Thursday’s Tale: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

I know "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is not actually a folk tale, but it has become so familiar to us, so much a part of our culture, that I think it still fits in my rather loose Thursday Tales collection. I've read the story of the schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane several times and I love the descriptions of the area and the locals. It really sets the stage for the story. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequesntly see strange sights and hear music and voices in  the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols. The dominant spirit however that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the...
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The Paradise of Devils by Franco Di Mare

I enjoyed the rather meandering quality of The Paradise of Devils. The story centers around Carmine Cacciapuoti, but skips around in time from his present, to his childhood, to defining moments in his life. Carmine is a lot like Naples itself. He's a philosophical former scholar, who has become a hit man. His girlfriend Lena, a teacher, thinks he's a computer salesperson of some type and he is trying to keep the two parts of his life, his home and his job, separate. Of course, you can only keep secrets like that for so long before the whole thing starts to unravel. The book is translated from Italian and as far as I could tell it was done well enough. There are a couple of odd Americanisms, like Lena wondering if Carmine would say he was working with the Secret Service or FBI - of course not, he's in Italy; that would be a stupid lie to tell. Carmine is many...
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The Lazarus Curse by Tessa Harris

I could break The Lazarus Curse down into three parts: the mystery- what happened to Matthew Bartlett, the botanist/artist who disappeared upon returning from Jamaica; the background research and storyline on the plight of slaves who were brought to England by their masters; and what's going on with Lydia, Thomas' lover. The mystery was okay. There's supposedly a Lazarus Potion that can bring people back from the dead, and the theory is that the expedition found the formula and someone killed Bartlett for the information. There were a couple of suspects but no good option. The wrap-up to this part surprised me in a good. It was interesting how it worked out, even if I don't entirely understand the reasoning. The part of the plot centering around the slaves was the most engrossing. There were Americans currently staying in London. In England at the time, slavery was not legal, but the American's slaves are still more or less considered property for all intents and purposes. Thomas sees the unfairness...
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Audiobook Review: The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

I don't know where to start with my feelings about The Long Way Home. I love this series, but this was not one of my favorite installments. Even though it's a mystery, it's more interested in character than plot, in thoughts and feelings than actions, which has been true of all Penny's books; it's what makes them stand out. It also makes it a series best read from the beginning, to know the characters, to learn their stories, the things that are important to them, how they interact with each other. However, it can also make it slow, a bit plodding. It's also not a typical mystery in that it doesn't start with a crime, it starts as the search. There are eventually crimes uncovered, and there is a murder, but not til late in the story. I don't think that's really a spoiler: there's always a murder in her mysteries. I hate to admit that I didn't actually like Peter....
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Thursday’s Tale: Wickedly Magical by Deborah Blake

"Wickedly Magical" is a re-working of the Baba Yaga lore. As you may know, Baba Yaga is a strong, powerful, frightening witch who comes to us from Slavic folklore. She often lives in a hut that  stands on chicken legs and is sometimes surrounded by a fence with a skull on each pole. Sometimes the hut has a door which is not revealed unless a magical phrase is uttered. In most tales, Baba Yaga is portrayed as an antagonist; however, some characters have been known to seek her out for her wisdom. She often fulfills the function of donor; that is, her role is in supplying the hero, sometimes unwillingly, with something necessary to further his quest. Seeking out her aid is a dangerous act though. Any hero, or heroine, who seeks her out needs to be properly prepared and pure of spirit. He or she also needs to be polite. It is said she ages one year every time she is...
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Review: The Art Whisperer by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins

Title: The Art Whisperer (Alix London #3) Authors: Charlotte and Aaron Elkins Published: August 19, 2014 by Thomas Mercer Genre: Mystery Rating: 3 out of 5 stars Add: Goodreads Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Audible When art conservator Alix London spots a forgery, she knows trouble will follow. So she’s understandably apprehensive when her connoisseur’s eye spots something off about a multimillion-dollar Jackson Pollock painting at Palm Springs’s Brethwaite Museum—her current employer. Alix is already under fire, the object of a vicious online smear campaign. Now the Brethwaite’s despicable senior curator, obsessed with the “maximization of monetized eyeballs,” angrily refuses to decommission the celebrated Pollock piece. But it’s only when a hooded intruder attacks Alix in her hotel room that the real trouble begins. And when FBI Special Agent Ted Ellesworth—with whom Alix had inadvertently, but thoroughly, botched a budding relationship just a year prior—turns up to investigate the Pollock, Alix knows she’s about to have her hands full. In her third mystery, Alix London must see...
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