Mists of Avalon–Marion Zimmer Bradley

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I’m not a huge Arthurian geek, but I’ve read a few things in this area.

But not this, and never anything like this.

A friend recommended this book to me, and it’s big, I mean, like 1000 pages big. HUGE. Looks like the Bible.

It took a bit to read, too, I usually just blow through books like I’m standing still but this took a bit longer.

And it’s SO FREAKING GOOD.

It’s an epic book, epic in scope as well as size, and it tells the story of King Arthur from the point of view of various women in his life.

Morgan le Fey gets a really favorable treatment, and Guinevere not so much.

It starts with the early married life of Arthur’s mom, through her romance with his father and his birth, his education and so on.

Morgan (Morgaine, in this telling) is the main character here and her time in Avalon is a big aspect of this book, as is her connection (and Arthur’s) with Avalon. The fight between the old druidic religion and the newer Christianity is waged throughout this book, and it’s not favorable to most of the Christians.

Although–and I say this having been raised Cathoic–there is no question that many priests going all the through the end of the Renaissance were incredibly harsh on the non-Christians in their midst. And we all know that the early church appropriated most of the early pagan festivals to facilitate conversions. So this telling of the early Christians may not be inaccurate.

Still, it’s a beautiful book. Beautiful and brilliantly done. Expect a long reading commitment if you read it, but it’s so so worth it.

Sweet Revenge–Diane Mott Davidson

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I used to love Diane Mott Davidson and her Goldy Schultz books. My favorite chocolate chip cookies are from one of her recipes, actually.

Then, back in 2004-ish, I went to one of her book signings and she was incredibly rude to me. Not just to me, but that was the part that affected me the most, obviously.

After that, I swore off her books. I read the one she was there to sign, since I’d already bought it (that was “Dark Torte”) and that was the end of it.

But I recently started using FictFact, a website that tracks your series and I thought, well, hell. It’s been ten years. I can let it go and read her books again.

So I read “Sweet Revenge,” which I got from the library. I may be willing to bend a little here but not nearly enough to pay for her book myself.

And it was pretty damn meh. The biggest question in all amateur sleuth books is, why the hell is this person investigating a murder? Most people would be like, that sucks, and then move on. Maybe bring a casserole to the family, if they know them.

By this point, her protagonist’s motivation for investigation was incredibly weak. She was there when the guy was killed. Ok? And his girlfriend is suspected and needs help. Ok, again? They weren’t friends, she didn’t even like the girlfriend.

I saved a couple of the recipes, for shepherd’s pie (which I LOVE) and for a dessert bar, but I’m trying to drop my holiday weight so I’m holding off on baking either of those at the moment.

Basic summary: some jerk that everyone hated and may or may not of have had improper relationships with high school girls was killed. He was a shady rare map dealer.

His girlfriend was a suspect because maybe he was breaking up with her? Maybe not. And the ex-wife, the current and former business partners, and anyone whose daughter he may have “dated.”

I do not recommend her books. Both because she’s an unpleasant person and because the books just aren’t that good any more. I might finish out the series just out of a devotion to completion (although that same devotion isn’t enough to talk me into getting further than book 4 of the “Outlander” series, good Lord, that woman has veered into boring territory) but I don’t advocate getting into this series if you’re not already.

Severed (A Tale of Sleepy Hollow)–Dax Varley

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I got this book for free. I love getting free books. This one was on a special free promotion from Amazon, I have an email service that gives me the list of the free books of the day. The results of “free book day” are variable, but I liked this one.

It’s the story of Sleepy Hollow, I guess, because I haven’t read any of the other Sleepy Hollow works, not even the original.

In this one, the heroine Katrina is the daughter of the most prominent man in Sleepy Hollow, supposedly affianced to her dad’s overseer, who is a jerk.

One of her friends is trying to buy a boat and escape with her, because the problem with Sleepy Hollow, aside from jerky fiances, is that the headless horseman stalks the citizens.

When the book opens, the schoolteacher has just been killed by the horseman, and Ichabod Crane is hired. He and Katrina form an attachment, which causes Katrina issues with her best friend. The horseman stalks a few other people, and the entire town is reduced to terror and cowering.

Eventually, the horseman turns its eyes to Ichabod, and Katrina tries to put the horseman down for good. This does not end well. Then the townspeople turn on her and her family. Even worse things happen.

Drama and terror. And creepy ambiance. It’s a good book.

Last time’s trivia answer: The alternate title to “Thirteen at Dinner” is, duh, “Lord Edgware Dies.”

Thirteen at Dinner–Agatha Christie

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They made a movie of this one, but I haven’t seen it.

Lady Edgware is a famous actress, and she’s been separated from Lord Edgware for quite some time. He’s been refusing to give her a divorce, which she needs because she wants to remarry, to a Duke this time.

So Lady Edgware asks Poirot to intercede with her husband. When he goes, Lord Edgware tells him that, on the contrary, he agreed to a divorce some time ago.

Lady Edgware seems surprised and relieved. All should be well.

And then Lord Edgware is killed. The butler and the secretary identify Lady Edgware as the only person to see him that night.

Why would she kill him when she already got her divorce?

But wait, there’s more.

She was at a dinner in the country at the time she was supposedly killing her husband. Several prominent people can testify to that.

So who killed her husband? And why?

Poirot leads the police down a path that leads to the eventual arrest of Lord Edgware’s nephew, who inherited the title and more importantly, the money he most definitely needed.

Immediately after the arrest, he announces that it couldn’t possibly be the nephew and starts working to free him. Fun times.

This is a fun little book.

Today’s Agatha Christie trivia question: What’s the alternate title of this book?