Monday, February 28, 2022

Tuesday Tomorrow

Gallant by V.E. Schwab
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

#1 New York Times-bestselling author V. E. Schwab weaves a dark and original tale about the place where the world meets its shadow, and the young woman beckoned by both sides. The Secret Garden meets Crimson Peak in this stand-alone novel perfect for readers of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman.

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for Girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal - which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home; it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile, or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant - but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

New York Times–bestselling author V. E. Schwab crafts a vivid and lush novel that grapples with the demons that are often locked behind closed doors. An eerie, stand-alone saga about life, death, and the young woman beckoned by both. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Melissa Albert, and Garth Nix will quickly lose themselves in this novel with crossover appeal for all ages."

THIS might be the book I'm most excited for this month.

Spelunking Through Hell by Seanan McGuire
Published by: DAW
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Now in trade paperback, the eleventh book in the fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.

Love, noun:

1. An intense feeling of deep affection; may be romantic, filial, or platonic.

Passion, noun:

1. A strong or barely controllable emotion.
2. Enthusiasm, interest, desire.
3. See also "obsession."

It’s been fifty years since the crossroads caused the disappearance of Thomas Price, and his wife, Alice, has been trying to find him and bring him home ever since, despite the increasing probability that he’s no longer alive for her to find. Now that the crossroads have been destroyed, she’s redoubling her efforts. It’s time to bring him home, dead or alive.

Preferably alive, of course, but she’s tired, and at this point, she’s not that picky. It’s a pan-dimensional crash course in chaos, as Alice tries to find the rabbit hole she’s been missing for all these decades - the one that will take her to the man she loves.

Who are her allies? Who are her enemies? And if she manages to find him, will he even remember her at this point?

It’s a lot for one cryptozoologist to handle."

OK this is AT LEAST her second book this year. Anyone else keeping a tally?

The Nice House on the Lake by James Tynion IV
Published by: DC Comics
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Format: Paperback, 200 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"With Something Is Killing the Children and The Department of Truth, James Tynion IV has changed the face of horror in modern comics - now get ready for his most ambitious story yet, alongside his Detective Comics partner Álvaro Martínez Bueno!

Everyone who was invited to the house knows Walter - well, they know him a little, anyway. Some met him in childhood; some met him months ago. And Walter’s always been a

But after the hardest year of their lives, nobody was going to turn down Walter’s invitation to an astonishingly beautiful house in the woods, overlooking an enormous sylvan lake. It’s beautiful, it’s opulent, it’s private - so a week of putting up with Walter’s weird little schemes and nicknames in exchange for the vacation of a lifetime? Why not?

All of them were at that moment in their lives when they could feel themselves pulling away from their other friends; wouldn’t a chance to reconnect be…nice? In The Nice House on the Lake, the overriding anxieties of the 21st century get a terrifying new face - and it might just be the face of the person you once trusted most.

Collects The Nice House on the Lake #1-6."

This is literally THE comic of last year for me. It's perfection. So far. I've been dying for the 7th issue, but here's a lovely collection to catch anyone else up if they haven't started this amazing series yet.

Deadly Director's Cut by Vicki Delany
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Daring resort manager Elizabeth Grady will need to think fast to bring a killer into the limelight in this charming 1950s set cozy mystery series.

Famous director Elias Theropodous has chosen Haggerman’s Catskills Resort as a shooting location for his next film. It sounds glamorous to much of the staff, but resort manager Elizabeth Grady is less satisfied. Dealing with the ridiculous demands of the antagonistic director is bad enough, and his attempts to walk all over Elizabeth are making her feel like her position at the resort has been changed into a bit part.

But when Elias is poisoned during a dinner at the resort, the future of the film and the resort itself are on the line. Between an aging movie star, a harried producer, and former victims of the deceased director’s wrath, Elizabeth has a full cast of suspects to examine, and she’ll need to investigate every lead to catch a killer."

I'm a masochist for actually wanting to read this after my experience with the first one...

Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama by Bob Odenkirk
Published by: Random House
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this "essential" (Entertainment Weekly), "hilarious" (AV Club) memoir, the star of Mr. Show, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul opens up about the highs and lows of showbiz, his cult status as a comedy writer, and what it’s like to reinvent himself as an action film ass-kicker at fifty.

Bob Odenkirk’s career is inexplicable. And yet he will try like hell to explicate it for you. Charting a "Homeric" decades-long "odyssey" from his origins in the seedy comedy clubs of Chicago to a dramatic career full of award nominations - with a side-trip into the action-man world that is baffling to all who know him - it’s almost like there are many Bob Odenkirks! But there is just one and one is plenty.

Bob embraced a life in comedy after a chance meeting with Second City’s legendary Del Close. He somehow made his way to a job as a writer at Saturday Night Live. While surviving that legendary gauntlet by the skin of his gnashing teeth, he stashed away the secrets of comedy writing - eventually employing them in the immortal "Motivational Speaker" sketch for Chris Farley, honing them on The Ben Stiller Show, and perfecting them on Mr. Show with Bob and David.

In Hollywood, Bob demonstrated a bullheadedness that would shame Sisyphus himself, and when all hope was lost for the umpteenth time, the phone rang with an offer to appear on Breaking Bad - a show about how boring it is to be a high school chemistry teacher. His embrace of this strange new world of dramatic acting led him to working with Steven Spielberg, Alexander Payne, and Greta Gerwig, and then, in a twist that will confound you, he re-re-invented himself as a bona fide action star. Why? Read this and do your own psychoanalysis - it’s fun!

Featuring humorous tangents, never-before-seen photos, wild characters, and Bob’s trademark unflinching drive, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama is a classic showbiz tale told by a determined idiot."

I totally forgot he was in that horrid Little Women adaptation...

The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen by Alice and Martin Provensen
Published by: Chronicle Chroma
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen is the first-ever monograph on this beloved midcentury husband-and-wife illustration team. This award-winning pair created more than 40 beloved children's books over the span of seven decades, many of which appeared on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year lists. From early favorites for Golden Books such as The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, 1949, to their Caldecott-winning title The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot, 1983, the Provensens' books inspired generations of young readers. Original paintings for their beloved classics such as A Child's Garden of Verses, 1951, The Iliad and the Odyssey, 1959, Myths and Legends, 1960 and many others, are beautifully reproduced and included here.

This comprehensive volume showcases hundreds of their well-known illustrations, as well as many never-before-seen paintings, drawings, and exquisite sketchbooks from their travels around the world. An interview with their daughter Karen Provensen Mitchell illuminates their life and career and includes many personal photographs, quotes, speeches, and memorabilia from their archive. An introduction by Leonard S. Marcus, a leading historian in children's literature, underscores the Provensen's importance and influence as illustrators and authors. Additionally, noted publisher and close family friend Robert Gottlieb, provides a personal essay that shares many of his memories with this cherished couple.

The Provensens' colorful, inimitable artwork is a treasure trove that has influenced generations of children, designers, illustrators, historians, and all who cherish classic children's books."

If you were lucky enough to grow up in a house where your parents were fans of Alice and Martin Provensen and read The Year at Maple Hill Farm over and over again, well, you need this book. If you've never heart of the Provensens, you REALLY need this book.

A Royal Murder by Verity Bright
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Format: Kindle, 280 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"At the royal boat race there are beautiful barges, plenty of bunting, a handsome prince that a body in the water? Lady Swift is on the case!

Spring, 1923. One-time adventurer and now amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor Swift is attending the annual royal regatta with her new pal Tipsy Fitzroy. Tipsy has Eleanor trussed up like a debutante in a new dress, determined to turn her into a proper society lady. Even Eleanor’s favourite companion, Gladstone the bulldog, has a new outfit for the occasion.

But the sparkling prize-giving ceremony is interrupted when the devilishly handsome host gulps his glass of champagne on stage and collapses to the floor. The victim is none other than the king’s cousin, Lord Xander Taylor-Howard. He was rumoured to be entangled in a rather dubious gambling ring, but did someone kill him instead of collecting his debt? Or was this simply an ill-timed tragic accident? Either way, a right royal scandal is afoot...

Sir Percival, the head of the royal police, asks Eleanor for her help investigating. He’d do anything to keep the story under wraps. She knows it will get her into hot water with a certain dapper Detective Seldon, but she’s determined to see justice done. However, as she digs deeper, she learns Lord Taylor-Howard was hiding more than one murky secret. It isn’t until she takes a closer look at the unfortunate royal’s shattered champagne flute that she stumbles upon just the clue she needs. But can she reel in the killer before her ship is sunk too?

A warm and witty 1920s mystery that cozy fans will just adore. Addictive reading for fans of T.E. Kinsey, Lee Strauss and Agatha Christie.

Readers cannot get enough of Verity Bright!"

1920s AND a boat race? Yeah, might be niche, but it's just perfect for me!

The Letter from Briarton Park by Sarah E. Ladd
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In Regency England, one letter will alter a young woman's fate when it summons her to Briarton Park - an ancient place that holds the secrets of her past and the keys to her future.

Cassandra Hale grew up knowing little about her parentage, and she had made peace with the fact that she never would. But Cassandra's world shifts when a shocking deathbed confession reveals a two-year-old letter from Mr. Clark, the master of Briarton Park, with hints to her family's identity. Stung by betrayal, she travels to the village of Anston only to learn Mr. Clark has since passed away.

James Warrington is a widower and the new master of Briarton Park, where he lives with his two young daughters, his sister, and his mother-in-law. When Cassandra appears at his doorstep with a letter from the previous owner and then proceeds to assist his family in an unexpected way, he is honor bound to help uncover the answers she seeks.

The more time Cassandra spends in Anston, the more she begins to suspect not everything - or everyone - is as they seem. As details emerge, the danger surrounding her intensifies. Using wit and intuition, she must navigate the treacherous landscapes between truth and rumor and between loyalty and deception if she is to uncover the realities of her past and find the place her heart can finally call home.

Sarah Ladd's latest Regency romance, first in the new Houses of Yorkshire series, combines mystery and intrigue with the best of historical storytelling."

Regency AND set in Yorkshire, for this girl currently obsessed with All Creatures Great and Small? Perfection!

Friday, February 25, 2022

Book Review - Leigh Bardugo's Rule of Wolves

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Imprint
Publication Date: March 30th, 2021
Format: Hardcover, 608 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

The time for diplomacy is at an end, the time for war is nigh. But Nikolai, the too-cleaver fox, is never one to limit his options, so why not do both? Why not enter marriage negotiations with the Shu while stealing vital materials from the Kerch? Why not give the Kerch what they want while secretly allying Ravka with Novyi Zem? Why not have secret agents working in the heart of Fjerda while your general becomes a dragon? Why not negotiate with the greatest evil ever while trying to stop the west from seceding? He will try everything and anything to save his country, even leave it if that is what's best. Because once his country knows about the darkness within him, he's sure they will turn on him and jump at the chance to have a real Lantsov on the throne. And the Fjerdans have proof he's not a Lantsov as well as a few true Lantsovs laying about. But he's more worried about his people learning that the Darkling has returned, and not just that, but that he escaped and his powers have returned. That's not something to be taken lightly. But this is Ravka, nothing goes according to plan and a win is almost unheard of. Yet through Queen Makhi's own machinations she might have overreached and inadvertently set Shu Han onto the path of aiding Ravka. But it will take exposing her to her own family and hoping they do the right thing. As for what they are doing with regards to Fjerda? Nina is now ensconced in the household of the head of the Drüskelle, a man she has been dreaming of killing since she was a young student at the Little Palace. So while seeing him among the living gives her no joy, the fact that she's stealing his secrets and passing them onto Nikolai brings her great joy. She is also trying to seed a groundswell of religious fervor for Grisha by making Fjerdans view them not as demons but as the favored children of their God, Djel. Though she, like Nikolai, might have to choose between her heart and her homeland. But what's a little sacrafice for the greater good of their people?

And so the Grishaverse comes to a close until the inevitable third book in the Six of Crows series. Rule of Wolves has some problematic end of series issues, mainly the tropes of killing off someone vital and getting all the characters together for one last hurrah. Alina, really!?! You're smarter than this. But as you reach the last few pages the pros outweigh the cons and you realize just how much you're going to miss this world and the characters you've grown to love. And surprisingly I've grown to love Zoya. She has developed the most over time from an out and out bitch to a fearless leader, who I can't help but relate to. I also kind of want to give her a huge but I know neither of us would enjoy that. We're both to prickly. I also can't help thinking Zoya was written in such a way to make up for George R.R. Martin's failure to Daenerys Targaryen, but maybe that's just me. But despite a feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day I still have this feeling that the crucial question posited by the book wasn't answered. It's all about the old world and Grisha versus the new world and war machines. It's like progress is the way of the future but one dragon comes along and progress grinds to a halt. So is Bardugo saying that myth and modernization can live side by side or not? I feel like maybe even she doesn't know. And this leads to my least favorite aspect of the book, war and weaponry. Yes, the drums were heard for a long time now and I knew the reckoning was coming, but I just felt there was too much hand-wringing with regard to building bigger bombs. It's like with the creation of jurda parem, if the technology exists someone will create it, so someone will create these bombs therefore it should be the good guys right? It all felt too heavy-handed with all the allusions to WWII and the creation of nuclear weapons. The whole "what have we wrought" of it all got to be too repetitive and boring. Yes, the question needs to be raised, but so many times? It was like a broken record. State your objections, move on, and maybe bother to answer the bigger question; the dragon of it all.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Book Review - Leigh Bardugo's King of Scars

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Imprint
Publication Date: January 29th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 528 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy

Nikolai thought the darkness within him was gone like the Shadow Fold. But it has returned. When he falls asleep the monster awakens. He's been lucky so far in that those in his closest counsel have been able to locate and restrain him before he has done any real damage. No one has died. Yet. He is fearful that that day is quickly coming. But Ravka is his primary concern. The country is broke and war is looming. Again. Plus there are murmurs, rumors about saints and miracles. When Nikolai looks at a timeline of the so-called miracles he realizes that they started when the monster within awakened. This can't be a coincidence. What's more, the Darkling now has followers petitioning the crown to legitimize him as the Starless Saint. The eager monk Yuri brings evidence forward that all the miracles are converging on the very spot the Darkling died. Therefore that is where Nikolai must go. Taking Zoya, Tamar, and Tolya, they are ostensibly touring the miracle sites, but they are on a mission to purge Nikolai of his darkness. Something that seems possible according to ancient texts, but it must be kept a closely guarded secret. Ravka is weak and this will be an opportunity for their enemies to lash out. Which is why they have invited all their enemies to a giant party as a way for Nikolai to stabilize the country's finances through a political marriage. Something he does not want to do, but realizes must be done. The only problem is it looks like he's going to miss the biggest party of the year as he comes face to face with real saints. Can his friends and counselors keep the country going in his absence? Only time will tell. And one of his friends is far from home. Nina is undercover in Fjerda. She is rescuing persecuted Grisha and getting them to Ravka, for their own safety and also to help rebuild the Second Army after the bloodbath the Darkling unleashed on them. Only Nina's parem altered powers tap into a dark and dangerous game the Fjerdans are playing with their captured Grisha. They have long experimented on them but what Nina discovers changes everything. Including her own mission. Will her work be able to help Nikolai if he's lucky enough to survive the darkness? Who knows.

I won't say that King of Scars let me down, I feel about it the same way I felt about the Six of Crows duology when I first read it, I'll love it in time but on my first reading there were things that annoyed me. Things that I will now forever be forewarned about. I have to learn to embrace the new characters and the way the old characters have matured. When I first read Six of Crows the only two characters I felt a connection with were Nina and Matthias. Of course I love them all now, but for me Nina and Matthias's relationship makes a plot development in this book a bit of a sticking point for me. That point is Hanne. Leigh is setting up Hanne to be Nina's new love interest. OK, fine. I don't have a problem with this because Nina is young and I knew she'd eventually find love again. Here's the part I DO have a problem with, the eventually being so soon. This seems to diminish Nina and Matthias's love for each other. Here's Nina burying his corpse and oh look at that attractive young novitiate on a horse, I'm good to go! WHAT!?! NO! I know they are young, but does that mean their hearts heal that fast? This just took so much away from my enjoyment of the book that I can't even begin to say how much. Two books of Nina and Matthias fighting for their love and fighting against their love and it's just gone. I know some people will say that dragging his corpse around the countryside for a long time and then finally burying him is mourning followed by closure, but TOO DAMN SOON is all I have to say. I don't like unnecessary change. Like look at Nikolai, his personality change, from dashing rogue to haunted leader, while I didn't like it it made sense because he has changed from the darkness within and from the burdens placed on him. And as for that darkness...well...I really have a thing about vanquished enemies returning from the grave. It's a cop out. It doesn't matter how loved or loathed they were because it's just a stupid trope. I always think of the end scene in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Buffy vs. Dracula" where she just sticks around to repeatedly slay him quipping: "You think I don't watch your movies? You always come back." Yeah, stop coming back!

Monday, February 21, 2022

Tuesday Tomorrow

Love in the Time of Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith
Published by: Anchor
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Format: Paperback, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The latest installment in the delightful 44 Scotland Street series finds all our favorite residents up to their usual hilarious hijinks.

In the microcosm of 44 Scotland Street, all of life’s richness is found in the glorious goings-on of its residents. There’s Domenica, whose anthropological training has honed her observations of her neighbors; Matthew, whose growing triplets are more than a handful; Bruce, whose challenge as ever is thinking of anything but himself; and Big Lou, who may just have found her shot at romance. And of course, there’s young Bertie Pollock, whose starry-eyed explorations of Edinburgh’s New Town are a touching reminder that life itself is an adventure and there’s joy to be found wherever you choose to look."

Damn I love Bertie!

Deadly Editions by Paige Shelton
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A treasure hunt through Edinburgh gives way to a search for a villain terrorizing the city in Deadly Editions, the sixth Scottish Bookshop Mystery from Paige Shelton.

It’s a quiet, snowy morning at The Cracked Spine bookshop, when bookseller Delaney Nichols receives a mysterious visitor, a messenger. He presents her with a perplexing note: an invitation to a meeting with eccentric socialite Shelagh O'Conner, who requests Delaney’s participation in an exclusive treasure hunt. Delaney is intrigued, but also cautious: Shelagh, while charming in person, has a reputation for her hijinks as a wealthy young woman in the '70s. She was even once suspected for the murder of a former boyfriend, though ultimately cleared of all charges.

But Delaney is enticed by the grand prize at the end of the treasure hunt: a highly valuable first edition copy of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson. The winner is also to receive the contents of Shelagh's vast library, and all participants will earn a large sum of cash.

The night after the first meeting of the treasure hunters, however, several homes in Edinburgh are robbed in a manner reminiscent of Shelagh's old tricks. And when a man connected to Shelagh is killed, suspicion builds. Except Shelagh herself has disappeared from her home, seemingly kidnapped by the villain.

Terror mounts throughout the city as Delaney attempts to solve the mystery, while trying to evade the killer's clutches. But it’s hard to know who to trust when around every corner, a new monster could be lurking."

I ADORE literary treasure hunts. ADORE!

Windswept and Interesting by Billy Connolly
Published by: Two Roads
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In his first full-length autobiography, comedy legend and national treasure Billy Connolly reveals the truth behind his windswept and interesting life.

Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy's life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.

Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician - a 'rambling man' - with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart.

As a young comedian Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken - willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy 'glam-rock' stage appearance - wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots - only added to his appeal.

It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson's chat show in 1975 - and one outrageous story in particular - that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy's pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too - for over 50 years, in fact - until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson's Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings...and writing.

Windswept and Interesting is Billy's story in his own words. It is joyfully funny - stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend."

If you haven't noticed I am celebrating all amazing things Scottish this week, which puts Billy Connolly at the top of my list!

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List comes a new locked room mystery, set in a Paris apartment building in which every resident has something to hide...

Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up - to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? - he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite - The nice guy - The alcoholic - The girl on the verge - The concierge.

Everyone's a neighbor. Everyone's a suspect. And everyone knows something they're not telling."

Locked room mystery and Paris. Need I say more?

The Hitman's Daughter by Carolyne Topdjian
Published by: Agora Books
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 350 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The Château du Ciel was once the destination for the rich and famous to play, drink and ski - complete with a private railway to shuttle those desiring extra privacy - now, however, the guests are few and far between. The New Year's Eve party was supposed to hoist the rundown hotel back to its former status, until a massive blizzard hits, trapping the guests who've come to celebrate the grand hotel's last hurrah. The circumstances might even be romantic, if the hotel wasn't reputed to be haunted.

When hotel employee Mave Michael finds the resident artist dead, and shortly thereafter hotel security finds Mave alone with the body, the reputation that Mave has fought long and hard to outrun comes back to haunt her. You see, her father is a notorious hitman who is serving multiple life sentences in prison. She has changed her name and location dozens of times, but he somehow manages to track her down - even sending her a postcard on the eve of her birthday, January 1st. She's the perfect choice to frame for murder, and now the number one suspect. Mave can no longer deny the lessons in survival her father taught her, and calls on that and her uncanny sixth-sense in "finding" lost objects to navigate the maze of the hotel. To save herself, she not only has to stop running from her own past, she must unearth the history of the hotel, its elite guests and buried secrets - one deadly sin at a time.

An homage to classic Gothic horror, that proves that the ghosts of family and classism are alive and well."

What I love about this is the combination of things you don't expect, assassins and Gothic tropes!

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From debut author Kit Mayquist, a propulsive and atmospheric modern Gothic with all the splendor of The Great Gatsby...and all the secrets, lies, and darkness that opulence can hide.

Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents, who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept it - no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description.

By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies...and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey. But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge - a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much - and who - she's willing to sacrifice for payback.

The perfect next read for fans of Mexican Gothic, Tripping Arcadia is a page-turning and shocking tale with an unforgettable protagonist that explores family legacy and inheritance, the sacrifices we must make to get by in today’s world, and the intoxicating, dangerous power of wealth."

I love the idea of Gothic splendor more than I can say.

Extasia by Claire Legrand
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From New York Times bestselling author Claire Legrand comes a new, bone-chilling YA horror novel about a girl who joins a coven to root out a vicious evil that’s stalking her village. Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Grace Year.

Her name is unimportant.

All you must know is that today she will become one of the four saints of Haven. The elders will mark her and place the red hood on her head. With her sisters, she will stand against the evil power that lives beneath the black mountain— - n evil which has already killed nine of her village’s men.

She will tell no one of the white-eyed beasts that follow her. Or the faceless gray women tall as houses. Or the girls she saw kissing in the elm grove.

Today she will be a saint of Haven. She will rid her family of her mother’s shame at last and save her people from destruction. She is not afraid. Are you?

This searing and lyrically written novel by the critically acclaimed author of Sawkill Girls beckons readers to follow its fierce heroine into a world filled with secrets and blood - where the truth is buried in lies and a devastating power waits, seething, for someone brave enough to use it."

I love this cover more than I can ever adequately say.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Book Review - Leigh Bardugo's Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: September 27th, 2016
Format: Hardcover, 560 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Jan Van Eck has to pay. Not just for breaking a contract with Kaz and his crew but for kidnapping Inej. Therefore he must pay in a way he will understand. It's not just the money at stake anymore, it's Van Eck's entire life. His reputation, his wife, his legacy. Everything must be destroyed. Brick by brick. And if Kaz and his crew happen to get rich in the process, well, it's only proper. But the problem is Van Eck's version of what went down has made Kaz and company targets and they've had to go to ground. It isn't safe for them to walk about the city, let alone their beloved Barrel. They are wanted and this makes every plan put in motion that much more complicated because extra precautions have to be taken. Despite Van Eck trying to keep the real reason for the falling out under wraps this is Ketterdam and nothing can remain a secret for long when people are willing to pay good money for it. So the whole world knows that jurda parem exists and that the inventor is in Ketterdam. This means the Shu, the Fjerdans, and the Ravkans, have all sent delegations overtly and secretly to the city. But of those delegations only the Ravkans have a pure intention with regard to Kuwei Yul-Bo. He is Grisha, he is one of them, and they will make sure he is safe. But Kaz isn't ready to just hand over such a valuable asset. He went to a lot of trouble to break Kuwei out of the Ice Court and he lost his Wraith in the process, so he's not about to let go of his asset so easily. But first Kaz needs his Wraith. Which means dealing with Van Eck. Which means knowing how that man thinks and being one step ahead of him. After that, well, brick by brick Van Eck's life will fall. But things never run smoothly...Nina is still in withdrawal from jurda parem and her Grisha powers are acting oddly, Mattias is worried sick about Nina, Wylan has learned his life is a lie, Jesper's dad has shown up in Ketterdam, and Kaz, well, Kaz is just Kaz...It will be a miracle if they pull this off, but they've been known to do the impossible before.

Crooked Kingdom picks up right after the betrayal of mercher Jan Van Eck in Six of Crows and is a headlong rush to the finish, some five-hundred pages later. That level of intensity is hard to bear for that prolonged a period, making it a book that's hard to put down but it's something that needs to be done because you just have to catch your breath every once in awhile. The first time I read this book the pace and plot twists were just too much for me. What I reveled in in Six of Crows were the quieter, more emotional moments, not those requiring a serial killer like board to follow all Kaz's schemes. But so much has already been revealed about our characters in the previous volume it's up to Wylan Van Eck to carry the weight this time around, and luckily he's up to the challenge. Seeing his life and the more rarefied world in which he lived gives further dept to Ketterdam as a whole. We see the city come alive like never before. It doesn't hurt that instead of haring off to Fjerda the entire narrative is contained within the city. And I really appreciated the city more. I recently read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, and I really connected to Amsterdam and how that political microcosm of merchants worked. While that book let me down it added to my reading experience with Crooked Kingdom, once again proving that even a book you don't like has value. I felt Ketterdam come alive, a city that is Amsterdam at it's heart with just a dash of New Orleans as it's flash. So it might seem odd that I'm saying read the book for the location, but really the location in this instance is just another character, and this book lives and dies by it's characters. And yes, someone dies. In fact, Matthias's death might have been the predominate reason this book pissed me off the first time around. I ship Nina and Matthias so much it is painful. The way Leigh describes Matthias dying in Nina's arms is almost too much to bear. So while I can complain about this or that with regard to this book there is such an emotional wallop at the end that if you are prepared for it you will forgive every flaw that came before and just marvel at the fact you were so moved by a story.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Book Review - Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: September 29th, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

What if Grisha could be more powerful? Not to just have their powers amplified but to have them changed. Magnified to a degree that the world itself morphs before their eyes and anything is possible. Of course, such a discovery would be desired by the wealthy and the powerful, and especially the military. Bo Yul-Bayur is a chemist who accidentally created Jurda Parem from the common stimulant Jurda. While fatal to Non-Grisha, to Grisha it can make them fly, literally, but it makes the user an addict after one dose. Afraid of what he has created Bo Yul-Bayur attempts to seek asylum in Kerch but is captured by the Drüskelle and taken to the Fjerdan capital of Djerholm and imprisoned in the impenetrable Ice Court. Who knows what the Fjerdan's will do with this technology, seeing as they have been carrying out pogroms on the Grisha "Witches" for as long as anyone can remember. This is where Kaz Brekker comes in. Kaz is the lieutenant of The Dregs and is known as the man who gets things done. So when mercher Jan Van Eck needs someone to break Bo Yul-Bayur out of the Ice Court he turns to Kaz with the offer of a lifetime. The score from this impossible heist could set Kaz and his crew up for the rest of their lives. Kaz recruits Inej, the "wraith", Jesper, a born sharpshooter, Wylan, for his demolition skills and the fact that if need be he is Van Eck's son and could be used as a hostage, and Nina, because she's a Grisha who is a Ravkan Heartrender. But more importantly, Nina has a connection to someone who intimately knows Kerch and the Ice Court, former Drüskelle Matthias Helvar. Matthias is in prison because of something Nina said and she's been trying to make it up to him ever since, and breaking him out of prison for a big payday should make them even. The improbability and complexity of their plan could go wrong at a million different places, yet they are all good at thinking on their feet, they wouldn't have survived in Ketterdam with all the rival gangs and dangerous alleys if they weren't. But is the payout really worth the risks? And when all is said and done can they trust Van Eck?

When I first read Ocean's Eleven: Ketterdam, or is that Ocean's Six, or even Kaz's Six, hmm, I really have to think this through more...but anyway, when I first read Six of Crows I didn't love it. I felt that in the end the biggest letdown is that Six of Crows just shows us the futility of striving for a better life. From the very beginning Kaz's crew are given this impossible task, one at which they could fail at any second, but deep down you know they are going to succeed. But in succeeding they fail. And somehow I knew this. I just knew that they'd make it to the end and yet they'd fail. I don't know if it's all the heist movies I've watched over the years, but somehow I knew it would be like that bus dangling over the precipice at the end of The Italian Job, all that work wouldn't really be worth it in the end. We were left hanging, waiting for the second book. And that's why they had to fail, because this is a duology. The plot couldn't be wrapped up nice and neat with them walking out of the Barrel millionaires after one book. And for some reason I couldn't accept that at the time. I was annoyed by this ending that opened up the story wider versus locking it down. So what changed between me reading this book back in 2015 and me reading it now? Well, that's twofold. One reason is I've already read the sequel so I know where this is going and therefore could appreciate this book for what it was versus bitching about what it wasn't. The other reason is that I am currently so immersed in the Grishaverse I can take my time to appreciate the characters. I do love these characters so much. In fact I didn't realize how much until I took the book down off the shelf and devoured almost a hundred pages in my first sitting. I was waiting each and every day, biding my time until I could read again. And this is a book where I know what happens and still it kept me on the edge of my seat and staying up way too late. But most importantly, I really can't wait to see who shows up in Nikolai's duology! Yes, those are the books I haven't read yet but I felt the need to reread everything that came before before allowing myself that luxury. I really can't wait!

Monday, February 14, 2022

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki
Published by: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you.... So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard - even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweather Post lived an epic life few could imagine.

Marjorie’s journey began gluing cereal boxes in her father’s barn as a young girl. No one could have predicted that C. W. Post’s Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire and reshape the American way of life, with Marjorie as its heiress and leading lady. Not content to stay in her prescribed roles of high-society wife, mother, and hostess, Marjorie dared to demand more, making history in the process. Before turning thirty she amassed millions, becoming the wealthiest woman in the United States. But it was her life-force, advocacy, passion, and adventurous spirit that led to her stunning legacy.

And yet Marjorie’s story, though full of beauty and grandeur, set in the palatial homes she built such as Mar-a-Lago, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, Marjorie sought her happily-ever-after with the blue-blooded party boy who could not outrun his demons, the charismatic financier whose charm turned to betrayal, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society. Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love."

I wonder what she'd think about that Nazi living in her house...

Flung Out of Space by Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer
Published by: Abrams ComicArts - Surely
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 208 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A fictional and complex portrait of bestselling author Patricia Highsmith caught up in the longing that would inspire her queer classic, The Price of Salt.

Flung Out of Space is both a love letter to the essential lesbian novel, The Price of Salt, and an examination of its notorious author, Patricia Highsmith. Veteran comics creators Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer have teamed up to tell this story through Highsmith’s eyes - reimagining the events that inspired her to write the story that would become a foundational piece of queer literature. Flung Out of Space opens with Pat begrudgingly writing low-brow comics. A drinker, a smoker, and a hater of life, Pat knows she can do better. Her brain churns with images of the great novel she could and should be writing - what will eventually be Strangers on a Train - which would later be adapted into a classic film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951.

At the same time, Pat, a lesbian consumed with self-loathing, is in and out of conversion therapy, leaving a trail of sexual conquests and broken hearts in her wake. However, one of those very affairs and a chance encounter in a department store give Pat the idea for her soon-to-be beloved tale of homosexual love that was the first of its kind - it gave the lesbian protagonists a happy ending.

This is not just the story behind a classic queer book, but of a queer artist who was deeply flawed. It’s a comic about what it was like to write comics in the 1950s, but also about what it means to be a writer at any time in history, struggling to find your voice.

Author Grace Ellis contextualizes Patricia Highsmith as both an unintentional queer icon and a figure whose problematic views and noted anti-Semitism have cemented her controversial legacy. Highsmith’s life imitated her art with results as devastating as the plot twists that brought her fame and fortune."

Patricia Highsmith is, dare I say it, even more interesting than her books!

Call Me a Cab by Donald E. Westlake
Published by: Hard Case Crime
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The final unpublished novel by MWA Grandmaster – a wild, romantic road trip across America by taxi cab - demonstrates why this beloved author is so fondly remembered and so dearly missed.

In 1977, one of the world’s finest crime novelists turned his pen to suspense of a very different sort - and the results have never been published, until now.

Fans of mystery fiction have often pondered whether it would be possible to write a suspense novel without any crime at all, and in Call Me a Cab the masterful Donald E. Westlake answered the question in his inimitable style. You won’t find any crime in these pages - but what you will find is a wonderful suspense story, about a New York City taxi driver hired to drive a beautiful woman all the way across America, from Manhattan to Los Angeles, where the biggest decision of her life is waiting to be made. From Pennsylvania to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada on the way to California, the characters’ odyssey takes them through uncharted territory - on the map and in their lives. It’s Westlake at his witty, thought-provoking best, and it proves that a page-turner doesn’t need to have a bomb set to go off at the end of it in order to keep sparks flying every step of the way."

I think we've been waiting a long time for the suspense within these pages!

The Bone Track by Sara E. Johnson
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A nature trek turns dangerous when the wilderness gives up its bones...

New Zealand's remote Milford Track seems the perfect place for forensic investigator Alexa Glock to reconnect with her brother Charlie, with whom she hasn't spent much time since they were kids. Their backpacking trip seems ill-fated from the start, though, when she must stop on the way to examine nine skeletons - most likely Maori tribespeople - whose graves have been unearthed by highway construction. Before she opens the first casket, a Maori elder gives her a dire warning: "The viewing of bones can unleash misfortune to the living. Or worse."

Though Alexa dismisses his words as superstitious, they soon come back to haunt her as the idyllic hike takes a sinister turn. First, Charlie is aloof and resentful of the time Alexa has spent at work. Then a rock avalanche nearly carries her away as it reveals the skeletal remains of someone who has clearly been stabbed to death. When a fellow hiker goes missing and is later found dead, Alexa has all she can do to focus on the science as she investigates two murders, while trying not to become the third victim."

I am all about New Zealand lately.

The Midnight Killing by Sharon Dempsey
Published by: Avon
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Kindle, 378 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"She’d cycled this way hundreds of times before, every twist and turn familiar. She didn’t know this would be the last.

When the body of local architect James McCallum is found hanging in the grounds of his former school one cold, dark night, DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey suspect foul play behind his apparent suicide.

To their astonishment, the trail leads to a 20-year-old cold case of a missing girl, and a teenage party. But what was James’ fascination with the case and how is it linked to his death?

Secrets don’t stay buried forever - but the real killer will stop at nothing to hide theirs...

An absolutely gripping and totally unputdownable crime thriller that will keep you up all night! Perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney, Val McDermid and Rachel Caine."

Murders that involve young women on bikes are somehow really drawing me in lately.

An Impossible Impostor by Deanna Raybourn
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"While investigating a man claiming to be the long-lost heir to a noble family, Veronica Speedwell gets the surprise of her life in this new adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award - nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

London, 1889. Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian beau Stoker are summoned by Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Special Branch. He has a personal request on behalf of his goddaughter, Euphemia Hathaway. After years of traveling the world, her eldest brother, Jonathan, heir to Hathaway Hall, was believed to have been killed in the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa a few years before.

But now a man matching Jonathan’s description and carrying his possessions has arrived at Hathaway Hall with no memory of his identity or where he has been. Could this man truly be Jonathan, back from the dead? Or is he a devious impostor, determined to gain ownership over the family's most valuable possessions - a legendary parure of priceless Rajasthani jewels? It's a delicate situation, and Veronica is Sir Hugo's only hope.

Veronica and Stoker agree to go to Hathaway Hall to covertly investigate the mysterious amnesiac. Veronica is soon shocked to find herself face-to-face with a ghost from her past. To help Sir Hugo discover the truth, she must open doors to her own history that she long believed to be shut for good."

I just recently pulled ALL my Deanna Raybourn books out of storage for a mega reread. So I'm glad that once I finish all that I have I have a new book on the horizon!

The Midwife by Tricia Cresswell
Published by: Pan
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Kindle
To Buy

The official patter:
"A haunting and moving debut, The Midwife by Tricia Cresswell is perfect for fans of The Familiars and The Binding.

1838. After a violent storm, a woman is found alone, naked and near death, on the Northumberland moors. She has no memory of who she is or how she got there. But she can remember how to help a woman in labour and how to expertly dress a wound, and can speak fluent French. With the odds against her, a penniless single woman, she starts to build her life from scratch, using her skills to help other women around her. She finds a happy place in the world. Until tragedy strikes, and she must run for her life...

In London, Dr Borthwick lives a solitary life working as an accoucheur dealing with mothers and babies in the elegant homes of high society together with his midwife, Mrs Bates, and volunteering in the slums of the Devil’s Acre alongside a young widow, Eleanor Johnson. His professional reputation is spotless and he keeps his private life just as clean, isolating himself from any new acquaintances. But he is harbouring a dark secret from his past - one that threatens to spill over everything."

I was in at the mention of a moor!

Gwendey's Final Task by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Published by: Cemetery Dance Publications,
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 408 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"When Gwendy Peterson was twelve, a mysterious stranger named Richard Farris gave her a mysterious box for safekeeping. It offered treats and vintage coins, but it was dangerous. Pushing any of its seven colored buttons promised death and destruction.

Years later, the button box entered Gwendy’s life again. A successful novelist and a rising political star, she was once again forced to deal with the temptation that box represented.

Now, evil forces seek to possess the button box and it is up to Senator Gwendy Peterson to keep it from them. At all costs. But where can you hide something from such powerful entities?

In Gwendy’s Final Task, "horror giants" (Publishers Weekly) Stephen King and Richard Chizmar take us on a journey from Castle Rock to another famous cursed Maine city to the MF\\\-1 space station, where Gwendy must execute a secret mission to save the world. And, maybe, all worlds."

Stephen King's books usually all end up being supernatural based or alien based, here we get both!

The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian by Phil Szostak
Published by: Abrams
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"This official behind-the-scenes companion to season two of the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian features exclusive concept art by the Lucasfilm art department and original interviews with the artists, writers, and filmmakers.

The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two) takes fans behind the scenes of the second season of the Emmy Award–winning Disney+ live-action Star Wars television series. Filled with concept art, character, vehicle, weapon, and creature designs, and interviews with key crew and creatives, including executive producer/showrunner/ writer Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Lion King) and executive producer/ director Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels), The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two) will provide readers with an exclusive look at the stunning art and design work that helped bring new and returning characters and locations to life.

Season two of The Mandalorian tracks the continuing adventures of Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and the Child as they explore the far reaches of the Star Wars galaxy in an effort to return Grogu to his people and stay one step ahead of Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) Imperial remnant and squad of dark troopers. Alongside comrades from the first season, the duo encounters a cadre of new allies and forms tenuous alliances with former Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), frontier marshal Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), fellow Mandalorians Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado aka Sasha Banks), and fan-favorite bounty hunter Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison). In The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two), readers will encounter early visual and conceptual ideas for these new characters and their arsenal of weapons, ships, and armor, as well as the icy, lush, war-torn, and razed planets that serve as crucial stepping stones in Djarin and Grogu’s quest.

Returning for The Mandalorian season two, executive creative director Doug Chiang (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and the incomparable group of artists, designers, and dreamers known as the Lucasfilm art department “visualists” undertook the challenge of continuing to push the boundaries of Star Wars storytelling while also translating Ahsoka Tano from animation to live action and updating the look of the legendary Boba Fett. The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two) is the only book to explore the artistic vision for this groundbreaking sophomore season, taking readers on a deep dive into the development of the next chapter of Din Djarin and Grogu’s story. Exclusive interviews with the filmmakers and the Lucasfilm visualists provide a running commentary on The Mandalorian’s innovative art and design, revealing the inspiration behind the look and feel of the series."

I know you all need some Grogu to tied you over until next season.

The Ankh-Morpork Archives: Volume II by Paul Kidby
Published by: Gollancz
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 252 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Containing material unavailable for twenty years - this is a comprehensive guide to the capital city of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, getting to the heart of Ankh-Morpork's secrets, societies and guilds.

Ankh-Morpork is a bottomless pit of secrets. It's time to unearth a few more...

In the second volume of this confidential guide, brave travellers are made privy to the inner workings of more illustrious Ankh-Morpork societies.

Disabuse yourself of notions of professionalism under which you may hold the City Watch; discover what serious business is undertaken by the Fools' Guild (joking is no laughing matter); and, should you be lucky, achieve true enlightenment through the teachings of Lu-Tze.

One thing's for sure: after you've read this book, Ankh-Morpork's Guilds are going to need to come up with new ways of doing things.

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

I love how Paul Kidby has helped visually created Discworld.

Christmas Poems by Carol Ann Duffy
Published by: Picador
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"For a decade, while she was Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy gifted her thousands of readers an illustrated poem every Christmas, transporting them in one year to a seventeenth-century festival on the frozen Thames, in another to Western Front to witness the famous 1914 truce, then to a sweet winter’s night in the South of France with Pablo Picasso and his small dog.

Christmas Poems showcases Duffy’s bold and innovative voice, alongside gorgeous artwork from Rob Ryan, David De Las Heras and Lara Hawthorne, amongst others. These ten much-loved poems are gathered together for the first time in this compendium to make a perfect gift for old friends celebrating a decade’s tradition or those experiencing the magic of Duffy’s festive verse for the first time."

I mean, ideally this would have been out for Christmas... But my Dad is a huge poetry fan and says she's the real deal, so it's a must buy even if it feels out of season.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Book Review - Leigh Bardugo's The Lives of Saints

The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Imprint
Publication Date: October 6th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 128 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

The Istorii Sankt'ya, The Lives of the Saints, is given to children in Ravka to learn about the saints. When Alina was given a copy by the Apparat she brushed it aside as something meant for children. Yet she soon comes to realize that this book full of short lives and brutal deaths might be the key to defeating the Darkling and that saints might be synonymous with Grisha. All the saints are enumerated here, even Alina herself. The tales told are miraculous. Some are self-sacrificing, some are misunderstandings, but each is illuminating. And each only has a small aspect of the truth. Because truth changes over time. Truth morphs and becomes something palatable. Something that can be understood versus the true magic of what was. So even if you think you know what happened, perhaps you don't know the whole truth. Sankta Lizabeta, she of the bees and the blood red roses, she who was killed for not protecting others, she might have a dark little secret that was later revealed...Sankt Juris slayed a dragon or did he? Did he and the dragon become something more? But perhaps the most surprising saint is the Starless Saint, for those who seek salvation in the dark. The Starless Saint is none other than the Darkling. Because while a villain to all logical thinking people to some he is a hero. He did just want to keep Ravka safe and make it a haven for Grisha. If he had to kill a fair amount of Grisha to accomplish his goal, his long life could perhaps excuse his lack of empathy. His lack of understanding that every single life matters not just the welfare of the greater good. But here he is, among the pages of a children's book, there to worship and build alters too, like all the rest. And who knows, in the end maybe some of them were just as misguided as the Darkling...

This companion book to Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse is obviously a bit of a cash grab. They had to produce the Istorii Sankt'ya for use on the Netflix show as it's so important to the plot and figured since they already had it made there had to be fans who would fork over good money for a copy. And they were right. Yet the whole commercial aspect of this book doesn't diminish the fact that it is a beautiful little volume that adds so much to your understanding of the universe Leigh Bardugo has created. We learn the stories of the saints who Inej named her knives after. We get to finally hold in our hand the painting of Ilya Morozova, Sankt Ilya in Chains, that fueled Alina's search for the third amplifier. And we get to see how Alina herself was immortalized in the pages of this book she clung to so feverishly. As she pointed out, all saints live brutal lives that end in death, but it's the ways in which Leigh changes her narrative for each saint that keeps the stories fresh. Sometimes we get a straightforward tale of what happened to them, and other times we get stories that are about the people who worshiped the saint and because of their devotion they were saved, hello Yuri! This second example is what Leigh does with Sankta Alina, therefore giving us a story that is new to our favorite heroine and saint. But this book is full of surprises. As Alina herself pointed out when she was researching Ilya Morozova, there are so many variations and iterations of tales out there that perhaps we've heard it before. And here there is one we have if you happened to have read The Language of Thorns. Sankta Ursula's tale is the tale of Ulla from "When Water Sang Fire" about the creation of the Broken Heart islands off the northern coast of Fjerda. This little callback was a wonderful parallel that shows how perfectly built Leigh's world is. Almost as perfectly built as the Ice Court...but that was a different saint altogether.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Book Review - Leigh Bardugo's The Language of Thorns

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Imprint
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

There are tales that should only be told in the darkest months or at the darkest hours. Tales of magic most wondrous and dangerous. Tales that you think you know the outcome but take you to unexpected vistas, places beyond which normal sanitized fairy tales end. There's a beastly prince who holds a town in his grasp. Yet all he really longs for is a story. One that ends true. And there's the young Ayama, overlooked by her own family, who could save them all or realize her own overlooked power. There are animals who believe that no matter what that they are the most clever and that they will never be caught. But what if they fail to see the danger in disguise? Then there's Nadya. Girls have been disappearing in the woods near her home. Everyone says the woods is eating them. But Nadya doesn't believe in that superstitious rumor. She believes the danger is closer to home. She doesn't trust her new step-mother who just has to be a wicked one. A witch that drives Nadya from her home and her beloved father and into the very woods that "eat" young girls. Yet Nadya finds a kind witch. A witch that takes care of her and eventually she learns that nothing is as it seems. Father's in fact can be trouble, as young and beautiful Yeva learns. Her father decides to barter her hand for his own prosperity, never once thinking what his daughter might want. Though one should never expect an outcome they desire when they don't fully appreciate what led them to victory. The worm can turn. As it does for Droessen the toymaker. He wants to better himself and his standing in the world. He wishes not to be someone brought for entertainment at the holidays. He wants wealth. He wants what his patrons have. So he makes a vehicle for his purposes, a nutcracker. One who will do his bidding. Yet what happens when knowledge and autonomy set in? Life always has a way to strike you down when you try to reach beyond your abilities, when you try to set your hat at something that you don't deserve. But most importantly, when you use others to achieve those goals. Ulla learns this the hardest way possible, but one related to living darkness might just find a way to get her revenge.

The Language of Thorns is a compilation of dark fairy tales that everyone should own. And I mean EVERYONE. You don't need to have read Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse books in order to appreciate them. You don't need to have any experience with her writing AT ALL. This is just an amazing series of tales that I know my grandmother would have loved to read with me, for her the darker the tale the more she enjoyed it. Of course if you ARE a fan of the Grishaverse this book should already be on your bookshelf for the deeper understanding you acquire of the complexity and history of the world Leigh has created. As with any good set of fairy tales several of these are well known tales told in a different way. We have Beauty and the Beast, The Nutcracker, and The Little Mermaid. She makes them all deliciously darker. And this is saying something because Leigh uses the original story of The Little Mermaid as her inspiration, NOT the Disney version... though you can still feel the Disney influence in a wonderfully twisted way. I loved all these tales so much but I have to say the retelling of The Nutcracker, "The Soldier Prince" won my heart. I have never been a fan of The Nutcracker, I have issues with the rat king, but here Leigh combines it with another story I am not too fond of, The Velveteen Rabbit, and creates a Christmas tale that is a meditation on what makes us who we are and what can happen if we take control of our own destinies and stories. None of these stories end up where you expect and I think that is what makes them so powerful. That and the illustrations. This book could be bought just for Sara Kipin's illustrations alone. She starts each tale with just one small drawing that every time you flip the page gets added to until the entire tale has this magnificent border that has morphed and changed over the course of the tale. As a final treat the last two pages of each tale are a beautiful illustration surrounded by the border we have seen develop. It's truly astonishing and reminds me of the awe I had for flip books when I was little. This whole book reminded me of my childhood and I love that this is a selection of fairy tales for those of all ages. Share it with those you love.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Tuesday Tomorrow

Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron
Published by: Soho Crime
Publication Date: February 8th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript - about a baronet's daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain - cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra.

Cheltenham Spa hardly turns out to be the relaxing sojourn Jane and Cassandra envisaged, however. It is immediately obvious that other boarders at the guest house where the Misses Austen are staying have come to Cheltenham with stresses of their own - some of them deadly. But perhaps with Jane’s interference a terrible crime might be prevented. Set during the Year without a Summer, when the eruption of Mount Tambora in the South Pacific caused a volcanic winter that shrouded the entire planet for sixteen months, this fourteenth installment in Stephanie Barron’s critically acclaimed series brings a forgotten moment of Regency history to life."

Anyone else as obsessed as I am with 1816 and how they didn't have a summer?

The Great Mrs. Elias by Barbara Chase-Riboud
Published by: Amistad
Publication Date: February 8th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The author of the award-winning Sally Hemings now brings to life Hannah Elias, one of the richest black women in America in the early 1900s, in this mesmerizing novel swirling with atmosphere and steeped in history.

A murder and a case of mistaken identity brings the police to Hannah Elias’ glitzy, five-story, twenty-room mansion on Central Park West. This is the beginning of an odyssey that moves back and forth in time and reveals the dangerous secrets of a mysterious woman, the fortune she built, and her precipitous fall.

Born in Philadelphia in the late 1800s, Hannah Elias has done things she’s not proud of to survive. Shedding her past, Hannah slips on a new identity before relocating to New York City to become as rich as a robber baron. Hannah quietly invests in the stock market, growing her fortune with the help of businessmen. As the money pours in, Hannah hides her millions across 29 banks. Finally attaining the life she’s always dreamed, she buys a mansion on the Upper West Side and decorates it in gold and first-rate décor, inspired by her idol Cleopatra.

The unsolved murder turns Hannah’s world upside-down and threatens to destroy everything she’s built. When the truth of her identity is uncovered, thousands of protestors gather in front of her stately home. Hounded by the salacious press, the very private Mrs. Elias finds herself alone, ensnared in a scandalous trial, and accused of stealing her fortune from whites.

Packed with glamour, suspense, and drama, populated with real-life luminaries from the period, The Great Mrs. Elias brings a fascinating woman and the age she embodied to glorious, tragic life."

Murder AND mistaken identity? Yes please! Also, can you imagine what a five-story twenty-five room mansion on Central Park West cost then AND now!?!

The Grayson Sherbrooke by Catherine Coulter
Published by: Blackstone Publishing
Publication Date: February 8th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 454 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Much like the hero of his frightening Gothic adventure stories, well-known English author Grayson Sherbrooke has his own share of run-ins with peculiar supernatural beings, both good and evil. From his home on the northern coast of England, Sherbrooke leaps into these otherworldly mysteries to find the truth with the help of his son, Pip; his beautiful neighbor, Miranda, and her daughter, P. C.; and an orphan named Barnaby.

Set in the mid-nineteenth century and featuring a delightfully quirky cast of characters, The Grayson Sherbrooke Novella Collection will keep you entertained for hours as you join Sherbrooke and his rag-tag team of investigators to solve bizarre, out-of-this-world cases.

This collection includes five books in Coulter's supernatural series: The Strange Visitation at Wolffe Hall, The Resident Evil at Blackthorn Manor, The Ancient Spirits of Sedgwick House, The Virgin Bride of Northcliffe Hall, and The Red Witch of Ravenstone Folly."

I love period Gothic monster adventures!

Friday, February 4, 2022

Book Review - Leigh Bardugo's Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: June 17th, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy (Different edition then one reviewed)

The Apparat's plan to win the war is to bide his time underground in his white cathedral with his disciples and rise victorious when all Alina's enemies have killed each other. While this kind of strategy has led to his long and successful career in the halls of Os Alta, Alina is going crazy underground as his saintly prisoner. Her illness after the battle with the Darkling has left her sick and frail, but being so far away from the light she summons means she is unable to fully heal, unable to escape the Apparat and her growing fear that he might realize a dead saint is less work than a living one. Luckily for Alina her fellow Grisha are concocting a plan to release her from this underground tomb and resume their hunt for the final amplifier in the hopes that then Alina will have the strength to defeat the Darkling. Escaping though is the first and easiest step, and in truth, it wasn't easy at all. But working their way out of a labyrinth of underground caverns is quite easier than locating a rebel prince who has become a sky pirate employing guerrilla tactics or hunting down a mystical creature that may not even exist. All this just in the hopes that they might succeed. Yet with the Darkling striking out faster, sooner, and unexpectedly at every turn, Alina wonders how her small misfit band of Grisha can survive and how they even became compatriots in the first place. With despair driving them more than hope, Alina wants to be the light in the darkness but fears that her lust for power might make her more similar to the Darkling than she dares admit to anyone, even Mal. And what if victory is only possible by letting go of the only thing that matters to her?

A satisfying conclusion is the hardest thing to achieve. A delicate balance of all the possible outcomes while remaining true to the characters and giving the readers closure. Some might say it's impossible, others improbable, but Leigh Bardugo comes very close to a perfect ending with a relentless pace maintained until the final pages of Ruin and Rising. I will just miss the Darkling horribly though. Perhaps I should stop falling for the baddies and the rogues so that when they are vanquished or cast aside I won't be left here pining and brokenhearted. Yet my inability to stop falling for the bad guys was a foregone conclusion with the Darkling. What made Ruin and Rising so amazing and so fully rounded a book was the insight Bardugo gave us about him. Here we don't have just a mindless baddie whose sole goal is power and destruction. We don't have a cookie cutter villain with a goofy gimmick, like a bullseye iris (don't ask me why I'm thinking of Charles Dance in Last Action Hero, I honestly don't know.) Bardugo gets that bad guys can't be all that bad, there has to be more. Here we have a multifaceted villain. He's not black like Spinal Tap none more black, he's black like an oil slick or the night sky, there's rainbows and depth, there's hints of blue that make the black blacker, but a splash of light every now and then. His back story is gut wrenching, especially if you read this edition with the prequel story "The Demon in the Wood." To the rest of the world he's this improbable being of such destructive force that he is terrifying, but to Alina, he's just a boy, like calling to like. What wouldn't we do if we spent lifetimes alone and persecuted? Your only wish to be loved and safe and have someone tenderly say your name. Your true name. To learn at the end that you are in fact truly alone, that would destroy anyone.

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