Archive for October, 2012

RIP Wrap Up

I think I did well this year.. I read 10 books ! (and one of those books was nearly 800 pgs!)


1. Nine Coaches Waiting……….Mary Stewart (352.pgs)

2. What the Dead Know…………Laura Lippman 376.pgs)

3. Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil..John Berendt (416.pgs)

4. An Unpardonable Crime………Andrew Taylor (485.pgs)

5. Drood…………………….Dan Simmons (778.pgs)

6. The Haunted  Hotel…………Wilkie Collins (129.pgs)

7. The Anatomy of Ghosts………Andrew Taylor (412.pgs)

8. Manna From Hades…………..Carola Dunn (320.pgs)

9. Blacklands………………..Belinda Bauer (240.pgs)

10.Sherlock Holmes:Army of Dr MoreauGuy Adams (284.pgs)

(3,792 pgs)

My favorite of the ten books  is Drood by DanSimmons.  It was the second time I read the book and I have to say it was as good the second time as the first! Although the book is fiction there is much that is true and by the time you finish reading this book you feel like you know a whole lot more about Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. (and indeed you will!)

The book I liked least (but I didn’t “dislike” any) is Manna From Hades by Carola Dunn. The only reason I have to say I disliked it is that I didn’t feel like I knew the characters well and didn’t really feel as if I was in Cornwall.

The most intense book was Blacklands by Belinds Bauer.  This book you got to know the characters well and you really felt like you were in the mind of a serial killer.  I’m betting the author had bad dreams while she wrote that book!… and I’m not sure I would especially want to visit Exmoor after reading this book!

Andrew Taylor was a new author for me. Of the two books I read by him I liked An Unpardonable Crime best.

As always I totally enjoyed RIP…and I hope Carl continues to host it for a long time to come!

Read Full Post »


(book 10 for RIP)

Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau by Guy Adams.

Publisher: Titan Books (UK) (August 7, 2012)


Book Description

Publication Date:August 7, 2012

Following the trail of several corpses seemingly killed by wild animals, Holmes and Watson stumble upon the experiments of Doctor Moreau.
Moreau, through vivisection and crude genetic engineering is creating animal hybrids, determined to prove the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin. In his laboratory, hidden among the opium dens of Rotherhithe, Moreau is building an army of ‘beast men’. Tired of having his work ignored — or reviled — by the British scientific community, Moreau is willing to make the world pay attention using his creatures as a force to gain control of the government.
A brand-new adventure for Conan Doyle’s intrepid sleuth!

Hmmmm, ok well I sent for this book because of RIP and it actually was a fairly good read for it!

Some descriptions of “dead folk” found in the Thames was pretty gruesome and mentions of Dr Moreau’s work with mixing humans and animals is not the prettiest picture one could conjure up!

At first I thought that maybe this wasn’t my brightest move, on my part, to get a Sherlock Holmes book not done by Doyle… but then again Nicholas Meyer wrote 3 Sherlock books that were excellent, so why not someone else?

I think this was an enjoyable read.  It’s hard to let go of the original author if every word doesn’t seem to correspond with how it’s “creator” meant it to be..but then again.. do we really know what it’s meant to be??

So if you tend to like Sherlock and Watson…

And you know the basic story of Dr Moreau..

I think you will enjoy this book.

This is a quick read.  Short chapters. and just enough of “what next?” to keep you reading…


Read Full Post »



(book 9 for RIP)

Black-lands by Belinda Bauer.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster(January 11, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1439149453


Book Description

EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO, Billy Peters disappeared. Everyone in town believes Billy was murdered—after all, serial killer Arnold Avery later admitted killing six other children and burying them on the same desolate moor that surrounds their small English village. Only Billy’s mother is convinced he is alive. She still stands lonely guard at the front window of her home, waiting for her son to return, while her remaining family fragments around her.

But her twelve-year-old grandson Steven is determined to heal the cracks that gape between his nan, his mother, his brother, and himself. Steven desperately wants to bring his family closure, and if that means personally finding his uncle’s corpse, he’ll do it.

Spending his spare time digging holes all over the moor in the hope of turning up a body is a long shot, but at least it gives his life purpose.

Then at school, when the lesson turns to letter writing, Steven has a flash of inspiration . . . Careful to hide his identity, he secretly pens a letter to Avery in jail asking for help in finding the body of "W.P."—William "Billy" Peters.

So begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.

Just as Steven tries to use Avery to pinpoint the gravesite, so Avery misdirects and teases his mysterious correspondent in order to relive his heinous crimes. And when Avery finally realizes that the letters he’s receiving are from a twelve-year-old boy, suddenly his life has purpose too.

Although his is far more dangerous . . .

Blacklands is a taut and chillingly brilliant debut that signals the arrival of a bright new voice in psychological suspense.

wow!…  talk about a psychological thriller! 

Talk about getting into a child’s mind. 

Talk about getting into a killers mind!

Talk about a lot packed into a small book!

Childhood sorrows.  Bullying. and a Serial Murder.   You can’t pack much more into a short book than that.  So if you like getting into the head of the main characters and you enjoy solving problems… you will like this book. 

Add to that that most of the story takes place on Exmoor and some on Dartmoor.. and you have yourself a story even Sherlock Holmes would be proud of.

The Amazon review pretty much lays out the book but even knowing all of that this is a book that will get into your head until it’s over.

This is book 9 for RIP and I think it’s the most intense book I’ve read in a long time.

Read Full Post »

Manna From Hades

Manna From Hades by Carola Dunn.


(book 8 for RIP)

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books;(October 16, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1250014751


Book Description

Eleanor Trewynn, recently widowed, returns home from years of working overseas to retire to the cozy village of Port Maybn in Cornwall, England. Even in retirement though, she continues her charity work, leasing out the first floor of her house to a charity shop. One morning as she opens the shop, she finds both a particularly valuable donation and a corpse stuffed into the storeroom. The donation is linked to a violent robbery in London but the corpse looks nothing like the robbers being sought by the police. With the help of her niece, Detective Sergeant Megan Pencarrow, and, begrudgingly, Detective Inspector Scumble, Eleanor is determined to unscramble this confounding case of daring theft, double cross, and murder most foul.

The murder/ mystery surrounding Eleanor Trewynn started off slow but half way through it picked up considerably and got much more interesting.

I am afraid I felt a little disappointed though.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, and it could be because of the last book I was coming off of (at times that effects the next book I pick up).  But I didn’t feel as if I was in Cornwall, and I didn’t feel that I knew the characters well enough.  I say that because most of the book is dialogue and although I tend to enjoy that, it’s not as good when you don’t feel you know the characters well.

So… I would  have liked to know them better.

Considering that… the mystery itself was flushed out nicely.   I am more the mystery person then I am a “murder lets find the person who did it”.  I like more stuff behind why things happen.. finding out the secrets as it were.

But this was a nice quick read, something that would go well when you don’t want to have anything too heavy on your mind once you set it down.

I felt I was just getting to know the main characters when the book ended so I wouldn’t mind another mystery using the same characters… maybe I’ll check that out one day. (yeah and maybe my tbr pile will mysteriously get smaller… yeahrightsure!)

Read Full Post »

New & Used

I get so many used books that it’s now unusual for me to get “new” books… but I like Kate Morton and so I had to get her new book and bought the Sherlock book which was on my wish list and gave me enough so I didn’t have to pay shipping.



I don’t think to photo all the used books that I get (generally one at a time) but here are a few .. one from amazon, 2 from Friends of the Library (1.00 each) and I found the Bryson book at a thrift shop.

And I wonder why I never get my tbr pile down! 


(The old du Mauier book has Frenchman’s Creek in it but the print isn’t the best so I hope I can read it!  I’ve been looking for Frenchman’s Creek for a while now.)

Read Full Post »


(book 7 for RIP)

The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Hyperion (January 25, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1401302874


Book Description

1786, Jerusalem College, Cambridge
The ghost of Sylvia Whichcote is rumored to be haunting Jerusalem ever since student Frank Oldershaw claimed to have seen the dead woman prowling the grounds and was locked up because of his violent reaction to these disturbed visions.
Desperate to salvage her son’s reputation, Lady Anne Oldershaw employs John Holdsworth, author of The Anatomy of Ghosts–a stinging account of why ghosts are mere delusion–to investigate. But his arrival in Cambridge disrupts an uneasy status quo as he glimpses a world of privilege and abuse, where the sinister Holy Ghost Club governs life at Jerusalem more effectively than the Master, Dr. Carbury, ever could.
And when Holdsworth finds himself haunted–not only by the ghost of his dead wife, Maria, but also by Elinor, the very-much-alive Master’s wife–his fate is sealed. He must find Sylvia’s murderer, or else the hauntings will continue. And not one of this troubled group will leave the claustrophobic confines of Jerusalem unchanged.

This is my second book by Andrew Taylor, and although this book was fine, I found the first one, An Unpardonable Crime, more to my liking.   And yet I have a third book by Andrew Taylor waiting in the wings, but I think I will break from him and read something else first.

This book related a great deal about college life back in 1786, along with a mystery of a young man who has gone insane, and a murder.  It has quite a number of things to follow, but in the end, they all come together (as well they should!).

The book description is accurate and tells enough for one to determine if you would be interested in reading it or not.  I believe the reason I liked Unpardonable Crime better was that much of the book was written around the college and it’s goings on and for whatever reason that didn’t hold a charm for me.  However, I have to admit that Taylor made a number of very interesting characters and that alone had me reading each time I sat down.  I sometimes think that when modern day writers write things from the 17 an18 hundreds that they feel obligated to make characters as well defined as  Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins did…. and that’s probably wise of them!

I think if others like early England mysteries this one would fit the bill.  It was refreshing not to be in the London underground for a while :o)     But I know I’ll be back Britain as much as I can with my gothic mysteries!

Read Full Post »

Haunted Hotel

 The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins.


(book 6 for RIP)

Paperback: 168 pages
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (June 1, 2004)
ISBN-10: 1419165488


Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 – 23 September 1889) will never be as well known as one of his friends, a fellow writer named Charles Dickens. But Collins was an established playwright and author in his own right. Collins and Dickens collaborated frequently, but Wilkie also produced hundreds of his own works, ranging from novels to literary articles and short stories, including The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale and No Name.

A beautiful tale of super-natural that amalgamates mystery and adventure. It professes that evil will finally be punished with evil. With a lot of twists and turns, ups and downs, this is one of the most amazing tales. A psychological thriller with tight narrative, ghostly terror and persistent action, this is a masterpiece by Collins.

After reading Drood, I had to read something by Wilkie Collins in hopes he really wasn’t quite the person that Dan Simmons made him out to be ! (enter: spooky music)

This short book is a mystery more then a haunting. 

Wilkie’s writing is so precise that you never have a problem seeing everything he writes! I don’t want to give away to much because it is just a short novella (so not a lot of reading.. )although in those 168 pages the printing is so small that with my bad eyes each chapter (short though they were) could have been one long running word! lol

As in other Victorian mysteries there is “the woman’s place” in the scheme of things, and the righteous men that surround them.  This is also a love story…. and a murder.

Wilkie Collins packed quite a bit into this small but excellent book!

Read Full Post »



(Book 5  for RIP)

Drood by Dan Simmons.

Paperback: 800 pages (paperback version)
Publisher: Back Bay Books; (February 8, 2010)
ISBN-10: 031600703X


Book Description

On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens–at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world–hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.
Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?
Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens’s life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens’s friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author’s last years and may provide the key to Dickens’s final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, DROOD is Dan Simmons at his powerful best.


My first reading of Drood was a few years ago, and  it was read for RIP. (I even amazed myself by rereading a book of nearly 800 pages!)(the link is to my first review)

When I first read this book I knew one thing.. I loved it!  The book somehow perked my interest in Wilkie Collins (who was telling the story) and of course in Charles Dickens.  If you knew me when I was young you would be positive I would not be a person to read Collins or Dickens or many other classics!  But here I am, old and more than late for the game, and I sit reading books about them both (both fiction and real) and then reading books they wrote!

Drood is a marvel of a book!  It’s narrated by Wilkie Collins, and is to be about he and his close friend Charles Dickens during the last few years of Dickens life and how Dickens came about to be writing a book called, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which Dickens never finished before he died.

One knows before they begin to read that this book is pure fiction… but maybe the word “pure” should not be used.  Most  all (but not all) of the characters in the book, Wilkie’s family and Dickens family, were all real people.   The mention of many books the two men wrote and plays that they wrote and put on were, again, all real.  There is so much reality in the book that many times you have to stop and say, “ok.. this is NOT true!”

The book is written sooooo well, that one tends to forget that it’s a fiction story.  I know many others have read some of Dan Simmons books and may feel similar about other books …but it you have any interest at all in Wilkie Collins or Charles Dickens or England in the 1800’s or finding the *life under the streets with the Opium dens * or if you just plain like gothic mysteries…  Then don’t let the size of this book deter you!  You will enjoy the book very much!

I have to admit the book left me with some questions.. but mostly just personal questions about Wilkie and Charles.  I’ve read a very large biography on Charles Dickens which surprisingly enough I found very interesting.  But there is little written about Wilkie Collins. A few smaller books but nothing as well written as Biographies on Dickens.

If you have this book sitting in your tbr pile… you might want to push it closer to the top of the pile! 

Drood sits on top, along side of The Thirteenth Tale, as a most favorite book to read, most especially during the month of October when gothic mysteries are a favorite genre to read.

Read Full Post »

Pickwick Club

Today I went to the Friends of the Library, where books are always on sale and from time to time a real *gem* of a book appears.

The photo’s below is one of those Gems….


At first glance the book doesn’t seem worth the 65.00 price they want for it.

But it is a Charles Dickens book.

It’ is rather large. (8×10)

and it is filled with wonderful Illustrations by Cecil Aldin.  Both color plates and black and white drawings at the top of each new chapter… have a look below.










Fabulous, just fabulous!  I love this book so much I went back the day after I saw it and asked permission to take these photo’s of the book.

I will admit many pages inside have small pieces of edge  paper missing  and I found a whole page torn because it was not cut at the outside edge.  Add to that the fact that I do  have a hardback copy of this book (as yet unread)…. but the color plates are outstanding!

The lady at the desk talked to me a bit and I told her I loved the book, but I didn’t have the money for such a book.  I mean really.. it’s not like it’s a first edition! (if it were it would be a lot more money!!) and I don’t collect books for first editions or any reason other than to read them or enjoy their art inside. (I do have some Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo art books among others)

The lady kindly said to me, “well, keep an eye on the book.  If it doesn’t sell in a few weeks they well cut the price in half”.  I told her I’d keep an eye on it but I do think someone will take this nearly shattered book for the art work within it’s dirty cover.

I just made myself smile.  “dirty cover”.. on a book written by Charles Dickens, when most of his books take place around old London where most of his characters were always dirty with grim…. it seems almost appropriate.

I hope the book sticks around :o)… who knows where it may wind up?!

Read Full Post »