Mr Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

I had a great deal of fun with Mr. Darcy, Vampyre , from the very moment I read the title and couldn’t stop thinking, “Mr. Darcy, Slayer of the VamPYRES.” Darcy is not a slayer, just a regular old Victorian vampire who manages to hide his condition from all but his closest friends by appearing prideful, brooding, and generally like the Darcy we see in Pride and Prejudice.

The story picks up on Elizabeth’s wedding day and follows the new Mrs. Darcy through her wedding tour through Bram Stoker’s geography as she meets more and more bizarre people from the greater Darcy clan. Darcy himself acts even more secretive, tortured, and brooding than before they were married, baffling Elizabeth, who has to navigate her way through married life with an absence of mirrors and an abundance of creepy portents.  She writes letters to Jane which may or may not ever get delivered.

Darcy is a classic literature character primed for vampire-dom, already dark and mysterious and enticing. How could Elizabeth tell the difference between reluctant romantic hero and vamPYRE? This book is much more enjoyable than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which tended more toward the preposterous. And vampires are always cooler than zombies.

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Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Still have pie leftovers packing your fridge, or wishing you still did?   Check out this appropriately titled new mystery by Alan Bradley, and get a taste of Flavia De Luce’s fantastically strong storytelling voice. She’s an eleven-year old chemist with an unusual family and a penchant for poisons. You’ll love her dramatic presentation of her world.

Language of Bees by Laurie R. King

It took me a month to finish the eighth book in Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series, not because the story was anything less than captivating, but because I didn’t want it to end. I read the Mary Russell series books two ways – dragging them out like this by reading half a chapter every night, or devouring them whole in a weekend (or one extremely late night.)

The Language of Bees comes barely the time it takes to travel after the events of Locked Rooms, where mysteries about Russell”s mind were tangled up with the plot in California, and we were gifted with whole chapters from Holmes’  point of view.  Russell is feeling the strain of the previous trip, but also the inevitable let-down that both she and Holmes suffer at the end of a case, no matter how good it is to be home. They need not worry about being bored for long, though, because they return to find Holmes’ son waiting for them at the house.

This mystery takes us through Bohemia, up into airplanes, through secret passages in Mycroft’s home and into a fascinatingly creepy upstart religious group. Damian, an artist who perhaps walks the thin line between genius and madness, is both like and unlike Holmes, is convincingly written as both a sympathetic figure and a suspect.

The end comes with more loose threads than I wanted, but the implication seems to be that the next book picks up where this one left off.  I can’t wait to see what sort of character Holmes’ granddaughter will turn out to be.  The God Of The Hive will be published June 2010.

For fun (and book updates), you can follow Mary Russell on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mary_russell

The Mounties’ darkest secret

No, this isn’t about Due South. (I wish!) This is a link to Slate‘s hilarious Dan Brown Interactive Sequel Generator because we all know The Lost Symbol is going to be a fast (and formulaic!) read.

September means

We’re all back from our summer vacations, with the exception of Dea, who up and moved to Santa Barbara, where she is enjoying things like avocado blossom honey and working with data and its integrity somewhere in a building made of terra cotta and surrounded by palm trees. We miss her already!

You’re probably not ready for books about full-fledged autumn yet, though I did seriously consider a reading list of books on how to cook pumpkins. Instead, I thought I’d go with a more transitional booklist, and give you some suggestions of books that reinvent something old, with a twist. (I promise, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn’t on this list, though, I’m pretty sure I’m obligated to talk about New Moon: The Movie eventually.)

The Penelopiad by Margaret AtwoodThe Odyssey, told from Penelope’s point of view, in Atwood’s trademark, pithy style.
Specimen Days by Michael CunninghamWalt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is the leitmotif for this novel about past, present, and future New York City, with a bonus ghostly Whitman appearance.

Drood by Dan Simmons

This novel explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author’s last years and may provide the key to Dickens’s final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Blindspot: by a Gentleman in Exile and a Lady in Disguise by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore

“Tis a small canvas, this Boston,” muses Stewart Jameson, a Scottish portrait painter who, having fled his debtors in Edinburgh, has washed up on America’s far shores. Eager to begin anew in this new world, he advertises for an apprentice, but the lad who comes knocking is no lad at all. Fanny Easton is a lady in disguise, a young, fallen woman from Boston’s most prominent family. “I must make this Jameson see my artist’s touch, but not my woman’s form,” Fanny writes, in a letter to her best friend. “I would turn my talent into capital, and that capital into liberty.” Liberty is what everyone’s seeking in boisterous, rebellious Boston on the eve of the American Revolution.

Blindspot kept me up reading late last night. Jameson and Fanny are fabulously written characters, and getting lost in the world of pre-Revolution Boston is a great reason to sacrifice sleep.

New Items: Boys & Girls

There were more than the usual number of new books this month, so selecting just a few books for this post was tough. Next time you come in to the library, make sure you take a look at the new books section, or check out the lists of new materials online!

Boys

Brothers by Yu Hua

From PW: “…two boys weather the changes of the Cultural Revolution, reform and globalization, and Yu’s unflinching narrative, by turns tragic and hilarious, shows ordinary lives being broken down and built up again.”

Lowboy by John Wray

From PW: “The story centers on Will Heller, a 16-year-old New Yorker who has stopped taking his antipsychotic medication and wandered away from the mental hospital into the subway tunnels believing that the world will end within a few hours and that only he can save it.”

Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker

From PW: “Policing in Chief Bruno CourrEges’s sun-dappled patch of Perigord involves protecting local fromages from E.U. hygiene inspectors, orchestrating village parades and enjoying the obligatory leisurely lunch-that is, until the brutal murder of an elderly Algerian immigrant…”

Girls

Supergirls Speak Out by Liz Funk

From PW:First-time author Funk defines the term “supergirl” as an over-achieving young woman with a compulsive need to be the best in all areas: school, extra-curricular activities, social networking and, of course, physical appearance.”

A Proper Education for Girls by Elaine di Rollo

From PW: “…set in 1850s England and colonial India, tells the story of twin sisters Alice and Lilian Talbot, who were born into an aristocratic but eccentric English family and raised by their widowed father among his collected curiosities and creepy acquaintances.”

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

From PW: “Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing “about what disturbs you.” The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies–and mistrusts–enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who’s raised 17 children, and Aibileen’s best friend Minny, who’s found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers.”

Boys & Girls

Mr. and Miss Anonymous by Fern Michaels

From PW: “Peter Kelly and Lily Madison regret choices they made in 1986 as impoverished college students when they first met outside a sperm bank and its adjacent fertility clinic. Years later, Pete’s a software mogul and Lily’s a successful clothing designer, and they happen across one another at an airport, where they see a news broadcast about a massacre at the California Academy of Higher Learning. Featured on the report is Josh, a survivor and dead ringer for Pete.”

Why Him? Why Her? by Helen Fisher

Helen Fisher, conducting research through Chemistry.com, and take into account philosophies from Jung, Keirsey and more, has written a book that aims to deconstruct who you like (or love), and why, based on your personality type.

-Dea

From Book to TV: Witches of Eastwick

EW_paulgrossYou may have heard that ABC is airing a new show in Fall called Eastwick, about 3 women in a small New England town who discover that they have strange new powers. There’s also a hot new addition to the local populace in the form of Paul Gross. But in case you didn’t know, or didn’t realize, this new show is based on the book The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike.witchesofeastwick

I haven’t read the book, or seen the 1987 movie that was also based on it.  But I’m probably going to watch the show, if only because I love Paul Gross – even if he’s playing bad boy Darryl Can Horne, instead of a mountie… Let’s see how well this novel translates to the year 2009.

-Dea