The Blind Contessa’s New Machine

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine

by Carey Wallace

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An iridescent jewel of a novel that proves love is the mother of invention

In the early 1800s, a young Italian contessa, Carolina Fantoni, realizes she is going blind shortly before she marries the town’s most sought-after bachelor. Her parents don’t believe her, nor does her fiancé. The only one who understands is the eccentric local inventor and her longtime companion, Turri. When her eyesight dims forever, Carolina can no longer see her beloved lake or the rich hues of her own dresses. But as darkness erases her world, she discovers one place she can still see-in her dreams. Carolina creates a vivid dreaming life, in which she can not only see, but also fly, exploring lands she had never known.

Desperate to communicate with Carolina, Turri invents a peculiar machine for her: the world’s first typewriter. His gift ignites a passionate love affair that will change both of their lives forever.

Based on the true story of a nineteenth-century inventor and his innovative contraption, The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is an enchanting confection of love and the triumph of the imagination.

2018 has been so crazy so far! Thankfully I managed to get some reading in despite the reviews not got out at a consistent rate. We’re starting March off with an interesting historical fiction.

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine follow’s the story of Carolina, the blind woman who inspired the creation of the first typewriter. The story is written from her perspective as she grows from child to woman, deals with matters of the heart, and struggles as the world turns dark around her.

The story is good. I enjoyed Carolina. She is an interesting woman with a pleasant mixture of stereotypical teenage girl characteristics (having crushes and trying her hardest to be a mature adult) and a refreshing intelligence driven by the wonders of nature. Like Carolina, I find contentment in being outdoors alone. She was refreshing and find to read. I enjoyed her friendship with Turri, and her quick whit even when she struggled with depression.

Wallace’s setting is brilliant. You can taste the sugar coated lemons; you can see the lights of the lake cabin beckoning in the darkness. Turri’s experiment are intricate without being tedious; especially the typewriter.

I even enjoyed the tough aspects of the story; the affairs of both Carolina and Pietro, the condescending statements concerning her blindness, the constant underlying feeling of being trapped in a passionless relationship. Wallace handled each masterfully, easily invoking an emotional connection to the characters when I normally would struggle.

Here There Be Spoilers! I didn’t like the ending. I will admit that it was brilliantly written by Wallace, BUT it was too openended for me. Those that have read The Blind Contessa’s New Machine will argue, “but Lindsay, it couldn’t end any other way.” I KNOW. I still wanted answers. I wanted to know if Pietro intercepted Carolina’s letter. I wanted to know Turri’s last words to his love. I wanted to know why it didn’t end with the happily ever after knowing that it could never end that way. And I was so frustrated with Carolina’s pig headed refusal to read that letter! So while the ending was fantastic, I am still over here throwing my sucker in the dirt and pouting.

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The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is a fantastic love story and an interesting fictionalization of the woman who inspired the creation of the typewriter. I wish there was more history available about the actual typewriter (history buffs may find this frustrating) but I still recommend it!

Have your read The Blind Contessa’s New Machine? Let me know what you think!

Lindsay

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Favorite 2017 Reads

I totally forgot to share my favorite reads of 2017! Looking back on the year I can say that my reading was ok. I read some fantastic books, but I struggled with my reading goals the first half of the year. Thankfully I was back to consistently reading, and writing reviews, after June. Still, I didn’t read as much as hoped so I am sharing only my top fiction and nonfiction reads of 2017.

(Note: these are new reads. I re-read Every Secret Thing, which will always be one of my favorite books. Considering it makes it less fair for all the other books.)

(Other random note: I read both of these via audiobook.)

Fiction

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

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I still find myself thinking about A Gentleman in Moscow. Months later I can still picture the ornate hotel decor, the taste of wines perfectly paired with exceptional food, and the overwhelming since of unconditional friendship that filled the pages. The imagery is enough to boost this book to the top of the list but Towles’ ability to pull readers in and invest them in every aspect of one man’s life makes this story one worth returning to again and again.

Nonfiction

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff

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I picked up Frozen in Time because, well honestly, it promised military aviation and arctic survival. How could I not pick it up?!? Two aspects propelled this book to the top of my list. The first is that this is a TRUE STORY! The second, Zuckoff’s writing has you there surviving on the ice with these airmen. There was many an afternoon where I was super irritated at having to put the book down. It was just fantastic.

I obviously recommend both of these stories, and I would love to hear about your favorites! Happy reading everyone.

Lindsay

Trio for Blunt Instruments

Trio for Blunt Instruments

by Rex Stout

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If Nero Wolfe and his sidekick, Archie, would ever admit to an Achilles’ heel-which they wouldn’t-it would be a weakness for damsels in distress. In these three charming chillers the duo answer the call of helpless heroines with nothing to lose-except their lives. First a beautiful young Aphrodite comes to Nero looking for a hero-and the answer to the mystery of her father’s death….Then an old flame of Archie’s reignites with a plan that may corner him into a lifetime commitment-behind bars….And finally a detective’s work is never done, as a hot tip leads the team into the sizzling center of a sexy scandal that could leave them cold-dead cold.

After a much needed month off, I am back with weekly book reviews!

So, you might know that I adore Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories. I tend to read my Nero Wolfe during the holidays because my mom and I like to binge watch the TV series over Christmas. Winter has always been a time for Nero Wolfe; however, Trio for Blunt Instruments would be better suited for a summer read. Trio of Blunt Instruments is a collection of 3 novellas (Kill Now Pay Later, Murder is Corny, and Blood Will Tell) in which the murders are committed with…you guessed it…a blunt instrument! Here are my thoughts on each story.

Kill Now Pay Later

Sadly, this is my least favorite of the three. I adored the murder victim, who was a hard working immigrant who works for Nero Wolfe, but his daughter, main female character, just fell flat. She is presented as an intelligent, hard working woman but the description never matched her actions. Her reactions to the men around her, men that were influencing her future, was distracted and halfhearted, and not in a way that could be explained away with grief. However, the murder is intriguing and I enjoy how Nero Wolfe gets involved and stands up for a man he respected no matter his assigned social status.

Murder is Corny

Definitely my favorite of the three! It may not be the most complex mystery of the three novellas, but I find the way Archie which is framed as the murder to be so simple, yet brilliant, that I find myself rereading that one scene over and over again. Murder is Corny was actually converted into a TV episode for the show. It was fantastically done, and stays true to the story, so I had the film version playing in my head, which only enhanced my reading. Plus, Wolfe’s dialogue on how to properly prepare summer corn will leave your mouth watering!

Blood Will Tell

The last novella, Blood Will Tell, presents the most complex murder. Archie is dragged in to a world of jealousy and manipulation when he is sent a bloody tie in the mail. What follows is a detailed look at the effects of individuals’ actions and the destructive nature of manipulation. My favorite aspect of the story is reading of Archie’s almost romantic wish for everything to turn out right for good people despite the negativity around him.

Trio for Blunt Instruments was a fun quick read that offered a variety of mysteries. It is the perfect book for a hot summer days, or those winter days where you long for summer weather. I definitely recommend it. Let me know what your favorite Nero Wolfe story is (mine is still The Black Orchids), and I would love to hear which books you are reading this winter!

Lindsay

2017 Recap and 2018 Goals

2017 Recap

I entered the Goodreads Challenge with the goal of completing 40 books in 2017.

Total Read: 37 books

  • Nonfiction: 5
  • Fiction: 32

I didn’t finish as many books as I would have liked but I was happy at how close I came despite struggling with a reading slum both in the Winter AND Summer. I was also happy that I started reading more nonfiction during the latter half of the year. You may remember, my second 2017 goal was to read 5 specific nonfiction books. I only managed to read two of them (Descent Into Darkness and The Poisoner’s Handbook). 2017 was not what I would call an amazing reading year but I am still happy with the progress I made. I rediscovered my love for historic nonfiction and started 2018 excited to read!

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2018 Goals

This year I am planning on keeping my goals simple. I am signing up for the Goodreads Challenge (you should join me!) and am aiming for 50 books read this year. I could have easily surpassed this number last year if not for those pesky reading slumps! I also am setting a Nonfiction goal for myself. My goal is for at least 12 of the books I read this year to be Nonfiction. I am not going to pick a specific list to read, but instead go where my mood sends me!

Total Books: 50

Nonfiction: 12

What are your 2018 goals? What books are you excited to read this year? Do you have any books I should check out!? Let me know! And Happy Reading!

Lindsay

 

 

The Poisoner’s Handbook

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

by Deborah Blum

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Deborah Blum, writing with the high style and skill for suspense that is characteristic of the very best mystery fiction, shares the untold story of how poison rocked Jazz Age New York City. In The Poisoner’s Handbook Blum draws from highly original research to track the fascinating, perilous days when a pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime.

Drama unfolds case by case as the heroes of The Poisoner’s Handbook—chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler—investigate a family mysteriously stricken bald, Barnum and Bailey’s Famous Blue Man, factory workers with crumbling bones, a diner serving poisoned pies, and many others. Each case presents a deadly new puzzle and Norris and Gettler work with a creativity that rivals that of the most imaginative murderer, creating revolutionary experiments to tease out even the wiliest compounds from human tissue. Yet in the tricky game of toxins, even science can’t always be trusted, as proven when one of Gettler’s experiments erroneously sets free a suburban housewife later nicknamed “America’s Lucretia Borgia” to continue her nefarious work.

From the vantage of Norris and Gettler’s laboratory in the infamous Bellevue Hospital it becomes clear that killers aren’t the only toxic threat to New Yorkers. Modern life has created a kind of poison playground, and danger lurks around every corner. Automobiles choke the city streets with carbon monoxide; potent compounds, such as morphine, can be found on store shelves in products ranging from pesticides to cosmetics. Prohibition incites a chemist’s war between bootleggers and government chemists while in Gotham’s crowded speakeasies each round of cocktails becomes a game of Russian roulette. Norris and Gettler triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice during a remarkably deadly time. A beguiling concoction that is equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller, The Poisoner’s Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten New York.

My husband and I are both fans of documentaries, and one lazy weekend we discovered The Poisoner’s Handbook on Netflix. It was fantastic! The film covered the development of forensic science in New York during the 1920s/1930s. It detailed the lives of the innovators of the field, Norris and Gettler, while also providing detailed examples of the various poisons and substances studied. I LOVED IT! To date I have watched that documentary 6-7 times. And then I realized it was based on a book, so of course I had to read it!

I picked up The Poisoner’s Handbook as part of Nonfiction November (I read two books for that challenge. The other was Frozen in Time) My opinion was the same for the book as the movie…it was fantastic!

Blum’s writing style easy to follow, as it is informative without being insultingly simplistic. The presentation follows a relatively chronological process from the initial development of the medical examiner’s office and forensic investigation department to the establishment of national forensic standards. Yet, this information is provided strategically throughout the story. Each chapter is dedicated to an individual poison, providing stories of actual criminal cases, the process of testing for each poison, and how each substance impacted the growth of the forensic department. I turned the last page feeling as if I personally knew both Norris and Gettler. And Blum’s inclusion of actual criminal cases kept The Poisoner’s Handbook engaging, educational, and downright intriguing!

I personally do not have a negative opinion to share, but I do want to note that most of the bad reviews of The Poisoner’s Handbook concern the actual science. I am an archaeologist/historian/writer by training and trade; I know absolutely nothing about chemistry. I cannot attest to the validity of the science documented in this book. I trust Blum’s presentation, but that’s all I can do at this point. I will say that these negative reviews have me wanting to read and learn more about this topic.

I will recommend this book, and the documentary, to anyone remotely interested in the history of criminology and forensic investigation. I find this to be a very tumultuous and interesting time in American history, and one that I am always eager to learn more about. Let me know if you’ve ready The Poisoner’s Handbook. I want to know what you think!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Lindsay

Murder for Christmas

Murder for Christmas

by Francis Duncan

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A festive mystery for the holiday season: mulled wine, mince pies… and murder

When Mordecai Tremaine arrives at the country retreat of one Benedict Grame on Christmas Eve, he discovers that the revelries are in full swing in the sleepy village of Sherbroome–but so too are tensions amongst the assortment of guests.

When midnight strikes, the partygoers discover that presents aren’t the only things nestled under the tree…there’s a dead body too. A dead body that bears a striking resemblance to Father Christmas. With the snow falling and suspicions flying, it’s up to Mordecai to sniff out the culprit–and prevent anyone else from getting murder for Christmas.

So yall may know that I am a sucker for holiday themed mysteries, especially Christmas (lets be honest..Halloween is really the only other holiday themed mysteries I read). So I scoured Audible for a fun Christmas mystery and stumbled on Murder for Christmas. I couldn’t say no to a snowy British Christmas, a historic home, and a dead Father Christmas. Murder for Christmas turned out to be the perfect holiday read!

I absolutely loved the setting! Mordecai Tremaine, amateur sleuth, is invited to a traditional Christmas at the country home of an acquaintance. The story takes place in a large historic home surrounded by snow and all the traditional holiday trimmings. It was fun wandering the halls investigating the inhabitants with Tremaine. Duncan does a fantastic job providing with a variety of unique and quirky characters that kept the story engaging. Most were steeped in layers that were slowly peeled off throughout the story. I found myself actively trying to figure out whodunnit and i as happy to be (mostly) surprised by the big reveal at the end. Also, the voice actor was fantastic! I definitely recommend the audio version of Murder for Christmas.

And, I liked Mordecai Tremaine. I loved that he secretly indulged in romance stories and that he couldn’t help but investigate those sharing the holiday with him. I especially enjoyed how kind he was. He was a gentleman to a fault and a romantic dreamer. The writing can be a bit pushy and a tad antiquated at times, but I have a feeling I will continue the series just because of Mordecai Tremaine.

I will note that Mystery lovers may find Tremaine to be very blunt and a tad heavy handed in his investigation. He was very forward with his questioning resulting in the people being questioned closing up on him on numerous occasions. I was initially irked at this style but eventually decided it was just part of his charm.

Murder for Christmas is the perfect story for those needing a little mystery during this holiday season. Let me know what mysteries you’re reading this weekend!

Merry Christmas!

Lindsay

The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale

by Katherine Arden

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

The Bear and the Nightingale is set in the 1300s in the northern forests of the Land of Rus’. Our main character, Vasilisa, or Vasya, is a gifted girl who must fight to save her father’s land from being destroyed by the evil spirit, Bear. Vasya struggles to find her place in a world where women have set tasks while her people attempt to find a balance between old and new beliefs.

I have strong conflicting thoughts about The Bear and the Nightingale. The aspects I enjoyed had me finishing the book over a weekend, but the aspects I disliked have left me reluctant to recommend it.

Let’s start with the things I liked. I adored the relationship between Dunya and Vasya. It was so kind, understanding, and nurturing. I found myself smiling while reading of Dunya doing her best to ‘tame’ the young Vasya, and failing miserably. I also loved the relationships between the siblings, especially between Vasya and Alyosha. The setting was fantastic. Arden’s prose had me immersed in the winter woods from the first word. I could smell the mead, feel the warmth of the fire, hear the faint crunch of snow underfoot, and embrace the struggle of the harvest. She kept me yearning for more information as each of the old world spirits emerged on the page. And Morozco…he was the main character that kept me reading. Just the complexity of his existence and the depth of his secrets are enough to carry the whole story. I wanted to know the details of his thoughts, his plans, his powers.

After that you’re probably wondering why I didn’t love The Bear and the Nightingale. Well, Iwould have preferred the book to be a standalone instead of the first in the series, which would have allowed for more questions to be answered by the end. I will note the pacing was very well done for a debut novel, though there were moments, such as the final battle, where I longed for more detail. And Arden is definitely able to provide unique and detailed characters. But still, I couldn’t commit to loving this story.

There are two reasons for this. First, I did not like how Christianity was handled. I liked how the village people mixed their old beliefs with their new religion. I understood the priest’s drive to rid the village of the old ways. However, I did not like how the religion was portrayed. At all. And this isn’t because I am a Christian. It was because the portrayal was only negative. All priests were political, power hungry people. Konstantin was a vain, cruel, selfcentered man who manipulated his ‘flock’ for personal entertainment. I know the religion was quite different in the 1300s but it only focuses on the need to fear God with not a single positive attribute of the faith shared. Honestly, the only time the church was painted in a remotely positive light was through Sasha’s eyes. I could make myself get past this if it wasn’t for the second point.

Second, I despised Anna. Sure we shouldn’t like the evil stepmother, but I despised EVERYTHING about her. From the madness, the religious fervor, the cruelty towards her stepdaughter, and the recurring issue of marital rape; she didn’t have one single redeeming trait. And I was relieved **SPOILER** when she finally died. The marital rape was unnerving. I get that it was part of the time and culture, but it was still hard to read. However, I couldn’t bring myself to even pity Anna because she was so horrid. She was too one-sided. The lack of empathy I felt for her made it hard to read, and I wished she was more developed. (And I admit to having a hard time reading the rape and ‘women’s role’ scenes)

Will I continue with the series? I want to say yes because I am intrigued by Morozco. And because I enjoyed how hauntingly dark The Bear and the Nightingale is. Still, I don’t see myself clamoring to pick up the next book. I do however look forward to Arden’s development as a writer. I find her background in history and cultures interesting and I think her writing, and story telling, will just continue to improve as time passes.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Lindsay

Walden on Wheels

Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road From Debt to Freedom

by Ken Ilgunas

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In this memoir, Ken Ilgunas lays bare the existential terror of graduating from the University of Buffalo with $32,000 of student debt. Ilgunas set himself an ambitious mission: get out of debt as quickly as possible. Inspired by the frugality and philosophy of Henry David Thoreau, Ilgunas undertook a 3-year transcontinental journey, working in Alaska as a tour guide, garbage picker, and night cook to pay off his student loans before hitchhiking home to New York.

Debt-free, Ilgunas then enrolled in a master’s program at Duke University, determined not to borrow against his future again. He used the last of his savings to buy himself a used Econoline van and outfitted it as his new dorm. The van, stationed in a campus parking lot, would be more than an adventure—it would be his very own Walden on Wheels.

Freezing winters, near-discovery by campus police, and the constant challenge of living in a confined space would test Ilgunas’s limits and resolve in the two years that followed. What had begun as a simple mission would become an enlightening and life-changing social experiment.

I discovered Walden on Wheels by complete accident. It just flashed up on my Amazon when I was looking for something else. Honestly, I kinda felt it was a sign screaming ‘READ THIS BOOK NOW!’ Especially, when I realized the book was partially about getting out of school debt. I was definitely hooked when I learned the author managed to get through grad school debt free! I had to read it. (Side Note: I’m up to my eyeballs in student loan debt thanks to a Bachelors and Masters degree…neither of which I actually use at my job)

I have mixed feelings about Walden on Wheels. I’m going to do something different and start with my negative thoughts. (Stick with me folks cause I promise it ends on a happy note) First, Ilgunas and I have different political views. Now, I can totally respect that difference but there were a few times the overly idealized, judgy, and often conflicting comments by the author were a tad irritating. Nothing that made me want to throw the book down in anger, but elicited frustrated eyerolls at certain passages.

One of my biggest complaints with autobiographies is that they are rarely objective. They can’t be. And the majority of negative reviews of Walden on Wheels concerns the author’s opinions on the people around him: the drunks of Alaska, the uneducated fornicators of Alabama, his burned out wage slave parents, the mindless drones at school. At times his passages are exhaustingly judgmental. It seems like the author only focuses on the negative. Until, you realize he isn’t. That he make himself focus on the positive aspects of each person. Then you realize the author’s harsh focus on negative personality traits is a projection of the feared deficit of his own personality

I enjoyed the book. I felt Ilgunas was able to look at his journey in a constructive manner and focus on bettering himself. I found his accomplishments impressive!Ssure he may have used a jobless guy living in his van who dumps is piss bucket at stoplights as a roll model (seriously!?) but Ilgunas rose above continuing to work, feeding himself, and finding jobs where he could help people. Walden on Wheels is a story of a man coming to age. A kid watching the world around him, terrified of being trapped in a soul sucking existence with no adventure. And that is something in which I can relate.

I will admit to struggling through a couple of days of depression while reading Walden on Wheels. Why am I working a job just to pay bills? Why, oh why, did I take out all those student loans? Where can I buy a van? See, my husband and I have discussed the possibility of van camping a number of times, and I was ready for us to cash out and just go. But after multiple cups of coffee, and a reevaluation of my goals, I decided that I’m right were I need to be at the moment. Instead of quitting my job and hitting the road, I decided that it was time to just be better with my money. To count pennies as Ilgunas had. And I decided to focus on my hobbies, whether it be flying, hiking, or just reading a good book curled up on the couch. It was time I took more joy from the things that make me truly happy. It was time to go outside and reconnect with nature.

Give Walden on Wheels a read. It will make you think about your own life. No matter your political views or socio-economic opinions, personal evaluation is usually a good thing. And it will make you laugh!

I hope you’re enjoying your holiday reading. Let me know if you’ve read Walden on Wheels, or any of Ilgunas’ other work.

Lindsay

 

A Christmas Beginning

A Christmas Beginning

by Anne Perry

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Whatever the season, a new novel by bestselling author Anne Perry is always a wonderful gift, but her holiday novels are particularly special treats, and A Christmas Beginning is a deeply felt story of passion and redemption.

Superintendent Runcorn of Scotland Yard is spending Christmas on the wild and beautiful island of Anglesey off the north coast of Wales. On one of his solitary strolls, the lonely bachelor stumbles upon a lifeless body in the village churchyard. The unfortunate victim is quickly identified as Olivia Costain, the local vicar’s younger sister.

In life, Olivia had been a free spirit, full of charm and grace. For Runcorn, she is a haunting reminder of Melisande Ewart, the one woman he’s never been able to forget. Everyone on Anglesey is quick to insist that only a stranger to the island could have committed the heinous crime. But the evidence proves otherwise, and the unpopular work of discovering who among Olivia’s friends and neighbors–and numerous eligible suitors–is a ruthless killer falls to Runcorn. A plebian outsider in the drawing rooms of the snobbish local gentry, Runcorn never dreams that the key that will unlock the secrets of Olivia’s life and death may also, miraculously, open the door to a new future for himself.

Last December I was struggling to find a historical fiction novel that had a good mystery and involved Christmas in some form. Goodreads kept recommending Anne Perry, and I picked up a few of her novels at the local library. Sadly, there was always something that had me putting the books down by the end of the first chapter. I just couldn’t embrace the characters, or the mystery didn’t intrigue me. I finally picked up the audio version of A Christmas Beginning and it satisfied my Christmas mystery needs.

I won’t provide a summary of the story as the synopsis above does a pretty good job, but I do want to start the review by saying that I wasn’t a huge fan of A Christmas Beginning. With that being said, I am going to state the positives first. I really liked Superintendent Runcorn. I found his gruff personality, subtle kindness, and struggles with self confidence endearing and I would probably love a tv show staring him. He wasn’t perfect, and that’s is what kept me reading. I also enjoyed the murder mystery. The brutality of Olivia Costain’s murder was shocking and stark for the setting, and it may seem morbid, but it was perfect. I was glued to the investigation because 1. I had to know why this murder happened the way it did and 2. I wanted Runcorn to succeed so badly.

Now, you may be asking why I wasn’t a huge fan of this novel after those last two points. It’s because of the writing style. There were times when the prose was tedious and repetitive, and I lost count of the number of times Runcorn was reminded of his social standing and the proper way of everything. Yes, I know it was a different time with different social rules and groups, but the reiteration of this point every few minutes was downright annoying. I also felt aspects of the investigation and reveal were too hurried, which in my opinion, diminished the brutal effect of Olivia’s murder. When I think back on the story months later my initial response is ‘eh.’

Will I be reading another Anne Perry Christmas story this December? Nope. But, I do want to hear from those who love this author and her stories as she is such a staple in the historical fiction community. Please let me know your recommendations, because I loved Runcorn enough to maybe give Perry another try.

What are you reading this Christmas?

Lindsay

Frozen in Time

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II

by Mitchell Zuckoff

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II

Frozen in Time is a gripping true story of survival, bravery, and honor in the vast Arctic wilderness during World War II, from the author of New York Times bestseller Lost in Shangri-La.

On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on board survived, and the US military launched a daring rescue operation. But after picking up one man, the Grumman Duck amphibious plane flew into a severe storm and vanished.

Frozen in Time tells the story of these crashes and the fate of the survivors, bringing vividly to life their battle to endure 148 days of the brutal Arctic winter, until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen brought them to safety. Mitchell Zuckoff takes the reader deep into the most hostile environment on earth, through hurricane-force winds, vicious blizzards, and subzero temperatures.

Moving forward to today, he recounts the efforts of the Coast Guard and North South Polar Inc. – led by indefatigable dreamer Lou Sapienza – who worked for years to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight and recover the remains of its crew.

A breathtaking blend of mystery and adventure Mitchell Zuckoff’s Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II is also a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of our military personnel and a tribute to the everyday heroism of the US Coast Guard.

Frozen in Time is a fantastic story of survival that everyone needs to read. There. I said it. Read this book now!

But I guess I should give you an actual review 😜. Zuckoff’s writing is descriptive and engaging. His words pulled me right into the story, making it difficult to turn off my audiobook when I had reached my destination. Zuckoff expertly shares details about each individual, leaving you feeling as if each is an old friend and desperately yearning to know their fate. Any aviation lover will adore this story as much of the book is also dedicated to the aircraft utilized by these men, specifically a B-17 Flying Fortress and a Grumman Duck. I’m not lying when I say I was almost as concern for the aircraft as I was for the men aboard.

The survival story of these men is so unbelievable that you will have to keep reminding yourself this is not fiction. This ACTUALLY happened. The retelling of physical and mental suffering, small acts of kindness, and unhesitating acts of self sacrifice left me in tears of awe on a number of occasions. Guys, I’m not ashamed to admit that i’m crying writing this review. These men were willing to do anything to save each other, and didn’t blink an eye at the danger of losing their own lives. It is a wonderful testament to the courageous actions of men of the Army, Army Aircorp, and Coast Guard!

My only negative thoughts concern the modern aspects of the story, where the author joins an exhibition team in search of locating the lost Grumman Duck. I have no complaints about the writing, which continued to be excellent, but instead found myself irritated by the people involved with the search. Spoilers folks! This part of the novel was fraught with petty squabbles, poor planning, and constant chaos. I spent a few years doing field work and these passages left my eye twitching on numerous occasions. I never doubted the commitment of all involved, but I felt that a better job should have been done on a trip of such importance. *grumble eye twitch grumble* Rant over!

READ IT! Buy Frozen in Time for your loved ones for Christmas! This is an amazing story of survival that needs to be shared! Let me know what you think.

Lindsay