Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I Can't Wait! | 2016 Debuts

It's that time of year again: roaring fires accompanied by Christmas music, gorgeous gifts under the tree, and the all the next year's debuts are released. Keeping this list from exploding into a catalog of I want! was difficult, but here's the top debuts I can't wait to get my hands on next year. 

 November 2016

January 2016

January 2016

February 2016

February 2016

March 2016

February 2016

May 2016

Monday, November 30, 2015

My Favorite Jane Austen Inspirational Quotes

Mondays, especially Mondays after holidays, are rough. My favorite thing to do each Monday is to glance through Twitter's #mondaymotivation, get a little inspiration, and start the week with a bang (well, that's the idea, anyway!). 

I collected some of my favorite Jane Austen quotes here. Hopefully they give you that same boost whenever you need it. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Review | The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

Title: The Taming of the Queen
Author: Philippa Gregory {website}
Publication Date: August 2015

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Series: The Tudor Court {Book 4}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover

Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse...

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn's trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry's dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy - the punishment is death by fire and the king's name is on the warrant...

From an author who has described all of Henry's queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power and education at the court of a medieval killer.

I had a mixed reaction to The Taming of the Queen.

Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl was my first foray into historical fiction and into the world of the Tudors, so I'll always be a fan of hers. I've never read much about Kateryn Parr - more, I felt she was lucky to have escaped death from Henry VIII, so her story must not be as interesting.

Faulty logic. 

The good

Gregory's depiction of Henry VIII was horrifying. I never considered how the man who sent two wives to the sword and one to die alone would evolve into this...monster. As the story opens, there was a level of the charm I'd seen in previous historical novels: slightly charming, a bit frightening, and definitely spoiled. After Kateryn's marriage, Henry slowly reveals himself as a man who is determined to get what he wants, no matter who stands in the way. Near the end of the book, I found myself disgusted and terrified.

Whether or not it's accurate, Gregory's depiction of Henry creates an interesting contrast to his wife, his court, and the world around him. The level of denial he presents about, well, everything, is astounding and slightly terrifying.

Kateryn's love for Thomas Seymour, the man she was having an affair with before she became queen, created a high level of tension, and a lovely romantic element that I adored. Her love for Thomas humanized her and set her apart from the rest Henry's wives: while the others may have lost their hearts to other men, Kateryn's determination to keep Thomas safe set her apart. 

The bad

Kateryn wasn't all that interesting once she became queen. She became a foil for Henry's character instead of a force of her own, the story I had initially hoped for. She lived in fear of her husband (but who didn't?), only coming to life when she would dare to question or defy him. I wanted more, more verve, more passion, just more from her. My reading afterwards shows she is a stronger woman than many of us originally knew: I would have loved to see more of that in The Taming of the Queen

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Weekend Reading, Vol. V

Oh, but the weather outside is frightful...


Hey there! How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was nice and quiet - spent it with my close family and watched entirely too much Frasier. We braved the local shopping center for Black Friday yesterday, not for any crazy sales - it was more for our favorite sport: people watching.

There's some fun stories on the Internet this week! Did you miss these?

I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend! 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Review | E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton

Title: E is for Evidence 
Author: Sue Grafton 
Publication Date: 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Series: Kinsey Millhone {Book 5}
Source & Format: Owned; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Being a twice-divorced, happily independent loner has worked like a charm for P.I. Kinsey Millhone—until holiday weekends like this one roll around. What she needs is a little diversion to ward off the blues. She gets her much-needed distraction with a case that places her career on the line. And if that isn't enough to keep her busy, her ex-husband, who walked out on her eight years ago, pops back on the radar...

It all begins with a $5,000 deposit made into Kinsey's bank account. Problem is she's not the one who deposited the money. But when she's accused of being on the take in an industrial arson case, Kinsey realizes someone is framing her…

Now Kinsey's working for herself. But with new evidence—and corpses—surfacing around her, she's going to have to act quickly to clear her name before she loses her career, her reputation—and quite possibly her life…

Kinsey Millhone doesn't like to talk about her past. That is, she only mentions it in passing and as briefly as possible. When odd things start happening and Kinsey is framed for fraud, people from her past step into the future and cause more trouble than she expected. 

E is for Evidence had a great plot: insurance fraud, family drama, and the holiday blues keep the story to Grafton's standards. It's the complications from Kinsey's past that made this book hard to put down. The holidays can be hard, especially when everyone else has plans. When her ex-husband, the famous musician, comes back, Kinsey is yanked even deeper into her own thoughts. For such a private person (only in the previous book does she start sharing info about her past), this sudden and rather intense revelation is fascinating. 

From what I've read so far, Kinsey interacts with the same people. In E is for Evidence, she pushes outside of her comfort zone, reaching out to her old friends from high school. After finishing the book, I don't know if her voyage outside of her safety box will help or harm her... 

The novel had the same rhythm, the same general apttern that I've come to know and love with the Kinsey Millhone novels, but the insurance fraud angle gave the entire plot a new twist. I loved the mystery, the suspense of Kinsey trying to redeem herself and prove who is behind the crimes. E is for Evidence is more personal, upping the tension in the novel and making this one a favorite of mine. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review | The Stock Broker's Clerk by Arthur Conan Doyle

Title: The Stock Broker's Clerk
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle 
Publication Date: 1893
Publisher: Barnes & Noble {this edition}
Series: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes {Book 3}

Source & Format: Owned; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
A young clerk, Hall Pycroft, consults Holmes with his suspicions concerning a company that has offered him a very well-paid job.

What if someone came up to you in the street one day and offered you your dream job? Would you take it?

Most of us would at least consider it, but Doyle goes one step further. He pushes his character, Hall Pycroft, to take the sudden offer, and leave his position to join a new hardware company outside of Lodon. 

As Hall begins his new job, he notices strange things: the beautiful offices he was promised is a dingy suite of rooms with only a chair and a rickety table. He's given busywork at it's best to complete, but no real tasks, and there's something fishy about his boss...

Enter Holmes and Watson. 

"The Stock Broker's Clerk" is definitely one of the better Holmes stories I've read: I got pulled in to Hall's narration as he sets the backstory and the easy flow into the current time period was pulled off without a hitch.

This is among Doyle's darker stories. I didn't expect Hall's boss's actions when confronted by Holmes and Watson at all. He felt volatile, a little scary, and a man on shaky ground. 

A quick, easy read, "The Stock Broker's Clerk" is the perfect example of just what might happen if you take up an offer that seems just too good to be true.