Monday, May 30, 2022

Tuesday Tomorrow

A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: May 31st, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this series debut from New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, a modern-day homicide detective finds herself in Victorian Scotland - in an unfamiliar body - with a killer on the loose.

May 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness.

May 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Mitchell had been enjoying a half-day off, only to be discovered that night in a lane, where she’d been strangled and left for dead...exactly one-hundred-and-fifty years before Mallory was strangled in the same spot.

When Mallory wakes up in Catriona's body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to the reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. She soon discovers that her boss, Dr. Gray, also moonlights as a medical examiner and has just taken on an intriguing case, the strangulation of a young man, similar to the attack on herself. Her only hope is that catching the murderer can lead her back to her modern life...before it's too late.

Outlander meets The Alienist in Kelley Armstrong's A Rip Through Time, the first book in this utterly compelling series, mixing romance, mystery, and fantasy with thrilling results."

Time-Slip crime solving? YES PLEASE! Also, can I do this myself because it's kind of a dream of mine to solve the greatest unsolved mysteries of the past...

Miss Morton and the English House Party by Catherine Lloyd
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: May 31st, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Compelled by circumstance to accept the post of lady’s companion to a wealthy widow, Lady Caroline Morton soon finds her duties entail investigating a murder in the first installment of a brand new Regency-set series by Catherine Lloyd, author of the critically acclaimed Kurland St. Mary Mysteries.

The options for the penniless daughter of a deceased earl are few indeed in Regency England. So, following the suspicious death of her father, the Earl of Morton, and the discovery that she and her much younger sister have been left without income or home, Lady Caroline takes a post as a lady’s companion to the wealthy widow Frogerton.

Just as Caroline is getting accustomed to her new position, her aunt, Lady Eleanor Greenwood, invites her and her employer to a house party in the countryside to celebrate her youngest daughter’s birthday. Mrs. Matilda (Matty) Frogerton sees this as an opportunity to introduce her own rather wild daughter, Dorothy, to the ton, and Caroline is eager to see her sister, who as a child lives with their aunt.

But all is not well at the Greenwood estate. For one thing, Lady Caroline’s former fiancé, Lord Francis Chatham, is a guest and refuses to speak to her. Far worse, after a series of troubling harassments of the staff, an elderly family member is found stabbed by a knitting needle.

As Caroline and an unexpected ally - Mrs. Frogerton - attempt to solve the chilling crime, they discover the culprit may be leaving bizarre clues as to who will be next in the nursery. But they must make haste, for this heartless killer is engaged in anything but child’s play..."

I love mysteries and I am ALL about the Regency right now, so this is a must read!

Murder for the Modern Girl by Kendall Kulper
Published by: Holiday House
Publication Date: May 31st, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Gatsby-era glamour, a swoon-worthy love story, and an indomitable heroine dazzle in this romp that captures the extravagance of the Roaring Twenties and the dangers of vigilante justice.

A ravishing young mind reader stalks the streets at night in kitten heels, prowling for men to murder.

A soft-spoken genius toils away in the city morgue, desperate to unearth the science behind his gift for shapeshifting.

It’s a match made in 1928 Chicago, where gangsters run City Hall, jazz fills the air, and every good girl’s purse conceals a flask.

Until now, eighteen-year-old Ruby’s penchant for poison has been a secret. No one knows that she uses her mind-reading abilities to target men who prey on vulnerable women, men who escape the clutches of Chicago "justice." When she meets a brilliant boy working at the morgue, his knack for forensic detail threatens to uncover her dark hobby. Even more unfortunately: sharp, independent Ruby has fallen in love with him.

Waltzing between a supernaturally enhanced romance, the battle to take down a gentleman’s club, and loyal friendships worth their weight in diamonds, Ruby brings defiant charm to every page of Murder for the Modern Girl - not to mention killer fashion. An irresistible caper perfect for fans of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, in an exquisite hardcover package with rose-gold foil."

Why do I love Twenties Chicago? Could it be because that was where my grandmother always hung out? Add in dash of the supernatural and I'm sold!

The French for Murder by Verity Bright
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: May 31st, 2022
Format: Kindle, 287 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A grand villa, croissants for breakfast and a dead body in the wine cellar...Lady Swift can’t seem to take a vacation from murder!

Summer 1923. Lady Eleanor Swift is finally persuaded by her butler, Clifford, to take a villa in the south of France for the season. She plans to do what a glamorous lady abroad should: long lunches on the balcony followed by lazy afternoons lounging by the pool. Even Gladstone the bulldog is looking forward to a daily paddle in the ocean.

But when Clifford examines the wine cellar, he discovers there are no decent reds but there is a very dead body. The victim is famous American movie star Rex Armstrong. Poor Rex seems to have been stabbed with a sword from the film set. So how did he end up in Eleanor’s villa?

Before Eleanor even has time to change out of her travelling suit, her beloved butler is arrested for the crime. At sea without her right-hand man, Eleanor must gather her wits if she’s to outsmart a murderer and save Clifford.

Attending a glitzy party at the luxurious Hotel Azure with the film’s cast and crew so she can question her main suspects, Eleanor overhears the director having a most unsettling telephone call that throws all her theories out of the water. Can Eleanor unmask the true killer before her time abroad is cut murderously short?

A gripping historical murder mystery full of charm and intrigue, set in the beautiful French Riviera. Fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey and Lee Strauss will adore The French for Murder."

The newest adventure of Lady Eleanor Swift is always a time for celebration, especially if we can celebrate in France!

On Gin Lane by Brooke Lea Foster
Published by: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 31st, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"After her fiancé whisks her off to the glistening shores of Southampton in June of 1957, one young socialite begins to realize that her glamorous summer is giving her everything - except what she really wants - in this new novel from the author of Summer Darlings.

Everleigh "Lee" Farrows thinks she finally has life all figured out: a handsome fiancé named Roland, a trust in her name, and a house in Bronxville waiting for her to fill it with three adorable children. That is, until Roland brings her out to the Hamptons for a summer that will change everything.

Most women could only dream of the engagement present Roland unexpectedly bestows on Lee - a beachside hotel on the prized Gin Lane - but Lee’s delight is clouded by unpleasant memories of another hotel, the Plaza, where she grew up in the shadow of her mother’s mental illness. Shaking off flashbacks, Lee resolves to dive into an unforgettable summer with poolside Bellinis, daily tennis matches, luncheons with her Manhattan circle, and her beloved camera in tow. But when tragedy strikes on the hotel’s opening weekend, the cracks in Lee’s picture-perfect future slowly begin to reveal themselves, and Lee must look deep within herself to determine if the life she’s always wanted will ever truly be enough.

From the regal inns to the farmland, the well-heeled New Yorkers to the Bohemian artists, the East End of Long Island is a hodge-podge of the changing American landscape in the late 1950s - and the perfect place for Lee to discover who she really is."

Come revel in 1950s America!

Deep Water by Emma Bamford
Published by: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: May 31st, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The dark side of paradise is exposed when a terrified couple reveals their daunting experience on a remote island to their rescuers - only to realize they’re still in the grips of the island's secrets - in this intense and startling debut in the tradition of Into the Jungle and The Ruins.

When a Navy vessel comes across a yacht in distress in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean, Captain Danial Tengku orders his ship to rush to its aid. On board the yacht is a British couple: a horribly injured man, Jake, and his traumatized wife, Virginie, who breathlessly confesses, "It’s all my fault. I killed them."

Trembling with fear, she reveals their shocking story to Danial. Months earlier, the couple had spent all their savings on a yacht, full of excitement for exploring the high seas and exotic lands together. They start at the busy harbors of Malaysia and, through word of mouth, Jake and Virginie learn about a tiny, isolated island full of unspoiled beaches. When they arrive, they discover they are not the only visitors and quickly become entangled with a motley crew of expat sailors. Soon, Jake and Virginie’s adventurous dream turns into a terrifying nightmare.

Now, it’s up to Danial to determine just how much truth there is in Virginie’s alarming tale. But when his crew make a shocking discovery, he realizes that if he doesn’t act soon, they could all fall under the dark spell of the island."

I am always drawn to stories about people who have boats and set off on adventure only to have all things bad descend on them.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

George Mann Q&A

George Mann is a fantasy author whose diverse range of books are always must buys for me, seriously, just look at the picture of the bookshelf below, that's just some of my collection. I first discovered him through his Newbury and Hobbes series when I picked up a copy of The Affinity Bridge on vacation, an interesting experience I have previously recounted. So when I heard George was setting up a blog tour for his newest publishing endeavor, Motherbridge: Seeds of Change, I contacted him immediately. I had to be a part of this. We readers who have a platform need to make sure we vocally support authors we love so that they keep doing the work we hold so dear. So here's some fun and I hope thoughtful questions for George that he was kind enough to answer. AND if you need more George after this here's a Q and A from back in 2014 he did for my blog. Enough from me, over to George!

Question: If someone knows you only from some of your franchise work, be it Doctor Who, Star Wars, Warhammer 40,000, what would you tell them about yourself to get them to pick up something else you’ve written?

Answer: I guess I'd frame myself as a fantasy writer, really. In that my Newbury and Hobbes series take the form of mystery plots, but at their heart they’re Victorian fantasies, filled with weird and wonderful goings-on, the supernatural, and adventure. Likewise my other work, such as Wychwood, or Ghosts of Manhattan, or Engineward. I love to dabble in different genres, but what I always come back to is fantasy and myth. I love creating mythic stories that have their roots in folklore and superstition, or at least feel like they could have sprung from that same well.

Question: We met at TelsaCon in 2011 but we discovered we had actually attended the same David Bowie concert back in 2000. What was your favorite song that Bowie sang during that show?

It has to be 'All the Young Dudes.' Or maybe 'Absolute Beginners.' I loved that show, and the band he was touring with at the time, too. It's probably the most 'rock and roll' thing I've ever done, flying to NYC for one night, just to see David Bowie. I only had a rucksack with me and literally flew in, went to the gig, then slept at a cheap hotel. We only had time to grab breakfast and pop up to the top of the Empire State Building the next morning before flying home. What a great experience, though. I still think about that gig all the time.*

Question: You’ve done books, music, audio books, comics, now an animated series, what medium have you not done yet that you’re excited to do and could it be VR? Or do you secretly want to become a YouTube influencer with Cavan Scott and your channel Strange Matter?

Answer: Ha! I can't see myself as an influencer! I’ve not really considered VR, although never say never! I think it’d probably be live action TV. That's still very much on my bucket list. I love long form storytelling, with a tale that unfolds over several episodes, and I’d love to get my teeth into a meaty TV project.

That aside, though, there's still so much I want to do in the other mediums I'm already working in. More novels I want to write, more comics I want to co-create with great artists. And more stories I want to tell inside some of the worlds I've been lucky enough to be invited to write within, too.

Question: What can you tell us about your dark fantasy reimagining of King Arthur Blood of Camelot you’re working on with Cavan Scott?

Answer: Oh, Blood of Camelot is hugely exciting! As I mentioned earlier, I have a deep and abiding interest in folklore and mythology, as does Cav - it’s one of the reasons we’re such good friends. We wanted to do something new together, having written a number of Doctor Who comics and audios together, as well as two Sherlock Holmes audio plays for Audible.

The story is a dark reimagining of the original Arthurian myth, that sees Arthur lose his way in his effort to protect Camelot from the plague of fae creatures that are constantly attacking the borders of his realm. Believing he is the only one who can save Camelot, that in order for Camelot to survive, he himself must persist, he murders Merlin - the last of an ancient Elven race - and drinks his blood to consume his power. In the process, he becomes the thing he’s always tried to fight against - a monster. It's left to Guinevere, a knight of the Round Table, and Lancelot, to lead the resistance and try to fight back against the tide of darkness consuming the land.

Question: Animation has a very loyal fan base, despite what Netflix is doing gutting their department, is there an animated show that holds a special place in your heart?

Answer: Too many to name! As a child I used to love The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Battle of the Planets, Ulysses 31. These days I love watching anime with my kids, and we're loving things like Attack on Titan, Jujutsu Kaisen, Demon Slayer and Seraph of the End.

Question: You are a very prolific author, in the next few months alone you have Motherbridge, out now, and in July both The Albion Initiative and a Carnival Row tie-in. My question is, does this mean you know that season two of Carnival Row is coming this summer and you’ve been sworn to secrecy? OMG, have you seen it!?!

Answer: Ha ha ha! I couldn't tell you even if I knew, I'm afraid. But I will say this - I've read the scripts and you’re going to love it.

But yes, I've been busy! Some of that is to do with the spate of pandemic lockdowns that we all went through, and the fact that release dates got bumped back, and some is just because I find it hard to say no to such amazing projects. I mean - who’s going to turn down the chance to write official Carnival Row continuation comics???

Question: With the end of your long running Newbury and Hobbes series with The Albion Initiative does it feel like you’re shedding the mantel of Steampunk author or do you feel that over the years you’ve diversified enough that Steampunk is like your origin story and you’re now so much more?

Answer: That’s an interesting question. I mean, yes, The Albion Initiative is the final Newbury and Hobbes story...for now. But I don’t think I’ll ever walk away from them completely. For example, there’s an unannounced Newbury and Hobbes novella coming this year, too. And there'll be more stories in the future. Maybe not novels, though, we'll have to see.

As to shedding/taking on new mantles...I’m not sure the mantle of 'steampunk author' has ever sat that easy on my shoulders, to be honest. I’ve always seen myself as more of a fantasy writer, and the Newbury and Hobbes series very much borrowed the aesthetic of the steampunk genre, but also dipped into other loves and inspirations, such as Doctor Who, Hammer Horror, James Bond...I think the other work I’ve produced over the years has borne that out. If you look at it as a body of work, the one word I’d use to sum it all up is 'fantasy.' So I think that’s a better fit.

Not that I’ve ever had a problem being considered a steampunk author! I love playing in the genre and the people I’ve met amongst the fandom have all been so lovely and welcoming.

Question: Seeing as many of your stories are set within the same universe do you have any personal headcanon that there were Wookies long ago in the world of Newbury and Hobbes?

Answer: Heh. No. I think it’s important to keep these things separate, when you're writing in other people's worlds. I know I've dabbled before with little crossovers into one of my Doctor Who novels and some Sherlock Holmes stories, but I see those more as little Easter Eggs, harking back to some key influences, rather than trying to build a cohesive universe that embraces them all. I suppose the only thing that links them, really, is that the stories are written by me, so I suppose some of the same voice and preoccupations bleed through those different stories.

Question: While you’ve created many interesting worlds of your own, you’ve played in some very big franchise sandboxes, from Doctor Who to Star Wars. What franchise do you dream of working with?

Answer: Both Doctor Who and Star Wars are a huge amount of fun to write for, and I hope there’ll be many more opportunities to write more for them both in years to come. In terms of franchises I’d love to write for and haven't yet: Spider-Man, Batman, James Bond, Conan the Barbarian all spring to mind. All big influences from my youth too.

Question: And, this follow-up question is actually mandatory; you’ve written a lot for Doctor Who so who would you like to see as the next Doctor?

Answer: I’m SUPER excited to see Ncuti Gatwa take on the role! I think he’s going to be brilliant. Beyond that, I don’t know! I’d be a rubbish casting director! I just want great stories with an actor who’s enthusiastic to be there!**

Question: And on to an equally hard question, I know this is like picking your favorite child, but of all the characters you’ve written, do you have a favorite?

Answer: That is a super-tough question. I don't know. Maybe Ellie from the Wychwood books, because strangely she's the most autobiographical of the characters I've written. I feel a real affinity for her. But then...I do love writing stories for Newbury, too...

Question: Moving more specifically to the reason we’re here, the release of Motherbridge, what was the first comic that you remember making a lasting impact on you? And yes, it can be terrifying, like how I learned about shock treatment from a Return to Oz comic.

Answer: Since I'm in the UK, it's a slightly more difficult question to answer, because we have a tradition for funny kids' comics like The Beano, The Dandy, Buster, Whizzer and Chips and the like. Anthology comics filled with short, funny strips. They all played a big part in my early comic reading.

When I eventually discovered American comics, it was through the Marvel UK reprints of Spider-Man and Star Wars. I adored them, and the characters that were often introduced in back-up strips. Later still, I discovered imported comics and started reading Batman and Daredevil. I remember a particular issue of Daredevil that introduced Typhoid Mary and that sticks very much in my mind.

Question: What comics are automatically on your pull list?

Answer: Spider-Man and Batman. Usually Daredevil. Anything set in the Hellboy universe by Mike Mignola. Anything drawn by Humberto Ramos. Tom Taylor’s Nightwing. Cav's Star Wars: The High Republic and Shadow Service series. And then...whatever looks good, or is written by someone whose work I admire. My pull list is substantial, but it shifts around all over the place!

Question: Recently you had two covers of the Star Wars Adventures you wrote illustrated by the amazing Francesco Francavilla. Is there anyone else working in comics who you dream of working with? Get it out there in the universe and see if we can actualize it.

Answer: Yes! I’d love to have some covers created by Esad Ribic, and I’d love to work with both Phil Noto and Humberto Ramos. Oh, and JH Williams III!

Question: What was it like writing a direct to trade comic versus one released monthly?

Answer: Well that’s an interesting question in this case! Initially, we were planning to produce Motherbridge as a four-issue mini series, but when Covid hit we only had one issue written, and everything had to go on hold because the comic stores and comic distributors were all rightly closing to protect their staff. Later, when things started to stabilize and the market opened up again, we realized Motherbridge might better suit the OGN treatment rather than floppies, so I revisited the first script and then wrote the rest of it with that in mind.

For me, the main difference is that, as a writer, you can pace yourself a little differently. You don’t have to get all the reveals and hooks out as quickly in that first or second issue, because anyone who’s reading the graphic novel is in for the long haul - at least for those 80-odd pages! It’s a bit like writing a prose novel in that respect - while there are clear conventions of format and medium, you have a whole book in which to tell your story.

I need to say something about Aleta’s incredible artwork here, too. She worked so hard on this book, and it shows on every single page. I was so lucky to be able to work with her, and she’s realized Hayley and her world in a way that was exceeds anything I ever imagined.

Question: There are so many stories where nature takes over, usually post-apocalyptic, but in Motherbridge nature taking over is a positive thing, what made you want to flip the trope?

Answer: It’s very much a reaction to the world around us right now, and what's going on with the climate. Rewilding seems to be such an important part of what's needed to save the world from the intensive industries that we've developed to sustain us. I wanted to look at what a world might look like where nature had tried to balance the system for us, how a radical natural revolution could change the planet - and the sorts of reactions that different people would have. I guess it's a love letter to the Earth, in a way. We have a tendency in post-apocalyptic fiction to see nature as a wild, untamed, sinister thing as you say - I wanted to show the flipside of that, to remind us that we're part of the natural world, not aside from it.

Question: Motherbridge seems so of the moment, with climate change, immigration, walls, even separation from loved ones, which many of us suffered due to Covid, yet comics have a lengthy production time, how did you manage to capture this relevancy?

Answer: It's actually been in development for a long time, but the wind seems to have been blowing in this direction for a good while. It's obviously quite a political comic, a gut reaction to the anti-immigration policies instigated by various world governments, a reaction to the symbolism of border walls and isolationism. I guess, in some ways, Motherbridge is a bit of a scream in rage at the way our leaders seem intent on leading us down an increasingly grim path, seemingly ignoring all the important lessons of history. So it started long before Covid, and was written and drawn by the wonderful Aleta during the pandemic period. It can’t help but be informed by that.

Question: Even more startlingly relevant is this world you have created where the masculine military industrial complex and governments are forcing Mother Nature to die in order to achieve their goals. This seems like a confluence of events that you couldn’t dream up. Do you believe that with enough education, enough people reading articles, and stories like Motherbridge, that we can positively effect the world around us?

Answer: I really do, yes. I mean, Motherbridge is a comic. It's a story. It's entertainment. I have no misconception about that. It's not a political treatise and it's not going to change the world. In some ways, it's deeply personal, too - about my reaction to the world and where it's headed. But at the same time, isn't the point of a story to transmit ideas? To help create empathy for others - to allow people to see through someone else's eyes for a while? From the earliest myths, this is what we see - cautionary tales, human stories, tales that warn, tales that help us engage with the world in a different way. If just one person reading Motherbridge looks at the world outside their window and thinks a little bit more compassionately about the people out there - well, the story has done more than I could ever have dreamed of.

I think that's what I hope for. That through stories, and articles and news reports and television shows - that we can all learn to look beyond ourselves and try to understand what's going on in other people's lives, and to offer out our hands to help them, and maybe ask for help from them, too.

That all sounds very grand. This is, like I said at the start, just a comic book. But I do think that's the power of story. Not my story, in particular, but the collective stories that we tell each other and through which we share our experiences of the world.

Question: This book feels like it would be good for any age to read, especially as you present large topics in a non-condescending manner. Was your plan to educate as you entertain or was that just a welcome side effect?

Answer: I think it's a welcome side effect. I'm no expert in these things. Like I said above, this is a personal story, a personal reaction to the world. It's a fantasy. But if it makes someone think, even for a moment, then I'll be a very happy man indeed.

Question: Will there be further adventures for Hayley Wells?

Answer: Time will tell! Both me and Aleta would love to delve back into Hayley’s world and tell people what happens next. I have a plan. It'll depend on how well this first book sells, as to whether we get to do more. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed!

*Interesting fact, but of George's two choices I would chose 'Absolute Beginners' because it's the first time Bowie sang it in concert since 1987. Though my personal choice is 'Wild is the Wind' which opened the show because hearing Bowie's voice for the first time coming out of the darkness was transcendent. And yes, that is an actual picture I took of Bowie singing 'All The Young Dudes!'

**I literally sent this question to George on a Thursday and that Sunday Ncuti Gatwa was announced, and I am equally excited by the casting.

Book Review - George Mann's Motherbridge: Seeds of Change

Motherbridge: Seeds of Change by George Mann and Aleta Vidal
Published by: Dark Horse Books
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 88 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

Twenty years ago Mother Nature did what no human could, she united the world. The World Mother awoke and formed a bridge that spanned the globe, making borders irrelevant and migration anywhere a possibility. A "one-world nation, blind to creed or color, to allegiance or belief." Like so many others Hayley Wells used this miracle to create a new life for herself. She left England and settled in New York where she married and had two children. But then utopia failed. The World Mother went silent and the worldbridge began to die and governments used the opportunity to segregate. To bring the walls back. To make it us and them again. Haley was dragged from her bed in the middle of the night. It didn't matter that she was married to an American, she came into the country illegally as the government saw it and she was to be made an example of. With a gun to her head she was walked out beyond the walls and left to fend for herself. She was thrust into a wondrous and ruinous world. Where nature had reclaimed the constructs of man. She is surprised that there is far more life than she ever expected. She's a refugee and there are others. Haley walks into a confrontation. A group is attacking two individuals and it doesn't sit right with Haley. She tries to break up the fight and somehow the worldbridge stirs for her. This is against everything she has heard. Behind the wall they've been told that the worldbridge is dead, and yet somehow it responded to her. She hasn't just been exiled, she's been lied to. This makes her desire to be reunited with her family by bringing down the walls that separate them even stronger. With the help of Constanza and Doyle can they awaken the World Mother? Can Haley help her new friends survive the forces arrayed against them and return the world to the utopia it had become or will she forever be a refugee?

Despite being such a bookworm now I was a reluctant reader in grade school. Therefore I loved comics and graphic novels. Betty and Veronica, The Family Circus, and in particular Classics Illustrated Comics, which was basically CliffsNotes in an illustrated format and made me appear far more widely read than I really was at the time. As I got older and appreciated prose more I never turned my back on my first literary love. Which is why I'm a happy camper when authors whose prose work I love expand to other mediums. George has been working in comics for years and Motherbridge: Seeds of Change is another stellar addition to his copious output. What I really connected to was that I could appreciate it at the age I am now and as that young girl hiding behind the table in the far corner of the library so the librarian, Sister Marie, wouldn't yell at me for sneaking a peak at the comics. What I'm rather inexpertly saying is, that while this comic is written for adults it has such relevant topics that it could be read by young reluctant readers and would give them a book that is very of the moment but that doesn't talk down to you, like L. Frank Baum was notorious for. Because Motherbridge: Seeds of Change is bringing in some heavy topics; immigration, female rights, climate change, forced separation, the military industrial complex, and yet it never feels preachy or politicized, while still being political. It makes you open your eyes. And isn't that what reading is about? People who read are more empathetic and we need empathy now more than ever. It would also be nice if nature actually came along and "tried to balance the system for us," but I have a feeling we're going to have to do the work. But if more people read books like this, if more people connect to each other, what couldn't we do?

Friday, May 27, 2022

Book Review - Georgette Heyer's The Convenient Marriage

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer
Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: 1934
Format: Paperback, 307 Pages
Rating: ★
To Buy

The Earl of Rule has decided that he will marry. What's more he has decided to align himself with the prestigious Winwood family who have fallen on hard times due to their fatal love of gambling. The problem is that he has chosen to marry the eldest daughter Lizzie and Lizzie is desperately in love with another, Edward Heron. What's worse, Edward is a penniless soldier so Lizzie's mother will never allow her to follow her heart when their fortunes could be saved. Lizzie therefore breaks with Edward breaking her heart in the process. But her younger sister Horatia has an idea. Very improperly she approaches Lord Rule with a compromise. He should marry her instead. The reasons being that her sister Lizzie is in love with another, her sister Charlotte would never marry him, and seeing as he just wants to align himself with their family he can have her and she will let him live his life however he wants. The adorably stammering Horatia's bargain intrigues Lord Rule so he agrees to marry her, a girl barely out of the schoolroom. This sends shock waves through the ton. His sister doesn't know what Rule is about, his cousin and presumptive heir Drelincourt is very put out, and as for Rule's mistress Lady Massey, she sees her hopes and dreams shattered and takes comfort in the arms of Rule's rival Lord Lethbridge. And while Horatia's family is shocked by her behavior, her brother Pelham, returning from the continent, welcomes Rule into the family as all his debts are swept away by his generous brother-in-law. But if Rule thought he'd have an easy time with his new bride he's in for a surprise. She seems to have inherited the family's fatal flaw and now that she has access to money she is gambling it away like nobody's business. Not to mention how much she's spending on clothes and fripperies and carriages. What's wrong with spending a fortune on diamond encrusted shoes? Yes, they pinch a little, but they look fabulous. Lord Rule is very sanguine about his new wife's spendthrift ways, after all she amuses him to no end, that is until she decides to befriend Lord Lethbridge. This is a step too far. A step she takes to be daring. But could this end their marriage or bring them closer together? Only when the farce is concluded will the victor be declared.

The fatal flaw of The Convenient Marriage is that the setup just doesn't deliver. Horatia seems rather put together with making this sacrifice for her family, so it's rather shocking to discover she is nothing but a flighty flibbertigibbet with the family's fatal flaw. You start out thinking, hey, this is someone I could root for, she's clever and is going to reform a rake. She is the classic too stupid to live heroine so by the end you are actually wishing for her to be thrown over by her husband and ruined by Lethbridge. Though Lethbridge himself was an ass. In fact every single character in this book is annoying. Except perhaps Pelham's friend Pommeroy, but he is amusing because he's an idiot and says the most shockingly stupid things. And all these characters and their farcical situations just can't make you care one little bit. They're staging fake attacks by highwaymen as what they see as a logical attempt to get back incriminating evidence. What!?! I mean, seriously, why am I supposed to find this interesting. I literally could barely finish this book. What's odd is that Georgette Heyer does go in for the farcical and can succeed, Devil's Cub being an example of something being so far over the top it somehow works. But there at least you could root for Sophie, here, literally there is no one to root for. Even Lord Rule is a rather removed rake. He is like this disinterested observer to his own life. If he can't even be bothered to take an interest why should we? What's more, with Lord Lethbridge and Lady Massey it seemed as if Heyer was going to bring a little Les Liaisons Dangereuses action to the scene, she was actually setting it up, and then, what, got bored? Because that doesn't even deliver. The Massey goes off to Bath and Lethbridge kind of just folds. Nothing follows through, it's all just a chatoic mess of characters I don't care for. I honestly didn't even know what to write for this review. The book is a nonentity. The Convenient Marriage can just got slink off to wherever it came from and never darker my door again. Because it did darken it. When I'm reading a book I don't like I get grumpy. And boy did this book make me grumpy. Not to the level of wanting to watch it burn, but close.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Book Review - Georgette Heyer's A Civil Contract

A Civil Contact by Georgette Heyer
Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: 1961
Format: Paperback, 422 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy

Adam Deveril was never meant to be Viscount Lynton. That was for his father and his older brother. But his brother has been gone these many years and now his father has had a riding accident and is likewise gone before his time. Adam was happy with his regiment and now he's had to sell up and come home. Little did he know that his father had so encumbered the estate with mortgages and debts. The only way he can see a way through it is to sell his family's beloved home, Fontley. Everyone, even he, abhors this idea, but what else is he to do? His younger sister Lydia vows to marry an elderly wealthy man, preferably with not long to live, but seeing as she's not yet out this seems an impractical plan. But Adam's solicitor thinks Lydia's idea is splendid, for Adam. Adam can not stomach the idea, mainly because he is madly in love with Julia Oversley. He knows he has to cry off their engagement, but marrying another in her place he will never accept. Julia doesn't handle the news well, claiming that she could survive on love alone. Adam and Julia's father both know this is piffle. In fact, once Julia has been dealt with, it's her father that helps Adam with his finances by introducing him to Mr. Chawleigh. Mr. Chawleigh's daughter Jenny was at school with Julia and so the two men have gotten to know each other. In fact Mr. Chawleigh has helped Lord Oversley a time or two with monetary issues. Mr. Chawleigh is a Cit with aspirations. He has none for himself, they are all for his daughter, which is why she attended school with the daughters of lords. Therefore he has been on the lookout for the right husband for his daughter and he thinks that Adam will do. Adam, realizing the perilous situation he is in agrees to meet Jenny and realizes that Jenny will do very nicely. He knows now he will never love again after Julia, but Jenny is a sensible girl. She will make a very capable wife and her father will make all his money problems disappear. Sure, there are some growing pains as the two families become one, but that was to be expected. The real question is, can Adam learn to love again, in a different, more mature way?

I've never really given much thought to the comparisons between Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. I just assumed that it was because Heyer wrote books set during the Regency and would name check Austen that a connection was made and never questioned. The Sourcebooks reissues seem to all feature a pull quote from Publishers Weekly that declaims that "[r]eading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen." But I have to say, I finally get it. For once I agree with you Publishers Weekly! Everything finally clicked and I see the connection. Heyer, like Austen, revels in the quirky side characters. I would in fact go so far as to say that these are what make the works of both authors memorable. The older I get the less I am drawn to Austen's heroes and heroines and the more I am drawn to the comic stylings of Sir John Middleton or Mr. Collins or Miss Bates. These very human and very humorous characters make the books shine. The same can be said for Heyer. In all the books of hers I've read I've found one or both of the leads rather annoying and tedious, yet the second all the side characters start popping out of the woodwork, and especially once large family gatherings start happening, I'm a happy camper. And if it wasn't for Mr. Chawleigh, even if he is a tad more Dickensian then Austenesque, this book would have been a no go for me. He is viewed by Adam as vulgar and ostentatious with odious taste in decor, but Adam is an ass and a hypocrite, so his opinion doesn't mater. What matters is that Mr. Chawleigh does everything with love in his heart. Sure, his gestures are usually too big and too grand, but he really, deep down, is asking nothing for himself, and just wants those he loves to be happy. Thankfully Adam was at least somewhat redeemed by the fact he was unwilling to cuckquean Jenny with Julia. And the less said about Julia the better. She and Adam are the weakest characters in A Civil Contract and when for the denouement the narrative is shouldered by Adam the book went down a full star. Is it too late for Mr. Chawleigh to get a spinoff series? Anything but more Wellington and Waterloo!

Monday, May 23, 2022

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
Published by: Voyager
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 672 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"'Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that's all'

1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells - spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.

In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.

But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

Brimming with romance, betrayal, and enchantment, The Embroidered Book reimagines a dazzling period of history as you have never seen it before."

Historical fiction with magic, there is nothing more my jam than this.

Paint with Thread by Emillie Ferris
Published by: David and Charles
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 128 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Slow down and embroider your way through the changing seasons with the beautiful debut book from embroidery artist and rising star Emillie Ferris.

Needlepainting, also known as thread painting or silk shading, is a form of embroidery that creates a realistic, lifelike effect using a single strand of thread and one simple stitch - the 'long and short' stitch. You can create gorgeous colour gradients, magical details and flowing stitch directions that are perfect if you want to embroider flora and fauna.

In this richly illustrated step-by-step guide, self-taught embroidery artist Emillie Ferris shows you how to pick up a needle and thread in the same way as a paintbrush to create strokes of colour and bring images to life on fabric.

Inspired by nature and the changing seasons, Emillie has created five new and exclusive patterns for the book, four that reflect each season in turn and one special design that brings the natural year together into one showstopper embroidery.

This book is the culmination of all of Emillie's skills and years of experience in this wonderful, meditative art form. Each design has around 60 detailed step-by-step photos, showing every stage of the process, so that even complete beginners can follow along and create beautiful embroideries. If you have been considering learning the art of needlepainting but are unsure where to start, then this book is for you

Not only are the embroideries sublime, but the book itself is a thing of beauty, with incredible attention to detail - from the exquisite photography to the lavish hardback binding, making it a real treasure for the book lover. Plus, high quality iron-on transfers at the back of the book allow you to transfer the designs directly onto fabric to get started straight away.

In this book Emillie generously shares her tried and tested tips and techniques, including advice on materials, transferring designs onto fabric, and fully illustrated explanations of the stitches and skills needed. The five in-depth projects draw on Emillie's love of nature, including motifs that she is best known for such as flowers, foliage, bees and fungi.

This beautiful book will become an indispensable and treasured guide allowing you to paint with thread the Emillie Ferris way."

I've been wanting to learn more embroidery beyond cross-stitch, and this here is my answer.

A Country Escape by Katie Fforde
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Format: Kindle, 318 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An utterly gorgeous and escapist rural romance, set on a perfectly-imperfect small farm in the beautiful English Cotswolds, that fans of Robyn Carr, Carolyn Brown and Susan Mallery will fall in love with.

When Fran Duke was a little girl, she dreamt that one day she’d get to move to a beautiful farm, keeping animals and living the rural dream. Now it looks like her dream might come true...

Because her Aunt Amy, who Fran has never even met, has made her an offer she can’t refuse. Fran can live on her dairy farm for a year rent-free and, if she is able to turn the farm’s fortunes around - and keep it out of the hands of the dastardly neighbor Antony Arlingham - she gets to stay and live there forever.

Fran feels excited for the challenge. Right up until the moment she walks up the muddy path to the tumbledown little farm and realises it’s in a state of total disrepair. Not only that, but she’s more than a little scared of the cows themselves. But, rolling up her sleeves, she thinks it’s nothing that she can’t overcome.

But then she crosses paths with Antony... And as she takes in the tall, dark, handsome stranger with eyes that seem to flicker with gold, she knows she’s in trouble. Has she found herself a country escape, or will she end up running away?"

I love that Katie Fforde's books are getting well priced Kindle releases in the US. It used to be so hard to get her books stateside!

Desperately Seeking a Duchess by Christi Caldwell
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"What happens when an impoverished duke with a reputation for being a rogue collides with a strong-willed heiress who wants to explore the world? An unlikely friendship...and unexpected passion.

Cailin Audley doesn’t fit in with Polite Society. A life spent among the working class taught her to value her independence in a way no newfound fortune or glittering ballroom could ever erase. When a major misstep sees the new heiress whisked away to the English countryside, Cailin soon realizes the vexing lengths her family will go to see her settled. But having risked her heart once before, Cailin has no interest in the men of the ton - especially not the frustratingly charming Duke of St. James.

Courtland Balfour, the Duke of St. James, devoted brother and notorious rogue, despises what he must become - a fortune hunter. But with the ducal coffers drained by his late, spendthrift of a father, Courtland knows his duty lies at the altar and he will do anything to ensure a future for his siblings. Just his luck that the one lady who could make this new fate bearable, who enflames him like no other, is the one woman who wants nothing to do with him or his title.

But when an act of desperation inadvertently lands he and Cailin at the heart of another scandal, Courtland knows better than to waste his chance. Surely he can convince Cailin to love him?"

Mmm, yes, more time with the Ton!

Oswald the Thief by Jeri Westerson
Published by: Old London Press
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Format: Kindle
To Buy

The official patter:
"London, 1308. "All I need is a Plan!" So says Oswald of Harlech, a misplaced Welshman in the heart of London. Besides his trade as a tinker, he also robs houses, cuts purses, plays a crooked shell game, and has a way with the ladies. But this time, caught in the act of robbing a house, he is blackmailed by the scheming Keeper of the King’s Wardrobe into stealing the Crown Jewels from the impenetrable Tower of London. Gathering his gang of friends - his half-wit companion who is uncannily adept at picking locks, his greedy landlord, a mad alchemist, a desperate but beautiful alehouse owner, and a man-of-few-words blacksmith - Oswald must steal the jewels, avoid the gallows, skirt some unscrupulous moneylenders, get the girl, and escape the sheriffs’ clutches, all with sly wit and good humor. It’s Ocean’s 11 in the Middle Ages!"

This sounds very goofy and the cover is very A Knight's Tale... Therefore I'm in!

Enola Holmes: The Graphic Novels Book One by Serena Blasco
Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 192 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A graphic novel adaptation of the hit books that inspired the Netflix film! Sherlock Holmes' brilliant, strong-willed younger sister takes center stage in this delightfully drawn graphic novel based on Nancy Springer’s bestselling mystery series.

14-year-old Enola Holmes wakes on her birthday to discover that her mother has disappeared from the family's country manor, leaving only a collection of flowers and a coded message book. With Sherlock and Mycroft determined to ship her off to a boarding school, Enola escapes, displaying a cleverness that even impresses the elder Holmes. But nothing prepares her for what lies ahead...

Book One in the series includes three thrilling mysteries: The Case of the Missing Marquess, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, and The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets. At the back of the book, readers can explore a portfolio of pages from Enola's secret notebook!"

I love the Enola Holmes books and I think this is a wonderful adaptation, particularly for reluctant readers!

Midnight Dunes by Laura Griffin
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"When the shocking discovery of a murdered woman’s body disturbs the tranquility of tourist season, the police detective in charge of the puzzling case must work alongside the new filmmaker in town to pursue every lead in the new romantic thriller from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.

After a scandal derails her television reporting career, Macey Burns comes looking for a change of pace in Lost Beach, Texas. She’s ready to focus on her first passion - documentary filmmaking - and has a new job working for the island’s tourism board, shooting footage of the idyllic beachside community. Her plans for a relaxing rebound are dashed when she realizes the cottage she’s renting belonged to the woman whose body was just found in the sand dunes.

Detective Owen Breda is under intense pressure to solve this murder. Violent crimes are rising in his small town, and he can’t stand to see anyone else hurt...especially not the beautiful documentarian who keeps showing up at the precinct.

With the clock ticking, cameras rolling, and body count climbing, Macey and Owen must use all their resources to find the killer without getting caught in the crosshairs."

Love and murder in Texas!

Hide by Kiersten White
Published by: Voyager
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A high-stakes hide-and-seek competition turns deadly in this dark supernatural thriller from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

The challenge: Spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.

The prize: enough money to change everything.

Even though everyone is desperate to win - to seize a dream future or escape a haunting past - Mack is sure she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she’s an expert at that.

It’s the reason she’s alive and her family isn’t.

But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes that this competition is even more sinister than she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.

Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide but nowhere to run.

Come out, come out, wherever you are."

Sold at "abandoned amusement park."

Friday, May 20, 2022

Book Review - Lauren Willig's The Betrayal of the Blood Lily

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 401 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Lady Frederick Staines. Penelope will probably never get used to the name or the fact that her identity has been subsumed into that of her husband. What a joke, Freddy, her husband. She's nothing more to him than a bed warmer while her dowery has been his ante into innumerable card games. To make matters worse they have been exiled to India to take the taint off their rather precipitous union. They are five months journey away from the world they knew. What is Penelope going to do in India while Freddy is off playing at politics? What is to become of this person she has become? Who is going to shake their head at her worryingly and sigh "Oh Pen?" That's where Captain Alex Reid enters in. He is the couple's escort to Hyderabad. He is to get Lady Frederick Staines and spouse safely to the residency. A grueling journey by land and sea. Of course it would be easier if Penelope would just behave as a British woman recently arrived in India would. If she'd not show off her fine seat on a horse or her ability to jump into a river to save a drowning man. If she'd just sit in the palanquin and sleep through the heat of the day that would be great. But freed of the strictures of the ton, well, Penelope has to have an outlet for her sheer frustration of the situation she landed herself in. Because it was no one's fault but her own. She was the one who told Freddy to come hither. She got herself sent off to the subcontinent. But if there's one slight silver lining, it's Alex. While he worries about Penelope, he's never pitied her. He's amazed by this proud woman he's met. A woman that is giving him feelings that he shouldn't be having about someone who is married, even if it's clear it's not a happy union. But their personal struggles coming to grips with their romantic feelings will have to take a back seat when some spies with flowery sobriquets appear on the scene. If only Pen had listened to Henrietta and Charlotte rambling on about spies instead of luring Freddy into every available alcove maybe she'd have some idea as to what she is up against. Instead she's just trying to piece it all together on the fly with what she half remembers and what she and Alex are able to figure out. A cobra in her bedchamber isn't just a warning, it's a sign they are on the right track. But will they all make it out of India alive?

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily is a turning point in the Pink Carnation series. Before it was rather more contained, more of the drawing room spies and keeping up with the ton. Now we see the full scope of the ambitions of the French and the world stage it happened on and our flowery spies are right there on the subcontinent. This is Pink Carnation grownup, and we get a far more grownup heroine. I really enjoy Penelope as a heroine, she's a hot mess and doesn't have anything figured out, let alone the path she has flung herself onto. With her starting out the book already married to a man she doesn't love we are in a far different position than Lauren's previous novels. Instead of an innocent happy virginal character, we have someone a little flirty, a little more worldly, a little bitter, and very much taken. And I am here for that! As for her romantic partner, Alex, oh, do I love them together. Alex is a good upstanding man with many a family woe, but with morals and a fierce loyalty to India and eventually to Penelope. Their dialogue crackles and sparkles and just keeps the pages turning late into the night. But what I found interesting while discussing this book during Lauren's Pink Carnation Read Along is that many people took issue with the adultery angle of this book. Firstly, it's just a book, secondly, Freddy is scum in a pretty package, and thirdly, Alex and Pen are endgame! To whomever commented that in a few years Penelope's eye would wander again and leave Alex, NO! That's not how these books work, this is literally the only time adultery is acceptable; when it's fictional and you're cheating on a lout who cheated first. Many, many, MANY times. Also, let's not forget he was involved in raping a fourteen year old girl! I really was shocked that so many people took Pen's adultery to heart. Plus, it's not like Alex and Penelope go into their affair with their eyes closed. Their eyes are fully open. And again, this is FICTIONAL! But I get it, Lauren is so good at writing that you truly forget these characters are fictional. Her characters are fully rounded people, not just "spunky" heroines because that's in vogue, but because of everything that has happened to them, everything that has led to this moment. Nothing happens without a purpose. Even the villain is fully rounded! And if anyone is blind to consequences... well, look to the Marigold!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Book Review - Lisa Kleypas's Scandal in Spring

Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Published by: Avon
Publication Date: July 25th, 2006
Format: Paperback, 374 Pages
Rating: ★
To Buy

Daisy Bowman has been told a harsh truth. Her father has said that she is no better than a parasite. She sponges off her family and after three seasons she has yet to secure the desired match her mother so wants. Therefore if she doesn't find a match by the end of the season she is to marry Matthew Swift. Matthew is her father's right hand man and his "true" son. Matthew is everything her father ever wanted her brothers to be. Matthew will inherit the company if he marries Daisy. Therefore Daisy is sure Matthew is behind this scheme. That scrawny little scarecrow who was always at the table when they were having family dinners has found a way to worm his way permanently into the Bowman family. He is the worst attributes of Daisy's father and the last person she would ever marry. Therefore when the family decamps to Stony Cross Park for Lillian's confinement, both Daisy and her sister are outraged that their father has invited Matthew Swift along. He's come over from America to help set up the new Bowman soap factory in Bristol. At least Lillian's husband Marcus knows his wife's feelings on Daisy's enforced marriage and has therefore stocked the house with lots of eligible young men so that Daisy can make a match to anyone she wishes. Though Daisy isn't leaving everything up to fate and goes out to the wishing well which has served her fellow wallflowers so well and makes a wish. At that moment a man appears. He's gorgeous, tall, and broad like Annabelle's husband. Daisy is shocked to find out that this is scrawny Matthew Swift. He sure has changed over the years. But the fact that he is physically attractive doesn't change the fact that he is the last person she'd marry, despite what her body is saying. Rather loudly. But as the wallflowers and Marcus get to know Matthew it becomes apparent that he is not who the Bowman sisters think he is and he had no knowledge of Mr. Bowman's plans for him and Daisy. Luckily for Matthew, who has been pining for Daisy since the first time he saw her, she is starting to realize she might have been wrong. But Matthew has a secret in his past that could ruin all their chances of happiness. He will not marry Daisy. He will not be the one to destroy her life. But what if not marrying her destroys her life?

Any true reader knows of the phenomena of "last great book I read." You read a book that's so amazing that any other book you pick up next will just be subpar because you've just had a magical experience and there's no way any other book could possibly be that good ever again. This is what happened to me with Scandal in Spring. It was coupled with another problem, which was that Devil in Winter, the previous volume in this series, was the "last great book I read" a few weeks earlier. It's almost like I set myself up to dislike Scandal in Spring without meaning to. But I do think this book has issues in regard to the series as a whole. The reason Devil in Winter was so good was because it had broken the mold established in the previous two volumes of getting all the characters to Stony Cross Park and then watching the reluctant matchmaking begin. Here we return to the previous pattern and not for the better. It just felt like the same story happening to a different character. And characters that were so bland as to be forgettable. Daisy and Lillian Bowman were always said to be a little wild, but here Daisy is one dimensional and Lillian was a bitch. Before Lillian was just stubborn and sweary, which I could relate to, here she's actually hostile. You'd think in a book seen from her sister's POV that she would be nice, as Daisy loves her more than anyone else in the world baring Marcus, but no. I could blame it on the pregnancy, but that would be cruel to any pregnant women. Therefore she was just a bitch. As for Matthew Swift? He felt like a stock character. He's been pining over Daisy for years but she sees him anew because he's now hot. And that is basically his personality, hot with a penknife in his pocket. Oh, and occasionally he does something that Colin Firth did in Pride and Prejudice, but that just makes you want Colin Firth more and Matthew Swift less. This led to a lackluster romance and even the sex scenes were uninspired, feeling almost elliptical in their telling. Plus, could Daisy do anything other than pant and squirm under him? Ugh. This "final" volume in the Wallflowers series felt like Lisa Kleypas had run out of ideas and was just phoning it in. If it wasn't for my enjoyment of the previous volumes I'd never read another book by her ever again.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Lost Summers of Newport by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the New York Times bestselling team of Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White - a novel of money and secrets set among the famous summer mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, spanning over a century from the Gilded Age to the present day.

2019: Andie Figuero has just landed her dream job as a producer of Mansion Makeover, a popular reality show about restoring America’s most lavish historic houses. Andie has high hopes for her latest project: the once glorious but gently crumbling Sprague Hall in Newport, Rhode Island, summer resort of America’s gilded class - famous for the lavish "summer cottages" of Vanderbilts and Belmonts. But Andie runs into trouble: the reclusive heiress who still lives in the mansion, Lucia “Lucky” Sprague, will only allow the show to go forward on two conditions: One, nobody speaks to her. Two, nobody touches the mansion’s ruined boathouse.

1899: Ellen Daniels has been hired to give singing lessons to Miss Maybelle Sprague, a naive young Colorado mining heiress whose stepbrother John has poured their new money into buying a place among Newport’s elite. John is determined to see Maybelle married off to a fortune-hunting Italian prince, and Ellen is supposed to polish up the girl for her launch into society. But the deceptively demure Ellen has her own checkered past, and she’s hiding in plain sight at Sprague Hall.

1958: Lucia "Lucky" Sprague has always felt like an outsider at Sprague Hall. When she and her grandmother - the American-born Princess di Conti - fled Mussolini’s Italy, it seemed natural to go back to the imposing Newport house Nana owned but hadn’t seen since her marriage in 1899. Over the years, Lucky's lost her Italian accent and found a place for herself among the yachting set by marrying Stuyvesant Sprague, the alcoholic scion of her Sprague stepfamily. But one fateful night in the mansion’s old boathouse will uncover a devastating truth...and change everything she thought she knew about her past.

As the cameras roll on Mansion Makeover, the house begins to yield up the dark secrets the Spragues thought would stay hidden forever...."

For me this is THE BOOK I've been waiting for this spring. What's more I couldn't possibly forget it's release date because it's my brother's birthday. I hope you have your copy preordered, I know I do!

Who Killed Jane Stanford? by Richard White
Published by: W. W. Norton and Company
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A premier historian penetrates the fog of corruption and cover-up still surrounding the murder of a Stanford University founder to establish who did it, how, and why.

In 1885 Jane and Leland Stanford cofounded a university to honor their recently deceased young son. After her husband’s death in 1893, Jane Stanford, a devoted spiritualist who expected the university to inculcate her values, steered Stanford into eccentricity and public controversy for more than a decade. In 1905 she was murdered in Hawaii, a victim, according to the Honolulu coroner’s jury, of strychnine poisoning. With her vast fortune the university’s lifeline, the Stanford president and his allies quickly sought to foreclose challenges to her bequests by constructing a story of death by natural causes. The cover-up gained traction in the murky labyrinths of power, wealth, and corruption of Gilded Age San Francisco. The murderer walked.

Deftly sifting the scattered evidence and conflicting stories of suspects and witnesses, Richard White gives us the first full account of Jane Stanford’s murder and its cover-up. Against a backdrop of the city’s machine politics, rogue policing, tong wars, and heated newspaper rivalries, White’s search for the murderer draws us into Jane Stanford’s imperious household and the academic enmities of the university. Although Stanford officials claimed that no one could have wanted to murder Jane, we meet several people who had the motives and the opportunity to do so. One of these, we discover, also had the means."

The Gilded Age is going on right now and I am SO HERE for it's moment!

The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions by Kerry Greenwood
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The elegant Miss Phryne Fisher returns in this scintillating collection, featuring four new stories.

The Honourable Phryne Fisher - she of the Lulu bob, cupid's bow lips, diamante garters, and pearl-handled pistol - is the 1920s' most elegant and irrepressible sleuth.

Miss Phryne Fisher is up to her stunning green eyes in intriguing crime in each of these entertaining, fun, and compulsively readable stories. Whether sniffing out the whereabouts of a priceless pilfered book, an heirloom locket, or a missing eight-year-old girl, Miss Fisher proves herself more than equal to the task - and always fashionably attired. With the ever-loyal Dot, the ingenious Mr. Butler, and all of Phryne's friends and household, the action is as fast as Phryne's wit and logic."

Yes, I know, I'm not the biggest fan of short stories, but a counter with Miss Fisher!

Uncommon Charm by Emily Bergslien and Kat Weaver
Published by: Neon Hemlock Press
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 94 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Three days after I was expelled from the Marable School for Girls, our poor Simon arrived.

In the 1920s gothic comedy Uncommon Charm, bright young socialite Julia and shy Jewish magician Simon decide they aren't beholden to their families' unhappy history. Together they confront such horrors as murdered ghosts, alive children, magic philosophy, a milieu that slides far too easily into surrealist metaphor, and, worst of all, serious adult conversation.

Part of Neon Hemlock's 2022 Novella Series."

I am in love with everything about this novella!

Razzmatazz by Christopher Moore
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Repeat New York Times bestselling author Christopher Moore returns to the mean streets of San Francisco in this outrageous follow-up to his madcap novel Noir.

San Francisco, 1947. Bartender Sammy "Two Toes" Tiffin and the rest of the Cookie's Coffee Irregulars - a ragtag bunch of working mugs last seen in Noir - are on the hustle: they're trying to open a driving school; shanghai an abusive Swedish stevedore; get Mable, the local madam, and her girls to a Christmas party at the State Hospital without alerting the overzealous head of the S.F.P.D. vice squad; all while Sammy's girlfriend, Stilton (a.k.a. the Cheese), and her "Wendy the Welder" gal pals are using their wartime shipbuilding skills on a secret project that might be attracting the attention of some government Men in Black. And, oh yeah, someone is murdering the city’s drag kings and club owner Jimmy Vasco is sure she’s next on the list and wants Sammy to find the killer.

Meanwhile, Eddie "Moo Shoes" Shu has been summoned by his Uncle Ho to help save his opium den from Squid Kid Tang, a vicious gangster who is determined to retrieve a priceless relic: an ancient statue of the powerful Rain Dragon that Ho stole from one of the fighting tongs forty years earlier. And if Eddie blows it, he just might call down the wrath of that powerful magical creature on all of Fog City.

Strap yourselves in for a bit of the old razzmatazz, ladies and gentlemen. It’s Christopher Moore time."

Christopher Moore and San Francisco, does more need to be said?

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Opposites attract in this wickedly charming rom-com by Lana Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Payback’s a Witch.

Wild child Isidora Avramov is a thrill chaser, adept demon summoner, and - despite the whole sexy-evil-sorceress vibe - also a cuddly animal lover. When she’s not designing costumes and new storylines for the Arcane Emporium’s haunted house, Issa's nursing a secret, conflicted dream of ditching her family’s witchy business to become an indie fashion designer in her own right.

But when someone starts sabotaging the celebrations leading up to this year's Beltane festival with dark, dangerous magic, a member of the rival Thorn family gets badly hurt - throwing immediate suspicion on the Avramovs. To clear the Avramov name and step up for her family when they need her the most, Issa agrees to serve as a co-investigator, helping none other than Rowan Thorn get to the bottom of things.

Rowan is the very definition of lawful good, so tragically noble and by-the-book he makes Issa’s teeth hurt. In accordance with their families’ complicated history, he and Issa have been archenemies for years and have grown to heartily loathe each other. But as the unlikely duo follow a perplexing trail of clues to a stunning conclusion, Issa and Rowan discover how little they really know each other...and stumble upon a maddening attraction that becomes harder to ignore by the day."

I am here for ALL the witchy rom-coms!

On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass
Published by: Graydon House
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The perfect neighborhood can be the perfect place to hide...

Who wouldn't want to live in Brighton Hills? This exclusive community on the Oregon coast is the perfect mix of luxury and natural beauty. Stunning houses nestle beneath mighty Douglas firs, and lush backyards roll down to the lakefront. It's the kind of place where neighbors look out for one another. Sometimes a little too closely...

Cora thinks her husband, Finn, is cheating - she just needs to catch him in the act. That's where Paige comes in. Paige lost her son to a hit-and-run last year, and she's drowning in the kind of grief that makes people do reckless things like spying on the locals, searching for proof that her son's death was no accident...and agreeing to Cora's plan to reveal what kind of man Finn really is. All the while, their reclusive new neighbor, Georgia, is acting more strangely every day. But what could such a lovely young mother possibly be hiding?

When you really start to look beyond the airy open floor plans and marble counters, Brighton Hills is filled with secrets. Some big, some little, some deadly. And one by one, they're about to be revealed..."

You KNOW you need to know the secrets of Brighton Hills!

Wild Prey by Brian Klingborg
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The search for a missing girl sends Inspector Lu Fei undercover into the wild corners of Myanmar, and the compound of the deadly and mysterious woman warlord responsible for the illegal trafficking of exotic animals and possibly more, in the next book from Brian Klingborg, Wild Prey.

Police Inspector Lu Fei has an unfortunate talent for getting himself into hot water with powerful and well-connected people. Which is why he’s been assigned to a backwater town in a rural area of Northern China and quietly warned to keep his head down. But while running a sting operation on the sale and consumption of rare and endangered animals, Lu comes across the curious case of a waitress who has gone missing. Her last known whereabouts: a restaurant frequented by local elites, owned by smooth-talking gangster, and known for its exotic - and highly illegal - delicacies.

As usual, Lu's investigation ruffles some feathers, resulting in his suspension from the police force. Lu figures he's reached a dead-end. Then he's contacted by a mysterious government official in Beijing who wants him to go undercover to track down the mastermind behind an illegal animal trafficking network - and hopefully, the answer to the fate of the missing waitress. The mission will require Lu to travel deep into the lawless wilds of Myanmar, where he will risk his life to infiltrate the hidden compound of a mysterious and ruthless female warlord in a bloody and nearly hopeless quest for justice."

Ever since I saw the movie The Freshman I've been obsessed with the illegal trafficking of exotic animals for consumption.

The Emma Project by Sonali Dev
Published by: Avon
Publication Date: May 17th, 2022
Format: Paperback, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Emma gets a fresh Indian-American twist from award-winning author Sonali Dev in her heartwarmingly irresistible Jane Austen inspired rom com series.

No one can call Vansh Raje’s life anything but charmed. Handsome - Vogue has declared him California’s hottest single - and rich enough to spend all his time on missions to make the world a better place. Add to that a doting family and a contagiously sunny disposition and Vansh has made it halfway through his twenties without ever facing anything to throw him off his admittedly spectacular game.

A couple years from turning forty, Knightlina (Naina) Kohli has just gotten out of a ten-year-long fake relationship with Vansh’s brother and wants only one thing from her life…fine, two things. One, to have nothing to do with the unfairly blessed Raje family ever again. Two, to bring economic independence to millions of women in South Asia through her microfinance foundation and prove her father wrong about, well, everything.

Just when Naina’s dream is about to come to fruition, Vansh Raje shows up with his misguided Emma Project... And suddenly she’s fighting him for funding and wondering if a friends-with-benefits arrangement that’s as toe-curlingly hot as it is fun is worth risking her life’s work for."

If there's one Austen open to reinterpretations I view it is Emma. And if there's one author great at reinterpretations that is Sonali Dev.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home