Friday, August 17, 2018

The Mysterious Bookshop

Bookstore: The Mysterious Bookshop

Location: New York, New York

The Official Patter: "The Mysterious Bookshop is an independent bookstore and publisher specializing in mystery fiction. It is one of the oldest mystery bookstores in the Unites States. In addition to housing its own imprint, the shop contains the offices of both the Mysterious Press, and MysteriousPress.com, an e-book imprint. The store and its various publishing enterprises are owned and operated by editor and publisher Otto Penzler; its inventory consists of new and rare titles in detective fiction, crime fiction, spy fiction, thrillers, and various other mystery fiction subgenres. The store also features the largest collection of Sherlock Holmes titles and Sherlockiana in the world, as well as a considerable Bibliomystery collection."

Why I Love Them: What's interesting about all the times I've visited New York is the number of times I ask people what their favorite bookstore is and most people just comment that there aren't really many bookstores about. How can they be this ignorant!?! There are so many independent bookstores full of goodness that you could spend your entire vacation going from one to another! Which makes me now wonder about the trustworthiness of my friends... perhaps they know me too well and know that this is what would happen and have therefore been deceiving me "for my own good." Little do they know that being surrounded by books is the best thing for me! In fact the weekly newsletter that drops in my inbox every Friday from The Mysterious Bookshop makes me wonder if I could get my doctor to recommend a trip to the store for my well being...

Best Buy: As I'm sure ALL of you know, I'm an addict of Lauren Willig's books. I don't actually know how many times I've written features for my and other blogs about how much I love her books, or even how many theme months I've done by this point, but one of my favorite theme months was Jazzy July. Jazzy July was to celebrate the release of her 2015 stand alone The Other Daughter. I got to spend that summer reading about Evelyn Waugh and other "bright young things" not to mention how much I love The Other Daughter which I devoured twice! So obviously I was sad that she wasn't going anywhere near me on her book tour, but such is life, and such is me, I will always find a way. That way was The Mysterious Bookshop. Nothing could have been easier than contacting them for a copy of The Other Daughter, signed, to me, Miss Eliza, aka my handle should Mr. Darcy ever bother showing up. The lovely surprise once I got the book was that Lauren mentioned Jazzy July in her inscription. That's what I love about forging relationships with authors and independent bookstores, there's this whole symbiotic relationship. I like their books, I buy their books, I buy their books from an independent store and everyone gets something out of it, the store gets money and a chance for the author to visit again, the author gets money and the chance to write another book, and while I am the one losing money, I get a new book. It's the circle of life! A circle that is made possible by reaching out to stores online. If there's anything I hope this final month of Support Your Brick and Mortar does is to show you that there are resources, there are stores out there to help you get signed copies of books that you will always treasure. All it takes is a little research and a call or an email.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore

Bookstore: Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore

Location: Forest Park, Illinois

The Official Patter: "Centuries and Sleuths is a warm, inviting and well organized store where a customer can sit in a rocking chair while looking through books. A bust of Sherlock Holmes exclusively commissioned by Centuries and Sleuths owner Augie Aleksy graces the bookstore. From the day its doors opened, Centuries and Sleuths has been a destination for the discriminating reader, a meeting place for authors and readers and a place for intellectual discussion. And that’s all been a part of Aleksy’s master plan."

Why I Love Them: I don't know why it is, but whenever I think of the best independent bookstores I know they are almost always stores that specialize in mysteries... This could be because I spent years trailing behind my mom, a devoted mystery fanatic, whenever she went to the bookstore, and especially when she went to Booked for Murder (now Mystery to Me.) Couple that with the fact that Murder By The Book is easily my favorite bookstore I've never been too... and well, you can easily see how my bias came to exist. Enter Centuries and Sleuths. One of my favorite authors was on tour and was stopping by the this Midwestern mystery bookstore I had never heard of... needless to say, they have since made my list of favorite stores I've never been to... and hopefully soon they will upgrade to stores I have been to!

Best Buy: In fact, my best buy from Centuries and Sleuths was initially going to be a best buy purchased in person. Lisa Lutz's Spellman series is hands down one of my favorite book series out there. They are witty and clever and know just when it's right to go dark and just when it's right to throw in a Doctor Who joke. In other words, you can see why I was drawn to them. Well for the book tour for the fifth installment the closest to Madison Lisa was coming was Forest Park Illinois. Not that far a journey, but at the same time, trudging down to the flatland in March is always hazardous, because you never know what the weather will be like. Will it be freakishly warm, or a blizzard? A few years back when I went down in April I was in a blizzard, it wasn't fun. At all. So I decided, as much as I love Lisa, I'd already met her three times at this point so I could sit this tour out, and luckily her tour for the final Spellman book the next year came to Madison! But what was great is Centuries and Sleuths. I called them up saying I could no longer make the event which I had RSVP'd to and instead could they get it signed to me and ship it up north? The sign of a truly great bookstore is when they are accommodating. When they instantly understand that you have had a change in plans and are willing to go the extra mile to help their customers. This, more than anything, is why I want to make the pilgrimage there. I want to go and throw lots of money at them in exchange for books as a big thank you for helping me out when I needed it. And trust me, I needed a signed first edition of The Trail of the Spellmans bad.  

Monday, August 13, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

Wild Hunger by Chloe Neill
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: August 14th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the first thrilling installment of Chloe Neill's spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series, a new vampire will find out just how deep blood ties run.

As the only vampire child ever born, some believed Elisa Sullivan had all the luck. But the magic that helped bring her into the world left her with a dark secret. Shifter Connor Keene, the only son of North American Central Pack Apex Gabriel Keene, is the only one she trusts with it. But she's a vampire and the daughter of a Master and a Sentinel, and he's prince of the Pack and its future king.

When the assassination of a diplomat brings old feuds to the fore again, Elisa and Connor must choose between love and family, between honor and obligation, before Chicago disappears forever."

I love Urban Fantasy set in places I love, like Chicago! Here's to Chloe Neill writing more Chicago set books! Chicago FOREVER!

Black Lotus Kiss by Jason Ridler
Published by: Night Shade Books
Publication Date: August 14th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Winter 1970. As rock stars die of excess and revolution fills the air, newly minted private investigator James Brimstone is spending his days wandering the streets of Los Angeles, looking for low rent cases as far as possible from his last work-for-hire, an unfortunate run-in with the occult on a pornographic film set. But fate has a funny way of slapping Brimstone with the dark hand of magic."

While I hadn't heard of this series until now, the combination of pulp crime and the occult calls to me to pick it up!

The Kill Jar by J. Reuben Appelman
Published by: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 14th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Enthralling. Gripping. Cinematic. Raw. A cold case murder investigation paced like a podcast, as visually stunning as a film, and as brave and personal as our darkest memoirs. J. Reuben Appelman cracks open one of America’s most notorious murder sprees while simultaneously banging the gavel on his own history with violence. A deftly-crafted true crime story with grit, set amid the decaying sprawl of Detroit and its outliers.

With a foreword by Catherine Broad, sister of victim Timothy King.

Four children were abducted and murdered outside of Detroit during the winters of 1976 and 1977, their bodies eventually dumped in snow banks around the city. J. Reuben Appelman was six years old at the time the murders began and had evaded an abduction attempt during that same period, fueling a lifelong obsession with what became known as the Oakland County Child Killings.

Autopsies showed the victims to have been fed while in captivity, reportedly held with care. And yet, with equal care, their bodies had allegedly been groomed post-mortem, scrubbed-free of evidence that might link to a killer. There were few credible leads, and equally few credible suspects. That’s what the cops had passed down to the press, and that’s what the city of Detroit, and J. Reuben Appelman, had come to believe.

When the abductions mysteriously stopped, a task force operating on one of the largest manhunt budgets in history shut down without an arrest. Although no more murders occurred, Detroit and its environs remained haunted. The killer had, presumably, not been caught.

Eerily overlaid upon the author’s own decades-old history with violence, The Kill Jar tells the gripping story of J. Reuben Appelman’s ten-year investigation into buried leads, apparent police cover-ups of evidence, con-men, child pornography rings, and high-level corruption saturating Detroit’s most notorious serial killer case."

I'm liking this more personal approach to cold cases, but using a podcast as the epitome of the true crime genre in the blurb? All the no.

Friday, August 10, 2018

DreamHaven Books & Comics

Bookstore: DreamHaven Books and Comics

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Official Patter: "DreamHaven has been an open shop since 1977. We are leading purveyors of new, used, and rare science fiction, fantasy, horror, film and media books, comics, and graphic novels.

“The Tooth Fairy left the name DreamHaven Books
under my pillow. Usually it’s a 25-cent piece;
but given the current value of the U.S. dollar,
the value of this tip was far more glorious.
DreamHaven is a book-seeker’s cave of miracles.” – Harlan Ellison"

Why I Love Them: Years ago I was searching for the perfect birthday present for my mom. She had recently told me how she thought Neil Gaiman's Coraline was one of her favorite books so I set out to find her a signed copy. Neil had a link on his site to DreamHaven Books and Comics saying that he often popped across the Mississippi River from his secluded Northern Wisconsin home to the Minnesota store and signed books for them and if you were willing to wait a bit he could personalize them. I placed an order long in advance of my mother's birthday and waited. She loved the present when it arrived, Neil had even done a little drawing of a rat in the book! So DreamHaven Books became my go to store for anything Neil Gaiman, from my hardcover editions of Neverwhere and American Gods, to Neil's rather rare guide to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I ordered them all from DreamHaven Books!  

Best Buy: About six months after I placed my first order with them I went to my first WisCon. In the dealers' room who should I find but DreamHaven Books! They had by far the biggest display, and what I loved most was it was a mix of new and used. There were books I had been longing to see in person and books I never thought I'd find. My second year at WisCon, knowing that DreamHaven Books would be there I budgeted accordingly and in fact found a wonderful out of print copy of Caroline Stevermer's The Alchemist: Death of a Borgia which I was then able to get signed by her! But my best buy was purchased at what I will always view as my best convention experience ever, the 2011 North American Discworld Convention. The dealers' room was a wonderful mishmash of the unknown, The Cunning Artificer and The Discworld Emporium, and the familiar, DreamHaven Books. On my third day I went to this lovely and intimate event with one of the other guests, Patrick Rothfuss. He passed out copies of his book The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed for us to read as a group. It was a raucous time and so much fun, in fact if you want to read more about it, you can! After this reading I was waiting for my friend by perusing the wares of DreamHaven Books and Pat came by to give them a stack of copies of The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle. In fact the stack we had just been reading. Now, I already owned a signed first edition of this book, but then Pat said that these were his own personal copies he got when the book came out, as evidenced by the fact he signed and dated them "Pat Rothfuss 7-21-10." How could I pass up an opportunity to own such a unique copy of this wonderful book? The answer is I obviously couldn't because it is my best buy ever from DreamHaven Books, and let me tell you it had some stiff competition.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore

Bookstore: Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore

Location: San Diego, California

The Official Patter: "Founded in 1992, Mysterious Galaxy is an independent genre bookstore specializing in science fiction, fantasy, mystery, young adult, romance, and horror. The founders of Mysterious Galaxy are Terry Gilman, Maryelizabeth Yturralde, and Jeff Mariotte. They met and began talking about Mysterious Galaxy in late 1992 when they recognized a need for a genre store in San Diego and saw it as a way to share their passion for books, book selling, and a love of reading with their community. Mysterious Galaxy opened on May 8, 1993 and among the authors who celebrated the opening of the store with hundreds of fans were Ray Bradbury, David Brin, and Robert Crais."

Why I Love Them: Back in 2009 I really started to get into Patricia Briggs, who of course is now one of my favorite authors, but this was before that happened. The problem was she never seemed to stop in the Midwest, so I took to the Internet and found out about a tour stop at Mysterious Galaxy. While I quickly placed my order for Bone Crossed I started to look at their upcoming events. They literally had the who's who of science fiction and fantasy authors coming through their door. It didn't take long before they became my go-to source for these authors, and because of them I have signed editions from Laini Taylor to Gail Carriger, John Barrowman to Dan Simmons. In fact I just placed an order with them two days ago and by the time this goes live I will hopefully have a new book in my hands!  

Best Buy: Though of all the YA authors specializing with that fantastical bent there's one I long to meet, and that's Leigh Bardugo. I remember back in 2012 reading about a new trilogy coming out. It was dark and Russian and instantly peaked my interest. I immediately went online and ordered Shadow and Bone, interestingly enough from a bookstore I will be featuring in a few weeks. Though with my growing to be read pile the second book was already on it's way to press before I had picked up the first, so I ordered Siege and Storm from Mysterious Galaxy, and then as it turns out, I didn't get around to the series until the next year when the final book, Ruin and Rising was coming out. But that meant I spent the summer of 2014 binging and falling in love with Leigh Bardugo's world of The Grisha. What really struck me was that thinking back to that initial review I read, I don't think they had read the book at all. They painted a very different world from the one Leigh had written, one about a lone girl in a dark forest... and while I would like to find out exactly what they had read, because it still sounds like a book right up my alley, I don't know if I would love it as much as I love Ravka and Alina. And the thing with a series of books is there's ALWAYS one you love more than the rest. If someone says Harry Potter I instantly say that Goblet of Fire is hands down my favorite. So the same rules apply to this series, and it's the second book, Siege and Storm, which I ordered from Mysterious Galaxy which will forever be my favorite in this series and therefore my best buy from them.  

Monday, August 6, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal
Published by: Bantam
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A series of baffling murders among a group of imprisoned agents threatens the outcome of World War II in this chilling mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

World War II is raging, and former spy Maggie Hope knows too much.

She knows what the British government is willing to do to keep its secrets.

She knows the real location of the planned invasion of France.

She knows who’s lying. She knows who the double-crossers are. She knows exactly who is sending agents to their deaths.

These are the reasons Maggie is isolated on a remote Scottish island, in a prison known as Killoch Castle, out of contact with friends and family.

Then one of her fellow inmates drops dead in the middle of his after-dinner drink—and he’s only the first. As victims fall one by one, Maggie will have to call upon all her wits and skills to escape—not just certain death . . . but certain murder.

For what’s the most important thing Maggie Hope knows?

She must survive."

New Maggie Hope! And in Scotland! 

Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MARTIN EDWARDS.

'I'm taking a revolver to Thrackley. You never know with blokes like Carson. I hate these harmless, potty people – they're always up to something.'

Jim Henderson is one of six guests summoned by the mysterious Edwin Carson, a collector of precious stones, to a weekend party at his country house, Thrackley. The house is gloomy and forbidding but the party is warm and hospitable – except for the presence of Jacobson, the sinister butler. The other guests are wealthy people draped in jewels; Jim cannot imagine why he belongs in such company.

After a weekend of adventure – with attempted robbery and a vanishing guest – secrets come to light and Jim unravels a mystery from his past."

While I love books written like Golden Age mysteries, sometimes nothing beats actual Golden Age mysteries... 

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the days leading up to her wedding to Darcy O'Mara, Lady Georgiana Rannoch takes on the responsibilities of a grand estate, but proving she can run a household just may be the death of her in the new Royal Spyness Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service.

If only Darcy and I had eloped! What I thought would be a simple wedding has been transformed into a grand affair, thanks to the attendance of the queen, who has offered up the princesses as bridesmaids. Silly me! I thought that withdrawing from the royal line of succession would simplify my life. But before Darcy and I tie the knot in front of queen and country, we have to find a place to live as man and wife...

House hunting turns out to be a pretty grim affair. Just as we start to lose hope, my globetrotting godfather offers us his fully staffed country estate. Mistress of Eynsleigh I shall be! With Darcy off in parts unknown, I head to Eynsleigh alone, only to have my hopes dashed. The grounds are in disarray and the small staff is suspiciously incompetent. Not to mention the gas tap leak in my bedroom, which I can only imagine was an attempt on my life. Something rotten is afoot--and bringing the place up to snuff may put me six feet under before I even get a chance to walk down the aisle..."

Anyone else sick of Four Weddings and a Funeral puns? 

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece--an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931."

Literally THE BOOK everyone I know is talking about this summer!

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 448 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
""The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren't such easy things to keep."

It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.

Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley's latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you've closed the last page."

It's a new Susanna Kearsley, AKA a new "Must Buy!"

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose
Published by: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The New York Times bestselling author of The Library of Light and Shadow crafts a dazzling Jazz Age jewel—a novel of ambition, betrayal, and passion about a young painter whose traumatic past threatens to derail her career at a prestigious summer artists’ colony run by Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany and Co. fame. “[M.J. Rose] transports the reader into the past better than a time machine could accomplish” (The Associated Press).

New York, 1924. Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.

But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life."

Tiffany and the Jazz Age are making me go, perhaps if she doesn't mention sandalwood I won't have flashbacks to that bad book of her's I read... 

The Husband Hunters by Anne de Courcy
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A deliciously told group biography of the young, rich, American heiresses who married into the impoverished British aristocracy at the turn of the twentieth century – The real women who inspired Downton Abbey.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century and for the first few years of the twentieth, a strange invasion took place in Britain. The citadel of power, privilege and breeding in which the titled, land-owning governing class had barricaded itself for so long was breached. The incomers were a group of young women who, fifty years earlier, would have been looked on as the alien denizens of another world - the New World, to be precise. From 1874 - the year that Jennie Jerome, the first known 'Dollar Princess', married Randolph Churchill - to 1905, dozens of young American heiresses married into the British peerage, bringing with them all the fabulous wealth, glamour and sophistication of the Gilded Age.

Anne de Courcy sets the stories of these young women and their families in the context of their times. Based on extensive first-hand research, drawing on diaries, memoirs and letters, this richly entertaining group biography reveals what they thought of their new lives in England - and what England thought of them."

Let's read about some Buccaneers! 

An Unwanted Guests by Shari Lapena
Published by: Pamela Dorman Books
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway...but when the storm hits, no one is getting away.

It's winter in the Catskills and Mitchell's Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in for the long haul.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead--it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. And there's nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm."

And Then There Were None Catskills edition? 

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas
Published by: Pamela Dorman Books
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Sizzling with action and suspense, #1 New York Times bestselling author SARAH J. MAAS delivers a coming-of-age Selina Kyle who will steal readers' hearts in a new, highly anticipated YA blockbuster: CATWOMAN!

When the Bat's away, the Cat will play. It's time to see how many lives this cat really has.

Two years after escaping Gotham City's slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Gotham City looks ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove that as Batwing he has what it takes to help people. He targets a new thief on the prowl who has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Together, they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman is clever--she may be Batwing's undoing.

In this third DC Icons book, Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that's closest to her heart?"

Beloved YA author writing about Catwoman? YAS!

A Girl of White Winter by Barb Hendee
Published by: Rebel Base Books
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Kindle, 327 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Kara, as a ward with no parentage and no future, has been raised knowing nothing outside her lady’s chambers. Until Royce Capello, a visiting nobleman, is struck by her ice-pale looks, and demands her as payment for the land the family needs.

With barely time to protest, Kara is sold and packed off for a life as a concubine—until a raiding party descends on Royce’s company and she’s kidnapped for the second time in as many days.

Whatever happens, Kara will be alone in the world, inexperienced and fearing even the vast unfamiliar sky. But one raider gives her a choice—and a magic mirror appears to show her where each path will lead...

~She can leave with her protector Raven and journey with his performing troupe, competing for his mercurial affections.

~She can flee the raiders’ settlement, and return to Royce’s manor, chattel among devious nobility.

~Or she can stay in the settlement, bound to firm, silent Caine, who is as gentle as he is staid and inscrutable.

Her fates twist and turn to affect far more than she could have guessed, tangling the bitter with the sweet—and Kara must choose which consequences she can live with..."

Yeah, yeah, romantic fairy tale retelling, but what I really love is the publisher's name, Rebel Base Books!

Friday, August 3, 2018

The King's English Bookshop

Bookstore: The King's English Bookshop

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

The Official Patter: "The King’s English Bookshop opened its door (there was only one, to start) in 1977. Betsy Burton and Ann Berman, book lovers and aspiring writers, thought they had it all figured out. They rented an old building with several rooms, thinking they’d write their Great American Novels in the back, emerging to sell a book or two whenever the bells on the front door jangled to announce the arrival of a customer. The women soon realized the jingling bells were not a distraction from their writing life but a welcome sound, signalling the opportunity to meet new friends and talk books. The bookshop became a full-time labor of love."

Why I Love Them: The interesting thing about Utah is this was the epicenter for the rise of the YA movement. Just look at all the authors who write in that genre and still live there: James Dasher, Ally Condie, Shannon Hale, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson (in a one-two Brandon punch), and Jessica Day George. If we go back to those who've since left we'll see the darling of the YA genre, Stephenie Meyer, was also a member of the Utah literati. Having that many big name authors is a boon to an independent bookstore, and that boon was 100% there for The King's English Bookshop. But it's friendliness to YA authors meant it also became a hub for authors on tour, so you could catch everyone from Marissa Meyer to Leigh Bardugo stopping by.   

Best Buy: For more years than I can remember I've been a fan of Shannon Hale. I was lucky enough to meet her once at a bookstore here in Wisconsin and another time down in Illinois. But in recent years as her proliferation as a writer has grown her author appearances outside the sphere of Utah and it's environs has waned. So needless to say the reason I first became away of The King's English Bookshop was because she was signing there. Since then all my Shannon Hale books have come from The King's English, in fact I'm impatiently (very impatiently) awaiting two books at this very moment! But of all her books there is one that I view the most important, the true best buy. When the fourth book in her Bayern series Forest Born was released in 2009 it had a cover that broke with the look of the previous three books. The previous three volumes had simply gorgeous covers by the amazingly talented Alison Jay. These covers are in fact why I picked up the series. But then artistic covers were no longer in vogue and instead we got a picture cover with some YA waif instead of Alison Jay artwork for Forest Born. I was no happy. Shannon Hale herself didn't seem that happy with the change and saw that her fans weren't happy and did something about it. In 2011 a "special edition" of Forest Born was released with an Alison Jay cover and I didn't think I could be happier. But then Shannon was doing a signing at The King's English and I was able to get a signed copy of this much hoped for edition. Therefore it is easily my best buy, and a book lovers dream come true to have all the covers of a series matching!  

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Murder By The Book

Bookstore: Murder By The Book

Location: Houston, Texas

Official Patter: "Murder By The Book is one of the nation's oldest and largest mystery specialty bookstores, established in 1980 by Martha Farrington, and purchased by McKenna Jordan in 2009. The store stocks over 25,000 books - new and used, hardbacks and paperbacks, first editions, collectibles, gift items, mystery magazines, and more. We host over 200 of the hottest mystery, crime, and fantasy authors for book signing events every year. We've had everyone from Dick Francis to P.D. James, Sue Grafton to Robert Crais, Michael Connelly to Patricia Cornwell, James Lee Burke to Daniel Silva."

Why I Love Them: They are literally my favorite bookstore that I've never been to! I first heard about them because I had fallen in love with the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig and I saw this was a bookstore she was stopping at way back in 2008 to promote the fourth book in the series, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. It wasn't long before I started to notice how many authors I loved stopped by, all those wonderful signed first editions that could be coming my way! From Tasha Alexander to Deanna Raybourn, Melissa Marr to Kate Morton, Mary Robinette Kowal to Jacqueline Winspear, so many authors on the historical fiction/mystery spectrum made Murder By The Book their go to stop on their tours that I long to live closer. And this doesn't even include Charlaine Harris's link to the store and how many signed books they have supplied me with of hers!

Best Buy: But the best thing about Murder By The Book is that through them I have been given some of the best book recommendations. Recommendations that I'm sure I'd never have heard of otherwise! Johnnie Cakes (the moniker many authors know and love John Kwiatowski by) introduced me to The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, a favorite Steampunk series of mine by Pip Ballantine and her husband Tee Morris among many many others. Occasionally he'll just email me and be like, you need this. I always listen. But before Johnnie there was the store's dearly departed owner David Thompson giving me recommendations. Back in 2009 there was a new book coming out, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and he told me it was not just a must read but that it was going to be big. I listened and am the proud owner of a signed first edition of this Alan Bradley book that went on to win every award that year. Though the awards would mean nothing if it wasn't for the fact that I just fell in love with this series. Every year I wait with baited breath for the next installment, currently at nine books, one short story, and book ten on the way. There's something about Flavia De Luce that I just connect with. She's precocious, incorrigible, and whip-smart. She might be one of my favorite crime solving heroines of all time, and easily my favorite who isn't yet a teenager! But to think, I would never have heard of her it not for David! That is why I love reaching out and forming relationships with bookstores online. They have all these books they want to recommend to you and they help to expand your horizons. The Internet truly does make the world smaller, and because of it I've met some great friends, both real and fictional.       

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

Murder at Ochre Court by Alyssa Maxwell
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the summer of 1898, reporter Emma Cross investigates a shocking death among the bright lights of Newport's high society...

After a disappointing year as a society columnist for the Herald and staying with her more well-heeled Vanderbilt relatives in New York City, Emma has returned to the salty air, glittering ocean vistas, and grand stately mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, more determined than ever to report on hard news.

But for now she’s covering the social event of the season at Ochre Court, a coming-out ball designed to showcase Cleo Cooper-Smith, who will be literally on display, fittingly as Cleopatra, in an elaborate tableau vivant. Recently installed modern electricity will allow Miss Cooper-Smith to truly shine. But as the deb ascends to her place of honor, the ballroom is plunged into darkness. When the lights come back on, Cleo sits still on her throne, electrocuted to death.

Quickly establishing that the wiring was tampered with, Emma now has a murder to investigate. And the array of eligible suspects could fill another ballroom—from a shady New York real estate developer to a neglected sister and the mother of a spurned suitor. As Emma begins to discover this crime has unseen connections to a nefarious network, she puts her own life at risk to shine a light on the dark motives behind a merciless murder."

Oh, I was already sold, but a tableau vivant has me extra excited! 

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano
Published by: Revell
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018
Format: Paperback, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Tressa Harlowe's father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn't take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they're really up to. She'll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father's fortune--before someone else finds it first.

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they'll not soon forget."

A treasure hunt in a castle? Yes please!

A Tale of Two Murders by Heather Redmond
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"On the eve of the Victorian era, London has a new sleuth...

In the winter of 1835, young Charles Dickens is a journalist on the rise at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at the estate of the newspaper's co-editor, Charles is smitten with his boss's daughter, vivacious nineteen-year-old Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the pleasant evening. Charles, Kate, and her father rush to the neighbors' home, where Miss Christiana Lugoson lies unconscious on the floor. By morning, the poor young woman will be dead.

When Charles hears from a colleague of a very similar mysterious death a year ago to the date, also a young woman, he begins to suspect poisoning and feels compelled to investigate. The lovely Kate offers to help—using her social position to gain access to the members of the upper crust, now suspects in a murder. If Charles can find justice for the victims, it will be a far, far better thing than he has ever done. But with a twist or two in this most peculiar case, he and Kate may be in for the worst of times..."

Ever since I read Terry Pratchett's Dodger I've been interested in a young Charles Dickens and his work at the Evening Chronicle. 

The Quiet Side of Passion by Alexander McCall Smith
Published by: Pantheon
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Isabel Dalhousie grapples with complex matters of the heart as she tries to juggle her responsibilities to friends, family, and the philosophical community.

With two small boys to raise, a mountain or articles to edit for the Review of Applied Ethics and the ever-increasing demands of her niece, Cat, who always seems to need a helping hand at the deli. Isabel barely has any time for herself. Her husband, Jamie, suggests acquiring extra help, and she reluctantly agrees. In no time at all, Isabel and Jamie have a new au pair, and Isabel hires an intelligent assistant editor to share her workload. Both women, though, have romantic entanglements that threaten to interfere with their work, and Isabel must decide how best to navigate this tricky domestic situation. Should an employer ever inject herself into her employees’ affairs?

Meanwhile, Isabel makes the acquaintance of Patricia, the mother of her son Charlie’s friend Basil. Isabel tries to be supportive, especially given that Patricia is raising her son on her own, without the help of his father, a well-known Edinburgh organist also named Basil. But when Isabel sees Patricia in the company of an unscrupulous man, she begins to rethink her assumptions. Isabel must once again call on her kindness and keen intelligence to determine the right course of action, at home, at work, and in the schoolyard."

And now for some Isabel Dalhousie...

Shadow's Bane by Karen Chance
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018
Format: Paperback, 624 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Half-human, half-vampire Dorina Basarab is back--and facing her biggest challenge yet in the next urban fantasy in the New York Times bestselling series.

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir--half-human, half-vampire. As one of the Vampire Senate's newest members, Dory already has a lot on her plate. But then a relative of one of Dory's fey friends goes missing. They fear he's been sold to a slaver who arranges fights--sometimes to the death--between different types of fey.

As Dory investigates, she and her friends learn the slavers are into something much bigger than a fight club. With the Vampire Senate gearing up for war with Faerie, it'll take everything she has to defeat the slavers--and deal with the entirely too attractive master vampire Louis-Cesare...."

I've been in need of a good urban fantasy series...

Friday, July 27, 2018

Barnes & Noble 82nd and Broadway

Bookstore: Barnes and Noble 82nd and Broadway

Location: New York, New York

Why I Love Them: What's interesting about visiting any city is that after a couple of visits there are a few places that become your "go to" places. You have your favorite restaurant, your favorite museum, your favorite movie theatre, and your favorite bookstore. In recent years the main reason I was visiting New York was to visit my friend Jess, but I was also applying to grad school, and therefore my world became her world, which for quite some time was the Upper West Side. First up around Columbia University and later near the American Museum of Natural History. The Upper West Side has one Barnes and Noble located on 82nd street, two blocks from the American Museum of Natural History and right around the corner from Jess's apartment during one of my long stays. It also happens to be located as a convenient disembarkation point if you're riding the subway to any location on the Upper West Side. Therefore if Jess and I were discussing a book and saying that we thought the other should get it, we'd just get off the subway and wander into the 82nd Street Barnes and Noble and see if they had the book we were discussing. Oddly enough they usually did. They had impeccable buyers for this location. One time I remember I got on the express versus the local on the subway, but that wasn't a problem, because it meant I could swing by Barnes and Noble and grab a drink and a book before getting back to Jess's.  

Best Buy: Though my best buy just inadvertently ended up being my best buy. Back in 2005 a few of my friends and I were meeting in New York to continue on to Halifax for a thesis gallery show our mutual friend Sara was staging. The trip happened to coincide with one of my fellow travelers birthday. So Jess and I went to the 82nd Street Barnes and Noble one day after lunch because Jess wanted to buy Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus for our friend Orelia. I didn't know too much about the book other than a few years previously when I had been visiting Jess in Boston she had been raving about the book. She was still raving about it and it was going to be Orelia's present. I picked up the book and was reading the back and thought, damn, this does sound good, so I bought myself a copy hoping to read it on my vacation. In fact what with reading Anne of Green Gables, I was going to Canada AND visiting Prince Edward Island after all, and then finding a cool Elizabeth Gaskell book called Lois the Witch I just HAD to read immediately, I don't think I picked up The Birth of Venus until I got home. But when I did it was better than I could have hoped for. Art, mystery, intrigue, nuns! It made me realize that historical fiction could be awesome. In fact, I'd go so far as to say The Birth of Venus gave birth to my absolute love of historical fiction, and I thank Jess and the 82nd Street Barnes and Noble for that just as much as the book!    

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Banres & Noble Union Square

Bookstore: Barnes and Noble Union Square

Location: New York, New York

Why I Love Them: The summer I was in New York after I visited Books of Wonder I wandered a few blocks east and stumbled on the original Barnes and Noble. This is a Barnes and Noble that is no more. The obvious reason is seen in what I was doing that day. I was heading to the Barnes and Noble located on Union Square and overlooking that famous park. This is an iconic Barnes and Noble in an old brownstone, whereas the original store, just a block away, while the beginning, didn't really embrace how the store had evolved since it's founding to be the powerhouse brick and mortar store it is today. Therefore a few years ago the original location shuttered it's doors and the Union Square location became the new flagship store. When you read about the mega signings and events that Barnes and Noble is hosting, this is the location where it all goes down. Story upon story of exposed duct-work and gorgeous pillars, so that while it still feels like a Barnes and Noble it also feels like something more. It feels older. More steeped in publishing history than your average chain store. And that's what makes this location so unique. That while it is the flagship of a chain store and has all the amenities you'd expect, it has a personality all it's own. This is what makes it a must visit store. Oh, how I hope to one day make it back to New York and get to go to a signing here. Now that would be truly memorable.      

Best Buy: Now this is going to be another one of those weird "best buys" that I've sporadically written about and that all seem to have happened in New York. The first time I went to New York was in June of 1996, but compared to the horrid humidity I had just left behind in Washington D.C. the heat was nothing. Plus I was ferried about by taxis almost everywhere due to being sick with a sinus infection. The second time I went to New York, the trip I was on when visiting all these bookstores, was again in June, but I wanted to walk the city. I wanted to see and do things that the rest of my family was unwilling to do on my previous trip. The thing about summer heat, especially for anyone who lives in a city that has many trees, is that you never really appreciate how freakin' hot it can get when the heat is funneled down the side of buildings that have been baking in the sun all day and the pavement is just radiating so much warmth you expect it to buckle under your feet. I longed for trees and streets that had shady sides. Therefore my visit to Barnes and Noble was practical. I needed to hide from the heat and cool off. Which means my "best buy" was whatever beverage and food I picked up at the cafe. I don't remember what it was, but I remember the sheer bliss of sitting at a table in a huge and completely empty cafe near a window overlooking Union Square with amazing air conditioning pouring down from the ceiling. I didn't buy any books, but still this is one of the best memories I have of a Barnes and Noble and no books were involved!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

Thrawn Alliances by Timothy Zahn
Published by: Del Rey
Publication Date: July 24th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader team up against a threat to the Empire in this thrilling novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

"I have sensed a disturbance in the Force."

Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.

Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might."

Timothy Zahn, the man who made me a bookworm because of his Star Wars books! 

The Space Between by Dete Meserve
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: July 24th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 300 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The truth isn’t what it seems in this stirring novel of suspense.

After presenting a major scientific breakthrough to a rapt audience across the country, renowned astronomer Sarah Mayfield returns home to a disturbing discovery. Her husband, Ben, a Los Angeles restaurateur, has disappeared, leaving behind an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean. The only answers their son, Zack, can offer are the last words his father said to him: keep the doors locked and set the alarm.

Sarah’s marriage was more troubled than anyone suspected, but now she is afraid that her husband’s recent past could be darker than she dares to admit. Suspecting that nothing about Ben’s vanishing is what it seems, Sarah must delve into the space between old memories, newfound fears, and misleading clues to piece together the mystery of her husband’s disappearance—and find what she hopes in her heart is the truth."

Ooh, that mysterious disappearance has me hooked, as does the whole, you never really know someone angle! 

You're on an Airplane by Parker Posey
Published by: Del Rey
Publication Date: July 24th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Have you ever wondered what it would be like talk to Parker Posey? On an airplane, with Parker as your seat companion, perhaps? Parker’s irreverent, hilarious, and enchanting memoir gives you the incredible opportunity. Full of personal stories, whimsical how-tos, recipes, and beautiful handmade collages created by the author herself, You’re On an Airplane is a delight in every way.

In her first book, actress and star of movies such as Dazed and Confused, Party Girl, You’ve Got Mail, The House of Yes, and so many more, Posey opens up about the art of acting, life on the set, and the realities of its accompanying fame. A funny and colorful southern childhood prepared Posey for a life of creating and entertaining, which not only extends to acting but to the craft of pottery, sewing, collage, yoga, and cooking, all of which readers will find in this whimsical, hilarious, always entertaining book. Parker takes us into her childhood home, behind the scenes of the indie film revolution in the 90s, the delightful absurdity of the big-budget genre thrillers she’s turned into art in a whole new way, and the creativity that will always be part of both her acting and her personal life.

With Posey’s memorable, hilarious, and poignant voice, her book gives the reader a feeling of traveling through not only a memoir, but an exploration, meditation, and celebration of what it means to be an artist. Buckle up and enjoy the journey."

Even if you don't know and ardently love Parker Posey, that cover has got to SERIOUSLY make you want to pick up this book! 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Books of Wonder

Bookstore: Books of Wonder

Location: New York, New York

Why I Love Them: Initially I only knew Books of Wonder as a publisher of books, mainly reprints of old titles in beautiful new editions. Therefore I was really excited when I was planning a trip in 2000 to visit New York for a David Bowie concert to learn that Books of Wonder wasn't just a publisher but a bookstore as well! In fact it was the bookstore that was the basis for Meg Ryan's "The Shop Around the Corner" in You've Got Mail. I remember taking a cab downtown and how busy the street was, just like in a movie. I couldn't wait for this small independent bookstore to take me far away from reality with it's cuteness. I think perhaps I needed to remember that movies and reality are two totally different things. Because the bookstore wasn't anything like I imagined. I don't know if it was undergoing renovations or what, but the inside was cordoned off and really small with very few books on white bookshelves that were movable. Seeing as there were few shelves I don't know what they would have done with more books. The whole store felt sparse and temporary. Where was the original artwork they were known to display? Where was the space for their epic signings? It felt too awkward to ask the clerk why their store was so disappointing so instead I looked over their shelves to find something to buy. As most of their self-published books I already owned I picked up a copy of The Princess and the Goblin for my mother and a new Redwall book for myself. But one day I will go back and solve this disappointing mystery!   

Best Buy: When I really started getting into collecting special editions of books the Books of Wonder reprints of L. Frank Baum's Oz books were something I really looked forward to finding. They'd release them on a schedule unknown to me but every time I'd go to Borders I'd check to see if the next Oz book had been republished and do a dance of joy if there was a new one on the shelf. So while I technically didn't buy them at the store I'm still making them my best buy. They did had a lovely window display that I took a really bad picture of if you want some proof! If you force me to choose, the favorite of the Oz books would be Ozma of Oz with The Emerald City of Oz as a close second. Ozma of Oz because it's the book that the movie Return to Oz is heavily based on, though there is no shock treatment in the book, and The Emerald City of Oz for the amazing glitter spot varnish, it's so pretty! What's interesting to me about the Oz books is that I've never finished reading the whole series. They start so strong and keep tapering off in quality until you kind of just tune out. The main problem I have is that L. Frank Baum is so bitter about these being his only popular books. His introductions are not even slightly veiled hostility but outright rage at everyone making him write Oz books. His hatred leaks into the narrative and he writes in a very condescending tone so that once you leave behind the books with the unique spines and move onto the standardized design, which I admit does look nice on a bookshelf, you just kind of stop reading. In fact I feel an attempt to finish coming on again... let's see how far I get this time!  

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Strand Bookstore

Bookstore: Strand Bookstore

Location: New York, New York

Why I Love Them: The Strand is like Mecca for book lovers who journey to New York. In fact, if you ask someone about bookstores in New York the only store they're likely to mention by name is the Strand. It took me several trips to New York, including one trip where I ate lunch ACROSS THE STREET, before I was finally able to sneak away from friends, family, and other obligations to take in all this store has to offer. What's odd is when I walked through those doors I was simultaneously overwhelmed and unimpressed. Yes, they supposedly have eighteen miles of books but I will tell you any day, a better curated store is worth more than a store that has everything. In fact I'd go so far as to say I really prefer my local stores to this much lauded one. You'd think the New York Times would be a little more careful giving away the title of "the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores" but then again, I've been known to disagree with that publication occasionally. The three areas of interest to me were the basement, the labyrinth of review copies, the rare books floor, aka those you dare not touch, and a lovely display right near the entrance of leather bound limited editions and signed books. Yes, the main floor with it's shelves and shelves offered me nothing really to latch onto, I only saw books that were already adorning my shelves. The books in the basement were in bad shape. The books on the rare floor were too few and too precious, being up there made me nervous that I'd sneeze and owe someone a million dollars. The only section I really spent any time with was that display near the entrance...  

Best Buy: Because all good bookstores are smart to put leather bound books near entrances, because these are books that proclaim they are books. They are what we long to fill our libraries. They are the evolutionary end of books. You start with a manuscript, work your way up through paperbacks, hit hardcovers, and finally reach leather bound loveliness. And yes, I agree that it's odd that it's almost the complete reverse of how books are released, but that's just the way it is. They had Franklin Library and Easton Press limited editions, so many books that I just wanted to hold. But there was one book that stood out. My family has always been a huge Masterpiece No Longer Theatre Family. Even before I was born this was my parents favorite show, so I guess it makes sense that they indoctrinated me when I was young. Alistair Cooke and Russell Baker were icons in my family. Their introductions brought depth and human interest to the shows that followed. I will still never understand why PBS did away with these introductions and closing remarks, they MADE the show. But then again, they edit for time now, so suck it PBS. Now back to that book that caught my eye, it was Alistair Cooke's The Patient Has the Floor. And it was signed. This book is a collection of talks Cooke had given over the years and I thought my father would just love to have it. Oddly enough this might be the only "best buy" that no longer is with me. Or my father for that matter. While it was a great gift at the time, the truth is we love Russell Baker more and an Alister Cooke signed book resells quite well... so yes, sometimes books I once loved go away to make room and provide money for other books. Such is life.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

Competence by Gail Carriger
Published by: Orbit
Publication Date: July 17th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Accidentally abandoned!

All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail.

When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced into extreme subterfuge (and some rather ridiculous outfits) Prim must also answer three of life's most challenging questions:

Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul?
Will her brother ever stop wearing his idiotic velvet fez?
And can the amount of lard in Christmas pudding save an entire species?"

I do think the perfect book club could restore a soul...

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
Published by: Del Rey
Publication Date: July 17th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.

This is not that fairy tale.

There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.

And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.

There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed."

Is this farm boy poor and perfect? You'll just have to read to find out!

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McQuire
Published by: DAW
Publication Date: July 17th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Once and twice and thrice around,
Put your heart into the ground.
Four and five and six tears shed,
Give your love unto the dead.
Seven shadows on the wall,
Eight have come to watch your fall:
One’s for the gargoyle, one’s for the grave,
And the last is for the one you’ll never save.
For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.

Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight. Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down? Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out?

There’s only one way to know for sure.

Nine will let you count the cost:
All you had and all you lost.
Ten is more than time can tell,
Cut the cord and ring the bell.
Count eleven, twelve, and then,
Thirteen takes you home again.
One’s for the shadow, one’s for the tree,
And the last is for the blessing of Persephone."

How does Seanan put out SO MANY books in a year without the James Patterson tag-team gig?

Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre
Published by: Tor Teen
Publication Date: July 17th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Liv Burnham thinks nobody knows Morgan Frost like she does, but a terrible accident pushes her down the rabbit hole where Morgan's secrets hide and she'll be lucky to make it out alive....

On a hot summer night, Liv, Morgan, Clay and Nathan are on the way home from a party in Clay's convertible. Best friends dating brothers? It doesn't get better than that. But the joyride ends in sudden impact, a screech of brakes, and shattering glass. On that lonely country road, four lives change forever.

Liv wakes in the hospital. At first she's confused when they call her Morgan, but she assumes it's a case of mistaken identity. Yet when the bandages come off, it's not her face in the mirror anymore. It's Morgan's.

Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life. But as Liv tries to fit herself into Morgan's world, she discovers endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety and a dark task to finish...if she doesn't lose her mind first.

Forced to confront the disturbing truths that Morgan kept hidden in life, Liv must navigate a world of long-buried murder, a dangerous love affair―and a romance that feels like a betrayal."

This sounds like something Wes Craven would make into a film... 

The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O'Neal
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: July 17th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 364 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime.

One glance at the breathtaking Rosemere Priory and Olivia understands why the manor, magnificent even in disrepair, was the subject of her mother’s exquisite paintings. What she doesn’t understand is why her mother never mentioned it to her. As Olivia begins digging into her mother’s past, she discovers that the peeling wallpaper, debris-laden halls, and ceiling-high Elizabethan windows covered in lush green vines hide unimaginable secrets.

Although personal problems and her life back home beckon, Olivia finds herself falling for the charming English village and its residents. But before she can decide what Rosemere’s and her own future hold, Olivia must first untangle the secrets of her past."

Just take book, add English estate, and I'm sold...

Friday, July 13, 2018

Book Review - Rebecca Rosenberg's The Secret Life of Mrs. London

The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg
ARC Provided by the Publisher
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: January 30th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 348 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

Charmain London loves her husband Jack, the famous author, but sometimes their marriage feels like a boxing match both literally and figuratively. He longs to be surrounded by his comrades and friends while he holds court at his agrarian utopia, Beauty Ranch, while Charmain, his Mate-Woman, longs to be alone with him. She longs to share the same bed, feel his arms around her, but instead he uses his mate as he sees fit, even if it's fodder for his new book, The Little Lady of the Big House. He seems to be pushing her into the arms of their friend Lawrence all for his narrative needs. But when Charmain finally succumbs their world comes crashing down. Because that's the night that she not only betrayed her husband, but the night Wolf House, Jack's dream home, the monument to his success, what they had scrimped and saved and slaved for for years burned to the ground. Did Jack set the fire himself realizing what he drove his wife to? Or did Lawrence set the fire because he knew Charmain would never be his for more than a few moments? All this and more hangs over the couple when someone new enters their life. One night they go to see Houdini perform in San Francisco and Charmain is brought on stage to assist Houdini and his with Bess with their "Metamorphosis" act. Afterwards the two couples go out for dinner and Charmain and Bessie form a friendship over the struggles of loving men who are larger than life. Their friendship just begun must soon be tried as Jack's ill health returns and Charmain decides to take him to Hawaii, where they were happiest. Hopefully the magic will return to their marriage. Only she can't help thinking of another magic man... Houdini has worked his way into her heart and he will be there for her when she needs him most. But is it right to fall for her friend's husband? And who is she without Jack?

There are certain shared experiences that everyone connects to. A historical event you remember, a book you read, a movie you saw. These events make up our collective unconscious. Let's take The Call of the Wild. Every schoolkid growing up in America has in all likelihood read Jack London's The Call of the Wild or White Fang. In fact they're probably the only books your teachers made you read that you rather enjoyed. For me it was The Call of the Wild in seventh grade and I can still remember Buck's journey as being an escape from the drudgery and crippling amount of schoolwork. We all have Jack London's second wife and subject of this book, Charmain London, to thank for championing him after his death and making sure he became a part of our collective unconscious. Though for most of us it's been years, perhaps decades since we read these books and therefore the power of Jack London's writing is forgotten amongst his narrative. Recently I was rewatching Northern Exposure and I was reliving my main obsession with the show, which was my love of the ex-con DJ Chris Stevens, when I had the delightful surprise of Chris reading from The Call of the Wild. During the season three episode, "The Three Amigos," the words of Jack London served as a counterpoint to Maurice and Holling journeying out into the wilderness to bury their friend. But what struck me was the lyricism and power of London's writing. Sometimes just reading a book doesn't give you the full experience, you have to hear it aloud to fully appreciate it.

This new appreciation of London's writing was one of the reasons I was drawn to The Secret Life of Mrs. London and signed up for this blog tour. Rebecca Rosenberg's book deepened my admiration of London as she has begun each chapter in the first two parts with a quote from London's writing, whether novel or letter. It's a bold choice for a first time author. Because no matter what, the reader is going to compare her writing to London's, whether that was the intent or not. Whether her writing holds up... that's another question. Rosenberg tells her story plainly and interestingly, but she never reaches the lyricism of London. Yet this works in her favor. London's writing, while beautiful, can be a bit inaccessible. Sometimes it's so dense that it takes several readings to understand what he's getting at. Whereas Rosenberg's writing is accessible. She never hides her story behind verbose verbiage. This helps to mirror and bring home to the reader the loving yet somewhat antagonistic relationship between Charmain and Jack. Charmain is so relatable and Jack is a bit enigmatic, his motives even questioned by his wife, so that as a reader you can't help but root for Charmain. She is our heroine. Whatever happens, wherever she goes, whatever decisions she makes, both sound and slightly insane, by using London's own words against him we modern readers will always side with Charmain. She is our avatar to this world of literary wonders and she's able to make it real in a way London's writing doesn't for today's audience. No matter how much he was trying to capture the real on the page.

While reading The Secret Life of Mrs. London one can't help but think of 2016's much talked about and lauded book about Beryl Markham by Paula McLain, Circling the Sun. These are both women who were true originals, they were free spirits that didn't quite feel of their time. Adventurers that broke with conventions. What I find interesting is that many great writers live within these bubbles that are out of sync with their times and embrace free love. While Kenya was the haven for this kind of bed-hopping behavior, any community of artists would come under this kind of scrutiny and notoriety. They were known for standing out from the crowd and throwing convention to the wind. Rosenberg does a good job though in grounding Charmain within this lifestyle. This solid footing makes Charmain far more sympathetic and her actions understandable, not a betrayal to her husband. Being raised by her Aunt Netta she was exposed to a lifestyle that was fluid when it came to love, as Netta had two men in her life. Therefore when Charmain became London's lover and subsequently his second wife she understood that he was liable to wander. Being a very sexual being herself she understood this, but her dalliance that commences the book almost seems indulged in because it's what Jack wanted. He was playing a game with his wife for his own literary means. Yet she heavily feels her betrayal and when he betrays her in return it's just pain heaped on pain. They are by no means a functional couple, but they have a symbiotic relationship. They need each other, but at the same time they need more.

What Charmain ends up needing is Houdini, her Magic Man. What is so interesting about The Secret Life of Mrs. London is that it shows how truly messy love is. Jack is everything to Charmain, her home was where he was, and yet, despite him saying that she was his everything in return, it was clear through his infidelities that she wasn't. You can spout free love, but the truth of it was, Charmain wanted to remain loyal to her husband but her heart and her needs took her elsewhere. I don't know if the same could be said of her husband. Because she was willing to give him all the he got elsewhere, yet he never compromised and gave her what she needed. I couldn't help thinking about Hamilton while reading this book. Their wives, despite not having perfect husbands, are the ones who carried on their legacies, told their stories. Would London and Hamilton be this well remembered to this day if not for their beleaguered spouses? To an extent even Bessie Houdini carried on her husband's torch, holding a seance for him yearly after his death, just as he requested. All this is so interesting to me in that it's all about these women whose lives were in the shadows, yet were remarkable in their own right. History is putting them rightly back in their places and examining what their impact was. Charmain was Jack's editor and typist for years, her thoughts, her ideas, spun into his stories, and yet she is only remembered as Mrs. London. Living her life through these great men while never really living a life of her own. The end of the book gives you hope, but at the same time, she still, to this day, is only known as Mrs. London. Hopefully this book will help redress this wrong.

But now I must nitpick... Writing historical fiction that actually includes real historical figures as your leads is tricky. You are fictionalizing their life, to an extent. You have to get in their head and tell the story you want to tell but within the framework of their life, and I'm not convinced that Rebecca Rosenberg fully succeeds. The biggest problem I have is moving the burning down of Wolf House, Jack London's dream domicile, two years into the future so that it happens at the same time as the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. You can not do that! These are very specific set events! It's like saying, hey can we just move the start of World War I so that it fits my narrative better? Your narrative has to fit events not the other way around. Rosenberg admits that she condensed the timeline to be two instead of five years, but from my point of view she really didn't need to do this. The narrative could have easily spanned more time. The only reason I can see that this was done was in order for Charmain to think she was pregnant, father unknown, when she met the Houdinis. Which was, in my mind, unnecessary. But I'm sure Rosenberg would justify this with comparing the once fertile Charmain with the childlike Bessie... But back to my main point, Rosenberg has lots of weird time anomalies, some of which, such as the burning down of Wolf House I previously mentioned, I'm pretty sure she's aware of, as well as certain Houdini stunts that were shifted, while others are "words from the future." Yes, she uses words that are anachronistic to the time. Guess what? Pheromones didn't exist as a word until 1959, four years after Charmain died. A good editor should have flagged this... but editors, and good ones, are a dying breed. So authors, if you don't want your audience being temporarily taken out of the narrative, double and triple check everything.

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