Blog Archives

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss

The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series by Theodora Goss has quickly become one of my favorites, particularly in audio. In fact, when I finished the second book, the third was still two months away from publication! But I wasn’t ready to leave Goss’s world, and I struggled to settle on another book. Eventually, I went back to the Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan because 1) it is also a Victorian-era tale about the power of women, and 2) it is also narrated by Kate Reading, who is a phenomenal voice performer. But as I write this review, I am counting the days until October 1 when the third book in the series, The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl, is available.

Title: European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman
Author: Theodora Goss
Series: Book 02, The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club
Publish Date: July 10, 2018, Simon & Schuester
Genre: Historical fantasy, historical mystery
Narrator: Kate Reading
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionMary Jekyll’s life has been peaceful since she helped Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the Whitechapel Murders. Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary’s sister Diana Hyde have settled into the Jekyll household in London, and although they sometimes quarrel, the members of the Athena Club get along as well as any five young women with very different personalities. At least they can always rely on Mrs. Poole.

But when Mary receives a telegram that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped, the Athena Club must travel to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rescue yet another young woman who has been subjected to horrific experimentation. Where is Lucinda, and what has Professor Van Helsing been doing to his daughter? Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, and Justine reach her in time?

Racing against the clock to save Lucinda from certain doom, the Athena Club embarks on a madcap journey across Europe. From Paris to Vienna to Budapest, Mary and her friends must make new allies, face old enemies, and finally confront the fearsome, secretive Alchemical Society. It’s time for these monstrous gentlewomen to overcome the past and create their own destinies.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

In this second installment of adventures, we again see the ladies of the Athena Club come together to save a young woman from the mad “scientific” designs of her father. Only this time, they have to travel to distant lands to do it. Along the way, they put themselves at risk not only to save the girl but to make greater strides in preventing further abuse in the name of science.

The elements I appreciated about the first book in the series are still here—the way this family of women supports one another and the way they are sacrificing to protect others. As a fan of fantasy, literature, history, and culture, I adore all those elements that Goss brings into the story as well—riding the Orient Express, traveling with a Victorian circus, exploring foreign and exotic lands. I am particularly enamored of the coffeehouse in Budapest. I fear I would be as greedy as Diana in that environment, wanting to sample all its flavorful offerings.

The repetition of specific phrases or story elements persists, but I feel it happens less often. It doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Again, I struggle to find new ways to say how much I love this book. I’m already heavily invested in the characters and their world and am finding the wait for the next book, as I’m sure I will find the wait between books three and four, to be excruciating.

Books in this series

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Imagine the TV show Penny Dreadful, with all of the characters from classic sci-fi and mystery literature, including The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. However, instead of horror, picture it as a late-Victorian-era mystery series with a strong dose of girl power. What you get is the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series by Theodora Goss. Let me introduce you to the first book in the series.

Title: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
Author: Theodora Goss
Series: Book 01, The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club
Publish Date: June 20, 2017, Simon & Schuester
Genre: Historical fantasy, historical mystery
Narrator: Kate Reading
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ deaths, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

I find it hardest to review those books I enjoy the most, and so I’m struggling to review this one. I simply love it. I love that all these women come together to form a family. I love that they each have a distinct personality and that they all are so accepting of one another without being too timid about calling one another out. I love how they are all working toward common goals, each in the way that bests uses their talents. I know some of this won’t make sense until you read the book, but the example this book sets for being part of a family, blood-related or not, is a big part of its charm.

Another part I love is how these women are trying to prevent anyone else from being subject to the abuses they have endured. Most of the women in the story have been somehow “created” by their scientifically-minded fathers or keepers. Their primary goal is to prevent other girls from being experimented on or created the way they were. This mirrors much of the activist work we see in women’s groups today, where victims of abuse speak out to prevent others from having to experience the same. I imagine it’s a comment by the author about one of the best qualities we see in women who support each other: We are strong, we survive, and we work hard to protect others.

Being a huge fan of audiobooks, I listened to this book. The narrator, Kate Reading, is amazing. She also narrated the Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan, which I adore. Reading has a large catalog of titles familiar to me, including books by Judy Blume, Jim Butcher, Patricia Cornwell, Sara Donati, Robert Jordan, Sophie Kinsella, Stephanie Meyer, Anne Rice, Brandon Sanderson, V.E. Schwab, and Lauren Willig. She has quickly become one of my favorite narrators, and I will be listening to more of her narration in the future for sure.

However, audiobook listeners may want to download a sample of the ebook or peek at a print book at the bookstore, because the book uses an unusual writing convention, and without the text cues, it may take a bit for the listener to catch on. Essentially, the protagonists of the book, the ladies of the Athena Club, are the ones actually writing the book about their adventures. A character named Catherine is the novelist, and the others insert commentary from time to time. As a result, the book uses both third-person limited and first-person POVs at different points in the story. While it breaks normal convention, it’s done well and is really fun, providing much of the humor in the book.

The only complaint I have, and it’s a minor one, is that bits of the story or even exact phrases are occasionally repeated. Either one of the characters will use the exact phrase they used a few lines ago, or a bit of story will be repeated a couple of times in different places, maybe in the novel text and then the “commentary” text, or maybe in two different places in the story. Those repetitions could be tightened up.

Despite that small complaint, I am in love with this series, particularly in audio. I can’t wait for more adventures with the ladies of the Athena Club.

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Tana French has done it again. Even though The Witch Elm isn’t part of the Dublin Murder Squad series, it’s just as good.

Title: The Witch Elm
Author: Tana French
Publish Date: October 9, 2018 by Penguin
Genre: Suspense
Source: Library

Publisher’s Description: Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

Tana French’s protagonist, Toby, experiences a severe beating and the resulting mental and physical anguish he goes through is so realistic, it seems as if the author has experienced something similar first hand. I also really enjoyed all the secondary characters, particularly Uncle Hugo. He is such a delight and really seemed to prevent Toby from derailing completely. Reading this book was like being part of Toby’s family and I felt as if I was participating in the complicated relationships.

As the characters are asked to remember their teen years, I found it absolutely believable that each of the three cousins remembered things very differently and that those very different memories were at the root of the mystery.

I give this book 5 stars and highly recommend everything Tana French has written.

Dane Curse by Matt Abraham

Reading and reviewing the stories in Eight in the Chamber anthology.  Reviewing book #4

Title: Dane Curse
Author:  Matt Abraham
Series:  Black Cape Case Files #1
Publish Date:  February 10, 2015
Genre: Pulp Fiction
Source:  purchased by reviewer in Anthology, Eight in the Chamber

Publisher’s Description: For a guy like me, who can shrug off bullets and lift seven tons, there’s no better profession than powered crime, and no greater burg to practice it in than Gold Coast City. But after ten years of tossing Buicks at heroes I wised up, took the black cape off my back, and hung out a shingle. Only instead of Dark Deeds Done Daily, this one reads Dane Curse, PI. Now I work cases for the dark denizens I was once counted among. The problems they got aren’t the kind that cops care about, so I do what I can, because sometimes even the unjust deserve a little justice.

At least that’s how it was before the world’s greatest superhero was mysteriously murdered, an act so terrible it threatens to start a war that’ll tear my home apart block-by-block, unless I find the killer in five days’ time. But getting to the truth won’t be so easy. I’ll have to contend with black capes whose powers and pulse cannons can shred my hide. An army of technologically advanced armored lawmen led by a power-mad government schemer. And white caped heroes whose abilities and intentions are both less than pure.

No simple task for a small time PI, so I’ll need every bit of my strength, guts, and powers if I’m going to find the killer, save my city, and maybe even get some justice for the greatest hero the world has ever known.

In Dane Curse, Matt Abraham, winner of Pulp Detective’s 2015 Newcomer of the Year Award, takes us on our first trip through the powered underbelly of Gold Coast City in a fast paced adventure you’ll never forget. If you like white knuckled action, devious dames, and heroic villains then get your copy today, and saddle up with the most exciting detective since Harry Dresden!

 

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

This is a review of the fourth story in the anthology.  I wasn’t thinking this was going to be my kind of book.  The cover looked like a graphic novel and the preview seemed a little Dick Tracey-ish.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Yes, this is a superhero kind of book.  The good guys on one side, the bad guys on the other.  And then there are the police – non super heroes.  Kind of bitter lot they are.  Anyway, the cops always work the murder cases of the supers and the regular folk, but if a villain super bites the big one, then no one cares.  It doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t grieved for or missed, it just means there is no justice for the villain.

So, does a supervillain deserve justice?  Dane Curse thinks so.  He’s the only black cape P.I. out there and when a villain is killed, he will search til he finds who did the deed and he never gives up.

This is a fun book but there is only 2 in the series and it doesn’t look like any more are forthcoming, so pace yourself.

 

Follow One Book Two on Social Media via:

   Bloglovin_small Feedly_small RSSFeed_small

Croft and Wesson by Brad Magnarella

Reading and reviewing the stories in Eight in the Chamber anthology.  This is book #3, a short novella that has Prof Croft winging it to help out Wesson.  Will he make it out alive?


Title:
Croft & Wesson
Author:  Brad Magnarella
Series:  Prof Croft
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source:  purchased by reviewer in Anthology, Eight in the Chamber

 

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

This is a review of the third story in the anthology.  James Wesson really does not take his job seriously.  He has to use the assistance of Everson Croft in order to figure out why blond women are disappearing.  It could be a serial killer, right?  It’s nothing to do with the gold bracelets and any kind of magic, could it?

Well, you know it does.  Croft & Wesson battle a bunch of were wolves that James owes a huge debt to, they have to stay on the straight and narrow of the local Sheriff how is wiley and cantankerous and try and stop whatever or whoever is sending bracelets to the ladies in town.  The story is a good one.  It doesn’t add a whole lot to the over arching series story, so it’s a good standalone to test out the waters.

There is some grisly parts, a puzzle and one big scary dude.  Check it out.  It’s worth it!

 

Follow One Book Two on Social Media via:

   Bloglovin_small Feedly_small RSSFeed_small

%d bloggers like this: