Monthly Archives: August 2015

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Mystery, #1)A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Curious Beginning
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell, #1
Pages: 352
Publisher: NAL/Penguin
Date: September 1, 2015


London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.


I have to make something clear right from the start about this book. I loved it! I absolutely loved it! Stoker is wonderful and Veronica is one of my all time favorite heroines. If ever there was a woman who knew what she wanted, Veronica is that woman.

As stated in the description, Stoker and Veronica are “in search of the villainous truth.” The plot has twists and turns. Backstories that are alluded to, but not fully explained. Heroes, or are they villains, keep popping up.
And some of the best dialogue I have ever read. Let me give you just a few examples.

Stoker and Veronica are trying to determine why someone is trying to abduct her and Veronica does not accept his hypothesis at all.

That is a tale straight from one of Mrs. Radcliffe’s thrillers, Stoker. I expected better from you.”

It is a perfectly logical hypothesis, he returned.

Now, do shut up and stop interrupting whilst I’m being interesting.”

I love that last line.

Another one:

Stoker has recently introduced Veronica to a friend of his – another strong willed woman.

“I was merely thinking it may have been a very grave mistake to introduce you to Lady C. If the pair of you ever put your minds to it, you could probably topple governments together.

One thing at a time, dear Stoker. One thing at a time.”

And finally, and this so represents their relationship:

“Of course, as had become our habit, we quarreled over what the end should be — or at least Stoker quarreled and I carried on doing precisely as I wished.”

I adore Veronica. She reminds me a lot of Amelia Peabody (by Elizabeth Peters) or Alexia Tarabotti (by Gail Carriger). If you enjoy either of these series, you will love this one.

I am a big fan of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia books, but this book tops those. I cannot wait for the sequel. No word on that yet, but I’m watching for it.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Filed under Historical, Mystery, Realistic, Romance

Le Tomcat Diaries: Lies, Fries, & Blue Skies in the South of France by E. A. Menches

Le Tomcat Diaries: Lies, Fries, & Blue Skies in the South of FranceLe Tomcat Diaries: Lies, Fries, & Blue Skies in the South of France by E.A Menches

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Le Tomcat Diaries: Lies, Fries, & Blue Skies in the South of France
Author: E. A. Menches
Series: n/a
Pages: 119
Publisher: self published
Date: April 6, 2015


Mr. Blinkers is not happy about emigrating to the South of France with Hans and Victoria, though he has been promised fountains of tuna.

He should have known it was all a ploy. A British tabby cat knows better than to expect paradise in a foreign country. His point is duly proven when the Provencal villa that they move into turns out to be a disaster.

From the moment the dubious, perfume-laden vendors arrive, things go south for the family.

A perceptive tabby with incomparable skills of deduction, Mr Blinkers is set on a journey to discovering all the aches and pains of the villa, while Hans and Victoria try to recover their losses. At the same time he is adrift in a new place, and not a very nice one.

Follow Mr. Blinkers as his humans survive in the Provencal villa, and he meets his lifelong love Roe, while floods threaten to wash away his favourite sleeping spot. Blinkers will come face to face with Jinx, a one-eared tomcat who terrorizes the street, HIS street.

As Blinkers helps his humans navigate the treacherous French property market, a revenge plot unfolds involving a yappy poodle, the earless shadow cat and a very long, very slippy slide. In the end who knows what lessons Blinkers may pass onto his humans, in his endless quest for more attention, more power, and more tuna.

Join Mr. Blinkers in Le Tomcat Diaries and discover how NOT to invest in the French property market.


Okay, I loved this book. Yes, I am a cat lover, but I have read cat books that I did not care for. This was not one of them. Menches nailed the cat personality. It was anthropomorphized, but definitely with a strong feline viewpoint.

Mr. Blinkers (poor cat – we humans do come up with the most ridiculous names sometimes) is not happy. He’s not happy about the human male who lives with his human. He’s not happy about moving anywhere, much less someplace outside of his neighborhood. He’s not happy when his tuna does not show up on schedule.

He’s not happy.

And, of course, being a cat, he shows his unhappiness through destructiveness. Nothing, however, can top the disaster that is his new home.

That is the point of the book.

Hans and Victoria purchase a house in the South of France and it is a money pit. The seller and attorney take advantage of their ignorance of the area and they end up with a house that is literally falling apart.

Even worse, they move next door to a dog! Into a neighborhood where there is a cat who bullies and terrorizes all the other cats. Obviously, Mr. Blinkers must take charge.

The entire book is written in first person by Mr. Blinkers. That is what makes it so much fun. Everything is from his viewpoint.

My only caveat regarding the book is to skip the epilogue. The book degenerates into a sales pitch for a company helping people to purchase property in France. Up to that point, I loved it and I still give it five stars.

It is really that entertaining.

This book was sent to me by the author in return for an honest review.

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Filed under Contemporary, Humor