The Zoo by Isobel Charman
The Wild and Wonderful Tale of the Founding of London Zoo: 1826-1851

from the publisher:

The founding of a zoo in Georgian London is a story of jaw-dropping audacity in the Age of Empire. It is the story of diplomats, traders, scientists, and aristocratic amateur naturalists charged by Sir Stamford Raffles with collecting amazing creatures from all four corners of the globe.

It is the story of the first zoo in history, a weird and wonderful oasis in the heart of the filthy, swirling city of Dickensian London, and of the incredible characters, both human and animal, that populated it—from Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria to Obaysch the celebrity hippo, the first that anyone in Britain had ever seen. This is a story of Victorian grandeur, of science and empire, and of adventurers and charlatans.

Charman dug through expansive archives and letters to recreate the founding of the London Zoo. The book has an unusual tone, written as though it were a novel, and contemporary with the time period. It means that the reader has to slow down a bit to parse through the language but it’s well worth it.

It’s also a reminder that grand ideas have to start somewhere, even with the smallest kernel of notions.

My thanks to Pegasus Books for the review copy.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1681773568

A Cast of Vultures By Judith Flanders

from the publisher:

Usually clear-headed editor Samantha Clair stumbles through her post-book-party morning with the hangover to end all hangovers. But before the ibuprofen has even kicked in, she finds herself entangled in an elaborate saga of missing neighbors, suspected arson, and strange men offering free tattoos.

By the time the grisly news breaks that the fire has claimed a victim, Sam is already in pursuit. Never has comedy been so deadly as she faces down a pair from Thugs ’R’ Us, aided by nothing more than a Scotland Yard boyfriend, a stalwart Goth assistant, and an unnerving knowledge of London’s best farmer’s markets.

Until now, I’d only read Judith Flanders’ fantastic nonfiction about the Victorian era. A Cast of Vultures is like a breath of fresh spring air from those gaslit, foggy nights. The mystery is a simple cozy, constructed for the enjoyment of an escape rather than a twisting puzzle to challenge the reader.

Read via NetGalley
By Judith Flanders
Series: Sam Clair (Book 3)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN-13: 978-1250087829

The Red Sphinx By Alexandre Dumas

from the publisher:

The Red Sphinx picks up right where the The Three Musketeers left off, continuing the stories of Cardinal Richelieu, Queen Anne, and King Louis XIII—and introducing a charming new hero, the Comte de Moret, a real historical figure from the period. A young cavalier newly arrived in Paris, Moret is an illegitimate son of the former king, and thus half-brother to King Louis. The French Court seethes with intrigue as king, queen, and cardinal all vie for power, and young Moret soon finds himself up to his handsome neck in conspiracy, danger—and passionate romance!

Now for the first time, in one cohesive narrative, The Red Sphinx and The Dove make a complete and satisfying storyline—a rip-roaring novel of historical adventure, heretofore unknown to English-language readers, by the great Alexandre Dumas, king of the swashbucklers.

If you want something with a bit more heft — both literal and figurative —  for your spring reading, pick up The Red Sphinx. This chapter of the Musketeer tale focuses on conspiracy within the palace, much of it at the hands of the always dastardly Cardinal Richelieu. Readers should know that Aramis, Athos and Porthos don’t appear in this novel but there is plenty of adventure and subterfuge to keep one busy.

My thanks to Pegasus for the review copy.

Hardcover: 832 pages
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1681772974

4 thoughts on “Spring forward”

  1. I’m so glad I saw this! I read Judith Flander’s A Murder of Magpies last year. Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about the mystery but I really enjoyed the characters and the setting. I’m glad to see she written a second in the series, I will add it to my list.

      1. Hooray! Yeah, it wasn’t life-altering or anything but it was fun and I liked the characters. Have you read the Flavia deLuce series? Those



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