Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Catching up

As usual, I'm behind with reviews, two books in fact, reading quite a lot but busy with other things so not a lot of time for blogging at the moment. First up, The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss. I talked a bit about this one in my last post.
Mary Jekyll has just lost her mother after a long illness. She's now mistress of her own household but there's very little money and she's going to have to find a way to earn some. She believes her father to be dead (he is the 'Jekyll' from Robert Louis Stevenson's book) but discovers that his close friend 'Hyde' might still be alive. And there's a reward out for him that would temporarily solve her financial problems. Thus begins the adventure of a lifetime as Mary discovers other women like herself who are the product of mad scientists, such as Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, Beatrice Rappaccini, and Diana who is Mary's unknown sister. Aiding and abetting Mary and the motley group are Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. This was huge fun. An unusual premise this, bringing the offspring or creations of these literary characters together in one book. I don't know why someone hasn't thought of it before, perhaps they have and I just haven't noticed. Anyway, 'very' enjoyable, not to be taken too seriously and thus hugely entertaining. I already have the second book, European Travel for Monstrous Gentlewomen, on my Kindle. It suits my autumnal reading plans very nicely.
Lastly, Beyond Time: Classic Tales of Time Unwound edited by Mike Ashley. I'm not a huge fan of time travel stories if I'm honest. I have this because it came as a free review copy from the British Library and because I'm in the mood for wierd fiction at the moment I thought I'd see what it was like. Glad I did because it was far more enjoyable than I was expecting. Most of the authors I'd not heard of and it turns out those were the ones I liked the most. The Reign of the Reptiles by Alan Connell investigates the idea that reptiles might have created man. Friday the Nineteenth by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding is a well told 'time-loop' story of a man wanting to leave his wife for her best friend. Manna by Peter Philips is about the disappearance of 'miracle meal' cans from a factory in a small village. Turns out the food is being nicked by monks from centuries ago. Fun story. The Shadow People by Arthur Sellings is a creepy story of a shadowy couple travelling back in time to escape the end of the world. And the final story in the collection, Dial 'O' for Operator by Robert Presslie, was the best of the bunch in my opinion. A woman dials the operator from a call box somewhere near the docks in London. Some 'thing' is following her, a shadowy, dark mass, and is trying to ooze into the phonebox via the cracks. Very edge of your seat! All in all, I enjoyed the stories that weren't based on mad scientists more than those that were. The writing was superb in every case and every story was very readable, making this an excellent collection. I do find Mike Ashley a very reliable editor of anthologies and am always happy to read any of his British Library collections. I even have a non-BL collection of Sherlock Holmes stories edited by him so perhaps that would make good autumn or winter reading too.


Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I must admit that lockdown and partial lockdown have given me plenty of time at home to do things, but motivation has been sadly lacking and has won out most of the time! The prospect of another six months like this, isn't really appealing and I have to find a better way of dealing with things both physically and emotionally!

My reading has increased somewhat, however much of that is down to a new e-publisher I have been working with, who are very efficient, but do have a down side, as all of their Blog Tours are review only and NetGalley generally only make the books available 4-6 weeks out. That means I am constantly up against the clock, so if anything else crops up, I'm a bit stymied!

I have also been reading out of my usual comfort zones, although like yourself, I have enjoyed some quite interesting and unique experiences and can't really think of a book I have wanted to put aside unread.

Having said that, I am holding back a little on both your choices this time, although the Theodora Goss book has appeared in so many blog posts, that the idea of reading it is growing on me all the time. If the ratings are anything to go by, the second book is going to better than the first, with book #3 taking top star ratings. This is obviously one series which is growing on people, so perhaps I should get in on the action before it's too late!

Thanks for sharing and stay safe :)

Yvonne xx

Susan said...

I'm totally up for an entertaining, not-to-be-taken-too-seriously read, so I'm for sure going to check out The STRANGE CASE ... it sounds super fun!

Kay said...

I feel like I'm finally back in a good reading groove - good pace and good books. I totally intend to read that Goss book. The daughters of so many 'monsters' sounds like a lot of fun. And good fall reads. However, I am going as the mood takes me these days, reading wise anyway. I'm just grateful for books and reading. I get in trouble when I do too much heavy thinking. Ha!

Sam said...

Both of these sound really good, Cath. I've seen Alchemist's Daughter around for a long time, but for some reason it just kind of blended together in my mind with a lot of other books with similar titles and covers. I never even picked it up. Your review makes it sound like so much fun that I'm going to try to snag a copy from my library.

I absolutely love time-travel books. Beyond Time sounds good, too. I'll have to find out more about that one, also.

Hope you are doing well these days. I kind of have an idea of what daily life is like in your part of the world via a condensed version of Good Morning Britain that I watch on BritBox every weekday morning. It only runs about 40 minutes, though, so I'm not sure if they are editing the content from only one point of view or not.

Lark said...

I haven't read Goss's second book yet, but I can't wait to hear what you think of it...and if it's as good as her first one. :)

TracyK said...

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter sounds more and more appealing. I will put it on a list and look into it more.

I like time travel, but haven't read a lot of short stories of that type. My husband has a huge book of time travel stories and I have read a few of those.

CLM said...

I really like time travel but only if well done and I wouldn't have thought a short story format would lend itself to the setup needed for a well thought out story. Still, it sounds intriguing.

And the Theodora Goss sounds fascinating! My library seems to have several of her books so I am in good shape.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Both of these seem a bit out of my comfort zone yet, are intriguing as well. Pandemic reading has been up and down for me.

Cath said...

Yvonne: Yes, it does look like another 6 months of partial lockdown is on the cards. We've never really come out of it, only for shopping trips and visits from our daughters... and when P went into hospital for 2 weeks of course. Luckily neither of us minds being at home and we're lucky enough to have a large garden.

I hate reading against the clock which is why I don't do blog tours or accept many arcs. I would worry about getting swamped and getting behind.

Have a good weekend!

Susan: Yes, The Alchemist's Daughter is well worth checking out, we all need light heartedness at the moment.

Kay: Pleased to hear you're back in your reading groove. Like you I'm very much going where my mood takes me at the moment, and it's wandering all over the place! LOL

Sam: Good idea to get The Alchemist's Daughter from the library. I snagged mine off Amazon when it was really cheap but the second book was a little more expensive, hopefully it will be worth it.

Beyond Time would suit you I think as I know you like time travel books.

We're doing ok thanks. My husband's health issues continue to take centre stage, he's going on to insulin for his diabetes next week after nearly 20 years of managing to hold it off via diet. The dr. think his poor insulin levels made him more susceptible to the pneumonia back in June. So we'll see how that pans out.

Cath said...

Lark: I hear that the second book is even better than book one. And European travel is involved so that suits my love of armchair travelling. :-)

Tracy: I'm not much of a time travel fan, but the vintage tone of these stories made them a lot more appealing to me. Bit like the vintage crime stories - they were so well written.

Constance: The short story format worked for me... I think because I'm not a time travel fan. I've read a few full length stories and got rather bored with the concept. The Time Traveler's Wife drove me nuts for instance.

Diane: I've found myself reading some unusual things since covid arrived. Books that wouldn't normally interest me are now part of my regular fare. Strange.