detective stories represented by Conan Doyle's work; even while he admits that in real life, the story of a crime does not end when a sleuth deduces who done it; even while the detecting duo explores a darker, drearier side of London life than Conan Doyle ever touched on—nevertheless the personality of this novel's hero is distinctively Holmes. The instant deductions, based on minutely observed clues, are totally Holmes. The misdirections, the complications, and the revelations of Holmes's infallible reasoning—often delayed until the moment of maximum dramatic effect—are Holmes all over. Imperfect, introspective, vulnerable (though perhaps not as vulnerable as he seems), tortured by the consequences of a rare miscalculation, sometimes callous toward his faithful Watson and sometimes given to surprising displays of warmth, the Holmes of Anthony Horowitz comes across most vividly as the Holmes we know and love.

The cases of "the Flat Cap Gang" and "the House of Silk" seem, until almost the end of this book, to be separate and only coincidentally related affairs. The "flat cap" case opens when an art dealer named Carstairs hires Holmes to protect him from an Irish-American hoodlum who—due to a small misunderstanding involving a train robbery and a blood-drenched, bullet-riddled hideout—seems to have followed Carstairs across the Atlantic with revenge on his mind. The case grows more bizarre when the hoodlum, after summoning his victim to an ominous meeting, stands him up, then burgles his house, then turns up murdered in a fleabag hotel. Even as his client declares the case closed, Holmes can't make heads or tails of it.

Plus, the discovery of the hoodlum's corpse dovetails with the disappearance of one of Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars—the grubby waifs he sometimes hires to run errands. The search for Ross Dixon leads Holmes and Watson first to a charity school for unwanted boys, then to a seedy inn called the Bag of Nails, and finally to the bodies of two gruesomely murdered children. As soon as Holmes begins to investigate what these deaths have to do with a mysterious organization called the House of Silk, he begins to feel pushback from high places. His well-connected brother Mycroft advises him to drop the matter. Instead, Holmes takes out an ad requesting information about the House of Silk, and promptly gets scrobbled by the denizens of an opium den and framed for murder. Just when Watson is worried that the charge may stick, the great detective stages a brilliant jail-break and, pursued by vicious killers as well as a nasty Scotland Yard detective, pursues his investigation to its wrenching conclusion.

What the House of Silk turns out to be, may not be so shocking today. Evil, yes; scandalous even. But perhaps the real horror is that such a vile secret does not seem at all implausible today. Nevertheless Conan Doyle could never have written about it, and even Horowitz's Watson consigns the mystery to a sealed pouch that is not to be opened for a hundred years. So here we are, in good time to see what comes out of the pouch, and perhaps to consider our present world as an example of what comes of protecting such secrets. Or perhaps it is an example of why it might be best to let the mystery end, Conan Doyle-style, with the sleuth announcing his solution. What happens after that can only be more or less sordid and grim. Apart from the outcome of some thrilling chases and gun battles, justice may not be done regardless of what the sleuth finds. But Holmes and Watson soldier on, and while they do, hope lives on that a few more "untold stories" of Sherlock Holmes may yet come to light.

The Vampyre
by John Polidori
Recommended Ages: 12+

Fourscore years before Bram Stoker's Dracula, give or take a couple, this short story laid the foundation of English literature's growing obsession with all things vampire. Based in part on an unfinished novel that Lord Byron conceived during the same evening of ghost-story-telling that inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, John William Polidori's tale was long misattributed to Byron—indeed, it first appeared under his name in an 1819 issue of the New Monthly Magazine. After its true authorship was revealed, speculation ran rampant that the sinister character of Lord Ruthven was based on Lord Byron, prompting its author to append a disclaimer in which he praised Byron's misunderstood character.

Together with two rather dry introductory essays—one about the origin of the story, the other about the background of vampires in Greek folkore—these documents add up to a slender 50 pages or so, frisking along the borders of the novella. Taken by itself, it is quite a short story and, understandably given its nearly 200-year ripeness, its style now seems rather faded and old-fashioned. The abundance of typos in the free Kindle edition does not add much to its appeal. And there is no mistaking it for a work of real genius. Nevertheless, it is a very striking and effective story in its way—full of dread and suspense, exquisitely paced so that the ending comes as a sudden shock, and enlivened by the strange magnetism of the figure of Lord Ruthven.

He seems like such a strange specimen of a vampire that one often has to remind oneself that he embodied the idea of vampires, at least in the literate Western European mind, more than any other character until Dracula came along in 1897. (It was Dumas, by the way, who drew my attention to Lord Ruthven, by putting in his characters' mouths so many comparisons between Lord Ruthven and the Count of Monte Cristo.) In contrast to Count Dracula's depiction as a creature of overwhelming charisma, Ruthven turns heads in society precisely by means of his complete lack of personal charm. Somehow the originality of such a repulsive being seems to draw notice from a certain set of spoiled aristocrats who are desperate for something new. Everything he does seems calculated to do the most harm, whether he wins at cards or loses, gives money to a beggar or refuses. He destroys the fortunes, lives, and families of men, the honor and virtue of women, and can scarcely conceal his pleasure at their ruin.

And then, now and again, he drinks someone's blood. And he comes back from the dead. So yes, now and then he acts just like your common, or garden, vampire.

In his most dastardly deed of all, Lord Ruthven exacts an oath from a young fop named Aubrey, a promise on gentleman's honor not to reveal what he knows about Lord Ruthven's character... then proceeds to hold this promise over Aubrey's head while wooing the latter's sweet, innocent sister. The result is a frenzied crescendo of desperation, madness, and death. Even after nearly two hundred years, it remains a tale that can raise the fine hairs on your body. And that's without any mention of sunlight, crucifixes, garlic, or wooden stakes. Generations later, Dracula still makes westerners shudder—even though his enemies took him down at the end. For all Polidori tells us, Lord Ruthven is still out there. Shouldn't we be concerned?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

T is for Trochiliphobia*

If I live to read all the books in the series I am following, I will have a very long life! Here are just the ones whose authors' last names begin with the letters T through Z...
  • Mildred D. Taylor
    • The books of hers that I have read so far are actually the first 2 in a series of 8 called the "Logan Family Saga." Next up: Let the Circle Be Unbroken.
  • W. M. Thackeray
    • I have a few of his more notable novels on my Kindle, including Vanity Fair and The Luck of Barry Lyndon.
  • Roderick Townley
    • The Constellation of Sylvie is book 3 of his "Sylvie Cycle."
  • P. L. Travers
    • I have book 4 of the at least 8 "Mary Poppins" books, titled Mary Poppins in the Park. The reason I haven't continued reading the series is that I found the first 3 books to be all about the same, like what deterred me from continuing to read Brian Jacques' "Redwall" books.
  • Anthony Trollope
    • I have several of his novels on my Kindle, such as The Warden (book 1 of his "Barchester Towers" cycle).
  • Megan Whalen Turner
    • Her only book that I have not yet read is Instead of Three Wishes. If I had three wishes, one of them would be that she would add more books to her "Attolia" series.
  • Anne Ursu
    • The Immortal Fire, book 3 of her "Cronus Chronicles," is on my shelf.
  • Vivian Vande Velde
    • Heir Apparent turns out to be the middle book of a trilogy that began with User Unfriendly.
    • I have several of her titles on my "to-read" shelf, and would be interested in more.
  • Jules Verne
    • I really have to read more of his books, which are cemented into the foundation of today's fantasy genre.
  • Cynthia Voigt
    • Book 4 of the "Tillerman Family" sextet is The Runner. I think it's on my shelf.
    • I may also try to get hold of The Book of Lost Things, book 1 of her new "Mister Max" series.
  • John Vornholt
    • I have had The Troll Treasure, book 3 of his "Troll King" series, for years. The eternally frustrating problem is: I haven't gotten hold of book 2 yet. Its title: The Troll Queen.
  • Scott Westerfeld
    • Goliath is book 3 of his "Leviathan" trilogy.
    • I have yet to try out his "Uglies" and "Peeps" series.
  • Donald Westlake
    • I'm sure I've missed a few of his "Dortmunder" books, and would gladly read any book by this fantastic entertainer.
  • Ysabeau Wilce
    • Flora's Dare, book 2 of her "Flora" trilogy, is on my shelf.
  • F. Paul Wilson
    • Further to The Tomb (which is technically part of the 5-book "Adversary" cycle), I have at least 15 "Repairman Jack" books to read. Unfortunately, the one on my shelf is #5. What I want is #1: Legacies.
    • If I'm also going to read the "Adversary" cycle, I should start with its book #1 too: The Keep.
    • Plus, there's a Repairman Jack "teen trilogy," starting with Secret Histories.
  • N. D. Wilson
    • Book 2 of his "Ashtown Burials" trilogy is The Drowned Vault.
  • Jeanette Winterson
    • I am interested in at least one of her titles: The Battle of the Sun.
  • P. G. Wodehouse
    • I have checked several of his audiobooks out of the county library, only to have to return them because someone else had them on request & I wasn't allowed to renew my loan. I'll have to request them again & push them to the front of the queue (which is to say, the passenger seat of my car).
  • Gene Wolfe
    • I have Epiphany of the Long Sun on my shelf.
    • I would be interested in most anything this author has published.
  • Patricia C. Wrede
    • Besides the aforementioned books co-authored with Caroline Stevermer, I would be interested in this author's Mairelon the Magician and its sequel, Magician's Ward.
    • I am also interested in her "Frontier Magic" trilogy, starting with Thirteenth Child, which promises to be some kind of mashup of Harry Potter and Little House on the Prairie.
  • Rick Yancey
    • Book 3 of his "Alfred Kropp" trilogy is The Thirteenth Skull.
    • Book 3 of his "Monstrumologist" trilogy is The Isle of Blood.
    • Then there's the whole "Highly Effective Detective" quartet to consider...
  • Jane Yolen
    • Somehow I missed book 4 of the "Pit Dragon trilogy" (hah!), titled Dragon's Heart.
    • I have her "Young Merlin Trilogy" on my shelf, a surprisingly thin omnibus volume.
    • I also missed one of the "Rock'n'Roll Fairy Tales" she co-authored with Adam Stemple: Pay the Piper.
  • Mary Frances Zambreno
    • Book 2 of her "Jermyn Graves" dyad is Journeyman Wizard.
  • Markus Zusak
    • I think I have The Book Thief somewhere on my shelf. Unless someone has stolen it.
* the abnormal fear of hummingbirds

S is for "Sooner or Later..."

More series of books I am trying to keep up with, brought to you by (authors whose last names begin with) the letter S....
  • E. Rose Sabin
    • Book 3 of her "Arucadi" quartet is When the Beast Ravens. I might already own a copy.
  • Louis Sachar
    • Somehow I missed the middle book of the "Holes" trilogy, Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake. Though I'm not sure whether this is really another novel or just a supplement to the first book and the movie based on it.
  • Angie Sage
    • I am up to book 6 of the 7-book "Septimus Heap" series: Darke.
  • Michael Scott
    • The Magician is book 2 of the 6-book "Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel."
  • Walter Scott
    • I have several of his books on my Kindle, and have already dipped a toe or two into Rob Roy. The length of Scott's historically informative preface is a bit off-putting, however. It's never good when a book puts you to sleep before it even begins.
  • Tor Seidler
    • I have a couple of his books on my shelf, including Brothers Below Zero.
  • Darren Shan
    • Book 4 of his 12-book "Saga of Darren Shan" is The Vampire Mountain.
  • Delia Sherman
    • I think The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen may be a sequel to Changeling.
  • Mike Shevdon
    • Book 3 of his "Courts of the Feyre" quartet is Strangeness and Charm.
  • Polly Shulman
    • Book 2 of her "Grimm Legacy" series is The Wells Bequest.
  • Neal Shüsterman
    • His third "Antsy Bonano" novel is Ship Out of Luck.
  • Alan Silberberg
    • His second "Milo" book is Milo and the Restart Button.
  • Matthew Skelton
    • His second novel, following Endymion Spring, is titled The Story of Cirrus Flux.
  • Obert Skye
    • I already own a copy of Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want, book 3 of his "Leven Thumps" quintet.
    • Ambush is book 3 of his "Pillage" trilogy.
  • Sherwood Smith
    • I have on my shelf the last 2 books of her "Inda" quartet. Next up: The King's Shield.
  • Lemony Snicket
    • I am tempted to look into his "All the Wrong Questions" series, starting with What Could That Be at This Hour?
  • Alan Snow
    • I am confused about which of his "Here Be Monsters" books I have read. His website is fascinatingly weird but unhelpful. According to Wiki, the book I reviewed as "Here Be Monsters," a.k.a. "Ratbridge Chronicles Vol. 1," is the equivalent of the first three books in the "Here Be Monsters" series listed on the author's website. So I guess that means the next book on deck for me is Worse Things Happen at Sea (book 4 of 7). And this also means I'm going to have to update my existing review.
  • Zilpha Keatley Snyder
    • The Gypsy Game (which is already on my shelf) is the sequel to The Egypt Game.
    • The Headless Cupid turns out to be only the first book of the "Stanley Family" quartet. Next up: The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case.
    • I also have The Witches of Worm on my shelf, and I am open to looking at many other titles by this prolific author.
  • Elizabeth George Speare
    • I have a bookmark someway into The Bronze Bow.
    • Nor have I forgotten that one of my Facebook friends listed Calico Captive as one of the few "perfect novels."
  • Caroline Stevermer
    • I would interested in trying any of her titles that I haven't already reviewed, including those co-authored by Patricia C. Wrede.
  • Mary Stewart
    • I have at least one or two of her "Merlin/Arthur" series on tap. Next up: The Hollow Hills.
  • Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
    • Book 4 of their 10-book "Edge Chronicles" is The Curse of the Gloamglozer.
  • Trenton Lee Stewart
    • Book 3 of "The Mysterious Benedict Society" is The Prisoner's Dilemma.
  • Jonathan Stroud
    • The Golem's Eye, which I have on my shelf, is book 2 of the "Bartimaeus" trilogy, or rather quartet (yay, more updates!).
    • I also have on my shelf The Last Siege and Heroes of the Valley by the same author.
  • Gillian Summers
    • Book 3 of this two-woman writing team's "Faire Folk Trilogy" is The Secret of the Dread Forest.
  • Shanna Swendson
    • Book 2 of the "Katie Chandler" sextet (cough) is Once Upon Stilettos.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

P is for "Pending"

The list of series of books I plan to continue reading goes on...
  • Christopher Paolini
    • Book 3 of his "Inheritance" quartet is Brisingr.
  • Gary Paulsen
    • Book 2 of his "Brian Robeson" quintet is The River, a.k.a. The Return.
    • I also have a book of his titled The Transall Saga.
  • Mervyn Peake
    • Gormenghast, book 2 of the series by the same name, is already on my shelf.
  • Dale Peck
    • The Lost Cities is book 2 of his "Drift House" trilogy.
  • Richard Peck
    • A Season of Gifts is book 3 of his "Grandma Dowdel" trilogy.
    • I think I also have his book The Teacher's Funeral on my shelf.
  • Tamora Pierce
    • Wolf Speaker is book 2 of her "Immortals" quartet.
    • My Book Trolley readers have very persistently asked me to read more of this author's titles.
  • Christopher Pike
    • The Shaktra is book 2 of the "Alosha" trilogy.
  • Daniel Manus Pinkwater
    • I would welcome any of his books, and I may have some of them on my "to-read" shelf already.
  • Dudley Pope
    • Somehow I seem to have missed Ramage and the Dido, the 18th and final "Ramage" novel.
    • I may be interested in reading some of his other fiction and non-fiction titles.
  • Ellen Potter
    • I think I have the next book in her "Olivia Kidney" series, book 3: Olivia Kidney and the Secret Beneath the City.
    • I see a few other titles by her that may interest me.
  • Terry Pratchett
    • I think I have The Last Hero somewhere at home, but I haven't yet picked up I Shall Wear Midnight. These titles should bring me up to date on the Discworld series... so far.
  • Philip Pullman
    • Book 2 of the "Sally Lockhart" quartet is The Shadow in the North. I believe I have this, and the rest of the series as well, on my "to-read" shelf.
  • Howard Pyle
    • I have at least a few of this important author-illustrator's books on my "to-read" shelf, including his Book of Pirates and at least part of his "Round Table" cycle.
  • Robert Rankin
    • There are so many titles by this author that I am tempted to try, though I suspect there is something perverse in the attraction.
  • Arthur Ransome
    • Book 3 of his 12-book "Swallows and Amazons" series is Peter Duck.
  • Douglas Reeman
    • Book 3 of his "Blackwoods / Royal Marines" quintet is The Horizon.
    • Many of his other titles appeal to me. And that's besides the stuff he writes under the pen name Alexander Kent (discussed in a previous installment).
  • Dietlof Reiche
    • Book 3 of his "Golden Hamster" quintet is The Haunting of Freddy, which I may already have on my shelf.
  • Michael Reisman
    • Book 2 of his (so-far) 3-book "Simon Bloom" series is The Octopus Effect.
  • Adam Rex
    • I am interested in at least one of his titles, Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story.
  • Rick Riordan
    • Book 2 of the "Kane Chronicles" trilogy is The Throne of Fire.
    • Book 2 of the "Heroes of Olympus" quartet is The Son of Neptune.
  • John H. Ritter
    • The Desperado Who Stole Baseball seems to be a prequel to The Boy Who Saved Baseball.
    • Among his other baseball-themed books, I have at least two on my "to-read" shelf: Choosing Up Sides and Over the Wall.
  • J. K. Rowling
    • My bad! I'm Mr. "If you like J. K. Rowling, you may also like..." and yet I haven't read her latest novel, The Casual Vacancy. If I spot the audio-book at the county library, I may check it out.
  • Laura Ruby
    • I have a copy of her book The Wall and the Wing, which seems to be the beginning of a series.
  • Marie Rutkoski
    • Book 2 of her "Kronos Chronicles" trilogy is The Celestial Globe.
...and on...

Monday, February 25, 2013

N is for "Next Up..."

More series of books I am in the midst of following...
  • Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    • Shiloh turns out to be the first book of a trilogy. Next up: Shiloh Season.
    • Even more interesting to me, this author also wrote a six-book "Witch" series, beginning with Witch's Sister.
  • Henry H. Neff
    • There are now four books in the "Tapestry" cycle. Next up (and on my shelf) is Book 2: The Second Siege
  • E. Nesbit
    • I have still to read several of her books, including the companion novels The House of Arden and Harding's Luck. I have at least the latter on my shelf.
  • Jenny Nimmo
    • Of the 8-book "Children of the Red King" series, book 7 is on my shelf: Charlie Bone and the Shadow.
    • There also seems to be a spinoff series called "Chronicles of the Red King," beginning with The Secret Kingdom.
  • Garth Nix
    • Of the 7-book "Keys to the Kingdom" series, I have book 6 on deck: Superior Saturday.
    • It appears he has also added book 4 to his "Old Kingdom" series: The Creature in the Case.
    • I would be interested in looking into his other titles too, including the "Seventh Tower" series, which I have completely missed.
  • Mary Norton
    • I am interested in her standalone novel Are All the Giants Dead?
  • Patrick O'Brian
    • I have read all of the Aubreyiad except his unfinished Twenty-One.
    • Among his other titles, however, I already have a few on tap: The Golden Ocean, The Unknown Shore, and perhaps one or two more.
  • Scott O'Dell
    • Zia is a sequel to Island of the Blue Dolphins.
  • Nick O'Donohoe
    • The Healing of Crossroads, book 3 of his "Crossroads" trilogy, is on my shelf.
    • I might also interest myself in his "Gnomewrench" series.
  • Kenneth Oppel
    • I seem to have missed book 4 of his "Silverwing" series, Darkwing.
    • I do have on my shelf book 3 of his "Matt Cruse" series, Starclimber.
  • Pat O'Shea
    • Of this author's three books, I have yet to read The Magic Bottle.
  • James A. Owens
    • Of his 7-book "Imaginarium Geographica," I am up to book 2: The Search for the Red Dragon.
  • Panama Oxridge
    • I haven't read Thyme Running Out, the sequel to Justin Thyme.
...tune in later for even more!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

M is for "More"

More series of books that I am following...
  • D. J. MacHale
    • Book 7 of his 10-book "Pendragon" cycle is The Quillan Games. I have this, and I believe the next couple of books after it, on my "to-read" shelf.
  • Patricia MacLachlan
    • It turns out Sarah, Plain and Tall is only the first book of a 5-book series. Next up: Skylark.
  • Gregory Maguire
    • I believe I have at least one or two of his adultifications of fairy tales, such as Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.
  • Marianne Malone
    • Book 2 of her "Sixty-Eight Rooms" trilogy is Stealing Magic.
  • Melissa Marr
    • Book 2 of her "Wicked Lovely" series (which has either 5, or 7, or maybe 10 books, depending on how you slice it) is Ink Exchange. I think I might own a copy of it already.
  • Amanda Marrone
    • Book 2 of her "Magic Repair Shop" trilogy is The Shape Shifter's Curse.
  • George R. R. Martin
    • I started to read Game of Thrones a while ago, but my interest faltered when I perceived early signs of this author's penchant for wasting character development on people he is about to kill off. I couldn't figure out how, at the rate they were dropping, anyone from the beginning of the book was going to be left at the end. But I owe it to my book column's readers to soldier on.
  • A. Lee Martinez
    • I am interested in pretty much everything this guy has written.
  • Geraldine McCaughrean
    • I might look into her retellings for children of Greek and Roman myths.
  • Patricia McKillip
    • I would happily try anything by this author.
  • Robin McKinley
    • I have Dragonhaven on my "to-read" shelf.
  • Adrian McKinty
    • Book 2 of his "Lighthouse" trilogy, The Lighthouse War, is on my "to-read" shelf.
  • Scott Mebus
    • Book 3 of his "Gods of Manhattan" trilogy is The Sorcerer's Secret.
  • O. R. Melling
    • I have book 2 of her 4 "Chronicles of Faerie," titled The Summer King.
  • Stephenie Meyer
    • I have not yet read book 4, Breaking Dawn, of her "Twilight" series.
  • Livi Michael
  • China Miéville
    • His list of works also offers a lot of worlds I am keen to explore.
  • Michael Molloy
    • I have his book The House on Falling Star Hill on my shelf.
  • L. M. Montgomery
    • I am missing book 5, Anne's House of Dreams, from her 8-book "Anne Shirley" series.
  • John Morressy
    • Book 2 of his "Kedrigern Chronicles" is Dudgeon and Dragons.
    • I am also interested in his "Starbrat" series.
  • Gerald Morris
    • Book 4 of his 10 "Squire's Tales" is Parsifal's Page. Unfortunately, the next book in the series I have been able to obtain so far is somewhat farther down the list.
    • I should also get into his "Knights' Tales" quartet.
  • Christine Morton-Shaw
    • I might look into her spooky-looking novel The Hunt for the Seventh.
  • Brandon Mull
    • I have The Keys to the Demon Prison, Book 5 of his "Fablehaven" series, on my shelf.
    • I also want to read Arcade Catastrophe, a sequel to The Candy Shop War.
    • Plus, I have yet to even begin reading his "Beyonders" trilogy.
  • Matt Myklusch
    • Book 2 of his "Jack Blank" trilogy is The Secret War.
Tune in next time for a continuation of this list, brought to you by the letter N!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

And On...

The roll of series of books that I am trying to follow continues...
  • R. L. LaFevers
    • I'm up to book 3 of the now 4-book "Theodosia" series: Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus.
    • I also want to try out her "Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist" series, starting with The Flight of the Phoenix (not to be confused with the same-named novel by Elleston Trevor, on which were based the great film starring James Stewart and a not-so-great one starring Dennis Quaid).
  • Selma Lagerlöf 
    • I already have The Further Adventures of Nils on my shelf.
  • A. J. Lake
    • Book 2 of the "Darkest Age" trilogy is The Book of the Sword.
  • Katherine Langrish
    • Book 3 of her "Troll" trilogy is Troll Blood.
  • Justine Larbalestier
    • I already have Magic's Child, book 3 of her "Magic or Madness" trilogy.
  • Stieg Larsson
    • I have The Girl Who Played with Fire, book 2 of his "Millennium" trilogy.
  • Ingrid Law
    • I look forward to Scumble, book 2 of her "Beaumont Family" series.
  • Michael Lawrence
    • I already own The Underwood See, book 3 of the "Aldous Lexicon" trilogy.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
    • I have on my shelf Tehanu, book 4 of her "Earthsea" quintet.
  • Jason Lethcoe
    • Book 2 of his "Ben Piff" quartet is Wishful Thinking.
    • I am also interested in trying out his "Mr. Spines" series, starting with Wings, and maybe also his juvenile sleuth series starting with No Place Like Holmes.
  • Gail Carson Levine
    • If I can get over the awfulness of the movie that was adapted from her book Ella Enchanted, I might continue her "Enchanted" quartet with Book 3, Fairest.
  • C. S. Lewis
    • Eight years ago, I was in the middle of reading That Hideous Strength (book 3 of his "Space Trilogy") when the worst experience of my life happened... and I've never felt like finishing the book. Sooner or later, I'm going to have to do it just so I can be done with it.
  • Robert Liparulo
    • Book 2 of his "Dreamhouse Kings" sextet is Watcher in the Woods.
  • Sam Llewellyn
    • Book 3 of his "Darlings" series is Desperado Darlings.
    • I am also interested in his "Monsters of Lyonesse" series, starting with The Well Between the Worlds.
  • Hugh Lofting
    • I have Doctor Dolittle in the Moon, which is book 8 of his 14-book "Doctor Dolittle" series; but before I read it, I want to catch up on the installments I've missed, starting with book 3: Doctor Dolittle's Post Office.
  • Lois Lowry
    • I have on my shelf book 2 of her "Giver" quartet: Gathering Blue. I think I may also have book 3, Messenger.
    • I also have at least one of her standalone books, Gossamer.
  • David Lubar
    • I have on my shelf at least the first 2 books of his "Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie" series, plus a couple collections of his short stories.
Stand by! There's more to come!

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    Rolling On...

    And the list of series of books that I am following rolls on...
    • Brian Jacques
      • Triss, book 15 of his 22 "Redwall" books, has been on my shelf for years. Now that I know there's an end in sight (alas, because the author passed away in 2011), I might screw up the courage to finish the series.
      • I also have two books of the "Castaways of the Flying Dutchman" trilogy to read. On deck: The Angel's Command.
    • Tove Jansson
      • Oddly enough, I have missed only the first of her 9 canonical "Moomintroll" books: The Moomins and the Great Flood.
    • Catherine Jinks
      • I have a strong desire to read book 3 of her "Genius" trilogy, Genius Wars.
      • I also want to get The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group, which is a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group.
      • How to Catch a Bogle looks like it might be the beginning of an interesting new series.
    • Jane Johnson
      • Dragon's Fire is book 3 of her "Eidolon Chronicles."
    • Diana Wynne Jones
      • There are still a few titles I have not yet read by this late great (who also died in 2011), including a collection of "Chrestomanci" stories titled Mixed Magics.
    • Norton Juster
      • I am interested in seeing The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, though it is not actually a sequel to The Phantom Tollbooth.
    • Karen Karbo
      • I still haven't read Book 3 of the Minerva Clark mysteries, Minerva Clark Gives Up the Ghost.
    • Carol Kendall
      • I have The Firelings on my "to-read" shelf.
    • Alexander Kent
      • I believe the next book I need to read in the "Bolitho" sequence is Command a King's Ship. As this is only about Book 6 out of almost 30 titles, I've got plenty of enjoyment to get out of this series yet!
    • P. B. Kerr
      • The sixth of (so far) 7 "Children of the Lamp" books is titled The Five Fakirs of Faizabad.
    • Kaza Kingsley
      • I have The Search for Truth, book 3 of 5 in her "Erec Rex" series, on my shelf.
    • Matthew Kirby
      • Unrelated to his debut novel The Clockwork Three, but still interesting, is his second title: Icefall. Also, he has a third book coming out later this year, titled The Lost Kingdom.
    • Kristin Kladstrup
      • Her second book, Garden Princess, is set to be released next month.
    • Annette Curtis Klause
      • Of her four books, I have only read one. The next most likely title for me to read (and I may already own a copy) is Blood and Chocolate.
    • E. L. Konigsburg
      • My mission to review all the Newbery Medal winners won't be complete until I read Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth and Me, Elizabeth.
    • Dean Koontz
      • I've never gotten past book 1 of his "Odd Thomas" thrillers, currently 6 books. On deck: Forever Odd.
    • Robert Kroese
      • I have only read the first of his "Mercury" books so far. Next up: Mercury Rises.
      • As a Facebook friend of this author, I hear a lot of interesting news about his other writing projects. The fact that I am so far behind on reading them is thus a daily guilt thing.
    • Allen Kurzweil
      • I am interested in his debut novel, A Case of Curiosities.
    More to come as I keep rolling on...

    Monday, February 18, 2013

    More Than Sufficient Proof...

    The listing (alphabetical by author's last name) of the series of books I am reading continues, starting with the letter D...
    • Anna Dale
      • Not part of a series, per se, but her next novel that I have yet to read is Magical Mischief.
    • Pamela Dean
      • I've finished her "Secret Country" series, but I also have Tam Lin on my "to-read" shelf.
    • Charles de Lint
      • Of the 4-book "Cerin Songweaver" series, I have only read the first book. On deck: And the Rafters Were Ringing.
    • Kate DiCamillo
      • Again, they aren't in a series, strictly speaking; but I have a few of her books on my "to-read" shelf: at least The Tiger Rising and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
    • Charles Dickens
      • I have a bookmark stuck a good way into Our Mutual Friend.
      • I also have unread copies of Barnaby Rudge and Great Expectations lying around.
    • Peter Dickinson
      • One of his books that lives on my "to-read" shelf is the beginning of a 2-book series: The Ropemaker.
    • Tony DiTerlizzi
      • Besides the previously mentioned Spiderwick titles (co-authored with Holly Black), I am interested in his "WondLa" series, beginning with The Search for WondLa.
      • Kenny and the Dragon also looks like it might be neat.
    • Chris d'Lacey
      • I have only read the first 2 books of the "Last Dragon Chronicles," currently weighing in at 7 books. I think I might have Book 3, Fire Star, somewhere.
    • Ann Downer
      • Besides her "Hatching Magic" books (both of which I have read), this author has also produced a "Spellkey" trilogy that I may get into sometime.
    • Diane Duane
      • I think I have both of her "Cat Wizards" books, The Book of Night with Moon and To Visit the Queen. The only reason I haven't read them is that I found the format of the copies I own to be somewhat cumbersome and tiring to the eyes.
      • I am also interested in her novel On Her Majesty's Wizardly Service.
    • Alexandre Dumas
      • Among several titles by Dumas that I have loaded onto my Kindle are the sequels to The Three Musketeers, of which Twenty Years After seems to be my next target.
    • Jeanne DuPrau
      • I have been looking forward to Book 4 of her "Ember" series, titled The Diamond of Darkhold, for quite a while.
    • Sarah Beth Durst
      • This author, whom I once had the honor of interviewing, has written a sequel to her Into the Wild called, ahem, Out of the Wild.
    • Julie Andrews Edwards
      • The author formerly known as actress Julie Andrews has written at least one book that remains on my "to-read" shelf: Mandy.
    • Stephen Elboz
      • I have gotten through all of his "Kit Stixby" series, but some of his stand-alone novels that I have on my "to-read" shelf include Ghostlands and The Prisoner's Apprentice.
    • George Eliot
      • At this writing, I am in the midst of reading Adam Bede.
    • Paul England
      • I also have a bookmark somewhere in the middle of Favorite Operas by German and Russian Composers, the second half of the 2-volume reprint of his Fifty Operas.
    • Steve Englehart
      • I may eventually read the second "Max August" book, The Long Man.
    • Elizabeth Enright
      • Though the "Gone-Away Lake" books are already under my belt, I am committed to reading at least one more book by this author: Thimble Summer.
    • Sam Enthoven
      • I enjoyed The Black Tattoo. Based on that, the covers and titles of his (so far) three subsequent books sharpen my interest. If only reading the incoherent, borderline-illiterate blurbs on their back covers didn't dull it again...
    • Eleanor Estes
      • I still have two or three "Moffats" books to read, starting with The Middle Moffat.
    • John Fardell
      • The Secret of the Black Moon Moth seems to be a sequel to the previous book of his that I have read.
    • Nancy Farmer
      • The Lord of Opium, coming later this year, seems to be a sequel to House of the Scorpion.
      • I have yet to read past Book 1 of the "Sea of Trolls" trilogy. Next up: The Land of the Silver Apples.
    • Jasper Fforde
      • I have missed the latest two "Thursday Next" books, titled One of Our Thursdays Is Missing and The Woman Who Died a Lot.
      • I am also interested in his "Last Dragonslayer" series, which has 2 books so far.
    • Cornelia Funke
      • I believe I have both Inkspell and Inkdeath on my "to-read" shelf—completing the trilogy begun with Inkheart. I liked the first book, but the dreadful movie based on it took the wind out of my sails. I intend to get through the series this year.
    • Jack Gantos
      • I have been sitting on What Would Joey Do? for a while.
    • Neil Gaiman
      • One of my great ambitions is to overcome my aversion to graphic novels at least to such an extent as to enjoy his "Sandman" series.
      • I also have a copy of InterWorld (co-authored with Michael Reaves) on my shelf—the first of a 2-book set.
      • I am not far from having read all of his stand-alone novels. I have only to read Odd and the Frost Giants and The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
    • Jean Craighead George
      • I have only read the first book of her "Julie" trilogy.
      • I am also interested in her "My Side of the Mountain" series—4 books.
    • Adam Gopnik
      • I am interested in his novel The Steps Across the Water—though, again, it isn't part of a series as such.
    • Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams
      • Their "Tunnels" series has six books as of this year; I have only read one. But the next two are on my "to-read" shelf: Deeper and FreeFall.
    • Roger Lancelyn Green
      • Books of his that I have collected but not yet imbibed: A Cavalcade of Dragons, A Cavalcade of Magicians, and (I think) The Luck of Troy.
      • I think I should also try to get hold of The Land of the Lord High Tiger and Tale of Thebes. If I don't already have them somewhere...
    • Lev Grossman
      • I need to continue his "Magician" series with Book 2: The Magician King.
    • Michael Gruber
      • I am interested in starting his "Jimmy Paz" series, beginning with Tropic of Night.
      • I am also considering his novel The Book of Air and Shadows.
    • H. Rider Haggard
      • I have only read the first of at least 14 books in his "Allan Quartermain" series, of which Book 2 is (duh) Allan Quartermain.
      • Also, I have on my "to-read" shelf a copy of She and (co-authored with Andrew Lang) The World's Desire.
    • Shannon Hale
      • Book 4 of her "Books of Bayern" is Forest Born.
      • Book 2 of her "Princess Academy" series is Palace of Stone.
      • Her Book of a Thousand Days is on my "to-read" shelf.
      • I have also been nerving myself up to enter her "Austenland" series, part of a genre of "takeoffs on Pride and Prejudice" that is growing so fast that I'm half scared to get into it.
    • Victoria Hanley
      • I have yet to read The Healer's Keep, a sequel to The Seer and the Sword.
    • Thomas Hardy
      • Books of his that I have short-term plans to read: The Trumpet-Major, The Woodlanders, and Jude the Obscure, at least.
    • Deborah Harkness
      • Shadow of Night is on my short-list of books to read soon.
    • Mette Ivie Harrison
      • I wasn't satisfied with the ending of The Princess and the Hound. This might be remedied by reading the next three books in the series, starting with The Princess and the Bear.
      • Also, I have a copy of Mira, Mirror on my shelf.
    • Paul Haven
      • I am interested in his book The Seven Keys of Balabad.
    • Markus Heitz
      • The War of the Dwarves, the second book of a series translated from German, is on my short-list shelf.
    • Joseph Helgerson
      • Crows and Cards looks like it might be a nifty follow-up to Horns and Wrinkles.
    • Carl Hiaasen
      • Flush is the second book of (so far) 4 in the juvenile series that started with Hoot.
    • Michael Hoeye
      • I am up to Book 3 of the Hermux Tantamoq quartet: No Time Like Show Time.
    • Mary Hoffman
      • I have read only the first 3 of (so far) 6 books in her "Stravaganza" series. Next up: City of Secrets.
    • E. W. Hornung
      • I am currently reading his third collection of Raffles adventures: A Thief in the Night.
    • Anthony Horowitz
      • I have read the first 3 of at least 7 "Diamond Brothers" books. On deck: The French Confection.
      • Of his 9-ish Alex Rider novels, I have read 7. On deck: Crocodile Tears.
      • Somewhere on my bookshelf is Book 1 of his 5-book "Power of Five" series, Raven's Gate.
      • Horowitz has also been tapped to reboot the Sherlock Holmes series. I have already borrowed the audiobook of The House of Silk from the library, though I have been out of touch with the Holmes canon since my early teens. That may mean getting back into Conan Doyle!
    • John Hulme and Michael Wexler
      • Book 3 of their "Seems" series is The Lost Train of Thought.
    • Irene Hunt
      • I could have sworn I had a copy of Across Five Aprils somewhere. I've been digging for it.
    • Eva Ibbotson
      • The trouble with deciding whether to read any more titles by this (recently deceased) author is that many of them were published under multiple titles. Some day I will sort them out and figure out which of her books I have yet to read. But not today.
    • David Ives
      • His novels Scrib and Voss look like they might be a hoot. Or two.
    And the list goes on and on....

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Further Proof

    Further proof of my creds a follower of umpty-ump trilogies, quartets, and ongoing chains of novels...
    • Orson Scott Card
      • I own and eventually plan to read Ender's Shadow, the first book of a companion-series to the series starting with Ender's Game. If I decide to read further in both series, that will mean nine more books!
      • Also, I haven't ruled out reading further in the Alvin Maker series, continuing with Book 2 of at least 6: Red Prophet.
    • Kristin Cashore
      • Book 3 of her "Seven Kingdoms" trilogy is titled Bitterblue.
    • P. W. Catanese
      • Book 3 of the "Books of Umber" is The End of Time.
    • Michael Chabon
      • I would be interested in reading anything he has written.
    • Raymond Chandler
      • I have at least two or three of his Philip Marlowe books on deck, waiting for my next relapse into hardboiled fever. The next one in publication order is Farewell, My Lovely
      • I think I may also own The High Window, The Long Goodbye, and Trouble Is My Business.
    • G. K. Chesterton
      • The next collection of "Father Brown" stories is titled The Wisdom of Father Brown.
      • I might also be interested, sometime, in reading The Napoleon of Notting Hill.
    • Cinda Williams Chima
      • In the "Seven Realms" series, I am up to The Gray Wolf Throne.
      • In the "Heir Chronicles," I look forward the publication of The Enchanter Heir this October.
    • Gennifer Choldenko
      • In "Tales from Alcatraz," the next book in line for me to read is Al Capone Does My Homework.
      • I may also be interested in reading her young-readers' book No Passengers Beyond This Point.
    • Cassandra Clare
      • I have read the first three books of her "Mortal Instruments" series. Of the two further books in this series, the next one for me will be City of Fallen Angels.
      • I haven't read any of her "Infernal Devices" series, but I do have the first book, Clockwork Angel, on my shelf.
    • Susanna Clarke
      • I have on hand the short-story collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu, which includes material supplementary to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
    • David Clement-Davies
      • I believe I own copies of The Sight and The Telling Pool.
    • Andrew Clements
      • Next up in his "Things" series is the title Things That Are.
    • Eoin Colfer
      • I have missed the latest 3 of (so far) 8 "Artemis Fowl" books, beginning with The Time Paradox.
      • I will also be looking for Screwed, his sequel to Plugged. I have already mentioned his Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy reboot, And Another Thing...
      • I might also look into his W.A.R.P. series, starting with The Reluctant Assassin; and, of course, The Wish List.
    • Suzanne Collins
      • She has moved on from her "Underland Chronicles," and now everybody is reading the trilogy starting with The Hunger Games (lately a popular movie). I haven't decided whether I care to jump on that bandwagon yet. Eventually, I will probably have to if I want my MuggleNet readers to take me seriously.
    • Zizou Corder
      • This mother-daughter writing team is done with the "Lionboy" series, but they have put out a couple of books since then that I might look into: Lee Raven, Boy Thief and Halo.
    • Robert Cormier
      • I believe I have a copy of The Chocolate War lying around somewhere.
    • D. M. Cornish
      • I actually own the latter two books of the "Foundling's Tale" trilogy: Lamplighter and Factotum. I believe there's a bookmark planted about a third of the way into the former. I kind of dread reading them, however. They are tough going.
    • Bruce Coville
      • I'm not sure whether I have any catching up to do on the "Magic Shop" series, but this author offers an embarrassment of fun-sounding titles that might be worth checking out if I ever decide to let The Book Trolley swing more in the "middle grades" direction.
    • Cressida Cowell
      • I have missed books 6 through 10 (so far) of the "How to Train Your Dragon" series, beginning with A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons
      • There's also a companion book, How to Train Your Viking, by Toothless the Dragon.
    • Sharon Creech
      • I think I have at least two of her books that I haven't read yet: Ruby Holler and Castle Corona.
    • Alison Croggon
      • She seems to have added a fifth book to her "Pellinor" quartet: The Friendship.
      • I am also interested in some of her other work, including Black Spring—a fantasy-world remake of Wuthering Heights—and Jimmy Wonderspoon, which features a world populated by cats and rats.
    • Kevin Crossley-Holland
      • I already own the third book of his "Arthur" trilogy: King of the Middle March.
      • A list of his titles shows that he specializes in retellings of Nordic and Arthurian legends, an area in which I have some interest.
    • Marianne Curley
      • I have yet to read the conclusion of her "Guardians of Time" trilogy, The Key.
    I've only gotten through three letters of the alphabet (sorting the authors by last name), and by a liberal estimate I've already come within 20 examples of proving my claim that I am hooked on over 100 series of books. By a more scrupulous and conservative accounting, I may have a bit farther to go. If you're in a hurry to see my take on more of these developing series, you can help me achieve that goal by donating "to support Robbie's book habit" via the PayPal button in the gadget panel to the right.

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

    Three Digits? Really??

    The other day, I posted a review in which I claimed that I am following a hundred or more series. Let's see how accurate my estimate was! Here are the series of books that I am somewhere in the process of reading, anywhere from "The first book is on my shelf and only wants an opening in my reading schedule to fit in" to "I've caught up with the author so far and await further developments." Most of these series, however, are on the status "I'm two or more books behind" and holding, though in some cases I do have the next book or two on my shelf awaiting the opportune time. I had caught up with some of them to the extent of "waiting for the latest book to appear in paperback," but time gets away from me. And now, alphabetically by author's last name:
    • Douglas Adams
      • Well, all right, he's dead. But his "Hitchhiker's Guide" series lives on with the recent publication of And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer.
    • Richard Adams
      • I've been thinking of adding Tales from Watership Down to my repertoire.
    • Joan Aiken
      • I've had The Witch of Clatteringshaws and an omnibus volume of Is (a.k.a. Is Underground) and Cold Shoulder Road on my shelf for years.
      • I also have Arabel's Raven lying about somewhere.
      • According to this list, I've got quite a few conquests to go before I can claim total victory over the works of Joan Aiken.
    • Lloyd Alexander
      • Again, not so much a series as a long-term goal of working my way through his oeuvre.
      • Among these titles, I already own (but have not yet read) The Gawgon and the Boy and The Rope Trick.
    • John David Anderson
      • It isn't actually part of a series, but I would like to read Sidekicked.
    • M. T. Anderson
      • "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation": I still haven't read Volume 2: The Kingdom of the Waves. Maybe I'll check out the audiobook, if the library has it.
      • I am currently three books behind in the "Norumbegan Quartet," which is to say, I've only read the first book. Next up is The Suburb Beyond the Stars. Maybe I'll look for it at Books of Wonder if and when I go to New York this fall.
      • I am also currently three books behind in the "Pals in Peril" series, though I think I might have Book 3: Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware.
    • Isaac Asimov
      • I could probably spend a lifetime reading the books this polymath produced. I would probably settle for Robots and Empire (Book 4 of the "R. Daneel Olivaw" series, which I only lately realized I had missed).
      • I might also try out his "Empire" trilogy, starting with Pebble in the Sky.
    • Steve Augarde
      • Fantastic Fiction informs me that I missed his latest book, The Boy Aviators.
    • Jane Austen
      • Emma and Persuasion are both burning a hole in my bookcase.
    • Avi
      • In the "Tales from Dimwood Forest" series, I already own Poppy's Return, and there's been another book since that one.
      • I learned just now that Crispin: The Cross of Lead has two sequels: At the Edge of the World and The End of Time.
      • This dude is scarily prolific!
    • P. D. Baccalario
      • Book 2 of "The Century Quartet" is Star of Stone, and there are already two more books after it.
    • E. D. Baker
      • I have only read the first 3 of the 7 "Tales of the Frog Princess." On deck: No Place for Magic.
    • Blue Balliett
      • Though not strictly part of a series, she has two new juvenile mysteries that promise to be interesting: The Danger Box and Hold Fast.
    • Jennifer Lynn Barnes
      • If my Y chromosome will allow it, I may take in Fate, the sequel to Tattoo.
      • Seriously, I've never seen a list of books by any author that more loudly screamed "Teen girls only!!!"
    • J. M. Barrie—which is to say, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
      • I haven't even begun to read their unauthorized sequels to Peter Pan. But I do have Peter and the Starcatchers in my personal library. I'd better make haste. There are already four more books after it.
    • T. A. Barron
      • I've missed the last 6 of his 11 "Merlin" novels, starting with The Dragon of Avalon, a.k.a. Merlin's Dragon.
      • It is also a strange fact that I read The Merlin Effect without realizing that it was the third book of a trilogy, beginning with Heartlight and The Ancient One.
    • Dale E. Basye
      • I have missed the latest 4 of (so far) 6 books in his "Heck" series, including Blimpo, Fibbel, Snivel, and Precocia.
    • K. P. Bath
      • In the "Lucy Wickwright, Maidservant and Spy" series, I have read only the first of three books. On deck (and I believe I have a copy somewhere): Escape from Castle Cant.
      • I just found out that this author is a dude. Life is full of surprises.
    • Joan Bauer
      • Turns out Rules of the Road has a sequel, titled Best Foot Forward.
      • This author's other titles also look kinda cute.
    • L. Frank Baum
      • I have several of his books on tap, including Sky Island, The Sea Fairies, and two or three installments in the Oz series that I collected during my last pilgrimage to Books of Wonder but never got around to reading. I guess I'd better get them in my head by Thanksgiving! Otherwise, how will I justify to myself another B.o.W. spending spree?
    • Peter S. Beagle
      • I have a few of his books on deck, including A Fine and Private Place and The Inkeeper's Song.
    • Frank Beddor
      • The latest book in his "Looking Glass Wars" series is titled Arch Enemy.
      • I'm not sure what to make of his "Hatter M" series, co-authored with Liz Cavalier.
    • Hilari Bell
      • I have only read one of her stand-alone books, but I am interested in trying out one of her series, such as "Goblin Wood" (beginning with The Goblin Wood) or "Farsala" (beginning with Flame, a.k.a. Fall of a Kingdom).
    • Ted Bell
      • Obviously, I have to read The Time Pirate, sequel to Nick of Time.
      • I could also get into his "Alexander Hawke" series, so far 8 books, starting with Hawke.
    • John Bellairs
      • I have read all of the Lewis Barnavelt mysteries, but I have yet to crack open the Anthony Monday series and the Johnny Dixon ditto.
      • I do have The Chessmen of Doom, but I am loath to read Book 8 of the Johnny Dixon series before I have read the previous books. Book 1 is The Curse of the Blue Figurine.
    • Jon Berkeley
      • I have yet to get hold of The Lightning Key, book 3 of the Miles Wednesday series.
    • Jim Bernheimer
      • In spite of my tepid review of the first book in his "Dead Eye" series, I'm seriously considering getting hold of Book 2: The Skinwalker Conspiracies.
    • Luc Besson
      • I have, somewhere on my shelf, Arthur and the Forbidden City—the sequel to Arthur and the Minimoys.
    • Jeanne Birdsall
      • The Penderwicks at Point Mouette would be Book 3 of the "Penderwicks" series.
    • Holly Black
      • I have already cracked Ironside, the third "Modern Tale of Faerie."
      • I'm also a couple books behind in the "Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles" co-authored with Tony DiTerlizzi. Books 2 and 3 are A Giant Problem and The Wyrm King.
    • Pseudonymous Bosch
      • I have only read the first of (so far) 5 books in his "Secret" series. Already on my short-list of books to pull off the shelf is Book 2: If You're Reading This, It's Too Late.
    • Frank Cottrell Boyce
      • I'm not sure whether this guy's last two names are supposed to be hyphenated; I've seen it both ways. But I enjoyed his first two books for kids (Millions and Framed), and there are now at least 5 more. Next in line: Cosmic.
    • Libba Bray
      • The "Gemma Doyle" series is another example of a trilogy I started reading with Book 3. Now I have to go back to the beginning and read A Great and Terrible Beauty.
    • Herbie Brennan
      • I thought I had read the last of the "Faerie Wars" series, only now to discover that there is a fifth book to shop for: The Faeman Quest.
    • Carol Ryrie Brink
      • Who knew that Caddie Woodlawn had a sequel? It's only been out since 1939. I reckon I'll eventually pick up Caddie Woodlawn's Family, a.k.a. Magical Melons.
    • Charlotte Brontë
      • Shirley. After which I will consider my mission to explore the works of the Brontë sisters accomplished.
    • Terry Brooks
      • At some point I started reading The Black Unicorn, book 2 of the 6-book Landover series. I don't remember where I put it down. When I find it, I'll finish it and move on from there.
      • I really should try out his Shannara series, too. The first book is The Sword of Shannara.
    • Anne Patrice Brown
      • This self-published author sent me the second book of her "Dumari Chronicles" a few years ago. It really is naughty of me not to have read it yet. But seriously, after this, I am not accepting self-published freebies. Art is too long and life is too short!
    • Michael Buckley
      • I am up to Book 6 (Tales from the Hood) in his "Sisters Grimm" series, currently weighing in at 9 books.
    • Linda Buckley-Artcher
      • I plan to get to Book 3 (Time Quake) of her "Gideon" trilogy in the very near future.
    • Elizabeth C. Bunce
      • I have only read her stand-alone novel A Curse Dark As Gold, but I am interested in trying out her "StarCrossed" series, starting with the book of the same name.
    • Frances Hodgson Burnett
      • I have learned that there is seldom much reward in unearthing the lesser-known works of prolific authors who are now only known for a handful of books. Still, it is probably my solemn duty to endure Little Lord Fauntleroy and one or two other titles by the author of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess.
    • Jim Butcher
      • I just can't keep up with this guy! I am now reading Ghost Story, the 13th book in "The Dresden Files." Book 14, Cold Days, has not yet come out in paperback; plus there are a few companion books to this series to look into.
      • As for "Codex Alera," I've only read three of the six books. Next up: Captain's Fury.
    • Georgia Byng
      • Of the 6 books (so far) in her "Molly Moon" series, I have only read the first 2. I own books 3 and 4, however, and Molly Moon's Hypnotic Time Travel Adventure is high on my list of priorities.
    I think the A's and B's alone go a good way toward demonstrating that I am, in fact, following a three-digit number of series. That's about 50 series right there. All right, the other letters of the alphabet don't all have an equal number of authors under them. But I will have to continue my rigorous proof another time.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    Is THAT how you say...?

    I've been listening to a lot of audio-books lately, many of them narrated by British actors who can speak in an amazing range of dialects—not least of which is the sort of standard stage-English approved for use on the West End stage. After a life spent learning how to pronounce words from my nears and dears, from American TV, and from sound guess-work as I pick up vocabulary in books, I am surprised at how often I've been surprised by the pronunciation of many words I thought I knew how to say. Below are a few examples. I may add to this post as more come to mind.

    Room—I would have thought this four-letter word would be a no-brainer. It's one of those words babies learn from their parents, especially in the context of a shouted "Go to your room!" Everyone I know says it with a long /u/ sound, rhyming it with boom, broom, doom, and gloom. And then come all these British audio-book actors, authoritatively correcting this received error. Evidently, room is supposed to have a short /u/, like the vowel sound in book. We Americans will have to work on that. It won't be easy.

    Shone—Here's another simple, very common word that everyone I know, yours truly included, seems to have gotten wrong. We Yanks have been saying this with a long /o/ sound, rhyming with bone, drone, hone, and Jubilation T. Cornpone. But to a man (or woman), the Brits say it with a short /o/, rhyming with gone. I have to admit, there's sense in this. At least this way, you're less likely to confuse it with shown.

    Quay—This word comes up a lot in the naval fiction I like to read, but its usage is actually much more widespread. While any given group of three or four Americans will probably disagree as to whether it should rhyme with way or why, the British (who, remember, had the language before we did), confidently stride forward and rhyme it with whee. Yes, it sounds just like key. You got a problem with that?

    Figure—This may simply be a consequence of the fact that no language on earth has a sound resembling the American /r/. For what could be more quintessentially American than the spastic tightening of the final syllable of this word, as though it could be spelled "figyerrr." My uninformed guess as to the British pronunciation would have been "figyuh," with an indeterminate schwa sound at the end. Surprisingly, what you actually hear when a Brit says this word is the even more relaxed sounding "figguh," with no unwritten /y/ sound worked into the pattern.

    Incognito—Americans, few of whom learned Latin as children, most likely think of this as two words (with a space after in, and stress on the syllable that sounds like "neat"), taking it to mean "in disguise." Actually it's one word, meaning "unrecognized," and in countries ruled by a monarchy it is still often used in its original sense of a royal personage going about in plain clothes and thus, by an unwritten social law, being treated like any ordinary person rather than someone to be bowed and scraped to. I have heard a least one British reader say it with emphasis on the "cog" syllable. I cannot be certain, on this basis, that it wasn't a slip. But it makes an interesting difference.

    Exquisite—In the U.S., nearly everyone who searches for an adjective to stick in front of "care" or "pain" eventually settles for this one. And so we have all heard the word numerous times, and we're sure it bears the accent on the second syllable. So, when we hear a British audio-book reader put the emphasis on "ex," we do a double-take. That can't be right, can it? Well, this one I've heard from several different readers. That many actors speaking the standard dialect of the cradle of our language can't be wrong, no matter how weird it sounds.

    Live-long—On the other hand, the folk-song "I've Been Working on the Railroad" is one of ours. And when we sing the hyphenated word "live-long," we make the first syllable sound like the verb live, which rhymes with give. So my ears perk up when I hear a British reader say that syllable like the adjective live, which rhymes with alive, chive, dive, drive, hive, jive, and strive. I wonder how he came at the idea that it should be said that way, other than by analogy to the greater number of words ending in "-ive." Actually, that doesn't sound like a bad reason. But has he never heard "I've Been Working on the Railroad"? I think this is one battleground that we Americans own!

    Wednesday—After all the trouble my first-grade teacher took brow-beating me into accepting this as the spelling for "Wendz-day," along come the highly cultured audio-book readers of the works of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, persistently pronouncing it "Wed'nz-day"—if not downright "Wed-ness-day." Well, I never!

    Ate—Way back when I was hooked on phonics, I learned that "silent e" could turn a mat into a mate, a pat into a pate, and fat into fate. And so it was always my assumption—either by analogy to these examples or because everyone I know says it that way, that the past tense of the verb "eat" turned at into ate, rhyming with the number 8. But all my British audiobook readers say it as though "silent e" turned mat into met, pat into pet, and fat into a bounty hunter from that space movie. I always suspect that I'm mistaking a bit of regional dialect for the Queen's English, but that excuse gets harder to believe with each live-long chapter.