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Monday, April 20, 2015

Claws of Affection

It's time to post more book reviews and I've had a busy week, both reading and writing. Subtraction has grown to 65,000 words and I'm fairly sure I know how to put it all together now, with interlaced past and present chapters until Andrew starts the journey to his future. All I need is to complete the writing and the interlacing. Then I'll get those final "future" chapters out of my head onto the page. Since there's a very active, somewhat mystical cat involved in them, I feel rather like its metaphorical claws keep kneading the back of my brain demanding release. Yes, yes; I will write your final chapter soon. And yes, yes; I do hope I'll do your subject justice 'cause I really don't want you kneading the back of my brain forever. I love cats - don't get me wrong - but those claws of affection really can hurt sometimes.

Anyway, here are some book reviews, starting with one starring some wonderful cats. Grab a coffee, and remember the ratings are for flavor, not quality; I'm really not equipped to judge the quality of what I drink or what I read.

Per-bast: A Tale of Cats in Ancient Egype, by Lara-Dawn Stiegler, blends mythology, history, sociology and cats into a convincing and enthralling mix. There's plenty of drama, humor, and scares, just the right amount of mysticism and magic, and lots of wonderful down-to-earth cats. Enjoy their mysterious tale with some rich, elegant and complex four-star coffee.

I rather enjoyed reading The Pharaoh’s Daughter, by Mesu Andrews, at the same time as Per-Bast. Both novels are set in Egypt. Both refer to godlike Pharaohs and complex societies. But Mesu Andrew's novel has a Christian flavor and looks at the plight, not of cats, but of Hebrew slaves, from the point of view of the Pharaoh's older sister. Societies of warriors, slaves, rich and poor are all convincingly portrayed, giving a feel for very real people living in a dangerous time. Faith plays an important part, but is never intrusive, being an integral part of different characters' lives. All in all, it's a thoroughly good read and my favorite Mesu Andrews book to date. Enjoy with some well-balanced, smooth, full-flavored three-star coffee.

The Good Servant, by Doug Lucas, is a Christian novel of much more recent history, telling the tale of a small-town American man from childhood, through service with the Marines in Vietnam, to marriage and to approaching death. It's beautifully, convincingly told with great voice, unflinching honesty, blunt humor, and some incredibly wonderful scenes. Enjoy a bold dark intense cup of coffee as your read. Then reach for The Good Servant's wife, which gives the other half of the story and the "missing pieces" pieced together from the protagonist's notes.

Ghost of Death, by Chrys Fey, is a much shorter modern-day tale of a woman who finds herself dead and doesn't know why. A short story of small errors and large consequences, it's oddly alluring and surprisingly upbeat, given the topic. Enjoy over lunch with a lively easy-drinking two-star coffee, and find my review on Nights and Weekends soon.

And now for something completely different... Olde School, by Selah Janel, is a wonderful blend of fairytale, horror, and thoroughly modern-day fun. Think Shrek for grownups maybe, with a touch of romance, a touch of horror, plenty of touches of humor, action, imagination and fun. Enjoy with some bright lively easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Then, for the kids, there are more Oliver and Jumpy stories, starring cat and kangaroo (and a cuddly bear) in Oliver and Jumpy 13-15, by Werner Stejskal A really well-told middle tale in the set introduces sorrow and depression in a pleasingly non-threatening way. Enjoy with some mild, light, crisp one-star coffee.


Jean Harkin said...

Hi Sheila-- It's me Jean, from Wrtiers' Mill. I'm just reading a book by Natalie Goldberg in which she describes a little black mink with jeweled collar which held the secrets to her novel going forward. The little mink told her to quit her day job; and sure enough, the writing progressed smoothly! Something like your cat's 'claws of affection.'

Sheila Deeth said...

Perhaps I should read that book too. If only the cat were white, it might belong in Divide by Zero.