Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Book Review - Tasha Alexander's The Adventuress

The Adventuress by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: October 13th, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Jeremy, the Duke of Bainbridge, has dedicated his life to achieving the title of the most useless man in England. He wants to live a life of semi-debauchery and avoid all the society mothers trying to snare him for their daughters. He knows he will have to wed eventually, his younger brother Jack would never forgive him if he inherited the Dukedom due to Jeremy's licentious lifestyle. But Jeremy claims his dear friend Lady Emily holds his heart, and since she is happily married, his finding connubial bliss is never going to happen. Emily sees his infatuation as nothing more than hyperbole and is proven right when Jeremy falls victim to the wiles of an American buccaneer. Amity Wells is the dream woman, she might even be more debauched than Jeremy! She knows what he needs even before he does. So what if she's a little loud, a little beyond the pale, she's the girl for Jeremy. A girl who Emily realizes she will never be friends with within minutes of meeting her. Yet Jeremy is Emily's oldest and dearest friend and for him she will make an effort. She will stick her courage to the sticking place and celebrate his engagement in the extravagant manner to which Amity is accustomed.

Amity plans a grandiose engagement party on the French Riviera with her parents footing the bill. There are excursions everyday, on land and on sea, nightly walks along La Croisette, delicious dinners, and sumptuous breakfasts. Amity even prides herself on organizing a lads night for Jeremy and his friends at the local casino where there will be dancers direct from Paris. Though that particular festivity ends differently than anyone expected, with Jeremy's friend, Chauncey Neville, dead in Jeremy's suite of an apparent suicide. Emily isn't convinced this dear, sweet man would have ended his life in such a fashion. Yet Emily's husband Colin tells her that with suicide it's not like their murder investigations, they aren't neatly wrapped up, there will always be questions which they will never know the answers to. Emily isn't sure. Even if Colin doesn't want to investigate she feels it necessary to start a discreet investigation. This will at least distract her for the forced joviality of those remaining after Mr. Neville's funeral and Amity's brother Augustus who puts her on edge. But soon weird things start to happen to discredit Emily. Could she be getting close to a truth someone wants hidden? Or does Amity just want her out of the way?

Years and years ago I became obsessed with this miniseries I kept stumbling upon on one of the higher cable channels in the middle of the night. I had no idea what it was called because I would always find it after the opening credits and would usually fall asleep before the end credits rolled. Remember, this was the nineties. Not everyone had computers they could access and find the answers they sought in an instant. As for my trusty TV Guide, well... it didn't list the higher channels in some sick game it liked to play with me where it loved to leave me in ignorance. And yes, I fully believe it was sentient and thought this was funny. Therefore I spent years in ignorance clutching to the few facts I knew. The miniseries starred Carla Gugino, the star of the Thanksgiving Pauly Shore classic Son in Law, and that the house from the Brideshead Revisited miniseries was in it. It turns out I was watching the 1995 adaptation of Edith Wharton's unfinished novel The Buccaneers. The story is about four eligible and wealthy young American girls who go to England to marry into the aristocracy. If I had known these women were called buccaneers perhaps I would have figured out the title earlier. But as it was, all I knew is I wanted to be one, despite not being the daughter of a robber barren. I could become British through an advantageous marriage! And yes, this dream is still with me.

My obsession with these young buccaneers is what enthralled me with Tasha's The Adventuress. I was getting to read a murder mystery with a buccaneer at the center, Amity Wells! Dream come true! Like Emily, there was something I instantly disliked about Amity, but at the same time I was drawn to her. The little chapters spaced between Emily's narrative showed a different side to Amity. Could Emily be an unreliable narrator in this instance? Could Amity really want to befriend Emily? Amity being so "American" as the Victorian Brits would put it left an interesting impression in my mind. She's very layered, making her a far more worthy adversary for Emily than some of her past cases gave her. This is a girl who has a secret, yet at the same time her desire for freedom and to get out from under her parents makes her almost reckless in the way she's willing to morph herself into Jeremy's perfect mate. This made me think of her as a kind of Victorian mean girl. She's outside the pack, but also setting the rules. It's an interesting dichotomy. I couldn't help thinking of her as Emma Roberts from American Horror Story or Scream Queens. She comes into any situation and can be either the ringleader or the victim depending on how she decides to play it. But underneath there's iron. She's getting her way and just playing her part to get it.

Though Amity's most interesting purpose within the story is not how she affects Emily as a person with all her Americanness, but how just her presence will forever change Emily's relationship with Jeremy. Even if Emily doesn't believe for an instant that Jeremy is hopelessly in love with her and is convinced he's using it as an excuse to avoid marriage, losing his constant attention and devotion that she is constantly plied with is a blow. She views that she is losing the Jeremy that she's always known. He's not flirting with her, he's not as attentive, he's not pissing off Colin with comments about how he and Em would make the perfect couple. In other words, his attentions are firmly on his fiance and Emily has to come to the cold hard conclusion that this annoys her. She liked being the center of Jeremy's world. She liked all the attention she was getting. Whenever she was feeling down Jeremy could boost her ego with a few remarks. And throughout the story she views this change as a negative. The fact is that Jeremy has grown up and Emily hasn't. You can see the lie clearly when Emily tells Amity that Emily's relationship with Jeremy will be in flux until it settles into the new pattern of them both being married. We've followed Emily on all her adventures and her behavior to Jeremy has never changed. Luckily for Em things turn out all right for her in the end.

But this change in Emily and Jeremy's relationship brings to the fore one very important question. Does Jeremy really love Emily? Yes, he obviously loves her as his closest and dearest friend as she does him, but could Emily be so blind that she's never realized that Jeremy is indeed in love with her? I think she is. What's more, I think Colin knows and is a bit exasperated that Emily, his astute wife who is able to see murder where everyone else sees suicide, can not see behind the flirtatious ways of Jeremy to see his real feelings are a deep and abiding love. I don't just have my observations that I've coupled with Colin's, oh no, for the first time in Amity's storyline we see how Jeremy felt about an incident that happened in A Fatal Waltz: "That kiss. That kiss. Could it be that, at last, he had found someone who could make him forget another kiss, on a cold day in Vienna? A kiss that ought never have happened, but that still consumed him, even after all these years?" He was CONSUMED by his kiss with Emily! CONSUMED! If he hadn't loved her before he obviously has been in love since that day and it makes me pity Jeremy and just want the best for him. To have a love that is never to be? He deserves some happiness. He deserves someone who loves him like Emily loves Colin. Oh, how my heart breaks for him.

And because I don't feel like ending this review on a sad "Poor Jeremy" note I'll end it on the Roman Feast that Amity was planning for the excursion to Nice and the visit to the ruins at Cimiez. Everyone was throwing themselves into this feast that would let them live in the decadent style of a Roman if just for a night. Well, everyone except Colin, who would not be caught dead in a toga, and Emily, who prefers Greece to Rome. There's a part of me that awhile back would have been all for it. I didn't know anything about Roman feasts, except vomitoriums, because obviously growing up kids remember the disgusting stuff. Within the story they mainly talk about the clothes and that eating is done while reclining, something I can never believe is good for the digestion. But I know OH so much more all thanks to Sue Perkins, Giles Coren, and their show, which used to be available on Hulu, The Supersizers. The Supersizers "went" to different time periods and "ate" different decades, and the weird title shift is what happened between season one and two. For the finale of season two they "ate" Ancient Rome. I was fully nauseated by the whole episode. Seeing as a feast might start with such "tasty" dishes as brain and rose petal patina I'm saying right now, you are NEVER getting me to EVER participate in any kind of authentic Roman Feast. You can see why Emily wants to stick to Greek foods!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Crimes of Grindelwald by J.K. Rowling
Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"At the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald was captured in New York with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escapes custody and sets about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore enlists Newt, his former Hogwarts student, who agrees to help once again, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

This second original screenplay from J.K. Rowling, illustrated with stunning line art from MinaLima, expands on earlier events that helped shape the wizarding world, with some surprising nods to the Harry Potter stories that will delight fans of both the books and films."

These books are literally treasure. The words of J.K. Rowling, the art of MinaLima, and a way to feel like the year until the movie is released on DVD isn't as long as it actually is.

Naughty on Ice by Maia Chance
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Naughty on Ice is the latest in Maia Chance’s dazzlingly fun Prohibition-era caper series featuring society matron Lola Woodby and her stalwart Swedish cook, Berta.

The Discreet Retrieval Agency is doing a brisk holiday business of retrieving lost parcels, grandmas, and stolen wreaths. But with their main squeezes Ralph and Jimmy once more on the back burner, both Lola and Berta pine for a holiday out of New York City. So when they receive a mysterious Christmas card requesting that they retrieve an antique ring at a family gathering in Maple Hill, Vermont, they jump at the chance. Sure, the card is signed Anonymous and it’s vaguely threatening, but it’s Vermont.

In Maple Hill, several estranged members of the wealthy Goddard family gather. And no sooner do Lola and Berta recover the ring―from Great-Aunt Cressida Goddard’s arthritic finger―than Mrs. Goddard goes toes-up, poisoned by her Negroni cocktail on ice. When the police arrive, Lola and Berta are caught-red-handed with the ring, and it becomes clear that they were in fact hired not for their cracker-jack retrieving abilities, but to be scapegoats for murder.

With no choice but to unmask the killer or be thrown in the slammer, Lola and Berta’s investigations lead them deep into the secrets of Maple Hill. In a breathless pursuit along a snowy ridge, with a lovelorn Norwegian ski instructor and country bumpkin hooch smugglers hot on their heels, Lola and Berta must find out once and for all who’s nice...and who’s naughty."

The popularity of this series proves I'm not the only one obsessed with 1920s sleuths!

Nobody's Sweetheart Now by Maggie Robinson
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 241 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A delightful English cozy series begins in August 1924. Lady Adelaide Compton has recently (and satisfactorily) interred her husband, Major Rupert Charles Cressleigh Compton, hero of the Somme, in the family vault in the village churchyard.

Rupert died by smashing his Hispano-Suiza on a Cotswold country road while carrying a French mademoiselle in the passenger seat. With the house now Addie's, needed improvements in hand, and a weekend house party underway, how inconvenient of Rupert to turn up! Not in the flesh, but in - actually, as a - spirit. Rupert has to perform a few good deeds before becoming welcomed to heaven - or, more likely, thinks Addie, to hell.

Before Addie can convince herself she's not completely lost her mind, a murder disrupts her careful seating arrangement. Which of her twelve houseguests is a killer? Her mother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Broughton? Her sister Cecilia, the born-again vegetarian? Her childhood friend and potential lover, Lord Lucas Waring? Rupert has a solid alibi as a ghost and an urge to detect.

Enter Inspector Devenand Hunter from the Yard, an Anglo-Indian who is not going to let some barmy society beauty witnessed talking to herself derail his investigation. Something very peculiar is afoot at Compton Court and he's going to get to the bottom of it - or go as mad as its mistress trying."

I think this book has everything that makes a perfect read in my mind; 1920s, England, cozy, yes, yes, and yes!

City of Secrets by Victoria Thompson
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An exciting new book in the series featuring woman-on-the-run Elizabeth Miles - from the beloved national bestselling author of the Gaslight Mysteries.

Elizabeth Miles knows that honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to finding justice.

Elizabeth has discovered that navigating the rules of high society is the biggest con of all. She knows she can play the game, but so far, her only success is Priscilla Knight, a dedicated young suffragist recently widowed for the second time. Her beloved first husband died in a tragic accident and left her with two young daughters - and a sizable fortune. While she was lost in grief, Priscilla's pastor convinced her she needed a man to look after her and engineered a whirlwind courtship and hasty marriage to fellow parishioner Endicott Knight. Now, about nine months later, Endicott is dead in what appears to be another terrible accident.

Everyone is whispering, but that is the least of Priscilla's troubles. She had believed Endicott was wealthy, too, but her banker tells her she has no money left and her house has been mortgaged. He also hints at a terrible scandal and refuses to help.

Priscilla stands to lose everything, and Elizabeth is determined not to let that happen. But, as always, Elizabeth walks a fine line between using her unusual talents and revealing her own scandalous past. Elizabeth soon discovers that Endicott's death was anything but accidental, and revealing the truth could threaten much more than Priscilla's finances. To save her new friend's future - and possibly her own--Elizabeth, along with her honest-to-a-fault beau, Gideon, delve into the sinister secrets someone would kill to keep."

Could we have a black widow on the loose?

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
Published by: Perfectly Proper Press
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 172 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A Courtship of Convenience:
Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He's grim and silent. A man of little emotion--or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she's ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love:
But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn't as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there's Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What's a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there'll be no false formality. This time they'll get to know each other for who they really are."

It's the time of the year to line up your holiday reading and I strongly suggest you add A Holiday by Gaslight to your list!

A Choice of Secrets by Barb Hendee
Published by: Rebel Base Books
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 218 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Ever since raiders from the north began attacking villages, Lady Nicole Montagna has known that defending her people would come at a cost. The betrothal of her sister Chloe to a neighboring lord seems the perfect solution, forging a powerful alliance. But shortly before the wedding, Nicole is shocked to discover that her sister is with child - and not by her husband-to-be. Now she must make a choice. She has just hours to decide...

Should she tell her soldier brother - who will take swift, ruthless action to ensure the family's safety?

Should she hold her tongue, let her sister deceive her husband into believing the child is his - and then hope Chloe can get away with the lie?

Should she tell her family, hoping they will know the right thing to do?

With the help of a magic mirror, Nicole lives out each path, fighting to protect herself and those she loves with the weapons she has: wits, herbs, and fortitude. But no matter her cleverness, neither she nor her family can escape unscathed - for there are repercussions she could never have foreseen, involving her own heart..."

The newest book in Hendee's A Dark Glass series.

Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
Published by: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The definitive English language translation of the internationally bestselling Russian novel - a brilliant dark fantasy with "the potential to be a modern classic" (Lev Grossman), combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.

Our life is brief...

While vacationing at the beach with her mother, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most peculiar circumstances. The teenage girl is powerless to refuse when this strange and unusual man with an air of the sinister directs her to perform a task with potentially scandalous consequences. He rewards her effort with a strange golden coin.

As the days progress, Sasha carries out other acts for which she receives more coins from Kozhennikov. As summer ends, her domineering mentor directs her to move to a remote village and use her gold to enter the Institute of Special Technologies. Though she does not want to go to this unknown town or school, she also feels it’s the only place she should be. Against her mother’s wishes, Sasha leaves behind all that is familiar and begins her education.

As she quickly discovers, the institute’s "special technologies" are unlike anything she has ever encountered. The books are impossible to read, the lessons obscure to the point of maddening, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, their families pay a terrible price. Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of...and suddenly all she could ever want.

A complex blend of adventure, magic, science, and philosophy that probes the mysteries of existence, filtered through a distinct Russian sensibility, this astonishing work of speculative fiction - brilliantly translated by Julia Meitov Hersey - is reminiscent of modern classics such as Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Max Barry’s Lexicon, and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, but will transport them to a place far beyond those fantastical worlds."

I saw one review that said it was The Magicians meets The Historian and I INSTANTLY sold!

Limetown by Cote Smith
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the creators of the #1 podcast Limetown, an explosive prequel about a teenager who learns of a mysterious research facility where over three hundred people have disappeared - including her uncle - with clues that become the key to discovering the secrets of this strange town.

On a seemingly ordinary day, seventeen-year-old Lia Haddock hears news that will change her life forever: three hundred men, women, and children living at a research facility in Limetown, Tennessee, have disappeared without a trace. Among the missing is Emile Haddock, Lia’s uncle.

What happened to the people of Limetown? It’s all anyone can talk about. Except Lia’s parents, who refuse to discuss what might have happened there. They refuse, even, to discuss anything to do with Emile.

As a student journalist, Lia begins an investigation that will take her far from her home, discovering clues about Emile’s past that lead to a shocking secret - one with unimaginable implications not only for the people of Limetown, but for Lia and her family. The only problem is...she’s not the only one looking for answers.

Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie are first-rate storytellers, in every medium. Critics called their podcast Limetown “creepy and otherworldly” (The New York Times) and “endlessly fun” (Vox), and their novel goes back to where it all began. Working with Cote Smith, a PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Finalist, they’ve crafted an exhilarating mystery that asks big questions about what we owe to our families and what we owe to ourselves, about loss, discovery, and growth. Threaded throughout is Emile’s story—told in these pages for the first time ever."

I love that podcasts are now becoming more tangible through books.

The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Kindle, 383 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"'Now we are bound forever,' she says, her eyes determined. 'I will never tell anyone, I swear. This is between you and me. Now you swear too.'

They called them the Orchid Girls. Grace. Molly. Charlotte.

One of them is in love. One of them is a liar. One of them is dead.

On a jagged Dorset cliff, wind whipping their hair, waves crashing on the rocks below, three friends became two when Charlotte’s body was pulled out of the sea.

Fifteen years later Grace and Molly are worlds apart. Grace has a glittering career and a loving husband. Molly is a lonely, unemployed alcoholic. Grace has everything to lose. Molly has nothing.

They have moved on from the tragic accident that shadowed their childhood. But somewhere lies a photograph waiting to be unearthed - waiting to reveal a secret one of the Orchid Girls is desperate to keep hidden..."

Hidden secrets that will out? YAS!

Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature by Margriet Ruurs and Robert Bateman
Published by: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 40 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Celebrated artist Robert Bateman is renowned internationally for bringing the natural  world to life on the canvas. A naturalist and painter from his youth, Robert has for decades used his recognition to shed light on environmental issues and advocate for animal welfare.

Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature is the story of how a young child achieved his dream of painting the world around him and became one of Canada's most famous artists.

Using Robert's own personal photographs, sketches and artwork, author Margriet Ruurs weaves a simple story of inspiration and encouragement. A story to motivate all the budding artists and naturalists in your life, with proceeds benefiting The Bateman Foundation."

Robert Bateman, besides being a family friend, is in my mind the best wildlife artist there is. Hands down.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Story Review - Tasha Alexander's Star of the East

Star of the East by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Macmillan
Publication Date: October 28th, 2014
Format: Kindle, 65 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Emily prefers to avoid her mother as much as possible. As the holidays near her and Colin are of a mind to stay as far away from Kent and Darnley House as possible. Only this time Countess Catherine Bromley’s invitation is backed by the weight of the Queen who has requested Colin to go and that causes Colin concern. Emily's mother is hosting the Maharaja Ala Kapur Singh and his family. The maharaja was recently awarded the Order of the Star of India from Queen Victoria and will be spending Christmas itself with the Queen at Osborne House. So why would the Queen want Colin at Darnley House? Emily and Colin dutifully pack themselves and all three of their boys off to Kent. The house party, despite being a lavish affair with Christmas trees in every room and a feast the Countess views as worthy of the subcontinent, is rather small, being made up of the maharaja, his maharani Parsan, his two children, 18 year old marriage obsessed Sunita, and Oxford student Ranjit who brings his best friend Ned, and a few select neighbors. Everything seems to be perfect, even the fresh blanket of snow outside. Though that night the valuable, and cursed, diamond maang tika, the Star of the East, and it's companion golden bangle engraved with words of a spell of protection is taken from Sunita's room. Could the Queen have predicted this and sent Colin to avoid a scandal? Or is there another reason he and Emily were needed at Darnley House?

Tasha knows how to spin the perfect Christmas yarn for the anglophile in us all. A missing jewel, a narrow suspect pool, and all the possible culprits gathered around a Christmas tree in the proper drawing room waiting for Emily to do her version of the Agatha Christie denouement. But it's that cursed jewel that really has my heart going pitter-patter. Tasha has always included literature and authors of the day in Emily's stories, from Mary Elizabeth Braddon to Charles Dickens. In fact I've always felt that her work holds a bit of a debt to a friend of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, especially in Emily's second adventure, A Poisoned Season. Therefore to have Tasha do a full out homage to Collins's The Moonstone while also bringing back my favorite thief introduced in Emily's second adventure, Sebastian Capet, I couldn't have been happier. Though it's not just the fascinating story of how the Star or the East was cursed and then made wearable by it's companion bangle alone that made me so happy while simultaneously giving me a chill down my spin. Oh no, I have always had a love of India. I don't know it this is an offshoot of me being such an anglophile, but there's something about India that has always drawn me in. Therefore seeing the maharaja's family talking about their culture and heritage while set in a very traditional British tale made me happier than I could have thought. But isn't Christmas all about happiness?

Well, we hope Christmas is all about happiness, usually it's about familial guilt trips and bad memories. While Emily's struggles with her mother have been a continuing theme throughout this series I think that Star of the East, being set at her family's estate, gives us much more insight in one go then we've been able to string together over the course of the previous nine volumes. The story about how when her mother learned of Emily's terror of the "Chinese" bedroom that she vowed that Emily would be placed there once out of the nursery shows how controlling the Countess is. That she would be willing to scar a child to make them stronger makes me shudder. Luckily for Emily she had her father on hand, who is the Mr. Bennet of the lot. He was able, through the clever placement of his mother in the Chinese bedroom, to help Emily without incurring too much of his wife's wrath. You can see why Emily clings to the love and life she has formed with Colin. The joy her children give her, even Henry who is a bit of a troublemaker, is wonderful. She has created the life and family she wanted despite her upbringing. Contrasting Emily's past with Sunita's future is almost heartbreaking. For Emily to see a family, one who is very traditional, willing to embrace their daughter and her dreams once they realize how much it matters? Well, it's wonderful for Sunita, and more than a little sad for Emily.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Book Review - Tasha Alexander's The Counterfeit Heiress

The Counterfeit Heiress by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: October 14th, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

At a masquerade ball there are bound to be people dressed in similar costumes. A plethora of Cleopatras and Queen Elizabeths and Valkyries are to be expected. But Emily didn't expect another goddess of the hunt at the masked ball at Devonshire House. Let alone one who would cause a scene. Estella Lamar has supposedly stopped her gallivanting around the globe and eschewing the company of her peers by deigning to come to the Devonshire's ball in honor of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. But there's only one problem, beyond the fact she is dressed like Emily, she is not Estella Lamar! Emily's dear friend Cecile in full Marie Antoinette regalia, boat firmly in coiffure, is perhaps the only person Estella is in contact with, aside from the newspapers, as she journeys to the far flung corners of the globe, and Cecile quite clearly says that this Estella is an imposter! The ersatz Estella flees only to be found dead hours later on the banks of the Thames. The Duke of Devonshire contacts Emily's husband Colin to request that he investigates and to make sure this doesn't connect back to the ball. Soon Colin and Emily are on the case and are shocked to find that the victim is a rather respectable midwife, Mary Darby, who had aspirations of being an actress. So how did she end up at the event of the season impersonating a known recluse?

The more they look into Mary's murder the more they realize that Mary isn't the key, Estella is. Estella left France years previously after the death of her parents to see the pyramids and never looked back. Since then she has never returned to any of her three homes despite them all being kept in constant readiness of her arrival. In fact none of her employees have seen her since she left for Egypt! Yet her picture is always in the newspapers at some famous location. Or is it? Her face is never visible so it could be anyone so long as they have the right measurements... Emily begins to worry that her friend Cecile will be in for some heartbreaking news the further they follow the leads. Leads that take them across the channel to Paris where they make Cecile's house the center of their operations. They interrogate lawyers, dressmakers, printers, photographers, journalists, florists, and servants aplenty. But the only true clue they have is that they are chasing someone with a fondness for Dickens. Leaving names like Magwitch from Great Expectations and Swiveller from The Old Curiosity Shop in their wake as a type of calling card. Could this person be the auburn haired man with the magnificent mustache trailing Emily? Who knows. As time goes on it's harder to remember that they are there to find Mary's killer and not solve the mystery of Estella... But who says they can't solve both?

The more you read about wealthy families and their proclivities the more you realize it's a very thin line between eccentricity and illness which is blurred all the more depending on how much money is involved. Estella is a recluse with money, therefore her dislike of society and her habits that might seem rude to others Cecile is able to lump under the umbrella of eccentricity no matter what Emily thinks. So what if Estella left dinner before dessert? Who are we to judge if she hates people dropping in unannounced? If her best friends are dolls whom she tells stories to for hours on end should we really judge? Does it matter that much that all her houses are kept in readiness if she never plans on visiting them so long as the servants are paid? What would raise eyebrows among those of more modest means are easily forgiven by Estella's peers. Instead of seeing these habits as spiraling to some sad fate she is left to her own whims because of her monetary protection. There is almost an elegance to the madness of those with means and I can't help thinking of my Great-Grandmother Mildred Martin. Her husband was a prominent politician, lawyer, and judge in Wisconsin, while she left the raising of my grandmother to other family members and spent about forty years in her room, which she never left. Yet this was just viewed as how it was. One wonders in Mildred's case, much like Estella's, if things could have been different...

Yet Cecile shows us that Paris is far more forgiving of eccentricities than other cities. They thrive on their Bohemian artists and outsiders. Paris is a place unlike anywhere else and while Emily did spend some time in Paris during her first adventure, And Only to Deceive, the city didn't feel as real as it does in this volume. While it could be Tasha's abilities as a writer maturing over eight installments, which they have, I also have to give credit to the two locations that made this volume, the Père Lachaise Cemetery and the Catacombs of Paris. While this could be considered by some as macabre bordering on making Paris the "City of the Dead" as it where I think it's more fascinating then ghoulish, like Parisians's obsession with Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol. But then again I am a girl who loves her true crime... What resonated with me was how these actual cities of the dead connect Paris to it's past and how one is there to honor the dead, so long as you're willing to keep your end of the bargain and pay for the upkeep, while the other is there to make a titillating show of death. To concentrate on the more sensational side of death with the Catacombs, I'd never known how they were used basically as a body dump for those ousted from places like Père Lachaise and that they were actually designed to be something out of a Guillermo del Toro daydream. The more you know!

Paris is also interesting in that while it is a city that celebrates it's history it is also willing to tear it down for the good of advancement. This fascinating dichotomy can be seen in this book by the discussion of two different art forms that I love. At the Devonshire ball there is a famous photographer, Mr. Lafayette, recording all the costumes for posterity. I just adore that this modern technology was used to capture this moment in history. Following Emily into his studio reminded me of how much I am fascinated by the history of photography, from the Civil War through to the Cottingley Fairies to even our modern obsession with selfies. Photography was and is an art form that was just at the cusp of it's heyday when Queen Victoria was celebrating her diamond jubilee. Whereas this is countered with printers in France. And don't you dare say typography isn't an art, because it so is! The current resurgence in letterpress is a sign that this form of artistic expression, while some might view it as outdated, is really classical and important to the history of not just books, but graphic design. I couldn't help being fascinated by an argument that French printers kept coming back to in Emily's investigation. Everyone has heard the current argument of one or two spaces behind a period, and at this time it was two for English typesetting, but in France it was a space on either side of the punctuation, making my graphic designer friends scream about floating punctuation. But just this little insight made the book that much more real and tangible to me.

Though it's actually the references to another author, not all the technology, art, or intricately arranged femurs and skulls with a slight wink to Indiana Jones, that really made this feel like a book written just for me. I'm talking about the Dickens of it all! I love that our villain uses Dickens in a way that isn't just a smokescreen for their real identity, but as a way to clue Emily, or any other Dickens aficionado, to their real motives. By using the name of Magwitch from Great Expectations, our villain is trying to make a statement while assuaging their own guilt, that while they might be a villain, like Magwitch, the proceeds of the villainy is going to serve the greater good. In the Dickens book that would be to fund Pip's lifestyle and education, but here, here by finding out what Magwitch is doing with their ill gotten gains proves the answer to the riddle of Estella. This integration of one author's work into another's is meta goodness. Think of it as a more historically accurate version of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books. I personally think this is just bloody brilliant, and now have started thinking if you could actually do it with other authors in a similar way. They would have to be popular in order to not be obscure... but then again, our villain might have just been doing it for his own fun. And mine. Because seriously, it entertained me to no end.

But in extrapolating the idea of using a popular author to entertain the masses or just using an author to entertain oneself Tasha does have a reference that most likely her loyal readers will get but those unfamiliar with authors whom Tasha loves to read and recommend, well it would have gone over their head. I'm talking about the Elizabeth Peters Easter Egg cleverly buried in The Counterfeit Heiress. Elizabeth Peters is the pen name of Barbara Mertz under which she wrote her wonderful Amelia Peabody series. The series, recommended to me by both Lauren Willig AND Tasha, is a wonderful twenty volumes of Egyptological romps starring Amelia Peabody and her husband Emerson and their friends and family as they catch master criminals and excavate priceless artifacts. If you haven't checked out this series, please do, you will not be disappointed. The third book in the series, The Mummy Case, has the hilariously named Baroness von Hohensteinbauergrunewald. The Baroness happens to have a cameo in passing in our story. Cecile and Emily go to Le Meurice, a hotel that Emily loves, and where they hope to find Estella, instead they find out the Baroness has just checked out, a fact that they both lament. Who wouldn't want to meet a lady with that name or that reputation? Ah, this just makes me want to read The Mummy Case all over again... there are just too many books to read let alone re-read!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

A Shot in the Dark by Lynne Truss
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A wryly entertaining new crime novel from Lynne Truss, New York Times bestselling author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

It's 1957, and the famed theater critic A. S. Crystal has come to the British seaside resort of Brighton with something other than the local production of A Shilling in the Meter on his mind. Sitting in the Brighton Royal Theater with Constable Twitten, Crystal intends to tell the detective the secret he knows about the still-unsolved Aldersgate Stick-Up case of 1945. And yet, just before Crystal names the criminal mastermind involved, he's shot dead in his seat.

With a new murder case on his hands and a lazy captain at the helm of the police department, the keen and clever Constable Twitten and his colleague Sargent Jim Brunswick set out to solve the decade-old mystery of the Aldersgate Stick-Up. As the partners venture deep into the criminal underworld that lies beneath Brighton's holiday-happy veneer, they begin to discover a criminal conspiracy that dates back decades. But will Brunswick and Twitten be able to foil the mastermind, or will Crystal's death become just another unsolved crime in this seemingly peaceful seaside city?

With her characteristic wit, New York Times bestselling author Lynne Truss introduces readers to a cast of eccentric policeman and scheming criminals in a drolly delightful mystery you won't want to miss."

While stateside Lynne is mainly know for grammar, you'd be missing a great writer if you never checked out her fiction!

The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith
Published by: Pantheon
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this latest installment of the beloved and best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Precious Ramotswe finds herself running for office - much to her dismay.

When Mma Potokwane suggests to Mma Ramotswe that she run for a seat on the Gaborone City Council, Mma Ramotswe is at first reluctant. But when she learns that developers plan to build the flashy Big Fun Hotel next to a graveyard, she allows herself to be persuaded. Her opponent is none other than Mma Makutsi’s old nemesis, Violet Sephotho, who is in the pocket of the hotel developers. Although Violet is intent on using every trick in the book to secure her election, Mma Ramotswe refuses to guarantee anything beyond what she can deliver; hence her slogan: “I can’t promise anything—but I shall do my best.”

Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe has acquired a new client: one of her late father’s old friends, who was the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Charlie volunteers to be the lead investigator in the case to prove he’s ready to be more than an apprentice, as well as to impress a new girlfriend. With Charlie’s inquiries landing him in hot water and Election Day fast approaching, Mma Ramotswe will have to call upon her good humor and gen­erosity of spirit to help the community navigate these thorny issues, and to prove that honesty and compassion will always carry the day."

The obligatory push for you to start reading Alexander McCall Smith.

An Unexplained Death by Mikita Brottman
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An Unexplained Death is an obsessive investigation into a mysterious death at the Belvedere - a once-grand hotel - and a poignant, gripping meditation on suicide and voyeurism.

“The poster is new. I notice it right away, taped to a utility pole. Beneath the word ‘Missing,’ printed in a bold, high-impact font, are two sepia-toned photographs of a man dressed in a bow tie and tux.”

Most people would keep walking. Maybe they’d pay a bit closer attention to the local news that evening. Mikita Brottman spent ten years sifting through the details of the missing man’s life and disappearance, and his purported suicide by jumping from the roof of her own apartment building, the Belvedere.

As Brottman delves into the murky circumstances surrounding Rey Rivera’s death - which begins to look more and more like a murder - she contemplates the nature of and motives behind suicide, and uncovers a haunting pattern of guests at the Belvedere, when it was still a historic hotel, taking their own lives on the premises. Finally, she fearlessly takes us to the edge of her own morbid curiosity and asks us to consider our own darker impulses and obsessions."

Your latest true crime obsession.

The Splendor Before the Dark by Margaret George
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 592 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Ascending to the throne was only the beginning... Now Margaret George, the author of The Confessions of Young Nero, weaves a web of politics and passion, as ancient Rome's most infamous emperor cements his place in history.

With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural splendor. Although he has yet to produce an heir, his power is unquestioned.

But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero's complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace - and the politicians...

For better or worse, Nero knows that his fate is now tied to Rome's - and he vows to rebuild it as a city that will stun the world. But there are those who find his rampant quest for glory dangerous. Throughout the empire, false friends and spies conspire against him, not understanding what drives him to undertake the impossible.

Nero will either survive and be the first in his family to escape the web of betrayals that is the Roman court, or be ensnared and remembered as the last radiance of the greatest dynasty the world had ever known."

Is this the first Margaret George sequel ever? I have a feeling it technically is!

Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar
Published by: Tachyon Publications
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Lior Tirosh is a semi-successful author of pulp fiction, an inadvertent time traveler, and an ongoing source of disappointment to his father.

Tirosh has returned to his homeland in East Africa. But Palestina - a Jewish state founded in the early 20th century - has grown dangerous. The government is building a vast border wall to keep out African refugees. Unrest in Ararat City is growing. And Tirosh’s childhood friend, trying to deliver a warning, has turned up dead in his hotel room.

A state security officer has now identified Tirosh as a suspect in a string of murders. A rogue agent is stalking Tirosh through transdimensional rifts - possible futures that can only be prevented by avoiding the mistakes of the past.

From the bestselling author of Central Station comes an extraordinary new novel recalling China Miéville and Michael Chabon, entertaining and subversive in equal measures."

Sounds like Thursday Next mixed with Historical Fiction, otherwise known as my kind of book!

The Omega Objection by Gail Carriger
Published by: GAIL CARRIGER LLC
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 315 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Every night Isaac wonders if the next shifter in his bar will be the werewolf sent to kill him.

The supernatural creatures of San Francisco love to visit Isaac the bartender. They never ask why they're drawn to him or why he has no scent. Until Tank.

Tank is always subservient to his pack and its needs, so when asked to take a side job as a bouncer, he's there. Then he meets Isaac. The man is an enigma - odorless, ridiculously sexy, and terrified.

Can Tank prove to Isaac that sometimes there are monsters worth running toward?

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, brings you this charming gay romance featuring a gentle giant with a trampled heart and a man desperate to escape his past. Be warned, the San Andreas Shifter stories contain bad language, dirty deeds, and outright admiration for the Bay Area. Not for the faint of heart or tongue."

I am WAY behind in my Gail reading... time to catch up!

The Wellspring Trilogy: The Crystal Key by Robert Gronewold
Published by: Chapterhouse Publishing
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 350 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The sun has not shone in over a thousand years. Sixteen year old Felicity lives in a world where the Dark rules. Humanity stays to the Wellsprings, illuminated swathes of land where the light of eternal fountains keeps the skies bright all day long. But beyond that, the world is wrapped in eternal shadows, filled with monstrous Horrors who pray on the unsuspecting. When Felicity discovers that she is a Turnkey, a guardian selected to protect the Wellsprings, her life unexpectedly changes. Not only is she gifted with a magical Key with amazing abilities, but her fate soon takes her deep into the Dark, where with the help of a mysterious boy named Tobin she must survive astonishing odds. For it is soon that the Horrors begin hunting her, and a race to get home is only the beginning of her worries."

Like an extra magical Dark City.

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen
Published by: Tachyon Publications
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Fantasy icon Jane Yolen (The Devil’s Arithmetic, Briar Rose, Sister Emily’s Lightship) is adored by generations of readers of all ages. Now she triumphantly returns with this inspired gathering of fractured fairy tales and legends. Yolen breaks open the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets: a philosophical bridge that misses its troll, a spinner of straw as a falsely accused moneylender, the villainous wolf adjusting poorly to retirement. Each of these offerings features a new author note and original poem, illuminating tales that are old, new, and brilliantly refined."

Because everyone likes fairy tales reinterpreted right?

The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis
Published by: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Silke has always been good at spinning the truth and storytelling. So good that, just years after arriving in the kingdom as a penniless orphan, she has found her way to working for the most splendid chocolate makers in the city as a master promoter. Although Silke loves her work at the Chocolate Heart, she's certain it's not going to last, and what Silke wants more than anything is somewhere to call home--somewhere safe. But when your best friend is a dragon-turned-hot-tempered-girl, trouble is always right around the corner.

Then Silke gets the opportunity she's been waiting for: the Crown Princess personally asks her to spy on the Elfenwald royal family during their first visit to the kingdom. In return, Silke will have the home she's always wanted in the secure palace. But Silke has her own dark, secret reasons for not trusting fairies...and her mission isn't as simple as she hoped. Soon, she discovers that her city is in danger--and that maybe it's more her home than she ever realized.

Can Silke find out the truth about the fairies while keeping her own secrets hidden?"

I first read and loved Stephanie's work for Regency Magic and I look forward to each new release!

Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken? by Kelly Jones
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"This laugh-out-loud sequel to Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer has EVEN MORE MAGIC CHICKENS!

Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown is finally settling into her new home and her new role as keeper of some highly unusual chickens - chickens with secret superpowers!

But the arrival of two new magical chickens for her flock and some unusual eggs to be incubated and hatched (what will their superpowers be?), plus an impending inspection from the Unusual Poultry Committee (who even knew this existed?) has Sophie feeling pretty stressed out. Her older cousin, Lupe, is coming to stay with her family, which is great - but will Lupe like chickens too? And on top of it all, Sophie's first day at her new school is rapidly approaching!

In this wildly funny and quirky novel told in letters and lists and quizzes, Sophie learns that even an exceptional poultry farmer can use some help."

Another fabulous author I found due to my love of Regency Magic. PS I also love chickens.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
Published by: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other’s worst nightmare.
Nova’s double life is about to get a lot more complicated:

As Insomnia, she is a full-fledged member of the Renegades, a syndicate of powerful and beloved superheroes. She works with Adrian’s patrol unit to protect the weak and maintain order in Gatlon City.

As Nightmare, she is an Anarchist - a group of of villains who are determined to destroy the Renegades. Nova wants vengeance against the so-called heroes who once failed her when she needed them most.

But as Nova, her feelings for Adrian are deepening, despite the fact that he is the son of her sworn enemies and, unbeknownst to Nova, he has some dangerous secrets of his own.

In this second installment of the Renegades trilogy, Nova, Adrian, and the rest of their crew - Ruby, Oscar, and Danna - are faced with escalating crime in Gatlon City, while covert weapons and conflicting missions have Nova and Adrian questioning not only their beliefs about justice, but also the feelings they have for each other.

The line between good and evil has been blurred, but what's clear to them both is that too much power could mean the end of their city - and the world - as they know it."

I might have been looking so forward to this book that I thought it came out last week as was really confused at the bookstore...

Born to be Posthumous by Mark Dery
Published by: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 512 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The definitive biography of Edward Gorey, the eccentric master of macabre nonsense.

From The Gashlycrumb Tinies to The Doubtful Guest, Edward Gorey's wickedly funny and deliciously sinister little books have influenced our culture in innumerable ways, from the works of Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman to Lemony Snicket. Some even call him the Grandfather of Goth.

But who was this man, who lived with over twenty thousand books and six cats, who roomed with Frank O'Hara at Harvard, and was known--in the late 1940s, no less--to traipse around in full-length fur coats, clanking bracelets, and an Edwardian beard? An eccentric, a gregarious recluse, an enigmatic auteur of whimsically morbid masterpieces, yes--but who was the real Edward Gorey behind the Oscar Wildean pose?

He published over a hundred books and illustrated works by Samuel Beckett, T.S. Eliot, Edward Lear, John Updike, Charles Dickens, Hilaire Belloc, Muriel Spark, Bram Stoker, Gilbert & Sullivan, and others. At the same time, he was a deeply complicated and conflicted individual, a man whose art reflected his obsessions with the disquieting and the darkly hilarious.

Based on newly uncovered correspondence and interviews with personalities as diverse as John Ashbery, Donald Hall, Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, and Anna Sui, Born to be Posthumous draws back the curtain on the eccentric genius and mysterious life of Edward Gorey."

I know you're like me and need more Edward Gorey in your life. ALWAYS.

Hedy Lamarr: An Incredible Life by William Roy and Sylvain Dorange
Published by: Humanoids
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 176 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Hollywood icon by day, unsung science genius by night, Hedy Lamarr, the biography of "the Most Beautiful Woman in the World." From a childhood filled with curiosity and ambition despite the stereotypes imposed on her, to an abusive marriage that she ingeniously escaped from, to finding her way to stardom in the City of Angels in the face of rampant sexism and harassment, Hedy Lamarr would not only become a glamorous star of the Golden Age of Hollywood, alongside icons like Judy Garland and Clark Gable, but also an unparalleled inventor. She would fashion designs to revolutionize the planes built by Howard Hughes, and come up with a secret communication system that helped the Allies against the Nazis, a technology that would become the blueprint for what we know today as Wi-Fi. A visionary that never feared going after her goals and defied convention at every turn, Hedy Lamarr was a true woman of wonder."

Hedy is everywhere this days, even here!

Whose Boat Is This Boat? by Donald J. Trump (by Accident)
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 24 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"100% of The Late Show’s proceeds from this book go to hurricane relief.

Whose Boat Is This Boat? Comments That Don’t Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane is a picture book made entirely of quotations from President Donald Trump in the wake of Hurricane Florence. It is the first children’s book that demonstrates what not to say after a natural disaster.

On September 19, 2018, Donald Trump paid a visit to New Bern, North Carolina, one of the towns ravaged by Hurricane Florence. It was there he showed deep concern for a boat that washed ashore. “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal,” said President Trump to hurricane victims. “Have a good time!” he told them. The only way his comments would be appropriate is in the context of a children’s book—and now you can experience them that way, thanks to the staff of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Whose Boat Is This Boat? is an excellent teaching tool for readers of all ages who enjoy learning about empathy by process of elimination. Have a good time!"

I'm all for helping people while our present hurts them, but the graphic designer in me just wants to say how awesome a parody of a Mo Willems book this is! 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Book Review - Tasha Alexander's Behind the Shattered Glass

Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: October 15th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Emily and Colin are rusticating and recuperating at Colin's ancestral home Anglemore Park in Derbyshire after the birth of their twins. Aside from a few staffing issues involving their ward Tom their calm is only strained by the continued presence of Emily's mother, Lady Catherine Bromley, and her opinions on child rearing. After another torturous night en famille the calm is finally shattered when a man staggers through the French doors and drops down dead on the Axminster. Thanks to Lady Bromley's obsession with the aristocracy she quickly identifies the victim as the new Marquess of Montagu, Archibald Scolfield, who just happens to be Emily and Colin's neighbor. Emily rushes to Montagu Manor to deliver the tragic news to Archibald's cousin and Emily's acquaintance Matilda who is holding a party for her now deceased cousin. But could Matilda have had a motive for killing Archibald? She inherited all her grandfather's money but the title and the ancestral seat went to Archibald. Could this have strained their cordial relationship? Once Colin convinces the police to let him handle the investigation he vows they will get to the bottom of this crime.

As Emily and Colin dig into Archibald's life his character isn't as upstanding as one would assume. He had two fiancees, one an American buccaneer, Miss Sturdevant, the other the daughter of the local vicar, Miss Cora Fitzgerald. His rapacious attitude toward women might have been the reason for a scandal at Oxford. He ruined his best friend, Mr. Porter, with plagiarism accusations after they toured the continent together. And as for Matilda, who thought she was next in line for the title, in walks Rodney, the heir apparent, a treasure hunter who might be from the wrong side of the sheets. With everyone having a motive and more than a few of them lying Emily and Colin have their job cut out for them. And while they are trying to come to grips with this horrendous crime they have romance blooming under their own roof as their house guest, Simon Lancaster, Earl Flyte, seems to have fallen for their housemaid Lily. Things are precarious enough with a murderer on the loose but a romance crossing classes might be the final straw for everyone.

Every Anglophile of a certain age can trace the origins of their affliction to PBS airing Upstairs, Downstairs in the 1970s. I myself am a second generation sufferer with my parents indoctrinating me throughout my childhood until the whole series became available on DVD and the binge watching commenced. In fact I'd go so far as to say that Downton Abbey succeeded because it tapped into this need of American Anglophiles to root for the denizens of a grand manor house from both sides of the baize door. Behind the Shattered Glass is a break, pun intended, from Tasha's other Lady Emily books in that her secondary story isn't letters, diaries, or correspondence, but a view behind the baize door. We are seeing Emily and Colin from the POV of the servants. But more than that we are a party to their trials and tribulations, their loves and their animosities, we are finally seeing Cook in the kitchen instead of her sending up a menu. Davis the butler isn't just proffering port he's holding court in his chambers. There is just so much more that happens in houses of this period that for the first time in this series we're getting a complete picture instead of just a view upstairs.

While I have seen a few reviews critical of this installment saying the narrative is constricted I would like to firmly refute that by saying a more focused narrative doesn't mean a more constricted narrative. Just look to Gosford Park! A long weekend, a murder, and all the suspects available to us which is the bedrock of so many British mysteries and is a movie I could watch again and again. And much like Gosford Park, Behind the Shattered Glass shines a light on the issues that arise when those from the two different levels of the house interact. This is a powerful book to read in the #MeToo movement because it deals with many facets of consent. Not just sexual consent, though that is the core of this book not just with Archibald Scolfield's predilections when he is away from home, but the burgeoning relationship between Simon and Lily and how they navigate a relationship when one member is viewed as having all the power. But also consent to access someone's personal space. I know Lady Emily is involved in a dire investigation when she searches the servants rooms, but at the same time, it sat badly with me. She was wielding her power over her servants and not being the enlightened employer, showing that even Emily can occasionally stumble.

Which brings everything back to Colin's argument against aristocracy and why he keeps refusing to accept a title from the Queen. Who is anyone to set themselves up as better than their fellow man? Just because they treat their servants well at Anglemore doesn't mean that these people should be stuck being servants forever. There's almost this idolatry going on at Anglemore where all the servants drank the Kool-Aid and just love their work making everything perfect for their masters. What's more they view them as their betters! Hard, physical labor, and yet they love it because they are given basic humane conditions in which to live? This here is showing how the class system really started to fall apart and how the era of the grand country houses would implode. This era needed to end because it wasn't glorious or wonderful, it was hard work that for some is soul crushing. Just look to kitchen maid Prudence! She is miserable and I think she more accurately depicts what life was truly like downstairs. You are cut off from family and friends and work so that others can just live the idle life. Yes, this might be harsh on Lady Emily and the dream of Downton Abbey, but it's the truth!

Which brings me back to Pru. I literally spent the entire book hating her, because there's always that one servant that you hate, hello Thomas Barrow, meet your new BFF since O'Brien fled the coop, Pru! Though I doubt Thomas would talk to her, a kitchen maid being so far below a footman... But there it is, Pru is our Thomas, we are meant to hate her, yet by the end you see her more fully, more clearly, and pity should be your only feeling. She is what the class system made her. For comparison, whenever someone asks me "why are you angry" I think, hang on, I wasn't angry until you insinuated I was and therefore you made me what you thought of me. Pru has been made to be bitter and spiteful! So going back to those critics who call Behind the Shattered Glass constricted, no, it's not, it's you who have a constricted mind. You are unable to see how Tasha is exploring all these different angles of what it means to be a servant and what it means to be a master and how there's not just a symbiotic relationship there but a duty of care, actually in both directions. To say a book that is grappling with all these rather weighty issues isn't dealing with enough I just think you, whomever you are, need to open your mind.

But in today's America a closed mind is more common than an open one and we women, well, we are facing some scary realities. Our rights are in peril so it's nice to look back on historical context and precedent and think, at least we got from there to here so if we have to keep fighting we can. Also, please, go out and vote next week! Back to the book... it's interesting to see historical precedent which occasionally favors women. Because titles going down the male line is total BS. With Matilda it makes sense that she would want her family's title, not just because she was closest to her grandfather, but because she is for women's suffrage. She's Lady Emily on speed. She's throwing bricks and taking names versus trying to gently persuade. So much of this book is showing that change was needed and change was coming but it needed people like Matilda and Emily and Lily and even Pru for that change to happen. A man isn't always right and a patriarchy isn't always the right way. An episode of Magnum, P.I. I was watching the other day had a bumper sticker that said "The right man for the job is a wo-man." Now, I'm not going all militant feminist here, all I want is equality. Therefore can we hear it for Marchioness Matilda? Even if Queen Victoria wouldn't agree.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Book Review - Tasha Alexander's Death in the Floating City

Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Minotaur
Publication Date: October 16th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

As a child there is always that one person whom you are thrust into a relationship with because of your parents. The greatest joy of growing up is that there comes a time when you no longer have to associate with them and can relegate them to your past. Which is exactly what Emily did with Emma Callum. Emma ran off with an Italian Duke and Emily never thought of her again. Until Emma reached out for help. She had heard of Emily's success in solving crimes and is in desperate need of her assistance. Stranded in Venice Emma doesn't even speak Italian and her father-in-law Conte Barozzi has gone and gotten himself murdered and her husband Paolo is missing. If there was ever a time for Emily's help it is now. But even murder can't fully change someone and as Emma flirts with Emily's husband Colin instead of answering their questions Emily wonders if it was wise to help her old nemesis. Though Emily and her husband are professionals and they will do the job asked of them despite the hindrance of Emma. Their first clue is a ring that was found on the Conte's body and a historian is needed.

Luckily when they arrived in Venice a note was waiting at their hotel from a local scholar turned bookseller inquiring after the ring. Emily is hoping Signore Caravello can help answer a few questions as to the ring's provenance. With his magnifying glass he finds two initials next to the maker's mark, BB and NV. Because the ring was found in the possession of a Barozzi, it's assumed that this belonged to some relative. Emily, now with the help of Singnore Caravello's daughter Donata, searches for this relative and finds Besina, who lived in the 15th century. Yet their one hope of confirming her as the ring's owner is dashed when the painting that just might have shown her wearing it is vandalized. What's more the Barozzis sworn enemies, the Vendelinos, swear that the ring is theirs and has been missing for centuries. Soon Emily and Colin are juggling not just a murder, but valuable missing books, a possibly forgotten legacy, a medium whose reputation was destroyed, the Conte's probable mistress and her jealous husband, and most disturbing of all, a person dressed as a plague doctor following Emily through the canals of Venice. Yet the crucial question is, can they solve the crime in the present by finding out what happen to Besina all those years ago?

There is a plethora of books set in Venice, and the truth is the setting doesn't make the book but a well written book can make the setting, forever linking the two in your mind. Death in the Floating City perfectly fits into the pantheon of books set in Venice that were instant classics for me, from Daphne Du Maurier's Don't Look Now to Mary Robinette Kowal's Valour and Vanity to Susanna Clark's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. These are all books that show Venice as imperfect yet lead you to fall in love with the city despite it's issues. I'm not talking about the fact that it's sinking into the seas, but the Italian way of life as it was back in the day. As I think of it in my mind as women's rights, marriages, and whores oh my. Courtesans, mistresses, and illegitimate children were all par for the course in Venice. What's so fascinating though is the way Tasha writes so that there's our modern POV then there's Emily's POV, which is Victorian but constantly working to break the shackles and think more modern, and then the Venetian POV which is far more fluid and modern, but that fluidity and the resultant issues drives the plot forward. It's literally a culture clash at it's most dramatic and I couldn't put it down.

What really drove the narrative in this installment was that the secondary story instead of being journals or letters that are concurrent with our story was instead the story of Besina and her ill fated love to Nicolo Vendelino way back in 1489. At first I was prejudiced against this story because being set in Italy and the couple in question being from warring houses I was sure this would be Tasha's take on Romeo and Juliet and personally, that isn't a favorite play of mine. Yes, it's a classic, I mean, it's Shakespeare after all, but not all Shakespeare floats my boat. Oh how wrong I was to compare it to that play of the Bard's. This secondary storyline soon became my favorite part of Death in the Floating City and I had to restrain myself from jumping ahead to see how it played out. The best way I can describe the story of Besina and Nicolo is that it's like Sarah Dunant decided to write her version of Drake Carne and Morwenna Chynoweth's star-crossed romance from Poldark. Much as with the two young lovers on Poldark, my heart was continually breaking, hoping for Besina to break free and be with Nicolo. Their story is tragic and heartbreaking and achingly perfect. Because, if I'm being honest, much like how Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, sometimes perfection isn't a happily ever after.

Even though my attachment to Besina and Nicolo is the reason I lost my heart to this book I can not discount all the other awesomeness contained within the pages of Death in the Floating City. The menacing plague doctor like the "child" in the raincoat in Don't Look Now is haunting, but that's just the tip of the iceberg! There's Caterina Brexiano, the maligned medium! There's Brother Giovanni with his knowledge of books and his hunt for the truth. As for the books? Oh dear me, I swoon at the valuable books and illuminated manuscripts contained within these pages. But the vapors don't stop there. The gorgeous illuminated manuscripts contain secrets not just in their detailed artwork but on the very pages they were written. Secrets hidden in art? This is Lady Emily's version of The Da Vinci Code, but next level, because instead of being bogged down with religiosity we are on the hunt for the story of Besina and Nicolo! A love lost to history recovered! This book didn't just make me want to go to Venice, it made me want to delve back into my art history studies. Oh, I do love a good illuminated manuscript. If only they all held such secrets as the ones Tasha has dreamed up!

It should be a truth universally acknowledged that we all have in our past some frenemy. Imagine the theme song to Veronica Mars playing here... While Emily never considered Emma her friend, she was in one of those situations where friendship was forced on her and it turned sour, or shattered like her doll's face when Emma destroyed it. Whether it's similar to Emily's case or just a friend from childhood that proved themselves a complete and utter two-faced bitch, there's someone in everyone's past whom we'd rather avoid but some lingering sentimentality, AKA the sign that you are the better person, makes you willing to help if they reach out a hand. That is the situation Emily faces. While there is that deep temptation to just laugh from afar, something that social media makes so easy in this day and age, there's the other, more juicy feeling that you can prove to them that you are the better person. You hope that your help will finally awaken some kind of gratitude in them, but as is often the case, as Emily sees, they are just the same person but older. You can see them more clearly for who they are and you pity instead of hate them. But still, reaching out that hand and being the better person? Priceless.

Now here's a question I have for the floor. Hopefully you have been encouraged by Alexander Autumn to pick up one or all of Tasha's wonderful Lady Emily series and I want your expert opinion. Is this the first time that Emily's writing is shown to be definitely written from a future date for an audience? Because Emily has a throw away line about how her identification of NV would prove to be entirely inaccurate, proving this was written at a later date. Also at the same time she says "as you will see" where the you is us, meaning, definite knowledge of an audience. Now I don't have any problem with this, seeing as an author that Tasha greatly admires, Elizabeth Peters, used such devices in her Amelia Peabody series which is another series I love. In fact, there's a part of me, a part that will reference but will not spoil the ending of this book, that noticed a certain resolution that mirrors an event that takes place at the end of the sixth installment in that series, The Last Camel Died at Noon, that makes me think, Tasha did this on purpose. If she did this for that very reason, that's cunning. But also if you think about it, this is the first case that Emily and Colin take that doesn't literally land on their doorstep, so that could have been why there's a change as well... either way, I'll be waiting to see if this writing quirk happens again. Onwards to the next book!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

Uneasy Lies the Crown by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In Uneasy Lies the Crown, the thrilling new mystery in Tasha Alexander's bestselling series, Lady Emily and her husband Colin must stop a serial killer whose sights may be set on the new king, Edward VII.

On her deathbed, Queen Victoria asks to speak privately with trusted agent of the Crown, Colin Hargreaves, and slips him a letter with one last command: Une sanz pluis. Sapere aude. “One and no more. Dare to know.”

The year is 1901 and the death of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch has sent the entire British Empire into mourning. But for Lady Emily and her dashing husband, Colin, the grieving is cut short as another death takes center stage. A body has been found in the Tower of London, posed to look like the murdered medieval king Henry VI. When a second dead man turns up in London's exclusive Berkeley Square, his mutilated remains staged to evoke the violent demise of Edward II, it becomes evident that the mastermind behind the crimes plans to strike again.

The race to find the killer takes Emily deep into the capital’s underbelly, teeming with secret gangs, street children, and sleazy brothels―but the clues aren’t adding up. Even more puzzling are the anonymous letters Colin has been receiving since Victoria's death, seeming to threaten her successor, Edward VII. With the killer leaving a trail of dead kings in his wake, will Edward be the next victim?"

The best thing about fall is a new Tasha Alexander book, and that's basically how Alexander Autumn was born...

The Lady in the Cellar by Sinclair McKay
Published by: White Lion Publishing
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Standing four storeys tall in an elegant Bloomsbury terrace, number 4, Euston Square was a well-kept, respectable boarding house, whose tenants felt themselves to be on the rise in Victorian London. But beneath this genteel veneer lay a murderous darkness. For on 9th May 1879, the body of a former resident, Matilda Hacker, was discovered by chance in the coal cellar. The ensuing investigation stripped bare the dark side of Victorian domesticity, revealing violence, sex and scandal, and became the first celebrity case of the early tabloids.

Someone must have had full knowledge of what had happened to Matilda Hacker. For someone in that house had killed her. So how could the murderer prove so elusive?

In this true story, Sinclair McKay meticulously evaluates the evidence and, through first-hand sources, giving a gripping account that sheds new light on a mystery that eluded Scotland Yard."

True Gothic grimness? YAS!

Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The ghosts of the past come calling in a spellbinding heart-stopper from the “Queen of the Northern Gothic.”

After the end of her marriage, Kate Granger has retreated to her parents’ home on Lake Superior to pull herself together—only to discover the body of a murdered woman washed into the shallows. Tucked in the folds of the woman’s curiously vintage gown is an infant, as cold and at peace as its mother. No one can identify the woman. Except for Kate. She’s seen her before. In her dreams...

One hundred years ago, a love story ended in tragedy, its mysteries left unsolved. It’s time for the lake to give up its secrets. As each mystery unravels, it pulls Kate deeper into the eddy of a haunting folktale that has been handed down in whispers over generations. Now, it’s Kate’s turn to listen.

As the drowned woman reaches out from the grave, Kate reaches back. They must come together, if only in dreams, to right the sinister wrongs of the past."

I love that Halloween is this week and all these publishers are like, GOTHIC NOW!

Bright Young Dead by Jessica Fellowes
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Set amid the legendary Mitford household, Bright Young Dead is the second in the thrilling, Golden Age-style Mitford Murders series by Jessica Fellowes, author of the New York Times bestselling Downton Abbey books.

Meet the Bright Young Things, the rabble-rousing hedonists of the 1920s whose treasure hunts were a media obsession. One such game takes place at the 18th birthday party of Pamela Mitford, but ends in tragedy as cruel, charismatic Adrian Curtis is pushed to his death from the church neighbouring the Mitford home.

The police quickly identify the killer as a maid, Dulcie. But Louisa Cannon, chaperone to the Mitford girls and a former criminal herself, believes Dulcie to be innocent, and sets out to clear the girl's name...all while the real killer may only be steps away."

If I can't have any new Nancy Mitford books I can thankfully say I have this series to look forward to.

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The first new novel in four years from the beloved superstar author of Sarah's Key, a heartbreaking and uplifting story of family secrets and devastating disaster, set against a Paris backdrop, fraught with revelations, and resolutions.

Linden Malegarde has come home to Paris from the United States. It has been years since the whole family was all together. Now the Malegarde family is gathering for Paul, Linden’s father’s 70th birthday.

Each member of the Malegarde family is on edge, holding their breath, afraid one wrong move will shatter their delicate harmony. Paul, the quiet patriarch, an internationally-renowned arborist obsessed with his trees and little else, has always had an uneasy relationship with his son. Lauren, his American wife, is determined that the weekend celebration will be a success. Tilia, Linden’s blunt older sister, projects an air of false fulfillment. And Linden himself, the youngest, uncomfortable in his own skin, never quite at home no matter where he lives―an American in France and a Frenchman in the U.S.―still fears that, despite his hard-won success as a celebrated photographer, he will always be a disappointment to his parents.

Their hidden fears and secrets slowly unravel as the City of Light undergoes a stunning natural disaster, and the Seine bursts its banks and floods the city. All members of the family will have to fight to keep their unity against tragic circumstances. In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, de Rosnay demonstrates all of her writer’s skills both as an incredible storyteller but also as a soul seeker."

After this past summer stories set amongst floods just draw me in.

Elevation by Stephen King
Published by: Scribner
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 160 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine.

The latest from legendary master storyteller Stephen King, a riveting, extraordinarily eerie, and moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together—a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences.

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others."

King's 50th book of the year. Well probably now exactly 50, but I bet it's close! Also yeah Castle Rock!

Driving to Geronimo's Grave and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale
Published by: Subterranean Press
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the Dusty Great Depression to the far future, to the wild west, to the era of big fin automobiles, soda shops and double features, as well as dark journey on an icy ocean full of ravenous sharks and a fantastic shipwreck that leads its survivors into a nightmarish Lovecraftian world of monsters and mystery, Joe R. Lansdale returns with a pack of stories for your consumption and enjoyment. There's even killer machines, a big ole grizzly bear, and entertaining story notes. Joe R. Lansdale has been writing novels and stories, as well as screenplays and comics, for over forty-five years, and this is his latest concoction, encompassing stories informed by a variety of genres, but not quite comfortably fitting into any of them. The reason is simple. Joe R. Lansdale is his own genre."

I love that Subterranean Press and Lansdale are working together!

The Librarians and the Pot of Gold by Greg Cox
Published by: Tor Books
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The Librarians and the Pot of Gold is an original novel based on the hit TNT television show The Librarians, by New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox.

For millennia, the Librarians have secretly protected the world by keeping watch over dangerous magical relics. Cataloging and safeguarding everything from Excalibur to Pandora’s Box, they stand between humanity and those who would use the relics for evil."

The show must go on! Even if it's in book form now...

The Books of Eathsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Published by: Saga Press
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 1008 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the timeless and beloved A Wizard of Earthsea that “reads like the retelling of a tale first told centuries ago,” (David Mitchell) - comes this complete omnibus edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles, including over fifty illustrations illuminating Le Guin’s vision of her classic saga.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels are some of the most acclaimed and awarded works in literature - they have received prestigious accolades such as the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award, and many more honors, commemorating their enduring place in the hearts and minds of readers and the literary world alike.

Now for the first time ever, they’re all together in one volume - including the early short stories, Le Guin’s “Earthsea Revisioned” Oxford lecture, and a new Earthsea story, never before printed.

With a new introduction by Le Guin herself, this essential edition will also include fifty illustrations by renowned artist Charles Vess, specially commissioned and selected by Le Guin, to bring her refined vision of Earthsea and its people to life in a totally new way.

With stories as perennial and universally beloved as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of The Rings - but also unlike anything but themselves - this edition is perfect for those new to the world of Earthsea, as well as those who are well-acquainted with its enchanting magic: to know Earthsea is to love it."

I recently fell in love with Earthsea, and seeing as Charles Vess is someone I already loved, this is the PERFECT pairing!

Otherearth by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Published by: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Return to the series BuzzFeed compared to Ready Player One in the second book in a new fast-paced trilogy from New York Times bestselling authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller that's perfect for fans of HBO's Westworld.

Simon would have done anything to save his best friend after a mysterious accident almost killed her--including follow her into a virtual world. And what he and Kat discovered there was more terrifying than they could have ever imagined. Unwitting hospital patients are being forced to test a device that lets VR be experienced with all five senses. The technology is so advanced that it's deadly.

Now the world's biggest tech corporation is hunting Simon and Kat while war rages in Otherworld, the virtual world it created. Determined to destroy the Company, Simon and Kat must join forces with a hacker, a gangster, and a digital entity. But as they battle to save two worlds, they uncover an all-new threat to our world: the Company's latest creation, an augmented-reality game called OtherEarth. Not only does OtherEarth kill, it has the power to erase the line between what's real and what's fantasy."

A new Jason Segel book has me doing a muppet arm flail just for him!

Frost by Sam Neumann
Published by: Otter Lodge Publishing
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Kindle, 383 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A small town, a wayward woman, and the murderer who won’t leave her alone.

Amy Frost is getting desperate. When her fledgling stand-up comedy career falls flat, adding one more failure to a long list, she is forced to move back in with her mother in her hometown in the Colorado mountains. All the things she thought she had left behind have again become her reality, and at thirty-one years old, Amy is terrified of winding up in Ballast, Colorado, forever.

But she is shaken out of her self-pity when Arnold Dooley, the man who murdered his wife and was later acquitted, walks into her place of work.

The town of Ballast falls into hysteria upon learning Dooley has taken up residence on its east end, and the residents begin scheming ways to remove him. But Arnold takes an interest in Amy and begins to offer her large sums of money for seemingly innocuous tasks. Skeptical and guarded, Amy spurns the proposition until it becomes too enticing to ignore, and soon finds herself thrust into a twisted world of depravity. The only way out is for Amy to uncover who actually killed Arnold’s wife - and why they’re after her.

Frost is a gripping psychological thriller that follows its female protagonist to the depths of the human psyche."

Wrongfully accused murderer, new obsession, secrets, YAS!

Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge
Published by: Ink Monster, LLC
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Kindle, 265 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"For fans of Hex Hall, The Magicians, Practical Magic, and Food Wars!

After her run-in with a jealous warlock, apprentice baker Anise Wise can’t wait to get back into the kitchen where she belongs. But thanks to her brush with death, the land of the living isn’t all cupcakes and marshmallows.

Anise’s magical mojo is way out of whack and her changed powers are stirring up trouble. The town’s abuzz with news that Anise can bake deathly spells, and unsavory characters start lining up for a taste. They’ll stop at nothing to use Anise and her witchcraft to further their own plots.

She plans to hole up researching solutions until the attention dies down, but then she discovers the horrifying terms of her bodyguard’s contract. Wynn has saved her life so many times, she can’t leave him trapped. Doing the right thing will mean risking death or worse - losing her dream job.

For this witch, justice might not be as sweet as advertised."

A book for when you're trying to scratch that Great British Bake Off and Magicians vibe at the same time.

Peggy and Me by Miranda Hart
Published by: Hodder
Publication Date: October 30th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Hello dear book browser and welcome to Peggy and Me, the story of my life since getting a beautiful Shih-Tzu Bichon Frise cross puppy (I call the breed a Shitty Frise - fun) in the form of Peggy.

Some of you may be thinking: "a book about a dog, how totally brilliant, I need hear no more, I'm sold." In which case we should be best friends and go out to tea together, every day.

Others of you may be thinking: "a book about a dog, how totally mad, she must have officially lost it." In which case I completely understand. For I once viewed dog owners with much suspicion. The way they obsessively talk about their dogs often using voices for them to reply; the way they have a light covering of dog hair all over their clothes and sofas; and worse, an alarming comfort and ease around excrement.

But I now get why people become so mad about their hounds. It wasn't instant love I have to admit. Getting a puppy when I was at a low ebb in my life wasn't easy - there was a lot of challenging, what I call, dog administration (dog-min), and the humiliating first trip to the vet still haunts me. It's been a bumpy old road, but Peggy has been lovingly by my side through some life-changing moments and I wouldn't have coped without her. Most surprisingly she has taught me a huge amount - not how to get an old pie packet out of a bin and lick it (I could already do that), but real lessons about life and love and trust and friendship.

Put aside any doggy reservations and come walkies with Peggy and me..."

To stave off my Miranda Hart addiction until the next time a rewatch her entire series which is still shockingly not available on DVD! 

Older Posts