Note: I had trouble finishing up this post this morning after the terrible events in Boston yesterday. One of my daughters ran in the Boston Marathon a couple years ago so this brought back memories of my happiness for her that day with the horror of seeing those bombs go off blanketed over those happy memories. Plus I have a nephew and his wife who just moved from Boston. My hearts go out to all the people injuried or killed yesterday, their families and to all of Boston. My thoughts are also with the police, FBI and everyone working to catch the person or person who did this: I hope they are caught very soon and put on trial very soon.
My topic this week is apropos: Sometimes I want to escape this world reality and become immersed in a book’s world or setting. That’s one reason I read.
This week on Top Ten Tuesday we have a rewind–where we can pick a topic we missed the first time around or one we want to revisit. Since I have only done Top Ten Tuesday for about a month I have lots of past topics to choose from. I chose the Top Ten Most Vivid Book Worlds/Settings.
Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit) by J. R. R. Tolkien
The world Tolkien created is one of the first fantasy worlds I learned about. It is certainly the richest and most complex world I had encountered at that time (as a teenager) and Tolkien has influenced many fantasy authors. I wanted to go to Middle Earth and the Shire after I read The Hobbit! I’ve always felt I could see the big trees walking. We had a Beech tree in our yard when we lived in Ohio that I could see walking away from our yard.
Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
My mother read the Mary Poppins books to me when I was a child before the movie was made by Disney. We both loved them so much and were so excited when the movie came out. I loved to hear about Jane , Michael, the twins and Mary Poppins. As a child I wanted to know how these children lived their lives and I envied them having a nanny! I tried reading the books to my children and either I was too early or too late, because they weren’t interested. Sad, but true!
Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman
Tony Hillerman wrote about the Navajo Indians in the Four Corners area of Arizona and New Mexico and occasionally Colorado and Utah. I love this area of the United States and Tony Hillerman brought it alive for me. I started these books when I was a teenager and at first I thought he must be a Navajo to write the way he did. It doesn’t surprise me he won many awards for his writing or the Navajo Tribe’s Special Friends of the Dineh Award. The protangonists in this book are both Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police. I especially like this book because it does have both characters. Both are Navajos, but they approach their lives and their investigations very differently. Jim Chee is studying with his uncle to become a yataalii (a wiseman or shaman). He is more mystical in his approach to the world than Joe Leaphorn is. Leaphorn is skeptical of the many Navajo traditions, but he does take rumors of Navajo witchcraft and other mysteries seriously. Tony Hillerman also wrote books about each character separately. Hillerman’s descriptions of the American Southwest, the weather, the people especially the Navajo Indians are all clear and strong in his books and I am swept away to the Southwest when I read these books.
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
I read this book a number of years ago and it has stayed with me. It was a very emotional read and I also convinced one of my daughters and my husband to read it. They loved it, too. We’ve gone on to read a number of Connie Willis books, but this is still our favorite. Kivrin travels back in time (she thinks she is going to 1320), but the technician in 2048 makes a mistake and she arrives in 1348 England during the Black Plague. One of the interesting things for me is that she doesn’t immediately realize what year she has arrived since calendars and clocks aren’t common things during that time. The Church kept their church calendar which is how people knew what time of the year it was (that and the seasons, of course!) and the church rang bells during the day. It wasn’t until people began dying that she began suspect what had happened and then she finds she can’t return to 2048 right then and maybe won’t get back at all. This wasn’t an easy read for me. Many people die and the setting was so vivid to me. I felt I was there having to watch all these people die along with Kivrin. The characters were so vivid and as in life there were heroes and villains both in 1348 and 2048 (where an epidemic also occurs).
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
The setting is a 1950 English village. The main character is 11 year old Flavia de Luce who is fascinated by chemistry and poison. She is also a neglected child, a prodigy of sorts and when she finds a murdered man decides to investigate. I felt part of the 1950 English village. Alan Bradley as a first time 70 year old author has written such a good series. The other books in this series are also very good. Flavia is such an interesting character and the 1950’s is a great setting.
Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
I like the world Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have created with all their books. They show the long history of the Liaden Universe. The Liadens are so interesting with their careful manners and complex language and I like that they aren’t perfect. In fact, there are some villains as well as the heroes. The Clan Korvel is the family followed throughout the books. Fledgling is a departure that doesn’t take place on Liad and seems not to be part of the series at first. If you read the earlier books it slowly dawns on you who some of the characters must be. The authors have created a new culture on a new planet which is very interesting. I feel like I could know these people! Each culture they introduce in their books are diverse and unique to me.
A Christmas Bride by Mary Balogh
I like Mary Balogh’s books very much…especially her older Regency books. The Christmas books and stories she writes really evoke the English winter countryside at Christmas during the Regency era. They involve families and the adults are active in their children’s lives. There is often snow and they play in the snow, have snowball fights, go sledding or go ice skating. They bring in a yule log and greenery and decorate the house. They attend Christmas Eve services and sing carols. I realize it may be an idealized setting, but it is lovely for the Christmas season especially. It makes me feel I am there!
Secrets of the Night by Jo Beverley
This is part of Jo Beverley’s Malloren series. They are historical romances which take place in England during the Georgian era. This is one of my favorites by Jo Beverley, but really I love all her books–the Georgian Mallorens, the Regencies and the Medievals. The Marquis of Rothgar is a character in all the books and is a very powerful person in Great Britain. In this book one of his brothers is kidnapped and Rothgar is incensed. He’s determined to find out who did this and why and them make them pay for it. Rothgar is a friend of the King and the Prince of Wales. Jo Beverley does a good job showing how powerful Rothgar is and the influence he wields both inside and outside his family. I like the romance in these books, but I also like how I feel part of the Georgian period and the politics of the time.
The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
This is not the first book in the Vorkosigan series, but it is the first one with Miles nearly grown. He’s physically handicapped on a planet where the warrior class rules. Miles is a brilliant strategist, very intelligent, but his body betrays him. Miles can’t pass the physical for the military academy so he leaves his planet–Barrayer–to try to cope with the fact he can’t be the warrior he wants to be. This is an adventure story, but Ms. Bujold also does a great job showing Miles coming to terms with his handicap, growing up and discovering just what he can do. The people around him are also vivid. Miles begins to come into his own. The world Ms Bujold creates a unique world with people I would like to meet (at least some of them!)
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
This is the first book in the October Daye series. I love the way this series starts. October (Toby) works as a private investigator. She is half human and half fae and has spent 14 years as a fish after a PI assignment went bad! After that, she doesn’t want anything more to do with magic, but of course, she’s drawn back into that world. The San Francisco setting and Toby’s job sucked me into her world…the human world and the fae world in the middle of it all.