Monday, November 23, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Masterpiece: America's 50-Year-Old Love Affair with British Television Drama by Nancy West
Published by: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
Publication Date: November 24th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 264 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"On a wintry night in 1971, Masterpiece Theatre debuted on PBS. Fifty years later, America's appetite for British drama has never been bigger. The classic television program has brought its fans protagonists such as The Dowager Countess and Ross Poldark and series that include Downton Abbey and Prime Suspect. In Masterpiece: America's 50-Year-Old Love Affair with British Television Drama, Nancy West provides a fascinating history of the acclaimed program. West combines excerpts from original interviews, thoughtful commentary, and lush photography to deliver a deep exploration of the television drama. Vibrant stories and anecdotes about Masterpiece's most colorful shows are peppered throughout, such as why Benedict Cumberbatch hates Downton Abbey and how screenwriter Daisy Goodwin created a teenage portrait of Queen Victoria after fighting with her daughter about homework. Featuring an array of color photos from Masterpiece's best-loved dramas, this book offers a penetrating look into the program's influence on television, publishing, fashion, and its millions of fans."

Wait, why does Benedict Cumberbatch hate Downton Abbey!?! I NEED to know! 

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory
Published by: Atria Books
Publication Date: November 24th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"#1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory’s new historical novel tracks the rise of the Tidelands family in London, Venice, and New England.

Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse's poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy - his son and heir.

The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon.

Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows - without doubt - that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter.

Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home."

I'm always here for a new Philippa Gregory book, but start it on Midsummer's Eve and it's a must read no matter the author! Unless it's the play Miss Julie.

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 24th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 192 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Return to the captivating world of Elfhame with this illustrated addition to the New York Times bestselling The Folk of Air trilogy that began with The Cruel Prince, from award-winning author Holly Black.

Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue.

Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone. #1 New York Times bestselling author, Holly Black reveals a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame's enigmatic high king, Cardan. This tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan's perspective.

This new installment in The Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humor, and drama that enchanted readers everywhere. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-color art, making this the perfect collector's item to be enjoyed by both new audiences and old."

I love ancillary books! 

Read Player Two by Ernest Cline
Published by: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: November 24th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The highly anticipated sequel to the beloved worldwide bestseller Ready Player One, the near-future adventure that inspired the blockbuster Steven Spielberg film.

AN UNEXPECTED QUEST. TWO WORLDS AT STAKE. ARE YOU READY?

Days after winning OASIS founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything.

Hidden within Halliday’s vaults, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the OASIS a thousand times more wondrous - and addictive - than even Wade dreamed possible.

With it comes a new riddle, and a new quest - a last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize.

And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who’ll kill millions to get what he wants.

Wade’s life and the future of the OASIS are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.

Lovingly nostalgic and wildly original as only Ernest Cline could conceive it, Ready Player Two takes us on another imaginative, fun, action-packed adventure through his beloved virtual universe, and jolts us thrillingly into the future once again."

"The highly anticipated sequel" is it though? Also I hate Joust. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Book Review - Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Published by: Everyman's Library
Publication Date: 1908
Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages
To Buy

The Wind in the Willows has always been odd to me. There's a disconnect between the animals being occasionally very animal like and then occasionally being anthropomorphic with Toad and his car. Unlike many of my mother's other favorite books she never read The Wind in the Willows to me, just bought me a lovely slipcased edition and expected me to read it on my own, which I don't think I did until I was in my twenties. Therefore I think I was too old to gloss over the more annoying characteristics of Toad and suspend disbelief. The result of this is I have been drawn to the art more than to the story, something that helped enable my mom's love of buying beautiful editions of all her favorite books. There's our edition illustrated by Michael Hague, a little cartoonish but nice, the newer Robert Ingpen edition, the anniversary Ernest H. Shephard edition, cohort of A.A. Milne, my slipcased edition illustrated by Inga Moore, Everyman's Library's Arthur Rackham edition, and favorite of all, the Charles van Sandwyk edition. Charles van Sandwyk is a Canadian artist whom everyone should know. He has the technique of Rackham but there's more richness and humor than Rackham was ever able to capture. Sadly this edition during various moves has been misplaced. So the least we can do to honor my mother is buy myself, buy yourself, this edition and try to suspend disbelief and go along for a ride with Mr. Toad.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Book Review - Laura Ingalls Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1937
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

If you're a girl from Wisconsin there is one given, and that's you're a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It's in our DNA. It was sure in my DNA. I don't know if I remember a time before I knew about Laura and her family up in Pepin but that's all down to my mom. She didn't just love the stories she loved the illustrations. Garth Williams will forever be a favorite illustrator of our family inculcated from some of my very first picture books to my earliest chapter books; Three Bedtime Stories, Bedtime for Frances, Little Fur Family, The Cricket in Times Square, and of course, Charlotte's Web. But back to Laura. I think growing up on a dairy farm in Lone Rock made my mom see a lot of herself in Laura. But interestingly enough my mom's favorite book in the series wasn't when Laura and her family lived a typical pioneer life but when they lived an atypical one in a sod house on the banks of a creek. My mom would talk rapturously about living in this little hideaway made of dirt and grass. She loved the story about when Garth Williams was researching his illustrations for the reissue of the books that he went to Minnesota and found the indentation of where their house was. I think this was my mom's favorite in the series because it appeals to the very heart of what it is to be a child, making a home out of the nature around you and living a carefree life. Of course the life Laura lived in this book was far from carefree, but that house does spark in the imagination something primal, something fantastical, something straight out of childhood daydreams.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Hot to Trot by M.C. Beaton
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Beloved New York Times bestseller M. C. Beaton's cranky, crafty Agatha Raisin - now the star of a hit T.V. show - is back on the case again in Hot to Trot.

When Private Detective Agatha Raisin learns that her friend and one-time lover Charles Fraith is to be married to a mysterious socialite, Miss Mary Brown-Field, she sees it as her duty to find out what she can about the woman. Coming up empty, Agatha - out of selfless concern for Charles, of course - does the only sensible thing she can think of: she crashes their wedding, which ends in a public altercation. Nursing a hangover the next morning, she gets a phone call from Charles, with even more disturbing news: Mary has been murdered.

Agatha takes on the case, and quickly becomes entrenched in the competitive equestrian world, in which Mary had been enmeshed - as well as the victim’s surprisingly violent past. Agatha finds no shortage of motives among a wide range of characters, from Mary's old riding competitors, to enemies from her schoolgirl days, to her surly father, who threatens Agatha to mind her own business. Meanwhile, the police department has its money on another suspect: Agatha. Will she track down the criminal in time, or end up behind bars herself?"

It seems fitting that my mother is no longer around now that M.C. Beaton is no longer around. At least her characters will live on.

Murder in the Snow by Verity Bright
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 274 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An English Christmas has mince pies, cheerful carols, a twinkling tree...and a murder? Thank goodness Lady Swift is on the scene!

Winter, 1920. Amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor Swift is feeling festive. She is playing host to the entire village at Henley Hall for gifts, games and gingerbread. She's also purchased perfect presents for each of her household - not forgetting the biggest bone in the butcher's shop for her partner in crime, Gladstone the bulldog - and is looking forward to celebrating her first English country Christmas.

As snowflakes fall, Eleanor is cheering on contestants in the traditional Christmas fun run in the grounds of the Hall. But tragedy strikes when one of the runners drops dead at the finish line. Dashing Detective Seldon is convinced it's just a heart attack, but Eleanor isn't so sure. When she finds a rather distinctive key where the man fell, Eleanor knows she'll never rest until she finds out the truth about what happened in her own home.

Next the vicar is taken ill with what looks like poison and Eleanor starts to wonder if the two cases are linked. When someone tries to frame her by planting poisoned berries in her own kitchen, she knows speed is of the essence. But the entire village was at Henley Hall for the festivities and Eleanor has enough suspects to stuff a town full of turkeys. Can she nail the true killer and clear her name in time for Christmas?

Christmas won't be complete without it! A festive treat for fans of Agatha Christie, TE Kinsey and Lee Strauss."

Yes, I am that person you know who lines up their Christmas murder mysteries in advance to spend as little time as possible interacting with anyone over the holidays.

Tales from the Folly by Ben Aaronovitch
Published by: JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 238 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Return to the world of Rivers of London in this first short story collection from #1 Sunday Times bestselling author, Ben Aaronovitch. Tales from the Folly is a carefully curated collection that gathers together previously published stories and brand new tales in the same place for the first time.

Each tale features a new introduction from the author, filled with insight and anecdote offering the reader a deeper exploration into this absorbing fictional world. This is a must read for any Rivers of London fan.

Join Peter, Nightingale, Abigail, Agent Reynolds and Tobias Winter for a series of perfectly portioned tales. Discover what’s haunting a lonely motorway service station, who still wanders the shelves of a popular London bookshop, and what exactly happened to the River Lugg...

With an introduction from internationally bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, Charlaine Harris."

While I'm very excited about a new Rivers of London book, could they at least have tried with the cover art a little?

Backtrack Vol. 1 by Brian Joines, Jake Elphick, and Dough Garbark
Published by: Oni Press
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 144 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A former criminal driver is given the chance at redemption by entering a car race but there's just one catch: each leg covers a different period in history.

If you had a chance to fix a mistake from your past, would you take it? Alyson Levy would.

Guilt weighs heavy on former criminal "wheelman," Alyson, who led an illicit life that left hers shattered. Enter Casper Quellex, an eccentric businessman who offers her the break of a lifetime: a massive cross-country car race that grants the winner an opportunity to correct a single mistake in their life. But here’s the catch - each leg covers a different period in history. As if keeping the cars on the often-questionable (sometimes nonexistent) roads and staying ahead of competition wasn’t enough, the drivers will now have to contend with medieval warriors, dinosaurs, and natural disasters…it's all a possibility. Only the one who survives it all will be proven the winner, and like that, Alyson and the rest of the drivers find themselves in a gut-wrenching race through time and quickly learn that they must band together to form any chance for survival. But for an opportunity to turn back time, Alyson will drive from the Big Bang to the death knell of the universe."

Taking the car race premise to a WHOLE. NEW. LEVEL!

The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 2384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Chloe Neill brings her trademark wit and wild sense of adventure to a stunning seafaring fantasy starring a dauntless heroine in a world of magic and treachery.

Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles’ Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte's fleet. Her ship is small, but she's fast—in part because of Kit’s magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for.

Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn’t know him or his motives - and she’s dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who's been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia.

Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall...."

I always listen to my friend Johnnie's book recommendations and Johnnie says to read this book.

The Rise of Knight and Sword by Miriam Wade
Published by: Zenith
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 318 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Avalon, city of kings. Sky towers and airships dominate its skyline, dinosaurs roam freely throughout its parklands, and bounty hunters lurk in its shadows.

Guinevere has always lived on the outskirts of Avalon, working as an archivist in the central library. While corruption runs rampant throughout the city, her life is fairly mundane and predictable. That is, until she discovers the map to Excalibur and uncovers a plot to usurp the throne.

Finding herself on the run from these would-be king-slayers, Guinevere sets out to find the mythical sword. But with no one to trust and no where to hide, she must form an uneasy alliance with a pair of notorious bounty hunters.

"My future, and the future of Avalon are forward."

Rise of Knight and Sword is the first installment of the One Sword Saga. It reimagines Arthurian legend in a steampunk fantasy world at the height of the 1920's. Follow Guinevere and crew as they face off against smugglers, wild dinosaurs, hidden motives, and mistrust."

This ticks all my boxes, 1920s, Camelot, Steampunk!

This is Not a Ghost Story by Andrea Portes
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Nothing is as it seems in this chilling, twisting tale by bestselling author Andrea Portes, perfect for fans of Madeleine Roux and Danielle Vega.

Rife with dark humor and chilling twists, This Is Not a Ghost Story is American Horror Story meets There’s Someone Inside Your House. It will have readers flipping back to the very first page after the shocking finale.

I am not welcome. Somehow I know that. Something doesn’t want me here.

Daffodil Franklin has plans for a quiet summer before her freshman year at college, and luckily, she’s found the job that can give her just that: housesitting a mansion for a wealthy couple.

But as the summer progresses and shadows lengthen, Daffodil comes to realize the house is more than it appears. The spacious home seems to close in on her, and as she takes the long road into town, she feels eyes on her the entire way, and something tugging her back.

What Daffodil doesn’t yet realize is that her job comes with a steep price. The house has a long-ago grudge it needs to settle...and Daffodil is the key to settling it."

Yas, houses with grudges!

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Published by: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 380 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is a landmark celebration of the remarkable life and career of a country music and pop culture legend.

As told by Dolly Parton in her own inimitable words, explore the songs that have defined her journey. Illustrated throughout with previously unpublished images from Dolly Parton's personal and business archives.

Mining over 60 years of songwriting, Dolly Parton highlights 175 of her songs and brings readers behind the lyrics.

- Packed with never-before-seen photographs and classic memorabilia

- Explores personal stories, candid insights, and myriad memories behind the songs

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics reveals the stories and memories that have made Dolly a beloved icon across generations, genders, and social and international boundaries.

Containing rare photos and memorabilia from Parton's archives, this book is a show-stopping must-have for every Dolly Parton fan.

- Learn the history behind classic Parton songs like "Jolene," "9 to 5," "I Will Always Love You," and more.

- The perfect gift for Dolly Parton fans (everyone loves Dolly ) as well as lovers of music history and country

Add it to the shelf with books like Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton, The Beatles Anthology by The Beatles, and Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen."

I have seen Dolly on so many talk shows lately I think I'm now obligated to buy this book. 

Egyptomaniacs: How We Became Obsessed With Ancient Egypt by Nicky Nielson
Published by: Pen and Sword History
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 224 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The Greek historian Hecataeus of Abdera declared during the 4th century BCE that the Egyptian civilization was unsurpassed in the arts and in good governance, surpassing even that of the Greeks. During the Renaissance, several ecclesiastical nobles, including the Borgia Pope Alexander VI claimed their descent from the Egyptian god Osiris. In the 1920s, the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings prompted one of the first true media frenzies in history. For thousands of years, the Pharaonic culture has been a source of almost endless fascination and obsession. But to what extent is the popular view of ancient Egypt at all accurate?

In Egyptomaniacs: How We Became Obsessed With Ancient Egypt, Egyptologist Dr Nicky Nielsen examines the popular view of Egypt as an exotic, esoteric, mystical culture obsessed with death and overflowing with mummies and pyramids. The book traces our obsession with ancient Egypt throughout history and methodically investigates, explains and strips away some of the most popular misconceptions about the Pharaohs and their civilization."

I feel so seen.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Book Review - Edward Eager's Magic by the Lake

Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager
Published by: Turtleback Books
Publication Date: 1957
Format: Hardcover, 208 Pages
To Buy

My mom had one mandatory author I had to love and that author was Edward Eager. Thankfully things worked out or who knows, I might have been disowned. But these books consumed me, as did the artwork by the amazing N.M. Bodecker. Sometimes aspects of a book have so inspired me I've tried to make them real. After reading The Time Garden I was obsessed with planting thyme anywhere my mom would let me in the hopes I'd be able to time travel. As an aside woolly thyme is adorable. I also would imitate Bodecker's style in my artwork creating a Romeo and Juliet comic in high school. The only problem is Edward Eager only wrote seven books, three duologies, two of which are linked, and a standalone. That is not nearly enough! I will always be eager for more! Yes, I know that's a groanworthy pun, but it felt necessary. Interestingly enough until a Christmas where I hunted up all seven first editions for my mother as a present she only had one of Eager's books, Magic by the Lake. This was chronologically the second book in the series though released third and followed Martha, Jane, Mark, and Katharine's further adventures as they went on vacation. While I always loved this volume because it seemed plausible on one of my many trips to Door County that I'd run into a magical turtle I think it was my mom's favorite because of a very bad vacation she took with her family. I don't remember what year it was but when my mom was younger the whole extended family rented a cabin and it was going to be the best summer ever, instead they were trapped inside all day by rain. The one picture that remains is a portrait in misery or great hilarity depending on if you're viewing it from my mother's POV or her dad's, the photographer. I believe that Magic by the Lake became her favorite Eager book because this was the summer vacation she dreamed of and never got. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Book Review - The Ship That Flew

The Ship That Flew by Hilda Lewis
Published by: Criterion Books
Publication Date: 1939
Format: Hardcover, 180 Pages
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)

My mom was rather notorious for her dislike of pottery. I was never able to really figure out where this came from other than she gave me a vague feeling that the potters she'd interacted with when she was in art school made her dislike all potters. This is extra ironic because the two known pieces of my mom's pottery extant when I was a child where rather good. There was a coil pot that was rather muppety that eventually suffered a breakage and a viking ship. When I was little I adored that viking ship. Screw when I was little, I STILL adore that viking ship. The detail, the heft, I wanted my mother to make an entire fleet, but sadly there was only the one. One day when I was looking around the house for books to read for school, I went to a Catholic school that took a very punitive track when it came to homework, besides the eight hours of homework a night you had to read two additional books a month to write book reports on, there was The Ship That Flew on my mom's prized bookshelf. I took it down and loved the historical adventures our heroes and heroines take on a viking ship. I instantly made the connection to my mom's creation and asked her if this is why she made it. I needn't have asked, of course it was. As I myself have done all my life she also loved to make things from books become real. Now if only her pottery ship flew in time and space...

Monday, November 9, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Published by: Harper
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 608 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Featuring his famous literary detective Atticus Pund and Susan Ryeland, hero of the worldwide bestseller Magpie Murders, a brilliantly complex literary thriller with echoes of Agatha Christie from New York Times bestselling author Anthony Horowitz.

Retired publisher Susan Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her long-term boyfriend Andreas. It should be everything she's always wanted. But is it? She's exhausted with the responsibilities of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, and truth be told she's beginning to miss London.

And then the Trehearnes come to stay. The strange and mysterious story they tell, about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married - a picturesque inn on the Suffolk coast named Farlingaye Hall - fascinates Susan and piques her editor’s instincts.

One of her former writers, the late Alan Conway, author of the fictional Magpie Murders, knew the murder victim - an advertising executive named Frank Parris - and once visited Farlingaye Hall. Conway based the third book in his detective series, Atticus Pund Takes the Cake, on that very crime.

The Trehearne’s, daughter, Cecily, read Conway’s mystery and believed the book proves that the man convicted of Parris’s murder - a Romanian immigrant who was the hotel’s handyman - is innocent. When the Trehearnes reveal that Cecily is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to England and find out what really happened.

Brilliantly clever, relentlessly suspenseful, full of twists that will keep readers guessing with each revelation and clue, Moonflower Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction from one of its greatest masterminds, Anthony Horowitz."

Ever since he adapted Midsomer Murders for the screen Anthony Horowitz is the king of "dark takes on vintage English crime fiction!"

The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White
Published by: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The second book in a new fantasy trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White, exploring the nature of self, the inevitable cost of progress, and, of course, magic and romance and betrayal so epic Queen Guinevere remains the most famous queen who never lived.

EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom's influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.

Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to the people around her - Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde; Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen's knight; and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere - the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn't belong. She never will.

When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere's younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving - Camelot, or herself?"

I would gladly just live in Camelot. Backstabbing and all!

Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Before there was Catherine the Great, there was Catherine Alexeyevna: the first woman to rule Russia in her own right. Ellen Alpsten's rich, sweeping debut novel is the story of her rise to power.

St. Petersburg, 1725. Peter the Great lies dying in his magnificent Winter Palace. The weakness and treachery of his only son has driven his father to an appalling act of cruelty and left the empire without an heir. Russia risks falling into chaos. Into the void steps the woman who has been by his side for decades: his second wife, Catherine Alexeyevna, as ambitious, ruthless and passionate as Peter himself.

Born into devastating poverty, Catherine used her extraordinary beauty and shrewd intelligence to ingratiate herself with Peter’s powerful generals, finally seducing the Tsar himself. But even amongst the splendor and opulence of her new life - the lavish feasts, glittering jewels, and candle-lit hours in Peter’s bedchamber - she knows the peril of her position. Peter’s attentions are fickle and his rages powerful; his first wife is condemned to a prison cell, her lover impaled alive in Red Square. And now Catherine faces the ultimate test: can she keep the Tsar’s death a secret as she plays a lethal game to destroy her enemies and take the Crown for herself?

From the sensuous pleasures of a decadent aristocracy, to the incense-filled rites of the Orthodox Church and the terror of Peter’s torture chambers, the intoxicating and dangerous world of Imperial Russia is brought to vivid life. Tsarina is the story of one remarkable woman whose bid for power would transform the Russian Empire."

Don't deny it, I know you're just as obsessed with the opulence of Tsarists Russia as I am.

In the Lion's Den by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford comes the highly anticipated second book in the House of Falconer saga.

James Lionel Falconer has risen quickly from a mere shop worker to being the right-hand man of Henry Malvern, head of the most prestigious shipping company in London. With Malvern's daughter Alexis running away to the country after a terrible tragedy and refusing to return, James' ascent to head of the company seems inevitable. But even a charmed life like James' is not without its setbacks.

A terrible fire threatens to end his merchant career before it's had a chance to truly begin. Mrs. Ward, James' former paramour, has a secret that could change his life forever. And his distaste for Alexis Malvern is slowly growing into feelings of quite a different sort. Can James continue to be the master of his own fate, or will all of his charm, intelligence, and wit finally fail him when he has to enter the lion's den?

Spanning the years from 1889 to 1892, In the Lion's Den is Barbara Taylor Bradford at her historical storytelling best."

I might be more than a little obsessed with anything during Victoria and Bertie's reign of late and I've been feeling a withdrawal setting in, thankfully Barbara Taylor Bradford has come to the rescue.

A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Love and Gelato meets Don’t Date Rosa Santos in this charming, heartfelt story following a Miami girl who unexpectedly finds love - and herself - in a small English town.

For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panaderĂ­a, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything - including Lila herself - fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila...until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind - one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind."

It's like the book industry just knew we needed a whole heck of a lot of romantic escapist literature after last Tuesday.

Cobble Hill by Cecily von Ziegesar
Published by: Atria Books
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Gossip Girl series, a deliciously irresistible novel chronicling a year in the life of four families in an upscale Brooklyn neighborhood as they seek purpose, community, and meaningful relationships - until one unforgettable night at a raucous neighborhood party knocks them to their senses.

Welcome to Cobble Hill.

In this eclectic Brooklyn neighborhood, private storms brew amongst four married couples and their children. There’s ex-groupie Mandy, so underwhelmed by motherhood and her current physical state that she fakes a debilitating disease to get the attention of her skateboarding, ex-boyband member husband Stuart. There’s the unconventional new school nurse, Peaches, on whom Stuart has an unrequited crush, and her disappointing husband Greg, who wears noise-cancelling headphones - everywhere.

A few blocks away, Roy, a well-known, newly transplanted British novelist, has lost the thread of his next novel and his marriage to capable, indefatigable Wendy. Around the corner, Tupper, the nervous, introverted industrial designer with a warehose full of prosthetic limbs struggles to pin down his elusive artist wife Elizabeth. She remains...elusive. Throw in two hormonal teenagers, a ten-year-old pyromaniac, a drug dealer pretending to be a doctor, and a lot of hidden cameras, and you’ve got a combustible mix of egos, desires, and secrets bubbling in brownstone Brooklyn.

Smart, sophisticated, yet surprisingly tender, Cobble Hill is highly entertaining portrait of contemporary family life and the colorful characters who call Brooklyn home."

As long as NONE of the colorful characters happens to be a Humphrey I'm happy.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Published by: Avon
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"With nods to Bridget Jones and Pride and Prejudice, this debut is a delightful #ownvoices queer rom-com about a free-spirited social media astrologer who agrees to fake a relationship with an uptight actuary until New Year’s Eve - with results not even the stars could predict!

After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love - and the inevitable heartbreak - is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass.

Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy...a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother - and Elle's new business partner - expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date? Because...awkward.

Darcy begs Elle to play along and she agrees to pretend they’re dating. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family during the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a faux relationship. But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?"

Sigh, happy rom-com time.

Whispering Hearts by V.C. Andrews
Published by: Gallery Books
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A desperate young woman’s bargain with a wealthy couple is not what it seems. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author and literary phenomenon V.C. Andrews - whose books are now major Lifetime TV movies (Flowers in the Attic, Heaven, Ruby) - comes a gothic tale of big city dreams gone wrong.

The English countryside is beautiful, but for Emma Corey it cannot compare with the bright lights of New York City. Tired of performing only in pubs and at church, she announces she’s moving to America - and her conservative father disowns her on the spot.

Distraught but undeterred, Emma will become a Broadway star - or die trying. Leaving the comforts of her youth is a thrilling adventure. The largeness of the city, her new friends, the boundless opportunities make everything shine with promise. However, New York has a way of chipping away at a newcomer’s resolve. First a robbery. Then a low-wage job. Then the realization that such a city attracts the young and the talented - competitors all.

Just when it seems like Emma might have to admit defeat and return to the UK, she is introduced to a peculiar couple: a wife that cannot bear children of her own, and a husband who would pay Emma to solve that problem.

Emma’s father once told her, "Money is life." But when Emma trades one for the other and moves into the couple’s remote estate to participate in an elaborate ruse, there’s no telling what kind of life she’ll have once she’s taken the money."

I love how good V.C. Andrews is in creating the Gothic in environments where you don't think a Gothic vibe would flourish.

This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by: Soho Press
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 312 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series offers a deeply personal memoir of her family’s resilience in the face of war and privation.

After sixteen novels, Jacqueline Winspear has taken the bold step of turning to memoir, revealing the hardships and joys of her family history. Both shockingly frank and deftly restrained, her story tackles the difficult, poignant, and fascinating family accounts of her paternal grandfather’s shellshock; her mother’s evacuation from London during the Blitz; her soft-spoken animal-loving father’s torturous assignment to an explosives team during WWII; her parents’ years living with Romany Gypsies; and Winspear’s own childhood picking hops and fruit on farms in rural Kent, capturing her ties to the land and her dream of being a writer at its very inception.

An eye-opening and heartfelt portrayal of a post-War England we rarely see, This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing chronicles a childhood in the English countryside, of working class indomitability and family secrets, of artistic inspiration and the price of memory."

I know know, we're all sad there's no Maisie Dobbs this year, but hopefully this will fill the void for you until the next installment comes out.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Book Review - J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Published by: Everyman's Library
Publication Date: 1911
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

When my mom was little Peter Pan was her favorite Disney movie. I have spent more time that I can count having to listen to innumerable stories about being taken to Disney films when I was little and freaking out so bad that I had to be taken home. In an ironic twist of fate my brother would do this to me with The Jungle Book and I never knew the ending until it was re-released into theaters when I was a teenager. There was literally only five minutes left! HE COULD HAVE WAITED! Usually my mom took out these stories as amusing anecdotes, after all she'd seen all the films when she was younger so my losing it on seeing the mice in Cinderella was funny. But she was different about Peter Pan. I remember when it was re-released as we took our seats at Westgate with her sister and niece she looked at me and told me point blank, there would be no "Cinderella" freak out. No matter what happened we were staying. While the movie isn't close to my favorite Disney movie it did spawn a love of the book in me. One year for Christmas my parents got me and my brother a HUGE set of Children's Classics and the plan was to have nightly readings in the library. This actually happened once, perhaps twice. But I do know that the only book we read was Peter Pan. I was the one reading it aloud at the beginning and I don't know at what point I became so involved in the story that I didn't notice that my audience had left but leave they did. But I didn't leave that big uncomfortable pink wingback chair until I finished the book. I think that was the first book I binged in one sitting.     

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