AUGUST 2021

Sculptures that make novel use of books – in pictures

Oof, Y’all, Dictionary.com Just Added Over 300 New Words And Definitions

Sleeping or Dead? and other hilarious “practical books for librarians” in pulp classic form. [do yourself a favor and loot at them all!]

Serious Stuff

Famed Crime Reporter Shot in Head After Leaving Amsterdam TV Studio

Inside the Rash of Unexplained Deaths at Fort Hood

How the Banning of Joyce’s Ulysses Led to “The Grandest Obscenity Case in the History of Law and Literature”

Booksellers at Hong Kong’s book fair are being forced to self-censor their selections.

A Reporter’s Fight to Expose Epstein’s Crimes — and Earn a Living

Two men charged in alleged plot to firebomb California Democratic Party headquarters

Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide

Local Stuff

Attorneys for woman accused of lying to grand jury in Thomas Wales killing want indictment dismissed

Powell’s Books is celebrating its 50-year anniversary with a curated collection of 50 books

Alaska’s libraries are facing devastating funding cuts

Portland literary icon Ursula K. Le Guin gets a Forever stamp

The days are getting shorter. Embrace the dark with 4 mystery and crime novels

SPECTRE

Fired by bot at Amazon: ‘It’s you against the machine’

Investigating Amazon, the Employer

Amazon Transformed Seattle. Now, Its Workers Are Poised to Take It Back.

Amazon Is Selling a Bogus ‘Plandemic’ COVID Conspiracy Book in Its ‘Science’ Section

FTC Launches Investigation Into Amazon’s MGM Acquisition: Report

Amazon tells bosses to conceal when employees are on a performance management plan

Amazon Denied a Worker Pregnancy Accommodations. Then She Miscarried.

Amazon sued by U.S. product-safety agency over dangerous items

Rumored to Accept Bitcoin by End of 2021 and Develop Own Currency by 2022: Report

EU regulator hits Amazon with record $887 million fine for data protection violations

Odd Stuff

Woman Joined International Drug Syndicate to be Closer to Her Son, Court Hears

Now you can buy the glorious mansion where Mark Twain died

Cops Ignored Threat Posed by Menacing Clowns

The Scary Story Behind The Most Haunted Painting In History

Words of the Month

dreadnought (n.): Literally (one who or that which) “fears nothing,” from the verbal phrase (drede ich nawiht is attested from c. 1200); see dread (v.) + nought (n.). As a synonym for “battleship” (1916) it is from a specific ship’s name. Dreadnought is mentioned as the name of a ship in the Royal Navy as early as c. 1596, but the modern generic sense is from the name of the first of a new class of British battleships, based on the “all big-gun” principle (armed with 10 big guns rather than 4 large guns and a battery of smaller ones), launched Feb. 18, 1906. (etymonline)

Awards

Here are the dark and twisty nominees for the 2020 Shirley Jackson Awards

2021 Agatha Award Winners

The 2021 Booker Prize Nominees

Book Stuff

Significant Edward Lear poems discovered

J.P. Morgan’s Personal Librarian Was A Black Woman. This Is Her Story

For the first time, Patricia Highsmith’s diaries will be available to the public.

A nun just unearthed a previously unknown Dante manuscript

Two Editors Who Showed What Publishing Should Be

One Good Thing: An incredible true crime book about the problems with true crime books

10 Crime Novels Full of Style, Plot, and Dark Humor

Booksellers Association Apologizes for Including Anti-Trans Book in Member Pack [morons...]

How to Write a Memorable Hit Man: A Conversation Among Connoisseurs

Octavia Butler’s 1979 bio is an object lesson in writing author bios

Bookstore’s Viral TikTok Calls Out Shoppers Who Turn Around LGBTQ+ Books To Hide Covers

Tess Gerritsen Still Prefers to Read Books the Old-Fashioned Way, on Paper

Meg Tilly on the Crossover Between Acting in Thrillers and Writing Them

A new start after 60: ‘I handed in my notice – and opened my dream bookshop’

Shawshank Redemption is actually about the power of libraries

Revisiting Raymond Chandler’s most iconic lines

Other Forms of Entertainment

Five Great Movies Based on Patricia Highsmith Books (That Aren’t the Ripley Adaptations)

The fascinating, horrifying history behind Steven Soderbergh’s new heist movie

Remembering Miss Fury – the world’s first great superheroine [here’s a cover]

Danny Trejo opens up about being typecast — and a close call with the Mexican Mafia

“Scarface” Startles Anew on the Criterion Channel

Murder Is My Business: In the true crime genre’s latest iteration, writers, reporters, bloggers, documentary filmmakers, and podcast hosts have taken a soiled brand and turned it into a collective exercise in retributive justice, recording and correcting the history of sexual violence.

The Real Story Behind ‘The Monster of Florence’

The Many Saints of Newark’ is Not the Story of Young Tony Soprano

The Strange Story of Orson Welles’ Lost Film, Mr. Arkadin

Mad Men’s John Slattery and Jon Hamm Reunite for Confess, Fletch

Graham Roland, Robert Redford, George R.R. Martin Making Hilleman’s ‘Dark Winds’ Series Starring Zahn McClarnon

The Decades-Long Road Behind AMC’s ‘Dark Winds’ Native American Drama Series

Cannes Review: Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass’

Mark Millar Returning to Spy World With Graphic Novel ‘King of Spies’

Karls Monzon Organized One of The Biggest Heists in Florida History. Here’s Where He is Today.

Antonio Banderas Is Indiana Jones 5‘s Latest Wild Acquisition

The 33 Sexiest Erotic Thrillers

8 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Listen to this Summer

Let’s Talk About Sneakers, the Most Charming, Baffling Espionage/Heist Movie
of the 1990s

1980s Noir Films Are Better Than 1940s Noir Films: Discuss

Words of the Month

daredevil (n.): 1794, “recklessly daring person, one who fears nothing and will attempt anything,” from dare (v.) + devil (n.). The devil might refer to the person, or the sense might be “one who dares the devil.” Compare scarecrow, killjoy, dreadnought, pickpocket (n.), cutthroat, also fear-babe a 16th C. word for “something that frightens children;” kill-devil “bad rum.” As an adjective, “characteristic of a daredevil, reckless,” by 1832. (etymonline) [The Marvel superhero first appeared in April, 1964.]

RIP

July 1: Robert Sacchi, Who Played Bogart Again and Again, Dies at 89

July 2: Jack Downing, Cold War spy who came out of retirement to help CIA, dies at 80

July 5: ‘Superman,’ ‘Lethal Weapon’ director Richard Donner dies at 91

July 9: William Smith, Action Actor and Star of ‘Laredo’ and ‘Rich Man, Poor Man,’ Dies at 88. The 6-foot-2 Smith, who was a champion discus thrower at UCLA, an arm-wrestling champion and a black belt in the martial arts, had 18-inch biceps and could do 5,100 continuous sit-ups and reverse curl 163 pounds. As prolific as he was strong, he had a whopping 289 credits on IMDb, seemingly in everything from the ’60s onward.

July 12: Charlie Robinson, ‘Night Court’ Star, Dies at 75

July 24: James Polk, Pulitzer winner for Watergate reporting, dies at 83

July 28: ‘Extraordinary’ crime writer Mo Hayder dies at 59

July 30: Jerry Granelli, drummer behind ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and former Cornish instructor, dies at 80

Links of Interest

July 6: The baffling persistence of plagiarism in the internet era

July 6: Constructing the Perfect Villain: The Bad Contractor

July 7: Inside the Fiction Group in a Maximum-Security Psychiatric Hospital

July 7: Shirley Jackson’s Love Letters

July 8: Charlotte Philby Remembers Her Paradoxical Grandfather, Kim Philby

July 9: Setting a Murder Mystery in the Real Hollywood Canteen Required Piercing a Veil of Myth and Nostalgia

July 12: Take this soothing room-by-room virtual tour of Jane Austen’s house

July 15: Cocaine stash worth €9m lands on roof of home in Sardinia

July 15: In Victorian London, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream Was a New Kind of Killer

July 15: For One Writer, Rediscovering the Novels of Dick Francis Was the Answer to a Personal Crisis and a Mysterious Illness

July 16: The Louvre’s Art Sleuth Is on the Hunt for Looted Paintings

July 19: Repentant thieves return Big Bird costume with a note: ‘Sorry to be such a big birden’

July 19: Tablet Reveals Babylonians Studied Trigonometry Before the Greeks

July 19: The Internet Made Crime Public. That’s When Things Got Complicated.

July 20: Thomas Gilbert and the Murder That Brought Down One of New York’s Most Privileged Families

July 20: Fragments of Ancient Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ Reunited After Centuries

July 20: The Story of 18th Century England’s Booming Graverobbing Industry, and the Man Who Inspired ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’

July 20: Defections and Detections: How a Sprawling Soviet Atomic Spy Network Was First Exposed

July 22: How Detective Fiction Helps A Forensic Psychiatrist in Her Work With Violent Offenders

July 22: Why Has Jeffrey Dahmer Become A Household Name, While The Names of His Victims Are Forgotten?

July 23: House of horror: Bath opens the world’s first museum dedicated to Mary Shelley

July 23: There is no National crime – all crime is local

July 23: Elvis’s annotated copy of The Prophet, gifted to his bodyguard and close friend, is on sale now

July 24: Who Killed the Nazi on Campus?

July 25: Some people just don’t get it. Cultural references, I mean

July 25: Buried in concrete: how the mafia made a killing from the destruction of Italy’s south

July 25: A Utah arrest shows the danger of laws that let government enforcers chill speech that they don’t like

July 26: How an 18th-Century Cookbook Offers Glimpses of Jane Austen’s Domestic Life

July 26: A Cozy Mystery Writer on the History of Class and Tea

July 27: Hobby Lobby Gives Up Stolen 3,500-Year-Old ‘Gilgamesh Dream Tablet’

July 27: A Margaret Keane ‘Big Eyes’ Painting Stolen Decades Ago Has Been Recovered

July 27: This Story About a KKK Prison Guard’s Murder Plot Is Flat Out Astonishing

July 29: Erik Larson Has a Scary Story He’d Like You to Hear

July 29: “Brother, you’ve got a fan now!” Read a letter from Nina Simone to Langston Hughes

July 29: Does ‘The Da Vinci Code’ Writer Have a Secret?

July 30: The first bestselling paperback original in the US was a work of lesbian pulp fiction

July 30: He Hired 2 Men to Kidnap His Wife. They Ended Up Drowning

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Chloe Neill – Shadowed Steel

The third installment of the Heirs of Chicagoland was a fast, fun and enjoyable read!

I mean, what’s not to love when you’ve got vampires, werewolves and everything in-between? Even better, Shadowed Steel finally sees our heroes and heroines emerge from their legendary parent’s shadows (and plot lines) to explore the mysteries and problems facing their Chicago.

(If you’re not acquainted with the series – the characters in Heirs are the kids of the original series – Chicagoland Vampires. You don’t have to read the original series to understand the new one – but I highly recommend it as they’re brilliant and add extra layers of nuance and fun to the newer books!)

Fran

It’s the writing, you see

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Rennie Airth’s writing, and if you’ve read his work, I know you get it.

If you haven’t, start with River of Darkness, and just keep going with John Madden’s investigations. You’ll be immersed in post-WWI life, and all the repercussions of the Great War.

I just finished The Decent Inn of Death, and it’s got some lovely surprises. Not whodunnit, at least not for me. But like every book by Rennie Airth, it’s not the surprise at the end but the whole journey. And here he takes us to visit Agatha Christie. Not literally, but The Decent Inn of Death definitely reminded me of Mousetrap.

One of the surprises is that, for the most part, the story doesn’t follow John Madden. Instead, we’re following his old chief and friend, former Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair, who goes to visit friends while the Maddens are away, and who gets caught up both in a mystery and a snowstorm, where there’s definitely something suspicious going on. And Angus has a murder to solve, but his health isn’t good, and these are stressful times.

It occurred to me while I was reading The Decent Inn of Death that I really like how Rennie Airth writes women. They’re strong, opinionated, forceful, and each woman is an individual character. They’re never cookie-cutter. And often, they’re surprising.

For example, Lucy Madden, John and Helen’s daughter, says this about marriage:

‘The trouble is I can’t see myself tied to any one man.’ She sighed. ‘The shine wears off so quickly. What I’d really like is to be one of those sultans who had scores of wives and kept them in a harem. I could probably manage with four or five – husbands, I mean. It would be so nice to be able to say, I’ll have you today…No, not you…you.’

‘You’re joking, of course.’

‘Am I?’ She sent a sly glance his way.

There are several women whom you will meet during your visit at The Decent Inn of Death, and each one is unique and, in her own way, perfect, although they have all manner of flaws. But you won’t become confused as to who is whom; Rennie Airth really does write women well!

JB

Bill Farley always said that they weren’t Stouts but it was always nice spending time with old friends. Robert Goldsborough’s Trouble at the Brownstone keeps up that trend. In his latest Nero Wolfe novel, the group on West 35th is disturbed when master gardener Theodore Horstmann is found nearly beaten to death. Only recently had he moved out of the brownstone into his own apartment and so the questions of where and how it happened are multiplied. All hands are called in to help and even Insp. Cramer is working with them – grousing a bit, of course, but everyone is working hard to find the culprit even as Horstmann remains in a coma. The solution may be unsurprising but is still satisfactory.

Stephen Hunter moves into a new world with Basil’s War. The book is set during WWII, the central character is an upper-class, cheeky and glib Brit, and the action is as speedy as the plot is convoluted. It is all about getting a clue to who is the Soviet spy in British intelligence not to expose them but so that information can be slipped to them that will convince Stalin to do what the Brits need him to do. They’re certain that if they just ask, he’ll think it is a devious plot and refuse, so they concoct this elaborate scheme to nudge him. Got it? Don’t worry, you’ll see once Basil’s carried out his mission. It’s a delightful book – none are exactly who you assume them to be…well, maybe van Boch of the SS. It is a very different turn from Hunter but its every bit as imaginative and serious as any of his other books, but this one is topped with a deceptive icing of nonchalant, even sporty, wit.

Respected independent scholar Jonathan Marshall is also an award-winning journalist. The reviews of his new book, Dark Quadrant: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy piqued my interest. It’s a fascinating book, beginning with FDR and moving forward through the growth of the Federal government, the Mob, the military-industrial complex (we really need to use Eisenhower’s original choice of “military-industrial-congressional-complex” all the time), and the parasites who affix themselves to all concerned. He brings it forward into the Trump administration and few come out of the book not covered with filth. Many of the names you’ll know – Roy Cohn, Howard Hughes, Tommy the Cork, Robert Maheu, Joseph McCarthy, Meyer Lansky, J. Edgar Hoover, Sam Giancana, Richard Nixon, on and on. Congressmen, Senators, CEOs and appointees. It’s all about greed and power, without an ounce of loyalty or civic responsibility. Talk about a shadow government… The depth and scholarship of his indictment is staggering. It’s simply staggering.

Granted, his tale is takes up nearly a century, and the players weave themselves deep into the country’s government and fabric, surfacing here and there through the decades and, following the money, entwine themselves with a variety of public figures from different facets of power. But it was disarming to continually run into his notes of “See chapter X” throughout the book, from the beginning chapters to the final ones. It gives the book a disjointed feeling, as if you’re to stop in chapter 2 to go to chapter 9 or go back from chapter 10 to chapter 5. Don’t, just keep plowing through sordid history of disgusting muck. It is an infuriating read due to subject and due to his scholarship. It’s an important subject and therefore an important book.

Finally, we’ve run into “issues” with WordPress. They’ve changed the way the program works making it less user friendly. To top it off, there was some sort of glitch and I lost reviews and links that I’d added. It’s been very frustrating. If this newzine seems thinner and less packed with goodies, that’s why.

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Amber’s List Of….

BESTBOOKSjpeg

Okay, so here’s the deal.

I cannot confine a decade’s worth of favorites to one simple list — my entire being revolts at the thought. I am also uninterested in inducing a biblio-anxiety by attempting to do so!

So instead, I decided to create a series of short lists of my hands down, all-out favorites that I first read between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2019. Whether or not they were published between those two dates is entirely incidental.

(Though I did make a separate list for those titles. See below.)

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List numero uno: Faves published & read between the aforementioned dates –

      1. The Rook – Daniel O’Malley
      2. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
      3. Written In Red – Anne Bishop

This was a close call but ultimately I chose The Rook because Ms. Thomas helped save herself while fending off some purple spores and rescued a possibly omniscient bunny!

List 2: Entire Contemporary Series I Burned Thru, Still Reread and Love –

      1. Aunt Dimity – Nancy Atherton
      2. The Parasol Protectorate (and that entire Universe) – Gail Carriger
      3. Mrs. Pollifax – Dorothy Gilman
      4. Mercy Thompson – Patricia Briggs
      5. Chicagoland Vampires – Chloe Neill
      6. Mrs. Malory – Hazel Holt

#3 – Agatha Christie: She deserves a list all to herself otherwise, she’d whoop everyone else! Can you believe my year with her was all the way back in 2014?

      1. Nemesis – Miss Marple
      2. Pale Horse – Ariadne Oliver (tangentially)
      3. Endless Night
      4. Cards At The Table – Oliver, Poirot, Race & Battle
      5. The Moving Finger – Miss Marple
      6. A Murder Is Announced – Miss Marple
      7. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Hercule Poirot
      8. Murder Is Easy – Mr. Harley Quin & Superintendent Battle
      9. Man In A Brown Suit – Colonel Race
      10. By The Pricking of My Thumbs – Tommy & Tuppence

**And Then There Was None is a masterpiece of suspense. So to give her other books a chance, I left it off! I also left off The Sleeping Murder as I’d read it well before this last decade!

4) Golden Age Favorites: Now, I loved all the books these authors wrote. However, these are my particular favorites within their series –

      1. Somewhere in the House – Elizabeth Daly
      2. Murder For Christmas – Francis Duncan
      3. Death In The Stocks – Georgette Heyer

List No. 5: My Favorite Historical Series I Devoured As Fast as I Found Them –

      1. Amelia Peabody – Elizabeth Peters
      2. Her Royal Spyness – Rhys Bowen
      3. Lady Julia Grey – Deanna Raybourn
      4.  Amory Ames – Ashley Weaver

List Number Six: Favorite Short Story Collections –

      1. Mr. Harley Quin – Agatha Christie
      2. The Black Widowers – Issac Asimov
      3. Sherlock Holmes – Doyle
      4. The Teahouse Detective – Baroness Orczy

Last But Not Least: My favorite YA/Kids books –

      1. The Last Dragon Slayer – Jasper Fforde
      2. Tokyo Heist – Diana Renn
      3. Goldenhand – Garth Nix
      4. Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

And even with all the books I’ve listed on here, I still feel like I’ve missed a few….sigh….And its also readily apparent I tend towards a certain flavor of mystery – and I’m all right with that!

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Don’t forget you still have time to catch up on my other blog Finder of Lost Things before series two starts in a couple months!

January 2020

drinkjpeg

WELCOME TO A NEW YEAR

WELCOME TO A NEW DECADE

We’ve recently learned that Sandy, the creator and original editor of our quarterly newsletter and one-time bookkeeper, has moved back to town.

Welcome Back! We hope to see you soon.

‘It’s really flattering’: Obama picks Spokane’s Jess Walter for favorite books of the year list

Extra! Extra! Pike Place Market newsstand to close after 40 years

      Serious Stuff

Bone-Marrow Transplants Alter Genetic IDs, Complicating DNA-Based Criminal Analysis

Henry Lee Lucas Was Considered America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer. But He Was Really a Serial Liar.

Evidence Scandal In Orange County Stirs Conflict Within Law Enforcement 

How This Con Man’s Wild Testimony Sent Dozens to Jail, and 4 to Death Row

Is this cave painting humanity’s oldest story? 

Stop Believing in Free Shipping 

Prime Leverage: How Amazon Wields Power in the Technology World ~ Software start-ups have a phrase for what Amazon is doing to them: ‘strip-mining’ them of their innovations. 

New Research Identifies Possible Mass Graves From 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre


From The Guardian’s Editor’s Best Stories of 2019: ‘Blood on their hands’: the intelligence officer whose warning over white supremacy was ignored

This Is America: Eleven years after Obama’s election, and three years into the Trump presidency, the threat of domestic terrorism can’t be ignored.


A group of self-taught investigators is confronting the limits of using DNA and genetic genealogy to identify victims.

      Words of the Month

vade-mecum (n.) “a pocket manual, handbook,” 1620s, Latin, literally “go with me;” from imperative of vadere “to go” (see vamoose) + me “me” + cum “with.” 

      Book Stuff

An Algorithm Can Tell Us How Much Shakespeare Was Actually Written by Shakespeare

In Greenwich Village, the Perfect New York Bookstore Lives On

Latin Dictionary’s Journey: A to Zythum in 125 Years (and Counting)

Janet Evanovich wins big with Stephanie Plum series and TV deals 

Alaska: Northern Noir ~ Crime fiction has found a strange home in the cold wilds of Alaska. (have to say these people are way behind the curve if they think this is new…)

Couth Buzzard Books, celebrating a milestone anniversary, has become the ‘Cheers’ of Greenwood

The Ferrante Effect’: In Italy, Women Writers Are Ascendant ~“My Brilliant Friend” and Elena Ferrante’s other best-selling books are inspiring female novelists and shaking up the country’s male-dominated literary establishment.

New book claims Albert Camus was murdered by the KGB 

7 Things Crime Readers Will No Longer Tolerate by Christopher Fowler

Get Radcliff!: The Search for Black Pulp’s Forgotten Author. Gary Phillips on the trail of Roosevelt Mallory, who helped revolutionize 1970s pulp fiction, then disappeared.

From Gar Anthony Haywood: I Wrote the Kind of Character I Wanted Most to Read About

The Elements of the Haunted House: A Primer or, How to Build a Haunted House Mystery from the Ground Up 

Jeff Lindsay Has a New Anti-Hero ~ The Dexter Author Talks Craft, Character, and Cannibalism 

Peter Pan’s dark side emerges with release of original manuscript 

George RR Martin opens bookshop next to his cinema in Santa Fe 

America 2019: Area man steals rare books in order to pay for cancer treatment. 

How Do Some Authors “Lose Control” of Their Characters?

The (Quiet) Death of a Legendary Parisian Bookstore

These are the 10 Best-Selling Books of the Decade

From Portland, another bookshop closes: Another Read Through is leaving Mississippi Avenue

Do apostrophes still matter?

The tricks that can turn you into a speed reader

Booksellers get holiday bonuses from James Patterson  

Rediscovering Dorothy B. Hughes’ Brutal Hollywood Take-Down, Dread Journey 

A Romance Novelist Spoke out about Racism. An Uproar Ensued

Here are the most popular books checked out of the Seattle Public Library in 2019

       Author Events

January 11 – Candace Robb and Kim Zarins, 4pm, UBooks

January 21 – Chad Dundas, 7:30pm, Powell’s

January 29 – Mary Wingate, 7pm, Village Books

January 30 – Russell Rowland, 7:30pm, Powell’s

      Other Forms of Fun

Motherless Brooklyn: Ed Norton on the film it took him 20 years to make 

How Olga Kurylenko Won ‘Bond’ and Narrowly Lost ‘Wonder Woman’

The Evolution of the Femme Fatale in Film Noir

The Bone Collector, Jeffery Deaver’s first book with forensic anthropologist Lincoln Rhyme, was made into a 1999 film staring Denzel Washington as Rhyme and Angelina Jolie as the young cop who becomes his “legman”. Rhyme is a quadraplegic and needs Amelia Sachs to visit the crime scenes. The books are a true updating of the armchair detective story – it’s a great series. Now, starting Friday, Jan. 10, the book comes to the smaller screen when ‘Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector’ debuts on NBC. As they say, check your local listings!

The Most Underrated Crime Films of the Decade

Coming in February: ‘Narcos: Mexico’: Scoot McNairy Hunts Diego Luna in Season 2 First Look 

From “Making a Murderer” to “Don’t F**k with Cats,” the evolution of true crime this decade

BioShock returns for more gene-enhanced gaming

      Words of the Month

Ignis fatuus: a light that sometimes appears in the night over marshy ground and is often attributable to the combustion of gas from decomposed organic matter or a deceptive goal or hope.

Ignis fatuus is a Latin term meaning, literally, “foolish fire.” In English, it has come to designate a hovering or flitting light that sometimes appears in the night over marshy ground that is attributable to the combustion of gas from decomposed organic matter. Other names for this light are jack-o’-lantern and will-o’-the-wisp—both of which are connected to folklore about mysterious men, Jack and Will, who carry a lantern or a wisp of light at night. A Scottish name for ignis fatuus is spunkie, from spunk, meaning “spark” or “a small fire.” It has also been told that ignes fatui (the Latin plural form) are roaming souls. No doubt these stories spooked listeners by candlelight, but in time, advancements in science not only gave us electricity to dispel the darkness but proved ignis fatuus to be a visible exhalation of gas from the ground, which is rarely seen today.

‘But thou art altogether given over, / and wert indeed, but for the light in thy face, the son of utter / darkness. When thou ran’st up Gadshill in the night to catch my / horse, if I did not think thou hadst been an ignis fatuus or a / ball of wildfire, there’s no purchase in money. O, thou art a / perpetual triumph, an everlasting bonfire-light! ‘

— William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, ca. 1597

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

       Links of Interest

November 26: Lee Child: How Jack Reacher Fits Into a Long History of Folk Heroes

December 2: Great Film Composers: The Music of the Movies: How the rise of the Nazis gave us the best film noir music

December 2: Judge tosses $71-million verdict against NBC Universal over ‘Columbo’ profits

December 2: ‘The Irishman’ Left Out the Full Story of the Disastrous Angelo Bruno and Frank Sidone Murders

December 3: ‘He Had It Coming’ looks back on the ‘Murderess Row’ that inspired ‘Chicago’

December 4: Five ‘hot mic’ moments that got leaders in trouble

December 5: The murdered ‘handsome’ priest with a decades-long secret

December 5: Spassky vs Fischer: How the chess battle became a theatre event

December 6: How to conquer work paralysis like Ernest Hemingway

December 9: Perfect’ Scotch whisky collection could be worth £8m

December 10: Failed plot to steal domain name at gunpoint brings 14-year prison term

December 11: “Portrait of a Lady” ~ Stolen Klimt mystery ‘solved’ by gardener in Italy

December 11: Art Forgery Is Easier Than Ever, and It’s a Great Way to Launder Money

December 11: Buyer returns Grease jacket to Olivia Newton-John after auction

December 12: The CIA’s Former Chief of Disguise Drops Her Mask

December 13: Hosting an Orgy? This 1970s Cookbook Has You Covered

December 13: Octopus and eagle square off at Canadian fish farm

December 16: Christopher Reeve’s ‘Superman’ Cape Sells at Auction, Sets Record

December 16: Mice watching film noir show the surprising complexity of vision cells

December 16: Babe Ruth: Baseball player’s landmark home run bat fetches $1m\

December 16: Meet a Bad Man Who Became a Truly Great Spy

December 16: Grave of top Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich opened in Berlin

December 17: A New Way of Looking at ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

December 17: Judge rules in favor of US effort to take Snowden book money

December 19: James Blake uses unseen Planet Earth footage in new video

December 19: Is the Netherlands becoming a narco-state?

December 20: Democratic lawmakers pushed Spy Museum to alter CIA torture exhibit\

December 21: Police department finds furry culprit behind toy theft

December 22: Take a look behind the ‘small doors to imaginary spaces’ within bookshelves

December 22: The night Samuel Beckett was nearly stabbed to death by a pimp

December 23: LS Lowry: Lost painting to go on sale after 70 years

December 23: I was a teenage code-breaker at Bletchley Park

December 23: Daniel Craig Wanted to Resign as Bond After ‘Spectre’. Here’s the Real Reason He Returned For ‘No Time to Die’

December 27: Sriracha hot sauce recall over ‘exploding’ bottle fears

December 31: Lawyers: Robert Durst Wrote Incriminating ‘Cadaver’ Note

December 31: Human remains found in Idaho cave identified as outlaw who died over 100 years ago

      Words of the Month

terroir: the combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight that gives wine grapes their distinctive character. First known use was in 1863. From Old French tieroir, from Vulgar Latin *terratorium, alteration of Latin territorium. (thanks to Merriam-Webster) [what a difference and “i” makes…]

      R.I.P.

December 3: D.C. Fontana, famed writer for Star Trek, dies at 80

December 7: Friends actor Ron Leibman dies at the age of 82

December 8:  Winston Lawson, Secret Service agent with JFK in Dallas, dies at 91

December 8: Caroll Spinney: Sesame Street’s Big Bird puppeteer dies

December 9: Overlooked No More: Rose Mackenberg, Houdini’s Secret ‘Ghost-Buster’

December 9: Battle of Britain pilot Maurice Mounsdon dies aged 101

December 10: George Laurer, an Inventor of the Modern Bar Code, Dies at 94

December 11: Jeanne Guillemin, pioneering researcher who uncovered a Cold War secret, dies at 76

December 13: Danny Aiello, beloved character actor and Oscar nominee for ‘Do the Right Thing,’ dies at 86

December 13: Elisabeth Sifton, editor and tamer of literary lions, dies at 80

December 16: Nicky Henson: Stage and screen actor 

December 20: Claudine Auger: French actress known for Thunderball role dies aged 78

December 20: Acclaimed Author and Journalist Ward Just Dead at 84

December 25: Allee Willis: ‘Friends’ theme songwriter

December 26: Sue Lyon, teenage star of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Lolita,’ is dead at 73

December 31: Sonny Mehta, visionary editor and head of Alfred A. Knopf, dies at 77

December 31: M. C. BEATON: R.I.P.

      Words of The Month

vamoose (v.): “to decamp, be off,” 1834, from Spanish vamos “let us go,” from Latin vadamus, first person plural indicative of vadere “to go, to walk, go hastily,” from Proto-Indo-European root *wadh- (2) “to go” (source also of Old English wadan “to go,” Latin vadum “ford;” see wade (v.)). (thanks to etymonline)

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Finder of Lost Things

This coming Friday we come to the last post for series one! Can you believe it? And we will see how Phoebe and Joseph cope with the after effects of the Woman In White’s attack.

Series Two – will drop in about two-ish months. I will give you guys plenty of warning when I’m going to start posting! Though on the upside if you haven’t started reading my story yet – this is the perfect time to catch up!

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Chloe Neill – Wicked Hour

The second book in the Heirs of Chicagoland series is a fun, fast-paced romp that is stronger than its predecessor by a factor of five. While a few of the original cast make their presence felt, they only enter into the narrative when necessary. Rather than making gratuitous and/or distracting appearances – which is really lovely.

The mystery presented in the second installment is also solid. Part of the Pack living in Northern Michigan is experiencing problems…and that’s putting it mildly. So Connor Keene, heir apparent to his father’s position as Apex, is sent to figure out what exactly is going on.

What he finds is a hornet’s nest.

Into this mess of resentment, issues, and anger Conner’s also brought, Elisa Sullivan. Because if things aren’t already stressful enough, let’s bring along the girl you’re more than just a little interested in and see how the pack reacts.

Elisa is more than capable of staring down a few shifters – katana in hand.

Then we get to the murder…and the other murder…and bad magic.

Seriously this book was a whole lotta fun to read. Neill introduced us to a quasi-new character named Alexei Breckenridge – who next to Lulu and Elisa’s cat Eleanor of Aquitaine (who will exact revenge if called by anything less than her full title) – is my favorite thus far. Mostly due to his dry sense of humor, the fact he enjoys needling Elisa by continuing to sneak up on her and the fact you never know where any of his sentences will take you.

If you are looking for a new-ish shifter/sorcerer/vampire mystery series to read, without needing to go back and read the original Chicagoland series (which honestly you should because it was great), you should start with Wicked Hour!

   Fran

I’ve been trying to figure out how to sell M. R. Carey‘s post-apocalyptic thriller THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (Orbit) to myself, if I was still selling books. Because on the surface, I’d have turned it down, despite the whole post-apocalyptic thing. I guess it’s a “Trust me” book.

9780316334754See, it’s written in present tense, and we all know how weird I am about that. But worse, it’s about zombies. I really don’t like zombies. Bleah. I know lots of people do love them, and they’ll jump all over this book, but I find them boring.

However, I really do like the TV series “Lucifer”, and M. R. Carey is the writer behind that. He creates amazing, three dimensional and compelling characters, and I’m a sucker for great characters! And twisty, well told stories. He does those brilliantly.

Oh, short synopsis, yeah. In this devastated future in a military base in England, children are strapped into wheelchairs, arms, legs and heads. Then they’re wheeled into classrooms where they’re taught all the things school children learn. Melanie is about ten years old, and her favorite teacher is Miss Justineau. Miss Justineau makes learning fun, and she really interacts with the children. Melanie loves Miss Justineau, the other teachers not so much.

However, outside the base, things are  bleak. A fungus, Ophiocordyceps, has mutated – or has been mutated – so that it no longer just infects ants, and has taken over mankind. Well, most of mankind. And the fungal infection moves quickly, thoroughly, no chance of recovery ever, and makes  the new hosts mindless and hungry.

I don’t want to say too much more because THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS takes off at breakneck speed, and it really doesn’t slow down. M. R. Carey understands timing and plot and tension, but he also understands how complicated people are, and how powerful love can be.

So yeah, this is a “Trust me” book, but I really do want you to trust me on it! The science is disturbingly cool (I kind of want to watch the David Attenborough documentary about the ants, but I’m afraid it’ll just creep me out), the story revolves around a teacher and her pupil, and the writing is simply brilliant.

Trust me.

   JB

Shop dream on the morning of Xmas Eve: what I remember was looking into a box of books, a shipment all jumbled together, and realizing that reserves hadn’t been pulled so I was digging through the books and flipping pages in the reserve book, trying to match up authors to lists of customers who wanted a copy. The books in the box were in no special order, so I was flipping back and forth in the reserve book as I fished out a hardcover, for some reason not taking all the books out first and organizing them… Where do these dreams come from !

Could there be a better way to end the year, and to relax over a few days away, that to catch up on a 9780802129307.jpg favorite author’s book you’d missed???? I doubt it, I really do.

I had ordered what I thought was his latest book last Spring to take on a trip back to KC but it ended up being the story from the year before. What the hell – I read it again on the trip, the books are that good. So it had always stuck in some shadowed part of my brain that there must’ve been a DeMarco from this year that I’d not read. Finally, I started to wonder when there’d a be a new one next year and that’s when I finally cleared to mush from my cabasa and got a copy of House Arrest.

It’s a very different DeMarco story, even while it is another great DeMarco story.

Arrested for the murder of a congressman in the Capital, DeMarco sits in jail with a target on his forehead. In many ways, this is Emma’s book, as she swings into action to prove he was framed. To do that, she’s gotta provide the FBI with the real killer. So she relies on her years of training and work and those she’s gotten to know to save DeMarco. Why? She abhors his love of baseball and golf, thinks his wardrobe is ridiculous, and is pained to know he works for a man she detests but, really, Emma likes DeMarco. She appreciates his spirit, his ethic, and his willingness to put himself in the line of fire to help someone – as he has with Emma a couple of times.

There are big changes in DeMarco’s life mandated by publicity of the arrest and I have no idea where Mike will put him. It could be the end of the series – any of books could – but I think he has freed DeMarco to do other things.

And I can’t wait.


Fridays in January ~ Our Best of the Decade Lists



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October Supplemental!

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Amber Here!

Fall brings many delightful things, colorful leaves, pumpkin spice everything and a cornucopia of new releases! So many in fact I cannot wait to share them with you guys.

So here’s the first in a string of single book reviews, hope they help you sort out your to-be-read stacks!

(And btw don’t forget to check out my other blog – Finder Of Lost Things!)

Chloe Neill – Wild Hunger

An Heirs Of Chicagoland Novel

Twenty years have passed since we last visited Chicago – the food is still great, the Cubs are still swinging, and supernatural politics are still tricky. The biggest change? The Houses are no longer allowed to investigate supernatural crimes which occur in their fair city – the Ombudsmen’s office scrutinizes all (which means Merit’s hung up her katana). This arrangement has worked out well, due to the peace struck by Master Ethan Sullivan and his Sentinal Merit with Chicago and its other supernatural residents.

This peace is a blueprint for other, more troubled, regions in the world. One of the places looking to forge their own peace accord? The vampire Houses of Western Europe, who’ve all agreed to treat Chicago as neutral territory, where they can attempt to hammer out their own peace accord. It doesn’t hurt that all the Houses in Chicago are well armed and well trained (plus the Pack) and are ready to keep everyone honest.

What does this mean to the daughter of Ethan and Merit? Who happens to be completing her year of armed service for a Parisian House in exchange for a college education? She’s going home.

Elisa Sullivan should feel thrilled at the prospect of seeing her family and friends again, and she does…But setting foot in Chicago also fills her with trepidation. Because Elisa has a secret, a secret linked to the magic which enabled her mother to carry her to term (Elisa’s unlike any other vampire in the world because she was born, not made).

Unfortunately, this secret isn’t Elisa’s only problem or even her biggest headache. That honor belongs to the less than popular member of one of the delegations who gets murdered literally in her parent’s backyard – which threatens to unravel the entire summit.

Then there’s the Faries…and the heir-apparent of the Pack…all of whom seem intent on throwing wrenches into the works…

This book is the first in a new series which features the next generation of the supernaturals of the Chicagoland series (I mean it is the description of the series).

This premise puts Neill in a tricky position writing-wise.

Creating whole new stories set in and amongst an already existing landscape is tricky. Because Neill needed to incorporate the pillars of the original series, many of whom are immortal (or really difficult to kill – which amounts to the same thing) while writing unique new characters to follow on their heels.

On the whole, Neill pulled it off well.

Wild Hunger does an excellent job of hinting around at exciting future storylines while echoing earlier themes of the original series. All the while following clues to resolve the fast-paced mystery being investigated by our new heroine. Perhaps Wild Hunger has a bit of the soft-reboot blues, the need to pay homage to the old guard weighing the narrative down slightly. BUT I am confident this slight flaw will be cleared up in the next installment allowing the shiny new cast to go their own way – with the original players making cameos when needed.

And I cannot wait until the next one is released! (BTW I inhaled this book in one sitting!)

Wild Hunger is a fun, fast read and I highly recommend it. Neill does a great job in quietly catching up a new reader with the backstory without boring her longtime readers (which is a huge feat in and of itself!). Anyone who’s looking for an entertaining supernatural mystery this Halloween season should give this book a try! (Plus, if you’re intimidated by a huge series, Wild Hunger allows you to leap into Chicagoland without reading Neill’s entire catalog. But I warn you if you love Wild Hunger you might be tempted to go back and start Some Girls Bite!)