Friday, January 18, 2008

A new year on the shelves

I'm cheating a bit today. Ordinarily I would have blogged much sooner about the new year and left my book recommendation for the month to a separate post but as my free time has been consumed by stage managing duties and household chores and work has been hectic with the start of a new semester this will be a two-fer. (And my god but that was a run on sentence! Eh.....cringe away English professors!)

The one saving grace of the month of January is the potential for snow days, and joys of joys we had one yesterday. I spent the day doing what you should do on a snow day: curling up with a good book and a cuddly dog under a blanket and only paying attention to the clock when I was looking for a specific television program. But snow days are a rare thing here and everything is virtually melted now. There are rumors that more winter precipitation will materialize tomorrow but I'm not holding my breath, although I will swing by the store and pick up a few needed items. I don't need to stock up on books as I have an ever growing stack waiting for me as it is.

One of the things I had been looking forward to in January was the publication of the second book in a delightful new series I discovered, but in a cruel and yet delightful twist of fate the book was published in December and I promptly devoured it. I now will have to wait until the end of the year for the third installment (crosses fingers that it will arrive by then). I only hope to find others books on my list to serve as appropriate diversions. What series is this that has inspired such anticipation? The Lady Julie Gray mysteries by Deanna Raybourn.

The first book in the series is Silent in the Grave and it contains what is probably the best opening lines of a book ever. "To say I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor." After reading the book I had to share that line with just about everyone and have thus committed it to memory. The second book in the series, Silent in the Sanctuary was every bit as good as the first, if not better. Set during the 1880's in London the star of the novels is the aforementioned Lady Julia Gray. She is not a professional investigator, nor a super-genius, although she is smart and inquisitive. This allows her to retain an air of believability and makes her much easy to relate to. The mistakes she makes when she is thrust into the world of murder investigation are the mistakes a real person would make, and the frustrations she faces while dealing with the stubborn and dashing Nicholas Brisbane are all too real as well. Both books are filled with witty dialogue, vibrant and interesting characters (both primary and secondary) with nary a whiff of a cipher, well paced plots that never override character development, oodles of details peppered throughout, and final reveals that make you say "oh my god of course!!! How did I not see that?!" I highly recommend both, but you must read them in order or else the mysteries in the first will be spoiled.

It is rare for me to find books for adults that are filled with characters that I would not only like to meet, but also who I would like to be friends with. I dearly wish that I could be friends with Lady Julia and her wonderfully eccentric family, The Marches. Granted, I might encounter some unpleasantness if I was friends with them, but I would never ever be bored.