Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Virginia Woolf

Most people know Virginia Woolf. Of course most people know the bare minimum; she was a feminist writer who killed herself. If you know a little more you know she was a feminist writer who was part of the Bloomsbury Group who killed herself with rocks. This is ingrained by high school curriculum and is a simplification of a life filled with brilliance and madness. Virginia Stephens was born into a blended household, with two boys and a girl from her mother's previous marriage to Herbert Duckworth, and a girl from her father's previous marriage to William Mackepeace Thackeray's youngest daughter, Minny. Her parents went on to have four more children together, including her, despite attempts to curtail their family at five children after the birth of Virginia's older sister Vanessa. Over the years it has become accepted knowledge that Virginia's accusations of sexual abuse at the hands of her half-brothers wasn't a product of her active imagination and probably fed into her mental collapses, the first of which happened when she was thirteen with the death of her mother.

She would suffer mental collapses many more times, the final resulting in her taking her life. Yet despite the fact that the death of her father triggered one of these collapses, it also resulted in her liberation. After his death the family moved to Bloomsbury where they lived as they wished, often holding salons for her brothers' college friends. They became known as the Bloomsbury Group, compromised of writers, philosophers, artists, intellectuals, friends, and lovers who's "prime objects in life were love, the creation and enjoyment of aesthetic experience and the pursuit of knowledge." Her first book, The Voyage Out, was published in 1915 when she was 33, under her half-brother's imprint, Gerald Duckworth and Company. But her second book, Mrs. Dalloway, published in 1925 is easily her most famous. This was printed by Hogarth Press, a publishing house that Virginia established with her husband Leonard in 1917. Though married to Leonard until her death her great love was Vita Sackville-West. Though all the love and family in the world couldn't help her with the depression she felt with the onset of the second world war, and in 1941, at the age of 59, she committed suicide.       

Monday, June 29, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published by: Del Rey
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets....

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico - “fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar).

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find - her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind."

I know Gothic is my comfort zone, but I'm ashamed to say so much of my bookshelves are white authors, so how about this, let's try something new that feels like home? Baby step your way out of your comfort zone.   

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the bestselling author of A Beautiful Poison comes another spellbinding historical novel full of intrigue, occult mystery, and unexpected twists.

New York City, 1899. Tillie Pembroke's sister lies dead, her body drained of blood and with two puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker's new novel, Dracula, has just been published, and Tillie's imagination leaps to the impossible: the murderer is a vampire. But it can't be - can it?

A ravenous reader and researcher, Tillie has something of an addiction to truth, and she won't rest until she unravels the mystery of her sister's death. Unfortunately, Tillie's addicted to more than just truth; to ease the pain from a recent injury, she's taking more and more laudanum...and some in her immediate circle are happy to keep her well supplied.

Tillie can't bring herself to believe vampires exist. But with the hysteria surrounding her sister's death, the continued vampiric slayings, and the opium swirling through her body, it's becoming increasingly difficult for a girl who relies on facts and figures to know what's real - or whether she can trust those closest to her."

Vampire mania and opium addiction? I'm in!

The Silk House by Kayte Nunn
Published by: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Kindle, 323 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Weaving. Healing. Haunting. The spellbinding story of a mysterious boarding school sheltering a centuries-old secret by the bestselling author of The Botanist's Daughter.

Australian history teacher Thea Rust arrives at an exclusive boarding school in the British countryside only to find that she is to look after the first intake of girls in its 150-year history. She is to stay with them in Silk House, a building with a long and troubled past, where the shadows hide more mysteries than she could ever imagine.

In the late 1700s, Rowan Caswell leaves her village to work in the home of an English silk merchant. She is thrust into a new and dangerous world where her talent for herbs and healing soon attracts attention.

In London, Mary-Louise Stephenson lives amid the clatter of the weaving trade and dreams of becoming a silk designer, a job that is the domain of men. Arriving in the market town of Oxleigh, she brings with her a length of fabric woven with a pattern of deadly plants that will have far-reaching consequences for all who dwell in the silk house.

Intoxicating, haunting and inspired by the author's background, The Silk House is the exceptional new gothic mystery by Kayte Nunn."

Yep, I'm ALL about the Gothic this week! 

The House on Widows Hill by Simon R. Green
Published by: Severn House Publishers
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 3190 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Ishmael Jones investigates a haunted house...but is haunted by his own past in the latest of this quirky paranormal mystery series.

"That house is a bad place. Bad things happen there..." Set high on top of Widows Hill, Harrow House has remained empty for years. Now, on behalf of an anonymous prospective buyer, Ishmael and Penny are spending a night there in order to investigate the rumours of strange lights, mysterious voices, unexplained disappearances, and establish whether the house is really haunted. What really happened at Harrow House all those years ago? Joined by a celebrity psychic, a professional ghost-hunter, a local historian and a newspaper reporter, it becomes clear that each member of 'Team Ghost' has their own pet theory as to the cause of the alleged haunting. But when one of the group suddenly drops dead with no obvious cause, Ishmael realizes that if he can find out how and why the victim died, he will have the key to solving the mystery."

See? It's my Gothic week!

Come When I Call You by Shayna Krishnasamy
Published by: Deep Dark Press
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Kindle, 216 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"For fans of The Little Stranger and Never Let Me Go comes a riveting and elegantly chilling tale of secrets, lies, and things that creep in the night.

Anna Maron has always been the clever cousin, the older one. The follower of rules. Now sixteen, she attends the prestigious Claymore Manor boarding school, a place where girls find and lose themselves, and boys like Ben offer endless distraction. Where life seems almost normal, and Anna can ignore those things she longs to forget - like the things that she sees...and wishes she didn't.

Anna has almost convinced herself that she’s not all that different, until her cousin Lucia shows up, bruised and battered, and desperate for help. Lucia, with her chilling charm and mystery. Lucia, who shares the same strange gift as Anna, but embraces it even as her hold on reality crumbles away. Now a snowstorm is moving in, and icy weather brings a reckoning of past and present...and the living and dead.

In this deliciously unnerving contemporary gothic novel, Shayna Krishnasamy draws readers into a tale that uniquely explores the ties that bind, the lies we tell ourselves, and how some secrets only come alive in the dark."


Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound - and dangerous - secrets hidden within its walls?

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity - and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father's book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father's death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself - a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Alternating between Maggie’s uneasy homecoming and chapters from her father’s book, Home Before Dark is the story of a house with long-buried secrets and a woman’s quest to uncover them - even if the truth is far more terrifying than any haunting."

"True" haunting made meta? YAS!

Murder at Blackwater Bend by Clara McKenna
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Wild-hearted Kentuckian Stella Kendrick cautiously navigates the strict demands of British high society as the future Lady of Morrington Hall. But when petty scandals lead to bloody murder, her outspoken nature could be all that keeps her alive...

Following a whirlwind engagement to Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst, Stella is finding her footing within an elite social circle in picturesque rural England. Except tea time with refined friends can be more dangerous than etiquette faux pas - especially in the company of Lady Philippa, the woman Lyndy was once set to marry, and her husband, the ostentatious Lord Fairbrother...

Outrage erupts and accusations fly after Lord Fairbrother’s pony wins best in breed for the seventh consecutive year. The man has his share of secrets and adversaries, but Stella and Lyndy are in for a brutal shock when they discover his body floating in the river during a quiet morning fishing trip...

Suddenly unwelcome around hardly-grieving Lady Philippa and Lyndy’s endlessly critical mother, Stella faces the bitter reality that she may always be an outsider - and one of her trusted new acquaintances may be a calculating killer. Now, Stella and her fiancé must fight against the current to catch the culprit, before they’re the next couple torn apart by tragedy."

I just finished rewatching Berkeley Square and am all about American women marrying into the English upper class. 

Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The beloved author returns with a remarkable novel of both raw suspense and lyric beauty - the story of a lost pilot and a wartime photographer that will leave its mark on your soul.

In 1947, photographer and war correspondent Janey Everett arrives at a remote surfing village on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to research a planned biography of forgotten aviation pioneer Sam Mallory, who joined the loyalist forces in the Spanish Civil War and never returned. Obsessed with Sam’s fate, Janey has tracked down Irene Lindquist, the owner of a local island-hopping airline, whom she believes might actually be the legendary Irene Foster, Mallory’s onetime student and flying partner. Foster’s disappearance during a round-the-world flight in 1937 remains one of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries.

At first, the flinty Mrs. Lindquist denies any connection to Foster. But Janey informs her that the wreck of Sam Mallory’s airplane has recently been discovered in a Spanish desert, and piece by piece, the details of Foster’s extraordinary life emerge: from the beginnings of her flying career in Southern California, to her complicated, passionate relationship with Mallory, to the collapse of her marriage to her aggressive career manager, the publishing scion George Morrow.

As Irene spins her tale to its searing conclusion, Janey’s past gathers its own power. The duel between the two women takes a heartstopping turn. To whom does Mallory rightfully belong? Can we ever come to terms with the loss of those we love, and the lives we might have lived?"

I need to do a full on Beatriz binge this summer I think...

A Duke, The Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley
Published by: Zebra
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Created by a shrewd countess, The Widow’s Grace is a secret society with a mission: to help ill-treated widows regain their status, their families, and even find true love again - or perhaps for the very first time...

When headstrong West Indian heiress Patience Jordan questioned her English husband's mysterious suicide, she lost everything: her newborn son, Lionel, her fortune - and her freedom. Falsely imprisoned, she risks her life to be near her child - until The Widow's Grace gets her hired as her own son’s nanny. But working for his unsuspecting new guardian, Busick Strathmore, Duke of Repington, has perils of its own. Especially when Patience discovers his military strictness belies an ex-rake of unswerving honor - and unexpected passion...

A wounded military hero, Busick is determined to resolve his dead cousin’s dangerous financial dealings for Lionel’s sake. But his investigation is a minor skirmish compared to dealing with the forthright, courageous, and alluring Patience. Somehow, she's breaking his rules, and sweeping past his defenses. Soon, between formidable enemies and obstacles, they form a fragile trust - but will it be enough to save the future they long to dare together?"

We have now moved on from the Gothic to Dukes. 

Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean
Published by: Avon
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with the much-anticipated final book in her Bareknuckle Bastards series, featuring a scoundrel duke and the powerful woman who brings him to his knees.

Grace Condry has spent a lifetime running from her past. Betrayed as a child by her only love and raised on the streets, she now hides in plain sight as queen of London’s darkest corners. Grace has a sharp mind and a powerful right hook and has never met an enemy she could not best...until the man she once loved returns.

Single-minded and ruthless, Ewan, Duke of Marwick, has spent a decade searching for the woman he never stopped loving. A long-ago gamble may have lost her forever, but Ewan will go to any lengths to win Grace back…and make her his duchess.

Reconciliation is the last thing Grace desires. Unable to forgive the past, she vows to take her revenge. But revenge requires keeping Ewan close, and soon her enemy seems to be something else altogether - something she can’t resist, even as he threatens the world she's built, the life she's claimed…and the heart she swore he'd never steal again."

See? Dukes!

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
Published by: Doubleday
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with the glittering tale of a young woman who finds herself torn between two men: the WASPY fiancé of her family's dreams and George Zao, the man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.

On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can't stand him. She can't stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can't stand that he knows more about Casa Malaparte than she does, and she really can't stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin Charlotte. "Your mother is Chinese so it's no surprise you'd be attracted to someone like him," Charlotte teases. The daughter of an American-born Chinese mother and a blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton, where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucie is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment building, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world--and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures."

Your perfect summer escapist fantasy! 

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion by Greg Pak, Simon Spurrier, Marc Guggenheim, and Jon Adams
Published by: Marvel
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The Age of Star Wars - an epic series of adventures uniting your favorite characters from all eras - reaches the iconic heroes and villains of the original trilogy! Witness the moments that defined them, the incredible battles that shaped them - and their eternal conflict between light and darkness! Solo stories spotlight major figures from Star Wars Episodes IV-VI - from Luke, Leia and Han to Lando, Yoda and more! And on the dark side, Darth Vader is joined by Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt, Grand Moff Tarkin and the cold, calculating bounty hunter known as IG-88!"

I've been really all about Star Wars lately... 

Friday, June 26, 2020

TV Series Review - Z: The Beginning of Everything

Z: The Beginning of Everything
Based on the book by Therese Anne Fowler
Starring: Christina Ricci, Maya Kazan, Sarah Schenkkan, Jamie Anne Allman, David Strathairn, Kristine Nielsen, Scott Rosenfeld, David Hoflin, Jim True-Frost, Talia Balsam, Matt Malloy, Holly Curran, Jordan Dean, Corey Cott, Andrew Call, Andrew Bridges, Joel Brady, AJ Cedeno, Christina Bennett Lind, Natalie Knepp, Lucy Walters, Bill Phillips, Tony Manna, Cameron Scoggins, Conor Donovan, Randy Kovitz, Sean Bell, Ian Jarvis, Jun Naito, and Gene Jones
Release Date: January 27th, 2017
Rating: ★★★★
To Watch

Zelda is a bit of a whirlwind to the belles of Montgomery, Alabama. She swims, in a nude colored bathing suit, she dances, ballet as well as the more risque numbers, she parties, she drinks, she smokes, she hangs outside the local whorehouse with her friends shaming the men going inside. She isn't like anything that is expected or acceptable, yet she is endearing, even to her exasperated family. She's the baby who is going to break all the rules and when F. Scott Fitzgerald enters her life, he's the biggest break their is. A Yankee who aspires to be a writer who will break her heart again and again, yet she cannot live without him, she cannot give him up. And she does try. But then his book is finally accepted for publication and Zelda finally accepts his marriage proposal and their whirlwind of a life begins. Arriving in New York City Zelda is overwhelmed by how vast and big their new life shall be. They get married and the nonstop party begins that very night in the honeymoon suite of their hotel. Zelda soon realizes that in order to fit in she's going to have to be even bolder and brassier and bare herself to be accepted as Scott's wife. So she transforms into a character straight out of one of Scott's stories. Short hair, sultry dresses, no more frills and furbelows for the wife of F. Scott! But also because she's his wife, no more freedom with her own artistic expression. Any dreams of taking her "it" girl status to the next level in Hollywood is stifled by Scott. She's there to come to his readings, to inspire him, to be on his arm as he parades his success in front of all those who thought he'd never make it. A success that needs a followup if they are to keep living the life they are. Because the bills keep piling up and Zelda keeps spending the money, being kept in the dark by Scott as to their finances. Therefore they must leave New York and they get a house in Westport. There all their troubles are amplified and things come to a head. But one thing is certain, no matter how bad they are for each other they cannot survive apart. 

Therese Anne Fowler's book on Zelda Fitzgerald is an interesting logistical puzzle when you get to adapting it. From the framing device to Zelda and Scott's power dynamic to the narrative style, everything had to be reconsidered within this new medium. First and foremost is switching from a first person narrative to a hybrid which fleshes out the characters as something other than just how Zelda sees them while maintaining her voice. In order to successfully do this I was intrigued that instead of having Zelda and Scott somewhat equals they softened Zelda and hardened Scott, leaning heavily into being "Team Zelda" as Fowler herself puts it. Instead of Zelda's work and influence on Scott as a kind of "collaboration under duress" Scott is all out stealing her words and making them his own. He comes across as a pilfering, hostile, unlikable drunk, who will hurt Zelda any way he can. Now the book didn't endear me to Scott, but this series, it made me really hate him. There wasn't really any grey areas to their relationship, it was much more black and white, and to me, maybe a bit more romantic because there is the victim and the victor, and Zelda is deified as the true genius. While this might feel less realistic, Zelda has spent years being the millstone around Scott's neck in biographies and movies, so perhaps it was time for a little justice. Perhaps it was time for Zelda to be the out and out heroine. It sure made for bingeable viewing! Each thirty minute slice of life flowed into the next until the abrupt ending, which was meant to bridge into a second season which was commissioned and then cancelled. I can see why, once their daughter Scottie enters the picture their life changes and the show wouldn't have had the roaring twenties ritziness that so exemplifies the first season. The look, the feel, the sets, the costumes, everything made this time period come alive, almost more than the book. Because if anything, the twenties is about appearances, and well, no matter how well written a book is, sometimes things have to be seen to be believed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Book Review - Therese Anne Fowler's Z

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: March 26th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 375 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy

On the eve of her husband's death Zelda looks back on their life and writes to him about their future, their next great act that she doesn't know will never come. She was the belle of the ball and he was the Yankee soldier with ambitions of being a writer who swept her off her feet despite a lack of prospects and a northern upbringing. But marrying an unpublished writer would be folly. Therefore Zelda broke Scott's heart in order to push him to finish rewriting his first novel. Eight days after This Side of Paradise was published they were married and their decadent life in New York City began. Their bank account would widely fluctuate from being able to afford the most luxurious raccoon coats to not being able to buy groceries. Not that Scott bothered to tell Zelda about their finances, when in need he'd sacrifice his talent and his time writing his next great novel to churning out a story for the magazines he vocally reviled. But New York would prove too costly and with a baby on the way they moved to Minnesota to be near Scott's family. There Zelda found a surprising opportunity besides being a new mother she started to write pieces for the magazines Scott disliked. But he didn't dislike the money or his wife getting credit, even if he often received partial or full credit on her work. Zelda did dislike that. But what was she to do as the wife of a famous author who was notorious for spending more than he could earn. This habit soon led them to a vagrant lifestyle in France where their money could stretch further. They surrounded themselves with artists and authors yet Zelda resented always being the wife. And then Hemingway came into their life. Driving even more of a wedge between the now acrimonious couple. But through the years to come, the ups and downs, the coast to coast relocations, the drinking, the hospitalizations, they always came back to each other, until they no longer could. Until that day in December when Scott left this world.

There's a fine line that is tread when writing a fictional book about a real person, you have to go more for the emotional connection while still keeping enough historical content to ground it in reality. I find this is even more so for wives of authors, and yes, this is a whole subset of historical fiction. Because so much is known about certain authors that their wives, even if they aren't as famous as Zelda, are part of the mystique of the author. Part of their legend. And a truly successful book about a "wife" is one in which she is able to break away from her husband's legacy and be seen for herself. The problem is with Scott and Zelda they are so intertwined that this book is more about their suffocating co-dependence and how that affected Zelda emotional, physically, and artistically. And to get this emotional connection Fowler has gone the logical root of being "Team Zelda" and demonizing Scott, to an extent. Because as she mentions at the end of the book, fans of the Fiztgeralds are all about taking sides. But just the basic facts of Scott viewing the life they lived together as fodder for HIS work ONLY should be enough to make you sympathize with Zelda. Her letters, her stories, her reviews, her diaries, her experiences, all of it, Scott laid claim to. She was his "wife" and nothing more. Fowler shows quite clearly and sympathetically that this is what destroyed them. They destroyed each other because Scott laying claim to Zelda's life forced her into a mental collapse resulting in him becoming her caretaker. So while I felt the narrative got to the heart of the issue I still felt that it could have been presented more eloquently. The beginning of the book is so beautifully written but as the story continues, as Zelda's life disintegrates, the quality trails off, the story becomes more elliptical and suffers. This book is a good start for those interested in Zelda and the Fiztgeralds, but as the author says herself; "Look closer and you'll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true." Just don't look for it here.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H.G. Parry
Published by: Redhook
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 544 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A sweeping tale of revolution and wonder in a world not quite like our own, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a genre-defying story of magic, war, and the struggle for freedom in the early modern world.

It is the Age of Enlightenment - of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for revolution in France, to the weather mage Toussaint L'Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalization of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas.

But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict. And it will require the combined efforts of revolutionaries, magicians, and abolitionists to unmask this hidden enemy before the whole world falls to darkness and chaos."

Oh so close to being REGENCY MAGIC!!!

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison
Published by: Tor Books
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor, returns with The Angel of the Crows, a fantasy novel of alternate 1880s London, where killers stalk the night and the ultimate power is naming.

This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows."

Alternate history geek in me is excited, but so is the Ripperologist in me!

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
Published by:
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 160 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Zen Cho returns with The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined."

I am so excited for this book I have literally had it preordered since before there was cover art!

Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Tanaz Bhathena's Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.

Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.

Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl - Gul - in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance - and discovers a magic he never expected to find.

Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort...a world with secrets deadlier than their own."

I have always loved stories in India, no matter the time period or fantastical bent.

What's Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott
Published by: Doubleday
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A gripping debut set in modern-day Tokyo and inspired by a true crime, for readers of Everything I Never Told You and The Perfect Nanny, What's Left of Me Is Yours charts a young woman's search for the truth about her mother's life - and her murder.

In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the "wakaresaseya" (literally "breaker-upper"), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings. When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō's job is to do exactly that--until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter's life.

Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, Stephanie Scott exquisitely renders the affair and its intricate repercussions. As Rina's daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother's story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession."

True crime? I'm listening!

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell
Published by: Gallery/Saga Press
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 608 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this brilliant debut fantasy, a story of secrets, rebellion, and murder are shattering the Hollows, where magic costs memory to use, and only the son of the kingdom’s despised traitor holds the truth.

Michael is branded a traitor as a child because of the murder of the king’s nine-year-old son, by his father David Kingman. Ten years later on Michael lives a hardscrabble life, with his sister Gwen, performing crimes with his friends against minor royals in a weak attempt at striking back at the world that rejects him and his family.

In a world where memory is the coin that pays for magic, Michael knows something is there in the hot white emptiness of his mind. So when the opportunity arrives to get folded back into court, via the most politically dangerous member of the kingdom’s royal council, Michael takes it, desperate to find a way back to his past. He discovers a royal family that is spiraling into a self-serving dictatorship as gun-wielding rebels clash against magically trained militia.

What the truth holds is a set of shocking revelations that will completely change the Hollows, if Michael and his friends and family can survive long enough to see it."

Memory for magic is a memorable and fascinating conceit! 

Elemental: Shadows of the Otherside by Whitney Hill
Published by: Benu Media
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020
Format: Paperback, 308 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Enter an urban fantasy world where elves, vampires, weres, djinn, and others maintain a precarious balance of power in North Carolina. Welcome to Otherside.

Private investigator and sylph Arden Finch is determined to come out of the shadows and practice her forbidden magic. There's just one problem: the elves have a bounty on elementals like her.

When an elf hires Arden without realizing what she is, she seizes the chance to gain leverage in the dangerous world of Otherside - even if it means risking exposure. But as the case grows more perilous, Arden draws the attention of the region's deadliest power players.

Fans of Kim Harrison, Faith Hunter, and the early Anita Blake series will find a kick-ass heroine to love in Arden.

Content warnings: swearing, light consensual sex, physical violence, death, slurs (not toward any real racial or ethnic group/identity), threat of sexual violence."

All about the urban fantasy!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Zelda Fitgerald

Zelda Fitzgerald is a tragic figure, and not just because she died sedated and locked in in a fire that broke out at the hospital she was living at in Asheville, North Carolina, claiming her life and the lives of eight other women when she was only forty-seven, but because she will forever be known, and to some vilified, as F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Zelda Sayre, was the pampered baby of her family. She was active and artistic from an early age, taking an interest in swimming and dance, and later an interest in drink and boys. She was as shocking as she could be given the society she was surrounded with and her strict father, the judge. But the war and the parties for the troops gave her greater leeway than a southern belle would normally have and right before her eighteenth birthday she met F. Scott and both their lives would be forever entwined and she would find notoriety as the "first American flapper."

After their marriage while she at first reveled in Scott's success, the fact that she was contributing to that success uncredited was a thorn in her side. He often took whole sections of her writing, especially from her journals, and used them for his work. When she'd write pieces of her own she would have to share writing credit just in order to get paid a fair price, or that's what Scott and his agent said. She was creatively stifled, not able to write or draw or do anything without Scott overriding her. Therefore she took solace in dance. Only she took her escape to the extreme, pushing herself too hard, making herself sick. When Scott finally told her to give up her dreams she broke down and was hospitalized. From the age of thirty onwards she would spend her life in and out of hospitals. Many people will insist that her illness and Scott's caregiving duties are what led him to never fulfill his early potential. But Scott put it best: “Perhaps 50 percent of our friends and relatives would tell you in all honest conviction that my drinking drove Zelda insane - the other half would assure you that her insanity drove me to drink.” They weren't good for each other and they self-destructed, but what a conflagration to behold.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Movie Review - The Great Gatsby 2013

The Great Gatsby
Based on the book by F. Scott Fitgerald
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jack Thompson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Clarke, Isla Fisher, Adelaide Clemens, Kate Mulvany, Iota, Gus Murray, Max Cullen, Brendan Maclean, Richard Carter, Jake Ryan, Amitabh Bachchan, Kim Knuckey, David Furlong, Steve Bisley, Callan McAuliffe, and Tasman Palazzi
Release Date: May 1st, 2013
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

After the events of the previous summer Nick Carraway is a disillusioned drunk who has had himself committed. Talking with Dr. Perkins he reveals that the only true thing he found through all he endured was Jay Gatsby. Dr. Perkins recommends that Nick, who has always had ambitions of being a writer, write about Gatsby. Write about his experiences with this man. The book doesn't need to be for anyone other than himself, but the doctor thinks it will help Nick recover. Over the course of the winter as it thaws and becomes spring Nick writes Gatsby's story, which begins with Nick going to see his old college classmate Tom Buchanan in East Egg, an athlete through and through who spends his copious leisure time playing polo or playing around with his mistress Myrtle. Myrtle is a bit of a surprise to Nick as he thought Tom happily married to Daisy, who happens to be Nick's cousin. But according to Myrtle's sister, neither Tom nor Myrtle love their respective spouses. This is the first real step down into the depravity that will take ahold of Nick. But for awhile he will stay afloat because of his neighbor in West Egg, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby throws the most lavish, most decadent, most extraordinary parties, and yet no one, other than Nick, has actually ever been invited. They just show up and the Bacchanalia begins. But who would throw a party and then not partake of the revels? That is the enigma of Gatsby. Soon though Nick will be privy to all because of his unique situation and relation to Daisy. Gatsby has a favor to ask, a simple favor, he wants Nick to invite Daisy to tea, and then he'll just stroll in and sweep Daisy off her feet. Because five long years ago they were in love. This was before the war, when Jay was a penniless nobody, and Daisy loved him but knew she must marry for money. Now Gatsby wants to erase the intervening five years. Make Daisy's love for Tom nonexistent, and their happiness guaranteed. But life can't be so easily rewritten. Time moves forward, tragedy strikes, and disillusionment settles in.       

An over-the-top, frenetic, hyperactive adaptation that is the unholy lovechild of Dick Tracy and Sin City. But The Great Gatsby lacks the production quality and artistry of those two films which actually broke new ground instead of mashing up a whole lot of old and trying to make it new again. The problem all resides with Baz Luhrmann, he wants this film to be Busby Berkley on acid but he just doesn't have the talent of even the lowliest Hollywood hack director from the golden age of cinema. His work is all surface and no substance, just movies with catchy playlists, which on paper would make Luhrmann the ideal director for The Great Gatsby, but the problem is this adaptation strives to be something more, something greater, and therefore Luhrmann should have backed the hell away and just messed about with more absurd themes for the MET Gala. How about vintage advertising with a smattering of Erté? Because he sure as hell loved those visuals in this film, which, while cool, would have made Fitzgerald roll over in his grave. As for the framing device that reeks of a hackneyed Citizen Kane wannabe, it seems more like some desperate need to make Nick's narration plausible to a modern audience instead of just accepting that sometimes stories have narrators. Yes, it was interesting having Nick locked up for being a dipsomaniac writing Gatsby's story as therapy, thus combining Zelda and Scott into a single creative force that birthed the novel, but it was unnecessary. So much of this film is unnecessary. The movie takes half of it's screen time trying to figure itself out, much like the actor's accents. Leo finally landed on Kennedy if you were wondering, as for some of the others it's anyone's guess. But the end result of all THIS is a film that somehow succeeds in spite of itself because of the casting. Leo brings a depth to Gatsby you never thought possible. You feel he is lonely and hopeful and lost. You actually feel for him. You can see why Nick believes in him. Leo is a Gatsby to believe in and his loss is our loss.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Shadowplay by Joseph O'Connor
Published by: Europa Editions
Publication Date: June 16th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Shadowplay by New York Times best-selling author, Joseph O'Connor, is set during the golden age of West End theater in a London shaken by the crimes of Jack the Ripper.

Henry Irving is Victorian London's most celebrated actor and theater impresario. He has introduced groundbreaking ideas to the theater, bringing to the stage performances that are spectacular, shocking, and always entertaining. When Irving decides to open his own London theater with the goal of making it the greatest playhouse on earth, he hires a young Dublin clerk harboring literary ambitions by the name of Bram Stoker to manage it. As Irving's theater grows in reputation and financial solvency, he lures to his company of mummers the century's most beloved actress, the dazzlingly talented leading lady Ellen Terry, who nightly casts a spell not only on her audiences but also on Stoker and Irving both.

Bram Stoker's extraordinary experiences at the Lyceum Theatre, his early morning walks on the streets of a London terrorized by a serial killer, his long, tempestuous relationship with Irving, and the closeness he finds with Ellen Terry, inspire him to write Dracula, the most iconic and best-selling supernatural tale ever published.

A magnificent portrait both of lamp-lit London and of lives and loves enacted on the stage, Shadowplay's rich prose, incomparable storytelling, and vivid characters will linger in readers' hearts and minds for many years."

Ripperologist here who happened to work in the theatre! 

The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: June 16th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.

After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can't wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.

In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress...a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.

This romantic mystery from award-winning Australian novelist Tea Cooper will keep readers guessing until the astonishing conclusion."

Cursed gems!?! YAS!

Nightingale House by Steve Frech
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: June 16th, 2020
Format: Kindle, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"For fans of Stephen King, Mark Edwards, and The Haunting of Hill House comes a dark tale of a mysterious house haunted by tragedy.

The Nightingale House is a new beginning for widower Daniel Price and his young daughter Caitlyn. After months of grief, this will be the place where they start their life as a family of two.

But something is wrong - Daniel can’t settle. There’s an odd, cold feeling in the master bedroom, and a mysterious dripping noise that seems to move from room to room. Whispers of I can’t sleep echo through the corridors, long into the night.

And then Daniel uncovers the chilling story of the family who lived in the house years before, of betrayal, tragedy, and murder. Could the Nightingale House be not the home Daniel dreamed of for his daughter - but a place that will bring their worst nightmares to life?"

Everyone should have a good haunted house story to read in the summer months.

Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht
Published by: Tin House Books
Publication Date: June 16th, 2020
Format: Paperback
To Buy

The official patter:
"The “splendid genre-pushing” (People) Vera Kelly series returns in full force as our recently out-of-the-spy-game heroine finds herself traveling from Brooklyn to a sprawling countryside estate in the Caribbean in her first case as a private investigator.

When ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day, she reluctantly goes into business as a private detective. Heartbroken and cash-strapped, she takes a case that dredges up dark memories and attracts dangerous characters from across the Cold War landscape. Before it’s over, she’ll chase a lost child through foster care and follow a trail of Dominican exiles to the Caribbean. Forever looking over her shoulder, she nearly misses what’s right in front of her: her own desire for home, connection, and a new romance at the local bar.

In this exciting second installment of the Vera Kelly series, Rosalie Knecht challenges and deepens the Vera we love: a woman of sparkling wit, deep moral fiber, and martini-dry humor who knows how to follow a case even as she struggles to follow her heart."

If you're missing Killing Eve, this book is for you.

American Demon by Kim Harrison
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: June 16th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:

What happens after you've saved the world? Well, if you're Rachel Mariana Morgan, witch-born demon, you quickly discover that something might have gone just a little bit wrong. That the very same acts you and your friends took to forge new powers may have released something bound by the old. With a rash of zombies, some strange new murders, and an exceedingly mysterious new demon in town, it will take everything Rachel has to counter this new threat to the world--and it may demand the sacrifice of what she holds most dear."

I know I'm not the only one who thinks that summer should be all about new Urban Fantasy reads!

Glow: Book I, Potency by Aubrey Hadley
Published by: Ruby and Topaz Publishing
Publication Date: June 16th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 420 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The Sleeping Syndrome has returned after a six-month hiatus. This time, it's popped up in New York, and it's wiped out an entire homeless shelter. The same night of the outbreak - thousands of miles away - Harper, a seventeen-year-old girl, finds herself face-to-face with a glowing figure in the desert outskirts of her neighborhood. As the world goes on high-alert from the Syndrome, Harper is kidnapped and taken to the Base of Ki, a massive dome with a sheening white city and fantastic technology...built by beings from another solar system. There, she must form cross-species alliances to save her friends, family, and the human race before she loses all chance of returning to Earth."

It's finally out!

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