Friday, July 15, 2016

Why I'm SUDDENLY in Love with China, Herbs, Wittig Albert...

So listen (err, read) to this: I’m addicted to Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles cozy mystery series.  (Say that three times fast.)  Such revelations shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though.  Those who frequent this blog has seen me profusing this through a few past posts, since picking up the second book in Albert's series for #MarchMysteryMadness.  

Nonetheless, my infatuation happened kind of incidentally.  I just happened to pick up China's first case, Thyme of Death, at a used bookstore.  The purchase was a recourse to another on-going series I was reading.  But I was missing an entry, and it wasn't available in store.  However, seeing Albert’s sleuth is a herbalist/ex-lawyer located in the syrupy Southern town of the fictional Pecan Spring, Texas; I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into as I stood there reading the blurb, after the book caught my attention a stack high from where I stood.  

Approaching middle-aged woman with an interesting name.  "China Bayles" has a kick-ass ring to it.  Ex-lawyer now herbalist.  Hmm, I sniff some interesting parallels.  No children.  Little family to call upon.  Dating.  

Rubbing my chin and deep in thought, I asked myself: Was China going to give me cool lady tease?  Will she serve me candor and dry wit with an "over it all" attitude about life (my spirit was calling for this, by the way)?  Or was she going to be a stuffy planter?  Someone stuck in a straw hat while carrying a basket as she pooh-pooh'ed around keeping her hands marginally clean while solving murders (I need a girl who's willing to break glass to get into an office)?  In either case–given the series' herbalist hook–I kind of suspected finding a body in somebody's kitchen garden would eventually ramp up the fun.  So I took the bait and went to McDonald's for some fries.

Needless to say, I fell for Albert’s China Bayles.  With China's split between her former life as a criminal attorney, and now owner of a herb shop, she had plenty to offer those who partake in her troubles.  Secondly, I did find myself identifying with her–though I’m nowhere near the contemporary white woman living somewhere in Texas.  Even so, China and I both have learned to dish a frank and blunt attitude about life and living.  We both like getting to the point of issues and concerns, so we can move right along from there.  We're both walled off from getting close to others, though we acknowledge and fight ourselves to give up our inner guardianship.  And yet, we'll quickly use our ability to sedge out of relationships and social events because it takes too much "work" to maintain.  (Though I won't go into details, this is an area that really captures my attention.  Because China's leveled enough to evolve as a character.)

But on the other end of our psychological conundrum, China and I love a good tea time.  "Tea time" as in exchanging local gossip.  We love investigating and figuring situations out.  We love putting pieces (and people for that matter) together, but of course with a driving curiosity for understanding why people do what they do.  On the flip side, some circumstances and gossip we don't want to be bothered with at all.  

However, there’s one specific place China and I fail to have a connection.  What's that you ask?  Well, she’s working through her many flaws via a relationship with an ex-cop turned professor.  Meanwhile, I'm living through China's frustrations at trying to be the perfect partner in their coupling.  I also enjoy her operating as a "mother-type" to her partner's son.  That's an area I find China really shows growth.  As a stand-in mother, China becomes so much more interesting because she tangles with the upset she received from her own alcoholic mother.  So she has to learn to accept (though cautiously on both parts) her partner's child as her own.  And try to keep pace with if she's making the right decisions, as it pertains to nurturing the kid.  It gets complex, considering she comes from a mother who wasn't present in her childhood.

But, if anything else, I actually enjoy each book's theme on flowers and herbs.  As well as the conversations and bits of information on the subjects.
I read the second book in the series for #MarchMysteryMadness and have since devoured five more books in the series.  For the sake of time and space, I wanted to take this opportunity to do a quick rundown series of posts on my thoughts on each book I've read so far.  I'll update them as I go.  But in the meantime, go get yourself a China Bayles book if you haven't!

Hangman's Root (China Bayles #3)
Rosemary Remembered (China Bayles #4)
Rueful Death (China Bayles #5)
Love Lies Bleeding (China Bayles #6)

I would love to hear from Susan Wittig Albert and China Bayles fans below.  Share.

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