The Last Cato by Matilde Asense
This book is basically what would happen if Indiana Jones and The Da Vinci Code gave birth to a daughter. The main character is a nun who translates ancient works for the Vatican. She’s an intriguing character to say the least. She pairs up with the leader of the Swiss Guard and an Egyptian scholar to track down the people behind the disappearance of pieces of the cross Jesus was allegedly crucified upon. It’s a fun story with a lot of history mixed in. A lot of history. When I was in school, I never would’ve considered myself a history buff, but I guess I am. I loved reading about Constantine, St. Helen, and so many other stories the author worked into the novel. The historical references were one of the best parts of the novel. The “tests” the characters have to endure required a lot of suspension of disbelief. The last chapter is a throwaway. It’s like she ran out of steam and just quickly wrote the first thing that popped into her head. Of course, it may have lost something in translation along the way. A good editor could’ve corrected most of what’s wrong with the book. Seriously, are proofreaders and editors a thing of the past?
On a side note, I noticed Dan Brown is coming out with a book that focuses on Dante’s Inferno. Nice. I guess he’s hoping we haven’t read The Last Cato…
Oh, and for the second month in a row, a book I read mentioned Briareus. What an odd coincidence.
Naked Heat by Richard Castle
Yes, as a die-hard Browncoat, I am required by law to watch “Castle.” Crime shows were never my thing, but I will follow my Captain wherever the ‘verse takes us. And so, when I saw this at the used bookstore at my local library for a meager 50 cents, I couldn’t resist. And… it’s not good. It’s not even close to good. It’s a poorly-written hour-long Castle episode spread out over 400 pages minus the wit, dialogue, and character growth.
One thing I did enjoy were the couple of Firefly references. I read the first one and thought, “This was written by someone pretending to be Richard Castle, who is portrayed by Nathan Fillion, who played my beloved Captain… it’s like Inception: Browncoat-style.” If you want to read it, you can have my copy. I won’t revisit this one.
Nathan Fillion kissing a baby.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
My dear friend, Tina, gave me a copy of this book after falling in love with it herself. It’s a series of letters between an author, her best friend, her publisher, and the people of the British Channel isle of Guernsey after WWII. It’s funny and heartbreaking and easy to get swept up in. As soon as I finished, I immediately began researching the Channel Islands with the hopes that someday I could go visit the charming little island that was so intriguing throughout the book. It’s not a change-the-world type of book, but it mixes romance, intrigue and humor with the German occupation of the island during WWII in a beautiful way. It’s a must-read for fans of the epistolary novel. (A favorite style of mine and one that I hope to try my hand at writing in the near future.)
Liberating Paris by Linda Bloodworth Thomason
I picked up this novel at our library’s used book sale mainly because Paris, France has become The Peeshwank’s latest vacation-spot obsession. So, imagine my surprise when I realized that it wasn’t about Paris, France, but Paris, Arkansas. It was written by one of my all-time favorite TV writers (“Designing Women” and “M*A*S*H”). Then as I read the “thank yous” at the beginning, the author thanked someone I know personally. It was like the gods were begging me to read this book and I’m so glad they did. The story lines (of which there are several) touch on everything from young love to homosexuality, from the Wal-Marting of America to religious hypocrisy. And they are told masterfully. On one page I found myself laughing out loud and a page later fighting back tears. I loved the characters and the setting. It felt like any small town here in my neck of the woods. This is one of the few books that I feel would make an excellent movie. Or TV show (since Mrs. Thomason has already proven she has a knack for that.)