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Great Reads from the Land Down Under: Kim Wilkins, Kerry Greenwood, and Graeme Base

6 Apr

One of my favorite trips I have ever taken was to Australia where I was able to see the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru (Ayers Rock).  But for all the wonders down under, the best part of Australia was all the kind and friendly people I encountered.  I’ve just started reading the quirky period comedy The Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish, about the misadventures of a young anthropologist by Australian author, Tim Flannery.  My enjoyment of the work got me thinking about Australia and some of my other favorite Australian authors and their works.  I hope you’ll check out some of their books and if you are thinking of taking your own trip there, you can borrow Frommer’s Easyguide to Australia from HPL and start planning your own adventure.

Kim Wilkins

veil-of-gold
I first fell in love with Kim Wilkins’s Europa Suite, a set of three books which although each with unique plots and characters are connected by their basis in the folklore of different parts of Northern Europe.  You can borrow from BCCLS libraries the third work of this “trilogy,” The Veil of Gold where creatures from Russian myth and legend transform the lives of three modern individuals.  The Europa Suite would be best categorized as romantic urban fantasy and would appeal to fans of mythpunk like Catherynne M. Valente.

Wilkins’s earlier work such as her first novel The Infernal tend more towards supernatural thriller and horror in the vein of Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite.  Unfortunately many of her early works have not yet been published in the US.  If you like your work more grounded in reality you may want to check out some of her most recent fiction works which are written under the pen name Kimberly Freeman including Evergreen Falls which was inspired by her own grandmother’s life.  What runs through all of her writing is despite often being set in our modern world there is a fascination and some type of connection with different time periods such as the 1920s in Evergreen Falls.  Wilkins also has written a children’s series, The Sunken Kingdom (available from BCCLS libraries).

Kerry Greenwood

castlemaine-murders
Kerry Greenwood is probably my favorite mystery writer.  Rosary wrote about her Phryne Fisher series in an early blog post and I also mentioned the excellent TV adaptation of that series.  Both the Phryne Fisher book series and the first three seasons of the television series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries are available from the Hoboken Public Library.  But besides Phryne you should also check out Greenwood’s terrific six book Corinna Chapman Mysteries which star a zaftig baker who lives and works in a quirky apartment building with her charming feline companion.  Unlike the Phryne Fisher series, the Corinna Chapman series is set in modern times, but like Phryne there are a lot of delightful characters in Corinna’s life.  You will want to eat this series up! Greenwood’s Delphic Woman trilogy was also recently published in the United States for the first time (they are actually some of her older works written back in the 90s) which are based on the stories of women from Ancient Myths including Cassandra, Medea, and Electra.

Graeme Base

eleventh-hour
Graeme Base is one of my favorite picture book authors and illustrators.  My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch will introduce you and the little explorer in your life to the native wildlife of his adopted homeland (he moved from England to Australia as a child).  My top pick of his would be The Eleventh Hour, a mystery book for the younger set about an elephant’s birthday feast that disappears before the assorted animal guests can enjoy it.  The gorgeous bright detailed illustrations, clever rhymes, and fun puzzle of who-dun-it will have your little ones enthralled.  If your kids have fun looking for the hidden images in the book they can also check out other of Base’s works such as The Legend of a Golden Snail, The Last King of Angkor Wat, and Enigma: A Magical Mystery.  Tykes learning their ABC’s will find Animalia to be one of the most beautiful alphabet books to enjoy and they’ll giggle at the tongue twisting alliteration.  BCCLS libraries also have the TV adaptation of Animalia available.  For older children there is Base’s first novel, TruckDogs, about truck/dog hybrids living in an outback like setting.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

LGBTQ Urban Fantasy Series: The Sleepless City and Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator

2 Sep

Here are two compelling series with LGBTQ characters that will appeal to fans of Tanya Huff’s Smoke Trilogy, Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, or Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series.  Since they are both available as ebooks they are just a click away for our Hoboken Library Resident Cardholders.  So check them out now for an enjoyable Labor Day Weekend read or put them on your wish list for October when Halloween and Coming Out Day (October 11) make it the perfect time to read about some out and proud Vampires, Werewolves, and Witches.

The Sleepless City by Anne Barwell and Elizabeth Noble

shades-of-sepia
The Sleepless City is a gay paranormal romance series, written by Anne Barwell and Elizabeth Noble, available to our resident Hoboken Library cardholders through eLibraryNJ.  The series revolves around several roommates and friends, some of whom are vampires.  In the mythology of The Sleepless City vampires have one true soulmate, but just because someone is your soulmate doesn’t mean there is an instant happily ever after and as each of the vampire main characters of the book finds their romantic partner they must navigate relationship issues as well as some suspenseful supernatural dilemmas.  Much like the Hellmouth in Buffy the Vampire series, there is a lot of mystical trouble in the small town of Flint, Ohio.  Besides vampires Jonas, Declan, and Simon, aficionados of werewolves will enjoy the character of Lucas Coate.  I’m usually more a vampire fan myself, but I found Lucas to be one of my favorite characters from the series.

Rather than co-write each book, the authors alternated books in the series.  Barwell wrote the first book Shades of Sepia and the third book Family and Reflection.  Noble wrote the second book Electric Candle and the soon to be released fourth and final book tentatively titled Checkmate.  I was unsure if the series might feel disjointed by having two authors, but I found it had the beneficial effect that their slightly different styles helped delineate the different characters they were focusing on.  If you become a fan of the series you might find yourself wanting to binge read to find out what happens next to the well written and interesting characters.  Although The Sleepless City series ends after book four, the authors will each be working on two separate spinoff series.  The Sleepless City is published by Dreamspinner Press, who specializes in Gay romance titles, some of which are also available to our Hoboken Library Resident Cardholders through eLibraryNJ.

Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator by Alexis Hall

iron-velvet
There are two books so far in Alexis Hall’s Kate Kane lesbian urban fantasy mystery series including Iron & Velvet and Shadows & Dreams.  A third book Fire & Water is planned.  I found myself so immersed in the world of the first book Iron & Velvet that I finished it in two days.  Kate Kane is a terrific character, a half fairy private eye with a biting wit who tries to fight against letting her powers derived from her mother, The Queen of the Wild Hunt, take over her life.  There are so many other wonderful characters in the world including Julian Saint-Germain, an eight hundred year old lesbian vampire prince; Tara Vane-Tempest, the upper class model who is also an alpha werewolf; Nimue, Kate’s ex and a Witch Queen; her assistant Elise, a golem-like “living statue;” and informant Jack who is a part of “the Multitude,” a gestalt mind made up of rats!  Although cleverly original, the book also satirizes some tropes of both the noir mystery and the urban fantasy genre.  Kate has a vampire ex who she met in high school biology class who creepily liked to watch her sleep, is overprotective, and bears other traits that seem reminiscent of a certain sparkly vampire.  LGBTQ publishers Riptide Publishing also have several other series by Alexis Hall including Prosperity, a steampunk series, which is available through Hoopla.  Some of Riptide’s other books are also available there and on eLibraryNJ.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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