The plan this month was to branch out. I had to. I was getting downright cranky about the samey-saminess in the cozy murder genre. So, branch out I did, at least in terms of genre. There is a strong contingent of Canadians amongst the writers I enjoyed this month, so I guess in some ways I kept it close to home.
Directly from out of left field, Samantha Bee's I Know I Am, But What Are You? entertained the very heck out of me. She's a teller of toweringly tall tales, and yet they often ring with undeniable truth. Her description of family car camping in the Canadian unwilderness on the first long weekend of the season might have been wildly exaggerated or just barely so.
Then, I moved on to Stone Mattress, a collection of nine short stories by Margaret Atwood. Creepy good. And I learned about Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), which describes the strange but realistic visions sometimes experience by people with macular degeneration. Just a couple of weeks later, there was an article in our local paper about CBS. Ms. Atwood has the power to call such things into being, you see.
On the mystery front, Kathy Reichs' Speaking in Bones was quite the page turner. Lest you think I abandoned the cozies entirely, I assure you that I did not. Betty Heichtman's Silence of the Lambs' Wool and Erika Chase's Book Fair and Foul each followed the tropes of the genre quite rigidly. Though I'm still a bit burnt out from January's pile, I enjoyed them. I mean, in one the main protagonist baked delicious things and ran a knitting retreat, and in the other the heroine and her mystery-solving friends talked books and hosted a book fair. I can't stay mad at that.
Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub was a complete change of pace. It's the continuation of Romeo and Juliet. What happens in fair Verona in the weeks following the deaths of those coupla crazy kids? Being developed into a TV series by Shondaland (ooooo, exciting), this novel does a wonderful job of adapting the rhythms of Shakespeare's language for today's YA reader and it brings in a host of his characters from other plays set in his version of Italy.
I'm tempted to pass this one on to my 13-year-old because I think she'd love it, but since she hasn't yet taken Romeo and Juliet in school, I don't want her to get confused on the canon. So maybe in a year or so?
Dr. Cory Franklin was the lone dude in the contingent this month. His Cook County ICU: 30 Years of Unforgettable Patients and Cases offers an entertaining memoir of his many years as an internist to both rich and poor. His medical career spanned a time of tremendous change in our society – from the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic to a time when its treatment has become pretty routine. He's a gifted storyteller and shares equally his proudest and his most humble-making moments.
And finally, I savoured every page of Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. I kind of don't even want to describe her comics because I'm not sure how to do it coherently. Tiny Hermione. Terrorist feminists. French revolutionaries. Wonder Woman. Mr. Darcy. The comic above is one of a series where she tells the story of vintage book covers. In our family, m-f is a taboo word (we do have a few, trying not to completely fail at the social niceties) and "monkey-fighting" is our go-to substitute. If you can say "aw yiss, monkey-fighting bread crumbs" without the merest hint of a smirk, all I can say is GOOD. MORE KATE BEATON FOR ME.