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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

2019 Book 307: SECRETS OF THE CHOCOLATE HOUSE by Paula Brackston

Secrets of the Chocolate House, Found Things #2, by Paula Brackston 
ISBN: 9781250072443 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781466884113 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250242143 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07PHV8NMD (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07PBP38Q7 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 22, 2019 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press



The second novel in a bewitching series "brimming with charm and charisma" that will make "fans of Outlander rejoice!" (Woman's World Magazine)

New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston's The Little Shop of Found Things was called "a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments" (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with its sequel, Secrets of the Chocolate House.

After her adventures in the seventeenth century, Xanthe does her best to settle back into the rhythm of life in Marlborough. She tells herself she must forget about Samuel and leave him in the past where he belongs. With the help of her new friends, she does her best to move on, focusing instead on the success of her and Flora's antique shop.

But there are still things waiting to be found, still injustices needing to be put right, still voices whispering to Xanthe from long ago about secrets wanting to be shared.

While looking for new stock for the shop, Xanthe hears the song of a copper chocolate pot. Soon after, she has an upsetting vision of Samuel in great danger, compelling her to make another journey to the past.

This time she'll meet her most dangerous adversary. This time her ability to travel to the past will be tested. This time she will discover her true destiny. Will that destiny allow her to return home? And will she be able to save Samuel when his own fate seems to be sealed? 





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Xanthe Westlake and her mother, Flora, moved to Marlborough to open their antique shop in Marlborough in The Little Shop of Found Things. Readers discovered that Xanthe has the uncanny ability to hear objects "sing" to her and then travel through time. In the first book, she traveled back to the seventeenth century at the behest of a ghost and a chatelaine to protect the life of an unknown girl. Whilst there, she met and fell in love with a local builder/architect, Samuel Appleby. Samuel helped her to prove the girl's innocence and thus gain her freedom, but Xanthe knew that they were two people out of step with one another. She had obligations in her time and couldn't stay in the seventeenth century and Samuel had his own obligations and couldn't travel through time with her. There was nothing for her to do but leave him behind. Now, Xanthe has discovered a hoard of chocolate pots and one pot in particular is singing to her and the song seems tied to her beloved. The only thing Xanthe knows is that she must once again travel back in time and do whatever she can to help Samuel, but this time is not quite like the first. This time she meets other time spinners and one is willing to do whatever takes to learn just how Xanthe manages to control walking back-and-forth through time. Unfortunately, this time spinner also holds the fate of Samuel's life in his hands. Can Xanthe free her beloved from this tyrannical time spinner without damaging his reputation and livelihood? Can she provide the answers this time spinner seeks without violating the time spinner code? Can she do all of this while keeping her mother safe and unaware of her time traveling? And if that's not enough to deal with, can she handle all of this drama and deal with the reemergence of her former boyfriend and drug dealer, Marcus in her new hometown or will he finally accept "not interested" and "get lost" as her final answers?

Obviously, I had to take time to read The Little Shop of Found Things before reading Secrets of the Chocolate House. Glad I did because it provides the backstory for Xanthe and her mother. By the way, did I forget to mention that Xanthe's mother, Flora, is suffering from debilitating arthritis and going through a somewhat acrimonious divorce from Xanthe's father? Also, Xanthe served a few months in prison on drug charges because of her former boyfriend and his drug dealing and he refused to step up out of fear he might go to prison (what a guy!). There's a lot going on in both The Little Shop of Found Things and Secrets of the Chocolate House but for those of you that enjoy time travel stories with hints of romance, then I strongly encourage you to read these books! (Might I suggest drinking plenty of hot chocolate whilst reading Secrets of the Chocolate House, seems appropriate doesn't it?) I thoroughly enjoyed all of the drama from the contemporary and historical timelines. I liked all of the characters, except for Marcus and the tyrannical time spinner, Benedict Fairfax. There are bad guys in these stories and horrible guys in these stories. Some get their comeuppance and others seem to walk away (you'll need to read the books to learn which does what). I rather enjoyed the fact that Xanthe doesn't really know what she should do and constantly struggles to find the answers. She's a bit quirky but she has pluck and perseverance. Secrets of the Chocolate House has plenty of returning characters and it was nice to get to know them a bit better, such as Gerri the tea and pastry shop owner, Harley the publican, and Liam the mechanic. It was also nice to revisit Samuel in the seventeenth century and get to know some new characters, such as Mistress Flyte - the owner of the chocolate shop and an experienced but retired time spinner, and Edmund - the worker at the chocolate shop. I've enjoyed reading previous books by Ms. Brackston and can't wait for the next book in the Found Things series. For now, I'll be content with rereading The Little Shop of Found Things and Secrets of the Chocolate House while I wait. Just in case you couldn't tell, I really enjoyed Secrets of the Chocolate House and am eager to see what happens next for Xanthe and friends.



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."

Friday, October 11, 2019

Book Spotlight: READ AND BURIED by Eva Gates



Read and Buried:

A Lighthouse Library Mystery
by Eva Gates


About Read and Buried


Read and Buried: A Lighthouse Library Mystery

Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Crooked Lane Books (October 15, 2019)
Hardcover: 325 Pages
ISBN-10: 1643852337
ISBN-13: 9781643852331
Digital ISBN: 9781643852348
Digital ASIN: B07P9MQV3F




Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo eBooks



Librarian Lucy Richardson unearths a mysterious map dating back to the Civil War. But if she can't crack its code, she may end up read and buried.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library's foundations. The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit. Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code.
The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact. Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library. Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library--the map and the coded page are missing.
Lucy's nemesis, Louise Jane McKaughnan, confesses to entering the library after closing to sneak a peek but denies seeing Jeremy--or his killer. When Lucy discovers that fellow-librarian Charlene had a past with Jeremy, she's forced to do what she vowed not to do--get involved in the case. Meanwhile, the entire library staff and community become obsessed with trying to decode the page. But when the library has a second break in, it becomes clear that someone is determined to solve that code.


About Eva Gates



Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Vicki Delany is one of Canada's most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane.

Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Author Links

         
  • Website: www.vickidelany.com www.facebook.com/evagatesauthor;


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  • Twitter: @vickidelany @evagatesauthor


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    Tuesday, October 8, 2019

    Book Showcase: IF I HAD TWO LIVES by Abbigail Rosewood



    If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail N. Rosewood
    ISBN: 9781609455217 (paperback)
    ISBN: 9781609455224 (ebook)
    ASIN: B07JP1LFS3 (Kindle edition)
    Publisher:  Europa Editions
    Release Date: April 9, 2019


    This luminous debut novel follows a young woman from her childhood in Vietnam to her life as an immigrant in the United States – and her necessary return to her homeland.

    As a child, isolated from the world in a secretive military encampment with her distant mother, she turns for affection to a sympathetic soldier and to the only other girl in the camp, forming two friendships that will shape the rest of her life.

    As a young adult in New York, cut off from her native country and haunted by the scars of her youth, she is still in search of a home. She falls in love with a married woman who is the image of her childhood friend, and follows strangers because they remind her of her soldier. When tragedy arises, she must return to Vietnam to confront the memories of her youth – and recover her identity.

    An inspiring meditation on love, loss, and the presence of a past that never dies, the novel explores the ancient question: do we value the people in our lives because of who they are, or because of what we need them to be?






    Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo eBooks




    Read An Excerpt

    Chapter 9

    We started to plan our escape. Exactly what prompted our decision, I wasn't sure, only we didn't like that the old black and blues on our bodies didn't fade completely before new ones were pressed on top of them. We started to fear that if we stayed, our skin would eventually turn a dark purple, an ill-fitting shade for us both. Boyfriends would be nearly impossible then. The beatings, different in the way they were administered and in the reasons why, looked the same on our skin.

    After having gone out with my soldier, I confirmed to the little girl that our camp wasn't completely isolated. When we broke out of the camp, we would follow the river upstream to town. There was a market and a shack with a mean boy as a guard. I didn't think he would let us stay there. We would have to beg or sell lottery tickets until we had enough for a bus pass to the city. Unlike in our usual games, we didn't think about the what-ifs, the endless ways we could fail. Failure to make it out of the camp: get caught, get lost, or starve. I feared a great number of things, but voicing them was useless. The little girl was set on leaving.

    I didn't tell the little girl what my soldier had said about me moving away, even though it had been on my mind ever since. I had thought myself perfectly content until another option was presented to me. The United States seemed a contradictory place, where a girl my soldier once knew had gone, where he too wanted to go. It was a place that made one person's dream and shattered another's, my soldier had told me. Half of me believed in running away from the camp with the little girl, but the other half wanted to go to New York more than anything.

    At the camp, time didn't seem to move forward linearly, instead scattering itself all around us. Everything was horizontal. In the morning, I ate breakfast and studied at my desk. In the evening, I followed the little girl around. At night, I fell asleep next to Mother while she worked on her laptop. I'd forgotten how many birthdays I'd celebrated since I'd been here. I didn't know my age.

    All I knew was I didn't want to be a girl forever. I wanted to know the adult loneliness my soldier talked about. There were occasions when he would treat me as an equal, a friend. Unlike Mother, he had never yelled at me or assumed my ignorance. A mutual understanding eclipsed our relationship. I knew he shared with me things he wouldn't talk about to anyone else, even other adults. He valued my intuition. It was a gift, he had said. Though I didn't know what he meant, I promised myself I would nourish and strengthen it.

    In New York, I knew from my soldier that there were many tall buildings. One floor added on top of another and the buildings grew vertically until they reached the sky. There would be a sense of time passing.

    Though I longed for something new, anything other than the camp, I continued to participate in the little girl's plan. If anything, I was more enthusiastic than before. Usually, it was the little girl who could create anything with her mind. This time it was I who talked wildly about our journey as vagabonds. The knowledge that I didn't have to carry out the plans freed me. It was then that I first became aware of her as an entity outside myself who could be deceived and manipulated.

    We were standing in front of the brick wall, where the little girl had waved to me for the first time. We hadn't played this game in a long time—pretend to build our own protected city. That night, we began to stack the bricks in the same way the little girl had shown me when we became friends. I told her the story of the silhouettes again and again, embellishing details and smudging facts. She was captivated. I even suggested that one of these women was her mother. 

    She bit her lips as she worked. Then she stopped and frowned in a way that made her whole face crumble. When I saw that she was shaking her head, I quickly corrected myself. I didn't want to take it too far. 

    "Maybe it wasn't her. Could be anyone," I said. 

    "No, it's her." She shook her head again as if to empty her thoughts. 

    "What if it's not?" I said. 

    "I want to see her. I want to go there," she said and sat down on the wall we'd made. 

    "If that's what you want."

    "Will you come with me?" she said, not looking at me.

    "Anywhere." I said.

    It seemed like the sky could not get any darker, but it did, as if the light was drained out of it. The little girl asked if there were no sun ever again, would I miss it? I told her of course, I would. I would miss anything I couldn't ever have again. We couldn't see well in the sudden blackness so we looked up at the stars. I tried to make out the little girl's face. The sky had wrapped her up in its millions of shimmering lights. I reached out my hand and touched her face. She was as cold as night. 

    A few months after the shopping trip, Mother showed me a photo of her friend in a newspaper. One side of her face was dented. Where her eye was supposed to be was a smear of skin oozing pus and blood. Her good eye was wide-open, staring right at me. I dropped the newspaper to the ground and ran to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and pulled on my cheeks. Everything was intact. When I came out, Mother was sitting on the floor, looking at the photo. She tilted her head left and right alternately. 

    "She used to be my secretary. She was also a talented singer," Mother said. She covered her face. "I hardly recognize her. Come here." 

    I lay down on the floor and put my head in her lap. 

    "The article says she was found unconscious on the street. They knew the news would reach me. It's not safe here anymore. I'm making arrangements for you to go to the United States. When it's right, I'll join you." 

    I started to cry. I was afraid of losing her again. She petted my temple, scratched my back. Her touch felt alien. 

    "Is she dead?" I asked.

    "No. That's the punishment." 

    On the news, India conducted three atomic tests despite worldwide disapproval. Pakistan responded with five nuclear tests. In the US, Clinton ordered air strikes against Iraq. A gay student was beaten to death. Vietnam dealt with the occasional protests from dissatisfied peasants and non-Party intellectuals. Corruption plagued and inhibited the country's socio-economic advancement. Mother had taught me how to be callused to the tragedies of the world, or at least act as if I was. Nothing seemed important compared to the picture of the young woman, which invaded all aspects of my imagination. Whenever I closed my eyes, everyone I'd ever known had a bloody face, smashed teeth, broken jaw bones that jutted out and then were bent backward by an invisible hand to puncture their throat. Yet danger in my mother's mouth was more like a violent film than anything real. Danger was the idea of running away with the little girl. Danger was the pleasure and shame I felt when my soldier's gaze was on my back the first time I tried on a bra. 

    Life went on normally while Mother silently searched for ways to send me abroad. I developed an irrepressible rage around animals, who I used to love. I had the urge to grab the necks of stray dogs and squeeze them. I kicked my pet chicken when she tried to get near me so that I wouldn't do worse things to hurt her. I hated anything that was helpless and weaker than myself. 

    That appetite for physical harm was so strong that I went to the pond one day by myself. It was barely morning. The sun had just broken through the sky. I crept out of bed so that I wouldn't wake Mother. In the foyer, yellow and orange dust pirouetted around in elaborate patterns. I opened the door and left. Overcome by fear and excitement, I'd forgotten to put on shoes. It was better that way. I didn't want anybody to ask where I was going. The pond was north of the community's kitchen and next to the dumpsters. Adults had warned me never to swim there. The water was extremely toxic from years of being the dumpsite for oil and a medley of liquid waste from the kitchen. It was incomprehensible how fish still survived there. Nobody would eat fish from that pond. 

    I crunched up my pants to above my knees and inched toward the syrupy water. When the water was up to my thigh, I stopped walking. I could feel many fish around my ankles. They were not afraid of me. Maybe if they bit me, I would grow hideous scales on my legs. I reached down to catch them. They were fast, dispersing as soon as my hand shot down into the thick water. I couldn't see anything so I waited until they came back. They always did, circling my legs rapidly. After a while, my whole body was soaked and itchy. Still I didn't catch any fish, but I kept trying, growling to myself. I must have been making noises out loud. 

    "Hey, kid," someone said. 

    I didn't know how long he had been standing there by the kitchen's back door. His apron was as ragged as the rest of his clothes. He was smoking a cigarette. 

    "What are you doing, kid? You won't catch any fish that way." He came toward me and threw his cigarette in the pond. I'd been caught. I decided that not saying anything would be my best way out.

    "I wouldn't recommend eating them either. They'll make you sick. Unless you fry them really well. I mean, you need to fry them down to the bones. Then you can eat them." He bent down and rolled up the cuffs of his pants. "I've been that hungry before. I've been so hungry once I ate a cockroach. I guess these fish can't be any worse." 

    "You ate cockroaches?" I couldn't help myself. 

    "Not cockroaches. A cockroach, kid. There's a big difference. Hang on." He scurried off toward the kitchen and came back a few a minutes later with a colander in his hand. 

    I felt the water beat harder against my waist as he came toward me. 

    "What did it taste like?" 

    "Oh, not much really. A bit like licorice." He submerged the metal colander into the water. "Now we wait." 

    When he pulled the colander out, two little fish were flopping inside. Their bones were visible through their skin. 

    "What do you want with them?" he said. 

    "To make them die."

    "Kill them you mean. And then cook them?" 

    "No." 

    "Listen, I can't take any part in that unless it's for a good cause. If you're not cooking the fish, maybe we can say it's mercy killing, okay? Okay. And it is. God, what a shitty pond. What a shitty life. Let's put them out of their misery." 

    We dragged ourselves out of the water. I scooped a fish up inside my palm. It didn't struggle, its heart throbbing lightly against my finger. The man pulled a cigarette from his shirt pocket and lit it. My fingers pressed in slowly against its slippery flesh. I smeared the dead fish on the ground between us. It smelled the way the pond did, but not any different alive than dead. 

    "Here." He handed me the colander and looked away. I took the other fish and threw it back to the pond. 

    "One. I only wanted to kill one," I said. 

    "You only wanted to rescue one," he said. 


    Excerpt from If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail Rosewood.  
    Copyright © 2019 by Abbigail Rosewood. 
    Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.



    Meet the author


    Abbigail N. Rosewood was born in Vietnam, where she lived until the age of twelve. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. An excerpt from her first novel won first place in the Writers Workshop of Asheville Literary Fiction Contest. She lives in New York City.



    Connect with the author via Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, and her website.  




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    Thursday, October 3, 2019

    Book Spotlight: LOST CHILD by Torey Hayden



    About Lost Child


    • Paperback: 352 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 24, 2019)


    The first new book from the beloved therapist and writer Torey Hayden in almost fifteen years—an inspiring, uplifting tale of a troubled child and the remarkable woman who made a difference.


    In a forgotten corner of Wales, a young girl languishes in a home for troubled children. Abandoned by her parents because of her violent streak, Jessie—at the age of ten—is at risk of becoming just another lost soul in the foster system.

    Precocious and bold, Jessie is convinced she is possessed by the devil and utterly unprepared for the arrival of therapist Torey Hayden. Armed with patience, compassion, and unconditional love, Hayden begins working with Jessie once a week. But when Jessie makes a stunning accusation against one of Hayden's colleagues – a man Hayden implicitly trusts – Hayden's work doubles: now she must not only get to the root of Jessie's troubles but also find out if what the girl alleges is true.
    A moving, compelling, and inspiring account, Lost Child is a powerful testament once again of Torey Hayden’s extraordinary ability to reach children who many have given up on—and a reminder of how patience and love can ultimately prevail.


    Purchase Links


    HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble




    About Torey Hayden


    Born in Montana, USA, Torey Hayden has spent most of her adult life working with children in distress. Now living in Great Britain, she divides her time between writing and volunteer work with several British charities. Torey is the author of numerous internationally best-selling books about her experiences as a special education teacher and therapist. She has also written two novels and two children's books.

    Find her at www.torey-hayden.com and connect with her on Facebook.





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    Tuesday, October 1, 2019

    Book Spotlight: THE PRICE OF GRACE by Diana Muñoz Stewart

    The Price of Grace, Black Ops Confidential #2/Band of Sisters #2, by Diana Muñoz Stewart
    ISBN: 9781492694090 (paperback)
    ISBN: 9781728206714 (ebook)
    ISBN: 9781977372468 (audiobook)
    ASIN: B07QTCV5NH (Kindle edition)
    Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
    Release Date: September 24, 2019


    Who can you trust
    When family, truth, and love are all on the line?

    Gracie Parish knows the true cost of trust. Rescued as a child by the infamous Parish family, she became a member of their covert sisterhood of vigilantes. Gracie saw her most precious relationships destroyed by secrecy. She learned long ago to protect her heart as well as her family's secrets.

    Special Agent Leif "Dusty" McAllister will do anything to uncover the truth about the Parish family's covert operations. Dusty knows Gracie is his ticket in. He'll use everything he's got—fair, unfair, and just plain wrong—to break through her defenses. But the more he gets to know Gracie and her family's mission, the harder he starts to fall. Neither one is sure they'll get out of this with their lives—or their hearts—intact.





    Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo eBooks  |  Kobo Audiobook



    Praise for the Black Ops Confidential Series

    "Witty, dangerous, fun, and smoking hot."
    —Cindy Dees, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author regarding I Am Justice


    "A high-octane...satisfying roller-coaster ride. Stewart's talent shines."
    Publishers Weekly regarding The Price of Grace


    "Spellbinding, sizzling. Unsurpassed romantic suspense."
    —Patricia Gussin, New York Times bestselling author regarding I Am Justice



    Meet the author


    Armed with a razor-sharp wit and a rolled-up MFA in Creative Writing, Diana Muñoz Stewart cartwheel-kicked her way into publishing with her fiery Black Ops Confidential series. Washington Independent Review of Books called the series' award-winning debut, "original, impressive" a "rollicking good ride" and "high-octane."

    Muñoz Stewart's work has been a BookPage Top 15 Romance of 2018, a Night Owl Top Pick, A BookPage Top Pick, and an Amazon Book of the Month. A 2014 Pages From The Heart Winner, 2015 Golden Heart® Finalist, 2016 Daphne du Maurier Finalist, and a 2016 Gateway to the Best Winner, Diana Muñoz Stewart is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.

    Diana lives in an often chaotic and always welcoming home that—depending on the day—can hold husband, kids, extended family, friends, and a canine or two. A believer in the power of words to heal, connect, and distract from chores, Diana blogs regularly on topics near and dear to her heart, including spotlight pieces on strong women from around the world. When not writing, Diana can be found kayaking, doing sprints up her long driveway—harder than it sounds–attempting yoga on her deck, or hiking with the man who's had her heart since they were teens.


    Connect with the author via GoodreadsFacebookInstagram Twitter,  and her website



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