Friday, June 5, 2020

Book Review - F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published by: Penguin
Publication Date: 1925
Format: Hardcover, 198 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy

Nick Carraway has moved east to sell bonds in New York City. Because that's what young men do to make money right? Move east and sell bonds. But living out on Long Island he has an advantage across the bay. His wealthy former classmate from Yale, Tom Buchanan, lives in a luxurious house with his wife Daisy, who just happens to be Nick's cousin. At Nick's first dinner at their home he meets Jordan Baker, a rather infamous golfer, and gets ringside seats to the drama of the Buchanan household. There's trouble in paradise as Tom's mistress has the gall to call during the dinner hour! Of course, being old classmates, Nick is drawn into Tom's extramarital activities, and it isn't long before Nick is partying in the couple's love nest in the city where Myrtle's sister is insisting to Nick that Tom and Myrtle are miserable in their marriages and if it wasn't for Daisy being a Catholic there'd be two divorces and one marriage faster than you can blink. Nick can't be sure of this assertion and soon his life is about to be complicated by even more intrigue. He's going to be brought into Jay Gatsby's orbit. Jay Gatsby is Nick's infamous neighbor. Infamous for his parties and his secretive past. Everyone comes to his parties and yet no one ever sees him. Nick is about to see a lot of him as he brings Nick into his world and into his greatest regret, losing Daisy, the love of his life. He asks Nick to be a go-between. Of course fearing rejection he uses his own go-between, Jordan Baker. The request is simple enough, can Nick invite Daisy to his humble abode, only to have Gatsby swing in and take them to his manse next door? Nick is glad to help, especially as it's Jordan asking, and soon, like Daisy, he is under Gatsby's spell. But as Gatsby and Daisy's courtship from before the war proves, love and wooing never go smooth. Soon Tom realizes what is happening and there is a great reckoning that not everyone survives. That is the price of wealth and woo.

The Great Gatsby is light on plot with little depth and an unreliable narrator and for those very reasons it has become a classic. Other than a distinct "Americanness" and much rumination on the American Dream, everything is open to interpretation. Can we believe a word Nick says? Probably not. Can we blame Gatsby for how he made his fortune in order to woo the woman he loves? Depends on how he really got his money... which the characters themselves like to discuss ad nauseam. Can the valley of ashes be real or is it just a metaphor? You can literally read anything you want into this book. I was strongly reminded in the laborious and best skipped introduction of certain friends of mine who can talk for hours on end about the color symbolism in 2001: A Space Odyssey. What red means in one shot, followed by the blue of another. If they had a desire to, which I'm sure they don't, they could go into the symbolism of color that larders the pages of this book. The green light at the end of Daisy's dock, the golden sheen coming off Gatsby, all of it can be taken as something or nothing. The green could be tied to Daisy and how her voice is full of money. The green could be her openness to Gatsby's return. His golden sheen could be an outward aura of his wealth or a reference to the golden calf from the Bible and all the symbolism that weights him down because of that. In fact, though I never took a high school class that actually read The Great Gatsby, I can see why it's a popular one to teach. There is so much that can be drawn out of this book literally anything any student says is a possible interpretation. There is no wrong answer where it comes to The Great Gatsby! In fact, here's my weird little interpretation. I think The Great Gatsby is the inspiration for the TV series Remington Steele. Now prove me wrong! You literally can't. Steele is a man of infinite style whose past is dubious and who embodies the American Dream. He may or may not have tragedy in his past and as for that past, it shifts and changes with each retelling. Who knows, he might also have medals for heroic service as well as the known warrants for his arrest. This is how much this one book has become a part of the American consciousness that a popular TV show from the 80s could draw meaning form it for a modern audience and make it continually relevant. The Great Gatsby is a book for the ages.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you were only allowed to pick one writer who encapsulated the zeitgeist of the 1920s your answer would be F. Scott Fitzgerald. I mean he is credited with naming this era the Jazz Age, a moniker first used in his 1922 short story collection Tales of the Jazz Age. What's more is he embodied the hedonistic lifestyle of free flowing booze and partying that everyone associates with this decade. Most of his early life, growing up in Minnesota and New York State, disappears in the telling of his life as if he emerged fully formed as a not-quite-graduate of Princeton and a second lieutenant in the infantry stationed in Montgomery, Alabama, where he met Zelda. Their lives were so entwined that you can't tell the story of one without the other. Their pasts are almost irrelevant. Yet Scott wanted to be a writer more than he wanted anything else, even a degree from Princeton. But his hastily completed novel, The Romantic Egotist, was rejected by Scribners. With the war ended and the thought that he might forever lose Zelda if he couldn't support her he rewrote The Romantic Egotist and it was published by Scribners as This Side of Paradise on March 26th, 1920, and eight days later he married Zelda.

Always hard up for cash due to their dissolute lifestyle Scott was forever writing short stories which he hated while trying to write his next great novel. He failed in many artistic attempts, from theater to cinema, and eventually he, Zelda, and their daughter Scottie, ended up in Paris as part of the Lost Generation where a dollar could stretch farther. But Europe, and Scott's friendship with Hemingway, didn't help their marriage, and they slowly destroyed each other. Scott died in Hollywood at the age of 44 from a heart attack virtually forgotten. After his death his work was reevaluated due to a resurgence in popularity in World War II because The Great Gatsby was chosen to be a part of the Armed Services Editions. His work is also a staple of high schools and colleges across the country, guaranteeing he will never be forgotten, even if it's sometimes students bemoaning having to read his work. Well Scott would have probably bemoaned it himself, not read the book, and written his own.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Roaring Back to Reading

So here we go! The blog is fully back. Or I'm hoping it is. We'll see won't we? I took a year off in an attempt to quell the chaos that my life had become. Well, I don't know how things are going for you but that didn't work out so well. I was so excited for the start of this decade, the twenties are back people! But I didn't want it to start with a pandemic like it did a hundred years ago. Just goes to show that everything has a price apparently. The pandemic had me thinking I'd scrap my return, just continue to hide out in my house grumbling about people not wearing masks or social distancing, but then I realized that now IS the time to come back. Everyone needs an escape right now and everyone needs a community to belong to, and books set in another time are a perfect panacea, and my friends, my online community, YOU are what is keeping me sane. So it's time to get Roaring Back to Reading! To delve into the decade of decadence. The Roaring Twenties, where authors became stars and were fodder for gossip columnists! I'll be talking about several celebrity authors, some, like Scott and Zelda, who embodied the zeitgeist far more than say Virginia Woolf or Agatha Christie, who were still very influential. I'll be looking at the books, the adaptations, the stories of their lives, and I hope you'll join me. What else do you have on the books?

Tuesday Tomorrow

The House Guest by Mark Edwards
Published by: Thomas and Mercer
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Paperback, 302 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can't say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you're not supposed to talk to strangers - let alone invite them into your home - but after all, Eden's only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they've made a terrible mistake...

The House Guest is the chilling new psychological thriller from the three million copy bestselling author of Here to Stay and Follow You Home."

Just the mere thought of a house guest right now makes me shudder! 

The Grim Reader by Kate Carlisle
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright was hoping for a fun, relaxing weekend at a local book fair, but a murderer made other plans in the latest in this New York Times bestselling series.

Brooklyn and her new hunky husband, Derek, are excited to be guests at Dharma’s first annual Book Festival. The entire town is involved and Brooklyn’s mom Rebecca is taking charge. In addition to all of her other event related duties, she’s got Brooklyn doing rare book appraisals and is also staging Little Women, the musical to delight the festival goers. If that wasn’t enough, she and Meg - Derek’s mom - will have a booth where they read palms and tarot cards.

Brooklyn couldn’t be prouder of her mom’s do-it-all attitude so when a greedy local businessman who seems intent on destroying Dharma starts harassing Rebecca, Brooklyn is ready to take him down. Rebecca is able to hold her own with the nasty jerk until one of her fellow festival committee members is brutally murdered and the money for the festival seems to have vanished into thin air. Things get even more personal when one of Brooklyn’s nearest and dearest is nearly run down in cold blood. Brooklyn and Derek go into attack mode and the pressure is on to catch a spineless killer before they find themselves skipping the festival for a funeral."

This series is always on my list because books and San Francisco, through in the Little Women musical and I am so ready!

The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope by C.W. Grafton
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Is this lawyer digging his way to the truth, or digging his own grave?

Short, chubby, and awkward with members of the opposite sex, Gil Henry is the youngest partner in a small law firm, not a hard-boiled sleuth. So when an attractive young woman named Ruth McClure walks into his office and asks him to investigate the value of the stock she inherited from her father, he thinks nothing of it - until someone makes an attempt on his life.

Soon Gil is inadvertently embroiled in scandal, subterfuge, and murder. He's beaten, shot, and stabbed, as his colleagues and enemies try to stop him from seeing the case through to the end. Surrounded by adversaries, he teams up with Ruth and her secretive brother to find answers to the questions someone desperately wants to keep him from asking.

In this portrait of America on the eve of America's entry into World War II, C.W. Grafton - himself a lawyer and the father of prolific mystery writer Sue Grafton - pens an award-winning mystery that combines humor and the hard-boiled style and will keep readers guessing until its thrilling conclusion."

I LOVE that Poisoned Pen Press and the Library of Congress are doing this series, but more importantly, did you know that Sue Grafton's father wrote an award-winning mystery!?! Talent runs in that family, that's for sure!

Murder on a Mississippi Steamboat by Leighann Dobbs
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Paperback, 176 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Nora elbowed her way up to the railing and looked down. The paddle wheel was making its last turn, dredging up a mass of turquoise chiffon made almost transparent by the water. A hand, its red lacquered fingernails a contrast to the pale white skin, stuck up from a bejeweled cuff...

A relaxing cruise down the Mississippi on the Miss Delta Belle steamboat turns to tragedy when celebrity Delilah Dove falls from the deck and is swallowed by the river faster than you can say 'man overboard '

It's touted as a tragic accident, but guests Miss Nora Marsh and her wily great-aunt Julia know a murder when they see one. Can they get justice for Delilah and crack the case without alerting the murderer to their suspicions?

As Nora and Julia hunt for clues it emerges that nearly everyone had a reason to want Delilah dead. And that's bad news for the two sleuths - who want to solve the case pronto, before Mississippi police chief and Aunt Julia's nemesis Artemis Leonard comes on board at the next port to launch the official investigation. She's not letting him get the credit if she can help it.

With multiple suspects and a series of mysterious thefts onboard - not to mention the distractingly handsome Max Lawton turning Nora's head - this is shaping up to be one tough case to crack. What started as a gentle river voyage is far from plain sailing.

A gripping and witty 1920s murder mystery from bestselling author Leighann Dobbs, perfect for fans of T E Kinsey and Lee Strauss."

I am ALL about the 1920s right now!

My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadow
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 544 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Hold on to your hats: The authors who brought you the New York Times bestseller My Plain Jane, which Booklist praised as “delightfully deadpan” (starred review) and Publishers Weekly called “a clever, romantic farce” (starred review), are back with another irreverent historical adventure.

Welcome to 1876 America, a place bursting with gunslingers, outlaws, and garou - better known as werewolves.

And where there are garou, there’re hunters: the one and only Calamity Jane, to be precise, along with her fellow stars of Wild Bill’s Traveling Show, Annie Oakley and Frank “the Pistol Prince” Butler.

After a garou hunt goes south and Jane finds a suspicious-like bite on her arm, she turns tail for Deadwood, where there’s talk of a garou cure. But rumors can be deceiving - meaning the gang better hightail it after her before they’re a day late and a Jane short.

In this perfect next read for fans of A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, bestselling authors Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton bring their signature spark to the side-splittin’, whopper-filled (but actually kind of factual?) tale of Calamity Jane."

Anyone else obsessed with Calamity Jane since they first watched Deadwood?

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso
Published by: Orbit
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Paperback, 528 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"One woman will either save an entire continent or completely destroy it in a captivating epic fantasy bursting with intrigue and ambition, questioned loyalties, and broken magic.

"Guard the tower, ward the stone. Find your answers writ in bone. Keep your trust through wits or war - nothing must unseal the door."

Deep within Gloamingard Castle lies a black tower. Sealed by magic, it guards a dangerous secret that has been contained for thousands of years.

As Warden, Ryxander knows the warning passed down through generations: nothing must unreal the Door. But one impetuous decision will leave her with blood on her hands - and unleash a threat that could doom the world to fall to darkness."

Anyone else get actual goosebumps reading that rhyme?

Heroes by Stephen Fry
Published by: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this sequel to the bestselling Mythos, legendary author and actor Stephen Fry moves from the exploits of the Olympian gods to the deeds of mortal heroes.

Perseus. Jason. Atalanta. Theseus. Heracles. Rediscover the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths. Whether recounting a tender love affair or a heroic triumph, Fry deftly finds resonance with our own modern minds and hearts.

Illustrated throughout with classical art inspired by the myths, this gorgeous volume invites you to explore a captivating world with a brilliant storyteller as your guide.

In Heroes, Fry draws out the humor and pathos in both tender love affairs and heroic battles, and reveals each myth's relevance for our own time."

Stephen Fry. That is all. 

Little Book of Kindness by Francesca Pirrone
Published by: Clavis
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 50 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"It's easy to be kind. Offer a smile. Say thank you. Lend a helping hand. You'll see that when you are kind, others are kind too."

We could all do with a little more kindness these days. 

I Left the House Today! by Cassandra Calin
Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Paperback, 144 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Hilarious and relatable comics about one young woman's life, relationships, and day-to-day humorous musings on why it's good to leave the house sometimes - and when it's better to stay home.

Cassandra Calin’s ability to document the hilarity of relatable everyday events in a series of webcomics has generated a huge following on social media. This beautifully illustrated compendium of first-person comics about the trials of the single life, school, stress, junk food, shaving, and maintaining a healthy self-image. Cassandra Calin's comics frequently highlight the humorous gap between expectations and reality, especially when it comes to appearance and how much she can accomplish in one day. This book is funny, lighthearted, introspective, and artistically stunning - the perfect gift for young women, recent graduates, and anyone who might need a little comedic incentive to leave the house today."

If you were able to leave the house today without losing it, I applaud you!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 26th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 448 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors comes another , clever, deeply layered, and heartwarming romantic comedy that follows in the Jane Austen tradition - this time, with a twist on Persuasion.

Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen?

Rico Silva, that’s what.

Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster.

FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn't too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he's definitely over her.

But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce...and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico. Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak - or a recipe for persuasion...?

In Recipe for Persuasion, Sonali Dev once again takes readers on an unforgettable adventure in this fresh, fun, and enchanting romantic comedy."

A few years back I got to hear Sonali talk and ever since then I've been dying to have time to read all her books, perhaps now?

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: May 26th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people - a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others - could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come."

Because Jane Austen reunites us all!

The Study of Secrets by Cynthia Kuhn
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: May 26th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 242 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"There could be nowhere more fitting for English professor Lila Maclean to spend her sabbatical than in a proper Victorian mansion. The whimsical Callahan House seems to have materialized from the pages of the mystery novels she is researching, with its enchanting towers, cozy nooks, and charming library. Unfortunately, it also features a body in the study.

Residents of Larkston have long believed that the Callahan family is cursed - the murder on the estate sets the town buzzing. Wild rumors are fueled by a gossipy blogger who delights in speculation, and further crimes only intensify the whispers and suspicions. A newly discovered manuscript, however, appears to expose startling facts beneath the fictions. When Lila steps in to sort the truth from the lies, it may cost her everything, as someone wants to make dead certain that their secrets stay hidden."

It sounds like the Winchester Mansion meets Clue! 

The First Actress by C.W. Gortner
Published by: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 26th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From her beginnings as the daughter of a courtesan to her extraordinary transformation into the most celebrated actress of her era, Sarah Bernhardt is brought to life by an internationally bestselling author praised for his historical novels featuring famous women.

Sarah’s highly dramatic life starts when she returns to Paris after her convent schooling and is confronted by her mother’s demand to follow in the family trade as a courtesan. To escape this fate, Sarah pursues a career onstage at the esteemed Comédie-Française, until her rebellious acting style leads to her scandalous dismissal. Only nineteen years old and unemployed, Sarah is forced to submit to her mother’s wishes. But her seductive ease as a courtesan comes to an abrupt end when she discovers she is pregnant. Unwilling to give up her child, Sarah defies social condemnation and is cast adrift, penniless and alone.

With her striking beauty and innovative performances in a bohemian theater, Sarah catapults to unexpected success; suddenly, audiences clamor to see this controversial young actress. But her world is torn asunder by the brutal 1870 siege of Paris. Sarah refuses to abandon the ravaged city, nursing wounded soldiers and risking her life.

Her return to the Comédie and her tempestuous affair with her leading man plunge Sarah into a fierce quest for independence. Undeterred, she risks everything to become France’s most acclaimed actress, enthralling audiences with her shocking portrayals of female and male characters. Sarah’s daring talent and outrageous London engagement pave her path to worldwide celebrity, with sold-out tours in Europe and America.

Told in her own voice, this is Sarah Bernhardt’s incandescent story - a fascinating, intimate account of a woman whose unrivaled talent and indomitable spirit has enshrined her in history as the Divine Sarah."

After watching the dramatization of the life of Lillie Langtry, I'm very much interested in other actresses of the time, including the Divine Sarah, who taught Lillie.

The Darkling Halls of Ivy edited by Lawrence Block
Published by: Subterranean Press
Publication Date: May 26th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 328 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In recent years, colleges and universities have become known for their “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” - but as the 18 authors who penned stories for this powerful new anthology can tell you, there's plenty of danger still lurking behind the stolid stonework, leather-bound volumes, and thickets of ivy. Award-winning editor Lawrence Block has assembled a Who's Who of literary luminaries and turned them loose on the world of academia, where petty rivalries and grand betrayals inflame relations between professors and students, deans and donors. From Ian Rankin to Joe Lansdale, Seanan McGuire to David Morrell, each author reveals the dark truths and buried secrets that make institutions of higher learning such a hotbed of controversy. You'll encounter plagiarism, sexual misconduct, and brutal competition - not to mention secret societies, cover-ups of murder, and one near-future course of study that makes The Handmaid's Tale look like Mother Goose. So: collect your supplies, plan your schedule, and prepare to pull an all-nighter, because The Darkling Halls of Ivy is required reading."

Hopefully this will deliver the collegiate thrills and chills I expected from The Ninth House. With this lineup of authors it's bound to! 

Something is Killing the Children Volume One by James Tynion IV
Published by: BOOM! Studios
Publication Date: May 26th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 128 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"When children begin to go missing in the town of Archer’s Peak, all hope seems lost until a mysterious woman arrives to reveal that terrifying creatures are behind the chaos - and that she alone will destroy them, no matter the cost.

IT’S THE MONSTERS WHO SHOULD BE AFRAID.

When the children of Archer's Peak - a sleepy town in the heart of America - begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. Most children never return, but the ones that do have terrible stories - impossible details of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to be the only one who sees what they can see.

Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it must be done.

GLAAD Award-winning writer James Tynion IV (The Woods, Batman: Detective Comics) teams with artist Werther Dell’Edera (Briggs Land) for an all-new story about staring into the abyss. Collects Something is Killing the Children #1-5."

James Tynion IV is back in Wisconsin with a lackluster new series.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Published by: Scholastic Press,
Publication Date: May 19th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 528 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Ambition will fuel him.
Competition will drive him.
But power has its price.

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined - every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute...and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes."

Because, what better way to distract yourself from the collapse of civilization than to read about a favorite post apocalyptic world?

Lost in Space: Infinity's Edge by Kevin Emerson
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 19th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The second thrilling, original novel based on Netflix's smash hit Lost in Space! This all-new story focuses on twelve-year-old Will Robinson and his closest friend and greatest protector - a mysterious Robot with a dangerous past.

The Robinsons - Will, his two teenage sisters, and their parents - are members of a colonist group who had been traveling across the galaxy to establish a new home, only to have had their ship attached and stranded on an alien planet. Just when they had finally managed to get off-world, the Robinsons were thrown off course yet again and were sent drifting toward an unknown location.

Now, six months later, the Robinsons are stuck on an inhospitable water planet with no contact from their fellow colonists or from Will's beloved Robot. The twelve-year-old doesn't have any friends in his new home, until he discovers a mysterious girl...from the future. Her name is Clare, and she desperately needs Will's help to save her family. Will is eager to bond with his new friend, but - little does he know - something sinister lurks just beneath her surface. Can Will find a way to help Clare while keeping his own family safe?"

Here's a Lost in Space book to help you cope with the fact we're only getting one more season of the show. 

These Women by Ivy Pochada
Published by: Ecco
Publication Date: May 19th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the award-winning author of Wonder Valley and Visitation Street comes a serial killer story like you’ve never seen before - a literary thriller of female empowerment and social change. In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner...These women in the club...These women who won’t stop asking questions... These women who got what they deserved...

In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

Written with beauty and grit, tension and grace, These Women is a glorious display of storytelling, a once-in-a-generation novel."

Just reading the description you know this IS going to be a different kind of serial killer story. AKA, just what I need at the moment.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
Published by: Custom House
Publication Date: May 12th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A gothic-infused debut of literary suspense, set within a secluded, elite university and following a dangerously curious, rebellious undergraduate who uncovers a shocking secret about an exclusive circle of students...and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

Trust us, you belong here.

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years - summers included - completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines Murillo, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline - only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. Even the school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves within the formidable iron gates of Catherine. For Ines, it is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had. But the House’s strange protocols soon make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when tragedy strikes, Ines begins to suspect that the school - in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence - might be hiding a dangerous agenda within the secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless."

I've been excited about this book for awhile now, and then, just this past week The Blosgess announced it's her book club's pick! Now I'm super hyped! 

Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 12th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Shakespeare meets Dashiell Hammett in this wildly entertaining murder mystery from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Moore - an uproarious, hardboiled take on the Bard’s most performed play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring Pocket, the hero of Fool and The Serpent of Venice, along with his sidekick, Drool, and pet monkey, Jeff.

Set adrift by his pirate crew, Pocket of Dog Snogging - last seen in The Serpent of Venice - washes up on the sun-bleached shores of Greece, where he hopes to dazzle the Duke with his comedic brilliance and become his trusted fool.

But the island is in turmoil. Egeus, the Duke’s minister, is furious that his daughter Hermia is determined to marry Demetrius, instead of Lysander, the man he has chosen for her. The Duke decrees that if, by the time of the wedding, Hermia still refuses to marry Lysander, she shall be executed...or consigned to a nunnery. Pocket, being Pocket, cannot help but point out that this decree is complete bollocks, and that the Duke is an egregious weasel for having even suggested it. Irritated by the fool’s impudence, the Duke orders his death. With the Duke’s guards in pursuit, Pocket makes a daring escape.

He soon stumbles into the wooded realm of the fairy king Oberon, who, as luck would have it, IS short a fool. His jester Robin Goodfellow - the mischievous sprite better known as Puck - was found dead. Murdered. Oberon makes Pocket an offer he can’t refuse: he will make Pocket his fool and have his death sentence lifted if Pocket finds out who killed Robin Goodfellow. But as anyone who is even vaguely aware of the Bard’s most performed play ever will know, nearly every character has a motive for wanting the mischievous sprite dead.

With too many suspects and too little time, Pocket must work his own kind of magic to find the truth, save his neck, and ensure that all ends well.

A rollicking tale of love, magic, madness, and murder, Shakespeare for Squirrels is a Midsummer Night’s noir - a wicked and brilliantly funny good time conjured by the singular imagination of Christopher Moore."

Because we could all use a little humor right now. 

Alice in Puzzleland by R. W.  Galland and Jason Ward
Published by: Carlton Books
Publication Date: May 12th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Work your way through 250 riddles and brainteasers with Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen and the rest of Wonderland's unforgettable cast of characters.

Solve this curious and curiouser selection of 250 puzzles, all drawn from the characters, language, and locations in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. These perplexing and vexing conundrums, enigmas, and acrostics will test your powers of deduction, logic, and creativity. Featuring some of Carroll's own riddles and Sir John Tenniel's beloved original illustrations, this collection will take you straight down the rabbit hole and into a wondrous world with Alice.

Bind-up of Lewis Carroll's Puzzles in Wonderland and Alice's Puzzles Through the Looking Glass."

I LOVE clever Alice adjacent books! 

Cecil Beaton's Cocktail Book by Cecil Beaton
Published by: National Portrait Gallery
Publication Date: May 12th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 120 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Drink like one of the Bright Young Things with Cecil Beaton's Cocktail Book.

Cecil Beaton (1904-80) was one of the most celebrated British portrait photographers of the 20th century, so renowned for his images of celebrities and high society that his own name has become synonymous with elegance, glamour and style. In the 1920s and '30s, Beaton used his camera, his ambition and his larger-than-life personality to mingle with a flamboyant and rebellious group of artists and writers, socialites and partygoers whose spirit and style cut a dramatic swathe through the epoch. Canonizing the era's "Bright Young Things" in his distinctive brand of opulent studio portraiture, Beaton worked his way up from middle-class suburban schoolboy to glittering society figure.

This miniature cocktail book features a delightful array of recipes inspired by the decadent drinks of Beaton's youth, and the fabulous friends and celebrities whom he photographed. Period classics such as the Hanky Panky, Manhatten, Negroni and Sidecar are given contemporary twists by the Head Bartender and Mixologist of the world famous Claridge's Hotel in London, which played host to some of the most extravagant Bright Young gatherings. It is illustrated with the artist's own photographs and the witty and distinctive drawings he produced throughout his life, recording people, travels and experiences, which were featured in Vogue magazine. A must-have for every well-appointed bar cart, Cecil Beaton's Cocktail Book brings to life a deliriously eccentric, glamorous and creative era."

Because we're all stuck inside and it's the twenties again, why not have some festive era appropriate fun from one the names of the era!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella
Published by: Random House
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A Harvard freshman becomes obsessed with her schizophrenic brother’s suicide. Then she starts hearing voices.

Cadence Archer arrives on Harvard’s campus desperate to understand why her brother, Eric, a genius who developed paranoid schizophrenia took his own life there the year before. Losing Eric has left a black hole in Cady’s life, and while her decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps threatens to break her family apart, she is haunted by questions of what she might have missed. And there’s only one place to find answers.

As Cady struggles under the enormous pressure at Harvard, she investigates her brother’s final year, armed only with a blue notebook of Eric’s cryptic scribblings. She knew he had been struggling with paranoia, delusions, and illusory enemies - but what tipped him over the edge? Voices fill her head, seemingly belonging to three ghosts who passed through the university in life, or death, and whose voices, dreams, and terrors still echo the halls. Among them is a person whose name has been buried for centuries, and another whose name mankind will never forget.

Does she share Eric’s illness, or is she tapping into something else? Cady doesn’t know how or why these ghosts are contacting her, but as she is drawn deeper into their worlds, she believes they’re moving her closer to the truth about Eric, even as keeping them secret isolates her further. Will listening to these voices lead her to the one voice she craves - her brother’s - or will she follow them down a path to her own destruction?"

The hallowed ivy halls with a ghostly Gothic bent. 

The Ghost of Eden Park by Karen Abbot
Published by: Broadway Books
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 3448 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the early days of Prohibition, long before Al Capone became a household name, a German immigrant named George Remus quits practicing law and starts trafficking whiskey. Within two years he's a multi-millionaire. The press calls him "King of the Bootleggers," writing breathless stories about the Gatsby-esque events he and his glamorous second wife, Imogene, host at their Cincinnati mansion, with party favors ranging from diamond jewelry for the men to brand-new cars for the women. By the summer of 1921, Remus owns 35 percent of all the liquor in the United States.

Pioneering prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is determined to bring him down. Willebrandt's bosses at the Justice Department hired her right out of law school, assuming she'd pose no real threat to the cozy relationship they maintain with Remus. Eager to prove them wrong, she dispatches her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. It's a decision with deadly consequences. With the fledgling FBI on the case, Remus is quickly imprisoned for violating the Volstead Act. Her husband behind bars, Imogene begins an affair with Dodge. Together, they plot to ruin Remus, sparking a bitter feud that soon reaches the highest levels of government - and that can only end in murder.

Combining deep historical research with novelistic flair, The Ghosts of Eden Park is the unforgettable, stranger-than-fiction story of a rags-to-riches entrepreneur and a long-forgotten heroine, of the excesses and absurdities of the Jazz Age, and of the infinite human capacity to deceive."

Because right now, for me, I'm ALL about the twenties!

Close Up by Amanda Quick
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Welcome to Burning Cove, California where 1930s Hollywood glamour conceals a ruthless killer...

Vivian Brazier never thought life as an art photographer would include nightly wake-up calls to snap photos of grisly crime scenes or headshots for aspiring male actors. Although she is set on a career of transforming photography into a new art form, she knows her current work is what’s paying the bills.

After shooting crime scene photos of a famous actress, the latest victim of the murderer the press has dubbed the “Dagger Killer,” Vivian notices eerie similarities to the crime scenes of previous victims - details that only another photographer would have noticed - details that put Vivian at the top of the killer’s target list.

Nick Sundridge has always been able to “see” things that others don’t, coping with disturbing dreams and visions. His talent, or as he puts it - his curse - along with his dark past makes him a recluse, but a brilliant investigator. As the only one with the ability to help, Nick is sent to protect Vivian. Together, they discover the Dagger Killer has ties to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood royalty and high society. It is a cutthroat world of allure and deception that Vivian and Nick must traverse - all in order to uncover the killer who will stop at nothing to add them to their gallery of murders."

THIS! This is what I love! Hollywood glamour with murder! 

The Paris Hours by Alex George 
Published by: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.

Paris between the wars teems with artists, writers, and musicians, a glittering crucible of genius. But amidst the dazzling creativity of the city’s most famous citizens, four regular people are each searching for something they’ve lost.

Camille was the maid of Marcel Proust, and she has a secret: when she was asked to burn her employer’s notebooks, she saved one for herself. Now she is desperate to find it before her betrayal is revealed. Souren, an Armenian refugee, performs puppet shows for children that are nothing like the fairy tales they expect. Lovesick artist Guillaume is down on his luck and running from a debt he cannot repay - but when Gertrude Stein walks into his studio, he wonders if this is the day everything could change. And Jean-Paul is a journalist who tells other people’s stories, because his own is too painful to tell. When the quartet’s paths finally cross in an unforgettable climax, each discovers if they will find what they are looking for.

Told over the course of a single day in 1927, The Paris Hours takes four ordinary people whose stories, told together, are as extraordinary as the glorious city they inhabit."

Ever since I saw the film Night on Earth in high school I've loved the conceit of following one single night in characters lives.

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A would-be queen. A handsome young king. A perfect match...or is it?

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series comes The Betrothed, a glittering royal romance sure to captivate her legion of loyal readers and lovers of courtly intrigue alike.

When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked - and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.

But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine."

I'd so choose a commoner over a king!

Death of a Cheerleader by Micol Ostow
Published by: Scholastic Inc
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Betty and Veronica's cheerleading retreat with the River Vixens was supposed to be fun - not deadly.

Betty, Veronica, Cheryl, and the rest of the River Vixens are heading out of town for the weekend on a cheerleading retreat. So Archie, Jughead, and the rest of the guys decide to have a poker night at La Bonne Nuit. But a storm causes the power to go out, and the speakeasy goes into lockdown. When the lights come back on, all of the cash is gone. The thief has to be someone the guys know - but who?

A few hours away, the River Vixens are ready to enjoy a few days of nature and team bonding. But when they arrive at the cheerleading camp, there are two other feuding squads already there. The team from Stonewall Prep claims that the Greendale girls are the reason one of their teammates went missing two years ago.

Betty and Veronica volunteer to investigate after creepy things start happening all over camp. And when one of the cheerleaders nearly drowns in the lake, B and V know they have to find out the truth before anyone else gets hurt - or worse.

This original Riverdale novel features a story not seen on the show!"

Because this week's finale is sure to leave everything up in the air, so to hold you over until we finally see the gang graduate and the possible five year time jump, this will have to tide you over. 

Path of Night by Sarah Rees Brennan
Published by: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Half-witch, half-mortal 16-year-old Sabrina Spellman has made her choice: She's embraced her witchy roots, and her power is growing daily. But will it come at too high a price?

It's not easy being half-mortal, half-witch. At least, not for Sabrina Spellman. She just discovered that her dad is Satan... and that it's her destiny to rule Hell.

As usual, Sabrina's got other plans for her future. She's figured out a way to trap her father...but he's caged in the body of her boyfriend, Nick Scratch. Now the love of her life is stuck in Hell... with Satan stuck inside him.

Sabrina knows there's a way to get Nick back while also keeping dear old dad out of commission. She just has to figure out what it is. Unfortunately, her loyal cousin Ambrose is unavailable because he's off hunting Father Blackwood, the evil former head of the Church of Night.

Fortunately, Sabrina's still got her mortal friends, Roz, Harvey, and Theo. So when her aunt Zelda, now the church's high priestess, mentions an ancient quest that might help open the gates of Hell, Sabrina and her friends are all in. But Zelda failed to mention that the quest has some perils of its own..."

And once you've finish all of Rivderdale and caught up on Sabrina's adventures, now you have this new book!

Network Effect by Martha Wells
Published by: Tor.com
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Martha Wells' New York Times and USA Today bestselling Murderbot series exploded onto the scene in 2017, and the world has not been the same, since.

Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel, Network Effect.

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you're a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you're Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century."

I hope you're like me and have downloaded all the previous stories from the Tor newsletter over the last week in anticipation of today!

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