Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Have you ever read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley? The original book? I have not. We watched The Strange Life of Dr. Frankenstein on  TCM about Mary Shelley and this famous book. I thought it was pretty interesting and wanted to know more about her. I thought this would be good to share for Halloween.


When you hear "Frankenstein", what do you think of? I think of two movies; the 1931 adaptation with Boris Karloff and Colin Clive or the 1974 adaptation with Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle. There are so many movies made about this character. From just Frankenstein to movies about Frankenstein's bride, comic adaptations with Abbot and Costello, Frankenstein's island, Jesse James meets Frankenstein's daughter (really?), Dracula and Frankenstein and kids version called Frankenweenie. I think I counted 60+. Do the movies follow the book?

Mary wrote Frankenstein in 1816 at the age of 18 on a writing challenge. According to the show we watched, Mary had run away with her lover Percy Shelley when she was 16. They traveled and stopped in Switzerland for awhile. In the summer of 1816, they spent the summer hanging out with Lord Byron, John William Polidori and Claire Clairemont. They were all interested in writing etc, and also opium laced wine. One of the group set forth a challenge that they all write something spooky and report back. Apparently Mary was having quite a time with trying to come up with an idea and the group was really giving her a hard time. Finally the idea for the Frankenstein book came to her in not a dream but a reverie. (I wonder if it had something to do with the wine).

Here is what the book is actually about:

"Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley about eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Shelley's name appears on the second edition, published in France in 1823. Shelley had travelled through Europe in 1814, journeying along the river Rhine in Germany with a stop in Gernsheim which is just 17 km (10 mi) away from Frankenstein Castle, where two centuries before an alchemist was engaged in experiments. Later, she traveled in the region of Geneva (Switzerland)—where much of the story takes place—and the topics of galvanism and other similar occult ideas were themes of conversation among her companions, particularly her lover and future husband, Percy Shelley. Mary, Percy, Lord Byron, and John Polidori decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for days, Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made; her dream later evolved into the story within the novel. Frankenstein is infused with elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement and is also considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction. Brian Aldiss has argued that it should be considered the first true science fiction story, because unlike in previous stories with fantastical elements resembling those of later science fiction, the central character "makes a deliberate decision" and "turns to modern experiments in the laboratory" to achieve fantastic results. It has had a considerable influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films, and plays. Since publication of the novel, the name "Frankenstein" is often used to refer to the monster itself, as is done in the stage adaptation by Peggy Webling. This usage is sometimes considered erroneous, but usage commentators regard the monster sense of "Frankenstein" as well-established and an acceptable usage. In the novel, the monster is identified via words such as "creature", "monster", "fiend", "wretch", "vile insect", "daemon", "being", and "it". Speaking to Victor Frankenstein, the monster refers to himself as "the Adam of your labours", and elsewhere as someone who "would have" been "your Adam", but is instead "your fallen angel."

It's pretty fascinating that a person in 1818 would think up the subject of bringing someone back to life, the procedure, using electricity etc. And for a woman to write about a subject like at the time was unheard of. I wanted to know a bit more about her also. The feature on Mary and the book, shared that her first child died as an infant. Some speculate that her loss triggered the ideas of bringing a person back to life. I found it interesting that so much of her bio was like a teenager in the 60's... A teenager has a boyfriend her father doesn't like, she drops out of school, runs away with the boyfriend, uses drugs, gets pregnant etc. Gosh.

Here is more about her life from Wiki:
Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.
After Wollstonecraft's death less than a month after her daughter Mary was born, Mary was raised by Godwin, who was able to provide his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his own liberal political theories. When Mary was four, her father married a neighbour, with whom, as her stepmother, Mary came to have a troubled relationship.[2][3]
In 1814, Mary began a romance with one of her father's political followers, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was already married. Together with Mary's stepsister Claire Clairmont, Mary and Shelley left for France and travelled through Europe. Upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816, after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.
 In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm near Viareggio. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53. 
Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Studies of her lesser-known works, such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844) and the biographical articles for Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1829–46), support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Mary Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin."

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Half-length portrait of a woman wearing a black dress sitting on a red sofa. Her dress is off the shoulder, exposing her shoulders. The brush strokes are broad.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Featuring on Friday: Janet Pywell

I was introduced to Janet Pywell by another author I like, Virginia King. She thought I may like Janet's Culture Crime series. Although I have only read one of the books so far I really liked it and am ready to move into the next book in the series. I think the settings and topics are different and if they are like the first book, pretty thrilling.

Janet Pywell

About Janet:

"My background is in travel and tourism and I use my experiences of living and travelling abroad and knowledge of locations as an integral part of scenes in my novels. I use my writing as an excuse to travel, meet new people and enjoy exotic food and drink from around the world. I have a passion for history and cultural heritage and I love to see people maintain deep-rooted traditions. Writing is a personal challenge for me. I love the entertainment and pleasure of plotting events and creating fictional characters and I hope that you, my reader, will find excitement and enjoyment from my work."


The Golden Icon is the prequel to the Culture Crime series. I finished this book recently and decided I would combine my thoughts and feature Janet in the same post.

About: "Josephine Lavelle, a once-famous opera singer who became an international outcast, has one last opportunity to resurrect her career. She was born to sing Puccini’s Tosca and is determined to earn the right to perform again on the world’s most prestigious and celebrated stages.

But her fight for the future she craves is derailed when her ex-husband embroils her in a cynical blackmail plot. She is forced to take possession of a solid gold icon, part of a secret hoard of art treasures stolen by the Nazis - that dangerous men are prepared to kill for.

As well as determining the fate of the Golden Icon, Josephine must come to terms with her past, and fight for her own life.

If only her choices were simple..."

I found this book to be a very suspenseful story with lots of twists, turns and surprises. There is also  interesting information about Italy, Ireland, art, and the art that the Nazi's stole during WWII. I really felt for Josephine. She worked so hard to be La Tosca, only to be thwarted by cads and thieves! Everyone is after the Golden Icon; Italy, Ireland, Josephine's ex-husband, her lover...and they will kill to get it. I wanted to jump right into Masterpiece, the first book, but I am behind in my reading. :(

Masterpiece (Book 1) Culture Crime Series
Masterpiece is book one in the Culture Crime series.

About: "Mikky is planning the heist of her life.
But when opera diva Josephine Lavelle appears on the scene her plans start to unravel.
An investigative journalist is intent on uncovering Josephine’s secret but Mikky faces a far greater threat from an unexpected source.
She stands to lose everything, including her life…
How far will she go to pursue her dream?
A gripping crime thriller. An exciting, fast-paced novel involving an exciting heist, an unusual robbery, and an innovative thief. Her secrets will have you hooked in the first book of this debut trilogy."

Josephine from the prequel is in this book and her secret, (which we know about from the prequel) is catching up with her. Mikky Dos Santos is introduced.  


Book of Hours is book two in the series.

About: "Mikky dos Santos, artist and photographer, is lured back to Malaga with the hope of rebuilding her past. When an old friend asks her to determine the authenticity of a rare manuscript she is drawn into a web of lies and deceit. Travelling to Bruges and Canterbury she must use all her experience and resources to face the trauma of her past and to find justice.

After a shocking discovery, a Janus figure in the art world forces her to make an exchange and she comes face to face with her friend’s murderer.

Will the price be too high for the retribution she seek." 


Stolen Script is book three.

About: "A Gripping International Crime Thriller from author Janet Pywell's Culture Crime Series. Artist and photographer, Mikky dos Santos is brilliant but rebellious. After a personal catastrophe in New York she insists on going to Greece to authenticate a valuable parchment where she makes a promise to return it to the Jewish museum in Rhodes. But time is running out and Nikos Pavlides isn't giving up the Torah easily. He's also hiding a deeper, darker secret and, as he plays a deadly game, the stakes are raised. Faced with drug dealers and human traffickers with no regard for life, Mikky's survival instincts kick in as she uncovers the sordid reality of the truth and its savage consequences. Fighting for her life, how will Mikky fulfil her promise? This enthralling, fast-paced thriller is an emotional roller coaster of shocking twists and turns... Set in New York (America), Izmir (Turkey) and Rhodes (Greece) this exciting novel will keep you turning the pages. 
It's A Deadly Game.."

As you can see, the books are all set in different countries. I love the covers of all of the books. The books all feature a piece of old/antique art, some of which are based on real items. 

 I have always been fascinated by archaeology, relics that are found and the history behind them. When I was a kid, I kind of thought I would like to go into archaeology, but then realized it took hours of sifting through dirt and not always finding anything. I don't have the patience for that. 
I also find the story of how the Nazis' stole so much art and that some has still not been found interesting and incredible. That story is in the prequel of course. Masterpiece is based on the painting The Concert by Vermeer that was stolen in 1990 and is still missing. The Book of Hours is about an illuminated manuscript. Illuminated manuscripts were made through the middle ages. The Stolen Script is about a Torah that turns up in a Jewish museum in Rhodes. 

As above, Janet's background is in travel and tourism, but she has also lived in many different places so has a good feel for some of the places her books are set in.

Janet has also written two books of short stories and a stand alone love story.


Red Shoes and Other Short Stories is "an eclectic mix of entertaining and interesting tales, some based on fact and others entirely on imagination."


Bedtime Reads: "Bedtime Reads consists of seventeen short stories based on relationships. Each individual tale spotlights a variety of compelling characters revealing their tangled emotions and complicated dreams. These bite-sized page-turners show the lengths to which some people will go in pursuit of happiness or revenge."

Note the writing on the cover: "Short stories leaving you stirred not shaken." Cute. :)


Ellie Bravo: "When Ellie Bravo loses her prestigious job and walks out on her partner, she decides to escape London for a new life as the marketing manager of a struggling IT firm.
But that’s when things start to really go wrong." 

All of Janet's books can be found on Amazon. You can download The Golden Icon for free at this time.

Janet has a great website. If you click on About Me (not the drop down list just the heading), there is a really good interview with her. Only about 11 minutes, but will give you a synopsis of the books, more about Janet and her writing process. I love how she and many authors seem to let the characters write the books. That is so interesting to me and mysterious.

Here is the link to Janet's website. If you like thrillers about different countries, history, and art, I think you will like The Cultural Crime series.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Featuring on Friday - Ed Lynskey

Today I want to tell you about an author who writes a few genres. I have read books from each of  three of his four cozy series.  I think I found Ed through a read and review offer and now I have read several of his books. He writes as Ed Lynskey and also under some pen names.

From Amazon page

"I'm a mystery author residing with my family not far from the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. I write four cozy mystery series, a private eye series, and stand alone crime novels. Our tuxedo cat is Frannie. I enjoy listening to jazz, and I'm a big Washington Nationals baseball fan."

I bet that is Frannie in the picture. :)

From Wiki: (condensed because there is ALOT to say about Ed)

Ed Lynskey is an American poet, critic, and novelist, mostly of crime fiction. He was born in Washington, D.C. where he still lives and works. He writes five mystery series, including the P.I. Frank Johnson Mystery Series, the Isabel & Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery Series, the Piper & Bill Robin Cozy Mystery Series, the Hope Jones (Nozy Cat) Cozy Mystery Series, and the Ginny Dove Cozy Mystery Series."
Ed has also written reviews for The New York Times, The Washington Post any many other major newspapers. He also has had poems appear in The Atlantic Monthly, American Poetry Review and Chicago Review. 
Lynskey's work has been compared with that of Loren D. Estleman, James Lee Burke, Daniel Woodrell, Bill Pronzini, and Robert Crais.

There are four series.

1. Isabel and Alma Trumbo series - eight books 
Quiet Anchorage
Quiet Anchorage is book one in the series. 
"Quiet Anchorage, Virginia, is like any other sleepy small town until Jake Robbins is murdered, and his fiancĂ©e Megan Connors is arrested for it. The laidback, good ole boy Sheriff Roscoe Fox feels smugly confident he’s got the right culprit, Megan Connors, locked up in his jail. It’s a feather in his cap to help give his re-election campaign for town sheriff a boost. However, not all the townies believe Sheriff Fox has so niftily solved Jake’s murder. Megan’s feisty septuagenarian aunts, Isabel and Alma Trumbo, are angry with Sheriff Fox. They decide they better set aside their hobby of playing Scrabble and get busy as amateur sleuths. They are avid mystery fans with their large home library filled with every whodunit they’ve read, so they know the tricks of their craft. They befriend the twentysomething Sammi Jo Garner who takes no guff off anybody and becomes the sisters’ assistant as they snoop away and unravel Jake’s murder mystery. The debut series novel from Ed Lynskey, QUIET ANCHORAGE is a fun addition to the cozy mystery genre in the tradition of  Agatha Christie, Jessica Fletcher, and Anne George."
I have read several of this series. I like it because the characters are quirky, the books are humorous and they all have a mystery.

2. Piper and Bill Robbins series - 2 books
The Corpse Wore Gingham is book one.
"Piper and Bill Robins, a retired married couple, are enjoying their leisure years spent in the tranquil, leafy Washington, D.C. suburb of Beverly Park, Virginia. Bill watches “Pawn Stars” on TV and mows his lawn while Piper shops for clothes and solves crossword puzzles. One sunny June afternoon, Emily Davenport, who lives in California, telephones Bill and asks if he’ll check on her elderly mother Anna living next door to the Robinses'. She hasn’t answered Emily’s repeated attempts to call. After Bill and Piper go over, they discover Anna lies murdered in her bed. The only found clue is her bloodstained gingham bathrobe. Appalled and even more outraged, Piper persuades Bill to become wife-and-husband amateur sleuths, and they set out to find Anna’s killer. Meantime, Bill’s younger sister Noreen, a retired CPA, joins the Robinses’ investigation. She taps her ex-cop boyfriend Rick Novak and her mysterious, opinionated tuxedo tomcat Snoozy Q for support. While the city homicide detectives run their official investigation, the skillful snoops Piper, Bill, and Noreen train their sights on four murder suspects. Besides a clean read and fair play modern “whodunit” mystery, The Corpse Wore Gingham offers cozy mystery fans likeable protagonists, good-natured humor, and a lively pace."
I have read both of these books and like them both. Also humorous, quick read and there is a cat!
3. Hope Jones Cozy Mystery series - Nozy Cat written as Lynn Key. There are three books in this series. The books are Nozy Cat 1, Nozy Cat 2 and Nozy Cat 3.
"Following her lifelong dream, Hope Jones opens the BrontĂ« Bookshop in the small town of Sweet Springs tucked away in the rolling, green hills of the Virginia piedmont. Her best friend Peggy Sue Roswell assists Hope along with her smart, spirited fifteen-year-old daughter Stacey. Their tuxedo cat Nozy Cat, the bookshop mascot, likes to sleep by the cash register while he guards it. One summer morning, Hope opens up the bookshop and finds the town’s handyman Hugo Spangler lying dead in the poetry section. Sergeant Trogg rules it a homicide and casts a hard eye on Hope and Peggy Sue as his prime suspects. Fortunately, Hope can rely on her incredibly clever, resourceful pet Nozy Cat when she gets busy applying her sleuthing skills to track down and identify the real murderer among the three suspects. The Hope Jones Cozy Mystery Series offers mystery fans a clean read and traditional whodunit with loads of good-natured humor and a perfect dose of the paranormal."
I have only read the first in this series but liked it a lot. I can relate to things in each of these series, they are all light mysteries and fun to read. 

4. Ginny Dove Mystery series: new series written as Lea Charles

Found Key
"Ginny Dove, a military widow, runs the Paisley Apron Diner in the small town of Sweet Springs, Virginia, located amid the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. She’s drawn into a homicide investigation when the young schoolteacher Ellie Blackburn is found slain on Pilgrims’ Knob, which Ginny owns. Along with her patient mother Marge and her irrepressible Aunt Cricket, Ginny sets out to learn what happened to Ellie. Acting Sheriff Roosevelt Baker soon comes to depend on Ginny’s sleuthing smarts and practical ideas to ferret out the right clues leading them to identify three murder suspects. When not operating the town diner and playing amateur sleuth, Ginny raises her rambunctious seven-year-old son Boone and begins her promising romance with Roosevelt. While searching to find the “key” to solve Ellie’s murder mystery and return harmony to Sweet Springs, Ginny also discovers a few personal things about herself. Mystery fans of Nevada Barr as well as Jim and Joyce Laverne will enjoy the humor, setting, and compassion found in the Ginny Dove Cozy Mystery Series."
I haven't had a chance to read this yet but I do have it on my Kindle.

5. P.I. Frank Johnson Mystery Series - six books
Pelham Fell Here is the first in the series. 
"PELHAM FELL HERE offers readers Frank Johnson's rich back story, an unusual departure from most of today's private eye series. We learn how the ex-military cop and part-time gunsmith Frank, now back living in his hometown of Pelham, Virginia, gets into the private investigator racket. He discovers somebody has killed his cousin Cody Chapman with a twelve-gauge shotgun blast. Enraged, Frank wants some answers and wants them fast. Was Cody involved in an illegal arms smuggling scheme? The disturbing mystery grows deeper when a pair of murderous deputy sheriffs ambush Frank on the river. After killing them in self-defense, Frank must take it on the lam while he continues his investigation, relying on his wits and smarts. Eventually, he finds a vicious group of Neo-Nazis holed up in a remote mountain castle may be behind Cody's murder. Frank realizes he's outnumbered and outgunned, but it hardly deters him from seeing the fight through to the end. Luckily, a couple of bounty hunter pals, Gerald and his kid brother Chet Peyton, throw in with Frank to even the odds. Events heat up to a frenetic pace until the climatic moment when Frank finds himself entangled in a dogfight for his very life. "

I have not had a chance to read any of the books in this series, but they have good reviews. 

Stand Alones:
1. A Clear Path to Cross: P.I. Sharon Knowles Mysteries

"This is a collection of 20 stories featuring P.I. Sharon Knowles. All but one of these early short stories appeared in the paper and online pulp venues, including the notable HandHeldCrime, during the Internet bubble of the early twenty-first century. Ed's succinct stories are told in a clear, crisp prose that always cuts to the chase. There are no wasted words in this book, which reveals more of the facets of Sharon Knowles' life as a thoughtful, caring private eye.
Short stories originally published in ezines and journals like HandHeldCrime, Orchard Press Mystery, and Detective Mystery Stories."

2. Ask The Dice (noir), Lake Charles (crime), Topaz Moon (crime) Wrong Orbits (suburban noir) Quetzal Motel (science fiction), Blood Diamonds (diamond heist) 

Here are the covers of three of the above.


Ed has several short story collections too. I recommend taking a look at his books. I really liked the ones I have read. He writes several genres. I bet you will find something you like.

Ed's books can be found on Goodreads and Amazon. Here is the wiki link for more information about him.