New Venture – Animal Rave radio show about pet books!

For the past year or so, I have been a guest on All Paws Pet Talk radio,
and then I hosted their Sixth Sense for Pets. But now, with great excitement, I get to tell you all I am going to be doing a book show for them, all books about or for pets, and we’re calling it Animal Rave!

I will also review the books here, for the blog, and promise I will note on all future reviews if I’ve talked to the author or not. And I promise I will still be honest with the reviews, and will never just promote a book for someone or feed you their press release.

Good, Gritty Crime Novel

Mission Road
by Rick Riordan

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Excellent modern mystery book, set in the San Antonio, Texas, apparently the Private Investigator Tres Navarre has been the protagonist of other mysteries of his, but this was my first Rick Riordan book, just plucked from a box of BEA treasures. The setting and the characters are decidedly modern, a Hispanic female police detective is one of the main characters, and she wrestles with her own personal history and her mother’s legacy as one of the first Hispanic female policewomen on the force who then succumbed to alcoholism and despair.

The story is gritty, flashing back to events twenties years before and current day pretty seamlessly, not in a jarring way, and it is fascinating to see other characters develop as the mystery at the heart of the piece, which spans two generations of both the richest and the poorest families in town, unfolds. And the final “whodunit” has a nice, unexpected twist that makes sense. I really enjoyed it, and recommend it to any mystery-lovers, though it’s not particularly for the squeamish – there’s quite a bit of blood and gore, but it all figures into the plot and characters well, does not seem gratuitous. It’s an excellent read.

Interesting Historical Fiction

The Visit of the Royal Physician
by Per Olov Enquist

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This was another book sent to my from a friend from Pet Talk who lives in Denmark, and I liked it much better than Everything is Illuminated. I don’t know that this would even make it into stores here, but it’s a small book about a small country, Denmark, at a time when it was still very much ruled by the royal family, but things were beginning to transition to the more modern era. It was the 1760′s the height of the Age of Enlightenment, and men were battling over issues of religion versus science, as well as the usual swap of politics. Add to this the fact that the King of Denmark is mentally unstable, his bride is a young Englishwoman married off to him for typical political reasons, and it makes for an intriguing book. None of the characters are particularly heroic, but several are sympathetic, particularly Catherine Mathilde, who seems to come into her own after a life as pretty much a pawn with little expectations of her other than fecundity. The author does a good job of imagining what might have been going on in the heads of these actual historical figures. It was a dramatic time in Danish history, and while this is a work of fiction, it makes me want to learn a bit more about the actual characters. An enjoyable read, especially if you have an interest in European history around this time, and it draws in Voltaire, Catherine the Great and George III.

I found the book quite interesting, maybe because I know so little about Denmark during that period. And also it makes me wonder how much of this Danish schoolchildren learn, or whether it’s just glossed over with a few sentences … especially as the King was mentally ill, and that never seems to make it in history books much. Unless, that is, it’s the opposing side’s monarchy – like I know of “Mad King George” almost exclusively by that title, as he was the English King at the time of the American Revolution, and was a little bemused to him simply referred to as George III when we were visiting London!

I know we certainly didn’t cover Denmark any detail in my small town American high school classroom, but then, the Social Studies department was not my favorite in the school, either. They had a pretty hard time keeping our attention on the broad generalizations they did cover. But if you have any interest in European history, or Denmark, I do recommend this!