Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Season 9 - The Duchess of Duke Street Series 2 (1979-1980)

When the first proposed spin-off from Upstairs, Downstairs set in a boarding house run by Hudson and Mrs. Bridges, now Mrs. Hudson, had to be scrapped due to Angela Baddeley's death, John Hawksworth was apparently so stuck on the idea of doing a period show set in a residential hotel that we got The Duchess of Duke Street. Considered by most to be the natural successor to Upstairs, Downstairs, and I will fight anyone who tries to say, "what about Thomas and Sarah?" Because that show was a piece of shit and you know it! Based on the life of the Duchess of Jermyn Street, Rosa Lewis, who rose from humble cook to hotel owner, The Duchess of Duke Street, while having a certain Upstairs, Downstairs vibe with the patrons and servants of the Bentinck Hotel has in my mind more humble heart than it's predecessor. Here everyone is a little mad, a little off kilter, a little rough around the edges, and that endeared me to each and every character. The elderly Merriman, who came with the property and is a house-elf in human form, the doorman Starr and his faithful pooch Fred, Mary, The Major, who while technically a guest is also technically staff, and Charlie, the young buck who was turned down only to become the money man and love interest of our erstwhile owner, Louisa Trotter! Louisa is rough and gruff and she knows what she wants and doesn't let anyone stand in her way, let alone an annoying husband. But while every episode is a wonderful little vignette of Louisa fighting against convention and making a place in the world for herself and her family series two has one of my favorite episodes of any show ever, "Winter Lament." By this point Charlie is married to the rather sweet but weak Margaret and is no longer living at the Bentinck. Instead he's taken up residence at the ancestral pile with his wife who is not well. He begs Louisa to come and help, but it's too late, Margaret is too far gone and this episode feels as if the Brontes came back to life to write a television show. It's just such a weird little bottle episode but it's perfect. In fact it's because of this that I ended up watching all of Dynasty because Christopher Cazenove who plays Charlie plays Ben on that eighties soap staple.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Tuesday Tomorrow

Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana's in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat and mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there's nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing - survive the night."

Riley Sager, to me, writes THE BOOK of the summer, so here it is, THE BOOK of this summer! I can't wait!

Black Ice by Carin Gerhardsen
Published by: Scarlet
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the snow-covered silence of Swedish midwinter, a terrible accident and a deadly secret draws several strangers together...

January in Gotland. The days are short, the air is cold, and all the roads are covered in snow. On a deserted, icy backroad, these wintery conditions will soon bring together a group of strangers with a force devastating enough to change their lives forever when, in the midst of a brief period, a deadly accident and two separate crimes leave victims in their wake.

Four years later a single phone call is all it takes to bring back the terror of that day and to set in motion a plot for revenge. For Sandra it started as an unremarkable wintery day of shopping followed by a kind gesture from a stranger. For Jeanette it began with the thrill of an illicit rendezvous with her lover. Both women had driven past the same icy ravine, but only one was in the car that caused a deadly crash, and only one left a man to die alone in the snow.

Each carried a secret from that day, a secret that, if revealed, could connect them to a larger, more terrible transgression...And there is someone out there who knows the whole picture, and who would rather kill than allow it all to come to light.

Chilling and atmospheric, Black Ice is a gripping standalone novel of suspense from the author of the internationally-bestselling Hammarby series."

Shivers! From the suspense, not the cold!

Little Black Book by Kate Carlisle
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright is on the case when a rare edition of Rebecca leads to murder in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling Bibliophile Mystery series.

Brooklyn and her hunky husband, security expert Derek Stone, have just returned from a delightful trip to Dharma, where the construction of their new home away from home is well underway, when a little black book arrives in the mail from Scotland. The book is a rare British first edition of Rebecca, and there’s no return address on the package. The day after the book arrives, Claire Quinn shows up at Brooklyn and Derek’s home. Brooklyn met Claire when the two women worked as expert appraisers on the television show This Old Attic. Brooklyn appraised books on the show and Claire’s expertise was in antique British weaponry, but they bonded over their shared love of gothic novels.

Claire reveals that during a recent trip to Scotland she discovered her beloved aunt was missing and her home had been ransacked. Among her aunt’s belongings, Claire found the receipt for the package that wound up with Brooklyn and Derek. Claire believes both her own life and her aunt’s are in danger and worries that her past may be coming back to haunt her.

But just as Brooklyn and Derek begin to investigate, a man who Claire thinks was following her is found murdered, stabbed with a priceless jeweled dagger. With a death on their doorstep, Brooklyn and Derek page through the little black book, where they discover clues that will take them to the shadows of a medieval Scottish castle on the shores of Loch Ness. Under the watchful gaze of a mysterious laird and the irascible villagers who are suspicious of the strangers in their midst, Brooklyn and Derek must decode the secrets in Rebecca to keep their friend’s past from destroying their future...."

I don't care if I have to deal with murder if I get my hands on a rare edition of Rebecca! 

Murder at Keyhaven Castle by Clara McKenna
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"With her wedding to Viscount "Lyndy" Lyndhurst just days away, strong-willed American ex-pat Stella Kendrick is the talk of Edwardian society - and the focus of a deadly mystery - in Clara McKenna's third historical mystery set in England's New Forest region at the turn of the 20th century.

Between ornate bridal gown fittings and meetings with Lyndy's distant relatives, Stella finally feels less like an out-of-place American and more like a respected aristocrat. Everything changes as the arrival of an anonymous gift and return of her overbearing father cast a dark shadow over the festivities, conjuring difficult memories and new fears...

Tensions intensify when a daytrip to Southampton ends with a suspicious stranger getting trampled by a horse-drawn cab. Before anyone can explain why the victim possessed a newspaper clipping about the upcoming ceremony at Morrington Hall, tragedy strikes again, this time resulting in a murder that turns Stella's world completely upside down while implicating one of Lyndy's well-regarded family members...

Facing loss, postponed nuptials, and uncertain threats, Stella and Lyndy rush to connect two very different crimes and identify the guilty culprit hiding among elite wedding guests. But as the couple blows the lid off of scandalous secrets, they realize that catching this killer - and living to tell the tale - may prove as impossible as closing the class divide."

Oh, I NEED to know how the deaths are connected, don't you?

The Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Published by: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Darkness blooms in bestselling author Kalynn Bayron's new contemporary fantasy about a girl with a unique and deadly power.

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis's aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined - it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri's unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri's sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it...until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her."

Grade school me would have reveled in this as my summer reader. Adult me feels the same. 

The Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published by: Subterranean Press
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 96 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Yalxi, the deposed Supreme Mistress of the Guild of Sorcerers, is on a desperate mission. Her lover and confidant seized her throne and stole the precious diamond heart, the jewel that is the engine of her power. Yalxi sets out to regain her magic and find a weapon capable of destroying the usurper. But this will mean turning to unlikely allies and opening herself up to unpleasant memories that have been suppressed for many years. For Yalxi is no great hero, but a cunning sorceress who once forged her path in blood - and must reckon with the consequences. Set in a fantastical land where jewels and blood provide symbiotic magical powers to their wearers, The Return of the Sorceress evokes the energy of classic sword and sorcery, while building a thoroughly fresh and exciting adventure ripe for our era."

Everyone is getting in on the success of Silvia Moreno-Garcia but I can guarantee you that Subterranean Press will have the best editions. Hands down. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Season 10 - Thérèse Raquin (1980-1981)

Thérèse grew up beside her cousin Camille in his sickbed. When they were older it just made sense for her to stay in the bed and be his wife. She walks through her life in a daze. Nothing ever breaking through the monotony of her day to day existence with Camille and Madame Raquin. The shop bell below their home rings and customers must be served. Every Thursday their friends come over for tea and dominoes. Life plods on. Then one day Camille runs into his old childhood friend Laurent. Laurent's passion is painting, but sadly it can not support him so he's taken a mundane office job. But soon his passion is Thérèse. They begin a torrid affair resulting in the murder of Camille. This three part miniseries starts out rather sedately. The first episode is interesting but it isn't until the second episode, after the murderous denouement of the first, that it becomes something more, something memorable. Kate Nelligan as Thérèse and Brian Cox as Laurent fully embrace the over the top Gothic nature of the tale in such a way that they are mesmerizing. There's a feeling of the darker tales of Edgar Allan Poe when Laurent starts taking to visiting the morgue daily and having his dreams haunted by the dead. Also there's a wonderful unsettled feeling as to what Thérèse's motives were. Did she ever care for Laurent or was he just a means to get ride of her husband? Or did she really not know how her mind would unravel following Camille's death? The height of this is their frantic wedding night. They knew they could never just marry because then perhaps people would wonder what really happened to Camille. So instead, a year after their crime, they have finagled their Thursday night domino friends to insist that the two of them wed, and wed they are. But the haunted honeymoon to come is so deliciously Gothic it almost felt like the Brontes wrote it while taking acid. Laurent is haunted by the painting of Camille he executed that is hanging in the bedroom. He also keeps thinking he sees his dead friend's bloated corpse in their wedding bed. Thérèse is equally frantic. Soon they are beyond miserable, the three of them in the marriage, Thérèse, Laurent, and Camille. All this is happening behind their closed bedroom door while trying to maintain a happy facade for Madame Raquin. But soon that even cracks and tragedy besets tragedy until the scales are balanced.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Season 11 - Love in a Cold Climate (1981-1982)

I fully admit that the one and only reason I watched this miniseries was to see a young Giles. I might have a thing for Anthony Stewart Head, especially as Watcher and librarian on Buffy the Vampire Slayer... Therefore, over the years, I've tried to make sure I watch everything he's currently in and in my spare time watch his back catalog. Back in that catalog was this wonderful adaptation of Love in a Cold Climate, where just two years after appearing on Lillie he's back on the small screen as Tony Kroesig, the very minimally fictionalized Bryan Guinness. He's just simply adorable with his blonde hair rescuing a rabbit for his future wife who will bolt on him. He's just so perfectly cast and that's what makes this adaptation stand out for me. The cast was so fully rounded and actually felt like a family. Well, when Judi Dench signs on, even in the eighties she had pull, and well, everyone else just fell into place, even her real life husband Michael Williams joined as Davey Warbeck! See, a family! And as Tony's wife Linda is the wonderful Lucy Gutteridge, whom I adore as the love interest opposite Val Kilmer in Top Secret! and in Till We Meet Again, the miniseries I always call "the one where Hugh Grant's a Nazis!" And in an entirely random roll we have Anthony Higgins, Rathe from Young Sherlock Holmes, playing an over-the-top chef who doesn't speak English! I could go on and on, but just take my word for it, perfect casting. Also, seeing as until now, all adaptations named Love in a Cold Climate are actually adaptations of two of Nancy Mitford's books, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, crammed under the more memorably named book, we have a lot of ground to cover in one series. Unlike the one at the turn of the century which was only two episodes jammed together as one movie stateside, here we have eight episodes to luxuriate in the story. To get all the details right. And why is that important now? Because we have another adaptation on the way! So it's time to bring out the books, sit down and watch these two adaptations, and then see if this new version with Lily James is up to snuff or if she should have stayed away, like with Rebecca.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison
Published by: Tor Books
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Katherine Addison returns to the glittering world she created for her beloved novel, The Goblin Emperor, in this stand-alone sequel.

When the young half-goblin emperor Maia sought to learn who had set the bombs that killed his father and half-brothers, he turned to an obscure resident of his father’s Court, a Prelate of Ulis and a Witness for the Dead. Thara Celehar found the truth, though it did him no good to discover it. He lost his place as a retainer of his cousin the former Empress, and made far too many enemies among the many factions vying for power in the new Court. The favor of the Emperor is a dangerous coin.

Now Celehar lives in the city of Amalo, far from the Court though not exactly in exile. He has not escaped from politics, but his position gives him the ability to serve the common people of the city, which is his preference. He lives modestly, but his decency and fundamental honesty will not permit him to live quietly. As a Witness for the Dead, he can, sometimes, speak to the recently dead: see the last thing they saw, know the last thought they had, experience the last thing they felt. It is his duty use that ability to resolve disputes, to ascertain the intent of the dead, to find the killers of the murdered.

Celehar’s skills now lead him out of the quiet and into a morass of treachery, murder, and injustice. No matter his own background with the imperial house, Celehar will stand with the commoners, and possibly find a light in the darkness.

Katherine Addison has created a fantastic world for these books - wide and deep and true."

I don't know how I feel about picking up this book as The Goblin Emperor was so...impenetrable. 

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 512 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Long live the queen: The authors who brought you the New York Times bestselling My Lady Jane kick off an all-new historical trilogy with the classy, courtly tale of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and...queens?

Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head - or a tail.

Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn after the king meets a suspicious end. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis face a viper’s nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary’s secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll.

With a royally clever sense of humor, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows continue their campaign to turn history on its head in this YA fantasy that’s perfect for fans of A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue."

If you're a Reign addict, like I am, but also loved the more supernatural side of it, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!

The Ankh-Morpork Archives by Terry Pratchett 
Published by: Gollancz
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Think you know Ankh-Morpork? Think again.

In this top-secret guide, intrepid explorers will receive a first-hand experience of the real city.

If you've ever wondered where Unseen University students wet their whistles (while avoiding their teachers as they do the same), or pondered just what the Assassins' Guild constitutes a proper means of inhumation - there are standards to be upheld - then this is the book for you.

That's right, have yourself a glimpse of what actually goes on in the city's societies. Cut the chaff, peek behind the curtain, see how the sausage gets made...err, you get the idea.

Just don't let the Thieves' Guild catch you with this. They won't appreciate their methods being flogged behind their back. Flogging's their job.

Completely revamped and redesigned, this full-colour book contains material from Discworld Diaries across the decades."

Because I can never have enough Discworld ephemera! 

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An over-sized, lavishly illustrated, full-color edition of Philip Pullman's beloved classic.

Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass has been changing the world for twenty-five years.

We are delighted to offer this new edition of the classic, with more than 100 full-color illustrations from acclaimed illustrator Chris Wormell.

A masterwork of storytelling and suspense, The Golden Compass is the story of Lyra and her dæmon familiar and their dangerous journey to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule, and where her fearsome uncle is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world...

Fans and newcomers alike will be drawn into the story as never before by Wormell's thrilling illustrations."

As my own bookshelves will attest, one can never have too many copies of The Golden Compass. But a have a fully illustrated one by the talented Chris Wormell? That is special indeed!

Finding My Voice by Nadiya Hussain
Published by: Headline
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"'I am writing this for everyone who was told no. 'No, you are not rich enough. No, that is not credible. No, you can't. No, you won't. No, you are not allowed. No, that is not appropriate.

I was told, "No, you do not belong."

Finally, I am saying, "Yes, I do."'

From the moment Nadiya Hussain was born, she has been questioning her role in life. But the irony is, she never wanted to be a trailblazer. She just wanted to follow a 'normal' path. But life kept telling her 'you can't'.

And so she found her own way, beyond anything she dared to dream...

In this wise, witty, open-hearted book, Nadiya lets us into her life and, for the first time, shares the memories and experiences that have shaped her into the woman and role-model that she is today, alongside her personal recipes and the stories they tell.

'We all have a voice. Yours might be loud and strong, or quiet yet insistent. I have always tried to use mine for the right reasons.'"

Could I love Nadia even more!?! She's amazing on so many levels, not the least of which is baker. 

Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie
Published by: Knopf
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The year is 1969, and the Bayleen Island Folk Fest is abuzz with one name: Jesse Reid. Tall and soft-spoken, with eyes blue as stone-washed denim, Jesse Reid’s intricate guitar riffs and supple baritone are poised to tip from fame to legend with this one headlining performance. That is, until his motorcycle crashes on the way to the show.

Jane Quinn is a Bayleen Island local whose music flows as naturally as her long blond hair. When she and her bandmates are asked to play in Jesse Reid’s place at the festival, it almost doesn’t seem real. But Jane plants her bare feet on the Main Stage and delivers the performance of a lifetime, stopping Jesse’s disappointed fans in their tracks: A star is born.

Jesse stays on the island to recover from his near-fatal accident and he strikes up a friendship with Jane, coaching her through the production of her first record. As Jane contends with the music industry’s sexism, Jesse becomes her advocate, and what starts as a shared calling soon becomes a passionate love affair. On tour with Jesse, Jane is so captivated by the giant stadiums, the late nights, the wild parties, and the media attention, that she is blind-sided when she stumbles on the dark secret beneath Jesse’s music. With nowhere to turn, Jane must reckon with the shadows of her own past; what follows is the birth of one of most iconic albums of all time.

Shot through with the lyrics, the icons, the lore, the adrenaline of the early 70s music scene, Songs in Ursa Major pulses with romantic longing and asks the question so many female artists must face: What are we willing to sacrifice for our dreams?"

This summer's Daisy Jones and the Six? 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Season 12 - The Good Soldier (1982-1983)

If you are watching this for Jeremy Brett, be forewarned that there is a lot less Jeremy Brett than the DVD cover would have you believe. This is a starring vehicle for Susan Fleetwood and Robin "OG Poldark" Ellis doing his best Morgan Freeman narration in the era before Morgan Freeman started being known as the go-to narrator and was known as that guy from The Electric Company and various soap operas. The Good Soldier is a tale of infidelity set against the backdrop of a German spa town revolving around two couples, the Dowells and the Ashburnhams. This adaptation leans heavily on the 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby with a dash of Brideshead Revisited, ironic because The Good Soldier predates both and more than likely influenced both. It's slowly paced, but a wonderful study of lives falling apart and what we are willing to endure for those we love. Told non-linearly we get glimpses of happy days and the disaster that is to come. Hint, it's a lot of suicide. What I particularly liked is that this felt a bit like it was cracking open the facade of the stiff upper lips of the Brits. Underneath it all they are just a complete mess of repressed and pent-up emotions that will eventually explode, usually in a darkly comic manner. That's the key here, you have to be willing to embrace Ford Madox Ford's dark humor. The Good Soldier began life as The Saddest Story but the publishers wanted a new title because of World War I and Ford Madox Ford sarcastically suggested The Good Soldier, because Brett's character is anything but a good little soldier, and the publishers jumped at the new title. Now you might be wondering, how can infidelity and suicide be darkly humorous? Well, it's all in the execution. The pauses, the timing, and the reasoning. Oh, and the dramatic wailing and gnashing of handkerchief's in hands. In fact the only memorable part of the 2012 Benedict Cumberbatch adaptation of Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End was Reverend Duchemin's suicide, brilliantly brought to the small screen by Rufus Sewell. So if dark humor and distinctly British entropy is your cup of tea then be sure to check out this production from the early eighties.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Season 13 - The Irish R.M. Series 1 (1983-1984)

My parents made it a habit that for the holidays they'd give me box sets of their favorite Masterpiece Theatre shows so that when I wanted to watch something they'd get to watch something they wanted to as well. One Christmas I got a gift "From Your Irish Friends." After me trying to guess what the present was and failing, it turned out to be season one of The Irish R.M. staring Peter Bowles. I feel bad that it's taken me about twenty years to finally get to this show, but it really needs to be taken into account how many shows are out there and how many shows Masterpiece Theatre did that I'm trying to catch up on. That is a hella big backlog people! On the scene we have a lot of my favorite actors, or I should say, Peter Bowles, but behind the scenes we have the whole crew from Upstairs, Downstairs, a classic if there ever was one! So I knew the show had rightly gained it's status as a classic in it's own right. Yet it did take me awhile to get into. The show deals with the clash of the very British Resident Magistrate with his very Irish neighbors who come before him in court and seek to manipulate him outside of it. My problem was that I felt the show's humor was at the expense of the Irish, and that made me feel a bit dirty. The Irish have always been the oppressed in any relationship with the British and the way jokes were set up to have the Irish use their humor and wiles to try to outwit their enemy felt too much like it was written by British writers to make fun of and further demean the Irish. Eventually they found the right balance where everyone was the butt of the joke, British and Irish alike, and with this the show found it's footing. It could also be that as time went on I started to love the characters and saw them less as the initial stereotypes they were set out to be and more as the individuals they were. But this has to do with the actors more than the writing in my opinion. In the end the show is a marvelous amalgam of All Creatures Great and Small and Father Ted. I defy anyone to argue that the R.M.'s housekeeper Mrs. Cadogan (which she insists is pronounced Mrs. Cadergorn) isn't the inspiration for Mrs. Doyle on Father Ted. They both so enjoy their misery.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Tuesday Tomorrow

Million Dollar Demon by Kim Harrison
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"To save the city, Rachel Morgan will need to show some teeth in the next Hollows novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison.

The new master vampire of Cincinnati has arrived...and she wants Rachel Morgan out. No matter where Rachel goes, Constance is there - threatening Rachel's allies, causing city-wide chaos, and, to add insult to injury, even forcing Rachel out of her current quarters. Ever since Rachel found a way to save the souls of vampires, the old undead's longtime ascendancy has been broken. Now Constance sees eliminating Rachel as the key to consolidating her own power.

Rachel has no desire to be enthralled or killed - and she's terrified of what may become of the city if Constance forces a return to the ancient ways. But even a witch-born demon can't stand against the old undead - at least, not alone. And if Rachel refuses to claim the role of Cincinnati's master demon, the city will tear itself apart, taking her and all those who stand beside her with it."

Urban fantasy at it's finest!

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love - she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

After years of waiting for her Calling - a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers - the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees - and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy - and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc - how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything."

This feels like it was written for younger me, it's like a dark Charmed with a dark Sabrina the Teenage Witch (the OG!)

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.

But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls - the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.

Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.

But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive."

OK, calling the camp Camp Wonder Falls made this a must read for me.

The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu
Published by: Tachyon Publications,
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"New York Times bestseller and Hugo, British Fantasy, Romantic Times, and Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel Monstress, Marjorie Liu leads you deep into the heart of the tangled woods. In her long-awaited debut collection of dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction, you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women.

Briar, bodyguard for a body-stealing sorceress, discovers her love for Rose, whose true soul emerges only once a week. An apprentice witch seeks her freedom through betrayal, the bones of the innocent, and a meticulously plotted spell. In a world powered by crystal skulls, a warrior returns to save China from invasion by her jealous ex. A princess runs away from an arranged marriage, finding family in a strange troupe of traveling actors at the border of the kingdom's deep, dark woods. Concluding with a gorgeous full-length novella, Marjorie Liu's first short fiction collection is an unflinching sojourn into her thorny tales of love, revenge, and new beginnings."

If you have no idea who Marjorie Liu is I'm no longer talking to you until you've read this book and ALL of Monstress to date.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
Published by: Celadon Books
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession, that further cements "Michaelides as a major player in the field" (Publishers Weekly).

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike - particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything - including her own life."

Because I'm ALL about Greek Myths right now!

Unravelled Knots by Baroness Orczy
Published by: Pushkin Vertigo
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 284 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Another classic collection of mysteries from the Golden Age of British crime writing, by the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

It has been twenty years since Polly Burton last saw the Teahouse Detective, but one foggy afternoon she stumbles into a Fleet Street café and chances upon the cantankerous sleuth again. The years have not softened his manner, nor dulled his appetite for unravelling the most tortuous of conspiracies, shedding light on mysteries that have confounded the finest minds of the police.

How did Prince Orsoff disappear from his railway carriage in-between stations? How could the Ingres masterpiece be seen in two places at once? And what is the truth behind the story of the blood-stained tunic that exonerated its owner?

From the comfort of his seat by the fire, the Teahouse Detective sets his brilliant mind to work once more."

Because Baroness Orczy was about way more than The Scarlet Pimpernel!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Season 14 - The Barchester Chronicles (1984-1985)

What I am about to say is going to sound like blasphemy to a lot of people, but when Alan Rickman was first cast as Severus Snape I wasn't that enthused. And while I admit he had that lovely menacing and melodious voice he never really became Snape for me until later. Don't get me wrong, I love Alan Rickman, just not in Harry Potter. I have a few friends who are probably disowning me at this moment for saying this, especially one specific friend who shall remain nameless who asked me to distract the security guard while she dove for Alan Rickman's Snape costume when we went to Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I opted to restrain her versus acting as a distraction. Seemed far more prudent. And I know the reason I disapproved is going to sound ageist... but there is no getting around the fact that he was too old to play Snape! Because of casting Alan every one of the adults was aged up, which annoyed me so much. In the first movie Snape should have been 31, not 55! That's a 24 year age gap and James and Lily Potter didn't even live to see 24! When I read the books I pictured a different Alan, Alan Cumming, as Snape because, when I first read the books Alan was 34, so about the right age. Then one day I watched The Barchester Chronicles and everything I thought I held dear changed. Because he was a 36 year old Alan Rickman and he WAS Severus Snape. There's a scene with Rickman as Obadiah Slope where he and Mrs. Proudie are trying to change the opinion of Obadiah's boss and Mrs. Proudie's husband, the Bishop Proudie, that isn't just sheer perfection showcasing a level of humor rarely achieved, but in that moment I realized I didn't hate Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, I hated the fact that he played the role too late. Yes, it's impossible for him to have starred in a movie of a book that wouldn't come out for over a decade, but now I can forgive the films. A bit. I can at least see a young Alan Rickman as Snape when reading the books. I also am starting to wonder if Rowling didn't see Rickman all those years ago and see him as the character herself... Slope/Snape... not too different. And don't get me started on how I am totally convinced she wrote Hagrid for Robbie Coltrane because of an episode of Blackadder.      

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Season 15 - Bleak House (1985-1986)

If you've only seen the Gillian Anderson adaptation of Bleak House you might think with the star power of the late Dame Diana Rigg playing the role of Lady Honoria Dedlock in this older adaptation she would be equally the star that Gillian Anderson was. You'd be wrong. This version showcases all the characters more evenly than the Andrew Davies adaptation. Yes, there are omissions here and there, there's nary a Turveydrop in sight, but it makes the interpretation different enough that you can enjoy both equally. The highlight of this version being that Bleak House has become the William Guppy show. Jonathan Moore as William Guppy is the Steve 'The Hair' Harrington of Dickensian London! I always thought Burn Gorman was a good casting choice in the Andrew Davies adaptation because he kind of looks like a fish, a true guppy if you will... But now I know who the real Guppy is, Jonathan Moore. There was such joy in watching his smarm. He took each and every scene he was in to the next level, which is impressive in that he witnesses the spontaneous human combustion of Krook in the most magnificent eighties horror film way that literally anyone could have made the scene work. If there was music it could have been an eighties music video it was that epic. Yet he made it even better. But one of the best scenes is Esther's rejection of his proposal of marriage. AKA the proposal of epic failure. It was staged in such a way that it stretched out the awkwardness. Esther sits down in front of the hearth. This hearth has a bench-like seat that extends the entire length of the room. So every time Guppy moves in for the romantic gesture, Esther slides further away from him. Perfect. Comic. Timing. Of course, this being Bleak House, it's not all laughs, this adaptation wanted to make sure you knew that Dickensian London was all about mud, mud, mud, and then some more mud. Then factor in the rain and the fog and I'm actually surprised that the street sets didn't claim any victims from the cast and crew. And oh, this cast! Denholm Elliott, Peter Vaughn, and the aforementioned Dame Diana Rigg! And Esther as she should have been, not Anna Maxwell Martin but Suzanne Burden! As my Dad pointed out when Diana Rigg as Lady Dedlock and Peter Vaughn as Tulkinghorn spare, sometimes it's just an honor to get to watch two magnificent actors at the top of their game go at it. I couldn't agree more.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker
Published by: Harper
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this enthralling historical epic, set in New York City and the Middle East in the years leading to World War I -  the long-awaited follow-up to the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker revisits her beloved characters Chava and Ahmad as they confront unexpected new challenges in a rapidly changing human world.

Chava is a golem, a woman made of clay, who can hear the thoughts and longings of those around her and feels compelled by her nature to help them. Ahmad is a jinni, a restless creature of fire, once free to roam the desert but now imprisoned in the shape of a man. Fearing they’ll be exposed as monsters, these magical beings hide their true selves and try to pass as human - just two more immigrants in the bustling world of 1900s Manhattan. Brought together under calamitous circumstances, their lives are now entwined - but they’re not yet certain of what they mean to each other.

Both Chava and Ahmad have changed the lives of the people around them. Park Avenue heiress Sophia Winston, whose brief encounter with Ahmad left her with a strange illness that makes her shiver with cold, travels to the Middle East to seek a cure. There she meets Dima, a tempestuous female jinni who’s been banished from her tribe. Back in New York, in a tenement on the Lower East Side, a little girl named Kreindel helps her rabbi father build a golem they name Yossele - not knowing that she’s about to be sent to an orphanage uptown, where the hulking Yossele will become her only friend and protector.

Spanning the tumultuous years from the turn of the twentieth century to the beginning of World War I, The Hidden Palace follows these lives and others as they collide and interleave. Can Chava and Ahmad find their places in the human world while remaining true to each other? Or will their opposing natures and desires eventually tear them apart - especially once they encounter, thrillingly, other beings like themselves?"

I've been wanting desperately to read The Golem and the Jinni for years... well, guess what just got itself moved to the top of my to be read pile?

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O'Donoghue
Published by: Walker Books US
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Maeve’s strangely astute tarot readings make her the talk of the school, until a classmate draws a chilling and unfamiliar card - and then disappears.

After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school. But when Maeve’s ex–best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn’t at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace.

Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily's gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find - even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself. Set in an Irish town where the church’s tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root, this sharply contemporary story is witty, gripping, and tinged with mysticism."

I might be a tad tarot obsessed and this book ticks all the boxes in the most unexpected ways.

Rabbits by Terry Miles
Published by: Del Rey
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A deadly underground game might just be altering reality itself in this all-new adventure set in the world of the hit Rabbits podcast.

It’s an average work day. You’ve been wrapped up in a task, and you check the clock when you come up for air - 4:44 p.m. You check your email, and 44 unread messages have built up. With a shock, you realize the date is April 4 - 4/4. And when you get in your car to drive home, your odometer reads 44,444.

Coincidence? Or have you just seen the edge of a rabbit hole?

Rabbits is a mysterious alternate reality game so vast it uses the entire world as its canvas.

Since the game started in 1959, ten iterations have appeared and nine winners have been declared. The identities of these winners are unknown.

So is their reward, which is whispered to be NSA or CIA recruitment, vast wealth, immortality, or perhaps even the key to the secrets of the universe itself.

But the deeper you get, the more dangerous the game becomes. Players have died in the past - and the body count is rising.

And now the eleventh round is about to begin.

Enter K - a Rabbits obsessive who has been trying to find a way into the game for years. That path opens when K is approached by billionaire Alan Scarpio, rumored to be the winner of the sixth iteration. Scarpio says that something has gone wrong with the game and that K needs to fix it before Eleven starts, or the whole world will pay the price.

Five days later, Scarpio is declared missing.

Two weeks after that, K blows the deadline: Eleven begins.

And suddenly, the fate of the entire universe is at stake."

I freely admit I've never heard of the podcast where this book is set, but now I HAVE to learn more about all of it because isn't a better Ready Player One

The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton by Eleanor Ray
Published by: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"For fans of The Keeper of Lost Things and Evvie Drake Starts Over comes a funny and tender debut about a reclusive artist whose collection has gotten out of control - but whose unexpected friendship with a pair of new neighbors might be just what she needs to start over.

Amy Ashton once dreamed of becoming an artist - of creating beautiful objects. But now she simply collects them. Aquamarine bottles, bright yellow crockery, deep Tuscan red pots (and the odd slow-cooker) take up every available inch of space in her house. Having suffered a terrible tragedy - one she staunchly refuses to let herself think about, thank you very much - she’s decided that it’s easier to love things than people. Things are safe. Things will never leave you.

But when a new family moves in next door with two young boys, one of whom has a collection of his own, Amy’s carefully managed life starts to unravel, prompting her to question why she began to close herself off in the first place. As Amy embarks on a journey back into her past, she has to contend with nosy neighbors, a meddlesome government worker, the inept police, and a little boy whose love of bulldozers might just let Amy open up her heart - and her home - again.

Quirky and charming, big-hearted and moving, The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton proves that it’s never too late to let go of the things that don’t matter...and welcome the people who do."

Because if this past year has taught me anything it's that we need to let go of the things that don't matter and hold on to those who do.

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman
Published by: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A British actress discovers the dark side of Hollywood when she is the only witness to the sudden disappearance of a woman she meets at an audition, in this electrifying psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Something in the Water and Mr. Nobody.

Once a year, actors from across the globe descend on the smog and sunshine of Los Angeles for pilot season. Every cable network and studio is looking to fill the rosters of their new shows, enticing a fresh batch of young hopefuls - anxious, desperate, and willing to do whatever it takes to make it. Careers will be made, dreams will be realized, stars will be born. And some will be snuffed out.

British star Mia Eliot has landed leading roles in costume dramas in her native country, but now it’s time for Hollywood to take her to the next level. Mia flies across the Atlantic to join the horde of talent scrambling for their big breaks. She’s a fish out of water in the ruthlessly competitive arena of back-to-back auditioning. Then one day she meets Emily, another actress from out of town and a kindred spirit. Emily is friendly and genuine and reassuringly doesn’t seem to be taking any of it too seriously. She stands out in a conveyor-belt world of fellow auditionees. But a simple favor takes a dark twist when Emily disappears and Mia realizes she was the last person to see her. And when a woman knocks on Mia’s door the following day claiming to be Emily and isn’t the woman Mia remembers at all, Mia is deeply troubled.

All Mia has to go on is the memory of a girl she met only once...and the suffocating feeling that something terrible has happened. Worse still, the police don’t believe her when she claims the real Emily has gone missing. So Mia is forced to risk the role of a lifetime to try to uncover the truth about Emily, a gamble that will force her to question her own sanity as the truth goes beyond anything she could ever have imagined.

Actress and author Catherine Steadman has written a gripping thriller set in a world close to home that asks the question: In a city where dreams really do come true, how far would you go to make the unreal real?"

As a fan of Catherine Steadman I had NO IDEA she was a writer until now, and this book is deliciously close to the bone!

The Family Tree by Steph Mullin and Nichole Mabry
Published by: Avon Books
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Format: Paperback, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The DNA results are back. And there's a serial killer in her family tree...

Liz Catalano is shocked when an ancestry kit reveals she's adopted. But she could never have imagined connecting with her unknown family would plunge her into an FBI investigation of a notorious serial killer...

The Tri-State Killer has been abducting pairs of women for forty years, leaving no clues behind - only bodies.

Can Liz figure out who the killer in her new family is? And can she save his newest victims before it's too late?

A gripping, original thriller for fans of My Lovely Wife, Netflix's Making a Murderer, and anyone who's ever wondered what their family tree might be hiding..."

I like that this is like the reverse of how The Golden State Killer was found!

Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe
Published by: Tor Books
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 528 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Gene Wolfe has been called "the finest writer the science fiction world has yet produced" by the Washington Post.

The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Wolfe’s most remarkable work, hailed as "a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis" by Publishers Weekly and “one of the most ambitious works of speculative fiction in the twentieth century” by the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The Shadow of the Torturer is the first volume in this four-volume epic, the tale of young Severian, an apprentice to the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession- showing mercy toward his victim.

The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

This new Tor Essentials edition of Shadow and Claw contains a new introduction by historian and novelist Ada Palmer, author of the award-winning Too Like the Lightning."

I read a one of Wolfe's books for book club and have since been wanting to read more, so this book is perfectly timed.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Season 16 - Lost Empires (1986-1987)

When I first "discovered" Colin Firth, AKA when I watched Pride and Prejudice in the summer of 1996, I embarked on a voyage of discovery among his back catalog of work. I rented EVERYTHING the local video store had. Another County not to be confused with the far superior A Month in the Country! The ill-timed and ill-conceived Valmont. Apartment Zero with it's deliciously devious denouement. I even trolled late night television and stumbled on Camille. But one day I saw a DVD release for a show called Lost Empires. Seven episodes full of Colin Firth! That's one more than Pride and Prejudice! I remember when it arrived I invited my mom to watch it with me. We made it only as far as the first episode. Because as she said; "If I have to watch Laurence Olivier for one more minute doing stupid jokes and dressed up as an Edwardian child with makeup I'll scream." Or something to that effect. I did try to point out that as he died at the end of the episode we wouldn't have to see him anymore. She didn't buy it. And in fairness, I wasn't that interested in completing it. Watching a baby Colin can only carry your interest for so long. But I've been viewing this Masterpiece Theatre retrospective as a chance to get around to the shows, some of them classics, that I hadn't gotten to yet. Therefore seeing as I already had the DVD set, Lost Empires was top billing! Oddly enough my first impressions aren't too far off my final impressions, but over the years I've watched a lot more shows of similar themes so I feel more justified in my opinion. I have watched a lot of miniseries set in music halls, from Tipping the Velvet to that one dreadful episode of Thomas and Sarah, and this has to be the least annoying due to the lack of songs getting stuck in your head combined with not being overly problematic with regards to black face and really horrific racial stereotypes. Yes, there's still an entitled white man playing an Indian mystic and a really weird hatred of midgets, but for what music halls were known for it's pretty tame, especially when you watch other shows. Which means instead of dwelling on how problematic it is in that regard, you can pick apart all the other problems. The bleak, fatalistic attitudes, the creepy sex parties, oh, and the shoehorned in happily ever after that really makes no sense. So if you want to see some really young Colin Firth doing an occasionally passable Yorkshire accent in a miniseries that is trying to state something bigger than they are capable of, IE the end of the music halls and the end of the age of the British Empire, than this downer of a miniseries is for you!

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Season 17 - Fortunes of War (1987-1988)

As a person with an obsessive disorder once I find a film I love I will just watch it over and over again. This was very bad on VHS tapes when I was young. I would literally wear them out. I even once wore out a DVD set... At the beginning of high school the film being obsessed over was Dead Again. Doomed lovers reincarnated to not only get their happily ever after but to get revenge for their deaths? Oh yes please! What I loved most about it was the fact that Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson weren't just lovers in the film but their love was real! I became a little obsessed with their relationship and would watch anything they were in together, with especial love for Peter's Friends and Much Ado About Nothing. In our house we had a book on the history of Masterpiece Theatre and there was a picture in it from Fortunes of War. Seeing as this was the miniseries they met on and where they fell in love, to me, this was the beginning of their love story and therefore it was very important that I watch it. At the time you couldn't rent the miniseries so I had to content myself with drawing the picture in the book. I remember that I was convinced the only way to get Emma's hat right was with watercolor pencils. Let's just say I'm still not the best with this medium and when I was a teenager I was worse. I kind of ruined the picture and moved on to obsessing over the movie The Tall Guy, Emma Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, pure genius. By the time I finally got to watch Fortunes of War Kenneth and Emma's marriage had imploded, and she had thankfully found love again in the arms of Willougby and as I thought at the time, Kenneth could go fuck himself. In fact I kind of still feel that way but begrudgingly admit he occasionally has talent. So it was bittersweet seeing this miniseries that meant so much to me long before I had seen it. In fact, in my mind, they aren't the stars of this miniseries. Yes, I know, I know, it says they are, but Ronald Pickup as Prince Yakimov stole the show. He had a little bit of an Edward Gorey vibe with his long fur coat, and I just adore him. And when he met his tragic end in Greece, not only did I learn about the atrocities the Nazis perpetrated on the Greek, but I also felt like I had lost a friend. RIP Prince Yakimov. But thankfully Ronald Pickup was still making movies and television shows until his death at the age of 80 this year.

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