Friday, September 18, 2020

A Christmas Carol

There are SO MANY adaptations of A Christmas Carol it's hard to find a unique new spin to get viewers to watch yet another version. Why would I want to subject myself to another adaptation that could never compare to the humor and horror of Scrooged, which in my mind is the only version worth watching, though I will let you argue in favor of the Muppets. The answer is Steven Knight. Steven Knight created the masterpiece that is Taboo, which I'm still waiting on season two and will gladly wait for years Steven just so you know! He's more commonly known for creating Peaky Blinders and oddly enough being one of the three creators of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? So with Steven Knight at the helm and Guy Pearce staring and Andy Serkis bringing the haunting, I knew it was going to be dark and gritty, so I was instantly sold. Because, I'm sorry, the Victorian age was dark and gritty, and Dickens usually reflected that reality, except oddly enough in this, his most popular piece. So bring on the dark! Bring on the weird backstory about Scrooge being sexually abused? OK, I guess... I mean, it's nice to have some justification as to why Scrooge became who he was but there seemed to be too much riding on this revelation. To me it felt like the adaptation was saying abuse gives you a free pass to be a dick, but if possible, don't be one. So while I loved all this magic and mystery and the reason why these ghosts were called to haunt Scrooge, I felt that the backstory should have been finessed. Yet if we didn't get the backstory we wouldn't have gotten the dream sequence of Kayvan Novak, AKA Nandor from What We Do in the Shadows, as Ali Baba... now that's a tough choice to make. Let's go back to the Christmas wasteland with Marley and mull that over while Andy Serkis throws another memory on the pyre.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Lengthening shadows, the feeling of being watched, shots from Creature from the Black Lagoon stalking it's prey, a beautiful young swimmer who doesn't know the danger lurking right beneath the surface. No one can say this adaptation of Michelle McNamara's book on the Golden State Killer lacks style. Yet for me it wasn't just the style, it was the substance that kept me turning in week after week. It delved deeper than the book into the subject of being a woman and being a survivor and that made the documentary even more relevant today. A more human approach. Hearing the stories from the survivors intercut with stock footage from the time period and the hunt for the rapist in the 70s and 80s somehow made the era come alive, it grounded everything and made it more real. What's more there's a frank discussion about what it's like to be a woman, the whole idea that women are told to dress and behave a certain way to not become victims instead of teaching men to not attack women. The sheer number of rapists working in one area of California at that time shows the pervasiveness of sexual assault against women and the danger we constantly feel and I felt seen and heard tuning in every week. In fact it got me wondering, would the East Area Rapist, despite his reign of terror, ever have become the boogie man of suburban California with the longevity to be relevant today if he hadn't escalated to couples and then killing? Would he have been forgotten as just another rapacious rapist that was just gone in the dark? Who knows. But Michelle's personal drive, her personal journey was just as important as the other survivors, because in the end she became EARONS last victim.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller's Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds."

How long have a been waiting for a new Susanna Clarke book? Since five minutes after I first read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, AKA sixteen years! Kids who were born then can drive now!

Secret Legacy by Carissa Andrews
Published by: Author Revolution LLC
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Kindle, 289 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Nestled in the woods of Windhaven, Blackwood Manor waits to unleash a dark and deadly legacy...

When Autumn Blackwood shows up at Windhaven Academy for the Witching Stick Orientation, she hopes to find out what dormant powers she could possibly possess to have been accepted to the elite supernatural school. Instead, the academy is in chaos as everyone frantically hunts for two missing girls.

But as school begins with Autumn no closer to figuring out her powers, strange occurrences start to follow her everywhere. Even at home, Blackwood Manor keeps many secrets, and Autumn can’t escape its haunting past.

New friends urge her to learn more about her family’s history in order to unlock her powers and make sense of what’s happening at Blackwood Manor, but Autumn’s not so sure. Once an accident brings Autumn face-to-face with death, however, she realizes her gifts are tied to a legacy that can either save or doom them all...

Fans of Kelley Armstrong, Joe Hill, and Jennifer Armentrout will love The Windhaven Witches!"

Fall is all about the witches for me!

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin
Published by: Hodder
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The year is 1831. Down murky alleyways, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and London's vulnerable poor are disappearing from the streets. Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape these slums by any means possible.

When a chance encounter thrusts Hester into the beguiling world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life. But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new existence, and lure her into the most sinister of investigations. As she finds herself dragged into the blackest heart of the city, little does she know that something more depraved than she could ever imagine is lurking..."

Victorian girls with murky pasts are my milieu! 

Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp comes a shocking new thriller about a group of friends tied together by a game and the deadly weekend that tears them apart.

FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.

Are you ready to play?"

I'm ready to play!

Horrid by Katrina Leno
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the author of You Must Not Miss comes a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.

Following her father's death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor's doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone...and more tormented.

As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident "bad seed," struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane's mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won't reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the "storage room" her mom has kept locked isn't for storage at all - it's a little girl's bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears...

Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more...horrid?"

Please be something more horrid!

The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike
Published by: Atria Books
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The story continues in The Forgotten Kingdom, the second book in the epic Lost Queen trilogy, already hailed as “Outlander meets Camelot” (Kirsty Logan, author of Things We Say in the Dark) and “The Mists of Avalon for a new generation” (Linnea Hartsuyker, author of The Golden Wolf).

AD 573. Imprisoned in her chamber, Languoreth awaits news in torment. Her husband and son have ridden off to wage war against her brother, Lailoken. She doesn’t yet know that her young daughter, Angharad, who was training with Lailoken to become a Wisdom Keeper, has been lost in the chaos. As one of the bloodiest battles of early medieval Scottish history scatters its survivors to the wind, Lailoken and his men must flee to exile in the mountains of the Lowlands, while nine-year-old Angharad must summon all Lailoken has taught her and follow her own destiny through the mysterious, mystical land of the Picts.

In the aftermath of the battle, old political alliances unravel, opening the way for the ambitious adherents of the new religion: Christianity. Lailoken is half-mad with battle sickness, and Languoreth must hide her allegiance to the Old Way to survive her marriage to the next Christian king of Strathclyde. Worst yet, the new King of the Angles is bent on expanding his kingdom at any cost. Now the exiled Lailoken, with the help of a young warrior named Artur, may be the only man who can bring the Christians and the pagans together to defeat the encroaching Angles. But to do so, he must claim the role that will forever transform him. He must become the man known to history as “Myrddin.”

Bitter rivalries are ignited, lost loves are found, new loves are born, and old enemies come face-to-face with their reckoning in this compellingly fresh look at one of the most enduring legends of all time."

Because I've been feeling in a very Camelot mood of late!

Mystical Places by Sarah Baxter
Published by: White Lion Publishing
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 144 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Discover 25 mystical destinations from around the globe in this enchanting guide full of magic, folklore and exquisitely beautiful places.

Travel writer Sarah Baxter expertly curates the world’s most wonder-filled sites where magic is made manifest. Discover the history and geography of each site and learn their most significant and spellbinding stories, with suggestions of features to look out for and information on ceremonies. Filled with beautifully bewitching illustrations, this guide aims to transport you, in the comfort of your own armchair, to sacred and mystical spots, digging into their legends and evoking their supernatural essence.

Seeking a transcendent travel experience? Take a magical pilgrimage to Alfaborg, the City of Elves; marvel at the otherworldly splendour of Xandadu, the heart of a lost dynasty; and discover the gateway to the afterlife in the Alepotrypa Cave. In these pages we meet mythical kings, explore sacred summits and enchanted architecture, and find a cast of giants, ghosts, golems and sea creatures."

Featured places include Tintagel, England. I have mentioned my current Camelot addiction right?

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen
Published by: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 136 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Wallace and Gromit meets Winnie-the-Pooh in a fresh take on a classic odd-couple friendship, from Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake with full-color and black-and-white illustrations throughout by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

No one wants a skunk.

They are unwelcome on front stoops. They should not linger in Important Rock Rooms. Skunks should never, ever be allowed to move in. But Skunk is Badger’s new roommate, and there is nothing Badger can do about it.

When Skunk plows into Badger’s life, everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And why-oh-why are there so many chickens?


Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake spins the first tale in a series about two opposites who need to be friends.

New York Times bestselling author/illustrator and Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen completes the book with his signature lushly textured art. This beautifully bound edition contains both full-color plates and numerous black-and-white illustrations.

Skunk and Badger is a book you’ll want to read, reread, and read out loud...again and again."

I adore Jon Klassen and I'm from the Badger State making this a must read.

Sue and Tai-chan by Konami Konato
Published by: Kodansha Comics
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 128 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The adorable new odd-couple cat comedy manga from the creator of the beloved Chi's Sweet Home and Chi's Sweet Adventures, in full color and formatted for English readers, just like Chi!

Sue is an aging housecat who's looking forward to living out her life in peace... but her plans change when the mischievous black tomcat Tai-chan enters the picture! Hey! Sue never signed up to be a catsitter! Sue and Tai-chan is the latest from the reigning meow-narch of cute kitty comics, Konami Kanata."

I ADORE Chi's Sweet Home and have been so sad that nothing has filled the void, not even Chi's Sweet Adventures, so I am SO excited about Sue and Tai-chan!

Kusama by Elisa Macellari
Published by: Laurence King Publishing
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 128 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From rural Japan to international icon - Yayoi Kusama has spent her remarkable life immersed in her art.

Follow her incredible journey in this vivid graphic biography which details her bold departure from Japan as a young artist, her embrace of the buzzing New York art scene in the 1960s, and her eventual return home and rise to twenty-first-century super-fame."

I love biographic graphic novels. I adore ones about the art world and artists!

More Than a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Published by: Harper
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The author of the international bestseller How to Be a Woman returns with another “hilarious neo-feminist manifesto” (NPR) in which she reflects on parenting, middle-age, marriage, existential crises - and, of course, feminism.

A decade ago, Caitlin Moran burst onto the scene with her instant bestseller, How to Be a Woman, a hilarious and resonant take on feminism, the patriarchy, and all things womanhood. Moran’s seminal book followed her from her terrible 13th birthday through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, and beyond - and is considered the inaugural work of the irreverent confessional feminist memoir genre that continues to occupy a major place in the cultural landscape.

Since that publication, it’s been a glorious ten years for young women: Barack Obama loves Fleabag, and Dior make “FEMINIST” t-shirts. However, middle-aged women still have some nagging, unanswered questions: Can feminists have Botox? Why isn’t there such a thing as “Mum Bod”? Why do hangovers suddenly hurt so much? Is the camel-toe the new erogenous zone? Why do all your clothes suddenly hate you? Has feminism gone too far? Will your To Do List ever end? And WHO’S LOOKING AFTER THE CHILDREN?

As timely as it is hysterically funny, this memoir/manifesto will have readers laughing out loud, blinking back tears, and redefining their views on feminism and the patriarchy. More Than a Woman is a brutally honest, scathingly funny, and absolutely necessary take on the life of the modern woman - and one that only Caitlin Moran can provide."

Interesting to link Moran to Fleabag... not sure I quite buy that but I will be buying this book.

Georgian Recipes and Remedies by Michael J. Rochford
Published by: Pen and Sword History
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Discover the recipes for Mrs. Rooke's Very Good Plum Cake and Lady Harbord's Marigold Cheese. Learn how to preserve gooseberries "as green as they grow" and make Sir Theodore Colladon's Peach Flower Syrup. Feast on Lady St. Quintin's Dutch Pudding and Mrs. Eall's Candied Cowslips. Then wash it all down with Lady Strickland's Strong Mead or some Right Red Dutch Currant Wine.

These are just some of the delightful Georgian recipes found in the receipt books of Sabine Winn, the eighteenth-century Swiss-born wife of Sir Rowland Winn, 5th Baronet Nostell of the impressive Palladian mansion, Nostell Priory in Yorkshire. Using centuries-old cookbooks, newspaper clippings, old family recipes and contributions from noble friends, Lady Winn created a wonderfully eclectic collection of mouthwatering dishes that are presented in this new volume for modern readers to enjoy.

Mistrustful of English doctors, Sabine's receipt books also contain scores of remedies for a whole series of complaints, such as: The Best Thing in the World for Languishing Spirits or Fatigue after a Journey; Mrs Aylott's Excellent Remedy for Colic; Aunt Barrington's Cure for Pleurisy; An Approved Medicine to Drive the Scurvy or any other Ill Humour out of a Man's Body; and A Diet Drink to Cure all Manner of Hurts and Wounds."

Because during a pandemic, once you get sick of making modern food, how about taking a trip back in time?

A Witness to Murder by Verity Bright
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 266 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A medieval house, a dead body and some rather suspicious chocolate fudge? Call for Lady Swift!

Autumn, 1920. Lady Eleanor Swift, accidental amateur detective and retired explorer, is determined to take a break from investigating murders. So when a local politician dies suddenly at an elegant dinner party at Farrington Manor, she tries her hardest not to listen to the raft of rumours around the village that he might have been poisoned by the fudge. It's the anniversary of the disappearance of her beloved parents and she's promised herself not to get mixed up with any more mysteries. She isn't sure they'd have approved.

But when she arrives home to discover that Mrs Pitkin, the kindly cook from Farrington Manor, has been dismissed without wage or reference because the police consider her a suspect, Eleanor knows she needs to act. If there was a murder, then she needs to track down the culprit and clear Mrs Pitkin's name.

Accompanied by her faithful partner in crime, Gladstone the bulldog, who has the best nose for sniffing out bones in the country, Eleanor sets out to find the killer. And when another body turns up and she finds poisoned fudge in the victim's house, Eleanor knows she's on the right track. But can she sort the truth from the lies before she becomes a witness to another murder - this time rather closer to home?

An utterly charming cozy mystery! Warm and witty, fans of Agatha Christie, TE Kinsey and LB Hathaway will be totally hooked."

Murder at a Manor, HELL YAS!

Troubled Blood by Robert Gailbraith
Published by: Mulholland Books
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 944 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A breathtaking, labyrinthine epic, Troubled Blood is the fifth Strike and Robin novel and the most gripping and satisfying yet.

Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough - who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974.

Strike has never tackled a cold case before, let alone one forty years old. But despite the slim chance of success, he is intrigued and takes it on; adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency, Robin Ellacott, are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.

As Strike and Robin investigate Margot’s disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly..."

Dammit 2020, why can't I have nice things? I was SO looking forward to this book and then J.K. Rowling went all flag waving TERF and I just can't anymore. 

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
Published by: Tor Books
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 880 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a brand new epic novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eragon, Christopher Paolini.

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she's awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she's delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn't at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity's greatest and final hope..."

Paolini has left Alagaesia behind and taken us to the stars!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Castle Rock

Castle Rock might just be the most interesting adaptation out there because for it's inspiration it's not taking just one Stephen King book but a whole heck of a lot of them and mashing them up in new and unique ways. Besides all the stunt casting of actors who have previously been in King adaptations from Sissy Spacek to Tim Robbins to Bill Skarsgard, the references to King's works are just staggering, from The Shinning to Needful Things to Cujo, seriously, just google "Easter Eggs Castle Rock" and you're going to get so many lists you'll be reading for days. Why I was especially excited for season two was because Misery was coming to Castle Rock. Now of all Stephen King's books that I've read for some reason Misery has always been a favorite of mine. Could it be because I watched the movie and loved it at a young age? Probably. Could it be because it's one of the first Stephen King books I read? Most definitely! Could it also have to do with seeing a stage adaptation one of my friends was working on when they used a blowtorch instead of a hammer? Oh yes! I love me some real fire on stage! So while this season drew maybe more heavily on 'Salem's Lot then from Misery, I was totally just judging it on the merits of Misery, and they succeeded wonderfully. The success was all down to Lizzy Caplan. I've been a fan of hers ever since Party Down, which means I know her for her comedic chops, and wasn't sure if she could deliver dramatically as Annie Wilkes. Oh, she was perfection. She was a young Kathy Bates while somehow making it her own. Also the background they wrote for the character? Perfection. If future seasons are this good I hope we get many, many more. And not just because I want more answers. Though that would be nice too.    

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Dublin Murder

Sarah Phelps does it again! And no, this isn't a good thing. She's taken amazing source material and altered it to fit her own narrative, and this makes the series not work. What's more it pisses me off. But I can't be entirely mad at this series for one reason, it made me read Tana French's second "Dublin Murder Squad" book, The Likeness, and I adored it. The backstory to this is that prior to the series starting I wanted to read the first book in the series, In the Woods, and was left unimpressed with a hatred of Rob. He's not an unreliable narrator, he's just an ass, OK people? I thought the series was only based on the first book so having finished Rob's story and started the show and after just watching the opening credits I realized, no, it's the first two books. So I stopped watching the series and picked up The Likeness. Fast forward, I've devoured the book and am ready to pick up the series again. Given that these books happen in order for a reason I thought the first half of the season would be Rob's story and the second half would be Cassie's. But no. Sarah Phelps doesn't work like that, Sarah Phelps thinks she's better than the books. Instead they were happening simultaneously, so when Cassie is undercover and should be dealing with the implosion of her and Rob and her abortion and how that mirrors the woman she's impersonating, she's just dealing with finding out she's pregnant, oh and scum because she cheated on her boyfriend in this version. No! This doesn't work. There is supposed to be cause and effect not whatever this is. And again, this is a stellar cast, everyone was so well cast, I can see them as the characters as Tana French wrote them, not as Sarah Phelps did. Can I request a do over with the same cast but a different writer?     

Monday, September 7, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

One by One by Ruth Ware
Published by: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles by one."

Agatha Christie does corporate retreats! 

The Darkest Tide by Ann Cleeves
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From Ann Cleeves - New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows - comes the stunning new Vera Stanhope novel, The Darkest Evening.

On the first snowy night of winter, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope sets off for her home in the hills. Though the road is familiar, she misses a turning and soon becomes lost and disorientated. A car has skidded off the narrow road in front of her, its door left open, and she stops to help. There is no driver to be seen, so Vera assumes that the owner has gone to find help. But a cry calls her back: a toddler is strapped in the back seat.

Vera takes the child and, driving on, she arrives at a place she knows well. Brockburn is a large, grand house in the wilds of Northumberland, now a little shabby and run down. It’s also where her father, Hector, grew up. Inside, there’s a party in full swing: music, Christmas lights and laughter. Outside, unbeknownst to the revelers, a woman lies dead in the snow.

As the blizzard traps the group deep in the freezing Northumberland countryside, Brockburn begins to give up its secrets, and as Vera digs deeper into her investigation, she also begins to uncover her family’s complicated past."

I know I can't be the only one who dreams of inhabiting Vera's world and hanging out with her...especially at a grand house with a storm brewing outside!

Sanctuary by V.V. James
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 464 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A suspenseful debut that twists Big Little Lies with Practical Magic in a dark mystery of four women, a wicked secret - and an investigation that shakes their Connecticut town to the core.

Sanctuary is the perfect hide a secret.

When young Daniel Whitman is killed at a high-school party, the community is ripped apart. The death of Sanctuary's star quarterback seems to be a tragic accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper Fenn is the daughter of a witch - and she was there when he died.

V.V. James weaves a spellbinding tale of a town cracking into pieces and the devastating power of a mother's love. Was Daniel's death an accident, revenge - or something even more sinister?

As accusations fly, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a witch-hunt...and the town becomes no sanctuary at all."

Yes, I was sold once Practical Magic was mentioned, everything else is icing on the cake! 

Nobody Knows But You by Anica Mrose Rissi
Published by: Quill Tree Books
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 224 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The nail-bitingly intense story of a summer at camp that ends in a disturbing death - and depicts a powerful friendship that won’t ever be forgotten. Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying and Broken Things.

Kayla is still holding on to Lainie’s secrets.

After all, Lainie is Kayla’s best friend. And despite Lainie’s painful obsession with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, and the ways he has tried to come between them, friends don’t spill each other’s secrets. They don’t betray each other’s trust.

The murder at the end of the summer doesn’t change all that.

Besides - Kayla knows that the truth is not the whole story."

Anyone else hoping this has serious Scream vibes?

Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill
Published by: DC Comics
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 184 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"#1 New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill asks, "With a cursed Viking axe, what can you accomplish?" and June Branch is ready to answer!

June Branch visits her boyfriend, Liam, on Brody Island for a relaxing last weekend of summer. After an escaped group of criminals breaks into the house that June and Liam are watching, Liam is taken by them. June grabs a strange Viking axe and flees from the intruders. When one of the attackers finds her, she swings the axe and takes off his head, which rolls away and begins to babble in terror.

For June to uncover the truth, she'll need to hear the facts straight from the mouths of her attackers, with...or without their bodies attached.

Collects issues #1-7."

I have been reading all the individual issues of Hill House Comics from day one and  Basketful of Heads by eponymous Joe Hill is easily on of the best. The humor, the horror, the eighties, the references to Jaws, I love it all! 

The Mimosa Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu
Published by: Constable
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Mirza, a secretive neighbour of the Chens in Japanese Occupied Singapore, is a known collaborator and blackmailer. So when he is murdered in his garden, clutching a branch of mimosa, the suspects include local acquaintances, Japanese officials - and his own daughters.

Su Lin's Uncle Chen is among those rounded up by the Japanese as reprisal. Hideki Tagawa, a former spy expelled by police officer Le Froy and a power in the new regime, offers Su Lin her uncle's life in exchange for using her fluency in languages and knowledge of locals to find the real killer.

Su Lin soon discovers Hideki has an ulterior motive. Friends, enemies and even the victim are not what they seem. There is more at stake here than one man's life. Su Lin must find out who killed Mirza and why, before Le Froy and other former colleagues detained or working with the resistance suffer the consequences of Mirza's last secret."

I hope everyone else is loving this series as much as I am.

A Deception at Thornecrest by Ashley Weaver
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The stylish, charming next novel in Ashley Weaver's Edgar-nominated Amory Ames mystery series, set in 1930s England, A Deception at Thornecrest.

"Thornecrest looked beautiful in the evening light. One would never imagine the turmoil that had just occurred within its walls."

Amory Ames is alone at her country house Thornecrest, enjoying her last few weeks of peace and quiet as she prepares for the imminent arrival of her baby. Her husband, Milo, is in London on business, and Amory is content to catch up on her correspondence, organize the nursery, and avoid the well-meaning if rather overbearing company of the ladies in the village as they prepare for the Springtide Festival. But then a woman appears on her doorstep, claiming to be another Mrs. Ames, Milo’s wife.

Amory's marriage has had its ups and downs in the past, but her faith in her husband has been restored, and Milo has been nothing but thrilled about becoming a father. Though the alleged second Mrs. Ames seems earnest, Amory is convinced she must be mistaken, a belief that Milo confirms upon his homecoming. However, when another unexpected visitor arrives at Thornecrest, secret identities and whirlwind romances appear to be becoming par for the course.

It's not until the day of the festival, when Milo's stable hand Bertie is found dead, that the strange characters appearing in town begin to seem more sinister, and Amory is determined to uncover the killer in the crowd."

A country house in 1930s England, AKA my happy place, even or should I say, especially with a few murders. 

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
Published by: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Shortlisted for the Historical Writers Association Debut Crown Award.

In the tradition of Jane Eyre and Rebecca - The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea in which a young woman follows her new husband to his remote home on the Icelandic coast in the 1680s, where she faces dark secrets surrounding the death of his first wife amidst a foreboding landscape and the superstitions of the local villagers.

Rósa has always dreamed of living a simple life alongside her Mamma in their remote village in Iceland, where she prays to the Christian God aloud during the day, whispering enchantments to the old gods alone at night. But after her father dies abruptly and her Mamma becomes ill, Rósa marries herself off to a visiting trader in exchange for a dowry, despite rumors of mysterious circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death.

Rósa follows her new husband, Jón, across the treacherous countryside to his remote home near the sea. There Jón works the field during the day, expecting Rósa to maintain their house in his absence with the deference of a good Christian wife. What Rósa did not anticipate was the fierce loneliness she would feel in her new home, where Jón forbids her from interacting with the locals in the nearby settlement and barely speaks to her himself.

Seclusion from the outside world isn’t the only troubling aspect of her new life - Rósa is also forbidden from going into Jón’s attic. When Rósa begins to hear strange noises from upstairs, she turns to the local woman in an attempt to find solace. But the villager’s words are even more troubling - confirming many of the rumors about Jón’s first wife, Anna, including that he buried her body alone in the middle of the night.

Rósa’s isolation begins to play tricks on her mind: What - or who - is in the attic? What happened to Anna? Was she mad, a witch, or just a victim of Jón’s ruthless nature? And when Jón is brutally maimed in an accident a series of events are set in motion that will force Rósa to choose between obedience and defiance - with her own survival and the safety of the ones she loves hanging in the balance."

I rarely feature books that are being issued in paperback after a hardcover release, but I'm making an exception, because HOW COULD I HAVE MISSED THIS BOOK!?! Everything I love! Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Iceland!

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle was at one time my favorite series out there. The perfect expansion of the book by Philip K. Dick into a true visual masterpiece. I'm not sure where it fell apart though, but aside from a stellar The Twilight Zone parody this season with Stephen Root as Hawthorne Abendsen, AKA the actual Man in the High Castle, this show felt completely disconnected from previous seasons and laboring on some fantastical notion that the death of John Smith would fix everything. My brother would argue that the production team was so convinced of a season five pickup they were busy plotting towards an epic conclusion that they didn't see the writing on the wall and instead we are left with what we are left with. Yet I don't buy into this theory because even if we were to get more I didn't want that more anymore, if you get my drift. My main problem was that the relationship between Julia Crain and Tagomi was the heart and soul of this show and to not have Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa on AT ALL this season made no sense. To add insult to injury they kill him off in a ham-handed scene with a body double. Tagomi didn't deserve this fate and neither did we! Also where was Ed? Can someone, anyone answer that question? Also don't even get me started on deciding to finally, and belatedly, add more African American characters with the Black Communist Rebellion and not being able to find a balance between the old and the new characters. So in other words, just watch the sensational first three seasons and know that season four is unwatchable. Sometimes it just frustrates me how a show can just destroy itself by losing it's vision.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Pale Horse

When it comes to Agatha Christie adaptations I find they are very hit or miss, especially since the BBC took over the rights back in 2014. There are a few adaptations that I haven't even been able to finish, I'm looking at you Partners in Crime. So it was with trepidation that I went into watching The Pale Horse, mainly because it was adapted by Sarah Phelps, a writer who views herself above the source material. After her stellar adaptation of And Then There Were None she decided to go her own way and force us to watch Toby Jones have sex in The Witness for the Prosecution, made Ordeal by Innocence about cold war fears, turned Poirot priest in The ABC Murders, and now made this very unremarkable adaptation of The Pale Horse that doesn't have anything going for it except a stellar cast left to do nothing. This adaptation tries to lean into the mood versus the meaning, and occasionally it succeeds. There's a very nice Midsommar vibe that could have been worked but instead was almost forgotten. The supernatural element could have been a corker, but again, barely touched on. In fact, of all Sarah Phelps's adaptations this is her biggest fail because it didn't even incite anger in me for some memorable WTF moment, instead it was completely forgettable. I kept wondering while watching it that perhaps it was constrained by the two one hour parts and if it was three parts like most of the other BBC adaptations it might have thrived. But then I realized, I did not want to watch three hours of whatever this was trying to be.

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