Wait For Me: Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister
by Deborah Devonshire
Published by John Murray Publishers Ltd
Deborah Devonshire is a natural writer with a knack for the telling phrase and for hitting the nail on the head. She tells the story of her upbringing, lovingly and wittily describing her parents (so memorably fictionalised by her sister Nancy); she talks candidly about her brother and sisters, and their politics (while not being at all political herself), finally setting the record straight. Throughout the book she writes brilliantly about the country and her deep attachment to it and those who live and work in it. As Duchess of Devonshire, Debo played an active role in restoring and overseeing the day-to-day running of the family houses and gardens, and in developing commercial enterprises at Chatsworth. She tells poignantly of the deaths of three of her children, as well as her husband's battle with alcohol addiction. Wait For Me is enthralling and a total joy, full of the author's sympathetic wit (which she is not afraid to use on herself).
A fascinating memoir, filled with new details of stories I thought I already knew. Stories of everyday Derbyshire life (for certain values of everyday) are told with the same affection and wit as stories about the major events of the twentieth century. Well worth dipping into again and again.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick
Published by Scholastic US
Orphan, clock keeper, thief: Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. Combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Caldecott Honor artist Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience in this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.
How to properly do justice to this book? It's more than an illustrated novel, in that the pictures fill in parts of the story that the words can't. Or at least they could in a lesser book, but this is a magnificent fantasy. The background to the tale is stunningly well researched and the historical pictures are amazing too.
Silk, Steel and Steam
by Mari Fee, Sahara Kelly, and Tilda Booth
Published by Samhain Publishing Ltd
"History as it could have been. Powered by the heat of desire. Inspired by love..."
Bluebeard's Machine by Mari Fee: When Annette discovers the secret her husband will kill to keep, the only safe place is with the man she once rejected. Isaac knows it would be easier to avoid repeating past mistakes by getting rid of the mysterious woman asking for his help--if she wasn't so irresistible. What she is could kill them both...unless Isaac abandons science for a second chance at love.
Flavia's Flying Corset by Sahara Kelly: Flavia arrives at Dr. Harland Gennaro's castle with no plans to reignite their former passion, but to retrieve what he stole--by "any "means necessary. After convincing her he's not the guilty party, Harland wastes no time testing the last of her new compound, "Icarus." But a thief watches, waiting for the right moment to strike...
Stealing Utopia by Tilda Booth: H. George Wells is leading Britain into a Golden Age--then he's kidnapped by a beautiful, passionate adventuress who despises everything he works for. Jane has reason to fear Utopia. Still, she's irresistibly drawn to George even as the future pushes them apart. She must choose between saving the man she loves...or sacrificing him to the cause.
"Warning: This book contains gadgets, guns, death rays, dirigibles, sexy scientists, mad scientists, wanton murder, identity crises, boiling hot underwater sex and a smoking hot Victorian spy who's as much steam as she is punk. Don't blame us if it makes you want to slip a pistol into your garter and abduct the man of your dreams. Reading this book may stimulate an interest in the principles of physics, aerodynamics and the science of sexual arousal. The authors are not responsible for any injury incurred while investigating all three topics simultaneously."
All three stories promised much but didn't quite deliver what I was looking for. I suspect each of them would have worked better either as a full length novel or without two distinct and complex plots (one romance, the other adventure/mystery). There were also a few anachronisms that couldn't be explained away by the fantastical nature of the genre.
The Poison Tree
by Erin Kelly
Published by Hodder Paperback
I have given up so much and done so many terrible things already for the sake of my family that I can only keep going. I do not know what is going to happen to us. I am frightened, but I feel strong. I have the strength of a woman who has everything to lose. In the sweltering summer of 1997, strait-laced, straight-A student Karen met Biba - a bohemian and impossibly glamorous aspiring actress. She was quickly drawn into Biba's world, and for a while life was one long summer of love. But every summer must end. By the end of theirs, two people were dead - and now Karen's past has come back to haunt her ...
Not so much a who-done-it as a why-done-it and a who-was-it-done-to mystery. A chilling psychological drama that switches rapidly from present to past and back again. The ending is on the one hand inevitable and on the other hand unexpected. One that definitely kept me guessing throughout.