Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.

Read Last Week:

The Witches by Roald Dahl:  I read this for banned book week; it is also a childhood favorite of mine.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote:  This was our book club pick for September.  We meet on Thursday and I will post my review following our meeting. 

Currently Reading:

Waking Hours by Lis Wiehl:  I can feel us hovering on the edge of autumn, and I am already in spooky Halloween mode.  This seems like a great book for this time of year.

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher:  The newest in the Harry Dresden series; I am feeling nervous to read it!

Banned Book Week: The Witches - A Review

Sheila at Book Journey is devoting her blog this week to the Banned Book, with reviews and giveaways- check it out! 

 Title:  The Witches
Author: Roald Dahl
Source: The school library where I work

Banned/Challenged For: Witchcraft, endorsing an unhealthy view of women

Goodreads Summary:

This Roald Dahl classic tells the scary, funny and imaginative tale of a seven-year-old boy who has a run-in with some real-life witches! "In fairy tales witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks and they ride on broomsticks. But this is not a fairy tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ordinary jobs. That is why they are so hard to catch." Witches, as our hero learns, hate children. With the help of a friend and his somewhat-magical grandmother, our hero tries to expose the witches before they dispose of him.

My thoughts:

I am not sure where to even begin, to be honest.  I don't believe in banning books; I was personally raised by parents who allowed me to read what I wanted, and they dealt with my questions accordingly.  I understand that some parents do not want their children to read certain books because it offends them or is counter to their own belief system, and that is fine.  I have had students return books to me in the library, telling me that their mom or dad does not want them to read the book they had chosen for one reason or another, and I respect that, even understand it. But then they are not running around saying that no one should read the book, that is a different thing altogether. 

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite teachers read this book aloud to us.  I loved when it was time to listen to this story, I loved the book.  I did not go home and want to practice witchcraft, I did not want to kill mice (I am in fact now a vegetarian and an animal rescuer), I did not believe all women were evil, nor do I believe that people who practice wicca are evil either (I didn't know about this as a child).  I enjoyed the story thouroughly for what it was, and if I had any confusion over the subject matter, my parents would have explained it to me.  As an adult, I loved the book, and enjoyed it again- I wouldn't say just as much, because while I do love children's books, it certainly is not the same to read them as an adult.  My favorite chapter is probably the chapter that is most challenged- the chapter on how to identify a witch.  I bet you didn't know they had blue spit and no toes! To me, this is fanciful, imaginative, a fairy tale.  I loved it! If you were to describe an evil witch, how would you imagine her? 

I am not sure the people who oppose this book for the witchcraft theme have even read it; I feel that if they did, they could relate to the hero and his grandmother, who by the end of the book have concocted a grand scheme to rid the world of witches- this seems like a plan the witchcraft haters could get behind and support. I can see why this would be offensive to those who practice wicca or identify themselves as witches; this book would make them seem like child killers, and that they should be chopped up in a meat grinder (something actually stated in the book, not my own opinion).  I can see why this book has been labeled misogynistic, as it states that all witches are women. Always.  But then, I thought that was a fact anyway - that "witches" were women and "warlocks" were men.  Just semantics at this point.  This all kind of hurts my brain. I think anyone can pick apart any book and find something to critique and find offense at, frankly.  But I don't think this calls for a book to be taken off shelves or unread- I believe this is up to a parent to decide themselves, for their own child. And if they don't want their child to read it, I think that is a fine personal decision. But it is a personal decision, not a universal one. 
I think what I took away from this book the most was the love of family, especially between a child and a grandparent.  The hero and his Grandmamma loved each other unconditionally, the way a a family should.  To me, that was the most important thing in this book- the boy felt safe, cherished and loved by his grandmother, who took him in after his parents died.   And what is more important than feeling safe and loved, especially as a child?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.

(and yes, I am a day late...)

Read last week:

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan:  I loved the fact that Jake was a take no prisoners kind of werewolf!

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare:  I was surprised how much I loved this book! I can't wait to read more from this author.

 Currently Reading:

The Witches by Roald Dahl:  I am reading this for Banned Book week, something that I feel very strongly about.  I absolutely do not believe in censoring books or banning them!  I picked this book because when I was in elementary school, one of my favorite teachers read this book to our class, and I loved it.  I am excited to reread it as an adult, and to review it for banned book week.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote:  This is our book club book for the month.  I had no idea this was written by Truman Capote!!  The only thing I have read by him is In Cold Blood, and this seems like a great departure from that novel!

The Last Werewolf- Review

Title:  The Last Werewolf
Author:  Glen Duncan
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you—and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely.

Jake’s depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide—even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive.

Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend—mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century—a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human. 

My thoughts:

I loved the fact that Jake, and all werewolves in this book, were  "real" werewolves- ones with sharp teeth and no nobility, werewolves that  chomp and chew and is the nightmare version of a werewolf.  Sure, Jacob was my favorite character in Twilight (Team Jacob!) but I didn't really like the tidying up of the supernaturals in that series.  Which seems to be the trend now.  And sometimes that is fine too.  I just appreciated a real, honest to goodness werewolf. 

That being said, the book was kind of slow for me.  It trudged along, like Jake's 200 some years of existence, and maybe that was how Duncan intended us to feel- the length and weight of those days and years in Jake's soul.  He had given up at the start of the book, and was ready to throw in the towel -but then something happens to rekindle his interest in sticking around.  I don't want to ruin it so I won't say more on that topic.  The book became very exciting midway through, which is good since I was almost bored to death the first 45 pages- it was all Jake and sex with prostitutes it seemed like.  But it started to shape up after page 45-50ish, and then really picked up steam midway through.  I started out disliking Jake, and then began to really like him!

This book was hard core werewolf enough for me, and I love horror books- my only wish is that it had just a bit more action and excitement.

Clockwork Angel- Review

Title:  Clockwork Angel
Author:  Cassandra Clare

Goodreads Summary:

Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still. 

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. 

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. 

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My thoughts:

I have to be honest- I was really excited to read this book, but then when I read more about it, I was hesitant.  I thought, how could all this be in one book and still be good?  I usually dislike having supernatural crossover with something like steampunk.  But, I was surprised - I loved this book, I could not stop reading it or put it down.  I read it cover to cover in one day.  It was a book that was thoroughly entertaining the whole way through.  It could be that the book I read before this one was the Sadness of Lemon Cake book, which while good, left me feeling a little down and depressed.  This book filled me back up with the fun of reading, reading just to enjoy and escape for a bit.

I loved all the characters, especially Will and the eccentric scatterbrained Henry.  He was probably my favorite of all. I have not read Clare's Mortal Instruments series, which is something I need to remedy, so I have nothing to compare this work to, but I thought this book was fabulous - Tessa was a strong character, and there are some twists and turns I am looking forward to reading about in the next book - which doesn't come out for months!!!

I loved this book, and for those of my friends who run and listen to books on audio, this has to be the next book you listen to.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.

Read Last Week:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender:  This book was good, but left me feeling a little sad and haunted.

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz:  I enjoyed reading of this author's adventure as an American living in Paris.  He had great recipes, and great anecdotes about the food and about life in general in Paris.

Currently Reading:

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan:  It is quickly becoming fall, my favorite season, and Halloween, my favorite holiday.  I couldn't help myself, it is time to start reading the spooky, supernatural books.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare:  I have heard good things about this, and I love the cover.

Title:  The Hijab Boutique
Author:  Michelle Khan
Publisher:  The Islamic Foundation

Won from

Goodreads Summary:

Farah enjoyed her private girls' school and fun with her friends. Then an assignment meant she had to talk about her mother for "International Woman's Day" in front of the whole class. Compared to her friends' glamorous actress, make-up artist, and tap-dancing mothers, what can her modest mother possibly have that is worth sharing with her classmates? To Farah's surprise, her mother was quite the business woman before putting her career on hold to care for her daughter.

My thoughts:

I am very excitedly going to add this to our school library collection.  The area I live in actually has a large Muslim population, and every year we are enrolling more and more Muslim children into our school, whose mothers dress traditionally, in a hijab.  I like this book because it is explains in a very understandable way, about how and why the women in the Muslim faith choose to wear the hijab.  The author explains that for every woman the reason is different, and lists many different reasons.  I learned new things myself, reading this book, and I think it will be a welcome addition for our students to read.    We do not have many other fiction books at this time that deal with this subject matter, and this book does so in a positive, easy manner.  The only thing I could have wished for was a glossary for some of the words used, but other than that, a very good book.
Title:  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Author:  Aimee Bender
Publisher:  Knopf Doubleday

Goodreads Summary: 

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. 

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern. 

My thoughts:

This book made me sad- after I read it, I felt slightly haunted by it, and empty.  What an awful thing, to be able to taste the emotions of the people who made the food, in the food.  To learn things about your mother, your friends, anyone, that you didn't want to know.  Especially for Rose, who is only nine when this begins, and learns more than is appropriate for her age, emotions that are adult and confusing. 

I felt so horrible for Rose, the whole book- she has an emotionally distant family, and she is reaching out for attention and love from them to be rejected.  The only person who seems to give her any attention at all is her brother's friend George. Her mother has a creepy weird obsession with Rose's older brother, that is so unhealthy yet her father does not see it or do anything about it if he does.  Rose's mother is flighty and can't seem to make decisions on her own, she needs a sign from the universe or a person to guide her, which she believed was Joseph, her oldest child and son.  Joseph was an another emotionally distant family member- except he was that way with his entire family, not just Rose.  He has his own special skill that we learn about at the end of the book, and it is extremely bizarre, and to be honest, I am not sure how I feel about it quite yet.  Her dad has moments where he surfaces from whereever he is, and is a parent and friend to Rose. Rose lives many years in an isolated world, where only her brother and George know of her "gift".  She struggles through this rugged life, dealing with all her mother's baggage with every bite, having to be more responsible and grown up than she should be.  The end of the book made me hopeful for Rose though; she finds good uses for her gift, and is beginning to break free of her family.

This book made me think about how we really do probably leave our emotions in what we make- we always hear about things being baked with love, and you really can taste the difference between something made with care and something that was not.  At one point, Rose eats her own food for the first time, and says she tastes a bit like a factory- I believe that she does because she made the food methodically, purposefully withholding emotion, so that she was not overwhelmed by her own feelings when she ate it. 

I am going to think twice now about my moods while I am cooking- I want only positive thoughts and energy going into my food! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Sweet Life in Paris - Review

Title:  The Sweet Life in Paris
Author:  David Lebovitz
Publisher:  Broadway

Goodreads Summary:

Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighborhood. 

But he soon discovered it's a different world en France.

From learning the ironclad rules of social conduct to the mysteries of men's footwear, from shopkeepers who work so hard not to sell you anything to the etiquette of working the right way around the cheese plate, here is David's story of how he came to fall in love with—and even understand—this glorious, yet sometimes maddening, city.

When did he realize he had morphed into un vrai parisien? It might have been when he found himself considering a purchase of men's dress socks with cartoon characters on them. Or perhaps the time he went to a bank with 135 euros in hand to make a 134-euro payment, was told the bank had no change that day, and thought it was completely normal. Or when he found himself dressing up to take out the garbage because he had come to accept that in Paris appearances and image mean everything. 

The more than fifty original recipes, for dishes both savory and sweet, such as Pork Loin with Brown Sugar–Bourbon Glaze, Braised Turkey in Beaujolais Nouveau with Prunes, Bacon and Bleu Cheese Cake, Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows, Chocolate Spice Bread, Lemon-Glazed Madeleines, and Mocha–Crème Fraîche Cake, will have readers running to the kitchen once they stop laughing. 

The Sweet Life in Paris is a deliciously funny, offbeat, and irreverent look at the city of lights, cheese, chocolate, and other confections.

My thoughts:

This book made me hungry!! I probably gained a few pounds just dreaming about the food he talks about - the pastries, the cheese, crepes, chocolates.  I loved the the everyday anecdotes of the author's life in Paris, becoming assimilated into the culture and nuances of life there.  I also learned how to properly slice different kinds of cheeses, which is always good to know.

I loved his chapters on chocolate and coffee- two of my favorite things.  It seems that while Paris has amazing chocolate, and I would love to have some delivered to my door in a turquoise bag from Patrick Rogers  (I would like to try Arrogance please), it appears that I would hate the coffee.  Immensely.  I think that was my favorite part in the book- where he discusses French coffee, and the many ways it can be ordered, and how you should order it if ever in Paris.  Since I practically have a coffee drip attached to me, this is information I can use.   

I plan on passing this book on to my husband, who actually enjoys cooking and baking, and his favorite is French cooking and baking.  Hopefully he will try his hand at some of the recipes provided, such as the financiers, the cinnamon meringue with espresso, and the fromage blanc souffle.  And of course the nutella crepes. 

Summer Friends- Review

Title:  Summer Friends
Author:  Holly Chamberlin
Publisher:  Kensington

I won this book from

Goodreads Summary:

Over the course of one eventful summer, nine-year-old native Mainer Delphine Crandall and Maggie Weldon, a privileged girl "from away," become best friends. Despite the social gulf between them, their bond is strengthened during vacations spent rambling around Ogunquit's beaches and quiet country lanes, and lasts throughout their college years in Boston. It seems nothing can separate them, yet after graduation, Delphine and Maggie slowly drift in different directions. . .
With her MBA, Maggie acquires a lucrative career, and eventually marries. Delphine is drawn back home, her life steeped in family and the Maine community she loves. Twenty years pass, until one summer, Maggie announces she's returning to Ogunquit to pay an extended visit. And for the first time, the friends are drawn to reflect on their choices and compromises, the girls they were and the women they've become, the promises kept and broken—and the deep, lasting ties that even time can never quite wash away. . .

My thoughts:

I read this thinking it would be a lighthearted summer read- and it was, but there were other layers as well, that went a little deeper.  These two friends from childhood had drifted apart as adults, which is normal- people grow up, and find they have nothing in common as adults, or people move - there are a ton of reasons this happens.  And it makes sense that it would happen to Delphine and Maggie; they were summer friends, who became year round friends, but were worlds apart when it came to social and economic backgrounds. Maggie however makes it her mission to rekindle their friendship.

The characters in the beginning of the book bothered me; I didn't like either one.  Maggie was shallow and materialistic, Delphine was kind of a drudge for her family, and boring.  And the differences in their lifestyles was evident at the start, especially since neither friend made an effort to try to understand the other's life at all.  They just wanted to judge it or change it. Both women really did need to make changes- Delphine needed to get a life of her own, and Maggie needed to take her life back, and not live only for work at the expense of her family. 

There was a backstory about Delphine's ex-fiance, and how it affected the friendship of the women.  To be honest, it felt clunky to me and I didn't really care about it.  It was an event that was the catalyst for Delphine's isolation from Maggie, but it never felt right to me.  I think this part didn't need to be in there- Delphine's own feelings would have taken her home with0ut rehashing that relationship occasionally within the novel.  I understood the reasons it was written into the book, but I felt that it was either not developed enough to make the reader care about it, or was just superflous.

The story picked up for me midway- I began to know the characters more, and they became more well rounded, and not so stuck up or stick in the mudlike.  I began to root for the friendship, and wanted them to be friends again.  I was surprised at how much I liked the book by the end, simply because I didn't care for the characters in the beginning.  I really saw them grow throughout the book.

If you like books about women, friendships, and lovely settings, I would recommend this book to you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children- Review

Title:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher:  Quirk Publishing

Goodreads Summary:

A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

My thoughts:

I loved this book! I am a big big fan of tall tales, and crazy imaginings, secret worlds that are different and full of magic and wonder.  The best part of this book were the old creepy photos that were written into the story - Riggs would describe the characters looking at them, and it was so hard not to prematurely flip the page to look at them.  I had such a difficult time not doing this! But I did force myself to read to the end of the page before turning it.  This book reminded me of Big Fish, in the sense that the real becomes exaggerated into something a little more than it should be.  Or so you think. (insert eyebrow waggling here)

Jacob, the main character, was very close to his grandfather, who would tell him stories of his past, about when he lived on an island where it was always sunny, and the other children there could do extraordinary things.  As Jacob grows older, he doesn't believe in the stories as he did as a child, and sees them as his grandfather's personal revisionist history, rewriting the tragic events of his past.  Later, when his grandfather traumatically dies suddenly in front of Jacob, and with a cryptic message for Jacob,  Jacob goes a little batty.  In an effort to help Jacob heal, and for his own father to pursue his own strange interests, Jacob's parents allow him to travel to Wales to trace his grandfather's journey and stories. 

(Reading beyond here will reveal spoilers...)

Here he finds more than he ever imagined - he finds that his grandfather was not just prettying up his past, that it was all true.  The peculiar children and Miss Peregrine did in fact exist, and by finding them, Jacob may have put their existence into danger. 

I loved Jacob and his grandfather, as much as I disliked Jacob's parents.  Jacob's dad wasn't as bad as his mother, but he didn't seem like he had ever grown up, or cared too much about Jacob.  He had moments where he acted like a father, but most of the time he could take Jacob or leave him. 

As I mentioned, I loved how the photos were written into the book.  I love that the author looked at these pictures, made them characters with a history and a future and personalities and motivations - made them real and interconnected.  It was genius in my opinion. 

I loved this book, and I hope there are more in the future.  I don't really know how this would be accomplished, but I hope that it can be done. If you liked Big Fish or any story with some exaggeration and magic, this book is for you.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.

Read Last Week:

 Summer Friends by Holly Chamberlin:  I wanted to get a last beach book in before fall, and I finished in the nick of time! Review upcoming today or tomorrow.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: I was attracted to this book by the cover, and I loved the book. 
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross:  Much better than expected! I really liked it, although could have been more steampunk.

Hijab Boutique: Still working on, will finish today and review soon.

Currently Reading:

I apparently went for a culinary/pastry theme this week, totally unplanned!

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz:  Saw this somewhere, and needed to read it! Love pastry and love Paris. Although I have never been there.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender:  I just really liked the title and cover. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset- Review

Title:  The Girl in the Steel Corset
Author:  Kady Cross
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Reviewed for netGalley

Goodreads Summary:

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the "thing" inside her. 

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch... 

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret. 

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help-and finally be a part of something, finally fit in. 

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on, even if it seems no one believes her.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book! The beginning of the book got my attention right away! I have to be honest. if the beginning would not have been so riveting, I probably would not have stuck with this book.  I know this sounds strange, since I just said I really liked this book.  But the book was very long, nearly 500 pages, and a lot of the middle was rather slow. But by that point I was already hooked, and needed to find out the end.  And the end, I feel, delivered.

The author stated in the end of the novel that she wanted to write a book that was League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets X-Men teen.  I feel that she did this, with a little Batman thrown in as well.  I did expect the book to have more steampunk elements than it did; I am a huge steampunk fan, although I have not read too many steampunk books yet.  It is something I am going to delve more into this winter.  This was more like a historical romance novel with some elements of steampunk, where I thought it was going to be the other way around. The gang of good guys, the Victorian era Scooby gang, consisted of Griffin the Duke, and his friends, Finley, Emily, Sam, and Jasper, the cowboy. They all live together in Griffin's mansion, and all have special powers of some sort and flavor. Also making an appearance was Griffin's aunt, Cordelia. There is the anti-hero, Jack Dandy, to add a spicy love triangle between Finley and Griffin.  She can't quite decide if she likes the good Duke or the slightly shady Jack.  (If I had a choice, I would have chosen Jasper.) The bad guy is really obvious to figure out, but for me, did not detract from the story at all.   The main heroine, Finley, has a dual personality, a good side and bad side that war with each other.  Her father, a scientist, had the same affliction.  I liked this until Cross decided that Finley's father was the inspiration for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I felt that really cheesed it up a bit, sadly.  The book ends on a cliffhanger, with the gang headed off to the United States to help Jasper out of a jam.  I have to admit, I am looking forward to the next book!