Books, books, lovely books. * denotes new-to-me books.
22. Discount Armageddon,* by Seanan McGuire. First of the Incryptid stories, quite entertaining.
23. Ghost Hawk,* by Susan Cooper. A heartbreaking book about Native American genocide, told through the overlapping stories of a 1600s Pokanoket youth and the son of an English settler. Beautifully written, as one might expect from this author, and goes lightly enough over the ground that I read it all in one sitting. Should be required reading in middle school.
24. Crazy People,* by Jennifer Crusie. Story collection that grew into the novel "Crazy for You." At least one of these contains a character I would like to see a whole book about.
25. Anyone But You, by Jennifer Crusie.
26. The Jungle Books Vol. I, by Rudyard Kipling. Mowgli stories, just wonderful. From "Kaa's Hunting":
"If you can imagine a lance, or a battering ram, or a hammer weighing nearly half a ton driven by a cool, quiet mind living in the handle of it, you can roughly imagine what Kaa was like when he fought."
27. Celebrity in Death, by J.D. Robb. I really like this one; lots of actual investigation and procedure, good character stuff, no gruesome serial-killer POV, humor + romance + some glamour.
28. The Jungle Books Vol. II, by Rudyard Kipling. These stories are very much a product of their time (1895) but eminently readable still. High points in this volume, "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat" and "Toomai of the Elephants."
29. Broken Homes,* by Ben Aaronovitch. Third in the Rivers of London series, which is getting better all the time.
30. Concealed in Death,* by J.D. Robb. Another good entry in the series; plenty of mystery to be solved and no messing about. :-)
31. The Great Train Robbery,* by Michael Crichton. Highly entertaining, based on a true story. Very well-paced, delivered in short chapters combining Victorian history and narrative about the crime (derived from trial testimony and contemporary journalism). One can't entirely regret that the villain got away with it.
32. The Arsenic Labyrinth,* by Martin Edwards. Third in the Lake District Mysteries, and the end of the line for me. The structure of this one was actively annoying, and the gelid "romance" that he's been teasing since book 1 is - despite taking up a good 30% of this and previous books - going nowhere.
32.5 one-third of The Secret Financial Life of Food,* by Kara Newman. That was enough, for me, about commodities markets.
33. The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain,* by Lloyd Alexander. Antidote to commodities markets.
34. Treachery in Death, by J.D. Robb. Obviously I was feeling retributive. This is one of the very strongest series entries, about a ring of corrupt cops.
35. Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie. I seem to read this about once every 10 months.
36. The Illyrian Adventure,* by Lloyd Alexander. I blame the ladies at Grumpy Rumblings for what is about to be a binge of Vesper Holly young-adult adventure novels.
37. Where Dreams Begin,* by Lisa Kleypas. A mostly very good but overlong circa-1830 romance featuring a well-born widow and a very rich commoner entrepreneur.
38. The Double Cross,* by Carla Kelly. In which her reliably rich love story (and somewhat familiar storyline) is transplanted to 1780s New Mexico, then part of the moribund Spanish Empire. In Ms. Kelly's romances, history is always very present; I appreciate that.
From "The Illyrian Adventure," a completely brilliant opening paragraph:
"Miss Vesper Holly has the digestive talents of a goat and the mind of a chess master. She is familiar with half a dozen languages and can swear fluently in all of them. She understands the use of a slide rule but prefers doing calculations in her head. She does not hesitate to risk life and limb - mine as well as her own. No doubt she has other qualities as yet undiscovered. I hope not."
and an equally fetching closing paragraph:
"The dear girl, I fear, may be contemplating some alarming, disruptive, dangerous project. In which case, I would naturally do all in my power to keep her from any such rash or foolhardy enterprise. Unless she wished me to accompany her."
The narrator here is the adolescent Vesper's guardian, a former adventurous academic type. The time period for these books is the late 1800s and Mr. Alexander's language is ripely turn-of-the-century ... which happens to be my favorite literary period. Go figure. These were published long after I was the "appropriate" age for them and I am happy to discover them now.