Genre Friday – Cozy Mysteries

Mysteries are all about twists and turns and misdirection. There is often danger. There is almost always a dead body or two. So where does “cozy” come into it?

Cozy Cottage

Not to be confused with a cozy cottage… although a lot of cozy mysteries take place in and around cozy cottages. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s a connection.

The Cozy is a pretty popular mystery sub-genre with a pretty specific set-up. They are generally set in a small town or village, with an amateur (meaning not professional law-enforcement or a PI or anything) sleuth, although they will always have some sort of connection, official or otherwise, that will allow them to gather information on the case. The sleuth is almost always a woman… and not infrequently of the grey-haired, grandmotherly variety. The murder – there is always a murder – is over pretty quickly or happens before the book begins and someone just finds the body to kick things off. There is little to no additional violence. Think Murder, She Wrote for a good, well-known example.

And that’s that. Although, if you are intrigued, this sub-genre has a bunch of subcategories (animals – often cats, crafts, cooking, etc.) all its own so you can delve pretty deeply into the cozy rabbit hole if you should so desire. And, as always, the library is a great place to start.

 

DITTOS – Like read-alikes, only better!

“Why are they better?” you ask.

Well, partly because some of them, like this one, don’t just have suggestions for what else you might like to read, but what you might like to watch or listen to as well.

But mostly they’re better because Becca made them.Big Little Lies Shelf End Ditto

Genre Friday Returns! with Court Intrigue Fantasy

Whether it is set on Earth (past, present or future), in a parallel world or universe, or a mystic realm where the familiar laws of nature do not apply, Fantasy allows imagination to run wild. True to this idea, Fantasy’s many subgenres can vary from one another a great deal, encompassing just about anything one could imagine, which helps to explain the genre’s ever-growing breadth and depth.

The Court Intrigue subgenre of Fantasy generally focuses on and around royalty and the ruling elite. Settings can be anything from a well known historical backdrop (but with magic or something) to some unrecognizable alternate world but we are almost always going to be dealing with the upper crust of society and their despicable plotting and scheming. The plots of these stories are often complex and heavily entangled with politics, power grabs, espionage, assassinations (successful and attempted), court scandal and everything else that you would expect from a political thriller, but normally set in feudal, medieval-esque surroundings with sorcerers and dragons about.

GOTCoverMIAExamples:

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Author Birthdays – Busy week

William Sydney Porter (aka O. Henry) (b. September 11, 1862, Greensboro, NC; d. June 5, 1910, New York, NY)

The littlest Earp brother?“Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man’s starving!” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: The Gifts of the Magi and his other short fiction

For more information on O. Henry, click here.

 

David Herbert Richards Lawrence (aka D.H. Lawrence) (b. September 11, 1885, Eastwood, UK; d. March 2, 1930, Vence, France)

Before the beard got out of control“Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.” You can find more quotes here.

What you should read: Lady Chatterly’s Lover and Sons and Lovers

For more information on D.H. Lawrence, click here.

 

Sherwood Anderson (b. September 13, 1876, Camden, OH; d. March 8, 1941, Colón, Panama)

Off center picture... does it bother you too?“If people did not want their stories told, it would be better for them to keep away from me.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: Winesburg, Ohio

For more information on Sherwood Anderson, click here.

 

Roald Dahl (b. September 13, 1916, Cardiff, United Kingdom; d. November 23, 1990, Oxford, United Kingdom)

Why did I picture him with a beard?“I find that the only way to make my characters really interesting to children is to exaggerate all their good or bad qualities, and so if a person is nasty or bad or cruel, you make them very nasty, very bad, very cruel. If they are ugly, you make them extremely ugly. That, I think, is fun and makes an impact.” Read more quotes here.

What you should read: Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG

For more on Roald Dahl, his life and his work, click here.

 

John Knowles (b. September 16, 1926, Fairmont, WV; d. November 29, 2001, Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Megamind?“There are simply more young people than there ever were. You get this feeling of strength. Also, large numbers can be a drawback, making it difficult to lose one’s anonymity.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: A Separate Peace

For more information on John Knowles, click here.

 

Robert B. Parker (b. September 17, 1932, Springfield, MA; d. January 18, 2010, Cambridge, MA)

Crime author“College had little effect on me. I’d have been the same writer if I’d gone to MIT, except I’d have flunked out sooner.” You can find more quotes here.

What you should read: Night Passage, The Godwulf Manuscript, Family Honor and Appaloosa

For more information on Robert B. Parker and his books, click here.

 

Ken Kesey (b. September 17, 1935, La Junta, CO; d. November 10, 2001, Eugene, OR)

Doesn't normally look this normal“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” Find more quotes here.

What you should read: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

For more information on Ken Kesey, click here.

Genre Friday!

Helping people find the book (or books) they wanted is great. Helping people find the books that they never knew they wanted is even better!

Introducing Genre Fridays, a quick, once-a-week look at a random genre, subgenre, theme, setting, etc. It may be a genre you love, it may be one you hate, or it may be one that you have never heard of – regardless, here you will get a brief description as well as a few examples of books in the genre. You might just find your next favorite book. Or maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s meant to be horizon broadening so please enjoy.

Alternate History

Alternate history is usually lumped in with science fiction because many, but certainly not all, alternate history stories contain sci-fi elements, but this sometimes-sci-fi subgenre is often thought of as a genre in its own right. Regardless of the presence or influence of science fiction, the stories always revolve around a drastic change to historical events or circumstances. The primary distinction, if a distinction is made at all, between science fiction based alternate history and the larger genre of alternate history is what is causing the alteration to history and how those alterations have played out.

In science fiction-y alternate history the changes occur when a person or group of people (and often their equipment, vehicles and weapons – these types of stories usually deal with some war or military action of the past and often those that are sent back are soldiers themselves) are somehow propelled backwards through time. This can be accomplished through technology or some unknown phenomenon. Another possibility is that the change in history, whatever it was, has led to an anachronistically advanced society or world – these stories often show similarities to the steampunk subgenre of science fiction.

Pure alternate history depicts might-have-been scenarios. History is filled with near-miss situations that the author can easily tweak to say, “what if this crucial situation had been resolved differently?” Common themes once again revolve around military conflicts, most notably; ‘What if the South had won the Civil War?’, or ‘What if the Axis Powers had won World War II?’ Despite being complete speculation these stories are often meticulously researched and are based upon an author’s educated guess at what might have been, skipping all of the more fanciful or improbable elements found in science fiction based alternate history.

Examples:

Alternative History1632 by Eric Flint

How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove

Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp

Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

 

Books People Only Pretend to Have Read

For the last month or so there has been a display up in the fiction section of the Moline Public Library entitled “Top Books People Only Pretend to Have Read.” It’s gone surprisingly well – people have been taking books off of it and everything! So, I decided to expand to the World Wide Web.

It began when staff stumbled upon a few articles online on the topic (sites included BuzzFeed, the Federalist, the Huffington Post, The Telegraph (UK) and io9, to name a few). So we compiled a list and pulled them for the display. Most of them are things you would probably expect – long-winded classics with dense language, most of the angsty Russians, just about everything by Dickens, things that “they” tried to make you read in high school, stuff like that. There were a few surprises though, with Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and the Fifty Shades series all on the list as well. In fact, here is a link to a quick, non-comprehensive list compiled from some of the sites listed above: Lies.

You may be asking, “Who lies about reading a book?” Well, according to a British study cited by thewire.com, over 60% of people questioned admit to lying about reading a book.

“But why?” you ask. First, I think that you are trying too hard to not look like you are one of the people who lie about what they read. All the questions make you seem suspicious, that’s all I’m saying. Second, according to the study, it is mostly just to impress people with how intelligent they are. I think that, with our friends, Harry Potter, Frodo, and Mr. Grey, on the list, we can also safely add being part of the crowd – not wanting to feel like to only person who hasn’t read something – to the list.

Books

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