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November 29th - Small Business Saturday

With the holidays approaching, plan to be here for Small Business Saturday. We’re joining in with Pioneer Square to wheel and deal and have great things going on! And we’re working on getting extra staff - as in local authors Urban Waite and Jeanne Matthews - to help us sell books, along with Bernadette Pajer, who will be here signing her latest novel!                                                        

New Author Signings

Saturday December 13th at Noon - Rachel Bukey signs Leap of Faith

Double Signing With Waverly Curtis!

Seattle Times journalist Ann Dexter believes she’s found her ticket to a Pulitzer, her debut mystery! A rich widow commits suicide, leaving all her money to a New Age church of questionable repute. She hopes to not only prove the organization is a fraud but to prove the widow was murdered.

Saturday December 13th at Noon - Waverly Curtis signs The Chihuahua Always Sniffs Twice

4th with PI Geri Sullivan and her talking companion Pepe. The estate of wealthy widow Lucille Carpenter was left entirely to her beloved dogs and now someone is poisoning them. As you might imagine, this makes Pepe caliente under the collar. “Waverly Curtis” is the local writing team of Waverly Fitzgerald and Curt Colbert.

Tuesday March 17th at Noon - Leslie Budewitz signs Assault and Pepper

Start of new series set in the Pike Place Market. After a divorce and being downsized, Pepper Reece makes a leap by opening a tea and spice shop. Her concoctions are a hit with customers and fellow merchants – then a homeless man is found dead on her doorstep one morning with a cup from her shop in his hand.  To save her shop and her dreams she probes the death.

Signed Books! In The Shop Now!

Timothy Hallinan - Herbie's Game

It’s everyday business when Wattles, the San Fernando Valley’s top “executive crook,” sets up a hit. He establishes a chain of criminals to pass along the instructions and the money, thereby ensuring that the hitter doesn’t know who hired him. Then one day Wattles finds his office safe open and a single item missing: the piece of paper on which he has written the names of the crooks in the chain. When people associated with the chain begin to pop up dead, the only person Wattles can turn to to solve his problem is Junior Bender, professional burglar and begrudging private eye for crooks.

But Junior already knows exactly who took Wattles’s list: the signature is too obvious. It was Herbie Mott, Junior’s burglar mentor and second father—and when Junior seeks him out to discuss the missing list, he finds Herbie very unpleasantly murdered. Junior follows the links in the chain back toward the killer, and as he does, he learns disturbing things about Herbie’s hidden past. He has to ask himself how much of the life he’s lived for the past twenty years has been of his own making, and how much of it was actually Herbie’s game.

Louise Penny - The Long Way Home

Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he’d only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands. “There is a balm in Gilead,” his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, “to make the wounded whole.”While Gamache doesn’t talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache’s help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. “There’s power enough in Heaven,” he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, “to cure a sin-sick soul.” And then he gets up. And joins her.

Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Québec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have. The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence river.  To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it the land God gave to Cain. And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul.    

What We've Been Reading

Preston & Child - Blue Labyrinth

One or Two Signed Copies Left But They Are All Most Gone! Get Yours Today!

Fran Recommends:

This is the time of year when I generally go into my reading slump, which is not necessarily a bad thing since I’ll have to come up with my Best Of lists soon, and we all know how long those can be for me!

However, I picked up Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s latest “Pendergast” book, Blue Labyrinth and it was just the book I needed to read right now.

I don’t want to go into too much detail. If you’ve read the series (and you should), then I can tell you that Blue Labyrinth starts off with a dead body deposited at Pendergast’s front door, followed by a car chase that leaves Proctor badly injured and the Rolls quite possibly beyond repair.  And that’s just the opening chapter!

Many of our old friends are back, and it’s good to be back in this world, even if what being thrown at Pendergast is both disturbing and, oddly, a relief. The case Acosta has taken up is equally intriguing, and of course it takes Pendergast’s insight to make sense of what’s happening there.

I think one of the best things about this series, in addition to the characters and the intricate and astonishing plots, is the sprinkling of scientific and historical tidbits. Pendergast is one of the greatest repositories of arcane knowledge that I’ve ever encountered, and Preston and Child throw in sparkling gems with off-handed casualness that is just delightful and educational.

Always interesting, consistently entertaining, and strangely educational. What more do you want from a thriller?

Agatha Christie - The Hollow

Amber’s project for 2014: My 52 Weeks of Agatha Christie. Here’s her explanation.

Series: Poirot

Summary: Lucy Angkatell and her husband are hosting a weekend party for her family at her home, The Hollow. However it is a recipe for disaster as many family gatherings are, unrequited love, extramarital affairs, an ex-lover, hero worship, anxiety and rejection are all bubbling under the surface of the seemingly placid gathering. The hidden turmoil boils over just a moment before Poirot enters The Hollow, leaving him in an awkward position of investigating a murder scene instead of partaking in lunch.

Review: Did you know playing cards have been around since around the ninth century? Who knew? Well I suppose you guys did, because you're smart - but I didn’t! The Chinese are widely believed, by people much more learned than myself, to have invented them. These same very smart people think they spread via the Silk Road (it should be noted, the spread was very slow because the original decks were very ornate and expensive so usually only royalty or the very wealthy had access to the packs) to Egypt. Where history gets a mite hazy - we know cards made it into Europe but no one is quite sure how. Some say Marco Pollo, gypsies, Crusaders or traders brought these decks into European courts for sport. It wasn’t until someone got a bright idea to make woodcut copies did the decks catch on with the unwashed masses, so to speak. 

Then somewhere in fourteenth century Italy, the playing card morphed into what we think of Tarot today (now there are many places which treat tarot decks just like regular playing cards - France and Italy for instance - or use regular playing cards for tarot readings). What I find interesting is the deck most often seen, used and imitated has only been around since 1909, the Waite-Smith tarot deck (there are a crap load of variants on this deck’s name so I am going to choose one at random and stick with it). The booklet included in the deck interpreting the cads was written by A.E. Waite, who later wrote a more comprehensive guide. The big deal of this deck is it was only the second fully illustrated set of tarot cards and the first mass produced set. While you may not recognize the name of the deck or had your fortune read chances are you’ve seen the art Pamela Colman Smith created for them.

The Waite-Smith deck is by far the most famous in Pamela’s portfolio, yet it is only one small part of her career. Beyond the deck Pamela did illustration work for Bram Stoker, William Butler Yeats and Ellen Terry - she also contributed her art to the suffragettes in Great Britain. She wrote and illustrated children's stories, created her own magazine (albeit short lived) and her paintings were influenced in later art movements (she was inspired by the music she was listening to while creating them). In 1907 she was the first painter ever to exhibit her work at Alfred Stieglitz’s The Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession (aka 291) which up until that point had only displayed avant guard photography (which furthered both the artist’s and galleries cachet). I seriously would have loved to meet this woman - however she died in 1951.

Why on earth is this relevant? Zena Christow, John’s young daughter uses tarot in order to read her father’s fortunes in the cards (and I like history so there you go). Out of the mouths of babes as the old saying goes, in this passage Zena foreshadows her father’s death for the audience, which I was completely relieved to read, as I did not like John Christow. 

Unlike Major Bletchley from N or M - who was specifically written to be one of the most thoroughly detestable characters in the Christie Canon - John Christow isn’t completely repugnant. He is just flawed in such a way that made me dislike him enough to hope he would meet with a grisly fate in a few pages, but I still wanted Poirot to find justice for him. With John, you can admire Christie’s skill in creating such a balanced character who is both a villain and victim. When the killer is finally unmasked, you find yourself admiring John Christow just a little more than you thought possible one hundred and ninety-one pages earlier. The metamorphosis or manipulation of your feelings is what makes this book worth reading. The other bits about our absent-minded hostess, and thwarted and discovered love affairs add a bit of spice to the dish - but the meat of this book really is Christie’s deft warping of her reader’s understanding of John Christow. (Now mind you if you’ve seen the play but not read the book you may not agree with my assessment - since more often than not John Christow is made out to be a complete villain, i.e.. no redeemable qualities - in the book he is far more nuanced. So to be completely domineering you should read the book tout suite!)

In addition to John’s murder, Christie also used this tarot scene as a clever way to introduce/foreshadow all the house party participants who would be suspected of the murder. This scene is not the only bit of foreshadowing used in the book, it is just the most important (I think). However this book can be used as a guide for writers as a how-to on using this literary device since it is used so often through out The Hollow. What I admire most about Christie’s use of foreshadowing in the book is it never feels clumsy or always overtly obvious. You can pass it by on a page without it leaping out at you - until the foretold event comes around and sit back and think, “Hey! I see what you did there!”. But here’s the thing, the book never felt repetitive to me. Christie twisted the situation enough so it seemed new, while still recognizable for what it was. Which is why I think it would make a great work for a budding writer to study. 

I cannot say this book is an absolute favorite within Christie’s canon of works; I can say this is a book I hold in the highest of regards (the best of the best pot roast I ever tasted). I just want to pull The Hollow apart like a piece of taffy - to figure out how exactly Christie pulled off foreshadowing so may events so seamlessly in one book. It really astonishes me how well it all worked!

Favorite Quote: 

“The ingredients of the pudding are not promising.”(pg. 8)

“These Things happens to other people...They can’t happen to us.” (pg. 116)

“Her mind went round and round unhappily...like a trapped animal.” (pg. 34)

Cheating: Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving? Seriously, where did the time go this year! Can you believe I have actually made it 47 weeks without cheating? Neither can I!

My 52 Weeks With Christie: A.Miner©2014

Holiday Mysteries!

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Collectible Corner

Ellis Peters - The Confession Of Brother Haluim

Book Condition - Very Good / DJ Condition - Very Good

New York: Mysterious Press, 1988. First American edition. Hard Cover.
Signed on title page. Slight shelf wear to bottom edges of book and jacket. 15th in the Brother Cadfael series. In mylar dj protector.

Ellis Peters - The Heretic's Apprentice

Book Condition - Fine / DJ Condition - Fine

New York: Mysterious Press, 1990. First American edition. Hard Cover.
Signed on title page. barest hint of shelf wear, light foxing to tops of pages, otherwise as new. 16th with Brother Cadfael. In mylar dj protector.

YA Mysteries!

R.C. Lewis - Stitching Snow

Seven loyal drones who work in the mines and a hard earned reputation as the best cage fighter in the Station has afforded Essie solitude. For seven years she has worked hard, and has slowly etched out her own small patch on Thanda. But like all good things….One night while walking home Essie watches a shuttle streaking from the sky and crash in the flats. An illegal visitor… Essie decides to help get him on his way, lessening the chance government officials will notice him and come sniffing around the Station. Essie wasn’t just looking for solitude on Thanda; she was hiding, and now someone has found her.

I could not put this book down. Funnily enough it is one of the most original books I have read so far this year. I say funnily, because it is based (very loosely) on the fairy tale “Snow White”. Lewis has re-imagined all the characters, politics and setting, creating a whole new concept for the story while keeping the essentials of the original fairy tale. Interestingly, knowing this book is based on “Snow White”, I could pick out the familiar elements of the story. However if you didn’t know this fact, it would read like a great suspense/action adventure novel which could stand on its own.

This book captured my attention from the start and would not let me go. I would recommend this book for any girl (or open minded boy as there is a strong male lead in it as well) twelve or older. I cannot stress how much I enjoyed reading this book! Seriously Snow White in outer space with robots sounds like the punch line to a joke, I know, but it really works!

Brandon Sanderson - Steelheart

David was eight (ish) when Calamity came, a burst in the sky which gave extraordinary powers to ordinary people. These were the powers we had only ever dreamed of in comic books, where super heroes and villains vied for power. And more often than not, the heroes won the day.

Only the heroes never came.

Instead, the government signed the Capitulation Act, basically saying no epic would ever be prosecuted for any crime they committed. And slowly over the next ten years the world was carved into small fiefdoms ruled by the smartest (or cleverest) epic, for as long as they could defend their territory. One of the strongest epics in the world is Steelheart; an epic who rules Newcago through fear and intimidation (to be fair, there is no benevolent epic ruler). Steelheart is an epic whose skin is impervious, has the strength of ten men, turn things to steel and wield energy…in other word is invincible.

The government gave up and no one ever fights back. Except the Reckoners. The Reckoners are a shadowy group which hunts down epics and assassinates them. Because all epics have a flaw, an Achilles heel so to speak. The problem, they are often simple, very esoteric and difficult to unravel. It has been ten years since the fateful day in the bank, when David’s father was murdered by Steelheart. For ten years David has been studying, planning, assessing the best way to assassinate Steelheart and his minions. David knows something that all the others who have faced him have not…he has seen Steelheart bleed, and plans to make him do so again.

This is an absolutely FANTASTIC book. I cannot say enough good things about it. It is a smart action-filled story which never drags or moralizes the situations the characters find themselves in. This is the first book in what will probably become a trilogy, and it starts off with a bang. I enjoyed following the mystery, what made Steelheart bleed? What is his weakness and how can it be exploited to maximum effect? Who exactly are the Reckoners and can they be trusted? It is a well-thought-out and plotted book; the author does a great job in resolving the mysteries in the first book while hinting and what may/will come in subsequent books. I cannot give exact details, as I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but trust me when I say this is a great book. I would recommend it for any male reader 13+ (or open minded girl as there are several strong females, but it is told exclusively from David’s pov) looking for a different kind of hero/super power book. You cannot go wrong.

Beautiful Gift Books!

L. Frank Baum - The Wizard Of Oz

Dorothy thinks she's lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival--will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?
A new and fun edition of this classic - the cover art is all done with different colored chalks! Affordable and fun for anyone looking to read this wonderful classic!

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More Beautiful Gift Books!

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Cary Elwes - As You Wish

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in "The Princess Bride," comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.
"The Princess Bride" has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, "The Princess Bride "will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come. Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In "As You Wish" he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories. With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, "As You Wish" is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.