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Monday, November 27, 2017

Secret Santa for Readers

SantaThing: Secret Santa for Book Lovers

SantaThing is LibraryThing's Secret Santa for book lovers. This is their ELEVENTH year!
How it works:

Become a Secret Santa. Choose your gift level ($15–50) and bookstore, such as Powell's, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others. 

LibraryThing takes no "cut." If you pay $30, you get $30 worth of books (plus shipping at some sellers).

1) You can sign up for yourself, or make it a gift for a friend on or off LibraryThing.  You can do multiple SantaThings, one for yourself, gift ones for a family member or friend.

2) They choose a LibraryThing member to be your "Santee," the person you'll be buying for. They try to match up members with similar tastes in books.

3) You pick books for your Santee within the SantaThing system.

4) LibraryThing elves order the books and the books are shipped directly to your Santee. Only LibraryThing and the bookseller see your address.

5) You receive a package with the books from your Secret Santa—and rejoice!

Dates to know:
Monday, December 4th at 12pm EST (18:00 GMT). Sign-up ends. Secret Santas are chosen, profile messages are sent to the Secret Santa, and you can then enter your gift choices.

Monday, December 11th at 12pm EST (18:00 GMT). After the weekend, gift picking ends. LibraryThing sends the order via eight tiny ponies to the bookstore you chose.

Go here to sign in or start an account.

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review - Murder Between the Lines

I was excited to read this historical from the endorsement from author of the Maggie Hope series: "Radha Vatsal succeeds once again in fleshing out a strong-willed, ambitious, and thoroughly delightful young heroine, who struggles against the society's restrictions on so-called career women, while solving crime-and writing news stories-with aplomb." - Susan Elia MacNeal.  Read on to find my review of this new-to-me series.

Author: Radha Vatsal

Copyright: May 2017 (Sourcebooks Landmark) 320 pgs

Series: 2nd in Kitty Weeks Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy

Main Characters: Kitty Weeks, Women's page reporter for the Sentinel

Setting: 1915 New York City, NY

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review-Edelweiss

From the book cover: "When Kitty's latest assignment for the New York Sentinel Ladies' Page takes her to Westfield Hall, she expects to find an orderly establishment teaching French and dancing-but there's more going on at the school than initially meets the eye.

Tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death in Central Park. The doctor's proclaim that the girl's sleepwalking was the cause, but Kitty isn't so sure.

Determined to uncover the truth, Kitty must investigate a more chilling scenario-a murder that may involve Elspeth's scientist father and a new invention by a man named Thomas Edison."

Capability "Kitty" Weeks lives in a penthouse, has servants, and a chaffeur but works half days at the paper. She is smart and very capable.  Her father, Julian Weeks, was a single parent raising her after her mother died shortly after giving birth.  He has always been a distant father.  Helena Busby, Kitty's editor, is typical of a mature woman who struggles with remaining traditional yet provide relevant material for the Women's pages.  Jeannie Williams, Kitty's coworker, lives in a boarding house and they share duties.  Sylvia Lane is Julian's first romantic interest since her mother died, which causes tension. Mr. Mills is a fellow reporter, but works with the men on a separate floor and could be interested in Kitty.  Time will tell.

The time period is rich with the political tensions with WWI Germany and Women's Suffrage movement. Submarians are dependant on batteries and Edison's battery may leak a gas that is explosive in closed quarters of a submarine.  This battery could be what Elzpeth was studying.  All of these bring the lesser written about war into focus as Kitty investigates.  Of course, the proper role of the era for Kitty is every present also.  The girl's school is delightfully atmospheric.

The plot is a solid mystery of accident versus murder and there are plenty of red herrings.  Subplots are Kitty's other writting assignments of President Wilson visiting a Womens Suffrage group (giving Kitty plenty to think on) and covering the shocking Times Square New Year's revelry.  Another subplot is Kitty's father becoming serious in a romance, the first since her mother died after giving birth.  The pacing is generally like the Jacqueling Winspear novels,

I will be honest, I have mixed feelings about the killer confrontation.  It is a confrontation, but satisfaction isn't of the expected or usual kind.  It is a bit realistic in that respect and the resolution isn't cut and dry either.  There was a bit of "save-the-day" which gave the aredrenaline kick.  The wrap up ensures more Kitty adventures in the future.

I liked Kitty, her money allows her freedom of movement, and she is gutsy.  I would like Julius, the father, be developed further.  He could be a great character.  I enjoyed Kitty being challenged by her coverage of the Suffrage group, which seemed realistic for the era. Overall I think this is a solid historical mystery and I will read the next one.

Rating:   Good - A fun read, I really enjoyed it.  Give it a try, particularly if you enjoy Jacqueline Winspear.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Review - City of Lies

This is the debut novel in a new series by the bestselling author of the Gaslight mystery series with midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Frank Malloy.  I jumped at the chance to read and review this new series based on the cover blurb.  Let's take a look at Ms. Thompson's new series.

Author: Victoria Thompson

Copyright: Nov 2017 (Berkley) 320 pgs

Series: 1st in Counterfeit Lady Novel series

Sensuality: Nothing graphic, but some violence in workhouse and occasional swearing.

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Suspense

Main Characters: Elizabeth Miles, smart and cunning grifter

Setting: 1917, Washington DC, Occoquan Workhouse, and New York

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review (Netgalley)

From the book cover: "Like most women, Elizabeth Miles assumes many roles; unlike most, hers have made her a woman on the run. Living on the edge of society, Elizabeth uses her guile to relieve so-called respectable men of their ill-gotten gains. But brutal and greedy entrepreneur Oscar Thornton is out for blood. He’s lost a great deal of money and is not going to forgive a woman for outwitting him. With his thugs hot on her trail, Elizabeth seizes the moment to blend in with a group of women [Suffragists picketing the White House] who have an agenda of their own [get women the vote at any cost]. 

She never expects to like or understand these privileged women, but she soon comes to respect their intentions [after being arrested with them and meets historic Lucy Burns], forming an unlikely bond with the wealthy matriarch of the group whose son, Gideon, is the rarest of species—an honest man in a dishonest world. Elizabeth knows she’s playing a risky game, and her deception could be revealed at any moment, possibly even by sharp-eyed Gideon. Nor has she been forgotten by Thornton, who’s biding his time, waiting to strike. Elizabeth must draw on her wits and every last ounce of courage she possesses to keep her new life from being cut short by this vicious shadow from her past."

Elizabeth Miles is an outstanding character.  She was raised a con artist and thinks on her feet.  When she is arrested with Suffragists picketing the White House in her effort to escape Thornton's thugs, she assists the women in dealing with the ordeal at the Occoquan Workhouse.  Once they are released she really has to be creative to stay alive with Thornton on her trail and maintain her new identity.  

Anna Vanderslice is a gentle and fragile suffragist that Elizabeth befriends and assists to get through the workhouse.  Anna bonds with Elizabeth quickly, relying on her courage.  David Vanderslice is Anna's brother who becomes a part of the story once they are released from the workhouse.  Mrs Bates is an older lady arrested who takes Elizabeth under her wing.  Gideon Bates, is her son and a lawyer who fights to get the Suffragists released and remains a key figure.

The settings are all a matter of historical record, even the Occoquan Workhouse.  Ms. Thompson did an amazing job of bringing the Suffragist movement to life, and gives the reader a slight taste of what women endured to get us the vote.  I found the depiction of the workhouse and the infamous "night of terror" well done without getting graphic.  

The plot twists and weaves and kept me turning pages.  The pacing is perfect, suspense is maintained and I never had to drag through any sections.  The interweaving of the historical events of the Occoquan Workhouse with Elizabeth's flight to escape a murderous man was pure genius.  

The climax was full of tension and some edge of your seat thrills, loved it!  The wrap up was equally enjoyable, with it's own twist. 

I had high expectations from the book blurb, and the story lived up to all of them.  Besides the importance of what it took [historical accuracy is high in the story] from many brave women to literally fight for the vote as a backdrop to the plot, the characters shined.  Elizabeth is a complex lead and Anna has her own depths that come forward.  The plot twists kept coming and I had to known how Elizabeth was going to get out of each challenging situation.  I give high praise for this novel and already am a fan and want the next installment.

Rating: Shear perfection - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend.

Here is a very short informative video.  FYI, women received the right to vote by one swing vote!

Here is a four minute informational piece worth the time.

The movie Iron Jawed Angels starring Hillary Swank is great as well.

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