Look kids - new books on the horizon that sound fabulous! Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran described at her site thusly:
While the tattooed, pot-smoking Claire has excellent skills of deduction and analysis, she also uses dreams, memory, precognition, and mind-expanding herbs to help her solve mysteries. But most of all she relies on guidance from the mysterious French detective Jacques Silette and his enigmatic book, Detection. Shot through with memories of Claire's years as a girl detective in 1980s Brooklyn, these are no ordinary mysteries, but rather investigations into the very nature of mysteries themselves. What is a crime? What is a mystery? Why do some of us solve them while others pass them by? And most of all, how do we know the truth, and recognize it when we see it?
I reviewed Gran's last book, COME CLOSER and found it both creepy and compelling (it was that kind of book). CLAIRE DEWITT sounds much lighter but still set in NOLA and still involving a mystery. This is first in a series and I'm curious to see if it has older teen crossover potential. Regardless, I'm looking forward to checking it out as my inner Nancy Drew is always on the search for kindred spirits.
The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller: I really enjoyed teaching WWI more than any other event in US (or world) history because it applies so much to events that occurred after it (and contemporary events today) that it was always a thrill to see the lightbulb go off in my students' heads as the big picture came to them. Understand WWI and you can understand how everything has consequences. CAPTAIN JOHN EMMETT is a mystery set after the war and involving a war veteran. I love the MAISIE DOBBS series so it stand to reason I could love this too:
In the aftermath of the Great War and a devastating family tragedy, Laurence Bartram has turned his back on the world. But with a well-timed letter, an old flame manages to draw him back in. Mary Emmett's brother Johnâ€”like Laurence, an officer during the warâ€”has apparently killed himself while in the care of a remote veterans' hospital, and Mary needs to know why.
Aided by his friend Charlesâ€”a dauntless gentleman with detective skills cadged from mystery novelsâ€”Laurence begins asking difficult questions. What connects a group of war poets, a bitter feud within Emmett's regiment, and a hidden love affair? Was Emmett's death really a suicide, or the missing piece in a puzzling series of murders? As veterans tied to Emmett continue to turn up dead, and Laurence is forced to face the darkest corners of his own war experiences, his own survival may depend on uncovering the truth.
I was blown away by Robert Wiersma's THE WORLD MORE FULL OF WEEPING, a novella from indy press Chizine that was touching and sad and mysterious and darn near perfect. This has kept Chizine on my radar and why I was quite interested to see the description for The Door to Lost Pages by Claire Lalumiere:
On her tenth birthday, Aydee runs away from home and from her neglectful parents. At first, surviving alone on the streets is harsh, but a series of frightening, bewildering encounters with strange primordial creatures leads her to a bookshop called Lost Pages, where she steps into a fantastic, sometimes dangerous, but exciting life. Aydee grows up at the reality-hopping Lost Pages, which seems to attract a clientele that is both eccentric and desperate. She is repeatedly drawn into an eternal war between enigmatic gods and monsters, until the day she is confronted by her worst nightmare: herself.
I've added that to my list of title to buy this year for sure.
Finally, Gwenda has a post up for SANDSTORM a new D&D Forgotten Realms novel written by her husband, Christopher Rowe. I was never much of a gamer but do recall my brother and his friends pulling more than one all-nighter when they were in high school. What's really cool about Gwenda's post is that she asked a bunch of writerly friends to chime in on their D&D memories which leads to fun things like this from Christopher Barzak:
When I was sixteen, I became friends with a group of people who enjoyed playing Dungeons and Dragons. I had had hopelessly "normal" friends prior to this, and it was only after that first session of gaming that I realized how hopelessly normal my other friends were. Instead of being caught up in popular music or the dating scene, the gossip wars of high school, or the regimentation of organized sports, I began accessing my own imagination. It was a beautiful, liberating experience. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could be creative with other people, not just privately.
Be sure to read the comments as more folks share what a positive impact gaming had on their lives - and if you have a fond gaming memory then give Christopher's book a look for a pleasant return to this always fascinating world.