Release day!

I thought A Week in Winter would be the last “new” book I would ever read by Maeve Binchy. She is one of my favorite authors, and when she died in 2012, she had published fifteen books and ten collections of short stories. There is something about her way of writing that no other author has ever been able replicate for me – that feeling that her characters, instead of existing only in a book, are living and breathing somewhere very close by. I’ve read Circle of Friends more times than I could count (thanks, RB!), and the main characters of that book feel like my friends. I was surprised to see that more of her work is being published, but I’m so glad. She really was wonderful.

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Today, Knopff is releasing Chestnut Street, and here is their description:

Maeve Binchy imagined a street in Dublin with many characters coming and going, and every once in a while she would write about one of these people. She would then put it in a drawer; “for the future,” she would say. The future is now.

Across town from St. Jarlath’s Crescent, featured in Minding Frankie, is Chestnut Street, where neighbors come and go. Behind their closed doors we encounter very different people with different life circumstances, occupations, and sensibilities. Some of the unforgettable characters lovingly brought to life by Binchy are Bucket Maguire, the window cleaner, who must do more than he bargained for to protect his son; Nessa Byrne, whose aunt visits from America every summer and turns the house—and Nessa’s world—upside down; Lilian, the generous girl with the big heart and a fiancé whom no one approves of; Melly, whose gossip about the neighbors helps Madame Magic, a self-styled fortune-teller, get everyone on the right track; Dolly, who discovers more about her perfect mother than she ever wanted to know; and Molly, who learns the cure for sleeplessness from her pen pal from Chicago . . .

Chestnut Street is written with the humor and understanding that are earmarks of Maeve Binchy’s extraordinary work and, once again, she warms our hearts with her storytelling.

Maeve’s husband, Gordon Snell has also written a bit about this book over on her website. I’ll be grabbing a copy of this ASAP.

Chestnut Street shares its book birthday with Christopher Moore’s new release, The Serpent of Venice. I’ve never read anything by Christopher Moore, but he’s coming to Quail Ridge Books on May 5, so I am going to go see him and give this book a try.

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Here is what William Morrow has to say about The Serpent of Venice:

New York Times bestselling author Christopher Moore channels William Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe in this satiric Venetian gothic that brings back the Pocket of Dog Snogging, the eponymous hero of Fool, along with his sidekick, Drool, and pet monkey, Jeff.

Venice, a long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy of Britain and France, and widower of the murdered Queen Cordelia: the rascal-Fool Pocket.

This trio of cunning plotters-the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Montressor Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago-have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising an evening of sprits and debauchery with a rare Amontillado sherry and Brabantio’s beautiful daughter, Portia.

But their invitation is, of course, bogus. The wine is drugged. The girl isn’t even in the city limits. Desperate to rid themselves once and for all of the man who has consistently foiled their grand quest for power and wealth, they have lured him to his death. (How can such a small man, be such a huge obstacle?). But this Fool is no fool . . . and he’s got more than a few tricks (and hand gestures) up his sleeve.

I do love Shakespeare. Worth a try!

Happy Release Day, Tatiana de Rosnay!

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About two years ago, I read Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Sarah’s Key is about the Holocaust, so it was difficult to read, but it was so worthwhile. Her storytelling is really beautiful. She has several novels published in French and English. Today is the book birthday for her newest novel, The Other Story.

Here is the official word from St. Martin’s Press:

Vacationing at a luxurious Tuscan island resort, Nicolas Duhamel is hopeful that the ghosts of his past have finally been put to rest… Now a bestselling author, when he was twenty-four years old, he stumbled upon a troubling secret about his family – a secret that was carefully concealed. In shock, Nicholas embarked on a journey to uncover the truth that took him from the Basque coast to St. Petersburg – but the answers wouldn’t come easily.

In the process of digging into his past, something else happened. Nicolas began writing a novel that was met with phenomenal success, skyrocketing him to literary fame whether he was ready for it or not – and convincing him that he had put his family’s history firmly behind him. But now, years later, Nicolas must reexamine everything he thought he knew, as he learns that, however deeply buried, the secrets of the past always find a way out.

Page-turning, layered and beautifully written, Tatiana de Rosnay’s THE OTHER STORY is a reflection on identity, the process of being a writer and the repercussions of generations-old decisions as they echo into the present and shape the future.

Sounds good to me!

Happy Release Day, Rob Lowe!

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I am a recent but devoted fan of the show Parks and Recreation. I binge-watched the first four seasons over a few weeks. I thought it was hilarious from the first episode, but I have to admit, it surpassed itself and became even more amazing at the end of season two thanks to the introduction of the characters Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger, played by Adam Scott and Rob Lowe.  Thanks to Rob, I will never again be able to hear the word “literally” without smiling.

I had no idea that Rob had already written a memoir a few years ago. I have mixed feelings about these kind of autobiographies – sometimes I read them and wish I hadn’t, because I end up disliking the new image of the author that replaces the familiar one I had in my head. I was relieved when I finished Kristin Chenoweth’s A Little Bit Wicked and felt like I could still love her. We won’t even talk about how far I made it (or didn’t make it) through Russell Brand’s My Bookie Wook. But the reviews for Love Life seem overwhelmingly positive, and if nothing else, I think it would be fun to get some inside scoop on Parks and Rec.

Here is the official word from Simon & Schuster:

When Rob Lowe’s first book was published in 2011, he received the kind of rapturous reviews that writers dream of and rocketed to the top of the bestseller list. Now, in Love Life, he expands his scope, using stories and observations from his life in a poignant and humorous series of true tales about men and women, art and commerce, fathers and sons, addiction and recovery, and sex and love.

In Love Life, you will find stories about:

• KISSING UNEXPECTEDLY
• THE SECRETS THEY DON’T TEACH YOU IN ACTING SCHOOL
• HIS GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GREAT GRANDFATHER’S ROLE IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
• PARKS AND RECREATION, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, AND CALIFORNICATION
• TRYING TO COACH A KIDS’ BASKETBALL TEAM DOMINATED BY HELICOPTER PARENTS
• THE HOT TUB AT THE PLAYBOY MANSION
• STARRING IN AND PRODUCING A FLOP TV SERIES
• CAMPING AT SEA WORLD
• PLAYING SAXOPHONE FOR PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON
• THE FIRST JOURNEY TO COLLEGE WITH HIS SON
• WARREN BEATTY
• THE BENEFITS OF MARRIAGE

Throughout this entertaining book, you will find yourself in the presence of a master raconteur, a multi-talented performer whose love for life is as intriguing as his love life.

Happy release day, Simone St. James!

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I don’t read many books that fall into the genre of “ghost story.” When St. James published her first book in 2013, The Haunting of Maddy Clare, I only read it because of all the buzz I saw about it on Lauren Willig’s website. It ended up winning a 2013 “Best First Book” RITA, and I can see why. It was creepy and disturbing, but I couldn’t put it down. Silence for the Dead comes out today, and thanks yet again to Lauren Willig, I got to read an advance copy. I’ll be posting a review soon, but for today, here is the official word from Penguin:

Portis House emerged from the fog as we approached, showing itself slowly as a long, low shadow…

In 1919, Kitty Weekes—pretty, resourceful, and on the run—falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?

Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman—or both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.

Spooky, yes?

Happy Release Day, Tracy Grant!

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I have been anxiously awaiting The Berkeley Square Affair since I finished The Paris Affair a year ago. I love this series. Teresa Grant (whose name is actually Tracy) has been writing about Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch since 2011. I found out about Tracy’s books through an “if you like” recommendation on Lauren Willig’s website. When I looked up the first book in series, Vienna Waltz, I saw recommendations from Tasha Alexander, Deanna Raybourn and C.S. Harris, too. All of these authors have their own historical mystery series that I have really enjoyed. Those recommendations (plus the unbelievably gorgeous cover – I mean, look at this thing: Image ) made me start this series, and I’m so glad I did. The Berkeley Square Affair is the fourth full-length novel in the series. There are also two e-novellas.

Here is what Kensington Books has to say about The Berkeley Square Affair:

A stolen treasure may hold the secret to a ghastly crime…

Ensconced in the comfort of their elegant home in London’s Berkeley Square, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch are no longer subject to the perilous life of intrigue they led during the Napoleonic Wars. Once an Intelligence Agent, Malcolm is now a Member of Parliament, and Suzanne is one of the city’s most sought-after hostesses. But a late-night visit from a friend who’s been robbed may lure them back into the dangerous world they thought they’d left behind.

Playwright Simon Tanner had in his possession what may be a lost version of Hamlet, and the thieves were prepared to kill for it. But the Rannochs suspect there’s more at stake than a literary gem–for the play may conceal the identity of a Bonapartist spy–along with secrets that could force Malcolm and Suzanne to abandon their newfound peace and confront their own dark past…

This book will be different from the others in the series, because Malcolm and Suzanne have been living abroad, either in Vienna or Paris, for the previous books. England is home for Malcolm, but in a way, it’s behind enemy lines for Suzanne. It will be interesting to see how the change in location and the supposed transition away from intelligence work for both Malcolm and Suzanne will impact the story. Also, I’m excited that Tracy is adding Shakespeare into the mix!

Happy Release Day, Lucinda Riley!

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Today’s book birthday is Lucinda Riley’s latest novel, The Midnight Rose.  Here is what Atria Books has to say about it:

Spanning four generations, The Midnight Rose sweeps from the glittering palaces of the great maharajas of India to the majestic stately homes of England, following the extraordinary life of a remarkable girl, Anahita Chaval, from 1911 to the present day…

In the heyday of the British Raj, eleven-year-old Anahita, from a noble but impov­erished family, forms a lifelong friendship with the headstrong Princess Indira, the privileged daughter of Indian royalty. As the princess’s official companion, Anahita accompanies her friend to England just before the outbreak of World War I. There, she meets young Donald Astbury—reluctant heir to the magnifi­cent, remote Astbury Estate—and his scheming mother.

Ninety years later, Rebecca Bradley, a young American film star, has the world at her feet. But when her turbulent relationship with her equally famous boyfriend takes an unexpected turn, she’s relieved that her latest role, playing a 1920s debutante, will take her away from the glare of publicity to a distant cor­ner of the English countryside. Shortly after filming begins at the now-crumbling Astbury Hall, Ari Malik, Anahita’s great-grandson, arrives unexpectedly, on a quest for his family’s past. What he and Rebecca discover begins to unravel the dark secrets that haunt the Astbury dynasty . . .

A multilayered, heartbreaking tale filled with unforgettable characters caught in the sweep of history, The Midnight Rose is Lucinda Riley at her most captivating and unforgettable.

According to the Library Jounral, this book is “a sure bet for fans of Lauren Willig, Kate Morton, or Maeve Binchy.”  All I see when I read that quote is “WIN WIN WIN.”  Also, thanks to my discovery about two years ago of The Far Pavilions, I have a fascination with books set in India during the Raj.  I’ve read two of Riley’s previous books (The Lavender Garden and The Girl on the Cliff), but this one seems like it has the potential to be my favorite.  If it sounds interesting to you, the first 42 pages are available to read for free on Riley’s website.

Happy Release Day, Anne Fortier!

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In keeping with my enthusiasm for books with mythological influence, I am so excited that The Lost Sisterhood is out today!  I actually got to read an advance copy of this thanks to Ballantine and NetGalley, so I will share my review tomorrow.

For today, here’s what Ballantine Books has to say about The Lost Sisterhood:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Juliet comes a mesmerizing novel about a young scholar who risks her reputation—and her life—on a thrilling journey to prove that the legendary warrior women known as the Amazons actually existed.

Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse.

Traveling to North Africa, Diana teams up with Nick Barran, an enigmatic Middle Eastern guide, and begins deciphering an unusual inscription on the wall of a recently unearthed temple. There she discovers the name of the first Amazon queen, Myrina, who crossed the Mediterranean in a heroic attempt to liberate her kidnapped sisters from Greek pirates, only to become embroiled in the most famous conflict of the ancient world—the Trojan War. Taking their cue from the inscription, Diana and Nick set out to find the fabled treasure that Myrina and her Amazon sisters salvaged from the embattled city of Troy so long ago. Diana doesn’t know the nature of the treasure, but she does know that someone is shadowing her, and that Nick has a sinister agenda of his own. With danger lurking at every turn, and unsure of whom to trust, Diana finds herself on a daring and dangerous quest for truth that will forever change her world.

Sweeping from England to North Africa to Greece and the ruins of ancient Troy, and navigating between present and past, The Lost Sisterhood is a breathtaking, passionate adventure of two women on parallel journeys, separated by time, who must fight to keep the lives and legacy of the Amazons from being lost forever.

Happy Release Day, Clive Cussler!

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Today is release day for Clive Cussler’s new novel The Bootlegger.  This is the seventh book in a series of mysteries about Detective Isaac Bell, set in America in the early 1900s.  Cussler coauthors this series with Justin Scott.

I’ve read the first four books of this series, and I’ve actually preferred them to the last few Dirk Pitt books I’ve read by Cussler.  I don’t read a lot of historical fiction set in the US, but these have been really interesting, and I think this is a series you could pick up in the middle without feeling lost.  If that’s not your style (I’m looking at you, Sib!), the first in the series is called The Chase, and it’s definitely worth a read.

Here is what Putnam has to say about The Bootlegger:

Detective Isaac Bell returns in the extraordinary new adventure in the #1 New York Times-bestselling series.

It is 1920, and both Prohibition and bootlegging are in full swing. When Isaac Bell’s boss and lifelong friend Joseph Van Dorn is shot and nearly killed leading the high-speed chase of a rum-running vessel, Bell swears to him that he will hunt down the lawbreakers, but he doesn’t know what he is getting into. When a witness to Van Dorn’s shooting is executed in a ruthlessly efficient manner invented by the Russian secret police, it becomes clear that these are no ordinary criminals. Bell is up against a team of Bolshevik assassins and saboteurs—and they are intent on overthrowing the government of the United States.

Happy Release Day, Deanna Raybourn!

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Finally, today is the publication day for Deanna Raybourn’s newest novel!

Here is what Harlequin has to say about City of Jasmine:

Set against the lush, exotic European colonial outposts of the 1920s, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn delivers the captivating tale of one woman who embarks upon a journey to see the world—and ends up finding intrigue, danger and a love beyond all reason.

Famed aviatrix Evangeline Starke never expected to see her husband, adventurer Gabriel Starke, ever again. They had been a golden couple, enjoying a whirlwind courtship amid the backdrop of a glittering social set in prewar London until his sudden death with the sinking of the Lusitania. Five years later, beginning to embrace life again, Evie embarks upon a flight around the world, collecting fame and admirers along the way. In the midst of her triumphant tour, she is shocked to receive a mysterious—and recent—photograph of Gabriel, which brings her ambitious stunt to a screeching halt.

With her eccentric aunt Dove in tow, Evie tracks the source of the photo to the ancient City of Jasmine, Damascus. There she discovers that nothing is as it seems. Danger lurks at every turn, and at stake is a priceless relic, an artifact once lost to time and so valuable that criminals will stop at nothing to acquire it—even murder. Leaving the jewelled city behind, Evie sets off across the punishing sands of the desert to unearth the truth of Gabriel’s disappearance and retrieve a relic straight from the pages of history.

Along the way, Evie must come to terms with the deception that parted her from Gabriel and the passion that will change her destiny forever…

After reading the e-novella “Whisper of Jasmine” earlier this month, I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.  Deanna’s descriptions of Africa in A Spear of Summer Grass were incredible, so I’m betting she will do a fabulous job with Damascus.  I was surprised to see Aunt Dove makes the jacket of the novel – she seemed fairly minor when Deanna introduced her in “Whisper,” but I did like her, so it will be fun to learn more about her.

In the novella, there is a nice hat-tip to Deanna’s Lady Julia series readers as well – I’m wondering if this will continue in City of Jasmine.  Either way, must get to the store and grab this soon!

Happy Release Day, Deanna Raybourn!

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What’s this?  It’s not Tuesday!

What a treat, to get a new release on a weekend.  I know Sheldon Cooper would say we’ve gone down the rabbit hole, but it’s okay – we’re just getting a sneak peak at Deanna’s forthcoming novel City of Jasmine through this e-novella, “Whisper of Jasmine.”

You saw where I wrote “treat,” right?  Let me elaborate – it’s FREE.

Here is what Harlequin has to say about “Whisper of Jasmine”:

New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn transports readers to a magical New Year’s Eve party in 1914, where two guests will discover the passion of a lifetime in this prequel novella…

Notorious socialite Delilah Drummond won’t be deterred by the war. Instead, she decides to throw the event of the year, and she’s handing out invitations with an eye for wanton fun and wild abandon.

There is the dashing explorer and archaeologist Gabriel Stark, a man at a crossroads in his life. Brilliant and restless, he’s just committed to a secret enterprise that forces him to play a public role very different from the man he truly is.

And then there is the charming if flighty Evangeline Merriweather. Evie has dreamed her whole life of adventure. Little does she know, she’s about to get more than she bargained for. Especially after her vivacious Aunt Dove acts as fairy godmother, if a saucy one, providing a scandalous gown and a whisper of jasmine on her skin….

Evie will shake cool Gabriel to his core, but just how far are they willing to take love at first sight?

One seductive night will change Evie forever. Watch for her next adventure, in the City of Jasmine.

I can’t wait to read this.  First – it features Delilah Drummond, the main character from A Spear of Summer Grass, who I found totally fascinating.  Second, I love this time period.  I also love the word “aviatrix.”  It sounds daring and sassy and dangerous all at the same time.

I also think the smell of jasmine is one of the most beautiful scents there is.  Deanna is an author who really knows how to use scent in her stories.  For an excellent interview with Deanna on how perfumes inspire her work and sometimes embody her characters, you can read this post on the blog Fragantica.

Did I mention that it’s free?  As in you can get it on your Nook or Kindle right now for $0.00.