Are you in a book club? Looking for the next book club pick that will rival your previous good picks? I’ve stumbled across this one that proves to be a keeper. It’s called Coincidence and it’s JW Ironmonger’s US fiction debut. Ironmonger (dontcha love that name?) was born in East Africa and has been previously published in the UK where he now lives.
Ironmonger prolly lives in a quaint little house near 212B Baker Street. Not really, because that street is in London and Ironmonger (can’t stop saying that name!) lives in Shropshire, which, according to Wikipedia, is west of there.
So, more like a quaint little village that Hyacinth Bucket lives in.
Back to Coincidence:
Azalea Lewis’s life has been dominated by coincidences – a bizarre, and increasingly troubling, series of chance events so perfectly coordinated that any sane person would conclude that only the hidden hand of providence could explain them.
On Midsummer’s Day, 1982, at the age of three, Azalea was found wandering a fairground in England, alone, too young to explain what had happened to her or her parents. After a brief investigation, she was declared a ward of the court, and placed in foster care. The following year, the body of a woman – her mother – was found on a nearby beach. Everyone had forgotten about the little girl, and no connection was ever made. The couple who adopted Azalea brought her to Africa where – on Midsummer’s Day, 1992 – they were killed in a Ugandan uprising while trying to protect their children. Azalea is spared on that day, but as she grows into adulthood, she discovers that her life has been shaped by an uncanny set of coincidences – all of them leading back to her birth mother, and the three men who could have been her father, each who have played an improbable but very real role in her fate.
Troubled by what she has uncovered – and increasingly convinced that she, too, will meet her fate on Midsummer’s Day – she approaches Thomas Post, a rational-minded academic whose specialty is debunking our belief in coincidence, the belief that certain events are linked, even predestined by the hands of fate. Even as they fall in love, Thomas tries to help Azalea to understand her past as a series of random events – not divinely predetermined. Yet as the fateful date draws closer, Thomas begins to fear he may lose her all together; that she may throw herself into the very fate she fears.
I know right? Can’t wait to read it!! Doesn’t this sound like the perfect book club book?
Every year many families engage in their holiday traditions. My family is no different. I have been a public television fan since Sesame Street and Mister Rogers came on the air. In the Philadelphia metro region, I have come to look forward to watching holiday shows on my local station, WHYY. We are Dickens fans and competitively seek the latest or oldest or most unusual retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. My husband is a fan of the ghastly old Jacob Marley and his shackles.
Imagine my delight when I discovered there was a musical version of my fave holiday tale!
A Christmas Carol – The Concert, is the classic Dickens tale performed as a dramatic concert featuring a full symphony orchestra, choir, rhythm section, a Narrator, and three soloists. With a brand new score by Bob Christianson and Alisa Hauser, A Christmas Carol – The Concert has musical styles that range from classical and Broadway, to blues and gospel. Hear and see this classic ghost story as you’ve never heard it before!
I watched A Christmas Carol with trepidation; fearful that my Dickensian fantasies would be torn to shreds by a goofy guitar riff or an unusually uptempo piano beat.
I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed! A Christmas Carol – The Concert was everything I’d hoped it would be. It was the same tale that I loved, married by that magical je ne sais quoi that only public television can provide. A Christmas Carol certainly should be sung! The full throated narrator (E. Faye Butler) jolts you out of your seat as she introduces the tale. You are hooked as the performance draws you in. I didn’t move until Belle (Arya Daire) and Scrooge’s (Michael Aaron Linder) break up scene. Who knew a break up could be so emotional? I moved to grab tissues; I knew I would need more.
And I did need more tissues. Even though we all know the story of poor little Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit’s (one of many roles played by the talented Scott Coulter) beautiful ode to his son left me weeping and cursing old miserly Scrooge. Even though we all know how A Christmas Carol ends, isn’t it grand to see the old miser’s face wake up and realize he’s gotten a chance at redemption?
Yes it is. It is quite grand.
And so is this musical performance. Start to finish the concert kept me entertained and will be part of my holiday tradition in the future.
Now I want a sparkly jacket like the orchestra conductor (Amy Duran) and I want to learn to speak as majestically as The Narrator. In fact, I may practice on everyone I meet.
After I watch A Christmas Carol – The Concert one more time.
A Christmas Carol – The Concert airs December 22, check your local TV listings. Come back and tell me how you loved it!
I considered wearing a cowboy hat while writing this post, but I decided against it because…well, because. I guess because a cowboy hat is the closest item of clothing I could think of that might remind me of the newly formed New York City police department in 1845. Yeah, I didn’t know that prior to that, Gotham had no police force either.
Go figure, huh?
So, here we are with this delightful book by my bestie Lyndsay Faye, The Gods of Gotham which was published in 2012. It’s just been re-released in paperback and am I glad! Now more people can enjoy the tale of officer Timothy Wilde, the reluctant police officer. He does the wrong thing but for the right reasons. You kinda hafta love the poor sod as he can’t really help himself. He’s a police officer in a world of poor people just trying to earn a day’s wages so they can stay alive. Unfortunately, these days wages often include prostitution, theft, murder, and other sorts of vagaries. And here’s young Wilde, just barely one step above them. Enter a small child covered in blood with an outrageous story that sends Wild discovering the truth, about himself and the community of immigrants with whom he lives.
Fortunately, the hen (Lyndsay) has decided to cap in with me and have a palaver about the book and life. I asked her a few questions:
UNCONVENTIONAL LIBRARIAN: Do you drink coffee?
LYNDSAY FAYE: No. I’m a very wiry, highly strung person with a heartbeat like a hummingbird’s. Coffee makes me nervous and irritable. I drink massive amounts of tea, however, preferably floral or aromatic teas like Earl Grey or green jasmine. If I do drink coffee, it’s going to be at around four in the afternoon. My beautiful husband is a massive coffee snob, loves trying swanky blends, but I can’t taste the difference. Ask me a question about beer and I can be much more articulate.
UL: I don’t require coffee drinking so much as much as I require your desire to bring me a cup, so that’ll do. Do you like donuts or cookies? Do you dunk?
LF: I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but open a package of chips in front of me and it’s all over. That being said, I can be tempted by the rose flavored donuts from The Donut Plant, which feature rose water pudding, rose water glaze, and an edible candied rose petal, or else their tres leches donut. That was an incredibly specific answer, my apologies. But go to The Donut Plant if you are in NYC. I am deeply serious about this instruction. I don’t dunk because it’s extremely unlikely for me to be drinking coffee at the same time as eating a donut at The Donut Plant (go to The Donut Plant). Their matcha green tea donut is also pretty wild.
UL: Oh my heavenly stars. I have got to get to this donut place! Now, where was I? How did your series get started?
LF: I wanted to see what day one, cop one of the NYPD looked like. And I wanted an un-Sherlockian hero, one who wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn’t believe himself to be talented at crimesolving and is reluctantly dragged into it all. Like, a tiny scrapper who solves things largely due to raw talent and intuition. Enter Timothy Wilde. I also wanted to play with an extremely unreliable narrator, and Tim can be completely blinkered when it comes to his loved ones–typical human condition, really. Everyone loves him because he’s so well-intentioned, but really he’s a complete arse. I love that little ball of pent-up angst.
UL: I wouldn’t really say Tim is an arse. Ok maybe he is but he’s a bene bloke. I like him. What was your first book?
LF: Thank you for asking. It was not, as countless reviewers would have it, The Gods of Gotham–it was a pastiche pitting Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper. I adore Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. They have my heart. So my first book, Dust and Shadow, is a dark adventure exploring the most beautiful literary friendship of all time, mixed with the historical true facts of the Ripper murders.
UL: Gripping stuff. Have you ever thought of putting a ukelele playing librarian into your book?
LF: I have, but I’ve hesitated because I feel as if the ukelele-playing librarian should take center stage rather than being a guest star, so I’ll have to complete the Timothy Wilde novels before embarking on a new series featuring that protagonist.
UL: Maybe so but how fun would it be if she turns up dead or in a cranky-hutch? Could be interesting…? Share with us how your obsession with Sherlock (of the Benedict Cumberbatch type) came to be.
LF: Oh, I’m obsessed with every incarnation of Sherlock Holmes. I was ten, my dad told me to read “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” good night Vienna. Over time, Sherlock Holmes has stopped being a hobby for me and turned into a lifestyle choice. I’m a part of the Baker Street Babes podcast on the subject, I’m an Adventuress of Sherlock Holmes (we meet monthly), I write regular short pastiches for the Strand Magazine, the theme song for the Granada Holmes series played at our wedding, I’m a Baker Street Irregular, I host several Sherlockian events per year included a benefit for Wounded Warrior Project with the Babes. It’s madness. I love it. And I do adore Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, the man is a complete lovemuffin.
UL: Agreed. He is yummy. If you could have any superpower what would it be?
LF: Flight. Definitely flight. I have flying dreams sometimes and they make me very happy.
UL: Me too! What makes you happy?
LF: Flying dreams. Cheese. Salty snacks. My garden. Cooking for people I care about. Sad love songs. Hero stories. Really filthy filthy dirty jokes. Swearing. Whiskey. Gin. Pretty dresses. Audrey Hepburn. Moon River. Watching the Love in an Elevator music video. Watching the Bad Romance music video. Sherlockians. Travel–especially the UK, Ireland, Thailand, Spain, France, Belgium, and Belize when I’ve been to those places. My cats Grendel and Prufrock. Walking purposelessly through the streets of New York with my husband.
UL: Anything else you wanna tell us?
LF: I have an abnormally long tongue. I can stick it in either nostril.
UL: Helpful skill when the zombies come, I’m sure.
So HEY folks, how fun was that??
Lyndsay’s new book drops in a few short days and while Lyndsay will be partying without me on the 18th, I’ll be reviewing Seven for a Secret, the latest escapades from my buddy Timothy Wilde! Stop back on the 19th for my review and a fun GIVEAWAY!!