Discount Armageddon (InCryptid Book 1)
by Seanan McGuire
Published by DAW Books
Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...
This is a fun and different urban fantasy novel that is totally justified in having its cover feature the heroine dressed inappropriately for monster-hunting. She knows the clothing is unsuitable, but she doesn't always to get changed in between cocktail waitressing, competitive ballroom dancing and running across rooftops. I loved the various characters she encountered, especially the talking mice who make every event into a religious observance, the telepath living in a penthouse suite she has no intention of paying for and the love interest struggling to reconcile theory with practical realities. I'll definitely be reading the next in the series when I can get hold of it.
The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield
Published by Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Vida Winter, a bestselling yet reclusive novelist, has created many outlandish life histories for herself, all of them invention. Now old and ailing, at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to biographer Margaret Lea - a woman with secrets of her own - is a summons. Vida's tale is one of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family: the beautiful and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline. Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling, but as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction and she doesn't trust Vida's account. As she begins her researches, two parallel stories unfold. Join Margaret as she begins her journey to the truth -- hers, as well as Vida's.
I'd seen the television adaptation recently, so some of the plot twists didn't come as a surprise to me. On the other hand, the book does a much better job with setting up the locations and timings of key events. I'd like to finds more by the author but worry her other books won't live up to the joy of this one. Plus they'd have to be read by Jenny Agutter (as this was) for me to make a proper assessment.
The Pride of the Peacock
by Victoria Holt
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Raised in the shadow of her family's financial ruin, Jessica Clavering has never felt as though she fit in. When her only friend, an elderly neighbor, offers her the chance at a new life, she's eager to take it. His only condition: she must marry her son, Joss.
The newlyweds inherit a fabled opal mine in Australia. It's only once they arrive on the faraway continent that Jessica starts to uncover her family's dark past and her connection to the Green Flash, an exquisite and spellbinding opal. The stone arouses a dangerous desire in anyone who sees it—even her husband.
Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.
White's: The First Three Hundred Years
by Anthony Lejeune
Published by A & C Black Publishers Ltd
This is a history of the only surviving 17th-century London club. The book presents a range of names and anecdotes against a backcloth of social and political history which sets the life of the club and its members in context. The story takes the reader back from the club of today with its television set in the billiard room, past the Homeric quarrels of Randolph Churchill and Evelyn Waugh, past the Battle of Britain pilots being recruited in the bar to the early days of London with its memories of Shakespeare.
A comprehensive, if at times partisan, history of a very small corner of London and the people who inhabited it on a mostly occasional basis. Not as entertaining as the author's guide to the London Clubland as a whole, and with far fewer dramatic photographs, but still well worth a read.
The Piccadilly Plot: Chaloner's Seventh Exploit in Restoration London
by Susanna Gregory
Published by Sphere
Thomas Chaloner is relieved to be summoned back to London. His master, the Earl of Clarendon, has sent him to Tangier to investigate a case of corruption. Chaloner will be glad to be home, to be reunited with his new wife, but the trivial reason for his recall exasperates him - the theft of material from the construction site of Clarendon's embarrassingly sumptuous new house just north of Piccadilly. Within hours of his return, Chaloner considers these thefts even more paltry as he is thrust into extra investigations involving threats of assassination, a stolen corpse and a scheme to frame the Queen for treason. Yet there are connections from them all which thread through the unfinished Clarendon House...
Chaloner really isn't good at domesticity; having married in haste and then been sent abroad, he returns to find his new wife is determinedly upwardly mobile: moving them into a bigger house, hiring more (and more fashionable) servants than he thinks they should need, and dragging him to parties full of her friends rather than his. At least he has another mystery to take his mind off things. Another great romp through Restoration England, this time with the added advantage of inspiring me to visit a couple of local attractions with connections to the story settings.
by Meg Benjamin
Published by Intermix
Love is good for the soul… unless it’s one that you’re trying to exorcise.
Ray Ramos has a problem–the King William District mansion he and his business partner purchased for a fast renovation needs more work than expected. Ray could use a quick infusion of cash. Enter Emma Shea, assistant to Gabrielle DeVere, the star of American Medium. Gabrielle is looking for San Antonio houses to use for her televised séances, and Ray’s fixer upper seems to fit.
When Gabrielle does a sample séance, Ray and Emma become the target of a touchy ghost with no respect for boundaries. After Ray learns his family has a special affinity for ghosts, the two decide to investigate the haunted house. It doesn’t hurt that Emma is immediately attracted to the laconic Ray or that Ray is intrigued by the buttoned-down beauty who seems determined to hide her considerable assets behind sober business suits. But can the two of them fight off a vengeful succubus bound to the house while getting a lot closer than either of them planned?
Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.
The Reluctant Berserker
by Alex Beecroft
Published by Samhain Publishing
Manhood is about more than who’s on top.
Wulfstan, a noble and fearsome Saxon warrior, has spent most of his life hiding the fact that he would love to be cherished by someone stronger than himself. Not some slight, beautiful nobody of a harper who pushes him up against a wall and kisses him.
In the aftermath, Wulfstan isn’t sure what he regrets most—that he only punched the churl in the face, or that he really wanted to give in.
Leofgar is determined to prove he’s as much of a man as any Saxon. But now he’s got a bigger problem than a bloody nose. The lord who’s given him shelter from the killing cold is eyeing him like a wolf eyes a wounded hare.
When Wulfstan accidentally kills a friend who is about to blurt his secret, he flees in panic and meets Leofgar, who is on the run from his lord’s lust. Together, pursued by a mother’s curse, they battle guilt, outlaws, and the powers of the underworld, armed only with music…and love that must overcome murderous shame to survive.
This book was just amazing, and I wish I could have read it straight through without a break. A lovely look at life in a period that doesn't get much attention in the historical romance stakes and even less that feels as historically accurate as this one does. Strong women, the move from old religions to Christianity and lots of other elements all combine to make this well worth rereading. I know the area the story is set in, so I had fun figuring out the modern names for various places mentioned. Definitely one to buy in print as soon as it comes out.