September Newzine

biggest      This ‘n’ That

From the LA Times: We have studied every mass shooting since 1966. Here’s what we’ve learned about the shooters

Michael Chabon Will Showrun Star Trek: Picard 

She fights every ‘troll, psycho and perv’ she can find – and uses the law to do it 

How to Cancel Your Amazon Prime Membership (and Why You Should): Here’s how to stop financially supporting a monopoly.

Paging Big Brother: In Amazon’s Bookstore, Orwell Gets a Rewrite

Not a murder in the story – so far as they know – but a fascinating one from National Geographic: DNA Study Deepens Mystery of Lake Full of Skeletons

Nineteen years ago, Tom Wales was shot dead as he worked at his computer in the lower floor of his Queen Anne house. This is notable for two reasons – first, he was and is the only Assistant United States Attorney to be murdered in office and, second, until Aug. 21 there had been no indictments. There’s a podcast which covers the case: somebody somewhere. The entire first season 12 episodes, covers the case.

NASA Said to be Investigating First Allegation of a Crime in Space

The Great Seattle Pot Heist

The ‘Breaking Bad’ Movie is Coming To Netflix In October and The Trailer Is Here

The Case of the Missing $7 Million Car and the Car Detective on the Hunt

       Words of the Month

jabber (v.)”talk rapidly and indistinctly,” 1650s, spelling variant of Middle English jablen (c. 1400), also javeren, jaberen, chaveren, jawin; probably ultimately echoic. Related: Jabbered; jabbering. The noun, “rapid, unintelligible talk” is 1727, from the verb. Related: Jabberment (Milton). [thanks to etymonline]

Foyles Sets Up Libraries for High-End Retirement Homes

Can Britain’s Top Bookseller Save Barnes & Noble?

JD Salinger: novels finally to be published as ebooks

Who needs bookshops anyway? Libraries Are Telling People How Much Money They Save by Not Buying Books 

The Tale of Genji: The world’s first novel? 

Why are women obsessed with true crime? Rachel Monroe has some answers

Ever Thought About Pursuing a Book Deal? Here’s How to Get Started

10 Great Books that Defy All Genres (thanks to Kat Richardson for this post)

Top Publishers Sue Audible (aka Amazon, aka SPECTRE), Alleging Encroachment On Text Territory

Why Beatrix Potter self-published Peter Rabbit

Parnassus Books Cares About Us. Does Amazon? [Thanks to Steve for passing this to us!]

Ringing the changes: how Britain’s red phone boxes are being given new life 

A California Type Foundry Is Keeping Vintage Printing Alive

      Manson: The 50th Anniversary

The Manson Family murders, and their complicated legacy, explained

How many more did Manson family kill? LAPD investigating 12 unsolved murders 

A ‘Mindhunter’ Fan Put the Charles Manson Scene Side-By-Side With an Actual 1981 Interview

      The Second Season of “Manhunter”

This one scene explains what makes Netflix’s “Mindhunter” so scary

Mothers cry out for justice as Mindhunter introduces the Atlanta Child Murders

The real Mindhunters: why ‘serial killer whisperers’ do more harm than good

Mindhunter star Holt McCallany: ‘I met Manson Family murderer Bobby Beausoleil – I’d bet my life he wouldn’t kill again’

      Words of the Month

gibberish (N) “rapid and inarticulate speech; talk in no known language,” 1550s, imitative of the sound of chatter, probably influenced by jabber. Used early 17th C. of the language of rogues and gypsies. (thanks to etymonline)

       Author Events

Sept 17 ~ Candace Robb (& Owen Archer!), 7pm, Third Place/LFP

September 17 ~ April Henry, 7pm, Powell’s/Cedar Hills

September 20 ~ Craig Johnson, 7pm, Powell’s/Cedar Hills

Sept 23 ~ J.A. Jance,  7pm, Third Place/LFP

September 23 ~ Amy Stewart, 7:30pm, Powell’s

September 27 ~ J.A. Jance, 7pm, UBooks/Mill Creek

September 28 ~ J.A. Jance, 4pm, Village Books

       Links of Interest

August 1: John Dillinger’s Relatives Say They Have ‘Evidence’ The Buried Body May Not Be His

August 1: The Fruitcake Prison Break That Reshaped Irish History

August 2: How a Group of Gamers Tracked Down a Quadruple Murder Suspect

August 2: Philadelpha Phillies Sue To Keep Beloved ‘Phanatic’ Mascot From Free Agency

August 3: Watergate Salad: A Fluffy Green Bite Of Washington, D.C.’s Past

August 3: Belfast City Cemetery: 150 years of buried stories

August 3: Concrete Carmel ‘Pueblo’ has a great view and a hidden room behind a bookcase – a steal at only $9.8 Million!

August 5: Red Sea Diving Resort: The holiday village run by spies


August 7: The Lies of the Irishman ~ Netflix and Martin Scorsese are making their biggest bets ever on the confessions of a mafia “hitman.” The guy made it all up.

August 16: The Publisher of I Heard You Paint Houses Responds to “The Lies of the Irishman”


August 7: Franz Kafka papers lost in Europe but reunited in Jerusalem

August 7: Scientists Discover Prehistoric Giant ‘Squawkzilla’ Parrot, As Big As Small Child

August 9: The Classic Novel That Is Most Often Abandoned By Readers

August 10: How death cafes are de-stigmatizing death

August 11: Interview with Martin Freeman ~ ‘The Detective’s Moral Dilemma Drew Me In’

August 12: Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard ‘done with zombies’

August 12: Pompeii archaeologists uncover ‘sorcerer’s treasure trove’

August 12: The Subversive Messages in the Wizard of Oz

August 12: A Novel Concept: Silent Book Clubs Offer Introverts A Space To Socialize

August 13: Long overdue: Five library books returned a few decades late

August 13: DREAMY CLOSET LIBRARY IDEAS TO ADD TO YOUR HOME

August 13: The Women Who Tasted Hitler’s Food

August 13: Is the bystander effect a myth?

August 14: Letter from Africa: The power of an apostrophe

August 15: Leonardo da Vinci’s abandoned and hidden artwork reveals its secrets

August 15: Self-Proclaimed “Dobby’s Freedom Keeper” Regularly Replaces House Elf Headstone

August 16: 5 HISTORICAL MYSTERIES THAT COMBINE REAL HISTORY WITH WHODUNNIT

August 16: THE ANATOMY OF THE BOOK

August 17: “Lincoln’s Spies”: Elizabeth Van Lew, southern sexism and the winning of a secret war

August 17: Sherlock Season 5: Martin Freeman updates fans on chance of new episodes

August 18: ‘Is that bum trap missing a flesh-bag?’: a guide to Australia’s convict slang

August 19: ‘Murder She Wrote’ & Me

August 20: The mystery photos of a 1957 gay wedding

August 20: “No Time to Die” ~ What the new 007 title might mean

August 20: Film props from The Shining, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and more go up for auction

August 21: The Cold War spy technology which we all use

August 22: GREAT BOOKS ABOUT TRUE CRIMES

August 22: Physicists discover hidden text in what was thought to be blank Egyptian papyri

August 24: The Russian spy who posed as a Canadian for more than 20 years

 

       R.I.P

August 6: Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize-winning author dies at 88

August 9: Comic Book Creator Ernie Colón Dies at 88

August 16: Peter Fonda, star of ‘Easy Rider’ and scion of Hollywood royalty, dies at 79

August 17: Richard Williams, ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ animator, dies at 86

August 20: We learned this day of the death of a long-time customer, Alison Moore.

Fran Here: I spoke with Alison on the phone frequently, and while it took a little learning to translate her Liverpudlian accent to American, she was an absolute delight. Because she was wheelchair-bound, and later bedridden, we shipped to her all the time.

But Alison wasn’t just an avid reader. She’d have us send books to friends of hers all across the US! Not necessarily mysteries – as you know, we would order anything in print – but always for birthdays and Christmas. It was interesting getting to know her friends. And they, in turn, would call to order gift certificates for her to use when she called to order for  herself. If was one of those sad souls who let us know she’d passed.

There were times after the shop closed when Alison would call me at home, just to see how I was holding up. And then we’d talk about how things were going with her. She never really recovered after her husband died, but she was feisty all the way. Home Health tried to insist she keep her husband’s hospital bed, but he was almost 6′ tall, and she barely hit 5′. She said she kept slipping off it. She won, of course.

We at the shop are sorry to hear of her passing, and it’s a personal loss to me. I’ll miss hearing the, “Hey, Fran, how’re ya doin’?” followed by “What’cha been readin’?” Wherever you are now, Alison, I hope there’s a HUGE library!

August 27: Richard Booth, self-styled King of Hay, who put the market town on the map by establishing it as a centre for the secondhand book trade

August 30: James R Leavelle, detective handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot, dies aged 99

       Words of the Month

polysemy (n) A condition in which a single word, phrase, or concept has more than one meaning or connotation. dictionary.com

polysemous (adj) 1884, from Medieval Latin polysemus, from Greek polysemos “of many sides” etymonline

       What We’ve Been Up To

   AmberFinder

Last Friday In Finder of Lost Things the Resident’s come to Phoebe’s aid since her crew took their pirate costumes entirely to much to heart – and imbibed in too much spiced rum!

This coming Friday Phoebe, Wood, Beatrice and Laney run for their freedom across the last stretch of Nevermore – trying to stay ahead of Little Ben and security!

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Rhys Bowen – Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

Georgie is off on a surprise honeymoon safari Darcy has arranged for them… Which they can only afford because Darcy accepted an assignment from his mysterious employers. Of course, Darcy attempts to keep Georgie in the dark about the arrangement, but his new wife has solved her fair share of mysteries. So his secret isn’t a secret for very long.

Plus Georgi has her little task to complete for the Queen.

One thing I love about the Royal Spyness series is how Bowen creates a subtle sort of anxiety within the pages of her book. By sticking relatively close to historical events, Bowen establishes a sense of tension within her series – a worry which grows in each installment as we creep inevitably closer to WWII.

This worry is in no small part due to Darcy’s secret overseas work, which in the coming conflict will place him directly in harm’s way. And by extension Georgie, who is keen to prove her deductive prowess to her new husband (who wasn’t always privy to all her previous investigations).

In Love And Death Among The Cheetahs amongst the exotic animals and even wilder Happy Valley set Georgie proved her worth right away. By helping both solve a murder and uncovering a spy within their midsts!

However, it’s not Hitler whom I theorize will affect Georgie’s immediate future. But her cousin David, that dreadful American woman (as she’s known) and the King’s declining health. What will happen upon the King’s death? How will the chaos, created by David’s unwillingness to give up his American divorcee and his political leanings, effect Georgie, her family, and England?

And when he abdicates will that be the last we hear of David?

Or his disapproving mother and sending Georgie to the continent to extract her errant son from trouble? Or will the new King look to her for help?

Only time will tell.

But until the next book, I will fret over the safety and well being of Georgie’s grandfather, Queenie, Zou Zou, her erratic mother, Binky, Fig, and everyone else. Because of the aforementioned cleverness of Bowen’s storytelling, I know what’s coming. Even if Georgie and Darcy only see the hints of Hitler’s plans right now.

However, I am still very excited to see where Bowen takes her Royal Spyness series next!

Especially since Georgie finally feels secure enough to reveal the steely spine she inherited from her Great-Grandmother Queen Victoria. Showing not only Fig she’s done with her backhanded compliments, but allowed her to deftly deal with an old bully, a determined letch, and a belligerent detective. All in one book!

I would recommend Love and Death Among the Cheetahs if you are looking for a country house style mystery. Well, country house adjacent. As Love And Death Among The Cheetahs is set in Kenya, not the United Kingdom. And rather than the fox hunting, horse-loving aristocratic set routinely featured in the style of book. We meet the wanton, dissolute and libertine set of Happy Valley expats. Who enjoy sex, drugs, and safaris instead.

(BTW – Georgie is utterly shocked at their antics!)

In point of fact, I would highly recommend this entire series to anyone looking for a lighter, historically mystery series. If you don’t want to start all the way back at the beginning, never fear! So long as you’re aware you aren’t starting with the first in series, you will do just fine!

One Last Note!

My other blog My 52 Weeks With Christie – in which I kept posting my original photos to and re-blogging other Agatha Christie enthusiast pictures, TV clips and other ephemera on – reached a milestone!

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I’ve posted a total of 8,000 items and counting! Which I’m told is quite something – since it was originally only suppose to have a total of 52 posts!

   Fran

You know my fondness for Joshilyn Jackson. It’s no secret, and hasn’t been since gods in Alabama. 9780446178167She’s always remarkable, taking on some really tough topics in that genteel Southern way she has.

With her latest one, Never Have I Ever (Wm. Morrow), she takes off the gloves. Always a Southern lady, mind you, but in this new book, Joshilyn Jackson comes out swinging! It’s a much, much darker books than any of her others, and yes, I’m including Between, Georgia in that. For those of you who haven’t read it, partway through I was muttering, “Trust Joshilyn, trust Joshilyn, she’ll make it right!”

9780062855312Never Have I Ever is much darker than a body dumped in kudzu or an airport gypsy explaining that murder is the best solution.  Amy Whey’s life starts unraveling in the first chapter. Are you familiar with the game “Never Have I Ever”? It’s kind of a middle school game, like Three Truths and a Lie, that can be adapted to an adult game quite easily. Someone says, “Never have I ever (fill in the blank with something you’ve never done)” and anyone who HAS done it has to drink. Kind of embarrassing but fun, right?

It’s a blast. You should play. It’s like Never Have I Ever, but for grown-ups. We skip the coy denials and go right to confession. You start by telling everyone the worst thing you did today.”

When Roux crashes the monthly book club meeting, takes over, plies most of the women with alcohol and gets them to tell their secrets, Amy knows she could have stopped her, but she didn’t. Like watching a car crash, she just let it happen.

Sure, I’ll play,” I said quietly, to Roux alone. “The worst thing I did today was let you get this pack of harpies drunk in my house.”

However, Amy has a serious secret. One her neighbors, her friends, even her husband have no idea about. Things are about to go badly for everyone.

Make no mistake, this is still the Joshilyn Jackson we know and love, and her trademark humor is still present. There were times when I snorfled so loudly I startled the dog. But this is, at its heart, a much darker novel than we’ve seen before.

And it’s about time. Joshilyn Jackson is becoming one of the great literary voices of our time; she’s a storyteller of exceptional depth and quality. You’re going to love Never Have I Ever, even when you’re not entirely sure you can like Amy, and that juxtaposition is what will keep you eagerly turning pages.

Never Have I Ever lied to you about reading Joshilyn Jackson. You won’t be disappointed.

   JB

Aug 8th gave me another shop dream. I’d been away for some weeks for some reason and the “shop” was small, narrow place with shelves around the walls and the new release paperback table taking up most of the floor space. The table was a mess. Titles that should’ve been removed weeks ago were not only still on but had been re-ordered. Some single paperbacks were spine up between stacks of others. Duplicate copies were stacked randomly on a shelf near the door and Amber and Fran were desperately trying to get it squared away. I started trying to work out what should be removed AND returned AND sorted by publisher, but people were in the way and where was I going to be able to do all of this… It was a dream of chaos.

I’ve been weaving back and forth from this book to another for several months. Still
haven’t finished the Mueller Report, or 9th Street Women, or the second-to-last Philip Kerr. Guess I’ve been a restless reader. Something new crops up – such as the O’Neil book on the 60s – and it is easy to set down what I’m in to go to something else. But there are other reasons, too. Most of what I’ve been reading for the last few months have been thick and heavy hardcovers. For the trip to San Francisco, I wanted smaller and lighter. So I picked up a couple of mass market books I’d meant to read for, well, decades, and they were as great as I expected. Both were used paperbacks I’d brought home when the shop closed.

U8ayPh3U2P8COne was Donald Westlake’s Lemons Never Lie, one of his Grofield books published in 1971 as by Richard Stark. Grofield first appeared in one of Stark’s Parker books. I’ve read all of them and loved them but somehow never got to these. Mistake. This one is the last of the four separate books and now I’ll have to track the other three down. As with the Parker books, this one was a finely-crafted story of a professional thief with a highly developed sense of how his world should work. Unfortunately, Grofield violates his own rules a number of times and pays for his errors. But gets his justice at the end. It seems odd to talk about “honor” and “justice” with a crime novel about a thief…but that’s the world we’ve picked for our entertainment.

The other was Timothy Hallinan’s final Simeon Grist novel, The Bone Polisher. Early shop colleague Tammy had gotten me into these back in the mid-90s. I immediately loved them. Grist is an LA private eye who never got a college degree though he’s studied many different fields – this allows Hallinan to have him be erudite and literate and amusing without him coming off as pedantic. This last one I’d salted away because I’d never wanted the series “to end”. But it was time and it was a thrill.

And as to that trip to that Big Bay to the south, there are two posts about it, #1 and #2. Check them out should you be curious – – – – – – —


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September

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    A Couple of Things

~ We’re not trying to blow our own horns but it seems as if there are far, far fewer signings by mystery and crime writers since we closed. And if we miss including any authors, it may be that, having been out of the book biz for some time, we don’t recognize their names. We no longer have the knowledge or time to be as comprehensive as we’d like. We’re doing the best we can.

~ You may have noticed over the years that in our Links of Interest section that there are many more entries from the UK than from the US. That’s because outfits like the NYTimes or Washington Post allow only a certain number of clicks to articles each month before you have to pay. So we favor those who don’t require subscription in order to search for the good stuff that we include. We’re not snobs – we’re cheap.

~ September 30th will mark one year since the shop ceased operation. Hard to believe, seems like just yesterday… Which leads us to – – –

    Word of the Month

gliffing(n): “a flash of time, a moment, an instant…”  (thanks to Says You!, #1101)

    Finder Of Lost Things

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Amber here! So with a fair bit of trepidation and nervousness, I am ready (as I will ever be) to present what I’ve been working on!

When SMB closed last year, I decided to fall back and do something else I loved – blogging. After working on the My 52 Weeks With Christie blog for the shop a few years back – I discovered I enjoyed creating those weekly posts. When I finished my year with Christie, I was completely surprised at how much I missed all the writing and researching they required!

With a bit of time on my hands last September, I decided to follow in the footsteps of the old penny dreadfuls (hopefully without actually being dreadful), and I wrote my own weekly mystery series!

So here it is – Finder Of Lost Things – my mystery blog which will release a new installment every Friday morning! It’ll have accompanying photos, 99% of which were taken by me. There will be funnies, misunderstandings, shenanigans, pirates, and food! I sincerely hope you have as much fun reading it as I did working on it!

Here’s the overview from the site:

“My name is Phoebe Arden, and I used to be the Caretaker of Nevermore Cemetery.

My job is more than just mowing lawns, digging graves and thwarting vandals. The problem is my boss doesn’t understand what exactly my job entailed (or in fact any of my duties).

Now I am on the outside looking in, and I still need to protect Nevermore from my boss’s schemes, internal decay, and corrosive outside influences.

This is going to require coffee. Lots and lots of coffee…and maybe an egg roll.”

FRAN HERE – I’ve read a lot of it already and you’re going to love it! Pinky-swear!

    Ngaio Marsh Awards

The winners  to be announced at special event on September 1st 2018 as part of the WORD Christchurch Festival.

  Best Crime Novel

Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)

See You in September by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)

Tess by Kirsten McDougall (VUP)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)

The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (Virago)

  Best First Novel

The Floating Basin by Carolyn Hawes

Broken Silence by Helen Vivienne Fletcher (HVF Publishing)

All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane (Rosa Mira Books)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley (Oak House Press)

    Signings

Tues, Sept 4, 7pm: Seanan McGuire, University Books

Mon, Sept 10, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 11, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Third Place/LFP

Wed, Sept 12, 7pm: John Straley, Powell’s

Fri, Sept 14, 7pm: John Straley, Third Place/Ravenna

Wed, Sept 19, 7:30: Amy Stewart, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 25, 7pm: Amy Stewart, Third Place/LFP

         Links of Interest

Vulture, July 31st: When Crime Comes for the Crime Writer by Laura Lippman

CNN, August 1st: Swedish Crown Jewels Stolen by Thieves Who Fled by Speedboat

New York Times, August 2nd: Sophie Hannah: By the Book

The Daily Beast, August 3rd: The Golden State Killer Suspect’s Chilling Warning Signs: Tantrums, Flirtations, and Poisoned Dogs

The Guardian, August 6th: The new tool in the art of spotting forgeries: artificial intelligence

The Guardian, August 7th: UKIP suspends three members over socialist bookshop attack [UKIP stands for the UK Independence Party. They wear hats saying Make  Britain Great Again.]

Entertainment Weekly, August 7th: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series celebrates its 25th anniversary

BBC, August 8th: The Murderer Turned Author Who Published Clues To His Crimes

BBC August 8th: How digital publishers are ‘shaking up’ the industry

BBC August 9th: Looted 5,000-year-old artefacts to be returned to Iraq

BBC, August 10th: German police save man from baby squirrel terror

NY Times, August 10th: All the World’s a Crime: Thrillers from Around the Globe

BBC, August 10th: Can you read at superhuman speeds?

Salon, August 10th: Finding Tom Thomson’s body: The mysterious death of a famous Canadian artist

BBC, August 11th: France’s 25-year treasure hunt for a golden owl

NY Times, August 12th: As Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find Footing, Founder Takes     Heat

The Guardian, August 13th: How Wilkie Collins found sensation in ordinary life

The Guardian, August 13th: Family claims win in high court challenge to Northants library cuts

Salon, August 14th: “Dead Air” and the true crime boom: What happens when amateurs investigate murder?

The Guardian, August 15th: Sorry to break it to you, far-righters: James Bond is not on your team

The Daily Beast, August 18th: I Grew Up in the Shadow of a Neighborhood Killer. He May Have Finally Been Caught

The Seattle Times, August 19th: Sunday Best – a weekly look at looks

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CNN, August 21st: Mom Reveals Her Secret Spy Life to Kids

The Guardian, August 22nd: Malibu residents fear serial attacker is stalking their scenic enclave

The Guardian, August 22nd: Direct another day: who should replace Danny Boyle on Bond 25?

Daily Herald, August 25th: New Versions of Hercule Poirot Keep Coming, and That’s a Good Thing, by Sophie Hannah

Sunday Seattle Times, August 26:

Crime fiction: 2 witty new novels and a Northwest gem – from Adam Woog

Meet the UW Libraries’ keeper of rare books and artifacts

Northwest book festivals to attend this fall, in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and Portland

The Washington Post, August 26th: George Pelecanos has helped make TV great again. His new book reminds us why.

The Courier, August 30st: Police: Thieves stole over $40,000 in rare insects, reptiles

    RIP

In early August we lost a treasured member of the SMB family. Gina Rembeisa died unexpectedly on August 7th. She’d been one of our key customers for as long as we can remember. By key, we mean foundational – she was one of those few crucial customers who bought enough books in the early years to help us to survive and succeed. But that also meant that we got to know one another well. 

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Gina read voraciously. She’d call when a new newsletter got to her and give us a list that would fill a sheet from a legal pad. Then she’d go over what had not come in from supplemental lists. She’d try someone new and have to have every earlier book. She had countless cards in our Future File system, cards for authors from whom she’d want every new book. She would take signed copies but they weren’t necessary. She was a reader, not a collector. She’d stop in on a Saturday morning and chat with Bill or whichever one of us was there, then take her heavy bag of books out.

In the last couple of years of the shop, she’d had difficulty walking and we’d mail her books to her, which meant we saw her less and less but she’d call and say “Hello, dear,  how are you?” – and she really wanted answers.

A psychotherapist for 40 years and a lover of books for much longer, her dream was to retire one day and volunteer the Seattle Mystery Bookshop to be with all of her dear friends, human & books alike. Her husband, Tom, donated 69 boxes of Gina’s books to the Friends of the Library Foundation in her honor. She often told Tom, “You never give away your friends.” Gina was a woman of great spirit, determination, humor, and love.

Our best to her husband Tom.

Rest in Peace, dear. We miss your calls.

August 16th, Moranga King, jazz singer and actress (Mama Corleone in The Godfather)

August 19th:  John Calder, British Publisher Who Fought Censorship, Dies at 91

    What We’ve Been Doing

   Amber

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Theodora Goss – The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter

Our heroine’s story begins with a funeral. Mary’s mother finally succumbed to the madness which had threatened to overwhelm her for years. Beyond just losing her mother Mary Jekyll (yes, the daughter of that Mr. Jekyll), she also lost her income. Meaning? While Mary still has a house to live in, she has virtually no money to keep body and soul together, much less run a household.

Her prospects are slim indeed until her mother’s solicitor gives her a sheaf of papers which hint at the location of the notorious murderer, Mr. Hyde. Unsure whether the reward for his capture is still viable, Mary consults Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The one hundred pound reward would be a great stopgap measure until she worksed out a more permanent solution for her money woes.

The only problem? Her mother’s information doesn’t lead them to Mr. Hyde but to his daughter.

And that’s when Mary’s real adventure begins.

This is a fantastically fun book! Seriously. If you enjoy reading a mystery populated by all the best characters from old gothic novels (and one of the greatest literary detectives of all time), you’ll love this book!

What I loved is how Goss was able to take the titans of the gothic/horror canon and twist them slightly into something new – while keeping true to their fictional roots. Plus, it is ever so much fun reading about beloved characters through another author’s eyes and how they interpreted these classic stories. By using the daughters of well-known mad scientists, she’s able to breath new life into these stories making them into something new without significantly deviating from the original novels from whence they spring!

Now here’s the thing – you have to be able to suspend a bit of disbelief while reading this book – mainly because coincidences are a tad thick. Not unbelievable mind you, they are well explained and plausible, but just rather prevalent. But, honestly, if you can read from the POV of the daughters of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and Dr. Rappaccini (an evil scientist from a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne), I think you can handle a slight overabundance of coincidences. Plus if I am honest, they keep the book moving at a breakneck speed which is a whole lotta fun to read!

So I guess the above is more of a heads up than a warning…

I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoyed reading Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series or classic gothic novels! I devoured The Strange Case Of The Alchemist’s Daughter in two sittings, and I look forward to rereading it again very soon.

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Rhys Bowen – Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

The latest installment of the Royal Spyness Mysteries was released this month!

And I loved it!

In Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding, we find Georgie & Darcy making all the decisions one needs to when planning a wedding. Which only get more complicated when the King and Queen invite themselves, their kids, half of the nobility of Europe, and ask if the princesses can be her bridesmaids!

One bright note? Georgie’s godfather offered her an early wedding present – his home! Since Georgie is Sir Hubert’s only heir and he’s away so often climbing mountains, he thinks it would be wonderful if she could be the mistress of Eynsleigh! This prospect positively delights Georgie, the real estate pickings in London are slim indeed, unless you enjoy basements, attics, or a view of a brick wall. Deciding to get the estate back in ship shape before Darcy comes to join her, Georgie leaves immediately for her new digs.

The only fly in the ointment? Sir Hubert thinks things might not be running smoothly in his absence and when Georgie arrives, she agrees. Something is rotten in the Eynsleigh estate!

Once again Bowen delivers a beautiful installment in the Royal Spyness series! She’s filled it with hope under the looming cloud of the impending war, the King’s death, and his son’s abdication. This series does a great job of giving a very human side of the Great Depression and the historical context of the period – without ever  losing Georgie’s voice or the fact she’s investigating one mystery or another!

In all seriousness, I love this series and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a slightly lighter read! Or enjoys historical aspects in their mysteries!

*Just for those who may have read her in the past – there are no ghosts or supernatural elements in this mystery! So pick it up and read with wild abandon! I promise you will love it!

   Fran

Stories from work. The spelling is mine, but the all-caps are hers.

Gal came to turn herself in to go to jail. She’d been using, was being up-front about it, and it’s the weekend, so why not? We gave her a form to fill out, telling us what she used, and why.

“What did you use?” Crystal Meth, Alcohol, Heroin, and CIGARETTES.

Why did you use these? USA FREEDOM

Um…okay.

9780374265922SO LUCKY (MCDxFSG), but the story being told has little to do with murder, and much to do with mayhem, especially the mayhem created when your body fails you.Mara Tagarelli is at the top of her game, CEO of a multi-million dollar AIDS foundation, happily married, martial arts teacher. And it all comes crashing down.

In one week, her wife asks for a divorce, Mara is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she loses her job. When things crash, they crash hard.

The story is fiction, make no mistake, but the sentiments are raw and real. Nicola Griffith captures the pain and fury – indeed, incandescent rage – that engulfs someone when their life changes and there is nothing to be done to stop what’s happening, when all you can control are symptoms. When you go from self-reliant to needing the help of strangers.

This is a fast, fast read – you’ll do it in a day if only because you cannot stop turning the pages! Nicola Griffith is always a master wordsmith; she’s put her heart into SO LUCKY, and it shows.

I asked one of my friends who also has MS to read the book, tell me whether or not it resonated for him. His response: Around the MS angle, it resonated to the point that I will hand this book to those curious about the disease as it speaks of my experiences in ways I can rarely muster.

Read it for the joy of reading Nicola Griffith’s work. The fact that you’ll be profoundly moved is an incredible bonus.

 

I was trying to decide which of two books I was going to read next when the Beatles came on the radio, talking about Lucy in the sky, and my decision was made. 9780062412843 David Handler’s THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES (Wm. Morrow) it was.

I have deliberately not read Handler’s “Stewart Hoag” mysteries because I know myself. When I love one series by an author, I generally don’t love another. I’m weird that way, and I own it. I adore Carolyn Hart’s “Death on Demand” series and while I enjoy “Henrie O”, Annie Darling has my heart. I can read Nora Roberts, but for me it’s J. D. Robb all the way. And, because I’m weird in my own special way, Laurie R. King’s “Kate Martinelli” series calls to me more than her “Mary Russell” stories.

When it comes to David Handler, I’m a “Berger and Mitry” fan to my bones. I adore that mis-matched duo with a profound devotion. Start with The Cold Blue Blood if you can find it, and go from there. But because I am who I am, I didn’t want to read the “Stewart Hoag (Hoagy)” series, because it couldn’t possibly live up to Mitch Berger and Desiree Mitry.

I hadn’t counted on Lulu.

Stewart Hoag (known as Hoagy, after the sandwich not Carmichael) is a literary genius who has written one hugely acclaimed critical masterpiece, crashed and burned, and now is reduced to ghostwriting celebrity bios, at which he excels. Unfortunately, celebrities attract trouble and Hoagy can’t just let things go. He has to know the truth, hence the series of murder mysteries.

In THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, it’s 1992, and Hoagy and his intrepid sidekick Lulu – his mackerel munching  basset hound – are specially requested to write a tell-all for the famous Monette Aintree, brand-name celebrity. That would just be an ordinary day’s work, except Hoagy was once head over heels in love with Monette’s sister, Reggie. And their long-lost father, Richard Aintree, wrote a book that’s known to everyone, is read in every school, and who has vanished after his wife, the girls’ mother, committed suicide.

It’s been 20 years since David Handler has written a Hoagy and Lulu mystery, and now I’ve read two of them. He absolutely has the same voice in the latest as he had in the earlier one, which is a testament to his talent, since that kind of hiatus can change things beyond recognition. And I can see why people have been clamoring for more.

At first, I was a bit put off by the amount of name dropping Hoagy does, but then the gentle cynicism he represents hooked me, and now I find it charming. In both the books I’ve read, it’s Mr. Handler’s ability to create characters that sucks me in. You know me, characters are key.

Generally I advocate beginning a series from the beginning, but I haven’t seen a copy of The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald since the shop closed, and it was rare there. I’m slowly gathering them, but it’s a delight to have a new hunt for treasure.  If you start with THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, you’ll feel right at home.

Go, find it, enjoy!

   JB

Observation from work: cashiering at a hardware store is the first job I’ve had were people coming at you with knives, pitchforks, sledgehammers, and axes is not a bad thing. It means they want to buy them, not make you the body in a book…

Back in early 2006, I picked up a debut novel. She was a complete unknown, as debut authors are by definition. The author was from my hometown and I was curious. The premise of the book sounded interesting so, what the hell, I’d give it a shot.

That was Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. 9780525575757My review in that Friday’s newzine a dozen years ago started with “WOW”.

My opinion of her work has only increased.

With the HBO adaptation that we’ve been watching, I haven’t been able to remember the nitty-gritty of the book and how they compare. So, I decided to re-read it. This is what has stood out to me:

#1 – It’s very well cast

#2 – The show downplays how active Camille’s scars are and how her feelings at any moment cause different words she’s carved into her skin to buzz. Not sure how they could adequately do it without a narration, to be fair. Still, something is lost in the translation.

#3 – Amma is toned down in the show, not being a super-bitch as in the book.

#4 – No rollerskating in the book, but it is a great visual in the show.

#5 – As always, no adaptation from book to screen can capture that beauty of the author’s writing. Even with a narrator, it can’t be done because you can’t be startled by the words and go back to re-read and re-appreciate them.

“Crisp clean clothes to make us forget all the drips and dank smells that come from our bodies. I was in college by the time I realized I like the smell of sex. I came into my friend’s bedroom one morning after a boy darted past me, smiling sideways and tucking his socks into his back pocket. She was lazing in bed, splotchy and naked, with one bare leg dangling out from under the sheets. That sweet muddy smell was purely animal, like the deepest corner of a bear’s cave. It was almost foreign to me, this lived-in overnight odor. My most evocative childhood scent was bleach.”

That’s why I appreciate and adore Gillian Flynn’s writing. Her words are evocative and her sentences circle around with surprising bite.

Now if we could just get her back to writing novels…

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~-Until October-~

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