Give me the love: Unappreciated Books

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This week’s them is Underappreciated/Unknown Books, which means it’s my turn to shine! I read a lot of old books and there are plenty that I’m sure you’ve never heard of. Here we go!

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Monsters I Have Known by Jess Hartley. I don’t read a lot of supernatural/ghost stories, but sometimes I like a good creepy tale. I was asked to review this one by the author and I really enjoyed this book. With only 5 other GR reviews, you are all missing out on this one. The first story and one entitled “Material Witness” were my favorites.

The Deadly Side of the Square by Lee Jordan. This one was published back in the 90s, so I’m sure none of you have read it. Sophie Mendel has been through a lot in her time–widowhood, World War, death of a beloved daughter–and she’s not about to give in to life now. When the elderly residents of her decrepit apartment building start leaving–sometimes feet first–she digs in her heels and determines to stay.

But someone is just as determined to make her leave. Once Sophie is gone, the building can be razed and new, expensive developments be built. Only Sophie stands in their way. But Sophie is a lot tougher than they expected, and she’s got friends on her side. Great story with lots of twists.

Stroke of Death by Josephine Bell. An elderly man starved by his caretaker. Or was he? Young physical therapist thinks he needs help and enlist a local doctor, but things are never as simple as they look. The neat twist at the ending made this one stand out for me.

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Women Astronomers: Reaching for the Stars by Mabel Armstrong. This was one of the first books I got for free in exchange for a review, and I still think it’s a great book. It profiles female astronomers through the ages and it’s told in an easy to read format perfect for younger readers. Women in STEM!

Away With Them to Prison (Antony Maitland 43) by Sara Woods. I used to love this English crime series featuring a English barrister who investigates crime. All his clients are innocent, naturally, and he always extracts a confession from the real guilty party in open court. This time it’s a couple of policemen who wind up on trial for corruption.

Death Lurks in the Bush  (Kelly Ryan #3) by Kate Grilley. I got this one at the dollar store. I’ve never read any others in this Caribbean mystery series, but if you like Death in Paradise on the BBC, you’d like this one too.

Goodbye to Poplarhaven by Edward Geary. I read this one because I knew the writer as my college English professor. He was a good, rather reserved teacher, but as a writer he is observant, wry and funny. This is his memoir, an ode to life in small town rural Utah.

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Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

The Facts in the Case of E A Poe by Andrew Sinclair. A man is convinced he is the reincarnation of the great writer Edgar Allan Poe. Is he right? Decide for yourself. This one is on Kindle Unlimited.

Death’s Bright Dart by V C Clinton-Baddeley. I have a lot of these old, out of print murder mysteries on my list. What can I say? I love them. This one has an expert on poisons being mysteriously murdered during a lecture on poisons. This one is the first in the short series.

The Lord Mayor of Death by Marion Babson. The first one I read by this author and still my favorite. Great story of a terrorist threat during a parade, efforts of the police to prevent a panic and spot the bomb, a missing girl, and the mayor who has decided to let the show go on with himself as bait.



It’s a little late in the day, but I hope you’ll find something in here worth reading. I can’t wait to see your lists. Feel free to link them in the comments and I’ll check them out. Happy reading!

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What are you reading? 2/5

Hey readers! I missed posting yesterday so today I’m going to catch up with all of you on what’s what.

My current reads:

Audio:

Still slogging through Grant by Ron Chernow. I have 16 hours left on this baby! I made it through the Civil War and into the presidency, but I need a break. It really is good but no much fun.

So I borrowed A Thousand Beginnings and Endings from the library. It is a collection of short stories inspired by Asian folk tales and myths. Do I like it? Well, let’s just say that one story revolving a dead mom who may or may not have turned into a ghost that haunts her father and inhabits a MMORPG had me standing by the kitchen sink with tears rolling down my face late last night. I can’t even explain it, except to say that something about that story really got to me.

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Print book:

I just went to the library and checked out a fresh stack. I just finished Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry and now I’m reading The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace. It’s good, but not sobbing in the kitchen good.

Ebook:

I’m a little stuck on Where Eagles Date by Alistair MacLean. I like it, but the MC is really an insufferable know-it-all. Still, gotta love stories about beating up Nazis.

What are you reading? Do you like it? Tell me in the comments.

Must Read Graphic Novel!!

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You need this one!

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage – The Mostly True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua

Have you heard of Countess Ada Lovelace, daughter of poet Lord Byron? What about Charles Babbage? You should get to know this pair!

Book description:

THE THRILLING ADVENTURES OF LOVELACE AND BABBAGE . . . in which Sydney Padua transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into a hilarious series of adventures.

Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealized inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar protoprogrammer and daughter of Lord Byron. When Lovelace translated a description of Babbage’s plans for an enormous mechanical calculating machine in 1842, she added annotations three times longer than the original work. Her footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a decade after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines.

But do not despair! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science. Complete with extensive footnotes that rival those penned by Lovelace herself, historical curiosities, and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is wonderfully whimsical, utterly unusual, and, above all, entirely irresistible.

My review:

I completely fell in love with this book! It made me laugh so hard! The stories were great, the illustrations clever. The author adds so much historical data. I can’t pick my favorite story, the one with the Victorian novelists or the Looking Glass episode. If you are a nerd like me, you will love this one.

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I received a copy of this for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Review: The B-Team: The Case of the Angry First Wife by Melodie Campbell

Synopsis:

Del’s great-aunt, Kitty, has retired from a life of crime and embarked on a new venture, the B-Team. Although Del works at an animal shelter by day, by night she, her great-aunt and their cohorts, Dino and Ritz, use their criminal skills to right wrongs. In this fun book, the modern-day Robin Hoods set out to return a necklace to its rightful owner but along the way discover they’ve been duped by an imposter who also wants to get her hands on the necklace. The problem is, criminals can’t go to the police, even if they are on the side of the good. Del comes up with a new plan, and the B-Team saves the day. Not without a few detours along the way. 

Review:

Del and her brother Dino have grown up in and around the family business. What that business is exactly is never spelled out, but it’s not strictly legal, judging by their skill set. Lately their aunt Kitty has decided to use their talents to help in the cause of justice, which is not to say it’s legal, and agrees to take on a case recovering a ex-wife’s diamond necklace. Things do not go as planned.

Del is an appealing character and I liked Aunt Kitty. The rest are sort of just outlines, but this book is extremely brief, little more than a short story. I would have enjoyed it more if three or four of these exploits were gathered together. As it is, it was a quick fun read that made me smile, but nothing deeper than that. Thanks for the chance to read this one.

Mini Reviews!

I’ve been reading a lot lately but I haven’t been able to keep up the reviews on here. I thought I would do some short reviews and bundle a bunch of them together so you can see what I’ve been up to.

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Murder among friends

The Accident by Linwood Barclay centers around a man whose wife dies in a drunk driving accident. He can’t believe that she would have gotten behind the wheel in that state, but her death starts him asking questions that trigger a rash of violence all around him. I really like this writer – what a page turner!

Short stories

I found The Man Who Would Be King at the thrift store for a dollar. I love Rudyard Kipling, so this little collection of 5 of his best stories was just what I needed. If you can find such a collection (and I think some of them are free on Kindle) this is a great place to start. I loved Kim and Jungle Stories too.

Nonfiction Audio

After finishing my book for book club, I was looking for another good book to listen to from my library. I decided on Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. It’s the first book I’ve read by her and I enjoyed it. This one is about the history of Hawaii, a state with such a rich and interesting heritage that I feel she barely scratched the surface. She has a rather annoying voice though, so I think I’d read it instead of listen.

Other News

We did have to say goodbye to Tina and it was just as heartbreaking as we thought it would be. She was feisty right up to the last, but went right off to sleep in the end. It sort of broke my heart today to come home to all the signs she left around the house, to be cooking dinner and not have her under foot demanding her fair share. We still have Rosie, but to go from 3 cats to one in just eight months is such a shock. We had Tina for 15 years and Spooky for 12. It’s not easy to say goodbye.

 

Review – A Man of Means

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Title: A Man of Means

Author: P G Wodehouse

Setting: Mostly New York, about 1920s or so

Synopsis: A collection of six short stories about hapless young Roland Bleke who finds that coming into money doesn’t solve all his troubles after all.

Review: I was looking for something light and fun after I finished The Words of Radiance – review to come – and found this story lurking on my Kindle. Wodehouse books are always light and generally quite fun, so I decided to read this next.

It’s a very old-fashioned story but one that is still funny. Roland is sort of a wimpy chap who accidentally gets engaged to his landlady’s daughter. Rather than straighten things out, he manages to postpone the wedding until he gets a larger salary. Then he comes into money, and the wedding back on. He has to find a way to break it off without causing drama.

Things get silly after this, but always a lot of fun. Roland just can’t stay out of trouble. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next, but it made me smile. Not his best book, but it was a good way to spend an hour or so. Recommended for those who like light humor, and it’s free on the Kindle.

 

Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life

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Title: Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

A somewhat funny collection of short stories about Dahl’s time living in the English country side and some friendships he made there. If you only know him from his children’s books, like Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, then you’re in for a shock. The first story is about a cow he owned that needed to be serviced by a bull. Quite funny, but definitely not for kids! The last story about pheasant poaching was the funniest.

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Top 10 Tuesday – Sherlock Holmes

I’m kind of struggling with my blog this month. I’m so focused on NaNoWriMo and writing my book that I don’t have much brain left for anything else! But lists are always fun, so I decided to come up with some list today, and since I’m reading a Sherlock Holmes book right now I thought I would create a list of my 10 favorite stories about Sherlock Holmes.

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  1. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Always start with the original. There are problems here, that’s for sure. Doyle didn’t do rewrites so there were plenty of errors that didn’t get fixed. When it comes to creating an iconic character, though, Doyle got it exactly right.
  2. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. The only retelling that created an original character who can stand up to Holmes and Watson. Mary Russell makes the perfect transition from the Victorian world into the modern. I love the whole series, but start from the beginning.
  3. The House of Silk by Antony Horowitz. He sticks close to the original but comes up with a new story. Great job.
  4. The Seven Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer. Amazing twist on the whole Moriarty thing. Confronts one of the most troubling aspects of Holmes’s story.
  5. The West End Horror by Nicholas Meyer and —
  6. Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye. Both of these take advantage of the fact that Holmes worked during the time when Jack the Ripper was operating.
  7. The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer. This kid’s book is not so much about Sherlock Holmes as about his younger sister, invented cleverly here by the author. Very fun series.
  8. Sherlock Holmes through Time and Space, edited by Isaac Asimov. There are so many short stories that revolve around Holmes that it’s hard to pick one. But I *loved* the idea behind this one. Why limit such a great character to Victorian England? Even to Earth. Holmes as a robot, Holmes in space – why not!
  9. Moriarty by Antony Horowitz – I already reviewed this one here. Amazing. Amazing! You have to read this one. Listen to this one instead of reading it.
  10. A Three Pipe Problem by Julian Symons. This one takes on an actor who plays Holmes. He starts having a few problems with telling reality from the role.

Hope this list has given you Sherlock Holmes fans some ideas for further reading. If you’re not a fan already, I’d say start with the short stories. They are lots of fun.

Currently reading

I’ve been so focused on my writing that I haven’t been reading much this month. But I do have my current books I want to tell you about!

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This one is a true crime story called Goat Castle. It’s about the murder of an heiress in Mississippi. I got it from Net Galley and it sounds really good; however, I haven’t gotten far enough into it to tell for sure. Here’s the description though:

In 1932, the city of Natchez, Mississippi, reckoned with an unexpected influx of journalists and tourists as the lurid story of a local murder was splashed across headlines nationwide. Two eccentrics, Richard Dana and Octavia Dockery–known in the press as the -Wild Man- and the -Goat Woman—enlisted an African American man named George Pearls to rob their reclusive neighbor, Jennie Merrill, at her estate. During the attempted robbery, Merrill was shot and killed. The crime drew national coverage when it came to light that Dana and Dockery, the alleged murderers, shared their huge, decaying antebellum mansion with their goats and other livestock, which prompted journalists to call the estate – Goat Castle.

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The second book I’m reading is by an author I first found through book club. If you follow my blog you know I’m not always a fan of our book club picks, but we read The All Girl’s Filling Stations Reunion by Fannie Flagg and it was so much fun. This one is called Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven and it is set in the fictional town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri and I’m loving it. I’m about 1/3 of the way in. It was one of my thrift store finds this month and I’m glad I picked it up. These are great books for when you’re in the mood for a light, funny read. They’d be a lot of fun on audio too.

Combining southern warmth with unabashed emotion and side-splitting hilarity, Fannie Flagg takes readers back to Elmwood Springs, Missouri, where the most unlikely and surprising experiences of a high-spirited octogenarian inspire a town to ponder the age-old question: Why are we here?

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Which brings me to my last book, The Execution of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a collection of five Holmes-inspired short stories. The first one has Holmes kidnapped and awaiting his execution on “crimes” against a criminal gang. Basically it was a locked room escape story, and I really liked it. I didn’t like the second story about cracking some code – boring to listen to – but the rest have been good. I’m listening to this one in the car and it’s been very interesting.

 

 

That’s what I’m reading. I have a few I need to get to soon, including looking through MY book club pick, Daughter of a Pirate King. What are you reading? Are you liking it? Let me know!

Monsters I Have Known: Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

35534791 Title: Monsters I Have Known: A Collection of Short Stories

Author: Jess Hartley

Genre: paranormal, thriller, and horror short stories

Synopsis:

Come take a walk in the shadows alongside award-winning writer/editor/novelist, Jess Hartley, as she leads you through 13 intriguing tales of monstrous beings – supernatural or otherwise. In this, Hartley’s first solo anthology, readers will find a broad offering of genres – horror, romance, steampunk, fantasy and more – including her never-before-published murder mystery novella – Love Never Dies. Monsters I Have Known collects both well-loved favorites from previously published anthologies and never-before-seen fiction, presenting them with insightful introductions to share with readers some of the circumstances surrounding each story’s creation. A must-have introduction for those new to Hartley’s work.

My review:

Wow, what a great collection of stories. I’m not normally a fan of horror, but I love a good spooky ghost story. When I was approached to review this book, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I’m glad I took a chance.

It’s hard to pick which story I liked best, but the first one, Love Never Dies, was the longest. In this one, the main character finds herself walking up the beach to her house. Nothing feels right, but it’s only her and her husband. What could be wrong?

My favorite story was Immaterial Witness. Liz gives tours in Bisbee, Arizona, the most haunted town in America. She gets a chance to be on a podcast, but the slimy host has plans of his own. He wants all the dirt, but Liz has a big secret. She can see ghosts, and she’s not about to expose them to a third-rate journalist looking to exploit the dead. Really good story.

This month is a perfect time for this collection. You should totally check this one out. It’s available on Amazon.