Friday, April 4, 2014

April: Book Month on The Radical Virgo

© 2014 by Joyce Mason

Since I’ve begun writing novels, I’ve been reading more—primarily fiction. I’ve discovered some things I think you’ll want to know about.

During April we’ll take a look at who’s writing astrological fiction. Turns out there are more authors than I knew! I’ll share some blurbs about their work. We’ll have a couple of full-length reviews, both of fiction and non-fiction on astrological topics.

I’m on a reading kick this year for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to promote my own novel on Goodreads, so I started tracking my reading there. It’s kind of like tracking points on Weight Watchers, another past good habit I’m about to get back to. Following my own progress and setting goals leads to more success. I’m doing a book challenge of reading 35 books this year, which at the pace I’m going, I’ll exceed to the point of about a book a week. I think I could have committed to 50, but I’m trying to tame my Jupiter trine Mars overachievement. Better to overshoot the goal and cut myself some slack, especially with this year’s big personal agenda. I'm also enjoying the excuse to sit down and how it rejuvenates me to get that big To Do List done.

My return to my bookworm roots brings back fabulous memories of our rickety old library in my burgeoning Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn, Illinois in the 1950s. The library was so old; its ugly brown linoleum pitched at what felt like at least a 35-degree angle. It was musty and smelled peculiar, but it was like finding buried treasure to a wide-eyed kid. I once heard someone ask, if you could only have one card in your wallet, what would it be? Mine would be my library card. My mother had fits as I read constantly in poor lighting by my bedside. That habit may or may not have led to my extreme near-sightedness and coke bottle glasses till I turned 14 and my hands-on-knees begging my mom for contacts finally worked.

Second, I picked up my reading pace early this year so I could cast an intelligent vote at the Left Coast Crime conference for the award nominees. I admit, reading 20 books in six weeks was not a possibility for me, as I had not yet read one of the books in contention except for excerpts. I did hit the Kindle samples and read those that I knew would most appeal to me, and I just have to share the list of nominees and winners with you; it’s so terrific. I want to read most of them, and I bet you’ll find some great reads, too.

In this list I discovered the best book I’ve read in years, Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. There’s something about it that reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird, because it deals with heavy topics from a child’s perspective and is told with humor, sensitivity and ultimate optimism despite dealing with death, bigotry and other meaty issues. It touched me from the Prologue, and I cried several times. Mostly, it has the real goods about what’s important in life when it comes to love, community and not letting first impressions stand, as the truth is often buried deeper.

Since The Radical Virgo is known for its large dollop of humor, you might want to especially check out the entries for the Lefty or humorous novel. April is National Humor Month—all the more reason.


Winners highlighted

The Lefty: Best Humorous Mystery Novel
  • Donna Andres, The Hen of the Baskervilles (Minotaur Books)
  • Timothy Hallinan, The Fame Thief (Soho Crime)
  • Lisa Lutz, The Last Word (Simon & Schuster)
  • Brad Parks, The Good Cop (Minotaur Books)
  • Cindy Sample, Dying for a Daiquiri (Cindy Sample Books)

 The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award: Best historical mystery novel covering events before 1960
  • Rhys Bowen, Heirs and Graces (Berkeley Prime Crime)
  • Susan Elia MacNeal, His Majesty’s Hope (Bantam)
  • Catriona McPherson, Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses (Minotaur Books)
  • David Morrell, Murder as a Fine Art (Mulholland Books)
  • Priscilla Royal, Covenant with Hell (Poison Pen Press)

The Squid: Best mystery set within the United States
  • Sue Grafton, W is for Wasted (Putnam, Marian Wood Books)
  • Darrell James, Purgatory Key (Midnight Ink)
  • William Kent Krueger, Ordinary Grace (Atria Books)
  • Hank Phillippi Ryan, The Wrong Girl (Forge)
  • Terry Shames, A Killing at Cotton Hill (Seventh Street Books)

The Calamari: Best mystery set anywhere else in the world

  • Cara Black, Murder Below Montparnasse (Soho Crime)
  • Lisa Brackmann, Hour of the Rat (Soho Crime)
  • Catriona McPherson, As She Left It (Midnight Ink)
  • Louise Penny, How the Light Gets In (Minotaur Books)
  • Jeffrey Siger, Mykonos After Midnight (Poisoned Pen Press)

By the way, I’m proud to say that two of the authors on this list are my Sisters in Crime, members along with me of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento Chapter of the national mystery writing organization. They are Lefty nominee Cindy Sample and Bruce Alexander winner Catriona McPherson—both talented, fun and terrific ladies.

More “bookings” on these pages—soon!


Photo Credit:  Hooked on books © Leo -

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