Posted by: Karen (Betty Bear) | July 5, 2012

Books and bird brain

I’m making no explanation or excuses for not writing for so long. Some of it was busy end of school year, some of it was uninspired-ness, some was inability to get to the computer, but mostly it just didn’t happen. Forgive me. This post is some book reviews. Bird brain I’m leaving until the end of the post to make you read it all (bwa-ha-ha-ha!).

Good ones first: I recently had the chance to read an ARC of Laurie R. King‘s new book Garment of Shadows which comes out on September 4th. I have read everything she has written and loved almost all of them. This is the 11th? in her Mary Russell series which details the ongoing relationship between Sherlock Holmes and his apprentice (at least initially) Mary Russell. They are mysteries, but are so much more than a whodunnit. Laurie is an incredibly talented writer and a remarkable researcher and her talents come together to create books with great depth, wonderfully drawn characters, commentaries on religion, relationships, politics without ever becoming heavy-handed and an astonishing ability to convey place. Garment of Shadows takes place in Morocco in 1924. If you haven’t read this series, start with the first The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, but be warned that it is not a short, easy read and the mystery doesn’t really start until the middle of the book. If you want to read my very favorite of her books, read Folly, about a woman who has gone through hell and back in her life and sets out to rebuild a house on a island in the San Juan islands off the coast of Washington state. It is a stand-alone, although there is another that loosely follows it.

On a much lighter note although still within the mystery genre, I’ve been reading Kerry Greenwood‘s Corrina Chapman series. These are set in the 90’s in Melbourne, Australia and are more or less cozies. Corinna Chapman is a baker who used to be an accountant. She is also a large woman, unashamedly fat (mostly) which is a refreshing change from the perennially thin protagonists usually encountered. There is snark, there is sex although not in any detail, there are recipes, and there are a lot of fun and interesting characters. Corinna lives in an fascinating apartment building which also houses a witch, a cross-dressing dominatrix, a retired professor, a gardener and a few more assorted individuals. There are six in the series so far; the first is Earthly Delights. I have read a few of these before as my library has a couple of them, but they along with Greenwood’s other series – Phryne Fisher – have just become available for Kindle. So I’ve been happily clicking the buy button and reading.

Another book I read recently was a severe disappointment, Sharon Shinn‘s new book, The Shape of Desire. I’ve enjoyed many of Sharon Shinn’s books which fall into the fantasy genre with a strong leaning toward romance. Many, if not most, of her protagonists are strong, vibrant, interesting women, but the protagonist in The Shape of Desire, Maria, is bland to the point of invisibility. The story follows her love of Dante, a shape-shifter, who abandons Maria every time he shifts into animal form. She then spends her time longing desperately for Dante to return. Over and over and over and over. The relationship borders on emotionally abusive; the plot takes forever to get going; the characters have little depth. I was very glad I had only gotten this from the library as it would have irritated me immensely to have spent real money on it.

Here is bird brain: who spent about two weeks this year trying to kill his reflection in our living room window. I suppose he is learning since last summer, if it was the same bird, he spent close to a month doing the same thing and when we finally put up some netting over the window he went and beat himself against the side view mirrors on my car leaving them streaked and decorated with bits of down for weeks.



  1. I love the Mary Russell books too, but my goodness, Folly is my favorite of hers!!!! I’ve recommended it to people but so far no one has taken me up on it. I think it’s phenomenal! I love the part where she’s flicking her pills into the water, one at a time. Part of me thinks “Oh, the poor fish are going to become medicated”, but the rest of me completely understands, identifies with, and simply loves that scene.

    • Squeeee!! Isn’t Folly awesome!! Want to meet me in Phoenix on September 4th for the launch party for Garment of Shadows?

  2. And I’m sorry the Sharon Shinn book was a disappointment. I love so many of her books.

    • I know. It really depressed me. Don’t you love Mystic and Rider?

  3. I’m also a Shinn fan, but haven’t read any of the recent ones. I think I might have Mystic and Rider on my Kindle, I have to bump it up to the top of the list. πŸ™‚ You’ve mentioned Laurie King before, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading any of them! I will soon. Thanks for the reviews, I’m always looking for recommendations.

  4. Hey, that’s my birthday!

    Oh right, you talked about books. Books I NEED to be reading!!!

    I can’t even being to discuss that bird. πŸ˜•

    (No excuses, I love that. I stopped apologizing ages ago. Good for you. And, we missed you.)

    • September 4? *scurrying off to write it in my calendar* I’ll be in Scottdale, AZ at the launch party if you want to join me!!

  5. And now I must check out Laurie R. King …

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