Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden is a Victoria romance, the story of a man who is a gentleman by ancestry but supports himself by writing penny dreadful stories (Society must not find out!) and a music teacher who has been stealing back former possessions since her father was bankrupted and they lost everything. 

Hollis Darby's father gambled away everything but he still has principles. As a member of the Dread Penny Society, he is tasked with wooing various well-pocketed members of society into donating to their cause, rescuing waifs from the street and giving them a new home and life. They're also seeking a thief, the "Phantom Fox", whom they think to be one of the street children. 

Ana Newport's fall from society is more recent and painful as her father did nothing wrong beyond choosing a business partner who was dishonest. After the loss of his company, their house was emptied of all possessions and he has retreated to a single room, where he sits in the window. Ana teaches music but she has also become a skilled thief, although she only steals items of little but sentimental value. Will Ana get caught? 

Hollis has been besotted with Ana since the moment he first laid eyes on her but she seems hesitant to become involved with anyone. When Hollis's brother needs a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis jumps at the chance to ask her for help. It can't hurt that she will need a ride to and from the house. 

Hollis is also worried about his brother. He's hanging out with the wrong people and possibly gambling, the very thing that caused the loss of the family fortune. And, Ana Newport's father has noticed strange happenings at the home across the street. Are they connected? Hollis suspects that the notorious Four-Finger Mike is running a gambling den near Ana's home. Will Hollis and his friends find a way to infiltrate the house and stop Hollis's brother from ruining the family all over again? 

Interspersed throughout the book are installments of two immensely entertaining penny dreadful stories, one the story of a ghost school where young ghosts learn how not to accidentally fall through the floor, how to haunt properly, and other important ghostly skills. The other seems to parallel the main story without being a carbon copy, the tale of a man who has discovered that things are mysteriously disappearing from his ancestral home. The latter has a surprise twist that I never could have guessed in a million years. 

Highly recommended - Adventurous, captivating, clean romance and so immensely entertaining that I dashed off immediately to add the first book to my wish list. The Gentleman and the Thief is the second installment in a series but it stands alone, although hints are dropped and a few small things left open-ended, clearly to lead into a third book. I have got to chase down a copy of the first in the Dread Penny Society series: The Lady and the Highwayman.

Many thanks to Shadow Mountain for the review copy!

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Fiona Friday - Look at my paw

Look at it. 

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede

I read The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede as an e-book, which means I shocked myself because not long before I'd read Mexican Gothic electronically, as well. You know how I abhor e-books, right? Two in a row? Gasp! That's not likely to happen again, soon, although I am trying to read at least one per month. We'll see how that works out.

The Day the World Came to Town is the story of what happened when American airspace closed after the twin towers were hit, why Gander was chosen as the place to land a large number of planes, how the landing was handled and locals coordinated the effort to care for their huge influx of visitors, and what became of the various planeloads of people in the short and long run, along with a few of their stories. 

The Day the World Came to Town is not particularly well written but I liked it for the stories of kindness and the sense of community, including the way the "Newfies" embraced their guests and went out of their way to provide for their individual needs (like Kosher food for a small group when someone realized they were Orthodox Jews and noticed they weren't eating at all). For a few days, nobody cared about status, country of origin, skin color, etc. It made me want to move to Newfoundland, to be honest. What lovely people and so generous. 

The hard part of the reading was the losses described; and, if you were around on 9/11, it really takes you back to the memories and the emotion. I got teary a lot. 

Recommended - The Day the World Came to Town is slightly dated because it was written soon after 9/11 but it's still a good read. I chose to read it specifically because I'd heard it was an uplifting story and we were on the verge of the presidential election, as I was reading. I needed the escape and it didn't need to be perfect to fit the bill. 

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris

And that's the most bitter thing about love: you can't understand it, measure it — not all its edges and intricacies — until it's gone and the clear print of its negative self is left behind. 

~p. 12 of The Museum of Forgotten Memories (Advance Reader Copy - the final print version may be different)

In The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris, Cate Morris is still grieving the loss of her husband, four years past, and now she's lost her teaching job and her home. But, she has one last option. Her husband Richard was the heir to an estate with a museum full of treasures from around the world, including stuffed animals collected by his grandfather, Col. Lyons-Morris. For reasons he never explained, Richard stopped talking to his grandfather and never returned to their ancestral home; he even dropped part of his double-barreled last name. Although he never returned before his death, their son Leo has the right to take residence in the sprawling mansion. 

So, Cate and Leo pack up their flat in Islington and travel to the home that contains Hatter's Museum of the Wide Wide World, which is now run by a steely woman named Araminta Buchan and a handful of employees and volunteers. It's on its last legs. Within 6 weeks, it's likely that the board that oversees the running of the museum will close it. They would benefit from its liquidation and it's unlikely that funds will be found to prop it up. Can the museum be saved?

Leo looks just like his father but he has Down's Syndrome and Cate has clung to her parenting role. Now that Leo has arrived at his ancestral home, he's finding a new strength and determination. Will Cate be able to let go and allow Leo to grow and thrive, even possibly start a new life with someone else? 

Richard's best friend, Simon, dated Cate before she saw Richard and felt an immediate spark. He has been a kind presence as Leo's godfather and was a rock during the rough years of Richard's decline but spends most of his time out of the country. When Cate falls for a new man, will it last or will she be drawn back to her dear friend? 

Recommended - OK, first . . . you have to know half the reason I accepted this book for review was because of that stunning cover. How could you not want to know what's within its pages? In the preface, the author talks about the real museum in Kent that inspired the story and the kindness of the Major who preserved the animal specimens the museum was known for. I just added a new place to my bucket list. If it's at all like the fictional museum version, it must be worth the visit. 

As to the story, I had some minor issues with it that aren't worth mentioning and a problem with Cate's romance. The man she fell for moved on Cate faster than lightning. I was completely creeped out by the speed of his advances, to be honest, and never trusted him. Whether or not I was correct and he turned out to be trustworthy, I won't say. But, there are many surprises in The Museum of Forgotten Memories. It has a lot of plot twists that I never could have anticipated and only a couple that I managed to figure out with few enough hints that they were probably lucky guesses rather than a case of too much foreshadowing. 

I will say that I found it challenging to like Cate, at first. She was quick to make assumptions, a little haughty, and so heavily weighed down by her experiences that her inner monologue was a bit dark, sad, and judgmental. But, she was willing to confront her issues and apologized when she was wrong. So, she grew on me. And, while I haven't encountered many Down's Syndrome characters, it felt to me like Leo's character had the ring of truth. I had a friend in high school with a brother who had Down's and he always glowed when he spoke of his brother and how everyone loved him. Leo is like that; he has a temper yet he's also a charmer and everyone adores him. 

Obviously, there's a lot to this book. It has a surprising complexity and a gentle wisdom. And, I do love a book set in a sprawling English mansion. 

My thanks to Gallery Books for the review copy!

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (clockwise):

  • A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen - from Bethany House via Laurel Ann of Austenprose for tour 
  • Alone in London by Hesba Stretton,
  • The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier, and
  • Fled by Meg Keneally - all purchased

Because I am not so hot at self-control, I don't recall if the purchases were made before or after I told myself I was back on a book-buying ban. On the plus side, I still have some books coming but I don't think I bought anything this week. Maybe one book. Maybe none. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • I is for Illuminati by Chris Vola
  • The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede
  • Jonesy Flux and the Gray Legion by James Pray

Wow, that's two week's worth. Yikes, not good. Hope the election thing being over will help with the rest of the month's reading. 

Currently reading:

  • The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris

I'm going to stop even mentioning the Spanish Flu book till I've finished it. It's been pouting on the bedside table for weeks, now. The Museum of Forgotten Memories is a tour book and I'm scheduled to review it tomorrow, but then I think I only have one more tour book and one ARC, after that, so I'll be free to read off my shelves exclusively, soon. Funny thing about The Museum of Forgotten Memories: I keep forgetting the title. Hilarious, since it's got the word "forgotten" in the title. I am loving it, so far. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

Not thrilled about the current direction of the pandemic stats (straight up). I just returned to Facebook after a 3-month absence for my sanity during the election season and found out that I had one friend recovering, one just diagnosed, one who has a brother on a ventilator, and a cousin of mine was in the hospital, all COVID-19. Today, yet another friend said she's been diagnosed positive. Partly for that reason, we're having an early Thanksgiving with Kiddo and daughter-in-law. We're not much in the mood for a big meal so we're doing hors d'oeuvres and veggies. No turkey and stuffing, nothing heavy. And, we'll be eating outdoors, not hugging, and wearing masks when we're not eating. It's a nuisance but dying is worse. 

We've finished the first and only (at this point) season of Avenue 5, watched a couple Hallmark movies (The Mistletoe Promise and Campfire Kiss -- I liked the former and found the couple had zippo chemistry in the latter), and a lot of news. Husband normally is not big on watching the news but even he was glued to the TV as the vote counts came in. Hopefully, this election will lead to a little calm and the return of a functioning government. Fingers crossed. We certainly need it for the COVID effort. 

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Jonesy Flux and the Gray Legion by James Pray and a Fiona Friday pic

It took me over a week to finish a single book, thanks to election stress. Anyone else dealing with this? I think it's fading. Fortunately, Jonesy Flux and the Gray Legion was a good book to spend time with. I loved the main character and enjoyed every minute of this exciting middle grade book. In fact, I really, really want the author to continue Jonesy's adventures. 

Jonesy Archer and 17 other youngsters have been stranded on the remaining portion of a remote science station called Canary Station since it was attacked and mostly destroyed, 3 years ago. When the bad guys return, drawn by the signature from Jonesy's special power, her "flux", they're unable to find her so they take all of her friends instead, hoping to lure her into the legion in an exchange. 

Determined to save her friends, Jonesy figures out a way to run for help. Nobody has the strength and technology to battle the Gray Legion. But Jonesy's power is indeed special. Will she find a way to control her power and locate her friends to rescue them (preferably without giving herself up in exchange) before it's too late? 

Highly recommended - There's a lot more to the story that I'm leaving out, of course, like how the children survived the attack and the 3 years alone, how Jonesy manages to escape, and what happens after. It's a 400-page book and action-packed! I seriously hope the author is working on making this a continuing series and I would love to see it turned into a movie. 

Bonus: Jonesy is 11 years old and while she's smart and tough, the author let her be emotional. She actually cries quite a bit. As a person who was quick to tears at that age, I really appreciated the realistic emotions. 

Many thanks to Sterling Children's Books for the review copy! 

I didn't take many photos of the kitties, this week, but I did get one of Isabel with Jonesy Flux and the Gray Legion while I was reading! Happy Friday!

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia has been on my wish list for a while and I've read seemingly a gazillion reviews of it, so I was really excited when the e-book went on sale at a reasonable price. I may be terrible about getting around to reading e-books but desperation is very motivating and I really truly wanted to read it. 

Noémi is a party girl who lives in Mexico City in a sprawling, modern home, with her wealthy father. When she receives a rambling, incoherent note from the cousin who used to live with them, her father says she must go find out what's wrong with Catalina. Noémi doesn't really want to go but she knows it's the right thing to do. 

She's met at the train station by Catalina's husband and taken on a long drive up into the mountains to their remote home. This is where the "gothic" bit comes in. The home is an old mansion in poor repair and Catalina lives with her husband's family, including the patriarch of the family, a cousin, and the cousin's mother. There's mold on the walls and the family has bizarre rules that they expect Noémi to abide by (no talking during meals, no smoking, no bothering her cousin unless they feel she's okay to receive visitors). Catalina appears to be sick but maybe more in spirit than in health; her personality is entirely different from the carefree, happy soul of pre-marriage. But, Noémi isn't sure what's wrong and she's determined to get to the bottom of it. 

There's much more to the story, of course, including a growing attraction to cousin Francis and weird dreams that may be caused by the house, itself.

Recommended but not a favorite - Although I never fell massively in love with the plot, I liked about the first 2/3 of Mexican Gothic for the atmosphere, the creepy people, the weird dreams, and the questions that all this strangeness brought up. Why did Catalina's personality change? What was in the potion she had Noémi fetch from town? Was Catalina's husband just imprisoning her so he could keep her money or was there more to the story? What was up with the patriarch of the family and his need for silence? What was the reason for the murder in the family, years ago? What happened to all the other people who died near the house or in the family's long-closed silver mine?

See, I told you there was more to the story. Around the 2/3 mark, Mexican Gothic got a bit too weird for me and I considered giving up. Instead, I flipped to the end of the book and read a few pages to see if it looked like the book was worth sticking out. The ending looked promising so I continued, but I confess I pushed myself to read faster. The reason for all the strange happenings was just a little too bizarre for my taste. I did find the ending satisfying, though, so I have no regrets. And, I loved Noémi. She's a great, strong female character who was devoted to Catalina enough to refuse to leave, even when things became seriously weird and even dangerous. I also liked Francis and was rooting for Catalina, Francis, and Noémi to escape. 

My friend Brittanie started reading Mexican Gothic a few days after I did so we got to discuss it, which always adds to the reading experience. So glad I've been able to occasionally find people to discuss books with; I am missing my F2F group but the hole they fill in my life has been kept nicely plugged by discussion with other online friends and I so appreciate that. 

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.