Discovering a Centuries Old Library

TravelingWithDead

In the end she turned the key but left it in the lock, and stepped cautiously through the door she had opened into what had probably been a dining room but was as large as the ballroom of her aunt’s house in Mayfair. It was lined floor to ceiling with books: goods boxes had been stacked on top of the original ten-foot bookshelves, and planks stretched over windows and doors so that no one square foot of the original paneling showed and the tops of the highest ranks brushed the coffered ceiling. Yellow-backed adventure novels by Conan Doyle and Clifford Ashdown shouldered worn calf saints’ lives, antiquated chemistry texts, Carlyle, Gibbon, de Sade, Balzac, cheap modern reprints of Aeschylus and Plato, Galsworthy, Wilde, Shaw.

Traveling with the Dead (James Asher #2) by Barbara Hambly

 

*****

Need I say that the name Balzac grabbed my attention! There is another great quote from later in the book when one of the vampires says, “We follow families, names, neighborhoods for years, sometimes decades. To us, chains of events are like the lives of Balzac’s characters, or Dickens’. The nights are long.”

I was unfamiliar with the name Clifford Ashdown. Research showed that it is a nom de plume used by Richard Austin Freeman and John James Pitcairn for books on which they collaborated.

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Traveling with the Dead by Barbara Hambly

Traveling with the Dead
(James Asher #2)
by Barbara Hambly

TravelingWithDead

*****

FirstChapFirstPara

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea. To play along, share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you’re reading or thinking about reading soon.

The house was an old one, inconspicuous for its size. Curiously so, thought Lydia Asher, when she stood at last on the front steps, craning her neck to look up at five stories of shut-faced dark façade. More curious still, given the obvious age of the place, was the plain half timbering discernible under centuries of discoloration and soot, the bull’s-eye glass of the unshuttered windows, the depth to which the centers of the stone steps had been worn.

Lydia shivered and pulled closer about her the coat she’d borrowed from her cook–even the plainest from her own collection would have been hopelessly fashionable for these narrow, nameless courts and alleys that clustered behind the waterfront between Blackfriars Bridge and Southwark. He can’t hurt me, she thought, and brought up her hand to her throat. Under the high neck of her plain wool waist she could feel the thick links of half a dozen silver chains against her skin.

*****

TeaserTuesdaysADailyRhythm

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can participate. If you’re new to Teaser Tuesdays, the details are at Jenn’s A Daily Rhythm or on my Tuesday Memes Page.

It was one thing to speculate about the physiology of the house’s owner in the safety of her own study at Oxford, or with James close by and armed.

It was evidently quite another to go up and knock on Don Simon Ysidro’s front door.

*****

This supernatural mystery series features humans James and Lydia Asher and ancient vampire Don Simon Ysidro. I’m just beginning Traveling with the Dead, but it looks like this one focuses on espionage. See the post on Those Who Hunt the Night for a list of books in the series and a link to Barbara Hambly’s website.

What are you reading this week?

Title: Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly

Those Who Hunt the Night
(James Asher #1)
by Barbara Hambly

ThoseHuntNight

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FirstChapFirstPara

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea. To play along, share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you’re reading or thinking about reading soon.

“Lydia?”

But even before the shadows of the stairwell swallowed the last echoes of his wife’s name, James Asher knew something was desperately wrong.

The house was silent, but it was not empty.

He stopped dead in the darkened front hall, listening. No sound came down the shadowy curve of the stairs from above.

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TeaserTuesdaysADailyRhythm

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can participate. If you’re new to Teaser Tuesdays, the details are at Jenn’s A Daily Rhythm or on my Tuesday Memes Page.

They paused at the foot of the steps, Asher lifting the lamp nearly to the low ceiling beams to illuminate the cellar around them. Its glare smudged the dusty boards of a nearly empty coalbin in light and caught the fraying edges of translucent curtains of cobweb, thick with dust.

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Human James Asher is coerced by Simon Ysidro, a several hundred year old vampire, into investigating the murders of vampires in London. Set in the early 1900s, it features the old timey vampires as opposed to the new breed so often written about today. It’s quite refreshing.

This is a reread. I first read Those Who Hunt the Night over twenty years ago, anxiously awaited a sequel and finally forgot about it until reminded by the recent publications in the series. I am finding the reread as fascinating as the original reading and already have the second book lined up in the TBR pile.
Hambly’s James Asher series:
1. Those Who Hunt the Night (1988, published as Immortal Blood in the UK)
2. Traveling with the Dead (1995)
3. Blood Maidens (2010)
4. The Magistrates of Hell (2012)
5. The Kindred of Darkness (2013)
6. Darkness on His Bones (2015)

Visit Barbara Hambly’s website for more information on this and her other series.

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Are you reading anything exciting this week?

Graveyard Dust by Barbara Hambly

Graveyard Dust
(Benjamin January #3)
by Barbara Hambly

GraveyardDust

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FirstChapFirstPara

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea. To play along, share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you’re reading or thinking about reading soon.

African drums in darkness sullen as tar.

Rossini’s “Di tanti palpit” unspooling like golden ribbon from the ballroom’s open windows.

Church bells and thunder.

Benjamin January flexed his aching sholders and thought, Rain coming. Leaning on the corner of Colonel Pritchard’s ostentatious house, he could smell the sharp scent in the hot weight of the night, hear the shift in the feverish tempo of the crickets and the frogs. The dim orange glow of an oil lamp fell through the servants’ door beside him, tipping the weeds beyond the edge of the yard with fire.

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TeaserTuesdaysADailyRhythm

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can participate. If you’re new to Teaser Tuesdays, the details are at Jenn’s A Daily Rhythm or on my Tuesday Memes Page.

Given the trouble his curiosity had caused him in the past, January reflected that he should know better. In any case, he had a good idea of what he would find in the darkness where the trees got thick.

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Barbara Hambly definitely has a way with words. She also seems to write in multiple genres. This series, historical mysteries, is set in 1830s New Orleans. The first book I remember reading by her is Ishmael, a Star Trek novel featuring Spock (my favorite!). I read it in the 1980s, so I have been reading Hambly’s books for three decades. The award-winning author has also written in the science fiction, fantasy and supernatural genres.

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Do you enjoy reading series? What are some of your favorites?

Friday Finds – July 31, 2015

SnoopySpyGlassFF

Friday Finds is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm to showcase books you recently found and added to your TBR list. It doesn’t matter whether you found them free online, borrowed them from a library or purchased them. Anything and everything works.

My Finds for the month of July include a modern classic, a non-fiction and four series mysteries. A nice haul!

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Justine
(Book One of the Alexandria Quartet)
by Laurence Durrell

Justine

I’ve known about and considered reading the Alexandra Quartet for a number of years. When I saw it on Fred’s Desert Island list earlier this month, I knew the time had come. Thanks, Fred!

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Places
The Journey of My Days, My Lives
by Thaao Penghlis

ThaaoPlaces

Having enjoyed watching Thaao Penghlis on General Hospital and Days of Our Lives, I’ve been looking forward to the paperback publication of Places. Thaao Penghlis has also been in a number of movies, including portraying a fascinating character in one of my favorite movies, Altered States.

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Now for the series mysteries:

FourMysterySeries

The Blood of an Englishman (Agatha Raisin #25) by M C Beaton – a tried and true series for me which I have been following for years.

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Royal Spyness #6) and Heirs and Graces (Royal Spyness #7) by Rhys Bowen – a new series I put off reading, finally tried thanks to Selah at A Bibliophile’s Style and now love.

Dead Water (Benjamin January #8) by Barbara Hambly – I first heard of Barbara Hambly through her Star Trek novels and am now hooked on her historical mystery series set in New Orleans.

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Share your Finds with us! We’d love to know if you found anything exciting this week.

Teaser Tuesdays – June 30, 2015

LatinQuarterTT

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can participate.

If you’re new to Teaser Tuesdays, the details are at MizB’s A Daily Rhythm or on my Teaser Tuesdays Page.

A series mystery for me this week.

Fever Season
(Benjamin January #2)
by Barbara Hambly

FeverSeason

Men don’t need to be evil, Mademoiselle.
They just have to be bad enough to say,
There’s nothing I can do.

This book is blowing me away! Hambly’s portrayal of New Orleans in the 1830s is breath-taking. It’s like I am there. I can feel the oppressive summer heat. I can also feel the fear of contracting yellow fever which is raging through the town.

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What are you reading now? Do you have a TT to share with us?

Please leave a comment with your link on MizB’s Teaser Tuesday post or below. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your Teaser here in the comment section instead.

20 Books of Summer 2015

Another Reading Challenge! 20 Books of Summer 2015 is hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. It begins June 1 and runs until September 4, just over thirteen weeks.

20BooksSummer

Here’s my list:
Among the Tibetans by Isabella L. Bird
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
The Island of Sheep by John Buchan
The Overlook by Michael Connelly
Rameau’s Nephew by Denis Diderot
The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
Road Kill by Kinky Friedman
U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton
Fever Season by Barbara Hambly
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris
The Assassin in the Marais by Claude Izner
George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters
Passing Fancy by David Spencer
The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoi

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Are you in? There is no set list; we each choose our own books. If twenty is too ambitions, you can opt for 10 Books of Summer 2015.

Friday Finds – December 26, 2014

SnoopyHappy

Friday Finds is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading to showcase books you recently found and added to your TBR (to be read) list. It doesn’t matter whether you found them free online, borrowed them from a library or purchased them. Anything and everything works.

Eleven books made it into my home this month. The one I am most excited about is non-fiction (an unusual occurrence for me).

The River of Doubt
Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey
by Candice Millard

RiverOfDoubt

Cover blurb:

The River of Doubt–it is a black, uncharted tributary of the Amazon that snakes through one of the most treacherous jungles in the world.

. . . . . Theodore Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil’s most famous explorer, Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many at the time refused to believe it. In the process, he changed the map of the Western Hemisphere forever. Along the way, Roosevelt and his men faced an unbelievable series of hardships, losing their canoes and supplies to punishing whitewater rapids, and enduring starvation, Indian attack, disease, drowning, and a murder within their own ranks.

Theodore Roosevelt’s own account of this journey in Through the Brazilian Wilderness is available free from Project Gutenberg.

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The other ten books are all series mysteries:

Sold Down the River by Barbara Hambly (Benjamin January #4)
Die Upon a Kiss by Barbara Hambly (Benjamin January #5)
Wet Grave by Barbara Hambly (Benjamin January #6)

The Ever-Running Man by Marcia Muller (Sharon McCone #24)
Locked In by Marcia Muller (Sharon McCone #26)
Coming Back by Marcia Muller (Sharon McCone #27)

Breakdown by Sara Paretsky (V.I. Warshawski #15)
Critical Mass by Sara Paretsky (V.I. Warshawski #16)

Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody #18)
A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody #19)

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Tempt us with your Friday Finds! Miz B is on a holiday break, but you can  leave a comment with the link to your own Friday Finds post below. If you don’t have a blog, you may share your finds in a comment here anyway. We’d love to know what you found this week.

Teaser Tuesdays – September 9, 2014

NewOrleansTTTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can participate.

If you’re new to Teaser Tuesdays, the details are at MizB’s Should Be Reading or on my Teaser Tuesdays Page.

 

A Free Man of Color
by Barbara Hambly

FreeMan

Gaslights were a new thing–when January had left in 1817 everything had been candlelit–and in the uneasy brilliance couples moved through the lower lobby and up the curving double flight of the main stair to the ballroom on the floor above. As a child January had been fascinated by this festival of masks, and years had not eroded its eerie charm; he felt as if he had stepped through into a dream of Shelley or Coleridge where everything was more vivid, more beautiful, soaked in a crystalline radiance, as if the walls of space and time, fact and fiction, had been softened, to admit those who never existed, or who were no more.

 

A Free Man of Color is the first book in Barbara Hambly‘s Benjamin January series. I’ve intended to try this series for a long time since I’ve enjoyed several books by Hambly, including her novelization of the original Beauty and the Beast television series. What always put me off is that I’m not fond of historical works in general. New Orleans has such a fascinating cultural history though that this finally decided me to give it a try. Hambly’s writing is so very rich and descriptive that it is easy to imagine myself there in the past.

 

Do you enjoy books set in the past or do you prefer to remain in the present? What are you reading now? Do you have a TT to share with us?

Please leave a comment with your link on MizB’s Teaser Tuesday post or below. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your Teaser here in the comment section instead.

Teaser Tuesdays – July 22, 2014

BookCandleTT

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can participate.

If you’re new to Teaser Tuesdays, the details are at MizB’s Should Be Reading or on my Teaser Tuesdays Page.

 

Beauty and the Beast
By Barbara Hambly

Based on the series created by Ron Koslow

BeautyBeast

Father’s room was two stories high, roughly circular and vaulted, and filled–floor to ceiling on one rough stone wall and heaped in stacks, pillars, pyramids between every other piece of its battered old furnishings–with books. Old encyclopedias and yellowing ‘thirties pulps, Everyman’s Classic Libraries sold to the rich by the yard in cured leather and gold, crumbling old novels, saints’ lives and Hegel, bright-covered Book Club editions bought to be thrown away, Shakespeare, Donne, Cervantes and paperback self-help, the gleanings of a thousand libraries, they rose in shadowy pillars around Vincent as he passed through the little vestibule with its scarred stone caryatids and crumbling pillars and down the short iron-railed steps to the main chamber.

This novel is based on the television series which aired from September, 1987 to August, 1990 and oh does it bring back memories. As I read Hambly’s descriptions of the various rooms, especially Father’s as quoted above, I can picture it just as in was in the beloved series. The original Beauty and the Beast series starred Linda Hamilton as Catherine and Ron Perlman as Vincent. It is wonderful to read about Father and picture Roy Dotrice in the role since that character is not in the new series. Does anyone else remember the series from the 1980s?

 

What are you reading now? Do you have a TT to share with us?

Please leave a comment with your link on MizB’s Teaser Tuesday post or below. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your Teaser here in the comment section instead.