The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross by Lisa Tuttle – Review

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Review by Riley.

About The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross

The paranormal answer to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Jesperson and Lane are turning the Victorian era upside down in this bewitching series from John W. Campbell Award winner Lisa Tuttle.

“Witch!” cries the young man after stumbling unexpectedly into the London address of the consulting-detective partnership of Mr. Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane. He makes the startling accusation while pointing toward Miss Lane . . . then he drops dead. Thus begins the strangest case yet to land—quite literally—on the doorstep of Jesperson and Lane.

According to the coroner, Charles Manning died of a heart attack—despite being in perfect health. Could he have been struck down by a witch’s spell? The late Mr. Manning’s address book leads Jesperson and Lane to the shrieking pits of Aylmerton, an ancient archaeological site reputed to be haunted by a vengeful ghost. There they sift through the local characters, each more suspicious than the last: Manning’s associate, Felix Ott, an English folklore enthusiast; Reverend Ringer, a fierce opponent of superstition; and the Bulstrode sisters, a trio of beauties with a reputation for witchcraft.

But when an innocent child goes missing, suddenly Jesperson and Lane aren’t merely trying to solve one murder—they’re racing to prevent another.

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Review of The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross

Let’s check out this title.

The Curious Affair…” Well, if you haven’t figured out that this is a mystery, you probably aren’t a mystery fan. Most of this book is about Miss Lane and Mister Jesperson solving the mystery of what caused the death of a man that arrived on their doorstep with the word ‘witch’ on his breath. It is an interesting, complex mystery with all sorts of clues and misclues. But with no hint of the ‘paranormal’ that the book blurb hints at.

…Witch of Wayside Cross”. That is the part that is meant to entice you and it is exactly why I decided to read it. Don’t let it fool you though. This book is pure mystery. Witches and witchcraft are incidental to the story. The setting is Victorian, so the accusation of witchcraft is something to be taken with a large grain of salt.

Di Lane, the first person narrator of the story, is a strong, independent, woman. She is highly opinionated, which can offend people. But she also is prudent enough to hang back when she feels her partner Jasper Jesperson, a man, will have better luck without her.

Jasper Jesperson tends to make plans and explain himself later. As his partner, Lane must be quite frustrated. As a reader, I know I was.

What I’ve just told you about these main characters is about all I know about them. I did not feel like I got to know these characters well. Even, Lane, the narrator is still a mystery to me. I certainly don’t get a feel for the relationship between Jesperson and Lane, which appears to be strickly business with very little hint of friendship. The other characters in the book are depicted in much more detail, as they are all suspects, and are better known by the end of the book.

Since I did not engage with the protagonists, I was not not emotionally involved in this story at all. And I was only slightly curious to know how it ended. I know there are readers that prefer just the fictitious facts, but I am not one of them.

There was a sub-plot that was kind of fun. It was a mystery also, but had a hint of magic. It seemed totally incongruous with the rest of the story, but was the best reason to read this book.

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson – Review

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Review by Riley.

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About Perfect Gravity

Second in a snarky, sexy sci-fi romance series with the perfect balance of humor, heart, and heat. When someone tries to kill powerful continental senator Angela Neko, Texan outlaw and old flame Kellen Hockley is the only man who can keep her safe…and help her save the world.

Kellen Hockley usually keeps quiet about his past, but once upon a time he loved a girl named Angela. He hasn’t seen her in a decade, but now he has to break the news to her that his team of rogue treasure hunters accidentally killed her husband. He’s had better days…

It’s not the news that’s delivered to Angela Neko that breaks her apart—it’s the rumbly, Texas drawl delivering it. She can’t believe she’s hearing Kellen’s voice again. But there’s no time for distractions. When Angela’s own life is threatened, yielding up all of her lies and secrets, she and Kellen must figure out how to reverse the geopolitical firestorm she lit to save the world, to save Kellen’s cat…and just maybe to save each other.

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Review of Perfect Gravity

Perfect Gravity is the second in Vivian Jackson’s series that starts with Wanted and Wired. I’m not really sure what the series title is. Goodreads says it is Tether. Amazon says it is Wanted and Wired. It doesn’t really matter. Both books are set in the same world with the same set of characters. Both books are complete stories that stand alone.

Vivian Jackson can really write a nice sentence. A lot of nice sentences. And then string them together to make a story that is one of the best investments in time that I have made this year. I love her writing as much as her ability to tell a tale.

Jackson’s writing is kind of unprose-esque, where ‘prose’ is defined as ordinary, everyday way of speaking. While I might think it would be cool to think and to talk the way she writes, in truth, I do not, nor do I know anyone who does. Nevertheless, it is colorful, eye-catching, whoa-stop wordsmithing and frankly, I am jealous. Here are some of my favorites:

He had a terrible voice, composed entirely of flats and sharps. But holy fuckturtle was he pretty.

And the core Kellen was more compassionate than eleven-tenths of the human population.

He was smitten. Incurably so. Probably had never gotten himself fully unsmut…

Most of us say ‘sharps and flats’. Leave it to Ms. Jackson to turn things around to get my attention. That ‘flats and sharps’ line was in the prologue, so as soon as I started the book, I knew I was in for some fun stuff. Here are a few more phrases I appreciated:

“brain-screamingly”
“creepifying blue-bloodery”
“Schrödinger-esque uncertainty”

I’m not sure which I appreciated more – the writing or the story. If I am honest, sometimes I got so caught up in the writing that it got in the way of me just sitting back and enjoying the story. Not too much though.

Leaving behind my admiration of the writing, I’ll move on to the story and characters. Non-stop action comes to mind. Also, heat-fueled emotion. Very emotional. In a good way.

Angela is an alpha heroine. As a long time politician, she is accustomed to taking charge, making decisions and expecting others to follow. She is a strong, intelligent woman.

On the surface, Kellen may appear to be beta, supportive and taking his cues from Angela. But in his own animal-filled world, he is the supreme commander because of his utmost respect for the animals. With people, again, his respect for others enables him to intuit when to take charge and when to allow others to lead. I think I fell for Kellen, more than I have for any other heroes I’ve read about lately.

Kellen and Angela have a past. They met, fell in love, and moved on when they got older and personal goals got in the way of their relationship. That is the short version. It is, of course, much more complex and you will see the story told through flashbacks and remembrances. When they reunite in the present time-line of the story, the past will be both a blessing and a hindrance. I could tell, they were still in love. But they also had the same personal goals that would get in the way. Kellen and Angela will need to figure each other out for the relationship to grow into something sustainable, and to achieve perfect gravity.

Perfect Gravity has politics, war, ethics, social change, romance, animal rescue, people rescue, good cyborgs, bad cyborgs, and lots and lots of tech. And a cat. I must not forget to mention Zoink. Zoink is a cat, cybernetically altered to be a sort of communications officer, translating between humans and animals. Zoink’s speech is a bit formal, but she gets her point across. “Lucky cat says sum of luck is proportional to number of belly rubs sustained,……More rubbing is urgently required.” Despite Zoink’s high-tech-edness, Zoink is still a cat that purrs, rubs against people and has her favorite humans. Zoink is one cool cat!

Ms. Jackson must be a scifi/fantasy geek. I felt the influence of Firefly and The Princess Bride, and there was at least one direct Dune reference. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more classics, directly or indirectly referenced, that I did not notice.

At the end of Perfect Gravity, it is hard to tell where things will head next in this series. But there are other characters whose stories might yet be told. For one thing, the space station that played a role in Wanted and Wired has gone dark. What happened to it and the queen that ran it? Then there is fae-light Marie, quirky, cheerful, and yet, with the ability to be ruthless when needed. And finally, Garrett with his alien conspiracy theories. I kind of like the idea of introducing aliens to this world, just when they don’t need any more complications.

Five stars for Perfect Gravity – I love this series!

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Links

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Purchase Perfect Gravity:

Purchase Wanted and Wired:

What Are You Reading This Weekend?

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The Antlered Ship Cover by Eric Fan

For kids, I recommend The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater with fabulous illustrations by the Fan brothers.  BTW, it’s a great story too!

Art available at Society6.

I’m reading a new scifi/steampunk novel by R. J. Theodore.  It’s called Flotsam and is the first in a series called Peridot Shift.  I admit, I was drawn in by the cover.  🙂 So far, it’s been all action and colorful characters!

On the audiobook side, I’m listening to Beneath a Waning Moon.  This is actually two books in one, featuring the very gothic A Very Proper Monster by Elizabeth Hunter which I’ve actually finished, and Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven.  As you might have guessed by the title, I am immersed in steampunk right now!

What are you reading this weekend?