Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, July 9, 2018

Kidnapped By a Rogue by Margaret Mallory... A Review

I recently had the good fortune of receiving an eGalley of Kidnapped by a Rogue from author, Margaret Mallory.  Margaret posted on her Facebook page that she was looking for a handful of reviewers and I immediately volunteered! I love her writing and she has never, and I mean never, disappointed me! Her newest novel, out today (Monday, July 9th), is no exception.

Immersing the reader into a story rich in Scottish history and adding a hunky Highlander with a spunky independent lady is only the beginning... you'll find within the pages of Kidnapped by a Rogue, romance, sex, jealousy, deceit, intrigue, secrets, hope, humor and adventure. I loved this book! When I started reading it, I literally could not put it down! It is the 3rd book in a series, but the story stands on its own, so no need to have to read the previous 2 (but after reading this one, you're going to want more!)

Briefly (and without giving too much away) Finn is our hunk, who is a second son, meaning he will not inherit his father's lands. He's an amazing warrior who not only can wield a weapon, but can also wield a pretty good smile and has all the ladies aflutter. (Yes, he's very charming!) In his heart, he just wants a plot of land he can call his own, and it is this desire that causes him to accept a request to kidnap, Lady Margaret...

Well, Margaret is actually in need of kidnapping. Her husband has thrown her out and annulled the marriage (you'll have to read the book to discover why!) and now her older brothers want to marry her off to forge an alliance with anyone that they think will make their clan stronger, but she wants no part of that. So when Margaret finally "meets" Finn, sparks fly for a lot of reasons and Margaret willingly goes... and that's when the real fun begins...

If you enjoy romance, and if find Highlanders sexy as hell, READ THIS! Margaret Mallory's writing is wonderful, her stories are rich in details and are just fun to read. You will fall for Finn and be rooting for Lady Margaret and him to conquer all the obstacles to be together. You'll also be turning those pages as fast as you can! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Great Book Club Selection...

Great book club get together last night! Great friends, great food... AND a GREAT BOOK! It's not very often that we all love a book so much that we all give it a 5 out of 5, but that's what we gave The Secret Wife by Gill Paul last night! Historical fiction at its best! Here's the Goodreads blurb:

A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries... 
Love. Guilt. Heartbreak. 
1914: Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance—and their lives—in danger...
2016: Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret... 
Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.

Thanks author Gill Paul, for a great read! Look for my review coming soon... and in the meantime, check out what Gill Paul shares with her readers about The Secret Wife on Harper Reach.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Still Me by Jojo Moyes... A Review

I laughed, I cried, and I became totally enamored. Jojo Moyes weaves a story filled with love, humor, compassion and the need to be true to oneself. She does this by creating full of life characters that we grow to love and allowing us to still love the characters we've grown close to. I loved this book! Author Jojo Moyes amazes me. How you may ask? Let me tell you...

First, What is the storyline? Still Me is about how beloved character Lousia Clark leaves everything behind, England, her close family, her hunky new paramedic boyfriend Sam and moves across the pond to New York City. She's still trying to live in the moment and experience all life has to offer as her precious deceased love, Will Traynor, Me Before You, has inspired her to do. She accepts a job working for a very wealthy family, who is as dysfunctional as you can imagine and along the way she meets so many wonderful people, all of whom we really get to know because Jojo Moyes knows how to delve deep into the souls of her characters. The pulse of the story centers around the quirky people in the building Louisa works in and New York City itself (and let me tell you, Jojo really captures the sights and sounds of The City! You really feel like you are right beside Louisa as she is walking those streets!) There are a few twists and turns in the juggling act Louisa must do in order to keep her job, her boyfriend and her sanity, but you'll have to read Still Me to find out how that all works out. *Hint... have tissues ready, it's a bumpy, emotional fun-filled ride!

Now how is this story amazing? Well, revisiting a well loved character in a new book can be risky business. We loved Louisa Clark in England and the previous 2 books, Me Before You & After You, we loved character Will Traynor, we even loved Louisa's new love interest Sam, but would we love her moving across the pond? Would this new story pull us in or would we be missing everything Louisa and Jojo Moyes leaves behind in the last two books including those characters? The answer is that author Jojo Moyes does a fantastic job on all counts and Still Me is a wonderful read!

If you love the character Louisa Clark, if you've read the previous 2 books, or just Me Before You, you will love Still Me! If you haven't read the previous adventures of Louisa Clark, you still can enjoy Still Me and will fall in love with quirky, full of heart character Louisa Clark for the first time. In any case, pick up a copy of Still Me by Jojo Moyes and be prepared to be swept up in Louisa's newest adventure! A little romance, a little heartbreak, a lot of fashion and a great story! Coming to your bookstore of choice January 30th! Published by Penguin Random House.

I want to thank Penguin Random House for sending along a review copy of Still Me for an honest review! I loved it!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Interview with Author Jojo Moyes...

Today I'd like to welcome author Jojo Moyes to Chick with Books! She's the wonderful author that pulled at our heartstrings with Me Before You, where we originally fell in love with her character Louisa Clark and a romance that seemed eternal. Jojo has written quite a few books, and a follow-up to Me Before You called After You, but today we wanted to get some insight into her new book coming out the end of January, Still Me, where she brings back the character Louisa Clark in a whole new adventure "across the pond" and ask her a bit about her writing...

In STILL ME, you bring Louisa Clark, the beloved character you created in Me Before You, to New York City. Why the transatlantic journey? 

I really wanted to stretch Louisa in a place where she would be out of her depth. What’s one of the wildest, most metropolitan places you could land a small-town girl? The heart of Manhattan. I have spent a lot of time in the US over the past five years and most trips begin with some time in New York so I have long been viewing the city through alien eyes myself. It’s tough, exciting, challenging, and unforgiving and enormous fun. The perfect backdrop for Lou’s adventure.

NYC is far from Lou’s home in Stotfold, England—what was your research process for finding the places and experiences that Lou enjoys in the Big Apple?

As well as the time I spend on work trips, I came out in October and did a week’s solid research.  I tried to do all the things that I put Lou through—except sleep in a horrible hotel with bedbugs! A friend got me into one of the really exclusive apartment buildings overlooking Central Park, which was invaluable, and the owner then put me in touch with a very experienced realtor who gave me chapter and verse on the realities of living in one of these places. It’s VERY specific, in the same way that it would be if you were a North or South Londoner, and it was important to me that I didn’t get things horribly off-key.

Reading STILL ME is like catching up with an old friend. How did it feel to revisit the story of Lou Clark and some of the other familiar characters, such as Treena and Ambulance Sam?

I absolutely love writing Louisa. By now she does feel like an old friend. It’s really hard sometimes to find your way into a character, and with her it’s like slipping on your favorite clothes. I know her. I know how she would react to any given circumstance. She’s genuine and funny and a bit daft. But what was fun in this book was to really push her forward a bit. She grows up a lot, especially in the last third of the book. I think like many of us she is really still working out who she is.

One character remarks that New York suits Lou. What is it about Lou that makes you want to take her on new experiences? Why do you think she resonates with readers?

I think Lou is very identifiable for a whole raft of people. In Me Before You, it was about being aware that life had somehow slipped away from you and reaching an age and finding yourself leading a very small life—and not being entirely sure how you got there or whether you even wanted to be somewhere else. But in After You a lot of readers seemed to identify with her grieving process—the difficulty of everybody else expecting you to move on and be cheerful and outgoing when you really don’t feel like that at all. Most importantly, Lou is someone who really tries to do the right thing—but often does the wrong thing—which I think makes her like an awful lot of us...

Class divide is a major theme in your books—Lou often finds herself in circles far different from her working-class upbringing, with employment to the Traynors in Me Before You and the Gopniks in STILL ME. Why is this dichotomy important to you and in your writing?

I think in this book it’s much less class than money. All good narratives thrive on tension, and if you push together rich and poor or upper and working class then you have an inbuilt tension in your story. It’s a growing issue in society—the polarization of money and opportunity—and for most people we will only ever have our noses pressed against the window.

At the same time, I think a lot of us now have the lives of very rich people broadcast to us daily—whether they be Kardashians or movie stars, on Instagram or via other social media, which makes that difference more obvious. With Lou, I wanted to ask how it would feel to step into one of those lives.

There is a thread in STILL ME about a public library on the brink of closing in Washington Heights. What significance does the library play in your life and why is it important in the story?

I am passionate about libraries—they are one of the few cost-free resources that offer people not just shelter but the chance to entertain or improve themselves. I spent some time at a library in a very mixed area of Washington Heights where I saw quite how many different functions the public library performed—from a learning opportunity to a safe place, to somewhere people could make job applications, or just escape from their lives for a while. It really worries me how hard libraries are being squeezed in both the UK and the US. There are so few places that don’t require a financial transaction, that really are just about the joy of learning. Once they are gone we won’t get that resource back again.

Another prominent theme in STILL ME is the struggle for women to “have it all.” Louisa finds herself between the pull of New York high society and her life in England; Mrs. De Witt was torn between her fashion career and family life; Agnes struggled to maintain her old friendships after marrying into wealth. Why is a woman’s unique balance to play many roles in life while staying true to herself important to discuss?

When I was a girl I assumed I was the equal to any boy and that I would be treated the same as an adult. For the most part that was the case—until I had children, at which point I discovered that there is always a choice to be made, always a compromise, and that in most cases that belongs to the woman. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who supports my work and does his best to be an equal partner in all ways—but I am a rarity. I know elderly women who had to give up their careers to follow their husbands, and I know younger women who gave up their jobs because their partners couldn’t be home for the children. I hope that one day we can find a way to make this a little more equitable. It’s good for men, too!

Fashion is a significant element in Lou’s story, notably the red dress and bumblebee tights in Me Before You. In STILL ME, Louisa becomes involved with an East Village vintage emporium, and Mrs. De Witt is revealed as a former fashion magazine editor. What is your interest in this world?

Well, most of my friends would laugh at the idea that I was massively interested in fashion. My default uniform is shirt, jumper, jeans, boots. I rarely wear anything else. But it feels like such an integral part of Louisa’s character, and over the past few years I have discovered a love of vintage clothes. I have a number of vintage outfits—and suppliers—and I find them so much more enjoyable, both to buy and wear, than just a chain boutique. It’s partly textural—the work that goes into some of these older clothes—beading, cutting, stitching—is just beautiful. Even I can appreciate it!

In a couple of your books, including STILL ME, you created dogs that, much like your human characters, have distinct personalities and quirks. Why do your animal characters receive such prominent roles?

I guess because animals are such a fundamental part of my own family. We joke that if we didn’t have our animals we’d have nothing to talk about. All our animals have distinct voices that we use for them (for some reason Eric, our shorthair cat, has a Spanish accent, whereas BigDog, our rescue Pyrenean, has a more lugubrious tone). I think anybody who has close contact with an animal knows that they have just as much personality and just as many expressions as humans do. If I’m writing one into a story, I can’t see why it shouldn’t have a fully formed character in the way that a human does.

Your books always evoke a wide range of human emotion—on one page, you leave readers laughing out loud and on the next, reduce them to tears. Is it a difficult process to combine such an accurate portrayal of the comedies and tragedies of life? How do you create such deep characters and storylines?

Thank you! I consider that an enormous compliment. I guess it comes from the fact that I try to write the books I like to read—and if a book can make me laugh or cry then that author earns my undying loyalty. The key to writing them, I think, is that both laughter and tears have to come from a place that is honest—something that feels true to the character. If I know the character then as I write their experiences I feel what they are feeling—it then becomes easier to translate that emotion onto the page.

What was the Me Before You movie experience like? If you were to cast STILL ME, who do you see playing some of the new main characters?

Writing and being part of the filming of Me Before You was, without doubt, the best—and most challenging—experience of my professional life. I was on the steepest learning curve and I worked flat out for months. But I loved the cast and crew and the director, producers and I are still good friends, so it never really felt like work.

If I were to cast STILL ME I would obviously want Emilia Clarke to return as Lou. And having Sam Claflin as Josh would be a lovely way of bringing him back in! I have no idea who would play Margot—but I always saw her as looking a little like Iris Apfel, the famous NY society fashion icon.

What's next? More adventures for Lou?

I’ve been saying no, as I would hate to be seen flogging her to death. But when I think about never writing her again I feel ridiculously sad. Maybe a short story?

About the Author... 
Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and grew up in London. After a varied career including stints as a minicab controller, typer of braille statements for blind people for NatWest, and brochure writer for Club 18-30, she did a degree at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London University. In 1992, she won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University.

Jojo worked as a journalist for ten years, including a year at South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, and nine at The Independent where she worked variously as News Reporter, Assistant News Editor and Arts and Media Correspondent.

Jojo has been a full time novelist since 2002, when her first book, Sheltering Rain was published. Since then she has written a further eleven novels, all of which have been widely critically acclaimed. Jojo has won the Romantic Novelist’s Award twice, and Me Before You has been nominated for Book of the Year at the UK Galaxy Book Awards. Me Before You has since gone on to sell over 8 million copies worldwide.

Presently, Jojo lives (and writes!) on a farm in Essex, England with her husband, journalist Charles Arthur, and their three children.

Look for Jojo Moyes newest book, Still Me, out on January 30th! In the meantime, for more information about Jojo and her books, please visit the webpage here.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Memoir Monday...

Molly's Game by Molly Bloom... From the back cover: When Molly Bloom was a little girl growing up in a small Colorado town, she watched her brothers win medals, ace tests, and receive high praise from everyone they met. Molly wanted nothing more than to bask in that glow a little herself, so she pushed herself too—as a student, as an athlete. She was successful but felt like she was always coming from behind. She wanted to break free, to find a life without rules and limits, a life where she didn't have to measure up to anyone or anything—where she could become whatever she wanted.

Molly wanted more, and she got more than she could have ever bargained for.

In Molly's Game, Molly Bloom takes the reader through her adventures running an exclusive high-stakes private poker game. Her clients ranged from iconic stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck to politicians and financial titans so powerful they moved markets and changed the course of history. With rich detail, Molly describes a world that until now has been shrouded in glamour, privilege, and secrecy, one where she fearlessly took on the Russian and Italian mobs—until she met the one adversary she could not outsmart, even though she had justice on her side: the United States government.

Molly's Game is an incredible coming-of-age story about a young girl who rejected convention in pursuit of her version of the American dream. It's the story of how she gained—and then lost—her place at the table, and of everything she learned about poker, love, and life in the process.

I'm not really sure where I saw this originally. The cover struck me and I had to read what it was about. I thought it was some piece of literary fiction with a central character that had some cat and mouse game going on. But wow, it looks like this definitely is not what I was expecting! Molly Bloom was an olympic class skier, who got involved with high stakes poker that lead her to be arrested by 17 automatic rifle wielding FBI agents in the middle of the night. I'm thinking Orange Is The New Black meets poker. I read an excerpt and really liked the writing! It's now a major motion picture... read the book before the movie! On my TBR list NOW!

Friday, January 12, 2018

First Lines Friday...

“I remember the gunshots made a wet sort of sound, phssh phssh phssh, and each time he hit her she screamed. Do the math and the whole thing probably went on for as long as 10 minutes. I just stood there and watched.”
                                             ...Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates

A Thriller published by Picador and published January 9th!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor... In my eReader now...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Bargain alert! Have you read...

This classic has been on my TBR list for forever. Have you read The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck yet? It's actually part of a trilogy with the first book being The Good Earth, the 2nd book is Sons, and the 3rd book is A House Divided, and if you are quick today, it's at a bargain eBook price of $3.99 at Amazon and B&N!

The Good Earth won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932, and follows the story of Wang Lung, a Chinese peasan farmer, and his wife, O-lan, a former slave...
"With luck and hard work, the couple’s fortunes improve over the years: They are blessed with sons, and save steadily until one day they can afford to buy property in the House of Wang—the very house in which O-lan used to work. But success brings with it a new set of problems. Wang soon finds himself the target of jealousy, and as good harvests come and go, so does the social order. Will Wang’s family cherish the estate after he’s gone? nThe family’s story continues in Sons and A House Divided, when the Revolution sweeping through China further unsettles Wang Lung’s family in this rich and unforgettable portrait of a family and a country in the throes of widespread national change."
There was a bit of controversy surrounding as to the authenticity of an American author writing about Chinese culture and the struggles of this Chinese family. But the parents of Pearl S. Buck were missionaries in China and Pearl had spent her childhood growing up there and remained there until she was seventeen. She then went off to college, but soon returned to China, married John Lossing Buck, who was in China teaching American farming techniques. Because of all of this, Pearl had an intimate and sympathetic view of the Chinese and wrote from the heart.

I can't resist a bargain, so I downloaded the trilogy! Use the links above to get your Kindle or Nook eBooks! But act fast, who knows when the bargain prices expire, AND always check the price before you hit the "buy" button!

*Update... The Bargain Sale is officially over as of 1/10, just one day later, and the price is now $23.99! 

Happy reading... Suzanne

Monday, January 8, 2018

In My Mailbox... Great Books Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You!

In My Mailbox... Getting back into the swing of things this week, with lots of packing to go, but needing to sit down and relax with some great reading! I'm a little over half way thru Still Me by Jojo Moyes, which is such a good read, but I wanted to share some great books I've received in my mailbox (or actually in my eReader because all of the books this week are eGalleys!). I decided I would join in on the fun sharing them with you and the other bloggers participating in Mailbox Monday!

Mailbox Monday is a weekly event for bloggers to share what books arrived in their mailboxes. Mailbox Monday was originally created by Marcia of To Be Continued and is now hosted by Vicki, Serena and Leslie at Mailbox Monday's own blog.

So, here are the books...

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin... It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.

Melanie Benjamin knows how to weave historical fiction into a story we become totally absorbed in! Looking forward to starting this book soon. Coming out January 16th and published by Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine, Delacorte Press.

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian... Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She's a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police - she's a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home - Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it's too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did? 

I Love Chris Bohjalian and this sounds like a thriller I can sink my teeth in! Coming out March 13th and published by Doubleday Books!

The Night Child by Anna Quinn... Nora Brown teaches high school English and lives a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl’s face appears above the students’ desks—“a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora’s body—the kind of raw terror you feel when there’s no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire—when you think you might die.”

Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. Shaken and unsteady, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered—a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown.

This sounds so crazy good! It's gotten some great reviews too! And this is Anna Quinn's debut. Coming out January 30th and published by Blackstone Publishing.
my read shelf:
Suzanne's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)