Friday, May 7, 2021

Season 24 - The Cinder Path (1994-1995)

Ah, The Cinder Path, I think this might have been my first foray into Catherine Cookson territory. There's a chance that this other movie I was obsessed with might have been written by Catherine Cookson, but I have yet to figure out which one or even if it is by her. Let me know in the comments below if you have a detailed knowledge of films that are about farm girls who look vaguely like Kathy Ireland who get involved with their boss's son/nephew and have a magical summer together but she ends up pregnant and he goes back to his friends... You would literally be solving one of the mysteries of my life. Back to The Cinder Path. So there's one reason and one reason only I watched The Cinder Path, and that's Lloyd Owen. So I've always been obsessed with The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Like hardcore obsessed. Like I have a fan magazine actually signed by Indy himself, that would be Sean Patrick Flanery to everyone else. Well when I was rewatching the show a few years back now I was all, who is that hot actor playing Professor Henry Jones, Sr., the role iconically created by Sean Connery? The answer was Lloyd Owen. So I started looking up other things he'd been in around the time he was Indy's dad. I vaguely remembered him in Coupling, but The Cinder Path looked interesting. Also Catherine Zeta-Jones from around the time of The Darling Buds of May! Interesting fact, she was also on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles if you were interested in other facts from that show. I have lots of facts from that show. LOTS. Anyway, this is pure Catherine Cookson, slightly over the top, I mean, love saves our hero from the shrapnel that could either move towards his heart and kill him or away from his heart and save him. It's so melodramatic it's kind of ridiculous but also hits the spot just right when you're in the mood. The only real complaint I had for this miniseries is that Catherine Zeta-Jones spent way too much time on horses and "the cinder path" which was a form of punishment didn't look that punishing. I wanted more, walking on hot coals, this was kind of, could they at least look like they're in pain?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Season 25 - The Buccaneers (1995-1996)

In the days before the internet you'd be channel surfing, usually late at night, and find something you really liked and you'd watch as much of it as you could before you fell asleep because you never knew if you'd see it again let alone find out what it was called. After the successful airing of Colin Firth's Pride and Prejudice, on a cable channel no less, lots of shows that were originally shown on Masterpiece Theatre started showing up on cable channels late in the night to the delight of Anglophile insomniacs and night owls everywhere. Of course I'd catch them and wouldn't find out what they were until years later. Sometimes it was because I was able to accurately describe a scene to someone and they'd fill me in on what it was, hence the miniseries about deflating sheep turned out to be Far from the Madding Crowd with Colin Firth's younger brother Jonathan. But most often it was eventually an actor I recognized that got me to finally put a title to a favorite movie or series. This is how I learned the title of Louisa May Alcott's The Inheritance, because of Greg from Dharma and Greg. Also it's fabulous but nothing like the original story if you watch it and yes, that is Chilton from Gilmore Girls. So all I had to go on to find the title of The Buccaneers was that it stared the actress from Pauly Shore's Son in Law. To more knowledgeable people, that would be Carla Gugino, to me it was Crawl's love interest. I might have seen that movie a few too many times. So once I finally knew the name of the miniseries I obviously bought it, no questions about watching it first. This is everything an Anglophile growing up in America wishes for, that they go to England and are wooed by the most eligible of bachelors. Oh the cast, Michael Kitchen, Jenny Agutter, Connie Booth, Mira Sorvino, Greg Wise, and James Frain before he made it his lifelong ambition, or so I assume, to be in every science fiction show I've ever watched. And the houses! Yes, they DO film at Castle Howard, made immortal by Brideshead Revisited. Oh dear, I think writing this has convinced me I need to go watch this miniseries immediately, it's been too long.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Lady Has A Past by Amanda Quick
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Beauty and glamour meet deception and revenge in this electrifying novel by New York Times bestselling author Amanda Quick.

Investigative apprentice Lyra Brazier, the newest resident of Burning Cove, is unsettled when her boss suddenly disappears. Lyra knows something has happened to Raina Kirk, and tracks down her last known appearance at an exclusive hotel and health spa. The health spa is known for its luxurious offerings and prestigious clientele, and the wealthy, socialite background Lyra desperately wanted to leave behind is perfect for this undercover job. What Lyra lacks in investigative experience she makes up for in gut instinct, and her gut isn’t happy that she’s saddled with a partner by Luther Pell, Raina’s dangerous lover, who wants to bring in someone with more experience to help.

Instead of the suave, pistol-packing private eye she expected, though, Simon Cage is a mild-mannered antiquarian book dealer with a quiet, academic air, and a cool, remote gaze. Lyra suspects that Simon is much more than what he seems, and her instincts are confirmed when they arrive at the spa and pose as a couple: Simon has a unique gift that allows him to detect secrets, a skill that is crucial in finding Raina.

The unlikely duo falls down a rabbit hole of twisted rumors and missing socialites, discovering that the health spa is a façade for something far darker than they imagined. With a murderer in their midst, Raina isn't the only one in grave danger - Lyra is next."

Bookish private investigators!?! YES!

The Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican
Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From London to Ireland during the 1920s, this glorious, gripping, and richly textured story takes us to the heart of the remarkable real-life story of the Guinness Girls - perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and Julian Fellowes' Belgravia.

Descendants of the founder of the Guinness beer empire, they were the toast of 1920s high society, darlings of the press, with not a care in the world. But Felicity knows better. Sent to live with them as a child because her mother could no longer care for her, she grows up as the sisters’ companion. Both an outsider and a part of the family, she witnesses the complex lives upstairs and downstairs, sees the compromises and sacrifices beneath the glamorous surface. Then, at a party one summer’s evening, something happens that sends shock waves through the entire household.

Inspired by a remarkable true story and fascinating real events, The Glorious Guinness Girls is an unforgettable novel about the haves and have-nots, one that will make you ask if where you find yourself is where you truly belong."

Let us not forget that it was these real life girls who inspire Julian Fellowes! And, of course, Nancy Mitford! Her sister married a Guinness afterall!

The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"1906

Lady Elizabeth "Libby" Sinclair, with her love of microscopes and nature, isn't favored in society. She flees to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer and stumbles into the dangerous secrets left behind by her holiday cottage's former occupant, also named Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished.

Oliver Tremayne - gentleman and clergyman - is determined to discover what happened to his sister, and he's happy to accept the help of the girl now living in what should have been Beth's summer cottage...especially when he realizes it's the curious young lady he met briefly two years ago, who shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far more than nature walks, and he can't quite believe all the secrets Beth had been keeping from him.

As Libby and Oliver work together, they find ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love."

Ah, an idyll escape to Italy, with pirates thrown in! 

Bronte by Manuela Santoni
Published by: Graphic Universe (Tm)
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 184 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte - faced with an ailing father and an alcoholic brother--pursue independence through art in this graphic vision of the lives of three legendary writers.

Despite their family's stormy fortunes, the Bront sisters resolved to write. To thwart the nineteenth century's double standards, they took the names of men, becoming the Bell brothers. Their works incited controversy and speculation, while at home, the sisters contended with the rages of Branwell Bronte, their self-destructive sibling. Manuela Santoni presents a time before Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall were known as literary masterpieces, when winds shook the Bronte house and determination held it together."

I'm a sucker for all things Bronte, especially when the mood captured by the drawings so fits their aesthetic.

The Shadow in the Glass by Jja Harwood
Published by: Voyager
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A deliciously gothic story of wishes and curses - a new dark fairy tale set against a Victorian backdrop full of lace and smoke.

Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid.

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella's only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn't permitted to enter.

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella's wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must decide whether it's one she's willing to pay...

A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella - perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern."

Name check two of my favorite authors and OF COURSE I'll be checking out your book!

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser
Published by: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 448 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A woman desperate to turn a new page heads to the Scottish coast and finds herself locked in a battle of wills with an infuriatingly aloof bookseller in this utterly heartwarming debut, perfect for readers of Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. She’s been let go from her office job with no notice - and to make matters even worse, her husband of nearly twenty years has decided to leave her for one of her friends. Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and lovely but neglected garden. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting. The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s book collection. His gruff attitude - fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord - tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t experienced in a long time. As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from."

I'm not bitter or anything, but why can't someone die and leave me a house with an antique book collection?

I Speak Boy by Jessica Brody
Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A phone-obsessed twelve-year-old girl, frustrated by the cryptic boys in her life, discovers a magic app that can read boys' thoughts in this modern-day retelling of Emma by Jane Austen.

After a matchmaking attempt for her best friend, Harper, goes wrong, Emmy is fed up. Why are boys so hard to figure out? But then something amazing happens - she wakes up with a new app on her phone: iSpeak Boy! Suddenly Emmy has the information every girl wants to know - the super-secret knowledge of how boys think...and who they like!

Now Emmy is using her magical app to make matches left and right. But can she use it to help Harper, the only person who doesn't seem to buy into Emmy's "gift"? And when her secret gets out and the app ends up in the wrong hands, can Emmy figure out how to undo the damage she's caused?"

I am ALL HERE for modern retellings of Emma! 

The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the author of Fun Home, a profoundly affecting graphic memoir of Bechdel's lifelong love affair with exercise, set against a hilarious chronicle of fitness fads in our times.

Comics and cultural superstar Alison Bechdel delivers a deeply layered story of her fascination, from childhood to adulthood, with every fitness craze to come down the pike: from Jack LaLanne in the 60s ("Outlandish jumpsuit! Cantaloupe-sized guns!") to the existential oddness of present-day spin class. Readers will see their athletic or semi-active pasts flash before their eyes through an ever-evolving panoply of running shoes, bicycles, skis, and sundry other gear. But the more Bechdel tries to improve herself, the more her self appears to be the thing in her way. She turns for enlightenment to Eastern philosophers and literary figures, including Beat writer Jack Kerouac, whose search for self-transcendence in the great outdoors appears in moving conversation with the author’s own. This gifted artist and not-getting-any-younger exerciser comes to a soulful conclusion. The secret to superhuman strength lies not in six-pack abs, but in something much less clearly defined: facing her own non-transcendent but all-important interdependence with others.

A heartrendingly comic chronicle for our times."

Alison Bechdel has done it again!

Rogue Untouched by Alisa Kwitney
Published by: Aconyte
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Rogue’s frightening new mutant powers keep her at arms-length from the world, but two strangers offer a chance to change her life forever, in this exhilarating Marvel Super Hero adventure.

Young Rogue’s life is a mess: she’s on her own, working a terrible diner job and hiding from everyone. The powers she has started to develop are terrifying: when your first kiss almost kills the guy, it’s hard to trust anyone - even yourself. Then two people arrive in town who could change her life, and she finally gets a choice: try her luck with the big-haired billionaire who claims to be scouting for gifted interns, or trust the rakish Cajun gambler with the eerie red eyes. But these two aren’t the only ones interested in a mutant just coming into her powers. Rogue will have to master her abilities and decide her own fate - before someone else does."

I will always have a soft spot for Rogue. 

Bottle Demon by Stephen Blackmoore
Published by: DAW
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The sixth book of this dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

The Necromancer is dead. Long live the Necromancer.

After being attacked by a demon in the one place he thought he was safe, Eric Carter has been killed, his soul sent to take its place as a stand-in for the Aztec god of death Mictlantecuhtli. But somebody on Earth isn't done with him, yet. Somebody with the power to bring him back from the dead. He doesn't know who, and worse he doesn't know why.

Between an angry death goddess, family secrets steeped in blood, a Djinn who's biding his time, and a killer mage who can create copy after copy of himself, Eric's new life looks to be just as violent as his last one. But if he doesn't get to the bottom of why he's back, it's going to be a hell of a lot shorter."

I have an obsession with necromancers later. And the TV series Dynasty, which brings me to point number two, does our hero on the front cover look like Alexis's forth husband Sean Rowan to anyone else? With a better haircut of course.

Shadowed Steel by Chloe Neill
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the third installment in the USA Today bestselling Heirs of Chicagoland series, the vampires in Elisa Sullivan's world are out for blood.

Elisa Sullivan is the only vampire ever born, and she bears a heavy legacy. After a sojourn with the North American Central Pack of shifters in the wilderness - where she turned a young woman into a vampire to save her life - Elisa returns to Chicago.

But no good deed goes unpunished. The ruling body of vampires, the Assembly of American Masters, is furious that Elisa turned someone without their permission, and they want her punished. When an AAM vampire is found dead, Elisa is the prime suspect. Someone else is stalking Chicago - and Elisa. She'll need to keep a clear head, and a sharp blade, to survive all the supernatural strife."

Seeing as I can't go to Chicago right now despite being only three hours away because of Covid, time for some armchair travelling I think! 

Hail Mary by Andy Weir 
Published by: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian.

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission - and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery - and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could deliver, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian - while taking us to places it never dreamed of going."

I've been feeling a need to re-read The Martian lately, yet at the same time I want to read new books... so thank you Andy Weir for solving my dilemma!

Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In Brian Klingborg's Thief of Souls, the brutal murder of a young woman in a rural village in Northern China sends shockwaves all the way to Beijing - but seemingly only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, is interested in justice for the victim.

Lu Fei is a graduate of China’s top police college but he’s been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed in her mouth. The CID in Beijing - headed by a rising political star - is on the case but in an increasingly authoritarian China, prosperity and political stability are far more important than solving the murder of an insignificant village girl. As such, the CID head is interested in pinning the crime on the first available suspect rather than wading into uncomfortable truths, leaving Lu Fei on his own.

As Lu digs deeper into the gruesome murder, he finds himself facing old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests. Despite these rising obstacles, Lu remains determined to find the real killer, especially after he links the murder to other unsolved homicides. But the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he puts himself and his loved ones in danger."

A new take on classic mystery tropes. Also a cover to die for. 

Friend of the Devil by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Published by: Image Comics
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 104 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The next book in the red-hot Reckless series is here.

Bestselling crime noir masters Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are back with another new original graphic novel featuring troublemaker-for-hire Ethan Reckless.

It's 1985 and things in Ethan's life are going pretty well...until a missing woman shows up in the background of an old B-movie, and Ethan is drawn into Hollywood's secret occult underbelly as he hunts for her among the wreckage of the wild days of the '70s.

Another hit graphic novel from the award-winning creators of Pulp, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, Criminal, and Kill or Be Killed - a must-have for all Brubaker and Phillips fans

And look for the next standalone book in the Reckless series in October."

I don't know if I'd quite say a "must-have" given how meh the first volume was... 

21st Birthday by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Published by: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Detective Lindsay Boxer vows to protect a young woman from a serial killer long enough to see her twenty-first birthday.

When young wife and mother Tara Burke goes missing with her baby girl, all eyes are on her husband, Lucas. He paints her not as a missing person but a wayward wife - until a gruesome piece of evidence turns the investigation criminal.

While Chronicle reporter Cindy Thomas pursues the story and M.E. Claire Washburn harbors theories that run counter to the SFPD’s, ADA Yuki Castellano sizes Lucas up as a textbook domestic offender...who suddenly puts forward an unexpected suspect. If what Lucas tells law enforcement has even a grain of truth, there isn't a woman in the state of California who's safe from the reach of an unspeakable threat."

New Women's Murder Club yeah! 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Season 26 - A Royal Scandal (1996-1997)

I am delighted that this gem of a show is available on DVD, albeit as an extra on the DVD release of the far inferior The Queen's Sister, which ironically aired on a rival station to PBS, BBC America. This production in just an hour gives an insightful and oftentimes hilarious look into the marriage of George IV, AKA Prinny, and Caroline of Brunswick. To say theirs was not a love match would be understating it. But what is amazing about this little glimpse into royal life during the Regency Era is that all the vitriol spewed back and forth showing them as nothing more than children was taken from what they actually said. They seriously said this!?! I'm horrified to think of what Prinny on Twitter would be like. Note to self, I want to see the Prince Regent on Twitter as a parody account. Seriously, why isn't this a thing!?! All I had remembered of A Royal Scandal was the interesting framing device of a narrator and the brilliance of Richard E. Grant as Prinny and Susan Lynch as Caroline evilly glaring at each other while on a very nice black and white tiled floor. Obviously hinting at the combative chess-like nature of their marriage. So for your edification and mine I rewatched it. I was blown away by who they got as the supporting cast! And I didn't even remember there was a supporting cast! Michael Kitchen, Frances Barber, Denis Lawson, Oliver Ford Davies, and Ian Freakin' Richardson as the pitch perfect narrator! This cast was more than one could hope for, how did I forget them!?! The subtlety of Michael Kitchen facing the opprobrium of Prinny's rage and just replying that he was sent to set up a marriage not weigh in on the suitability of the match. Perfection! Oh, and my favorite scene by far is when Caroline arrives in England and is greeted by her husband's mistress, Lady Jersey! There's a real repressed British cat fight about Caroline's dress and in particular her hat. Caroline wins on the point of her hat! She LOVES that hat! It has been said of Lady Jersey that she possessed "a heady mix of charm, beauty, and sarcasm" and I really can't think of a better way to describe this little glimpse at royal life, come for the charming sarcasm!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Season 27 - The Moonstone (1997-1998)

Sometimes there is an adaptation so perfect that you don't know which came first for you, reading the book or watching the adaptation. This is how it is for me with The Moonstone, the two are forever intertwined and my story is a mystery even to myself. On the shelves of our library cum television room we had the complete set of the Franklin Library's Masterpieces of Mystery, The Moonstone being one of the volumes, with it's faux red leather binding and colorfully garish illustration on the cover. As an aside, seeing as The Moonstone laid the groundwork for the entire detective genre if the Franklin Library hadn't included it it would have been a major oversight. Now the mystery becomes did I pick up that volume prior to one Sunday night when I was ensconced in my corner of the couch and watched a few minutes of The Moonstone with my mother or not? I remember sitting there so clearly, the warm light, the copy of The Moonstone on the shelf near my right shoulder. I'm pretty sure I didn't watch more than a few minutes of the movie because I was all about reading the book before watching the adaptation. At that time it was a strict rule in my life. But did I bend the rules? Later events might indicate I did... Maybe I'll claim that I was sleepwalking like Franklin Blake? Eventually I did pick up The Moonstone to read and the entire time I kept thinking, damn, have I read this before? I swear I've read this before... Or had I just watched the movie? This is compounded by the fact that when reading the book the character of the old house steward Gabriel Betteredge came into my mind as the incomparable Peter Vaughn. He was just there, in my head, and I accepted it as fact. Fast forward to me watching or perhaps re-watching the film and Peter Vaughn IS in it as Betteredge. Thinking of this which came first the chicken or the egg mystery just does my head it. But one thing is confirmed no matter what order events happened in, this is the best adaptation of The Moonstone you could hope to find. It's literally my headcanon.       

Monday, April 26, 2021

Tuesday Tomorrow

Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn
Published by: Del Rey
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Thrawn and his allies race to save the Chiss Ascendancy from an unseen enemy in the second book in the epic Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

Thrawn’s latest triumph still rests newly on his shoulders. He has led the Chiss to victory and brought glory to the House of Mitth, but the true threat to the Ascendancy has not yet been extinguished. Their foes do not send threats or ultimatums, do not mass ships on the edge of the Chaos. Their weapons come cloaked in smiles and generosity: Gifts offered freely. Services granted unconditionally.

Across the Ascendancy, seemingly inconsequential events could herald the doom of the Chiss. As Thrawn and the Expansionary Defense Fleet rally to uncover the plot, they discover a chilling truth: Rather than invade Chiss capitals or pillage resources, their enemy strikes at the very foundation of the Ascendancy, seeking to widen the rifts between the Nine Ruling Families and the Forty Great Houses below. As rivalry and suspicion sow discord among allies, each warrior must decide what matters most to them: the security of their family or the survival of the Ascendancy itself."

No one will ever understand the joy I have that Thrawn was brought back from the expunged EU! 

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells
Published by: Tordotcom
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 176 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The New York Times bestselling security droid with a heart (though it wouldn't admit it!) is back in Fugitive Telemetry!

Having captured the hearts of readers across the globe (Annalee Newitz says it's "one of the most humane portraits of a nonhuman I've ever read") Murderbot has also established Martha Wells as one of the great SF writers of today.

No, I didn't kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn't dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people - who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!

A new standalone adventure in the New York Times-bestselling, Hugo and Nebula Award winning series!"

I am SO here for more Murderbot!

Alias Space and Other Stories by Kelly Robson
Published by: Subterranean Press
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 420 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Alias Space and Other Stories is the first fiction collection from Nebula Award-winning writer Kelly Robson, who vaulted onto the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror stage in 2015, earning spots in multiple Year’s Best anthologies. This volume collects Robson’s best stories to date, along with exciting new work, and notes to accompany each piece.

Robson’s stories are noted for their compassion, humanity, humor, rigor, and joy. This volume includes the chilling gothic horror “A Human Stain,” winner of the 2018 Nebula Award; the madcap historical fantasy “Waters of Versailles,” which was a finalist for both the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards; and science fiction stories such as the touching “Intervention,” chilling “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill,” obscene “What Gentle Women Dare,” heartbreaking “Two-Year Man,” and many others.

These fourteen stories showcase Robson’s whip-smart richness of invention, brilliant storytelling, deep worldbuilding, and devilish sense of humor."

There's nothing I love more than a beautiful new book from Subterranean Press!

Smithy by Amanda Desiree
Published by: Inkshares
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 500 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the tumultuous summer of 1974, in the shadowy rooms of a rundown mansion in Rhode Island, renowned psychologist Dr. Piers Preis-Herald brings together a group of seven collegiate researchers to study the inner lives of man's closest relative - the primate. They set out to teach their subject, who would eventually be known to the world as Smithy, American Sign Language. But as the summer deepens and the history of the mansion manifests, the messages signed by their research subject become increasing spectral.

Nearly twenty-five years after the Smithy Project ended in tragedy at Trevor Hall, questions remain: Was Smithy a hoax? A clever mimic? A Rorschach projection of humanity's greatest hopes and fears? Or was he indeed what devotees of metaphysics have claimed for so long: a link between our world and the next?"

This is like my dream, a Gothic Michael Crichton-esque book!

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published by: Del Rey
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 432 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a sweeping romance with a dash of magic.

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis - neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse - and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.

But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina - and himself - that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins.

The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal, and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon."

A re-issue not to be missed from one of the hottest writers on the scene!

An Earl, The Girl, and A Toddler by Vanessa Riley
Published by: Zebra
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Masterminded by the ton's most clever countess, the secret society The Widow’s Grace helps ill-treated widows regain their reputations, their families, and even find true love again - or perhaps for the very first time...

Surviving a shipwreck en route to London from Jamaica was just the start of Jemina St. Maur's nightmare. Suffering from amnesia, she was separated from anyone who might know her, and imprisoned in Bedlam. She was freed only because barrister Daniel Thackery, Lord Ashbrook, was convinced to betray the one thing he holds dear: the law. Desperate to unearth her true identity, Jemina’s only chance is to purloin dangerous secrets with help from The Widow’s Grace - which means staying steps ahead of the formidable Daniel, no matter how strongly she is drawn to him...

Married only by proxy, now widowed by shipwreck, Daniel is determined to protect his little stepdaughter, Hope, from his family’s scandalous reputation. That’s why he has dedicated himself not just to the law, but to remaining as proper, upstanding - and boring - as can be. But the closer he becomes to the mysterious, alluring Jemina, the more Daniel is tempted to break the very rule of law to which he's devoted his life. And as ruthless adversaries close in, will the truth require him, and Jemina, to sacrifice their one chance at happiness?"

Because every remarkable woman wants a rogue right?

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A heartwarming debut novel for readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, following three lonely strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief and life's curveballs, who are brought together by happenstance on a local honeybee farm where they find surprising friendship, healing - and maybe even a second chance - just when they least expect it.

Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman is stuck in a dead-end job, bereft of family, and now reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Alice has begun having panic attacks whenever she thinks about how her life hasn't turned out the way she dreamed. Even the beloved honeybees she raises in her spare time aren't helping her feel better these days.

In the grip of a panic attack, she nearly collides with Jake - a troubled, paraplegic teenager with the tallest mohawk in Hood River County - while carrying 120,000 honeybees in the back of her pickup truck. Charmed by Jake's sincere interest in her bees and seeking to rescue him from his toxic home life, Alice surprises herself by inviting Jake to her farm.

And then there's Harry, a twenty-four-year-old with debilitating social anxiety who is desperate for work. When he applies to Alice's ad for part-time farm help, he's shocked to find himself hired. As an unexpected friendship blossoms among Alice, Jake, and Harry, a nefarious pesticide company moves to town, threatening the local honeybee population and illuminating deep-seated corruption in the community. The unlikely trio must unite for the sake of the bees - and in the process, they just might forge a new future for themselves.

Beautifully moving, warm, and uplifting, The Music of Bees is about the power of friendship, compassion in the face of loss, and finding the courage to start over (at any age) when things don't turn out the way you expect."

Read it for the bees! 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Season 28 - Frenchman's Creek (1998-1999)

If you go into this thinking you're getting an adaptation of the book by Daphne Du Maurier, yeah, just don't go into this thinking that. Look at the tagline; "A swashbuckling pirate adventure." That in no way represents anything to do with the book. This adaptation gives the distinct impression that one day someone was watching The Last of the Mohicans and went, "YES! That's what we want! Guys with long hair jumping off things and two forces at war and a love story!" Then someone else went "Well, how about adapting Daphne Du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek? It's set almost a hundred years earlier but we can make it work!" Conveniently forgetting everything that Frenchman's Creek stands for and making it the swashbuckling adventure they fantasized it to be. Gone is the journey of one woman's discovery of herself, a period piece that is relatable to this day, and in it's place is a rather silly movie that probably has more in common with the oft maligned Cutthroat Island than with it's source material. I mean, the title "Frenchman's Creek" doesn't even make sense anymore! Because in the book the creek is the Frenchman's hideout, here it's the house he is using and the ship is just moored wherever. But long before we had Starz, which strives to make programming for women, we women would have men badly adapting our stories. To change everything to make the male more important? Just no. Du Maurier would be furious. I'm furious! Less inner struggle, more violence? Um, no thank you. But this being a Masterpiece Theatre production there is the saving grace of good casting. Tara Fitzgerald and Danny Webb brought their A game. But my heart belonged with James Fleet as Dona's husband. He has this awesome James Fleetness that makes you just always love him. I don't know if it's because of The Vicar of Dibley, but I truly think there's something great in his soul that makes this likability always shine through even when he's an ass. Of course Dona went back to her husband! There really wasn't a choice to jilt James! He made the boorish role of Harry his own and in doing so made this his movie.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Season 29 - The Turn of the Screw (1999-2000)

One night back in undergrad two of my friends and I decided to go rent a movie. Remember video stores? Full of all those wonderful films yet somehow kind of grubby. We were walking from Rivendell (no really, my friend Matt lived in a big purple housing co-op named Rivendell) to the local video store a few blocks away. On the way there we found over $20 in cash on the ground that some drunk college student had obviously dropped. So dinner and a movie was on said drunk college student who was probably pissed in more ways than one when they found out. Four Star Video was known for it's rather indie pics. You could find basically anything there that was offbeat. After much toing and froing we decided on the Ethan Hawke/Kyle MacLachlan version of Hamlet and The Turn of the Screw, because Colin Firth. I'm not sure how far we got into Hamlet before it was ejected, but could have been twenty minutes could have been a thousand years. And that, my friends, is why you always rent two movies when you go out in case one is an absolute stinking pile of shit. Well, we didn't fair that well with The Turn of the Screw either. None of us had actually read the story, so we were all unprepared for the whole evil wins ending. What's more, and in fact more to the point of why it failed to meet our expectations is that Colin Firth was in the first five minutes and then never seen again. That's false advertising that is putting his name first! And yes, after this debacle my friends said I should pay them for having to sit through videos dubbed my choices... but they were free! And more importantly we did put it to a vote! But looking back, while The Turn of the Screw isn't my favorite ghost story out there this is the best direct adaptation there is, because at least they didn't throw in a weird insane asylum/murder conviction plotline like the 2009 version with Michelle Dockery did. So if you're looking for a faithful adaptation of The Turn of the Screw you can't go wrong with Jodhi May and Pam Ferris who are superb actors, but if you're looking for the best adaptation out there check out The Haunting of Bly Manor instead.       

Older Posts