Gail Carriger - Soulless
Alexia Tarabotti has been on the shelf since she was fifteen. Her mother decided her Italian heritage and unconventional looks (dark hair, dark eyes and the predilection of tanning) was too much to overcome, that no gentleman would seriously pursue Alexia. So she made the early decision to concentrate her attention and money on securing good marriages for her two younger daughters.
What her mother didn’t know was this suited Alexia just fine. Alexia enjoys the freedom spinsterhood allows her; to read whatever she likes, consort with flamboyant friends and concentrate on finding the best foods Victorian London can provide. Plus, well it would be a scandal if it came out to society that Alexia was born without a soul.
Soullessness can be an advantage when dealing with some of the residents of London, Werewolves, Vampires and Ghosts, since just her touch negates their power. This comes in handy when a very rude vampire has the audacity of attacking Alexia at party, thereby tossing Alexia into Lord Maccon’s path again, (how many times does she have to say the Hedgehog was not her fault?) and into the mystery of why all the lone wolves and rogue vampires are disappearing from all around England….
If you are looking for historical accuracy of Victorian London, with insights into the life and times of the people living in this period, this is NOT the book for you.
If you are looking for a funny, witty, romantic, melodramatic action-packed supernatural romp, then I highly recommend this book to you! I enjoyed every second of this book, the ridiculousness of pairing proper Victorian manners when being attacked by an unknown Vampire is hilarious. Alexia and the rest of the characters are over the top in their personalities and are just fun to read. And the mystery at the core of this book is well thought out as well, setting up future villains and problems in the books to come. I cannot wait to read the rest of this series!
I picked up this book purely because of the author description “Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriated Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life for Europe and inadvertently acquired an education. She now resides in the Colonies with a harem of American lovers and tea imported from London.” If you find this as humorous and intriguing as I did, like urban fantasy without sparkling vampires, and enjoy a bit of steampunk thrown in for flavor, I think you will really like this book.
FIND THEM HERE. BUY THEM HERE. KEEP BOOKS HERE.
-Seattle Mystery Bookshop
Ian Hamilton - The Disciple of Las Vegas
When you hear the job description “forensic accountant”, kick-ass action probably isn’t what leaps to mind. But if you are Ava Lee, Ian Hamilton’s Canadian-Chinese lesbian bombshell in The Disciple of Las Vegas, high-octane action is the order of the day.
Ava has just returned to her home in Toronto when she gets a call from Uncle, her septugenarian Hong Kong partner, who asks her to fly to Hong Kong immediately because there is a problem in the Phillipines. Tommy Ordonez, one of the richest men in Manila, is convinced his brother has lost several million dollars in a real estate transaction, and Ordonez wants Uncle and Lee to get it back. Ordonez has a temper and has been rude to Uncle, which is something that would immediately disqualify him from receiving assistance, but Ordonez’s right-hand man, Chang Wang, is a friend of Uncle’s, so Ava agrees to fly in to help.
What happens then takes her from Manila to San Francisco and, of course, to Las Vegas.
I really like Ava and Uncle, and the nuanced, subtle relationships between Ava and Uncle, as well as their relationships with Ordonez and Chang, as well as the other people involved in what turns out to be a complicated and ingenious scam adds a layer of intrigue that kept me involved.
I only have two issues, really. One is that Ian Hamilton name drops designers to a level that I found distracting. Once we’ve established she wears high-end clothing, knowing the brand is irrelevent to me. But I freely admit that could just be me, since I am obviously no fashionista.
The other problem I have is with the US publisher. The Disciple of Las Vegas is second in a five-book series, but it’s the first one published in the US. Why the second?! And where are the rest? I want to read the entire series, but we can’t get them here. Yet. Picador, are you listening? Give us all the Ava Lee novels, please? Now!
Because I really want to read them all!
FIND THE HERE. BUY THEM HERE. KEP BOOKS HERE.
-Seattle Mystery Bookshop
Kieran Larwood - Freaks
What do a strong man/giant, a woman with trick rats, an assassin, a monkey boy and a wolf girl all have in common? They are part of a Victorian era freak show. Before the times of political correctness, people looking for cheap entertainment would spend a penny or two and visit these side shows to stare at two headed lambs and people with unfortunate appearances.
Till is a mudlark a little kid who, due to her dire circumstances, looks for tossed away junk in the Thames. Items she and her family can sell to traders in order to keep body and soul together. One night needing a bit of relief and entertainment she sneaks into show, Plumpscuttle’s Peculiars, where she meets Sheba.
Sheba is a wolf girl, with very few good memories, no idea where she came from or who her parents are. Sheba has always been a side show freak, which doesn’t bother her very much, thing could be a whole lot worse. When Till meets Sheba they find the beginning of a friendship between them.
A day or two later there is a knock on the gate of the Peculiars’ house; it is Till’s parents. Till has disappeared without a trace while she was picking in the mud and they are beside themselves with worry. The police won’t help them, they are to poor and low class for the authorities to take notice of their problem. So they come to Plumscuttle’s Peculiars and ask them for help finding Till, and the other missing children.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a great historical middle book, that never tries to cram extraneous knowledge into the book. The author did a great job in making the Victorian era slums come alive with the vocabulary, people and smells. While the author is dealing with characters who are part of a side show, he does a wonderful job in making them human and accessible. Weaving messages, camouflaging lessons and showing ideas without beating the reader over the head about accepting people for who they are and not judging them by their cover, or appearance.
The mystery is fast-paced and engaging, never a dull moment. You root for Sheba and the Peculiars on in trying to find Till and the other missing children before it is to late. I would recommend it for girls (or open minded boys, since Monkeyboy is a fantastic character for them, full of well gross boy humor) 9-12. The other great thing the author does, is the last chpter goes over the history he uses in the book, side shows and their employees, Victoria era London, The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851 the poor and much more!
Find them here. Buy them here. Keep books here.
Seattle Mystery Bookshop
I wasn’t going to review Jennifer Lee Carrell’s, Interred with Their Bones because there were a couple of things that I found a bit awkward.
One of the hallmarks of a really good book is how it digs itself into you and won’t let go, one of those you find yourself thinking about long after you’ve put it down. This one did that. I’ve been tossing some of the ideas that she’s presented around in my head, and she’s made me think and re-assess some ideas I’ve held.
The story is about a Shakespearean scholar who has given up research to direct Shakespeare’s plays. Kate Shelton’s been given a great opportunity to direct Hamlet in the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London, quite an opportunity for an American. However, her mentor, Roz Howard, shows up to a rehearsal, gives Kate a package and arranges to meet her later to explain. But then the theatre catches fire, ironically enough on the same date, June 29th, that the original Globe burned, and Roz is found dead. This begins a huge chase across England, the US and Spain to find a missing Shakespearean manuscript.
Let’s get the problems I perceived out of the way – and do remember, this is my perception and others may very well think I’m loony. I thought there were a few too many suspicious coincidences, I felt that she underutilized a character that should have been given greater prominence, and I found myself muddled in trying to keep all the various earls and dukes and whatnot straight, although that last one may be just my mental incapabilities.
But Ms. Carrell is a scholar, and her research and love of the subject is phenomenal, and I found myself sucked into the various debates that I’ve been aware of through the years, the idea that Shakespeare didn’t actually write the books, that there are others who might be better contenders, that there are people who are adamant that only Shakespeare himself could create such magnificent work. I also got caught up in her joy in the way people are influenced by Shakespeare even though they don’t realize it.
And I had forgotten that Shakespeare lived not only during the reign of Elizabeth, but also the time of King James and all that that implies, especially Biblically.
So I have to tell you that if you want a fast-paced read with outstanding scholarship, and if you liked Michael Gruber’s The Book of Air and Shadows then I think you should ignore my nit-picking and pick this one up!
Rebecca Cantrell’s A City Of Broken Glass
One Of The 2013 Edgar Nominees for the Mary Higgins Clark Award
I was wrong. She really IS that good.
In A City of Broken Glass, Hannah is writing for a Swiss newspaper under her pseudonym, Adelheid Zinsli, and she is sent to cover the Feast of St. Martin in a small Polish town. What should be an easy assignment and a lovely day out rapidly becomes much more serious when Hannah, her son, Anton, and their driver, Fraulein Ivona, find some of the 12,000 Polish Jews that were deported from Germany in the fall of 1938 and then housed in silos and stables. Their plight becomes personal for Hannah when she meets her old friend, Miriam, exhausted, hungry and in labor. Hannah resolves to bring Miriam medical help, and her actions take her right into harm’s way.
Kidnapped by two members of the Gestapo, Hannah is brought back to Berlin, where there is a price on her head. She is rescued by an unlikely duo, but after that, their escape out of Germany is complicated, not only by their lack of passports but by Hannah’s need to find Miriam’s daughter, Ruth, who was left behind when Miriam was taken.
Rebecca Cantrell caught the building tension and horror of the days leading up to Kristallnacht with a vengeance. The implacable and relentless determination of the Reich to eradicate the Jews, the Jewish resolve intermingled with anger and despair, and all through it, the ongoing search for two-year-old Ruth, born of a Jewish mother but with Aryan features, placing her squarely at the center of the spiralling hatred. It would not in the least surprise me to see these books used as textbook examples of what happened during those dark days. Cantrell weaves in so much actual history, it’s hard to believe these are works of fiction.
If you haven’t read the Hannah Vogel series, let me encourage you to do so. You absolutely need to read them in order, beginning with A Trace of Smoke, Cantrell’s writing is powerful, compelling and altogether human. This is a series not to be missed!
Tues, Jan. 29th, Ian Rankin will drop by to signStanding in Another Man’s Grave.Two detectives work the case of a 15-year-old girl who disappeared along a scenic Scotland highway. Other than a photo sent from her phone, there’s been no trace of her. The case becomes more complicated by three factors: the investigators learn that there have been many disappearances along this rural stretch, some going back a decade; for some reason, Internal Affairs is sniffing around the case; and the teen’s stepfather is a gangster and has his own people looking for her. One of the cops? John Rebus.
Because this will be a quick hit-n-run stock signing and we are uncertain of the time frame, we strongly suggest that you reserve a copy to be picked up later or mailed. We cannot guarantee that an entire collection of his books left here to be signed will get signed, either. Sorry. We wish this was a formal signing and all that one allows, and that the shop could be full of fans waiting to meet him like the last time he was here, but it isn’t. There will be no time to chat or ask questions or pose for photos.
Quantities will be limited.