Happy Release Day, Deborah Harkness!

book of life

For those of us who have been keeping up with the All Souls trilogy, today is a big day. Deborah Harkness’ new novel, The Book of Life, is out today. It’s the final book of the trilogy, and we’ve been waiting for it for two years. After reading all the hype about the first book in the series (“It’s like Twilight for grown-ups!” Is that a good thing or a bad thing??), I decided to give it a try. Honestly, it was a bit of a slow starter, but by the end, I was invested. The second book, Shadow of Night, grabbed my interest much more quickly, because the characters begin the book by time-traveling to Elizabethan England. Cameo appearances by Shakespeare and Marlowe? Sold. So I’ve been looking forward to this book for a while, and I’m excited to see how Harkness wraps up her story. My only concern – it’s been two years since I checked in with Diana and Matthew, and I may be a little fuzzy on my plot details. We shall see.

Here is what Viking has to say about The Book of Life:

The highly anticipated finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

Happy Release Day, Chris Bohjalian!

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Chris Bohjalian has published more than fifteen books, and he’s also written a forward for a 2013 translation of Les Misérables and an introduction for a 2001 Modern Library Classics edition of Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe. I think it’s fair to call him prolific. He has a 2013 release called The Light in the Ruins that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time now, since I have considerable affection for World War II novels. He’s also coming to Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on July 23rd, which sounds like something I need to take advantage of. Today, his newest novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, is available for purchase.

Here is what Doubleday has to say about Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands:

A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of “Midwives” and “The Sandcastle Girls.”

“Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands” is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless girl living in an igloo made of garbage bags in Burlington. Nearly a year ago, a power plant in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont had a meltdown, and both of Emily’s parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault—was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to leave their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer’s house, inventing a new identity for herself, and befriending a young homeless kid named Cameron. But Emily can’t outrun her past, can’t escape her grief, can’t hide forever-and so she comes up with the only plan that she can.

You can read an excerpt for free on Bohjalian’s website.

Hapy Release Day, Anna Lee Huber!

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Today is release for the third book in Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series, A Grave Matter. If you like mysteries or historical fiction, this series is definitely worth a try. Anna’s premise is original, and each of the books in the series is a great story.

Since I’ve already reviewed this one, we will skip straight to what Berkley has to say about A Grave Matter:

Scotland, 1830.  Following the death of her dear friend, Lady Kiera Darby is in need of a safe haven. Returning to her childhood home, Kiera hopes her beloved brother Trevor and the merriment of the Hogmanay Ball will distract her. But when a caretaker is murdered and a grave is disturbed at nearby Dryburgh Abbey, Kiera is once more thrust into the cold grasp of death.

While Kiera knows that aiding in another inquiry will only further tarnish her reputation, her knowledge of anatomy could make the difference in solving the case. But agreeing to investigate means Kiera must deal with the complicated emotions aroused in her by inquiry agent Sebastian Gage.

When Gage arrives, he reveals that the incident at the Abbey was not the first—some fiend is digging up old bones and holding them for ransom. Now Kiera and Gage must catch the grave robber and put the case to rest…before another victim winds up six feet under.

Happy Release Day, Deborah Lawrenson!

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Today’s book birthday is Deborah Lawrenson’s latest, The Sea Garden. It’s actually a collection of three novellas with a common theme. Sometimes, I have trouble appreciating novellas. They are so short that I usually feel like I’m just getting to a good place when they end. But these novellas are all connected, may I won’t have that experience here.

Here is what Harper has to say about The Sea Garden:

Romance, suspense, and World War II mystery are woven together in three artfully linked novellas – rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere – from the critically acclaimed author of “The Lantern.”

THE SEA GARDEN

On the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. Unsettled by its haunted air and the bitterness of the garden’s owner, an elderly woman who seems intent on undermining her, Ellie finds that her only ally on the island is an elusive war historian …

THE LAVENDER FIELD

Near the end of World War II, Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence, finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life . . . and discovers a breathtaking courage she never expected.

A SHADOW LIFE

Iris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London, falls for a French agent. But after a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be?

Ingeniously interconnected, this spellbinding triptych weaves three parallel narratives into one unique tale of love, mystery, and murder. The Sea Garden is a vivid and absorbing chronicle of love and loss in the fog of war-and a penetrating and perceptive examination of the impulses and circumstances that shape our lives.

Happy Release Week, J.K. Rowling!

silkworm

The Silkworm, the second mystery novel in Rowling’s “Cormoran Strike” series, will be released this week. Amazon UK and Barnes & Noble both say June 19, so even though I’ve seen different dates on other websites, I think Thursday will be the day.

I read The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first of this series, last year. I do like mysteries, but I’ll freely admit that the only real reason I picked up a copy was because the news had just broken that J.K. Rowling was the author (she published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith). Her 2013 release, The Casual Vacancy, was a little disappointing to me, and I was hoping her newest book would be more up my alley. I thought it was great, so I’m really looking forward to reading her latest.

Here is what Sphere has to say about The Silkworm:

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . .

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.

Happy Belated Release Day, Deanna Raybourn!

twelfth

Lots of new books are out today, but none of them are as exciting to me as Deanna Raybourn’s release from June 1. No offense to Hillary Clinton intended – I do know Hard Choices was released today, and I’m sure if insider accounts of political events are your cup of tea, it will be a great read for you. But I’d much rather tell you about Deanna’s e-novella Twelfth Night.

I missed posting about it because Twelfth Night was released on a Sunday rather than a Tuesday. This seems to be the case with all of Deanna’s novellas. This is the third one she has published now related to her Lady Julia series, and it catches readers up with where we left Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane at the end of The Dark Enquiry.

The Dark Enquiry was the last new release in the Lady Julia series, and it came out in 2011. Many readers (including myself) have been wondering if Deanna has any plans to return to Lady Julia for a full-length novel. If you’re a fan of the series, and you’ve been wondering the same thing, definitely read Twelfth Night. If you haven’t read anything by Deanna, I would recommend either Silent in the Grave (the first of the Lady Julia novels) or City of Jasmine, her standalone novel from March of this year.

Anyway, here is what Harlequin MIRA has to say about Twelfth Night:

To mark the passing of another decade, the esteemed (and eccentric) March family have assembled at Bellmont Abbey to perform the Twelfth Night Revels for their sleepy English village. But before Lady Julia and her handsome sleuthing husband, Nicolas Brisbane, can take to the stage, a ruckus in the stable yard demands their attention. An abandoned infant is found nestled in the steel helm of St. George. What’s more, their only lead is the local legend of a haunted cottage and its ghastly inhabitant—who seems to have returned.

Once again, Lady Julia and Nicholas take up the challenge to investigate, and when the source of the mystery is revealed, they’ll be faced with an impossible choice—one that will alter the course of their lives forever.

Any time Deanna throws Julia together with a crowd of her siblings, things get interesting quickly! It’s a very good and very fast read.

Happy Release Day, Beatriz Williams!

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Beatriz Williams’ third novel The Secret Life of Violet Grant is out today. I’ve read her second book, A Hundred Summers, and also one of the romance novels that she writes under the pen name Julianna Gray. RT Books praises her writing for her “smart characters, snappy dialogue and ingenious literary devices that turn the ordinary into extraordinary.”

Ms. Williams’ newest book falls into the time-slip category that is so near and dear to my heart. The description reads like a Kate Morton novel, which is also a win for me.

Here is what Putnam has to say about The Secret Life of Violet Grant:

Passion, redemption, and a battered suitcase full of secrets: the New York Times-bestselling author of A Hundred Summers returns with another engrossing tale. 

Manhattan, 1964. Vivian Schuyler, newly graduated from Bryn Mawr College, has recently defied the privilege of her storied old Fifth Avenue family to do the unthinkable for a budding Kennedy-era socialite: break into the Madison Avenue world of razor-stylish Metropolitan magazine. But when she receives a bulky overseas parcel in the mail, the unexpected contents draw her inexorably back into her family’s past, and the hushed-over “crime passionnel” of an aunt she never knew, whose existence has been wiped from the record of history.

Berlin, 1914. Violet Schuyler Grant endures her marriage to the philandering and decades-older scientist Dr. Walter Grant for one reason: for all his faults, he provides the necessary support to her liminal position as a young American female physicist in prewar Germany. The arrival of Dr. Grant’s magnetic former student at the beginning of Europe’s fateful summer interrupts this delicate détente. Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British Army, challenges Violet to escape her husband’s perverse hold, and as the world edges into war and Lionel’s shocking true motives become evident, Violet is tempted to take the ultimate step to set herself free and seek a life of her own conviction with a man whose cause is as audacious as her own.

As the iridescent and fractured Vivian digs deeper into her aunt’s past and the mystery of her ultimate fate, Violet’s story of determination and desire unfolds, shedding light on the darkness of her years abroad . . . and teaching Vivian to reach forward with grace for the ambitious future––and the love––she wants most.

Happy Release Day, Emily Giffin!

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Today is the book birthday for Emily Giffin’s seventh novel, The One & Only. I’ve read three of her previous books (Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and Baby Proof), and I like her style. I don’t read many books that are straight “chick lit,” but her books that I’ve read are funny and usually have something going on in them that’s a little more in-depth than a “boy meets girl” plot. Somehow, the fact that she got her undergrad degree at Wake Forest (even though she’s not an NC native) makes me want to support her like she’s a local author. So I will definitely check out her newest book.

Here is what Ballantine Books has to say about The One & Only:

In her eagerly awaited new novel, beloved New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin returns with an extraordinary story of love and loyalty—and an unconventional heroine struggling to reconcile both.

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living.

Happy Release Day, Melanie Dobson!

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I went through a phase last year where I read a lot of historical fiction about World War II. I also love a good time slip novel – so Chateau of Secrets, the newest book by Melanie Dobson, sounds like a good one to try.

Here is what Howard Books has to say about Chateau of Secrets:

A courageous young noblewoman risks her life to hide French resistance fighters; seventy years later, her granddaughter visits the family’s abandoned chateau and uncovers shocking secrets from the past.

Gisèle Duchant guards a secret that could cost her life. Tunnels snake through the hill under her family’s medieval chateau in Normandy. Now, with Hitler’s army bearing down, her brother and several friends are hiding in the tunnels, resisting the German occupation of France.

But when German soldiers take over the family’s château, Gisèle is forced to host them as well—while harboring the resistance fighters right below their feet. Taking in a Jewish friend’s baby, she convinces the Nazis that it is her child, ultimately risking everything for the future of the child. When the German officers begin to suspect her deception, an unlikely hero rescues both her and the child.

A present day story weaves through the past one as Chloe Salvare, Gisèle’s granddaughter, arrives in Normandy. After calling off her engagement with a political candidate, Chloe pays a visit to the chateau to escape publicity and work with a documentary filmmaker, Riley, who has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler’s army. Riley wants to research Chloe’s family history and the lives that were saved in the tunnels under their house in Normandy. Chloe is floored—her family isn’t Jewish, for one thing, and she doesn’t know anything about tunnels or the history of the house. But as she begins to explore the dark and winding passageways beneath the chateau, nothing can prepare her for the shock of what she and Riley discover…

With emotion and intrigue, Melanie Dobson brings World War II France to life in this beautiful novel about war, family, sacrifice, and the secrets of the past.

According to Melanie’s blog, Gisèle’s story is based on the real life of a French noblewoman, Genevieve de Saint Pern Menke.

Happy Release Day, Charlaine Harris!

midnight crossroad

The people who are familiar with Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse southern vampire series (or the HBO series True Blood that is based on her books) have some very definite opinions about it. Most of what I’ve heard is total fandom and enthusiasm for the first 10 books or so, lukewarm feelings about 11 and 12, and abject hatred for book 13. Reading some of the reviews for the last book in the series, Dead Ever After, was enough to make me feel profoundly sorry for Ms. Harris. Her situation is a textbook example of how readers or fans can turn into an author’s worst nightmare when the author takes a character in a direction that the readers didn’t want.

Personally, I have only read the first Sookie Stackhouse book and (please don’t throw anything at me)… I was underwhelmed. It was fine. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about. And around the same time I read that one, a very noisy contingent of fans started squawking on GoodReads and other review sites about much they hated Dead Ever After and they wished they’d never even started the series. So I wasn’t feeling particularly encouraged to carry on with the series after that. But I still felt bad for Ms. Harris, thanks to all the reader backlash, and so I hope this new release and the start of a new trilogy will be a big success for her.

Here is what Ace has to say about Midnight Crossroad:

From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…