When the New York Police Department was founded in 1845, the population did not welcome it. New Yorkers protested the forming of what was called a “standing army” and the “Copper Stars” were generally met with suspicion and aggression.
“The Gods of Gotham” by Lyndsay Faye is the story of Timothy Wilde, a detective among the Copper Stars serving in the notorious Five Point Slum area. When a mass grave of dead children is discovered, Timothy is driven to find their murderer.
“Seven For a Secret” the sequel to the marvelous historical mystery, “The Gods of Gotham” is an equally riveting and engrossing thriller. When slave catchers steal a beautiful black woman’s family, Timothy discovers an underworld crime ring where innocent free Northerners are stolen from their homes to be sold as slaves down south.
Mystery and history blended perfectly for the best historic mysteries I’ve read in a while.
One of my favorite authors of historical fiction has created a series about the Houses of Lancaster and York of 15th century England. The story of the War of the Roses, told through the voices of four women of the time period, is the focus of The Cousins’ War series by Phillipa Gregory.
The White Queen is the story of Elizabeth Woodville, Queen consort of King Edward IV of the House of York.
The Red Queen tells of Lady Margaret Beaufort and her driving ambition to see her son, Henry Tudor, from the House of Lancaster, on the throne of England.
The Lady of the Rivers is the story of Jaquetta of Luxembourg, mother of Elizabeth Woodville.
The Kingmaker’s Daughter tells the story of Anne Neville, daughter of the “Kingmaker”, the 16th Earl of Warwick, who becomes Queen Consort to Richard III.
The White Princess will be the fifth book in the “Cousin’s War” Series, and is due to be released in August 2013.
As a master of bringing the Tudor Family and their stories to life, Philippa Gregory writes equally well about the Houses of Lancaster and York.
I also recently read her first Young Adult book, The Changling. I really enjoyed this first book in the “Order of Darkness” series. It combined history with fantasy and was a really fun read.
Does anybody use a dictionary anymore? I mean the book, where you have to open the pages and have some semblance of the alphabetical order and maybe a slight grasp of how to spell the word you are looking up. You can’t replace the good old ink-and-paper, handy dandy dictionary (some aren’t so handy dandy; Webster has gotten a little bloated). Sure, you can now use the internet to look up the word you want (try dictionary.com). Most computer programs, if not all, have spell check. Even Words with Friends tells you that mess of letters you tried to play is not an acceptable word. So, I guess the good old dictionary is being replaced. I mean, I don’t own one.
Upon further review, it seems as though the dictionary is branching out. Trying new things. Exploring new concepts. Gradually sneaking up on you until all of the sudden you notice it again. Like an old friend that never really left your side even though you made new friends like the computer or spell check. Lo and behold, It’s not just for words anymore…..
Star Wars has given the dictionary an all-new identity with their line of visual dictionaries found at the library. (I own all of these, of course)
There is also, the believe it or not, the Math dictionary (I’m not sure what that’s about, never read it, never will. I am assured it does exist).
Or the Lover’s Dictionary (okay, I think this one is more a work of fiction rather than a dictionary).
Let’s not forget the Dictionary of Wholesome Foods (I have no idea what that means, but I did not see a Big Mac in there anywhere).
Even baseball has its own dictionary (apparently there are a lot of baseball-specific terms because it is a very thick book at almost 1000 pages).
And then, my (and I assume everybody’s) favorite dictionaries are The Curious George Dictionary and, of course, The Barbie Picture Dictionary.
Okay, so there are a lot of dictionaries out there. Plus, dictionaries are smart to diversify from just defining words and whatever else they were doing (balancing tables). So, head on out to the library and check out latest fad…dictionaries. That’s right, it’s a thing now.
The year 1845 heralded the birth of the New York City Police Department and the rise of the Great Famine in Ireland, which sent waves of immigrants to the United States and fueled Protestant-Catholic tensions. This is the environment shaping Lyndsay Faye’s new historical mystery, The Gods of Gotham, the first in a new series. As the story opens, we meet Timothy Wilde, a bartender who is methodically saving his money with the hopes of marrying Mercy Underhill, his long-admired friend, aspiring author, and charity worker. When a massive fire sweeps though Manhattan, Tim’s life is changed abruptly by disfigurement and the loss of his job, home, and savings. With extreme reservations, Tim accepts a position secured for him by his politically-connected elder brother as a “copper star” in the newly formed NYPD, patrolling the 6th Ward and the notorious Five Points slum. One night Tim collides with a little girl whose nightclothes are soaked in blood, telling him seemingly wild tales of dead children buried in the woods. Thus, Tim is launched on his first major investigation. By the time he’s through he’ll have several run-ins with his tumultuous elder brother, be forced to reassess everything he knows about Miss. Underhill, find himself pitted against those promoting nativist sentiments, and become intimately familiar with NYC’s dark underbelly. Lush in period detail and dialect, Faye’s new novel is a great match for fans of Caleb Carr.
Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and somewhere the crack of the bat can be heard. With each puff of smoke from the mitt optimism for the upcoming baseball season abounds.
Around here, the Cincinnati Reds opening day may as well be declared a holiday. This is the time of year when any team can win the pennant, at least in the eyes of their fans. For me its a time to break out the sunflower seeds. There is nothing better than sitting in the dugout or bullpen with a couple dozen sunflowers in your mouth while the salty taste permeates as you shuck each one and separate the tasty insides from the outer shell. But for those of you who don’t get nostalgic for the taste of seeds and the competition of spitting the shells into a cup, here are my top 5 baseball movies that are available here at the Clermont County Public Library in chronological order.
1942-The Pride of the Yankees-because of the iconic speech…”Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
1976-Bad News Bears-because every team should have a girl for a pitcher…”and just wait til next year.”
1984-The Natural-because who doesn’t want to hit the ball into the scoreboard and cause a giant epic explosion while rounding the bases triumphantly?
1989-Field of Dreams-because now we know that “if you build it, he will come,” and every kid wants to connect with their dad.
1992-A League of Their Own-because woman can make great baseball players too and “THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!”
1993-The Sandlot-because the whole neighborhood played baseball and we all knew that the neighbor’s dog would eventually get our ball…game over.
2005-Fever Pitch-because there is more to life than just baseball and even the Red Sox can win the Pennant (take note Cubs fans).
So before the games starts get some sunflower seeds, and break out some of your favorite baseball movies, then watch them all so you will be ready for this year’s baseball season.
Read this BEFORE going back home after a long absence, especially if to care for an aging parent or sibling. There are behaviors in every character and interactions between the characters that bring to mind a thought provoking memory to relate to, to gain insight from, and to find a new way to deal with the past.
Home, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson, is a book to be read or listened to on many levels.
First, as a Christian fiction or inspirational story. An elder minister father is dying. His youngest single daughter and wayward alcoholic son return home to care for him in his last days, hoping to reconcile the past.
Second, as a psychological study of family interactions and how aging children deal with a dying parent and each other after years apart. How family dynamics and events of when they were children resurface and are never forgotten, but rather have formed who they are and what they’ve become.
Third, as an historical fiction story portraying a way of life in a small rural town in Iowa and how early events formed and reinforced the culture, beliefs and lives of it’s inhabitants.
The reader comes to know the characters intimately through the relaxed pace and familiarity of the writing. And one can’t help but reflect on one’s own family relationships and past events and how one deals with them through the years.
Marilynne Robinson is the author of the novels Gilead (2004) – winner of the Pulitzer Prize – and Housekeeping (1980).
In the mood to read something totally different? Then you might try The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston. Billed as “a novel in pictures,” you’ll find yourself reading Frankie’s scrapbook as you make your way through full-color pages overflowing with vintage memorabilia. By way of photographs, advertisements, newspaper articles, handwritten notes, maps, cards, souvenirs, and even locks of hair, the reader follows along with Frankie’s early exploits.
The reader first meets Frankie in 1920 as she wraps up her senior year of high school in Cornish, New Hampshire. Eager for adventure and dreaming of becoming a writer, Frankie heads off to Vassar College, followed by a year long stint in Greenwich Village. Fleeing a great disappointment and pushing ahead in her pursuit of new experiences, Frankie departs to Paris before bad news draws her back to New Hampshire. A series of romances, college hijinks, an inspirational meeting with a famous poet, a job writing for a tabloid, trans-Atlantic shipboard adventures with two bedraggled Russian princes, and a stay as a boarder at Paris’s Shakespeare & Company, make for interesting stops along Frankie’s circuitous route into adulthood.
Author Caroline Preston has worked as an archivist at the Peabody/Essex Museum and Harvard University, and has spent a lifetime collecting scrapbooks and ephemera. At her website you can read about how she created this unique book, which looks to be the first in a series of scrapbook novels. When I first heard about The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt at the American Library Association conference this past summer, it was described as “American Girls for adults.” I think that description is spot on. If you’re looking for a quick read, or if you’re a sucker for all things vintage, then set aside an afternoon to check out Frankie’s story.
Felix J. Palma’s, American debut novel, The Map of Time is not my usual genre but on the suggestion of a friend I picked it up, and loved it. It is not a short read by any means but it is a well written story including elements of romance, robots, historical fiction, mystery, murder and time travel. The narrator sees all and knows all and is at times repetitive and annoying. However there are so many other good things about this book that the narrator is easy to overlook. The novel takes place in 1888 London with three related plots and H.G. Wells as the connecting character. H.G. Wells’ popular book “The Time Machine” has just been published and the time travel frenzy has gripped Victorian England. Wells is called upon to help a young man travel to the past and deal with the murder – by Jack the Ripper – of the woman he loved. In Part Two, a woman, unhappy with the social restrictions of the Victorian age seeks something else in a future time period. In Part Three, Wells tries to stop a plot to murder Bram Stoker, Henry James and Wells, himself, and steal their fictional creations. An imaginative story with well developed characters. Long yes but well worth it.
If you like time travel check out these other books and authors:
Brashares, Ann My Name is Memory
James, David Before the Cradle Falls
Fforde, Jasper The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next Novels)
Wells, H.G. The Time Machine
Niffenegger, Audrey The Time Traveler’s Wife
Moning, Karen Marie Highlander romances series
Haddix, Margaret The Missing Series
Holdeman, Joe The Accidental Time Machine
Plunkett, Susan Bethany’s Song
Rigler, Laurie Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Twain, Mark A Connecticut Yankee in Kings Arthur’s Court