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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Reviews: Black Arts, Tarts & Gypsy Carts and Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins by Erin Johnson

Recently I introduced you to Spells & Caramels , a fun magical series by the talented Erin Johnson. Today I’m pleased to tell you about the next two books in the series. Enjoy!

Black Arts, Tarts & Gypsy Carts
I’m pleased to report this second installment in the Spells & Caramels series was just as sweet as the first… The characters are charming, as is the setting/world-building. The mysteries aren’t always that mysterious, but they are cozy and fun to read nevertheless. And there is a HUGE reveal at the end that I totally did not see coming – in fact, I thought it was going to be something in an altogether different direction, so while I knew *something* was coming, was delightfully doubly surprised when I learned what it actually was… (I know, I know – oblique. But I have to be or I’ll spoil the whole thing.) This is a very fun series that I look forward to continuing with once the next title releases! Continue reading Book Reviews: Black Arts, Tarts & Gypsy Carts and Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins by Erin Johnson

Excerpt: Aphra Behn: A Secret Life by Janet Todd

Today I’m pleased to bring you a fascinating bit of history that you, like me, may not have been familiar with before now… I am always intrigued by books that introduce me to figures in history that have remarkable stories that somehow never made it into the popular consciousness. Aphra Behn is one of those people.

Aphra Behn (1640-1689) was one of the most extraordinary figures in the history of English literature, a female polymath who rose from humble origins to come close to the heart of power. In this landmark biography, Janet Todd draws on contemporary documents and on Behn’s own writings to examine the history of the times and to tell the story of an independent woman in a harsh and glittering society, caught up in and exploiting the political, diplomatic and sexual intrigues of her time. Continue reading Excerpt: Aphra Behn: A Secret Life by Janet Todd

What Would YOU Wish For?

My review of As You Wish is available here. And if you enter the contest, share your wish in the comments below!

Book Review: Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

“I’m overcome with a strange sensation, a feeling that we dodged a bullet but that somehow, inexplicably, I’m bleeding.”

I LOVED this book… I seem to be on a Russia kick lately, and have always loved spy books, so this was just the right book at the right time. I am captivated by stories in which regular life is revealed to be precarious, balanced on a knife-edge of outright lies, secrets and not-quite-the-truths – in which good people find themselves in horrid situations that snowball… I’m fascinated by the psychology of it all, but also by the mystery – the idea that there is a seamy underbelly to even the most banal-seeming life. And even more than that, I’m fascinated to see if and how people dig themselves out of the holes they find themselves in when their lives turn out to be not at all what they thought they were…

Karen Cleveland offers all of that in spades in this excellently paced and plotted novel. And if that wasn’t enough, the characters are fantastic too. Continue reading Book Review: Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

Book Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

This was an incredible ride of a family drama… I don’t know quite what I expected, but it wasn’t what I got – but not in a bad way. The story starts out with four siblings headed to a “fortune teller” in New York City – a woman rumored to be able to tell anyone who visits her the exact date of their death. That fateful trip sets their lives on individual courses that are intense, insane, and incredible – with the never-answered question being whether the prophesy drove their lives or their lives drove the prophecy…

After the opening chapter, the book divides into timeline narratives chronicling each sibling’s life and experiences as they live under the knowledge of their prophesied death date. The stories can be rough – particularly the first two, for the youngest siblings. This is raw, gritty life – and death. The four sections are all well written, and the characters’ voices are distinct and strong (even when the characters themselves are not), exploring the particular personality quirks and foibles that make each sibling unique and eminently human. Continue reading Book Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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