Monday, June 10, 2019

Tuesday Tomorrow

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald
Published by: Random House
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"On a clear December morning in 1937, at the famous gold clock in Grand Central Terminal, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man from Queens, meets a vibrant young woman who seems mysteriously out of place. Nora Lansing is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing, pearl earrings, and talk of the Roaring Twenties don’t seem to match the bleak mood of Depression-era New York. Captivated by Nora from her first electric touch, Joe despairs when he tries to walk her home and she disappears. Finding her again - and again - will become the focus of his love and his life.

Nora, a fiercely independent aspiring artist, is shocked to find she’s somehow been trapped, her presence in the terminal governed by rules she cannot fathom. It isn’t until she meets Joe that she begins to understand the effect that time is having on her, and the possible connections to the workings of Grand Central and the solar phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below.

As thousands of visitors pass under the famous celestial blue ceiling each day, Joe and Nora create a life unlike any they could have imagined. With infinite love in a finite space, they take full advantage of the “Terminal City” within a city, dining at the Oyster Bar, visiting the Whispering Gallery, and making a home at the Biltmore Hotel. But when the construction of another landmark threatens their future, Nora and Joe are forced to test the limits of freedom and love.

Delving into Grand Central Terminal’s rich past, Lisa Grunwald crafts a masterful historical novel about a love affair that defies age, class, place, and even time."

Firstly, I have to say it, this is easily my favorite cover of any book this year. It's too too divine. Add to that the wibbly-wobbly-timey-whimy-ness of the book and Manhattanhenge, a sight I've longed to see for myself, and this a the must read book no matter what time you're in.

Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys
Published by: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Format: Paperback, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Get swept away to the enchanting South of France with this “exquisite and shimmering” (Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone) suspenseful historical novel, where perilous secrets lurk under the glitz and glam of seaside wealth.

She didn’t have an enemy in the world...until she inherited a fortune.

London 1948: Eve Forrester is stuck in a loveless marriage, isolated in her gray and gloomy house when out of the blue, she receives a letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mysterious inheritance but in order to find out more, she must travel to the glittering French Riviera.

There, Eve discovers she has been bequeathed an enchanting villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and suddenly, life could not be more glamorous. But while she rubs shoulders with the rich and famous, challengers to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge - challengers who would love to see Eve gone forever.

Alone in paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest - before her unexpected twist of fate turns deadly...

With Rachel Rhys’s “thrilling, seductive, and utterly absorbing” (Paula Hawkins, #1 bestselling author of The Girl on the Train) prose, Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the decadence of the Côte d’Azur."

I'm a sucker for a story where an inheritance appears out of nowhere and then the mystery truly begins!

The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora
Published by: Grove Press
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An electrifying debut novel from the acclaimed author of The Wonder Garden, The Paper Wasp is a riveting knife-edge story of two women’s dark friendship of twisted ambition set against the backdrop of contemporary Hollywood.

In small-town Michigan, Abby Graven leads a solitary life. Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes in her childhood home, trudging to and from her job as a supermarket cashier. Each day she is taunted from the magazine racks by the success of her former best friend Elise, a rising Hollywood starlet whose life in pictures Abby obsessively scrapbooks. At night Abby escapes through the films of her favorite director, Auguste Perren, a cult figure known for his creative institute the Rhizome. Inspired by Perren, Abby draws fantastical storyboards based on her often premonitory dreams, a visionary gift she keeps hidden.

When Abby encounters Elise again at their high school reunion, she is surprised and warmed that Elise still considers her not only a friend but a brilliant storyteller and true artist. Elise’s unexpected faith in Abby reignites in her a dormant hunger, and when Elise offhandedly tells Abby to look her up if she’s ever in LA, Abby soon arrives on her doorstep. There, Abby discovers that although Elise is flourishing professionally, behind her glossy magazine veneer she is lonely and disillusioned. Ever the supportive friend, Abby becomes enmeshed in Elise’s world, even as she guards her own dark secret and burning desire for greatness. As she edges closer to Elise, the Rhizome, and her own artistic ambitions, the dynamic shifts between the two friends - until Abby can see only one way to grasp the future that awaits her.

The Paper Wasp is a thrilling, unexpected journey into the psyche and imagination of a woman determined to fulfill her destiny from one of our most unique and incisive writers."

Dark female drama in Hollywood? Yes please!

Death at Burwell Farm by Betty Rowlands
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Format: Paperback, 236 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A rambling old house, surrounded by a gorgeous rose garden with an elegant fountain, looks too perfect to be true. But could this beautiful place be the link between a string of peculiar deaths?

Sukey Reynolds is photographing the scene of a burglary at Burwell Farm for the police, when she finds herself drawn to the crumbling building and peaceful surroundings. Burwell Farm doesn’t grow crops or raise animals, but as a retreat, the owners do make some extraordinary claims about healing the soul...

But before Sukey can get too intrigued, she’s called to another break-in at the house of a young widow, whose husband spent a great deal of time at… Burwell Farm. Sukey starts to wonder if there is something more sinister going on behind the perfectly manicured lawns...

After her police colleagues refuse to take her suspicions seriously, Sukey decides the time has come to do some sleuthing on her own. But who is the thorn in the rose garden? Is it the beautiful receptionist, the gardener with a secret to hide, or perhaps the leader who inspires such devotion?

Then someone is murdered in the garden of Burwell Farm while she is there and Sukey realises she has landed herself in deep water. Can Sukey solve the mystery that has blighted this stunning house? And can she catch the killer before they turn on her?

A completely addictive murder mystery for fans of P.D. James, Faith Martin and Joy Ellis that will have you hooked from the first page!"

Because everyone needs a little British murder mystery in their lives every now and then, or in my case, always. 

The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey
Published by: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the bestselling author of the Sandman Slim series, a lush, dark, stand-alone fantasy built off the insurgent tradition of China Mieville and M. John Harrison - a subversive tale that immerses us in a world where the extremes of bleakness and beauty exist together in dangerous harmony in a city on the edge of civility and chaos.

The Great War is over. The city of Lower Proszawa celebrates the peace with a decadence and carefree spirit as intense as the war’s horrifying despair. But this newfound hedonism - drugs and sex and endless parties - distracts from strange realities of everyday life: Intelligent automata taking jobs. Genetically engineered creatures that serve as pets and beasts of war. A theater where gruesome murders happen twice a day. And a new plague that even the ceaseless euphoria can’t mask.

Unlike others who live strictly for fun, Largo is an addict with ambitions. A bike messenger who grew up in the slums, he knows the city’s streets and its secrets intimately. His life seems set. He has a beautiful girlfriend, drugs, a chance at a promotion - and maybe, an opportunity for complete transformation: a contact among the elite who will set him on the course to lift himself up out of the streets.

But dreams can be a dangerous thing in a city whose mood is turning dark and inward. Others have a vision of life very different from Largo’s, and they will use any methods to secure control. And in behind it all, beyond the frivolity and chaos, the threat of new war always looms."

Because everyone needs to sometimes escape the current dystopia for a fictional one.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A brilliant, multigenerational saga in the tradition of The Thorn Birds and North and South, New York Times bestselling historical novelist Lauren Willig delivers her biggest, boldest, and most ambitious novel yet - a sweeping Victorian epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Barbados, 1854: Emily Dawson has always been the poor cousin in a prosperous English merchant clan -  merely a vicar’s daughter, and a reform-minded vicar’s daughter, at that. Everyone knows that the family’s lucrative shipping business will go to her cousin, Adam, one day. But when her grandfather dies, Emily receives an unexpected inheritance: Peverills, a sugar plantation in Barbados - a plantation her grandfather never told anyone he owned.

When Emily accompanies her cousin and his new wife to Barbados, she finds Peverills a burnt-out shell, reduced to ruins in 1816, when a rising of enslaved people sent the island up in flames. Rumors swirl around the derelict plantation; people whisper of ghosts.

Why would her practical-minded grandfather leave her a property in ruins? Why are the neighboring plantation owners, the Davenants, so eager to acquire Peverills? The answer lies in the past - a tangled history of lies, greed, clandestine love, heartbreaking betrayal, and a bold bid for freedom.

The Summer Country will beguile readers with its rendering of families, heartbreak, and the endurance of hope against all odds."

Lauren's new book is finally here, which means I can FINALLY talk to people about it! Also, in tour news, Lauren is making her way to Wisconsin for the first time, and I am majorly excited!

The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan
Published by: Crown
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir comes a thrilling new WWII story about a village busybody - the mighty Mrs. Braithwaite - who resolves to find, and then rescue, her missing daughter.

Mrs. Braithwaite, self-appointed queen of her English village, finds herself dethroned, despised, and dismissed following her husband’s selfish divorce petition. Never deterred, the threat of a family secret being revealed sets her hot-foot to London to find the only person she has left - her clever daughter Betty, who took work there at the first rumbles of war.

But when she arrives, Betty’s landlord, the timid Mr. Norris, informs her that Betty hasn’t been home in days - with the chaos of the bombs, there’s no telling what might have befallen her. Aghast, Mrs. Braithwaite sets her bullish determination to the task of finding her only daughter.

Storming into the London Blitz, Mrs. Braithwaite drags the reluctant Mr. Norris along as an unwitting sidekick as they piece together Betty’s unexpectedly chaotic life. As she is thrown into the midst of danger and death, Mrs. Braithwaite is forced to rethink her old-fashioned notions of status, class, and reputation, and to reconsider the question that’s been puzzling her since her world overturned: How do you measure the success of your life?

Readers will be charmed by the unforgettable Mrs. Braithwaite and her plucky, ruthless optimism, and find in The Spies of Shilling Lane a novel with surprising twists and turns, quiet humor, and a poignant examination of mothers and daughters and the secrets we keep."

What draws me to this book is that it's a different fresh take on WWII.

The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montlclair
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"First comes love, then comes murder.

In a London slowly recovering from World War II, two very different women join forces to launch a business venture in the heart of Mayfair - The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Miss Iris Sparks, quick-witted and impulsive, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, practical and widowed with a young son, are determined to achieve some independence and do some good in a rapidly changing world.

But the promising start to their marriage bureau is threatened when their newest client, Tillie La Salle, is found murdered and the man arrested for the crime is the prospective husband they matched her with. While the police are convinced they have their man, Miss Sparks and Mrs. Bainbridge are not. To clear his name - and to rescue their fledging operation’s reputation - Sparks and Bainbridge decide to investigate on their own, using the skills and contacts they’ve each acquired through life and their individual adventures during the recent war.

Little do they know that this will put their very lives at risk."

Matchmaking gone awry! 

This Storm by James Ellroy
Published by: Knopf
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 608 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A massive novel of World War II Los Angeles. The crowning work of an American master.

It is January, 1942. Torrential rainstorms hit L.A. A body is unearthed in Griffith Park. The cops rate it a routine dead-man job. They're grievously wrong. It's a summons to misalliance and all the spoils of a brand-new war.

Elmer Jackson is a corrupt Vice cop. He's a flesh peddler and a bagman for the L.A. Chief of Police. Hideo Ashida is a crime-lab whiz, caught up in the maelstrom of the Japanese internment. Dudley Smith is an LAPD hardnose working Army Intelligence. He's gone rogue and gone all-the-way Fascist. Joan Conville was born rogue. She's a defrocked Navy lieutenant and a war profiteer to her core.

They've signed on for the dead-man job. They've got a hot date with History. They will fight their inner wars within The War with unstoppable fury."

I've always been a sucker of James Ellroy's Hollywood Noir, and after devouring Strange Angel on Amazon, I kind of need more of a WWII Hollywood fix. I think this fits the bill!

The L.A. Quartet by James Ellroy
Published by: Everyman's Library
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 1416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Here in one volume is James Ellroy's first great body of work, an epic re-envisioning of postwar Los Angeles - etched in red and black and film-noir grays.

The Black Dahlia depicts the secret infrastructure of L.A.'s most sensational murder case. A young cop morphs into obsessed lover and lust-crazed avenger. The Dahlia claims him. She is the deus ex machina of a boomtown in extremis. The cop's rogue investigation is a one-way ticket to hell.

The Big Nowhere blends the crime novel and the political novel. It is winter, 1950--and the L.A. County Grand Jury is out to slam movieland Reds. It's a reverential shuck--and the three cops assigned to the job are out to grab all the glory they can. A series of brutal sex killings intervenes, and the job goes all-the-way bad.

L.A. Confidential is the great novel of Los Angeles in the 1950s. Political corruption. Scandal-rag journalism. Bad racial juju and gangland wars. Six local stiffs slaughtered in an all-night hash house. The glorious and overreaching LAPD on an unprecedented scale.

White Jazz gives us the tortured confession of a corrupt cop going down for the count. He's a slumlord, a killer, a parasitic exploiter. He's a pawn in a series of police power plays and starting to see that he's being had. He's just met a woman. Thus, he's determined to claw his way out of the horrifying world he's created--and he's determined to tell us everything.

The L.A. Quartet is a groundbreaking work of American popular fiction."

I've been known to complain that there wasn't one book that combined all of James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet... for once someone must have heard me!

We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn and her husband Carlo, a former priest and university professor, are trying to enjoy each other in this new stage in their lives. But a memento from Carlo's days as a prison chaplain - a handwritten document hidden away undetected in a box of Carlo's old things - has become a target for a man on the run from his past. Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he'd like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. Following the path of this letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he'll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.

Becky Masterman's unputdownable thrillers featuring unique heroine Brigid Quinn continue with this fascinating alternative look at one of America's most famous crimes."

If you wanted something more to In Cold Blood, than this book's for you.

The Shallows by Matt Goldman
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the words of Lee Child on Gone to Dust, “I want more of Nils Shapiro.” New York Times Best Selling author and Emmy Award-winning writer Matt Goldman obliges by bringing the Minneapolis private detective back for another thrilling, stand-alone adventure in The Shallows.

A prominent lawyer is found dead, tied to his own dock by a fishing stringer through his jaw, and everyone wants private detective Nils Shapiro to protect them from suspicion: The unfaithful widow. Her artist boyfriend. The lawyer’s firm. A polarizing congressional candidate. A rudderless suburban police department. Even the FBI.

Nils and his investigative partners illuminate a sticky web of secrets and deceit that draws national attention. But finding the web doesn’t prevent Nils from getting caught in it. Just when his safety is most in peril, his personal life takes an unexpected twist, facing its own snarl of surprise and deception.

In The Shallows, Goldman delves into the threat of dark history repeating itself while delivering another page-turner with his signature pace, humor, and richly drawn characters."

I was lucky enough to meet Matt Goldman when he toured for Gone to Dust, and it makes me very excited for this newest Nils Shapiro book.  

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself."

I love how Pride and Prejudice has a universality that has lead to other cultures adapting it into their country's literary tradition.

Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott
Published by: Jo Fletcher Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"1558: Twelve children, gifted far beyond their years, are banished by their Tudor queen to the town of Rotherweird. Some say they are the Golden Generation; some say the devil's spawn. But everyone knows they are to be revered - and feared.

Four and a half centuries later, cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I and still bound by its ancient laws, Rotherweird's independence is subject to one disturbing condition: no one, but no one studies the town or its history.

Then an Outsider arrives, a man of unparalleled wealth and power, enough to buy the whole of Rotherweird - deeply buried secrets and all..."

When I book is described by The Guardian as "[T]he love child of Gormenghast and Hogwarts" I am THERE!

Sorcery of Thrones by Margaret Rogerson
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the New York Times bestselling author of An Enchantment of Ravens comes an imaginative fantasy about an apprentice at a magical library who must battle a powerful sorcerer to save her kingdom.

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery - magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught - about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined."

Literally THE YA book this summer... also a library!

Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare et al
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 624 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cassandra Clare comes an exciting new short story collection that follows Jem Carstairs as he travels through the many Shadow Markets around the world. Ghosts of the Shadow Market is a Shadowhunters novel.

The Shadow Market is a meeting point for faeries, werewolves, warlocks, and vampires. There, the Downworlders buy and sell magical objects, make dark bargains, and whisper secrets they do not want the Nephilim to know. Through two centuries, however, there has been a frequent visitor to the Shadow Market from the City of Bones, the very heart of the Shadowhunters’ world. As a Silent Brother, Brother Zachariah is a sworn keeper of the laws and lore of the Nephilim. But once he was a Shadowhunter called Jem Carstairs, and his love, then and always, is the warlock Tessa Gray. And Jem is searching through the Shadow Markets, in many different cities over long years, for a relic from his past.

Follow Jem and see, against the backdrop of the Shadow Market’s dark dealings and festival, Anna Lightwood’s doomed romance, Matthew Fairchild’s great sin, and Tessa Gray as she is plunged into a world war. Valentine Morgenstern buys a soul at the Market and a young Jace Wayland’s soul finds safe harbor. In the Market is hidden a lost heir and a beloved ghost, and no one can save you once you have traded away your heart. Not even Brother Zachariah."

Because we got to milk the Shadowhunters series for every penny!

The Modern Faerie Tales by Holly Black
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 800 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Holly Black’s acclaimed Modern Faerie Tales series is now available in this special bind-up edition featuring all three books!

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself as an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms—a struggle that could very well mean her death.

This special bind-up edition includes Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside."

Perfect for that someone who had an ice damn form in their window and had their copy of Tithe destroyed by water damage.

The Witchkin Murders by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Published by: Bell Bridge Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Kindle, 354 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Four years ago, my world - the world - exploded with wild magic. The cherry on top of that crap cake? The supernatural world declared war on humans, and my life went straight to hell.

I used to be a detective, and a damned good one. Then Magicfall happened, and I changed along with the world. I’m witchkin now - something more than human or not quite human, depending on your perspective. To survive, I’ve become a scavenger, searching abandoned houses and stores for the everyday luxuries in short supply - tampons and peanut butter. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, but anything’s better than risking my secret.

Except, old habits die hard. When I discover a murder scene screaming with signs of black magic ritual, I know my days of hiding are over. Any chance I had of escaping my past with my secret intact is gone. Solving the witchkin murders is going to be the hardest case of my life, and not just because every second will torture me with reminders of how much I miss my old life and my partner, who hates my guts for abandoning the department.

But it’s time to suck it up, because if I screw this up, Portland will be wiped out, and I’m not going to let that happen. Hold on to your butts, Portland. Justice is coming, and I don’t take prisoners.

About the Author: Diana Pharaoh Francis is the acclaimed author of a dozen novels of fantasy and urban fantasy. Her books have been nominated for the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award and RT’s Best Urban Fantasy. The Witchkin Murders is the first book in her exciting new urban fantasy series - Magicfall."

This new Urban Fantasy series sounds right up my magically inclined alley!

Five Midnights by Ann Davila Cardinal
Published by: Tor Teen
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Ann Dávila Cardinal's Five Midnights is a “wickedly thrilling” (William Alexander) and “flat-out unputdownable” (Paul Tremblay) novel based on the el Cuco myth set against the backdrop of modern day Puerto Rico.

Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they'll have to step into the shadows to see what's lurking there - murderer, or monster?"

Or both!?!

Strangers Things: Runaway Max by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Don't miss this gripping, emotional prequel to the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things! The never-before-told backstory of the beloved Dig Dug maven, Max Mayfield, written by New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.

This must-read novel, based on the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things, explores Max's past - the good and the bad - as well as how she came to find her newfound sense of home in Hawkins, Indiana."

Because Max has SO MUCH background needing exploration! 

The Artist Who Loved Cats by Courtenay Fletcher and Susan Schaefer Bernardo
Published by: Inner Flower Child Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 32 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The Artist Who Loved Cats is a rhyming picture book biography of artist Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, the creator of the iconic Le Chat Noir Cabaret posters created in 19th-century Paris.

This story opens in modern-day France, when a little girl named Antoinette notices a little bronze cat in the window of her favorite antique store, and begs the shopkeeper Monsieur Arvieux and his clever cat Noir to tell her all about the artist. She learns that Steinlen moved to Paris in 1881 to pursue his artistic dreams, ultimately creating not just the Chat Noir posters but also more than 700 journal illustrations, famous posters, sculptures, cartoon strips and paintings, and even used his art to make the world a better place. Many of Steinlen's artworks feature cats, his favorite subject.

Delightful rhyming verse, a sweet sprinkling of French vocabulary, and lovely illustrations by the award-winning team of author Susan Schaefer Bernardo and artist Courtenay Fletcher bring art history to life.

More than just a biography, The Artist Who Loved Cats is a celebration of art, inspiration, and following your heart to create a life that you love. It's the perfect book for expanding children's knowledge of real life artists, teaching them to appreciate art and antiques, and supporting their creative spark! It's also a great companion guide for a trip to France or study of French culture."

Cats and art, is there any better combination in the world? 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

A Hiatus Happening

So what is A Hiatus Happening, it means a hiatus is literally happening... I'm taking a little break from blogging. And by little I mean I'll be back next June. I promise! I already have theme months planned! As you curse and gnash your teeth over the semantics that a "little break" shouldn't be as long as a year, consider this blog is ten, so I'm only taking like a ten percent break... I've kept this blog going for ten years with all the upheavals life has thrown at me and I thought, what with more life changes on the way, taking a step back for awhile would be the best for my sanity and my sleep schedule. Plus I kind of want to dive into whatever book I feel like without regard to any schedule and read new books right when they come out, which my blog prevents me from doing as often as I'd like. But this doesn't mean my blog is disappearing into the ether, in fact I'll technically still be blogging... I'll still be doing my "Tuesday Tomorrow" posts, as well as reviews of new books by favorite authors, there's a new Lauren Willig and Lisa Lutz coming out this year after all! And I can't skip January's best reads of 2019... So it's kind of like the blog is going on the back burner to simmer to only come back sweeter next year. I will still be on social media discussing books on Twitter and Goodreads, with Instragam being fifty-fifty with regards to the book/food ratio. So feel free to keep in touch. Until next year!     

Friday, May 31, 2019

Best Book of 2009 - Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde
Published by: Viking
Book Provided by Viking
Publication Date: December 29th, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 390 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Edward Russett lives in a very organized and hierarchical society. What color you can see is everything, creating color castes, from the regal purples to the proletarian greys. Eddie is a red living in a green world. Eddie has upset the balance of good behavior and polity by playing a prank on a purple, Bertie Magenta, son of Jade-under-Lime's purple prefect. But he also has dangerous notions on how to improve queuing. To atone for his errors in judgement and gain some humility he is being sent to the fringes of polite society to conduct a pointless chair census. His father, a Swatchman, who is, for all intents and purposes, a doctor, is accompanying him to East Carmine, to fill in for their recently deceased Swatchman, Robin Ochre. Little does Eddie realize what is about to happen to him could change everything. At a stop over at Vermillion, Eddie fails to see the last rabbit, but helps his dad save a grey illegally wrongspotting as a purple and is accosted by a girl with a very retrousse nose who is unaccountably rude and in danger of being sent to reboot to learn some manners. Eddie can't help being intrigued.

Arriving in East Carmine, a town where nothing interesting happens, a new Swatchman and his son sure cause a lot of excitement. From Eddie's new best friend, the shyster Tommo, trying to place him in the marriage market, to the prefects demanding respect and Eddie's return ticket to Jade-under-Lime, to a Lincoln swatch illegal drugs market, to suspicions of the old Swatchman being murdered, to the mysterious naked man who lives in their house that no one can openly admit to seeing, to the new surly maid, who happens to be Jane, the girl with the retrousse nose, Eddie's arrival has caused an avalanche of excitement to this small border town. But will Eddie, with his unwelcome queuing suggestions, be able to stay out of trouble? Can he avoid the everyday dangers of lightning, man-eating Yatveo plants, and swans, while staying on the right side of Tommo and the yellow prefect's son Courtland Gamboge? Plus what if he decides to abandon his half promise to the bitchy princess Constance Oxblood back home and make a go of it with Jane? That's if she, or the ill fated trip to High Saffron, doesn't kill him first...

Shades of Grey, the first book in a proposed series from Jasper Fforde, the author of the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime Series, is a cult favorite where ten years on fans of the book are still clamoring for more adventures from Brunswick and deMauve. From the man whose worldbuilding gave us a land where characters in books police their own plots, we are treated to another inventive story, this time centering on color. If you strip away all the color theory and color related aspects, you are left with a very basic, but solid, post apocalyptic, post something that happened world, akin to the best dystopian novels, the likes of Orwell's 1984. An evil, unseen government is trying to keep their people in line by separation, isolation, ignorance, and strict rules enforced by fear, even if the rules are more geared toward maintaining politeness than anything else. Enter plucky and likable Eddie, who has notions above his station and falls for a girl who hates his guts all the while butting heads with the local authorities and asking a few too many questions.

While the book is standing on firm dystopian soil, it's all the colorful bits of tosh that Fforde scatters throughout the narrative that makes this book easily one of my favorites. Of course, being in the arts, I could have a bias for color theory based jokes, but even with just a simple grasp of color gleaned from your box of Crayola's as a kid will make this book that much more multilayered and enjoyable. The color jokes run the gamut from the dictator's, I mean leader's, name being Munsell, the creator of the first workable and adapted color theory with the naming of hue, value, and chroma, to the test for the character's color placement, the Ishihara, being the test for color blindness in our world. But it's not just these, or the jokes of color pipes being upgraded from RGB to CMYK, sure to send any graphic designer into fits of hysterical laughter, but the way Fforde seamlessly integrates them into the plot and has color as the lynch pin of this society. Yet how did humans evolve so that they can only see specific color frequencies allowing this hierarchical society to form?

Because the thing is, color doesn't actually exist. I know this is a hard thing to grasp, especially if you start thinking about additive color when mixing paint. But the truth is that how we see color and how light works with subtractive color, where all colors combined equal white not black, gets you closer to understanding that everything we see is a product of our minds. Our minds interpret color and tell us what to see. Therefore what happened to these peoples minds that they can only see certain frequencies? Are their frequencies somehow jammed? There are only a few hints, one being that pupils aren't able to dilate anymore, always being a pinprick and making seeing in the dark impossible. The second is that when shown certain color swatches the brain starts to reconfigure, as if it's a computer. So did the evil overlords rewire human brains in order to exert control? Or did evolution take a weird and quirky step sideways. Every time I read this book I learn so much more but conversely end up with so many more questions.

But, as with any post apocalyptic society or even parallel society, it's the mystery of how our world devolved and became this world. Trying to work out exactly how things changed, and not just the physical changes, but other more significant ones. Like how did swans become large and such a danger? Why is there such a fear of lightning? Who knew rhododendrons would be such a threat? Also the little jokes where we know what things were, but that they have morphed into something totally different, like the titles of the mandatory musical theater adaptations being slightly off kilter... "Red Side Story" anyone? Or how they assume the RISK board game is not only a map of how the earth was, but of the color distribution of the inhabitants. Then of course you encounter the deeper mysteries of the plot that keep you reading late into the night. What really happened to Robin Ochre? What does reboot really entail? Because if someone told me they were sending me on the night train to Emerald City I know I'd be nervous.

Picking up this book again ten years after it was published I was still obsessed with the emotions facing Eddie when he learned what Mildew really is all while hoping that his spork loophole will solve the lack of spoons once and for all. And while there's a part of me that holds this book in a special place in my heart, it was the first unsolicited book that showed up on my doorstep after starting my blog, I re-read it with a critical eye. Fforde can sometimes get so caught up in his little jokes and Easter eggs, ones written for his own amusement, it's possible for the reader to feel alienated from the text; creating an unease that they are probably only catching ten percent of what is actually going on. Yet for me Shades of Grey is different. It works on so many different levels that even if you feel occasionally a little lost it's just another layer of the onion to discover when you next read it. Of course, I'm still desperate for any more information on Eddie's world. I want all the answers... but sometimes we are left wanting, just as Eddie and Jane were after their Ishiharas.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Book of 2010 - Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld Book #38) by Terry Pratchett
Published by: Corgi
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2010
Format: Paperback, 419 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)

Need not want. That's the way of the witch. You are respected and well regarded, but not really liked. Who indeed would like the person who knows all your dirty little secrets and does what needs to be done? There is also a certain amount of fear underneath, because though a witch's job has little to do with magic, there's always the threat of it. Worn to the bone by the needs of the people of the Chalk Tiffany doesn't have time for sleep, especially when the rough music starts. Mr. Petty has been singled out by the villagers, an abusive man; he has taken things too far this time with his daughter Amber. While Tiffany doesn't necessary support or condemn the villagers and their plan to oust Mr. Petty, she knows one thing, evil though he may be, Mr. Petty doesn't deserve to die. After dealing with Mr. Petty and having another sleepless night, Tiffany is called to the home of the Baron. Once everyone thought that one day she would be the mistress of the manner when Roland inherited. But being the two "different" people didn't mean they were the two "right" people for each other and Roland is deep in preparations for his wedding to Letitia while his father slips away. When Roland goes away to the great city of Ankh Morpork, his father, the Baron, finally dies peacefully.

The Baron's nurse, a vengeful and hateful woman, claims that Tiffany killed him for his wealth. Tiffany, being unable to deal with these absurd accusations leaves to find Roland and break the news to him. Telling Roland doesn't go as she had planned, instead she ends up in prison with her faithful Nac Mac Feegles. But there is one thing to say about prison, it's safe. There in Ankh Morpork she felt the rising fear and hatred she's been feeling for weeks. People are starting to believe the old stories of evil witches and gingerbread cottages, of the cacklers, of the theory that "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." But there was a stench of rotting and hatred and a man in black only she could see. A man with holes where his eyes should be. Tiffany soon learns that this Cunning Man must be stopped. Her own life could be in danger as Roland himself turns against her. But she soon learns she has unexpected allies, who, even if they did inadvertently release the Cunning Man, are willing to help watch him burn. Because if he doesn't, everyone else will.

Tiffany has grown up. She has seen the best and the worst of mankind and she takes care of them all. Just because a person appears beyond redemption doesn't mean they aren't worth fighting for, that way leads cackling. She takes everyone's pain away and leaves no comfort for herself. This is a far darker and more disturbing tale of Discworld then has been seen in the annals of Tiffany Aching. But then, the Cunning man is one of the most terrifying villains seen yet. Sure Tiffany kissed the Winter away and walked in the lands of fairies and DEATH, but those creatures were more creatures of myth and fairy tale than a man who through his own hatred and his own dark past is able to corrupt and despoil those who come in contact with him, though he is long dead. Because, deep down, I Shall Wear Midnight shows that the true danger isn't magic, it is man. The Cunning man was once a man like all others. And when Tiffany struggles to quickly save Mr. Petty she is not only saving him from himself, but from his fellow townsfolk. The people that Tiffany grew up around, those she cares for and trusts, when the rough music starts the true danger is your fellow man, and that is a terrifying truth. Even your best friend or neighbor could spell your end.

Yet Tiffany learns more than the cruelty of fellow man as she's grown up. She has more responsibility on her shoulders than ever before. No longer a naive young girl she lives in a world of sleepless nights. Nights spent caring for those who probably don't give her a second thought. The truth of the world is open to her and it shows her that the world is made up of assumptions based solely on appearances. Her and Roland were to marry because that's how it looked to outsiders. Witches are evil old ladies who live alone in the woods. And girls like Letitia with their typical fairy-tale-princess looks and pretty gowns are destined for a happily ever after. Whereas the truth is Tiffany and Roland were never fated to marry, they were too different. The poor old lady killed in the woods years ago was nothing but a poor old lady, not an ounce of witch about her; unlike Letitia who dreams of being a witch and nothing would please her more than a wart or two. Truth can never be found on the surface. Appearances are deceiving. The genius of Pratchett is that he takes concepts that are so ingrained in our culture that they have reached the point of being a cliche, but then he shows it to us in a new light, in the vulnerability of an old lady and her cat, and we realize the importance of this truth that led to it being a cliche.

And while showing us the worst humanity has to offer, Pratchett also shows us those moments of grace. We have been raised to fear DEATH. That when the time comes it is always too soon and too painful. What should be a sad moment, when Roland's father dies, instead we are given a death with dignity. The pain is taken away and a happy memory brought forward. His death wasn't just a release, it was beautiful. That is what Pratchett does time and time again. He takes what we expect and gives it back to us in another way, turned and twisted about to get at the heart of the matter. He takes the concept of the wicked witch, turns it on its head and makes us see that these women of fairy tale who are feared are the ones who have it right. You must care for them that can't. You don't burn down old ladies' houses and kill their cats, you don't run people out of town, you show kindness, even if it must be said in a stern tone of voice. I can not say enough how Pratchett's writing shows such a unique thought process, a great mind that was willing to question everything and in that quest gave us a new way to look at the world. Life happens not as you expect because maybe that's what is needed.

Re-reading this book was bittersweet in the wake of Pratchett's own death. While this book turned out not to be the final Tiffany Aching book, Tiffany did end Discworld with The Shepherd's Crown. But to me, this should be the end of Tiffany's story. She might have other adventures, but here... here she is glorious. This story is so perfect that there was no way to capture that sense of completion by writing yet another tale, it was unnecessary. Though with the love and care Pratchett obviously felt for Tiffany, it is no wonder that he wanted his last book to be with the character he loved most. And despite all the characters he has created over his prolific career, I find it amazing that so many people have identified with Tiffany; a rather obstinate, forthright girl, who just happens to be a witch. She's a character the likes of which will be echoed in countless other characters for a long time to come. Yet in the end, she's uniquely herself and uniquely Pratchett. And of all her tales, this one is uniquely perfect. It's rare that a book ends on just the right note, but Pratchett has succeeded perfectly. The absolute right note which has a bite of a susurration to it.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Woman Who Spoke to Spirits by Alys Clare
Published by: Severn House Publishers
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"London, 1880. “I’m dreadfully afraid someone is threatening to kill my wife...” When accounts clerk Ernest Stibbins approaches the World’s End investigation bureau with wild claims that his wife Albertina has been warned by her spirit guides that someone is out to harm her, the bureau’s owner Lily Raynor and her new employee Felix Wilbraham are initially sceptical. How are the two private enquiry agents supposed to investigate threats from beyond the grave? But after she attends a séance at the Stibbins family home, Lily comes to realize that Albertina is in terrible danger. And very soon so too is Lily herself..."

I'm a sucker for a séance.

Murder at Morrington Hall by Clara McKenna
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Stella Kendrick is an all-American heiress who can’t be tamed. But when the lively aspiring equine trainer tangles with British aristocracy, she meets her match - and a murderer...

Spring, 1905: Free-spirited like the Thoroughbreds she rides across the Kentucky countryside, Stella takes adventure by the reins when she’s asked to attend a mysterious wedding in rural England. But once she arrives at the lush Morrington Hall estate, her cold and ambitious father confesses that he won’t only give away his best racehorses as gifts—he has also arranged to give away his daughter as bride to the Earl of Atherly’s financially strapped son...

Stella refuses to be sold off like a prized pony. Yet despite a rough start, there’s something intriguing about her groom-to-be, the roguish Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst. The unlikely pair could actually be on the right track with each other...until they find the vicar who was to marry them dead in the library.

With culture clashes mounting between families, a scandalous murder case hangs over Morrington Hall. Now, Stella and Lyndy must go from future spouses to amateur sleuths as they team up to search for the truth - and prevent an unbridled criminal from destroying their new life together right out of the gate..."

More period murder!

Who's Sorry Now? by Maggie Robinson
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Paperback, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"London, England 1925.

A Russian prince. A wealthy heir. An impoverished earl's daughter. Which one will make an untimely exit from the London social scene?

Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Devenand Hunter finds himself in the middle of a series of upper-class deaths in London. Bright Young People are being extinguished in their favorite night spots, from a sleazy private jazz club to the Savoy ballroom. Dev knows just the person to help him navigate the treacherous society waters: Lady Adelaide Compton, a marquess' daughter and widow of a Great War hero. Unfortunately, he has put her in jeopardy once before, nearly leading him to turn in his warrant card.

But when her sister Cee is nearly one of the victims, Addie turns to Mr. Hunter, offering her help...and it soon becomes clear that the two of them working together again could lead to much more than merely solving crime."

Anyone else love a little twenties cozy?

Murder, She Uncovered by Peg Cochran
Published by: Alibi
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Kindle, 231 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An intrepid 1930s Manhattan socialite uncovers deadly secrets during an assignment to the Hamptons in this riveting historical cozy mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Anne Perry, and Rhys Bowen.

Westhampton, 1938. To the dismay of her well-to-do family, Elizabeth “Biz” Adams is quickly establishing herself as a seasoned photographer over at the Daily Trumpet. Growing more confident in her decision to pursue a career, Elizabeth is thrilled when she and her reporter sidekick, Ralph Kaminsky, are sent to Long Island to cover the story of a young maid found dead in one of the glamourous summer homes in the devastating aftermath of the Great New England Hurricane - also known as the Long Island Express.

At first it’s assumed that the young woman was caught in the terrible storm, but when a suspicious wound is found on the side of her head, the police suspect murder. The maid’s death becomes even more tragic when it’s discovered she was pregnant, and with Elizabeth and Kaminsky at the scene of the crime, the Daily Trumpet scoops all the other papers in town.

The young woman’s boyfriend emerges as the likeliest suspect. But as Elizabeth follows the story, she begins to wonder whether someone in the household of the maid’s employers might be responsible - someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth about the baby’s paternity hidden...."

And even more coziness here!

Blonde Rattlesnake by Julia Nricklin
Published by: Lyons Press
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 200 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Nineteen-year-old Burmah Adams, a hairdresser and former Santa Ana High School student, spent her honeymoon on a crime spree. She and her husband of less than one week, White, an ex-con, robbed at least twenty people in and around downtown L.A. at gunpoint over an eight-week period. But the worst of their crimes was the shooting of a popular elementary school teacher, Cora Withington, and a former publisher, Crombie Allen, who was teaching her how to drive his new car.

A few days later, a watchful pair of patrolmen in a Westlake neighborhood called their detective colleagues at the Los Angeles Police Department; they had spotted a car that looked like one the duo had stolen days before. Two of these detectives dressed as mechanics and kept an eye on the apartment building until Burmah and Thomas appeared one afternoon. As police swarmed the building, Burmah tried to hurl herself out of a third–story window, while Thomas shot at officers and was immediately gunned down and killed.

Blond Rattlesnake reveals the events that brought Adams and White together and details the crime spree they committed in the sweltering hot days and nights of Los Angeles in the height of the Great Depression. It describes the terror of citizens in their path and the outrage they directed at the female half of the duo. Politicians exploited Burmah’s incarceration and trial for their own purposes as the press battled for scoops about the “Blonde Rattlesnake” and created sensation while trying to make sense of her crimes."

I love me some true crime!

Bayou City Burning by D.B. Borton
Published by: Boomerang Books
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Paperback, 390 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Texas, 1961. The state’s slickest politician has lost his presidential bid to a good-looking naval hero from Massachusetts, and sleepy backwater Houston finds itself short on air conditioners just when things are beginning to heat up. The Freedom Riders have raised morale for local civil rights activists, and President Kennedy wants to put a man on the moon.

In a seedy office downtown, a well-dressed out-of-towner hires P.I. Harry Lark to tail two D.C. visitors looking to build NASA a space center. The more Harry finds out, the more he suspects he’s working for the wrong side, and he vows to wash his hands of the case. Meanwhile, Harry’s twelve-year-old daughter Dizzy is puzzling over a mystery of her own: she’s been running a lost-and-found out of a suburban garage, and is unexpectedly hired to find a missing father who’s supposed to be dead and buried.

When Harry’s client turns up dead on his office floor and mobsters start hounding him for cash he’s never seen, Harry realizes he needs all the help he can get - even if it comes from his daughter. As Harry’s and Dizzy’s cases converge, one thing becomes clear: someone wants Houston to look like a lawless Wild West Cowtown - and together, Harry and Dizzy are going to find out who."

There's a P.I. and a cat on the cover, what more could I want?

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
Published by: Harper
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 284 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Death, deception, and a detective with quite a lot to hide stalk the pages of Anthony Horowitz's brilliant murder mystery, the second in the bestselling series starring Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne.

“You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late...”

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine - a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realizes that these secrets must be exposed - even at the risk of death..."

Yes! A new Anthony Horowitz mystery! 

Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstack
Published by: SForge Books
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The highly anticipated first book by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the voices behind the #1 hit podcast My Favorite Murder!

Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.

In Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered, Karen and Georgia focus on the importance of self-advocating and valuing personal safety over being ‘nice’ or ‘helpful.’ They delve into their own pasts, true crime stories, and beyond to discuss meaningful cultural and societal issues with fierce empathy and unapologetic frankness."

True crime podcast book? Um yes please! Also I hope I can go to their event when they're in town.

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch
Published by: Subterranean
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 216 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"With this long new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series. If you thought magic was confined to one country - think again. Trier: famous for wine, Romans and being Germany's oldest city. When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything. Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural. His aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork. Together with frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he quickly links the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men whose novel approach to their mid-life crisis may have reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century. As the rot spreads, literally, and the suspect list extends to people born before Frederick the Great, Tobias and Vanessa will need to find allies in some unexpected places. And to solve the case they'll have to unearth the secret magical history of a city that goes back two thousand years. Presuming that history doesn't kill them first."

A long novella is the best way to wait for the next Rivers of London book. 

Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher
Published by: Del Rey
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Chief Jim Hopper reveals long-awaited secrets to Eleven about his old life as a police detective in New York City, confronting his past before the events of the hit show Stranger Things.

Christmas, Hawkins, 1984. All Chief Jim Hopper wants is to enjoy a quiet first Christmas with Eleven, but his adopted daughter has other plans. Over Hopper’s protests, she pulls a cardboard box marked “New York” out of the basement—and the tough questions begin. Why did Hopper leave Hawkins all those years ago? What does “Vietnam” mean? And why has he never talked about New York?

Although he’d rather face a horde of demogorgons than talk about his own past, Hopper knows that he can’t deny the truth any longer. And so begins the story of the incident in New York—the last big case before everything changed....

Summer, New York City, 1977. Hopper is starting over after returning home from Vietnam. A young daughter, a caring wife, and a new beat as an NYPD detective make it easy to slip back into life as a civilian. But after shadowy federal agents suddenly show up and seize the files about a series of brutal, unsolved murders, Hopper takes matters into his own hands, risking everything to discover the truth.

Soon Hopper is undercover among New York’s notorious street gangs. But just as he’s about to crack the case, a blackout rolls across the boroughs, plunging Hopper into a darkness deeper than any he’s faced before."

If Hopper isn't your favorite character on Stranger Things I'm no longer talking to you. 

Black Badge by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins
Published by: BOOM! Studios
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 128 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An espionage series about a top-secret, elite branch of boy scouts tasked by the government to take on covert missions.

Meet the Black Badges, a top-secret branch of boy scouts tasked by the government to take on covert missions that no adult ever could. Among their organization, the Black Badges are the elite—the best of the best. The missions they’re tasked with are dangerous, and will only get worse as their leader’s attention is split between their objective and tracking down a lost team member. A member who disappeared years ago...presumed dead. Reuniting New York Times bestselling author Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) and illustrator Tyler Jenkins (Peter Panzerfaust) following their multiple Eisner Award-nominated series Grass Kings, Black Badge is a haunting look at foreign policy, culture wars, and isolationism through the lens of kids who know they must fix the world that adults have broken."

I don't know what BOOM! Studios comic I was reading when I first saw an ad for Black Badge, but I knew right away it was for me. 

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom™ is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species - formerly extinct - roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty - and what it truly means to be human."

Yes, this Westworld for YA is one of the most anticipated books this Spring!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Best Book of 2011 - Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Published by: Doubleday
Publication Date: September 13th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 387 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Hector Bowen, the stage magician better known as Prospero the Enchanter, has a secret. Every night when he packs the stalls his audience has no inkling that what they are about to see is real magic. They assume that he is just adept at illusion, never thinking that it's possibly real. After one performance in New York in 1873 Hector gets a shock, finding a young girl in his dressing room. This small child is unmistakably his own and the note pinned to her coat informs him that his lover, the girl's mother, is deceased and he must take over the charge of their child. At first he thinks it will be an encumbrance until he realizes that Celia has inherited his abilities and an idea starts to form. The great game might be played once more! For more years than he can count he has been involved in an increasingly complex challenge with the enigmatic Alexander. A.H. is also magically inclined but holds different teaching beliefs and practices than Hector. The challenge is that they must each train a competitor for the challenge, the winner supposedly proving the correct method of magical learning. Hector is convinced he can win with his own flesh and blood, whereas Alexander is sure he can pick any child off the street and train them to beat Celia. Once Alexander finds Marco in an orphanage the game is afoot.

Years pass as the two competitors train apart without any inkling of when or where the challenge will commence. But then an arena is conceived. A traveling circus, Le Cirque Des Reves, will be opening in London on the night of October 13th, 1886. Marco has insinuated himself behind the scenes as the assistant to the circus's founder, Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre, while Celia gets hired as the illusionist. The challenge is to create tents of wonder and awe in a game of one-upmanship. As the competition continues, stretching on for years, it soon becomes clear that the two of them feel adrift with only each other to relate to. Over time their moves become almost love letters to each other. Yet they have no idea what the rules are or how a winner is declared as their feelings for each other grow and they desire a decision to be made by Hector and Alexander. What is clear though is that the circus has become bigger than the two of them. While Celia and Marco maintain and expand it it has also taken on a life of it's own. When Celia finally realizes what the endgame is she sees that lives are at stake and all this beauty could be lost forever. If only there was some way to cheat. Some way to preserve the arena after the competitors have quit the stage. Some way for them both to win.

When I first devoured The Night Circus after going to an Erin Morgenstern event which was a perfect day worthy of a song in Dear Evan Hansen it instantly became one of my favorite books ever. I wanted everyone I knew to read and love it which made me suggest it to my book club. Here's a good rule of thumb, if you love something to an insane degree it's perhaps not a good idea to have all your friends read and dissect it. The more you know. This was literally the first time I realized that The Night Circus is a very polarizing, divisive book, you either love it or you hate it. And boy, did most of my book club hate it. I seriously do not get it. But then again, I just read a book that one of my fellow members views as one of his favorite books and really disliked it, so I just have to take deep breaths and remember book tastes aren't universal. We all like what we like and I'm never letting anyone in my book club read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell because I wouldn't be able to survive that betrayal. Getting down to the nitty-gritty of what most of my fellow members objected to is that they were caught up on the aesthetics of the world Erin Morgenstern built. They thought it was all about the visuals, all surface, no substance. I of course heartily disagree with this statement and am now going to illuminate why.

Yes, The Night Circus is a very visual book. There is no doubt about this. The tents, the costumes, even the food, are all described in loving detail. This visually Burton-esque world leads many to say that the book feels as if it was written for the inevitable movie adaptation. Perhaps by Tim Burton himself. Here's the thing that drivers readers and authors crazy, a book is a finished product not just something that is sitting around to be used as the basis for another art form. Yes, I love adaptations, but reading and watching are two totally different experiences. The experiences I had while reading this book could not be replicated by a movie or miniseries. I was fully immersed in this world in a way that can never be achieved by cinema, even if theaters were to bring back the disastrously kitsch idea of Smell-O-Vision. And I'm sure Erin Morgenstern wasn't sitting around going, and now lets add some more Tim Burton touches just so I can get to Hollywood! No, she was thinking, how can I make this world more immersive for my readers? How can I make it so it feels they are walking the spiraling paths of Le Cirque Des Reves with a warm cider in their hands?

In fact I think the immersive nature of the book was really ahead of it's time. Since it's publication there has been a veritable explosion in immersion events. What started out with smalls roots in LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) and Renaissance Faires has just grown and grown until every town has an escape room and conventions catering to Cosplay have exponentially expanded. It's more and more I wouldn't say acceptable, because that gives immersive events a negative connotation, but more prevalent to see people escaping into worlds of imagination than ever before. Who knows if it's a desire to leave behind the shit show that is the daily news or a way to express their creativity, but immersive events are here and they're hot and I think a lot of their popularity can be traced back to this book. The first real world experience I had with immersion was at the North American Discworld Convention, where they turned the hotel into Ankh-Morpork. For years after I was still calling certain hotel rooms names out of Discworld. But my deep dive was at TeslaCon, the Steampunk Convention held in Wisconsin every year. People created the most elaborate costumes and even personas. One year they even did The Night Circus, but in their ever scheming ways to get out of copyright, it wasn't "this" Night Circus... sure...

Moving beyond the emotive nature of the book I want to discuss a writerly technique. Throughout the book the chapters are interspersed with little experiences the viewer would have while visiting Le Cirque Des Reves. These sections are written in the second person. Here's the thing about second person, it's a very tricky POV to get right without coming off as pretentious with all the "yous." In fact when I read John Scalzi's Redshirts the codas written in first, second, and then third person drove me to really hate that book. Scalzi has since redeemed himself in my eyes, but he will never live down those codas. Never. This hatred has made me leery of anyone attempting second person and therefore I want to stand up and applaud Erin Morgenstern. You nailed it! The way you brought me and other readers into your world with just a few lines on how we would experience the world around us gave me chills. It didn't come across as pretentious in the least, it came across as a magical spell. You will feel this way when you enter the circus. You will have these experiences and marvel at the wonders. You will become a participant, not just an observer. The repeated use of "you" wasn't annoying, it created the cadence of a spell that all these years later I am still under.

And spells and magic are what it all comes down to. Going back to the argument that this book is heavy on visuals and light on plot I would counter that that is because the reader is ignorant of what has historically happened to great wizards and magicians. They often become trapped by their own skills and magical abilities. In one version of Merlin's end he is trapped in a tree. Hell, even in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell they end up trapped in Hurtview Abbey. Therefore the book leading to the binding and trapping of our leads seems a bleak ending to some, I say it's historically significant. Of course this opinion of mine was reached after several readings of The Night Circus. The first time I read it while I felt the ending was satisfying, I didn't fully get all the layered implications and callbacks. This reading what struck me most wasn't the idea of the Merlin connection and how being trapped would be fine so long as you loved who you were trapped with but the more Shakespearean angle, we do after all have a magician named Prospero who wished his daughter had been named Miranda. The quote from Hamlet seemed to apt, "I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space." Infinite space in something considered a trap by others... perhaps even a metaphor for this book and it's detractors?

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