“It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats.”
~ Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales
Phew, November and NaNoWriMo is over. I only got to 42,000 words this year but it’s pretty good for being dreadfully sick the last week of the month. Tons of interesting books came out in the past few weeks and I intend to snuggle in and read them during my extended time off.
Martinique, 1765, and brothers Emile and Lucien are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission. They must return to Grenada, the island they once called home, and smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders at the hospital plantation in Fort Royal. While Lucien, barely in his teens, sees the trip as a great adventure, the older and worldlier Emile has no illusions about the dangers they will face. But with no choice other than to obey Cleophas – and sensing the possibility, however remote, of finding his first love Celeste – he sets out with his brother on this ‘reckless venture’. With great characters, a superb narrative setup, and language that is witty and thrillingly alive, Sugar Money is a novel to treasure.
I love Jane Harris’ writing and I am entranced once again. I’ve never read anything quite like this book. I highly recommend it. It’s not out in the US yet, but a kind friend in the UK brought it over for me. If you can’t wait either, you can order from overseas.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Arcade Publishing (March 6, 2018)
A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.
Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.
Like just about everyone, I was very upset to hear of McNamara’s sudden death. I hope reading and reviewing this one will help bring her work to new eyes.
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper (February 27, 2018)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
The weird tales in this slim volume are all linked by a play, the second act of which reveals truths so terrible and beautiful that it drives all who read it to despair: The King in Yellow.
These four macabre, uncanny and unsettling stories are some of the most thrilling ever written in the field of weird fiction, and since their first publication in 1895 have become a cult classic, influencing many writers from the renowned master of cosmic horror H.P Lovecraft to the creators of HBO’s True Detective.
Contains: ‘The Repairer of Reputations’, ‘The Mask’, ‘In the Court of the Dragon’, ‘The Yellow Sign’.
If Pushkin Press is releasing it, I don’t need anything else to convince me to read it. Plus, it inspired the first season of True Detective? Sign me up.
By Robert W. Chambers
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Pushkin Press (February 27, 2018)
Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.9 x 5.5 inches
Thomas De Quincey was an obsessive. He was obsessed with Wordsworth and Coleridge, whose Lyrical Ballads provided the script to his life, and by the idea of sudden death. Running away from school to pursue the two poets, De Quincey insinuated himself into their world. Basing his sensibility on Wordsworth’s and his character on Coleridge’s, he forged a triangle of unusual psychological complexity.
Aged twenty-four, De Quincey replaced Wordsworth as the tenant of Dove Cottage, the poet’s former residence in Grasmere. In this idyllic spot he followed the reports of the notorious Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811, when two families, including a baby, were butchered in their own homes. In his opium-soaked imagination the murderer became a poet while the poet became a murderer. Embedded in On Murder as One of the Fine Arts, De Quincey’s brilliant series of essays, Frances Wilson finds the startling story of his relationships with Wordsworth and Coleridge.
This book is SO GOOD. If you are at all an English nerd, like me, you need to read it. Wilson’s writing style is a bit different, which makes it even more interesting, but you have to take it slow and soak it all in. Be patient with this one.
By Frances Wilson
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (October 17, 2017)
Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches
from the publisher:
A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra’s confidant and the guardian of the sickly heir to the Russian throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet.
But as the prizewinning historian Douglas Smith shows, the true story of Rasputin’s life and death has remained shrouded in myth. A major new work that combines probing scholarship and powerful storytelling, Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the real life of one of history’s most alluring figures.
I’ve only just started this biography but it’s engrossing already. I know only the basics about the strange man and learning about how truth meets legend is awesome. It’s long, so it may be a bit for I am able to do a full review.
Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs
By Douglas Smith
Paperback: 880 pages
Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (November 7, 2017)
In The Un-Discovered Islands, critically acclaimed author Malachy Tallack takes the reader on fascinating adventures to the mysterious and forgotten corners of the map.
Be prepared to be captivated by the astounding tales of two dozen islands once believed to be real but no longer on the map. These are the products of the imagination, deception, and human error: an archipelago of ex-islands and forgotten lands. From the well-known story of Atlantis and the mysteries of frozen Thule to more obscure tales from around the globe, and from ancient history right up to the present day, this is an atlas of legend and wonder, with glorious illustrations by Katie Scott.
I am about halfway through this one and it’s lovely. I highly recommend it as a gift for anyone who love history or geography or just naturalist illustrations.
An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes
By Malachi Tallack
Illustrated by Katie Scott
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Picador (November 7, 2017)
from the publisher:
For most of her adult life, resourceful caterer Faith Fairchild has called the sleepy Massachusetts village of Aleford home. While the native New Yorker has come to know the region well, she isn’t familiar with Havencrest, a privileged enclave, until the owner of Rowan House, a secluded sprawling Arts and Crafts mansion, calls her about catering a weekend house party.
Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane—a Broadway legend—is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. “I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be, but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me.”
This was a very, very quick read for me. Heavily influenced by Agatha Christie country house mysteries, the book is a easy-to-read cozy — perfect for an afternoon by the fire.
Series: Faith Fairchild Mysteries (Book 24)
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (December 5, 2017)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
What do you plan on reading this month?