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The Gates of Sleep

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In this novel as part of her Elemental Masters series, Lackey looks into the Romanticism movement of the late 1800s and then contrasts it with the growing Industrial world. The main character of the story has been raised by an adopted family as her own family fears for her safety and this creates an interesting dynamic as she tries to figure out where she belongs. Is she part of rich society or the more Bohemian lifestyle that she grew up among. This book like Phoenix and Ashes fairly closely follows the fairy tale that it retells, in this case Sleeping Beauty, the plot moves swiftly and effectively. It is one of the stronger entries in the Elemental Masters books because the world building is strong as are the characters.
Five Little Pigs: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

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This is a solid Agatha Christie which uses an interesting device of looking back at a crime that seems already solved. Poirot is approached by the daughter of a man who was murdered and who's wife was convicted for the crime, which she has only recently learned about. She asks Poirot to find out the truth. The way he does this is by interviewing the five suspects and asking them to write about their memories of the day of the murder and around it. This adds a nice change of voice in the book as their remembrances are presented, which gives the reader another sense of the characters. The story itself is one of the simpler ones of Christie's but this is a good book for showing her skill in the study of place and character.
Death and the Dancing Footman (The Ngaio Marsh Collection)

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Death and the Dancing Footman is an enjoyable Alleyn mystery where an eccentric has gathered together a group that all have connections and conflicts with each other and a playwright to see what happens. The set up has the feel of many mysteries of this era with the beautiful country house and the slightly elaborate set up around the actual murder. Marsh though improves upon this formula with her deft hand with the characters and her teasing acknowledgement of her genre. I would recommend this to any reader of Christie and Marsh as its a classic cozy mystery at its best.
Composed: A Memoir

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I found myself constantly crying as I read Composed due to how Cash was able to capture emotions in her words. This isn't a memoir that's written fully linearly instead Cash went with where the story of her life made sense to tell and its an amazing story. She grew up in California and was constantly connected and later a part of the music world and the family of country music. Throughout the memoir, she honestly looks at what it meant to be the daughter of Johnny Cash and what choices she has made in her life. I recommend this book to everyone as her voice is one of the finest I've read. My only regret as I was reading it was that I didn't have a CD of her collected songs to key up the right song at the right moment.
Boy: Tales of Childhood

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Dahl is one of my favorite authors and Boy is a joy to read with the various stories of his childhood that show his life. Some of the stories are hilarious and its wonderful to trace which ones clearly influenced his later works and how he speaks about constantly writing letters to his mother and the challenges of boarding school. One of my favorite parts of Boy and Flying Solo is how there are images within the book of his drawings and letters, it makes everything come together. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys his books children or adults.
The Course of Honour

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I adore Davis' Falco series set in Vespasian's Rome, its one of my favorite historical mysteries and if there's a new one, I always read it. This book is Davis' take on Vespasian's career told through the eyes of Caenis, the slave and then freedwoman who he loved throughout his entire life. We follow everything through Caenis' eyes. She is a slave in the palace and then later for Antonia, so has a unique perspective on the Claudians. The romance between Vespasian and Caenis is subtly presented as their lives are complicated in terms of class, money and politics. Davis handles it all deftly as well as weaving through it a knowledge of yes, we all know how this ends but lets play in the details. Reading this made me want to go and reread and rewatch I, Claudius, which examines the same general area in time, a masterful historical novel.
The Toll-Gate

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The main character of this book is just out of the army where he was known as Crazy Jack because nothing ever goes simply for him. The story starts as he's riding to visit a friend and then stops at a toll in the middle of the night because the gatekeeper's missing and ends up comforting and protecting his worried son. There's brilliant use of thieves' cant, a romance between two quite well-suited people, a highwayman that wants to be a farmer, a mystery including something hidden in a cave and an old man who will have things his way. If you've never read Heyer, this is a great way to start as it has all the best elements of her books; believable romance, wonderful feel for the Regency era, humor and beautiful language.
The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories

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As an avid reader of mysteries and literature, this collection was an amazing find. Sims has collected well known and little known mystery stories from the 1890s and put them all together in one place as well as writing a thoughtful introduction. Every story was a good read, some were scary and a few were even funny. I would recommend this book to someone who's read all of Doyle and Poe and is wondering what to read next. This provides a history lesson as well as chance to meet new authors.
Photo-Finish (The Ngaio Marsh Collection)

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This was one of Ngaio Marsh's last mysteries and is one of her most atmospheric as Alleyn and Troy are whisked off to an island in the South Island of New Zealand, so that Troy can paint a famous Italian soprano. The descriptions of New Zealand show Marsh's love for her home and numerous touches make this rather formulaic mystery about a diva opera star a beautiful way to visit New Zealand. In terms of the mystery, the main character has a tabloid photographer taking awful pictures of her and sending them and Alleyn's brought in to try and investigate, which he'd rather not do. Everything ends up complicated with a grand storm and an awful opera, but the strings all come together. I would recommend this to lovers of cozy mysteries such as Sayers or Christie and those who know New Zealand.
Unraveled

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I was lucky enough to win this book from the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books website and I adored it. The story is fairly simple, the two main characters are an actress who helps thieves and a strict magistrate who find themselves swept up together. One of the greatest strengths of this book is how honestly written the two characters are, nothing comes easily in the romance or every day life, they both have secrets and hang ups that keep getting in the way. It felt familiar but also the writing of the romance was steamy and wonderful. I plan on finding more of Milan's works and reading them all.
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