Monday, January 16, 2017

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: January 17th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings together two generations of women inside a Greenwich Village apartment—a flapper hiding an extraordinary past, and a modern-day Manhattanite forced to start her life anew.

When she discovers her banker husband has been harboring a secret life, Ella Gilbert escapes their sleek SoHo loft for a studio in a quaint building in Greenwich Village. But her new refuge isn't quite what it seems. Her charismatic musician neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement after midnight, when a symphony of mysterious noise strikes up—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano, the occasional bloodcurdling scream—even though it's stood empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the building hosted one of the city’s most notorious speakeasies.

In 1924, Geneva "Gin" Kelly, a quick-witted flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin lands in the office of Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather, Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.

Sired by a wealthy New York scion who abandoned her showgirl mother, Gin is nobody’s fool. She strikes a risky bargain with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent, even though her on-again, off-again Princeton beau, Billy Marshall, wants to make an honest woman of her and heal the legacy of her hardscrabble childhood. Gin's alliance with Anson rattles Manhattan society, exposing sins that shock even this free-spirited redhead—sins that echo from the canyons of Wall Street to the mountain hollers of her hometown.

As Ella unravels the strange history of the building—and the family thread that connects her to Geneva Kelly—she senses the Jazz Age spirit of her incandescent predecessor invading her own shy nature, in ways that will transform her life in the wicked city..."

Obviously I'm buying this because it's Beatriz Williams, but does anyone else think there's something odd going on with that red umbrella and that lady's head?

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: January 17th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another."

Seriously, this is the number one most buzzed about book for about the last six months people.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Adult Coloring Book
Published by: Dark Horse Books
Publication Date: January 17th, 2017
Format: Paperback, 96 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Enter the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the chosen one who wields the skill to fight vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness. Created by the multi-talented Joss Whedon and beloved the world over, your favorite characters and moments from the Buffy television series are all represented in this engrossing adult coloring book. Containing forty-five intricately-detailed original illustrations ready for you can add your own colors to Buffy and the good guys as well as all the big bad guys!

All artwork is original and created explicitly for this official Buffy adult coloring book.

Includes art from such Buffy regulars as Karl Moline, Rebekah Isaacs, Georges Jeanty, Yishan Li, Steve Morris, Newsha Ghasemi, and others!"

I'm not spending too much time coloring Giles, you're spending too much time judging my Giles obsession. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Book Review 2016 #5 - Mata Hari's Last Dance

Mata Hari's Last Dance by Michelle Moran
Published by: Touchstone
Publication Date: July 19th, 2016
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

The woman formerly known as Lady Margaretha MacLeod has come to Paris to reinvent herself. Styled as Mata Hari, the "Eye of the Dawn," she has been trying to get work in the various dance halls. But she is too exotic, too foreign. Little do they know she's just a girl from the Netherlands who can spin a tale. At the last place she auditions, the disreputable L'Ete, she is once again turned away, but her luck is about to change. Edouard Clunet, a respectable and successful lawyer saw her dance and wants to act as her agent. The dance halls aren't the place for Mata Hari, she needs a select and refined audience, one Edouard can introduce her to. Her first production is for Clunet's client, Guimet, who has built a library to house his extensive collections and wants to have a ceremony with two hundred guests to open his Place d'Iena. Mata Hari's dance is a sensation. Her storytelling, her risque dances, they electrify the audience and soon she is coveted by all of Paris to perform at their function. But Clunet is clever, he only chooses the best venues with the best hosts, concerned just as much with Mata Hari's image as with her abilities.

Soon Mata Hari is performing one of a kind shows for the Rothschilds, Jeanne de Loynes, and Givenchy. Her habit to also occupy her host's bed lets Mata Hari accumulate beautiful possessions and living quarters, those that her pricey performance fees don't quite stretch to. She is the name on everyone's lips, so of course she is given opportunities beyond Paris which she jumps at. Madrid, Berlin, never did she think she'd play such lavish locations! But now that she has everything she could ever have wanted she realizes what she misses most, that which she ran away from. Her daughter, Jeanne Louise, whom she left behind with her husband when she fled after the death of their son. She has spent so much of her life telling tales and reinventing herself that to open up to Edouard, to tell him a truth, raw and painful, is a revelation. Her success will continue longer than she ever imagined, but it's her past she can never recapture that she wants most. As time goes on her habits with her lovers and her ability to spin a yarn will catch up to her with the most dire of consequences. Everyone has to face the music in the end.

When I was younger I didn't quite know who Mata Hari was. But then again, being told of a great courtesan doesn't seem like the kind of tale you'd tell as a bedside story to a child. So I had these wild ideas about who she was. A seductress, a storyteller, and a spy, all with the most amazing outfits. Someone out of The Arabian Nights like Scheherazade. Someone from antiquity when Gods walked among the deserts. A grand heroine of myth. The truth is she'd probably like the myth in my mind. It wasn't until much later that I learned the truth of her tragic life. Ironically I didn't learn about Mata Hari in any history class but in the episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles that was written by Carrie Fisher, which should have been subtitled "Indy Gets His Groove On." Here was the beginning of the truth I never knew. The woman I thought relegated to dusty tomes was a "spy" during the first world war! While there are those who'd argue that this is old, to me, if a person was alive in the same century I was born that's pretty recent news. Gone were The Arabian Nights delusions and in their place was this woman who defied convention and died for the greater good.

I think where my erroneous impressions of Mata Hari came from was the fact she was a courtesan. Courtesans seem of an older era, when Kings walked through Versailles and a Maharajah took a woman to bed bedecked with jewels. When you think of the turn of the past century when a woman slept around or had a lover she was a mistress or worse. But mistress doesn't do Mata Hari justice. Neither does any of the more derogatory slurs that could be mentioned. She was a true courtesan. She was well educated, skilled, and able to tell the most intoxicating stories. So she accepted gifts of jewels and property, these were never payment, they weren't even really a transaction of any kind, more a thank you for a good seduction. She lived outside the expectations of society. Or at least the expectations of a woman in society. She acted more like a man when it came to whom she took to bed. It was all about desire, hers and theirs, and if they happened to look really fabulous in a uniform, all the better.

By living outside of the proscribed norms it was interesting in how I related to Mata Hari. As in, I didn't relate to her AT ALL. I mean, sure spending a night on your back or a day dancing to be draped in jewels might be some people's ideal life, just not mine. The truth is, she's not the most likable person. It's not just that her morals don't jive with mine, it's something more, something deep down that while I can be fascinated by her I would never like her. In fact, I found it interesting that Mata Hari kind of reminded me of Linda Radlett from Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love. They are both very acquisitive beings who like the finer things in life and don't scruple when it comes to what they want to do. While I like to view myself as carving out my own life, I'd never go for such a drastic trailblazing method. But that is what makes Mata Hari so interesting. She goes big or goes home. More than that though she really knows how to craft a tale. Her lies are so intoxicating and fascinating, that while you might balk at her life choices, you have to admire her style.

Where Moran's storytelling surpasses Mata Hari's is in showing the real purpose of all Mata Hari's storytelling, to mask her pain. Mata Hari's life growing up as Margaretha Zelle, later MacLeod, wasn't the smoothest of journeys to be sure. The situations that she was forced into by the abandonment of her family at a young age eventually resulting in her early marriage would be events best forgotten. When this is compounded by the death of her beloved son you can see why she ran away and rewrote her own story. Many people would give anything to be able to rewrite their past, even pasts not nearly as traumatic as that lived by Mata Hari. A new city, a new name, a new past. She did a marvelous job reinventing herself and creating a legend. But legends are rarely relatable. Through her writing Moran lets us see behind the veil and while you might never quite come to terms with and like Mata Hari, you really feel for her. Her struggles, her pains, her decisions, even the atrocious ones, you just get it, and that's what historical fiction is about, connecting to another person in another place and time.

As for whether Mata Hari was killed because she was a spy? Well, I'm not of the harsh opinion Wikipedia holds that she was too naive and stupid to be a double agent. Because if anything her reinvention shows that she was a clever woman who knew what she wanted and got it. I agree with Moran's inference that Mata Hari's downfall was a judgment on her as a person versus any knowledge or secrets she might have held. Mata Hari didn't fit into the standard mold. She was a woman who lived her life as she wished. Certain men in power couldn't handle this. The world was at war and people were expected to toe the line and behave or all would be lost. Mata Hari went from being a juicy topic of conversation used to titillate to a wanton woman who was out to steal your husband. She was judged for what she did and paid the ultimate price. So what if men did what she did all the time, she was a woman and therefore her death was for the greater good. Yes, her ability to spin stories did come back to bite her on the ass, because she had a honeyed tongue and could make anything sound like truth so how could you believe a word she said? But what this book made me realize is that her story still resonates. She was a woman who lived her life outside of societies expectations and paid for it. Therefore I give you Mata Hari, a true feminist icon! She died for the cause, and can that be said about Isadora Duncan?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review 2016 #6 - Ursula K. Le Guin's The Tombs of Atuan

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin
Published by: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: 1971
Format: Hardcover, 422 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)

Tenar doesn't remember her life before. A life filled with love and apple trees. She has even forgotten her name. She is the One Priestess of the Tombs reborn in the service of The Nameless Ones. She is now Arha, "the eaten one." Her life of abnegation began at six. Lonely and cold and devoid of friends her days are filled with worship and dark rituals to The Nameless Ones, who dwell beneath the hall of the throne in the place of the tombs. Each day is much the same, passing in routine and ritual in windowless rooms. When she is fifteen, a year after crossing into womanhood and coming into her full powers, she is finally permitted into the undertomb. What should be a wonderful experience, entering her true domain of the tombs and the labyrinth that follows becomes one of her worst memories as she was brought there to punish prisoners of the Godking. Prisoners she leaves to starve to death.

This memory is like ashes in her mouth and she withdraws from the world above of petty conflicts and power struggles seeking comfort in the tombs and in the labyrinth beyond. It is there that her endless days of monotony suddenly change. For it is there she sees a Wizard! She knows instantly what he is and that he is there to steal from her, seeking the long-lost half of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. The magical ring which, once whole, will bring peace to all of Earthsea. But for now he has brought light into the darkness, her darkness, and she traps him behind the iron door at the start of the labyrinth. Yes, the Ring is in the labyrinth but only Arha can navigate it. So the labyrinth shall be the wizard's tomb, if Arha decides to let him die. She is oddly fascinated with this man. She has lived all her life in seclusion with females all with only one point of view. Here is an outsider who has a different viewpoint and who might just open her eyes. But has Tenar lived in the dark for too long?

There are books that you struggle with initially but eventually pay off in such spectacular fashion that all that you went through was worth it. The Tombs of Atuan is just such a book. Reading the Earthsea series consecutively like I did The Tombs of Atuan is a drastic shift from A Wizard of Earthsea. It's far more formal with a dense backstory about Godkings and Nameless Ones and religion. Not to mention that Arha is hard to initially relate to. She's very standoffish. But you just have to get under her skin, get past all her training that stripped her personality away and watch as she struggles to become someone she can like. As many have pointed out, this is basically the companion story to Ged's journey to becoming a Wizard in A Wizard of Earthsea, what with shifting from a male to a female protagonist. But I think it's so much more. Yes, you could say it's because I'm a girl so that I could relate more, but I felt like Le Guin took Tenar on a greater journey than she did with Ged. Yes Ged traveled and ran from his mistake, but Tenar was there day after day facing her mistake and working out who she was. It was a far more satisfying journey. Sometimes it's about inner change more than anything that makes a story work.

What also helped was that while Ged was important, he was put on the back burner. He wasn't the focus at all just a conduit for Tenar's change. What I find fascinating with this decision of Le Guin's is that she takes a character that we know well after reading A Wizard of Earthsea and makes him mysterious again. Yes, some time has elapsed and he has aged, but he's still Sparrowhawk. Seeing him though Tenar's eyes makes you feel like you're seeing him for the first time all over again. While I do love series where I can follow the entire journey of the characters I love from beginning to end, this time lapse that Le Guin utilizes makes this second book so fresh that I actually heart it way more than the first volume. You could guess what Ged was up to down in the labyrinth and all his plans, but in the end, everything that happened to him hinged on what Tenar did. Seeing her fascinated with and then eventually coming to trust Ged makes you, as a reader, more fascinated with Ged than you ever have before. It's interesting that in stepping back you see more clearly. Personally, I didn't want this story to end. They could have stayed in that maze forever just talking.

Yet it wasn't just the change in perspective that made The Tombs of Atuan so compulsively readable, it was that the location changed and with it the style. Earthsea is basically a generic fantasy land that is predominately water. Yes, it's kind of an unfair generalization, because each island is so unique, but as a whole it's built from the blueprints of other fantasy stories. Here the basis is less fantasy and more adventure. More H. Rider Haggard and Elizabeth Peters. Dusty old cultures whose bloodthirsty customs are a danger to the more enlightened times we are now in. Once I realized and embraced this I came to adore this book. I think this was where I had problems initially connecting. This book is SO different from it's predecessor that it's kind of a culture shock. But what makes it amazing is all the ways it's different from A Wizard of Earthsea. I felt like I was reading some of my favorite Egyptian stories about gods and temples and a plucky heroine. Add to that an underground maze that is so awesome and has so many connotations from all different mythologies and made me think of everything from Labyrinth to Jim Henson's The Storyteller and this book appealed to both the child and the adult in me. I only wish I had read it sooner.

Though the reveal of the connection between Ged's and Tenar's stories is what just blew me away. I have to fully admit that I was reading these books while sick so I might have been a bit slow on the uptake, but when I realized who exactly were Tenar's Gods I was in awe. Yet again did Le Guin make the known mysterious. In A Wizard of Earthsea Ged is fighting an Unnamed force. Victory is achieved by naming it. Tenar is in service to The Nameless Ones. In other words, literally, another way of saying Unnamed. Please do not mock my inability to connect them immediately, as I said, I was sick, but also I think the way the story is written it's made to ingeniously hide something in plain sight. None of Tenar's beliefs seem evil or dangerous at first, so why would her Gods be dangerous? It's only as she grows and learns that it becomes obvious that her Gods might not be kind ones. To then learn they are the world destroying evil that Ged faced? Epic reveal. Plus, it's rather an indictment on religion. To learn that you are serving the forces of darkness? That could quite mess with your mind.

Which leads to the message of The Tombs of Atuan, the very heart of it's maze. This book is all about guilt and redemption. Tenar, in sentencing those prisoners to death set herself on a path. A path she didn't like. The way she takes care of and treats Ged, keeping her prisoner alive and eventually freeing him breaks her chains. She is able to redeem herself through doing an act of kindness, by doing good. While she didn't know that the forces she served were malign, she was able to search her own conscience and realized that what she did didn't make her feel good. Think of the power this book would have on a young reader. If you are trapped in a bad situation there is always hope. There is always a chance to make tomorrow better. I know it might be trite, but it's so true that reading opens your mind. Reading makes you more empathetic, more able to feel and understand and just get it. That's why I never trust people who say they don't like reading. They are shutting themselves off from feeling from becoming the best human being they can be. Read this book and I dare you not to be moved to be better to do better to question everything and to find the right path for yourself.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review 2016 #7 - Daphne Du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
Published by: Virago Press
Publication Date: 1941
Format: Paperback, 260 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)

Dona St. Columb has tired of court. What she did with Rockingham shames her. It wasn't an infidelity against her husband Harry, it was a stupid prank that scared an old lady. A prank that has made her rethink her life, fleeing with her two children to Cornwall and Navron. Perhaps reconnecting with nature and leaving the din of London behind will help her to find a new Dona, one she can like. She hasn't been back to her husband's estate of Navron since they were first married; aside from the painting of herself hanging in the master bedroom it is quite different. There's only one servant, the almost impudent but ultimately amusing William, who seems to have run the household according to his whims. Soon Dona starts to suspect William of having another master other than her husband. There are artifacts left in her room that hint at another occupant while she was roistering in London.

But that partying Dona is gone, replaced by one reveling in the trill of a bird call and the smell of a flower. Therefore the Cornish society trying to thrust themselves on her is very unwelcome. Lord Godolphin and his ilk whinging on about French pirates are of no interest to her. Especially when she has formed a bond with the very pirate they hunt. The Frenchman is William's true master and is the one who has been sleeping in Dona's bed while she was away. She stumbled upon his ship, La Mouette, hidden in a creek near Navron. She could have given them up, told the law the secret base of the pirates, instead she joins the crew. With William as her conspirator every moment she can spare is spent with the Frenchman. They fish, they talk, he draws birds and Dona. But soon he must take again to the high seas and Dona wants to accompany him. Will his latest heist bring the law down on him or will he and Dona sail off into the sunset?

Frenchman's Creek was one of a very few books by Daphne Du Maurier that was available stateside when I was growing up, and yet it never caught my interest. I think again it's down to the misapplied moniker of "Romance Author" that Du Maurier was forever burdened with. A problem that isn't just with Du Maurier's unwelcome title but with me. For years I've often dismissed a book because it was labelled a romance. At least by this time in my life I'm willing to not let a book's genre classification sway me. Yet of all Du Maurier's books I've read this is the most romantic, but it's romantic in a way similar to The Princess Bride. There's just so much more than the romance that to brand it as such does the book a disservice. Though, playing devil's advocate, in the Frenchman, Jean-Benoit Aubéry, Du Maurier has created perhaps the ideal romantic hero. He is a classic, a paragon of the romantic ideal. He has poetry in his soul and the desire to capture nature on paper. Who wouldn't want to run away with him?

Even if years ago I could have brought myself to look past the "romance" label of the book I think the period aspect of it would have tripped me up. Frenchman's Creek is set during The Restoration, a time in England where the return of the monarchy and Charles II to the throne spurred a cultural and artistic revolution; as well as a lot of debauchery and excess. I studied this in two different history classes in college, as well as reading a plethora of plays from this time period in my theatre classes, I did mention artistic revolution didn't I? This was heavily in the theatre arena. At this point I hadn't actually hit saturation, that was to come with Charles II: The Power and the Passion. I had REALLY been looking forward to this miniseries airing and at about hour three I was flagging... in fact at about three and a half hours I reached a point where my love of Rufus Sewell couldn't compete with my boredom. So this Restoration revulsion that took place in me made me avoid Frenchman's Creek for too long because it is so fresh and so entertaining that it goes beyond the period trappings to be a timeless tale.

If I were to describe this book to someone who had a slight grasp of Du Maurier's canon I'd say Frenchman's Creek is the opposite of Jamaica Inn. Jamaica Inn is all about a good girl thrown in amongst scoundrels who are evil and bad ship-wreckers, whereas Frenchman's Creek is about a bad girl thrown in amongst pirates who do a world of good for her and are really not that bad a group of fellows. The genius of Du Maurier is that she can write two completely opposite stories and yet make you fall completely in love with both of them. In Jamaica Inn you were praying for Mary to be saved by the kindly gentry, yet here, here the gentry are fools who are to be laughed at and mocked and you are with Dona all the way as she schemes to steal from them with her Frenchman. What's more is that if you think on Dona she's an interesting character. Over the course of the book she turns away from her husband and her children and yet you are rooting her on. You sympathize enough with her that you WANT her to become a pirate. You are complicit in her crimes and you love every dangerous heart-stopping moment. Leave the children behind, take to the high seas!

And it's that desire to leave your life behind that clues you into the deeper meaning of Frenchman's Creek. Just below the surface of all Du Maurier's books you always see her. Even if she didn't openly acknowledge it she used her books as therapy. In Rebecca she dealt with the duality of a wife, who she was meant to be versus who she really was. Here it's the masculine versus the feminine self. She always viewed her creative impulses as masculine, and therefore Dona constantly referring to her adventurous side as masculine, as a cabin boy, makes sense in relation to Du Maurier. This desire to go out into the world, to please yourself, to seek adventure, to do, was in Du Maurier's mind a male impulse. Whereas the homemaker, the mother, that was the feminine self. In the atrocious TV Movie Daphne, you get the barest glimpse into her acting on her male instincts with Gertrude Lawrence. But, like Dona in the end, Du Maurier chose hearth and home, going back to her family. She may have tapped into her male side from time to time, but it was the female side that won out. But more importantly, it's the way she has dramatized this and her other struggles that have left us with such an impressive body of work. Here's to the writer with issues!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tuesday Tomorrow

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Veronica Speedwell returns in a brand new adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries...

London, 1887. Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task—saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman’s noose in a week’s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer—a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia’s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime. From a Bohemian artists’ colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed...."

For the second Veronica Speedwell book we get a new design. Which I like SO MUCH!

The Guests on South Battery by Karen White
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"New York Times bestselling author Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away...

With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie’s backyard on Tradd Street.

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried...."

I really need to delve into Karen White after reading The Forgotten Room!

Dead Cold Brew by Cleo Coyle
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"THE PERFECT PROPOSAL LEADS TO A CHILLING COLD CASE...

Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi sheds tears of joy when her NYPD detective boyfriend surprises her with an engagement ring. But her bridal bliss is put on hold when a chilling mystery brings a wave of deadly danger to those she holds dear...

After everything Clare and Mike have been through, they deserve a little bit of happily ever after. So when Mike decides to put a ring on Clare's finger, Clare's eccentric octogenarian employer is there to help. She donates the perfect coffee-colored diamonds to include in the setting and the name of a world-famous jeweler who happens to be an old family friend. But while the engagement is steeped in perfection, the celebration is not long lived.

First, a grim-faced attorney interrupts their party with a mysterious letter bequeathing a strange, hidden treasure to Clare's daughter. Next, the renowned jeweler who designed Clare's ring is found poisoned in his shop. Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a suspiciously charming jewel thief, and a shocking family secret. With deadly trouble brewing, Clare must track down clues in some of New York's most secret places before an old vendetta starts producing fresh corpses.

With recipes to die for, including how to make cold-brew coffee at home!"

For my friend Paul. And yes. I will start this series soon.

The Cold Eye by Laura Anne Gilman
Published by: Saga Press
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the anticipated sequel to Silver on the Road, Isobel is riding circuit through the Territory as the Devil's Left Hand. But when she responds to a natural disaster, she learns the limits of her power and the growing danger of something mysterious that is threatening not just her life, but the whole Territory.

Isobel is the left hand of the old man of the Territory, the Boss—better known as the Devil. Along with her mentor, Gabriel, she is traveling circuit through Flood to represent the power of the Devil and uphold the agreement he made with the people to protect them. Here in the Territory, magic exists—sometimes wild and perilous.

But there is a growing danger in the bones of the land that is killing livestock, threatening souls, and weakening the power of magic. In the next installment of the Devil’s West series, Isobel and Gabriel are in over their heads as they find what’s happening and try to stop the people behind it before it unravels the Territory."

So, "cold" seems to be a theme this week... who am I to question it though?

Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen by George Mann
Published by: Titan Comics
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 128 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"For the Cybermen's 50th Anniversary... YOU WILL BE DELETED! This incredible one-off event brings multiple Doctors battling through time to fight the unstoppable Cybermen!

Exiled from Gallifrey at the very end of Time, Rassilon, fallen leader of the Time Lords, has been captured by the last of the Cybermen. Now the Cybermen have access to time travel. With it, every defeat is now a victory. Every foe is now dead -- or Cyberised.

The Legions march across time and space, leaving devastation and converted civilisations in their wake, their numbers growing with every world that falls. Evolving. Upgrading. Reconfiguring. All seems lost. Forever.

Can the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors - each battling the Cybermen alone, on a different temporal front - undo the damage that has been wrought on the universe, before they are converted themselves? Or is this how the universe dies? Not in fire, but in cold, unfeeling metal..."

Um, my friend George writing a comic about multiple Doctors? Hells yes.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review 2016 #8 - Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Published by: Virago Press
Publication Date: 1938
Format: Paperback, 448 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and chain upon the gate... Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done."

As she looks back on the twists and turns that brought her to Manderley, the second Mrs. de Winter can't help but wonder how her life ended up as it did. She had resigned herself to an existence as a paid companion trailing behind whomever had hired her, the reprehensible Mrs. Van Hoppper being her employer at the beginning of her story. That all changed when Maxim de Winter entered her life in his fast car. He was in the south of France fleeing the memories of his dead wife Rebecca and the one thing that blotted her out was the young girl who would become his second wife. Yet perhaps their union was foolish, or Maxim's dream to return to Manderley was unwise. Because back in England their life is haunted by the memories of his first wife, Rebecca. The specter that is hallowed by the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, and is a constant comparative presence for the new wife. Could Rebecca destroy their happiness from beyond the grave? Or will Rebecca need a little assistance from Mrs. Danvers?

When I was young my mother subscribed to The Franklin Library Mystery Masterpieces. Each month a new book would arrive and we'd set it in pride of place on our console bookshelf that housed our most prized possessions, this being the eighties it mainly housed records and our record player. The little nine year old that I was loved that each month another volume would come and expand the display on that orangey wood that just glowed with an inner light. Then one day The Franklin Library sent us the biggest box I had ever seen. They were discontinuing the Mystery Masterpieces and they sent us the remaining volumes all at once. At this time we probably had only ten volumes, so forty-two books showed up one day to our great astonishment and delight.

Until recently these books have been packed away as self space was scare; all but a few choice volumes which I had secreted away. When I was young I loved to spend time reading the spines and looking at the pictures and wondering what the books were about and making up my own stories, especially about The Thirty-Nine Steps, which really disappointed me when I found out what it was really about. When they first arrived I was too young to read most of the titles, and when I was older I was too into movies to bother with books. That all changed. Obviously. But Rebecca, the movie, was like a gateway drug. I adored the film and then I looked on our shelf. There was Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, one of the first books we'd gotten in this series, after the obligatory Agatha Christie volume that is. This particular edition would make it's way into my library and my heart.

Rebecca is that rare book that cries out to be read and re-read over and over again, each time a different interpretation and meaning unearthed. The opening line that transports you, like a dream, to Manderley. You can get lost in the happy valley among the flowers and never want to return from those magical pages. But I don't think that you truly get the book's greatness without knowing the context of Du Maurier's world, mainly her obsession with the Brontes. This is much in the vein of why people don't realize the genius of Northanger Abbey, which is a parody of the Gothic genre, not "serious" like Austen's other books! Du Maurier's first book, The Loving Spirit, takes it's name from a poem by Emily Bronte. More then twenty years after writing Rebecca her misguided biography on Branwell Bronte was published and forever secured her connection to them. Therefore the echoes of Jane Eyre that haunt Rebecca should not be thought a surprise or the least bit unintentional. Du Maurier was writing a new classic that would pay homage to and reflect Jane Eyre. A Jane Eyre for modern sensibilities, if you will.

Just as Jamaica Inn is the Wuthering Heights, so is Rebecca to Jane Eyre, just look at the similarities. The naive young girl ready for love, the misanthropic hero, the crazy wife, the destructive fire. What amazes me is that if you look at just the building blocks of these books they should be eerily similar, yet they aren't. Each book is a classic in it's own right, but the ghost of Jane Eyre isn't the only ghost that Rebecca tackles, after all there is Rebecca herself. While there is that chilling line delivered by Mrs. Danvers "Do you think the dead come back and watch the living?" What we think of as ghosts can take many forms. There are no spectral apparitions here, no things that go bump in the night, but that doesn't mean Rebecca doesn't haunt Manderley.

Rebecca recurs persistently in the consciousness of the second Mrs. de Winter causing her distress and anxiety, but she is also the bosom friend of Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers, more then anyone, works to keep Rebecca alive and in doing so makes her specter part of the foundation of Manderley itself. This is an interesting conceit on Du Maurier's part, because really, this is a ghost story without a ghost. The memory and emotion left behind is what haunts us, and if anyone could do this, it's Rebecca. As Captain Jack Harkness said on Torchwood, "Human emotion is energy. You can't always see it or hear it, but you can feel it. Ever had deja vu? Felt someone walk over your grave? Ever felt someone behind you in an empty room? Well there was. There always is."

Yet Rebecca isn't the only ghost. There's another person who haunts Manderley, she is always there, ever present, but in the shadow of Rebecca. I am of course talking about the second Mrs. de Winter. She is but mere shadow, a trace, a semblance of a person. She in fact has no name but that which Rebecca had, Mrs. de Winter. This is the most fascinating aspect of the book and many others have discussed it's importance, that the heroine has no name. One result of this namlessness is that she is a ghost, a cipher, a way to tell Rebecca's story through new eyes but without complicating the matter by creating a character with backbone.

Of course this is a two edged sword, on the one hand Du Maurier is pushing the second Mrs. de Winter into the background, but on the other hand by creating a blank slate, a character who has no real "character" we are able to put ourselves more easily into her shoes. This literary trick, I mean, really, I want to stand and applaud Du Maurier. By giving use this conduit there are so many ramifications to the narrative. By being one with the second Mrs. de Winter you therefore embrace Maxim, her husband, and therefore not just identify but condone his actions. The genius of Rebecca is that Daphne Du Maurier has made you complicit in murder and you loved every second of it.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Book Review 2016 #9 - Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden's Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire

Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Published by: Spectra
Publication Date: August 28th, 2007
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Captain Henry Baltimore led a night attack in the Ardennes that would forever change the world. As his entire battalion is cut down he survives the initial onslaught but is left to die with a leg wound. Out of the night sky comes large bat-like creatures, carrion eaters to feast on the dead. But there's something not right about them. One sees Baltimore and decides that he will be his feast. Lashing out Baltimore injures the creature but in return the creature destroys his leg. Later in hospital, a man appears beside his bed, and Baltimore knows he's one and the same to the creature on that battlefield. This "man" tells Baltimore that he knows not what he has done and the world will pay for the injury Baltimore inflicted on him. After this incident there are three people that Baltimore confides this story to, his three friends; Captain Demetrius Aischros, Thomas Childress, and Dr. Lemuel Rose. They know not of each other until one night when Baltimore asks them to meet him in a pub whose air of decrepitude and despair matches that of the rest of the world since the plague took hold and the Great War became of no consequence in the face of this new threat.

There they sit, waiting for Baltimore. In the interim they tell their stories because it is obvious that in order to have believed Baltimore's story, without hesitation, they too must have had some experience of this supernatural evil that walks the earth. Dr. Rose, besides treating Baltimore, also treated a man who believed he was responsible for the death of all the men he was stationed with. Dr. Rose couldn't believe this to be the case, but after a night in the woods keeping watch, believing Baltimore later was a given. Captain Aischros helped escort Baltimore home after he was invalided out of the war, if he wasn't convinced by what he saw on Baltimore's island home he was by an experience years earlier. Aischros recounts a tale from his youth when he was walking the coast of Italy and came upon the town of Cicagne, famed for their puppet shows, and barely escaped with his life. Childress is the last to tell his tale, having grown up with Baltimore on Trevelyan Island, he knew Baltimore all his life, but it was an incident while working for his own father's company in Chile that opened his eyes. They talk and wait hours, the pub becoming oppressive. They aren't sure if Baltimore is going to show, but they feel the final battle with the monster from that day in the Ardennes is at hand.

If you are a fan of good art and good storytelling then the only explanation for not knowing who Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden are would be that you've spent the last few decades under a rock. While I knew of them individually, in fact meeting Christopher Golden at a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Convention in upstate New York and fangirling over his videogame script, it was in a roundabout way that I learned about Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire. Before I started this blog I was very cunning in getting press passes for events. In February of 2007 I was supposed to go to the New York Comic Con with a friend of mine but the train from Chicago to New York was snowbound and the trip was cancelled because I wouldn't be able to make it in time. I insisted that my friend go and meet Christopher Golden knowing she would love him as much as me and it so happened that he was signing posters for a new collaboration with Mike Mignola. I still have the signed poster on my office wall next to my computer. Beautifully enlarged drawings from Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire of the church in Reveka and the church interior at Cicagne, and a weeping angel that would forever slightly freak me out after the Doctor Who episode "Blink" aired later that year. THIS I knew was a book written and illustrated just for me.

What is interesting about these two authors collaborating is that both are very familiar with vampires. Mike Mignola worked on the inadvertently hilariously awesome Bram Stoker's Dracula as well as Blade II, and the Angel comics. Whereas Christopher Golden, besides writing the scripts for both Buffy the Vampire Slayer Video Games also wrote comics and books for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. So their individual and combined vampire street cred could hardly be surpassed. But what struck me so much about this book was that it wasn't just a way to shoehorn vampires into the first world war, a time when these opportunistic creatures could flourish, instead it was almost a reinvention of the vampire for a new generation. They were carrion eaters awoken by the violence of men further spurred onto creating a destructive plague by violence against one of their own, The Red King. They lived in a symbiotic relationship with man, feeding off their dead and dying. Rarely are vampires shown as creatures there to keep the balance, keep the scales from tipping. The Red King in fact lays all the vengeful ills that have befallen mankind on Baltimore lashing out to save himself on that battlefield. It's almost as if the plague is a result of hurt pride, making the vampires pitiable more than anything else.

This spin of the morals of the vampires isn't the only way that this book stands head and shoulders above the rest. The main attraction for me was that this book reeked of Victorian Christmas ghost stories. The three men thrown together around a fire while the bleakness of the day bares down on them and they tell their terrifying stories couldn't have been more Dickensian if Dickens had written it himself. I literally couldn't contain my joy as a read this book into the late hours with chills going down my spin thinking that finally someone had written my own personal The Turn of the Screw, but with vampires and the Great War and totally not a lame premise! Seeing as I read so many stories with vampires predictability of plot and worldbuilding becomes problematic. You either have it modern, which can work, though I often like it without the tweaks to our world, or you can go all Bram Stoker. It's like there's an either or switch and you're not allowed in that middle ground. But that middle ground is where the best stories can be found. Think of one of the best episodes of Angel ever, "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been." It was set during the height of McCarthyism and was approached in a whole new way. It wasn't Victorian stodginess and it wasn't new and hip. Much like here, we have a new spin that is quite fascinating and is able to harken back to the origin story yet while still keeping the feeling of another era.

This ability of the authors to not only capture but understand the era they are writing about and tweaking just made me giddy. Let's look at the basics. The Great War resulted in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic which actually killed more people than the war itself. So World War I is forever linked to a horrible plague, The Spanish Flu. But what Golden and Mignola do here is to cleverly expand on this. What if the flu had been worse? What if this plague was supernatural in origin? What if it wasn't just supernatural but was a vampire with a severe grudge for getting his face a little scarred? The truth is, they have taken real events and made a believable extrapolation of events to their worst possible outcome. I know I shouldn't be so happy about a vampire plague descending on the world, but they just wrote it so well. They made a compelling alternate history. If you want to extrapolate further you could even take this into World War II. Now you're probably thinking I'm talking crazy, but think about it. World War II was inevitable as soon as we placed such hard sanctions on the Germans. We created our own worst enemy and we made Germany want another war. Here Baltimore by lashing out at The Red King to save himself creates the plague. Sometimes in trying to protect we make matters far worse and the ramifications impossible to foresee. Plague, World War II, you see?

With all that this book has going for it, the feeling of Poe, the more relevant yet completely original vampire, the Dickensian Christmas, I wonder if perhaps the drawings weren't a step to far. Yes, I don't think it would be a true collaboration without the drawings, but I don't really think there needed to be so many. More judiciously used illustrations better positioned would have worked better in my opinion perhaps with some red as a spot color. Yes, this seems counter intuitive with me picking up the book in the first place because of the illustrations, but they just don't really work for me. I felt they were unnecessary. My main problem was that these images were forcing us to view the story in a certain way and that's not right. Words evoke images in the reader's imagination and it's the work of these readers to create the scene in their heads. To people the world of the book as we see fit. But here we are meant to view the language in a proscribed manner. Thus making the book closer to the graphic novel end of the spectrum. Don't get me wrong, I love graphic novels, they just use a different part of the brain, one where image is primary and text is secondary, and if we're lucky they merge into a cohesive whole. Instead here Mignola's illustration would draw me out of the text make me think allowed that that isn't how I saw it and also realize that if you've seen one skull or one peaked rooftop you've probably seen them all. I am interested to see how they transitioned this book into a series of comics... perhaps that will be the proper outlet for the drawings. Whereas the story? The story is something you shouldn't miss. Just never mind that skull or that one or that other one.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Review 2016 #10 - Kate Morton's The Lake House

The Lake House by Kate Morton
Published by: Atria Books
Publication Date: October 20th, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 512 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

Midsummer has always been celebrated at Loeanneth with a grand gala. The lake house is strewn with lanterns and gondolas float on the river with fireworks dazzling the night sky above the great bonfire. While the Edevane family might enjoy their solitude in Cornwall, they still keep this tradition alive. It is 1933 and this will be the last year the family holds this celebration. Soon the house will be shuttered and it will be a time capsule of that night; the night everything changed. Young Alice Edevane would usually be reveling in these festivities, but this year is different. She no longer has time for Mr. Llewellyn, artist in resident and family friend, or her mother who wants her to help with preparations. She only has time for two things, plotting her first mystery novel and Ben. Ben is the gardener and she fancies herself in love with him. He listens raptly when she tells him about her book and talks to her like an equal. But could her book be what destroyed everything? Because in the wee hours of the night her baby brother Theo was taken from his crib. Seventy years later the case remains unsolved. Alice is now a successful mystery writer but she has never resolved what happened to her baby brother. Enter Sadie Sparrow. She's on leave from the MET with a forced vacation in Cornwall at her grandfather's house. Yet she can't sit still. Sadie stumbles on Loeanneth and the cold case consumes her. Will a fresh set of eyes find the truth of that long ago midsummer night?

There are times in your life when you just need to get away from reality and hide in a book. Sometimes it works and you fall into the story and it consumes you. Other times it backfires on you and all the troubles you were trying to escape are reflected back at you through this medium. Not only is the book too close for comfort, but once you put it down you'll be faced with reality again. Which is the situation I found myself in with Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, leading to me not being one of the worshipful majority. But that's another story for another time. When I finally picked up The Lake House it was precisely the book I needed at just the right time. It had just enough mystery with just the right level of predictability that I wanted to stay there as long as possible. I usually devour a book in a matter of days, but here I spent a week, taking my time and having a well deserved respite from reality. I languished at Loeanneth. The book became so much a part of me that I dreamt of Cornwall. I remember quite vividly being in the half-dream state where I wasn't quite fully awake but I had already started to leave my dream behind and hearing the garbage trucks making their morning rounds. The beeps were confusing and incongruous to me. There was still a part of me that knew they were garbage trucks, but my thoughts were consumed with the fact they didn't belong. The technology didn't exist yet and they would never spoil the idyll that was the lake house, because that is where I was. I haven't had this kind of dream disassociation since years ago when I thought some crop dusters were Messerschmidt's, again another story for another time.

Kate Morton's books aren't for everyone. In fact they only occasionally work for me. They spend loving detail on atmosphere and if you are more interested in narrative, well you can feel like you are languishing in a story with no forward momentum. The mysteries Morton concocts are very pedestrian. Her own creation, Alice Edevane, would weep for their simplicity. In fact the only thing that didn't ring true to me in The Lake House is that Alice Edevane is this grand dame of mystery writers the likes of P.D. James and Ruth Rendell yet she was never able to solve this mystery in her own life. Yes, you could say it's because she didn't want to know the truth, but that seems cliched. But the truth you need to remember in Morton's book is the mystery is always secondary. Yes, she did a better job this time of spacing out the clues so just when you thought nothing would progress, bam, new evidence showed up on the scene. That doesn't mean I didn't figure it out hundreds of pages earlier, but I liked the pacing. I also liked the characters, I felt like they were more fleshed out in this tale. Morton likes to have the old lady with these wonderful stories and secrets that must be passed on or solved by younger generations. It's her thing, it's her trope. But here Alice was so alive. She was the spark that kept things together. She's a spunky old lady who plays her cards close to her chest, and I just loved that. Instead of a dead aunt, a mother on her deathbed, or an old lady in a nursing home, the elderly lady this time around was active not passive and it made a huge difference.

While having the disappearance of the one Edevane son as the fulcrum this book is really about women. Particularly the bond between mothers and daughters and all the shapes and forms these bonds come in. I liked that we had mothers who knew the best thing for their child was to let them go, while also having mothers so selfish they pushed their daughter away for the sake of their own appearance. It really cast a light on the fact that there's not just one single and simple way that mothers and daughters interact. People are so different and to assume that their relationships are all the same is folly. What is also interesting is to see how the mother daughter relationship is formed by experience and also by society's conventions and how those conventions have changed over time. The relationship between Alice's mother and grandmother, women of the previous century, was more staid and reserved, because of the time and also a tragedy Alice's grandmother endured. Going forward Alice's mother wants to have a better relationship with her own daughters but realizes that her husband stands in the way of her being the "fun" parent and therefore sadly accepts her fate. Then we look to Sadie and how her own mother threw her out because Sadie got pregnant and opted to give the baby up for adoption. Just a few women, and yet their relationships are so complex and we are given insight into each one, we get to understand if not empathize with how they lived and loved.

But if I'm honest what really intrigued me with The Lake House was the real life parallels. Theo's disappearance has parallels to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, which the book doesn't shy away from pointing out. There's something about these unsolved crimes that echo down the generations and draw us in and therefore make for great inclusions in fiction. As for my Lindbergh baby obsession, it's not as bad as my Jack the Ripper obsession, though both make me wish I could time travel just to solve unsolved crime. The thing is Lindbergh went to the same university as me and I can actually see the house where he lived from my office window. As for the kidnapping, I saw a riveting one person play on the convicted kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann that has always stuck with me. Though it wasn't just the Lindbergh allusions that I loved. Mr. Llewellyn and his children's book based on Alice's mother had so much Lewis Carroll in it I could sqwee for joy. Plus Morton played with our preconceptions based on this real life connection. She threw suspicion on Mr. Llewellyn but also called into question his relationship with the family, much as Carroll's was with the Liddells. Oh, and to hark back to those great dames of detection, there's more than a little Anne Perry in Alice Edevane. Of course Anne Perry's childhood crime of murdering her best friend's mother prior to becoming a bestselling crime writer was immortalized in the wonderful film Heavenly Creatures. This crime occurred in New Zealand, a stone throws from Morton's Australia. The idea that Alice might somehow be guilty and therefore an unreliable narrator, I can't tell you how much I loved this. Also the Mitford parallels, with Deborah, Alice, and Clemmie Edevane mirroring Diana, Nancy, and Jessica Mitford respectively was just the cherry on top of the sundae.

The only real problem I had with the entire book was Sadie Sparrow. While you might think it's a hatred of her pigheadedness and her just not really listening to people, it has nothing to do with that, I could overlook that as character flaws. My problem is her name: Sadie Sparrow. I'm sure when everyone first saw the Doctor Who episode "Blink" written by Steven Moffat they all thought that Sally Sparrow was the coolest name ever and were wishing that they had thought of it first. I know I did and I'm a reviewer not a writer! In fact my handle on my knitting site actually is Sally Sparrow, I am unashamed of my geekiness and I fully admit it. It's such a unique and distinctive name that once you hear it you can't ever forget it. Now here we have Sadie Sparrow. She's like a weak imitation, a bad knock off, a wannabe Sally but alwaysbe Sadie. Why would you EVER choose this as your characters name? Why would an editor ever let you do it? Yes the name might seem perfectly acceptable to you, the author, but it's not. This name wasn't your invention. To make matters worse Sally and her friend Kathy joke about being investigators, Sparrow and Nightingale! A bit ITV, but I'd still watch it. And here's "Sadie" being all investigative and then a PI! I'm sorry. This is just unacceptable. You could argue it's coincidence, that Kate Morton has never even seen Doctor Who. Guess what? I don't care. Yes her book has lots of real life connections and allusions, but she makes them her own. If it was a original thought or Sally just became Sadie, it's too close and MUST be changed. This isn't Moffat, it's Morton. And the last thing any writer wants to be is Moffat.

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