Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (Lynburn Legacy #1)

The description of this story intrigued me enough that I overcame my initial revulsion at yet another supernatural romance series and decided to give it a try.

Good choice.

Brennan is a fresh voice in supernatural fiction in that she can actually write! It’s been a long time since I enjoyed quirky, sassy language in this genre. Kami Glass, our girl hero, is kick ass. She leads a typical teen life in Sorry-in-the-Vale, a sleepy English village. Typical, except for the imaginary guy in her head. Jared has been her best friend for years, but only in her imagination. She has learned to hide him from everyone in order to appear sane, so imagine her tremendous surprise when she meets him, for real.

Kami and Jared, both feeling super-exposed, fence around with each other in person, trying to find the comfortable friend each has grown to love, in their minds. To complicate matters further, Jared happens to be a Lynburn. The Lynburns are the to-the-manor-born inhabitants of the manor house in Sorry-in-the-Vale, although the family has been absent from the village for years. Suddenly, they reappear, bringing with them a whole host of supernatural issues that combine to make Kami’s typical life very atypical, very fast.

Brennan’s snappy, sassy dialog is a treat to read, and the story itself is full of wonderful imagery, imaginative plotlines, and likeable characters. In fact, I enjoyed Unspoken so much, I will be looking for the next installment in the Lynburn Legacy.

Fatal Incision

 Fatal Incision by W.R. Park

I am a sucker for Jack the Ripper stories. What mystery fan isn’t? So when I saw this offering on NetGalley, tying the Ripper mystery to New York City, I couldn’t resist.

The story is actually a good one, and an interesting, unusual take on the whole Ripper mystery. Young Scotland Yard constables Matthew Ward and Jimmy Black launch their own investigation of the Ripper murders in London, much to the embarrassment of their superiors who can’t seem to make any headway on the case. When the London murders stop and new, similar murders begin across the Atlantic, Ward and Black are sent to New York City to assist in the investigation there.

Ward & Black track the doctor they originally pegged in London through the streets of New York, as he looks for the mysterious “Joan.” Once in New York, the reader is treated to parallel stories – Ward & Black and Dr. Joshua Croft, the Ripper suspect. Croft’s life in subterranean New York is especially intriguing as he insinuates himself into the lives of the City’s forgotten, who live in the vast tunnels underneath New York. Ward and Black pursue Croft through one grisly murder after another, until they finally catch up to him and “Joan” in a startling conclusion.

While I enjoyed the first half of this story very much, I found myself put off by some rather juvenile character situations, particularly that of the “relationship” between Matthew Ward and the beautiful female detective assigned to help with the Ripper inquiry. Completely unnecessary to the plot, IMHO. The story started to drag about halfway through, and I kept finding myself wondering how much longer it was going to take to catch the damn Ripper. However, the unexpected, clever ending made up for the length of the story.

Not the best I’ve read recently, but not horrible either. Interesting, unusual plot that just went on a few chapters too many. Do take some time to check out the author’s website, though. Very creepy and shivery! http://www.wrparkebooks.com/index.html

Queen of Vaudeville

Queen of Vaudeville: The Story of Eva Tanguay by Andrew Erdman

Before Madonna, Katy Perry, and Lady GaGa, there was Eva Tanguay. Never heard of her? Neither had I, but by the time I finished this entertaining biography, I knew more about the First Lady of Vaudeville than I ever needed to know.

Tanguay began performing at the tender age of 8, and went on to become the most celebrated performer of her time, despite regular reports that she could neither sing nor dance. She made up for her lack of talent with her outrageous performances, which she undertook with enthusiasm and joyful abandonment. She became known for songs such as “It’s All Been Done Before, But Not the Way I Do It,” “Go As Far As You Like,” “That’s Why They Call me Tabasco,” and her most famous ditty, “I Don’t Care.”

At one point in her career, she was the highest paid performer in Vaudeville, earning as much as $3500 a week, unheard of at that time, especially for a woman. Erdman does a fine job of recounting Tanguay’s life and rise to stardom. The photos sprinkled throughout the text show a vivacious woman, usually grinning or winking at the camera, who obviously loved what she did for a living.

Anyone with a taste for pop culture should find this biography highly entertaining, just like Eva Tanguay.