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Rick Kitchen

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Watched an interesting old movie on TCM awhile back -- About Mrs. Leslie, about a single woman who kept a boarding house in Beverly Hills.  Unanswered questions from the movie led me to the book, written by Vina Del Mar.  Good old-fashioned writing, character development, captivating story -- so that led me to more by Ms. Del Mar.  The Big Family, about the Slidell family of Louisiana; The Laughing Stranger, a "bad" woman's effect on a family; The Becker Scandal, partly auto-biographical, about the real-life killing of a crooked cop in NYC in the early 1900's; The Marcaboth Women, a day in the life of a matriarch and her family, after a son marries a loose woman,  I'll be getting more by Del Mar, but she's out of print, so it's taking awhile to run everything down.

The thing about movies based on novels -- especially movies from the 40's and 50's -- is that you needed the book to get the whole story.  The movies shied away from what society considered "seedy", illicit.  Sometimes that meant the movie didn't make sense, but the book is there if you want to find out what the characters did and why they did it. 

Currently re-reading The Silence of the Lambs, and just finished the new one by Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys.  Highly recommended, could have been longer. 

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I just finished Moon Dance, the first book in J.R. Rain's Vampire for Hire series. I won't be reading the second. It so clearly wants to be The Dresden Files with a female lead, but forgot all about the wit and fun. I mean, you have an unhappily married mother-of-two vampire PI, hired by a sexy (obviously) werewolf defense attorney to investigate his attempted murder, while also being stalked by a professional vampire hunter and struggling with her bloodlust. I don't know how you make all of that bland, but this author managed it. Not one character in this book has anything approaching a personality.

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1 hour ago, Melgaypet said:

I just finished Moon Dance, the first book in J.R. Rain's Vampire for Hire series. I won't be reading the second. It so clearly wants to be The Dresden Files with a female lead, but forgot all about the wit and fun. I mean, you have an unhappily married mother-of-two vampire PI, hired by a sexy (obviously) werewolf defense attorney to investigate his attempted murder, while also being stalked by a professional vampire hunter and struggling with her bloodlust. I don't know how you make all of that bland, but this author managed it. Not one character in this book has anything approaching a personality.

I read this book years ago & actually liked it. It was supposed to be a trilogy, or 5 books, or something small, but I guess the author decided to milk it (he also publishes the books), & he made some story changes in order to continue it which were so stupid IMO, that I stopped reading the series.

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On 7/27/2019 at 9:52 PM, isalicat said:

Anyone out there into English modern detective/mysteries? I have read the entire Deborah Crombie series as well as the Elizabeth George (Lynley novels - my favorite) and am up for further recommendations. Thanks!

I recommend Jane Casey's DC Maeve Kerrigan series and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles' Bill Slider series.  I really enjoy both those.  Also Val McDermid.  As well, I second the recommendations for Kate Atkinson and Peter Robinson.

Currently reading - Kate Atkinson's  Big Sky and my nonfiction nightstand book (always have one going - try to read 20 to 25 pages each night) is A Good American Family by David Maraniss about his blacklisted father. 

I recently finished the third and final volume of Nigel Hamilton's books on FDR as commander in chief during WWII.  The last book was all about how ill Roosevelt was for the last year of his life, so much so that it was almost a relief when on the last page, he died.  Spoiler alert for anyone who doesn't know FDR died in office!  All I could think was how at last that tired man was able to rest.  

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On 7/27/2019 at 10:52 PM, isalicat said:

Anyone out there into English modern detective/mysteries? I have read the entire Deborah Crombie series as well as the Elizabeth George (Lynley novels - my favorite) and am up for further recommendations. Thanks!

Christopher Fowler - The Bryant and May series

Nikki French - The Freida Klein series

Alan Bradley - The Flavia DeLuce series

and if you’re into supernatural, The Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch

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I just finished The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne.  It was one of the Amazon Prime first reads, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Thank you so much everyone for your recommendations of modern English detective/mystery series! I am reading Peter Robinson from the very beginning and there are lots and lots in his series so that is a good thing!

Another big thank you for whomever mentioned the book "The Atrocity Archives" upthread - I also like sci fi and weirdness (huge fan of Neil Gaiman) so this book is perfect for me (I'm 2/3 way through and enjoying it tremendously).

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19 hours ago, Crs97 said:

I just finished The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne.  It was one of the Amazon Prime first reads, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Oh good. I think that's the one I picked. I'm so behind on my Prime First Reads I can't remember. Which one I left off on. 

I've been reading A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny. A friend gave it to me several years ago and it's been sitting on my shelf (it's a real book, I mostly read Kindle now because of the light and ability to adjust the size of the font, real books tend to hurt my eyes these days lol) but I just moved and have been without my Kindle for a few days. 

It is a very strange and interesting story told by a dog. I'm about half way through and kind of know what is going on, but it's a good mix of giving you some info to work with but not enough to fully figure out what is happening but I'm pretty sure a bunch of literary horror figures are involved though none are actually named outright. 

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I haven't seen anyone list Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (Miss Ali). It was a very quick read--great dialogue. I'm a fan of books where everything wraps up in everyone's favor, and this one fit the ticket. 

I also just finished Buttermilk Graffiti, by Edward Lee, which was amazing. It includes recipes, developed from his travels around the US, and at least a good quarter of them appeal to me, which is a great ratio for me. 

And Working by Robert Caro was a delight. Maybe I should pick up The Power Broker again--I just wish it was on the Kindle. 

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I too enjoyed Working but I wish Caro would finish the final LBJ volume.  I have 2 friends who also read Caro and our fear is that he (now in his 80s) will be unable to finish it.  We worry it will be another William Manchester situation.   

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I decided to read books by some of the leading candidates to get to know them better.  I read Kamala Harris's book The Truths We Hold pretty quickly then picked up Elizabeth Warren's This Fight is Our Fight.  I'm only half through it and am so depressed I need a palate cleanser, something cheerful.  And I haven't even gotten to the chapter about climate change yet.

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3 hours ago, Haleth said:

I decided to read books by some of the leading candidates to get to know them better.  I read Kamala Harris's book The Truths We Hold pretty quickly then picked up Elizabeth Warren's This Fight is Our Fight.  I'm only half through it and am so depressed I need a palate cleanser, something cheerful.  And I haven't even gotten to the chapter about climate change yet.

I recommend reading A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren, I read it in June or July and really enjoyed it.

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Finally getting to Ask Again, Yes.  So far I am really enjoying it, but I have only just gotten started.

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Just got done with Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the 80s Changed Hollywoof Forever. Thoughts:

  • I miss John Belushi.
  • John Candy was too good for this world.
  • I love Bill Murray, but he's a strange egg. 
  • Rick Moranis was too good a man for Hollywood.
  • Eddie Murphy is a jerk. He's funny, but he's a jerk.
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33 minutes ago, Spartan Girl said:

Just got done with Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the 80s Changed Hollywoof Forever. Thoughts:

  • I miss John Belushi.
  • John Candy was too good for this world.
  • I love Bill Murray, but he's a strange egg. 
  • Rick Moranis was too good a man for Hollywood.
  • Eddie Murphy is a jerk. He's funny, but he's a jerk.

I love TV and movie books. I just reserved that at the library. 

I've been reading entertainment books by James Robert Parrish and Alan Royle. AR has more gossip stuff. I've been reading the Awkward books by JB Heller and the Badge Bunny Booze books by Quinn Glasneck. If you like humor or Stephanie Plum books, you might like these. Another set of funny books  is about a group of girlfriends finding different guys by Kimberly Fox. 

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I started reading Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter. I loved the Jane Yellowrock books so much but I just could not get beyond the first couple of chapters. For one thing, the print is so small, it was making my eyes hurt. And then there is just too much talk about how the girt is in constant danger of being kidnapped and ravished. I can live without all that. It's going back to the library today. and I'm picking up Mortal Engines.

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1 hour ago, AngelKitty said:

and I'm picking up Mortal Engines.

oops, it was the movie. I forgot I also ordered the movie. The book I picked up was Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi.

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5 hours ago, AngelKitty said:

I started reading Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter. I loved the Jane Yellowrock books so much but I just could not get beyond the first couple of chapters. For one thing, the print is so small, it was making my eyes hurt. And then there is just too much talk about how the girt is in constant danger of being kidnapped and ravished. I can live without all that. It's going back to the library today. 

I love Jane Yellowrock too, but I do read the Soulwood series too, & it's nowhere near as good. It also got real strange a couple of books ago when

Spoiler

Nell turns into a plant person

I'm still reading, but I don't love them.

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I just finished the first book in the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber - The Anatomist’s Wife.  Very enjoyable, even if I solved the murder earlier than I think she probably hoped.

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I find that series interesting, although it starts to go a bit off the rails, as lots of series’ do in the most recent book.

Spoiler

If I had to read about Lady Darby being pregnant one more time...

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On 8/20/2019 at 11:06 AM, AngelKitty said:

oops, it was the movie. I forgot I also ordered the movie. The book I picked up was Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi.

Love John Scalzi! The Lock In series is really good, and just finished the second book in the Interdependency series which is also really, really good. Old Man’s War is good...heck, it’s all good 🙂

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Reading The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, which is a feminist retelling of the Hindu epic the Ramayana. It's perfect for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

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I just finished The Night Olivia Fell.  I didn’t like it at all.  

Spoiler

And I’m tired of reading books about teenage girls who decide they can’t have an abortion.   In this book it was both the mom and the daughter and in the last book I read it was a fifteen year old.

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Just finished: The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda. I enjoyed it for the most part--was surprised by the ending and generally happy with how things wrapped up. My main criticisms:

  • A huge theme of the book is that the main character, Avery, is supposed to be caught between two worlds (that of the locals of Littleport, and that of the much wealthier vacationers there) and belong to neither, but I never felt that really came across all that authentically. Everything that alienated Avery from the other locals was of her own doing, not a product of her becoming closer with the renters. I think in general things could have been fleshed out by adding some more small-town personalities to the mix, instead of just hearing secondhand the things people said about Avery behind her back.
  • A lot of the plot revolves around different rental properties in the town, and they all have cutesy little names (as rental properties are wont to do). Unfortunately, I could never keep the property names and what had happened in them straight, which made things confusing.
  • What was the point of the red herring with Sadie 
Spoiler

having Avery do one of those DNA kits? Was she trying to prove that her father was Avery's father? Or that Avery's father was Sadie's father? That Avery was really a Loman that had been given up for adoption to the Greers? It went nowhere, had nothing to do to the actual resolution of the plot, and was completely unclear.

  • Miranda spent way too little time on the character of Faith 
Spoiler

given her importance to the plot. We don't spend any time with her and only know things about her from Avery's recollections, and they don't tell us much.

Next up: Someone We Know by Shari Lapena.

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Up thread I mentioned I was reading books by current politicians and I needed something to cheer me out of my depression, so I picked up The Final Hours by Minette Walters, about the black plague.  LOL  It's a novel very reminiscent of Pillars of the Earth, set in the 14thc and with a plucky woman and modern thinking serf as the protagonists.  It is very entertaining and I'm awaiting the sequel which my library has on order.

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Two I recently finished:

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin Craig. YA fantasy, a retelling of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses" fairy tale. This was creepier than I had anticipated, bordering on horror. Pretty good, though. Solid characters, great creepy atmosphere and good romance.

The Birthday Girl by Melissa De La Cruz. Straight-up boring. You can rag on whatever twisty thriller novel for doing this or that, but the one thing I can't forgive a book for is being boring. The twist was fairly predictable. The characters were shallow and flat. And the ending was rushed, which actually I was thankful for because I was skimming just to finish it.

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 I just finished the first book in the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber - The Anatomist’s Wife.  Very enjoyable, even if I solved the murder earlier than I think she probably hoped.

So I read the second one (Mortal Arts) and won’t try a third.  Wow, was it not enjoyable.  Lady Darby quickly becomes annoying;  she is so wishy-washy!  And Gage is beyond irritating.  I’m not sure what she sees in him.  So, yeah, I’m done.

BTW, loved Ask Again, Yes!  I wish we

Spoiler

had gotten Lena’s perspective at any point, especially considering she never wanted to move to the suburbs to begin with

, but such a minor quibble for a fascinating read!

Now starting Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts.

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On 8/17/2019 at 2:56 PM, isalicat said:

Thank you so much everyone for your recommendations of modern English detective/mystery series! I am reading Peter Robinson from the very beginning and there are lots and lots in his series so that is a good thing!

Throwing my recommendation for Magpie Murders by Andrew Horowitz.  If you start it, it seems like a cozy mystery at first, but there's an enormous twist that happens at about the 1/3 point.

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I finally read a few days ago The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson author of one of my favorite books I'll Give You The Sun. What a wonderful writer, I wish she wrote more, her books are just captivating. TSIE has a romance in it but it's more about grief and how Lennie handles her grief over her sister's death. Both of these books are considered YA books. These days I'm more of a fan of YA books than any others, there are so many good ones out there now.

I read one yesterday called Like A Love Story. I don't remember if I saw it here in this thread or on a facebook group I'm in. Anyway, it's a YA that is set 1989 and it deals with three teens, two gay boys and one girl figuring things out against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis. The story is really vivid and I could see it making a great movie. The girl Judy has an uncle with AIDS and he has written notecards about things important to him that he gives to one of the boys. Some of them are in the book but honestly I'd read another book that was just the stuff on the notecards.

Next up is Slayer which is set in the BtVS world. I hope it's good, I quit reading the comics because I didn't care for where the story was going so I'm not sure if this book is canon with the show but it looks like a good read.

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14 hours ago, GaT said:

I am just starting The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware.

I'm dying to read that book. It's in my cart just waiting for me to hit the button. I am currently reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters who used to be one of my fav authors but I am about to give up on it. God, it just drags on and on seemingly going nowhere.

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I'm reading Guy Gavriel Kay's Lord of Emperors.  Kay is my favorite writer.  His way with words is unparalleled.  I just read a passage about a chariot race that ended with me in tears.

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30 minutes ago, peacheslatour said:

I'm dying to read that book. It's in my cart just waiting for me to hit the button. I am currently reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters who used to be one of my fav authors but I am about to give up on it. God, it just drags on and on seemingly going nowhere.

There's an awful lot of background in the beginning, & I was getting bored. I finally reached the point (I hope) where things should pick up.

EDITED: I went to Amazon & checked out the 1 star (6%) reviews, & now I'm worried about the rest of the book. The things people mentioned that they didn't like, are pretty much what I'm not liking, & I've got a lot of book still to go.

Edited by GaT
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5 hours ago, Silver Raven said:

I'm reading Guy Gavriel Kay's Lord of Emperors.  Kay is my favorite writer.  His way with words is unparalleled.  I just read a passage about a chariot race that ended with me in tears.

The only thing I've read of Kay is the Fionavar Tapestry, which I loved. is this also fantasy?

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2 hours ago, Constant Viewer said:

The only thing I've read of Kay is the Fionavar Tapestry, which I loved. is this also fantasy?

Somewhat.  It exists in a not-quite-Byzantine Empire, with non-Catholic, non-Orthodox, non-Jewish and non-Islamic religions.

My favorite Kay book is Tigana.  I sobbed through the whole thing.

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Kay does this thing in a lot of his books where he'll take some real life historical period and rework it in an alt-universe fantasy setting.  The Lions of Al-Rassan, for instance,  is based on Medieval Moorish Spain with a lot of conflict between Kindath(Jews), Asharites (Muslims) and Jaddites (Christians) and a major character that seems an awful like El-Cid.

Tigana is heartbreaking and brilliant, imo,  and had one of my favorite book antagonists.  Kay is great at creating strongly fascinating (even somewhat tragic) antagonists.

One of my favorite Kay books is A Song For Arbonne which is set largely in a fantasy cognate of Medieval/Renaissance Italy or France and features another Kay trope -- the brilliant artist type.  Another thing Kay does really, really well is create a stunning central character (or two) who is brimful of personality and charisma.   He often features an excellent bromance and his female characters are pretty dope.

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I am reading a biography of Queen Isabella by Kirstin Downey and holy crap, every fact she learned during the research is included in the book including how many donkeys were present during Rodrigo Borgia’s papal investiture parade and the mystery of Christopher Columbus’ ship logs/diaries. Isabella wasn’t present when the Borgia pope took the miter and certainly didn’t sail across the Atlantic. 

I enjoy history and detail, but it just seems to go on an on.

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On 8/28/2019 at 12:43 PM, BlackberryJam said:

I am reading a biography of Queen Isabella by Kirstin Downey and holy crap, every fact she learned during the research is included in the book including how many donkeys were present during Rodrigo Borgia’s papal investiture parade and the mystery of Christopher Columbus’ ship logs/diaries. Isabella wasn’t present when the Borgia pope took the miter and certainly didn’t sail across the Atlantic. 

I enjoy history and detail, but it just seems to go on an on.

Replying to myself because it's been a day, but I gave up on this book. There is a definite pro-Christian bias, but I could move past that to learn some facts. I was listening to the audiobook and noticed I was hearing all about the history of the papal elections just prior to Alexander VI...and thought I'd accidentally skipped backwards because we had been over that already, but NO, the exact same stuff for the second time.

I skipped ahead and slogged through some more until it was all about how Machiavelli was a fool for using Cesare Borgia as a model for The Prince when he was being schooled by Isabella. It went further downhill from there.

It's unfortunate because after finishing Robert K. Massie's excellent book on Catherine the Great, I was really looking forward to another really good book about a strong female monarch. This wasn't it and I feel burned out about that area and period of history, which should have been fascinating considering the ongoing wars between the Jews, Muslims and Christians and the Inquisition (which, according to Downey, totally wasn't as horrible as people would think, wasn't at ALL Isabella's fault, and totally didn't kill a lot of people.)

Does anyone have a recommendation for a solid historical biography (audiobook if possible) that isn't going to make me want to bang my head into a wall? I keep looking for something on Marie Theresa, Princess of Austria and Holy Roman Empress.

Edited by BlackberryJam · Reason: Wrong pope designation.
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1 hour ago, peacheslatour said:

I only have recommendations for Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette. Oh, and Anne Boleyn.

Those are well-covered ground, but thank you.

Libby is telling me Susan Isaac’s After All These Years is on my shelf. So that will be next up.

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I'm almost through Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh, and I swear so much of it could have been lifted straight out of my own childhood growing up poor white in the '80s and '90s in flyover country as the middle and working classes began to collapse.  There's a weird framing device of addressing some of it to the unborn child the teenage Smarsh managed to avoid the family cycle of having, but this is the book that the much overpraised Hillbilly Elegy seemingly aspired to be in honestly acknowledging all the different levels of dysfunction and cascading issues that poverty and near poverty bring without treating "the poors" as zoo animals to be gawked at or blamed entirely for their shortcomings.

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I signed up for Master Class and have watched a few of Neil Gaiman's creative writing lessons. I had heard of him and never read him, so I bought "Fragile Things", a collection of his short stories. I am about halfway through the book now. Can I just say, I don't think I like him. He's considered a "fantasy" writer, and that's not really my thing, but I don't think that's why. I think most of the stories I've read are confusing and without much point, and sadly-I find the majority of them to be empty and soulless. I don't know why. It's just that when I read, I read to feel something, and maybe to think about what I've read-and most of these stories are not doing that for me.

But wait. The very first story in the book, I just read yesterday, because I skip around like that. And I LOVED IT. The publisher obviously felt it was one of the best, giving it that place of honor. It is called "A Study in Emerald". Yes, it's a play on "A Study in Scarlet". It is a blend of Sherlock pastiche, fantasy, and a blend of horror (some characters H.P. Lovecraft created are a crucial part of the story). It has also been done as a graphic novel by Dark Horse comics and would make an awesome movie or tv show. I think Dark Horse thinks so as well, they first published it in 2006 and then re-released it last year.

I won't spoiler everything, but I will spoiler one main point that is I guess, the "twist ending:"

Spoiler

The "narrator" is not Watson, as you might first believe, but rather, Sebastian Moran. And, his "friend and companion", his consulting detective, is not Sherlock Holmes, but James Moriarty. Sherlock and John are in it, of course, but they are the "villains", because they are the murderers. But the "people" they are trying to murder are not people at all, and it's implied that even though roles are reversed, Sherlock and Holmes are still fighting on the side of good.  There are hints dropped throughout the story, but the true identities of everyone is not revealed until the end.  Moran and Moriarity believe themselves to be on the sides of the angels, when in fact they are unknowingly on the side of characters who wish to destroy humanity.

I can't recommend the entire book of short stories, but this story is a must read if you like Sherlock Holmes or fantasy type stories. It can be read for free online at various places, and even earned a mention in TV Tropes under literature. 

One other big spoiler, one that both freaked me out and made me smile :

Spoiler

Queen Victoria, and in fact most of royalty, are basically a race of aliens who conquered humanity centuries ago. With greenish blood, hence the "emerald" part of the title.

No Mycroft Holmes, though. BOO. I would so watch this as a movie, in a heartbeat.

Edited by IWantCandy71
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13 hours ago, BlackberryJam said:

Does anyone have a recommendation for a solid historical biography (audiobook if possible) that isn't going to make me want to bang my head into a wall? I keep looking for something on Marie Theresa, Princess of Austria and Holy Roman Empress.

I don't know about audiobook availability but Tigresss of Forli about Caterina Sforza, Blood Sisters is a group biography of the women of the Wars of the Roses, Warrior Queens is about reigning women who waged war throughout history, and Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary is about the daughter of the last Maharajah of Punjab so it's not set so far in the past like Victorian through first half of 20th century but still good.

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I'm reading Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews, the latest book in the Hidden Legacy series. I'm about 80 pages in & enjoying it.

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4 hours ago, GaT said:

I'm reading Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews, the latest book in the Hidden Legacy series. I'm about 80 pages in & enjoying it.

It is excellent.  Love the direction the series is taking.

I am also reading an Ilona Andrews book, Sweep of the Blade, It is so good.  I just love their brand of bad ass protagonists.  Sometimes I feel like they write just for me.

Also just finished G.A. Aiken's The Blacksmith Queen.  This author always does strong female friendship.  And her family dynamics (both natural and found family) are always interesting.  This book is no different.

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21 hours ago, BlackberryJam said:

Replying to myself because it's been a day, but I gave up on this book. There is a definite pro-Christian bias, but I could move past that to learn some facts. I was listening to the audiobook and noticed I was hearing all about the history of the papal elections just prior to Alexander VI...and thought I'd accidentally skipped backwards because we had been over that already, but NO, the exact same stuff for the second time.

I skipped ahead and slogged through some more until it was all about how Machiavelli was a fool for using Cesare Borgia as a model for The Prince when he was being schooled by Isabella. It went further downhill from there.

It's unfortunate because after finishing Robert K. Massie's excellent book on Catherine the Great, I was really looking forward to another really good book about a strong female monarch. This wasn't it and I feel burned out about that area and period of history, which should have been fascinating considering the ongoing wars between the Jews, Muslims and Christians and the Inquisition (which, according to Downey, totally wasn't as horrible as people would think, wasn't at ALL Isabella's fault, and totally didn't kill a lot of people.)

Does anyone have a recommendation for a solid historical biography (audiobook if possible) that isn't going to make me want to bang my head into a wall? I keep looking for something on Marie Theresa, Princess of Austria and Holy Roman Empress.

I read your review with interest because I also like biographies about strong women rulers.  Too bad this one didn't hold your interest.  I just checked my library and the only Isabella bio they have is by Allison Weir.  Her biographies of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Elizabeth Tudor were interesting so I think I'll pick it up.

MeloraH, I agree about Blood Sisters.  Very good.  Oh, those mothers all pushing for their sons to be king!

Edited by Haleth
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