Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Finally Found Donates to the Community, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke, Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon, and Changeling by Phillipa Gregory


I've know Todd of Finally Found Books since he bought Baker Street Books in Black Diamond from Mr Charles and then moved the whole enterprise to Auburn, much to my distress. I know that Baker Street was a losing proposition for him because it doesn't get enough foot traffic on a quiet street in sleepy Black Diamond, which barely qualifies as a hamlet/small town. But understanding why and missing having a bookstore close by are two different things. Still, I applaud Todd and company for all they've done with the new bookstore location, and how hard they are working to knit the store into the fabric of the community.

Cool Idea of the Day: Education Donation
 Finally Found Books http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz22406933>, Auburn, Wash.,is donating $30,000
in store gift certificates to 3,000 local educators, Bookselling This
Week reported. Owner Todd Hulbert will give every teacher in the area's
two school districts a $10 gift certificate to help with classroom
expenses.

"Mainly, I want to help out the educators who spend so much out of
pocket each year," he said. "Teachers have it hard and they don't have
enough financial support from the district. It's not a lot but this is
what we can give.... The community has been great and supportive about
what we're doing and the districts are ecstatic to receive our gift. We
want a literate world."

Hulbert also challenged other local businesses "to help out their
community and local schools as much as they can. They need our help."

My mum used to live in Scottsdale, when she first moved to Arizona. She has moved several times since then, and now lives in Prescott Valley, where she's planning to stay now that her husband of 30 years, Lloyd Shalin, has passed away at age 95. She would be fascinated to know that this bookstore is having an event on my birthday, though I don't think she will be able to drive her aging auto to the event.
Congratulations to the Poisoned Pen Bookstore http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz22445751,Scottsdale, Ariz., which turns 25 on October 3. The store has been
celebrating all year, which will culminate in an open house for all
customers on Friday, December 12, 5-8 p.m., that will feature
refreshments, many giveaways (some donated by publishers) and authors
Diana Gabaldon, Dana Stabenow and James Sallis, among others. Owner
Barbara Peters said that the open house is "to thank our customers."

One other cool way the store is marking the anniversary: it's been
collecting signatures all year long from visiting authors on two
scrolls. One scroll will be given away; the other will be displayed in
the store during 2015. 

The three latest books I've consumed are The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke, Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon and Changeling by Phillipa Gregory.
Those last two are YA books, and yet, one definitely panders to a young female audience while the other seeks just to tell a good story featuring interesting young people.
I picked up Changeling by Phillipa Gregory for cheap at the Sequel Bookstore in Enumclaw last Friday, and from the moment I opened the novel, I was engrossed in this "Name of the Rose"-like story. Here's the blurb:
The year is 1492. Eighteen-year-old Luca De Vere is brilliant, gorgeous—and a heretic. Cast out of his religious order for using scientific knowledge to prove that a divine revelation was faked, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, headed by none other than Pope Nicholas V, investigates strange occurrences across Europe, and Luca is now part of the Order.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl who’s been shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her deceased father’s estate. Because of mysterious happenings at the nunnery, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her.
Despite the conventions of their time, an attraction grows between Luca and Isolde, and, traveling across Europe, they encounter alchemists, poisoners, inquisitors, and purported witches as they head toward a real-life historical figure who may hold the power of the Order of the Dragon.
The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is firmly rooted in historical fact, and Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—to life.

Luca is basically a younger version of brother William of Baskerville in Umberto Ecco's famous "Name of the Rose" dark ages mystery. Unfortunately, though, because he's smart and beautiful, he's taken by many to be a changeling sent by wicked fairies in place of a regular child. But when he's tasked with becoming an investigator, he heads off with his trusty sidekick to a nunnery where he discovers a young noblewoman has been placed against her will and then accused of witchcraft by a nun who is in league with her evil brother, who wants their dead fathers estate all to himself. Isolde, the young noblewoman, also has a sidekick, of course, in a "moor" (read: black) girl whom her father brought back from the crusades and raised with his daughter to become her confidant and protector. I found it, despite the overt sexism of the age, interesting how the two teams of young people managed to deal with their various problems and mysteries. Luca solved the nunnery mystery, while Luca's sidekick, who is annoying, solves the second mystery of the book. Since this is a series, I have a feeling the four teens will be back solving mysteries together, reluctantly, for book two. While it was obvious early on "whodunit"I still found the excellent prose and historical setting, along with the sweeping plot to be all the ingredients of a book that I couldn't put down. I'd give it an A, and recommend it to those who enjoy a well-written medieval mystery.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is a book that I'm reading for my Tuesday book group at the library for October. It's the first book in Fluke's very successful Hannah Swensen mystery series, all containing a variety of cookie recipes from Swensen's fictional bakery, The Cookie Jar. Swensen lives in a fictional town in Minnesota, and solves mysteries because she can't help herself, her mind needs to be occupied in a Sherlockian fashion when she's not thinking about new kinds of cookies. Though Hannah is an appealing sleuth, I became bored with her rambling investigation and her insistence on including her annoyingly "perfect" sister, who seems like a real piece of work, as does their horrible match-making mother. But Hannah just allows all these relatives to push her around, and force her into doing things she doesn't want to do. I found that hard to swallow, considering the heroine is supposed to be tough and in charge of her own life. Still, she manages to solve the mystery without being killed by a crazed woman who murders in order to keep her fancy home, which I found more than ridiculous, and rather a lame ending to an otherwise decent mystery. I'd give this book a B-, (and that is being generous) and i'd recommend it to those who like light, cozy mysteries.
Doon was billed as a "re-telling" of Brigadoon, the musical about a fairy land in Scotland that only appears once a year. It is actually a kind of "reboot" ala Star Trek several years ago, but with teenagers instead of hot new actors. Two young friends, MacKenna (known as Ken or Kenna) and her best friend Veronica, or Vee, lead very different lives, yet somehow manage to remain buddies. Veronica comes from a horrible household where her father, a drug addict, abandoned his family and left his daughter in the care of an alcoholic, narcissistic and cruel mother who hooks up with a slimebag and wants Veronica out of their lives ASAP. MacKenna is only interested in becoming a Broadway star, and is the physical opposite of her friend Vee, who is a popular petite brunette, while Kenna is a robust red head. The two girls hare off on an adventure to Kenna's aunt Grace's cottage in Scotland, only to discover that her aunt has actually been to Doon, and brought back magic rings and a journal of her adventures in this mystical land that can only be reached across the "bridge across the Doon river" or the brig o Doon. Here's the blurb:
Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes?
When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months. But the Scottish countryside holds other plans. Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation.
Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for… or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.
Since this story is obviously a paranormal romance, there's a great deal of description of the beauty of the male characters, Duncan and Jamie, and how helpless Vee and Kenna are in the face of their manly charms.There's swooning, and longing, and yearning and weeping and lots of immature behavior, but since these are teenagers, we are supposed to find that charming. I felt that the book was so simplistic in its portrayal of teenage girls and what they think (They're all boy crazed and can only think of romance and their destiny in terms of a guy!) to be condescending to girls everywhere. I also found the Christian undertone rather off-putting, and the sexism of the guys all wanting to "possess" and own the girls, as if that was their right as males to be equally repulsive. Girls of today are not that stupid, nor are they so single-minded that they believe that only in marriage will they be happy, because of course it's every girls "destiny" to fall in love and wed and have children. Any girl who chooses career over that is bound to be miserable, as Kenna is purported to be when Duncan comes back for her in the preview to the second book in the series. I think this reboot of Brigadoon deserves a C at best, and I wouldn't recommend it to any young girl with a mind to think for herself.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards and The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson, plus Ursula's Award and Scottish Bookstore Internship


All I can say is that it is about time! Ursula Le Guin deserves every literary honor out there, and then some, for her ground-breaking science fiction and her tough stance on women authors getting a fair shake in the publishing business.

National Book Foundation Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin
 The National Book Foundation http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz22385982 is awarding its 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
which recognizes "individuals who have made an exceptional impact on
this country's literary heritage," to Ursula K. Le Guin. Neil Gaiman
will present the award to her November 19 at the National Book Awards
Ceremony in New York City.

NBF executive director Harold Augenbraum said Le Guin "has had an
extraordinary impact on several generations of readers and,
particularly, writers in the United States and around the world. She has
shown how great writing will obliterate the antiquated--and never really
valid--line between popular and literary art. Her influence will be felt
for decades to come."

Yet another, of the myriad of reasons, why it is important to shop at independent bookstores. You can't beat them for finding unusual books and for the social experience of hanging out with other bibliophiles.

"Independent bookstores never had to answer to the dictates of public
markets. Many of their proprietors understood, intuitively and from
conversations with customers, that a well-curated selection--an
inventory of old and new books--was their primary and maybe only
competitive advantage.... And while indies cannot compete with Amazon's
inventory, Amazon evidently cannot supplant indies as shopping and
social experiences.

"The independent stores will never be more than a niche business of
modest sales and very modest profitability. But the same is true for
many small businesses, which makes them no less vital.... The
independents, meanwhile, offer something neither Amazon nor the chains
can: attention to the quirky needs of their customer base. For the Upper
West Side and thousands of other neighborhoods, those stores have turned
out to be irreplaceable."

--Zachary Karabell in a Slate piece headlined "Why Indie Bookstores Are
on the Rise Again
http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz22385954"

I consider my son a Millennial, though he is nearly 15, and I know for a fact that he loves reading actual physical copies of books, though he does read on his computer as well.

Pew: Millennials Read, Use Libraries More Than Old Folks
 Millennials--Americans aged 16 to 29--are more likely to have read a
book in the past year than people 30 and older (88% vs. 79%), and more
than a third (37%) read an e-book in the past year, according to a new
Pew Research Center study of "Young Americans and Public Libraries."

The study also found that Millennials are as likely as older adults to
have used a library in the past year (50% of them did so, compared to
47% of those older) and more likely to have used a library website (36%
of Millennials vs. 28% of older people).

Although 98% of Millennials use the Internet, some 62% of them say there
is "a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the
internet," compared to 53% of older Americans.

The full report is available here

Three words: WANT TO GO!
The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association's 2014 Tradeshow
http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz22396904 takes place Fri.-Sun., Sept. 26-28, at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Wash. Registration opens 7:45 a.m. on
Friday, followed by a morning of educational sessions, panels and
workshops for booksellers, librarians, small press publishers and
authors (booksellers, for example, can learn about the Art and Science
of Gift Buying or Fostering Creativity for Better Store Ambience). The
Celebration of Authors lunch, from noon to 1, gives 10 newer Northwest
authors five minutes each to discuss their latest titles. Panels pick up
again at 2:30 (highlights for booksellers: Maximizing the Benefit of
Indies First Small Business Saturday and Nuts and Bolts of Bookstore
Finance) and run until PNBA's Annual Membership Meeting from 5:30 to
6:30. King's Books in downtown Tacoma hosts dinner at the King's Table,
a free buffet with 10 Northwest authors whose books are about food,
plants or drinks. Nineteen more authors will attend the Nightcapper from
8:30 to 10, near the hotel bar.

Saturday kicks off with the Book and Author breakfast from 8 to 9:30
a.m., featuring Marie Lu (whose latest books is Young Elites), Nikki
McClure (May the Stars Drip Down), Azar Nafisi (The Republic of
Imagination) and Garth Stein (A Sudden Light). The exhibit hall opens at
9:30 with a buffet lunch and meetings of the book award committee and
education committee at noon. Exhibits close and a party hosted by
Seattle7Writers begins at 4:30 p.m. Twenty authors will circulate among
dining booksellers and librarians at the 6 p.m. Feast of Authors; 20
more authors will attend PNBA's first ever Sweet and Greet, a dessert
party, from 8:30 to 10 p.m.

Sunday's 8 a.m. author breakfast features Bonny Becker (A Library Book
for Bear), T.C. Boyle (The Harder They Come), Molly Gloss (Falling from
Horses) and Mac Barnett and Jory John (The Terrible Two). Exhibits open
from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Hold On, I'm Coming Lunch at 11:30 has
David Joy (Where All Light Tends to Go), Michael Buckley (Undertow),
Sara Blaedel (The Forgotten Girls), Tim Johnston (Descent) and Gayle
Forman (I Was Here) and raffle prize announcements at 1 p.m. The show
ends at 2:30.

Another place I've always wanted to visit is Scotland, and this would be the most wonderful internship I could imagine, working in a bookstore and living in Scotland. I couldn't leave my family, though, and I don't know how I would manage my Crohns Disease without my gastro doc here, but a girl can dream, right?!

Wigtown, Scotland's national book town, "is offering members of the
public the chance to experience the lifestyle of a bookseller in a
series of residencies that will begin at this year's Wigtown Book
next 12 months," the Bookseller reported. The Open Book project
"will invite interested parties to apply to live in and run a local
renamed the Open Book, for a period of up to six weeks.... Participants
will be given a crash course in bookselling and will be asked to
contribute to a blog outlining their experiences, as well as keeping the
shop open for a set number of hours a week."

Adrian Turpin, director of the Wigtown Festival Company, said, "For many
booklovers, the idea of running a bookshop is a dream. But it can be a
tough lifestyle and one that demands dedication and inventiveness, as
the many bookshops in Scotland's Book Town show.... The Internet has had
a huge effect on booksellers. The Open Book project is intended as an
original way to examine some of the issues facing bookshops in the age
of Amazon. It will also bring exciting new creative energy to the town."

Part of the inspiration for the project came from American author
Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets chronicled her life-altering
decision to leave a job at NASA and move to Scotland to live in a used
bookshop. Six years later, she is still there.

The story Minority Report is truly fascinating and there are some differences to it, but I still 
enjoyed the movie version with Colin Farrell and Tom Cruise, and I think it would make an excellent tv series. 
 
Minority Report
the drama project from Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television and writer
Max Borenstein (Godzilla), "has landed at Fox with a big put pilot
commitment," Deadline.com reported. The series, based on Philip K.
Dick's short story and the 2002 movie directed by Spielberg, "is
envisioned as a sequel to the movie." 

The three books I just finished were, with one exception, a waste of time. Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards and The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson were all disappointing at some level.

Lucky Us is the story of Eva and Iris, half sisters whose terrible father (liar, adulterer, thief and creep) reluctantly accepted his daughter Eva into his life when his mistress dropped her off as a child (the adults in this novel apparently have no morals or values or decency in them at all). From there, her lesbian fame-seeking sister Iris realizes that the two of them are on their own, as their father can't seem to manage money or work to care for his children, drinking their money away when he manages to steal from his children.  The two move away to Hollywood, and Iris is blacklisted when some creep takes photos of her having sex with another actress on a beach. The girls end up joining forces with a gay Hispanic makeup artist and driving to Long Island, where they end up, with their wastrel father, working for a wealthy family as a governess and a butler and maid. Unfortunately, Iris falls in love with the cook, who is married to a man of German heritage, and to get him out of the way, Iris rats him out to the government (this is during WWII) as a German spy, and the poor man is locked away in a camp and then deported to war-torn Germany. He writes a series of letters to Eva, whom he's played cards with and been kind to as a friend and father figure, telling her of all the terrible things that happen to him, though he's lied his way into a family who eventually are killed in the Dresden bombings. Of course, these letters never make their way to America (Why would we deliver mail from our enemies during war?), so when Gus actually makes his way back to America after the war is long over, he is  somehow amazed that his long-winded missives never made it to Eva, and even if they did, it makes no sense to think these letters full of his whining and horrible actions would somehow woo Eva into falling in love with him. He's twice her age, and when he tries to make love to her, he can't even recall how to do so, which is hard to believe, as it is obvious that the man had sex more than a few times before in his life. It's also hard to believe that Eva would want this grotesque old guy fumbling around with her, like she has no other choice and there are no young men she can find anywhere in New York. Meanwhile, while Gus is in Germany, Iris swoops in an starts a heated affair with Reenie, his wife, and when Reenie whines and mopes about wanting a child, Iris, ever the evil opportunist, sends Eva to a local orphanage to steal a little boy. Reenie is thrilled by having this ragged and sad kid to fuss over, but when she is litterally lit  on fire by Iris and killed (and Iris's hands are burned badly enough that she flees to a hospital in England, where she also writes whining missives to Eva) the little boy is left with Eva, who maintains that she's not really a good parent, to care for him and for her terminally-ill father. Eva manages to care for everyone by creating a job as a psychic who does tarot readings and tells people what they want to hear. She eventually forgives her narscissitic sister (why is never made clear, as all her sister has ever done is use Eva) and Gus, whom she marries, and somehow loves (which disgusts me as a reader because he was her father figure when she was a child!), and after her father dies they all live together as one happy family. I just didn't buy it, as they were all horrible people, with the exception of the gay makeup guy and Eva, who just seemed none too bright for doing everything people told her to do. Still, the prose was decent and the plot not too slow. I'd give it a C+, and I would recommend it to those who have a dark sense of humor.
The Next Big Thing is about a young woman named Kat Larson who works for a PR firm and weighs 230 pounds. She's tried every diet, as most of us have, and she's got an online relationship with a guy in England who thinks she's a skinny supermodel. Kat hears about a reality show called Fat2Fabulous and jumps at the chance to become thin so that she can actually meet her online love and start writing romance novels and start living her life. Because, yanno, you can't actually live your life if you're fat. Sigh. Prejudice and ignorance and horrible stereotypes and cliches are rampant throughout this novel, as Kat just comes off as stupid and her friends (and eventually boyfriend) come off as actually shallow, mean, stupid and greedy. I had a hard time finishing this book, because 100 pages in I wanted to scream at the protagonist and her "friends" for falling prey to all the falacies of weight and all the stereotypes. I also thought they all behaved like asshats, and unfortunately, none of them actually got better as the story progressed. Kat forgives her loathesome best friend, who ratted her out to her internet boyfriend, who then showed up on the set of the show and basically acted like a complete ass and humiliated Kat while taking none of the blame himself for their relationship failures. But once Kat loses weight, (a mere 40 pounds) of course the host of the show falls in love with her, and she manages to get a job working on air with MTV. Once again they reiterate that you can't have a life, a career, a boyfriend or anything until you are thin, which is complete and utter BS. I had relationships while I was large, while I was "thin" and I was married when I became a larger person and I'm still married to the same man 17 years later (though I've known him for 25 years) and I am bigger than I've ever been. I've had a career and a child and a life, and I certainly didn't need to wait to be thin for my life to begin. It is possible to be larger and still be healthy, (I am not hypertensive, I don't have diabetes and other than Crohn's Disease, which is not connected with being large, other than making you larger via the medications, I am okay) and not all large people eat junk food all day to become larger people. I was so disappointed by the ignorance of the people in this book, perpetuating the stereotypes and promoting the diet industry. I would give this novel a D, and that's being generous, and I would not recommend it to anyone, ever. 
Kiss of Deception is a new YA fantasy series, set in a dystopian future America, of course, where the remnants of a great apocalypse have created several "kingdoms" and people live much as they did in the middle ages. Here's the blurb: 
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

Lia, Rafe and Kaden spend most of the book getting to know one another, while we are meant to not know whether Rafe or Kaden are the prince that Lia was meant to be wed to or the assasin meant to kill her. Readers will figure out rather quickly that Rafe is the prince and Kaden the assasin.  Though Lia is supposedly no dummy, she comes across as a bit of an idiot, naive at the very least, and somehow willfully ignorant of the huge impact that her running away from her marriage would have on her kingdom and his. It isn't until her pregnant sister in law is killed by Kaden's people that she realizes how selfish and stupid that she's been, and by then it is too late. Granted, I could understand some of Lia's willful rebellion, because she's 17 years old, and has lead a sheltered life as the princess of her realm. Somehow, though, I expected her to have a bit more on the ball, and to be able to recognize Rafe as the prince and figure out that Kaden was up to no good. She starts coming into her powers late in the book, as she's being dragged to Kaden's country, which is apparently a savage and brutal place, and Rafe arrives to become a prisoner with her, now that the two have fallen in love. So there's plenty of fodder for the next two books, which I assume will be coming out next year and the year after. I enjoyed the clean prose and swift plot of this novel, and I actually read it all in one sitting, it was that engrossing (and a welcome respite after the other two books I'd just read). I would give this novel a B, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical romance and YA adventure stories.
 

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Downton Abbey, Female Spies, Binge Reading and House Immortal by Devon Monk, The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch and Bless the Bride by Rhys Bowen


The British, they tease and taunt us with trailers and photos and article son Season 5 of Downton Abbey, the world's most popular TV drama, (outside of NCIS) and then they refuse to let us in on the joy of actually seeing the show until January of 2015, which is a CRIME, I tell you!

A trailer has been released for Downton
Season 5, which will premiere in the U.K. September 21 and in the U.S.
January 4 on PBS Masterpiece. Deadline.com reported that guest stars
this year include Richard E. Grant and Anna Chancellor.

This looks like a wonderful book, and I admire authors who delve into the depths of history to uncover the role that women played in historic events. It's not easy work.
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War

I agree that book binges are the best! Still, I can't resist watching the incomparable Kate Mulgrew play Red in Orange is the New Black. 

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Monogram
Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah and Agatha
Christie (Morrow, $25.99, 9780062297211) as her pick of the month for
September. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse
club's members, she wrote:

"Forget binge-watching Breaking Bad or Orange Is the New Black. I'm here
to make a stand for binge-reading. I've always been a binge-reader, and
one of the first series I devoured was Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot
novels. When the author passed away, I felt the pain of saying goodbye
to a character I'd grown to think of as a good friend. Now, Sophie
Hannah has written a new Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders, which is
this month's book pick.

"I'd almost forgotten how much I loved the witty banter between the
Belgian detective and his young Scotland Yard protege, Edward Catchpool.

"A variety of other Christie novels will also be available in most
Costco warehouses."

I've polished off three more books, House Immortal by Devon Monk, The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch and Bless the Bride by Rhys Bowen.

I'll start with the last book that I read, House Immortal by Devon Monk, which is the first in a new series she's written about Frankenstein's monster-style people. 
I've read every single book in every other series that Monk has written, and I've enjoyed them all. She has a real flare for creating interesting, flawed, fun and feisty female protagonists that never give up on their beliefs, values, morals and loved ones.
Mathilda Case is no exception. She's a "galvanized" immortal, a person stitched together from parts, but in Tilly's case, she was created as a child, and her mind and soul were transferred by her genius brother Quinten into her galvanized body. Tilly has been living "off the grid" on a farm with the stitched together odd creatures (like a dragon) that her father created before he and her mother were killed by one of the imperial "houses," house Black, decades ago. Everyone must be aligned with a particular house in order to survive in this post apocalyptic world, and that's where Tilly runs into trouble, as she's with the other off-grid people in "House Brown" which has no power and no specific dynastic family leader, as do all the other houses. Also, the other houses have one ore more of 12 "galvanized" immortals that they keep enslaved by dint of having them sign a treaty saying that the House Brown people would be left alone as long as they remain under the thumb of the house lords/ladies. Here's the blurb: One hundred years ago, eleven powerful ruling Houses consolidated all of the world’s resources and authority into their own grasping hands. Only one power wasn’t placed under the command of a single House: the control over the immortal galvanized....
Matilda Case isn’t like most folk. In fact, she’s unique in the world, the crowning achievement of her father’s experiments, a girl pieced together from bits. Or so she believes, until Abraham Seventh shows up at her door, stitched with life thread just like her and insisting that enemies are coming to kill them all.
Tilly is one of thirteen incredible creations known as the galvanized, stitched together beings immortal and unfathomably strong. For a century, each House has fought for control over the galvanized. Now the Houses are also tangled in a deadly struggle for dominion over death—and Tilly and her kind hold the key to unlocking eternity
The secrets that Tilly must fight to protect are hidden within the very seams of her being. And to get the secrets, her enemies are willing to tear her apart piece by piece.… 
Tilly's peace is shattered when a 7 ft tall galvanized named Abraham shows up wounded at her door, insisting that he has a message from her long-dead mother that he must come and protect her and her father. Once the two of them get in a room together and Abraham Seven realizes that Tilly is one of his own kind, the sparks start to fly, and everything starts to go haywire. Suddenly all the houses are after Tilly, her farmhand, two-headed Ned, and her seemingly batty grandmother, who knits time into scarves directly from her miniature sheep.Once Tilly discovers that her brother has been held captive by house orange, and forced to turn one of the house lords into a galvanized, she has to fight to keep everyone alive in what has become a turf war between the houses. I LOVED this book, and I am thrilled that there is more to come in the series, because I could NOT put book one down! A real page turner that deserves an A, and is recommended for fans of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, as well as fans of post apocalyptic fiction, like Hunger Games, Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments and World War Z.

Bless the Bride is book 10 in Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy mystery series, and while I've not read all 9 of the previous books, I have read 4 or 5 of them, and enjoyed them as cozy historical mysteries, set in turn of the century New York City. Here's the blurb:
With Molly Murphy’s wedding to NYPD Captain Daniel Sullivan quickly approaching, the Irish P.I. heads to the Westchester County countryside, where Daniel’s mother can counsel her on a bride’s proper place. Surprisingly, Molly seems to be agreeing with her future mother-in-law’s advice. Molly promises to leave her detective work behind and settle down after becoming Daniel’s wife…but she isn’t married yet. So when she gets word of a possible case, Molly sneaks back into the city to squeeze in a little more sleuthing before the wedding bells can ring.
A wealthy Chinese immigrant wants Molly to find his missing bride. Molly has a hunch that his intended has run off. But where could she have gone—and where would she be? The only Chinese women of the era are kept under house arrest, and Molly can’t help but wonder whether she’s saving the bride-to-be from the streets…or helping to lock her away for good. 
Molly is deep in frustrated wedding preparations (she's hopeless at sewing) when she receives word that her bohemian (read: lesbian) friends Gus and Sid are throwing her a pre-nuptual party, and have also had a request for her sleuthing services from an old Chinese man whose young purchased bride has run away. What follows is Molly getting deeper and deeper into trouble, as she usually does, and her somewhat loutish policeman fiance Daniel coming to the rescue, and always trying to control her, as usual. Unfortunately, he's gotten Molly to promise to cease using her sleuthing skills once they are married, and "settle down" into being a wife and mother who doesn't venture out for anything more dangerous than shopping. Though she goes behind his back in this whole book, Molly still seems to think she will be able to live with Daniel without her calling once she's married, which I find impossible to believe, since she's been so independent previously. But the way that Chinese women are treated, (like disposable property) is shown, during the course of the book, to be so much worse than how white women are treated that readers are deflected from the sexism and patriarchy that Molly must endure. Bowen's no nonsense prose and swift plot make this a novel that is easy to read in one sitting, and has a satisfying HEA ending to boot. A solid B+ with a recommendation for fans of Maisie Dobbs and Bess Crawford Mysteries to give Molly and her time a try.
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch is the 3rd book in the Gentlemen Bastards series, and, as I've read the previous two books, I felt like I knew what to expect from this book. Lynch has a penchant for LONG novels (I don't know that he's capable of writing a book under 700 pages) with boatloads of historical, political, nautical and other sorts of details. But it isn't the long-winded explanations and details that make me come back for more of the Gentlemen Bastards, Locke and Jean and Sabetha.It's the characters themselves, so richly drawn as to seem real, that make me want to know how they will face their next challenge and survive in the cruel environments in which they're constantly placed. The details, in this novel political and theatric, grow old and boring after the first or second chapter-long narrative. Thankfully, Lynch seems to know his audience's limits, and he salts the boring detail chapters among the action chapters, so no one falls asleep for fear of missing something interesting with Locke or Jean. Here's the blurb:
With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.
 Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.
 Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.
Sabetha's story, or at least as much of it as connects her to Locke, is on full display here, which is great, except we learn that Sabetha is prickly, smart and capricious,seemingly giving Locke signals that she will accept him as a boyfriend on one hand, and then withdrawing that to do him some dirt. While their plotting against one another was very clever and interesting, I felt that, as one of the few women in these novels, Sabetha portrayed women as being rather nasty creatures who are cruel, greedy and have no real concept of how to love someone, or to be loved by someone. The men, meanwhile, are basically only interested in the sexual side of any relationships that they have, and that seems to be the stand-in for a lasting relationship; vigorous sex which ends when the woman tragically dies or leaves town. I'm still not sure I understand the ending of the book, either, as I don't understand WHY the portrait made Sabetha run away from Locke. I also don't know what Locke's real name or heritage are, because, in an uncharacteristic slide into cryptic text, Lynch leaves us with the prophecy of a bondsmage, who conveniently dies at the hands of her sociopathic son, as our only knowledge of what or who he truly is. Color me frustrated. Still, the book deserves a B+ and I would recommend it to anyone who has read the other Gentlemen Bastard books.