ladyofthethread: (Default)
So, I’m finally posting the answers to the book meme I did a few weeks back since only one title got guessed. ^_^;; I don’t know if anyone really cares since I don’t think there are many mystery lovers on my friends list. But I’ve been reading some of these series way longer than any manga so I’m going to be a mystery geek and babble about cozies and period mysteries anyway. :-P I recommend checking them out if any sound interesting to you! Most of the out-of-print stuff can be found used on Amazon.

Here’s what wasn’t guessed:

1) “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy
The one non-mystery title that wasn’t guessed. Although only the first book is considered a classic, Baroness Orczy actually wrote a whole series of Scarlet Pimpernel books.

2) “The Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries” by Emily Brightwell
First book in one of my favorite series. ^_^ It’s set in Victorian London and Mrs. Jeffries is housekeeper for Inspector Witherspoon, a policeman who inherited a fortune from a wealthy aunt. The inspector doesn’t realize it but his housekeeper and other servants help him solve murders by talking to people like shopkeepers, servants, and carriage drivers to gather information and gossip. Mrs. Jeffries discusses the cases with him, finding out what the police have learned and planting suggestions about things he should look into based on what the servants have found out. It’s up to book 26 and still going; I’ve been reading this series since the mid-1990s! Unfortunately, some of the older titles are OOP.

3) “The Strange Files of Fremont Jones” by Dianne Day
First book from another favorite of mine. Fremont Jones is an adventurous young woman who leaves her conventional life in Boston and moves to San Francisco in 1905. She starts a typewriting service there, which gets her involved in her first mystery. She eventually falls in love with a former Russian spy and starts a detective agency with him. Ended at 6 books but they’re still in print except for the last.

4) “Death at Bishop’s Keep" by Robin Paige
First book from a series set in late Victorian/Edwardian England. Kate Ardleigh is an American writer of penny dreadfuls who moves to England and eventually marries Sir Charles Sheridan. Sir Charles is an amateur scientist with an interest in photography, fingerprinting, and toxicology. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward) sometimes asks Sir Charles to investigate cases where nobles are involved so that the police and press can be kept away and scandal avoided. Each book also features 1 or 2 real people from that era; Beatrix Potter, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, and Lillie Langtry were among the characters used. Don’t like this series as much as the previous two but it’s still interesting. Ended a few years ago at 12 books but I haven’t read the last couple yet.

5) “The Last Camel Died at Noon” by Elizabeth Peters
A book from the Amelia Peabody series. Amelia is a Victorian woman with feminist views who becomes an archeologist. She marries Emerson, another archeologist. During their Egyptian excavations, they encounter murders, tomb robbers, the occasional wandering mummy, and in the case of this book, a lost city! XD It’s a rather amusing series since Amelia tends to jump to conclusions a lot. The books cover a few decades from the late 1800s to the 1920s but I haven’t read some of the later ones yet. I got a little annoyed that a certain character died and came back not once but twice. >_>; Still going and book 19 is scheduled to come out next spring. The writer has a Ph.D in Egyptology so there’s a lot of Ancient Egyptian trivia included.

6) “Decked” by Carol Higgins Clark
First book in the Regan Reilly series. Regan is a private investigator and the daughter of a famous mystery novelist. The series is very humorous and tends to involve rather ridiculous situations. XD 12 books so far plus some collaborative ones with her mother, Mary Higgins Clark.

7) “Starring Miss Seeton” by Hamilton Crane
A book from the Miss Seeton series by Heron Carvic, Hampton Charles, and Hamilton Crane. (The two latter writers continued the series after the original author’s death.) Another of my favorites, this is a rather humorous series with an elderly retired British art teacher as the protagonist. She is retained by Scotland Yard for her seemingly psychic drawing abilities and sometimes produces cryptic pictures with clues to crimes. She tends to cause muddles trying to explain things clearly and is very innocent, never thinking someone would want to harm her. In the first book, she actually poked a murderer with her umbrella, ready to give him a lecture on manners because she mistakenly thought he was just hitting the woman rather than killing her! Ended with 22 books. OOP

9) “Death on the Mississippi” by Peter J. Heck
First book in another of my favorite series. This one features Mark Twain and his fictional secretary, Wentworth Cabot, solving murder mysteries as the author travels for a lecture tour in the late 1800s. The titles are all plays on Twain’s works like “The Prince and the Prosecutor” and “A Connecticut Yankee in Criminal Court.” Ended at 6 books. OOP

10) “Houses of Stone” by Barbara Michaels
This is actually the same writer as Elizabeth Peters. She used this pen name for romantic suspense, usually with supernatural elements. This particular book involved an English professor and a lost gothic novel. It’s been 10 years since she published anything new under this name but the books are still available. These are mostly non-series. Some are period but most are contemporary. And some have fashion or crafting themes. ^_^ (I suggest “Shattered Silk” for those who like vintage clothes/fashion history.)

I kind of want to go back and reread a lot of this stuff now!

On a slightly related note, I just finished reading Count Cain/Godchild. I’d read a couple of volumes of Godchild quite a while back since it seemed like the kind of thing I’d like with the Victorian setting and mystery theme but didn’t get around to reading the rest until recently. Wow, what a messed up family. O_O; I liked the Godchild volumes better than the earlier series; the artwork didn’t seem as nice and the plot a bit muddled in the earlier stories. I still like the mystery novel series mentioned above best for Victorian stuff though. (As a side note, Kuroshitsuji seems even more derivative now that I’ve finished reading this series. >_>; That one jumped too wildly between humor and dark stuff for my taste although the outfits were much more interesting.)

Not sure yet if I like it enough to cosplay from it. The recurring characters are mostly guys and their outfits aren’t that distinctive. Unless I want to do something silly again like Cain when he was forced to crossdress as a fortuneteller. XD I wouldn’t suit Mary Weather at all since she’s only 10 and I’m not nearly cute and petite enough for something like that. Design-wise, what I found most interesting was the half-Japanese half-British girl from volume 2 of Godchild who wore a long ruffly Western dress with a kimono layered over it. I don’t know though.
ladyofthethread: (Default)
Well, not much exciting has been happening here. More painting and I just stayed home this past weekend. So, another book post for now…

For years, I’ve been meaning to get a copy of “The Darings of the Red Rose” by Margery Allingham. It was published by a small company over 10 years ago and is out-of-print. When I was more actively looking for it years ago, I could never find copies for sale so I kind of gave up and forgot about it for quite a while. But I recently managed to get a used copy off Amazon although it was expensive. ^_^;

It’s actually a collection of short stories rather than a novel. They were serialized and published anonymously in a woman’s magazine in 1930 but didn’t get attributed to Allingham and published together until the 1990’s.

The main character is Betty Connolly, a society girl in 1930’s London. She originally came from a town in Lancashire that was ruined by a group of London financiers. After receiving an unexpected inheritance from a relative, she moves to the city with the goal of getting revenge on those who brought about her town’s ruin and her parents’ deaths. She basically acts as a Robin Hood, stealing from the financiers and giving the money to a fund to help her old hometown. For these exploits, she uses the name “the Red Rose” and leaves red rosebuds as her trademark. The intro does acknowledge that it was hack work with mistakes and continuity errors between the stories but it was fun light reading anyway.

I also recently finished “The Walker in the Shadows” by Barbara Michaels. It concerned a haunting that was stirred up when a divorced man and his daughter moved in next door to a widow and her son. The houses were supposed to be identical ones that were built for a pair of twin daughters prior to the Civil War. It was okay but I didn’t find it very memorable. :-/ It reminded me too much of one of her earlier novels, “Ammie, Come Home” where the characters were also one middle-aged couple and a younger couple who found themselves dealing with a haunting in an old house.

This novelist often uses supernatural elements in her works but many of her other books under this pseudonym have themes which make them more interesting and distinguishable. Vintage clothes in “Shattered Silk,” quilts in “Stitches in Time,” antique jewelry in “Into the Darkness,” gothic literature in “Houses of Stone,” and so on. I suppose the twin houses and Civil War stuff could be considered the “hook” for this book but I don’t think it was an adequate one. In my mind, the book lacked its own identity as a result of this and the similarities to “Ammie, Come Home.”

And it seems like Amazon is having trouble getting the Twelve Kingdoms novel that I ordered when I put in a pre-order for Le Chevalier D’Eon vol. 4 a few weeks back. The DVD came out last week but it seems like it might possibly be October before I get the novel. -_-
ladyofthethread: (Renrin)
I haven’t written about books much lately because I’ve been rereading a lot of old things. But I’ll do a mini review since I finished something new recently: “The Case of the Roasted Onion” by Claudia Bishop. She writes the Inn at Hemlock Falls mysteries but this is the first in a new series, the Casebooks of Dr. McKenzie. Like the previous series, it’s also set in upstate New York. There’s actually a little cameo by one of the Hemlock Falls characters, who is spotted during a press conference but doesn’t have any lines, and there are several mentions of the Inn at Hemlock Falls.

Anyway, the protagonist of this series is Austin McKenzie, an elderly veterinarian. He’s a bit blunt at times but it’s amusing how he tries to avoid things he dislikes, like trying to throw out mail he doesn’t want to open or ignoring the phone. XD He takes up detecting when he’s asked to work at a horse show and the vet he’s replacing is killed by a sniper. I was expecting the bulk of the story to take place at the show but it turns out it’s pretty much wrapped up by then. There’s a lot of veterinary trivia sprinkled throughout which is kind of interesting.

One bad thing I noticed though was that the continuity seemed rather sloppy in this particular book. :-/ Right at the beginning of the first chapter, it is mentioned that it is an April morning. Yet, two pages later, the protagonist is receiving an invitation to work at a horse show in late March! I noticed another kink in the timeline later in the book, too.

I dislike criticizing others’ creative efforts when done for fun (fanfics, cosplay, etc.) but it annoys me a bit when I find errors like this in professional writing. I feel like if you’re doing it for a living and expecting people to pay for your works, it should not have silly mistakes like that. Did the editors and proofreaders fall asleep, too? I could understand if errors in the veterinary stuff slipped by because the average person isn’t going to be an expert on it but timelines should be pretty basic, right? -_-

book quiz )

I think I’ll attempt to get to [ profile] animeangelblue’s mini golf outing on Long Island this Saturday. It’s a bit of a trip but I missed the photoshoot a couple of weekends ago and I haven’t seen anyone since AnimeNext. It was announced as cosplay mini golf but I’m not sure if anyone is actually dressing up. I suppose I could wear my yellow Tohru dress and throw all the flowers and accessories into my purse. I think it’s about the only costume I have casual enough to play mini golf in. ^_^;;
ladyofthethread: (Herald)
Finally got back to work on my T-Chan plushie yesterday. Goofed and sewed the tail and back section to the wrong end of the body since what I had before was basically a furry cylinder with legs sticking out. But it’s fixed now! ^_^; I still need to make the head, which is going to be the most complicated part. And I think I might have to buy at least one more panel of orange fur to finish this; I bought 6 and used up 5 already. (Figures that I bought all but the last piece of orange fur at the store, thinking it would be enough.) I like how it’s coming out so far. It’ll be annoying to pack for cons since he is large enough to cover my lap but it’s going to be fun to have an orange man-eating ball of fluff to carry around with my Count D costumes. XD

Also, got started on writing cards and have gotten them done for everyone who has requested them so far. (See this post if you haven’t but would like one: Still need to do cards for my needlework friends and get some more stamps to mail them out. I send mail so infrequently that I end up using holiday stamps year round because that’s the only time I need to buy them! *laugh*

And it’s been a while since I’ve rambled about books so this might be a good time for that. I decided to finally go back and read through “Other Worlds” by Barbara Michaels; I had gotten halfway through it years ago but never finished. Blah, it was probably the most boring book she wrote under that name. Basically, just several characters sitting around and recounting ghost stories.

It was published 6 or 7 years ago and she hasn’t done another novel under that pseudonym since. It’s kind of disappointing since I liked the mostly non-series stories she wrote with that name. They tended to have similar themes involving the supernatural but the details and settings varied enough that they were distinctive. (Plus, a few of them involved needlework/sewing, too!) As much as I like her Amelia Peabody series (written as Elizabeth Peters), I don’t know that much about Egyptology myself and the books kind of blur together since that’s the theme for the whole series.

After “Other Worlds,” I reread one of my favorites by her, “Stitches in Time.” Unlikely as it sounds, it’s about a cursed antique quilt. XD And takes place mostly around a vintage clothing shop. Finished that one last night but haven't decided what I'll read next.

And since I’ve been talking about books, a quiz from [ profile] auburntressed:

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob
Dedicated Reader
Fad Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz
ladyofthethread: (Youka)
My, it’s been nearly a week since I’ve written a real entry. ^_^;; Let’s see… I’m working on the new outfit for that wedding. I got the sleeves stitched up over the weekend Still need to cut out fabric for a lining and get some gold trim to add for decoration. Took a picture of one of the sleeves earlier. It’s blue brocade with wine-colored crepe back satin as trim. The pic on the right is without flash and gives a more accurate idea of the background color but the patterns showed up more clearly in the one with flash.

Also, over the weekend, I finally made a Cosplay Lab profile: I’d been meaning to do that for a long time but kept putting it off to work on costumes and other stuff. XD; Caught up with adding costumes into my costume list, too. Still need to look through my albums sometime and try to tidy them up a bit. And I will hopefully be getting better pictures of the peacock dress next weekend.

With books, I finished “Death in Hyde Park” by Robin Paige last week. It was okay but didn’t appeal to me as much as some of the previous stories. It involved an anarchist that accidentally blew himself up on the day of King Edward VII’s coronation and the resulting investigation. The series normally includes some historical figures among its characters and this title used writer Jack London. I noticed that unlike most of the other real people who have been included as characters, he didn’t really interact with the main characters. They supposedly met him at a party that took place before the story started but we only see one scene where Kate meets him again. Usually, the historic figures interact with the fictional main characters much more, sometimes even helping in the Sheridans’ investigations. The other thing that sticks out in my mind was that there was a passage referring to how a location in the story is being used in the present day. Completely pulled me out of the story’s early 1900s period so I think it would have been better if it wasn’t there. -_-

Picked up “Embroidered Truths” by Monica Ferris yesterday. I’d fallen somewhat behind on reading that series since it went to hardcover a couple of books back and it wasn’t one of my favorites. It’s a mystery series with a needlework shop owner as its protagonist but despite liking needlework, I don’t think it’s as good as some of the other series I read. In particular, the plots for the first few in the series didn’t seem that clever and those early books contained mistakes in the needlework references, too. -_- Hope this one will turn out to be decent.
ladyofthethread: (Default)
I’ve been meaning to write about some of the stuff I’ve been reading lately but kept putting it off. ^_^; Let’s see…

I finished “Death at Glamis Castle” by Robin Paige a few weeks back. Like the others in the series, it’s set around the turn of the last century and features some historic figures among the characters. This one was based on the premise that Prince Eddy, a heir to the British throne, had his death staged by his family and was hidden away at a Scottish castle under an assumed name because they considered him unsuitable to rule. The ruse worked for years until one of the servants who had been looking after him was found murdered and the prince went missing.

Then, I read “Prince of Darkness” by Barbara Michaels; I think it was one of few published under that name I hadn’t read yet. (She also writes the Egyptology-themed Amelia Peabody mysteries under the name Elizabeth Peters.) One difference I noticed about this one was that a large part of it was told from the point of view of a male character (and one who seemed like an antagonist with unclear motives) before switching to the main female character in the last section of the book. She does it at times in the Amelia Peabody series but I don’t recall any other cases of it in her supernatural mysteries. The theme in this turned out to be a witches’ coven.

And now I’m rereading “Decked” by Carol Higgins Clark (daughter of Mary Higgins Clark). It’s the first book in her Regan Reilly series. There are always some wacky characters, the tone tends to be humorous and it’s one of the few private eye series I read; usually I prefer to follow the adventures of amateur detectives.

This one concerns a decade old murder. The victim was a girl that Regan had roomed with when she studied abroad in England and the body didn’t turn up until some of the classmates returned for a reunion. The book takes place mainly on a ship though because several of the characters were scheduled for a cruise the week after the reunion.

Hmm… It’s been a long time since I first read this book and there was a character I completely forgot about. It’s mentioned that Regan had an assistant named Jeff and she talks to him by phone at one point but I don’t remember him at all in more recent books. Maybe, I’ll reread the other early ones since now I’m wondering whatever happened to him.
ladyofthethread: (Layla)
I got a couple of DVDs from Amazon yesterday, vol. 4 of Kaleido Star: New Wings and vol. 5 of Gankutsuou. An optimistic girl pursuing her dream of being a circus star and a bitter man bent on revenge… What a weird combination. LOL

There were 5 episodes on the Kaleido Star disc this time, which was nice. Sora seems to be bouncing back and we’re getting some hints about Leon’s past now. He certainly seems to have some obsessive issues, regarding a girl named Sophie. o_o;

Gankutsuou was kind of depressing, particularly the second episode on the disc. ;_; Not sure if it was just me but I found myself wondering what some of the characters were doing while certain events were going on because we don’t see them/their reactions.

I’ve been meaning to talk a bit about books since it’s been a while but I’ve been so busy with costume stuff lately. I finished rereading Dianne Day’s Fremont Jones series the other day. It’s 6 books long and mostly set in California during the early 1900s. The main character is Fremont, an independent-spirited girl from a wealthy Boston family who leaves home after her widowed father gets remarried to a woman she despises. She moves to San Francisco with the intention of making her own living by starting a typewriting business and soon finds herself involved in a mystery when one of her clients is murdered. The series follows the adventures she gets involved in through her typing business and later, the detective agency she starts with her lover Michael Archer.

It’s too bad the series didn’t go longer since I liked the characters; Fremont is probably one of my favorite mystery heroines ever. Like a lot of mystery series I liked that ended, I had assumed there would be more but a next book just never came. The author has only published one book since the series ended, a Civil War era mystery based on the life of Clara Barton, and I just wasn’t interested enough to finish reading it when I tried a few years back. :-/

Next, I’ll probably read “Death at Glamis Castle” by Robin Paige. Kate Ardleigh, the protagonist in this series, reminds me of Fremont since she was also an unconventional woman who wanted to earn her own living. In her case, it was by writing gothic fiction and the series is set in a slightly earlier time period than Dianne Day’s books, about a decade before. It’s a decent series but I don’t love it nearly as much as the Fremont Jones series.

And in costume news, 5 flowers left to go! I’m finally getting close to the light at the end of the tunnel! XD


ladyofthethread: (Default)

August 2012



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