Thursday, January 07, 2016

lovely lovely books: a cornucopia of words as I clear out my netgalley shelf

So you guys know that I write my own books now, right?

Which makes it harder for me to write long, loquacious reviews --- but I do want to share some lovely books with you!

Carry Me Home (Blue Wren Shallows, #1)

Carry Me Home by Dorothy Adamek is a sweeping love story set in 19th Century Australia. It features some of my favourite romantic tropes: including a woman ahead of her time in a situation where she has to adapt quickly---proving her strength and indomitable spirit-- a romance borne of necessity and a marriage of convenience.   I immediately fell into the world --- a unique setting for me as I haven't read a ton of historicals set in Australia--- and in love with the characters.  
Perhaps the best part? Adamek has a deceptively easy style that lures you into what is (upon slow consideration) a natural writing talent: swift and beguiling and spinning a tapestry I know I want to return to.    Readers of Jody Hedlund: take note

Carry Me Home (Blue Wren Shallows, #1)

The Sweetest Rain by Myra Johnson   Here's an author I had never read before but the cover really enticed me as did the setting and the aftermath of the Great War and depression in Eden, Arkansas. This quiet romance is set on the brink of something and its sombre moments imply that this undercurrent is recognized.  The other reason I loved this book was Bryony and Michael's relationship.  Michael, a veteran of the Great War, is less than whole after his experience: attempting to cultivate beauty is true passion is botanical illustration.   You all must know that recluses with tortured pasts and botanical hankerings are big time Rachel catnip ( here's looking at you, Stephen Maturin).

[review copy: Franciscan Media]
The Farmerettes

The Farmerettes by Gisela Tobien Sherman is one of the strongest YA historicals I have read in an age.  It knits together the experiences of 6 young women during a memorable summer.   It's 1943 and while the men are at war, the women on the homefront are charged with keeping things running: the farms and fields, the food and rations as the nation supports the faraway conflict.
A steady and well-told coming-of-age story, Sherman paints each experience with a competent pen and the characters spring to life.     I loved this snapshot of an experience not always explored in fiction--especially fiction for teens.  To add, this book features strong female friendship: something else I love seeing in fiction.

[review copy: Second Story Press]

Lady of Magick (Noctis Magicae, #2)
Lady of Magick by Sylvia Izzo Hunter:   I kinda wanna say this will appeal to fans of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and of Naomi Novak.  There's a ton of romance in it which I love and Sophie and Gray are the type of couple that will set readers swooning.    I also have to confess that I read this sequence out of order , but am going back to the Midnight Queen.

Just to throw in another comparison: Hunter's golden-spired Oxford will put readers in mind of The Golden Compass.

[Review copy: Penguin/NAL]

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Most Anticipated Reads of 2016


The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch (August. Maybe. I think).

I think this is coming out in the summer? I mean, I hope!    I MEAN I AM DYING!  The wait between Red Seas under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves  was SO LONG so I am hoping that 2016 sees me hanging out with Locke and Jean!

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn  (September)

Veronica Speedwell and Stoker are back

A Time of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen  (March )
MOLLY MURPHY! I love her. Her husband Daniel drives me batty. Whatever.  Apparently Molly goes to San Francisco!

Flickers by Arthur Slade (August)

Honestly, it's been too long since I read a new Slade.  He's by far my favourite YA author in the world and I believe this book draws on his penchant for horror and spooks and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night

The Bridge of the Assassins by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Umm, I think this might be out! I mean, I am waiting for the English translation, yo.
It's a new Alatriste!   Well, not new, but since I don't read Spanish PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE someone translate this! Thanks!
Saint's Blood (Greatcoats, #3)

Saint's Blood by Sebastien de Castell  This is the third book in the Greatcoats series which is kinda  Dumas and kinda Firefly and I love it.

Fire by CC Humphreys
Plague was so good.I find myself thinking about the characters a lot and I am so eager for this next dark --and somewhat gruesome --adventure

This Lynn Austin Book I don't Know the Title of  by Lynn Austin

I love Lynn Austin.   I don't know the title of her book.  What the heck. Anyways, out this year a new Civil War set Lynn Austin! HUZZAH

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof (August)
I read this book already because Joanne was kind enough to let me and it was one of my favourite books of 2014.  It is beguiling and gripping and so beautifully rendered you will float on air.   She has such a delicate turn of phrase and her characters thrum flesh-and-blood to life.  


A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (February)

Her voice is so arresting: kind of like Natasha Pulley and Catherine Webb with a tinge of Gaiman.

Monday, January 04, 2016

What I am Geeking Out About Right Now

1.) Endeavour

I finally got around to watching the first two series while home at my parents' house for Christmas.  This is a quiet, cerebral, brilliant and Foyle-esque addition to the British mystery canon.

It is brilliant: with breathtaking cinematography, exceptional use of the music Endeavour Morse loves to listen to ---lots of opera and Mozart and chant-- and a golden-hued, twinkling spired Oxford as the backdrop to corruption that plagues the city world and the potent Academic life in the old city.

Endeavour Morse is a sad puppy of a detective who is so forlorn with his ill-fitting suits and large, watered eyes that you kind of want to take the crumpled, mournful fellow home and feed him up and pat him on the head--- luckily Inspector Fred Thursday (ROGER ALLAM AND HIS AMAZING VOICE) does just that on a few occasions.

The writing is to die for (no pun intended), an intricate waltz with such subtle infusion you have to turn your careful brain on.  A few cliff-hangers and twists left me with a huge clutch in my chest.

While the rest of the world was watching Downton last night, I found the first episode of series 3 and it is just as arresting.

I spent my university years working through the Colin Dexter books and watching the original series but I have to say I like this a lot better.   Probably my favourite Brit detective show since Foyle.

2.) Away in a Manger by Rhys Bowen

If Molly had married Jakob Singer we wouldn't be having the problems we have with silly Daniel who--though very much a product of his time and its idea of women in the home and hearth--- seems to forget once a page the WOMAN THAT HE MARRIED IS NEVER GOING TO FIT THAT expectation.  Why does he hold her to it?  FRUSTRATING MAN

Consistent Daniel rant aside,  I really enjoyed this Christmas-set mystery.  It's December, 1905 and Molly and her maid/adoptive daughter Bridie encounter an angel-voiced orphan shivering on a stoop. Determined to help, Molly does her best to provide for the young urchin while discovering that she and her brother are not what they seem at all.

A delicate and finely-tuned mystery that quickly delves into a few dark places,  Molly's New York is resplendent care of Bowen's unbelievably sure handle on the time period.  

So slip into a world of yesteryear: its sleigh bells and glistening shop windows, its oil lanterns and window displays and surround yourself in an Edwardian Christmas brilliantly imagined.

And just roll your eyes at Daniel and move on. Because, seriously pal,get it together!

(I won this book on Rhys Bowen's facebook site!)

3.) Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

I really thought this was just a smorgasbord of Gatiss and Moffatt's favourite Canonical moments.  They just played around like kids with a giant toy box and the nods to the canon, its adaptations (anyone notice the hint of the Granada theme in the soundtrack? ), and its pastiches!  (here's looking at you Laurie R King and Nicholas Meyer)

I loved the Victorian purist setting of course and I loved what they did with the 5 Orange Pips and the Diogenes Club: also the very meta and self-conscious discussion about Boswell Watson and his work in the strand.

I am not sure if this episode will prove quite as charming for those uninitiated with the Canon but I love that, like the series--and even more so ---it provided dollops of fun for those of us who who have spent most of our lives geeking out over the Holmesian world.,uk

4.) The Musketeers
Another Christmas viewing for me was  that last few eps of series 2 of the Musketeers which just is so much fun.  Great character development, expert production value and a decidedly snarky modern flair combine to make this a rip-roaringly good adventure and probably my favourite adaptation of the stories---no matter the liberties.