It’s a new book….

If you haven’t read it! 

Being a column about previously published books. Perhaps recently reissued, perhaps just discovered, perhaps recommended, perhaps on sale as an ebook, or a library find.

Title: Named of the Dragon, Susanna Kearsley
Publisher: Berkley/Sourcebooks (Oct 1999, reissued 2013UK, ebook 2015) 337 pp
4.5 stars
Genre: historical romance, romantic suspense, gothic suspense, British
I have read all her novels, have them as paperbacks and ebooks. I especially love her Scottish characters and stories which take me back home. I have given them to a wide variety of people, with no disappointments. I hope the popularity of this author makes people more aware of similar, earlier novelists:
Mother’s Day is coming up – this novel or any of her books would make a lovely gift. It would also make a lovely holiday reading present.
Susanna Kearsley is an award winning, NYTimes best selling Canadian author. She studied politics and international development at university and has been a museum curator. I recommend all her books: perhaps it is best to read them in order if you can find them! Mariana (1994), Spendour Falls (1995), Shadowy Horses (1997), Named of the Dragon (1998), Season of Storms (1999/2014), Winter Sea (also called Sophia’s Secret) (2008), Rose Garden (2011), Firebird (2013), A Desperate Fortune (2015). Her well researched historical novels often have paranormal elements, with a gentle love story. She has also written classic style thrillers as Emma Cole (Every Secret Thing, 2006). See her website for pictures of Pembroke Castle.
Story Line:
This is not contemporary romance.
This is not a fast paced mystery / thriller.
This is not necessarily a page turner, fast read.
This is not similar to her most recent paranormal historical books.
But it is a lovely, well written, atmospheric novel that will provide you with a strong sense of time and place: of Wales, King Arthur and literary London. Named of the Dragon is a gentle, layered, absorbing read. I loved the brief but accurate historical details. The gothic suspense is real and building. The voice of each character is pitch perfect. Her characters are often clever intelligent people, in the every day situations. I enjoyed the foray into the literary world, for the interesting portraits of authors, writers, genre, the hard work involved in writing and the intriguing personalities, politics and contemporary contrasts (although note there are no references to social media!). There is a nice balance of family, friends, Welsh vs English, each contributing clues to the slowly revealed story.
Lyn Ravenshaw is an eclectic literary agent for Simon Holland London, who accompanies one of her major clients, the flamboyant, self centered Bridget Cooper to the village of Angle, Wales for a Christmas holiday. Here be dragons, with castle, ruins, dovecote, myths, legends and coastal walks. Lyn’s haunting dreams add a surreal element of prophecy and an opportunity to explore Merlin, King Arthur, Tennyson and personal loss. Lyn is a young (29) widow who is still grieving her stillborn son, but finds new paths with a local family, a playwright, coastal walks with a lovely dog named Chance, and seasonal cheer. Kearsley’s romance is subtle and charming. Here it is a proper love story, not even a kiss but swoon worthy true love.
Read on:
If you like Mary Stewart (especially her Merlin trilogy), Mary Elgin, Barbara Michaels, Barbara Erskine, Anya Seton, Daphine du Maurier, Rosemary Sutcliffe and Elizabeth Harris.
To her later novels, read on to Diana Gabaldon
Alfred, LordTennyson Idylls of the King (Sir Gareth and Lynnette)
This novel reminded me of Mary Stewart, The Merlin Trilogy (4 books beginning with Crystal Cave). This is a wonderful thing as I sincerely miss her writing (and if it’s any indication by the number of individuals and book clubs to which I have recommended Kearsley, many still miss Stewart.
First line: The dream came, as it always did, just before dawn.
Bridget was a one-off, an exceptionally talented writer with a wild imagination that made her books for children instant classics, and a wild nature that drove poor directors of my literary agency to drink….. And I, who had survived 4 years and one weeks holiday in France with Bridget, had risen to status of martyr.
…a toss of the coin did seem the only fair way to decide where I ought to spend Christmas…it only took four tries to make the penny come up tails.
I recognized the stubborn tone, the stamp of a true writer. And I took his side wholeheartedly. Originality was not a team pursuit…
Like one of my father’s more difficult roses, his ego would wither unless you fussed over it constantly. Writers, I knew, could be hard work, that way.
It had been years since I had walked a coastal path, and I’d forgotten how incredible it felt to be so high above everything, to look down and see gulls wheeling under me while on the blue sunlit water the tankers and small boats moved leisurely round one another, completely unaware of my existence.
“I suppose that there’s some planet, somewhere,” I told her, “where all of your theories make sense.”
“You should be sainted.”
“Most legends,” said Gareth, “are root
ed in myth. And legends live longer than truth.”
He was to Wales what William Wallace was to Scotland, only more than that.
Her neighbors, I thought, were probably still undergoing therapy.
She’s high maintenance, you know, like a racing car—always wanting a new set of tires, or an oil change.”
Smiling at the devil was the best way to defeat him, so my father’d always said.
“She’s just inherited her mother’s way of seeing things, the Celtic way, that sees the past and future worlds all blended in with ours. That isn’t mad, it’s Welsh.
“I’m a writer,” she said. “There’s a difference. Authors are rarefied creatures, you know, who write serious fiction.” “And writers…?” “Write books people buy,” she explained, with a twinkle of mischief.
Stripped to its bare outer walls, it was like a cathedral, a great hollow soaring cathedral of stone, with a perfect domed ceiling and small arching windows that slanted pale light through the reverent gloom. From every ledge and opening.


Short stories for summer!

Note: The British Library is republishing many of their Classic Crime and Spy novels, with the Poisoned Pen Press responsible for the U.S. editions. There were twelve published in 2015 and 12 more in 2016. They will be available in trade paperback and Ebook. Many of these books have been out of print or difficult to find. Some of these Golden Age Crime writers are perhaps unknown to the American audience. Each book features stunning cover art pertinent to the era (20/30s Britain). Of note, Martin Edwards provided guidance for this project as the archivist for CWA (and for Detection Club). Two books feature short fiction edited by Edwards. I have always valued the Poisoned Pen’s collection of mysteries for providing excellent reading experiences; there are over 700 titles. I am looking forward to the reissue of all the British Library Crime Classic novels. I read the following as ARCs from Netgalley, and wish to thank both publishers for bringing these works to light.

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Genre: English mystery, cozy, mystery, British Library crime classics,

Title: Resorting to Murder: Holiday Murders edited by Martin Edwards 286 pp. 4 stars***

This collection of 14 short stories is again presented in chronological published order (1910-1953). These are not action dramas but puzzles and will provide lovely armchair travel to Europe (UK, Switzerland, France). As a themed anthology it is more diverse than expected, given the authors and time period. Several feature well known detectives/sleuths: Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is present in The Adventure of Devil’s Foot, and his brother in law E.W. Hornung’s Dr John Dollar in A Schoolmaster Abroad, and H.C. Bailey’s The Hazel Ice has Mr Fortune, surely the precursor to Lord Peter Wimsey. I simply loved Helen Simpson’s humorous A Posteriori and Basil Thompson’s The Vanishing of Mrs Fraser. I wrote notes twelve of the stories!

I enjoyed this entertaining series far more than the previous short story anthology, although once again there are vastly different writing styles. Both may lead you to a new author, and both make wonderful summer reads. Short stories are perfect for the beach, the hammock, the commute to work, the plane trip, or by the pool. Don’t forget the Pimms to set the stage. It might just be your cup of tea. It is great to have a chance to read these stories. There is much to chose from and I think you will find many enjoyable reads.

Although sleuths go on vacation, murder never does.”

Title: Capitol Crimes edited by Martin Edwards 343 pp. 3 stars***

Martin Edwards has published 16 crime novels and 50 short stories. He is also the archivist for the Crime Writers’ Association as well as the Detection Club. He is a consultant to the British library in their reissuing of the crime writers of the golden era and as such, selected 17 short stories, set in London. They have been arranged in chronological order from 1893 Case of the Lady Sannox (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) to 1946 You Can’t Hang Twice (Anthony Gilbert).

This also illustrates the gradual transition from amateur detective to police procedural. You will find some interesting reads: Campion by Margery Allingham in the Unseen Door, Stealer of Marble by Edgar Wallace, or The Hands of Mr Ottermole by Thomas Burke. I found this edition to be more of a hodgepodge of less readable work, certainly not their best work. Some haven’t stood the hands of time, feeling very dated (manners, class), ‘vintage prose’ even! But as an introduction to their body of work, you might discover a new author.

The Rochester Public Library does not have the last books of short stories; it it does have several similar books that Edwards has edited for the CWA, including Deadly Pleasures 2013, Guilty Parties 2014, and Golden Age of Murder 2015.


Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.  

Nudge define by Webster as to touch or push gently

Defined by Monty Python as to draw attention to a sexual innuendo in a previous statement 

I have to let Mercy go.

I have to get on with my other reading.

I have to get on with my life.

When I requested the latest book in the Mercy Thompson series, I was impatient for it to arrive. So I reread the Alpha and Omega series, which complements it but also provides valuable, in depth crossover characters. Then I found her Shifting Shadows, a book of short stories which are fantastic, in having stories which complete your knowledge of some of the main characters. As well as another chapter from Adam’s welcome viewpoint of the previous book Night Broken, (as well as a lovely story from just after Night Broken derived from a nightmare Briggs had! These stories contain ‘spoilers’ for the books, but could be read before Fire Touched). Then my Netgalley copy wouldn’t download properly and I decided enough was enough, I bought the hardback edition. I do not own a single copy of either series, although I would like them all. I was introduced to Briggs last summer with a local librarian telling me she loved it. I was a big fan of Charles, perhaps because the Mercy Thompson series was read out of order. Please note all these books stand alone but they are much more readable in order of publication and character development. The short stories are also essential reading to both series as they provide interesting background to each story line. Yes these are werewolves. And here be monsters. But I seldom read stories a second time, let alone a third time (finally all in order). Highly recommended.

Title: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

5 Stars *****

Publisher: Penguin group (March 2016). 342 pp

Genre: fantasy, science fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, action/adventure

Author: Patricia Briggs is a NY Times best selling author of urban fantasy (since 1993 with the publication of Masques). She was a history and German major. Briggs obviously loves horses (Dead Heat), has a “small herd” and an interesting website/Facebook and blog

This is the 9th book in the Mercy Thompson series, each installment is well written with developing characters, good action and an interesting mixture of mythology and world building. They take place in the Tri-Cities area along the Columba River, PNW.

Each book is a complete story but the characters develop with each episode. I love the diverse characters: from Coyote, the Gray Lords (fae), vampires, werewolves, Underhill, tibicena, and unknown monsters. I am invested in them and want to know so much more. I was lucky enough to have discovered these only last year, so have read all of them within the last few months, without waiting years for the story arc. It’s going to be a long wait for the next installment. Silence Fallen (2017) with Mercy going to Europe!? (I think that should be Charles and Anna!)

Story line:

Mercedes Thompson Hauptman is a coyote shapeshifter in a werewolf world. Her Native American heritage put her in the care of the Montana pack of Bran, The Marok (head of all werewolf clans in North America) until she struck out on her own. Her day job is Volkswagen mechanic extraordinaire. The rest of the time she is saving the world. Neither pays well. Mercy is a strong, independent, funny, smart heroine, always trying to save someone else. She stands up for what’s right. This makes her vulnerable, likable, lovable, dependable, unpredictable and great fun.

Mercy is also now the mate of alpha Adam, after much machination (see first six books). The depth of his feelings have never been in doubt. They have if anything intensified. Interesting that we continue to put human values/feelings in other creatures, very mistakenly in the case of The Fae here. Yet somehow there is so much reality that we are completely at home in Mercy’s world. Mercy always seems to win against impossible odds. I, personally, depend on that. These are adrenaline filled reads (this time there are trolls), while also emotionally satisfying (history, Justice, humor, family, pizza). There is still much looming ahead, war between the fae and humans, or werewolves and everyone. Each side should know that they need to be on Mercy’s side, if they expect to win (to paraphrase Lincoln).

Read on:

If you haven’t read Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, start with Moon Called

Read on to Alpha and Omega series with Charles and Anna

If you like series by Charlaine Harris, Karen Marie Moning, Kim Harrison


If something dire was going to happen, in my experience, it would happen whatever I was doing and waiting around was singularly useless. So I worked.

Holy Avon, Batman, I thought, as worry relaxed into annoyance tinged humor, I’ve been attacked by a multilevel marketer.

St. John’s wort, lavender, orange, she said briskly. This isn’t chemical castration….as if the phrase..was a common concept -and something one might consider doing to one’s husband.

Darryl kissed my hand formally, and said, you are endlessly entertaining.

My super power consisted of changing into a thirty five pound coyote.

….children help the power because they were in the process of becoming something. In that promise was magic – and it was like catnip to the fae.

Not as surprised and four times as please as my compatriots, I vow. You’ve been reading The Lord of the Rings again. 

Salt neutralizes the magic. What Uncle Mike did is the equivalent of using water to start a fire.


Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley, as well as purchased hardcover. Available from Rochester Public Library (several as Ebooks).