Search

So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Tag

London

The St. Martin’s First Winter 2015 Sampler #StMartin’sPress

St. Martin’s First Winter 2015 Sampler is a taste of fifteen newly published books by various authors under the St. Martin’s umbrella. A mix of debut novels and books from old favorites, the Sampler offers the first two chapters of each, allowing you to gain a ‘feel’ for each book. As with all samplers, some books caught my attention, especially A June of Ordinary Murders by Dubliner Conor Brady, and Her Name is Rose by Christine Breen. Neither are books that I would have given a second glance at, as they aren’t my genre, but both surprised me by landing on my TBR shelf. A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders was an automatic “I know I am going to like this” while the story of two giantesses, Andorra Kelsey and Anna Swan, The Thunder of Giants by Joel Fishbane, set in 1937, is one I never would have expected to be so drawn to. Then there is The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown, another surprise addition to my to-be-read stack.

Take a look and see if there are some nice surprises for you as well!

A June of Ordinary Murders: A MysteryA June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady. Published April 21. Brady pulls the reader into the dark corners and political back rooms of 1880’s Dublin as the country prepares to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s ascent to the throne – and a vicious murder falls into Detective Sergeant Swallow’s lap. I honestly never was interested in period pieces until happening upon the Murdoch Mysteries and the Miss Fischer Mysteries on BBC. Now I am addicted, and I am greatly looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

 

Her Name Is Rose: A NovelHer Name Is Rose by Christine Breen is another Irish tale, this time a modern one, of the pains that life can bring. Iris has just been pushed out by her newspaper, “They didn’t see gardening articles as appealing no matter that she gets mail with questions and comments every day. Well, the books section, and the crosswords guy have to go as well. It seems people no longer want intelligence in their newspapers any more.

People used to say Iris Bowen was beautiful, what with the wild weave of her red hair, the high cheekbones, and the way she carried herself like a barefoot dancer through the streets of Ranelagh on the outskirts of Dublin city. But that was a lifetime ago.

Her husband dead the last two years, her adopted daughter, Rose, a brilliant violinist away at the Royal Academy in London. And Iris’s doctor has just called.

Promises to keep will draw Iris away from her quiet Irish life in a search that could be absolutely heartbreaking for all involved. But a promise, as they say, is a promise. Another to add to my stacks.

The Perfume GardenThe Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown is another of those books that I would have never simply picked off the shelf on a whim. And I would have missed what appears to be a lovely tale, as Emma, a London perfumier walks through the doors of a villa forgotten since Franco’s depredations of 1936. Flowing backwards and forwards in time, the story of Emma and her grandmother Freya is a redolent tale of love and loss, terrible secrets, and lyrical words.

 

Pretty Ugly: A NovelPretty Ugly by Kirker Butler is billed as “a satirical look at a dysfunctional southern family complete with overbearing stage mom, a 9 year-old pageant queen, a cheating husband, his teenage girlfriend, a crazy grandmother, and Jesus.” Not one I will be investigating further, but if it sounds good to you, go for it. I would love to hear what you think.

 

Meeting the English: A Novelmeeting the English by Kate Clanchy is another tale from the Continent. Struan Robertson, “orphan, genius, and just seventeen” leaves Scotland for London in 1989. It is described as “a bright book about dark subjects, told with love.” It sounds like the perfect intelligent young adult novel.

 

The Thunder of GiantsThe Thunder of Giants by Joel Fishbane is set in 1937 and revolves around the lives of Andorra Kelsey – 7’11” and just over 320 pounds, is on her way to Hollywood to portray the life of Anna Swan, a Nova Scotian giantess who toured the world in the 19th century with P.T. Barnum, who fell in love with a Civil War veteran. It is a tale that spans nearly one hundred years as two women become reluctant celebrities in a time when the term freak was written upon the human psyche. The story feels very Shakespearean from the two chapters I read. Love the cover.

 

A Murder of MagpiesA Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders is a debut mystery set in London and Paris, as Samantha “Sam” Clair, a London book editor tries to find a way to tell her star novelist that her latest book is utterly unpublishable. That is hard enough, but when Inspector Field turns up asking about a package addressed to Sam, well, who knew the fashion industry could be so deadly? I laughed with the first two pages, so guess what? Another for the stacks!

 

The Friendship of Criminals: A NovelThe Friendship of Criminals by Robert Glinski is a crime thriller set in Philadelphia. A Scorsese-esqe tale of Italian and Polish mobsters, murder and madness, this is a hot blooded debut novel. It grabbed me in the first two pages, sharp, brutal and deadly with a tough, take-no-prisoners voice. For the crime thriller set, I see this as a must read.

 

The Secrets of MidwivesThe Secrets of Midwifes by Sally Hepworth is a story of secrets and lies, consequences, and the complex relationships among three generations of midwives, all centered around Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, her hippy mother, Grace, and her wise, no nonsense grandmother Floss. “I didn’t even particularly like babies. No, for me, the decision to become a midwife had nothing to do with babies. And everything to do with mothers.

 

The Figaro Murders: A NovelThe Figaro Murders by Laura Lebow, is set in 1786 Vienna, where Lorenzo Da Ponte is the court librettist for the Italian Theatre. As Da Ponte begins the libretto for Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Da Ponte finds himself pulled into the highest diplomatic circles in a tale of intrigue and murder, politics, music and theatre – and the some of the most famous figures to ever grace the Italian Opera stage.

 

The Tragic AgeThe Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe is a coming-of-age novel, introducing you to Billy – Billy, who doesn’t trust happiness. “It’s the age he’s at. The tragic age.

A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe A Fireproof Home for the Brideis a tale set in southern Minnesota in 1958. A sparkly, shiny Lutheran world on the surface, but hiding a nasty, black world underneath, where rape is common, and the KKK isn’t just a ‘southern thing.’ Emmy thought she had no choices in her life. But when her fiancé rapes her, she find that you have to create your own choice in this life.

The Last Flight of Poxl WestThe Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday explores the history of Poxl West, his nephew Eli’s hero and a Jewish hero of the “Great War.” But the deeper Eli looks into Poxl’s life as he helps him to write his memoirs the darker the story becomes.

Duplicity by N.K. Traver is a young adult novel with a creepy edge. DuplicityHacker Brandon gets his thrills hacking bank accounts and living the tattooed bad-boy life. He is miserably happy, I suppose you could say. Until the Brandon in the mirror decides that he could live Brandon’s life better than Brandon can.

The Wednesday GroupThe Wednesday Group, a debut novel by Sylvia True, delves into the lives of five women who meet in group every Wednesday, each with shameful secrets. Gail, a prominent judge, keeps receiving letters from her husband’s latest girlfriend, though her theology professor husband claims he is “nine-months sober” from banging grad students. Hannah catches her husband having sex with a male prostitute in a public restroom. Bridget, a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital finds out that her husband has an addiction to chat rooms and match-making websites, while high school teacher Lizzy is married to a porn addict. Flavia’s husband was just arrested for groping a teenage girl on the subway. And the psychologist who runs the group, Kathryn, has her own secrets. Will they go, or will they stay? Will they learn to build their own boundaries, live their own lives? Or will their husbands destroy them all?

I received St. Martin’s First Winter 2015 Sampler from Netgalley in exchange for a realistic review. I found some goodies here – I bet you will as well.

Advertisements

Review: Midnight Riot: Peter Grant #1 by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot: Peter Grant, Book 1 | [Ben Aaronovitch]“I gave the prescribed Metropolitan Police “first greeting”. “Oi!” I said “What do you think you’re doing?” ― Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot “’Conflict resolution,’ said Nightingale, ‘Is this what they teach at Hendon these days?’ ‘Yes, sir,’ I said. ‘But don’t worry, they also teach us how to beat people with phone books and the ten best ways to plant evidence.’” ― Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot First, I love British Urban Fantasy. It is often quirky, normally presented in a dry, witty style, and sometimes simply figuring out the language can give it a while other level of subtle humour not found in “American English” writing. I love it, and Ben Aaronovitch doesn’t disappoint with “Midnight Riot”. Of course, listening to the book rather than simply reading it added a whole other level to my enjoyment. The narration of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is everything I could have wanted and more. His delivery has the level of dry wit, spot-on delivery and subliminal snark that brings a ‘good’ book to the level of ‘brilliant’. Peter Grant is a London ‘copper’ – just off his two year probationary period as a constable, his lack of ability to actually pay attention to what is going on around him has him scheduled for – basically a fancied up secretary. But one cold night on a scene watch under the West Portico of St. Paul’s at Covent Garden, Peter meets an odd little man in an Edwardian smoking jacket: “…don’t ask me why I know what an Edwardian smoking jacket looks like: let’s just say it has something to do with Doctor Who and leave it at that.” That in itself is weird enough. But the fact that he is a ghost is just a tad over the top, even for a Londoner. Suddenly, Peter finds himself in a world he never knew existed – where ghosts and goulies, goddesses and monsters all exist just below the everyday hustle and bustle of the crowded city streets. In his new position as assistant and student wizard under the tutelage of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale. Thomas Nightingale, London Detective and Wizard. Well, nobody ever said being a London cop is simple, you know. Now, there are all sorts of odd things going on around Peter – and all of his friends, his family, and his coworkers, as well as the whole population of London, are in more danger than he ever could have imagined. Peter Grant is an unusual character. Half white, half Somali, Peter suffers the same sorts of issues that any black man in a mostly white force suffers. He likes his job, but his fuzzy grasp on concentration causes him issues – issues that his Probationary partner, Leslie May, has to pick up the slack on. And of course, the oddity of his new position causes a strain for him within the department, as does the bureaucracy inherent in a huge, ancient city such as London. “As soon as we stopped sleeping with our cousins and built walls, temples and a few decent nightclubs, society became too complex for any one person to grasp all at once, and thus bureaucracy was born. A bureaucracy breaks the complexity down into a series of interlocking systems. You don’t need to know how the systems fit together, or even what function your bit of the system has, you just perform your bit and the whole machine creaks on.” Midnight Riot is amazingly creative. Ben Aaronovitch takes the trouble to weave in the history and stories of London, all the way back to its very beginnings, Londinium, a settlement established on the current site of the City of London around AD 47. The focus of the story interweaves history and mythology, witchcraft and ghosts, and Mother and Father Thames and their children, the many other waterways of Britain. As Tim from Temecula says in his Audio review, “It’s as British as Chicken Vindaloo or Soccer Violence.” Of course, as a former Brit, Tim should know – 😉 Idiosyncratic and wickedly fun, the Peter Grant Series is an absolute blast. I can highly recommend it! Especially if you listen to the Audio Version narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. Awesome! About the Author: Ben Aaronovitch Ben Aaronovitch was born in 1964. He had parents, some brothers, some sisters and a dog named after a Russian cosmonaut. He also had the kind of dull childhood that drives a person to drink, radical politics or science fiction. Discovering in his early twenties that he had precisely one talent, he took up screenwriting at which he was an overnight success. He wrote for Doctor Who, Casualty and the world’s cheapest ever SF soap opera Jupiter Moon. He then wrote for Virgin’s New Adventures until they pulped all his books. Then Ben entered a dark time illuminated only by an episode of Dark Knight, a book for Big Finish and the highly acclaimed but not-very-well-paying Blake’s 7 Audio dramas. Trapped in a cycle of disappointment and despair Ben was eventually forced to support his expensive book habit by working for Waterstones as a bookseller. Ironically it was while shelving the works of others that Ben finally saw the light. He would write his own books, he would let prose into his heart and rejoice in the word. Henceforth, subsisting on nothing more than instant coffee and Japanese takeaway, Ben embarked on the epic personal journey that was to lead to Rivers of London (or Midnight Riot as it is known in the Americas). At some point during the above, the most important thing in his life happened and he became a father to a son, Karifa, whom he affectionately refers to as ‘The Evil Monster Boy’. The Evil Monster Boy will be reaching university age soon, so all donations will be gratefully received. Ben Aaronovitch currently resides in London and says that he will leave when they pry his city from his cold dead fingers. About the Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is a Ghanaian-born, British actor who has appeared on stage, screen, and television, including Sorry, I’ve Got No Head, Little Britain, and Sirens. A graduate of the Guildford School of Acting, he won a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His audiobook narrations include Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds and The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna.

Review: Crimes Against Magic (The Hellequin Chronicles Book 1)

Crimes Against Magic (Hellequin Chronicles, #1)I know what you are. You’re the thing the monsters fear.” – Ivy, The Hellequin Chronicles

“If you believe, as the Greeks did, that man is at the mercy of the gods, then you write tragedy. The end is inevitable from the beginning. But if you believe that man can solve his own problems and is at nobody’s mercy, then you will probably write melodrama.” – Lillian Hellman

“So, Nate, I’ve heard rumours that you’re actually alive.” It would have to be rumour. You see, even Nate didn’t know that he really was Nate. He only had a piece of paper with the name Nathan Garrett on it, in what he discovered was his own handwriting, when he woke up in a filthy, shuttered warehouse ten years ago. Was that his name? Well, it was a good enough name, and he needed one. That’s what happens when you have no knowledge of your previous life, not the slightest memory.

Fast forward and Nate is a thief, taking the hard jobs, the unusual jobs, for an odd fellow living in a ‘lost’ section of the London underground rail tunnels, his jobs managed and recommended by his partner Holly, daughter of Mark and Lyn O’Hara, Mob Bosses Extraordinaire and two of the most dangerous people in London.

Well, if you don’t count the psycho gargoyles, nightmares, and various other things that go bump in the night.

This is my first reading of a Steve McHugh Hellequin Chronicles book. I have put them off for a bit, as the main character is male and I have really been wanting to read female heroes, but I am glad that I picked it up sooner than later. The settings are marvelously well done. The story moves back and forth between time periods, from the modern day, to ten years previously when Nate first lost his memories, and further back, to the 1400’s as Nate’s memories begin to return. The characters are sharply written and realistic. McHugh knows his Greek Mythology, and it shows in his deft handling of gods and monsters, sorcerers and just folks. The book has that dry, British delivery that I adore, interspersed with a sort of subliminal humour that I completely enjoyed.

The idea of magic actually taking over the sorcerer if he uses it too much was spectacular. Nate is very conscious of the power of magic, as well as the dangers – but a man can only take so much when the lives of innocent women and children are on the line, threatened by monsters with no compunction when it comes to savage murder of innocents. When he finally loses his shit, he is absolutely glorious!

If you are of the mind to read a solid modern fantasy with that sharp, dry ‘Brit Wit’ some British authors carry off so amazingly well, I would highly recommend the series. I have already downloaded the next, though honestly I don’t know when I will get to it with the huge backlist I have. But it will be worth it when I do, I have no doubt.

Highly recommended. Very minimal sex, some really nasty violence but not overdone, and a strong grasp of history makes the warping of history just right. Homer may have written the Illiad – but you know he did it several hundred years after the Trojan wars. “History is written by the victors who have hung the heroes.” – Sr.William Wallace

Review: Dark Prayer by Natasha Mostert

Non omnis moriar: I shall not altogether die. – Horace, Odes 3:30

What if we’re all like that? Like ghosts … in someone’s mind … gradually fading … fading … until finally … one day … we just disappear … drift into nothingness. Wouldn’t that be sad? – Walter Wykes, Fading Joy

“Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel says we are who we are because of what we learn and what we remember. Who am I, then, if my memory is impaired?” ― Mira Bartok, The Memory Palace

 

She calls herself Eloise Blake. Though not the first line of the book, it is the first line of the story. The story of a girl, a girl named Eloise Blake. But Eloise has only been Eloise for the past two years. For before that, Eloise was Jenilee Gray. Lovely, sweet Jenilee who loved the colour peach and liked pansies and sweet peas. Who was soft and gentle, and the ward of a very rich man, Daniel Barone.

“The man is a genius—of the Stephen Hawking kind. But two decades ago he dropped out of academic research almost overnight.”

How odd. A neuroscientist, trying to identify the memory molecule, his work was decades ahead of the Sackler Lab and their work on the identification of PKMzeta. A huge breakthrough – but he simply walked away. Why? And is what happened then somehow related to what is happening now to Jenilee/Eloise, who one day walked out of a restaurant and completely disappeared from London?

“The last he saw of her, she was talking on the restaurant’s public telephone, looking agitated and holding a sheet of paper in her hand. . . Mr. Barone thinks this may be when she lost contact with her identity.”

John Boyne said, “There’s things that happen in a person’s life that are so scorched in the memory and burned into the heart that there’s no forgetting them.” But that is not actually true. For Jenilee/Eloise is in a fugue state – she remembers nothing of her previous life of privilege, living in what amounts to a squat, living for parkour, or in her case, “free running”. And because of Eloise’s obsession with free running, Jack Simonetti, bon vivant, spoiled little rich boy, is ordered to London to use his free running skills to track her movements, assure her safety, and, hopefully, return her to the persona of Jenilee Gray. Of course, if Jenilee returns, Eloise will be gone forever. And the longer Jack knows Eloise, the more he realizes that she may actually be the ‘true’ persona. . .

On the day she disappeared she drove into London to visit a solicitor who had contacted her about an envelope that was left her by her mother and date-stamped for release that day.

What is so horrific as to cause Jenilee to become Eloise – for her fugue state to last so long? What was in the envelope? And what is really going on – because there is more, much more. Something happened, all those years ago, when five people began a quest, a quest which left one of the group in a wheelchair and another – Jenilee’s mother– murdered, while two others came to know success beyond the wildest dreams of avarice. One of them Jack’s father, Leon Simonetti. A man without compassion, a man with secrets of his own. Secrets which may have left one young woman completely (irretrievably?) lost.

“There is a goddess of Memory, Mnemosyne; but none of Forgetting. Yet there should be, as they are twin sisters, twin powers, and walk on either side of us, disputing for sovereignty over us and who we are, all the way until death.” ― Richard Holmes

Once upon a time there was a group of five, The Order of Mnemosyne, all brilliant, all experts on memory. . .

Once students sat at the feet of their teachers – Anaxamander and Parmenides, Anaxagoras and Xenophanes. I sit at the feet of Natasha Mostert – not so much as a ‘teacher’ but as an author. I said, in my review of Season of the Witch:

I was again pulled into the deep waters of the mind, the dark corners of the soul. And once more, I was enthralled by Ms. Mostert’s grasp of language, her ability to paint a picture with words upon the page.

Now, she reaches deeper, wider, further. Are we, and our memories, becoming shallow, increasingly incapable of internalizing knowledge? Natasha has once more done meticulous research, delved into the world of medieval memory palaces, and expanding them into the modern world, complicated renditions of our memory palaces, “replete with galleries, endless staircases, passages turning in on themselves, Escher-esque tessellations and infinite loops; rooms within rooms and inside them grinning gargoyles, oblique symbols and images of dark beauty.”

As always, Natasha has created these very oblique symbols, images of dark beauty and pain, and a heartrending tale of the palaces of science – and the darkest depths of the search for the memories of god.

We thought . . . we might even be able to look upon the face of God. Mnemosyne was a prayer.”

“A dark prayer. Worth any sacrifice”?

“Would you say it is worth the sacrifice of a child?”

I received Dark Prayer from the publisher in return for a realistic review. Natasha Mostert writes beautifully, with a depth of knowledge and empathy that makes her work beautiful and compassionate, painful and horrifying in equal measure. She is a great storyteller of depth and knowledge, and I completely adore her works. Highly recommended, as always.

Bedlam, The Crossrail Line, and London History

Adult and baby. Was the skull caved in before, or after, death?
Did Bedlam keep an open pit, simply covering up when it got filled? What is the history?

In the land of “Leiah doesn’t watch the news” – well, sometimes not watching the news means that you miss really interesting stuff. So, I got a subscription to Newsy Science on youTube, and I have to say – I am having a Ball! And really kicking myself. I love “sciencey” stuff, and I have really been missing out. It is sort of like how I go months without watching CBS News Sunday Morning, then kick myself when I realize it has been so long I have missed out on a lot of stuff that I would have really enjoyed (even if they do have a “news update” section I can simply skip through… I know what bad shape the world is in, I just don’t want to be beaten over the head with it. And if that makes me shallow, so be it. I did my thing for stopping violence against women, children and animals for years. I’m tired.)

London, well Great Britain, has such a rich history. . . but London’s, with people living on top of one another for centuries, has the most rich, I think.

Anyway. Here is a video I really enjoyed today, and I thought you might enjoy it as well. I watched several others, but this is rather short, so if you are bored, you don’t have to watch for long. If you are not, you can watch this, and others. It is about the archeological excavation of (so far) 3000+ human skeletons at London’s Liverpool Street, as part of a dig for the city’s new Crossrail line.

Apparently, this was the site of the ‘potter’s field’ for the infamous Bedlam Hospital, used from 1569 to at least 1738. I did find a book on Amazon,6945723

Bedlam: London’s Hospital for the Mad by Paul Chambers. If you are interested in the subject, I haven’t read it (yet) but it sounds well written.

With London’s history, of course, you can’t plant a rose bush without turning up some portion of history, but this site is providing a rich history, including not only the more recent Bedlam dig, but also eventually excavating what they believe will be an ancient Roman suburb.

Of modern day interest, at least one historical building, part of the Woolwich Arsenal, built in 1739, could (or maybe has already been?) torn down for the rail line, even though builders admit that it doesn’t really have to be – but it would be cheaper, which we all know is what REALLY matters, right? Gag.

This site, and others being excavated also served as mass burial sites for plague victims. While the “Black Death” of 1348 – 1350, and the “Great Plague” of 1665 are famous worldwide, these famous outbreaks are only two of nearly 40 that London suffered between 1348 and 1665. A total lack of hygiene, sewage running in the streets (and flying out of windows from chamber pots dumped out windows – Just. Ew.) and ridiculous Christian religious beliefs (don’t bathe, keep windows closed in sickrooms, kill cats because they are instruments of the devil), and people living elbow-to-elbow in the streets in abject poverty, allowed disease to run rampant, killing millions. These new digs will tell the history of these times, in meticulous detail.

On another interesting note, the gaps in the development history of homo sapiens is being filled. Check out the video here:

Cat Cafés Offer Coffee With a Side of Kitties by Samantha Drake

 This is a Reblog from

pet360
Click to go to Pet360 where Pet Parenting is Simplified!
Cat Cafés Offer Coffee With a Side of Kitties
Reblogged from Pet360.com

If cat lovers could design their own heaven it would mostly likely have a least one cat café—a quiet retreat where warm beverages and sweet treats are in plentiful supply and a variety of affectionate cats roam about, graciously accepting your attention.The cat café concept is a reality in many parts of the world. At these kitty havens, patrons can relax with a beverage and a snack while watching and interacting with the cat café’s feline residents. The concept is very popular in Asia and is catching on in Europe as well. CNN reports that Japan has approximately 150 cat cafes, more than anywhere else in the world.

Paris, London, Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Madrid, and Dubai also have their own cat cafes. Melbourne, Australia, is set to welcome its first cat café soon. And while the United States is lagging behind a bit, it could catch up to the cat café craze very soon.

Pop-Up Café

The first cat café in the United States was a limited venture that opened in New York in April. Sponsored by Purina One, the pop-up cat café was open for four days. It was intended to raise awareness about pet health and show people what healthy, happy cats look like, explains Niky Roberts, a spokesperson for Purina One.

The cat food company partnered with the North Shore Animal League America, a rescue group that provided 35 adoptable cats for visitors to meet and interact with at the café. The good news is that all 35 kitties have been adopted, either during or after the event, says Roberts. In addition to cappuccino and baked goods, the event featured speakers throughout the four days including a veterinarian, cat behaviorist and a pet shelter director.  “We had a great experience,” says Roberts.

Because the cat café was an event and not a long-term business, the biggest challenge for Purina One, notes Roberts, was working out the logistics of being the first in the U.S. to bring kitties and a café atmosphere together.

Long-term establishments for felines and those who love them may follow. In North America, the promise of cat cafes in cities including Boston and Toronto has generated a lot of press, but so far few are close to opening.

Vive Montreal

However, a Quebec cat lover is preparing to open Café Chat L’Heureux in Montreal as early as this summer. Clement Marty, the owner of Café Chat L’Heureux, says he became intrigued by the cat cafés he saw on his travels around the world. He decided to launch his own cat café in Montreal to educate the public on how to properly care for cats while providing a resource for cat lovers who can’t have a pet of their own. An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is providing the start-up capital, says Marty.

The café will have eight to 12 cats in residence, an optimal number for the space that takes into account cats’ territorial needs, he explains. “The cats will come from different shelters in Montreal, with each one a sort of ambassador for the shelter,” says Marty.

Location, Location

In San Francisco, all software developer David Braginsky and entrepreneur Courtney Hatt need to do is find the right space for their cat café, to be called KitTea.

KitTea will be be a “cageless adoption center” where visitors can spend quality time with the resident cats and also have a cup of tea and something to eat, explains Braginsky. Local regulations require that the two functions be strictly separate, so the food prep area will be in a completely different space than the cats’ area, says Braginsky. Local cat shelters will provide adoptable cats with the right personalities for the environment.

“A cat café seems like a valuable thing to have in the city,” notes Braginsky. He expects a lot of interest in KitTea because San Francisco is home to lot of people who live in apartments that don’t allow pets or live with roommates who don’t want cats.

The real estate search has been difficult, Braginsky says, because he and Hatt want KitTea to be located in a neighborhood that caters to residents, not tourists. Rent and renovation costs are also important considerations. A crowdfunding campaign is powering the launch of KitTea, but private investors are also needed, he adds.

Britannia Rules

Braginsky says he was inspired by London’s very successful cat café Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, where kitties with names like Artemis and Carbonelle lounge around soaking up the attention. Lady Dinah’s is so popular that the establishment is booked solid through October 2014.

The British cat café set ground rules that eliminate many concerns surrounding a venture that combines cats and the public. First, Lady Dinah’s has a booking system that permits only a limited number of people in the space at one time. It also has a small cover charge. The establishment has banned children under the age of 8 to eliminate concerns about what very young children might do to the cats.

As for allergies, Lady Dinah’s states on its website that staff are able to provide only basic first-aid attention in the event of an allergic reaction.

The cat café phenomenon doesn’t appear to be slowing down, and it will be exciting to see where these fun feline locations open next.

Photo credit: Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium via Facebook

The Effervescence of Truth Is Out! Ivee Olivares Third Sonnclere Mystery

front cover
Click to Order!

Blurb:

A truth drug … A secret uncovered … A desire for revenge …

Who do we trust? Our loved ones, our friends, strangers? In a world where the truth is not always straightforward, scientists have tried time and again to engineer a drug that would compel people to reveal all. But is it always a good idea?

Scientist and Police Consultant Dr Neroli Sonnclere is pulled into the middle of a great discovery—of a powerful new truth drug. It seems everyone sees the advantages in using it, but not always for the right reasons. Neroli soon realises that those close to her have hidden agendas. She learns that even the least likely of people have secrets, and that it’s incredibly easy to lie. And more importantly, that everyone, including her, is capable of betraying those we love.

The third installment of the Sonnclere Mystery Series, The Effervescence of Truth continues the adventures of a young female scientist with a unique gift. Born with hyperosmia, or a heightened sense of smell, Dr Sonnclere possesses the ability to sniff out odours undetected by ordinary humans. Together with Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Adam McClellan, Neroli recognises that others want to use the truth for their twisted plans. She uses her powerful nose and scientific knowledge to defend herself and keep the drug from falling into the wrong hands. The story uncovers intrigue within her University’s scientific community, the questionable ethics of the British media, and reveals that all is not well at the heart of London’s Russian high society.

Is the truth so important? The reality is—truth can be dangerous. Would you want the truth even if it may hurt in the end?

Only $0.99!  Amazon

REVIEW:

My freakish ability, together with my chemistry background, has not only earned me scientific recognition, it has also landed me a consultancy job with the police. – Dr. Neroli Sonnclere, The Effervescence of Truth

 I’ve found a different way to scent the air: already it’s a by-word for despair. – Andrew Motion

Dr. Neroli Sonnclere is an anomaly – a brilliant chemist, she is also a rarity of nature. The scientific term for her particular genetic condition is hyperosmia. To put it simply, her, nose can discern all sorts of scents even in minute quantities, including those that escape more ordinary human beings. While persons with hyperosmia may become exceptional sommeliers or world-famous parfumeurs, Neroli uses her skill as a chemist to both explore her own difference and to create chemical formulae utilizing her capabilities. Which not only allowed her to become the “Pied Piper of Buckingham Palace” as well as a police consultant (the police consultancy and Pied Piperism show up in previous books.)

Now, Dr. Sonnclere’s particular abilities are not only placing her in personal danger, but threatening the very stability of world politics. For the truth shall not always set you free – it may, instead, cause the collapse of governments.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. – Marcus Aurelius

It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense. – Mark Twain

The Effervescence of Truth is wonderfully unusual, written in a voice that is uniquely Ivee Olivares’ own. Filled with the logic and through processes of a woman of science, there is a deep and abiding truth in everything Ivee writes, whether it be the truth of the chemistry involved, or of the depths of human nature and belief systems. Filled with political machinations, espionage and overwhelming greed – both financial and within the halls of education where the tenure requirement is publish or die. And death, in this case, stalks even the rarified halls of academia.

Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell

Trust. Truth. Greed. The push to publish and the longing for funding and discovery and success. All laid against a background of political intrigue and deep and abiding hatreds. Yep. Well worth a read!

___________________________

I edited Ivee Olivares’ The Effervescence of Truth and found Ivee to be a wonderful person to work with – a person who has written as deeply interesting and thoughtful novel with deep strengths. All opinions are my own and not affected by my client relationship with Ivee.

Review: The Midnight Side By Natasha Mostert

midnightside
Originally published in 2000. Republished for Kindle by Portable Magic, 2013.
Click for the goodreads page.

How much worse are suitors, who to men’s lust
Are made preys? O, worse than dust or worms’ meat,
For they do eat you now, whose selves worms shall eat. – John Donne, Thou shalt not laugh in this leaf, Muse (British Poet, Satirist, Author, 1572-1631)

The sin of pride may be a small or a great thing in someone’s life, and hurt vanity a passing pinprick, or a self-destroying or ever murderous obsession. – Iris Murdoch (British Novelist and Philosopher, 1919-1999)

We’re going to start a rumour. It’s easy: here’s how. And thus starts a tale of twisted obsession, of ghostly presence and lucid dreaming. A tale of suffering. But whose? And how far will obsession live within the soul? To the grave? Beyond?

Too late hee would the paine asswage,
And to thick shadowes does retire;
About with him hee beares the rage,
And in his tainted blood the fire.
Edmund Waller –The selfe-banished –  (English Poet and Politician,1606 – 1687)

Isabella, or Isa to her friends, lives a life of quiet desperation in South Africa. The mistress of a married man for the past thirteen years, Isa has set aside her own needs for those of her lover, Eric. Eric, who has just died, leaving her with nothing but heartache.

In the night, as she lies dreaming, the phone rings, a flat, atonal sound, odd and strangely off-key, and the crackling voice of her cousin, Alette comes through. Alette, the wild and flighty girl with whom Isa was raised. Alette the strong, Alette the vibrant. And, as Isa is soon to learn, Alette who is two days dead.

Now back in London to close Allete’s estate, Isa receives a message from Allete along with a copy of her will. A very odd and devastating message, which leads Isa to carry out a twisted scheme against Jason, Allete’s ex-husband – an ex-husband whose tortures Allete lays out in a letter, sealed for only Isa.

Lucid dreaming, African mysticism. Alchemy and premonitions. Mostert’s The Midnight Side is a brooding, atmospheric tale of suspense and psychological thrill, full of the kinds of fear and gloomy atmosphere sure to lure in even the most jaded of readers. Isa wanders through the halls of her dreams, following orders, reaching out . . . and changing within herself. The Vigyan Bhairava Tantra, the seventh sutra, says, “ . . . reach the heart at the instant of sleep and seek direction over dreams and over death itself.” Is Isabella following her heart? Or are the dreams of death drawing back the soul of her beloved cousin?

What cruelty, wasted love – love which lies only in recompense? Mostert speaks to deep waters of the mind, dark corners of the soul, the ruin brought on by wounded and damaged souls. And yet, her journey also showcases the beauty and drabery of London itself, with it’s fogs and rains, the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery of the British Museum, the odd libraries and collections, the tea shops and cathedrals. The mass of cultures and foods and beliefs. A brooding city of history and blood and loss and joy, all wrapped up in banks of fog and fire, melancholy, and old, old guilt.

What Isa does and doesn’t do, thinks and feels and suffers leads you through murky darkness, fear, and the question, or promise, of forbidden destiny.

I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.  Highly recommended.

Review: Shimmer In The Dark: Rogue Genesis by Ceri London

rogue
Click cover to purchase the book. Do it! You KNOW you want to!!!!

Ceri London has written, in Shimmer In The Dark: Rogue Genesis one of the most powerful science fiction/fantasy novels I have read since Dune. Well, actually, it is better than Dune. More creative, with a wider range and depth of reality, that is approachable to all readers. This is, without doubt, a science fiction novel, but it also has strong ties to military-political intrigue in the present day which grounds the novel in a level of believability even when the “fiction” portion of the science asks you to stretch your mind into new levels of belief.

Some, I suppose, would lean more towards calling it ‘fantasy’ as there are no space ships and Earth colonies on other planets. If you are one of the ‘hard sci-fi geeks’ that some of my friends are, you might be disappointed by no space rockets blasting around, I suppose, but that should in no way deter you from reading this jewel of a book.

Unlike many, I have no problem stretching credulity to new levels. I don’t expect a science fiction or fantasy book to stay within the realm of ‘probability’. I expect to be taken to a new place, a new level of existence, while I expect that existence to still feel believable. I expect to be charmed into a new sense of reality for a short while. Something that Ms. London has done brilliantly in this, the first of a four-part series.

Niall Kearey is a very special person, with a very special family. As has been described by the blurb on the book, he can, with is mind, reach out across galaxies to what he thinks is a ‘dream world’ – a world “racing towards annihilation” – a world soon to pass into alignment with Earth, with unknown outcome. Here on Earth, there are power brokers, secret societies, power-hungry and amoral politicians, and a corrupt U.S. Military. A military and power structure that will do anything, including the destruction of Niall’s beloved family, to bring him under their control and use him for world domination. Of this, and possibly other worlds . . .

London, in my estimation, did a beautiful job of making me feel her characters. I actually understood, and admired, Niall. My admiration was not only for his special abilities, but also for his love of and deep commitment to his family. In the face of horrific circumstances, he stands by his family and continues to fight for them, when everyone around him is betraying his faith, his honour and his commitment to country. The very thing that Niall has fought for, and watched his friends die for, is pulled into the light, and that light shines upon a dark and venomous snarl of greed and xenophobia that would happily watch whole civilizations die, accepting only the technology and power that those cultures might provide. In all, humanity at it’s slimiest, humanity who would sentence millions to death, while gobbling up their scientists to live as virtual prisoners, slaves to the military-industrial complex. Yep. Humans all right. Humans who would imprison a decorated military man under “correct supervision”, using him as a lab rat to assure his “asset to this nation” status.

Yes, a lot of the book made me sick. I want to howl in despair at the horror of the reality of what humans truly are, what they are truly capable of.  Of human avarice, hatred, brutality and vicious self-aggrandizement, the truly black and horrific souls within. Sick, in that everything that London writes is so very gut-wrenchingly believable in so many ways. So real within the fictitious world that she creates. Amidst the black holes, space-time jumps, dark matter universes and other fascinating and well-researched portions of the book, London delves into the human psyche, and lays bare its soul. And proves, beyond a doubt, the very reasons that, even if there are other civilizations out there, my view of how they would view Earth is “That poor, beautiful orb, filled with the trailer trash of the universe, vicious, dangerous creatures to be avoided at any cost.”  I can see the signs hanging in space now:

DANGER

Overall, if you are a lover of science fiction style fantasy, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was on my back burner for a while, a lot longer than I had wished for it to be, but I am so very glad that I finally sat down and read it. It was well worth the time. More than worth it. This book needs a lot more attention than it is getting right now. Go out and buy it. I can guarantee you that you will be recommending it to your friends. It’s very creativity of concept makes it a standout in the field. That should draw you in. What will keep you there is the writing, the characterizations, and her deep understanding of the human psyche will keep you reading, and watching for the next in the series.

Highly recommended.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑