Category Archives: untraditional mysteries

An Affinity for Books (Teens and ‘Tweens)

You could say I have an affinity for books.  Once I read a great title, I want to recommend it and find another Read A-Like for myself and others.  What is a Read A-Like you ask?  Librarians and book review sources alert you to books by saying “If you liked this book…you will love this one!”

The biggest question I have received from parents is “What do you recommend after Harry Potter:  that series is the only ones my child will read!”

Fantasy readers of all ages will enjoy Diane Duane’s creative series So You Want to Be a Wizard?  Similar to HP books are the main characters Nita Callahan and Christopher (Kit) Rodriquez  who do not realize they are wizards until they find a book with that same title.  Duane introduces many topics appealing to readers who love this genre including bullying, voracious readers, love of animals, annoying siblings, and she includes mystery and suspense with a dash of humor, as Nita and Kit learn how to deal with their “special” gift.  There are nine books in the series with one more planned for release this year.

The latest young adult (YA) book I completed (No, I didn’t write one yet) reading this year is by prolific Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  I was amazed that he wrote for young people after I remembered his imaginative adult fiction The Shadow of the Wind and its sequels.  The Midnight Palace reminds me of The Thief Lord, another favorite by Cornelia Funke, because the main characters are orphans who band together in an orphanage in Calcutta to swear allegiance forever.  They are challenged by a murderer who appears to them suddenly when they turn 16 and are ready to graduate from the orphanage.  The suspense is phenomenal, and I mean that literally! Funke uses the setting of Venice, so you can compare these two novels with settings far apart.  Ask yourself the question in each novel:  Who is the antagonist or the bad guy?

In my next post, I will review some adult Read A-Likes for you.

Please send me ideas and comments about this and my other posts!

Happy Reading in 2015!  Don’t forget the Goodreads reading challenge!

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Filed under Children's Literature, Fantasy, First Novels, Literary Fiction, untraditional mysteries

Mysterious Mysteries!

Who killed Michael Abramowitz?  There are frequent clues in Baltimore Blues, Laura Lippman’s first mystery novel.  Reading blurbs on Sujata Massey’s “Rei Shimura” series books reminded me that I love to read local author Laura Lippman’s mysteries with settings in our Chesapeake Bay region. Don’t you enjoy reading books set in your own area?   I relish being reminded of the neighborhoods, restaurants, and streets I know or want to explore.  Remember CAMEL from my last posting? E=EXCEPTIONAL SETTINGS! Don’t forget about CAMEL to help you to find great books of this and any genre.

So now that we have explored EXCEPTIONAL SETTINGS in the first paragraph, let me tell you how I became enamored of mystery stories.  Mysteries were my first love from when I was an early reader in grade school beginning with “The Bobbsey Twins” series. All my allowance and birthday money was spent in my home town in northern Indiana on these and other mystery series books. I continued to collect and read any mysteries for my age group. Then in high school I subscribed to the Columbia Mystery Book Club, using all my babysitting money on Perry Mason novels. Now I read any thrillers, suspense and mystery novels recommended by reviewers, friends and family.  I love them light, such as Agatha Christie ones, to very dark, such as Steig Larssen’s books and all mysteries in between.  Please let me know your favorites in the comment section!

Returning to the concepts in the CAMEL  acronym  suggested @ Book Club Cheerleader (see below),  let’s explore some of the other traits of a great title.  What is an example of COMPLEX CHARACTERS in the mystery genre?  Sharyn McCrumb in If I Killed Him When I Met Him has two complex secondary characters, Eleanor Royden and Donna Jean Morgan, who are wives accused of murdering their husbands.  The investigators in the story are a forensic anthropologist and two lawyers, Elizabeth’s brother Bill and his partner, A. P. Hill.  You do not need to read the first Elisabeth MacPherson book in the series to understand this interesting title by MacCrumb, still I encourage you to try more books in her bibliography.

Let’s find some stories filled with A for AMBIGUITY.  This trait can be in the theme, the characters, the climax or the solution.  The author of this type of book keeps you guessing throughout the novel.  Many of you have read Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series about the Egyptian anthropologists.  Ms Peters, known as Mertz/Peters/Michaels,  was prolific; as a matter of fact, she wrote under three names.  On her website there is a quote I would like to share:  “At 85, Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels [and Barbara Mertz]) is enjoying her cats, her garden, lots of chocolate, and not nearly enough gin.” One of my favorite characters she created is a librarian (surprise, surprise) named Jacqueline Kirby.  Naked No More contains a plot, themes and characters who are ambiguous!

Now I know you are ready for a recommendation of a mystery novel full of M=MEATY issues. Through the Darkness, the sixth book in Marcia Talley’s Hannah Ives series, is about the kidnapping of the protagonist’s one year old grandson.  I do not know how Marcia wrote that one, but she carried it off with her usual flair for suspense, realism and care for her characters.

Yesterday I mentioned a book with letters which covers the LITERARY DEVICES idea.  As a former English teacher and school librarian, my favorite of the entire CAMEL concept for choosing books is LANGUAGE and LITERARY DEVICES.  People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is an untraditional mystery; in fact, it is probably not listed as a mystery on many book lists.  Still this brilliant novel includes clues, an investigator and many characters hiding the facts from others as well as the reader!  This popular novel follows the provenance of an object, an illuminated text from the current times back to the beginning of its inception. This technique has been used by other authors which I will explain in another post.

Here are some mystery blogs and websites I follow:

http://sujatamassey.com/blog/

http://www.marciatalley.com/

http://hankphillippiryan.com/blog.php

http://www.jungleredwriters.com/

http://www.elaineviets.com/

http://femmesfatales.typepad.com/

http://www.bookclubcheerleader.com/Home_Page.html

www.mysterylovescompany.com

 

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Filed under Children, Historial Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, myseries, Mystery, untraditional mysteries