Little by Edward Carey

A mix of very quirky characters and a superbly innocent voice make Little an intriguing look at a famous, yet little-known, historical figure.

Title: Little
Author: Edward Carey
Publish Date: October 23rd, 2018 by Riverhead Books
Genre: Historical fiction
Narrator: Jayne Entwistle
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThe wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in Revolutionary Paris, befriended by royalty and radicals, who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud.

In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Switzerland. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.

In the tradition of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Edward Carey’s Little is a darkly endearing cavalcade of a novel–a story of art, class, determination, and how we hold on to what we love.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Invested Ivana says…

A while ago, Agent Annie suggested I might like the book Little, a fictional-yet-apparently-accurate-in-facts history of Madame Tussaud, of wax museum fame. Her recommendation was spot on. Little, particularly the audio version, is spectacular!

We meet Marie, who will eventually become Madame Tussaud, as a small child in Switzerland whose family is struggling after her father sustains a serious injury in the military. After her father’s death, her mother becomes housekeeper to a professor and then dies, leaving Marie to be buffeted on the winds of fate for the majority of her remaining life.

There are a couple of things I find fascinating about how this story is written. First, the tone of the story is so quirky-gothic. It feels similar to, though weightier than, A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Addams Family, or the card game Gloom. Every character has some eccentric, quirky feature, such as the professor who is in love with bones, the Paris historian who never takes off his shoes, Marie’s childhood friend who comes to believe he is a dresser’s dummy, or the street urchin who behaves like the stray dogs who raised him. The eccentricities of each character are fascinating and the quirky tone of the story is very compelling, assuming quirky and dark is your thing. From a historical perspective, this tone also does a great job of characterizing the experience of the common citizen caught up in the craziness of the French Revolution.

Second, Marie’s voice, which we first hear as a child, retains that same child-like, innocent quality for the whole book. Not only her “voice,” as in a writing style, but also her literal voice, provided by narrator Jayne Entwistle, is absolutely perfect for the character and tone of the book. Particularly toward the end of the book, the reader witnesses Marie mature into an adult in terms of her actions and decisions, but her “voice” continues to be that of an innocent child, caught up in the machinations of fate, war, and people who have more power than she does.

This is a book I will listen to again, probably more than once. There is a lot to digest in terms of history and the way the writing style is both fun and yet layered to communicate the dynamics of power and absurdity of war and politics. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 4 by James Tynion IV

Arsenal and Starfire return to save their friend Jason (Red Hood) from erasing his memories and forgetting who he is – at the worst possible time.

Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 4: League of Assasins
Author:  James Tynion IV (Writer), Julius M. Gopez (Illustrations), Ray McCarthy (Illustrator)
Publish Date:  June 17, 2014
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel

Publisher’s Description:  A new era begins for Red Hood and the Outlaws!
Following the Joker’s horrifying attack on the Bat-family, Jason Todd finds himself lost in his own past. Kori and Arsenal set out on a treacherous journey to the far reaches of the globe to rescue him, but when they come face to face with the All Caste, Hugo Strange, and the League of Assassins, the Outlaws might reach their breaking point.





Kat Mandu says…

Arsenal and Starfire return to save their friend Jason (Red Hood) from erasing his memories and forgetting who he is – at the worst possible time.

At the end of Death of the Family, Jason is fed up with the demons in his head telling him what he can and can’t be. He wants to forget all the wrong he’s done, all the people he’s hurt. He doesn’t want to feel anymore pain himself. So he rids himself of his memories just as Starfire and Arsenal show up to try to stop him.

But they’re not the only ones who are trying to get the Red Hood. The League of Assassins are searching for Jason, because with their leader vanished, someone needs to step in and if they’re able to show Jason the darkness in his heart, he’ll be able to lead them into a very terrifying victory against the Al Caste, which is the formidable group that trained Jason in the first place.

Overall, this really focuses on friendship as an arc. Arsenal and Starfire have their first lovers’ quarrel. Starfire hides that she can so easily forget someone (like her relationship with Nightwing, the original Robin) and Arsenal, plagued by feelings of disappointment and anger, sinks in lower by choosing the wrong side in a fight, despite Starfire’s protests. And poor Jason, without his memory, is targeted by assassins across the globe, left slightly defenseless without the memory of his training and history.

But *spoiler alert* Arsenal manages to get Jason back in the groove by being a friend, and in the end Jason ends up even more powerful than how he started. Plus he has a glowing blade, so that’s nice. Now the three are back together and facing off against a threat poor Arsenal didn’t see coming. I imagine it’ll be quite the fight, so I’m eager to see what happens in the next one.

To wrap up the fourth installment though, I’ll admit again that as much as I enjoy the story, sometimes it is just hard to follow. I enjoy comic books a lot, the artwork is always done so beautifully. But sometimes it’s just easier for me to read regular books. I tend to understand their flow and detailed descriptions better. And I catch on faster. But still, I give it a four.

Our reviews in this series…


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Nell’s Gossip and Book Hunt 8/4/19


Welcome to my Sunday book hunt and author gossip.  Keep coming back for updates on book releases and news from favorite authors.

Back with new releases again… they keep writin’ them, we keep readin’ them.

  • Wow, summer is sure scooting by this year.  I’ve kept up my end of the bargain so far – I read nearly 6 books a month – more if I can.  It’s the best to be able to sit outside with the doggo and read…and read…and read.  I have listened to a lot of audio books since I’ve been on the road with work.  Right now, I’m listing to a book that caught my attention.  It’s by Craig Johnson, part of the Walt Longmire series called Junkyard Dogs.  I got hooked on Longmire when it was on TV.  I never realized it was a book series.  Boy, I was really not clued in.

Anyway, Walt is a bit out of my wheel house, but I’m about 75% finished and it’s really good.  The narrator is super.

With that being said, here’s a book that is a little closer to my normal reading.  The last book in this series was released on June 10, 2019.  This new little gem will be released December 30, 2019.

Title:  Blood and Blade
Author: Lauren Dane
Series:  Goddess with a Blade #6
Release date:  December 30, 2019
Description: It’s been only days since Rowan and her friends eliminated the immediate threat to magic users and Vampires, but they’re already back on the hunt. Rowan’s out for vengeance, and she’s never been more driven—or angry. But she’s up against a being stronger than any she’s ever fought. To bring it down she’ll need more than the powers the goddess Brigid gave her…

This time she’ll need her friends, too.

She knows her husband will always have her back. As an ancient Vampire and Scion of North America, Clive has more clout and dominance than almost anyone. Rowan’s small but trusted inner circle insist they’ll join her in the thick of the battle, even as she argues it’s too dangerous for them. She’s also got a new dog. Familiar. Whatever. Star is a magical being put in Rowan’s path to help and protect her.

The hunt for ancient evil takes Rowan and her team to London and back to Las Vegas, bringing with them an unexpected alliance. Fortified by their rage, grief and determination, Rowan and her friends will stop at nothing when they track their enemy to the high desert in a final, deadly showdown.

  • I’m sad.  Yep.  Mournful, dismal, melancholy and bereaved.  I few weeks back I found a super new series (to me) and now, I found out that the last book in the series has been released.  Geez.  Oh, well.  I’ve still got books 2-6 and several shorts waiting for me.  Here’s the low down on #6

Title:  Devil’s Finale
Author:  Percival Constantine 
Series:  Luther Cross #6
Release date: July 3, 2019
Description: End of the line…or end of the world?
My name’s Luther Cross, and by now you know my story. Half-human, half-demon, and Chicago’s sexiest paranormal investigator. Now I can add “recently returned from the dead” to my long list of accomplishments.

Except my resurrection was just the beginning. See, a year ago, I uncovered a plot by a rogue angel to launch the apocalypse ahead of schedule with the help of a supernatural child. And he’s got everything he needs to start the fireworks. Now it’s up to me to convince the leaders of Hell—who have never exactly liked me—to follow my lead and put a stop to this.

Some say I can’t avert armageddon and save the kid, but I’m determined to try. The question remains—just what will I have to sacrifice to save the world?

  • Here’s a little thing that I found – if you are an audiobook lover,  This is a new service that lets you know limited time deals on audiobooks.  This book has a very curious title and if you know anything about me, I am curious.  Anyway, it’s on sale for .99 cents for the next 30 days.  All the featured books are between 70% nearly 90% off.  I’m gonna go for it and see how it goes.  I’ll report.

Title:  Stillborn Armadillos
Author: Nick Russell
Series:  John Lee Quarrels book #1
Release date:  November 20, 2018
Description:  Life is already complicated enough for John Lee Quarrels, what with his estranged wife dropping in for unannounced sleepovers, her oversexed sister tempting him, his pot smoking ponytailed grandfather growing his own stash, his Elvis obsessed grandmother, and being caught smack dab in the middle of a power struggle between the Sheriff and Chief Deputy. But when a road construction crew unearths the skeletons of three murder victims, John Lee suddenly finds himself on the trail of a killer who may well have died long before the deputy was even born. And then a mysterious sniper begins shooting at deputies….

As sultry as a Florida back road in August, as mysterious as the South’s live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and as deadly as a copperhead strike, New York Times best-selling author Nick Russell’s new John Lee Quarrels series will keep you listening late into the night.

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Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 3 by Scott Lobdell

Death of the Family is quick to the punches as the Joker returns to set fire to Gotham and the Bat Family legacy.

Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 3: Death of the Family
Author: Scott Lobdell (Writer), Fabian Nicieza (Writer), Scott Snyder (Goodreads Author) (Writer), Timothy Green II (Illustrator), Pasqual Ferry (Illustrator), Brett Booth (Illustrator), Ig Guara (Illustrator), Wayne Faucher (Illustrator), Norm Rapmund (Illustrator), Greg Capullo (Illustrator), Jonathan Glapion (Illustrator), Ardian Syaf (Illustrator), Robson Rocha (Illustrator), Ken Lashley (Illustrator), Julio Ferreira (Illustrator), Jaime Mendoza (Illustrator), Le Beau L. Underwood (Illustrator), Tyler Kirkham (Illustrator)
Series: Red Hood and the Outlaws #3
Publish Date:  December 3, 2013
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel

Publisher’s Description:  As if Batman’s former sidekick Jason Todd, now known as the Red Hood, didn’t have enough problems leading the team of outlaws such as Arsenal and Starfire, now his “estranged” brother Red Robin is knocking on his door because The Night of Owls is here! With Batman in dire need of help, will Red Hood answer the call?

And when Jason and the team find out that Starfire is one of the most feared (and dangerous) commanders in all of space, the team will find their adventures taken to the stars and beyond to help decide the fate of the throne of Tamaran. Witness the galactic struggle between Starfire and her sister Blackfire as Red Hood and the Outlaws are caught in the middle of an interstellar war!

Kat Mandu says…

Death of the Family is quick to the punches as the Joker returns to set fire to Gotham and the Bat Family legacy. Jason Todd aka Red Hood is caught in the crossfire again between his former mentor and his own psychotic murderer.

And although Jason is one of the Joker’s favorite creations, and therefore one he enjoys torturing the most, Jason finds he’s not the only chew toy this time around. The Joker has kidnapped all the former and current Robins, plus Batgirl. And Batman! Because it’s his birthday and the Joker gives no shits.

The Joker has a sick game for Batman planned – and he’ll stop at nothing to win. Which means the Bat Family have to team up and face down their demons to turn the tables… and make it out alive.

Intermingled with this story is the perspective of both Starfire and Arsenal as they hop into the fight in an attempt to save their best friend. They team up with the Teen Titans to help stop the spread of The Joker’s madness within Gotham and save a lot of people along the way.

What I like: the intensity of this story arc is phenomenal. One trap laid after another. Suspenseful and engaging. Red Hood is my favorite DC character and he continues to be full of surprises. I’m very eager to see where this goes in the fourth installment.

Arsenal and Starfire are the best, with fierce friendship skills and awesome one liners.

What I didn’t like: It’s one thing to be able to immerse yourself into a comic book world. But the Death of the Family arc spans about twelve different stories, just told by several different characters. So it’s hard to jump into the series and still understand everything that’s going on. I found this book to be jumpy and choppy, with unnecessary fillers.

And sadly, as much as I adore Starfire and Arsenal for being goofy and formidable, their story arc distracts from the story too much, only adding to the chaos. This comic could have done with a bit more editing to help with the flow.

Overall though, it’s an enjoyable read.

Our reviews in this series…


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Nell’s Gossip and Book Hunt 7/28/2019


Welcome to my Sunday book hunt and author gossip.  Keep coming back for updates on book releases and news from favorite authors.

Back with new releases again… they keep writin’ them, we keep readin’ them.

  • I haven’t looked to C.E. Murphy for a book for awhile.  Walker Papers series was pretty darn cool but, to be honest, I lost interest around the third to last book and never finished.  I’m rather ashamed of that fact, because I really did enjoy the series.  If I recall, something happened to the main protagonists mentor and I couldn’t handle it, so I quit.  Yeah, I know, but that’s why they call me Nervous Nellie.  Anyway, this series started in 2016 and it looks pretty good.  I’m thinking I might need to give it a whirl.

TitleAtlantis Fallen
Author: C.E. Murphy
SeriesHeartstrike Chronicles #1
Release date:  April 5, 2016
Description: A city hidden for five thousand years.

A man so ancient his early history is lost to time.

A woman who has nothing to lose…

Lorhen, oldest and most ruthless of the immortal Timeless, put aside the sword long ago for a quiet life. But peace doesn’t last forever, especially for a man whose age can be counted in epochs, and the mortal life he’s built unravels as the Keepers, a society of historians who record Timeless lives, learn that he’s been hiding in their midst.

Then an archaeologist’s claims of finding Atlantis brings back millennia-old memories, and Lorhen is drawn unwillingly into intrigues aeons in the making—and deadly enough that he may yet face the heartstrike blow that will unleash his power on the world….

  • I was never a fan of Ilona Andrews.  I tried, believe me.  Ivana can be quite convincing since she is a tried and true reader of all things Ilona, but the Kate Daniels series never did it for me.  I really need to try again because I’m a firm believer that mood, timing and the moon all have something to do with how a person syncs with a book.  Anyway, I stumbled across Ilona Andrews series, Innkeeper Chronicles, and I’m intrigued.  I’m going to give this one a listen.

TitleClean Sweep
AuthorIlona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #1
Release date: December 2, 2013
Description: On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

  • While I was looking at books at 3 am (I know – like I need more books), I found this series that looks really interesting.  It’s by an author I’ve never tried but the reviews are good.  And if you MUST know, yes, I added this one to my TBR pile.

TitleShadow Walker
Author: Anya J. Cosgrove
SeriesBloody Hearts #1
Release date: January 17, 2019
DescriptionNothing stays black and white in a world full of shadows.

I’m Alana Mitchell, and for my twentieth birthday, I got a brand-new magical destiny instead of the laptop I was saving for.

I’m a witch. I have powers I can’t control, enemies I know nothing about, and a legacy I can’t begin to grasp.

A renegade demon and his brother rescued me, but they are driving me crazy with their I-know-better attitudes, beckoning stares and stupidly handsome faces.

I want to hunt the bastards that destroyed my future, but the brothers’ past is catching up to us in the form of a smart, bitter, and deadly enemy, one who will stop at nothing to possess me.

To survive, I must embrace the darkness simmering inside me and unleash the devil within, no matter the consequences…

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