Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Monday, January 15, 2018

Book Showcase: THE LAST DAYS OF OSCAR WILDE by John Vanderslice

The Last Days of Oscar Wilde by John Vanderslice
ISBN: 9780996485098 (paperback)
Publisher: Burlesque Press 
Release Date: January 15, 2018

Meet Oscar Wilde. His life is ending.
The year is 1898. Wilde's once esteemed reputation is in ruins.
After the scandal, after the trial, and after the incarceration at Reading Gaol, Wilde lives in precarious exile in Paris. His friends urge him to start another great work, a new play or poem. But Wilde's attention is elsewhere: on the mysteries of art, on the demands of love, and on a final great flowering of the spirit.

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Turning the corner at the Avenue de l'Opéra, intending to head north, it was actually difficult to walk despite the fact that the night before he'd slept better than he had any right to expect, that he carried his cane, and that he'd already braced his nerves with a glass of Armagnac at a café three streets back. He wore the best of his suits, the only one that evidenced no sign of stain or tearing, the one with the least obvious end-of-life smell. The one he reserved for those times, even now, when it seemed important to impress. He'd used the last of his current resources to get his shirt pressed and his shoes shined—and for the drink, of course. He would not eat later in the day and probably for the next one as well, unless he could find a café or restaurant willing to extend him credit. Virtually no chance of that.  And he had to hope that Douglas would be willing to cover the cost of whatever they consumed during this meeting. Surely they would consume something. This was too significant a conference for them to simply gab and leave. Certain diplomatic—to say nothing of Parisian—protocols would need to be respected.
But Wilde couldn't know. He couldn't know what Douglas was planning exactly—assuming Douglas himself even did—he couldn't know if the boy had guessed in advance what he was here to tell him and what that might mean. Bosie might come primed for battle or for reconciliation; but Oscar well knew from all his years of association with Lord Alfred Douglas that no matter what Bosie came primed for he was capable of changing his mind in seconds. 
Ahead of him lay the busy business of the avenue, including, blocks away from where he presently stood—bloated and unsteady on his feet—the intersection with the Boulevard des Capucines, on the other side of which sat the Café de la Paix. That was where Douglas had agreed to wait for him, after specifying that he would not visit Oscar at his "atrocious" place of residence. Wilde had never eaten at the famous—and expensive—café, which sat on the bottom floor of the Grand Hotel, although Louis Latourette and Ernest La Jeunesse and Jean Moréas and several others had said kind things about the place.  He'd started the morning hoping he would finally have the opportunity to take a meal there. But now, standing on the street, close enough to spy the café's actual location, Wilde wasn't sure if his stomach was in good enough shape to handle anything more than a stiff drink. Probably after the meeting was concluded he would be ravenous, no matter what kind of answer he got from his old lover. But he was nothing but nauseous with tension now. As he stood and wavered and squinted, he thought that he ought to be able to see the amazing sunlight of Bosie's hair, the exquisite sculpture of his forehead, the needy intensity of his eyes, even from this far away. But, of course, all he could see was colored awnings, chairs assembled on the sidewalk, shadowy bodies leaning or bending or sitting. He was not close enough yet for a truly clear view. He couldn't just stand here. He had to move forward if he ever wanted to see.

Excerpt from The Last Days of Oscar Wilde by John Vanderslice. 
Copyright © 2018 by John Vanderslice.
All Rights Reserved. Published by Burlesque Press LLC.

Meet the Author

John Vanderslice teaches creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas. His short stories, poems, essays, and one-act plays have been published in scores of literary journals, including Seattle Review, Sou'wester, Laurel Review, South Carolina Review, 1966, and Crazyhorse. His linked book of short stories Island Fog (Lavender Ink) was named by Library Journal as one of the Top 15 Indie Fiction Titles of 2014. His historical novel The Last Days of Oscar Wilde is forthcoming in January 2018 from Burlesque Press. 

Connect with John on his websiteblog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Book Showcase: THE SWEDISH GIRL by Alex Gray

The Swedish Girl

by Alex Gray

on Tour January 8 - February 12, 2018


The Swedish Girl by Alex Gray

Another gripping Lorimer novel from Alex Gray, evoking Glasgow like no other writer can

When Kirsty Wilson lands a room in a luxury Glasgow flat owned by Swedish fellow student Eva Magnusson she can't believe her luck. But Kirsty's delight turns to terror when she finds the beautiful Swedish girl lying dead in their home and their male flatmate accused of her murder. Kirsty refuses to accept that he is guilty and, inspired by family friend Detective Superintendent Lorimer, sets out to clear his name.
Meanwhile, Lorimer calls on trusted psychologist Solly Brightman to help unravel the truth behind the enigmatic Eva's life and death. But it is not long until another woman, bearing a marked resemblance to Eva, is brutally murdered. Horrified, Lorimer realises that Kirsty could be right. Is it possible that Glasgow's finest detective has put the wrong man behind bars? And is there a cold-blooded killer out there orchestrating the death of the next innocent victim?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 9th 2018
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780062659255
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel, #10 (Stand Alone)
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | HarperCollins  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

From Chapter 9
Kirsty turned the key in the door and closed it behind her with a sigh. The hall was in darkness and there was no sound coming from the living room. Her shoulders moved up and down in a shrug of resignation; she was alone in the flat again. Then she remembered. Wasn't there some party that Eva had mentioned? They'd all be there, wouldn't they? Pulling off her thin raincoat and hanging it on the old-fashioned wooden coat stand, Kirsty sauntered into the bedroom next to the front door, unbuttoning her jacket. It was fair handy having this big room to herself, especially when she was working late shift at the hotel. Nobody would be disturbed by her comings and goings. She took off her shoes and tossed her jacket, bag and mobile phone onto the bed. Oh, it was good to be home. A wee cup of hot chocolate and some of her own gingerbread would go down well, she thought, already imagining her teeth sinking into a thick slab of treacly cake.
She stopped for a moment, listening. There was a swish then a click as the front door opened and closed again. Then, nothing.
'Colin? Is that you back already?' Kirsty wandered out into the hall, her bare feet sinking into the pile of the hall carpet, still thick and soft despite all their winter boots tramping back and forth. Eva's father had spared no expense in doing up this flat for his daughter and Kirsty Wilson was grateful for those small luxuries that were absent from most of her friends' student flats.
Frowning slightly, Kirsty padded down the unlit corridor, one hand out ready to flick on the light switch as she reached the kitchen. But something made her turn left into the living room instead, just to see if anyone was at home after all.
At first she imagined the girl had fallen asleep, sprawled out in front of the television.
Kirsty moved forward and bent down, expecting the girl to sit up and yawn. One hand reached out to touch the back of her head but then she drew back as though guided by some inner instinct.
She stood up again and stepped around the recumbent figure, unaware that she was holding her breath.
Then, as Kirsty saw the expression in the dead girl's eyes, the thin wail escaping from her open mouth turned into a scream of terror.
* * *
Detective Superintendent Lorimer crouched over the body, aware of the sounds of voices coming from the hall. The dead girl was lying on her back, one arm flung out, the fist curled tightly in the moment of death. Her head was bent to one side, blond hair partly obscuring her features, but Lorimer could see enough to make him wonder about the cause of death.
'Manual strangulation?' he asked, glancing up at the consultant pathologist who was kneeling on the other side of the girl's body. The on-duty pathologist tonight was his friend, Dr Rosie Fergusson. He glanced at her with his usual admiration for her calm efficiency, knowing how different she could be at home as a doting mother and as the wife of Professor Brightman, an eminent psychologist and sometime criminal profiler who had worked with Lorimer in the past.
'Looks like it,' Rosie murmured, her gloved hands smoothing the hair from the victim's face, letting Lorimer see for the first time what Kirsty Wilson had found earlier that night.
Eva Magnusson still had that ethereal quality in death that had captivated those who had gazed upon her: Lorimer saw the perfect oval face with flawless skin and bow-shaped lips that were slightly parted as though she had been taken by surprise. He watched as Rosie reached out to close the dead girl's eyelids, seeing for the final time those pale blue Scandinavian eyes staring out at a world that had proved less than kind.

Excerpt from The Swedish Girl by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2018 by Alex Gray. Reprinted by permission of Witness Impulse, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Alex Gray
Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English. Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers' Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing. A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Catch Up With Alex Gray On:

Website, Goodreads, & Twitter!

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Alex Gray's A Pound of Flesh. The giveaway begins on January 8 and runs through February 14, 2018.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018 Book 1: THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn 
ISBN: 9780062678416 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062678447 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062678430 (digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B06Y55Z36S (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 2, 2018 
Publisher: William Morrow

"Astounding. Thrilling. Amazing." —Gillian Flynn

"Unputdownable." —Stephen King

"A dark, twisty confection." —Ruth Ware

"Absolutely gripping." —Louise Penny

What did she see?
It's been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna's lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbors. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

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Dr. Anna Fox is much more than a recluse, she is agoraphobic, and doesn't leave her home. She has a tenant that helps with minor repairs, has her meals and medications delivered, and interacts with others via online forums. Her psychologist comes to her home for visits as does her physical therapist. Since she no longer interacts with the outside world, she has become a voyeur, viewing her neighbors through her windows and camera lens, making up vignettes about what she sees or thinks she has seen. Then she sees a murder, calls the police to report the crime and it is dismissed as the ramblings of a borderline alcoholic mental case. But Anna knows what she saw or thinks she saw, doesn't she?

The Woman In the Window by A.J. Finn is a psychological thrill-ride from beginning to end. This story has been called Hitchcockian by many and that is, perhaps, the perfect description is it comes across as a mixture of Gaslight and Rear Window with a touch of the 1990s film Copycat. Anna is an unreliable narrator at best, primarily because of her drinking and mixing her psych meds with alcohol (a big no-no), but she still comes across as believable. Mr. Finn provides Anna's backstory in a piecemeal fashion so that the full story isn't revealed until you're almost at the end. No, I won't tell you what her backstory is but it provides a powerful emotional punch when the truth is revealed. The reader, along with Anna, must decide if an actual murder took place, if Anna is hallucinating, or if something more sinister is going on. If it is the latter then who is the bad guy? Most of you know that I enjoy reading psychological suspense thrillers along with mystery and suspense so this was, perhaps, the perfect read to kick off my 2018 reading. The only reason I didn't finish reading this in one sitting is due to a family emergency. The story is gripping, the characters are realistic and believable (yes, even Anna), and the action kept this reader on the proverbial edge of my seat. I enjoyed reading The Woman in the Window and look forward to reading more from Mr. Finn in the future. If you enjoy reading psychological suspense then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of The Woman in the Window to read. If you're not sure about psychological suspense but want something a little different to read, then look no further than The Woman in the Window.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Meet the author

A. J. Finn has written for numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Times Literary Supplement (UK). A native of New York, Finn lived in England for ten years before returning to New York City.

Follow Finn on Twitter and Facebook.

This review is part of a tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Book Showcase: BEST FRIENDS FOREVER by Margot Hunt

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt
ISBN: 9780778331131 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488027970 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488203947 (audiobook)
ASIN: B06Y5RLJN9 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: January 23, 2018

How well do you really know your best friend?
Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they're very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they're each other's rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat's financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.
Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice's direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

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"It's probably one of the neighbors," I said. "Maybe someone has a dead car battery and needs a jump."
Todd nodded and went off to answer the door just as the toast popped up. Whoever was at the house, they were arriving just as breakfast was ready. I checked the toast and decided to drop it down for further browning.
I heard the low murmur of Todd as he spoke, but I didn't recognize the voices that responded. One male, one female, I thought. I couldn't hear what Todd said in reply, but something about his tone sounded off. The smell of burning bread filled my nose. I popped the toast up. It was now charred black. I swore softly, feeling another flash of irritation at the interruption to our morning routine.
"Are you okay, Mom?" Bridget asked, appearing in the kitchen.
"I'm fine."
"Gross," Bridget said. "Burned?" "Burned," I confirmed.
"I'm not eating that," Bridget said, pointing an accusatory finger.
"No one's asking you to." I plucked the bread out of the toaster and tossed it in the garbage can. "I'll make some more."
"Who are those people Daddy's talking to?" "I'm not sure," I said. "Why?"
"He looks worried," Bridget said.
I inserted a few fresh slices of bread into the toaster and put a lid on the pan of eggs to keep them warm.
"I'll find out what's going on," I said. "Are your hands clean? No? Go wash them. Breakfast is almost ready."
I passed through the open-plan living room with its well-worn brown leather sofas and floral wool rug, all overdue for replacement, out to the front hall. Todd was standing slightly to one side of the open door, so I had a clear view of the man and woman on our front step. Both were dressed in suits that looked too warm for a sunny April Florida morning. The automatic sprinklers switched on then and began spraying water across the browning lawn with rat-a-tat-tat efficiency.
"Who is it?" I asked.
Todd turned to me. Bridget was right, he did look worried. "They're police officers," he said. "Detectives…" Todd's voice trailed off as he turned back to look at our visitors.
"Sorry, I've forgotten your names."
"I'm Detective Alex Demer." The detective was tall and bulky and had dark, pockmarked skin and a closely cropped beard. "And this is Sergeant Sofia Oliver."
"I'm Alice Campbell," I replied. Neither of them offered a hand to shake, so I followed their lead.
Oliver was the younger of the two. She was petite and fine-boned, and her auburn hair was cut short in a pixie style. Her lips rounded down, and her eyes were flinty. My best friend, Kat, would call it a "resting bitch face." In Oliver's case, it was an accurate description.
"Th-they want to talk to you about Howard Grant," Todd stammered.
Howard Grant. Kat's husband. Or, to be more accurate, her late husband. Howard had died three days earlier. The shock of his death still hit me anew every time I thought of it.
"Oh, right. Of course. You're with the Jupiter Island Police?" I guessed. Kat and Howard lived—or in Howard's case, had lived—on tony Jupiter Island. While their home was close geographically to where we lived, in the Town of Jupiter, the island was its own separate and quite exclusive municipality. "The Jupiter Island Public Safety Department," Sergeant Oliver corrected me, her tone needlessly officious.
"Actually, Sergeant Oliver is with the Jupiter Island Public Safety Department," Detective Demer said. "I'm with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement based in Tallahassee. I've been temporarily assigned to look into Howard Grant's death."
"I thought Howard's death was an accident," I said. Detective Demer gazed down at me, his expression inscrutable. "That's what we're looking into. And that's why we need to speak with you."

Excerpt from Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt, to be released on 
January 23, 2018, by MIRA Books. Copyright © 2018 by Margot Hunt.

Meet the Author

Margot Hunt is the pseudonym of a bestselling writer of twelve previous novels. Her work has been praised by Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews. Best Friends Forever is her first psychological thriller.

Connect with Margot at her website, Facebook, and Twitter

This excerpt and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours 

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Book 439: NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT by Kristan Higgins

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
ISBN: 9781335903358 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488029264 (ebook)
ASIN: B0711QCV3C (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 26, 2017 
Publisher: Harlequin

One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.
Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There's only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn't necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.
With a tough islander mother who's always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter--a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was--Nora has her work cut out for her if she's going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.
But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise...and the chance to begin again.

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Nora Stuart had an idyllic childhood until her father left. Her mother, a reserved Mainer, did her best to raise Nora and her sister Lily, but she worked hard to provide for her daughters and didn't focus on "emotional" support. Nora was a social pariah in high school, overweight, nerdy, and unpopular while her younger sister was a popular and beloved social butterfly. The only way she could get out of Scupper Island, Maine was to go away to college. Fortunately, a tech multi-millionaire provided a full scholarship to Tufts University for one student each year. This was Nora's out, even though it meant competition against the "golden boy" of Scupper Island, Luke Fletcher. Once Nora won the scholarship, she was blamed with ruining Luke Fletcher's life (he got high after losing the scholarship, crashed a vehicle, walked away unscathed while seriously injuring his brother). Her only option, leave home and start college early. College was just what Nora needed. She lost weight, made friends, found her voice and her calling in life, medicine. Becoming a doctor meant Nora stayed in Boston and away from home, causing further rifts between her mother and sister. Now she's part of a thriving practice in Boston, has a boyfriend, and a loving dog. Getting hit by a van is the final straw that severs her relationship, especially since she overhears her boyfriend trying to make a date while she's lying on a hospital bed. So much for the boyfriend. Nora decides to return to Scupper Island to recuperate. Returning home to her mother and niece sounded like a good idea until she actually got home, now she has to decide what's next in her life. Accepting a temporary job as a physician on the island, Nora finds a few new friends and reconnects with old acquaintances, including the brother of her high school nemesis, Sullivan Fletcher, and his daughter. Can she truly begin again or will her past constantly rear its ugly head to interfere with her present and future?

Now That You Mention It was a fast-paced and enjoyable read. Although there is romance and an HEA (happy-ever-after), the primary focus of the story is Nora and her constant before and afters. Before and after her father left. Before and after she won the scholarship. Before and after she was attacked. Before and after she left her boyfriend. Before and after she returns to Maine. The reader witnesses Nora's emotional growth as well as her relationship development, both the romantic and nonromantic kind. I enjoyed all of the characters in this story, especially Nora's mother, her niece Poe, Sully and Audrey, Ziaowen, and her lovable dog, Boomer. There are sad events within the story, such as Nora's sister being jailed, her father's disappearance, her brutal attack, etc., but Nora finds that she is stronger than she thinks with each event. Don't think Now That You Mention It is all sorrow and romance, it isn't, there's also lots of humor (all I can say is you should look forward to reading the scene with the ham dinner), a bungled dinner party scene, and more. If you're looking for a romantic read that provides something a little different to start off your reading this year, look no further and grab a copy of Now That You Mention It to read.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Read an excerpt here.