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review 2018-03-05 17:02
Alias Grace / Margaret Atwood
Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood

Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?


I read this novel to fill the A in my Women Authors A to Z reading challenge and a “Book about a villain or anti-hero” for my 2018 PopSugar challenge.

For me, Margaret Atwood rarely disappoints and Alias Grace was no exception. Despite the fact that I’m recovering from a nasty cold and need all the sleep that I can get, I found myself up after bedtime, obsessively following the life of Grace Marks. Atwood has taken a historical figure and told her story—sticking to the facts, but embroidering around them in a beguiling fashion.
The themes are timeless—who is telling the truth? Whose truth? Who are we to believe? Does the justice system really offer us justice? Who gets to decide?

Though much of the novel is seen through Grace’s eyes, I still didn’t feel like I knew her well enough to judge—did she assist with the murders or was she merely an accessory after the fact? All of the might-have-beens weighed heavily on me. If only she had chosen this path or that one, things might have been so different.

A truly engrossing story.

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text 2018-02-28 19:30
Women Writers Bingo / Project: Tracking Post



A - Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley, Mystery Mile, Look to the Lady, Police at the Funeral, Sweet Danger, Death of a Ghost, Flowers for the Judge, The Case of the Late Pig, Dancers in Mourning, The Fashion in Shrouds, Traitor's Purse, and The Tiger in the Smoke (all new); The Man With the Sack (revisited on audio)

B - Anne Brontë: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (revisited on audio)

C - Helen Czerski: Storm in a Teacup (new);

Agatha Christie: The Moving Finger (revisited on audio), Crooked House (revisited on audio and DVD) and Destination Unknown (new)

D -

E -

F -

G - Elizabeth George: For the Sake of Elena and Playing for the Ashes (both revisited on audio)

H - Radclyffe Hall: The Well of Loneliness (new);

Mavis Doriel Hay: Death on the Cherwell (new)

I -

J - P.D. James: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories (new), Original Sin and Death of an Expert Witness (both revisited on audio)

K -

L -

M - Ngaio Marsh: Death in a White Tie, Off With His Head (aka Death of a Fool) and Clutch of Constables (all revisited on audio)

N -

O - Emmuska Orczy: The Old Man in the Corner (new)

P -

Q -

R - J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith): The Cuckoo's Calling (new)

S -

T - Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair (both new)

U -

V -

W - Ethel Lina White: The Lady Vanishes (aka The Wheel Spins) and The Spiral Staircase (aka Some Must Watch) (both new)

X -

Y -

Z - Juli Zeh: Schilf (English title: Dark Matter) (new)


Free / center square:


On the card, I am only tracking new reads, not rereads.


Read, to date in 2018:

Books by female authors: 29

- new: 18

- rereads: 11


Books by male authors: 10

- new: 9

- rereads: 1


Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies:

- new:

- rereads:

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review 2018-02-27 17:13
An Enchantment of Ravens / Margaret Rogerson
An Enchantment of Ravens - Margaret Rogerson

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.


Actual rating: 4.25 stars. Better than your average Fae tale, but not quite up to the same bar as Cold Hillside by Nancy Baker, which for me sets the standard. I’ve been addicted to the Fae ever since I ran across them in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series and I am fortunate that so many authors continue to indulge my fascination!

This is the Fae the way I like them—dark, powerful, tricksy, slippery, unreliable and unaccountably interested in humans. As a portrait artist, Isobel must always be careful in her requests for payment, as a Fae spell can work for you for a while, but twist into something damaging later. She is always aware that she is only seeing the glamour of her portrait-sitters, not their true appearance—and they seem fascinated to discover exactly what Isobel sees. Does she see too much? As a seventeen year old, is she too innocent for her own good?

I am almost sad that this is a stand-alone volume and I will definitely be picking up anything that Ms. Rogerson publishes in the future.

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review 2018-02-27 16:37
Tell the Wolves I'm Home / Carol Rifka Brunt
Tell The Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt

1987. There's only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that's her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn's company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June's world is turned upside down. But Finn's death brings a surprise acquaintance into June's life - someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn's funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn's apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she's not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.


My real-life book club is indulging in a year of reading young adult literature, and this is our March selection. I am also using it to fulfill the “book about grief” selection for my 2018 PopSugar Challenge and the entry for B in my Female Authors A to Z challenge.

The main character, June, spends the course of the book figuring out the nature of love and grief in life. She realizes that we say “love” but that it can represent a variety of different emotions—between parents and children, between siblings, for good friends, even for favourite foods, as well as romantic connection. She learns about her mother’s estrangement from her brother, June’s beloved Uncle Finn. She navigates the yawning distance developing between her sister Greta and herself. She processes the loss of Finn and finds a new connection with his partner Toby.

What a great portrayal of life in all its messiness! If you’ve lived through some family rifts or somehow found yourself further away from a sibling that you ever believed possible, you will find something to hang onto in this novel. The relationships were realistic, not melodramatic or overdone. Although the grief was palpable in places, it didn’t send me rushing to a tissue box, like Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls.

I am constantly amazed at how much really good writing there is out there in the Young Adult genre—if you enjoy YA, add this one to your reading pile.

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review 2018-02-08 14:38
A series that actually gets better in the second book!
A Gathering of Shadows - Victoria Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows starts out following Lila who was a secondary, but significant, character in the first book of the series. Happy with accomplishing a transference to a London she likes better than the one she grew up in, she looks for a pirate ship to commandeer.


Lila is a little too efficient as a thief and fighter to be entirely believable, but it is Fantasy after all. In the second part of the book we get reacquainted with Kell, from the first book of the series. His brother, the prince, drags him into irresponsible situations for which Kell has to shoulder the blame all too often.


A tournament of elemental magic is to take place in the kingdom where Kell and the prince live and Lila draws near, in the company of a ship captain who has a reputation as a rogue, but a certain appeal to Lila.


This is one of those stories that starts slowly but becomes more and more interesting as it goes along. That both Lila and Kell have limitations and weaknesses came out more as the story went along and by the time they got to the competition, I was completely hooked into the story.


My one complaint is that it ended on not exactly a cliffhanger, but in a way that forces you to buy the third book to find out what happens. Luckily I've already got it and can continue.

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