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5 On My TBR: Halloween

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Halloween. I chose books from my physical shelf that spoke of monsters and hauntings. The books are arranged based on the date that they were added to my TBR. If you are interested in participating you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1 – Ill Will

From GoodReads: Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.


#2 – A Monster Calls

From GoodReads: An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd – whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself – Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.


#3 – My Favorite Thing is Monsters

From GoodReads: Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge. Full-color illustrations throughout.


#4 – Unbury Carol

From GoodReads: Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.


#5 – The Year of the Witching

From GoodReads: The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation . . .

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy.

The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol and lead a life of submission, devotion and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement.

But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds Bethel – a place where the first prophet once pursued and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realises the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her . . .


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? To whom would you recommend them?

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Spell the Month in Books

Spell the Month in Books is a fun challenge created by Jana @ Reviews from the Stacks. The idea is to spell the month using the first letter from books you plan to read during that month. When I saw it on Susan’s page I decided I would jump in on the fun but as October is nearly over I decided to instead highlight books from another challenge I am participating in called 52 Weeks of Women of Color.

O is for One Night in Georgia

“Set in the summer of 1968, (One Night in Georgia) a provocative and devastating novel of individual lives caught in the grips of violent history—a timely and poignant story that reverberates with the power of Alice Walker’s Meridian and Ntozake Shange’s Betsey Browne.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

C is for Conjure Women

Conjure Women is a magical debut that vividly captures America after the Civil War. A compulsive read, it emphasizes the importance of community, the resilience of women and knowing your power.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

T is for The Talking Drum

The Talking Drum examines gentrification and its impact on the black community was what drew me to this book. With the beating of the drums as an undercurrent throughout the book, Braxton reminds the reader of our connection to the ancestors and spirituality. That rhythm is our collective heartbeat. It symbolizes that all within the diaspora are of one blood despite our divisiveness.

The take home message from The Talking Drum was about community and of people holding steadfast in their convictions and weathering the storm together.

Check out my interview with Lisa Braxton here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

O is for The Other Americans

The Other Americans is a multilayered novel. It is all at once a family saga, a mystery, social commentary and a love story. Told from the perspectives of the victim, his immigrant family, neighbors and police, The Other Americans not only provides a clear lens for racial and class tensions, but also allows insight into the burdens our protectors carry. Although the book description focuses on the hit and run accident that claimed the life of patriarch Driss Guerraroui, at the forefront of this novel is love: self-love and acceptance, the love between a parent and child, sacrifice and romantic love. Not a syrupy sweet fairy tale romance, but a soul stirring love with real people, real issues and real emotion.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

B is for Banned Book Club

Banned Book Club is a graphic novel set during South Korea’s Fifth Republic. One aspect of the book that I liked was that it shows throughout history how books and art were used as a form of protest. The author not only declares books as political, but goes further to address the reasons why those in power censor books. The reason is not just because of possible messages of dissent, but rather that they can see themselves as the villains of these novels. Their fear that others may recognize this is what drives them to ban books. They want to control their image, to control the political narrative.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

E is for Empire of Wild

Dimaline’s Empire of Wild is a love story. It is about family, tradition, the gift of our elders. It is also a social commentary on the dispossessed, on capitalism and the perverting of religion for financial gain. The horror of this story is not the Rogarou, but big business and their manipulation of legal loopholes to trample on indigenous people and the land.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

R is for The Revisioners

The Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships—powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between a mother and a child, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Check out my GoodReads page to see my full reviews and more suggestions of diverse reads!

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Throwback Thursday #1

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.


I have to admit that it was kind of fun going through my old reviews and visiting some of the books I enjoyed in the past. It was tough to pick one so I let GoodReads list sort it out for me. Sarah Winman’s Tin Man was a gem of a book. I hope you get the chance to read it. You can find the following review and more on my GoodReads page.

My Review

Although I read this short novel in just one sitting it has taken me some time to come to grips with how I feel. The blurb on the back of this book states:
“This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that.”
I feel this sums up Sarah Winman’s Tin Man accurately. There is certainly nothing simple about how this book moves you. And I am not sure that any words I put to paper can accurately capture its essence. Tin Man is about first and lasting loves. It is about friendships that endure. It is about grief. Tin Man is a story rendered with beautiful prose that manages as novelist Matt Haig so astutely observed, to “break your heart and warm it all at once”. 

Throwback Pic

I’ll leave you with this throwback image of Madonna taken by Herb Ritts in 1990.

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon !

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WWW Wednesdays

Hello and Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Set back 100 years in time – 1920s Georgia – this world feels eerily like the world that we are in now. The historical references embedded into the novel provide a framework that makes it seem more realistic. The world building was so carefully crafted and the imagery so intense that I was immediately sucked into the book. I did not put it down until I was finished. I really appreciated P. Djeli Clark’s nod to the Gullah tradition as that is part of my family history. Especially since the women were so loyal and exuded such power and wisdom. Watching them come together and slay these demons was so exhilarating. I literally shed both tears of joy and sadness.

My full review of Ring Shout can be found on my GoodReads page.


What I am Reading

What would you do if you were offered 10 million dollars to walk away from your life for a year?

There is no need to worry about explaining yourself to family and friends as a clone will be living life in your place. In this sci-fi thriller, Jane Gilmartin has us look at the moral implications of human cloning.


I snatched this edition of The Autobiography of Malcolm X up as soon as I saw that Laurence Fishburne was narrating. Although this is a reread for me I am picking up so much more this second time around. As an adult I am seeing things quite differently and am more critical in my analysis of the work. I am hoping to gain a fresh perspective before reading my next book The Dead Are Arising which also follows the life of Malcolm X.


What I Will Read Next

Les Payne, the renowned Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly thirty-year-long quest to interview anyone he could find who had actually known Malcolm X. He died before he achieved that mission. Picking up the mantle of what would be her father’s opus Tamara Payne completed the biography. Where this volume fits in the annals of time and how it speaks to Malcolm X’s legacy has yet to be determined. But I am certainly looking forward to reading this work and excited by all of the starred reviews it has received.

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Teaser Tuesdays

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

The book I am featuring today is The Mirror Man by Jane Gilmartin.

  • Science Fiction/Thriller
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Available October 20th 2020 by MIRA

Synopsis

Meet Jeremiah Adams. There are two of him.

The offer is too tempting: be part of a scientific breakthrough, step out of his life for a year, and be paid hugely for it. When ViGen Pharmaceuticals asks Jeremiah to be part of an illegal cloning experiment, he sees it as a break from an existence he feels disconnected from. No one will know he’s been replaced—not the son who ignores him, not his increasingly distant wife—since a revolutionary drug called Meld can transfer his consciousness and memories to his copy.

From a luxurious apartment, he watches the clone navigate his day-to-day life. But soon Jeremiah discovers that examining himself from an outsider’s perspective isn’t what he thought it would be, and he watches in horror as “his” life spirals out of control. ViGen needs the experiment to succeed—they won’t call it off, and are prepared to remove any obstacle. With his family in danger, Jeremiah needs to finally find the courage to face himself head-on.

The Teaser

“Maybe it’s better to never know how the world sees you. Maybe no one should see themselves like that.”

How do you feel about human cloning? Do you find the prospect thrilling or horrifying?

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Blog Tour: Foreshadow

fore·shad·ow
/fôrˈSHadō/
verb
to predict something or to give a hint of what is to come.

Foreshadow was originally an online literary project that featured new and emerging authors from marginalized groups. Each of their stories is introduced here by some of the most highly recognized and beloved voices in YA today. Following each tale is a brief glimpse into the writer’s mind:

  • What myths are incorporated into their stories and why?
  • Why the story is narrated in first person or second person voice and how does this change how the audience views the characters?
  • The importance of humor in driving the story.

At the end of each tale editors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma add their analysis. This look into the writing process and how it informs the writing style is eye-opening and adds another depth of understanding to the work. Foreshadow goes further to include writing prompts for the audience based on some of the stories.

This anthology had a vast array of genres and facets of life. Overall Foreshadow was clever and magical and uplifting. I personally found it refreshing to see girls and women given so much freedom to be who they are and exercise their power and gifts. I can see and would hope that high school teachers would include this book as part of their curriculum. I hope that the authors and editors realize their goal of “foreshadowing” where the landscape of YA fiction is going. We certainly need more of these new voices and their stories.


Meet the Editors

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us, which was an Edgar Award finalist. She also wrote Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone and is co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and teaches writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania. Originally from the Hudson Valley, she spent most of her adult life in New York City and now lives in Philadelphia.

Emily X.R. Pan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Astonishing Color of After, which won the APALA Honor Award and the Walter Honor Award, received six starred reviews, was an LA Times Book Prize finalist, and was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit Emily online at exrpan.com, and find her on Twitter and Instagram: @exrpan.

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Blog Tour: Confessions on the 7:45

Synopsis

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Unger returns with her best novel yet. Reminiscent of the classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a riveting psychological thriller that begins with a chance encounter on a commuter train and shows why you should never, ever make conversation with strangers.

Be careful who you tell your darkest secrets…

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a stunning web of lies and deceit, and a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives.


Review

“Sometimes a stranger was the safest place in your life.”  

And sometimes there is danger lurking in the unknown.  


When working mom Selena confides her suspicions with a stranger on the train she feels a momentary release from the burden of her secret.  Oddly, she feels a connection to this woman even though she she doesn’t quite understand why.  Her brief meeting leaves her feeling uneasy especially after the woman starts texting her.  But Selena has bigger problems to deal with.  Her nanny has gone missing and the police are asking questions.  Questions that if answered truthfully could put her and her husband in hot water.


The twists in Confessions on the 7:45 come early and hit hard.  For a moment you are both intrigued and unsettled.  You may not yet have a clue as to where the novel is headed, but you are certainly anxious to find out.  Loosely based on Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Confessions reminds us how much of our lives are on display for the world to see and how this technology may be used against us. 


In Confessions on the 7:45 Unger delves into those liminal spaces where things are neither black or white.  People are not all good or all bad.


The found family trope takes on new meaning when you have a psychopath at its center.  For each character Unger shows how they were shaped by their childhood experiences.  Family secrets are not just burdens for those who hold them; their price can be meted out upon the heads of those kept in the dark.

Adding to this mystery are the layers of metaphor Lisa Unger weaves into her writing.  People are like pine seedlings on a forest floor.  They appear to be refuse, litter to be consumed by fire. But instead that pressure and heat is the spark they need to blossom and flourish and start on their path in life.  This sentiment is repeated with the myth of the phoenix rising out of the ashes to fly unburdened into the sky.

Confessions on the 7:45 is my third Lisa Unger book. I find her work to be intelligently written with much thought given to the development of her characters. Readers are pulled in to the stories because her characters are relatable. They can be you or me or someone we know. Their past lives are given enough attention that you understand what makes them tick.

The plot is full of twists and turns and plenty of salacious details. I was riveted to my seat all day long.

Highly recommended for thriller and mystery fans.


Meet the Author

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 (Oct. 2020). With millions of readers worldwide and books published in twenty-six languages, Unger is widely regarded as a master of suspense. Her critically acclaimed books have been voted “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today showGood Morning AmericaEntertainment WeeklyAmazonIndieBound and others. Her essays have appeared in The New York TimesWall Street JournalNPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.


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Series Saturdays: Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries Blog Tour

Who is Myrtle Hardcastle?

Our Myrtle does not fit into the mold that English society believes is becoming of a little lady. She is precocious and asks a lot of questions. With an interest in both her late mother’s science background and her father’s legal background, Myrtle has what some feel is a morbid curiosity with death and murder. This passion for forensics however makes Myrtle one hell of a sleuth. The problem is that at 12 years old none of the adults in her life, save for her governess Miss Judson, bother to listen to her.


Book 1: Premeditated Myrtle

When her next-door neighbor, a wealthy spinster and eccentric breeder of rare flowers, dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle seizes her chance. With her unflappable governess, Miss Ada Judson, by her side, Myrtle takes it upon herself to prove Miss Wodehouse was murdered and find the killer, even if nobody else believes her — not even her father, the town prosecutor.

Book 2: How to Get Away With Myrtle

This second book in the series finds Myrtle Hardcastle and her beloved Miss Judson on a train ride along the English countryside. It’s supposed to be a relaxing holiday. Perhaps one that Myrtle was dreading because she would be under the watchful eye of her stern Aunt Helen. But not before long Myrtle finds herself thrust into another mystery. A priceless tiara is stolen and one of the passengers is murdered — with her Aunt Helen’s sewing shears! Our plucky young protagonist must race against time to prove her aunt is innocent. But can she get the local authorities to listen to her?


My Thoughts on the Series

I was excited to read these books because I grew up reading Nancy Drew. I was hoping that I could find a series featuring a strong female character that my daughter could be inspired by. Like Nancy Drew, Myrtle Hardcastle is quite the detective. But Myrtle has more obstacles to overcome. Her mother is deceased having succumbed to a disease. As the local prosecutor, her father’s job demands much of his time. Living in the late 19th century England she is expected to be a charming little lady honing her domestic skills. Because she is younger any pleas that she may have to discuss a case are often thwarted.

As I read the series I couldn’t help but be reminded of Harper Lee’s Scout. Both of these characters defied convention. Both have special relationships with their fathers where they know and love their daughter’s differences, even if at times their natures get them into trouble.

The Myrtle Hardcastle series is cleverly formatted. Myrtle is not just the narrator, but the writer of the story often taking time to address her dear readers personally. Throughout both books Bunce treats us to footnotes that serve as cute anecdotes and tidbits of trivia. Many of the chapters in this series also begin with blurbs from Myrtle’s books that sets the stage for that chapter. I feel that this format will make the Myrtle Hardcastle series more appealing to its target audience – middle grade readers. But I do feel that this cozy mystery series has something for adults too. Besides good characterization and an engaging style of writing each novel deals with issues of feminism and racial representation. The mysteries in and of themselves are craftily devised and have enough meat to sustain an adult’s attention.


Mom’s Verdict

I enjoyed the Myrtle Hardcastle series a lot but at 8 years old my daughter may not be quite ready for this series. I would say that 12 may be the ideal age to introduce her Myrtle Hardcastle. But I look forward to when that time comes and hope that my daughter is as excited to read about this plucky heroine’s adventures as I was. In the meantime she’ll have to settle on relishing eating the famous Stansberry pie from Premeditated Myrtle.


Meet the Author

From the Elizabeth Bunce’s website: “I am a fan of all things fantastical, mysterious, spooky, and old. I write historical fantasy, mysteries, and ghost stories for young readers, and discerning not-so-young readers. My books are inspired by real places and cultures of the past, often with otherworldly or magical elements.”

“I’m a native Midwesterner, living in the tall grass prairie near Kansas City with my husband and our feline supervisory staff. When I’m not writing, you’ll usually find me Making something—cosplay, needlework, historical costuming, quilting… but not cooking.”

From Goodreads: “Her first novel, A Curse Dark as Gold, won the inaugural William C. Morris Award for a young adult debut novel and was named a Smithsonian Notable Book. Her high fantasy Thief Errant series includes the novels StarCrossed, A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best book for 2010, and Liar’s Moon, one of Kirkus Blog’s Favorite YA Novels of 2011. StarCrossed and A Curse Dark as Gold have appeared on Oprah’s Kid’s Reading List. Her novels have been named to the ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and she is a three-time Kansas Notable Book winner. An accomplished needlewoman and historical costumer, Elizabeth lives in the Midwest with her husband, her cats, and a boggart who steals books.”

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Series Saturday: Lucas Page

Who is Lucas Page?

Lucas Page is a retired FBI agent. During his tenure he survived a horrific blast that claimed his eye, an arm and a leg. He struggles with PTSD and suffers flashbacks from the incident. Understandably, he is a bit of a curmudgeon and does not warm up to people easily. Yet he has a heart of gold, which is evident by his opening up his heart and home to several adopted children. Having been a foster child himself family means everything to him. To say that Page has a brilliant mind would be an understatement. By day he works as an astrophysicist and university professor. By night he solves crimes no one else can.


Why Do We Like Him?

I just loved Page’s wry sense of humor. His dry wit kept me laughing even though instances where people had died in the book. His relationship with Whittaker was a special one. They seemed to understand what the other one was thinking without having to say anything.

Page is an overcomer. We are given enough details to know that he had a hard childhood but we see him giving back rather than dwelling on the past. He pushes through his flashbacks and his pain. He never makes excuses. Instead he searches for a means to work around his problems. Page has an uncanny, perhaps supernatural, ability to see patterns amidst chaos. His analytical mind can map out a space in seconds and quickly recreate crime scenes.

Book 1: City of Windows

During the worst blizzard in memory, an FBI agent in a moving SUV in New York City is killed by a nearly impossible sniper shot. Unable to pinpoint where the shot came from, as the storm rapidly wipes out evidence, the agent-in-charge Brett Kehoe turns to the one man who might be able to help them–former FBI agent Lucas Page.

Book 2: Under Pressure

On a beautiful October evening, New York City’s iconic Guggenheim Museum is closed for a tech company’s private gala. Until an explosion rocks the night, instantly killing 702 people, including every single attendee—yet the damage to the building itself was minimal.

An explosion of that precision was no accident and, in response, the FBI mobilizes its entire team — but the sheer number of victims strains their resources. Were all 702 victims in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was there only one target and 701 unlucky bystanders? With too many victims and no known motive, the FBI turns once again to Dr. Lucas Page.


My Thoughts on the Series

This series was brought to my attention by Joseph Bresnan from Minotaur books. I enjoyed both books in this series and would recommend them to fans of Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X series. I appreciated Pobi’s representation of a disabled character and how he showed readers his challenges but also allowed us to see his talents. Throughout the books there were several extremely clever plot twists and as a woman in STEM I liked how he incorporated the science and technology.


Meet the Author

I found Lucas Page to be such a curious character I really had to find out more about the man who created him. Pobi seems to be quite a recluse and likes to have a bit of mystery surrounding him:

From Pobi’s author page: “He lives in the country, but spends most of the summer and fall months at his cabin on a lost lake in the mountains. He does not have telephone, internet, or television at the cabin; if he needs to check email, he has to drive eight miles to a tiny town hall for the free wifi at the picnic table inhabited by a gang of octogenarian chain smokers. When the cold starts chewing on the trees, he heads to a place he has on the beach, where his nearest neighbor—a retired cop who shares the same first name—makes the best whiskey sour he has ever tasted.” 

He writes at a desk that once belonged to Roberto ‘God’s Banker’ Calvi, and has (or definitely doesn’t have) a small collection of shrunken human heads (known as tsantsas in anthropological and collector circles) that continually weird out his housekeeper. He owns too many fountain pens and is constantly making notes in old-school Mead marble composition books.”

From Goodreads: “ROBERT POBI has fished for great whites off Montauk, chased coyotes with a dune buggy in the Mojave, and spelunked caves in the former Yugoslavia. He is a renowned expert in English period furniture and makes a mean coq au vin.”

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Blog Tour: The Orphan of Cemetery Hill

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Synopsis

The dead won’t bother you if you don’t give them permission.

Boston, 1844.


Tabby has a peculiar gift: she can communicate with the recently departed. It makes her special, but it also makes her dangerous.

As an orphaned child, she fled with her sister, Alice, from their charlatan aunt Bellefonte, who wanted only to exploit Tabby’s gift so she could profit from the recent craze for seances.

Now a young woman and tragically separated from Alice, Tabby works with her adopted father, Eli, the kind caretaker of a large Boston cemetery. When a series of macabre grave robberies begins to plague the city, Tabby is ensnared in a deadly plot by the perpetrators, known only as the “Resurrection Men.”

In the end, Tabby’s gift will either save both her and the cemetery—or bring about her own destruction.


My Thoughts

The Orphan of Cemetery Hill is my first Hester Fox novel. I found her writing to be very atmospheric. I was easily transported back in time. Tabby’s character resonated with me. I was scared for the child abandoned and happy for the girl who found a home. She was resilient and despite the trauma she endured she still was a compassionate and loving person. Despite the fact that I usually gravitate towards kick a$$ females I could appreciate the fact that Hester Fox’s characterization of Tabby as a “little woman waiting to be rescued by her knight in shining armor” was true to the way women in that era were treated. I still don’t like Caleb though and was a bit skeptical about his professions of love. But I digress.

Overall, The Orphan of Cemetery Hill was an enjoyable and engaging read. I was taken in by the mystery and loved that the book was loaded with history. I also enjoyed how Hester Fox handled both Tabby’s and Alice’s supernatural gifts. It was just the right amount of the paranormal: enough to keep me intrigued and not too much where the story would be unbelievable. Definitely picking up Hester Fox to read again.

Historical Perspective

The Orphan of Cemetery Hill takes place in Boston before the abolition of slavery and the establishment of equal women’s rights. Set in 1844, many slaves had escaped to the North for freedom but did not have much protection under the law. The Seneca Falls Convention has yet to happen but the Suffragettes are organizing and increasing their numbers.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Harvard was a burgeoning medical center and its numbers of medical students were rapidly increasing. The one or two cadavers that the school would obtain each year meant that the entire class would be sharing and dissecting a specimen for the full year. With the Paris Method of teaching hands on being the definitive instruction method this meant that there were simply not enough cadavers to meet the needs of the anatomy classes.

Legally, medical schools would be given the bodies of the indigent and executed criminals. Bodies of slaves were also sold, stolen and given over to the schools for experimentation. At Harvard Medical School a secret student society called the Spunkers formed to meet the rising demand for bodies.

Their means of procuring cadavers – grave robbing. In some cases they were quite clever. Some members would go to funerals and blend in with the mourners so that they knew where the fresh graves were. They would pull up the casket by the head slipping the body out through a small opening and returning the casket to the grave. If anyone were to stumble across the grave it would appear undisturbed. They also were quite deliberate about whose grave they would rob. If they disinterred bodies from slave burial grounds they knew there would be no legal ramifications.

Body snatching was so widespread that people started to take extra precautions when burying their loved ones. Family members would vigilantly guard the grave for weeks. Special cages were erected around the grave. The most extreme measures were perhaps the grave guns and coffin torpedoes that were attached to caskets, primed and at the ready.


Meet the Author

Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. Most weekends you can find Hester exploring one of the many historic cemeteries in the area, browsing bookshops, or enjoying a seasonal latte while writing at a café. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and their son.


Where You Can Find Hester Fox