TLC Book Tours: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill




Better watch out,
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Charlie Manx is coming to town!
(In his Rolls Royce Wraith no less)

Ok ok, I guess it’s not quite fair to compare Manx to Santa. But in his own twisted deluded way, Manx believes to the tips of his toes that he is doing good for the little children. For he takes them away from their horrible parents and brings them to….


“Christmasland is the true happiest place in the world.”

“In Christmasland every day is Christmas, and the children there never feel anything like unhappiness. No, the children there don’t even understand the concept of unhappiness! There is only fun. It is like heaven – only of course they are not dead! They live forever, remains children for eternity, and are never forced to struggle and sweat and demean themselves like poor adults.”

He ropes in the simple-minded Bing Patridge to help him in his task of getting children away from their evil parents and whisking them off to that happy place called Christmasland. Bing ‘takes care’ of the fathers and mothers. You really don’t want to know what he does. 

Now Christmasland is a real place. Sort of. A real place that exists in Manx’s imagination, if that makes any sense. His Wraith, license plate NOS4A2 (“Nosferatu” – yeah it took me a while to figure that out), is his way into his ‘inscape’. And like the name on his vanity plate, Manx feeds on the children, leaving them cold-blooded and savage.

Victoria “Vic” McQueen has her ‘inscape’ too. She has a covered bridge, the Shorter Way, that takes her to find lost things or people. It is a bridge in real life, but one that got torn down years ago. As a kid she got there on her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike. But there is a physical toll – her body is racked with fevers and headaches

Then one day, our young Vic meets Manx and things just go bad.

For both of them.

And they are destined to meet again years later, when Vic is an adult and Manx is, well, let’s just say he’s been declared dead, autopsied and all.

Have I got you intrigued yet?

Well, here’s more!

– “what happens in the Wraith stays in the Wraith”.

– the badass Vic (she is a bit irritating as a young kid, but grows up to be a decent adult) and the sweet loving Lou. Such an unlikely couple, but just so cute and sweet together. Like this conversation:

“Imaginary bridge, superpowered bike. Got it.”

“Over the years I used my bicycle and the bridge to find all kinds of things. Missing stuffed animals or lost photos. Things like that. I didn’t go ‘finding’ often. Just once or twice a year. And as I got older, even less. It started to scare me, because I knew it was impossible, that the world isn’t supposed to work that way. When I was little, it was just pretend. But as I got older, it began to seem crazy. It began to frighten me.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t use your special power to find someone who could tell you there was nothing wrong with you,” Lou said.

Her eyes widened and lit with surprise, and Lou understood that in fact she had done just that.

“How did you–” she began.

“I read a lot of comics. It’s the logical next step,” Lou said. “Discover magic ring, seek out the Guardians of the Universe. Standard operating procedure. Who was it?”

“The bridge took me to a librarian in Iowa.”

“It would be a librarian.”

– So yes! A librarian! And one who uses Scrabble tiles to reveal secrets. She also wears Scrabble earrings that spell ‘F-U’ (“No one looks closely at a librarian. People are afraid of going blind from the glare of ssss-ssso much compressed wisdom.”). And drinks from mugs that say ‘LIBRARIES: WHERE SHHHH HAPPENS’ and ‘DO NOT MAKE ME USE MY LIBRARIAN VOICE’.

– Hill wrote a pretty decent kid character in Wayne. Sometimes kids in books can be irritating (see Vic as the Brat above), but I like Wayne. He’s got quite a bit of Lou in him. (You always know it’s a good book when you’re talking about a character as if he’s a real person.)

– Bing. A story with a Christmasland isn’t a story without a character named Bing. And the smell of gingerbread everywhere.

– Lou is a Browncoat. Could I adore Joe Hill him more?


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I received this book for review from TLC Book Tours and its publisher. Thank you so much!

Check out the rest of the tour stops:

Tuesday, October 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, October 24th: The Best Books Ever

Monday, November 4th: Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, November 5th: The House of Crime and Mystery

Wednesday, November 6th: Ageless Pages Reviews

Thursday, November 7th: Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity

Friday, November 8th: Drey’s Library

Monday, November 11th: Entomology of a Bookworm

Tuesday, November 12th: The Book Bag

Wednesday, November 13th: The Reader’s Hollow

Thursday, November 14th: red headed book child

Monday, November 18th:  The Road to Here

Tuesday, November 19th: Olduvai Reads

Wednesday, November 20th: The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, November 21st: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

Joe HillThe author of the critically acclaimed Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill is a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award and a past recipient of the Ray Bradbury Fellowship. His stories have appeared in a variety of journals and Year’s Best collections. He calls New England home.
Find out more about Joe at his website and follow him on Twitter: @joe_hill.

TLC Book Tour: The House Girl by Tara Conklin

The House Girl

For Josephine there existed no greater joy than this. The faint pepper smell of the homemade paper, the gritty charcoal dust misting the space around her fingers, her fingers moving faster than her kind could determine where to draw this line, that shadow, the picture emerging from her in a rush as though no distance existed between the paper and her mind’s eye, they inhabited the same interior space, the same intimate world that belonged to her and her alone.

The House Girl is the story of two women, separated by a century and a half (1852 – 2004), and race. The two interwoven tales (hardly ever do I read a book told from just one perspective these days) depict the contrasting lives of a slave girl and a modern-day corporate grunt.

Josephine has decided that today is the day, a “gathering of disparate desires that before had been scattered”, and that “today was the last day, there would be no others.”

She is determined to leave. To leave behind her Missus Lu. To run. Run. Run.

And in modern day New York City, Lina Sparrow, first-year litigation associate, is assigned a new case, a lawsuit for reparations on behalf of descendants of slaves. Lina at first takes on this new case just like any other she has worked on, but when her artist father tells about about a controversy in the art world involving Josephine, the house girl of celebrated southern painter Lu Anne Bell, she is intrigued and believes they have made their case.

Josephine’s tale is one of uncertainty. Where to run, when to go, how far can she make it? Her own life as house girl is neither here nor there.

“She was just like the horse, the chicken or cow, something to be fed and housed, to do what it was born and raised to do. Josephine was not of one world or the other, neither the house nor the fields. This she could not explain to them, not even to Lottie or Winton, that she belonged nowhere.”

And in a sense, so is Lina’s story. Behind that confident exterior lies a young woman who longs to know what her mother was like, as her father has refused for years to say anything about her: “Instead, Lina recalled only a vanishing, an absence, an ache.”

A woman who has buried herself in her work, and for what?

“His words evoked in Lina a combination of indignation and shame. Gone was her excited buzz, and in its place a creeping nausea. Lina stood there in front of him, motionless, waiting for him to raise his eyes again so she could – what? Defend herself? Argue with him? No, she couldn’t. Those kinds of exchanges didn’t happen at Clifton, at least no between a partner and a first-year associate. She marveled at Dan’s poise, the unapologetic exercise of his presumed right to be an ass.”

But something in the reparations lawsuit, in Josephine’s story, lights a fire in her, and she throws herself into the research, haunted by the paintings that she’s seen (attributed to Lu Anne Bell), such as one of children, which “hit Lina with a force she wasn’t expecting, in a way her father’s paintings never had. Her reaction here was emotional, not intellectual, and for once she wanted to leave it at that, without searching for clues to analyze, references to dissect. She couldn’t explain why this boy’s enigmatic face captivated her, nor did she want to explain it. Looking was enough”.

And the reader unravels Josephine’s story alongside Lina, as she travels to Virginia to locate evidence of Josephine’s descendant, uncovering letters and documents that mention the house girl, who in the only photograph of her is shown with “hands clasped before her, the fingers tensely intertwined as though one hand pulled the other from a turbulent sea. Her eyes were fogged as if in motion. Perhaps she had looked beyond the photographer. Perhaps she had contemplated the road ahead.”

The House Girl is the story of two women, but Josephine’s tale is the far more compelling one, whereas Lina’s First-World problems sometimes just got in the way (plus if she could research her way to Josephine Bell and her descendants, couldn’t she have found out more about her own mother?). Lina’s research also seemed a little too fruitful – open a notebook and all the right information jumps out at her. Sure, I understand that there is a need to speed that part of the story along, but as a former research assistant and journalist (and graduate student) who had once upon a time combed my way through various documents in the British Library (just pencils! No pens!), listened to recorded interviews and read transcripts at the National Archives of Singapore, made myself half-blind flipping through microfilms at the National Library of Singapore, I know how tedious research can be, searching for that right interview, for that right newspaper article, that very page in that old book, to find that one sentence that puts the “a” (as in “aaaaahhhhh” – a big sigh of relief) or the “ha!” (as in “hahahahahaha” – a sign of impending insanity) back in “aha!”. So to be given, what, two weeks (?), to find a plaintiff, to comb through historical documents, to find a descendant? Now that is, well, I wouldn’t say impossible, but just highly unlikely.

However, this probably wouldn’t be too big a deal for most readers, it’s probably just me.

So for me the book was more about Josephine and a little about wishing there were less of Lina. Perhaps it might have worked better as two separate books, instead of two interwoven stories. Still, despite its a terribly feminine cover (the kind that induces me to not pick up a book), it was a good read, dramatic at parts, with a variety of written forms – art essays, historical letters – utilized to keep the narrative moving.  

Tara Conlin photo credit Mary Grace Long

Tara Conklin has worked as a litigator in the New York and London offices of a corporate law firm but now devotes her time to writing fiction. She received a BA in history from Yale University, a JD from New York University School of Law, and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Born in St. Croix, she grew up in Massachusetts and now lives with her family in Seattle, Washington. The House Girl is her first novel.

Find out more about Tara at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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I received this book for review from its publisher via TLC Book Tours.

Check out the rest of the tour stops

Tuesday, November 5th: Read Lately

Thursday, November 7th: A Bookish Affair

Monday, November 11th: Books in the Burbs

Tuesday, November 12th: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, November 13th: Peppermint PhD

Thursday, November 14th: Lavish Bookshelf

Monday, November 18th: Olduvai Reads

Tuesday, November 19th: BoundbyWords

Wednesday, November 20th: Book-alicious Mama

Tuesday, November 26th: A Bookish Way of Life

Currently… (Nov 11 2013)

The Middlesteins – Jami Attenberg
This Attenberg sure knows how to write. She’s got me caught up in this tale of family, food (an obsession really), divorce and perfection.


Star fruit. Refreshing and juicy! Plus it’s pretty!

Ice water

Last week I read:

The last policeman – Ben Winters
The end of the world is near. There’s lawlessness everywhere cos you know who cares? But xx does. Even if it just looks like yet another suicide. A different take on the murder mystery/police procedural. I’m looking forward to the next one.

The house girl – Tara Conklin
For an upcoming book tour

What are you reading this week?

TLC Book Tours: The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

The Death of Bees

“Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
Neither of them were beloved.”

And with that shocker of an opener, we jump straight into the lives of teenaged Marnie and her little sister Nelly who live in Glasgow.
Marnie is your typical angsty, self-destructive teen. She’s bright (gets As in school without studying much) but with alcoholic drug addict parents who didn’t care much for children, does the whole smoking-drinking-sex with older men thing. She’s been looking after Nelly, changing nappies at five, shopping, cleaning, laundry and all.

Nelly is a very proper 12-year-old who likes cornflakes with Coke, and Bette Davis. She plays the violin and talks like the queen of England:

“She has sentences in her head like “What the devil’s going on?” And “What on earth’s all this hullabaloo?” I’ve also heard her say “confounded” and “good golly”.”

And their parents Gene and Izzy were the kind who never showed up and never did much for their kids:

“They were never there for us, they were absent, at least now they know where they are.”

Essentially, Gene is found dead in bed and Izzy subsequently kills herself. Leaving the two girls alone.

Marnie is only a year away from being considered an adult and she’s determined not to go back to foster care, so they muddle along with things, beginning with burying the two bodies.

Their elderly neighbour Lennie soon notices their parents’ absence and reaches out to them, feeding them and taking them in. He’s lonely and enjoys cooking for someone else. He makes a good impression on Nelly:

“He smells of talcum powder, is possessed of china cups and matching saucers. How I love to hold a teacup. He uses side plates for breads and for cakes. It was all rather wonderful. Pristine. Polished.”

He really is a sweet old guy, but with his less-than-stellar past, he’s earned himself a bad reputation in the neighbourhood and is tormented by graffiti and other un-niceties. So he’s careful with the girls, never probing too much about their parents and their lives.

Somewhere along the way I wonder where O’Donnell is taking us with this story. She whacks us full on the head with that startling opener then we wander along, seeing through the eyes of enchanting and naive Nelly, brash but sweet Marnie, and loving and grandfatherly Lennie, as they make their way through the obstacles of daily life. In Nelly’s case figuring out the other girls in school and playing her violin. In Marnie’s case, drinking, smoking, partying with friends and her boyfriend. In Lennie’s case feeding the two girls and his dog, and wondering about the girls’ secrets. And in both girls’ case, their very very big secret that Lennie’s dog keeps trying to dig up.

She said she can smell rats like some dogs can smell cancer. She reckons one of them probably died in Izzy and Gene’s bedroom somewhere. If only she knew what had died in Izzy and Gene’s bedroom.

But in the end, what makes this story worthwhile are the distinct voices that tell this story. It is an honest, if at times brutal, look at life in Glasgow from the perspectives of two young girls. You can’t help liking Nelly, a 12-year-old not meant for this modern age. Marnie takes a while to get used to but she has a good heart. And Lennie is just such a sweetheart. The Death of Bees is a surprisingly good, wonderfully different coming-of-age story, an absolute delight to read.


Lisa-ODonnellLisa O’Donnell won the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for The Wedding Gift. A native of Scotland, she is now a full-time writer and lives in Los Angeles with her two children. The Death of Bees is her frst novel and was the winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize.

Visit Lisa at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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I received a copy of this book for review from its publisher and TLC Book Tours

Check out the other tour stops:

Wednesday, October 23rd: Peppermint PhD

Friday, October 25th: Booksie’s Blog

Monday, October 28th: she treads softly

Tuesday, October 29th: BoundbyWords

Wednesday, October 30th: Book-alicious Mama

Thursday, October 31st: Olduvai Reads

Monday, November 4th: Love at First Book

Tuesday, November 5th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, November 6th: red headed book child

Thursday, November 7th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, November 12th: Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, November 14th: guiltless reading

It’s Monday! What are you reading? (October 28 2013)

itsmonday“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

Oh hello. Looks like it’s Monday noon already and I’m just typing this now while Wee Reader eats his lunch (Boston Market leftovers from yesterday).

Scratch that.

It’s now mid-afternoon. The kids are finally napping – both! Woohoo! – and here my post finally is.



Touch Not the Cat – Mary Stewart

Is there an actual cat in this book? I have yet to find out

Touchstone – Laurie R King
I can see why this book wasn’t too popular (her latest, Bones of Paris,
is actually the second book in this series but no one seems to know that beforehand!). It is a bit long and at moments political. Still it is Laurie R King so it’s well-written and well-researched.


Nothing at the moment. But I had some Korean seafood pancake from Jang Su Jang that we had for lunch yesterday. They still taste yummy after heating them in the toaster oven.
(I realise that the photo doesn’t have a seafood pancake in it, but these were the other dishes from the lunch – pan-fried dumplings, bulgogi and ginseng chicken soup)

Green tea.


The Good Wife season 4. Almost done.

Last week:

I read:
The Willoughbys – Lois Lowry
Lowry took me by surprise with this enchantingly odd story about old-fashioned children whose parents don’t like them very much (and vice versa). Highly recommended!

The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer
There is plenty to be awed by in this book.

Saints – Gene Luen Yang; Lark Pien
As with Boxers, a great read. Saints is the story of Four-Girl (she’s the unwanted fourth daughter and her grandfather couldn’t be bothered to name her. The number ‘four’ is unlucky in Chinese culture) who finds Christianity at a time when it was dangerous to be Christian (brought in by the ‘foreign devils’) in China.

The Death of Bees

The Death of Bees – Lisa O’Donnell
For an upcoming book tour
NOS4A2 – Joe Hill
For an upcoming book tour

What are you reading this week?

Weekend Cooking: Mastering the art of Soviet cooking by Anya von Bremzen



“Food was an abiding theme of Soviet political history, permeating every nook and cranny of our collective unconscious.”

“Food, as one academic has noted, defined how Russians endured the present, imagined the future, and connected to their past.”

And as it is for von Bremzen’s memoir of food and longing.

“Inevitably, a story about Soviet food is a chronicle of longing, of unrequited desire. So what happens when some of your most intense culinary memories involve foods you hadn’t actually tasted? Memories of imaginings, of received histories; feverish collective yearning produced by seventy years of geopolitical isolation and scarcity …”

She takes the reader from the 1910s and the last days of the czars, the 1930s and her mother’s childhood with Comrade Stalin keeping a watchful eye, the 1940s and the war, to her parents’ first meeting in 1958, when they were both queueing for something (“My parents met in a line, and their romance blossomed in yet another line, which I guess makes me the fruit of the Soviet defitsit (shortage) economy with its ubiquitous queues.” Then comes her birth in 1963, the year of one of the worst crop failures in post-Stalinist history. Then the 1970s, when she and her mother make it to America, and her First Supermarket Experience, in which she felt “entombed in the abundance” and she slowly began to realise that American food wasn’t exactly delicious. The 1980s and their visit to Russia. Then the 1990s, Gorbachev and Yeltsin, and research for her cookbook. The 21st century brings Putin’s Moscow of extravagance: “not for the fainthearted and shallow-pocketed”.

It is, as you can see, quite a read.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is very much the story of  von Bremzen and her family. And with food at its centerpiece.

And here I have to admit that I’ve never actually had real Russian food. The closest I’ve had is a kind of faux Russian restaurant, run by Hainanese-Singaporean-style Russian in Singapore. It’s a place called Shashlik and it was opened in the 1980s (and still looks like it belongs in the 1980s). There’s borscht on the menu, but there’s also baked Alaska, so something tells me it’s not exactly Russian. 😛

So whether you’re familiar with Russian food or not, this makes for a delectable read, a delve into Soviet history and its food so loaded with meaning. One telling moment is when she first steps into an American supermarket and realises that food, “now drained of its social power and magic” meant little to her if she couldn’t feel the envy of others, couldn’t parade it in front of those without, and didn’t have to queue for hours to get.

It is a book that reminds me to be grateful that I have never gone without, and that I do live in this land of abundance, with all kinds of treats and goodies from different countries just a short drive away. For instance, I had scrambled eggs and baguette at home for breakfast, take-away kabobs, pita bread and salad for lunch, followed by Taiwanese shaved snow for dessert. All in half a day.

In contrast, Von Bremzen tells of her mother, aged seven, having to join a hundreds-long queue for bread, only to realise that she has lost her kartochki or ration cards, a month’s worth of coupons, irreplaceable. And having to sell her father’s suits for millet instead. A time when those living in the cities foraged for birch buds, clover, tree bark. And a pair of galoshes would buy you five ounces of bread, and a grave cost four and a half pounds of bread and 500 rubles.

Von Bremzen’s writing style is conversational and engaging, her story and her family absorbing, if occasionally a little hard to swallow with its depictions of hunger and harshness.

In case you’re wondering, there is indeed a ‘cooking’ element in this memoir. Von Bremzen and her mother reconstructed “every decade of Soviet history – from the prequel 1910s to the postscript present day – through the prism of food. Together, we’d embark on a yearlong journey unlike any other: eating and cooking our way through decade after decade of Soviet life, using her kitchen and dining room as a time machine and an incubator of memories.” And the last pages of the book feature a recipe for each decade, such as Kulebiaka, or fish, rice and mushrooms in pastry; Chanakhi, a Georgian stew of lambs, herbs and vegetables; and Blini.

Anya von Bremzen is one of the most accomplished food writers of her generation: the winner of three James Beard awards; a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure magazine; and the author of five acclaimed cookbooks, among themThe New Spanish Table, The Greatest Dishes: Around the World in 80 Recipes, and Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook (coauthored by John Welchman). She also contributes regularly to Food & Wine and Saveur and has written for The New Yorker, Departures, and the Los Angeles Times. She divides her time between New York City and Istanbul.


Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

TLC Book Tours: Mrs Queen Takes the Train

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train

Many girls dream of being princesses, and I was no exception. I always thought living in a castle would be so wonderful, moat, buttresses and all. Of course I never thought of how drafty and gloomy it all could be.

Several years ago, on a dark afternoon in December, Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth of Nations, Defender of the Faith, Duchess of Edinburgh, Countess of Merioneth, Baroness Greenwich, Duke of Lancaster, Lord of Mann, Duke of Normandy sat at her desk, frowning at a computer screen. The desk had once belonged to Queen Victoria. Its surface was polished but uneven, like many other pieces of furniture in Windsor Castle, so the computer keyboard wobbled when The Queen pressed on it. She folded a piece of paper into a tiny square and slipped it underneath a corner.

And perhaps how ordinary – and tedious – the life of a royal could be sometimes, no matter how many UpperCased titles there are in one’s name. And that The Queen herself could feel unhappy and out of sorts. And one day just happen to walk out of the palace, unrecognizable beneath a hoodie with skull on its back (can you imagine?), and catch a train to Scotland to see her former royal yacht.

But The Queen being The Queen, she’s never quite left on her own for very long, and a motley bunch soon joins up in search of her.

There is Shirley MacDonald, the most senior of The Queen’s dressers. She draws the bath, looks after the wardrobe (cleaning, cataloging, repairing), lays out the clothes etc. “Shirley respected The Queen, but she was not in awe of her.” Her family had long been in service to the royal family and she had grown up used to the ins and outs of royal life.

Her good friend William de Morgan, senior butler, a “connoisseur of privilege”, for whom service is his religion: “It was what he knew how to do well. He was proud of it.”

Lady Anne, from one of the country’s richest and most aristocratic families. Whose husband lost her money in the City and died of a stroke, leaving herbs widow in her forties. Her job as lady-in-waiting (which comes with a small stipend) means being a companion to The Queen in her formal duties outside the palace: replying to letters, making conversation with politicians before The Queen was ready.

Shirley is a little suspicious of Lady Anne, as she is to most ladies-in-waiting. So it doesn’t help that the two women are thrown together in this madcap search.

Luke Thomason is the equerry, whose duties include being an extra man at the dinner table, arranging transport, entertaining guests, steering visitors through the bows and curtseys: “It was not hard work. It was an acknowledgement of hard work elsewhere. Few people knew how much The Queen’s court was still a military court, and how many of the male duties in the Household were undertaken by officers whose more ordinary experience was of unglamorous, uncomfortable postings in remote corners where they had often served with distinction.” He’s ironically not fond of people in uniform and distrustful of the Secret Service, and intends to find The Queen before alerting them, thus leaving him to lead the team to boldly go where they have never been before.

Then there is Rebecca who tends to The Queen’s horses at The Mews, who prefers animals to people. And Rajiv, who works at a gourmet cheese shop, who doesn’t quite know how to handle himself with the opposite sex and has a bit of a thing for Rebecca, whom he serves in the shop when she comes looking for cheese for Elizabeth. Elizabeth the horse that is.

And it so happens that The Queen wanders into this cheese shop on her little solitary stroll. In Rebecca’s hoodie.

It is, as you can see, quite a quirky little tale.

So not only is it a great bunch of distinct characters who band together to find her, The Queen and all the ins and out of her regular days, like figuring out ‘Mr Google’ and ‘Miss Twitter’, and practising her yoga poses, and reminiscing about the good old days , makes this story such a delightful read.

It reminded me a little of Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, which Kuhn’s Queen mentions too:

“Fancy making me out to be a reader. There’s imagination for you”

One of the more fascinating aspects of this book was learning about the goings on at the palace. While this is a work of fiction, Kuhn previously authored non-fiction works about the court of Queen Victoria, and the life of Benjamin Disraeli, so I am inclined to believe that he knows what he is talking about.

And The Queen’s train trip proves to be quite the highlight of the book. She is seated at a table with a blind couple and a young man with piercings, who thinks she looks familiar but can’t quite place her. Instead he asks if she’s Helen Mirren, to which The Queen replies:

“Helen Mirren, now, she’s a beauty. Much more svelte than me,” said The Queen, patting her tummy.

“Well, you do look like her,” said the young man defensively.

Tee hee. Can you imagine?

tlc logoI received this book for review from TLC Book Tours and its publisher Harper Perennial

William KuhnWilliam Kuhn is a biographer and historian, and the author of Reading Jackie, Democratic Royalism, Henry & Mary Ponsonby, and The Politics of Pleasure. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts. This is his first novel. His next book, a work of historical fiction, explores the friendship over nearly forty years of Isabella Stewart Gardner and John Singer Sargent.

Find out more about William at his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Check out the rest of the tour:

Tuesday, October 8th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, October 9th: Lavish Bookshelf

Thursday, October 10th: Drey’s Library

Monday, October 14th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, October 15th: Olduvai Reads

Wednesday, October 16th: BookNAround

Thursday, October 17th: Booktalk & More

Friday, October 18th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, October 21st: What She Read …

Tuesday, October 22nd: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, October 23rd: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, October 24th: Walking with Nora

Monday, October 28th: My Bookshelf

Tuesday, October 29th: guiltless reading