Real Murders – Charlaine Harris

Aurora Teagarden is a librarian in an Atlanta suburb that may be near the city, but is still a small town. She also happens to be a member of the Real Murders club, which gets together to discuss famous murders. It seems like a harmless pastime until Roe one day arrives early at the monthly meeting, and finds one of the other members dead, in the same way that the murder they planned to discuss that night was carried out.

My previous experience with Harris’ work is the Sookie Stackhouse novels, so I’ll admit it was initially a bit weird to be reading a book of hers without a trace of paranormal influence, and it actually took me a little while to warm to the story. I don’t think that was necessarily the lack of fantasy elements, just a slow start in general that caused that.

I didn’t really get into the story until the body count started to mount, and I had no clue who the murderer was. Granted, I don’t read a lot of straight mysteries anymore, so my deductive skills might be a little rusty, but I must now own up to only figuring out the identity of the killer at the very last minute before the big reveal. The story might have started out slow, but I was definitely satisfied with the ending.


Merlin’s Harp – Anne Eliot Crompton

Read for the Once Upon a Time IV Reading Challenge.

Niviene is of the Fey, and unlike most of those mysterious people, lives with her family: her mother Nimway, the Lady of the Lake, and her brother Lugh, on the magical island of Avalon. The mage Merlin is a frequent visitor to the island, where he plays his harp for them, and tells them tales of the human world.

There is one other resident of the island, Mellias, and when he kidnaps the human queen Gwenevere, it changes the life of everyone on the island forever. Lugh is eventually charged with bringing Gwenevere back to her husband, where he remains, and becomes the great knight Lancelot. Niviene eventually also journeys to the outside world to help Merlin defend the king with magic, and her interactions with King Arthur prove fateful.

My copy of the book (an older copy I bought used – they’ve since repackaged it with a glossy modern style Twilight-esque cover) blurbs that this book is like The Mists of Avalon, and seeing that, I suspect I came to this book with higher expectations than I should have. The Mists of Avalon was a seminal book in my younger reading career – one of the books I could not put down until it was done, and the one that led me to read other books about King Arthur. This book does not hold a candle to TMOA. It’s an interesting twist on the Lady of the Lake story, and the language is lovely, but it skips over such large parts of the Arthur-mythos is comes out in the end as a bit hurried and disjointed. However, I do realize that I’m coming to his book after having read quite a bit of Arthuriana, so I wonder if that has jaded my views a bit. I’m certainly not sorry to have read this book, but it ultimately left me wanting more.

Knitting Notes

Mystery Sock #1 is done! I don’t think I can add much more to what I’ve already said about how much I’m enjoying this sock, so I’ll leave it at that.

I’ve started the second Lilac Sock next. I figure I’ll at least get myself through the ribbing before I start on Mystery Sock #2. The Lilac Sock ribbing is a bit tedious, so I want to get through that before I have another sock to distract me.

Castle in the Air – Diana Wynne Jones

Read for the YA 2010 and Once Upon a Time IV Reading Challenges.

Abdullah is a carpet merchant in the Zanzib bazaar, leading a fairly humble life, until the day a stranger sells him a magic carpet. It’s a rather threadbare, unattractive carpet, but it transports him to a beautiful garden where he meets the lovely Flower-in-the-Night, the girl of his dreams. When she’s kidnapped by a djinn, Abdullah sets out to rescue her.

The main part of this story is the classic tale of a djinn stealing princesses, but the book is a companion to Howl’s Moving Castle, so you know that Howl, Sophie and crew will show up at some point. I definitely enjoyed seeing those characters again, and it was nice to see some completely different people thrown into the mix. Abdullah is a fun hero, and his adventures in the desert outside Zanzib, as well as in Ingary, manage to be somewhat unexpected. I thought I knew what would happen because the main story is familiar to me, but the author definitely twisted things around by bringing the Ingary folks into the tale. Definitely a fun read, and a quick one too.

Knitting Notes

Lilac Sock #1 is done!

I have to say, this pattern looks a lot better once it’s complete. There’s something about having it on a foot that gives it a little something extra. It’s a very simple pattern, and goes pretty quickly. Well, would probably have gone pretty quickly had I not been focusing more on the other socks I was making. This Knit Picks yarn has nothing on Tess’ yarn. Still, it’s a good solid sock, and just the right color for my regular socky wardrobe.

The Convenient Marriage – Georgette Heyer

Read for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

When the Earl of Rule decides to marry, his sister suggests the lovely Lizzie Winwood. Lizzie agrees to the match, but is in love with another, a penniless officer. So Lizzie’s youngest sister Horatia comes up with a plan – she will marry the Earl, and let Lizzie marry her officer. The Winwoods are horrified by her forwardness, but the Earl is instantly intrigued, and agrees to the match.

I don’t know how I haven’t managed to read any Georgette Heyer books before. This book is a hoot. It’s set in Georgian England, with loving attention to period detail. The plot is as simple as it comes – marriage of convenience turns into a love match, but it’s a fun ride through this familiar tale, especially since Horry is not your typical naive young thing – she’s a bit of a gambling addict, and gets herself into scrapes a bit more willingly than your typical heroine. The Earl of Rule is the perfect hero, and totally plays to type against Horry.

This is a great story. I’m not normally a romance reader, but I’ll definitely make an exception for any of Heyer’s works.

Knitting Notes

As counter to the Cabled Swing Cardi debacle, I turned to clue #3 of the March Sockdown Mystery sock. I’m really enjoying this pattern. It reminds me of leaves, but it’s kept changing down the length of the sock, and definitely stayed interesting. I’m really looking forward to the final clue on Monday.

I’m also loving the Tess’ yarn I’m using. I’ve put myself on a bit of a yarn diet lately, but if I find myself in town, and her shop is actually open, I think I’m going to have to buy some more of this yarn. It’s a joy to work with.

Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge IV 3/21/10-6/20/10

It’s Spring again, so it’s time for the fourth Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge.

Once again, I’ll be doing Quest the First, which is to read five books in the following categories: Fantasy, Folklore, Fairy Tale and Mythology. Unlike past years, I’m not going to preplan a reading list. I’ve got a ton of books to choose from in the TBR pile, and there’s always Booksfree roulette, so I’m just going to see what the season brings me. It should be fun.

Knitting Notes

The Cabled Swing Cardi doesn’t fit. Bleh.

It’s too long, and too large in the shoulders. I’m not sure if I have the necessary skills to modify the pattern enough to make it fit me. So it’s sitting in my basket for the moment while I debate how much frogging will be going on.

I’m so disappointed. I just don’t have good luck with sweaters. Though, this does fit with my typical luck with clothing in general, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Damn my short torso and long arms!