Monday, January 30, 2012

Tuesday Tomorrow

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
Published by: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?

The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end?"

Ok, so I was a bit harsh on the first Austenland book when I read it the first time. Now, I'm more mellow, I enjoyed the re-read and this was a fun Agatha Christie-esque spin on the idea of "Austenland."

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Published by: Reagan Arthur Books
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them."

I just loved how a review called it: "If Willa Cather and Gabriel Garcia Marquez had collaborated on a book." Sold.

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 224 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Princess Meriel's brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment--cast by their conniving new stepmother--has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.

Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.

With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam--a pretty half-witch and her clever brother--Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.
But if she fails . . . all will be lost."

Fairy Tale retelling yeah!

A Parliament of Spies by Cassandra Clark
Published by: Minotaur
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"All the danger and intrigue of 14th-century England spring to life in this "compelling" (Publishers Weekly) series about the brave, incorruptible Abbess of Meaux.

Abbess Hildegard may consider herself “just a nun with no useful skills or connections,” yet her loyalty and intelligence have brought her to the attention of King Richard II himself—not the safest place to be, when the king has enemies on all sides. As Hildegard wrestles with her role as a spy in the parliament that is hastily gathering at Westminster, Cassandra Clark shows us the human side of history, giving readers new reason to follow Publishers Weekly’s rallying cry: “Medievalists rejoice!”

Olde Tyme England with evile poltte, yeah!

River Marked by Patricia Briggs
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Being a different breed of shapeshifter-a walker-Mercy Thompson can see ghosts, but the spirit of her long-gone father has never visited her. Until now, on her honeymoon with the Alpha werewolf Adam. An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-and innocent people are dying. As other walkers make their presence known to Mercy, she must reconnect with her heritage to exorcise the world of the legend known as the river devil..."

Perhaps my favorite Mercy Thompson book now in paperback! You'll have a year till a new one, so savor it.

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Carola Dunn
Published by: Minotaur
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the Spring of 1926, the corpses of three men are found in shallow graves off the beaten path in Epping Forest outside of London—each shot through the heart and bearing no identification. DCI Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, the lead detective, is immediately given two urgent orders by his supervisor at the Yard: solve the murders quickly and keep his wife, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher, away from the case! Thankfully, Daisy’s off visiting their daughter at school. But when a teacher is found dead, Daisy is once again in the thick of it. As Daisy tries to solve one murder, Alec discovers that the three victims in his case were in the same Army company during World War I, that their murders are likely related to specific events that unfolded during that tragic conflict, and that, unless the killer is revealed and stopped, those three might only be the beginning."

While I'm not THIS far in the Daisy Dalrymple books, I'm happy to know I have lots more to read! And in paperback too!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 280 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Fifty years ago, Madeleine L’Engle introduced the world to A Wrinkle in Time and the wonderful and unforgettable characters Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe. When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evil—a journey that threatens their lives and our universe. A Newbery Award winner, A Wrinkle in Time is an iconic novel that continues to inspire millions of fans around the world. This special edition has been redesigned and includes an introduction by Katherine Paterson, an afterword by Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Jones Voiklis that includes photographs and memorabilia, the author’s Newbery Medal acceptance speech, and other bonus materials."

I remember the first time my 4th rgade teacher read this to us. Oddly enough, no matter how many times I've read it (even seeing a play about it) I can't seem to remember the plot, just that storm that starts off the book.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review 2011 #2 - Michelle Moran's Madame Tussaud

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
Published by: Crown
ARC Provided by the author
Publication Date: February 15th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
Marie Grosholtz has one goal in life, and that's to make the Salon de Cire, that she runs with her uncle Philippe Curtis, as successful as possible. If she or Philippe were allowed entrance into the Academie Francaise, well, that would be the pinnacle of success. Modeling the famous personages of the day in wax, Marie prides herself on capturing not only the person she is immortalizing, but the fashions and sensibilities of the day, no matter how fast they change. But Marie feels that in order to be a true success she needs the Royal stamp of approval. She wants the King and Queen to look upon their likenesses and smile. Plus it couldn't hurt ticket sales any. After appealing to the Queen's dressmaker, Rose Bertin, for over a year on behalf of the Salon, Marie finally realizes that perhaps she should be appealing to Rose's vanity. Once Marie agrees to immortalize Rose in wax, suddenly the Salon is in a flurry of activity as they prepare for the royal viewing. But what goes on in the public rooms is nothing to what goes on in the weekly salons held behind closed doors. Revolutionaries, inventors and thinkers, from the Charles brothers, Jacques and the lovestruck Henri, from Marat to Camille, Robespierre to the King's own cousin, the Duc d'Orleans, talk about the day when the monarchy will fall. It's not that Marie and her family really support the revolutionary cause, but their job demands that they are abreast of the voice of the people. Plus, if they didn't meet in their salon, they'd only meet somewhere else... so what can it hurt?

After the Royal visit Marie's life and the success of the Salon de Cire change forever. Marie is invited to sculpt luminaries and lunatics such as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Sade. But more importantly, she is invited to Versailles to work with Louis the Sixteenth's sister, the Princess Elisabeth. She is to help Elisabeth learn to sculpt the human form so that she may create religious effigies. Despite working with a devoutly religious woman who rarely goes out, Marie forms a friendship with the Princess and does occasionally get a glimpse of court life, the life her brothers guard as part of the King's own men. But in Paris people are starving and the public opinion against the King and Marie Antoinette is shifting. The time may come when Marie Grosholtz will have to remove their likenesses from the Salon. Much hope is given to the meeting of The Estates-General, wherein the people will make their voices heard, no matter if the King and the Church object. But whatever concessions the monarchy is willing to make, there seems to be nothing that will quench the thirst for revenge. Soon the people are out of hand and the Bastille falls. Paris changes by the minute and hour, not by the day. Rallies in cafes and scathing articles in newspapers fuel the terror that has begun. Straddling the world of the court she has come to know and the Salon which captures the pulse of a nation, Marie is the ultimate politician just hoping for her own survival. Only soon a rosette in the tricolours will not be enough. Soon she must prepare the death masks of those recently beheaded. Soon she must decide if she can continue in this life she has had thrust upon her, or if there is some point that will make her say no. Some point which will put her head in the guillotine.

Madame Tussaud, Marie Grosholtz that was, is an institution to this day. With wax museums the world over, she has become a lucrative tourist attraction. But what became a venue for people to goggle over celebrities was once a venue for political change. To the people in revolutionary France, the wax works that Marie sculpted were the closest they'd ever get to the King or Queen. While Marie would insist that she was just giving the people what they wanted, her brother was more accurate in stating that what she did, what she showed, mattered. Art is a medium for change. She captured these luminaries and distilled them down into a caught moment. She moved with the times, she transformed and updated. She was able to show the world as it was, ever changing and not staying still in the days of unrest. Whether or not she fueled the revolution, she documented it. She was able to ride the wave of public opinion and stay in touch with both worlds, the rarefied nobility and the common man. Her art and connections let her be more, see more.

The only real problem I had with this novel is that it's too short. The ending sneaks up on you and it's over. I would willingly have read a Margaret George length opus of this quality from Moran. After experiencing the first year of the revolution in detail, to then only be given glimpses of the succeeding years is almost painful. I fell for Marie, this fiercely talented pragmatic artist without the posturing. She thought of art as a business and how things could be changed and improved, versus long diatribes about the proper use of Azure Blue. The one thing I have detested about novels, historic or otherwise, is that they never capture what an artist really is. They become caricatures. People who have their heads in the clouds, have no money concerns and are always somewhat tortured. As an artist myself, I want to find these writers and harm them. Not Michelle! She perfectly captured the analytical mind of an artist that I myself hope I am. She thought about the good of her art, her salon. She had set goals and she had an astounding memory for faces and fashion. And what a world of people she lived in. Michelle brings to life everyone from Marat to Marie Antoinette in a human and compassionate light. What were once figures in history become living breathing people you care about. If the goal of a historical novel is to make history alive again, then Michelle has succeeded immensely.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review 2011 #3 - Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Published by: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 13th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 608 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
"Ground control to major Tom, your circuits dead,
there's something wrong
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you... "

1977: Ben has always been a unique kid. Deaf in one ear, he never let anything deter him. His mother filled his head with books and stars and curiosities. But now his mother is dead and he's living with his Aunt and Uncle in Gunflint Lake Minnesota left with more questions than he can count, while his true home lies empty next door. His mother never told him about his father, but he always connected him to the David Bowie song Space Oddity. His mother never told him a lot of things. Now that she is gone it seems wrong to go poking about in her past... but it might be the key to his father. A second tragedy leads Ben to run away to New York and hide out in the American Museum of Natural History, where hopefully he will find answers.

1927: Rose is held a prisoner. Rose is held a prisoner for her own safety. She is deaf. But that doesn't mean the world should be shut away from her. She loves the movies. They're still silent... but that will sadly change soon. She often risks everything to venture into the wilds of New York City. The American Museum of Natural History offers her solace, safety and family.

1977: These two lives are intertwined in ways some suspected, and some never dared to be true.

Brian Selznick has done it again. His previous story, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, told the story of early cinema in the streets of Paris through prose and pictures which instantly captivated the publishing world. Here we have yet another little urchin in Ben hiding out in a very famous landmark. All children must have at one time or another fantasized about living in a museum, I know I did, even if Ben's experience is out of necessity, versus determination, like the children in E.L. Konigsburg's book or even the youngest Tennenbaums. The museum is just part of the whole. It's the interweaving stories of Rose and Ben that build the suspense and mystery and drive this story forward. Little clues scattered like stars through the book. Rose's obsession with a film star having real world reasons. Ben's nightmares about wolves being a key to his past, not just a haunting nightmare.

Every little thing builds like an electric charge before a storm making you read and read and immerse yourself in this wonderful world so that when you look up at the clock at 5AM you are literally shocked at how time has flown. The book struck me, just as lightning struck on July 13th, 1977 causing New York City to be plunged into darkness. I can't tell you how I connected to this book. It's something deep in me. My love of collecting, of museums, of books, of mysteries, of the time I was born, of David Bowie, of history. The book is aptly named, I was Wonderstruck.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review 2011 #4 - Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Published by: DAW
Publication Date: 2007
Format: Paperback, 722 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
Chronicler stumbles upon Kvothe one night and recognizes the man of legend who is now hiding behind a bar and a different identity. Kvothe, or Kote as his is now known, has agreed to tell his story to Chronicler. It will take three days to tell the stories as it should be told in Kvothe's own words, this is the first. Beginning with his childhood with the Edema Ruh, performers and travelling gypsies, he learns to sing and act and play music. After a time the troupe picks up Abenthy, a sympathist, who learned his magics at The University, and knows the name of the wind. Abenethy becomes Kvothes teacher for a time, regaling him of tales of The University and the library, where all the books in the world are held. Soon Abenethy leaves to continue his own life, Kvothe hoping to one day follow his path and learn the name of the wind. Kvothe's parents have been working on a new song, an epic pieced together from story and myth about the Chandrian. The boogie men of their world. Boogie men who happen to be real and don't want a bunch of Ruh singing about them. Kvothe's troupe is massacred. Kvothe was out in the woods and comes back to the end of his world.

Going to Tarbean, he spends years on the street as a beggar, till one day he hears a new story about the Chandrian and realizes that he must start again. He musters the resources and heads to The University, meeting the beautiful Denna on the way. He is able to finagle his way into school, but not without first making an enemy of the wealthy student Ambrose, who is able to trick Kvothe into breaking the rules of the library and is therefore banned. Despite this limitation and his obvious insolence and inability to recognize authority, Kvothe loves school. He also slowly starts to love Denna. He risks it all though when rumors reach his ears that the Chandrian might be near. Kvothe has to choose between avenging his past and seizing his future. He's still only a kid, so his future might have to wait. His future that will end up behind a bar, waiting to die. But hopefully Chronicler will awaken the desire to live in Kote.

The Name of the Wind could been seen to be part Harry Potter, part Tom Brown's School Days, with a little George R. R. Martin thrown in with the slightest dash of Terry Pratchett. But people who set up this comparison fail to realize, that while there are correlations, Partick Rothfuss has transcended these to create a unique world all his own. Comparison is useless when you read a book so effortlessly itself. So funny and unique and wonderfully written that it flows. As I was reading it I kept thinking, why isn't there more humor in other books of this ilk. The humor made me connect with the narrative, made me part of the story, versus an outsider. Making someone laugh is the surest way to create complicity. Me and Kvothe, we're now on this little quest together. A quest that makes up one of the three parts of this book.

The three parts, the past, the present and the quest. We get Kvothe's orgin story, as it where, growing up in the loving arms of the Edema Ruh, which is harshly taken away from him and his early days at The University. We get his present as barkeep and his quest for the Chandrian. While we need to see where he came from to realize how far he has come, I felt that the harshness of Tarbean could have been avoided if he had gone in search of Abenthy. Couldn't he have written a letter? I know so much is character flaws, many of which made me shout at him, such as his continuing taunts of Ambrose. Yes, I know Kvothe can't hear me, that doesn't mean I'm not banging my head against the wall hoping against hope that this time he'll learn. And while I'm curious to know how he ended up in a little bar with a demon as his BFF, I assume it has to do with the whole "Kingkiller" part of the these chronicles. It's the Chandrian that I was desperate for. I was glad that Denna was worked into that story in a way so that Kvothe mooning over her might have some actual purpose. Thing is though... I want the answers now. I do want them to be played out over the books, but can't the books all be done already?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tuesday Tomorrow

Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate
Published by: Delacorte
Publication Date: January 24th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"What makes your heart race a little faster? Just in time for Valentine's Day, it's FALLEN IN LOVE, four wholly original new stories collected in a new novel set in the Middle Ages by Lauren Kate. FALLEN IN LOVE gives fans the much-talked about but never-revealed stories of FALLEN characters as they intertwine with the epic love story of Luce and Daniel. The stories include: Love Where You Least Expect It: The Valentine of Shelby and Miles , Love Lessons: The Valentine of Roland; Burning Love: The Valentine of Arriane; and Endless Love: The Valentine of Daniel and Lucinda."

Need something to tide you over till the next Fallen book? How about some short stories eh? Yeah, I know it's not a "real" book, but it's something...

Stealing Magic by Marianne Malone
Published by: Random House
Publication Date: January 24th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Ruthie and Jack thought that their adventures in the Thorne Rooms were over . . . until miniatures from the rooms start to disappear. Is it the work of the art thief who's on the loose in Chicago? Or has someone else discovered the secret of the Thorne Rooms' magic? Ruthie and Jack's quest to stop the thief takes them from modern day Chicago to 1937 Paris to antebellum South Carolina. But as more items disappear, including the key that allows them to shrink and access the past worlds, what was once just an adventure becomes a life and death race against the clock. Can Ruthie and Jack catch the thief and help the friends they meet on the way before the magic—and the rooms—are destroyed forever? Fans of magic, mystery, and adventure will love this rollicking sequel to Marianne Malone's The Sixty-Eight Rooms."

The Thorne Minature Rooms in Chicago where always my favorite place to go when I was little. So am I happy that there's an author out there writing about them? Damn straight I am!

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
Published by: Harper
Publication Date: January 24th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"When her widower father drowns at sea, Gemma Hardy is taken from her native Iceland to Scotland to live with her kind uncle and his family. But the death of her doting guardian leaves Gemma under the care of her resentful aunt, and it soon becomes clear that she is nothing more than an unwelcome guest at Yew House. When she receives a scholarship to a private school, ten-year-old Gemma believes she’s found the perfect solution and eagerly sets out again to a new home. However, at Claypoole she finds herself treated as an unpaid servant.

To Gemma’s delight, the school goes bankrupt, and she takes a job as an au pair on the Orkney Islands. The remote Blackbird Hall belongs to Mr. Sinclair, a London businessman; his eight-year-old niece is Gemma’s charge. Even before their first meeting, Gemma is, like everyone on the island, intrigued by Mr. Sinclair. Rich (by Gemma’s standards), single, flying in from London when he pleases, Hugh Sinclair fills the house with life. An unlikely couple, the two are drawn to each other, but Gemma’s biggest trial is about to begin: a journey of passion and betrayal, redemption and discovery, that will lead her to a life of which she’s never dreamed.

Set in Scotland and Iceland in the 1950s and ’60s, The Flight of Gemma Hardy—a captivating homage to Charlotte BrontË’s Jane Eyre—is a sweeping saga that resurrects the timeless themes of the original but is destined to become a classic all its own."

Another Jane Eyre retelling... but this looks interesting. Of course, none can live up to the original, but some might find an interesting tale to tell.

Detective Inspector Huss by Helene Tursten
Published by: Soho
Publication Date: January 24th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Inspector Irene Huss, stationed in Göteborg, is called through the rain-drenched wintry streets to the scene of an apparent suicide. The dead man landed on the sidewalk in front of his luxurious duplex apartment. He was a wealthy financier connected, through an old-boys’ network, with the first families of Sweden. But the "Society Suicide" turns out to have been a carefully plotted murder. As more murders ensue, she tangles with street gang members, skinheads, immigrants and neo-Nazis—a cross-section of Sweden’s disaffected—in order to catch the killer."

More Swedish mysteries, yeah!

The Lives of Margaret Fuller by John Matteson
Published by: W.W. Norton and Company
Publication Date: January 24th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 582 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A brilliant writer and a fiery social critic, Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) was perhaps the most famous American woman of her generation. Outspoken and quick-witted, idealistic and adventurous, she became the leading female figure in the transcendentalist movement, wrote a celebrated column of literary and social commentary for Horace Greeley’s newspaper, and served as the first foreign correspondent for an American newspaper. While living in Europe she fell in love with an Italian nobleman, with whom she became pregnant out of wedlock. In 1848 she joined the fight for Italian independence and, the following year, reported on the struggle while nursing the wounded within range of enemy cannons. Amid all these strivings and achievements, she authored the first great work of American feminism: Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Despite her brilliance, however, Fuller suffered from self-doubt and was plagued by ill health. John Matteson captures Fuller’s longing to become ever better, reflected by the changing lives she led. 28 black-and-white illustrations."

Oooh, new bio, this sounds fabulous. Plus a woman with power in the 1800s, say no more, need!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review 2011 #5 - Alan Bradley's I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: Flavia De Luce Mystery 4 by Alan Bradley
Published by: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: November 1st, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
Challenge: Mystery and Suspense 2011
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
Christmas is coming to Buckshaw. Which means Santa and presents and a film crew. The De Luce's, ever in financial ruin, have rented the house out to a film crew so that they can afford such things as Christmas and food. Flavia, for the moment, is more concerned with the arrival of Santa, because with her cunningly devised experiment she will prove to her sisters once and for all that Santa is real! All that was needed was to whip up a little birdlime, which is a no-brainer to the chemically inclined Flavia. The arrival of the film crew does prove a fun distraction till the long awaited results of Christmas Eve, especially when the star of the film is revealed to be none other than Phyllis Wyvern, the most famous film actoress of the day. Phyllis brings along the requisite entourage of hangers on who make such good suspects, from the leading man to the disaffected lady's maid to the dictatorial director and the haughty costumes mistress. Throw in a blizzard, a bizarre accident to one of the films roustabouts and a charity performance for the church's roof with all the villager's of Bishop's Lacey descending on the house and you have the perfect setting for a nice cozy country house murder. Because, there will be a murder. And if there's one group of people who like to keep secrets, it's those in film who have spent their lives being other people and trying to hid what they really are.  And if there's one person who is good at uncovering secrets, it's Flavia De Luce.

The fourth installment of Bradley's Flavia De Luce stories is perhaps the best yet, despite my holding a great fondness in my heart for The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag with the Porson Puppet Show. The country house whodunit is a classic of the mystery genre, and while the previous installments have veered towards this style with the insular little community of Bishop's Lacey, it is nowhere near as perfect as a snow bound Buckshaw. Buckshaw with all it's hidden doors and snow topped heights and forbidden rooms is not just a perfect setting for a period film, but perfect for murderous intentions.

Each book has had their enigmatic stranger that becomes the focal point of Flavia's world, and Phyllis Wyvern is wonderful. An aging actress that still has the chops to pull off a teenage Juliet and capture the audiences devotion, even after she's slapped a lighting assistant who happens to be a local. An actress who nightly carries out her own version of Sunset Boulevard watching her old films and keeping everyone in the heated wing of the house awake till the wee hours. But far away in the unheated wing Flavia is not bothered by this and more fascinated by Phyllis's love of the macabre... having heard all about the Bonepenny incident and subscribing to all the murderous periodicals. I picture Phyllis as Gillian Anderson. She has the smallness of frame, the timeless beauty and with all that X-Files work, the macabre would suit her just fine. I in fact wonder if Alan felt the same because shortly after mentioning her appearance there are multiple references to Bleak House, which is what revitalized Gillian's career. Perhaps it was just felicitous, but I would love to see Buckshaw brought to the screen, and Gillian would be perfect.

What Bradley gives us more than a festive little cozy is a glimpse into a bygone age. A time when villages where villages, when great families could go back generations in a house but be unable to keep the roof up. Where vicars where there to bring everyone together, where films where a special occasion and where little girls could go about their way, even if their way was with dangerous chemicals and poisons and pipettes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review 2011 #6 - Robin LaFevers' Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy, His Fair Assassin Book 1 by Robin LaFevers
ARC Provided by the author
Published by: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 644 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
Ismae almost died before she was born. Her mother tried to purge her from her body because she knew that Death was Ismae's father. All her life she has been marked by death with a dark wine stain from her shoulder to her hip. On the day of her marriage to a man she neither loves nor likes, he learns the truth and attempts to kill her. The herbwitch that tried to end her in the womb now rescues her and sends her to the convent of St. Mortain. There Ismae learns that she is cursed, but with gifts from Death himself. Trained to be a handmaiden to Death she learns all the subtle arts from poisons to seduction, though she's not too keen on the womanly arts. She becomes a finely skilled tool, an assassin for Death himself. Her first two assignments go rather well and the men are sent to their graves. The deaths of these two men though are inopportune for Brittany's government who is trying to stay an independent Duchy from France. As atonement for the inconvenience the convent has wrought the Duchy's young ruler, Anne, and her bastard brother, Gavriel Duval, Ismae is to accompany Gavriel to court and aid the country, while also serving the sometimes conflicting needs of the convent.

While at court, Gavriel is worried that he has been saddled with a loose cannon. Ismae seems no need to confide in Gavriel, or ask his permission, and seems willing to kill whomever Death has marked, whether it's convenient to Gavriel or not. Ismae though is in a world where, through Gavriel, she is starting to wonder if the convent has things quite right. She has spent the last few years cloistered away from the world and is now questioning the convents teachings. Embroiled in affairs of the Breton Court and the Privy Council, Ismae soon learns that Anne is a ruler worthy of protection and Gavriel may be a man worthy of her heart. If only St. Mortain would show her what her true destiny is.

I have been a fan of Robin LaFever's since I was wandering around Barnes and Noble back in 2007 and stumbled upon Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. The blend of Egyptian mythology with a plucky heroine in Edwardian England seemed a book that was written to perfectly meld all my favorite things inbetween two book covers. Not to mention the gorgeous art of Yoko Tanaka. Over the years I have waited with anticipation for each of the subsequent volumes to be released. I also fell in love with Robin's other series for younger readers, Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist. Needless to say, she quickly became on of my favorite writers and one whom I've forced nearly all my friends to read. Side note, it's not cruel and unusual punishment if they end up loving the books as I do. Plus, one of my friends named her son Nathaniel, so obviously her son needed a full set of the books (four so far)! Anyways, because of this lovely thing called the internet, I was able to get in touch with Robin because I felt that she needed to be exposed to as many readers as I could get her. First she joined goodreads, which I heartily encourage of everyone, and then with the launching of my blog, I now have even more of a platform in which to declare my love of these books.

This year marks a new series for Robin. Grave Mercy is the first in her new "His Fair Assassin" series, the HIM being Death. Set in Breton in the 15th century, Robin was "curious to see what [I] think, since it is SO different from Theo!" She's right, it is SO different from Theo. But I've come to the conclusion that a great author is able to write in any genre and on any subject matter as long as they have a clear authorial voice that comes through. Robin has that voice. It changes with the characters and the timeperiods she's writing about, but there's a way she grips you from the outset. She has an engaging writing style that doesn't make it feel like you're fighting the text to get from word to word and paragraph to paragraph. It's a book where you look up and find yourself surprised that an hour or two or three have passed, or even that it's five in the morning and shouldn't you be asleep by now?

This flow in her writing is even more impressive when you think about the fact that this is Historical Fiction in essence. I read a lot of Historical Fiction and it can easily be bogged down with overly archaic language, too many historical events and plot points given to you like a lesson at school that you hated the first time around and has you scrambling back and forth over the text trying to remember minutiae of each plot and counter plot. But Robin did an amazing job of making the people real and not making the history presented in a way that it was too complex therefore making me feel dense. The book just flowed. I fell for Ismae and her evil Hogwarts convent and then fell all over again when Gavriel showed up. These characters became real to me. I was invested in their lives and with getting them together! Jane Austen had it so right with Darcy and Elizabeth, now just make one an assassin and the other an upright young man, Anne his sister gets to be Georgiana, and you just wait for them to realize the truth that, though they are so different, they are so right for each other. The thing is, now I have a problem. I want the next book now. You are all reading this and being all jealous that I already got to read it and I'm sure you have no pity for me... but now I have to wait even longer than you for the second book, think of it that way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review 2011 #7 - Patricia Briggs' Cry Wolf

Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega Book 1) by Patricia Briggs
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: July 29th, 2008
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
Anna is off to Montana with Charles. Little does she know that in the dark, snowbound forest, evil is lurking. Leaving Chicago behind is at once exhilarating and terrifying. She no longer has the fear of her pack, she now has the fear of the unknown. What does Charles expect of her? Is he really a good man? Upon landing in Aspen Creek, Anna is all the villagers are talking about. The stoic and cold Charles has found a mate. Too bad the first time that she gets to be presented to the masses is at Doc Wallace's funeral. A time of respect and reflection is turned into a bit of a to-do when another wolf, Asil, makes a bit of a play for Anna, but recoils when he realizes she's an Omega. Later, back at Charles' house, he explains to Anna that she's quite a catch and that they aren't officially mated yet, so others will set their cap at her.

But the possibilities of other mates is not on Anna's mind. She's worried over Charles still recovering from the Chicago trip and the fact that his father is sending the two of them out into the forest to track a rogue werewolf that is causing trouble. The trouble could be one of two things, it could be a simple rogue, or it could be a power play to intimidate the Marrok and make him back down on his decision to "out" the werewolves, like the fae did twenty years earlier. Neither Charles or Anna think they are in any danger, but Asil knows differently. He is dreaming of her. The young upstart witch who murdered his beloved. The fact that the rogue werewolf has the same markings as Asil's dearly departed Sarai means something. Can a pack of werewolves band together and make a stand against the evil in the forest? Even if that evil might be a very deadly witch.

I loved this spin off from Briggs' Mercy Thompson series. Here we do get a bit more of a romantic boy and girl co-narration going on, but we also get a riveting story and some history. With a smaller cast of characters fighting for survival in the woods, it's kind of like Michael Crichton does werewolves, of course, I should mention that I am a fan of Crichton, and this isn't a slur on the book. Also, delving deeper into the characters that have mainly stayed on the sidelines or in Mercy's back story gives even more depth to the world Briggs has created. From learning about Bran's youth and how he was changed into a werewolf, to Charles' own upbringing and his type of magic. I'll add here, I so want to be able to conjure clothes for myself like Charles does. It seems like such a useful power, especially in the colder climates. I feel like I need a sweater, bam, I have one, awesome! See what I'm saying?

But hands down, it was Asil that rocked my world. A werewolf of legend whose wife was a healer and a wolf and he cultivated roses in Spain till one day their young ward, from a powerful family of witches, turns against him and his life is ruined. So heart wrenching, and so not vampires and fairies. I'm so glad we got to have some witch action in this book, varies it up from the vampire book, fae book, vampire book, fae book pattern that Briggs has established in her previous series. Though I still have some unanswered questions about Walter... but overall, I'm very satisfied, reading to dive into book two and keep my wait for River Marked as painless as possible.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss
Published by: Quirk
Publication Date: January 17th, 2012
Format: Hardcover Accordian, 82 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"One enchanting romance. Two lovers keeping secrets. And a uniquely crafted book that binds their stories forever.

When Evelyn Morgan walked into the village bookstore, she didn’t know she would meet the love of her life. When Brendan Thorne handed her a medieval romance, he didn’t know it would change the course of his future. It was almost as if they were the cursed lovers in the old book itself . . .

The Thorn and the Blossom is a remarkable literary artifact: You can open the book in either direction to decide whether you’ll first read Brendan’s, or Evelyn’s account of the mysterious love affair. Choose a side, read it like a regular novel—and when you get to the end, you’ll find yourself at a whole new beginning."

A neat little idea for a book, thanks also go to Quirk for sending me a coy! But who could resist that cover? All rich and tapestry-esque.

Gone West by Carola Dunn
Published by: Minotaur
Publication Date: January 17th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In September 1926, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher visits Sybil Sutherby, a school friend now living in Derbyshire as the confidential secretary to a novelist. Suspecting that something is seriously amiss, Sybil has asked Daisy to discretely investigate. Upon arrival, Daisy finds a household of relatives and would-be suitors living off the hospitality of Humphrey Birtwhistle, who had been supporting them through his thriceyearly, pseudonymous Westerns. When he took ill, though, Sybil took over writing them while he recovered, only to see the sales ances increase. Now, she fears that someone in the household is poisoning Birtwhistle to keep him ill and Sybil writing the better-paying versions. But before Daisy can even get decently underway, Humphrey Birtwhistle dies under suspicious circumstances and Daisy now faces a death to untangle, a house full of suspects and a Scotland Yard detective husband who is less than pleased at this turn of events."

Yeah, new Daisy Dalrymple! Now, I'm not actually caught up this far in the series... but I LOVE what I've read so far.

An Irish Country Courtship by Patrick Taylor
Published by: Forge
Publication Date: January 17th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"After less than a year in Ballybucklebo, Barry Laverty is settling into the village, and with only a few more months to go before he becomes a full partner in Dr. O'Reilly's medical practice, Barry's looking forward to becoming a fixture in the community. But an unexpected romantic reversal gives him second thoughts. As much as Barry enjoys the rough and tumble of life in County Down, is tending to routine coughs and colds in a humble G.P.’s shop all he wants out of life?

Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly is going through personal upheavals as well. After mourning his deceased wife for decades, he’s finally allowed a new woman into his life. But this budding courtship is not going over well with Kinky Kincaid, the doctors’ housekeeper, who fears having her position usurped by O’Reilly’s new flame.

Meanwhile, life goes on in Ballybucklebo. From a mysterious outbreak at the local school to a complicated swindle involving an unlucky race horse, the two doctors will need all of their combined wit and compassion to put things right again—just in time for their lives to change forever."

So, I still have the first book on my tbr pile, which is almost the size of a library, if I'm honest, but this looks like such a wonderful series, so hopefully it's in your tbr pile as well!

Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card
Published by: Tor
Publication Date: January 17th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Ender’s Shadow explores the stars in this all-new novel...

At the end of Shadow of the Giant, Bean flees to the stars with three of his children--the three who share the engineered genes that gave him both hyper-intelligence and a short, cruel physical life. The time dilation granted by the speed of their travel gives Earth’s scientists generations to seek a cure, to no avail. In time, they are forgotten--a fading ansible signal speaking of events lost to Earth’s history. But the Delphikis are about to make a discovery that will let them save themselves, and perhaps all of humanity in days to come.

For there in space before them lies a derelict Formic colony ship. Aboard it, they will find both death and wonders--the life support that is failing on their own ship, room to grow, and labs in which to explore their own genetic anomaly and the mysterious disease that killed the ship’s colony."

New Ender's book, I'm down with that.

Amanda/Miranda by Richard Peck
Published by: Speak
Publication Date: January 17th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 176 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Intrigue, romance, and scheming aboard the Titanic

This updated edition of the popular Richard Peck novel, available in time to commemorate the anniversary of the Titanic's fateful voyage in 1912, starts with a chilling prophecy. When Miranda begins her position as maid-servant to the glamorous and selfish Amanda Whitwell, Amanda wastes no time in using Miranda to suit her own cruel purposes. Miranda becomes the lynchpin to a plot that Amanda devises to marry an American who can maintain her lavish lifestyle, but also keeps the rogue she loves close at hand. However, destiny intervenes, and they board the ill-fated Titanic. This story has all of the romance, glamour, intrigue, and tragedy of the Titanic but ends, satisfyingly, with redemption and forgiveness."

Well, with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, we're going to be getting a lot of new book and a lot of re-releases. Personally, I'm all for it, though I'm most looking forward to the new Julian Fellowes miniseries! It's like Downton Abbey ON A BOAT!

The Fry Chronicle by Stpehen Fry
Published by: Overlook
Publication Date: January 17th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Stephen Fry arrived at Cambridge University as a convicted fraudster and thief, an addict, liar, fantasist, and failed suicide, convinced that any moment he would be sent away. Instead, he befriended bright young things like Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie, and he emerged as one of the most promising comic talents in the world. This is the engrossing, hilarious, and utterly compelling story of how the Stephen the world knows (or thinks it knows) found his way. Tales of champagne, love, and conspicuous consumption jostle with insights into Broadway and TV stardom. A feat of trademark wit and verbal brilliance, this is a book unafraid of confronting the chasm that separates celebrity from a young man's personal reality."

SO excited about this. I've never really been a fan of Fry's fiction (I know, blasphemy) but his first autobiography, Moab is My Washpot was sensational, so big hopes for this one!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review 2011 #8 - Paul Magrs' Never the Bride

Never the Bride (Brenda and Effie Book 1) by Paul Magrs
Book Provided by Headline Publishing
Published by: Headline Publishing
Publication Date: 2006
Format: Paperback, 280 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
Brenda has decided that after her long long life it's time for some peace and quiet in the small northern seaside town of Witby, famed for Dracula's ship, the Demeter, crashing into its harbor. While the town does have many B and B's, Brenda sets out to make hers the friendliest and cleanliest for a few select guests. Settling down has always been the last thing on her mind in a life of tumult and late night escapes, but she has a nice routine and a best friend, Effie, her neighbor next door who runs a junk shop filled with centuries of family ephemera. Days are spent cleaning and making her home nice, going out for tea and dinners with Effie, and quietly getting on with life, something the bride of Frankenstein never thought possible. Yet Brenda realizes it is too good to last when during one of her and Effie's outings, their regular waitress at The Christmas Hotel, Jessie, is literally 20 years younger. She has gone to a new boutique in town and the years have just been taken away. Brenda's years of being surrounded by the strange and peculiar means she knows that this "Deadly Boutique" has to be up to something, and her feisty new friend Effie is all for investigating. The boutique though is only one of many strange occurrences. Aliens, vampires, every manner of supernatural goings on start to happen, and they all seem to have one thing in common, Brenda.

For quite awhile now I've had two books by Paul Magrs on my "to_get" shelf on goodreads (I've also oddly had one of them on the shelf nearest my computer tower that I just recently rediscovered). Never the Bride and 666 Charing Cross Road intrigued me, yet not being in print here I was at the whims of someone selling a copy to a used bookstore or biting the bullet and paying the shipping charges from overseas. I met Paul this past fall at TeslaCon and realized that these books needed to be bumped up the list. Paul is an engaging reader. Sometimes authors get up to read their work and it falls flat. You aren't drawn into the world. I was instantly drawn into the world of Brenda and Effie as the characters took him over. During the weekend I got to know Paul a little, attending his readings and Q and A's, hanging out at the hotel's bar. 

We're now facebook friends and he put me in touch with his publicist to wrangle me a few of his books for my blog here, yeah. I was instantly over the moon and filled with dread. Here is someone I had met who I genuinely liked but had yet to read his work. What if it was awful? What if he asked me how I liked it? What if I had to break it to him that I hated a book with characters so dear to his heart? It's a constant fear of reviewers, or at least a fear of this reviewer. What if you get too close to your subject? What if you form some alliance or tentative friendship that can't withstand the truth? Because I will always tell the truth. I can't lie. As an artist I have learned to take harsh criticism, and it has made me better at what I do, so therefore I'm not trying to be mean, I'm trying to make you better. Sadly it's easier to write about a bad book than a good one, but when it's someone you like and admire, you feel bad that you didn't like it. I've even once or twice hesitated to even publish my review because the book was so bad and the author someone I so admired, yet I still published my review for all to read. Because in the end, the truth will out. As you've probably surmised because this book is on my top ten reads for 2011 that all my fears where unjustified in this case. Whew.

The book combines so many of my favorite things into one book it's instantly a series I must now devour. Never the Bride is set up like an old fashioned chap book, with each chapter dealing with a different crisis that has arisen. Just like the different guests that stay at Brenda's B and B, each chapter is a cozy little mystery that while solved by chapters end, adds a little more to the books overall story arc. I like cozy little mysteries. There's something comforting about them, but then, sometimes they are formulaic. I think by adding in a few vampires, aliens and characters from Gothic literature, that Paul has smashed the formulae and made something new. It's like Mapp and Lucia for the supernatural set. Buffy for retirees. Being Human, but just a little more mature. In fact I can totally see this as a series with Geraldine James as Brenda and perhaps Annette Crosbie as Effie.

At different points in the book I was sad that the chapter was ending, because, the characters being guests, would leave, and leave me a little sad. The family of aliens that Brenda harbors where so sweet and so well developed they didn't devolve into the horror of cliche, Simon Pegg's atrocious Paul anyone? Because I'm sure the first time I said this book had aliens, you kind of cringed a little, as I myself did. Aliens and Neanderthals (Australopithecus to be exact) don't usually seamlessly fit into fantastical fiction, I'm sure the Neanderthal episode of Buffy wasn't your favorite, aside from adding "Beer foamy" to you quotes; and you sometimes end up with the mess that Jasper Fforde has gotten himself into with his Thursday Next books where you just don't care anymore. But here each character is created with such loving detail that no matter how much you think this might be too much or too far, it isn't. It's just perfect. I instantly felt that these fictional characters where in fact my friends and can't wait to visit them again and again. If only I could stay at Brenda's B and B sometime... and not just in my dreams.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review 2011 #9 - Dodie Smith's It Ends With Revelations

It Ends with Revelations by Dodie Smith
Published by: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: 1967
Format: Hardcover, 280 Pages
Rating: ★★★
Out of Print

Jill wanders the streets of a town she once knew in desperate times. How things have changed knowing that she could now have anything in any shop window along the high street. Of course, she doesn't want or need for anything since she married the distinguished actor Miles Quentin. Miles is in town to reopen the theatre by testing out a new play that has been adapted from television before moving to the West End. Jill's life is no longer the chaotic life of a stage manager. Now she's there for Miles. She keeps him on schedule, writes his correspondences, buys little presents for the cast, she is wife and personal assistant in one. While out on errands for Miles she wanders into a shop she remembers frequenting in her past. She wants to buy a box of chocolates for the young lad in the play, Cyril. He's never acted on stage and her and Miles want to give him all the encouragement they can. This day proves to be a fateful day. She runs into Geoffrey Thornton, a member for Parliament whom she met once at a function. They get to talking and she learns that his two daughters, Robin and Kit are huge fans of Miles'. They agree to arrange a meeting. Miles, as well as Jill, are charmed by the girls and soon when Miles is busy with the play, she spends all her free time with the girls.

Provincial runs are short though, and after the week the play packs up for London, as do the Thorntons. They all agree to meet often once back in the city, where Jill and Miles are met by their horribly austere and modern new apartment which they loath. It does not look like the play is going to have as receptive an audience in London and the bets are on that it won't last above three weeks. Miles starts to desperately engage Jill into thinking about what they want to do after the play folds. Perhaps an autumn in the country, some time abroad, a new home. Because while she can't place her finger on when or how, things have changed between her and Miles. It all comes out one day when Thornton takes her to see a possible house for Miles' "autumn in the country." Jill is married to Miles because of convenience. Miles is gay. The girls have long suspected this to be the case and have been encouraging their father with the "Thornton Take-Over Scheme" wherein Jill will be there new mother, seeing as their first nymphomaniac, dipsomaniac mother wasn't the best. Things are made all the more easier by the fact that Jill fell in love with Georffrey at first sight, as he did with her. But Jill will not leave Miles after all he has done for her. She is caught between a rock and a hard place and then, just when the pressure couldn't be any worse a scandal is set in motion.

After my second and most recent foray into Dodie Smith's back catalog thanks to my library, I was hesitant to continue. The Girl from the Candle-lit Bath being perhaps one of the worst books I've read in awhile. I am very glad to whomever put this book on hold at the library so that I had to read it right away, because one can't just return a book to the library unread, it goes against Blue Stocking code! I found the characters sweet and endearing. It Ends with Revelations gave me hope that perhaps I read Smith's worst work and now all I had was wonderful books to look forward to, all piled on my desk! The thing that struck me as groundbreaking about this work is the open discussion of homosexuality. Dodie Smith, spending many years in the theatre industry, obviously didn't have the prejudices of many others in society and therefore homosexuality is represented as it is, just the way people are. Robin and Kit are amazingly refreshing in their attitudes. They where raised by tolerate loving people, their grandmother being a friend of Oscar Wilde. To think this book was written in 1967! Many people don't have this openness of mind to this day. There where times when sometimes the slang to refer to homosexuals was a bit dated, so it seems a little derogatory. But keep in mind that while sometimes the words are a product of their times, the feelings behind them are amazingly progressive.

When one thinks that this book came out the year the sexual offences act finally decriminalised homosexuality in England, you realize how amazingly progressive it is. Jill being Miles' beard, which, lets face it, still happens a lot in Hollywood, and the way the Thorntons open up there hearts and in return change everyones lives for the better makes this a very uplifting book. Of course Dodie tries to throw in a bit of a scandal at the end, which wasn't worthy of the characters or their relationships, but she's an author who dabbles in theatre, you have to forgive her need to sometimes throw in an obstacle or two. I'm also glad to see that according to Amazon, this book is going back into print early next year! A book this fun and progressive and modern should not be confined to dusty shelves where the librarian has to basically go into the catacombs to unearth it for a devoted reader like myself!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review 2011 #10 - Helene Hanff's Q's Legacy

Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff
Published by: Penguin
Publication Date: 1985
Format: Paperback, 177 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
Helene Hanff holds a special place in the heart of book lovers for her love affair with the Marks and Co bookstore at 84 Charing Cross Road which she chronicled in the book of the same name. That slim volume is possibly one of the most popular books about books ever written. So popular there was even a movie adaptation with Anthony Hopkins. You bring Anthony Hopkins in and you know it will be a classic. In the book she passingly mentions getting her education through a man she nicknames "Q." Q is known to others as the Cambridge professor, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, and doesn't have anything to do with James Bond. I wondered a bit about how a poor girl from Philly was educated by this elusive Q. Well, lucky for us 84, Charing Cross Road was only one of a few autobiographies Helene wrote. Q's Legacy starts with that first day she realized that she couldn't afford college anymore and found his books on a shelf at the public library. She instantly found a kinship with this man an ocean away and knew that he would teach her all she ever wanted to learn. Through him she became a writer, after a failed attempt at acting and play writing.

Helene was always living hand to mouth, writing whatever she could to make a buck. When 84, Charing Cross Road unexpectedly became a huge hit she didn't know what to do with herself. She wasn't such a celebrity that she couldn't answer her own fan mail, but still, it opened doors she never thought would open. While she doesn't repeat herself with ground covered in 84, Charing Cross Road or her triumphant trip to London as a result of the book which she documented in the sublime sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, she adds so many more stories that where possible because of her book. Helene talks about the joy of going to England to see her book become a movie for the BBC and how she got to go to television center and watch her life come alive. She also recounts her trip to England for the opening of the stage adaptation that was a hit in England and a bomb in America. But it's not just the trips, it's the characters that people her life, the way she sees the world. Every time she said that she had a book that she hated writing so badly and chucked it down the incinerator my heart skipped a beat. If only the world had more of her books not less! She was too harsh a critique and because of that we are left with only a few slim volumes of a writer who has the most distinct and original voice I've ever read. So go out a buy this book before it becomes out of print, like so many of her wonderful books ironically are.

I'll leave off with recounting an interesting story of how I found out our lives intersect. On August 13th, 1978, she finally got to pay her regards to Q. She was invited by the widow of his biographer to come to Cambridge while she was there for the opening of the play and to visit Q's study. It was still as it always had been, preserved in memoriam. This was the day where she walked where her mentor walked. The whole book, perhaps her whole life had been building to afternoon tea in Q's study. Half a world away I was born. I say that makes August the 13th 1978 a rather significant date for the two of us.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tuesday Tomorrow

Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: January 10th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 624 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"After writing sixteen Inspector Lynley novels, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George has millions of fans waiting for the next one. As USA Today put it, "It's tough to resist George's storytelling, once hooked." With Believing the Lie, she's poised to hook countless more.

Inspector Thomas Lynley is mystified when he's sent undercover to investigate the death of Ian Cresswell at the request of the man's uncle, the wealthy and influential Bernard Fairclough. The death has been ruled an accidental drowning, and nothing on the surface indicates otherwise. But when Lynley enlists the help of his friends Simon and Deborah St. James, the trio's digging soon reveals that the Fairclough clan is awash in secrets, lies, and motives.

Deborah's investigation of the prime suspect-Bernard's prodigal son Nicholas, a recovering drug addict-leads her to Nicholas's wife, a woman with whom she feels a kinship, a woman as fiercely protective as she is beautiful. Lynley and Simon delve for information from the rest of the family, including the victim's bitter ex-wife and the man he left her for, and Bernard himself. As the investigation escalates, the Fairclough family's veneer cracks, with deception and self-delusion threatening to destroy everyone from the Fairclough patriarch to Tim, the troubled son Ian left behind."

Yeah! New Inspector Lynley, life is good.

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
Published by: Delacorte
Publication Date: January 10th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?"

Oh, you can never give me enough Russia!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: January 10th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love."

Ok, yes, it does sound depressing, as doomed love is... but the reviews are amazing on this book! I trust John Green.

Tempting the Gods by Tanith Lee
Published by: Wildside Press
Publication Date: January 10th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Tempting the Gods collects some of Tanith Lee''s fiction from the late 80s to the present, from a variety of venues (Asimovs'', Weird Tales, and Realms of Fantasy). They range in tone from the dark ("Cain") and Arthurian Legend ("The Kingdoms of the Air"), to Arabian Nights adventure ("These Beasts") and the just plain weird ("Tiger I"). All stories feature Lee''s carefully crafted language, tight plotting, vivid imagination, and matchless evocation of atmosphere. Not all tales are dark - there''s even some humor, such as the new to this collection "God and the Pig." Like Bradbury and Vance, Lee is a unique stylist. This collection - the first part of a two part series - is a perfect introduction to her work, some of the best writing in the weird fiction category."

I love when all the stories are brought together from different sources under two nice covers! Front and back that is, with a nice spine on the side.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Top 10!

Instead of having to slog through all the books I've read, I'm sure you want to know which ones to just go out and buy. So here are my top 10. These are the best of the best. They made an impression on me and I hope they will on you. They where so good, many where presents to others this year.

10) Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff: The most fully autobiographical of her books, covering most of her life. We get a bit of 84, Charing Cross Road and Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, but so much more. Anyone who hasn't read a Hanff book is missing out on one of the most original voices in biographical literature.

9) It Ends with Revelations by Dodie Smith: Smith is most known for 101 Dalmatians and I Capture the Castle, but It Ends with Revelations really struck me. It's so modern and frank in it's views of sexuality. There are a few cliches thrown in at the end that threaten to destroy it, but it's a book that really left an impression on me and I'm happy to see that it's going back into print this year.

8) Never the Bride (Brenda and Effie Book 1) by Paul Magrs: When I met Paul at TelsaCon this year, it was his reading from his first Brenda and Effie book that made me realize I had to know more about this author and this little world he has created. Paul has made a nonsensical world around Witby, a northern town where Dracula's ship happened to crash land, wherein the more absurd it gets the more it works. This kind of fantastical writing is a balancing act that two books in (I still have 3 more to read!), Paul seems to have mastered. Jasper Fforde better pay attention.

7) Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega Book 1) by Patricia Briggs: The first book in the spin off from Patricia Briggs' successful Mercy Thompson books is action packed, but in a very small way. We have four "people" out in the cold and snow of Montana, like some extreme survivalist Michael Crichton novel. The fact that they're witches and werewolves and have pasts going back hundreds of years just adds to an already wonderful book.

6) Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin Book 1) by Robin (R.L.) LaFevers: This book, which actually doesn't come out till later this year, is drastically different from any of Robin's previous books. But be it Edwardian England or France in the 1400s, she has a way of making historical fiction come alive. She incorporates the history so well that it's easy to understand and part of the narrative. I never felt lost or at sea, which some historical authors are wont to do. But add a human element, add characters you love, and it's a new favorite series waiting to be read. It even made me pull out a history book to find out more about the time period!

5) I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia De Luce Book 4) by Alan Bradley: Flavia De Luce has been a favorite of mine since the first book came out and my friend David at Murder by the Book was like, "GET THIS BOOK!" The previous three installments where wonderful, but the conclusion always left me a little cold. This book, while I could say it left me cold, because of the chase over the snowy rooftops, it ended just right. A perfect holiday read, and a perfect Flavia book... I hope there are many more to come.

4) The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles Volume 1) by Patrick Rothfuss: I know, bad me never picking up the book till this year... him being a local author and all... but, I hated the original cover, and I actually met Pat before I started reading it, so I knew it was always going to be read eventually. With the second book coming out I finally read it and LOVED it. It's just so wonderful. Exquisite world building where there are characters you love to hate, hate to love. Magic! Dragons! A haunted childhood wherein Kvothe will one day avenge the death of his parents by mystically evil badasses. I can't wait for the final volume!

3) Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick: This book, aside from the amazing illustrations, is just a wonderful story. How two generations clash through shared experiences, shared traumas and shared secrets. I could not put this book down, one sitting, and 6 AM where what this book did to me, and it was worth it!

2) Madame Tussuad by Michelle Moran: The French Revolution, or more precisely, what led up to the revolution, has never been more clear or more fascinating than in Michelle Moran's book. Being an artist myself, it was fascinating seeing the world radically changing though another artist's eyes. To see that Madame Tussuad wasn't just that waxworks lady, she was at the center of a revolution. Her displays showed the people the news of the day in the most extraordinary ways, through her tableaux. I can't wait to get my hands on Michelle's next book which also takes place in France!

1) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: BEST BOOK THIS YEAR! I've been struggling writing a review for this book because it is so awesome. I can't do justice to the lyrical quality of the writing or the depth of the storytelling. Saying it's about a circus wherin two opponents do battle, it's just not right. It's just an aspect of the best book I've read in years, so easily the best book of this year!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Year in Review

Ok, I thought that it would be fun to do like an end of year/beginning of the year tally to see what I've read, and also, what I remember. Because the true strength of a book is not the impression right after you read it, but the impression that remains. What stays with you, long after the review has been written, long after the book is set aside. So, without further ado, my 114 reads of 2011. And I promise not the cheat and look at my reviews!

1) The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton: Historical fiction that never quite lived up to what it could have been, but still a great read.

2) Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayword: The authors bickering is easily as funny as the rest of the book. Plus there's a cat, go read it!

3) Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus (Theodosia Book 3) by R. L. LaFevers: I love Theo so much and this third installment did a great job of tying up some loose ends and expanding the possibilities for future books.

4) Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh (Theodosia Book 4) by R. L. LaFevers: Theo finally in Egypt. YEAH!

5) Sense and Sensibility Comic by Nancy Butler: Nancy Butler has no sense (haha) of the truths in the book and therefore brought out a horrid adaptation that misses the boat completely.

6) Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson Book 4) by Patricia Briggs: I don't know why I waited so long to read Mercy Thompson, sooo good. This one we get a Mercy road trip and a semi-traditional house haunting.

7) Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson Book 5) by Patricia Briggs: Not my favorite, just because being lured into a underground fairy world seems a bit too predictable. Ok, another question, when did underground fairy worlds become predictable in my life?

8) Mercy Thompson: Homecoming by Patricia Briggs: The guys are all drawn as overly hunky, but the depiction of Mercy kind of makes up for this.

9) Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega Book 1) by Patricia Briggs: So glad that the spin off series from Mercy Thompson is as good! Just loved this trek in the wilds of Montana.

10) Madame Tussuad by Michelle Moran: Just fascinating look at the French Revolution through the eyes of the key artist of the day. If there was one flaw, it ended too soon.

11) Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega Book 2) by Patricia Briggs: A little too much like the first... though I loved the werewolves exploring Seattle.

12) The Unicorn's Tale (Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist Book 4) by R. L. LaFevers: Red Unicorns! That's all that needs to be said.

13) Something Rotten (Thursday Next Book 4) by Jasper Fforde: I think this series as really run it's course.

14) First Among Sequels (Thursday Next Book 5) by Jasper Fforde: Yep, totally run it's course.

15) Emma Manga Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori: Wonderful Manga about a maidservant finding love. Not too into the characters yet.

16) Emma Manga Volume 2 by Kaoru Mori: Getting better, starting to fill out the cast with many wonderful characters, and I adore Mori's sum ups at the end, they might be the best part of the book.

17) One of Our Thursdays is Missing (Thursday Next Book 6) by Jasper Fforde: Why am I still reading this series... Jasper has now destroyed and rebuilt the book world. destroying one of my favorite aspects of the series. Pissed that books seven is being pushed ahead and yet no Shades of Grey sequel, which might be one of my most favorite books ever!

18) Emma Manga Volume 3 by Kaoru MoriL So starts the Emma marathon thanks to my library...

19) Emma Manga Volume 4 by Kaoru Mori

20) Emma Manga Volume 5 by Kaoru Mori

21) Emma Manga Volume 6 by Kaoru Mori

22) Emma Manga Volume 7 by Kaoru Mori: But, this isn't the last volume, what do you mean you have no more evil library system (grumble, grumble).

23) The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles Volume 1) by Patrick Rothfuss: Awesome. Tom Brown's School Days plus Harry Potter plus pure awesomeness! AND Patrick is a huge Joss Whedon fan (Evesdown docks, hehe).

24) The Children of Green Knowe (The Chronicles of Green Knowe Book 1) by L.M. Boston: Why have I never read these? In the same vein as The Borrowers and Edward Eager's Magic Books, it's a wonderful world in a moldy old country house in England. LOVE!

25) River Marked (Mercy Thompson Book 6) by Patricia Briggs: Totally wickedly cool demon otters! Also, a nice break in the series making it stand out more because of it's difference. Charlaine Harris take not, keep reinventing yourself.

26) Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale: Just as wonderful as the first time I read it. The transplanting of this German fairy tale to Mongolia shows the universality of fairy tales, and how awesome Shannon Hale is.

27) The Fifth Elephant (Discworld Book 24) by Terry Pratchett: Uberwald yeah! People take vampires and werewolves too seriously these days, and that's why we need Terry Pratchett!

28) The Deeds of the Disturber (Amelia Peabody Book 5) by Elizabeth Peters: Totally makes sense now why this one went out of print. It wasn't the boredom of England, but the strife between Amelia and Emerson that struck a wrong cord with me.

29) The Guild Comic by Felicia Day: Great little prequel to The Guild, so many things make more sense. I also loved that it wasn't really traditional comic art.

30) The Last Camel Died at Noon (Amelia Peabody Book 6) by Elizabeth Peters: Worst Amelia Peabody book so far. Look an Egyptian culture still thrives in the hidden desert sands. Blurg.

31) Old Habits by Melissa Marr: Why do I keep reading these little short stories that aren't very good and detract from the books?

32) Brisingr (Inheritance Book 3) by Christopher Paolini: I finally finished it! And you know what, I kind of think I might have grown out of these books... we'll see, because I shall (eventually) finish the last book!

33) The Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann: So dumb and plotless and why did Tim Gunn write the intro? WHY!?!

34) Chi's Sweet Home Manga Volume 1 by Kanata Konami: So begins Chi working her cute little cat way into my heart.

35) Castle Waiting Volume 1 by Linda Medley: Wonderful, kind of off, fairy tales. Nuns with beards, what more do I need to say?

36) Castle Waiting Volume 2 by Linda Medley: Didn't advance the story as much as I would have liked, but still great.

37) Love Letters by Katie Fforde: Horrid, one of the worst books I've read in a long time. Full of chick lit stereotypes and cliches.

38) Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse Book 10) by Charlaine Harris: Much more fun as a re-read. Also, still totally digging the Romanov angle.

39) Shopaholic and Baby (Shopaholic Book 5) by Sophie Kinsella: MUST STOP READING SHOPAHOLIC. Becky hires a PI to spy on her husband, can we say wrong!?!

40) Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse Book 11) by Charlaine Harris: Fun new entry, but I think the series needs to come to a close before it gets too stale. It was mean though of EW to say this was one of the worst books of the year. Totally NOT! I've read far far worse.

41) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: I have and will always hate St. John while adoring Rochester.

42) A Bride's Story Manga Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori: Nice departure for Mori from maids. A little weird that the groom is soo young, and it's hard to tell characters apart sometimes.

43) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: Ok, I know I should love this, but I just didn't. Don't worry, I have been yelled at by many a friend, so I've gotten my scoldings.

44) Murder Your Darlings (Algonquin Round Table Mysteries Book 1) by JJ Murphy: I want to go back and hang with these people! Perfect historical mystery!

45) Hair of the Dog (Algonquin Round Table Mysteries Short Story) by JJ Murphy: A "barter" economy might not be so bad.

46) Wrapped by Jennifer Bradley: Wait, this might be the worst book of the year. Making Egyptology stupid and lame, it's a sin! I'll send some deities to deal with you Jennifer Bradley.

47) The Doll Short Stories by Daphne Du Maurier: While the main story didn't live up to the hype, because the ending was given away by everyone, the rest of the stories have Du Maurier's signature spooky and unsettling vibe.

48) Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Book 4) by Gail Carriger: Just what the last book lacked! Tons of Akeldama! Also, poor Biffy.

49) Anya's Ghost by Vera Brogsol: I want to know why people loved this? A girl gets haunted by a mean ghost. End of story, boring, blah.

50) The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicles Book 2) by Patrick Rothfuss: Not as strong as the first book. I loved the kind of Renaissance court, but the fairy sex, really?

51) Withering Tights (The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey Book 1) by Louise Rennison: I was hoping she'd go more grown up with the new book series, instead it feels like a step back with a less likable lead.

52) The Truth (Discworld Book 25) by Terry Pratchett: Terry can get at the heart of anything, even if it's a nebulous as "the truth." Also, still totally relevant because of how the media distorts the news...

53) Doctor Who: The Ripper Comic by Tony Lee: Stupid ARC, didn't even have the damn Ripper story in it.

54) Evelyn Evelyn by Amanda Palmer: Had to read something by Neil Gaiman's missus... I think if I had known that Evelyn and Evelyn where "real" I would have got it more.

55) Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach: The swearing Dr. Suess, totally the hit book of the year for parents.

56) Away in a Manger: A Very Turnip Wedding Night by Lauren Willig: My favorite Lauren Willig character gets his nasty on.

57) Today I Will Fly (Elephant and Piggy Book 1) by Mo Willems: Why have I never read these books? Granted they're for little kids, but they're soo cute!

58) My Friend is Sad (Elephant and Piggy Book 2) by Mo Willems: I am totally the elephant, Gerald, just saying.

59) I Am Invited to a Party (Elephant and Piggy Book 3) by Mo Willems: Just, get these if you have little kids, ok?

60) A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice Book 1) by GRRMartin: A re-read of the books before the new one!

61) A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson: It's Downton Abbey in book form, really it is!

62) A Clash of Kings (A Song of Fire and Ice Book 2) by GRRMartin: How I love these books, and how I hate you Onion Knight, most annoying new character.

63) I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia De Luce Book 4) by Alan Bradley: Might be the best Falvia yet, and so wonderfully Christmasy.

64) I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: I should have read this long ago. Just wonderful story of a girl and her castle, which a very dysfunctional family inside it's walls.

65) Two L by Lauren Willig: First non-Pink book of Lauren's which is Shakespeare retold at Harvard. Works oddly well, probably because all academics think they are in Shakespeare.

66) Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff: Best of Helene Hanff's books... well, maybe Duchess of Bloomsbury is better, but this covers more time.

67) The Addams Family: An Evilution by Charles Addams: Charles Addams is a God.

68) Apple of My Eye by Helene Hanff: Kind of out of date "travel guide" to New York. She also hates the MET, who could hate the MET!?!

69) My Sister's Song by Gail Carriger: Sort little story about poison honey.

70) The Girl from the Candle-lit Bath by Dodie Smith: Awful, understandably out-of-print. Self centered stupid characters, grrr.

71) Chi's Sweet Home Manga Volume 2 by Kanata Konami: Yeah, more kitty antics!

72) A Charmed Death (A Bewitching Mystery Book 2) by Madelyn Alt: Kind of cosy mystery meets Twin Peaks, so much fun!

73) Chi's Sweet Home Manga Volume 3 by Kanata Konami: I really need a cat.

74) The Wizard of Oz (Oz Book 1) by L. Frank Baum: The true American Classic, they really all very self-centered aren't they?

75) The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris: Don't read this as a book, it's a slog. Just read it if you need to look up some obscure fact.

76) Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick: Brilliant! Different generations and secrets and pure awesome.

77) Austenland (Austenland Book 1) by Shannon Hale: Ok, I was harsh the first time I read it. Yes, it's funny and sweet and I am looking forward to the movie.

78) Midnight in Austenland (Austenland Book 2) by Shannon Hale: Darker take on Austenland, like Agatha Christie and Midsomer Murders in one. Basically, if you let the Brontes re-write Austen.

79) Chi's Sweet Home Manga Volume 4 by Kanata Konami: Kitty!

80) The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation Book 8) by Lauren Willig: Another wonderful entry in the Pink books, this time Augustus gets off the floor (where he's reciting his cantos) and gets a little action.

81) Chi's Sweet Home Manga Volume 5 by Kanata Konami: Yes, I take out my need for a cat by reading manga... so?

82) Chi's Sweet Home Manga Volume 6 by Kanata Konami

83) Hark! a Vagrant by Kate Beaton: Great comics from Kate Beaton, though the best ones I've already read on her website.

84) Never Learn Anything from History by Kate Beaton: I think actually better than her newer and more popular book because it has less well known comics. Also, not out of print if you order it from her.

85) Endless Night by Agatha Christie: Such high expectations that where dashed in this crappy book. No death for 200 pages! IE, 20 pages from the end of the book!

86) Mini Shopaholic (Shopaholic Book 6) by Sophie Kinsella: Really someone stop me. I need an intervention. These books are so bad yet I keep reading them...

87) Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandmand Comic Voume 1) by Neil Gaiman: Kind of a meh start to what everyone tells me is such an awesome series.

88) A Bride's Story Manga Volume 2 by Kaoru Mori: I really should have re-read the first book because I was confused by all the characters.

89) Snuff (Discworld Book 39) by Terry Pratchett: I had overly high expectations after the Discworld Convention this year, so obviously, it didn't live up to them... I also missed a lot of my favorite characters as too much time was spent on politics.

90) Chi's Sweet Home Manga Volume 7 by Kanata Konami: Kitty! But now I'm all caught up so what do I do?!?

91) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: BEST BOOK THIS YEAR!

92) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: When in doubt, to spice up a boring book, and incest and a little dash of girl on girl, NOT! Such a horrid stupid book.

93) The Doll's House (The Sandmand Comic Voume 2) by Neil Gaiman: Meh... I'm really not seeing the appeal.

94) The Charles Addams Mother Goose by Charles Addams: Sick, in the best possible way.

95) The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi: Totally not what I expected, and boring to boot. All the males look the same and you can't keep track of anyone.

96) The Snake, The Crocodile and The Dog (Amelia Peabody Book 7) by Elizabeth Peters: I liked that we got to see the spark of Amelia and Emerson all over from the beginning, I just still don't grasp how the titles fable fits in.

97) It Ends with Revelations by Dodie Smith: Shockingly good book that deals with issues of sexual identity and love.

98) The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec Book 2 by Jacques Tardi: Again, I can't tell who anyone is, and what's with the angry rant at the end about no one buying his other book!?!

99) Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (Oz Book 4) by L. Frank Baum: Snarky cats make books 1000 times better. Snarky cats who want to eat piglets, 1000000 times better.

100) Trail of the Spellmans (Spellmans Document 5) by Lisa Lutz: More serious, but still enjoyable, though I'm starting to miss the old young Rae.

101) You Might As Well Die (Algonquin Round Table Mysteries Book 2) by JJ Murphy: Dorothy Parker and Houdini make the best crime fighting duo in ages!

102) The Road to Oz (Oz Book 5) by L. Frank Baum: Um... boring.

103) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Book 1) by Stieg Larsson: Again with the incest! Also, what's with stealing the ending from Val McDiarmid!?!

104) Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin Book 1) by Robin (R.L.) LaFevers: Female Assassin's in Brittany who work for death. Wonderful!

105) Tintin in the Congo (Tintin Book 2) by Herge: Really racist, not surprising because of the time it was written, but using dynamite on a rhino is a bit much.

106) Dream Country (The Sandmand Comic Voume 3) by Neil Gaiman: Ok, I'm starting to see the appeal...

107) The Bro Code by Barney Stinson: 100% pure Barney. Must read for fans of How I Met Your Mother!

108) The Secret History by Donna Tartt: Incest again!?! What's with that people. It's icky not titillating, which this author seems to think. Also, just kill someone and move on, slow ass paced book.

109) Season's of Mist (The Sandmand Comic Voume 4) by Neil Gaiman: Ok Neil, you totally lost me with your endless pages of the politics of the endless.

110) Piggie Make Me Sneeze! (Elephant and Piggy Book 9) by Mo Willems: Again, so cute.

111) We are in a Book! (Elephant and Piggy Book 13) by Mo Willems: Awesome breaking of the 4th wall.

112) Happy Pig Day (Elephant and Piggy Book 16) by Mo Willems: Because everyone can party on pig day!

113) Never the Bride (Brenda and Effie Book 1) by Paul Magrs: The Bride of Frankenstein running a B and B. Totally wonderful, like Mapp and Lucia for the undead.

114) The Chimneys of Green Knowe (The Chronicles of Green Knowe Book 1) by L.M. Boston: So different from the movie, which started me reading these books, but still so fascinating. Interesting look into blind culture too.

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