Monday, October 31, 2022

Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu

For my Wild Card Classic category in Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge, I decided to go with Sheridan Le Fanu's Gothic novel Uncle Silas, which was first published in 1864. It's a good example of Victorian sensation fiction, with thrills, chills, drama, secrets, death and danger, and is similar in feel to Wilkie Collins' novels. 

Seventeen-year-old Maud Ruthyn is the narrator and main character. She lives a quiet, pleasant life in the country with her father until his sudden death. She is then sent to live with her mysterious Uncle Silas, who her father named as her guardian, much to everyone's surprise. Silas, who was once accused of murder, is not a well man. He lives a very isolated life, and though he pretends to welcome Maud in, and to want what is best for her, he has many secrets of his own, as well as an unpredictable temper, and she can't help fearing him and his true intentions. 
"You would have fancied that one so young as I, born to wealth so vast, and living a life of such entire seclusion, would have been exempt from care. But you have seen how troubled my life was with fear and anxiety during the residence of Madame de la Rougierre, and now there rested upon my mind a vague and awful anticipation of the trial which my father had announced ... You perceive I had more spirit than courage. I think I had the mental attributes of courage; but then I was but a hysterical girl, and in so far neither more nor less than a coward." 

Though pretty, well-spoken and educated, Maud is at times also weak-willed, fearful, and naive; but then she's also very young. She befriends her rustic cousin, Millicent, but Millie is also afraid of her father. Maud fends off the advances of her other cousin, Dudley, but can't ever seem to stand up to her uncle. And when her former governess, Madame de la Rougierre, reappears on the seem, all hope of happiness seems lost to poor Maud. 

I have to say, even though this novel dragged a bit in the middle and felt a little long, I enjoyed reading it. I was rooting for Maud to find a way to free herself from her unhappy circumstances. And I liked the Gothic atmosphere that Le Fanu creates throughout the book, as well as his lyrical and descriptive prose. Like here: 
"It was late--just that hour when dejected people feel their anxieties most--when the cold grey of twilight has deepened to its darkest shade, and before the cheerful candles are lighted, and the safe quiet of night sets in."
This turned out to be a great October read. There's even a chilling twist at the end. I'm glad I chose this one as my Wild Card Classic novel. And I look forward to trying some of Le Fanu's other novels.

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 28, 2022

In the Pines by Kendra Elliot

 "Three weeks ago a lawyer had posted online a rambling ten-line composition titled 'In the Pines' that supposedly led to a $2 million hidden treasure. The lines had been written by recently deceased millionaire Chester Rollins, and the public had voraciously tackled the mystery, speculating about which words were actual references to the treasure and which were red herrings. This week Truman Daly's tiny Central Oregon town had been swarmed as some of the treasure hunters decided one line was an allusion to the city of Eagle's Nest." 

 A treasure hunt. Lots of crazy treasure hunters. A murder. A missing woman and her 18-month-old daughter. Two precocious kids. Family secrets. Twists and turns. And FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick, her husband, police chief Truman Daly, and their friend Evan Bolton, a sheriff's detective in the neighboring Deschutes County. What more could anyone want in a book?

I love Kendra Elliot's entire series centered around Mercy and Truman, so I was very excited to read this latest book of hers. And it's SO good! The mystery is compelling. There's good pacing and suspense. And the interactions between Mercy and Truman and the two teens they've adopted always make me smile. I was so happy to be back in Eagle's Nest that I finished this one in two days, and then I was sad it was over so fast. If you want to read some really good mysteries with very memorable and likable characters, then check this series out. 

Happy Reading!

Other Kendra Elliot books I've reviewed:

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's theme is a HALLOWEEN FREEBIE. So I decided to go with Books With October in the Title. Mostly because I've already done the other months, and because I was feeling a little lazy. 

Here they are:

October Kiss by Kristen Ethridge

The October List by Jeffery Deaver

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

The October Boys by Adam Millard

October Skies by Alex Scarrow

October Song by Beverly Lewis

October 32 by Larry Rodness

October Light by John Gardner

October's Gone by Sean Platt and David Wright

Mr. October by Bethany Weaver

Happy Reading! 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead

 "Murder as a puzzle."

Dr. Anselm Rees is a famous psychiatrist in 1903s London. He has three patients who are all famous, too, but only Rees knows their secrets. Inspector Flint of Scotland Yard is called in when Rees is found murdered in his study. The real puzzle is that all the windows and doors of Rees' study were locked from the inside. So, how did the murderer get in and back out again? Flint needs a little help with this one, so he calls in Joseph Spector, a retired magician, for his illusionist insights.
"When they'd first met a number of years before, Inspector Flint had viewed Spector with the guardedness he reserved for clever con men. After all, Spector was a famed devotee of the macabre and maintained one of the most comprehensive libraries on both crime and the supernatural. But it was this very 'otherness' surrounding Spector that made him a perfect foil in instances of impossible crime. The useful part about knowing a magician is learning how the tricks are done."

Locked room mysteries are always fun to read, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. In addition to the murder, there's also the theft of a painting to solve, and an interesting array of characters from a successful stage actress, to a writer, to Rees' own daughter, Lidia, and her wealthy fiancée. Spector was my favorite, of course. I loved the way he put the puzzle pieces together over the course of the investigation and then revealed the truth of it all at the end with a true magician's flourish. The narrative style and tone of this novel is very reminiscent of the best Golden Age mysteries, which I also like. All in all, this was a very fun mystery. 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Haiku reviews...


Curse the Day by Annabel Chase

She's a witch?! That's news
to Emma. She's also trapped in the
magical town of Spellbound.

Paranormal cozy mystery .... 281 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I loved Emma and the other supernatural inhabitants of Spellbound; and I can't wait to read the next book in this series.)

Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

To Do list:     
Clean out dad's house   ✓
Finish dissertation    ✓
Don't fall in love with Sam. 

Contemporary romance .... 334 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Humorous and cute. Phoebe's random trivia about serial killers made me laugh, and I loved Sam!)

Be My Ghost by Carol J. Perry

Maureen inherits
Haven House Inn with all its
ghosts .... and a murder.

Mystery .... 274 pges .... 2.5/5 stars.
(Sadly, I did not love this one: the pacing was slow, not a lot happens for a long time--though she does walk her dog a lot--and the ending was rushed.) 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 16, 2022

The Apocalypse Seven by Gene Doucette


From the blurb:  "The whateverpocalypse. That’s what Touré, a twenty-something Cambridge coder, calls it after waking up one morning to find himself seemingly the only person left in the city. Once he finds Robbie and Carol, two equally disoriented Harvard freshmen, he realizes he isn’t alone, but the name sticks: Whateverpocalypse. But it doesn’t explain where everyone went. It doesn’t explain how the city became overgrown with vegetation in the space of a night. Or how wild animals with no fear of humans came to roam the streets.

"Add freakish weather to the mix, swings of temperature that spawn tornadoes one minute and snowstorms the next, and it seems things can’t get much weirder. Yet even as a handful of new survivors appear, life in Cambridge, Massachusetts gets stranger and stranger."

My thoughts:  This book is an entertaining mix of science fiction, mystery, and survival. Doucette's imagining of the end of the world is a unique and unexpected one. He writes well and does a good job of weaving together the narratives of the seven different characters. I liked all of them from Pastor Paul, to Win and her horse, Elton, to Ananda, the MIT astrophysicist. Most of the novel centers around Robbie, Carol, who's blind, Touré, and thirteen-year-old Bethany. These four team up near the beginning of the book and are a fun combination of contrasting personalities. The mystery behind the apocalypse is a little crazy and out-of-this-world, and the ending is definitely a bit mind-bending, but I still enjoyed this one. And I'm curious to see what else Doucette has written. 

Rating:  3.5/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

October's Bookish Art...

Lionel Charles Henley -- A Quiet Half-Hour

We do not read in order to turn great works of fiction into simplistic replicas of our own realities, we read for the pure, sensual, and unadulterated pleasure of reading.
-- Azar Nafisi

Monday, October 10, 2022

A few more non-reviews...

These are both books I really enjoyed, but just feel too lazy to try and write a more formal review for, but they're definitely worth reading... The first is a great suspense/thriller and the second is just a great book.

The Man Burned By Winter is Pete Zacharias's first Rooker Lindstrom mystery. It has the feel of a Nordic Noir thriller, which I loved. Rooker, the son of a notorious serial killer, is a great character:  flawed, hurting, smart, and determined. I liked him a lot. And this mystery? 4/5 stars. 

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbie Waxman. 
I totally loved this bookish gem! It's got heart, lots of humor, delightfully quirky characters, and books!  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  
I gave this one 5 stars. 

And I feel like I need to think of a better name for these short review posts other than 'non-reviews'. Got any suggestions? 

Happy Reading!

P.S. Blogger has now sent two of MY OWN COMMENTS on my own blog to spam now. How crazy is that? So if your comment gets sent to spam, don't feel too bad; I'll find and rescue it as soon as I can.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Got Ghosts?

 "I hadn't come all this way to run from whatever might be haunting this house. Protecting the living against the evil and restless dead, that's my calling, my only real purpose in life. My intuition, unscientific as it was, told me there was something here, something that might be endangering both of them ... and I wasn't going to abandon them."

The Necromancer's Library by J.L. Bryan is the twelfth Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper novel. These books are very fun ghost stories with good scares, lots of humor, a very likable heroine, and some very creepy haunted houses. I love them. 

In this one, Ellie and her ghost-hunting partner, Stacey, have been hired by two sisters to investigate a haunting at an isolated antebellum home in rural Georgia. It's more library than house, with walls of overflowing bookshelves in every room. They once belonged to Professor Marconi and include medieval occult manuscripts along with books on conjuring spirits, contacting ghosts, and raising the dead. Marconi died mysteriously a few months ago. Is he the one haunting the mansion? Or is the spirit something darker and more demonic? Ellie is determined to find out. 

A house full of arcane and esoteric books is the perfect setting for a haunting. And some very scary things take place in this old house. I loved the mystery and suspense. Stacey's boyfriend, Jake, who is a CPA and reluctant psychic, comes for a weekend to help them out with their case; he always makes me laugh. And that ghostly ending? It's a good one! This book is a perfect read for October. But then, any of J.L. Bryan's books are. 

Happy Reading! 

Other J.L. Bryan ghost stories I've reviewed:

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week's theme is supposed to be favorite bookstores, or bookstores you'd love to visit. But I don't really have a favorite bookstore any more. So I went a little rogue and decided to do Favorite Bookshop Books instead. 

Here they are:

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin


The English Bookshop by Janis Wildy

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 1, 2022

It's October!


I love this time of year: the cooler weather, the colorful autumn leaves, pumpkins, even watching scary movies. It's also the time of year that I find myself in the mood for a good ghost story. Or any supernatural, spooky, or suspenseful book really. So, when I was at the library yesterday, here's what I checked out to read this month:

The Gates by John Connolly
Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang
Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead
The Listening House by Mabel Seeley
Dark August by Katie Tallo
The Haunted Air by Paul F. Wilson
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H.P. Mallory
Curse the Day by Annabel Chase

I recently watched this fabulous movie about Marcel Marceau and the French Resistance during WWII: 

It's such a moving story! I didn't even know Marcel Marceau was Jewish. Or that he played a role in saving so many Jewish children. I highly recommend this movie!   

My sister and I started writing a ghost story last month on Kindle Vella and so far we've published the first four episodes.  Are any of you familiar with Kindle Vella? It's a site with serialized stories in every possible genre, and it's a lot of fun. The first three episodes of every Kindle Vella story are free to read. After that you have to buy tokens, but Kindle Vella gives first time users 200 free tokens, and if you want to buy 200 more tokens, it only costs about $1.99. (One token equals about 100 words, so most episodes would be between 10-20 tokens to read.) Anyway...if you want to check out our ghost story, here's the link: Ghosts of Grayhaven. We'll be posting a new episode every week through the end of the year. Plus, there's a dog! Be sure to give us a thumbs up if you like it. 👍

And here's one of my favorite John Atkinson cartoons...a very fitting one for this time of year:

Enjoy...and Happy Reading!