Sunday, February 26, 2012

Catching Up: Two Sea Voyages

With another big author project starting on March 1 (hint: the hashtag will be #dwjmarch), I want to tell you about some of the books that are sitting here on my review stack and get all caught up. Coincidentally, two are about sea voyages though they couldn't be more different.

The first is Bright and Distant Shores by Dominic Smith. This is one that I requested from Atria's galley grab and then promptly forgot about. Then when it arrived and I read the blurb I thought "Who sent this? This book sounds EXACTLY like something I would want to read!" Well, duh, right? I picked it for myself -- which I figured out later that day. Anyway, this is the story of a man who wants to marry a woman high above his station and so he sets off on a voyage to collect artifacts from the South Pacific for a wealthy businessman. From the descriptions of the Chicago World's Fair (which I am now more familiar with after The Devil in the White City) to the missionaries and already-corrupted natives afar, I enjoyed this slow-paced but fulfilling story. Many times when I expected the author to take the plot in a dramatic and predictable direction, he instead chose to keep it in the realm of the believable, if no less compelling, adventures of a ship of exploration. I found this book so readable that I will definitely be looking for copies of Smith's other novels -- The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre and The Beautiful Miscellaneous.

The other book was the fifth in the Charles Lenox Mysteries series, A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch. I last wrote about the series almost a year ago so you can go see my thoughts on it there. Needless to say, I am really enjoying each book and this one was special for its own reasons. It took Charles Lenox out of England and on a Royal Navy boat to Egypt, which I really enjoyed. Because Lenox was a novice on the sea, he asked for explanations for many things that the reader wouldn't know about either. There were some great characters in the book, a couple of murders and plenty of intrigue. And much different than the other novel, this one took off in some crazy directions that led to a fun and tense mystery. I don't know how much longer Finch plans to write these books (he's still rather young) but I hope we still have many Lenox adventures ahead!

Earning my sea legs,


  1. Bright and Distant Shores is an excellent title and this sounds like an excellent book. I love artifacts!

    (I have a theory about your author event and I'd just like to say I am FOR IT.)

  2. Jenny - I didn't even think about it when I was reading your recent posts but Bright and Distant Shores would totally be a good artifact book! There are things that the protagonist is loathe to collect, especially "natives" for a display in Chicago.
    And yes, my author event is what you think it is and it is going to be bittersweet.

  3. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot directions in Bright and Distant Shores, too. I especially loved that the author continues the story after the voyage gets back, so we see how everyone does in Chicago. I thought the natives were just going to be abandoned to their own devices.

  4. The Bright and Distant Shores sounds like a wonderful adventure of a book. It's great when you pick just the right thing to read, isn't it?

  5. Susanna - I agree. I liked that the story was longer than the sea voyage, both before and after!

    Col - It is wonderful to take a chance on an unknown book and then just enjoy it. :)