Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sneaky Peeky: THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness

Is anyone else as excited about the release of last book in the ALL SOULS TRILOGY as I am?  The final book, THE BOOK OF LIFE, comes out in July.  So there is still plenty of time to catch up!  You can read my reviews of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and SHADOW OF NIGHT and then go grab them!  Both are quick reads and perfect for vacation/beach reads.  I always recommend them to fans of the OUTLANDER series.

If you are already caught up and clamoring for me, how about a sneak peek at the first chapter of BOOK OF LIFE?!  Go here to read the first chapter and then check back here in July for a very special giveaway!

THE BOOK OF LIFE releases on July 15!

Monday, May 26, 2014


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

When I heard this book being compared to THE TOWER, THE ZOO, AND THE TORTOISE, I knew I had to read it!  I am always a fan of quirky characters.  Especially those living on the edges of society.  CHAPLIN AND COMPANY is full of these individuals.

Odeline Milk, recently orphaned after the death of her mother, decides to start a new life by buying a houseboat sight unseen. She hopes to become a great mime performer in the style of the Marcel Marceau and the circus performer father that she has never known and who doesn't know she exists.  Determined to keep to herself and focus on her craft, Odeline struggles to adjust to life on a London canal while her neighbors constantly intrude on her solitude.  Vera--the downtrodde worker on a local cafe barge hiding a big secret.  John Kettle--the alcoholic canal warden.  Ridley--the charismatic musical traveling gypsy. And many others who cross their paths or the path of Odeline's unusual houseboat.  Her boat has a history of its own and becomes a character in its own right.  The boat's past is revealed in flashbacks.  Odeline must learn not only to find her way in this new life but also how to accept the companionship of others.

I thought this was a delightful book. I found it a bit more melancholy than THE TOWER, THE ZOO, AND THE TORTOISE.  Overall, it is a very pleasant story with fascinating characters.  I felt that it ended too soon! I would have loved to learn more about the people (and the boat!) in the book. There were two minor characters in the story that I longed to find out more about. 

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended.  An intriguing cast of characters and a sweet story. Overall, it is a very sweet tale that reminds us of how we always need to strive for human connection.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

THE BOOK OF YOU by Claire Kendal

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I'm not sure why but I have been really drawn to novels of suspense lately. This one sounded particularly intriguing and I am baffled why more people aren't talking about it.  Claire Kendal's debut novel is a wonderful example of psychological suspense. It may even be too effective!  I had to stop reading this book at night because it was making it difficult for me to sleep!

Clarissa has a stalker. His name is Rafe. He is a professor at the university where she works.  After a regrettable one night stand with Rafe that she has trouble remembering, Clarissa can't seem to avoid him. What began as a source of irritation is rapidly progressing into something much more.  She can't seem to escape him. He is everywhere.  When Clarissa gets called for jury duty, she is relieved.  Especially when she finds out the case will last ten weeks. Ten blissful weeks in a place where Rafe can't follow.  The case, however, proves difficult for Clarissa to be a part of as the victim in the trial has experiences that parallel her own. As the trial progresses, Rafe's unwanted attention increases to the point that Clarissa begins documenting everything in a notebook. She begins to collect evidence to take to the authorities in the hope that they will help her. But Claire is afraid that help won't come soon enough to save her.

This book had me on the edge of my seat.  I couldn't put it down. One can read a serial killer book and realize that the chances of that happening are highly unlikely. I think many women understand how uncomfortable and scary unwanted attention from a man can be. It isn't always as extreme as Rafe's actions but it can be just as unpleasant. I think the best part of the book is how Kendal highlights how legal systems can fail women in these cases. THE BOOK OF YOU takes place in England but it might as well take place here in the United States. There have been cases in my own small town of women who have tried to get restraining orders and help from the authorities in order to deal with domestic abuse and wound up dead.  It is an ongoing problem.  While the ending wasn't completely satisfying, it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. This would a great vacation/beach read.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended.  For those who enjoy suspense, you won't want to miss this one.  The feel of reminded me of GONE GIRL although you don't have to worry about unreliable narrators in this one! The perfect pick for vacation.