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review 2018-03-08 21:56
A fun and delicious book for readers with a sense of adventure who admire creativity
Murder at the Bijou: Three Ingredients I - Teagan Riordain Geneviene

I am a big fan of Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, as an author, a blogger, and I was lucky to discover her blog a few years back, and although I missed some of her early serials at the time of their initial conception, I have managed to catch up with them over time. I have also read her novel, Atonement, Tennessee (you can check my review here) and know that apart from an imagination that knows no bounds, and a love of period research and attention to detail, she has a way with words and can create magical characters that readers get to care for and make them live through situations that never fail to surprise us and keep us on tenterhooks.

As she explains in her description, she has been running a number of serials on her blog, pantser style. She asks her readers for things and/or ingredients, and she makes up a story that keeps developing as her imagination, and the things and ingredients, dictate. I am in awe at her creativity and I must recommend her blog (Teagan’s Books), as I know she is working on her next serial (and her process of creation is totally interactive).

Many of her readers (I included) kept telling her we would like to have the option of having her serials in book format, and eventually, she relented. I have reviewed her first serial in book format, Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story (you can read my review here) and many of the things I said about the previous book can be applied to this one. This is another light, fun, and fast book, with the same protagonist, Pip, a young woman, a flapper (as she keeps reminding herself and us, because being modern at the time was not an easy task), who, on this occasion, is sent to stay with her grandmother, Granny Phanny (she is a fabulous character, and although she would hate to be called a flapper, she is an utterly modern woman) in Savannah so she can learn how to cook. That helps introduce the ingredients part of the story, and the culinary theme adds a layer of interest to the story, although I would advise not to read the book when you’re very hungry, because although sometimes the ingredients don’t end up in a dish, they often do, and they all sound delicious.

Pip, who narrates the story in the first person, is recovering from a heartache and meets a cast of wonderful characters, from a family of Chinese restaurateurs, to a vet and his doctor wife, G-men, police officers, mobsters, and there is even a paranormal element in the story. Oh, and let’s not forget a collection of pets that will warm your hearts and make you laugh.

Pip’s language remains as peculiar as usual, and the author seamlessly includes the popular and fashionable expressions of the era in her book. I challenge readers not to end up using some of them, especially some of Pip’s favourites.  

I recommended readers of the previous serial to play a game and try and imagine in which direction they would send the story, or how they would use the three things at the beginning of each chapter. You can do the same here, and if you’re fond of cooking, I’m sure you will have fun exploring possible ways of using the ingredients, both to cook and to advance the story. And by the end of the book, you’ll be amazed at how the author has managed to create a cohesive story from such diverse elements.

I recommend this book to readers with a sense of fun and play who enjoy a fast and light mystery (cozy style. No explicit violence, although there is violence, no sex scenes) set in the Jazz Age (oh, don’t forget to follow the author’s blog if you enjoy that historical period as she shares a post on the subject every Wednesday), with charming characters and great food. And even if you don’t have a lot of time to read for long stretches at a time, as the serial was created to be read a chapter per week, it is very easy to follow the story and not get lost. So, there is no excuse!

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review 2017-07-01 23:28
A light, fun, and dynamic story set in the 1920s, particularly recommended to those with an adventurous and playful spirit.
Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story - Teagan Riordain Geneviene

I was the lucky winner of this book as part of a promotion the author run on her blog, Teagan’s Books and I freely chose to review it.

I have been a follower of the author’s blog for several years, although I was not following her when she wrote this serial. Teagan Geneviene is a fascinating and versatile writer. I have read her novel Atonement, Tennessee (check my review here) that is a magical experience, full of finesse, beauty, and attention to detail, evidently the fruit of a lot of thought, careful planning, research, and revision. On the other hand, she is also able to produce her legendary serials. She starts with an idea, or an image, and asks the readers of her blog to contribute certain elements. These might be things (objects, words, concepts), foods, words related to a certain era… She links each one of the posts to the blog of the contributor, and progressively builds up her story, going wherever the three things (foods, objects, or whatevers) and her imagination take her. Although, as I’ve said before, I wasn’t following the author’s blog when she wrote this serial, I have met the main character, Pip in a later serial and I have followed several others, some with familiar characters and a recent one with different characters, and more in the steampunk style. Unsurprisingly, they have a big following and the authors keeps her followers (and I suspect, herself) guessing where the story is going to go next.

Many of the readers of her blog had asked her to publish the serials in book format and finally, she obliged.

Anybody reading the description of this volume will get a sense of how it came into being. The story has a wonderful sense of time (the jazzy 1920s, brilliant, young, full of flappers, parties, movies, and excitement) and it is told in the first person by Pip, a young woman transplanted from the South to the big city, with a huge imagination and an endless curiosity that gets her involved in all kinds of adventures, including but not limited to: kidnappings, rides in fire trucks, romances, secret coded messages, international intrigues, hidden treasures… Pip also has a wonderful turn of phrase (she never swears, at least not as we understand it, and there is no bad language in the book, although she uses her own expressions that colour her language and readers will come to love) and believes she is a very modern woman, although she is less savvy and cool than she would like to believe.

This is a short novel, quick, fast and full of adventures that will delight readers of all ages and will not offend those worried about bad language, erotica or graphic violence. Although in this format readers do not have access to the wonderful images, fruit of the author’s research, which illustrate her blog posts, it does offer continuity and an easier to follow story that will keep readers on their toes. It has elements of historical fiction, of mystery (although not by design, it could fit into the cozy mystery category), and a few touches of romance (or rather, romantic interest).

Although this work is too short to fully demonstrate the author’s abilities, it does give the readers a taste of her sense of fun and adventure, and it introduces a character that will become a close friend in series to come. As an exercise, I would suggest you try and put yourselves in the author’s shoes and every time you start to read a new chapter, headed by the three things, try and imagine how you would use those three words to continue the tale. I am sure you’ll be even more amazed at the story.

The author is working on turning some of her other serials into books, so if you enjoy this one, there are more delights to come your way. And, do not forget to check Atonement, Tennesse.

Recommended to anybody looking for a light, fun, and dynamic story set in the 1920s, particularly those with an adventurous and playful spirit.

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text 2016-06-03 14:07
The Forgotten Flapper: A Novel of Olive Thomas - Laini Giles
The Boston Girl: A Novel - Anita Diamant
Rare Objects: A Novel - Kathleen Tessaro

Are the 1910s–1930s making a comeback? See this week's post, “The Fog of War.”

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text 2016-04-22 15:01
The Forgotten Flapper: A Novel of Olive Thomas - Laini Giles
This week's post highlights Laini Giles and her interview with New Books in Historical Fiction.Don't miss her Forgotten Flapper: it's a charmer!
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review 2015-01-15 00:51
Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern
Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern - Joshua Zeitz

I really liked the title of this book and it was enjoyable, but not as scholarly as I had hoped. Knowing a lot about this era, I was intrigued to learn something new, but unfortunately, I knew most of the stories already. However, I would recommend this book as a fun introduction, for those who might not know the history and people behind these strange and wonderful times, that mirror our own in a lot of ways.

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