Jilly: Well-Read by Moonlight

Well-read by MoonlightYesterday Michaeline had us writing haiku to the Harvest Moon. She explained that in Japanese culture tonight, 27th September, is the Fifteenth Night of autumn, when it’s traditional to contemplate the beauty of the full moon and wish for a successful harvest. (For more about Jugoya, or Fifteenth Night, click here.)

My brief excursion into haiku territory got me noodling around all things lunar, so in honor of Fifteenth Night, I offer you fifteen (very) loosely moon-related tales for your reading or watching pleasure.

1 Moon Called
The power of the full moon is an essential ingredient in werewolf and shape-shifter legend. I could have filled this entire post with paranormals, but I decided to limit myself to one excellent example. Urban fantasy doesn’t come any better than Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series of werewolves, shifters, fae, witches, and us, playing power games in the Tri-Cities. You can try the first chapter for free on Patricia Briggs’ website here.

2 Bayou Moon
Ilona Andrews’ second book set in The Edge, a swampy buffer zone between the Broken, where humans go about their daily lives believing magic is just a fairytale, and the Weird, a land ruled by powerful, magical blueblooded aristocrats. The heroine and her family are Edgers, underdog swamp-rats with brains, agency and unexpected abilities who find themselves caught in the middle of an escalating conflict between two nations of the Weird.

3 Moon Over Soho
Ben Aaronovitch’s excellent sequel to the wonderful Midnight Riot/Rivers of London, a paranormal police procedural that’s also a history lesson and a love letter to London (warts and all). I even like the first-person POV because the narrator, a mixed-race rookie policeman in the tiny, top-secret Supernatural Crimes division of the Metropolitan Police, has such a fabulous voice. If you haven’t read the first book, you should. If you have, or you haven’t and you don’t mind spoilers, there’s a great review of Moon Over Soho on Dear Author here.

4 Carolina Moon
Nora Roberts murder mystery set in South Carolina. Won the RITA for best romantic suspense in 2001. The blurb includes the phrase “brutal unsolved murder,” and Nora’s stories can be too strong for my delicate sensibilities, but the book’s been published in 58 editions and Nora’s fans run into the millions (tens of millions?) so if you like powerful romantic suspense, maybe this is for you.

5 Moon over Water
Action-packed romantic suspense by Debbie Macomber, set in present-day Yucatan and described on Amazon as An Affair to Remember collides with Romancing the Stone. Our heroine is framed for the theft of an ancient artefact, an army of bad guys is on her tail, but with the help our Our Hero, a retired mercenary, I’m guessing things will turn out okay. I haven’t read any Debbie Macomber, but she’s mega-successful so maybe it’s time to put that right.

6 The Moon-Spinners
Mary Stewart’s very British classic 1960s romantic suspense set in Crete. Here’s another great review at Dear Author – I love the way the write-up captures the feel of Mary Stewart’s super-competent Englishwoman Abroad heroine. These ladies still exist today (I used to work with a woman who would have run the Raj if she’d been born a century earlier; I’m borrowing her steely qualities for my heroine, Mary Burns) and I’m a sucker for them in literature. I haven’t read Mary Stewart in years but it looks as though all her books have been re-issued with cute new covers, so I’m going to buy the lot and treat myself to a trip down memory lane.

7 To the Moon and Back
Romantic comedy by best-selling British author Jill Mansell. I wouldn’t normally go for a story that involves a recently-widowed heroine putting her life back together, sounds like too much sadness in that recipe even if things turn out well, but the book has 299 reviews on Amazon UK including some lengthy Good Book Squees. Take a look here and you’ll get an idea of how much love there is for this book in romance reader-land.

8 Moonstruck
Classic movie: refreshingly unsentimental love story, brilliant dialogue, utterly beautiful shots of the moon above New York, Oscars for Cher, Olympia Dukakis and the writer, John Patrick Shanley, and a script that’s a delight to read. Check it out here.

9 The Moon and Sixpence
W Somerset Maugham’s famous story loosely based on the life of Paul Gauguin, set in London, Paris and Tahiti.

10 The Moon’s a Balloon
Funny, zingy, stylish best-selling memoir of his early life by British actor David Niven. Said to have played fast and loose with the facts in places, but very well-written and highly entertaining, so who cares?

11 The Moon of Gomrath
Sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by British author Alan Garner. Classic children’s fantasy adventure stories drawing on Celtic mythology and ancient magic in a contemporary setting. First published in the early 1960s. I got these books from the children’s library in my hometown many years ago and I clearly remember they were brilliant, but they scared the wits out of me. Now I really want to re-read them. They’re going on my buying spree list, alongside Mary Stewart.

12 Listen to the Moon
Published last year, Michael Morpurgo’s children’s story set in the Scilly Isles during World War I. The reviews are fantastic. I’ll happily read children’s literature but I suspect this might be a tear-jerker. If you loved War Horse, this is for you.

13 Moonraker
Ian Fleming’s third James Bond book, set 1950’s in London, with spies, Bridge, and nuclear missiles. My husband’s idea of a good time. Also a very silly James Bond movie starring Roger Moore in outer space.

14 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Robert Heinlein’s 1966 Hugo Nebula award-winning sci-fi classic, in which a lunar colony fights for independence from Earth with the help of a sentient super-computer. According to this article in the Guardian, X-Men director Robert Singer is currently working on a project to adapt the story for the big screen.

15 The Sentinel
Last but not least, there’s Arthur C. Clarke’s famous short story about the discovery of a mysterious artefact on the moon, left there by ancient aliens. The story was expanded by Clarke and Stanley Kubrick and became the iconic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which the sentinel is activated by sunlight; also starring HAL, another sentient supercomputer.

There should be something for everyone among that collection.

Have I missed any good ones?

8 thoughts on “Jilly: Well-Read by Moonlight

  1. Something for everyone! I remember reading The Moon is a Balloon when I was very young . . . my mom had bought it, and I thought David Niven was wonderful!

    I love moon fairytales, too. There was a really good one that featured a ball gown as beautiful as the moon, and one as beautiful as the sun. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Donkeyskin, but it was very Cinderella-y.

    • I had a vague memory of those ball gowns so I had to check – according to Wikipedia it’s a Brothers Grimm tale called Allerleirauh or All-Kinds-of-Fur, which is similar to Donkeyskin. Our Girl went to the ball in her moonlight dress and the Prince fell in love with her. Here’s the link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allerleirauh. Very Cinderella-ish, but with an incestuous father instead of a wicked stepmother.

  2. I’ve been trying to think of moon stories every since I read this post earlier today – and have failed to think of any more. A gap in the market!

      • I’m up for excellent chick lit, as long as it’s upbeat. A young widow learning to live again sounded as if it might be a weepy kind of feelgood, and I’m a smiley feelgood kind of reader.

        • I’m not fond of weepy – it’s not that. It’s a while since I read it but remember thinking it was Jill Mansell’s best book because the fact the heroine had genuinely loved her late husband gave it extra depth – but completely uplifting, not sad at all.

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