I can’t even tell you how much time I waste trying to figure out what to read, instead of reading.
I’ve decided that social media plays far too large a role in my life, and I don’t like what it does for my productivity, the depth of my thoughts, or my experience of real life. In an effort to reconnect with myself and the world, I’m significantly decreasing my use of social media, including tumblr. I plan to check in every couple of weeks or so, but I’m not sure how frequently I will be posting new content. Just a heads up about why I’m going to be a bit absent for the next little bit. Keep reading, everyone!
Review: Speak Daggers to Her and Book of Moons by Rosemary Edghill
Rosemary Edghill’s Bast Mysteries series is one of my recent serendipitous library discoveries. I’m pagan, and one of my peeves is that most of the depictions of witchcraft, Wicca, and other forms of paganism in media are unrealistic. Sure, I love Willow Rosenberg and The Craft, but sometimes I really crave more realistic books about realistic witches.
This desire, coupled with my exploration of the mystery genre, made this series a must-read for me. I checked out the three-book omnibus Bell, Book, and Murder, and read the first two. They follow Bast, a thirty-something practitioner of Gardnerian Wicca, and her interactions with other members of New York’s pagan community. In the first book, Speak Daggers to Her, she finds herself pulled into amateur sleuthing when a flighty seeker is found dead. Book of Moons introduces Bast to a raging debate about Mary, Queen of Scots, and to a mystery involving several missing Books of Shadows and, eventually, murder.
I really enjoyed the realistic detail of these books. They require a bit of working knowledge of Wicca; I’ve been studying witchcraft off and on for a few years and seriously since October of last year, and I still picked up new tidbits from Bast’s editorial interludes. The mystery felt predictable and too simple in the first book, but the second presented dilemmas more complex and satisfying. Bast is a self-reliant and resourceful heroine, and I especially enjoyed being along for the ride with her through the tense hostage situation near the end of the book. Although it’s secondary to the mystery, I also liked the depiction of her spiritual questioning and growing dissatisfaction with her High Priestess.
These books were published in the ’90s, and in ways they did not age well. Bast spends considerable time talking about her job as a layout artist, and I admit that these sections bordered on incomprehensible to me because my knowledge of graphic design is entirely computer based. The narration also occasionally tries too hard to be gritty and to present I didn’t New York City as the stereotypical brutal urban jungle.
Both Speak Daggers to Her and Book of Moons were solid middle-of-the-road reads for me, with nothing really hindering my enjoyment but nothing that felt life-changing, either. I didn’t quite have it in me to start on the third book, but I plan to come back and read it some day. I have questions about Bast: Does she start her own coven? Does she ever give more details about being a nun? And does she ever hook up with Julian, the Ceremonial Magician?
Reading literally makes you a better person.
Your Tuesday Morning inspiration!
Procrastireader [proh-kras-tuh-ree-der] noun: someone who reads books to avoid doing the unpleasant things they know they should really be doing.
I tend to get stuck in non-fiction ruts a lot, but now that I’m back in a library on a regular basis again, I’m much better at rotating genres. I know I don’t need to, but sometimes I need to force myself to try something new. I’ve been having a lot of luck with fiction lately. I would love to read more graphic novels and YA books, but I never really know what selections to make.
Is there a certain genre that you wish you read more?
Sci-fi & fantasy! I want my imagination back.
I’m really excited about exploring mysteries, especially cozies, right now.
Series Review: The Library Lover’s Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay
Mysteries, especially cozy mysteries, are pretty popular with the patrons at the library where I work. Since starting there last August, I had spent a lot of time laughing at punny titles with other staff at the circ desk. But, until recently, I had never read any. When I found Jenn McKinlay’s library-themed cozy series, I decided to change that.
This series follows Lindsey Norris, a former Yale archivist who takes over the directorship of the Briar Creek Public Library following her layoff and the end of her relationship. While adjusting to her new duties and small-town life, Lindsey also must navigate the unexpected turns of her love life and solve crimes. It’s a tall order for even the best librarian, and makes for a fast-paced, twisty, and fun read.
I’m not one to binge-read, but I found myself unable to stop reading these books until I had gone through all of the titles available! I absolutely adored the first three volumes because they have engaging plots, charming characters, and an idyllic setting that made me wish I could pack up and move there. The mysteries aren’t impossible to guess, but they all had extra twists that I didn’t expect, so I wasn’t cheated out of surprise. I rated the first three as solid fours.
I didn’t enjoy the fourth volume, Read It and Weep, quite as much. I felt that the new characters weren’t established as well as they could have been, that their dialogue and actions were just a bit too dramatic, and that the change in setting from library to community theater was a bit abrupt. Overall, it almost felt like a completely different series. Still, once the crime happened and the plot turned toward mystery-unraveling, the quality definitely improved.
With the exception of a couple of Agatha Christie novels when I was younger, I think these are the first mysteries I’ve read. I definitely enjoyed them and plan to explore mysteries more, both cozy and otherwise. And I’m looking forward to reading the next Library Lover’s mystery, which will be released this November.