One of my childhood idols, Carmen Sandiego, returns to screens this month when Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt and Netflix team up to bring us an animated reboot of the world-class thief’s origin story.
Carmen, played by Jane The Virgin‘s Gina Rodriguez, must come to terms with her orphaned upbringing on a mysterious island when she makes contact with Player, a young hacker from the outside world played by Stranger Things’s Finn Wolfhard. As we learn more about Carmen’s past, the story takes some new and surprising turns that put Carmen more in the middle of the war between ACME and VILE than ever before. A colorful and diverse cast of characters brings Carmen’s fact-filled world to life, with many returning characters taking on new roles in a world dominated by a single red trenchcoat and fedora.
I definitely binge-watched all nine episodes when they were released on January 18th, and loved every second of it. Ivy, Max, and the Chief are back in action, and ACME and VILE are up to their old antics. Carmen is still the brilliant and yet humble thief extraordinaire we all know and loved to look up to as young girls, and the red is here to stay. I’m all about the new twists they’ve put on Carmen’s world, and seeing everything from her point of view for the first time ever just makes her even more inspiring. I might even call this show the kid-friendly version of Alias. If you’re looking for a strong female character your children can look up to, look no further than Carmen Sandiego.
You can find Carmen Sandiego streaming now on Netflix.
The Collector’s Apprentice takes readers into the whirling world of art collecting in the 1920s. Paulien Mertens is only nineteen when she meets the dashing George Everard, but when things mysteriously fall to pieces she finds herself exiled to Paris alone and nearly penniless. Drawing on her education and previous work in the art world, Paulien pieces together a new life as the assistant to Edwin Bradley, an up and coming American art collector who seeks to open a museum near Philadelphia. As she weaves her way through Parisian society, Paulien meets wonderful people like Gertrude Stein, Henri Matisse, and Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. When George finally turns up, things are not as they seem, and Paulien is sent into a tailspin that nearly ruins everything she has built.
Shapiro’s new work tells the story of how one girl came back from the brink stronger, smarter, and braver than ever. It is part coming-of-age, part mystery, part heist novel. Paulien and George provide intriguing lenses through which we discover the events of the story. Indeed, all of the characters’s colorful descriptions paint a picture of Europe and America in the 1920s that is lush and many-layered. The plot thickens gradually, and the shocking finish does not disappoint.
I thoroughly enjoyed this foray into the art world and adored returning to 1920’s Paris, which, if you’ve read my reviews for Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald or Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, you’ll know I have a bit of an obsession with. While it did not always grip me the way Z and The Paris Wife did, I simultaneously identified and sympathized with Shapiro’s characters, and her storytelling is top notch. The nuggets of information are there for you to guess the ending, though I must confess that I did not, which a refreshing turn of events! I would recommend The Collector’s Apprentice to anyone who enjoys a good historical coming-of-age story or enjoys con artists as main characters.
HHC Rating: 4.75 Stars
The Collector’s Apprentice hits shelves today, and Shapiro will be on tour through December promoting it. You can find the local stops on her tour schedule below, and find the book on Goodreads as well. A huge thanks to Brittani at Algonquin books for thinking of me when it came time for reviews and provided me with an e-ARC to read in exchange for my honest opinions. I loved it! But don’t just take my word for it. Here are some of the advanced praises for The Collector’s Apprentice:
“Shapiro delivers a clever and complex tale of art fraud, theft, scandal, murder, and revenge. [Her] portrayal of the 1920s art scene in Paris and Philadelphia is vibrant, and is populated by figures like Alice B. Toklas and Thornton Wilder; readers will be swept away by this thoroughly rewarding novel.”
“Dazzling and seductive, The Collector’s Apprentice is a tour de force—an exhilarating tale of shifting identities, desire, and intrigue set between 1920s Paris and Philadelphia. Shapiro is a master at melding historical and fictional characters to bring the past alive on the page, and in The Collector’s Apprentice she has forged an exquisite, multilayered story that maps the cogent and singular fire of a young woman’s ambition and the risks she will take for the sake of art.”
—Dawn Tripp, bestselling author of Georgia
“I was engrossed in every twist and turn in this compulsively captivating page-turner, all the way until its astonishing denouement. Shapiro has done it again!”
—Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Space Between Us
B. A. Shapiro is the New York Times bestselling author of The Muralist and The Art Forger, which won the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Boston Authors Society Award for Fiction, among other honors. Her books have been selected as Community Reads in numerous cities and have been translated into over ten languages. Shapiro has taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University. She divides her time between Boston and Florida along with her husband, Dan, and their dog, Sagan. Her website is www.bashapirobooks.com.
The Collector’s Apprentice Press Tour
Stops in New England
Tuesday, October 16 — 7:00pm
279 Harvard St.
Brookline, MA 02446
Wednesday, October 17 — 7:00pm
9 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Thursday, October 18 — 6:00pm
4869 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT 05255
Friday, October 19 — 7:00pm
82 Central St
Wellesley, MA 02482
Wednesday, November 7 — 7:00pm
RJ Julia Booksellers
768 Boston Post Rd
Madison, CT 06443
Thursday, November 8 — 7:00pm
273 Congress St.
Portland, ME 04101
Tuesday, November 20 — 7:00pm
Point Street Reading Series
71 Richmond St, 2nd Floor
Providence, RI 02903
Monday, November 26 — 3:00pm
432 Route 6A
East Sandwich, MA 02537
Tuesday, November 27 — 7:00pm
An Unlikely Story
111 South Street
Plainville, MA 02762
Wednesday, November 28 — 7:00pm
Savoy Bookshop & Café
10 Canal St.
Westerly, RI 02891
Thursday, November 29 — 7:00pm
79 Leonard St
Belmont, MA 02478
–Author Bio, Advanced Blurbs, and tour dates courtesy of Michael McKenzie and Brittani Hilles at Algonquin Books.
Evangeline O’Neill has special powers. She can see important moments in a person’s life just by holding something that belongs to them. This talent, of course, is not accepted in Zenith, Ohio. After a particularly bad evening of illegal drinking, the seventeen-year-old is shipped off to New York City to live with her bachelor uncle, William Fitzgerald, who runs The Museum of Creepy Crawlies, and his mysterious assistant, Jericho. Evie reunites with her childhood friend and the daughter of revolutionists, Mabel, as well as some new friends including Theta, a showgirl, and her brother Henry, a piano player, a thief named Sam, and a numbers runner named Memphis who might just be magical himself. Life can’t be the berries forever though, and before long Evie is called upon to use her powers to help stop a murderer before he raises the antichrist and wipes out all of man kind. Just another summer in 1920s New York, right?
I’ve heard about this book on and off since it came out in 2012, and I finally picked it up from the library in August of 2017. Definitely not disappointing! While the writing is easy to follow (except for the 20s slang, which I had to look up) and the chapters are short, the gruesomeness and maturity of the plot and characters’ thoughts definitely put this book squarely in the Young Adult category. If the reading level were a little higher I might even put it in adult, even though over half of the characters are ages 17-19.
If you can’t stand gore in your books, don’t read this. About half of the murders are detailed, and all of the bodies are described once they are discovered. If I was close to stopping my reading more the night and I knew a murder chapter was imminent, I would stop before it so I didn’t have it running around my brain all night long. Not that it really helped, because I still knew it was coming, so my brain usually decided to try and guess how it would go down *facepalm*. In that regard, I’m glad I’ve finished the book. At the same time, I’m sad to let the world go for a while until I get the next book. Bray’s version of 1920s New York City positively shines. I found myself wishing I could visit for the weekend (sans murders) to visit the theatres and clubs she describes in such vibrant detail. The buildings and the city are just as much characters as the human (and not so human) population.
If I were a cry-in-the-corner type of person, my horror-hating-soul would be doing that, because I don’t like being terrified of what’s coming, but I’m a bloody Gryffindor, and we don’t show fear, so I just marched on and kept reading. Overall, I think the horror aspects were very well balanced with the daily life in the 1920s and the mystery parts, which made me quite enjoy myself despite the demons lurking in the shadows.
Definitely pick this up if you have any interest in America’s supernatural history (I’m personally hoping one of the books in this quartet focuses on the witch trials), or if you adore 1920s period fiction, or if you liked Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, because this book is pos-i-tute-ly for you. Also, this cover is magic. I love it.
HHC Rating: 5 Stars
Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Lair of Dreams
Book #3 – Before The Devil Breaks You
Book #4 – Untitled – TBD
Struggling writer Lena London is handed the opportunity of a lifetime when her best friend sets her up with a job as the assistant and ghostwriter to her favorite author of all time, Camilla Graham. As an added bonus, Lena gets to live in Camilla’s beautiful Gothic home overlooking the quiet town of Blue Lake, Indiana.
No town stays quiet for long, however, when you write mysteries and have an alleged murderer for a next door neighbor. Before long, a body appears on the lake shore near Camilla’s home and the ladies become embroiled in solving the case before the wrong person ends up behind bars.
Full disclosure, this story takes place in the autumn, which just makes the scenery that much more wonderful. The rich mix of scenery, characters, and plot make this a delightful read that sucks you in from the first chapter.
Lena is lovely and has just the right amount of admiration for her esteemed new boss. I identify with Lena. She loves books. She has a degree in writing. She is in her middle twenties and trying to find her place in the world amid the ever shifting relationships between parents, friends, bosses, and significant others. I just wish I had a few good looking romantic options in my life – because a cozy mystery wouldn’t be a cozy mystery without a dash of romance, am I right?
A Dark and Stormy Murder has plenty of layers. There is the book that Lena and Camilla are writing, the mystery of Sam West’s missing wife, the body on the beach, the various budding relationships between characters, and Lena’s attempts to settle into her new hometown. I love everything about this book, and I can’t wait to read more in the Writer’s Apprentice Mysteries series!
HHC Rating: 5 Stars.
Other Books In This Series:
Book #2 – Murder in Dark Blue(Review coming in September!)
Book #3 – A Dark and Twisting Path
Book #4 – Death Waits in the Dark
Wynonna Earp has been running all her life. Hated by nearly everyone in her small town and thought to be off her rocker by the rest, she had no intention of ever returning to Purgatory. Brought home by the sudden and mysterious death of her uncle, Wynonna gets drawn into a quest for redemption that has been plaguing her family for decades.
First off, the diversity in this show is so SO good. Secondly, the number of strong female characters is pretty darn high and that rules. When it comes to the romances, the chemistry and build up isn’t always 100% there, but there is plenty of comical awkwardness to make up for it. I’m not a fan of zombies, but these zombie-esque monsters have been great so far. Even though it’s quite a gory show, it’s still fairly stomachable.
Wynonna, as the title character, is the focus of the show. However, there are plenty of cast regulars that hold their own and often have large storylines of their own. Wynonna’s kid sister, the black-ops agent sent to look into Purgatory’s strange occurrences, the local law enforcement, and even well-known historical characters are all well developed and intriguing to follow along their own paths that criss-cross Wynonna’s life.
To be honest, what I loved most about this show was the old-timey-western nods because I’m a fan of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, but with the season finale, the show takes a turn towards decidedly more Syfy Channel material. I’m still not sure how I feel about it since it was all only in the finale, but I’m just not quite as excited to watch season two as I was season one.
Besides the old-west vibes, I really enjoyed the snarky streak that runs in the Earp family. Waverly’s clearly developed because she is continually underestimated and therefore needs to speak up to get a word in edgewise, while Wynonna built her’s up as a shield against everything being thrown at her. The snark and sarcasm are often used to diffuse awkward situations – usually by making them even more awkward until someone gives up and walks out – and it adds a lot of humor to the show.
Overall, I really really enjoyed this one. Not only is it a win for female characters, it’s a win for diversity as a whole with its character backgrounds, sexuality, and even age. This show encompasses so many good things, and the plot and it’s execution across all 13 episodes of season one are fantastic to boot. I definitely recommend that you go watch it immediately so you won’t have too much catching up to do! The finale cliffhanger(s) are killer, and season two just started at the beginning of June on Syfy in the US, Space in Canada, and Spike in the UK.
When nothing news-worthy comes her way, Lois is stuck writing a human interest story about an artist painting a community mural. Not her idea of great. It does, however, put her in a prime location to see someone she knows collapse in the street in a bad part of town. On top of that, she’s got a maybe-maybe-not virtual boyfriend and a convicted ex-mayor who might just be innocent to deal with. Once again, Lois Lane is in over her head with only one way out: solve the mystery, and get her story.
This sequel to Bond’s first Lois Lane adventure, Fallout, is even better than the first. Now that the characters have been established, the reader gets to learn more about the city that serves as the backdrop to this wonderful series. Metropolis is a big city on a small island, and Lois Lane is determined to protect every part of it from evil, whether that means going up against principles, mayors, or mobsters.
I really enjoyed the flow of the plot in this one. There weren’t many slow parts, I was never bored, and the twists were timed perfectly for effectiveness. While I wasn’t kept guessing at everything until the end, I did enjoy how Bond had Lois put the puzzle pieces together. The character relationships are all developing and morphing, which I find immensely interesting.
The secondary storyline was almost too much for me, but I found that it fit well in the end, and after all life doesn’t wait for it to be a convenient time to drop issues on you. While it does complicate Lois’ storyline, I like that she has this connection with Clark even though he’s not physically in her life. It adds another dimension to her character, and also somewhat polarizes the two parts of her life as business and emotional. I’m interested to see where Bond takes that relationship in relation to the rest of Lois’ life.
Ultimately, this book was well-written and the action did not disappoint. Definitely recommended if you enjoyed the first one or if you enjoy Superman/Lois Lane stories. I still feel that Lois is just the antidote to the superpower-dominated major hero category that we all need in our lives. Her values and gumption are just the sorts of things that people everywhere can look up to and aspire to with rationality rather than impossibility.
Before Superman came to Metropolis, the city had another unlikely hero: Lois Lane. The daughter of an army general, Lois has moved more times than she can count and she’s been kicked out of even more schools. When her father takes a permanent assignment in the city, Lois does her best to put down roots and avoid trouble, but it seems trouble isn’t done with her just yet. Before long Lois is on the case of some school bullies with freaky mind control talents, and she’s landed a brand new student reporter job to help her figure it out.
A series based on Lois Lane pre-Superman? Sign me up! As a child, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher was one of my favorite shows, though I probably watched it mostly in reruns since it originally aired from ’93-’97 when I was still a toddler. I always though Lois was SO cool. She was probably my first female hero, actually. I started writing my own newspapers soon after that so you can see what a major influence the show and the character had on me, haha! Anyway, ever since then I’ve been very interested in Superman and especially Lois, who is just a bad a** reporter who only really needs saving because she falls in love with Superman and then everyone puts her in danger to get his attention. But this series is before Superman really exists.
Lois is just a normal high school student, struggling with the inequalities of this world. The story in Fallout started a little slow, and with my brain stuck in the 90’s (or actually, high school would have been the late 70’s or 80’s for Hatchet’s Lois), I wasn’t prepared for virtual reality headsets and cellphones. Once I accustomed myself to the fact that everything was happening in the modern day, I got sucked right in. Lois is spectacular – spunky, brave, smart, good, and a heavy dose of reckless. And her foes are on a level equal with anything Lex Luthor ever threw at Superman.
The vibrant characters, the high-tech backdrop with a side of high school politics and a heavy dose of up-and-coming reporter combined with murky intentions and fierce foes has created an immersive and captivating world that I can’t wait to explore more of in the next two announced books in the series. Lois Lane is the kind of hero everyone needs in their lives right now: no powers, just morals and smarts. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves Superman and Lois, but especially to anyone interested in journalism or female heroes. Lois Lane is just one of those role models you’ll want to come back to again and again.
Maria Dark is returning to Connecticut for the first time in 15 years, ready to start over surrounded by her family at their little house between Bell Stream and the big old brick women’s prison. Not everything is as wonderful as she dreams, however, and soon everyone’s secrets begin to make life in the sleepy seaside town of Hatauquitit complicated, and even downright dangerous.
I picked this book up in August 2016 while I was babysitting in Boston. I was running out of things to read because I hadn’t anticipated just how much a 4-month-old can sleep when I came upon this book in one of those Little Free Libraries. I was intrigued by the title, cover, and location of the story, and brought it home with me. It didn’t hurt that Maria is a “nomad archaeologist” and I just thought that sounded extra cool.
The story starts off innocently enough, but about a third of the way in, it starts hinting at a darker core. I’m not usually one for dark or scary stories, but I was in too deep to back out of this one by that point. The inconsistencies in characters stories fascinated me even as it brought Maria closer to the truth. With some care questioning and superb intuition, Maria unravels the secrets being kept and finds a way to keep a calm and collected head on her shoulders as they all deal with the aftermath.
Honestly, this book kind of blew my mind. I finished it at one o’clock in the morning and immediately pulled out my phone to message one of my communications professors who also teaches women’s studies and like dark stories among other cool things, and told her she needed to read it immediately. It has so many twists and turns! It’s rare for me to be unable to guess the plot of a story or where it’s going/will end up, but this stumped me again and again until the very, very last second. Amazing. I’m only taking a half-star off, and that’s because it tricked me into reading something much darker than I usually like.
Imogen, Lady Barclay, is adjusting slowly to living alone with her elderly female family members and their horde of stray animals. She is hoping to move into the dowager house as soon as the roof gets fixed, and is looking forward to starting a garden.
Percival Hayes, the Earl of Hardford and the new Lord Barclay, realizes that he will have to visit his estate in Cornwall eventually, but he never expects to find so many people and animals living there. Setting up an estate takes a lot more work than Percy realized, and before he can begin to decide what to do, things begin happening. Mysterious things that nobody will explain to him, and it is soon up to Percy and Imogen to solve the mystery of what or who is trying to run them off the estate.
I recently checked this out of my library so I could refresh my memory before writing this review, and also because my mom hadn’t read it yet. Wouldn’t you know it, but she lost the book. We haven’t lost a library book since I was maybe 6 or 8, so this is really quite frustrating. Not to mention that I hadn’t gotten around to writing this review yet, so now I have to go by memory.
This book has a lot of elements. Multiple houses and family members, not to mention an entire town full of people. This book easily wins the award for ‘biggest cast’ of the series. Also, there are a million stray animals and PIRATES. This book is not just a romance, but also a full-on mystery novel. It was very cool.The chemistry between Imogen and Percy was quite good. I tend to think of Imogen as a young and slightly more roughed up but less strict Professor McGonagall (from
The chemistry between Imogen and Percy was quite good. I tend to think of Imogen as a young and slightly more roughed up yet less strict Professor McGonagall (from Harry Potter). She’s delightful in a serious kind of way that just really makes her endearing and spunky at the same time.
Percy, for a character we are just meeting, is extremely well developed, and there were times when I felt we almost knew him better than Imogen. Not to mention that Percy is the only male lead who is not a member of the Survivors’ Club, which, thankfully, doesn’t seem to phase him that much.
Overall, I would recommend it, especially if you’ve been loving the series so far! As with all of Balogh’s books, this series just gets better and better.
HHC Rating: 5 Stars
Other Reviews in this Series & By This Author: The Bedwyns/ “Slightlys”:: Book 0.5 – One Night for Love Book 0.75 – A Summer To Remember Book 1 – Slightly Married Book 2 – Slightly Wicked Book 3 – Slightly Scandalous Book 4 – Slightly Tempted Book 5 – Slightly Sinful Book 6 – Slightly Dangerous Book 6.5 – Once Upon A Dream The “Simplys”:: Book 1 – Simply Unforgettable Book 2 – Simply Love Book 3 – Simply Magic Book 4 – Simply Perfect The Huxtables:: Book 1 – First Comes Love Book 2 – Then Comes Seduction Book 3 – At Last Comes Love Book 4 – Seducing And Angel Book 5 – A Secret Affair The Survivors’ Club:: Book 1 – The Proposal Book 1.5 – The Suitor Book 2 – The Arrangement Book 3 – The Escape Book 4 – Only Enchanting Book 5 – Only A Promise Book 6 – Only A Kiss *(This Review)* Book 7 – Only Beloved The Westcotts:: Book 1 – Someone to Love Book 2 – Someone To Hold Book 3 – Someone to Wed Book 4 – Someone to Care Book 5 – Someone to Trust Book 6 – Someone to Honor Book 7 – Someone to Remember Book 8 – Someone to Romance (2020) Book 9 – TK – Harry
Frustrated and lonely, Harry is stuck at number four, Privet Drive, for yet another summer. Making matters worse is the lack of news from the wizarding community. The Ministry of Magic and The Daily Prophet are refusing to allow the truth to be printed, the magical world is completely in the dark. Worst of all, Harry faces potential expulsion even before the school year begins. With the Dark Lord back on the loose and a scary new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher watching their every move, it might just be time for the students of Hogwarts to take their futures into their own hands.
This fifth story in the Harry Potter series is a tough one to get through. At 870 pages, it’s the longest book, and the first 100-150 pages move as slow as molasses. Even worse, just about every character (except Hermione, who accomplished this feat in book four without much fuss) hits puberty. Harry becomes whiny, Ron sulks a lot, and Ginny starts dating. Of course, all of the adults continue to treat them like children and hoard information from them, with naturally disastrous consequences.
On the bright side, this book introduces what I like to call the silver trio. Much like Harry, Ron, and Hermione are often referred to as the golden trio, Ginny, Neville, and Luna quickly spring to mind as a second grouping, which I like to call the silver trio. Ginny finally becomes a real person in this book, as does Neville and many of the other secondary characters. Luna Lovegood, aside from a brief mention of her family near the start of the fourth book, is really introduced here. Luna, in a way that only Luna could possibly do, quickly becomes near-central to the main storyline. It always surprises me how seamlessly J.K. Rowling weaves Luna into the story, with her odd habits and strong opinions. Luna, so shamelessly herself, is easily one of my favorite characters of the books, and we don’t even meet her until more than halfway through the series!
While it is widely acknowledged that this book is really too long to be its best, it is difficult to find things that could be cut out. The only possibilities would be the cleaning scenes and the emotional roller coaster that is Harry’s thoughts in this book. However since these things really make up most of the story and establish multiple relationships that are important later on, they really have to be left in.
The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is a nightmare. I actually had a teacher in highschool who closely resembled her in not just looks, and we subsequently warned anyone who would listen about “Umbridge”. I actually had an underclassman insist that I was wrong for an entire year because they were convinced another teacher should have the title. The next year they had a class with the real “Umbridge” and promptly apologized for doubting me. I am aggressively not sorry we gave her that nickname.
Personal stories aside, this book, although seriously massive and slow except for the last 100 pages, was pretty great. The character development is so on point it’s almost painful (because puberty). Everyone becomes so much more complex in this book and it’s wonderful. Definitely recommend.