Just a brief welcome to my first ever blogging attempt. I always said I wasn't a blogger but I do love talking about my favorite things (royals, UK Basketball, #TGIT) and in this case, books! I'm a graduate student in the MLIS program at the University of Pittsburgh so as you can imagine I don't necessarily have a lot of spare time to the leisure of life. However, I remember reading a quote once that talked about how people will make time for whatever vice they consider a priority; and good, juicy, page-turners are going to be mine.
I just returned from the American Library Association's Midwinter conference in Chicago last month heavy-laden (quite literally) with over 100 hundred new books. Since many of these are advanced reading copies I am going to attempt to share my thoughts on them with you as they are hitting your local market stands.
This first one, I will admit, I'm already behind my ambitious timeline...but not by very much. Arsenic and Old Books (January 27, 2015) was written by Miranda James (who surprise surprise is actually a pen name for Dean James) and is the 6th addition to her Cat in the Stacks Mystery novels. Don't let this worry you; this was the first of her books for me and I had no trouble following the story without the previous instances. The story follows small town archivist Charlie through a rather engrossing "who done it?" with a Civil War era diary at the center of it all. I was originally interested in this book because of its connection to my profession. It was rather charming to read Charlie talk about archival boxes and acid free paper; to watch him go through all the thought-processes we all go through but our patrons never realize.
The juicy stuff: We have an old money mayor in small-town Mississippi, whose son is campaigning for a Senate seat against the son of a rival family. On top of the mix both candidates are not above mud slinging and are looking to use a set of old Civil War diaries to find the dirt. But in the middle of it all a tenure-hungry professor is also on the hunt to get exclusive access to the diaries but gets herself killed in the process. Let's not forget to mention the desperate story-grabbing journalist running around town lying and scheming in order to impress her secret fiance. "Who Done It???"
Some thoughts on the matter: I was originally interested in the book because of its library/archives focus but quickly realized I won't be able to look to it as a strong example of complex writing. However, I also think it does have a way of wrapping the reader in a style of fun characters and adorable storytelling. If I may add a hint of warning, I did not find the resolution and closure of the novel to be all that satisfying but it was a good journey getting there.